Sunday, 29 April 2012

Scottish Labour - The Dirtiest Players in Town

"I Wish Salmond's Father Would Die!"

I met an old friend when out this morning, a die-hard Labour man I've known all my life, though a great friend despite that, and we always have a general catch up and a good natured political debate when we meet, though we always have a parting of the ways amicably agreeing to differ regarding our respective voting allegiances. He was shocked today though, when I informed him about this. He will never vote for the SNP, but he did say he would not be voting Labour this time, so Scottish Labour have again shot themselves in the foot, for I'm sure quite a few of their up-to-now, but diminishing, loyal supporters will either vote for another party, or not vote at all, when they read about these types of vitriolic attacks.

The quote above is only the latest in a long line of poisonous bile aimed generally at the SNP, but what makes this one so much more despicable is the fact that it is not an attack on a politician of a competing political party, even supposing that would confer it a smidgeon of justification, it is an attack on a 90 year pensioner who happens to be the father of Alex Salmond, the leader of the SNP and the democratically elected First Minister of the Scottish Government.

"The sick jibe was made by "Daniel Kelly", a member of the "Scottish Labour for Scotland" group on the social networking website, Facebook.
In a comment taken to refer to the death of the First Minister's elderly aunt, Kelly wrote: "Don't you wish his dear old dad did the same." (source)

Now, especially during the campaigning for a fast approaching election, as in the local elections this week, it is accepted that politicians and die-hards of each side will take the occasional verbal or written pot-shot at one another. Sometimes this is justified, usually not, but the voters will generally accept the prosaic bruising of an opponents position or moral standing (or not), as part of the process of heated debate, and if it gets a tad too hot at times, well, they are politicians, they should expect it and be used to it by now.

Ah, but, wait a minute here. This particular attack is being laid into a 90 year old, whom, apart from perhaps, voting for his laddie, has no political ambitions, so why are the attack dogs targeting him?

Yet another despicable lack of moral fibre and taste, came this time, directed towards female cancer patients, from Scottish Labour NLC candidate Alan Clinch, tweeting away a vile attempt at mixing breast cancer and crude sexual humour, and failing miserably in all but driving the Scottish Labour measure of bad taste even lower down the gutter than it ever was. Read more here.

Depending on the type of psychology degree you have, and if you wanted to waste a bit of time surmising this and that attitude, and analysing the finer points of someone or other's state of mind, you may come up with a range of answers, where there may lie a well-hidden reason, where perhaps such attacks and insults may be justifiable under certain shades of a blue moon in alternate leap years.

I am not a psychologist, and don't bother with that type of blethering to explain or justify the rantings of morons. There is no justification for it. Ever.

It is also not surprising at the sound of deafening silence of condemnation of such remarks coming from the Scottish Labour camp either at the moment. It was not so long ago that Margaret Curran MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, stated in Holyrood Magazine:

“I think if Alex Salmond went under a bus tomorrow – not that I would ask who drove that bus..." (source)

Ok, perhaps not as slimy with vitriol, or in the nastiest realms of bad taste, and, I suppose, as it is one politician attacking another, then it can be taken with a pinch of salt, though no doubt there is a high level of bitterness and acrimony behind it.

It is the new way Scottish Labour seems to be conducting itself, and for whatever reason why, and it can't be to attract voters, for the drip drip drip of slow poison has turned into a torrent of venom, and they cannot be under any illusion that a campaign such as this does nothing but turn willing voters elsewhere. Perhaps they have given up, for any pretence they have had recently of bringing out anything new, in the way of policy, has been severely lacking - we have repeats of the usual expected sound bites, rhymed out with the customary insincerity and rote, and nothing much else. It does seem that the infighting has spilled out into the streets and like a horde of rabid beasts they attack without thought or provocation, meaningless and vile, and petty, and even a 90 year old pensioner becomes prey for the pack.

