Wednesday, 19 September 2012

This is the time to be part of Scotland's story

In 1979, I was a third-year student and an ardent supporter of Scottish Independence. The first ever constitutional referendum for Scotland was imminent and the Yes campaign was marshalling its resources, such as they were, to fight a No campaign which included practically every political party and institution in the country and many based elsewhere.

The few opinion polls which existed then were ambiguous, but seemed to show a Yes vote would be unlikely. The Westminster government (then Labour led) was interfering with the referendum process to make a positive outcome almost impossible. And the Tories were promising jam tomorrow – just as long as we behaved ourselves and voted No. We all know how that turned out.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Satirical site fools BBC audience with spoof news stories.

A spoof BBC Scotland News site has been causing a mixture of hilarity and anger this week, as some readers have mistaken it for the real BBC site.

The site, called BBC Scotlandshire, was launched on Wednesday 12th September with a single story entitled “Andy Murray must now become English, says Cameron”.

The article, written in the style of a BBC Scotland item, claimed that David Cameron was offering a new Honour to Andy Murray, but only if he agreed to a set of preconditions which included him representing England in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

A second article, posted on Friday 14th, suggested that MPs would take over Holyrood while Westminster was being refurbished, displacing MSPs to the nearby Dynamic Earth. This article, entitled, “Cameron gives green light for MPs to relocate to Holyrood”, has even caused confusion among the Twitterati.

A lesson in how not to argue your case.

The following is a transcript of a conversation between myself and the admin of the facebook campaign page, Unted Kingdom Forever, as well as a couple of it's visitors.
The early comments seemed (to me) to be a little controversial, so I decided to join in the argument and see where it led.

What ensued became, I believe, a salutary lesson in how not to put forward an argument in support of a political position.
Naturally, not all British Nationalists are as ill-informed and poorly equipped as those below, but many on social media sites at least give the impression of being no more able than these examples.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Atos Healthcare and the Benefits of Union

During the Olympics, we were treated to the delicious dichotomy of the world's largest mixed sporting event being sponsored by a fizzy drink manufacturer and a chain of fast food restaurants. Presumably, by associating themselves with the games, both companies saw the opportunity to clean up their reputations for promoting ill-health and obesity. Only time will tell if their marketing money was well spent.

The Paralympics, on the other hand, have raised irony to a whole new level as one of their main sponsors is Atos, the giant French service company which has been contracted by the UK government to reduce welfare costs by removing benefits from millions of sick and disabled people. For most of us, this may well turn out to be a degree of hypocrisy too far.

The Westminster government has awarded Atos a contract worth £400 million under which the company will “re-assess” the ability of sick and disabled people to work. The government, of course, expects to recoup much more than this amount in reduced benefit payments if Atos do their job well. And, from Westminster's point of view, they've been doing their job very well indeed.