A good day for Scotland

NOW I’ve had the opportunity to consider last night’s result, here are a couple of points you may have missed:

Labour’s vote in Glenrothes was UP by three per cent over the general election result in 2005;

Both the Tories and the LibDems lost their deposits;

In other news, Labour won a council by-election seat in the Glasgow East constituency – in exactly the same ward where, in another council by-election just six weeks ago, the SNP won.

_41221560_lindsayroy203Lindsay Roy (left) will take his seat in the Commons on Monday 10 November – the 20th anniversary of polling in the infamous Govan by-election (not really relevant, but I’m a political anorak when it comes to that sort of thing).

And although it will infuriate some commenters on this blog, the following issues were not raised on the doorstep (and obviously didn’t have any negative effect on the result):

The smoking ban;

The absence of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty;

The “erosion” of our civil liberties;

ID cards.

I don’t know if this is a “Garscadden moment, but it certainly feels close to it. At the very least, I hope it signals an end to Alex Salmond’s extended political honeymoon.

Even if it doesn’t, yesterday was a very, very good day for Labour and for Scotland.



Filed under Alex Salmond, Conservative Party, Gordon Brown, Labour, LibDems, Parliament, Politics, Scottish Government, SNP

34 responses to “A good day for Scotland

  1. Is this possibly the dawning of the age of Brownarius and/or maybe the age of Obamius?

    (Perhaps you’re too young and/or insufficiently camp to be a fan of Hair?)

  2. Paul Williams

    I’m not sure why you think holding onto a safe seat with a reduced majority is a; ‘very very good result’. More accurately, it’s a better result than you expected (starting from the assumption you were going to lose) but it’s still a safe seat so it comes under the category of; losing it is a disaster and holding onto to it is a non-event.

    As for the doorstep ‘issues’, are you suggesting that because people in one constituency don’t mention it, it gives MP’s the right not to uphold concrete manifesto promises?

  3. C Jones

    One swallow doesn’t make a summer…………

  4. Johnny Norfolk

    Well lets hope Brown calls an early General Election. Then it will be a good day for England.

    You would not expect Scots to have even heard of the Lisbon Treaty.
    I always feel most Scotts want the government to do everything for them so I would not expect them to be interested in ID cards or civil liberties.

    Knowing the Scots there will probably be hidden clubs by now where they can smoke their heads off.

  5. John

    The erosion of our civil liberties and ID cards didn’t come up because the majority are uninformed.

    It’s an issue close to my heart, and whenever I raise it, people don’t have a clue what i’m talking about. ID cards? Never heard of them? 42 day detention without trial? Well, that doesn’t really effect me does it? I haven’t heard much about it anyway, so it can’t be that bad etc….

    What angers me the most, is that the people of this country through history have fought for the freedoms we now have. Yet, we are all prepared to give them up for the illusion of a little more security.

    I often wonder whether the MP’s that voted in favour of 28 and then 42 days themselves have any clue what they were voting for?

    The thing is, if you “know” someone is a terrorist, or about to comitt a terrorist attack, then there is evidence pointing to the fact, and they can be arrested and charged based on that evidence. What 28 and the intended 42 days does is allow the government to detain people for up to 28/42 days – a 28/42 day prison sentence, while they work out whether there is any evidence against someone.

    Are you bloody kidding me?

    Tell me Tom, would you mind being carted off to prison for 42 days while they work out whether you’ve done anything wrong?

    Here’s what 28 days has done to one young man: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jun/11/uksecurity.terrorism

  6. henry crun

    @ C Jones – may be not, but it does make for an interesting first date.

  7. Tom, remind me again of the increase in the vote for the SNP? Ta, Mike K.

  8. Alan

    A stunning result for Labour, they cantered comfortably through in the end- I certainly didn’t expect that and many others didn’t either it seems.
    However, Labour will still lose the next general election, and the sooner that occurs the better in my view. I’m not holding my breath for a poll before May 2010 though.

