Monday, 6 June 2011

Economist's explained

I think the Daily Mash tends to do a rather good job with the news, but if you're not a fan, here's an excerpt from the latest spat between people who think cuts are bad and those who think they're good, which I particularly enjoyed.

The people who signed the letter stressed it was a very important letter because they were not just people who did not like the cuts, they were economists.

Blanchflower added: "We feel it would help raise the level of debate if you could pretend that this time we have got it absolutely right."

But their plea was rejected by people who read articles instead of headlines.

Helen Archer, who usually gets all the way to the end and then has a thought, said: "People seem to have this idea that economists are motivated by facts and evidence instead of raw political prejudice. It's very queer."

She added: "They're not scientists. They're not even astrologers.

"They are like a drunk priest trying to explain the immaculate conception with a broken Etch-a-Sketch."


Monday, 2 May 2011

The Vatican gets it right!!!

As a lapsed Catholic who had found in his antipathy towards the church in recent years growing towards disdain I'm shocked to find this morning that only the Vatican have been able to find an appropriate response to the news that the USA undertook a military operation within the boundaries of an independent country, resulting in the death of their great adversary - I wasn't aware that Osama Bin Laden had been through a trial and had verdict passed upon him, but apprently we're told in great cheer that Justice has been served... We'll see!

Still, amongst all the bluster we get this from the Vatican.

But the Vatican warned that no Christian should celebrate the death of the al Qaeda leader.

“A Christian should never rejoice” over the death of a human being, said Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, although bin Laden would have to answer to God for spreading hatred and ordering the killing of so many people.

“Osama bin Laden, as everyone knows, had the grave responsibility of having spread division and hate among people, causing the deaths of an innumerable number of people and exploiting religion for these purposes,” Father Lombardi said.

He said the Vatican hoped that the death of bin Laden “would not be an occasion for more hate, but for peace".

Quite so! but I hae ma doobts!

Infinite Monkeys...

...clattering away on an infinite number of keyboards will at some point produce the correct sequence of keystrokes to reproduce a Shakespearean play.

I often feel like my blog efforts are a wee bit like an effort from some of the other less 'lucky' monkeys.

What am I saying and why am I saying it?

When I try to say one thing I say too much and someone jumps in to argue about the thing I was really just using as a prop for my main argument and we get dragged into some semantics.

It's not just me though. If I indulge in some discussion with the Labour webbie chaps, I often find after I've addressed the bit that annoyed me about what they've said it turns out that's not what they were wanting to talk about anyway... ho hum!

It's a frustrating business, but this blogging lark is definitely good exercise for the mind and a worthy way of honing your own arguments (well, the nasty extremists aside!). Sometimes though you find yourself in the company of true wordsmiths, such as the esteemable Mark MacLachlan who writes of the Labour party...

"I believe that a profoundly honest social movement that mobilised to help the working man and woman has been subsumed from within by careerists desperate for power and willing to do almost anything to hold on to it."

With this one paragraph the monkeys can stop their key-bashing antics and go back to swinging on the trees - for I've found the paragraph I needed.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Lowlights of an otherwise lovely weekend...

It wouldn't have been much after 4pm on Saturday afternoon with my 3 year old, that we sadly watched the shell-suited, burberry becapped, teenagers excitedly locate the best spot between some bushes and high on the hill of Queens park overlooking Pollokshaws road, for them to imbibe the far too many 2 litre plastic bottles of strong cider that they'd somehow managed to procure, despite most of them looking under 16, never mind 18.

I did wonder which of them would end the night over the hill in the Victoria's casualty department...

I did also think back to the New Year's eve I was inadvisedly carrying a bottle of beer on the streets of Byron Bay, where the Police officer, blessed with common sense, simply took the bottle from me, poured it down the drain, put the bottle in the bin and invited me to wisen up and enjoy my evening...

It's such a shame that these gangs of teenagers are so devious in their efforts to get drunk in public that they manage to do so so far from the watchful gaze of our constabulary, who seem to prefer spending Monday mornings in teams of 3 setting nefarious speed traps in places where motorists are likely to be accelerating away from town towards that National speed limit sign... (don't worry, I was travelling in the other direction!)

Friday, 15 April 2011

Children's exercise - FFS!

