PLACE YOUR BETS: Honey McBee’s Buzz Round the Media

TUESDAY 26TH MAY: How long will Alistair Carmichael hold out?

He has the support of his leader Willie Rennie – possibly the kind that football managers enjoy when their team hits the bottom of the league. SCOT GOES POP had fun with some of the reasons for him to stay on the LibDems have come up with

Comment has centred on the various methods that might be employed to force him to stand down – here’s TOM GORDON in the Sunday Herald on using the MPs’ Code of Conduct – several members of the public, says Gordon, have asked the Parliamentary Commission for Standards  to investigate if the leak broke the code.

LESLEY RIDDOCH in yesterday’s Scotsman also rehearsed the possibilities, and MARK LEFTLY in the Independent on Sunday thought it possible that Carmichael might be hoist by the Clegg petard of Recal.l But this isn’t likely – in fact, lawyer ANDREW TICKELL in two LALLANDS PEAT WORRIER blogs here and here laid out exactly why it can’t happen. So, watch this space to find out if nothing in his [political] life became him like the leaving of it…

 

THINK THE UNTHINKABLE…

In line with our policy of not intruding on private grief, we eschewed the acres of rainforest still agonising over Scottish Labour’s demise this week. However, we would not want to responsible for reader’s withdrawal symptoms, so here’s Kevin McKenna in the Observer with a plan. Learn from the SNP is the message, and “whatever is prescribed by people such as Brian Wilson and lordships and barons such as Foulkes, McConnell, Robertson and Reid should be quietly ignored. For various reasons, these men carry a great deal of responsibility for Scottish Labour’s presence in the intensive care unit. And whatever blueprint for the party’s reform that Jim Murphy, the outgoing leader, produces next month should be politely received and then placed in the file marked ‘chocolate teapot’”. McKenna earns the ScotBuzz chequebook and pen this week for sheer common sense.

 

Next up, some thoughts on constitutional matters …

FIRST – WHAT TO DO WITH SCOTLAND.  ‘A shabby decision’.  That’s the verdict of NICK PEARCE and MATHEW LAWRENCE of the left-leaning think tank IPPR on the new government’s decision to abolish the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee.  Why would the government do it, they ask, when this session of Parliament is likely to focus on exactly what the committee was set up to scrutinise?

It’s important, Pearce and Lawrence argue, because “how we organise our democracy and its institutions fundamentally shapes how we live together, how our economy is organised, and how power operates: it is the essence of politics, not the ephemera. It is therefore time that we took democracy seriously and work to ensure that our institutions reflect that spirit”.

On the same theme, Prof ALAN TRENCH in his latest Devolution Matters blog looks at the new report from the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law which concludes that ad hoc devolution and the Barnett formula have had their day, and a more systematic approach to the way the UK is governed is needed. The end, of course, is to maintain the Union – independence does not figure, and neither, at first glance, does federalism.

Would-be UK Labour leader Liz Kendall is making more powers for England a priority, wrote TIM ROSS in the Sunday Telegraph, but she needs Tristram Hunt’s help in working out how to go about it.

 

SECOND – WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE EU.  Brexit has now superseded independence in the referendum stakes. Here’s long-time Eurosceptic – and probably their most articulate spokesman – DANIEL HANNAN MEP in yesterday’s Daily Mail, confiding his European colleagues’  amazement that so far the UK ‘s demands amount to so very little – I struggle to think of any political story where the media coverage is so far removed from the reality. It’s not that the EU won’t repatriate significant powers to Britain. It’s that Britain won’t ask. So what is Britain asking for? Mainly things that can be implemented by domestic legislation and require no EU agreement anyway.”  Here he is again in CAPX explaining tactics for a Eurosceptic win…

And here’s a sense of déjà vu – GEORGE PARKER in the FT revealed that Chancellor Osborne was so pleased with their effect on the economic argument in Scotland that he is considering issuing another set of analysis papers – remember them?  Will the same accusations of Treasury bias arise? More than likely, says Parker – on past form.

