Brexit and the waning days of the United Kingdom

Started by Josquius, February 20, 2016, 07:46:34 AM

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How would you vote on Britain remaining in the EU?

British- Remain
12 (12.1%)
British - Leave
7 (7.1%)
Other European - Remain
21 (21.2%)
Other European - Leave
6 (6.1%)
ROTW - Remain
33 (33.3%)
ROTW - Leave
20 (20.2%)

Total Members Voted: 97

Sheilbh

Who could've guessed that a married couple running a political party might not work out. Still think it's slightly amazing that two of the three leadership candidates were basically saying they didn't trust the party machinery to run a fair vote:
QuoteSNP chief executive Peter Murrell resigns with immediate effect
Departure of Murrell, husband of Nicola Sturgeon, comes day after media chief quit amid membership numbers row
Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent
Sat 18 Mar 2023 14.54 GMT
First published on Sat 18 Mar 2023 12.12 GMT

The chief executive of the Scottish National party has resigned with immediate effect as an escalating row over party membership figures engulfs the party's senior echelons, prompting demands for an overhaul of how it carries out its internal business.

Peter Murrell, who has been chief executive since 2000 and married Nicola Sturgeon in 2010, said he had planned to step down after the leadership contest to replace his wife had concluded, but was doing so now because "my future has become a distraction from the campaign".

All three candidates vying to replace Sturgeon welcomed his decision, but only Humza Yousaf, widely understood to be the party leadership's preferred successor, went on to praise him as "an outstanding servant of the independence movement and the SNP".

Murrell's position became untenable after the party's head of communications, Murray Foote, resigned on Friday evening, saying he had been given false information to feed to the media about the disputed membership figures by "colleagues at party HQ".


As pressure grew on Murrell to apologise, the Herald reported on Saturday morning that he had been told to resign by the end of the day or face a vote of no confidence from the party's national executive committee.

On Thursday, the party revealed the total number of members eligible to vote in its leadership contest had fallen to 72,186, after coming under sustained pressure from all three leadership candidates to release the figures. Two of the candidates – the finance minister, Kate Forbes, and Ash Regan, a former junior minister – questioned the integrity of the ballot process.

The number released was significantly lower than that previously estimated by party sources and briefed to journalists in the early stages of the campaign. It also confirmed a Sunday Mail report from February that the SNP's membership had slumped by 30,000 since 2021, which Foote originally dismissed as "drivel".

In a statement issued just before lunchtime, Murrell said: "Responsibility for the SNP's responses to media queries about our membership number lies with me as chief executive. While there was no intent to mislead, I accept that this has been the outcome."

He said he was "very proud" of what the party had achieved in his time as chief executive, citing "14 national election wins".

Amid criticism of his proximity to the contest to replace his wife, Murrell said: "The election contest is being run by the national secretary and I have had no role in it at any point."

Sturgeon's unexpected resignation as first minister in February sparked calls for Murrell to step aside and be replaced by a more neutral caretaker figure. The pair have faced criticism for years about the effect on transparency and accountability of having a married couple at the top of the party.

Sturgeon's resignation prompted further speculation about a Police Scotland investigation into the fate of £600,000 donated to the SNP for its next independence referendum campaign, and Murrell's loan of £107,000 to the party to "assist with cashflow" after the 2021 Holyrood election campaign.

Sturgeon said her husband was right to announce his resignation. She told Sky News: "He had intended to step down when there was a new leader but I think he was right to make that announcement today."

She added: "Peter has been a key part of the electoral success we have achieved in recent years and I know there will be a recognition of that across the party."

Just before Murrell announced his resignation, Forbes published an open letter to SNP members, urging them not to sit out the election because they were "scunnered by the stories". She promised a series of internal changes, including an independent audit of membership numbers and finances.

Forbes wrote: "Restoring trust and transparency in the way that the SNP carries out its internal business and restoring the confidence of people in Scotland are two sides of the same coin."

