Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Money Talking ....

The weakness of the Yes campaign centred around the future currency of an independent Scotland, made much of the claim the UK pound was England's alone. To a Scottish populous for whom Sterling has always been big in its economic sense of security the idea of the loss of the pound with no coherent alternative always seemed a step too far.  Wee Eck's 'It will be alright on the night' reassurance did not cut much ice and the threat that Scotland could not use the pound that was one of the 'Fear Campaign' strategies which held and still holds sway especially in the 'maybees aye, maybees naw' end of the No voters - especially those with investments, pensions and savings.

It remains an area of supreme weakness in any future referendum campaign for a 'Yes' vote and has, as yet, established no clear policy beyond the 'They can not stop us using the pound Sterling as it is a freely marketable currency and an international reserve currency.' line which failed us so badly in September 2014. In any future referendum there will have to be a clearly defined policy which may remain at its heart to continue to use the pound Sterling but looks more clearly Scottish, distinctive and marketable.

The choices Scotland faces in deciding on its currency are currently threefold given the European / North American market we carry out most or trade in. We can float our independent Merk against the petro-dollar, the Euro or Sterling.

The petro-dollar puts us within the thrall of the US Federal Reserve and its relationship with Wall Street. It will help boost our North Sea oil and gas industry by reducing the costs entailed converting dollars to Sterling for operations and oil trading. This move would make investing dollar currency in Scotland to develop third and fourth generation alternative wind and tidal generation easier as big US oil businesses start coming round to becoming big energy of all types of production businesses. A lead already being seen within both Shell and BP as they seek to become 'greener' companies over the next decade and build up a portfolio of wind and tidal start ups so they can enter the market when it is 'right for them'. The risk is as the global centre of world economics migrates ever more towards SE Asia and China is the dollar a safe long term bet given the serious USA trade and banking deficit which underpins it. Will the inevitable fluctuation of the dollar better match the needs of our own small Scottish economy or drag it down as currently happens with Sterling which is predicated always on the needs of the City of London and not on the sectors of manufacture or trade. Take up your crystal ball and see what you see.

Setting up the Merk to seek compliance with Euro entry raises the same problem which faces Denmark and Sweden with equally strong economies of similar size to Scotland, on a per capita basis. It does not make sense to put your economy within the straight jacket of a Euro which is the Deutsche mark in all but name unless your economy is in synchronicity with the German and Benelux nations, something which France, Finland and Austria manage with difficulty but has seen the Mediterranean and fringe nations fall off the edge. The stand out example of lack of synchronicity being what has and is still happening to Greece's stagnant economy and the related collapse of living standards in that country. The advantage would be the reduction of trade cost and easier Euro inward investment when dealing with one of our main markets but we would be simply swapping London and the Bank of England with Frankfurt and the ECB; who is to say it maybe better dealing with the devil we know.

This brings us to the pound we are told we can not have even though its is a freely tradeable, international reserve currency - after all, even China holds sizable Sterling reserves. In terms of Scottish trade setting the Merk off at 1 Merk to the pound sterling makes most sense and creates the least dislocation with the country we do 70% of our business with, one way or another. Within our own Scottish economy parity of the Merk to the pound Sterling will restrict the internal price inflation routinely seen within a replacement currency as the supply chain seeks to make use of the initial confusion to round up prices. The Merk to pound equality also means that international dealings already established in pounds will remain unchanged, at least in the short term. The downside is the Merk floated against Sterling could rise or fall in value in the short to medium term as the markets decide just how strong an independent Scotland's economy is.

Recent UK Treasury crystal ball gazing suggested the Scots Merk could be worth £1.10p within the first few years of international currency trading given the underlying balance and strength of the Scottish economy. A CBI report in 2012 recognised that Scotland was then and probably still is, leading the UK out of economic stagnation. As independent academics in the economic field have pointed out time and time again Scotland more than pays its own way in the current UK scheme of things, no matter how hard the UK Treasury seeks to fiddle the figures to say otherwise. At the heart of Sterling is a trillion pound debt black hole which shows no sign of reducing this side of 2020 and a banking and finance sector still trading and packaging debt, as if it was an asset while seeking to drag even more UK citizens into its 'free credit' maw with short term 'payday loans' at four figure rates of interest.

There is the 'reality' for a future independent Merk at its birth, a fiscal abyss on three sides, each with potential but all of them containing the same weakness at their centre which is the Western world's debt based fiscal speculation. The brave answer would simply be to say, "This is the Merk, world, now deal with it if you want our energy and trade." but it does not do much to reassure the 'maybees aye, maybees naw' fringe of No voters, worried about their Sterling pension funds and investments, does it?

Yet while pitfalls and traps abound which ever way we seek to travel when creating an independent Scotland's currency we need to have a clear path, defined and argued which ever of these poisoned chalices we seek to suck from.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Unionists - learning Goebel's lessons

It is interesting to note how, lately, the highly aggressive 'Feckless poor, sick and disabled' message has been toned down in the UK Unionist media from a strident, they are robbing us normal tax payer's blind (Daily Mail /Telegraph) to a more insidious message from Duncan-Smith's DWP; this group of scroungers do not deserve the hard working Briton's sympathy or empathy;  food banks merely encourage them to continue in their feckless ways and should be closed.

