Friday 31 December 2010

A Guid New Year to Ane An' A'

A guid new year to ane an' a'
An' mony may ye see,
An' during a' the years to come,
O happy may ye be.
An' may ye ne'er hae cause to mourn,
To sigh or shed a tear;
To ane an'a baith great an' sma'
A hearty guid new year.

A guid new year to ane an' a'
An' mony may ye see,
An' during a' the years to come,
O happy may ye be.

2. O time flies past, he winna wait,
My friend for you or me,
He works his wonders day by day,
And onward still doth flee.
O wha can tell when ilka ane,
I see sae happy here,
Will meet again and merry be
Anither guid new year.


3. We twa ha'e baith been happy lang.
We ran about the braes.
In yon wee cot beneath the tree,
We spent our early days.
We ran about the burnie's side,
The spot will aye be dear,
An'those that used to meet us there,
We'll think on mony a year.

4. Noo let us hope our years may be
As guid as they ha'e been,
And trust we ne'er again may see,
The sorrows we ha'e seen.
And let us wish that ane an'a'
Our friends baith far an' near,
May aye enjoy in times to come -
A hearty guid new year!

Thursday 30 December 2010


Prime Ministers and First Ministers always think of the glory (and attendant boost in popularity) when they manage to arrange or win a big event for their country. The Olympics and the Commonwealth Games are two obvious examples. They seem to draw the country together and push out the collective chest of England or Scotland. Ironically, even the loss of an event can foster patriotic feelings as happened in England when, despite Cameron’s shuttle diplomacy, England not only lost out, but did so in a spectacular style. Everyone from HRH William down to Bert in the pub was drawn together in collective hatred of FIFA whom, they all agreed were even more corrupt than the House of Lords!

Of course, once you have these things in place, you have to deliver. And there comes the payback. Costs rise 3 or 4 fold, security costs are probably double the cost of the event (although, conveniently, no one is allowed to know what we spend on security). Bit by bit the dirty deals become public and that transient popularity disappears like “sna affun a dyke”. You can be held to ransom by all manner of folks. Railway lines unfinished a week before the Queen is due to ride on the tracks to open the great event, are an embarrassment, and who knows what was paid to the people who had to get the Dome open on time.

So a few weeks ago Camerclegg was over the moon about the marriage of the Willie and Katie, which will doubtless cost enough to keep a hospital open for a year. The nation would be rejoicing; he promised us a holiday, although he quickly admitted it was the Queen who should pronounce on that, only to find out that it was in fact parliaments in all four countries which had to pronounce in it. He even appeared to have persuaded them to marry around the time of the General Elections in the Celtic countries and local elections in England, hopefully reducing the amount of coverage that these will get, and fostering a sense of joy and wellbeing.

If the individuals in the nation did not actually rejoice, as least the media rejoiced for them. The naysayers like me asked who would pay, and the answers came back that the Middletons and the Windsors would foot the bill (but not the security bill which will be in the hundreds of millions if not billions).

But now, of course, comes the downside. At a TUC meeting next month union bosses will make plans to take industrial action in protest at spending cuts between Easter, April 22 – 25, the royal wedding April 29 and the May Day bank holiday on May 2. A union spokesman said that the royal wedding would neither be targeted nor avoided. But we all know that it is the perfect time to cause disruption.

When the eyes of the world are upon England and London, with hundreds of thousands of tourists and more VIPs than you can shake a stick at, nothing will work! It’s a gift from the gods to unions.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “This could well be the year that the country starts to say ‘No’ to Government in a way that they have not since middle Britain made a previous Conservative government abolish the poll tax.”

Whatever is coming in 2011, it will be a bumpy ride for the government of Davnik Cleggeron!

Pics: (1) The Happy Couple; (2) Brendan Barber, TUC; (3) Most people who protest are not militant; (4) Scene from the poll tax riots of March 1990s, the beginning of the end for Mrs T!!

Wednesday 29 December 2010


Apparently the government in London wants banks to ask people to make a donation to charity when they make a withdrawal of cash. Shops and restaurants could also ask people using a card to make a small donation, perhaps rounding up to the pound, under the proposals. Under legislation expected in the spring, people could be asked to give money when they fill in tax returns, apply for passports, driving licences and other state services (social security?).

So basically they will guilt you into making a charitable donation. And those who are a bit embarrassed about seeming mean will probably make a bigger contribution than they want to. A guy with his g
irlfriend may be persuaded that she would fancy him a bit more if he was generous rather than mean, whether or not he can afford it.

