“No-Deal” = Ideological Insanity

I spent nearly a decade as a  Director of Scotland’s leading Business Continuity Consultancy. We were working with clients from BAE, to Shell, to numerous Local Authorities, to small firms who made garden sheds, to Water Utilities, to the NHS – trusts and central, to Housing Associations, businesses across the UK and Europe. 2005 onwards was a great period to be doing this work as the Civil Contingencies Act had recently been enacted. I’m writing this as I can see *no way* at all that businesses and organisations in the UK can possibly prepare for a No-Deal Brexit. It’s just too big, too nebulous, and most importantly too permanent. Guiding an organisation to plan for disruption *always* assumes that the disruption is temporary. It may last days or even weeks but it is not a permanent change, unlike that being proposed by the UK Government under the guise of “No-Deal”.  If “No-Deal” happens it is an immediate and complete structural change to 40+ years of working.  Almost ever aspect of the way a business operates will require to be changed, quite literally  overnight.   All this is to be done while there is no knowledge whatsoever about the macro environment  the business/organisation operates in.   We ran many,  many, scenario planning exercises for our clients. We had sectors of  their workforce incapacitated by Avian Flu,  we had extended power cuts, we had armed terrorist activity and we helped clients plan how  to manage all of these disruptions. 

Here’s a few of the high level questions which are needed to plan for any  “No Deal” scenario.  Will ‘planes be able to fly?   Will imports and exports be slowed down?   What medicines will be available?   If trucks/haulage is snarled up (as seems probable)  how many extra trucks/vehicles are there to move goods (food?) around the UK?  Are there sufficient drivers?  How will fuel supplies be affected?   How long will this last?  (clue: It’s a sudden, violent and total structural change to the UK economy, so for planning purposes it’s not a disruption, it’s permanent).  How long will a stockpile last?   What’s the security risk for my business/organisation if we’re holding/stockpiling some commodity which suddenly becomes highly valuable  (food, medicine).  Will power (National Grid) still operate fully?  What risk is posed to nuclear generation?  What’s the plan for a run on a bank if the £ Sterling collapses?   Everything in this paragraph is high level, go down any of the branches in it and there’s a myriad of  sub-branches which each need careful consideration and planning. 

The only precedent type  of cross-sector all encompassing event which might be even vaguely comparable  in term of the effort and planning which was put in to mitigating it is the Y2K software events.   Y2K however had millions of  man-hours of activity spent across the globe,  years in advance, to mitigate it.  “No Deal” has few global support mechanisms.

I’m glad I’ve retired because despite having worked with the main boards of directors of many businesses and organisation I just haven’t got a clue how *anyone* could establish a decent operating plan for “No  Deal”.   It’s just not possible.   

“No-Deal” is ideological insanity.  I’ll happily talk this through with any Politician who believes it is possible for a business/organisation to a) Prepare for it and b) Survive it. 

Is this how it’s going to end?

Last week, for the first time in history, the Tory UK  Government was found to be in contempt of Parliament.  Yet there’s been no sanction.  Oh sure, you can talk about the disgrace and the dishonour – but – so what?  What  if the Tory UK government doesn’t care about grace and honour?   The  available evidence suggest this is quite possible.  Time after time the Tory UK Government makes a promise or a statement only to U-turn or dissemble about the promise they made.  Check out the recent statements from David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland.  He’s said (along with Ruth Davidson, who must be oh so glad she’s on maternity leave) that he’d resign if N.Ireland was treated differently from the UK.  It seems it will be and they’re not resigning.

When you see Theresa May at the dispatch box in Westminster, well just watch her carefully.  She starts by being nervous but by the time she’s been there for an hour or so she’s far more confident. Sure she’s regurgitating cliches and lies. But she doesn’t care.  Eyes on the prize.  30-3-19 and she’s got Henry VIII and Civil Contingencies Act powers. That’s the prize, and damn the consequences.   Her Government was found in Contempt of Parliament last week and nothing changed.  Nothing happened to the Government. If you do something illegal or immoral and  there’s no consequences for you – well you’ll do it again. And again.  So why should we expect the Tories to change their behaviour now?   Everything else is smoke and mirrors.   The Irish Backstop, the fall in value of the pound, irrelevant when you’re playing a long game for the ultimate prize.

