Finance and Constitution

I am a sad economics/tax/policy geek. I’ve been watching and listening to a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Constitution Committee while doing other stuff this morning. The interactions of businesses, employment, tax policy is fascinating.  If you want to understand the “powers” the Scottish Goverment has over tax watch this Committee Meeting from the Scottish Parliament. It’s only about 2 hours long…..  Then you’ll understand just how little control the “most powerful developed parliament” in the world really has….

 

http://www.scottishparliament.tv/Archive?Area&categoryId=adf12acf-2cad-492c-8c5b-538e04973a86&parentCategoryClicked=False&pageNumber=1&orderByField=ScheduledStart&queryOrder=DESC

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Here we go, here we go, here we go,

Once more into the breech dear friends,   Ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country, Never in the field of human politics have so many been betrayed so deeply by so few… (…I’ll return to this phrase)

OK so I paraphrased one of these quotes.

We’ve got a General Election happening in 7 weeks, a mere 4 weeks after the Local Authority/Council elections,  Whoop-de-f’n-do.   I’m scunnered at the games being played by Theresa May and the Tory party.  Let’s just remember that it is they – and only they – who created the whole messy environment of Brexit.  They chose to use the country as a plaything to try and fix the problems within their party.  And they are still doing it.  I guess when you are a multi-millionaire, which all members of the Tory Goverment are,  real world problems like benefit sanctions and state snooping don’t exist in the reality you live in. So you play games and the rest of country is of no consequence to you at all.
Going back to the point of this post – it’s to encourage the one or two people who read this blog to do something. To go and join a party.  But don’t just join.  Don’t just salve your conscience by bunging a tenner to the SNP (other parties are available).  Step away from the keyboard.  Go along to branch meetings, get involved.  Actions speak far louder than words.  And right now, your country needs actions.  Like never before (in my lifetime).  Help your chosen party. Deliver leaflets, take your turn on street stalls, write to newspapers, hell, even go on protest marches  (I’m about to do that for the first time in my life…)

I’ve always been a supporter of Scottish independence, so it’s natural that I should be a long time members of  the SNP isn’t it?  Well I’m not.  I joined the SNP the day Jo Cox MP was murdered.  Something, for me, changed that day.  A family lost it’s mum, a husband lost his wife, because of what she believed in and the job she was doing.   So I joined the SNP on Thursday 16th June 2016.   I joined the SNP because no other party is likely to be able to deliver the goal I fundamentally believe in – that Scotland can easily be a successful, fair and just independent state. Something about her being murdered made me believe it was time to stand up and be counted and be active.  Once independence is achieved, then <shrugs> I’ll look around at the parties in the newly restored independent Scotland and join one of them. Or perhaps not join any.   I don’t think the SNP are perfect. Far from it.  In Nicola Sturgeon they’ve got possibly the best politician on this island, but this party ain’t perfect.  Not yet……… But they’ve got the same goal running through them as I think is the only way to make the country I want to be living in.  I’m too old to emigrate to Canada.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Yesterday’s roll of the dice by Theresa May was the opening move in her latest grand game.  She doesn’t remotely care that she’s now doing something she promised not to do, that she’s, in effect, tearing up laws her party made. That there’s a valid degree of suspicion that she’s running away from potential criminal charges being placed against her party.   Nope, none of these matter.   She doesn’t care about “Now is not the time”.   It’s a game, and th eonly objective is power. Purely that. My bet is that she’ll be gone and the Tories will have another leader within 12 months.  Jacob Rees-Mogg?   Just remember you read it here first….

So my feeling is that The Battle For Britain is on NOW.  The result of the General Election in 7 weeks is going to shape the country for the next 10 years,  probably far longer. the future of the NHS, of Education, of environmental regulations of human rights will be decided in the next 7 weeks.

So if you care at all about the country you live in, about the country your children are growing up in, your grandchildren are going to grow up in, get up off your chair and get involved.  For me that means I have to do as much as I can to support the SNP.  Your decisions may be different.

It used to be said that polite conversation should avoid politics, religion and sport. That was then, this is now.  The most important change we could all make is to be openly talking about politics. It’s far too important to be not discussed.

The Battle For Britain is on NOW.  What are you going to tell future generations you did during these short seven weeks?

Here’s a handy link   🙂

https://members.snp.org/#/join

Gobsmacked!!!

I’m feeling gobsmacked and more than a bit surprised.  I didn’t see the snap election coming.  Once again we have the Tory party putting the good of their party before the country.  How many times did Theresa May say she would not call a snap election?  And what was it she said about the Scottish Parliament’s democratic request for #scotref?  “Now is no the time”.  Well if we don’t know enough about Brexit’s implications now to hold a #scotref, we sure as hell don’t know enough to hold a General Election.  I have never in my life seen a political party behaving with such casual disregard for the people in the country.  It’s dystopian. It’s Orwellian.  It’s just downright depressing.

