DON’T MAKE US LAUGH, MAY

I’m not sure whether to laugh or to be angry.

According to the Independent, Mrs May’s speech to the Tories little get together in Wales tomorrow, will talk about how Scottish independence would ruin Britain’s chances of getting a good deal from the EU in their Brexit negotiations.

In order to get the deal she wants, she thinks that Scotland must pull together with the “rest of the country”. England, I imagine she means.

She will call upon the Scots to get behind her plans (what plans?) because “we are one people”.

To assume this, given all the recent evidence to the contrary, her audacity must surely know no bounds.

In almost everything and in almost every way, we are very different peoples. In particular, over the Brexit deal she wants to get (and probably has as much of a chance of getting as Munguin has of being the next president of Botswana), we are completely different.

It seems to have completely escaped this woman’s notice that Scotland voted, not narrowly, but very conclusively, to stay in the EU. To be honest, even if we hadn’t I think there’s a fair chance we wouldn’t be backing the chaos her idiot ministers are sleepwalking into. There’s Brexit, and then there’s Brexsuicide.

She seems oblivious to the fact that we elected ONE single Tory out of the 59 Scottish MPs, to contribute to her government in London. One, and by a tiny majority. Whereas in England they managed by hook or by crook (and that might be an appropriate word) they elected  Tory government.

We are not one people Mrs May. We are two kingdoms and principality and a province, and we are all very different, with different economies and different needs. (And it might be an idea to remember that there is a British Overseas Territory which also has to be considered into the bargain.)

Whilst May’s party has set about tearing down the welfare state, removing benefits for some of our most vulnerable people, dismantling that part of the NHS over which they have direct control, making life utterly unbearable for the worst off, handing out tax reductions to some of the richest, and with plans to remove the UK from the ECHR she will have the brass neck to say: “Our Plan for Britain is a plan for a brighter future. A plan to make the most of the opportunities ahead and to build a stronger, fairer Britain that is more united and more outward-looking.” Stronger and fairer? Seriously? Fairer? Tell that to the people being assessed for PIP who are being asked why they haven’t committed suicide yet!

No, Mrs May, let me tell you, we Scots don’t believe a single word you say. Not you nor any of your hapless, self-serving amateur ministers, especially you blundering idiot of a Scottish Secretary.

We don’t want to leave Europe at any price, but certainly not under any deal that you or any of your team would ever be able to negotiate. Seriously: David Davis, Boris Johnson. Liam Fox? Liam Bloody FOX???? Please!

Scots didn’t vote for your vile cruel, self-serving, incompetent government. And we don’t want it. if you are comforting yourself that you made a small headway in our General Election, compared to your General Election a year earlier, then you should remember that it is because Labour is even more pathetic than your lot. And remember too that the improvement was largely made in list seats.

Remember standing in front of all those empty seats? Well, go look at the crowds of cheering people in Aberdeen today for OUR leader.

We won’t get behind you. We won’t back your plans(?), which almost undoubtedly mean selling Scotland out, as your predecessors did. We have friends in Europe. They like us. They like our first minister. I suspect that they don’t like you much.

FORGET IT WAS BLAIR. LET’S CONCENTRATE ON THE QUESTIONS RATHER THAN THE PERSONALITY

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There can be little doubt that if you wanted a cause to succeed in Britain, one of the very last people you’d chose to be the cheerleader for it would be Tony Blair. (But then no one chose him; he just did it.) He undoubtedly has some fans left, although I think most of them form the hard-right-wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Outside of that, I suppose George W Bush likes him, I’m sure that Jim Murphy is still a fan and Mystic Meg look alike,  John McTernan, is bound to be lurking somewhere in his slipstream, making prophecies from hell.

But with something as important as Brexit, it might have been comforting if those arguing against Blair had a little more to dish out than personal insults (not that I’m averse to anyone handing Mr Blair his backside on a plate).

Here then, are some questions that another Blair fanboy, Alistair Campbell, has come up with and had published in the European. I lift the text from their website (see link), unaltered and without their permission or Mr Campbell’s. (OK, I’m no fan of Alistair either, but this is good stuff. Credit where it is due.) The illustrations are mine.

So, without further ado, questions to those who are leading the cheers for Brexit: 

1. Do you accept that many people who voted Leave did so without knowing the full terms of Brexit?

2. Do you accept that it is open to the people to change their minds if they decide Brexit will in fact harm their own and the country’s interests?

