Thursday, 29 September 2011

Builders' profits get bigger; we get bigger... but our houses get smaller

A while ago I read in a report from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, that Britain had the smallest new build houses in Europe. Indeed the average floor space in the UK was half that in Denmark. No surprise there though, I thought. If there’s a table of good things, like recovery from surgery rates, Britain has a habit of being towards the bottom of it; whist, if it’s a table of bad things, like single teenage pregnancy or dependency on drugs, Britain is heading up the table. So the smallest houses tag didn't really surprise me.

But the other day I read that not only are our houses smaller than others, they are actually under the size recommended by architects for living in. Apparently the average family house is 8% smaller than the recommended size. The most recently built houses are actually only 75% as big as they should be. In a typical 3-bedroom family house, this translates to the purchaser being diddled out of 2 double bedrooms’ worth of space!

Of course this means that builders, who already make a handsome profit (given that the price of a house bears absolutely no relation whatsoever to its actual worth), are making even bigger profits by cramming more houses per hectare on to their land.

So what, you might ask. So, I guess there is enough stress in living a family life without there not being enough room to swing a cat, or rather to store all the bits and pieces that people need, or at least think they need in today’s world.

In my block, I am the only person who lives alone, and I think that my flat is crowded. How the others in the block manage is beyond my comprehension. But think of the strain that living in a tiny box puts on relationships and on family life. In tiny rooms already crowded with oversized furniture, even a couple of items out of place makes the room untidy; bedrooms with just enough room to squeeze round the bottom of the bed, and up the sides must be a living nightmare.

At the same time as our houses get smaller and smaller, we get bigger and fatter. In 1951 the average British woman had a waist of 27". Today that average is 34". No comparable figures are available for men, however, army uniforms from that time suggest that the average man would have had a 32" waist, whilst now he has a 38" waist (and no... that's your waste, not where your trousers sit!)

Is it then any wonder that we read that 10% of Scots are on anti-depressants?

If I had to live in that room at the top, I'd be on Prozac!


I just had to mention this. I noticed a sign in the window of a (now defunct) Dundee Bar advertising:


Here's to Scottish education...................... getting better.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


I see that Dublin is to be the European home of Twitter.

Enticed perhaps by the lowest corporation tax in Europe, the American internet technology company has decided to look no farther than Ireland.

This will be a smack in the teeth to Davie Cameron and his mate Boris, who were determined to secure the company for London. London you'll note; not Cardiff, nor Belfast, nor Edinburgh, but London.

The Irish Development Authority has been working flat out to make Dublin the Digital Media capital of Europe, having already succeeded in persuading Google (2200 employees), Facebook (300), LinkedIn (140), Zynga (100), Paypal (1,300) and eBay (1000)....5,000 jobs in all from just these 6! Edinburgh could do with 5,000 jobs of that kind.

The 12.5% corporation tax certainly seems to clinch deals for them.

Edinburgh needs the right to vary the corporation tax in Scotland. It's too late for these companies, but not, perhaps for the many others that will be looking for European bases. These other countries are at such an advantage being able to juggle their taxes to suit their economic needs. Would that we were.


Mr Murphy, one time Scotland Secretary and now Shadow Defence Minister has complained that when David Cameron comes to Scotland he behaves like a foreign dignitary visiting a Balkan country. (I'm not sure why he chose Slovenia, or indeed the Balkans, for his little rant and he doesn't go on to explain it. Why not, I wondered, a Scandinavian country, like...erm...Norway? Oh no, wait a minute. That will be because we are nothing like Norway, for obvious reasons.)

Mr Murphy, described by the Telegraph as the most high profile Scot in Labour's ranks, was talking about the future campaign against the SNP's independence plans (which shows what they think of Iain Gray or the great administrator, Tom Harris).

Murphy has ruled out standing on a platform with David Cameron, whom, he says, comes to Scotland and stands in front of a Saltire and a Union Flag, and little else. This stance was echoed by the less well known, Iain Gray, who said that Labour would make its own arrangements to show why Britain is better. (Can't wait for that!)

Spud has got a point though. Cameron doesn't engage at all with Scots. He doesn't begin to understand the situation here, and I shouldn't think he cares. The country returns one Tory MP, and that's only Fluffy! It's hardly worth the effort.

He has made a few visits north of the border, but nothing of any real note. He has made a flying visit to the Tory conference, and of course there was the famous visit to the Queen's private estate when he kept her, and the National Anthem, waiting while he politicked with the crowd, and then left early the next day, giving the impression that the atmosphere had been frosty. (Added to which his wife wore an unsuitable trouser suit which she had borrowed to advertise the designer's work. I'm sure the Queen would have been thrilled that the traditional weekend she has to spend with the prime minister was being used as an advertisement for someone in the rag trade: "Paul Smith Clothing Company: Making clothes fit for a [visit to a] Queen"!

Fluffy Mundell, the Under Secretary at the Scotland Office, however, has some idea that all that is a show of respect by his leader for our country. Oh well, Fluffy, I suppose you have to say that, don't you. Otherwise you'd lose the very junior position you hold in government?

A spokesman for the First Minister responding to the comments from Murphy, noted that the unionist parties were fighting each other like ferrets in a sack, and the the FM had no desire to intrude upon the grief of the unionists who were losing the place and fast losing the constitutional debate in Scotland.

Pic: Jim (Spud) Murphy... what will happen to him when he loses his looks?

Monday, 26 September 2011


As if somehow we were really stupid and couldn’t have guess it, the Telegraph reports today that companies which have donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Tories, and have lobbied said Tories for a change in the English planning regulations, are to build thousands of houses on open fields, conservation areas and ancient woodland, despite fierce local opposition. Clearly the Telegraph has chosen to go with the other kind of Tory, the ones that most assuredly don’t want anything to interfere with the countryside.