As so many things at priced at £x.99, people would feel incredibly embarrassed about donating a penny, so they might feel obliged to make it up to the nearest fiver! Do that in 5 shops every Saturday and see how you last till the end of the month.

Hilariously, the spur to encourage bigger donations will be that the donor would be rewarded with a letter from a Minister ....WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And National Lottery winners who contributed a large sum would be publicized on television...!

What? I thought that television channels decided what was publicized, not the government!

Francis Maude, the minister who will launch this idea, which is alrea
dy operating in Mexico and Colombia, wishes to foster a culture of charitable giving. He wants to change social attitudes that encourage giving, which is strange, because the UK has an excellent record of giving to charity; in fact it is rated 8th most charitable nation in the world with 73% of people giving money a total of £10.6 billion per annum.

(Before we get too big headed, Britons are much less generous at donating their time by volunteering compared with many other countries possibly because we work longer hours than most other people.)

Mr Maude said: “If we can agree as a society the values that underpin helping each other we can unlock huge potential for a stronger, BIGGER society.” He said that he didn’t want to compel people to give, which is very very kind of him. But, you have to wonder, is it the next step?

Ministers apparently have concluded that individuals and businesses need to be reminded of the “warm glo
w” that results from helping others.

Oh have they?

How come we need to be reminded of that when 73% of the population already gives, and therefore presumably already feels the warm glow? Duh!

I actually checked my calendar when I read the article in the Telegraph. Was it, I wondered, April?

How bloody dare they? Like the majority of Scots I already make my charitable donations to organizations for which I have huge respect; organizations where I know that 100% of what I give will be used to help the target population.

I’d no more entrust my charitable giving to a bank, and thence the government, than I would paint the Scott Monument orange. Imagine entrusting your money to the Roy
al Bank of Scotland, or Tescos... for them to pass on to George Osborne!!! Yeah right!

They’ve come out with some halfwitted ideas so far; this just has to be the most insulting and ridiculous yet.

Pics: (1) The fabulous Scott Monument in Princes Street in Edinburgh. (2) Chuggers, or Charity Muggers in the street; they pick the vulnerable and won’t let them go till they have a donation. This will end up the same. (3) Francis Maude: If you had a son and the family name was Maude, would you call him a gender ambiguous name? Just a thought! (4) This kind of charity collection is intrusive, but easier to avoid if you don’t have faith in the organization, than being asked for a donation at the point of sale. (5) Maybe it would be better for Francis to encourage us to DO more rather than pay more. There is a far rosier glow from activity and that is where we have a shortfall on other countries.

Monday 27 December 2010


As Dean points out in a good post on Cameron and his future, another of the Tory’s manifesto promises, a revision of "hunting with hounds" legislation in England, has been dropped for the foreseeable future.

Quite apart from fox hunting, which is of only peripheral concern to me, the first thing I would suggest to Cameron is that he must try to keep some, or even one, of his manifesto promises.

Snide politicking apart, I think most people would accept that when a party has been out of government for a long time, there will be a certain fumbling at the beginning. A prime or first minister, who has never held a cabinet position himself (Cameron, Salmond, Blair for example), along with a government of inexperienced ministers at all levels, is bound to produce wobbles.

But the public has a short tolerance span. They have to hit the ground running and he needs to start getting things right.

On top of that Cameron has to share governance with a party which, in reality, comes from the other side of the spectrum, and whose leader seems to be the only one of its members who feels at ease with the PM’s party’s policies. Cameron's own party gives the impression of being decidedly put out about Liberals being treated more leniently than Tories when they err (eg Vince Cable et al) and being allowed to announce all the “good” policies (according to John Redwood).

Cameron’s policies are controversially Thatcherite in nature. He’s brought nothing new to the table (apart from a seemingly greater tolerance of gays and ethnic minorities within his party). But he means to slash public spending to bring down the deficit, in Thatcherite fashion. It’s a risky strategy. The USA, China, Japan, and Germany (the four largest economies in the world) have all chosen the opposite way of getting out of their economic problems... by stimulating the economy.

So far his education secretary has put his foot in his mouth every time he has opened it, and his health policies are, to put it mildly, controversial with doctors and public alike. Additionally, at least in the early stages more money for less health will be the result.

Cameron can look forward to inflation taking off, interest rates rising, house repossessions, rents soaring, no housing for the people made homeless... and his hopes of private industry taking up the unemployed slack is probably a little farfetched to begin with, and will be even less likely if loans are even more difficult or expensive to get.

