Wednesday, 21 December 2011


23 years ago, at 7.03pm, 270 lives were wiped out.

One family of four was wiped out in the town of Lockerbie - I knew them, and what happened had a huge impact on my own family.

This is not a time to start arguing about the rights and wrongs of a criminal case, but simply a time to reflect on the innocent lives which ended so abruptly in an act of violence.

Some people would do well to remember those victims instead of furthering their own political agendas.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Great Train Robbery

Not the infamous crime, but the news that the train companies can increase their fares by a whopping 5.9%.

This is now getting ridiculous. We have the highest train fares in Europe, some of the worst services and an incomprehensible fares system - you can be fined for getting off a stop EARLY.

There is not a single party who is making the effort to regulate and reduce the fares. Neither do any of them propose to introduce legislation to force efficiency on the private companies.

The country is suffering economically, with consumer confidence down. So what does the Government do? Raise petrol duty and allow an increase in train fares, thus leaving commuters with less cash in their pocket, with the knock-on effect of them spending less on other goods and services.

Public transport is screaming out for regulation, but neither the Westminster or Holyrood Governments are paying a blind bit of attention. And all their arguments about "green" policies are hypocritical, given that some people will now travel by car since it is cheaper.

Someone needs to grab the respective Tranport Ministers and force them to commute on the busiest lines for a month. Then they might actually understand what we the travelling public have to endure.

Monday, 19 December 2011

SNP and Europe

Bit of an absence, but rather busy last week.

Back to my favourite subject, since the First Minister has had an article published on another site.

The article, as you would expect, is well written and informative. However, the alarm bells are now well and truly ringing.

The First Minister has made it abundantly clear that Scotland is to be a "full fledged" European state. There is no doubt that regardless of what is promised about asking the Scottish people AFTER independence, Scotland will be at the heart of Europe come independence. Or to put it another way, a member state fully entrenched politically, and in a position to having to accept the single currency.

Never mind that there is talk in Brussels about regulating fossil fuels so they become owned by the EU. No, the First Minister is using this to attack Cameron's approach to Europe (including a pop at the fishing policies). Now while he has a point, he is heading down the wrong track.

Numerous surveys and polls indicate that most people do not want power devolved to Europe. They want the power to remain at home. So why does the First Minister insist that Scotland will be a major player?

David Cameron is not exactly popular, but his stance on Europe is. Here is a man, with little in common to most voters and with policies that are ripping the economy apart, managing to gain support for his actions. His policy is obviously to save the financial sector, and is rather narrow minded. But despite this he has support. I have yet to speak to anyone who thinks he did wrong over Europe.

The First Minister is now slowly but surely confusing the Scottish voter. We've had the ill-fated "Arc of Prosperity", now limited to Norway, which is a truly successful case. He wants us to emulate the Scandinavian countries. But these countries are generally Euro-sceptic. But he also wants Scotland to be right at the heart of Europe at the top table.

The Referendum is less than four years away. I'm betting on 2014 for historical reasons. Europe is not going to recover within this time. In fact, things might be even worse, and the SNP will be trying to convince people that their policy is safe and secure.

My own view is that they need to urgently change this policy on Europe. If they do it now, then accusations of a u-turn will soon wither away. But if they leave it too late, then they will appear indecisive to voters.

Too many supporters are treating the Referendum like a parliamentary election. It is fundamentally different and goes beyond party politics. The SNP have let May's emphatic victory go to their heads. The Referendum campaign will not listen to the concerns of voters; it will be about the SNP's ultimate goal - independence.

But it should not be at any cost.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

BBC Bias?

Quick one for a Sunday morning.

I've commented in the past that some people get a little bit paranoid about how the BBC reports the news, especially political stories. True, there is some bias and misreporting at times, but generally it is not as bad as some would make out.

However, this morning, the BBC is reporting about a "split" between Nick Clegg and David Cameron over the decision by the latter to veto the proposed treaty.

Where this "news" came from is anyone's guess, but someone is definitely trying to stir things up. One problem for the BBC is that most people are probably in favour of Cameron's stance, and then Clegg is now going to be asked about this "split".

Labour does influence the BBC, and usually it is fairly subtle. But this is a blatant attempt to force a split in the coalition.

I support Cameron's decision. The EU desperately needs funding. China isn't going to provide it, so lo and behold, the EU would like to tax the backside out of the financial sector in the UK in order to support a failed currency and economic policy.

The Lib Dems have no mandate to be in power at Westminster. However, we live in a democracy and have to accept this. What we cannot accept is a deliberate attempt to destabilise the government by a publicly funded media organisation.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Problem of Bail

Following the sentencing of Daryn Maxwell and Barry Smith, the two responsible for the murder of Reammon Gormley, I am concerned with the fact that both of these habitual criminals were granted bail.

First of all, read the sentencing report, linked here:

Sentencing Report

I am not going to question the reasons for bail previously being granted. That is strictly for the courts to decide. What I am going to question is why the law allows bail for habitual criminals to be granted, especially those with a disposition to violence.

Kenny MacAskil has offered to meet with the Gormley family, if reports in the media are correct. But we should not be in this situation.

Maxwell and Smith  - in the words of the Gormley family - have contributed nothing to society except violence. It is unlikely they will change. Maxwell of course may never be released, but Smith will have the luxury of a future after prison. Perhaps he will change his ways and get married, something his victim has been denied.

The law is there to protect society. It is also there to protect the innocent, and that includes those who have been charged but yet to face trial. They too are presumed innocent. But when you have habitual criminals charged with a most serious offence, and one which is of similar nature to their previous convictions - in this case violence - then I cannot see how their release on bail could be justified.

Read the sentencing report again, with particular attention to paragraph two of the statement.

As I previously stated, I am not going to question the legal decision to release these two criminals on bail. But there surely must be some commonsense applied with such cases.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Europe (again)

Nope, not an attack on the SNP's policy but rather David Cameron.

The Tory party is once again split over Europe, and I don't blame them. Germany and France are doing a "deal" which will only benefit themselves. David is telling us all that no more powers will be conceded to Brussels, but does anyone really believe him?

It appears that the EU is demanding something from the UK in return for not being sidelined. The Eurosceptics smell a rat however, and so do I.

David Cameron has rejected the idea of a referendum because: " the government could not "reasonably" have a referendum if the new arrangements were confined to the 17 eurozone countries only."

On other words, it appears he is going to sign up a deal but the voters can get lost.

The UK's membership of Europe should be strictly limited to trade and nothing else. But  politicians think they know better, and us scumbags do not have the intelligence to make such weighty decisions.

My view is that Cameron is trying to sneak a deal with Europe in order to save his own economic policies which are failing. I cannot see any other reason as to why he is acting in the way he is and being so defensive.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Glasgow Music Update

I've briefly mentioned in the past about the up and coming talent of some local bands. I will be highlighting them more often. Some are doing very well, including securing a gig at the Tall Ships this year with an invite to the same event in Portugal next year.

The link below is froma YouTube channel which is dedicated to bands from East Kilbride. This should be a regular feature for those who are interested. Hopefully I will get some more links from similar sources.

Scotland has always had a diversity of music, ranging from traditional to heavy metal. Some have had more success than others, but the vast majority had to learn their trade the hard way through local gigs.

Anyway, here's the link. The music may be more appealing to teenage kids, but at least one band has the support of a certain local MSP who has a genuine interest in them.


(Link opens up in a new window)

Sunday, 4 December 2011

And They're Off!

Well, the Referndum campaign is officially taking off. Here's the link to the first promotional material:

Scotland Forward

Professional piece of material and lots of good, solid information in it. Plenty of scope for debate and a couple of areas that may cause a few problems.

But one thing stands out against all others:


In my opinion, the SNP have put their foot well and truly in it. They have made it clear they want to be at the heart of Europe. They have said that Scotland will be at the "top table". What has been promised and more importantly, what's the price of this elevation? Adopt the Euro?

At a stroke, the SNP have probably scuppered the chance for independence by aligning with Europe. They want to be joined at the hip. That is going to cause friction within the party, since many SNP members and supporters have openly voiced either concerns or even outright objections to close ties with Europe. The European Union is riddled with corruption and waste.

And the Scottish voters will not be given the opportunity to decide on membership of the EU. The SNP have clearly stated that Scotland will be a member state.

I don't understand what the SNP leadership are thinking here. Europe is a political basket case controlled by France and Germany. No democracy, as we all saw when Greece was told to behave when they tried to get their own people to decide on their future in Europe.

Perhaps they are hoping that Europe will be kept quietly in the back, while they focus on safer policies such as the economy, health and education.

