Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I can't say I've been to Lockerbie recently, the small Scottish Borders town which is famous for its cheese. But it seems Professor Harvie has and if he says it's a dump then it probably is.
So let's not mince around with over-egged theatrics and waste time wringing our hands just because a plane fell on this village once. If it's a dump let's name it so and set about doing something about it.
Anything else is just a waste of time...
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I agree, somewhat, that his alleged crimes are not as heinous as some that have gone before but they arouse enough suspicion that questions deserve to be asked and, as much as MPs may not like it, answers deserve to be given.
Claiming £17,000 for a home with no mortgage is simply wrong.
Receving £8,000 a year just for using your home as an office is clearly excessive.
Your wife spending £4,000 on taxi rides looks very iffy indeed.
Using air-miles earned on the public purse for private trips is at best a little bit cheeky.
But the most depressing part of the grubby affair is the applause and cheering that Martin received when he entered Parliament.
How does this look from the outside? An MP is seemingly caught with his nose in the trough and the people who ask perfectly valid questions are accused of starting a witch-hunt!? Gordon Brown himself vigorously defends the man and then he gets a big cheer for no apparent reason.
And while they are all scratching each others backs our interest in UK Politics fades away just a little bit more. Very, very depressing stuff indeed...
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I've just stumbled across her "Ten Questions" that she answered for the Edinburgh Evening News. The answers are filled with delightful images of Edinburgh and fuzzy thoughts of Sunday mornings in Scotland's capital. There is even a perfectly optimistic and uplifting "full of opportunities" answer for the final question.
But in the mix a googly is thrown to the SNP which doesn't so much hit them for six as catch them square in the goolies. (I hope Alex wears a box!).
So well done indeed, almost subliminally tossing that one in there, having lifted the pin from the grenade beforehand of course.
But I couldn't possibly bestow the "Political strategist of the year" title on a Labour member given the torrid time the party is going through at the moment.
No, that title is reserved for........ (**drum roll**)
Yes, that's right, I've come up with a perfect political play. One that would clinch Obama the Democract candidacy, and probably even the presidency, right now today on Monday 18th of Feb. (Dammit, it's past midnight, I need to get some sleep soon).
Anyway, you're no doubt dying to know what this incredible plan is so I will wait no further only to say that like all great plans, it is delightfully simple.
Well, actually, the Schlieffen plan around First World War time was masterly and really quite complicated so I guess that simple thing doesn't hold true all the time. But then, it was those dastardly Germans that came up with it and they lost in the end so we can just gloss over that one.
No, my own plan involves Obama and all the Hispanics that are left to vote in these primary contests.
It seems the Hispanic demographic is the only one left that is firmly rooted on Hillary's side. The young, the celebrities, the trade unions, the workers and the elderly have seen sense, are buying into Obama's star quality and voting for the great man.
So, if only he could get those pesky Hispanics onside he'd have a landslide.
Well, it all comes down to slogans......
Until now, the main Obama slogans have been "Change we can believe in", "Movin on Up!" and "Yes we can".
But really, none of these fit so well with the Spanish way of speaking. Trust me, I'm 3 weeks into a Beginners2 class here in Bruntsfield so I know una cosa o dos...
No, if Obama was to subtly bring in the slogan "Back Barack" he'd have this election sewn up in days. Those harsh "ck" sounds are what those crazy Hispanics live for, hombre! Imagine, in dusty Spanish tavernas, in between shots of tequilla, glasses raised in passionate voice "Back Barack!". From bandit-ridden mountain tops, hails of gunfire interspersed only with "Back Barack!!". They could re-run the Californian primary and Obama would saunter to victory, even squeezing in a siesta and a glass of sangria along the way. All to the delightful backing vocals of "Back Barack!!!"
Yes, Hillary would be as beaten as the Pinata lying prone and lifeless after the end of little Maria and Carlos' joint 7th birthday party.
But like most things in life, there is one slight downside. The chant "Back Barack" draws to mind another great American hero.