I've been annoyed with this children's PE debate since the last election. I just don't understand what the problem is in delivering 4 hours of PE a week for Primary school children.

Now, admittedly I went to a school with rather low numbers but I suspect the problem here is not the supervision, but what actually constitutes PE / exercise and how it could be undertaken.

In Primary school my teacher regularly took the entire class to the gym hall where we played wee games for 45 minutes. You didn't need to get into shorts and t-shirt for it.

We played rounders, tig, crab football (where you could easily tell who was in the cubs and who wasn't) and learned to skip.

Sometimes we had an old guy who could play the piano a wee bit. He came along and we had a mini-choir session, then we did some dancing - which as far as I'm concerned is about the best exercise their is... don't believe me? Check out the professionals on Strictly and ask any of the celebrities who make it through the first few weeks.
You could have a dance in your classroom if you just shoved some of the desks and chairs to the side for a wee bit...

So who is it that's not able to deliver some exercise to the children as part of a fun filled daily education?

Is the problem defining what constitues exercise? or is it teacher's inability to think outside the box or is it that the inner city kids are crammed into some shoebox where swinging low, never mind a cat is impossible.

What's the bloody problem?

My Scottish Political Compass

Hat tip to James Kelly for the link to the Scottish Vote Compass. It poses some interesting questions which helps to focus the mind, after all - as James pints out - Labour and the Lib Dems have pretty much copied the SNP manifesto and Stuart Winton quite rightly parodies Salmond's latest wheeze of increasing the now popular council tax freeze to 5 years - I hate it when politicians indulge in this playground game of who can piss the highest. Labour annoyed me last week with their 2 week cancer scam (pick a number and half it!). Salmond had no need to play top trumps in this petty way!

Anyway, onto my political alignment and it doesn't really surprise me to find that the party I am most aligned with is the Greens. They generally talk sense as far as I can see, even if they can get a wee bit dogmatic at times... Not as half as dogmatic as the old school Labour boys who despise themselves for actually having a National identity I suppose...

That doesn't change much though, as this particular election is much more about the battle between Labour and SNP than any other election in my lifetime. I'll be voting SNP & SNP. If they win, I'll be haranguing them from the rooftops about Green issues - then again... they've actually not got that bad a record on that front either... Hope Patrick Harvey gets back in though!

PS I realise that image is probably a bit small, but if you do the compass youself you'll get the gist of where I stand - slightly left wing social liberal... seems a reasonable place to be...

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Tribute to Giggsy - a true legend of the game!

Modest, unassuming, Legend, role model, boys-own fantasy hero, superstar of the global game... There's only one Ryan Giggs!

There are few footballers that I'll point out for my son if he takes an interest in the game. Sometimes they release their career highlights. There's space on our shelf for a Henrik Larsson DVD. There's space for a Brian Laudrup DVD. Dad will still have his old Jimmy Johnston and Lubo Moravcik videos - assuming we still have a video player, but there will need to be a new shelf built for the Welsh Wing Wizard who has been enthralling me for over 20 years now.

Pleasing to note that as a youth he also played a bit of rugby - what's the chances that it was having the opportunity to play both codes that helped him to develop into the all round, ball playing, team minded, maestro that he became? I like to think so.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Selling of Debt... WTF???

I meant to write about this when I heard it on the radio the other day, but then I convinced myself I must have been dreaming that people were seriously using this kind of patter. Tavish on newsnight reminded me to look it up though.

The Lib Dems want to sell Scottish Water's debt on the money markets then use that money to invest in the economy...

That sounds smashing - can I sell me debt too? How does that work anyway? You give me money, then you pay off my credit card bills, no?

Ah wait, you give me money to pay off my credit card bills, but I owe you that money back, presumably over a certain amount of time with perhaps some wee stipend to you for your troubles - it's very decent of you to go out of your way like this for me. In any other circumstances I would probably have had to borrow the money... which is kind of like what this is, isn't it? Ah, no in this instance I'm borrowing against my assets - it's a kind of secured loan then is it? No, No, No it's nothing like that, I'm just signing over my assets to you kindly International bankers for safekeeping whilst I pay you back the money, plus stipend, that you've loaned me purchased my debt with. Very good

Selling off debt - LMFAO!

Tavish Scott on newsnight...

