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Bird's-eye view of jail break

Brian Taylor | 14:00 UK time, Thursday, 28 May 2009

UPDATE AT 1750:

Oh, dearie, dearie, me. This is getting to be a habit.

Even as the first minister and his justice secretary were rebutting attacks about prisoners absconding, guess what?

Got it in one. Another inmate has gone AWOL.

This time, it's 57-year-old John Brown who was first convicted of murder in 1976. He had been in Castle Huntly open prison.

Well, these things happen. Prisoners abscond. In lower numbers than previously, as Alex Salmond stressed earlier.

But timing matters in politics. Entirely understandably, there were angry interventions towards the close of play at Holyrood today.

Labour's Iain Gray and others wanted to know why Mr Brown's walkabout had not been disclosed by Kenny MacAskill yesterday or by Alex Salmond today - when the issue of absconding was live and under discussion.

Mr Brown, it appears, failed to return from home leave yesterday. Ministers were tipped off last night.

But Mr Salmond insists it is an operational matter for Tayside Police as to when to disclose that the unscheduled absence of an inmate counts as an official abscond.

It would be breaking procedure, ministers argue, to intervene in that operational responsibility.

Which is fair enough as far as it goes. But opposition leaders detect government weakness - and they're going for it.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Sitting in the dock, Justice Secretary Kenny Macaskill gave just the hint of a nervous smile. All around him clustered his accusers - who want to give him early release for bad behaviour. Early release from the Cabinet, that is.

His crime? A "glitch" (his word) in prison records which allowed Brian "the Hawk" Martin to be in an open prison from which he absconded. Those records apparently didn't include the material fact that the Hawk had previously fled the coop.

Ultimately, the Hawk re-roosted all by himself. But angry opposition MSPs said he had a history of violence. They said further that Kenny "the Stork" Macaskill had been standing around with his head under his wing while the Hawk flew out of the nick.

'Wrong tree'

It was all looking pretty bad for the Stork. Shades of the prison house began to close upon the growing boy. Luckily for him, his defence counsel was Alex Salmond. (Choose your own avian comparator, I'm all done.)

Prosecuting, Iain Gray (ditto) said Mr Macaskill's approach "reeked of complacency". He said further that defence counsel, Mr Salmond, was "barking...(long pause)...up the wrong tree".

Annabel Goldie (I wouldn't dare) piled in as junior counsel. She wins, comfortably, this blog's award for the most cliches in a single sentence. Apparently, the buck stops at Bute House and Mr Salmond required to show bottle, find some mettle and grasp the thistle. All at once.

Opposition's record

Mr Salmond arose, repeatedly - and deployed the classic approach of counsel on the defensive. He counter-attacked by bringing up the record of his opponents. Absconding from the open estate had been five times worse under Labour and eight times worse under the Tories.

On that noble programme, Good Morning Scotland, Mr Gray had been confronted with his party's record - and, said Mr Salmond, had been unable to remember the details. Uproar in the court. His Honour Alex Fergusson, presiding, appealed for calm. After order was restored, Mr Salmond grinned - as only he can.And, to conclude, it was the Tories who introduced the open prison estate in the first place.

And the Stork was looking much happier by now. Seemed like the slammer was off the agenda. Hey, prison's a "skoosh" anyway, isn't it? A "tough" community sentence, then?
No, full pardon.

Expect an appeal any day from his accusers. In fact, probably every day until the next election.

PS: Welcome your comments as ever. Would remind you, gently, that it is one of the house rules that responses should not stray from the particular topic on offer.

This is designed to ensure that, in the interests of all readers, there can be focused, substantive debate.

Over a prolonged period, it means that the broadest possible range of topics can be aired.

Comments

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  • 1. At 2:32pm on 28 May 2009, Jimmythepict wrote:

    Iain Gray = dodo perhaps

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  • 2. At 2:46pm on 28 May 2009, David wrote:

    His crime? A "glitch" (his word) in prison records which allowed Brian "the Hawk" Martin to be in an open prison from which he absconded. Those records apparently didn't include the material fact that the Hawk had previously fled the coop.

    Surely the Scottish Prison Service personel involved should be taken to task. The Hawk was a high profile violent prisoner. Did the staff at Castle Huntly not look at his record and flag up an issue? If not, why not?

    The person at SPS who sent this prisoner to an open prison should also be reprimanded. In my view the SPS are the only people to blame for this. Giving the minster the blame does nothing but shield the true culprits.

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  • 3. At 2:47pm on 28 May 2009, Wansanshoo wrote:

    ''Absconding from the open estate had been five times worse under Labour and eight times worse under the Tories''.


    Nuff said ?


    Wansanshoo.

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  • 4. At 2:58pm on 28 May 2009, Tom wrote:

    The main issue is the overcrowding situation in Scotland. Dangerous criminals are mixed in with less dangerous criminals at prisons, which were not designed to hold the dangerous criminals in the first place! This is partly responsible when it comes to the most extreme managing to escape.

    Let's bring back capital punishment, empty the prisons and bring back the correct level of standards of prison services that Scotland can cope with.

    Also...

    It's not exactly on topic but I am worried at this latest development. Margaret Curran recently tabled an amendment that will allow those who were under the influence of alcohol, far to much for them to be fully aware, protection when it comes to, did I agree to have sex or not?

    I am not supporting potential rapists, and I am not dismissing the men and woman who have been wrongly abused once they were under the influence of alcohol, however I feel that this amendment is aimed at males.

    I say males because let's face it. If a woman said a man had raped her, after a one night stand or something then the man will have a difficult hill to climb to prove his innocence.

    It's unfair because it takes two people (or more) to have sexual intercourse. The pair(s) may have both be under the influence of aclohol to the extreme, thought they would have some fun and in the next morning wonder what on earth happened the night before and yet, the man who is normally accused first, will go down.

    How does this protect the man (or woman) who was in the same position as the 'victim' and agreed to have sex while intoxicated?

    Perhaps I have got the wrong end of the stick, could someone shed some light on the matter?

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  • 5. At 3:10pm on 28 May 2009, U11769947 wrote:

    Brian, How about "the cuckoo is out of the box"

    LoL.........

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  • 6. At 3:17pm on 28 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    I can tell you now boys and girls that comments to the blog are being censored.

    No, not moderated but censored.

    Brian's latest blog was predicted with ease and removed!!

    No links, no abuse - just an accurate prediction of what Brian would produce, juxtaposed with the lack of calls in our media for any Scottish Labour MP's to resign.

    I used the metaphor of the 'Trougtanic' and Unionists in Scotland constructing a 'MacAskill' liferaft in order to flee disaster.

    I also pointed out that a previous 'Hyslop Raft' had sunk without trace.

    Believe me when I say that nothing at all broke house rules !!

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  • 7. At 3:23pm on 28 May 2009, WestFifer wrote:

    I had high hopes that Kenny would be a talented Minister and would get to grips with the brief. He is probably the biggest dispointment so far (Hyslop was always going to be out of her depth) and I wonder how much longer he can go on if he can't get a grip of the job.

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  • 8. At 3:29pm on 28 May 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    I thought it was meant to be FIRST MINISTER'S QUESTIONS, questions about those functions of the Scottish Government for which he is responsible.

