Wednesday 31 July 2013

Iain Duncan-Smith's Explosive Row With James O'Brien

I'd make a comment on this, but I'm so angry with this lying sack of **** that I can't trust myself. 

I'll stick to making the point that I doubt if I have ever disliked anyone as much in my life. 

I have to keep asking myself, why has this ghastly liar of a man have any place in the  governance of Scotland? Did we vote for him, or his ilk?

Please try to keep your responses reasonably decent, hard though it will be, heaven knows. 

Tuesday 30 July 2013


 The event began by affirming our belief in a return to Clause IV and support for removal of Trident. Such views have been long held in the hearts of many Scottish Labour households and I am delighted to see the support for their return.

 Following this, we spent the rest of the morning listening to and then discussing the merits of The Common Weal with Jimmy Reid Foundation director, Robin McAlpine. This meeting really was the perfect start to our conference as you could see the light bulbs go on in our members' heads. The Common Weal is an exciting vision; one which we believe will bring equality, social justice and prosperity to Scotland. We are delighted to strongly support the concept and seek to find a Labour vision of this proposal.

 The Common Weal discussion set the stage for the rest of our conference. Throughout the two days, I was excited as expert session leaders provided enough to raise lively debate on all matters from drug addiction to investment. I would like to thank all of our invited guest speakers including, Robin McAlpine, Dr John MacDonald, Jenny Robertson from Phoenix residential treatment centre and perhaps our biggest star this weekend George, a former addict who had the courage to share his story with us.

 With only two days it is only right that we do not confirm ourselves to all that was discussed and in areas such as health, education and the economy more work will need to be done. However, I am very pleased to announce these decisions voted, and approved by our members:

  1. Reject Nuclear Weapons in Scotland
  2. Support Common Weal concept and contribute to it
  3. Support full-employment Keynesian development policy
  4. Support Major Banking reform in the New Scotland
  5. Support the establishment of a Nationalized Scottish Central Bank
  6. Support for 2nd language education from the age of 7 years.
  7. Support an introduction of a living wage
  8. Establishment of a state owned oil company such as the Norwegian company
  9. Not to join NATO but to explore other joint defence international agreements
  10. Expansion of universally free childcare.

We hope that this will be the beginning of our vision of what an independent Scotland can look like. It is an exciting time within our country. The SNP will offer their vision in November, we look forward to other parties and organisations announcing their visions as we are; to give the people of Scotland a choice of what our nation can become with a yes vote.

Our message should be simple, vote yes and choose from these visions. Choose no and get more of the same.

I hope many more of you will join us and help to shape a Labour vision of what Scotland could be like after a yes vote.

Allan Grogan
Labour for Independence.

Sunday 28 July 2013

Financial reports show that 144 staff members at the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) received more than £2.8 million ($4.3 million/€3.3 million) in redundancy payments for 2012-2013 after being contracted permanently, despite the organisation being due to shut down in 2014. Nice work if you can get it.

In Scotland on Sunday today, Andrew Wilson says that the economics of Scotland’s choice are quite easy to understand. He points out that without oil we perform to the average of the UK and the best of any UK region outside the South-East.  

His plea is that we hear much less about oil and its future, and a lot more about how badly it has been managed by Westminster. 

Scotland is the only oil producing region anywhere in the world which has not even 1 cent of wealth fund to show for it. Norway has $700 billion. 

Thatcher used the vast amounts that our oil generated to fund unemployment as she deindustrialised the UK economy, gave    massive tax cuts to the rich and reduced the income tax burden on others and wasted even more of it on nuclear weapons.

According to the Daily Mail (usual warnings apply) the deputy prime minister of the Uk is not happy about paying his bar bill at his stately home, official country residence. Chevening is shared between Clegg and the Foreign Secretary. (We assume that they are not having to bunk up together as the place has over 150 rooms.) The rules are that when he is entertaining there as deputy prime minister, we pay for his food and drink and that of his invitees, however, when he uses the home for family and friends HE is supposed to pick up the tab. He apparently objects to this...


Cameron is off on holiday again. He's gone to Portugal this time. That's nice for him. He's apparently having 4 holidays this year. Nice. Well, at least I suppose that it could be said that while he's away in Portugal or wherever else, he's not causing havoc in London.

Saturday 27 July 2013


Before we get on to the snaps, I'd like to draw your attention to a new publication by our own (our very own) Pa Broon. To raise more money for his Scout troop, Pa has written an account of  a short break on Arran, called quite appropriately, "On Arran". (Sample here).

