Friday, 27 February 2015

The Record's Stuck ..

Oh! The joys of vinyl recordings when some idiot mishandled them, gouged the record and caused the stylus head to jump back to replay the same segment time and time again.

Having listened to and read about Labour and Tory politicians comments with respect to the May 2015 General Election I am forced to come to the conclusion their 'Scotch Tunes' record's badly damaged and constantly jumping back to last year's message.

"The SNP are bad, mad and dangerous to know; just don't do it Scotland, you'll be sorry."

Take Ed Ball's whistle stop tour to Scotland, pretending he was Jim Murphy's 'bestest' pal amongst other fallacies, urging Scotland to vote Labour to keep the Tories out was highlighted in the Scottish media as Ed Ball's almost says, but not quite, no to any sort of agreement with the SNP before the May results are known. A sort of tabloid acclamation of Ed Balls supposed "Ils non passeron pas!" moment with out the 'non' bit appearing anywhere in Mr Balls' actual statement.

Then there is the current hyperbole of Trinity Mirror Group's 'Scotch' paper (published and printed in Manchester) trying to claim a website, run by one bloke, is seeking to destroy not just the life of the nurse, who might or not be an actor in her spare time, who appears contrary to NHS Scotland's contract requirements wearing a  NHS Scotland uniform logo in a Labour - we are going to save the NHS, honest - flyer but also the Scottish media. The crime was the Wings over Scotland web site pointing out the incredible similarity between an actress used on previous Labour flyers as 'an ordinary housewife' with the nurse in question on the current 'Save the NHS' flyer. The Mirror Group are even more pissed off with Wings over Scotland as the web site's owner complained to IPSO that the Daily Record was guilty of lying to the Scottish Public with respect to the newspaper's claims the 'Vow' had been fully met by the Unionists, along with a whole load of misinformation at severe variation to the truth. The Daily Record has been forced to print a retraction and an apology for the misinformation in their 'article' on the success of the 'Vow' while continuing to make claims for Jim Murphy's successes over the Scottish Parliament and SNP since becoming 'Leader' that have an air of 'Alice Through the Looking Glass' fantasy and do not bear up to any objective scrutiny of what actually is. The Record's stuck in a fantasy Scotland which only exists in the minds of its editorial staff and Labour's 'Scotch' region's campaign management team - which may or may not be one and the same thing.

In the mean time Scotland's Tories are trying to tell the Scottish electorate that a vote for the SNP lets Labour in, with the subliminal message that the UK (aka England) can not afford to continue to subsidise Scotland, as it does so selflessly at present, and thus the election of a majority of SNP MPs from Scotland will be a total disaster for Scotland. If you pause for a minute and think, you will find an air of 'dejavu' washes over you, you know you have heard this message before; but when?

What about the Libdems? Well, apart from the growing reality we can almost ignore them in Scotland, what about them?

In the background are all the political pundits with their crystal balls, swingometers, chakras and pieces of seaweed, prognosticating and chanting as they seek to unfathom the unfathomable by untangling the latest words from the Oracle of Strathclyde, the psethic and soothsayer Curtisathon. Curtisathon sits in his Strathclyde ivory tower chewing bay leaves, halucinating about the loss of his appearance fees from BBC Scotland as even he can not gainsay what is happening on the streets of Scotland. If I understand the interpretation of the latest pronouncement from the Oracle of Strathclyde correctly is; if Scotland votes for Labour then more Tories will be returned as Scottish MPs. It appears the Oracle is saying to Scotland, 'Vote Labour, get even more Tories'.

This is strange because it now appears the Oracle of Strathclyde is now supporting the SNP's long standing claim that voting Labour just gets even more Tories at Westminster. The world has truly turned upside down.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

An open letter to all PPCs.

Dear Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, 

In the light of Operation Yew Tree I understand that Police Scotland are re-opening a number of lines of inquiry regarding the activities of paedophiles in Scotland.

This will inevitably bring to the surface the allegations against the late Nicholas Fairbairn and his involvement with or assistance in covering up the Scottish Group of ‘High Status’ British Establishment paedophiles operating in Edinburgh and Glasgow in the 1970’s and early 80’s who went under the name of the ‘Untouchables’.

