Monday, 22 December 2014

MISERY FOR GLASGOW

We were shocked to hear the news about the bin lorry running out of control, killing 6 people and injuring at least 8 more in central Glasgow today. So far it appears that the cause of the accident hasn't been identified, although a witness is reported to have said that the driver was slumped over the wheel of the lorry.

It's only just over a year since Glasgow was hit by tragedy when a helicopter crashed through the roof of the Clutha Bar.

I was following the story earlier on Twitter and I wanted to say it never ceases to amaze me what wonderful people Glasgow has. Taxi drivers were offering to take people home, or to hospital...for free. One guy said that if anyone needed a room for the night he had one spare... 

Of course I'm sure that Glasgow is not unique in this; there are great people everywhere from Rothsay to Reykjavik to Rangoon. But Glasgow has certainly got their fair share of them. What warmth.

There's nothing comforting you can say when something like this happens. All across Scotland tonight people are thinking of you, Glasgow. Tonight we are all Weegies.

I should add that messages have been coming on Twitter from all sorts of people, The Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland sent his condolences, along with The Prime  minister of the Uk, the leader of Plaid in Wales.

Just left Govan police station where I've been getting briefed on response to tragedy. My heart simply breaks for all affected

Nicola has just been briefed in the local police station and tweeted that she was heartbroken. I know it's a twee thing to say, but somehow tragedy at Christmas seems to be even worse than at other times, although of course if it affects you personally, it doesn't matter a damn when it is. It's just horrific.

Let's remember too the work of the fire, police and ambulance services and NHS Scotland.

SCOTTISH EVENING NEWS


Saturday, 20 December 2014

CHRISTMAS TIME IN THE UK AND SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS

Thanks to Cynical Highlander for pointing me in the direction of this.

**********
Seen on Twitter:

BBC: The oil business is finished? Expert: No
BBC: It's over for North Sea? Expert: No
BBC: But it's catastrophic isn't it? Expert: No.
**********
Well, Ed, Tony said it was just for show...
Yep... just for a laugh...Nigel Farage started it by saying he felt threatened by people on the train speaking a different language. (Amazing when you consider that his wife is German and his daughters speak German fluently... but maybe he feels intimidated at home too...it would certainly explain why he spends so much time in the pub and elsewhere!!). I wonder if, when they are in Brussels, on a train, or more likely in a bar, the UKIP lot all speak Flemish or French to each other in order not to put the locals in a state of fear?
Anyway, you'd kinda hope that if people were going to have a go at immigrants for speaking 'foreign' on our trains, they might make a wee bit of an effort not to mix the possessive pronoun "OUR" with part of the verb "to be" ..." ARE"...
Oh, and what the hell is the hyphen for?


Friday, 19 December 2014

RANDOM THOUGHTS

When Alistair Darling's Better Together were spending money on the referendum, they seem to have had vast amounts of cash to spare. Certainly more than the cash that YES had.

Now, form what I read over at Wings, they don't have enough money to pay the staff they need for the election.

So where did all the money that they were splashing about come from?

Oh yeah, the rich English Tories. Silly me.
**********

I'm not, as you know, a fan of the Royal Family, but when Cameron the amateur was caught out telling some American blokey that she simply "purred" down the phone when he woke her to tell he that the Brits had won the referendum, I felt sorry for her. Who'd want an incompetent, loud mouthed, bumbling idiot show-off like him for their prime minister?

However, the recent news that Downing Street, in its desperation over the last weeks of the referendum campaign, had asked the Queen to get involved, with his Cabinet Secretary and head of the Civil Service actually meeting with the Queen's Private Secretary to sort out something that wouldn't look too dodgy, and the resultant comment from the Queen at Crathie, have sickened me.

No one could seriously have doubted that the Queen would have privately supported the status quo. That is understandable.  

From a completely personal point of view, she is part of the generation that voted decidedly NO. And from a professional viewpoint she is the pinnacle of an "Establishment" that desperately wanted to keep the UK together. 

She might too, have worried that, as the Scottish monarch reigns by the grace of the people (as opposed to the grace of God in England...and therefore the UK) that in an independent Scotland, probably not right away, but when she dead, her son and all his nuttiness would be rejected by the Scots and the monarchy would disappear. But whatever she thought, she gets paid multi millions to do the job and... as they say: heavy is the head that wears the crown. 

