Saturday, 28 July 2012

Olympic Opening Ceremony

Ignoring the obscene cost of the whole Olympics, something better dealt with in another article, the opening ceremony was superb.

Three things stood out however:

The Olympic Cauldron was amazing and certainly unique. A masterful design.

The seven young athletes who lit the Cauldron. That was an incredible gesture and totally blew away all the tabloid media crap that has been circulating for weeks.

But nothing will beat the reception given to Muhammad Ali. A true sporting legend and the reaction to his presence was incredible.

The downside? David Bloody Beckham - Yes, I know he was instrumental in getting the Olympics to London, and he is - was - a superb footballer. But he is not an Olympic athlete. Chris Hoy, Kelly Holmes, Steve Redgrave etc are. They are more deserving of the attention, something they do not actively seek.

And please, please, please stop wheeling out Paul McCartney. Bit ironic having a musician with drugs convictions at an event where the athletes pledge not use them.......

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Private Lives

Given the excellent decision of the Scottish Government to allow gay marriage, it highlights the fact that provided someone does not break the law, rams their beliefs down our throats or causes problems for others, then their private life is no one elses business.

The religious bodies are condemning the decision, but no one is forcing them to conduct ceremonies against their religion in their places of worship. Any attempt to do so would certainly be wrong.

Your private life is yours. For many, what they do is a form of relaxation and enjoyment. I know people who play computer games who are well into their forties; train enthusiasts (they hate the word "spotter"), model makers, ramblers, people who prefer to read, those that frequent the pub, film fanatics. The list is endless. It is an escape from the daily grind and should be encouraged.

Returning to the subject of gay marriage. Can anyone really justify why it should not be allowed? Marriage is not necessarily a religious ceremony these days. There are those who consider it so and that is perfectly acceptable. What cannot be tolerated is outright condemnation from those religious leaders who on one hand are preaching tolerance yet on the other being completely intolerant.

Let us have a Scotland that is truly tolerant of others.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

What do the SNP really want?

I ask this question because I'm now totally confused as to precisely what the SNP propose for an independent Scotland.

In the beginning..... Scotland was to stand as an independent nation, with its own currency, economic policy, military and so on. Free of the shackles of Westminster and Europe and let the people decide. We'll all be superhuman, healthy, speak ten languages, win the World Cup (getting into the finals will suffice), be fantastically wealthy, zero emmissions (Holyrood excepted), enough wind turbines to levitate us nearer the equator (nae mair wellies, sorry Billy), be the centre of world policy, free of Tories, totally self-sufficient and with Alex Salmond elevated to Deity (look it up).

Complete bollocks (as Mr Anonymouse commentator says on a few blogs) but bloody good sales technique - if you like calling people at night saying "just doing a survey".

Now reality has hit the SNP with the subtlety of smashing ones thumb with a hammer, accompanied by the appropriate colourful language.

Judging by what the various disciples ministers have told us, this is what independence now means:

No nukes.....eventually
NATO the people party decide

Not telling (until the big man at the FOI makes us)

Erm, ask the Bank of England

Alex Salmond for European President but we'll ask the people of Scotland first

Referendum Questions
There will be one leading question....sorry two.... erm, three?....hang on four.....any advance on four?

There are grumblings in Blogland even among some of the most diehard supporters. Of course, there is one noticeable exception in the shape of the Temple of the Fundamental Wing of the Alex Salmond Appreciation Society, where the initiates and high priests ensure His Word is obeyed.

The Referendum is over two years away, with more of the bloody campaigning still to come. I've always said that six months was sufficient time, but no, the SNP have to make sure everything ties in with a reminder we gave the English a kicking (a few hundred years before they kicked the shit out of us in a Northumberland field).

I do not know what the SNP want in an independent Scotland, and I don't think they know either.
Could it be that all they want to achieve is independence, and bugger the consequences?

The other parties, Greens and Scottish Socialists, are an irrelevance in the independence campaign. The Greens want to tax the hell out of everyone who contributes to global warming - ie all of us, we all fart - and the Scottish Socialists want to tax the hell out of everyone who employs people as well as paying the employees as much as a banker.

Achieving independence whatever is the desire of a few people, and I've seen such comments. But what is the point of independence if the party proposing it keep changing the details of the policies?

Some say that the Unionists need to give some good reasons to keep the status quo.

No they bloody don't.

We already live in the Union. We know what it means to be in the Union. It's a pretty fair assumption that if we vote to stay in the Union then bugger all will change (apart from Alex Salmond's name appearing on every flipping polling card at an election).

The nationalists need to give some good reasons for independence. "The people will control their own destiny" is a pile of shite. No they won't. Those that bother to vote in elections in an independent Scotland will still get the same crap from Government, whether they like it or not. Wee Jim fae Easterhoose will still get his giro; the only change is that it will probably be in both English and Gaelic.

