Sunday, 30 December 2012

Bitter Together - 1. Operation Cockleshell

As a result of the interest shown in my first draft of Bitter Together I have set too to fill in the blanks and create a novel length version. All characters in this novel are fictitous and bear no relationship to any person or organisation.  Bitter Together is a political satire and remains the property of the author, reproduction, in part or full, in any other medium whether print or digital can only be carried out with the written agreement of the author. Peter Thomson exercises the right to be identified as the author of the work under and in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
All rights are reserved. 

First published in digital format in the Tarff Advertiser in December 2012 by the author.

Grindstone stood under the big chandelier outside the prime minister's office, nervously picking at the black boot lace tie which kept the increasingly obese folder together while he clutched the same tightly to his chest. He knew he should not be the one briefing the prime minister, he was the Department of Internal Affairs resident lackey, a level 5 civil servant, who even the tea lady looked down upon. The senior civil servant, Sir Nigel de Woodehead KCB (a Cambourne appointee), 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 ever smaller until even the tea lady refused the job and it was left to Grindstone to brief the prime minister on the need to initiate 'Operation Cockleshell'. So here he was, standing out side yet another head master's office, on the wrong side of yet another potential beating for someone else's idea of a practical joke.

Grindstone came from an 'olde' English family whose hold on lands to the east of what is now the Barnsley suburb of Monk Breton go back to pre-Doomsday book times. They were Angles by blood but had somehow bent with the wind to encompass the various invaders who came and went across their lands whether it was the Northumbrians from the north, the Danes from the east or the Mercians from the west. No matter the overlord the family had always managed to hold onto their hides of land, their serfs, their mill and their quarry. The Normans were merely another family for the Grindstone’s to touch their forelock to, pay as little tax as possible and get on with having a relatively comfortable life, living well off the fertile soil and making a decent living from quarrying mill stones for the Yorkshire Ridings. They never lusted after a motte or a bailey and when mini - castles and Peele Towers were all the rage they kept to an enclosed farm steading strong enough to keep wolves and bandits at bay. Their fortified farm yard was never a threat to their current overlord who over the next few hundred years came and went whether on Crusade, rebellion against or for the current king or simply thieving land from a weaker lord. They were Yorkists or Lancastrians, Catholics or Protestants, Cavaliers or Roundheads as the politics of England demanded but at their core they remained Anglo-Saxon survivors of the middling kind.

The family would probably remained in this state if it had not been for Gregorious Grindstone’s discovery of coal on their ancient hides while hiding in a cave in the gorge from either the Cavaliers or Roundheads - the family could never remember which but agreed Gregorious was being sensible and acting in the best interests of the Grindstones. For the next hundred years or so between the millstones and the anthracite from the adit mine the Grindstones moved up the income ladder to become of the upper middling sort and built themselves a traditional manor house turning their old steading into a farmyard. The serfs went with the enclosure of the land in the 17th century. The Grindstone's brought in a factor from Scotland to run the extended and enclosed manor farm in the modern manner. In turn the factor re-employed many of the old serf families as farm labour but with poorer conditions.  It was when the canal was built in the valley between Monk Breton and Barnsley, linking them north to York and south to the new industrial heartland in the Black Country, that the Grindstone’s coal seams turned them into Georgian millionaires. In  the late 18th Century the Grindstones decided knocked down the Manor House to build a proper house, more fitting for their place in Yorkshire society and were easily able to afford the new eight bedroom Georgian house designed and built by Adam and landscaped by Capability Brown. As the 19th Century went along so did the Grindstone’s fortunes with sons aping the aristocracy purchasing captaincy’s in the Regiments and entering the church. With the family business and railway investments booming they were able to conduct themselves to be damned fine Victorians, then damned fine Edwardians and finally, from 1914 for four years, damned fine targets massacred on the Somme, at Paschendale and the remainder picked off during the last hundred days prior to November 11th and the Armistice, leaving Grindstone’s grandfather, the youngest of the seven brothers, who had been made to stay at home to run the business interests, as the only survivor. The sense of guilt of not doing his bit was compounded by major financial losses during the stock market crash and then the general strike. Granddad did his bit and the once proud Grindstone businesses struggled on until Nationalisation of the mines and railways finally killed his spirit and the old man, himself. During the Second War Grindstone’s dad had served in Burma, he never talked much about it and occasionally he would start stammering and shaking telling Grindstone it was just malaria but the young Grindstone found it hard to believe his Mum fell down stairs as often as she said she did.

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, simply to acknowledge his massive effort versus his minimal 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, when he had realised Grindstone would never become a knight of the realm and unlikely to even get an MBE - 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 for dutiful service to his country, 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 and Internal Affairs department's recommendation.

The Honourable Blair 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 as Blair 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 where he had suddenly gone on ‘sick leave’ 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 that buttock clenchingly serious.

Cambourne's natural instinct was to slip out of the back door of number ten and avoid the messenger, an approach which had served his family well over the last 200 years.. 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. Blast, 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 come to the house unless you are willing to sacrifice the chancellor. 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 Cambourne looked at the flimsy, top secret - Prime Minster's eyes and ears only. Maybe his PPS could persuade this Internal Affairs 'oik' to leave the file for later perusal by the prime minister. This would allow it to be filed under pending for a few days until the '£40 billion of Tax Payers money 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, action and not involve herself in. It was clear from her tone that the misogynistic Sir Nigel had put her nose out of joint, he had probably called her 'little woman' or such like as was Sir Nigel's arrogant wont. Damn, thought Cambourne I will just have to face up to this myself, for once.

Blair’s father, the current hereditary Lord Cambourne, had, like generations of the family (since the first Lord Cambourne in the 1790’s) made a lot of money following the family's traditional route from the buying and selling of military commissions in the 18th Century, negotiating armament contracts in the 19th and 20th centuries, dealing as an agent in Government bonds across the centuries and most recently advising government on the privatisation of public services. It was as Commission Agents the pre first Lord Cambourne, George D' Oaks, had attracted the attention of the then Duke of York who needed a friend’s ‘Fitz’, nothing to do with me old chap, sorted out with a commission in the First Line of Foot. As a result of this deal, and a number of others for ’friends’ of the Duke of York, George found himself as the Duke’s aide de camp for the disaster of the Low Countries campaign against Revolutionary France famed in the children’s party song, ‘The Grand old Duke of York’. A few more fixes, favours on his return and all of a sudden George D' Oaks was the Duke of Cambourne with an estate in Wessex and a pension from his sponsor of £3,000 a year in perpetuity. In return George would ensure that candidates favourable to the Duke of York would be elected from the five rotten boroughs that were now in George's gift. Over the centuries by avoiding taking part in wars, and buying and selling on the markets, taking cuts from government deals (we prefer the word 'commission' old chap) and buying up estates as they ran out of male heirs, the Cambourne’s became amongst the top ten richest land owners in the UK with estates in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The family tradition had been established to ensure the oldest son entered politics as an old school Tory and through a combination of favours, debts called in and appropriate donations over the two hundred years since had ensured a Cambourne was prime minister once or twice each century.

