Wednesday, 29 April 2015

In the event of a British exit Scotland will stay in Europe

A British exit from the European Union could cost the UK billions of pounds, a report published by two German institutes predicts.
The study by Bertelsmann Stiftung and Ifo Institute calculates if the UK leaves the EU the country could lose 14 percent of its GDP – equivalent to £215 billion.
Germany and other EU member states would also lose out financially, although not as much as Britain.
Even if Britain was successful in negotiating a trade agreement with the EU, the studies found the cost of a ‘Brexit’ would outweigh the benefits.
The report analyzed three scenarios and looked at the effect an EU exit would have on Britain in 2030, the year it believes negative effects will begin to materialize.

In the report’s most positive case, Britain would negotiate a trade deal with the EU similar to Switzerland’s.
Under such a deal, the UK’s GDP per head would be £157 lower than if Britain stayed in the EU.
In its most negative scenario, Britain would lose all trade privileges arising from EU membership and its free trade agreements.
Losses could run up to £3,471 per head in such a case, which factors in trade isolation and the dent to innovation in the UK and London’s position as a financial center.
A Brexit is a losing game for everyone in Europe from an economic perspective alone – particularly for the UK,” said Aart De Geus, chairman and chief executive of the Bertelsmann Stiftung.
But aside from the economic consequences, it would be an especially bitter setback for European integration as well as Europe’s role in the world. Setting the course for a Brexit in the House of Commons elections would weaken the EU.”
Europe’s economic powerhouse Germany would also suffer in the event of a British exit.
The report calculates Germany could see GDP per capita losses ranging from €30 (£21) to €700 (£500).

Reasons Never to Vote Labour Ever Again

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The Goal: 59 Scottish seats for the SNP in 
Westminster on May 8th

Remember him?
A voice in the wilderness.
Scotland has been sold out by such people.

 Yes, we know why Nicola Sturgeon is "evading" talk of another Scottish referendum on independence. If she were to admit it she would face the possibility of losing potential votes for the SNP from those who voted No in the referendum, yet who wish to secure a big Scottish representation in parliament in order to advance devolution of powers to Scotland.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

A Possible Outcome? Methinks: more red, more green and even more yellow!

Paving the Way to Independence

A new poll out today points to a truth not many in Westminster are prepared to admit right now: this year's election is only going to pave the way for another referendum in the future.
The University of Edinburgh survey found 69% of people believe Scotland will eventually leave the UK. That's only marginally higher than the 59% who live in England who think the same thing.
"We shouldn't mistake this as support for independence itself," Dr Jan Eichhorn of the University of Edinburgh tells
"What it means is people in Scotland and every other part of the UK are not thinking the issue is going away. Some of those people might want it to go away, but they do think that this issue matters."
His analysis makes sense. The referendum dominated last year and has triggered a constitutional upheaval which goes well beyond who runs Holyrood. It has created a wave of momentum which a majority of people now accept is not going to be halted easily.
The nationalists sensed this before the rest of us did. That was why, in George Square in Glasgow on referendum night, they were so euphoric. They knew they had started something which would not simply fade away and be forgotten about.
Back then their predictions that the Scots would vote for the SNP in Westminster seemed implausible. Now the expectation is that they could win as many as 56 of Scotland's 59 seats. That possibility will skew the 2015 election result and make the SNP key players in deciding who becomes our next prime minister. It's a fascinating prospect and not at all surprising that we want to examine its implications. But it distracts us from the bigger picture - that the independence issue remains as significant as ever.
What flooding Westminster with MPs will do is help propagate the nationalists' permanent presence on the scene. They are adopting one of the most tried and tested strategies of war: the envelopment of the enemy. Cutting off escape routes, shutting down your opponent's flexibility, triggering a psychological collapse long before the actual practical options for resistance are exhausted. What the SNP is doing to the rest of Britain is imposing an unrelenting pressure which creates its own conclusion.
But it is a steady incremental process, not a quick one. After the referendum the SNP's initial strategy was to complain about broken promises. That ultimately led to Sturgeon raising the possibility of a second referendum if Britain is set to leave the EU. But the University of Edinburgh's polling has found only 45% of Scots back her on that and the numbers are even lower elsewhere in the UK.
So instead the nationalists should look to a longer-term goal of achieving independence in the next few decades, not the next few years.
They should be encouraged because today's research also finds that the Scottish independence really has motivated political views north of the border. The 85% turnout figure in the independence referendum itself wasn't ever going to be repeated in a Westminster election, but Eichhorn says people in Scotland nevertheless do now have a higher likelihood of voting in a normal election because of it. Around three-quarters north of the border say they are certain to vote, compared to around 60% elsewhere. And many of them want to talk about how Britain is governed. "Some of that political engagement is moving beyond just the simple proposition that people engaged with the referendum because that was an easy issue," Eichhorn adds. "We see something lasting here."
So, it seems, do British voters. They understand that this increased engagement is a direct response to Scottish nationalism. Those seeking independence have mobilised the debate and may sooner or later win it.
Today's speech from Sturgeon fits that long-term plan. Dominating the attention of the Westminster enemy is the first step towards a successful psychological envelopment. By making themselves impossible to ignore, with choices narrowing and alternative futures fading away, the SNP's strategy might be closer to fulfilment than any of us think.