They have uncovered plans for major Greenfield developments from three companies which lobbied ministers.

Taylor Wimpey, accompanied by representatives of PR company, Finsbury (a donator to Tory funds), met a local government minister in January. They have plans for a variety of building ventures on green fields.

Helical Bar, whose chief executive has donated over £300,000 to the party, has plans for hundreds of houses on what used to be conservation areas. And the Barnett Group, whose executives have met with ministers on two occasions, are fighting over 3,000 protestors to build executive homes on farmland.

I hope that no such change in the law will ever affect the Scottish planning regulations. Our countryside is far too spectacular to be spoiled with “executive homes”.

You can really see why Murdo Fraser wants to distance himself for these people can’t you?

Sunday, 25 September 2011


According to the Daily Telegraph "Britain" is going to be hotter than Hawaii this week.

Of course that's not true. The South East of England, which is the only part that matters to the Telegraph, is going to be hotter than Hawaii; Scotland will be colder.

As it happens it's not going to be THAT much colder. Scotland's all lumped into one according to the Telegraph so from Lerwick to Peebles it seems we can expect around 24 C. Of course that's rubbish, but no one at the Telegraph gives a stuff about that.

Just like the BBC, in fact. I notice that on their weather forecasts that they go into far more detail about English weather and lump Scotland all in one. The other day they forgot to mention what the temperatures would be in Scotland. Presumably they ran out of time.

And, while we are on it, we seem to have a virtually exclusively English 6 o'clock news programme. We hear all about what the Justice Secretary has said about this, and the Health Secretary has said about that, and of course none of it has the square root of Jack Squat to do with us. The English Justice Secretary could announce the return of hanging, and what does it matter to us... and the English Health Secretary could announce the privatization of the Heath Service... Oh wait, he already did that...

Likewise a murder inquiry in Bristol is headline news, but one in Glasgow doesn't get a mention. We were 15 minutes hearing the outcome of a trial in Bradford the other night. We heard in incredible detail what the detective in charge of the investigation had to say; we heard the father's brave and probably touching statement... but none of it was anything to do with us.

It was local news.

Of course I'm not indifferent to the suffering that was caused by a guy that murdered his girlfriend and then lied about it, but there are horror stories like that from all over the world we could hear. But unless that sort of item is local, it's not really news. before you slate me for that, just think about it. Are you really interested in the details of English murders?

And come on, you really can't be interested in the details of the English cricket team's latest Test match; or how Gloucester has done against Warwickshire and on and on and on....

I know it probably sounds to English readers like I'm just a whining Jock, but you know, I have the choice of whether to pay for and read the Telegraph, but whilst I have the choice to not watch the BBC, I don't have the choice to not PAY for it.

So, no, I'm not a whining Scot. I just want a news programme that deals with Scottish news and Scottish weather, what the Scottish Justice or Health Secretaries have said, and what's been going on in OUR courts, on our roads and on our railways.

And no, I don't mean the comic that follows the BBC News, Reporting Scotland, with their magazine style reporting on Mrs McGinty's cat getting stuck up a tree. I mean a NEWS bulletin.

OK. Moan over. I hope some of the good weather comes our way. We certainly could do with it.

(But I feel really sorry for three sets of neighbours who are in, respectively Malta, Turkey and Spain... I do, really I do... honest... hmmmmm)

Friday, 23 September 2011

The English should be pleased that a massive gas find has been reported near Blackpool. Apparently there is thought to be sufficient gas to keep the country supplied for many dozens of years. The bad news is that it is shale gas which can only be obtained by drilling into the shale and creating thousands of tiny explosions. These explosions are thought to have been the cause of last year’s earthquake tremor in Lancashire. Let’s hope the issue can be resolved. Scotland has sufficient gas to last for many years, if England can supply its own.

According to Tesco, 80% of the population is having some difficulty in “putting food on the table”. It is worst, says Richard Brasher, their chief executive, for pensioners, who are having to ration food, heating and light. That’s a proud boast for a country running two wars which are nothing to do with it. Well, Munguin’s Republic has been saying that for at least a year. Inflation may be 5%+ (or using the government’s preferred measure 4.5%), but it is far more for the poor. And even as this is happening the Westminster government is taking away £100 in straight cash from the oldest pensioners. Anyway, Mr Brasher (every little bit hurts... no helps, sorry) is going to cut more prices and start a supermarket war. He wants to replace a philosophy of “charging as much as you can get away with” to one of charging “as little as you can”. Well, good on him and them. Obviously all other supermarkets will follow. But in case you feel too sorry for them, I remember reading that British supermarkets aim for a 5% profit, where continental ones make do with 2% and American/Australian ones with 1%. I don’t know if it’s exactly true, but it would explain the difference in prices on a great number of items. So, they can afford it. Let the war commence!

Is it a condition of employment that Dundee’s National Express drivers be rude, surly, bad tempered and possess appalling driving skills?

France has raised its annual inflation forecast from 1.8% to 2.1%. The difference between their inflation and the UK’s is doubtless that whilst Electricité de France plans to raise prices by 4.5% for Electricity and 15.4% for gas in the UK, and that this will be the second rise within a year. Whilst in France gas price rises have been cancelled and Electricité de France is allowed a rise of only 1.7% on orders of the President. A pity the Queen wouldn’t do the same thing here.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


I noticed on UK Polling Report that the figures for tonight’s (Wednesday's) YouGov poll for Westminster voting are as follows:

SNP 36%
Lab 34%
Con 21%
Lib 6%

Excellent result for the SNP and for the Tories. I'm not sure whether this is a poll done quickly AFTER today's financial statement from the Cabinet Secretary for Finance or whether it was done before and only released tonight.

Someone has worked out, however, that (fair as it is NOT), this poll would result in the SNP having 19 seats (+13) and the Tories 3 (+2). Labour would be on 34 (-7) and the Liberals on 3 (down 8).