EUAN MCCOLM in Scotland on Sunday had a two-page look at both sides lining up in Scotland, while DAVID TORRANCE in yesterday’s Herald questioned the SNP’s new stance on Europe – indeed, “on closer examination [it] becomes a bit of a mess”.  First it will mean, as Alex Salmond seems happy toy embrace, working with the Conservatives. Then there is the question of why they’re so keen on sovereignty within the UK, but happy to be in an increasingly united Europe [follow the money, perhaps? – Ed] and finally, says Torrance, there’s a lot about Europe that they really don’t like – fisheries and the single currency being prime examples.

Meanwhile the debate begins – as in 2014 – over who should, or should not, be able to vote.  ANDREW SPARROW and LIBBY BROOKS in yesterday’s Guardian looked at those lining up behind enfranchising 16 and 17yr olds; in the same edition, Angus Robertson laid out the SNP’s case.

MARK WALLACE in yesterday’s ConservativeHome pointed out that the Prime Minister’s pronouncement  on the franchise has ‘gently’ spiked UKIP’s guns – Nigel Farage has for a long time been demanding exactly the plebiscite we will have. Ironically, one of those caught by Cameron’s rules will be French-born Christian Allard, newly elected SNP MSP for North East Scotland…

And for geeks and pundits who should get out more, i100 gave us the definitive list of who can, and cannot vote.

 

GREEN SARIS AND BLUE TOOTHBRUSHES: As the Glasgow marching season got underway at the weekend, JUDITH DUFFY and IMRAM AZAM in the Sunday Herald took a sideways look at sectarianism by focussing on the way it affects women and how this is overlooked in what is largely both a masculine and misogynist pursuit. Domestic violence and careful choice of purchases feature – as do attempts by women to change their situation.  [All this observer would add is that watching a Loyalist march down the Royal Mile some years ago, the women taking part looked considerably more fearsome than the men…]

 

THERE’S A SURPRISE: JAY AKBAR of the Mail on Sunday reported that the team behind HS2, clearly keen to support the Union, have [probably – it’s not yet definite, but] decided there is no viable economic case for extending their baby to Scotland.  So, the Northern powerhouses it is; those of us wanting to go south any faster than Stephenson’s Rocket can go whistle – or we can jolly well go by plane.  This is yesterday’s National’s [£] take on the story. Not impressed, as you would imagine.

 

TWO STEPS FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK: GEOFFREY LEAN in the environmental pages of the Telegraph reported on the community led Coast project on Arran that has seen a dramatic improvement in fishing where temporary halts to all damaging sea-bed dredging and trawling has stopped –  and how the Scottish government’s latest Marine Protection proposals my do more harm than good…

 

THIS LAND IS MY LAND: If you missed it, the Prime Minister’s father-in-law WILLIAM ASTOR wrote in last week’s Spectator of his worry that the Scottish government’s proposed reforms would affect his Jura estate in a ‘Mugabe-style land grab’.  Landowners’ concerns may be genuine, but recounting idyllic summer holidays on the beach and citing golf courses as community benefits do not cut much ice with the Andy Wightmans of this world.

 

BEST OF THE REST…

The Sky’s the Limit: Edinburgh architect PETER WILSON of Napier University in Thursday’s Conversation says new technology will allow wooden buildings to rise far above the levels permitted by current regulations – there’s no reason, he says why skyscrapers of the future should not be made from wood. Already we have building like the nine-storey Stadhaus in Hackney and in Scandinavia they are reaching 34 storeys. No longer a brave new world…

Ruritania rules: Peter Sellers is alive and well and living in the new Kingdom of Enclava. The Observer reported on a group of idealists – or nutcases, depending on your mindset – taking over an unclaimed strip of land on the Serbo-Croat border.  Freedom of speech and no taxes guaranteed.  Form an orderly queue behind the 5,000 who have already applied

Murraymania: It’s new balls please time again and the French Open looms for our home-grown hero. In the Conversation, TONY WESTBURY, lecturer in sports psychology at Napier looks at what Murray will have to do to break through the Djokovic barrier. Interesting, even in the conclusion isn’t very hopeful…

 

AND FINALLY

Shock horror: Last Thursday’s CITY AM reported a near disaster. Garden parties in the Home Counties won’t be the same this summer. There’ll be panicking outside Waitrose. Or let them drink Pimms of course …

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