29 Mar 2009

A NATIONAL DISGRACE: £1.5 million payoff for 8 parly bosses

This is a national disgrace, a symbol of how far we have fallen short of these high aspirations we had of our new parly only ten years ago.. I re-produce below in full the article in today's Sunday Herald on payoffs to 8 senior parliament staff totalling £1,5 million below. I intend to post much more later, but I already know what is going on.

I worked at the parly fot 7 years, know exactly the set up, who's who's and how they inter-relate - indeed who appointed them, and what they were paid in the first place. So if you are a bemused MSP wanting more info please to contact me.

But you probably won't, as it will beg the question what 129 of you - no, 128, I'll exclude Margo - have been doing for 10 years, other than presiding over one of the worst public sector bodies in Scotland. And you can blame nobody but yourselves. It has been the all-party Scottish Parliamentary Corporate body - one Labou,r one SNP, one Lib Dem and one Tory - that has been in charge from day one. And Sir David Steel, George Reid and now Adam Fegusson - your senior statesmen, the consensual pick of your bunch.

Yet you, all 129 of you, are meant to hold the entire public sector in Scotland to account, but can't even hold your own place of work to account, don't seem to have the slightest clue, are propably reading about these obscene payoffs for the first time in the Sunday Herald.
As a result, in my eyes anyway, you have no credibility demanding efficiencies, even the accountabilty of Scottish Goverment departments , local councils, quangos and the rest of us, as you preside over one of the worst public sector bodies in Scotland. And set up only 10 years ago, by the Convention parties and with belated SNP and Scots Tory buy-in. Nae Maggie T, these English and co to blame for this mess.

And in the name of people of Scotland

But just do any reasonable like for like comparisson with the costs of running Holyrood with any parly in the world - even fully independent ones, and you will see instantly just how inefficient Holyrood is. ( something in my time the senior officials point blank refused to do, indeed they even rubbished an Irish Parliament consultants report that put Holyrood as bottom of their international efficiency league table)

We know what they wasted on that building- we got a disfunctional building worth £150m tops, but paid £450m. But the very same people who mismanaged this, still blow close to £50 million every year, year on year and rising just running the place. Ask how much it costs the Catalans - population 6 million, many more powers than Holyrood, check out a comparable sized Lander in Germany, a US state, or even the Irish Dail.

And our democratic reps don't seem to care - indeed they are in on the act. Did you for example know one of seven Bills currently going through Holyrood is one to improve MSP pensions? A national priority of course in these trying times, these poor put upon impoverished MSPs worried about their future ( well some should be!) . And these new improved pensions all set up by the senior parly staff , who are in turn benefiting from these obsence payoff. Nice wee number, nice cosy arrangement.

Nigel Griffith only screwed one person in the Commons. This mob are screwing 5 million of us every day at Holyrood.
Enough for now, but here's the Sunday Herald article to be getting on with.

Holyrood boss under fire as eight staff share £1.5m pay-off
By Paul Hutcheon

HOLYROOD CHIEF EXECUTIVE PAUL Grice has been criticised after eight senior parliament staff shared an early retirement pot of at least £1.5 million. The deal is worth the equivalent of £190,000 for each of the Holyrood bosses.

The redundancy round was sparked after Grice accepted recommendations from his colleague Carol Devon to cut the number of senior management posts. Devon ended up as the main beneficiary of the plan after her application for redundancy landed her up to £270,000.
Holyrood's head of personnel Ian Macnicol, head of security Bill Anderson and Ian Perry, head of the external liaison unit, all negotiated deals. Patsy Richards, head of the parliament information centre, and three clerk team leaders will also benefit.

These seven include two employees at grade seven, who earn up to £71,327, and five at grade six, whose salary reaches £58,022. Devon's salary, according to parliament accounts, came in at up to £95,000.

The £1.5m is a combination of lump sums and pension payments. If Devon's sum is taken out of the equation, the seven others stand to benefit from an average gain of £175,000. The Sunday Herald understands one of the seven had a short length of service and is unlikely to have received a large sum.

The payments have led to criticism of Grice, who approved the early retirement applications, although the parliament insists the plans will yield savings. Grice has already been rebuked over his role in the cost overruns surrounding the Holyrood project.

The payments raise further questions about public-sector bodies paying out hundreds of thousands of pounds to senior staff in pay-offs. North Lanarkshire Council has spent almost £2m on early retirement and severance since 2007, while Scottish Enterprise (SE) paid over £20m in lump sums. Within that total, four individuals received severance lump sums of over £250,000.
Glasgow City Council paid almost £19m in similar deals, while NHS Lothian confirmed spending around £1.3m in redundancy payments since 2007.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "At a time when many taxpayers are having to postpone their own retirement, or have seen their private pension reduced out of recognition, these pay-outs are totally unjustifiable. Mr Grice has some serious questions to answer."

John Wilson, an SNP MSP for Central Scotland, said: "While large sections of the workforce are concerned about their future, senior parliament staff are leaving with golden goodbyes prior to their normal retirement age. No doubt they will end up on other public bodies, picking up other salaries."

A parliament spokesman confirmed that £1.5m had been allocated for eight staff, adding: "The full expectation is that the team changes will pay for themselves within five years and thereafter deliver annual savings."


Pay No Poll Tax !

It is 20 years ago, 1st April 1989 to be precise, that the Poll Tax was introduced in Scotland. That legal requirement to pay, and a year ahead of England, was of course preceded intense campaigning, and Scotland on Sunday has done a good feature on it all today.

I would recommend it to those too young to remember or so old we have forgotten!