    It does not seem unreasonable to widen this remit out to the policy of the Government, but to hear Iain Gray (quite alarmingly close to 'losing it') explicitly asking Alex Salmond to answer a question being put to Kenny Macaskill, went too far and I was surprised that the Presiding Officer didn't disallow the particular line of questioning.

    Many of us here might see AS as a putative saviour of the Scottish nation, but not a mindreader.

    I fully expect Iain Gray to rise to his feet at the next FMQs and challenge his nemesis to give details of what Gray had for breakfast...

    (And unless he makes the mistake of dripping egg down his tie, the leader of the Labour Group in the Scottish Parliament will express his dissatisfaction with the response.)

    --

    Then again, if Scottish Labour are roundly trounced in the European Parliamentary elections next Thursday, he may not be in the job for long... and the SNP will have lost one of the greatest weapons in pursuit of independence in the immediate future. Will Wendy return? Even better!)

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  • 9. At 3:57pm on 28 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    Saw the headline - didn't even bother to read the article.

    Let me guess: the BBC attempts to put the SNP "on trial" by highlighting the grudges of those who would blame them for every day-to-day decision of every public service employee in Scotland.

    The reality: another attempt to divert attention away from the widespread systematic fraud of Westminster Unionist MPs.

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  • 10. At 4:07pm on 28 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    Brian

    You write gleefully of Macaskill's "glitch" as if it's something you've never seen before!

    A "glitch" is very similar to a "gaffe". You remember the "gaffe" don't you? You informed us of it recently when apologising for your less-than-sensational arithmetical skills.

    Of course the difference is you were responsible for your "gaffe" whereas Macaskill's "glitch" is in fact someone else's "gaffe".

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  • 11. At 4:19pm on 28 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    The BBC's analogy that Justice Secretary Kenny Macaskill faces "shades of the prison house" is very ill-advised.

    The Scottish public know full well it is actually hundreds of Westminster Unionist MPs who should actually be facing "shades of the prison house".

    Or they would do if our corrupt police force wasn't failing to enforce the law they're sworn to uphold.

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  • 12. At 4:36pm on 28 May 2009, Ian_the_chopper wrote:

    Brian, if you are going to use Avian analogies surely the Justice Minister should be an ostrich with his head in the sand.

    This position raises his rear making it easier for others to kick him in the posterior.

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  • 13. At 4:48pm on 28 May 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    #1, Jimmythepict:

    "Iain Gray = dodo perhaps"

    Or a Norwegian Blue?

    "Beautiful plumage!"

    BUT

    "...it has ceased to be [anything of relevance to the Scottish people]."

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  • 14. At 5:11pm on 28 May 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    #5, derekbarker

    Hmmm?!

    You're not about to burst into a rendition of Napoleon XIV's magnum opus, by any chance?

    (Other ice cream-based frozen confections are available.)

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  • 15. At 5:13pm on 28 May 2009, BoNG0_1 wrote:

    #2 Thomas Porter, Quote "Let's bring back capital punishment"

    ...Er... Lets NOT!

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  • 16. At 5:32pm on 28 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #8 Older than the Pyramids

    "I fully expect Iain Gray to rise to his feet at the next FMQs and challenge his nemesis to give details of what Gray had for breakfast..."

    We all know Salmond would take a quick look in that big book of notes he uses and give Gray the right answer!

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  • 17. At 6:02pm on 28 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    Whilst I agree with post #2, #3 wanashoo you cannot use this as an excuse. It may have been worse under previous administrations, however the incident happened under the present administration. And it happened not so long after the previous abscondment which resulted in a rape. Fortunately, the prisoner handed himself in. It could have been worse.

    The SPS should be carrying the can, but MacAskill is also ultimately responsible. He cannot afford any further instances at all.

    Note to Brian: we will try and stay on topic. But can you please speed up the moderation. We are back to the bad old days now approaching 3 hours to get a post. or is this what you mean by a "prolonged period".

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  • 18. At 6:08pm on 28 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    This is now turning into a ridiculous witch-hunt by the BBC to try to discredit MacAskill for something he doesn't have personal day-to-day control of.

    This is a gutter form of journalism even for the highly-partisan BBC Scotland.

    However it does show their political masters are demanding they be more aggressive towards the SNP than ever before.

    This exposes the BBC's lack of impartiality even more.

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  • 19. At 6:12pm on 28 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    I really like this two to three hour delay in moderating posts.

    It means every single post I make gets read repeatedly, plenty of time for it to sink in and my point is really hammered home.

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  • 20. At 6:31pm on 28 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    Anyone else find it extremely suspicious that this "update" about another absconded prisoner appears at 17.50 and ten minutes after that it was the lead story on the BBC news - complete with details of the escaped prisoner's name, details of his previous sentence and even his photograph (!).

    This did not appear first as a "breaking news" story - it just suddenly appeared as a fully-developed and complete news story. A person's head would have to button up the back not to see dirty fingerprints all over this. Mine doesn't button up the back!

    Either the BBC is the fastest news organisation in the world (just like their moderators!!) or they are so eager to do a hatchet job on Kenny MacAskill they've exposed the fact that they are preparing news stories with the intent of timing their release to embarrasss the SNP.

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  • 21. At 6:34pm on 28 May 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    It says as much about our press and our media as it says about the so-called opposition if trying to make a big story out of this is the best they can do.
    Synthetic and pathetic.

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  • 22. At 6:50pm on 28 May 2009, Skip_NC wrote:

    Apologies if someone has already commented on this, but the moderation queue is rather backed up at the moment.

    "It would be breaking procedure, ministers argue, to intervene in that operational responsibility.

    Which is fair enough as far as it goes."

    No. It is simply fair, and the only correct action in the circumstances. Hey, if "operational reasons" is good enough for the Westminster government, surely it's good enough for Holyrood?

    Incidentally, my spellchecker wants to change "Holyrood" to Hollywood, Holdover or Horology!

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  • 23. At 6:53pm on 28 May 2009, kaybraes wrote:

    The whole justice system is unfit for purpose, criminals are back on the street before the jury are and those who get sentences are kicked out of prison before they are due to be released. The politicians increase maximum sentences when they should be increasing minimum sentences. The police are blamed for not acting quickly enough and not arresting obvious criminals, but the whole exercise is pointless , the police arrest someone and the procurator doesn't continue with the charge ; if he does, the judge lets the criminal off with a light sentence. Drug users arrested for stealing or worse claim to be " Taking the cure " and are admonished to carry on as before. Overcrowding is not an excuse for not jailing criminals, prison is not a holiday camp , and if there are not enough places, then the government must provide more. Criminals do not require 5 star accommodation, they need to be protected from the weather and fed, that is all, society owes them nothing else. Kindness to the majority of criminals is regarded as a sign of society's gullability though the social workers and probation officers would have us believe otherwise. Mackaskill must either solve these problems or resign and let someone capable do it for him.

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  • 24. At 7:18pm on 28 May 2009, scottishrepublic wrote:

    Well im a dedicated independence supporter...but Ive got to say Kenny is perhaps being very green...Trusting those in the senior management of the Prison Service is just silly...Kenny didnt forget to lock the door...he wouldnt know how because its not his job...But he is guilty of not sorting out the management structures left by the Slavour/Fibdum failed Scottish Government...

