Friday, 22 March 2013

Just got a wee text from...

Better Together.

Like most other folk, they obviously don't read my blog and it begs the question, how did they get my number anyway, I forgot to tick the 'don't send me any shit' box while shopping online for car insurance some 18 months ago, can we now include Better Together in the same category as relentless PPI claim set ups and people trying to flog wine investments?

For what its worth, included was a straight forward 'should Scotland be an independent country' with yes, no, and don't know options. a 'how strongly do you feel about independence?' Very strongly support or fairly strongly support.

Then a polite - 'Thanks for your input. We know that you need facts to help you make the biggest decision in our lives. We will make sure you get them.' - I bet you will.

The message read:

Paul, the countdown to the referendum is on. We believe we are stronger when we work together What do you think? Vote in our mobile poll. Smartphones tap this link or text UKOK (can't believe they're running with that) 64446 for more info (std rates apply. Text BTSTOP to opt out.

BTSTOP? If only... Not that their campaign has been particularly effective to date.

It goes without saying what my answers were, I rather suspect it'll go without saying what Better Together report when this exercise is finished.

Call Calamity Kaye

Linking ever so coincidentally to the previous post about young people and voting, this morning (on Radio Scotland's flagship current affairs program) presented to us by the ambrosial Kaye Adams, up for discussion was the date for the referendum on independence, (as you would expect.) Kaye wanted to know if it was too far away in the future and more curiously what 'no' voters thought about it, not sure why yes voters were being excluded - oh hold on, yes I am...

In any case in among the obvious plants, a person who we'll call Michael (because its what he said his name was,) was asked; could you be swayed to vote yes and was his mind open? He said of course his mind was open then partook in an uninterrupted monologue about how shit the SNP was and how they'd done nothing in 7 years of government, (a myth which could easily be added to this video* which Better Together are desperately trying remove not just from you-tube but from existence.) In any case, I can't be sure his name was Michael after he also claimed his mind wasn't made up when it patently was.

The thing about Call Kaye, (BBC Scotland's vanguard finger-on-the-pulse-of-Scotland wireless presentation) which if you've read anything else about it here, you'll appreciate I think is a lot of shit, (and my mind is firmly made up.) Every now and again, someone will slip through, and so it was with this caller, I didn't catch his name, but he said his son was really disappointed with the date of the referendum as it fell two days before his 16th birthday and would Alex Salmond be amenable to rescheduling.

He went on to say he had no idea his son had any political views and he'd certainly never foisted any of his own in that direction, but Ruth Davidson (she's the Scottish Tory leader who looks like an incredulous wee boy, although don't say that to her face because she's hard as nails) had visited the local high school and ever since; his son had been fully engaged, attending school debates and reading newspapers among other things

I'll admit, I was thinking the worst, an impressionable youth lost to the dark side, (or the allure of Ruth Davi- Oh, hold on...) The father went on to say, while chatting to his son, he saw an application form for membership... A membership which would cost £5... For Scottish Socialists for Independence.

I guffawed, I couldn't help it. Ruth certainly made an impression, this new supporter was now pestering his dad to go through to the march and rally for independence in September this year.  

Although I didn't get his name and I'm positive he won't see this, that you'll miss the vote is a bit crap, but you can still register your intent by turning as many of your friends who can vote on the 18th of September 2014 on to independence and the benefits it'll bring.

I understand on Monday's edition of Call Kaye (the rapier-like tip of Scottish social discourse on the airwaves) the topic is going to be; Should Ruth Davidson be allowed to visit schools and if so, should the counselling required in the aftermath be a universal benefit or farmed out to Atos? 

* If that link goes dead, it will have succumbed to Better Together's desperate censorship. Just search for Top Ten Myths of the Union Debunked, it'll still be up somewhere.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Young people

Specifically those 16 and 17 year old new voters.

I watched Newsnight Scotland last night, they were having one of their invited-audience, I hesitate to call them debates because they're not really, more like set pieces carefully orchestrated by programmers to deliver a predetermined conclusion, it is after all the BBC.

That to one side however, I've watched a number of programs where young folk have been asked their opinions on the independence debate, I also spend some time with that particular age group and it seems to me, the default position is a 'no' to independence. Not because they disagree with the idea per se but because they've not really thought about it, I think it might be that young people are used (mostly anyway) to following others, be it their peer group, parents or prevailing trends, no one can deny, if your only input is the press, the BBC and other TV stations, the prevailing trend is; independence is bad.