Just watched Tavish Scott on Newsnight... oh dear!

On the lib dem MPs that broke their promise (written pledges no less!) on tuition fees...
Well, they're not up for re-election just now, but if they were I'm sure they could explain it to you...

On Labour U-turns
Terrible hypocrisy on their part, they've just copied the SNP

On Council tax freeze
After 4 years of SNP government, we see that was a great policy...

On closing A&E's
Terrible that we were going to do that - thank goodness the SNP got in and showed us how to behave properly.

On Prescription charges
Well, I wouldn't have done it, but now that it's been done (by the SNP), you'd be crazy to undo it...

On Coalition
We'll need to see what Labour tell us to do... after all we're the Scottish Lib Dems and we need to differentiate ourselves from the London Lib Dems - who are being pushed about by the Tories. People in Scotland would never accept that.

On Independence
I'm totally against that... even though we're totally different from the London Lib-Dems and I think we need more Scottish solutions for Scottish problems, well apart from having fully independent Scottish solutions, obviously!

On other stuff...
Well, yes we've sold the jerseys for a sniff of power down South, but I've prepared a cracking answer for you about the single Scottish police force - why don't you ask me about that?

On Scottish Water
You'll just need to ask the other parties why they don't want £1.5 billion for the Scottish economy... Go on ask the other parties! Why are you asking me all these questions that aren't about the police anyway?

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Andy 'Lock em Up' Kerr

Andy '1 hospital for the price of 2' Kerr, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, was on Radio Scotland this morning, not only pushing the Labour line of mandatory sentences (6 months apparently) for people caught in possession of a knife, but absolutely resolute in his determination that a Labour government would find the money to fund this policy.

So, there you go. Not only are they still pursuing a policy opposed by senior police officers and highly qualified candidates, such as former president of the Law Society of Scotland, Ian Smart, but in these austere times, they're going to make finding the money to lock up everyone carrying a knife a priority. It seems the Labour lunacy on this is not restricted to Richard Baker.

Iain Gray, Andy Kerr, Richard Baker, Jackie Baillie - those are the candidates Labour think appropriate for running this country. Don't let them do this to us!

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Shurely it's Sean for President

Just up from my sick bed... it seems there's an election coming up... These days I prefer to catch up with the news from the blogosphere - at least the contributors are (mostly) honest about their allegiances.

One of the most fair minded and objective bloggers on my list of favourite reads must be Stuart Winton fae Dundee. So I do take seriously his criticism of the SNP reusing the 'Alex Salmond for First Minister' slogan on the ballot papers - then again it wasn't the SNP who came up with the rules and the first objective of the SNP campaign must be for them to win the election - the people will decide, whether other parties feel the electorate aren't smart enough to understand the ballot paper or otherwise - Personally I'm more concerned about the AV referendum overshadowing the Scottish elections with UK wide politicking from Labour, Consevative and Lib Dem on that peculiar issue. I'm pretty sure that the aim is to drown out the SNP's election message with Unionist propoganda.

Still, that's not why I'm here today, Stuart's blog title Alex Salmond for President?, reminded me of the excellent Tartan Specials song for big Sean, and seeing as I need cheering up - here it is:

Friday, 18 March 2011

'Arry's game

So if you were a Spurs fan - and I'm not, but I do have a good friend who is... happens to be a Ghanaian chap who has suffered years of abuse from his Arsenal supporting mates. Well, if you were a Spurs fan wouldn't you just be marvelling at how much difference a decent manager can make to your team's fortunes.

Harry Rednap took over at Spurs in 2008 whilst they were sitting bottom of the English Premier league. He eventually guided them to safety and the League cup final (lost on penalties to Man Utd). In 2009-10 Harry took Spurs to 4th in the Premier League and a potential place at the top table to enjoy the untold riches of the European Champions League (including places for 4th placed teams from rich countries, but let's not be too churlish about his achievements!) qualifiers.

In season 2010-11, He's guided his team through a tricky qualifier and into the group stages, where they've been to the San-Siro and beaten current holders Inter Milan to qualify top of the group. The first round of the knockout games saw them return to the San-Siro where they conquered the mighty AC Milan.

Next up, Harry takes his team to the Bernabeau to face Jose Marinio's Real Madrid. What a season for Spurs fans!

