Politics

US Election: Some Hard Lessons from Brexit for the Democrats.

Brexit continues to lie untouched in the dog’s breakfast bowl, no more appetising in the cold light of day than it was when things started to smell bad on the night of June 23. Hard Brexit, soft Brexit, Brexit over easy on rye, nobody’s quite sure what they ordered. The Scots aren’t planning to shut up and eat what someone else requested on their behalf, that’s clear. Alex Salmond said recently there will be a new independence referendum in 2018.

The US is facing a similar binary choice with one indigestible option on the menu: here are some lessons from a still-suffering Remain supporter.



Turn out will be high in the US election, predicts senior political journalist Emily Rooney

“Turnout will be huge. It will be what it was the first time Obama was elected,” political journalist Emily Rooney predicted at  a women’s forum in Boston’s Beacon Hill this week. But the former political director at Fox News would not be drawn who will win the increasingly close race.

Fellow media commentator Margery Eagan said she is concerned by the possibility of a Trump win: “I don’t want to be hiding under my desk the way I was when I was five years old, worrying about a nuclear war.”

Clinton, Eagan said “knows everything”. But she “described Trump as a “magnetic’ figure, whose comments constantly “disrupt the news cycle”.

“Honestly, during the primaries if you were in your kitchen and Trump came on and made a speech you might stand there and listen, because he’s magnetic, he’s mesmerising, he says outrageous things and that’s part of what has taken him where he is today.”

She said “People forget that the media is a business and Trump has  been a bonanza for the cable channels”.



The Boomers versus Generation X

Whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins the presidential election race in the USA, the next President will be pushing 70 – and a member of the post-war generation known as the “boomers”. It’s a generation that at least here in the US is still very much to the fore. People don’t seem to say here, as I have heard in the UK, that it’s about time they started to make way for the babies of the 60s and 70s, known as Generation X, famous for cynicism, Britpop and apathy.

Perhaps looking at the godawful mess that British politics is has been left in by its Generation X leaders is not much of an advert. For some, that slacker style, like a bad tattoo has stuck with age. Both David Cameron and Boris Johnson frequently gave the impression of having done their homework in the back of the ministerial limo and spent more time on the sardonic quip or a Smiths’ reference than on policy detail.



In the USA During the Olympics – Missing the BBC

Note: There is an add at the end about how I am now able to watch the BBC abroad.

So you had to change channel during one of Andy Murray’s matches? Sorry to hear about that. That’s really vegan cheese.

Brits complaining about the BBC coverage of the Olympics should try watching them on NBC. It’s easy in the UK to get involved in the unfolding cavalcade of colour, excitement and drama that unfolds across several channels.



Leithers Scunnered By Hand-Wringing Over Pitch Invasion

A Wee Piece of Hampden Here in Leith

To paraphrase the famously dull but accurate Times headline, “Small Earthquake in Chile; Not Many Dead”, the reports of the Scottish Cup Final last weekend could have read: “Small Riot at Hampden, Not Many Hurt.”

In fact they didn’t. The Sunday morning newsstands were devoted to 20 point outrage, with the Sunday Mail alone in having a positive headline “Glory, Glory”: although Monday’s Evening News aced it with “They Claimed It.” The TV and radio took the same approach with sports coverage jettisoned in favour of bad news reporting.



At the Holyrood Election Thursday: First Vote Labour, Second Vote Tory?

Whether Labour or the Conservatives takes second place on Thursday (May 5) is the talking point of the Scottish election. Betting company Paddy Power thinks Labour; Professor John Curtice says it could go either way. Professor Curtice is probably right. He knows when to poll them, and he knows when not to call them – as “The Pollster”, a satirical version of the the Kenny Rogers song “The Gambler” dedicated to the Prof by Vic Rodrick and Annie Gunner Logan has it. (For reasons of copyright etcetera, the pair’s sharp-witted parodies are only ever heard live and if they announce dates for this year’s Fringe, grab a ticket.) Whichever way the cookie crumbles, the opposition vote is likely to be split between Labour and the Tories. So is there scope for them to pool their resources in a new politics? Is it possible for Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson to work together on at least some issues to form a coherent opposition?



Oops. Are the SNP’s Roots Showing?

A couple of things have come up for me this week as the Scottish election campaign builds towards another seemingly inevitable SNP triumph. Firstly, a friend, a committed ‘Yes’ voter and an SNP member said he was going to have to stay home on polling day. He could not bring himself to vote SNP this time, he said, because he is so appalled by the SNP’s inaction over MSP Sandra White’s behaviour. The SNP MSP apologised for re-tweeting a grossly offensive anti-semitic cartoon posted by a Neo-Nazi she follows online and whose tweets she has reposted before. She said she posted the image “in error” and no disciplinary action has been taken against her. The implication for my friend was that a degree of anti-semitism is tolerable within the Scottish National Party.



