Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Question the 'No' camp can't answer

70% of Scots want fiscal autonomy and a new federal Union. (MORI poll of 1006 Scots June 2012).

How does this balance against the perigrinations of the Union apologists?

All it shows is the degree of 'non-listening' going on in Westminster as the cockerels try to keep the Westminster dung hill going.

The Scottish Electorate has rejected neo-liberal tautology by giving the SNP a majority, in a voting system which Lord Forsyth was assured this could never happen, and a mandate for the referendum which was to include the fiscal autonomy option in the original draft. Westminster said 'fiscal autonomy', over our dead bodies and denied the Scots this option.

This now leaves the Scots with the option of voting 'no' and rejecting 500+ years of social conservatism, in doing so saying yes to neo-liberalism and the status quo epitomised by a Tory led government that can not find its backside with both hands and a GPS, with its banker chums ripping everyone off (Barclays is the rule and not the exception) and the destruction of the welfare state and NHS - all of which, by giving the SNP a landslide, they wholly rejected.

Or voting 'Yes' and creating the opportunity to sustain their longstanding social conservative/ democratic politics, maintain their NHS and Welfare provisions, keep free University education and take the opportunity to stand on their own two feet which, given the current economic indicators, Scotland will manage with out much problem. After all the North Sea Sub Sea Industry just announced it is creating another 8,000+ jobs in Scotland over the next three years, worth in the region of £3 billion to the Scottish economy. This in the week after Diageo announced a £6 billion investment in its Scottish Distilleries and the Germans announced a £300 million investment in the Scottish reusable development and manufacturing sector.

Enrst and Young have reported the impending referendum is not effecting inward investment to Scotland and the Bank of Scotland business report for May 2012 indicated the Scottish job market was strong with 'new employment' growth good. The UK Government's own figures show only London and the SE and Scotland with any economic growth in the last quarter, where as the overall figure for the UK was a 0.4% contraction.

The question then becomes - if Scotland can do all this while inhibited by a City of London centric fiscal policy at Westminster, as a defacto 'UK region' - what could we achieve with out Westminster's corrupt and dead hand?

An idea that is growing in the minds of Scots across Scotland.

"Great minds discuss ideas, averge minds discuss events, small minds discuss personalities" - Elanor Roosevelt.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Operation Cockleshell - episode 2

Its a Whined Up ...

Grindstone had barely left the Cabinet Room when Cambourne set in motion his own operation, ‘Protect my Arse‘. It was clear his mentor, Sir Nigel, had taken himself as far away from the locus of the operation as was possible and Cambourne was sure Sir Nigel’s ‘sicky’ would last for at least the next fourteen days while 'Cockleshell' played out. Cambourne’s PR team were already considering the different scenarios from the Scottish Nationalists are the new PIRA if the operation was a success to: ‘It was a rogue MI6 agent and junior civil servant wat did it guv, I never saw a thing.’, if the shit hit the fan. It was probably going to be a bit of a squeaky bum time but that was why politicians wore Teflon gusseted underpants.

Grindstone made the call to Sir Nigel to tell him the Prime Minister had authorised ‘Cockleshell’ and to find out who was to take control of the brief. Sir Nigel's wife was in the process of giving Grindstone the ‘Sir Nigel is too ill to come to the phone’ brush off when a slurred voice in the back ground was heard to say,  ‘Mags, tell the little sniveller he’s in charge.’  Grindstone heard ‘Mags’ turn away and a fluent Anglo-Saxon expletive or two were hurled Sir Nigel’s way and all she said to Grindstone was, “You heard.” and slammed the telephone down.

Grindstone replayed the message tape over and over and all the message made clear was him asking, Mag’s swearing fading off and the ‘you heard’. The damn machine had not picked up Sir Nigel’s voice. For an old school civil servant this was insufficient authorisation, a recipe for disaster, especially if you were being politely given the ‘heave ho’ with only your gold plated pension as compensation. A little worm turned in Grindstone’s head and it said, “ They are trying to do you out of your pension’. Gladstone ignored the worm and did the next natural action for a civil servant, ask the department number 2 for an answer - preferably in writing - so he E-mailed Madelaine Cakes.

Agent McPhail was wondering why he had agreed to take on this under cover assignment, then he remembered he needed field time to get his next promotion and a return to a nice friendly desk in London or some Embassy, say on Fiji. At the time it was this rather cushy number or infiltrating the Islamic extremist group ‘Al Shabab’ in Somalia. It was a question of languages. McPhail was fluent in the Arabic required to pose as a Jihadist but also fully skilled in the lingua franca of the Scottish Defence League - Weegian. If McPhail got anything wrong in Somalia he was dead. Where as in the case of the Scottish Defence League they would never notice as the head quarters of this secret army (six Orange Order fanatics from North Lanarkshire, three Glasgow Ranger’s supporters from Govan and a couple of UDF members  (who would have gone to Northern Ireland to fight but they were never needed) from Patna and Barhead, respectively, barely had 11 brain cells to rub together amongst the lot of them.

