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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 5,052

Journal Archives

Scottish judges rule PM's suspension of parliament is unlawful

Appeal court says prorogation order ‘void’ but fails to issue injunction for MPs to return

Scottish appeal court judges have declared Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful.

The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the power to interfere in the prime minister’s political decision to prorogue parliament.

Lawyers acting for 75 opposition MPs and peers argued Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament for five weeks was illegal and in breach of the constitution, as it was designed to stifle parliamentary debate and action on Brexit.

The court issued an official summary of its decision declaring the prorogation order was “null and of no effect”, but Carloway said the judges were deferring a final decision on an interdict to the UK supreme court, which will hold a three-day hearing next week.


Before we get too excited, it's worth pointing out that the Scottish courts not infrequently take different views to the English courts - the High Court in London's decision last week went the other way. But this is an important principle to test anyway.

"Sources" in No. 10 (a.k.a. Dominic Cummings, no doubt) said "We note that last week the High Court in London did not rule that prorogation was unlawful. The legal activists choose the Scottish courts for a reason." Some have taken this as a slur on Scottish judges' independence. Jolyon Maugham QC says they chose the Scottish Appeal Court as a venue because the English High Court wasn't sitting in August.

PM aide Dominic Cummings blames 'rich Remainers' in Brexit snap at TV reporter

Privately-schooled Dominic Cummings, whose baronet father-in-law owns a haunted castle, had a characteristically blunt response while leaving his £1.6m townhouse
The senior No10 advisor told a TV reporter: "You guys should get outside London and go to talk to people who are not rich remainers."
The son of an oil rig manager and teacher, who has repeatedly portrayed himself as the scourge of the civil service establishment, was educated at the fee-paying Durham School and Oxford University.

He and his wife Mary Wakefield - whose father, Sir Humphrey, owns 'Britain's most haunted castle' Chillingham Castle in Northumberland - bought their Islington townhouse for £1.65m in 2013 and later applied to extend it.

The luxurious home features a separate 'Tapestry Room', 'Reading Room' and 'Formal Living Room' spread across two floors.


I don't know about anybody else, but I'm heartily sick of Cummings and other patronizing shady overprivileged wealthy useless conniving wannabe class warriors co-opting "the working class" and "northerners" as a stick to beat anyone who's not as barkingly bonkers in favour of plummeting out of the EU with no safety net or parachute as they are, as if either of those blocs is monolithic.

From 2017, by LSE researchers:

Brexit was not the voice of the working class nor of the uneducated – it was of the squeezed middle

Over the past year or so, Brexit has been interpreted as the symbol of a historical shift to anti-establishment politics, kicking off a surge in the ‘outsider’ vote across Europe and the United States. In line with this narrative, initial interpretations of the vote depicted Leave voters as marginalised segments of the population – both educationally and economically – who had channelled their discontent through the referendum.

Another popular view that emerged is that Brexit was the unified response of the working class which finally found its long-lost voice. Yet subsequent, rigorous analysis showed that the profile of Brexit voters is more heterogeneous than initially thought, and that it includes voters with high education and ‘middle class’ jobs. If Brexit is really connected to socio-economic factors, how do we make sense of this apparent contradiction?
The left-out argument has been constructed around voters whose low levels of education render them unable to compete with those with a university degree in the globalised economy. Academic research has already argued against this. For example, Goodwin and Heath show that voters with A-level education from low skilled communities had similar pro-Leave voting profiles to those with no education.


Our findings confirm a negative relationship between education and voting Leave: the higher the level of one’s education, the lower the likelihood of them voting Leave. Our findings, however, reject the dichotomous view of the low-educated Brexiter vs the high-educated Remainer, by showing that two groups with intermediate levels of education (voters with good GSCEs and A-levels) were more pro-Leave than the low-educated (those with no formal education and with low GSCE grades).