A Year of Blogging and my Most Read of 2015

A Year of Blogging and my Most Read of 2015

“The path of truth is a lonely road” Cairngorms: A cyclist emerging from a cloud inversion. Photo Rob Bruce 2015. 2015 has been the year I really started blogging. It was a big step for someone who has worked as a professional journalist and freelance to start putting their work out there onto the web without it being commissioned and paid for. Why would you write something when you are not getting a fee? Once this kind of writing was known as ‘vanity publishing’. David Torrance quoted the great and much-missed Ian Bell in his Herald column this week “There is no such thing as free in journalism. Free is just another word for hobby.” Maybe so. I believe in the value of newspapers and professional journalism.



Why is the SNP riding so high in the polls?

Why is the SNP riding so high in the polls?

The Scottish Parliament at night. Photo Rob Bruce Dec 18. Revised with input from the team at Sceptical Scot. The next Holyrood election is in May and on current form, the SNP will take almost all (if not all) the directly elected seats, leaving the Scottish Parliament with only a token (list-based) opposition. But why is this? There are many issues that “normally” might affect their poll rating.



Spending Review Sets the Scene for Scottish Tories to Beat Labour into Second Place in Holyrood Election

Was George Osborne’s spending review drawn up with an eye on the forthcoming Holyrood election?

With his U-turn on tax credits, he has certainly redrawn the political landscape; shooting Scottish Labour’s fox and perhaps creating the conditions in which the Scottish Conservative Party could become the second party in Scotland. That would be an earthquake in Scottish political terms.

Perhaps ‘Earthquake’ will be the title of Iain McWhirter’s next book as ‘Tsunami: Scotland’s Democratic Revolution’ about the SNP landslide at the General Election is piled high in Scotland’s bookshops in time for the Xmas market, illustrated with a Japanese-style drawing of a huge wave.



Edinburgh: A City in Decline?

Platinum Point from Asda Newhaven. Pic Rob Bruce.

Update: Fri November 20. The Evening News on the tram situation.

Below posted Sunday November 15

IF EDINBURGH is entering a period of decline which may last the rest of the 21st century, the SNP will have to shoulder a great deal of blame.

At a time when the city has never been more in need of strong leadership, vision and imagination for its future it is being sabotaged by a party which is prepared to sacrifice the economic prosperity of the capital to a populist agenda it believes will further its nationalist project.



Poppy Fascism? Give me Strength

    Over the last few weeks, I have noticed that some of my twitter-loving friends have been posting blogs and articles about something called “poppy fascism”. What on earth they mean by this frankly ridiculous term I’m not sure. It appears to refer to the ostentatious wearing of the poppy by politicians and public figures who are keen to link themselves to the memory of Britain’s war veterans. In some circles apparently, though not any that I am in, it is regarded as obligatory to wear a poppy and people who choose not to do so feel criticised in some way. Although as we mark the 70th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second World War, we may just pause to remind ourselves that social death is not as bad as actual death.



Scunnered by Scot-free passport design

THE ONLY WORD to describe how I feel about the new UK passport design is scunnered. Not one Scot is among the seven faces that are to be plastered across it. It is to have an embossed face of Shakespeare on every page as a security feature. But what about the other globally recognised poet these Isles have produced, our beloved Rabbie Burns?

I struggle to understand the motives behind the redesign. At the time of the referendum on Scottish independence last year, I wrote that a big part of my decision to vote ‘No’ was that I was not ready to give up my right to a British passport for what I thought was the potential mess of pottage offered by the Nats.  Commentator Allan Massie quoted me in his Scotsman column on the eve of the poll.



JK Rowling, the Tartan Tebbit Test, Scotland’s Rugby World Cup Exit

Photo: Rob Bruce. Click ‘read more’ to see the whole article.

LIKE JK ROWLING, it seems, I am an “80 minute patriot”. This is what she was called on Twitter for being a No’ voter who supported the Scottish rugby team in the World Cup.

Personally, I feel that when it comes to full-throated, flag-waving ostentatious declarations of love for one’s country, 80 minutes is probably enough. Again, for me, I don’t know about JKR, I am quite happy to stick the Jimmy hat and saltire in a bag when I leave the ground.



Why the House of Lords should scrutinise the Scotland Bill

The SNP, according to Scotland on Sunday, is ‘furious’ about plans for the ‘unelected’ House of Lords to scrutinise the Scotland Bill. (http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/snp-furious-over-lords-power-over-scotland-bill-1-3821894)

The Lords are appointed not elected, granted. But there is more to democracy than being elected. After all, Hitler was elected.

A strong democracy relies at bottom on the protection of the rights of the individual citizen. That requires more than an elected bunch of career politicians being left in sole charge of all of the levers of power.



If The Eurozone Survives the Greek Crisis It Can Come Through Stronger

 

You would have to have a heart of stone not to feel for the people of Greece. It seems ridiculous to hold Greek pensioners who can’t pay their electricity bills responsible for the jigsaw of calamities which mean that their government is now struggling under an unpayable mountain of debt.

 

The situation for Greeks has been very much worse, according to a recent report int the Ecomomist (http://www.economist.com/) than it has been in any of the other hard-hit countries such as Ireland.

 

Within any unit of economic union, some parts are wealthier than others – in Germany the West transfers assets worth roughly £80 billion to the former East Germany each year.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germany). In Britain, London funds public spending in Wales, for instance.