Thursday, 15 December 2016

The God Parallel

Not that this post is about him, but it's such a toe-curler it had to be included -


What is the real problem with the Nationalist upsurge in Scotland? There are some who genuinely believe that it has kicked politics into life in Scotland, brought involvement and engagement. It's certainly brought involvement and engagement, but in politics? What we really need to talk about? I would say exactly the opposite - that it's smothered and obscured the real issues.

Everywhere across the developed world there is a growing problem - simply it's the impact of globalisation; on our productive capacity, which impacts our revenues, which impacts our ability to properly fund our welfare system. Hence the crisis in social democracy and the rise of extremism of left and right.

Now, this challenge is the number one issue everywhere except in one place. In our sad homeland, we don't need to worry about it! Because it's all Westminster's fault. We need look no further. We just need to agitate against Westminster. 

Hence the God parallel - intelligent people may wish to attempt to answer the question as to how the universe began. With scientific endeavour, we can look at sub atomic particles, at the very fabric of space and time.  But is we posit a God, we need look no further. Just worship God.

And the question as to where God came from - *blank looks* It's rather like saying once we have independence how do we address the impact of globalisation? Sorry, we don't do that sort of thing - this is Scotland. Indyref2 is what we discuss.




#globalthinker

Well, congratulations indeed to MS Sturgeon for getting on a list of the leading global thinkers of 2016 in "respected" global affairs magazine Foreign Policy.  Apparently this was in recognition for 'weathering Brexit.' I'm weathering it myself, though I modestly won't expect a gong.


However, I strongly disagree. This woman is not in any way a global thinker. She's someone who joined a nationalist party at 16 to bang on and on about her nationalist cause and there she's sat. She hated Westminster when it was run by Tories, when it was run by Labour, and when it was run by an alliance of Lib Dems and Tories. Her 'global thinking' goes no further than Carlisle. #parochialthinker

Sunday, 16 October 2016

That Norwegian Oil Fund

To Noroway! to Noroway!
to Noroway oer the faem!
this blog is a visual stunner
OK, that's enough of that.

I'm talking about the Norwegian State Oil Fund - a marvellous marvellous thing apparently, whereas us feckless Brits have just spent the lot. On booze and fags, probably.
Well, let's just have the tiniest bit of democratic scrutiny. We start getting oil rich in the 70s. We'd already had a balance of payment crisis in the 60s. Our infrastructure needs investment. Our public service demands are growing and growing - we want to build new universities; there are demands to dual the A74.
So as an elected politician you have a choice - do these things or else set up a wealth fund. That's right, put your money into foreign equities, like Nestle and Micrsosoft - as Norway has done. You money effectively invested abroad, instead of in your own country. Sure, in good years you'll get a dividend.
Of course poor old Norway had no choice - it had to invest abroad - it only has 5m people and too much money. It's like Qatar - reduced to buying up prime real estate in London.
  

Labour's Terminal Crisis



Well, that's the title of a piece by Kerevan in the National on 26th September. And I think it's deserving of a bit of scrutiny as Kerevan is no fool. One could quibble with the title of course as Labour are now the largest political party in Europe, but few could argue that the additional text - "crisis is shared by social democratic parties across Europe" was inaccurate.

Kerevan nails it (no marks for orginality but it's bang on) -
The central cause of this international eclipse of traditional reformist parliamentary movements lies in global economic change – and the failure of mainstream social democracy to adjust. In the last quarter century, manufacturing jobs shifted to Asia while the dizzying rise of financial capitalism in Europe and America created a need for hordes of well-educated service workers. As a result, the industrial working class base of the traditional mass social democratic parties was destroyed.
What is astonishing about the rest of the article is how quickly it runs into sand. It goes absolutely nowhere. Rather, he just want to delight in the 'demise' of Labour (a bitterness somewhere in that psyche?).

He states that a new progressive voting alliance could have been sought by the traditional social democratic left ....   and bingo....  just such a movement was created very successfully in Scotland, by the SNP.

