Tuesday, 31 July 2012

This idiots guide to the Scottish constitution - part 1

The seminal concept of Scottish constitutional practice is the right of the people of Scotland to remove their sovereign.  It is a right which has been exercised on at least two famous historical occasions. The forced abdication of Mary, Queen of Scots, which brought about her flight to England and the removal of James the 7th from the Scottish crown based on evidence of James' attempts to usurp the Scottish people's sovereign power to the Scottish crown alone in line with his consideration that he was king by God's will and right.

The key passage of the Declaration of Arbroath is the one that contends that the King of Scotland and his successors are king by contract with the sovereign people and if the crown does not do what it says on the tin, it can be removed by the will of the people.

Originally the will of the people would have been the nobles of the day and it was a way of ensuring Bruce kept to his word. In the years after Bruce's blind siding of the nobles in 1328 at the Parliament of that year when the concept of equal representation and voice of the Nobles, Church and Burghs was introduced by Bruce - the 'Thrie Estaites' wielded a lot of power. Bruce had realised that with out the support of the burghs there would be no finance available to the crown, he needed the church to run the administration and the nobles to provide force majeur when required. So the will of the sovereign people of Scotland was expressed by the 'Thrie Estaites' from early on in the 14th century - with out this support the crown was helpless. Attempts were from time to time made by the crown to get round this restraint on their power but routinely it was blocked.

So from very early on in its history, following the Treaty of Northampton in 1329 which re-secured independence, Scotland could be seen to be what we would now refer to as a representative democracy and more democratic in its political construct than most other Kingdoms at this time.  There were no 'elections' as we would recognise them in the Burghs to decide who represented the Burgh at Parliament. Yet there was a very powerful check and balance, the Burgh mob, who would protest and riot if Parliament tried to enforce Acts and Laws that were not to the mob's liking or infringed what was considered to be their rights and liberties. Given that their lordships and the clergy lived cheek by jowl in the Burghs with the rest of the great unwashed they were not immune to the Burgh mobs'  hue and cry nor, especially in Edinburgh, could they avoid the 'hurley burley' when the Scottish Parliament was in session.

In my own view the position of the Crown in Scotland as one of acclaim rather than right reflects an older tradition of the Picts which the early Scots during their integration with the Picts in the 7th and 10th centuries kept. This was the concept of a rotating Kingship which ensured not one single family could take overall power. This only changed with the rule of Kenneth McAlpin where he took the title of 'Righ an Albanach' and established the idea of succession by primature. According to history he was opposed by the family which became through time the Clan McGregor who were due for 'buggins turn' after McAlpin and who have been whining about this ever since. So the idea of kingship by acclaim was not a revolutionary idea for Scots, it could be viewed as merely a return to what always had been.

With James the 7th during the 'Glorious Revolution' the 'Thrie Estaites' looked again at the contractual notion of Scottish kingship and offered the throne to William and Mary on the basis of the 1689 Claim of Right which was enacted into Scots Law as a statute and remains enacted on the legal books of the UK to this day. In Scottish constitutional terms Elizabeth, Queen of Scots, is on the throne because we the people say so and if we decide the House of Windsor is in breach of its contract they can be got shot of, just like James 7th before them. For example if the Queen ever did publicly say that she did not wish Scotland to be independent (as many of the Unionist persuasion like to claim) she would be acting contrary to the requirements of the 1689 Claim of Right as it is not within her power to decide on this issue nor use her position to influence the decision in any way. Elizabeth, Queen of Scots, must accede to the wishes of the sovereign Scottish people.

Constitutionally it can be argued that as Westminster is a parliamentary democracy where the Royal Sovereignty is held within that parliament, anything her parliament at Westminster decides in her sovereign name with respect to Scotland, which the sovereign people of Scotland oppose, could, in fact, cause her to be removed from her Scottish crown. This major constitutional hurdle for Westminster has always been in place.

The original fudge was the Scottish Grand Committee which was the Scottish people's sovereign voice at Westminster and in turn the Scottish Office whose statutory role is to ensure that no UK Law or Statute conflicts with or effects the core rights of the sovereign Scottish people. A role which in the last four decades it has serially failed to do starting with the Local Government Reorganisation Act (Scotland) of 1973. Fife County Council refused to dissolve itself and when the then Secretary of State for Scotland (Willie Hamilton MP, Labour) tried to enforce Fife's dissolution found himself face to face with this very conundrum when the Queen refused to sign the Order in Council dissolving Fife County Council, as she was upholding and protecting the people's historical rights by refusing. The expected legal challenge from the Secretary of State, in the Court of Session, never came and Fife County Council went on as before simply changing its name to Fife Region as its part of the local government reorganisation.

Some authorities go so far as arguing that the Local Government Reorganisation (Scotland) Act 1973 was unconstitutional. The reason they argue is that the rights, liberties and freedoms of the Scottish Royal Burghs were not Westminster's prerogative, in the form of the Scottish Secretary, to remove as they were individual contracts agreed between the Scottish crown and the burghs and these arrangements were protected under the articles of the 1707 Treaty of Union for all time. If this is true it further indicates why the Scottish crown was less than happy to sign for the demise of Fife and why the Secretary of State, of the day, did not engage in a legal challenge. To do so could well have seen the whole 1973 Act unravelling when it hit this particular legal and constitutional iceberg in the Court of Session.

Then there was Lord Cooper's judgement in McCormack vs the Lord Advocate (1953) where he stated that: " ..... the principle of unlimited sovereignty of parliament is a distinctly English principle and has no counterpoint in Scottish Constitutional Law". Equal importance must also be given to the Lord Advocate's own concession, " admitting the Parliament of Great Britain could not alter or repeal fundamental and essential conditions of the Acts of Union."

As the Acts of Union preserved rights of the Scottish people as being sovereign and is an essential part which can not be changed for all time. Lord Cooper in his 1953 judgement defined 'all time' in the Acts of Union meaning exactly that.

The 1998 Scotland Act had to tread a very difficult line between trying to hold onto as much power and control at Westminster while not raising the spectre of any attempt to usurp the constitutional reality of the people of Scotland being sovereign and the potential impact this could have on Westminster's grip on Scotland. Michael Forsyth clearly had read Lord Cooper's judgment and argued that the potential Scottish Parliament could pass a bill for independence and there would be nothing Westminster could do to stop it because Forsyth understood in Scottish constitutional law and practice the Scottish Parliament would be empowered by the sovereign Scottish people in a way Westminster never was beyond its quasi legal fudges. To ensure pro-Westminster parties would always hold the whip hand the dog's breakfast mix of FTP constituencies and PR lists was cobbled together - another fudge - but Westminster had to concede any bill with a direct impact on Scotland now had to receive the agreement of the Scottish Parliament before it could be enacted. The reality is the much vaunted sections 5 and 30 of the Scotland Act 1998 were more to pacify the MPs because in their scope and direction they were clearly in breach of the people of Scotland's sovereignty as they made claim to the same unlimited sovereignty which Lord Cooper had stated in 1953 had no counter part in Scotland.

Blair had now been shoehorned into signing up to a bill he did not want, detested and wished had failed. The lawyer in him looked at ways Westminster could enforce sections 5 and 30 of the Scotland Act and found there was no appropriate vehicle. To create one the UK Supreme Court was thought up and brought into being. The problem is again this court has no real legitimacy in Scots Law and in fact could be argued to have breached the Treaty of Union by its creation as it threatened the independence of Scots Law. Blair had a couple of tame Scottish Law Lords who agreed to sit on the Court and gave it a degree of assumed legality.

There have now been a number of skirmishes between Scots Criminal Law and the Supreme Court but the real crunch was when the first case under section 5 and 30 of the Scotland Act hit the Supreme Court's desk. All legal expert opinion seemed to say it would be a walk over for AXA et al vs The Scottish Parliament. Under section 5 &30 of the Scotland Act 1998 the Scottish Parliament's Bill on Asbestosis Plaques could not stand as it was clearly at odds with the Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain on the same subject. Much oil was burned in the UK media about the impending embarrassment for Scotland and the humbling of its pretendy parliament. Yet something strange happened, the UK Supreme Court found for the Scottish Parliament. Hidden away in their judgement was the statement that it had no power to set aside any bill, statute or act of the Parliament of Scotland where that bill expressed the clear will of the (sovereign) people of Scotland.

I put the word 'sovereign' in because to ignore the reality of the people of Scotland being sovereign is to ignore what judgement said to Westminster and its parliamentarians over sections 5 & 30 of the Scotland Act 1998 - "Ils c'est passeron pas". Forsyth was correct in the context of his original concern that the Scottish Parliament would become the expression of the people of Scotland's sovereignty and not Westminster - the UK Supreme Court has now said as much.

Blair may have escaped being the Prime Minister who over saw the end of the Union Treaty but he was right in understanding that the Scotland Act 1998 would become the thin end of the wedge. What he did not expect and I doubt any Westminster Parliamentarian expected was the collapse of the Labour vote in Scotland between 2006 and today and an SNP majority Government in Holyrood willing to flex the people of Scotland's sovereignty in the best interests of the people of Scotland.

