Saturday 30 April 2011

AV or not AV. That is the Question... Now, What's the Answer?

So, at long last, you might think, Munguin’s Republic is facing the CHOICE that must be made next week.

So, how will Tris vote, and why?

Well first off, considering the enormous cost involved in mounting the referendum across the UK, and taking into consideration that all of us are over 18 years of age, I would have appreciated it if we had been treated like adults and given a proper choice of the options for reform. It wouldn't have cost any more.

I’m insulted that we are only allowed to choose between a bad system and an even worse one. The real choice has been made for us by our “betters”; those educated at top English schools and universities, and clearly in a far better position to make important decisions than we are. So that given, is it worth a vote?

Well, yes. It’s always worth a vote. (If you don’t use it they may take it away.) And although the choice is small; (AV is imperfect, it’s majoritarian, it’s unfair, although marginally LESS unfair than FPTP), a journey of a thousand miles starts with a small step, and if you never take that first step, you’ll certainly never take the last one.

People have argued that if the result is “Yes”, then we’ll not get an opportunity to vote for proper PR for another 25 years. And, if we vote "No", we will? Anway, it's not necessarily true, if we care enough.

People have said that AV is a bad system and that countries which use it want to ditch it. But the Tories and Labour use it to elect their leaders. David Davis would be leader of the Tories if they had used FPTP. Why is it OK for them but not good enough for us ordinary people?

They say it’s too complicated for us to understand. Ranking candidates 1,2,3,4,5.... is too difficult? They apparently use the system on the 'X Factor'. How thick do they think we are for heaven’s sake?

They say it will be the end of strong government. So? Strong government based on as little as 33% of the vote, 22% of the population, is good? In many constituencies most of the people do not want their MP. If you are a Tory living in Dundee, for example, your vote is always wasted. You, literally, don’t count and might as well stay at home. If nothing else AV will mean that votes do count.

They say the small parties will have an unfair representation; the BNP could end up with a seat. Well, it’s unlikely, but, so what? You either ban the BNP and its likes, or you accept that there are people in your country who have this kind of view. Why should they be allowed to HAVE the view, but not have it represented?

It’s the British way? [Tris chuckles, then bursts out laughing hysterically and has to be slapped.]

I suppose that for many it comes down how you feel about the party leaders, who have invested so much in the campaign (despite promising not to). Although I should dislike Clegg for being a turncoat, surprisingly I just feel sorry for him.

I reserve my real anger for Cameron who is unfit to be prime minister. In “these difficult times for hard working British families up and down the country”, he’s just not up to the job. He is incompetent and his government is likewise. He has no perception at all of the misery his determination to pay down the deficit within one 5 year parliament (and go into the history books) is causing, or if he does, he simply doesn’t care.

He’s either very stupid or plain evil. He doesn’t see the misery his policies are causing. I do.

Of course, all the polls suggest that the "No" vote has it, but as I’ve said over other polls recently, we shouldn’t take anything for granted especially in Scotland, which usually votes differently from England.

So, these are my motives for voting "YES" to change.

What about you?

Thursday 28 April 2011

ASDAGATE (or Iain Does a Bunk, Part 2)

Labour’s First Ministerial hopeful and chief of their Holyrood clique, Iain GrayLink appeared to have 'run away' from Alex Salmond in an Ardrossan's Asda store on Tuesday evening.

Alex arrived for a prearranged photoshoot and to meet staff as part of his election campaign, while Iain, being early for his meeting with invited guests at the Ardrossan Civic Centre, decided to pop in and use the loo.

Cunninghame North SNP candidate Kennneth Gibson later said that when Gray saw Salmond "he scurried off", adding, "It's quite a contrast; the First Minister meets the public in a relaxed, open fashion and Mr Gray holds a closed meeting by invitation only, whereby attendees have to confirm their attendance in advance. Iain Gray turned tail just like he ran away from the Glasgow grannies at Central Station.”

Labour’s spin machine went into overdrive, even as Alex was still spending his 40 minutes in the Asda, so determined where they to make sure Iain did not look like the total pillock he did when he ran out of Central Station.

They instantly claimed that Mr Gray’s campaign team had stopped at an Asda branch in Ardrossan when they realized the First Minister was holding a photo shoot in the
store and not so that Iain could spend a penny. However this was contradicted by Labour candidate Allan Wilson who said: "When Iain Gray and his aides walked in to the supermarket, a terrified SNP press offer ran up to ask them what they were doing and followed them to the toilet.”

