Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The deafening silence

One of the Scottish Labour party's more endearing qualities is their constant howling for people to resign. Indeed, the struggling little band of loyalists seem to consider a day without screeching that an SNP minister is sacked to be a day wasted.

In the three SNP governments since Labour fell in 2007, they have called for the resignation of almost every minister. 

The party called Alex Salmond "unfit to lead", and demanded he step down for opposing air-strikes on schools and hospitals. Interestingly, a Liberal MP called Alistair Carmichael, who I must assume is no relation to the corrupt MP and former Scottish Secretary who was recently unmasked as a grubby liar and shabby electoral cheat, also called on Salmond to resign as an MP because, er, reasons.

He's not the only ex-SNP leader and Cabinet minister from whom Labour has demanded a resignation: violent dipsomaniac and convicted criminal George Foulkes (a Labour member of the nobility) demanded the resignation of John Swinney as SNP leader, while the Iain Gray, who appears to be a member of a comedy troupe but is actually the unionist finance spokesman, later threatened to use Parliamentary procedure to force Swinney out of his job because Labour's Jack McConnell had let the Scottish Parliament's tax-varying powers lapse.

And of course, in 2010, Labour MP Ian Davidson demanded the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon as Health Secretary for lobbying on behalf of one of her constituents. His electorate enjoyed this little episode so much that they threw him out this month.

Fiona Hyslop, the Education Secretary, was also a target for Labour, with then-leader Iain Gray squealing for her to be sacked during a 2009 episode of First Minister's Questions. Subsequently, then-Education spokesman Hugh Henry also demanded the sacking of her successor, Michael Russell.

Even last year, the culture of forgiveness seemed not to have affected Labour, as they called on Kenny MacAskill to resign, a demand called a "pathetic stunt" by then-First Minister Alex Salmond. Richard Baker also called on the unfortunate Justice Secretary to be sacked for the Satanic and devilish practice of going to a meeting in Canada.

And the same Baker also demanded the sacking of Richard Lochhead as Environment Secretary on the grounds that he had campaigned on a local issue which the Cabinet had rejected. 

If you've lost count, incidentally, that is the Scottish Labour party calling for the resignation of every single Cabinet minister from the Third Parliament. 

They have demanded the sacking of Transport minister, Stewart Stevenson, on the grounds that it had snowed heavily. In Scotland. In December. In the same year, the party demanded the sacking of wine fan Roseanna Cunningham, now the Employment Secretary, saying she was "simply not fit to hold office" for the heinous crime of asking for a path to be put on a map. 

In 2008, it was now-Transport Secretary Keith Brown who Labour were calling to be sacked (this time, for being "partisan")

Last year, they demanded the resignation of the Health Secretary, Alex Neil for intervening to keep an hospital open.

Since the collapse of the Labour party in Scotland in 2007 and the subsequent unbroken period of rule by the National party, through two separate Parliaments and two different First Ministers, the only Cabinet ministers Labour have not demanded sacked are Michael Matheson, Shona Robison and Angela Constance - three people who have been in the Cabinet only since last year.

It's odd that they have been deafeningly silent on the crimes of their fellow Better Together man, Alistair Carmichael. One would have thought, given their propensity to demand resignations and their belief that A Sacking Call A Day Keeps The Nats Away, they would have relished the struggles of an MP for what remains, ostensibly, a rival party. Christ, Daily Mail columnist and sometime Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale can even find the time to call for the Nationalists to sack a parliamentary candidate!

Perhaps their voices are all lost in a summer flu bug. Or perhaps their phones have run out of credit. Maybe they're all on holiday! Or could it be, that for Scottish Labour, the preservation of the Union matters to them much more than anything else - and it's not worth rocking the boat. Even to defeat a guy who served David Cameron with slavish devotion for years. 

Monday, 25 May 2015

A liar and a cheat

The publication of the report into the Lettre Zinovieff affair, in which Paris was forced to make an unprecedented intervention in a Westminster election campaign and which almost caused a diplomatic incident, was delayed until after the election, and then sneaked out on a Bank Holiday weekend by the Cabinet Office, designed to slip under the radar. And to be fair, the Scottish media is helping it do just that, with Reporting Scotland consistently refusing to mention it. 

