WEDNESDAY IS BRIDGE DAY

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On Munguin’s Republic, we are not of the type that thinks Scotland is perfect. Far from it.

We don’t get teary eyed about hills and glens and the bonnie purple heather. We love it, but there are bonnie hills and glens all over the world and yes, there’s even heather.

 

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Calluna Vulgaris grows all over Iceland

 

We don’t take the attitude that Scots are better, or friendlier, nicer, kinder, better looking or anything else, than other folk. We’ve travelled a bit and we know that is just nonsesnse. There are lovely people, and awful ones, the world over. From Albania (we remember the little boy who gave us a hand -painted scene on a piece of wood and refused to take anything for it) to Zambia (we remember the guy who we helped to get into work and who came around after his first pay day with a massive box of biscuits).

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But there’s something comforting in the knowledge that our government is trying to maintain good relations and as close ties as Westminster will let us with the rest of our continent, while the government in Westminster seems determined to pull the UK away into desperate isolation.

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We’re content that while they sell weapons to whatever terrorist government will buy them, apparently no questions asked, and no eyes raised at the number of civilian and child casualties, and they rush to war to prove that they are important and punch above their weight,  we both metaphorically, and literally, build bridges.

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Munguin looks forward to driving over the bridge in the very near future.

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OH, JEREMY CORBYN

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You may remember that we at Munguin’s Republic were pleased when Corbyn won the Labour leadership over the bunch of Blairite Tory-lite contenders.

We were happier still when the disloyal ex- front benchers tried to remove him and first one, and then another, no-hoper, third-rater stood against him, and he not only beat them, but beat them by an ever bigger margin than his first victory.

We laughed too,  at Dugdale’s off on relationship with him. He was useless, then he was the leader and would lead them to victory, then he was useless again, and so on… Not quite sure where she is with him at the moment.

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We don’t rate and indeed have never have rated Dugdale from way back when she was the Noble ffoulkes’ assistant and ran a blog. We’ve no idea what she is like as a person, but as a political leader, she is worse than useless and she’ll never be the first minister.

However, we did rate Corbyn. A proper Labour man, we thought. And we laughed like a drain (even if he did win some seats from the SNP) when he overturned Mayhem’s expectations of an overwhelming victory in her humiliating 2017 General Election. The one she couldn’t lose, but that put paid to “strong and stable”, and left her even more weak and wobbly than before.

OK, we didn’t like his attitude to Scotland, but reckoned that with a bit of time, and given the chance to develop from being simply a North London MP into a supranational leader, he would learn about us, learn what makes us tick… and conclude that we’re not Englishmen with Mc in front of our names. We thought too that he might come to respect the SNP for the left of centre party it was. OK, opposition party but with policies worthy of respect.

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Wrong. He must get his information about the SNP from the Daily Mail.

He came to Scotland this summer to tour marginal seats that Labour might hope to take from the SNP. (Taking seats from the SNP will NOT reduce the number of seats the Conservatives hold… and at the next election they may have a proper leader, a real challenge and not the chaotic, stupid, weak, uninspired and uninspiring waste of space they have now.) But no, Jeremy only wanted to take seats from the SNP.

Unfortunately, he seems to have learned nothing about Scotland.

He seems to think that we are a nation of England.

He appears to be unaware that we have a separate legal system and totally separate laws. He is clearly also unaware that parts of the Kingdom of Denmark are members of the EU, and other parts are not.

He has criticised the SNP for failing to nationalise the railways. This despite Labour in England failing to nationalise the railways in 1997 when they fought an election campaign on the matter, and for the following 13 years in which they were in power and could have done so at a stroke.

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He seems not to know that it was against UK law (including in Labour’s 13 year governance of the UK)  for railways in Scotland to be privatised, until very recently (after the last franchise was awarded). Nor did he seem aware that since that law changed, the Minister for Transport has been working on a plan of how to do this. (NB, I’m not entirely sure why the Herald would call ScotRail troubled, given that it is the best performing rail service in the UK. Odd how the press just hates the Scottish government.)

