Monday 30 July 2012


I just watched the Despatches documentary  (Channel 4) on the Department of Work & Pension and ATOS, and their efforts to get people back to work.

Channel Four asked a doctor, a GP, to go undercover and train as an assessor at the DWP/ATOS training centre. He followed a three week training course, where he filmed his instructors explaining some of the mad decisions that an assessor has to make. 

He then lasted 3 days as an assessor before he handed in his notice. (This part is not filmed, but described.)

I can recommend this as compulsive viewing if you care about the way that sick and disabled people are being treated by the coalition, and were treated by Labour before them.

The waving of red white and blue flags appear to make some people proud to be British. For at least the more cerebral, this display should make them thoroughly ashamed.

Sunday 29 July 2012


Thanks to Danny for sending me these...


If there had been a time to announce that the Westminster government had decided to out-source the support staffing for looking after the nuclear fleet on the Clyde, I would have thought that it probably wasn't right now with the spectacle of out-sourced cocked-up security in London requiring an 18,500-man back up from the military being played out in front of us every day.

On the other hand when every headline in every paper is about the 'greatest show on Earth in the greatest city on Earth', and it is impossible to turn on the tv to a news channel without enduring more Coca Cola advertising, it's a good time to bury bad news.

Of course the government has worked out that it will cost less money for the private sector to look after the dependent nuclear deterrent in this dependent country, and of course it is good to see them saving money. However, there are some things that might just be a little bit too important to be bought at a knock down price by people who may or may not actually be able to fulfil their contract to the standard that we might require. (Well, the private sector has form!)

The MoD has signed a 15-year contract (!!!!!) for support staff to be provided by AWE, Babcock, and Lockheed Martin UK Strategic Systems who will also take over some Royal Navy and management functions, with staff being seconded to the companies.

Now on the basis that everything that the MoD touches ends up costing double, triple, tenfold and more what it should cost, and then being unfit for purpose, I'm a bit on the uneasy side.

Cutting corners to make more profit and give the directors bigger bonuses is maybe what Britain is all about, but these things are 50 miles away from Scotland's largest city.

I don't want weapons of mass destruction on my county's soil at any cost, but at least I felt a tiny bit safer about them when they were in the hands of the military. In the hands of money grubbing spivs, I'm scared.

Let's get out of this expensive union as quick as we can, and then we can dump these vile weapons, and avoid having to pay the £100 billion the replacements are going to cost (because the coalition only kicked the can down the road a little bit to appease the Liberals, and even at that that creep Hammond has agreed to spend a billion that we don't have on the preliminaries for the new weapons).

Friday 27 July 2012




Before Mitt Romney came to "England" on his pre-election tour, he had already set the tone with this beauty of a quote about the United Kingdom:

“England [sic] is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn’t make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy."
Well, it might be true, but it isn't really very delicate.
On the day he arrived in London, Romney was asked about his wife's horse, Rafalca, which is in competition in the dressage, and whether Britain looked ready to host the Olympics. 

"There are a few things that were disconcerting," Romney said of the event which has been 15 years in the planning and is expected to cost over £30bn.
"The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials – that obviously is not something which is encouraging."
That put a bit of a dampener on Romney's meeting with David Cameron on Thursday. "We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world," the prime minister said, pointedly. "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere." (Romney ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake Ciy, Utah.)
Just for once, well done to Lord Snooty. Although strictly speaking no matter how much of a tosser the visitor is, a real diplomat should smile and be courteous. Snooty is not much of a diplomat though.
At a meeting with Ed Miliband Romney seemed to forget Ed's name. "Like you, Mr Leader, I look forward to our conversations this morning," Romney said. 
OK, Miliband isn't the most engaging of people, but once again, if you're able to be the president of the USA, you should be able to remember one simple name. Alright I know DubYa couldn't.
Then he met and talked with the head of MI6. OK, we now know it exists, but no one ever mentions it....except Rhomboid who said: "I appreciated the insights and perspectives of the leaders of the government here and the opposition here as well as the head of MI6".
Shhhhhhh, ya numpty.
Then a Romney adviser was quoted as saying the Republican contender would be better placed than Barack Obama to sustain the transatlantic relationship with the UK because of a shared "Anglo-Saxon heritage.
Racist and bigot are two words that come to mind, while I howl with laughter at the irony. I think the adviser might want to review that notion.
And describing his visit to meet the prime minister he said he had been "looking out through the backside of No 10 Downing Street"
What he does in his own time is his own business. This, however, is something we'd all rather not have known.
He was in England for a fund raising dinner being run by none other than the Barclays the Thieving Bastard Bank Unlimited. It appears, however, that interest in tickets for this event has been about as great as it was for the North Korea v Columbia Women's Football. The reputedly fabulously expensive tickets have been  discounted so much that even I could afford to go. (Barf.)
Mr Romney has been waiting a long time for his chance to be president. Perhaps he still isn't quite ready. I suggest a retreat to Utah and some serious hard work...2028 maybe?

