Category Archives: Elected Members

Decisions, Decisions

In a few weeks time Scotland will have a new First Minister; Alex Salmond will step down as leader of his party, and as FM. The only candidate to take over as leader of the SNP is the redoubtable Nicola Sturgeon – whose jaiket I once held, such is my high standing in The Party.  Actually it was on a certain day in Edinburgh, a memory from the campaign.  So Nicola will be our FM, subject to ratification by Holyrood, and unless a chunk of the SNP contingent happen all to be waylaid on the same day.

The party conference is next month, and what an occasion that will be, with Alex Salmond receiving what will be a very fond farewell, and massive appreciation for what he done, so far.  Much as I’d like to be, I won’t be there.

Between now and then those of us who are members of the party will receive voting papers to fill the vacancy for Deputy Leader.  A month or so ago, in the light of the resignation statement, around 25,000 papers would have been being planned.  But now they will need to send out significantly more,such has been the staggering response to the decision of Scotland’s people.  That said perhaps less than half of the newly expanded 84,000 strong membership may be eligible to vote this time round.

We have three candidates.  One is an MSP, a member of the Holyrood front benches; one an MP, one of the six; and the other, also an MSP stands on the basis that whilst she wants to be deputy to Nicola in the party, she doesn’t want to be Deputy First Minister, which is interesting.

The Smith Commission is deliberating, trying to turn this into something positive:


I expect little meaningful, and certainly not what we seemed to be proposed in the much vaunted Vow.  They have to find a way to improve on this:


So the next stage in this game is the Westminster election in May 2015.  The SNP have six members at present.  They could well have a much louder voice from May, and quite conceivably be a significant player as coalition talks take shape.  No doubt the BBC will maximise the role that UKIP may have to play in the months ahead.

Incidentally did you see that M. Farage has reached an agreement with an ultra right wing holocaust denier in order to rescue his party’s funding for the EU parliament?  I digress.

So a Deputy Leader standing at Westminster could be an important role.  Angus Robertson’s been a fine leader of the Westminster group for some time.  And speculation bounces round that our retiring FM could himself have a last stand down London way, rattling sabres and more beyond.

So do we appoint an MP or an MSP?  We could even have one MSP as Deputy Leader, and another as DFM.  Or an MP as DL, and an MSP as DFM.  Who to choose; how to vote?

Well all three candidates have been on the hustings.  The Sunday papers have given column inches for each to set out their stall.  So too has Lallands Peat Worrier  for whom each so far, the two male candidates have written a guest post.  I certainly got more from those than I gleaned from the press articles.  Whether you have a vote or not you might wish to consider the vision of each of the three candidates, in these very important times for the future of our nation, for whoever is elected; whoever becomes Nicola’s deputy in the party, and whoever becomes Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, he, she or they will have important roles in shaping Scotland’s future:

Firstly Keith Brown MSP.

Next up Stewart Hosie MP.

Finally Angela Constance MSP.  (link in due course, hopefully)

In the aftermath of our nation’s cowardice, and at many gatherings since, the desire for a Yes Alliance  has been much discussed.  We have momentum, cross party; and the need for a significant presence at Westminster, and then a second ‘impossible’ majority government at Holyrood the following year, has never been greater.  Stewart Hosie has that Alliance in his sights.  The Branches will need policy direction.  Candidates need to be selected, very soon.

It’s going to be an interesting conference.  Decisions , decisions.




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Three Politicians

So the Culture Secretary has finally gone, hallelujah.  I hope it is not the last we hear of this case for, as we continually hear, the government of which she was a member is Tough on Benefit Fraud, and these are Times of Austerity.  She may yet tread where others have gone before.

But what is really galling about the Maria Miller case goes beyond the belief of her boss that she should continue in the fine job she did – nothing to see here, move along.  This case was an expenses scandal of the old regime, not the current ‘improved’ system.  She thought it right that you and I should pay for a home for her parents.  A profit of over £1m was made in selling that home that we picked up the tab for.  Oh, but she’s going to pay tax on it I hear, thus making it right that she retains no less than 72% of the profit from our investment – for her parents’ home.

Independently she was instructed to reimburse us, but a committee of her parliamentary colleagues reduced that to just over 10%; and she apologised didn’t she, after her years of attempting to cloud the issues.

