Thursday, 28 February 2013

Drug dependency ..

I am a junkie, without my daily fix of drugs I will fall apart, when I have run out and can not get my next fix my world begins to come apart. I get light headed, nauseus, my balance goes, my muscles cramp and spasm, my skin itches all over and I begin to panic.

I am clearly the 'sort of person' the Idiot Duncan Smith and his ATOS buddies need to get a grip of, sort out, put me on the straight and narrow, get me off my drug fix and turn me into a useful member of what ever the current rainbow Tory coalition at Westminster currently wish to define as 'society' - whether 'Big' or 'One nation' both are equivalent and total bullshit only viable in the empty space between the ears of the political chattering class and their media hangers on.

The balance between being 'well' on my drug habit and sick comes down to the failure of supply of any one of the drug cocktail I take on a daily basis. Ten days ago my GP called me to tell me the UK had run out of one of the drugs I take to reduce muscle spasm and cramp so I can sleep at night. Some balls up at the factory apparently meant there was none of this particular drug left in the whole world, the NHS could not lay their hands on a single tablet and could not for at least a month, so would I mind a 'cheaper' drug to deal with my night time symptoms.

Being a medical sort of chap I 'knew' the alternative drug, what it did and its usual side effects. What I was not aware of was the small print side effects when taken with other anti depressant drugs. Clearly my GP knew but did not see them as a 'risk' after all the most serious side effect (total dependency) only occurs on a long term dose which is far longer than the four to six weeks of the current 'supply side' problem, as our 'ubermensch' politicians at Westminster would describe it.

Within two days of the new addition my ex-wife described me as being 'zombiefied', on a different planet (well, an even more weird and different planet to the one I usually live on). I felt listless. I was getting night time cramps and severely disturbed sleep. I thought it was the impact of switching drugs and persevered for the next six days to let the new drug 'settle in'. I felt completely crap, totally lacking interest and with zero creativity. My existence had been reduced to 'Meh! Don't give a shit.' and the desire to remain in 'duvet world pyjama domain'.

So on Sunday I ditched the 'replacement' pill, slept no worse than I had done with it and on Monday woke up to a world of potential interest. A day with enough interest in life that I researched all the side effects and interactions of my new 'best pal' which, amongst other things, showed in 5% of cases the drug could worsen depression and prevent deep sleep. Lucky me - I got first prize in Norm's outside of three standard deviations stakes. Wednesday night my totally knackered body managed to get nearly ten hours of uninterupted sleep, courtesy of the slight misuse of one of the other drugs I take and a couple of glasses of wine (all pharmaceutically controlled doses - honest).

So tonight I find myself with the lights on and some one at home, so I thought I'd share this tale of  'just in time NHS supplies' and their down side. I also know just exactly what drugs to take to ensure I could not pass an ATOS assessment and for a small donation (at least a monkey but I'll take lemurs - if pushed), in a brown envelope behind the pipes in the gentleman's loo at Kirkcudbright Golf Club - I'll let you know the secret drug. Yet remember, to ensure the secret drug works you will have to be at least as deviant as me or any of the politicians at Westminster. No easy ask for normal human beings.

Tomorrow I will be calling my GP to give her the good news and listen for the sharp intake of breath when she has to munch into the practice drug budget for the far more expensive alternative which I would rather have avoided but wine and drugs are only a safe combination on the odd occasion. My liver would not last the month if I persevered.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Message in a bottle ..

Up here in too stupid Scotland we are seeing this clutching at gas and new nuclear straws by Westminster as yet another Union benefit we would rather not have. Helping subsidise Nuclear to the tune of £50 billion for an energy source we do not need while paying more for energy sources we have in surplus.

When it comes to gas, Scotland consumed 64 Twh while exporting 378Twh - 6 times more than we consumed. So we are going to be forced to pay more for an energy source we have a surplus of simply to fund 'Nuclear' and pull England's butt out the fire caused by Westminster's failure to act on an energy gap that has been clear since the impact of the 2008 collapse of the National Grid in London and the South.

Scotland also exports around one quarter of the electricity it generates, again mainly to the rest of the UK. In 2009, Scotland generated 51 TWh of which 12 Twh was exported. This is increasing as new sources of renewable energy come on stream - yet we pay more per unit for our electicity than the SE courtesy of National Grid charging which is in reality a further subsidy to London and the south.

