Monday 30 May 2011


Failed Westminster wannabe and Holyrood newbie Willie Rennie has made the most ridiculous assertion that Alex Salmond is an Anglophobe over his spirited defence of the Scottish justice system in light of recent Supreme Court rulings in the Cadder and Fraser cases.

Mr Rennie ex MP for Dunfermline and West Fife (until the voters of Fife got rid of him in 2010) list MSP for Central Scotland and Fife and newly anointed leader of the much reduced Lib Dems accused Alex after he said that UK Supreme Court “second guessing Scotland’s highest criminal court” was “totally unsatisfactory”. Rennie said the comments were more about “Anglophobia than Scottish Nationalism”...."we have the SNP jumping on any bandwagon that will further their causes of independence." Is Rennie such a crass hypocrite that he does not see the obvious point that he is jumping on exactly the same point to further his pro-Westminster, pro Nick Clegg Unionist agenda? Does he not think that with 54% of the vote, and seats, that standing up for Scotland is exactly what the First Minister should be doing?

Those with a mind to sling mud and have any reasoned debate descend into a tit-for-tat slanging match along the Westminster model (like Rennie) might counter with an accusation that Mr Rennie is the worst kind of Quisling that has not the faintest notion of what consensus politics is.

Let’s examine Mr Rennie’s position. Failed MP; told to sling his hook by the voters of Fife in 2010. With nothing better to do he vociferously canvassed the members of the Lib Dems in Fife and Central Scotland to propel his name right to the top of their regional list, without bothering to stand in a constituency, thus reducing the list system to a sort of Scottish House of Lords where rejected politicians, like Rennie, can get another seat on a gravy train without the moral obligation of a constituency endorsement. Because the Lib Dems did so disastrously that their failed leader tucked his tail between his legs and retreated to Shetland, he took his chance and stood unopposed as leader. Now he thinks that by importing the sort of beer garden politics of Westminster and cosying up to Nick Clegg and the coalition he will restore the Lib Dems to their pre-2011 Scottish position. The man really must be a half-wit!

Picture: Rennie off to Westminster with his mentor.

Sunday 29 May 2011


In August of last year David Cameron urged everyone to help rebuild the economy by taking our holidays in the United Kingdom. He said that the £115 billion tourist industry was fundamental to rebuilding the country.

That’s not an unreasonable request to make. Not only would this support the British hotel industry, it would also reduce the amount of UK money going abroad.

There is some excellent accommodation available in Britain and there are some interesting sites to see. The downside is that it is pretty expensive, but if you don’t mind splashing out on yourself it can be worth it.

I’ve always found holidaying in the UK to be too expensive. I can have a week in Paris for about half the price of a week in London. It is better suited, probably, to the likes of Cameron, who won’t have to count the pennies.

So Mr Cameron duly took a summer holiday in Kernow, where his child was born. Perhaps, mind, he was persuaded in his decision by the fact that it might have been unwise for Mrs C to fly when she was close to giving birth.

There was further proof that Mr Cameron was heeding his own advice when he cancelled his plans to spend his Christmas holiday with an old school friend, the prime minister of Thailand, on, it is believed, the advice of Mr Coulson, who thought it might look a bit elitist. The advice didn’t get as far as Mr Osborne next door, who took his break at Davos!

However, it seems that Mr Cameron has decided that, after all the English tourist trade can do without him for just now, because twice this year, although there were, I have no doubt, perfectly good accommodations in his native land, Mr Cameron has decided to fly out to Spain. Maybe their tourist industry is in an even worse state than England’s and in the spirit of generosity which Cameron clearly has (see the UK’s commitment to give a bigger proportion of GDP than any other country in the whole wide world), he has decided to support it instead of the home-grown one.

It could also be that the food is better and the weather better.

As a footnote to this, I’d also like to say that trying to look as if he is in sympathy with the “squeezed middle”, by taking the most uncomfortable and unpleasant flights with Easyjet or Ryanair, he just looks just plain silly. It’s good that he is not flashy about his wealth, but it is daft him trying to hide that he has it.

He reminds me of a guy who talks terribly posh, getting all guttural because he is in the company of common people. It’s false. And no one buys it.

We all know both the Camerons are rolling in money and that they could hire a Lear jet to take them on holiday and never notice the bill. And it’s not even that they don’t like luxury; they just spent £30,000 of ours doing up the Downing Street flat. My advice to him would be to take a mid range flight, business class. Or maybe even to be true to his word and take his holidays at Bognor!

Pics: David and Mrs C on a yacht off Turkey; George in Davos with a scarf that cost more than my whole holiday; and David with a saggy tummy and man boobs, ouch!


We are often told that the cost of the royal family is a Civil List of around £45 million a year, and the royalist loyalist press work out that that is 67p per person per year, and gushingly implore us to rejoice at the value for money that we get.

But of course they never take into consideration the far larger added costs like the Duchy of Cornwall’s £16 million+ which could be used in Kernow for the benefits of the people, not the personal living expenses of Charles and Mrs Parker Bowles in addition to the grant in aid money that Charles and his “wife” get to perform their duties.

There is the expense of running and maintaining the Queen’s Flight, covered by the Ministry of War, ditto the royal train, charged to the Department of Transport, and the mother of them all, security.

For some reason, no one will tell us what the security costs are. Apparently it’s secret for reasons of security, as if terrorists could circumvent security if only they knew how much it cost.

The costs for this fall on the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police, the Foreign office and, of course, the local police forces all over the UK which have to mount massive security operations on every occasion when a member of the family is in their area.

I remember a few years ago that the Queen and Philip came to open a park in Dundee. I had never seen so many police in my life. I had no idea that there were so many. All over the park, everywhere as far as the eye could see, were uniformed police, and heaven only knows how many plain clothes officers were hidden in the crowd. The cost must have been enormous.

I remember too that many years ago, Alex Salmond criticised Charles and his then “partner”, Mrs Parker Bowles, for announcing that they were going to be at Crathie church on the Sunday of a weekend visit to Balmoral, only to change their minds at the last minute, meaning that a massive security operation, costing the Aberdeenshire police tens of thousands of pounds, had been mounted for nothing.