Interestingly we were just talking about how incredibly disrespectful the Liberals have been to Scotland all week.

I think that they should take into consideration that on a system that was stacked against anyone ever getting a majority, but most certainly against the SNP, because of the geographical spread of their support, as opposed to that of Labour, the SNP won the election hands down. According to my calculations they won it on a First Past the Post basis, and they won it on a PR basis... Now we don't expect them to like it, but they need to live with the reality of it

All week, however, we have had Liberals like Malcolm Bruce tell us that we must be protected from Alex Salmond 's misrule. Now Eck isn't perfect by any manner or means, but misrule? Come on?

Michael Moore too, the guy no one had heard of until Laws blotted his copy book, has been talking tough about independence. (I thought he was an American film maker and satirist.) He obviously has some sort of illusion that he is someone of account. He tells us that he's going to campaign against independence and he's going to get all the cabinet to join him! Lordy, we are scared!!! We shiver in fear, or anticipation, or excitement, or maybe we just shake with laughter!

Eck used to say that when Mrs Thatcher landed in Scotland the SNP polling went up by several points. Just imagine the whole cabinet arriving, and someone making an on-mic blunder about the 'ghastly place' or 'terrible people'.... Yes!!

And then *Wee Willie Winkie and his four illustrious men proposed yet another commission on devolution. Yes, before Calman has even been incorporated, before the Scotland Bill has been enacted, Willie is going to have yet another commission. Does he, one wonders, have a few mates who need a cosy sinecure for the next few years?

Rather like the earnest but disorganised Wendy (with the brain like a small plant) and the whiny Iain Gray (Gray by name and grey by nature), Willie Winkie has been running through the toon opposing and carping, and taking great satisfaction from the fact that arch unionist papers like the Torygraph have been praising him for holding Eck to account.

[I suspect that Alan Cochrane has had lean pickings of late. The SNP has been so successful that finding negative stories about them has required greater than usual effort. Our Willie must have come as an answer to an old man's prayer, carping daily about nothing much. The profundity of what is said is of little import; as long as it's negative Alan can report it, and he's be happy to laud it and print it.

Well, according to these figures, it's not done them much good. They will all but disappear from the Scottish political scene in London as in Edinburgh.

Bye Bye Whigs.

* Scottish nursery rhyme.

Wee Willie Winkie rins through the toon,
Up stairs an' doon stairs in his nicht-goon,
Tirlin' at the window, crying at the lock,
"Are the weans in their bed, for it's now ten o'clock?"
"Hey, Willie Winkie, are ye comin' ben?
The cat's singin grey thrums to the sleepin hen,
The dog's speldert on the floor and disna gie a cheep,
But here's a waukrife laddie, that wunna fa' asleep."
Onything but sleep, you rogue, glow'ring like the moon,
Rattling in an airn jug wi' an airn spoon,
Rumblin', tumblin' roon about, crawin' like a cock,
Skirlin like a kenna-what, waukenin' sleepin' fock.
"Hey Willie Winkie, the wean's in a creel,
Wamblin' aff a bodie's knee like a verra eel,
Ruggin' at the cat's lug and raveling a' her thrums-
Hey Willie Winkie – see there he comes."
Wearit is the mither that has a stoorie wean,
A wee, stumpie, stousie, that canna rin his lane,
That has a battle aye wi' sleep afore he'll close an e'e-
But a kiss frae aff his rosy lips gies strength anew to me.


Michael Gove, the English Education Cabinet Secretary, who has complained bitterly about the standard of education in that country, employs some right duffers as advisers.

The storm over Gove and advisers using private emails instead of official ones to conduct business, so that their shenanigans can be kept out of the public eye, and that FoI requests won't be able to trace them, has thrown up an email that was sent by one of the House Elf's advisers, Dominic Cummings.

He is telling colleagues at the Education Dept, that from that time on he will not answer any further emails to his official DfE account... He continues, and I quote.... "I will only answer things that come from gmail accounts from people who I know who they are...."

Lovely, don't you think?

Now maybe I'm just naive, but I'd have thought that an Education Minister who complained that kids aren't being educated and don't read enough Dryden, Milton and Shakespeare, (and whom you would surmise from that was a pretty educated bloke himself), might want to employ advisers that can string a few words together without sounding idiotic.

Just a thought.

Oh, and it's it cool that the wee man's got himself in yet another pile of whatsit.

Amateurs, the lot of them.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


I know; I'm sorry. Brownlie will say I'm obsessed with the woman.

And in a way he's right. I just can't get over the belligerent way she behaved on the day she was accused of improper behaviour by the Daily Telegraph.

I imagine that most of her recent weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth is for the cameras, and the judge. She must hope she gets one like Lord Hanningfield from Essex, who will say that the poor soul is in terrible health; that this has broken her, and that the ignominy alone is punishment enough for the (allegedly)thieving (not allegedly) bitch .

I doubt it's going to work though. He was a Tory and likely had connections. She's Labour, common and stupid and any connections she may have had when she had money will have melted like 'sna' affn a dyke'. She's on her own now.

However, I thought you'd like to look at a before and after picture of her. It seems that the young looking fashion conscious (if you can call orange flowers growing out of your head fashionable) Margaret Moran has not, without the aid of all the money she (allegedly) used to steal from us whilst not doing her job as MP for Luton South, been able to continue to purchase make up and hair die.

She must have had to sell the lovely orange hat and resorted to something a little cheaper and more functional.

For this (right and below) was the sorry assed figure that appeared in court to answer charges of stealing some £80,000 of expenses.
This sum included £22,500 for a home in Southampton, hundreds of miles from her constituency or London, and apparently owned by someone who has variously been described as a friend, a boyfriend and her husband. She also had boiler repairs and work on her conservatory worth £14,000+ done. Of course this kind of thing was absolutely vital to her doing her job as an MP.

