Thursday, 29 January 2015


Correspondence in the Shetland Times

Mr Carmichael is performing his old trick of “claiming credit for other people’s work”.

Until now he’s failed to attract criticism for this self-promotional deceptiveness, but it really is time someone challenged his behaviour.

So far this week he has claimed credit for the following:-

1) Apparently the LibDems have been responsible for giving parents £2,000 worth of tax free childcare. How exactly? Childcare is the responsibility of the Scottish government.

2) Cutting the cost of living, giving local people an £800 tax cut? What? I don’t know which local people he’s talking about.

The LibDems have worked hand in hand with the Tories to bring in changes to the tax and benefit system that has seen the poorest in our country, mainly working families, suffer the most.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies informs us that “those with children in the lowest 10% of earners lost £1,223 on average”.

The LibDems have presided over a period which has given rise to a new category of poverty – the working poor. A period that has seen the necessity for food banks in Shetland. Perhaps he’s talking about some of his rich pals?

3) A 5p decrease in fuel duty on petrol for rural places. I will give him some credit for remembering to include Shetland on the list as a rural place.

This “price decrease” lasted a whole week before it was swallowed up on the forecourt.

Mr Carmichael totally failed to understand the reason why rural places have higher prices at the pumps is mainly due to the high delivery charges and lack of competition, not the duty. Monopolies tend to charge what they think they can get away.

4) £10 million invested in renewable energy. A tiny sum in the scheme of things. Really nothing to brag about.
Why has he not mentioned the absolutely monumental deal the coalition have signed with EDF and China to build a nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C in Somerset? Maybe because they’ve promised to pay EDF double the present day unit price for its electricity, when it’s finally built.

The UK government has effectively ploughed massive subsidies into nuclear power at the expense of support to renewables. SSE and Scottish Power have pulled out of offshore wind developments because of this and Pelamis in Orkney has gone into liquidation following investor uncertainty.

The Scottish government, thankfully, has rescued Pelamis’s intellectual property for Scotland’s future, by purchasing it.

5) Persuaded HM Treasury to resolve Shetland’s historic housing debt. Really? For 30 years successive Westminster governments ignored this matter until local Shetlander, Allison Duncan, buttonholed a minister at the airport.

It was only when the Scottish Cabinet visited Shetland and John Swinney initiated tripartite talks that the long standing issued was resolved.

People who take credit for other people’s work do so because they have little of their own to claim credit for. I for one am looking forward to seeing what he claims credit for next.

Angela Sutherland
(Printed without permission, but linked above.)

What works to address health inequalities?

Continuing Sam's look at health inequality...
In "NHS Health Scotland: Health Inequalities Policy Review" 2013, is a table setting  out  what would work to address health inequalities.
Firstly,dealing with the theories of fundamental causes of health inequalities the interventions proposed are policies that redistribute power, money and resources. Social equity and social justice needs to be prioritised. Examples of effective actions  proposed are: introducing a minimum wage for healthy living; ensuring the welfare system provides enough income for healthy living and reduces stigma for recipients through universal provision in proportion to need.
There should be more progressive individual and corporate taxation and active labour market policies to create good jobs.
There should be the creation of a vibrant democracy, greater and more equitable participation in elections and in decision-making, including on action on health inequalities.
Second,there are changes proposed to the social, economic and physical environment. The interventions suggested are: the use of legislation, regulation, standards, fiscal policy and strucural changes to ensure equity in the environment. Good jobs should be avilable for all and there should be equitable provision of high-quality and accessible education and public services.
The examples of effective actions proposed are wide ranging. They include addressing housing quality standards: neighbourhood standards: air and water standards; food and alcohol standards and restrictions; transport and pedestrians; pricing of harmful commodities, healthy products and essential and prevention services; environmental safety changes; policies for employment; policies for provision of high-quality early childhood education and adult learning and on training and learning; ensuring that public services are provided in proportion to need as part of a universal system.
Third, looking at individuals, the interventions suggested are that there should be equitable experience of socio-economic and wider environmental exposures and equitable experience of public services.
High-risk individuals should be targeted for support; there should be intensive, tailored individual support: there should be a focus on young children and the early years.
Effective actions include; training for the public sector workforce to ensure it is sensitive to all social and cultural groups, to build on the personal assets of service users; linking of services for vulnerable or high-risk individuals, e.g. income maximisation welfare advice linked to healthcare for low-income families.
There should be provision of specialist outreach and targeted services for particularly high-risk individuals such as looked after children and the homeless.
Services should be provided in locations and ways that are likely to reduce inequalities in access.
Addressing inequalities of income, wealth and power will require that Scotland has control of economic and welfare policies. And as McCartney says:
"If health inequalities in Scotland are to be reduced, this will require leadership at all levels to reduce the stark inequalities in the socio-economic circumstances prevalent today."
So what are our politicians doing?