Most people, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, don’t believe that the “we are all in this together” slogan (which seems to have disappeared recently from the coalition rhetoric) was ever even vaguely adopted by the rich and super rich, which includes a large number of the government.

The Big Society, which seems to be Cameron’s only real idea, is another possibly well meaning, but extremely vague notion that few understand and those who do think will work well, where it work, and be a disaster most other places. Likewise the English local government reorganisations with Parish Councils getting more powerf and funding will probably do relatively well in the leafy lanes, and fall flat on its face in the inner cities.

The government seems to be pinning its hopes on a successful royal wedding, and Olympics, to make Brits feel proud, patriotic and willing to display “L'esprit de Dunkirque”.

It’s a flimsy base on which to build a government.

Pics: (1) Hard to swallow Dave? Now you know how we feel. (2) Wee Gove wanting to strangle the civil servants that allowed him to make such a fool of himself in his first ministerial announcement: The one he had to retract the next day, only to find out that the retraction was all wrong too! (3) Vince Nuclear Cable. If he had been a Tory there would be a new Business Secretary, much to the Tories’ chagrin. (4) I couldn’t resist another pic of wee Govey. He’s such a fine looking fellow!

Sunday 26 December 2010


At age 4...success is...not peeing in your pants.

At age 10...success is...making your own meals.

At age 12...success is...having friends.

At age 16...success is...having a driving licence.

At age 20...success is...having sex.

At age 35...success is...having money.


At age 50...success is...having money.

At age 60...success is...having sex.

At age 70...success is...having a driving licence.

At age 75...success is...having friends.

At age 80...success is...making your own meals.

At age 85...success is...not peeing in your pants.

Saturday 25 December 2010


OK, that title was a bit daft, but it only took me a minute to do. I read a list of much more impressive anagrams recently, and I thought they might amuse you over this holiday time (oops sorry, CHRISTMAS TIME).

Clever anagrams...

"Dormitory" - Dirty Room

"Evangelist" - Evil's Agent

"Desperation" - A Rope Ends It

"The Morse Code" - Here Come Dots

"Slot Machines" - Cash Lost in 'em

"Animosity" - Is No Amity

"Mother-in-law" - Woman Hitler

"Snooze Alarms" - Alas! No More Z's

"Alec Guinness" - Genuine Class

"Semolina" - Is No Meal

"The Public Art Galleries" - Large Picture Halls, I Bet

"A Decimal Point" - I'm a Dot in Place

"The Earthquakes" - That Queer Shake

"Eleven plus two" - Twelve plus one

"Contradiction" - Accord not in it

"George Bush" - He bugs Gore

And some even cleverer anagrams...

"To be or not to be: that is the question, whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune." Anagram: In one of the Bard's best-thought-of tragedies, our insistent hero, Hamlet, queries on two fronts about how life turns rotten.

"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Anagram: A thin man ran; makes a large stride, left planet, pins flag on moon! On to Mars!

"President Clinton of the USA" Anagram: To copulate he finds interns.

(that's my favourite Danny!!)

Friday 24 December 2010


Goodness is it Christmas already? It just crept up on me since I first saw Christmas tat in the shops back in September... and then you blink and, well there's my old singing partner giving “Silent Night” her own soulful interpretation, from Reykjavík, Iceland, a couple of years ago at the Frost Roses festival.

So, anyways, Happy Christmas to all the gang.... And take it easy on the sherry Sophia!


First Minister's Questions can be found at Subrosa's place today.

Thursday 23 December 2010


I don’t belong to any church and I don’t consider myself to be religious, but that does not mean that I can’t respect religion and its adherents’ different beliefs. Over the last few days I’ve received Christmas greetings from a variety of people from different faith backgrounds:

Firstly, a close Hindu friend, currently working in Muslim Dubai, who, while at university here, explained a great deal to me about his faith. He is devout without being fanatical and one of the kindest people you will ever meet.

Then emails from several Muslim friends. They are gentle, peaceful people, one of whom took me to his Mosque and explained the tenets of his religion, so very far removed from the demented and distorted views held by the mad mullahs.

My mother is a Protestant Christian and I have been to church with her and, of course, over the years we have often discussed religion and her beliefs as they affect her daily life. She is a kind, good giving person and it’s hard to believe that she is of the same faith as the likes of Paisley or Terry Jones, who are so filled with hate for anything that is not them. They are not even on the same planet.

I have two close friends who are Jews. And once again they are kind and generous people, who always send Christmas cards. They are disheartened and sometimes horrified by the way that some of their fellow Jews treat Palestinians.