Only thing was she seemed to have rather a slipshod attitude to that side of things. Perhaps her expenses form filling took too much of her time, or maybe it was just disinterest, but she didn't appear much in Luton South, even when her office had set up meetings for her.

I hope they find her guilty and send her to Wormwood Scrubs for 40 years.

|But like most of my wishes, it's not gonna happen. She is likely to get a short sentence of under a year's duration, and she will, if she is like the rest of the lying cheating scum MPs and Peers, only serve a quarter of it.

I'll be interested to see if Ken Clarke's feral underclass serve as little of THEIR sentences.

What's the betting?

Answers, as usual, on a postcard.

Pics: Before (top left) a middle aged woman of not bad looks, and now, a haggard old crone. Let this be a warning to potential criminals out there. This is (allegedly) the wages of sin.

Monday, 19 September 2011


So first we asked where the Tories were going. The answers were various, but we came to the conclusion that they may well be going in three different directions. Then we talked about where Labour was going. It seems that they might reject the Holyrood leader from London and plump for the Ms Lamont. On the basis that you want personality, looks and intellect to be a political leader these days, I think we can safely conclude that this will not be the best decision ever. But beggars can't be choosers.

So now we must ask: Whither the Liberal Democrats?

Well, it's been conference this week and they have managed some headlines and a few of their "big names" have been writing for the papers. Notably Malcolm Bruce, who it seems is an MP and Tavish Scott MSP, who used to be .... So we have some idea of what they feel they're about.

Bruce has been talking to The Telegraph about the SNP's "abuse of power"! This abuse appears to have manifest itself in talk of a referendum on independence. Having more MSPs than the rest of the parties put together, there is no obvious impediment to introducing an appropriate bill to give Scots the chance to chose their future. The likelihood is that it will pass and that Scots will be able to vote. A possibility that seems to scare the living daylights out of the unionist parties.

Of course the SNP hasn't actually mentioned referenda save in response to questions from opposition parties, Instead the SNP talks about bringing jobs to Scotland before all else; bringing capital spending forward to provide jobs for people and improve the infrastructure and housing in our country.

But old Malc has gone as far as to suggest the need for a second chamber for the Scottish parliament to hold the SNP to account. [For pity's sake man, we're trying to reduce the cost of government, not increase it.] And how would he insure that this second, expensive chamber wouldn't be SNP dominated? Have it appointed? By whom? Nick Clegg? Oh please.

Where is the abuse of power, Malc, seriously?

And poor old Tavish Scott, bitter to the last, has written for Scotland on Sunday. I won't go into details here, because someone who is an expert on debunking pompous nonsense has already done it here.

Still they both made a great headline for the unionist papers.

They seem desperate to do that at all costs. They are the hard men, they're standing up to the Tories and the SNP.... Pfffffff.

Where are they going? Well, they went from 16 to 5 seats in the Scottish parliament; that's a start . Then there was the English council elections, where half the seats were lost; and in Liverpool, losing 11 out of 13 seats, the ex-council leader, a lord no less, lost his seat to an 18 year old lad.

They won't admit it but they must be dreading next year's council elections here.

So not so much WHITHER the Liberals... as WITHER the Liberals, and who would wonder at it when they sold principles for a few cabinet seats, flash offices and big cars...

However... there is hope. Because the rank and file are still trying to get some decency into the government's policies on health benefits as shown here.

Sunday, 18 September 2011


Of course, it’s not just the Scottish Tories that are in a bit of a bother right now. Labour are having their own leadership trachles.

Not only is there the desperate search to find a leader for the party, as search that is proving to be as difficult as the search for the lost city of Atlantis, there is the most almighty hoos yer faither o’ ah cairry oane in Gleskae.

The Weegie councillors are scared stiff by what happened in their area in May with seat after seat tumbling to the SNP, and Labour in London has started to pay attention to what has been going on there. Taking seats for granted, some of the councillors in Glasgow have perhaps not been as diligent in their duties as they might have been had they thought that there was a chance that they would be booted out on their backsides at some stage in the future. Of course, that heretical thought never crossed their minds.

But now it has crossed Ed Miliband’s and what they would call a ‘root and branch’ clear out is going on apace.

Of course this is going down like a ton of bricks, no two tons of bricks, with the ‘joab fir life’ type, so much so that a bunch of de-selected Labour councillors is considering setting up a new party, with the carefully considered name ‘Glasgow Labour’, to compete against... erm ...Glasgow ‘Labour’, which they feel is being run with too much interference from London. (Well what did we tell you?).

Frank McAveety, who was leader of the council from 1997- 1999, after which he became an MSP, and thereafter a Minister in the Lab/Lib coalition, despite a reputation for making a bit of a mess of things*, seems to want to be leader again, having lost his seat in the May elections, being at a loose end, and having a dislike for the notion of the Jobcentre.

McAveety, however (and I’m grateful to an anonymous emailer for this information), is having a spot of difficulty with an ex-member of staff from his parliamentary days, a certain Mr Andy Muir, who has brought to the attention of the police, a number of ‘irregularities’ in the financial affairs of Mr McAveety’s constituency office.

Mr McAveety denies the allegations most strongly, of course.

Labour is trying to steer clear of this situation, but how long will it be before calls are being made for his dismissal as a candidate.

As Minister for Culture, he was late for an appearance in the Chamber, and gave the excuse of being held up at an Arts event. Rather nearer the truth was the story that he was eating pie and chips in the canteen. Don't you think he looks like Iain Gray?

tAs Convenor of the Public Petitions committee he was caught by the ever present microphone which he had forgotten to switch off (an amateurs mistake for sure) talking about a young lady in the room in an inappropriate way and comparing her with the kind of female used as a Gauguin model (see above).

tHaving had more than 50% of the vote in Shettleston in the 2007 election, he was beaten by John Mason (SNP) in 2011.