The report identified Alistair Carmichael, then the Scottish Secretary, as the man who authorised the "leak" of a document to the Tory-supporting Daily Telegraph newspaper which fraudulently claimed that First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, supported the re-election of David Cameron as British prime minister in a conversation with the French ambassador. The newspaper ran the story without its now-discredited Scottish political reporter Simon Johnson running the most rudimentary journalistic good practice of contacting either principal in the story to confirm it. Within minutes of the fake story breaking, Johnson was humiliated as first Sturgeon, then the French ambassador, denounced it as a lie. 

The problem for Carmichael - whose continued position as an MP is being supported, in a less-than-surprising development, by the Tories and Labour - is that a precedent set after the last Westminster election states that any candidate in an election who knowingly lies in the campaign can have his election voided and the contest re-run under Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act. This happened to a Labour government minister, Phil Woolas, in 2010 - his election in Oldham was voided, he was banned from Parliament for three years, and he was suspended from the Labour Party. Another Labour councillor, one Miranda Grell, has a criminal conviction under the same Section. On the surface, it would seem clear that an Election Court would void Carmichael's election on the basis that he had knowingly made false statements during the campaign, and that this had a material effect on the result inasmuch as that he won by 817 votes. Would 409 electors have switched from Carmichael to his opponent, Danus Skene, if they had known that the disgraced Carmichael was a liar, a fraudster, a fabricator and a cheat? 

The expulsion of the discredited deputy leader of the Scottish Liberals from Westminster would leave the party without a single MP in Scotland. And while Willie Rennie refuses to take any action against Carmichael on the basis that he "deserves a second chance" - using much the same logic which saw the Liberals shelter Cyril Smith for decades - the electorate will see it as grubby, self-serving, and aimed only at keeping his mate at the trough. It is a dilemma for Rennie - losing Carmichael will mean no Liberal MPs in Scotland, but keeping him in post will probably lead to Tavish Scott (the party's only constituency MSP) losing the equivalent Holyrood seat in May, and may lead to an even-greater backlash against the party, leaving them with zero MSPs, and essentially defunct in Scotland. 

There remain questions to be answered. 

Suspicions remain about exactly when Willie Rennie became aware that his deputy's office had fabricated a memorandum and ordered it to be leaked to a Tory-supporting newspaper. If Rennie was aware and did nothing - just like David Steel with Cyril Smith - then that is a matter for resignation, not just as leader of the Liberal party, but also from Parliament. His continued talent for making an absolute arse of every situation he finds himself in, whether it's publishing racist cartoons on his website or covering up for a liar, a fraudster and a cheat, continues to awe.

Similarly, David Mundell, now the Scottish Secretary but at the time Carmichael's deputy in the Scottish Office, must admit when he became aware of the memo. Is it conceivable that two men working closely with each other in the same department, both of whom had a vested personal, political and financial interest in causing political damage to the victim of the fake memo, didn't at any stage discuss the matter?

And of course where there is ineptitude and corruption, there is the struggling Scottish Labour party. They had tweets, graphics and video ready unfeasibly quickly in reaction to a breaking "story" late on a weekend evening. One might even think that they were already primed and waiting to go. We'll never know. They will, though. And the grubby, smearing - now-deleted - tweets from the likes of Daily Mail columnist and fanatical loyalist Kezia Dugdale, Better Together boss and Jim Murphy fanboy Blair "Bunter" McDougall, and the other usual suspects, should be a matter of apology. 

Members of Parliament are quick to tell us that conversations between journalists and police officers should be a matter of public record. Perhaps it is time that contacts between political parties and journalists should also be logged. It might stop events like this: the deliberate smearing of a woman who wasn't even standing in the election, for the personal fiscal and political gain of a cross-party gang of Establishment bullies. 