Europe is the single most devisive subject in politics today. The SNP have effectively split their own support by planting themselves firmly into Europe.

The Unionist parties must be popping the champagne corks.

Political Fundamentalists

Rather complicated words for a Saturday night. And I must add a completely sober one as well, since I've been playing taxi driver to the family and await the arrival of She Who Must Be Obeyed at some point in the next four hours. Thankfully, everyone else is in bed.

My definition of a political fundamentalist is not a politician, but a political supporter who cannot accept any criticism of a politicial party, policy or personality. It can also be defined as someone who cannot accept that there may be faults with the aforementioned party, policy or personality.

Political fundamentalists represent all areas of the political spectrum. All make their presence felt in one way or another. Some are quite charismatic, others make you glad you have insured the television against a size eight boot. They are an essential part of the political game, if only to provide an amusing distraction.

As you may have already guessed, I'm going to concentrate on what the media call "cybernats". I use a better term:

The Fundamentalist Wing of the Alex Salmond Appreciation Society.

Not very nice you may think, but I refer to the Labour supporters as the Unionist Underground, based on Iain Gray's exit to Subway and the deafening silence which is heard on a regular basis when Labourites make a cockup - normally a daily event.

As for the Lib Dems and Tories, I'll come up with something that is printable later........

But back to the The Fundamentalist Wing of the Alex Salmond Appreciation Society. This is not, by the way, an attack on the SNP nor is it an attack on the numerous nationalist blogs out there, but a criticism of some of the commentators and what they write. I'm a cynical bastard, and some of my postings have been total crap, but I don't resort to a 1984-esque "Daily Hate". (mmm Europe excepted perhaps!).

The fundamentalists are no different to the supporters of Labour or the Tories. The SNP can do no wrong whatsoever, and any issues that arise are someone else's fault: the "A Big Boy Did it and Ran Away" syndrome. (Have a read through some BBC blogs and you will see that some comments by Unionist supporters are no better).

While there may be some truth behind the comments, things are blown way out of proportion and the facts are distorted by the ranting against the BBC, Westminster and occasionally the USA.

The slightest criticism of the SNP is met with outright hostility - there is no better descriptive.

The worst example was recent, where the commentator stated "anyone who is against the SNP will be remembered after independence.......".  One hopes that this individual has no official function within the SNP, nor has any government role after independence.

There is a small core who are so against the BBC it is slightly worrying. So hated is the BBC, that on one well known website, no matter what the subject of the latest article, the comments invariably turn to attack the BBC. On goes the latest article, perhaps on a science subject, and after a few relevant comments, up pops the "Sorry to be OT but........", and cue a rant about some obscure BBC news item. Why the contributors waste their time on what are some excellent pieces of work is beyond me.

The danger with such people - not only SNP supporters but other parties as well - is that they do not normally represent their parties in an official capacity. However, as has been seen in the past, sometimes they attract attention and drag their party into unexpected problems. These are the people who if canvassing on the doorstep, are more likely to lose support than gain it.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Thursday Night Snippets (ok ramblings)

Bit of a mixed bag since I've had the cold all week, been stuck in Excel-land and have a job interview tomorrow for an internal post.

Rangers have admitted that Craig Whyte was previously disqualified as a director. That must have upset the Anti-BBC Brigade (Scotland Branch) who after much wailing and gnashing of teeth about the BBC investigation into Rangers, have gone decidedly quiet. But Jeremy Clarkson rides to the rescue as he opens his mouth once more with some rather ill-thought phrases. Even by his standards they were total bollocks.

The pandas are on their way, and no doubt the black eye jokes will spring up. After May next year they may have some company as councillors across Scotland receive the political equivalent of a smack to the face. The Chinese are lending the pandas to Scotland, but it seems that there is a fee attached. In excess of one million pounds per annum if rumours are to be believed. That might take some explaining, but apparently the pandas will be suitably attired in traditional highland dress to attract the tourists.

The Big Strike went ahead. David Cameron said it was a "damp squib". Let's be fair, it was pissing it down on Wednesday. The Lib Dems Graduate Trainee Tea Fund Assistant, Danny Alexander, threatened all sorts of unseemly action, but no paid attention as he had to be in bed by 9pm.

Meryl Streep has received positive reviews for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. Some unkind soul referred to it as A Nightmare on Downing Street 2. The Fundmantalist Wing of the Alex Salmond Appreciation Society has declared any one watching it to be a heretic as Thatcher was Scotland's most bitterest enemy (Edward Longshanks and the BBC notwithstanding).

Enough Nurofen induced ramblings.......time to watch a dvd........

Monday, 28 November 2011

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2011

Yes, it's that time of year again when viewers will vote for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2011 (thank goodness for copy/paste!).

The nominations are in and likely to cause a bit of a stir.

First of all - no women. That will upset the feminists and those who like to admire female beauty. But never mind, beach volleyball will be at the Olympics next year so that will keep everyone happy, especially me if the wife lets me watch.

The full shortlist of ten is:

Mark Cavendish (cycling)
Darren Clarke (golf)
Alastair Cook (cricket)
Luke Donald (golf)
Mo Farah (athletics)
Dai Greene (athletics)
Amir Khan (boxing)
Rory McIlroy (golf)
Andy Murray (tennis)
Andrew Strauss (cricket)

An interesting list and all are dedicated and highly motivated sportsmen.

My betting is on either Darren Clarke or Rory McIlroy, with Andy Murray possibly up there as well.

It would be particulalry fitting for Darren Clarke to win, having been runner up in 2006, not long after the death of his wife. He stated then he did not want a sympathy vote.

This year he won the Open Championship, a major achievement for any golfer. That is worthy of the award and would certainly be a popular choice.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Public Sector Strike

Since it is a rather wet and windy morning, preventing me going into the garden (so upsetting) I thought I'd put in my tuppence worth about the forthcoming strike on Wednesday.

I'm not a member of any union. Never have been and never will be. While they have their place, some of their leaders are overly militant and will call a strike if someone breaks wind in the wrong place. There are times when union leaders seem detached from the real world. Not difficult if you are on a subtantial salary.

Politicians too are detached, and in this current dispute even more so.

There is no need to go into details about the dispute. There are few people who do not realise what is happening. But if you look into some of the unions who are taking part, there is an indication as to how strongly people feel.

The Immigration Services Union has never taken industrial action (according to their representative) in it's 28 year history. What does that tell you? This is not on the face of it The Brothers of Arthur Scargill Reborn. Far from it. But they see themselves hard done by while the politicians who are pushing through these changes enjoy pension schemes unheard of elsewhere.

What is becoming apparent is that the unions do not seem to have firm support from any of the major political parties. Ed Milliband is dithering, the Tories and Lib Dems are playing hardball, although to be fair they are the Westminster government. Even the SNP will not make any firm offers of support.

So politicians remain detached from the public, let alone the unions.

A friend of my wife said this morning all she wants is enough money to live comfortably, without worrying if she has enough to heat her house, feed her family and travel to work.

I think you will find most people feel the same.

Whether or not people agree with the strike is irrelevant. What is clear is that many people feel that politicians are not listening.

Friday, 25 November 2011

CBI Questions on Independence

CBI Scotland's Director, Iain McMillan has aimed some questions at the SNP, with the predictable response from nationalists that he is "talking Scotland down". He does have a record of attacking the SNP, but this time he might score some points.

The questions mainly focus on currency, and that is a deliberate ploy, since the Euro is not in the best of health, nor does it seem very popular. Facts aside, the general voting public see lots of countries who use the Euro all falling over. Because the SNP are sticking to the "wait until after independence, then we'll have an referendum on the Euro" argument, they are allowing their opponents to take the initiative.

I keep returning to the subject of Europe, because it is a weak spot for the SNP, and they are not dealing with it. The currency approach by the CBI is a tactical move and it will have an effect, and it is no coincidence that it comes just after Swinney's spat with Osbourne.

The SNP need to respond to such questions in a manner that can be understood by the average voter. They need to get away from "White Papers" and "talking Scotland down". Weak responses that only seem to find favour in the most committed of nationalists.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Journalistic Standards

The Levenson Enquiry is certainly an eye-opener for those who have never really bothered about how some journalists obtain their stories.

The press has always behaved rather strangely; go back to Victorian times and they were just as bad, although the methods were different.

One thing to remember is that newspapers and television news channels are run as meritocracies - in short, if you get the exclusives you get the fame, fortune and promotion. Many organisations do not care how you get your information, as long as it doesn't come back to bite the organisation on the backside. Sales without ethics.