"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."

"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?"

“Need to know I suppose.. and at present we do not need to know”

Colour Sergeant Dan Defoe prided himself in his extreme fitness, dedication and professionalism. he had trudged a hard route out of Drumchapel and into the Highland Fusiliers. The regiment turned him from an innumerate and illiterate keelie to a man of education and ability. Prior to being promoted staff sergeant the army had offered him the chance to go to Sandhurst to become an officer. Dan had refused, he felt safer as a squaddie, so sought selection for the SAS instead. It was a move he had never regretted even when being bitten by sand flies in Iraq while calling air strikes down on mobile Scud launchers or the retreating Iraqi Revolutionary Guard. Andy McNab may be the SAS ‘hero’ in the public's eye but in Defoe’s book he was a failure having been noticed by the enemy where he was not supposed to be. Now Defoe was lying in a camouflaged defile on the Southern Uplands, waiting and being patient.

Gemima Grayling sat with her team in Bute House looking out the window over the Georgian Square which epitomised Edinburgh's New Town, all the while her advisers were telling her interesting snippets like 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.

Gemima had given up a lot to be leader of the party yet she felt it would be all worth if this time Scotland could get out from under the benighted Union and become the nation it deserved to be rather than living on Westminster handouts. She thought over life as a miner’s daughter from Blairhall in West Fife. How she had been awarded a prestigious Carnegie Bursary to a top Edinburgh fee paying school. Her parents were delighted when she became the first in the family to go to University to study law and politics. There was the sadness as the mines started to close under Thatcher and men like her father became to old to employ or retrain and withered away on a diet of booze and cigarettes at the Miner’s Welfare - an idea she had learned to call an oxymoron. Her father’s joy when she said she was thinking of going into politics which turned to anger and despair when he understood it would not be as a member of his beloved Scottish Labour Party whose rightward drift he turned a blind eye to. In 1997 he saw New Labour in power but in the aftermath of devolution realised he had been sold down the river after all, they were just Tories with red rosettes. He had been pleased to sit in the Hollyrood visitors’ gallery to hear his daughter make her maiden speech but had died of lung cancer triggered by silicosis before she made it to leader - still fighting the National Coal Board’s insurer for his legitimate pay out until the day he drew his last breath. Her Mum was just glad Gemima had got out of Blairhall, everything else, as she said, was just ‘sweeties’. Gemima had tried to get her Mum to move to Edinburgh but she was still in the council house Gemima had been born in. Gemima knew her mum would only move out when, as the say in Fife parlance, ‘she wis completely aff her legs’.

Her advisors were now telling her their sources in the UK Treasury thought they knew where the missing £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 Government 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 French 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' was setting aside an additional payment to an Internal Affairs 'special fund', a payment which rang alarm bells in Gemima and her team's heads, they knew a fair bit about 'Cockleshell' already and this ring fenced payment could only be for that purpose.

Grindstone's lower spine was aching and he was starting to get cramp in the back of his calves. He instinctively knew this was part of the Downing Street civil servants' routine to impress on you just how busy the prime minister is, how inferior you were because you were not on the Downing Street staff 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 would be 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 ministers 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'."
“Are you certain Gritstone, there’s no mistake, we shouldn’t hold for a few days?“
“If we do that we will miss the window of opportunity the plan requires to go off effectively. It is now or never, sir.”
Grindstone placed the read outs from the secret polling organisation which clearly showed this was now the fourth month the Scottish polling  figures were in the critical area required to trigger ‘Cockleshell‘. Cambourne sucked in his cheeks and sighed in a 'in for a penny' way. Three minutes later Grindstone was heading back to the Internal Affairs Ministry with a less than definitive answer from the prime minister of, "OK, I suppose we must - see to it, my good man."

Thursday, 27 December 2012

What if ...... ?

2016 - the RUK with its new sovereign parliament of England, Wales and Northern Ireland has to decide; does it stay within the EU or take the option created by Scottish independence to put its two year's notice to leave the EU, in to Brussels.

As the debate rages in Westminster there is a run on sterling as a reserve currency as its potential as a safe home on the edge of the EU becomes uncertain to world markets coupled with what many saw as the major stupidity of kicking Scotland's petro and energy backed pound out of the sterling cartel. they are now increasingly worried about the debt bubble the City of London now sits on is unsustainable with sterling's loss of 40% ( in previous UK Government terms) of its export earning capacity and the increasing cost of cross border trade with the Scottish pound zone as sterling weakens.

The pound Scots in 2016 is already attracting inward investment and major foreign currency holdings as first quarter figures for 2016-17 indicate in the first year the newly independent Scotland will achieve a cash surplus, like its near neighbour Norway. The decision of the Scots to negotiate a new accession treaty with Brussels is a further attraction as it is clear the Scottish economy will not meet ERM and Euro alignment factors as the new Scottish economy is too strong for a weakened Euro to absorb without further fiscal crisis in its weaker economies. Making the pound Scots even more attractive to world investors
This is a potential reality Cameron and his coalition government are not even planning for. A current House of Lords Committee looking at the impact of Scottish independence on the rUK has called the coalitions current planning for a 'yes' result in the 2014 referendum as niave and failing the UK electorate as a whole with its assumption the 'Yes' campaign will lose in 2014. There are no current plans to reposition Trident at Plymouth for a start nor any serious analysis on the impact on sterling if rUK were daft enough to kick the energy backed Scottish pound out of sterling nor, it appears, do they have any real idea of the impact on rUK of an independent Scotland staying in the EU whilst the rUK leaves and what the cost to rUK as a member of EFTA will be in cash terms versus loss of influence in Europe - rebate or no rebate. There is the further problem of the impact on Northern Ireland of trying to enforce border controls between it and Eire which is an EU member.

Further what will the Government of rUK do during the two years it takes to disengage as its electorate will remain EU citizens, with the associated human rights that come with the Lisbon Treaty. What will be the impact on the City of London when overnight many of its key players are instantly turned in aliens. How will that work with visa's and new passports - who will be eligible, how will that be defined by 2018, who will run the necessary bureacracy when currently the UK Borders Agency is as effective as a sieve in preventing illegal immigration?

What agencies will be created to prevent smuggling and black marketeering between Northern Ireland and Eire and Scotland and England? What will be the impact on food imports that flow from Scotland to England and multinationals like Tesco or Sainsbury who rely on 'just in time' delivery to keep their English stores stocked when imports from Scotland or the EU are delayed for even 12 hours at border crossings by rUK customs?