    Its time for the headkickers to go in and sort out the useless managers who couldnt organise the proverbial pee up....Get the system fixed and get rid of those that cant work to the rules laid out for them...It must be very hard for the average Scottish Prison Warder working in conditions that are hardly desirable...empowerment of ALL staff and the backup resources is the way to go....I cant see the SNP getting enough rights to borrow money to build even more prisons because London doesnt think we are adult enough..Yes they are building a new prison in Aberdeen..but lets face it they were left with a mess by the Unionist Scots...

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  • 25. At 7:32pm on 28 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    It's approaching 19:00 and a comment posted at 16:30 has yet to appear.

    It's that time again, things are bad for Labour, an election looms and we are witnessing yet another attempt by the Unionist establishment in Scotland to manipulate news in order to attack a Scottish Government minister.

    "But opposition leaders detect government weakness - and they're going for it."

    We heard much the same thing from Brian 'Big Bird' Taylor some weeks ago when he jumped aboard the 'Hyslop' life raft. However 'Big Bird' must have proved too much balast for such a slender craft and it duly sank.

    This time though 'Big Bird', fresh from a transatlantic migration, has decided to have another go and once again has joined 'Twitcher' Gray in putting together another craft. This time 'The MacAskill' will surely save Labour from the rapidly sinking 'Troughtanic'.

    In years to come there will surely be questions as to why signals of the 'Troughtanic's' distress was ignored by the passing ship 'Scottishmedia'.

    The 'Big Bird'? ... well, a strange creature indeed. Spurning opportunities galore to board more robust and deserving crafts 'The Jamieson' a five times stronger hull, 'The Marshall' 500,000 pounds of certainty, 'The Darling' underpinned by addresses galore and private accountants, 'The Devine' the Bermuda triangle of such crafts where businesses 'disappear' mysteriously - only the invoice survives.

    The rest of the Scottish media? - A parrot, they'll repeat the same guff tomorrow.

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  • 26. At 8:02pm on 28 May 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    #4, Thomas_Porter

    "Let's bring back capital punishment"

    Never, NEVER, NEVER!!!

    Two names for you to ponder:

    Timothy Evans (executed for a crime he didn't commit, posthumously pardoned)

    Stefan Kiszko (eventually exonerated and freed, and died knowing that the world knew him innocent of the crime for which he spent 16 years in prison)

    Two films you might want to look up: "10 Rillington Place" and "A Life for a Life".

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  • 27. At 8:24pm on 28 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    Well, atill waiting my other comment to get through the rush-hour moderation queue.

    Can I make one thing clear first - what follows is NOT an attack on the SNP, but a criticism of the SSP, the Justice Minister and some of the comments recently defending Kenny MacAskill by a small number of posters here.

    The SSP is responsible for the security of prisoners, be it in high security or open prison. Another abscondment requires urgent action.

    The Justice Minister is ultimately responsible for the SSP, whether he/she is Labour, SNP, Lib Dem, Conservative or any other party. Their role is where the buck stops.

    If one of my staff makes an error, I am responsible, even if I did not make the actual error. It's what I get paid for. The same applies to Kenny MacAskill, and he would be the first to confirm this.

    It is coincidence that another prisoner has gone walkies, but this has nothing to do with Westminister I'm afraid. (or maybe it is, perhaps there is some underlying unionist plot!)

    But no one here can defend Kenny MacAskill. I do not mean he should resign, but he does carry the responsibility of what has happened. He will obviously investigate these issues, demand changes to processes where necessary and make a statement to the Scottish Parliament. I don't expect him to stand guard at the open prisons, but I expect him to ensure that the SSP takes urgent steps to address these issues.

    The expenses issue at Westminster is a huge issue, but you cannot deflect the issues up here by constantly referring to these, as if to say that the absconding prisoners are not the responsiblity of Kenny MacAskill. They are. If there was a Labour Justice Minister in post, would you be using the same arguments?

    There was a similar case a few years ago when Labour led the Scottish Government, and a convicted child killer, who was out on a shopping trip, disappeared in East Kilbride. I was livid since the police, the Scottish Government or the local (Labour) council did not inform local schools.

    It does not matter who is in Government. What does matter is that the safety of the public takes priority over any partisan political arguments. Mr Gray and Co, while right in asking questions, should also consider working with Kenny MacAskill to see if they can come to some sort of all-party agreement which can prevent further escapes. Gray's approach just ensures that the argument returns to a tit-for-tat debate rather than getting some constructive results.

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  • 28. At 10:15pm on 28 May 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    Am I the only one who finds Mr Gray's newly found regard for law and order a fleeting politically opportunistic act? The only reason Mr Gray is evne moving on crime and justics etc was because Labour was being left behind by the SNP exectuve in office and the Auntie Annie brigade.

    But to focus on the record of the day:

    1. it has to be accepted that this executives record on absconding is much lower than the previous executive.
    2. that the SNP are (finally) accepted what the Scottish Tories have been campaigning on since 2000 odd- they will be abolishing manditory early release (and we akk ought to celebrate that fact)

    So can I ask again: "am I the only one who see's a faint outline of the politically opportunistic in the manoeuvres by Mr Gray of Labour?"

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  • 29. At 10:18pm on 28 May 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    But what I will also say is that it is entirely irrelevant of Mr Salmond to go on about who introduced open prisons; expecially because when the mcorrect type of prisoners are placed in them (and not murders on 10 year sentences with a record of fleeing justice) the do tend to correct behaviour. They can be a sound mehto of rehabilitation- so why does Mr Salmond believe we Tories should appologise for introducing them? Isnt the point that since 1997 successive labour-liberal and now SNP authorities responsible for mismanaging open prisons, and not their existance persay?

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  • 30. At 10:24pm on 28 May 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    #20, bighullabaloo

    Thanks for the heads-up about the update, which I hadn't noticed.

    I wish Brian Taylor would follow the example of virtually all other BBC bloggers, and submit any update as a 'message' - 'official' contributions are usually given a coloured background to distinguish the contributor from the hoi polloi - or at least a comment to the effect that there IS an update.

    Similarly, the irritiatingly common practice (with Blether with Brian) of the headline being changed several hours AFTER the story has been published, and often after contributors have commented to the wording, etc.

    I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but...

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  • 31. At 10:26pm on 28 May 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    Captital punishment has ben floated by Thomas, and I have to say this is one issue that I honestly do not have an opinion one why or the other (enjoy, it is one of very few issues where I've not got s position!)

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  • 32. At 10:33pm on 28 May 2009, Tom wrote:

    Older than the Pyramids:

    #4.

    I do not live in a fantasy world. I understand that mistakes will be made. It's human nature, but I would prefer capital punishment in order to free up funds. It's ridiculous the amount we pay and yet, prisoners can have a better standard of living then some of the worst off families and individuals in this country. It's also ridiculous because overcrowding is an issue and we can not continue to build prisons because eventually the entire system will become to expensive. It also aappears that so far that prison numbers will continue to rise, so I do believe that the mistakes are well worth it in the long-term.

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  • 33. At 10:43pm on 28 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Readers of my comment at number may have discerned some anger, for that I apologise - I meant to show fury.

    I posted a comment on the previous blog, long before Iain Gray began his utterly predictable line of 'questions' and well before Brian Taylor penned his equally predictable blog.

    My comment was censored by the moderators, it contained no abuse nor as far as I could tell did it break any house rules. What the comment did do was to basically predict exactly what Brian would write.