Responding to Murrell's resignation, Regan said: "Eight years ago was the point where it was unacceptable to have the husband of the party leader as the CEO. I am encouraged to see the democratic foundations of the party now asserting their rightful function."

Thanking Murrell, Yousaf said: "I agree with Peter that it is time for him to move on and make way for a new leader to appoint a new chief executive as passionate about the SNP and the cause of independence as he has been.

"With less than 10 days to go in this leadership contest, it is vital we all focus on the policies and vision we have for the party, movement and country."
Let's bomb Russia!

Sheilbh

Really interesting thread on Anglosphere NIMBYism/housing from John Burn-Murdoch - slightly mad that compared to the rest of the English speaking world the UK isn't doing as bad as I expected and is at least slightly increasing supply:
QuoteJohn Burn-Murdoch
@jburnmurdoch
NEW: housing shortages, affordability crises and NIMBYism are growing problems in many countries, but what's especially striking is how much worse they all are in Anglophone countries 🇬🇧🇺🇸🇦🇺🇳🇿🇨🇦🇮🇪


What's going on?

My column -> https://enterprise-sharing.ft.com/redeem/1a2c0ab
This was the chart (via @geographyjim
) that first caught my eye.

• Asia: started from a low base, but now building lots
• Most of developed Europe: steady rates of growth
• Anglosphere: not enough to start with, and not enough being built

Why the Anglo exceptionalism?

As always, there will be many factors at play, but one thing that shows up time and time again is Anglo discomfort with density.

And by density I don't mean towering high-rises, I mean the beautiful apartment blocks you see in places like Copenhagen, Barcelona, Paris etc.
There's a common view that Anglos (especially Brits) hate any and all new housing.

It's partially true, but masks nuance.

Brits are indeed more opposed to new housing than others, but they're especially opposed to anything more than two-storeys tall.

Apartments? Hate them.

The result is that far fewer people live in apartments and flats in English-speaking countries than elsewhere, and Anglo cities are *staggeringly* low-density.

There's an irony here, in that one reasons the English-speaking world doesn't build enough is concerns over impact to "nature" (see below), but by shunning density, you encourage sprawling, car-dependent cities, which does far more environmental damage
So why the opposition to apartments?

Many reasons:

1) Quality of apartments in places like England is crap compared to the continent. Cheap materials, negligible noise insulation, tiny floor space. As @tobylloyd points out, this is completely backwards
2) This isn't about zoning vs UK's discretionary system. The other 5 Anglo countries have zoning, but all 6 systems facilitate reactive objections to individual applications, rather than proactive public engagement at the policy-setting stage.

In other words, Nimbys welcome!
3) I think there is something inherent in the Anglo culture that places a high value on a solo home.

Think the "white picket fence" American dream, similar versions of which abound in Australia and New Zealand.

Others suggest additional issues that extend beyond the anti-apartment stance.

Home-as-asset seems to be an especially pronounced issue in Anglo countries, while the rules in many of these countries also facilitate homes-as-investment.

Neither helps either supply or prices.
But ultimately, I think the opposition to apartments is something we need to fix regardless.

Not only should it help tackle the housing crisis, it is also good for the environment and will help boost productivity

Lots of links and interesting comments on the thread here:
https://twitter.com/jburnmurdoch/status/1636682164312973316

(Inevitably the example of protecting the environment was the discovery of a rare spider thwarting a housing development in Plymouth :lol:)

I've mentioned the impact of Australia's elections on our politics which we saw again this week. Labour have identified childcare as a big dividing line for the next election, following Labor in Australia - so the Tories nicked some Labour and Lib Dem ideas and announced significant changes to childcare phasing in over the next couple of years. And the big one is the Teal Independents winning affluent, traditionally Liberal areas with a big pitch on climate while the Liberals doubled down on culture war issues. But another issue the Teals ran on (and this reminds me of the role the Lib Dems play here) was a lot of complaining about over-development of those affluent areas and, in particular, that "local people's voices" were being ignored in favour of developers. Wouldn't be surprised if that's another feature - again from the Lib Dems - of Australia's election that plays well here too.