Yes, one too many slips of the Tequilla-sodden tongue and the US could wake up to Burt Bacharach being the new leader of the free world!
Monday, February 18, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
I lazily cut and paste an email into the blog just accepting is as hard-fact. In my defence, that's about as much research as a Scotsman journalist does these days!
29 have been accused of spouse abuse
7 have been arrested for fraud
19 have been accused of writing bad cheques
117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
3 have done time for assault
71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
4 have been arrested on drug-related charges
8 have been arrested for shoplifting
21 are currently defendants in lawsuits
84 have been arrested for drink driving in the last year
Which organization is this?
It's the 635 members of the House of Commons, the same group that cranks out hundreds of new laws each year designed to keep the rest of us in line.
"As a British citizen, I cherish our ancient traditions... Our commitment to freedom, to human rights, to equality before the law, and to chasing after the Yanks like the fucking Keystone Kops, waving our little truncheons and blowing our little whistles."
Congratulations also to Celtic for becoming the only team in the top 20 richest clubs in the world that is not from Spain, Italy, England or Germany
It's just a shame they have seemingly lost their star player, the frighteningly talented Aiden McGeady, to FC Utrecht!!
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Today: A woman is sentenced to 6 years for stabbing a 17 year old Asian she thought, inexplicably, was a terrorist.
And, to quote the BBC: "McKay, who had taken cocaine, later claimed she had gone to stab her mother, but had missed the bus and stabbed Mr Husan instead."
So yes, it would be nice to have less female prisoners but how do you deal with this awful character above? Are there any government initiatives that can reverse the hate and anger behind those eyes?
Mr MacAskill has a very tough job on his hands...
This is less of a shot across Hillary's bows and more of a slap across her chops. These states were reasonably up for grabs for both candidates and it appears that Obama is winning the battles as well as, ultimately, the War.
Obama versus McCain/Huckabee?
Now where did we hear that before....
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
No, really, I know every party has one but still, what exactly does Christine Grahame think she is doing trying to reclaim parts of England?
Alex Neil is a bit of a loose cannon but at least he doesn't leave you too embarrassed and even borders on sensible dialogue. Occasionally.
Ms Grahame however, my God. She's the political equivalent of your mad auntie who pulls some truly shocking eye-catching moves on the dancefloor and you can only look on, dumbstruck, praying she won't catch your eye and get you involved in whatever madness she has up her sleeves next.
Berwick upon Tweed is still recovering from its arduous, century-long war with Russia but that mad SNP lady now wants to use it in her crazy independence quest. I picture her hatching all these batty plans (perhaps over a hot cauldron) in a desperate bid to curry favour with Saviour Salmond and squeeze her bottom onto a cabinet seat.
Her mad plans for winning her Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale seat and/or driving a wedge between UK and Scotland have included a nonsensical roadblock of the Tory campaign bus during the elections, evicting the Army from Edinburgh Castle and calling an English theatre company racist.
Add to the above that Grahame (who is English by the way) is in the dubious position of having her brother employed as a 'researcher' and also the fact that she couldn't convert 2003's piddly 400 vote margin held by the Lib Dems into a winning seat for the SNP, and, well, I think it's about time the SNP did a careful bit of reselecting before the next election comes around.
For any SNP-fan, it's been the perfect tonic for a cold start to the year.
But now, with the budget passed and the sun outside blaring away, it is time to draw a line in the sand and kick on with getting things done.
The SNP are free to put their mouth where their money is with the budget out the way, Labour are free to come up with sensible opposition politics now they have the Electoral Commission off their backs, the Tories are free to continue their occasional bed-hopping with the Nationalists and the Lib Dems, well, they're free to play Tiddlywinks or whatever as I'm not too sure what they're up to these days.
But best of all, journalists are now free to write real stories (which is a rarity these days) so everything is set up for some real Politics to occur and be reported on for a change.
Just a shame those lazy beggars at the Parliament have taken the week off!