Schadenfreude renders it satisfying that Carmichael's career has collapsed in ruins, humiliating a man whose lengthy political career will now only be remembered for working for the Tories and being a liar and cheat. But it has real political implications: the loss of the only Liberal seat in the Commons from Scotland delegitimises one of the three London parties and weakens the union just a little more. It now rests on the shoulders of the Labour MP for Morningside, a Tory government minister, and a less-than-sparkling array of talent on the Unionist benches in Holyrood which seems certain to be denuded yet further in May.

In launching a conspiracy to try to smear and damage the National party and its leader, Alistair Carmichael has brought the end of the British state a little closer. Cheers, Ally. Your constituents deserve better than an MP who's a liar and a cheat, but you've done the Scottish cause some service through your ineptitude. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Why SSP members should vote against the Left Project

On Saturday, members of the Scottish Socialist party will gather in Edinburgh to decide on the continued existence of the SSP. 

Those who have demanded that joining the Scottish Left Project be put onto the agenda rather than, say, fighting the Tories' austerity plans, working for nuclear disarmament, or increasing the number of Socialist votes in Scotland ahead of the Holyrood general election, might not like it described that way - but that is what it is. 

The SSP has been established for 17 years now (that's almost twice as long as the SDP, to give an idea of how impressive that longevity is), having achieved parliamentary representation and still with representation at local authority level. Its success in the early part of the century is the blueprint for getting small parties into parliament, with the likelihood of being able to play an influential role in policy. Despite never being in coalition, many of the SSP's signature manifesto commitments from the Second and Third parliaments have been implemented (such as free school meals and tuition fee-free higher education).

It's an unarguable fact that a united Left in Scotland will be able to achieve greater success in Scotland than a fractured divided Left. But that's not what's being argued for on Saturday. 

When I was on the SSP's Executive Committee, I saw how some individuals in the nascent Left Project operated. Rather than making an honest approach to the SSP as a whole, they secretly went round individual members, picking them off one-by-one, and getting them to sign the Left Project's declaration without the knowlege of the SSP. It was viewed - is viewed - as very much the wrong way to go about doing business, and is a huge part of the reason why the Left Project is viewed with extreme suspicion by many SSP members. 

One individual in particular, who had abandoned the SSP for years and whose only contribution to it in at least seven years was to go round anyone who would listen and tell them the SSP was finished, seems to have spent the last two years systematically and deliberately undermining the SSP; slithering around its membership trying to poach young SSP members in Glasgow to a new branch (of which, natürlich, the individual in question was in total control) whose only purpose is to bring the SSP under the Left Project's control by presenting it as a fait accomplit to Conference.

The main objection, as far as I can see, is that the Left Project seems want to consume the SSP. They claim to want to work with the SSP, but refused, for the most part, to join it. 

And, far from being a broad front of the Left as is being claimed, it seems to have targeted the SSP specifically and solely. If it was to be a broad Left electoral front, why is there no negotiations with, for example, the Scottish Green Party? Last year, there were lengthy negotiations between the Greens and SSP about a Red/Green alliance for the European parliamentary elections (albeit they ultimately failed). The people pushing the Left Project didn't ask to be part of that broad Left front then: why now?

If it is to be an electoral alliance, what sort of electoral alliance will it be? Will it be the first Holyrood election ever in which the SSP is prevented from using its name? Because if the Left Project broadly refuses to join the SSP, is it likely they will stand under an SSP banner in the election? 

Or is it, as I suspect, to be a repetition of the famous SDP/Liberal sketch in which each of the two gets to pick a single word from its name to make up the name to be on the ballot papers: from the LP, "Left", and from the SSP, "Party"?

What currency will they use? Will they be in the European Union? Shit, hold on, that line was from September.

The Scottish Left Project says it's not a political party. But it wants to compete in a general election next May. It doesn't have a constitution. It doesn't have a manifesto. There is less than a year until the general election. Is the aim to consume the historically-established and successful SSP, a party which has grown exponentially during and since the referendum.