We Scottish 'yes' supporters are thinking long and hard about EU membership but we are doing so from a better informed postion than offered by the Daliy Mail or the Telegraph in England. EU membership will be decided on what is best for Scotland's long term future both political and economic. The current advice from the Norwegian Foreign Minister (as an EU outsider) is Scotland should stay as EU members because the overall benefits outweigh the short term costs. Politically Scotland's left of centre political leanings makes us less fearful of the EU's social contract than the UK neoliberals at Westminster but we do have this innate stubborn streak which leads us to cut off our neb to spite our face.

If it were just as simple as waving two fingers to the EU then the UK could have been away years ago, it is clearly far more involved than that - we need to think carefully about what we may well be wishing for with Scotland in EFTA rather than the EU. My rethink on EFTA vs the EU started when I read Sir David Edward's piece on the Scottish Constitutional Future blog, recently reprinted by Newsnet Scotland

Thursday, 20 December 2012

A letter to Russell Brown MP

As my Westminster MP this is a matter which directly impacts on your area of responsibility as it concerns the impact of your party’s failure to offer any real opposition to the malignant plague now stalking the land – I refer to Mr Duncan-Smith’s benefit proposals and the malignant relationship between the DWP and ATOS and an issue concerning their inhumanity which I understand your comrade, Mr Michael Meacher MP, raised in the House recently with regard to a constituent who died of a heart attack, in a car, outside a DWP office – and the impact of the English NHS privatisation currently going on with a nod from New Labour and no opposition.

Further I wish to express my concern with regards the information from medical and dental friends of the dismemberment of the NHS currently going on within the English NHS reorganisation and the silence of Scottish Labour on the impact this will have on the Scottish NHS provision under the current Barnett consequentials. What is happening in NHS England will create a further reduction of the current Scottish pocket money. At the same time the Westminster Government’s blind eye to the LIBOR fixing in the City of London has further increased the burden of PFI across the NHS in the UK as a whole and is set to take the Scottish PFI liability to near £40 billion in NHS Scotland alone. It also appears that the annual PFI liabilities run up by Scottish Labour councils prior to 2007, with a nod from New Labour, now exceeds the annual amount proportioned in the Scottish pocket money from Westminster to run said councils.

The UK Tory policy which is really making my blood run cold in its lack of any human decency is the continued relationship between ATOS and the DWP, which I believe is on its way across the border. Especially when it comes to ESA assessments. The attitude of the Westminster Government is clear where there is no action taken when a DWP office is evacuated because of fire and the staff leaves a wheel chair bound interviewee stuck on the second floor. There are now enough cases, one raised by Michael Meecher MP in the UK Parliament, of the callous disregard of Mr Duncan-Smith’s DWP to an interviewee’s actual state of health. Most recently I was made aware of a lady, an ex-solicitor who worked in the City of London, who has a very aggressive form of rheumatoid disease and was forced to attend an interview at a DWP office, even though she was in an acute phase of her condition and had both liver and kidney failure. She was told if she did not attend in person the DWP would stop her benefits. According to the lady she went into full kidney failure and could not control her bladder and sat for thirty minutes releasing a mix of blood and urine before finally her husband called an ambulance. Even then she was told if she left in the ambulance she would lose her benefit.

I know you are a compassionate man and I find it hard to believe you can support such inhumane, unfeeling and insensitive policies crossing the border into Scotland and the ultimate madness of Westminster’s neoliberal, junk bond theory of austerity. All this while the members at Westminster who are paid by the taxpayer and seeking a further increase, can draw down massive personal tax payer subsidies, are fed and watered at Westminster by taxpayer subsidies and whose political and Whitehall staff can only be retained by further tax payer subsidies. I understand from UK national dailies that Mr Osbourne has just pocketed a cool £450,000 of taxpayers’ money with a variant on a ‘house flip’ – a good example to us all, no doubt, in this time of austerity.

You believe in the Union and I now think otherwise – Westminster’s approach to the Welfare State and NHS ensure that. In this we can agree to differ but I can not see how you can thole policies from an out of touch elite in Westminster, whether red, yellow or blue Tories, which cut to the quick of Scotland’s 500 years of legal responsibility for the richer of any parish towards the poor and destitute. Fundamental to Scottish Presbyterianism is the concept that we are our brother’s keeper, a concept which lies even deeper than the legislation of the 16th Century in what it means to be a Scot.

Mr Brown, are you more bound to English Gold and Westminster’s Augean Stables than you are to the best interests of Scotland? Do you consider destroying Labour’s greatest achievement, the Welfare State and NHS, worth it to pay over £100 billion for a weapon of mass destruction to keep New Labour ‘in’ with the home counties folk? As shadow Defence Minister you, more than most, must know what a load of old keech Trident is - unusable, unsuitable and sucking the very life from Her Majesty’s Conventional Armed Forces.
Yours faithfully,

Monday, 17 December 2012

It's just not funny ...

What can only be described as a massacre of children in the USA, an estimated 30,000 more UK citizens descend into fuel poverty, UK disabled are being forced to work by flawed testing and ATOS' need to make a profit, children are blown to pieces in Damascus by the Syrian Air Force, famine stalks Africa - again; yet Nic Clegg gets BBC air time saying he is going to stop free bus passes for English millionaire pensioners while in the background his chancellor appears to have ripped off the British taxpayer (again) to the tune of nearly half a million pounds by house flipping and his prime minister is throwing his toys out the pram over Europe to try to stop Tory zenophobes from deserting to UKIP.

Ho, ho ..... bloody ho, indeed!

Be of good cheer .... just why?

Much as I wish Scotland was not part of this blighted and failed UK Union we are still part and, whether we like it or not, Clegg, Cameron, Osbourne, Milliband and the rest are our government. We can duck the issue by saying, 'Ah but - we did not vote for them.' but they represent the current Union's political power and our national government in the eyes of the world. Cue mass hand-wringing.

I am as frustrated over this state of affairs as anyone else but I am not willing to hide behind the 'We'll vote yes in 2014' paper bag. What happens if it comes to the worst and Scotland says 'No' and we remain lumbered with the Westminster morass and cesspit as our national government?

As much as I support the Yes campaign, its positive message and unpicking of the Unionist smears and fears campaign it makes sense over the next two years to keep the pressure on our MPs at Westminster in a manner we have never achieved, mainly through our own previous indifference. It is not enough, even, to let SNP MP's off the hook; as was seen in the arrogant address to the SNP Conference by Angus Robertson, who was close to making an assumption too far and losing the vote.

We need to pay attention to the goings on in Westminster as never before and on behalf of all UK citizens we must make our views known to the Scottish MPs that the intended slash and burn of the NHS model across the UK and the Welfare provision must stop now. It is the least we can do to help our real neighbours in England and Wales.

I am not sure if I would have enough energy for a letter a day like Keith Ordinary Guy from Bath or Katy Manchant but we must take some action. For me, annoying my local Labour MP once a month will be fine, even better if another thousand a month contacted him - he is, after all deputy defence shaddow, with the emphasis on shaddow, and could do with being highly annoyed and irritated.

