Thursday, 27 November 2014

TORIES WATER DOWN SMITH COMMISSION REPORT AND THE NATIONAL BECOMES A PERMANENT FIXTURE

I'm not going to dwell for long on the Smith Commission report. The matter has been better dealt with today on many blogs, not least Wings.

I never thought its findings would amount to much, although I felt we owed it the chance to report. But as long as there was to be Barnett pocket money from Westminster, and as long as they kept our oil and export revenues, we were never going to have the money to do what we need to do to stop our kids starving and our old folk dying of the cold.

We were promised something approaching federal government in Edinburgh. Gordon Brown said it, and gave, at least to my ears, the impression that he was speaking, with the authority of the Prime Minister.

What has been reported today is as near to federalism as Iceland is to New Zealand. 

The minute that, on the 19th September, Cameron linked Scottish devo-super-plus, as someone at the time called it, with English Votes for English Laws (EVEL), the whole vow thing started unravelling.

Because, EVEL will mean that the (until now) habitual 40 or so Labour MPs will be unable to influence law making in England. As we all know, unlike the Celtic countries in the union, England's domestic affairs are dealt with by the UK parliament. Domestic affairs keeps the Celtic parliaments or assemblies busy for 3 days a week. It wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that Westminster spends the bulk of the week, most weeks, on English legislation. If there were a Labour government with a majority dependent on their Scottish contingent, they would effectively not be the government of England, even though they could command a majority on UK-wide matters.

Cameron, quite rightly, will not give in on this. In his case this is likely because UKIP and his own English backbenchers are snapping at his heals, and because he sees it as a way to unseat Labour. But a fairer minded person would have to agree that it is a travesty of justice that Scottish MPs can vote on Justice, Education, Health, Law and Order, in England (with no responsibility to constituents for their votes) and yet English MPs cannot vote of these matters in Scotland (or Wales or Ulster).

Apparently the original findings of the Smith Commission have already been watered down by the Cabinet (particularly by the awful May woman, who wants to be prime minister, and by Iain Duncan Smith who appears to want to murder all sick, unemployed and old people). When Carmichael reported to the London Cabinet on Tuesday there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Added to this, one Tory MP pointed out that laws are not made by David Cameron. They are made by parliament, and as presently constituted, the Westminster parliament consists of 533 English MPs to 59 Scottish, 40 Welsh and 18 Ulster representatives.

It's not hard to see then why Scotland is unlikely to be the winner in all of this.

**********
The National is here to stay. The initial print run on Monday was 60,000. On Tuesday they had increased it to 100,000. But there were distribution problems, and some of the supermarkets refused to stock the paper. The initial hopes were for a sale of between 15,000 and 30,000.

However, with daily sales way in excess of competitors like the Scotsman and Herald, (The Herald sells around 38,000 a day and the Scotsman around 27,000) it seems that the paper has decided that it has a market. There are plans to develop it into a permanent feature of the Scottish press. 

I asked Tesco why it was not stocking the paper. Was it, I wondered because they didn't agree with its politics. They replied that once the paper decided whether or not it was to continue publishing, they would review their policy. I look forward to that decision.

Morrison's still do not stock it, nor did I see it in Sainsbury's. I don't use Asda.

To have sold over 50,000 copies each day without the supermarkets on board is quite an achievement. 
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55 comments:

  1. Hi Tris, Tesco's in Dundee had National in this evening, as did Sainsbury's in Edinburgh this afternoon. It's a great read and I'm sure all the main supermarkets will stock it soon as the readership figures improve. It's a great wee paper!

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    1. Ah great, Alan. I wonder what made Tesco change their minds. I tweeted them about it and they certainly replied that they would make the decision after the trial period. Maybe customer pressure.

      I imagine that if it is going to have good circulation they will want to stock it.People who buy their newspaper elsewhere, may buy their sandwiches, fags, confectionery and juice for lunch elsewhere too...

      Every little bit...erm.... whatever.

      :)

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  2. Worryingly, the BBC didn't include the National in 'What the Scottish Paper's Say' today. Was this just a blip? With such a great front page tomorrow it would be seriously off if the BBC didn't publish it on their website .... why include the Hootsman and other minor Scottish titles if it can't include a paper with over 50,000 copies selling every day?

