Wednesday, 28 August 2013

In a despotic Empire, far, far away ...


"Mr President, Major General Mahatmacoat would like an audience"

"Send him in, young lackey."

"Major-General, to what end are you disturbing my peace when you should be wiping out these rebellious traitors who seek to over throw me. Who even now are trying to gather sympathy of the United Satanic Mills of  Beyonce, to support their woe begone efforts to hasten my demise."

"It is of these rebels I wish to speak. The general staff have a cunning plan."

"Speak then General"

"We have discovered from our spies that the rebels are being openly supported in certain areas of your capital and before this cancer rots this city it must be expunged. We have thought through the solution and wish your approval to unleash 'Operation Cockroach'."

"What is this 'Cockroach' you speak of?"

" As you are aware once the rebellion is crushed we would still have to deal with their supporters, Operation Cockroach gives us the opportunity to do both at once. The plan itself is simple and has two phases one military and one political. We have identified a square kilometer of rebel territory which meets the needs of the operation as it has:
  1. A high population density
  2. Is on the front line between our forces and the rebels
  3. Has key rebel installations within it - a local HQ and medical facilities
  4. Is key in terms of the rebel's overall defence from incursion

  • 0230 we will commence a bombardment by high explosive and incendiaries from both air and ground 
  • 0300 we will send in our Sarin dispensing aircraft

By 0315 we expect there will not be a single living thing within the one kilometer box , not even a cockroach - hence the amusing name of the operation - and then you will contact the rebel command requesting an end to hostilities or we will launch our next Sarin attack within the hour on another rebel area of our choosing"

"I am concerned about the use of Sarin in such a high volume, could we not use a small amount as a demonstration?"

"Mr President, whether we use a couple of Lynx deoderant size dispensers or half our current stock pile of Sarin we can expect the same response of the USMB who will seek to condemn us at the Intergalactic Talking Shop of Planets. They will make much of the attack whether 900 or 9,000 die and will look to seek permission  from the ITSP to turn our planet into a nuclear waste land while claiming they are only doing it to save civilian lives on this planet."

"And what of our sponsor galaxy the Great Bear, will they not cut us off and leave us to drift?"

"We think not, as long as you can bring about a rapid political settlement. They will mutter the right words at the ITSP, possibly give us a bit of a hard time on the quiet but as long as we regain full control and end the rebellion, they will stay on side."

"Why the bombardment, would it not be better simply to send over the Sarin dispensing aircraft?"

"No, Sir. By having the bombardment by ground and air we will cause initial casualties and fires. The rebels will fill the area with defenders expecting an attack while the fire and medical workers will be dealing with casualties, mostly in the open. The rebel supporters will head down to their basements for safety from the bombing and shelling. This means the buildings are shattered and all the people are at ground level, the optimum conditions for a gas attack within a built up area, as it increases the ease of dispersal and target penetration of the Sarin. By the time the aircraft complete the dispensing run the first fatalities will already be happening, By the time the aircraft are back on the ground at 0315 we expect in the region of 90% fatalities out of the estimated population of 10,000 people. Not including the numbers of rebels and their support echelons which will have been moved to the sector, along with a large number of their medical assets."

" I see and this 'demonstration' you hope will bring the rebels to agree terms on our conditions or face the consequences of further attack ....  Mmmmmh .... make it so general."

And that is how dictatorships, like Syria, actually work and why I consider the 'gas attack' to be a set up job.

Syria just say - NO! - Westminster.

Let us be very clear what getting involved in Syria is about:

  1. It is not about protecting civilians because all cruise missiles will do is increase civilian casualties directly and through destruction of infra-structure.

  2. It is not about a supposed 'gas attack' because thousands of Syrian civilians have already been killed by Assad and his predecessors so another 300 is, in effect, neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things.

  3. It can only be about the USA and Russia's current arm wrestle over access to Middle East Oil reserves, by proxy, in Syria.

In other words Syria is about profits for Wall Street, Exxon and Halliburtons just as it was in Iraq. The supposed 'gas attack' is because this time around the US and UK Governments know we will not buy the 'dodgy dossier' gig.

