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Elementary arithmetic

Brian Taylor | 11:42 UK time, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

How are you this fine morning? Or at least it was bright and sunny as I drove through this am from Glasgow to Edinburgh.

Mayhap the forecast white hell will emerge later, probably in time to disrupt the kick-off tonight as United face the might of Falkirk following our slight set-back on Saturday against a team who scored on their only sojourn up the park.

(Such restraint, though, was understandable: they needed the rest of the 90 minutes to lie on the pitch, groaning and feigning injury. Bitter? Me?)

Anyway, I arrived at Holyrood in time to scan two alternative views re police numbers in Scotland. Let me share them with you.

According to a news release from the SNP, ministerial endeavour is "making Scotland safer with a record number of police officers on Scotland's streets".

According to a news release from Labour, issued a few minutes earlier, "the SNP's pledge to provide 1,000 extra police officers by 2011 is set to fail".

Both comments, of course, are based upon a single statistic: the number of coppers in Scotland.

Cause for celebration

They can't even agree on the elementary arithmetic. The SNP says there has been an increase of 441 "since the 2007 election" while Labour puts the figure at 410.

That discrepancy is perhaps explained by a glance at the Scottish Government website.

The increase of 441 does not date precisely to the election: it is based upon a comparison with the quarterly figure from March 2007.

Anyway, the SNP view the figures as a cause for celebration: let there be dancing in the streets and drinking in the parlours. OK, maybe not the drinking: unless it's responsible and high-price.

Labour see these same figures as a source of inestimable gloom. We are all doomed - especially, it seems, the SNP which delivered the pledge of one thousand extra bobbies.

Depends, I suppose, on how you look at things. Take another recent example.

Nationalists hailed Alex Salmond's visit to America as featuring the first talks between an FM and the US Secretary of State.

Carefully worded

Wicked observers said, yes, it was the first - but that may have been because predecessors had met the President.

All parties, at all times, are at the same game. Selective memory, carefully worded information - versus bombast and all out-attack.

Today for example the SNP statement talks of "real progress" and "delivering on our promise to put more police on Scotland's streets" - without repeating the 1,000 figure.

The Labour version says Kenny MacAskill "can bluster all he likes" - but now "needs to come clean": by which they mean they mean he should abandon his own thought process and adopt, wholesale, the Labour version.

The Scottish people, they aver, are "sick of his empty words".

If there is a nauseous reaction to politics, my guess is it is rather more widely sourced.

On the issue itself, it is right to offer judgement on the precise pledge - which was to increase numbers by one thousand via recruitment, retention and redeployment - when the four-year term is up.

Comments

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  • 1. At 12:08pm on 03 Mar 2009, myheavens wrote:

    So the story is everyone agrees there has been an increase of over 400 police officers but there is minor disagreement as to it being 410 or 441, sounds like excellent progress 22 months into this administration.
    Credit where it is due, promises being delivered.

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  • 2. At 12:16pm on 03 Mar 2009, Wicked_Witch_of_the_West_Coast wrote:

    For the record, I am a Scottish person, and I am sick of the so-called politicians - every single one of them! As the great-niece of a Suffragette, I feel I should vote, but frankly, none of them are worth voting for.

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  • 3. At 12:50pm on 03 Mar 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Brian says:
    "Nationalists hailed Alex Salmond's visit to America as featuring the first talks between an FM and the US Secretary of State."

    No Brian, the fact was simply reported in the media, that's it.

    Indeed I would have expected such a meeting to be welcomed by all Scots, why you dwell on 'Nationalists' is unclear.

    It may be due to the fact that only Unionists would pour scorn on such a meeting. They fear anything that may increase the profile of the current Scottish government and indeed Scotland herself.


    As an aside, I see that we have yet another 'Murphy Muttering' headlined by the Scottish media.

    Murphy had better watch that he doesn't fart in the presence of a Scottish journalist, it would probably result in a headline.

    'PPPHHHHHHRRRRRRRRRTTTTTTTTTT' says Jim Murphy !!

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  • 4. At 12:57pm on 03 Mar 2009, miked10270 wrote:

    Speaking as a recently retired police officer I doubt if ANY increase in police numbers will help.

    The Scottish people think they're getting PC Murdoch, while what "extra police" really means is more civil servants who record and monitor crime as their contribution to the Criminal Justice System.

    So... It's NOT more police as people expect, it's more civil servants.

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  • 5. At 1:20pm on 03 Mar 2009, BrianSH wrote:

    Does anyone else think Jim Murphy is the Labourised version of Skeletor?

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  • 6. At 1:20pm on 03 Mar 2009, HudmaToungue wrote:

    Brian

    As you well know, you should always come to the East for enlightenment!

    You will just have to get over Saturday - Although its not helped by your moaning Manager - Oh & Refs !!

    Back to the Police - Always difficult as you says - who puts what spin on what figures/words!

    My take is that why stop at 1000 extra officers - why not 2000?

    Labour had choices to making during their term of Office - like most things - they screwed it up - Glasgow East being the perfect example - they still have slum housing there! No wonder the people are fed up of Labour - NuLab - and want rid of them!