I have never once heard any Muslim, Jew, Agnostic or Hindu suggest that they were even slightly offended by the mention of Christmas, a Christmas tree, cards, carols or nativity plays. Au contraire, every single non-Christian person I know is perfectly at ease with Christmas. (Some may be against the blatant commercialism of Christmas; the fact that some retailers do 20% of their annual business in December at the price of so much misery and hardship!)

But every year out comes some “do-gooder” who thinks that we have to curb the festivities because it might offend someone of another faith. What absolute nonsense. We should never curb any of our traditional festivals for fear of upsetting others.... for the simple reason that we won’t.

So let’s have an end to the politically correct council officials who are being politically INCORRECT by blaming people of other or no faiths for being stupid, narrow minded bigots who object to Christians enjoying their festival! We’re not!

And at the same time can we please stop believing all the stories we read in 'The Sun' or 'The Daily Mail' on this subject. We don’t believe them about anything else, so why this?

Mostly when people are reported to have banned Christmas, they haven’t. Sometimes though, they have involved other people in the festival period along with Christians. And Christmas has been adapting for years. Where in the Bible are Santa Clause, Pine Trees, Shop till you Drop, Office Parties, Obligatory Drunkenness, Gluttony, Mistletoe, Turkey, Debt... (and worst of all Brussels Sprouts)? So starting the Winter Festival (which was here before Christianity) with Diwali and ending it with Christmas lights, is no bad thing.

Most ministers or priests understand this, but you can bet your life that the silly papers will have a pet nut-job priest who for a few quid will happily give a statement to them bemoaning the demise of Christmas, taken over by political correctness because of 'foreigners'.

Nah lads, it was taken over by commercial greed long, long ago and somehow that’s been missed.....


Christmas being Christmas and Scotland being Scotland, I thought that the following reminders might come in handy for some of my friends here...

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may make you think you are whispering when you are not.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol is a major factor in dancing like an ass.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to tell the same boring story over and over again until your friends want to SMASH YOUR HEAD IN.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to thay shings like thish.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at four in the morning.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may leave you wondering what the hell happened to your pants.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may make you think you can logically converse with other members of the opposite sex without spitting.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may make you think you have mystical Kung Fu powers.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to roll over in the morning and see something really scary (whose species and or name you can't remember).

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter and more handsome than some really, really big guy in the pub.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may lead you to believe you are invisible.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may lead you to think people are laughing WITH you.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause an influx in the time-space continuum, whereby small (and sometimes large) gaps of time may seem to literally disappear.

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may actually CAUSE pregnancy.

Don't say I didn't warn you...

Wednesday 22 December 2010



The Chairwoman of the Metropolitan Police Civil Liberties Panel has seen a video which shows protesters being crushed by police in a "kettle" during demonstrations against the tripling of university fees. She described it as "appalling" and "ghastly".

Victoria Borwick, has suggested that people should complain officially about the Met. Ms Borwick is a Tory member of the London Assembly government.

The Metropolitan Police Authority, which scrutinizes the work of the Met, said a senior officer must report formally on its tactics for controlling and policing demonstrations.

An Oxford University postgraduate student has presented them with a video shot on his cell phone showing protesters shouting that there is no room" where the riot police are pushing them at times with horses. One student calls out a warming that the police are going to kill someone if they carry on.

Ms Borwick said that she could hear distress in the people’s voices on the video, and whilst she did not think that people could run riot in London this kind of policing made people very, very angry.

The video was shot by a student, Musab Younis of Wadham College, Oxford. He says that he started filming outside parliament just after the result of the vote was announced.

The police were trying to push people further into Parliament Square: maybe around 1,000 people were being held next to Westminster tube station, around 20 metres from the bridge. The police moved in from both sides, crushing people who were hemmed in by a wall on one side, vans and horses on another side, and two lines of police. People who fell over were simply trampled

Mr Younis said that they appealed to the police on the front lines, telling them that there was no space, that there were people who were being badly hurt and having trouble breathing. He said that they were ignored and if you didn’t move, they would kick you in the shins.

But it wasn’t just young people who were kettled. David Hough, a 51-year-old supply teacher was also caught in up the kettle. He reported that it was like Hillsborough. People were squashed and were saying that they couldn’t breathe.
A public order policing and law expert from the University of East Anglia said that he thought that what the police were doing was, in fact, illegal.

Clearly these marches have to be policed, if for no other reason for the safety of people living in the areas, or those passersby who are not involved in the protest (although that didn’t do Mr Tomlinson much good). But perhaps if the police showed a little more tolerance of protesters and if they would treat protesters with a little more respect, then perhaps they would find there would not be the escalation that the poorly policed demos in London have seen.