Journalists and especially photo-journalists can make a year's salary from a single story or photograph. The rewards are huge and the risk are relatively low, so it is no wonder that some will rake through bins, camp outside a house in all weathers for days on end and resort to illegal methods.

So how can this be countered? I don't want to see tightened legislation and rigid privacy laws, but there has to be some form of legislation to balance the rights of individuals against what is considered to be in the public interest.

Yes, the public appetite for scandal is out there, and to be truthful always has. Major events attract an audience. But the lines have been crossed too many times, and the Milly Dowler phone hacking incident is simply unforgiveable. But it is not one organisation - it's many of them. Even as the enquiry is proceeding, some sections of the media are attacking those who have dared to appear as witnesses.

The culture in the media allowed this behaviour to happen when it should not have even been considered. I've always said that responsibility comes from the top. It's about time the media accepted this and behaved in a more responsible manner.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Danger of Protesting

The right to protest is one of the advantages of democracy, and one that can and is abused at times.

Protests are a regular news item these days, and the latest is the Occupy protests around the world. Some people may say the protesters take things a bit too far, and so it seems do the authorities, taking into account the pepper spray incident in the USA.

Political activists will at times try to encourage civil disobedience to further their cause, especially when it appears that the establishment are paying no attention to their demands. At the extreme level, it can topple a government or split a nation.

But therein lies the danger. It is one thing to carry out a coup, but then you have to pick up the pieces. Added to that are the expectations of those who supported the action. They want results, and fast. Failure to recover the situation can simply reignite the protests, as we have seen in Egypt, or even kill off further actions as people lose interest.

Any protest absolutely must have rock solid organisation and planning behind it, with contingency plans well rehearsed and effective. Control is essential. For a political protest, that requires some heavyweight leaders with the influence to direct and control the protest.

Why this article? Recently, some commentators elsewhere have been pushing for a campaign of such action against an organisation, without really considering three things:

1. Can they gather sufficient support.
2. Have the consequences of any such action been considered.
3. Secrecy.

Let's say that none of the above points have been thought through; rather a few individuals with very strong views are wanting action against this organisation. Now while the reason for this protest action could be considered valid, the proposed method of delivery is wrong, and bordering on illegality.

The volume of support is simply not there, and that leaves these protestors isolated. That makes them vulnerable should the appropriate authorities ever decide to take positive action against them.

Secondly, the results of their action would almost certainly be counter-productive to their root cause, and be of considerable embarrassment to those whom they support.

Thirdly, the protest is likely to stall before it even starts, since they are openly discussing their plans on public forums.

It may be that some of those involved are reading this, and they will realise what I am talking about. Probably unlikely but in case they are, here's a small piece of advice: try getting a professional to plan and organise a protest instead of allowing your emotions to control your actions.

Protesting can produce some surprising results. But it can also play right into the hands of those whom you oppose if you get it wrong.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Referendum Options

Every since the SNP's victory in May, the media and Internet blogs have been rife with opinions as to how many options will be in the Referendum. Even the Big Man himself has not been clear on this.

We've had "expert" opinion. "Reliably informed" opinion. "A guy down the pub" opinion. There have been numerous comments from all sides with the Blood Pressure Level ranging from comatose to "We're on our way, Houston!"

The unionists are convinced there should be only two options. Or was that three? Perhaps four?

The nationalists think there should be one question with an option of Yes or Yes. Or is that two options? No sorry, it's three options but the unionists have to come up with a bloody good reason for three, unless of course Alex decides three is a good number in which case it will be a sound tactical move.

The truth is simpler.

Alex Salmond will decide on how many options are on the Referendum paper at the last possible moment. Why? Because he and his team will be paying very close attention to the polls, and one hopes listening to the people as they carry out the Doorstep Challenge.

People can rant and rave all they like, and the media can speculate until my lottery numbers come up, but Alex Salmond will choose the option that gives the SNP the best chance. And if that means allowing an option for DevoMax (or whatever they want to call it) then so be it.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Europe - In, Out or Somewhere in the Middle

What is Scotland's future in Europe?

At present, we come under the UK. And despite all the issues, let's be honest and be thankful Westminster did not have us joining the Euro, something that appears will now never happen. David Cameron is even talking about taking powers back from Europe. Whether he will actually do this is debatable (look what happened when Greece had the temerity to be non-conformist) but he is playing to the political galleries - anything to take the heat off his Home Secretary.

Europe is a political bag of nails from a lay point of view. The vast majority of voters do not have the time or inclination to look deeply into the issues. But if they did, things would look even less palatable.

 Ignoring the legal arguments, let's assume an independent Scotland would get automatic membership to the EU.

Alex Salmond has stated we will not be allowed to decide for ourselves - via a referendum - until AFTER independence. It is ironic that a party which has demanded, and is now going to hold, a referendum to leave one union, is not allowing the people of Scotland the opportunity to decide if they want to be part of a larger - and more corrupt union.

Norway is held up as a model for an independent Scotland, and it too has vast energy reserves. Yet the people chose not to be part of the EU and the politicians respected that decision. They were given the choice at the time.

We are not.

Alex Salmond is refusing to discuss about what legal advice - if any - was given to the SNP about Scotland's place in Europe.

He has put up  a political brick wall and I think this is a serious misjudgement.

Could any of the following be a possibility?

1. No legal advice was asked for or given. If that is the case, why won't he simply tell us?
2. Scotland would need to wait a period of time prior to joining.
3. Scotland can join immediately, but membership of the Euro is optional.
4. Scotland can join immediately, but membership of the Euro is compulsory.

Being the cynical type, I think Number 4 is the advice that Alex Salmond has received. Why? Because the other three options do not damage SNP politically. Compulsory membership of the Euro would kill the independence campaign stone dead in its tracks.

Now I could be wrong, and Salmond is simply ingoring Unionist party demands. But is he thinking about the impression being made on voters? Some will ask why he is refusing to discuss the question.  Normally, Alex hammers any attempt by his opponents to criticise him, but this time they are going to score points.

In my opinion, there is only one safe course of action for the SNP:

They must state categorically that membership of the EU and adoption of the Euro will only take place after a referendum, and that this will be legally binding. No ifs, buts or maybe's. It kills off the arguments on Europe and allows the focus to be on the main referendum itself.

The current argument that we will have membership of the EU once independent, and that a referendum will take place after is open to question. Look what happened to the Greek Prime Minister. France and Germany said "Non" and "Nein" and forced him to retract.

The SNP is in danger of defeating their own purpose of achieving self-determination and independence. The way things are standing at present, Scotland would finally break away from Westminster, only to be swallowed up in the political slurry of Europe.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

A Fair Trial?

There is an ongoing issue at the Home Office, in case you didn't notice, regarding the relaxation of immigration checks. The key point is whether the now ex-Borders Chief, Brodie Clark, exceeded his instructions given by the Home Secretary.

Giving evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Committee, he has said his reputation built up over forty years has been destroyed.

Labour have gone straight for the jugular here and are basically wanting the Home Secretary's head on a platter. She is already damaged over her ludicrous comment about asylum seekers who own pet cats, but to be fair all the evidence must be heard. It may turn out that she has acted correctly, and that Brodie Clark has overstepped the mark. On the other hand, it can be rightly said that she has overall responsibility and should be punished accordingly - ie resign.

The Home Secretary's position is perilous. Even if she has been found to be acting correctly, Brodie Clark has said he will claim constructive dismissal, and judging by some articles he will almost certainly win. If he does, that will cost the government a considerable amount. It has similarities when Ed Balls opened his mouth over the Baby P case not so long ago.

A fair trial applies to everyone. But it appears that the main players are into "Cover Arse" mode, and are feeding both the Opposition and media frenzy.

To be honest, the issue of Brodie Clark's actions - if true - are relatively minor in comparison to the policy of relaxed immigration checks, most especially with the Olympics next year. The Government constantly urges us to be vigilant, yet it seems they have left the door wide open.

Personally, I think the Home Secretary will be forced to resign, regardless of the investigation. Too many questions have now been raised. If she does go, we will have the unbelieveable situation of both the Home Secretary and Defence Secretary resigning in a very short space of time. That will then raise questions about David Cameron's judgement.

This issue could have been dealt with correctly using internal procedures, with the result then being made public. Quick, efficient and with the minimum of fuss. That would have been fair both to those involved and their department.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Convincing Argument - Third Time Lucky?

Support for the Union, as things stand, significantly outweighs that for full independence, but support for increased powers in turn outweighs the status quo.