If you enjoyed the "Great Glen Way", you'll like this too. I could read this guy's stuff all night. He never fails to make me laugh with his crisp dry humour and self deprecating style. It's only £2.03, and for a brilliant cause.
Dear Lynton...such an asset cigarette companies must have it wrong. Alistair says its nearly finished... and he knows all about being nearly finished
Except you'd have Ed's irritating voice instead of Eton Boy's
Oh well...locust are nice deep fried...they say
Make up your mind Alistair. Hmmm "mind"
As we have always said
And that's not all you got away with, is it?
Generous George, everything' a bargain... not!

Ain't it true?
That explains a lot of the dodgy arithmetic
Westminster's priorities are...Westminster
You can't help wishing they would, as the Fench say "accorder leurs violins"

Thursday 25 July 2013


By all rights, at the reshuffle of the UK cabinet last year, Iain Duncan Smith should have been fired for incompetence. The Quiet Man is quite simply hopeless.

But he's an ex-leader and therefore a man of some "standing" in the party despite his somewhat dubious past, plus he's a right winger and a possible focus for other, lesser known, right wing nut jobs, so, he was allowed to stay. In short because Cameron lacked the authority to sack him and get away with it.

But he has made an almighty mess of running his department, he has used doubtful statistics, and on several occasions he's just plain lied. 

Liam Byrne (another incredibly unlikeable soul) has summarised IDS's performance in an article for the Telegraph.

And like or dislike Byrne, you have to admit that he is right on this. That said, Byrne is pretty much behind the policies. It's just the way that they are being implemented and the fact that it's IDS and not Byrne himself getting the ministerial salary and perks that bothers him most.

So what does he say?

He points out firstly that the Work Programme has missed every single target that it set itself for the last 3 years. That's a pretty damning indictment. 

Then he moves to Universal Credit. The DWP promised only last year that a million people would be on this credit by 2014. Now they say that it is being rolled out to 10 jobcentres from October... and they are all in low unemployment areas. No one from the department is commenting on the number of people that this will cover, but it seems unlikely to be a twentieth of the number promised.

The Youth Contract has been a failure. It has missed 90% of its targets and the unemployment number for young people remains at around a million. A massive failure to the country and its young people.
Finally the Work Capability Programme has probably been the biggest ever fiasco. 

We had people being taken off benefits only weeks before their death from cancer. There are stories of vulnerable people being told by someone they accept as a doctor (although they may be a nurse or paramedic or hospital cleaner from what I can tell) telling them that they are fit for work, them believing it (some people take what a "doctor" says as gospel), and dying of heart attacks because of over exertion brought on by the belief that they are now well! 

Additionally, we have learned from whistleblowers, that Atos is working to targets and staff are under pressure, trained or not, to fail people to in order to keep to the company's profile. Both the BBC and Channel 4 have made documentaries (Panorama and Despatches) showing this. Of course these claims are denied, but I've never heard of a government department that doesn't work to targets and budgets, and I doubt very much that any outsourcing organisation doesn't have the same.
Atos has been audited independently and found to be failing to work to its contract. Hundreds of cases were found to have been determined without any logic or application of the rules (presumably in an attempt to meet the targets that the DWP and the Atos management swear do not exist). The company has done so badly that its monopoly is being taken away from it.

(It has, of course, only joined a long list of outsourcing companies which have been found to be dodgy, incompetent and stealing from the taxpayers.)

And of course the cost of tribunals and appeals has tripled since 2010.

So basically IDS 0/10.

Will the prime minister take his future in his hands and sack the monstrously incompetent cabinet secretary?

Probably not.  After all, who else has he got to put there?

PS... BBC report that there is a 5% increase in people dying in England and Wales this last year. I wonder if IDS has anything to do with that.

Tuesday 23 July 2013


Yesterday the No campaign launched their latest effort to reach voters.

"Blether Together" is apparently a 'state of the art' telephone canvassing tool. They claim it will allow them to take their "positive message" to undecided voters.

Their positive message? Do they think that if they say it over and over people are stupid enough to believe that it is positive, even though it is mind blowingly negative?

I don't know how this campaign will go down. I'm not keen on unsolicited telephone calls made at a time convenient to the caller, but not necessarily to me. I might be eating, or showering or sleeping when it’s convenient for them to call. So I am registered with TPS. If they call me they will be breaking the law. Maybe other people don't mind this sort of thing.

