Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Still here/Is it just me?

I'm still here, just. I know I do on occasion deploy the editorial 'we' but its just me sitting here, there is no team. My Mum isn't well, she has Parkinson's Disease and recently its taken a turn for the worst, which is why there was no post last week and this week's is truncated. I could go on about my Mum but I won't, its just indescribably and heart-breakingly sad.

I've been keeping up with the various sound bites coming from all sides, I think someone needs to tell Jim Murphy the Holyrood Election isn't until next year - the one in May is for Westminster. Arguing the toss about what he'd do as First Minister of Scotland (mind your sides don't split) is - with the best will in the world - stupid.

Beyond that, in terms of the looming Westminster election, the choice in Scotland is stark. Despite the campaign double step being tapped out by Murphy, Dugdale and Marra etc - it couldn't be simpler. The Westminster parliament - of which 'Scottish' Labour is a strident participant - only cares about itself, we only figure in their workings as a means to an end. 

The idea of doing something for people like you, me or my Mum doesn't occur to any of them as a serious proposition, they are thoroughly immersed in the austerity consensus that see's the interests of abstract economic ideas and immoral, psychopathic cultures in business and toxic empires within state apparatus as the be all and end all.

When Jim Murphy issues a volte-face closely followed by a breathy denial that he ever thought differently, the media barely notice. Yet, when a political party announces a policy that puts people ahead of those hateful things in the paragraph above; they are vilified and dismissed as naive by the usual suspects, many of whom profit from the status quo.

That political parties would put things like Trident, Aircraft carriers or the personal enrichment of themselves and their cronies above things like free personal care for the elderly, providing a safety net for those whose prospects have been ruined by government mismanagement or looking after the poorest and most vulnerable in our society doesn't just beggar belief, its a fucking travesty of morality.

The whingeing effrontery puked out by embittered Libertarians as they descry the notion a vulnerable person might be getting something they need in place of something one of their wasp-chewing fellow solipsists want is an insult to decency and social responsibility.

I try not to be extreme here, it leaves you open to accusations of hysteria, but under the circumstances I think its okay to say; I hate Westminster and everything it stands for, I wish I could temper that statement with a line like; '...they do some good things' but even the good things they do are a sop to cover the callous disregard they have for those they've decided to leave behind.

Westminster doesn't work for us, it works against us. It seeks to convince us of a perpetual fait accompli - that our existences will be punctuated by struggle grudgingly heaped upon us by an apologetic ruling class, and to expect anything else is naive and simplistic - of course its all total bollocks because we can choose differently this coming May.

This last paragraph is aimed at one person in particular who quite likes their local MP. Unfortunately she's a Labour MP (Fiona O'Donnell). Her voting record is a lesson in itself, she's never rebelled against her party and since its a Westminster party, it stands for all of the above. Fiona might be likable, she might say she's against things like trident and austerity - but her record tells a different story. Austerity isn't just a word, it is a thing that bites, it impoverishes the already poor, puts essential services at risk yet keeps the rich in place - if ever a policy could be said to be psychotic; austerity would be it. 

Fiona might be fluffy in person but there's no getting round it - she voted for it.

Posts might be fewer and further between for a while, thanks as always to everyone who takes the time to read; its always appreciated.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

NHS Waiting times.

Its not often I get to blog from actual experience and while I cannot claim to work for the NHS department responsible for dishing out statistics, its fair to say - from my desk situated at the throbbing heart of Scotland's National Health Service - I can offer something of an insight into How Things Really Work.

This post might be a bit dull, so I'm including The Seven Wonders of the World to keep you interested. The Great Pyramid of Giza is first. Impress friends at dinner parties by referring to it by its lesser known names; The Pyramid of Khufu or Cheops.
First of all, I and the people who sit around me are the NHS staff most folk want to see the back of. It's in this building (among one or two others) where all the managers and bureaucrats so reviled by the taxpaying public work. However, people who work here do things like make sure lead gonad shields and aprons in x-ray departments aren't riddled with holes, negotiate contracts to make savings worth millions, plan new hospitals & health centres so they are fit for purpose - like checking doors are wide enough to allow ordinary or bariatric hospital beds (that we buy) to pass through or that new over-bed tables will actually go over the beds or (somewhat more critically) making sure women's bits aren't overly irradiated during mammography scans plus a heck of a lot more besides.