To those who would argue the people of Scotland being sovereign is a myth, we have no power, it is a piece of ancient history I hope the few examples in this essay give you pause for thought. I would argue our 700 year old history of the people of Scotland's sovereignty is alive and well and continues to protect our fundamental rights as Scottish people to this day.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Bitter Together: 7. Explosive Decompression

7 pm, the Olympic circus was about to start. Around Cambourne, in the East London Olympic Arena, the heads of state had gathered in their seats and executive boxes. Just in front of him sat her Majesty, readied to be the voice of Cambourne's aspirations for his post Olympic 'Great Britain'. A few seats to her "Maj's" right sat that buffoon Boris, London's mayor, who was lining himself up for a tilt at Cambourne's power base, yet a Tory majority in 2015 (and there would be a Tory majority next time) would see Boris' wings singed like those of a moth in a flame and Boris would end up being very lucky to get another term as Mayor of London. Cambourne looked behind him at the serried ranks of Tory ministers, not one of them would have the gumption to challenge Cambourne - they all owed him 'big style'. The Libdems ? They were now electoral toast and New Labour were looking like taking at least another 13 years to differentiate between their collective arse and their elbow. Cambourne was going to be the neoliberal 'Thatcher' of the second decade of the 21st Century. There was only going to be one politician taking home 'Gold for Britain' at these Olympics and it was going to be him. He grasped his wife's hand looking forward to his triumph.

Lennie and Dennie would have been surprised at the lack of 'Mission Impossible' flames and roiling smoke when the explosive charge went off: so well judged by Jimmy 'Fingers' McLure (safe blower to the criminal elite) was the amount of Semtex used. Standing by the pump room door all you would have heard was a sharp crack and all you would have seen is the pump room door flex outwards against its hinges and architrave, then settle back. The flange had been cleanly cut away and now the pump room was filling up with Olympic quantities of water in a way it was never designed to do. It was not long before the alarms were ringing in the Aquatic Centre's control room and the duty controller was initially frozen into disbelief as the pool circulation pumps shut down, one after an other. Worse the gas sensors in the pump room were showing increasingly high readings of the highly dangerous and toxic Chlorine gas. This could only mean one thing, the pump room was flooding. She walked out onto the gallery and looked down, the Olympic pool was emptying, there was no need for fancy sensors when you had two good 'mark 1' eyeballs.

She returned to the consol and shut every valve she could, then contacted the senior engineer, told him what was happening and the potential problem of high levels of Chlorine gas in the pump room if anyone went to inspect the problem, first hand. They agreed she should call the London Fire Service in, as they had the technical expertise to deal with the Chlorine gas levels, and inform the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. Having done all this she headed down to the basement and the pump room to see for herself. As she reached the  basement corridor the pump room door failed and the first of many metric tonnes of water began to break free. She did not know how she got out of the corridor and back to the next level before she was swamped but reckoned she would have beaten the 100m Gold medallist at that moment. The flood of water entered the electrical power room and the Aquatic Centre was plunged into darkness. All that was left to do was to safely evacuate everybody from the building. It was now 7:15 pm.

At 7:30pm a  Reuters journalist got a 'tip off' to look at a 'Your a Tube' posting and then all hell broke loose. The Scottish National Liberation Army were claiming a first strike against the waste of British taxpayers money that was the London Olympics - it was a Semtex, shaped, hollow, demolition charge that had caused the emptying of the Olympic pool - Soar Alba!

At 7:31 pm the operations room at Hereford saw the 'Your a Tube' posting and sent  'Cockleshell' activation codes to their SAS teams in the Scottish Borders.

"It seems we have actually to blow up a mile worth of High Voltage pylons." Dan said in a surprised voice, "Check the code and send the 'confirm' if you agree with the order, Rod."
"Checked and sent 'confirm'. Ours not to question why .... eh?"
"Suppose so, Rod, but it doesn't seem right."
"That's what we do, Dan, things for the UK Government that don't seem right. No one better trained than us to do down and dirty un-right stuff. Better get a bend on if we are going to blow the lot, on schedule, by 8 pm."

The opening ceremony had just got to the series of tableaux that epitomised Cambourne's Britain -  the May Pole, Morris dancing, cricket and the pub on the village green when it became clear something was not right, he was sure the 'players' in the village pub were not supposed to be throwing up all over the place. That is not what Cambourne considered archetypally 'British'.

In a beautifully appointed hacienda in Millingavie,  Murphy and Rodin were sitting in front of Murphy's 72 inch plasma screen in fully recline able leather armchairs, watching the Olympic tableaux unfold, killing themselves with laughter. They both agreed the 'throwing up' was a more realistic English pub scene than the one which had been originally intended. They clinked their glasses of Bowmore in celebration, the lights flickered in the house as in a thunder and lightening storm and the picture from the Olympic Arena went off air. Murphy reset the CScryedB HD box, in case the lightening storm had effected it, but there was nothing on any of the London Olympic channels or London based news channels. It was as if someone had dropped a nuclear weapon on London. Fox News USA said they had lost all contact with their London centre, it appeared that a massive power black out had hit the city and they would report on what had happened just as soon as they knew themselves. It was 8:05pm.

Gemima Grayling was sitting in the flat at Bute House with her feet curled up on the sofa when the lights flickered, she shrugged her shoulder's and returned to reading the latest Ian M Banks 'Culture' science fiction novel, munching the occasional cider vinegar crisp while sipping from a glass of decent Bordeaux. Her mobile rang, she looked at the caller ID, it was her chief of staff, Seonidh - did a girl never get a break. "Aye, what's up - thought you were Olympic Games fixating? ..... You are kidding me? ... Black outs across England - do we know why? ....... shit, that's a bummer ... Get as many of the team, that are in Edinburgh, here in half an hour and get the Lothian and Borders Chief of Police here as well, along with some one from Scottish Power who actually knows what they are talking about. Can we raise any of our people at the Olympic Stadium? ...  Suppose so, the local cell masts will be down. Reuters are reporting what? ....... Get the political editors from both BBC Scotland and STV here as well or at least available on conference call because the shit is about to hit the fan, big style."

Dennie and Lennie were in the pub in Dalmelington watching the BBC Olympic opening ceremony program. They had just noticed the BBC Cameras had tracked away from the pub scene (folk were actually throwing up live on the BBC, surely not?) when the screen went blank and no amount of colourful swearing by the barmaid, Lovely Linda, (whose vocabulary could strip the paint off the walls), thrashing the handset or switching the Pubserve HD box on and off brought up anything else but a blank screen. Dennie thought for a bit and then went along the street to the RBS cash machine and, right enough, his account was now £1,000 better off than it had been earlier in the day. He sucked his cheeks and wandered back to tell Lennie the news - whether the news was good or bad, was too early to surmise.

Cambourne began to get worried when the nice English 'chaps' enjoying a pint of bitter outside 'Ye Olde Queen's Head' started throwing up - he tried to put it down to nerves but this really did not work in his minds eye. When the Morris Dancers started chucking up he realised the whole 'kit and caboodle' was beginning to unravel. It was at that point his PPS had worked along the row behind him to whisper in Cameron's shell like ear about the bomb at the Olympic Aquatic Centre that the lights went out across the Olympic Stadium. It took a few seconds for Cambourne's eyes to adjust to the insipid, sterilised milk light of the emergency evacuation system when they did he saw Her Majesty and the rest of the Heads of State were on their way out of the stadium at the rush. In the deafening silence Cambourne could clearly hear the sound of vomiting coming up from the 'British' tableaux below. Just then his own protection squad had his wife and his good self whisked off to safety with their feet hardly touching the ground at any point. As Cambourne was waiting in the 'safe area', while his protection team brought the car round, he glimpsed Boris heading his way and as he turned to face him Cambourne was felled by a straight right to his nose. Boris then grabbed Cambourne's suit lapels, pulled the still dazed and now nasally incompetent Cambourne to within a few inches of a spume and spittle filled burst of uncontained vitriol:

" What the fuck have you done to my Olympics, Cambourne, what the fuck have you done?"

Over in a corner the US Republican Presidential nominee was explaining to Fox News's UK political editor that he knew the Brit Olympics would be a disaster. The Brits were useless when it came to organising big events with there two narrow roads, constant labour strikes and such a terrorist attack could never happen in the US because of her far more effective control of subversives and right to carry a gun. With Fox, Mutt Rumblebelly was on safe grounds as the red neck yahoos who populated the station would never remind Mutt of the Atlanta Game's fiasco, the small matter of New York's twin towers or the statistics of how many Americans kill other Americans and themselves, on a daily basis, through their 'right to bear arms'.

The National Grid Control Centre was now in complete panic. The sudden drop of High Voltage had caused the nuclear reactors in England to trip out and shut down to emergency mode which would take an hour to reset and get back on line. The gas powered stations had cut back in straight away and were at full tilt - as were the remaining coal fired stations. The French HVDC inter-connector was at full bore but the senior controller was loudly berating the failure of politicians and endless planning inquiries whose impact on England was to guarantee a shortage of both base load via the unfinished Dutch HVDC inter connector and the lack of incinerator plants and other 'organic' options to smooth peak demand. They had lost Scotland and along with it 11% of base load capacity for England and Wales along with 15% of peak smoothing capability. Reports just reaching them was the local sub stations at the Olympic Park had exploded and were now on fire but the panicking exit of 50,000 spectators meant there was next to no chance of the London Fire Brigade getting anywhere near them.