Edit: And I've said it before but I find the Benelux countries being right next to the UK/Anglo-world really interesting.
Let's bomb Russia!

Tamas

Could NYMBISM in its Anglosphere extreme form be an offshoot of reservations about immigration?

Sheilbh

#24438
Quote from: Tamas on March 19, 2023, 05:24:00 AMCould NYMBISM in its Anglosphere extreme form be an offshoot of reservations about immigration?
I think there might be a link - but I also wonder if that and NIMBYism is tied to the Anglo-world's general success in attracting immigration or how they interact. The US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are all historic nations of immigrants. But all, to one extent or other, have had racial restrictions on immigration at various points though. Looking at those countries generally I wouldn't say they're defined by reservations about immigration.

Ireland is, of course, incredibly different. It's a nation defined by emigration. The population of the island of Ireland is still about 1 million lower than it was before the great famine. Ireland is also not historically very diverse but becoming increasingly so all the time.

I think the UK is also different. Historically obviously it was the trading hub and metropole of an empire so possibly has historic experience of migration that is in Europe maybe mainly comparable with France for the same reason. It's now a nation of immigrants in the same way that Germany, Spain and some other European countries are.

In a way I wonder if in the case of the UK and Ireland it's actually possibly tied to emigration? That is the defining story of Ireland since the famine. In the post-war Britain had net emigration until the 90s but even now estimates are that around 5.5-6 million British citizens live overseas (about 1-1.5 million in the EU, mainly France and Spain - both the total and the EU stat excludes Ireland), so just under 10% of the UK's population. Obviously that's not direct as there'll be people who are citiens who've always lived abroad but I believe that is relatively high in European comparisons - there's about 2.5 million French and 3 million German citizens who live abroad for example, although not as high as, say, Portual. I believe Ireland has an even higher rate at around 15% of citizens living overseas (with the same complications).

Edit: Although I think there is particularly something in that (with the exception of Ireland until recently) all those countries have been relatively able to attract immigration which again interacts with this - and seems like something that might also apply to Belgium and the Netherlands which, like England, are pretty densely populated on a national level.

Edit: I also think there's something of the post-war sense of prosperity to it as well - suburbs, motorisation and slum clearances going hand in hand, and in the UK, especially, that suburban/new home boom going with the development of really minimal luxuries like an indoor private toilet (as opposed to shared or outdoor loos) as well as new American consumer appliances. Possibly also that compared to much of Europe (and also Japan and Korea) Anglo-world cities were relatively unharmed post-1945 so there was less focus on rebuilding the core?
Let's bomb Russia!

garbon

"I've never been quite sure what the point of a eunuch is, if truth be told. It seems to me they're only men with the useful bits cut off."

I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.

Sheilbh

Let's bomb Russia!

Josquius

#24441
To be fair on population density being super low in the UK, I think a lot of that is a local government thing.
Most of Europe follows a municipality system where you can quite happily have a town of 3000 people and a bazillion sheep sitting next door to a major city.
In the UK this would be counted part of the city borough council area.
In America of course things are different again and they take this to stupid extremes calling cities what are rationally counties. Albeit from a decentralised approach closer to the European one.

As to nimbyism being a particular problem... Isn't there something in the history of land ownership, common law, and whatnot which makes Anglo countries particularly awful? - the Dutch are fairly close to us on this too. There was a famous Japanese traveler in the 19th century who was freaked out at the way in Holland just anyone, even a foreigner, could buy and develop land.

I think there's also a bit of an issue in how the UK was historically super liberal, property being built solely (exceptions are notable in how we look on them so well even today) in the pursuit of profit. And then post war swung radically in completely the oppsoite direction with horrible Soviet style tower blocks completely remaking places.
In much of Europe there seems to be far more a middle ground at work with their mid rises blending into the urban fabric and even from fairly early times the provision of housing being a municipal priority.
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Sheilbh

I don't think those countries have anything like English land law. I know an Irish lawyer who cross-qualified into English law and generally it's very easy if you're from another common law country - the exception is land law which is really, really different :lol: I think it's even quite different for someone from a Scots law background.