From last May:

It has become commonplace to ascribe the leave victory in 2016 to the votes of working-class Labour supporters. This is misleading. Most leave voters live in Conservative constituencies. The Tory shires mattered more than Labour’s industrial heartlands.

A YouGov analysis of more than 25,000 voters suggests the following division of leave voters in the referendum, linked to the 2017 election result.

• Middle-class leave voters: Conservative 5.6 million; Labour 1.6 million.

• Working-class leave voters: Conservative 4.4 million; Labour 2.2 million. (A few of the remaining 3.6 million leave voters supported smaller parties; most did not vote in 2017.)

So the largest block of leave voters were middle-class Conservatives, followed by working-class Conservatives. Just one in eight leave voters was a working-class Labour supporter. To be sure, had even half of these 2.2 million voters backed remain, the result of the referendum would be different. But to suggest that the referendum’s 17.4 million leave voters were dominated by working-class Labour supporters is simply wrong.

From last March:

8 reasons we should stop assuming “northern” means “pro-Brexit”

1) Many regions within the North were majority Remain – and many down South were majority Leave
2) Everywhere has large numbers of Leave and Remain voters
3) The North has an awful lot of people – but not necessarily enough to stop Brexit alone
4) Differences aren’t as big as percentages make it look
5) Non-voters narrow the margins further
6) Opinion polls show Remain gaining ground in the North
7) Referendums don’t work like elections anyway
8) In general, stereotyping is just a bad idea

Cummings isn't a subtle person. The battle lines he wants to draw up for an upcoming election are obvious: people versus parliament; rich Remainers versus - well, who the hell knows, hard done by? - Leavers; his nihilistic world view, dubious motives and ultra-wealthy backers versus what passes for reality nowadays, the national good and those of us who aren't rich by any means, just collateral damage in his machinations.

Blessed Be the Meme Makers

Last night, Rees-Mogg caused a bit of a stir by lounging undecorously on the front benches during proceedings, finally being called out on it by Caroline Lucas:

The picture of Jacob Rees-Mogg lying down on the job will haunt the Tories for decades

When the tale is told of the first parliamentary vote of Boris Johnson’s premiership, it will mention his spectacular failure to win it; his removal of the whip from lifelong Conservatives including former cabinet members and Churchill’s grandson; and his loss of a majority, and potentially the forcing of a general election on a tired and bitterly divided British public.

But after the immediate repercussions of this weeks' vote are over, there will be an image from last night that hangs around Tory necks for years to come: Jacob Rees-Mogg lying horizontal on the front bench as he listened to the debate, lounging insouciantly like a rebel child defying nanny, showing all the grace of Kevin the Etonian Teenager.

Rees-Mogg’s disdain for parliament, for democracy, for his colleagues could not have been made clearer. His body language screamed “I shouldn’t have to be here listening to you people”. It was a pose designed to suggest this debate shouldn’t have taken place at all. But it was a mistake – and one that will haunt him and his party for decades.


Let the haunting begin. The image has already inevitably spawned a number of Photoshops. My favourite is:

Tory "Mastermind" Dominic Cummings Reportedly Wandering Drunk around Parliament

From the sounds of it, he's not taking Tuesday's events well ...

From Guardian Political Correspondent Peter Walker:

Peter Walker

I just bumped into Dominic Cummings, who was clutching a glass of red wine and wandering along the parliamentary press corridor, lost and looking for a particular newspaper office. This is not a usual occurrence.

Sunday Times Political Editor Tim Shipman later posted this tweet, then deleted it after Labour sources denied it happened:

But the "Labour sources" apparently didn't inform Labour MP Cat Smith, who witnessed the incident:

Cat Smith

As one of several shadow cabinet members stood right next to Jeremy (who was on the phone at the time) I just thought there was some loud bloke who stunk of booze yelling at us. https://twitter.com/shippersunbound/status/1169004516840235014

UPDATE: The story's now been picked up by the Mirror:

PM's guru Dominic Cummings goads Jeremy Corbyn after Boris Johnson Brexit defeat

It's not clear how early in the day he started hitting the bottle:

Day of the Remainer purge: how Dominic Cummings ranted at Tory rebels in Downing Street

If the 15 Tory rebels who headed to 10 Downing Street were hoping that Boris Johnson and his team would 'love bomb' them with entreaties not to vote against the Government, they were sorely mistaken.

