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Emrys

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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 5,651

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Did dark money and dirty tactics swing the Scottish election?

[Note: If you clicked into this thread with an idea that it would claim the SNP's near-overall majority was the result of "dark money and dirty tactics", that's not what it's about at all. The article below consists of short paragraphs, so it's almost impossible to summarize meaningfully within DU's rules, so you'll need to click through if you want more meat. As an SNP voter, I don't have many complaints about the outcome whatever shenanigans went on, though I'd like to see cleaner elections run in general. Green voters have much more justifiable cause for anger.]

Rules flouted as sites promoting Unionist tactical voting spent more money on ads than the SNP, while ex-BNP ‘greens' siphoned off potentially crucial votes
...
Last week, the Guardian reported that unionists were spending heavily online in a bid to deny the SNP a majority. But it’s only now that the full scale of this campaigning can be seen.

A group called ‘Young Unionists’ spent more than £20,000 on Facebook ads, including more than £5,000 in the final days of the campaign. Tens of thousands of voters were pushed to the VoteUnion tactical voting tool.

Under new election legislation, digital adverts in Scotland are supposed to carry details of who paid for them. But Young Unionists’ ads had no such imprint and there was no name attached to the campaign.
...
When I unfurled my two-foot-long, peach-coloured list ballot paper on Thursday, my eye was drawn to a logo of a leaf with ‘Green’ in capital letters. This was the ‘Independent Green Voice’.

Thanks to investigative site the Ferret – which, full disclosure, I chair – I knew that Independent Green Voice was a tiny party whose five candidates included two former British National Party activists and a man accused of Holocaust denial (he denies the allegation). But did all Scottish voters know this? There are plenty of signs that they didn’t.
...
These voters mattered. In Glasgow, for example, where Independent Green Voice took 2,210 votes, the Green Party fell 914 votes short of a second seat on the regional list. In South of Scotland, the Greens were just 115 votes short of taking a seat. Independent Green Voice won 1,690.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/dark-money-investigations/did-dark-money-and-dirty-tactics-swing-scottish-election/

UK freeports blow as exporters face tariffs to 23 countries

Ministers admit some markets will be subject to duties under post-Brexit deal

Companies in freeports will not get to enjoy the full benefits of the tax-efficient zones if they export to certain countries including Canada, Norway, Switzerland and Singapore, the government has admitted.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have declared that eight new English freeports — announced in the Budget — will be a “transformational” benefit from Brexit.

But officials disclosed on Sunday that recent post-Brexit trade agreements with 23 different countries included clauses that specifically prohibit manufacturers in freeport-type zones from benefiting from the deals.
...
The freeports to be outlined in the spring Budget are at Teesside, London Gateway, Liverpool City Region, Humber, Felixstowe, Southampton, Plymouth and East Midlands Airport.

https://www.ft.com/content/625d1913-9242-4d97-9d0b-9cd6925c4e0e?desktop=true&segmentId=d8d3e364-5197-20eb-17cf-2437841d178a#


One's sense of surprise that this wasn't foreseen when much-trumpeted trade deals were signed with the countries affected is tempered when one remembers that the negotiator was Liz Truss. Reading fine print - indeed any size of print - doesn't seem to be a strong point.

Scottish Parliament election results





SNP: 64 (+1)
Conservative: 31 (-)
Labour: 22 (-2)
Green: 8 (+2)
Lib Dem: 4 (-1)

This puts the SNP one seat short of an overall majority - something the parliament's PR election system is supposed to deny any party. Allied with the Greens, either in a loose confidence and supply agreement as in the previous parliament (most likely, I think) or a full-blown coalition, this gives a majority of 72 for independence versus 57 against.

The vast bulk of the SNP's seats were won on the first-past-the-post constituency votes, where its totals broke all records since Holyrood was founded. Without the regional list seats, the results would read:

SNP: 62
Conservative: 5
Labour: 2
Green: 0
Lib Dem: 4

This didn't stop the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg last night describing the state of play when most of the constituencies had declared as "knife-edge".

