Tuesday 30 August 2011


I heard this morning that the much-heralded bonfire of the quangos was going with a whimper.

For, although there may have been some amalgamation of functions, and rearranging of names, not much has happened in quangoland.

Not much, that is unless you count the neat way that the quango bosses have been adding to their incomes by acquiring bonuses for performance, not GOOD performance you’ll note, just performance; pension additions (pensions, for the rest of you, are things that the super-rich acquire to allow them to leave the UK for the sun when they get older), and special allowances, which are just another way of trousering more public money for nothing.

When the government said that it would freeze public sector pay, what it meant was it would freeze the pay of unimportant people in the public sector: the girl in the tax office, the lad in the housing department...

We should have and would have known had we realised who was in charge of all this... Yes, it’s Francis (I do so much for the big society that I can’t remember a single thing) Maude. Yep, Old Maudie, has published a list of all those bureaucrats who earn more than £150,000 ... but what he let out, was the bit between the £150,000 and the £700,000 that is comprises the extras. Oh well, Maudie, what’s a few hundred thousand between friends, what?

On the list, however, is Mr Tony Fountain (yes, that’s his name, unfortunately name for the chairman of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority). And Tony receives £365,000 for doing that job. That’s £1,000 a day. But then Tony couldn’t be expected to live on a pittance like that. He has to have nearly £86,000 for a second home and a further...wait a minute, why does Tony need a second home at THAT kind of money? Come to that, why does he need a second home at all? If you add another £70,000 for his pension.... yes, that’s in ONE YEAR... the bold Tony manages to scone us out of just over £520,000. Still he saved the government a lot of money recently by closing part of Sellafield with the loss of 600 jobs... Needless to say when asked about the size of the remuneration package, the Nuclear Authority rolled out the tired old crap about needing to attract the right kind of person blah,bloody blah, yawn.

David Higgins who was in charge of the Olympic Delivery Authority and who is now at Network Rail job has a bonus of £179,000 making his total income £705k. And the excuse for him being paid that much is some tat about doing an “inspirational job”. I wonder why he left then. It’s not over; I haven’t missed something, have I? Oh please tell me I didn’t miss the London Olympics. I’ve been sooo looking forwa... Ha ha Gotcha! It’s OK, I haven’t: I was only joshin’.

The bonfire of the quangos was a fairy story. Then there’s a report out suggesting that unless the DWP radically changes the targets for getting people off JSA and incapacity benefits into work, 90% of the agencies employed to do the work will go broke. Oh and Gid’s finance plan, for which you will remember there was no “plan B” isn’t working (the deficit continues to rise). The Olympic plans are getting right up Londoners’ noses. House ownership figures are falling; rents in the private sector are scandalously high and there is virtually no social housing.

It just gets better and better under the Tories, don’t it!

Pic: Francis Maude. Our Francy is a bit of an old hypocrite. Not only did insist that everyone in the UK should do something for the Big Society, and then fail to be able to find one thing that HE did, except that which was his job as an MP... but he also was the well remunerated chairman of Prestbury Holdings, a mortgage company that went bust in 2009, whilst being critical of the Labour government's attitude to easy credit... tut tut. Some of Prestbury's appointed representatives specialised in brokering high-risk mortgages to people who had poor credit histories. Glass houses, stones, people, throw, who, in, live, shouldn't.

Sunday 28 August 2011


London motorists will be hit with a £200 fine if they ignore Olympic restrictions and stray into Games Lanes between 6am and midnight on 30 miles of Central London roads during the games next year.

Additionally, pedestrian crossings along the route will be removed to make way for the VIP lanes and right turns across the lanes will be banned, to ensure Olympic dignitaries are not held up.

£12million of public money has been spent fitting underground sensors along the route of the ‘dignitaries’. These will detect congestion surrounding VIP cars and then change nearby traffic signals to green so that they will not be delayed.

And 240 VIPs will be given use of luxury BMW saloons, with drivers, while another 2,800 officials will use have a pool of cars provided at taxpayers’ expense.

Yes, this is at OUR expense; government cash has had to be made available for modifications to roads, and to provide transport and accommodation for what is termed the “Olympic Family”. The Olympic family, by the way, is vast... some 80,000 people are involved. The accommodation is luxurious and has to be subsidised.

