We can make this a better country with UKIP. I run a science fiction bookshop in Glasgow (which partly explains my enthusiasm for human progress). Married to Hazel. Living in Woodlands. My father was Eastwood candidate for the Liberals. I spoke at LibDem conference in support of nuclear power, against illegal wars, for economic freedom and was the only person to speak directly against introducing the smoking ban. I was expelled, charged with economic liberalism. In 2007 I stood as the 9% Growth Party for economic freedom and cheap (nuclear) electricity. I am still proud of that manifesto - if vfollowed we would not have rising electricity bills and would be 80% better off with 7 years of 9% growth.
- UKIP is the only party opposed to Scotland having the most expensive "Climate Change Act" in the world; only party that wants us out of the EU - only part of the world economy still in recession - the rest is growing at an average of nearly 6% a year; only party opposed to effectively unlimited immigration; committed to growing our economy by the only way it can be done Economic Freedom + Cheap Energy; we offer referenda as a basic citizen right, as Switzerland and California do. --- Neil Craig

Saturday, 28 June 2014

The Scottish Tories Are Deservedly Unpopulat Because Of The Callous PM who Deliberately Destroyed Our Industry And Killed Communities

     This is to prove some ideas I have about the fall of the Conservative Party in Scotland (and thus of the apparent fall in support for market freedom so long as there was no other credible free market party here).

   At the start of this Scotland gave the Tories just over 50% of the vote, more than Labour has ever achieved. By comparison Wales was always dodgy ground for them and in fact if you bear in nmind that neither main party hopes to get above 40% of the UK vote now a Tory drop of 4% from 30% to 26% there proportionately counts as a gain - certainly so compared to Labour.

    The first Tory drop here is from 50% to just under 40% over the 15 years between 1955 and 1970. That loss is serious. It covers the period of the Conservative councillors, who used to fight under the name Progressives (a title the left now claim so I assume they think it is attractive) largely dropped that name and became Conservative. This was the end of a particularly Scottish, anti-socialist, political institution which didn't suit the vision of Tory "modernisers" of the time and which incidentally suited the Unionist vote - basically the group of, mainly protestant Liberals who at the end of the 19thC or later, split from them over Irish home rule. They were willing to work with the Tories but were never really were comfortable being them. The protestant unionist vote was a group Tory "modernisers" were embarrassed to have supporting them. Even so, while losing 12% of the vote is a bad fall, remember that this was the period when the SNP first won Hamilton and became something more than a fringe and when the Liberals were rising from the edge of non-existence to 7.5% in 1970 so probably half of this drop can be put down to these factors.

     The 36 years from late 1974 to 2010 shows a drop from 24% to 17%. Again bad but not a disaster, at least as counts the amount of change. There was a UK wide drop up to 2005 of 4% (though they recovered elsewhere in 2010 - Gordon Brown was not as unpopular here  as elsewhere). There was a greater fall here during Thatcher's 2nd and 3rd elections but it was certainly not the "electoral poison" she is claimed to have been. I think some of that can be blamed on their opposition to devolution and some (though the better than UK recovery in 1992 suggests not much) to the coal industry being bigger here.

       The real disaster in Scottish Conservative voting was from 1970 to late 1974. A 4 year period that saw them fall from 38% to 24%. 37% of their voters gone. Now that is the definition of electoral disaster.

      So what was the cause of this. I am going to say it was Ted Heath's selling out of the fishing industry to join the EU. The EU's common fisheries policy, that the fish belonged to the whole EU not the countries in whose waters they were, was cynically cobbled together hours before negotiations with would be new members started. Heath and his supporters made it absolutely clear that they were willing to sell out our industry. It was, after all, an industry concentrated in far away Scotland, in small towns and villages where the metropolitan media never go. In his calculation of the political balance of power these people, their livelihoods and homes were expendable to achieve Heath's dream of membership of the EEC.

      Since fishing was a largely a small business, with captains owning their ships, it was not unionised. These towns and villages, didn't have the support of massive union power (much more massive then than now) and their PR and machines and flying picket thugs. Their fate has barely stirred the surface of the UK political and media class. While media pundits still lament how Thatcher destroyed mining communities (she didn't, economics did) they are simply ignorant of how Heath, quite deliberately and with no economic justification at all, murdered (murder being deliberate planned killing) Scottish fishing communities. But it stirred Scotland into considering that not only were we being ignored by London (we always knew that and being ignored by Westminster is not so bad) but that we were actively expendable and betrayable.

      It may be 40 years on and the party may, or may claim to be, offering us the chance to leave, but the Scottish Tories deserve every single lost vote.

      But the SNP don't deserve any better. The Tories may have murdered the industry but the self styled "Scottish National Party" have kept on mutilating the body. Nobody, not even the LibDems, are more enthusiastic for us staying in the EU. Nobody, certainly not the present Tories, are as keen to pay our membership of the EU in Scotland's fish. Though it is certain the terms of membership of a their "independent" Scotland would involve far more than what the EU already have from Britain. The SNP know the people of Scotland would never support another such sell out - that is why this most unpatriotic of parties has said it would not allow us a vote on rejoining the EU.

       Yet the fishing fields are still there. A fair proportion of the fish are too, despite EU overfishing and they should recover if there were a few years of only the current UK landings taking place. If there were the political will to do so.

       What the people of Scotland, and particularly the coastal fishing regions, need is a genuinely patriotic Scottish party (Scottish and British patriotism being entirely compatible) putting forward a Scottish programme which would include quitting the EU and allowing the British fishing industry to be as good as ever. Or better.


Friday, 27 June 2014

Cameron Fails, Abysmally Not Just Badly, To Stop Junker

Dan Hannan, one of the more intelligent Tories has this to say about Cameron not merely failing but being humiliated in  his attempt to get a less centralising EU President:

"The game is up. No one will now believe that the United Kingdom can deliver a substantively different deal in Europe. The FCO's ploy of doing a Harold Wilson – that is, making some piffling changes and presenting them as a significant new deal – has been discredited almost before it began.

If David Cameron couldn't prevent the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission, no one will believe that he can deliver a more flexible EU, with more freedom of action for its member nations.

I suspect this is one of those situations where normal people get the point more easily than Westminster journalists. For those inside the bubble, it's about personalities: Juncker's supposed drink problem; Merkel's supposed treachery; Cameron's supposed humiliation. But the rest of the country will, I think, see the bigger picture. We have just discovered, in the most brutal way, how lightly we weigh in the counsels of the EU. If anything, Britain's opposition to Juncker's appointment – which was common to every political party – served to rally other governments behind him. Our influence in Brussels, in other words, is not just nugatory; it is negative.