As for light crude exports - lets just pull a blanket over that while asking why in an energy rich country like Scotland over 60,000 families are in fuel poverty and petrol per litre is cheaper in London than Perth.

Maybe you can now answer the question, 'Why does Westminster wants to hold onto us 'subsidy junkie' Scots?' The answer appears to be, without our energy resources and reserves, England is screwed in both the short and medium term - so England should get fracking before its too late.

The bottle? Well, if we stop exporting energy to England it is the only way they can get the message. I'm just off to the Mull of Galloway to throw it in, should be in Morcambe Bay within 48 hours, if I get the tides right.

Monday, 18 February 2013

J' accuse: The Guardian

If the truth is so important to the Guardian why is it when it is a New Labour politician being 'whistleblown' the Guardian editorial team goes quiet?

If the truth is so important to the Guardian just why does it continue to peddle Westminster propaganda statements from New Labour as 'fact'.

The Guardian, like its metro-centric media pals, only sees the 'truth' through the prism of Westminster and has, is and will continue to collude in ensuring 'bad news' does not get out, especially if it is embarrassing to New Labour.

Maybe the Guardian can explain away New Labour's continued support for the 'Bedroom Tax'? According to multimillionaire Anas Sawar (New Labour Glasgow) there is nothing wrong with the bedroom tax, the fault lies with everyone else but Westminster MP's for allowing this crass piece of legislation to see the light of day. In Scotland he and Lamont are blaming the current Scottish Government for not building enough one bedroom 'social housing' as the problem behind the impact this tax will have on the already vulnerable in our society. This from a New Labour party that between 1999 and 2007 built 8 'social housing' units in Scotland while selling off council homes left, right and centre - in the mean time returning £1.5 billion of Scottish pocket money.

The Guardian has no right to be so 'po faced' about 'whistle blowers' as it sees the 'truth' only from a positon of its own political and editorial advantage.

Currently the Guardian is trying to sell us Harold MacMillan's 'One Nation' conservatism as Milliband's great new idea - except it was tried between 1957 and 1963 and ended with a Labour Landslide. Then there is the Guardian's tacit support of New Labour's privatise the NHS in England plan couched as it is in the stench of 'greater efficiency' of private companies when the real cause of the problems NHS England suffers from are firmly imbedded in New Labour's PFI scam which is simply another tax payer subsidy to the banks. A NHS PFI scam made worse by the impact on PFI costs of the LIBOR rate fixing which happened on Darling and Osbourne's watch and has increased NHS England's PFI costs by 25%.

You do not need 'whistle blowers' to find all this out, you simply need integrity and then ability to undertake detailed research - something sadly lacking in a Westminster village which is 'Aa fir coat an' nae knickers'.

 According to the Guardian 'facts are sacred' .... except when they embarrass New Labour.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

New Labour - just what is it good for?

My alter ego spent last week roaming the Guardian political threads on the Eastleigh bye-election trying to discover the difference between the three 'main parties' and just how New Labour supporters saw themselves as 'different' to the other two right wing parties in the bun fight.

I suggested as a local newspaper poll already showed the NHS Alliance with an 18% poll share against New Labour's 10% - and this was before the NHS Allaince announced a well known local GP was their candidate - that New Labour should 'jack their hand in' and back the NHS Alliance candidate. The New Labourites response was there was no point in wasting their vote on a 'protest vote', a response I found rather strange as New Labour are polling alongside UKIP in Eastleigh and are, according to local election wonks, likely to lose their deposit this time round.

Next up I suggested Milliband was unlikely to notice a socialist policy even if it bit him on the backside. There were the usual straight forward bluster's of denial and little evidence forthcoming of Ed's socialist credentials. The next track was to suggest that when New Labour returned to power at Westminster then we would see a move back to the left by New Labour and that Ed's playing to London and the south was just a political tactic. There were a number of responses on the 'we are going to change New Labour from the inside' line which failed to comprehend just what happened last time some one tried this track and brought about the rightward shift of New Labour firmly to right of centre, tight up against the Tory Party. The history of New Labour is clear, it is embedded deeply in the removal of 'Militant' from the Labour Party in the 1980's. The problem is New Labour went too far the other way into to authoritarian, regressive, right wing, conservative politics and never returned back to the centre left, leaving in England and Wales a political void that the Greens remain ill equipped to fill at present.