However, I will happily engage with them and ask them to explain why we are better with the bedroom tax, Trident and Atos; why it is better for Scots to have their laws decided by English Tories; why we would want as an exporting nation being dragged out of Europe by Ukip-following English voters. I'd also like to know if they are aware just how far behind Western Europe we are, and I don't mean the hour difference.

You do have to wonder, given the definition of the world “blether” (to engage in foolish, idle or irrelevant talk), why they would have chosen to use the word in their campaign. But then, what would you expect from people who choose to use the slogan, Ukok...?

Unto us a child is born... and his name shall be???

I wasn't going to say any more about the birth of Prince Dwayne or whatever he is to be called, but I was intrigued to hear that Ms Lamont had not had, or at least had not expressed, an opinion on the subject, so I looked up the BBC website’s piece on Scotland's leaders' messages.

It starts off quite reasonably (for the BBC).

First Minister Alex Salmond led Scotland's congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their baby son. (Well, I suppose he would, although I suspect that the first minister would probably have used the Earl and Earless [or whatever] of Strathearn).

Mr Salmond said: "I am sure that people across Scotland will be absolutely thrilled to hear the news of the birth of a baby boy to the royal couple." (Of course Eck is not always right… there are those who don't care much one way or the other, but I suppose in fairness it's hardly the done thing to point that out.)

Scotland Secretary Michael Moore, who appears to be second in the pecking order, said he was delighted to hear that the royal couple, known as the Earl and Countess of Strathearn in Scotland (ah that's the word, earless makes it sound like the gal doesn't have any ears!), had welcomed a healthy baby boy. (I wonder if HE used the Strathearn title or the BBC edited it in.)

"The birth of an heir is a significant event for our country and the excitement and warmth on display has shown how much it matters to people across the UK. (He had to get that in… even though he has no remit outside Scotland and he was being asked as SOS for Scotland. To be fair to him, like Eck, he has to trot out the expected drivel, even if I've yet to see or hear of anyone in Scotland who gives a damn.)

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: "It's thrilling the whole country can welcome this future king into the world. (The whole of what country, Ruth? He will possibly [it’s maybe 60 years away] be king of 17 countries… do they get a say? Why not say, THE COUNTRY or COMMONWEALTH?  Why make it political?)

Anas Sarwar, deputy leader of (imaginary) Scottish Labour, said: "Our congratulations go to the proud parents who must be delighted this moment has finally come (finally come? Has it been like 10 months or something?) and they have our best wishes on this happy day.

"The extraordinary scenes outside the hospital and the palace are testament to the joy felt all around the world for the new arrival and a fresh chapter begins in our country's future." (That's overdoing the drivel! How would scenes at two locations in London be testament to emotions in any other place, never mind all over the bloody world?)

But soft, where is the fragrant Johann? Is she in her bunker deep below Glasgow …in case Trident goes off by mistake, or so Ed can keep her hidden, or is she a republican who can't be trusted to say anything nice about the royals? Or is she just getting her pink jacket cleaned for the occasion?)

The Church of Scotland said: "The birth of a baby is a special event in any couple's life and a true gift from God." (Or... possibly the result of some royal sexual intercourse, maybe? …atheists have babies too!)

Lord Provost and Lord-Lieutenant of Aberdeen George Adam said: "I am absolutely thrilled to hear the happy news and glad to know that the Duchess of Cambridge and the baby are doing well.

"I am sure their royal highnesses will make wonderful parents (are you?) and hope that they will be given time and the privacy to enjoy this very special time together as a family." (Without people with inflated opinions of their own importance making pronouncements on it.) OK, I lied; he never said the last bit. I was just wondering why anyone asked him.

And the second big question of the day is… where the hell is wee Willie Rennie? When it comes to rent a gob, he’s not usually the hindmost.

Anyway...prizes for the person who guesses the bairn's name. I think it probably won't be Dwayne.

Monday 22 July 2013

It appears the media can no longer quote Billy Connolly as a supporter of the NO Campaign, Project Fear. He has said that it is not the place of a comedian to tell people how to vote. He said he spoke against devolution because it added another tier of government, but he has been in Scotland for a few weeks on holiday prior to some filming engagements and he says it has changed for the better. So NO, you should take him off your list.
Channel Four News has revealed that costs for tribunals for benefit sanctions have risen dramatically. In 2012/13 the cost was £66 million up from £22 million in 209/10.  The number of appeals had risen by 66%. Liam Byrne apparently said that it's the fault of Atos which is spinning out of control. Well, there you go, Liam. You left no money and a Benefit system spinning out of control. Isn't Labour clever!
According to the Guardian's Money Blog, to achieve their current pension on the open market MPs would need to save about £60,000 a year for every year they are in parliament. They actually only contribute £9,100, so they are getting a benefit worth £51,000 a year, or 75% of pay. Contrast this to IPSA's view of the value of the pension: it says it costs the taxpayer 20.4% of MPs' pay or £14,000 a year.
After the pay rise an MP with 15 years of service will get an extra £2,850 a year in retirement. On the open market this would need a pension fund of £100,000 to provide. Across 600 MPs this translates to about £60m of value.

