Tag Archives: UK

I have a "Special Deal"

The Perma-Tory hell of Brexit

Our beloved leader has cast aside his bestialist ways and got us a super deal which gives us “special status” within the EU. Not that the deal amounts to much, it just tinkers around the edges of immigration policy and benefits. But the PM’s biggest achievement is the exemption of the City of London from any EU regulation. How’s that for light touch regulation? Paul Double, the City of London Remembrancer, will be pleased.

Now we are expected to decide whether we want to stay in the EU in a referendum which is to be held on the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the timing is against the wishes of all of the devolved parliaments and assemblies since the referendum campaign will overshadow the May elections. The referendum will continue to dominate the agenda until then and it will provide a free platform to UKIP which may see their first MSPs at Holyrood.

This referendum is all about the tories and the advance of UKIP who have outflanked them on the right. The tories have always been split on the EU, some tories split from the main party to form UKIP. Tory party grandees fund UKIP and it is they who are driving the anti-EU agenda.

Before we get lost in the EU referendum let’s remember that UKIP want to abolish the Barnett Formula which they conceded in their 2015 manifesto, “…will result in substantial reductions in funding for Scotland.” But hey, that’s OK because we will have some super new powers of our own to compensate for the shortfall. This places UKIP up there with the red tories who want us to raise income taxes in order to mitigate for tory cuts. But they are purple tories after all.

So what would the UK be like if the result of the referendum is to leave?

Well the first thing to go would be those pesky Human Rights that are forced on us from the EU. That would be the end of freedom of speech, we wouldn’t be able to complain about being tortured or having our privacy invaded. The tories would be able to do as they please once the shackles of the European Court of Human Rights are thrown off. We would have no right to life, no right to freedom, no right to property and definitely no right to protest. Goodness no, that would never do.

The next thing to go would be those irritating employment laws, you know the ones that protect the employees from the worst excesses of the employers? So out would go union laws, we won’t be having any of those. Then the tories will make it even easier to get rid of people and as for holiday entitlement, ha ha ha. Pay would be driven down, unless you are a boss of course, and those working conditions would be, how should I put it, improved.

Once you have been booted out of your job and you become “no longer economically active” well, what use are you? You may think that all those National Insurance contributions counted for something but you were wrong. There will be Universal Credit if they ever get the computer system sorted out, but IDS will make it impossible for you to claim it. If you are unable to work through sickness or disability IDS will make you jump through all manner of hoops before declaring you fit to work, so you get nothing. The new benefits regime will be called Work for Freedom.

Did we mention pensions yet? The tories will reduce the state pension but not too much, they do rely on the silver vote after all so it will be nice and subtle. Those other benefits like winter fuel allowance and free TV licences will all have to go, after all we need to pull together now that there’s a war on, spirit of the blitz and all. Didn’t we mention the war? We’ll get to that. The bus passes will have to go, but then pensioners are not economically active so why do they need to get around? As for those company and private pensions, all that lovely cash sitting around is just too tempting to resist, Gideon already has his greedy eyes on that honeypot. After all there is a war to pay for.

Oh yes, the war. Well it turns out that nuclear weapons are no deterrent after all. The £167 billion which was funnelled into arms companies didn’t prevent the war. Well it wouldn’t would it, because war is so much more profitable than peace. If there’s something a tory loves it’s money and cushy non executive directorships, both of which can be had by the bucket load if only the house votes for war.

We’ll need someone to do the dirty work, boots on the ground so to speak. There weren’t many volunteers so the tories re-introduced conscription. Now all our youth must serve in the armed forces, but only working class youth of course. There are lots of exemptions so if you have enough cash your son/daughter will not have to join the slaughter discipline enhancing institutions of the armed forces. Before you know it they will be off to the sand pit with sub-standard kit, made by the lowest bidder, to fight in a perpetual war which cannot be won.