Allan, if you stopped to debate with Alex in the few minutes before your Civic Centre meeting why did the SNP aide follow Iain to the toilet? Was that so that Iain could put on his make up? Or was it so Iain could use the facilities?

Mr Gray later said: "If I’d have known Alex Salmond was there, I’d have gone up and asked him why he is hiding his date for an independence referendum. Sadly he was kept well hidden until I’d left." Video footage released (see first paragraph) shows Mr Gray leaving the store as an onlooker asks him: "Are you not going to hang about?"

SNP Campaign manager Angus Robertson said: “This footage makes an absolute mockery of the claims in a Labour press release issued this morning and raises serious questions about the negativity, dirty tricks and misinformation at the heart of Labour’s 're-launched' campaign.”

Pics: Once again thanks to Holyrood Horrors for the pic (which I took without permission); and Eck popping down to get some curries for the campaign ASDA price!! and clearly hiding from Iain Gray behind a shopping trolly.

Tuesday 26 April 2011


Is it possible? Could it happen?

Yes, unlikely thought it may seem; yes it could.

Just as across Scotland, the polls have shown a swing to the SNP; there is a suspicion that the mood of voters in East Lothian may have swung the SNP’s way, enough to win a seat for Dave Berry. Not important really, you might think, until you stop and think...East Lothian is the seat of Iain “the snarl” Gray, better known perhaps as Elmer “the snarl” Fudd!

In what Labour thought would be a cast iron safe seat for them, canvass returns, taken over 25% of the voters, suggest that it’s possible that Gray could lose.

Gray has not been seen much in the constituency for months. It’s been suggested that his training for the presidential-style debates with Alex Salmond (and yes Mr Cameron, Ms Goldie took part in them presidentee?) has taken up most of his time, whereas Mr Berry has been working the constituency for months.

Secondly the constituency which delivered Iain Gray a 7.1% lead over the SNP has undergone boundary changes, which would reduce the lead to 6.7%. This means that a "swing" of only 3.4% would be needed to oust him. Polling evidence suggests that the Liberal vote collapse is benefiting the SNP more than Labour, and given that 18.5% of East Lothian voters backed the Liberals in the last election, their vote could make a huge difference.

Add to that the likelihood that, as Gray is roundly disliked, Tory and Liberal voters may vote tactically to remove him, and that he is not on the regional list, we could be saying ‘bye bye’ to the snarly one sooner rather than later.

Imagine a new parliament without Mr Gray, and with Labour, either in opposition or forming a government, without a leader. It makes for interesting thoughts.

We should not get our hopes up of course. There is still all to play for in the constituency, as there is in the country, but a loss would give Iain Gray his only chance to make history by being the first party leader in Scotland to be ousted by the public at an election.

Iain “the snarl” Gray, copied shamelessly from a great blog, which I just discovered... and our man, trying on his “tails” lest he should get that last minute call to take the place of the Crown Prince of Bahrain, or the King of Cambodia, who appear to have left the Windsors with two extra dinners and a bottle of Chablis.


Labour has suffered another blow as it tried, only 10 days from the election, to re-launch its campaign.

Cosla, a one-time bastion of all things Labour, has slammed what might be described as labour’s flagship policy, the moving of social care from local authorities to NHS Scotland.

There is no doubt at all that closer co-operation between the NHS and social work departments all over Scotland is not only desirable but necessary, in order to remove bed-blocking caused by older people who are not sick enough to be in hospital, but too sick to be home alone, or with another elderly person. But surely this can be done without complete reorganisation of thousands of workers and transfer of them and their assets from councils to the NHS.

The disruption to vital services alone would make this a non starter. Losing one set of notes or letting one patient slip through the net would be a disaster for that person and their family, but the hundreds that would likely be mislaid just can’t be countenanced.

Additionally Cosla thinks that the cost of the exercise would be in the region of £300 million, and that is surely simply mad money to be spending at this time.

There must be a way of setting up a system of liaisons for an awful lot less money than that.

Jackie Baillie defends the plan, as you might expect, stating that she wants to remove the 'post code lottery' of the current situation.

But surely the Labour party has been critical of LIT because of the fact that it removes the postcode lottery of local democracy and local council tax. Oh well...

Health Minister Shona Robison said that Cosla were right to be critical of Labour’s plans to create a new and expensive bureaucracy, but added that all parties recognised the need to improve services to meet the challenges of an ageing population and Westminster cuts to Scotland’s budget.

The SNP has set aside £70 million to enable local authorities to work more closely with NHS Scotland. Surely that’s the way forward. £230 million may not sound a lot in government terms but that kind of saving is the reason that John Swinney has been able to take on board cuts in income and yet maintain the standards that we have come to expect.

