Thursday, 30 January 2014

What Mark Carney said about...

Well hold on, who is Mark Carney?

Typical Canadian reserve: "I once caught a fish - this big."
He's the current Governor of the Bank of England. A Canadian national widely accepted as being responsible for shielding Canada from the worst ravages of the credit crunch/global financial clusterfuck. He started out in Goldman Sachs (but mustn't have had a position of much sway because in 2009 its bossman Lloyd Blankfein apologised for its part in said clusterfuck) although to be fair, Carney left a good five years previously so we'll let him off.

Since then he's jobbed around the Canadian Department of Finance and the Bank of Canada culminating in him getting the job of Governor of the Bank of Canada, then of England.

Like the Bank of Canada, the BoE is the central bank for the UK (not as the name suggests, England.) Its main purpose is to oversee the UK's economy while governments at Westminster allow cocaine-snorting, braying investment bankers to completely fuck up our financial well being by way of casino banking and exotic practices not even they understand in order to secure bonuses and pay packets they absolutely have not earned and do not deserve.

Oh hold on, that's not right...

Sorry, the BoE's job is: 'maintaining price stability and supporting the economic policies of the Government, thus promoting economic growth.' 

The point is, its a national bank, not as in England-national but UK-national, over the years Scottish money (in the form of Sterling) has helped shore it up and add to its strength and standing. Since 1946, it was fully nationalised by the Labour government of the day. In 1977 - oh dear, the shallowness of my understanding of economics is about to show its embarrassingly ugly face - it formed a wholly owned subsidiary named Bank Of England Nominees (BOEN for short) and sold itself, to erm, itself.

At this point I tune out, it may as well be in a foreign language, here's the extract from the wiki page:

In 1977, the Bank set up a wholly owned subsidiary called Bank of England Nominees Limited (BOEN), a private limited company, with two of its hundred £1 shares issued. According to its Memorandum & Articles of Association, its objectives are:- “To act as Nominee or agent or attorney either solely or jointly with others, for any person or persons, partnership, company, corporation, government, state, organisation, sovereign, province, authority, or public body, or any group or association of them....” Bank of England Nominees Limited was granted an exemption by Edmund Dell, Secretary of State for Trade, from the disclosure requirements under Section 27(9) of the Companies Act 1976, because, “it was considered undesirable that the disclosure requirements should apply to certain categories of shareholders.” The Bank of England is also protected by its Royal Charter status, and the Official Secrets Act. BOEN is a vehicle for governments and heads of state to invest in UK companies (subject to approval from the Secretary of State), providing they undertake "not to influence the affairs of the company".  BOEN is no longer exempt from company law disclosure requirements. Although a dormant company, dormancy does not preclude a company actively operating as a nominee shareholder. BOEN has two shareholders: the Bank of England, and the Secretary of the Bank of England.

The important things the BoE does is set interest rates, develop monetary policy and issue Sterling. You may have heard of Quantitative Easing? Well it was the BoE who 'printed' more money to buy bonds from the treasury so it in turn could tell international markets it wasn't skint. In terms of what Mark Carney was up in Edinburgh talking about - a currency union - the main point to remember is, Scotland owns a share of the Bank of England, it is NOT the sole property of Westminster, England or the rest of the UK.

'I once caught a fish - and I had to punch it.'
Currency union is an area of the independence debate you'll have heard about frequently in the news - the SNP and Yes Scotland say its desirable for both an Independent Scotland and the rest of the UK while Westminster aided by the UK media say; its 'not likely to occur.'

If I can refer you back to the previous blog about suspension of belief and likelihood though.

1) Anyone can use Sterling, it is an internationally traded currency, you can go to any money shop or Bureau de change in the world and procure it and assuming local business' accept it - buy stuff. 

2) As mentioned, the Pound's strength is built partly on Scottish revenues, over the years, Scottish oil & gas, Whisky, financial services, heavy industry have all added to its worth. 

3) We're in a union and if Westminster/David Cameron are to be believed, one that serves Scotland well. Unless we're just tenants in the UK - renting all the things they tell us we're so much stronger for being a part of - surely it wouldn't make sense if all the money we've been sending down south hasn't actually 'bought' us anything?

"I once caught a fish - this tall."
What Mark Carney  said was that a currency union would need to be negotiated between Scotland and the rest of the UK. He went out of his way not to support either side even although the Scottish Government and Yes Scotland have been saying negotiations would be required. Meanwhile, Westminster in keeping with its outdated idea of empire has been doing what it normally does and telling us what we can and cannot have.

But it goes back to Likelihood - no one can say with absolute certainty what will happen; no one thought in 2007 the banking system would go into meltdown (at least not openly.) Who before the last Westminster election thought the Lib Dems would get into bed with the Tories? Who before the last Holyrood election thought the SNP would achieve a majority in a parliament with a voting system designed to stop that self-same thing from happening? And who thought the celebrity high dive show 'Splash' would return for a second series?