    The P.M. certainly wasn’t talking about Glenrothes as a vote about his leadership and Govt. when the polls suggested an SNP win a couple of weeks ago.

  9. Tom, is it true that over 36% of the working population of Glenrothes work directly for the Labour government?


    (Page 5)

  10. New Labour Model Citizen #23,122,949

    How many postal votes for Labour, Tom?

  11. New Labour Model Citizen #23,122,949

    Hidden clubs. Johnny N? Like the Houses of Parliament, you mean?

  12. New Labour Model Citizen #23,122,949

    ps. Loved the rate cut bribe, Tom. One before every by-election, but at least he wasn’t using taxpayers money to bribe the electorate this time.

    And yes, we all know the BoE is … independent.

  13. Chris' Wills

    It’s a shame that Liebor held the seat, though I should have followed my instincts and bet on them winning, then I would have won either way.

    I’m not suprised that you think this gives you cart blanche to carry on eroding civil liberties and criminalising everyone who disagrees with you. Saddened but not suprised.

  14. Oh dear

    Education, education, education


    Figures obtained by the Conservatives show the number of 18 to 24-year-olds classed as Neet – not in education, employment or training – has soared over the last five years.

    Unemployment rates among 20-year-olds alone has rocketed by almost 50 per cent since 2003.

    It comes despite a huge increase in young people staying on at school or college beyond the age of 16.

  15. Snapper

    Poor old Lyndsay Roy. There he was all-adrift on a dark and icy sea, when suddenly he sees a light on the horizon. A huge liner steams into view and rescues him from what appears to be certain death. As he staggers on board, crying with relief he asks his rescuers for the name of this wonderful ship.

    ‘Err… It’s called The Titanic’ replies Captain Brown.

  16. Tacitus

    In October 2004, it was revealed that 70% of Scottish quango appointees have links to the Labour party.

    What the %age now, Tom? And how do you feel about Quangos? You know, the ones Brown was going to make a bonfire with, but ended up creating another 40% or more.

    You see, they are unelected and unaccountable – but taxpayer funded.

    No taxation without representation?

    Over to you, Tom.

    Or perhaps we’ll just have to agree to disagree yes?

    Anyway, Hazel’s going to stop all this free speech on the net, as it doesn’t “add value”. Apparently, she is the arbiter of “added value”. Self-appointed.

    Democracy. Doncha love it?

  17. Got to say, i never saw that one coming either, nothing on the main news either about Salmond being hijacked by South Primary School protestors on Wednesday. SNP haven’t handled the mess left by your comrades very well have they?

  18. Nicholas

    Tom, is it really true that over 36% of the working population of Glenrothes work for the New Labour government and that 70% of Scots quango appointees have direct links to the New Labour party (a bit like the BBC)?

    Don’t you feel a little ashamed by your party’s eagerness to create a one-party state? I mean, it’s not very democratic is it?

    What I find curious is that despite all this evidence of vile corruption and manipulation you all seem so pleased with yourselves.

  19. Tom, I sorted Hazel out on Wednesday, face to face.

    When are you next in town?

  20. Its unfair that everyone here is bashing this MP who has the courage to write a blog and accept the torrent of unfriendly comment.
    If you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all.

    So then….. erm….ahh… er,.let’s see…er…

  21. adam

    a) Holding a safe seat isn’t a victory. In 1983 “Labour hold Jarrow” was the sign of a total disaster. That this even needs to be said is disturbing.

    b) If Labour cannot hold this seat then its over for Labour North of the border; being the Tories in 1997 isn’t a good idea.

    c) In order to hold the seat an all-out effort of pretty much every Labour person with a pulse was required. In a general election the same emphasis cannot be guaranteed.

    d) The issues that you say that people don’t raise – ID cards and so on – are slow burning issues. They are under-mining support, just as ice over a river rots from underneath. It may look like nothings changing, but suddenly skaters are in the freezing waters. So saying that just because you haven’t lost here, or that no-one mentioned it to you, is just another sign of missing the point. If you raised it with people, then they’d be against, often virulently so.