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    1. I'd hasard a guess it's because they can guarantee that the headline will not be what the BBC wants to get across.

      The Beeb seems to have little interest in the truth and a great deal of interest in getting over Labour's point of view.

      Jim Murphy for king, or whatever it is he wants to be...

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  3. The Smith Commission represents a total victory for the coalition parties. Tories and LibDem got what they wanted, a more radical set of proposals for devolution than anything Labour wanted.

    EdBalls said income tax devolution would only happen 'over his dead body'. Well someone must have dispatched the chap, 'cos Labour has finally caved into the inevitable and backed this vitally important step.

    Is it enough? No, not if you think like me and want to see devolution of everything to Holyrood EXCEPT foreign and defence policy.

    But better this step in the right direction, safely inside the Union; than risk everything in a separatist state.

    Stability, more devolution, safety. That is the priority.

    But I will say this: isn't it amazing how a couple of poll leads for the SNP can concentrate Labour minds down in London?

    Also: can we of the 55% finally ignore the griping, moaning, mewling noises coming out of the 45% now? Smith honours the vow. Let's get back to business as usual please. Enough with the minority obsession with the constitution! Scotland said NO, and we can now say NO MORE to the 45%.

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    1. You'll not be surprised to know that I disagree with you, Dean.

      There is something exceedingly suspicious about all these Labour people who suddenly want income tax totally devolved. Until last week they all took the Brown line that it would be a disaster, including the muppet Murphy. Now they are frothing at the mouth to accept it. That, to me, spells some sort of underhand deal. It was the great saviour of the union, Gordon Brown, who first said that income tax devolution was a bad thing. And on its own it is. You can't put income tax up (or down) without making a change in other taxes, most notably a big one like VAT.

      And, in any case, they have all agreed that any settlement must be fiscally neutral. So no matter what happens in Scotland, it must not be allowed to be better off.

      The next thing that worries me is that the findings of Mr Smith's commission were given to the London Cabinet on Tuesday and they had to be watered down, because, most notably, May and Smith didn't like them.

      The Smith Commission is no longer the Smith Commission... it is the Smith, Theresa May/Iain Duncan Smith Commission. It's shouldn't be up to the Cabinet what is in it. It is up to Smith's team to put his suggestions to parliament. Why should Smith get the blame for the fact that the power hungry in London are against losing any power?

      I'm glad you are a federalist, Dean, but like Anon, below, I can't imagine why anyone would want Defence and Foreign policy looked after by a bunch of warmongering lickspittles of America.

      Quite besides the idiotic money they waste on a weapon they can't use, in order to make themselves look like they matter, and the number of British soldiers who are killed in pointless and sometimes illegal wars and almost always counter-productive, there is the fact that the MoD is one of the most inefficient organisations in the country.

      Apparently their purchasing is so ridiculous that they pay over the odds for everything, including the most mundane of ordinary items that I could buy at a tenth of the price at Aldi.

      Foreign policy too is all about being important and by and large driven by Ukip these days, with their 2 MPs. Where not, it is dictated by Washington DC with an unhealthy dollop of xenophobia and superiority thrown in.

      It costs us a fortune and makes us look old fashioned, pathetic and needy of the big boys' approval.

      If I was going to reserve anything to London it certainly wouldn't be these two fabulously expensive and badly run things.

      In any case, do you not think that Scotland could run its own foreign policy? How does a little country like Iceland manage it?

      We have different priorities in Scotland from those in the South East of England. We don't like foodbanks; we don't like cold old folk; we don't like people thrown out of their homes because benefits (that have been criticised by the Council of Europe for being niggardly) are cut for people who are deemed to have too many bedrooms, despite there being no homes for them to move to.

      We need to create jobs, get the economy going, and we need to do it our way. Their way is to manipulate figures so that it looks good. Never mind the poor sods trying to live on zero-hour contracts or part time jobs, as long as IDS's figures can be fiddled to make it look like he isn't the useless lying bastard that he really is.

      I think the 55 is a good deal less than 55 now, Dean.