Meanwhile, 'Lord Wallace of Tankerness' who used to be plain old Jim Wallace but is now an unelected Lib Dem lord, he sits with all the other unelected political yes-men in the retirement-home-for-past-it-politicians known as the House of Lords.

Lord Wallace - on the first day of Scottish independence, the £300 + expenses he's paid for planting his unelected arse on those red benches would evaporate.
My Lords, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has previously said, the current arrangements of a full monetary, fiscal and political union bring benefits to all parts of the United Kingdom. I certainly have noted that the Governor of the Bank of England today has highlighted the principal difficulties of entering into a currency union—losing national sovereignty, the practical risks of financial instability and having to provide fiscal support to bail out a foreign country. That is why we have consistently said that, in the event of independence, a currency union is highly unlikely to be agreed so the Scottish Government need a plan B. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, that people who, from experience, have an important contribution to make should make it. Indeed, this month, Better Together has published a very good pamphlet which quotes many people showing how untenable the position of the Scottish Government is on the issue of the currency.
This by far has been the most common refrain from detractors, that Scotland 'would lose powers' or would have to 'cede sovereignty' if we wished to maintain a currency union. At the risk of sounding indelicate - it is unfettered bollocks. How can you lose powers you never had to begin with?

If the Bank of England wanted to change interest rates or provide another tranche of Quantitative Easing, hands up all of you who think they'd consult with anyone in Scotland?

Again, there is so much wrong with what Wallace and others are saying on this issue its hard to know where to start, during the financial crisis foreign countries bailed each other out all the time, how can the 'noble' lord (for example) suggest it couldn't happen when it clearly has and will continue to?

But this is how supporters of the union roll, they expect us to ignore likelihood in favour of their extrapolations of reality to suit their agenda. Although the Yes side don't want to scare the horse, if they turned round and told Westminster to ram Sterling - the drone coming from supporters of the union would assume a markedly higher pitch.

Instead they stand before us like failed Jedi warriors, their fingers wriggling in front of our faces murmuring - "this is not the currency union you've been looking for, move along now, move along."

Not a member of Better Together.
Since Lord Wallace of Tankerness at least has the outfit to be a Jedi night - albeit a fairly camp one - and this has been a heavy going post, we'll finish with a quick game:

Where's Wallace?

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Suspension of belief/Trolling

I remember going to see an 'am-dram' production of The Best Little Whore House in Texas at the Portobello Town Hall, it was a while ago during an Edinburgh Festival. Not being a huge fan of musicals I wasn't overly taken by it, all the hooting and cawing, the drawling sheriff and shrill southern prostitutes - with the exception of the guy playing the sheriff (who was really good) I couldn't see past the fact that in real life they were a bunch of ordinary folk dressed up as cowboys and hookers.

Suffice to say Burt & Dolly did not appear in the version played at Portobello.

I also had a problem with the central theme, that they were fighting to maintain a whore house - really? Where women were regularly abused, slapped around by rough, disease-carrying chauvinist cow boys?

I'm prepared to accept I might have over-analysed somewhat, it was supposed to be a bit of mindless entertainment.

Its one thing to suspend belief for the duration of a bawdy musical but more and more the media have been relying on the Scottish public to do this with referendum coverage

We've all heard of the internet troll:
internet troll
Web definitions
In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response ...
The purest definition of an internet troll above is fairly exacting, a troll exists to 'sow discord', they tend not to have any motive beyond trouble making, the term cannot really be applied to any genuine contributor - from either side - on the independence debate. Using hyperbole to sabotage a debate - knowingly or not - does not a troll make.


Enter the 'Cybernat'.
Definition of cybernat
An informal name for a Scottish National Party supporter who uses social media and online forums to put forward the cause of Scottish independence.
The truth - if we are to suspend belief for a moment - is that a cybernat is a bad thing, cunningly though, there is no equivalent label on the unionist side. In manufacturing this online independence-supporting bogeyman, we're being asked to conflate an internet troll with a nationalist.

From the Wings Over Scotland site.
The Daily Mail has been engaged in an unprecedented attack on its definition of a cybernat - an internet troll hell bent on causing fear an alarm among those who oppose them. The headline above is what I'm calling the usual Scottish press front-bummery where if you read a little bit further you come to realise the headline was written by an arsehole - no one was unmasked because they weren't masked in the first place. By hinting at a certain secrecy around what its version of a cybernat is - a nefarious streak is inferred. It goes with out saying, these so-called cybernats are ordinary decent folk with an honest message.

What does that have to do with The Best Little Whore House in Texas? It goes back to suspension of belief.

