Thursday, 24 May 2012

Back to Sitting on the Independence Fence

I've decided to go back to sitting on the fence, at least where it relates to being in favour of independence.

I used to reside there, and then about eighteen months ago fell squarely into the independence garden. Labour was a disaster; Cameron had teamed up with the Lib Dems; Andy Coulson was brought into the Conservative Inner Circle; Iain Gray was impotent; health was doing great in Scotland; council tax freeze; Salmond was the ultimate statesman (Diageo nothwithstanding).

Let's get one thing absolutely clear - I voted for the SNP last May in the Scottish Elections and continue to support them, even if some of their policies are in my view totally crap (transport for starters). I also have a damn good MSP in Linda Fabiani.


Some of their policies on independence are - to put it bluntly - a bloody mess.

Currency - first the Euro, now Sterling.

Europe - a desire to be at the heart of an political entity that is rapidly disintegrating.

Defence - the recent decision on whether an independence Scotland will be in NATO or not has been put off to allow the party to decide. That single action was the trigger that has returned me to the fence. Independence policies are  - to paraphrase the First Minister - for the people of Scotland to decide. Not the SNP party faithful.

Added to this is the SNP's relationship with Murdoch. They don't need the support of his organisation. The SNP secured an historic majority with a hostile press and limited resources. Now they have substantial funds but are trapped in a relationship with a private organisation that is under investigation, and has already paid out substantial compensation.

Moreover, the First Minister ignored the Scottish Parliament - of whom he is the figurehead - when questionned about certain allegations, preferring ironically to respond to a Westminster sponsored enquiry.

The SNP needs to stop this utopia bullshit and start giving definite answers on how an independent Scotland will look. There are concerns that need addressed, but to date have not been and I doubt ever will be.

My views are not tainted by the BBC or other unionist media. I read a lot of news, but I can spot media bullshit a mile away. I look at how politicians perform in Parliament, in interviews and on the street. Nor do other blogs influence my views. I make my own mind up.

I want an independent Scotland, but what is on offer at present makes me wonder what exactly I will be getting. There is an air of "independence or bust", something I thought Salmond had kicked into the long grass. But ever since that historic majority last year, the judgement has gone walkabouts.

The SNP has become arrogant rather than confident, and unless that changes, and they start giving a realistic vision to an independent Scotland, they are in for a shock come 2014.

(I'll accept all comments. But if you simply want to rant and accuse me of being a unionist, traitor or anything similar don't bother. I know where to go if I want that sort of abuse.)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Chemical Weapon Contamination

It's been revealed that there was a risk from chemical weapons buried at RAF Kinloss, specifically sulphur mustard based weapons. This comes after the ongoing issue with contamination at Dalgety Bay.

The sulphur chemical weapons were from World War 2. Chemical weapons such as mustard gas were never deployed during that war, as they were in 1914-18, but they certainly existed.

The Royal Engineers spent a considerable time training in the deployment of poison gas, although there were very few units, and they were more involved in bridge construction. The training took place in various locations in the UK, generally remote.

The MoD keeps telling us that there is "no risk" today. But that immediately raises concerns. How many times have government departments said that there was "no risk"? This is not an issue about road building delays, or propping up a bank. Contamination from chemical weapons can last decades, especially in concentration.

What is needed is a frank and open admission as to where else there is contamination, to what level and the potential danger to the public. This is not time for covering one's backside.

The contamination is not the fault of the present Government, nor is it the fault of anyone working at the MoD. So why is there this apparent reluctance to give out the full facts?

People would give credit for a bit of honesty for once. The contamination is there - deal with that problem rather than worrying if you are going to get into trouble.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Respect for Parliament

To paraphrase Joan McAlpine, I make no apology for this article.

As the Presiding Officer so rightly pointed out today, being in the position of an MSP in the Scottish Parliament is a priviledge, and one that must be highly respected.

Ms McAlpine seems to think the opposite.

It turns out that on not one, but several occasions, she has failed to be present in Parliament when she was required to do so. That is inexcuseable.

One news source gave us the juicy details about what she had for lunch. That is irrelevant. What is important is that she seems to have little if any respect for the Scottish Parliament, and simply using her position to promote independence.

Just as a reminder, she was elected to serve the residents in her area. She was not elected to  spend time stuffing her face and turning up when she felt like, or as it seems, remembered to do so.

As a member of the Education and Culture Committee, you would think she would be setting an example. As a newly elected MSP, you would also expect her to be working her backside off for everyone she represents.

Her skills as a journalist are without question, but as a politician she is rapidly turning out to be an embarrassment to not only the SNP, but the Scottish Parliament itself.

Whether Scotland becomes independent or not, the Scottish Parliament must show it is capable of being a proper seat of government, and not a pretendy parliament as some critics would have it. Politicians of all parties have a part to play in supporting the Parliament.

It's about time some of ours remembered this.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

This Week (Yet Again)

Apologies for the lack of content, but domestic issues have to take priority at the moment. Nothing too serious but health of others has to come before blogging.

