Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Who am I to judge?

Who indeed.

Well the Pope as it happens, here he is - Jorge Mario Bergoglio or to use his stage name; Francis.

Conducting a sing-along on the Papal plane, you'd think the Pope would use a proper plane though...
So, who is the Pope exactly, its probably not necessary to explain, except to say; he leads the Catholic Church which has around the world 1,214 million followers. With that in mind, he's not without some blat. Which isn't to say they all listen to him, there are huge swathes of Catholic people around the world who prefer to ignore the less progressive ideas the Church extols and probably rightly so because some of it is a bit odd.

By many accounts, he's a different sort of Pope, seeming to be far more accessible. He is known to eschew the frills of high office, wearing simpler robes and adopting policies that are more people-orientated. He's also from South America making him the first non-European Pope, he's also the only Jesuit Pope and Pope from the southern hemisphere. I think I've used the word 'Pope' far to often in the previous sentence, its beginning to sound meaningless - you know - in that way when you say a word over and over again? I'm also beginning to sound like some demented puppet from cbeebies.

Anyway, I digress.

Why are we talking about the Pope? Well this actually. Francis (if I may be so bold as to use his stage name) has said:

"If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?"

He then went on to say in terms of Church catechism:

"It says they should not be marginalised because of this but that they must be integrated into society."

Most gracious and why not? But the church's position that homosexual acts are sinful has been reaffirmed:

Deputy Editor of Catholic newspaper The Tablet, Elena Curti said the Pope's comments were highly significant and progressive.
Speaking to Sky News, she said: "The manner in which he has done it is what's absolutely key. I mean the church has always taught that homosexuality per se, the inclination, is not sinful. It is homosexual acts that are the problem."

Putting to one side the caveats (you need to be seeking God and not engaging in homosexual activity) this sounds like a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, there are some proper throbbers representing the Catholic Church in the main stream media all around the world who'll take this as an affirmation of their more swivel-eyed views.

Gay marriage over these past few months has represented something of a vehicle for lobby groups - the gay representation have been using it to progress their cause and the 'church' has been using it to communicate its own. On the surface, the gay crowd want equality while various churches see it as an affront to the idea of holy matrimony.

As usual its not as simple and the effects are multi-layered. The gay lobby are looking to normalise homosexuality in society while the church (in this instance, the Catholic flavoured one) is ideologically & dogmatically opposed to it.

In terms of LBGT Youth, what the gay marriage debate has done is produce a chicken & egg situation. The gay lobby is pressing for equality in marriage and the church is resisting, but the gay lobby wouldn't be lobbying if the church wasn't so resistant in the first place and so on. Add in the subjectivity of faith versus the now fairly well accepted biological imperative of homosexuality and you have a real stooshy of a situation.

One aspect of these damaging after-effects is the clamorous negativity. The stinging criticism and dead weight of disapproval & disdain for a sexual preference that was never a choice made by young people - gay, straight or anywhere in between - listening or watching. Its difficult enough growing up with all the usual doubts and insecurities without adding this to it.

So, back to Pope Francis, here's a picture in case you've forgotten who he is:

Pope Francis visiting the Large Hadron Collider.

While his most recent words are a step in the right direction, they shouldn't be over-estimated. You can no more be straight and not engage in any sexual activity than be gay - to compel one to refrain while the other is free to indulge raises yet more questions of equality.

As an adult, I don't care, I don't require affirmation or acceptance of my sexual preference in order to be content - it is what it is and requires no approval. I keep going back to this though - when you're growing up, finding your feet and place in the world, the last thing you need is some stuffy old git - empowered by the words of another who is in a position of extreme authority - telling you you are less worthy & less equal than the person next to you.

Still, Francis is centuries ahead of the previous Pope who said:

"The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man's fundamental choice where he himself is concerned." 

Pope Benedict (A.K.A Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger) in a fit of silliness decided that sexual preference was not a conclusion of biology and that God made these decisions.

Pope Benedict XVI in the kitchen.