Wednesday 25 July 2012


Well by Olympics' standards the women's football matches in Glasgow aren't of much importance, indeed they are happening before the opening ceremony, when the "mythical flame" hasn't even been lit and the Queen hasn't given it her blessings, away in a cold dark land in the far north. They haven't even necessitated Zil lanes, presumably because no one of any importance was there.
Interest in buying tickets was so abysmal that the organisers gave away tens of thousands to schoolchildren for free...and even then, tonight when I saw it on tv, the stadium was almost empty.
Coca Cola will be unhappy.
Before tonight's match Scottish Secretary, Michael Moore said: “The Olympics is of huge importance and the fact Hampden will be front and centre as the world turns it attention to the UK is great news for Glasgow and Scotland as a whole."
Well, as I said, front and centre may be just a little bit of an exaggeration. There was hardly anyone there. It may have good viewing figures in North Korea, but I'm willing to bet that's the exception.
Mr Moore continued: “The Olympics is our chance to show the world what we are capable of as a nation and the hard work of people across the country is helping ensure the success of the Games." 
Barf. No. The Olympics is only one of a thousand of ways that Scotland can show what it is capable of, which is just as well, because one thing it would seem we are not too hot on, is geography.
The Scottish Secretary went on to say that he was looking forward to watching the game and hearing the first-ever Olympic roar at Hampden.
Well I hope he enjoyed it, because it was actually a boo.
So yeah, in what in most cases would have been an relatively minor insult, Logoc managed to show the wrong flag on a big screen as players were introduced. The trouble is that they displayed the flag of South Korea, a country with which North Korea is at war, and has been for around 60 years.
They really couldn't have got it more wrong. The North Koreans walked off and  the kick off was delayed for over an hour.
A statement by the London 2012 organisers said: 
"Today ahead of the women's football match at Hampden Park, the South Korean flag was shown on a big screen video package instead of the North Korean flag.
"Clearly that is a mistake." (Nah!!!??? Well, I never!) 
"We will apologise to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again."
Thus far no one seems to know who prepared the offending (and offensive) video package.
Top flag: North Korea; Bottom flag: South Korea. They're not even vaguely similar, are they?

Tuesday 24 July 2012


David Cameron's happiness survey shows that the average Brit rates himself or herself at 7.4 out of 10. I don't know where they did the survey but I reckon it might have been over lunch in Chipping Norton, don't you?
With temperatures set to reach 30 degrees in London, apparently trains will not be able to stop at Stratford (the McDonald's Olympic stop) because it is too hot!?!?! Makes you wonder how they manage to run trains in India or Thailand, doesn't it?

Another 1,200 troops have been deployed for the Cadbury Olympics, bringing the total to 18,200. Best not have another Olympics after this one. There just won't be enough troops. PS...are G4S supplying any people at all?

David Gauke, the tube of a minister who said it was morally wrong  to pay tradesmen in cash, is, to trade a lawyer who worked for a company that specialised in "tax efficiency" (avoidance to you and me). His wife is employed in the same scam erm discipline. He also, flipped his homes and, co-incidentally I'm sure, managed to avoid paying stamp duty a few years ago. Pot, kettle.

I read that Theresa May has delayed any announcement about Gary McKinnon's extradition to America because she is...erm, busy with the security for the Coca Cola Olympics... Seriously. Apparently Olympics Security will be at the top of Mrs May's list until October or November, for some bizarre reason. Never mind the poor bloke then, he clearly doesn't count.

