at risk

So, Munguin wants everyone to take care, but very specifically, if you are in any of the above categories, he absolutely DEMANDS that you take care. He can’t afford to lose readers. 



So, why not Scotland?



And this MAY explain his reluctance to order the closing of pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas. If he ORDERS it, the people who own these businesses may be able to claim on their INSURANCE. If he recommends people stay at home, the businesses have no insurance claim.

Anyway, who pays £25, 540 for an after-dinner speech? If they’ve got that kind of cash to throw away on a third rate music hall act, they should lower premiums.


Ye Gads. Why is this man on tv?  He’s already wished his idiot son on us.


Boris Johnson has slammed the brakes on the Brexit talks because of the coronavirus crisis – hours after his foreign secretary insisted they could go ahead as planned. Oh for an even semi-competent government at this time.


I read that all French citizens have been told that electricity and gas bills will be suspended for now so that people don’t scrimp on keeping themselves warm while they are forced to be at home. Oh, the advantages of having utilities where the state has a majority shareholding.


What was your experience?

“Teachers should not have to buy pens and pencils for their own classrooms. Our schools should be properly funded by the SNP government.”

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At  First Minister’s Questions yesterday, Mr Leonard complained that some teachers had had to provide pens and pencils for kids who could not afford them.

Indeed, he was to an extent, right. It is terrible that teachers are having to do this and, in fact, more. Some teachers of my acquaintance are having to provide food for kids they have found raking in bins shaking with hunger.

Of course, they don’t actually have to, but being human beings, some of them try to help where they can. Who could possibly refuse a hungry kid something to eat?

But wait, when I think back to my school days, in Scotland and later in England, I always had to provide my own pens and pencils, not to mentions rules, compasses and protractors. To the best of my knowledge, the state never provided anything like that.

So it is a valid point. Teachers should not have to provide these items, but it’s not the headline-grabbing “SNP government BAAAAD” that is responsible for this. That’s childish nonsense and I suspect that the intelligent Mr Leonard knows that.

Why are parents too poor to provide for their kids?

I’d suggest that a pitifully low minimum wage, zero-hours contracts, part-time work, the utter chaos of the current benefits system (PIP and UC), and rampant inflation, may be the cause.

All areas, you’ll note, over which the Scottish government has no control.

So we have a situation where parents are finding it hard to provide basic necessities for their children. And that these are areas of policy retained at Westminster. And Mr Leonard chose to blame the SNP government. Not the Scottish government, you’ll note, but “this SNP government”.

Not that I’d presume to talk for Nicola Sturgeon, but I suspect that if Mr Leonard was minded to, the First Minister would happily sign a joint letter to Mrs May asking for these matters to be devolved. Then maybe together we could do something about this instead of trying to make petty political points out of kids’ misery.


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One thing that the Scottish government might be able to do without asking Westminster, though, is to remove the obligation for children to wear uniforms at school. Uniforms are expensive and nowadays they’re not used for anything except going to school.

Kids grow out of clothes so quickly and it is expensive to replace them. Not having to provide separate wear for school would be a weight off the budgets of some hard-up households. (You know, the “just getting by” ones so favoured by Mrs May…well, for the first ten minutes of her prime ministership anyway.)

If there any good reasons that escape me for making kids wear clothes they don’t like, that aren’t particularly comfortable and that cost a lot of money and have to be dry cleaned, please let me know?

Jeans, trackies, t-shirt and sweaters work ok in schools in the USA, for example.

Image result for Pocklington School

In fairness to Mr Leonard, who had the benefits of a scholarship to a private school, he may have had to find his own pencils. You would think, though, that someone on his staff might have gone to an ordinary school and been able to advise him in advance that he was about to make yet another howling out-of-touch faux pas.

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Reader Polls:

1/ Were your stationery requirements provided by whatever government(s) when you went to school?

2/ Would you have any objection to kids going to school in jeans and t-shirts instead of shirts and ties and dry cleanable blazers?



Goodness me. What a load of medals you’ve got.

So, let’s make it very clear a the outset. I have respect for the military.  I realise that among them there are some phenomenally brave and dedicated people and, although in my lifetime this has never really been an issue (in that all the wars fought since heaven knows when have been fought on foreign soil, many thousands of miles away from Scotland), I accept that they are there to keep us safe and I’m grateful for that.


