PARLIAMENT IS PROROGUED

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So, I’ve been following Marky Booth on Twitter as he patiently waited for parliament to be prorogued. I pinched this cartoon from him. Oh sorry, it’s actually a picture.

Anyway, twice in the last month, we’ve had to sit through Black Rod mumbling some antiquated nonsense, and some ermine clad ne’er do wells toffs doffing their caps, as Boris manages to once again shut down democracy with the compliance of Elizabeth Saxe Coburg Gotha.

Image result for black rod in commons today october 8

Why they do all this dressing up in strange costumes and taking their hats off (only the men it seems) heaven only knows. Maybe there is a reason hidden in the mists of time and tradition. Maybe there isn’t and they just like dressing up is strange clothes. Who knows when it comes to the English aristocracy?

I was going to say, “who cares?” But I think I do. All these people, after all, are highly paid and/or on massive expenses and I help pay for them and their costumes which are doubtless expensive too.

And what is it all?

Why can’t the Speaker and Lords Speaker just read off a sheet that parliament is suspended until Monday by order of the queen and then everyone can go home, or wherever it is they go in London?

Well, of course,what it is for this time is so that on Monday the Toytown prime minister can have his party political broadcast read by the queen, who presumably will have had to come back from Balmoral, also at considerable expense, to read his list of promises, from her golden throne, after arriving in procession, accompanied by page boys, ladies in waiting and all manner of tra la la.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the promises that have been made over the last few weeks, and which will presumably to be included in this Clown Speech from the throne, are utterly unaffordable given the shitstorm of no deal that we are about to enter. Presumably, if she is paying attention Liz will already know that its a pack of lies, but will, nonetheless, read it out anyway.

Image result for the queen in the house of lords

So all the nonsense about 40 new hospitals (that on closer inspection became 6) and massive spending on infrastructure, or indeed for us Scots, all the money Johnson was guaranteeing to spend here to make up for the fact that Holyrood treats us so badly… you know, not making us pay for tertiary education or prescriptions or extra bedrooms or care for the elderly… you know the sort of thing… well, we can forget it. Tax increases and spending cuts to pay for this fool’s Brexit are going to be the order of the day.

Still, it is comforting to know that, no matter how bad things get, the Brits will always find enough money for tricorn hats and weird rituals.

YOU HAVE TO LAUGH

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I have to admit it, I’m a Twitter addict.

After Munguin’s Republic (to read your comments), it’s invariably the first thing I look at on the net.

On a regular basis, I see silly tweets from a wide variety of politicians, Scottish and otherwise. My favourites are, of course, the likes of Richard Leonard, demanding that the SNP take water back into public ownership, pay Glasgow council female employees fairly, or something equally embarrassing that Labour is failing to do in Wales or failed to do during their 13-year tenure in Downing Street, but that the SNP MUST do, and Labour would definitely do were it to ever gets its hands on power in Scotland.

Even sillier are tweets from the likes of Murdo Fraser about the Queen’s Eleven, almost certainly typed later on in the evening, if you get my drift!

There is no shortage of Tories making idiots of themselves on Twitter. Miles Briggs, Ross Thomson, Jackson Carlaw, to name but a few. And my favourite: Jamie Greene.

Today in true Greene style, Jamie hit out at the First Minister, who has been on business in the USA and Canada.

He accompanied this graphic (did he pay staff to do it, tut tut, or is he a wee whiz on the ‘puter himself?) with text that read…

“If Nicola Sturgeon wants to go to the US to talk about independence then the should pay for it. The Scottish taxpayer should not be left with a bill of thousands of pounds so that the First Minister can fly first class, grandstand and talk up .”

Now, the reason I mention this is not to highlight Jamie’s graphic or literary skills.

Rather, I wanted to show the utter pointlessness of this kind of tweet.

It raised a lot of interest, of that, no doubt. I counted roughly 200 replies and there may be more by now. And, of course, I didn’t read every one in detail, but from what I could see, not one single person was agreeing with Jamie. (I’ll take that back if someone finds a supportive tweet. As I say, I didn’t read every one.)

Now, given that one criticism of Twitter is that people tend to follow and be followed by,  people with roughly the same outlook and opinions, and given that Jamie is a Tory list MSP, you might expect that the bulk of his followers would be Conservatives or at least have Conservative leanings.

It seems, then, a bit strange that there is so little support for his tweet.