So don't believe everything they tell you.... like you would!
Danny...our man in America... sent me the following cartoons. The first was one of a series used years ago to explain to kids how the federal government of the country worked. The second is what happens now, as Danny says, since the radical right wing of the Republican Party decided that they preferred gridlock in Washington, because they hate the idea of government itself!

If anyone is in the least interested, apparently hundreds of babies were successfully delivered all over Scotland today. In no case was the state broadcaster obliged to have a team of experts on hand to give a blow by blow account and there were no loonie's standing outside wearing butchers' aprons. But for all that mothers and babies are doing well... and fathers are playing their traditional role getting drunk. Munguin's Republic wishes them all well for their future, hopefully in an independent country.

Sunday 21 July 2013


I've just read John Humphries' column over at Yougov on the subject of THE baby, which, I read, is due at any time now. 

Apparently the Indian population is more interested in the fact that a monarch will be born than the Brits are. Humphries asks what the public thinks of the child and its future...and at the time when I read the piece, there were no responses!.

So, I'm in the's all a matter of indifference to me too. 

And no matter what any of us thinks, these people will do what they have done for high on the hog at our expense.

There will, of course be rejoicing up and down the land. 

We will know about this because Mr Cameron will tell us that there is, and in case he looks as if he's being a bit socialist and egalitarian, Mr Miliband will echo his feelings...then Cleggy will say something about it too in case it looks like he's not been thought important enough to have an opinion. 

Even our own First Minister Alex Salmond will say something nice about the baby as I'm sure will other heads of government over the British Isles and the Commonwealth and the world.

It will receive presents from presidents, kings, dictators and murderers and tyrants, (friends of its grandfather and great grandmother), and it will receive presents from poor people who can barely afford to eat.

In the meantime more people will be thrown on the street because we can't afford to build enough houses of the right kind for them, and the ideologically driven UK government thinks it can get more votes from the right wing leaning southern English public by making fok homeless rather than finding them suitable accommodation; NHS England, which has just spent a billion pounds getting itself ready for sale (under the strangest choice for a cabinet minister in the history of cabinet ministers), will sink farther into a mire of uncaring, money grubbing incompetence; education will become even less effective and more expensive in most of the UK; more people will die of lung cancer because the tobacco companies own the government (or at least its advisor); and the railways will fall farther behind those of small African dictatorships for want of proper management and the armed forces will be left without proper rations and equipment in order to save money although we shall still have a nuclear deterrent and more admirals than boats.

Such is life in Britain. Fur coat and no knickers. 

(It's a thought though that the Tories, who are so against immigration of any kind, have had to bring in an Australian to advise them on how to get reelected and a Canadian to run their banking. The usual measure for allowing non EU citizens into the country to work is that there is no one else that can do the job. A sad reflection on education here then.)

Friday 19 July 2013


She’s not really my kind of singer, but no one could deny, surely, that Susan Boyle has a wonderful voice. 

Be that as it may, I've never thought of her as a political or economic expert or intellectual giant, so I was a little surprised to see that the Project Fear is trumpeting her support all over today’s Sun.

Subo, as she has been nicknamed, has questioned the economic and political basis for independence.

“I strongly believe Scotland should remain part of Britain” she is reported to have told the Scottish Sun.

I am a proud, patriotic Scot, passionate about my heritage and my country. But I am not a nationalist.

“We have still been able to retain our proud identity whilst being a part of Britain.

“I share many of the same concerns that other folk do with regards to independence.”

“Economically, the costs of change will be vast and money that should be directed into important areas like hospitals, schools and the vulnerable in society will be swallowed by bureaucracy.

“Many people are struggling to make ends meet — how will they cope if prices escalate because of this change?” 

“Then there’s the question of the military — what will become of the regiments?

“Another concern is there is nothing in place with regards to the EU, plus there is the question of our currency.

“We should remain a part of Great Britain and instead of wasting money on this change; we should put it into the areas that need it the most.”