RIC was a huge success during the referendum. But it was a campaigning organisation, a great one, not a political party. Now, I'm not saying that there aren't problems with the SSP. A derisory vote at the Westminster election was likely caused in the main by being squeezed by the SNP being seen as the "Yes party". And the continuing (and not entirely inaccurate perception) that it remains less a political party and more of a social club for ex-Militant members is an issue - albeit one that is lessening as the influx continues of new members born after the Militant years. However, those are minor issues compared to the main necessity - to provide a strong Left-wing voice in Scottish politics. 

The SSP has done that before. It would be an act of almost unforgivable folly for SSP members to vote to throw everything the party has worked towards for almost two decades away on Saturday in favour of joining an untried group with little organisation and - as far as I can see - no tactical or political vision further than "SYRIZA are cool. It would be bantz if Scotland could have something like that". 

Instead of re-entryism, wouldn't it, in fact, make more sense to reverse the position (and if Left unity is the overarching point of this move on Saturday as is claimed, that surely wouldn't be a problem) and have the smaller Left Project join the SSP as an internal platform?

It's too close to the election to try and start a new political option from scratch. If I was going to the SSP conference on Saturday instead of getting pissed in Blackpool, I would recommend that SSP members vote against joining the Left Project. It doesn't have to stay out forever, but a bit of breathing space to debate motivation and tactics would certainly seem to me to be the sensible option here.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Democracy - American style

One of the main reasons I wanted to see Ed Miliband become British prime minister is that he was clear in the final TV debate that the United Kingdom's subservient relationship to the United States would not continue, and that his default position would not necessarily be that of the United States government. 

I suspect that this development was not an inconsiderable factor in the hysterical attacks against him by the print media and the BBC in the final weeks of the campaign. 

The United States has jealously guarded its position as the world's only superpower, and is ruthless in its actions to remain so - whether that is killing a million Iraqis to safeguard its access to the country's oil wells or overthrowing the president of Ukraine to try and force its military wing, Nato, into another country in Russia's sphere of influence.

In the past few years, US-led coups, dressed up as "popular revolutions" have toppled anti-Nato presidents in Yugoslavia, Georgia and (twice) in the Ukraine. It has armed rebel militias in Libya which used those arms to rape and then murder the (anti-Nato) Libyan president, Muammar Qadaffi. 

This isn't a new development for the USA - it has overthrown or helped to overthrow anti-Nato or socialist governments from Nicaragua to Chile during the Cold War. After the Cold War, it carried on - destabilising governments in Iraq, Venezuela, Syria and Iran. 

In Yugoslavia, the last remaining socialist government in Europe before SYRIZA took control of Greece this year, the Americans were confronted with the example of a successful socialist nation, leading the non-aligned movement, and instead of demanding hard currency when selling expensive technical equipment to developing countries, this industrialised, prosperous nation instead traded technology for commodities, threatening the prevailing American-led financial system of selling over-advanced technology to countries which didn't need it, plunging them into unpayable levels of debt. 

As president Miloševic said himself: "our system provides living proof that more than one economic system is possible". This, to the Americans, was an unacceptable threat to their hegemonic financial system, and the demonisation of Miloševic began in preparation for his overthrow - the first of many. 

Miloševic, we were told, is a dictator. A strange word to use for a man who won three successive democratic elections in a state in which no fewer than twenty-one political parties operated freely at a federal level. 

Once the Americans decided to topple Miloševic, they used tactics which have become almost Standard Operating Procedure for Nato in the years since. They funnelled over €60 million to the anti-socialist Miloševic candidate, Vosislav Koštunica, who even then failed to win the 2000 election, gaining only 49% of the vote in the first round. Horrified at his failure, and knowing that Miloševic's popularity was such that it would potentially see the second round, his American-backed and American-armed and American-funded supporters stormed the Yugoslav parliament and overthrew the legitimate government by force in a coup d'état. Miloševic was then put on trial in the Hague, where after more than a hundred prosecution witnesses were unable to testify that he had ordered war crimes to be committed, he died suddenly, without witnesses, in his cell. 

