300 Years of the Union is quite enough and this blog has so done its time

May 1, 2007

Right that’s it the end of the 1st of May, I’ve blown out the candles, nobody sent any presents, the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union is over and so is this Blog – farewell.

Well, the subtitle was the countdown to the 1st of May, and I’ve counted down. This will be post number 60 since January 13th. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve learned a lot. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too. In my wildest dreams I’d hoped that we might be further down the road to independence than we are in this tercentenary year, but hey I suppose I shouldn’t be churlish…

So, until next time…and there will be one – somewhere on a blog out there.

Happy Birthday to the Union – I raise a glass to its longevity, I raise two more to its demise.

Love McGellie x

McLeish gets the McXcuses in first – Labour put the spin on defeat

April 29, 2007

Henry McLeish – failed Scottish First Minister – is quoted in the Sunday Times today blaming Labour defeat on Tony Blair and the problems in Westminster.

Well, please! I was actually surprised at the way Iraq, Trident, The (newly renamed) Defence against Terror, Cash for Honours, Olympics etc were kept off the Scottish Election agenda. If McLeish is just complaining that Brown and Blair visited Scotland too often, then what does that say about Jack McConnell. If he can’t even tell them to f*** off and mind their own business, he’s not fit to be the First Minister – just like McLeish.

The reason Scots are going to vote SNP this election is because there is an air of self-confidence about Scotland. We are fed up being junkies for London subsidy. We are tired of being unable to make our own decisions. We contribute£2,800 million for a defence budget that fight’s wars we don’t want, buys weapons systems we don’t need against terrorists that don’t threaten us. We Scots fiddle rents and taxis not honours (collective responsibility?!?!) and we know the London Olympics are about London not sport.

The Scottish election victory is not about kicking Tony Blair, he’s yesterday’s man and history will kick him at its leisure. This election victory is about Scotland, for Scotland and by Scotland and…er….expressing our disagreement on Iraq, Trident, Terror, Corruption, and the Olympics…!

Bring it on.

Love McGellie x

The Integrity of Data – the days of truth are numbered

April 29, 2007

As the Scottish election campaign grinds to its bitter end or (depending on perspective) rises to a triumphant crescendo, the thing that have stood out for me are the numbers.

So much of the campaigning has been based on competitive presentation of numbers. My council tax is better than your local income tax, blah blah, based on irreconcilable and very much alternative assumptions. Or take what the Guardian described as the arcane debates about the alleged Scottih Deficit which contains things like £2.9 billion of depreciation and accounting adjustments which would fall out in an independence settlement or the assumption that every person, rich or poor, adult or child pays the same amount towards the defence budget and the war in Iraq. Or, take the new Adam Smith Institute report which says Scotland would be £6,000 better off under independence but only on the assumption that growth goes from present rates of 2.1% to 7% – aye right!

All of these numbers and I’m afraid that I don’t believe that our education system equips us to take them on and make sense of them. Proof? Last week in the Scotsman an opinion piece stated that Scotland could get by on a defence budget of £500 billion. Since the whole of the UK GDP is only twice that number you have to blink. But the subs didn’t. If the people who put together our great national newspaper (snigger) can’t even spot that one, how the hell are mere mortals supposed to process all of the complex data that’s thrown at us?  

The integrity of data allows for all of this – state your assumptions and let the answer generate itself. Or, more likely tweak the assumptions until you get the answer you want.

Here in central Edinburgh, Shirley-Anne Somerville bends the integrity by showing a Scottish opinion poll result as if it applies to central Edinburgh. Over at the Liberal however, Siobhan Mathers has taken the data from last time and then lopped a slice off the Labour total to make it looke like it is a “two horse race” (her words). What’s the difference between these two approaches. Well, neither of them are true. But Siobhan abuses the integrity of data. It’s the difference between bending a ruler and breaking it.

I had a word with the electoral commission and they told me that there was nothing they could do about it as they had no power over the veracity of candidates statements. The application of the rule of law was all they were concerned with. I must say I was a bit dissappointed as it means that the lies of our future political leaders are sanctioned by the law itself.