The Queen is having lunch with Cameron, Major, Brown and Blair today at Downing Street to celebrate her Jubilee (it seems Thatcher is no longer up to lunching in company). I'd say very nice for her, but there's not one of them I'd like to share lunch with. The real question is, why? There has already been a vast amount of celebration at huge expense for this jubilee, but to be fair, with the exception of private dinners for royalty from around the world, including murderous dictators, most of the celebrations have been for the public, and there are many people who like that kind of thing. But why this private lunch and who is paying for it? 

Talking of prime ministers past, I noticed that there's a fund, set up by John Major, for giving ex-prime ministers funds to undertake official engagements. Last year Tony Blair Ltd claimed the maximum of £115,000, as did Major; Brown claimed £114,998.17 and most bizarre of all, Thatcher claimed £109,191. Seeing that, due to ill health, she doesn't carry out any engagements at all, I find that a little worrying. I also wonder Blair had time to carry out official engagements for Britain, busy as he is with making loadsamoney... and as Brown doesn't have time to turn up in parliament, I'm not sure what he's been doing for our benefit. The allowance is totally secret and was not subject to scrutiny like MPs expenses. Congratulations to Pete Wishart for asking that it be made more open to scrutiny.

Monday 23 July 2012


I'd like to hear your views on the impending catastrophe which Eric Pickles is brewing up. It's reckoned to be a second poll tax fiasco. It will start next April and then the country will start to fall apart as people who can no longer afford to live in certain areas will either up and leave, or take up residence in the streets, crowd in to live with friends and relatives 3, 4 5 to a bed, give up their part time badly paid jobs. And the situation won't look that different to how the poor lived 100 years ago.

It has to do with Council Tax Relief.

Firstly it is important to understand some facts about Council Tax Relief:

1. It is for the poorest people only. it is means tested and graduated.
2. 5.9 million households throughout the UK receive it to some degree.
3. Half the recipients are pensioners on very low incomes (state pension and not much else).
4. The majority of the non-pensioner recipients are in very low paid work (not as you might think, benefits).
5. It is funded by the DWP, but paid by local councils.

Here's how it will (or rather won't) work.

1. Each council area will receive the amount they got before, minus 10%.
2. They must ensure that pensioners do not get less than they got before.
3. They must ensure that "vulnerable" people do not get less than they got before.
4. There is no standard definition for "vulnerable".
5. What is left can be shared by the people who are working (or on the dole).

Now, it seems to me that if you have the same number of people after April as you did before April, and you have 10% less funding, but around 50% of your claimants fall into categories which must have their benefit preserved, the people who do NOT have their benefit preserved will have it reduced by 20%.

If you are unlucky to live in an area with a high population of elderly poor, then it may be more of a reduction, 30% or more. It is reckoned, for example, that people in Haringey in London will lose on average £38 a week.

OK, remember what we said. Most of them are low paid workers. Cleaners, shop workers who are only getting part time work and are forced to take that by the job centre. If they lose £20, £30, £40 a week, how the hell are they going to get to work and feed their kids and  keep them warm?

What will happen if a factory closes in an area throwing 400 people onto the dole. Will everyone who is not old nor vulnerable lose even more money as the pot has further to go round.

If new disabled or old people move into the area will the non aged or non-vulnerable have to take a drop. And what if a load of old folk die... will everyone get a rise?

Is this seriously a good idea, or is it another of these things that Pickles worked out on back of a pâté de fois gras box while tippling from the cheap champagne his government department canteen sold until last week?

Will this not do exactly the opposite of what Iain Duncan Smith wanted?

Will it not make it too expensive to take work?

And what of all the cleaners and canteen assistants, like the ones who work for minimum wage in the Royal palace of Westminster? Will they be able to afford to continue coming to work, or will Mr Pickles have to wash his own dishes and clean his own office?

The Bill is being taken through a committee in the Lords at the moment, until very recently by Earl Atlee, who appears not to have inherited any of his grandfather's intelligence. He got in a bit of a mes with it and had to be removed after he said that they needed to save the money to pay for the English railways, when Justine Greening has said that the fares would have to go up to pay for that... Sheesh...