So yet another Labour policy in the bin, rubbished by experts, just like the knife crime nonsense of a few days ago, when train crash expert, Richard Baker doggedly stuck to his made up figures for the cost of knife crime to Scotland of half a billion pounds, where experts said that £10 million was an exaggerated outside guess, based on the cost to England, with 9+ times the population, being only £3 million.

Monday 25 April 2011


So, at last, presumably thanks to the duke of Rothsay, who seems to have had a lot to do with invitations’ list, the true political colours of the royal family have been made clear.

There are four ex-prime ministers of the England and the UK living; two of them have been invited to the wedding and two have been ignored. Strangely the most recent two have been ignored. Not so strangely perhaps, they are Labour.

The palace says that the reason for this is that the two Labour ex-prime ministers, unlike Mr Major and Mrs Thatcher, are not knights of the garter. Neither, however, is Tara Palmer Tomkinson, nor Posh Spice, Rowan Atkinson, Elton John and a vast array of other people. They are, however, and no matter how bad they were, ex-prime ministers.

So clearly the duke of Rothsay is a Tory. (Well, no wonder when you consider that in the short time that Cameron‘s boys have been in, the chancellor has given them vast amounts of money and they have been given total secrecy for the Queen, Rothsay and Willie.)

While on the subject of the wedding, I read in the Telegraph this morning that:

Royal wedding: heavy rain forecast for big day

It's the news the country had been dreading

No it’s not Telegraph, you vacuous, sycophantic muppets. The news the country is dreading is another soldier killed in Afghanistan; a plane shot down over Libya; another increase in VAT; another rise in petrol prices, food bills, gas and electricity bills; another round of cuts; a letter from the inland revenue telling us that once again they have made a mess of our taxes and we owe them more money. I suspect that most of the royals can afford a dry pair of shoes, which is a bloody sight more than some of their “subjects”.

Maybe the palace was worried that Blair and Brown, being... ahem... 'socialists', wouldn't have a spare pair of shoes.

Pics: Bonnie Prince Charlie ... oh go on, we need a laugh; Tara Palmer Tomkinson (I bet she can't say that when she's legless...although looking at the pic, it seems that she'd have to go some to lose these legs... not quite the same story about her nose though... She's had to have it rebuilt for the wedding, having disolved it in cocaine. Bless her, she does so much good with her money, keeping plastic surgeons in work.

Sunday 24 April 2011


Accepting hospitality from American billionaires is expected behaviour of Prince Andrew, but now I hear that Charles’s trip to Washington will be paid by a Texan tycoon with links to Augusto Pinochet. Joe Allbritton, who in ‘return’ got an invite to the wedding, is providing a private jet for HRH.

According to Clarence House it will save the taxpayer money, but I understood that Rothsay already received around £16 million a year to fund his work for the country, on top of £16 million from the Duchy of Cornwall to keep himself in kilts, and the crocodile in dresses and jewels.

Charles, who calls himself Defender of Nature (how loonie is that?), is expected to clock up more than double the average bloke’s annual carbon footprint on this one trip. His office said the 'economic climate' made the exchange a consideration. So now, GREAT Britain is selling seats at the royal wedding in return for flights. If the ‘economic climate’ at Clarence House is so dire, Charles could video conference his speech at Georgetown University, or of course, travel like you or I seat bought in advance!

It must be a bother having an arse that doesn’t fit into economy seats.


The wedding may be one of the hottest tickets in town, with loads of tacky people going, but one NOT so tacky invitee has declined. King Norodom of Cambodia has a busy schedule. Like his dad before him (who declined to attend Princess Alexandra’s wedding) he will be spending the day at home in Cambodia. Probably a wise decision Norodom. The Windsors are providing the food, not the British government. As they are well known for being as tight as drums with their own money, it will likely be cheap and nasty.


My favourite satirical comedy programme “The News Quiz” was marred this week by the inclusion of Matthew Parris, who insisted on making serious political points (nope Matty, that’s not what satire’s about) and then insulting the Scottish government by insisting that they operated well only thanks to English tax money.

If they have him on again I won’t listen to it.


It’s part of the coalition agreement that government and civil service internships be open and offered to everyone, no longer just for the sharp elbowed middle classes with connections, according to the deputy prime minister and IDS. But Cameron has either forgotten, or thinks he’s above any of these tiresome rules made for lesser beings. He will be offering a neighbour an internship without advertising the job or doing interviews.

"In the modern world, of course you're always going to have internships and interns – people who come and help in your office who come through all sorts of contacts, friendly, political, whatever.", he said. Strange two members of the government he’s supposed to oversee didn’t know that.


