FROM THE RIDICULOUS TO THE EVEN WORSE

By Panda Paws

Recently Danny from Missouri and I had an interesting wee chat about the number of American Presidents who had been assassinated. He mentioned that only one British Prime Minister had ever been killed in office. Which is not to say that a number of them haven’t wanted shooting! But the non-existent British constitution only allows us to “bare arms” though this is currently not advisable due to bad weather so assassination is much less likely!

The bloke’s name was Spencer Perceval who was killed in 1812 so not within living memory. Though Edward Drummond, a civil servant was killed during an assassination attempt on PM Robert Peel in 1843 by Daniel McNaughton, a Scot, who was suffering from paranoid delusions (unrecorded whether he thought Scotland was a valued and equal partner in the Union). He gave his name to the legal McNaughton clauses that define insanity in English law.

Anyway, all this prompted me to think of the PMs I have a living memory of though for some of them I was very young. And what a sorry bunch they have been, resulting in the article title. So here is a brief journey through the leaders of our nation.

  1. Ted Heath, Tory

He and Harold Wilson took buggins turn at the top job during the 1960s and early 1970s. During Heath’s tenure, we had the three day week, due to industrial action by mine workers and a Middle East oil crisis. He was also PM when Bloody Sunday happened and some of the most violent days in the Troubles. A gay man, most of his life he had been closeted given homosexuality was illegal until 1968 in England. He famously hated his successor as Tory party leader. Didn’t we all mate, didn’t we all.

  1. Harold Wilson, Labour

Regarded as soft Left, or what many current members of the party would call a raging communist!, he was PM twice – 1964 to 1970 then from 1974 to 1976. His was a mixed bag premiership. In 1967 sterling was devalued and he made his famous “pound in your pocket” speech. Which was a lie. He also secretly offered circa £500 million in today’s money to Libya’s Gaddafi for the latter to stop arming the IRA. He should be congratulated though for keeping UK out of the Vietnam War despite pressure from the US. He resigned abruptly in 1976 citing exhaustion though he was probably suffering from the onset of the dementia that was hushed up during his retirement.

  1. James Callaghan, Labour

He is only British politician to have held all 4 of the Great Offices of State (Chancellor, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary, PM). He was Chancellor during sterling devaluation and the Home Secretary who sent troops to Northern Ireland. For a lot of people, he is best known for being PM during the Winter of Discontent. A bad time which I now look upon fondly given the disaster capitalism that we currently have. Brexit will probably make it look like the happiest days of our life.

For me, he is best remembered for:

The 1979 devolution referendum I was too young to vote in and the infamous Cunningham amendment aka the “deid voted naw”. The referendum that was 52 yes and 48 no – those numbers may feel familiar in a UK context – so obviously devolution didn’t happen. Because yes really means no.

Keeping quiet about the McCrone report. It was commissioned during Heath’s time but reported during Wilson’s. (But Callaghan was part of the Cabinet keeping it to secret and ensured it remained secret when we were considering devolution).

The no-confidence vote. Look, an election would have needed to be called in at most 5 months after it actually happened. Denis Healey blamed Labour backbenchers for the vote loss, but SLAB blamed and continue to blame the SNP for it. Funnily enough, they never blame the folk that voted Tory; just the SNP for voting against the government. It would take decades for the SNP to rebuild and lose its minority party status.

  1. Margaret Thatcher, Tory

My loathing holds no bounds for this personage. Everything that is wrong with the UK economy today dates back to her obsession with Chicago school economics. Which is bollocks! The only thing trickling down is rich people peeing on you. Which may be marginally better than cats pooing on your petunias or not. (Munguin says he has to think about that- Ed.)

There was no Thatcherite economic miracle. She STOLE my country’s wealth to fund tax cuts for the richest and build infrastructure in London and SE England. In 1990 having sat on the still-top secret McCrone report, she told a Young Conservative conference

We English, who are marvellous people, are really very generous to Scotland and very generous to Wales.”

Generous, fecking generous?

Ravenscraig, Dalzell, Linwood etc – the deindustrialisation of Scotland. Maybe the industries were at the tail end of viability but she did nothing to replace them and instead threw our money at the rich.

