Thursday, 17 November 2011

Portillo Graciously Offers Scots Some of their Oil

According to the former Conservative Cabinet Minister, Michael Portillo, Scotland should get full fiscal autonomy with the authority to raise its own taxes and set the rate of corporation tax and income tax. He also proposes an end to the non-existent UK subsidy for Scotland and a resolution to the West Lothian Question.

There will be no argument here against removing the Barnett Formula, although those who think that this will increase and release any monies for the rest of the UK are in for a disappointment.

For if Portillo is really arguing for fiscal autonomy then the excise duty on fuel and alcohol will remain north of the border. This is particularly pertinent as figures recently released by the Tax Payers Alliance show that of the £2.5 billion collected by the UK Government in Scotland for 2009, only £1.1 billion was spent on transport infrastructure and tackling emissions. A further loss would be the £1.75 billion collected from whiskey.

The West Lothian Question is something that should have been addressed at the time of Devolution. It is a ridiculous and undemocratic situation that allows Scottish MPs to vote on purely English matters.

But the unique selling point of Portillo’s proposal is that the Scots should get an appropriate share of oil and gas revenues.

How very generous of you Michael. But, how absurd.

One supposes that the reasoning behind Mr Portillo’s argument is that oil and gas are shared resources and that some division, along the lines of population no doubt, is a fair and equitable arrangement.

But why stop at oil and gas? Every other resource must then be considered shared. That includes all the resources of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Or is it just those resources that obviously Scottish?

Another example, many may think, of an out of touch Tory.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Rocky Road for Ruth

Will the election of Ruth Davidson as the Scottish Tory leader herald rocky times ahead for the Party?

A mere six months ago she was elected to Holyrood as a list MSP, that is – she got there on the “top-up” vote rather than the “first passed the post” preference. Now she leads the Party.

Launching an attack on Alex Salmond in her inaugural First Ministers Question Time, she certainly didn’t set the heather on fire. Choosing to continue with this week’s anti-independence mantra about the Euro and timing of the referendum.

Using the word “feart” came over as a bit patronising. We will all be listening for the first time she lapses back into “frightened”.

Those who supported her elevation to leadership in the belief that it would mean a new approach from the Party already know that nothing has changed in that department.

It was a case of “new face”, “same old”.

She has made it clear that the Scottish Tories will continue to be a loyal outpost at the fraying edges of London Party’s empire.

She will of course get an easy time from her old pals at the BBC and it is doubtful that the rest of the media will be any harder on her. As long a there is a referendum on the horizon she is unlikely to get it in the neck from the broadsheets and as Labour see the Tories as irrelevant, even their flagship rag the Daily Record might not bother her too much.

But can she count on support from her fellow MSPs?

Well, the majority didn’t vote for her. And she’s already had major problems forming her front bench. Elected politicians don’t take kindly to the party telling them who their boss is going to be and I don’t doubt there will be some on the back benches who don’t like this one in particular.

There is an argument that if the Party’s policies in Scotland are not going to change it would have been better off with a more experienced MSP at the helm.

Ruth Davidson has come from nowhere and risen to the top very quickly. There are many around her who, although their knives are sheathed for the moment, are waiting for her to fail.

The real test will not be her performance against Alex Salmond; I doubt she will win that one, but the Local Elections next year.

Its hard enough for the Tories in Scotland and the by next year it’s a stick-on that the Coalition will have scuppered any chances she has of increasing her Party’s standing. Doing as well as her predecessor might be the best she can manage. Whether that will be good enough remains to be seen. But she will have to do a wee bit more that parrot David Cameron to achieve even that.

And if the Tories do even worse will the knives be drawn?

If there is an iota of realism left in their ranks, perhaps not. But she will come under increasing pressure to change the Party north of the border. An internal review of what went wrong, again, is not going to do her or the Tories any favours in the run up to the “big vote”. And in the long run won’t change a thing.

We wish Ms Davidson well in her career and hope she’s still there for the referendum.

Although what it takes to lead the rump of Scottish politics, other than an impossible optimism, might well be the acceptance once and for all that the Tories are a spent force.

London Society or Civic Society

Those Scots, who at present, favour the continuation of the union with England, may wish to consider that, while common ground exists between Scotland and England, there are clear and irreconcilable differences which separate the two nations. The most overriding of these has been constant and contradictory societal attitudes. The civic society of Scotland and an English society driven by economics and market forces. The imposition of the latter as a model for the UK now seems likely if Scotland does not achieve fiscal autonomy.

If one thing in recent times has highlighted the difference between Scottish and English society, it was the premiership of Margaret Thatcher.

While voters in England returned her party to Government in three consecutive ballots, her fortunes north of the border dwindled to almost nothing. By the time the reconstructed “New” Labour Party came to power the Tories were a spent force in Scotland. To this day they return only one MP to the Westminster Parliament.