In a poll on MSN to find the most and the least attractive royal of all time, the most attractive was Princess Grace of Monaco; and the least attractive was Princess Eugenie of England. Grace’s family were well represented in the list of attractive, with her daughter and grandson making the top ten. The bottom ten contained all the Yorks... along with Henry VIII and the princess from Shrek... Among the attractive ones was Crown Prince Frederick from Denmark. I think that if Scotland has to have royals, it would be agreeable if they were a bit more like the Danes. The crown prince was on holiday in Australia and went in to a bar. There was a cute Aussi girl sitting at the bar. He sat down on the next bar stool and said “Hi. My name’s Fred and I’m from Denmark.” They’re married now. They somehow seem like real people.

Pics: Chic and Cammy looking less wrinked than normal; HM King Norodom of Cambodia is busy counting his matchbox collection that day; David Call Me Cameron, the Botox King choking on his words; TRH Prince Fred of Denmark and his Mrs.. I've got a shirt like that... and jeans like that...and trainers like that. Wait a minute, I think he stole my clothes!

Saturday 23 April 2011

Great Fun in Dundee City East!

Dundee City East Labour candidate Mohammed Asif seems to be unable to follow his leader Iain Gray’s call to get Labour’s core vote out to protect Scotland (and in this case Dundee East) from the Tories.

This week has seen him send a letter to every postal voter in the constituency asking them to vote for him. Nothing wrong with that you may think until it is revealed that the letters went to Dundee City East’s current SNP MSP, Minister for Public Health and Sport Shona Robison and SNP City Council leader Ken Guild. Clearly if he can persuade Ken and Shona to ditch their lifelong commitment to the SNP and vote for him, he is a shoo in.

In that case he would surely have no need to engage in a poster blanketing war that has seen a rash of posters go up all over the east of the city, including (allegedly) in flats he owns, without the tenants' permission.

Either way we wish Mr Asif well on his journey to "palriament" [sic: ref Dundee Courier political diary 23/04/11] .

Also in Dundee City East ex-SNP councillor Allan Petrie is standing for the Lib Dems. Mr Petrie we understand has had a dalliance with almost every political party, having also campaigned for Labour MP Iain Luke in 2005. He also at one point wrote a number of letters to the Press purporting to represent his own political party I-Vote.

Of course there is nothing wrong with having political opinions that mature as time goes on but if Mr Petrie’s get any more mature he might find his list of political options getting very short indeed (only the Tories left).

Be that as it may Mr P now wants the people of Dundee City East to vote for him with his current Liberal Democrat hat on. That got me to thinking about his marathon political journey, so I had a look at his Lib Dem biog online. Amusingly it reads:

“I became an SNP councillor in 1999 but resigned my membership due to the constant attacks from the leadership on hard working members of the party and SNP shifting away from being a membership-led organisation.”

Of course what Mr Petrie does not say is that he actually left the SNP when he was de-selected as a councillor. The more unkind among us may say that Mr P left because his political options in the SNP were over.

Nevertheless we wish Mr Petrie well in his current billet and sincerely hope that he never has cause to be the subject of attack from the leadership there, if he, unlike the rest of us, can figure out who is actually in charge at Lib Dems Scotland HQ: Tavish or Nick!

Pictured above: Mr Asif is on the extreme left (signing the table) in front of Labour's MP for Dundee West Jim McGovern and next to Labour's Dundee City West hopeful West End Councillor Richard McCready. Also above is Allan Petrie on a sunny Dundee day!

Friday 22 April 2011


Watching the television news tonight, I was reminded that a just a few short weeks ago Messers Sarkozy and Cameron were touring the world insisting it was vital for the West to take action against Gadaffi.

I particularly remember Mr Cameron saying, in what I imagine he considered his statesman voice (not unlike Jim Hacker’s attempts at Churchill), that we in Britain could not stand by and watch as a dictator murdered his own people.

He was hailed by the Tory Press as a world leader, quite literally, as he was leading the attempts to force the world into action against the Libyan dictator. The press were, of course, as happy to leave the mention of Sarkozy’s involvement to the 8th or 9th paragraph as they were to point out that President Obama was dithering and indecisive.

Of course they were wrong on all fronts. M
rs Clinton was infact, working on diplomacy behind the scenes, as is the job of the Secretary of State and Cameron and Sarkozy were well out of their depths in involving themselves in matters they didn’t fully understand.