    It also contained a reference to the Hewlet Packard job losses (my brother is one who will lose his job).

    At the end of the comment I explained that the Scottish media have thus far accepted the 'casual corruption' of Scottish MP's, overwhelmingly Labour MP's, without a peep. It is as though in Scotland anything will be tolerated as long as the Union is not put at risk.

    The two English MP's, Labour and Tory, are the subjects of a sustained media campaign. No party leader needed to tell the English media that the behaviour was unacceptable. There will be more as more revelations are made public.

    What though has been the reaction from our Scottish media to the inappropriate expense claims by Scottish Labour MP's?

    The answer is nothing, the media have simply reported what appeared in The Telegraph and then quietly dropped each story. There has been no campaign, no demands for resignations - nothing.

    From Marshall, through Darling, Connarty and Devine. Each of these MP's has contrived to extract monies from the public purse in suspiciously contrived fashion. Maximising claims by altering main home addresses, submitting false invoices, paying accountants with taxpayers money and buying and selling property and furnishings to other MP's and family.

    In fact, there is a wealth of Scottish Labour MP's who could be the subject of a campaign similar to the one we will witness with regards to MacAskill.

    Let's look at what Kenny MacAskill is being hounded for:

    A prisoner absonds from an open prison who ought not to have been in the prison. Now, how do we know that he ought not to have been there? Well guidelines put in place should have prevented it.

    Who put these guidelines in place? Kenny MacAskill, that's who.

    Why were the guidelines deemed necessary?

    They were necessary because one Robert Foy escaped from a similar institution in 2007.

    Who put in place the guidelines that led to Foy being in an open prison?

    Labour

    How did this latest criminal come to be in an open prison?

    The guidelines introduced by MacAskill were ignored by the Scottish Prison Service.

    What has Kenny MacAskill done to address this?

    He has indicated a full independent inquiry into what went wrong.

    How has Kenny MacAskill performed in this area since the SNP came to power?

    He has reduced the absconds from open prisons by 80%

    Now, this fact alone should have caused a responsible media to report in a measured fashion. If MacAskill had presided over increasing absconds, had failed to introduce measures to limit them then any press would have been remiss if it didn't pursue such a politician (I bring you back to the expense claims of Scottish Labour MP's !!).

    However MacAskill hasn't just been competent, he has out-performed the previous holder of the ministerial position to an embarassing degree.

    What we have is a similar situation to the Trump affair where known facts and performance are ignored in favour of headline claims by Unionist politicians.

    The latest non return of a prisoner is manna from heaven to the Scottish media who have suddenly decided that, yes, they can actually pursue ministers.

    It's merely a coincidence that the politician is from the SNP and that Labour are currently in freefall in Scotland.

    I watched FMQ's today and the only thing that Salmond used to defend MacAskill were facts. Oh, Labour had to be brought to order by the Presiding Officer - their antics were disgracefull.

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  • 34. At 10:45pm on 28 May 2009, DougtheDug wrote:

    #25 greenockboy

    Brian's blog has been rather anodyne of late.

    These are the topics of his last seven posts:

    1. Two prisoners abscond from an open prison. One still at large.
    2. David Cameron's mild proposals for reforming Parliament
    3. Texas as a model for a devolved Scotland
    4. The Scottish Lib-Dem Conference
    5. Michael Martin Resigns
    6. The Scottish Conservative Conference
    7. Michael Martin

    To put it simply Brian's blog doesn't follow what I consider to be the big stories of the day.

    Scottish MP's Expense Claims
    The Constitutional debate in England and its effect on Scotland
    The apparent rise of UKIP in the European Election
    Gordon Brown's position as leader of the Labour Party if the EU elections are a rout for Labour
    The debate about PR for Westminster Elections
    HP and other Job Losses in Scotland
    The downgrading of the outlook on the UK from stable to negative by Standard & Poor's
    The IMF forecasting a fall in house prices of around 45-50pc peak-to-trough.

    Often it's hard to think of anything to comment about if you stick to the topic of the post.

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  • 35. At 10:47pm on 28 May 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    Hello. Hello.

    Has anybody noticed. The rate of abscond since K McA changed the rules last year is at 20% of the scarpering during Labour's rule and less than 12% of the fleeing thugs during the last Tory reign in Scotland.

    This whole thing is a got-up travesty and, as I said earlier, synthetic and pathetic.

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  • 36. At 10:48pm on 28 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #27 Neil_Small147

    "But no one here can defend Kenny MacAskill."

    But seemingly anyone (including the BBC) can attack him!! Thet's some strange idea of "justice" you've got!

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  • 37. At 10:56pm on 28 May 2009, dubbieside wrote:

    Oh dear looks like the impartial BBC have missed the report about Nigel Griffiths expenses.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5402669/MPs-expenses-Nigel-Griffithss-3600-claim-for-help-listening-to-Scottish-TV-and-radio.html

    Highlights include 3604 pounds for a TV.

    17481 pounds over three years to redecorate a "cramped flat"

    Does anyone think that if these were Alex Salmonds expenses the BBC would manage to miss it, and not report it?

    But I suppose a 20pound corkscrew and a bar of Toblerone are more important.

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  • 38. At 10:59pm on 28 May 2009, scottish_solstice wrote:


    Brian you amaze me.

    You recently said your blogs may be few and far between due to you making a documentary.

    Well, you appear to have plenty time to write negative issues regarding the Scottish Government and even more time to very promptly update this one.

    It's poor journalism to show political bias, is this not in your contract????????

    PS: did you personally apologize to Alex Salmond regarding the mess you created while interviewing him at the SNP conference?

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  • 39. At 11:05pm on 28 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    "But no one here can defend Kenny MacAskill." writes Neil Small.

    Wrong, they can defend him against a clearly contrived campaign.

    "I do not mean he should resign, but he does carry the responsibility of what has happened."

    Yes he does, this story deserves to be covered and scrutiny is an absolute must. However, the facts, once ascertained must then be reported in a responsible fashion.

    The media must not, under any circumstances, become the mouthpiece of one side of the political spectrum. The situation where the state controlled broadcaster becomes cheerleader for one political party against a minister of another is appalling.

    It is compounded when the worst expenses scandals ever to hit the UK results in NOT ONE Labour MP being placed under the same scrutiny.

    PS

    I urge everybody to watch a re-run of 'Politics Now' on STV if they can. The programme featured a Euro election debate. The Labour and Lib Dem representatives displayed an arrogance and rudeness that was astonishing.

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  • 40. At 11:11pm on 28 May 2009, scottish_solstice wrote:


    It would not surprise me if the second prisoner was bribed not to return from his home visit!!

    It's pretty clear that many MPs are totally dishonest and are able to stoop to anything to get their way!

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  • 41. At 11:18pm on 28 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #27 Neil_Small147

    "He will obviously investigate these issues, demand changes to processes where necessary and make a statement to the Scottish Parliament."

    Have you actually read the facts of this story before coming on here and letting your belly rumble?

    The BBC states quite clearly: "The Scottish Government ordered a tightening of the rules on open prisons in the wake of the Robert Foye case, last year."

    In other words MacAskill has already done his job but you still want to blame him for the actions of people who failed to act on his orders.

    What is he supposed to do? Personally go around and make sure every prisoner is tucked up in bed at night? Totally ridiculous.

    Having already done what can reasonably be expected of him MacAskill has to rely on prison officers to do their jobs.