This (successful) tactic was used time and time again. In Georgia, George Soros and James Baker called openly for Eduard Shevardnadze, the former Soviet foreign minister turned Georgian president, to be overthrown, with the OSCE paying for anti-government activists to fly to Serbia for training by those who had mounted the anti-socialist coup three years previously. Again, the pattern: the United States pours millions of dollars into the opposition. The opposition fails to win the election. And a "people's revolt" forces an anti-Nato president out and replaces him with a pro-Nato president. 

The tactic was used twice in the Ukraine in the last ten years: a pro-Nato candidate backed financially and morally by the United States loses the election, and US-armed militias force the democratically-elected president out. 

Against that backdrop, it's not difficult to see why even the timid Ed Miliband would have been a step too far. 

One example of a genuine citizens' revolt was in Egypt, where the Arab Spring forced out the US-backed military dictator, Hosni Mubarak, and decades after the end of the monarchy, installed a democratically-elected president, Mohammed Mursi.

The results of every Egyptian presidential election winner since the Republic was declared are as follows:

1956 - Nasser 99,9%
1958 - Nasser 100%
1965 - Nasser 100%
1970 - Sadat 90%
1976 - Sadat 99,9%
1981 - Mubarak 98,5%
1987 - Mubarak 97,1%
1993 - Mubarak 96,3%
1999 - Mubarak 93,8%
2005 - Mubarak 88,6%
2012 - Mursi 51,7%
2014 - Sisi 96,9%

You will notice two things about these results. Firstly, the military dictators (Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak and Sisi) are tremendously and implausibly popular. Secondly, that the Americans were quite happy to work with military dictators who are rigging elections. 

Mursi visited Iran in August 2012, in the first step to repairing relations between Cairo and Tehran: the latest sign that the Mursi presidency would be moving Egypt away from its erstwhile Washington allies and towards a non-aligned future. 

Within ten months, Mursi had been the victim of an American-backed coup d'état, the new military dictatorship immediately swearing allegiance to Washington. 

And within two years of that, this week, the Egyptian military dictatorship has announced that it is to shoot Mursi dead in retaliation for him winning the presidency by popular vote. The British government, the lapdog of the American regime, has refused to intervene or condemn it. Needless to say, neither have the Americans, or Nato, that great sword of freedom and democracy.

R.T. Erdogan, the Turkish president, has condemned the decision to murder president Mursi. He has moved Ankara away from its long-standing Western outlook and shifted its long-term ambition from joining the European Union to looking at improving relations with its neighbours to the south and east. Soon, he will begin to make noises about moving Turkey away from Nato, and towards a non-aligned future, or towards a future in the CSTO. He may muse, publicly, that Nato is keen on having Turkey as a member of the club, but that the EU, the political wing of Nato, continues to exclude his country. 

And when he does, you can be sure that an assassin's bullet or a "citizens' revolt", funded and armed by Washington, will be coming his way.

If there is a threat to stability, democracy and the rule of law in the world, it does not exist in Pyongyang, Havana, Moscow, Beijing, Caracas or Athens, but in Washington. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Hats off to John McTernan

John McTernan is all that's left of the Scottish Labour party after Blair McDougall left to spend more time with his adipose tissue.

McTernan is a legend of political failure. Here's his record:

1997-98 Special Adviser to the British secretary for social security, Harriet Harman
1998: Harriet Harman sacked as Secretary of State for Social Security

2000-01 Special Adviser to First Minister of Scotland, Henry McLeish
2001: Henry McLeish resigns after being caught stealing money

2005-07 Director of Political Operations for British prime minister, Tony Blair
2007: Tony Blair resigns as British prime minister with record low approval ratings

2007: Director of Scottish Labour's General Election campaign
2007: Scottish Labour loses control of Parliament for the first time ever

2007-08 Special Adviser to Des Browne, British secretary for Defence and Scotland
2008: Des Browne sacked as Secretary of State for Defence
2008: Des Browne sacked as Secretary of State for Scotland

2008-10 Special Adviser to Jim Murphy, British secretary for Scotland
2015: Jim Murphy loses his seat in the British parliament

2011-13 Communications Director for Australian prime minister Julia Gillard
2012: McTernan found to be illegal immigrant
2013: Julia Gillard sacked as Labor leader, replaced by Labor's Kevin Rudd as PM

The worst ever

As Scotland continues to celebrate the release of our country from the cold, dead hand of the Scottish Labour party, an organisation which has been utterly humiliated and now completely obliterated, an observation. 