The most recent SDL Army council meeting had mostly been focussed on the fate of Glasgow Rangers, the bast’rdin tax man, the f’in wee shite, Whyte, who had done this to them and worse of all they were now owned by an ‘f’in,  Jew ba‘, ‘nglishman. So McPhail’s attempts to involve them in ‘Cockleshell’ had so far fallen on stony ground but tonight he hoped they would be able to get them to focus, so they would be in place to offer themselves as the sacrificial lambs in the greater scheme of things to protect the UK from splitting when the order came through. This was not the story McPhail would be spinning it would be the one where those bast’rdin, f’in wee shites o’ the SNP were goan tae ditch the Queen an’ rip the heart oot o’ Rangers by takin away thir central pillar o’ loyalty tae the crown, no bad enough bein’ skint, as takin the Queen an aw. An hows they hud tae stap thon fram goan doon. McPhail hud a plan and kent fowk thit id mak thon happen, he hud pals in the EDL an BNP an they didnae wan the Queen booted oot o’ Scotland.

How McPhail hated dealing with these leaden Neaderthals and their ‘Labour workin’ cless, salt of the earth’ patois. Scotland was a far better country than this as Hume, Smith, Burns, Scott, Watt and others had shown time immemorial but, and it was a big ‘but’, Fiji probably beckoned once he had wound up their clockwork engines and started them ticking.

“Oh shit, that hurt something just stood on me,” Rod whispered in extreme pain. Dan took a quick look and identified the intruder.  “Baah.” said the threat to their cover.

Gemima Grayling’s steel grey eyes looked into the souls of her inner cabinet. ‘Cockleshell’ had been activated, the SAS were involved but what part of the power system would they attack. It would not be generating plants themselves as the fall out from Westminster’s business pals would be massive, it could only be the National grid transmission and switching plants or the power lines themselves. The problem was how to protect them when you had no defence force of your own, could not announce a terrorist threat, as that was a reserved matter for Westminster, and could not rely on the police force to act quietly on this matter as without doubt there would be leaks amongst the Masonic ties that bind which still blighted Scotland’s Police Forces.

For once they were totally disempowered. The only answer, to involve SNP activists, would play right into Westminster’s hands, “Ladies and gentlemen, we need to think hard and fast as to how we can blow this up in Westminster’s face or we will loose the referendum. We need a counter blast to disarm them.”

They all knew their source at Hereford could not help them with any more detail. The SAS team had been briefed but once they had left Hereford the how, where and when - was left to the team, the only difference being the action was on hold until the team received a certain code via satellite, a code known only to them and the UK SIS.

Ms Cake called Grindstone asking him what the meaning of his E-mail was, did he realise the potential breach of security it could be and why did he need the instruction confirmed in writing when he had been told directly by the prime minister, on his own account, to get on with it. What part of ’get on with it’ did Grindstone not understand?

Grindstone’s turning worm noted at no point in the telephone conversation did Ms Cake mention the word ‘Cockleshell’ whilst informing him she had already had the offending E-mail removed from the departmental server and he had better do the same from his own workstation’s hard drive before the internet security tech checked his machine overnight or it would be P45 time. Whilst Grindstone continued to shut out the noise of the turning worm in his head some part of his personal survival kit persuaded him to copy both the e-mail and the sound files of the telephone conversations with Sir Nigel and Ms Cake to his personal memory stick before wiping his machine clear. The noisy part of his head was saying; at last, they’ve put me in charge of something important while the worm bit accelerated a little more to keep up.

Grindstone looked at the things to do on receiving the prime minister’s authorisation he called the numbers specified at SIS and at the SAS HQ in Hereford and using the bank card from the file and digital card reader was able to give them the authorisation number response. Both calls were short and brief but Grindstone made .wmp files of both and saved them to his memory stick, just in case. He now had to wait for the SIS to confirm their operation was ready to go before sending the action codes which would release funds from a secret government contingency fund that usually supplied cash to dissidents in Iran or other places where the UK Government sought second hand influence or wished to cause disruption.

It was nearly five pm so Grindstone left the ministry in Whitehall walked to Victoria, changed at Clapham and headed home to his cat and solitary existence in Woking none the wiser about the shit storm he was in the process of triggering. He arrived home to his two up two down near the station, not far from the temple (Grindstone could never remember if it was Moslem or Hindu and frankly did not care) fed the cat topped up her cat milk and remembered the data on the memory stick. He then did something very strange. Rather than down load it to his lap top directly, he downloaded the files through the English to Klingon translator he had created, which could handle sound files and documents, before uploading them to his BT vault and removing the zip file he created for this purpose from his lap top. He did all this in the eight minutes it took his Tesco Value Chicken Tikka Masalla to microwave and before choosing which episodes from his box sets of Star Trek, Voyager and the rest of the ‘spin offs’ he would watch tonight. Grindstone’s turning worm sighed a psyche sigh of relief having managed to get this done without alerting the loud chattering of his nemesis, Grindstone's conscious.