Thatcher’s vision was the destruction of the very idea of “society”. It was to be replaced by a disparate nation of individuals and family units cutting each other’s throats to survive. They would, in her mind, happily do so in the knowledge that they were living in some Panglossian “best of all worlds”. They would also however, when the clarion called, gather together as a cohesive confirmation of Britishness.

As we know this was rejected in Scotland.

Devolution means that those fortunate enough to be domicile north of the border will be spared David Cameron’s “Big Society”. The solutions he offers through social policy are English-specific. Something he and other Westminster politicians avoid reference to at all times. This is what gives rise to the feeling that such policies are UK wide while those instigated at Holyrood, and enjoyed exclusively by the Scots, are extra benefits denied the English. This misconception is often encouraged by insignificant Tory backbenchers, hackneyed opportunists such as Kelvin McKenzie and the terminally deluded Boris Johnson.

No one should be fooled by Cameron’s softer approach. While it may well be disguised as the devolution of power to communities, it will be nothing more than an abrogation of responsibility to many communities.    

The problem for Scotland though, is the economic policies that are pursued by London. While they are not the drivers of the Scottish perspective of what constitutes a society, they can undermine those aspirations. Treasury Minister, Danny Alexander, has made it abundantly clear that this will be the case as he implements the Tory economic policies that will penalise all but those responsible for the economic mess that the UK is in.

By embracing the Coalition, the Lib-Dems signalled confirmation, if any was required, that they not only have nothing better to offer but are willing to connive in an unprecedented purge not only on the people of the UK, but those things which they have strived to achieve within their communities.

As for the Labour Party? As a British Party, it long ago abandoned any pretence of creating a fair society preferring instead to court, and eventually submit to, the very forces that it was formed to oppose. As a Scottish Party, it has to an extent resisted this. But, as a Scottish Party, it has been plagued by an inability to understand the changes in the political landscape and to distance itself from the ambitions of those in London.  

If the people of Scotland wish to retain a civic society, then perhaps separation is the alternative to the creeping imposition of the English model. Now, more than ever, these differences stand in stark contrast.

The ability to use revenue and resources to the benefit of all without recourse to monetary gain is the mark of a civic society. Only full fiscal autonomy and an unhindered decision making process can achieve this.

If that sounds like independence it is probably no coincidence.

Counting Past 10 is Not Ruth’s Forte

It would appear that when it comes to dodgy arithmetic, the Coalition’s cartoon character in Scotland, Michael Moore, has competition from the new Scottish Tory leader, Ruth Davidson.

After receiving her inaugural orders from David Cameron, reiterating the independence of the Scottish Conservatives by saying that she would do nothing that the leader might disapprove of and regurgitating the same old message that has seen Tories decimated in Scotland; she proclaimed to the world that she had a mandate to speak for the people of Scotland.

Before you waste any time wondering how she worked that one out, let me explain.

She claimed that the Coalition parties had won more votes at the UK General election in Scotland than the SNP did to win their historic majority at Holyrood. As such, she spoke for the nation.

But alas for Ms Davidson, in the undoubted excitement of having an audience with her hero, got it wrong.

For the record, the combined vote for the Tories and Lib-Dems in Scotland at the General Election was 878,326 which was 35.6% of the popular vote. In the elections for Holyrood the SNP polled 902,915 or 45.5% of the vote.

Not hard to work out who got more, you’ll agree.

While a competent grasp of numeracy might not have been required in a previous life as a journalist at BBC Scotland, it is generally thought to be a prerequisite of a sitting politician and party leader.

That aside, adding the votes of those who opposed you during an election after they join you in a coalition is surely a sign of desperation. I’m pretty sure that those who supported the Lib-Dems certainly don’t want their votes propping up the inane and out of touch policies of the Scottish Tories.

Its early days yet but with a start like this, Ms Davidson and her inability to count past the  number 10, promises to entertain if not inspire.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Nation Shall Speak Unto Region

This is the BBC i-Player.

Here we find Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales listed as regions. But regions of what and where? It surely cannot be the UK. For that to be the case then England would also have to be on this list.

Unless, of course, England is the UK.

Ignorance? Arrogance? Indifference? Take your pick. The BBC are guilty of all three.

So, while London is calling to the far away world, the idea that “British” should not be confused with “English” still remains lost to those at the Anglo-Saxonphone.

Where Now for Paul McBride?

High-profile QC, Paul McBride, has left the Scottish Conservatives following the election of former BBC journalist Ruth Davidson as the party's new leader. And he didn’t go quietly.

McBride was scathing in his criticism of the Scottish Tories.

As someone who has suffered first hand from the actions of brain-dead religious bigots, his main concern centred on The Party’s opposition to the SNP's legislation to tackle sectarianism and he has been highly critical of Ms Davidson's campaign manager, MSP John Lamont, who is also the party's justice spokesman.

Describing the party as "a bunch of unreconstructed morons", he said, "They have replaced one nice woman with one not so very nice woman."