In particular, I like the paper's slideshow- here's a direct link to it.

Strange days, in hindsight great days, but they just felt like any other day to me and I guess most folks living through them at the time But we won! - the beginning of the end for Thatcherism

And a campaign led from Scotland - but let's not forget finished in England.

But a big hats off to the tens of thousands of Scots who led the way, refused to pay.

If only Sandi Thom had done likewise


28 Mar 2009

Sandi Thom's £581 Breakfast - and 'a that

From Today's Scotsman
By David Maddox, Scottish Political Correspondent

THE SNP has been accused of providing one of its most high-profile celebrity supporters with "Scottish Government kickbacks" worth almost £10,000.

The money was paid to the singer- songwriter Sandi Thom as expenses for gigs she performed for the Scottish Government in 2007 and 2008. This included a flat-rate fee of £3,000 for a St Andrews Day event in 2007. In 2008, the Scottish Government paid a £860 hotel bill and £581.75 for breakfast and refreshments when she performed for another St Andrews event in West Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh. Flights for Ms Thom, her band and tour manager cost another £1,440.53, while she also received £404 for car hire and there was an agency fee of £750.

At the launch of the First Minister's Christmas card at Duff House in Aberdeenshire, she was paid an agency fee of £1,000 and transport costs of £1,478.30.

The information was revealed in a Scottish Government written answer to Labour delivered three months late. Scottish Parliament rules says answers should be given within 20 days. The answer also did not include Thom's expenses for 2009. These include being flown to Ayr for a Burns Night supper and being jetted to Washington DC to perform at a Scottish Government event close to the time of Barack Obama's inauguration. Ms Thom, who is from Banff, in the Westminster constituency of Alex Salmond, has been a high-profile supporter of the SNP and appeared on its 2007 election literature in a letter aimed at young voters. She also sang a duet of the song Caledonia with Mr Salmond at the beginning of her Homecoming tour this year, and the tour itself was promoted to SNP members in an e-mail from the party chairman Peter Murrell, the partner of Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy leader.

John Robertson, the Labour Glasgow North West MP, said: "These lavish expenses are kickbacks for helping the SNP election campaign. This stinks." He added that the SNP could not afford to "fritter away £500 on an expensive hotel" when it has cut 1,000 teachers in the past year. read full article

- Indefensible

In the USA they call this pork barrel politics, but it is commonplace the world over, and of course New Labour has it down to an art form. So don't think I am unaware of their hypocrisy here. From the party of Tony McNulty, Jacqui Smith, Cheri Blair and hundreds more.

But that don't make what has happened with Sandi Thom right, remotely right.

If we are to succeed - win our independence - we must rise above these temptations of graft and corruption, some even put there deliberately as temptations so as the unionists can run stories such as these.

But did you fight to win office so as Sandi Thom and her pals could enjoy inflated fees and obscenely priced breakfasts at taxpayers expense? Real people , voters, the Scottish working class?

Get a grip of wee Eck I suggest rather than whinge at The Scotsman or an obscure Labour MP on this one - they are only doing their jobs. Do yours - Sort out your leader, no your king. Ask party HQ ( oh sorry, it's Peter Murrell, Nicola's man and Sandi's groupie), whit does Eck thinks he is playing at - other than slowly but surely blowing it?

And whilst you're at it, tell him he also needs to dump Sir George Matheson as his Government's Chief Economic adviser pronto - before the Edinburgh neds or the fraud squad get to him first.

It's a democratic and accountable government you are running, no a monarchy, a fiefdom, King Eck. And a minority one - so you are well exposed here - nae whipped votes will protect you.

In this regard these New Labour pork barrellers at least know whit they are doing. Not sure you do. But I didna see no "inflated fees for cultural nats - especially ones frae Banff" promises in that 2007 manifesto. Though I read plenty more

And mind what happened last time he was in charge and naeone asked him aboot his taxi fares - apart from that Party Treasurer he, Nicola and co did in.

And an important postscript: The Scottish Sun has the story too - plastered over its front page and beyond. For the uninitiated The Scottish Sun is now far and away the best selling newspaper in Scotland, in part because its younger more open minded readers were increasingly put off by the once dominant Daily Record's pro Labour, pro Government sycophancy. So this is what the younger, independence leaning, open minded masses will be reading in their hundreds of thousands today, Read web edition here

So ask yourself why?

And incidentally, Andy Nichol, The Sun journalist who wrote this is about as nat friendly as you could ever wish for. But he is a good journo and can spot a good story a mile off. Just one of the reasons. the Scottish Sun does so well compared to its much better resourced Record rival.


26 Mar 2009

BBC Brownose

I was inspired to make this post by tory(ish) blogger Wrinkled Weasel's World who has performed an excellent public service by posting in full the text of Tory MEP Daniel Hannan's demolition of our beloved Prime Minister earlier this week in the European Parliament. Go visit the wrinkled one's blog for the text, play this youtube clip above to view it

But the thing I really wanted to highlight, is not so much the speech - which is great, a classic - but the total failure of the BBC to report it, in contrast to the other networks and papers, most of whom gave it well deserved big licks. It even made some US networks - but not the BBC

The BEEB really has become more New Labour than New Labour - craven, sycophantic and completely without independent judgement. "Don't upset the Government, Gordy in particular" would be the honest thing to write down as rule number 1 of its famous Producer Guidelines these days. Soon auntie will be doctoring Raith Rovers results to ensure, in the beloved leader's mind, his team always wins.