She should have kept her personal worries on the future entirely to herself and left these issues to the conniving devious politicians. 

We are told that along with being old, she is wise and vastly experienced in matters of state. And to be fair to her, unlike most of her idiotic family, she has trodden a careful path through her years on the throne, inviting no scandal (even if in the doing of it she gives the impression of being cold and unemotional). By and large she has even dealt  as sensibly as is possible with the lunatic behaviour of her rich and spoilt relatives.

But suddenly her good sense seems to have deserted her.  She connived with the prime minister to influence the people of Scotland with her own views.

I can no longer see the woman without an image of a conniving cat coming to mind.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

PAKISTAN TRAGEDY

In the last post, we somewhat tastelessly used a picture of the front page of the Daily Mail to tell the story of the threat by Conservative MPs to scupper the granting of a few powers to the Scottish parliament. There were two stories on that page, the other was the attack on school children in Pakistan, by the Taliban.

Niko pointed this out and we changed the page.

Officials say more than 140 people, mostly children, have been killed in the Taliban attack on an army-run school in north-west Pakistan.

Pakistan's security forces say their operation has now ended, with all seven attackers killed.

Pupils who escaped have said the gunmen went from classroom to classroom, shooting children indiscriminately.

The Taliban say the assault is in response to army operations in North Waziristan and the Khyber area.

It is hard to imagine what kind of mind could come up with this. It is even harder to get your head around the fact that someone thought that killing children was a reasonable way of dealing with unwelcome army operations.

The Scots have clearly been moved by the tragedy and the Pakistani Consul General in Edinburgh has thanked Scotland.

I am sorry, as I said on the last post, if my careless juxtaposition of a frivolous story about the Tories and this horrific tragedy carried out by monsters, caused any offence. 

Of course none was intended.

It looks like we may not get to design our own road signs after all

The Daily Mail reports on its front page that English MPs threaten to derail the DevoMicro settlement laid out in the doctored Smith Commission Report.

There was a picture of their front page on the blog, but Niko, quite reasonably, pointed out that as the rest of the paper's page was dedicated to the horrific story of the barbarous slaughter of school children in Pakistan, the frivolous headline and pictures I used to illustrate the Tory revolt was inappropriate. 

He was right and I was wrong. Apologies for any offence this might have caused.  

In any case it looks like we can forget ....



Oh well, it was fun while it lasted...

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Nicola's Christmas card and the story behind it

The painting - by Phyllis Dodds, a celebrated artist and wife of a former director of Glasgow School of Art - was on a Christmas card years ago. The original was in the Glasgow School of Art's archive and survived the dreadful fire earlier this year. 

Bringing it back to life as a Christmas card seemed like the perfect way to symbolise the restoration of the fire-damaged School. 

I have to say that I prefer it to the tacky nonsense that some politicians go for, with their own photograph, or them with their kids. I mean who wants Tony and Cherry Blair looking down from the mantelpiece?

Sunday, 14 December 2014

SNAPS ON SUNDAY...THE NEW ERA FOR NEW OLD LABOUR...or something

We'll have a little more fun at Jim and Kez's expense, then, we promise, we shall move on.

A good deal has already been said on these pages about the strange choice of a right wing leader and deputy leader for a party which appears to need, more than anything, to shore up its left of centre votes; about the choice of a party leader, in a branch desperately trying to show that London does not control what Scottish Labour thinks or does, who sits in Westminster and was the clear choice of the Westminster management to sort out the rebellious Jocks, and at least at this moment, who has shadow cabinet responsibility under Ed Miliband for a non devolved area.

Of course we can expect him to get an easy ride from the BBC... and from what I heard he got exactly that this morning. No-one questioned what he will do about his Westminster seat come May; no one asked what he will do if he fails to be elected to either Westminster or Holyrood.
If you want to bunk off from your job, surely the right time do do it
is when the chamber is doing something as totally unproductive as
licking Mrs Thatcher's boots. Not when they are discussing a living wage.
Of course, some people already get a living wage.
Silly me, I forgot that.
But at some stage in the future, surely someone from the BBC is bound to, even in the interests of appearing to be some sort of serious journalist... (so that means Brewer, and not Smith) ... question what his line is now on tuition fees, privatisation of health and water, post office, rail, electricity and gas; on nuclear weapons (that the Scottish branch voted against) 25 miles from Glasgow; on Palestine, MPs' expenses, the House of Lords, royals, benefit caps, Atos-style assessments, benefit sanctioning, bedroom tax, pensions; on Israel, Iraq, Syria, Scottish complicity in torture... (he was SoS when the torturees were landing at Prestwick) and why in 2009, he was allegedly involved in the setting up of a cross party coalition which wanted to stop there even being a referendum in Scotland, whilst operating a scam on his rent!

