IF YOU ARE NOT ALL DONATED OUT…

…there are a couple of very deserving causes that caught Munguin’s eye and persuaded him to open his wallet (we found the key in the vaults of Munguin Towers), allowing a multitude of moths to escape.

The first is from Munguin reader and blogger, The Rambling Junketeers, who, currently living in Mexico, has been touched by the plight of the hundreds of stray dogs that are left to starve on the streets in that country.

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He’s fundraising for a kennel that he volunteers with. His story is heartwarming and tear-jerking at the same time. It’s worth a read if you’re an animal lover.

So, if you’re a dog person, and flush with cash, you might like to help him out. Money goes a good deal further in Mexico so even a little would make a difference.

The second cause is an old favourite of this site and of Munguin’s, so it will need no other introduction than… Mark Frankland. We all know what Mark does, and Munguin and I have the deepest respect for him. Homebase needs funds for the winter and this is important work, given the terrible hardships imposed on people by this heartless Westminster government of incompetents.

In addition to the Just Giving page, Mark has written another novel, always a seriously good and exciting read, and is selling it on Amazon Kindle. If you fancy buying it for your Kindle you can do so here. All the money goes to the fund. I think you’ll like the plot.

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If you don’t have a Kindle you can read the book on his blog (see sidebar) or here, and make a contribution (or not) on the Just Giving page.

OK, that’s Munguin’s begging bowl going back in the cupboard until the next time. At least, to the little fella’s credit, he never asks anything for himself. (Of course, neither does Rupert!)

LIAM HAPLESS FOX’S DEPARTMENT TWEETS AND DELETES

aceta

Correction, here’s what it means for you for a few months, till the UK leaves all that behind. Don’t you love that, although it is an EU/Canada treaty, somehow the EU flag has disappeared and another, relatively unassociated one, has replaced it? Odd that! A mere oversight, soon to be corrected, I suspect.

aceta1

But don’t get too attached to the jobs. Remember that in March 2019 they will dry up… Oh, and I see they haven’t removed the UK flag and replaced it with the other signatory to the treaty yet. Sure to happen soon, though. Don’t worry. It’s in the “capable” hands of Liam.

aceta2

Progressive you say? Taking people and the environment into account, you say?

Oh dear no. That would never do.

No, leave that nonsense to the progressive go ahead countries in the world. Much better for us to stay with the good old days of Empire where folk knew their place, we knew where we were and what was what.

But, strangely, still no one in Liam’s department has sorted the flags thing out. Probably too busy with plans for the royal yacht that Liam’s going to sail around the world on accompanied by Kate Middleton.

But wait! Having Tweeted this last night, the Department for International Trade, more of which you can read about here, removed these tweets this morning. They must have seen the flag error at last.

Or maybe someone pointed out to them that rejoicing in the good fortune of Europe, fortune the UK will not benefit from for more than a few months, only made the UK look sadder and more lonely and isolated.

Still, maybe Liam will sort out his royal yacht and sail off into the sunset, Kate at his side and retake the Empire for his Queen.

I wonder if William will hang out with Adam while they are off on their adventures.

GOOD NEWS FOR DUNDEE: AND ANOTHER TRAVESTY FROM THE DWP

aasocial security

Nicola Sturgeon was in Dundee today to announce the siting of the headquarters of the new Scottish Social Security Offices in the city.

At least half the 1,500 jobs expected to be created in these offices will be based here in the City of Discovery (and Munguin). The rest will go to Glasgow.

It has been estimated the new agency will be worth £125m to the local economy and will support another 800 jobs.

So, a good day for Dundee. After the Bank of Scotland news from earlier this year, this is exactly what we needed.

I sincerely hope our new department can avoid failures like this:

atory

Why would someone who is tetraplegic be on a benefit that was reviewable? , s Does the DWP expect that she might be getting better? Could they not have checked this with her consultant?

Does the DWP expect that she might be getting better? Could they not have checked this with her consultant (or indeed anyone with a first aid certificate)?

Given that you seem to have to prove that you still suffer from things that are incurable, if an error was made and she didn’t attend for an interview (something for which she can hardly be held responsible herself), and she was taken off her benefits and told to report to the jobcentre, why, when the situation was explained, wasn’t her benefit immediately reinstated?

I mean, seriously, whoever you are in the UK government that organises these things, have you got jobs up your sleeves for people who, as her husband says, can do nothing for themselves?

This is almost literally diabolical: the work of the devil. It is no wonder that the UK government was denounced by the United Nations for failing to respect the rights of disabled people.

The management of the DWP makes me ashamed to live on the same island as they do.