    Bring on the elections - as they say you can't fool the people all of the Time !!

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  • 7. At 1:23pm on 03 Mar 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    More disappointing news for 'Global'.

    White House cancels Brown press conference in Rose Garden

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article5837571.ece

    Is Obama trying to tell him something?

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  • 8. At 1:52pm on 03 Mar 2009, rabbiehippo wrote:

    #3 greenockboy .... lol .... might it not be paaaaaarrrrrrppppp !

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  • 9. At 1:54pm on 03 Mar 2009, Wansanshoo wrote:

    Police Call Box


    We need the return of the old police call box, also known as the Tardis.

    There are very few around, I have reliable information that Jacqui Smith's sister has one, in good working order, in the spare bedroom.


    Wansanshoo.

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  • 10. At 1:55pm on 03 Mar 2009, handclapping wrote:

    Brian

    13 trains an hour do that journey and you HAD to drive? Please won't somebody think of the children!

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  • 11. At 2:03pm on 03 Mar 2009, Briggen wrote:

    #4 miked10270

    No, with respect, we in our small village are getting our locally based neighbourhood bobby back, the one they swiped from us in 2003, saying we were such law-abiding citizens that we were a complete waste of their time . . . after which minor lawlessness, followed by quite a few substantial thefts and then the cannabis-growing and the white slavery. OK, so I lied about the white slavery, but at least we know it won't happen now.

    So PC Murdoch IS coming back, just as soon as a wee hoosie has been prepared for him and an upside-doon bucket for oor wullie to sit upon.

    The SNP government be praised and blessings descend upon all who voted for it.

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  • 12. At 2:24pm on 03 Mar 2009, WestFifer wrote:

    Its pretty simple really - is the SNP breaking its election promise (as confirmed by the justice Secretary this morning on the BBC) a big deal?

    If it is not, then that's okay and the SNP bloggers are right.

    If it is a big deal, then Labour are right to highlight the fact.

    Surely we can agree on this much?

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  • 13. At 2:42pm on 03 Mar 2009, miked10270 wrote:

    #11 Briggen

    I'm delighted you're getting a local officer back. Do yoiu know his name? Let me know if you ever actually see him!

    In my service with a force working in some of the less salubrious and more urban areas, I saw "my" force almost double in police numbers. At the same time the number of officers actually patrolling and giving first response to the public HALVE!

    These "extra" officers were formed into specialist units with narrowly defined duties (& ideally even more narrowly defined shift patterns) while response times were lenthened so that "targets" were still being met. Additionally, forces 'centralised' services which further reduced local contact between the police and the policed.

    Then there was the massive increase in administrative workload made possible by 'computerisation' which increased the number of forms and the detail they required.

    This problem is not actually party-political, it's a Home Office issue where the Operational Dog is now wagged by the Administrative Tail.

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  • 14. At 2:44pm on 03 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Classic (thanks to Greenock Boy)

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  • 15. At 2:50pm on 03 Mar 2009, talorthane wrote:

    WestFifer

    Is it a big deal?

    I think it is more relevant to say: Is it a big deal, yet?

    The 1000 police officers was a commitment to be fulfilled within the duration of this term of Parliament, of which there are 26 months remaining.

    Less than half way through that term, almost half of the commitment has been met.

    Given that police officers cannot be conjured up out of thin air, and that time up front needs to be spent on recruitment and training before they can be counted in the statistics, it looks like we are well on our way to seeing this commitment fulfilled by the time of the next election.

    Given that, the next question is; Why are Labour so vocal about this now, rather than when the commitment is due?

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  • 16. At 3:01pm on 03 Mar 2009, freedjmac wrote:

    5. At 1:20pm on 03 Mar 2009, BrianSH wrote:

    Does anyone else think Jim Murphy is the Labourised version of Skeletor?

    No. But I do think he should accurately be called that 'weesleekitmurhybeastie'!!

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  • 17. At 3:16pm on 03 Mar 2009, tinylespaul wrote:

    A few years ago we were sold a dummy by the polis when, in return for 'efficiency savings' through the scrapping of certain ranks (Chief Inspector/Chief Superintendent), these still exist and there have been no savings made as a consequence.

    It's time to bite the bullet and have a national Police Force in Scotland.

    Why for example, do we need 8 Police forces dealing with the application of precisely the same laws as each other. Would 1 scots-wide force not suffice? Think of the savings/efficiencies that would ensue i.e. 1 Chief Constable, a few Depute Chiefs, some divisional commanders etc etc. This would free-up innumerable bobbies from desk-bound duties (or force some deadwood to resign/retire!).

    Similarly, why not have a Scots-wide single traffic division, dealing solely with traffic? That way places where there's fewer traffic problems wouldn't need the fancy BMW's used to attend the annual Sheep-dip!



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  • 18. At 3:18pm on 03 Mar 2009, Wee Archie Gemmill wrote:

    #12 "the SNP breaking its election promise (as confirmed by the justice Secretary this morning on the BBC)"

    Can you give us a source for the SNP promising to deliver 1000 officers *by March 2009*, please?