McPhail was just sitting down to a tomato and avocado salad with a glass of chilled Chablis in the SIS owned first floor flat in Partick, just round from the station, when the phone went and this brief conversation followed:

“Hello Jeremy McPhail here”
“Is that George Crumpet”
“Sorry you must have a wrong number”

The line went dead and McPhail knew he had ten days to make his diversion happen. Tonight’s SDL Army Council meeting was going to have to get serious.

In Bermuda, Sir Nigel's 'sicky' went critical as he was rushed to the King Edward the VIIth Memorial Hospital with a suspected stroke, triggered by possible alcohol poisoning. After tests it was established Sir Nigel's liver was in major organ failure with cirrhosis and his kidney's were not looking to good either, in comparison his stroke was small beer. Sir Nigel’s wife was blaming the stress of heading up Internal Affairs for the prime minister as the main cause of Sir Nigel’s poor health, in response to media questions. The same media which knew just how close Sir Nigel was to the prime minister, in fact they often referred to Sir Nigel as Cambourne's puppet master. All specifically at the time Cambourne would prefer the Internal Affairs department to be below the radar. Cambourne wondered if it would not be better to postpone ‘Cockleshell’. He would get his PPS to get that ‘oik’ from the Internal Affairs Department to see him first thing and cancel the operation because, to be absolutely honest, with out Sir Nigel de Woodehead, he was stuffed.

When Madelaine Cake watched the news of Sir Nigel’s health collapse on News 24 her response was, “Oh fuck, bang goes me ever being a dame. Typical of the old groper to ensure he will be well away before the whole edifice comes dropping around his ears. Five years of wearing suspender belts and letting the pervert touch me up, wasted. Time to dust off my resignation letter and head to the assistant commissioner post at the EU Ms Legarde has lined up for me.”

Madelaine then called her long term lover, Antoinette Legarde, in Brussels.

Employment Dilemas and football

I see yet another two Ranger's stalwarts are not interested in their new conditions of employment enforced by the 'newco' and are looking to do a bunk:

Buying a business that is being liquidated

In circumstances where a company buys a business that is being
liquidated or where the employer is being sequestrated, the
company is bought in order to prevent it from being liquidated, in this event the employees’ contracts of employment can be transferred to the new owner without the consent of the employees.

Unless otherwise agreed, the new employer automatically
substitutes the old employer in all contracts of employment.

However, all the rights and obligations between the old employer
and each employee at the time of the transfer, remain the rights and obligations between the old employer and each employee.

Anything done before the transfer in respect of each employee is
considered to have been done by the old employer.

I do not know how Green thinks he can 'win' this one by claiming temporary changes to contract conditions agreed by Rangers FC Ltd and the playing staff to try and keep the club in business until the end of the season are fixed for the newco. Especially as part of the 'temporary agreement' was the players who took these wage cuts would be free agents at the end of the season, if the club went into liquidation.

In Green trying to enforce this 'temporary agreement' as a full and proper contract the players must be able to consider themselves constructively dismissed by the newco because it does not reflect their actual terms and condition of employment with Rangers in its previous form.

The other thought that crosses my mind has to do with whether the contracts are ones of direct employment or can be construed as subcontracts via the player's agent - which they would need to have been to play the tax avoidance game Rangers were playing. If it is legally construed as the latter style of contract then Green can not stop them for taking up work elsewhere as Green would seen as constraining the player's right to work and earn a living in his chosen craft or profession.

If Green fails to get the backing of the SPL to let the newco into their league - and given the other club's fans growing opposition to any such fix and a number of SPL Chairman already declaring they can not support Rangers newco's entry in response to their supporters concerns - which is looking increasingly unlikely, just how can Green force players to stay at what will become a SFL third division club, contract or no contract?

I truly hope that BDO look further back than just Whyte's tenure to the longstanding 'Mafia' style running of the club because I believe the previous chair and his board have a lot to answer for.

The SFA will not like what will come out but as sure as eggs are eggs there will be one or two board members there who have turned a blind eye to what was going on. Scottish Football supporters deserve to have the Augean Stables of fiscal malfeance at their clubs brought out into the open once and for all.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Operation Cockleshell (a satyrical novel in as many parts as I can be bothered to write)

Chapter 1 - 'Operation Cockleshell'

Grindstone stood under the big chandelier outside the prime minister's office nervously picking at the string tie keeping the increasingly obese folder clutched to his chest. He knew he should not be the one briefing the prime minister, he was the Department of Internal affairs resident lackey who even the tea lady looked down upon. The senior civil servant, Sir Nigel de Woodehead, had thrown a 'sicky' and headed off to Bermuda for his health. His number two, Madeleine Cakes, was having her hair done and could not be contacted. The remaining 10 civil servants ahead of Grindstone in the departmental pecking order had taken one look at the brief and headed off to far more important meetings on such diverse matters as legalising the police use of oysters for gathering information or just how long should a community sentence for 'leaving your rubbish bin top open' be. In this way the civil service grinds small until even the tea lady refused the job and it was left to Grindstone to brief the prime minister.