By this time, you can't count yourself as a true cybernat if you haven't had at least one run-in with a prominent, out-spoken mouth piece for Better Together online in some form, be it Duncan Hothersall, Euan McColm or that complete buffoon John MacIntyre OBE (Woking.) When you read what they type, its as if they live in a reality where reason & logic work differently, you are expected to treat their assertions as rock solid fact while yours are rubbished. Precedence goes out the window in favour of far-fetched hypothesis and in the end when you don't agree, they pull about their narrow shoulders a cloak of faux indignation because you lost patience and branded them an idiot. (Through which they claim victory -the very essence of George Carlin's 'Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.')

But they're not trolls either - they're close, but however convoluted it may be, they have a discernible motive - to make people vote no.

There is one thing that separates unionist and independence supporters online, whether engaged in debate with each other or trying to convince undecided's - its that unionists have suspended their own belief in reality and assume others have too - the foundation of their argument is based on a rejection of what actually is.

Obviously I would say this but things that are self-evident - the economy, food banks, the deficit, the debt, armed forces redundancies, MOD spending silliness, Trident on the Clyde, rejection of the bedroom tax in Scotland, rejection of the sale of Royal Mail in Scotland; Scottish tax payers money being spent on the Olympics, on HS2 or the London Sewage system. Tory governments that Scotland did not vote for (surely doesn't require a link,) Labour not voting against something it claims not to agree with, expenses scandals in Westminster (again, do you need a link?) Expenses scandals in the house of lords - heck - the house of lords itself.

All of those things (and more besides) actually exist, yet Better Together proponents expect us to pretend it doesn't.

In unionists its a form of tunnel vision, they're not trolls per se any more than cybernats are. I'd be the first to tell any 'cybernat' to hush if they tried to give a 100% definite answer to certain questions, the nature of the debate won't allow it - its about what is likely.

The press - in the form of the Daily Mail in this instance - can't control what goes on on Twitter or Facebook, there-for it attempts to deride the characters and motives of those who use that medium.

We need a new label, if we who support independence are to shoulder the stigma of the cybernat, it seems only fair that unionists should have a similar cross to bear. The unionist online doesn't so much 'troll', the closest term so far is 'whatabouttery' - where they attempt to conflate something which isn't likely to be an issue with something that might be, (or in their benighted imagination - will be.)

I bumped into a true Facebook troll who was defending Vladimir Putin after a Panorama investigation over corruption at the Winter Olympics - but at the same time excusing homophobic legislation banning all & any information on homosexuality being given to under 18's. This was a case of 'chronic fence sitting' or 'auto-intellectual-stalemate' (a person arguing themselves into a position of moral & intellectual pointlessness.)

The trademarks of the online unionist seem to be; tunnel vision, prolixity, tangent, suspension of belief and illogicality.

Is it even possible to make up a pithy designation for such a tortured entity as the unionist online?

Answers on a postcard please.

In the meantime, when ever I am assailed by a Duncan, Euan or John MacIntyre OBE (Woking) I'll remember the amateur dramatic presentation of The best Little Whore House in Portobello - there will be no suspension of belief.

Sorry, I meant Texas.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

A quick point of order...

... about the bedroom tax.

You might be hearing in the news about Labour (in Scotland) criticising the Scottish government for not doing enough to assuage the effects of Westminster's bedroom tax - or spare room subsidy as they prefer to call it.


... is Jackie Baillie, she's a Labour MSP and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well Being and Cities Strategy. Currently she's trying to massage a bill through the Scottish parliament that would increase the budget set aside to help folk who are being hit by the bedroom tax.

In the current budget, John Swinney set aside £20 million - the maximum he could under rules set out by Westminster for the Scottish Parliament (a pretty galling idea by itself.) The rules are there for a good reason - well, it's a good reason from Westminster's point of view - Welfare, of which housing benefit is a part, is not devolved and Westminster cannot stand to have its toes stood on in areas where the football still belongs to them.

So here comes Jackie who wants the amount increased to £50 million, she has to know this exceeds the maximum Holyrood can throw at the problem, I would say she's not daft but sometimes... The truth is, Jackie Baillie has form, she's not averse to presenting figures that paint the SNP-led government in a piss poor light when those figures covered a time span when Labour were in office in Holyrood - but that's how Jackie, erm, rolls.

This is a cynical ploy, nothing more. You might not be watching the news, I appreciate not everyone is a political anorak, but it is this kind of poison - absorbed unconsciously by unsuspecting voters and once in there it seems to stick - 'ah heard Jackie Baillie say Labour wanted to increase the bedroom tax fund but thon SNP types blocked it...'

So for the avoidance of doubt here are the key points:

1: The Scottish Government has already allocated the maximum it can to help.