3. Do you accept that there is no monopoly on patriotism and that there might be a patriotic case for wishing to reverse the referendum decision, if enough people feel it will be damaging to the UK?

4. Do you agree the government approach can now Be defined as “Brexit at any cost”?

5. Do you accept that people are entitled to be concerned at the scale of that cost, economically and politically?

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6. Do you accept that the financial cost of withdrawal, the UK having to pay for previous EU obligations but not benefit from future opportunities, could be as high as £60bn?

7. Do you agree with the Prime Minister’s and the Chancellor’s former views that maintaining our partnership with the biggest political union and largest commercial market on our doorstep fulfills rather than diminishes our national interest?

8. Is there not something surreal about the Prime Minister and Chancellor now claiming hard Brexit is a huge boon for the country when during the campaign they said the opposite, in Hammond’s case with real conviction?

9. Do you accept that politics, not economics or the genuine national interest, is now driving the Hard Brexit chosen by May?

10. Are you seriously saying the PM’s vision of Britain as a “great open trading nation” is best served by leaving the largest free trading bloc in the world? Might her vision of Britain as a bridge between Europe and the US be more realistic if we remained part of the EU?

11. In what way will her call for a fairer capitalism be met by moving to a low tax, light regulation economy?

12. Do you accept that if the right-wing ideologues pushing a hard Brexit so Britain becomes a low tax, low regulation, offshore hub have their way, we will need huge tax and welfare changes? Were they voted for in the referendum?

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13. Will this approach in fact lead to less not more public money for the NHS?

Less not more protection for workers?

14. Is it not the case that the UK government could make these changes now, but wouldn’t because they know they do not have public support for them?

15. Is there any chance at all that Brexit will lead to £350m a week more for the NHS

16. Please define the “big argument” that Tony Blair argues is missing from this pursuit of hard Brexit, and how it will benefit Britain economically.

17. Do you agree that of the many arguments put forward for Leave in the referendum, only immigration and the ECJ (European Court of Justice) are still really being pursued?

18. Do you accept that the Leave campaign deliberately conflated the ECJ and the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights)?

19. Can you confirm that that ECHR is not and never has been a EU body?

20. Can you name any laws the UK has not been able to pass because of the ECJ?

21. Can you confirm that of net immigration into the UK in 2016, over half was from outside the EU?

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22. Do you accept that as May wants to keep those EU immigrants who come with a confirmed job offer, and students, this leaves around 80,000 who come looking for work without a job?

23. Do you agree that of these 80,000, roughly a third comes to London, mostly working in the food processing and hospitality sectors; and that the practical impact of Brexit on our “control” of immigration is on analysis less than 12% of the immigration total?

24. Do you agree that most of the immigrants we are talking about in this 12% work hard and pay their taxes?

25. Do you think the biggest constitutional, political, economic and social change of our lifetime is merited by such numbers as set out in questions 22 to 24?

26. Do you accept that the immigration most people worry about – that of people determined to challenge our security and way of life, in the name of a perverted view of Islam – is not affected by Brexit?

27. Do you agree that the post Article 50 negotiations are going to be as complex as any we have experienced, covering a vast number of areas?

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28. Do you accept, as a matter of fact, that the single market covers around half of our trade in goods and services?

29. Do you accept that leaving the Customs Union may adversely impact on trade with other countries like Turkey?

30. Can you confirm that we will need to negotiate the replacement of over 50 Preferential Trade Agreements we have via our membership of the EU?

31. Do you accept that EU-related trade is actually two thirds of the UK total?

32. Do you accept scientific research and culture are both going to suffer as a result of Brexit, and indeed already are?

33. Are you content to have the WTO as a fall back strategy should we fail to reach a satisfactory deal within two years?

34. Do you accept this too has enormous complexity attached to it; that we would need to negotiate the removal not just of tariff barriers; but the prevention of non-tariff barriers which today are often the biggest impediments to trade?

35) Do you agree that the fall in the value of sterling against the euro and the dollar as a result of Brexit is an indication that the international financial markets believe we are going to be poorer?

36. Do you accept that therefore the price of imported goods is up and so will be inflation?

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37. Do you agree that the single market and enlargement were huge foreign policy successes for the UK?

38. Do you agree that the single market has brought billions of pounds of wealth, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and major investment opportunities for the UK?