Back home in Blighty there will be fear, lashings of it, all over the MSM. We need to have fear to keep the people in their place you see. There will not be any facts, good lord no. We can’t have the plebs making informed decisions can we? That would never do. The media will do the government’s bidding because they are one and the same. All part of the same establishment because that is what tories stand for: the few at the expense of the many.

Liar Carmichael

The liar’s reward

The Orkney 4 are safe in their burrows tonight after judges ruled that Alistair Carmichael, the lying Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, could not extract punitive damages from them for having the temerity to challenge his election. He will now have to stump up the cash himself. But let’s not fool ourselves here, the only winners in this case are the lawyers who stand to make somewhere around £300000! How can it be that such a phenomenal sum of money is required to bring our elected representatives to account?

The liar’s fundraiser currently stands at £14595, there’s been a wee flush of activity since the decision of the judges. It’s interesting to have a look at the donors, you get a view into the mind of the yoon. So let’s take a wee peek shall we?

Eric Holford

Eric Holford

First up is Eric who obviously got caught up in the media propaganda, but the lying Liberal Democrat admitted that the document was false back in May 2015. He must have missed that nugget of information. Notice how he blames the SNP for this “attack.” He just doesn’t understand that lying to the electorate is wrong! This is a theme which is repeated throughout the fundraiser. Take Robert Moss for instance:

Robert Moss

Robert Moss

Why is it accepted that politicians lie? Can we not aspire to something more than having self-serving liars representing us? The whole purpose of the Representation of the People Act was to allow politicians to be held to account. Unfortunately it seems to be flawed as it gave the liar Carmichael enough wriggle room to keep his job. The yoonery continues with Robbie:

Robbie Thomson

Robbie Thomson

This is a common thread too, the petitioners are scum for wanting to hold their MP to account apparently. Why does he think that? I think that the media has a lot to answer for in this regard, they went into full propaganda mode to protect their man. All opponents of the union are denigrated, we get a good othering at every turn. Casting the Orkney 4 as scum is a continuation of this line of attack. They’ll be calling us untermensch next.

Next up we have Jill Stephenson, aka History Woman, one of the most extreme yoons there is:

History Woman 1st donation

History Woman 1st donation

History Woman 2nd donation

History Woman 2nd donation

According to History Woman it is all the fault of the Scottish judicial system, even though this is an Act of the UK parliament. The judges decided that he did have a case to answer and because the verdict was divided between the Orkney 4 and the lying Liberal Democrat that no costs should be awarded. Jill clearly doesn’t see that if Carmichael had not lied and come clean to the Cabinet enquiry, then none of costs would have been incurred. Mind you Carmichael would probably have lost his seat, and deservedly so. But what of the cost of that enquiry, reportedly £1.4 million? Is Jill happy for us to foot the bill for that? If Carmichael had been an honest man those costs would not have been incurred either. The Tories will probably see that as a small price to pay in order to keep their single remaining Scottish MP safe.

There was also a donation from Sir Malcolm Bruce, Lord of the Gowk Stane, who bunged the liar £50. Who can forget this former MP telling us that all politicians lie, and that really is the core issue of this sorry tale. Why is it acceptable and legal for politicians to lie? Is this just a feature of the Westminster parliament or does this phenomenon pervade the devolved assemblies too?

This case just goes to prove that politicians are above the law, they can lie to us with impunity. The whole system of “democracy” in this land stinks of corruption. It is a system in which politicians, both elected and unelected, syphon vast sums of money off into tax havens as this excellent article by Steve Topple describes. They do as they please while we pay the price, does that sound like a good system of government to you?

Warmongering Tories

Bombs away

So it begins, the UK is now bombing Syria after all the Tories cheered the vote in favour of another illegal misadventure in the Middle East last night. We can expect to have full war rhetoric from the MSM from now until eternity, for there is no end for this war and our Dear Leader has already stated that this war would take “some time“, a nice open ended statement there. We are seeing a continuation of the perpetual war.