Mr McBride later released a statement which added: "The Scottish Tories are no friends of the people of Scotland.

Rounding on the MSP group at Holyrood he added that they were, “divided and dysfunctional.” And that “Their only policy is to oppose everything and contribute nothing.”

"Half the membership wants the party abolished and 87% of the electorate despise them.

"Their naked opportunism regarding the minimum pricing bill and the offensive behaviour bill demonstrates why they will remain unelectable.

Well, better late than ever from the man who abandoned his lifelong support for the Labour Party just two short years ago, after deciding that they too were a useless bunch. Although not quite as useless as the lot that he’s just left. Why he ever thought that either had the potential to be anything else is a mystery.

By and large, all opposition parties in Holyrood contribute little and oppose the SNP as a matter of course. It has nothing to do with the Government’s policies, rather that the Government is the SNP and cannot be seen to succeed.

But where now for BBC Scotland’s favourite lawyer?

I get the impression that he is a political animal and seemed as stick-on to some day move into that arena. But he has now burned two pretty big bridges, as far as such a career in Scotland is concerned.

I doubt that there is much mileage to be had from the near extinct Lib-Dems or the Greens (the Party that is, not his beloved Celtic). And as a strong opponent of independence it would be inconceivable that the SNP would get his support. He has come away with some daft pro-unionist guff in the past. Remarks which now seem somewhat contradictory.

But, as it is the Unionist Parties that oppose the introduction of the legislation that he so wishes to see passed into law, he now finds himself in an increasing group of high-profile Scots such as Sir David Murray who are pro-unionists who have had to accept that the SNP are the best equipped Party to govern Scotland.

If only those pesky nationalists didn’t want independence.

How Can the Unionists Run a Referendum That They Do Not Want?

We are still waiting on the reasoned argument for the retention of the Union. Believe you me. If there was an overwhelming argument that outlined the benefits to Scotland remaining in the Union we would have heard it by now. Instead what we have had are the tactics of fear and intimidation.

The scaremongering can easily be shown as just that. Whether it comes from politicians or their friends such as Citigroup, who’s clumsy and remarkably stupid outburst about investing in an independent Scotland might have made for fleeting headlines in the Unionist media, they are along with the rest of the invective, easily shot down.

When it comes to Scotland, Westminster’s track record of playing fast and loose with democracy should not be forgotten. The manipulation of the first devolution referendum and the consistent use of the civil service to produce spurious statistics to give a less than truthful picture of an independent Scotland are well documented. And I would be surprised if they are finished with the use of the latter.

But its not so easy now. People no longer have to rely on a biased media. Those who wouldn’t be seen dead in the corridors of the Daily Record, the Scotsman or the BBC can, and do, make legitimate challenges to the propagandists through the internet.

So, having lost the argument so far, it would appear that the hijacking of the referendum is becoming the favoured policy of many at Westminster and their subordinates north of the border.

The idea is not new. But as the main London parties seem to be accepting that they are losing ground, this last-ditch tactic is surfacing surprisingly early.

They were against a referendum. They’re still against a referendum. However, some now seem to think that, as its going to happen, they should be in charge of it. Of course the raison d’etre for this is no more convincing than the argument for the status quo.

Are we to have a referendum, that is the sole result of the Scottish Parliamentary Elections, run from another country by those who don’t want it in the first place?

The referendum was in the SNP’s election manifesto. But the Unionists chose to ignore this in the sure and certain knowledge that the voting system devised by Westminster would never return a majority SNP Government. Now they are scratching around the rubbish for some way of denying the implementation of that manifesto.

Calling on the UK Parliament and the courts to declare the referendum illegal at such an early stage in the debate shows that the Unionist argument is pretty much lost before it starts.

I doubt this will worry the Scottish Government. It will not be the SNP who will be portrayed as interfering, arrogant draconian bullies.

As much as David Cameron is detached fro the realities of Scotland, I doubt he is a stupid as some in his party.

But, I might be wrong.

Iain Grey Bows Out With Predictable Vitriol

After Labour’s defeat in the last Scottish Parliamentary Election, Iain Grey did the decent thing. He took the blame and fell on his political sword. But in his final speech to the Scottish Labour Party it was a return to the empty anti-nationalist rhetoric which has done so much damage to his Party. It came as no surprise that this would be the basis of his farewell address to the conference. It really has been all that the Party has had to offer during his stewardship.

He accuses the SNP of bringing “vile poison” into politics.

He warned the candidates for the post he has now vacated, that the “cybernats” and “bed-sit bloggers” will “call you traitor, quisling, lapdog and worse”. They can also expect to have their appearance, integrity and sexuality questioned. He told them that they can also expect their families and their faith to be dragged into what he calls “the vitriol”. And, he says, it will be worse if you are a woman. (Presumably women will be threatened with a “doing”.)