We can be fairly certain of what his views were on some of these issues last week... but it would be interesting to know what are they now, and what they might be if ever he were to be first minister of our country?
Aww isn't that nice.  Con and Lab are all friends now.
Sod the poor then?
It must be comforting though, for Jim to know, that he has already started to do what any new leader should, and attracted new members to the party....albeit from the Conservatives (their money is as good as anyone's... and there's usually a lot of it). Nice folk too... if you like that sort of thing.

Anyway... here are a few of my favourite snaps on this Sunday, celebrating Jim and Kez's crowning.
Yep! Seems like a reasonable assumption.
My ex-MP seems to have seen what Labour hasn't.
Russell Brand started a craze. 
Is that tree in London?
Seriously ...these people fund Labour.
He must be very rich by now...
Rich enough to be a Tory.


On education – “How do you get the youngsters to a better position? It’s about the mums being better readers and preparing the kids for day one at school.”

The mums? Back to nice, neat, gendered roles then? And of course playing to a ludicrous notion that working class women can’t read.

On tax relief for firms – “We also need to get better at using the tools available to our local authorities, such as tax relief for firms paying the Living Wage.”

Eh…no. Why should the public purse subsidise profit-making companies?

On the Smith Commission – “As we implement the Smith Agreement we should seek to bring these new powers as close to local communities as is possible. We should devolve not just to councils but also to local coalitions involving councils, business, charities and other government agencies like the NHS.”

That would be a postcode lottery then…and it would be a lottery that allows businesses to influence (read “lobby”) local politicians’ decisions in terms of welfare. Not a good idea.


1. Authoritarianism. In 1996 Jim Murphy graced the House of Commons for the first time when he was the subject of an unprecedented ‘Early Day Motion’ which condemned his presidency of the National Union of Students (NUS) for “intolerant and dictatorial behaviour”. He had engaged in a furious campaign of persecution against NUS officials who supported NUS policy of free education at a time when (as today) Labour Party policy was against free education. Murphy left the NUS for a job in the Labour Party.

2. Fingers in the till. In 2012 Jim Murphy was found to have exploited a loophole in his parliamentary expenses, by letting out his London address at the same time as claiming its rent. He is believed to have made anywhere up to £20,000. Incredibly, he was carrying out this scheme when in 2009 he apologised “on behalf of all politicians” for expenses theft.

3. Staunch defence of Israel. In 2001 and 2002 Jim Murphy was the chair of ‘Labour Friends of Israel’. During his tenure war criminal and architect of the massacres at Sabra and Shatila, Ariel Sharon, became Prime Minister of Israel and construction of the now infamous West Bank Barrier began.

In 2011 he attacked the Trades Union Congress for supporting the boycott, calling it “a big step backwards” and also criticised student campaigners pushing for an academic boycott. He dismissed a UN vote to recognise the Palestinian state as ‘symbolic’. He insisted that the Labour Party under Ed Miliband must remain a ‘staunch supporter of Israel’. There is no evidence that recent massacres -particularly in Gaza – have changed is attitude.

Support for the Apartheid state was once widespread in the Labour party. Following decades of genocide against the Palestinians it is now widely recognised as an extremist position.

4. Leading Membership of the Henry Jackson Society. Blairism in foreign policy terms is a form of Neo-Conservatism. But it is very rare for a Blairite to openly subscribe to Neo-Conservative ideology.

Jim Murphy is a member of the ‘Political Council’ of the HJS – he is one of a few fanatical Blairites on the Political Council which is utterly dominated by Conservative ultra-reactionary back benchers – the same ones who are now calling for a coalition with UKIP.

Henry Jackson was a military hawk and ‘anti-communist’ McCarthyite senator. The society named after him, founded in the U.S but transported to London in the run-up to the Iraq war, is the main bastion of Neo-Conservatism on these islands. 