  22. jay

    Sorry to digress, but what is it with English people and Scots-bashing? I often see offensive comments similar to those of ‘Johnny Norfolk’ on other threads. I know that you’re none too happy with the perceived disparities between Scotland and England and that we had the audacity to vote for devolved powers (although I don’t remember calls for fair play by the English when Scotland was solely governed from Westminster) but would anyone make equally sweeping statements about other cultures?

    Why couldn’t the Scots be expected to have heard of the Lisbon Treaty? Why would you expect most Scots to want the government to do everything for them?

    Have you, Johnny Norfolk, ever even set foot in Scotland or do you base your prejudices on episodes of Rab C. Nesbit?

  23. Johnny Norfolk, I expect you are not just an ignorant so and so, you are doing your best to rile us up with your nasty racist little comments about Scots (NOTE – ONE ‘T’, not two) but in case I’ve got it wrong and you are just stupid, let me enlighten you. Scotland introduced the smoking pan in public places more than a year before the rest of the UK. In that time, I have ONCE spotted someone trying to light up in a public place. ONCE! However one 3 occasions I’ve witnessed it in England and I’ve only spent about 5 days there since the smoking ban. On the Lisbon Treaty, your average person of any nationality probably isn’t that interested in the detail of it. In Scotland however, most folk know it’s yet another of those extremely important treaties which will affect all of our lives but over which our nation has absolutely no influence. Right I’ve wasted enough time on you! Over and out.

  24. Martin Cullip

    It’s not surprising that people don’t tackle you in public about the smoking ban, Tom. Your party has spent the past couple of years calling smokers murderers – the 1st anniversary of the ban saw Labour encouraging headlines of “40,000 lives saved since last year” which, by implication, means that it was the smokers killing them. Of course none of it is true but sheeple unfortunately believe they are somehow inferior. Sir (haha) Liam Donaldson has openly talked about ‘denormalising’ smokers (he was talking about denormalising drinkers next on Simon Mayo’s radio show the other day … he even mentioned the term “passive drinking”! Listen again on the BBC web-site if you think I’m making it up).

    In those circumstances, why do you think the average ‘Joe the Plumber’ would tell YOU about how they hate the smoking ban?

    There is a huge amount of anger about it Tom, you can ignore it if you like, and pretend it isn’t going to lose you a hell of a lot of votes in 2010, but you’d be naive to do so.

    Caveat: Yes, I know you were one of the few Labour MPs to vote sensibly on the matter but most of the electorate wouldn’t know that unless you appeared on Eastenders or X Factor cos they don’t bother with much else.

  25. jay

    Hear, Hear, Martin. I think that many smokers are now too embarrassed or ashamed to even admit to smoking, let alone express anger to an MP associated with the government that has spearheaded the campaign of their demonisation. Personally, I find it more shameful to beat people with a big stick for their use of a legal produce with one hand while grabbing the billions in tax from use of that product with the other.

    Neil Rafferty has written a piece for conservativehome on the latest Council ‘Smokefree’ (now there’s an Orwellian word) initiatives which, in my area, include the banning of smoking at bus stops. I look forward to hearing their justification for extending the ban to the open air in a society which, presumably, doesn’t subscribe to the view that democracy is the tyranny of the 51% over the 49%.

    I disagree with you, Tom, that the ban is not an issue among the electorate but, if it isn’t now, it will be when foolish LAs get carried away with their power – and the electorate at the general election may not differentiate between a free vote and Government, and between central and local government.

    But, hey ho, most smokers are DEs who don’t vote anyway so they don’t matter…

  26. Martin Cullip

    Jay @ 7:46pm:

    You don’t need to just ‘think’ that smokers won’t admit to smoking, there is research into it from the US which proves it. No research has been enacted over here yet but I’d bet it would show the same results, if not more emphasized.


    In the US research, it is the elderly that are more unsettled and more likely to deny smoking as they are scared of losing healthcare as a result.