As recently as ten days ago, I thought that a compromise would be found. Surely the other members wouldn't actively drive Britain to exit, would they? In the event, they could hardly have been clearer. First, the new Finnish prime minister hectored us, telling us to 'smell the coffee' and realise how dependent we were on the EU, whatever form it took. Then Angela Merkel, coming out of the meeting, gave a press conference in which she said that ever-closer union must apply to all 28 member states"
  I cannot disagree with a word. I wish I thought Cameron was sincere about renegotiation or that the Lab/Cons were sincere in their "support" of his attempt to stop Junker getting the top job. In which case all 3 would support our right to a referendum - now.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Abusive Lying MP Should Apologise

Letter to the press. Note how the press don't so much write stories as all copy them, often word for word, from the party/government spindoctors:

      On Sunday Chuka Umunna got BBC airtime to say UKIP supporters are too stupid to use email. Since polls show that on our main policies as much as 70% of the British people agree with UKIP that is a sweeping claim.

      Today a whole train of separate papers have, spontaneously written, in almost exactly the same words, about how he has, allegedly, been "abused" by people he had already abused so disgracefully & dishonestly. It must be coincidence that they all spontaneously wrote in the same words, if our press is as free and independent as it claims.
    As a member of the Labour party he is a supporter war crimes, ethnic cleansing, genocide, child rape and worse actions so obscene you would not publish them, in Kosovo so perhaps more racially abusing than abused.
   The BBC's Charter legally requires them to be "balanced" so if the BBC respected law, they would give at least equal airtime to UKIP voters abused by Umanna. If the  press were attempting impartiality they also should report both sides..
   I can assure readers that I am perfectly capable of using email and take personal exception to Umanna's gratuitous and predjudiced blanket attack on us. I call on him to publicly apologise and on the media to give at least equal coverage to those attacked as  to those engaged in dishonest, gratuitous, fact free vitriol. Or if he refuses, on his party to.
Neil Craig
(by email)
Some of the spontaneous stories coincidentally written in similar terms
Chuka Umunna targeted by racist online trolls after saying Ukip supporters
Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP for Streatham, was branded a "spear chucker" and a "cave man" on a Facebook page after he suggested "a lot of" ...
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A south London MP has been targeted by racist online trolls after suggesting that Ukip supporters can't use computers.
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Chuka Umunna targeted by racist online trolls after saying Ukip supporters
Chuka Umunna targeted by racist online trolls after saying Ukip supporters 'can't use computers'. A south London MP has been targeted by racist ...
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Chuka Umunna targeted by racist online trolls after saying Ukip supporters
A south London MP has been targeted by racist online trolls after suggesting that Ukip supporters can't use computers....
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Chuka Umunna targeted by racist online trolls after saying Ukip supporters
A south London MP has been targeted by racist online trolls after suggesting that Ukip supporters can't use computers., News from standard.co.uk ...
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Chuka Umunna targeted by racist online trolls after saying Ukip supporters
A south London MP has been targeted by racist online trolls after suggesting that Ukip supporters can't use computers. | World | standard.co.uk.
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Chuka Umunna targeted by racist online trolls after saying Ukip supporters
A south London MP has been targeted by racist online trolls after suggesting that Ukip supporters can't use computers. Chuka Umunna, the Labour ...
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Monday, 23 June 2014

  Letter to 30 papers:

       This morning I found that, overnight, somebody had plastered a large Yes sticker (5" so much rarer than the button sized ones) on my door. I assume this is because I am well known as a UKIP supporter or because I have asked some pointed questions of the cybernats on the Wings over Scotland site.

      Remember how Alex Salmond went out of his way to endorse the thugs who attacked Nigel Farage last year (& rejected Willie Rennie's call to "call off his dogs" when Nigel visited this year.

      If this is how the "nationalists" behave now, what should we expect if they win?

Neil Craig

Friday, 20 June 2014

JK Rowling - Independence Is Not Just For Christmas

     This is JK Rowling's comments on independence. As Mike Haseler pointed out the original was formatted to make it difficult to read, which is a shame because it is about as serious and sensible as anything anybody has said on the subject:

Before you read the following, please be warned that it’s probably of interest only to people who live in Scotland or the UK (and not all of them!)  If you read on regardless, you need to know that there is going to be a referendum on 18th September on whether or not Scotland should leave the United Kingdom.  If you’re only vaguely interested, or pressed for time, there’s a mention of Death Eaters in paragraph 5.

I came to the question of independence with an open mind and an awareness of the seriousness of what we are being asked to decide.  This is not a general election, after which we can curse the result, bide our time and hope to get a better result in four years.  Whatever Scotland decides, we will probably find ourselves justifying our choice to our grandchildren.  I wanted to write this because I always prefer to explain in my own words why I am supporting a cause and it will be made public shortly that I’ve made a substantial donation to the Better Together Campaign, which advocates keeping Scotland part of the United Kingdom.

As everyone living in Scotland will know, we are currently being bombarded with contradictory figures and forecasts/warnings of catastrophe/promises of Utopia as the referendum approaches and I expect we will shortly be enjoying (for want of a better word) wall-to-wall coverage.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I am friendly with individuals involved with both the Better Together Campaign and the Yes Campaign, so I know that there are intelligent, thoughtful people on both sides of this question.  Indeed, I believe that intelligent, thoughtful people predominate.

However, I also know that there is a fringe of nationalists who like to demonise anyone who is not blindly and unquestionably pro-independence and I suspect, notwithstanding the fact that I’ve lived in Scotland for twenty-one years and plan to remain here for the rest of my life, that they might judge me ‘insufficiently Scottish’ to have a valid view.  It is true that I was born in the West Country and grew up on the Welsh border and while I have Scottish blood on my mother’s side, I also have English, French and Flemish ancestry.  However, when people try to make this debate about the purity of your lineage, things start getting a little Death Eaterish for my taste.  By residence, marriage, and out of gratitude for what this country has given me, my allegiance is wholly to Scotland and it is in that spirit that I have been listening to the months of arguments and counter-arguments.

On the one hand, the Yes campaign promises a fairer, greener, richer and more equal society if Scotland leaves the UK, and that sounds highly appealing.  I’m no fan of the current Westminster government and I couldn’t be happier that devolution has protected us from what is being done to health and education south of the border.  I’m also frequently irritated by a London-centric media that can be careless and dismissive in its treatment of Scotland.  On the other hand, I’m mindful of the fact that when RBS needed to be bailed out, membership of the union saved us from economic catastrophe and I worry about whether North Sea oil can, as we are told by the ‘Yes’ campaign, sustain and even improve Scotland’s standard of living.

Some of the most pro-independence people I know think that Scotland need not be afraid of going it alone, because it will excel no matter what.  This romantic outlook strikes a chord with me, because I happen to think that this country is exceptional, too.  Scotland has punched above its weight in just about every field of endeavour you care to mention, pouring out world-class scientists, statesmen, economists, philanthropists, sportsmen, writers, musicians and indeed Westminster Prime Ministers in quantities you would expect from a far larger country.