    How do we know these prison officers didn't deliberately "look the other way" simply to put pressure on the SNP justice secretary?

    Or are we all supposed to be stupid enough to believe the second escape took place at the exact moment that would make MacAskill look as bad as possible?

    Sorry, but I'm just not that stupid. The whole thing stinks of a set up.

    You may be swallowing all this BBC manure but some of us aren't so gullible.

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  • 42. At 00:17am on 29 May 2009, snowthistle wrote:

    Greenockboy,
    I'm no labour supporter but I didn't think the Labour bloke was too bad, the lib Dem on the other hand was appalling, just downright rude. I was cheering when the socialist told him to shut up and listen for a change.
    Disappointed with the wee SNP man.

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  • 43. At 00:23am on 29 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    #36 bigh

    The media are trying to crucify him, which is unfair. What I was pointing out was that as Justice Secretary he is ultimately responsible. I know he is investigating the issue, much as he was not the one who failed to monitor the prisoners. But he has to accept responsibility, which he is doing as did so with the incident which resulted in a rape, where he made a personal apology to the victim, which shows a lot of character. It is right that the inroads he has made are highlighted, but that must be balanced with his responsibilities.

    I don't know the level of authority that he has, but surely he has the power to order all dangerous prisoners out of open prisons and swap them for those deemed low-risk (grannies who don't pay council tax etc).

    Perhaps Mr Gray could have suggested this at FMQs. It would have been seen as more constructive. I've noted before that the SNP need to smarten up their communications. Perhaps Labour is in more urgent need.

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  • 44. At 00:39am on 29 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    I've said before that MPs and for that matter MSPs are not there to run their government departments but to take the blame when civil servants mess up. The incident with the escaped prisoners is important; we don't want dangerous convicted criminals wandering around our streets. However, bighullabaloo does have some pertinent questions which needs to be answered and so does DougtheDug.
    We have, probably, the biggest crises to have affected the UK parliament in centuries happening right now and all we get in Scotlands blog on politics is a couple of prisoners have gone missing from an open prison. Is that telling you something? I suspect that it isn't telling us anything, as it is meant to do, but not because there is important elections coming up soon. I wouldn't dream of insinuating that the Scottish media is deliberately trying to keep our attention off the corruption that is pervading the UK parliament. I wouldn't dream of saying that the Scottish media is determined to avoid pointing out that these MPs should resign immediately and allow their constituents the chance to elect a more moral MP to represent them. I also wouldn't dream of saying that the UK media has not mentioned that the MPs who are going to resign their seats at the next election will still be claiming nearly GBP 200,000 in expenses and wages until the next general election. Neither would I dream of saying that the Scottish media is deliberately hiding the corruption by several Scottish Labour MPs and a Scottish Labour Chancellor who has a few questions to answer about his 'flipping'.
    No, what does seem to be of great importance is that two convicted criminals (one handed himself back) have gone for 'walkies'.

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  • 45. At 00:54am on 29 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    I forgot to add that, at least, Michael Martin had the decency to resign his seat.

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  • 46. At 01:17am on 29 May 2009, bluelaw wrote:

    More pointless froth and a waste of a good blog.

    Condemn me all you wish but I don't even care about this issue. I really don't.

    Gray was pathetic today and an embarrassment. When will this be reflected in the Scottish media? When will they go for him the way the English press go for Brown et al? When?! Cowards and lackeys all.

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  • 47. At 01:20am on 29 May 2009, bluelaw wrote:

    Agree. Martin is starting to look honourable in all this which is really saying something. We want mass resignations and substantive change even if God willing we are not long for this union. But we know we're not going to get it. We know that don't we.

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  • 48. At 02:03am on 29 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 47 bluelaw

    'But we know we're not going to get it. We know that don't we.'

    Of course we know this. They will do everything in their power to make sure that it doesn't happen, but that is big boys politics. I don't believe that they are so much concerned about the oil; that is already out of our hands. I believe it is more to do with the embarrassment they would face on the world stage at not being able to control what 'they' see as their own country. What right would they have, on the world stage, of dictating their policies unto the rest of the world if they get stuffed by a 'wee country'.
    Our only hope is to embarrass them into letting us go, and that would only be at the last resort.
    Interesting times ahead.

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  • 49. At 07:07am on 29 May 2009, Wansanshoo wrote:

    Bird's-eye view of jail break.

    Attached is the link to the previous debate on this issue.

    The goverment has a far better record on this issue than the opposition by a long margin, yet the BBC continue to try and manufacture a 'news' story.

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/sp/?id=2009-05-27.17836.0

    It's not difficult to spot why a state enforced public funded BBC exists.

    Wansanshoo.

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  • 50. At 08:13am on 29 May 2009, Wansanshoo wrote:

    Bird's eye view of a jail break.

    The attached report praises the former administration in respect of the open prison, we are now five times better than the previous administration on absconds,I suppose it's in the best interest of the BBC to keep 'onside' with the Westminster based party that enforces the license fee on the general public.

    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2007/02/06130030

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  • 51. At 08:30am on 29 May 2009, ubinworryinmasheep wrote:

    #26 I agree there have been to much injustices for the death penalty to be brought back (the Lockerbie bomber one of them), but i still think prison sentences are to lenient in some cases. I notice the latest escapee was in jail for life and it seems had served 30 years which is a stark contrast to now, where life means 10 years or out in 7 if your a good boy. Agreed Kenny needs to sort out this mess but since the previous lot did no better they would be best keeping quiet.

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  • 52. At 08:33am on 29 May 2009, ubinworryinmasheep wrote:

    #40/#41 I cant believe the second prisoner was persuaded to abscond. Surely after serving 30 years he wouldnt want to add more time to his sentence....that is unless he is one of those rare prisoners that are actually in for life ...anyone know the story?

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  • 53. At 09:07am on 29 May 2009, Aikenheed wrote:

    I've never been a supporter of ministerial resignations as a result of individual error - failing to correct a systemic fault causing further problems OK - but when employees fail to implement a policy - that's just more responsibiltiy ducking by compacent over pensioned civil servants - discipline or sack the individual - even god forbid feature them in the news - other peolple cought up in a news story are.

    Talking about padded cells ( I have to work this in somehow) latest is - apparently Rosie Winterton ex Prezza mistress claimed for soundproofing a bedroom

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  • 54. At 09:11am on 29 May 2009, Edward2010 wrote:

    So we have to stay on topic, but when will the BBC actually stay on 'facts'? Another dig at the BBC?, you bet! Aslong as the BBC continue to be bias innews and current affairs, instead of giving a truthful and even handed coverage, it will continue to be the butt of critisism.
    On the subject of prisoner escaping.I find it disgraceful that Labour should mount to whats best described as a witch hunt.But then again this is now the Labour tactic (they tried and failed with Fiona Hyslop) it is all part of their continueing smear an negative campaign.
    Lets look a the facts. The SNP Government inherited a bad system in 2007, they set out to make changes. Kenny MacAskill made the changes which resulted in a dramatic drop in prison absconds (why is this not stated by the BBC?). It has now been established that the recent prisoner 'escapes', actually they just walked out of open prison and dint return. Were the result of the Scottish Prison Service NOT implementing the changes at a particular open prison, this was admitted by the SPS (why is this not stated by the BBC?). IF absconds HAD increased as a result of changes made by Kenny MacAskill OR if the absconds that just occured were the result ofthe changes made, then of cource Keny MacAskill woul be at fault. But this is clearly not the case. So why does the BBC accept what Labour tell them?
    An interesting little point regarding oneof the prisoners serving a 30+ year sentence. It was interesting that the BBC let slip that the prisoner HAD already served 33 years in a main prison and had been transfered to the open prison in preperation for the outside world. But dont let us get facts in the way of a story

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  • 55. At 09:18am on 29 May 2009, Wansanshoo wrote:

    Home Office admits 700 escape from open prisons


    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5003876.stm


    BBC Scotland is making a bigger issue of 2 absconds than BBC Bristol did over 700....?