How about it? Are you up for an approach to the problem of an unrepresentative Westminster with a much soft rain loosens the Unionist marbles?

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Crystal Balls ....

Let's look into our crystal ball and imagine Scotland votes 'yes' in 2014:

1. The Scottish Government will then move a bill in the Scottish Parliament, based on the considered will of the Scottish people, to withdraw from the 1707 Treaty of Union on a given date - expected to be Autumn 2016 - only then is the Union ended

2. As Westminster's UK legal and constitutional powers only have force within the Treaty of Union, with the date set for the cessation of the 1707 Treaty of Union the English Parliament will have to be reconvened to negotiate the agreement over the shares of assets, credits and debits between Scotland and England as the UK Westminster Parliament has no legal or constitutional power in relations to changes, ammendments or alterations to the 1707 Treaty of Union (Lord Cooper, 1953, McCormack vs the Lord Advocate)

3. In effect if Scotland votes 'yes' in 2014, the 2015 elections become the first elections to the reconvened English Parliament, an end of Scottish MP's at Westminster and closure of the Scottish Office. West Lothian question permanently sorted.

4. The 2012 Edinburgh Agreement commits both the Scottish and English Governments to complete the process of closure of the UK Parliament, settlement and disbursements to either country by Autumn 2016.

5. Once the Acts of both sovereign parliaments agreeing to the conditions of Scotland's withdrawal from the Treaty of Union are brought into law, formally ending the Union, only then does the EU and its posturing become an issue.

6. Because Scotland is a representative democracy where the people, not the crown or parliament, are sovereign any decision to join / continue membership of the EU will have to be put to a plebiscite because it effects the people's sovereignty. Here Mr Breslin is right. The more the political wonks and their assorted media chums from the London bubble try to make EU membership an 'issue', the more the EU Barrosso's act shiftily dancing like the 'Walrus and the Carpenter' the more likely are the Scots to turn to the EU and say, thanks but no thanks. We have just left a Union which was failing us economically and politically so why would we wish to join an EU with the same inherent faults as the Union we have just got out of?

Simples ...... 

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Politicians live on Pluto ...

I know Pluto is not a real planet in modern astronomical parlance but just maybe that can also be said of Westminster - it is not a real democracy. Yet two negatives create a positive and therefore can assumed to be real (yes; I know. Its that maths / physics thing again) so in terms of having a real existence the most logical place for the Westminster Parliament is on Pluto. The even more interesting out come of this logical train of mathematical logic is: Westminster being a plutocracy, where better for it to be than to be on Pluto (With me so far? Good ).

The problem is the word plutocracy is derived from the ancient god of underground wealth Plutus, who protected wealthy mine owners from disaster in Roman times, rather than Pluto(n), the older Greek version, who looked after those who descended into the afterlife. It is interesting to note that no one knows which 'god' the Roman slaves in the mines prayed to as they were worked to death in around eighteen months, on average; most probably their prayer was just a general 'Oh any god, get me out of here'. In turn this rather puts in place Nadinne Norris' entry in to the Australian underworld where, sadly, she will come out of there but hopefully to a P45 from her electorate - one can but dream. I digress.

We can be sure that Westminster is a plutocracy as 78% of our our 'democratically' elected Westminster MPs are in fact millionaires, according to a recent survey. Thus Westminster is in fact ruled by the wealthy and so meets the definition of being a plutocracy - quite neatly. Now if Westminster was on the most massive dwarf planet in our Solar system we could to all extents and purposes ignore it given it not being a real democracy and it being on not a real planet. A Plutonic Westminster,  given how long it takes wireless signals to reach Pluto, would have some sort of excuse for being behind the times. Unfortunately the real Westminster has no such excuse, it is just simply out of touch with reality.

This still leaves the majority of folk under the thrall of Westminster stuck in a debt underworld, leaving us digging away like Roman slaves so the plutocrats can have their wealth and eat it while we, the slaves, are ground down into insensibility and get to the point, as victims often do, of blaming ourselves for our own fate and condition. Thus we have Plutus for the parliamentarians and their banker pals - lining their pockets at our expense - whilst we plebs are stuck with Pluto - unremitting gloom, despair and no future of anything better - we are the electoral undead.

So what is the moral of this Greeko-Roman tragedy?

There can be no platonic relationship with this pusilaneous, Plutonic Parliament ... someone just get me out of here.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Neimoller's Law of Diminishing Freedoms

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a minister in the Lutheran Church in the late 1920's and 1930's. Within two days of Hitler's rise to the Chancellorship in 1933 he made a speech warning the Germans were not electing a 'fuher' but a 'verfuher' (a mis-leader). Along with Martin Neimoller he set out to oppose the Nazification of the German Church by non-violent means having been inspired by the success of Ghandi in India. He failed as the German Church did little to support his and Neimoller's campaign of civil disobedience. Eventually Bonhoeffer was implicated in an Abwher plot to rid Germany of Hitler and sent to the Flossenburg concentration camp in 1943. He was hanged just 45 days before the end of the war in Europe.

His good friend Martin Neimoller survived, having been imprisoned in 1937 for activities against the state, but unlike Bonhoeffer survived Dachau Concentration Camp. Neimoller wrote these damning lines about himself and his fellow Germans and their slavish following of or blind eye turning to the activities of the Nazis. Neimoller admitted to have, at first, trusted Hitler having been promised by Hiltler, personally, that there would be no pogroms against the Jews in Germany. His Conservative tendencies lead him towards tacit support of  the right wing policies of the Nazis against which he only slowly turned during the 1930's as the discrepancies between what Hitler said and did, became ever greater. He later said, "I am paying for that mistake now; and not me alone, but thousands of other persons like me." It is in this context his famous poem should be read:
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

In the UK we are looking at a Government and political system at Westminster whose policies and activities are increasingly, to many, equally as abhorent as those of the Nazis:

               We may not have concentration camps:
               We have 'sink estates' where the undesirables are all put. 
               We may not have selective euthanasia: 
               We are seeing the defacto 'criminalisation' of the disabled,
               sick and mentally ill.
               We may not have a police state:
               We do see cover ups of fraud and child abuse at the highest levels.
               We stay silent and shake our heads in dismay:
               We do not take action and so democracy dies.

Whether you are a Bonhoeffer who sees what is happening or a Neimoller who is slowly starting to turn against the neo-liberal policies of those running this country, may I suggest the time to pretend this is not happening has long gone. It is time for us all to find our inner Ganhdi and take on this out of control Westminster behemoth by peaceful means - stopping paying the BBC License Fee would be a start, taking our country back from those who abuse our democracy, our rights and freedoms, in our name would be even better.

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Burden of Rememberance ...