2: In reality - and Jackie knows this too - if the Scottish Government decided to press on regardless and ignore the rules, it would be subsidising Tory policy in Scotland: can you imagine the hysterics Labour (and the Scottish media) would go into over that?

No, I can't either.

The Scottish Government is between a rock and a hard place, they're damned if they do and damned if they don't on this, fortunately, the Scotland Act gives them an 'out' and caps funding. It goes without saying, that won't stop the usual suspects giving Baillie air time to spray forth her bilious arse gravy* on the telly.

In the meantime, the Scottish Block Grant - the pittance Westminster sends back up out of the fortune Scotland sends down - (in advance of what will happen to Barnett after a no vote,) has already effectively been reduced by £20 million a year. A man who represents a seat in another country, who's party's policies Scotland does not support so did not elect, a party that has only 1 out of 59 possible Westminster seats in Scotland yet governs Scotland...

... and Jackie Baillie wants to help him out with further subsidies for odious Tory policies.

I think its fair to say, that that - is taking the piss.

Keep in mind, Labour brought forward a motion in Westminster to scrap the bedroom tax two months ago, it was defeated by just 26 votes. Hiding behind an obscure pairing rule, 47 Labour MP's didn't turn up to vote.

Listed below are those with Scottish constituencies

Douglas Alexander (Paisley & Renfrewshire South)
Gordon Brown (Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath) (Yes that one...)
Brian Donohoe (Central Ayrshire)
Frank Doran (Aberdeen North)
David Hamilton (Midlothian)
Ann McKechin (Glasgow North)
Jim Murphy (East Renfrewshire) (Currently bumping his gums on the topic of the cybernat of which I am one)
Pamela Nash (Airdrie and Shotts)
Anas Sarwar (Glasgow Central)

The truth is, we could go on about Scottish Labour's hypocrisy and double standards until the vote in September and still not cover every instance of when they've said one thing then done the exact opposite.

So I'll just pause here until next time.

* Apologies for the mental imagery, its shock treatment. You will see the oily Jackie on the telly and my most fervent hope is, instead of her honking on about the bedroom tax/Scottish Government shortcomings, you will see a fountain of uncongealed shit erupting from her gaping maw.**

** Sorry.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Hague visits Scotland, people panic and stockpile dry goods... 'Oh right, we thought you said 'plague' visits Scotland.'

David Cameron:

Prime Minister of the UK, of which Scotland is a part. Said:
“I don’t have a vote in this. It is for Scots to decide and that is where the debate should take place.” 
Why then, are Westminster cabinet ministers coming to Scotland to brief against independence? I know Yes Scotland like to say the referendum is about everyone in Scotland - I don't think they meant transient Tory Ministers up for the day.

Meanwhile - William Hague during his visit to Scotland...

1977, 16 year old William Hague gave a speech at Tory Conference (held that year at Hogwarts) that Margaret Thatcher described as 'thrilling'. (Information provided for context...)
As he is today.
... wittered about EU membership:
"I think it is a more immediately, dramatically uncertain world if Scotland were to vote to separate itself from the UK this coming year because what we are trying to achieve by 2017 is a reformed EU that we can recommend the whole of the UK stays in."
Going on to flap out:
"Scotland in effect is going to have two referendums on whether to leave the EU and one of them is in September.People should be in no doubt, if part of a member state leaves the EU it has to reapply for membership and that will be a process of uncertain length and unknown outcome in terms of the terms that are negotiated and probably great cost. It means paying more to get less from the EU."
Scotland will have two referenda on EU membership according to Hague - only the one in September will count though. The one 'planned' by the Tories for 2017 would see Scotland dragged which ever way England wanted to go. What is entirely lost on so many of these zombie-politicians coming up from Westminster, is that only with independence will votes cast in Scotland count for anything, voting no maintains an English veto on Scottish voter's wishes.

Ironically, on behalf of the UK - the-bits-that-normally-vote-Tory-but-might-vote-UKIP anyway - the unctuous Mr Hague wants to fix a 'democratic deficit' between the UK & EU while maintaining a democratic deficit within the UK itself.

We've had Phillip Hammond (Secretary of Defence) up telling us we won't be able to recruit people into a Scottish Defence Force just before going back down south to make thousands of soldiers redundant - in some cases just days before they would qualify for their full military pension. Not to mention the number of defence personnel working in Scotland in the first ten years of this century falling by 27% compared to 11% in the rest of the UK. Add to that the notion - Scotland pays close to £4 billion as its per-head share of UK defence spending yet only half of it is spent in Scotland.

(For more info click here.)