What did strike me as I roamed the Guardians comments sections was just how sick fed up a fair percentage of the posters were with Westminster in general. Many were suggesting the biggest 'vote share' in 2015 will probably go to folk who do not vote at all - none of the above seemed popular. there was also a distinct trend amongst posters that the Scots were smart in seeking to get out from under a failed Westminster and a clear wish for a centre left party like the 'SNP' to be available for their vote - if nothing else simply to send a message to the 'main parties'. Very few on the comments threads had a pop at me about being a Scot. In fact one of my posts questioning New Labour and Ed's socialist credentials picked a 50+ recommend. The two poster that did have long been pinged as being New Labour HQ bloggers who tend to 'troll'.

We talk about a democratic deficit in Scotland with regards to being governed by parties at Westminster we did not elect but it appears a democratic deficit exists equally in England as there is no voice for the centre left - except to disenfranchise themselves.

It is clear that New Labour and Westminster as a whole is failing to meet the democratic ambitons of the UK. The failure is writ large in such regressive systems as the 'bedroom tax' and the ATOS Incapacity Benefits scam . Government is about balancing the needs of the economy and the people. Westminster is not interested in the people anymore as it is far too interested in itself, its status and its wealth.

This brings me back to my question in the strap line, to which the answer is clearly 'nothing - say it again!'

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Lost in the Annex A

Reading what has been stated as ‘legal and constitutional exactitude’ in the UK Government’s statement on the legality of Scottish independence I was quickly attracted to two key fallacies Annex A paragraph 95 makes about the legal and constitutional status of the people of Scotland and its supposition Scotland ceased to exist at the time of Union..

The first is in the misconception that the crowns have somehow been ‘united’ and the second that Scotland has now been ‘subsumed’ by England in terms of sovereignty and legal status. These two assumptions are seriously flawed and usurp for the United Kingdom’s Parliament at Westminster  sovereignty, powers and authorities which has no constitutional nor legal basis under the 1706 Treaty of Union.

There never has been a 'Union of the Crowns'. Elizabeth rules in Scotland pursuant to the 1698 Claim of Right (Scotland) Act and is properly Elizabeth, Queen of Scots, whilst in Scotland. In McCormack vs the Lord Advocate (1953) the legal challenge to the Elizabeth the Second cipher was refused because, basically, there was no legitimate challenge to the Royal Titles Act 1953 in terms of the Articles of Union and the act itself as constituted was not ultra vires.

It is important to note that the seperation of the crowns was maintained as the night before the Westminster coronation Elizabeth was sworn in as 'Queen of Scots' by representatives of the 'Thrie Estaites' - the Lord Lyon, Moderator of the Church of Scotland and the Secretary of State for Scotland - as required by the 1689 Claim of Rights.

It is a while since I read what Lord Cooper had to say on this issue so have returned to the original judgement and two legal commentaries on Lord Cooper’s main point regarding the fundamental basis of the UK’s constitutional practice which only has legitimacy within the articles of the Treaty of Union of 1706, ratified in 1707 by acts of the two sovereign parliaments.

The fundamental point in law and constitutional practice made by Lord Cooper and conceded by the Lord Advocate was that the UK Parliament has no rights to alter, change or amend the Articles of the Treaty nor any laws pursuant of those Articles and this is the case for ‘all time’ which Lord Cooper defined as meaning just that.  The only bodies with the powers to alter, change or amend the Articles of Union are the sovereign parliaments of the two signatories of the Treaty. This legal and constitutional point was conceded on the UK Parliament’s behalf by the Lord Advocate. In other words the UK Parliament has to consider the impact of any law or act its passes on the sovereign status of the Scottish people as defined by the 1698 Claim of Right (Scotland) and the Articles of Union. Professor Walker states that:
“... (UK) Parliament commonly thought that the Articles were, or were part of, an English Act. Scottish representation in both Houses of the Westminster Parliament has always been heavily outnumbered, and for long, few were concerned with Scottish rights and wrongs.”

It is clear from both Professor Walker and Lord Cooper’s viewpoints the UK Parliament at Westminster has frequently been in breach of the Articles of Union, since 1707, with respect to its dealings with Scotland all based on the assumption that only English Law and constitutional practice were legitimate in the UK Parliament. In effect the UK Parliament began to view Scotland as just an ‘English colony’ within a few years of the Union. This is to some extent borne out by the use of an English parliamentary practice ‘the filibuster’ to ensure Lord Selkirk’s 1714 bill to dissolve the Union was talked out and never came to a vote.