My hesitance at embracing independence has nothing to do with lack of belief in Scotland’s remarkable people or its achievements.  The simple truth is that Scotland is subject to the same twenty-first century pressures as the rest of the world.  It must compete in the same global markets, defend itself from the same threats and navigate what still feels like a fragile economic recovery.

  The more I listen to the Yes campaign, the more I worry about its minimisation and even denial of risks.  Whenever the big issues are raised – our heavy reliance on oil revenue if we become independent, what currency we’ll use, whether we’ll get back into the EU – reasonable questions are drowned out by accusations of ‘scaremongering.’  Meanwhile, dramatically differing figures and predictions are being slapped in front of us by both campaigns, so that it becomes difficult to know what to believe.

I doubt I’m alone in trying to find as much impartial and non-partisan information as I can, especially regarding the economy.  Of course, some will say that worrying about our economic prospects is poor-spirited, because those people take the view ‘I’ll be skint if I want to and Westminster can’t tell me otherwise’.  I’m afraid that’s a form of ‘patriotism’ that I will never understand.  It places higher importance on ‘sticking it’ to David Cameron, who will be long gone before the full consequences of independence are felt, than to looking after your own.  It prefers the grand ‘up yours’ gesture to considering what you might be doing to the prospects of future generations.

The more I have read from a variety of independent and unbiased sources, the more I have come to the conclusion that while independence might give us opportunities – any change brings opportunities – it also carries serious risks.  The Institute for Fiscal Studies concludes that Alex Salmond has underestimated the long-term impact of our ageing population and the fact that oil and gas reserves are being depleted.  This view is also taken by the independent study ‘Scotland’s Choices: The Referendum and What Happens Afterwards’ by Iain McLean, Jim Gallagher and Guy Lodge, which says that ‘it would be a foolish Scottish government that planned future public expenditure on the basis of current tax receipts from North Sea oil and gas’.

My fears about the economy extend into an area in which I have a very personal interest: Scottish medical research.  Having put a large amount of money into Multiple Sclerosis research here, I was worried to see an open letter from all five of Scotland’s medical schools expressing ‘grave concerns’ that independence could jeopardise what is currently Scotland’s world-class performance in this area.  Fourteen professors put their names to this letter, which says that Alex Salmond’s plans for a common research funding area are ‘fraught with difficulty’ and ‘unlikely to come to fruition’.

According to the professors who signed the letter, ‘it is highly unlikely that the remaining UK would tolerate a situation in which an independent “competitor” country won more money than it contributed.’  In this area, as in many others, I worry that Alex Salmond’s ambition is outstripping his reach.

I’ve heard it said that ‘we’ve got to leave, because they’ll punish us if we don’t’, but my guess is that if we vote to stay, we will be in the heady position of the spouse who looked like walking out, but decided to give things one last go.  All the major political parties are currently wooing us with offers of extra powers, keen to keep Scotland happy so that it does not hold an independence referendum every ten years and cause uncertainty and turmoil all over again.  I doubt whether we will ever have been more popular, or in a better position to dictate terms, than if we vote to stay.

If we leave, though, there will be no going back.  This separation will not be quick and clean: it will take microsurgery to disentangle three centuries of close interdependence, after which we will have to deal with three bitter neighbours.  I doubt that an independent Scotland will be able to bank on its ex-partners’ fond memories of the old relationship once we’ve left.  The rest of the UK will have had no say in the biggest change to the Union in centuries, but will suffer the economic consequences. 

When Alex Salmond tells us that we can keep whatever we’re particularly attached to – be it EU membership, the pound or the Queen, or insists that his preferred arrangements for monetary union or defence will be rubber-stamped by our ex-partners – he is talking about issues that Scotland will need, in every case, to negotiate.  In the words of ‘Scotland’s Choices’ ‘Scotland will be very much the smaller partner seeking arrangements from the UK to meet its own needs, and may not be in a very powerful negotiating position.’

If the majority of people in Scotland want independence I truly hope that it is a resounding success. While a few of our fiercer nationalists might like to drive me forcibly over the border after reading this, I’d prefer to stay and contribute to a country that has given me more than I can easily express.  It is because I love this country that I want it to thrive.  Whatever the outcome of the referendum on 18th September, it will be a historic moment for Scotland.  I just hope with all my heart that we never have cause to look back and feel that we made a historically bad mistake.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Going Beyond Maurice Saatchi's Cutting Corporation Tax Idea

    Maurice Saatchi has produced for the Centre For Policy Studies (and implicitly for the Tory Party) a proposal to abolish Corporation Tax for all but the 10% of largest companies and also abolish Capital Gains Tax for the same people. Saying

"The Policy outlined in this document will:
 abolish Corporation Tax for 90% of UK companies
 reduce the deficit faster than predicted by the OBR 
 expand employment faster than predicted by the OBR
 increase competition and challenge Cartel Capitalism
 let millions of people grow tall. 
These millions of individuals will enjoy:
 the opportunity to say “I am the captain of my ship”
 more money
 more freedom
 the first step on The Road from Serfdom.
The nation as a whole will benefit from:
 a change in culture as big as “Own your own Home” in the 1980s
 greater economic growth and lower unemployment than forecast by the OBR
 more competitive market places
 more freedom and independence from Big Government and Big Companies."

    I have been pushing for CT cuts since before 2004. Basically following the example of Ireland where they cut CT, in a series of steps to 12.5%, and reduced regulation, particularly on housebuilding and achieved a 7% average growth rate.

    So what do I think of Saatchi's slightly different proposal? It is an improvement. His is costed at £10.5 bn. Mine of cutting all CT by slightly more than half would cost just over a billion more. Not much difference. However by concentrating it all on smaller companies he gets some advantages - smaller companies provide more employment growth; smaller companies tend to be more innovative, until they grow into bigger companies; smaller companies have more difficulty borrowing so profits are more important for expansion.

    He also has the advantage of being able to run it through an economic model. Lets take advantage of that.

    The conclusion is that this £10.5 bn cut would increase growth by about 0.8%, though not in the first year because the investment has to work through. That means that by the end of a 5 year Parliament that growth would have replaced all that tax cut. Saatchi says that this 0.8% estimate is "conservative" and I agree. Indeed that is 1 of 3 reasons I believe the position is much better than he offers:

1 - Irish growth was 7% - 4.5% better than ours. Even if we assume more than half was due  to the regulatory cuts (not the common feeling but probably true) and that, because Ireland is so much smaller than us, having lower taxes opened them up to proportionately more investment than us we still come out with the growth potential being around twice the 0.8% given. Also Irish growth did not take a year to take off and this is reasonable if investors see an improved investment opportunity - they will not wait, but start investing immediately, if they can.