David Cameron himself paid Scotland a visit last year to big-up defence jobs in Scotland, he told us:
"Scotland counts for more on the world stage because it is part of the United Kingdom and Scottish defence jobs are more secure as part of the United Kingdom."
Presumably in keeping with his views on Scottish independence being an issue for Scots to decide but deploying the 'in Scotia' caveat (which I've just made up.) Funnily enough, six months later, BAE got rid of 834 defence jobs in Scotland, as a stronger more secure part of the UK you understand.

And there's the point about David Cameron refusing to go head-to-head with anyone in a TV debate but saying:
“We debate these things in parliament and we debate them in the media." 
Pretty sure television makes up a good part of the media.

David Cameron's head must be spinning like a top. He won't engage in a TV debate because its for Scots to decide but will send various ministers to Scotland to, ummm, engage in debate. He won't debate with Alex Salmond on TV because it is a Scottish issue and in any case, he (Cameron) debates in parliament - with 643 MP's backing him up and 9 against, (I've included Plaid Cymru.) He'll also argue against independence 'in the media' (although its still a matter for Scots to decide) but not on the telly with Alex Salmond.

It seems its only a matter for Scots to decide if we're talking about David Cameron in a TV debate with Alex Salmond, and that Westminster politicians temporarily in Scotland can say what they like then scuttle back down south to Westminster wailing; 'its for Scots in Scotland to decide...' 

If he's so sure the union is as fucking fantastic as Better Together tells us it is - why all this subterfuge and hesitation?

It goes without saying, what ever your views on Scotland and EU membership, the only way they can be heard is with independence. English voters have as much right to express their democratic voice unhindered by Scottish wishes, as we do unhindered by theirs.

Equally, if you're not a fan of the EU, if we get a Yes vote we'll be chucked out. Although according to some, Scotland isn't a member and couldn't be chucked out of something its not in. I'm being disingenuous, its in the EU, it just isn't a member-state - the UK is the member-state and although Scotland is a country in the UK and the UK is in the EU - Scotland wouldn't be in the EU if it left the UK because it would then be a region, or its a region now, or we'd forget how to negotiate... Or something.

I think Mr Hague wants to have his Hokey Cokey and eat it.

William Hague's notes for his speech about Scotland and EU membership.

I for one am heart-grateful for politicians like William Hague taking the time to visit and explain all this, I'm sure I speak for absolutely no one at all (including myself) when I say - Thanks a bunch William.

I can almost hear the plaintiff lament interwoven with the scream of the train's whistle as it speeds past Berwick upon Tweed...

'...its for Scots in Scotland to decide...' 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Recent developments...

The independence debate seems to have entered a new phase and on the surface, a far more damaging one for the no campaign. With the recent announcement from the UK Treasury about honouring its debt responsibilities, arguments around Scotland's share of it and the currency union have coalesced and not in a way that suits Better Together at all.

Better Together Campaign Director on being told of the news from the UK Treasury

George Osborne and others have said time and again that a currency union would be fraught with problems so cannot be guaranteed - locking an independent Scotland out of something that belong to us all. But now, that argument goes up in smoke, Scotland reimbursing the UK treasury for its negotiated share of UK debt really would be fraught with problems if we had to do it with a currency other than Sterling.

When you add that very obvious - some say game changing news - to the hubbub of differing soundbites coming from people within the same union-supporting political parties, for me anyway, it brings in to focus what independence is really about for them.

With David Cameron telling us he won't talk about independence because its a matter for the Scottish people while giving statements to the press in support of the union (and begging other countries to do the same,) Johann Lamont saying one thing after Miliband said the opposite and politicians like Ian Davidson and their poisonous ravings about cybernats and 'separation' - for them, the debate isn't about whats best for Scotland, its about whats best for them.

Johann Lamont I think just isn't very good at her job, her place in the Scottish parliament depends more on her constituents not noticing just how rubbish she is rather than the Independence referendum outcome. The same goes for David Cameron, the vote in September won't affect him, going by how well previous PM's have done, he's already got it made. Osborne is already rich and Iain Duncan Smith (for example) has a rich father-in-law - more-over they're English MP's who won't lose their place at the trough if Scotland votes yes.

Now though, the politicians and people who are becoming ever more vocal in their rubbishing of the Independence debate are those who'll lose out. MP's from Scottish constituencies, Scottish 'lords' sitting on the red benches at Westminster (£300 a day just for turning up) and all the 'hingers-oan' who benefit from the status quo. What I think we're seeing is a polarisation in the unionist camp, on the one side you have those who'll lose out completely, and on the other, those that won't (they might even benefit from it...)

Will the rest of the UK want Scottish lords in their parliament? I wouldn't have thought so, will people in England, Wales & Northern Ireland think - "Hold on, we can't afford to lose Baron Purvis of Tweed can we? And what about Lord Ffoulkes of Cumnock?"

Baron Ffoulkes of Cumnock - no more £300 a day.

