Friday, 30 August 2013

Ruth Davidson gum-bumping again

She's nothing if not tenacious, but then, she has that look about her. I suppose tenacity isn't just desirable for a Tory in Scotland, its essential.

Photographed during an a capella rendition of Rule Britannia.

Among other things, she said:

"If we were to leave the United Kingdom it would inevitably mean one set of rules and regulations in Scotland and another set just across the border in the remainder of the UK,"


"Different financial regulations, different employment laws, different insurance requirements, different tax authorities, different accreditation and qualifications with which small companies would be obliged to contend - all barriers to trade, obstructions to economic growth and impediments to the job creation in Scotland we all want to see."

She also vomited out a load of figures which meant nothing because the premise she deployed above while true - is also false. It's 'inevitable' because what she claims will cause insurmountable problems has actually been the case since the beginning of the Union.

"A sixth of a million Scottish jobs, nearly £10 billion of financial service exports, and most of that built on doing business within the single UK market. The facts are clear: Scotland is more successful and more prosperous by working in partnership with the rest of the three nations in the UK."
'A sixth of a million Scots jobs...' Why not just say 166,666 - or did that not sound like enough? Maybe we could talk about the one fourth of a million kids in Scotland who'll be living in poverty by 2020 if your party is allowed to continue what it's doing?

If I understand what Ruth is saying, Scotland generates (nearly) £10 billion in financial services exports, the tax from which goes to the UK treasury. Bear with me here, the UK treasury is currently controlled by a Tory-led coalition - a coalition that knows Scotland did not vote for it. 

What is more likely, the Tory-led government - realising that it can win Westminster elections without Scottish votes will a) send money north to garner votes it doesn't need or b) use it in the south to get the votes it does need.

I think Ruth's definition of a partnership is a bit skewed. 

Besides all that, she's horribly behind the times, these arguments have been debunked so often, I'm not sure why she bothers.

I'm not big on the emotional 'wha's like us' stuff, I don't really give a shit about all that. But what kind of person is so willing not just to do their country down but to actually do it a disservice, to damage the prospects of the people growing up within it? These reheated arguments are not facts, they're fabricated opinions-of-convenience based on half-truths, disinformation and cherry-picked statistics.

Ruth Davidson is doing two things here, she's preaching to a home crowd while keeping others good and scared. I'm not aware of any pragmatic reasons for voting no in 2014, (obviously I would say that,) but to do so because a bunch of amoral troughers assisted by their sycophant hingers-on kept you...

Me again.


Well, if you don't end up kicking yourselves, I dare say there might be a few eager volunteers.

Figuratively speaking of course.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

What is Better Together?

Oh dear God, give me strength for this...

So, from left to right; Johann 'MIA' Lamont, Alistair 'let-me-just-say-this' Darling, Ruth 'fan-dabby-dozy' Davidson and Willie 'whit-can-yae-dae' Rennie. ( I make no attempts at fairness, I didn't vote for any of them personally or for the parties they represent - I say parties - but since they're all essentially pushing Tory policy, there's only one.)

What are they to Better Together? Well, not much in an official sense but they do all support it's main policy - keeping the Union together - and are regular mouths-for-hire. Labour did try to pick up their ball because they got 'frit' about being associated so heavily with the Tories, they formed 'United with Labour', headed up by Anas 'my-daddy-got-me-this-job' Sarwar MP, campaign coordinator and alleged deputy to Johann 'what's-that-skippy-Johann-fell-down-a-well?' Lamont.

Next along is Alistair 'don't-leave-me-this-way' Darling who does have an official role, (he's a director of Better Together - henceforth referred to as BT or that 'shower of shites') and given Labour have done a runner probably feels some what abandoned.

Next along is Ruth '88%-of-Scots-households-are-on-the-scrounge' Davidson. She's an MSP bounced in to the Tory Leadership in Scotland by David 'I'm-so-fucking-insufferably-posh-I-hurt-my-back-while-water-skiing' Cameron, she'd only been in Parliament for a few months before being elevated - well I say elevated - to the 'top' job. Ruth made several lines in the sand, but later adjusted her views seemingly with the tides. I'm going to finish this paragraph here, Ruth 'put-yer-dukes-up' Davidson is a Tory so largely - and thankfully - irrelevant in Scotland.

Finally Wee Willie 'is-Scotland-in the North-Atlantic' Rennie, also an MSP, he's the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Just look at that wee face:

Don't you just want to give his wee chubby cheeks a squeeze? I'd like to say behind those affable smiling eyes lies a rapier wit and epee-esque acumen - but there isn't - at least not when he's on the telly.