The Sun goes on to say: SuBo’s stance is a huge boost for the Better Together bid.  No does!

They quote a BT spokesman as saying: Scots have always had unlimited talent and being part of Britain helps unlock it. There is no better example of this than Susan Boyle.”

With respect, I doubt if there is one single person in Scotland who will be persuaded to take a particular political stance upon which their future and that of their kids and grandchildren, by what Susan Boyle thinks.

Most thinking people will probably doubt that she said any of these things at all. 

It's kind of BT to say that Scots have always had unlimited talent, but I wonder if he or she would like to explain what that means in real terms. 

Certainly, I can see that if Susan appeared on an English produced TV programme called "Britain's Got Talent", the union certainly helped her to have that talent recognised...but wait, didn't some Bulgarian group win this years talent competition? (I could be wrong: it is so not the kind of tv I would ever watch). And in any case, with all this "endless" talent that Scots have, could we not organise our own tv talent contests?

Susan Boyle has learning difficulties, albeit mild ones. She was used by the tv company, laughed at when she first appeared looking dowdy, and then raised to the rafters by them when the public heard her voice... Cowell's look of astonishment when she started to sing was, of course, fake, as were those of Ant and Dec and the rest of the panel. They knew perfectly well that they had a star. But they used her appearance and naivety for "good television". They even let her go on stage looking like a middle aged frump with a hairstyle form the 50s, so that they could later transform her into a reasonably attractive middle aged woman.

Later, when she didn't win, and suffered some sort of mental breakdown, she was used again by Gordon Brown sending a public message of sympathy.

Now, Ms Boyle may very well be a British Nationalist. That is her right,which we all respect, But I fear BT has used her in the hopes that there are people who will be persuaded of the intellectual argument for dependence by a middle aged woman who sings beautifully and who appears to be able to learn the lines that BT have fed her.


Addition: I've just read Rev Stu Campbell's piece on this. 

Along with him I'd beg anyone reading this not to tweet or FB any unpleasant comments. (I know most of you wouldn't think of if it, but there is a lot of traffic on here that I do know know.)

It almost undoubtedly wasn't Susan Boyle who said any of it. It would be the Sun, and of course BT are delighted that they did. 

It would surely hurt Susan Boyle to find out that there was any bad reaction to her, and BT would simply use it as a publicity victory about how nasty cyber nats upset her...

...Without , of course considering just how unkind it is to use people like SuBo.


An atheist was seated next to a little girl on an airplane and he turned
to her and said, "Do you want to talk? Flights go quicker if you strike
up a conversation with your fellow passenger."

The little girl, who had just started to read her book, replied to the total
stranger, "What would you want to talk about?"

"Oh, I don't know," said the atheist. "How about why there is no God,
or no Heaven or Hell, or no life after death?" as he smiled smugly.

"Okay," she said. "Those could be interesting topics but let me ask
you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same
stuff - grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns
out a flat patty, but a horse produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is?"

The atheist, visibly surprised by the little girl's intelligence,
thinks about it and says, "Hmmm, I have no idea." To which
the little girl replies, "Do you really feel qualified to discuss
God, Heaven and Hell, or life after death, when you don't know shit?"

And then she went back to reading her book.


Wednesday 17 July 2013


Wasted on wars and unemployment while Norway invested in infrastructure, jobs and education
£1.9 billion; thats 6% +/- our total budget at the moment...and that would be extra.
Denmark joins Iceland in its acceptance of Scotland
Name me an actual FACT that they have used, if you disagree
I bet Cameron was thinking..."I wish I'd brought my union flag. Why does Salmond always outthink me?"
Pretty , not. The Brit "loyalists" of whom Brits everywhere should be ashamed. The YES campaign by comparison want to press their case with logic, not hatred.
Et cette affaire est reproduit dans d'autres régions de l'UE. Nous ne sommes pas seuls. Vive une Ecosse libre.
Useful answers for doubters. This time the truth, not from Project Fear
Just like the bedroom tax, Scots have opposed the privatisation of the Post Office, but of course no one gives a toss what we think, when there is money to be made for the Friends of the Tories and their lap dogs.
You should... no the Rev Stu's take on this nonsense. Labour's policy is its usual half thought out  hair brained, moronic  fail.
This surge in English national awareness is a good thing. Clearly the devolution settlement was unfair from the point of view of "West Lothian". The English should  remember, though, that  THEY call the tune on anything that is not devolved, and until 1999, for nearly 300 years, on everything! However, when national identity gets out of the bag, it's hard to put it back, and this is a game changer.