Why this has anything to do with the SNP is unclear. Argument by association might work at a Party conference but it fails every test of critical thinking. That however, has never been a strong point of Mr Grey’s Labour Party. Would it be considered legitimate to tar Labour with the same brush as the BNP, the Scottish Defence League or the sundry pro-unionist knuckle-dragging groups and individuals found on the internet simply because they oppose independence. Of course not. That would be stupid.

Of course Iain Grey has never been a traitor. The use of that word is emotive, not reasonable. However, it is difficult for any UK Party to convincingly deny being influenced from London. That is something that they have to live with. Labour however, have the added problem that many perceive the Party to be under the undue influence of those outwith Holyrood. On more than one occasion during Iain Grey’s leadership it appeared to dance to the tune of its members on Glasgow City Council.

In the past Iain Grey has been criticised here. But never for his “appearance”. I couldn’t care less if he went around in a string vest and pink tutu. As for his sexuality? Well, that’s just simply, none of my business. Attacks on his family should be roundly condemned as insidious and cowardly, with those involved being tracked down and prosecuted where possible.

What he has been criticised for was leading a Party of negativity. A Party of considerable arrogance. A Party that took its support for granted. A Party that thought that all it had to do was continually rubbish the nationalists, at the expense of all else, and the votes would come tumbling out of the ballot box.

The negative campaign that Labour waged against the SNP is recognised as one of the main reasons for their humbling at the hands of the Nationalists.

Labour has to move on from “Nat-bashing”. The people of Scotland have shown that they will not be swayed by a constant mantra that is really nothing more than accusing them of gross stupidity for voting SNP. The Party has to stop reacting to what the SNP do. It has put forward alternatives. They have to stop depending on their friends in the media. People have long since seen through the constant rubbishing of Scotland and the Scottish Government by such as the Daily Record, the Scotsman and BBC Scotland.

Many thought that they had seen and heard the last of this. We can only hope that Iain Grey’s speech will be the end of it. Let’s hear about what is right with Labour and not what is wrong with the SNP. But let’s hear it in the form of an alternative vision for Scotland.  

Whether the Party has such a vision remains to be seen. It certainly did not while Iain Grey was at the helm.

Tories Should Back Scottish Referendum if They Want EU Changes

Nice to see so many in the Conservative Party demanding a referendum on leaving a union.

However, the referendum that they should be backing is on their doorstep.

One sure-fire way that the Eurosceptics in the Tory Party and elsewhere could renegotiate the terms of EU membership would be to back Scottish independence.

After separation, both Scotland and the remaining parts of the old union would have, as new nation states, reapply for membership.

The Tories however, have never seen the benefit of a separate Scotland which would rid them of all those irritating Scottish Labour MPs and give them the chance to rule in perpetuity.

And as fellow members of the EU, their students could study at Scotland’s universities for free.

Just a thought.

Time to Give the Unionist Bullies a “Doing”.

Meanwhile, over at "Barristers and Boilermakers Club", the Labour Party’s Iain Davidson has been throwing his considerable weight about.

During a private hearing of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee he threatened to give the SNP’s Dr Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff and Buchan, a “doing” if the discussions were leaked to the media.

For those unfamiliar with the parlance of Scotland, what Davidson meant by this remark was that he would physically assault Dr Whiteford and give her a beating.

For those unfamiliar with Iain Davidson, he has already had to make an apology for calling the SNP neo-fascists during a parliamentary debate.

For those unfamiliar with the Labour Party’s tactics when it comes to dealing with Scotland, this will come as no surprise. Threats and intimidation of the Scottish people is the hallmark of its approach to the impending referendum on independence.

Its no surprise that when a Party attempts to bully a country that one of its members should see it appropriate to bully an individual.

The apologists for this most boorish behaviour claim that the phrase was taken out of context and did not refer to a “physical assault”. What kind of assault it we are supposed consign to it then, remains a mystery. Unless it is something along the lines of the “doing” that the Labour Party got at the hands of the SNP in the last Scottish Parliamentary election.

There was no apology, only an excuse.

Unable to provide a cogent rationale for remaining in the Union, the tactics, as with all Unionists, continue to be grounded in fanciful apocalyptic scenarios which see an independent Scotland as a Third World Country, rife with religious persecution and a haven for terrorists. (What! – no cannibalism?)

Basically they think the people of Scotland cannot be trusted. And, if they cannot do what they told, they will be threatened with punishment. Logically then, the next step will be some sort of punishment.

Whether that takes the form of the promised and petty fiscal sanctions or indeed a “doing”, its perhaps time that the people who choose to make their lives in Scotland and wish control over those lives, called the Unionist bluff.

Who knows, the ultimate sanction might be getting thrown out of the UK. Probably by some Westminster playground bully.

Coalition Needs to Get Little Man Moore out of the Deep End

One wonders if the Coalition’s overlord in North Britain, Michael Moore, is secretly on the side of those wishing for independence. There can be little doubt that he is well out of his depth. And that is quite astonishing when you consider that he has a seriously diddy job.