We've already mentioned Blair 'Arkan?-who-the-fuck-is-Arkan' MacDougall  - Campaign Director for BT - and I  think once was enough. Others involved in the governance of BT are Jackie 'issues-with-the-truth' Baillie MSP (Labour) and Richard 'I'm-nearly-twelve-years-old-you-know' Baker - also - a Labour MSP. There are others, David McLetchie Tory MSP, who recently died, chaired the BT group, perhaps the only person with any intellect or wit - and I'm not saying that because he's dead (although I am refraining from adding a silly middle name.)

So what's the point in all this mithering? Well two things really.

Firstly, BT are also know as Project Fear, this was a name coined from within BT itself, its not something invented by Yes Scotland, the Press or by those viciously grasping cyber-nats. From the inception of the No campaign - their mission has been to maintain the status quo - they know from Polling data that the current constitutional set up enjoys the majority of support. They have very little interest in persuading more people to vote no, they're relying on keeping the 'default no voters' true to the cause and ignorant of the truth.

Why do I say that? This essentially. If you don't want to click on the link then fair enough, here's a digest: 

  • Ayr Flower show, Yes campaigners asked to leave then threatened with Police action for handing out information. No campaign not present.
  • Yes Campaign stall cancelled at South Dunfermline Gala. Reason? The No campaign weren't present - there would be an imbalance.
  • Yes Campaign 'shop' in Kirriemuir forced to remove a Yes Scotland banner after a complaint from a member of the public. Retrospective planning consent now required for painting the shop front at cost.
  • Queen Margaret University, Better Together leaflets left outside a lecture hall. A Yes Scotland rep asked if she might leave some Yes literature/info but was told no - the university didn't do politics. The university when told about the BT literature, feigned ignorance.
  • Davidson Mains in Edinburgh. Police called to investigate Yes stalls 'blocking streets', they turn up but no action is required.
  • Finally and some-what bizarrely, Yes campaigners turned up to hand leaflets out at The Bruce Festival in Dunfermline but were told to leave by organisers. The director told the Yes reps - Bruce fought for money, not independence. No BT presence there either.

Well, I suppose that's one theory. I dropped history so couldn't possibly comment.

So by not turning up to campaign, Yes Scotland - which doesn't enjoy a default majority (yet) - can't then campaign at these events. Essentially, by doing nothing, Better Together hope to nobble the referendum for the Yes side. As long as they don't lose any of their precious 'default no voters' and Yes Scotland isn't able to gain any of the undecided's or those DNV's - Better Together couldn't give a toss what happens.

Secondly, (and finally) Better Together Glasgow is launching at the end of August. If you do click on the link there (and I fully understand if you don't) you might notice it doesn't say where the meeting is taking place. Its billed as a 'public' meeting in a 'city-centre location' which to me means its open to all, so you'd think anyone could turn up, (if by anyone they mean anyone who's RSVP'd with their email address and post code.) Presumably (if they pass muster) they'll be sent joining details, perhaps delegates - sorry, I meant members of the public - will be picked up in lay-bys around Scotland and conveyed to the meeting in vans with blacked-out windows with burlap sacks over their heads?

Member of the public: "Eh, is all this really necessary?" 
"Shoosh, and keep yer heid doon!" - BT hench-person.
"This sack is beginning to itch..." - BT delegate.  
BT operative - "Quit yer moanin', we're here noo oanyhoo." 
"Good, I was beginning to panic... Say, is that the St Enoch Centre?" - BT attendee. 
"Of course it isnae-" 

The point is, they're not really interested in getting new supporters on board, since they have no positive case to put forward how could they anyway? They'll no doubt cross-reference details given during the registration process with details of who they know can be relied upon to behave - those DNV's we've already talked about. If you think that's far fetched, when it comes to politics and in this instance the lengths to which Better Together - at the behest of Westminster - will go to maintain the Union, does it really seem so outre?

Whether the BT crowd feel they can rely on people's ennui with politics generally or those who will vote no because the United Kingdom is all they've ever known is something only Better Together know for sure. When it comes to passion and positivity, they haven't even made it to the starting line; arranging the launch meeting for a political campaign in Scotland's largest city but not saying where it will be - and no, they'll not be waiting to confirm the venue at this late stage - is just a wee bit odd.

There have been BT launch meetings where those dastardly nats attended with mischief* in mind. Equally it may be that they're worried no bugger will turn up and the room will look empty.

BT Campaign: not enough supporters for the word 'better'.