PS Of course, I doubt any of this could have been achieved without the able assistance of the mighty Joe Jordan. So big it up for Joe too!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Invictus & the 16th man

I watched the movie 'Invictus' recently. A decent enough movie based on an incredible story that really didn't need the Holywood treatment and to be fair to Clint Eastwood (director) I don't think he went overboard with it.

What I felt it was missing though was that actual intensity of the matches as they were played. That's why it was such a pleasure to catch 'The 16th man' on ESPN. Morgan Freeman narrated much of this documentary, but this time it was easier to just enjoy his beautiful delivery than to have to worry about whether I liked him playing the role of Nelson Mandela.

The reality of the match scenes and the footage of the real ANC movers and shakers, who hated the Afrikaaners with all their being, coming to acknowledge that Mandela's hand of friendship across that terrible divide and support for the detested Springboks was much more powerful than any Hollywood movie could possibly muster.

One of the key elements of the story was the fear and respect that even the mighty Springboks held for Jonah Lomu

Here's why

Incredible to note that throughout his career the big man suffered from a debilitating nephrotic syndrome and yet still achieved what most mere mortals can only dream of.

As powerful as any imagery though was the reading of the poem which inspired the movie title.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Incredible to think that these stoic words from a Victorian poet could have helped Nelson Mandela not just to survive his incarceration, not just to win over his oppressors and become their master but to inspire them to their own glory over the mighty opposition which was the Lomu inspired All Blacks.

Anyone got any ideas for Sunday?

Fred the *anker's Superinjuction

I have to admit that yesterday's story about Sir Fred Goodwin's superinjunction just made me laugh. The result of parliamentary privilege means that John Hemming was able to highlight this story which would otherwise not have been permitted - I don't get this bit, but I assume the reports are allowed to talk about what Mr Hemming said, rather than simply talk about Fred Goodwin without good reason... as if him destroying the eceonomy wasn't good enough reason to occasionally spit some venom in his direction...

Sir Fred Goodwin (but Bad Loser apparently!) knighted, via Gordon Brown (lest we forget), for services to banking, apparently doesn't want to be called a banker anymore. Small wonder I suppose given the poor name bankers have these days, but a wee bit strange seeing as he was the most high profile of the psychopaths who nearly destroyed capitalism.

Just for the record though:
Fred Goodwin was a banker for more than a decade, taking senior posts at Clydesdale and RBS before accepting the role of RBS chief executive in 2001.

He gained the nickname Fred the Shred for his ruthless approach to business.

After RBS’s takeover of Dutch bank ABN Amro in 2007, widely seen as one of the worst business moves in recent history, Sir Fred’s banking career went rapidly downhill.

The bank, under his leadership, was brought to the brink of collapse, requiring a £45.5bn state bailout that brought it 83% into public ownership. (INcidentally, I think the UK coffers might do very well in the long run out of that wee bit of business!)

However, he is still eligible for a £342,500 annual pension – reduced from £700,000 in the face of public outcry – meaning that although he is now technically an ex-banker, he draws the sort of income from banking that most of us could only dream of.

Sir Fred - You are a *anker and always will be in my eyes!


Just a few links to some 'critiques' of PFI / PPP projects.

I'm not generally a Guardian reader, but they have a nice collection here

You should look out especially for a chap by the name of George Monbiot, who seems to have done a lot of research on the topic and has managed to resist being converted to it's charms.

Even the Daily Telegraph, who you might think would normally be champions of the captains of Industry getting to fleece us got around to thinking they might just be taking the piss somewhat on this.

It's little wonder that the SNP tried to find an alternative to this. I can see the difficulty though. Once the financiers have managed to get their grubby fingers into the till, how could we expect them to be a wee bit less greedy? Of course they're going to resist efforts to fund projects which don't result in them earning their vulgar fees.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Credit where it's due

Whilst the cost of being sick in England is about to rise by another 20 pence it was heartening to hear this week that Labour actually voted with the SNP on an SNP initiative, leaving the Tories and Lib-Dems to squabble over the title of most mean-spirited party - with Bill Aitken recently having to stand down as the Tory mouth piece on Justice, there was certainly an opportunity for the Lib-Dems to step up to the plate.