Perhaps, as stated above, someone with a psychology degree, may be able to come up with a reason or two for this accelerating type of obnoxious and abhorrent behaviour. I myself cannot think of anything that may justify it. It seems Scottish Labour are finished - they know it, and instead of going down fighting, they are going down trying to besmirch anyone that isn't one of their own, no matter who they are, how old they are, or how weak they are.

My friend and long time Scottish Labour supporter has decided to forego his party of choice of his vote in this election. I hope many other morally minded Scottish Labour voters do so as well. If they cannot find the will to vote for another party, then I hope they will at least not vote for the Scottish Labour party. Perhaps, if the party finds itself in an even more serious state of decline, after these coming local elections, it may finally realise that being the dirtiest players in town is no way to win.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Food Bank and the Money Bank

If you don't have the money to pay for the essential things you need, then you are in poverty. This includes families not having the money to buy food to feed their families, pay to heat their homes, not having enough to purchase adequate warm clothing, or have to struggle to pay the rent to keep the home. You don't have to be unemployed to be under the poverty line, 60% of people in low incomes are living in poverty.

"One of the key features of poverty in the UK is that it exists alongside high economic prosperity in a wealthy country. This leads to large disparities in income and wealth, which in themselves have a negative impact on people living on low-incomes. Poorer countries, with fairer wealth distribution are healthier, and happier, than richer more unequal countries." (source)

In the UK at the moment, almost

13 million people are living in poverty, that's 1 in 5 of the population.

3.8 million children are living in poverty

2.2 million pensioners are living in poverty

In the rich UK a great deal of people are going hungry each day. Is it so surprising then to realise that one of the fastest expanding sectors in the UK at the moment is the rise of the food bank. Austerity measures, we're constantly told, mean we're all in it together, but for some people, who have struggled with austerity for years before it became the vogue synonym for squeezing the poor, the new measures of skimming back whatever little income they have, and increasing taxes like VAT, are having the effect of making a struggle for a meagre existence, an even grimmer imposition.

At the 2011 Food bank Conference, the Trussell Trust announced their 100th food bank. This year, they expect to be feeding 100,000 people from Food bank branches all over the UK. Click here to see a map of the UK and see how widespread the inability of the Government is towards feeding the poor in the UK.

The charity suggests that the credit crunch has led to an upsurge in the number of people needing emergency food and led to more than one new food bank being opened every week in 2011. (source)

The poverty situation in the UK is now so bad that Jobcentres are now directing the poor and hungry to charity run food banks. Benefit claimants are now being referred to food banks in order to feed their families by the Government.

Helen Longworth, Oxfam's head of UK poverty policy, said: "It's shocking that more and more people in the UK are being forced to go to food banks to be able to eat ... In this day and age, nobody should be forced to choose between paying a bill or feeding their family." (source)

Despite the fact that the UK is apparently broke, that we're all living through a lengthy period of austerity and being constantly told to tighten our belts, the Government has no money, the coffers are empty, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the UK, has just found another £10 billion to give to the IMF, this on top of the £30 Billion already promised.

£40 billion quid to the IMF, in a period of austerity, when families have to go, or are sent by the Government, to food banks to feed their families, is a disgrace in the modern UK.

The UK has a higher proportion of its population living in relative poverty than most other EU countries: of the 27 EU countries, only 6 have a higher rate than the UK. (source)

 The proportion of people living in relative low income in the UK is twice that of the Netherlands and one-and-a-half times that of France. (source)

So, the UK is broke, but Osborne happened to discover these extra £billions under the bed, or behind the sofa, so he decides, without parliament approval, to hand it over to the IMF, now what does the IMF do with all this money it accumulates from rich western countries like the UK?

The IMF loans money out to other countries, but sets conditions, which it terms conditionality, which basically means that the IMF will loan a country the money as long as the country does what it says.

The Fund knows very little about what public spending on programs like public health and education actually means, especially in African countries; they have no feel for the impact that their proposed national budget will have on people. The economic advice the IMF gives might not always take into consideration the difference between what spending means on paper and how it's felt by citizens.