    Not like it can happen here of course, with our NHS for which everyone pays … oh, hold on!


    Above are just 3 examples amongst hundreds. I know of two people personally who have had conditions placed on their NHS care by these bigots. Redbridge Council this week banned smokers from fostering!

    Readers here who think it’s just smokers, you’re smug now, but if you have ANY vices, you are next. NICE have already planned it:


    There was, of course, a time when we could sue if this happened. A long time ago though.


    The NHS is becoming a protection racket. You can pay as much as you like INTO it, but you won’t get anything OUT of it unless you are acceptable to the Labour elite.

    Now, Tom. Tell me again why people want to advertise being a smoker to you, let alone letting you know that they don’t like the smoking ban?

    Your Government are a destroyer of personal liberties. You are, collectively, responsible for misery and abuse of authority. You label people as murderers for doing something legal, you refuse repayment of the electorate’s insurance that they have been led to believe since adolescence to be held in trust for them, simply because you don’t like what they do.

    You are the most hateful and divisive Government in history. You enforce by stealth, you observe and punish on the whims of your own bigotry.

    And you wonder why no-one mentions dissent to a Labour MP on the doorstep?

    The polling booth is a different matter, you can’t harangue someone there. You got away with Glenrothes, are you confident that you will get away with it nationwide in 2010?

  27. jay

    Those are interesting links, Martin. I noted that the article of the last link states that the policy of the GMC is that an individual’s lifestyle should not influence a decision to treat. Has the GMC changed its policy or can primary care trusts now overrule that policy or do they just do it anyway in the knowledge that they can get away with it?

    I noted, too, that many of the comments following the articles belied Tom Harris’ view that the demonisation of smokers is acceptable to the population at large. I think it’s because most people can do simple arithmetic and know that duty receipts on tobacco (£10m) minus cost of treating smoking-related diseases (£1.7m) equals a handsome profit for the Treasury.

  28. jay

    In my last post, the millions should, of course, have been billions. Apologies.

  29. Brian Hall

    I hear people are now starting to question the potential of fraud in the Glenrothes by-election?

    Could this reveal what opponents of Labour in Scotland have often believed regarding Labours ‘safe seats’?

  30. Frank Davis

    Tom writes: And although it will infuriate some commenters on this blog, the following issues were not raised on the doorstep (and obviously didn’t have any negative effect on the result): The smoking ban;

    So is Tom concluding that if nobody on the streets of Glenrothes in Scotland is bothered about their smoking ban, that the commenters here are entirely unrepresentative of anybody? Is he trying to gently tell these commenters that their opinions matter not a fig to him? Or that they are all in the pay of Big Tobacco?

    To put it the other way round, couldn’t Tom have responded to anyone on the streets of Glenrothes by saying, “Nobody commenting on my blog ever mentions that, so it can’t be important. Awa’ wi’ ye!”

    Paul Flynn made a similar point on his blog, saying that nobody in his constituency had written to him about the smoking ban.

    Which is the better measure of opinion? Pressing the flesh on the streets? Letters? Blog comments?

    As politicans cruise the streets and knock on doors, are they getting a good cross-section of opinion? How many people are wandering around the streets of Britain just waiting to find a politician they can give a piece of their mind? And when doorstepped by one, as happens once in a blue moon, aren’t they being asked questions (e.g. Are you going to vote for me?) which pre-empt anything they might wish to say? Might not their minds have been on something else – what’s in the oven, what’s on TV – until the knock came at the door? How many people in Glenrothes, for example, mentioned “oor oil”? And if none did, does that indicate that it doesn’t matter, or never did?

    Someone who writes to their MP, by contrast, is someone who has a particular thing to say to them, and who has marshalled words on paper to do so, and has taken the trouble to write or type it, find their MP’s address, and post it. And since, for the most part, constituents won’t wish to trouble their MPs with the least of their concerns, they’ll generally only write about the greatest of their concerns. (Of course, no doubt some write about anything and everything, I’m sure). In respect of the smoking ban, I’ve written to my bastard Tory MP twice, and on both occasions received dismissive replies. And I’ve encouraged other smokers who also detest the ban to do the same, to which the reply is all too often: “There’s no point. You can’t change anything.”