On the contrary, people have laid into this intervention with some interesting counter facts.

Firstly, of course, as various people pointed out, Nicola Sturgeon didn’t go to the USA to talk about independence, she went on a trade mission. That is a part of her job.

Any idiot could have found that out in any number of ways.

Well, I’ll rephrase that, almost any idiot could.

Jamie also seems concerned that Nicola travelled first class.

Now I have no idea whether on not she did. I suspect that on a transatlantic flight, where you are expected to start work, be photographed and do interviews the minute you deplane, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do so.

I’m sure that her counterpart in London doesn’t travel tourist on these flights.

And I’m sure that when Fluffy took himself off on a trade mission to South America on behalf of the British government, he didn’t travel steerage. So there really is a bit of a pot and kettle thing going on there.

The job of the first minister includes representing Scotland all over the world. That’s the deal. It specifically says that in her job description: “ promoting and representing Scotland at home and overseas”. Not to do so would be a dereliction of duty, and as far as I know, all first minister, regardless of party, have done it. I suspect that they too did not travel tourist.

So far so bad, Jamie.

Many tweeters point out a series of other facts to Jamie, just in case he was unaware of them, a fair number concerning the incompetence, wastefulness and general slackness regarding taxpayers money in matters within the purview of the government run by his own party.

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That one is my favourite… (To be fair I really really dislike Foxy, the disgraced former defence minister.) And there’s a wee additional comment to that particular graphic.

One guy pointed out that there was, in fact, a trade deal ready to sign.

It’s with the Faroe Islands, and according to him, it’s for whelks! (I’m sure you appreciate, knowing my love of the Nordic nations, that I mean no disrespect to the people of the Faroe Islands. I’ll bet it’s for more than Whelks. But Liam did promise us 40 deals just awaiting his signature on behalf of the queen, and no matter how good the trade deal with Thorshavn, Whelks won’t sustain us far into April. Keep up the good work your doctorness.)

As always in these matters, people do kinda go off topic ever so slightly, and mention is made of a fair few matters, not in the least concerning Nicola and her job, rather matters where the UK government has wasted endless amounts of Scottish and British taxpayers’ money.

One interesting one, I thought, was in the matter, recently in the news, of Labour MPs being bribed with cash for their constituencies to vote for Theresa’s hairbrained scheme to leave the EU, but to tie Britain to all its strictures without giving it any say in their composition. In fact, not so much “taking back control”, rather giving away the very considerable control that they had (a veto on some matters and a heavily balanced qualified majority vote on others).

It concerns a letter to the Times (no less) from Lord Thomas of Gresford QC (no less).

It seems that Jamies’ prime minister may be skating on very thin ice in this respect. And, that being the case in respect of Labour MPs,  may she not also have done so in the matter of the cash bribe(s) to Arlene’s Orange Fest?

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Nice of Jamie to facilitate the more open discussion of this matter, not (as far as I know) aired much by the BBC and hidden away in the august setting of the relatively little read  Times’ letters’ page.

Jamie’s tweets may be read here.

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.

!NS

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.

TRUMP…JEEEEZ

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It’s hard to find the right words to describe Trump…

I mean, he’s nasty, cheap, ridiculous. He’s dense, or at least seemingly unable to articulate deep thinking on any subject. Indeed even fairly shallow sentiment seems to be beyond his ability. He’s a vulgarian, and a proud sexual abuser as the “pussy” tape showed very clearly. (I’ll happily accept further suggestions!)

If he was the bloke in charge of your local supermarket he would be beyond the pale. As president go, he’s simply indescribable. Never has anything so ridiculous as his election happened.

If the American people wanted something different, they sure got something…erm, different.

I feel sorry for them. Personally, I thought that virtually everything he promised was pie in the sky… bringing back manufacturing jobs to the USA (to be done by people who expected salaries ten times and more than the current employees were getting with far higher conditions of employment), was never likely to be more than a dream. Muslim bans in a country with a constitutional requirement to accept religious freedom…silly. Walls across the southern border. Mad. Ridding America of affordable care. Horrific.

In any case, in his first year, he has achieved almost nothing except a few humiliations in the early days where his decrees were overturned by courts. Much of the rest of the time has been spent replacing members of his administration who walked, some after only days in post.

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I felt vaguely sorry for the Maybot today.

Vaguely.