Electoral Fraud.  Let’s not forget about it. The Tories were given the largest fine possible by the Electoral Commision. They were found guilty of breaking the rules.  There are 20+ cases still with the Crown Prosecution Service. And yet they are getting away with it.  The evidence is compelling that they acted fraudulently and now they’re going to do it all again. Wonderful.

Brexit.  That’s what this is all about. The Tories have to get their electoral win secured before the really bad news of how catastrophic Brexit will be hits the general public. There’s been a drip, drip drip of bans and financial services companies relocating functions and departments to within the EU.  When this drip turns into a flood then the economy of the UK is in deep, deep, trouble.   Only a starry eyed optimist would think otherwise.  Will it run into a flood?  Some commentators think so.  The Tories are may be many despicable things but they are not stupid.  They see the writing on the wall and are desperate to secure their power before the rest of the population reads it and blames them.

So where do I stand on this?  This is Scotland versus the Tories. We can all be certain the Tories will win in England.  They will once again be fraudulent (why not? it won them the last election and no-one went to jail) and Labour are not fit-for-purpose as an opposition party.  So the Tories will waltz home.  In England.

Scotland is a different matter altogether.  As is Northern Ireland.   In Scotland the unionist politicians could be made extinct. It will be a tough fight though as we can expect Trump-sized lies and chicanery in the media for the next 8 weeks.  (yes – that includes the BBC, particularly BBC Scotland).  Northern Ireland is going to be a problem for the Tories too as the Unionist parties will surely be rejected there.  So quo vadis the *United* Kingdom?   Do the Tories even care?    I’m not sure if they do.  I can’t remember as i type this if “The Great Repeal” Bill has been passed by parliament yet.  If it has, this isn’t about a General Election is a coup d’etat.  The Great Repeal Bill (oh was anything so badly and tragically misnamed) hands decision making on almost every aspect of EU law as it is brought into UK law to the Goverment.  Read that again.  The Goverment will decide what of 40+years of laws will be applicable in the UK. Parliament won’t be doing this.  The Tory Government will. Still thinking the UK has a functioning democracy?

 

So,  Scotland.  As one very famous Tory leader said “There is no alternative”.   She was right. But just a bit out of context.

 

 

May The Force be with you!

… although it might seem like some ancient and mysterious force is needed to guide you thought the perplexities and complexities of the Single Transferrable Voting system which you are soon going to be asked to use, it’s actually not that difficult to get your head around.  (Assuming of course you’re reading this in the galactic land of Scotland and are going to use your vote in the Local Council Elections on May the Fourth…..)

The only really important thing to remember is “Never use an X”. This voting system is all about numbers.  So you must use a ‘1’  a ‘2’ a ‘3’ and so on.  Here’s a voting guide for you.  

This isn’t a vote for the Empire, no matter what the evil Senator Theresa Palpatine says.  This is all about your local councillors, the local folk who will really be sorting out all the street lights, the schools, the bantu droppings, the pot-holes in the tracks around Tatooine.   You’re not voting for the Senate. Not this time. So try not to be swayed and influenced by the stories the Senators are putting out about the alliance. Vote for the people who you think will get the job done. This is kinda how I see it….

Your voting slip will look kinda like this.  Loads of names with a space beside them where we need to put our numbers.

CALRISSIAN Lando
FETT Bobba
KENOBI Obi-Wan
ORGANA Leia
SKYWALKER Luke
SOLO Han
TheHUTT Jabba
VADER Darth

You can’t vote for Padme Amidalla nor Senator Theresa Palpatine  (even though we just know her “Great Repeal Bill” is as big an act of democratic betrayal as the motion to have Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum removed from office).

Now – I quite like that Calrissian guy ‘coz he’s got experience of running the Cloud City. So he knows how to get things done in a small local goverment sort of way.  But, there’s others I think who have more potential.  So he’s not my number 1.   And,  just a hang on a minutes,  hang on a doggone minute,  whoever I vote for in this Local STV election I sure as Endors two moons really don’t want to vote for Darth Vader.  Hell no!  He’s the evil Senator Theresa Palpatine’s right hand man.  Giving him more power?  No chance… All I can do to try and deny Palpatine and Co getting more power is to vote for everyone above him.  So I think I’ll be voting like this:

CALRISSIAN Lando 5
FETT Bobba 6
KENOBI Obi-Wan 4
ORGANA Leia 3
SKYWALKER Luke 1
SOLO Han 2
TheHUTT Jabba 7
VADER Darth 8

Even Jabba The Hutt deserves a vote before Darth Vader….. at least Jabba ran a business…….

So, as you approach that polling booth on May the Fourth, or as you’re completing your postal voting slip right now, just remember that a very big game is being played with your vote.  Although it isn’t really about how much power it will give to Senator Theresa Palpatin, and she knows this, she’s trying to change the rules of the game for this election. Supporting her , well we already know how badly things turn out when Senator Palpatine becomes full of the Dark Side and declares themself as ‘Emperor’……….