I do find it really interesting that of reasonable size nations the Netherlands, England and Belgium are the densest in Europe at 429, 424 and 376 people per sq km respectively, but Amsterdam, London and Brussels are relatively low density and in each only 20% live in apartments. It's strange :hmm:
Let's bomb Russia!

mongers

Quote from: Sheilbh on March 19, 2023, 10:27:34 AMI don't think those countries have anything like English land law. I know an Irish lawyer who cross-qualified into English law and generally it's very easy if you're from another common law country - the exception is land law which is really, really different :lol: I think it's even quite different for someone from a Scots law background.

I do find it really interesting that of reasonable size nations the Netherlands, England and Belgium are the densest in Europe at 429, 424 and 376 people per sq km respectively, but Amsterdam, London and Brussels are relatively low density and in each only 20% live in apartments. It's strange :hmm:

Well their capital cities do dominate national life, so maybe 'they' feel entitled to spread themselves over more of their countries (citysplaning?)

I wonder if there's any correlation between capitals with higher densities and a less centralised political, economic and national life?
"We have it in our power to begin the world over again"

The Brain

Tolkien did make his ideal Englishmen hobbits. This was no coincidence.
Women want me. Men want to be with me.

Sheilbh

Quote from: mongers on March 19, 2023, 10:49:05 AMWell their capital cities do dominate national life, so maybe 'they' feel entitled to spread themselves over more of their countries (citysplaning?)

I wonder if there's any correlation between capitals with higher densities and a less centralised political, economic and national life?
I don't think that's true of the Netherland and it certainly isn't true of Belgium with its three tiers, three regions and seven parliaments :lol:

Not sure it's true of federal systems like the US, Australia or Canada either.
Let's bomb Russia!

Josquius

I'm tempted to guess part of the answer lies in the other direction with a historic "weakness" of cities during the key industrial period with more development happening out in small towns.
Tied into this the stuff about historic liberalism vs Central planning.
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Sheilbh

Quote from: Josquius on March 19, 2023, 11:38:16 AMI'm tempted to guess part of the answer lies in the other direction with a historic "weakness" of cities during the key industrial period with more development happening out in small towns.
I almost wonder if it's the other way round. The UK industrialised and urbanised early and by the time steel frames were commonly used in construction we were already at, if not past, the peak of the industrialisation. The second industrial revolution was American and German. I think it's interesting that another early industrial centre in Europe was Benelux and especially Belgium.

In the UK, the cities had already built up and as, from my understanding, until steel there was a limit in height because it was all load-bearing masonry. So the cities sprawled and were connected by railway and trams. There's a few superb steel frame buildings in the UK, like the buildings around Pier Head in Liverpool. But we didn't, sadly, generally get into sky scrapers or mid-rise steel buildings because we'd already urbanised - and that pattern has been repeated since. The UK and Belgium (I think the Netherlands is different) were already about 80-90% urbanised by the 1890s when steel-frame buildings become the norm.

QuoteTied into this the stuff about historic liberalism vs Central planning.
Although the peak of historic profit-making liberal on development was also when we were building enough housing to keep pace with the population and when we built most (although with interwar liberalism and Metroland there was also municipal socialism).
Let's bomb Russia!

Josquius

A lack of steel wouldn't explain that we didn't do much beyond 2 stories. Conventional brick or stone builds easily do 4 or 5 stories as happened in parts of Europe where being within the city itself held more value.

Early railways perhaps the factor?
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HVC

Brit's make bad neighbours so everyone wants max distance and min density? :P
Being lazy is bad; unless you still get what you want, then it's called "patience".
Hubris must be punished. Severely.