And having just read the wrinkled one's post , I turn on BBC 1 to find it has sent its Political Editor Nick Robinson, and no doubt a large crew of lovies (and maybe Tony McNulty's parents too) all the way to Brazil to report on a non event of a visit there by GB. This from the same BBC that passed on freely available, electric, topical and truly engaging footage of Danny Hannan, with Gordy and the rest of Europe watching in Strasbourg only a few days earlier.

Yet this shower of pampered, inefficient and overpaid cheerleaders have the brass neck to claim they are short of money!

I can't wait for the BEEB's "Gordy is our Obama" stuff when the G20 comes to town next week. All conveniently ignoring that the last place Obama wanted his first big international outing to be was Brown's (in near every way) bankrupt Britain.

"Where's Cuba?", I bet Barack will be thinking - "a country with a future and a youthful leader!" And a freer national broadcaster? - no, that's pushing it. But we are getting there.


Labour Pie - Just add Tony McNulty and Wee Nigel


23 Mar 2009

A Refreshing Alternative to Nigel's Bonking and Economic Meltdown


22 Mar 2009

Labour Has Just Lost Edinburgh South

And as if an illegal war, a recession, billions of our cash to their banker chumbs, was not taking the piss enough.
But it's the rest of us that need ID cards?
Read the NOTW at its best - a public service.
And if sex scandals ain't to your taste, try this instead. Just the average weekend in the life of our institutionally corrupt New Labour Government.
"Once started out so young and strong, only to surrender"


Schools, pure mince, and apprentices

Brian Taylor has done some excellent detective work on his latest blog - one on the various claims and counter claims over the Scottish Government's schools building programme.

It is a bit of a read - it's a complex subject - and Brian with his BBC hat on pulls his punches in terms of conclusions. But I'll say what Brian couldn't - Alex is telling porkies.

Don't believe me? - read Brian's blog and the numerous posts that follow it - some from obviously well informed sources who know who commissioned what and when. And Eck's info - delivered in response to Ian Gray at FMQ on 12 March - is near 90% mince, pure mince. All from that "overworked" Civil Service of his.

I don't quite know what I expected from an SNP Government when I enthusiastically voted for one in May 2007. I knew independence was a long term project, and that some of the manifesto's policy promises were, shall we say, ambitious. But would the truth be too much to ask for?

And as a related postscript, I see Ian Gray has been left with egg on his face by the news that Lewis Doig, the Tranent apprentice supposedly facing unemployment and now in search of his Scottish Government apprenticeship guarantee, has in fact got a job. Indeed, was in a new job when Ian Gray raised his case live on TV during FMQs last Thursday. How shabby, what crap research - did you team not think to check?

A curse on both your houses. Scotland deserves better, could do better, will do better.

The truth is out there.


21 Mar 2009

Come on Ireland, Come on Scotland

Aye We Can !


20 Mar 2009

Ian Gray won, Alex Salmond nil

First Minister's Questions, Thursday 19th March

I thought Ian Gray won , as he increasingly does, and comfortably. Exposing once more how slogans and well enough intentioned policy commitments ain’t enough.

Alex needed all his rhetorical skill to stay afloat.

But here is my analysis -which ain’t intellectually hostile to the SNP: It needs to waken up to the reality that the administration it presides over - The Civil Service and its sub quangos - are just rubbish, absolutely rubbish,

It was rubbish under Labour, but it suited the SNP in opposition to "blame London", not home grown bureaucrats, so it was never exploited. But it suits Scottish Labour in opposition's to exploit , and by god it is doing this well.

And the SNP - as it is the Government now - will pay the price. Especially if it continues to apologize for them, cover for them, read their briefs.

And especially if it continues - as Eck does like a talking parrot these days – bang on and on about London’s “ £500m cuts”, when all this is is a quite reasonable UK wide public sector 1% efficiency drive - in a recession where the prices of near everything are falling, and when private companies and voluntary sector organisations are habitually taking cuts of 10% or more. The SG/SNP should instead offer to save a billion ( to be then used of front line service provision) - if Labour in Scotland promises to help: Help root out the inept, take the vested interests, including the public sector unions - from the First Division Association to the PCS. And say loud and clear that the people of Scotland - that's 5 million of us - deserve better than this antiquated 35,000 (and rising!) mob provide.

The key to independence, of this I am sure. No small, new, dynamic nation could afford to carry this baggage. And 90% of the top mandarins are Unionists to the core, however nicely they smile in your presence minster, First Minister. A disturbing proportion of the top guys Oxbridge educated - and in realty mostly London Civil service rejects, up here as they couldnae cut it down south. Apart for 1% of them - M15 plants. There is probably one high up in Skills Development Scotland Eck!

And just do read the letter Fiona Hyslop's department wrote (I know not written Fiona, but signed by her to the Leader of the Opposition) to a 19 year old apprentice fearful for his job. Appalling - in any country, in any constitutional arrangement, under any government - even mine. Especially mine.
Dont believe me? - read this - Reality


19 Mar 2009

Jimbo Murphy's Law

By accident - I was looking for the Aberdeen v Dunfermline cup result - I caught the BBC's Scottish Parliamentary Question Time highlights programme from Westminster last night.

Id given up on this constitutional anachronism long ago, but I watched out of curiosity to be myself curiously surprised. It was relevant - and there were more that 20 MPs there, many more.

I guess most - the English ones - were there to get good seats for the next item of business, but they, like me, seemed to get caught up in the banter, and in particular the masterly front bench performance of Secretary of State for Scotland, Jim Murphy.

Jim and I have form - both former Presidents of NUS Scotland ( separated by a decade though) , he an arch Blairite, myself from now defunct Scottish Labour Action's "provisional" wing: Him a Zionist with double Z, myself pro-Palestinian , etc, etc.