As I understand it, in a move typical of the Scottish government, not welcomed with as much enthusiasm as I would have expected by dour faced Ms Lamont, Mr Swinney has been able to find enough money in his limited budget to ensure that this will not affect Scottish council tax claimants for the first year.

Once again social democracy in Scotland; misery for millions in England.

You may be interested in this demonstration, highlighted by Cynical Highlander just as the last post was being superseded.


The news that Boris Johnson has commissioned a poem which he will read in English and Ancient Greek at the opening of the Olympics has caused a few poetic attempts by REAL people.
As I'm still feeling a bit under the weather (and the doctors are on holiday here), I produce for you the original and a couple of examples of the public's response.

Original Boris Poem

The new Olympic flame behold,
that once burned bright in Greece of old;
with happy hearts receive once more
these Games revived on London's shore.
Praise rival teams, in sport allied,
as athletes stream from far and wide;
the poet too must take the road
conveying praise to victory owed.
Millions of watchers will embrace
the passion of each close-run race,
The efforts of the rowing teams
and gymnasts on balancing beams.
The will observe with rapt delight
the archer draw his bowstring tight,
the skilful rider guide her horse,
and lightning bolt around the course.
The pipes will play, the drum resound,
as medallists are daily crowned;
the crowd’s hurrah will reach the skies
when victors hoist the golden prize.
Now welcome to this seagirt land,
with London’s Mayor and co. at hand
good luck to all who strive to win:
applaud and let the Games begin!
In ancient Greek:
The summer has arrived at last
Together with a sporting cast,
To jump and run in this fair town –
So woe on you who wears a frown!

To mark this rather splendid time
We must not whinge or ever whine;
And don’t dare jest, lest you provoke
The wrath of Coe’s policing folk

There’re guns on top of peoples’ flats
And rules made up by tin-pot twats;
Beware of spilling custard dears,
When highlighting your cash cow fears

Boris says the lanes must be
For those ‘who work’ – not thee or me;
He’s had a little ode penned too
About this farce to bill and coo

The legacy, we’ve all been told
Will last until the Earth is cold;
Or at least until the day
When corporate sponsors fly away

Food banks may well be on the up,
As austere plans now prove a pup;
But since man can’t live just on loaves
A circus into view now hoves.

The Olympics farce is just a joke
all your money, up in smoke
Can't buy nothing that ain't approved
A stupid logo that's bloody rude
The Zils have taken over roads
where everyone was free to roam
security's become an issue
'bye, G4S - no-one will miss you
and all for what?
three weeks of chaos
strikes, unrest and many lay-offs
even the tickets can't be sold
and reserved for bigwigs, so we're told.
I'll be glad when the whole thing's ended
and the country's decline no more suspended.
Good bye, Britain, God speed.

And finally....

The amount we've spent is crackers
but they have us by the Kn----rs.

Sunday 22 July 2012


I know that the type face is quite small (get the whole thing here), but I thought that these were interesting figures relating to how people saw themselves in a situation where they were forced to chose between being Scottish (or English or Welsh) and being British.
Table 1.1c: Trends in ‘forced choice’ national identity, 1974–2005: percentage responses

Lives in England

English identity
British identity

Lives in Scotland

Scottish identity
British identity

Lives in Wales

Welsh identity
British identity

One means of measuring the impact of attempts at reconciling or moderating societal divisions could be the extent to which people regard themselves as belonging to their particular national group, or a larger whole. Table 1.1c contains data on this subject applying to Great Britain (that is, excluding Northern Ireland). In England, the percentage of people describing themselves as English rose from 31 per cent in 1992, to 40 per cent in 2005; while those describing themselves as British fell from 63 to 48 per cent over the same period. In Scotland, there has been a far stronger rise in national identity over a longer period. The percentage of people describing themselves as Scottish has grown from 65 per cent in 1974 to 79 per cent in 2005; while the percentage citing a British identity has fallen from 31 per cent in 1974 to 14 per cent in 2005. In Wales, national identity has been more stable, being chosen by 57 per cent in 1979 and 60 per cent in 2003; while those regarding themselves as British fell from 33 per cent and 27 per cent over the same period.