The IMF sometimes advocates “austerity programmes,” cutting public spending and increasing taxes even when the economy is weak, in order to bring budgets closer to a balance, thus reducing budget deficits. (source)

It appears to me then, that the UK, at the moment going through a sustained period of austerity, or an "austerity programme", is handing out money to the IMF that it should be using to alleviate it's own period of austerity, and perhaps even help to lift it's own UK citizens out of poverty, at least enough for them to be able to feed themselves and their families without having to go, or be sent to, a charity run food bank. The UK Government though, seems to be taking the approach of "we have an austerity programme", let's fund the IMF so it can inflict "austerity programmes" on others.

I'm not an economist; I also don't have a thorough knowledge of the UK finances, or a deep understanding of the moral aptitude of the IMF. I do however, understand poverty, and see it around me every day of the week, and know that often this can be alleviated by a commonsense approach and purpose, and measures that need not cost a Government much in terms of finance or willpower. Personally, I think it shocking, that in the UK at this moment in time, so much poverty is so widespread and visible that everyone seems to see it, and despair about how little is being done about it, but the UK Government.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

The State of the BBC, or the BBC of the State?

There is a widespread knowledge in Scotland that the BBC, especially BBC Scotland, has shown, on countless occasions, a complete bias against the interests of Scotland. This is no where more prevalent than on political issues, and especially in regard to issues involving the Scottish Government and the coming referendum on Scottish independence.

The internet is awash with examples, and in facebook and twitter, the chatter is endless with links, and tweets, and videos, that prove this bias beyond any reasonable doubt. Therefore, it is with 'thanks' that I post the BBC video below that saves me listing a great deal of links to prove my case. It is there, for all to see, straight from the horse's mouth (the horse no doubt one of the nags mentioned in said video to be frightened).

Brian Taylor about Alex Salmond "he wants a contest in as close as possible to the next UK general election because he believes that by then his unionist opponents will be fighting each other rather than fighting independence and Alex Salmond, he wants to sow dissent among them."

"if Scotland decides to leave, that is when the gloves will really come off" says Andrew Neil on the video.

This is a snippet of an in-house video the public was not supposed to see. It shows top BBC political commentators seemingly getting their agreed strategy together on how the BBC will air matters relating to the referendum and slant the information regarding the debate in a way that promotes and empathises the unionist points of view to the detriment of the views of the Scottish Government.

It does nothing to quiet the accusations of anti-Scottish fervour that is gathering momentum in the opinions of the people of Scotland against the BBC, and especially BBC Scotland. The BBC, as a publicly funded body, is supposed to objectively inform and educate the people with news free from bias and manipulation. It clearly fails to do so.

The BBC, it seems, has become a mouthpiece for the UK government, promoting the unionist agenda, demeaning and vilifying any opposition to it, to the extent of secret meetings to plan how to manipulate and distort the views of the Scottish Government and the pro independence position.

Edited clips of the presentation showing Brian Taylor and Andrew Neil

More information:

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Scottish Labour - It's all over bar the swim to the lifeboats

Right after Labour got a mauling in Bradford, we had top party officials like Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman, stating the party will need to hold a 'proper inquiry' into George Galloway's win after a 36% swing to Respect. You don't need an inquiry, Harriet, you just need to listen to the voters, and as to George Galloway's spectacular victory, well, the answer's in the party name, Respect, something the Labour party has shown very little of recently to the people they expect to keep coming out and voting for them.

So, what has a local English by-election defeat got to do with Scotland? Interference, mostly, the fact that the control freakery of the Westminster Labour machine is causing so much mistrust and disarray in so many local Labour councils in Scotland that long serving Labour councillors, many who have served their community well, are beginning to jump ship faster than Italian cruise ship Captains. How can the big-wigs of the party at London Labour HQ come up to Scotland and decide which candidate will best suit the party in a local council election here, when they can't even get it right in an English by-election they should have won by just turning up?