But although I've long reckoned him to be a grade 1 careerist and a bit of a chancer, I've always strangely liked him, can appreciate his strengths , certainly his hard work, and at times his sheer balls when defending the indefensible. A sort of Michael Forysth like besieged figure, but with a bit more working class street cred. And he is great with people - watch him work a reception, or a rally as it assembles.

Now before all yee nat bloggers start going crazy, calling me a Unionist agent provocateur or worse, let me say hell would have to freeze over before I ever voted for Jimbo in any capacity - I'd emigrate to Israel and take my chances of avoiding arrest there first.

But the guy is able, dangerous I'd say to many of the causes I believe in, first and foremost Scottish independence. Compared with his predecessors as SoS - Des Browne, Wee Dougie, Alastair Darling - this guy is a class apart. Indeed, the ease with which he - at his discretion - chose to either swat away criticisms from all comers - English Tories, Scottish Tory, Lib Dems and nats - or alternatively disarm them by embracing them as allies was, in debating terms, highly impressive. Donald Dewar class - better I'd say

And as the chamber filled up during the Scottish Questions session, with primarily English MPs there for next business, you could see they were impressed. "Where did this guy come from? " I could almost hear them thinking. "A Scottish Minister that almost sounds credible, convincing - not washed up?" Not a Brown cypher

This guy is dangerous nats. Underestimate him at our peril.

And Dunfermline won 4-2 on penalties. The Cup is surely The Saints' - once the huns have been vanquished at Hampden.

It's coming home!


17 Mar 2009

The Dream is Over?

There is a blog, "Scot goes Pop", that today tells us - one opinion poll, and "the dream is over" - forever. I am now being told the blogger is a nat and being sarcastic. But no doubt Angus McLeod in The Times, Magnus Gardham in The Record and co will soon be wtiting something similar for real.

I'd agree with Scot Goes Pop seriously in only one sense - between now and the next Scottish elections in 2011 is not a good time to hold a referendum. The essential idea, that a mega recession, is a time to pull together not divide the country with an inevitably divisive independence referendum is a sound one. And, from an SNP/pro- Independence perspective, sound tactically too, as we'd near inevitably end up as the smaller half, way smaller half in present circumstances. Defeated, in Eck's words, "the issue settled for a generation" But forever? Mince.

But without a referendum now ( and arithmetically it seems for now undeliverable), I'd say until 2014, co-incidentally Bannockburn 700 !

Why then? - mid way through the SNPs 2nd term I'd hope, when the SNP in Government had well and truly proven itself - and I'd also hope a genuinely autonomous and large non SNP Independence "movement" had emerged; And the recession would either be by then on the mend or so fundamental that we provably needed radical change - independence, and a social and economic revolution with it.

And perhaps even more significantly still - especially if the SNP had had the strategic foresight to not just suspend it demand for a referendum in 2011, but be seen to do this, it would be regarded by more and more as as a truly "national" party: One that had worked with others to fight and hopefully defeat the worst aspects of recession that threatened the people of Scotland.

I do think there is such a thing as reward in politics.

Scotland's day will come - if less rapidly than the SNP's unthinking ( and tiny) card carrying fan base might continue to dream.

But.... A second SNP term , a defeated near bankrupt Labour party with its job seekers base realising the game's up; a Tory party interested in consolidating its English base, its own second term, an Obama administration sorting out the world's hot spots including delivering a independent Palestine; some sort of united Ireland moving ever closer; Today's 14 year olds 18: The Scottish working class.

Our day is coming.

Dead forever? - You will never kill us - unionists surely you should have learned that centuries ago?

And, Tavish - ta!!


16 Mar 2009

There ain't no cure for these SNP blues?

From The Scotsman: 16 March 2009

"LABOUR yesterday hailed a poll which shows the party has overtaken the SNP in Holyrood voting intentions.

It comes amid falling support for an independence referendum. A YouGov survey found the SNP remains ahead on the constituency vote with 35 per cent, compared with Labour's 34 per cent. But on the regional vote Labour is on 32 per cent and the SNP on 30 percent.

This would give Labour 49 seats – up three, while the SNP would drop to 44 – down three. "

I say

That Labour is ahead at Westminster and to a lesser extent Europe comes as no great surprise - but getting that vote out will be a problem for the comrades in June so maybe not as rosy as it appears

Nor do the figures on independence referendum voting intentions surprise. Let's get real - the middle of a global recession ain't good time to go it alone. Thank god for Tavish's veto, long may he reign

But worrying is that the SNP Government is apparently behind on its own Holyrood patch, a patch where it controls the agenda, and only a few months ago it was comfortably ahead. Of course some of this slippage will be related to the global situation. But let's not kid ourselves this reflects some self inflicted damage; The humiliating abandonment of Local income Tax - and the pathetic reasons given: The failure to build new schools or hospitals: the catastrophically bad social housing outcomes ( yes -more money allocated ,but fewer house starts - what happens when you let duff anglo civil servants walk all over you with reject Blairite policies, Nicola ): That single tranferible excuse of a non existent £500 million cut - two years from now : That RBS link, including the ridiculous decision ot continue with Sir Fred’s sugar daddy, turned tax dodger, Sir George Mathieson as the Scottish Government's chief economic advisor ( a joke amongst the business community and politically astute, who all know he's still there for one reason - he's Eck's chum ): Creative Scotland.