Whilst it is typical of the Tories only to consider short term costs rather than long term values, what on earth has happened to the Lib Dems, whom I could once upon a time identify with?

Well done Labour though!

Gratuity, tip or service charge

Had the pleasure of lunch at a plush West end establishment yesterday to celebrate my wife's birthday. The food was outstanding, but I have to say although I was neither impressed nor displeased with the service it was something of a surpise to see a 10% service charge on the bill, but hey ho! 10% is pretty much the standard for tips in restaurants isn't it? Actually I've no idea what is expected these days, but I tend to run with 10% because I can, but more often than not the actual sum will depend on the cash I have in my pocket, and that's an important point actually, for usually I pay by card unless we're in a group, but having worked as a waiter myself I know I much preferred a wee spot of cash between me and the customer without any need to bother the exchequer about the outstanding service I'd just delivered.

So, fair enough if the restaurant want these things formalised, who am I to quibble - I offered to pay the bill as it was and let them sort ot all out for themselves. What I really didn't like though was the waiter then handing me the card machine at the point where I'm expected to say whether I want to add a gratuity or not - to the bill at which they've already added my expected gratuity!

I didn't appreciate that at all - and if you've got a restaurant you should know this. It's the little things that make the difference between a great restaurant experience and an average one. Leaving the place feeling like the staff are trying to hoodwink a wee bit extra from you isn't the sort of thing I equate with a 'great' restaurant experience.

On the point of tips though, what's the story with taxi drivers? Why do they expect a tip at all. I don't mind rounding up to the nearest pound, but to have to deal with their surliness when I expect my change is a disgrace. They've got a meter running and must get a fair price for the service I'm after and which they provide. Why they should expect any more is beyond me.

Closer to the Heart

Greatly amused by the Labour blogger who recently rationalised his distillation of a Salmond answer at FMQ's to 'bluster' without actually mentioning the points Salmond had made by quoting Simon and Garfunkel "a man hears what he wants to hear
and disregards the rest". In essence he's admitted that he doesn't care what Salmond actually said anyway - not very objective to my mind, but then I'm no party apparatchik or apologist.

Much as I like Simon and Garfunkel though I tend to think that my political inclinations are rather better expressed by Geddy Lee - enjoy!

and don't forget

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Go jump off a cliff...

I've been having a wee interchange with my blog buddy Braveheart, who keeps me in mind of the narrow perspective that people from the West of Scotland seem to suffer. He's a moderate, sensible fellow by his own admission.

The crux of our recent debate has been that education stramash. Renfrew led SNP were considering diluting the teaching staff, and had the gone so far as trying to find a way to spin it as some sort of mutually beneficial, improvement to kids education. Personally, I reckon if someone gets trained to deal with a class room of kids and deliver a syllabus, then they're a teacher and they need to be treated as teachers, so it was all a bit of smoke and mirrors bullshit in order to make cost savings - why we don't just apply some sort of levy to those massive multi-national supermarkets instead of cutting our own throats and stifling our children's education I'll never know!

Anyway, Braveheart, being the fearless Labour spinner that he is reckons that's a much worse scenario than the situation in North Ayrshire where the Labour led council considered a proposal to cut the school week from 5 days to 4.

Now, neither proposal has actually come to fruition, but from my persepctive it's at least encouraging to note that the councils were willing to think outside of the box and give some air to all the proposals - I've been in enough brain storming sessions to see the merit in allowing all ideas to be be put on the board and then discussed in the group scenario. At least you get a consensus on what's acceptable and what's not. Sometimes you even get a better understanding of the original problem... but that's all by the bye. I'm not much impressed by the hysterical reactions from our supposed political leaders to these sorts of suggestions though.

The highlight of this wee debate though has been Braveheart suggesting that I go jump off a cliff - he seems to be under the impression that this is an idea I might dismiss out of hand immediately... poor boy!

Check this out:

PS The Sound track is pretty good too!

PPS Why don't we have a levy on those multi-million pound, multi-national companies that are killing our town centres again?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


Last night on the way home from work the weasel words of Richard Baker on radio caused a sick feeling in my gut. To think that the Labour party might foist this oik upon us for the princely sum of £520.