The unionist parties in Scotland - or as I like to describe them, the Unionist Underground (thanks to a certain Mr Gray and a takeaway for the idea) - seem hell bent on toppling Alex Salmond. To date, the most they've managed is a small flesh wound when Alex tried to cover up information using the courts (and he's playing with fire over Europe in a similar fashion).

They thinking that by removing Salmond, the SNP's dream of independence will be over. That may be a false assumption. It would take a major scandal to topple him, and he's been around long enough that any skeletons in the closet would have appeared by now. But Sturgeon and Russell could carry the party provided Alex Neil keeps his mouth shut.

In addition to this, the Unionist Underground have opposed nearly every SNP policy and bill just through sheer bloody-mindness. And people have seen this. Where is the effective opposition? You don't necessarily need a leader with great oratory skills and confidence - there are those who thing Big Eck is a bit too smug - but you most certainly need a coherent and disciplined opposition.

Their cause is not helped by the current Westminster government, made up of one and a bit parties, neither of whom achieved anything much in Scotland. Then you have a Labour leader who appears like a Tory who got off at the wrong political bus stop, and has little in common with Labour voters let alone Scotland.

So, like the Nationalists, the Unionists are unable to provide a convincing argument for their political aims and beliefs.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Convincing Argument Mark II

This time it is the turn of the Lib Dems.

A bit easier to deal with, since the only argument they need to worry about in convincing people to vote for them.

Following a high point under Charles Kennedy, they have descenced into the pits of despair. Losing deposits in elections now seems the norm for them, and there appears to be no way out of their current situation. From what seemed a powerful position holding the balance of power, it is now clear that this is a poisoned chalice.

Next year's council elections may not be that bad for them, since personalities, rather than party politics, can have a major influence in the results. But come the next Scottish and Westminster elections, they may be headed for politicial oblivion.

But they could have a recovery plan, at least in Scotland. I'm tempted to put money on the Lib Dems siding with the SNP when it comes to the Referendum. But not led by Nick Clegg, but rather a true breakaway party. Murdo Fraser of the Conservatives has already tried without success, but the Lib Dems are a funny bunch. Whoever takes the plunge might be able to take the party rank and file with him. That would certainly kill Nick Clegg's leadership stone dead, and create a huge political storm. It could even destabilise the Westminster coalition.

But........ would the voters be convinced enough to trust the Lib Dems once more?

A Convincing Argument

There has been much talk about the Referendum ever since the SNP gubbed their opponents in May. So much in fact, that I am not going to attempt to summarise the arguments.

Bottom line as we stand: the SNP are in Government, the opposition are a mess and the Referendum is going to happen, like it or not.

As to the exact nature of the questions of the Referendum, I think we'll leave that aside, since every possible permutation has been discussed on the various political blogs, in Parliament and probably in some dingy wee pub in Glasgow.

It doesn't matter how much money will be spent on the campaigning. Not does it matter what the media comes out with. And what is debated in Holyrood and Westminster matters even less.

What matters is the opinion of individual voters, and what independence will do to them.

To date, the defence of the status quo has been incoherent, disorganised and a mixture of fact, semi-fact and pure fantasy. Yet support for full independence - according to the polls - still remains well below what is required. Yes, polls can be wildly inaccurate, but I'd argue they are generally correct.


Where are the mass protests on the streets? Where are the petitions to government with a million plus signatures?

The SNP are likely to be concerned, and this is highlighted by Alex Salmond's response to the most recent poll where he stated that over two thirds of Scots were in favour of more financial powers - that can also be interpreted as two thirds of Scots are not interested in full independence.

The SNP are most fortunate as they are about to receive a huge donation to the cause. But will it be enough?

Here's the three areas the SNP must keep clear of:

300/700 years of oppression
Probably the worst argument for the doorstep. Only relevant to the Fundamentalist Wing of the Alex Salmond Appreciation Society

Erm, from what?

Arc of Prosperity

Now we've got those little gems out of the way, let's look at more relevant issues.

A few thousand public sector/quango jobs are most certainly dependent on Westminster. I'm not detailing them since they will detract from my main point. Will the promise of no compulsory redundancies be kept? The economy is not suddenly going to produce replacement jobs, so will these people vote for redundancy? And given the circumstances, Holyrood may be powerless to prevent the job losses, with Westminster paying the legal minimum. How many votes will that lose? The private sector too is teetering in many cases. We can't all work for Tesco.

A bit topical at the moment, but the fine details will have to come out. If welfare is cut, more votes in the bin. There is also the subject of public sector and military pensions that are due. Who is liable?

In my opinion, the one subject that will - for the moment - defeat the SNP. At present, Alex Salmond wants Scotland to be part of the EU, and to eventually join the Euro. In other words, he wants Scotland to leave one union in order to join an even more corrupt one. Scotland will be no big player in the EU, regardless what people think. France and Germany control the EU in a blatant undemocratic fashion. Why on earth would any sane person wish to join them? If things in Europe get worse - highly likely at present - it will make the subject even more controversial.

Many commentators quite rightly moan about the unionists having problems producing a convincing argument to retain the status quo. And to be honest, they are not wrong either. But the SNP is also failing to produce a convincing argument for full independence. What will convince most people is that their jobs and money are safe. Anything else is a distraction.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Remembrance Day

Tomorrow marks Remembrance Day, where those who have died in the line of duty - not just in conflict - are remembered.

The Poppy Appeal collects millions of pounds on behalf of the Earl Haig Fund. The donations are used to help ex-service personnel. It is not, as some would have it, used as some sort of front for political or religious beliefs.

It is a unique date in history: 11am on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year. Such a date will not occur for 100 years, and who knows what state the world will be in then.

Even if you do not donate to the charity, and whatever your political and religious beliefs, at least spare a thought for those who did not get the opportunity to have the choices you enjoy.

Ministerial Responsibility

The big guns are going at each other in Westminster over the issue of relaxed immigration.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, is in denial over the relaxation of immigration rules. "A big boy did it and ran away" is her defence. In this case, the big boy in question is Brodie Clark, the former Borders Chief, and he has certainly not run away, having stated he intends to lodge a constructive dismissal case, something he is likely to win.

The question that must be asked is how responsible is a cabinet minister for the actions within their department. If Brodie Clark was acting outwith procedures, then it could be reasonable argued that she cannot be expected to know every detail of what is happening, especially if it is not reported to her. Ministers receive high level reports, and only get a drilldown of the facts when an investigation is warranted. This applies to all departments.

However, it could also be argued that with such a serious issue as immigration controls being relaxed, and potentially allowing all manner of undesireables into the country, then her ignorance is no defence.

The Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper seems to be using this line of attack, and it is getting results. The Prime Minister is once again being forced to defend a minister, and stating that they have "his complete confidence" (ie she'll be gone soon!).

It is an interesting situation, and we saw a similar episode with Stewart Stevenson last December in Scotland.

What it boils down to is confidence. If Parliament - not the Government of the day - does not have confidence in a minister's abilities to do the job, then that minister must resign. To hang onto office merely amplifies the problems and is a distraction to finding a solution to the problem.

Prime Ministers and First Ministers do not like forcing ministers to resign, usually because they are political allies within their own parties. But loyalty has a limit - the country comes first.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Scotland's Place in Europe

Where will an independent Scotland sit in Europe?

Do people want monetary union? Political Union? Political Union but not the Euro? Be like Norway?

Several options but no clear message from the SNP. Talk about "letting the people decide" is not clear, and no matter how trustworthy they SNP may be, it still does not commit them. For all we know the makeup of the SNP may change by the time such a question arises. And looking at what happened to Greece, will the Scottish people be allowed to decide for themselves?

What is clear at the moment, even to the politically apathetic, is that the Big European Project is in serious difficulty. And what is also clear is that democracy is out of the window - how else do you explain the Greek PM's about face? France and Germany are pulling the strings of Europe.

At the moment, it appears that should Scotland become independent, the SNP want to remain as part of Europe. However, it is uncertain precisely what that would mean. The Internet blogs are full of debate but I doubt if anyone really knows what will happen, not even the SNP.

This is creating a lot of uncertainty, and already the opponents of independence are working on this.

Europe, as it stands, is a bigger problem for a union than Westminster ever has or ever could be. Even the most faithful of the SNP supporters are realising that selling independence within Europe is probably the worst possible idea. There are some who justify their support by stating they want independence first then sort out Europe later - that comes across as an argument for leaving the UK at any cost.

My own view is that unless Salmond cleary states that Scotland will not join the Euro, and will not aim for closer political ties, then the Referendum will be lost. And without an option for "Devo Max", then a failure of the Referendum will kill off independence for many years, if not a generation.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Leadership Woes

Ruth Davidson has been appointed leader of the Scottish Conservatives, not that it will really make any difference to the party's fortunes in Scotland in the short term.