If it was not over oil the West would simply stand back and watch, just as they have done across Africa, in Myamar, Pol Pot and on countless other occasions. Leave this up to the Arab League to sort out. I do not see any other NATO member rushing to send troops or bomb Syria so let us leave this nasty scab alone and not start picking at it we have enough problems in the UK that are being ignored.

If Milliband was not simply another Blair clone (as is his mate 'Dave') then he would oppose this intervention but Nu Blu Labour will look at its home county focus groups and decide if it voted as it should, against the escalation of this conflict, it would lose 'Home County' votes and a chance to get their gilded backsides on 'Ministerial chairs' in Whitehall.

In effect money the current government says we do not have to operate a competent benefits and health care system in the UK will be urinated up against the wall in the costly purchase of military toys from the USA. In the mean time the UK media outlets will continue to ignore the significant numbers of UK citizens taking their own lives as a result of the current Government policy on benefits.

The ultimate logic of the 'We must get involved in Syria to save civilians' argument  for 'war on Syria' is equally applicable to a 'war against Westminster' as UK civilians are dying unnecessarily courtesy of deliberate UK Government policy.

Now, how do we get the RN to lob the odd cruise missile into Downing Street?

Yesterday I wrote about my concerns about being lead up the garden path by the 'gas attack' line of persuasion. I chatted to an old colleague who was an NBCD Officer for the Army of the Rhine and he is equally skeptical that Sarin was used in Damascus for the same reasons: not high enough casualties given the population density and the video of so-called 'survivors'. We both agreed that the agent used was a less toxic and active nerve or other agent. He was equally surprised to see the so-called UN expert tampering with the suspected casing of a nerve agent projectile with out full NBCD kit or a respirator on, in the BBC clip. This again raises our suspicions the agent is not Sarin and the UN 'experts' already know that. Further the BBC's announcement of Israeli intelligence's involvement in finding 'evidence' of the 'gas attack' should raise alarm bells as it is clear Mossad must be operating within the two opposition sides to be able to gain such information - as I suggested yesterday.

I remain convinced that all is not what it appears to be and I become less of a tin foil hat wearing, conspiracy nut as more objective evidence to support my supposition appears.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Liz, Queen of Scots - just say 'No!'

I find myself in a bit of quandry.

I know a fair bit about Sarin, its chemistry, how it acts on the human body, what sort of inhalation doses are fatal, the 'first aid' you can apply, the unlikely success of first aid and from a NBCD Triage Officer's view point how to recognise the effects of the gas. My problem is I found this all out in the days of the 'Cold War' when most of the lectures and exercises attracted a 'Most Secret' label at the Royal Naval NBCD School. As a RN Triage Officer I saw stuff that normal NBCD personnel were not allowed to see; these being copies of films made in Japan and Germany in the period 1939-45 showing the impact on test subjects of hypothermia, sudden decompression and, of course, Sarin amongst other unpleasantness. Possibly even mentioning all this now, after 30+ years, will have the RN Investigation Branch knocking on my door
seeking to remove me to the Tower or, more likely the RN jail at Portsmouth.

With all the knowledge that remains stuck in my head and a quick look a Wikipedia to see what is the public domain there is something that does not ring true with regards the assumed Sarin attack in Damascus. No one who would seriously use Sarin, classed as a weapon of mass destruction by UN resolution 937, in a penny ante way. There is no tactical or strategic point in doing so because you merely warn the other side who quickly get kitted up in NBCD gear and respirators making it a waste of time. There is also the problem that by using Sarin you let the genie out the bottle and the other side looks to retaliate with a similar weapon but in a far greater volume. That is why I am left thinking there is something odd going on here, there is something that just does not ring true, just like the photo's of 'survivors' which are very unlikely given Sarin in its gaseous form is 50X more toxic than Arsenic and kills in concentrations down to 400 parts per billion as a gas. In effect if you breath in Sarin you are dead. 