As sympathetic as I am to the SNP, I'd be as happy with a true Labour government. Alas, this mob of liars and hypocrites don't come close to what I would wish a Labour government to be. They have no vision for the country they'd like us to be. Their centralising tendency and Central belt obsession bothers me. The class envy so endemic in their representatives irks me. I don't believe in any of them and after this Megrahi debacle they have lost all credibility - as if appointing Jackie Baillie as Shadow Health secretary had left them with any credibility - in Scotland.

They'll still be a major force after the next elections. They may even form the next Scottish government. It's a sickening thought!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Calibrating the Moral compass

Sometimes I'm not sure where I stand. Occasionally I rant just for the fun of it! Quite often I (attempt to) play Devil's advocate for fun. I'm a big fan of Al Murray and it's not been unknown for me to play the part of the sexist, mysoginist, xenophobe, racist, sectarian bigot - more to poke fun at the people who actually hold such views than anything.

I'm not a highly paid sport's broadcaster though and I'm not responsible for helping the dull witted amongst us form their opinions, therefore in my view it's entirely right that Andy Gray and Richard Keys should no longer hold the responsibility of such a position either - although I am a little uncomfortable with the sacking offense in Andy Gray's case being something which he was recorded doing quite some time before he actually received his official warning about such behaviour.

So, there you go. I'm willing to indulge in such banter with my mates either in the pub or at work - but I am coming around to appreciate that if someone was to overhear my tea break, sectarian rants without knowing that I was actually christened RC, they might imagine they are sharing a workplace with the worst the Copland Road stand has to offer, rather than the witty raconteur I imagine myself to be... but I'm happy to see someone else lose their job for an equivalent miscontruction.

I guess I'm a hypocrite!

On the other hand, I can console myself with the fact that my views often align exactly with such luminaries as Nelson Mandela and Ian Hamilton QC whilst I've always opposed the lying, war monger who highjacked the Labour party.

Feeling better about myself already!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Daily Telegraph and PFI

It occasionally surprises people familiar with my leftish views to find that I'm an avid reader of the Daily Telegraph. I can't stand the Guardian with the way it's journalists appear to fall over themselves in efforts to find the most outlandishly left wing position. To me it reads like some student flyer written by faux intellects who are never willing to subject their witterings to any sort of scrutiny.

In recent years it has been the Telegraph who have produced the most outstanding stories, in particular I've enjoyed the way in which they have exposed the outrageous hypocrisy of our MPs with regard to their expenses.

Now it's time for the Labour PFI fans to take cover though, for finally some serious rigour is to be applied to the scam that is PFI. Such a shame the Conservatives couldn't do it when in opposition - but then again it's in their nature to give our money to big businesses. The Lib Dems position on PFI... what is it again? I've no idea what those jelly fish actually have to say about anything. Of course, In Scotland we've had the SNP shouting from the rooftops about the how ridiculous PFI is with it's '1 hospital for the price of 2' economics, but for some reason that's not taken seriously elsewhere... and even in Scotland, the politics is so partisan it doesn't seem to matter. Labour can do as Labour will and the downtrodden people of Glasgow East will still come out to support the likes of the Martins.

So, this morning I am delighted to see the Telegraph announce a series of reports on PFI, and I can't wait to hear the justifications for it given by political giants such as Andy Kerr. Perhaps those voters in Scotland willing to listen to both sides of an argument may actually remember the SNP's opposition to this scam from day 1.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

VAT & Fuel analysis

Whilst I'm still ranting about economists I recall a radio interview last week with some so called International Oil Analyst who was finding it extremely difficult to see how the government could help in steadying the price of fuel. I'm going to assume he's another Tory with an arts degree...

A quick google search found the petrolprices web site. For the purposes of this rant, I'm just going to run with the figures they give.

On the 1st of December 2008 a permanent 2p increase in fuel tax was introduced to offset the rate cut in VAT from 17.5% to 15% bringing the duty rate for the main road fuels up to 52.35p per litre.

So, that's fuel duty up 2p deliberately to compensate for a cut in VAT... Were they funding the VAT cut by hitting the motorist? I don't remember this - but what you should know at this point is that the fuel duty we pay on every litre of fuel is also subject to VAT - tax on a tax! Yep, I hear you - No, that doesn't seem fair to me either!

