Category Archives: News

On Currency Unions

We are now entering the part of the independence campaign where things get truly nasty.  The UK government seem intent on not only harming the future prospects of an independent Scotland, but also in delivering a considerable amount of collateral damage to the economic well being of the country right here and now.

The latest debacle is (again) around whether an independent Scotland would be able to continue to use the pound. Despite various educated commentators pointing out that they can’t really stop us, this particular argument rumbles on.

What makes this doubly irritating is that Scotland already has it’s own currency in the only sense that matters – the pound in your wallet, the money in your hand. It is, in every sense, a complete non argument.

Picture this – a crisp, new £20 note. No, not that one, the other one. or possibly the other, other one.

there's more than one pound in our pockets already!
there’s more than one pound in our pockets already!

See, for those of us living in Scotland, there isn’t a pound – there are a few of them – Clydesdale, RBS, Bank of Scotland, and of course, the one that anyone south of the border is thinking of when they say “the” pound – the Bank of England.

And the thing is – although these other notes are sometimes accepted without hassle in English shops (but not always), they are not actually legal tender at the moment – in order to issue these notes, the Scottish banks have to hold an equivelant sum of Bank of England notes in reserve at their head offices – they do this using massive value notes called “Titans”, which are worth an eye popping £100,000,000 .

And there’s the punch – in order to continue to issue sterling notes all that would be required is for the Scottish banks to hold an equivelant value of Sterling in their head offices to back those notes at 1:1 value… in other words, precisely and exactly what happens at the moment.

As I said – this is a complete and total non-story, whipped up by Project Fear to try to discourage a Yes vote.

Hopefully, the Scottish people will demonstrate that we are made of sterner stuff, and stand up to bullies!

The Unbelievable behaviour of Johann Lamont

Johann Lamont, currently leading the Scottish labour party to ruin has launched her great new policy – A commission to review universal benefits, and seeking to introduce means testing for the things she sees as a “something for nothing” culture in Scotland.

Johann has a problem with free prescriptions, free university places and free bus passes for the elderly.

So, yes, that’s right. The leader of the Labour Party in Scotland is trying to take entitlements away from the Sick, the Elderly and Students.

The really galling thing is that her minions have turned up on BBC Scotland to defend this, and suggest that it’s okay, because they are not seeking to get rid of these benefits completely, they want to means test them.

Again, the irony is staggering.

Labour want to introduce Means Testing for benefits that are currently universal thanks to our SNP Government.

Forget the Jarrow Marchers, Forget the entire history of the Labour movement and it’s fight against the Means Test, put all of that to one side.

We have Free Prescriptions in Scotland – but it’s not all altruism. The previous scheme exempted people that were terminally ill – seems only fair, doesn’t it? that someone who is living out their last shouldn’t have to pay for the medicine which is keeping them alive? and new mothers were exempt too. And those who weren’t working.

In fact, by the time you counted out all the exemptions, the scheme brought in so little money that it basically cost more in administrative charges than it brought in. So scrapping the charge was a sensible thing.

That being said, here’s the thing which really rankles in this. It’s not that we don’t pay for those prescriptions.

We pay for them from our taxes.

Johann Lamont’s “something for nothing” says something pretty dark about how she sees the world. I work hard, and I pay (a lot) of taxes. It’s the social contract. I pay in, and I see precious little in return. If I am sick, and need medicine, I don’t see why that shouldn’t be taken out of the tax I have paid, rather than me having to put my hand in my pocket again.

In Johann Lamont’s world, the money that I pay out of my taxes entitles me to NOTHING, and no matter how much I pay in, I shouldn’t get a bus pass or my medicine paid out of tax.

Roll on Independence!

Petty? I think not…

I don’t blog as regularly as I used to.. partly because, well, it’s more for me than for the internet. I have thought a few times about just using wordpress on an internal server, but always swung back to keeping it here. The point being, I don’t post unless something really makes me bristle.

With the news today did, and how.

It’s bad enough that Pope “king of the paedos” Benedict tries to weasel out of a proper apology for the Irish victims by blaming priest child rape on Secularism, but now, in the most misguided attempt to come out fighting in history, he has decided that faith will help him resist “petty gossip”.

Sorry? Petty Gossip?

When your organisation is being investigated by journalists worldwide, and they are producing documents which YOU SIGNED, that is not “gossip”.

And when we are talking about your organisation’s conspiracy to prevent child rapists from being brought to justice, that is anything but “petty”.

When there is clear evidence that your organisation, and you personally, oversaw the relocation of paedophiles, allowing them to abuse fresh victims, then you have blood on your hands – quite literally, as many of these poor people have committed suicide.