The overall cost of this must (spread across the country) be hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

There are massive costs of providing security for the Andrew sisters who contribute nothing to the life of the country. Fortunately this security has been a casualty of the policing cuts in England, and now it has been announced that Edward is to lose security on his 80+-roomed, £30 million mansion. He’s not happy about it, of course. His family will continue to enjoy security when they are in their royal apartments in London and elsewhere, and when on royal duties but not on their private home.

What always amazes about these people is that they seem to think that it is out of the question for them to pay for anything like this from their own pockets instead of sponging from the “hard pressed, hard working British Family”.

They are inordinately rich. Although they do now pay tax on their private incomes from farms on their estates and other enterprises, they do not pay inheritance tax and as such the fortunes that they have amassed over the years are left untouched. If they are so desperately afraid that someone will get in to their mansions, they should do what other people do and install a security system.

At their own expense.

Pics: DIY royal security. "Does one want some?"; Eddy and the snippy bitch will have to learn some self defence, or maybe just fork out for security themselves?

Friday 27 May 2011

For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more

Well, hard times there may be, but at least one person doesn’t have to stint themselves when it comes to getting things done about the house.

It has come to light that, in the year since David Cameron moved into Downing Street, more that £680,000 has been spent on it by the pm, including £30,000 on his private apartments (above).

Now I didn’t know it, but it seem that an annual allowance of £30,000 is available to prime ministers for the upkeep of their personal accommodation at Downing Street, and that Mr Cameron has spent the lot. I wonder what he’ll use it for this year.

Last year’s lot was spent on plumbing, rewiring and redecorating the place. Apparently the furnishings (loadsa money, but precious little taste in my humble opinion) were paid for by the Camerons.

Another £653,192.34 was spent on external and internal renovation work to the offices and reception rooms in Downing Street. This included cabling, plumbing and energy efficiency improvements. (Jeez, I wish we could have some of that.)

Downing Street would not comment on exactly what the money was spent on and refused Freedom of Information requests asking what changes have been made to the Grade I listed building which the state owns and so is a council house by any other name.

No one would expect the prime minister, or our own first minister for that matter, to live in a slum, although god knows we expect a fair number of “ordinary people” to do so, but you’d have expected a little better in a year when austerity has been the name of the game and Cameron even made a big show of travelling to Spain on holiday with the most awful budget airline, and cancelled his Christmas holidays in Thailand, just to show us “ordinary people” that even “important people” were having to slum it...(well, except Osborne who doesn’t care for that sort of nonsense and trotted off to Klosters).

You see, I can hardly believe that the Browns, weird though they are, would have lived in a slum with water streaming down the walls and dodgy plumbing that required £30,000 spending on it to make it habitable.

It all reminds me of when the Queen Mother died and Charles got her old house. He was given £5 million of state (our) money to do it up. Now I grant you it is a big, no massive, house, but £5 million worth of repairs suggests that it’s hardly any wonder the poor old dear died, as there wasn’t a bloody roof on the place. OK, the decoration might not have been to Mrs Parker Bowles taste, but it was hardly a ruin with the paper hanging off the walls.

And so with Downing Street. They can’t be there THAT much. They have their constituency home and a country estate provided by us. Surely they could have tolerated the Browns’ decoration a bit longer given that some of the rest of us can’t afford to eat.

Why do these people think that they are worth things that we are not? Why do they think that we should pay for them? And why do they refuse us the details about them?

Between the foreign aid budget increases that this man has agreed to and his own insatiable desire to spend our money on himself, no wonder Osborne’s books get in a worse state by the day.

Nauseating picture of the "little women in the kitchen, wearing pretty dresses and talking about recipes while the men get down to talking about important things that they wouldn't understand". (Particularly idiotic in this situation as Michelle Obama could out-think David Cameron before she opened her eyes in the morning.)

Some tips on love and relationships from kids between the age of 5 and 10...


"Once I'm done with kindergarten, I'm going to find me a wife." (Tom, 5)


"On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date." (Mike, 9)


"You should never kiss a girl unless you have enough money to buy her a big ring and her own VCR, because she'll want to have videos of the wedding." (Jim, 10)


"No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell. That's why perfume and deodorant are so popular." (Jan, 9)


"Like an avalanche where you have to run for your life." (Roger, 9)

"If falling in love is anything like learning how to spell, I don't want to do it. It takes too long." (Leo, 7)


"If you want to be loved by somebody who isn't already in your family, it doesn't hurt to be beautiful." (Jeanne, 8)

"It isn't always just how you look. Look at me, I'm handsome like anything and I haven't got anybody to marry me yet." (Gary, 7)

"Beauty is skin deep. But how rich you are can last a long time." (Christine, 9)


"They want to make sure their rings don't fall off because they paid good money for them."
(Dave, 8)


"I'm in favour of love as long as it doesn't happen when 'The Simpsons' is on television." (Anita, 6)

"Love will find you, even if you are trying to hide from it. I have been trying to hide from it since I was five, but the girls keep finding me." (Bobby, 8)

"I'm not rushing into being in love. I'm finding fourth grade hard enough." (Regina, 10)


"One of you should know how to write a cheque because even if you have tons of love, there is still going to be a lot of bills." (Ava, 8)


"Don't do things like have smelly, green sneakers. You might get attention, but attention ain't the same thing as love." (Alonzo, 9)

"One way is to take the girl out to eat. Make sure it's something she likes to eat. French fries usually work for me." (Bart, 9)


"The person is thinking, Yeah, I really do love him. But I hope he showers at least once a day." (Michelle, 9)


"Spend most of your time loving instead of going to work." (Tom, 7)

"Be a good kisser. It might make your wife forget that you never take out the trash." (Randy, 8)

Wednesday 25 May 2011


Sometimes Boris Johnson comes over as a bit of a fool, but a relatively inoffensive English eccentric in the “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” mould; an Eton, Oxford toff who speaks Latin rather more fluently than he speaks English.

And as a backbench Conservative MP that is more or less what he was. A relic of England’s past, but a relatively amusing one.

However, having found himself propelled to a measure of importance as the Mayor of London, he has a more prominent role in the life of the English nation. And Boris, it seems, is not really cut out for that kind of scrutiny.

A few months ago, the English and possibly some Scots, Irish and Welsh descended upon London in mighty numbers to demonstrate about cuts in ...well, just about everything. There was a wide range of people from all sorts of backgrounds, including some of Boris’s own class. Most of them were peaceful and marched, as is their right, through London on a route agreed, until they massed in Hyde Park for a series of speeches by politicians and union leaders, countryside and student campaigners.