Today, Monday 10th Dec, she withdrew from holding a vote on her Withdrawal Agreement.  So what?  Delay. Obfuscate. Prevaricate. Procrastinate.  Eyes on the prize.   She simply needs to keep kicking that can down the road for another few working days.  Spend some time on pointless visits to the EU countries.  Remember, Parliament goes on holiday on the 20th December through to the 7th January. That’s at the end of next week.  Spend  this week ‘negotiating’ and there’s only one working week. before the holidays.  Crisis?  What crisis?  The Tory Government doesn’t seem to see one.   Nor does the Labour Party. Corbyn is AWOL, right at the time that the very foundations of democracy in the UK are being  shredded by a Tory Government who, it seems to me, know exactly what they’re doing.

The EU is not going to change anything about the Withdrawal Agreement – I’d bet my house on that.  So what’s Theresa May doing? Delay, obfuscate, procrastinate.  Eyes on the  prize.  Suddenly it’s January and a mere 11 weeks from Brexit.  Lie, cheat, prevaricate, procrastinate – will  still be going on.  And then we’ve run out of time and the  UK is out of the EU in the most catastrophic of ways.

If the Tories are no longer afraid of being in Contempt of Parliament – and Parliament has no sanction or  control over them, where on earth is this going to end? Right now, after last week and today’s events the catastrophe of ‘hard Brexit’ must be looking ever more likely.

Oh we can all rage and rant on twitter and facebook, and in blogs like this. But it’s bows and  arrows against the lightning (to mix metaphors).  The Tories are probably quite content that Brexit is still going to happen.  Newspapers can print what  they want.  The SNP can rage and call  her names.  Tick Tock.  Eyes on the prize.   I can’t see any way of stopping them.

Thoughts on BBC News

Here’s some not entirely worked through ideas about broadcast, radio and TV news.  In the past month the BBC News operation has become the story in Scotland because it issued ‘Take Down’ requests to YouTube over the use of what it claims are it’s clips on channels run by two pro-indy blog/news sites. This got me thinking a bit about copyright and ‘news’ reports.  And how we find ‘news’ and stories from the past.

Newspapers have been filed in major libraries for decades and decades.  It  used to be that you could go to a major library and search micro-fiche copies of practically every newspaper ever printed to find the stories you were looking for.  And there you had the ability to read a story as it was being reported,  over a period of time, by various journalists and newspapers.   So the  ideas of how  copyright should operate for printed newspapers has been well developed over decades and  decades.  And now  we have a scandal involving the BBC’s broadcast news.   Why is this?  We have only relatively recently developed a capability for broadcast, as opposed to published, news to be recorded and stored.  Previously anything broadcast, radio or TV, was ephemeral. So a news report was gone as soon as the broadcast was over. The only possible copy of that broadcast was with the broadcaster.  So if I wanted to find out what the BBC was broadcasting on the day I was born the only place I could perhaps  find out would be from the BBC.   But now we have technology available  for all of us, in our mobile phones and laptops, which lets any  one of us easily record whatever broadcast we want.  Then, thanks to blogs and YouTube, we can publish the recorded news.  The BBC’s broadcast News operation is having to face a problem which printed news operations solved years ago.   Copyright is claimed to be a problem for the BBC news operation, yet it’s obviously solved for print media.  The ease with which audio and  even video can be edited is something to be considered though.  But, for me,  broadcast news should have no more copyright than printed news.  I can search for archives of newspapers, I should be able to search archives of broadcast news just as easily.  So either the broadcaster has to provide this facility or I should be freely permitted to to do it myself using either my own tools or common freely available tools.  i.e. I can record news broadcasts and keep them for as long as I like or I can search somewhere like YouTube.

Pat Kane (@thoughtland on Twitter) has written an interesting article about the ‘Digital Public Space’ .  I like the idea.  It would solve many of the issues I’m thinking of.  You can read Pat’s article here – http://www.thenational.scot/comment/columnists/16397985.this-is-what-an-independent-scotland-can-learn-from-the-wingsbbc-copyright-row/


BBC Radio Scotland John Beattie show, Scott Arthur interview

Just for the record, in case you missed it, here’s a recording of the interview with Councillor Scott Arthur by John Beattie on his BBC Radio Scotland show from today – 3rd Aug ‘18. 
No edits, it’s the full 15 minute interview.    Am I now in breach of BBC copyright? 


A Spaceport for Sutherland

The news in the last day or so has ben full of the announcement of the Spaceport is going to be build in Sutherland.   So I  thought I’d provide a little background and context for anyone who might not be so sure of where Sutherland is.  You see, despite it’s name, its actually the very top part of the United Kingdom’s  land mass.   John O’Groats is in Sutherland.  Sutherland distance

I’m typing this just outside Perth and I thought I’d see how long Google Maps reckons it would take me to get to Wick – which isn’t at the top of Sutherland.