Police need to remember that they are public servants. They are not there to protect MPs from the anger that is felt by people whom they are denying that which they themselves enjoyed.

Parts of the video can be viewed

London's police need to learn, and rapidly, how to deal with these protests. I seriously doubt that Osborne's plans to reduce spending on policing will be able to be applied to London. These demonstrations will not go away. It may not be students next time, but there will be a next time. Then there are the Olympics coming up and that is a perfect time to demonstrate. What with that, terrorism, and having to stop people entering the Olympics are wearing T shirts emblazoned with "Burger King" or "Pepsi Cola", the police are going to need to perfect their techniques. They have to remember that the TV cameras of the world will be here.

Tuesday 21 December 2010


Coalition government can be a good thing in my opinion. It can offer a more considered, thought out and less dogmatic approach to governance. But normally the parties involved have at least some policies in common, and have overall objectives broadly similar in direction of travel.

Having a centre left and a centre right party together in coalition was always going to be a risky business.

There have been problems from day one...well almost. Within a week of setting out on the journey to govern, one of the senior ministers, a Liberal, was forced to resign over financial irregularities in his expense claims. It was said that some Conservatives who had their hearts set on ministerial salaries were very unhappy about the number of Liberal Democrats in government. There has been anger too that Dave seemed to fold his tent at a hint of disapproval from Big Nick. In particular it is thought that Ken Clarke’s sentencing policies have their roots in lefty Liberals notions (given that it was a Tory pledge to jail people for having a knife, even if it was only to spread jam on croissants!)

On the other hand some very big guns in the Liberals have been less than happy with the way that their pledges to students up and down England have been ripped up because “of the economic situation”, so Nick says, but everyone knows it’s because Big Dave says so.

There have along the way been some very unhappy groans coming from backbenchers in both parties. The Tories had to be placated with promises that Dave would personally do something about the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, proving that good though education at Eton is reputed to be; they surely don’t cover the meaning of the word “independent”.

Nick has from very early on been trying to persuade the Liberals to embrace government, not seeming to notice that there are a lot of Liberals who aren’t actually IN government, and that comfy car and big office that he enjoys, is well...what HE enjoys. The drop to 9% in opinion polls has been hard to explain away.

And so to today. Everyone knows the story so only the briefest of recap here... Vince Cable meets two young giggly mothers in his constituency; they ask about child benefit payments and then use their womanly charms to get him to explain his take on the coalition (already rumoured to be less than favourable). Vince begins thinking like his evil twin Vice Cable and spills how he really feels, bragging that he could bring the government down if he walked... and that he is at war with Rupert Murdoch, who just happens to have a case before the Business Secretary (that’s you Vinny) to do with the takeover of BskyB. Ewwwwwwwww.

Now I’ve always been of the mind that silly little mistakes are no reason to sack a minister. There are so precious few with even the remotest hint of talent that it seems a shame to lose them because they couldn’t keep their trousers up or their skirts down... but when a minister is so openly stupid as to advertise his vendetta in a professional and quasi-legal matter over which he has ultimate power, to two people whom he has never seen before and who, of course, aren’t quite as stupid and giggly as they seemed, being in fact broadsheet reporters... then it’s time for that minister to pack up and go, voluntarily or otherwise.

And yet Vince is still in post tonight.


Monday 20 December 2010


Thanks to everyone who took the time to take part in the poll on the English police’s reaction to His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Duke of Rothesay, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, Prince of Wales, Knight of the Thistle, Knight of the Garter, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Bath, Member of the Order of Merit, Knight of the Order of Australia, Companion of the Queen's Service Order, Privy Counsellor, Aide-de-Camp, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Earl of Carrick* and his companion Her Royal Highness Mrs Parker-Bowles being disrupted on their way to the theatre in a Rolls Royce and provocatively bedecked with more bling that any of the rest of us are likely to see in our entire lives.

It had been suggested by the London police chief, Paul Stephenson, that his officers, specially attached to the royal personage, had only one duty, and that was to get their “principle” to where he was supposed to be going. Nothing else mattered. I remember listening to him and his mate Boris Johnston spluttering on about the outrage of the heir to the throne having to be delayed getting to the theatre, and Mrs Parker-Bowles frightened out of her life by ordinary but angry people. He was adamant that his men had behaved with restraint because they had the right to shoot people. ...And not one single soul had been shot! Goodness. Copngratualtions to the police for that excellent piece of work. And not a passing newspaper vendor killed either. Magical.

