Thursday, 31 July 2008

Is it siblicide time?

You know those times when you look away?

There's a scene in The Wind that Shakes the Barley where fingernails are being pulled out with pliers and an entire cinema crowd turns away at once. Gentlemen and less gentlemen will acknowledge a blow to another's anatomy which makes you seek to cover your own delicate areas.

That kind of "there but for the" feeling is what many non-Labour political types will be feeling right now. Miliband's wee tantrum rebellion turns out to be more than a wee tantrum with rumours of the ghost of Christmas past backing it along with other "colleagues". When the outriders turn their attention in concert to the target, it's fair to assume that the bunker has been occupied and there's about to be blood on the family heirlooms - Miliband is unlikely to survive the fallout but it will be messy.
I did love the charming naivety of the Home Secretary when talking about the possibility of a challenge to Brown:

"I don't think that's what we want at a time when people are worried about the economy."
On top of that there's the continuing financial crisis at Labour UK (£19 million in debt - £19 million!) which threatens to send the whole of the party careering into oblivion. It got so bad that the Labour party in Scotland had no dinner in all of 2006, according to note 6 on page 13 of the annual accounts.
Then there's the collapse in their membership - sitting at 158,868 UK-wide at the end of June this year, compared to 407,000 in 1997 - a drop of 61% in 11 years. They don't publish Scottish figures, but a population share of their UK figure, assuming Scotland to be 9% of the UK population would give them 14,298 members - the same size as the SNP except that the SNP is increasing in size and Labour is shrinking.

Looking at Labour's Scottish accounts, however, tells a different story - membership and subscription fees for Scotland fell from £123,076 in 2006 to £114,403 in 2007. That figure includes "Fees received from MPs and MSPs", but that isn't quantified, so we'll have to treat the whole lot as membership income. Labour's membership fees are £36 a year with a concessionary rate of £12 a year. If every member paid the full rate there would be 3,178 Labour members in Scotland; if every member paid the concession there would be 9,534 Labour members in Scotland. The true figure will be somewhere in between (remembering that there will also be an adjustment for MPs and MSPs). No wonder Labour membership numbers in Scotland are secret.
Just to compound the woe, Cathy Jamieson, so far the most competent of Labour's Scottish leadership hopefuls, made a right pigs ear of a press conference, and Andy Kerr turned into Sherlock Holmes:
"What I have learned is that there are a multitude of reasons why people have become disillusioned and have either not turned out to vote or have voted against us,"
By far the worst start, however, was made by Iain Gray - he's got the support of George Foulkes and Rhona Brankin.
These are the old heads on young shoulders, the creme de la creme of Labour - such little spark!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

I think that this Labour councillor is right

Labour Councillor Elizabeth Maginnis has a piece on her blog where she asks a very sensible question:
why are we spending money improving bus routes that nobody wants into the Waterfront (Newhaven Road) when we can't afford much wanted improvements to pedestrian routes?

A fine question - especially if you ask the same about trams:

Why are we spending half a billion pounds (£500,000,000.00) on trams to the Waterfront that nobody wants when there are lots of other spending areas which would use the money far more appropriately?

Well done Councillor Maginnis!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Disaster for Scotland

Helen Eadie has betrayed her loyal fans!
Just when we were all gearing up for the gruelling campaign ahead, she's gone and went and done it and turned up to support thon Catherine Jamieson.

I'm gutted.

We'll have to cancel the rally - the banner's wasted.
Those T-shirts won't be any use to anybody anymore.
What a pity - I'm sure our support could have done it for her.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Sweeping up around the edges.

Glasgow East now being over and activists' sleep balance restored, minds will be starting to move on (some will, of course, wander), and all that has been excitement and breathless enthusiasm will become footnotes in history.

So, at the last caring, let's serve up a few wee thoughts and tales.

Inside the campaign -
I can exclusively reveal (well, he told a few other people as well), that Alex Salmond (he of the Firstness of Ministers) was leaving a restaurant in Edinburgh during the campaign after buying dinner for his Special Adviser staff when he was accosted by a gentleman who informed him that he had an associate who lived in Glasgow East who had not yet decided who to vote for.

Never one to let an opportunity slip by, Salmond asked the chap to call his associate (to my shame, I can't recall whether it was a family member or a friend) and the surprised voter at the other end found himself talking to the First Minister. Needless to say Mr Salmond was pleased to hear that he had spoken to the chap just as he was sitting down with his postal ballot paper in front of him to decide who to vote for - only several thousand more calls to make then ...