Before they got to Hyde Park, some of them branched off and headed for Oxford Street and Piccadilly where, disassociated from the bulk of the march, they engaged in various degrees of more direct action.

One group decided to have a sit-in in toff’s store, Fortnum & Masons in Piccadilly. TV cameras were allowed in, and the coverage I saw was peaceful. Mr Johnson, however, stated on ‘Question Time’ that the protestors had done 'tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage'.

Unfortunately for Mr Johnson a member of the Fortnum staff has said that the damage was minimal and he (Johnson) was asked by a London Assembly member to justify his remarks, which he did thus:

“The point that I was making was that the occupation of Fortnum & Mason was pure vandalism … The fact that Fortnum and Mason is owned by a charitable foundation, provides many jobs and pays its taxes was clearly lost on these ‘activists’.”

Not much of a justification for a tale of 'tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage' which actually was not done.

Boris maybe should be quiet about vandalism in any case. The people I saw sitting in in Fortnum’s were late teen/early twenties, student types, not unlike Bullingdon Club members David Cameron, George Osborne and ……yes, Boris Johnston, 20 something years ago, whose pleasure it was to get drunk and trash restaurants in Oxford and elsewhere.

Boris himself wrote in his autobiography: "We got drunk, trashed the Ritz and then went down Piccadilly to loot a few items from Fortnum's".

I wonder how it was OK for them to steal from Fortnums while drunk, and it wasn’t OK for a group of peaceful protestors of the same age to occupy the store for an hour or so 20 odd years later.

Incidentally, the Charitable trust which owns Fortnum’s, the Garfield Weston Foundation, was found by the Charitity Commission to have broken the law in its donations of over £1 million to the Conservative party. Could the moral indignation, not to mention hypocrisy, stem from that?

Pics: Boris on Bike using phone (probably illegal), and Boris before he got fat, when he was young, beautiful and shop lifting from Fortnum's.


Less than a year after dismantling the previous government’s plans for an “identity card” scheme, the coalition has decided to introduce an “identity assurance” scheme, which from what I can make out still involves a “card”. So that will be an “identity assurance card” instead of an “identity card”.

A prototype will be in use within months and will be used to reliably identify the users of government web sites, although just how reliably is the question.

Currently Visa (the credit card system preferred by the government, and the only one valid for the purchase of Olympic tickets) has been involved in trials with its customers, where they can log into government websites using their credit cards.

I’m not certain which is more dangerous: my credit card details being known by the government, or my use of government internet sites being known by my bank. But something even more worrying is that Francis Maude appears to be in charge of the project, which almost certainly dooms it to failure.

He reckons that the proposed system will make it more difficult for fraudsters to dupe the benefit and tax systems. (I’m not sure how some of his colleagues will feel about that, but perhaps they could find a way of ensuring that Noble Lords have a card as soon as possible, as they seem to be fiddling on a grand scale, according to one of their number.)

The use of the internet for the delivery of government services is not an unreasonable idea. Of course it will save a lot of money. Offices all over the country where people used to be able to go to talk about their business on a one to one basis have long since closed, or become call centres where people can at least talk to another human being about their problems, albeit not face to face. How much cheaper would it be to sack half of these staff and replace them with an online service?

Who cares about quality of service?

Another worry about this is that, of course, there are still people who have no idea how to use a computer, most of them over 65, and there are very many who have no access to a computer.

Use of public computers for personal transactions, with identity cards (sorry identity assurance cards, by people who are not “net savvy” will create far more security problems than use of the cards may eliminate.

Sometimes you have to wonder why they bothered changing governments in England. (I say that because our representation didn’t change at all, except that SNP and Liberal by-election wins went back to Labour!)

I trust that these cards will at least be free, and the invasion of our privacy won't, as proposed by the last lot of incompetents, cost us £40-£60.

Tuesday 24 May 2011


The Noble Baron Hanningfield made the claim in defence of his own fiddling in court in England today.

Hanningfield’s excuse for stealing money from the taxpayer was that he thought it was unfair that he did the work of four frontbenchers in the Lords and didn’t get properly recompensed for it. That's the Tories for you!!

Asked about the fact that he had claimed £25,000 for employing someone to whom he paid only £12,500, he said that he could have had £130,000 for staffing expenses had he been in the Commons.
Perhaps he hadn’t noticed that was wasn’t in the Commons (all these flunkies bowing and scraping and calling him “my lord” might have been a clue to that), and that if he had a problem with the amount of work that he had to do, he should have gone to his party leader and asked for more resources, instead of just stealing them.

His excuse for charging for hotel rooms for nights when he had been taken home (if I remember rightly, by his chauffeur), he said that 85% of Lords were doing it. But he wouldn’t name them. Well, it wouldn’t do you know, old chap, splitting on a fellow’s co-peers.

The poor old soul said that he had no stocks and shares, no savings and that most of his clothes came from Marks & Spencer. My goodness, a Tory peer dressing out of M&S, tut tut. (Actually M’lord only my best clothes come from M&S. You need a mortgage for them.)

He also, weirdly, produced a biscuit tin full of receipts which he said he had not claimed in a career of more than 40 years.

What kind of weirdo saves all his receipts for 40 years, doesn’t claim any of them and then steals public money and justifies it by saying that he felt he was underpaid.

At 70 the Noble Lord is entitled to his retirement pension, always supposing that he has paid his NI contributions. It’s good enough for millions of other people. Why is it not for him?


I reckon all the blog readers will be relieved to know that Munguin's Man in America, Danny, based as he is in the state of Missouri, was fortunate enough NOT to be in Joplin when the tornado hit. You can't imagine the relief I felt this morning when I saw his name in my inbox.

Monday 23 May 2011

Westminster reject Rennie announces his "team"!

Rejected Westminster MP and Holyrood Jonnie-come-lately Willie Rennie has unveiled his “team”. Fresh from his stunning “victory” on the Fife and Central Scotland list new Scottish Lib Dem leader Rennie has at last revealed his front bench team.