2 - Increased national debt is only a problem in relation to the size of the economy. If we have growth of an extra 0.8% in the economy, debt can increase the same without making payment more difficult. Indeed if the size of government is unaltered there is actually proportionately more uncommitted money in the economy, though this is only a marginal effect.

Our current national debt is £1.4 trillion so 0.8% is £11.2 bn, just slightly above initial and maximum borrowing.

3 - If you have a growing economy you need to increase the money supply to keep prices stable. Money in UK circulation is rather larger than 1 year's gdp. In fact it was £2,200 bn in 2010 - presumably about £2,400 bn now. So an extra unexpected 0.8% growth means we can and should print £19 billion extra.
   This is not estimating conservatively but it is the realistic best estimate and if we don't do it there is no reason to believe reality will be conservative either.

    So clearly we should go with this asap.

   I would go further - promise that the take on CT and other business taxes will not be allowed to rise - if the economy grows, as it will, increasing the tax take, we will raise the level at which CT comes in (& when it is fully abolished, business rated and other such taxes). This means investors can look forward to a stable profitable investment, which is all they need.

    But I would like to see this as merely the start.

    The formula for economic growth is:     Economic Freedom + Cheap Energy

    Low business tax is only part, the smaller part, of economic freedom. The greater part is not having parasitic state regulation. At least tax money goes back into the economy, albeit in less efficient ways and excluding the cost of government taxing and returning it. Wealth destroyed by regulation, for example 98% of the cost of electricity, is gone forever.

   So we should should cut regulations wherever possible. As a minor effect that also cuts government spending a bit - it costs government all of 1/20th, to regulate, of what it costs the productive economy to be regulated.

75% of housing cost is regulatory - 34% X 75% = 25.5%
(I assume this includes heating it)

The EU regulations come to another 5%
(assuming the cost is equally borne by the people as by the government sector which is an optimistic assumption)

Remaining portion of income that goes to the value of what we actually choose
100% - 25.5% - 5% =69.5%

That 69.5% is, in turn reduced proportionately by all the other factors. Take off commercial building costs (est 2.5%), electricity charges through the rest of the economy (est 2%),accountancy (7.5%), child care (est 2.5%), assorted other (est 10%)
Total 24.5%

Therefore percentage of income we nominally get to spend which we actually get in our pockets & spent on the product not the surrounding regulation
69.5% X (100% - 24.5% = 52.5%
     But if the regulatory part of economic freedom costs us more than the tax part the other side of the equation, cheap energy has even more potential. Roger Helmer has written of the advantages of letting decisions on electricity be made on economic not ideological grounds.

    The correlation between growth in energy use and in gdp is undisputable.

Enerconics1_html_m68263661         It has been calculated and indeed is undisputed that app 98% of the cost of producing electricity here is governmental parasitism. 

       Nuclear is currently 40% of the average cost of our power basket.
China is building at 0.27 our costs.

Because China is building in three years and us in ten we have seven years foregone income while paying interest – assuming the normal 10% return that is 1.10^7 = 1.95
Assume China is not entirely without state parasitism – say 10% 
VAT and carbon levies 20%
How much could cost be reduced if it was allowed to mass produce reactors - three fold seems a conservative estimate.

60% X 0.27 X 1/1.95 X 90% X 1/1.20% X 1/3 = 0.0208 or 2.08% of current costs.
97.92% parasitism.
       Major reductions, not quite as major, could be done by allowing the market to produce shale gas. Any reduction on electricity costs, not just one as major as this, if the laws of supply and  demand work, would produce a many fold increase in energy use and therefore a many fold increase in gdp.

       Indeed I have previously proposed a 24 point programme to the world's fastest growth, which includes my original CT cutting proposal, and it would work. Theoretically we might expect most of the proposals to increase growth by about an average of 2% a year, Some more, some less.

       In practice we might be limited to a bit above the 20% growth Guandong province in China managed for years. Certainly the theoretical maximum, if we make growth our "Number one priority" (Scottish labour leader Jack McConnell promising at 2 elections - he knew what people want even if he lied about giving it) cannot be lower than the actually achieved maximum.

      Saatchi's proposal is a very good one, well thought out and verified. But it is only a small fraction of our potential.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Ideas The Other Parties Will Never Adopt

   When I stood 8 years ago for/as the 9% Growth Party I put forward a number of policies. All of them remain undone, though obviously all the other parties have known of them since. So I'll repeat some of them on occasion, particularly Glasgow ones. If you approve of them the one thing we can say for certain is they won't get done by any other party (admittedly if you think they are bad ideas the same applies):

  First one was giving the Red Road flats to their occupants as an alternative to demolition. Ah well, to late now.

2nd - Paint a line along the pavement between Glasgow Central & Queen St stations with the distance in metres written so that strangers know the way.

This seemed then and seems now to be a simple cost free way of making life a little easier for tourists (though I admit I originally suggested the line be orange because that is high visibility :-)  )


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Another Unpublished Letter

       I note Alex Salmond has replied to the rather worrying statement by the Swedish PM that he and other leaders would be worried about the "Balkanisation" of Britain.
      Salmond replied that this comparison was offensive - to the people of the Balkans.
      What a dash our prospective Holyrood Prime Minister is going to cut before the world.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Proportional Representation (PR) or First Past The Post (FPTP)

   A few days ago I was, as one is, involved in a pub discussion over Proportional Representation V the First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system.

So this is a list of the arguments for PR, most of which I never thought of at the time:

1 - Its democratic. We get the results we actually voted for.

2 - PR is far more stable than FPTP since a small change in % voting doesn't mean an utterly opposed party gets a majority.

3 - In economics one of the few things almost all economists agree on is that free competition is better than monopoly for customers and in particular for encouraging innovation. And in turn that maintaining a monopoly requires barriers to entry to the industry. FPTP is a very high barrier
 since, at least in theory UKIP, to take 1 example, could get 25% of the national vote and 0% of representatives (ie 0 MPs).

4 - FPTP artificially enhances differences between different geographical regions. In Scotland FPTP gives us an overwhelming Labour majority on under 40% of the vote. In the south of England there is an overwhelming Tory majority, again on about 42% of the vote. In fact neither are remotely as "leftist" or "rightist" with the majority voting against the ruling "consensus". This has led Scots to actually believe the guff we are told of how we have different political values - leading to the current referendum.

5 - Where a particularist party (ie one which deliberately appeals to an ethnic group or "working class") gets a hold and its supporters live together (thus no feminist party can use this) it will get representation far greater than similar non-particularist parties. Particularism means people not caring for society as a whole which is a bad very thing for society.

6 - MPs in marginal constituencies get changed but those in safe seats have a job for life. In safe ones the only electorate the MP need fear is the tiny number of people in their constituency selection committee.

7 - Where there are several parties, as now, the majority of people in the large majority of constituencies are going to be represented by somebody they didn't want. How "represented" that makes them feel must be questionable.

