Saturday, May 05, 2007

Ming must go, and Salmond must be stopped

No, I' ve not been ignoring the local elections. But as it happens, this year was the first time since 1989 that I didn't have to cover them live for either a newspaper or a website, so rather than join the live-blogging bandwagon I thought I'd take a step back from it all for once!

I also had a column to write on it yesterday, and since (unlike this blog) that earns me good money, it had first call on my priorities!

Two days on, though, and it seems the dust is now settling a bit, to the point where more considered judgements can be made. The two main conclusions I would draw from the local, Scottish and Welsh elections are summed up in the title of this post.

Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond seems likely to be Scotland's First Minister. He shouldn't be. Ming Campbell seems likely to continue as Liberal Democrat leader. He shouldn't either.

To take Salmond first, he is no doubt entitled to claim some sort of victory from the fact that the SNP has emerged as the largest party in the Scottish Parliament, and as such he is entitled to have first crack at forming an adminstration.

What he is not entitled to claim is that there is a separatist majority either in the Parliament or in the Scottish electorate.

Salmond's commitment to staging and winning a win a referendum on Scottish independence by 2010 is a policy so dangerous and so utterly wrong-headed both for Scotland and for Britain as a whole that he must be prevented from ever being in a position to carry it out.

Whatever their differences on other matters, the future of the UK is an issue of such importance that Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems should now agree to form a Grand Coalition that reflects the unionist viewpoint of the majority of the Scottish people.

To his credit, Sir Menzies Campbell has appeared to rule out any sort of deal between his party and Salmond's unless the referendum pledge is dropped.

Sadly, it is clear from the Lib Dems' dismal performance in the South of England that Ming is the wrong man to counter the Tory revival that is occurring under David Cameron.

I said when Ming became leader that I thought he was the wrong choice but I was prepared to see how he performed in the job before casting judgement. The overwhelming evidence is that he isn't cutting the mustard.

If it's too soon for a return to Charles Kennedy - in top form again on Thursday's Question Time - then it's time Chris Huhne was given the chance to see what he can do.

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12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Should Nick Clegg run for the leadership if Ming steps down, then it will be him who leads the party, and not Chris Huhne.

Chris Abbott said...

Gawd, Paul, "Scotland, Scotland, Scotland" - you wouldn't think there were only five million people there.

And the "Union"...

It's easy to see you're wealthy enough not to be bothered by the West Lothian Question, health apartheid, etc.

We don't know what anybody really thinks until the people of the UK are given ALL the facts and each nation is allowed a referendum. And England's opinion matters just as much as elsewhere.

What really irks me is well-off chattering classes types whittering on and on about the Scots and how important the Union is, whilst not giving a damn about the discrimination levelled against the people of England by the "UK" Government.

Sorry to rant, but I'm up to my limit with it.

skipper said...

You could be right Paul, about Huhne but the last leadership contest was such a trauma for the Lib Dems, I don't see that boat being rocked before the next election unless their poll standings dive southwards bigtime. And are you sure Kennedy has beat the booze properly?

Paul Linford said...

Anon

Clegg is a man of straw. What's he ever done except look good on the telly and write a couple of decent articles for the Guardian?

Chris

I think that must be the first time I have ever been accused of "not giving a damn" about the discrimination levelled against the English by the UK government. I do, after all, have absolutely no idea what the Barnett Formula is, and have never written a single newspaper story or blog post about it in my entire career.

It is perfectly possible to believe in national autonomy and a fair financial settlement for each nation of the UK, and still believe in the union. It's called federalism.

Skipper

Did Churchill manage to beat the booze before he went and won us the frigging war?

Anonymous said...

This has got sinister overtones of the kind of shenanigans we saw at the last AGM of the Attleborough Weasel Trousering Society written all over it.

Anonymous said...

What do people what put ferrets down their trousers have to do with politics..?

Anonymous said...

Well there we go. I said weasels, not ferrets, didn't I.

We trouser weasels because they are a smaller, more easily-trained variety of mustelid than ferrets, which are prone to bouts of unpredictable behaviour.

I know what I'd rather have down my trousers but what do I know. All this politics shite obscures the real issues affecting rural life if you ask me.

james higham said...

After your post header, there's not much left to say. I was thinking along those lines too.

james higham said...

Paul, by the way, may I take issue with your poll?

Firstly, less than seriously - where is the Chipmunk?

Secondly, more seriously, Ed Balls must be stopped because he is a groomed Bilderberger and Illumined Rising Star.

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TinnedSalmond said...

Most people who read this blog know of Paul's longstanding interest in the Barnett formula.

As a fellow English social democrat, though, I disagree with his assertion that Scottish independence would be a disaster. If similarly sized (or even smaller) countries such as Denmark, Slovakia and Montenegro can make their way in the world, why not Scotland? As Hamish McRae has noted, the Scots are already in the top ten in areas such as financial services, have some of the best universities in the world, and a Scottish diaspora across the world, particularly in the US.

As for the threat of near-permanent Tory domination in England, this could be prevented by PR (which would also probably result in a long-overdue realignment, in which the Cameroons could form a party with the Orange Book LDs, the LD left could form a party with the Labour left, the Tory Cornerstone Group and Redwoodites could join with UKIP, and the Blairites and Brownites could form a party known a New Labour, with the Brownites freed from pretending that they have much - or anything - in common with the Labour left).

I disagree even more with Paul's anti-democratic opposition to a referendum. The voters of Scotland knew very well that the SNP proposed a referendum on the topic, and they voted for the SNP as the largest party. So are we back to Bertold Brecht, 'Why not dissolve the people/And elect another?'

My suspicion is that either Brown or Cameron will do what John Howard did re. the referendum on Australia becoming a republic, ie frame the question in such a way that the exponents of independence will be split.

Orange Book Marcher said...

Can it really be said that the LDs wouldn't have lost local government seats under Charles Kennedy? Some sort of fallback was likely, what with gains from the Iraq war fading, and Cameron's centrist pose (in which the same old reactionary muck, such as prioritising abolition of inheritance tax and stamp duty on shares ahead of taking the poor out of income tax, is presented under a nice shiny centrist toilet lid) winning back many Tories in the south.

The best situation for the LDs would be Clegg or Huhne as leader. Ming as leader, though, is far, far better than if Kennedy hadn't resigned, had stood in the leadership election, been re-elected by the armchair membership, seen his brightest frontbenchers such as Vince Cable withdraw, and been left with an LD frontbench of weirdoes and numpties such as Lembit 'Cheeky Boy, let's have a political solution with Al Qaeda' Opik.

On that topic of Tory gains in the south, it's often forgotten that Kennedy's leadership saw the LDs make a net loss of two seats against the Tories at the 05 GE. That was when the rumblings against Kennedy began.