In the HSBC Building on Canary Wharf the emergency generators had been slow to pick up so overheated servers burst into flames crashing all HSBC cash machines, trading floors, cash transmission and foreign currency deals which had currently been using the London server hub. HSBC were not the only Canary Wharf outfit in similar trouble. The buses were overcrowded as passengers fought to get away from the Olympic Park and had worked out the Tube would not be operating. The lack of traffic lights meant junctions were already starting to rack up collisions at a high rate of knots which were accompanied by fisticuffs all the way to pitched battles and further grid lock across London. London Reuters would have loved to see the SNLA message on 'Your a Tube' but with out power, internet or wifi they were just going to have to give it a miss, for now.

Gemima Gray and her team had no such difficulty in accessing the 'Your a Tube' SNLA video message and listened to a faux Scottish accent that had more to do with 'See You Jimmy' wigs than 'guid Lallands'. This second tape was clearly a far more professional take which had been 'dumbed down' to make it look amateur. The Chief Constable of Lothian and Border's Police was firmly of the opinion the second message was in the style and form of a SIS / SAS covert operation. This would go some way to explaining the secret arrival of SAS teams in the borders and the reason why a mile of HV pylons on both main transmission lines south were now simply scrap metal scarring the Southern Uplands. The political editors of both BBC Scotland and STV watched and listened via Skype with ever increasing amazement while they were briefed on what the Scottish Government knew about 'Operation Cockleshell' along with E-mailed transcripts of the conversation between Gemima Grayling and the Secretary of State for Scotland on the previous Thursday, exposing 'Cockleshell'.

It was then the turn of Scottish Power's senior engineer he was of the view it would take the best part of a month to reinstate the HV pylons and power lines to England. They could boost the 440v local distribution network along the border which would help out English border towns' supply but they could not use the Northern Ireland HVDC inter-connector to shift power back to England via the Sellafield / Northern Ireland inter connector as the excess capacity on the Scotland / Northern Ireland end was minimal. Anyway it was his opinion the National Grid control room would look to stop supplying power to Northern Ireland via the Sellafield inter connector and expect Scotland to pick up the Northern Ireland demand. Gemima managed to stop him before he went into even more esoteric electrical engineering concepts.

In under an hour the Scottish Government were able to make a full statement to the international press corps now jamming the road in front of Bute House. In a blaze of TV lighting and flashing cameras Gemima appeared on the top step and stated she was making a statement on behalf of the Scottish Government and the Sovereign People of Scotland. Gemima then went on joyously putting the metaphorical boot into Cambourne, the Secretary of State for Scotland and Westminster in general for the damage their out of control 'SNLA' stunt to derail the referendum had caused the UK in general and Scotland, in particular. Sorry, she would not be taking any questions as she and her cabinet were in emergency meetings the rest of the night to see how best they can assist the people of England and Wales at this time. A plainer speaker would have simply given Cambourne two fingers and advised him to look forward to some sex and travel - at the rush.

Gemima then had a very interesting video conference with her Welsh counterpart, Sion Glyndower, and the Irish Tioseach about how they could further discomfit Westminster while keeping the people of England onside.

It was ten o'clock before Cambourne made it back to Downing Street through the mayhem of a blacked out London to find, without any prompting from him, the whole cabinet had assembled along with the Party chair, treasurer and leader of the 1922 Committee. The fan had been hit dead centre and now the others were wanting to know just how far it was going to spread. Boris has somehow arrived before Cambourne and was already pointing the finger. Cambourne excused himself to clean up the dried on blood from his face and while doing so had his PPS get hold of the Chief of the Defence Staff to find out why the SAS leg of Cockleshell had not been stopped. The SIS being blinded sided and the Olympic Aquatic Centre being damaged he could have coped with but not the blackout.

In Cambourne's telephone call with the Chief of Defence Staff, the Major General made clear he had made every effort to ensure the SAS role in 'Cockleshell' had been cancelled but without any cancellation code a joint SAS /SIS effort was out with his control and, with respect Prime Minister, the written operation order for 'Operation Cockleshell', I have in my hand, makes clear the Head of Internal Affairs was the only one who could have initiated a stand down once 'Cockleshell' had been activated. The responsibility to cancel Cockleshell lay with De Woodehead or his deputy, no doubt acting on the Prime Minister's authority. The Chief of Defence Staff continued by stating he had recorded their conversation in the presence of the First Sea Lord and the Marshall of the RAF, would have a written transcript made which would be attested and notarised with copies placed with each of their personal solicitors. We trust the Prime Minister understands our actions in this instance. Too right I understand your actions, thought Cambourne, you are ensuring minimum come back on your good selves and battening yourself down in the Northwood Command bunker until this blow's over.

His PPS then briefed him on the power situation and explained the nuclear reactors were coming back on line but due to problems with their heat exchangers could not be safely run at a much higher output with out the agreement of the Nuclear Safety Inspectorate. According to the National Grid people they could keep all the lights on in London but at the expense of rolling black outs across the rest of England and Wales and even if the Nuclear plants could get authorisation to run at 60 to70% output, from their present maximum safe operating output of 50%, there would still need to be rolling blackouts at peak times. The current situation at the Aquatic Centre was until the pump room and electrical power room had been pumped out they would be unable to assess the extent of the damage.

The SIS end of 'Cockleshell' had an ironic laugh at how they had been left looking stupid but equally well knew that going after the 'Scottish Defence League' in any overt form was only going to end in tears. The Orange Order spokesman's press release had made that clear - McPhail had been blown, it happens, and the best place for him was to stay in Fiji for the next three years. Time to clean away the evidence to thwart any future National Security Select Committee enquiry. There would be other chances to get back at Murphy and his friends. The SIS believed in the adage that revenge was a dish best served cold. Down in Hereford, the SAS were thinking and acting in much the same manner.

Cambourne now realised the only 'ace' he held was to blame the 'Gritstone' oik for acting out with his authority as a junior civil service clerk and deliberately misunderstanding what he had told him over the activation of 'Cockleshell'. Time to set his PR folk running Operation 'Who me guv?' and start putting out the disaster was caused by a rogue civil servant in league with the Scottish National Liberation Army. Cambourne set his mind in the right state to brass out the next hour before receiving the information about the 'Gritstone' oik's role from 'intelligence sources'.

Over in the Scottish Office the night oil was being burnt as Dinwoodie's team dug deeper and deeper into the morass of New Labour's Glasgow ties to Scottish Organised crime and the New Labour MP's he could lean on heavily. O'Hallohan's name kept on arriving in a prominent position on many counts. At around one in the morning on Dinwoodie's return from Downing Street, he received a text from a 'friend' suggesting the person they needed to get hold of was a low grade civil servant called Grindstone who had worked in Internal Affairs and was now on gardening leave until he retired in three years time. The next text included an address in Woking. The text following said he better be there before the programmed anti-terrorist police raid set for seven am. Dinwoodie called for his own car and headed out for the M3 and Woking, with only his PPS for company, telling no one else where he was going. They would just assume he and Angela were heading off some where for elicit sex and cover for him in the agreed way - maybe later, thought Dinwoodie as he looked across to the delectable Angela, but getting to Grindstone first, was far more important.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Bitter Together 6. The Worm Turns.

Grindstone had finished boxing up all Sir Nigel's books, personal papers, was sitting having a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive pondering the potential pin number and password of Sir Nigel's Cayman Island account, Grindstone had carefully checked the papers on Sir Nigel's desk for clues or notes and had, so far come up blank. He was looking at Sir Nigel's original bar certificate on the wall opposite and thought if he had been Sir Nigel the last four digits would make for an excellent pin number. Putting down his cup to go and see he spilled some tea and as he went to mop it up felt the indentations in the blotting pad below - maybe if he did a rubbing of the blotting pad the password might show. Sir Nigel was left handed so the place to start would be the bottom left quadrant. Grindstone went 'brass rubbing'.

Half an hour later Grindstone was certain he knew the password. He finished packing up the rest of Sir Nigel's personal possessions in the 'Liberty' storage boxes provided, picked up the Aldi bag containing his own stuff from his desk. Told the front desk he was finished and Sir Nigel's things were packed ready to go, handed in his civil service pass and walked out into Whitehall a free man at just after 10:30am on a warm July morning. He then went to a cash machine checked his pension lump sum had been paid into his Natwest Account and set off home to Woking to start shifting cash around - he had big plans to complete.

Lennie and Dennie woke up just after midday and the combination of the noise from Hackney High Street and their own grumbling bellies made it impossible to get back to sleep. The ability to sleep was also effected by considerations about where the explosive filled condoms were planned to be inserted for transit on their person by their Rastafarian 'angel'.

There was partial relief for Cranbourne as the London based papers were all running the latest bank scam on their front pages and currently pointing the finger at the banks first and foremost. The Scottish based papers were different while the Hootsmon carried the Secretary of State for Scotland's press release, as fact; the Glasgow Herald was pointing out the long history of Westminster and SIS connivance in opposing any move to Scottish independence. The Herald was not willing to disregard some sort of discrediting attack had been or was still planned in spite of the Scottish Secretary's vehement and excessive sounding attack on the SNP, as they had also heard from a Scottish Government source that SAS squads had been deployed to Scotland with out the approval or knowledge of the Scottish government, the knowledge of the Scottish military HQ and for no apparent reason. Worse was a claim from an Orange Order spokesman on the front page of the Retard (which even the latest farce over the SFA's attempt to force Rangers on the Scottish first division did not displace) that they had indeed be approached by a member of the SIS, acting as an agent provocateur and had sent him on his way.