The BBC showed what is presumed to be the 'gas warhead' with only its top blown off. The UN inspector is poking it with a gas probe but is wearing neither a respirator nor NBC kit. In some designs of these weapons there is a small reservoir which if the warhead is moved or tampered with will release enough Sarin gas to kill within a 400 metre radius and deny access for anything up to three hours depending on volume, temperature and wind direction. The internal structure of the weapon has to be designed to stop the liquid causing the warhead to wobble during acceleration and ballistic descent. The UN expert appeared to be poking at a flattened tube. Further, given the liquid nature of Sarin, it is more effectively distributed by an air burst at around 50 feet off the ground to increase the spread of the chemical and increase the rate of vapourisation, the Soviets were expected to have deployed Sarin as a spray from ground attack aircraft at around 150 to 200 feet - a form of military crop dusting, if you will.

Something unpleasant has been used - the three hundred dead civilians are proof of that but the assumption immediately by US and UK commentators that is was Sarin leaves me nonplussed, there are other organo-phosphate nerve agents around with lesser toxicity which may explain the small number of deaths in an unprepared target than I would have expected if it was Sarin being used.

The real problem with any gas attack is it is a highly environment effected weapon especially if used, as it is being suggested, in a town environment. You do not just have all the normal meteorological conditions to factor in but also the impact of buildings on gas flow and dispersion, the thermals caused simply by buildings being warm, dew points, local air flow and a whole load of other tactical considerations for effective use of gas.

The CIA / NSA/ GHQ bods know that a dodgy dossier will not cut it this time in the UK and USA; so folk had to die, not too many and in an 'unpleasant manner' but just enough to cause an uproar amongst us decent folks. The UK and US agencies would know full well Assad's regime had a stock pile of gas warheads and it would not be beyond logic to expect these agencies have a 'sleeper' inside the Assad regime's military command - mostly likely Mossad - who could persuade some of Assad's more rogue Air Force commanders that a gas attack would finish off the opposition with the threat of more to come - and hence the demonstration 'attack' just like on Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the same 'moral reason' to save civilian lives.

For all these suppositions and hunches I would request that Liz, Queen of Scots, does not allow the UK Military to be deployed on this new military adventure on behalf of Wall Street, Exxon and General Motors. This has nothing to do with saving civilian lives (in fact it is likely to cost even more civilian lives) and everything to do with the current USA and Russian squabble, by proxy, about who gets what in the Middle East in terms of access to oil and gas reserves. I am not one for tin-foil hat conspiracy theories but this one just stinks, it makes no sense and is an open invitation for the USA to bomb Assad's arse off the face of the planet.

This sovereign Scot's considered will says 'No' to armed intervention in Syria, how say you?

Monday, 26 August 2013

Wings Over Scotland - The Bank's Holiday

A while ago I did some delving, being more interested in the lies spun by the No Campaign to do with the UK's actual legal constitutional basis, and came across the interesting fact that when Eire, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia achieved 'Dominion Status' in 1937, which is independence / Full Fiscal Autonomy in all but a few minor respects, they were required by the 1937 Act to take on a proportional share of the British Empire's debt and repay it.

The first thing each of these Dominions did on gaining 'independence' was to tell the British Empire Treasury and Bank of England where they could stick their 'debt' repayments as they would not be getting a cent.

Now having run my own business the basic figures in the relationship between the British Empire Treasury and Scotland shows at no time since the mid 50's has Scotland done anything less than pay its own way. The figures indicate that since the early 60's Scotland has been in a position of continuous surplus in its relationship with the British Empire Treasury.

Since Holyrood started up the Scots have had to balance the books given the 'pocket money' they receive, a sum that has been shown time and time again to be less than Scotland's contributions, made worse by the reality only a small amount of Scotland's pocket money ever leaves Westminster, given the high level of deductions for UK 'benefits' we never see.

While I see the point of a proportional share of the bank bail out, in line with international responsibilities for banking (even though we were powerless to regulate said banks) I have a big problem accepting we have any responsibility for the massive public structural debt run up to save Westminster Government and politician's skins as a result of their own failures of financial regulation, oversight and their continued pursuit of the discredited economic creed of neo-liberal austerity.

