Thursday, 31 March 2011


Jim Devine has been sent to the pokey for 16 months, which means 8 months in real money.

He stole thousands of pounds from us to fund his drinking habits, having been advised by another unnamed Scottish MP that it was the done thing. (In my opinion he should have been told that it was 10 years if he did not spill the MP’s name. There were only 58 other Scottish MPs and his allegation casts a slur on all of them, most particularly the Labour ones.)

We should also remember that when he was caught out the slimy wee toad tried to blame his administrator, Marion Kinley, for stealing £5,000 from him and then he sacked her. Interestingly, when she took him to an industrial tribunal she was found to be innocent, and was awarded £35,000, which had not paid by the court's deadline. Ms Kinley now plans to send the bailiffs into the House of Commons to sieze £30,000 from his resettlement grant which had been frozen by Bercow, pending the outcome of his trial.

Just how despicable is Jim Devine? On a scale of 1 to 10, my opinion is around 6, remembering that we would have to rank murderers, rapists and paedophiles higher, and Pol Pot, Augusto Pinochet, Joe Stalin and other genocidal maniacs even higher.

But thanks to the Telegraph's investigations it has been shown that over half our MPs had stolen money on expenses. And more than 300 were allowed to 'repay' their false expenses claims, including David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg. So why is it that little, fat, sad, drunken, losers are the only ones that were taken to court and prosecuted.

Surely no one believed that the grander beasts actually made mistakes and didn’t mean to steal; I certainly never did, especially when it was revealed that all the paperwork relating to Tony Blair’s expenses were shredded before he left Downing Street!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011


Prince Andrew, some might feel, has had a pretty hard time recently. The company he keeps has come under close scrutiny from the press. People have wanted to know why the government’s ambassador for trade spends his time with gun runners, sex offenders and super rich women.

There have been questions about why some of these people have been paying off debts of Andrew’s ex-wife Duchess Sarah Ferguson, or paying millions over the odds for his house and then leaving it lying derelict. It couldn’t surely, people are whispering, be anything to do with buying favours, could it?

Further questions have been asked about the behaviour of his nightclubbing daughters and their requirements for royal security while they fall about drunk or take gap years and travel like “ordinary people” around the world.

And his propensity to allow his friends to use nearby, and convenient RAF bases to land their private jets has been called into question, along with his liking for a royal flight to go play golf.

That his ex-wife has been inclined to try to sell a meeting with him, because, as usual, she’s been living well beyond her means and needs the dosh, has done him no good; neither have his rants directed at the French, or his hosts, or the people who tried to stop corrupt practices between BAA and Saudi princes, at lunches where too much of the fare has been of the liquid variety.

His considered opinion that the bankers’ bonuses were peanuts and we’re all making far too much of them, has also caused what Mr Gove would have been pleased to describe as “disquiet”.

So, over the few weeks prior to David Cameron taking us into yet another war over oil, the pages of newspapers from the Independent to the Record were full of stories of government disapproval, of Andrew being invited to meetings with the FCO to review his progress and of speculation that his career as a somewhat dodgy diplomat was as good as over.

But, lucky for him, his boss thought different. And his boss is far more important that the FCO or the prime minister. And it seems that she has been pleased, instead of disciplining him, to install him with one of the highest honours of chivalry that it is within her power to give.

And so it was that on his 51st birthday (it must be the good living) he was installed Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in an investiture held at Windsor Castle. (Well, at least he didn’t have too far to travel.)

His boss of course is the Queen, his mummy.

And the reason given for this somewhat bizarre behavior on her part was that HM thought it was ‘the right time to do it’... and who is there to argue with her?

Most people, given a track record like the one Andrew has, would be down the jobcentre in double quick time, but clearly it’s not what you know but who you know that matters in the diplomatic and trade worlds.

More seriously, as the world many people have known all their lives, particularly in England, falls around their heads, the people at the top demonstrate once again their complete detatchment from all that is real as they continue to live their lives like nothing has happened.

Thank goodness we are all in this together.

Pics: (1)Andrew, erm, at work, diplomatting all over the place; (2) Some drunked trollop? No, wait a minute, it's princess of the blood royal. Easy mistake to make; (3) Da boss lady in her work overalls.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011


Due to budget cuts, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off.

I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day. Tomorrow is not looking good either.

I love deadlines. I especially like the Whooshing sound as they go flying by.

I Refuse To Have A Battle Of Wits With An Unarmed Person.

I Haven't Lost My Mind. It's Backed Up On Disk Somewhere.

Tell me what you need, and I'll tell you how to get along without it.

If We Quit Voting, Will They All Go Away?

Too many freaks. Not enough circuses.