Saturday, 17 September 2011


Jackson Carlaw has had a bright idea to get new blood into the Scottish Tories in parliament. Unlike his rival, and still favourite for the leadership job, Murdo Fraser, he does not intent to scrap the party and start again with something less tarnished.

He wants to get fresh blood into the existing Conservative party by regulating who can stand. Those who cannot get themselves elected to a first-past–the-post seat, will not be able to serve in PR list seats for more than (and here he’s sketchy on detail) 3 or 4 parliaments.

This might solve the problem of Murdo and his place in a party that goes on being a branch office of the London Tory party, and of the popular, highly experience current leader Annabel Goldie. Both of them would be obliged to stand down were he to set the bench mark at 3 parliamentary sessions.

His idea was based on the experience of David Cameron at Westminster (wouldn’t you just believe it) who decided that to get rid of dead wood in the English party and persuaded old hands to stand down in favour of what he called “A-list” candidates. Jackson might like to note that this has not necessarily been terribly successful for Mr Cameron. Many of the famed “A-list” appear to have minds of their own. (There seems almost no chance of a repeal of the “Hunting with Dogs Act”, thanks to the fact that his A-listers won’t vote for it.)

Of course JC has a point. If people are not performing well as MSPs, and Jackson seems to think that some are not, it shouldn’t be automatic that they retain their place at the top of the regional list. On the other hand if they have performed well, as, for example, has Annabel, it is hardly fair or right that he should remove them. (Unless of course he prefers to have his ex-boss out of the way so that she can’t outshine him.)

Everyone thought that Murdo was finished when he came up with the idea of selling the [Scottish] Tory Party for scrap, but they didn’t reckon with old Jackson and his desire to get rid of experience and bring in a pile of newbies. Newbies like, for example Ruth Davidson, who showed how in touch she was with Scottish voters when she dismissed the notion that Thatcher was still a malign influence. SHE, at 33, had hardly even heard of Maggie, was just a toddler when the Ironing Lady ... no sorry, Iron Lady... was on the throne, and therefore few of the rest of the population should remember her either. Idiot!

She also declared, despite the vast majority of the population wanting more power for the Scottish parliament, that she will veto it if she becomes leader. Bravo, you silly lassie. Best thing you could do, is sit and watch how Annabel does things, learn your lessons from a woman who knows what she is doing for another 10 years or so, and then think about leadership.

Clearly I don’t have a vote in the election, but, if I did Jackson Carlaw and Ruth Davidson wouldn’t get my vote in a thousand years. They are a pair of diddies.

Controversial though it is, Murdo’s idea to kill the Scottish branch of the English Tories stone dead is the only possibility. If there is to be a centre right party in Scotland (and there should be) then it needs to be a new one with only a fraternal connection with the Conservatives.

Pics: Jackson Carlaw, Ruth Davidson (don't you think she looks like a younger Wendy?) and Murdo Fraser.

PS: You can vote for your favoured candidate at Subrosa's blog

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


I got an email from "Unlock Democracy" asking for my views on the House of Lords reforms.

There are two parts to it. The first involves answering a few questions about how you think the Lords should be. The second is an "in your own words" comment. This is what I put on the form.

"In the 21st century, it seems to me that it is laughable that a country which is prepared to go to war to promote democracy has a House of Lords.

That 90+ members of that house should comprise of hereditary peers is beyond understanding.

"Far too many peers have been sent from the Commons as reward for faithful service to party.Once upon a time the PM and maybe the Foreign Secretary were put upstairs, now it's junior ministers at the Environment Dept, et al.

"Each time the colour of the commons changes the balance has to be redressed, meaning that we now have some 900 peers. It's the largest house in the world next to the Chinese People's Assembly.

"There should be no bishops of the English church in the Lords. Quite apart from the fact that there are people of all religions and none in the country, the English Church could never have been said to represent Scotland, Ireland or Wales, nor the Roman Catholics, Methodists, Congregationalists, etc, etc....

"We need a senate like any other small western democracy. There should be no titles, and people mustn't be allowed to think that once elected the job is theirs for fifteen years.

They should have to be re-elected every 5 years on a rotating system. There need be no more than 100, unless they are working constituency MSs, which I don’t think they should be.

"Those who currently hold the title and sit in the lords should be given notice in advance that the gravy train of £300+ a day stops here and they should dismount. They should be allowed to keep their ridiculous titles if they wish, but people who go to the Senate, should be Mr and Mrs like the rest of us. For hereditaries, titles should die with the current holder. You cannot promote equality in the country when people are calling themselves Earl or Marquis and demanding that others refer to them as Your Grace or Your Lordship.

"The salary should be smaller than that of an MP. They will do little or no constituency work; I see no reason to pay them for what they do not do.

"Of course one excellent idea would be to simply get rid of them altogether. What was it they are supposed to do?

"In Scotland we have no second house, but we have far better legislation without it being scrutinised by "experts".

"Please can we stop having a privileged class with titles at the top?"

Incidentally, as I was filling in the questionnaire, I was thinking about our friend Lord Hanningfield, who apparently was (according to the judge) given a lenient sentence because he was suffering from clinical depression and was in frail health (brought on by being caught). He would find prison according to the judge, more distressing and depressing than other people.

So, then they let the clinically depressed Lord out VERY early.

He's obviously feeling a good deal better as he strolls round his village with his dog... or he was until he was re-arrested; this time for defrauding the county council which he led, as the same time as being a thieving git up in Wastemonster. And although he's out on licence for one crime, he has been bailed to appear in court, instead of being bundled straight back to the pokey.

You couldn't make these characters up, even if you were capable of dreaming up characters like Voldermort.


ON behalf of Munguin and me, I'd like to say thank you to all the people who voted for the blog on the Total Politics list.