Willie was reluctantly propelled into the lime light as leader of the Lib Dem group after a hard fought leadership race where he was the only candidate. He hit the ground running by promising to reaffirm his cosy relationship with Nick Clegg and Westminster pals much as he remembered it down in his halcyon days in London. Rennie had had nothing much to do after the people of Fife told him to sling his hook in the 2010 English general election. Since then he has had to slum it as an advisor at the Scottish office until a suitable billet could be found.

Orkney constituency MSP Liam McArthur will take on education and energy; North-East list MSP Alison McInnes will be responsible for health and justice; South Scotland list MSP Jim Hume will take rural affairs, environment, housing and transport; failed ex-leader and Shetland constituency MSP Tavish Scott will deal with business and the economy. Leaving Willie as Lib Dem lord high everything else and leader. Needless to say there will be no chief whip!

The line up caused some raised eyebrows as Nick Clegg was expected to fill all the other roles. But in a shock move Nick was relegated to a back seat somewhere in Downing Street.

Arriving with all his colleagues in an off yellow Mini Rennie got straight down to work asked the way to the toilet before promising to hold the SNP and Alex Salmond to account.


I wanted to say a little more about the subject of families that I raised briefly in yesterday’s post.

It seems that a series of governments over the years has let down families in the UK. Ironic, as no matter the subject you can always assume that at some point in a speech a politician will mention them. Sometimes they are hard working, sometimes hard pressed, but they are almost invariably there and all government policies are alleged to support them.

So it’s pretty damned poor then that a research project has concluded that the UK’s families have amongst the worst conditions in Europe.

The report called ‘Family Pressure Gauge’ drawing on statistics from the EU and OECD, over 25 indicators with comparison over 26 countries, makes the following points.

*The UK has high levels of debt and poverty, coupled with long and unsocial working hours;
*Stress from money and work worries, along with a lack of support for parents and poor living conditions, are all factors;
*20% of families struggling to make ends meet;
*14% of families suffer "critical" levels of debt (compared to 1% of Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian households, to which at least Scotland is very close);
*Almost 25% of the average British working family income goes on childcare costs (double French costs and triple German).
*14% of families spends more than 40% of income on the rent or a mortgage (1.8% of French are in this situation).
*Britain is the second worst country in Europe for provision of maternity and paternity leave.
*340,800, British families (5%) live in severe housing deprivation with overcrowded homes in poor condition, without a bath, shower or indoor toilet, for example. (12 times more than in the Netherlands, and substantially worse than Germany or Spain and the Nordic countries).
*Britons work some of the longest hours in Europe (on average 43 per week).
78% of British workers do not have flexible working hours.

The report accuses the Cameron/Clegg Government of a lack of focus on family policy. The Childhood and Families task force, set up in June last year, has not, it says, delivered anything and pledges on flexible working had been reneged upon.

It says that things are set to get worse and with more redundancies, lower wages, higher inflation, rising interest rates, house possessions and so on, I can see where they are coming from.

According to figures from the Rowantree Foundation, a record 2.1 million children in Britain live in poverty, an increase of 400,000 in 5 years, despite one or both of their parents working. So much for Brown and Blair’s pledge of getting rid of it completely.

The report gives examples of families with two people working, where they are only just able to pay the interest on their mortgage, no holidays, no drinking and smoking and only a cheap car; others who work 50+ hours a week for around £14,000 a year.

This makes a total mockery of the spoutings of Iain Duncan-Smith that work is the way out of poverty. Not in Britain, it ain’t matey.

How on earth did we get ourselves into a mess like this?

Sunday 22 May 2011


Well Elliot Morley is doing 16 months for being a thief. The irony is that his crime was fiddling his Housing Benefit and living at our expense; so not much has changed then, except he doesn't have to fiddle it any more.

The Olympics will fail to provide a lasting legacy for sport in the United Kingdom, one of the commitments the London Committee gave to the IOC. Well, there’s a surprise. Who would have thunk it.

And talking of London’s Olympics, weren’t you completely nauseated by the excited tones of the BBC Olympics Co-ordinator person as he explained how the torch was coming to a place near you. Woop-de-bloody-do. I can hardly wait. Now I really can join in the fun and frolics that is London’s Olympics. Just as well considering how much I paid towards the bloody things.

Congratulations to my own MSP, Shona Robison, whom, in a tiny way, I had the pleasure of helping back to an incredible victory in Dundee. She has been appointed Minister for Sport and the Commonwealth Games. Now there’s an event a bit closer to home that will benefit my country and that I can support. Good luck to Shona in getting it right. I’m sure with her steady hand on the tiller we can avoid the laughable ticketing fiasco that London has turned out to be. I trust too that it would be a liftable offence, within a three mile radius of the games, to wear a t-shirt that doesn’t bear the name of a sponsor in our Games.

Chris Huhne, it seems, has changed his story. He just might have been driving after all. And moreover his wife has intimated that getting someone to take the rap for his speeding offences has happened before... all that at a time when they are launching an investigation into his election expenses. Just when you think it couldn’t go ‘wronger’ eh Mr H? Still, if you go down you'll have mates there. It will soon be more like the Commons than the Commons.

Don’t you think that all these super injunctions are going a bit too far? Overpaid, spoilt brat footballers who play away from home, and think that they can buy press silence because they get paid more in a week than some people earn in a lifetime, need to learn to keep their trousers around their waists. And the girls that sleep with them, knowing full well that they are married, are no better. Maybe it’s time that marriage meant marriage. But then, look at the example they got from people right at the top... Charlie, Andy, Fergie, Margaret, Mrs Parker Bowles, Fergie...... yawn.

Britain is one of the worst countries in Europe for families, according to a study by the Relationships Foundation. High levels of debt and poverty and long and unsocial working hours are among the causes. Cameron pledged to make Britain the "most family-friendly" nation in the world, but it turned out to be yet another empty promise as British families are only ahead of Bulgarian and Romanian ones. More on this tomorrow, I think.

Saturday 21 May 2011


Last week, on a radio show hosted by Victoria Derbyshire, a Sue McGregor or Sarah Montague wannabe, the English Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, said (and I paraphrase) that there are no rapes that aren’t bad and no rapes that aren’t wrong, but that some are worse than others.

It caused an outrage which has persisted through the week and into the weekend.

I forced myself to listen to the interview and I could find nothing actually wrong with what he was saying. Even if Ken Clarke’s delivery was a little laid back and clinical, rather than emotional, it was not offensive in its content. And what he was saying was surely correct.