It tells me it’s a distance of 213 miles and that it will take me some 4 and half hours to drive there.  For context, Manchester is 264 miles from Perth.  Or I could take a train, for mere 5 hour 49 minutes  (That’s got to be wrong.  Surely??)  Maybe not, train services north of the Glasgow-Edinburgh central belt in Scotland are not that great really.  I’m not sure that Wick has a station.  Bus?  Aye. Right.  So Scotland’s quite big really…

So I’ll get in my car and drive up to Wick.  Just get on the motorway and zoom along. Well err, no.  Not exactly.  There are no motorway class roads north of Perth – well not on that route.  So It’ll be the A9 then, a fabulous dual carriageway.  Again, not exactly no.  Many sections of the A9 are still single carriageway.  So getting to Sutherland is not as easy as say getting from London to Manchester, which at 208 miles is a comparable distance.   And this is where the grand Spaceport for the UK is to be built.  The centre for Space tourism for the UK is along a load of single carriageway roads

So the first thing the Spaceport in Sutherland’s going to need is a spaceport to get you there!  Pardon me for thinking this is not  really likely to happen….

Take Me To Your Leader…..


If an alien landed here next year and said “Take me to your leader”

who would you take it to? (a short blog with more questions than answers)

With all the problems piling up in the (dis)United Kingdom as it hurtles towards leaving the EU this is a problem which doesn’t seem to be being talked about much. Where’s the leader? Theresa May holds the position of Prime Minister but has never shown any leadership qualities. Even last week, when taking a decision which has the potential to spark World War 3, she was running away from scrutiny and failing to show leadership. Jeremy Corbyn seems to have to wait until the public lead him to the positions he should take. Vince Cable is liable to be the beneficiary of the “Anyone but Labour&Tory Leavers” campaign in the forthcoming by-elections in England. But he’s not a leader either.

The UK is now less than one year away from leaving the EU and the need for leadership has never been more pressing. And, if you think forward one year, then the question about “who will be the leader?” becomes more worrying. The UK as a minority Tory Government kept in place only by a deal done with the DUP of N.Ireland. (The DUP have their own problems with “Cash for Ash” still dogging them). So logically the ‘Leader’ ought to be someone from the Tory Party. But who? Theresa May got the job when David Cameron cowardly ran away from the consequences of his actions. She was the least offensive/divisive candidate to the Tory Party – when no-one else wanted to take the poisoned chalice from Cameron. Since then we’ve had Boris Johnson strutting around making troublesome pronouncement after troublesome pronouncement. Jacob Rees-Mogg is in the frame. Really? Only a right wing Tory could ever think of him as a leader. A year from now the UK is likely to need someone who can truly unite the country as it finds its place outside the EU. Again, logically that will be someone from the Tory party. But who would you take the Alien to? Who is there that will have the trust of the people in the UK and just as importantly the trust of the rest of the world whom we are seeking trading relationships with? Who do we think the German Government, French Government, EU officials will trust? I can’t see anyone in the Tory party who can do this.

Labour might be different – but they are not in Government and there’s no current possibility of them being so.

But Scotland and Wales are different. In both countries there is leadership being shown. Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones have formed an unlikely alliance to protect the devolution arrangements for their countries. That looks like leadership. As I write this, the UK Government is reported to be going to take both the Scottish and Welsh Governments to court. Astonishing. If the Supreme Court (which was created by Tony Blair!) judges that the Scottish and Welsh Governments are acting within their legal powers then the Tory Party’s whole approach to Brexit is likely to be holed beneath the waterline – in terms of the future trade deals they hope to arrange. If the court rules in favour of the UK Government then the devolution arrangements are destroyed. Such a result might be the trigger the SNP has been waiting for to start up “Indyref2” in Scotland. I’m not sure where this will leave Wales.
So, to answer the question “Take Me To Your Leader” – I’d take the alien to Bute House in Edinburgh to meet Nicola Sturgeon.

Deal or No Deal?


That’s the question Noel Edmonds used to ask on his TV Gameshow.  Right now, it feels like the UK is on a gameshow just like that one. 

What kind of Deal is Theresa May pursuing?  One that is ‘frictionless’?  One that is ‘deep and special’?  One that ‘secured the place of Global Britain”?   It also depends who you ask.   is Theresa’s ‘Deal’ the same as Boris’s ‘Deal’, nd what ‘Deal’ is Jacob wanting?   Have any of them paused to think that to get a ‘Deal’, any ‘Deal’,  needs the other side/party to agree to it?    What kind of ‘Deal’ does the EU want?   Do you think they might have a view on the ‘Deal’ the UK will end up with?  



