Apr. 18th, 2016

danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
The election in Scotland is shaping up to be a peculiar one. It seems more like an election to decide on the opposition. The widespread assumption is that the SNP will win, will win a second absolute majority, and are likely to increase their vote share and majority over the 2011 result.

The Green Party seems to be campaigning specifically on their abilty to provide an effective, positive and more interesting opposition than any one else. Neither the Labour Party or the Conservative Party are making a strong bid for govenment but rather presenting themselves as an opposition party that would like to be considered for government after spending the years 2016 to 2021 beating up the SNP. The Liberal Democrats still have such a long way to go to recover from the set back linked to their part in the UK government of 2010-15 that I think their electoral pitch is pretty much "You'll miss us if we go."

So most of the parties are making noises about effective opposition but only one party is talking about being in government - and that's the government. I'm not sure I've ever seen an election where most of the focus was on who was going to be the opposition. The twhole #bothvotes controvesy just goes to show that we're really talking about who ought to be the opposition and how effective that opposition ought to be.

I expect things will look different in 2021. By then the gloss will have come off the SNP, or rather the teflon. There is a strange mindset in Scotland at the moment that the SNP are not really responsible for their policy or administrative failings but that these are caused by They Westminster and that the SNP are really a left of centre party that would like to govern as a left of centre party were it not for They Westminister. Policy consequences and administrative cock-ups seem not to be sticking to the SNP. There is a more fanciful mindset amongst fervant nationalists, the sort of person who thinks that Yes didn't lose #Indyref, that there are in fact no failings and that any negative news about the government in Scotland is being made up by some cabal of Unionists in London. After 14 years of government, 10 as a majority government, with increased powers for Holyrood and the memories of the excitement of the 2014 referendum faded I doubt the SNP can maintain the delicate position that everything good that they do is due entirely to them, everything bad that happens is to the result fo Westminister and that any thing they fail to do is because of the constitutional constraints.

Or the SNP will largely avoid this, by luck or judgement, and the 2021 election will be about which of the four opposition parties the people of Scotland feel they could do without.

In either case, having been the effective opposition may well turn out to be important.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
A jolly weekend in Birmingham with BB.

We arrived late on Friday night and checked in to our more upmarket than usual hotel in the centre of Birmingham. A bit of a chat and a catch up (a chatchup) on the train meant we were all ready for an early night on Friday. BB is working hard for her A Levels and, as Captain Wrangler of the Day last weekend I think we both deserved an early night.

Saturday, breakfast at the hotel and then out to the Universtiy campus to look at (from the outside) the favoured halls of residence for BB's first year. They look fine. Some are older than others. They will be small rooms in small flats I guess but the new ones should at least be warm and dry. Birmingham University has a campus on the outskirts of the city and part of this is essentially a park with a load of student flats in it. This includes a twenty storey high rise hall which looks dead swanky.

It was a lovely sunny day for a walk so we walked around a lot. We found ourselves at about 3pm looking for a coffee and the only place open was the staff bar. I saw the end of the Scottish Cup semi-final between Hibs and Dundee United, had a pint of local university beer and nice sandwich.

Back to town to visit Waterstones. I bought, the first (chronologically) Flashman book, two novels by Lindsay Davis, one a Flavia Alba novel and the other a courtly intrigue about Domitian, a book on evolution, a history of the War of the Three Kingdons and Mary Beard's general history of Rome. BB bought nothing - she has enough reading to do.

We went out for a curry for dinner by the canalside - it was nice. Birmingham seems to be gentrifying itself. This is a thing I am mostly in favour of. Then home to watch some television and read and have another early night.

Sunday, no breakfast, but a walk along the canal to a Brazilian barbeque buffet for early lunch then home on the train.

Restful and pleasant.

BB seems okay about the exams. I'm not sure there is much I can do to help her.

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danieldwilliam

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