8 - Thus under FPTP people, correctly, feel their own vote doesn't count.

9 - Indeed parties' political analysts often say the election turns on about 50,000 floating voters in marginal constituencies.

10 - In some areas you get 1 entirely immovable party that has held complete power for generations, which encourages corruption and contempt for the electors (yes I do mean Glasgow Labour).

11 - The US civil war is an example of the breakdown of trust that FPTP can produce. The South's secession was as brought about by Lincoln winning an overwhelming majority of electoral places on 39.7% of the vote. Had there been a run off he would probably have lost.

12 - Because FPTP tends to dragoon politics into a 2 party system it means the nuances of dissent aren't shown.

13 - Theoretically FPTP should produce a 1 party system because a party that gets 60% of vthe vote in every constituency will get 100% of MPs. Normally this doesn't happen because ruling parties turn out uniformly to be so bad that opposition coalesces into an 2nd party - hence 2 party system. The only exception to this is Singapore where 1 party has won since independence, but Singapore has actually had remarkable competent government.

14 - Gerrymandering (setting constituency boundaries in such a way as to ensure voters for those in charge are spread evenly enough for them to win a small majority in some areas while all opposition voters are in one constituency where they get only 1 member) is a constant problem, sometimes more blatantly than others.

15 - Feedback. The great advantage of democracy, or any sort of parliamentary government, over other systems is that when something isn't working society sends a sign. This is known as negative feedback and is a requirement in any complex machinery (the centrifugal governor made the steam age).  The glandular system does the same for the body. I believe such feedback is equally vital to governmental systems. FPTP does allow some feedback but it takes much greater effort and usually limits the signal that can be sent to the official opposition party's.

16 - Because power is in the hands of big parties, the individual MP's fate is very much in the hands of whoever is party leader. When MPs stand in their own name they are almost always squeezed out. Compare this with both Margo MacDonald and Dennis Canavan both of whom refused to accept being fired by their parties.

For PR

1 - It maintains the constituency link - everybody can find out who their representative as (though as #7 shows) the odds are they will not represent their views.

2 - It provides united government able to take action. Thus when Mussolini took power he introduced an FPTP rule applying to the total Parliament - that the largest single party must automatically get 60% of the seats. This system is in some ways better than our sort of PR in that the barrier to entry is only at the government level not at the getting into Parliament level so parties with new ideas are not so wholly excluded. Decisive united government is a bonus, if you are sure it will be decisive in the right direction.
   Which explains why, consistently over decades, polls have shown the British people support PR by roughly 70%:20%; why the ruling parties who are doing well out of FPTP support FPTP & why UKIP supports PR. I think the results of the next election, where the winner is likely to get no more than 35% of the votes and the 2 losing parties above 25% will show how corrupt our present system is.

Friday, 13 June 2014

A Scottish Constitution Should Liberate Us Not Enslave Us II - Emulating the Swiss Example

A Scottish Constitution Should Liberate Us Not Enslave Us II - Emulating the Swiss Example

My latest ThinkScotland article is up - thoughts on libertarian constitutional arrangements for Scotland as opposed to the SNP who would clearly like a Constitution which cements in place the leading role of the big state/anti-nuclear/windmillery/mass immigration/anti-enterprise party. Please put any comments there.
  Follow up to my previous Constitution article.
(Teaser - I have another one coming up there in a few days which is arguably the most important international news story of the decade. Don't expect our approved media to scoop me)

  What the Constitution Should Provide

    I wrote recently about the leftist Holyrood consensus for a Scottish constitution designed to lock in the permanent power of the state to dictate to us over global warming, high taxation, foreign "aid", and general busybodying, even if we voted for something different. This is the SNP "aspiration we have for our country". We won't get any referendum to say whether we approve this straitjacket.

    So I am putting in my twoppenceworth. This is my list of things that should be in a Scottish constitution designed to maximise freedom; to encourage economic growth; and to limit the overbearing power of government. This is the true Scottish tradition, going back to the Enlightenment. It may not appeal to our current apparatchiks but David Hume, Adam Smith, Gladstone and Sir John Cowperthwaite (the Scots civil servant revered in Hong Kong for letting them build a wonderfully successful city with no resources - simply by keeping government out of the way).

    I'm assuming we remain part of the UK but quit the EU. Its my party and I set the rules.

    In which case I expect a federal or indeed confederal UK to emerge. That suits me. I believe the separation of powers that such states have restrict arbitrary power and have been consistently the most stable and prosperous of states. As "confederal" means that power rests with the locals who can decide whether to be part of the unit, Britain has already become a confederal state. The very fact of Westminster accepting our right to a referendum confirms this (whereas Spain, Italy and Turkey are unambiguous in saying their citizens have no such right and the USA once fought a war against the principle). Even though it is not in the interests of either side in the current referendum to say so I am quite surprised that the enormous constitutional importance of this event has gone essentially unmentioned.

    The basic mechanism of this constitution will be to limit the power of the state to bully us (rather than increase it as the SNP propose). Freedom and free markets work - this has been demonstrated across the world and throughout history.

   Scotland should have a right to cantonal government. Areas where the locals can decide to suspend Holyrood legislation and costs (but not to institute new ones). Scotland is culturally far more diverse than England and from Orkney to the Borders there are regions which would like to be a little looser. Compare the freedom and success the isle of Man has compared to the culturally similar, marginally larger and historically more important Islay and you will see what opportunities they could have. (My guess would be we would have Glasgow and Edinburgh based cantons in the central belt, perhaps Lanarkshire to, Stirlingshire, Borders, Fife, Aberdeenshire, 2 or 3 Highland ones, Orkney, Shetland and several Islands or collections of Islands.

This recent academic study of the way Switzerland has been able to maintain a multi-ethnic society for 700 years, with a consistently remarkable level of internal peace and economic success (& a lack of empire building) concludes that it is a result of "Good Fences" ie that cantons can live together because they have the maximum level of devolution and were drawn on fair ethnic lines. Scotland has similar geographical divisions - not as clear as between Glasgow and Edinburgh but much clearer between the islands and mainland. In some ways we have less history of unity than Switzerland with only a couple of centuries between Orkney, Shetland and the Lordship of the Isles uniting with Scotland before the Kingdom united with England.

I am also going to suggest that, like Switzerland, we should have a right of referendum at both the Scottish and Cantonal level.

This is how they describe it:

....popular vote called to challenge a piece of legislation already approved by the Federal Assembly. If any person or group opposed to the new law manages to collect 50,000 signatures within 100 days of the official publication of the proposed legislation, the voters as a whole are given the chance to decide.

In most cases, a referendum is only called if those who feel strongly about the issue manage to collect enough signatures.

However, the authorities are obliged to hold a referendum if the legislation involves an amendment to the constitution initiated by the government, or any proposal for Switzerland to sign a major international agreement which cannot be rescinded.

