March 2008 Archives

The diagnosis is in

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handknitiphone.jpgApparently I'm not well, so says the American Journal of Psychiatry (quoted in the P&J). I send what might be regarded as excessive texts and emails. I do feel withdrawal when I can't get online. I do also upgrade to newer computers from time to time.

But wait, isn't this called Living In The Modern World? (image from here)
wiglion.jpgSo The Donald (pictured at left) is unhappy at the fact that a public inquiry might take a long time. He has threatened to take the project elsewhere if the inquiry takes too long. Today, too, his representative on earth, George Sorial, one of the most arrogant people ever to appear before a Parliamentary Committee, said:

"Despite the support of the overwhelming majority of local people, there will always be those who have set their faces against this progressive and beneficial project and will refuse to back it. That's their right. But it's crucial that the size of this small but vociferous group of objectors is kept in perspective." (BBC)

In other words, we'll accept any outcome so long as it's what we want. And to hell with the 8000+ petitioners, the 1m+ RSPB members, the community campaigners and the statutory regulator, not to mention the Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group, Buglife, Friends of the Earth Scotland, the John Muir Trust, the Marine Conservation Society, Plantlife, the Ramblers' Association Scotland, the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society, the Scottish Council for National Parks, the Scottish Countryside Rangers' Association, the Scottish Raptor Study Groups, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, and WWF Scotland (pdf).

Sure, that's a small group of objectors. Why should any of their views count when Donald's got the money?

Guilty conscience

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barackhillary.jpgYou'll remember our earlier discussion about Hillary's dubious religious connections with a fascist-loving semi-Christian cult called The Family. Isn't it odd, then, that when she slated Obama today she used this sentence: "You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend"? Where the hell are the US media on this?
canadiangreens.pngI am an election junkie. Being Green gives me a lot of parties elsewhere to cheer on, so well done the Canadian Greens. Four byelections last week, and they scored up to 13.5%, which is excellent for first-past-the-post elections (for a comparison, the indomitable Dr Bartos got a respectable 12% in Glasgow Kelvin last time). This is the sort of headline I like.

Cameron goes the wrong way

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cameronhusky.jpgAs you might imagine, "Dave" Cameron's photo-op deep environmentalism is intensely annoying around these parts. Especially when he argues for nuclear power, for hunting, or calls wind turbines "giant bird blenders"

Gallingly, though, I think being caught going the wrong way up a one-way street on his bike is not going to damage him. It reminds all those people he's trying to win over (we call them Lib Dem voters) that he does cycle, and perhaps sometimes without a driver following on behind. If I was an utter cynic I'd suggest his team even tipped off the Mirror, sunbathing-celeb-style.

Most annoying, though, is the fact that it leads to headlines like this.

Casting the second stone

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barackhillary.jpgI don't have a lot of time for organised religion, and American politics has been damaged by religion almost as much as it has by corporate control. I therefore find Obama's connection with this preacher offputting on several levels. However, here's something way nastier. Check out Hillary's religious friends. If I were Obama, I'd raise this and damn the consequences.

Maybe, maybe not. But Kirklees (that's Huddersfield and its environs to you and me) definitely has some outstanding elected Greens. We're hoping to come down and see their latest renewables projects soon. This video shows some of their imaginative policies in action.

disaster.jpgSo the developers have admitted they offered the Council a share in the profits purely to make sure this abomination went through.

Mountgrange bought some council-owned land around the site it owned, a former bus garage, which was due to be developed. The council will receive a small share of the profits from the site. 'It was done to make sure the council didn't sell us short,' says Berry. 'It only has a passive involvement.' (Property Week)

As the article notes, though, this is also the reason why the project will have to come to Ministers for approval, and why campaigners are hopeful a full public local inquiry will be called. The role of the SNP will be vital. Their local MSPs are campaigning against it, but their councillors are voting for it. Classic Liberal-type behaviour: perhaps the local coalition is having that effect on them?

Demand destruction

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And so the unravelling of the latest financial bubble gathers pace. Here and in the States failing financial institutions have been backed with taxpayers' money.

I quite understand the decision to make sure depositors don't lose out: you should know that if you put your money into a bank account it won't disappear. However, bailing out risk-taking investors with our money? That's just wrong.

If the value of your investments effectively can't go down, you shouldn't get benefits based on that supposed risk. And the free-marketeers ought to be agreeing, because they invented the phrase "moral hazard". That hazard doesn't just apply to business people, it applies to the politicians who bale them out too.


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MSPs have a wide range of responsibilities. At 5pm, though, it comes down to being able to press the right button. In a tight parliament of minorities, getting it wrong can have significant consequences. Last night four Liberals, pictured above, got it wrong on a vote on tagging, meaning worse over-crowding in Scotland's prisons. (Herald, Scotsman)

Two other Liberal members who ought to have known better failed to vote at all. Nicol Stephen, the party "leader", no less, and Iain Smith.

People used to ask of politicians if we felt safe with their fingers on the button. Different button, admittedly, but the answer with this lot is a clear no.

Abortion rights

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WARSPoster4.gifSome friends of mine set up Women's Abortion Rights Scotland. I'm proud to be hosting their site, and will continue to do what I can to help.

Gerri Peev vs the US media

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As you'll know, the Scotsman got tangled up in the US election last week. Gerri Peev did an interview with Samantha Power, until then an Obama aide. Outcome: resignation. You can't call an internal rival a monster, even when she does monstrous things like claim McCain is more qualified for the presidency than Obama.