Sadly, whatever I type today will probably be wrong by tomorrow.  The changes and utter chaos which is surrounding the UK Government is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.    The Scottish Government has been consistent in it’s demands that Scotland needs to stay within the Customs Union  (at a minimum). The SG produced an analysis of the impact of multiple types of Brexit on the Scottish economy.   Predictably this was rubbished as scare-mongering by the Tories in Scotland and just ignored by the Tories in Westminster, including the Prime Minister.  But wait, then the UK Government Treasury analysis, which they had said didn’t exist, was leaked to the public.  And guess what?  It confirms pretty much exactly what the Scottish Government has been saying all along.   The impact of Brexit, of any type of ‘Deal’, will range from very bad to catastrophic for Scotland.  And it’s the same for many other parts of the UK too. Only the city of London looks like it may escape relatively unharmed.   (This puzzles me, because if the whole of the rest of the UK is contracting at the rates shown, 10%  to 16% reductions in regional economies, then it’s sure as hell going to hurt London too.)  


brexit impactAdjacent is a picture I copied from Paul Mason’s twitter feed.  It shows the HM Treasury regional impact analysis Brexit is forecast to have.  Paul Mason rightly points out that a logical explanation for the causes of the downturn in the different regions is easy to see. What could wipe 15% of the North East of England?  Easy – Nissan.     What could wipe out the NW – equally easy – BAE and in N.Ireland – Bombardier.  In the Midlands – it’s Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota.     What have all of these got in common?  They make stuff.  they rely on just-in-time deliveries as part of a pan-EU supply chain.  Brexit, of whatever ‘Deal’, will break those JIT supply chains.   Whereas the UK was a springboard to Europe post-Brexit it will not be so.  And this is before we get serious about understanding what trading under WTO rules actually means. 

To me, it looks like the Tories are returning to finish the job Thatcher started.  That is to finally destroy major manufacturing industry in the UK.  It just doesn’t look like they “get” the importance to a balanced economy of having a strong manufacturing sector.  I mean, I’m sure Germany would get along fine without Siemens, Bosch, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, BASF, Bayer, Continental, etc etc. 

What’s galling is that I wrote some stuff about this back in July last year and we really don’t seem to have moved on very far at all since then.  (Out, out damned Brexit) 



I started this post in the land of a TV Gameshow,  I think it’s more like we’re in a land of a hit musical number ……  I wonder if Lord Lloyd Webber had our current mind-bending circumstances in mind when he wrote it…….   me, I think it’s more of a nightmare than a dream….

What can a movie teach us about why we are where we are? The Riot Club & Brexit

riot club

This is a movie I watched on TV a few nights ago.   I didn;t really plan to watch it, it was kind of on in the corner of the room. yet I found myself drawn into it, if only because it as showing something I just didn’t know existed.   It’s about a very private male drinking and hedonistic club at Oxford University.  It’s a film.  It’s fiction.  Here’s a link to it on IMDB.    

Now, there’s no clubs like The Riot Club at Oxford University are there?  Anyone who says it’s like the The Bullingdon Club is mistaken aren’t they?  Well I can’t say. I didn’t go to Oxford.   So who really knows if it’s fact or fiction?  

The Riot Club is about an exclusive club of 10 young men who have no trace of morality.  They believe money can solve everything and that is all that matters.  The clubs purpose is to eat, drink, take drugs and trash (totally) whatever restaurant has been daft enough to let them in. 

The scenes of the club members initiation rites are probably no better and no worse than many young male clubs.  But what stuck in my mind was the complete lack of morality shown by almost all the members of the club.   I’m not going to spoil it by describing scenes but there are many where the principle characters are almost unbelievable.  And yet……. this is the bit that’s got me writing this blog post.  While The Riot Club is fiction, The Bullingdon Club is fact.   And where do fact and fiction cross-over?  There’s a scene where a senior ex-member of the Riot Club, now a successful Conservative MP, is offering to guarantee the future of a young member of the Riot Club in return for that member taking the rap for something very bad which the club did.  “I’m not offering you a constituency, just a future” he says to the young man.   “The club goes on you know” .   And that’s the bit that struck home to me.  Whether the actual actions which occur in this movie are fact or fiction doesn’t matter.  It’s that the club will go on.  Every year the club is producing more ex-members.  As another line in the movie says “One day soon, these men will sit behind very powerful desks in the city. ” 

When you couple these lines form the movie with the Riot Club’s seeming integration with the Conservative Party you start to get a picture of why the UK is being driven over the cliffs to Brexitland.  Members of the Riot Club have no moral compass. They have no experience of life. They have been raised in an environment which is completely sealed off and remote from anything we know as reality.   Yet they are “the chosen ones” who are pre-destined to go on and sit behind those powerful desks.  And that’s the bit which stuck with me.   Fact or fiction?