Phew, another year and another 'Rememberance' month negotiated. Not negotiated as well as I had hoped but I am still here. My problem is not the 'remembering' part - that has a daily basis - but not letting it get to me. For most of the year this is not hard to do but as soon as the 'Poppy collecting' starts then the media of all shapes becomes engrossed in the whole process, usually focussing on the First War which is now virtually historical in its context. People, like me, in their late 50's may well have had Granddad's who saw action between 1914 and 18 who had their medals stashed away in a shoe box, as a means of hiding their experiences away. It was only after their death you began to get the slightest idea of what they had done.

For them, and an extent my own father's generation from the Great War 'part two' (as he called it), there was just the day, there was no four week media fest of misrepresentation and down right ignorance to drag the month down and rub at psychological wounds. There was no politicisation of the 'Poppy' its fundamental purpose was to raise money for the Haig Fund in Scotland and Royal British Legion in England and Wales. The funding was then used to help servicemen, their families, veterans and their dependents in time of need.

For me, Rememberance Day is linked to mental breakdowns and a descent into the abyss of self harm and suicide. As the media cranks up its pathos and stories of heroics my psyche descends into recrimination, guilt and self hate - I doubt I am alone amongst those who have seen active service feeling like this. Some one out of every three who have seen 'active service' or its aftermath will have to live with the impact of Combat Stress to a greater or lesser extent. I have stood on the edge of plunging into that abyss on two occasions - both directly as the outcome of the lead up to Rememberance Day, the most recent in November 2009.

This year, as the usual misinformed rubbish about the UK Military, past and present, was bandied about, the usual sense of anger and frustration slowly came to the boil with in me. It did not matter whether it was the sanctimonious hypocrisy of a Cameron or the ill informed bleating of peacenicks the impact is the same - people please shut up because you do not know what you are talking about, you have not been there, folk who have, have and fundamentally they would prefer not to talk about it in public where their voice can be twisted to suit which ever public spin, pro or anti war, is required. Take it from me -  I doubt there is any one in the military who has seen active service would wish to be there again. Bullets only fly when politicians screw up, the politicians you all elect by default with either a cross or an abstention at the ballot.

As long as the UK electorate continues to go along with a party political system in which a minority government (in terms of vote share) is in fact a dictatorship in action, which can ignore the wishes of the House of Commons, this is not going to change.

You want to put an end to UK Military Adventures? 

First you will have to put an end to the Westminster system of Government but please stop using the deaths, wounds and disablements of the UK Military to hide behind, as represented by the Poppy Collection and the 11th of November, in your own cowardice - they were just doing the job your elected representatives told them to do on your behalf whether you are a war monger or a peacenick.

Until then "j' accuse" all sides of veteran's abuse for political ends.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

What Does Important mean?

Obama now has a further term in the Whitehouse - for good or bad dependening whether you think everyone should be able to access basic health care in the USA or you are Donald Trump railing at the fact even his billions could not buy Mittens the Presidency and calling for revolution against the undemocratic electoral college system used in the presidential election. Donald, like bullies everywhere, does not do irony.

The BBC spent a small fortune shifting Dimbleby clones across to Washington for the event because of the 'importance' of this election. The question is important to who? The pointy heads in the Tories and New Labour probably thought it 'important' and clearly the scourge of the ill health shysters, Ian Duncan Smith, thought it 'important'. So 'important' did he think this election was, he chided the UK as a country for our instinctive dislike of Mitt Romney's apparent message of: "Its OK to shaft the poor, they do not count for much." Maybe what Ian Duncan Smith really did not like is the increasing awareness that his DWP and ATOS are now out Mitt Romneying, Mitt Romney in the untrammled swathe of destruction for families across the UK which his continuation of a New Labour policy on incapacity benefit is now creating - but I digress.

I ponder at how much the BBC's coverage of the Presidential Race has cost those who still pay their license fee. For a start 6 hours of live airtime / sattelite from the US can not be that cheap, throw in the silly money the Dimbleby clones will be paid, plus travel, plus accomodation, studio time and all the rest and you come up with a program cost of in excess of £1 million - no doubt the guest 'experts' also had their palms greased with an appropriate fee, in the land of the free where everything is charged for. This from a BBC that has already decided the Scottish Referendum is not important enough to cover, neither are the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. So it is important to throw money at a big jamboree in the USA but not to the potentially constitutional break up of the Union and the BBC itself. I am probably not alone in wondering what and how the BBC define 'important'.

The more we hear about Westminster's approach to the independence referendum and its potential consequences the more you are left with a sense that it is a head in the sand methodology based on the premise if Westminster ignores Scotland's pretendy referendum it will just go away. The Westminster parties' pointy heads and their politicians have fallen for their own line of Scotland being too wee, too poor, too stupid to ever to vote 'Yes' to breaking up the Union. As part of this process, just like their propaganda arm the BBC, they think by reducing their financial provision in Scotland they will show us who is boss and cow us into submission. The BBC takes financing away from BBC Scotland while Westminster does it by cutting the Scottish budget by 3% per annum in real terms and introducing further cuts via the backdoor of Barnet consequentials. The message is: This is what happens when you Scots get uppitty - we take back your pocket money. Somehow these Westminster politicians and their wonks believe this is the way to 'save the Union' by making an already disgruntled section of the UK electorate even more disgruntled. Where is the logic in a campaign that is, in effect, saying: 

Stay in the Union and get even less of your Scottish taxes, than you do at present, in return?

But we will still refer to you as 'subsidy junkies'. Yet even the New Statesman is struggling to accept the subsidy junky Scotland line, in a piece on the 6th of November James Maxwell wrote:  

"But why should Unionists let the economic facts ruin the image they have built up of Scotland as a nation of selfish, indulged welfare "mendicants"?The subsidy myth is too politically useful to be simply abandoned. Of course, if they ever do come to terms with the reality that Scotland could survive on its own - and even prosper - it will probably be too late anyway."

 This week has seen New Labour's Scottish peons in even greater straights as Lamont has been forced into accepting the London line on everything from Trident to privatising the NHS (which begs the question just what does Jim Murphy mean by 'autonomous leader with their own policies'). Every Thursday Lamont comes forth with more unsubstantial bilge prepared for her by London focussing on personal attacks on 'Wee Eck'. Gordon Brown asks his 20 questions - no where near any parliament, he is above that - all of which were answered by Professor Gavin McCrone in his 1974 secret report, including the line, ' independent Scotland will be cash rich and have a hard currency.' Clearly Gordon can not be bothered to read the economic report that has predicated the 'Scottish Subsidy Junky' cover up for all these years. Apparently Scotland was more than paying its way all through the 1960's, according to news paper reports of the era covering the Church of Scotland's concerns about the excess money being taken south, out of the Scottish economy, never to be seen in Scotland again.

In Westminster we saw the biggest Unionist gaff of the week when the 'set piece' debate on Scotland's place in the EU never happened. It appeared the Scottish Region Labour MP who was to lead the debate was late / didn't get her speech printed / was ill / hung over / pulled by New Labour at the last minute - so the great defining debate that was going to put those uppity Scots in their place on the EU never happened. It could not have been because of the circulation of a House of Commons paper, on the internet, concerning the status of Scotland and Scots in the EU that explained there was no EU process in place to expel, from the EU, people who were aleady EU citizens, as a direct result of the Maastricht Treaty which rendered the purpose of the debate, to embarrass the SNP, null and void. 