I cannot see the Scottish electorate warming to Ruth Davidson. She comes across as a Cameron clone, and her background makes easy pickings in a debate, given her total lack of political experience. I think she got more votes because the party members got a bit huffy about that upstart Fraser.

No matter how articulate she is in a debate, you can bet Salmond will be slapping her down at the first opportunity. If she can hold her ground against him, then she might shut up the doubters in her own ranks. Failure to be effective will result in a coup. The Tories are rather vicious when it comes to toppling leaders.

And Murdo will be first in line when that happens.......

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Dirty Politics

You couldn't make it up. But someone in the Lib Dems had a go anyway, with an effort a ten year old could have bettered.

Big Eck was shown with his arm around a camel (we assume one of the fairer sex), standing on the beach with Edinburgh Castle in the background. Three big phrases completed the picture, with allegations that Alex has a bad cold and suffering from cattarh.

Alas, it was a case of the Lib Dems leader, Willie Rennie, smearing Alex Salmond's visit to Qatar, and it has backfired in spectacular fashion. His excuse is that "a big boy did it and ran away". Maybe his Facebook account was hacked.

Meanwhile, the spat between the SNP and Mr Davidson (of the "gonnae gie you a doin'" fame), has the SNP shooting itself in the foot. Joan McAlpine's researcher apparently sent an email round which makes out that Davidson is of the "bunga bunga" party type. Turns out this was complete bollocks. The excuse from the researcher is that she's just a wee lassie.

What is it with political party activists who seem hell-bent on blowing their political careers - and their parties - out of the water?

The Lib Dems do not surprise anyway these days. If they didn't do something strange the men in white coats would be summoned. But the SNP researcher has been really stupid, making allegations that are serious. With her actions, she has completely reversed the attention on Davidson and make a mockery of Eilidh Whiteford's original complaint. What the SNP will do with her is their business, but I'd suggest that Joan McAlpine finds another researcher, ideally one that will not embarass her or the party.

While we expect politics to be interesting and full of heated debate, one or two individuals are getting close, if not stepping over, a big red line. It needs to stop now.

But don't hold your breath.......

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Mistakes, I've Made A Few.....

I'm sure that most, if not all politicians could relate to Ol' Blue Eyes lyrics.

Two cock ups this week which prove an earlier point I made about an apparent lack of middle ground in Scottish politics, at least in public.

First of all, we had Ian Davidson (who he?) making a remark about giving someone a "doing" if discussions were leaked. Cue an almighty strop from the SNP and some feminist group that appeared from nowhere (Charlie's McAngels?) demanding that the offender be cast into the Seventh Level of Hell. The Fundamentalist Wing of the Alex Salmond Appreciation Society went further, demanding that Labour be disbanded and the BBC Licence Fee be withheld until they reported the Truth. The feminist group feel that women are under-represented in Westminster. They obviously haven't paid much attention to David Cameron's front bench.

Davidson apologised, but the SNP are sitting in the corner and sulking as we speak.

Then the First Minister himself cocked up, by wrongly saying that an academic, Dr Matt Qvortrup (however you pronounce that surname) apparently said that his research showed that the SNP were the Saviours of Scotland and everything they did was the best. Turns out that was total bollocks and what Alex quoted was made up on a post-it note stuck onto Alex's laptop.

His opponents were creaming themselves with such a self-inflicted error made over the SNP's pride and joy - the Referendum itself. The Unionist Underground (hint, think of Subway) made a rare foray over the parapet at Holyrood and for once pointed the political guns in the right direction.

The First Minister apologised but the Unionist Underground continues to snipe at a target that has long gone.

Both politicians made an error. Both apologised over what now appears to be relatively minor errors (if Davidson's was as bad as some commentators are making out, why was the incident not reported to the police?). But the supporters/opponents continue to stoke the fires of unreasonable debate. If this is what things are like at present, can you imagine how bad things will really get as we approach the Referendum?

Most people don't really care about either of these events. There was a brief discussion and attention has shifted elsewhere.

But never mind, there will be another one along in a minute.......

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Monday Wafflings

Well, Big Dave won tonight, swatting away the bad boys attempt to tell him what to do. Now we can't be having that now, can we? Not in our "Big Society" where the People Have Power. Dave doesn't want a referendum on Europe right now, as that will cause "uncertainty". Ahem, this is the same person who wants the Scottish Government to hold their referendum now as any delay will cause "uncertainty".

Meanwhile, Edinburgh City Council has demanded that housing repair bills must be paid, despite over five hundred cases in dispute. For those who don't know, Edinburgh is the only city in the UK where the council can organise repair work on private properties when the owners of shared buildings cannot reach agreement. The value of these bills has more than trebled in five years. Must be using the same contractors who are doing the trams.

The Chandlers, the couple who were kidnapped from their yacht by the Pirates of the Caribbean Somalia, have criticised the rescue effort. As a result, they have been given back with instructions to the pirates that they walk the plank. In a similar case, Tiddles, a persian cat, has complained of unacceptable delays in the Fire Service rescuing her from the top of a fifty foot elm tree.

Finally, doctors have recommended that people should avoid drinking for at least three days per week. That should be easy enough to achieve, just get bladdered the night before and you will sleep through the day anyway.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Scottish Music and Film

There is a lot of talent out there. We should be doing all we can to support this, as it benefits everyone in the long run. Too many commentators deride music and film at local level, but the people involved put in a ton of effort to be successful. Nor does it matter if it is in English, Gaelic, Scots or whatever.

I'm going to be promoting what I can. I think it's important but its also entertaining.

The link below is for a band called South of Summer. They are a regular on the gig circuit in the Glasgow area. The video was made by an individual who does this as a hobby.

Who needs tv talent shows?

The Independence Fight

OK, it's officially on. The fight for independence has begun.

Angus Robertson has promised that the party faithful will be pounding the streets and knocking on doors.

Well that will be novel here in East Kilbride. In my fifteen years since I returned from the Dark Side England I have had the pleasure (misfortune shurely?) of having a single Labour councillor knock on my door prior to the 2007 election.

Plenty of leaflets but not a single  person in the past five years of any party has bothered their backsides to get out and win votes. A few appearances at railway stations and town centres, but bothing around the houses.

It's quite simple really, and a bit like sales. Activity wins customers. The more activity, the higher chance of success. Yes, many people do not like the Doorstep Challenge, but the very fact that someone actually bothers might be enough to grab a vote.

Every vote won from the other parties mean they must get two to turn that around. Even if you cannot persuade someone to vote for independence they might go for Devo Max (or whatever the hell they are calling it this week).

So a piece of advice to the workers (if anyone is actually bothering to read this!).

Get knocking.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Alex Salmond's Conference Speech

Well, the Big Man has spoken, and it was an excellent speech (Newsnet Scotland has the full transcript, and it is well worth a read). The Alex Salmond Appreciation Society members were having multiple orgasms, whereas at the other party conferences people were checking for pulses.

The difference between the parties could not be clearer. The voters in England must be wondering if they can apply for Scottish membership, since the Scottish Government seems to be the only one that actually wants its people to live.

NHS Scotland - free prescriptions, public ownership, reduced waiting times, Health Service Chief Execs getting bottoms kicked.

NHS Everywhere Else - PFI, PFI, PFI, PFI............ oh yeah and some treatments available, and would you mind paying for this broken arm to be fixed? Come on, we need to pay the rent.......

Council Tax Scotland - frozen

Council Tax Everywhere Else - loans now available to pay for them

Water Rates Scotland - appropriate levels and publicly owned

Water Rates Everywhere Else - eye-watering rates (no pun intended) and profits to mainly overseas companies (Sahara Water Ltd, Gobi Desert Inc.......)

There is plenty more in the same vein.

The Scottish Government is not perfect, nor is the SNP. No party or government ever is nor ever will be.

But take a long and hard look at Westminster, and compare it to Holyrood, and you will see a marked difference.

The Tories have no mandate in Scotland. The Lib Dems are in dangerous decline. Labour is in disarray. The SNP is the only party that has the trust of the electorate. That is a major achievement in a short space of time.

The world is changing. Politicians can no longer control as they please. The other parties must change - the SNP has recognised this and one hopes they will not succumb to the corrupting influence of power.

Scotland is leading the way in climate change action - perhaps they are also showing what can be done on the political front as well.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

A Week in Politics

They say a week in politics is a long time, and they're right.