Going by that - even if you are godless - in this debate you have to accept that a god you don't believe exists made you and that science is just fanciful.

Frankly the man can't even make toast so its hardly surprising he got this the wrong way round.

Friday, 26 July 2013

A break from politics...

And an excerpt from the scintillating (no really, it is) latest short eTravelogue - 'On Arran'.

Praise from one happy reader (who is definitely not - repeat not - known to me nor was on the trip and using his Mum's Amazon account to leave a BBC-esque biased review.)

Paul Brown is the master of the modern tangent, allowing him to fill a highly entertaining, informative and funny book using the events of a trip on which very little actually happened. It's the ideal companion for a short trip to the lovely Isle of Arran, but if you don't feel like committing yourself to the journey you can always look through the places mentioned via Google Earth.

A very intelligent and well-written follow-up to The Great Glen Way, it shouldn't be too long until people are paying Brown to go places in order for him to write on them.

Here goes...

Coming off the ferry and on to the A841, the road which circumnavigates the isle, we turned left for Lamlash and the small settlement of Cordon just beyond, which would be our base for the duration. The road climbs inland over Clauchland point then descends into Lamlash and Margnaheglish villages with the arresting sight that is Holy Isle out in Lamlash Bay.

Digressing slightly, Holy Isle is home to the Centre for World Peace and Health - a Buddhist retreat which offers courses and accommodation for the hard core spiritualist, or for those who just want some peace and quiet. If you decide to stay, you do need to abide by the Five Golden Rules which are as follows:

To respect life and refrain from killing. (Fair enough.)

To respect other people's property and refrain from stealing. (Again, quite reasonable.)

To speak the truth and refrain from lying. (Ok, although there may be ramifications for the next rule.)

To encourage health and refrain from intoxicants, including alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. (See above.)

To respect others and refrain from sexual activity that causes harm. (An interesting twist on the 7th Scout Law: A Scout has self-respect and respect for others. Perhaps the Scout Association should adopt the final Golden Rule as its new 7th Law?)

The Scout Association generally won't accept that young people have sex, drink or use intoxicating substance. Official guidance for leaders if asked by a young person for advice or information is - give them a list of other people to ask.

I think even I could cope with these rules, anyone who has stayed in a Youth Hostel will know the true meaning of 'rules'; the Centre for World Peace and Health sounds like a blast compared to one of those gulags. Let me share an example with you now, while staying in a Youth Hostel in Glencoe, signs in the bedrooms read "Bed linen must be used on bunks, any sleeping bags found in rooms will be removed." Now I know why the sign was there, they didn't want sweaty Germans soiling the mattresses plus; it costs money to launder the bed packs we were given on arrival, (it actually felt a bit like going to prison and being handed our prison clothes; but never mind.) The point is, they didn't want to have to wash linen packs which hadn't been used and they felt people wouldn't be adequately insulated from the rubber mattress by the thick, zipped cocoon of a sleeping bag, only the finest, by which I mean thinnest most thread-bare sheet would do the job. I often find myself apologising for being a miserable old git but you'll get no apology on this occasion; it was a stupid rule enforced by a stupid person. The same stupid person also insisted that if we weren't back in our beds before midnight (and it wasn't even a school night,) she'd lock the doors and we'd be forced to sleep outside. We did make it back before midnight; we sat up drinking in to the wee small hours with a German school teacher we met earlier. Every now and again one of us would laugh a bit too gaily and our gaoler would thrust her head round the door and glare at us angrily, ironically, it was the German who suggested forming an escape committee.

Anyway, no whisky is allowed on Holy Isle, mores the pity, I'd have thought if you were trying to encourage spirituality; some form of spirit would be necessary.