Compare and contrast with Norway – roughly same population and fewer non-oil-related natural resources – megabucks, one of the happiest nations on Earth. I imagine when she died they needed to create a new circle of hell just for her! Ironically the woman that privatised our national assets (“selling off the family silver” MacMillan called it) was given a state funeral paid for by the taxpayers. At which George Osborne cried. I cried during her premiership, like most of Scotland.

  1. John Major, Tory

By the 1990s even the Tories had had enough of the mad bag and she was deposed and replaced, not by Heseltine, the stalking horse, but by a man said to be so boring he ran away from the circus to become an accountant. Actually, it’s not really true but his father had been a music hall performer. His Spitting Image puppet famously had a crush on Virginia Bottomley. He was actually having an affair with Edwina Currie. I now pause to allow you to clear your mind with bleach at the thought of John and Edwina together… (Munguin had to leave the room at this point! Fortunately Tris is made of sterner stuff, and has blocked the two of them completely. NO DOIN’T MENTION THEM AGAIN… preferably EVER!)

He was PM when the UK dropped out of the ERM and his tenure became mired in sleaze and numerous sex scandals. Tory family values may not be your family values.

  1. Tony Blair, Tory

Yeah OK, technically Labour, but not really. Thatcher said New Labour was her greatest legacy! Well, I suppose compared to everything else she was responsible for, it might be the least toxic of the toxic. So things didn’t actually get any better – I blame that Prof Brian Cox. Stick to the Physics mate, not the keyboard!

PFI, Iraq, spin, Cash for Honours. Of course, some will credit him with devolution but he was actually against it and his hand was forced by the Council of Europe which had stated the UK was too centralised. So devolution happened on his watch as did stealing 6000 miles of Scottish coastline before its enactment aided and abetted by (not the) Father of the Nation, Donald Dewar, the first First Minister. Why did he steal 6000 miles? No, not to outdo the Proclaimers but did I mention the McCrone report ?– it’s still top secret in 1999 when parliament reconvened (or the Executive as Labour and LibDems liked to call it) and was indeed was only revealed in 2005 after a tip-off about its existence led to an FOI request.

  1. Gordon Brown, New Labour

Or as I like to call him “how now Brown vow, you’ll have had your federalism”. Others call him Nokia Brown due to his apparent penchant for throwing phones at people when frustrated. He was treated badly by the press, however. Yes, he was useless, but Tony was too and got away with murder literally – Iraq!

Funny though that the press that hated him suddenly started treating him like an elder statesman in 2014. The good ole BBC even interrupting programmes to beam his No thanks speech live, despite purdah. Still, this closest thing to federalism is great isn’t it? Nearly as good as the Sewell Convention.

  1. David Cameron, Tory

Just call me Dave, he said. I have several other names in mind. He famously said he wanted to be PM because he thought he’d be good at it.

He wasn’t.

Lazy (chillaxing anyone?) and entitled, he thought he was cleverer than everyone else and didn’t need to try. Newsflash – you weren’t and you did.

Brexit is his legacy. He’d gambled the nation’s future to settle an internal Tory party struggle and the challenge from UKIP. (I’m not sure that little ploy worked too well…well, look at Liam Fox and Anna Soubry-Ed) Buoyed after winning the Scottish independence referendum, which at one point he looked like losing – Daily Record to the rescue – he seemingly forgot or perhaps was too arrogant to see that the MSM wouldn’t be 100% behind him this time.

Jim Callaghan was the only PM to hold all four Great Offices of State and, thanks to Cameron and EVEL, no MP from a Scottish Constituency will ever be able to match this feat should we be daft enough to remain in the Disunited Kingdom. And don’t get me started on his austerity and social security measures!

  1. Theresa May, Tory

Please make it stop. Please. I can’t even. (Nor can I – Ed)

And they say Scotland doesn’t have the talent to run itself!

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RANDOM ROYAL THOUGHTS

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As most of you will have gathered, neither Munguin nor I give a twopenny damn about royals and indeed some English bloke marrying an American woman is a yawn to us. Frankly, I don’t much care when a member of my family gets married, never mind one of their family? But it has headlined in the news so much over the last few days, and it must have been a godsend to the Maybot, whose circuitry must be close to blowing a proverbial gasket, that Munguin wanted me to mention it here.