And Ian Gray's Scottish Labour party - much better than that of Wendo . Understands it is in opposition and is playing the long game. Exploiting issues such as the ones listed above, and generally just more astute. And Jim Murphy - a winner. Look at his record from NUS to Eastwood - he is no clown.

Yes, there are some things that are outwith SNP control, but not all. Here the new heavyweight reinforcements of Alex Neil, Mike Russell and the fresh thinking of Keith Brown will help. But Nicola on Housing and a lesser extent health, and Fiona Hyslop and education ( try doing a single thing New Labour would not have done), and a few others - shape up or ship out.

The requirements now are altogether bigger than outmaneuvering a few lefties within the SNP caucus, or driving Margo and Dorothy-Grace out (what a waste of great folks) to get yourselves a bit higher up that list. It's now big issues, big forces - so get the finger out

Let this poll - and it's only a poll, and only one - be a warning.

The Unionist's gloves are off - time to bite back. But with measurable results, not slogans. Because, come polling day the SNP Government will be rightly judged on its record - and on quite a few vital fronts it ain’t that good. But two full years to put it right - but only if the SNP recognises these failures, not rally round the culprits.

And John Swinney – you are a star. Sort out the rest of them.


15 Mar 2009

Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

Just watched Douglas Alexander - that's the guy who fucked up the Scottish Parliament elections and got promoted - on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, live from Edinburgh

Aside from just in general being a national embarassment, wee Douglie was repeatedy questioned on the lessons he and the UK Government has learned from the disasterous banking crash they have presided over. In hindsight, asked Marr "is there anything different you might have done over the past decade, anything you did wrong... maybe became too enthrawled by the magic of these bankers you knighted, fetted, appointed to high office?" Not a tweak of conritition from wee Dougie. It was all somebody else's fault - these regulators apparently.

But who appointed the regulators Dougie? Who set the regulations? Who was Chancellor since 1997?

My conclusion - apart from my long held one that this Brownose cypher is about the most overpromted politician in British history I can think of ( still astonishingly Labour's UK General election coordinator and Minister for Overseas Development) - he ( they) would do it all again, - the exact same were they ever given another chance.

Let's not

And pray for the third world - Douggie their man in Britain, their proxy voice in the UN Security council !

PS Eck on the same show far more convincing, dignified. But still strangley pro RBS, and on the backfoot when quizzed on Sir George Mathewson, - as he will continue to be as long as he remains his Government's chief economic advisor. But overall good, credible. And why is it only on UK network TV that he tones down that smugness to almost positive levels?


The SNP Myth of the £500m cut and related matters

From Today's Scotland in Sunday

"Finance Secretary John Swinney is warning public sector chiefs that their budgets face being frozen until 2014, as the UK Treasury attempts to rein in spending. After inflation, the freeze would be equivalent to a 10% cut in spending on education, health and transport in Scotland, threatening every school, hospital and road project in the country.

Ministers have so far restricted themselves to predictions of a £500m cutback in spending in 2010, but Swinney has now privately prepared a longer-term analysis ahead of the UK Government's budget in April.

It predicts there will be no extra cash coming to Scotland from the Treasury until the middle of the next decade.The Finance Secretary is now demanding that massive savings be made across the public sector before the cuts kick in next year."

I usually support the SNP, little time for Labour

But on this latest spin, and on the ever repeated single transferable excuse of the current £500 million pound "cut", the SNP is just playing the politics of grievance.

Do they not understand basic Kenysian economics? - if you spend your way out of a recession, the consequences of this are restraints on public spending as you move out of it. This is the case the world over, would be the case in an independent Scotland, any kind of Scotland you care to imagine - except the Disneyland version,

As for the £500 million pound cut - it only applies to efficiency savings on existing programmes - a 1% reduction spread over three years, applied UK wide to all spending department in the face of a deflationary recession in which the private sector and voluntary sectors are typically taking cuts of 10% or more. And Government department wise, John Swinney has the easiest of tasks - the Scottish Civil Service is the most inefficient and flabby part of the entire regime.

There is no net cut. UK Government spending keeps rising and will rise even more in April's budget. Is the SNP not following what Brown is pushing for through the G20 ? A worldwide reflationary package which could see a £100bn increase in UK public spending, with close to £10bn of new money coming to Scotland. Yet John Swinney and his team are briefing on "cuts" They are either just thick or deliberately misleading. Take your pick?

This ain't serious politics for serious times - just posturing, getting excuses in early over the shambles, nae the myth, that is the Scottish Futures Trust. And no attempt whatsoever to deal with the blatant waste of resources and inherent inefficiency of the Scottish Civil service which is the real drain on everything - how, for example, a much hyped £100 million boost to affordable housing in Scotland has actually led to falling output. The system is than bad ( how Labour squandered billions on increased NHS spending to see it asked up by more pen pushers and a near doubling in doctors wages) Yet John Swinney seems to be protecting this system and chooses instead to lambast "London Labour" about non existent "cuts". Cuts, when Darling is provably - the Tories would say recklessly - increasing public spending

I do despair sometimes at the sheer dishonestly of some of the nats in high places, and the sheer gullibility of all the Nat bloggers who will no doubt condemn me as a "unionist stooge".

Go look at the figures? Go keep a copy of your own posts and remind yourself how stupid you will look on Budget day, 22 April.

Independent Scotland? Independent brains would be a start


14 Mar 2009

Watch Now Before the BBC and M15 take it down again

This film ( in six YouTube sections) speaks for itself. But why only on YouTube?. Inexplicably this film, made for the BBC Alba Gaelic language channel is not available on BBC i-player. Well it was very briefly, before being inexplicably removed.