    Wansanshoo.

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  • 56. At 09:23am on 29 May 2009, Diabloandco wrote:

    ubinworryinmasheep, yes I too was astounded that this prisoner had been incarcerated since '75.
    It also makes it highly unlikely that he wouldwant even an extra 4 months added to his sentence when he was obvioulsy near release.

    I watched FMQs yesterday , I do like to see the Labour Party in full throated idiocy from the top to the bottom!

    I noted that Cathy J inadvertantly nodded her head in agreement when the FM mentioned the figures under her tenure.

    I wonder how long the Scottish media can keep up this farcical support for Labour?

    I note that the Scotsman has actually printed the tale of Mr Griffiths expenses, it too, is farcical!

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  • 57. At 09:34am on 29 May 2009, Wansanshoo wrote:

    Bird's eye view......?


    ''Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners have absconded from each open prison in England in each year since 1997; how many have been recaptured; and if he will make a statement''

    ''Mr. Sutcliffe: There have been 7,105 absconds from open prisons in England since 1 April 1997. A break down of the number of prisoners who have absconded from each open prison over the last five years is given in the following table''

    ''Available data indicates that 356 prisoners remain unlawfully at large from those who absconded from English open prisons since one April 1997. The police are notified when prisoners abscond and their details are entered on the police national computer''

    Absconds from open prisons in England between 1997-98 and 2005-06.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Maybe Mr Taylor can tell us how many are still on the loose ?

    Wansanshoo



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  • 58. At 09:45am on 29 May 2009, snowthistle wrote:

    Is Mr MacAskill not responsible for ensuring that his changes made in 2007 are implemented. It seems ludicrous to me that the measures he brought in, which have lowered the number of absconds, have been ignored by this particular prison. Heads surely have to roll if this is the case and Mr MacAskill needs to get a grip!!

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  • 59. At 10:09am on 29 May 2009, GrassyKnollington wrote:

    Brian, have to agree with others that for someone who was warning about potentially sparse blogging you seemed to be fair sprinting to update this particular blog.

    @34 Doug agreed. Why are Brian's blogs so anodyne? I was thinking about this and it occured to me that as a function of his job Brian appears to be a victim or indeed proponent of the dreaded Scots condition that rhymes with hinge.

    The big issues, relevant stories, Westminster scandals are evidently not for the likes of us. Instead we are Reporting Scotland writ large. Smalltown, cat up a tree, best little country but careful not to get too big for our boots and talk about stuff that doesn't concern us.

    I'm not sure if focusing on "local" politics while Westminster burns is that effective anyway. In the age of internet it's not as if we don't know what's happening.

    I suppose as Doug implies it would be good to have somewhere to discuss the pressing political issues of the day instead of being kept in our place away from the big boys and girls. BBC Scotland's need to "keep it local" has never seemed more apparent.

    Corruption? Economic meltdown? Constitutional upheaval?

    Sorry chaps and chapesses , Nick Robinson, the UK guy, nailed that gig.

    You can access it from here but you'll probably be shouted down if you try and join the conversation over there because his readers think you have your own blog.

    Meanwhile in Alloa, a budgie wearing a Queen of The South scarf has told our reporter why he certainly won't be voting SNP......

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  • 60. At 10:30am on 29 May 2009, ScaraBraeSingleMalt wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 61. At 10:35am on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    Julie Kirkbride MP: "I do understand why people don't understand".

    I wish these people would get it into their thick skulls that they do not have a monopoly on understanding.

    It would be nice if whoever replaces this shower could give the people who vote for them a little credit for intelligence.

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  • 62. At 10:41am on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #58 snowthistle

    "Is Mr MacAskill not responsible for ensuring that his changes made in 2007 are implemented?"

    Maybe you can explain in detail what you mean by: "ensuring changes are implemented"?

    How exactly is he supposed to do this? He's asked people to implement changes and they're failing to do so.

    What practical steps can MacAskill take? Do you expect mass sackings of failed prison officers?

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  • 63. At 10:43am on 29 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    On a more important and interesting note, it has been agreed among the four FA's that England will supply the UK's 2012 Olympic football team.

    It's a real shame that a combined team couldn't have been allowed just this, once as our combined talent would have been fantastic to watch.

    However, there are a many nations that would like to see the UK only having one team, and this one tournament is just not worth the risk of losing our respective national teams.

    (I'm no longer interested in any tedious and ignorant nationalist myths about the 2012 Olympics, keep them to yourselves, just passing on the news.)

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  • 64. At 10:52am on 29 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    And, as usual, the nats are desperately trying to divert increasing attention from the SNP's growing number of failures by pointing any and everywhere else.

    Thank God for an even more inept opposition, eh!

    That the vast majority of absconders from open prisons are 'low-level' thieves and thugs (who often return within hours or are just late back from day-release, but are still recorded as 'absconded') and NOT the murderers and rapists that are allowed to walk away from our prisons, is seemingly irrelevant.

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  • 65. At 11:07am on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    Sorry I'm just not stupid enough to believe this "coincidence" of another prisoner "escaping" at the exact moment MacAskill was responding in parliament to Labour criticism of the first "escape".

    The BBC did not carry the story about the second abscondee as "breaking news" as they would normally do.

    A mere 10 minutes after the "update" to this blog appeared the story was headlined on the "Scotland" news page.

    It appeared immediately as a fully-developed news story. They even had the name and PHOTOGRAPH of the second escapee!

    Are we to believe the BBC keeps a library of photographs of all prisoners in Scottish jails so they can publish them within 10 minutes of a prisoner escaping?!!

    Sorry, we all know that isn't true. Someone out there was preparing this "story" for several hours before the second "escape" was "discovered".

    Do they think we're so stupid we won't notice how orchestrated the whole thing appears?

    An obvious attempt by Labour to "ambush" the SNP's MacAskill - aided and abetted by the "impartial" BBC Scotland.

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  • 66. At 11:19am on 29 May 2009, A_Scottish_Voice wrote:

    Desperate stuff from Brain and the BBC.

    Labour are up to their necks in expenses scandals with major Labour players being caught with their hands in our pockets on a daily basis, and yet given the lack of coverage of this you would be forgiven for thinking that the BBC and Brain live on another planet.

    The level of partisanism here is cringe worthy beyond belief.

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  • 67. At 11:20am on 29 May 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    This is all getting very tiresome from the Labour Party

    "Kid's don't like learning French & German! Fiona Hyslop HAS TO GO!"

    "Prisoners abscond from a open Prison! Kenny MaAskill HAS TO GO!"

    erm.... just over half of the Parliamentary Labour party has been caught with thier fingers in the expenses till and almost ll of Brown's Cabinet... - Anyone? Pot Kettle Black?

