With the bowing out of the second Elizabethan Age, It probably won’t take much hindsight to see Elizabeth II as possibly the last unifying factor in the life of the rather nebulous entity we call the United Kingdom. Despite her accident of birth, she managed to embody a clear commitment to public service, to duty, decency and integrity, all carried out with unfailing good humour.Continue reading The Elizabethan Age – A View from the Glens
Category Archives: Blogs
Hot Air versus Heat Pumps
The UK government’s announcement that it will be funding heat pump installations is counterproductive and will likely prove toxic to our transition to a carbon-neutral economy.
If we take the government’s fund at face value, the promised £490M is sufficient to provide grants of £5,000 to 98,000 homes: a drop in the ocean compared to the 27.8M or so households in the UK (the actual number of discrete properties will of course be lower, as 14.8% of the population live in flats). But to offer to even partially fund heat pump installations without first tackling the issues of effective insulation and the cost of resizing of domestic heating systems needed to make effective use of heat pumps, is a recipe for disaster, huge ongoing costs and ineffective outcomes.
[Update]: According to the latest YouGov poll, the swing to the pro-EU parties from the Con/Lab relics has been even bigger than I’d allowed for in this analysis. So head here for the latest pro-EU Scottish tactical voting recommendations. My previous recommendation was to swing to the SNP, but the figures now suggest that LibDem voters should stay where they are, and that any new swing voters should head for the Scottish Greens or indeed the SNP.
Voting based on the YouGov/TheTimes poll from the end of April would translate to 3 seats to pro-EU parties, 2 for pro-Brexit/anti-EU parties (1 Brexit and 1 Conservative) and 1 for Labour (whatever they are) – the d’Hondt model used in Great Britain is pretty robust in that regard, favouring smaller parties as the count progresses.
A tactical voting model that favoured the SNP at the expense of the Lib Dems and Change UK and the Brexit party at the expense of the Tories and (to a lesser extent) Labour, would give the Scottish MEP list 4 SNP seats, 1 Labour and 1 Brexit, a majority of 3 or 4 for pro-EU candidates, depending on whether Scottish Labour was neutral or pro-EU.
A tactical voting model that favoured the smaller parties (some Conservative and Labour to Brexit and Remain vote from Conservative, Labour and SNP to the LibDems, Scottish Greens and Change UK) would also give four seats to pro-EU parties (two SNP, one Green, one Lib Dem) but would lose Labour its seat, give the Conservatives one and make no difference to the one seat that the Brexit Party would have, thereby reducing the Pro EU majority on the list from 3 or 4 to 2.
There’s been much speculation about the pro-EU parties combining their lists (I think it’s too late for that now). However, changes to the list where the smaller parties came together to combine their lists (LibDem + Change UK, LibDem + Change UK + Scottish Green, then Brexit and UKIP combining votes) actually makes no difference to the overall outcome in terms of Pro/Anti-EU representation. What it would do is gain the centrist alliance a seat at the expense of the SNP.
An alliance of Change UK and the LibDems, using the YouGov figures, would likely achieve no net change: they’d gain a seat at the expense of the Greens.
However, the Scottish Greens on their own have at least a chance of a seat on their own (but only within a 5% sensitivity analysis), so their incentive for cooperation is perhaps limited. As a still largely issue-driven party, their vote is probably also less susceptible to tactical defection.
Now for the detail… Continue reading Tactical Scotland
On a transatlantic flight last year, I was sat across the aisle from a 3-4 year-old, who was deeply engrossed in playing a puzzle game on her iPad. I couldn’t see what it was, save that it involved ballerinas and unicorns (and, yes, you have just worked out where this is going…). Continue reading Kindergarten Politics
Animal Farm, 2019
As predicted, May’s Pig is still resolutely a pig: all that’s changed is that it’s become even stickier from the frantic application of multiple layers of lipstick. Having been unceremoniously tipped out of its poke, the true horror of its oxymoronic insanity is evident to all, no matter which part of the midden they occupy in the Brexit Civil War.
So, in the absence a dereliction of common sense that’s exceptional, even by current standards (which is to say, it’s possible), May’s deal is going down – and by the full bacon sandwich. Update: it did, by 149 votes. Next… Continue reading Animal Farm, 2019
For nearly three years now, I’ve been trying to engage some of my fellow Britons in meaningful debate, initially about why they’d plan to vote to leave the EU and then about why they voted to leave.
It’s been very depressing – all I’ve found is delusion, denial and the repetition of Daily Mail level mantras such as, “Were taking back control” (they tend not to do apostrophes) or, “We need to get out from under the unelected EU superstate/dictatorship“. Which is a bit rich coming from citizens of a country that, for nearly half a century, has been one of the key players in formulating the structures, processes and decisions of the EEC, the EC and now the EU. Continue reading Democratic Clarity
Last night’s vote pretty much removed the middle ground from Brexit. The May ‘agreement’ was constrained by the predictable, consistent and appropriate requirement by the EU for its four fundamental freedoms to be respected in any future relationship. So there’s a very limited range of Brexit options that can be built around that and which maintain any integration whatsoever with the rest of Europe. Which means that anything within shouting distance of the middle ground will look very little different to the motion that was vaporised in the Commons yesterday and would stand about as much chance in any future remix, however and whoever was proposing it.
Order! Order! Holding power to account
Lots of people seem to be getting their fundaments in a knot over Speaker John Bercow’s decision to allow an amendment to the otherwise procedural vote on the Brexit debate, or rather on the UK’s government’s desperation to avoid a meaningful debate. So? The bottom line here is that The Speaker is the representative and protector of the interests of The Commons to the government (and monarchy, at times when that mattered).
Brexit and other Fantastical Beasts
In two days, we elect a government. In the recent history of things, we’d normally be following our historical party affiliations, where a small number of marginal seats tip the balance between parties who pivot around a vaguely centrist axis where, whatever the outcome, most of us can live with it for another five years, the while employing the traditional British relief valves of dark muttering, sarcasm and cynicism. And so the world turns.
But not this time. This time, the stakes are far greater than a short-term opportunity for an elected government to tinker with the parameters of policy, income, debt and stimulus. This time, the stakes are no less than the future of both the UK’s place in the world and, as a consequence, the future of the UK itself. This is an election whose ramifications will play out, not over a five-year term, but over generations.
So, it appears that the UK now has a ‘parliament’ where most members don’t actually understand their job description or the nature of representative democracy itself.
At its most basic, their duty is to represent their local electorate, not blindly, but through the filter of their judgement and experience, to balance and reconcile what is actually in the best interests of the constituency and of the country as a whole. There, there is a system, evolved over a millennium or so, that has put them where they are, to be the buffer between the baying of the wilfully uninformed, the ill-intentioned and the fear-driven, and the common good. That system now seems to have been abandoned, in the name of bigotry, personal agendas and party dogma. Continue reading Dumbocracy Rising