The argument then opened up beyond shooting peasants to the use of various and sundry other crowd control methods, such as tazers, tear gas and water cannon. Boris Johnston chuntered on in buffoonish fashion that we British peasants were lucky that, unlike these Europeans, OUR lovely rozers didn’t use these methods of crowd control. (Although that’s not entirely true, and they do in any, case kettle people for up to 12 hours without toilet facilities, charge at them on horseback, turn them out of their wheel chairs and drag them across the road, and of course kill the odd passerby on his way home from work (although clearly not if he is on his way to the theatrein a dinner jacket).

As they were talking, I was imagining what would have happened had the royal protection officers decided to kill a few people as examples to the rest, obviously in order that they complete successfully their mission of getting this "principle" to his night out. I had my ideas as to what would have followed, but I was interested to see how people, from a fairly wide political spectrum and an extremely wide geographical area, who read this blog, felt.

So, here we have the results:

83% felt that shooting the protesters would provoke much more severe problems including civil disobedience. (Personally I would be surprised if someone didn’t burn down Clarence House and then Scotland Yard and then the Houses of Parliament.)

14% felt that it would escalate crowd trouble.

I was actually quite surprised that only 5% thought it would be reasonable to use water cannon, tazers or tear gas, I’d have thought more might have been happy to see control brought back to the streets by these methods, used commonly elsewhere in Europe.

That 8% thought that the police should have shot people who were threatening a late arrival at the theatre of their Hallowednesses, was I thought, quite shocking.

But I suppose we should know that in this country, the value that is put on the life of a newspaper salesman is not necessarily the same as the value of the life of a son of the Queen.

Grateful thanks once again to all who took part.

(*PS: It seems to me like Charles Philip Arthur George has around 15 jobs there. Does the government not think that in these times of economic depression it is unreasonable that one man hole down 15 government funded jobs? Should he not lose 14 of them to other people about to be made redundant?)

Thursday 16 December 2010


It was pantomime time at Holyrood today, with wee Elmer doing funny voices and swaying around like my great Auntie Nellie after a few sherries too many on Hogmanay. However, not even the festive atmosphere in Edinburgh could save the wee fellow from acting like the tea cake he is.

Education was his theme (nice change from the snow Elmer, I feared you were going to get stuck on that one forever). He produced some figures that, he said, showed the SNP cutting 800 teaching posts this year, which gave Big Eck the chance to point out that the bulk of the posts being cut were in Glasgow’s LABOUR RUN council, possibly because LABOUR RUN Glasgow had failed to sign up to the concordat between the government and local councils.

Elmer , who had looked quite confident to begin with, started to look a tad cross and began swaying as Alex took everything he accused the government of and threw it back in his face. The final question involved the number of schools built and was “another broken SNP promise” according to Elmer. True, said the boss, but this time it was one Eck was happy to confirm. Labour had promised 250 new schools, he said, and the SNP government had broken its promise; it had delivered 330. Maybe a few sherries diminished Mr Fudd’s arithmetical abilities.

And so to Annabel, who chose, presumably for want of anything else to criticise the government about, to ask about university funding. Given that Mike Russell was due to launch a Green Paper (consultative document) on the subject that very afternoon, I thought it was completely bizarre.

The discourse between the FM and Ms G followed that of an exchange 3 weeks ago, so I won’t bother repeating it here. Suffice to say that it was rather a waste of a question.

And so to wee Tavish, who asked a sensible question about the fact that vast numbers of Scots are either worried about their energy bills (4 out of 10 households), or struggling to pay them (3 out of 10). He wanted to know what the government’s intentions were concerning Home Insulation Schemes. Alex told him that the relevant minister had just explained that there would be proportionally larger increases here than there would be south of the border. Tavish then asked about the huge increases in profits per household the energy companies had reported, and the doubling of costs over the last 5 years.

Alex was able to point out that some of the factors that were involved in this were controlled from London, and in fact by Liberal Democrat minsters. Alex softened that remark, noting that Tavish’s points were well made, but he wished he had the power to insure that everyone in this energy rich country could access the energy they needed.

Unspectacular performances today, I thought, and top marks go to Tavish for asking the most sensible question.

I can’t help feeling that Alex refers too much to what’s happening in England and comparing it with what is happening here. OK, I accept that what happens in England has a knock on effect by way of Barnet, but I get a little bored hearing it and it does tend to sound feeble, even if, in fact, it is not.