Wednesday, 28 January 2015


It may turn out to be perfectly safe. On the other hand it may turn out not to be. 

Until we can be reasonably sure one way or the other, we back the government taking the only steps it can to ensure our safety, given that the UK intends to go ahead with rolling out licences, instead of following the lead of countries like Ireland,  Bulgaria, France and Germany which have banned fracking until they know more.
It's not a perfect solution, and it may even be that the UK government can override this, given that it and only it is a sovereign power, but it is the best that is available to us for the moment.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015


It's rather a long watch at just under an hour, but it is an hour well spent, documenting as it does, the way that the British and American treat people who are powerless, lie to their own citizens, whether in these islands or elsewhere and, in the end disregard high court ruling when it suits them and use archaic powers of the queen to bypass democratic scrutiny. 
The film was made in 2004. An update on further duplicity can be read on the Wikipedia site for the islands. 


A further £100 million over three years is to be invested in the NHS to help reduce the numbers of people waiting to be discharged from hospital has been announced by Shona Robison. 

The funding will be used to support health boards and local authorities deliver good quality care and support for people at home.

Whatever your politics this is surely a good use of our money. 

When you have to be in hospital, that's where you have to be. I imagine very few people actually enjoy it, but it has to be.

But once you no longer need the hands-on 24-hour care, surely all most people want is to get out and finish your recovery in the comfort of you own home.

It's a win win situation too, because hospital beds are expensive and the fewer that are being used when they need not be, the more we can cut waiting times and improve the service we provide to their occupants. 

"Bed blocking" as it is sometimes called, has been a problem for as long as I can remember. It's good that the government is investing money to tackle it.

Monday, 26 January 2015


So, all weekend Jim has been pointing out that when he is first minister (a big question mark over that given that he's not even an MSP), he will not allow fracking in this country. (OK, you could split hairs and point out that the first minister can only propose policy, not insist on it, but in fairness to Jim, he knows that the Liberal(s), Greens, SNP would vote with him, as would the SSP should they have any MSPs by that time.) 

Given then, that commitment to a frack free Scotland, why did he fail to turn up to vote for the power to stop fracking to be devolved? 

At present, as I understand the situation, the Scottish government has powers over planning consent, and withholding that from fracking companies might mean delays to their plans. But any planning refusals could be, and might well be, overturned by the Westminster government on the basis that they were being maliciously employed in an attempt to circumvent UK law reserved to Westminster.  

In short this power must be devolved to Scotland.  If not Jim can huff and puff, but he won't be blowing any houses down if the power stays at Westminster. (This might be convenient to him of course ... I'd do it if I had the power!)

Jim controls all Scottish Labour MPs ... They are nothing to do with Miliband, because Jim is NOT a branch office supervisor like Jola was. Oh no, Sir. He's the real deal. Miliband's equal.

Of course we know that Jim was too busy today to bother turning up at his place of work to do his job and vote for a policy proposed by one of his own minions, that would give the power over fracking to the Scottish parliament. But why did he not instruct his own MPs, the ones who report directly to him remember, to vote in favour?

Jim incidentally was too busy to go to London and vote because he was engaged in a game of Keepy-Uppy whilst attired once again in shorts. (I feel it might be appropriate at this point to bring to the attention of the press office at Scottish Labour, that whilst some politicians half dressed and showing off their legs, might well be considered to be an asset to their party, Jim is not among their number. I've seen better legs on a chicken.