I am currently reading 'The German War' by Nicholas Stargardt (Bodley Head) and it is his analysis of how the German population were manipulated in 1940 to accept 'Total War' that lead to my comparison with Mundell's latest 'It is all the SNP's fault' outburst with respect to the impending Scottish council budget cuts in my previous post

Today as I was reading and understanding more clearly what enabled a well educated and cultured German population to be manipulated into conforming with the Nazi answer to the 'Jewish Problem' I came across a remarkable paragraph which discussed how and why the German population turned their backs on their once 'good' German Jewish neighbours with such ease. The attempts by Goebbels to bring the German people onside by encouraging them to join in the National Socialist campaign of removing Jewry from 'Greater Germany' by seeking to create hatred and disgust in the 'Jew' as the recruiting sergeant by late 1941 failed to gain any traction. Goebbels then shifted the media into a low key process of making the German population guilty by association by tacitly admitting what was going on in the 'East' but how it was for the greater good of the German people in the long term at which point they would be grateful. It was for this reason the Gestapo and SS did not clamp down on the black market selling on goods from the 'relocated' Jewish families' homes, instead they took a 25% commission on all auction dealings of property from Jewish homes, generating an income for the SS, alone, of some 7 million Reichsmarks between September 1941 and September 1942 when 'Greater Germany' was officially declared Jewish free. 

The German people knew well what was going on via letters, photographs and soldiers' descriptions of mass executions of Jews from the Eastern Front, alongside the auction of their ex-Jewish neighbours goods and chattels. Many did not approve and worried what might be inflicted on Germany if they lost the war in the 'East' against 'Jewish-Bolshevism' but as long as they were winning, it was happening in the 'East' and not in Germany, it was none their business and bought into the Nazi Government line of the ending of the 'Jewish Problem' by default. Because the German population had convinced itself that the 'processing' of the German Jews was happening in the 'East' it was quite easy to believe the camps within Germany had nothing to do with the processing of Jews and were just 'labour camps' for feckless, dissolute, criminal and lazy Germans and their criminal colleagues from occupied Western nations. So effective was this communal mental dislocation between what happened in Germany and what happened in the 'East', there can be no surprise in the level of denials about the conditions in the labour camps based in Germany nor the treatment meted out to the inmates, by German people local to camps like Bergen-Belsen or Dachau. This sort of behaviour could not happen in civilised Germany so did not, no matter what the pollution and smell told them. Communal denial is vital to the process of all government which in turn interprets this as public consent and justification for their actions.

Duncan-Smith's DWP along with Hunt's DoH have tried the shouting, headline blaring recruiting to their belief of the feckless, greedy poor or the failed NHS in England, respectively, via their tame media outlets, and it has fallen on deaf ears: outside of those already sold on the message. 70% of the UK population have a range views from the 'What can I do?' shrug, having their own doubts about the message or those who flat out disbelieve what is being said (an ever growing majority). Duncan-Smith and Hunt have retreated into silence to lick their wounds and instead are feeding stories into the media about the few folk who attempt to defraud welfare or the NHS by naming and shaming them while claiming they are just the tip of the iceberg of fraud perpetrated by the unemployed and sick on the UK State. The subliminal message is clear, the UK Government is doing this for our own good and some point down the line we will be grateful. A message straight out of Goebbel's propaganda text book, delivered with the same intent, we will turn a blind eye to what is being done, in our name, as it is for the 'greater good' and so become guilty by collusion.

At this point I would like to quote from Stargadt's book, The German War, p246:

" According to Noelle-Neumann, fear of isolation and social sanctions tends to silence individuals who feel they are in the minority, reducing their potential number; meanwhile press reporting of the 'majority' viewpoint augments and stabilises its moral position..... Noelle-Neumann drew attention to the psychological importance of private pressures in fomenting an individual's fear of isolation."

This only works when there is a majority view of over 60% support to silence the opposition. This is why getting over a 60% 'NO' vote was vital for Better Together as any lower number would fail to resolve the issue. Once 'Yes' support stayed steady above 40%, Better Together knew they had failed in their primary aim to isolate 'Yes' supporters as a minority which, in turn, explains their continuing bitterness towards 'Yes' supporters and their real 'bete noir', the people who are really threatening their game, the SNP and its membership, not just in Scotland but now across the UK.

What has happened in Scotland is support for the SNP no longer has 'private pressures' placed on the membership because the SNP now has a bigger popular membership than any other of the Scottish Unionist Party wings, a membership which has been taken up across the UK. Being a member of the SNP is no longer a joke, no longer something weird, it is a serious commitment and a political statement of intent to see Scotland independent.