No, that would be just too cynical ..... but actually not that surprising. When looking for 'subsidy junkies' maybe ATOS should start on the MP's, as the Dennis McShane case is once again exemplifying, and I wonder just how many of the MP's would be fit for 'other work' rather than relying on hand outs from the taxpayers.. subsidised food, drink, travel ..... add your own as you think of more examples for yourself.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Conserving Independence Momentum - the physics

Energy equals half the mass multiplied by the square of the velocity of any given body - so says the universal law on momentum, with the previso the object is in a vacuum and is not hit or effected by any other object.

If the energy in this momentum equation is the energy required to achieve a 'Yes' vote in 2014 then velocity becomes political leadership and mass becomes the electorate.

What pure physics tells us is that nothing actually happens in a vacuum of the sort the Newtonian physics of momentum requires because of stuff like gravitational pull, friction and collisions are constantly impacting on momentum in the real world. What pure physics (quantum mechanics and its fellow travellers) has established, and where Newton was spot on, is that Energy is always conserved.

So what has this got to do with the independence debate?

Like Newtonian phsyics many of us would prefer the independence referendum and debate to take place in a vacuum with no other disturbances as it would make things so much easier to predict, linear with less chance of external events interfering with the momentum and taking energy out of it. One example would be the impact on the Newtonian momentum of independence the recent MSP defection over the SNP stance on NATO has caused and the energy lost through the impact on the mass by naval gazers. Some worry about the impact on velocity (leadership) this stramash has caused while working within this linear construct the Bitter Together campaign seeks to remove all the leadership velocity it can by attacking what it sees as the leadership of  the independence movement - Alex Salmond (aka Wee Eck).

The problem with the 'Bitter Together' approach is it fails to address the problems to the Newtonian  relationship on momentum caused by quantum mechanics view of velocity. This states velocity can be expressed in many different forms depending on the external forces acting on it. In effect by the 'Bitter Together' camp solely attacking the Wee Eck velocity vector (WEv) they are ignoring all the other vectors that make up the overall leadership velocity component of the Independence Momentum (IE) which we can call Vmax (Vmax) and is made up of multiple velocities for example:

Blair Jenkins(BJv),
Dennis Cavanagh (DCv),
Nicola Sturgeon, (NSv)

and the others like:

John Grogan (JGv),
STUC for Independence (STUCv),
the Greens (Gv),
the SSP (SSPv)
and non aligned others (Xv)

and still in the closet:

Libdems and Conservatives (CLCv).

It is clear that Vmax is the sum of many different velocity (leadership) vectors all adding together to drive the independence velocity vector (Vmax) in one direction.

What the mathematics of vectors also makes clear that unless the opposing vector is acting straight against WEv then its impact is dissappated by the angle of attack and the amount of opposing velocity applied. As Bitter Together's velocity (BTv) acts on fairly oblique angle with little real velocity the impact on WEv is small in any case and the impact on Vmax is negligible. It appears mathematically that: 

As Vmax >> WEv >> BTv : means Vmax - (BTv-WEv) = Vmax; 

Thus it could be argued that even when (BTv - WEv) is close to zero there is no actual impact of the Bitter Together campaign in terms of the overall leadership velocity Vmax.

So we can consider Vmax is a constant for the purposes of the independence argument.

The problem with the electoral mass for independence is it is currently a variable of between 37% and 51% of the available electoral mass depending on how it is measured, with a mean of 44.5%.

Using these outer parameters for electoral mass as the first deviation limit (+1) in the electoral Bell Curve relating to independence. We can then apply the laws of mathematical probablilty to this problem and calculate the tipping point when independence electoral mass becomes critical. This value works out at 40% of group mass in statistical work carried out on random groups and their acceptance of change that ensures change occurs.

So if the electoral mass is greater than 40% for independence and Vmax remains a constant then there will be sufficient momentum to reach independence when:

 IE =  M>40%/2.Vmax squared.

In other words folks if each of us changes one 'mibee's aye; mibees naw' to a yes or one No to a Yes then independence is inevitable because you cannae whack quantum mechanics.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Why there can be no 'Reasoned' debate on the referendum

 If you read the London based print or listened to the broadcast media and replaced the word Scots with Afro-Carribean  you could watch the 'usual' PC police coming out in a rash complaining of racism. Have a look at the racist comments about Scots prevelant in the Guardian - the blatant ignorance and racism of posters of London and the SE is an eye opener.

Just because Scots have been viewed by the SE of England like this since Samuel Johnson's day does not make it right - "A Scotchman on the make", the Punch cartoons of Victorian Times about Scottish meanness and slyness, the miserable Scot, the drunken Scot - the memes in the English thought on who Scots are continue on to this day. It is seen in the London media's descriptions of  Alex Salmond, whose party secured an out right mandate in a system that is supposed to make this impossible, who had 45% of the active vote in 2011 - yet still many English journalists and posters have shown little respect for the wishes of the people of Scotland.

By voting for the SNP majority at Holyrood we are deemed stupid, silly, vengeful, niave, destructive, selfish by posters in any SE media blog on the subject of independence. We, the Scots electorate, are treated as if we are little children. Yet it is the English electorate who should be worrying, who fail to recognise the City of London economy will either fly apart in an economic supernova or consume the English economy like a red dwarf when the debt bubble it relies on runs out of steam, once and for all. 2008 should be seen as a warning to the English economy of the risk of putting everything in one economic basket and a need to rebalance but the mistakes made then are just being repeated all over again.

The people of Scotland see a very different economic model based on a balanced economy which will sustain our historical sense of social kinship, embedded in the Scottish way for over 1,000 years, reflected in our 20th century socialism and seeing a rebirth in our 21st century social democracy. Ignorance on either side is generating the inate anger but the refusal of the media, especially in the SE of England, to respect Scotland needs to do things differently, is a major driver of the growing anger in Scotland.

By the way which Scottish police force has been asked to investigate Eck for a racist comment and do you think they will give much thought to it as it is clearly a vexatious claim?

Have you never read 'Lord Snooty' in the Beano / Dandy?

So that will be DC Thomson's in the prosecution box in Scotland as well ..... donors to the Tory party in Scotland ... nice one the Tory who thought this one up. There are a number of UK cartoonists that will have to be prosecuted as well who portray Cameron as Little Lord Fauntelroy ....

What this really shows is just how pathetic the anti-Scotland brigade are getting, how fearful they are and how empty their arguments for their SE England dominated Union are.

Panicing already with nearly two years to go .... I ask you.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Integrity - what's it useful for - nothing! Think again...