* Better Together East Lothian was launched in Prestonpans Community Centre, among other things, it was also funded by East Lothian Council to the tune of £2000. So, regardless of how you voted or what your intentions are re. the referendum - if you pay council tax in East Lothian - you've funded Better Together.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Blair MacDougall, Moral Contortionist.

Oh go on then, who is he.

There he is. He's the director of the pro-union Better Together campaign, his opposite on the Yes campaign is Blair Jenkins.

Blair MacD doesn't have a wiki page which is a bit odd for public figure. He's a typical political animal though, ex-SpAd to James Purnell (Labour) and a former member of Labour Students which says about as much as any Wikipedia page needs to say.

Currently Blair can be heard wittering on about Yes Scotland paying an academic to write an opinion piece for The Herald newspaper. He said:

"Who else received payment? Who knew that this kind of payment was being authorised by the campaign's chief executive?" 
"What other supposedly independent voices are being paid bungs to say what the nationalists want? What else are they willing to do to deceive the people of Scotland?"

To give some background, a Yes Scotland email account was hacked and from it, details of the payment made to a Dr Elliot Bulmer where obtained. Currently, the Scottish press and of course himself above are attacking the Yes Scotland Campaign.

I'll just say that again; Currently - the Scottish press and Blair MacDougall are attacking Yes Scotland using information illegally hacked from a Yes Scotland email account.

Better Together doesn't have to pay for column inches, you only have to cast an eye over headlines on the newspaper stand or BBC Scotland news online to see - the pro-union side doesn't want for attention. For example, I've already written here about The Scotland Institute - a pro-union 'think tank'. At that time Blair said of it:

"It's not our vehicle, we are not owners of it, but it's helpful to the cause."

Political campaigns pay academics and professionals for opinion all the time, MacDougall is moaning because Dr Elliot Bulmer is known to be sympathetic toward independence and was paid. It seems though, opinion from pro-union sources given freely and reported widely is perfectly fine.

Add to that, Blair MacDougall is attempting to score a dubious moral point with information potentially gained from the illegal hacking of an email account.

Its a subtle situation and one which can only be appreciated if you accept the Scottish main stream media are shit at their job. Ironically - that the press are attacking the target of an illegal hacking instead of those using the information allegedly hacked, and that the story itself is entirely without scandal - if you still think the Scottish press have an atom of integrity or balance (and by extension the opportunistic and morally wobbly Blair MacDougall) then I think we might be living in different realities.

Meanwhile, that bastion of the Scottish printed press The Herald has published Elliot Bulmer's article but is doing nothing to defend the accusations from Better Together that it is a paid Yes Scotland mouth-piece - that's taking one for the team right there...

And the hell of it is, with the hacking (and no one is saying it was instigated by Better Together) and the subsequent bleatings of Blair MacDougall - a pretty decent, well balanced and informed piece of writing in The Herald has been eclipsed almost entirely.

I wonder why?

Fearful of the democratising potential of a constitution that would protect our rights and hold rulers to a higher law, the British establishment has preferred to rely on the untrammelled power of a sovereign (but well-whipped) Parliament, a motley collection of statutes cobbled together over the centuries, some hallowed traditions made up on the fly, and a set of unwritten conventions that can be rehashed, recycled, and twisted beyond recognition to suit the needs of the Government of the day.

Oh aye, its critical of the status quo.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Welcome to the UK.

The plot thickens...

"Meanwhile, a Brazilian man held for nine hours at Heathrow airport under anti-terror laws on Sunday has said he was forced to divulge email and social media account passwords.David Miranda said his interrogators threatened that he could go to prison if he did not do so."

Not exactly a great advert for tourism. Although I suppose David Miranda wasn't just any tourist - but even so - what happened to freedom of the press? Some heid-bummer from the UK civil service paid the Guardian a visit and asked that the computer holding information leaked by Edward Snowden be destroyed.
Apparently two 'experts' from GCHQ stood over newspaper staff - in an advisory roll - while hard drives where smashed in a just-so fashion.
If you are worried about the UK's security, here it all is.
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said later 
"We were quite clear we were not going to hand this material back to the British government so we destroyed it ourselves under advice from a couple of GCHQ intelligence experts, who told us which bits of the hard drive to smash up, in what way."
The thing is - and I'm no expert* - the information was held electronically. Smashing up a computer is no guarantee of anything other than you've smashed up a computer. I truly believe all copies of Dan Brown's book 'The DaVinci Code' should be destroyed because its derivative crap with moronically contrived characterisation, but it won't happen if I smash my Kindle - assuming it had a copy of that arse-gravy on it -  which it doesn't. 
If GCHQ and UK security in general hinges on the following -
"Hello, have you smashed up that hard drive with the country-shattering data on it?"
"Yes, yes we have."
"Did you copy the apocryphal nation-destroying information?"
"Er... No?"
"OK, bye then."
- then Edward Snowden probably isn't the biggest threat to the UK's security apparatus - the UK security apparatus is the biggest threat to itself.