    The Gray man is a dour wee neep when things don't go his way at the best of times - but whats with the outcry of "moral indignation?" I mean, it's not like Salmond solicited a 10,000 GBP donation from a foreign donor, to fight a leadership battle that wasn't contested and wasn't declared in line with the rules on party donations...

    Prisoners abusing the trust of an open prison system is small beer in comparison to fraud and outright lies. MacAskill should implement a review on prisoner tranfers. What else can he do? Pitch a tent outside Castle Huntly and wave the bad absconding prisoners back to thier cells?

    Small beer indeed.

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  • 68. At 11:22am on 29 May 2009, Wansanshoo wrote:

    Birds eye view of a jail break.

    Is the open prison system suitable for the Unionist MPs' who have claimed phantom mortgagaes?

    Wansanshoo.

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  • 69. At 11:24am on 29 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    And bighullabaloo goes off on another conspiracy hunt. Entertaining stuff!

    Has Bill Cash (gotta love that name!) resigned yet?

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  • 70. At 11:27am on 29 May 2009, googlehoo wrote:

    Re #64 Reluctant-expat

    Presumably, you have a profile of the absconders under the current and previous administrations in order to back up your claim, so please share it with the rest of us so that we can all make informed statements.

    Presumably, you also have the stats and profile for the number of absconders in England and Wales under the Westminster administration that you prefer over the Holyrood administration, so perhaps you can share that as well.

    I'll await your response .......

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  • 71. At 11:39am on 29 May 2009, GrassyKnollington wrote:

    "Sky News has learned that the Scottish, Welsh and Irish Football Associations have privately agreed to turn a blind eye to a one-off British team for the Olympic Games."


    lol you couldn't make it up. Careful now, people might start to to think *gasp* that England and Great Britain are the same thing!



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  • 72. At 11:39am on 29 May 2009, minceandmealie wrote:

    On the subject of political issues which are being overlooked, I read in a London newspaper today that record numbers of Labour MPs have applied to Gordon Brown to be granted peerages and to sit in the House of Lords after the next general election.

    "In the clearest indication to date that increasing numbers of Labour figures believe the party is heading for a heavy defeat at the hands of David Cameron, the Guardian has learned that at least 52 MPs have formally approached Downing Street to be given places in the upper house."

    It would be interesting and perhaps revealing to know how many of these are Scottish Labour MPs. That would be a worthy subject for reporting or blogging, unlike this current thread (which is actually vaguely comic.)

    If we are going to discuss prison policy sensibly, the striking thing to note is that all four main parties have been in charge of prisons at one time or another over the last twenty years (Tory Secretary of State pre-devolution, Labour and Liberal Democrat Scottish Executive, SNP Scottish Government). All of them have struggled against the rising tide of prisoner numbers, which is caused by a combination of heavier sentencing of serious offenders (despite that recent ultra-liberal report claiming that no-one in Cornton Vale was anthing other than a victim, there are actually more female prisoners serving long sentences for serious crimes than ever before), and rising levels of petty and repeat crime related to drunken violence, stealing to support drug habits, and general lowlifery.

    Now, were we to discuss what the causes of these phenomena are, and try to address them, then we might start to reduce criminal offending, and so reduce the pressure on the prison system. As far as I can see, the Tories want to bang up more people for longer. Taking the junkies off methadone (as Annabel wishes) will also result in increased crime, most likely. Not a way to reduce prison number, then.

    The SNP came out with a bunch of proposals to reduce drinking, especially by teenagers - and let's face it, drunkenness and violence tragically go together in Scotland's streets and houses - and they were opposed not only by the Liberals (which makes a kind of philosophical sense) but by the Tories (which makes no such sense as far as I can see) and by Labour (yes, the same Labour Party that kept all those Glasgow housing schemes free of pubs, and whose constituencies are many of those most blighted by drunken neds. Eh?)

    Do any of the parties have substaantive ideas on how to reduce offending? Let's hear them, then.

    PS I would hope to hear something about Scottish MPs expenses soon on this blog too. Eighteen thousands pounds for "quality bookshelves"? Or, bought four grand of furniture, claimed it back, sold it to my fellow MP, he claimed it back too? Or, a Chancellor of the Exchequer who gets us to pay for his personal tax accountant (a deduction not available to taxpayers), and who surely believes he will be reincarnated as a dolphin (think about it...)? There must be a story in there somewhere....

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  • 73. At 11:46am on 29 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    I'm now wondering if the SNP have "reduced" open prison absconding by no longer recording anyone who was missing for less than 24 hours. They certainly have a record for manipulating statistics.

    No. Surely not.

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  • 74. At 11:52am on 29 May 2009, waitingformyman wrote:

    Nats-don't bother with this one!!!!

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  • 75. At 11:56am on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #69 Reluctant-Cowpat

    I hate to disappoint my fans! If you think #65 was entertaining you're going to love this:

    Welcome to: "PREDICT BRIAN'S BLOG TOPIC 2009!!!"

    Yes, folks, finally your hard-earned BBC TV tax is going to be spent on something more useful than an all-expenses paid trip to Texas.

    To enter, all you have to do is predict what Brian Taylor's next blog topic will be, using this recommended format:

    "PREDICT BRIAN'S BLOG TOPIC 2009" followed by the topic YOU think he's going to "cover" next!

    It's easy!!! To make sure you're entry is not censored limit the contents to the above. Can't wait to see 'em!

    Good luck!! :-)

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  • 76. At 12:25pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    Okay, allow me get the ball rolling. Here's my prediction:

    PREDICT BRIAN TAYLOR'S NEXT BLOG TOPIC 2009:

    The attendance records of MEPs at the European parliament and how much they get paid for not turning up

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  • 77. At 12:36pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    In case you're wondering what they've found so objectionable about my #75 - it's a suggestion for a wee prediction exercise everyone can take part in (as illustrated in #76 - if they don't censor that as well)!

    Apparently it's not allowed to predict Brian Taylor's next blog topic. Why on earth would they be so sensitive about that?!!

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  • 78. At 1:10pm on 29 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    The story now is not the fabricated tosh that passes as news in todays Scotland but the very clear evidence that the state broadcaster is acting as cheerleader for one side against another.

    Two arguments are being put forward by those of us seeking to defend MacAskill.

    1. His record is so far is way ahead of the previous Labour/Liberal administration and he has already implemented changes that address the very case in question.

    2. There appears to be an institutionalised reluctance by the Scottish media to pursue Labour MP's who's conduct in office is universally accepted to be worse than the Scottish Prison Service not following MacAskills prodecures.

    Now, 'Reluctant-expat' can and no doubt will repeatedly post comments that will use less than flattering language to describe independence supporting posters. However, it should be noted that name calling neither strengthens his argument nor diminishes ours.

    It was predicted (yes I know, but it was) by many that such a situation would occur in Scotland. A relatively minor mishap (In this case a guy absconds then hands himself back in) would be deliberately blown out of proportion by the Scottish media who are desperate for anything in order to deflect from the very real deterioration in UK democracy.

    I'm sure I'm correct here, but only two SNP ministers have thus far escaped the now laughable calls from Labour to resign, Richard Lochhead and Jim Mather. Every other minister has, at one point or another, sported this particular medal of honour - MacAskill is only the latest and perhaps the most unfortunate coming as it does amidst the very real Labour expenses scandals.