The textbook example of an extinction event for a once-hegemonic political party is the destruction of the Progressive Conservative party in the 1993 Canadian federal election. The annihilation of Scottish Labour on Thursday eclipses even that. In the future, psephologists will not discuss the Progressive Conservative extinction of 1993, but the eradication of Scottish Labour in 2015. 

Firstly, make no mistake. This isn't a defeat. This isn't a setback. It is an dismantlement which exterminated Scottish Labour now and for all time. The party is over. 

Secondly, the extent of the ruin is mindboggling.

In 1993, Kim Campbell had been leader of the Tories for 132 days. Jim Murphy had longer in charge (145 days) to turn things round from Johann Lamont's leadership than Campbell had to turn things round from Brian Mulroney's.

In terms of raw seats, Murphy has somehow contrived to do even worse than Campbell. Whereas she led the Tories to the worst-ever defeat in the Western world with only two seats, Murphy eclipsed even this humiliation with only one seat. And while, like Campbell in Vancouver Centre, Murphy lost his seat in East Renfrewshire, Campbell had held the seat for only one term, Murphy for four.

There are similiarities between the two leaders personally as well: Campbell, as the poll numbers began to collapse, was viewed by the electorate as "condescending and pretentious", words which could have been written for the humiliated Murphy. Although Campbell did have some degree of self-awareness - she resigned immediately whilst Murphy has hilariously consulted lawyers in an attempt to cling onto the prized position of being Leader of Ian Murray.

It now looks inevitable that, like the Progressive Conservatives, Scottish Labour will disband. I hope they don't. I hope the remnants of the party descends into internicine civil war, with defenestrated MPs like Maggie Curran and Jim Murphy squabbling and fighting sitting MSPs to try and get into Holyrood and back onto the gravy train; the fighting become ever dirtier and more bitter, leading to the almost boringly inevitable split in the party.

For two years, Scottish Labour stood shoulder-to-shoulder with David Cameron and his Conservatives against the working people of Scotland. This week, we took our revenge on them. It is a righteous, shuddering revenge from which Scottish Labour will never recover. Their party has ceased to exist, for all intents and purposes. They richly deserve it for their betrayal of working-class Scots. I taste schadenfreude. And I like it.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

GSW: I've decided for whom I'm voting

My constituency, Glasgow (South West) can fairly be described as a "heartland" of the Labour Party. 

Ian Davidson has represented the seat since 1997 - as Pollok - for the struggling unionist party, succeeding Jimmy Dunnachie and James White before him. Labour have held the seat since reversing the national trend in 1979 and recording a Tory>Labour swing even as Thatcher won the election. 

Part of the seat belonged to Govan between 1885 and 2005, and in every Westminster election bar 1950 from 1918 to 2005, it returned a Labour MP. 

In common with many constituencies in Scotland "served" by Labour in the long-term, it has been wrecked. It is one of the poorest constituencies in Europe. Life expectancy is amongst the lowest in the world. Worklessness and poverty is endemic; poor health more common than further education. Our main industry, shipbuilding, has been systematically  and deliberately destroyed by British government policy and replaced with nothing.

It has suited the Labour Party to keep us in poverty and chained to them, and with Ian Davidson winning 62,5% of the half of the electorate who turned out in 2010 for a majority of 14.671, it looked certain to stay that way.

But it seems as though we're saying "no more". Polls consistently show that Mr Davidson is on the verge of falling. An electorate which overwhelmingly voted Yes in the referendum, defying him, sickened by his statements about "bayoneting" Yes voters, are turning against the long-time MP. 