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    2. Excellent response there, Tris. Personally, I see fun and games ahead if cameron, quite rightly in my opinion, goes ahead with the proposed English voters for Engish matter whilst Labour have to rely on Scottish votes. That situation could spoil as beautiful friendship. Labour also have to convince many of their traditional voters in Scotland that they are a left-wing party whereas they have to convince would-be UKIP voters in England that they are not a left-wing party. I see trouble ahead and hopefully we can take advantage of the confusion..

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    3. Thanks, John.

      Your point there about left and right is a perfect illustration of why our two countries don't really work in union any more, and why trying to have a party that relates to both countries is more or less an impossibility.

      I know the Tories still get a fair number of votes in Scotland, but nothing like they used to get. Because their Spiv policies don't longer appeal. (Also, despite what wee Ruth says, people DO remember Thatcher. Even people who weren't alive when she was King.) The Tories changed from a pasty of noblesse oblige, to one of second hand car salesmen and in any case social attitudes have changed. The lower orders no longer "respect" their "betters", with the possible exception, among some, of the Queen.

      Liberals went on doing well in Scotland after the 80s... in fact they probably did well out of the demise of the Tories. Now of course, more or less, they ARE the Tories. David has cunningly used their mad desire for power and money and more or less eradicated them as a political force.

      He may be doing the same thing to Labour now. EVEL will mean that even if labour were to win a UK election, they wouldn't actually be in government, and if Cameron manages to pull off the "no vote on income tax", they will cease to be a credible party of government (Brown's and Balls' argument against devolution of income tax, I imagine).

      Faced with permanent Tory/UKIP government in London, I'm pretty sure that Scotland will vote for independence.

      I don't doubt for a minute that Nicola will make the most of every opportunity to get more power from Scotland.

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    4. Or we could just wait another 15minutes Dean, for you to change your mind again and vehemently (and absolutely) start another diatribe of support for the thing you just previously finished vehemently (and absolutely) condemning. Reading you , is like being trapped on a merry go round. First it's Dean the Tory, then it's Dean the stalwart Labour man, then Labour for Indy, now it's what? Libdem 'federalist' ? Soon you will just be left with UKIP Dean.

      You might as well, as that's the direction of travel your NO vote has left the real UK powerplays. Is that why you favour the Westminster deciding on Foreign affairs for us Dean? Whatever happened to your devout love of the EU. UK 'unity more important than that now?

      braco

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    5. Sorry Dean but I wonder why you want Westminster or War minster as I call it, to control Defence and Foreign Affairs. You cannot call yourself a country if you leave those functions with your next door neighbour. Sort of leaving your decision as to who you are not speaking to or who you are friends with to your actual neighbour, and I doubt you would care for that. Believe me I have no problem with co-operating with all our neighbours, I just do not want them to run my country in any fashion.

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    6. Concur braco he's making me dizzy.

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    7. LOl... it's personal development. As you grow older you change.

      But Dean's changes are a bit on the rapid side... I'd admit.

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    8. Dean, simply you as a representative of the 55, as you would have it, are talking pish.

      Jimnarlene

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  4. I'll never understand why anyone would want to reserve foreign policy and defense with WM. Could you enlighten me?

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    1. Totally agree (as I pointed out in my answer to Dean). Madness. They are so very bad at it.

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    2. I'm not sure how they have the nerve to call them "defence matters"?

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    3. It's the Ministry of War.

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  5. Tris

    First things first, Dean you are wrong I'm afraid. I agree with many of your points on previous posts but if you think that there is safety in the UK I suspect you are in for a very rude awakening in the next couple of years, esp around things like pensions. I also think you might find the 45% are the 45% + now and are not going anywhere. The no side got 55% but I suspect many were swayed by ' The Vow ' and decided to give the UK one last chance, for many that's gone now.

    On to Smith, I blogged yesterday about this as I was very angry. I never suspected that Scotland would get much and knew that whatever came along would be fiscally neutral to ensure that no matter what the Scottish Government did it would not be able to finanacially improve Scotlands position, therefor having little scope to improve areas such as employment and poverty. However, Westminster did surprise me with the amount of powers that they kept reserved, like equalities and health and safety.