On the balance of information available the information seemed to indicate that the original 'Cockleshell' had indeed failed both from the SIS side and the Orange Order side. The Scottish government knew about the unauthorised deployment of the SAS to Scotland and clearly a bit about 'Cockleshell' but were hoping yesterday's First Minster's statement to Holyrood would kill it stone dead. To Cranbourne's eyes 'Cockleshell' was no longer a problem as long as the weedy little civil servant' Gritstone, kept his mouth shut and the Cabinet Secretary had assured him Gritstone had been paid well for his silence. A far as the latest banking scam was concerned it appeared Dickie had for once used his nooddle and he and Jack Daring were concocting a line which was quite economical with the truth of either's involvement in turning a blind eye to the scam while no doubt shifting the profits, they made on the back of gambling on the London Interbank Lending Rate's fluctuations, beyond the reach of the UK press, as Blair Cambourne knew he already had - via his wife's trust account in the Cayman Islands.

Grindstone returned home to Woking after spending a fascinating afternoon in the National Portrait Gallery and treating himself to a meal on Bankside looking back over St Paul's and the City of London with its bastardised skyline of shards, gherkins and faceless blocks of glass and steel. The cat was annoyed he was late back but a tin of Sheba, clean water and litter soon put her world to rights. He made himself a mug of tea and went to work. First he shifted his legitimate lump sum payout and split it between his new Swiss Franc and Sterling accounts in Zurich, leaving an adequate sum in his Natwest account for day to day expenses over the next month. He then turned to Sir Nigel's Cayman Island account and was instantly rewarded with access to the account. He had been right about the pin number but still could not believe Sir Nigel's password had been the very obvious 'Cockleshell12'. Using the card and the card reader he successfully transmitted  £200,000 to his Swiss Franc account and £50,000 to his sterling account from the Cayman Islands to his new Zurich accounts giving his sterling account the same balance as his pension lump sum. In the space of ten minutes Grindstone had made himself into a very comfortably off bachelor, indeed.

The internet then furnished him with a first class ticket, Swiss Air, from Heathrow to Zurich tomorrow morning and Last Minute Hotels produced two nights in Zurich at a very good price. Tomorrow he would give Ms Price next door £50 to look after his cat for the next month, as they had agreed, while he took himself on his first overseas holiday for around forty years - well, that is what he had told Ms Price. Grindstone's worm rubbed its psychic hands together for a job well done. There was one last thing to do, post the notarised and sworn affidavit to his solicitors, Grindstone would do that on the way to the airport, by hand, to make completely sure his insurance policy was in place. After he had signed formally for his Swiss bank accounts on Monday morning he would jump a train and head for Venice, maybe stop over for a couple of days in Milan first and then? The 'then' he would worry about, when he got bored of Venice.

On the same Friday, the Cabinet Secretary had been a bit perturbed to find his 'ace in the hole' to let the prime minister off the hook over 'Cockleshell' had already been blown by that 'little woman' at Holyrood and the Orange Order. Still there was the fun of yesterday's Treasury Select Committee debacle on the bank interest rate fixing scandal to taunt Cambourne with, along with the apparent failure of Dickie and his pal Daring's plan to shift the blame off the politicians onto the banks. The Bloke from Barclays had seen to that, much fun still to be had there. Cambourne's aim to reform the civil service by bringing in outsiders, well that would now be over Cambourne's dead body, if Cambourne tried again, he would see to that. Grindstone would be off the premises by midday to never be heard of again - another problem resolved - and once he had the warrant from the Queen (in Her Majesty's Olympic Honours List) agreeing his ennoblement he would follow Grindstone out the door, at the rush, as what used to be Westminster 'perks' for MPs in the 1970's had now turned into down right corruption, veniality and greed, a repetition of Thomas Cromwell's 16th Century parliaments and he was not going to carry the can. Time to get out ahead of the lynching mob. He was not going to be like his hero, Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, for any top politicians (more political pygmies), of the current generation. His head was staying where it was, thank you very much. He knocked on the door to the Cabinet Room and entered without waiting for any acknowledgement or invitation to hear, in his hero's words, parliamentarians talking much about change and reform but changing and reforming nothing.

All in all, Cambourne was having a better day of it than he could have hoped with the defusing of Cockleshell and the focus all on how much either Dickie or Daring knew about the bank scam. Cambourne felt he had got off lightly at this morning's cabinet meeting, all things considered, and even the 'Marley's Ghost' of a Cabinet secretary had been unable to give him the 'willies'. He could relax at last and look forward to tonight's Heads of State reception at Buckingham Palace followed by Boris' pre Olympic feast at the Guild Hall when all of London, which matters, would be glad handing with the likes of such fine democrats as Vladmir Putin of Russia, Thein Sein of Burma (Myanmar as they prefer) or Hu Jintao President of the People's Republic of China  and he would be there as Prime Minister, the UK's actual lord and master. He now understood why his predecessor but one 'got off' on these occasions, these assemblies of the 'great and good' in London. For those few days the British Empire was alive, well and still ruling the world - in the imagination of Westminster. Tomorrow night there would be the Olympics opening ceremony and another skip load of smug satisfaction to enjoy -  there was some satisfaction, after all, to being prime minister.

Dinwoodie's people were hard at work carrying out internet searches looking for reported links between the cast of Glasgow New Labour and organised crime. As his team ferreted around, a series of dubious land deals, Commonwealth Game's contracts and redevelopment scams started to form a picture of links between New Labour's Glasgow Council and some very interesting, if shady, characters. They had a long chat with the Libdem author of 'Halls of Infamy' on the evidenced basis of his claims in the book of which the strongest corroborative evidence was the failure of the then New Labour Glasgow Provost to bring an action for defamation against the book. This being a book which described, in minute detail, the brown envelope culture of Glasgow New Labour, its money for favours, its links to organised crime; going as far as identifying New Labour councillors with direct links to organised crime families and known organised crime front businesses.

The real gem was the discovery of a Glasgow Herald piece in the run up to the last election where Mr Rodin had been on the table next to O'Hallohan at an O'Hallohan fund raiser. The person who paid for the table seating Rodin was Mr Murphy, the Funeral Director, and when asked about the presence of a recently released prisoner at an O'Hallohan fund raiser the initial response from O'Hallohan's election agent to the Herald was "A'body kens Louis." Later O'Hallohan made clear he did not know Louis Rodin was in the room and if he had he would have asked him to leave, as he did not associate with 'known' criminals - this implied that associating with 'unknown' criminals was OK. Who were these criminals to be unknown to -  the suggestion was clearly the Scottish public. Still the initial Herald report had O'Hallohan looking Mr Rodin in the eyes from his place on the top table and his election agent, as a member of the Strathclyde Police Authority, would have been aware of Mr Rodin occupation which left the door wide open to the view that O'Hallohan was 'OK' about Rodin's presence until the Herald brought it to the public purview. Mr Rodin's comment of when asked if he was there was, "I like listening to Mr O'Hallon speak, its no illegal, pal.", adding more smoke to the nascent fire. For some reason the 'Herald' stopped digging at that point. Dinwoodie knew the Herald journalist, from his own time at the Edinburgh Evening News, so gave him a personal call to see what more was there to know. For Dinwoodie it was a very interesting conversation. Next on his department's things 'to do' list was 'Cockleshell'.

After the initial shock Dennie and Lennie had found that the mode of transport of the explosive was not as uncomfortable as they had first imagined. Their eyes had watered a bit at first but the operation had not turned out quite as hard or repulsive as they had originally thought. So, with a degree of confidence they did not expect to have, they set off for the Olympic Aquatic Centre, for their next shift, in good spirits. Their Rastafarian angel had handed them a key to the pump room and reminded them when the twelve hour detonation pen had to be set to go off. The trickiest bit was no one knew if the door to the pump room had an alarm but if it went off the pair were just to play the 'daft laddies' and say when they tried the pump room door to check it was secure, it opened.

On their midnight circuit the boys tried the door with the key, it opened. They waited for five minutes to see if all hell broke loose and there was just silence, not even a visit from the watch supervisor - who would be snoring his head off by now in the canteen. The lads relieved themselves of their burdens and the detonating pencil and placed them just inside the door - peppermint tasting condoms were not that bad on regurgitation, they agreed, and headed up to the canteen to have a midnight 'smelly burger' and one of those equally obnoxious, chemical milk shakes with out any trace of real milk.

At two o'clock the boys re-entered the pump room and identified the main flange leading from the pool's main drain. As instructed they used the foil linings from their four stick Quitscats, placing them in the 'v' they made in the Semtex. These Semtex charges were then placed, hollow side down, on the side of the flange away from the door and secured with silver duck tape. They then made a small cut in the duck tape and inserted the still 'safe' pencil detonator shallowly into the Semtex and then duck taped that in place, followed by water filled and sealed condoms as tamping which were also then taped into place. They left and continued on with their rounds. On their six o'clock round Lennie popped in and crushed the end of the pencil detonator with a pair of pliers - there was now twelve hours to go before the explosives went off.