On 1 April 2009 the duty rate for unleaded petrol and diesel was increased by 1.84 ppl to 54.19p per litre and again on 1 September 2009 by 2 ppl to reach the level of 56.19 per litre. These rates were planned to be increased further on 1 April 2010 to 2013 by 1ppl above indexation each year.

The plan is to deliberately increase the price of fuel at the pump for everyone at a rate above an index in any case. So, it's been deliberate policy to make fuel much more expensive for a number of years (remember, the price of fuel has a direct impact on the price of everything you need to live... apart from your mortgage - that goes up when the price of everything else rises too fast!)

On the 1st January 2010 the VAT rate reverted to 17.5%.

You're looking for the bit where the 2p added to the Fuel duty was rescinded aren't you... I know I was...

The 3p fuel duty rise scheduled for early 2010 was delayed in 2010 Budget with the duty going up by only 1p a litre on the 1st of April. This went up by another 1p a litre on the 1st October 2010 and is scheduled to go up by 0.76p on the 1st January 2011.

What 3p fuel duty rise? Where the hell did that come from?

Now a simpleton like you or me might argue that the VAT returning to 17.5% should really have resulted in that 2p rise being rescinded. Of course, Whitehall are a lot more generous spirits than you or I. What they've done is NOT raise the price by a further 3p per litre rather than cutting it. We're 1p per litre better off - don't you see? ... Well apart from that 1p increase in April, but you were probably expecting something worse by then anyway.

A 0.76p increase on the 1st January 2011 brought the duty rate for the main road fuels up to 58.95p per litre. This coincided with the 2.5% increase in VAT rate, which is now at record high of 20%.

I hope you weren't expecting them to cut fuel duty to compensate for that 2.5% increase in VAT (tax on a tax in this case), thereby proving that the previous 2p rise wasn't just another attack on the car owner, were you?

To be fair to the oil analyst, he was actually struggling to see how the government could help stabilise the cost of fuel across the country, rather than stabilising the cost of fuel, but that hasn't stopped me frothing at the mouth over the upward pressure they have deliberately imposed on fuel prices - which is surely the root cause of a significant proportion of the inflation they seem so concerned about.

In response to the analyst though, surely it isn't beyond the wit of man to devise a discount on the fuel duty based on geography and the normal fluctuations within the market; if the will to find a solution actually existed - after all, they managed to devise London weighting for civil servant's salaries to address the inequity of living in London...

An economist makes sense of it...

With special thanks to Braveheart who in breaking from his usual habit of defending Labour's economic illiteracy, has found an economist who has managed to compute that the reason why inflation is so high is a result of government policy and a rise in the price of International raw materials "fuelled by City based speculation" ( No doubt he means those wankers in London who find it appropriate to award themselves millions of our pounds in bonuses ) - Fucking Bravo! An economist who can count!

More than an ability to count, this chap can actually think a wee bit too! Check this bit out! Apparently "real incomes in the UK may be under pressure because of a fundamental rebalancing of the overall economic equation within the world economy" and so he gets to the humdinger of a conclusion
"if there is a reaction within the UK which sees ordinary consumers penalised for something that is entirely beyond their means to rectify through altering their pattern of consumption the consequence is that we will, inevitably, see an exacerbation of the fall in household income, and the creation of the environment for a double dip recession, which will inevitably follow.

So people getting shafted all ways because of government policy and having their disposable income rapidly diminished by those government policies are unlikely to need or respond well to further reductions in their disposable income, particularly not when the excuse for that (2nd shafting) is an alleged need to address the rising prices caused by the government policy (original shafting) in the first place.

All that does though is further enhance my view that economics is nothing more than opinion and occasionally some common sense. I don't know why I'm surprised, it is an arts degree after all. What I really don't understand though is why they seem to be held in such high esteem.

Economic theory

I'm no economist. I really don't get it. I bought a book called "How economics explains everything" and it was the biggest pile of pish I've ever read. I take a look in the economics sections of various papers from time to time and as far as I can see economic forecasting is nothing more than guesswork based on past examples - sometimes they even use relevant past cases on which they base their predictions...

How so many of these geniuses failed to recognise that a system whereby really dodgy American mortgages could be wrapped up with occasionally good investment opportunity and rebranded as AAA bonds / securities / whatever whilst the people making the rating were getting incentivised to produce more AAA rated bonds / securities / whatevers... well that's beyond me. Then again I'm a simple engineer.