He doesn’t know about Scottish Water still belonging to the people instead of being a money making concern as in England and Wales.

It would seem that no one told him about the Scottish government mitigating some of the worst of the Conservative’s harsh social security policies. More than £100 million of relief for young people who need housing benefit; for anyone forced to live in homes with a bedroom they do not want or need, due to a shortage of housing, for example.

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He gives the impression of knowing nothing about the setting up of a social security ministry in Scotland that will not operate sanctions that apply in Tory England and Labour Wales.

And he is either ignorant of, or has chosen to ignore, the fact that from next year, carers in Scotland will be £600 a year better off than they are in the UK. And that there will be extra help for the poorest parents.

Free prescriptions, eye tests, bus passes, elderly care all seem to have passed him by.

In all that he has been saying, Mr Corbyn has failed to explain why the Welsh government, a Labour government, has seemingly failed to mitigate Tory cuts. I challenge Mr Corbyn to suggest these changes to Wales, and to pledge them for England should he be their prime minister.

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And his volte face on the single market and customs union, is singularly unimpressive.

I had great hopes for Mr Corbyn. I feel a bit let down.

His motto does seem to be, Tories are a pain, but SNP, no matter what they do, are plain BAD and must be expunged, even if the method of achieving this is to lie through one’s teeth.

Shame.

SO, HERE’S A POSITIVE ASPECT OF THE THATCHER LEGACY

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Mrs Thatcher once said something to the effect that Tony Blair was the legacy of which she was most proud. In short, she reckoned that she had successfully managed to make Labour look like a down market, pound shop imitation of herself and her Tories.

I suppose it beats her legacy of broken people, broken towns, broken lives, broken dreams… and the whole wealth of the UK being centred on her beloved London. But it was a sad day for the noble Labour movement which had achieved so much for us (especially through the work of the post war government of Clement Atlee, without whom I suspect we would still be living in the 1930s).

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I suspect Mrs Thatcher would have been decidedly less proud to know that she had inspired the political career of Nicola Sturgeon.

So, I guess that would explain why, to me, Nicola is a bit of a hero.

In a way, Nicola’s statement makes it worth the inordinate cost of the state funeral Thatcher got when she finally left us in peace.

If she left us a broken country, at least she inspired someone who can fix it if we’ll let her.

GOOD NEWS FROM EDINBURGH AND ANOTHER CROCK OF **** FROM LONDON

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I’m sorry the posts have been a bit scrappy over the last week. I’m pretty busy just now. But I did have time to notice this information taken from the SNP website.  It seems to me that if you look at the facts, as opposed to what the BBC or the Daily Mail is telling you, we’re doing quite well in Scotland:

Scotland has one of the strongest economies in the world. 

Productivity growth in Scotland has been much faster in Scotland than in the UK – as measured by output per hour worked. Since the start of the recession, productivity has increased by 7.6 per cent, while it has grown by only 0.4 per cent in the UK as a whole.

Scotland’s GDP per head growth in the five years since 2010 was above the UK average, when London is excluded.

Today Scotland has the highest pay anywhere in the UK outside of London and the South East. ONS figures show median full time gross annual pay has grown 21 per cent in the last ten years.

Scotland’s international exports – valued at £28.7 billion in 2017 – are up 41 per cent under the SNP. We’ll now double the number of people working for Scottish Development International across Europe and establish and embed Innovation and Investment Hubs in London, Brussels, Dublin, and Berlin.

Scotland is the top destination, outside of London, for foreign direct investment. Ernst & Young have estimated that since 2006 40,000 jobs have been created in Scotland as a result of foreign direct investment. And in 2016-17, 7,839 jobs were secured through inward investment – 10 per cent up on the previous year.

Unemployment in Scotland is at the lowest rate of any UK nation. Scotland’s youth unemployment is the third lowest in the EU and female unemployment is below the UK rate.