So, just after Kensington Palace announced the betrothal, the Brit government announced quietly that most benefits wouldn’t be raised yet again this year. With inflation at 3% and expected to rise, that is an out and out scandal.

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It seems that Meghan is a Tory.

Quick lunch break and watched David Cameron’s parting speech. What a class act 👏🏼👏🏼

Not really a class act if you have to live here as an ordinary person, Meghan (not like a duchess, as you will, obviously). He called an unnecessary referendum in an effort to save his backside from a possible rise in UKIP voters. He made a mess of tryying to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU. He mishandled the referendum campaign and allowed people like Gove, Johnson and IDS, Patel and others to tell the most egregious lies about, amongst other things, NHS funding and immigration.

He refused to allow the civil service to do any preparatory work for the eventuality of a Leave vote, because, quite simply, he believed that people like him never lose anything, so that when Brexit hit us, the government was utterly unprepared.

Having promised that he would stick around and continue as prime minister if he lost, he announced early the very next day that he was standing down, but he would remain an MP. Then he quit as an MP.

He’s left the most unholy mess. Whether you are a remainer or a leaver, it is impossible not to see that the whole thing is being unbelievable badly managed by an incompetent prime minister and a set of nut job cabinet ministers at war with one another and who seem incapable of getting a single thing right.

Class act is not a description I recognise.

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Staying on the subject of Harry’s wedding, I read in the Telegraph that they are to be married in St George’s Chapel in Windsor. I also heard that Meghan is a divorcee. Colour me perplexed.

Edward VIII had to abdicate to marry his American divorcee.

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Anne got round the Church of England’s ban on marriage of divorced people who have a spouse living, by coming to Scotland where the Church of Scotland has no such ban. Charles got round marrying Mrs Parker-Bowles while Mr Parker Bowles was still alive, by getting married in a registrants’ office (although he sneakily got the archbishop of Canterbury to bless the wedding, making a bit of a fool of the rules, after all, it is about the fact that marriage is till death do you part).

I was wondering when the Church of England changed their views on marrying divorcees. Anyone know?

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Another royal who suffered at the hands of the English Church and the seemingly sometimes flexible unwritten constitution was Michael. He wanted to marry Princess Pushy an Austrian noblewoman, but because she was a Catholic, he had to give up his place in the succession, because it was unthinkable that a Catholic could ever get anywhere near the throne.

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I rather liked this picture of our Arlene meeting Captain Birdseye (alias Michael of Kent). I’m not quite sure what she’s doing, but it’s an embarrassing time to get caught short!

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Of course, the Daily Express couldn’t let the announcement pass without Diana popping into the office, presumably through a medium, and giving them her views on the thing.

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Anyway, as I would with any couple, I wish them the best. They will have it, of course. Many homes, paid for by us. First class transport, paid for by us. The best in clothes, paid for by us. Fabulous holidays, paid for by us. Servants, paid for by us. And presumably we’ll be paying for the blue blood transfusion as she becomes a duchess.

I was happy to hear that the royals have agreed to pay, out of their £60 billion fortune, some of the cost of the wedding. However, I suspect that the gigantic cost of security will be yet again borne by… you and me.

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I’LL JUST LEAVE THIS HERE…

Mrs Merkel may be able to soldier on at the head of a difficult coalition, but she has lost substantial authority for her EU policies.
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Oh dear, Mr Redwood,
OK, to start off with Angela Merkel has a PhD. And she’s German. So she isn’t “Mrs Merkel”. My best guess at her title is Frau Doktor Merkel. (Ed will correct me, I’m sure, if I got that wrong.)
I can’t help thinking that, although it’s a small point, it would probably help international relations a little if Brits didn’t always assume that their way of doing things was the only way.
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Secondly, you may be forgetting that, like the Germans, the Brits just had a General Election.
Unlike the Germans, it was one held by choice rather than legal necessity.
And, as I recall, Mrs May has managed to soldier on at the head of a difficult uneasy coalition with a hard Christian fundamentalist party, thanks to a large wodge of taxpayers money harvested from this elusive magic money tree which could not be persuaded, only weeks before, to fruit for nurses.
Of course, Mrs May’s policies on Europe have to some extent been saved by the fundamentalists (as long as no one refers to anything having happened any more than 6,000 years ago, anything gay, or any kind of abortion plans), but as her policies on Europe have been limited to: “Brexit means Brexit”; “Brexit will be red, white and blue” and “No deal is better than a bad deal”, I’m not sure that that is of any great matter.
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Mrs May never really had much in the way of authority, having been the “best of a terrible bunch” candidate when Cameron broke another of his promises and stepped down.
She became a figure of fun during the subsequent unnecessary and disastrous election campaign (which she had promised not to have), playing, in closed factories, to houses little bigger than the crowd that failed to turn up to see her speech in New York, and having doors slammed in her face.
However, since she lost the election she has become an international figure of ridicule. The phrase “strong and stable” will never have quite the same meaning again.
Most leaders have ups and downs. Mrs May only seems to have missed out entirely on the ups, but then you’d really be stretching things to call her a “leader”.