This is a war devoid of strategy or a clear objective, we were told that the target was Daesh but just 2 years ago the target was Assad. So which one is it, or is it both? No doubt we will be treated to some carefully vetted footage of bombs exploding, the camera position being 20000ft up. These will show the bomb hitting a nice safe target, with no civilian casualties in view. The mission will be called “successful”. We will not see the collateral damage, we will not see the bombs that go astray, as some bombs inevitably do.

The RAF were launching the first airstrikes against Syrian targets within 57 minutes of the vote, they “successfully” blew up some oil wells which were “successfully” destroyed just over a month ago. Either the first “bombing” wasn’t that successful or Daesh is very good at repairing the damage. Mind you it could be that the first mission did not take place at all, or was it the second one, who’s to know? But the RAF were “successful” which means that there will be huge oil fires burning in Syria and an environmental catastrophe as well. Those are the hallmarks of success in this perpetual war. At least there were no civilian casualties, or so we’re told.

The people of Syria must be thanking their lucky stars that there are even more heavily armed warplanes in their skies tonight keeping them safe. But it is the good old Tories who they really have to thank for all the extra thousands of pounds of high explosive flying overhead. The blue tories, the red tories and the yellow tories trooped off down the “non terrorist sympathiser” lobby and the share price of arms firms soared.

97% of Scotland’s MPs voted against bombing Syria, yet we find ourselves in yet another illegal foreign war. Only two Scottish MPs voted to send in the bombers: Viceroy David Mundell (blue Tory) and former Viceroy (and liar) Alistair Carmichael (yellow Tory). Let us remember these two when the terrorists turn up in our cities seeking revenge. We shall not forget that it was them who brought death and destruction to the people of Syria, and probably us too.

Warmongering Tories

Warmongering Tories

Given previous engagements by Russia and France in Syria, it seems likely that we will see a terrorist attack against the UK within 2 months. This will be used to justify the bombing of Syria. We will be told, “These are the exactly the type of attacks which we are bombing Syria to prevent.” The irony will be astounding. The attackers will be UK citizens. Apparently there have been 7 terrorist conspiracies uncovered in the past 6 months, so we have got to ask: how many arrests were made? How many were convicted? What were they convicted of? What were their sentences?

Then again the story could be untrue, couldn’t it? We are entering a period where the MSM will parrot the government in all things, they will not question the government’s story in any way. Everything that you see and hear about Daesh and the war in Syria should be taken with a very large pinch of salt, for it will most likely be pure propaganda.

I hate salt.

Hellfire Missile

Hi ho! Hi ho! It’s off to war we go.

Our beloved leader, Chairman Cameron, was making the case for bombing Daesh (IS) in Syria today. He tried to persuade parliament that bombing Syria was a good idea 2 years ago, but that time we would have been bombing Syrian government forces. The ones that IS were fighting. So we would have been allies then. Hmm. This time , however, the bogeyman is Daesh so the Syrian government will be our allies. Double hmm.

Comrade Cameron told the house of commons that bombing Daesh “would make us safer.” That’s an interesting assertion that should be challenged. You see France decided that it would be a good idea to start bombing Daesh in Syria and the bombing campaign started on 27th September 2015. Daesh affiliated terrorists killed 130 and injured 368 on 13th November 2015. Russia started bombing Daesh in Syria on 30th September 2015, Daesh affiliated terrorists blew up a Russian passenger jet, killing all 224 persons on board, on 31st October 2015. So the evidence doesn’t really stack up on our Dear Leader’s assertions.

The main problem with bombing Syria is that it is a sovereign state, the only legal way to bomb it is with the agreement of the Syrian government. Something which the UK does not have. But who cares about legality? Tony Blair didn’t and he got away with it, so why should David Cameron? The Syrian government has already asked someone to aid in their fight, Russia. It is conceivable that the Russians would start to enforce the sovereignty of Syria, after all they have the means to do so and the shooting down of a Russian plane by Turkey also gives them a motive. There is a very real danger of the Syrian civil war spiralling into a full blown regional conflict, do we really want to get sucked into that?

