A TALE OF TWO (WELL, THREE) LEADERS

To paraphrase Mr Dickens, “It was the best of leaders”:

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Oh, and again: “It was the worst of leaders”:

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AH YES, THEN THERE’S RUTH…

Still, this bloke called her out for her lies.

If you have to make up stuff to criticise the government in Scotland, that sort of suggests to me that you can’t actually find anything that you can truthfully call them out on.

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AND HERE IS THE NEWS: TODAY SOMEONE RETURNED A VERY OVERDUE LIBRARY BOOK…AND THERE’S A SQUIRREL…LOOK!

The other day there was a small demonstration on London’s river, the Thames. It involved a few middle-aged men and some dead fish. It seemed to get quite a bit of coverage in the media (including our own humble pages). Possibly because it involved Jacob Rees Mogg (the next UK prime minister, they say), Nigel Farage, the arch publicist, and much more interesting, the aforementioned dead fish.

Today there was a massive demonstration in Edinburgh involving thousands of protesters who joined arms around our parliament in a symbolic gesture telling the UK parliament to keep its hands off our powers.

I mean, we can be pretty certain that Westminster’s objectives in repatriating powers to THEIR parliament instead of OURS is NOT IN ANY WAY destined to be for the good of the Scottish people.

As if!

So thousands of people turned up and they joined hands and encircled our parliament, as you can see from photographs to be found all over the net.

As far as I can make out, however, the BBC didn’t bother mentioning it on the grown-up national news, and even BBC Shortbread had it so far down the pecking order it went almost unnoticed.

Indeed, according to the BBC… “news” under Scotland, a library book returned after 36 years, was considered to be more important. now Munguin’s Republic encourages people to return Library books timeously… or even late… (and we’re sure that will get Conan’s backing too) but come on… Thousands of people protesting at parliament in the capital and one library book!

So, if you aren’t internet savvy and you don’t live in fairly close proximity to parliament in the capital, you ain’t gonna know that it happened.

Well, of course, unless you live abroad… because the Chinese were there

 

The BBC seems determined not to report any news that is good for Scotland and in particular the independence movement, but you can bet that if only 4 people had turned up, Misreporting Scotland would have been over it like a particularly nasty rash.

I don’t know if they think they are doing Westminster a favour; I don’t know if they think there is a collection of Damehoods, Knighthoods and Peerages to be gained if they manage to keep news from us, but I tell you this, as a long-term strategy, this kinda thing rarely works.

You’ll be rumbled, BBC.

Anyway, Munguin wishes he’d been there (if only to take tea with Nicola afterwards) but to all the great folk who WERE there (and I know some Munguinites were), we say thank you for going and playing your part in telling London where to get off.

Let’s make “so called” Reporting Scotland an essential epithet.

BUT THE BRITISH PEOPLE VOTED FOR THIS…ERM, DIDN’T THEY?

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Laura Kuenssberg has just tweeted this illustration of the economic impact assessments that MPs have been allowed to see. Important to note forecasts are for a fifteen year period – and predict how much more slowly the economy would grow, not how much it would shrink, so they still expect growth, just a good bit less of it.

So, if you voted for Brexit, this is how much worse the pro-Brexit “Department for Exiting the EU predicts your future will be.

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Scotland, were we to stay in the single market, which May has ruled out (on pain of the disgraced Liam Fox resigning… Yeah yeah, I know, anyone else would see that as a massive bonus, but what the hell???) would lose 2.5% of our growth. With some sort of Free Trade Deal, a very dubious possibility, we’d lose 6%, and if we work on WTO figures,  the most likely scenario, 9%.

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This is broadly in line with the conclusions of the Scottish government’s impact assessment which found that Scotland’s GDP would be 8.5% lower by 2030 than it would be if it stayed in the EU if Brexit resulted in the UK trading with Europe on WTO terms. It would be 6.1% lower with a free trade agreement, but only 2.7% lower if the UK stayed in the single market.

That’s in a country that voted 62-38 to REMAIN.

!AB

But, with the broad shoulders of Britain, and the strong and stable hands and legs and arms and possibly other bits of the Maybot… what chance does Barnier have?

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Hoi Munguin:

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Aye right… whatever.

YOU SEE, THEY JUST CAN’T HELP IT

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One might equally have asked the Member for Lothian Region if she could have come back from the Australian Jungle and got on with the day job.

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Or maybe they might have asked her why, when she was leader of the Scottish Labour Party, she thought that it was a good idea to visit  America to campaign for Hillary Clinton.

See, by now Kez, I’d have thought that you might have learned that people who live in glass houses should probably buy VERY big curtains.

Of all the train companies in this Benighted Kingdom, ScotRail has the best performance.

In fairness, Kezia may not have noticed that there is a howling gale across Scotland and that there has been torrential rain. An unfortunate outcome of this is that outdoor things tend not to work at 100% capacity… and I might say, wouldn’t do even if she, or her daft new boss, were the first minister.

As we have said before, reasoned and reasonable criticism is the job of opposition. Criticism for the sake of criticism is not.