    The Smith Commission is a betrayal that will come back to haunt them and I suspect is the final nail in the coffin of the UK, but for different reasons than English MPs think. The 55% are going to discover that they are in fact a minority now and they will see another referendum within I would guess 7 to 10 years. This might be sooner if Cameron stupidly pushes ahead with his English nationalism agenda that is not really about power for England but power over everyone else and to kill off Labour and settle their righ wing anti europe problem within large parts of England.

    Like Tris I won't say anymore, you can read my blog if you want to read a rant or you can go on Wings for an excellent analysis of the report and in fact some excellent home truths.

    bruce

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    1. I've always said that we should give them the chance to do what they promised.

      Federalism.

      Now it appears that that means very little, The list of matters still reserved are quite stunningly large.

      I actually mentioned you post on here (as I can't post on your blog). It was excellent.

      Wings, Mr Murray and many other blogs have done a great job on pulling this half cocked set of proposals to pieces.

      And i agree with you, and most other commentators that, if they do this all wrong then it will come back to bite them.

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    2. I always seem to agree with Bruce and this is no exception. I said a few times that those who Voted NO were the ones who would suffer most by what is bound to be betrayal by those at Westminster.
      I have yet to work out why and how those who say the do not trust Politicians actually trusted Gordon Brown et al, or did they. I tend to think that there are a certain amount of British Unionist out there who would never vote for Independence but I think there were enough who jumped at the Vow like a drowning man.
      Federalism was raised in the comments sections of British Newspapers a few times and I always said it was never going to be on offer, if it had it would have been a long time ago, I doubt it would have satisfied in the end either.
      The only cure for the Yoo Kay is independence for all the Nations, Then they can co-operate as they wish, if they wish on things which are in their mutual interest, but England and it is always England needs to understand this does not mean they get to dominate as they do now.
      We know that they cannot get into the idea with Europe, how much worse with those they see as defeated.

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    3. Bruce says it like it is with a dollop of common sense.

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  6. I subscribed this morning to a 6 month electronic version.

    Then we will know in several senses.

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    1. Excellent Panda...

      There's another weekly coming out too... The Scottish Independent.

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  7. First class piece here...

    http://www.businessforscotland.co.uk/smith-commission-falls-short-of-devolution-vow/

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  8. Read bits and pieces of the report. We all know that the Commission would not amount to nothing generally. Plus at this stage, they are all MERE recommendations. Wait till they go to the Commons and Lords. Might be watered down some more (touch wood, but not holding my breath:P).

    However the crumbs that have been thrown from the tables are blessing in disguise. I personally like the part Scottish Parliament get to make all laws in relation to its governance.

    The one I particularly like is road signage law being devolved. One of the blogs I that I have read said signage may be trivial but it can act like a visceral register. If Scotland does get the power to change road signage, it should do so. This can show that a driver in entering Scotland; a different country (for the time being in UK). This at the end will permeate in the subconscious and hopefully will manifest into the consciousness.

    The indyref taught me to be anal :P

    p/s: I finally figured out how to subscribe The National online.

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    1. Yet to subscribe though...money is a bit tight now :(

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    2. Ha ha ha... Hmmm, yep, that is a tad anal!!!

      I thought road signs were pretty international.

      So it's not going to be much, but I take your point that you create a different atmosphere with different signs.

      The trouble is it would be a ridiculous waste of money to change them, so the change would be gradual.

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    3. Yes it would be costly and I agree that money must be spent on matters more pressing. I place my caveat though, that all must remember this is also a psych-war. The Union must be broken beyond repair so that history will not repeat itself. For me in hindsight [some] Scots had some self doubt and were hesitant to grasp the thistle during the indyref. However the indyref did what it was supposed to do and the Union will never be the same again. Like I said "retak menanti belah".

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    4. I'm not going to attempt any Malay this time :)

      I know a lot of people who were just too scared to grasp the thistle (as you eloquently put it). Much of this was down to the lies that were told about pensions and anyone with an English accent being told they would be persecuted... or Poles told they would be made to leave Scotland, or Pakistanis warned that they would be set on.

      I've seen many Labour people, some of them ex-officials, resign becasue their party was involved in these dirty tricks. Scaring pensioners wasn;t supposed to be Labour philosophy.

      I think the union is now broken. Possibly mainly because the furore has caused English people to start thinking about who they are, and in particular why their laws are voted on my Scottish MPs...