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SCOTLAND’S NEW SOCIAL SECURITY POWERS

For your information, through the Scotland Act 2016, the following benefits will be devolved to Scotland:

Group Benefit Main Purpose
For carers, disabled people and those who are ill.   Attendance Allowance To help with personal care for individuals aged 65 or over with a physical or mental disability.
Carer’s Allowance To help an individual look after someone with substantial caring needs. To be eligible the individual must be 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or disability for individuals aged 16 to 64.  This is a replacement for DLA for working age individuals.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) Help if your disability or health condition means either:

  • You need help looking after yourself
  • You have walking difficulties

DLA is closed to new working age claimants and being replaced by PIP.

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit For individuals who are ill or disabled as a direct result of an accident or disease caused by work or while attending an approved employment training scheme or course.
Severe Disablement Allowance Was for working-age individuals who are unable to work due to illness or disability. SDA is closed to new entrants.
Currently part of the Regulated Social Fund Cold Weather Payment A payment for individuals on certain benefits when the temperature is either recorded as, or forecasted to be, an average of zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days.
Funeral Expenses For individuals on low income and needing help to pay for a funeral they are arranging.
Sure Start Maternity Grant Introducing a new Best Start Grant which will see support for qualifying families increase from the £500 payable only for the first child under the existing UK Government Sure Start Maternity Grant to £1,100 for the first child and £800 for second and subsequent children over  three payments during a child’s early years.
Winter Fuel Payment A tax-free payment to help pay for heating bills if you were born on or before July, 5 1952 (Current State Pension Age for women).
Other Discretionary Housing Payments Additional help for those in receipt of Housing Benefit and having difficulty meeting their rent payments. Paid at the discretion of the Local Authority.
Job Grant A new Job Grant which will be a payment of £100 or £250 for people with children plus a three months bus pass for  16-24 year olds who have been claiming benefit for six months or more and are starting work.

The following benefits will remain reserved to UK Government:

  • Universal Credit
  • Contributory Job Seekers Allowance
  • Contributory Employment Support Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Maternity Allowance
  • State Pension
  • Pension Credit

IF YOU ARE SANCTIONED…

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For anyone you know who gets sanctioned, remembering that housing benefits are to be part of this idiotic DWP system, go to your local council and follow the instructions below. The government wants to save this money so it does not tell you about the scheme. They would clearly rather that people were made homeless, were hungry and cold.

Rich when you think how much they spend on second homes for MPs (whether they need them or not), accommodation for the lords and doing up the royal family’s palaces. Maybe we should give them some paint and brushes and tell them to get on with it.

adwp

From the Fightback Facebook Page

If you have no income and have had your JSA or ESA stopped or are in between benefits and get housing/council tax benefit, then you need to fill in one of these forms, and get it to the local housing benefit office, dont take no for an answer as with this your benefit will continue, and wont stop as they will assume you are working otherwise if DWP inform them you have come off benefits.

Nil income declaration
To be completed when housing benefit/council tax reduction is based on the customer receiving no income.
Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit Claim number:
Name:
Address:
Postcode:
Telephone:
Mobile:
Date:
Tick the boxes that apply:
I have had no income since (date:__________) [_]
This means I am not receiving any benefits, earnings, or money from any source. [_]
My last job finished on (date:_________) [_]
I am currently awaiting the outcome of a claim for another benefit. [_]
I have claimed a benefit and am awaiting the decision [_] name of benefit _____________
I made the claim on (date:________) [_]
I don’t expect to have any income until (date:______)
I am currently meeting my day-to-day living expenses by (please enter details in box below) [_]
_______________________________________________________________________
If you are living off savings because you have no income, you will need to provide bank statement’s as proof of this.

This is my nil income declaration

Signed
To be completed when housing benefit/council tax reduction is based on the customer receiving no income.

Courtesy of Fightback pro bono lawyers

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fightback/51334960564

SOPPY SUNDAY

 

N mont st Michel
Mont St Michel.

asnp
Beautiful… but who’ll be our partner in investment now?

n edinburgh 1950
Edinburgh 1950. Before your time, I know, Conan, but maybe you can throw some light on this…

n doggie
Love and trust in these eyes.

n dublin dusk
Dublin at dusk.

n oregon
Oregon.

n donkey
I don’t suppose you have such a thing as a carrot for a poor donkey, do ya?

N Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands

n thin
Geez, humans are dim. Doesn’t look like thin ice to this bird! Thanks again to Gerry for taking this.

n hammy
Lorsque s’en dort un enfant. Il fait un tres beau voyage. (When a kid sleep (s)he makes a beautiful journey.)

n cox's
Cox’s jute works, Dundee. 1960s?

n or2
I’m busy doing stuff… it’s not all pay for orangutans, y’know.

n siberian lights
Siberian lights!

n tuscay italy
Tuscany

n seljalandfoss
Seljalandfoss, Iceland

Gito and Asoka meet for first time
Do you think we might be twins?

n romeo the donkey
Romeo the donkey.

nant
Munguin’s swimming pool at his Antarctican estate.

n twins
Don’t know about these orange fellas, be we’re definitely twins.