In the case of an initiative or a mandatory referendum, there has to be a "double majority" for it to pass, meaning a majority of the people as a whole, and a majority of the cantons must approve it.

   I'll make no bones of the fact that, as a supporter of small government being more efficient than big, I believe strong cantonal government that cannot be overturned without constitutional change (which would require strong popular support) would mean that much of the country would initially show both market freedom and economic success and thus, in time, all of it would. This is what Switzerland shows.

   Vital to this is that borders of Scots cantons would have to be fair and thus initially approved by plebiscite and a constitution process existing which would allow new cantons to come into existence in future if the desire is there.

I don't propose a 2nd chamber - we have more than enough full time politicians here. I would be happy to see the MSPs and MPs folded into 1, all elected by a PR system. 60 odd people doing both jobs would not have the copious free time to come up with new bans that has been the preeminent feature of Holyrood. Obviously this can only happen when the rest of the UK adopts proportional representation too.

I suggest our Council of Economic Advisers should consist of 5 members appointed not by Holyrood but by the 5 Commonwealth nations that have, over the last 5 years, achieved fastest growth. That would be both independent and guaranteed to provide good advice. Their reports should be public.

Constitutional Limits on the Power of Government

* A rule stopping the state imposing price and wage controls (this is lifted from Milton Friedman in the 1980s and while the argument here has been largely won political fashions do come round again.)

* Citizen juries, chosen in the same way as normal juries to take over some of the job of Holyrood committees, particularly when any constitutional proposals are aired.

* Over regulation - "Holyrood shall make or maintain no law which, under reasonable cost benefit analysis, imposes a cost benefit ratio more than 4 times greater than allowed in a significant & similar situation." It would be nice to be able to apply this to Westminster too. I am assuming we have resolved the EU problem.

* Failure standards - "Any government proposal shall have to contain failure standards including time to achieve, cost, employees required & pre-set performance standards. The right of citizens to see these standards in civil programmes shall not be infringed and in the event of failure the project manager and proposing Minister shall be made ineligible for public employment." This one is lifted from an episode of Yes Minister where it was agreed it would work and thus the civil service would bury it. It has never been heard of since.

* One  of the major problems of government is the way criminal or incompetent governments can not just loot the state of the people's money but heap future governments with a "contractual" liability to pay more to their friends and them. Whether this is PFI or long term contracts for windmill power or indeed nuclear power or fraudulent contracts for aircraft carriers we don't need and haven't aircraft for.

I suggest a constitutional bar on one government contracting liabilities for 2 parliaments ahead in any circumstances and if contracting liabilities during the next parliament must get 2/3rds approval from the current one so that the probable winner of the next election (except in unusual cases like UKIP) would have accepted the liability in advance. That would also have to apply to increases in the national debt.

Wouldn't stop it when both government and opposition were idiots (as with our windmillery and a forth crossing that costs 8 times more than it ought) but should slow it down. Accountants will tell you that, due to compound interest, anything that takes more than 10 years (2 Parliamentary terms) to pay for is going to largely interest payments.

* Initially 10% of all government funding of science and new technology shall be by prizes, with specific winning conditions, available to any citizen rather than grants to approved persons without failure conditions. That if such prizes are independently shown to be more cost effective any increases in spending will go to prizes until they at least equal grants. (This is a simplified requirement for X-Prizes and thus a present to myself.)

* Government expert appointees - any applicants for posts requiring predictive advice must, for 3 years, have made such predictions, publicly reported, and been among the 3 most successful predictors and must continue to do so. So no more Chief Science advisors or economists who always agree with what the politicians want, always get it wrong and thus keep their jobs.

* Wasteful government - Establish two commissions whose job is to recommend practices that ought to be eliminated on the grounds that we can’t afford them, or never needed them in the first place.

1 - The commissioners should not be government employees, and ought to be paid no more than £100 a day consulting fee and £30 a day expenses. Let it be a typical commission, with 2 members appointed by the Prime Minister, 1 each from the 3 most important parliamentary committees, 1 by the house of |Lords and one by the finance minister of the fastest growing Commonwealth country (aka Singapore). The whole thing shouldn’t cost more than $2 million a year. Any federal position that a majority of the commission recommends for elimination is automatically unfunded unless explicitly refunded by Parliament. If Parliament doesn’t restore the position, that position is redundant and that task is no longer performed.
2 - A second Jobsworth Commission. This one is to consist of 100 persons, the first 50 chosen to match the population distribution and other fifty to be selected with no such loading. They are to be selected by lot from a pool of volunteers who have high speed Internet connection. The Commission meets on-line once a week for four hours. Once a year it meets in London, expenses to be reimbursed. Each commissioner gets a laptop computer and conferencing software, and the government pays for high speed Internet connectivity for the year. Same rules: if 51 Commissioners agree that a government regulatory activity is needless, then that activity is defunded, and those who perform that service are declared redundant. (Civil service rules for redundant employees apply.) Parliament can restore any of those activities and positions, but if it does not, it goes.

The Commissions probably won’t do a lot, but they will at least get rid of the ridiculously obvious, and over time the various government activities will be examined and debated.

Because so much of the benefit is over time it must be a permanent feature of our constitution.

*  17 right of referendums at both Scottish and cantonal levels, as discussed above.

*  The right of referendums to include a vote, at each election, to raise or lower by up to 5% the maximum proportion of gdp the Holyrood state is allowed to spend. Currently the entire state is nearly 60% of gdp. If we are really the socialists the political class insist, we would vote to raise it. My guess is that we would vote to lower it until income tax fell to zero.

    Might be difficult to cut it more unless this rule were also adopted at UK government level - but then if this system works as successfully as I think we would be an example to the whole UK (instead of an 'orrible warning as at present). The principle that the most successful cantons would be an example to the rest of Scotland implies a successful Scotland would be an example to the UK.

* No government funding of Sockpuppets - Illegal for government to give any money to any charity that, in the last 5 years, has advertised for more government. That isn't a charity's job and the conflict of interest is clear. Similarly make a legal requirement that any funding from outside the Scotland of any "charity" that has pushed a political opinion be registered and subject to a 50% windfall tax - half of this money to be earmarked for organisations committed to reducing the size of government. In the same way, over the next 5 years, be 10% as much money as our state donated to pro-government charities should be donated to organisations promoting smaller government.

The same ban should apply to any government department, quango or council and they should be limited to spending not more than 1/2% of their budget on PR/press liaison /raising awareness or such activity under other names.

    Government funding of "charities" that lobby and advertise for more money and power for the ministries funding them are one of the great and growing problems of modern society. Unfortunately they bare a problem that the press, who regularly use "news" produced by them, virtually never mention the existence of the problem.