There is something bothering me over the politics concerning the Scottish withdrawal from the Union Treaty and it is the perceived and actual lack of any reasoned debate. What passes for debate is more related to gangs in the primary school playground and the 'My Dad's bigger than your Dad' megaphone ranting.  This is routinely followed by the 'Oh yes he is: Oh no he's not.' political pantomime performance on 'prestigious' media programs which are deemed 'prestigious' by the makers of the programs and the political pantomime performers themselves. Yet according to other self appointed judges in the media circus which follows the political pantomime around it is true, these programs are 'prestigious'. Here, in a nutshell, is the fundamental problem with any debate and its follow up coverage; the lunatics are running the asylum. The result is a total disregard for the integrity of the information being placed in the public purview as the 'message' or 'being on message' is the yardstick by which political performance is measured by both the pantomime players and the media circus which follows it around. All political media and presentational output is heavily censored so we only hear what it is agreed we should hear - a situation which lacks any integrity at which ever level you care to look at it.

Is integrity important as it is so roundly abused?

To answer this question we need to remind ourselves just what the term 'integrity' is defined as meaning: 


  • the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles:  
    a gentleman of complete integrity
  • the state of being whole and undivided: 
    upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty
  • the condition of being unified or sound in construction: 
    the structural integrity of the novel
  • internal consistency or lack of corruption in electronic data: 
      [as modifier]: integrity checking


late Middle English (in integrity (sense 2)): from French intégrité or Latin integritas, from integer 'intact' (see integer). Compare with entirety, integral, and integrate
Link to Oxford On Line Dictionary.

In terms of the political argument I am using integrity to exemplify the condition of being sound in construction. Yet as we are used to being forced fed a diet of half truths, distorions and misrepresentations from our politicians why should I get all upset about what I see as a lack of integrity surrounding the argument about withdrawal from the Treaty of Union and a return of a Scottish independent state and nation?

Surely the Scottish people deserve more than playground cat calling and hair pulling which is manifest at present because it is unrelated to how Scots view themselves as being fundamentally honest and moral people. The Scots as a people see themselves as having 'integrity, an integrity that is based on our inherent social democratic leanings, the idea and practice that we care for those around us in the community directly through voluntary work or indirectly through taxes and the widespread benefits they deliver from the NHS via care for our elderly, education all the way to the safety net that restricts the level of poverty amongst the worst off in our society.

This sense of 'integrity' with in the Scottish community of the realm is not a modern phenomenon. It has its base in Scottish social history and the operation of kinship / Clan that preceded the introduction of a more feudal society in the 12th Century which had little impact on the loyalty of kinship or Clan and the obligations associated with it. This sense of kinship only died in rural areas of Scotland as the land owners (the clan chiefs, the titled nobles and landed gentry of Scotland) became absentee landlords and left the running of the estates to factors who were expected to turn a profit. In Scotland's burghs the system of quasi 'kinship' of belonging to the burgh still operated with poor relief run by the guilds in concert with burgh councils and the church. benefactors would endow the creation and running of 'Hospital Schools' for the orphans of guild members or the children of members down on their luck. In Edinburgh two of the better known were George Heriot's Hospital and George Watson's Hospital.

This communal sense of  Scottish integrity was also powerful in the early days of the Scottish Trade Union movement and the Independent Labour Party it spawned, integrity was important to those taking part in the Govan rent strikes as it was sixty years later during the Upperclyde Shipbuilder's work in. Integrity is not a class issue in Scotland, it is not about the stiff upper lip (though Calvanism certainly helped promote the concept) and the creation of a leadership class, Scottish integrity is a state of being whole and undivided, a deep rooted sense of kinship - Here's tae us, wha's like us? Guy few an' thir aa deid! Integrity is important to Scots - it has a deep hold on our psyche and a sense of who we are. It is maybe why immigrants find Scotland welcoming; they like and are made to feel part of the Scottish 'kin'. A recent survey carried out on behalf of the Racial Discrimination Board highlighted that while in England most of immigrant stock defined themselves as British Indian, British Pakistani or British Afro-Carribean the same groups north of the border simply defined themsleves as being 'Scottish'. Things are still not completely rosy in the world of Scottish kinship, there remains the curse of the sectarian divide, based less on religion than we might think and more on the need to control others thought inferior or blacklegs and put them in their place. It was about the influx of Irish immigrants and their negative impact on wages that fueled this divide: a divide made worse by the Trade Unions demonisation of the immigrant Irish - their religious difference was by mere happen chance.

Integrity still matters. It has a big say in why the SNP have such sizable support at present. It is why Scottish people invest greater trust in Holyrood than Westminster it is increasingly why more and more Scots are turning against Westminster rule to seek autonomy at least and independence if there is no other option and it is at this point I return to the political playground cat calling which passes as reasoned debate and the associated media circus. The Scots are recognising the lack of integrity in both the political classes and the media. Newspapers that used to be the voice of the Scottish nation are in circulation freefall which has little to do with the internet and a lot to do with a product that is playing an old fashioned political game, still popular at Westminster, which Scots have grown tired of. The BBC, once a bastion for informed, balanced news and current affairs, has become a parody of itself in Scotland with a satirical spoof website often being confused for the real thing. They have lost the trust of the Scottish people, these media organisation in Scotland are not seen to have much, if any, integrity.

This lack of integrity is increasingly why the 'No' campaign is failing. There is little or no integrity in a campaign that tells Scots of all shapes and sizes we are 'scroungers' and 'benefit junkies' who are too poor, too wee and too stupid to run our own country when in the current economic conditions with one hand tied behind its back by Westminster the Scottish Government are performing better in sustaining Scotland's economy than Westminster is doing for the UK as a whole. Where is the integrity in a campaign that stays quiet about the £11,200 per head of UK Government subsidy to London and the SE and whines about the £9,400 per head Scotland gets of which only around 45% makes it across the Scottish border the rest is deducted at source to pay for Union benefits like Defence, Borders Agency or the Scottish Office (Wales is £9,300 and the English regions outside London and the SE is £9,200, Northern Ireland is a whopping £11,400 according to recent National Audit Office figures). Over the last 14 days we have seen these same messages of Scottish incompetence broadcast by both New Labour and the Conservative's Scottish regions with the cheery underpinning message of 'If you do not vote 'No', Scotland's doomed' (though less noise has been made of the other 'No' Campaign 'truth' - even if you vote 'No', Scotland's doomed).

The SNP are no plaster saints either. They are keeping quiet about the legal and constitutional fact that Westminster has neither the legal nor consitutional powers to offer Scotland Devo-max or Full Fiscal Autonomy as to do so fundamentally alters the Treaty of Union. Such a fundamental alteration to the Treaty of Union can only be made by the original signatories - the sovereign parliaments of Scotland and England. The SNP have floated a devo-max carrot to fence sitting Scots to keep them happy, knowing it was a non-starter as a sovereign English Parliament would not see any advantage in creating a new confederal UK constitution as it would, at a stroke, end all the current constitutional shenanigan's hidden behind the claims of Westminster's 'unlimited sovereignty'. Why would the English wish to associate themselves with a bunch of 'Scottish subsidy junkies' in a clear case of Westminster propaganda, friendly fire. Even worse, an English neo-liberal government (either red or blue) that would be faced in a confederal union with a bunch of 'Scottish subsidy junkies' who, under FFA, could easily afford the welfare and healthcare system the current Westminster government claims is unaffordable for Scotland and England.