Professor Walker highlights changes in the 1853 Universities (Scotland) Act which removed the requirement for Scottish University principles to be of the Scottish Presbyterian faith to hold office. As this requirement (to be a Scottish Presbyterian) was covered by the Articles of Union and to be for ‘all time’ so was out with the powers of the UK Parliament to amend or alter.  This change may well have been sensible but as Professor Cooper says: 

It is not clear whether this was done by Parliament deliberately in the knowledge of wrongdoing, or in the hope that nobody would cause an uproar, or by simple ignorance.

The problem is the law does not allow for ‘simple ignorance’ and it is no defence for the assumption of powers by a UK Westminster parliament it does not have. It is useful to remind ourselves just what the legal and constitutional point Lord Cooper actually made in 1953:

“The principle of the unlimited sovereignty of Parliament is a distinctively English principle which has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law. It derives its origin from Coke and Blackstone, and was widely popularised during the nineteenth century by Bagehot and Dicey, the latter having stated the doctrine in its classic form in his Law of the Constitution. Considering that the Union legislation extinguished the Parliaments of Scotland and England and replaced them by a new Parliament, I have difficulty in seeing why it should have been supposed that the new Parliament of Great Britain must inherit all the peculiar characteristics of the English Parliament but none of the Scottish Parliament, as if all that happened in 1707 was that Scottish representatives were admitted to the Parliament of England. That is not what was done.”

The contention made in the document released by Mr Cameron in his defence of the union is based on a legal in exactitude and a constitutional fallacy with the assumption made in Annex A section 50 regarding the primacy of English law and constitutional practice within the UK Parliament. Neither does it support the Secretary of State for Scotland’s contention of Scotland being a ‘region’ of England. Both these statements are in contempt of the Articles of Union and at odds with the political and cultural reality that Scotland is a separate nation and did not give up this status on joining in a union with England. All that was joined was the parliaments.

The failure of the ‘No campaign’ to address the parliamentary and constitutional future of a devolved Scotland if they are successful leaves another problem for the UK Parliament as any attempt to regain powers back from Holyrood flies in the face of legal opinion and constitutional practice in the UK,  as Lord Denning noted:

“We have all been brought up to believe that, in legal theory, one Parliament cannot bind another and that no Act is irreversible. But legal theory does not always march alongside political reality. Take the Statute of Westminster; 1931, which takes away the power of Parliament to legislate for the Dominions. Can any one imagine that Parliament could or would reverse that Statute? Take the Acts which have granted independence to the Dominions and territories overseas. Can anyone imagine that Parliament could or would reverse those laws and take away their independence? Most clearly not. Freedom once given cannot be taken away. Legal theory must give way to practical politics.”

The question has to be asked just what is the UK Parliament’s intention in the case of a no vote, just what is on offer because if there is serious consideration to rolling back Holyrood’s already established freedoms then the UK Parliament will be heading for a serious legal battle in which its own legal precedence and constitutional practices establish it has no leverage or right to do so.

This leaves the ‘No Campaign’ in a quandary, do they continue to make statements which are contrary to the conditions of the Articles of Union and leave themselves open to legal challenge of contempt of the Articles of Union and usurpation of Scottish sovereignty in the hopes that Scots will not notice? The legal case against the UK Parliament for exceeding their legitimate bounds has already been objectively established by Scottish legal and constitutional authorities over the centuries since 1707. At what point will the decision need to be made that UK Parliamentary politics cannot be trusted on the issue of the referendum on Scotland’s future so we must have recourse to international law to challenge the illegitimacy of their stated position?

I cannot believe Cameron and the ‘No campaign’ will wish to push things that far. Then again stupid is as stupid does.


Shake's Head: Unionist stupidity - exceeds expectations

For over a week before we had heard from the UK media's political moles how Cameron's propaganda war would put the Jockanese splitists on the back foot once and for all. The Telegraph was honest in making it clear that Cameron was launching a 'propaganda war' to save the 'Union'. We splitists waited with baited breath as the feared campaign was set in motion. The first major blow of Cameron's campaign was launched on Monday 11th of February. We hid in our splitist shelters to escape its fiery blast, listening to the count down to Westminster's nuclear propaganda explosion.