Well no one is going to argue that the SNP aren't a successful voting alliance. An alliance of people who want to do something but they're not sure what. Once George has marched at the head of the flag waving gang to the top of the hill, what's going to happen?

Here's a clue - Blair and Brown’s Faustian pact with the bankers and neoliberalism has led to electoral doom – a fate shared by most Western mainstream social democrats. Now the global neoliberal model is on life-support, held together only temporarily by quantitative easing.

OK, no more Faustian pact! The SNP are a Socialist Party. Real Socialism. State control. Funny that they keep that quiet. I think I'd like to hear more of this programme. Should I submit a FOI request?
   

Brexit and IndyRef

Yep, the ruminations keep coming. I'm driven to put them down here. Just for me. I'm worth it, after all. There's another 6bn+ people out there. I reckon that most will never read my blog. Sob.

Areas in favour of Independence from the UK and Independence from the EU? Any similarities worth calling out?

On Brexit, the Guardian says  -
Comparing the results to key demographic characteristics of the local authority areas, some patterns emerge more clearly than others. The best predictor of a vote for remain is the proportion of residents who have a degree. In many cases where there are outliers to a trend, the exceptions are in Scotland.


Better viewed large
 How about on Indyref?
According to Ipsos MORI (from whose last two polls the relevant information is uniquely available), no less than 65% of those living in one of the 20% most deprived neighbourhoods in Scotland voted Yes, compared with just 36% of those in the one-fifth most affluent. 
So, no surprise really, the most prosperous and best educated (yes indeed, they tend to go together) areas voted for the status quo in both referendums (OK, referenda). The most obvious case is Edinburgh (my home town) - prosperous, educated and strongly pro-UK and pro-EU.

However,  the Guardian calls out that Scotland didn't vote along those lines in the EU Ref. Even poor areas voted for remain. Either Scots are indeed more pro-EU or they followed the Nationalist party line.

And at that point, I'll need to leave it hanging. I just remember that when football troubles kicked off big style in the 80s in England (and we hadn't exactly been angels up here) that our stirring national consciousness drove us to become the best fans in the world. Just saying, as they say.  


GERS 2016!

What it says

Time to tap out a few thoughts.
"Official Scottish government statistics showed the country spent £14.8bn more than it raised in taxes in 2015/16, including a share of North Sea revenue.
That figure represented a 9.5% share of GDP, the report said - more than double the 4% figure for the UK as a whole."

OK, this clearly isn't good news in anyone's book. Our economy simply isn't generating anything like enough money to pay for its essential outgoings. Why Scotland is worse than the overall UK isn't hard to work out - it's a small country with a disproportionately huge area of multiple deprivation (the old industrial areas in west central Scotland) whereas overall in the UK those areas (I'll include Tyneside, Merseyside and South Wales) are of far lesser significance.

So that's a challenge to the independence project, surely? We won't be able to pay our old folks pensions? Fund our NHS? After all, we're on our own 18 months after the referendum.
But no ... not a bit of it! 

Rather than address this seriously, it seems that to many independence supporters, the only way forward is to rubbish GERS. (Obviously if they were flawed the Scottish Govt's Chief Statistician would fairly be getting hauled over the coals by Swinney et al. But he's not. And they're not.)

So we have nonsense about whisky export duty, exports though English ports, HS2 and crossrail, and then of course you can throw in Trident (that's right 7% of 7% of the overall budget), there are oilfields apparently somewhere that nobody knows.. blah blah..

But of course all these are indeed nonsense (the finest rebuttals found here) and as we've previously noted, I doubt Swinney would be quiet if there was obvious claptrap therein. So the true zoomer has to have a backstop. Step forward... Ian Lang MP (remember him? I do!). He set this government spending statistical stuff up when he was the Scottish Secretary. He was a Tory!  He only set it up to make us look bad, the bastard. OK, it may be true, but that's neither here nor there....