People, quite rightly, feel very strongly about the subject, but, politically correct to say it, or not, there are some rapes that are far worse than others.

This is because rape is defined as all sexual activity where consent has not been given by both adult parties. It ranges from frenzied sexual attacks to consensual sex with a person who, because of age, is not LEGALLY competent to give consent, and all the statistics include both extremes, and all those in between.

Given that the age of consent varies within Europe from country to country, we have the ridiculous situation that, if a Frenchman of 18 and his 15 year old wife, on honeymoon in England, indulge in intercourse, then according to English law, (and Scottish for that matter) he will have raped her, because she was not old enough to give her consent. It may be offensive to English sensibilities, and wrong under their law, but it is surely very different from a rape which involves a violent attack in a dark alley by a complete stranger.

It is right that this, and pleading guilty, thus sparing the victim the further violation of reliving the event, should be reflected in sentencing. This is the general sense of the argument that Ken was trying to get over. It was not offensive. It was common sense.

As a result of the interview there have been calls for Clarke’s resignation from government, led by the opportunistic Ed Miliband.

Worse still Jack Straw, who never apologised for anything when in office, said that he would have apologised and that he would have been moved to another job (not sacked, just moved to another job) had he been in that situation. Presumably if you cock up one job in Labour, you are sent to another department so you can do it there too.

Meanwhile, it has gone almost completely unnoticed that on May 16, Nadine Dorries said in an interview with another daytime interviewer, that child abuse could be reduced if the victims had been taught to say “no”.

Now I’ll admit that I haven’t seen Dorries’ interview (nothing on Earth could persuade me watch Vanessa ‘does my bum look big in this’ Phelps), but it seems to me that her comments (if reported correctly) were very much more offensive than those of her senior colleague.

Maybe it’s just that everyone ignores or laughs at anything Dorries says, as a matter of course.

I don't make a habit of supporting Conservative English cabinet secretaries, but I do so in this case, and I deplore Labour for jumping on a “populist” bandwagon.

Rape is far too serious a crime for this petty politicking and point scoring political correctness. It might help if we could talk about it like adults.

Friday 20 May 2011


Alex Salmond: First Minister (Constitutional affairs)

Nicola Sturgeon: Deputy First Minster
Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing

Shona Robison: Minster for Commonwealth Games & Sport
Michael Matheson: Minister for Public Health

John Swinney: Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment & Sustainable Growth

Aileen Campbell: Minister for Local Government & Planning
Fergus Ewing: Minister for Energy, Enterprise & Tourism

Kenny MacAskill: Cabinet Secretary for Justice

Rosanna Cunningham: Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs

Michael Russell: Cabinet Secretary for Education & Lifelong Learning

Alasdair Allan: Minister for Learning & Skills
Angela Constance: Minister for Children & Young People

Richard Lochhead: Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs & the Environment

Stewart Stevenson: Minister for Environment & Climate Change

Bruce Crawford: Cabinet Secretary for Government Business & Strategy

Brian Adam: Minister for Government Business & Chief Whip

Alex Neil: Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure & Capital Investment

Keith Brown: Minister for Housing & Transport

Fiona Hyslop: Cabinet Secretary for Culture & External Affairs

Law Officers:

Lord Advocate: Frank Mulholland
Solicitor General: Lesley Thomson


Back in March, you may recall (if you were paying attention, which I hope you were) I relayed to you (as part of my self-imposed public service remit) a stern warning from an American reverend gentleman of the Evangelical Church of Utter Nutjobs, a certain Harold Camping.

The “End of the World” was nigh, he informed us. We had less than two months to get ourselves sorted out and prepare for RAPTURE.

Well, I’m here to tell you (reminded by Danny, our man in America with his finger on the pulse of the Church of Utter Nutjob’s activities) that the nearly two months is up ...tomorrow. So I hope you’ve heeded the warning, repented your sins and left your affairs in good order, because those of you who have been good will, tomorrow, be raptured and taken up into Heaven, and the rest of us will be left here on Earth to face the consequences of our evil ways with earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, Nick Clegg and other natural, and unnatural, disasters.

Now the good Mr Camping neglected to intimate to me, exact details of the actual hour at which this will occur, so this may be the “last post” of mine that you will ever read... and if somebody has been very sloppy with the record keeping up there in Heaven, or indeed the “system is down”, and I myself am “raptured”, this may even be the last post that I shall ever write.

Failing that (and you'll remember that the good reverend has a rather dubious record on accuracy when it comes to predicting the world's end), I’ll see you all on Sunday.

Bonne fin de la semaine ou du monde, et bon rapture (maybe)!

Wednesday 18 May 2011

SOME MORE OF MY .............

It appears that Monsieur Strauss-Kahn’s alleged victim lives in an apartment block where property is rented to people who are HIV+ or have AIDS. If he did have sexual relations with her, his term in a New York jail may be the least of his worries. How the mighty CAN fall within a very short period in the USA. One minute this man holds a very senior position in a worldwide organisation, and is likely to contest the next election for President of France; the next he is in the pokey with the possibility of AIDS hanging over him. Just shows you, doesn’t it.

Talking of perverts (this time not sexual), old Chris Huhne is helping Kent police with their inquiries into an alleged attempt to pervert the course of justice, over the matter of who was driving a car when it was clocked speeding. Whose coat’s on a shoogly peg?

Pegs don’t get too much more shoogly than the one that David Laws’ coat is currently on. Labour’s Tom Docherty has complained to the Metropolitan Police that if one of his constituents wrongly claimed £56,000 in housing allowance, he would be expecting more than a 7 day suspension from his work and a request to pay it back. No matter what the reason for the fraud. Right with you there Mr Docherty. I'm very happy to see that someone had the guts to make a complaint. The government or Commons authorities weren't about to.

I’m also very happy that two men have been charged with the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Filthy scum that can murder a young man only because of the colour of his skin, a man worth 100 of them, should rot in hell, never mind go to prison. If they are guilty I hope they find themselves n a cell block almost entirely populated by BIG black men. That would be such a comfort to me. The murder and the incompetence of the Met ruined the lives of the Lawrences and, despite their difficulties they have acted with decency and decorum. Let’s hope that this trial will bring some sort of peace to them. It's the very best of news.