Powerful and dynamic though the first minister may be, the winds and the waves do not obey her, no more does the rain.

Grow up, Kez.

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Of course, it’s the Daily Mail, so it’s unadulterated rubbish.

In 2009, in private audience with the Queen at Balmoral (something not granted to the Daily Mail “journalists”), Alex Salmond and HM discussed flag flying after which he ordered that the Royal Standard be flown on “royal occasions”, rather than the union flag.

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“I remember the occasion very well,” Salmond said in a post on his website.

“Her Majesty asked me if the Lion Rampant was a popular flag in Scotland.

“I was able to assure her that it was and indeed much beloved of Scottish football and rugby fans. Thus I brought the new policy into effect and left the union flag flying, as appropriate, at armed forces day and Remembrance Sunday.”

And that makes sense. Flying a royal standard is a great deal more respectful to the Queen personally than flying any other flag.

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Happy to correct if wrong, but which part of the Telegraph front page article is wrong. They quote advice issued by your government that only the Satire should be flown on all occasions apart from Remembrance Sunday. Does that document not exist?

1/2 It has been practice to fly Lion Rampant on Royal occasions since 2010. I have not ordered, instructed, authorized any change – indeed there has been no change. Civil servants recently updated published guidance to reflect the long standing practice…

Needless to say the ever moronic Murdo Fraser made a fool of himself by comparing Nicola’s tweets to those of Donald Trump’s. UH? Get back on the meds, Murdo.

Fraser said: “This is a desperate attempt by Nicola Sturgeon to spin her way out of trouble.

“The SNP is more interested in lowering Union Flags than raising standards in schools and hospitals.

“The First Minister’s Trump-style Twitter denial by candlelight last night does nothing to change the facts.”

Well, in that respect, of course, he is right. The fact is that there has been no change.

Mr Fraser must have been going around with his head under his arm because this has been the policy since 2010. Does he not notice anything around him?

As we said, Murdo, it was agreed with the Queen 9 years ago!

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Have you ever had a private audience of the Queen, Murdo? Awe well never mind. Maybe when whatever Rangers are called now win the Cup, huh?

Anyway, we look forward to the Mail’s apology in 5pt  type on page 42.

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CARRY ON, DICK

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Erm, nice scarf.

The hapless Richard Leonard, seemingly always trying to get one over on the SNP, took to Twitter to elicit stories about NHSS.

The NHS crisis dominated today, I would like to hear your stories: good, bad or indifferent of the experience you, or a loved one, had with the NHS over winter.

Good bad or indifferent, he said, but it seemed to me that he was probably looking for bad stories, the better to beat Nicola Sturgeon around the head with.

And he got lots of comments.

But, as they say, one should always be a little careful what one wishes for. Because his very first reply was from Joe Kane:

Replying to 

I’ve a real shocker for you Richard. It’s difficult to imagine such exploitation in a modern health service, but Scottish Labour used the to line the pockets of rich tory shareholders. I’m sure you’ll mention it at the next

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Ewww, er, Matron!

One of the reasons that the health service in our country is short of money is that we are paying for the hideously expensive PFI contracts signed by his predecessors. Joe pointed this out, as did several other people.

Wishaw hospital, for example, would have cost around £100 million bought and paid for, but thanks to Labour’s financing schemes, it will cost £800 million. And who is pocketing the £700 million extra?

These contracts were repeated all over the country, and not just for NHSS facilities. (We know about the PFI schools so badly built that they fell down!)

Richard wasn’t any luckier with his second respondent.

Replying to 

We had a terrible time in A&E in October with my sister’s knee injury, after the initial triage we waited SEVEN hours, although the target is to be seen within 4. She was in a lot of pain, it was awful. This was in Wales. You’re lucky that you live in Scotland.

He must have been salivating as he read the first couple of lines. Then smack! The punchline hit him The guy who was talking about poor treatment was actually from Wales, and he was referring to treatment his sister received at the hands of  NHSW.
Of course, there were good news stories too. 
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Replying to 

Virus affected my asthma, got emergency appointment with GP same day. Antibiotics and referral for X-ray. Seen at Wishaw General within 1/2 hour. Back to GP for results the next week. Great service, but hey, that’s not what you’re want to hear, is it Richard?

No, probably not, but he did ask!

Replying to 

Cardiology appt today 11:30am seen immediately and out 15 mins later ,Dr couldn’t have been better

And…

Replying to 

Phoned surgery AM, got appoint AM, seen by Doctor on time, walked to Chemist got my FREE prescription all before 11.30am. Excellent Service, love my Scottish NHS.

And…
Replying to 

Three family experiences in last three weeks. One at A&E. all excellent experiences. I hope you read this out at FMQs.

Replying to 

Vascular ward at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary absolutely first class over winter including Christmas Day. Staff from all over the world contributing. I wish your party would stand up for them or there will be a real crisis.

Or…

Called GP first thing, hurt knee, couldn’t walk. Was collected that afternoon, seen, diagnosed and offered to be taken home, via chemist (for my free prescription). 5⭐️

In the hashtag, as far as I read down, I couldn’t find one critical comment of NHSS.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have its faults and that there won;t be some negative comments as the day goes on. It would be weird if there were not.