In summary, I recommend this movie to anyone and everyone who wants to understand how we got to a situation where David Cameron, Gideon Osborne, Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (and others) are given positions of leadership when the truth is that they happened by an accident of birth to have been sent to the right drinking club.  

Reforming the ‘List”

There’s a feeling that the way the ‘Additional Member’ system as it is currently used to elect MSPs to Holyrood is no longer operating in the interests of the citizens who vote.  It’s being abused by the Political Parties as a route for their loyal members to be rewarded with a position as an MSP.  This is surely not how it was intended to be used.   So here’s some ideas for discussion.  I’ve posted this as blog because it seems to be cropping up on several Facebook groups. Blogging it makes it far easier for me to find what I’ve previously written on FB.

I think a change is very badly needed. The list system is being played by the politicians to their personal advantage, not to the benefit of the people who vote. While Murdo Fraser is the most obvious example, there are others who do the exact same. Richard Leonard and Anas Sarwar being examples of how the Labour party is abusing the List system. Labour’s leaders were elected on the List, technically no-one voted for them.   (And there are others too)

Points have ben raised on Facebook and social media about any of the changes proposed below meaning that the political parties would require a far wider pool of candidates than they currently seem to have.  In short, where would all the new MSPs come from if the ‘regulars’ were now to be barred from appearing time after time.   I don’t see this as a problem, I see this as a way of refreshing and getting much needed new blood and talent into Holyrood.   There’s also a problem to be thought through about how could the ‘List’ be used to support smaller or even independent  (with a small “i”) candidates.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could have people with real experience and subject-matter-expertise in our Parliament?  Maybe have someone like Harry Burns as a medical expert serve a term.  Maybe have some candidates who have real experience in the electricity/energy sectors to serve and guide Holyrood on such areas?   idealist I know, but if we are serious about reforming the ‘List’ system then why not think big blue sky thoughts? 

While it seems simple to suggest that there should be a two term limit on the number of times a candidate can appear on the list, there are other conditions we ought to consider too:

1) No candidate may serve as a ‘list’ MSP for more than two successive Parliamentary terms.

2) There shall be a gap of one Parliamentary term between any candidate being able to serve as a ‘List’ MSP.   (to break the cycle of repeat/career List MSPs)

3) In the event of a ‘List’ MSP standing down during a Parliamentary term, or any reason,  there shall be a by-election to replace them. Parties shall not simply appoint their next member. (To break the cycle of ‘List’ MSPs then standing in other elections, e.g. Westminster, and the party simply making it their next members seat automatically)

4) No candidate shall be able to stand as a ‘List’ MSP if they are also contesting a constituency seat. (To prevent the ‘List’ being used as a safety net for candidates who fail to win election in a constituency)

5) An MSP elected on the ‘List’ should not be able to hold the position of First Minister.

6) An elected ‘List’ MSP will not be allowed to be considered to stand as a candidate in any other elections while they are service in Holyrood. (To prevent a ‘List’ MSP from seking election and having the safety net of their ‘List’ seat if they fail to win whatever other election they are seeking to stand in)

There are probably more conditions we ought to be thinking of, but these are a start. There have been petitions on Holyrood to reform the List System in the past. They never reached the numbers needed too have this actioned in Holyrood though. Maybe it’s time to raise another petition and all get very solidly behind it?

We can make this change. We can force Holyrood to at least discuss it – but we all have to get organised to share this and to get a petition we’re all happy with

Please feel free to share this, to cut’n’paste it, to discuss it and post it wherever you like.  It’s time we got some democratic ooomph back into our ‘List’ MSPs.

A lot of good writing.

In the past week or so there’s been a few articles which have caused me to stop and read them more deeply than just giving them the passing glance.  So I thought I’d share them here.  Predictably they are all blogs and online articles.  The Main Stream Media just doesn’t cover these stories.  There’s plenty of reading for you in these linked articles. 

First is this one.  And it broke my heart when I read it because I’ve met the lady at the centre of this story.  Her artwork decorated the 2014 Indy Ref Campaign.  I knew she had problems but had no idea they’d take her to the very edge. So please read on and then you’ll understand this hashtag –  #UnicornsForBrave.    Where’s the coverage of this story in the MSM?   Where’s the outrage?





Second, and a logical follow on is this one :   How To Catch an Abusive Online Troll





Third – an excellent piece from Grousebeater – all about democracy Bell Pottinger style…….






and Fourth, but by no means least  Craig Murray’s piece on the Appalling Pottingers





So. enjoy the links folks!