Pity them not
In her concession speech - which was more gracious by far than her victory speech last year - Margaret Curran said that "Labour is a cause not a career". If that were true then not only would it not need stated, it would never have entered her mind as a possibility. It is also strange to consider your party as the cause rather than as a vehicle. For example, nationalists view Independence and the improvement of Scotland as our twin causes and view the SNP as the vehicle to carry us there. It is as foolish to confuse your party and your cause as it is to confuse your car and your journey.

Ms Curran did, however, say that Labour has to listen to the message from Glasgow East and to act on it. I'm sure that she will be among those who make sure that Labour hears the "Go away" voiced by Glasgow East - accepting that they have done wrong and seeking ways to make amends is the only way in which Labour members can start rebuilding their party for the future. It will take more than one decade, but, if there are still any Labour members left who believe in what Labour once stood for, they may consider it a worthwhile exercise.

Two left feet
An interesting observation and no more, perhaps, but the SSP gathered in 555 votes while Solidarity brought in 512 votes - a total of 1,067 to compare to the 1,096 votes that the SSP took in this constituency in 2005. If there had been no split, it's entirely possible that the Lib Dems would have been fifth (no way to prove this, of course).

Hoi! Put that back!
The LibDems should not be happy in the slightest about the result. With a decent candidate trundling along, the LibDem vote was simply lifted and carried away - probably in perpetuity, there is no apparent reason for it returning. The campaign gaffe over the fire station (demanding it stay open when it was LibDem Ministers who pushed through the legislation that allowed it to shut) was allowed to pass because no-one thought that the party mattered - and Rennard's teams just never showed up.

As noted by a poster on the Lib Dem forum, the LibDem core vote does not exist - and that's going to cause them major problems in the next Westminster election as the focus in England will be on the Labour v. Conservative battle; in Scotland on the SNP beating Labour; and in Wales on Plaid Cymru and whatever elements of Welsh Labour feel motivated to campaign. The Liberal Democrats will all but disappear under that kind of pressure.

The Conservatives
Well, much as they'll have been delighted to have saved a deposit in this bye-election and come ahead of their imitators, the Conservatives will be very well aware that Scotland still isn't going to be fertile territory for them at the next election - a few seats, nothing more - and they'll know that the battle to be joined in Scotland doesn't include them.

Here's how the votes changed:

SNP: +6,009
Labour: -7,836
Conservative: -496
Lib Dem: - 2,750
The Red Corner: -29

That means that
SNP increased the 2005 vote by 114%

The Assorted Socialist Parties' vote dropped by 2.6%
The Conservative vote dropped by 23.2%
Labour lost a whopping 41.9% of its vote.
But the LibDems were the biggest losers, almost exactly three-quarters of the LibDem 2005 vote going elsewhere (75.03%)

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Tipping point elections

Every so often there is an election which matters more than others because it becomes a critical juncture and changes the direction of politics. 1979 was one, obviously, although 1983 was perhaps more pivotal (entrenching the change), just as 1992 mattered more than 1997 - 1992 allowed the New Labour project to destroy the Labour party.

You can find the same in other countries - the 2002 French presidential election, the 2005 German federal election, US Presidential elections in 1981 and in 1992, and the 1993 Japanese election, for example.

Bye-elections can be in that category too - Hamilton 1967, of course, and Garscadden 1978 - and Glasgow East fits in there. Where Garscadden was an election which knocked the SNP in the run-up to a UK General Election, Glasgow East was an election which confirmed the strong position of Scotland's Party following a successful Scottish General Election. One was a set-back for the SNP and the other was a significant advance for the SNP.
To understand just how significant an advance winning Glasgow East is, consider this - the Labour party was created in 1906 from the Labour Representation Committee. Ever since John Wheatley won his seat in the 1922 election Labour provided the UK Parliamentary representation in the east end of Glasgow - until Thursday. From November 15th 1922 until July 24th 2008 - not far off 86 years. This isn't Labour's heartland, it's right in the heart of what used to be Labour - and the electorate has switched its support.

It's an indication that the SNP's determination to improve Scotland is resonating with people who are fed up being told they shouldn't 'get above their station', that they shouldn't aspire to be anything more than they had been told they were allowed to be.

The worst crime Labour committed against Scotland was the long, slow and painful damage to hope. That damage is being repaired now - a long, slow process in itself - and we have a new optimism. Bring it on!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

This is how close the SNP is to winning Glasgow East

How close are we to winning Glasgow East?