N baby-orangutan-1
Like I said, always something needing to be done around these parts. Must get on. Busy, busy, busy. See you next week.

 

SO WHERE DOES THE (PROBABLE) NEXT LABOUR BRANCH OFFICE LEADER STAND?

aan

Anas Sarwar is standing for the leadership of the Scottish Branch of the Labour Party. We reckon that it is highly likely he will win. Odd in a way though, as he not so long ago rather stumblingly denounced the Scottish parliament as a dictatorship.

Just a year after demanding, as a co-signatory of a letter to Mr Corbyn,  that Jeremy quit as leader of the party, and backing Owen Smith for leader, he has now decided that JC is the man to be the next prime minister.

Of course, it’s not fair to single him out for criticism on this matter. Many of Jeremy’s lieutenants were critics before they became devoted followers. Kezia Dugdale has, herself has had an up and down relationship with Mr C and heaven knows, she wasn’t the worst.

aian

Mr Sarwar seems to me to be a strange choice for leader of the Scottish branch given that Scotland is generally accepted to be a little more left wing than most of the English branches. Indeed just after the Scottish referendum, Maggie Curran, then an MP and Shadow Scottish Secretary,  promised us a more left-wing approach to politics as she sadly surveyed the areas which had most staunchly voted for independence and found so many of them to be traditional working class, solidly Labour voting areas.

(Then they elected Blairite, Jim Murphy, a man to the right of many Tories… So much for left-wing…so much for Curran’s promises.)

Mr Sarwar is a dentist and a businessman with a multi-million-pound stake in the family business. He was privately educated as are his children. He can’t claim like Mr Murphy to have slept in a drawer as a wean. That said, no one doubted Tony Benn’s socialist credentials despite him being the son of a Viscount!

But now it has come to light that there is no trade union recognition at Sarwar’s family firm,  which is a bit embarrassing because only a few days before that it was reported that his firm doesn’t pay the real living wage, a wage policy on which Labour has been campaigning.

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The message seems to be rather inconsistent, doesn’t it?

Does he believe the parliament in which he serves to be a dictatorship?

Does he, or does he not, really support Mr Corbyn?

Does he or does he not support trade union involvement in companies?

Does he, or does he not, support the real living wage upon which Mr Corbyn has been campaigning?

If he still believes that Scotland is run by a dictatorship, and he became first minister, what steps would he take to ensure that Holyrood became democratic (remembering that the whole Edinburgh system was set up by the Labour Party under Blair and Dewar)?

If he doesn’t support trades unions, why is he in the Labour Party? If he does, why doesn’t he invite them into his company to ensure the best deal for his employees? I mean employees deserve the best conditions affordable, even if they work for Sarwar, right?

If he doesn’t support the real living wage, why is he campaigning on it? If he does, why isn’t he insisting his company pay it? After all, surely his employees are just as important as other employees, and just as likely to be in need of a living wage, right?

Signed: Confused of Minguin Towers.

*In the interests of fairness we should say that there is an alternative candidate, whose name has been mentioned by the press on so few occasions that we can’t remember it. This reminds us of the election of Jim Murphy when Neil Findlay and a couple of others also stood, but no-one much paid any attention to them.

EVEN MAD MAGGIE COULD SEE THAT IT WAS A GOOD IDEA

aguy

Mrs Thatcher was a fan of the single market apparently, according to a tweet today from Guy Verhofstadt as he settled into the ‘Salle Margaret Thatcher’ for a Brexit steering group meeting. He cited this quote for evidence:

aguy1

Even Mrs Thatcher with her known dislike of all “foreigners” (except Americans, whom I imagine she considered to be honorary Englishmen) could see that the European market was a jewel. It’s well over 300 million now (510 million). How mad must the great dictator be to want us to be out of it?

 

bex0

Oh yeah, sorry, I forgot… that mad!

THE STATE OF THE STATE

 

amay
I wonder at whom that look of utter loathing was directed.

 

It’s always brought a smile to my face when British Prime Minister after British Prime Minister has trotted around the world in a self-important manner spouting off about democracy.

Surely, Britain is one of the least truly democratic countries in the West, I thought.

After all, we have an unelected head of state whom we were always told was ceremonial and had no powers at all. It turns out that in truth not only does she and her immediate family have immense influence, she and her eldest son, have real powers which they use to have laws changed.