So, on through Lamlash village past Arran high school, turning off the main road onto the Cuddy Dook Road and into Cordon where our home was to be for the weekend. I should say, the location was perfect, just a dozen houses with a small static caravan park (20 odd units) over a small river at the back of the garden, it was lovely. The cottage itself was homely and welcoming even although the power had been off and it was quite cold. Over the days I became quite envious; it would be really nice to have a bolt hole like this to escape to. To be able to sit at the table in the kitchen and peck away on the laptop (my lust for a rustic existence isn't quite complete,) warmed by the wood burning stove and charmed by the birds flitting around the feeder just outside the window. Less charming was the dead rat we found and 17 year old Finlay enjoyed poking with a stick in the back garden. Michael told us recently of a dead otter he and his Dad found in the same spot on a previous visit, which put me in mind of Edward Woodward in The Wicker Man. I sincerely hoped I was not to be sacrificed, I mean I'm not pure; why not take one of the young people instead? Finlay poked your rat, if any one deserves sacrificing, it's probably him.

I imagine most people will have floated off, navigated away or just got bored by now. But if you got this far; well done and thanks. Even if you don't buy it (links up in the top right hand corner there) please share on Facebook and Twitter etc, all money goes to the Scout group for which I volunteer.

Touching slightly on current politics, I think its fairly safe to say, Scouting is a pretty traditional organisation, members swear allegiance to 'God and to the Queen'. For what its worth, I don't bother with that side of it. I neither believe in god nor have any special regard for the Queen, I don't even have a uniform because I think its a bit naff. It is a good organisation though and does valuable work for and with young folk in local communities all over the world.

Its also an institutionally unionist organisation but I tend not to give a toss what the people at the top of the pile think. On balance, except for the occasional hard line royalist/traditionalist which you'd expect, most people - especially younger members - are optimistic about the idea of self-determination.

For those that aren't - I'm always happy to put them right.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Lets get this over with...

Royal baby...

The thought produces in me the deepest ennui, the wall to wall coverage - vapid commentary dressed up as learned opinion. If I was to express my feelings pictorially, it would be thus:

Probably get sued for using this image.
If I was to use words, they'd be; who gives a fuck? I know I'm being a hypocrite, however ill-tempered I'm being, I'm still adding to the royal baby zeitgeist - if its any consolation -  I shall be harming myself enthusiastically later for doing so.

If one paper could be said to be the most royaphile (a new term I'm coining) its got to be the Daily Express. It was already pretty worked up in the run up, today's headline probably felt like the newspaper (or rag) equivalent of an orgasm. Apparently the world is rejoicing now where it was waiting with baited breath before - eh - no it wasn't. Much in the way Great Britain likes to claim athletes as their own when they're winning, it now wants to claim international adulation for its latest subject, ignoring entirely the notion that the vast majority either don't give a shit or actively disagree with the idea of monarchy.

Its quite ironic that the Queen is seen as the epitome of discretion, indeed the royal reserve is probably world famous, yet, the cloying over-reaction to the royal birth (one of thousands born that day) is the very fuel that keeps the royals where they are. I think that is hypocritical and of a factor way higher and lot more fucking lucrative than my own.

So for the next couple of weeks we'll get more silliness dressed up as news, OK will go to war with Hello for the publication rights, Franklin Mint shares with go through the roof and mad grasping journalists will claim to be allowing the new royal family some private space to recuperate while secretly sharpening their telephoto lenses.

I feel a bit sorry for the kid, right now it has no idea what's in store for it. It could be whisked away and raised normally and be none the wiser. Instead, it'll be indoctrinated in to the royal way of life. Mum & Dad will make all the right noises, they'll say it'll be a down-to-earth upbringing with none of the arcane nonsense associated with the past. Their existence is so far from the norm though - to the great unwashed - it'll still be a blessed/bizarre existence.

I don't really mind the royal family, I can't quite bring myself to deploy too much ire for them - they are a product of their environment. Sure, there are aspects I think suck balls big time (Crown Estates, Civil list remuneration* which allows total non-entities an income at our expense to name but two.) For the most part, as I've said before - at best its a theme park or tourist attraction, at worst - a wank-bank of salacious gossip & news for the orgiastic gutter press.