"I don't know who any of you are!" Mr Johnson's chief adviser Dominic Cummings yelled at a some of them as they waited to meet the Prime Minister outside the Cabinet room.

The former head of the Vote Leave campaign - wearing his trademark crumpled white shirt - continued to hector the smartly dressed MPs in this way for a "considerable period of time".


And the spite continues:

Aubrey Allegretti

Wow. Sam Gyimah, one of the Tory rebels, tells @SamCoatesSky that "coming in here this evening it looks like they've also disabled our passes, which is a hostile act".

That would be the rebels' parliamentary passes, without which they'll have trouble getting past security.

A Typical Hour in the Life of the Irish Border

There are 72m road vehicle crossings a year between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra). There are also eight trains daily in either direction between Dublin and Belfast.

About 14% of those crossings are consignments of goods, some of which may cross the border several times before they reach a consumer. In border areas it is common for milk which is collected in Ireland to be pasteurised and packaged in Northern Ireland and then sent back over the border for sale in supermarkets.

Overall, 32% of Northern Ireland's exports to Ireland are classified as "food and live animals".

A no-deal Brexit would effectively end this trade. UK government advice says that "to transport animals, products of animal origin (POAO), fish, shellfish, crustaceans, germplasm or fishery products from the UK to the EU in the event of no deal, you’ll need to ensure the trade route for your goods allows for your consignment to be checked at a border inspection post (BIP) at the first EU country you enter for export."


The article includes charts and an animation of traffic flows based on real-world data on 26 August 2019.

Nine Tory ministers condemn prorogation of Parliament

What ministers said about prorogation before they put their own careers before the interests of the country
Ian Birrell https://twitter.com/ianbirrell

1) @NickyMorgan01, culture sec: 'It would lead to a constitutional crisis.'

2) @MattHancock, health sec: 'There is this idea from some people that to deliver Brexit we should suspend our parliamentary democracy, we should prorogue parliament. That goes against everything those men who waded onto those beaches fought & died for - and I will not have it'

3) @AmberRuddHR dd work & pensions sec: 'The idea of leaving the EU to take back more control into parliament and to consider the idea of closing parliament to do that is the most extraordinary idea I've ever heard. It is a ridiculous suggestion to consider Proroguing parliament

4) Sajid Javid, chancellor: You don't deliver on democracy by trashing democracy . . . we are not selecting a dictator of our country"

5) @MattHancock again: Proroguing Parliament undermines parliamentary democracy. I rule it out and call on all candidates to do the same

6) @AmberRuddHR again: 'I think it’s outrageous to consider proroguing Parliament. We are not Stuart kings.”

7) @MattHancock yet again: 'A policy on Brexit to prorogue Parliament would mean the end of the Conservative Party as a serious party of government'

8) @michaelgove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: 'I think it will be wrong for many reasons. I think it would not be true to the best traditions of British democracy

9) @NickyMorgan01 again: 'Proroguing Parliament is clearly a mad suggestion. You cannot say you are going to take back control … and then go: ‘Oh, by the way, we are just going to shut Parliament down for a couple of months, so we are just going to drift out on a no deal’

10) @andrealeadsom, business sec, was asked if she could go along with such a plan. 'No I don’t believe I would and I don’t believe it would happen.'

11) @andrealeadsom also said: 'It's certainly not something I would seek to do. I'm passionate about parliament democracy.'


12) @GeorgeFreemanMP, transport minister: 'The idea that a new PM will want, let alone be allowed by backbench MPs or Peers, to prorogue Parliament is bonkers. It would look appalling.'