I'm being a cynical bastard because I've never seen so many policies being mucked about. And far too much attention seems to be given to the Referendum. The message is always the same when things go right (effective SNP policies) and the same when they go wrong (wisnae us pal, wis Westminster).

The SNP have spent a fair amount of time and money producing that lovely document for the Referendum campaign. It's a bit bloody late to start amending it.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Outsourcing Work

What do I mean by "Outsourcing Work"?

It refers to any process which is controlled and/or paid by one organisation, but given to another to actually carry out the process in question.

That does not necessarily mean privatisation. There are government departments, local and national, which carry out work but is centrally managed by another.

The Olympic security contract is an example of outsourcing. The Government has overall responsibility for security, but G4S have been tasked to carry out the actual process.

The main problem with outsourcing work is the monitoring of it. I've got several years experience in that field, both in the private and public sector, including a couple of jobs carried out on a personal basis.

The key problem is to identify problems before they arise; not two weeks before the outsourced company is expected to deliver. OK, politics are involved with the Olympics, but the same principle applies no matter how important or how large a project is.

I don't have the details of how G4S planned their recruitment, but having spent a few year in the recruitment industry, I do have some sympathy for them. I've been involved in staffing call centres, and that is hard enough.

But the Government / Locog should have had a more effective monitoring process in place, including their own staff working directly on site with G4S. Now we have a situation where everyone is trying to cover their backsides. No doubt there will be an investigation following the Games, but that is really irrelevant considering the Olympics will be unlikely to return to the UK in our lifetimes.

There are lessons to be learned, and by the Scottish Government with regards to the Commonwealth Games, as well as other projects.

Monitoring and auditing processes is a critical function in business, most especially when you are paying someone else to carry out your work. It's a tricky job doing such monitoring. You need a thick skin, supreme diplomatic skills and the skill of a politician when fielding awkward questions. Oh, and you also need to provide solutions to problems that are identified or arise.

(If anyone from the Scottish Government is reading, I'm available at a reasonable rate!)

Let's hope that the Scottish Government has effective monitoring processes in place. A failure to ensure that public money is being properly utilised is not a good way to be re-elected.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Olympic Security

Unless you have been living on another planet, you will be aware that the main news topic at the moment is the unfolding fiasco of Olympic security.

The main contractor has some serious staffing issues, and the Westminster Government has a few problems of their own. A ministerial head could roll for this. And I think the Defence Secretary is the prime target.

Additional service personnel are having to be drafted to make up for the shortfall of privately contracted staff, many of whom apparently did not turn up for work. I'm not going to descend into tabloid journalism here, with accusations of non-English speaking staff and whatnot. There could be many reasons for the failure to recruit properly, and having had substantial experience within the recruitment industry, I know just how difficult things can be.

The key concern is the use of additional Armed Forces personnel, some of whom have been drafted at short notice, with holidays cancelled in some cases - a fact confirmed by the Defence Secretary.

Serving personnel are fully aware that they may be assigned duties at very short notice, causing such problems. This is something you accept when you sign up.

But cancelling holidays because of a complete balls-up on such a major project is absolutely unforgiveable, especially with the recent announcement of yet more redundancies.

Boris Johnson was on yesterday defending this. He pointed out that service personnel were in attendance at Wimbledon. But what he did not tell you, and few of you will actually be aware, is that those attending Wimbledon are all volunteers who must use their own annual leave entitlement to do so. It is a very popular duty considering you get to see world class tennis for free.

Those attending the Olympics are not so fortunate. No doubt there will be some who will want to be there, but carrying out stewarding duties at the grass courts is far more interesting that doing stag at some checkpoint. And judging by the latest news reports basic accommodation and leisure facilities have yet to be sorted.

The Armed Forces are highly trained in security duties, and will carry out these duties in a highly professional and efficient manner.

But to use them in such a way to effectively cover the organising committee, G4S and the Government is both embarassing and insulting.

The whole issue is a disgrace.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

John Lyndon for Prime Minister?

Nothwithstanding his little dig at the Scots (no doubt the cybernats will be throwing things at the telly and burning their Sex Pistols records), he's about the only member of tonight's Question Time panel who spoke some sense.

There has been much debate this week about changing the culture of the banking system. Perhaps it is time to change the culture of politics.

Watching some politicians today, the behaviour was appalling, and the worst example was in the House of Commons with the ding-dong between Balls and Osbourne. Each side blaming the other while telling everyone how competent they are.

The same sort of crap can be seen at Holyrood as well. Politicians trying to outdo each other while making complete arses of themselves.

Yes, we know that a lot of good work does go unreported, especially within committees, but the public face of politics needs to change, especially since the level of trust in politicians is rather lacking these days.

Back to Mr Lyndon. I know he's not everyone's cup of tea (I like him), but imagine having a Prime Minister (or First Minister) with that sort of personality.

Be interesting to see what lyrics he would use for the National Anthem.......