Wings fingers Lang






Monday, 25 July 2016

That Apology in Full

From the Nationalist Scots Bigot - he apologises 'IF' his comment caused offense (sic). Who could possibly be offended by being called stupid? The one million plus Scots who voted leave may be offended by being called English AND stupid, maybe?


He's just a daft jock.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Despicable

This must surely be one of the most gut turning shots I've ever seen. Look at this wretch, Angus Roberston SNP MP posing with these poor women for his own self aggrandisement.

Smile please, but not too much - remember you're standing in solidarity no doubt, with the widows of Srebrenica. But.. don't we remember Salmond lambasting the NATO action on Kosovo to protect the civilian population from the same Serb Nationalists? Unpardonable folly, wasn't it?

It's like all the so-great Irish Nationalists condemning the British and their flag, 'the butchers apron'. Well just remember fellahs, when the British went in to liberate Dachau, you were back home doing precisely fuck all. And that's exactly what an independent Scotland could do to protect civilians from harm anywhere. Fuck all.

Apologies, I've got a bit cross.


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Whither Labour?

Poor old Jezza; not much loved by the PLP. But poor old Labour too, to have got itself into this situation where it is held hostage by hundreds of thousands of bampots at large who have just signed up for three quid to rant their angry politics.
In a way, there's a lot to be angry about, but I fear that this particular strain of anger is ill-focussed, ill-defined and infused with conspiracy and paranoia. It wasn't like that back in my day - then we had real discussions about the march to socialism. Actually that's nonsense: there was always a strong whiff of 'sell out' to be hurled at any compromise.
But we learned; we learned to create a centre left majority. We brought in devolved government, the national minimum wage, working families tax credits.. I really could go on. But I'll stop there as the point is we're not a socialist debating society. If you join Labour, you join Labour to make a difference to people's lives. And that means winning power for, yes, the centre left. Corbyn is ineffectual and will never do that.
The British people aren't going to elect as leader someone who hasn't as much as run a bath, who consorts with the IRA and Hammas, and has as much charisma as a damp cloth. He's a hopeless old deluded clown. And yes, that's a bit personal.





Scotland the Brave


The tedious outpourings of the Nats continues though the world moves on.


And their cheer leaders elsewhere pick up the message and transmit it on. In all its delightful simplicity.


Another pat on the back for us. We're not English! English are Tories. Xenophobes. We're the opposite. We love the EU. And immigrants are welcome here (yes indeed, everyone is welcome here, we've a long history of being open and welcoming....*).
Ho hum, indeed.

Before we get too carried away with the love for ourselves, on this, the very inclusive *12th of July, a bit of a reality check may be in order.
  • Almost 50% of people in Moray voted leave. Not an English area. In fact, these days, very much in the SNP heartlands.
  • The area with the largest Remain vote was Edinburgh, the same place that was strongly No in the Independence referendum 
  • And yeah yeah, it wasn't just London/Scotland/Northern Ireland. Liverpool had a 58% vote in favour of remaining. Or are Liverpool and other cities too insignificant?
  • Here's the walloper: the politically engaged "independence city" of Glasgow: 44% of the electorate (that's probably half the adult population) didn't bother to turn out; couldn't bloody care one way of the other. I know, that'll be Labour's fault too.





Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The EU is calling

And there is much serious thinking to be done in the wake of the regrettable vote to leave the EU. For the moment I'm going to park this long comment that was made to a piece by Alex Massie. Alex's piece,  "Is Brexit the beginning of the End of Britain?" was reflecting on where the vote leaves Scottish Unionists now and acknowledges the likelihood that independence has moved a step closer. 

His view - "Sturgeon will wait. There is too much uncertainty abroad right now for her to do anything else. Moreover, any future independence prospectus will have to look and sound and feel very different to that offered the Scottish people in 2014. That was a case of whisky and oil, based on economic projections so heroically optimistic they were delusional. Next time will be different.
Next time the offer will have to be realistic. That means acknowledging, owning, some hard truths. Fantastical twenty year forecasts of permanent economic growth, annual increases in productivity, and high levels of immigration will not do. Independence, if it happens, will be hard. Very hard. But so is reality, as we have discovered in recent days."