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  • 19. At 3:19pm on 03 Mar 2009, Chiefy1724 wrote:

    Once more, appalling coverage.

    Northern British NuLab claim that SNP "might not" meet target set for 26 months away"

    Less than halfway, less than half the increase in Cops.

    WHAT IS THE STORY ?

    Also, similarly to #11, we've GOT a local officer back. In fact, we've got TWO. I've met them, I've talked to them, and within days of doing so, I don't have gangs of teenagers treating the outside of my house like a children's playground. I don't have them blowing airhorns through my front door or dog whistles to wind up my dog. I don't have them battering traffic cones off my side wall at 10pm on a Sunday. I haven't seen the usual weekend detritus of Broken bottles and tossed chip papers outside my door.

    Frankly, This is all getting a bit boring.

    Yesterday, we have the Killjoy SNP cracking down on Oor Booze.

    (The Party is Still Wrong on this one BTW)

    Today, we have less than half of the promised cops (very small print - in less than half of the promised time).

    Tomorrow, Eck will be tackling the credit crunch head on by mortgaging our souls to the Devil and selling the first-born into slavery.

    On Thursday, Broon will have met with new boy Obama to Instruct him in The Third Way and been awarded the Congressional Medal of Freedom for saving the world's banking system single handedly.

    And to close the week, on Friday, BRITAIN will lose the Davies Cup tie against the Ukraine because SCOTLAND's Andy Murray is faking a dose of the flu. He's clearly faking, you've only got to look at him. No backbone, these Jocks. I remember that old Buffy Buffington played in all five matches in the Davies Cup one year and he was suffering from Dengue Fever AND had just had his right foot gnawed off by crocodiles on the way to the court.

    Has anyone seen any positive stories recently or is it all just a wee nod to oor pals in NuLab in time for the conference season - Actually, we won't point out what a bunch of numpties you are. Forget that the economy's blown and it's all Broon's fault. We'll watch yer backs, boys. You talk as much garbage as you want, we'll do everything to paint the SNP in as bad a light as possible. Whilst being totally impartial, of course.

    Maybe they're frightened that the Scottish Broadcasting Corporation will be knocking alcoholic drinks off the expense accounts Come The Glorious Day ?

    (Post or reactive moderation for all except Cbeebees please. I remebered this time :} )

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  • 20. At 3:19pm on 03 Mar 2009, wilddog wrote:

    Speaking of the Murph I wonder what he thinks about what Sepp Blatter has said about the GB football team for the Olympics,as I recall Murph had a guarantee from someone who said it would be OK it would not affect the four countries football teams.

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  • 21. At 3:39pm on 03 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Meanwhile....Ouch! Meeeeoooowwwwwwhimper

    Mine's a Liffey, Slainte
    ed

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  • 22. At 3:40pm on 03 Mar 2009, forfar-loon wrote:

    By a quick bit of spreadsheet magic (very quick, so apologies if I've miscalculated - do let me know!):

    Days since last election: 670
    Number of extra police: 410 to 441
    New police/day thus far: 0.612 to 0.658

    Days to next election (assuming 4 years): 790
    Extra police still to come (assuming present rate continues): 790*0.612 = 483.43 or 790*0.658 = 519.99

    Total extra police over 4 years: 893.43 to 960.99

    Or as a percentage of the pledge of 1000 extra: 89.34% to 96.10%

    Yes, truly the SNP are imps of the devil himself, on course to deliver a measly 90-95% of their promise! I demand a public inquiry!

    PS #3 greenockboy: heh, heh :oD

    PPS #5 BrianSH: as i recall Skeletor had some creative ideas about claiming power, so I think the comparison fails (plus he had a less annoying voice)

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  • 23. At 3:49pm on 03 Mar 2009, forfar-loon wrote:

    #19 Chiefy: marvellous rant as usual, keep them coming!

    #20 wildjackamo: yes, it's been very quiet on that front hasn't it...quite a few pointed out Blatter's inconsistency on a previous thread if I remember correctly...

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  • 24. At 3:54pm on 03 Mar 2009, dubbieside wrote:

    Brian

    I think that it is unbelievable that we have 400+ more police on our streets than in May 2007 and we are still getting moans.

    Any sane normal person would think that is something everyone in the country should be happy about and welcome, but no Nu moaners continue under orders from Westminster if its the SNP whot dun it try to ditch it.

    I think however the SNP missed a trick when Murphy announced further help for job seekers in Lanarkshire. The SNP should have welcomed the announcement as "anything that will help the unemployed in Scotland secure employment is to be welcomed"

    By the way I was amazed at the BBC coverage of the SNP initiative to support rural schools. Very factual and altogether positive. Mind you it was from London, were they off message, or did they sneak it in before Pravda North knew about it?

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  • 25. At 4:06pm on 03 Mar 2009, Chiefy1724 wrote:

    [With extreme apologies to a well-known and loved Plasticine character and his mentor, the late Tony Hart. Proper entry that this is a pastiche of can be found by googling "Morph"]

    Wikipedia entry for "Murph"

    Murph is an unanimated stop-motion character that appeared with Tony Bliar and Paw Broon, beginning in 1997, in several of his UK Government Ministries, being Europe Minister and then Paw Broon’s Representative to the Sweaties.