Now don’t misunderstand me. I don’t think that it is easy to leave people to die at the hand of
a heartless, cruel and murderous oaf like Gadaffi; and I wouldn’t want the responsibility of declining to get involved, but with my limited knowledge of what goes on in the world, I could see that what we were dealing with here was likely to be more than just Libya.

Tunisia and Egypt had already dispatched their dictator presidents and unrest was already apparent in other Middle East
countries. Last night I mentioned in my ramblings the fact that in the tiny kingdom of Bahrain, whose crown prince will be the guest of the Windsors next week, medical personnel were being 'disappeared' because they had seen the dreadful carnage caused by the Bahraini police and their friends from across the causeway in Saudi Arabia.

Today over 50 Syrians have been killed on th
e orders, Mr Cameron, of their dictator, Bashar al-Assad (who fortunately is not invited to the Windsors’ wingding).

Surely if ordinary people could see that contagion was not only possible, but highly likely, what on Earth possessed Cameron to make such stupid pronouncement? Did HE not foresee that within weeks people would be asking why he was not equally affronted by the death of peoples of other countries at the hands of THEIR dictators?

It would appear that he did not; and neither did his foreign secretary, nor any other his numerous advisors in the FCO. Of course Bahrain and Syria are not the only countries to which this has spread. Unrest is rife in Yemen, and has even spread as far as the nailed-down-tight kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to Morocco and to the much easier-going Jordan, where it seems to have been contained by the swift actions of modernist King Abdullah.

No one now knows how long we will be involved in yet another war which has nothing to do with us; and in the meantime other poor, pathetically downtrodden people will be crushed by dictators to whom doubtless, our governments sold the wherewithal to do it...

And we simply have neither the money nor the manpower to do anything about it.
Cameron’s Churchillian moment, which looked fairly daft at the time, now looks plain ridiculous.

Thursday 21 April 2011


One of the invitees to this wedding thingy they are having in London, England, is HM King Mswati III if Swaziland (pictured with President and Mrs Obama). His Majesty is one of the richest of the world's monarchs, has 14 wives, a fleet of luxury cars and rules over a country of 1.2 million people, more than 60% of whom live on less than €1 a day and are trying to cope with the world’s highest per capita AIDS infection rates. He has recently put down, with violence, an uprising of the people against him

Clearly the king is not related to the Windsors and so his invite, by the Duke of Rothsay, must mean he is a friend of Charles. He keeps some very odd company does that Charlie. His mother should warn him about speaking to nasty men.


The Independent is revealing the intimidation and detention of doctors treating dying and injured pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain.
At least 32 doctors have been arrested and detained by police in the last month in a campaign of intimidation running directly counter to the Geneva Convention guaranteeing medical care to people wounded in conflict. Doctors around the world have expressed their shock and outrage.
Doctors have even been arrested in the operating theatre while treating patients and others have been “disappeared”. The Crown Prince of the country is another of Charlie’s guests at the wedding. A man whose security must be paid for out of the money saved by slashing pensioners’ winter fuel payments.

Only the Daily Mail would come out with this. Across the top of its Home Page are pictures of a young soldier who fainted in the heat while wearing full dress uniform. What a damned shame. I’d love to see some of the fat drink soaked journos on the Mail stand up straight in the heat never mind with ridiculous uniforms on. Then in true tabloid form, having embarrassed the poor lad, they make a huge fuss of the fact that for once, just once, it was much hotter in England than on the Costa del Sol, the headline (more Sun than Mail) is “Wish you were here amigos?”

It seems tha
t endorsements for Alex Salmond to be Scotland’s next First Minister are coming from every direction. The latest is Tommy Brennan, one of Scotland's great trade union leaders of the past. He cites Mr Salmond's goal of the re-industrialisation of Scotland with renewables energy technology.

Mr Brennan said: "Alex Salmond's vision for Scotland is one all Scots should support. I'm delighted to endorse him for a second term as First Minister. I remember only too well the pain caused by the de-industrialisation of Scotland under the Tories in the 1980s and 1990s, and believe that Alex Salmond's ambition to re-industrialise Scotland by leading the renewables energy revolution is an inspiring goal for young Scots and for jobs and industry in the 21st century."
Alex Salmond warmly welcomed his personal endorsement saying that it was wonderful that Tommy shared the SNP’s vision of Scotland leading the world in the green energy technologies of the 21st century.

The Telegraph reveals that Israel under Menachem Begin armed Argentina during the Falkland/Malvinas War of the 80s which established Mrs Thatcher as a war leader in the image of her beloved Winston. Apparently Begin saw a deal to sell the junta weapons, including air to air missiles, missile radar alert systems, fuel tanks for fighter bombers and gas masks, as a form of revenge for the hanging of a personal friend, Dov Gruner, by the British Mandatory Authorities in Palestine in 1947.