I bet Facebook friends of Wills & Kate are dreading the onslaught of baby pictures, they truly have no escape. I've also read there are some people who genuinely thought the baby would be a lizard.

Of course this is a nonsense, although I'm waiting for the Daily Express super pull-out (unique access) royal supplement to be sure.

Mind you, would the Express tell me the truth? I don't think they would...

I'll wait for Hello or OK instead, this is so exciting...

Oh no, what's happened to me...

* Reading further, the civil list has changed slightly. The Queen now reimburses the 'parliamentary annuity' paid to her by the exchequer which funds sundry royals. That she does so out of the Sovereign Support Grant  (£7.9m) paid to her from Crown Estate income rather negates the benevolence of it - she's essentially reimbursing us with what is/or should be our own money.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Alex Salmond smells of wee

Do you know, I wasn't going to bother writing this, but I came up with the title and thought; how could I not.

So - as ever on this blog -  we start with the basics, who is Alex Salmond?

This is he.
In reality, it would be hard not to know who he is, although going by the usual fodder in the media, you would be forgiven for thinking ill of him and not much else.

He's the current leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland. Before getting involved with politics he studied Economics & History and St Andrews University. He's been an economist at the old Scottish Office (in agriculture) and at the Bank of Scotland (in oil.) He was born in Linlithgow, supports heart of Midlothian and enjoys a curry. He's been an elected politician in various roles at Westminster and Holyrood since 1987.

It is not my intention to defend Alex Salmond, anyone who's heard him talk will know he's well able to do that himself. Nor am I going to blindly agree with everything he says (although many a unionist protagonist would have you believe all supporters of independence do.) I'm just going to suggest he's not as terrible as the press and unionist supporters would have you believe.

Breaking it down, what is it he's offering next year? Putting all the presumption, assertion and conjecture to one side - what he and the SNP are offering is choice. Currently, your Westminster vote counts for nothing (unless you happen to vote the same way the South of England do.) 

Two examples among many.
Even if you quite like trident or vilification of the poor, you can still have and do those things after a Yes vote - the point is - your vote on it will actually count.

If we can suspend our disdain (and in some cases hatred) for Alex Salmond for just a moment, how can a politician offering choice, democracy and fairness be the target of such hostility? Its simple, the hostility comes from the media and the media are predominantly behind the retention of the status quo.

I know you're thinking, 'I just don't like him' or 'he's so smug' etc, you can continue to believe those things (and worse,) but you're not voting for him in the referendum - you're voting for proper representation. If you decide to vote no, you won't be saying no to Alex Salmond, you'll be saying no to having a voice in the way you are governed. 

Voting no because you don't like Alex Salmond personally or the SNP's policy on the EU (for example) is a bit like voting no to cooked breakfasts because you don't like a cooked tomato - its the ultimate in self-defeat. (As is voting no because you don't like Alex Salmond.)

A cooked breakfast.

Even the press - nominally quite keen on a Better Together soundbite - are beginning to hesitate when it comes to reporting daft negativity. It seems now they are turning their attention more fully on to Salmond, which isn't to say they haven't had a go in the past. The Daily Record stepped in to the breach with this:

Oh dear, I seem to have provided an image of a massive pile of crap, what I meant to provide was this:

The FM has written to a number of successful Scottish sportspeople over time congratulating them on their various respective successes and the Record thinks this is a bit sad and desperate. According to the article, the 'news paper' engaged in a six month FOI battle to get copies of the letters - none which has been answered by any of the sporty ingrates. Of course, that it was a 'six month battle' is part of the same article in which the Daily Record assumed a reply was expected. The letters basically said 'well done' which is a statement, not a question in need of a reply.

Alex Salmond was also criticised for unfurling a Saltire at Wimbledon, about which an independent councillor from Inverness South has lodged an official complaint. At this time, no complaint is forthcoming over David Cameron waving a Union Flag while in the crowd at the Olympic Games or Boris Johnson grimly flapping Union Flags while stuck on a zip wire during Olympic celebrations - both took place in, or in Boris' case, above London.