The bit that I work in concerns itself with hospital equipping; its where the people who know about things like electro-medical or lab equipment sit. You can't just go out and buy a blood analyzer, pharmacy robot or a PACS imaging system for medical imaging (be that x-ray, CT or CAT scanning.) These things are often part of the fabric of the building so require a fair bit of forward planning.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Babylonian Priest Berossus attributed their existence to Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezer II - he was so cool; in The Matrix, Morpheus named his ship after him.
The next time you're in a hospital or health centre, look out for bins - why? because bins are a pain in the arse. Every room must have at least one and it needs to be the right kind. If its a treatment area it'll need to have a domestic bin and a clinical waste bin - they'll also need to be the right size. I haven't even mentioned user preference - I mean to say - you'd think a bin was a fucking bin, but its not. You get solid walled bins, bins without walls, plastic bins, metal bins, bins of different colours (white for domestic waste yellow for clinical waste and red for body parts (joking) the entire bin can be coloured or just the lid.) You get soft closing bins (the standard these days) and waste paper bins also of different colours and capacities. Where I work, we make sure every room that needs a bin gets a damn bin. Take a project like Aberdeen's Emergency Care Centre; across seven floors we distributed 693 sack holders, 329 small pedal bins and 429 sanitary disposal bins. And its not just that, its everything from plug sockets to bog roll holders and paper towel dispensers, laboratory equipment to gamma cameras and CT scanners.

Zeus at Olympia; made famous by Laurence Olivier in the original (and much better) film Clash of the Titans.
Over and above all of this, for clinical areas we also have HAI compliance - which stands for Healthcare Associated Infection - this is the reason nurses get all frowny when you sit on hospital beds or patient chairs, its why there are bottles of hand wash every five metres and its why buying hospital equipment isn't straight forward. For example, in examination areas you won't see any fabric covered furniture, it'll be vinyl; there will be blinds instead of curtains and there shouldn't be any untreated wood visible - even floors in new builds curve as they join walls so germs can't congregate in hard-to-clean corners.

But I digress.

This is also where the people who punt out all those statistics on waiting times, cancellations and attendances sit - its called Information Services Division. I say that, the name might have changed, we've just been through a reorganisation and if I'm being honest, I'm no longer sure what division I work in, never mind ISD.

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. Sometimes (although less accurately) known as the Temple of Diana - what ever you do, don't let The Daily Express know. 
In the 'news,' you'll never guess; we have Jenny Marra from Scottish Labour claiming credit for an SNP government U turn which didn't happen on a policy which up until that point Labour MSP's didn't give a shit about.

Its been a while since 'Scottish' Labour had the reins of government in their grubby little mitts, but when they did - they didn't report NHS statistics with any regularity - which leads us to my point.

As you would imagine, its a lot more complicated than you might think - to go from quarterly to weekly reporting is no mean feat, in fact, I imagine it'll present significant challenges. There are fourteen NHS boards in Scotland who collect & own the data required. Sitting to one side is National Services Scotland which is essentially thought of as another board but is mostly not patient facing - its where all those pesky managers and bureaucrats are - all that data coming from the boards needs to be shared with ISD (which is a division of NSS) then crunched.

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. Well this is awkward, A.K.A The Tomb of Mausolus, who was interred there with his wife Artemisia II of Caria... Who was also his sister... (As you do...)
Except the word 'crunched' doesn't do it justice - its massive undertaking in terms of computing time. Also some of the data is patient identifiable - a huge no-no - so needs to be anonymised. After that it needs to be checked and checked again.

Take Orkney, home to the smallest NHS board serving just under 20,000 people. In Dec 2014, 419 A&E attendances were recorded. Hospital in-patient activity to September 2014 saw 1457 (Quarterly figure) patients treated across all specialties. At the other end of the spectrum you have Greater Glasgow & Clyde who's A&E departments saw 36,118 patients in December 2014 and saw 423,926 in-patients treated to the end of September 2014.

