Monday 30 September 2013


As I see it, public debate can only reasonably take place between people who hold relatively similar positions in the campaign and therefore approximately the same level of responsibility and authority.

So, that should be as follows.

Managers/Organisers of the respective campaigns

Blair Jenkins (YES) and Blair MacDougall (NO)

Chairmen of the respective campaigns

Dennis Canavan (YES) and Alistair Darling (NO)

Ministers responsible to their respective governments

Nicola Sturgeon (YES) and Michael Moore (NO)

Heads of their respective governments.

Alex Salmond (YES) and David Cameron (NO)

The idea that Alex Salmond would debate with Alistair Darling is just silly. Alistair Darling is a back bench opposition MP who will be quite incapable of speaking on the part of the UK government. He wouldn't be able to commit to spending. He wouldn't be able to respond to the questions that need to be answered, because he simply hasn't the power.

It's not a question of status. I'm sure for those that care about that sort of thing, an ex-chancellor of the exchequer is every bit as "important" a person, by British class standards, as the first minister of a celtic fringe nation. It is, however, about the authority that Darling has to commit the UK government  to any particular action. He has none, but as FM, Alex has the ability to commit the Scottish government to actions.

If Mr Cameron thinks that he is too busy running the world under Mr Obama's direction or too important to debate with a mere first minister, who may, in any case be infected by a virus, then perhaps he should send along the man who represents his government in Scotland, Michael Moore. 

However, if I believed in this thing with every fibre of my being, as Cameron once told us he did, I'm damned sure I'd not be sending along Mr Pointless to fight my corner.
For Panda Paws!


George Osborne has announced that benefit claimants who have been out of work for three years will obliged to choose from three choices on a new Help to Work scheme. 

They will be made to:

Work 30 hours a week for six months doing community work;

Attend the jobcentre on a daily basis to look for work, or;

Undertake a mandatory regime for dealing with the issues causing their unemployment, such as mental health problems or drug addiction.

I've worked with unemployed people for 15 plus years. In my experience most people who are unemployed, want to be employed. 

I accept absolutely, however, that there are those who don't want to be.

I think that many of the people who “appear” to be workshy are in fact not.

They may seem to be disinterested but this is because they are fed up being bullied by Jobcentre, not because anyone gives a toss whether they work or not, indeed live or not, but because the Jobcentre has targets, and as long as a box can be ticket, that’s all that matters. Once you talk to them properly and try to help them, they start showing real interest in the possibility of a life with some money in their pockets.

Note: Any criticism here is levelled at Jobcentre and DWP management and not the jobcentre staff, many of whom DO care, but aren’t allowed the time or scope to work with their clients.

In most cases, people who have been employed for 3 years have some sort of problem. It may be drug related, it may be health related, and very possibly mental health related. Osborne and Smith would do well to remember that not everyone has good health, or the benefits of excellent education, connections and pots of money.

'Prison works' was, I seem to recall, the slogan of failed Home Secretary Michael Something of the Night Howard.  While that may be true in some ways, it also leaves people with records that are now readily available to potential employers, and almost certainly damn some employees before their application has even started. This problem doesn't seem to have been addressed.

But I'm always happy to see some initiative come from Jobcentre or the DWP. I wonder just what this one will do, and how it will be funded.

Firstly, it is notoriously difficult to get people to work for dole money, particularly if they are being asked to work alongside others on proper wages. It is resented, and rarely produces positive outcomes. (I worked on a similar project at the beginning of my career. We dealt with over 400 people and only 2 ended up employed. Attendees did what they had to do, mainly with bad grace, and then left to return to the dole queue as short term unemployed. In the process, they made the figures look better, which was the real object of the exercise.)

If you want people to work you must pay them. But what do you pay them to do without taking jobs away from other people?  It's a problem that JC+ will have to solve.

Making people attend the jobcentre on a daily basis is of questionable use.

There is no longer the number of staff there to deal with them. There aren't very many suitable jobs advertised and if the jobcentre is any distance at all, the cost to the claimants will be proportionally very high (in Dundee around £15 a week; a lot from the dole cheque). It will be seen as the pointless exercise it is.

The only merit in the above two is that they will make it difficult for someone who is working off books to continue to do this. But as they will be doing the illegal work with compliance from their employer, who will be saving a lot of money on the deal, it is quite probable that the second option will be managed.

The third option though seems a sensible one. Mandatory treatment for dependency type problems.

Almost no-one will employ people with drug or drink problems, and this has needed tacking for many years. The questions of course are, how will it be afforded, where will the treatment staff and facilities come from, and what other medical services will be cut as a result?

Sunday 29 September 2013



Dear Friend,

I'm a bit of an outsider, not being a Scot. However, I lived in Scotland for several years and still maintain a keen interest in all things Scottish, hoping to return to my country of choice one day.