The simple fact is that bombing of Syria will not defeat Daesh, if this was not the case then the combined might of Russia, USA, Saudi Arabia and others would have bombed them into oblivion by now. After years of civil war there is nothing left to bomb in Syria. Daesh have adapted to the threat from the skies and they still take territory. The only way to militarily defeat Daesh is to fight them on the ground.

Our Dear Leader has the solution though. He has managed to magic 70000 “moderate” jihadists from the harsh desert sands. They will be trained and armed by British military personnel and then set loose upon the hapless Daesh. But there’s a couple of problems with this. We have already trained and armed the Iraqi army who turned tail at the sight of the black flags and left all of their wonderful western equipment for Daesh to use as it pleased. The USA has already tried this and it was a disaster with most of the trainees selling their equipment to Daesh and others, some of them even went on to fight for Daesh. Another problem is that Russia is bombing the groups which have magically increased in size, does that mean that Russia will be bombing our troops? Then there is the small matter of the EU arms embargo, supplying arms to Syria is illegal, so how is that going to work?

Assuming that we do go bombing in Syria we can rest assured that the weapons that will be used are “precision” weapons. They will dangle under the shiny new drones which are to be bought with the money that the OBR conjured out of thin air in the Autumn Statement. The weapons of choice will be the GBU-12, a 500lb guided bomb, and the AGM 114 Hellfire missile. The GBU 12 has a “casualty radius” of between 200 – 300 ft. 50% of the people caught in this area will perish. The Hellfire missile is a modified anti-tank weapon which is fitted with a fragmentation sleeve around the warhead, it has a “wounding radius” of 65 feet and a “kill radius” of 50 ft. Again, if one goes off near you, it’s going to hurt. There will be innocent victims caught up in these bombs, but they will be called “militants” or “combatants” in order to hide the war crime. Anyone who wants to find out more about the use of drones have a look here.

My final point about the upcoming misadventure into another Middle Eastern war is this, how do we know if we’ve won? Do we have to kill all of Daesh or is it just a set ratio? Is it 90%, would that be a victory? How can we tell when we have reached the desired ratio, will we send Daesh some census papers? How much magic money will be committed to the reconstruction of Syria, because if you blow it up you have to fix it, that is laid down in the Geneva Convention. How long will that take? Did Comrade Cameron mention this or was it overlooked in all the excitement of talking about war?

The whole proposal is a disaster waiting to happen. No one knows what the objective is, Daesh or Assad? No one knows how to win. No one knows how to tell if we’ve won. The risks of sparking a wider conflict are huge and increasing by the day. This is one fight which we should leave the hell alone.

One last word for those who advocate putting “boots on the ground”, get yourself down to the Army careers office. I’m sure they will have some boots and rifle for you to take with you to the sandpit. I wish you luck, you’ll need it.

 

A Princess

Some news you may have missed

The press is busy promoting our beloved Prime Minister’s attempts to deflect attention from his complete lack of ideas over negotiations about the UK’s membership of the EU (apparently he will be publishing his “list of demands” next month which is a bit like his answer to the leader of HM Opposition at PMQ’s which in a nutshell was “we have no idea so you will have to wait and see what Gideon comes up with”).

But if you can be bothered to read the article there’s an interesting paragraph right down at the bottom where you will see that Michael Froman, a US Trade Representative, stated that, “We have no FTA with the UK so they would be subject to the same tariffs – and other trade-related measures – as China, or Brazil or India” if the UK left the EU. Now I may be a little bit cynical here but surely that should be a headline item? Would it have been a headline if it were directed at Scotland outside the UK? I’m sure that it would have made the front page of every newspaper and it would have been the headline on every TV and radio news show. But I’m just a blogger, I should leave these things to the people who know. Mind you, RT saw it as a big enough story to headline it which probably means that it’s propaganda or something.