The integrity of data can sustain any number of clearly stated assumptions, but when wannabe politicians blatantly abuse numbers to get elected, they are beneath contempt.

Love, McGellie x

Sunday Herald comes out for the SNP

April 29, 2007

Well, good god, at last someone has. 

Way back in this blog I suggested that the Murdoch papers, the Times and the Sun, should come out for the SNP. They didn’t take my advice (I was most surprised) and they along with the main Scottish titles have remained staunchly Unionist in content and character.

 This was always pretty stupid. It’s been obvious for a long time that the SNP were on a roll – you can’t have that many opinion polls without realising something must be going on. And, the role of the newspapers in this world is not to maintain or safeguard any particular version of the status quo – the role is to make as much money as possible through the symbiotic relationship of reality, readers and advertisers. Everyone knows this.

The only exception is where a paper goes on an ideological bender like the Scotsman under Neil and the Barclays which went from being a fine centre left paper to a torrid right wing rag in spite of its natural market and readership.

Murdoch isn’t inspired by such kamikaze ideology, the switch to new labour was a marketing strategy not a change in politics.

The Sunday Herald’s coming out for the SNP can only be greeted with one response from most commentators – WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG? Was it the need to get it through owners Newsquest and in turn Gannet in America – American’s are remarkably relaxed about independence as they did it themselves some years ago. Was it the financial projections of having lots of Nationalist readers returning to the title that clinched the deal? Certainly Scotland on Sunday has much to fear by this break in the ranks.

Whatever, the haughty and rather pretentious tone of the editorial got my back up. Oh, good for you Richard Walker and your team of unelected cronies, managing your way through the latest round of cuts. Glad you could join the new world of Scotland where there is hope after Labour. But wait, this was not a conversion. Repeatedly the editorial stresses that the Sunday Herald hasn’t made its mind up about Independence. So it’s back to the half baked cautious same old.

Well, I welcome a crack in the Unionist press. I welcome the fact that a newspaper has had the courage to come out for the Nationalists, whatever my reservations about their pomposity. I look forward to Murdoch finally responding to my advice and taking the Sun over to the Nationalist side in order to kick the shit out of the Daily Record’s circulation for ever. The Scottish media have been slow to respond to the signs, they have been slow to take their opportunity and they have been slow to realise that their absence of critical analysis will not stop Scots making up their own free, independent minds.

Love, McGellie x

Celebrity VIP lists and the Scottish Parliamentary Election

April 28, 2007

No. 1 magazine – Scotland’s great (no honestly) celebrity magazine surely missed a trick by not bringing out a special Vote Scotland edition. They could have got every Scottih celeb in their contact book to ‘fess up to who they are voting for. No. 1 magazine likes to mix up Scottish celebs with their bigger Holywood cousins, So, Paris Hilton might be for the Union but Angelina Jolie, she’d be for Independence. With the views of the celebrities duly weighed and counted we could save all the time on the campaigning and just followed the lead of our favourite celebs – each to their own. It’s the new political system the media age has been crying out for – Celebracy

The latest list of “high profile” supporters list today is 650 scientests in favour of the Union. They’ve tested it objectively and found that in a peer assessed review the Union has a beneficial molecular structure. There’s some dispute about the methodology because scientists may don’t have any expertise in political economy or constitutional law, but hey, neither did the footballers nor the businessmen, so what’s a little bit of prejudice and self-interest between experts.

The two bits that worry me the most on the top boffs poll is their assumption that Scotland going independent is going to close down communication with England and the rest of the world in some isolationist reaction. Where did they get this?

Secondly, that they seem to be worried about funds being cut. Why? They get such a paltry amount at the moment that surely they should welcome the opportunity of independence and lobby the SNP to give them a better deal. Apparently Science in Scotland gets £55 per head from Westiminster – THAT’S RUBBISH. Currently Defence spending in Scotland is £2,800 million (on the GERS methodology) which is £560 per head run through Westminster. Surely an independent Scotland could up the former and reduce the latter. The problem with Unionists in Scotland is that they only ever look for the downside.