I am sickened that this organisation is not being brought to it’s knees by the criminal courts for large scale perversion of justice – and they thought that they feel empowered to make comments about how other people should live their lives?

It’s beyond belief.

An Interesting Campaign

If you can avoid the usual anti-scottish rants in the comments that is…

it’s been a while since I posted, largely because I have been quite content with the world. Sure, there’s a lot of stuff there to annoy a Scottish Atheist if you look hard enough, but for a while at least, things are ticking along nicely.

Labour has been self destructing nicely, eating itself to death, culminating in them losing Glasgow East to the SNP – good days indeed. The SNP government have been getting on with governing (and doing a darn good job of it) and drawing praise from the Scottish business community to boot.

But this one caught my eye today – I was following the hoo-hah of the Olympics banning the ‘other’ UK flags – the Saltire, St George’s Cross and the Welsh Dragon.. it’s because of Tibet, naturally, but annoying nonetheless. I don’t really have the stomach for waving a Union Jack. So, on the forum, someone linked in the Fair Flags campaign..

The basic upshot of the campaign is that lots of food is labelled as ‘English’, then has a Union Jack added, rather than the English flag – which is the St George’s Cross.

Now this is one I can really get behind – it’s a natural justice thing. I remember as a schoolkid being taught how to make up a Union Jack from the Saltire, St George’s Cross, and the St Patrick’s Cross of Ireland. While we have a Union, we have to remember that we are the United Kingdoms plural, not the United Kingdom singular.

It seems only natural that just the same way a Scotsman would wave a Saltire in support of his team, an Englishman would wave the St George’s cross – and you would expect that just the same way butter from Dumfries and Galloway or cheese from Ayrshire was labelled as local produce with a Saltire, there would be no problem with cider from Somerset, or Bacon from Yorkshire carrying the English flag – loud and proud.

Tesco, on the other hand, thinks otherwise – they claim that this is because Scots and Welsh would not buy produce with an English flag.. well maybe during the world cup qualifiers, but seriously? this is ridiculous. It’s like authorities falling over themselves to avoid offending muslims when the vast majority of muslims just don’t care. A completely non scientific straw poll of opinions here says that this is just wrong – English strawberries in particular are highlighted as being extra juicy: the climate further south is much better for them apparently.

This is basically like the West Lothian question all over again – and in the same way, it’s not a difficult problem. The West Lothian question, of course, is whether Scottish MPs (elected to the UK parliament) should be able to vote on issues affecting only England.. and the answer is obviously no – what moral right does one population have to inflict policies on another population that didn’t vote for them.

And that’s, unfortunately, where the Fair Flags campaign turns  a bit ugly – England is currently enduring a Labour government (well, really, we are all enduring a labour government) that they did not vote for. It’s unfair, and a lot of English people are unhappy about it. I would be too… and I was, when it was happening to us. England voted in Thatcher’s government, Scotland didn’t want her, and she set about dismantling and destroying our industry as punishment. We had the Poll tax inflicted on us two years before England as a trial – because she knew fine well it wouldn’t make a difference: Scotland’s votes didn’t matter to her.

The commentors trot out The Barnett Formula (where Scotland is funded at a higher rate than England), but oddly enough, fail to consider the income to the treasury *FROM* Scotland (hint – Scotland puts in a lot more than it gets out, even when you don’t consider THE OIL. Remember? The Oil off Scotland’s coast?)

All this does is underline that Scotland and England have wildly different electorates – and the ‘Union’ is like the front end of a pantomime horse stitched onto the back end of a pantomime cow. It’s fooling nobody – and it’s time to bring the whole sorry thing to an end.

Oh, and in the meantime, please let Tesco know that Real Scots are not so petty as to avoid fruit and veg because it comes from England.

Sad News…

I saw that someone died in a house fire last night – and then realised that I knew him.

Denis McKenna – I worked with him in my first real IT job, at the Blood Transfusion Service based in Law Hospital. Denis was one of the developers there – and had a wicked sense of humour.

He suffered from  a degenerative condition which meant that he used a wheelchair and only worked three days a week (much to the annoyance of the management!). It looks very much like he was trapped in the house, and couldn’t get out.

in coding we often have to make little variables for general purposes – looping through some records, or just keeping a count of something. We used to code in Clipper S87 – a language designed for working with dbase databases, and there were a huge number of reserved words (that you can’t use for variable names, because the system handles them in a special way), which included “count”.

We usually abbreviated it to “cnt” – not Denis. He always abbreviated it to “cunt” – again, much to the annoyance of the management.

he was a real character – and the world is a slightly less interesting place today because he’s no longer here.