At eight o'clock in the morning Lennie and Dennie walked out of the Olympic Aquatic Centre having said bye to their supervisor and see you tonight. As they walked into the alley behind their safe house on Hackney High Street they ditched all their McWeinner's sponsored security kit into the bottom of a nearly full communal street bin, put the pump room key and their security passes into a half filled industrial skip marked toxic waste only, returned to the flat, picked up their personal kit and headed off to Euston and home with £800 still between them and 2K to come. They played with the idea of getting first class seats but opted instead for the standard class 'silent' carriage on the 1015 'Virgin Crusader' pendolino from Euston to Glasgow Central. They would be down the pub in Dalmelington having a bevvy by the time the explosives went off.

Grindstone took the Heathrow Airport bus from outside Woking Station, his suit case packed, his passport and E-ticket safely in his pocket and his insurance policy handed in to his solicitor's with clear instructions of what to do if anyone from the civil service or the police approached them for his whereabouts because they wished to have a 'chat' with him. To give the solicitors some lee-way they were to say, when pressurised, they understood Mr Grindstone had travelled to Switzerland, intending to take a barge trip down the Rhine from Basle to Rotterdam. The same story Grindstone had told his next door neighbour, Ms Price, who was looking after his cat.

Scottish Labour is dead ... that's all ...

Here we are on the Monday after yet another opinion piece by Gerry Hassan on why we need a rejuvenated Scottish Labour Party. The Herald and Daily Record carry stories which reveal the crushing reason why Gerry is tilting at windmills. The cosy nepotism of Scottish Labour is writ large in the appointment to a Glasgow Council post (which increasingly looks as if it was never advertised) of one Tom McAbe; rejected Labour MSP.

Scottish Labour is so immured in the stench of its own and Westminster's sewage as to be beyond salvage. The left of centre in Scotland is now SNP territory, further left you have the Greens and far out the SSP.

The real question, for Gerry, is just what is the point of 'Scottish Labour' except as a right of centre, neoliberal puppet party of Westminster's two Tory Parties?

The 'Yes' campaign has Dennis Kavanagh as a representative of what New Labour in Scotland have forgotten.New Scottish Labour has alienated Henry McLiesh for going native and sidelined Chisholm for much the same reasons.

Today Milliband's big idea is that Tony Blair will 'save the Union', as if! Rather than using opposition time to bring forward a fiscal autonomy bill for Scotland which would also work to force the reforming of the arcane, venal and dictatorial parliament at Westminster Milliband appears to be wishing for in his Independent interview. Meanwhile over in the Guardian Mr Ed is talking more horse about the need for politics to reform a UK business culture which merely reflects the Westminster political culture - venal, self centred, expense and tax fiddling, above the law, too big to fail, etcetera.

The truth is, Gerry, there are no ideas in New Labour except for the dead hand of the status quo. New Labour in Scotland can not be saved, not even if you put 40 million volts through it. New Labour in Scotland has nailed itself to its perch because it is now struggling to hang on.

 In the meantime the SNP is picking up more doubters to its cause with sensible and consultative governance and putting ideas into practice that help all of Scotland's people - council tax freeze .... etcetera.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Bitter Together 5. Condominimum

Dennie and Lennie's first day as security guards was hardly stretching. Their 'uniform' consisted of a yellow and brown 'McWeinner's' (The dog's that not even dogs will eat) surplus baseball cap, a tabard with the McWeinner Olympic logo on it and an armband in the same garish vomit yellow with the word security on it in brown. Their job seemed to be mainly about preventing anyone stealing or defacing the promotional posters and hangings with "Proud sponsors of the Synchronised Swimming" and the McWeinner's Olympic logo on it. The London Olympics logo and the Olympic Committee Rings were there but so small as to be almost invisible.

They were also issued with their barcoded passes in the names of Douglas MacFadyen and Eric Lecky along with the new date of birth and life history they had been learning since sunrise that morning. They were given ten pound's each worth of what appeared to be McWeinner 'Smiley Burger' vouchers until you read the small print where it said, 'Redeemable at other official Olympic food outlets' as their day's payment. The boys were easing into their characters of Dougie and Lecky with only occasional slip ups but both agreed if it was not for the £1000 up front and the £1,000 each on their safe return there was no way they would have done this job if potential food poisoning from a 'Smelly Burger' was the only working benefit on offer.

Their Supervisor took the boys to show them their patrol route in the basement of the pool. Their task was to ensure no members of the public and especially members of Synchronised Swimming squads or their coaches could get anywhere near the pump and drainage room at any time. In a recent competition in Anatolia, prior to the Chinese Synchronised Swimming World Champions entering the water for their expected medal winning and world title retaining performance, a member of an opposing team had managed to introduce concentrated chilli oil, via the chlorine filter, into the pool with disastrous results for the Chinese girls, some of whose vision had still not fully recovered. The Chinese Swimming Authorities were not worried that much about the girls, there were plenty of replacements who were just as good, but they had lost their world crown because the girls had not completed their full routine, were therefore disqualified and that really hurt the Chinese in the run up to the Olympics.

They would be on twelve hour shifts, eight until eight, and because the Jockanese twins were last to join, they had drawn the first week of nights so they better get back to their cardboard box, squat or motorway under pass, get some zeds in, be back and checked in well before their shift started tonight - if they were late they should just forget turning up as the Supervisor had a box full of unemployed dossers who wanted the job.

The Presiding Officer, on hearing the content, agreed to allow First Minister Grayling to make an announcement to the Scottish Parliament prior to the opposition slapstick and slapping down session that was First Minister's Questions.

"Members of the Scottish Parliament I thank you, through the grace of the Presiding Officer, to be allowed to take a few minutes of the time available to question me and through me my government but what I have to say has an impact not just on Scotland but potentially the UK and its future relationship with the rest of the world.

It has been brought to my attention, by the team investigating Organised Crime in Scotland's Cities, they have intercepted telephone call between gang members discussing an operation called 'Cockleshell'.  Apparently some extremists on the pro-Unionist side wish to use the Olympics for their own ends and tar Scotland's pro-independence campaign as an organisation more in common with the violent attempt at over throw in the style of the PIRA of Northern Ireland's 'Troubles'. It appears they have engaged with Scotland's organised crime to make something happen so they can raise once again the empty canard of the Scottish National Liberation Army and a too poor, too wee, too stupid Scottish Parliament unable to control extremists.

I trust the Scottish Parliament will join me in unanimously condemning any such act of violence by any side or party involved in the debate on Scottish Independence. On completion of FMQ's and on the advice of the Solicitor General I will be contacting the Scottish Office with a full briefing on what the Police Operation into Organised Crime has inadvertently uncovered. Until I have done that I will not take any further questions on this breech of UK national security as it is an issue reserved for Westminster."

In the silence that followed Gemima looked at the opposition front bench teams. It was clear from the look on their faces they were like mushrooms on this issue - being kept in the dark. Over in the BBC Scotland 'box' she saw the gallumphing political editor, for once, had hud his wheesht, was looking stunned and would clearly struggle to turn today's FMQ's session into a vision of SNP incompetence, as was his norm. In the glance around the rest of parliament it became very obvious to Gemima that even the London 'backwoods men'  rabble rousers had not been told about their Westminster masters' new game. Someone should tell new Tory leader, Rosemary, that a 'deid huddy' impersonation was not flattering. The Presiding Officer broke the spell by inviting Daphne to pose her first question to the FM. It was equally clear to Gemima, Daphne's heart was not in the vitriol Daphne had been sent forth, by her London handlers, to spew out and slay the SNP dragon - successfully, they hoped, this time. Gemima almost felt sorry for Daphne but then politics broke out, her nascent compassion for Daphne fled, her political claws came out and it was time to sink them into the Unionist apologists, yet again.

Grindstone looked carefully at the bank debit card as he sat at his computer desk in Woking while the latest lot of documents and voice files on 'Cockleshell' were loading to his BT vault via his 'English to Klingon' translator. He had, at first, thought the bank was some mythical one made up by the SIS / SAS but when he 'Googled' the bank's name there it was, a real bank, in the Cayman Islands more over when he checked back into his 'Cockleshell' files it was the same bank and bank account he had transferred £250,000 to as part of 'Cockleshell'. The name on the card was Ms S Fitzsimmons which also turned out to be the maiden name of Sir Nigel's wife. Grindstone went to the bank's digital banking web site, entered the account number on the card and was greeted with 'Hello Sir Nigel, please enter your pin and password when requested.' on the screen. He remembered reading strange things about Cayman Island bank's operating with dubious legality and his worm popped up and suggested how could Sir Nigel complain about money missing from a less than legal Cayman Island's account he was not supposed to have in the first place?

Grindstone spent the rest of Thursday evening looking at the 'how's' and 'where afters' of moving money from a Cayman Island account to say, Switzerland, with out it being traceable to Switzerland or from the Cayman Islands. Once that process had been sorted all that was left to do was to set up a Swiss bank account and work out the password and pin number Sir Nigel had used. The latter he would do when he was clearing Sir Nigel's desk on Friday, the last job left to do in Internal Affairs prior to being sent on indefinite gardening leave from the Civil Service until his 'official' retirement date.