Chaos. Panic. Disorder. My work is done here.

I thought I wanted a career. It turns out I just wanted a pay check.

I don't have an attitude problem. You have a perception problem.

You're Just Jealous Because The Voices Are Talking To Me.

On the keyboard of life, always keep one finger on the escape key.

I don't suffer from stress. I am a carrier.

Everyone needs to believe in something. I believe in chocolate.

Never be afraid to try something new.

Remember, amateurs built the Ark. Professionals, on the other hand, built the Titanic.

I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.

Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, because you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.

If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

A closed mouth gathers no foot.

Don't worry about the world ending today. It's already tomorrow in Australia.

Monday, 28 March 2011


Blog member, reader, friend (and Englishman) Mr_TMG suggested that this would be a perfect video for Munguin’s Republic. I’d never heard the song, but I thought it was bang, smack right for 2011 and hilarious!! Thanks Mr_TMG

Sunday, 27 March 2011


Oh they make you laugh, don’t they?

What does Tris, I hear you ask....

Well American evangelical preachers of course, silly...

I mean take this one. This dude called Harold Camping, who is 89 years old, is predicting that the world will end on May 21st. 2% of us will be “raptured” to heaven, and the rest of us will be going to hell. (Can you imagine what the crush will be like down there?)

Mr Camping isn’t just telling his congregation from the pulpit that this is going to be their fate. Oh no, and this is the bit that actually makes me laugh. Mr Camping is a radio evangelical preacher who speaks to his “parishioners” through the Family Radio Network, funded entirely by donations from listeners. There must be quite a few of them because the assets of the radio station are around $120m and the network now owns 66 stations in the US.

Mr Camping, who makes programmes in 48 languages (well not him personally, but his network), has tens of thousands of followers across the world. He also owns stations in South Africa, Russia and Turkey.

Camping, a baptist, started his Family Radio around 60 years ago. He does not believe in evolution and is against all abortion, not unusual beliefs in the Sarah Palinesque world of America's religious right.

He has convinced some disciples of the veracity of his predictions enough for them to give up their jobs and travel around America warning people of the fate that awaits. One of these men a 32 year old good ole boy from Kansas called Adam Larsen, said that this was an important task. He went on to say that his favorite pastime was hunting raccoons... but that this was more important. Tells you all you need to know. I wonder if they’ll give Adam his job back...

Of course the obscenely rich Mr Camping is belting and bracing and so has also paid for a massive billboard advertising campaign. I’m not entirely sure what advertising it will do. I mean you can’t really be “out of town” for the big event. I guess he may be thinking that if a few spend more of the time left to them praying and atoning, there will be a little less of a crush down there.

Oh well, by the sounds of it there’s a money making racket at the back of it somewhere... or maybe Mr Camping is getting mixed up between the end of THE world and the end of HIS world... Well, he doesn’t look too good, despite the money, does he?

Friday, 25 March 2011


I was reading an excellent article yesterday on Newsnet Scotland about the state of the Scottish branch of Labour (or is it still New Labour?). It’s well worth the read for the warning that it gives about how the media can shield Labour from the worst excesses of its incompetence, and how the SNP’s faults are highlighted and its achievements ignored or belittled.

However, I digress.

In the comments beneath the article a contributor highlights an article on universities, their financial problems and the Vice Chancellors’ snouts in trough situation from the Daily Mail...(yes, I know, and the writer, “Spagen” describes the article’s style as the Mail’s “usual shock and awe” style). However, he in his turn, sites a reader’s response to THAT article:

"I teach at a small Swedish university, similar in size to Gloucestershire University. Here, everyone's pay is a matter of public record, and I know that our very eminent "rektor" (vice chancellor) is paid roughly £80,000 a year. Conversely, our neighbour's teenage daughter works as a waitress in a coffee bar and her basic pay is a respectable £18,500 a year. Pay differentials in the UK are verging on the obscene and I can only conclude that the British establishment is intent upon reverting to some kind of feudal society in which the vast majority have to live on the edge of poverty with minimum wage levels, terrible pensions, massive student debts, unaffordable housing etc, while ruled by a tiny, and very affluent and all-powerful elite. Are you prepared to accept this?"- Stu, Laholm, Sweden, 25/3/2011 07:

I hope that neither “Spagen” nor “Stu” will object to my using their contributions. I have long said that the differential in pay from bottom to top in this country is one of the reasons that we are so desperately far behind our competitors.

It produces a widely divided society, one which got markedly worse during 13 years of Labour rule and which is not going to do much narrowing under the Tories.