So of course is the fact that Big Eck is officially First Minister Elect and only awaiting the Queen’s nod, which, unless she has a soft spot for Iain Gray (as if) she is bound to give. Tomorrow the Cabinet will be announced. I wondering what he can change, or should change and frankly I’m not seeing anything. They have all performed exceptionally well. They will, I suppose, need a Constitutional Affairs minister, given the changes they are hoping to achieve, and maybe that should be at Cabinet level to give it gravitas. He has consistently promised that he will govern with as much consensus as possible and today’s speech suggested the same. However, a government with a majority can and sometimes will have to vote its business through. That’s what the people wanted.

Talking of which, Willie Rennie seems to have understood very little of what the people said to the Liberals at the election. He is right in there behind Clegg, his ex-boss, and Michael Moore, another old boss. The drubbing that you got, Willie, was about the fact that you are in bed with David Cameron. Sticking with the coalition now is really rather like finding something that makes you vomit, and ordering another helping. Plain daft.

Tuesday 17 May 2011


I don't know how true they are but they are a bit of a laugh even if some are a little risqué:

1. The toilet is blocked and we cannot bathe the children until it is cleared.

2. I want some repairs done to my stove as it has backfired and burnt my knob off.

3. This is to let you know that there is a smell coming from the man next door.

4. The toilet seat is cracked: where do I stand?

5. I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is running away from the wall.

6. I request your permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.

7. Our lavatory seat is broken in half and is now in three pieces.

8. The person next door has a large erection in his back garden, which is unsightly and dangerous.

9. Will you please send someone to mend our cracked sidewalk. Yesterday my wife tripped on it and is now pregnant.

10. Our kitchen floor is very damp, we have two children and would like a third, so will you please send someone to do something about it.

11. Will you please send a man to look at my water, it is a funny color and not fit to drink.

12. Would you please send a man to repair my downspout. I am an old age pensioner and need it straight away.

13. Could you please send someone to fix our bath tap. My wife got her toe stuck in it and it is very uncomfortable for us.

14. I want to complain about the farmer across the road. Every morning at 5:30 his cock wakes me up, and it is getting too much.

15. When the workmen were here they put their tools in my wife's new drawers and made a mess. Please send men with clean tools to finish the job and keep my wife happy.

Saturday 14 May 2011


Have you ever been to one of these parties where you were expecting a houseful and only 4 people turned up, and even they left early?

Well today there was one such do in London. The rally against debt, organised in response to the March rally against cuts when hundreds of thousands took to the streets, had been promised around 1500 adherents on Facebook, but in the end only about 350 people bothered to turn up.

Even some of its most ardent supporters found that they had other engagements.

Speakers included Paul Staines (Guido Fawkes to you and me), Nigel Farage (UKIP leader), Matthew Sinclair of the Taxpayers’ Alliance and Tory MP Priti Patel. At one point the “crowd” chanted “What do we want? Cuts! When do we want them? Now!

They complained bitterly that they want cuts now so that their children and grandchildren don’t have to pay, but of course most of the protesters were people who wouldn’t actually “suffer” from cuts. They want rid of libraries that they never use; parks that they have no need of; public transport that they shun; benefits they wouldn’t be seen dead collecting and health services that people like them simply don’t need.

And of course they are entitled to these views. I can’t help but wonder if I were a millionaire paying 50p in the pound on my earnings over £150,000 a year, would I not think it was a bit steep that I had to subsidise buses so that poor people could go places; libraries so that they could read; parks for their children to play in, or benefits that their likes are forever trying to get their hands on?

I’d like to think that I wouldn’t mind. I’d like to think that, having more than enough myself, I wouldn’t object to paying just that little bit more so that they could have a little. I’d like to think I’d have a bit of compassion for people who weren’t as lucky as me.

Anyway, it is cheering that only around 350 people from all over the UK thought it worth turning up... and that, as it was so dull, they all went home early.

Friday 13 May 2011

RANDOM THOUGHTS-----TWO DAYS OLD (Well, I didn't want to waste it)

Mr Cameron is desperate to get troops home from Afghanistan, as I am sure most of us are.

However, it is rather worrying that he is telling military chiefs that he wants the drawdown to being almost immediately, despite their worries that the whole mission could be put at risk if too many troops are withdrawn too quickly.

However, although the military chiefs were only happy for 200 to leave, Mr Cameron has insisted that 450 be ready to go. According to the Telegraph, he will clear the final numbers with President Obama when he makes a state visit to England next month. In any case, the paper reports Mr Cameron wants all troops home by 2014, in time for the next election, a surprising admission for a Tory leaning newspaper.

Elsewhere in the Telegraph, I was bemused to read that Mrs Parker Bowles professed staunch support for the freedom of the press at all levels of British society. I had to blink and pinch myself when I read that, as I reminded myself that parliament recently passed a law removing her “husband”, his son and his mother from any FoI requests, even if they are in the public interest. So clearly what she means when she says ‘freedom of the press for everyone at all levels of British society’ is ‘freedom of the press for everyone at all levels of British society (except her “husband’s”)’.

She also talked of Willie’s and Kate’s wedding saying that she was sure it made everyone feel proud to be British. Well, call me strange if you will, but I’m wondering how, in all seriousness, two people who are youngish, and probably fond of each other (“in love, whatever that means”) getting married can make us proud to be British. I mean people may love the romanticism of a wedding, the spectacle of a golden coach and crowns and all that fairy tale stuff, and some people clearly made a lot of money out of it (mainly in China), but why would that make you proud?

I wondered too, if by Mrs P-B’s logic, the divorces of Margaret, Charlie, Andy, Anne, and Katherine (of Kent), made people ashamed to be British, or did they, by some strange quirk, make us proud too?

What nonsense people talk!

David Cameron had been hoping that David Laws would soon be back in government. Mr Laws who was Chief Secretary to the Treasury for 17 short days before he was found to have been fiddling expenses, and was perhaps at the point where he could do a Peter Mandelson and return from the naughty step, put the Dark Lord to shame, by falling foul of the authorities BEFORE returning to a position of responsibility. He has been suspended from the Commons for 7 days and will have to pay back tens of thousands of pounds stolen from the taxpayer.

But it has to be said that the matters leading to this are the same ones that cost him his Cabinet post 11 months ago. The breaches were investigated, initially by the police, but then passed to John Lyon, the standards commissioner, for an investigation which has thrown up the extent of Mr Law’s illegal claims.