We are really pleased to have made so many friends on line who thought Munguin's Republic worthy of their vote.

Congratulations too to 'Subrosa', up one place from last year at 8, to 'Scot Goes Pop' at number 11, up from 23 last year, and to everyone else who made it into the list.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

David Cameron was “sick to his stomach” when he discovered that horrid Europeans said that prisoners should have the right to vote. How does he feel about Lords Taylor or Hanningfield having the right to the House of Lords? Should we pass him a bucket?

Nice story for a change. We had new neighbours move in downstairs a few days ago, Danny and Barbara, and last night they arrived at the door with a plate of biscuits. It seems this is a Hungarian custom. Damned nice one. Maybe in the depths of winter they will turn up on the doorstep with goulash... Well, I can hope can’t I?

The coalition’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport has finally woken up to the fact that trains in the UK are not for the poor. In an appearance before their transport committee he said that some of the fares were eye wateringly expensive. We have the most expensive rail fares in Europe, and, despite having a largely private railway, we also have the biggest government subsidies in Europe. Bravo. Well, it was this government that put the fares up, and it was a Tory government that botched the sale of British Rail. The question is: what are they doing about it? The answer appears to be: nothing!

Inflation is up again. The RPI is 5.2%. The government’s preferred figure (I wonder why) is 4.5%. And the figure is false. Many items now come in smaller packets with the same price. I doubt that that is included in the calculations. People are getting poorer and poorer. This winter fuel poverty will be a massive problem causing record numbers of deaths among the poor and the vulnerable. But just in case you were getting worried, there is no likelihood that any of the Cabinet will be affected. So that’s alright.

Judge Stephen John asked a prostitute how she could value her services at £20,000 a week to “Toys R Us” director Paul Hopes. There’s one judge who doesn’t seem to understand the basics of the market. A product is worth what people are prepared to pay for it. Mr Hopes was prepared to pay that much because he had stolen the money from the company. Weird old world.

Monday, 12 September 2011


‎"… it's time we shone the light of transparency on lobbying in

our country and forced our politics to come clean about who is

buying power and influence." David Cameron, February 2010



As the row in the media over the Government's proposed NPPF and the presumption in favour of sustainable development rages on, we have been working to dispel the inaccuracies portrayed by the main opposition - the National Trust, supported by the Council for the Protection of Rural England....

Greg Clark and his officials are, however, deeply concerned at the level of opposition that has been provoked by the National Trust and are worried that Number 10 might be spooked by this mobilisation of middle England and do the sort of U turn that they did on the forestry sell-off.

We have been firing off letters to the press, and have sent a letter to No 10 supported by the leading developers in the commercial property industry...

The upshot of all this is that Minister Greg Clark is delighted with the BPF and hugely grateful for our efforts.

He is of the opinion that the Chancellor will stand firm in the face of opposition from National Trust members in the shires - but he doesn't believe we can afford to let up and should seize every opportunity to press the case for planning reform. We are not, of course, a mouthpiece for CLG ministers but on this occasion their objectives definitely align with ours - so we can afford to be enthusiastic in our support, with the advantage that we have now earned more brownie points than we could ever imagine!




The planning minister, Greg Clark, has privately urged developers to lobby David Cameron lest the pressure from the Tory shires becomes to strong and Osborne folds his tent. In light of Mr Cameron's statement, and the above email from the lobbyists to their planning committee, can Mr Clark remain a minister?

Answers on a post card marked for the attention of Louise.

Photograph: Rural England at its most impressive


I thought that it was wrong that Jim Devine served such a short time in jail. Having been sentenced to 16 months, letting him free after just 4 seemed like a slap in the face to the ordinary citizens.

That was before the riots when it seems regardless of the shortage of prison spaces in England, magistrates and judges were handing our ferociously long sentences to people who had, in fact, stolen very little.

But, as Mr Cameron said, these people, whom his justice minister labelled a feral underclass, had to be taught a lesson. Just as when he was trying to be elected he indicated that thieving MPs and Lords should be taught a lesson.

Well, what kind of lesson does it teach them that The Noble Lord Hanningfield has been released after serving less than 9 weeks of a 9 month sentence?

The lesson it teaches me (as if I didn't already know it) is that if you are rich or titled or have the right connexions, the law doesn't apply to you in the same way as it applies to others. You can steal £14,000 and serve 9 weeks. But if you are poor and steal £3 worth of water from a shop that has already been smashed up and is lying open to passers-by, you go to jail for 6 months.

It paints a picture of a country I wouldn't want to live in.

What was it that fool Cameron said about "consequences"?

Sunday, 11 September 2011


Nadine Dorries has written an article for the Mail on Sunday entitled: "The PM publicly humiliated me in front of the entire nation, [sic] what did I do to deserve that? "

Hmmm... well, Nadine, the dodgy punctuation (which may be the fault of the Mail subs) apart, I doubt the entire nation tunes in to Prime Minister's Question, or indeed to the news. In fact, a fair percentage of the nation doesn't know who David Cameron is, and almost the entire nation hasn't a clue who or what you are.

So I wouldn't worry too much about the humiliation.

Secondly, you must accept that this is the kind of thing that David Cameron and his sort do. They have never really left the Bullingdon and grown up. They are, and will always remain, as drunken rich boys, with daddies to sort everything with their cheque books. George Gideon Osborne and his "wanker" speech is a perfect example of junior common room humour in the wrong place. Your put down, and that of Labour front bencher Angela "calm down dear" Eagle (with Gideon sitting at his side convulsed with laugh
ter) is typical of their boyish humour.

You must also realise this type forms a sizeable minority of your party and a disproportionate number of the Cabinet, and you need to decide for yourself if you really are in the right place.

On the other hand you need to take into consideration that, on a few occasions, you have caused Cameron a fair amount of embarrassment, so it's not all one way traffic.