In the space of a week, the Westminster government has gone from trouble to elation, and ironically both are with defence and foreign affairs. Liam Fox finally went, and lo and behold, Gaddafi has been killed, thus justifying Cameron's policy towards Libya.

Libya, it seems, is a jinx for the SNP. They release Megrahi, sparking a debate that simply will not end, with Megrahi still living, and ironically the death of Gaddafi takes all the media attention AWAY from the SNP, just at the time when it would be most useful, as their conference starts.

I'm just waiting for the conspiracy theories to start..........

Monday, 17 October 2011

Time for a Clearout

Having just spent the better part of an afternoon trying to clear out a nine year old's room, it suddenly struck me how the same could be said of politics.

In four hours, I found many items, some of which I'd forgotten about, including: numerous wrestling figures (one headless), two hobbits (one minus an arm), a bar of chocolate so out of date it was growling, enough lego to rebuild the Forth Bridge and one of those "intelligent" robotic hamsters that WON'T-SWITCH-OFF!!!!

Just like some of our politicians..........

When a party loses power, the sensible course of action would be to have a major clearout, get some fresh blood in and keep the old warhorses in the background. But what has Labour done? A clearout? Nope. They've basically stuck to the same mob who were in before, even if their new leader has the appearance of a shell-shocked graduate trainee who was expecting to make coffee and break the photocopier. Meanwhile in Scotland, the leadership issue trundles along with as much direction as a submarine in the Firth of Clyde.

So we have our various wrestling figures (mostly headless); you may select your own hobbits; the political strategy is like the chocolate; and as for the decide.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Opposition Politics

If there is one thing that marks the Independence debate, it is the polarisation of the political camps, where the only argument is "Oh Yes We Are, Oh No You're Not".

This is no way for politics to be debated, and most certainly not with such a fundamental issue as independence.

In the "Yes" camp are the nationalists, primarily made up of the SNP, but with a few others as well. Any praise, however slight, for the Union is akin to heresey, and you can expect be to metaphorically burned at the stake, probably near the Wallace Monument at Midnight in Midwinter.

Over at the "No" camp, there is much disarray. But the message seems to be that Alex Salmond is the Spawn of the Devil, who intends to burn an independent Scotland to Hell.

Where is the debate? There is no middle ground. Nothing. Both sides are hellbent on holding their ground and refusing to give an inch. Even the Republican vs Democrat arguments over the budget in the USA found some common ground. Not here.

Judging by polls, there is a fair chunk of people who sit in the "Undecided" category when it comes to independence. These people can go either way, and they most likely have a lot of questions for both sides. Not only that, the voters who have a definite "Yes" or "No" also want answers, as to what happens if things don't go their way.

But the answers are all the same: the "Yes" camp always tell how it will be Utopia come Independence, whereas the "No" camp describe independence as the first step on a slippery slope to Oblivion. Even on the Internet blogs it is much the same, with few sites finding some common ground.

The politicians seem to be fearful of discussion, albeit most of the fear seems to be on the Unionist side. It is a ridiculous state of affairs. The politicians have to lead the debate, not react to polls or scandals or economic problems.

It's about time our politicians remember that they serve the voters, not their political parties. The future of Scotland is at stake.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Another One Bites the Dust...............

Well, Foxy Fox has gone, this week's Least Surprising Event.

His efforts to help his Bestest Friend Ever has failed, and he must now relinquish the reins of office and return to the backbenches. But never fear, Liam. David will find you another job once he thinks everyone has forgotten. In fact, Oliver Letwin has ridden to the rescue by demonstrating the correct use of a refuse receptable in a public place, and he made sure he got plently of publicity. Well done, Oliver. But no, you can't play with Liam's soldiers now he's gone. There are rumours that Oliver has took on an adviser who has suddenly found himself with some spare time on his hands.

In Europe, the G20 (the world's 20 most debt-ridden countries, I think) are meeting with the Eurozone Debt Specialists, to advise them how to lend Greece another few hundred billion Euros. Rather than try to actually get the Greek Government to collect taxes properly, they have given them the economic equivalent of a John Bull Printing Set and told them to make their own.

Perhaps they should seek the advice of a certain A Werritty, who has extensive experience as an adviser to government ministers in feathering their own nests getting paid money to do bugger all.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Terror in Braehead

The world of retail was shocked today as a terrorist attack was narrowly prevented by the actions of a brave security guard.

The guard, now moved to a secret location (insiders say the Atlantic Ocean) received a tip-off that a man armed with a mobile phone and a four year old girl, was about to take an electronic image of the shopping centre, msot likely as a reconnaissance for a major attack.

The target was believed to be an ice-cream parlour, and pictures obtained from the perpetrator shows shocking  images of a young girl eating ice-cream. Social services and the Scottish  Branch of the Jamie Oliver Healthy Eating Special Investigation Brigade were alerted.

Two members, believed to be from the Police, interviewed the perpetrator and have considered charging him with terrorism, illegal photography and giving a child sweets before teatime.

Thankfully, the matter was dealt with speedily and we can all rest peacefully in our beds.

Until the next time............

Keep calm and carry on........

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Is There a Doctor in the House?

The cunning Dr Fox is in a spot of bother. Having retired from the stressful life of presenting the Top 40, he moved into a quieter role as Defence Secretary in David Cameron's Conservative Government, working alongside the whipping boys policital partners, the Lib Dems.

But his Best Friend, Adam Werritty, has been with him all along, looking after his business interests Dr Fox's welfare and advising him on the best opportunities for Adam's business Dr Fox's policies.

Mr Werritty apparently does not hold the required security clearances, but he's promised that he won't tell anyone cross-his-heart-hope-to-die.

Mr Cameron has expressed his "full confidence" in his Defence Secretary, which is political-speak for the phrase "tear a new arsehole".

Joking aside, this is yet another example of what most people would consider ministerial abuse. Cabinet level politicians are not there to help their friends (or themselves), but are supposed to be serving the country. You cannot have a businessman/woman using taxpayer-funded ministerial trips in order to develop their private affairs.

Oh well, I suppose Liam Fox could return to medicine, and Adam can dress up as a nurse and assist him.......

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

We'll Fight on the Beaches.......

Well, David Cameron has given a highly demotivational speech to the faithful.

He urges the country to pay off their credit cards, show some fight in the face of economic turmoil and to invoke the British spirit. The mere mention of the word "British" has the cybernats massing on the border of England. Or these days, trying to breach the firewalls of the propagandist BBC.

Cameron obviously thinks he's Winston Churchill. To the rest of us, he's as substantial as Churchill the dog from those insurance adverts. When you have a few million in the bank, it's easy to invoke the fighting spirit. He's looking at Blair's example, fighting his way around the world and defeating the economic problems, or at least solving his mortgage repayment issues.

Meanwhile, there are serious issues with immigrant cats who have committed crimes (such as bringing in a half-dead bird to play with). Theresa May has informed us that we cannot deport the said feline thanks to little-known clauses in the Human Rights Act. She wants to get rid of the HRA in order to get rid of those troublesome pussycats.

Back in the real world, the Scottish Government has obtained an icebreaker in preparation for winter.

How the hell they will get a 40,000 ton ship down Sauchiehall Street is going to be interesting.......

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Uncovering the Truth

Well, it happened quicker than I thought, but some clever sleuth discovered my secret identity, so it looks like the world will find out that the superhero Barbarian of the North (ie me), will either have to look for another suitable heroic name or simply pretend nothing happened. I'll opt for the latter choice, since that is what most politicians tend to do.

Labour for instance. They have just had their conference, and what a disaster excellent one it was too - if you are a Labour fanatic. Ed and Edd (where is Eddy?) both made mind-numbing highly motivational speeches - for their opponents. Mr Milliband confirmed his demise with a rambling oration which had less substance than the Greek economy.

Meanwhile, Ms Goldie has asked the First Minister for a date. A bit of Holyrood scandal perhaps? The media hacked watched intently, only to find that Alex is still considering the decision, and perhaps is now considering how to explain this one to Mrs Salmond.

Bad news for drinkers as Prohibition Scotland starts, with special offers now banned. How the bootleg vodka drinkers will react is unclear, but then since their thought processes are in a similar state who knows. Comments that the Lib Dems are affected are totally without foundation and it is an allegation made by a Big Boy Who Ran Away (just in case any lawyers are reading).

But the evil progressive health policies of the Scottish Government may take another turn. Denmark is taxing foodstuffs which contain high levels of saturated fat. Rumour control has it that it is being considered here. Implemented in Scotland, the debt crisis will be no more.......