In some other news, the majority of the European Parliament voted to drop all charges against the American whistleblower Edward Snowden. It was a slim majority mind you (285 for and 281 against) but that’s democracy for you. The MEP’s urged member states to, “drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender,” in a press release.

The press release goes on to say, “Parliament is concerned about “recent laws in some member states that extend surveillance capabilities of intelligence bodies”, including in France, the UK and the Netherlands. It is also worried by revelations of mass surveillance of telecommunications and internet traffic inside the EU by the German foreign intelligence agency BND in cooperation with the US National Security Agency (NSA).” So it would appear that the EU is not too bad an outfit after all. Oddly there is not much coverage of this in our media, but oh, look there’s a princess. There’s absolutely no mention of this story on our beloved, unbiased, BBC. Maybe someone missed it?

A Princess

A Princess

And finally, 343 UK university professors say they will “halt all cooperation with Israeli schools in an effort to draw attention to Israel’s violations of international law.” The action is part of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign which aims to” boycott Israel as part of  non-violent resistance to defend the Palestinian cause.” Surely such a move would be bound to feature in the organs of the UK state? Well they don’t appear on the BBC, although BDS appeared back in July. Look there’s Harry! Is that a potential princess he’s with? Phwoar.

 

 

Scotland 2nd class

EVEL Tories

The tories took a sledge-hammer to the fragile union of nations which we laughingly call the United Kingdom tonight. 312 of them trotted down the lobbies from the subsidised bars of the Palace of Westminster and drove a massive wedge between England and the rest of the UK. For now English MPs are more equal than any other MP.

They have turned the elected MPs of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland into second class statespersons in the mother of all parliaments. They have politicised the neutrality of the Speaker of the House of Commons by making him decide whether a Bill, or parts of a bill, should be deemed as English only. But they  have not bothered to put any procedures in place to aid the decision-making process.

One tory MP, Heather Wheeler, even suggested that the SNP MPs “need to be on their planes back,” to Scotland.  Which just goes to show the contempt that the tories hold for Scotland and our elected representatives.

Heather Wheeler MP

Heather Wheeler MP

So now all of Scotland’s MPs are second class and a massive crack has appeared in the union. All because the tories don’t want to set up an English parliament. But why should they? For they believe that Westminster is their parliament.

Scotland 2nd class

Scotland 2nd class

There will be huge repercussions from this decision. The UK is crumbling before our very eyes and the tories laugh. Except for Fluffy of course, because he’s second class too.

More job opportunities - Better Together

Tata Scottish steel

As expected, Tata Steel announced that it would be mothballing the 2 remaining steel plate mills in Scotland with the sad loss of 270 jobs. Let’s not forget the even bigger blow to Scunthorpe which is set to lose 900 jobs. These job losses bring the total in the UK to around 4500, or 15%, this year and it looks likely that more will go too. This announcement brings the Scottish steel industry to an end.

The reasons cited by Tata Steel for the closures are the strength of the Pound, the cost of energy and the depressed cost of steel caused by China dumping their subsidised steel onto the global market. Let’s take a look at each one of these factors individually.

Strength of the Pound Sterling

The Pound has been appreciating in strength for some time now and it seems to be set to continue. But the pound is not appreciating against the USD, it is mainly appreciating against Asian currencies. The main reason for this increase in the strength of the Pound is:

“UK economic data continues to improve, particularly with respect to consumption, wage growth and core inflation, while foreign inflows remains supportive,” say Standard Chartered. Against this backdrop, it is believed that the BoE is likely to hike interest rates early next year, ahead of what markets currently expect.”

So the UK economy is growing. That’s a good thing, right?

UK GDP growth

UK GDP growth

GINI Inequality index UK

GINI Inequality index UK

Well it would be if the benefits of this growth were shared equally, but as the second chart shows that is not the case. For in the UK it is the rich who benefit the most from growth, the rest of us don’t get a look in.

