SBR 22: Conservatives off the rails

Hi folks! Duncan and Garry are putting their feet up this week (and why not?) and in a moment of madness they’ve put me in charge. Bloggers everywhere will now be producing a very audible collective gulp.

Much like the gulp no doubt emitted by David Cameron when Patrick Mercer, the Tory Homeland Security Spokesman, decided to discuss race relations in the Army. Mercer’s comments led to him being fired from his position. Garry feels that Mercer had only himself to blame and that the Party’s response was actually pretty poor. On the other hand, Reactionary Snob is concerned that this is a sign of the professional political class that’s emerging in the UK:

One of my (many) bugbears is the professionalisation of politics. Rather than drawing in the great military minds, the City elite, leading lawyers etc far too many people in politics have no experience outside of politics.

Staying with the Conservatives, David Mundell’s leaked memo regarding the state of the party in Scotland has provoked debate. Alan Simpson has been a long-standing critic of Annabel Goldie’s leadership and invites comments on the Shadow Scotland Secretary’s key points. Ewan sees a pretty bleak election ahead for the Tories but wonders whether there’s any point to this being discussed now, and asks if Mundell would still be in a job had David Cameron not been forced to sack Patrick Mercer. He does, however, think that Mundell is the best (well, the only) person for his current position and suspects that the Conservatives’ only MP in Scotland was unfortunate. Over at Scottish Political News, Liam Murray ventures that Mundell is being criticised not for what he wrote, but for how it ended up in public. Holyrood Watcher notices that either no one in the Party has bothered to act on the memo, or they want to, but have no idea what to do about it. Mr. Eugenides is sympathetic with what Mundell wrote, but following the release of a second memo, feels that the Shadow Scotland Secretary ‘s performance isn’t above reproach either.

But it’s not just the Tories who are facing criticism in the blogosphere. Richard Thomson has criticism for Sir Menzies Campbell’s leadership of the LibDems, arguing that they don’t have a clear policy agenda. Neil Craig, meanwhile, thinks that Campbell’s apparent desire to prop up a Gordon Brown Premiership is more of a turn-off for voters. Grant Thoms has picked up on Paddy Ashdown’s comments that Liberal Democrats would ‘sup with the Devil’ if it led to Proportional Representation. Grant’s reaction is, well, pretty cynical.

Labour, meanwhile, are in the firing line as well. Mark accuses John Reid of appropriating the language of the Far Right in his latest push against illegal immigrants. Garry, on the other hand, reckons that both Labour and the Conservatives have a problem: he’s noticed that the much promised end to ‘Punch and Judy’ politics hasn’t materialised, with Blair falling back on the old trick of scrutinising Opposition policies rather than answering questions about Government policy. Even the SNP have come in the firing line: could the party be about to put independence on the back burner? Kevin Williamson is concerned.

Speaking of confrontational approaches, the rail strike is also generating comment. Caron feels that the RMT are to blame for the current situation, by refusing to negotiate with Network Rail and throwing words like ‘scab’ around. Angry Steve argues that the signalworkers ought to be grateful for what they already have, i.e. employment. Duncan, meanwhile, believes that it’s the passengers who are suffering: he reckons there are plenty of positives about the state of the rail network, and, like Steve and Caron, he’s exasperated at the RMT’s (and particularly Bob Crow’s) behaviour. Kevin, however, thinks that the media haven’t covered themselves in glory with their reporting of the story, and wonders if the oft-used word ‘chaos’ is justified.

In the world of investigative blogging, Chris Applegate uncovers a shocking fact: no child was given the name Senga in Scotland in 2006. For the uninitiated, the name Senga started life as a reversal of the name Agnes, and was a modern homage to the newborn’s great-grandmother. It’s now considered to be a synonym of ned, but the absence of the name from last year’s list lead Chris to suspect that it’s all just an urban myth.

Finally, we bloggers are an introspective lot. Bishop Hill looks at the slightly premature report of Margaret Thatcher’s death and considers the question of whether the blogosphere as a whole was discredited. What do you think?

That’s all for now, peeps, normal service (is there such a thing?) will be resumed next week. Bye-de-bye!

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