I trust Police Scotland have interviewed John Cowan, recently imprisoned by a London Court for his own paedophilic activities in the London and Essex area yet the issue of his procuring children for others to abuse was never contested. It is known that John Cowan was active in Edinburgh and the Lothians in the 1970’s and apparently boasted of how well protected he was by ‘friends’ in high places who he ‘helped’.

John Allen, who was at the centre of the Bryn Estyn Homes paedophile ring, has also recently been imprisoned for his own activities even though David Parry of the North Wales Council who commissioned the Jillings Report in 1994 on the Bryn Estyn scandal is on record as stating the report showed that John Allen was not just abusing children, he was procuring children to be abused by others including the Dolphin Square ring. There was also evidence of young people being exported to Amsterdam, from Bryn Estyn for paedophile activities via Dolphin Square. None of this was addressed by the English CPS in John Allen’s recent case before the Crown Court. The 1994 Jillings Report has never been published in an unredacted form and all requests of the Home Office to do so have been refused.

The campaign which exposed Jimmy Saville’s involvement in a paedophile ring in Scarborough, a ring which included local councillors, officers and businessmen, has faced and continues to face an unremitted barrage of harassment by the North Yorkshire Police ever since it started publishing its evidence of a cover up of local paedophile activities via its web site, articles which have also featured regularly in Private Eye reports on the issue of establishment paedophile rings. North Yorkshire Police have recently been advised by the Police Commissioners that their current and historic practices relating to the investigation, recording and prioritisation of claims of paedophilic abuse were flawed and badly managed.

In the light of the new allegations that Willie MacRae was murdered in the 1980’s by the British Establishment to prevent him from exposing the ‘Untouchables’ this is an issue Police Scotland should investigate as a high priority, given the serious allegations against the British Establishment this failure to prosecute the likes of John Allen or John Cowan for procuring children for others (including members of the Palace of Westminster in Dolphin Square and at other addresses) to abuse, raises.

Respect for politicians in the UK Parliament is at an all time low as evidence of illegitimate expense claims, bungs, money for access, general malfeasance and corruption especially amongst senior and supposedly ‘respected’ UK parliamentarians coupled with the continuing institutional cover up and acceptance of these activities which is now public knowledge.  Yet all this pales into insignificance when compared to the longstanding cover up of illegal paedophile activities by Lords, MPs and others at the Palace of Westminster, a cover up apparently set in motion in the 1980’s by Margaret Thatcher to protect the standing of the UK Parliament with the UK electorate against the activities of a ‘few’, according to Norman Tebbitt in a recent television interview.

If we are going to be stuck with this Union for some time to come, it is time to clear out the Augean Stables at its heart. A start will be bring to an immediate end the decades of cover ups on the issue of Dolphin Square, the Palace of Westminster and paedophilia, no matter the consequences for the reputations of those who have died or are still alive. It is time to place the unredacted 1994 Jillings Report into the public domain and let justice be done, no matter the consequences for the British Establishment.

Yours faithfully

Monday, 23 February 2015

Young Voters ... Lordy, Lordy ...

The experience post the September referendum in Scotland is very different to that portrayed in this article in the Independent.  

There is now a large, politically informed and active group of teenagers in Scotland directly involved in the run up to the May 2015 elections. Of course as most of these young people, in Scotland, are engaged in SNP canvassing, social media presence and campaign support they will not count in this weird London centric, binary, Westminster politic, on its last legs and which the London centric journalists and media can not see past.

Rather than dismissing the idea of 40+ SNP MPs after May 2015 it is about time articles were written in then 'British' media about the constitutional impact of such a SNP presence on the UK Parliamentary Union's present 'Buggins turn' politic. The main problem for the fudge which is the UK 'constitution' is 40+ SNP MPs will now reflect the 'considered will of the people of Scotland' at Westminster, without which no Westminster bill effecting Scotland can pass into law or statute in Scotland.