As one lady I overheard today (a Labour supporter too) said :"LESS ...LESS!"

This of course is another possibility.
While Jim was away maybe Miliband got his whips out.
Don't want to go upsetting big money like that.
You have to ask yourself what they are for these Labour politicians.
See what I mean?
 Seriously he's no bonny with his clothes on, but
half naked? Jeeeeeeez.
Well, our policy will be one of the above... whichever one will
buy us the most votes at the time.
Fracking isn't the only thing they get mixed up about.
Oh no, his pants are on fire.
Maybe that's why he's always showing up in shorts.


Iain Duncan Smith claims that coalition government reforms are helping people back into work.

But yet another whistle blower, an ex Jobcentre official, John Longden,  has come forward with evidence that Jobcentre bosses have been instructing staff to inconvenience and agitate customers in order to encourage them off the books.  Staff who failed to meet sanctions targets each month are threatened with disciplinary action. The people they laughingly call “customers” are set up to fail from day 1.
Helps though, when you get an 11% pay rise,
doesn't it?
People, it seems, are being bullied off the dole. Staff have been told to annoy claimants, to change appointments without telling them. Sanctioned claimants are considered, for the purposes of government statistics, to be in employment, that is to say, no longer claiming benefits for being unemployed. This makes the figures look better, and saves the DWP budget for more important things like paying £39 for breakfast for Smithy, or buying his underpants on expenses.
Stephanie  killed herself because
she couldn't pay the bedroom tax.
There are reports of people being sanctioned for ridiculous reasons like...being 1 minute late for an appointment, for applying for the 'wrong' jobs, for missing an appointment whilst at an interview, for turning down a job interview becasue the client was already attending another job interview at the same time...even for failing to complete and interview because of having a heart attack in the middle of it! 
IDS's ambition. To be first at something!
Some of the people affected by unfair sanctions are having to borrowing money or visit food banks, but some have nowhere to turn and have died from hunger or cold, or have committed suicide.

We pay taxes for the Jobcentre system to exist. It is right that people be helped to find work, and that those who show a reluctance to do so should be sanctioned. But it seems to me that we are paying taxes to have people unfairly targeted in order to save the face of Iain Duncan Smith, who has made a complete mess of the benefits system, like everything else he has ever turned his hand to.

We have to get rid of him and his team of evil ministers, McVile and Fraud. The trouble is that the alternative Labour shadows would be every bit as vile.

Saturday, 24 January 2015


We know the election in May is going to be close. Every vote will count - and your support could be the difference between a better future with the Conservatives, or the chaos of an Ed Miliband-led government committed to more borrowing and higher taxes.

With so much at stake, Conservative supporters across the country have been making pledges to vote in this vital election.


William Hague


Munguin was surprised to receive this email from William Hague today. Still, as he said, it's always nice to hear from the people who are running the country. Actually he added "into the ground" at that point.

He was somewhat less than pleased when he discovered that, although the Tories have spent the last 5 years making sure that every halfpenny that they can take form the poor is given to the rich, when it comes to funding their reelection the grippy gits have got their eyes on the cash or ordinary hardworking Munguins (well hardish working) and their much harder working Tris's...

Twenty Quid???? Pffffffff. Yeah right!

Munguin did find an old half penny piece down the back of the settee. If Hague wants it he can come up to Munguin Towers and get it, but I'd rather he didn't bring his friend!


Look at the state of that prat.
I wonder what pantomime he's in!
Alibaba and the Houses of Parliament Thieves?
I've been reading on Twitter since yesterday about how the "UK" was flying flags at half mast because of the death of the Saudi king.

It is worth saying that wherever else they were lowered, flags were not flying at half mast in Scotland. 

A Scottish government spokesman said that it was not the custom in Scotland to fly flags at half masts for foreign heads of state who had died.

Both Ruth Davidson and Jim Murphy seemed to be in agreement about this. Ruth was particularly scathing about the Saudi regime, its treatment of women and of course its harsh regime of punishments for a wide variety of non offences, including blogging. Particular credit to her given that Cameron positively foamed at the mouth over his late majesty. Miliband was less effusive, but still diplomatically polite.