      Once the larger, more important English population kick off, parliament will have to listen.

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  9. Dean voted against us just like the rest of his fellow country folk from that other part of the UK
    Wullie

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    1. Hopefully, Willie, we will be able to change his mind eventually...

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    2. What other part of the UK might that be Wullie?

      You might not know, but I'm living and working in China these days. And the days when any part of China was 'that other part of the UK' are long since dead!

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    3. LOL... No gunboats to send now, Dean.

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  10. Usual high standard of blog, but one pedantic point: 'Ulster' includes Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal which are in the Republic or Ireland. They got out around 90 years ago and don't need any benchwarmers at Westminster to interfere in their affairs.

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    1. Thanks Iain. I should have known that! And I didn't. I don't think it pedantry though.. It's a bit insulting to the folks of Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal that I got their nationality wrong!

      I should call it NI form now on.

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  11. I complained in my Tesco's twice about The National not being available. Looks like I won!!!

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    1. Good. Well done. This is actually exactly what we need to do about things like this.

      We can't have the likes of Tesco censoring us.

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  12. Replies
    1. Bastards.

      Jimnarlene

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    2. Iain Duncan Smith...

      Why is he still there?

      I have three theories (well, I've two and my mother suggested the third):

      1/ He knows where some bodies are buried in Cameron's past.

      2/ As an ex leader he has a faction and the leadership decided that although he's an incompetent moron, it is better to have the likes of him (and his mates) inside the tent pissing out, than the other way around.

      3/ (Mother's theory, which I think is valid) The Tories are genetically programmed to dismantle the welfare state. IDS is a despicable little oink. Dismantling the welfare state will be massively unpopular with people here and across the developed world. Whoever does it will go down in history as a complete bastard. IDS is a despicable little oink. Everyone hates him already... He's made for the job...scapegoat him...

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    3. Voting 'NO' didn't mean I voted positively for foodbanks. To claim that is nonsense. If we'd voted YES, there'd still be foodbanks on the first day of independence.

      Oh, and please don't call me a 'bastard' 'cos I didn't vote the way the SNP would have preferred. In a fucking democracy, I'm permitted to disagree and not be attacked for it, or hounded with vile abuse.

      This is just another example of cybernats at work with Anon up there.

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    4. It's fair to say that one of the first things that a Scottish government (probably even a labour/liberal one would ahve done would be to spend the bonus of not paying for trident on attempting to make sure that people, no matter their circumstances, had enough money to pay for food.

      It wouldn't have happened overnight, but Tories aside, I see no SCOTTISH party that would accept that as anything other than plain evil.

      Currently the Labour and Liberal parties in Scotland are too much controlled by their bosses in London.

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  13. I'm totally confused about Dean now.

    Is he still gay?

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    1. Hmmm... that's the kind of question I don't ask people, Conan.

      :)

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    2. I remember, the student Dean, Tory through and through...

      Just like the Chinese Politburo.

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    3. My Chinese boyfriend and I are very happy together here in China.

      (Do you want to ask him if I'm still gay or not Conan?)

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  14. Sainsbury's in Craigleith, Edinburgh, do stock the National.

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    1. Seems the big stores have seen the light.

      Anyone still having problems?

      How about Inverness and Caithness?

      I don't suppose you've got it on the islands yet, John?

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  15. Spar in the wee village of Carrbridge stock the National
    Wullie

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  16. Good afternoon Mr King



    Thank you for contacting us.



    I can confirm Morrisons is unable to stock The National due to a lack of space in store. Stocking this trial newspaper would require us to remove other titles, including local newspapers. However, we will continue to monitor how the newspaper performs and will review this again in due course.







    Thank you once again for contacting us.



    Kind regards


    Benjamin Kargans

    Customer Services Department
    Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC

    ReplyDelete
  17. Apparently its such a big paper and morrisons are so poor they cant afford to extend their newspaper stands!
    who knew?

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    1. Thanks for that info John.

      Another supermarket gone to the bottom of my shopping list.

      Soon it will just be Aldi, Lidl and Home Bargains. Fortunately, the cheaper ones.

      Maybe we should donate a counter for them....?

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