I come from a country that was under Swedish rule for several hundreds of years, then under Russian rule for about a hundred years. Finnish independence is one of the most important things in my life. I cry tears of gratitude every Independence Day (6 December) that my “wee, stupid and poor” country is independent, since 1917.

The first couple of decades were quite a turbulent ride but WWII galvanised us and now, we, a small nation of approximately 5 million, are a united country. We've done well from an agrarian backwater to a modern industrialised and then post-industrialised country, and still a welfare state that looks after the weak and vulnerable and educates the young to the highest PISA standards and beyond - no tuition fees in our universities. We could not have done it if we hadn't been independent.

Of course, the case for Scotland is different. Finland has fewer natural resources (like oil), fewer opportunities for hydropower (Finland is a very flat and boggy country, imagine Caithness x 10), no chance of tidal power (the Baltic Sea doesn't have tides), we have Arctic winters (need to sell different kinds of diesel fuel summer/winter, by law two sets of tyres (summer/winter) compulsory for every car), houses/blocks of flats required to clear snow from pavements etc. Living in Finland is a real drag. All these problems, but yet we are a rich nation and are mostly happy in our own country.

From the outside, it seems that Scotland is being hood-winked into believing that it cannot stand on its own two feet while at the same time being asset-stripped to pay the debts of a dysfunctional larger neighbour. I'm baffled as to why all Scots can't see that. I'm baffled why anybody would vote for the unionist parties. They don't want what's best for Scotland; they want what's best for the UK, which usually isn't what's best for Scotland. Of course, there are Scottish voters who want what's best for the UK (read London/SE), and I cannot for the life of me understand WHY. But each to their own.

The tragedy of Scotland is that it gets bogged down by UK politics and can't fully function, realise its potential. Look to Norway - a small nation with a multitude of potential infrastructure problems including sparse population, hilly terrain and semi-Arctic climate. But they've made it, because of their oil and wisely spent oil revenues. Why didn't Scotland fare as well with the oil? Because England (officially, the UK) hoovered it up and squandered most of it.

No use crying over spilled milk (or oil) now. But I just cannot understand how so many who live in such a fundamentally rich country don’t want to control their own affairs through their own government.

Maybe Finnish independence wasn't so "financially viable" in the beginning, but sometimes you have to think with your heart, not numbers. As to Scotland, Scotland is richer in natural beauty, natural resources, education, history, just about anything (except land area) than Finland. Begs the question, why isn't Scotland independent again? You've got more going for you than we ever had, and we made a success of it. 

Come on in – the water of independence is lovely!

Yours fraternally,



A RUSSIAN businessman,Alexander Temerko, donated £90,000 for a ­sculpture of David Cameron – months after his energy firm received £4.5million from taxpayers. What a coincidence!
Dear Mr Cameron,

In all this time of writing to you I have been at great pains to resist comparisons (with rare exceptions) between what you are doing and the atrocities of Nazi Germany even though the similarities are obvious, not least in your use of twisted lies and propaganda. However, the sign over the Tory conference in Manchester goes too far and fills me with anger and revulsion.

I cannot believe that the words 'FOR HARDWORKING PEOPLE' are either accidental or poorly considered. Far too much planning and far too many people are involved in the preparation for the conference to allow for any error in the message you have chosen to display. Your use of it is not new, Eric Pickles has promised new homes for 'hard working people', and the meaning is clear, the rest can go hang themselves, as so many have already.

The build up to this moment has been apparent from day-one in your war on the poor, people must be driven and coerced into work and all the systems you have put in place have that one aim in mind. There is only room in Britain for strivers and if people do not strive enough, well, that's what sanctions are for, regardless of sickness, disability or family responsibilities or anything else. You have systematically stripped away rights, protections and legal aid and imposed ever harsher measures to force people into work, including and especially, without pay, driving ordinary people to the bottom.

Over the gates of Auschwitz and other concentration camps there was a sign, - ARBEIT MACHT FREI - and millions died for that obscene, twisted, barbaric lie. It represents the mind of the tyrant and the slave master, the fascist and the Tories, and the number of our dead is rising daily.

Work no more sets us free than food or shelter does and, of course, that old expression 'hard work never killed anybody' is complete bullshit, history, as the present, is littered with the hard working, exploited, dead. In speaking to Red magazine, which I wrote about yesterday, you said, 'I believe that men and women should be treated equally'. No you do not and you certainly don't believe that all people should be treated equally! You are the party of despicable prejudice and the oppression of those you consider beneath you.

Joseph Goebbels said, 'If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.' That is exactly where we are under the repression and oppression of you and your party in Britain today.