The result of all this pampering of course will be that hundreds of thousands of Londoners going about their work, and ordinary punters from all over the world who have somehow managed to get their hands on the tickets (the few that were not put aside for the corporate sponsors), will sit for hours in traffic while the chosen ones speed past. It is not impossible, nor even improbable that ticket holders will be held up for so long that they will miss the events for which they have tickets.

What chaos; what expense (the sensors to ensure VIPs are not held up cost £12 million of our money); what a farce that there will be any legacy for the UK which is paying for this.

And of course it’s ordinary people who pay the price and the VIPs (what a disgusting term) who enjoy the luxury. And all to make Cameron and his crew look good in front of the world.

What a sickening pile of pants the UK is. Let us out.

Note: The information in this article is taken largely from the Daily Mail. It comes, therefore with the customary warning that it may be a pile of tripe.

Friday 26 August 2011


A BP guard shot a polar bear in Alaska, in error because he thought he was shooting “beanbags” and did not know he had live bullets in his gun. OK... that is very sloppy; if, as part of your job you are going to fire guns, it’s probably a good idea to know what you are firing. But the thing that makes me utterly sick is that BP staff monitored the bear until she died 11 days later. What kind of sick people does BP employ?

Royal Mail has been cutting costs... And coincidently around 10% of first class (well, what THEY laughingly call first class) mail failed to get to its destination on time. Among other things that were to blame for this was...wait for it ...Iceland and its volcano. Yes, not only did the last prime minister label little Iceland “terrorists”, but it’s now their fault that the Royal Mail doesn’t know its bottom from its armpit. I was told that if I wanted to guarantee a next day delivery of a letter to Glasgow (from Dundee, about 80 miles away), it would cost me £5.50. You get brilliant service if you can afford a first class stamp at that price.

You remember Iris Robinson, wife of Ulster’s first minister, devout fire and brimstone Christian, hater of anything divergent from the word of the good book... oh, and incidentally, the 60 year old granny who was having it off with a 19 year old kid behind her husband’s back? Yes, surely you remember her... No? Well, she was also a local councillor, an MP and an AM... not bad money (especially if you add her husband’s many and various incomes and the fact that they were both a bit heavy handed on the old expenses)... Coming back to you now? She had a nervous breakdown when it turned out that she was a bit of a cradle snatching old woman... A contributory factor to that mental illness might have been that she was accused of using her position in the council to secure her teenage lover boy a catering contract, without disclosing her interest (well she wouldn’t, would she?) and of getting him a big fat loan from another “friend of the family”, of which, I seem to recall, despite her 3 salaries and numerous expenses, she wanted a slice. Is it coming back to you? Yes. That’s it; that’s her. Well, you’d never be guessing (as they say in Ireland) but she’s been completely exonerated. And she’s been cured too. That’s a bit of luck the two coinciding like that. Or maybe it’s because she’s in a close relationship with God or something...who knows? In other news a bloke who stole a t-shirt from the Armani shop in Birmingham during their riots was jailed for 20 months... I say 20 months... Funny old world, ain’t it?

I had to laugh tonight at the BBC news about Al Megrahi. It seems that the Little Blue Man, Nick Clegg, is calling him to be returned to Scotland to jail. Al Megrahi has broken the terms of his licence you see. He has moved house without informing his parole authorities and hasn’t kept in touch by telephone. Hmmm. Now I wonder why that would be. Oh yeah, I’ve heard they are having a spot of local bother... a riot or two, this time supported by Cameron and his puppet. (I wish they’d make their minds up.) Maybe the phones aren’t working too well; maybe his house isn’t secure any more... He was a friend of Gaddafi and as such is likely to be in hiding, but just as likely to be dead by the end of next week, wonder drug or no wonder drug. In the mean time, does anyone know what gets blue paint out of Armani suits?


Messieurs-dames, nous vous présentons poète, chanteur, politicien, Yves Duteil. J’aime tellement cette chanson… J’espère que vous l’aimerez, vous aussi.

Thursday 25 August 2011


Sometimes, even I have to feel sorry for some indecently rich people. And between chuckles this morning when reading this article, I am sure I could detect just a wee, tiny, infinitesimal twinge of sympathy... or maybe it was lumbago, who knows.

Fred Goodwin, Fred the Shred, and to Gordon Brown and his cronies ‘SIR’ Fred was, until a couple of years ago, a lucky man. Doubtless he had some talent and a lot of drive, having risen from relatively humble beginnings to be the chairman of Scotland’s biggest company, and one of the UK’s big banks (having taken over Williams and Glynn and National Westminster Banks, the latter of which was three times its size).