Put in the simplest of terms. Edward Snowden leaked information (via Glenn Greenwald, who's partner is David Miranda) which showed that the USA and the UK regularly 'listened in' on email traffic, the governments in question claimed surveillance was only ever intelligence led - it turns out - they've been monitoring people and organisations with no justification.

The UK and USA security services do this for our protection, the mantra often bleated by the naive is - if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. That might be true, but that our government thinks all of us do have something to hide - to me anyway - smacks of totalitarian police statism.

Meanwhile, the checks and balances of a free press are slowly being eroded with moronic GCHQ reps standing over journalists as they smash up a container but not necessarily the content.

What this really looks like is - the UK and US administrations got caught out - and now they're having a bloody good flounce about it.

Whether you think its OK to be monitored and spied upon 'for your own safety' is subjective, whether you trust the government with the job is a good bit less so if you're prepared to take any previous behaviour into account.

Perhaps the destruction of privacy & liberty, the ability to hold government to account and to criticise it enthusiastically when it fucks up or oversteps the mark is a fair price to pay to fight 'terrorism' and maintain 'security'...

Mmm, I don't think so either.

* Working within a given field does not necessarily qualify a person as an expert in that field - as evidenced by GCHQ 'experts', my own accidental (and unfortunate) IT career and the chap in the photo above.

Monday, 19 August 2013

A wee pictorial digression.


is David Miranda, who's partner is

Glenn Greenwald.

Glenn Greenwald (a Guardian Journalist) helped scoop the story on sensitive US data leaked by:

ex-CIA contractor Edward Snowden. (Currently behind a sofa in Russia.)

Meanwhile, David Miranda was stopped for nine hours at Heathrow Airport  under 'anti terror' laws (section 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000) while travelling back to Rio De Janeiro where he lives with Glenn Greenwald. He said he was questioned at length by up to six 'agents' - 'about everything'.

David Miranda is Brazilian.

(He was released eventually and allowed to return to Rio.)

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Trees forest/forest trees.

Recently, the independence supporting, media-monitoring website did something a bit off the wall. The website's main writer - Rev. Stuart Campbell - after crowd funding a reasonable wage for himself in the run up to the referendum next year - decided to crowd fund a poll* on behalf of the website and its readers.

You can have a look here for an at-a-glance digest of the results and if you're interested in the nitty gritty of it, the details are all linked in the sidebar. (Raw data here.)

The Scottish media report on polls all the time, (here, here and here for example.) They pay for their own from time to time. Sometimes it'll be a check box on a newspaper's website. Usually though, polling companies do the work, you've probably heard their names being mentioned - Ipsos Mori, TNS BMRB, YouGov & PanelBase to name but a few.

It was PanelBase who carried out wingsoverscotland's poll, widely thought of as being the fairest. Different companies use different methods, I won't try to explain, my puny intellect can't handle algebra so its fair to say statistical analysis is right out the window - suffice to say - all sorts of 'weightings' are used so it isn't straight forward and as you well know, poll results can be as wildly inaccurate as they are wildly misinterpreted.

On this occasion, its become less about the survey questions and more about the media blackout around the poll itself. It seems, what the Wings survey has done - besides ask some pertinent questions - has confirmed in pretty glaring terms, that the Scottish Press is very picky about what it chooses to report. They might try to dismiss Wings Over Scotland as a fringe website (which it isn't boasting readership figures comparable with many Scottish broadsheets) but they cannot dismiss the polling company -  the BBC (for example) regularly report PanelBase surveys.

Instead of reporting on a poll carried out by a reputable polling organisation which asked 1015 Scottish people what their views were on a number of issues, the Scotsman went for an opinion piece from one Nate Silver, an American pollster who's never commented on Scottish politics, at least that I can see.

Scotsman editors meet to discuss independence reportage.
Its pretty obvious where the press in Scotland stands in terms of independence - they don't support it. But to dissemble so obviously and so enthusiastically - has it not occurred to any one at Pacific Quay or the various newspaper HQ's that Scottish people might begin to lean toward a yes vote because they're sick of being treated like fools?

Nobody appreciates having the wool pulled over their eyes, more-over, they like it even less if its so bumbling an attempt that only a moron wouldn't detect it. If the Scottish Media insist on taking the piss, they could at least do us all the courtesy of making the merest sensation of an effort.