    Murph was produced as an MP by accidentaly winning East Renfrewshire in the anti-Tory surge of 1997

    Murph appears mainly in one minute "shorts" interspersed throughout the “Politics Show” and “Newsnicht”. These are connected to the main show by having Glen Campbell or Gordon Brewer deliver a line or two to Murph who replies in gobbledygook but with meaningful gestures. Later on, Murph was joined by The Grey Man, who is much more badly behaved.

    Murph lives in Dover House in London, and he and The Grey Man both love to talk incomprehensible rubbish, as seen in many of the shorts.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except Cbeebees please !

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  • 26. At 4:16pm on 03 Mar 2009, rickyross wrote:

    Chiefy 1724;
    Of course Andy Murray is faking a dose of flu - simple aint it - he doesn't want to play for Britain. He's had upteen rows with this with Jamie. In any case most single's players play for themselves. However oor Andy is a real Jock!

    As for the promise of extra police it is being fulfilled however how many police officers are still desk bound? Is there still a programme of civilians being recruited to do the things that police officers don't really need to be tied up in?

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  • 27. At 4:20pm on 03 Mar 2009, Briggen wrote:

    #13 miked10270

    I note what you say and take it on board.

    As for the return of our local officer, without wishing to make a general point based on this, I am actually very confident that this is a total and utter certainty. If, however, it doesn't go through, I'll let you know.

    Apparently, the police service in this part of the world is in the process of engaging in a comprehensive re-organization following a review of policing methods. Don't ask me for details, though.

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  • 28. At 4:35pm on 03 Mar 2009, irnbru_addict wrote:

    "If there is a nauseous reaction to politics, my guess is it is rather more widely sourced."


    Quite.

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  • 29. At 4:46pm on 03 Mar 2009, WestFifer wrote:

    In response to the queries about the Justice Secretary's comments this morning - he confirmed that the SNP Government was not going to hit the target at the end of the 4 years.

    I simply asked the question (and I'll repeat it again); "Is breaking an election promise a big deal?"

    I don't think its an unreasonable question to pose and it goes to the heart of the posts here.

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  • 30. At 5:10pm on 03 Mar 2009, forfar-loon wrote:

    #29 WestFifer:

    Is breaking an election promise a big deal?"

    Yes and no. See for example my calculations in #22 above. Suppose we end up with 900 extra police instead of 1000. Is that a big deal or a small deal. 1000 were promised, but for whatever reason only 900 materialised. My verdict: pretty good effort, but could do better, B+.

    Conversely, we were promised a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, but now that it has been dressed up in sheep's clothing no referendum will happen. My verdict: obvious gyrations to avoid the political damage of a likely defeat, promise actively reneged on, F.

    I guess the guiding principles should be:

    (a) an honest effort should be made to deliver all election promises;
    (b) the electorate should be realistic - circumstances will change and consequently some promises will not be (and indeed should not be) kept;
    (c) principle (b) must not be used as an excuse for failing to deliver!
    (d) delivery should be judged sensibly, e.g. unlike the Labour and Tory idiocy today

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  • 31. At 5:12pm on 03 Mar 2009, SchoolTieColours wrote:

    Westfifer 29

    No, it's no big deal. But try telling that to the anti-SNP media and opposition parties. All parties can't fully commit to all manifesto pledges and even harder in a minority govt. The SNP are more scrutinised than G Broon for goodness sake and that can't be right!

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  • 32. At 5:19pm on 03 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Loon (30),

    Well put. Seconded.

    Slainte!
    ed

    Meanwhile...

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  • 33. At 5:19pm on 03 Mar 2009, SchoolTieColours wrote:

    Brian
    Victory is sweet but didn't like Craigy boy's sour grapes - has he seen the non penalty?
    He should have complimented the ref for given you a chance.

    Can you please compliment the SNP for giving us more police officers. It's not the amount that counts, it's just that there is more and that should be applauded. Aunty A must like it.

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  • 34. At 5:33pm on 03 Mar 2009, brigadierjohn wrote:

    I think it's a non-issue at the moment. But both parties are putting down markers which, in the fullness of time, will be trotted out as evidence of progress or lack of it, according to loyalties.
    In Scots Law, evidence must usually be corroborated to be admissible. One principle exception is that the existence of a "chain of evidence" allows an absence of corroboration in one or more instances if the alleged event is part of a chain of events which are each substantially corroborated.
    It's not a legal issue here of course, but what Labour are doing is forming that chain, eg., student grants, LIT, class sizes, etc., and throwing in more debatable issues such as police numbers in a manner that might lead "the average reasonable person" to accept that it was, despite quibbles, an unbroken chain of incompetence, failed promises, or whatever.
    The SNP of course will have their own chain of Labour failings as the Westminster Government.
    So, not a great issue on it's own. But both parties are playing mind games with the voters. If you are hung up on student grants, for example, Labour want you to think... "yes, and look at all the other failings."
    The SNP want you to link Westminster failings with Labour in Scotland.
    There's no right or wrong to it. It's a political game. People here shouldn't be wasting their carefully hoarded outrage on this.