So then some lowlife invited Gerri onto his TV show over there.

1-0 to the British media, I think. And that was before he got canned.

Mice, calamities and fences

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clegghat.jpgAnyone reading today's papers (or indeed watching Newsnight from two nights ago, I'm assured) would have picked up the utterly derisive tone that the media have adopted for coverage of the Liberals, especially over their referendum disaster. The sketches this morning were hilarious. I offer a line or two from each:

Last week the Lib Dems stormed out of the chamber in protest against a Speaker's ruling. Last night they sat on their hands. If there is one thing sillier than a petulant walk-out it's a pretentious sit-in. (Simon Hoggart in the Guardian)

Up popped little Ed Davey for the Lib Dems, whiskers trembling. He seemed a bit Billy Bunterish but in a bad way. He was aggressive, illogical, evasive and pompous. And that's the positive view. (Ann Treneman in the Times)

They huffed and they puffed but failed to blow any house down and only ended up wheezing very heavily in a large parliamentary heap. (Michael Settle in the Herald)

Anyone got others to offer?
SUV fail.jpg

redstar.jpgThe SSP and latterly Solidarity didn't often make much contribution to policy debates here, sadly, but they certainly brought a bit of drama from time to time, with protests (see Rosie pictured here in the particularly badly-made cardboard submarine), general fist-waving and walkouts over nothing. Now they're gone, though, and who knows when or if they'll return?

The Liberals appear to have spotted this gap in the market. Mike Rumbles, pictured, flounced out of the Rural Affairs & Environment Committee this morning, accusing Roseanna Cunningham of being "extremely partisan and party political". Hello pot, I've got kettle on line 2.

It looks like a pattern, too, following their walkout at Westminster. Clearly a memo has gone round. One day the electorate will ask them to leave on a more permanent basis, as in Australia, but we'll have to accept temporary relief for now.

Apologies for the apparent bias on this site in the last couple of days. I've got some scathing stuff coming on the SNP, promise.

Levels of discourse

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People often talk about how ill-informed and apathetic the Americans are. In some circles it's the last acceptable stereotype.

The interest in this year's convoluted and never-ending nomination process seems to have nailed the apathetic side of that, so here's an interview which shows what a well-informed citizen looks like.

The left candidate backing "public private partnership", eh, though? One assumption is still true: the central ground of American politics is still significantly to the right of the European centre.

Absence of a throng

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clegghat.jpgA liberal-inclined source tells me a tale from Aviemore. Apparently Nick Clegg, latest owner of the poisoned chalice, had to ask a speechwriter aide what the word "throng" means. Here's a clue, Nick, it's what you didn't have at your conference, as Calum and others have noted.

Liberals: uncovered

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libdemlogo.jpgDon't be alarmed by the title, there will no nude pics of Ross Finnie, let alone anything worse.. I'm just enjoying Iain Macwhirter's Nicol Stephen/Harry Saxe-Coburg Gotha mashup.

Thanks to Mike at Allmediascotland for bringing this to the attention of his email subscribers. If you're not on his list yet, you should be, and you can sign up here.

Oil wars, round 2

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dolphin.jpgThe Sunday Herald gave a good show to a campaign we're involved in against the massive opening up of Scotland's waters for oil and gas, threatening not just the Moray bottlenose dolphins but also 20+ other cetaceans. Thanks Rob.

Note the Labour Minister's line in the middle of it. Total spin. Still, I think this is a campaign we can win, just like ship-to-ship oil transfers. There's plenty more to come on this front, that's for sure.

Hidden in broad daylight

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eurostack.jpgThe Observer today exposes how massive amounts of "oor money" get used by the European Investment Bank, an official organ of the EU, to subsidise oil pipelines, dams, privatisation projects and the like, all allocated by EU-style carve-ups in almost total secrecy. 

My first thought was "hang on, surely a little exposure will make this stop". Then I wonder if any amount of exposure can stop a £150bn slush fund that makes a lot of friends for the right people. Let's find out. And let's spend our money backing proper sustainability, not dams and motorways.

Anyway, hats off to Greig and Anders for this one. Keep up the good work.

Liberals: undefined

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libdemlogo.jpgI admire Brian Taylor's patience and determination. He had to put up with half an hour spent with Nicol Stephen, grilling him on what the Liberal Party's for (clue: nothing). The Liberals' shamelessness was on display on more than one occasion during the interview.

First, Stephen claimed that they had to oppose any referendum on independence because they oppose independence itself. Brian then said (I paraphrase) "but wait, you're pressing for a referendum on leaving the EU". Nicol's response was "ah, but we believe in Europe". The parallel is exact: they believe in the Union too. So why do they not support a referendum there? I make no case for the merits or otherwise of such a vote. Just sayin'.

Second, he claimed that they wouldn't talk to the Nats in May last because the SNP wouldn't drop their call for a referendum. When we contacted the Liberals to ask them down to New St Andrews House it was made clear to them that it was to meet us and discuss working together with the SNP on issues of agreement only, which obviously wouldn't have included a referendum. That was still rejected. 

Anyway, inspired by Brian's patience (and mine) I took the BBC's wee quiz on the Liberals. I scored 7/10, having known about the cheese but not about some of the sport. When the BBC marks scores for these quizzes, they normally say things like:
0-3 Jeremy Thorpe
4-6 Ming Campbell
7-10 William Gladstone

On this occasion I was amused to notice that all the scoring options were simply as shown to the left (click to expand). How fitting.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2008 is the previous archive.

April 2008 is the next archive.