And here was the response, which is well enough argued. We know enough from referendums to know that crude sentiment trumps everything, but those of us of a more serious frame of mind (indeed, a rational enlightened Scottish frame of mind) owe it to themselves to consider these points.
If the Scots believe their future is best served outside the UK then that's regrettable (I'm a unionist), but it is not the job of the English or Welsh to vote based on what they think will least upset Scottish voters and it is unreasonable and self-centred to expect them to. I won't even begin to talk about the democratic deficit in the UK brought about by Scottish MPs voting on matters that only affect England. The English have shown remarkable patience and flexibility to keep Scotland in the UK but it seems it is never enough.
A few facts to remind you of Alex. Cameron committed to an in or out referendum on our membership of the European Union in 2013. The polls consistently showed that there was a realistic chance the UK would vote to leave the EU. In 2014, after the commitment to an EU referendum was made, Scotland held its independence referendum, with the SNP promising to both Scots and the rest of the UK that this was a 'once in a generation, possibly once in a lifetime' event. Scotland voted comfortably to stay in the UK despite knowing an EU referendum was a realistic possibility. You seem remarkably relaxed about the astonishing level of deception it would represent to even hold a 2nd independence referendum anytime soon but hey ho.
I'm not sure you quite appreciate the complications and hurdles that face Scotland before it could leave the UK and re-join the EU. Obviously, Scotland would actually have to become an independent country. That's the easy bit. There seems to be a fantasy idea doing the rounds that Scotland could somehow glide seamlessly from the UK into the welcoming arms of the EU. This is nonsense. An independent Scotland would need to go through a long and painstaking accession process. While it may be tempting to believe that a bitter and jilted EU would allow Scotland to waltz straight in so as to punish the rest of the UK, the reality is rather different.
Firstly, the EU has rather a lot on its hands right now, not least trying to ensure its very survival and manage the members it already has.
Secondly, all 27 member states would have to approve Scotland's entry into the EU. The likes of Croatia, which had to go through a ten-year process, would not be likely to approve of Scotland's immediate accession.
Thirdly, the UK still has allies in Europe. There are many countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, that rely on a strong United Kingdom in NATO. They know the breakup of the United Kingdom would greatly diminish our NATO commitments and will therefore not be keen to make an independent Scotland seem an attractive proposition and will likely stand in the way of any EU membership.
Fourthly, Spain isn't particularly keen on accepting new members that have seceded from other members given its own problems in trying to keep itself intact.
Fifth, although Scotland could be a successful independent country in the long term, in the short term it would be an economic basket case. The economic case didn't add up last time, the currency question was never resolved and the fact that the bloated Scottish state would need to drastically downsize, with all the pain that will entail still remains. Add into the mix the collapse in the oil price and the decimated oil industry and it doesn't look pretty. It's highly doubtful, therefore, that Scotland would meet the economic criteria required to join the EU in the short to medium term. The EU has enough economic basket cases to fund without adding another.
If Scotland ever did join the EU, you would also be joining the Eurozone, and the common market and Schengen, necessitating a border with the rest of the UK. You would voluntarily cut yourself off from by far your biggest trading partner in order to entertain the slim possibility that in many years hence you could join an enormously flawed, democratically unaccountable, failing superstate? It would be an irrational move that would cause the rest of the UK and the world considerable harm, and Scotland enormous harm. And for what? To prove a point? To show the English how upset you are with them for not voting the way you wanted them to? Perhaps your friends are not so different from the average SNP member. Happy to throw the Union to the fire and commit an enormous act of self-harm simply to prove a point. With 'Unionists' like that, who needs Nats?
A final point. Nicola Sturgeon is, I am sure, aware she has no chance of getting into the EU anytime soon once the UK leaves. What we have witnessed from her since the referendum result is posturing and bluster with little substance. She knows she is ultimately powerless to prevent this. She has so far managed to secure a meeting with Guy Verhofstadt, a bizarre Belgian joke with a longstanding hatred of Britain and no real power. Quite what Ms. Sturgeon is hoping to negotiate from him is anyone's guess. A Belgian waffle? It will be interesting to see what her end game is here, given she will have nothing to offer the Scottish people at the end of this. She should tread carefully.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Juxtaposition

From the Observer - a report by former policy chief Jon Cruddas which says the party is alienating socially conservative voters on issues such as immigration and welfare.