So here he was, standing out side yet another head master's office, on the wrong side of yet another potential beating. His father had been all for the 'public school ethic' and believed it would make a 'man' young N. T. T. Grindstone. Thus just as soon as it was legal Grindstone was dispatched to boarding school and the hell of unthinking parents and the initials they lumber you with. Unsurprisingly the spotty eight year old Grindstone was quickly named 'Nose' by his peers and the teaching staff, his fate was sealed and he became that student who was always working, never having 'fun' and a permanent excuse to 'miss games' - the school nerd.

This would have been well and good if Grindstone had achieved the grades his diligence should have delivered but by the time of 'O' levels the teaching staff were perplexed as to just what Grindstone had been studying, given his barely passable grades. His A levels were equally undistinguished and instead of Oxbridge and a position as the high flyer in the civil service, his father had envisaged for him, it had been a case of scraping into the least distinguished red brick University which would have him and a MA Hons 2 class 3.  A previously unknown class of degree the University created for Grindstone out of embarrassment, in acknowledgement of his effort versus his achievement. Grindstone was certain the civil service had only taken him out of sympathy for his old school and now deranged father.  A father who had realised Grindstone would never become a knight of the realm and unlikely to even get an MBE - having stated this as the reason for his suicide in the early 80's. Grindstone had thought this declaration just a tad unfair as when acting as executor for his father's estate he discovered the old man was bankrupt twice over and facing two court cases - one for bigamy and the other relating to his time as the local Scout Master. Once again Grindstone's diligence to his father's wishes had drawn a blank as when the manor house, grounds and other remaining assets around Barnsley had been sold, Grindstone had been left to pay the legal fees of some £5,000 from his own savings.

Grindstone knew he would get no gong, Sir Nigel had already told him the next MBE given to the Department was already tagged for the tea lady (equal opportunities and all that, old boy), so it was very unlikely he would even get one prior to his early retirement in three years time at the age of 55 - Sir Nigel had been very insistent that Grindstone applied for early retirement at the first opportunity. Yet here he was waiting for a blind fold, a post and a firing party, a situation far more preferable than telling the prime minister just what was in this brief.

The Honourable Julian Cambourne was not a happy man. Dickie, who had been his fag at Eton and in the same stair at Cambridge, had just popped in from number eleven to tell him the Treasury had some how mislaid around £40 billion pounds of tax payers' money. He was hoping it was a case of a wrong decimal point but 'not to worry' his team were 'on it' and working out a good line to use to blame the previous government's incumbent at number eleven - old 'Foxy' Daring (a non Etonian - boo but had been on the same stair at Cambridge - so not all bad).

Now there was some 'oik' from a minor public school and a third rate red brick university with an MA (2.3) in 'Coronation Street', outside with what could not be in any shape or form 'good news'. The briefer was of a level in the civil service which never normally ventured from under their stone. Cambourne's private parliamentary secretary had tried to get hold of Sir Nigel in Bermuda but Sir Nigel's wife had firmly and caustically stated that Sir Nigel was incapacitated and could not come to the phone. Cambourne realised if his old mentor from Cambridge and their Gray's Inn Chambers was that drunk, it had to be buttock clenchingly serious.

Cambourne's natural instinct was to slip out of the back door of number ten and avoid the messenger. A quick check had indicated maybe that would not be a good idea as he was told journalists from the Telegraph, Financial Times and Robert Peston were waiting to pounce - they must already have wind of the missing £40 billion thought Cambourne. The escape routes via number eleven were also being watched. Maybe he could get his chief whip to call him to the 'House' for an urgent meeting with back benchers; that would do it, surely. His PPS made the call. The answer came back - don't under any circumstances. The 1922 Committee have wind of Dickie's latest foul up and are not happy bunnies - they would love to meet with you and Dickie. The talk is of wooden stakes and silver bullets.

Between a rock and a hard place was where the prime minister found himself. Maybe his PPS could take the briefing but Crambourne looked at the flimsy, top secret - Prime Minster's eyes and ears only. Maybe his PPS could persuade this Internal Ministry 'oik' to leave the file for later perusal by the prime minister which would allow it to be filed under pending for a few days until the '£40 billion missing' fiasco calmed down. No, it definitely states that this Grindstone chap has to hand the brief to the Prime Minister's hands directly and await instructions. Who else could Cambourne shift the 'buck' on to? Internal affairs? Surely that is the province of the Home Secretary, the rabid right wing woman who makes Mrs Thatcher (of beloved memory) look like a rampaging socialist. A phone call later and it appeared the Home Secretary did know in outline what the brief was about but had it made clear to her, by Sir Nigel, it was something she should leave to the prime minister for any substantive decision and action.