So, it's no surprise then that I find myself at a loss to explain the situation we are faced today with regards to inflation, VAT and interest rates. Apparently inflation is above target and that has come as a surprise to some of these bankers / economists... Maybe if some of them tried living in the real world with appropriate bonus-free salaries, the effect of the price of oil might not so easily bypass them?
Anyway, I digress. Here I stand as a UK mortgage holding householder with a small family which includes 2 pre-school dependants. I don't suppose that makes me an out of the ordinary case study. I've got a mortgage, keep my home heated, buy food regularly and drive to work regularly. I work in the private sector and haven't had a pay rise in 4 years...
Due to increases in the price of oil and gas my heating bill has risen considerably over the last couple of years.
Due to the increase in oil prices, the cost of my food shoping has risen considerably in the last few years - see the cost of basics such as bread and milk.
Due to the increase in Oil prices, the cost of my commute has risen considerably in the last few years.
Now the government has added 2.5% to VAT which they expect will directly result in a 1.4 point rise in inflation, breaching the 4% level.

In order to 'cool the economy' it is apparently the view of some economists that interest rates need to rise in order to take some money out of the economy. That's some euphimism for taking more of my money in order to further reduce my disposable income, lest I am tempted to go on some massive spending spree tipping us into the abyss.

I just don't have the words now to express the anger and helplessness I feel as I stuggle to live in this country of bountiful resource being run by mad men who'd rather see me lining the pockets of Multi-National Energy company's shareholders whilst living in poverty than imagine a country without Trident. Lunatics who think that big business and big banks can really survive without a civil society for them to operate within.

The bile is rising!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Gorgeous George

Tremendous news that Gorgeous George Galloway is to throw his hat into the ring for a seat at Holyrood. He's exactly right about Iain Gray and it will be interesting to see how the non-entities on the Labour bench respond to someone actually showing them what Labour's values once were.

As an added bonus, the next time the yanks start demanding we sent someone over to explain our actions to them we've got a man who's already handed them their own arses on a plate.

BBC Wales

With my fancy new Sky+ HD system installed, I realised last night that in order to see Match of the Day 2, I wouldn't need to suffer through the agony of Sportscene Scotland with it's less than stimulating coverage of the less than stimulating SPL. No, I could simply select one of the alternative BBC regional channels and skip straight to the highlights of Liverpool Vs Everton and Manchester United at Spurs.

I was slightly bemused to notice that whilst in Scotland we are forced through the trauma of our National game before the Premier League highlights program, in Northern Ireland they get a politics show pushing MOTD back in the schedule.

I opted for BBC Wales, if only to enjoy a melodious Welsh voice delivering the regional news and weather. Interestingly, the Welsh regional news sports section included coverage of the weekends rugby results as well as the football and also the Ice Hockey where I discovered that the Dundee Stars had beaten the Cardiff devils 2-1 ending the Cardiff sides 22 match winning streak... I didn't even know Dundee had an Ice Hockey team - never mind one that sounds like it might actually be quite good.

I quite enjoyed it as a News Bulletin and it made me wonder whether it was just the novelty of a different take on the days events that had me so impressed or is BBC Scotland really just a parochial wee sideshow with no interest beyond the Old Firm and what Labour have to say about the SNP?

Friday, 14 January 2011

Single Police force

I'm not sure I understand the arguments against a single police force - The Scottish Police. We're not such a big country. Computing power and Telecommunications infrastructure, if not transport, has undergone quantum leaps since a Police Federation comprising of 8 distinct police forces was envisioned.

I don't really see how any of it can actually save much money in the short term though. Any savings through the increased purchasing power of the new unified force would surely be drastically outweighed by the consultancy fees for the new design of uniform, badge and vehicle livery {(c) Inverclyde public sector management}.

We'd still need the same number of Police officers to police the same number of citizens in the same number of cities and spread across the same (poorly connected) countryside. Those police officers would still report back up a command chain to someone responsible for the managing the policing of the local area. People accused of criminal activities would preseumably still be reported to the same procurater and the courts would presumably continue to be inundated with the same people.

There would still need to be adequate IT support in order to support the integrated police databases and provide local support.

How would it save any real money? What difference would it actually make?