Agreement with Hunt and Duncan-Smith's destruction of NHS England and the UK Welfare system no longer holds a consensus among the average UK voter because they are increasingly seeing the socially destructive nature of the current UK Government policies. The same holds to a lesser extent with the UK Exit of the EU campaign. As the public see the sort of politicians; Farrage, Fox, Cash et al, who are promoting the out campaign, the more the majority of UK voters increasingly decide these people are not speaking for them. Yes, there are some big problems with the EU, some of which are at the heart of the current political structure; the primary one for me is the Euro being the old Deutsche Mark in all but name, but it has achieved, so far, what it set out to do, prevent the endless cycle of major European wars which have ravaged the European continent repeatedly between 1500 and 1945.

Cameron and Osborne have lost the argument with the UK voter over tax credit cuts, Duncan-Smith has lost the battle for his DWP reforms with the UK voter and Hunt took on the wrong group when he attacked NHS England's junior doctors and nurses with his back door pay cut attempt or his attempts to justify the back door privatisation of NHS England especially now as Tory health policy created fiscal black holes in NHS England, to make it easier to privatise, begin to drag Hunt over the event horizon towards his political doom; as key skilled NHS England staff walk away to better jobs elsewhere in the world, including Scotland.

Here's why the Unionists are so angry - the SNP have changed the game; not just with a majority in Holyrood but at Westminster with their 56 MPs. SNP MPs who are gaining support across the UK as they point up Tory Government policy failure after failure in a way Labour can not dare to. After all, Labour are party to the same levels of collusion in dubious acts, contrary to the wishes of the UK electorate, over Iraq and almost every other recent policy at Westminster whether their own or, now, Tory. 

Like the German population in May 1945 faced with the truth of the extermination camps on their doorsteps, all Labour and its remaining cadre in Scotland have left is denial after denial of their policies over many decades including in 1997 and 2005 refusing a Forth Road Bridge replacement to their 'volte face' over current budget cuts to Scottish Councils, after the real Labour party voted for the cuts at Westminster; it wisnae me, some big boy did it and ran away, honest, Scotland. 

Aye right, Labour, time to face up to the impact of your policies on Scotland and beg some forgiveness. Then a bit of honesty over your decades of collusion with the Tories at Westminster to keep Scotland down would not go far wrong but that can only start by publicly admitting Tony Blair was a snake oil salesman and Blairites were only ever really interested in their own wallets and future employment ... Eh, Darling? Brown? Blair? Then there is the massive 'mea culpa' to come for the cover up and suppression of the 1970's McCrone Report on Scotland's Oil.

I can not see any of this happening in a month of Sundays, can you?

Bye, bye Labour; watch the door does not hit your backside on your way out of Scotland.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Imperator Fundili Mundelli - Veni, Vidi, Vomi ....

The thing about an interest in history is how it educates you to see the same old tricks being played on a presumed gullable populous by politicians seeking to protect their own backsides from public scrutiny by variations of, 'Look! There's a squirrel.'

In May 1940, as the German Blitzkrieg was battering its way across the Low Countries, a squadron of German Heinkel 111 bombers mistook Friebourg in Germany for Sedan in France and bombed it, causing numerous fatalities among its German population. Of course German propaganda could not admit they were bombing their own people so cast around for a scapegoat and blamed the RAF while quietly side stepping the already printed stories of how the Luftwaffe had removed the self same RAF from the skies of the Low Countries. Instantly the tales of the RAF 'terror raids' on innocent civilians became fact, even though no RAF aircraft had been within 100 miles of Friebourg that day. On the wave of disgust felt by the German public from the Friebourg bombing Hitler came up with his for every 1000 kilos of bombs the English drop on Germany, we will drop five times as many on English cities speech. Herman Goring made the claim that no RAF bomber would ever reach Berlin, let alone any other German city, only to wake up next day to be told the RAF had bombed Berlin in response to Hitler's bombing of London and flown away without a scratch. The RAF that night managed to bomb the US Embassy and a couple of houses down the street. It turned out the RAF bombers could not hit a barn door if they were right in front of it as they only missed their target, the Berlin Railway terminus by around three miles, so much for RAF precision bombing. There were seven dead Berliners and 25 injured at a time when around 200 Londoners were being killed and six hundred injured most nights but damn these RAF 'terror bombers' roared the German media of the day, we must have revenge and flatten every English City. By mid May 1941 the same German civilians who had been calling for revenge for the murdered children of Friebourg had changed their tune to grudging admiration for the ordinary people of England who were the first civilians not to break in the face of Luftwaffe bombing. The more so as RAF Wellingtons, Hampdens and Stirlings started to pummel the Ruhr with area bombing most nights - still mostly missing their targets by a fair margin and more likely to flatten some isolated farm house than the Krupps Factory in Essen but wearing the population down with sleep deprivation all the same.