Our wage differentials say a great deal about us. We appear to value bankers, whom we all detest, about 100 times more favourably than we value our surgeons, who save our lives. We have no problem with the likes of Wayne Rooney or bruce Forsyth earning telephone directory wages while workers in shops and offices subsist.

Stu asks: are you prepared to accept this? I don’t think that what we are prepared to do counts. The people at the top are wont give up anything easily and the people at the bottom have no power. If the unions try to take action, they have been warned that new laws will be brought in to stop them. I'm not sure what else we can reasonably, or at least peacefully, do.

But it almost certainly is our problem, and for sure, no matter what the politicians promise us at election time, life in this country won’t get better until we tackle it.


Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...

You’ve all seen these offers in shops, right?

“If you can get you shopping any cheaper anywhere else, we’ll not only give you the difference, we’ll, blah, blah, blah...”

So the latest to try this out is Tesco who claimed in their “Double the Difference” (nice bit of alliteration there guys) that they would do just twice the difference if you could buy items more cheaply elsewhere.

Clearly the idea is to inspire confidence in shoppers. There surely aren't that many people with the time and energy to find the cheaper item and make the claim. Nope, its all the old ‘they wouldn’t make that kind of offer if they thought they would have to actually pay out on it’ ploy.

Now it’s plain daft of Tesco to try that lark, because you’d have to be all kinds of dumbass if you couldn’t find things cheaper than in Tesco. I’ll grant you if you’d only ever shopped in Waitrose you’d probably think Tesco prices weren’t bad, but they hardly rank in the “cheap” stakes. So it’s not really surprising that people have been taking the daft eejits up on their offer with such regularity that they have been forced to modify it.

One man bought £126 worth of shopping in Tesco that would have cost £91 in ASDA and claimed a £90 voucher. Another claimed to have made £600. Some were even going online to use price comparison sites to find the cheapest supermarket for a range of good, buy them up and presenting Tesco with the bill for twice the difference.

As a result Tesco have had to limit the deal to a £20 limit per person.

ASDA are actually running a similar scheme at present (I noticed it the other night and started to read the details, but lost the will to live half way through). I thought what their spokesman had to say was hilarious: ''If you claim to be the cheapest, call me old-fashioned, but it helps to really be the cheapest.''

Don’t you just love it when a plan falls off the rails and you get to watch smart boys trying to find a way out of it, with enough egg on their faces to keep the Army in omelet’s for a month.


There are good things and bad things in life, some very closely associated. For example, it is good that ice cream is so delicious, and bad that it makes us fat; it is good that a glass of wine with dinner after a hard day’s work is a relaxant, and it is bad that some people, having had one glass, can’t stop till the glass crashes to the floor as they fall off their chair.

And so it is with our Westminster MPs. It’s good that we can always count on them to be generous. Unfortunately, the pity is that we can only count on them to be generous to themselves.

So it was with sadness but little surprise that I heard of the decision, after months of whining and moaning and gnashing of teeth, along with horror stories about the £66,000 salary not being enough, and these poor people forced to travel second class on public transport and not have their children up to London (it’s always “up” to London, Oxford and Cambridge, have you noticed?), that it has been announced that the rules on MPs’ expenses are to be relaxed. (Didn't take that long, did it?)

The subject was little mentioned in the run up to the election, except by the party leaders who, to a man, were adamant that the end to greed had come upon Westminster. But within weeks of MPs securing their almost triple average national wage salaries for a job that largely involves being rowdy and nodding their heads, they were back to demanding a better deal for themselves.

And so the day after they announced that despite the fact that last winter 9 elderly people died every hour in the UK due to cold related illness, they were going to reduce the allowance given to the old for heating, it was announced that MP would receive more generous expenses. Well, thank goodness none of them will die of the cold next winter, for what would we do without them? Hmm

Under the reforms, MPs with families will be able to claim up to £2,500 extra for each child under 18 to cover the additional costs of a larger second home to accommodate them. I wonder what an extra £2,500 would mean to a pensioner on £6,000 a year... 1/11 of an MP’s salary!

Also MPs who live within what would normally be considered reasonable commuting distance for "ordinary people" (a woman on the Richard Wilson documentary on British trains commuted from Reading at a cost of £4,000 a year), will now be allowed to have second homes in Westminster. So back to how it was before, because we can’t have VIPs standing around on stations waiting for 2nd class carriages on trains that are regularly late, cancelled or at best either overcrowded or dangerous.

Everyone is tightening their belts; everyone is hurting, apart from the royals, the lords and the bankers, everyone is feeling the pain of the financial sector’s excesses. We are all in this together, but at the same time, to make MPs' precious wee lives easier, and so an unspecified amount of what we have saved by making it more difficult for MPs to thieve from us, is to be given back to them.