The latest desperate utterings from the “Man with no Brain” have been as daft, if not dafter, that any that have preceded them.

Overlumpenstupidfucher Moore’s new argument for remaining part of the Union is that an independent Scotland would have been too small a nation to have contributed to the liberation of Libya. In doing so, he not only alienated even more Scots but successfully insulted the “smaller” nations that did take part in the NATO operation to protect the Libyan people in their struggle to topple Gaddafi.

NATO was quick to confirm and commend the role of the countries that are not as big as huge countries such as England. 

But more than anything, it shows the depths to which this man will plumb. To hitch his ill-considered rhetoric onto the back of a people’s fight to overthrow a murdering tyrant shows just how far “Liberal” values have sunk since they became the junior Tories. A statement as inaccurate as it is offensive.

And it appears that he is no better than Danny Alexander when it comes to arithmetic.

According to the moronic Moore, an independent Scotland’s spending over the last 30 years would have left it with a £41 billion deficit. The actual figures, released by the Scottish Office (which Moore claims to be in charge of) reveal that, by being part of the Union, Scotland has incurred a share of the UK debt that is in fact £60 billion.

Therefore, and this might just be a wee bit tricky for the Lib-Dem dunderhead to grasp, an independent Scotland would have been almost £20 billion better off.

What the Union has done during this period is to burden every Scot with an extra £3,800 worth of debt that they would not have incurred had the country been independent.

This however, is the man that the coalition chose. They can ditch him. Unfortunately though, many of those who elected him will have to suffer in embarrassment for a few years yet.

Scotland may well be a “little” country. But it has sent giants forth into the world to be remembered by posterity. Moore is a little man who will soon be sent south to surely find his rightful place in obscurity.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Just For the Record

Not so long ago it was BBC Scotland apologising to Ally McCoist over a piece of selective editing in a deliberate attempt to suggest that the Rangers manager took a flippant view on sectarianism.

This week it is the Daily Record that has been forced to apologise. This time to Celtic boss Neil Lennon after Saturday's back page headline read “Who’s More Hated at Ibrox (is it Lennon or the Taxman). Celtic informed Scotland’s one-time leading daily that it would be withdrawing all cooperation with troubled tabloid until it received “a suitable and substantial apology”.

In fact it is a bit of a surprise that Rangers didn’t have a go at the rag as well.

The Monday edition of the Record offered an apology for using the word “Hated”. In a desperate attempt cover their arses the Record admitted that the headline was “a misjudgement and not intended to stoke up feelings before ahead of yesterday's match.”

The cringing continued with an apology for any offence that it may have caused Lennon, his family and supporters saying that “The Daily Record has a long history of condemning intolerance in all its forms.”

Well it does have a long history. And as such, people expect the editorial team to have better judgement. Its hard to imagine that those responsible for this headline underestimated the affect of the words that were used.

It was done for affect. That's what headlines do. Or at least thats what they're supposed to do. They tell the reader what the story is about. In this case the Record told all who read it that this story was about the “hatred” felt at Ibrox for the Parkhead boss. It was a typical tabloid headline for a typical tabloid story. Absolutely no evidence that anyone at Ibrox “hates” the taxman, let alone Neil Lennon, was offered in what was a tawdry piece shit-stirring.

However, like the BBC, the Record was quick to realise that it needs access to both halves of the ‘Old Firm'. Losing the support of either side would see the paper's sales drop even further. 

Just as in the case with McCoist, the media in Scotland have been found guilty of attempting to fan the flames. Only to get their fingers burned in the process.

Danny Alexander – Liberally Wielding the Tories Axe.

Reminiscent of Thatcher's “enemy within”, the Treasury's chief patsy, Danny Alexander, has accused the Scottish Government of being a “threat to the national interest” and of being the “enemies of growth”.

Even the few that still remain loyal to the Lib-Dems cause must surely be getting more than embarrassed that Alexander is fast reigning in Michael Moore when it comes to ridiculous statements and arguments in favour of the Union. 

After the SNP wiped the floor with Lib-Dems in the Scottish elections Alexander has come up with a new idea to impose his policies on the country. Last week he threatened the Scottish government with a month on month fine of some £8.5 million should the SNP not fall into line with Conservative plans.

We will see plenty of this “government by coercion” over the next few years.

Labour were the masters of “new-speak”. But goodness only knows what the words ”liberal” and “democrat” now mean to the whores of British politics.

Some people might question Alexander’s credentials to hold the post of which he is presently holds. After all he was second choice after David Laws got hooked over yet another “expenses” story.

Well he did read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St Anne's College, Oxford. And let's not forget his boast that the £10 billion tax raid on North Sea oil, estimated to cost 40,000 jobs, was his idea. He also signed a NUS pledge promising to vote against tuition fee increases in England. He later, along with 27 other Lib-Dems, voted to increase them.

While at Oxford. Alexander was taught by philosopher Gabriele Taylor. Her best known work is “Pride, Shame and Guilt”.