"Remind me again, Dan, just what is the SAS doing deployed in the Scottish Borders, with out informing the military HQ in Scotland, right by the main transmission line to England?"

Dan Defoe risked disturbing their camouflage by stretching his toes in his boots, it had been nearly four hours since his last stretch, so he felt he could relax a bit.

"Search me, Rod, must be some anti terrorist exercise where we are supposed to be blowing up the power line from Scotland to England and currently the civil authorities are supposed to be searching for us. Need to know ..."

"That's probably it then Dan, .....  need to know. Its just why do we have enough demolition chord to take out a mile of pylons?"

Gemima Grayling sat with her team in Bute House looking out the window over the Georgian Square which epitomised Edinburgh's New Town, while her advisers were telling her the interesting snippet that the Treasury had misplaced £40 billion, around about the same amount as she and her government had in pocket money from the UK treasury to run Scotland. Her advisors were telling her their sources in the UK Treasury knew where the £40 billion had gone. Apparently it was in a loan to Greece via France to cover the French banks massive exposure to the impending Greek default. The reality was the cash had never left France so was artificially making the French Government and Bourse's support for the Euro look in a stronger position than it actually was. The real problem her team had identified was the new socialist President of France did not like the idea of being beholden to 'Les Rostbifs' and wanted the money returned to the UK or used for the purpose it had been borrowed - to lend onto the Greeks. There was a lot of Gallic shrugging by the moneymen and women accompanied with lots of 'Mais non Monsieur President, c'est ne pas vrai! C'est difficile, non - c'est impossible'. The answers the President received to his 'Pourquoi?' did not make him a happy man. By all accounts his predecessor had already spent the lot on the next generation nuclear plants in France, in a secret deal with the UK Government to keep the lights on in London via the HVDC  inter-connector. A deal the Honourable Dickie Flint had apparently happily signed off, after a few snifters, along with other 'Treasury' specials at the same time. One of those 'specials', an additional payment to Internal Affairs 'special fund' rang alarm bells in Gemima and her team's heads, they knew about 'Cockleshell'.

Grindstone's lower back was aching and he was starting to get cramp in the back of his calves. He instinctively knew this was part of the routine to impress on you just how busy the prime minister is and partly to see just how important the message you had to deliver actually was. Considering how junior he was, as a civil servant, he guessed he would have to stand there for at least an hour past the stated time of his appointment. For the same reason, he assumed, there was no chance of him ever being offered a seat or a cup of tea and a biscuit. Just as the arms of his fake Rolex indicated he had, indeed, been kept waiting an hour - the door to the Cabinet Office opened and the prime minister's PPS waved him in and sat Grindstone opposite the seat he knew had seen the backsides of all the prime minister of his lifetime. Cambourne entered, Grindstone stood up, Cambourne said "Well?" and Grindstone told him, "To save the Union it was time to activate operation 'Cockleshell'." Three minutes later Grindstone was heading back to the Internal Ministry with a less than definitive answer from the prime minister of, "OK, I suppose we must - see to it, my good man."

Friday, 15 June 2012

Scotland - Carol Craig's crisis of confidence

Carol Craig, New Labour lovie, in with the bricks West Coast Labourite and part of the Willie Ross / Donald Dewar clique published an erudite study into why there was a 'Scots - crisis of confidence'.

I have read the book a few times, looked at some of the source material and was left wondering after all the research required how could she, in her personal life, support unbridled Unionism when her own research pointed to the colonial attitude of Westminster to Scotland as one of the major problems holding Scotland back. Of course in 2003 when the book was first published, Dewar had been a leading light at Holyrood and on his way to New Labour martyrdom, the New Labour / Libdem succession looked assured with McLeish and Wallace and there was no hint of McLeish going 'native'. Within four years this New Labour Scotland was in decline, McConnell had behaved too clearly as Blair's puppet, the Libdems were on an increasingly shoogly peg as Blair's Scottish lap dog and Scots were looking for a party that would take their wish for a new fiscally autonomous relationship between Westminster and Scotland seriously. From 2006 the crisis of confidence was less and less on the Scots side and increasingly on the Westminster side. Ms Craig was geting increasingly getting het up, her isn't devolution wonderful and give us Scots confidence in the Union (public face) was being undermined by the academic research from her own book to such an extent if you point out all that is now happening is what she described needed to happen - removal of the dead, colonial hand of Westminster - you will be modded off her blog as a 'cybernat'.

Ms Craig is in denial of the real arguments her 'Crisis of Confidence' book raises because its discussion of the impact of the 'colonial attitude of Westminster to Scotland' rather undermines any proposition of the 'Union' being 'good for Scotland'.