Poor Mr Cameron; he has very little real talent at his finger tips and Mr Laws is reputed to be very clever... Clever enough to avoid the fate of poor wee Jim Devine, although clearly not clever enough to avoid this ignominy!

Wednesday 11 May 2011


Gourock in Inverclyde

Did you hear the one about the Scottish Council that had a plan to make vast efficiency savings of £1.9 million pounds a year? No?

Oh, well listen; it’s a good one.

So, this council got hold of Price Waterhouse Coopers and they paid them £650,000. Well worth it, you might think, and you’d be probably be right, if it weren’t for one small glitch. The council’s expected £1.9 m savings actually turned out to be only £250,000.

So, you wonder, who could have come up with such a stupid scheme? And the answer is corporate director Paul Wallace, heads of service John Arthur and Gordon McLoughlin, and head of IT project management Arun Menon, all of whom have (and you might think, quite rightly) been suspended from work.

You might think it a little less right that they are suspended on full pay, a collective £6,000 a week. But you would surely be completely dumbfounded if I told you that the suspensions have lasted 17 weeks, yes 17 weeks, so far. And that is just the investigation. After that has concluded, the nature of any disciplinery action will have to be decided.

Those carrying out the investigations into what went wrong and who is to blame are apparently lost and bamboozled as they struggle to sort out the mess, and no one is very sure how much longer the group of suspendees will continue to be paid generously at the expense of the local council taxpayer and the population of Scotland.

John Mundell, who is the chief executive of Inverclyde with overall responsibility for the project, and whom you might have reasonably though would have also been suspended, but hasn’t been, has been accused of failing to convene meetings of the steering group. Of course at that level of management, you’d have expected one of the others to mention this to him... and if he refused, to call the meetings himself, or pass on concerns to an elected member who could take appropriate action.

But it does seem to me that expecting anything except the unexpected of Inverclyde, is probably not a good bet. In that light you probably won't be surprised to know that the scheme with all its shortcomings, is still being operated.

I wonder if there is any connection between this farce and the fact that in February the Leader of the council, and of the Labour group, Mr Stephen McCabe stepped down from that role to “spend more time with his family”.

Monday 9 May 2011


According to The Mail on Sunday (OK 'niff said) the Westminster government has agreed to meet the full cost of a state funeral for Mrs Thatcher.

The paper announced that it will take place at St Paul’s Cathedral, at her own request. (Imagine being so self important as to ASK for a state funeral). Apparently it has not yet been decided if she will lie in state in Westminster Hall.

This means that a woman who destroyed the fabric of our society by encouraging greed and denying the existence of that very society (presumably because she had no part in it), tearing communities apart, wrecking the industrial base of the country, concentrating all the UK’s talents in the finance and insurance industry (great idea with hindsight, eh Maggie?) and setting the path for the rich getting obscenely more rich, and the poor getting third world poorer, will be honoured in the same way as Winston Churchill (whom she liked to pretend she knew), Nelson, Wellington, Palmerston and Gladstone.

Even the Queen Mother was not accorded a state funeral.

What a joke!

Plans are well afoot, it would seem, as Thatcher is getting more and more frail. Organization is in the hands of Malcolm Ross, former Master of the Royal Household (as opposed to mistress of it, which was the job of Mrs Parker-Bowles). He apparently organized the funerals of Margaret and the Queen Mother so he's good at it.

According to the paper the reason that Thatcher is to have money we don't have lavished upon her is that she reversed Britain’s post war decline (really?); she was a woman (really?) and she won three elections (against Neil Kinnock? I could ahve done that), and that she won the Falklands War (although it was only a conflict at the time, despite the fact that she thought it put her on the same level as Winston)

So... given the situation we are currently in, and were in during most of her premiership, I’m disinclined to think much of the first reason; the fact she’s a woman is a bit loose, allowing another 30 million or so people to apply; winning three elections also puts Blair in the frame, and as far as the war is concerned, I don’t remember seeing her in the Falklands until it was all over, so I’m wondering how she managed to win it. I do remember that she claimed full credit for sinking the Belgrano ... and the taking of 323 young lives. Well done Mrs T, you must be proud.

I hope that the government has considered the security threat that this funeral will pose; and the fact that it will give people all over the country the opportunity to demonstrate...unless of course, like at the Royal wedding, the police decide in conjunction with the palace, that peaceful demonstration will be illegal.

One thing I'm glad about. Clearly if we can afford another extravaganza like the wedding, we must have more of less paid off the deficit, so hopefully VAT and petrol duty will come down in the next few weeks.


There have been calls for Annabel Goldie to join the ranks of the departing leaders at Holyrood. She has said she won’t go.

I say good for her. Why would the acceptable face of the Tory Party resign?

There have been losses, small compared to the other two parties, but losses nonetheless. However, I think that without Goldie, who is liked by Scots (she was behind Alex in popularity, but above the other two) the losses would have been far worse.

It’s an image problem. The Tories are associated with a variety of things, mostly old, mostly stuffy, and the first thing I would do is change the name and make it independent of, if associated with, the London Party. For as long as it is called the CONSERVATVE party, it will be associated with Thatcher and Forsyth.

They are poison...Thatcher appears to have left the public arena now, but every time that man opens his mouth with an idea so counter democratic, he makes the Tory’s situation worse.

The people of Scotland voted for the SNP only 3 days ago; they slaughtered Labour and Liberals and holed the Tories enough for them to be talking about ditching Annabel.

And then this memory from the dim and distant past puts a proposal that he will introduce a measure in the unelected House to spike the duly elected government’s independence referendum.

This is a government which the system was designed to prevent ever being elected... and yet they were, by sheer dint of numbers. With an overall majority of 10. And Forsythe wants to spike its guns a couple of days after its election?

You see what I mean about these people? They live in another world and have begun to see themselves as above democracy. “We put in a system you Scots weren’t supposed to be able to win through. Somehow you did. However we’ll spike you in the Lords.”

So I have a message to Forsyth.

Will you bloody well listen you silly little man? You may be sitting in an unelected house of peers; you may even be considered by your colleagues to be an elder statesman (although you were only ever SOS for Scotland, hardly a big gun), however, there is a “just elected” government in Scotland. Just elected with an unassailable majority. Listen to what the people have said. Don’t try to thwart democracy when it doesn't throw up what YOU wanted.

