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.

Just one Question, Mr Murphy…

So, Jim Murphy’s attempt to suck up to “values voters” (and let’s hope that expression never becomes something of substance in Scottish Politics) has exploded in his face spectacularly.

I’m appalled at the attempt, and quite happy with the outcome, but I was having a think about this last night. It’s not actually what I would want to ask Jim Murphy about, if I got the chance. I’m intrugued as to why he thought it would go any differently, but honestly… there’s a more serious question at stake here.

See, I know Jim Murphy – not as a friend, but I went to University at the same time as him (and Ed Byrne too, but that’s another story), and he was a pretty prominent fixture on campus. He was almost universally known as “Megaphone Murphy”, due to the permanent attachment of either a megaphone or a placard. Always involved in organising protests against the Tories and their latest horror policy.

The thing I would love to know, more than anything about atheism or secular politics is this…

Why, when he was a campaigner and protester in his student days, is he happy to serve in a government which is happy to use riot police as shock troops to crush protests?

Why, when he saw protest and activism as a path into politics, and to eventually to rise to be secretary of state for Scotland, is he happy to serve in a government which labels any protester as a “terrorist”?

Why, when he was always to be heard chanting and leading protest about “the people”, was he the man who championed an act through parliament which removed more freedoms and rights from “the people” than almost any other bit of legislation in History?

Seriously Jim, how do you sleep at night? Don’t you cry into your pillow thinking about how completely and utterly you have betrayed the younger you? (not to mention the rest of us)

Back in 1992, when I left University, I didn’t think for one second that I would like to see Megaphone Murphy again – but I would rather that than see what Politician Murphy has become.

Missing the whole point.

The morals of the music industry are sickening, which makes it hard to take Feargal Sharkey’s Crocodile Tears a bit much to stomach.

Firstly, they rip off artists more than any teenager downloading music ever could, with one sided contracts, stealing royalties etc.

Secondly, they have ushered in ever more draconian laws which will restrict our freedoms online, just so that they don’t have to come up with sales models that suit the age. Even prominent Artists don’t agree that piracy is the problem

There will always be freeloaders who just want something for nothing – but Illegal downloading truly thrived for one reason and one reason only – the copyright industry treated normal consumers like criminals rather than provide a legal way to download music and video that could be freely used on any of our devices.

They are so desperate to control us that they have made illegal downloads attractive. I buy my music from Amazon now because they give me unrestricted MP3 files without DRM, that I can play in the house, in the car, on my Zen… and I would love to do the same with TV shows, but that industry is still desperate to stop me from using content I have paid for as I wish.