Even his own activists have abandoned him: his campaign consists of elected members and party workers, shored up by half a dozen bona-fide volunteer activists who are terrified old ladies and bitter old men.

There are only three candidates in this election I'd even consider voting for: Bill Bonnar of the Socialist party, Chris Stephens of the National party, and Seán Templeton of the Green party.

I immediately excluded the Green party - they have never canvassed in the district (I've never seen them anyway, not a street stall, not a leaflet, nor a phone call) in favour of the Socialist and National parties who have a long record of campaigning in the area and are highly visible with street stalls, public meetings and canvassing every weekend for at least a year. As a voter, unattached to any party, an observer of politics rather than a participant, I will lend my vote to those who deserve it, who nurture and are active in the constituency - not those who turn up at election time looking for my vote with nothing in return.

So, who to vote for?
I'm a Socialist. There's a decent Socialist candidate standing, who has an impeccable record of public service in the community. 

And if this was a normal election, I'd vote Socialist. 

But this election isn't a normal one. GSW has suddenly become a marginal seat, and it's a marginal seat between the unionists and the National party. Even at that, I'd probably still be inclined to vote Socialist. 

However, the Nationalist candidate in the seat is as left-wing a candidate as we could be offered. Chris Stephens is a founder member of the National party's Trade Union Group. He's influential and active in his trade union, and at heart, if Scotland had never had a constitutional debate, would certainly be sitting on the left wing of the Labour Party. 

If this was a single-transferable vote election - as it should be - I'd vote Socialist and transfer my vote to the Nationalists. But it's not. It's first-past-the-post, and I don't get to transfer my vote. So in the knowledge that a vote in this constituency for anyone other than Ian Davidson or Chris Stephens is not going to matter in terms of selecting the local MP, I'm going to vote for Chris Stephens - because in this election, it's more important to get rid of a hard-right Unionist MP than it is to vote for my desired party. 

I'm going to vote SNP in this election - and if you live in Govan, Pollok, Drumoyne, Ibrox, Mosspark, Hillington, Cardonald, Penilee, Crookston, Nitshill, or Darnley, I'd recommend that you do to. 

Let's get the Red Tories out in this election, and a Red Vanguard into Holyrood next May.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

What Miliband might learn from Gen. Mulcahy

General Richard Mulcahy commanded the IRA during the War of Independence. He was elected as TD for Dublin North-West in the 1921 General Election, and retained it in the 1922 General Election eleven months later. When Sinn Féin split in 1921, Mulcahy supported the pro-Treaty side, and after the assassination of General Michael Collins at Cork, the Provisional Government appointed him Minister for Defence and gave him command of the National Army.

Mulcahy was a butcher, doing more than any other man to bitterly divide a nation fighting a civil war which saw brother fight brother. He had seventy-seven anti-Treaty prisoners of war put to death, which led to him being despised amongst the anti-Treaty supporters across Ireland. He resigned as Defence Minister in 1924.

In the 1923 General Election, he moved to Dublin North, winning the seat as a Cumann na nGaedheal representative, and retaining it in both 1927 General Elections, and the 1932 and 1933 General Elections. In 1937, he lost the seat to the legendary Labour TD Big Jim Larkin, but was appointed to the Senate and won his seat back in the 1938 General Election. In the 1943 General Election, he lost it back to Larkin, and was re-appointed to the Senate. 

When former President WT Cosgrave resigned as leader of Fine Gael in 1944, Gen. Mulcahy succeeded him as leader despite not being a TD. Leading the party from the Senate, he appointed Blueshirt founder Thomas O'Higgins (brother of assassinated Vice President, Kevin O'Higgins) as the FG leader in the Dáil. He became a TD again, this time for Tipperary, in the 1944 General Election, and took over as the party's leader in the Dáil and their candidate for Taoiseach.

The 1948 General Election produced an inconclusive result, and Mulcahy soon started negotiations. It was clear that Fine Gael, Labour, National Labour, Clann na Poblachta and Clann na Talmhan together would be able to lock veteran Fianna Fáil leader Éamon de Valera out of Merrion Street (to use a rather resonant phrase) if they would be able to persuade seven independent TDs to vote alongside them. 