He was even knighted in 2004 for services to banking, despite, or perhaps because of his ruthless management style which saw him “shred” companies, paring them to minimum staffing levels and maximum profits. Oh, how little they knew!

Well, we all know what happened then. We all know, because the prime minister of the day told us. It all started in America, spread around the entire world, and landed here, in Britain, and North Britain.

Of course those of us with more than one working brain cell knew that that was the usual pile of rubbish that Brown was apt to blether*. What we knew was that in many parts of the world banking and bankers had been allowed to get out of hand; they believed that they had found magical ways of making gold, latter day alchemists if you will... but alchemy is a science that belongs in the 17th century world of “Captain Face”, “Subtle” and “Dol Common”** or maybe even today’s “Harry Potter”. And, as had happened before, it all came crashing down.

And because Freddy boy and his bank had been in the forefront of the alchemy, the seeming possessor of the philosopher’s stone that turned base metal into gold, he came crashing down the harder when the whole banking Ponzi scheme fell apart.

But in the way of these things, Fred picked himself up, dusted himself off, and despite, or maybe because of the intervention of the then Minister for the City, Paul Myners, he trotted off abroad and into the sunset with his knighthood, a pension of gigantic proportions and the prospect of another job in the offing, while the British taxpayer was left with a multi-billion pound bill to pay for the credulity or, stupidity perhaps, of its leaders...and bankers.

However, not all has been rosy for Goodwin, despite his fortune. The size of his pension was revealed as being £700,000, not a bad amount for steering a company downwards to be worth approximately 2% of what it had been worth a few years previously, causing outrage. Then someone used parliamentary privilege to reveal that Freddy was one of the super rich who had paid for a super-injunction. In this case to hide the fact that he had been having an affair with a Royal Bank colleague (supposedly promoted by him well above her level of competency), and as a result of which his wife booted him out of their house.

And now a new book about him, written by two Tory MPs (but politically neutral) promises to be a good read. Finally, and worse still, it will be serialised in a national newspaper... so we’ll all get to know all Freddie’s dirty secrets.

Now anyone feeling twinges?

*Scots word meaning “talk rubbish”

** The Alchemist: Ben Jonson.

Pic: Fred Goodwin... smirking...

Wednesday 24 August 2011

BestOfTheRest.org: a call for editors, content curators and non-mainstream authors to participate in a new editorial project on cultural identity


Tris has kindly offered my the opportunity to post a piece here at Munguin's Republic on an editorial project called BestOfTheRest.org, which I'm working on at the moment.

Most of you will have never heard of me, so if you want to find out more you can go to21stCenturyFix.org, which is where I blog. In particular, this post which tris kindly and productively engaged with, and which relates to this initial post on the subject of BestOfTheRest.org itself.


BestOfTheRest.org is looking to generate interest in the sharpest non-mainstream media writing which is currently produced in England, Scotland, Wales and, if possible, the two Irelands. In order to do so, I am looking for people in each geographical area to take on the responsibility of curating the writing in their area, and producing short (maximum 300 to 900-word) engaging and quirky daily overviews which pull together, link to and quote from non-mainstream authors. This content would then be distributed via an open website with comments facility as well as a single RSS feed, to Kindle and KindleApps to begin with, but hopefully other pay-for-subscription systems in the future.

Any income so generated would be split between the editor/curators. Meanwhile, the project is open to the idea of micro-payments to authors who are linked to and quoted from, and who in any case would benefit from increased visibility and supported with an author-specific intranet/website containing editorial guidance and input. This intranet would also contain information on how to monetise content using parallel channels, for those authors interested in such options.

It's a new untested market, so it's probably quite a tall order - but, even so, the start-up costs are pretty small, so "all" we would be spending (often not negligible, mind) is our own free time.


If I am inclined to prescribe the ideology of BestOfTheRest.org - apart from serving to make visible new writing and ideas - then it would be something along the lines of the following: "Cultural dissonance, that frontier between identities and ways of doing, where channelled constructively, is where all progress lies. If we want to progress in remaking our politics for the benefit of all identities, we need to be clear of the importance of understanding that all political DNA is connected; ideas which may attract or repulse have a historical set of links which tie them together. That is what we must remember - and act accordingly."