The Colossus of Rhodes. Accounts differ, I like to think he stood astride the entrance to Mandraki harbour as drawn above. It was a statue of Helios; the Greek Titan-God of the sun. Some say Colossus referred to its height (some 30m.) There are scholars who believe it is what seafarers thought when they looked up and saw his 'package' as they entered the harbour. (I made that up.)
I know I'm being a bore, even finding the information in the previous paragraph took monumental patience and while I didn't contemplate suicide as such, I never ruled out self harm.

Suffice to say, those figures represent the two boards at either end of the range in terms of population and represent a fraction of the patient facing activity all boards take part in. We haven't even mentioned the number of GP appointments or home visits, or talked about referral waiting times across all the various services the NHS in Scotland provide - not limited to cancer care, child health, drugs & alcohol misuse, dental care, health & social community care, heart disease, maternity & child birth, mental health (adult and child), sexual health, strokes and a good bit more besides.

The Lighthouse at Alexandria.Finished in 247 BC, it was finally abandoned in 1323 AD after earthquake damage. During that time, it was the tallest structure (120 to 137m tall) in the ancient world - which is impressive, but not as impressive as Helios' balls as you entered Mandraki harbour.
To get stats in all, or even some of those areas published on a weekly basis is going to be tough. I'm told the relevant departments are enthusiastically recruiting statisticians and analysts - bearing in mind, a large number saw their jobs evaporate during a previously severe workforce contraction - to get the figures out on a monthly basis. 

No doubt the clueless (and slopey shouldered) Jenny Marra will be on hand to bemoan the number of so-called backroom staff employed by the NHS in Scotland.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Workhouse Comparison.

Many will have seen on Twitter or in newspapers the claim that Westminster parties would dearly love to bash those in receipt of welfare even more by bringing back the workhouse. Its said half in jest, but how accurate a claim is it?

The image above is the first paragraph from the main entry on Wikipedia about workhouses, the gist of which is, a place where people could go for accommodation and work - since you couldn't go there and not work, the former was very much a condition of the latter.

You might think David Cameron's ideas around young folk doing community work isn't so bad. Certainly, conditions won't be anything like as bad as those you'd find in workhouse of ye olden days right?

There are those who scoff when you make the comparison - but, leaving the terrible conditions in the past - is there so much of a difference and if there is, is it a bad idea?

First off; what David Cameron suggests is comparable to workhouses. If you don't do the 'community work' you don't get paid and if you don't get  paid you don't eat or maintain the roof over your head - that seems to be indisputable.

Even East Lothian had a poorhouse (Scotland's versions of the workhouse.) Situated in East Linton but long since knocked down to make way for a community centre. (Photo H/T to © Peter Higginbotham.)

Secondly; what kind of community work are we talking about? Is it work in local business' that might otherwise be done by someone who was paid - as in 'a job'? The example given in the article above said "...such as making meals for older people." Its a bit vague, we can't say if that could be a paid job or not, (we might also be suspicious of the quality of said meals if those preparing them were less than chuffed about having to do so.) Is it going to be painting swings or railings in local parks? Because that falls within the remit of community service - which is a thing people get when they've been bad - not being able to get a job between the ages of 18 & 21 isn't a crime, its a symptom of shitty governance.

Or could it mean placement in already existing voluntary organisations? Having worked in that sector (paid and not) from experience I can say, that won't work. For a start, as soon as you compel people to do a thing, its not voluntary and the very nature of voluntary work is that its, ummm, voluntary.

Is this not just Workfare for the young, or will it be valuable experience in the work place? Given some of the experiences with Workfare where people in work were laid off then offered the same job back via the scheme - it could be problematic. Workfare did specifically include private enterprise in placements, will that be the case for this latest Tory wheeze?

The ambiguity will be deliberate because this will appeal to huge swathes of the population who feel young folk are getting a free ride, it would be easy to agree with them, if you're prepared to exclude all the complicated contributing factors that surround the problem. Or do we think Westminster parties would altruistically give young people who predominately don't vote, who are also in receipt of benefits meaningful, valuable employment experience over a quick gain from a soundbite policy, a cheap source of labour for big business or being seen to do something about the 'youth of today?'