I would suggest her political and academic imperatives are at cross purposes. Scotland as a 'colony' is at the heart of the problem of the disempowerment she defines, which was felt in Scotland during the 1980's and 1990's but one which the first decades of the new century are quickly resolving. Scotland increasingly ceases seeing itself as a colony of Westminster and, empowered by an effective government in Holyrood, sees itself as a nation, a view that is represented in the 60%+ vote for fiscal autonomy which has been the norm since 2006 and which Westminster turns a cloth ear to. The 'because' is important as it is to do with the increasing rejection of 'bullying' by Westminster as seen in the case of Megrahi at a political level, the independence referendum date, the challenge to the Supreme Court's right to have any impact on Acts and Laws of the Scottish Parliament under the Scotland Act of 1998 (Axa et al - the Supreme Court stated it had no power to overturn any Act or Law made by the Scottish Parliament as it was the expressed will of the (sovereign) Scottish People).

The process that is going on around us in Scotland is not complex it is very simple: once you stand up to 'bullies' you realise the power they hold over you is, actually, non existent. This is all the SNP are doing, standing up to the 'bullies'; the failure to do so was one of the reason's McConnell and New Labour were dumped in 2007 - he was too clearly Westminster's puppet. We like the SNP standing up to the establishment bullies, we feel better about ourselves, the Scottish nation moves on to better things and proves what the academic Carol Craig's book stated was in fact holding us back but tramples over Ms Craig's 'New Labour' political sureties because part of her (and many of us) 'knows' she is siding with the perceived 'bullies' and her identified cause as the basis of the Scots - crisis of confidence.

Is it any surprise she is a bit tense and unsure of her political argument, so resorts to her own form of name calling, censorship and bullying on her blog and web site - it is, after all, the Unionists' default state.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Non Existent Conditions

I suffer from a neuropathy around 40% of  UK Rheumatologists agree exists, 30% say is psychosomatic and does not exist and the remainder who say it probably does not exist, as the current evidence is vague, but offer treatment anyway - in case they are sued.

The condition is called 'fibromyalgia'. One way to think about it is a non agressive form of MS with muscle weakening, fatigue, muscle pain, stomach cramps, migraine like headaches and days when pressure points around your body are so sensitive to pressure and pain; to lie on your side, in bed, requires putting a pillow between your knees and another between your arm and your head.

Last night I had a beezer of a flare up. It caught me by surprise because I have not had an attack like it for around ten years. At 0340 this morning I woke up and felt as if my skin was burning. The sort of burning you feel after being scalded or badly sunburnt. Being scientific by training I checked the surface temperature of my skin, it was quite normal, but physiologically all my senses were saying get in a cold shower now. I took some pain killers, an extra dose of endorphin promoters and waited out the 30 minutes until the pills worked and the attack subsided. I set up my pillows and duvet to reduce pressure point contact as I have been shown and went back to bed. Clearly I made that all up, if you are in the psychosomatic group of thinkers, and all I needed to do is give myself a firm talking to.

Being a scientist and medically trained I checked, this morning, to see if there was a known physiogical cause for this unpleasant but not life threatening episode and found there is. Research being carried out in the US on fibromyalgia has just demonstrated a physiological mechanism for this 'burning all over, sensation. It appears in us suffers an important chemical feedback loop between the body's pressure sensors just under the skin, the nerve fibres that serve them and the nerve fibre insulators (Schwann Cells) does not work. The initial research is showing a critical chemical messenger from the Schwann cell which is supposed to 'damp down' the response to the pressure sensor at the spinal column nerve root /  ganglion not only does not work but causes a hieghtened response instead. Once the high level of this rogue chemical messenger is achieved in the spinal fluid then the body's whole sensory system goes rogue, hence last night's attack, and why artificially raising the levels of endorphins (the body's natural pain killers) in the spinal fluid stops it.

Will this new evidence change the attitude of the Rheumatology Department in Dumfries Royal Infirmary to myself and other suffers?  I very much doubt it and, personally, having yet another attempt at reasoned scientific debate with a consultant (and his team) who do not want to listen is just not worth raising chemical stressor levels in my body and bringing on another episode of fibromyalgia - my body is good enough at that, as it is.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Subsidy Junky - SE England

"Families will be forced to pay higher energy bills to fund subsidies to the French for a radical overhaul of the power market, the boss of one of the country’s largest energy companies has warned. Ian Marchant, the chief executive of SSE" (Sunday Times -10th June 2012)

An independent Scotland could choose to bring all public utilities back under public ownership -that would do prevent us paying more for a commodity we produce an excess of ...

The main control over power costs will come from the Scottish National Grid charges; which I trust will become a public utility once more. By having a 'Scottish National Grid' the Scottish Government will have leverage over energy costs.

Basically, if the energy companies try to charge Scots more to subsidise other non Scottish parts of their business they will find their transmission charges going up in parralel and current subsidies going the other way. This will work because these companies will make big bucks exporting Scotland's excess capacity and need to be able to access Scotland's reusable resources to meet Europe's future needs - so generators flouncing off in a huff is not on the cards as there will be others ready to take their place.