The Spanish have a saying pertinent to the argument: "Hablando se entiende la gente" ("By speaking we understand people"). From my little contact with Munguin's Republic and its team of editors/writers and commenters, it's easy to see that the blog demonstrates the value of such positions, as well as such editorial approaches.

BestOfTheRest.org can only hope to be equally editorially coherent.


In the meantime, the request for help and support is now out there. From around England, Scotland, Wales and the two Irelands, we need the sharpest writing, sharpest writers and sharpest editors from non-mainstream media to want to collaborate in this proposal and shape its future.

Finally, apologies for the extension of this piece - all I can say in my favour is that I did run it past tris prior to its appearing on the web. Any comments online are most welcome, whatever their nature. And any comments you'd like to send me offline, please do me the favour of emailing to mil@bestoftherest.org, and if possible CC-ing tris into the conversation.

An even longer version of this article will be available shortly at 21stCenturyFix.org!!!

Tuesday 23 August 2011


We stay in the islands and highlands for tonight's tale of woe.

When The Rt Hon. Sir Sebastian, the Baron Coe of Ranmore in the County of Surry, MBE, OBE , KBE, PC, announced that the Olympic torch would be travelling all over these islands in the run up to London's Olympic Games, he pointed out that that would make all of us (who are paying for these games, but getting nothing back from them) feel a part of them...involved as it were.

People were asked to nominate friends, colleagues or neighbours who had given service to the community in some way, to carry the torch as it processed around the country. This is a big deal. They need some 8000 people for what Seb calls a 70-day journey of celebration, during which the flame will come within one hour's travelling time of 95% of the people in the UK. WOW. Did you ever? How exciting. Woop de Do.

Well, it seems that, in the highlands, no one is very excited about the torch or about carrying it. Only 3 people have been nominated for the "honour". Now, the good people of Inverness reckon that they will need around 120 people to carry it in relay around the city... you can only imagine how many will be needed for the highlands.

Poor old Seb... he'll obviously just need to get his running gear back on and carry it himself.

PS... I think the torch comes within about 3 minutes on foot from where I live, and I still won't see it.

PPS... Baron Coe of RANMORE... is that a joke?


Monday 22 August 2011


The petition:

Send rioters to the Outer Hebrides for 5 years

Responsible department: Ministry of Justice

All rioters and looters from the recent troubles in English cities should be banished to the Outer Hebrides for 5 years. This would be much, much, cheaper than keeping them in expensive prisons, saving the taxpayer money. Five years of being forced to live in the Outer Hebrides with none of the comforts of English city living e.g. running water, electricity, decent food, culture and shopping, will put them on the straight and narrow, and frighten them not to riot or loot again. Many local people there look after sheep part-time, so they can earn a small amount of extra money looking after rioters and looters as well.

So, this is what happened to the respect agenda.

If you live in the Outer Hebrides, you don’t have running water or electricity. To save the English government money their rioters can be sent to OUR islands and to hell with the people who actually live there.

Respect my butt.

So the English government has been forced to apologise to us as this petition was actually published on one of their web sites.

Not unsurprisingly Angus MacNeil MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar is ever so slightly miffed. He suggested that the petitioner might do well to visit the islands, then he might see that a visit there would not be a punishment, but a treat.

According to the English government’s website an e-petition (another of Cameron’s ill-thought-out gimmicks) can be rejected if it contains libellous, false or, defamatory statements or, if it contains offensive, joke or nonsense content. Angus says that the e-petition falls into this category and that he intends to pursue this with the English Ministry of Injustice. I wish him luck.

What kind of ignorant half wit thinks there is no electricity and no running water on our islands?

You'll like this bit. A spokesperson from the Ministry of Justice apologised and said its publication was an "oversight".

An Oversight?

Does no one in the English government know or care about the fact that tourism is big business hereabouts? First we have riots, which are reported as being all over the UK and people are cancelling holidays and breaks, and now we apparently live like savages without any of the comforts of “English life”. Does anyone still want to come here?

The sooner we have nothing more to do with the English government the better. Idiots!

Wednesday 17 August 2011


Even when you instinctively dislike someone and abhor their self importance, you have to give that person credit for a good day's work when they do one.

So, although I bet you never thought I'd say this...

Well done to the Duke of Rothsay.

Yes, I mean it. Well done, Charlie. (I bet he's spluttering in disbelief as he reads this!)

Sensible words and a generous gift at the end of a day touring Croydon gets my vote.