Jeremy Purvis, I still have no idea how or why he was 'elevated' to the HoL's. That he was, underlines what a waste of time it is.
Alistair Darling, Better Together Leader, is a Westminster MP from a Scottish constituency. He'll lose his job unless you do what he says and vote no, surely you'd have to question his motives in the debate, or - bearing in mind he's a politician - do you take him at his word? If you are, compare and contrast with someone like Stuart Hosie (SNP MP) who'll lose his job if you vote yes - except he wants you to.

In any other circumstance on any other topic, you would be very suspicious about a person trying to convince you to do as they say knowing it'll enrich them hugely over being invited to do something by someone else that will result in that person losing out.

Of course that isn't a reason by itself to vote one way or the other, but it should (surely) help inform who - on balance - you are prepared to believe more.

Meanwhile, I think we can expect more fracturing in the Unionist campaign. I don't think David Cameron actually cares if we vote yes, he's a spiv who's made his place anyway. The old-school empire-fetishists (from all parties) will continue to squeal but its those who have the most to lose who we'll increasingly hear from in the coming months. They and their arguments against independence (for they are never for the union) will become ever more desperate and hysterical. To a one, the incredibly lucrative livelihoods of these people will rely on the status quo continuing, as for their unaffected colleagues down south? That's exactly where they'll be, down south.

What horrifies me* is there could be a no vote by default. Scotland and all the people it contains from where ever they hail will have missed a golden opportunity because a majority of voters couldn't be arsed informing themselves. We have an opportunity to craft a nation to our own design, we can make sure we don't allow our institutions to grow so complacent they can spend hundred's of millions on crap art or hundred's of billions on weapons who's use would be unconscionable while we sit meekly by and tell ourselves 'this is how it is, how can we change it?'

Despite the fibs being told by comical Scottish 'Journalists', once people do look at the debate they move to a yes vote. It is a big step, no argument there; but if you're in a job you hate, that doesn't cover the bills or let you look after your family - you'd look for another job. Of course, you can't know for sure if it'll be perfect but you know the one you've got is definitely crap, so you'd go for it.

Wouldn't you?

This also horrified me. The eyes follow you... Worse than that? The image above could very well have been a preview for... THE FULL SIZE VERSION!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A short explanation. *Not politics*

You may have noticed some tweets aimed at @CCBloomsBar coming from my twitter account.

Yes, its a gay bar - can you tell?
Anyone who's ever been out in Edinburgh of an evening know that it's door staff are - in a word - crap. There is the odd exception ('Planet' for example, which is the only other place I really go and even then, very infrequently.) For the most part, I believe the reason people think Edinburgh is snooty and stuck up is it's pub and club 'security' people.

I was standing in the above club, (for the first time in years I should say) on Sunday night - well, actually Monday morning - when the female door lady/person asked to speak to me outside. Since I've never been chucked out of anywhere, (except Sunday school as a child for crying all the time,) I had no idea what she wanted.

So I took my innocent self to the now-slightly-less-camp entrance and stood beside the other door person who asked what was up, I said I didn't know so he motioned me back in - at which point - the door lady person came over to shoo me out again.

Some-what confused, I asked what it was about - this was the conversation:

Me: Eh, what's going on then? 
Her: You were being sleazy?
Me: What? 
Her: ...Sleazy behaviour... 
Me: Eh... How? 
Her: Reports of you being sleazy...
Me: From whom? 
Her/Him: Can't tell you that, data protection... 
Me: Really? So what was I doing then? 
Him: Don't worry it's only for tonight. 
Her: Sleazy behaviour... 
Me: Right, but I'll need to know what I was doing so I know not to do it again... 
Her: *dribble/vacant stare* 
Me: I was standing at the bar with a drink, speaking to friends...
(A pal who was outside smoking a cigarette at the time had come over to find out what was happening, when I told him he burst out laughing, his support was invaluable.) 
Her: Someone said you were being sleazy... 
Me: I gathered that... But in what manner?
Her: *Vacant stare/dribble*

Since it was 2:45 in the morning and a school night, I thought I'd leave it there -  there isn't much less edifying than watching even a slightly drunk person arguing with door staff. 

I still don't know what it was I was doing and to be perfectly honest - I'm pretty sure I wasn't doing anything, (although I would say that wouldn't I?) I mean, I'd had a drink but I wasn't plastered, just gently fuzzled. Also, CC Dooms (as we unaffectionately call it) in terms of sleaze, already has the bar set (so to speak) quite low, which is to say, in order to be chucked out for being sleazy - you'd have to be doing something pretty fucking disgusting to attract attention.