Income growth at the top http://topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/#Database:

Income growth at the top http://topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/#Database

Of course a strong Pound decreases the costs of imports, which makes us consume more, and gives our wonderful Chancellor of the Exchequer a chance to crow about his achievements. But the reality is that our current account deficit is the worst it’s ever been.

UK current account defecit

UK current account deficit

So that means that inflation is bound to rise. All that free money sloshing around the world due to quantitative easing has to find a home somewhere, and the scent of higher interest rates here in the UK is sucking it in. In short, the prevailing conditions are not going to change any time soon so we can expect more of our manufacturing base to suffer.

Cost of energy

As we already know, Scotland pays the highest prices for electricity in the UK. In fact the further you are away from London and the SE England, the more you will pay. This is because of the transmission rates which are set by the monopoly of National Grid. So it’s no surprise that the steel mills in the North of England and Scotland pay through the nose for electricity. Something which OFGEM has deemed acceptable for years.

Cheap steel from China

Weak demand and over production has left China with a glut of steel. Although the Chinese government has ordered various steel mills to close they continue to operate, often at a loss. But this keeps the jobs in China, for once a steel mill closes it is very difficult to restart it. Which means that the worlds biggest steel producer keeps pumping the stuff out. Ukraine and Russia are also dumping steel onto the market for the same reasons. So three of the top 4 steel producing nations are preserving their production capacity and destroying the rest of the world’s capacity. But that’s OK isn’t it? We can buy steel cheap and so keep costs down?

Steel is a commodity which is strategic by its very nature because it is required if you want to make things like tanks, guns and ships. If a country can lay its hands on the stuff easily it can therefore defend itself easily. But what if the UK has a bit of a tiff with the major steel producing nations, say a small spat over something like Syria? Then they could just say, “No steel for you.” Then where would we be?

Other countries within the EU manage to preserve their steel industries, but here in the UK they are to be sacrificed on the neoliberal altar of the market. Without any strategic vision on the part of our government.

As we would expect our politicians, elected and wannabe, are making hay from these job losses and steel plant closures:

Kezia Dugdale steel tweet

Labour’s Kezia Dugdale steel tweet

Justine steel tweets

Lib Dem’s Justine steel tweets

Unusually, there has been no response from the Conservative and Unionist Party. I wonder why? But it just goes to show that the Unionist parties will use anything as a cosh to try to bash the SNP. Even when the fault lies squarely at the door of No.11 Downing Street.

But I thought that we were Better Together?

More job opportunities - Better Together

More job opportunities – Better Together

The jobs are in China and the powers are in Westminster.

 

 

Ellon hustings 17 April 2015

An evening with Justine, Part 3

On to the next question which is about salmon netting at the Ythan estuary.

Clark is first up and he doesn’t support it. He then goes on to attack land reform calling it class war. Here’s their website for reference. I couldn’t find any reference to land reform on there. Braden is against but he doesn’t seem to know too much about it (to give him his due neither did I until I got handed a flyer on the way in). He magnanimously agreed to support the case against. Justine doesn’t say very much about it, WeeEck says that the people who are netting have a heritable right to do it which is why we need land reform. That was news to me too. Clark hits back in his rebuttal, he makes the point that farmers do what they do so that they can pass on their farms to the next generation, land reform would stop that. WeeEck says that’s rubbish. Some guy cuts this one-off, which I was disappointed about.

I know that land reform worries the farmers around me, they will not rent any land out because the renter will end up with a right to buy the land. That doesn’t seem right to me, it also acts as a block to new entrants to the farming industry, something which it sorely needs. Here’s an interesting fact for you, there is only 3 days food supply in the shops at any one time. Any interruption to the supply and we all starve. The next time you take a drive through the countryside, take a look around you. All that stuff in the fields is our food, and there isn’t enough of it to feed us all. Farmers invest hundreds of thousands of pounds in growing crops, the value of which they cannot know until it’s time to sell it. Very often they sell at a loss and the only reason that they survive is through the subsidies.