The Scottish Secretary put the phone down at the end of his telephone call with the First Minister. Robin Dinwoodie ( MP, Libdem, Shetlands) looked around the room at his ministers and senior civil servants, turning ever more red with each passing second - "You heard that!" he raged, "Now find out what the fuck is going on as currently I have been left hanging out to dry by some UKIP or right wing Tory retard who is bound to be behind "Cockleshell". If Cambourne wishes to keep his fat arse in Downing Street and this coalition is to survive he has some extreme brown nosing to do ... yes, what the fucking hell is it now!"

A young intern had poked her head around the door, after the blast she just said, "Mr Beige says, have you seen Sky News or Bloomburg as they are running a story on a modern day Scottish Gunpowder plot." She then burst into tears as her head disappeared back behind the door.

"Shit that is all we need: that bitch Grayling must have had a press release ready to go as soon as she put the phone down. Get me the head of News at the BBC and see if we can't spike the story there, at least, same with the Telegraph and the Mail - the other two will now be rubbing their hands in delight. I need to know who will be shoving microphones up my nose, so get onto seeing which media channels and newspapers are running with the story. Get me on Newsnicht Scotland tonight by video link so I can run a spoiler and make sure BBC Scotland does not have a SNP MSP or MP anywhere near Pacific Quay so I can make it stick without question or contradiction. Has nobody got hold of that bastard Cambourne yet!"

Dickie was not a happy chancellor it appeared that part of the missing £40 billion was from unpaid taxes by the big four banks compounded by the impact of the same big four banks playing the London Inter Bank Lending Rate for their own advantage and to maximise profits for their trading arms in the 'City'. Dickie's best friend had just resigned as chairman of one bank and another was going to be lucky to avoid a criminal conviction for rate fixing. There was no chance of avoiding a few top level sacrifices in the UK banks if what the US Treasury official just said to him about allowing requests for UK bankers extradition to the US,  in the view of Ms Clinton, as being the only hope to save what is left of the thread bare Atlantic 'special relationship'. Dickie was about to head over to tell Blair the bad news when one of his staffers stopped him and pointed him at Sky News where he heard the SNP spokesperson for legal affairs asking how safe was Scotland against terrorism as part of the UK when it had taken a chance intercept by the Scottish Police Service to find out information the SIS should have been tracking, as anti-terrorism activity was a reserved issue for Westminster and a supposed 'stronger together' Union benefit. Dickie's PPS came over and asked if he was going to see the Prime Minister. Dickie nodded in assent only to be advised to go anywhere else as the Scottish Secretary of State was next door and the term, 'not a happy man' did not cover how the Secretary was reacting, even to a fig leaf extent, so naked was the Scottish Secretary's anger. Dickie went back to his private office, telephoned John Daring - his predecessor as chancellor - and agreed to meet for dinner. The London bank rate scam was dangerous for both of them. Time to get their heads below the parapet and work out how to keep themselves safe from as much collateral damage as possible. He was going to suggest it was time for an Operation Chuckle Brothers with a lot of 'to me, to you' misinformation played out between them.

'Cockleshell' well that was Blair's own problem. Dickie had always thought the plan cooked up by Sir Nigel and Blair was very dangerous. He had, of course, never, ever said so as to do so would have been being disloyal to Blair, yet Dickie had often thought it. Dickie smiled as he considered there was a good chance the 1922 Committee would buy that line when the shit hit the fan. An agreement of collective guilt in not dissuading the Prime Minister from his path but for reasons Tories still held dear: loyalty to the man.

Just off Hackney High Street in the back bedroom Lennie and Dennie were temporarily calling home, the boys were learning about shaped explosive charges, the use of tin foil and the setting of pencil detonators. They had expressed their concerns over this particular turn of events in their employment and implied they would prefer to withdraw their labour. The situation was explained to them in simple terms. They could do what they were about to be paid £1,000 each to do. Place the explosives, set the detonator and walk away or choose to remain securely attached to the explosives when they went off. If they walked away and the explosives did not go off they could consider themselves dead in any case. The method of their death, in that instance, would be nowhere as tender or quick as simply being blown into lots of tiny pieces by Semtex. Did they understand?

Lennie and Dennie nodded. 'Good', their Rastafarian protecting angel said, just before he went onto describe just how the explosive was going to get into the venue inside Lennie and Dennie's persons. It involved the explosive, a condom or two and a lot of Vaseline.

Rod's snoring was really starting to get to Dan Defoe. Only three more days and if there was no authorisation they would be walking out, heading to a safe house for a long hot bath, a decent meal and home to Hereford to find out just what went wrong -  this time.

Spud Murphy watched the BBC Six O'Clock news with a degree of fear, at first, more because of Louis's potentially violent response to the 'Cockleshell debacle' but lessening at every minute as he recognised a Westminster Parliamentary cover up in full steam - if at odds with itself. The Scottish Secretary was denying such a scheme to undermine the upcoming Scottish referendum existed and the terrorist attack scenario was an SNP scare story while the Prime Minister was far more cagey saying he would be calling  a COBRA meeting, in the light of the up coming London Olympics, to look at the evidence and take any action required to respond to the detailed information received from the Scottish Police Service. Murphy also knew on previous occasions tenuous links between the Scottish National Liberation Army and the SIS had been made in the Scottish media and equally as quickly the story had been spiked. Maybe it was time for a spokesman for the Orange Lodge to release a statement to the Daily Retard saying a few members had been approached by a SIS agent provocateur to undertake a terrorist style attack on the London Olympics to help save the Union but had rejected his advances. This statement should be enough to ensure the UK Government investigation and blame game came nowhere near them as if it did, the same Orange Order Spokesman would be releasing the address of the SIS safe house in Glasgow, photographs of the interior of the flat in Partick plus a photograph and description of Agent McPhail. His new mobile rang. He looked at the caller ID, "Ah Louis, ah thought'd be you, how's yersel' ..." After calming Louis Rodin down, Murphy called his contact at the Retard and having been assured the 'statement' would run 'front page' in the Friday edition contacted his local Labour MP, who was Chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee, to let him know what was in the 'offing'. The response Murphy received from the MP was less than friendly until Murphy reminded O'Hallahan just who was responsible for ensuring the votes that kept O'Hallahan's nose in Westminster's trough. Murphy then decided that to call off either of the ' Bugger Cockleshell attacks' at this late stage would be more dangerous than letting them go ahead and anyway the local Labour MPs, MSPs and especially Glasgow councillors could do with a wee reminder of just who actually pulls their strings. His next call was to the head of the McGovern Clan to discuss potential political and business opportunities this whole 'stramash' was already and could potentially create for them all.

In Bute House there was great entertainment being had by the SNP cabinet watching the usual suspects at Westminster trip up over their lines and frequently contradict themselves. It was clear the Tory side of the alliance knew a lot more about 'Cockleshell' in their measured response than the Libdems. It was also clear the Tories were not telling their coalition partners what they knew and were deliberately winding the Scottish Secretary up to make him into their scapegoat if it all went horribly wrong.

Gemima looked round as Seonidh entered the room, came directly towards her and whispered in her ear. The rest of the cabinet waited and then Gemima announced that BBC Scotland were giving the Scottish Secretary most of Newsnicht to let him 'state his case' against SNP scare mongering over Olympic terrorism. There would be  no opportunity of reply as the studio 'experts' were going to be Daphne, Rosemary and the 'nutty professor' from Strathclyde University. It would seem, team, continued Gemima, they are running very scared of what 'Cockleshell' may end up doing. I have just authorised Seonidh to send out the standard E-mails to the BBC Trust Chair, Director General and senior editors complaining about lack of SNP representation on an issue of such vital importance to Scotland. I will make the same point when I appear on the STV's 'Scotland Tonight' this evening especially as Seonidh has also got wind of a statement from the Orange Order in tomorrow's Retard saying they were approached by the SIS to help with a plot very like 'Cockleshell'. It would appear from this statement our organised crime families and their agents are also distancing themselves from this project and putting a firewall in place to protect themselves from any retribution.

At midnight Cambourne sat with his special advisors discussing what out was left for Cambourne from 'Cockleshell'. It was clear, all they were left with was to 'blame the minions' if the operation went ahead. In comparison the London Interbank Lending rate scam solution was easy. They could spread the muck evenly around this and the previous government's light touch bank regulation. Reports would be reported, lesson would be learned, regulations would be tightened but, in effect, the City of London's money makers would carry on untrammelled by any sense of propriety, decency or guilt while continuing to cheat and scam the rest of the world and each other on their way to their personal fortunes. In the process the Prime Minister's offshore accounts would continue to grow in a healthy manner as the people of Britain suffered from his 'austerity' measures. In 'Yuppie' terms a 'loads a money', ever growing cash wad for him.

Dinwoodie looked at the Retard's headline story confirming there had been a SIS approach to the Orange Order and started to plan just how he was going to blow the coalition apart - he was not going to be the Tory's patsy for this foul up, he was going to have Blair and Dickie's arses if it was the last political play he ever made. New Labour had lost it in Scotland, their supposed criminal minions were now running the party, his New Labour Shadow was going down as well. He picked up his phone to his PPS, "I want all the dirt you can find on Glasgow Labour's dealings with Murphy, Rodin and the McGoverns."