5 19 29 at the time of writing.

From the traditional SNP voters to those who used to vote Labour but have now changed allegiance, more and more people every day are pledging their vote to the SNP cause and are determined to vote for a better MP on Thursday

I've discovered that the uncle of an MSP has decided not to vote Labour ever again - he'll be voting SNP this time.

I hear that even Margaret Curran won't be voting for herself in this election ...

There's a rumour that the guy that Labour sent to spy on the SNP campaign last Saturday left with a membership application form.

Brian Donohoe's car is a nationalist, apparently, and couldn't tear itself away from the SNP campaign rooms.

Meanwhile, in other news, Alastair Darling is about to ditch another economic rule and allow borrowing to exceed 40% of GDP. The economy's in trouble, the London Government is about to lose control of its borrowing in the same way that it has encouraged people to borrow more than they could afford in the last decade, loosening the lending markets and contributing to the current difficulties facing all of us. Marvellous, isn't it?

This, too, shall pass.

5 days, 19 hours and 29 minutes - that's how close we are to winning Glasgow East.

Mind how you go!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Ah, the Glesga banter ...

There was a chap I spoke to in Glasgow East when I was canvassing - mid fifties, perhaps - who told me he was voting SNP for the first time ever after a lifetime commitment to Labour. He didn't say he was ever a member of that party, but he did say that he'd always voted and always voted Labour and was changing his vote now because Labour isn't even a shadow of the party it once was and its members "will say anything now to get elected" while the SNP Government has impressed him by doing some things he thinks needed done.

That wouldn't have been enough to change his vote, he said, but Labour politicians "have nothing to say these days, they're always negative". He used to think that there might have been a point in the 1980s and 1990s to attack a government he thought was bad for Scotland, but he's not so sure now that even that was a good idea. It contrasted unfavourably with earlier generations of members of what was once a movement who had argued the case for which early Labour MPs were sent to Parliament. He got straight to the point - "telling lies in a shrill, hectoring tone is no substitute for the discipline of good debate".

I can see his point. Labour's campaigning seems to be a series of lies these days - Margaret Curran started her campaign in Glasgow East by lying about where she lived, she continued it with a lie about the Scottish Government reviewing bus concessions (Labour ordered the review before they were turfed out of office), and she sunk to a real low by faking the endorsement of a war hero (you can read the full story of that on Guido Fawkes' blog).

Her dishonesty is an example of the very worst of Labour's politics and follows the dishonesty of Wendy Alexander over her dodgy donations which was so recently exposed.

John Mason will make a fine MP - so long as he doesn't wear this shirt ...

Thursday, 10 July 2008

For Brutus is an honourable man ...

Plenty people have heard the protestations of Wendy Alexander and her team (including the fragrant Margaret Curran) that all the advice she got was that she didn't have to register her leadership donations and that she is as honest as the day is long.

The Standards Commissioner's report has been published now, and it's interesting reading. Remember that Wendibles had the opportunity to object to observations made in the report. Parts of it were even changed to accommodate her opinions. She didn't object to these bits:

Let me point you to the Clerk's note at Appendix 6:

Chat with Wendy Alexander re Party Leadership election

8 November 2007

Wendy explained that she was about to release a press release regarding donations made towards her party leadership campaign. After reading out the text of the press release, she stated that this was for our information. The press release was more focussed on the requirements of the Electoral Commissioner rather than the Register of Interests. I explained that the Election Expenses category required registration of donations which exceed 25% of the expenses for the members’ election as a member and therefore would not apply to the Party leadership campaign.

I did however also explain that any donation could be considered as a gift and therefore it would be required to be registered if it exceeded £520 and met the prejudice test. Wendy explained that the money have been donated to a separate account set up for the purpose and therefore was not made to her personally.

That would be advice from the Clerks that she was obliged to register the gifts then.

Here's something else from the interview at appendix 14:

16. Paul Green does not appear on the list. His donation is recorded against the name “Combined Property Services”. I believed that the donation had been made on behalf of Combined Property Services. That matter was investigated and considered in detail by the Electoral Commission. In a few cases, there was ambiguity as to whether donations were given personally by an individual with a controlling interest in a company or from a corporate account. Donations from the Phoenix Car Company and Strathvale Holdings were erroneously listed as arising from individuals and Paul Green’s donation was erroneously listed as a corporate donation. Again, the Electoral Commission has been provided with full and complete information in the context of its investigation. The Commission’s judgement later was that there was a breach of the 30 day reporting requirement in relation to Paul Green’s cheque – there is a £200 reporting threshold for impermissible donations. I did inadvertently break the law on the 30 days on Paul Green. I was totally unaware of the date on which it had been received or that it was the first one banked; in that sense it was a technical breach.