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  • 35. At 5:37pm on 03 Mar 2009, dubbieside wrote:

    SchoolTieColours

    Aunty A must like it.

    She may like it but her deputy is not sure, here is his quote from todays Courier.

    Scottish Tory deputy leader Murdo Fraser said, “There are elements of the framework we agree with, such as targeting off-sales promotions and irresponsible offers, which could have a real impact in cutting excessive drinking.

    “And there are other factors of the SNP Government’s plans that need to be comprehensively shelved before we press ahead, such as minimum pricing.

    The opposition numpties of Scotland unite. Can we remind them of things like this and trams in the lead up to the 2010 election.

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  • 36. At 6:06pm on 03 Mar 2009, SchoolTieColours wrote:

    Dub 35

    I meant she'd like the extra police.

    'The trams!' - this should be the only response from the SNP if fools like Gray mention budgets, targets, cuts etc. I'm sure most people will get the message. I'm an Edinburgher and we could have spent this money in Scotland on so much more. Totally unnecessary as the bus service is good.

    We need to try something about alcohol abuse but I don't think any measure will work.

    Brig
    True - 'it's a political game' but let's have some balance by the media. They hold all the cards and they're stacked against the SNP!

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  • 37. At 6:08pm on 03 Mar 2009, ScotInNotts wrote:

    Some of the press (Herald, Daily Record) surprisingly have ran with the headlines along the lines of 'police numbers in Scotland reach record high'.

    Labour appear to be barking up the wrong tree with this apporach.

    Meanwhile Murphy seems to have 'bigged up' the wrong scheme (Adviser Discretion Scheme) designed to help jobseekers, both new and unemployed. Unfortunately the scheme awards are down to the sole discretion of the Job Centre staff, and while Murphy trumps the 'up to £300' expenses available the average award has been only £84.

    "This fund can go directly to giving individual job seekers just what they need - whether it be a new suit to look smart for their interview, or maybe a bit of cash to help with driving lessons. These are the small things that can make a big difference"

    I've not seen a suit for £84 in a while unless its Rab C's, and he obviously doesn't know how much it costs for driving lessons now never mind the costs for the test (theory and practical). The £84 could just about cover the test alone!

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  • 38. At 6:15pm on 03 Mar 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    Hi all, just to let you “back home” know how Gordon’s visit to the Whitehouse is being carried in the US, I literally just went to the google (.com) homepage and search brown’s name in the news column – of those articles which came up directly relating to his visit, these are the top 3,

    Gordon Brown’s “panting desperation”,
    http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/03/03/world/worldwatch/entry4840256.shtml

    Brown hangs hopes on visit to Obama,
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-britain-brown3-2009mar03,0,6506674.story

    “Brit reports in bit of a snit”,

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2009/03/63580287/1

    So for the few Americans who notice Brown’s visit the above is a pretty fair sampling of the type of coverage they will see.

    I include this from the Irish Independent because it really just jumped out at me,

    “Beleaguered Brown to play favourite role as ‘world savior’”

    http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/beleaguered-brown-to-play-favourite-role-as-world-saviour-1658118.html

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  • 39. At 6:17pm on 03 Mar 2009, handclapping wrote:

    Brian

    All very commendable after 11 years of labour mis-rule but they'll all be taken up checking licences, etc from your previous thread, when what we need is more local CSOs with power to confiscate alcohol from under 18s in public places.

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  • 40. At 7:24pm on 03 Mar 2009, newsjock wrote:

    Today Brian's comments on footie are as full of insight as his political portraiture.

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  • 41. At 7:52pm on 03 Mar 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    I'm surprised that Labour has the cheek to run with this.
    Numbers of police are being SLASHED all across Labour governed England.
    I hope the numpties run with this at FMQT on Thursday.

    As a matter if interest my joke posting about Gordon Brown not being allowed to keep his pension due to his busting the country has been removed from this site by the moderators. Oddly enough it feaures happily in several of Nick Robinsons blogs. Obviously the the BBC in England isn't completely controlled by Labour as it is in Scotland.

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  • 42. At 7:56pm on 03 Mar 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    Vis deleted post I mentioned on post 41 it can be read on Nick Robinson's blog "Driven to Distraction" post number 517.

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  • 43. At 8:03pm on 03 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #38 pattymkirkwood

    Thanks for the links, from which it does seem that although the Supreme Leader's global mission hasn't been fully recognised on your side of "the pond", it must be a pretty slow news day.

    As I can watch them on my local cable, I tend to get much of my US news from CNN and CNBC, and note that CNN is silent on the topic of Obama's great fortune in being blessed by a visit from the world's saviour in both its US and International editions.

    I did wonder about a link on the US edition with the intriguing headline Browns interested in Cutler? only to discover it to concern a sportsman called Jay Cutler in whom a Cleveland team apparently have some interest.