Indeed the FM has accepted and apologised for delays.

My own family’s experience this winter has been, as most of you will know, the absolutely first class treatment my mother received at Ninewells in Dundee. Also, another family member had a baby in the same hospital just after Christmas, and again they reported nothing but total satisfaction with the way they were treated at the time and in the aftermath.

The UK’s health services are short of cash and they are short of staff. Scotland’s may be less so than the others, but it is a UK wide issue.

As well as the massive repayments of PFI debt that Mr Leonard’s party left us with, as a union we spend a good deal less than we should on health.

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I remember somewhere back in the early part of this century, that Tony Blair promised to bring UK spending on health, as a percentage of GDP, up to the EU average. (I thought it strange, given how superior Britain thinks itself, that it wasn’t the other way round.)

Whilst progress has been made, we still fall behind most other G7 countries and much of the EU.

Brexit, as in so many other areas, must take some responsibility here too. European doctors, nurses and other staff are unsure of their careers in the UK. Recruitment from the 27 is sharply down and some people are returning home as they doubt the stability of their future here. They may be allowed to stay after Brexit, but as aliens, with no rights. People don’t want to do that on a long-term basis, and certainly not as they settle down, buy houses and have children.

An ageing population means that there is more need for hospital treatment, and people may need to stay longer in hospital.  Sad truth is it takes longer for older pople to recover than for younger. This was something which could easily have been planned for. All these older people didn’t suddenly appear out of the blue, after all.

Of course, throughout the UK, this winter has seen a particularly virulent flu virus which has doubled the numbers of people requiring beds.

No one pretends that it’s easy to run a health service. Not here, not in England or Northern Ireland, Wales or indeed anywhere else. But with limited funds, Scotland is doing better than most, and certainly all the other UK health services.

I suspect that Richard Leonard wanted to pick some choice complaints for next week’s First Minister’s Questions and for any interviews he might be able to give to the Press or TV in the meantime. And he may yet get some.

But I trust that any comments he makes in the chamber next Thursday will reflect the stories, good and bad, he is getting about the current situation, along with criticism of the utter waste of money that was and still is, PFI.

Feel free to share your stories, good or bad, with Mr Leonard, or with Munguin.

HAS ANYONE AT THE BBC READ THE LIST OF RESERVED MATTERS?

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In short, there is nothing that the Scottish government can do to stop this loss-making semi-nationalised company closing a large part of its network of branches in Scotland, even though it promised that it would never leave a town without a bank.

RBS was 73% owned by the British government at the end of 2015 (the latest figures I could find). If the British government wishes to do something about the closures, it is the major shareholder. Despite the fact that he will have to sell the shares at a massive loss, Philip Hammond is intending to do just that.

Getting rid of the 62 branches in Scotland along with 197 branches of NatWest in England will make it a leaner operation and more attractive to buyers. So, maybe this has been done in collusion with Hammond, given he represents the largest shareholder.

To the best of my knowledge, the Scottish government has no shares in the company.

It’s a great pity that the Unite Union and the BBC couldn’t work that out for themselves.

For all the corruption, there are good people in our politics

I just had a laugh at someone on Twitter:

I find it irritating that we are supposed to make the case for Scottish Independence to No voters yet they don’t bother their arse trying to make a case for the union to us. I mean look at the state of the UK, it an absolute f*****g cringeworthy embarrassment.

And he’s right.

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At the so-called top, we have mega rich members of the royal family with their money (personal money that we grant them through the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, in addition to their state grants and private incomes) tied up in offshore trusts and dodgy companies that scone the poor.

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We have ministers at all levels that can’t keep their trousers around their waists or their hands out of other people’s undergarments.

We have some ministers that brag about hard work that they have done, only to admit when told by parliament to produce it for scrutiny, that, in fact, either through laziness or incompetence, they didn’t bother doing it at all.

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We have a minister that breaks every rule in the book and risks security in order to try to do an illegal, dodgy, so-called “humanitarian” deal with a foreign army not known for its humanitarian actions, and who then lies about it, and a Foreign Secretary who makes such a mess of his job that a British citizen held in an Iranian has her sentence doubled because of his stupidity… and still the fool fails to apologise.

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And we have a prime minister who watches it all happen and does almost nothing except getting her statue in the waxworks! Maybe Madame Tussauds should have the real one and Downing Street get the dummy?

If this is strong and stable; if this is broad shoulders; if this is pooling and sharing, then frankly, no thanks. We’d have been a lot better off independent.

But we should remember that not all of our politicians are greedy self-serving, incompetent morons.

Famously English Labour MP, Dave Nellist, gave away half his salary. Scottish Socialist took only the average wage when they were in parliament. And SNP and some Scottish Labour MPs either refused to take the massive pay rise they were given a few years ago or arranged for the amount of the rise to be given to local charities.

Alex Salmond, criticised by some for his Fringe show which he took on the road, donated the profits from it to charity. Nicola takes only her 2008 salary, donating the rest the money to the Scottish government.

Of that, at least, we can be proud.