I don't approve for a minute of this guy getting involved in politics, but I don't think this intervention was particularly political, and, for England these riots have been so life changing that maybe something out of the ordinary was called for. Additionally, his personal donation in these extraordinary circumstances is, I think, not out of place, and unlikely to create a precedent.

Even Mrs Parker Bowles appeared to get involved and look as if she understood that there was a deep seated problem to be dealt with there.

In the meantime, playing for all he's worth to "The Sun" and "The Daily Mail" flog 'em and lock 'em up for 25 years brigade, Cameron and his cabinet look more and more out of touch with reality.

The Liberals are at pains to distance themselves from Cameron and Pickles on the 'rip up the rule book' sentencing policy, which is completely out of control, with some people imprisoned for taking £2 worth of water, and others, far more involved, being admonished and sent home.

It might be as well at this point to note that the "rule book" on sentencing is there for a reason. Expect appeals to most of these sentences, which will add to the clogging of courts and the expense. And in the end the judiciary will look as stupid, as ineffectual and as inefficient as the rest of the establishment.

Good Lord, it says something when even Clarence House knows more about what's going on in the streets of England than their prime minister.


Note to Rothsay:

This is a one off matey. Don't get too used to praise on Munguin's Republic.

And....We're still Scottish Republicans, OK?

Tuesday 16 August 2011


Well now, it's not any surprise to me that Andy Coulson decided to resign as spin doctor to the prime minister. How could he have thought he would get away with such blatant lies to Cameron, the police, parliament, the public...? And what about James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks, not to mention old Rupert ? They must all have lied through their teeth too.

And finally, what of Cameron? There's a choice of what may have happened... Firstly, he colluded with his dear friends Rebekah and Andy, and he knew all along... Or perhaps he is such a fool that he can be taken in by someone at an interview for a job at the heart of English and UK government, and he didn't bother to get MI5 to check out the truth, because he;'s a friend... Perhaps worse still he agreed to employ Coulson if Rupert agreed that "The Sun" would back the Tories for government, and him for prime minister.

In any case, he must now reflect on whether or not he considers himself a suitable person for the job of prime minister. Then he should ask to see the Queen, and resign.


Cluster bombs are evil. They fall like little bomblets from the sky, scattering as they do. They land in trees, on the ground, on fences, in ditches, everywhere in fact. Many don't explode at the time they are dropped. In fact many don't explode until long after... after the war for which they were intended is long over. The saddest thing is that over 30% of the victims are children, who think that they are toys, and 60% are civilians. Small they might be, but deadly they most surely are.

It came as some surprise to me, seeing that I hate them with such passion, that I am a shareholder in a company that lends money to manufacturers of these evil weapons. Financing them is illegal in 108 countries, including the UK. However, there is a loophole that investment can be made in a company which manufactures them, as long as the money is not specifically for their production.

I am utterly disgusted.


Inflation is at 5%, although under the government's preferred measure it is only 4.4% (you bet they. prefer it). Wage increases are running at an all time low. Another power company, Npower, has announced price increases of 16% and 7% for gas and electricity; train fares are set to increase by between 3 and 8 percentage points above inflation (in England, but that will affect the cross border services); food inflation is nearer 10% than 5; there are fears that this winter will be as harsh, if not harsher, than last and pensioners are having their winter fuel allowance cut (despite a specific promise that this would NOT happen).

People who took part in the London riots and those elsewhere in England are being imprisoned for as little as stealing a bottle of water. One man has been given 6 months in prison for water worth £3. A Scottish MP who stole tens of thousands of pounds of OUR money and was suspected of stealing a great deal more, served 4 months in prison.

What's the betting there will be more riots ere long?



I thought you guys might like this, from the Express. Another U-turn, it seems...

By Ann Widdecombe

I ADMIT to hooting with mirth when I read in the weekend press that David Cameron now faces difficulties reversing the hunting ban because the new breed of MPs whom he brought in through the A list and at the expense of the old guard whom he despises are actually anti-hunting.

Poetic justice was never more pleasing.

From the earths of a thousand woods you can hear the foxes laughing.

Tally, ho, ho, ho, ho


Monday 15 August 2011


Cameron will, he says, not be found wanting when it comes to mending Britain’s broken society. It is, he insists, his fundamental aim in politics.

Well, I suppose when your last big idea was the Big Society” (you’ll remember that was, until the holidays, the reason he came into politics), it’s not a bad idea to look around for something else to hang your hat on.