'something pretty fucking disgusting'

Anyway, that's what the tweets are about. I'm not a nutter, I don't want it shut down or the door staff stoned to death. I'm just reserving my right to highlight injustice where ever I see it. If you absolutely have to, think of it as a microcosm of the whole independence debate. The door staff are the unionists (you know, making shit up and lying - although I would say that...) And then there's me with the truth.

PS: A pledge to ensure Edinburgh's night spots employ more empathetic - dare I say - more intelligent security people probably should have been in the white paper, not sure what minister looks after door staff though.

PPS: CC blooms' twitter account - much like the brains of its door staff - is hidden. If you too are incensed at such blatant injustice you can donate to my defamation fund at indiegogo- I'm joking. 

A retweet will do.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Eh... What just happened?

Yesterday a motion was put to the Scottish Parliament, normally something you wouldn't bother about since its a bit boring and humdrum. But it throws in to stark relief many of the reasons why we need a yes vote this coming September.

The vote was around free school meals for kids in primary one to three and an extension of childcare for some kids who have parents out of work. 

The part of the motion concerning free school meals has been in place in England for a while prompting Ruth Davidson (Leader of the Conservative group in Holyrood) to slaver:

"We have a Westminster policy delivered with Westminster money, and the SNP playing catch-up but trying to claim the credit”

There are so many things wrong with this statement its difficult to know where to start. A 'Westminster policy' wouldn't affect Scotland because this area of government is devolved - only Holyrood policy counts here. 'Westminster money' - insultingly, there is no such thing, its our money. The tax you (or your parents) pay in Scotland is collected by HM treasury for disbursement across the UK - its always YOUR money.

Ruth loves to give people the impression Westminster 'funds' Scotland, ignoring entirely just how much cash flows from the people of Scotland to Westminster in the first place.

The SNP 'playing catch up' has nothing to do with what ever party happens to be the Scottish Government of the day and everything to do with the way Scotland gets its pocket money from Westminster - enter the Barnett Consequential (yawn.) The Scottish parliament didn't have the money for this until England started spending on the policy, at that point a consequential kicked in and Scotland got its per capita share of the expenditure (worth around £60m,) albeit a year hence; this is how Scottish devolved affairs are funded.  Its also why Ruth Davidson (a Tory) can claim the SNP or who ever else happens to be in power (although we suspect she'd never utter it about a Tory administration) will always be behind the loop.

How most Scottish funding works and why without independence; it really doesn't.

Its a common theme coming from Scottish opposition parties, on childcare for example, in the Scottish Government's publication 'Scotland's Future' they want to provide of 1000 hours of nursery care in an independent Scotland. Opposition parties say; why not do it now, its devolved. But how does the Scottish Government pay for it? If independent, the extra cash raised from tax revenues when parents return to work will go into a Scottish exchequer (which is how it would be funded,) currently it goes to the Westminster exchequer - where it stays - unless a consequential pops up. Otherwise something else in the Scottish budget must be cut, unlike Westminster, Holyrood cannot borrow to cover any funding short fall for devolved policies.

While this is can be a bit complicated, its exactly why devolution - as Westminster would have it - doesn't work and its why they desperately want a no vote in September. Every year Westminster is handed a blank cheque signed by Scottish tax payers to do with as it pleases, if it doesn't cover all of Westminster's lofty needs, don't worry, we write them another one to cover the interest on the money they had to borrow.

All of that with the background knowledge Scotland more than pays its way, Scotland generates 9.9% of the UK's total tax revenue with only 8.4% of its population.

Courtesy of Business for Scotland

This means, Scotland funds itself and would require (little or) no borrowing while the rest of the UK doesn't and does. We in Scotland end up helping to pay off interest on borrowing we didn't actually need in the first place. (Follow the link under the picture above for a more detailed explanation; its important and a bit galling.)

As usual I digress.

Labour's Kezia Dugdale was on the telly last night explaining why 'Scottish' Labour voted against free school lunches for all P1's to 3's. John McKay of Scotland Tonight asked: "Why did Labour vote against free school meals today?" Her reply...
"We had to vote against the government’s motion today because the last line of the motion said that you needed independence to ensure that kids in Scotland had the best start in life, the best opportunity to grow up in the best country in the world. We disagree, we don’t think you need independence to do that."
For reasons already given (Barnett funding,) the point about needing independence to ensure kids get the best start is self-evident. Kezia (a Labour MSP) must not know what 'ensure' actually means; or perhaps she doesn't realise, if Westminster decide to discontinue the policy over free meals, funding for it in Scotland would disappear overnight?

To summarise, Labour voted against this policy because? 

A) It doesn't go far enough
B) It goes too far
C) We hate anything which might put independence in a positive light.

Pinched from wingsoverscotland, (its Kezia Dugdale.)
The answer seems to be C. Labour - to score a point in the independence debate - voted against free meals for five to seven year olds, some of whom are living in quite dire poverty (partly caused by policies put in place during Labour's time in office at Westminster.)