Maybe informed young folk, in Scotland, can see an end to the corrupt, inward looking politics of Westminster that have long benighted the UK and Scotland in particular. Situations where Labour Party members are too busy fighting among themselves for a share of the cash and jobs to remember what they are actually elected to do, as is happening in North Lanarkshire Council. Where Labour campaign brains are posting articles as to why Labour voters should vote Tory or Libdem in Scottish seats as the chair of Labour's East Lothian Constituency Party has this weekend.

All this before Mr Murphy's constituency web site removed all pages related to his known support of continuing austerity, privatisation of the NHS, Trident and suffered the embarrassment of his co-ordinated attack, with his number 2 Deputy Dawg in the Scottish Parliament, on Scotland's NHS shown to be a whole load of lies as Labour's campaign bent the actual figures on A&E performance to a singularity which imploded back on them.

Young people are engaged in Scotland because they sense change is on the way as the traditional 'British' parties turn in on themselves, in Scotland. They see Ms Sturgeon as a politician of proven integrity, shared values, social conscience and relate easily to her - where is such a politician in England?

Jack Straw, Malcolm Rifkind, Cameron, Miliband, Clegg, Farage, Harman, McVey, Duncan-Smith ...

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Life is like an ash tray - full of little doubts ....

Governments / religions need to pigeon hole people to keep us under control by manipulating one or more groups against the others - immigrants, poor, disabled, homosexual, unemployed, travelers, separatists are all labels designed to allow governments to do what ever the 'F' they want behind a wall of ignorant indignation of the populous, generated by government media plants or religious hue and cry.

This stops working when events like the 'Yes Campaign' comes along and large numbers of folk remember they are first and foremost human, their differences are small in relation to their common cause, so compassion and empathy for others become their norm.

I may think 'Orange Tommy's' politics are too Marxist for my taste but during the Yes Campaign he showed he has compassion and empathy in spade loads and I respect him for that as a person.

Then we come to Jim Murphy's latest big idea to shore up the Labour vote in: both the east and west end of Glasgow:

"Former Celtic player and manager Billy McNeill and Rangers counterpart John Greig are "one step closer" to knighthoods, according to Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy after Prime Minister David Cameron passed his request to the Honours and Appointments Secretariat, who oversee the UK's honours system. (Sunday Mail)"

Now I always thought, unlike the stages of getting someone made a saint, the 'honours' process was supposed to be confidential, 'eyes only' until the awards were announced by Queenie Beanie - just like the Oscars. Yet here is Mr Murphy announcing the beatification of Messers McNeill and Greig in stating Mr Cameron has passed on their names to the civil service equivalent of the College of Cardinals.

I wonder, if I lived in the east or west ends of Glasgow, would this pre-announcement of the beatification of Grieg and McNeill attract me back to voting Labour while still living in conditions of modern poverty and neglect which saw my father dead by the age of 57, my mother battered to bits every Saturday night if Celtic did not win while me and my two brothers have no education and have been unemployed since the day we left school.

Yes, I am certain knowing Jim Murphy has made John and Billy a 'Sir' by handing Cameron a 'Glasgow Labour brown envelope', of some shape or form, would really do it for me and I am sure you will all agree with me and vote Labour in May 2015 as a result of Jim's generosity.

Friday, 20 February 2015

De Rushin's r cumin; massa ...

All of a sudden routine reconnaissance patrols by Tupolev, TU 96, turbo-prop maritime reconnaissance aircraft (NATO designation 'Bear') are meant to be a 'threat' to the UK according to hysterical UK politicians, ramped up by the UK's hyperbolic press and media to a near warlike fervour. UFO's turning up over the Bay of Biscay could not expect the levels of exposure in the UK media this routine, long range patrol by a Russian aircraft has generated. According to that highly knowledgeable chap Lord Ellonvalley Tragedy this situation is exactly why we need enough nuclear weapons to send Scotland back to the stone age and why they need to be stored at Coulport.

This raises the question of Trident's military use as a surface to air missile and the effectiveness of the current UK designed MIRV nuclear warhead dispenser in shooting down a 'Bear' over the Bay of Biscay. Answers please on how this works (or possibly fails miserably) in words of not more than two syllables so as not to confuse his Lardship. Do try to avoid any logical or  factual evidence as his Lardship is unable to comprehend such strange constructs as 'objective evidence' which challenges his Lardship's Unionist position as a world renowned defence 'guru' and 'transcendental' being or stuff like the following which can be found openly circulating in UK and NATO military circles.