Saturday 28 September 2013


Too busy, too posh, too thick? Nah, just too hated
Send Flipper instead.
Never mind the fact that we have a Secretary of State
who is supposed to be Scotland's man in the Cabinet.
Get the bloke who is an opposition backbencher in to do it.
That way when if all goes belly up, it's not our fault.
Chicken Dave: What was it he said, something about doing
everything that was in his power to keep 
Scotland in the union?
Did he mention any exceptions?
Absolutely, you don't. Not a bloody word you big posh girls' blouse.

Yellow Dave. Apparently Tories are to get free transport in Manchester this week.
Welfare state for rich Tories
Have you caught it yet?
Brilliant wee lad at the rally
The Ugly Face of Westminster
The Uglier Face of Westminster
Bloody Hell. Apologies in advance to John Brownlie
Free Transport for Brown too
This one is for Deano
Welfare state when it's not about Tories getting free transport

And then, just for a laugh:

No wifi here, speak to each other! (For the Urchin)
Such an important part of the democracy...yeah right
There had to be one attractive image in the photos
And last, and absolutely least, here's Mr Pointless.
(Even if it should be North British Governors General)

Thursday 26 September 2013


Rangers and Celtic and Nicola
I remember seeing him. Impressive looking guy
Oh, damn. If that lot of lying gits said it, I begin to question it
Well, you paid for it, didn't you...even if they spent it on something else,
 but remember that the next time Flipper Darling tries to tell you otherwise.
Χαίρομαι που θυμηθήκατε να αναφέρω μας Winston.
Oh well, if they can't guarantee that, then I'm
sticking with Camergoon and Ozbum
There were some proper Labour guys there...
The First President? Much better looking that Charlie
Is all this referendum not causing uncertainty...? Oh, no, silly me.
It's only the Scottish one that does that
Won't it be nice to have a constitution that they
can't make up as they go along?
Like anyone would be mad enough to trust Westminster on anything
That's the way to do it when you start the day with a bowl of porridge 
Such a cuddly sort, dontcha think?
Aye, and him an' all.
We're no faird o a bit of cald in Scotland
Cheering thought.
There was Celtic....
And there was Eck
Alistair Flipper wasn't there. Must have malfunctioned, again
Yes, she is. Anyone who equates the independence movement in their own country
 to the virus of Nazism is a pathetic disgrace
I don't think anyone will forget that your lordship
Scotland unique in Europe amongst all the independent nations.
Why can't Bitter Together just use the word Independent.
It's the word everyone else uses from Bulgaria to Portugal.
It makes them sound like they're too thick to know a word with 11 letters.

Wednesday 25 September 2013


THE UK elections watchdog has recommended the Scottish and Westminster Governments set out what will happen after next year’s referendum by 20 December this year.

According to The Scotsman, a report published today by the Electoral Commission suggests both administrations should publish what their next steps would be should their sides triumph in the poll.

The 20 December deadline was suggested by the commission in an attempt to provide some clarity about what would happen in the immediate aftermath of either a Yes or No vote. The UK Government has ruled out pre-negotiating an independence deal before the 18 September poll.

According to YES TO AN INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND The Scottish Government has already published a wealth of material, all of which is readily available from the Scottish Government website:(

For all the fuss the British parties made about the need for the Scottish Government to follow guidance set down by the Electoral Commission, it is they who have failed to clarify the implications of a No vote. 

On the one hand we have vague talk of further devolution, but nothing is ever defined and there is not even the possibility of a commitment to deliver.

On the other hand, we have unionist spokespersons openly talking of rolling back devolution in the event of a No vote. The talk is of removing powers from the Scottish Parliament or even abolishing it altogether. The wishes of the people of Scotland having ceased to be of any concern once they have voted to forfeit their only leverage.

We know what independence means. We have scores of other countries, comparable to Scotland in various ways and to varying degrees, which we can to look to for examples. What is notable about all of these countries is that the sky has not fallen on any of them as a consequence of their constitutional status. For all of them, independence is normal. Not one of them is seeking to give up that independence. If it was suggested to the people of any of these nations that they might vote to relinquish independence they would think the very notion quite insane.

We also know much of the detail of what the early days of independence will look like. It is not possible to know more because the future will be what the people of Scotland decide. But we know very clearly what the present administration intends as the starting point from which the people's project to build a better, fairer Scotland will begin.

Unionists claim that these plans will be catastrophic for Scotland despite the fact that the main criticism is that, for very good reason, they change very little. In one of their trade-mark contradictions, they say that independence will be both a change too far and no change at all.

Some independence supporters also criticise the SNP for not being sufficiently radical in its thinking. They forget that the current administration has no mandate to make the kind of changes they seek. No government will have that mandate until after the 2016 election.

There are two processes involved here which are too often confused and conflated. There is the process of BECOMING independent, and there is the process of BEING independent. The Scottish Government is charged with responsibility for the former. The latter is the responsibility of the people of Scotland.

What being independent means is limited only be our imagination and our determination. We have no way of knowing where a No vote will take us. But the signs are not good.