England is dependent on importing energy, especially electricity, to keep the lights on in London and the SE. London and the SE are especially reliant on the French HVDC interconnector and French surplus nuclear energy output. On Scottish independence the subsidy given to London and the SE under the current UK National Grid charging regime will also disappear forcing further price hikes in London and the SE as the market forces them to pay for Westminster's lack of thought and short termism over English generating capacity. Ironically the people of Northern Ireland could well benefit from the break up of the UK national grid as they will not be paying a London and SE premium on their power imports from Scotland.

The new French Presidency is anti-nuclear and so EDF, SSE and other operators in France sense they will see their current nuclear subsidies being cut with little Government money to promote the next generation of French AGRs, with these subsides being switched to promote France's alternative power resources.

All Ian Marchant is really saying is, as London and the SE are reliant on French nuclear power generation, it is not a big surprise that French generators are looking at the SE of England (aka Britain or the UK) to pay higher charges to help defray the costs. You can look at Marchant's comments as yet another good reason for Scotland to cut the ties that bind us to the London and the SE subsidy junkies.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Cameron's Chunky Pickle.

 Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, warns there will be "a little less understanding" and a tougher approach to the families who are "fluent in social work" and are responsible for chaos that costs the country £9bn every year. He wants fewer children playing truant, life-long benefit claimants on the road to employment, and fewer police call-outs to problem homes.

The reality is there are families who are dysfunctional across the whole of the social spectrum - The House of Windsor is a cracking example of that.

The problem which Pickles does not address is the reality that many of the families Pickles thinks need a short, sharp shock to get them in 'work' are in the position they are because of political decisions to remove the UK manufacturing base offshore over the last four decades and replace jobs that had a tangible output for 'service jobs' (aka: serving burgers in MacDonalds)

Since Thatcher's privatise everything that moves policy, the area of socialised unemployment  has grown and become entrenched, so many previous 'bread winners' after Thatcher's first 'market reforms' failed to find employment, as did successive generations of the same family. This viscious circle ensured these families were entrapped in sink estates where education, health care and social services were severely stretched and tended to break down because of lack of empoyees willing to work in these estates while the police's presence is only for 'drug busts'. It is now at a point that young people from these areas know if they put their address on a job application they will get the PC  'brush off' - even for Tesco check out jobs.

With out hope or opportunity, what point is there to seek a job?

These people have no hope, no future - so is it any surprise they shag, smoke and drink themselves to death 10 to 15 years earlier than Mr and Mrs Average?

These people are not the problem they are the detritus of neo-liberal political and economic policies which have dominated Westminster since 1997, with out any break or check, and the English electorate who have foisted neo-liberalism on the UK by voting Old Tory/New Labour over this period. If anyone can explain to me why doing the same thing time and time again, even though it never has or will work, is such a good idea; I might just believe in retaining the Union.

The only possible future, to end this discarding of sections of the UK population, is to take a hammer to the two party system, Westminster is not fit for purpose and has not been for many decades but to expect Westminster to get rid of the 'Lords' or even bring in the pig's breakfast of a PR system, they foisted on Wales and Scotland's Assembly and Parliament, for UK elections is as likely as me being the next Queen of Scotland.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Moribund Milliband

Moribund's speech today to save the 'UK from Darth Eck' is an example of the classic psychological phenomenon of projection by the Westminster ruling class. Projection is where you place your own faults and failings on others and blame them for the outcomes.

Milliband is not talking to Scotland he is talking about the failure of Westminster to address the increasing desire in Scotland for full fiscal autonomy (routine preference of 60+% of Scots in opinion polls) and the very option Westminster is not willing to discuss in any shape or form (Westminster says it must be a yes / no question).
If he wants to widen the debate just where is the Westminster policy to create a Scottish Oil fund? Where is
the Westminster policy to promote inward investment for renewables in Scotland and rationalise National Grid charges so Scottish generators no longer subsidise the costs of power hungry London and the SE?  Where are the Westminster policies to protect Scotland's centre left political view point on social democracy and counteract the reason that more Scots are voting SNP?  The 2012 council elections saw a further 5% swing from New Labour to the SNP in Glasgow and a further increase in the number of SNP councillors over New Labour overall, while Alex Salmond's approval rating is ten's of points ahead either Cameron or Milliband -  all clearly the signs of an SNP Government 'running out of steam' as BBC Scotland, The Scotsman or Daily Record report it.

You see, from where I am sitting Westminster is devoid of any policies that will even begin to address the people of Scotland's stated political wishes and ultimately, Westminster's neo-liberal politics and economic policies, are the biggest threat to Scotland's social democratic traditions and will be the main driver for the Yes to independence vote.

The latest wheeze to stop the Yes to Independence campaign is to wheel out Charles Kennedy but Charles and his party have long supported the concept of home rule for the constituent parts and a federal UK. In fact the Libdems are currently dusting off the 1911 Home Rule Bill for yet another airing, according to Menzies Campbell - who well have been involved in writing the original document for all I know or care.