    Not quite the Obama hails special relationship this website would have us believe, although - trying to be fair - that page does tell us that: "Downing Street dismissed suggestions that the visit had been downgraded by President Obama after it emerged there would not be a formal joint press conference."

    So that's alright then but just make sure you have a barf bag ready for the next load of world-saving guff.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 44. At 8:24pm on 03 Mar 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    On 25th February on this blog I wrote:

    "Watch out for a return of the 1000 police officers story, it is due a recycle.........
    ..... Finally there's Jim Murphy who has had three typical 'Murphy Muttering's' headlined this last few days. Labour are surely now abusing the position of Secretary of State."


    Todays Scottish headlines are dominated by the return of the '1000 police' story. We have also been treated to yet another 'Murphy Muttering'.

    Either I am an exceptionally good forecaster or the Scottish media are very predictable, and yes, very partisan.

    Some of you may be interested to know the reason Brown was given an 'audience' with President Obama before any other Euro leaders. Well, the word is that it is only because the UK Government and current PM are willing to 'sacrifice' troops to the mess that is Afghanistan.

    Brown probably employs a cognitive dissonance that prevents him equating the two.

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  • 45. At 8:39pm on 03 Mar 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Thanks to pattymkirkwood for the link to the Los Angeles Times.

    This extract from the article deserves to be reproduced, the section in bold is particularly noticeable; it deserves to be posted on other forums.

    "Furthermore, whereas Obama's economic mess was inherited, the seeds of the British meltdown were sown on Brown's watch, first as Britain's longest-serving finance minister, under Tony Blair, then as prime minister. That creates a 12-year record for opponents to attack.

    They gleefully point out that the speculative fever among banks, the housing bubble, the proliferation of abstruse financial instruments few people knew existed and even fewer seem to have understood were all created under Labor.

    In June 2007, in words that haunt him, from one of his final speeches as finance minister, Brown congratulated London's bankers and financiers on their "ingenuity and creativity," which had ushered in "an era that history will record as the beginning of a new golden age."

    History, unfortunately, has already recorded it as the beginning of something else."

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  • 46. At 8:43pm on 03 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    I'm not one to applaud toadying in any way, shape or form but those who feel Brian is too sympathetic to NuLab's woes should spare a thought for those in South Britain.

    Nick Robinson's toadyism is legion, but - not to be outdone - Michael Crick's latest thread on "nannygate" out-toadies Robinson.

    Absolutely the key issue on a day the UK government is squirming again over who knew what when about Goodwingate and ramming renewal of the odious control orders system through the House of Cards. While Myners loses us millions for his inability to ask a basic question and Hain is lets off with a caution for not declaring six figure donations, Spelman's failure to understand the rules as a brand-new MP a decade ago over a four-figure sum she has apologised for and promised to refund immediately gives Crick a welcome opportunity to turn the spotlight on the Tories with a beautifully crafted blog posting of 63 words. Aye, right!

    For once I'm actually symathetic to a Tory - must log off and rest for a while.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 47. At 8:47pm on 03 Mar 2009, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #36 SchoolTieColours: It's all about voter perceptions about the weight of evidence for one side or the other. You see it on this blog. If you accepted the balance of postings as representative, you might think there was an overwhelming enthusiasm for independence in Scotland. Nothing succeeds like success - and parties and posters are trying to create the illusion of mass support.
    Regarding media balance, it's not given - it has to be achieved. I don't think the SNP media people can be very good, because journalists do like to think they have an inside track, and it's the job of the media team to feed "good stuff" to those who will use it. I'll be slated for this, but no good journalist will ignore a good story because he's biased against the source. Hard to accept when it's not working for you, but that's the task you must tackle.

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  • 48. At 9:03pm on 03 Mar 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Something wrong with the comment facility that won't let me post a link to a story about redundancies at The Scotsman.

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  • 49. At 9:42pm on 03 Mar 2009, rickyross wrote:

    Gordon Brown should be made to feel ashamed at even thinking of taking a pension. 10 years wages for being Chancellor is enough for the tax payer to fork out. In fact in time maybe we should ask for it back.

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  • 50. At 9:51pm on 03 Mar 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Is this the worst ever contrived headline? – beware, it’s Murphy time again.

    Before you click the link, the story is in regard to PFI in England. I posted a link to this story yesterday it explains that PFI in England is in such crisis that the treasury are stepping in with 2 billion pounds of funding. It has also been announced that there is to be a further 13 billion pounds made available to fund capital projects – but not in Scotland.

    OK, brace yourself

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  • 51. At 10:54pm on 03 Mar 2009, enneffess wrote:

    If we have more police on the streets, then that is good, even if the 1,000 figure has not been achieved.

    But the police should be given the freedom to prevent and investigate crime, not tied up in court. Too many defendants plead not guilty until the very last minute. The only people who benefit are lawyers. There should be a fixed fee for all standard general legal aid cases. Ask any shop manager who has to attend court for shoplifting cases - the courts are full of police wasting their time waiting to be called as witnesses only to be told they are not required. Nor do we want them spending all their time enforcing minimum pricing of alcohol.