One of these days the worm will turn. We just can’t go on and on getting slapped in the face...


In fairness to Dundee MPs, when the pay rise was announced last year Jim McGovern said that we would refuse it and Stewart Hosie said that he would take it and give the money he received to a local charity. Both were commendable (although the latter meant that the money came to Dundee, whereas the former left the money in the UK exchequer to be spent 9/10 in England). I trust they will continue to take a decent attitude and won’t be claiming a penny more in expenses because the party leaders and that ridiculous little fop of a speaker have folded their tents to demands by MPs for more more more. For certain I’ll vote for no one who shows greed in this matter while “ordinary people” are going without.

Thursday, 24 March 2011


It was a “watch my lips” moment when the prime minister was asked about winter fuel payments for the elderly.

In the run up to last year’s election he was asked about the benefits given to pensioners; bus passes, winter fuel allowance, free tv licence.

Labour had been putting out leaflets suggesting that these benefits would be cut and David Cameron, saying that he felt very strongly about this said that these Labour leaflets were COMPLETE AND UTTER LIES.

He added that if the (then) prime minister had amoral compass then he should “dig it out”... The Tories would keep the benefits in the way in which he inherited them and it was wrong for Labout to be scaremongering.

He said that he didn’t use the word “lie” very often, but he would on this occasion. Perhaps he shouldn’t have been quite so vociferous, because yesterday pensioners were told that their winter fuel allowance of £400 for over 80s, and £250 for over 65s, would be reduced to £300 and £200 respectively. This despite double inflation rate rises in gas and electricity and who knows how much more before the winter. After all the government seems disinclined to take the steps that the French government took over their power suppliers and insist on inflation only rises.

So now, I don’t use the word liar very often either, but I’m afraid I’m going to use it about Mr Cameron. In the clip linked here, he repeats this over and over again in a way that makes one think that it REALLY matters to him. That was electioneering of the worst sort, because it doesn't.

So he’s a liar and he has no moral compass to dig out at all. His mother won’t be cold this winter though, so that’s alright. The rest of you can freeze.

Iain Duncan Smith has given notice that he will be looking at other benefit like free bus passes and tv licences in an effort to save money. Just when you thought they couldn’t get any lower, along comes Iain Duncan Smith

I know we’re in a mess, but we have enough money to go to war in Libya, so why don’t we have enough money for at least our poorer pensioners.

This is an inexcusable and despicable attack on some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the country. It would have been a low thing to do in any case, but after that denial, which I have would say was repeated over and over again in interviews... it’s plumbed new depths.

Pics:(1) Fortunately not every pensioner is cold and uncomfortable all winter. (2) This man is visiting an old lady who most certainly won’t be cold. (3) Clearly this lady is not so fortunate; and will be even less fortunate this winter. Sickeningly over 20,000 old people die from cold related illness every winter.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


I’ve just watched Richard Wilson’s investigation into what was billed as the “British” rail system, but turned out to be the “English” system. Nonetheless, it was interesting and, as much of the system crosses the Border, appropriate for the blog.

The programme contains far too many facts and examples to record here, but the title sums up my overall impression.

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.

Rail travel has become far more popular over the last decade with passenger numbers increasing by some 40%, but with seats increasing by only 10%, giving rise to overcrowding of the kind seen in Mumbai.

The pricing system is described as Kafkaesque.

It’s certainly expensive. A season ticket between London and Reading cost £4000!! When “Which” surveyed fares its was given the wrong fare in 50% of enquiries. Despite this the companies adopt “zero tolerance” to passengers with wrong tickets with on the spot fines.

Complex details of when and how to use various tickets leave tourists and irregular users lost. Amazingly if you get out of the train at an earlier stop than you bought the ticket for, you will be charged the full fare at the ticket barriers! Wilson himself had the right ticket, but not his Pensioners’ Railcard. As a result he was charged £273 full fare (Manchester to London). He could have gone to New York for that! Fortunately he wasn’t going from Manchester to Kyle of Lochalsh (£500+).

There is no logic to the fares. Bath-London is £159; Bath-Paris is £120. Go figure. And the wondrous deals that are advertised are often almost impossible to get. As an example Wilson picks a deal of £8 single Portsmouth-London. In fact the only fare he can find is £30.

Network Rail cost has spiralled within the last decade from £1billion-£5 billion and the company is £24 billion in debt, so £1 billion of the £5 billion goes to the banks (where else!). But no wonder the subsidy has grown. Repair costs are between 30% and 50% more expensive here than in mainland Europe.

Ticket bookings by phone are run by an automated voice recognition system. Now Richard Wilson has a very clear speaking voice, albeit with a Scottish accent, but his attempt to use the service was more of a comedy than “One foot in the grave”.