If we cannot change the attitude of those we elect then we have to change the system.  The monitoring watchdog would be a good place to start.  Perhaps Atos will be interested, they seem to have no scruples whatsoever and enjoy taking government money.  Now if they could treat our elected members as they have our sick and needy…

Then there’s George Robertson as we knew him, Lord Robertson now.  An ermine robe and a tax free appearance fee is fine reward for public service is it not?  Cataclysmic; the end of the world as we know it; the West is lost.  Oh what next?

Robertson was speaking in New York, and of course the yanks have missiles on our shores.  Scotland will dispense with the need for WMDs and Trident, and join the other 25 (of 28) NATO members without a nuclear arsenal.  The Americans will have to house their offensive weapons elsewhere, and Westminster’s submarines too, and removing them from this little pimple on the edge of Europe will, apparently, bring joy to all the enemies of the state the world has ever known.  News just in George, Scotland has no enemies; the world, and Western Europe in particular, is rampant with small independent countries without nuclear warheads on their shores; happy, prosperous countries, rich in natural resources, bereft of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Robertson has form in crass buffoonery.  First he told us that devolution would kill nationalism stone dead; more recently he told he us that, unlike Catalonians, we had no separate culture, and him an Islay man too.  Perhaps he’s taken up Morris dancing these days.

But he’s been called in as part of the latest strategy from The Unionists.  Labour’s lords and ladies will be called to arms.  That will go down well in these parts.  For not only is our desire to remove offensive weaponry, but also an unelected upper chamber of bishops and failed politicians given another ladle at the trough.  And former socialists happy to don the ermine and accept the largesse will have only one impact as momentum gathers in these last few months before September 18th – the swing from Don’t Know to Yes will simply accelerate.

George Robertson, I marked my cross in his box once.  It was 1978 and I was young and foolish.  There was a groundswell, and a blonde in town.  I wish now I hadn’t rebelled against that, hadn’t set George out on his path to glory.  Instead we could have had Margo, and been all the better for that.

Margo died last week, a mere 70, suffering from Parkinson’s.  She was undoubtedly the Mother of the Scottish Parliament.  She left unfinished business.  Patrick Harvie will carry forward her bill on assisted suicide.  And the people of Scotland will carry forward her life-long desire to run their own affairs.

There have been many fine obituaries, from all sides of all houses, and a fine tribute on Scotland Tonight last week.  She will have a Memorial Service in a few weeks.  And she will be missed, by all.  I remember those days in Hamilton in the late 70s.  For Margo too was a product of the local school.  She qualified as a PE teacher before politics took over, with her 1973 win at Govan.  Her brother too taught PE, and I hear his ‘encouragement’ yet, across the playing fields and in the gym hall.  They broke the mould with Margo.

So there you go, three politicians – Maria Miller, George Robertson and Margo.  You choose.


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A Few Things to Ponder

Firstly this story came to light.  Now did you realise we had allowed our society to stoop so low?

And whilst that is going on we’re still allowing this fiasco to continue.  Those who we entrust to shape our society, and who put in place the sort of facility that allows the above to happen, are still laughing long and hard at our expense.  But let’s not just target one member, for she is not alone.

It strikes me that there may be opportunities to engage those unemployed with sufficient skills and experiences to run the constituency offices of our elected members.  And this may permit the children of our parliamentarians to fill the needed roles with the drug trails.

And I’m wondering what the commercial rate for the jobs in the constituency offices may then be.  This unseemly situation brings to mind a comment from one of our MPs, a senior minister in the previous government no less, perhaps on that vile twitter thing, to the effect that – all businesses have the spouses on the payroll, it’s no different for us.

Well I beg to disagree, for every business owner who decides to share the profits of his venture with the family, by salary, bonus, dividend or whatever, has to ensure that the business has earned the money in the first place; that his or her efforts are measured by the balance on the business account.  And in doing so he has to recognise the compliance burden that applies in the real world, the one that is policed by HMRC.  Whilst parliamentarians pull the public cheque book from the drawer.

It all just puts you in the mood for another wee movie:


And on a lighter note:

Let’s finish with a bit of temptation; a glimpse of what may appear On The Bedside Table in the weeks ahead:


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We have to talk

….. about Syria.

But as this is going to be a fast-moving situation let’s start with a very quick summary of where we think we are.