Or could it be that there are very few jobs in the market for these young folk to apply for and those jobs that do exists, do not represent employment of a kind that would be recognised by the very people who'd support this kind of policy?

It seems to me, the age group this is aimed at - having been that age myself in the dim and distant past - when dinosaurs roamed the plains and we used to get lumps of coal to play with - is a formative time. We should be doing our best by these young folk, not treating them like criminals or second class citizens.

We'll rue the day when this kind of treatment becomes the norm. While vassals of the British State run around sticking fingers in the fractured dyke that is Britain, they refuse to step back and see that plugging holes or slopping vapid policy filler around the ever-widening cracks just won't work any more.

Make no mistake, this policy - so attractive to pinch-faced Tories and their Labour imitators - is just so much watery grout thrown at the crumbling battlements of a doomed system of government, far from being answer to what ails the UK, its just another part of the problem.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Warm toilet seats.

I won't go over old ground by talking about the Ashcroft poll that came out earlier this week, except to say; while the prognosis for Labour and the Lib Dems in Scotland looks bad - we shouldn't sit back. I'm not talking about activists from all those incredibly worthy organisations like Women for Independence, Business For Scotland or National Collective (to name but a very few) because they'll be doing their thing regardless - they don't need to be told.

Don't panic, everything is fine - 'Scottish' Labour have deployed Hypnosquirrel
Its us I'm talking about. We need to be out there boring the pants of friends, family and neighbours - well hopefully not boring them but certainly bringing up the subject of the General Election and who they might be awarding their vote to.

With most of the Scottish media doing its best impression of a party political broadcast for 'Scottish' Labour, we need to do our best to remind our peers, pals and co-workers just how astonishingly crap they are.

Look in to those eyes, you can't resist...

Is it safe to discount the Tories in Scotland? I'll stick my neck out and say yes - they're still marginalised in Scotland. The Lib Dem's on the other hand may elicit in those who previously voted for them a pity-vote. We've all got a soft spot for Charles Kennedy - the Liberal Democrat's answer to Party Boy - but we must stand firm against wishy washy emotive voting. If you feel yourself wavering in the polling booth, remember that Danny Alexander is a Lib Dem and uses your money to cart his wife and kids around the country - he's also simpering, Tory-enabling git.

Not around the eyes...

In Scotland, the problem has always been with trust - for years the SNP have been portrayed as chancers, usurpers and lightweights. Westminster pulls around its narrow, sloppy shoulders a thick cloak of effrontery - that a party might challenge the British State's hegemony - its treated as risible and the UK Press - grasping cheerleaders of the establishment - stands by ready to parrot the Union mantra of the day.

You are feeling sleeeeeepy...
Its not all about the SNP of course, if it makes any one feel better, they are a conduit (one that happens to be not bad - but not perfect either - in government) to something better. Imagine a Labour party that actually works for Scotland instead of enabling the London Head Office to gain votes in constituencies in the south of England? Imagine a Tory party ready to do its best for business' based in Scotland instead of the City of London? And imagine Liberal Democrats working hard for - ummm... Doing its best to - erm... Fighting hard for - something?

Could these poll results mean enough people in Scotland have finally realised the problem isn't left, right or middle; or capitalism, socialism or libertarianism - it's the union? Not to put too fine a point on it: its fucked.

Your eyelids are getting heavy...

As the latest EVEL turd shat out by the Tories via William Hague lands on the floor of various Westminster meeting rooms with a wet plap - any attempts to limit Scottish MP's voting in the house of commons is going to be fraught with problems - the Smith Commission's output was only ever going to be useful as scrap paper for primary school kids to doodle on, and even then - only if they did one-sided print runs.

Vote Labour and buy me some nuts...