[I pointed out to Ms Alexander that the dates given for receipt or banking of the donations on the voluntary return [all between 19 and 25 October 2007] differed markedly from the dates supplied to me in December 2007 by her solicitor along with copies of the cheques and some pages of the campaign bank accounts. For example Paul Green’s cheque was banked on 31 August 2007 but it is recorded on the voluntary return as being received/banked on 23 October 2007. By the time of the first receipt recorded on the voluntary return, over £7000 had in fact been withdrawn from the account. From the later information, six donations had been received prior to 9 October 2007 and four had certainly been banked by then. The significance of 9 October is that it is 30 days before 8 November, when Ms Alexander sought advice from the Clerks. I asked her how it came about that such inaccurate date information was provided to the Electoral Commission, and if she accepted that her seeking of advice from the Clerks had occurred after the 30 day limit for registering interests in relation to around half of the relevant donations?]

So misleading information provided to the Electoral Commission as well then.

Let me introduce Labour's new spin-doctor, Milo Minderbinder ...

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Oil be back!

North Sea Oil.

Oil & Gas UK's 2008 Economic Report has been published, and it predicts a massive increase in taxation flowing to the Treasury from North Sea activity - in spite of the downturn in production caused by Labour's taxation regime.

In 2007 the industry paid £7.8 billion in direct taxes to the London Treasury. In 2008 the industry predicts a tax bill of around £15 billion with a further £5 billion to £6 billion in tax receipts added from UK supply chain activity, primarily from Corporation Tax and payroll contributions.

That's a tax take to the Treasury of at least £20 billion (£20,000,000,000) this year.

Interestingly, the industry predicts this tax take from an average price of $110 per barrel. Brent Crude is currently sitting at $142.31 per barrel - and the tax take increases as oil prices go up.

That's a lot of money!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Repainting Devolution

A friend - one of the voices - has pointed out a strange thing about the Commission to repaint Devolution. I've looked at it and find myself obliged to agree, it's passing strange - many of the appointed painters bear uncanny resemblances to other people -

Colin Boyd looks remarkably like Lord Boyd of Duncansby.
Murray Elder is a dead ringer for Baron Elder of Kirkcaldy.
Jamie Lindsay could easily be mistaken for the Earl of Lindsay.
James Selkirk - well I would have confused him with Baron Selkirk of Douglas.
Jim Wallace I could have sworn was Baron Wallace of Tankerness.
What do these people consider to be so wrong with using the titles they lusted after and sooked out at costs unknown? Is it something to be ashamed of that they sit in a legislature to which none of them were elected or does that just apply when they are in Scotland? See yon birkie ca'ed a lord - bring on the man of independent mind, I say!

Then again -
Rhani Dhir is a Dundonian, so she must be OK.
Professor David Edward is a fine fella and a true intellectual (what he makes of his 'peers' on the repainting commission is beyond me).

You know what would have been a better idea than this commission? A National Conversation on the future of our wonderful country. Why did no-one think of that?

Monday, 7 July 2008

Oops they did it again ...

There is an old aphorism that the challenger in an election always demands a debate with the incumbent and the incumbent usually refuses.

Margaret Curran (Labour) has just challenged John Mason (SNP) to a televised debate during the Glasgow East bye-election. That, then, would suggest that she sees being the Labour candidate as being the challenger in this 'safe' Labour seat.

I haven't yet heard, but I strongly suspect that John Mason will say *ahem* "bring it on". He's a better politician than Margaret Curran and he'll shine in any debate against her.

When you're smiling, when you're smiling ...

If you were the Labour candidate in a 'safe' Labour seat would you say
"I am putting my name forward because I'm deeply committed to the communities of the East End of Glasgow. I am hoping to be the Labour nominee in order that we have a spirited campaign in the by-election."
A spirited campaign? Nothing about fighting to win? Is Margaret Curran talking down Labour's chances deliberately or has Labour written the seat off in the same way that Lib Dem activists have written off their party's chances (see Lib Dem Voice)

While we're on the subject, though, there's a fair bit of talk about how Gordon Brown will be mortally wounded if Labour loses Glasgow East to Scotland's Party - the SNP.