* If you doubt crowd funding or the resolve of the people who donated, check out by how much the target of £1500 was smashed - all within 72 hours.

Monday, 12 August 2013


Nothing to do with politics here, although I see things have been happening while I've been away - not that I thought things would grind to a halt mind - indeed, on my return to 'work' this morning, colleagues took great pleasure in letting me know they now expect a dip in productivity.

Anyway, I've been away for my summer holiday -  camping as it happens.

No, not like that.

Like this.

Our annual Scout summer camp took place last week at Hawkhirst Scout Centre, its a great site, lots of water-based activities on Keilder Water with instructors who seemed to have misunderstood the purpose of a 'safety boat'. You would think such a craft would be for picking up children & leaders who'd fallen out of their canoes (say) and into the reservoir. Instead though, in a physician-heal-thy-self fashion, the safety boat mostly caused said children & leaders to fall in. Since I have a pretty high regard for any activity which brandishes two fingers at stuffy rules and a slavish adherence to silly dogma - I thought the people piloting the safety boats were rather wonderful.

But camping...

Oh dear...

Living in a tent on a field underlines certain things we take for granted in everyday life. I'm not talking about things like electricity and all the marvels it powers or  indoor plumbing and the cleanliness it affords, its even more basic than that. No one stands in their kitchen and wonders what life would be like if the counter top or kitchen table was set at a 20 degree angle, yet that is a reality if the field you've chosen isn't even remotely flat.

Preparing food or hot beverages that disappear if you turn your back, waking up in the middle of the night to find you've slid off the bottom of the camp bed you thought would be a hell of a lot more comfortable than it actually was. After a couple of days of it, all we really wanted was to be living on the flat again, it seems like such a trivial thing but it isn't really - it affects everything. We take an old table tennis table to camp which acts as a dining table and general work surface. Dependent on where you sat; your meal would either end up in your lap, in front of the person or persons down hill from you or just plain making a bid for freedom down the middle of the table. Each meal saw some poor child wearing their food - like a starved Chihuahua staring at a pork chop - you couldn't take your eyes off your plate for a second.

Another aspect of camping is as already mentioned - plumbing. Our nearest toilet block was a five minute walk away. At home, you'd just nip to the bog - not when you're camping though - it requires planning. If you're going to go, you may-as-well capitalise - take your toothbrush and shower gel, but try to ignore the wild life infesting the shower cubicle - on more than one occasion I had to wait for frogs to finish their ablutions before I could start my own. Since scouts is now mixed, you can no longer nip behind a tree lest you end up in the papers - so even the most basic evacuation requires a ten minute window.

And finally although not leastly (which isn't even a word.) The Midgie, more commonly known as the Scottish Midgie - although we were just over the border in England, (it turns out this is where the Scottish Midgie takes its holidays.) Also known as Culicoides Impunctatus or Really Fucking Annoying - some of the kids really suffered, I get bitten but they never show up, some of the kids however looked as if puberty had come early and with a vengeance.

Sitting back at my (completely non-sloping) desk, even now I'm telling myself it wasn't so bad, and it probably wasn't. I maintain, volunteering your time to work with kids is a selfish act, anyone who tries to invite praise for doing so deserves a slap. Being able to take part in the kind of things you always enjoyed but so rarely did as a kid, which you now no longer do because you're an adult - is a fine thing, I just wonder why more folk don't do it.

Kids have a unique ability encapsulated in one word which adulthood often takes away - fun. They know how to have it - and as an old bufty - I get to tag along, and some of that unfettered joy rubs off.

We like to think of these events as learning experiences too, so what did I learn? Well, I've always known I'm not keen on water - especially if I can't see the bottom - deep water scares me quite deeply. Turns out some of the joy mentioned in the previous paragraph did rub off to the extent that I decided to jump into the water during a raft building activity. I mean it was planned, I held my nose and checked my buoyancy aid was secured. This fear isn't irrational, I don't think for example that I'm the only human who'd sink while wearing a buoyancy aid (although I will admit to being concerned about being harpooned - a while ago some environmentalists tried to push me back out to sea on Portobello Beach - I'm just saying it could happen.)

That went well enough but a wee bit later on, I actually fell in, no time to plan - I just went in head first. Turns out I don't have the instinct which tells the human psyche to stop trying to breath when immersed in water - I basically (and stupidly) tried to drink myself to safety, which in layman's terms is called drowning. However, the children were kind (they pointed and laughed) and I was never in any real danger.

The safety boat was nearby capsizing some canoeists.

For now though, plenty catching up to do... For work I mean... Probably have some emails to delete or something...