Or does Scotland still suffer hopelessly and terminally from Warm Toilet Seat Syndrome? I know what you're thinking - what exactly is WTSS - well I'll tell you. You know when you're faced with the incontrovertible actuality that you need to go for a 'sit down', but you are far away from facilities offering optimum comfort and peace of mind? Which is a particularly verbose way of saying, you need to go to the toilet and the only available option is to use a public convenience - forgive my delicate Victorian sensibilities... You find a moderately clean looking cubicle suitably equipped with a door that locks, an adequate supply of toilet paper and no holes drilled in the walls in suspicious places.

You remove/decouple/unlatch (delete applicable) clothing as required and hover gently over the toilet seat - only to find on contact that it is disconcertingly warm. This is traditional Westminster voting in microcosm. As you cast an exasperated vote for the usual party - you are simultaneously repulsed and comforted. Equally; as you sit there - waiting for your bowels to evacuate - its nice that the toilet seat is warm, but the thought that it was made so by the arse of a perfect stranger whose personal habits you know nothing about, doesn't bear thinking about.

Soooo veeeery Sleeeeepy...

I'm not for a minute suggesting that if Scotland was an independent country, we'd all be able to defecate comfortably using brand new toilet seats or that if a toilet seat had been pre-warmed, some sort of notice - a Post It note for example - would be affixed to the wall describing the essence of the backside that took the chill off it.

I think what I'm trying to say is, perhaps we've reached a tipping point in Scotland. None of the London based parties are trusted any more - voters are no longer content to cast their vote based on the old two-and-a-half party system. They realise old voting habits offer little else but cold comfort because once the vote is in, their hopes and aspirations are flushed down the bog the next time their newly (re)appointed MP sits down on their pre-warmed (by an unpaid intern) luxury toilet seat (purchased with parliamentary expenses) for a dump.


For what it's worth, I'm still not sure the voting intentions as shown in Ashcroft's poll would necessarily equate to a Yes Vote if one took place tomorrow - my suspicion is, that while people are fed up with Westminster politics, enough of them still prefer a warm toilet seat - which is why ordinary folk like you and me need to re-initiate the kind of momentum that existed during the independence referendum.

Although I wouldn't use that warm toilet seat analogy - its terrible.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

New definition of Brass Neck.

I was going to tweet this but the sheer wrong-headedness of it, the brazen incongruity - the logic-defying, sense-denying, two-faced, obviously opportunistic, epoch-busting craven effrontery of it, means a tweet could never do it justice.

Fergus Ewing today announced there would be a moratorium on fracking in Scotland via the planning system. A UK wide moratorium was rejected at Westminster the day before yesterday with all but three Scottish Labour MP's abstaining (including Margaret Curran who claimed to have voted against.)

Brace yourself...

I'm surprised Duncan manages to tweet anything at all, his synapses no longer believe anything his neurons are peddling.

Through the vehicle of keepie-uppies (and a severe Vitamin D deficiency - the legs Jim, put them away) - Jim Murphy and his 'Scottish' Labour chums saved Scotland again.

While the vote on a moratorium on fracking took place at Westminster, Jim was dressing up as a footballer in Aberdeen. If only Scottish law makers knew this was a more effective method of changing government policy...

Well, according to some anyway...

Sometimes we stare agog at tweets & comments coming from Labour flunkies - but we forget; the only way a person could truly support 'Scottish' Labour is if they have similar values & syllogisms to 'Scottish' Labour.

I'm not sure why we're surprised.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Fracking for Normal People.

People may have been reading over the past few days about something called the Infrastructure Bill - it just had its third reading in the House of Commons yesterday (26th January.) Consequently, there is a lot of commentary going on about who voted for what. It was made more complicated because there were two votes last night.

Licences to frack are covered by the Petroleum Act 1998, I don't want to go into the details of fracking or whether its good or bad except perhaps to posit the notion; if you don't know about something its probably best left alone until you do. Currently, powers over licencing sit with the Department of Energy and Climate Change - this is a Westminster Government department so has nothing to do with Holyrood.

So what happened last night with this Infrastructure Bill? First of all, what is it. This isn't as easy to ascertain as you might think, I mean, fracking is quite important - since we don't know for sure what the ramifications are (although some accounts involve flaming taps and earthquakes) you'd think they'd make it a bit clearer.