Scotland entered the Union in 1706 with no Government debt and a fiscal surplus. The Union caused the collapse of a rapidly growing Scottish economy, courtesy of England's war with France removing trading partners under French control. A blight the Scottish economy did not see any recovery from until the mid 1780's, has never seen the equivalent economic growth at any point since then and yet has for the last 6 decades, if not longer, has paid its own way.

This being the case just why does an independent Scotland have to take on any of the share of a structural debt run up by the Bank of England and the City of London through the Ponzi scam of 'selling UK Government debt' over the last six years?

See Wings Over Scotland : The Bank's Holiday

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Austerity has failed, the UK is bankrupt ....

Serendipity is an interesting concept, as well as being nice to say out loud. The word 'serendipity' has about it a sense of optimism, hope, excitement; a chance discovery which intrigues and delights but not this time.

A friend in the US sent me an article on Facebook about the mini-meltdown of the Republican Party in Maine. Apparently 13 of its most active and most conservative members have resigned on mass because the Republican Party is ignoring its fund raising membership and acting unconstitutionally. The article itself is interesting as it demonstrates just how insular Republican voting conservatives are in Maine. One of their gripes was under a new FDA and USDA Agency law they can no longer sell unpasteurised milk to their 'Homies' reflecting the UK conservatives worries about the right bend of a cucumber, or what happens to straight bananas for sale under EU regulations. The headline which caught my eye was banner advert:  'The End of Britain'.

Thinking it would be about the independence debate I serendipitously clink on the link. For those who want the detail to the potential fiscal end of the City of London, the collapse of sterling and the impact that will have follow the link. 

In a nutshell the article sets out a detailed argument as why 'austerity' has done far more damage to the UK economy than any other measure in the last 100 years. It makes clear the UK Government's predilection to running up debt over the last 50 years and how UK Government failing to alter this course has the UK where it is now, running the third largest public debt in the world just behind Japan and not far from surpassing Ireland.

Austerity has not improved the situation, it has actually exponentially accelerated UK public debt while acting as a drag on sales of manufactured goods, investment, employment and growth. This appears to confirm that it is Scottish Export exchange earnings and growth which are by and large stopping investors from 'doing a runner' from sterling and for sterling to lose 40+% if Scotland shifts to fixing the £Scots against the petro-dollar on independence, can only indicate a massive collapse in the value of sterling.

The team at Money Week has a good track record on getting the forecast of the world economic weather right and are happy to take the bashing they get from more traditional economic commentary about their 'scare stories'. Even though the article turns into a bit of a sales 'puff' at the end, the hard figures in the lead part of the argument, on the UK's bankruptcy, are hard to avoid while the same arguments make a lot of sense as to why many corporates in the UK are sitting on big wads of cash which they are not willing to invest in new plant or product in England while working out and planning where to invest it the same money outside Sterling. It is clear the UK Corporations are concerned their Sterling holdings will be further devalued on a 'Yes' vote.

All this was predicted in the McCrone report. Sterling falling in value against a free floating/ petro-dollar £Scots, the Scottish economy building a rapid cash surplus, investors moving money north from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow for better returns, corporate HQ's moving north to set up in Scotland - in general McCrone forecast an emptying of Sterling's coffers and the City of London financial business without an independent Scotland within the Sterling zone of currencies, including the loss of dollar and other currency business trading to Sterling as the new £Scots took all the oil and gas, whiskey and now renewables business money exchange north. This growing financial UK disaster would also explain why hardened Scottish Tory donors are now openly saying 'Yes', they also sense which way the fiscal winds are blowing and see independenece as the best way to protect themselves from the growing sterling 'shit storm'.

If even 50% of Money Week's economic claims pan out, then the break up of the UK means financial disaster for England, the City of London and the electorate of England is teetering on the cliff edge. Is it any wonder, then, the political class at Westminster are fighting tooth and nail to ensure a 'No' vote in September 2014, they fear the run will start on the City of London and Sterling if the 19th of September delivers a 'Yes', given all their 'puff' about throwing the £Scots out of the Sterling zone.

The prediction for the UK economy within the next five years by Money Week suggests for the good of Scotland's financial health, if for no other reason, it is time to get out of the Union.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Micheal Moore, Scotland and NATO ....