No doubt Danny will have read it.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Unionists Hit New Low as They Incite Sectarian Fears for Independent Scotland

Hot on the heels of the usual drivel from Michael Moore and the ridiculous statement from Douglas McWilliams, the chief Executive of the Centre for Economics and Business Research that Scotland would be come a third world country within years of independence, comes the prediction that a vote to leave the Union could lead to a rise in sectarianism and anti-Catholic discrimination.

Paul McBride QC, one of the country’s leading lawyers, has warned of possible “very serious consequences” and damage to “social cohesion and related matters” from a rise in sectarianism that could “blossom” if voters backed independence in the referendum.

He tells us that “People are anxious that if they vote for independence and sectarianism isn’t tackled there will be very serious consequences”.

McBride believes that “sectarianism is the most serious social issue in the country today” and that as a society we ignore it.

I doubt very much if this is foremost in the minds of people when it comes serious social issues. But then again, I can only speak for the parts of the country that not blighted by this particular manifestation of this particular superstition.

McBride is backed in this view by Professor Patrick Reilly of the University of Glasgow, who tells us that he knows “some people who feel safer being part of the Union”.

He goes on to say that he can see why “some people might be concerned that the discrimination that used to exist against Catholics over jobs and housing could return.”


Seriously though, in a country that gave legal force to the European Convention on Human Rights through the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Scotland Act 1998, is somehow going to dump that and all the other legislation pertaining to discrimination and equality?

Reilly really should assure these ‘people he knows’, that in reality, this is not going to happen. 

What McBride and Reilly are implying here is that whoever governs Scotland after independence, may choose to ignore sectarianism and allow anti-Catholic discrimination to flourish. This will happen for no other reason than the people of Scotland choosing to leave the Union. Furthermore the only reason it is not happening at present is the fact that Scotland is part of the Union.

Both are astute enough to suggest that this is merely a possible scenario. They provide no evidence for their claims which are peppered with “if”, “could” and anecdotes. Therefore, when their scaremongering fails they can plead not guilty to inciting fear in a substantial part of the population. 

Yet again it is disgraceful attack on the people of Scotland. And in this case, on the vast majority of people Scotland, whether they support independence or not.

It is playing the sectarian card for cheap political ends. It is an attempt to fabricate a climate of fear amongst Scotland’s Catholics and persuade them not to vote for separation.

These remarks should be seen for what they are.

Another cheap, absurd and offensive attack on the Scottish people by those who wish to deny them the right to self-determination.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

More of Moore is Just More if the Same.

The Governor General of Scotland, Michael Moore, has told the Edinburgh Government that it has should stop showing so much interest in such things as economic policy, corporation tax and constitutional change that are determined at Westminster.

According to Moore, Alex Salmond should stop picking fights with London.

It seems to have come as a surprise to one of the bluntest tools in the unionist box that these things are of paramount importance to a party that advocates independence. While the status quo is good enough for those who don’t think that they’re good enough, it is not good enough for the rest.

Moore’s attempts to defend the legitimacy of the coalition in Scotland must come as an embarrassment to others in the Scottish party. He is the voice of the coalition in Scotland simply because not even David Cameron is stupid enough to give the job to a Tory. Although how much worse that could be, in the light of Moore’s recent statements, is open to debate.

He also told the Edinburgh Government that it should stick to, the “bread and butter policy decisions” that it has control over.

Aye, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have something a wee more than “bread and butter”.

Or, do we accept Moore’s diktat and look to the South, hoping for some jam.  

No doubt more of the same from Moore in the future. If he has one, that is.

“Third World” Prediction is yet Another Third Rate Scare Tactic

According to Douglas McWilliams, the chief Executive of the Centre for Economics and Business Research it will take the people of Scotland just over a decade to destroy their country’s economy to such an extent that it will become the Ethiopia of Europe and require Western aid. They will do so despite being part of the EU, the world’s first trade power and the largest and wealthiest economy on the planet. 

The latest third rate unionist attack on Scotland comes from Douglas McWilliams, the chief Executive of the Centre for Economics and Business Research. He used to say that an independent Scotland would be a Third World Country by 2050. Now however, with the independence referendum looming, he has cobbled together a new report and revised that date to 2030.

The Finance Minister, John Swinney, has dismissed this latest report as “deeply flawed” and containing “a series of basic mistakes”.

Mr McWilliams may very well believe in what he says but, how he comes to his conclusions are unclear.

He points out that in the last ten years, living standards in Spain and Greece have caught up with hose in Scotland and that Korea, Poland and Turkey are soon to do so. Good for them.

The reason for this, he claims, is a lack of entrepreneurship and over-government. This is compared to who or what you might ask. Because as far as I know, everything’s far from rosy in the garden south of the border.

As for Spain and Greece - just what were they doing in the last ten years that an independent Scotland should have been copying?

But, a “Third World Country”?