Here's the preamble from the bill:

Make provision for strategic highways companies and the funding of transport services by land; to make provision for the control of invasive non-native species; to make provision about nationally significant infrastructure projects; to make provision about town and country planning; to make provision about the Homes and Communities Agency and Mayoral development corporations; to make provision about the Greater London Authority so far as it exercises functions for the purposes of housing and regeneration; to make provision about Her Majesty’s Land Registry and local land charges; to make provision to enable building regulations to provide for off-site carbon abatement measures; to make provision for giving members of communities the right to buy stakes in local renewable electricity generation facilities; to make provision about maximising economic recovery of petroleum in the United Kingdom; to provide for a levy to be charged on holders of certain energy licences; to enable Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to exercise functions in connection with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative; to make provision for underground access to deep-level land for the purposes of exploiting petroleum or deep geothermal energy; to make provision about renewable heat incentives; to make provision about the reimbursement of persons who have paid for electricity connections; to make provision to enable the Public Works Loan Commissioners to be abolished; to make provision about the electronic communications code; and for connected purposes.
This is the bit about fracking:

Make provision for strategic highways companies and the funding of transport services by land; to make provision for the control of invasive non-native species; to make provision about nationally significant infrastructure projects; to make provision about town and country planning; to make provision about the Homes and Communities Agency and Mayoral development corporations; to make provision about the Greater London Authority so far as it exercises functions for the purposes of housing and regeneration; to make provision about Her Majesty’s Land Registry and local land charges; to make provision to enable building regulations to provide for off-site carbon abatement measures; to make provision for giving members of communities the right to buy stakes in local renewable electricity generation facilities; to make provision about maximising economic recovery of petroleum in the United Kingdom; to provide for a levy to be charged on holders of certain energy licences; to enable Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to exercise functions in connection with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative; to make provision for underground access to deep-level land for the purposes of exploiting petroleum or deep geothermal energy; to make provision about renewable heat incentives; to make provision about the reimbursement of persons who have paid for electricity connections; to make provision to enable the Public Works Loan Commissioners to be abolished; to make provision about the electronic communications code; and for connected purposes. 
I'm still not sure about the 'Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative' - I'm just assuming its to do with fracking. In its entirety, the bill goes on for some 109 pages but last night's activity in the House of Commons consisted of a debate then two votes.

One was to do with devolving licences to frack to the Scottish Parliament, the other concerned a (Lib Dem proposed) moratorium on fracking across the entire UK. (Point to note, Northern Ireland already has the power to licence onshore petroleum recovery, including fracking. Off shore exploration/extraction still sits at Westminster.)

The upshot was put most succinctly in this morning's edition of The National:

So much of what goes on by politicians is calculated, while we can't say if Labour's attempts to devolve licencing around fracking to the Scottish Government was calculated to fail, given their very public opposition to just about any powers (actual powers, not responsibilities) being devolved to the Scottish Government - you'd be forgiven for being suspicious.

To be clear, Labour MP's like Curran & Nash voted for licencing being devolved, the problem is, they abstained from voting on a moratorium on fracking across the UK. What can one read in to that? Labour themselves are frozen by indecision but don't mind passing the buck onto others. They are the political equivalent of the classroom clype - worse than that, they'll happily line up others to carry the can while they hide in the sandpit.

To carry the analogy further, its a game of pass the parcel with the prize being a turd wrapped in several layers of very bad newspaper coverage. Ineos who own the Grangemouth refinery are currently importing Shale Gas (which is what you get from fracking) from Pennsylvania - this costs money and they (oddly) argue it adds to the carbon footprint of the process. They want to secure domestic supplies of Shale Gas which means fracking around the central belt, Fife, the Lothians - you've seen the map...

Ineos (and others) have already been awarded licences to frack in the central belt, last night's vote would have suspended the award of further licences.

Currently, the Scottish Government has no powers over licensing but could block Hydraulic Fracturing through the planning process. That puts them in an invidious position: on the one hand they'll have the anti-fracking pressure groups with their concerns and on the other Ineos and all those jobs. As we know, when it comes to jobs, Ineos play very hard indeed.