It is into this world of lies and hubris we must place the Unionist politicians and their claims regarding the SNP government budget for 2016-17. Imperator Mussolini look a like, Scotch Viceroy Mundelli, has taken a lift from Hiter's Friebourg bomb's speech except in this case it is not bombs he wishes to drop but the blame for the cuts to council budgets Mr Swinney announced in his budget speech. According to Imperator Mundelli, UK Government cuts to the Scotch pocket money are not as viscous and nasty as Mr Swinney's council tax freeze on Unionist councilors. Using Hitleresque hubris Imperator Mundelli is trying to claim Scotland is better off than the actual bottom line figures demonstrate and the real answer to these UK Treasury imposed cuts is to make the Scottish taxpayer pay one and half times the rest of the UK's tax using the 'new powers' in the Scotland Bill to balance the books. Now I might be on shaky ground but are the tax raising powers Imperator Mundelli claims Mr Swinney should use not been written off as disastrous and unworkable by their Lordships in committee and have been sent back to Mr Osborne, to think again. So we have Mundelli telling Mr Swinney to use powers he does not have and will not have any clue as to how they may work until February 2016 at the earliest. This is, currently, the Unionists best shot, their Friebourg moment - if you will. The Unionists have bombed the Scots with a Scotch Budget reduction of 5%, in real terms and, as the impact of the cuts hit their last Unionist bastions in Scotland's councils, are now looking to blame anyone but the UK Government for the negative political impact this is having on a Scottish electorate a majority who no longer believe anything Westminster Unionist politicians say nor their tame Scotch media outputs of 'SNP Baad' in defence of the Union. 

In the background Audit Scotland is only going and publishing reports about how badly many of these self same Unionist councils are being run using descriptions such as, dysfunctional, ineffectual, inefficient, self involved or phrases such as 'operate as a cabal' or 'detached from the community they serve' to describe their operations, budgeting and organisation. As others have pointed out, one way to protect Scottish council services from the UK Government budget cuts would be to get rid of the Council CEO's and other hangers on with their six figure, overblown salaries to save money rather than sacking the people who actually deliver the services for the council.

The dichotomy for Imperator Mundelli and the Unionists is their 'terror bombing by a thousand cuts' campaign is failing, instead of weakening support for the SNP, it is perversely increasing support for the SNP in Scotland as the average Scot, just like his German counterpart in 1941, increasingly sees all the Unionist claims for what they are, propaganda which seeks merely to scare them into line. It is interesting to note that by the middle of 1941 the SD were telling Hitler and Geobels, in their daily reports, ordinary German people were still listening to broadcasts from the UK, Switzerland and the USA even though there had been a prohibition in place since September 1939. The only good point, they informed the 'Fuehrer', was the German people were just as cynical about the truth of foreign news broadcasts as they were about their German news counterparts.

Imperator Mundelli does not even have this small comfort as 60% of Scots no longer trust the BBC as an impartial news presenter and see it as a Westminster propaganda front while, instead, they increasingly trust sources of citizen journalism such as Wings over Scotland, Bella Caledonia or even wee blogs like this Tarff Advertiser which gets, on average, 10,000 unique page hits a month.

The truth is you can not fool all of the people, all of the time; yet the Unionists still think they can in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, clearly demonstrated in the current levels of support for the SNP in opinion poll after poll.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

When your enemies agree ....

I am finding it interesting how the left wing groupings are agreeing with the right wing groupings in Scotland just how dangerous the currently dominant SNP are for democracy in Scotland. 

Their reasoning for this position on the SNP is as far apart as their politics but this does not mean the 'angst, sturm und drang ' they both feel is any less gut wrenching and I believe it comes down to the fear their style of politics is dying a death in a Scotland where competence is always more highly rated than hubris.

The left wing argue the SNP dominance is not good for Scotland because they do not have a seat at the table. In this they blame Labour for tarnishing the image of socialism as being 'Fir ra wurkers, pal' and killing it stone dead with Blairism or was it Sheridanism, to the point it is seen by many Scots as a 'Beyond the Fringe' movement residing out there, in the gloom to the far left of the Greens. In Blairspeak the left in Scotland are so far off Scotland's political map, at present, that all the triangulation in the world is unlikely to bring them home. These are the major problems RISE faces; lack of electoral credibility, as a group, and their unreconstructed Marxist politics which few Scots believe in. I will return to the problems of Marxist politics, within Scotland, later in this piece.

As for the right, their fear focuses mainly on their wallets and the impact a successful middle of the road SNP will and is having on their claims 'austerity is the only economic cure'. To understand Westminster's thinking on austerity you need to go back to the emergence of the English Empire in the aftermath of the Dutch Wars of the 17th Century and the Seven Years War with France and Spain at the start of the 18th Century, long before the term 'British Empire' had even been thought of. England managed to out build and out arm the Dutch, French and Spanish as a result of the economic invention of tradeable Government Bonds (debt) which offered fixed returns to purchasers of this debt coupled with the creation of the Bank of England to handle all trading in English Government Bonds (debt). Whereas by the early 1700's France was stony broke and the English pirate raids on Spanish Gold ships from the Caribbean was sending Spain much the same way, the English Government of the day was magicking capital from a potentially bottomless pit and the City of London became Westminster's chief funder. In return, English Governments agreed to a policy of what we would now call, 'light touch regulation', regulation which has resulted and still results in any number of disastrous financial crashes of companies trading in the City of London to this day. A City of London which was kept wealthy by UK Government borrowing for war and conquest over the next 200 years, as the British Empire they funded grew like topsy while many of their trading monopolies laid a stranglehold on the world's economy in the manner that global companies like Shell or BP still do. It was one such 'City' monopoly on tea and Westminster's protection of this monopoly which allegedly drove the British American colonies to rebel against and secede from the UK in the 1770's. A position which grows ever similar in a modern day Scotland which is increasingly having enough of Westminster's high and mighty claims while using Scotland's positive cash flow to the UK Treasury to pay for the current Westminster Government's ever growing debt. The only way the City of London can survive is if Westminster makes all us plebs pay for it. Labour would increase taxation while the Tories cut all aspects of public service provision from the Military to those dependent on welfare - it is one or the other if the City of London and the UK economy are to struggle along. Austerity or tax rises - take your pick.