Big cheers for Chicmac1 posting it on his YouTube account, but how long before the dark forces behind its prompt removal from BBC i-player, are flooding YouTube with "copyright infingement" complaints. So watch now, not later - take notes!

My one additional comment is really adressed to what I would call naive, rather than misguideed nats - near all in the SNP, and some surprisingly senior. If the British state was up to this in the 1960s and 7os, where you were but a distant threat, what do you imagine they are up to right now? So be vigilant, be astute, hard where necessary - a smilling face and a few grand of ever so helpful donations to party funds, etc, might not be all they seem. Or just read what the British state got up to in Ireland pre and post independence, or what it did in near every other country in the former empire.

But wee Eck seriously thinks by pledging allegience to Lizzy - the epitome of this corrupt secret establishment - all this can be avoided here?

And well done the Gaels - a real public sevice we have waited for 50 years to see on BBC1 or 2. And you - the last of the free - did it within three months of BBC Alba's Launch. A true public service - worth every penny of public funds. Now just let the public see it BBC!

And nae wonder they won't let The Parliament of Scotland have control of our ain broadcasting systems.


Bonnie Dundee!

I don't usually pay much attention to council by-elections - often local factors, specifically the circumstances of the previous councillor's departure - makes a huge difference.

But Dundee Mayfield - won by the SNP from Labour on Thursday - was a really significant by-election - upon it lay the balance of power in one of Scotland's main cities. It was fought fiercely by both sides and the SNP won by a mile.

In a way it was more signifcant than the Glasgow East or Glenrothes ( if you belive that result) Westminster by-elections, because something was at stake - control of a major council.

The Scottish media's near non-reporting of this takes the biscuit. First of all - if it ain't in Edinburgh or Glasgow (or somewhere in between) it dont really count. But more importantly still, because the SNP won, it is ignored, dismissed as a larely meaningless local joust at news editor level. But rest assured, had Labour held the seat, Angus McLeod, Magnus Linklater and co would have had a (London ) "Times" editorial proclaiming the "death of nationalism", and whoever is in charge of The Herald and The Scotsman these day ( difficult to keep up) would be right now chasing Muriel Gray to pen some pish on where its all gone wrong for the SNP. And the Daily Record would go one better - a feature item by Wee Douglie, Jimbo Murphy or even the PM himself - ghost wrtten by Magnus Gardham.

The Scottish Media, with a few honourable exceptions ( Bernard, Robbie, McWhirter, Riddoch, Bell, Cambell Gunn and the immaculate Dorothy-Grace, to name sadly a short few ) really is crap. A national embarassment almost. Toom Tabbards tae almost a man and woman

But not good enough to pull the wool over the eyes the folks 'o Bonnie Dundee - up wi them bonnets

Result (after Single Transferable vote Tranfers)

Craig Melville ( SNP) 1747
George McIrvine (Lab) 1188
Turnout 29.4%

And in a city Scottish Labour - Brown, Prescott, Harman, Murphy, Gray, et al) had held their annual conference in only 4 days previoiusly. And all the media were ther, knew fine well about this key by-election. In his speech Prezza made a special appeal for comrades from all over Scotland to give a day for Dundee to save the city from nationalism!

Save our country from neo-Stalinism, I say. Beria would give these Scots newspapers a medal.


12 Mar 2009

Free Tibet !

High Land, Hard Rain


10 Mar 2009

Oh for a Scottish national leader with vision, courage, balls

The luck of the Irish - Woolfe Tone, Daniel OcConnell , James Stewart Parnell, Authur Griffith, James Connolly, Mick Collins, Bernadette Devlin McAlisky, John Hume, Mary Robinson, Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness


9 Mar 2009

Purcell - pay for your own Labour leadership bid

When I did history at school, I read about politics pre the 1832 Reform Act - of landowners, rich folks, the establishment in general, buying the votes of the poor with a few free beers , a week's free rent etc.

Now in 2009 we have it Steven Purcell style. Buy Union internal nomination votes in the Labour Party with this populist mince, then the votes of about a 10th of the population of Glasgow with the £1.30 per hour uprating which, - with Unions working the differentals - will in due course apply to many more than the Glasgow City Council workers on the minimum wage

And I thought the unions were against regionally variable minimum wage rates?

Taking the piss Steven, the piss out of the low paid who don't work for your cooncil, but will help fund this through higher taxes, higher charges or poorer sevices. The ex-Woolies workers now on the dole. The Argos shop workers, the Scottish Enterprise office cleaners, the pub and club doormen etc etc. They will never get a sniff of of your money, just feel agrieved. Rightly agrieved.

Taking the piss out of folk in general that work and live in the real world not your laborite cooncil bubble. The piss out the rest of Scotland that subsidises you corrupt inefficient weegie labour regime.

Takin the piss. Pork barrell politics - head tae Chicago - na, they widna let you in. Obama would run you out of town wi that corrupt ex Govenor of Illinois that tried tae sell his Senate seat.

And these 1832 landowners ? - they at least paid for their corrupt system oot their own pockets

This superfically "progressive" gesture is little more than a state funded "Purcell for Labour leader/ giezza seat" stunt. A unilateral uprating of thr cooncil minimum wage ( and every other glasgow cooncil rate in time) for aboot the cheapest place in Britain to live; The most subsidised city in Europe - but we are now also to subsidise a minimum wage rate higher than we are paying our own poor?

So Stevie boy - take a one way trip to Zimbabwe. You'd feel at home there - for a month or two more anyway.

Or take the Tardis back to 1831 - the rich would laugh at you, the poor kick you to death. And these UNISON block votes, the phantom battalions, couldnae help you.