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
As expected, a high-scoring draw with Hillary getting 462 delegates to Obama's 422.
Biggest winner of the night therefore is Mike Huckabee who has surely scooped the Vice President nomination with his unexpected 5 primary wins.
Well, not much going on and I'm off to Paris tomorrow so Super Duper Tuesday will have to wait until Wednesday I think....
Yep, it's becoming increasingly clear that John McCain is going to be the Republican nominee. He is predicted to win a whole raft of states given the exit polls with Mitt expected to win Massachusettes. His home state. The Beatles used to say you can't buy me love. It seems the presidency isn't always up for grabs for the highest bidder either.
So given this race is all but run, I won't waste valuable Budweiser drinking time talking about those crazy Republicans from here on in.
Well, McCain has taken Illinois which is no doubt going to be one of many for everyone's favourite defender of water-boarding.
Obama has taken Illinois which is about as surprising as Cliff Richard saying he'd rather just hug tonight if it's all the same to you...
And Oklahoma looks like it's going to go Hillary's way. Given that back in January she was leading Edwards (remember him?) there with Obama a distant 3rd, this comes as no great surprise. So, again, so far everything is going as expected.
Note though that there seems to be a remarkable split in North vs South, Clinton vs Obama. Maybe that American Civil War isn't over just yet.....!
Further to my 00:53 posting, if you haven't read the Best of British guestblogging entry at Mr Eugenides then I actually feel sorry for you as it really is quite painfully amusing.
I just checked my reader stats and they've gone through the roof. A quick "recent came from" map search later and I know why. There's a lot of people up and about in the US searching for political blogs...
Look smart fellow Brit bloggers, we've got guests.
Per the BBC:
One undecided Democratic voter put the names of Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton in a hat and voted for the one that came out.
With logic like that, I'm beginning to see how George W Bush got re-elected. Why not just stay at home and not vote if you can't make your mind up!?
BBC News is reporting that female turnout is around the 60% mark. Surely a shot in the arm for Hillary Clinton. Who is a woman.
Her main challenger is Barack Obama. Who is a man.
Well, we're off on Super Duper Tuesday and given that Mike Huckabee is perfectly placed to scupper any last vestige of hope that Mitt Romney had, all eyes are on the Democratic race.
And with Obama due to take Georgia, it looks like he has taken the first decisive move.
However, given that he was ahead of Clinton in the polls on 25th Jan, this result should be no great shock. If his lead has extended significantly from this poll then we could be on to something.
But so far, it's all panning out as expected so far which means we are still on track for a high-scoring draw once the Democratic dust settles....
I am, fittingly perhaps, drinking a Bud and eating a pastrami sandwich here as news rolls in...
A member of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party is due to stand against the African leader.
Of course, any opposition to the truly descipable Robert Mugabe should be welcomed but Simba Makoni's decision now means that there are 3 separate candidates standing against the crazed despot.
I would hope Makoni's decision is honourable but he may well be the fall guy as Mugabe chooses to cling to power by stuffing the field with bickering candidates all jostling to be the saviour of the economically depressed country.
Meanwhile of course, election observers will be thrown across the borders, Zanu-PF henchmen will be stuffing ballot boxes and Zimbabwe's misery will deepen for four more years.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
It is with great pleasure that I announce my own first birthday!
Incredible stuff really. Re-reading my "Mission Statement" entry I am glad, nay proud, to see that I proved myself wrong. The delights of blogging would be a long term thing rather than a way to see out a lazy Friday afternoon. With 308 posts in a year, I'd say that's not a shabby run rate for one so politically naive (not to mention somewhat lazy).
And if a week in Politics is a long time, then a year in blogging can be an eternity. Since last Feb 5th I've set foot on 4 separate continents, taken on 4 different jobs (and starting with a world-reknowned bank this Monday), lived in 4 different flats, dumped someone and, later on, been dumped myself.