Many will have heard of or read the Micheal Moore's mystical, crystal ball view of an independent Scotland's membership of NATO being denied if we kick Trident into touch. Some may have read and laughed aloud at Severin Carrell's self promoting bull in the Guardian on this matter, loquating over what Micheal Moore may or may not have been told by 'officials' in NATO's Brussels's HQ about denying an independent Scotland's entry to NATO if we boot Trident out of Scotland - if we decide to ask to join.

The 'Yes' Campaign is bound together by one major international issue: the removal of all nuclear weapons from Scotland. The SNP's change of heart over NATO, at its conference at Perth in October 2012, was only passed on the condition that no nuclear weapons of any NATO country would be allowed to be deployed on sovereign Scottish Territory and all current nuclear weapons were removed.

Mr Moore claims you can not be in NATO without agreeing to have nuclear weapons on your territory. This is strange because the Pentagon has accepted the deployment of nuclear weapons by the USA to EU NATO members is politically untenable and operationally dangerous, given Europe's electorates anti-nuclear weapon stance. According to the 2012 'Ploughshare Report', by US nuclear scientists, all Europe based US nuclear weapons are in the process of being repatriated and by now the only Northern European Country in which they may remain is Germany, whose Foreign Minister is putting heavy pressure on the Pentagon via NATO to have removed completely. There are now estimated to be less than 20 US weapons remaining in Italy. No where else in Europe are US (aka NATO) nuclear weapons being actively deployed, or seeking to be deployed - the reverse is true.

Spain, Norway and Denmark's membership of NATO is marked by their refusal to store, stage or deploy NATO nuclear weapons in their waters or on their shores. Thus the precedent is already in place for stipulating a non-nuclear status as a condition of NATO membership. As noted Belgium, Holland and Germany have already forced the removal of the same weapons and are seeking to be nuclear weapon free members as is Italy. This leaves you just wondering who Micheal Moore's source in Brussels is and on which planet they live?

Here's the questions I would like to ask the UK Defence Secretary:

1. Given the Penatgon has made clear to the current UK Government, via NATO, they would prefer the UK to abandon their Trident replacement program and rebuild their conventional forces - why are you persisting with the Trident replacement program?

2. Currently the degree of RN overstretch means for the last five years we have not contributed any ships of any type to Standing Naval Force (Atlantic) which is key to NATO's early response to a surface threat at sea against NATO; given our island economy is reliant on the sea for exports and imports is this a sensible approach in terms of the UK's overall economic security?

3. Why are we reliant on P30 Orions from Eire, Iceland, Norway and Denmark to provide our maritime surveillance capability after the poor decision made about the Nimrod update on which £1 billion had already been squandered - just whose great idea was that on either account?

4. What is the point of deploying Typhoon aircraft which have limited endurance, bomb load and were not designed for ground attack or anti-shipping roles to Lossiemouth. A decision up there with getting rid of the Nimrod's without replacement. It would have made sense to deploy the multi-role RN/RAF Harrier Squadron which could actually fulfill that role but you sold them for their scrap value to the US Marine Corps. Which total numpty made that brain dead decision in the MoD?

5. Given the importance of the Scottish sector North Sea oil and gas fields and their expansion into the North Atlantic to the UK economy why is there no deployment of an armed RN ship to either Rosyth or Faslane on a regular basis and the current protection is provided by a couple of unarmed OPV's of the Coastguard and Fishery Protection Agencies?

The way I see it, a properly balanced Scottish Defence Force, after independence, will provide better all round support to NATO than the UK currently manages with its Trident fixation; so why would NATO not wish Scotland to be a fully participating member - given the hash the MoD has and continues to make of things?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

And suddenly ... nothing happened

Professor Berwick has no doubt been paid a lot of money for this report on NHS England's failings but all he is saying is exactly what was said in 1998 after the Bristol Royal Infirmary inquiry. 

Sir Liam Donaldson (Chief Medical Officer) by 2000 had a detailed plan to implement changes in NHS managerial and management practice but it was blocked by the Government of the day (because they would not be able to duck responsibility for failings), the medical vested interests (because it reduced their power significantly) and the NHS managers because it would put an end to their empire building.