Would this be the same body of opinion that said that Brown couldn't survive a poor result in the English local elections? Labour got horsed but Brown stayed in place.

What about the voices that said he couldn't survive Boris Johnson winning the Mayoral election in London - Brown never moved an inch.

Crewe and Nantwich was the first bye-election defeat for Labour at the hands of the Conservatives Since Mitcham and Morden in 1982 - and in that election Labour's former MP, Bruce Douglas-Mann, had resigned the seat in order to stand as an SDP candidate, thus taking the incumbency advantage with him. Brown is still in office.
Labour lost its deposit in Henley but Brown is still in office.

Labour doesn't seem to appreciate just how much electoral trouble it is in, and I suspect that Labour members will allow Brown to remain leader right the way through to a serious cuffing at the next general election - whenever Brown has the courage to call it. Bring it on, I say!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

East of Eden

News from my good friends in Glasgow - things are going swimmingly!

Following on from the sad news that George Ryan will not be Labour's candidate in Glasgow East, and that Labour is breaking its own rules by reopening the candidates' list, we hear the fascinating news that Margaret Curran may become the candidate.

It would seem, however, that a prophet is without honour in her own land - it's game on, the political map of Scotland has changed massively even since last year's election and it looks like it might be about to change even more.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Lib Dems copying Labour again!

We all know that Labour is in turmoil just now - and it's going to get worse round about the 24th of July. The Lib Dems have played copycat to Labour by having a lack of leaders in Scotland and Lib Dem members have now decided they fancy a bit of turmoil too. I refer you to the very informative online Lib Dem discussion website Liberal Democrat Voice, and in particular to the page about the bye-election in Glasgow East.

There are some interesting posts there from Lib Dem members talking about the Lib Dems losing significant numbers of seats to the Conservatives come the next election (probably right) and others arguing that the Lib Dems should now dump their current positions and volte-face to seek to win seats from Labour (what, no principle involved?)

Here's a wee selection of Lib Dem comments - I have, of course, edited them to pick out the bits I like best:
ash Says: 29th June 2008 at 12:00 am
Dan says;
We stand and we fight. We’re a political party seeking political power FFS. It’s what political parties do.
True. But doesn’t it need to be done for a purpose? I know this party has beliefs and principles but we present ourelves as an “anything for a vote” bunch of opportunists with all the “winning here” and bogus bar chart stuff.
Good to see that at least one Lib Dem member dislikes the way their party orders its affairs.