It is claimed that Alex Salmond hid the independence theme right the way through the election. Rubbish! I doubt if anyone who went to vote doesn’t know that the SNP is the independence party.

OK, it was NOT the story that people were asking about. (I went to a few hustings and it was never mentioned once.) But even if there are some people who are unimaginably stupid, and thought we were a unionist party, both Tavish and the Subway man short work of that with their “IF YOU VOTE SNP, YOU ARE VOTING FOR INDEPENDENCE” campaign, which of course was a lie. You were actually voting for a VOTE on independence, among a great number of other things. But hey, that’s politics.

So Tories, by all means have your conference; find out what went wrong and act on it. But remember:

Annabel is well liked, and a huge amount of the blame must rest with Cameron coming up here and telling us we could do better. You need to take into consideration that we are aware of the cuts, job losses and misery that you are causing. And finally tell relics like Forsyth to sit quietly in the Lords, collect their drink money, and SHUT UP.

Alex Salmond used to Praise the Lord when Thatcher came to campaign in Scotland. I imagine he must feel the same about Cameron.

And every time Forsyth opens his mouth the SNP cheer and go up in the polls.

Sunday 8 May 2011


Have you noticed that the latest London government catch phrase is “in the national interest”? In recent interviews Nick Clegg said it, Cameron said it, Tess May hardly said anything else, Danny Alexander and Michael Moore said it.... I suppose they are trying to tell their supporters that they don’t like each other at all, but they are biting the bullet and tolerating each other “in the national interest”. And maybe they even think that we, or at least some of us, will believe it... instead of believing that they stay together out of sheer naked ambition and fear of humiliation should they be the shortest-lived government since...well, forever, I should think.

The “No” campaign has been telling us how awful AV would be and how we would be stuck forever with weak and unwanted coalitions, whilst FPTP, would ensure strong firm government with sizable majorities. So, something must have gone wrong. After all the London coalition is about as popular as a cornucopia of slugs at the Chelsea Flower Show (yes that is the collective noun for slugs) and it was elected by.....? Whereas the Scottish government, which has a majority of 10 (sizeable given the number of members) was elected by ....oh remind me... how was it elected again?

I was reminded on Thursday night after seeing Paul Air Miles Martin of what a graceless little man he is. A bad looser, he just couldn’t bring himself to congratulate the SNP on their victory. He kept on in an aggressive tone that Labour would hold them to account for every single promise they made in their manifesto. The irony seems to escape him that that is exactly the job of an opposition hold the government to account. I’m surprised he didn’t think they did that in the last parliament. It was certainly what we paid them for. As a son of a baron (chuckle: even one that the House of Lords didn’t want) the unlovely Paul is entitled to the style “The Honourable” before his name. Well... how about that?

I once met Margaret Curren, and in fairness I thought she was not a bad Minister for Social Justice. She and I travelled to a site in Dundee together for her to meet people my organisation had helped to find work there. She seemed a competent woman, on top of the job and furthermore she was good company. So I was disappointed to see the shrill, angry, inarticulate version of Margaret on the election coverage on STV. You used to be much nicer Margaret.

Talking of the TV election coverage...and I can only really speak for STV’s which I thought was excellent (I can’t bear to watch Dumblebum on the BBC)... why is it that they invite MPs in to talk about what’s going on in OUR parliament? I mean they don’t get MSPs or AMs in to comment when they’re electing the English/UK parliament. And in any case isn’t it a bit of a waste of time? All they say that it is “too early to draw any firm conclusions”, and that so and so, “fought an excellent campaign on the doorstep” and was “an exceptional candidate”. What I did enjoy, though, was Bernard Ponsonby’s knowledgeable comments and those of the professor of politics who analysed the results, and trends.

Nick Clegg and Cameron have agreed that we will hear no more about electoral reform now, the AV referendum having been run and any change well and truly trounced. So, I’d agree, the public made it clear they didn’t want AV, not surprisingly seeing as how many babies it would seemingly kill, but we still haven’t had any say on whether we want proportional representation. Have we?

Friday 6 May 2011


Pic: Munguin, celebrating the SNP victory.

People at elections often say that a win here or a win there is historic, even if it's not. But this time it really is. From borderlands to the north coast and islands, from mountain villages to central industrial city constituencies, from east to west and on to Gaelic speaking islands, last night there was a seismic shift to the SNP.

I was enjoying watching the STV coverage on-line with emails back and forward with Danny in the USA. Then my internet went down and I couldn’t get it back, so I watched the coverage on tv from bed, intending to go to sleep after the first few seats and had been declared. But as the crashing victories came one after the other, I just couldn’t switch off. It seemed like I was experiencing something ground breaking in my country and I felt that, although I was alone, I wanted to be a part of it. So, there I lay, eyes drooping from time to time, all night, until STV stopped its coverage at 6 am, always thinking that surely it wouldn’t, couldn’t, go on like this.

But as we all know, it did.

I should have had more faith. As Nicola pointed out: They said we wouldn’t get a parliament in Scotland, and we did. They said the SNP would never be the government and we were. They said that no party would ever form a majority government in Scotland, and we are going to. So, we prove over and over that the unimaginable can happen.

I was happy tonight to hear her say that there would be no change in the governmental style. We may have a majority of the seats, but it doesn’t mean that we have a monopoly on wisdom.

So let those who will work with us and contribute constructively come forward. In fairness both the Liberals and the Tories have done this grandly over the last four years; Labour rarely.

But Joanne Lamont has said that that is what they will seek to do.

Let’s hope that that is true. Some of the attitude last night from Labour commentators was shameful. The bitterness of the Hon Paul Martin and bitchiness of Hon Margaret Curren was sickening. But we’ll rise above it. I hope they will too.

There’s a lot to be done and a smaller amount of money to do it with. But we must make it work for the sake of Scotland.

It’s been great hearing all the happy posts from internet friends today. From David in Japan to Danny in Missouri and Lord Snooty who seems to be in his French residence at the moment and of course from mates all over Scotland. I just wish John Brownlie had been in the country to share this, and that Sophia Pangloss would come out of retirement and give us a twirl.

The next 5 years is going to be hard, but it’s going to be great fun.

As old Wendy would say “Bring it on”.