Yes, Westminster knows best, Neil.
That's why they couldn't let you be leader!
If the unions disaffiliate, Labour will have to become even more
right wing to attract big business's money.
But it seems his meeting with the ex-pope has bestowed
something upon him.
Small problem!
I'd hang on to that jaicket if I were you!
But certainly a patroniser of women, none the less!
Yes Frankie, here is it.
Lewis...

Saturday, 13 December 2014

WHAT HAPPENED TO LABOUR?

THE EXCITEMENT IS OVER...IT'S JIM AND KEZ... SURPRISE, SUPRPRISE

Congratulations to Jim Murphy and to Kezia Dugdale on winning the election to be leader and depute leader of the Labour Party's Scottish office.


It's not what I would have wished for... nor, from the poll that we ran over the last two days, what the majority of readers of Munguin's Republic wanted. I don't think it's really what Scotland wanted. However, it was what London wanted and what the BBC wanted. And apparently 56% of the Labour Party in Scotland wanted it, so it happened. And Hell mend them!

Sarah Boyack
  38 (20%)
Neil Findlay
  119 (63%)
Jim Murphy
  39 (20%)
Kezia Dugdale
  27 (14%)
Katy Clark
  70 (37%)


Jim Murphy got 20% of the Munguin poll votes, compared with 56% in the real poll. Neil Findlay in reality got 35% of the electoral college's votes, compared with a whopping 63% of Munguin's readers' votes.

Such is life. 

Anyway, thanks to all of you who took time to vote and to comment on the last thread.

So, with a speech about how he had a driving purpose to stamp out poverty, and how angry he was about the difference in life expectancy between rich and poor and his concerns about the difficulties of of the poor in getting a good education, he launched what he called a new era for Scottish Labour. 

But the path ahead will not be an easy one for Jim and his running mate.

His big problems seem to me to be:

He's in London and his job is in Edinburgh. He will be obliged to deputise his main duties to Dugdale while he continues to earn his salary as an MP. I know little of her, except that she, like Murphy, has never had a real job, and she spent her political life before getting into parliament, 3 years ago, as an assistant to a right of centre member of the House of Lords. What little I saw of her on tv during the referendum campaign, failed to impress me. She came over as full of hatred for the SNP ...and pretty much nothing else. 

He has to find a seat in Scotland. He has to either to persuade someone in a "safe" seat to stand down (perhaps with Ed recommending him/her for a seat in the House of Lords... it's been done before as Irene Expenses Adams can testify!!) and then he has to win that safe seat. That's not going to be easy. Those who resign a seat in mid term lose out on a generous resettlement payment, and any elevations to the House of Aristos will be noticed and used by political opponents. And it will have to be a rock solid seat... (imagine losing)... And what IS a rock solid seat at this time?

If he doesn't manage that, he has to make up his mind about standing for Westminster in May 2015. And he must say what he will if he retains that seat and goes on to win a seat in Holyrood.

He has somehow to lose his reputation as a hard right wing Blairite. He is at odds with his branch of the party on many issues, not least the removal of Trident from the Clyde. Blair, and what he did to Labour, is roundly loathed in Scotland, even by those who support the Labour Party and the union. London Labour has agreed to replace Trident with at least £100,000,000,000 worth of new nuclear subs. 

He stands for much that the Labour Party in Scotland is uncomfortable with. He was a supporter of the Iraq War and he voted against there being an investigation into it. He will have to make up where he stands on the report into CIA activities, including their involvement with torture... and the fact that all the intelligence that was gained from that torture was shared with the UK, while he was a minister. 

He says that he is concerned for the poor and that if he were first minister he would raise the taxes on the rich. Although he also said that he wouldn't tax the middle classes. So I'm assuming that his tax raising would be reserved for the super-rich. I seem to recall that Stuart Campbell calculated that that would bring in around £8 million a year, if the rich didn't all suddenly feel the urge to buy property (and pay tax) in England. 

So he'll need to find another way, because I can assure Mr Murphy that £8 million won't go far shared between all the poor in Scotland!
Pointy finger

His conviction is doubtful... His voting record on measures like social security hardly indicate strong support for the poor. Labour in London are going to be harder than the Tories on Welfare. Rachel Reeves has said so. How will he square that circle?

Labour head office has also committed to keeping to George Osborne's spending plans. How many people in Scotland are up for that? And what will that do for the poor?