Labour on the other hand are free and clear - or they seem to think so. Their duty has been discharged, they wanted (to be seen wanting) licencing devolved but their motion was defeated. We shouldn't forget though, they abstained from voting on a moratorium across the UK which arguably would've achieved the same thing.

While all this was going on, the Scottish Labour Leader - who will 'not allow Scotland to be a Guinea Pig' for fracking' - was engaged in serious business north of the border.

Jim Murphy: "Have you seen my football?". 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

He's not a unionist, he's a very naughty boy.

The latest shtick from 'Scottish' Labour's Sales Manager (Northern Region) is that he's not actually a unionist.

Sold to the mug in the back row.
Jim has been telling us all the last couple of years were just a horrible dream - it seems he emerged dripping from the shower this morning just like Bobby Ewing did in Dallas, totally perplexed as to why any one ever thought he was a unionist. In the same way Pam Ewing, J.R. and Miss Ellie lived Dallas Series 9 as if Bobby was dead - we lived the past two years as if Jim was an outspoken crate-abusing British Establishment fanboy. Only none of it is true, its not him - its us. We've all been living a nightmare, we've been existing in an alternate reality where George Foulkes talks a lot of shit, bears do shit in the woods and Jim Murphy has been terrorising old folk into voting for a union that disadvantages them.

Instead, he's been explaining:
“I have never been a unionist... It’s never been my political tradition...
As a family of Irish Catholic immigrants we’re not unionists."
He went on to say: 
"I grew up in a family of trade-unionists, but we’re not political unionists.”
This is the bizarre bit, its even dafter than the Dallas plot device:
“A Conservative & Unionist tradition inside the Conservative Party and elements of the Liberal Democrats, and you had a trade-unionist and socialist solidarity tradition inside the Labour Party. For a moment there was an alignment for different reasons of political culture and history, but that moment is gone.”

Even the Daily Record - a paper that revels in a good bit of misrepresentation - adopted a tone of incredulity while reporting Jim's revelation; a revelation shared while Jim could have been at Westminster voting against yet more austerity which harms the poorest for whom he claims to be a champion.

We should read between the lines and take Jim's peculiar epiphany for what it actually is - an admission that the Union and anything associated with it is now toxic in Scotland. Even people who were at the vanguard of the No Campaign accept the referendum was won with fear - its that and an increasingly slender tendril of emotional attachment, mostly among old folk, that currently keeps the crumbling edifice from collapsing entirely.

Jim wants Scottish voters to believe he's taking a stand against interference in Scottish affairs from Westminster 'unionist' parties - including his own. What he's really doing is trying to distance himself and 'Scottish' Labour from the Union entirely because he knows its septic.

Unfortunately, he seems to be labouring under the misapprehension that he can deploy the same plot device staff writers on Dallas did with Bobby Ewing. Which begs the question; how stupid does he think Scottish voters are?

The moment Pam Ewing realises she's been dreaming all along and Jim Murphy isn't a Unio- Sorry, Bobby isn't dead.

Its probably only a matter of time before Jim tells us he's actually in the SNP.

"The fact is, I've never been in the Labour party..." - Jim Murphy, March 2015. 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

The Oily Jackie Baillie.

Cards on table; I cannot stand this woman. Her politics are multi-faced, superciliously dishonest and corrosive - I have no idea why any one votes for her. I'm currently working my way through Will Black's Psychopathic Cultures and Toxic Empires and I've previously read Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test. While the latter is light hearted in places, the former is a more academic - although still easily accessible read - that paints a very dark and thoroughly credible picture of the Establishment in the UK.

While I don't imagine Jackie Baillie is a psychopath, Will Black postulates the notion that organisations can become psychopathic; in the beginning, someone with psychopathic traits might set the tone - but quite normal people are drawn in and compelled to behave like psychopaths without any of the psychiatric or physiological components.

Since some important markers of psychopathy are a superficial veneer of charm, a manipulative character and a complete inability to empathise or truly care about others - you begin to see why I've gone off on this particular tangent. I also wanted to recommend Will Black's book; in the same way that its fun to follow on Google Earth the route of a travelogue you might be reading, (such as - ahem - I have for sale*.) It is also fascinating (and thoroughly disturbing) to apply some of the knowledge gleaned from Will Black's book about psychopathy to well known Establishment figures - it puts a lot of things into a worrying perspective we all absolutely need to be aware of.