The bulk of the money is being spent in the South East of England with £800 million each on St Pancras and Kings Cross. Stations in England’s poorer North, are left falling down.

The overall situation is nothing less than a farce. If the government needed just one reason to keep its nose out of foreign affairs and concentrate on domestic ones, the forth world rail service could well be it.

Fur coat and no knickers Britain.

Pics: (1)Over funded, under performing, overcrowded, most expensive in Europe, dirty, late... some adjectives to describe British trains, many of which date to the mid 1970s. (2) SNCF, French Railways by comparison are cheaper and faster and a joy to travel on. (3) The St Pancras Station and Hotel had an £800 million face lift at our expense. No such finding for Edinburgh Waverley or Haymarket though. (4) Theresa Villiers, the minister responsible for trains in England, has had a positive experience of the railway system. Probably she was in Japan at the time. A little of this smug woman would go a long way.

You might also want to have a look at this.... and this

Sunday, 20 March 2011

如此您有所有工作,请?Assim você tem todos os trabalhos, por favor?

There are moans aplenty about “foreigners coming over here and taking our jobs”, but the lack of prospects in the UK is starting to push young people to consider moving abroad and taking someone else’s jobs!

In a survey of 1,982 people conducted by Student Currency Exchange, more than half of 18 to 25-year-olds said they were seriously considering emigrating to Australia, Canada or even China. And nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said that they had given it some thought.

Job prospects in the UK are at their worst for 17 years. Youth unemployment at its highest-ever levels, with around a million 16-24 year olds looking for work. The trend is upward and with no real prospects of an improvement in the foreseeable future, and ready availability of information on prospects elsewhere, young people with good qualifications can, more easily than at any time in the past, get work abroad.

It makes sense to go where there are jobs, and both Canada and Australia seem to have been little touched by the banking madness of the last few years which has so bankrupted our economies. China and India, of course, are booming and their industries are looking for clever and well educated people.

A lack of language skills has always held Brits back from taking opportunities anywhere but the English speaking countries, but now that the real money will be made in countries with other languages, Brits seem prepared to make the effort to learn.

South America is an economic growth area and people with knowledge of Spanish or, more particularly, Portuguese, have excellent opportunities to earn good money and enjoy a much better quality of life than they could expect here.

We must be aware of the fact that we have an ageing population (
within a few years we will have more over 65s than under 15s), and that if our intelligent young people are emigrating for want of work in the UK, then we will have little hope of affecting a real and long lasting recovery. We simply won’t have the people to man it (or person it, if you want to be politically correct!)

It's down to George Osborne next week to make the economic conditions such that our intelligent youth don't desert us for a better future.


Today we have seen pictures of dead boys and men of Yemen, shot through the head by their government’s forces in the worst day of violence in Sana'a for 30 years.

Live fire was used to clear the demonstrators calling for the resignation of the president. But it’s not working. Incredibly brave young men are taking off their jackets and walking towards the troops, pointing towards their chests as if to say.... go on then, shoot.

If President Saleh thought that his killing spree, using weaponry supplied by the West, purchased with military aid from the USA, would end the rebellious behavior of the country’s youth, his guess has fallen rather wide of the mark.

More and more young people are coming to the capital to join in the protests. I suppose the trouble is that like the leaders of many other of the Middle East countries, Saleh is an old man, and he is dealing with a people that he simply does not comprehend. Over 60% of the population is under 25. They are equipped with cell phones and they have access to internet. Many of them are highly educated, but there are no jobs, and the regime so far hasn’t made anything much in the way of an effort to make the country a place that anyone would want to invest in. These men are not like the people of Saleh’s generation. They refuse to be poor, ragged and hungry while he and his like salt away vast fortunes. The days of quiet subservience to brutal, greedy, self serving old men, is over.

But how many more will he kill before he understands this.

Yesterday the
UK prime minister told us in a world leader and statesman like fashion that: “We simply cannot stand back and let a dictator whose people have rejected him, kill his people indiscriminately. To do so would send a chilling signal to others striving for democracy across the region”

Now I know that Libya supplies oil to Europe, and that Yemen does not. I also understand that it is the government’s duty to look after the interests of the British people, and that that includes making sure that we have a steady supply of oil.

But if British airmen are fighting tonight in Libya because they have oil, and not fighting tonight in Yemen because they do not, why cannot Mr Cameron just come out and say that?

If he meant what he said yesterday, however, can I just take this opportunity to remind him that the dictator Saleh has killed well over 50 of his own people this weekend so far, because they have rejected him. Can I further point out that to let him away with it simply sends a chilling message to all the other brutal dictators of the area (and there are many, some of them our dear friends and allies).