Anonymous Says: 28th June 2008 at 11:42 pm
At the moment, the party, as represented on these boards - which I hope to God isn’t the same thing as the party in reality - is giving the impression of a bunch of people who want to be elected, casting around for the “message” - any “message” - that will get them elected.
Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose ...
Sesenco Says: 28th June 2008 at 11:14 pm
Glasgow East presents a number of difficulties.
There are few Lib Dem activists in the region, and I can’t imagine too many coachloads of English members making the trip there. The constituency is a collection of rather grotty 1950s and 1960s council estates with high levels of crime and anti-social behaviour. Sectarianism, class hatred and Anglophobia are rife. It is not a very safe or pleasant place to run a byelection campaign (especially for those who have English accents).
Is this really what Lib Dem members think? That if a constituency has a few areas where straw boaters are uncommon then it can't possibly be worth bothering about the people who live there?
Douglas Says: 28th June 2008 at 11:02 pm
In by-elections we usually get by on a variation of “we are not the government”. At national elections this hasn’t worked.
Surely a political party should have more to say than "we're quite fluffy"?
Anonymous Says: 28th June 2008 at 4:14 pm
Get real - we can’t win this.
I’d prefer us to start spending the serious money currently being thrown on hopeless by-election campaigns in reinforcing and defending our current crop of seats that are under considerable threat from the Tories.
If we don’t re-focus, I believe we risk overstretch - with the result that we will lose a large batch of Lib Dem / Tory marginals and still fail to capitalise on Labour weaknesses where we are in a close second.
This is the ‘meltdown’ scenario that I fear we are sleep-walking into by pretending the political backdrop has not substantially changed in the last year.
I, for one, am totally fed up with being told - by email, text and through the post - that we can win everywhere there just happens to be an election and all we need is a final push, another leaflet, more people etc etc, when it should be clear we simply can’t.
Look at that - honesty from a Lib Dem who knows that they'll be losing seats right across England to the Conservatives come the election. They'll also be losing Scottish seats to the SNP.
Tez Burke Says: 28th June 2008 at 4:08 pm
It’s time to get real. Run a paper candidate and tacitly back the SNP. We haven’t a hope in hell here and any amount of bar-charting and “winning here” rhetoric from Cowley Street is going to backfire even more spectacularly than C&N
What can I say?
C Davison Says: 28th June 2008 at 3:38 pm
Go through the motions. It’s obvious this is a two horse race and we ain’t one of the horses.
We’d just compound the problems that are surrounding the ramping up strategy if we went down the ‘Winning here’ route. Besides we only got 8% and 6% in the Scottish Parliament seats in 2007 that make up this constituency. We’d be ignored or laughed at.
Neigh bother!
Douglas Says: 28th June 2008 at 2:54 pm
I would put a minimal effort into to be honest.
Just as the Lib Dems are being squeezed by the Tories in England, the SNP in Scotland are the dominant political force. We offer nothing against them and unfortunately Nicol Stephen comes accross as an over-promoted school head-boy.
Let the SNP & Labour fight it out and watch from a safe distance.
What a cruel thing to say about Nicol Stephen! I'm shocked that a member of his own party can be so forthright about him.
Anonymous Says: 28th June 2008 at 2:34 pm
Can we not get someone to stand on a point of principle that we agree with, and thereby avoid standing and (possibly) losing our deposit?
It's all about the money, it's all about the dum dum.
And I don't think it's funny
(with apologies to Meja)
Anon2 Says: 28th June 2008 at 2:31 pm
After Henley, spend about a tenner on it.
So there you have it - Labour gets rid of its Scottish leader, the Lib Dems get rid of theirs, Labour descends into chaos, the Lib Dems follow. We can only hope that the good people prevail and the dodgy bar graphs and "winning here" guff goes out the window - let's see some honest campaigning from the Lib Dems.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Nick Clegg to resign in 2009 ...

Pesky Lib Dems - they can't even leave Labour the glory of a leadership campaign without joining in - can't see green cheese.

Nicol Stephen is about to resign as leader of the Lib Dems in Scotland - they're not half going through leaders - Jim Wallace stood down from that post in 2005, Charles Kennedy resigned as leader in 2006, Ming Campbell resigned as leader in 2007, now Nicol Stephen goes in 2008, it's obviously Nick Clegg's turn next year.The Conservatives and the Greens seem steady enough at the moment.

So who's up for the scrap to take over as leader of Scotland's wee party? Is it time for Tavish Scott? Will Mike Rumbles run again? Is Jeremy Purvis' ambition too strong to resist? Does Jamie Stone have enough cheese? Has Margaret Smith got her ducks in a row? Is Alison McInnes the new brush that will sweep clean?

With Glasgow East looking good for an SNP victory, politics in Scotland is a most interesting spectator sport at the moment - Gordon of the Brown could be next to go.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Elephant polo

Scotland's really good at elephant polo - which you can understand given the remarkable qualities of the native Scottish elephant - but it would appear that a young fellow by the name of Andrew Murray is intent on eclipsing the might of Scotland's elephant polo teams (for we have more than one international class elephant polo team - oh yes).

A quite stunning display by the young Dunblaner last night, reminding me of my own days at the tennis - watching, of course. I hear that someone is looking to challenge him for the crown:
Nae chance, of course, tennis players need fast reactions and very fast decision making skills ...

I hear rumours from my very favourite people in the Labour party that power-broking has become the new sport, arms are being twisted, and inducements are being offered. Brown, the story goes, is determined to make sure that the possible contest for the vacant post as milk monitor to the Labour group in Scotland's Parliament does not become a political melt-down.

It would seem that the Broon would prefer a leader to 'emerge' or for the contest to be disgustingly one-sided, but doesn't yet have a preferred bidder. Charlie Gordon is birling his hat in his hands and threatening to throw it into the ring - which would, of course, reopen the whole dodgy donations saga - and he's looking for a buy-off, but what could he be offered? Surely he's in it for real? And surely the loss of Glasgow East will deal a serious blow to the ambitions of anyone from the west coast?

In spite of all the posturing and coquetry ongoing just now, I'll buy you a coconut if there are two or more serious contenders for the vacant post - Labour is terrified of the damage that leadership campaign could do.
Unless, of course, Helen Eadie stands!