As we all vote for local people whom we trust will do a good local job for us and deliver the local services and support we’ll all need in the future (and perhaps help us shape the type of planet and galaxy we want to live in)  –

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU ON MAY THE FOURTH !!

The Art of War….

Sun Tzu’s writing on the way a war and battles should be fought and campaigned are still used as example of how to do things logically to improve the likelihood of reaching a successful conclusion. suntzu

 

If you’re involved in planning for anything you’d normally think about what the best case and what the worst case could be. Then you’d expect a result that was somewhere in the middle. That’s just common sense. If you’re planning to hold a car boot sale you’d probably think about what would happen if it’s a nice day and what would happen if it’s raining.  It’s called scenario planning  in the buzzword-bingo business land.  And everyone does it.  Everyone. Always.  Then they do “What-Ifs”.  What if this happens?  What if that happens?  What if this+that happens?   So you plan.  The bigger the event the more you plan.  That’s really what Sun Tzu was teaching all these centuries ago.  The art of planning.


Unless you’re the multimillionaires in the UK Government. Then, you don’t plan. You don’t think about the best case or the worst case.  You just spout vapid empty slogans and soundbites. You don’t even think that establishing the baseline case for Brexit by actually planning the impact of “NoDeal” would be a good idea.  Good heavens. Why would you do that?  The only rational I can come up with for the calamitous failure by the UK Government is because no matter what they do, it has zero consequences for them personally.  And that’s not good news for the rest of us.

How about this for the UK Goverment – You plan because it is only when you know just how bad the worst case scenario is that you can even vaguely know if you’ve negotiated something better?  Sound like a good idea? It does to me.  But not to MayDavisFoxJohstone.

I don’t recall a UK Government ever being so utterly incompetent.  Margaret Thatcher was bad news for many but we all knew what she was doing.  Tony Blair was a wide boy on the make (and he started the rot of Government by Daily Mail headline) but we knew what he was doing.  This lot, particularly Theresa May, are clueless.

As Winston might have said……  “Never in field of human democracy, have so many been so screwed by so few”  



Until we can persuade parliament to allow us, the electorate and the people they are supposed to represent, to have the right to recall MPs whom we are not satisfied with, probably the only thing we can all do now is to write to our MPs telling them in no uncertain terms that the performance of the UK Goverment is not good enough.  Use http://www.writetothem.com  to get the email address of your MP.

Halt!! Who Goes There?

We’ve got elections coming up in about 5 weeks time.  These are for our Local Authority Councillors.  I’ve never been really sure that politics with a capital “P” should play a big part in these elections, but hey, it does. Especially this time.  No less a figure than the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has decreed that it should be so.  “Send a message to the SNP. Tell them in these local authority elections that you don’t want another Independence Referendum” she said.   Well then, who am I to argue with the Prime Minister?  Clearly the local council elections really are all about politics with a capital “P“.   So if that is the case then maybe we should all look very closely at the parties who are putting forward candidates seeking our votes.   I know, these elections really ought to be about the best people for the jobs, people who really do understand our local issues, people who can deal with the dogsh*t problems and the housing development issues.  But they’re not. The Prime Minister says so.  So they can’t be.  (Well, not this time anyway). So lets look at the parties.

This then gets us to something which isn’t mentioned or reported on the BBC News nor in any newspapers.  It’s an uncomfortable truth, for the media,  that Scotland only has a handful of political parties.  (Assuming you accept the definition of being a Scottish Political Party as being a political party registered with the Electoral Commision as being Scottish.) The table below is an extract from the electoral Commision’s list of registered parties.

parties

(You can click here  to find the full list if you like)

So what of the Scottish Labout Party?  The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party?  The Scottish Liberal-Democrat Party?   Well, according to the Electoral Commision  (and they are the only source of facts) these parties do not exist.

Although the Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Conservative and Unionist parties might stick Scottish before their name, they in fact do not exist by those names on the role of registered parties. How Scottish are they then?  Where do they get their money from?  Where do they get their instructions from? Who actually controls these “Scottish” parties if they’re not on the Electoral Commision’s register?  ( Johann Lamont once famously said the Scottish Labour Party was a branch-office.)

The questions I’ve posed are good and fair questions as these parties are asking us for our votes. It seems to me the “big three” parties are as Scottish as Yorkshire Pudding, the Blackpool Tower and the white cliffs of Dover.

So, when you come to choose where to put your 1 and 2 (and 3 and 4 if you wish) on your ballot paper on the 4th May in the Scottish Local Authority elections – just remember what country you are voting in, and which parties are as Scottish as David Beckham’s right foot…….. (and David Beckham’s left foot actually….)