Thursday, 29 September 2011

History and Other Ramblings

Well, the Scottish Government want to ensure that a new subject - Scottish Studies - is now rolled out to the schools. It won't be compulsory, and it will tell the truth. After all, everyone knows that Alex Salmond defeated the English at the Battle of Holyrood, carrying a big pointy stick and shouting "Freeeeeeeedom!!!!!" to fire the blood of the troops.

And of course, they want to put Gaelic signs up everywhere, and apparently want Radio 4 replaced by a Gaelic station. Not that will make any difference, since they will probably get the same number of listeners, albeit those who understand a different language.

History is a very important subject. You have to remember things. Judging by Ed Milliband's spectacular faux pas during a radio interview, he probably achieved a D minus for history, since he failed to to remember one of the Scottish Labour Party leadership candidate's name. Saying that, about 95% of Scotland did worse, since they can't remember ANY of them.

Meanwhile, in sport, Celtic followed the great Scottish tradition of not winning, by conceding a penalty which resulted in a draw with Udinese. But they have a cunning plan: they intend to complain about Aletico Madrid and Udinese fielding ineligible players hoping they too will be booted out. However, complaining that the players are ineligible simply because they scored against Celtic may affect the result of the investigations. Watch this space.

Staying with football, Rangers have plans (again) to move to the English Premier League. Anything to escape the taxman so it seems.

Alex Salmond has backed proposals on universities sharing resources, which is not a bad plan at all. Perhaps they can take turns at looking after the student protesters who like university so much these days, that they take over the buildings for several days.

Monday, 26 September 2011


Patriotism is the catchword at the moment. At least, so it appears judging by the comments by the leadership candidates for the Labour and Conservative Parties in Scotland.

""Scottish and British", cries one.

Another points out that he is a Scottish patriot and enjoy the best of both worlds. Going further, he describes himself as  "Devolutionist". Which sounds like he is a believer in one of the more abstract religions that arises from the consumption of chemical substances not normally available in the high street.

But they are playing catchup, and in my view they are chasing after the wrong bus.

Patriotism is absolutely fine, and especially when we suffer the torture of our national football (and rugby it seems) teams snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Nothing stirs the blood than the Tartan Army singing their heart  out as yet another slaughter commences.

Alex Salmond appears as a Conanesque figure in comparison to the other political figures in Scotland. Although swinging anything bigger than a chopping knife might result in a cricked back. And we most certainly do not want to see him in a loincloth.

Conan was asked what is best in life. If Salmond was asked the same question, I think his answer would be on  the lines of:

"Economic prosperity, a strong education system and a health service to be proud of".

That is where his opponents should be focusing their efforts, not patriotic bullshit, something the SNP realised a long time ago will not win elections on it's own.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Da Budget 2011

Well, the Man with the Money (aka John Swinney) has spoken, and decided how the pocket money from our friends in the South is to be spent.

Nothing really that controversial to report to be honest, but the big retailers that peddle alcohol and tobacco are going to get a bit of spanking. Some commentators have noted that this will be a boost to small retailers as the big boys may increase prices to compensate. All well and good, as you will now be encouraged to buy the aforementioned fags and booze in your local corner shop.

But the levy on the retailers is to pay for "preventative" policies. Either the Scottish Government will be implementing some new form of contraception, or the money is being used to change the locks at Holyrood to keep the unruly opposition MSPs occupied as they try to figure out what happened. A map of their  gluteus maximus and articulatio cubiti will be provided.

Councils will have the same money to waste spend efficiently in their communities. no doubt ensuring that the councillors maintain their cups of coffee and muffins, hopefully at a lower cost than the US Government does.

Road improvements lose about £10 million, but given the current state of the roads no one will really notice. Some potholes are getting so large in Glasgow drivers think a new Clyde Tunnel has been opened.

The Culture budget is dropping, however free access to national collections will be maintained, so that should be of some comfort to Rangers fans if Ibrox gets turned into a museum by HMRC.

Of real concern is the cut in the Employability Skills budget. How will the Scottish Government ensure that the soon-to-be-made-redundant councillors (ahem, Lib Dems) are able to learn some new skills (ie breathing for starters) after the council elections next year?

Overall, the budget has been cut by some £3 billion.

Rumours that the Edinburgh Trams Project is somehow responsible is purely coincidental.......

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Collapse of the LIb Dems

Continuing on the theme of Lib Dem bashing, since it appears to be a popular topic at the moment on various blogs. Of course, they have just held their conference.

A quick look around the Internet shows that there are approximately 160 Lib Dem councillors in Scotland. A few councils have them in the double figures, but most average about 3 or 4.

Recent polls and election results have shown that support for the Lib Dems has collapsed. If this trend continues, which is highly likely, then expect a slaughter come next year when the Scottih council elections are held.

My betting is that they will lose over 100 seats. That is almost two-thirds of what they presently hold.

Now, council elections can be a little different to parliamentary elections, in that local issues tend to be more at the forefront of the electorate's mind. And yes, you will get councillors who are popular in their wards and would get elected regardless what party they serve. But the bottom line is that the Lib Dems have jumped into bed (so to speak) with the Conservative Party. Not only that, but their current leader does not have any common ground with the average Scottish voter (or any average voter come to think of it). Nick Clegg is no different to Cameron, perhaps not as shiny but the same mould nevertheless.

The Lib Dems can't use the Leader Factor, something the SNP excel in. They can roll out Alex and can be confident of securing a few dozen votes. Roll Clegg out, and you are more likely to scare your voters away.

Losing two-thirds of your seats is a disaster. Losing that many in a parliamentary election would almost certainly force a change in leadership. But can the Lib Dems actually risk that?

My view is that they will be forced to do so. The few MPs who hold parliamentary seats may argue against such a move, but the rank and file members may demand a change.

I cannot see how the Lib Dems are going to survive in their present form until the next Westminster elections, not unless they do something drastic. And even then it is debatable as to whether such action would have any impact.

The Lib Dems have now started to slowly collapse. And let's be honest, it's been long overdue ever since Charlie Kennedy left the room.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Lib Dem Conference

Yes, it's the highlight of the year as the Lib Dems from all over the UK descend on Nick Clegg's head, or should that be Birmingham?

The Scottish MSPs have no problem getting there as they will be sharing a taxi.

Apparently the SNP have urged a Lib Dem revolt, to ensure that the coalition in Westminster adopts a "Plan MacB". Sounds like a hamburger to me.

SNP MSP Joe Fitzpatrick (who he?) is in full flow, pointing out that the demand to increase pension contributions is dangerous at a time when consumer confidence is shaky. Fair point, and perhaps he could ask a certain enobled  contributor to SNP funds what he intends to do with his share of an £88million pound profit, one that has been achieved partly because of a lack of regulation. Meanwhile, fares continue to rise.

But back to the wonder that is the Liberal Democrats. They got slaughtered in the recent council elections in England. They got slaughtered in the Scottish Parliamentary elections. And they face slaughter at the Scottish council elections next year.

Nick is promising to use his "veto" if the 50pc tax rate is abolished. Veto? Is this the United Nations? This conference promises to be lively, and the way things are going, Nick might not be in a position to use his veto.  The Lib Dems may start a game of "Simon Says".........

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


Not that excellent song, but what some of the more sensitive bloggers out here in cyber politics are.

In Prime Minister's Questions.  (PMQs to the political geeks), SNP MP Angus MacNeil raised a question and got laughed at. Cue outrage and paranoia in equal quantities! The implication was that the Prime Minister was calling 7 out of 10 Scots "stupid".

Plenty of metaphorical fist-waving and gnashing of teeth by the Faithful. Angus himself was heard to say "I was astonished that the Prime Minister laughed at the hopes and aspirations of seven out of ten Scots."

I too was a bit annoyed by this apparent mockery by Cameron and most of the other MPs in the House of Commons.

Then I watched the question on YouTube. I watched it several times. I've watched it again as I wrote this.

Angus MacNeil's hard-hitting killer question was:

"A poll last week showed that 68% of Scots want oil revenues devolved to Scotland. Does the Prime Minister agree with 68% of Scots or does he not?"

To which Cameron replied:

"If you ask a stupid question you get a stupid answer."

Now, how the hell can you suggest that the PM was implying that 68% of Scots are stupid?

MacNeil's question was stupid, or more accurately very, very badly worded. Perhaps if he had asked about the Prime Minister's views on devolving oil revenues to Scotland, he would perhaps have had a better answer.

I'm not surprised Cameron and Co laughed.

But to the Fundamentalist Wing, it means WAR!!

But is anyone up here really listening?

(By the way, you only have to look at FMQs up here in Holyrood to see that the Almighty Alex receives the same sort of anal questions by Labour and responds with similar aforementioned mockery.)