Where the SNP are a real danger to this capitalist monolith, on which all Cameron and the rest's pretensions for London and Westminster lie, by only going and proving 'austerity' is not the only answer. The different approaches lie between the City of London's capitalism 'raw in tooth and claw, the devil take the hindmost' and John Swinney's more considered and socially responsible capitalism based on a real understanding of Adam Smith's 'A Moral Treatise' and the more famous companion book, 'The Wealth of Nations' neither of which would recognise nor argue for the near fascist approach to capitalism of Thatcherism. We frequently talk of the Scandinavian way of dealing with 'wealth creation' but few understand what we so respect is the Adam Smith form of capitalism in play where a work force is valued and not merely the bottom line on a spread sheet. An experiment first put in hand at New Lanark to great effect. This is the social democratic economic model at the heart of the SNP, the Adam Smith model where capital and people have equal importance, a model constantly bashing heads with the 'devil take the hindmost' capitalism of Westminster. SNP economic policy is based on the Adam Smith concept of capitalism that ethical business will fund the public need for health and welfare because both sides recognise the mutual benefits of doing so. Government's purpose is to facilitate this mutual benefit to both parties.

This is where the Marxism of the left comes up against the hard pragmatism of the ordinary Scots who are happy with wealth creation as long as they see the benefits. Marxism is simply the obverse of the coin which has 'raw in tooth and claw' capitalism on the other side. Marxism is just as aggressive political theory as Thatcherism but instead of a market 'knowing best' capitalist kleptocracy, it is a nomenclatura knows best autocracy. Instead of the City of London dictating political policy as happens at present, the Marxist Party leadership dictate political policy and in both cases society is excluded because it 'does not understand' these deep questions which need answered on its behalf. The end result is inevitably the same as Thatcherism, the poor still get shafted and the middle class pays the price with either their wealth or their lives or both, depending on the interpretation of Marxist philosophy decided on by the leadership.

The real danger to the old fashioned, dogmatic split between the UK's political left and right is if the SNP succeed in transforming Scotland to an Adam Smith form of economy by creating a truly social democratic Scotland, after all; just where does it leave them to exist?

As the political and economic gap between an inherently social democratic Scotland and increasingly right wing, capitalist England grows ever wider, at an ever faster rate, just where does this leave the Union?

How do you compete with SNP policies that appear to meet ordinary people's needs and expectations for the government of Scotland, time and time again?

As the people of Scotland grow more confident in the competence of the SNP Government acting in the best interests of Scotland, where does it leave the left and right in Scotland except to agree how dangerous the SNP are becoming, for their own selfish reasons and hopes for long term survival. 

It would be more honest if the left, right and their pundits simply threw their hands in the air while bemoaning what's to do - the SNP have most of the best policies. They will not, so look out for the next SNP baaad story, it will be along shortly.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Scottish people are sooh stupid ...

Apparently this is what the UK media still believes is true as revealed by this week's outpourings of SNP baaad stories many of which seek to distort what actually is happening, with what they think should have happened, to justify their increasingly rabid tales of disaster.

Take all the hubris over the Forth Road Bridge main span failure. While those in the Hootsmon or Repeating Record office make all sorts of claims about the failure of the current transport minister to act promptly and his clear culpability in the unexpected fatigue failure of the steel structure, there is little or no 'investigative journalism' going on into why, since the Scottish Office first knew the Forth Road Bridge would begin to fail in the early 2000's as far back as 1990, were all suggestions for building a second crossing denounced by a series of Labour (A Darling), Conservative (M Forsyth) and Liberal (M Campbell) MP's in Scotland as a 'complete waste of money'.

In 2000 the board of the Forth Bridge Authority (FETA) were warned of serious problems with the main span steel work if remedial work was not started quickly, followed by reports in 2004 (The bridge will be closed to HGV's by 2013) and 2007 (The main span steel work was in danger of imminent failure) all of which landed on FETA's desk well before the SNP Government removed the tolls, handed the budget for the bridge to Transport Scotland in 2008 and bridge maintenance to AMEY in May 2015.

The same media quickly scurry over the accusations they were trumpeting for their Unionist masters in 2008 that the second road crossing was simply 'Alex Salmond's Folly', a 'vanity project' which was 'not necessary' and bound to cost Scotland dear as the expense rose exponentially during the build courtesy of  politically inspired delays (as was the case with Donald's Folly, aka Holyrood Parliament building). Instead we have a second road crossing while not exactly 'just in time' in its delivery, given the unexpected main span steel failure and closure, will come in at a lower cost than budgeted for and be completed faster than planned.