Sadly, in my own constituency, Dumbarton, Labour's long-serving Jackie Baillie increased her scant majority over the SNP in Scotland's most marginal constituency thanks to what looks unmistakeably like heavy tactical voting by local Tories (their party barely had any posters on lamp posts, which is a first):





Indeed, both Labour and the Tories had focused in their campaigns on the potential for tactical anti-SNP voting on the regional list and selected local contests. For instance, Labour crossover votes helped ex-Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw retain his Eastwood constituency.

I couldn't put it any better than this:

https://twitter.com/Tucker5law/status/1390773067652141063

Malcolm Tucker 🏴‍☠️
@Tucker5law

Labour folk voting for Jackson Coleslaw means they've got no real socialist principles.
Tories voting for Baillie means that they don't think she has.


The Tories, having banged on about their opposition to another independence referendum incessantly during the campaign, and almost to the exclusion of all else in their campaign literature, are now trying to claim the election wasn't about independence at all.

Labour will be disappointed that their new leader, Anas Sarwar, failed to improve their fortunes, gaining them their worst result since Holyrood was established. Sarwar himself was beaten by Nicola Sturgeon in their Glasgow South constituency contest and later got in on the list.

The Lib Dems have now fallen below the five-seat threshold in the Scottish parliament that means they are no longer classed as a major party, and will lose committee appointments and funding resources.

The Greens saw co-leader Patrick Harvie miss out on a Glasgow contituency seat, but gain a place in parliament on the regional list. In the very last result of the whole election, his co-leader, newcomer Lorna Slater, also won the final slot on her constituency list to bring the Greens' representation up to eight MSPs:

https://twitter.com/patrickharvie/status/1391118646739603457

Patrick Harvie 🇪🇺 🌈
@patrickharvie

Well one of us had to be able to dance!

Tom Eden
@TomEden11

A boogie from @scottishgreens co-leader @lornaslater as she celebrates her election to Holyrood and the Greens’ best-ever election performance

[Twitter video]


The Alba Party, predictably, figured nowhere, gaining just over 2% of the vote in its best-performing region. What future it may have, we'll have to wait and see.

The new parliament will look a little different to the old one, as many long-serving MSPs retired. The new intake includes a larger proportion of women, the first two female BAME MSPs and the first wheelchair-reliant MSP.

The coming parliament is sure to be a challenging one. I have some confidence the politicians we've elected will be up to the job

Nicola Sturgeon calls ex-deputy leader of Britain First 'racist' in tense confrontation

Nicola Sturgeon shot back at former Britain First Deputy Leader Jayda Fransen when she confronted Scotland's First Minister as she was meeting voters in Glasgow, Scotland
...
Ms Fransen, who has convictions for religiously aggravated harassment, tells Ms Sturgeon: “What are you sorry for? Mass immigration, Marxism?

“I’m not a fascist. I’ve been on the ground speaking to locals who say you are an absolute disgrace …”

Ms Sturgeon said: “We’ll see what the locals’ view is later on.”

Ms Fransen said: “The locals, what the ones you have flooded from other countries?

“The decent people of Scotland don’t want it flooded with immigrants.”

Ms Sturgeon tells her: “You are a fascist, you are a racist and the southside of Glasgow will reject you.”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon-calls-ex-deputy-24056197


Fransen, who is running as an "Independent" (though she's a member of the British Freedom Party) in Sturgeon's constituency, is a previous member of the English Defence League and was deputy leader of Britain First from 2014 to 2019. She has multiple convictions for offences committed during 2015-2019, including religiously aggravated harassment, breach of the UK Public Order Act, religious harassment, and breach of the Northern Irish Public Order Act, ending up with a 36-week jail sentence in 2018 for another instance of religiously aggravated harassment committed in Ramsgate.