Your situation vis a vis expenses was far from exemplary. You accused the Telegraph of McCarthyism! You claimed that MPs were threatening suicide and that they were all telephoning each other to check up that each was still alive! You'll remember your blog being taken down by the service providers because the Telegraph was threatening to sue them! Cameron was acutely embarrassed by all that, at a time when he was trying to show a shocked nation that he was a responsible party leader.

Then there was the time you campaigned against a motion at a TUC Conference calling on employers to stop forcing women to wear high heels at work as part of uniforms. You, presumably without reading the motion properly, thought that they were asking for a ban on high heels being allowed... What a twerp you looked.

Then there was your public criticism of the Speaker and your insinuations that he was mentally unstable... I can say Bercow's as mad as a wee March hare, but Mr Cameron's not my boss, and, unless you do it in the Chamber, officially, with the aim of removing him, Nad, you are supposed to show respect for him, no matter how hard that might be.

What else? Oh yes, there was your taking part in the tv programme where you had to see if you could live on state benefits. But you were caught with a £50 note in your bra. Not only did it run counter to the spirit and the point of the programme, it was also incredibly insulting to claimants.

And what about the fuss you made over benefit claimants who Tweet too much? Report them, to the DWP for Tweeting? "You should be out looking under tones for jobs; not tweeting." Next you'll be wanting to report them for spending too much time in the bathroom! Are you sure it's Bercow that's mad?

Of course your marriage is your business and it can't be easy to be married to someone who is suffering from a degenerative disease, but it was hardly good publicity that you left him. Nor was it good publicity that you have been having an affair with one of your married family friends.

Finally, I've seen you arrive for work in the Chamber looking like you were off for afternoon tea, or about to do a days washing. You really could try to smarten up a bit. Mr Cameron always has a smart blue suit on. You could try that.

All in all, you're not a shining example of what Dave is looking for in an MP, are you, Nad?

So, there you have it. You seem to be happy to dish it out, but you're not so good at taking it. I think you'd better toughen up dear.

Or, as I say, consider if you want to be part of the London branch of elderly Bullingdon Boys.

Saturday, 10 September 2011


I’m glad that the Calman Commission rejected any calls from whichever quarters to repatriate Scottish Planning decisions to England.

I suspect that nuclear power stations were our biggest worry at the time. But now, of course, we would have reason to worry about the relaxation of planning regulations, and the instruction to local planning authorities that there should be a “presumption in favour of sustainable developments” when looking at building permits.

Well... of course, only if you don’t have a minister as your MP.

Because, unbeknownst to us, there are ministers who fight tooth and nail against developments in their own constituencies while advocating the laissez faire policy elsewhere.

The Telegraph, no less, that bastion of Torydom has blown the whistle on a few of them.

Eric Pickles criticised the previous government’s attempts to relax planning regulations, fearing “sprawling housing estates dumped by Whitehall on green land”. Clearly, as he is so closely involved with this project, these sprawling estates are now a good, rather than a bad thing.

Gideon signed a petition against the development of an energy plant in his constituency.

Joan Hanham, the ex Tory leader of Kensington & Chelsea Council, and now a junior minister in the Communities Dept, even objected to a memorial garden for Diana in her constituency, but is pushing this legislation from her place on the red benches.

Justine Greening (Putney) is a supporter of the Thames Super Sewer project, but she doesn't want it tunnelled from her own constituency. Michael Fabricant has objected to a development in his own constituency but, as a Whip will be pushing people through the lobby to support the government and Grant Shapps, the housing minister, has also opposed plans for thousands of new houses in his Welwyn Hatfield constituency.
But the pièce de résistance has to be the cities minister Greg Clark (above), the person responsible for the legislation, who fought a development in his own constituency warning that it would cause "yet more pressure on our precious green spaces". Clark has now, in an incredible volte face unbelievably accused those who criticise his legislation of displaying “nihilistic selfishness” for trying to stop people getting on the housing ladder.

Sheesh! You couldn’t make these people up.

With every day I am more relieved that this awful coalition have little remit in Scotland. Life must be getting day by day more impossible in England.

PS: I have a great idea for a massive housing estate of affordable houses and houses for rent. I'm going to propose it for the space right behind, at the side of and in front of this nice family mansion in Oxfordshire (top pic). I can see no reason why it should be turned down, and if it is I will go straight to the local MP.

Friday, 9 September 2011


Anyone watching the early parts of First Minister's Questions this week would have been entitled to wonder that it wasn't some spoof cleverly recreating the weekly opportunity to question Alex Salmond, dreamed up and executed by Rory Bremner in a series of guises.

Iain Gray, the outgoing, or maybe not outgoing leader of the Labour group was at his comedy best. (I say may not be outgoing because he may have to stay on. You see, the only 2 people who appear to want the poison chalice of leading this group are (a) someone who can't really have it, on the basis that you can't be leader of the Labour group IN the Scottish parliament if you are, erm, not actually a member of, and therefore IN the Scottish parliament, and (b) Johann Lamont... who erm.. is ...erm, Johann Lamont!

Anyway, Iain, bless him, decided to go on the referendum on independence. He'd probably have done better sticking to the subject of the first question: What are the FM's engagements for the rest of the day?

But no, independence referendum it was. So Alex explained to him three or was it four times... I lost the will to live after the first couple of times... The manifesto said that it would take place sometime in the second half of a five year parliament. This is the first year, or put another way, year 1. There is year 2 to go, and half of year 3 before we will be into the second part of the parliament. From then on it might be reasonable to ask. Right now it is not. More seriously he pointed out that jobs were the priority for the moment.

Now all of that was just pathetic Iain Gray stuff, pretty much par for the course, but for his last question; the pièce de resistance if you will, Iain produced a photograph of a lady he announced was "Gypsy Amalia" in conversation with the First Minister. Maybe we should ask her about the date for the referendum... quipped the funny man. And, as her prices for a reading range from £5 - £30 wasn't she a bit like the plan for "separation" [sic]. You didn't know the cost till the deed was done. How we laughed!