Where does this leave Iain Gray, Baillie, Rennie, Harvey et al; except with egg all over their faces because if the SNP Government had not forced through the second road crossing build just consider the economic mess Scotland would be now in courtesy of eight years of Libdem / Labour inactivity on the issue from 1999. Then again, it would fit in well with their claims of Scotland being too wee, too stupid, too poor and unfit to govern itself.

Except for the National, no other UK 'Meeja' in Scotland is questioning the repeated failures of the FETA board to implement any of the recommendations from their own and external engineering reports for main span steel work strengthening over the seven years prior to the baaad SNP taking over the governance of Scotland at Holyrood. They are resorting to publishing 'leaked' minutes of FETA Board meetings after 2008 in an attempt to blame SNP budget cuts while ignoring the reality that FETA sat on sizable reserves from the previous Forth Road Bridge Authority, ring fenced for works on the bridge, which would more than cover the work.

It is not difficult, on a review of all the evidence available from source material, for a SNP supporter - like me - to suggest a Labour councilor dominated FETA made decisions in an attempt to undermine the SNP for the political benefit of the Labour Party, in the run up to 2011, rather than the appropriate custodianship of the Forth Road Bridge which was their actual concern, priority and 'raison d'etre'. Were the delays to main span strengthening all based on the presumption that Labour would regain control of their Scottish fiefdom in 2011 and arrive, just in time, like a knight in shining armour to save the Forth Road Bridge from the disastrous GNATS.

This is just as valid a point as the tosh and nonsense being pedaled in a finger pointing, howling, Unionist Meeja suffering from collective amnesia, as it grinds on with its increasingly dissonant SNP baad droning.

Monday, 7 December 2015

The Bridge / Bron / Broen ......Time Line.

1958 - The original design was expected to be good for 120 years from date of completion at the 1950's predicted rate of traffic growth.

1964 - The bridge opens to much fanfare as the longest single span suspension bridge in Europe and fourth largest in the world outside the US.

1990 -  The first concerns about the impact of traffic patterns already exceeding the bridge's design capacity are made to the Secretary of State for Scotland resulting in a 1992 report 'Setting Forth' which looked at all the possibilities for a replacement, rejecting a tunnel because of the unstable nature of the local geography and proposing the route the new crossing is now being built over. Alistair Darling accuses the Tory Government of wasting money on the report and was joined by Menzies Campbell in urging the Scottish Office to drop this 'ludicrous project'. Lang's successor at the Scottish Office, one Micheal Forsyth, agrees with Darling and Campbell and the project is dropped.

2001 - FETA warned about damage to expansion joints by heavy traffic streams on the bridge

2004 - Engineering reports confirm the earlier warnings that the Forth Road Bridge was now under severe engineering stress as a combination of corrosion and over loading had caused a 10% loss of strength in the main span cabling. The engineers predicted the bridge would have to be closed to heavy goods vehicles in 2013 and shut completely by 2020 if no solution was found. 

2006 - The only solution to closure and main cable replacement was to apply leading edge, untested Japanese dehumidifying technology and hope.

2007 - Transport Scotland reported on the state of the Forth Road Bridge: " In the past fatigue has not been a major factor for the Forth Road Bridge, except for the hangers. The most critical fatigue details are likely to be located on the deck of the main span. The deck plate and trough thickness would be considered thin when compared to current practice. ...... All routine maintenance is planned and carried out by FETA staff.

Opponents are already making claims a new bridge will cause total grid lock in the West of Edinburgh and be a nightmare for the local economy.

2008 - In the SNP quango cull FETA is scheduled to be shut down and after competitive tendering Amey get the Forth Bridge maintenance contract to commence 1st of May 2015.
In the past fatigue has not been a major concern for the Forth Road Bridge, with the exception of the hangers. However, it may become more important in the future. The most critical fatigue details on the bridge are likely to be located on the steel deck on the main span. The deck plate and trough thickness would be regarded as thin when compared with current practice, and so to prolong its life it has to rely on composite action with the surfacing. - See more at: http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/report/j8512a-03.htm#sthash.2pf9xwOQ.dpuf
In the past fatigue has not been a major concern for the Forth Road Bridge, with the exception of the hangers. However, it may become more important in the future. The most critical fatigue details on the bridge are likely to be located on the steel deck on the main span. The deck plate and trough thickness would be regarded as thin when compared with current practice, and so to prolong its life it has to rely on composite action with the surfacing. - See more at: http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/report/j8512a-03.htm#sthash.2pf9xwOQ.dpuf
In the past fatigue has not been a major concern for the Forth Road Bridge, with the exception of the hangers. However, it may become more important in the future. The most critical fatigue details on the bridge are likely to be located on the steel deck on the main span. The deck plate and trough thickness would be regarded as thin when compared with current practice, and so to prolong its life it has to rely on composite action with the surfacing. - See more at: http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/report/j8512a-03.htm#sthash.2pf9xwOQ.dpuf
In the past fatigue has not been a major concern for the Forth Road Bridge, with the exception of the hangers. However, it may become more important in the future. The most critical fatigue details on the bridge are likely to be located on the steel deck on the main span. The deck plate and trough thickness would be regarded as thin when compared with current practice, and so to prolong its life it has to rely on composite action with the surfacing. - See more at: http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/report/j8512a-03.htm#sthash.2pf9xwOQ.dpuf

2009 - Initial design work completed on second crossing, coming to the same conclusion as the 1992 report 'Setting Forth' that local geological instability made tunneling impracticable and a stayed crossing on the proposed 1992 route was the best solution given the known engineering problems with the current bridge

2010 - Bill passed at Holyrood to commence building the new crossing with only three votes against. 