Yet where the SNP are strongest is when they are speaking with integrity whether on Scotland's reusable power or on the key contributions to the UK Treasury Scotland makes with around 40% of positive foreign exchange reliant on Scottish exports worldwide or the future of the Scottish Sector Oil and Gas fields and the potential development of untapped reserves.

To Scots, integrity still matters

Sunday, 7 October 2012

SNP-CND; What point are they making?

The SNP Policy on nuclear power and weapons has seen no change and as a result of the outcome of the debate on NATO will not be changed. SNP Policy, whether inside or outside NATO, is the removal of both nuclear weapons and nuclear power from Scotland. The SNP's policy is simple; Scotland is to be nuclear free just as quickly as possible. Wee Eck restated this as an unmoveable point of policy and principle for the SNP now and after independence when he spoke at Princes Street Gardens. The anti-nuclear stance is also a fundamental stance of individuals and parties signed up to the 'Yes' campaign.

The move to change the SNP Policy on NATO is whether a Scotland (free of nuclear weapons) should take its place in NATO on this singular and unmoveable condition - which is the same nuclear weapon free conditions as Norway and other Scandinavian NATO members hold currently and the Belgians, Dutch and Germans are pushing for.

The reality is that whether Scotland is inside or outside NATO its defence forces will still have to work and operate alongside NATO forces, as much of NATO's core defence purpose is in parallel to the needs of our nation. The future SDF will be NATO compatible in all major respects as it is in our best interests to be so - whether the SNP-CND group like this or not.

As the United Services Institute (a military think tank) have already pointed out; a nuclear free, independent Scotland means the end of any UK based strategic nuclear weapon system, as without access to Faslane and Coulport, Trident, its warheads and the related submarines have nowhere to go. This surely meets meets CND's primary aim for a nuclear weapon free Britain whether an independent Scotland joins NATO or not?

Membership of NATO is up there with membership of the EU as a tent pissing competition - is it better to be outside or inside the tent? 

This should be decided on the objectively evidenced benefit to the people of Scotland and not on the current emotional hagiography and misinformation by both sides inside the SNP which passes as informed  debate.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

One Angry Man

There are occasions in life when your best intentions get swept away and you give in and do something down right stupid. Yesterday my good intentions to ignore the Neo-Labour Conference from Manchester collapsed. I had promised myself I would give it a miss. I knew, as a member of a generation brought up on tales of Hardy, Maxton and McLean by both Grandfathers, it would probably just cause me huge upset and annoyance at a party they saw as a great hope for the underclass, the unseen and the unheard being revealed as a self serving, back patting bunch of 'me too' Tories.

The Manchester Conference took me back to the days of hiding behind the sofa when the Daleks came on. Here were a bunch of mechanical androids standing there, smiling, while spouting the political equivalent of 'We will exterminate' from a script written weeks before which faled in all respects to address any voter concerns. The rest of the Daleks in the audience woodenly returned the same cry - We will exterminate - which was all fine and dandy until you realised just what it was they were exterminating: the NHS, benefits, in fact the very welfare state they claim to champion.

Clearly the Neo-Labour Daleks had so frightened the media with threats of 'extermination' that the media could do little else than applaud the bravery of the Daleks for going against their founding principles or maybe the Daleks had put something in their tea, as clearly not one was able to raise the serious question - what the hell are you on about?

Yet, if you believe the media (noting my caveat they may have been intimidated or drugged), the Daleks are a benign power for good, we should vote for them to keep us safe from ... and that is where I lost it. The core message from the Neo-Labour Daleks appears to be; they do mass extermination better and in a kinder way than the real Daleks. My brain, jammed full of socialist ideas and idealism by my grandfather's just could not take anymore. A crushing anger came over me, the violence of my soul which I had long controlled with Buddhist style pacification could take no more, I wanted to wipe out every last Dalek before they wiped the last humans from Britain. My angry mind asked just where were the Brighton Hotel Bombers, the Guy Faukes, the Luddites or the Edinburgh rioters of yore when you really needed them.

This is what being part of the Union is about, being ruled by Daleks with no chance of rescue by Dr Who, Why or Whatever as they suck the Union dry for their own benefit. It made me so angry that it appears my fellow humans, by and large, think this is fair - so brainwashed have they become to Dalek excesses.

The only answer I could come up with, at first, was to wipe out their command centres in London but lacking a ten megatonne nuclear weapon to hand rather made that a bit pointless - then it came to me. Daleks do not thrive that well in Scotland, there are fewer here and maybe, just maybe humans in Scotland are not so brainwashed as those in England ..... and that remains my big hope ..... there is a way to rid Scotland of the Daleks once and for all.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Ane Blast agin the monstrous regiment o' religious nutters

Religion is based on the unsubstantiative belief that super natural agencies (god or gods) exist. To justify their existence as being 'real', religions create a set of stories and rules to justify the power of these supernatural agencies. Many of which are claimed to be 'true' but have little actual objective evidence to support them.

Ultimately all religions are a construct of which ever power group takes control and enforces their particular view of what their religion is and routinely, violently oppresses any contrary view point to this 'orthodox opinion'. At some point in this process the influence of the 'supernatural being' is transmuted into what the dominant human beings say is the 'supernatural beings' view point while routinely ignoring key policies claimed to be set by the 'supernatural being' in the first place on some form of 'pick and mix' basis.

The Christian's paradox is the command in their new covenant from the Judeo-Christian supernatural power to 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' A supernatural command they still do not have the hang off after 2000 years as they continue to murder and denigrate other Christians and human beings because, in essence, they do not believe in the right way or, worse, point out the major flaws / dichotomies in their religion's application of its supernatural beings commands. Some of the appointed leaders actions appear strange in religions where money is shunned as the root of all evil yet so many of the 'priests and preachers' have managed to get a hold of a lot for themselves - its a miracle! (For Christian put in any other religion you wish and the paragraph still works).

If I was a supernatural being I would have given up on this bunch of all time loosers a long time ago as they prefer to nail folk to trees, burn them at the stake, stone them to death, car bomb them to bits rather than simply try to get along with each other as they continue to violently demonstrate which of them is 'right' about what the 'supernatural being' says actually means.

Politics is not that much different from religion when you think about it - even down to calling on the supernatural being of choice to protect the politicians while they are carrying out the supernatural beings work for them - cue Mitt Romney, Tony Blair, Bin Laden ........

Ultimately it is about personal wealth and power not the good of their communities.