Personally, I don't mind Alex Salmond. While I don't agree with all of his politics I completely agree with the notion of self-determination and no other political leader is offering that to the people of Scotland. What I do mind is being manipulated by papers like the Record, I mind even more that a moronic tabloid thinks it could.

So by all means, dislike Alex Salmond but don't let it cloud your judgement over the independence referendum, if for no other reason than you'd be falling for an obvious red herring at the behest of the gutter press.

And yes @A_DarlingMP, there will be cooked breakfasts in a separate Scotland.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Andy Murray

So who's he then?

Not Daniel Craig

There he is and no mistake about it.

Andy is a British tennis player, most notably famous for winning on behalf of Great Britain; Olympic gold, the US open and now Wimbledon - he's the first Brit in 77 years to win the latter title. This is a big deal, especially for the folks back in Dunblane - a small village in the north of the British Isles - they were all especially proud of the UK's latest world class sportsperson. With the titles he has under his belt, the European tennis star is now targeting the coveted world number one spot currently held by Serbian Novak Djokovic.

On winning the much sought after All England Wimbledon winner's trophy - citizen of the world, carbon-based biped of the third planet orbiting the G-type star Sol in the minor arm of the Milky Way Galaxy and sentient being of the known universe in what many believe might be a multiverse-based reality - Murray tweeted: 'can't believe what just happened!!!!!!!!!!'

Personally, I don't fully buy into the idea that when Murray wins he's British and when he loses he's Scottish, but the BBC did a rare job after the Wimbledon final in managing not to mention Murray's country of birth. I know there are those saying 'but Britain is his country of birth' which I'd say is true - but you can also use identical hair splitting arguments to say Scotland is his country of birth.

Odd one out, who is not chewing a wasp?
As soon as I saw Salmond with the Saltire I thought - uh-oh, this won't go down well. I initially thought it was a bit crass but then, after listening to the gushing commentary, I thought actually, people might not know Murray was from Scotland. It goes with out saying Alex Salmond has been criticised strongly by the usual suspects for unfurling the flag (especially as it neatly frames a clapping David Cameron.) But when you remember the same David Cameron ran a St Georges Cross up the flag pole at Downing Street in support of England's World cup effort back in 2010.

In any case, flag waving by politicians is not with out precedent:

Boris Johnston, probably right where a lot of folk want him, although not for the same reasons.

David Cameron at the London Olympics.

Now you might say the Union Flag represents all of the UK so transcends all other flags of the British Isles and you could even be right, personally I don't really give a shit what flags are waved. The issue as I see it is - is Great Britain now so insecure that it has to blot out any mention of a sportsperson's place of birth, be it in England, Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland?

If so, it really highlights just how parasitical the Great British State has become. People criticise Salmond for being vain-glorious, for hijacking a sporting event for political ends. Surely though, if by producing a Saltire, an event is politicised - the same is true if you produce a Union Flag?

Or is this yet another example of one rule for GB and another for its component countries? (Answer; yes, it is.)

I'm chuffed to bits for Andy Murray and I'm glad he's taken all of the UK with him on his journey to Wimbledon success, any one - regardless of location in the UK - who supported him deserves to enjoy his victory.

There are those who say Salmond/SNP/Nationalists/etc would seek to take that away from the rest of the UK. I'd say there are those with a vested interest in the UK who seek to keep these things to themselves.

The BBC news website reported the following:

Mr Cameron also hinted that the first British men's player to win Wimbledon since 1936 would be honoured.
Asked about the possibility of Murray becoming Sir Andy, Mr Cameron said: "Honours are decided independently but, frankly, I can't think of anyone who deserves one more."
He added: "It was a fantastic day for Andy Murray, for British tennis and for Britain."

While Alex Salmond said when asked... 