You would think young people, being  fresh and unhindered by years of adulthood and the disappointment it brings, wouldn't be affected by the crushing sense of betrayal and the resultant over-powering cynicism which dictates our beliefs in adulthood, speaking personally for a moment, after 13 years of New Labour; the inventors of spin, as an adult (although sometimes its hard to tell,) I find it hard to believe anything politicians say these days.

Young people should be filled with hope shouldn't they? At the age of 16 or 17 are they not desperate for more independence? Do they not want more autonomy, control of their own lives and to be allowed out late at night? I'm not even going to draw a parallel between that and Scotland going independent because its not even close to being a true comparison, but still...

Ignoring that BBC audience of young people because I don't believe for a minute it was a true cross section of the youth of today, the young folk I talk to, and I'll be honest, think I'm a boring old bastard when I start droning on about Scottish self determination, I can actually see their eyes glaze over, in one respect, if I want them to piss off; its handy. But in others, (those that matter) I want them to listen because its really important stuff.

More oddly, the kind of issue that really applies to them, namely tuition fees for university, (the young folk I know are all terribly middle class) doesn't seem to sway them, the notion of having tens of thousands of pounds of debt before even entering the job market doesn't seem to bother them, and why should it, they're only 16 or 17 so have no concept of what it means to have the millstone of debt following you around for decades. I hear some say, 'well, its only a few quid a month isn't it?' Well yes, it is, but tote it up and you'll soon realise its actually a trap.

Where do young people take their lead? Well, let me say, I'm no longer young, in fact; I'm so old I didn't get a National Insurance Card, I got a slate with the number 1 scratched on to it. I imagine the youth of today take their lead from their peer group first, at least in terms of things like the fucking awful towie and Geordie Shore or what clothes are de rigueur. after that, for things that matter, I think they're either not interested or are informed by newspaper headlines, I don't think young people buy newspapers, but I know they'll read the headlines while they wait in the queue or as they pass the paper their parents left lying on the couch.

I think this is where the problem exists, particularly with regards to those 16 & 17 year old voters; the press. As we know, headlines tend not to reflect the facts or in many cases the story which its supposed to describe, as things are just now, in Scotland's main stream printed press, truthful reporting of news in terms of the independence debate is the exception, not the rule. Perhaps we should do to news papers what cigarette manufacturers may have to do with their product, remove all marketing from the outside packaging, having a newspaper on the shelf with only its name visible would work for me, the Daily Express could just print 'Diana' in big letters on its cover while the Mirror could just print 'Rag'. (If we allow them to have pictures, the Scotsman could have a picture of a black pudding supper because as we know, its all that paper is good for.)

What sensible 16 or 17 year old would vote for thousands of pounds of debt before beginning a career, a career which may not even start in the first place. Who among them would vote for paying for the care their parents need when they're elderly so they don't have to go through the ordeal of putting them out of their homes so it can be sold to pay for substandard care in an OAP internment centre you didn't choose far less like? Who among them wouldn't mind their country having the ability to destroy cities at the push of a button (with permission of course from the American government) yet allowed children not much younger than themselves to live in abject poverty?

And finally, nicking something from here. The Scottish government are saying things like this:

“…a constitutional convention should consider how to further embed equality and human rights within the constitution and the extent to which the people of Scotland should have constitutional rights in relation to issues such as welfare, pensions, health care and education.”

While Westminster in the form of Theresa May (Home Secretary) is saying things like:

“…and we need to stop human rights legislation interfering with our ability to fight crime and control immigration. That’s why, as our last manifesto promised, the next Conservative government will scrap the Human Rights Act, and it’s why we should also consider very carefully our relationship with the European Court of Human Rights and the Convention it enforces.”

I suppose its about trust, but in my experience, you don't learn the true meaning of trust until you've experienced the opposite, I don't believe the majority of young people have experienced true betrayal before and I wonder; if the Union prevails after 2014, will the no vote they gave be their lesson?

Monday, 18 March 2013

Tavish Scott comes over to the Yes Campaign...

...just not the Yes Scotland one.

In the world according to Tavish (he's the Lib Dem MSP for Shetland and widely rejected ex-Libdem leader in Scotland,) in a speech he gave to the Libdem conference in Dundee, among other things, he said to Alex Salmond; 'its not your oil, its wirs'.

