So, old Tess addressed the United Nations General Assembly today and almost no one showed up. There were obviously doing stovies and corned beef in the canteen, or something!

Yesterday President Macron drew a far larger crowd and, of course, the place was full to bursting when Coco the Clown appeared doing his Rocket Man act. But then everyone loves a comic as top of the bill.


OK, no one else, except maybe Putin or Xi is going to draw a crowd like that. I’m not sure what they were expecting… maybe a mix between Miss World and The Apprentice, but they came along to hear what he had to say, because however mad he is, he is the POTUS and however ridiculous his statements, what he says counts for something.

It is a mark of how unimportant Britain is that President Mahmoud Abas of Palestine got a bigger crowd than Mayhem.  Simply no one is interested in what Britain thinks.

I know May has made a big thing of this speech she is giving in Florence (why Florence… taking advantage of the free travel while she’s still got a job?) on Friday. I’m just wondering if anyone will turn up!



Many people in the UK could be relatively unaware of what is happening in Catalonia given that the BBC seems determined to give it as little coverage as possible. I had the car radio on the way home tonight and the ‘PM’ show on Radio 4 had sent a reporter off to India to find out about how some company there is making saris just like Mother Theresa wore (you know, the nun, not the prime ministerial joke). In the time I was listening not a word was said about democracy being trampled under a jackboot in a European country.


The take over of the government of Catalonia by the Spanish seems to be of little import to Britain, deserving of even less coverage than the daily killing of kids in Yemen (ya know, using British bombs).

Munguin just wanted to say that we support the Catalonians wholeheartedly as they have done for us. We wish them well in these dreadful times and we find their spirit and courage to be inspiring. We really hope they get their vote out in the referendum without violence and that Spain will come to its senses and accept that being a democratic country means that you have to allow democracy.


In the long term, you cannot hold on to something that does not wish to be held.





…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.


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.


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!)



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.


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.


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.


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:


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.



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



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.


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:
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

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

Courtesy of Fightback pro bono lawyers



N mont st Michel
Mont St Michel.
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
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
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.
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.




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.


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.


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.