A Scottish Labour Party PPB I thought we'd never see. You dont need to agree with, but this is new ground, significant


8 Mar 2009

Political Thought for the Day - Thought for the Century

"If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole army of commercial and individual institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs. (...) Nationalism without Socialism - without a reorganisation of society on the basis of a broader and more developed form of that common property which underlay the social structure of Ancient Erin - is only national recreancy."

James Connolly, Socialism and Nationalism.
Born The Cowgate Edinburgh, 1868. Died Dublin Castle, 1916. Lives forever


Yesterday the Saints, today the Toffees



7 Mar 2009

Come On Yee Saints!

50 years on
Summon up the spitit of '59
see off the Celts and take us a the way to Hampden

And Celtic - you owe us. 7-0 last week, and remember Love Street 1986 !

( and for Frank McGarvie, Billy Stark and Frank McAvennie to name but three ! )


6 Mar 2009

For The Falkirk Bairns !


Whit, Nae History? - Dinna mess wi the Falkirk Bairns !

From Today's Scotsman

HISTORY is to be dropped from a school's curriculum for two years, after poor results and falling interest in the subject.Pupils at St Mungo's High in Falkirk will not be able to take history at Standard grade next year or Higher the following year.

Professor Tom Devine, a historian, said the move was "scandalous" and St Mungo's experience bucked the national trend. He said: "The evidence from the Scottish Association of Teachers of History, suggests of the three social subjects – modern studies, history and geography – the most popular in growth of pupil numbers and examinations over the past five years, has been history. "Would they ever think about doing this with maths, English or physical education?


Here here, prof Devine

This is most concerning and simply must be reversed, must not be allowed to happen in a large mainstream Scottish comprehensive - a stones throw from the Antonine Wall, the site of the Battle of Falkirk ( 1298, monument to it pictured above), The Forth and Clyde Canal, The Carron Iron Works, The Bonnybridge Riots, and Dennis Canavan, May 1999! And lots more

If you can't interest the bairns of Falkirk in history with this rich tapestry you are teaching it wrong marketing it wrong - you are a bureaucrat no a teacher, Mr McPhee headie at StMungo, or whoever is the Education Convener at Falkirk Council - Go homeward and think again.

Let's not rush to specific judgment - unionist conspiracy, nationalist conspiracy, poor teachers, bad marketing, bad luck, hidden agendas? ( I know how schools work, there's probably a promotion in this for somebody) Let's find out and let's put this right before May 2009 when the pupils will have made their near irreversible subject choices. - but they have no history choice there to make. A disgrace!

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Education, down the road in Linlithgow, whit are you doing? Keith Brown, my MSP for Ochil, right across the Kincardine bridge from Falkirk, and new Schools minister ?- you first job, pall.

How can this happen? What aboot these single outcome agreements you have wi cooncil? Is this the real cost of your populist council tax freeze? Wake up. Intervene. I thought we lived in a democracy, with accountable schools, accountable to our councils, government. our parliament

I know this school, traditionally anyway, one of the best in Scotland, the best in the town. And they are in the process of constructing a brand new building on the current site. The notion that with these resources, they can't offer history at standard or soon higher level is just incomprehensible. You isn’t doing your job Mr McPhee - to innovate, to solve problems, not list them

Sort out or ship out. And the same applies to you history department teachers - if you cannae attract the enough bairns to make one class viable then you ain't up to it. You should have four, be turning folks away!

And Falkirk Council - Labour/Tory controlled, but SNP biggest group and a few indies - just what are you doing?

I worked briefly at that "Community" football stadium you own, and have seen you pour hundred of thousand down the drain year on year, subsiding ineptitude. But you cannse find the resources, the wit, to teach history in one of your town's biggest schools?

"Need to train more history teachers! - there are dozens of them out there looking for work wi dozens more still come this summer. Go out recruit the best of them - visit Jordahill, St Andrews and Moray House now, offer a pay supplement if need be - but you won't, St Mungo is a fine school. great location - right next to Falkirk Grahamston Station - another story to tell your pupils, the area where you school stands, Grahamstoun, named after Sir John de Graham, Wallace's right hand man slain at Falkirk in 1298, buried in your local Kirk by his own men in risk of English retaliation - but they secured an amnesty such was his standing, even amongst the enemy.

Bring these stories and many more back to life, Involve these veteran Polish airman who helped win the Battle of Britain for us , and then settled in the town ; that Chippy owner. Michael Lemetti from Barga who has developed the National Tartan of Italy - his brother Joe's on the cooncil!

Nae teachers? Whit planet you on Falkirk Council? Planet mince, pure mince. It's you lot that needs retraining - or another vocation. In fact, you should personally all be made to enroll in a standard grade history class, se how its done well - you sound like you need it.
Try Wallace High, Stirling! You'll get a warm welcome.


5 Mar 2009

Mick McGahey - The Leader the Miners Deserved

The Miners' Strike started 25 years ago today, 5th March, 1984. Mick McGaghey was the President of the Scottish Area of the NUM, and Vice President of the NUM ( UK)


For the Miners


17 Standing Ovations - but beyond Capitol Hill?

TV ad break for Brown
From Today's Scotsman

"AN INDICATION of the importance that Americans attach to Gordon Brown's speech before a joint session of the US Congress yesterday came when CNN broke off its live coverage – to go to a commercial break.

Mr Brown might have been only the fifth British prime minister to be invited to address Congress, but the cable broadcaster saw no reason not to cut him off in mid-sentence to screen adverts for diet foods and car insurance.