The message journalists and politicians in the Westminster bubble just do not understand in their personality over substance view of politics is the 'Yes vote' is not about Alex Salmond, it is not even about the SNP - it is about the growing realisation across the political spectrum, in Scotland, that the current political union in the UK is not working, a reality highlighted by the neo-liberal policies New Labour and the Tories and rejected by Scots of all stripes.

Milliband's patronising of the Scots with yet another 'too small, too poor, too stupid' speech makes the work of the Yes camp just that bit easier and highlights just how out of touch New Labour is with the wishes of the Scottish people.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Silence of the Damned

According to the rabid Alan Cochrane of the Telegraph (as it takes one to know one) I am one of the irrational and lunatic 'cybernats' that are bedevilling the debate to stop Scotland being an autonomous nation state and remain dependent on Westminster's crumbs of comfort.

To defend another few hundred years of colonial rule it appears the 'Yes to dependence' camp have the ear of the BBC in Scotland and the support of a few of BBC Scotland's impartial reporters - stand forward Brian Taylor, Douglas Fraser and Isobel Fraser - to name but three currently on my 'Impartial - my erse' radar.

The BBC Scotland made much of Salmond's response to the low level of bunting and knees ups over Scotland for the Queen of Scots jubilee but has little to say on the visit to the US West Coast where the SNP leader and his team are speaking to and meeting with one of the most respected 'investors clubs' in the US to encourage further inward investment in Scotland. Ernst and Young recently reported that Scotland was the top UK region for attracting inward investment and only today the multinational Diego Group are investing another £1 billion on whisky production in Scotland and another £300 million being invested from overseas on Scotland's alternative power sector. The silence from BBC Scotland is overwhelming prefering, as they do, to focus on the Old Firm (Celtic and Rangers) and the odd homicide or fatal car crash.

There is little or no coverage of the facts of the Labour leader in Glasgow's deal with the sectarian Orange Order which' in return for Orange Order vote's Matheson has allowed an extra 20 Orange Order marches against the advice of Strathclyde Police and folk involved in ridding Glasgow of its faux religious curse. On the other hand the same politicians turned his back on the deal between his council and Unite over Glasgow Council workers pay and conditions. I have no sympathy for the people of Glasgow, they got what they voted for - another four years of Glasgow Labour lackeyism, corruption and contempt for its electorate.

The BBC thought it had come up with a cunning wheeze, a Question Time from Inverness packed with pro-dependence mouthpieces and a token independence supporter in the US based actor, Alan Cummings. What fun they were going to have with such staunch 'Scotch' as Melanie Phillips of the Daily Mail being able to counter anything Alan Cumming said with, 'So why do you live in America?', to which the only sensible answer would be, 'To get away from rabid Thatcherite cows like you.' Unfortunately for the BBC in Scotland the Scottish people spotted their game and bombarded the BBC in Scotland with complaints regarding the extreme bias in the make up of the Question Time panel for Inverness. Ah! we were told: this is a national program, broadcast across the UK and the panel reflects this mix of views in accordance with the BBC's rules on fair play ... ah the people of Scotland said, 'You mean in a program from Scotland, in a city where the Unionist Parties took a serious gubbing in the last two elections, you will not be allowing any questions on 'Scotch Independence' ..... aye, that'll be right.'

It appears that someone further up the BBC chain of command has tweaked the nose of the 'Question Time' producer as a couple of the English talking heads have been dumped and Nicola Sturgeon and Charles Kennedy have been brought in. Still they have Dimbleby in the chair so that should ensure any positive contribution to why Scotland should be independent will still be cut short on 'editorial' grounds.

To Scots of my persuation there is only one side that does not wish to engage in open and informed debate and that is the 'Yes to dependence' camp. The reason is simple - no matter how you stack the economic cards Scotland is better off as an independent country, away from the hubris of Westminster and fiscal Augean Stables which is the 'City of London'. How are we stronger together when a petro-dollar based oil and gas sector, of which 90% is in Scottish waters, is the only thing between HMG and further downgrading from its current AA- status? 

HMG and its nationalised banks are directly exposed to £5 billion losses in Greece but are strangely silent on the Lloyds / RBOS underwriting of French banks' exposure to Greek default to the tune of £37 billion. I know what lets pretend this fiscal shit storm is not on its way and spend another estimated £300 million (we do not have according to Osbourne) in London, on a Union Flag waving jamboree - in the meantime the NHS in England is being short changed and UK Welfare budgets are being hacked.

Yep, that is clearly the way to go about convinving this 'rabid cybernat' that we are better off under the thrall of Westminster.

(PS: The Scots are having a celebration for the 60th year of Elizabeth, Queen of Scots, rule in July during her annual stay at Holyrood ..  but the BBC will not be covering it as they no longer have the resources in Scotland to do so due to cuts in BBC Scotland's budget.)