Labour’s major challenge, the report argues, is to find a way to rebuild a coalition of support. It needs to “stop patronising socially conservative Ukip voters and recognise the ways in which Ukip appeals to former Labour voters”, the report says, adding: “Labour is becoming a toxic brand. It is perceived by voters as a party that supports an ‘open door’ approach to immigration, lacks credibility on the economy, and is a ‘soft touch’ on welfare spending.”

Sound common sense but will it get through? Step forward, in the same edition - Gideon Ben-Tovim,  Senior fellow in sociology, University of Liverpool who argues Labour shouldn't respect but challenge 'white working-class xenophobia'. "Culturally and socially we are enriched, not threatened, by their (immigrants) presence – as with previous waves of immigration."
There you go, your superior is telling you.

Of course not everyone is like Gideon, we have traditional leftism as well...Ian Hughes,
Bridgend, writes...  Labour has lost its traditional working-class voters because of a loss of trust ....and forgetting practical ideas to satisfy working-class aspirations, such as the repeal of anti trade union legislation...
Another bloody doorstep winner there. 


 


Monday, 16 May 2016

State control of the Media

In view of the debate happening around the future of the BBC I thought I'd post this little gem. It's been posted by Christine McIntyre on the blipfoto page of one Mike Russell MSP.


Now look, I know this is only one stupid SNPer, albeit one who is the mother-in-law of a new SNP MSP and one who preaches indy wherever she goes in her capacity of teaching and examining Gaelic singing.
However, "Please get control of state broadcasting" (interesting to note that the STV were no better - get control them them too, presumably, the bastards) is a pretty good example of the nationalist mindset. How lovely - public broadcasting under the executive's control. There's a great vision of a future Scotland, is it not?
And if not... your own political channel... surely that would be a good idea. Like 'The National' newspaper.

Perhaps Christine should consider for a moment the words of Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian on Friday 13th May....

the rise of ..... in the US, cable TV channels and radio stations defined by political hue, means voters can easily get the entirety of their information from sources tailored to reflect their own views back to them.
 That, in turn, makes them ever more unwilling to accept contradictory facts. The editor of the Washington Post Marty Baron, addressed this in a speech last week noting how easy it has become to wave aside discomforting facts as the work of the hated “mainstream” media, pushing its secret agenda. “What has taken hold is an alternate reality, a virtual reality, where lies are accepted as truth and where conspiracy theories take root in the fertile soil of falsehoods.”
......In the US, that’s become a pressing question. In Britain, we have not yet fallen as far. That’s partly because we still have one forum which cannot so easily be dismissed as peddling a partisan agenda, though its critics, right and left, never cease trying. I’m speaking of the BBC. For all its flaws, it has retained the status once enjoyed by the US networks, broadly trusted to play umpire between competing claims on the truth – or at least to try.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Labour Dumbing Down

Just over a short year ago, I sat at a well attended Labour Party meeting of all members in Edinburgh. Well attended as Alistair had announced he was standing down and was coming along to give a valedictory speech, and equally interestingly, two Edinburgh Uni academics, were there to discuss carbon and future technologies - Dr Vivian Scott speaking about carbon capture, and Dr Stuart Gilfillan discussing shale gas and coalbed methane. Yes, fracking to you and me.