Although I can't be certain, I don't think Alex Salmond ever laid claim to Scottish Oil, Westminster certainly did, the SNP did run a campaign headed 'its Scotland's oil' because it was and is, and continues to be a true reflection of reality, although not according to Westminster where most things that don't belong to it, do - and at times; on a grand scale.

Tavish, while deriding the notion that Scotland would be able to benefit from its oil reserves if independent (we're the only country to have reserves but not be enriched by them,) has decided that Orkney and Shetland on the other hand; would.

Only it wouldn't, if Orkney and Shetland were to vote for independence or autonomy, something the Scottish government are looking to put into a Scottish constitution (more power for all local authorities) and Tavish is mentioning to stir things up, it would be an enclave within Scotland's Exclusive Economic Activity Zone with oil rights out only to 12 miles, in terms of oil wealth; it would have none. Orkney and Shetland would benefit from landing oil, but then, they already do. This is a straightforward case of international law laid down in something called UNCLOS, (The UN Convention on the law of the Sea... The things you learn...)

How many lies are people prepared to accept from unionist politician before they realise the paucity of positive arguments for the Union?

How craven do you have to be, that you'd recommend for one group of people the same thing you condemn for another in order to gain political capital. More over, Scotland and England are countries joined together in a Union, despite what Westminster's legal advice suggests, they are still distinct countries; Scotland prints its own money, has its own justice systems, health infrastructure and government entirely separate from England. Yet Tavish Scott, in order to save his beloved Union is suggesting partition of a nation state, an entirely different proposal from dissolving a Union of nations.

He'd suggest, in place of allowing a country its internationally recognised right to self determination, that it be broken up instead? 

What a horrible little opportunist.*

Sorry, I should have said, this was another political post, I know it bores a lot of people, only, it is important because, in wider terms; its your money and your kid's future (if you have any or if you don't yet) which is at stake and lets be honest, nobody likes being taken for a mug.

* I've heard this same charge being laid at the door of Alex Salmond in terms of Scottish Independence, it would be true if you ignored international law, increasingly illiberal and right wing governments Scotland doesn't vote for being returned to Westminster  and the fact Scotland has been an independent country existing outside of any union agreement with any other parliament or country for longer than it has been in this particular union with Westminster.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

What do...

Manuel Barroso, Lucinda Creighton, Edgars Rinkevics and Jean Asselborn all have in common?

Before answering, I should warn you, this is a political post, there are no whimsical digressions about doughnuts, smart phones or cooking pasta in the kettle, as ever; move along if you're not interested.

The answer? They all responded to questions posed by BBC journalists about EU membership and had their answers twisted to support the status quo  (Francis Rossi and Nick Parfitt were thrilled.) So far so swivel-eyed? Well, you might say that but apart from the odd opinion piece, no part of the Scottish press contingent takes a positive view on Independence, the BBC has openly said, since it isn't an official referendum organisation it can be as biased as it likes (and it is: "we are not in an official referendum campaign and therefore do not have to balance it out between yes and no." was the email answer a licence payer received after making a complaint.)

Concentrating here on the BBC, I don't watch BBC Scotland news output religiously and I reckon you don't either, but generally; try to think of one positive argument a BBC news correspondent has ever said, however grudgingly, about Scottish independence?

The names at the top of this post are the beginnings of growing list of representatives from other EU countries the BBC have contacted in order to collate opinion on Scotland's position with the EU if it gains independence.

Now I fully understand the EU is really boring, hold on, let me rephrase that: really fucking boring - but the press (I suspect at Better Together's behest) have latched onto it as an area of weakness for Nationalists, so the BBC and the execrable Scotsman etc are pumping out as much bile as they can on the topic.

But what is the argument exactly? The SNP and Yes Scotland have always accepted there would need to be negotiations with the EU if a yes vote is secured in 2014, Scotland would officially become responsible for itself in 2016, in between times; the Scottish Government and civil service would negotiate terms from within the EU, any new obligations would come into play in 2016, (in March of that year as it happens.)

In short, the old obligations would end at midnight, the new ones would begin at midnight plus one minute on independence day in March 2016.

Better Together say, if a yes vote is won, all current agreements between the new Scotland the EU would end instantly (they don't quite say when but are happy for people to assume at the point the count is finished and Alex Salmond starts pumping the air with his fist,) ramifications include extreme uncertainty for EU citizens currently working in Scotland, Border controls shooting up at Carter Bar and more generally; no one in Europe will play with us any more.