Pics: A bloodied, but still alive boy is carried away from the protest having been shot by his own army snipers. The president of Yemen, Mr Saleh, a man we could all do perfectly well without, and Yemen citizens are literally dying to get rid of. The capital of Yemen (map), the beautiful and mysterious city of Sana'a

Saturday, 19 March 2011


So finally we are ready to go to war yet again.

And, before we even start, the Tory press are hailing David Cameron as the great leader, while apparently Obama vacillated and the French (whom I thought were taking a very gung ho stance) were, I am reliably informed, albeit by the Daily Telegraph, were only posturing. This, says Nile Gardiner, is David Cameron’s war. Erm, maybe a little premature there Nile old chap. At the time of writing it’s not actually started yet.

Of course the truth is rather different. Yes, Mr Obama has been quite quiet on the subject and it is, allegedly, 8 days since he spoke to the “junior partner”. However, quite appropriately Mr Cameron has been dealing with Secretary of State, Mrs Clinton, whilst all the negotiations have been progressing. That is, after all, the job of the de facto
foreign minister, and if we had one worth his pay, it would have been our foreign minister that would have been involved. But as the headlines this week have been saying that he couldn’t run a bath, it’s perhaps best for all that the prime minister has been doing his job for him.

The Telegraph reports that Mr Cameron was doing a diplomatic shuffle last week: The King of Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the prime ministers of Qatar and Canada, then the King of Jordan, the president of South Africa, the German chancellor, Denmark's prime minister and the president of Nigeria.

So just like Blair, Cameron is doing the work. Still, I expect in fairness to the man, that charm is one of the things you learn at good English schools, so he’s probably better at it than the rest of them. Come to think of it, Blair went to a good Scottish school, and he was first rate at it.

So the resolution has been passed according to the Telegraph due to Cameron's “deft handing”.

Now all this is massively impressive, but there are a million questions left to be answered (and clearly not sufficient space here to ask them all).

But taking just a few lines from Cameron’s polished and impressive delivery to the House of Commons today, thus:

“We simply cannot stand back and let a dictator whose people have rejected him, kill his people indiscriminately. To do so would send a chilling signal to others striving for democracy across the region.”

I feel immediately compelled to ask about the 30 people who were killed by Yemen troops when they were protesting yesterday. What of them? Can we just stand by and watch this happen? What of the relatively few, I’ll grant, Bahrainis who have died, what about the possibility of trouble in Saudi Arabia itself? King Abdullah is hardly a democrat, and all demonstrations have been banned, but what if the young Saudis decide to ignore this, safe in the knowledge that a precedent has been set? What if they expect Mr Cameron to rise in the Commons and phone endless leaders around the world on THEIR behalves? And wider afield what about the Côte D’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Tibet, Chechnya, Dagestan? What about their downtrodden people?

I’m sure that our
latest great war leader has answers to those and many other mysteries, like what is the end game here. Mrs Clinton has said (and of course she’s right) that Gaddafi will have to go. Who or what will replace him? And how can we afford this when we are cutting essential services? I’m sure all this and much more will become clear in the next few days.

In the meantime, I wish the guys leaving this morning from RAF Lossiemouth much luck and safety in their mission. It’s as well that this happened now and not in a few years when the base has been closed.

Come back safe.

Pics: (1) The hero of the hour, the consummate diplomat, at least according to the Telegraph. (2) Mr Fiasco. Everything he touches turns to dust, from planes that can’t take off to botched SAS jobs, from papers that are not ready for aid workers in Japan, to rescue planes that are costing more than people can afford and run empty! Some lad is the Vague one. (Must have been those 14 pints a day when ‘e were nubbut a lad.) (3) Libya bang in the middle of North Africa. (4) Clinton decided that he should go...she also thinks that Gaddafi should go.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


The BBC managed, once again, to talk through the Presiding Officer's introduction of an honoured guest, so we don’t know who he was. I hope he enjoyed the ensuing half hour more than I did.

Alex announced that during the afternoon he would be meeting with the MD of the company responsible for the new tidal power project off the coast Islay, the biggest project of its kind in Europe. Gray snidely put it down, of course, and then asked a series of badly researched questions about unemployment. Really this man would make the most incredibly stupid First minister. He had no understanding of the figures, and Salmond wiped the floor with him. And, while we’re on Gray, what is it with the hand gestures. A more charitable mind than mine might find a word to go with that!

And so without wasting any more time on this fool, on to Annabel...