‘MY FAIR’ LADY, MR BARROW MAN AND THE ISLE OF MAN

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Fancy that! She got herself a seat on the £300 + a day gravy train and a snooty title for services to being anti-SNP,  and the reason was given that she could be David Cameron’s business Tsar or Czar… like it was impossible to do that without being an aristocrat.

And then she showed such great business judgment that she hitched up with this Barrowman fella, for details of which read the linked article.

The sweet story of a duchess and a barrow boy…

Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely….

NO MORE FREE MEALS FOR ENGLISH KIDS?

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And, of course, this.

Now surely, all of these people aren’t really in need of a free dinner, or in IDS’s case, breakfast. If we are going to bring in austerity means testing, because we are such a broke little country, and about to be even more broke, probably people like Cameron and May should be means tested to see if they earn above the threshold for a free dinner at the expense of taxpayers.

Whit’s guid tae gie’s no ill tae tak, eh Tess?

Grateful thanks to Cllr John Edwards for the idea and some of the pics.

LETTER FROM MUNGUIN

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Dear Mrs May,

Since you became prime minister of your united kingdom, you have consistently said that you won’t have an election outwith the 5-year cycle that your predecessor introduced in order to discourage political opportunists from having elections when it best suited their party.

You said only the other day that the people were getting behind you in Brexit (although we presume that you meant English people because from where we are sitting in the Kingdom of Scotland, we see no sign of it), so it cannot be that you feel that you have need of endorsement for your Brexit policies despite the, to our eyes, apparent abject failure of most of what you are trying to do.

So we aren’t entirely sure why you are doing this. It may indeed be that very political opportunism which Mr Cameron wished to avoid (with a prod from Mr Clegg). Certainly, Labour is very weak, whether in England under Mr Corbyn, in Scotland under Ms Dugdale and possibly even in Wales under Mr Jones. By going for an election that you calculate you cannot lose, you may hope to extend your tenure of the top job from 4 to 6 years without much trouble from the main opposition party.

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Beware, however. No matter how unpopular Labour may be we’re not certain that there are many seats that it can lose. You might say that they are relatively close to ‘core vote’. What’s left now would rather eat their own feet than vote Tory. And, two years down the line from the disastrous coalition, the Liberal Democrats could pick up some of the seats that the Conservative took from them in 2015, particularly seats which are largely pro-EU. Whilst there is a possibility that you might take a Scottish seat or two due to a mixture of Labour’s uselessness and the fact that your tank commanding lady in the sole serious representative of the British Bulldog in its red white and blue splendour. We’d not count on you getting too many, though (remember the rape clause REALLY went down badly here), and it’s not beyond possibility that you will lose Fluffy, his coat being on what we would call a shooglie nail. (Although we dare say that’s a ‘disaster’ you could cope with.)

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In any normal circumstances, we’d assume that any government would have taken all of this into consideration before embarking on this ‘brave’ endeavour. But with the government you lead, given your record thus far, one can never be certain that things have been thought of, never mind thought through.

It has been the custom over the last few elections, here in Scotland, in the UK and farther afield, for party leaders to take part in debates on live television in order that the population may find out what it is voting for, directly, if you’ll pardon the expression,  from the horses mouths, as opposed to the glossy wishlist stuck through doors (which, in the majority of cases, make their way from doormat to bin without passing Go, or collection £200 as it were). It’s all very well to say in a leaflet that you are going to do this, that and the next thing, but it is far more interesting to see policies dissected by opposite numbers, don’t you think. Almost entertaining sometimes.