    That leaves blogs. It’s easy to post on blogs. Much easier than writing a letter. And far more informal. And so people are much more inclined to write about anything and everything on blog comments. People are less inhibited about it. And so, most likely what appears in blog comments is likely to be not just what matters to them most (and would go into a formal letter) but what bothers them generally.

    So what politicians encounter on doorsteps is quite likely what people are concerned about at the time their doors are knocked on. And what MPs get in their mailbags is most likely what people are most deeply concerned about. And what they find in their blog comments is what their commenters are generally concerned about in a far more wide-ranging sense. Each is ‘valid’ its own way. But blog comments are probably a better measure of general mood than the snapshot from glad-handing, or from a single letter.

    What I would suggest that all this means is that the smoking ban is not the top priority for most people, or even for most smokers, but that there is considerable disquiet about the ban not far beneath the surface, much of it unexpressed. And, in many cases, inexpressible – because it reaches so deeply into matters of democracy and freedom and law.

  31. Martin Cullip

    Very well put Frank. It does seem that politicians seem to dismiss discussion where they see fit, if not all of it TBH.

    “I’ve received no letters”, “blog posts unrepresentative”, I’ve heard the same about letters to local papers too.

    The theme running through all of these denials is that a complaint isn’t accepted unless it is what the politican wants to hear.

  32. Other good news you missed:

    SNP increase share of the vote by 13% … kinda puts Labour’s 3% into perspective!

  33. You’re absolutely right, Alasdair. This was a terrible result for Labour and a brilliant one for the Nats. Can’t imagine why Alex and Nicola are so “disappointed” as the FM put it. He should be cracking open the Champagne, surely?

  34. Martin Cullip

    Just to re-visit Alan Johnson’s quote about the hospitality trade. I seem to remember he dismissed a local LVA petition with the words “smoking ban not hurting business, in fact, the effect has been largely positive” (not verbatim)

    Funny that, as after over 2,000 pub closures, “… tax inspectors, after consulting legal counsel, now accept that the smoking ban represents a “material change” to the trading position of pubs.” and are downgrading their business rates as a result.”

    From the Telegraph: http://tinyurl.com/5akcg4

    Wasn’t the ban supposed to INCREASE the attractiveness of pubs? That’s what ASH said. How could they (and Alan Johnson) have got that so wrong? Here is ASH’s dispelling of what they called the ‘myth’. Looks like Freedom2Choose got it correct and ASH spectacularly WRONG.


    What’s more, despite NO proof of a single death from passive smoking, there is now REAL proof of deaths from anti-smoking drugs.

    “Health chiefs have revealed that ten people have committed suicide after taking a controversial anti-smoking drug linked to depression. …US authorities announced they were investigating 37 similar cases there.”


    Meanwhile, the demonisation of smokers continues apace … ooh look, there’s Dawn Prim ‘n’ Proper again.


    Is there a vain hope that Labour might one day turn their attentions to declaring war on THESE fanatics that are terrorising our daily lives, Tom?

    Remember, the links above are from just 2 days. There will be a new set in another 2 days.

    You say you aren’t told about hatred for smoking bans. The evidence is overwhelming that pub-goers hate it, the debate is over, you are not told about it on the doorstep as your own front bench are still haranguing people about it, ignoring evidence of smokers voting with their feet. So why bother telling you when you won’t listen?

    Your party brought in the smoking ban, you refuse to accept it is causing problems and you push for further bullying at every turn. Why would anyone tell YOU about it? What’s the point?

    I’m old enough to remember telling my Epsom & Ewell Conservative MP in 1989 that the Poll Tax was a stupid idea, others with me told him the same but he just laughed it off. I had written him letters previous to that and received nonsense replies. I gave up as it wasn’t worth it.

    Keep laughing Tom.

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