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Big Yin

No, not Alex Salmond, but the one and only Billy Connolly.

If rumours be true, then he is the Man to save the Union. All a bit strange, since I cannot recall him having any particular preference when it comes to political allegiances. In fact, if you watch his material he sums up politicians in words that would certainly not be heard in church.

But it may be apt that this titan of stand up comedy is appropriated by the unionist parties:

Welly boots - since Labour are up to their necks in it. (The Lib Dems would be better choosing the Beatles, for the song "Yellow Submarine", since they are under it).

He likes to swear a lot (you may have noticed), and no doubt Labour were doing so early in May.

And of course as a comedian he will feel very comfortable in the company of others.


The SNP are in a bit of a dilemma here, since one of Billy's big pals is none other than Sir Sean Connery himself. They don't want to upset the Big Man now, do they?

And no doubt the Fundmentalist Wing of the Alex Salmond Appreciation Society will want nothing to do with Mr Connolly, and have his work  banned and blacklisted (unless written in politically acceptable Gaelic or Scots, certainly not English). Beards will be banned as will jobbies and welllies.

Get right intae him!!!!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Madness?...... This is......IRN BRU!!!!!

Well, it seems that Europe has declared war on Scotland, with stories in the press that Irn Bru may have to change!

If there is one thing to upset a Scotsman (or woman), it is the thought that the most important elixir in the universe is under threat.

Don't these Eurocrats realise that we have a bunch of nuclear missile in our back yard? Alex Salmond might forget his principles for a few minutes and turn Brussels into vapour.

Even Westminster dare not tamper with the Holiest of Holies - support for independence would hit 99% (the 1% is the leaf-eating, tree hugging jogging brigade who live off lentils and recycled cardboard, or as it is better known, meat-free lasagne).

Stuff the policies Alex. Champion Irn Bru and you cannot lose!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Media Sensation of Murder

A serious post this time.

The media have always found it better to sensationalise murder. But two recent cases have shown how irresponsible some sections of the media seem to have become.

The first case was Joanna Yeates murder, and her landlord, Chris Jeffries, suddenly became the focus of a media storm.

The second is the ongoing investigation at Stepping Hill hospital, where a nurse, Rebecca Leighton, has had all charges dropped against her. Now she has hired Max Clifford to defend her reputation.

Both cases show an alarming lack of judgement by editors. Circulations are dropping and the pressure is on to make sales - at any cost apparently. But all they have achieved is a false economy.

Chris Jeffries received substantial compensation, as no doubt will Rebecca Leighton. However, both have had their lives ruined by allegations about their private lives, comments about their mental state and no doubt some enterprising journalist has been raking in their bins.

Regulation of the media is a tricky subject for politicians of all parties. They seek the support of the media, which is essential to win votes. The phone hacking scandal has shown how dangerous such relationships can be.

But regulation is now required. The media consistently fail to abide by their own codes of practice - which seem to be on the lines of "Don't Get Caught". Crime must be allowed to be reported, but until a conviction is achieved, there should be no comments about the accused.

We don't want ridiculous privacy laws as seen in some other countries. But if the media does not start to act more responsibily, then that is precisely what is going to happen.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Times are a Changing

Or at least the Scottish Tories will be, if Murdo Fraser gets his way and replaces Auntie Annabel.
Promises to make changes and "breakaway" from Uncle David.

Aye, right!

Meanwhile, the Lib Dems go from bad to worse as a recent poll shows them lagging even further behind. They poll less than the Conservatives, and Willie Rennie's net rating is -14%! Even interest rates aren't that low. In fact, Rennie has scored even less than Tavish Scott.

The words "Light", "Brigade", and "Charge" spring to mind.......

Elsewhere in the world, Libya looks set to have a full change of government. However, Colonel Gadaffi vows to fight to the end according to his latest broadcast - live from Venezuela. Craig Levine might feel like joining him after yesterday's result.......

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Football Finances

Someone once said there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes.

Or in Rangers FC's case, fines and taxes. Thumped with a £2.8 million pound demand plus 50% fine they are a trifle upset.

Apparently the bailiffs, sorry sheriff officers, popped round for a chat, but big Ally kicked their foot out of the door and said  the owner wasn't in. (Rumour has it he was after some double Glazing, courtesy of Manchester United FC). Speaking of which, with a profit in excess of £100 million, it's a wonder the Glazers haven't bought the SPL as a sort of big boys Subutteo set.

The BBC Sports page is a touch pessimistic as well, with articles under all the SPL teams having the title "SPL clubs facing financial strife". Either there is a lot of truth in the matter, or the website editor buggered up his copy and paste commands.

Never mind, things can only get better..........

The Euro Lottery jackpot will probably hit £100 million this Friday.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Planes, Train and Automobiles.....

Edinburgh has no choice since they are still waiting for those blooming trams.

First they will, then they won't, then they might but only with certain conditions. But then Daddy (ie Scottish Government) doesn't like it, so a different approach is tried.

I had better luck trying to get a first winch off a girl when I was a plooky teenager!

I suggested elsewhere about bringing in Hornby, since they do know a thing or two about train sets. Edinburgh's tram is basically on a scale of 1:1.

I'm now thinking that the Muppets would be better placed to plan the damn thing.......

Monday, 29 August 2011

Monday Morning Snippets

Welcome to Monday morning. I'm having a good time since I've got a day off work. Nothing like a relaxed breakfast without the stress. (Apart from trying to get a child ready for school!)

A interesting weekend. Usain shot his Bolt, so to speak, with a double false start. Arsenal managed to record the worst defeat in over one hundred years to their arch rival, Manchester United. And to top it all Lewis Hamilton decided to take the scenic route at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Irene gave New York a washout, Beyonce is pregnant and the Lockerbie Bomber has been found (no doubt East Renfrewshire Council will have some strong words).

But the best story has to be the two employees of GS4 who were sacked, for placing an electronic tag on a false leg.

The man apparently was able to break a curfew by leaving the aforementioned leg at home.

Perhaps Arsenal could sign him up as a striker.......

Friday, 26 August 2011


Well, Scottish Fitba has officially left the building, although it's difficult to tell whether it actually turned up.

For the first time since the Clearances, there isn't a Scottish team in Europe after August. Not that they were likely to win much, but sad nevertheless.

Where to go now? Well, Mr McCoist and Mr Lennon will most likely stay for a few more weeks, unless they get kicked out by Girvan Reserve Eleven or something similar.

Still, there must be a few good (and cheap) players in some of the local pub teams. They might as well try there since no one in their right mind will want to play in  a league where there are ten teams fighting for third place.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Edookashun Nues

The Scotch guvernmint is being take to cort under hooman rites act. Two Inglish studints are wunting their tuishon fees payed as well.....

Ok, enough is enough. But there are a few people in Scotland who want us to all communicate in Scots, and also have it taught in schools. Some are so motivated that they even comment on blogs in their own version of Scots.

And foreign students want to come to study in Scotland? A good way to learn primitive languages I suppose.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Libya's Conflict

Interesting times in Libya, with events heading towards a rebel victory. (Try not to think of Star Wars).

The Libyan Government's official spokesman was in fine form, despite his broken English. According to the gentlemen, everything is under control, the people are on their side and they will come out fighting and win.

Sounds like what a Liberal Democrat might have said immediately after the Edinburgh council result last week.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Election News

The SNP candidate managed to win the vacant council seat in Edinburgh. But he scraped in at the last round, emulating Ed Milliband's victory in the Labour leadership competition. Not the comparison the SNP want, but a win nevertheless.

But considering only 3,500 odd people voted, it's not going to set the heather alight.

As for the Lib Dems........anyone who wishes to represent the Monster Raving Looney Party against them, please do, as you will repeat history by stuffing them into last place. Screaming Lord Sutch would be most satisfied.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Thought for the Day

300 years ago, the Union saved us from Darien Scheme. The Spanish buggered things up, forcing the Scots to lose lots of money. A similar situation can be seen today with the charges imposed by Scottish Power, owned by a Spanish company. I smell a conspiracy here.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

In the Beginning..........


Since I spend a lot of time - some say too much - on political and news blogs, I thought I'd give it a crack and see how much of a ballsup I can make.

By the way, don't expect highbrow analysis: that stuff is too anal and will bore people rigid.

There is moderation for postings, just in case the trolls from Cybernat Central or the Unionist Underground find me worthy of some attention, but more on that subject later, when I've figured out how to write an article about them without either (a) being sued or (b) falling down stairs on the ground floor.

I say moderation, I need to attract some attention first........