Some guy gives us the nest question which is about Donald Trump, his golf course and the offshore wind farm in Aberdeen Bay. This one is a potential banana skin for WeeEck and he’s first up. WeeEck backs any development which creates jobs and he backs the Trump development, he also backs the wind farm (although it is an experimental project not a wind farm apparently) because they both create jobs. Justine agrees with WeeEck (michty) but accuses him of riding roughshod over the local cooncilors by calling it in when he was First Minister. Braden is particularly weak on this one, that’s what happens when you get parachuted in I guess. Clark claims that 70% of the money which is paid to wind farms by way of subsidies goes to foreign companies and tax exiles, although he backs farmers having them. This smacks of hypocrisy to me, tories decrying tax exiles. He also backs centralised strategic planning for wind farms.

Wind turbines are an emotive issue for me, for it is because of them that I ended up in local politics. We used to have a really picturesque view of Glen Ythan, but now it is corrupted by 20 wind turbines which are all different sizes and haphazardly arranged about the place almost always in the most prominent spots. All of these turbines are owned by local farmers. Why are we spoiling our countryside with these ugly machines?

Next up was a question from a young loon who I was very impressed with: how would you connect with the electorate?

Clark is first to go, he tells us all about himself and his family. It seemed like a load of waffle to me. Braden waffles on too, mentions social media and Twitter. But hang on Braden, you blocked me on Twitter, remember? How is that connecting with the electorate? Justine knows the questioner, she goes on to talk about going to community council meetings and surgeries on the weekends when she’s not in London. WeeEck mentions social media and his office in Inverurie.

The final question was about unpaid carers. By this time we had all pretty much had enough and so on to the closing speeches.

Clark goes first since he was last for the opening speeches. He says that the tories are committed to saving the NHS, but he doesn’t say how (privatisation perhaps?). He says that the Gordon constituency is conservative with a small ‘c’ (I don’t know how he works that one out). He harks back to the referendum and asks to be judged on the tories track record (aye we will). There follows an attack on the Lib Dems and Labour, only the tories stand up for the worker apparently. Eh? He then says that this election is a choice between Ed or Dave (that’s a lie right there Clark, there are 5 PPCs standing in Gordon). He gets a wee cheer and sits down again.

Braden tells us that he supports Ed, fancy that. He wants an end to exploitative zero hours contracts, but doesn’t tell us what the definition of exploitative is. He then comes out with the best joke of the night. “I may not drink with Donald Trump (a reference to WeeEck) or own a multi million pound business or…be a Lib Dem.” It was genuinely funny and a great dig at Justine, you could see her ire rising. He gets a wee cheer.

Then Justine is up, she was angling for a supporting role in Ed’s government> Claims that Lib Dems were a moderating influence on the tories (yawn). Invest in health. Aim high and dream big, she then goes on to tell us about her working class roots (which probably means that she is not working class) She gets herself worked up into a frenzy, getting the whip oot again and lashing it all ower like she’s some king of sadistic dominatrix. She takes credit for the Smith Commission (I’m not sure that’s a good idea) and finishes off with a final flourish of the whip, “I will be scary.” I agree. She gets a decent cheer.

WeeEck then gets up and immediately sticks a chib intae Justine ower tuition fees then moves on to austerity and how it is killing this country. He makes the point that all three of the other parties present want to increase spending and increase cuts. He says the SNP want to end austerity and have a moderate increase in spending. He also wants the vow to be honoured and he is the man to do it. I totally agree. He gets the biggest cheer of the night.

In conclusion, I thought Clark was too far up himself. He tried to connect with the common man but at the end of the day he is a tory who is only interested in profit. Braden is like a fish out of water whenever he is beyond tha party dogma, very weak on local issues. WeeEck was exactly as you would expect, rambunctious and a formidable opponent. He knew his stuff, from the geopolitical to the local.