Ironically, the weapons which were dispatched from Israel apparently destined for Peru but were then transported on to Argentina, were probably paid for by our senior partner, the USA. I wonder if they knew.

Pics: The King of Swaziland with the Obamas; Injured protestor requiring treatment from the ever dwindling number of medics in Bahrain; Oor Eck basking in the praise of all: Menachem Began who armed the Argies as part of a personal vendetta of hatred against the Brits.

Wednesday 20 April 2011


This just in from the friendly folks at Sky News.

It's official: the Prime Minister WILL be wearing a morning suit for The Wedding!

There is some confusion over a previous steer, that he would wear a lounge suit. That had provoked some derision along the lines of "Call Me Dave" trying to be just like one of us, man-of-the-people, not-posh-at-all, etc, etc. .

Apparently, the earlier briefing was wrong and he’d "always" intended to wear tails - and why not? If you can't get dressed up for a Royal wedding, then when can you? (The alternative to that is that a message came down for the palace telling him to smarten up and toe the line otherwise they would stop supporting him, no matter how much he doubles the Queen’s income. But silly me, that would involve a U-turn...tsk tsk. As if!)

However, Mr. Cameron is not quite going for the Full Monty (phew, that's a relief!): he'll be wearing tails, but, I am told, no top hat. (Hopefully there's a shirt in there somewhere.)

Wow, wow and treble wow. Now isn't that just the singularly most exciting thing you ever heard?

Elsewhere, Mrs McGinty's cat got stuck up a tree in Auchinmacshoogle and Jeemy McTumshie had tae get his dad's ladder and get it doon.

More really interesting stuff that will keep you awake tomorrow from Sky via Munguin's Republic.

You read it here first.

Tuesday 19 April 2011


For those who have a passing, or even no interest in politics, one of the things that mark the fact that there is an election going on is the appearance of posters all over the country.

In Dundee the red and yellow posters of Labour and the fluorescent yellow of the SNP have been appearing over the last few weeks, a bit like the appearance of mushrooms in autumn. I’ve yet to see any other parties' posters, but then there are still 2½ weeks to go!

Posters are stuck in windows, in cars, and even in gardens on gallows-like wooden constructions, to show that the owner, occupant or driver supports whichever political party. How much good they do only the experts will be able to tell us, but the one thing they do do is keep canvassers from other parties away. It’s the brave door knocker who goes forth to try to convince a person, so committed that they have a poster for Party A in the window, that they should be voting for Party B.

So the story in today’s 'Courier and Advertiser’s' dead wood edition about posters being put up in people’s flats, seemingly without their permission, is particularly disturbing, in that not only is this a breach of tenancy agreements, but it also potentially deprives the tenant of the opportunity to receive literature, and canvassing calls from any other party.

Dundee University Product Design and Engineering student, Karen Kerr, who is a supporter of the SNP, returned home from an Easter break with her family, to find the flat that she rents from “Easylets” had Labour party posters attached to its balcony. She was, not unreasonably, furious, and her dad who had come to Dundee with her, took them down immediately. Karen says that she thinks all political posters are tacky and would never agree to having display them, regardless of party.

The flats are owned by a company in which the Labour candidate and current city councillor, Mohammed Asif, has an interest.

When the Courier asked Mr Asif to comment, he agreed that he had asked for the letting company to put up the posters in their flats, but with permission from the tenants; permission which Easylet says they have for Karen’s flat. However, both Karen and her flatmate deny that any such permission was given.

So we have impasse!

It will be interesting to see how this story develops; if there are other tenants who come forward with the same story, or if in fact there has been some misunderstanding somewhere along the line and permission was indeed given.

Labour must ensure that no jiggery pokery is employed in the putting up of posters, as must, of course, every other party. It is not only an affront to people’s privacy to enter their flats to display posters without their permission, it could be seen as hindering the right of the tenant to receive information from parties across the political spectrum.

We surely don’t want to be in a position in Scotland where it is necessary to get Jimmy Carter or the EU to come and supervise our elections. We should be mature enough to do this on our own.

Let's hope that we are.

Sunday 17 April 2011


Yesterday’s Dundee Courier reports that a Leading Fife Liberal Democrat has been accused of hypocrisy after a leaked e-mail revealed that Scottish Lib Dems “don’t like” working with the Tories because they “remember what they did to Scotland”.