...whether Murray's achievement had been a triumph for Britain, he replied: "Absolutely, and for tennis fans everywhere. Let everyone enjoy the triumph. But you will allow us just the little sneaky thing of the first Scot since 1896. Let us wave our Saltires."

My emphasis of course, but who's really being more fair and open?

Plus, there was a Saltire flying over 10 Downing Street during the final. While that might cancel out the St Georges flag flying during the 2010 World Cup for England; it also cancels out the political nature of Salmond unfurling a Saltire given Cameron was flying one back at his crib on Downing Street.

Which ever way you cook it though:

You did it, bloody well done son.
And to the kind souls featured in Rev Stu Campbell's article over at wings who's support for Murray was somewhat lacking allow me to say: A young chap I know had a rather unique way of dealing with any insults aimed at his person, he'd simply reply with the words:

'So's your mum.'

Friday, 5 July 2013

Because the last post was so heavy going...

Below is an email I sent to Facilities where I work some time ago.

I was - as ever - quite bored.

Who is it we complain to about the contents of the vending machines, in this instance, namely the ones containing confectionery. This week I have had a KitKat, a Crunchy and a 'Go Ahead' Yogurt Break Bar (Strawberry) all of which seem to have been stamped on before making it into the vending machine.
I'd be grateful if someone could inform the vending machine people that we in XXX (mostly) have teeth which we use to break up food before swallowing, it isn't necessary for them to break sweeties and snacks up in advance of our purchasing them. Also, arguably, if any one in the office did suffer from a dental deficiency; they could themselves or ask a colleague to jump up and down on the snack item before ingurgitation.
They might argue that the damage to vended confection is caused by the plunge it makes from shelf to vending area, this however is invalid since the machine closest to the lifts on the first floor (from which I obtain most of my daily sustenance,) the 'Go Ahead' Yogurt Bars (Strawberry) are already on the lowest-most shelf so only fall a meagre 20 or 30 centimeters hardly enough of an impact to render the product so disassembled it would be more efficient to snort than masticate it.
I'm sure you yourself have had such an item from a vending machine and would agree; the titillation by the array of treats behind the glass, then the gentle frisson of anticipation as you make your selection, only to have dumped unceremoniously in to the vending tray a Crunchy, Kit Kat or Go Ahead Yogurt Bar (Strawberry) that has been driven over by a van at some point; is a heart-felt disappointment after such intense avidity.
In this atmosphere of economic doubt and job insecurity it is the small things that sustain us including the odd harmless treat from a vending machine. Is it to much to expect these small treats to be structurally intact at the point of purchase?
I'd be grateful if you could pass this hope and dream along to whom ever it is that communicates with the people who fill the vending machines in the building.

Many thanks
0131 2xx xxxx

PS: I'll hold the Go Ahead Yogurt Bar (Strawberry) until the end of today for evidential purposes should you require it, after this time, I cannot guarantee I won't snort it or rub it on my gums.

Obviously I've removed any identifying information for fear of being the victim of a stalker, because as you all well know - I am regarded in some circles as something of a catch.*

* At least I was until they introduced care in the community.

The Scotland Institute

I totally understand why politics turns so many people off, at times it can be so boring it makes you want to indulge in a spot of self-harm. Its also really complicated and multi-layered - not because it actually is - but because there are those who make it that way knowing it'll drive people off allowing them to get away with, well whatever they like.

Here we have an example that both over-complicates and enrages in equal measure, I'll provide links, you can choose to take my word for it or you can go and see for yourself.

So, this Scotland Institute - what is it? Its basically a think tank set up by a man called Dr Azeem Ibrahim

This is he and yes, some people are that good looking.

His CV is quite impressive and from that link there, you'll see he has his own website (his biography page is a masterclass in self promotion.) That might count for something until you realise I also have my own website (this one) and I am a bit of an arsehole. So, having debunked the notion that having a website makes one special, we do have to accept that he's been quite successful, (no, I haven't thanks for asking.) IT consultancy, a macro-hedge fund (no, I don't know what that is either,) several successful companies launched, a Cambridge PhD - the list goes on.