NATO (in the form of the USA) would be happy for the UK to go non-nuclear for the simple reason the costs of running this weapon system would be released to enable the UK's conventional forces to be adequately funded and 'balanced' so they can once again be an effective part of NATO.

Norway is pretty fed up that the RAF can not fulfill its maritime surveillance role which is causing overstretch amongst its P3 Orion crews. The RN has not met its commitments to STAVNAVFORLANT since 2009 and the current UK Army is not big enough to be rated as a NATO Division, let alone a stand alone army, on current manpower and equipment levels.

In other words, Westminster's fascination with all things 'Trident' has and is weakening the real defence needs of the UK and causing the Armed Forces to fail to meet longstanding commitments and obligations to NATO. Let alone the overstretch and increasing penury of the UK's Armed Forces caused by blindly following the USA's military adventures across the world.

We have two carriers which have no planes and are unlikely to see any combat aircraft much before 2025, on present F35 VSTOL provision time tables, because the Tories sold off the (then) recently refurbished GR8 Harrier Fleet, on the cheap, to the US Marine Corps in 2010. Even if they did have aircraft they could not put to sea because the surface vessels needed to protect them from air and submarine threats have been delayed. In the case of the Type 45 Destroyer orders have been 'slowed' to a standstill and the Type 26 Frigate build start has now been set back to 2017 at the earliest. The RN currently has no surface vessels with effective combat capability north of Plymouth or on any regular patrol around the UK coastline. The new Astute class attack submarines are not exactly setting the heather alight in terms of performance or reliability, either.

The RAF now have the 'new' Typhoon interceptors, around 32 front line, split between Lossiemouth and Conningsbury. The remaining combat capable RAF Tornado bombers are held together with gaffer tape and parts cannibalised from other Tornado aircraft deemed unfit for flight. The word from the boots on the ground is the RAF have 10 serviceable Tornado bomber aircraft left, all currently flying out of Cyprus on missions against ISIS. If the Russian Northern Fleet from Murmansk steamed down the North Sea, tomorrow, all the UK Armed Forces could effectively do is wave as they went by in the hope the Russian's did not turn nasty and do something rash, such as attack us.

The really scary thing is a Yes vote in September 2014 would have ensured by 2020 the new Scottish Defence Force would have been in a better state to protect our shores with an appropriate mix of aircraft and sea vessels. In other words a defence force balanced to meet Scotland's primary needs as a nation highly dependent on the security of its national waters and to meet any NATO or UN commitments which had been negotiated and agreed. A situation which the present, failed UK Defence Policy, strangled by 'Trident', can never provide for Scotland.

So if 'De Rushins r cumin, massa' as the likes of Lord Ellonvalley Tragedy are now trying to make us believe, it is time to learn the 'Red Flag', lots of Robbie Burns poetry and songs, a few useful Russian phrases while hiding your malt whisky and substituting it with rubbing alcohol for your new 'Tovarishch' consumption because that will be your best and only defence.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Silence of the Bams

"You have to share a truth Jim. That's the game. A truth for a truth."

Hannibal Electorate drawled in his best Morningside accent, one which churned and grated at Jim's very soul because it was the accent he wished he would have been born with. The whinny of a Rifkind, backed by a Watsonian assurance, an Oxbridge education and a lot of hard cash. This was a being who knew instinctively the difference between what is rather than what Jim wanted it to be.

"If you want to know, what you want to know and if you want our vote, Jim, a truth for a truth, or no deal."

"Well slept in a drawer when I wis a wain.." Jim recoiled at his clumsy way of speech, its mock Gallogate intonation, the fractured vowels, the guttural consonants, the glottal stops he attributed to his 'workin' man' persona.

"Jim, you know that is not true, Mr McTernan told you to say that to make a connection. There is no evidence you ever inhabited a single - end, let alone a drawer." Hannibal Electorate took a whispered inhalation through the lips, like that of a master sommelier while saying, "Try me with another one."