Looking pleased with himself (as well he might) Iain Gray sat down, secure in the knowledge that this one must have, at long last, hit home.

Silly Iain. Alex said he remembered the occasion. The lady always had a stall at the Turrif show in Alex's constituency, and on that occasion she had read his palm and predicted that the SNP would win the election, and it hadn't cost a bean. Maybe, suggested the FM, we could ask her who would be the next Labour leader. Ouch!

Strangely my friend Annabel seemed stricken with the same inability to understand the answer at the first answering. She asked what currency Scotland would use after independence. (Why not borrow a Liberal question, Annabel; after all your mate Cameron is in hock to them according to the fragrant Nadine.) Alex referred her to the answer in a written report dated some time ago, including the page and paragraph numbers. She said he hadn't answered the question, so he read out the aforementioned paragraphs. Annabel still hadn't understood so she must have requested and been granted a further question. All in good humour, mixed with jokes about the forthcoming demise of the Tory party in Scotland, Alex told her that, in the period after the granting of independence, the pound sterling would continue to be the currency until the Scottish people had the chance to decide for themselves which currency they would use.

At long last, Bella seemed to grasp "THE POUND".

Although the second part of FMQs got under way, with sensible questions from MSPs about such matters as blood donations from gay men and the NHS, and Libya, Lockerby and Al Megrahi, it was a relief when the wretched thing was over.

Pic: Johann Lamont. What is it about Labour that they always need to bring in props. It's like "show and tell" that we had at primary school.

Thursday, 8 September 2011


Theresa May, it seems, lets her mouth run away with her when she is on tv, or making statements to the press. It is, however, to her credit that when giving information to a select committee, I imagine under some sort of oath, she reverts to a tale nearer the truth.

It’s disconcerting though that there is, in London, a home secretary who feels that it is appropriate to lie and big herself up in front of the television cameras. It does mean that next time she makes some announcement, no one is likely to believe her.

“Oh, that’s just old Kinky Boots making herself sound more like a dominatrix than she really is...Get you wellies off, Tessy, put yer feet up, have a cuppa, and tell us like it really is,” they will say joshingly!

In front of the Home Affairs committee when questioned about the riots in London, she admitted that she had not ordered more police on to the streets and she had not cancelled all police leave, as she also claimed at the time, to the anger of the police chiefs. She also admitted that she had no powers to do that. It seems that the police were right all along.

Furthermore, and possibly more disturbingly, having blamed gangs and gang culture for the riots, she was forced to admit that there were far fewer gangs involved than had previously been imagined. Most indeed of those arrested had NOT been members of gangs. This begs the question, why did Cameron have such a go at the gangs if they weren’t responsible. Did he just make an assumption that they were to blame, or did he wilfully lie?

People who aspire to government really do have to try to understand that they can’t be allowed to make up a narrative to suit their agenda. When a crime is committed, as crimes undoubtedly were, the public has a right to know who did it; not who the government wants them to believe did it so that they may have public support when they launch an attack on whichever group. This is an important part of democracy.

So why did she lie? What was the reason behind her fibbing?

As a Scot I care not much about the doings of Mrs May. Home Secretaries' remits are largely in England. However, part of her responsibilities relate to terrorism throughout all of these countries and as such she has a relatively important role in Scotland, and one where when she tells us something, I’d prefer not to have to wonder whether it’s the truth or some little plot cooked up by her and Cameron in order to undermine something Scottish... possibly the government.


It seems that you can take the boy out of the Bullingdon, but you can’t take the Bullingdon out of the boy.

The Second Lord of the Treasury, in short, or long, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has, for some reason best known to them, been voted Politician of the Year, by GQ men’s magazine.

So that should tell any foreign readers something about the quality of the politicians at Westminster. (I’m assuming it was Westminster, because it seems to me highly unlikely that such a metropolitan organ as GQ would have much interest in the likes of Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland.)

Anyway, in his acceptance speech the Chancellor wondered aloud who read the politics pages of the magazine, much of which is given over to photos of women in various states of undress. He went on to discuss the sexual practices of adolescent boys and the fact that politicians, while not teenage boys, were all wankers anyway. (Why, oh why do the papers report this story with glee but replace that word with w*****s. We all know what the word is. And if we don’t the whole thing makes no sense!

The posh boys’ night out continued when Boris came on next to hand the “Man of the Year” award to The Right Honourable the Baron, Lord Sir Sebastian Newbold Coe of Ranmore, MBE, OBE, KGB. The Mayor, another Bullingdon Boy (who never took part in any riotous behaviour whilst in the club, we hasten to inform), said that he had just come from walking around Croydon where people had shouted “Tory Tosser” at him. (I kinda thought he got off lightly there. A missile or two bouncing off the thatch would have been a distinct possibility, you’d have thought.)

Actually, the unlovely Mr Coe, when told of the opposition of the Welsh and Scottish FAs to a GB football team was reported to have indicated that the Celtic element could go forth and multiply... so he probably felt at home with the lads.

All in all a nice little Tory get together of establishment people, who seem to have forgotten who they now are...or maybe wee Gideon was just trying to prove he was just one of us. These are the best people of the year. Sheesh! GQ has fallen even farther in my estimation.

[The other well known Bullingdon boy (whom, we are delighted to report didn’t do anything wrong, and didn’t see anything wrong, and didn’t hear anything wrong, in the three years he was a member of the restaurant wrecking club) had to apologise when he used the word “twat” on radio before the election. Although it is not considered to be swearing and doesn’t infringe radio guidelines, he was playing safe when he asked said he didn’t want to cause offence. Hmm, well, as I say that was BEFORE the election.]

Pic: George does his fine impression of Mr Bean.