The question is then, how can someone so demonstrably competent, so talented and accomplished allow his name to be put to this arse gravy then go on to defend it here? You can click on either link, the first goes to The Scottish Institute's report on what a Scottish Defence Force would look like and how it could be formed. It goes on at some length and was written by Dr Azeem with help from a long list of military and academic luminaries - you might want to click here (or not) and skim over the list of contributors to the report on pages 4 to 7. Do you think these people would - given their various stations in the British apparatus -  give an opinion that would diminish or risk their respective positions?

I mean, page five alone has two sitting lords, a Tory MP, three CBE's, two KCB's and one KBE spread evenly around two army Generals, a lieutenant General, a Lieutenant Colonel, an Air Commodore and no less than four ex-Secretaries of Defence (three Labour and one Tory.) If ever a group of people could be said to have immersed themselves in the British State; this would be it.

These people encapsulate a wide spectrum of knowledge and experience, they are also people with a vested interest, be it financial or emotionally, in the status quo. They've been asked questions about how an independent Scotland would defend itself and how the formation of a Scottish armed services would impact on the remainder of the UK.

The entire report is based on a bizarre tunnel vision, it is a virtuoso example of blinkered analysis. At best you might say the contributors could only ever answer in their own contexts - at worst, they could answer in a way that protects their own position within that context.

The report got a fair bit of attention in the press, it was on the telly and in newspapers but was somewhat lost in the background cacophony of unionist scare & threat that we've become so used to.

Dr Azeem responded to some of the criticisms on Newsnet Scotland here. This is where any respect I had for the good doctor's opinions evaporate:

Q: Scotland would inherit defence assets from the UK - your report makes it sounds like Scotland would have to start from scratch.
A: This argument is based on a simple misconception: that Scotland would automatically inherit any assets from the UK. It would not. This is one of the questions our report looked into at length. All military assets in Scotland legally belong to the UK government and if Scotland were to inherit anything it would only be by virtue of negotiations, not automatic inheritance. With defence cuts and an over stretched military, Westminster is hardly likely to give away its prized assets very easily.

The arrogance, the sheer grasping contempt. In four sentences, he's completely dismissed Scotland's contribution to the union's military over the past 307 years. Not just in cash terms either - Scotland pays more than its fair share as part of the UK's armed services in blood and misery. Yet we as country, a so called valued partner in the UK don't 'own' a share of any UK military assets? We'd expect there to be negotiations, but they would be from a position of a fair share of ownership; not the largesse of a beneficent Westminster Government which when last I checked, Scotland also owned its fair share.

Unfortunately that attitude pervades in the union, on the one hand they tell us they'd be sad to see us go because we are a valued part of the union. The truth of that statement is in what Westminster and the British State mean by 'value'.

This might be really boring stuff, (I've been typing with one hand since paragraph four or five because I had to ask a work colleague to stamp heavily on the other one to wake myself up.) But its also really important because it tells us how we in Scotland are regarded by the union and those who benefit from its continuing existence. Dr Azeem Ibrahim has done well for himself in the context of the union and he's welcome to the fruits of his efforts, but seriously, if he actually believes the shit he's shoveling above, it wasn't a think tank he founded: its a septic tank.

Don't bother looking for any positive reports about what a Scottish defence force might look like or how it would be formed - the wider media as usual doesn't consider it to be newsworthy. 

Mark McNaughton wrote this about The Scotland Institute and its execrable defence report, it's quite scathing and deservedly so, if you want to know more; it's worth a read.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Vince Cable

Its another one of these posts.

So, who is Vince Cable and why is he the subject of this post?

Here he is:

Oh dear. That's not Vince Cable at all, that was Patrick Stewart in his role as Dr Xavier.

This is Vince Cable:

Vince Cable is a Liberal Democrat politician representing that well known Scottish town of Twickenham, he's also the most recent emissary sent by Westminster to tell us all what a crap idea self-government is - its obviously much better having our interests looked after by people who don't actually represent our interests.