And politically, what a year to get involved in this cutting analysis of Scottish law-making. Or cheap banter and point-scoring as was more often the case for me.
The mighty (well, Jack and Wendy) have fallen or are falling. Alex and Nicola have led the meteoric rise of the SNP. The Lib Dems have all but disintegrated and Annabel Goldie has steadied a rather attractive looking Scottish Tory ship. Add to the mix that never before has Scottish independence seemed so tantalisingly and perhaps worryingly close and you have a recipe for political intrigue.
And what better example of said intrigue than the unprecedented level of attention the budget is receiving. A change of party at the top and minority administration has awoken the sleepiest from the deepest of slumbers. Iain McWhirter and Brian Taylor have never tapped their keyboards with so much fervour. Heck, even the Greens and Margo have an opinion worth listening to.
So it's been a lovely day. And a birthday gift for me of Super Tuesday results to follow late into the night? Perfect. I've always said that elections are the 'greatest spectator sport in the world' and I expect to be proved correct tonight.
Help yourself to cake....
PS A 'feliz navidad' to Mr Cameron Rose who also celebrates his first blogging birthday today.
Take this gem:
Nephew: Mum, mum, can I play with 'J' on the Wii?
Mum: Yes, but make sure you play nice with your brother.
Nephew: (*pause*) No, I'm going to beat him like a pinata. (*runs off*)
You can't really give a 7 year old into trouble with solid gold chat like that.
And one can't help but think that someone has a similar plan for Wendy Alexander at the moment as Tuesday brings yet more headlines that continue the onslaught against the embattled Labour leader.
Awaiting results from the Electoral Commission that will no doubt lead to a criminal investigation, being reported to the Procurator Fiscal for undisclosed gifts, a third press adviser leaves her team in 5 short months and some Labour colleagues are already positioning themselves to take her place.
I don't think it'll be too long now before this stubborn pint-sized pinata bursts....
Monday, February 4, 2008
They took our bagpipes, our ceilidhs and our kilts off us back in the 18th century. And they're taking our money from us now.
From an SNP-supporting viewpoint, the frustrating part of this plan by the Treasury (or should that be 'this ruse by Gordon Brown') is that it makes total and utter sense both logically and politically from a Labour standpoint. Yes the subtext to this whole charade is that it is basically fighting the SNP at their own game but it's also a reasonable, genuine solution to a minor Scottish issue.
Remember there was a mini-palava in the press about Scottish money not being of the same value as English money? (A palava, incidentally, that I like to think I started after a Sunday Mail reporter got in touch me regarding this posting)
Well, I'm sure Nationalists would have hoped that that issue regarding Scottish notes being inferior in value to English notes would result in Scots wanting a better showing on a global stage given we are currently getting short changed, and perhaps indpendence would be the best way to go about achieving that. The response from the Treasury? Dump Scottish bank notes and just use English pounds. So we Scots now get the higher exchange rate wherever we go. What's the problem Alastair Darling can reasonably ask with one thick eyebrow deviously raised.
As for the fire fighting fire? Well, it seems to be going something a bit like this:
SNP: You want to cut deals with Lockerbie prisoners without telling us? We're going to rain on your parade.
Labour: You want to lay a claim on Scottish Nationalism and stir up anti-unionist feeling?. We'll stick a Scot on an English bank note.
SNP: You want to see how we can undermine your socialist principles? We'll return university education to being a right and not a privilege.
Labour: You want the Isle of Lewis Chessmen? Ok, we'll take the RBS and Clydesdale bank notes off you.
Yes, it may all start to get a bit silly but as Kezia Dugdale is keen to remind us, that's politics.
PS Incidentally, I did download Kanye West's excellent, excellent Gold-Digga track but I can only apologise to the man for absent-mindedly singing it out in public on occasion in the past few days.
I am in no doubt that lines such as "his baby momma's car crib is bigger than his" and "she ain't messin' with no broke niggas" lose a certain something when sung by a posh Scottish white boy.