So, unfortunately it's back to a quick scan of the latest news with a feeble attempt at satire........

Top of the agenda, both the Home Secretary and the Health Secretary have had what could be described as challenging conference appearances with the Police and Nurses respectively. Both seem to be keen on receiving the Prime Minister's blessing in the form of "My Full Confidence", a the immortal words that herald the start of a new career.

Not content with taking over Scotland, Alex Salmond has invaded the USA, appearing on a chat show, with his interview filmed in Abroath (cue the "Cringe"). Members of the Fundamentalist Wing of the Alex Salmond Society are practically creaming themselves with this one. Perhaps he has plans to join his big pal Sean and rule in absentia. After all, he is omnipresent.

The Queen of Spain has cancelled a visit to the UK, blaming issues over Gibraltar fishing rights. The problem appears to be a sort of hybrid mix of Argentina and Iceland, in this case the UK has both the land and the fish. Considering the Spanish steal our fish it serves them bloody right.

The SFA have rejected Rangers appeal against their fine and transfer embargo. Good luck in the Third Division.

A female prison officer has been jailed for harbouring an escaped prisoner. I don't think the jury was ever going to accept that she was hanging on to him until help arrived. Either that or it was an interesting game of hide 'n seek.

And finally (to much relief), an SNP councillor once sacked as Provost has been reinstated into the post. One little known fact is that she is a belly dancer.

There's hope for Alex yet.......

(relative normality should resume this weekend........)

Saturday, 12 May 2012

This Week

Well, yet another exciting week.

The local elections were held in Scotland, England and Wales, with some exciting results.
The SNP failed to take Glasgow (blaming Westminster cuts); Labour survived; the Tories clung on and Nick Clegg went into hiding. Puir wee Gail failed to win a seat. No big swings this time (ooer missus). A ballot box with uncounted votes was uncovered, causing an immediate reaction from the Fundamentalist Wing of the Alex Salmond Appreciation Society that the entire election process had been fixed. Their evidence was in the BBC's reporting of the elections results, eloquently described by one well-known blogger as "shite". (There is currently an argument as to who was first with this out. Thought I'd mention this to keep things stirred up!)

In London, Boris achieved something no one thought possible - forcing Ken Livingston's retirement. Ed Milliband expressed absolute f*****g joy sadness and regret that a Labour dinosaur stalwart had decided to leave the political arena.

Staying with London, the latest weapon has been unveiled - a sonic cannon. The official line is it will be used for announcements to the crowds, with the ability to control them if they start some trouble. Rumour has it that it is fact to be used to shut Seb Coe up.

Ms Brookes appeared at the Levenson Enquiry, displaying some better memory recall than her former employer. Dave and Becky exchanged texts with "LOL". Allegedly Dave thought it stood for "Lots of Love" rather than "Laugh out Loud". So much for the PM being down with it.

The saga over Rangers future continues unabated. There is more chance of a Greek coalition government being formed than a buyer finally coughing up some cash. Given that the Blue Knights failed yet again, it is ironic that the preferred bid is being led by someone called Green.

And finally, Prince Charles presented the weather on BBC Scotland this. But stay calm people, it was not some unionist monarchist conspiracy to keep us serfs in line. Perhaps some work experience for the future?

I'll see myself out.........

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Question

Less than a week after the local elections, the Referendum raise its head yet again. This time from the voice of the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westmister.

They have described the Referendum question suggested by the Scottish Government as "biased", with much wailing and gnashing of teeth from some nationalists.

Just in case you weren't aware of the question, here it is:

"Do you agree that Scotland should become an independent country?"

That is what is correctly described as leading question, which for clarity is a question where the person asking the question suggests the answer he/she is looking for.

In other words, bias.

The Committee is absolutely correct. I don't know who came up with that question, but I suspect someone with a journalistic background. Only journalists tend to use leading questions in a professional capacity. Employers certainly cannot use them when interviewing candidates, and nor do I suspect can the police. From my own experience in interviewing and assessing interviewers, I would never allow such a question to be used.

That question above is asking for an opinion, not a definitive answer. It's a bit like asking someone if they agree that cod liver oil tastes disgusting, rather than asking them if they want to try some.

No doubts the arguments will rage on and on, with the Scottish Government accusing Westminster of interfering. But they have brought the criticism upon themselves with such a blatant leading, almost loaded, question.

The question has to be phrased in a similar was as follows:

"Do you want Scotland to be an independent country?"

Closed question requiring a simple yes or no answer. No bias, no hints, no leading words or phrases.

If the Scottish Government decide to use their question, then there is a good chance that Westminster will simply ignore the result, with arguments no doubt reaching the courts.

It should also be asked why the Scottish Government want to use a leading question. Could it be they are afraid of the result, or are they simply trying to manipulate the results by adding this question to their desire for 16 and 17 year olds to get the vote as well?

Monday, 7 May 2012

Is Greece heading out of the Euro?