* I would like to see a defence in Scots law to the licence fee for the BBC government broadcasting monopoly. The BBC Charter specifically requires that they be "balanced". The ECHR requires that people not be forced to pay for propaganda they disapprove of. If it can be shown that the BBC is censoring my party (UKIP), censoring and lying to promote the "catastrophic global warming" scare or spinning to promote whatever new pointless war is being pushed then I should, at the very least, not be forced to pay for it.

   There is undisputed academic evidence that the more of a state broadcasting monopoly exists, the more governmental failure, corruption and nepotism is likely to exist, worldwide.

* There is a historic Scots extension of civil law - that a law which has been in abeyance for many
years falls. I approve of anything that reduces the size of our legislation and would like to see that is some form.

* To an extraordinary and almost entirely unreported extent the pressure groups and political "charities" in Britain have been nationalised. ASH is 98% funded by the state. The catastrophic warming supporting Royal Society gets a £50 million bung. Almost every lobbyist that gets airtime on the (state funded) BBC, or most newspapers, turns out to be a government funded "sock puppet".

The Scottish government should be constitutionally forbidden to use our money to fund propaganda campaigns. Further than that - any organisation using money from other governments (for example almost all "environmental" campaigners are 70% funded by the EU) should be legally required to say so in all productions (as Limited companies are currently required to identify themselves) and pay a levy of 10% of what they spend here to be given to private organisations promoting alternative views.

* The Scottish government should fund broadcasting of genuine political debates (ie ones where both sides get to speak and the subjects are chosen by popular demand). To be broadcast weekly in hour long programmes, rather like Question Time but considerably cheaper and not limited to approved speakers. Since the time of ancient Greece, free debate has been a necessary and perhaps even sufficient condition of a free society. Unfortunately the British broadcasting monopoly has left the gatekeepers deciding what opinions may and may not be publicly discussed, to our great detriment.

* A duty on the Holyrood government to ensure any grants or payments to the cantons are  proportionately either within 15% of its proportionate tax contribution or of its population. (The ability to withhold cash by central government, or of the politically connected to lobby for extra has been the bane of local politics.)

* And I would also add these from the original 10 amendments making up the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution, a document signed by a disproportionate number of people of Scots extraction and which reflected the views of the Scottish Enlightenment. Some are no longer relevant (quartering troops) and some I would not defend (arms) but these are necessary:

4  no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause

5  Trials by due process and no double jeopardy

6 the right to a speedy band public trial

7  the right of trial by jury shall be preserved

10 The powers not delegated to the Scottish and UK governments by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the Cantonal law, are reserved to the smaller tier of government respectively, or to the people - and unlike the USA here this right comes from but is constantly ignored, we really mean it.

   I'm sure others will have other suggestions. My bottom line is that a constitution is there to restrain government power not to give them more, as the SNP's proposals do. I would not pretend that this will create a Utopia. Indeed I'd hate a Utopia (at least anybody else's idea of it as I suspect others would hate mine).

   On the other hand, while we have achieved miracles in the physical sciences over the last couple of centuries, government seems no more competent than then. Indeed it is much more parasitic, spending nearly 50% of gdp now as against under 10%, 150 years ago and regulating out of existence far more of the nation's wealth than is actually left. Clearly the potential for improvement is enormous and a Scotland which achieves even a small part of that potential will be an example to all of Britain, indeed all of the world. Countries which, over the long term, manage to role back the macroparasitism that is big government, while not encouraging the microparasitism that is common banditry, have historically always found the world to be their oyster.

     Orson Welles came up with the single most memorable, wrong, line in movie history:

"In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
                - In fact they are extremely rich with the world's highest per capita rate of scientific citations per capita, matched by only 1 other. They also had peace because they were too tough to mess with.

     Scotland, is the other country matching Switzerland's world's highest, per capita, rate of scientific citations. Potential other nations would kill for. However Switzerland has politicians nobody has ever heard of because their Constitution doesn't  allow them to do anything, whereas Scotland has a surfeit of preening politicians trying to bestride the world stage like midgets. Politicians who think it is their job to dictate every aspect of our nanny state.

      Not coincidentally Switzerland is much richer than us and arguably (I would argue it) freer and more democratic. Lets change that.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Daily Mail Letter

   This letter was in the Daily Record May 29th. My thanks to William Scott and Malcolm Parkin for confirming.

      UKIP gaining 1 seat out of 6 from Scotland in the EU election is actually surprisingly low.
     A recent poll showed that 70% of Scots people agree with UKIP's policy on immigration - limit it to 50,000 a year. On other policies we have a lead that is less but not that much less.
    No way could any new party have got 70% - there are many people who vote for parties because "our family have always voted ....." and perhaps some distrust of policy promises is justified. Nonetheless something other than honest political debate on policy has clearly been at play.
Neil Craig
UKIP Glasgow
200 Woodlands Rd.,
Glasgow g3 6ln


Sunday, 8 June 2014

Christopher Booker Takes Me As A Source

   The above estimable Christopher Booker has a Telegraph blog discussing Anne Glover's criticism of the EU making scientific policy on political rather than scientific grounds.

   In it I am flattered to say he mentions this blog as his source. I assume he got it from his regular co-writer Dr Richard North of EU Referendum, where I mentioned it a few days ago:


she launched into a trenchant attack on how the Commission routinely ignores scientific evidence when this contradicts some “political imperative” it has decided on for other reasons, such as pressure from lobby groups. On a whole range of issues, it has then hired reports from lavishly paid consultants to come up with the arguments it needs to support its political agenda.
There may be little new about this to hardened Brussels-watchers, but what was surprising was its source.
The only thing that rather weakened Prof Glover’s case was pointed out by her fellow-Scot, Neil Craig, who had reported on his blog (A Place To Stand) a speech he heard her make a while back on climate change. On this she had clearly bought the official groupthink line, lock, stock and barrel, explaining how rising CO₂ levels must inexorably lead to warming (even though world temperatures themselves have now managed to ignore this thesis for 17 years).
She even suggested that global warming might lengthen the hours of daylight in Scotland. When it comes to brushing aside evidence, it seems, this biologist can be just as wonky as those she criticises in Brussels.

   This is the 2nd time something I blogged has been taken up by the Telegraph blogsphere. A few years ago James Delingpole followed up my interpretation of Sir Paul Nurse's BBC lecture on "climate change" as showing him trying to redefine his position as the one the sceptics have always held - that something may be happening but it isn't remotely catastrophic.

Sunday Telegraph today, p 26

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Unpublished Letter DSisputing Yes Claims

  Letter sent to the Scotsman. They emailed me back asking me to cut it to 250 words, which I did,painfully, and then never published it. To be fair they did publish another from somebody else specifically answering the same person.