Vince Cable - up until the Libdems joined forces with the Tories - used to be quite popular, it was often said his was a lone voice warning of the credit crunch and subsequent economic crash in 2008. While all that may be true, it is a testament to the seemingly endless ability of Westminster politicians, who on the surface seem to be quite decent - to be terrible sell-outs who'll say anything they're told for a sniff of power.

With that in mind, Vince will be up in Scotland, presumably in his capacity as Secretary for Business, Innovation & Skills,  to present yet another Westminster analysis telling us how bad independence would be for Scotland. The ever-fair BBC are reporting with the headline -Scottish referendum: Independence will cost Scotland jobs, says Cable

Apparently breaking up the UK's Single Market will result in barriers springing up and trade-busting red tape crashing down severely restricting commerce between Scotland and the rest of the UK, or the UK and Scotland, or Scotland and the rest of the world... In any case, what ever it is; it'll be bad. Despite trade going on largely unfettered between other countries - many of which have never been in a union with each other - Westminster via the grandfatherly Vince, tells us it'll all become really, really difficult.

There will be new business regulations in place, Scottish firms will have reduced access to the UK single market (although no one explains how) and tax and pension complications would spring up for people who work cross-border (although other workers around Europe manage just fine.) Indeed, countries in Europe manage to have cities which straddle borders, I'm pretty sure the workers in those cities don't keep to their own ends for work - why would it be like that for Scotland and the rest of the UK?

Vince Cable, seen here being kept hard at work by a white robot went on to say:

Shit, that's Frank Langella isn't it? I need to pay more attention to the pictures I'm downloading. I  might say, if that was Vince Cable, the robot might be one of those cybernats we keep hearing about poised to launch a tirade of abuse* while the hapless Vince (or Frank in this instance) innocently beavers away with his tools.

Anyway, I digress. The report also talks about  transport and communication infrastructure - apparently Scottish haulage firms might have to pay extra to drive on English roads, broadband infrastructure in the North would lag behind the rest of the UK and those who like to post pictures of their tea on Facebook via their mobile phones would have to pay roaming charges in the rest of the UK.

Since Scotland is a part of the UK, Hauliers already pay to use UK roads - its a classic example of Westminster double counting - the old fall back position of ignoring the fact that people & business' in Scotland already more than pay their way in the UK. If we vote yes in 2014; we'd be paying directly to a Scottish government. Currently, it goes to Westminster where a good percentage is skimmed off the top and spent by a Tory government we didn't vote for with a paltry sum being sent back up the road. 

Again we're being subjected to this argument from unionists that attempts to persuade us that while we are an essential valued partner in the UK and all its workings -  absolutely none of the money you send to the UK treasury counts for anything. 

Of course, a Scottish Government could raise the rate of excise duty on HGV's - but they could also drop it to stimulate trade -  the point is, it would be our choice.

The report is a real festival of fear but descends into farce with mobile phone roaming charges, according to Westminster, England would become a 'foreign country' on Indy. Scots if visiting could be hit with extra charges - except - all roaming charges are to be scrapped under new EU laws before 2016, well in advance of Scottish Independence day. The irony is, if Westminster Tories do deliver an in/out EU referendum those roaming charges might apply after all - but not because of anything Scottish voters did.

The double-counting deployed in support of Scotland remaining part of the UK ignores what Scottish taxpayers already contribute year on year toward the upkeep of the UK state - they just add the estimated costs (usually highly inflated) of a new Scottish state on top. That they resort to such disingenuous methods to bolster their arguments surely is evidence in itself of a shortage of integrity and honesty in their cause?

If there was any doubt about the fear we should be feeling about Scottish Independence, here is an image of Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Employment Relations, Consumer & Postal Affairs and Really Long Job Titles hiding behind a curtain in abject terror.

I don't think this is Jo Swinson.

* Tirade of abuse = being corrected.