Given the current election results in Greece, with the mainstream parties rejected, is Greece finally going to escape the Euro?

What is of interest is that voters are now supporting the more extremist parties, with some similarities to Germany in the years following the Great War. The German people went for the extremist parties, both communist and facist.

Merkel is not best please with the result, nor would I imagine with the new French President. It seems that the great Euro dream is faltering.

The Greek people have simply had enough. It could be argued that it is the country's own fault for allegedly fiddling the figures prior to entry, but that is the politicians, not the people. Tax avoidance is apparently common in Greece, from top business leaders right down to the taxi driver in the street.

The turning point for the Greeks had to be when Merkel told the then Greek prime minister to cancel his referendum of the Euro. One nation telling another what to do. And unbelievably he obeyed.

I am no economist. I understand the basics but I have little time or inclination to learn about banking and finance. What I do know is that we are in a strange situation where every country seems to owe money. How long can this go on for? I also understand that you cannot always let a bank collapse, but then on the other hand you cannot have them directing policy after they made a mess of their business first time around.

The Greek people have had their say. And judging by current events they will have yet another as a coalition has yet to materialise. That could get even more votes for the extremist parties. The question is whether the new Greek government has the balls to exit the Euro. It may cause them more problems but it would at least give them the tools to sort out problems themselves.

If Greece decides to abandon the Euro, then Spain and Portugal might decide to follow. And if they go, the rest will follow suit. France under its new socialist President may decide to return to the Franc as well, leaving Germany a bit annoyed. How it will affect their economy I haven't a clue, but probably not pleasantly. That would leave Merkel vulnerable.

Greece leaving the Euro might give the respective European governments the proverbial kick up the backside that is sorely needed. Austerity isn't working.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Penguin Politics

First of all, congratulations to the "Penguin" on a successful campaign. Surely the highlight of the elections. It's humiliating enough to be beaten by the Monster Raving Looney Party, but at least they are the same species (I think).

Before my own cynical analysis of the results, for those who want the full statistical analysis, may I direct you to the Burd (link at the right of the page) who has tirelessly produced the correct figures, rather than what the BBC churned out (correctly described as "shite"). And for even more detailed analysis of Glasgow, look no further than Lalland's Peat Worrier.

So, who won?

Nobody. This is not a national election but a series of thirty-two local elections. The SNP may have taken more seats, but the overall gains were pretty well matched with Labour.

The SNP vote held up, bar a few losses. But so did Labour's.

The Lib Dems, as expected, got slaughtered, to a level even below what I expected. I have some sympathy for those who lost seats, since the Westminster coalition has affected them. But to be honest, I have little time for a party who jumps into the political bed with anyone for a sniff of power.

The losses for the Lib Dems may be critical. However, the real test will come at the next parliamentary elections. Going on present form, they are going to be crucified in most areas. But that is for another day.

The Greens made some gains in Edinburgh, doubling their seats to six. A welcome replacement for the Lib Dems.

Labour held up well, and took seats from the Lib Dems and others. But they did not make any substantial gains from the SNP. However, I expect them to be rather relieved and probably pleased with the result.

Put it simply, the SNP blew it. All the spin and bullshit about how they would take the city has come to naught. True, they increased their seats by seven, but these were at the expense of other parties, not Labour. Despite all their efforts, they could not make any inroads into a party that has suffered some turmoil with deselections.

Rather than slagging off the electorate as people who will vote Labour if the candidate was a goat (as one rather well known website's commentators do), perhaps they could look at why the SNP cannot make gains. If people really want a change, then they will get out and vote.

I live in South Lanarkshire, another prime target for the SNP. Linda Fabiani did splendidly last year and blew Andy Kerr off the planet. So come the local elections, I expected a vigorous campaign, considering Big Eck himself kept telling us all that what was happening.

In East Kilbride, the SNP campaign consisted of a leaflet with Alex 'n' Nicola on it. Bog standard political material that can be posted through a door anywhere in Scotland. Meanwhile, Labour leaflets had the local candidates, and the usual splurge about local issues. This was repeated in the week before the elections.

The SNP finally got round to posting a leaflet with the local candidates. Whoopee! A quick read. Who they hell are they? No one had ever heard of them. And neither had bothered their backsides to come round a few doors and tell us why we should vote for them.

No, I think the SNP were relying on the Alex factor once again, despite his time being taken up shoving his head up Murdoch's arse ensuring that Scottish jobs are secure.

The party political broadcast was crap and patronising, even more so than the usual fare we are subject to. The SNP spin went out of control.

The SNP leadership need to be concerned. They could not take seats off Labour despite the party having a mediocre leadership. They did not make any massive gains. Had the Lib Dems not been in the coalition, they would probably have retaineed the majority of their seats.

It was circumstances out of SNP control that won them seats, not direct action.

The SNP are now dismissing the results as having any bearing on the Referendum, saying that people will not vote on political lines. But the fact of the matter is that the SNP are seen as the party of independence. These results will not give them a confidence boost.