Then there’s Justine. She is the unionists’ great hope to defeat WeeEck. My impression of her is that she is a dominatrix, she flails the whip around and lectures her audience. She spent time defending the indefensible i.e. tuition fees. She wants an end to the bedroom tax, but Malcolm Bruce voted for it! Her hypocrisy knows no bounds. She is also weak on local issues, but then she said that she wanted to go to London from where she can board the gravy train like her predecessor rode for 31 years.

All in all I enjoyed our date Justine, I only hope that we don’t have another one anytime soon.

I love me

The selfishness of unionism

Ever since the first skirmishes of the independence referendum something has been irking me, nibbling away from the inside, anxious to be enunciated. I’ve been mulling it over, trying to express it in words. It was always just a feeling you see, but now that we are in the thick of the general election campaign the time has come.

Nick Robinson (hope he gets well soon) finally managed to shine a light into the gloom of my mind and illuminate the wee moose that had been bugging me for so long. His post-surgery blog (hope you’re better soon Nick (Enough already, Ed)) expresses his own views on how people decide who to vote for and the reasons that he gives are purely selfish. It’s all about me. Not you, not we, never us, just me.

Thinking back to all those Better Together arguments, they were all about money. It was all currency this and pensions that. Banks and businesses moving away and jobs lost. All of those arguments were focused on the individual, hitting the me and placing the question mark after the I. They were all inherently selfish arguments.

For me, the most tantalising argument for independence was the idea of a better society. One where the people were respected for who they were, not one where their future was mortgaged to bail out corrupt banks. There were no illusions in my mind that the transition to independence would be tough, Any divorce is tough, a divorce after a 308 marriage is bound to be especially so. But the short-term pain would be mitigated by the longer term gain. The arguments for independence were mostly focused on the us, the we not the me. The altruistic not the selfish.

The unionists are still thinking of themselves, as witnessed by the lies being peddled by all of the main unionist parties as part of their pitch for our votes in the general election. It’s arguments like “you’ll be worse off under” whoever and “our plans will save you” how much. These arguments are essentially selfish, focused on the individual. None of them give me any hope that any of these parties will bring about any meaningful change in the UK. A vote for any of the main unionist parties is a vote for the status quo, one with blue bells, the other with red whistles and the other with a little yellow ball. You would struggle to get a silver Rizla between any of them.

I’ll leave you with these questions:

  1. What kind of UK would you like to see?
  2. Which party is most likely to deliver that vision?

The hammer and the anvil. US to attack IS from Turkey

While the whole world was focused on the tragic events in France, a secret decision could be taken by Turkey to allow 62000 US troops to launch an attack from Turkish territory into northern Iraq. The troops could start arriving in Turkey as soon as Monday. The plan is for these troops to attack IS across Iraq’s northern border with Turkey and hammer them onto the anvil that is the Iraqi armed forces. In the last few days IS has been forced onto the defensive by the US coalition’s airstrikes, any movement by the fundamental Islamists is met by a high explosive response. With reduced mobility the guerrilla forces of IS have been forced to hold ground, they then become targets (if they can be identified). This should make it possible to defeat them on the ground.

There are a couple of potential problems that I can see with this operation:

  1. A brittle anvil. The US forces will be pushing IS into the maws of the Iraqi army which has proven itself easy to crumble under pressure. If this were to happen then Baghdad would be at risk of falling. The US and UK have troops in these areas providing “training” to the Iraqi army which should help to stiffen their spine. Don’t be surprised if extra troops are required in these areas.
  2. An exposed flank. The US forces will have their right flank exposed to IS, nothing short of a continuous defensive line could prevent IS from infiltrating the flank and causing mischief in the US forces’ rear.
  3. Where’s the border? There are no nice lines on the ground delineating the Iraq/Syria border, there is just desert. Any incursion into Syria would be seen as an act of war against another sovereign state which could have some serious consequences.

I wish the operation luck.

IS in Iraq & Syria

IS in Iraq & Syria