Backbench questions were sensible across the chamber and dealt with subjects as diverse as Sex Offenders, Homicide Rates, Fatal Accident Inquiries and Company Closures. There was one criticism of the Labour party for misrepresenting Fife Constabulary on their website and refusing to take the misinformation down, even when asked to by the police themselves. Tch tch.

Pics: The lovely Annabel (top centre) falls into the Hattie Jacques role perfectly; I though Elmer for the Kenneth Conner role and of course Tavish is Jim Dale... I’m not sure who should get Babs Windsor’s part (or parts) Johann Lamont? Eck (left) of course vanquishes all foes and slays dragons (that’s Lamont again) and finally (right) is Tavish, standing right next to a guy who sold his soul for a red box... a pantomime villain if even I saw one.

Wednesday 15 December 2010


Nippy sweeties at the 1922 Committee end of term get together with headmaster Cameron (appearing without his glove puppet tonight).

As MPs break up for the Christmas holiday a full week earlier than “ordinary people”, Call me Dave was given a hard ride by his backbenchers.

Some of them were a bit worried that No 10 was closer to Nick Clegg than it was to the Tories. (Well, its young love; give it a few months and they will be tearing each other’s hair out.)

Some clever clogs called Philip Davies, who can forget promotion to anything any time in the next 50 years reminded Mr Cameron that he was supposed to be in coalition with the Tories... Ouch.

David Davies (presumably no relation, but clearly as disinterested in promotion as he leads the awkward squad) said he had never seen back bench hostility to the leadership as starchy as it is now. Clearly they are desperately jealous of the leadership’s relationship with the Liberals. “All the Liberal Democrats are being cosseted while they decide whether to abstain or to vote against or vote for, while the Tories are being told, ‘Right, you don't vote for this, your career is over'”, he whined.

Many of them warned against any notion of a permanent coalition between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats as suggested by several senior Tories, most notably Johnny Major. (Personally I’d not waste too much time worrying about that. There might only be half a dozen of them next time round.)

There were many who were deeply concerned about the plans of Ken Clarke to replace short prison sentences with community service. (Can’t you see IDS and the Big Man fighting over which jobs go to the people who have stolen something, and which go to the lazy louts that are unemployed.)

Cameron said the system would have to change and then did what any sensible prime minister would do faced with the baying mob of the 1922 Committee. He blamed foreigners. There are far too many of them in our jails he said. Fair does, there are too many of them in their jails and deporting them instead of putting them in their precious prison cells is one of the few sensible things that he’s come out with. The trouble may be that the English will get all their overseas criminals back!

But the biggest worry was the expenses. Cameron agreed that the new expenses system, which limits MPs to claiming for small apartments rather than the lavish residences that many maintained under the old regime, was “anti-family”. He said that if IPSA didn’t get a grip by April next year, it would be reformed. He was also concerned about the limit on the number of times MPs' children could travel with them to their constituencies at taxpayers' expense.

Well so am I. I don’t think they should be able to at all. Why don’t they ask the bloody granny along too and their sisters and their cousins and their aunts?

Well I expect that put a smile on their miserable faces.

You can see them all rushing home to....., well...whoever it is they rush home to, and saying “Brilliant news darling. Cameron’s so desperate he’s going to start the gravy train up again”. It’s all that matters to them.

Clearly they no idea of the feelings in the country of these "ordinary people" who travel second class, earn on average £24,000 a year, and have to produce a receipt for every penny they spend. And why would they?

They don't see what's coming.

Pics: (1) Some mad old bag lady tries to smooth out the creases on this man’s face: (2) A couple of disreputable people including Philip Davies appear to have bought large bananas, probably on expenses. I can only afford small ones: (3) Cover boy Call me Dave. Unlike Putin he didn’t take his shirt off, so that’s something we can be grateful to him for: (4) A book, it seems, about the history of the 1922 committee much loathed by Tory Prime Ministers, and which Dave tried unsuccessfully to derail.

Which Scottish RAF base will close?

Dark clouds rumble over Scottish RAF bases. RAF Kinloss is no longer required and two other, as yet, unnamed bases, are also surplus to requirements.

There is a great deal of speculation in Scotland that one of these bases will be either RAF Lossiemouth or RAF Leuchars with the spotlight so far falling mostly on the former.

In Moray a vociferous Moray Taskforce has built up significant momentum and it now seems that in this game of blind man’s buff, RAF chiefs favour keeping Lossiemouth and ditching Leuchars.

As yet nobody knows. But it would sure put all of their gasses at a peep if the RAF decided that the two bases should be Lossiemouth AND Leuchars.