Not bad for a country that is too wee, too poor and too stupid to manage on its own.

You can read the rest of the story here.

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In the meantime, Mr Gove has visited Iceland, Faroes and Denmark. In Denmark, he was telling them that the fishing fleet in Scotland and the UK won’t be able to fish all the UK fishing grounds so their fishermen will be able to continue to enjoy fishing in British waters when we’ve taken back control. We suspect that he may have been saying the same thing to the Icelanders and Faroese.

So, all you fishermen in the North East who voted Tory maybe want to consider who you want to vote for next time round. Because who you voted for this time just slapped you right in the face.

Still I’m sure that Viceroy Fluffy will stand up to Gove in Cabinet… or maybe he’ll be too busy making Colonel Davidson’s tea.

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WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND

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A few months ago it was announced that, for the first time in a long time, life expectancy in Scotland had stagnated. Mr Tomkins was quick to imply that blame lay with the Scottish government.

Photo of Adam TomkinsAdam Tomkins Conservative

5. To ask the Deputy First Minister for what reason life expectancy is no longer increasing in Scotland. (S5F-00982)

The Deputy First Minister will know that life expectancy levels in the east end of Glasgow are dramatically lower than those in other, more affluent parts of the city. The Commonwealth games offered an unparalleled opportunity to take specific action to reduce health inequalities and mortality rates in the neighbourhoods that hosted the games, yet it seems that no targets were set to achieve that. The London boroughs that hosted the 2012 Olympics set themselves the explicit target of narrowing the gap between male and female life expectancies in the east end and those in the rest of London. Does the Deputy First Minister agree that Glasgow should follow London’s lead on that? What actions will the Scottish ministers take to address the health inequalities that persist in Glasgow?

 

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Glasgow

Today, we note that the same observation has been made about life expectancy in England.

 

Rising rates of life expectancy are grinding to a halt in England after more than 100 years of continuous progress, says a leading health expert.

University College London expert Sir Michael Marmot said he was “deeply concerned” by the situation, calling it “historically highly unusual”.

He said it was “entirely possible” austerity was to blame and said the issue needed looking at urgently.

But the government said its policies were not responsible.

The Department of Health said ministers were providing the necessary support and funding to ensure life expectancy “continues to increase”.

 

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London

 

Going back to Mr Tomkins’ query, I’m a little bemused as to why he thinks we would have seen an increase in life expectancy so soon after the Olympics or the Commonwealth games. The “healthy” legacy in terms of increase in sporting participation was not designed, in either London or Glasgow, for those who might be in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Rather, it was directed towards the young.

We won’t be able to tell for many a year whether this has worked to lengthen life, the main benefactors of the sporting legacy being likely still to be in their teens and 20s. However, the Scottish professor might like to note that (according to Wikipedia) :

Criticisms and concerns:

Criticism of the London 2012 legacy includes the legacy not meeting its original ambitions with a decrease in 2014/15 in the number of people playing sport for at least half an hour a week of 125,100.[29]

 

England Fans
It would, I suppose, be fair to mention that an interest in sport is not always as much of an advantage as we might at first assume.

 

A report on the legacy of the Commonwealth games (dated 2015) shows an increase in some sporting participation. Does anyone know if that has been maintained? It could well be that Scotland has followed the English legacy, despite the spending of a considerable amount to try to encourage young people into sport. At the end of the day regardless of nationality, no matter how many facilities you provide, if young people prefer video games to actual physical exercise, there is not a lot anyone can do about about it.

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It also seems appropriate to point out that as we helped to pay for the Olympics in London, we should also have been on the receiving end of the legacy from the English games.

I’d like to suggest that in all probability, the reasons for the levelling out of life expectancy   are far more complex than could be covered in this post, but that one of the many contributing factors might be austerity which has been forced upon people from the four nations of the UK by the Conservative government in London.

Whatcha say Mr Tomkins?