Politics @ Lunch

Lunchtime. Your inbox. It's a date.

A Dangerous Game

Supporters of the Scottish National Party
‘The Tories claim the English would be held to ransom under a Miliband government dependent on SNP support.’ Photograph: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images
So now we know the last Tory trick in their book. They’ve tried all the standard pre-election routines. We’ve had promises of tax cuts, naturally. They’ve offered a discounted right to buy on housing association homes they don’t own. The party of austerity has sprayed around spending pledges, while ridiculing Labour as incompetent spendthrifts. A cabal of City-funded multimillionaires has tried to paint them as the “party of working people”. They’ve claimed to be presiding over a great economic revival.
But the numbers won’t budge. They dismissed Ed Miliband as hopeless, but his ratings are climbing.
So now they’ve fallen back on a brazen attempt to inflame English nationalism and turn Britain’s peoples against one another. Cheerled by a Conservative press largely owned by tax-dodging overseas plutocrats, the Tories claim the English would be held to ransom under a Miliband government dependent on SNP support. The Scots, who were begged to stay in the union during last year’s referendum, are now portrayed as some kind of foreign menace.
The former prime minister John Major, who was himself held to ransom by Ulster Unionists and Eurosceptic MPs, has claimed an SNP-backed Labour government would face “blackmail”. The SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, is denounced as “the most dangerous woman in Britain”. There’s even talk of an SNP “coup” and “fascist intimidation”.
This is all fantastical and anti-democratic nonsense. Some of it is no doubt rubbing off south of the border, where the Tory tactic is specifically aimed at winning back English nationalist Ukip voters. But those who claim to treasure a united Britain can’t have it both ways. Either Scotland is part of the union or it isn’t. If it is, whoever Scottish voters elect has the same right to play a part in Westminster politics as any other party.
No wonder the Tories themselves have fallen out over the issue, with genuine unionists such as the former Scottish secretary Lord Forsyth accusing the prime minister of playing a dangerous game. If the game is successful, and the Tories are returned to Downing Street, that will provide by far the most fertile ground for a new referendum on Scottish independence to be held and won.
The reality is that, on current polling, either Miliband will become prime minister with SNP support – or there will be five more years of Cameron. That’s a bitter pill for Labour in Scotland to swallow, and if the party can pull back a few seats from the expected SNP landslide, it will strengthen Miliband’s hand. But the rise of the SNP, which has determinedly positioned itself to Labour’s left, is the product of 20 years of New Labour politics and an anti-establishment tide across Europe that has swelled since the 2008 crash. The Sun’s claim that the SNP is “hard left” is crazed. Sturgeon has understandably been taken to task over privatisations and spending squeezes in Scotland.
But the SNP ship has sailed. And the idea that nationalist support would make a minority Labour government “illegitimate” – let alone that this would be the first time such a thing has happened, as Cameron claimed at the weekend – is ridiculous. Minority and coalition governments dominated the first half of 20th-century Britain. Governments dependent on Irish nationalist support were common in the years leading up to the first world war. And Labour governments have regularly relied on the Irish nationalist SDLP, even though the party wants to “break up the UK”.
You’d never know from the anti-Scottish fearmongers that Sturgeon is now the most popular party leader in Britain – when English and Welsh voters were exposed to her in the leadership debates, many liked what they heard. Nor would the SNP’s negotiating hand in a hung parliament be as strong as claimed, given the party’s commitment to vote down a Tory administration in any circumstances. And Cameron’s Conservatives would themselves very probably have to rely on Ukip and Northern Irish DUP votes, as well as his own right wing, if their scaremongering were to take them over the line on 7 May.
But all this is a diversion from the fundamental choice at the election. That is between a Cameron-led government, which has presided over the deepest cuts in the living standards of the poorest for over a century while slashing taxes for the rich, and which now wants, in his own words, to make small-state austerity “permanent”. The only alternative is a government led by Miliband, committed to ditching the bedroom tax, clamping down on zero-hours contracts and non-dom tax status, abolishing the House of Lords, introducing mansion and bankers’ bonus taxes, and raising the top rate to 50%.
For all Miliband’s compromises over austerity, the distance between the main parties is wider than is often understood. That’s partly Labour’s own doing. As the Institute of Fiscal Studies points out, there is little difference between the SNP’s “anti-austerity” spending pledges and Labour’s “triple lock budget responsibility” plans, which in fact would allow Miliband to avoid almost all cuts.
But Labour leaders give the opposite impression, to appease the City and potential swing voters fed years of economic mumbo-jumbo by politicians and the media. The danger is, that message alienates Green voters and others Labour needs to win back to be able to form a government – just as Cameron is fighting to deflate Ukip support. On the doorstep in Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam constituency on Friday, no one raised the Caledonian menace with me. But police employees who a generation ago would have been solid Tory voters were enthusiastically backing the Labour challenger.
Which underlines Cameron’s problem: however much he trumpets recovery, the reality of cuts, job insecurity and years of falling living standards have taken their toll. Against that background, the prospect of a minority government dependent on other parties committed to change is hardly so terrifying, let alone illegitimate.
There are plenty of downsides, including the risk of spatchcocked policies and endless haggling. But multiparty alliances, informal or otherwise, also offer the prospect of opening up politics to pressure from those who have been locked out of the system – inside and outside parliament. In any case, some such arrangement now looks almost certain. The only question is which party and prime minister will be at the centre of it.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Running scared!