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And, of course, that works both ways. You get the chance to question other party leaders’ policies, live in front of the peoples of your united kingdom.

We understand, though, that you have said quite categorically that you will not take part in any tv debates with your opposite numbers.

We can only guess at your reasons for doing this, but we trust you understand that the public will demand that these debates go ahead with or without your participation.

Yours sincerely

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Munguin

PS: You might have had the decency to allow the local elections taking place all over Scotland to be over before you made your announcement. I say you might have, but clearly, you didn’t.

PPS. What will happen to the 30 Tories who are under police investigation in England for cheating with their election expenses? Surely until they are cleared they cannot possibly be candidates in a further election? How can we guarantee that they will not cheat again?

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We just saw this corker of a front page:

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She’ll KILL off Labour, SMASH rebel Tories and it will be blue MURDER.

Nice measured language, The Sun.

OH DEAR, OH DEAR, OH DEAR

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Change of heart there, then, Mick? I mean something that was unconstitutional at the end of  2015 can’t have become constitutional by the beginning of 2017, unless there has been a change in the constitution. Has there?

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Maybe instead of banning  Muslims from countries that Trump Enterprises doesn’t do business with, you could try banning Americans, or maybe guns? Even armed toddlers seem to be more of a menace than Jihadists.

 

Wish we had an alternative administration. One with a brain cell or two would be nice.

Right, I think, but, oooops, that’s your bosses new best friend ever!

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An orange and gold angel?

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What was she thinking of?

Remember when David Cameron, in the job only a matter of weeks and green as a cabbage, headed off to Egypt to proclaim the Arab Spring and associate himself with the Egyptian revolution? The first Western leader to do so. Indeed the only Western leader to do so. Well, as a matter of fact, the only leader anywhere to do so. How did that end? Egg a plenty splashed all over his coupon, that’s how!

So, given how volatile we all know the American president can be, and given the tone of some of his campaign promises, why oh why did this woman, herself hardly experienced in running the country, take herself off to grovel to him before she studied him a little more carefully?

Easy. She needed the promise of a trade deal from him. Doesn’t much matter what trade deal, just a trade deal, any trade deal. And she threw in a promise. At this stage! Can you believe this? The most frightening aspect of TTIP, which had been being negotiated with the USA by the EU, the access of American companies to our health services, seems to have been incorporated into her proposed deal.

I note wiser and more experienced heads have been much more cautious in their approach.

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And now, of course, she’s lumbered herself with a state visit… and rumour has it that Donald wants the whole thing. State banquet at Windsor, golf at Balmoral. All the tra la la that the Brits can offer, in spades. Trouble is that it is being met with a considerable amount of opposition from ordinary Brits. An online petition against a State visit, on the government site has, at the time of writing, reached an incredible 1,378,000 signatures. And the number is rising at about 1,000 a minute.

According to the rules, a petition that gets 100,000 signatures is given consideration for a debate in parliament. May already dismissed this petition on its first day (again a foolish thing to do). It will be interesting how far she is prepared to ignore a substantial public voice. And tonight, all over the UK there are protests planned. Will she ignore them too?

Furthermore, when the state visit comes, is she ready for the demonstrations that will greet him everywhere? And how will she deal with them? Water cannon?

Andrea Leadsom Pulls Out Of The Conservative Leadership Race

The trouble for her is that Hell hath no fury like a Trump scorned. Ask Alex Salmond who went from being the best politician in the world to the devil incarnate, almost overnight. I’m betting that there are times she wishes she’d let Andrea Whatever she’s called, the unknown fox hunter person, win. It would have been her nightmare then.

Update: Glasgow Anti-Trump.

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Petition currently at 1,450,000 7.10

Update II: Edinburgh

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Update III: Dundee

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Update IV: Parliament

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Update V: This is fun

It appears that the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary is displeased about comparisons being made between Trump and Hitler. Mr Maugham points out a small flaw in this thought process:

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What, like Boris himself did when talking about François Hollande and “punishment beatings” in a “World War two movie”?

Take that, Boris.

Update VI: Aberdeen

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