Of course, I don’t agree that an impoverished little country like Britain should have the massive military spend that it does in order to punch above its weight and make senior ministers imagine that they are in some way important. (Let’s be honest, most military decision that affect us are made in Washington. All we do is provide manpower in return for them allowing our prime minister to look like he or she counts. Legacy is all!) A smaller military would be fine for the UK.


Managing to look very glum and funereal.


I can also get pretty angry about the way that the UK government treats military personnel returning from whatever war Washington has sent them to. Big on the turn out at the Cenotaph, wearing long faces and black coats… a little less enthusiastic when it comes to providing them with work, or medical/psychological treatment and the necessary benefits, when their experiences have gutted them and left them unable to settle back to normal life.


This, though, is a reality they don’t look so sad about.


We have to be careful about how much influence the military has. And the latest idea by the UK’s Defence Secretary makes me decidedly uncomfortable. The May Youth?


The child defence secretary. And I don’t mean he defends children.


A good few years ago, I ran a project to help young school leavers to get into work: apprenticeships, training places, college, etc.

While I was doing that, in cooperation with other projects, we ran a Jobs Fair, and of course, my lot turned up (although most of the lads had already chosen, and been accepted for, some sort of apprenticeship).

The Army was there with their recruitment team. And the 16-year-olds gravitated to their stall. A while later after the fair, we were having a coffee as a group and the lads were full of tales of the wonders of the army life.

How much they paid, how many sports you could play, how you got to travel and see the world, what trades and skills you could learn.

“They teach you to ski, Tris!”

Maybe, some of them thought, they should turn down the jobs that they were heading for and take up the military challenge… ‘the queen’s 5 pence’ as it were? It would be a life of fun and adventure. What did I think?


Faced with all this youthful enthusiasm, I was dubious about being too negative but felt I had to intervene with a bit of common sense (after all we’d worked hard to get employers to take them for apprenticeships and letting employers down is never a good idea). So I did ask how they felt about Afghanistan and Iraq, in both of which at the time UK forces were involved in brutal wars.

‘Where?’ they chorused!

These inconvenient little facts hadn’t been mentioned, it seemed.


War? Killing people? Getting killed? Or maimed? Seeing mates killed?

Of all that stuff, not a word.

Now, that seemed a trifle irresponsible, I thought. It’s a bit like taking on a chef and not mentioning that some cookery would be involved. I decided that at future jobs fairs, the military would not be invited.

Of course, I have no problem with people making a decision to join the armed forces. It can be a good life for the right person and as I’ve said, we may need them one day. I had an uncle who dedicated his life to it and was very happy doing so.

But kids need to have all the facts and not a glorified version of life in the forces. I’m happy to say all my lads chose to stick with the dull old apprenticeships in Dundee.

I don’t think it is the job of schools to make soldiers or sailors or airmen. Certainly not of 12-year-olds full of dreams, especially maybe those who come from difficult backgrounds of poverty and deprivation, as so many do.

I trust that our Education Secretary declines to involve Scottish schools in this scheme. I’m suspicious that they really want to do, as they have always done, is take people from the poorest areas in the country, and make cannon fodder of them.

Or am I being too harsh?


Theresa May is in Glasgow today, with only a marginally larger crowd than Mr Corbyn managed to draw in Perth, telling Nicola Sturgeon to get on with the day job running schools and hospitals while she occupies herself with more important matters.

But it seems that rather than holding Mr Trump’s hand, coz he can’t do stairs, she might like to look at the state of her own schools and hospitals.

And while she is at it, she might like to take a quick glance in the direction of her police forces  (here and here) and prisons and what ails them.

Mrs May might do well to heed her own advice and get on with running England’s public services which have been allowed to rattle down under Tory and Liberal mismanagement.

As far as I know she hasn’t come up to tell us we’re racists.

After the sycophantic interview with the BBC, where Union Jackie Bird seems to beg her to refuse Nicola Sturgeon the right to call a referendum, she probably thinks she’s on safe ground in this country.

Still, I see Ken Dodd got a Knighthood. So that’s alright. We can all be tickled!