"There's aa thon folks waitin fir yonks at A&E and ithers cannae git thir corns sort'd." Jim sensed his oxters dampening and that cold trickle down his back into his bum crack, "That 's a fact - I got that ane frae the Freedom of Information folkie...."

"Jim, you understand the term 'pull the other one, it has bells on it' do you not?" Hannibal Electorate's patience was beginning to run thin, there was an increasing chill in the air. Jim pulled the collar of his John Motson (TM) sheep skin coat up around his ears.

" If you vote SNP you'll get a Tory Government - that's a dead cert .." Jim was struggling now, he had believed he knew the secret to get Hannibal Electorate on his side. The I am one of you card, the NHS shroud waving and the threatened haunting by Margaret Thatcher - it had worked before, it had always worked, it never failed.

"Jim, Jim, Jim. I can smell your cheap aftershave from here and coupled with your increasingly sweaty oxters it is not a pleasant aroma. You have nothing but fear and dissembling to offer me. Even though you will not play the game and continue to conflate, insinuate and lie, I will play the game. I will tell you the truth. The biggest fear you carry is you will be the man who will see the back benches at Westminster empty of Labour's Scottish sheep.

You dread being responsible for the silencing of the Bams. 

You hear that silence every night in your nightmares,
don't you Jim?" Hannibal turned his back on Jim and walked away.

Jim was left sitting in a pool of light, sweating heavily, Hannibal Electorate had got to him. He could hear Hannibal Electorate's feet sliding off across the floor ever farther away, ever further from view into a corner where he knew he could not follow because he did not know how to play the new game in Scotland.

He waved to McTernan, to come and get him out of here. McTernan shook his head, Jim had made his own jail of lies and was now trapped in it. McTernan was going to seal up the door and thicken the walls. McTernan would avoid the blame for the ever more likely cull of Labour's Scotch MPs, just as he always did, by blaming everyone else for his own failure.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Revenge, ae dish best supt cauld ..

When the dust settles all this screaming and hyperbole from the Labour MP’s in Scotland’s accounting unit,  refusing to work with the SNP in any shape or form, may well be for naught as the majority will be in receipt of their P45’s from the Scottish Electorate and Miliband, as Labour's only leader, will make the decision based purely on his own narrow political advantage along with the needs and expectations of his corporate funders and backers.

Westminster politics is now so skewed by the international corporate lobby and the corrupt party funding systems they feed, the reality is Miliband will simply do what he is told to do by his main financial backers whether it reflects the UK  electorates’ declared wishes, the Labour manifesto or not.

Westminster general elections are now about legitimising the political power held in the hands of the few, for the benefit of the few while the real cost of this ever more focused core of power is bourne by the disproportionately poorest of the UK electorate.

The difference between the goings on in the Chinese Communist Government and the UK Westminster Parliament, in the 21st Century are now minimal. 

To be leader / a minster in either system requires the ability to offer fiscal and political bribes, patrimony, brown nosing and gain support from the ‘right’ people, who will offer you nice juicy directorships (back handers) for doing their bidding, no matter if the policy being put forward may lead to mini-earthquakes, sink holes, polluted water tables, increased radon release and the physical and environmental destruction of peoples’ homes and the UK’s National Parks by fracking, for example. If you do not do as you are told by your backers you are out and a politician who will do what they are told is in.

If we wish to change the direction of this overweening Westminster supertanker of corporate and political corruption then we need to stay calm and work our socks off to ensure as many Labour MP’s in Scotland are removed from office as possible in May 2015.

Getting angry is a waste of effort – getting even; that is worth committing to.

We live in interesting times.

Monday, 9 February 2015

The bank who likes to say 'Yes'.

So it is being alleged that HSBC helps its clients to tax dodge, or issues over outstanding loans made by HSBC to the Labour Party; yet why is there any real surprise when the sordid history of HSBC is openly available to all with a little internet research.

In short HSBC's original role was to launder opium income on behalf of Jardine Matheson and other importers of the drug into China. These companies then bankrolled the Chinese Triad gang lords they created and controlled to protect and deal in said opium, funded via the HSBC.