 

aQueen-wearing-the-valuable-crown-562552
Who elected the woman with the expensive hat?

 

They also have the use of the Privy Council, which can make declarations in the name of Her Majesty. These are the law with no scrutiny allowed.

Next, the government can use Statutory Instruments, also known as SIs, a form of legislation which allows the provisions of an Act of Parliament to be subsequently brought into force or altered without Parliament having to pass a new Act. They are also referred to as secondary, delegated or subordinate legislation.

 

aThe-House-of-Lords-Getty
Ruritania.

 

Then there is the House of Lords, the second largest legislative chamber in the world (after the National People’s Congress of China… a country of 1.4 billion people). It comprises firstly of 90 hereditary peers, self-selected by the Earls, Viscounts, Marquesses, and Dukes (which we still have in this bastion of democracy). The rest of us are excluded from voting on who these people should be (and once elected by their peers they can remain there until death). Only other hereditary aristocrats have a vote.

A further two hereditaries sit as of right, because of positions they historically hold in the royal household. (It’s already beginning to sound like something dreamt up for an 18th-century comic opera, isn’t it?)

 

chol
The Marquis and Marchioness Cholmondeley (pronounced Chumly). His marquisness gets to sit as of right in the HoL. (I assume the metal containers are for vomiting in if all the bowing and scraping makes you need to upchuck.)

 

Next in this massive house, are archbishops and bishops of the established church of the state religion. Listen to that: state religion! Finally, there is a rag bag of who knows how many ex-ministers and failed politicians, rich people who have given money to one of the three main parties… and a few oddballs the reason for whose presence can only be wondered at.

 

amoan
The Noble Member for the Isle of Man? Classy!

 

Then there is the supposedly democratic part of governance. The Commons, elected by a ridiculous first past the post system which can give an absolute majority on a vote of around 35%, and in which two-thirds of the seats never change hands. And this all underpinned by a party whipping system designed to keep most MPs very firmly on message.

Under this prime minister, we have seen some rather odd and disturbing developments which further undermine the feeble democracy that we have.

 

boris-johnson-brexit
Boris bringing back control and giving it to the likes of Hunt and Rudd! Sheesh.

 

Ironically they have come about in the wake of Brexit, which was supposed to return power to parliament from supposedly undemocratic EU institutions, like the council of ministers (comprising of elected ministers from the member states) or the European parliament, elected on a proportional representation system.

The first happened when our ridiculously inept prime minister called a general election to prove that she was strong and stable, expecting to win a thumping majority, and in fact lost the small majority she had inherited from David Cameron. Looking more than a little ridiculous she reached out to someone even more ridiculous: the ex-First Minister of Northern Ireland and leader of the DUP, currently under investigation for the mishandling of a large sum of public money, Arlene Foster.

 

£
Arlene cash for ash Foster.

 

The DUP agreed to use its 10 members to back the prime minister in certain matters (because of EVEL, Irish MPs cannot vote on any legislation that is England only) in return for £1.5 billion. Pretty much a bribe, using public money…our money!

Next, May decided to “fix” the committee system so that, despite not having a majority in parliament, the Tories would have a majority of members on every important committee in parliament.  (Somewhat ridiculously they have more members than any other party on the Scottish Affairs Committee)

ahit

Finally, May has brought in and had passed in the Commons, a Bill that will give ministers the right to alter the law without any reference to parliament. The powers have been nick-named Henry VIII powers, after England’s most authoritarian monarch, but many commentators feel that they resemble much more closely The Enabling Act (1933), which allowed Hitler to bypass the Reichstag and rule by ministerial (his) power.

It is a dangerous road to take, and as I said, all the more ironic because, apart from xenophobia, it seems to me that the biggest cries from the popular press were that British laws should be made exclusively by British representatives in a British fashion in Britain, mindful of Great British values (whatever they are). And of course that we keep being told that we MUST respect the  British people who voted for Brexit.

Ho hum, funny old world.

THE PART TIME MPs

£moray

Musta been off persecuting minorities and refusing to take equality advice, again, or maybe refereeing another football match somewhere. Everything seems to be more important than doing his second job.

Jeeez, when I think of what they lost to get this part-time MP, part-time referee, part time Romany hater…

And it might be an idea if other Tory MPs showed a bit of interest in one of our most important economic sectors, agriculture/horticulture. And perhaps they should remind themselves too, that they all represent areas which voted to REMAIN in the EU, so mitigating, for Scotland, the worst effects of the moronic charge over the cliff that England apparently wants to make, is part of their job.

They may be Tories, but they should remember that their jobs depend on VOTERS.

**********