This comes as another day passes with police and Cameron and his minions trading insults. (And parts of the Tory party falling out with other parts).

In a way, of course, the rioters in England have played into the hands of the Conservatives. There’s nothing a certain brand of Tory politician likes better than having a kick at the poor. It’s a breed that they do not understand. Why, they puff, I got on in life; they should pull themselves together, get on their bike, get a job, get over their unfortunate birth, and vote Tory?

Cameron says that to do the job he will bring in a range of new policies (doubtless ill-thought-out, knee-jerk, Daily Mail-inspired initiatives) to stick Britain back together. If his record is representative of what is to come, most of them will be reversed before, during or directly after their implementation, having been found to be impracticable, too expensive, and generally crap!

Apparently he is going to promise to ‘reassign’ policies on schools, welfare, families, parenting, drug addiction and communities, all while saving billions and reducing the deficit (something he has so far singularly failed in his attempts to do without any of this new stuff). Thankfully many of these policies will not affect Scotland...and why should they? It’s not Scotland’s fault he had to come back early from his holiday and his wife is monumentally cross.

In other Tory news Iain Duncan-Smith, one of the huge disappointments of this government, has lectured Boris Johnson for failing to deal with gangs in London. He wants him to harass them on a daily basis...and all with fewer police. Pfffff. Idiot.

Cameron’s new police advisor Bill Bratton (thus appointed because Theresa May stood in the way of him being offered the job as head of the Met... so, no tensions there then) has said that policing has been too soft and sentencing too light. Good points, but, when Bratton ran the New York police, he deployed an extra 5000 officers. Whoever sorts out London’s mess will have to do so with far fewer police, not more. And Cameron’s mistake here is assuming that an American city can be compared with an English city. As Hugh Ord said, Cameron should look to European cities for examples. They are nearer to England than America, no matter how much the Tories hate that idea.

Johnson has said that the reason for the riots was that the police lost control in the first few hours. I think I can see what he is saying, but this is not the reason for the riots; instead it’s the reason the riots escalated so badly. The reasons for the riots are far more complex. But, it is true that once people saw that the police couldn't deal with the totally unprecedented situation, some took advantage of it to get themselves some of the action. It’s hard to see how reducing the funding for policing, and the numbers of police on the streets will assist in efforts to avoid a repeat performance.

However, with the usual amateurism of this government, revisiting the reduction in police funding has been ruled out. Why, in the white heat of the moment, did they not have the wit to say: “We will look at every policy to see what we can do to keep people safe”? Answers on a postcard.

Pic from 2007, when the Tories were hugging hoodies, even if the hoodies weren't hugging back... isn't that assault?

Friday 12 August 2011


I’m somewhat concerned about the amateur way that Cameron has gone about dealing with England’s riots.

(And yes, Tom Harris, I say England’s riots, because that is where they happened. There were riots in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Salford, Gloucester, etc... and according to my map, all of these places are in England. It’s about geography, Tom. You know, the subject at school with maps and countries and rivers and stuff.)

Anyway, back to the topic. Cameron has used the whole thing as some massive PR exercise. First of all he didn’t budge from the villa in Tuscany. Then when he saw that that was going down like a lead balloon in the Daily Mail, he flew back “in the middle of the night”, I remember hearing to save the nation...(‘struth, he was only in Italy, a couple of hours away max, so can the drama already).

Only HE didn’t really save it. He just talked big about retribution and said all the things the hurting people in London and Salford and Manchester, etc, wanted to hear; he appeased the right wing of his party, who think he's a bit soft lefty, by ditching all this “hug a hoodie” nonsense he spouted when he was vote hunting, and got to talking tough... and even the Daily Mail seemed less hostile.

Then someone must have told him that “the people”, that amorphous mass out there somewhere, were unhappy with the police, so he took advantage of that, fired broadsides at them and took the credit for ending the riots (when of course the real reasons were more police and more rain. Rioting is OK, but not if you’re going to get wet doing it, it seems).

The police, in the form of Hugh Ord, returned fire on the prime minister and, despite their seeming incompetence, and in the case of the Met dubious leadership, everyone I’ve talked to (or read) seems to come down on the side of the police.

So then, having seen that that was a mistake, he turned 180° and started telling us how the bobbies were brave on Saturday and on Sunday and...yawn... you get the picture. Another PR damage limitation exercise.

But if he’s been pretty crap so far (and he has), today’s announcements have filled the more sentient of us with a sense of wonderment.