Ex Dunfermline West MP and leading Lib Dem central Scotland and Fife list candidate Willie Rennie was responding to a former constituent who expressed concern at the Lib Dem’s Westminster coalition with the Tories. The e-mail reads:

“I’m sorry you feel let down by the Lib Dems. We don’t like working with the Tories. We remember what they did to Scotland in the 1980s. However, we had to get involved to stop the Tories doing their worst”.

He then goes on to highlight the very short list of so called achievements that he believes have benefited Scotland, including the end of child detention at Dungavel. Of course he won't have mentioned that the Tory Home Secretary, speaking last year, continued to defend child detention, and in September the immigration minister Damian Green said the policy was only to minimise detention of children. Then in January this year the English High Court ruled that the UK Border Agency were held to have breached the families’ rights to liberty, privacy and family life (their Article 5 and Article 8 rights), though not Article 3, which relates to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. So not such a huge Lib Dems achievement after all when their partners were clearly doing the usual Tory back-pedalling until the High Court stepped in and, hey presto its a Lib Dem achievement!

Next reduce income tax for low earners. Remember that threshold that the Lib Dem manifesto said should be £10,000? But the Tories watered it down to £7,500, for the tax year 2011-2012 the rest going up in tranches over the length of the English parliament to the magic 10K (if possible say the Tories and it may of course never happen at all due to the usual unforseen exigencies). So more Lib Dem jam tomorrow! And even more ludicrously they have taken steps to reduce tax evasion apparently, God knows what they are seeing as the most successful tax dodgers are actually in the English cabinet with the Lib Dems.

How well we remember Tavish Scott’s lamentable performance on Newsnight the other day. When if one were inclined to be charitable he looked and sounded more like the transport spokesman for Shetland Council than a major national party leader with aspirations to be (Deputy) First Minister. But Tav did his best to distance himself from what Nick Clegg was up to. Why then is Rennie acknowledging that the Lib Dems don’t like working with the Tories. Should he not have told his potential constituent that what the English Lib Dems did was nothing to do with him and he stood by the Scottish Lib Dems record and what he was doubtless hearing on that mythical doorstep with Tavish; now that he wanted to be an list MSP having been told to sling his hook by the actual voters of Fife as an MP?

It was Labour’s election co-ordinator John Park who accused Rennie of being a hypocrite saying that he should not be standing if he disagreed with the coalition. Once again that really, really gray area of the Lib Dems associations north and south of the border comes into play. It seems that what the Scottish Lib Dems mean when they talk of their relations with their English counterparts is that the good stuff is down to them but the bad stuff is down to their English cohorts. Confusing?

Saturday 16 April 2011


In 2000 I got car insurance through a broker in Paisley, called Swinton.

I chose it because it was the one place that, when I phoned, didn’t tell me that I had 5 options, followed by yet another 5 know the sort of thing.

Of course almost everyone has them now, but back then there were quite a few companies that didn’t. In fact what I liked was the fact that they cared enough about their customers to have real live people to answer the phone. So over the past decade I’ve continued to use the company, without much idea of the cost of my insurance when set against other companies. In short I’ve taken their word that they were getting me the cheapest insurance. This year when they called to remind me that it was time, they had bad news for me. My insurance had increased by about 37%. I’d heard that insurance costs were increasing, but having not made a single claim in 11 years, I didn’t expect anything like a third increase. So I said I’d think about it. A friend got online and within 15 minutes had come up with a wide range of companies MUCH cheaper...and they weren’t rogue or unknown companies either. The AA was the cheapest. As long as you weren’t an existing member they gave you recovery coverage on top of a far cheaper deal than I’d been offered. Unfortunately I already am a member, so for me the best deal was with eSure (who delivered an extra 500 jobs to Glasgow not so long ago). In fact it was even cheaper, fully comprehensive with protected no claims bonus, than last year’s deal through Swinton. So, if you are stuck in a rut with insurance and you are being quoted ridiculous amounts for this year’s cover, shop around. Companies know the busy, rich or lazy people (I’m in the last group) who take the easy way out and re-insure every year without looking around. Beat them by doing it. Just one cautionary note: You will need to prove your level of no claims bonus, and certainly, in the case of Swinton, getting that from them has proved less that easy. Many phone calls, pleas and threats later, I have my letter. But I saved well over £100. And in these straitened times for hard-working British families....etc, etc.... yawn.........

Simples? Uh huh.

PS: Apologies to everyone. The spacing is all to hell on this post. It’s been hard to get the paragraphs sorted for some time, but tonight nothing I do will make it work! I’ll try to get to the bottom of it. Sorry again for making it difficult to read.