The Saudi king is a dictator. There isn't any sort of democracy in the country. And yet at the drop of a hat the UK, which seems to spend a great deal of money trying to force democracy on dictatorial regimes in the Middle and Near East, which are not overseen by royals, sends the prime minister and Charlie out to fete the new king at enormous expense. Surely Po-Face Hammond and some junior royal like Eddy or one of the ugly sisters, would have done fine, and possibly cost a bit less. Still spare no expense where the nobs are concerned, that's their motto!
Help yourself to anything you want.
The plebs are paying.
Of course we know that the regime in Saudi buys vast quantities of British arms. And, as it never seems to go to war with anyone itself, I can only imagine that it either uses them to keep its own people down, or it gives them over to terrorist organisations which support its hard line religious views.

But it seems that the UK economy is dependent on these weapons sales and that they can't afford to upset the sheiks lest they go to France or China for their weaponry.

Anyway, rant over about Saudi. I just wanted to clear up the lie that because England has lowered its flags in honour of the man, that necessarily means that Scotland has done the same.
Neither, should I add, did we lower the flags to commemorate the death of Mr Leon Brittan, although, listening to some of the tributes that he got from his Tory mates, you'd have thought the man was a saint and should get a £15 million state funeral like Thatcher. (Yes, I know it was reported to have cost £8 million, but that excluded security costs... and can you image the security for such a divisive figure?)
AWWWWW, sweet!

Friday, 23 January 2015


It's certainly the biggest!
Farage can seriously damage your health
She deserves a pay rise. Imagine having that patronising you for an hour?
Mr Chilcot must be a slow writer.
Because Tony has told us that it's nothing to
do with him, and he wouldn't lie, would he?
Erm, yeah!
Socialist to his boots... Only he doesn't have boots!
She sounds a charmless soul.
Does she know where Omagh is?
How does she connect it with the SNP?
Perhaps she'd like to explain to us, because it the SNP had anything
 to do with Omagh, I think we need to know.
Vous accusez, Madame?
Don't be silly. It would irritate the people who might give
nomark politicians a job when the public gets sick of them.
Ahhhh, Omagh?
What a difference a Cabinet meeting in London made.
I see the work of the evil monster IDS in this.
Jim Murphy, meet Jim Maxton.
He was a Labour MP.
You've probably never heard of him. He came before Tony Blair.
Not been a good week for Labour.
The Barnett Formula was supposed to be safe ...
...wasn't it?
Oh yeah, that other great gaping hole into which we throw money
for a pile of weirdos and perverts to amuse themselves with.
Don't panic; don't panic. They don't like it up 'em, these Jock Fuzzy Wuzzies!

Thursday, 22 January 2015


Him all in blue, and her in red and tartan.
I see that the Scottish TUC had something to say about the proposals for the devo super max, federalism released today by the British prime  minister.

I wonder if the newly socialist, newly Scottish, Scottish Branch office has anything to say on the subject. Are they with the TUC or the Tories?

"Despite being represented on the Scotland Office Stakeholder Group to consult on the draft clauses, the STUC was not given sight of the final details.

"STUC will now analyse this paper in some detail, however it is already clear that in key areas such as welfare and capital borrowing, the recommendations will not match the intentions of the Smith Commission proposals.

“It is unacceptable that the Scottish Parliament should require Westminster approval to create new benefit entitlements in Scotland. The current proposals will also seriously hamper the ability of the Scottish Parliament to make different fiscal choices by tying Scotland to UK deficit reduction targets.

“Given that the STUC was underwhelmed by totality of the Smith Commission proposals, this further watering down of the promise that was made to voters in Scotland is unacceptable. The UK Government will present today’s publication as significant progress, but the truth is that we are not even at the end of the beginning of progress to meaningful additional devolution.

“It is now vital that the fullest possible public consultation is conducted, including a citizen-led process. It is also a matter of particular importance that the Scottish Labour Party looks very carefully at these clauses and takes a clear view on whether they meet its aspirations and the spirit of the Smith Commission proposals.”