Firstly it looked as though the PM was intent on a similar path to that abhorrent one taken, against the will of the people, a decade ago.  But on the other side of the Atlantic the Americans, having drawn a thick red line in the sand, seemed to hesitate about crossing it.  Obama’s alternative may be humble pie.

And humble seems to be the mood this morning after Cameron was forced to accept that he could not start a bombardment, or send the troops in; that and anger if some his cabinet colleagues behaviour is anything to go by.

But let’s go back a day or two.  I was heartened by the statement from the Scottish Government – issued the day before Westminster gathered – broadly to allow the UN and  to do its job, the weapons inspectors to report, before any decisions could be taken.  The mood of the people seemed to agree.

Craig Murray penned an excellent viewpoint, and being a former ambassador during those horrific days of Iraq his experience should not be overlooked.

And there’s Hans Blix who had a central role a decade ago, but one that was steamrollered in the indecent haste to war based on lies.  And of course we all know what happened next, and wait yet for the apology or the trials.

Now in the nadir of 2003 we watched as our elected members ignored the wishes of the electorate that put them in place, and rubber-stamped the route to catastrophe.  Those same members, typically Labour ministers at the time, are now vocal in their opposition to the current PM from treading the same path that they deemed right then.

But that is simply the rampant oppositionism that festers in the political bubble.  It is nothing to do with right and wrong, morals or scruples.  Interestingly though it kind of puts the Westminster Opposition in line with the Scottish Government, up to a point, and that goes against the very rough grain that festers in these parts.  For we know that whatever policy is put forward by the Nationalist government, the Labour party will simply oppose it on principle, or lack of them.

So where to from here?  All we know is that the bombardment and inevitable obliteration of Syrian citizens will not start yet.  But the flotilla is gathering in the eastern Med; sights are being trained.  And Obama is in a corner.  He may strike out alone.

Just a few days Barack, let the inspectors complete the job we asked them to do.  Then let the discussions begin.  For if you decide that the Syrian government is at fault, based on nothing other than gut instinct, then you’ll find yourself on the same side as Al Qaeda, and that wouldn’t do at all.  More importantly the insanity of war will wage once more, and people and governments will make millions from armaments at huge cost to the innocents.

Then again Blair has shown the path to legend status, the one lined with riches beyond ability or morals.  And no one would want to join that club, would they?

And so we wake to a media in uproar, the government defeated.  But we know where the BBC’s loyalty lies so we’ll tone down the euphoria.  And Craig Murray has an early response; one worth reading; Rev Stu too.  Where is it all going to end?

PS  – Interesting to see the name of Rory Stewart among the Tory rebels, after his role in Iraq before becoming a parliamentarian.

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500 Days

The tumblers are counting down; getting close to the point where there’s a mere 500 days to go – for some reason I find myself humming 500 Miles as I type these notes.

Yes, it’s the referendum, and of course YES is the main word.  Seems a long time does 500 days, but you know things are hotting up when those pillars of society Have I Got News For You and The News Quiz get in on tha act, as they both did on Friday.

So we have sneering and condescension on the airwaves of the BBC.  But I don’t mind these ones for that’s what both programmes do, and do well.  I can put up with cockney gits playing to their audience, reading their scripts, and posh boys like Ian Hislop playing his role.  I didn’t find it funny, as it wasn’t, but irk me it did not.

But then they asked the audience – a wee show of hands as to whether we should be allowed to keep their pound.  Sorry boys, but it’s our pound too, bought and paid for.  And for all the gzillions of notes issued by Scottish-based banks in circulation, there is equivalent largesse deposited with the Bank of England.  But if you want us to remove those props from the BofE, and if you want to exclude all the oil transactions from the balance of payments that is so vital to sterling as a currency, then carry on.

It all just adds more votes to the Yes Campaign – so carry on sneering.

We can indeed bring back the groat.  Which takes us to something else small and round.  For on The News Quiz young Susan Calman was the most offensive of all, poking fun at her own.  For she is indeed a Scot, daughter indeed of Kenneth of that ilk, whose Commission in his name was the brainchild of the combined unionists, the one that was going to make Independence an irrelevance, and spawned the Scotland Bill which comes onto statute in 2016; unless, that is, we do something about it.

That said the father’s views are not necessarily those of the child, as I cringe at the thought of such a thought coming down my line.  But Susan is well known on our airwaves, not for being funny, but for not sitting on any fence at all.