Manuel Barroso said new countries would need to negotiate entrance, which is not at odds with what Yes Scotland and the SNP claim. The BBC attempted to infer Scotland would need to start a membership application as a non-member state if a yes vote is given in 2014. Essentially, the BBC put words into Mr Barroso's mouth he did not utter about a country he was not talking about. Even their (the BBC's) clarification was half-arsed and disproved their own assertion, although from the headline, you'd think the opposite was true.

Lucinda Creighton, the Irish EU affairs minister had to write to Nicola Sturgeon to clarify what she'd said in her interview with Raymond Buchanan, the BBC again tried to mangle the opinion of a third party. Ms Creighton said: "I am concerned that an interview which I conducted with the BBC is being misconstrued..."  and "I thought that my reply was largely in line with that of the Scottish Government.  I certainly did not at any stage suggest that Scotland could, should or would be thrown out of the EU." This was at odds with what Ray (can I call you Ray?) reported in his side bar here and what has been repeated since then by the rest of the Scottish press.

Edgar Rinkevics was next in line for the treatment, this time by way of the BBC's Glen Campbell here. Mr Rinkevics said; "If Scotland clears independence, it is a new country. The procedure of admitting a new member to the EU would have to be followed. All the chapters of negotiations have to be opened, duly negotiated and then closed." and went on to say the process should be a "bit quicker" because Scotland is already in the EU, which is what Yes Scotland and the SNP have been saying for years.

(Westminster's view on its own position in the EU between 2014 and 2016 if we vote yes, is it would carry on as before, although the exact same Edgars Rinkevics mentioned above doesn't think so, although you'll not get that from the BBC...)

Finally, Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's foreign Minister said: "As we are all facing serious economic and social challenges, this is a time for solidarity between Member States of the EU and within Member States, rather than for going separate ways." - Which seems unequivocal, except, he went on to say - "This being said, Scotland's constitutional future is a matter to be decided by the people of Scotland." In a further clarification on a Luxembourg news site a Luxembourg Government spokesman said “The BBC chose to present the position of the minister in opposition. Whereas it was more nuanced than that, It's a reflection which is valid for all member states, not to go their separate ways.” While you could claim this was a simple misunderstanding on the BBC's part, in the current context, its pretty hard to swallow.

The reporter went on to say: "It would seem that there was no misunderstanding on the part of Scotland's parliament, which interpreted the minister's comment as directed at the UK's anti-Europe stance." So, nothing to do with Scotland at all then, more to do with Westminster's planned referendum on EU membership in 2017, or is it 18, its hard to remember, what with all the uncertainty...

The BBC has asked all 27 member states (plus Croatia which joins in July 2013) what they think will happen to Scotland and its relationship with the EU after a yes vote in 2014 and independence day in March 2016 (remember, there will be a period of time in between the two.) Estonia, Hungary and Slovakia have answered by saying clarification is required and going by the topic of this blog, Ireland, Luxembourg, Latvia and Spain could do with some clarity on the issue too.

Instead though, we have BBC News Scotland abetted by the rest of the Scottish Press contingent for the benefit of Better Together; obfuscating, misrepresenting and bending statements to meet its own political aspiration, namely the continuance of its position of so-called authority in Scottish news output.

The final irony is, the only government which can ask for that clarity is the one BBC Scotland seem so intent on propping up: The UK Government, a.k.a Westminster.

I don't know about any one else, but surely something is wrong with this picture?

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Its complicated

I remember as a child in the 80's the plastic orange box of tricks that was a Binatone Games Machine, you'd plug it onto the back of the telly, take a controller (a smaller orange rectangle with a nob on it) which was hard wired in, it didn't unplug far less work wirelessly, we'd then move a bar up or down on either side of the screen with the (ahem,) nob which bounced a rectangular 'ball' back and forth. Variations were available, at the flip of a switch you could double the size of your rectangle (or bat,) you could if you were feeling particularly fearsome double the speed of play and if you felt the need for a change, with the flip of another over-sized paddle switch you could change the game to football - which if memory serves added extra bats into the game.

I have sitting beside me several of what can only be described as ladies who have kids, one of whom recently told me her two year old son could turn on her iPhone, go to the you-tube app and download peppa pig cartoons.