We have had Labour scaremongering and Tory scaremongering, where the two major parties, in league with the right wing media, the banks and the big corporations, united in attempting to ensure the defeat of the Yes vote in the Scottish referendum.
Now we are witnessing scaremongering tactics from the Tories, themselves running scared of the prospect of a Labour government supported by the SNP. Recent comments by John Major, Sarah Vine and Michael Fallon are aimed  at instilling fear into the minds of the British public, yet are being combated by the directness and honesty of the smaller parties, and particularly by that feisty Scotswoman, Nicola Sturgeon.

General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove.

How absurd is this statement? 



Thursday, 9 April 2015

Why not make it a a Clean Sweep?


No really, the SNP are going to win at least 50 

of Scotland’s 59 seats.

The swing in Labour’s heartlands is even
greater than the swing implied by national

The SNP has surged since the referendum under Sturgeon's leadership. Photo: Getty.
Four things have changed in the polls – and in election predictions – since this site launched in early September.
Labour lost their 3-4 point poll lead and are now resolutely tied with the Tories; Ukip have gradually dipped since November, but are still set to win 4 million votes; and the Greens nearly caught the Lib Dems in the polls before fading.
But by far the most significant change has, of course, been in Scotland. If the SNP surge had never happened, Labour would be set to win more than 300 seats and take power in May. Instead, we are predicting the SNP will win 55 seats, and an average of different forecasts hands them 46. In 2010 they won 6. There are only 59 seats in Scotland.
Few pundits believe these predictions.
Few pundits believe these predictions. Most people hesitate to give the SNP more than 30 seats (as a recent survey of hundreds of political academics proved). Very few can conceive of more than 40. And almost no one predicts the SNP will win at least 50.
And yet no poll has implied the SNP will win as few as 35 seats, and the vast majority suggest they will win more than 40. 18 Scotland-wide polls have been published over the past five months, and they have almost all suggested the same thing: the SNP will win 45-50 seats, and Labour will lose around 30 of its 41.