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Bitter Together: Chapter 4. The 'Wet Paper Bag' Test

 As the book idea is coming together the mean direction of travel has shifted so rather than calling the book 'Operation Cockleshell' the working title is now 'Bitter Together'

Blair Cambourne's permanent secretary stood calmly waiting for the prime minister's questions and responses to the conversation he had undertaken with the cabinet permanent secretary, on the prime minister's behalf, about the Internal Affairs Department and its future. The permanent secretary could not help letting a 'know it all' smirk cross his lips, this was going to be fun.

Cambourne looked up just as the smirk disappeared and asked why the number 2 at Internal Affairs was not in the office with the permanent secretary. Where was Ms Cake?

Cambourne's face became redder and redder as the permanent secretary explained that Ms Cake was not here because she had resigned and there was no point in the prime minister screaming 'she can't do that' because she had and it was all above board. The 'How?', sir . Well apparently she was one of those brought from outside of the civil service as part of your prime ministerial campaign to 'ginger the moribund civil service up'. She had been employed by Sir Nigel on a non standard contract when she had been head hunted from McKenna, McKenna and McKenna, one of the City's biggest law firms, to help head up Internal Affairs. Part of that contract stated if she was offered an assistant commissioner's post in the EU she could resign forthwith, without notice. Apparently when the cabinet permanent secretary called her at seven this morning she was already on the red eye Eurostar to Brussels to take up her new post as the assistant commissioner at the European Development Fund and she referred him to the exact sub clause. No, sir, we can not use our contacts in Brussels to stop her as we do not have any to use in this case. You fell out rather publicly with Ms Legrande, the commissioner at the EU Development Fund, over the EU regional loans she and Ms Grayling had organised for Scotland with out reference to Westminster. I believe you accused her of being a 'a mean spirited, Walloon gibbering, dyke bitch' which while perhaps having some truth to it, was not exactly diplomatic nor of much merit.

The permanent secretary was now enjoying himself immensely, as only a comprehensive boy from Walthamstow made good, could, watching an Old Etonian, silver spoon in mouth, millionaire flounder. He felt the urge to say the catch line from the inane Irish comedian of his youth, Jimney Cricket, '... and there's more!'.

The permanent secretary went onto explain to the prime minister how the cabinet secretary had blocked any move to bring Internal Affairs under the full control of the Home Office and made clear his only involvement with Internal Affairs would be to protect his civil servants from the madness of politicians. He had been strongly against the quasi independent role of Internal Affairs within the Home Office, as was clear in his memo to the prime minister, and had no intention of pulling the prime minister's nuts out of this particular fire. He also made it very clear that when it came to the politician responsible for Internal Affairs there was only one such candidate, the prime minister as Sir Nigel had reported direct to him. He would, in good faith, do what could be done to stop the run away train before it did any more harm to the reputation of the civil service.

Cambourne knew what that meant - humble pie and the cabinet secretary and a couple of his pals raised to the House of Lords to join the vermin in ermine.

'Rat Face' picked Dennie and Lennie up from the bus station in Ayr. On the road trip from there to Kilmarnock Rail Station he had briefed them as Mr Rodin had requested, handed over the new pay as you go Asda mobile, the £1,000 expenses up front and instructions to head from Euston Station to Hackney and go to the Starbucks opposite the tube station where one of those black's with those hair lock thingies and funny coloured bobble hats would meet them outside the door at 8 pm tonight. He would be holding a copy of the Metro. They were to ask him if he knew the way to Albert Square, he would nod and they were to follow him.

The two young Scots were getting rather worried as the six foot eight Rastafarian with a joint dangling out of the corner of his mouth was menacingly moving towards them asking just who had put them up to this, who was trying to pull his chain when the Rastafarian on the other side of the door of Starbucks slouched over and said, 'Hey, bro I think dese two are for me.' There was the strange looking thumb touching, palm dragging, knuckle knocking and fist banging, the two Scots thought was extremely cool, handshake and the new guy nodded at them and walked off down the road. Like two excited puppies Dennie and Lennie followed him, rubber necking like mad at the sights and sounds of Hackney High Street with its West Indian vegetable shops, Soul Food joints, Halal Butchers and M&S Food Hall. Their guide turned off in to the entrance to a terrace, which looked like a close to the lads. The door closed behind them with a slam which caused them to jump and their guide took them up two flights of stairs to a room over looking a back street where two West Indians were beating ten kinds of shit out of a Sikh. Their guide looked out and said quietly, 'Didn't pay his taxes. You two are dossing here, I'll bring in food, lots of choice round here you can go foreign; chippies, Macdonalds, Kentucky or you can go local; meat an potato pie, korma or Thai ....'

'You BNP?', said Lennie of the death wish, 'It's just we were telt it wid be BNP geezers, ken?'

The guide's arm snaked out, grabbed Lennie's hoodie front and dangled him a couple of feet off the floor; 'Do I look BNP, do I fuckin' look like a white supremacist, do I have a Union Jack tattooed across dese knuckles ..' At the miniscule distance the guide's knuckles were from Lennie's nose there was no way of telling, so Lennie shook his head, 'We square then you Jockanese twat, we have nothin' to do with dose Neanderthals, I work for one of Mr Rodin's business friends and we're lookin' out for you as a favour but if you continue to piss me off that'll soon change.' Lennie's feet touched the ground once more, 'Understand?' Dennie and Lennie nodded vigorously, 'So what you want as your snap? One of my boys 'll bring it you along wiff half a dozen Becks, OK?' Lennie and Dennie were now nodding so fast it was surprising their heads didn't fall off, 'You two better be clean, shaved an ready cos tomorrow you bein' inducted into the Olympic swimming pool security staff, courtesy of Lord Crowe's 'Abuse the unemployed on the cheap' scheme. At least you'll have this flat to come back to - for a lot of your work mates it'll be a card board box near Liverpool Street Station, it's the same scam they worked for the Diamond Jubilee in June.'

Spud Murphy's private phone rang, he listened, nodded his head and just said, 'Right' before replacing the handset.

'Bravo 8.'
'Bollocks, Rod, you've just assassinated President Obama."
'Who've you got left ..... Angela Merkel ....  world domination 'll soon be mine, Dan old chum.'
'Rod? Do you think they've forgotten about us?'
'Could be, Dan, just could be. Zulu 5.'

Grindstone's meeting with the Cabinet Permanent Secretary over 'Cockleshell' could have gone worse but for the life of Grindstone, he could not see how. Grindstone's main fault was his failure to get the order confirmed in writing by the Prime Minister, the cirrhotic Sir Nigel or the late Madelaine Cakes. As the Cabinet Secretary raged away at him Grindstone's beaten child was just about to scream out about the tapes he had made, to defend him from the verbal onslaught, when he heard the calm adult voice saying do not tell him, we need the information for later and then telling his ranting parent to shut up as he was as useless as the manic child. The worm turned just ever so much more confidently. Make sure we do not tell him about the bank debit card and card reader either, we will need them to keep us out of prison. When the Cabinet Secretary had left Internal Affairs saying he could probably stop this mess from happening with his links to the SIS and SAS, Grindstone felt calm for the first time in his life when under stress, Grindstone understood rather than blindly panicking and reacting to circumstance, he had a plan.

The Cabinet Secretary talked to the boss of the SIS and without either of them ever saying what was going on they managed to agree that if there was something going on then the Chief of the SIS would now ensure it would be stopped from going on. The Chief of the Defence staff was less forthcoming in his meeting as he could not see how he could recall an SAS squad, he had not authorised to deploy, did not know what the deployment was or where it was and if it was an SIS / SAS operation no one at Hereford would admit the operation ever existed and the Chief of the Defence Staff must be confused. Eventually the Cabinet Secretary insisted the Chief of the Defence staff called Hereford and spoke to the Colonel in charge.

'Look old chap I know that as this is an SIS/SAS op, you will know as much as me about it (which is bugger all) but according to the Cabinet Secretary (and how he knows he can't tell me) there is a combined op been sanctioned called 'Cockleshell'. Apparently this operation has gone off at half cock and the prime minister, who authorised it, now wants it stopped.......  Yes, I know there should be a cancellation code but for some stupid reason one was not set up. The chapette at SIS is going to see what she can do to shut her end of the operation, she also does not know about, down -  if you get the gist - and I was wondering if you could do the same your end......... right, I see without a cancellation code your ops people will tell you there is no such operation .... how about a head count?   ........ no, I see the problem there, anyway put the word about could you that if 'Cockleshell' exists, it should cease to do so, asap, to keep the prime minister happy..... Good man, give my love to Chrissy, yes, I'll send your regards to Liz, bye."