39. Do you agree that enlargement has enhanced EU and NATO security?

40. Do you accept that in the early 21st century, most countries are seeking to forge rather than break regional and economic alliances?

41. Do you agree we can do more on issues like the environment with others than alone?

42. Do you agree that the route taken on and since June 23 has helped revive the argument about Scotland leaving the UK?

43. Do you accept that the failure to address the question of how to maintain EU freedom of movement without a hard border between Ireland and the UK is destabilising the peace process?

44. Do you accept the government is obsessed with Brexit, and has no choIie but to be so?

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45. Do you accept that the scale of government focus on Brexit is having a detrimental impact on their ability to deal with other issues, such as the NHS, education, the new economy, crime, prisons – and, er, immigration policy?

46. Do you accept there is a cartel of right wing newspapers skewing the debate in the broadcast media, and whose support for May is contingent on her pursuing a hard Brexit policy?

47. Do you agree that had the business survey mentioned by Blair said the opposite – namely huge confidence in Brexit – it would have led the news because the cartel would have splashed on it, not ignored it?

48. Do you accept Brexit has divided the country across its nations, regions and generations, contrary to May’s claim to have 65million people behind her?

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**********

Are you with us or against us?

In Scotland to be considered for a government contract a company must be able to show that it is paying what the UK government laughingly calls a living wage and that there is no exploitative use of zero-hours contracts in the organisation.

I’m not sure that anyone could much disagree with that.

I’d expect the same thing to happen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, although I don’t know if it’s so.

But there is a new condition for contracts being awarded to companies by the UK/English government and it worries me.

They must be positive about Brexit.

They are calling it ‘Cultural Fit’. A company must fit with the cultural of the British government if they wish to work on a state contract. Does that mean they have to agree with other government policies too? If so, how many of them and which ones?  Does it mean all the company’s staff have to agree with the government or just the management?

What next?

Will they be asking if you are Protestant or Catholic?

What about if you are a monarchist or republican?

Do you vote Tory?

Do you back the privatisation of all state assets?

Have you donated to the Conservative Party?

Frightening.

And if the government can legally do that on its contracts, will they allow companies to hire staff on that basis? What next? Will unemployment and sickness benefits be paid only to Brexiteers?

And, given the balance of opinion in Scotland, 62 to 38, does that mean that Scottish firms will be even more disadvantaged on UK government contract bidding?

I know it sounds ridiculous, but back in the 1980s Tory ex-prime minister Harold MacMillan couldn’t believe that Mrs Thatcher was selling off the family silver, and that was only the electricity, gas and telecoms companies. Now virtually everything in England is privatised. Petit à petit; pas à pas, as they might say in France, these things grow.

ISN’T BREXIT FUN?

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It’s not an unreasonable interpretation, and I don’t doubt that it’s true, particularly when you consider where the majority of Leave votes came from. But, as you may remember, there were no questions on the ballot paper about levels of general satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Just a simple “Leave” or “Remain”. bexit10

What Mrs May is saying, it seems to me, is that in England and in Wales, with administrations run by the Tories and Labour respectively, people are fed up. Britain doesn’t work for them. They are not listened to. No one cares. Queens live in palaces, MPs get pay rises, Lords continue to be paid for sleeping while pensioners have to pay the bedroom tax, kids are hungry, and people sleep in the streets. They are dissatisfied, and because the tabloids have told them for years that everything,

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that was wrong with Britain was wrong as a result of the UK’s membership of the European Union, and foreigners/immigrants being here, they chose to vote to leave.

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Mrs May might like to take a lead from the administrations in parts of Britain which did not vote to leave the world’s biggest trading block: Gibraltar, Northern Ireland and Scotland, if she is looking for inspiration on how to make things work for people who didn’t go to Eton or Oxford; maybe those who don’t have titles, aren’t royal or indeed who hold other “celebrity status”.

And given that both Northern Ireland and Gibraltar have close cross-border ties with their “foreign” neighbours, and therefore have a desperate need to stay attached to Europe, if I were her, I should concentrate on how things are done in Scotland.

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Mrs May indicated yesterday in a nervous jittery stammering tv interview that there was little chance of the UK remaining in a single market with Europe, the result of which was that the pound lost 1% of its value. This may be seen as another disappointment for people who haven’t been listened to.

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You see, that WASN’T what folk were led to believe, at least by the ever hopeful Mr Davis.