The next logical step on this is universality (where every one gets access, not just those who need it.) Its a gnarly topic, why for example should rich OAP's get a free bus pass when they also run a posh car? Its a valid point, until you come to understand just how expensive means testing can be. In the area of school meals, there can be a stigma attached to those in receipt of free lunches. Even I remember at school the cruel ribbing kids got (in between hiding from dinosaurs and playing with lumps of partially formed coal) if they were getting a free lunch. 

This policy does away with it completely and anyway, isn't having free school meals a good thing to do generally? Just because a family may be above the breadline doesn't necessarily mean the kids are being fed. Some might say, in order to be above the breadline, many parents have to spend so much time working they have less & less time to prepare hearty fayre for their sprogs.

In any case, this demonstrates why the current constitutional set-up does Scotland a disservice and highlights the hypocritical, self-serving nature of the opposition at Holyrood and the wider Better Together campaign.

Meanwhile, there are many in Scotland who will witness examples of this over and over again but because its the SNP and a man called Alex Salmond they'll side with arguments made by people like Kezia Dugdale or Ruth Davidson.

Next time, try ignoring the people and concentrate on the words only, maybe then promising free school meals for five to seven year olds won't sound quite so much like the work of the devil - as Kezia or Ruth would love you to believe.

Monday, 6 January 2014

New year/New, erm...

Well nothing really.

Of note this morning? No more Call Kaye on Radio Scotland, not being an avid listener of the station, I might have missed the announcement but we now have 'Morning Call' with Louise White and going by this morning's 10 minute sliver I managed to tolerate while travelling to work, Pacific Quay have swapped Kaye Adam's fairly shameless unionism for Louise White's stupidity.

Kaye Adams - Oot!

Louise White - In!.
In what passes for the BBC in Scotland hitting the ground running, Murdo Fraser (a Conservative MSP) was on spouting the usual nonsense - that David Cameron isn't the one to debate with Alex Salmond and that Alistair Darling is. He went on to claim this was logical because Darling was Salmond's opposite in the No campaign, if government Leaders are debating with Campaign Chair-people, such logic dictates that Cameron shouldn't be debating with Salmond after all; but with Dennis Canavan.

Dennis Canavan - Yes Scotland Campaign Chairman

Alistair Darling - Better Together Campaign Chairman

For the record, Dennis Canavan would hammer David Cameron in a TV debate - heck - Barry Chuckle could do that - both have fact on their side.

Meanwhile, Louise White parroted as fact that Darling was Salmond's counterpart (which for the reasons above is rubbish) while telling Alex Bell (speaking on the phone for the Yes side) to be brief after Fraser was given free reign in the studio.

Of course there is a degree of political posturing going on from both sides: Cameron for all his bluster on the topic feels that by engaging in a TV debate, he'd be giving tacit acceptance to Scottish independence as a going concern and to Alex Salmond as an equal. From the other side, Salmond and Yes Scotland know that for many, that would certainly be the case and no bad thing. Also, Cameron and the Union would be beaten thoroughly by the Yes side's argument, it wouldn't matter whether it was Salmond behind the other Lectern or Wee Jimmy Crankie.

Wee Jimmy Crankie.

So no change from BBC Radio Scotland in the morning for 2014, except perhaps for even more frustrated headbanging by those who are aware of the reality of the independence debate.

I thought the BBC - being a public service broadcaster paid for by public money - would make an effort. While I can't speak for anyone else, I'm going to be distracted for at least the next two to three months trying to remember when I'm dating letters and documents that it is no longer 2013.

Come on now, I bet you've done it already...

To summarise: The same logic that Murdo Fraser (etc) uses to support the notion that Salmond should be debating with Darling and not Cameron, also supports Cameron debating with Dennis Canavan? The advisory board of Yes Scotland consists of Yes supporters from the Scottish Greens, SSP and SNP (key people in the wee box up on the right.) In that link, you'll see Salmond's name is absent.

Meanwhile Better Together's advisory board (key people) consists of MSP's & an MP from Labour plus a couple of business people - also absent is David Cameron's name.

Some might say: "Ah but Salmond is directing the Yes Scotland campaign from behind the scenes" - those people must at the same time be saying that Alistair Darling and Better Together are not being steered by English Tories, ergo David Cameron.

As young Kevin McCallister said to the checkout Lady in Home Alone when she asked if he was on his own?*

'I don't think so.'

Finally, something even an eight year old child understands, if you want sweets you debate with the parent who holds the purse strings: Alistair Darling can't promise anything, Better Together are not in power any where, where-as - whether you like it or not - Alex Salmond and the SNP are.

* My one and only reference to what some refer to as the 'festive' (*shudder*) period.