As leader of the largest party by far in the coalition, Gen. Mulcahy would have been the natural choice for Taoiseach. But his role in the Civil War executions made him politically unacceptable to Republicans, and Clann na Poblachta leader Seán MacBride intimated that the Clann would refuse to join a Mulcahy-led government, leaving the coalition short of a majority by 17 seats. 

Labour leader William Norton suggested that Mulcahy remain as leader of Fine Gael, but step aside as their nominee for Taoiseach to ensure the coalition got off the ground, and Mulcahy reluctantly stepped aside in favour of the Attorney General, John A. Costello, who as Taoiseach declared the Republic of Ireland in 1949, brought Ireland into the OECD, and took the republic into the Council of Europe.

In 1954, the exact same thing happened again - the second Inter-Party Government was led by Fine Gael, but Mulcahy was unacceptable to the other parties as Taoiseach. He stepped aside again for Costello, and became Minister for Education.

Mulcahy's unhappy experience (he never became Taoiseach or President, and left the Dáil a sadder and wiser man in 1960) ought to provide food for thought to Mr Miliband. The fact that Mulcahy had the confidence of Fine Gael was neither here nor there so long as he did not command a majority in the Dáil - just as the fact that Miliband commands the confidence of the Labour party is neither here nor there if he cannot command a majority in the Commons. 

If Ed Miliband is 30 seats short of a majority in the Commons, and the National party has 50 or more seats, Miliband could find himself outmanoeuvered. He cannot become prime minister without a majority, and he cannot get a majority without the Nationalists. And he has pished on his chips by already ruling out any sort of deal with them.

Miliband may well have every intention of putting the Tories into government to punish Scotland for voting against Labour - but will his MPs accept this? For many of them, this will be their last chance to be in government. And Left-wing MPs will certainly not accept their party refusing to work with the National party is the price is another Conservative-led government. 

If the Liberals collapse as expected, and the Tories can't form a governing majority with them; and if Labour can't get a majority other than with a National party with whom their prime minister-designate has refused to work, then doesn't the parliamentary arithmetic indicate that another Labour-Conservative Grand Coalition is the only workable administration? It would seem that way. 

And will Labour MPs accept Osborne back at the Treasury and Duncan Smith back at Pensions as the price of their leader - whom they overwhelmingly voted against, don't forget - indulging in a fit of pique and a last-gasp effort to rescue a Scottish branch office which can't provide half the numbers towards a government that the Nationalists can? I don't think so.

If Miliband falls short of a majority and the SNP is able to make up that shortfall, my prediction will be that he is the victim of an internal heave, and that a new, pragmatic Labour prime minister-designate will state that the unprecedented number of Nationalist MPs is a game-changer, and besides, we already work with the Social Democratic and Labour Party who are committed to breaking up the UK, and, well, it's either us working with the Nationalists or another Tory government, and Miliband was speaking on a personal basis which didn't commit the Labour party, and he's still the party leader of course, but it's not possible for him to be prime minister because of the parliamentary arithmetic and...

Of course, rather like the Liberals did in 2010 to poor old Gordon Brown, it might be that because of Miliband's behaviour in the election campaign, a precondition for parties to begin negotiations with Labour is that Miliband is not their prime minister-designate. How it would satisfy me if National, Green, SDLP MPs and maybe the smattering of Liberals left wrote to Labour MPs and said "we're willing to put you in power and lock the Tories out of Downing Street. But we'll only do it if you sack a leader you voted against anyway". 

Miliband has painted himself into a corner. He's made himself unacceptable to too many people. And he may live to regret that. He could have been a truly great prime minister, but his fit of pique, and ill-thought-out tantrum on Question Time on Thursday may have just cost him any chance he had of ever getting the top job. 

Poor Ed. So charmingly gormless, and so inept that he's managed to fall at the last post when all the other horses have already given up.