I asked my mum recently when she looked at us playing these games if she wondered how we took to it all so easily, I'll be the first to admit, it was only a nob which could be twiddled one or the other (which for young boys, was never a new activity anyway,) not as we have with today's game controllers which bristle with buttons, joy sticks and touch pads. She said no, she never wondered, she never thought about it at all, she was just happy we were amused and not setting fire to or otherwise destroying the village in which we lived.

The thing is, I replaced my phone recently, I went from a bulk standard 'mars bar' type phone to a so-called smart phone, I'm seriously thinking about giving it to my colleague's two year old to set up, what a fucking ball ache. Even unlocking the screen is a challenge, I slide a finger along the screen where indicated but instead of opening the home screen, it takes a picture of my legs, (if i'm sitting, if not its of the middle distance.) I realised if you rub one way it 'quick launches' the camera function, (bringing new meaning to rubbing something up the wrong way...) If you wheech your finger properly, you are rewarded with a clock and a jumble of small icons.

I managed to copy contacts over, delete them, copy them over again, link them to themselves so they appeared twice, delete them all, restore them from the old phone's memory, unlink them (I think) then eventually copy all but one on to the new phone then delete them off the SIM memory, you have to delete the SIM memory because if you want to use caller text groups (which I do) you need to use the phone memory and typically, if you leave them on the SIM memory, they appear twice in the contacts folder.

Another thing I learnt which snuck up on me, is not having a text spam filter, my mars bar had one, a folder into which you could deposit number from which you did not require PPI reclamation or debt management advice, offers about wine or land investments and other texts which are as interminable as they are unwanted - with the block removed, I and my new phone was instantly deluged with offers of assistance and do you know what? This phone won't filter out spam texts. Almost 18 months ago I requested an insurance quote from that stupid meerkat website and forgot to check the 'don't fucking harass me box' - to my regret ever since.*

That said, the new phone is sleek and shiny, the screen is crystal clear, I can watch videos and fire chickens at castles and I can download apps (perhaps there's one for blocking spam texts?) Thinking back, sitting in front of a huge telly controlling monochrome bats with nobs, if a time traveler dumped a smart phone in my lap, would I have been able to operate it? (Leaving aside that, as an adult with all my modern knowledge, no sneering at the back, I have trouble even now?) Is it now instinctive among young people?

Looking back, what would my younger self think about the kind of things we now take for granted? I love Google Maps for example, imagine in 1984, being able to stroll along a street in Petatlan and look in to the windows of houses there, seeing how Mexicans live (because that is where Petatlan) from the comfort of your own home? These days, I think discussion are cut much shorter because answers to questions are so much more readily available, no need to sit and argue the toss over whether a Komodo Dragon is venomous or not (it is, I just checked.) And of course, the elephant in the room; pornography. What would my 12 year old self think about the sheer volume available not to mention the variety, I imagine my eyes would pop right out of my head.

Anyway, the point of this self-indulgent entry (is it too soon after mentioning porn for this turn of phrase?) is self-congratulatory in nature, I've modernised. Its not an iPhone although I will admit to considering it for a period of time not in excess of a millisecond, I'm not saying what it is because some technosnob will no doubt appear to tell me what an arse I am for buying that particular phone.

I should also say, normally I engage in deep tortuous thought for weeks in advance of a purchase like this, weighing up issues like; does this phone record telephone calls? Can I superimpose a clown costume on a person who's picture I've taken? Or can I store nuts in the battery compartment? - trust me, I am the king of option paralysis. This time though, I looked at the price, noticed it was water proof and told the woman; 'I'll have that one please'.

Now if I could just get it to shut up, it keeps making noises, I know its trying to tell me something but I have no idea what; its doing things in the background the nature of which I cannot identify, it could be doing anything, from playing Pong to downloading pornographic images of clowns...

* Are you being bothered by nuisance texts? Here's what I do, only if I'm bored mind, not all the time, I'm not a crazy person... Take the mobile phone number from which the problem text was sent, find a website offering a call back service either in the same line of work or something else as annoying, stick some false details in the call back form, (you know, name - Barry Soap etc) then use the mobile number as a contact. If enough of us do this, all these odious companies will end up doing; is bothering each other:

Caller 1 - "Hello, do you have PPI you could reclaim?"
Caller 2 - "Do you have PPI  you could reclaim?"
Caller 1 - "Hey, I asked first!"
Caller 2 - "So what, I asked second!"