She highlighted a case of sexual assault which was not only horrific in itself but made all the more so because two children had been made to observe and participate. She was concerned about the fact that the guilty would be released, possibly after 3 year, but certainly after 4 years because of the early release scheme. She wanted to know why the FM had gone back on his commitment to end early releases, a fair question. I don’t mind early releases (a policy introduced to Scotland by a Conservative government); there are some good reasons for this policy. But we must start off with proper sentences. These people were sentenced to 6 years. Why not much more? Disappointing answers for the FM who returned once more to the fact that the streets are safer in Scotland because of the 1000 extra police?

And so to Tav... no, wait Mike Rumbles. Goodness, where’s the big man?

Well old Mike was so excited about getting to be standy–in Liberal leader for the afternoon that he forgot to ask the obligatory first question... but never mind, Eck, not being particularly excited, answered it for him anyway. Mike was incensed that Ballater Business Association had been snubbed by the FM when they asked him to come and talk to them about Business Rate rises. Alex replied that he had asked the Enterprise Minister, Jim Mather, to see them on his behalf (there’s only so much First Minister ...well, OK, quite a lot... and many calls on his time). Mr Rumbles said that he had been at the meeting with the association and Mr Mather and that it had been a disaster. Mr Mather had done nothing to help. Of course Alex thought that was strange, as Mr Mather had received a letter from the association thanking him for his constructive input. Message to Tavish: Hurry Back. Message to Mike Rumbles: Don’t give up the day job.

There were members’ questions on Blindcraft (Edinburgh), funding thereof; Child trafficking, laws pertaining to; End year flexibility, double dealing from Danny Alexander and Nick Clegg, with reference to; Scottish Fuel Poverty, and the excellent work that they have been doing.

Then, unfortunately old Tubby had to have his say, and that was that for another week... indeed for parliament. Next Tuesday the rotund one will be back with what, if I remember rightly, he called 'a little extra' before the Chamber is suspended until after the election.

One wee plea to Iain Gray. Please, please, could you move the members who sit directly behind you. It’s bad enough having to listen to your whiney voice and daft questions, without having to look at two of the most unappealing nodding dogs it has ever been my misfortune to clap eyes upon. Thank you kindly.
Pics: Eck the boss, Annabel the scary dragon and Mike Rumbles,, hmmmm, the... suggestions on a post card to Munguin's Republic.


"The fairy-tale romantic union of all the centuries. 29th April 2011”, may be exaggerating the importance of THE wedding that we are all being bombarded with, but that is how Guandong Enterprises advertises their commemorative “Made in China Royal Wedding Souvenir” mug.

The company's website says that it is : "A beautiful cup to commemorate the most beautiful occasion. Crafted in the finest bone china, it features an exquisite design of the happy couple with ornate gold detailing to honour this great moment in history. Please be our guests to own this esteemed, limited edition heirloom to celebrate with your work associates, friends, family and loved ones."

Ye gads... and that was produced in a Communist state!

But from what I can see, it’s more a fairy story than a fairy tale, because the pictures on the mug are Kate Middleton and Harry Wales.

Now I realise that there is a certain amount of passing around of suitable breeding stock in the upper crust of English society. Indeed when the prince that May of Teck came to Britain to marry in the early part of the 20th century, died, she was simply allocated the next one down. Either they were determined to have her as queen, or she was determined to be queen, no matter what!

But I can’t help but wonder if Kate just looked at Willie’s balding pate and though to herself that, although when she chummed up with him at first he seemed to have a lot of his mother’s looks, as time goes on he looks less and less like her and more and more like his father. And that has to be bad news. However Harry looks nothing at all like any of the Windsors!! As such he would probably be a far better bet.

Or maybe it just that, when it comes to westerners, we all look the same to them...

Pics: (1) The ‘offending’ mug, which is now of course worth a great deal more than the ticket price!! (2) Before and (3) after. Kate’s not getting all that she signed up for in the hair department. (4) He looks more like his father every day...and he seems to like a drink like his Auntie Margaret!. (5) His father back in the day. It’s just as well he had "the books", for he sure didn't have "the looks"!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


The tickets for the London Olympics went on sale today with 500 days to go before the opening ceremony...

...And the countdown clock, which started at midnight (pictured--tasteful, isn’t it?), broke down.

The Omega
(official partners of the Olympics*) time piece stopped at with only 499 of the 500 days left to go. The company were clearly mortified by the fault which happened as aristocrats (well Seb Coe) and other dignitaries (well Boris anyway) launched the countdown to London 2012. The said they couldn’t explain what had gone wrong (worrying) and that their experts had developed, installed and tested the clock (also worrying). It might have inspired confidence if the failure had not been the work of their experts!!