Any comment Mr Murphy, Ms Dugdale, Ms Baillie.... Anyone?

I did all this: It was me that got you all these watered down fig leafs.
Me, I tell you. I saved the banks, I saved the world and I saved the union.
Now I'll save the universe.
Take that Alistair Loser Darling, you couldnt even save your membership
of the Faculty of Advocates!
Well somehow the BBC managed to unearth Gordon Brown from whatever 6 star hotel he's staying at, and he's enthusiastic. 

So he is clearly on the side of the Tories. Surprise surprise!

Brown said he was pleased that there are new powers "of huge significance in employment and welfare that no one can undervalue with credibility".

He added: "Two issues have dominated Scottish politics for the past 30 years: the call for action on jobs and social justice.

"And the Scottish Parliament will now have substantial powers in both areas, as well as in tax matters, which will enable it to secure jobs and make decisions in fairness for the people of Scotland.

"This will ensure the new Scotland Act is a modern version of home rule for Scotland in an interdependent world."

It appears that dogged persistence, threats of legal action, and the prime minister of Britain saying that he would withdraw unless the Green Party were included in leaders' debates ahead of the British elections in May have in the end worked in favour of democracy. The BBC carry a story that their debate will include all 7 leaders of major parties on the British mainland.
Icelandic tv debate with more that 4 people!
Cunning lot these foreigners!
The original proposals had been for the two major parties along with UKIP and the Liberals having a four-way debate. Not unreasonably, given the minority nature of both UKIP and the Liberals, other parties wondered why they were to be excluded.

Various excuses were trotted out including how difficult it would be to manage a debate with so many people but that was put to bed somewhat embarrassingly when it was pointed out that Scandinavian countries and Ireland all manage to organised them.

There were then a series of arguments about the minority nature of the other parties which wanted to participate, including:

That it was a prime ministerial debate (a silly argument in a parliamentary democracy, where the majority of us do not get a vote for a potential prime minister, and in any case, why would Clegg or Farage be included in such a debate?). 

And that the SNP, Plaid and the Greens were not national parties... (but then neither is Labour as it fields no candidates in Northern Ireland).

So far the BBC has announced the parties' inclusion on its website, but at the time of writing it hadn't bothered to inform the party leaders of the decision so we base this on the BBC website. 

I wonder what will happen if the Irish parties wish to get involved. Will Cameron support them as he supported the Greens?

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Quite right too. The poor souls hardly get by.
And they do such sterling work. I was listening to their farmyard
 impressions at PMQs today.
They should all have parts in a circus.
Good idea, and then the people who are unemployed
 and don't live in towns won't be able to go for jobs.
And those with sick /elderly relatives won't
 be able to provide transport for them
or go to shops, and those who are only out of work
 for a few weeks will have to sell their cars
and start again when they get jobs.
Just how moronic do you have to be to get into UKIP?
Is Stephen Hammond thick enough?
I'm sure you will get your reward in hell, Smith.
There's a cheering thought.
Yep, you're all jolly good Eton sorts.
How much did you get for your mother, Dave?
Maybe that idiot Donohoe was right. Maybe there's a Russian sub trundling up
past the BBC right now, but the blinds are down and no-one is answering
the phone in Manchester, so they can't get permission to open them
 and we'll never know... unless Spud is out for another run?
If it worked it might be worth the hell we are going through.
But it doesn't work, except of course for the likes of the grasping
 chubby idiot in the top picture.
And Margaret Thatcher/John Major were all the fault of the SNP.
Vinegar Mags says they were voting to balance the books.
30 billion pounds to wipe out the £1.5 trillion black hole?
Give me strength, Mags.
I expect you'll give your pay rise (if you're re-elected)
to the local food bank?
So what, they will say, they are only Scots...
We'd never be stupid enough to have the bombs
anywhere near our cities!
My granny has always said that up to 40 you have
 the face you were born with.
After 40 you get the face you've earned.
This must have been Thatcher at 41!
Your country needs you, Gordon.
So, if you see this report to your boss right away.
he wishes to make use of you again.
The Captain of the Titanic wasn't named Cameron, was he?