Those people who have committed crimes that caused Cameron to come back from his holiday, and who live in social housing, regardless of whether they are the tenant or not, will, along with the rest of their family, be thrown out on to the street.

OK, fair enough, some might think. And in a pub argument it would probably win the day. But government has to think a bit more deeply than if it were in a bar room verbal brawl. Consequences, Dave!

Some questions that immediately sprang to my mind were: What if there’s a baby in the household, a cancer patient, a person of 97? What if they die? What if uninvolved household members lose jobs because they’re homeless? What if someone commits a crime that had nothing to do with David’s holiday being interrupted...rape, murder, child abuse, robbery, assault, carrying a knife, driving dangerously, speeding, parking on a double yellow line, dropping litter, forgetting to return library books?

Poor families in social housing, it seems, are to be punished twice for an offence, while millionaires’ families are punished once only?

Hmmmm, Dave, don’t you think that’s the sort of thing that at least some of the people were rioting over in the first place? You know where this is going, doncha? No? Oh dear.

Thursday 11 August 2011


I had the car MOT’d today. Now, I don’t drive that much. I rarely go long distances by road and furthermore I’m a reasonably careful driver, at least inasmuch as I try to miss the massive potholes that have opened up on Scotland’s roads. In fact one of these days I’m expecting the police to pull me over and breathalyse me because I wind my way around the worst of them.

Despite this dodgem driving, I had to have two new front springs fitted to the car earlier this year, and when I got to the garage this afternoon, I found that yet again a spring had gone, this time on the rear.

Co-incidentally I got my notification for renewal of road tax which I note has jumped another tenner this year, just like it did last year.

I can understand that the City Council has a big job on, particularly in light of the terrible winter of snow that has just passed, and that additionally they are not getting as much money from Edinburgh as they need to repair roads... and I understand that that is because the Westminster government hasn’t given the Scottish government as much money as it needs to run the country effectively.

But what hacks me off is that, as the roads worsen, Westminster is coining another tenner from millions of motorists and not spending it on the roads.

Britain’s roads are a laughing stock. They are totally inadequate for the needs of the country, and getting worse, and of course because the train network is lamentable, the roads are used even more by the haulage industry, rendering them even more laughable.

In the meantime Westminster keeps the money rolling in from increased taxes on motorists.

(Increases which, it seems, they keep quiet about.)

I wonder what they do with the extra money...

...Oh yeah, silly me, there are MPs’ expenses to be paid, and 80% of the lords are on the fiddle too, according to one of their number, then there’s Chunky and Goofie York to be kept safe and secure when they fall out of nightclubs drunk or on Caribbean beaches. OK. As long as I know what they do with it.

Best brace ourselves for another rise next year too then.

Pictured: The Ugly Sisters. A beached whale and a drunk slapper... but expensive ones!

Wednesday 10 August 2011

I see Harris has tied himself up in knots across at the nauseatingly named Labour Hame. He has a complained that people are annoyed that the first minister described the riots as English rather than UK. He makes some rather bizarre comparison with the Norwegian slaughter of a few weeks ago, forgetting that Norway is, in fact, all one country and the UK is not. For Tom though, these riots must be British, for we must all pull together.

Well, quite apart from the fact that we ARE all pulling together (and Scottish riot police have been sent to England), he seems to have forgotten how he recently wrote this:

“It’s called “Scotland’s shame” for a reason: sectarianism makes you feel embarrassed to be Scottish. I hate it when the subject is even raised when I’m with English friends because I imagine they must look at us as a backward nation. That is, after all, a logical conclusion: what kind of people still think it’s remotely acceptable even to care about what religion other people follow, never mind object to that religion? What kind of nation still tolerates this kind of mindset?”



When is it going to stop raining?


Hugh Ord said this today:

"One of the greatest strengths of British policing is that operational decision-making is conducted not by politicians, but by professional chief police officers who have spent their whole career in policing. While David Cameron today referred to some of the more extreme measures available to us, they are not new, and responsibility for their deployment remains entirely a matter for chief officers. There can be no confusion here at all; it is a fact that we cannot be ordered to police in a certain way but we will be held robustly accountable for what we choose to do or not do.

"As one of only two officers in the country to have ordered the use of water cannon and baton rounds in public-order policing, my professional judgment is it would be the wrong tactic, in the wrong circumstances at this moment."

