Saturday 31 October 2015


As Danny pointed out last week, we have been sadly neglectful of North America's best known 'critters'. We hope, Danny, we've made amends this week with two real cuties.  

Thanks, as ever, to Gerry for his (non-American) picture... Which one?


Chez Duncan Smith...?
A proper lantern.
Labour painting the road signs? 
Education, Education, Education...
One way to get them to sleep!
How to be the coolest kid with the best ever lunch. 
Labour sign writers get everywhere!
The return of Mrs Thatcher.
Munguin wishes a Happy Halloween to all our readers!

Friday 30 October 2015


You're not actually going to believe this, but it's true. 

Labour has released a video for their conference...all about what Kezia stands for now that she thinks she has the freedom to run Scottish Labour without interference from London. You know the stuff...who she is for, and whose side she is on and all that. New New Labour or something maybe or maybe not.

Anyway, if you can read the stuff which comes hurtling at you on the screen from different angles, and frankly I doubt that you will be able to get it all, you'll see that, as the daughter of two teachers, education is one of her top priorities.

Unfortunately ... You might also notice this!

Some time ago Kezia Dugdale trotted out some pretty dubious figures purporting to show how badly primary school leavers today read and wrote. As you can see from the link, the good Rev rapidly debunked them, but I am sure that the Record and the Hootsman, not to mention the BBC accepted them without much question.

Munguin has a suggestion for her.

Maybe she should start her crusade for better reading and writing skills with her own team. Most of them, of course would have completed their primary education in the days of direct rule from London, or at most under the leadership of the old Scottish Executive, but all that pooling and sharing doesn't seem to have done them much good!

Now, we are far from grammatically and orthographically perfect on Munguin's Republic. We'd be the first to admit it. But we are not putting ourselves forward as the next but one First Minister. 

Monday 26 October 2015


Cameron tells us we need Trident because of the threat from
North Korea.
As Big Alan pointed out in a comment on our Soppy Sunday post, the cost of the UK Trident Nuclear Deterrent renewal has now been put at an astronomical £167,000,000,000.

For some years Westminster has bandied about the figure of £100,000,000,000 as the cost of updating and maintaining the weapons system. So that's a bit of a price hike. 

Maybe, in considering that figure we should take into consideration that almost nothing that Westminster does is ever delivered on time or on budget, and not be surprised if within a few years the cost  has risen to £200,000,000,000 or more.

Regardless of any other argument, the question must be can a small island off the coast of Europe justify this kind of money? And probably the answer to that is... No.

The current government and the Blairite wing of the Labour party tell us that without a nuclear deterrent our security is in danger. Even the Liberal Democrats believe that, although they think we shouldn't have the bells and whistles version advocated by the Tories, they say we most certainly need some nuclear deterrent.
Not everyone is happy with nuclear weapons.
But is this true? Of the some 200 nations in the world, only a handful possess this kind of weaponry, 5 legally (with the consent of the UN) USA, France, UK, China, Russia. And 3 or 4 illegally (without international consent) India, Pakistan, North Korea, and probably Israel. There are also 5 countries which have access to US weaponry: Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Netherlands and Italy.

So, by denying nuclear deterrents to the rest of the countries, is the UN condemning them to perpetual danger? If you are Polish or Spanish, Swedish or Moroccan, should you spend your life expecting destruction to descend from the sky at any moment?

I suspect not.

So, how much use are these nuclear weapons? Could we ever use them?
It's unlikely that anyone could or would use these weapons. They have been used twice only. In 1945, bombing Japan. But the aftermath of that was horrendous (people are still suffering). The weapons we have today make the 1945 bombs look like kids' toys by comparison. It is unlikely that France would use a nuclear weapon without agreement from the USA, and it would be impossible for the UK to do so, even if it wished to, because of the massive involvement of the Americans in the UK system. (See also here and here.) 

The fact is that against the enemies that the UK faces in today's world, a nuclear bomb is useless. I suppose that Obama could give Cameron permission to blow up Moscow if the Russians threatened to blow up London over the disputes in Ukraine or Syria . But how likely is that to happen? 

The UK seems to have been permanently at war for as long as I can remember, most recently in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and I imagine, soon, Syria. Can we use a nuclear bomb in any of these places? Did the UK having nukes stop Argentina from invading the Falklands? Did the US's massive nuclear arsenal stop the attack on the twin towers or on the Pentagon? And was the response in these cases to nuke Buenos Aires or Kabul?

Sir Hugh Beach, former Deputy Commander-in-Chief of UK Land Forces,
who has this to say -

It seems to me that despite being a warlike nation, the UK has cut and cut its military spend (although still the 4th largest in the world). What has gone is the stuff they need to do the job they appointed themselves to do... be Americas's deputy when it comes to policing the world. Personnel have been dismissed, equipment reduced, bases closed. Scotland has been left almost undefended with fewer than 10,000 personnel in the country. And yet it has to house the nuclear submarines with all the attendant issues of security and radiation leaks, only 25 kms from the centre of Glasgow.

Can the UK afford this money?

Yes and no. The UK can afford whatever it wants to because it can "print" the money. It already has staggering debts, so what is another £200 billion? Clearly, of course, at a time when it cuts budgets for nearly everything else, when basic services that make people's lives bearable are being dismantled, it may seem a little "fur coat and no drawers" to be spending on a weapon that will never be fired.

So who is for it, who's against it, and why?
Corbyn says he wouldn't use  nukes.
The Tories are for it. The Blairites in Labour are for it. The Liberal Democrats are for it, the last I heard, (but at a lower cost). The SNP, Plaid, the Greens and the left of Labour are against it.  Indeed Mr Corbyn, the only possible UK PM from these parties, has said he would not use it, which renders it useless as a deterrent.

Tony Blair admitted that Trident was all but unusable, but to rid himself of it was to downgrade Britain. I always wondered why he didn't think the homelessness, hunger and poverty weren't downgrading Britain in the eyes of the world.
The sooner he's in the Hague, the better we'll like it
The real truth is that only nations with UN-approved nuclear weapons can retain permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Without Trident's successor, Britain could be forced to resign from the top table. The loss of status for a prime minister careful of these matters, would be too much to take.

Saturday 24 October 2015


Thanks to Gerry for this weeks photograph... number ?

Answers on a post card.

First prize: a portrait of Munguin.
Second Prize: Two portraits of Munguin.