13) @michaelgove again: 'One reason I argued to leave the EU was to make our parliament stronger, to reinvigorate our democracy. It would be a terrible thing if having said we should have more power in our country & trust our institutions more we shut the doors of parliament'

And from the Primest Minister of them all, the Sun King himself ...

14) @BorisJohnson, PM (h/t @Sandbach): 'I would like to make it absolutely clear that I am not attracted to arcane procedures such as the prorogation of Parliament. As someone who aspires to be the PM of a democratic nation, I believe in finding consensus in the House of Commons'


Ruth Davidson 'to quit as Scottish Conservative leader'

Party sources confirmed Ms Davidson was considering her position and was expected to make a statement tomorrow.


The news broke hours after Boris Johnson moved to suspend parliament for five weeks in order to stop MPs blocking a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Davidson has never hidden her disdain for Mr Johnson, or her opposition to no-deal.

However sources said her decision was not in response to the Prime Minister’s increasingly hardline on Brexit, but based on lifestyle and family commitments.


Small beans compared to the rest of today's news maybe, this will have been utterly predictable (despite the disclaimer above) if it pans out tomorrow. Davidson's never overtaxed herself as an MSP (as her constituents can vouch), so claims of "lifestyle and family commitments" conflicting with her cosy job in the family-friendly parliament at Holyrood just aren't credible.

Davidson, for far too long given an ultra-easy ride by the media, was once (seriously over-)hyped as a potential UK Tory leader, the public and electoral face of a Tory Party in Scotland that hardly dare display the brand "Conservative Party" on its literature and publicity:

She's been on the skids ever since May formed her alliance with the DUP, when their attitudes toward LGBT issues put her, as the openly gay, "modernizing" face of the Scottish Tories, in a very awkward position.

When the Tories won an unexpected 13 MPs in the last election, Davidson boasted that "her" MPs would take Scotland's case (in the very restrictive terms the Scottish Tories think fitting for us) to Westminster more effectively than the other parties could. The reality has been that "her" MPs have proven far more loyal to May, and so far Johnson, than to her (or indeed, Scotland), and she became more and more irrelevant even before, and especially after, she took maternity leave over the last year.

She was an ardent Remainer during the Brexit referendum, had a very awkward time squaring that stance with the evolving UK Tory line, backed a series of losers in the Tory leadership contest, and had to eat a hearty helping of crow when Johnson was elected.

In the UK context, if a series of polls are to believed, even before today's events and with her still at the helm, the Tories looked likely to lose all 13 of their Scottish MPs at the next general election. After today, and without her as figurehead, that looks like more than a fair bet, chipping away at a possible Tory majority at Westminster. We'll have to wait and see whether she remains in politics at all (we don't know yet whether she just intends to stand down as leader or whether she'll also quit as an MSP), but the No campaign in a future Scottish independence referendum would sorely miss her, though her claims and arguments from campaigns past would be very difficult to defend given how events have turned out and are turning out still.

Who's likely to succeed her as leader of the Scottish Tory branch office is anybody's guess at the moment, and we can but hope for a protracted, ugly contest, but none of the likely contenders (most probably from among the ranks of Tory MSPs) are charismatic, competent nor at all appealing.

Ukip leader Richard Braine says he is 'getting a bit fed up with all this dickbraine stuff'

Another month, another UKIP leader ...


Liz McInnes, the Labour MP, said: “I see that Ukip, in their perpetual leadership contest that is rivalled only by the DFS sale in its longevity, have now elected a triumph of nominative determinism, a Mr Dick Braine.”

Her party colleague, David Lammy, tweeted: “I wish I could laugh at the fact that this man is literally called Dick Braine. But I can’t, because I know it will only mask the seriousness of his dangerous and vile Islamophobia. His predecessors would be proud.”

Mr Braine had earlier said he “often” confused Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, with the leader of the 7/7 terror attackers. His tweet was condemned by Labour as “unacceptable racism”.