My current opinion of the police is pretty low, given the Murdoch scandal, and the fact that at least the Met has seemed utterly rudderless over the days of the riots, but I'm in agreement with Ord here. Heaven alone knows what will happen if people start using water canon and plastic bullets. They have only ever been used in North Ireland in the past. And that worked, didn't it?

These decisions must never be in the hands of 'here today, gone tomorrow politicians' with no knowledge or experience of policing. God save us from Tessy may with a water canon!!


A year ago the economy was recovering and the public sector deficit shrinking.

Then Gideon introduced policies to suit the Conservative party’s political funders (banks and multinationals). So has this done any good?

Silly Question. No. Osborne’s plans are a total failure. Public sector debt is increasing (contrary to what Hague told us last week), there are lower tax revenues and higher costs in benefits. Growth forecasts have just been re-adjusted down (to 1.5% this year...they’ll be lucky), there is higher un- or under- employment (ie people working part time and claiming top up benefits), and thus lower living standards.

Brilliant? No? Time for a new chancellor, maybe?


I got the demand for car tax today. Can you believe that it has increased by £10, around a 7% increase. A government agency putting up prices by more than the official lie, sorry, I mean the official inflation figure? What an odd thing for a government to do. What an odd government. But it's another thing to cause people anxiety. Another cost added to people's already expensive lives. I wonder if people like Cameron know that you have to tax the car, or do they have a little man to do that sort of thing for them?


As I've listened to the coverage of the English riots, I've been struck by one thing above all else. The "authorities" just don't get it. Just, in fact like they didn't get it when the politicians were caught with their greedy snouts in the trough.

I've listen to people like Johnson and Cameron blustering and posturing about dreadful thugs, rule of law, authority, retribution, blah, blah... and not one single word about WHY. I've listened to angry police chiefs, found wanting yet again, blaming the whole thing on the miscreants, but never once asking WHY.

I've spent 20 years working with unemployed people, in Scotland, watching them become increasingly marginalised by society. Twenty years watching as factories closed down, as retail jobs increasingly were taken by students (who have to find over £100 a week in rent, even in Scotland, where there are no fees to be found), as fewer and fewer opportunities presented themselves for those who had no chance of university, and the number of college places were dwarfed by applications, and as people realised that unemployment, part time work, poverty and deprivation were their future.

Of course the politicians have to say what they are saying. It's what the public wants to hear. People who live in the riot torn areas are frightened and angry. They fear for their homes, businesses, their children. They fear for their way of life. So Cameron and Johnson must appear outraged; and the police have to appear confident that they can beat this. It suits all of them to believe that it's just thuggishness.

But we aren't going to make it go away by ignoring the reasons for it.

As Quiet Man said in a comment the other day, there is a level of resentment building up in England. And if the politicians and the police can't see it and do something about it, then whatever steps they take to damp this down can be only temporary measures, for as sure as eggs is eggs, it will come back.

Time and time commentators on the left have warned of the increasing gap between rich and poor that is so evident in the whole of the UK (one of the worst in the developed world), and most specifically in London where, because of easy going tax regime, live some of the richest people in the world, cheek by jowl with grinding poverty and neglect. I've seen it.

A short walk from a friend's luxurious apartment in Docklands, complete with gym and rooftop cocktail bar, lie some of the most disgusting dilapidated streets I've ever seen, where opulence is replaced by hopelessness and despair, drugs and booze.

The trouble is they have no respect for authority, say people, shaking their heads. But, as I said here, why would they have respect for a bunch of thieves and liars who care for nothing but themselves. “Authority” has to earn respect. If it’s not earned, it's not proper respect; it's fear.

And no, it's not just trendy lefty Tris that feels like this. Much more venerable voices, and far better minds, are saying the same thing.

As I listened this morning, to the prime minister and mayor politicking, I recalled that they were both members of the Bullingdon Club, an Oxford dining club for posh boys who's degrees were in the bag, so hard work was optional. Their objective on a dining evening was to dress in a Savile Row tailored outfit, go to a restaurant, get drunk and trash the joint. And in Boris's autobiography he boasts that his crowd used to get drunk and steal from Fortnums. Remind you of anything?

No, it's not on the same scale and of course the rich boys' daddies picked up the tab for the trashed restaurants (boys will be boys, doncha know), but nonetheless these are England's leaders...

Respect? Pfffffffff. I've far more respect for the slugs that are eating my garden. At least they do an honest day's work.