Did the earth move? Were we splitists rent asunder? Had the Westminster explosion ripped the feet from under us? We listened for the explosion, the end of his 'Eckness', Scotland, the world. Yet all there was to be heard was the sound of a flaccid 'pop', all that had gone off was a damp squib. Surely we thought that can not be the extent of Cameron's much trumpeted weapon of splitist destruction. It must be a ruse to get us out in the open and then the real bomb would go off. Us splitists with a 'Dogbert' bolt on spine left the shelter to see what had happened and assess the risk, reports came back; what we had heard was all there was. It was indeed a damp squib.

Of course this did not stop the media organs of the Westminster state from pushing the line about how devasting the damp squib had been to the splitist cause. The Abominable Noman's unearthly cry was heard around the glens yelling Scotland would never get into Europe for a millennium. The 'Last of the Tories' was rushing around telling us how the splitists were tied up in a bundle of 14,000, 14,000,000 or was it 14 international treaties that were un-negotiable and Scotland would be cast adrift isolated from the world for all eternity.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (another endangered speices) told us according to the Westminster expert evidence Scotland does not exist apart from as a region of England (see section 50 of the Unionist report). This raises the question of just why are Scottish tax payers paying £10+ million a year for a non existent Scottish Office, serving a non-existent country? As Nicola pointed out on the 'Today' program this piece of genious constitutional thinking meant an independent Scotland would not have to accept any share of the UK National debt. Even Mr Humphries had a good laugh about the stupidity of the Westminster claim.

The really interesting point one of the author's of the Unionist report made on the BBC 'Today' radio program was that if Scotland said 'yes' in 2014 the negotiation time table for independence, EU, NATO and UN entry, recently set out by the Scottish Government (which the Abominable Noman et al had told us was unrealistic), was most certainly achievable by March 2016.

All this reminded me of my submariner friends problems of using the loo whilst dived. In the conventional submarines of the day, the sequencing of flushing, via stop cocks and levers, had to be done carefully and in the correct order if not, you got your own back. It appears there is now a Cameron shaped clean area on the inside of the door to the loo compartment.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Scotland's NHS - its 'No' future

The English NHS is in a mess and it has little to do with over worked and under staffed front line operations and a lot to do with political ignorance, vested interests (medical and Westminster) and ineffective management from the Department of Health downwards. 

There is no understanding by politicians or NHS management on how best to meet patients needs and expectations - their focus is always on their own wants of all sorts. I may want specialist treatment in my local hospital but what I need as a patient is care from a properly trained care team who have not just had to work 72 hours on the trot becuase of a shortage of 'Agency' staff. My expectation as a patient is I will be appropriately cared for within the context of my condition or illness which will be palliative or resolved. 

How do I know this?

Because I worked from 1996 to 2005, mainly within the English NHS, dealing with shit storms caused by the simple fact that patients needs and expectations were not being met. So much money paid out by the NHS on the back of complaints and litigation could have stayed within the system if NHS management and politicians would understand patient's actual needs and expectations of the NHS are clear and achievable rather than creating self justifiable political  wants as patient needs. 

NHS PFI is the biggest most costly failure for the NHS in meeting patients needs simply because its has no cohesion with so many responsibility splits between Trusts and the PFI contractors. Folk complain of dirty wards and suggest that nurses should clean them up, change beds, wash patients. Under a PFI contract the auxiliaries who change beds and clean patients may well be employed by the PFI contractor and if nurses undertake these operations they will face a disciplinary hearing. Likewise ward cleaning in PFI hospitals, this will be a sub contractor, on tight margins, training the minimum of his staff to deal with hazardous spills (blood, urine etc). This is why wards look 'dirty' because if one member of the cleaning staff throws a 'sicky' wards will not be cleaned that day. If it is one of the Hazardous spill cleaners blood could lie upwards of two hours before being dealt with. 

A nurse may well see a cleaner is not cleaning the ward as they think it should be but to lodge a complaint means a whole load of extra paperwork, a visit to a line manager which will take them away from an already over stretched ward team and end up with nothing changing because it is a different cleaner the following week. This is NHS England and the politically lead lunacy that is wrecking it. Is it any surprise that third year student nurses left on their own because of staff shortages or money saving rotas make mistakes in a system that is designed to kill their enthusiasm stone dead? Is it any suprise they end up cynical and bitter by their mid twenties? The nurses and junior doctors are trapped in a managed system that does not give a 'shit' about them or their patients - it is enough to demoralise any one. The problems with NHS England start in 10 Downing Street and all the privatisation in the world is not going to change that.

This is the future for NHS Scotland if the 'No' vote wins in 2014. A public health care system worse than the USA with equally as big inequality in care.