The Ukip leader also told Sky News on Tuesday the UK should “look into” banning the distribution of the Quran.


(No, this is not a spoof.)

What the self-proclaimed leader of a "far-moderate voice of common sense" in Britain, a.k.a. Dick Braine, looks like:

If Mr Braine has any complaints, I think they should be aimed at his apparently unimaginative, or unconcerned, parents.

Nigel Farage Has Hired A Journalist At The Centre Of Breitbart's Anti-Immigration Europe Coverage

During his three years at Breitbart London between 2015 and 2018, Liam Deacon churned out an extraordinary number of sensationalist stories about migrant crime, while promoting the activities of far-right, anti-Islam figures like Tommy Robinson and Anne Marie Waters, and attacking familiar targets of the European far-right like Angela Merkel and Sadiq Khan.

After leaving the publication, Deacon worked briefly for the Daily Star before joining the Brexit Party as a press officer in June.

More than 2,600 articles on the far-right site carry Deacon’s by-line. He started regularly writing for the website in April, 2015 as the European migrant crisis was rapidly escalating.

Some of his output involved mundane, tabloid news – Deacon’s by-line appears on the story about the man who officially changed his name to Buzz Lightyear, and the boat that was named “Boaty McBoatface” – or stories which touched on traditional right-wing culture war issues.

But mainly, Deacon wrote pieces which focused on Muslims, crime and immigration.


So much for the façade that the Brexit Party would be a sanitized, rebranded UKIP without the overt racism.

The fatuousness of that pretense will be clear to anyone who's been following Farage's recruitment drive for candidates to stand in a general election (each paying an "application fee" of £100 - a nice little earner on top of all the dark money slushing around).

Jacob Mates on Twitter has been taking a look at some of the candidates as they've been announced (because heaven forbid any mainstream outlet would do it, let alone challenge Farage on it during any of his monotonous media appearances):

MatesJacob @MatesJacob
Aug 3, 2019


Yesterday the Brexit Party announced the names of their parliamentary candidates, so I thought I’d have a quick look.

I’m afraid it’s bad news.


MatesJacob @MatesJacob

2/ Meet John Booker, an ex-UKIP councillor from Sheffield. You’d think the @brexitparty_uk might do some social media vetting of their candidates, but apparently not...
The Brexit Party ✔ @brexitparty_uk


Congratulations, John Booker!

Our Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for #Penistone & #Stocksbridge.

MatesJacob @MatesJacob

3/ They seem to have missed his sharing of Islamophobic posts like this one:

MatesJacob @MatesJacob

4/ ...and also missed his ‘likes’ on racially abusive comments aimed at @MagicMagid:

MatesJacob @MatesJacob

5/ He liked a comment that warned against a Muslim “takeover”, with them “slowly getting people into powerful positions”

MatesJacob @MatesJacob

6/ He liked a comment that seems to call for violent action against Islam/Muslims.


MatesJacob @MatesJacob

7/ If the Brexit Party truly intends to be “intolerant of intolerance” it needs to withdraw this candidate immediately, and be far more thorough in vetting the remaining 600+ candidates still to be announced.

I'm sure they'll get right on to that. That's just one example. There are many other recently announced candidates whose past doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

Look forward to the sort of rhetoric Farage is likely to come out with again during an upcoming election being matched by Johnson and his boss, Dominic Cummings. Let's just hope none of the other parties decide to join in.

Lib Dems win Brecon & Radnorshire by-election

Their candidate, Jane Dodds, beat the incumbent Tory, Chris Davies, who'd been recalled after an expenses scandal.

Lib Dems 13826
Tories 12401
Brexit Party 3331
Labour 1680
Monster Raving Loony Party 334
UKIP 242

Plaid Cymru and the Greens didn't stand, in order to maximize the chances of defeating the Tories.

This reduces the Tories' majority in parliament to one (at time of writing - there have been rumours that a Lib Dem win might trigger defections over the next day or so).
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