Forth Estuary Transport Authority warned about impending catastrophic failure of truss end plates but decides to delay repairs on the basis of a cost / benefit analysis. This decision was made by the FETA board with no reference to Transport Scotland.

2011 - Construction of the new bridge commences, 57% of Sub Contractors are Scottish based companies.

2013 - The Japanese technology has slowed the rate of degradation of the Forth Road Bridge main span cables to normal operational parameters

2015 - May: the new bridge contractor, Amey, takes over from FETA and immediately begins to undertake the end truss strengthening program which FETA had decided to delay prior to the quango being wound up.

December - catastrophic failure of an end plate weld previously not thought to be at high risk, forces reduction to two lanes on the bridge and eventual closure as a combination of severe weather and traffic loading is considered too dangerous to leave the bridge in even part operation.

Unionist media ignores Transport Scotland's December press release and starts on a 'SNP bad' witch hunt totally ignoring the trail of actual events, FETA and the Unionist Parties' clear role in the current failure and delay in building a replacement bridge (and also the reason why the SNP were correct to ditch the quango of Labour council worthies):

The Scottish Government has fully funded all FETA programmes since taking over the funding of the annual grant in 2008. Prior to its dissolution, FETA made decisions on its programme and priorities of repairs completely independently of Transport Scotland. Amey has informed us the ongoing truss end strengthening works are to a different part of the truss end linkage system to that which failed this week. The truss end link member was not previously identified as requiring strengthening or to be at risk of failure. The unexpected nature of weld cracking leading to failure is highly unpredictable and this issue is unrelated to the other strengthening works. It’s deeply regrettable that when Amey has made every effort to explain the background to a complex situation, others are seeking to create mischief and apportion blame.

This is a deliberately simplistic time line of key events to help us understand what has actually been going on and what the mainstream media are happily ignoring. The evidence points the finger at FETA for the failure to repair the truss end plates having been warned of the need to strengthen the main span steel work in a 2007 Transport Scotland report - part of which is quoted above.

If there is a 'political slant' in all of this it is more probably the role of the local Labour council's 'put off until tomorrow' decision making within FETA and a strong hint of 'taking the huff' when the SNP decided to do away with the councilors' nice wee earner on the FETA board.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Eejitian Battle Planning

A couple of days ago I introduced you to the Eejitians and the Eejit Government touching on their customs, habits and language and giving you, by way of an example, how they deal with any Eejitian the Eejit Government  thinks is trying to subvert its purpose by actually thinking for themselves. Their solution to any Eejit who they consider a dangerous thinker is a classic Eejit one, rather than listening to the different idea in case it might be better than the one they are determined to follow, they shift the dangerous 'thought terrorist' some where far from Eejit's shores where they can not infect any of the rest of the docile and eejit, Eejitian populous with their 'not on message' views; as provided to the Eejitian populous by the two main Eejitian tabloids, the Black Hole and the Repeating Record. Within the Eejitian Government this process is known as 'posting the problem sideways' which works on the basis once the Eejitian concerned is living overseas, if they are really that bright, they will not ever wish to return to Eejit unless they are truly stupid.

I also discussed how the Eejitian Government was paying the British Empire to bomb Eejitian oil fields to get rid of the terrorist group Damnmess, the British Empire had put in in the first place to ensure Eejitian oil field security from terrorists and further the Eejitian Government had agreed to pay the British Empire oil company to restore the damage the British Empire bombing would inevitably cause to the oil fields. Thus it was a bit embarrassing when the Eejitian Defence Minister piped up would they not save a few billion squid (Eejitian) and do the job against Damnmess themselves using the expensive aircraft and bombs they had bought from the British Empire in the first place.

This brought a major dilemma for the Prime Minister of Eejit, the Rightly Rotund, Balefully Halfanahalf because he knew one of the only truly effective bits of the Eejitian Government was its military and to go against the Defence Minister would possible spoil his dinner, in the way a bullet in the head often does. His concerns for the state of his BAE and Raytheon shares and the vast dividend the British Empire bombing would bring his Swiss Franc funds in Zurich would have to be put on hold while on the other hand the 10% top slice for buying replacement Typhoon fighters from BAE could more than make up for it. Prime Minister Halfanahalf called for a coffee break in the Eejitian Government Cabinet meeting while he popped off to check the figures with his stock broker and hedge fund manager. The result of his fiscal contemplations were very pleasing and gave rise to him supporting the Defence Minister's proposal but put an amendment to the proposal for the Eejitian Air Force to merely assist the British Empire bombing campaign rather than doing it themselves. The Cabinet all agreed with this plan and the Prime Minister's amendment after quick telephone calls to their own stock brokers and hedge fund managers to check on the impact on their own US dollar or Swiss franc portfolios.