The term “Third World” has long been considered an arbitrary one. It arose during the Cold War to define countries not aligned either to Capitalism and NATO or Communism and the Warsaw Pact. Today it is generally considered to mean those countries which demand and receive Western aid.

So, if Mr McWilliams is correct then more than the people of an independent Scotland should be worried. In the relatively near future the European Union will be in such a mess that one of its better off countries will have become comparable with present day Ethiopia, Sudan, Afghanistan and Haiti. In economic terms these countries are considered the least developed by the United Nations based on, among other things, their Gross National Income per capita (GNI).

If McWilliams’s prediction had already come to pass, then in 2010 the Scottish GNI would have been £460. The GNI for the UK (nominal atlas method) was £1,468,800. However, all that the rest of the UK would have to do to stave off “Third World” status was have a GNI above £551. The suggestion being made by McWilliams however, is that while Scotland becomes one of the least developed countries in the world, England, Wales and Northern Ireland will remain on a sound economic footing.

That then, is the astonishing prediction.

In just over a decade after independence the people of Scotland will show themselves to be so incompetent that they will destroy their country’s economy to such an extent that it will require Western aid. 

They will do so despite being part of the EU, the world’s first trade power and the largest and wealthiest economy on the planet.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The “Fairy of Guadalajara”

Only in deeply superstitious countries such as Mexico could anyone hope to get away with something like this.

Normally in this part of the world, its Jesus or his mother on a tortilla. This time however, they are queuing up to see a “fairy”.

The aforementioned little person has, we are reliably informed, was found by one Jose Maldonado, a 22 tear-old unemployed bricklayer when he was picking Guavas.  It is being preserved in formaldehyde at his home in one of the poorest parts of Guadalajara

Jose has it on display and is charging people to have a look at it.

Mr Maldonado has said that the 2cm tall, red and gold fairy was alive when he found it. He has yet to offer an explanation for its death. Perhaps the police may want to investigate.

As usual, those miserable skeptics are suggesting that the magical sprite is nothing more than a popular plastic toy and that Jose is at it.

This though, has not dissuaded the more than 3,000 visitors to Jose’s “fairy grotto” who have stumped up $1.60 to view the “Fairy of Guadalajara”.

Good luck to Jose. He has shown himself to be an enterprising young man in the mould of P T Barnum.

And after all, he’s only he’s only doing what the Catholic Church has been doing in his country for centuries. Making money out of ignorance and superstition.

In this case however, one can’t imagine there being any lasting damage to those in the queue as Tinkerbell doesn’t appear to come with archaic and repressive life controlling dogma.

“Ordinary Domicile” is not the same as “National Origins”.

Students from the UK, who are not ordinarily domiciled in Scotland, have to pay tuition fees when studying ay Scottish universities. Those domiciled in Scotland do not. A similar fees structure is being introduced in Wales. The fees structure is based on “ordinary domicile” not “national origin”.

Easy to understand? Not if you are from Public Interest Lawyers (PIL).

According to Phil Shiner of PIL the Scottish Government has misinterpreted the law and the fees structure contravenes Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits discrimination in relation to rights and freedoms on the basis of “national origin”. He also claims that it is illegal under the Equality Act 2010 which protects against various forms of discrimination including race, which is defined to include “national origin”.

The reason why we use language is to communicate. We use different words to convey different meanings. That is why “ordinary domicile” does not mean “national origin”.

There is no legal technicality behind which the Scottish Government is hiding. Nor is there any loophole in the law which allows them to do so.

PIL’s argument that “national origin” can be determined by “ordinary domicile” is unreasonable, downright stupid and somewhat dangerous.

If this was a case of discrimination based on “national origin” then those born elsewhere in the UK but brought up in Scotland would be paying tuition fess when attending Scottish universities because of their nationality. That is patently not, nor ever has been, the case.

If we go down the road of reinterpreting language by consigning new and different meanings to words then we will never be sure what anything means.

But, I’m sure that there would be plenty of lawyers on hand to tell us.

Don’t Let Three Come Before Four.

It’s astonishing to think that that the BBC would even consider keeping BBC 3 at the expense of BBC 4. Changed and strange days indeed.

My feelings on “Three” have been made clear elsewhere on this blog.  However when you hear the likes of Ken Clark praising some of the channels programmes you might begin to wonder.

BBC 3 is, for the most part, tabloid telly for teenagers. At the forefront of dumbed-down television, its original remit has long since been consigned to the dustbin of quality television. 

Voyeuristic forays into the worlds of the dysfunctional and those less fortunate, with all the subtlety and morality that accompanied a Victorian freak show, has little  educational value and the channel’s attempts to disguise it as meaningful social documentary fail miserably.

“The World’s Strictest Parents”, “Don’t Tell the Bride”, “Young, Dumb and Living off Mum”, “Snog Marry Avoid”, “Under Age and Pregnant”, is a more than fair representation of the channel’s homemade output. All of which seem to be repeated ad nauseum.