On the South Bank the female boss of the SIS was less easy going and it only took a couple of E-mails to folk  who had told her about links to Internal Affairs to speak to the cell leader of the SIS end of 'Cockleshell'. It turned out that while the Scottish end of the operation had apparently triggered a response the two lads had never turned up at the rendezvous with their 'BNP Cell' in South London. Now all contact with the chief at the Glasgow end had been lost, the agreed sim card was non-contactable. The most likely reason was the Unionist SDL had somehow discovered it was a set up and as they had not taken any money, called it off. So even with out the instruction from the boss 'Cockleshell' had been wound down as being a 'blown operation' - it happens all the time. The boss of SIS made her call to the Cabinet Secretary and was met with a clear sigh of relief as it would appear the SIS end of 'Cockleshell' was a non starter.

The Cabinet Secretary decided not to tell the Prime Minister the good news that his nuts were out of the fire until the Friday briefing, it would do him good to stew for a few days in the run up to the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Maybe in future he would understand a Cabinet Secretary's memo to the prime minister was, in fact, an instruction.

Spud Murphy was a known 'respectable businessman'. He had not only been president of his local Rotary Club but had worked his way up to be his local District President and was currently worming his way up over the fences and through the ditches of the RIBI - his next ambition was to be RIBI President. His good works for charities in Glasgow's East End were well known and his championing of Glasgow's 'Kick Institutional Sectarianism in Touch' kept him in the Evening Standard either side of most 'Old Firm' derbies. KIST had been his idea, his wee undertaker style joke that they would take the dead body of Glasgow's sectarianism and put it in its 'kist', nailed down never to return. Murphy had also recently become aware that Strathclyde's finest were snooping around his business as part of their Organised Crime Operation, one of the senior constabulary members had let it 'slip' at a recent Masonic meeting (the membership of which would raise an eye or two at his local Catholic church of Saint John the Maxton, if the priest got wind) -  a purely business related membership as was his rather out of kilter membership of the Orange Lodge. Murphy liked to have a lots of fingers in a lot of pies, to the extent he had to occasionally borrow other folk's fingers from time to time - but he usually did put them back.

DS Ambodach of Strathclyde Police’s Organised Crime Prevention Squad was very interested in Mr Murphy. Mainly in the special service Ambodach suspected Murphy ran for the McGovern Syndicate. Apparently while other folk launder cash for the McGoverns, Murphy’s business laundered corpses. The team had noted on occasions where some minor member of a gang or business associate who was getting to be an irritation that, just after Mr Rodin had paid a visit, a black van - popular with undertakers - would turn up, a gurney would be rolled out and a body bag rolled back in on the gurney. The routine used to be that said body would then turn up at the Tail of the Bank, say, in four to six weeks time but in the last six months this had ceased happening. On one occasion Mr Rodin failed to pay the family compensation for the rapid departure of their chief bread winner and Doug the Bam’s wife made a formal complaint to the Polis. For once his team had an excuse to go after Rodin and get him behind bars. Hopefully this time for a decent stretch (say 25 years) rather than the previous occasion when eight years in the 'Bar L' ended up as only two after an interesting arrangement between the Strathclyde Police Board and the Glasgow Fiscal‘s Office which had never been fully explained to the Organised Crime Squad who had sent him down in the first place. They gathered all the evidence, witness statements with full corroboration, sent it to the Fiscal's Office and waited for the case to be agreed as worthwhile, prior to arresting Mr Rodin. To their huge surprise and dismay they were told the Fiscal would not open a case on this issue. There was a special alibi provided by the Fiscal‘s Office itself, the victim’s death certificate. The Death Certificate stated he had died from a brain haemorrhage and been cremated. Sure enough in the Glasgow Fiscal's office there was the official record of Doug the Bam's demise, all above board and had been signed off for disposal by the depute fiscal.  DS Ambodach knew the brain haemorrhage had been caused by a 9 mm pistol round but with no body, there was no proof. It turned out Doug's funeral and cremation had been provided under the auspices of Mr Murphy's economy funeral chain - Dead End Collections.

DS Ambodach had managed to get a phone tap authorised without his senior officer's knowledge - he thought - but someone had blabbed, that was clear from the increasingly furtive nature of Mr Murphy's telephone 'business contacts' with members of the McGovern Syndicate. One word had triggered his interest in a conversation between Murphy and Rodin - 'Cockleshell'. Apparently the original set up of 'Cockleshell' had been changed and a new operation 'Bugger Cockleshell' had been put in its place. 'Bugger Cockleshell' appeared to cause much hilarity between Murphy and Rodin as they were looking forward to seeing it on live TV at the weekend. It was just Seonidh had been talking to him about some Unionist plot to kill the 'Yes to Independence' campaign which just happened to be called 'Cockleshell' before they went to sleep last night, that triggered his interest.

That night, while having a post coital canoodle, Pheadhir Ambodach told Seonidh of the  nature of the conversation between Murphy and Rodin regarding 'Cockleshell'. Seonidh became very happy and very excited; happy and excited enough to give Pheadhir second helpings.

The following morning's personal briefing by Seonidh to Gemima was about the apparent failure of 'Cockleshell' proper and the likelihood the new operation was outside Internal Affair's, and therefore the prime minister's, control which had them wetting themselves with excitement at the potential political mischief making both at home, in Westminster and across the world they could trigger. The biggest live TV event this weekend was the Olympic Opening Ceremony, so just how badly was 'Cockleshell' going to backfire - that was the new question. First Minister's Questions would be a good place to start spiking Westminster's propaganda guns.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Richard the Second - a play for to-day?

In Richard the Second, Shakespeare explores the relationship between an increasingly self absorbed king and his people, what happens when the ruler believes in his own public relations over objective evidence and takes all power and wealth with no consideration of the impact this has on the people - simply because he is 'King' and he can. The parrallels with the current behaviour of politicians at Westminster is clear. They too think they can act with impunity, ignore the laws of the land, take what ever they want, impose regressive taxation on those least able to pay and 'get away with it.

The Westminster Parliament is heading for its 'Richard the 2nd' momment and whether it will be as unpleasant as the removal of a Hitler, Hussein or a Gadafhi or a seemless transfer of power - is now in their own hands. Westminster politicians are trying to ignore the biggest political crisis to hit Westminster since the beheading of Charles 1st - their failure to deal with the UK outside London and the SE's wish for greater autonomy and less centralisation. Westminster is now a neoliberal dictatorship whether in the hands of the Tories or 'New Labour'. The UK my father fought for in the 1940's (and put myself in harms way in the 80's) has been destroyed over the last three decades. It is no longer a country 'Fit for Heroes', it is a travesty of that country and ideals. The UK is now country Dicken's would recognised as unchanged since Victorian times - 'its the rich that takes the credit, its the poor what gets the blame'.

This Westminster Parliament continues to beleive its own press releases (served by a media as fawning and self indulgent as any of Richard the Second's lackeys) its message that the constiuent parts are nothing without London and the SE plus it is only fair and right this one region sucks the life out of all the others for the 'greater good'. Yet that 'greater good' simply appears to be predicated on a very small minority (including politicians) making a vast amount of wealth for themselves at the rest of the country's expense. The seperation of state and comercial banking interests grows ever narrower and narrower with the slip by Alistair Darling that the last New Labour government did, indeed, seek to 'influence' the London Inter Bank Lending Rate while knowing the rate was already being illegal manipulated to create 'profit' for the banks and 'bonuses' for the traders. The first concerns over illegal inter bank lending practices were raised with Treasury officials in 2007. Clearly a Nelsonian blind eye was turned as high bank profits meant good tax revenues for the New Labour run treasury to help hide the real impact of all the 'off the book' borrowing Brown and then Darling had been indulging in via the discredited PFI model.

Osbourne merely continued these 'Chinese practices' (and is now left holding the baby) as the layers of lies covering Westminster's handling of the UK economy over the last three decades begin to unravel at an ever increasing rate. Meanwhile, in Scotland, we have another Westminster Treasury mouthpiece telling us Scots we are too poor, too wee, too stupid to become an independent country. Well Danny 'Beaker' Alexander I am pretty certain the natural fiscal conservatism and couthiness of the Scot could not make anywhere near the complete and utter travesty and economic mess Westminster has now achieved for the UK outside London and the SE.

Here's the thing which nobody in the Westminster village or its media have grasped, Scots do not want to see an end to the Union, they are clear they wish a new Union settlement that reduces Westminster to being the English Parliament and a new Council of the Isles (maybe even including Eire) to be created to look after areas of common interest such as defence, EU or foreign affairs - this is what most Scots mean by 'devo-max'. The problem for Westminster is, like Richard the Second, Westminster can only see the UK through its self reflecting prism of self interest. For Westminster the issue is 'have or have not' and just as Richard the Second was unwilling and unable to accept Bolingbroke's compromise - Westminster is either supreme ruler or it is nothing.

Westminster is like a dying star and I would suggest we are seeing the red dwarf phase at present where it tries to consume everything around it to keep going by expanding its reach but ultimately it will collapse into a black hole and consume itself. 

Westminster is currently set on a course to become 'nothing'. Our choice as the UK electorate is to act against Westminster hegemony or to watch what is left of the UK (after Scotland rejects the current Union in 2014) fall into anarchy and division as finger pointing for the mess created by Westminster's intransigence begins in the Westminster political class and media whores, whose ignorance and deafness will bring England (in the main) to this pass.

Its is the English electorate and not the Scottish electorate who are standing on the edge of an abyss. the Scots are clear what they want and have the means to achieve it with or withoout Westminster's approval.