So why the uncertainty? Why can’t they just come out and tell us which is going and which is staying? Surely the great and good in our dear coalition government must know!

Well just to be "perfectly" clear: “call me dave” has said that the decision will be based solely on budgetary considerations. Meanwhile Basil Brush at the War Office has said that only defence issues would be taken into consideration. And, finally, at the finance ministry, second in command Ginger (Ginge) Rodent has said that the impact on Moray’s economy would be a factor.

So as usual the coalition’s “respect agenda” has render us up another turkey stuffed with a steam roller shaped mess, where nobody seems to know what they are talking about. Nothing new there then!

Loquacious as usual, an RAF spokesman has said that “no decision has been made on which bases or on any future use”. (And that's a direct quote.) That’s as clear as mud then!

Isn't it nice to know that Danny champion of the world is so worried about the Moray economy. That must be
huge relief to the electors in this SNP stronghold. Maybe Danny thinks they will all switch to voting for the Lib Dems en masse. However, the folk in Lib Dem held North East Fife can clearly go and get stuffed. Not good news for the Emperor Ming then! Serves him right for standing by that horrid inconvenient pledge he made to students.

Needless to say the Scottish Tories are outraged at the thought of closing either and have vowed to fight, fight, fight, and call an emergency debate in the Scottish Parliament today. That will make a lot of difference then!

Leader of the Scottish Labour clique Elmer Fudd displayed that stunning intellect and a brain even bigger
than Wendy Alexander’s when he said that the suggestion that Leuchars could close made yesterday “a dark day for Scotland” because it will “devastate families and decimate some of Fife’s great towns”. Has it occurred to him the Lossiemouth is also in Scotland? Silly question!

Metal Mickey Moore the Scottish secretary said.........well nothing!

So there you are. The policy seems to be either; we don’t have a policy, or can’t make up our mind what it is, or keep 'em guessing. They're only jocks after all!

Pictured are: The Emperor Ming despares over North Fife economy while trying to stem the Lib Dem's slip in the polls: Another day of quantative easing for Ginge the Rodent at the Treasury: Defence Secretary Basil Brush testing out the latest equipment for Afghanistan: Scottish Secretary Metal Mickey discusses Lib Dem student pledge with prospective voter.

Tuesday 14 December 2010


London is not the only city where “ordinary people” have protested about the blindness of the political class, living in a world of their own.

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi today scraped a vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament by 314 to 311, sending Rome into the worst street violence in many years and making people wonder how on earth the BILLIONAIRE managed it.

Clashes have left 50 police officers and more than 40 protesters injured. Cars were set on fire as protesters threw stones and overturned bins. Streets were closed in an attempt to keep the protesters away, but they enough g
ot through to throw paint and eggs at the parliament building. Police
used tear gas on the crowds. Doubtless Theresa May was watching very closely.

But it was not just in Rome that the protesters were out. In Sicily 500 students occupied the main airport runway whilst in Turin students occupied the railway station and in Venice they held a demonstration on the Rialto Bridge. All are demanding a change in government.

Berlusconi, who is 74 and half way through his 5 year term as Prime Minister, has become a figure of ridicule over the past few years. His alleged corruption is epic; he has been involved with “young” girls and prostitutes; his wife very publicly left him because of his philandering; he bawled something at President Bush in a photo call after some event in Britain causing the Queen who was in the room, to be heard saying that she wished that man would keep his voice down. And only last night at a dinner he was blowing off about how he was unable to say 'No', and had ever bee thus. He considered himself lucky that no gay person ha
d ever come to proposition him. As if!

His opponents say that he is too mired in scandal to continue as Prime Minister. He is certainly a figure of fun in the rest of Europe, and probably not what Italy needs right now as the economic crisis continues and Italy is in the line of countries at whose door the markets are barking.

What on Earth is it with these people? Like Brown (and Blair before him and Thatcher before him), they hang on and on and on to power. Does he think the women will like his less when he is not longer Prime Minister?

For heaven's sake you silly old fool, everybody's laughing at you. Just Go.

Pics (1) Protestors in Rome burned cars and threw paint on the parliament buildings; (2) The result is announced. None one knows how this very rich man managed to squeeze through by a whisker; (3) Syvio, in the lower house is taking a call on his cell. He’s never been able to say no and what with his expensive hair dye job, and the thickly applied make up to try to hide the deep canyons on his face, and his wallet... you can imagine how incredibly appealing he would be to a certain type. He even makes Brown look a little less loopy!