Instead NHS England got a whole load of Quangos which did little for patient care and a lot to retain vested interests, the empires and Government ability to duck the issue of accountability.

How do I know?

I was at the meeting of QA health sector specialists at Harrogate in 2000 where Sir Liam Donaldson outlined his plan for reform and told the UK QA industry that our input would be vital to implementing his systematic reforms of NHS England based on established, internationally recognised and effective QA process management models. The QA industry watched with horror, but little surprise, as the Government, NHS vested interests and empire builders said they could manage without any outside help and proceeded to side line Sir Liam Donaldson's original plan as 'unworkable'.

The solution to raising standards of care and delivery in NHS across the UK remains the same, as does the effective solution to its ineffective and stultifying management systems. There is no political will to make these effective changes because the last thing UK Government wants is to be able to be held responsible for the impact of politically driven reform, its routinely negative impact on patient care and its failure to identify and address patients' core needs and expectations of the NHS.

While Nicola Sturgeon achieved a lot while health minister she was working within a system that continued and continues to protect vested interests and NHS Scotland empires. There remains a lot of core problems within NHS Scotland's management systems and their inability to establish accountability for problems so they can be resolved quickly in the patient's interest and improve quality of care.

The QA industry calculated that implementation of the program set out by Sir Liam Donaldson in 2000 would reduce NHS pay outs for 'no fault' compensation and litigation by 80%. Think about it: for every £100,000 NHS Scotland currently pays out in costs and compensation £80,000 would stay in the pool for care. In 2011 -12 the NHS in Scotland was estimated to have paid out over £55 million in compensation and litigation costs. The failure to implement real reform in the management of NHS Scotland meant that £44 million was paid out in 2011-12 that could have been used for patient care.

Maybe we should not be so smug about our NHS Scotland. Yes, we still have a recognisable NHS service in Scotland, true (ish) to the original plan laid out by Beveridge in 1942 but it still needs root and branch reform of its management practices to make it fit for purpose in the new century and a soon to be independent Scotland.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

More ferrets fights in the Labour sack?

Milliband's leadership is under fire trumpets the Independent .... hardly news especially when it is based on the rumblings of Prof Curtis' most recent poll of polls nor Prof Curtis' known friendliness towards the Blairites inside Labour. Ex-Blairite ministers are belabouring Milliband's inability to come up with a cogent strategy they can 'sell' to the electorate, there is a policy vacuum within Labour.

It seems there is a civil war going on inside Nu Blu Labour over who is going to pull Moribund's chain between the party funders - the Unions - and the Blairites such as Murphy, Alexander et al - in amongst all of this the remaining Brownites, like Balls, remain ominously silent.

So far the Blairites have driven policy to the right but it is now at a point where even the Unions can not swallow the 'message' anymore. The Unions are in the pooh because they can no longer justify funding a Labour Party that is as capitalist as the Tories, to their membership of whom less than 37% are Labour voters.

Moribund has betrayed his Union backers (in their eyes) and so the Unions are seeking to pack CLP's with Trade Unionists to get Union candidates on the roster for Westminster. the Blairites control the central party apparatus and use that to block the Unions's candidates - as seen in the Battle of Falkirk.

Milliband's problem is he is seen as a 'nowhere man' by a large chunk of the electorate as demonstrated by his highly negative 'effective leadership' figures - even amongst Labour supporters - and has nothing to do with his supposed antecedents and everything to do with his inability to address the actual issues that are wrecking the UK from the privatisation and sell off of the NHS in England to the increasing likelihood the Yes vote is going to win in Scotland, taking with it 40+ MP's and umpteen lardships from the Westminster Labour cause.

Logic suggests that Ball's Brownite faction are waiting for the Blairites and Unions to rip each other to bits then pick up the pieces sans Moribund. With all this going on is it any surprise Labour can not fight their way out of a wet paper bag to engage against a Tory economic plan they would simply follow anyway or a 'Yes Campaign' which actually stands for old Scottish Labour values?

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Wistfull thinking ...