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  • 52. At 11:05pm on 03 Mar 2009, rickyross wrote:

    Loved Jeremy Paxman on newnicht on about Broons meeting with Obama and rightly calling nothing but Grandstanding.
    Of course Ombama said it was important in this recession to consider other emerging economies like Hungary and Ukraine ect.
    Meanwhile could someone tell Broon that his only contribution so far has been to kick small countries in the teeth. Take Iceland for instance. Should not Murphy be ashamed of himself. Broon should make a phone call to Dover House and tell him to pack his bags.

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  • 53. At 00:20am on 04 Mar 2009, ScotInNotts wrote:

    #50 greenockboy

    Thanks for the link. I though I'd share an example of a failed PFI project in my current part of the world.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/nottinghamshire/7869747.stm

    It was announced on the radio early last month that the council in question could no longer afford to pay the new PFI contractor (previous PFI contractor had sold their stake on to another management co.) of a recently built leisure centre, despite the leisure centre still being in demand within the community that had campaigned so long for it to be built in the first place.

    The new contractor had demanded an extra £285,000 in running costs, which would then total £637,000 per year.

    The councils only sensible option if unable to afford the extra running costs would be to close the leisure centre.

    However through the madness of the PFI contract, even if the cash strapped council closed the lesiure centre to save the running costs it was still liable to pay the PFI contractors under the terms of the contract £352,000 per year for the next 19 years.

    What a position, pay a company an extra £285,000 per year in order to run the leisure centre, or close it and pay the same mob £352,000 a year for 19 years for sitting on their hands, which comes to a grand total of £6,688,000.

    Great public value there.

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  • 54. At 00:43am on 04 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    This Week!

    Slainte!
    ed

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  • 55. At 01:47am on 04 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #47 brigadierjohn

    I think you're probably right that "no good journalist will ignore a good story".

    How many of the current group of under-resourced, underpaid, temporary contract employees of the media that currently operate under the soubriquet of "journalist" do you consider warrant the rank of "good"?

    Which examples spring to mind?

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  • 56. At 07:45am on 04 Mar 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    As prediected here is some of the nonsense being fed to the public at home this morning,

    "In the Oval Office today, Gordon Brown and Barack Obama talked about financial regulatory reform, Iran, Russia -- and tennis and basketball. Brown also became the first foreign leader to refer to the US president by his first name in his presence, in public."

    1st foreign leader
    to refer to him
    by his first name
    in his presence
    in public

    woa ... if that super-qualified statement isn't a reason to vote for Gordon Brown, I don't know what is! (I hear he polished Obama’s boots once too).

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/deadlineusa/2009/mar/03/gordon-brown-usa1

    Watching Brown in official capacity abroad is like listening to a drunken karaoke night – simply painful. Fortunately, we can all take comfort from the fact that most Americans didn't notice he was there (due to the downgrading of the official press conference to a few snaps in the oval office). Also, it was only featured during dead time c2-3 EST on most of the networks.

    Just to give people an idea of the priorities. Rush Limbaugh's comments still top of the news (don’t ask), "Liberal Media's" reaction to Rush Limbaugh's comments, potential "Octomum Bill", Markets and the discovery of a purple spotted sea anenome and a carnivorous sea squirt (think aquatic venus fly-trap) off Tasmania were considered more significant,

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/03/03/eod.popsci.species/index.html

    Not to mention the woman who called 911 (3 times) after McDonalds ran out of Chicken (Branded) Nuggets,

    http://www.wpbf.com/cnn-news/18843229/detail.html

    Brown’s meeting was sitting in tenth place on the CNN newsboard last I checked … but some of the stories are not as hilarious as the above (so they aren’t included in this post).

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  • 57. At 08:32am on 04 Mar 2009, fourstrikes wrote:

    #55 oldnat

    Have you read the book "Flat Earth News" by Nick Davies? If so, your thoughts?

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  • 58. At 08:38am on 04 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #50 greenockboy

    Murphy time again, indeed. We're used to his every utterance bring accorded top billing in the Scottish media, but to be fair, the same could have been said by any NuLab MP or MSP and been granted the same "respect". What's perhaps more worrying is the indication that it's contagious.

    The LibDem's Jeremy Purvis MSP is quoted in the link as saying: "This shows very clearly that the SNP has brought to a halt the pipeline of projects vital for Scotland to work through a recession."

    Rather different from this website's Government to 'prop up' PFI deals where Vince Cable is quoted thusly: "The whole [PFI] thing has become terrible opaque and dishonest and it's a way of hiding obligations."

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 59. At 09:42am on 04 Mar 2009, forfar-loon wrote:

    #56 patty: "Brown also became the first foreign leader to refer to the US president by his first name in his presence, in public."

    Perhaps Brown was aping the fine example set by David Miliband during his disastrous trip to India...

    New Delhi was irked by 43-year-old Mr Miliband’s demeanour towards older Indian ministers. In a society deferential toward elders, the UK minister repeatedly addressed Pranab Mukherjee, India’s septuagenarian foreign minister, by his first name while Mr Mukherjee scrupulously addressed his younger counterpart as “Your Excellency”, or “Mr Miliband”.