And you could understand, given the current mess of the English Health Service before the worst of the winter has actually happened, that people may be wondering where the £350 million a week that it was promised on the side of that bus, has gone.

If I were Mrs May I’d start delivering. Reducing tax for the better off and imposing bedroom tax on pensioners, allowing people to die after 30+ hour waits on trollies, having to depend on the Red Cross for medical care isn’t what folk were expecting. And frankly, an extra few million for mental health issues that apparently affect 25% of the population, is a slap in the face to the sufferers and clinicians alike.

Oh, and for those that thought that all would be well with their workplace, here’s a little reminder of the way the trade secretary’s mind is working (if you can read that without choking with laughter).

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Aye, that’s your job that will be deregulated. Enjoy!

TRUMP EXPLAINED IN A THREE-BOX CARTOON

NOW, HOW CAN WE EXPLAIN BREXIT?

What happened was that Americans were fed up with the way their country was run (a bit like the Brits were) as you can see in the first picture.

So, unlike in the UK, it is possible to change that. Shake a stick at it (see second box of cartoon), by electing someone from the left field (OK, in this case, the right field). Someone totally different; someone with no Washington DC experience, Senate or House; someone with no State experience, Governor, or local government; someone with no military or legal experience.

Someone, in fact, with the world’s weirdest hair. Someone who is Orange and lives in a Las Vegas-like tower of glitter and gold. Someone who makes Liberace’s taste look cultivated. Someone who is racist, sexist and pokes fun at people who are disabled. Someone who despises gay people brags he can get off with any woman, and sends himself congratulatory tweets before he’s even in the job.

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There, that should do it, or not, as you can see in the third box of the cartoon.

In the UK, Scots had the courage to throw out a lot of dead wood. People who had been lurking around the back benches for years, getting fatter by the day, and some who thought to stride the world stage as statesmen, mighty leaders. And they replaced them with lawyers, doctors, surgeons, estate agents, all brand new to this House of Commoners lark…  and threw in a rookie 21 year old who had to get a day off for graduation and turned out to be a star.

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On the other hand, England decided that Ed  Miliband looked a bit of a dick when he was eating a bacon sandwich and voted instead for a man who actually was a bit of a dick, who thought that really all that mattered was standing up straight, wearing a good suit, doing up one’s tie and singing lustily “God Save the Queen”. A man who was so conceited he thought he could talk Joe and Jo Soap into voting for the EU, after he and his ilk had spent the last 40 years blaming everything that went wrong on that very thing, with the help of their odious mates in the gutter press.  A man who failed, however, to convince people, and having done so, slid out the back door and off to make a fortune following Blair round the world selling himself like an exclusive rent-boy in a good suit and straight tie singing “God Save the Queen”.

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And thanks to him we have the singularly inept “Mayhem” of a prime minister, leading a bunch of third raters and, with probably the most momentous thing to happen in the UK since WWII about to befall us, she has placed our futures in the hands of a clown and a couple of mindless drips with no understanding of…well, anything.

I dunno who is worse off.

WHAT WITH IT BEING BOXING DAY…

…And the rich and “cultivated” needing their share of murdering things… I thought I’d just put up a picture of these Brit Cabinet Ministers.  If anyone sees any connection with cruelty and barbarism, it’s all completely coincidental.

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While we are on the subject of Boxing Day, I saw earlier this cartoon character explosion in a paint factory, who must smell like a beery ashtray, was at one of these Jeremy Hunt things and presumably the Fox was there too. Anyway, be warned should you run into him, stand upwind.

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SNAPS ON SATURDAY

I didn’t know Liam Fox could cook…
I DID know, he was an idiot with a tendency to get things wrong.
You most certainly should have.
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In fact, that is true. In reality, not being ‘legal tender’ means absolutely nothing. NO NOTES are legal tender in Scotland. By these standards one would be totally within one’s right to refuse to accept Bank of Engand notes… or indeed ANY paper money in Scotland. Incidentally, it is always, regardless of what note, at the discretion of anyone, retailer, customer, whoever, to accept or refuse payment/change in any form.

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Proud of that, are you? Needed to eat it, did you? Or was it just a fun thing to do for a stupid, idle, rich kid?

http://www.acbi.org.uk/media/sni_notes_factsheet_nov12_copy1.pdf

Further information on cash in the UK.