Friday, 1 March 2013

Another political post...

So shift along if you're not interested, fair warning, I'm going to mention Douglas Alexander and a speech he's making tonight at Edinburgh University.

Its a really long speech (currently up at Labourhame.) I suppose you could have a read but its the usual frothy Labour/Better Together/not-of-this-world puff piece and really fucking boring to boot, (I swear to underline just how boring it is.) I did want to mention a couple of things though because he was on the radio this morning having a mither about the independence debate during which he came out with a number of howlers, the most memorable being that support for Independence has fallen when in fact going by the most recent poll information, the don't knows increased at the expense of the no crowd; the yes vote stayed the same.

Moving along though, it is common for BT'ers to cite Scottish Nationalism as being bad, for example and I apologise in advance, Alexander will tell people tonight:

"I believe the Nationalists’ approach can best be understood in this way: they aimed to campaign around the ‘inevitability’ of independence, founded on identity.
But that campaign of identity has failed and they are now attempting to recover by offering, however unconvincingly, a campaign of ideology.
Let me start with their original failure: To convince us that after their historic victories independence was inevitable.
It seems to me that their original strategy was to try and build on their unexpected success in May 2007, followed by their even more unexpected (even by them!) majority in 2011 and use this momentum to create a sense of both inevitability and invincibility around the nationalist cause.
The aim, as always, was to equate nationalism with patriotism, the philosophy of self determination with one version of constitutional structures, and convince or co-opt the public into support for independence." 

It's the last paragraph, equating nationalism with patriotism then using it as cudgel to obtain a vote for self-determination. The gonk then later goes on to say:

"Indeed, the 2012 Games showcased the very best of our country and gave us the opportunity to celebrate what unites us: perhaps again to our surprise we found afresh that we in these islands are  a pluralistic, and outward looking family of nations, confident and capable when working together towards a common endeavour."

You'll not need many guesses to know which games he'll be yacking on about tonight, Douglas goes on at some length (unfortunately) extolling the virtues of the Olympics in 2012 and how it brought the country together and encouraged a sense of ident- 

Hold on a minute? 

A wee minute ago Douglas, you were saying its bad to equate nationalism with patriotism? I saw a wee bit of the Olympics (you couldn't avoid it) and it was an orgy of Britishness, it was shamelessly so and do you know what, I don't really mind, what country wouldn't sell its self under those circumstance. 

Just leave the double standard at the door would you?

My main point, which has become something of an after thought, although it is potentially a lot more important is this:

"The choice to stay together will create an opportunity for politicians to lay the ground for a way of doing politics differently.
A time where politicians no longer speak about ‘the people of Scotland’ but instead the people speak and the politicians listen, deliberate and decide.
So this evening I ask: Could we in 2015 gather together a National Convention – “Scotland 2025″ – to chart a new vision for an old nation for the next decade?
Gathering 25 years on from the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, this National Convention would look beyond an agenda of constitutional change."
Despite repeated demands made by Better Together, Unionist parties and in this case Douglas Alexander for Yes Scotland and the SNP to provide details and facts in the event of a Yes vote in 2014. In terms of a no vote, what you'll get is a National Convention which will deliver its findings on constitutional change not in the run up to 2014 so you'll know what you'll get for your no vote; but in 2025.

In political circles this is usually known as the Jam Tomorrow Gambit. Will this jam keep till 2025?

I know this is boring, although if you got this far down kudos to you for sticking with it. There is information out there on what Scotland would be like if it became independent, I don't wish to sound trite but, its called Wikipedia. You can search for info about other countries and get an idea of what independence means for people in Scotland (please don't search for North Korea, its not a good example.)

As a starting point, look at our other neighbours, Denmark has been in the news a lot recently, they do things very differently, some of which works, some not so much so, if I can ask one final thing though, have a quick read of this.

"UK savers are currently retiring with pension pots worth 50% less than some of their European counterparts, despite having invested the same amount of money, because of an array of hidden charges. With innocuous-sounding fees of 2.5% the pension funds can grab nearly half of a lifetime’s savings, without the pension saver ever realising that their retirement fund was being syphoned off by a banking system designed to benefit big business over individual savers."

(You can click on it for a more in depth explanation on pensions.)

I wonder why Douglas isn't mentioning that tonight in his speech?