Labour are collapsing in their heartlands

At their most favourable, the polls suggest Labour will only lose half their Scottish seats. But no poll has been so favourable to Labour since February began, and constituency polls published since then have suggested that national polls are underrating the scale of Labour’s collapse.
Lord Ashcroft has polled 40 per cent of Scotland’s seats over the past two months. His polls have been devastating for Labour. He has polled 19 of Labour’s 41 seats. 16 of those polls have been in the harder half of seats for the SNP to win – the ones where Labour are protecting majorities of at least 29 points (for comparison, Ed Miliband won his seat, Doncaster North, by 26 points in 2010).
Ashcroft’s polls suggest Labour will lose also but 3-4 of their seats.
14 of those 16 polls have put the SNP ahead, all by at least 3 points (in other words, almost all are outside the margin of error). These polls imply Labour will lose all but 3-4 of their seats. That is significantly fewer than the 9-11 seats that national polls imply Labour will hold.
In other words, the swing to the SNP in Labour’s heartlands is even greater than the swing in national polls. The swing in national polls is 20.5 points, which means any Labour seat with a majority of less than 41 per cent would turn SNP on an uniform swing. [1]
But Ashcroft has shown an even greater swing than 20.5 points in the 19 Labour-held seats he’s polled. The swing he’s found has been just under 25 points, which would wipe out all Labour seats where they hold majorities of less than 50 points (David Cameron won his seat, Witney, by 39 points in 2010).


Dramatic SNP surge in Scotland set to leave 

Labour with just TWO MPs robbing Miliband 

of a Commons majority

  • Study of marginal seats suggests election heading for deadlock in May
  • The SNP is on course for a landslide in Scotland at the General Election
  • Nationalists could win as many as 56 of Scotland's 59 seats, up from six 
  • Labour would be left with two MPs, the Lib Dems one and the Tories none

A dramatic surge by the SNP looks set to claim Gordon Brown's Scottish seat and rob Ed Miliband of a Commons majority, according to a new poll last night.
The study of marginal constituencies suggests Labour and the Conservatives are heading for electoral deadlock in May, with neither party able to govern alone.
The poll, commissioned by former Tory treasurer Lord Ashcroft, suggests the SNP is on course for a landslide at the General Election, winning as many as 56 of Scotland's 59 seats - up from just six at present.
The poll, commissioned by former Tory treasurer Lord Ashcroft, suggests the SNP is on course for a landslide at the General Election, winning as many as 56 of Scotland's 59 seats - up from just six at present.
The poll, commissioned by former Tory treasurer Lord Ashcroft, suggests the SNP is on course for a landslide at the General Election, winning as many as 56 of Scotland's 59 seats - up from just six at present.
The SNP surge would claim seats held by a string of household names, including those of departing Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling, and former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy. The Tories are also in danger of losing their one Scottish seat, held by David Mundell.
At Westminster the poll suggests Labour and the Conservatives will be tied on 272 seats each - well short of the 326 needed to command a Commons majority. Lord Ashcroft said the astonishing surge by the SNP in the wake of last year's independence referendum had thrown a 'giant spanner in Labour's works', although the party is forecast to win Tory seats south of the border.
Of the eight Scottish seats polled, the SNP would gain six - including four from Labour - and tie with Mr Mundell, in Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Nicola Sturgeon - outright winner of the debate

SNP supporters mob Nicola Sturgeon in 

Edinburgh after leaders' debate

SNP leader says feedback has been positive after televised debate but cautions against getting carried away with ‘post-match analysis’
Nicola Sturgeon in Corstorphine
Nicola Sturgeon surrounded by supporters in Corstorphine, Edinburgh. Photograph: Robert Perry/EPA