Most of the US media have given Mr Brown's visit fleeting mention – or simply none at all. It is not that Americans don't like the British – rather that this is a country so preoccupied with its banking bail-outs, housing meltdowns and crumbling economy that it has little time left over to consider anyone else.

Mr Brown might have arrived in the US with a message that the president, Barack Obama, needs to start addressing the world's economic woes, but there is little debate in the media or on the streets for the new White House incumbent to look beyond his own front door."

This report is confirmed by my own limited experience: The day before GB's visit, I e-mailed my old friend James Morrison, a senior correspondant for The Washington Times, trying to interest him in a topical Obama - Brown - Burns link. He e-mailed me back confessing he was unaware Brown was even coming over to his city. "Typical insular American?" Well James is a main man in the Washington DC Tartan Day Committee, someone who has volunrtarily done as much to put Scotland bacl on the US map than anyone - a mover and a shaker by any definition.

But unmoved by the King of Kirkcaldy.
James did write a little though - read about him and his brief take on oor Gord here
A friend of Scotland , for sure


3 Mar 2009

New Labour Posters Unveiled for this Week's Party Conference in Dundee


Poster 2


Poster 3


New Tory Poster Unveiled for this Week's Party Conference in Dundee


2 Mar 2009

Welcome to Free Scotland - Wee Free Scotland !

Will Fyffe had these interfering hypocritical overpaid middle class ( usually proddy) lawyers sussed 80 years ago.

We'll give up the cheap booze when you lot give up the free booze - the stuff we pay for!


1 Mar 2009

30 Years Ago Today


March 1st, and a happy St David’s Day to Taffs the world over

But this day will always have sad memories for me – the day Scotland bottled it in the first devolution referendum of 1st March, 1979, exactly 30 years ago today.

True, we “won” and were victims of the notorious 40%, rule. But we knew of that rule well in advance and should have been able to overcome it, even if it was essentially undemocratic.
But here are the facts in an otherwise free vote:

Yes 51.6%
No 48.5%.
Turnout 64%

So this was poor, we bottled it, messed up.

The lessons? Take nothing for granted - the YES campaign started with a 20 point lead. And always try to work together to achieve common goals.

As a 19 year old Labour Party member I still recall my own revulsion at being forced to hand out “Labour Says YES” leaflets, with big photos of failing Welshman and then UK Prime Minister Jim Callaghan on it. “How stupid” I though – “branding us in with a failure, pissing off everyone but the most loyal of Labour voters”. But as the then General Secretary of the Labour Party in Scotland Helen Liddell ( later Bob Maxwell’s bagman, , now the UK High Commissioner in Australia) infamously said, “It not enough just to win. The Scottish Assembly has to be seen as Labour’s achievement, Labour’s Assembly

Wrong, Helen. It had to be seen as Scotland’s assembly to have any chance of success, hard enough given it very limited powers it was to have, powers that make our current devolved Parliament look like the US Senate.

The SNP , the Scottish Liberal Party (in the days when it supported referenda, Tavish), and lest we forget the tiny but immaculate Scottish Communist Party (the late and great Mick McGahey to the fore), together with the Scottish TUC , and fab folks like John Pollock, oor ain Margo and many others, did their best. But it was just not enough against the brewers, the fag manufacturers, the Tories; and lots of people who sensed the whole thing was just one big con, a half baked sop, to shore up Labour ailing vote at the dog end of a failed regime. Here I have Robin Cook in mind specifically, a great man who paid a price for his disloyalty in leading a Labour Vote NO campaign, alongside the equally honourable Tam Dalyell. Brian Wilson? - well there were exceptions.

But my hero was on the right side – Scotland’s side. Jim Boyack, late father of current Edinburgh Central MSP Sarah Boyack. Jim, a Labour Party member, was always an all-party man, his commitment to a broad consensual approach for sure depriving him of a political career in which he would have done well. But how right he was, as subsequent events would show, going on to co-found The Campaign for a Scottish Assembly on 1st March 1980, an organisation that morphed into the Campaign for a Scottish Parliament a decade later. The CSP was instrumental in establishing the Scottish Constitutional Convention which delivered the goods - on 11th September 1997. 9/11 – a great day for Scotland, in 1297 and 1997. Just too neat to be a pure coincidence. And my favourite number is 7

Back to 1st March 1979, or to be more precise 2nd March 1979, the morning the results came in and the grim reality of failure hit home. I watched this from the Glasgow University Men’s Union extension bar, not the Union smoking room where I normally would have. It was just too much for me to watch it surrounded by all these gloating Tories and understandably angry nats, let down by Labour, if not by me. I watched instead with a girl called Roisin Donnelly, who I had the hots for. Her gender alone excluded her for the Union Smoking room, her name not a helping either. ( this was 1979 in Scotland , not that long ago, and in a student union!….look how far we have travelled!)

But who would leave his men only smoking room comfort zone to come find me? None other than committed Tory, and NO voter, Fred (Sir Fred) Goodwin, ( see below to explain why) No gloating from Fred though – he came to consol me. “Come play some pinball” he suggested. I was keen, but as my would be bird could not join us in the all male union basement, Fred stayed in the mixed sex ( shock horror) extension and watched the last rites with us.

I forget the precise details, but I remember the massive NO vote in Edinburgh did us in, and the less than overwhelming YES vote from the Western Isles which confirmed that the 40% barrier could not be breached

Never again” said Fred, “Next time” said I. Rosin said “maybe... and do you want another coffee”. And gave me that date, I think out of sympathy. But she was good!

And there was a next time. And always will be.


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