Bulked out, only too readily, by jollies to music festivals (including the corporation’s very unhealthy relationship with the Glastonbury annual mud bath) and repeats from BBC 1 means that we have already seen much of what is on offer. And as good as the US imports “Family Guy” and “American Dad” are, even these wear thin on the umpteenth showing.  

And let’s not forget the irritating Cherry. “Cherry’s Body Dilemmas”, “Cherry’s Parenting Dilemmas” and “Cherry’s Cash Dilemmas” to name a few of Cherry’s dilemmas. One might wonder if it’s responsible to actually let Cherry out on her own. Perhaps see should stay in and watch the box – “Cherry’s So much Shite on the Telly Dilemmas”.

Left to their own devices, I have no doubt that “My Three Lesbian Mums”, “My Cross-dressing  Grandparents”, “I Married My i-Pod” and “I gave Birth to a Poltergeist” are coming our way soon.

Although BBC 4 is also blighted by the “rule of repeat”, its more eclectic programming, that encompasses both science and the arts, absolves it of the charges levelled at its spotty faced sibling.

It would be just as unacceptable to see the adolescent driven rubbish from “Three” share a channel with “Four”. Although I’m sure the programme makers would welcome the credibility that might come from association.

If there’s a niche, and it is a niche, for BBC 3, then its not at the expense of a channel that is superior in every way.

There’s plenty of rubbish like this on our screens as it is. There’s precious little quality.

There again, it only television.

Send the Rioters to London - That’s a Real Punishment.

Ah, those were the days. When the courts of England could banish their “ne’er-do-wells” to lands far beyond their borders.

Step up Richard Miller who, after one presumes reasonable consideration, went to the Government’s daft “Petition” website and started a daft petition. He wanted Parliament to debate his suggestion that his fellow English men and women, who are prone to a bit of rioting and looting, should be deported. Not to Australia this time. Rather, his preferred option was the Outer Hebrides.

Mr Miller’s petition states that the islands have “none of the comforts of English city living e.g. no running water, electricity, decent food, culture and shopping”. As such this would constitute punishment. He goes on to say that as some of the islanders keep sheep, they could look after the English yobs as well.

Surely not in the same field. What have the sheep done to deserve that?

You would have to hope that there was an element of mischief behind this petition but, this particular Dick might actually believe that he has come up with a solution. He may even be Jeremy Clarkson in disguise. But, with the inclusion of words in the petition that contained more than two syllables, this seems unlikely.

As for the Outer Hebrides? 

Well, of course there’s running water. OK it hasn’t done the recycling rounds like the drinking water of the South-east. So, if you prefer your water to have previously resided in the bladders of a couple of strangers, then the Hebrides are not for you.

Electricity? Renewable and subsidising the Green House Gas emission reductions of the gas and coal burning South.

Decent food? Granted, no jellied eels, faggots or pie and liquor here. And alas no McDonald’s or KFC. But he could try some fresh lobsters, prawns or scallops. Maybe a bit of salmon or venison. 

As for Culture? Here I would have to admit to knowing little of the traditions and customs of English city life. I know there are brass bands, clogs and Whippets, pearly kings and queens and Morris dancing. But perhaps he means the galleries full of the work of foreign artists, Italian High Opera, or the proximity to concert halls where he can listen to the music of Bach, Beethoven or Strauss. Either way. I’m not convinced that any of those he wishes to inflict on the people of the Hebrides would recognise a fugue as long as the hole in their arse points to the ground. 

How that stacks up against the culture of Hebrides, with an impeccable provenance and an unbroken history going back over a millennium, is perhaps a matter of individual preference. It is certainly not for comparison.

It is also interesting that Mr Miller thinks that denying his fellow citizens the ability to go shopping is a punishment. It was apparently obvious, from the television pictures beamed around the world that they prefer to steal rather than shop.

And Mr Miller needn’t be so modest. What about all the other things that English city life offers that they don’t have in the Outer Hebrides.

Polluted air, muggings, murders, rapes, drug dealers hanging around the school gate and the very real chance of having your children shot or stabbed to death by one of their peers. And all this on litter strewn streets that are costing English councils close on £1 billion a year to clean up.

And let’s not forget the most recent contribution to civilisation to have sprung from English city life, the brain-dead knuckle draggers who rioted, looted and trashed the very places of whose virtues he extols.

London would surely top the list of places of places most suitable for internal exile.

Having said that, there may perhaps be some merit in this idea.

A reciprocal arrangement that saw the despatching of Hebridean delinquents south would be a deterrent unrivalled. Although actually being forced to reside in one of Mr Miller’s urban utopias would surely be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

Still, Richard Miller got his 15 minutes of fame, albeit only in the Outer Hebrides. I for one hope that he has a few more such petitions up his sleeve. A man with such remarkable insight and knowledge of Britain must surely be destined for great things. Even if the freedom of Stornoway is not one of them.