Friday 15 April 2011


Classified Ads Our experienced Mom will care for your child. Fenced yard, meals, and smacks included. Dog for sale: eats anything and is fond of children. Man wanted to work in dynamite factory. Must be willing to travel. Stock up and save. Limit: one. Semi-Annual after Christmas Sale 3 year old teacher needed for pre-school. Experience preferred. Mixing bowl set designed to please a cook with round bottom for efficient beating. Girl wanted to assist magician in cutting off head illusion. Blue Cross and salary. Dinner Special -- Turkey $2.35; Chicken or Beef $2.25; Children $2.00 For sale: antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers. Now is your chance to have your ears pierced and get an extra pair to take home, too. We do not tear your clothing with machinery. We do it carefully by hand. For sale. Three canaries of undermined sex. Great Dames for sale. Have several very old dresses from grandmother in beautiful condition. Auto Repair Service. Free pick-up and delivery. Try us once, you'll never go anywhere again.

Thursday 14 April 2011


* Am I the only one who thought that the Times headline the other day was wrong. EVERY ONE IN FIVE.... YOUNG ARE OUT OF WORK. The second part of the headline is approximate (and I can’t check it because it’s behind a pay wall), but it’s the first part that concerned me. It should surely read “ONE IN EVERY FIVE........” To think it used to be a newspaper of record!

* The Metropolitan police are the most incompetent lot, aren’t they? They seem to get precious little right. Now English high court has ruled that the way in which they kettled people during the G20 demonstrations in April 2009, was illegal. The court heard that police used mass detention against peaceful protesters, and that officers punched faces, slapped and hit out with shields as they tried to move a demonstration against climate change. It has opened up the possibility that up to 5000 people may sue the police for wrongful detention. Damned right. People were kept for hours with nothing to eat and no toilet facilities crushed up against one another. I hope to never see that kind of tactic used in Edinburgh. I don’t know what happened to England’s much acclaimed free speech. The fault of course was of the management. Well no surprise there. I wonder where Commander Dick was that day. Looking for a room maybe?

* MPs have reacted with anger at a 16% cut in the BBC World Service. They say that as the BBC is undergoing only a 10% cut (I didn’t notice a 10% cut in my licence fee), it is unfair that the Foreign Office-funded World Service is being penalised. They say that the BBC is used to promote British values around the world. So that got me thinking. What are British values? Are there such things? Are values different in Scotland from in England, what about Irish and Welsh, or for that matter Cornish, Manx, Jerseyman or Guernseyman values? Are British (or any part thereof) values different from say Danish ones? The things that go through my head. Answers on a post card to the usual address with the usual prize going to the usual winner.

* Annabel Goldie was a million miles better than Tavish in her interview with Gordon Brewer, and a fair amount of what she said made sense. Why keep 14 year olds who will learn nothing more at school distracting other people who want to do well, and making teachers’ lives hell.

But Brewer didn’t ask her what she proposed to do with them, or what it would cost. You can't just let them vegetate in bed.

And although I believe absolutely in free education, I could see some sense in Annabel’s argument for graduate tax. But again Brewer missed a chance. Annabel says that everyone knows that there is a black hole in the finances, and she will use the graduate tax to fill it. But the tax won’t start trickling in for 4 years, and then pretty slowly. How will she fund universities till then? And how much will it cost for the Treasury to collect it, as we can’t tax.

And wouldn’t a tax (as opposed to a loan) encourage people to go abroad after we have educated them?

I wonder how Gray will be tonight. How will he explain the 150,000 jobs out of thin air trick he’s going to pull off? Iain Dumblegray, Scotland’s greatest wizard. Not.

* Does anyone agree with me that it might be a good idea for the government to sing from the same hymn sheet? Headlines this evening have changed from “Cable attacks Cameron”, to “Cable agrees with Cameron”. Perhaps there should be a quick meeting of top advisors at the same time as Cabinet each week with each department giving a list of the speeches its ministers are going to make, so that if there is to be a major policy disagreement it can be thrashed out before they look like a bunch of unruly kids, not after.

* Would it not be best for the News of the World to come clean now? It all looked good for a while; the Metropolitan police hadn’t really investigated and long sighs were being heaved.

But there are too many “important” people among the victims; too many with clout in the right places. It is bound to come out in the end.

In the meantime, I’d say John Prescott is bang on the nail. No matter how many dinners the Prime Minister rather stupidly has with Murdoch’s son, and no matter how unprofessional Vince Cable is, there is no way that the BskyB deal can go ahead while this is hanging over our Rupert. I’m not suggesting any impropriety you understand... but it is going to look like dodgy deal.