Jubilant supporters have mobbed Nicola Sturgeon on a slow, triumphal walk through west Edinburgh, her standing having been transformed overnight by an acclaimed appearance in the leaders’ debate.
A crowd of SNP voters – some hardened activists, others new arrivals swept along in the swelling tide behind Sturgeon’s party, were ecstatic in their reception of the first minister. If the event was intended as a simple photocall, the upbeat atmosphere turned it into something closer to a coronation.
“Good job last night, Nicola,” shouted one man as supporters mobbed the first minister, their hands holding mobile phones aloft for that closeup moment; a woman near by yelled out: “You were wonderful.”
Poised, coiffed and grinning , Sturgeon was in demand for a string of selfies. She was told by one mother posing for a picture with her sons: “Well done last night, you done women proud. Thank you. Thank you so much!”
There were toddlers to meet and local chemists to charm. And as motorists sounded their car horns in an impromptu chorus, Sturgeon affected modesty at the critical applause and poll-topping ratings her performance achieved. “The feedback, as far as I have seen, and it is up for other people to judge, has been positive,” she said.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon stops for a selfie with a supporter in Edinburgh. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
She said she was delighted to have the chance to seize the initiative on a UK-wide platform. It confirmed her party is poised to win an historic landslide, perhaps claiming upwards of 40 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats.
“If we all work as hard as we know we can, then the momentum is unstoppable. And on 7 May, we will make sure that Scotland’s voice is ringing through the corridors of Westminster more loudly than it has ever done before,” she proclaimed, to roars of approval.
This was the boss talking, the 44-year-old first minister first began delivering SNP leaflets as a 16-year-old. For years she was the disciplined grafter who failed four times to win a constituency seat in Westminster and Holyrood before finally triumphing in 2007 (she was elected to Holyrood in 1999 and 2003 on the regional list). The woman who nearly stood for the leadership in 2004, but instead chose to serve as deputy leader for a decade to Alex Salmond.
Now, after appearing alongside her allies Natalie Bennett, the English Greens leader and her friend Leanne Wood, leader of the Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru, Sturgeon seemed even to going beyond Scotland, as she said the debate on ITV amounted to an advert for the “progressive alternative” they hope to offer all UK voters.
This would challenge the entire establishment at Westminster, not just on behalf of Scots and Welsh radicals and nationalists, but progressives in England too. “I’m very keen to find that common ground; and if we’re in a position to do so, find that common ground and deliver change,” Sturgeon said.
As her old boss Alex Salmond, out campaigning in Fife, enthused that his former protege was “wiping the floor with the Westminster old boys’ network”, Sturgeon offered words of caution: “We’ve got to see how people vote; after all, there’s a danger that all of us will get carried away with the post-match analysis.”
Judging by the sheer energy and spirit of the scores of activists gathered on St John’s Road in the prosperous suburb of Costorphine, this is yet another seat the Liberal Democrats are unlikely to hold. And that simple fact is evidence of how far the SNP’s post-referendum tide has reached.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon at the centre of a crowd. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Edinburgh West was, until this election, a three-way marginal where the SNP would come a distant fourth. The Lib Dems’ Mike Crockart took it with a 3,803-vote majority over Labour, the Tories a close third. Five years ago, the SNP was more than 10,000 votes adrift behind Crockart.
But the referendum campaign has changed that. While Edinburgh West, like most of Scotland’s capital, voted heavily against independence last September, by 42,946 against to 22,615 in favour, the SNP has effectively kept every one of those yes votes and built on them. The no vote is split in three. To have any hope of holding this seat, the Lib Dems need Tory and Labour no voters to act tactically in their favour to hold off the SNP.
But now, to add to the Lib Dems’ discomfort, the SNP’s campaign headquarters is in the old Yes Scotland shop immediately next door to Crockart’s high street office.
And protected behind a privacy screen, four Lib Dem workers stoically continued working away on their campaign, as scores of raucous SNP supporters, their saltires, SNP placards and balloons above their heads, greeted Sturgeon’s arrival.
Crockart was away at a meeting. A tall young man in his subdued office seemed to shrug off the contrast. Were they flustered by the huge crowds outside? “Not really. We had it during the referendum. It’s fine. It’s democracy,” he said.
As across Scotland, the 2010 results in Edinburgh West are an historical irrelevance. The referendum changed the political map. Today the SNP could well win; their candidate is Michelle Thomson, a businesswoman who became an active figurehead of the small but active pro-independence Business for Scotland campaign.
But Sturgeon had a warning message to her supporters, their numbers swollen by people off work for the Easter bank holiday. She had seen during the referendum campaign thousands of yes activists celebrating before polling day, assuming victory and then tasting defeat. It irritated her deeply then. The SNP is being far more canny now.
So in her parting message to her supporters, she fought to get her voice heard over the car horns and chatter of the crowd: “Michelle is going to be a fantastic MP but she’s only going to be your MP if you get out there and make it happen.”
Before climbing into her official car, a black Scottish government hybrid Lexus, she came close to chiding the jubilant crowd, drumming home a work ethic central to her success. “We’ve got a great opportunity but we’re only going to grasp that opportunity if we get out there and work harder than we’ve ever worked before,” she said.
“My message to you is let’s take nothing for granted – not a single vote. Let’s get out there over the next few weeks and make sure we win this election for Scotland.”