There must be some link between golf and philosophy as I routinely finding myself pondering the big questions after a round of golf. Walking back to the house today I started thinking about my Buddhist way of being and compared it with my training as a Methodist Lay Preacher and why that training lead me to the conclusion there is not a God.

It comes down to this statement of what Jesus actually said in Mark. Mark is looked upon as one of the most accurate record of what Jesus actually said due to being the earliest recorded in Sanskrit and Greek of all the gospels. When challenged about his proclaimed 'New Covenant' which was to replace the 'Old Covenant', by Rabbinical Scholars Mark has Jesus defining the 'New Covenant' as to love your God with all your strength and all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself. There is scholarly argument as to whether the sentence in Sanskrit version means 'this is' or 'that is' the 'New Covenant'. There has been much blood spilled over the millennium or so since the Council of Antioch because of the difference between 'this is' which leaves much philosophical wiggle room and 'that is' which leaves no wiggle room at all. The other big problem for the Romanised, fit for Empire, Christianity that came out of the Council of Antioch completely ignored the concept of the 'New Covenant' being about the individual commitment and how the individual conducted themselves in terms of the requirement to love your neighbour as yourself. The last thing the Roman Empire wanted was a church that sanctioned the individual as the arbiter of right and wrong, based on their own moral concept of how they would wish to be treated and their acceptance of all their own faults as being their own responsibility, before judging others. The Roman Empire needed a religion which reflected the misogynistic laws of Empire and the need to 'render unto Ceasar'. The Council of Antioch ensured the Roman Empire got just exactly what it wanted and needed in terms of a new state religion along with their reward of increased power and control over the 'faithful' and direct influence on the state.

500 years before Mark recorded the words of 'Jesus' Siddatta Gotama wrote that to become Buddha or enlightened the first 'siskapada' or step was for you to lose all attachments and to have compassion, love and empathy for all living things, certainly a step or two further on from 'love your neighbour as yourself' but an intrinsically parallel philosophical thought and moral imperative. This is also where there are, to me, parallels with the 'New Covenant' with Mark's record saying it was about giving up on all the old past truths and rights, all whittled down to simply loving God, your neighbour and yourself, in other words lose all your past attachments and start a new. This all leaves me pondering whether the historical 'Jesus' was actually a Buddhist monk or philosopher.

If you look at any set of religious schisms they all come down to the inability of one group or another to be bale to let go their attachment to their particular safety blanket be it in the Old or New Testament, their interpretation of the Koran or whether Buddhists need to believe in a God or not to be Buddhists which God or Gods that should be and surely a belief in God must be a form of attachment and therefore let go of. A current expression of the lunacy of unthinking attachment to a translation of a version of events which has, over the millennia, been heavily redacted to fit the political needs of past times, is seen in the rise of the extreme, right wing Christianity in the USA seen at its worst in the activities of the 'Westboro' Baptist Church or the rampant 'Christian Right' misogyny seen in action in the Texas Capitol - love your neighbour as yourself; you have got to be joking.

Here is the problem with 'attachment' it gets in the way of love, compassion and empathy. It is the cause of most hatred and division in the world, it lets in anger and fear because most people are unable to let go of what they are attached to no matter how good or bad it makes their life. Anger and fear leave no space for compassion or empathy and certainly no space for love. In the west most folk see a strong attachment to a form of religious belief or national belief or political belief as empowering and important yet the reality is the opposite is true and these attachments get in the way of meaningful peaceful resolution - Northern Ireland remains a case in point.

In Scotland the anger and fear behind the 'Better Together' campaign is palpable it can only exist as part of a British state run by Westminster. The problem for 'Better Together' is they have no space for compassion or empathy with the wishes of the Scottish people for greater autonomy where as the 'Yes Campaign' has in spades. As a result the Yes Campaign has no need for anger or fear and finds it easier to change people's minds to their cause. Both campaigns have an attachment to Scotland but the Yes Campaign's is one that is open and not constricted by attachments to ancient shibboleths, 'aye beens' and inflexibility as highlighted by Tam Daziel's outburst in today's Sunday Times.

Just think, how many people have you made friends with because they were angry and fearful rather than open, loving and compassionate?