Apparently HSBC and its backers in Jardine Matheson, Sutherlands, Lehmann's, Rothschilds, P&O and other 19th century opium importers and Chinese forced labour exporters to the USA and Australia (it is where the term to be 'Shanghaied' comes from) put up the money to back Chiang Kai Shek (who was a boss in the Triads) as ruler of China from 1927 onwards, via HSBC. In 1921 Ghandi was jailed in India, by the British Raj, for opposing the continuing export of Indian grown opium to China on the grounds stopping the 'trade' would undermine India's revenue and trade with China.

HSBC were the conduit through which funds reached the Confederate State during the US Civil War as they laundered the money for the Southern cotton producers from their blockade running activities and gave lines of credit to the 'South'. Then there is the cruel irony of the Rothschilds and Lehmann's gaining even more wealth from illicit HSBC trading in Nazi gold, confiscated from German Jewry in the 1930's and 40's.

As late as the 1970's HSBC was still laundering opium income through Hong Kong to fund and arm the hill tribes in the Vietnam Highlands in their struggle against the Vietnamese Communists, on behalf of the CIA. No doubt HSBC would also have had a role laundering money from Afghan opium for the CIA / MI6 during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the early 1980's to fund Bin Laden and other 'freedom fighters'. HSBC clearly likes to say 'Yes' to barely legal but highly profitable deals which need hushed up. 

HSBC have a long tradition of looking after their client's best interests, they have been helping clients 'tax dodge' and defraud Governments across the globe since the mid 19th Century when the bank was founded - after all, it was part of its original 'raison d'etre'.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

A&E for GP Out of Hours.

Much has been said of the current state of the NHS in Scotland along with the usual political cant over A&E waiting times in Scotland which, while not meeting the Scottish Government standard, are still far superior to those in either NHS England or Wales.
The fundamental problem with the NHS across the UK is it has evolved a top down management system which is not fit for purpose, tied into political demands, lead routinely on very dubious evidence from those shouting the loudest in patient, professional or political lobbying circles, often for a narrow vested interest. Much of the current arguments for the decimation of the NHS in England are based on this narrow political, rather than any patient orientated, interest. The result of these NHS England political demands have repercussions which rebound on the NHS in Scotland historically, operationally and fiscally.
The SNP have de-linked political interference in NHS Scotland to some extent by undoing the previous Lib-Lab coalitions ‘internal market’ farce and PFI scam but there remains an instinctive insistence on top down ‘instruction’ which leads to NHS Scotland’s management’s skewing of actual patient needs and resources to be seen to have achieved these instructions. Throw in the inter departmental ‘games’ played within hospitals when budgets are being agreed and you have all the recipes for a dysfunctional NHS Scotland management where patients actual needs become secondary to personal egos, departmental budgets, influence and future promotion expectations.
It never seems credible to me while the medical professions in the NHS are expected to deliver patient care based on objective evidence and best practice, the funding for this care is often based on ‘political’ hubris, who shouts loudest and media driven hearsay all coupled to unreasonable expectations. Is it any wonder that staff within the NHS feel under excessive stress and while NHS Scotland is better funded than NHS England it still suffers from staff retention problems and high levels of sick days, both of which reflect low staff moral. In any organisation low staff moral is indicative of poor and unresponsive management.

The problems in A&E and GP out of hours care in Scotland are down to the mismanagement of highly dedicated health care professionals by both politicians and NHS management. The roots of this mismanagement lie in the continuing top down approach to resolving the unsustainable expectations placed on a Rolls Royce of a public service by an outmoded command economy style of NHS management, starting with the politicians. The way to resolve these and many other problems in NHS Scotland is by refocusing on the actual clinical need versus the funding available, rather than by the reliance on unsustainable political and public expectation. A good start will be to ask the ‘ordinary’ A&E staff or the local GP’s how to resolve the current problems, as they are more likely to have an effective solution than the vested interests in the Royal Colleges, Universities, BMA, RCN or NHS Management, all seeking to defend their empires.

It is time NHS Scotland sought to reform its management practices and culture both within its politics, administration and clinical delivery otherwise the same core problems which currently beset it will remain, to the continuing detriment of patient care. Throwing funding at a problem is not always the effective option. A start would be to identify patients’ core needs from NHS Scotland and seeking to address these first and always while more effectively managing unreasonable expectations.