    “He was totally tactless,” said Arundhati Ghose, India’s former ambassador to the United Nations. “It was so familiar that it is almost condescending.”

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  • 60. At 11:00am on 04 Mar 2009, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #55 oldnat: Not many, if you measure it by results achieved. But you list some of the problems yourself. I just hate to see honest, willing, ambitious people, in any job, including politicians, rubbished and dismissed as corrupt and/or biased etc., by people who are less interested in honesty and integrity than in making a cheap point for their own dubious ends.
    Virtually everyone on these blogs comes to it from a biased viewpoint. Some are prepared to twist and misrepresent people and ideas, others feign open-mindedness and bleeding hearts.
    Casting the first stone has become a mass participation sport. Such a sin-free environment here, eh?

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  • 61. At 11:07am on 04 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Is that an apology? The Leader "accepts collective responsibility"? I thought that was for "the team"

    It was'nae me. It might have been us.

    Gaaahhh!

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  • 62. At 11:12am on 04 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    Is it an accomplishment to break protocol (first names) or a further embarrassment? I'm not even properly British (though I consider myself Scottish), but I'm embarrassed.

    Roll on 2010 and 2011!

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  • 63. At 11:26am on 04 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Can't find any mention of the President's important visitor here...I wonder why

    "Mr Brown arrived in Washington early today for talks with Barack Obama, determined to renew the "special relationship" between Britain and the US. He brought with him a gift of a pen holder, carved from the timbers of HMS Gannet, built in Chatham shipyards 130 years ago. Timber from its sister vessel, HMS Resolute, was used in the Oval Office desk. Downing Street said the gift was designed to symbolise "historic ties" between the two nations."

    Brown takes gift to Obama and hopes for finance pact

    Gordon Brown Faces Humiliation After Obama 'Snub' Was it me, or did Obama pause for a moment while he tried to remember who he was with..."the, er, ah, Prime Minister,.."?

    What new gaffes await us when Broon addresses the joint session this afternoon? Perhaps a joint will prepare us? ;-)

    Ahhhhh!
    ed

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  • 64. At 11:34am on 04 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    For the masochists among us I note the President doesn't call Broon "Gordon".....


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  • 65. At 12:02pm on 04 Mar 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    #60 brigadierjohn
    "Virtually everyone on these blogs comes to it from a biased viewpoint."

    We've noticed! some more than others.

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  • 66. At 12:29pm on 04 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Whoops! Obama did it too! Called Broon "Gordon"

    at 17:56 here....

    ;-)
    ed

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  • 67. At 12:58pm on 04 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #60 brigadierjohn

    Ahhh.......

    bias:
    an unfair preference for or dislike of something

    I am staggered by your own demonstration of this, in your

    "Virtually everyone on these blogs comes to it from a biased viewpoint."

    backed up by your

    (just for you) Some are prepared to twist and misrepresent people and ideas, others feign open-mindedness and bleeding hearts"

    - hilarious!

    Is that right.....
    You listened to every point I had, took it on board, reasoned calmly and did not merely throw back the most exaggerated counter you could think of.
    Never a more biased man! (Make a DVD :-D)

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  • 68. At 2:10pm on 04 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    re #67

    PS Yes, I did throw the same back at you, but to illustrate, by going one better, the idiocy of your arguments.

    Right, you can try to get out of it now...no doubt it will have been me, with my inconsiderate outpourings of the most irritating and offensive mush that drove you to it....

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  • 69. At 3:07pm on 04 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #57 fourstrikes

    Sorry, Haven't read it.

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  • 70. At 3:11pm on 04 Mar 2009, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #67 aye_write: Another shrill, thoughtless response. Did I excuse myself from bias? We all come here from somewhere - you an SNP supporter (among other things) while I am a sceptic. Our starting points betray our bias.
    I'm well used to the political paranoia here, but don't let it be personal or you'll frighten yourself. I attach no importance to your posts, and certainly none to my own.
    It's just a blog, for goodness sake. Fewer than two or three dozen people see it regularly. It's a bit of fun - keep your heart and soul for the important things in life.

    #65 cynicalHighlander: One raw nerve at a time, please! :-)

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  • 71. At 3:13pm on 04 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #60 brigadierjohn

    I'd be amazed if anyone posting on a political blog didn't start with a bias! That doesn't make anyone's ends "dubious".

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  • 72. At 4:18pm on 04 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #70 brigadierjohn

    Well, you just like mud slinging. How nice.

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  • 73. At 6:58pm on 04 Mar 2009, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #71 oldnat: Another atypical post from you. I have conceded my own bias, but that's not the same as being dubious in my aims or methods. I hope you're not joining the group who pick two words out of a post and conflate them into something sinister?
    I have no "end" in mind. I am here only to test the arguments. If people are civil I can engage with them perfectly amicably despite major differences.

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  • 74. At 8:09pm on 04 Mar 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    #59, a very good point loon, I had forgotten that particular jolly abroad by the "Foreign Minister".

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