      In response to EL LLoyd's 6 part denunciation of a previous letter as wrong, may I point out where he is wrong?
1 - Independence did not keep many countries out of WW2 - Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, Yugoslavia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia all noticed it. Switzerland kept out because they had a fiercely effective militia in which the entire population is armed. If this is SNP policy I have not noticed it.
2 - For many years the bank of England was controlled by Gordon Brown. If he was "ineffective"
can we expect any other Scots socialist politician to make use of power in a more constructive way?
3 - It is arguable that the "fair" taxation system he demands, in which less of people's earning remains with them, would not be beneficial to Scotland. Despite the claims of many separatists, the laws of economics would not be suspended for Scotland/
4 - The question is not whether England would refuse to buy our "renewable" electricity - nobody ever denied that - but whether they would elect pay several times the market price for it and guaranteeing us a supply, at commercial rates, when, being "100% renewable by 2020" we find, some winter night, that they are, again, producing under 1% of their nominal power. I find the SNP's guarantee that England would continue to elect a government willing to subsidise us unbelievable.
5 - He may be right that any likely SNP &/or Labour government would abandon capitalism as he hopes. Indeed it seems likely they would enshrine that abandonment in a new Constitution to prevent us voting in an alternative. That would not affect the proven fact that, worldwide, their is an overwhelming link between the existence and extent of market freedom and economic success. Indeed the probability that any likely initial Scottish government would destroy our economy (as the Greens have said they want) is a very strong argument against giving them the chance.
6 - He agrees that we would not be part of the Security Council or a powerful member of the EU. I am afraid I cannot see how this is beneficial.
   He also points out the possibility that a UKIP influenced referendum would take the UK out of the EU. Granted that the SNP are eager to ensure the scots are not bothered by any such democratic choice - we go in on basic terms that would cost us billions and no nonsense about an independence referendum under the SNP. Granted also that the other traditional parties feel the same. Nonetheless if one of the main arguments from Europhiles is that "we must stay in the EU because 40% of our trade is with them" is there not some incongruity that nobody in these parties is concerned that 80% of our trade is with a remaining UK their argument depends on the assumption will vote to quit the EU?
Neil Craig    

Friday, 6 June 2014

Newark By Election - UKIP UP 22.1% Tories Down 8.9%

                               2010                             %                                   Now                        %
Conservative       27,590                         53.9                               17,431                     45
UKIP                    1,954                           3.8                                10.028                     25.9
Labour                11,438                         22.3                                 6,842                      17.7
Bagley/Hospital                                                                              1,891                        4.9
Green                                                                                              1,057                        2.7
LibDem               10,246                         20.0                                1,004                        2.6
Ors combined                                                                                    454                        1.2


      I find this a very interesting result. I wish I knew how the polling by stations had gone because then I would be making more than an educated guess which votes went from whom to whom (but then if I did I would probably have to keep it quiet out of party loyalty).

The LibDem vote collapsed losing 90% by numbers or 7/8ths by proportion (proportion is the more important - there is nothing unusual about by elections having lower turnouts because the national media isn't hammering home that there is an election today). This is way below any fall to the party's "minimum core vote" (usually assumed about half of it). The LibDem fall closely parallels UKIP's rise but I think it would be unwise to assume we picked up more than a minority of their votes. Probably most of the Green and hospital campaign votes were ex-LDs but that still means more than half went elsewhere. This article on Conservative Home suggests that a lot of them went Tory to keep us out, as did a lot of Labour ones. The BBC Radio 5 reporter also said "I met a number of Labour voters who said they are voting Tory to keep UKIP out" which is quite remarkable.

       Nonetheless, however they went this is a catastrophic result for the LDs. After a couple of weeks of "4 party politics" we may be back to a 3 party system without the LDs. Any result remotely of this order would put ALL the LDs out of Parliament. I suspect the lost LD votes split 4 ways to Tories, Labour, UKIP & the others.

A disaster  for Labour too. A 4.6% fall in their proportion is not going to get Miliband the PMship. He must expect, as the party not in government, to be polling better, during any by election, where people feel free to protest, than he will at the general election. This happens to every party. Labour won this seat in 1997 and have placed 2nd at other times. To be knocked into 3rd place is about as bad as it could be. I suspect Labour's missing 4.6% (if, say, 1/4 of the LDs went to them they would have picked up about 4.3% and thus lost 8.9%). That some of their members voted for Tory to keep out UKIP and others UKIP to beat the Tories does not suggest any enthusiasm whatsoever for his party.

       UKIP. Well we didn't take it but overthrowing a 16,000 majority when your previous vote was 2,000 isn't as easy as it sounds ;-)  We didn't come as close as we expected and that is important. We mainly lost because the Tory vote held up. Had 4,000 more of them (only 1/7th of their previous vote) voted UKIP we would have won.

       Roger Helmer had written of the enthusiasm he found on the doorstep - sometimes people are polite when they haven't yet made up their minds. The other thing is that there was a decent turnout for 2 independents (though not for the last 5). That means that though the contempt for the traditional parties is overwhelming, UKIP has not yet sealed the deal.

     I suspect, in particular, that the smear campaigns by the government media has hurt us. But it is a problem. If a significant number of actual LabConDem voters agree that "there is no difference between them" and decide they like that, we could have a problem. For that I believe we have to have a positive policy platform that will make the large majority of all parties make us their preferred alternative. We are likely to be the contender in most constituencies across the country (as the LDs used to be) and if we can persuade 3rd and 4th placing parties that we are much better than the probable winner we can sweep the country. If they unite to keep the previous winner in we won't - and British politics will lose all semblance of pluralistic democracy.

     But you can't complain about a 22.1% swing to you.

The Tories have reason for satisfaction. They won and not just by scraping in. Nonetheless an 8.9% swing against is hardly something to celebrate. This won't get Cameron his majority. This was the 44th safest tory seat so to have lost it would have been beyond catastrophic. Beyond that it looks very much like they did lose far more Tory votes than appears and filled them up with 4.3% from the LDs and 4.4% (half of 8.9%) from Labour. 8.7% of their votes are on loan and without them - that's 3.700. That didn't actually keep them in but it does explain why Nigel Farage expected it to be closer. And losing those votes (or actually not having them because they never did) would ensure electoral defeat.

    Another point here is that, at least according to Conservative Home, the Tories pulled out all the stops and ran a very heavy campaign. 150 MPs visiting. Cameron visiting 4 times - absolutely unprecedented for a sitting PM. And it worked. And Labour and the LDs, who both historically have reputations for being able to put feet on the ground, didn't come close to matching them. The old parties have hollowed themselves out because members have no actual influence on the party. I suspect this applies to the Tories too but they just pulled out every card they had. The article itself makes a point of the importance of members on the ground and I agree.

Nigel Farage on the subject - the immense (& expensive) Tory campaign here cannot be matched anywhere during a general election. http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/480656/FARAGE-ON-FRIDAY-Ukip-boss-says-next-target-is-2015-general-election-Commons-breakthrough