Alistair Darling MP
Afterwards I wrote a summary to a friend which I'll reprint verbatim:
It does seem that gas is going to be hugely important as we phase out coal. At the moment we import gas from Qatar and Norway - so he rattled through shale technology. He made it clear he wasn't making any personal recommendations - he just wanted to share the evidence to date. Having said that, I got the strong impression that he thinks we should be carrying out test drilling to assess the deposits. I guess the main concerns we have are around issues like seismic activity and ground water contamination and as presented, these didn't seem to be issues of any great concern. I remain unconvinced on that but would like to know more.
OK, fast forward a year, and Labour is now adopting a "no to fracking, not now, not ever" policy. It's clearly a stupid position. No smart politician ever rules anything out, and to do that with something as essential as future energy is, well, the opposite of smart. Dumb.

And of course it's being driven by this perceived tactical need to differentiate ourselves from the bloody Nats. The Nats who believe that every contest is Unionist v Nationalist and are happy to make it so. Their game. The worst outcome for Scotland. We're Social Democrats. We're OK with pooling and sharing sovereignty whether than is within Scotland, the UK or the EU. And we adopt policies based on vision and evidence. Pragmatic and rational. Isn't that what Scottish Labour is at core? Or should be. Let's stand firm on that, at least.  



Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Disrespect!!!

Are the SNP losing the plot? Is this really what people care about (people outside the cult, that is).

"With speculation mounting that No 10 has pencilled in Thursday 23 June as a favourite contender for the referendum date, the Scottish first minister said this would be “disrespectful” to her country because it meant campaigning would cut across the Scottish elections"


And now they're upping the anti - they've got together with their pals from Wales and NI to draft a letter!

Strange that the largest electorate voting in May are actually in London. And they seem to think they can manage two votes within six weeks of each other! Well, we can't.
I know the Scottish council elections and Holyrood elections were held on the same day in 2007, but that was then. This is now. Whine! Grievance! Whine! Westminster bastards! Corbyn! Tory bastard.

Yooorope

Cameron had “promised nothing less than a fundamental renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with Europe."

Ahem.




Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Trident

The major issue of debate! Strange then that a very straightforward point escapes so many commentators.
The cost (which we'll not get into debating) comes out of the defence budget. Now, all our major parties are committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence, as it's a NATO edict. Clearly, if we didn't spend the money on Trident we could spend it on helicopters or ships, but what cancelling Trident won't do is free up a single penny for hospitals or schools. Unless you renege on that NATO commitment of course.

And here's another point, seeing you started it. Y'see, proponents are understandably as keen to downplay the cost (£31Bn) as opponents are to inflate it (£160Bn). Here's a question for Nicola who likes the convenient round £100Bn pricetag - if it was £100,000, would you drop your objection? No she wouldn't. It's not actually about the money.
It's morality.
Strange then that we'll happily go along with the NATO first strike strategy and joint exercises with nuclear armed forces.
Maybe it's not about morality either. Perhaps it's just the same old playing to the gallery for votes. Still, that's democracy.

 

The Curse of Thatcher

The curse being that we can never get to the nitty gritty; instead we all must agree she was an awful woman. She destroyed our industries, didn't she?

Typical is this bozo-ish twaddle from the SNP's Martin Hannan in the Evening News -
The woman had almost single-handedly destroyed much of Scotland’s heavy manufacturing industries, not to mention the Scottish coal industry, with her economic policies that made efficiency her God....
Instead of the state investing in renewing those heavy manufacturing industries, as happened in so many other countries, the communities .... were devastated by government inaction.
Presumably her motive was badness - we should throw that in too. There were no problems before she arrived. These were good profitable industries, or else they just needed a teeny bit of investment. Right? Or is there another story here? 
Something which is actually that investment was going elsewhere - to places where labour was flexible and costs low. So you can invest all you want, but you're not going to make t-shirts cheaper than Bangladeshis can, with their 12 hour days, slums and stinking factories. Nor steel. It's a problem. Actually, it's a bit of a tough one.
Maggie Maggie Maggie!!! Out Out Out!!!!