With this authority to go to war the defence minister met with the 12 crack aviators of the Eejitian Air Force to tell them of their great and noble opportunity to shed blood for their fatherland. Note: the Defence Minister was very careful not to define whose blood would be shed but given the condition of their aircraft the pilots had a good idea. Out of the 180 FU4 Corsair aircraft which had been bought at a World War 2 US Army Surplus sale as a job lot, the Eejitian Air Force had managed to get eight serviceable by canabalising the rest. The US Army surplus 500lb bombs were a mere twenty years past their use by date while there was enough .50 caliber machine gun rounds to allow each of the eight serviceable Eejitian air craft a three second strafing burst. The current fuel reserve held on the airbase would allow them to undertake three sorties, unless the Defence Ministry bought some more, which meant they would run out of fuel before they ran out of bombs. On the basis of this highly suspect logistical train the Eejitian Air force was going to war. The Black Hole and Repeating Record tabloids both ran articles on how the Eejitian Air Force was 'state of the art' and how it would operate alongside the British Empire as a major partner and had front page pictures showing massed Eejitian crowds outside parliament protesting in support of the war against Damnmess, well they did after the photo editors had photo-shopped out all the anti war placards and replaced them with pro-government slogans. Eejitian TV and Radio made no mention of any anti-war protests or that 80% of Eejitians wanted no part in the bombing, instead Eejitian meedja made a big thing about the Eejitian precision missiles their brave pilots would use against Damnmess which was news to the Eejitian Air force pilots until it was revealed their armourers had found 60lb rocket projectiles and their launching racks round the back of some old bedsteads in the armoury. The Armourers had test fired one rocket and apparently it worked without exploding on the launch rail, much to everyone's surprise even though its date of manufacture was 1944. The Eejitian army was forced to send the air force all its .50 caliber rounds so now the air force had ten seconds worth of strafing run per plane and fuel (enough for five sorties). 

So D-day came around and the Eejitian Air Force flew off in support of the British Empire air force's bombing campaign. Of course there was no way the Eejitian's FU4 Corsairs could keep up with the supersonic Typhoons and Tornadoes so to co-ordinate attacks they took off two hours before the raid to ensure they were there on time. Most of the Eejitian Pilots never saw the British Empire aircraft as they launched their bombs and missiles from ten miles away and 20,000 feet above the Eejitian aircraft's operational ceiling. By the time the dust had settled so they could see the target Damness were actively firing Stinger missiles and heavy caliber anti-aircraft rounds at them. It was also highly noticeable to the Eejitian pilots that the precision weapons of the British Empire planes had left the Damnmess positions untouched while wrecking chunks of the oil refinery left, right and centre. So they flew into the missile and anti-aircraft barrage mopping up largely untouched Damnmess heavy weapons positions. That our intrepid Eejitian pilots all survived unscathed had more to do with the relative low speed of their planes versus the modern predictor, fire control systems used by Damnmess which were designed to track and acquire aircraft operating at the speed of sound or above. Not much use to Damnmess when the British Empire which sold them the systems could jam them with ease and used stand off weapons anyway. More of a surprise to the Eejitian pilots was just how effective the 1944 era, 60lb rockets were in destroying Damnmess positions.

The British Empire claimed their raid a great success and forced the Eejitian Government to suppress all Eejitian Air force gun camera footage which showed just who had actually been effective in taking on Damnmess and the collateral damage done to the refinery by British Empire aircraft. The British Empire tabloids such as the Sun and Daily Mail, presented frames from the Eejitian gun camera films showing the destruction of Damnmess positions, claiming they were footage from the highly sophisticated British Empire attack, under the headline, "Gotcha Towelheads!".

The repercussion on the Eejitians were swift as their supposed Automan allies to the north started bombing the Eejitian airfield to protect their Automan supply of oil from Damnmess while their other supposed ally to the south, Sodallbaby, declared religious war on Eejit for attacking the true believers of Damnmess - though Sodallbaby never explained what this belief was they shared with Damnmess nor was it even true. On the other hand the Prince of Persil declared he would protect Eejit from all comers and especially his biggest enemy in the region, the King of Sodallbaby, with whom his family had a longstanding blood feud as to what was there actually to believe, how it should be believed and which one was true whether either believed it or not.

Our friend Scats; now safely in the Eejitian Embassy in Dublin, in spite of all Ryan Air's attempts to send him to Belgrade or Helsinki as the nearest airport to Dublin (honest, just a taxi ride away), learned a useful Anglo-Saxon phrase to describe what was now going on in his country and region from the beautiful, green eyed, red headed young Irish lady teaching him English, who he was falling deeply in love with; that phrase was, "a cluster fuck!"