Faced with Trump’s moronic retweeting of unverified hate messages from the utterly repugnant group ‘Britain First’, May was left with no alternative but to offer mild criticism of his actions. She would have preferred not to, but the demands from too many people in the UK were too great for her to ignore.

At the same time, of course, she is aware that she must keep in with him, because in the increasingly unlikely event that he is still president when Brexit occurs, she will desperately need his promised trade deal, no matter how injurious it is to the UK.

In this case, a bad deal will be better than no deal.

So given that he is a fractious, ill-tempered, childlike character, she doesn’t want to be seen to do other than flatter his ego and hope that he won’t be too demanding.  atrumpy

But of course, he doesn’t like being even mildly rebuked in the most polite and respectful way possible, so when she indicated in a statement that she thought he was wrong, he immediately, eschewing the normal channels of communication between governments,  tweeted a snarky comment back to her.

Unfortunately, despite spending about half his life playing on Twitter (the other half is spent on the golf course) he appears not to have got the hang of this tweeting lark and so he managed to send his message to another Theresa,  from Bognor Regis or somesuch place, who has 6 followers.

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And this is the man with a finger on the nuclear button!

Much has been made of the altercation today. Trump has been castigated by politicians from all major parties, and it has even been suggested that the invitation to a state visit should be withdrawn. That, of course, is almost impossible to do. Much though we might want it, that level of insult to a head of state of a nation that Britain desperately needs to keep in with, is a step or six too far.

Of course, the truth is that it should never have been issued within the first few weeks of his presidency. It never has been before, with presidents who were at least in some ways presidential. To issue an invitation to such a controversial figure within the first weeks of his incumbency was yet another of the Maybot’s idiotic misjedgements.

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Let’s hope that Trump is sentient enough to realise that even if the Queen has no option but to accept his presence here, the public is under no such obligation and that should he make the visit, the protests of ordinary people will be at a level designed to utterly humiliate him.  Hopefully that will be sufficient to persuade him to postpone his coming until his …erm…second term! Bwa, ha ha ha ha ha.

HOW ABOUT THIS ONE, RUTH?

Ruth Davidson tweeted the other day about the education situation in Scotland. She wondered what the SNP would do to distract people’s attention from  the subject.

Of course, as far as I can see, they have done no such thing, but I ventured to suggest a variety of  embarrassments for the English Tories, including Boris being hauled over the coals by Tessy; Tessy herself on bended knee to the Saudis; the strikes on Southern trains causing unrest among crowds of commuters in London, and a raft of statistics about the appalling health service run by the still unsacked heath minister Jeremy Hunt, who is just itching to get these foreign doctors sent home.

I’m sure Ruth is a regular reader of Munguin’s New Republic. So instead of tweeting her yet again about it, and because I’m sure she never reads the Guardian, I’ll just leave this here for her so she can  contemplate  how awful the Scottish government is, although we are happy to help her government out. Certainly for the benefit of the poor kids who have been so badly let down by Hunt.

Not quite sure i like the tone of “exiles” though, Guardian. It’s hardly Siberia.

TOO MANY TWEETS MAKE …WHAT WAS IT AGAIN, DAVE?

ruthtrump

As far as I can tell, this is a genuine tweet.

Now I love Twitter, I really do. I remember Sophia Pangloss extolling its virtues years ago, and me thinking, nah, but giving it a bash anyway …and finding just how interesting it was (and what a challenge to get all your thoughts into so few words).

But the maximum character limitation does give people the opportunity to, in a very short time, possibly without much pause for thought, batter something out into the night that, depending on your audience, may reach millions of people. And that can be embarrassing in the cold light of day, and without the rosy glow of a couple of glasses of whatever your tipple is.

I bet most users, including me, could find a tweet that they would, on reflection, have preferred not to send.

But that’s OK for most of us. We’re not the regional manager of a  political party, and we don’t aspire to higher office. In fact, we’re not public figures of any sort (at least not most of us). And most of us don’t have a vast number of followers.

So maybe it would be a good time for people who are in that position to reflect for a while on their use of Twitter. It’s genuinely in their own best interests to do so, and to remember the “wise if somewhat naive” pronouncement of David I’m So Cool Cameron only a few years ago.  Erm, Lots of Love!

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I read on the self-same Twitter this morning that the  results of the American election are as follows.

Eligible voters: 231,556,622

Trump %: 25.5

Clinton %: 25.6

Non-voters: 46.9%

(Presumably the other candidates got 2%.)