I imagine that as partners in the games, Omega will be responsible for the instruments which will be used to record the athletes’ performances. So let’s hope they can do a bit better with that. ("Ah sorry, we think that was a record, but the clock stopped. You wouldn't just like to go again?")

As Visa are also partners in the Games, the only means of reserving tickets is with one of their cards, which is a tad unfortunate for the millions of people in Britain who have Mastercards, or indeed no cards at all (there is a
link to Visa on the site, so you can apply for one...hmmm cunning).

The Games which we have repeatedly been told are for the good of all of Britain, not just England, or specifically London (I’m still trying to work this out), appear only to be good for Britons who have a Visa card. So that will be me stuffed then.

Of course there was a glitch with that too. The only Visa cards to be accepted were those with an end date of August 2011, which meant that thousands of people whose cards have an end date before that cannot complete their transactions.

So now the London Games appear to be for all Britons who have Visa cards that do not expire before August. The numbers of Britons who are likely to be able to profit from the Games just gets smaller by the day.

Not only that, but the “hard pressed British taxpayer” and the “hard working British family” (which has a Visa card) “in these straitened times” has to compete with foreigners (I wonder how many of them have Visa cards) for ticketing. The tickets will not be sold exclusively, or first, to Britons (with Visa cards). The damned cheek is that, having paid for the damned carry on out of our taxes that Brits should have to pay for damned seats too.

It’s going to be interesting watching the faux pas over the next 499 days (although we may lose count, especially if they can’t get the clock going)...probably more interesting than the £9 billion plus Games! And certainly better value for money (with your Visa card, of course).

* They should get themselves proof readers for the page. Tacky!

Pics: (1 and 2) Hickory Dickory Dock, what’s happened to the clock? At just after midnight and a few hours later. Oh dear. (3) Lord Sir Seb Coe, OBE... are there any titles this bloke hasn’t got? He’ll be a prince if it all goes off OK next year. (4 and 5) What on earth are these logos like? The second ones seems to suggest the Games are to be held in Zoizdon...probably Polish!

Friday, 11 March 2011


Do you remember last year there was a suggestion that at the next election the coalition might formalize its relationship (which is working so well after all); that the Lib Dems might not put up candidates against the Tories where the Tories were in second place and the Tories would do likewise.

The idea was of course that the Lib Dem candidate would hoover up the Tory votes and thus overtake their SNP or Labour rivals (or in England possibly UKIP) and that the Tories would do the same. Like a lot of the coalition it sounds great on paper, but as Nick Clegg and his party are finding it does not transfer so easily into practice .

Well the whole thing was roundly poo-pooed by the great and good in both parties. Cleggums and “Call me” were apparently horrified at the idea. After all we assumed that the Lib Dems would simply be subsumed by the larger party and wouldn’t that be bad for democracy as in it would reduce even further the limited choicer offered to British voters?

But it now seems that Tory and Lib Dem MPs will be able to stand as joint Coalition candidates at the next election under plans sneakily put in motion this week.

Ministers are to change the law to allow candidates standing for two parties at the same time to put a joint emblem on the ballot paper. This opens the way for an electoral pact between the Coalition partners at the next election.
It opens the door to Tory and Lib Dems agreeing local peace pacts with one candidate representing them both, perhaps under a logo combining the lesser-spotted yellow-bellied Liberal Democrat bird squatting in the English Oak of the Tories.

At the moment, a candidate standing for more than one party cannot put either party’s logo on the ballot paper, an anomaly that discriminates against coalition pacts.

Earlier this week the Government quietly pushed through a change in the law which allows those who stand for mayor or in local council elections to use a Coalition logo. Constitutional Affairs Minister Mark Harper wants the same rules for the general election.

So now Mr Harper has revealed that he will introduce primary legislation in the Commons to push through the same rules for the general elections. You guessed it, in in time for the next UK-wide poll in 2015.

Of course allowing them to field one candidate on a coalition ticket is one thing but actually getting people to vote for them is another. Do they really think the grass roots of each party are going to be happy to vote for a candidate hitherto opposed to them? So is this that hackneyed phrase trotted out so much of late, "a U-turn", it sure seems like it to me!

Get ready for coalition candidates coming to a polling station near you.

I have no objection at all to them having a formal coalition candidate on the polling slip and indeed think it will be to the benefit of the SNP, as they will get disgruntled voters from both sides. What I object to is the way they seem to think we are all so stupid that we wont remember that six months ago they were saying this was a totally outrageous notion, but now they are sneakily laying the groundwork for actually making it happen.

Do they thing we all, man, woman and child, zip up the back to treat us with such cavalier contempt? They have supposedly five years, so why don’t they wait for a decent amount of time before completely reversing course?