This was just about the liveliest event of today's election and was widely celebrated on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/OwenJones84/status/1390336734697828362

Owen Jones 🌹
@OwenJones84

"You're a fascist and a racist." 👏 👏 👏

Massive kudos to @NicolaSturgeon for facing down these far right thugs.

[Twitter video]

The Apotheosis of Apophenia: Conspiratorial Minds


What links the assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy to Coronavirus denial? Otto English has found a pattern…
...

Apophenia

Conspiracy theories, like the history book on the shelf, have a remarkable habit of repeating themselves and those similarities can in turn spawn other theories.

Soon after Kennedy’s assassination, people began to pinpoint stark parallels between his and Lincoln’s death. Highlights included the observation that both men were elected 100 years apart, that both fought for the rights of black Americans, and both were succeeded by Vice-President Johnsons. Kennedy was assassinated while travelling in a Ford Lincoln, Lincoln was killed while seated in a theatre called Ford’s.

Many of these freak coincidences appear remarkable – until the brain is engaged. For example, much is made of the fact that both men had surnames that consist of seven letters – but then so do I, Timmy Mallett and Boris Johnson. It is a completely common occurrence, not a conspiracy.

The compendium and the theory are a classic example of apophenia – a term first coined by German neurologist and psychiatrist Klaus Conrad in 1958. Apophenia is a state in acute schizophrenia where otherwise unrelated details or random events are perceived, by the patient, to be connected. Latterly, apophenia has come to be applied to any situation in which individuals seek to find patterns where there are none. This is why people sometimes think that they see shapes in the clouds or in inanimate objects: Jesus on a piece of toast, or a smile on John Redwood’s face.

https://bylinetimes.com/2021/04/26/the-apotheosis-of-apophenia-conspiratorial-minds/


[For American readers who may, luckily for them, not know who John Redwood is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Redwood ]

Boris Johnson said bodies 'could pile high' during lockdown discussion

Prime Minister Boris Johnson did make remarks suggesting that "bodies could pile high" during a heated discussion about lockdown in Downing Street in the autumn, the BBC has been told.

On Monday, the Daily Mail reported that Mr Johnson had said "let the bodies pile high in their thousands" rather than order a third lockdown.

The PM denied making the remarks, adding that lockdowns had worked.
...
The comments are said to have been made at the end of October when England went into its second lockdown following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says, at the time, the prime minister was reported to have had big concerns about the implications of another lockdown on the economy and non-Covid related health issues.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-56890714


The Mail story was well trailed on social media over the weekend. The BBC - and Kuenssberg (who's in the past served as a public mouthpiece for Cummings's thoughts and revelations) - belatedly giving the story legs suggests that the corporation's news arm feels it has a reliable source or sources.

I don't like giving the Mail clicks, so I went there so you don't have to unless you really want to:

Boris Johnson: 'Let the bodies pile high in their thousands'. PM's incendiary remark during fight over lockdowns is latest claim in No10 drama - amid spectacular row with Cummings

* Claims that Boris Johnson said he would rather ‘bodies pile high in their thousands’ than order a third lockdown
* Allegedly came after Michael Gove warned soldiers needed to guard hospitals
* Downing Street has strongly denied that the Prime Minister made the comment

...
It allegedly came after Michael Gove warned Mr Johnson that soldiers would be needed to guard hospitals overrun with Covid victims.

He agreed to fresh restrictions but his frustration is said to have boiled over after the crucial meeting at No 10 in October. ‘No more ****ing lockdowns – let the bodies pile high in their thousands!’ he is alleged to have raged.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9510133/Boris-Johnson-said-bodies-pile-high-order-lockdown-sources-claim.html


The reports of Johnson's intemperate outburst are lent some credence by his "Fuck business!" declaration in 2018, in the hurly-burly of the post-Brexit vote clusterfuck.