Scotland is looking for a Labour Party that IS a Labour Party, not the metropolitan pinkish watered down vision of Mandelson's and Blair's, which agrees with almost everything that the Eton Boys say and pleases the rich 'socialists' at the BBC. 

And it's going to be hard for him to convince anyone that he really cares about the poor when he has the baggage of being Blair's most loyal lieutenant.

It will be hard for him to espouse socialist policies in Scotland, while the London party is busily aping Cameron. Miliband will be scared that he will frighten off the kind of voters and donors that they want to encourage.

This may seem a little personal ... and a bit cruel, but it seems to me that I have never met anyone who actually "likes" Jim. OK, you can say that I don't meet enough Labour supporters to make a sound judgement on that and that's fair comment. But it seems to me that he's just not a popular man despite the support he has just had from the party. 

He needs to work on getting the public to like him... and to trust him.

I doubt that will be easy. He's not the kind of bloke you like. He's hasn't got the easy manner that appeals to other men. You can't imagine going for a pint with him. I've never heard of women swooning over him. People like Blair picked up a lot of votes on his good looks (well it was nearly 20 years ago!!) Jim will never be accused of that. And he's hardly an intellectual giant who simply wows you with his wit or clarity of thought.

I wish him luck becoming appealing...

So he's not idea either from the Labour Party's point of view, or from Scotland's point of view.

I image there will be some pretty happy SNP people today though.

Friday, 12 December 2014

THE SCOTTISH EVENING NEWS



Ahead of the launch of the Scottish Evening news in  Spring 2015, the people behind the project have released some examples of what the news might look like. Their next broadcast will go behind the scenes and show how they put news together.

For more information on the show, and how you can help make it happen, visit http://www.scottishnews.scot/donate
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And....Bad news for Labour from the Yougov Poll for the Sun today.

Awwwwwww. 

For more information on the results of the poll... James has a piece over at his place

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

WHO DO YOU WANT TO SEE AS SUPERVISOR OF THE LABOUR SCOTTISH BRANCH OFFICE?

Everyone has been assuming that, given that London head office clearly wanted Murphy as the Scottish branch supervisor (why else would Sarwar have stood down as deputy, thus ensuring that the new deputy could come from Scotland?) he would indeed win.

But above is a Daily Record online poll. OK, it's the Daily Record, and it's online, so it means little, but, ouch, what a difference!

Ooooops!

Who do you want to see as the Labour charge-hand in Scotland? Poll in side bar... And for good measure we have thrown in the Depute Leader post too.

What will they do if Jim and Katy both win?

Or are they sure that that won't happen?

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

POOR BRITAIN

“Fuel prices rose by an inflation-busting seven per cent in 2013, pushing more people into fuel poverty. The fact that this is happening in an energy-rich country is scandalous." - Housing Minister Margaret Burgess.

In fairness I very much doubt that by any measure the UK is the
6th largest economy in the world,
but by anyone's standards we are relatively rich as a country.
Why, then, do people have the indignity of begging for food thrust upon them?
This is because he is a Tory. The Conservatives in Scotland
who accept that they have no chance of forming a government
want to see Gentleman Jim as the leader.
I suppose there are always food banks ma'am. Although it is rather infra dig, and
there are a lot of MPs who would think that you were faking it.
Ah, yes, the horrendous cost of keeping this OAP home for toffs open could have been reduced just a little, had they agreed to share catering with the Commoners along the corridor. However, this was rejected by their Erminenesses on the basis that the vintage of the subsidised champagne would not have been of sufficient quality for the taste buds of aristocrats, and well, one couldn't have that, could one?
Ewwwww. UGLYYYYYY Bastards
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, largely responsible for the misery of hunger
gets a photo opportunity at a food bank, and shows just how detached 
from reality he is.
I suppose there must be trickle down in some way. After all the hyper rich have to eat, have their cars driven and
their houses cleaned, but they are so incredibly mean that they pay for it all at the bottom possible rate, leaving the
recipients unable to let the money trickle any farther.
In one of the top 20 countries in the world...
Makes you so proud to be British.
Who can argue that?
Not seen many poor councillors though...
Well, we couldnt have a Westminster government frightening
away their friends who will give them directorships when they retire to the Lords
Socialism... what's that then?
Well, otherwise he wouldn't get home in time to see his little prince get off to bed
like hundreds of thousands of other fathers all over the country.
Maybe the DWP could provide helicopters for all of them on the social security?
No?