With only five days of campaigning left, I’m looking forward to 1,000 Nurses for the Union, 3,000 teachers for the Union, 25,000 civil servants for the Union, 25,000 soldiers for the Union and 59 Scottish MP’s for the Union. Just a shame that so few of them can actually stand to vote Labour.

Bring it on.

 Love McGellie x

Ha Ha as celebrity political lists compete to save Scotland in the Scottish press

April 25, 2007

Celebrity endorsement has come to a newspaper near you in the forms of lists of footballers (tabloids) or business people (“broadsheets” – that term surely needs replaced – “pretendy serious” perhaps). Who’se got the best names on their list…depends on your perspective. Whose got the most names…surely it will only ever be the tip of the iceberg – surely. Whose got the biggest circulation (Severin Carrell in the Guardian seemed to think this was important) obviously depends what paper(s) you pay to run the advert. 

The only thing that is actually important is: What the hell are these people are signing up to? It seems that the Nationalists nailed their supporters into actually supporting the SNP explicity. Transpires that whoever was behind the other adverts could only get its people to support the Union, not Labour – the Union.

The way I see it is there are probably a lot of people in Scotland who want an Independent Scotland but don’t support the SNP’s policy lines. These people are to be found in all of the Unionist political parties. So it would have been EASIER for the SNP to have an Independence “motion” to sign up to and so attract people who will not support the SNP as a party. But they didn’t do this – and their position is strategic and logical – put the focus on the party, not on the policy. 

But, if the Unionist aren’t even brave enough to come out for the Labour party then they’re engaging in some complex messaging. Presumably the idea is to focus on the risk to the Union, but this is an election for the next Scottish parliament and (unfortunately, from my point of view, it’s not about the Union this year) doesn’t accord with the way our party system works.

Unfortunately, the downside is many will see those footballers and business people who support the Union as delivering a vote of no confidence in the Labour party. Out enough to support the Union, but too shy to support Labour – bit sad really. Or, maybe they just couldn’t find enough Labour supporters (of any calibre) who were brave enough to pop their heads over the parapet and sign on the Labour line.

The only other, other question is: did they pay or were they paid. I don’t suppose appearing in an advert justifies a peerage but it could be a step along the way…


McGellie x

Taking Liberalities with Central Edinburgh truth – another good reason to vote SNP or Conservative.

April 22, 2007

Siobhan Mathers (Lib Dem candidate for Edinburgh Central) annoys me, judging by her latest election letter. Her last one was bad enough with the same story about cycle parks (killer issue) appearing in bits on both sides of the leaflet. But she’s gone beyond incompetence into the world of deceit this time.

At the bottom right of the letter there’s a bar chart showing central Edinburgh results last time for Labour 32%, Liberal 23%, SNP 18% and Conservatives 17% except she’s fudged it. Her argument is that “only the lib dems or labour can win Edinburgh Central”. And this message is reinforced by distorting the chart so it shows the lib dems much closer to the labour total than it should be. So the gap between Labour and Liberal should actually be nearly twice the gap between the Liberals and the SNP. Instead, she has the Libs closer to Labour than they are to the SNP. 


This matters because ecletion data is one of the few objective things going in politics and a child could make up the chart correctly (at least my child could) so there is deliberate, conscious deception involved here. An election leaflet may be a trivial matter, but there’s a principle at stake. 

There should be a law against this sort of misrepresentation – oh there is!


McGellie x

Update: Shirley-Anne Somerville’s election offering dropped through the letter box this morning. She too makes a similar claime: “Only the SNP can beat LabourinEdinburgh Central” and she has a chart too – but it’s from an opinion poll in the Times. Now I day say SNP headquarters have laid out all the opinion polls they’ve got and chosen the most favourable for Shirley-Anne. So are the SNP any more hones than the Lib Dems. In my book yes, what do you think?