Oh yes, it’s the BBC we’re on about, again.  And there’s a wee wander through Glasgow coming up soon –  a demand for a Balanced All-Inclusive Referendum Debate.

There was a good sign a few days ago when David Millar had a word with Labour’s Johann Lamont on Good Morning Scotland.  Coffee sprays on screens may have been many, for the woman is appalling, and proved herself a worthy successor to the much lamented Elmer Fudd.  Lamont is unable to think on her feet, work without a script.  And some see her as a leader of a nation.  Go on, listen in.  It’s the best thing on the BBC since Borgen, or since the final game of the Six Nations, or since, och I cannae think of any more.

And it’s not just the BBC, for just in, over at Wings, is this cracker; coverage in Canada.  But wait a minute it’s from Douglas Murray, a voice often heard on the airwaves of our favourite stae-funded broadcaster, famously in partnership with the totally offensive Ruth Deech.

Come on, time to Raise the Debate.  Time to march, again.  And don’t just take my word for it – here’s what Sir George Mathewson had to say.  And Craig Murray too, with a fine post.

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It’s Quite a Day

There has been much debate on the radio in the past few hours, following the announcement of the passing of Baroness Thatcher.  I remember the 80s well; and I see today the legacy of the Right-to-Buy and of Capitalism.  There is precious little social housing.  Our utilities are largely foreign owned.  And a nation of share-owners and property speculators drove the bankers into bust and bust.  I’ll say no more.

But take a moment to view the different ways the news is highlighted over across these isles, all from our favourite broadcaster:

The English News

The English News

And in Norther Ireland

And in Norther Ireland

The Welsh Version

The Welsh Version

And finally those chippy Jocks:

Maggie Who?

Maggie Who?

As always I’m indebted to Rev Stu at Wings, but please, for your own sake, do not visit Guido Fawkes who is fawning even more than you might expect from former cabinet colleagues and right wing press.  And you can be assured that I’ll be giving the ceremonial bun-fight a wide berth.  I remember clearly watching the State Funeral of Churchill, mainly as it was the first time the school had been gathered together round a TV screen.  But my memories of Maggie are best not aired at this time.

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To Muse Over

Whilst putting some thoughts together on a couple of subjects for you things have been happening.  So whilst I gather my thoughts here’s a few items of interest:

On Human Rights – we need to consider the type of society we want to build for our children and grandchildren.  In Scotland we could have a written constitution – very few countries don’t – and that could contain the rights for us all.  Westminster though is now suggesting that we remove the human rights legislation imposed by Europe, indeed possibly remove the country from the EU.  On that subject this article is a fine reminder of the different outlooks north and south of the border.  It came to my attention on Wings, but I’ve linked the original source.

On No to Independence – here’s a staggering list of the possible impact on Scotland on cowering into Westminster’s shell.  That is an apocalyptic outlook, in fiscal terms; but if that’s what you think is the best future……  Read it and weep.

On Defence – Scotland contributes £3.5bn to the defence budget.  Of that a mere £2bn is spent on facilities and jobs in Scotland.  So if we spend say £2.5bn we can be in a better place than we are now, and have no WMDs down the road.  So I’m struggling to think how sending a plummy-mouthed tory north to tell us that we’d be too wee, too poor, too stupid can possibly persuade me to change my mind and think we just might be better together.  Nope, not working for me.

And finally we have the behaviour of those highly paid elected members.  Huhne could have had his driving licence removed, but instead it’s his liberty.  And now there’s Eric Joyce, again.  Hanging on for his termination payment, and pension rights, all at our expense, at the 2015 election, one of the country’s consistently most expensive MPs, having been relieved of his electronic tag and allowed back into licensed premises, fined twice – is back this morning helping police with their enquiries.

The man clearly has problems; he promised they would be addressed.  But the people of Falkirk need representation, and the right to chose.  All that talk we had of the right of the people tode-select their MP in the aftermath of the scandals of recent years, gone by the wayside.  And so Joyce laps up a large salary, a vast amount of expenses, and we provide him with a heavily discounted karaoke bar to assist in his arduous task of helping his constituents.  I’d rather we provided him with medical help, and spent the Falkirk money better elsewhere.  Here’s Guido’s account of what we were paying for last night.

Now what was it I was going to talk about?  I’ll be back soon.

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