You may expect to be seen by a GP on the same day but do you always need to?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Rugby - Six Nations

I have been attending international matches at Murrayfield, on and off, since 1968. I still watch rugby on television and occasionally, when I want to freeze my backside off, my local side Stewartry RFC. Over the years I have seen Scottish Rugby XV's both of startling mediocrity as well as sides brimful of genius and talent.

My early hero was P.C Brown, one of Scotland's finest number 8's who on one occasion headed the ball back to the scrum half from the back of a line out, had a thunderous boot and, unusually for a number 8 took all Scotland's penalties and conversions. Ian Robertson a fly half with a great side step and as fleet of foot as any of his contemporaries John, Spencer or Duckham. Then it was folk like McLaughlin, Carmicheal and Gordon Brown, Andy Irvine, Jim Renwick,  Laidlaw and Rutherford. As the years trundled on it was friends who were now playing for Scotland, the Burnetts Jim and Harry, Finlay and Jim Calder and eventually it was lads who I knew through working with young players such as the Hasting's brothers and David Johnstone. Then flair players like Gregor Townsend.

Today I was out walking the dog, thinking about Scotland's prospects in the six nations when I decided, sadly, Scotland will realistically be competing with Italy for the 'wooden spoon' and it hit me there is not one single player in the current Scottish XV who actually gives me a sense they could be a game changer in the loose like a Fin Calder or with ball in hand like a Robertson, Irvine, Hastings or a Townsend. There is no one player in the current squad who gives me any buzz of expectation or has the potential to do the unexpected.

They will be well drilled, Vern Cotter's sides always are, but they are just work-a-day international players, solid, striving to do their best and yet I can not see any one of them threatening to get into a current world international XV. The Laidlaw and the Redpath families have supplied Scottish scrum halves for the last four decades but to this old fogy Grieg Laidlaw is a pale imitation of his ancestors - solid but lacking the niggle and guile once famously described by Bill McLaren in one of his forebears, "Redpath wriggled through the gap, like a baggie up a burn." 

On Saturday, in Paris, where will the burst of inspiration came from in this Scottish side that will send a high quality French side back, reeling in shock and surprise, just who will be their Gregor Townsend, Kenny Logan or Gary Armstrong and pull the rug from under their feet? 

We will see a Scotland Rugby side striving to the best of its abilities but sadly that will not be enough against France, playing in Paris. Scotland's only hope is an excess of French hubris and over confidence or I am proved wrong, there is more to this Scotland side than meets my eye and somewhere in the spine of this Scottish XV is that ten seconds of magic and genius which can change this sporting conflict in their favour, sending the French XV reeling into confusion, chaos and self destruction.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Labour's Nihilistic Satire

The problem in Scotland is: just how can you continue to be satirical about the Labour Party's 'Scotch' accounting unit when Brown and Murphy are busily successfully satirising it on a daily basis?

In a last gasp attempt to keep Scotland in the Union Gordon Brown offered 'home rule' and 'near federation' and as part of that 'Vow' Cameron, with much grumping and groaning and 'its not fair', gives us the Smith Commission on further devolution to the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.

The Smith Commission is then berated by Gordon Brown for giving the Scottish Parliament too much devolution (aka loosening Labour's grip on its Scotch fiefdom even further) and Labour seek to water down all the recommendations to the point they now verge on the edge of meaningless. The watered down Smith Commission report is published and Labour with much fanfare and decking of Gordon Brown with garlands of poison ivy declare their 'Vow' to Scotland delivered with the publication of a Westminster Command paper which looks neither like the 'home rule' nor 'near federation' Gordon Brown's 'Vow' actually stated.

Today, Labour rehash and recycle Gordon Brown's 'Vow' in the company of Jim Murphy (saviour elect of Labour's Scotch Branch or so Mr Tiernan and BBC Scotland would like journalists to believe) to tell us the 'Vow' is still be to delivered and only a vote for Labour's 'Scotch' accounting unit will ensure it happens.

Yet wait, Gordon and Jim, this is the 'Vow' you claimed had already been delivered, in full, a couple of weeks ago.

Even Private Eye would struggle to satirise this load of old bull shine.