Cummings is obviously in bitter arse-covering mode, seeking to distance himself from Johnson and seedy goings-on in the Brexit campaign and government after being displaced from the inner crony clique in government late last year. The Mail, in the past a happy warrior cheerleader for Johnson and the Tory agenda, seems to have it in for Johnson at the moment, and it's not stretching the bounds of plausibility to conclude that Johnson's seen (by specifically whom I couldn't hazard a guess) as having served his purpose and is becoming more of a liability by the day, so the Teflon's wearing thin.

Gove's low public profile in recent months is also noteworthy, and given past bad blood between him and Johnson, Gove's past ties to Cummings, and Gove's thinly disguised ambitions, it's not a stretch to sense his grubby paws at work behind the scenes. I find it hard to cast Gove as some sort of Machiavelli in his own right, so I'm left wondering who's manipulating his strings (other than his equally, or even more, ambitious wife, the fragrant, frothy Mail columnist Sarah Vine).

Meanwhile, its envronmental impact is shamefully staggering:

Why Bitcoin Is Bad for the Environment
Cryptocurrency mining uses huge amounts of power—and can be as destructive as the real thing.

Money, it’s often said, is a shared fiction. I give you a slip of paper or, more likely these days, a piece of plastic. You hand me eggs or butter or a White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino, and we both walk away satisfied. With cryptocurrency, the arrangement is more like a shared metafiction, and the instability of the genre is, presumably, part of the thrill. Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency that was created as a spoof, has risen in value by eight thousand per cent since January, owing to a combination of GameStop-style pumping and boosterish tweets from Elon Musk. On Tuesday, which backers proclaimed DogeDay, the cryptocurrency was valued at more than fifty billion dollars, which is more than the market cap of Ford. Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange, went public last Wednesday; almost immediately, it became worth more than G.M.

The mainstreaming of cryptocurrency, as it’s been called, is obviously a big deal for the world of finance. It’s also a big deal for the world of, well, the world. This is particularly true in the case of the ur-cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. Like Dogecoin, bitcoin has recently surged in value. In April, 2020, a coin was worth about seven thousand dollars; today, it’s worth more than fifty-five thousand. (It hit a record high of $64,895.22 on April 14th, but has since fallen off.) As the cost of investing in bitcoin has soared, so, too, has the potential profit in “mining” it. Bitcoin mining is, of course, purely metaphorical, but the results can be every bit as destructive as with the real thing.

According to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, bitcoin-mining operations worldwide now use energy at the rate of nearly a hundred and twenty terawatt-hours per year. This is about the annual domestic electricity consumption of the entire nation of Sweden. According to the Web site Digiconomist, a single bitcoin transaction uses the same amount of power that the average American household consumes in a month, and is responsible for roughly a million times more carbon emissions than a single Visa transaction. At a time when the world desperately needs to cut carbon emissions, does it make sense to be devoting a Sweden’s worth of electricity to a virtual currency? The answer would seem, pretty clearly, to be no. And, yet, here we are.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/why-bitcoin-is-bad-for-the-environment

Boris Johnson says he will publish text messages to James Dyson

PM promised he would ‘fix’ tax issue for James Dyson so firm could help build ventilators

Boris Johnson has said he will publish his text messages and “make absolutely no apology” for the exchanges with businessman James Dyson promising to “fix” tax status for the firm to help build ventilators.

Keir Starmer accused the government of “sleaze, sleaze, sleaze” after leaked texts from Johnson promised that the pro-Brexit billionaire’s employees would not have to pay extra tax if they came to the UK to make ventilators during the pandemic.

Johnson pledged: “I will fix it tomo! We need you. It looks fantastic.”

The prime minister then texted him again, saying: “[Chancellor] Rishi [Sunak] says it is fixed!! We need you here,” according to the BBC.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/21/boris-johnson-says-he-will-publish-text-messages-to-james-dyson


If overhyped millionaire inventor Dyson hadn't skedaddled abroad along with his company after he backed Brexit, this controversial exchange would never have needed to happen.