* Its the two previous short travelogues edited slightly and rolled into one, don't buy it if you already bought those. Please share the link though, proceeds still go to Scouts.

Anyway, back to Jackie Baillie. 

We all know her's are the politics of spin, indeed, it is a little known fact that when Jackie speaks, she has to be anchored to the ground - much like a helicopter in a strong breeze - lest she accidentally takes to the skies. In some regards, she's exactly the sort of person you want in politics, hold on now - bare with me... Honesty in a politician is subjective and always in doubt; when they speak, there is a small worm (or a huge alien space-monster) of doubt when it comes to the truth. However with Jackie Baillie; if she's communicating in any way, shape or form - she's lying. No ifs, buts or probably's - as Jimmy Nail sang in his 1992 smash hit Ain't No Doubt - "shes lying."

A huge alien space-monster

Jackie Baillie
You may be aware, the price of a barrel of oil has fallen to below $50 - the lowest price since 2009. While car drivers leap in to automobiles and recklessly drive hundreds of miles for no reason - Jackie Baillie; presumably at the behest of new boss John Murphy (snigger) took to twitter to say...

Meanwhile, not a million years ago...

Mmm; beware the giant space-monster.

For clarity; the SNP and wider Yes Campaign lost the referendum. While we're still periodically told to get over it by the 'winners' - that they think we're not, doesn't mean they can demand the Scottish Government bails out an industry it wanted to manage directly while the London exchequer continues to profit from. Its the same self-serving logic that applied to so-called Scottish banks who paid all their tax income to London pre-crash but miraculously became a Scottish responsibility post-crash.

Baillie is a no-mark politician ignored by most except me right now and the Daily Record more generally, but her comments tell a story. They shine a light on a renewed & reinforced Scottish economic reality since the referendum. In the same way Westminster socialised the ruinous loses made by banks while privatising profits - via Baillie, they now suggest offsetting the stagnation of economic activity within the oil industry by socialising the costs of a so-called 'resilience fund' (which is exactly the same thing as an oil fund) to the Scottish Government.

Deep breath...

Jackie wants the Scottish Government to shore up a UK-wide industry with money from a diminishing block grant which is already a sum far less than Scotland's total tax income - to the cost of Scottish services (the quality of which she complains about incessantly) - by creating and using a 'resilience fund' (A.K.A an oil fund) which is a thing she strongly disagreed with having seven months ago.

And relax.

Jackie Baillie must have a double garage to store all of her faces.

Reading that back, there's some serious opinion and commentary above. I fully expect it to appear in the sidebar on the letters page of The National and to be invited to offer my opinion during the end slot of Scotland 2015 with Duncan Hothersal or some other unionist lick-spittle...


Oh well.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

You Get What You Pay For...

What's worse than replacing Trident with another really expensive nuclear deterrent?

Replacing it with a really cheap one.

Similar to Ed Miliband's own ambitions to depose Dish Face Cameron and be prime minister; he wants to replace something incredibly expensive, not fit for purpose and crap for something incredibly cheap, not fit for purpose and crap.


Similar to VW's current TV ad campaign; the blundering cretin Miliband would prefer to have cheap nuclear bombs parked on the Clyde as opposed to expensive ones.

But wait, because that's not all. UK Labour with Ed at the controls is matching his policies with the entirely separate, stand-alone, nothing-to-do-with-us-no-sirree Scottish Labour - and pledging 1000 more budget nuclear warheads than, well, ummm, ANYONE ELSE.

Giddy readers might want to know how Ed is funding UK Labour's budget nuclear arsenal - he's going to instigate a 'hovel tax' because apparently; we don't have any fucking mansions in Scotland.

All aboard the Rocket Ship UK Labour. Your pilot today is Captain Ed Miliband. Refreshments will be served by our cabin boy Jim. Now; for your comfort, here's the lovely Kezia with some vital safety notices...