The problems in Glasgow are rife, so many councillors have walked out, resigned, or defected that Labour no longer have a majority in the city council. Now we hear that in Midlothian, they've also lost control of another of their strongholds. There's also deep murmurs of discontent in North Lanarkshire, cosy deals with the Tories in Stirling, so it seems we don't have an issue of a few disgruntled councillors and a mere suspicion of something whiffy by once diehard Labour voters, we have an ongoing implosion of the party throughout Scotland. The Scottish Labour party, whether through fear of their London masters, or incompetence, ineptitude, or deliberate collusion, have recently been as politically effective as a band-aid on a decapitation victim - and talking about losing yer heid stunts, Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont, dragging elderly people from their sick bed into the Scottish Parliament to make a moan about NHS blankets was the finest own goal since Gerry Ratner called his own products 'total crap'. Whatever happened to Ratner's?

So, why am I even remotely concerned about Scottish Labour? Well, in the very week that one of the ex-Labour stalwarts I have real respect and admiration for, Dennis Canavan,  comes out in support of Scottish Independence, even though it was his own Labour party that deselected him, forcing him to run, and win, as an independent MSP, it gives me hope that a few more of the talented, progressive, and rigidly back-boned, members of the Scottish Labour party, that I also have some respect for, will stand up for their principles and consider fighting for social justice and fair social values outside of a party that has blatantly lost touch with the very meaning of those words.

"Having spent all of his political life campaigning on matters of social justice, Mr Canavan rightly points out that the powers of independence can lead to a more socially just Scotland.
Rather than Tory rule from Westminster, it would be much better if the decisions affecting Scotland were taken by those who care about Scotland most - the people living here." (source)

With the London Labour party looking more like another coalition partner of the Tories, even standing proudly shoulder to shoulder with them, like Brian Donohoe, Labour MP, they show scant regard for anyone who in the past voted for a party that they thought might have had a smidgeon of the socialist principles remaining that they once enshrined. Scottish Labour is now tainted with the same rank stink of acquiescence and quisling underhandedness that the Tory Human shields, the Lib-Dems have.

The local elections are coming soon. There must be more than a few Labour councillors and candidates living in dread of the approach. They must know that they are going to be pummelled in the local elections just as thoroughly as Imran Hussain, their candidate, was in the Bradford West by-election. The question is, to the talent that is left in the Scottish Labour party, do you hang around with Captain Lamont, and her motley crew, and end up going down with the ship, or jump overboard, and either find another ship with a more positive direction and wind in its sails, or create your own new ship, far removed and never again linked to the Scottish Labour party that has continually let down voters year after year after year?

There are some talented people in the Scottish Labour party, unfortunately they are no longer allowed to grow and shine, they are being choked and constrained and forced against what they stand for and believe in, forced to line up and collaborate with the Tories. Labour on the left of them, Lib-Dems on the right, the Tory party has human shields, or defensive puppets, covering every flank now. It is not an inquiry the Labour party needs, Harriet, it is a letter of apology to all of the voters they have betrayed. The Scottish Labour party has already fallen so low, and is so under the foot of London Labour, there really is scant hope left for it. Total detachment from Labour HQ in London is possibly no longer an option, or one that any voter with any commonsense in Scotland would believe. Perhaps a new Scottish Independent Labour party is a possibility, a phoenix from the ashes that renews and promotes the true values of old Labour, but together with the new purpose of promoting an independent Scotland, and working with the other pro independence parties in Scotland till that goal is achieved.

After May, some exasperated voters may send out the lifeboats, and it will be up to the survivors, the ones with talent and conviction, and belief, whether to sink with the dregs of the party, or swim for a new boat. Scotland can live without the Scottish Labour party. The sooner the Scottish Labour party begins to realise that, and come to terms with it, the better.

Mr Canavan, launched a strongly worded attack on his former party, accusing it of promoting the “preservation of the union ahead of social justice”.
“I’ll be voting ‘yes’ to independence. That’s based on my experience at Westminster and as an MSP that most politicians at Westminster ignore the people of Scotland." (source)