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Fri, 02 May 2003

And if you thought that wasn't weird enough ...

Those whacky Japanese, part II.

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posted at: 21:06 | path: /weird | permanent link to this entry

Sailor Moon goes Sumo

Those whacky Japanese. Again.

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posted at: 19:15 | path: /weird | permanent link to this entry

Recombinant politics

The results of yesterday's elections for the Scottish Parliament are coming in. According to the BBC, "with eight of the 129 seats left to fill Labour had 50 seats, the SNP 21, the Liberal Democrats and Tories 15 each, the Greens six, five seats were held by the Scottish Socialists and four by independents".

(Of the independents, one is a retired doctor, campaigning against the closure of Stobhill Hospital -- she succeeded in unseating a minister in his home constituency.)

The big news? The SNP (Scottish Nationalist Party -- soft-left socialist party with an agenda calling for a referendum on Scottish independence as a separate EU state) lost eight seats. Labour is down five, and the LDP (Liberal Democrat Party) is down one. What seems to have happened is that Labour has been somewhat damaged by the war, while the radical left parties have cannibalized the soft left side of the vote. (The Conservative gain -- from one seat to three -- isn't really very significant; their baseline support in Scotland is around 8-10% of the population, with no real variation, and the single seat situation was something of an anomaly.)

Labour won't be able to govern without a formal coalition, almost certainly with the Lib-Dems. In the previous administration Labour ostensibly ran the government, albeit as a minority and relying on the Lib-Dems not to oppose them. This time around, there'll be no such illusions. Among other things this means that Westminster's plan to impose a national identity card system on the UK, piloting it in Scotland, is probably about to come to a screeching halt, as the LDP position on ID cards is more or less "over our dead bodies". And the potential exists for a left-wing rainbow coalition to gang up on Labour if an issue ever surfaces on which the Lib-Dems, SNP, SSP, and Greens all agree. We might even see Labour in Scotland being forced to crawl to the Tories and independent MSPs for support in crucial votes.

All of which basically confirms two important facts of Scottish politics: firstly, that it's much more pluralistic than anyone expected, with no less than six parties holding three or more of the 129 seats, and secondly, that the main right wing party in Scotland is Labour -- apart from the Tory rump, everyone else is some way to the left. In fact, the outcome can be characterised as Scottish politics moving steadily leftwards, with the Socialist Party and the Greens as the main beneficiaries.

And in the larger picture, it suggests that Tony Blair isn't going to reap one fly-speck of political solace from being on the winning side in Bush's war when it comes to the next general election. Which is good.

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posted at: 09:38 | path: /misc | permanent link to this entry


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