Since the "Ministerial Code", self-policed by Johnson, is just a shallow veneer over vast amounts of shady deals and graft at high levels of government, it's unlikely anything much will happen as a result of this latest kerfuffle apart from the continual degrading of trust in the government, which for some reason doesn't appear to affect the Tories in polling.

Starmer and what passes for an opposition at Westminster face another in a series of open goals. Since the media look like they're unwilling and incapable of promoting and sustaining public pressure over the many recent revelations of cronies' deals with high-level Tory backers, including ex-prime minister Cameron, I've no idea what recourse is left to those of us who continue to look on in anger and disgust.

We have our votes, and some of us are lucky enough to live in places where they may have some serious impact, but that may not be enough to make much difference to the most corrupt administration Westminster's ever seen (and that's saying some).

Ministers veto reappointment of two women to Channel 4 board

Decision not to renew Uzma Hasan and Fru Hazlitt was made against advice of Channel 4 and Ofcom

The government has vetoed the reappointment of two women to Channel 4’s board of directors, including one of only two women of colour, in a sign ministers are continuing to assert their authority over senior media appointments.

The decision not to renew the boardroom positions of Uzma Hasan and Fru Hazlitt at the state-owned but privately funded broadcaster was made against the advice of both the Channel 4 board and the media regulator, Ofcom.

Both women were recommended for another three-year term on the broadcaster’s board, sources told the Guardian, with such reappointments usually waved through by the government. However, ministers have instead decided to seek new candidates, as part of a wider push that has led to the appointment of Conservative allies to leading media roles.

Last year, the Tory donor Richard Sharp was appointed chairman of the BBC, while Ofcom is recruiting a new chair, with the former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre and the former Tory minister Ed Vaizey in the running.

Although Downing Street has no formal role in the appointments process, sources suggested the decision was influenced by officials working in No 10. The government is increasingly blocking reappointments to public sector roles to bring in new individuals to organisations.

The intervention is also set to renew the debate over a possible privatisation of Channel 4, which has been a favoured proposal of the broadcasting minister, John Whittingdale, for many years. The Guardian understands the reason given for the surprise decision not to renew the two women’s terms in office was the need to fill a “finance” skills gap on the board of directors.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/apr/14/ministers-veto-reappointment-of-two-women-to-channel-4-board


The Tories' near-unopposed degradation of the BBC, especially its news services, extends to the channel that hosts what many feel to be the most trustworthy TV news programme, Channel 4 News.

Given the rightwing slant of most of the print media and their reluctance to pursue issues such as the ongoing PPE purchase scandals and any number of other issues that would be giant headlines if another party perpetrated them, it's little wonder that so many are looking elsewhere - for better or worse - to try to find out what's going on in the country and the world.

Islamophobic incidents rose 375% after Johnson compared Muslim women to 'letterboxes', figures show

Perpetrators abusing Muslim women in the street ‘directly referenced’ MP’s comments, report finds
...
Monitoring group Tell Mama said the Daily Telegraph column written by the now-prime minister was followed by the biggest spike in anti-Muslim hatred in 2018, as his words were repeated by racists abusing Muslims on the street and online.

In the three weeks after the article was published last August, 42 per cent of offline Islamophobic incidents reported “directly referenced Boris Johnson and/or the language used in his column”, a report said.

Many were directed at visibly Muslim women who wore the niqab or other veils, who were called “letterboxes” and “ninjas”.

Online abuse reported to Tell Mama repeated the same words or incorporated them into pictures and memes that were sent to Muslims online.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/boris-johnson-muslim-women-letterboxes-burqa-islamphobia-rise-a9088476.html


This report's from 2019, but in the wake of the "independent" report on race in the UK, this finding will have come as no surprise to many of us, but may serve as a wake-up call to those who ever claimed that Johnson was merely giving vent to a Prince Philipian sense of humour and was simply misunderstood.
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