    Brian Taylor, for me, loses credibility with every blog. A man who served his time covering politics in a Scotland where only one party existed now appears unable to adjust to the demands of the challenge that two parties now presents.

    What we see is a jolly character who profers mirth in place of scrutiny. One who is all too aware of what is expected of one such as himself from the powers that be - and they sit in London. Like many of their Labour contemporaries BBC journalists in Scotland are not employed to criticise the status quo, their lucrative careers depend on it's endurance.

    Like fattened turkeys they view independence as a real turkey would view thanksgiving.

    How very interesting it would be if Scottish BBC political presenters were forced to answer their critics, live on air. Divide by zero? Oh no, the questions would be far more harder than that for them to answer.

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  • 79. At 1:21pm on 29 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    On predictions:

    OK, brian will allude to this blog and the criticism he is receiving. He won't answer any of it but may try to use the analogy of Susan Boyle in some way.

    The blog will contain his now tiresome 'funnies', i.e. 'Much gnashing of teeth' etc, etc.

    He will have to address the Euro elections and may focus on voter turnout, using it in order to suggest that all parties are now guilty of harming democracy as voters 'turn away' from them.

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  • 80. At 1:22pm on 29 May 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #73 Expat
    "I'm now wondering if the SNP have "reduced" open prison absconding by no longer recording anyone who was missing for less than 24 hours. They certainly have a record for manipulating statistics."
    Expat, I suspect it may just be elementary training for being in politics in much the same way that Labour use the CPI index for calculating inflation and the Tories only counted people who were claiming benefits as being unemployed.
    Lies, damned lies and political manipulation of statistics...

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  • 81. At 1:28pm on 29 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 82. At 1:47pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #81 Reluctant-Cowpat

    I see what you've done: photoshopped Connery's face onto a shot of you in your very fetching beachwear. Sneaky!

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  • 83. At 1:51pm on 29 May 2009, minceandmealie wrote:

    Trolling is not exactly a sign of winning an argument, of course.

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  • 84. At 2:05pm on 29 May 2009, GrassyKnollington wrote:

    On predictions, below the line these will follow the usual rhythm on this blog.

    Post, post,post, post, unionist troll, post,lone angry Tory, post, post, unionist troll, post, unionist troll, post, post etc.


    Until independence.

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  • 85. At 2:09pm on 29 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    I have mentioned for quite some time now about the Black ops/propoganda that has slowly been used by the British media to slander the SNP, as well as their reluctance to mention any stories which may show the Unionist parties in a bad light. You are only starting to see the tip of the iceberg. It is going to get a lot worse the closer we get to an election. The Euro elections are of no importance to those that want to show the Nationalists in a bad light as the Euro elections have no influence on the Westminster elections. The supreme importance of the Westminster elections is the fear the Unionists have is that the Nationalists (mostly the SNP and Plaid Cymru) will end up having a workable majority in Scotland and Wales which can lead the Nationalists to declare UDI. (I don't care what you say about this deanthetory because you have never come up with any proof that the Westminster government will let us go. You have only given your personal opinion.) If the Natioalists declare UDI then it will be extremely difficult for the Westminster government to stop this from happening and still be able to hold its head up high upon the world stage as a democratic country.
    As I mentioned earlier, the black ops is only going to get worse, be prepared for it. You have only seen the nice bits, so far. The closer we get to a General Election the more the scare stories will appear.

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  • 86. At 2:12pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #78 greenockboy

    To use a currently fashionable "avian comparator": that's one fat turkey!

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  • 87. At 2:16pm on 29 May 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #84 Grassy

    I couldn't agree more. My post on the previous thread (assuming it makes it past the mods, makes a similar point.

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  • 88. At 2:16pm on 29 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 89. At 2:18pm on 29 May 2009, googlehoo wrote:

    To quote Brian "Oh, dearie, dearie, me. This is getting to be a habit", unionists, reluctant or otherwise throw as much mud as they can at anything that is Nationalist, or even positive in Scotland in the hope that if they sling enough of it, it'll seem like the truth, but when challenged, have nothing to back it up and just vanish until the topic changes.

    They've obviously been taking tips from Derek Draper.

    Never mind that they cannot substantiate their nasty innuendoes, never mind that they are 'economical with the truth', never mind that their stats are dodgier than a one of Arthur Daly's motors, just shout it loud enough to drown out everyone else and it'll do.

    Time to go away, sad little trolls ......

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  • 90. At 2:55pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #85 gedguy2

    Excellent post. If the SNP has a working majority of MPs in Scotland after the next general election they will rightly make a Unilateral Declaration of Indpendence for Scotland. Westminster can do nothing to stop them. As you rightly point out this is a very real possibility and it frightens Unionists to death.

    The evidence for this will be the flurry of Unionist trolls trying to deny it that you'll now see in response to this post. What's the chances of Brian's next blog being about the SNP making a UDI, eh?! Let me tell you: it's the same as what Brian Taylor believes you get when you divide 24 by zero.....!!

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  • 91. At 3:20pm on 29 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    UDI now? Oh, we are getting a little detached, aren't we!

    Ok, just to let you know, a UDI is zip-zilch until it is backed up by a referendum. >50% voting for a political party in an election does not automatically give that party the right to declare independence, does it. No, of course not. That is a very silly conclusion to jump to.

    But warming to hear you are considering drastic undemocratic measures now! Awesome.

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  • 92. At 3:21pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #85 gedguy2

    Here they come! As predictable as clockwork. (Yawn)

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  • 93. At 3:24pm on 29 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    And very well done to bighullabaloo for guessing that such a wild leap into the surrealistic would garner a mocking response!

    Super-seriously, well done!

    Let's hear it for the Oracle that is bighullabaloo, everybody!

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  • 94. At 3:29pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    It's easy to see I touched a nerve there eh?!!

    Reluctant Cowpat all worked up and reduced to posting childish links to dumb photographs (the links don't even work properly so you needn't bother!) Hardly a dignified way for a grown adult to pass their time.

    Yep, he's scared to death. Never a truer word was spoken.

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  • 95. At 3:37pm on 29 May 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    I'm in agreement with some of the other posters here Brian.

    This wasn't a very newsworthy story - and after reviewing what all the fuss was about it's obvious that Salmond wiped the floor with Grayman and Bella in double quick time. Even Cathy Jameison was nodding away in approval/admittance/involuntary spasm at Salmonds statistical recollection of her tenure as Justice Secretary.

    Why such an increase in the frequency of these non-stories when all the juicy stuff is coming right out of the "other other" government that represents us (You know, the one that thinks it know's what Scotland want's but won't let on that it doesn't really care)

    Should we hang up our Brian's Blog membership badges and trot off to guido fawkes's blog or god help us, Nick Robinsons blog...? We're really getting no satisfaction in seeing Grayman getting walloped each week and you serving it to us like it might have been something worth watching.

    Just a thought loon!

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  • 96. At 3:42pm on 29 May 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #90 bighullabaloo

    Yes, I know, it is he of so very little time again...

    "What's the chances of Brian's next blog being about the SNP making a UDI, eh?! Let me tell you: it's the same as what Brian Taylor believes you get when you divide 24 by zero.....!!

    Tell me, who would Brian write such a post? There is no evidence to suggest that such a declaration is imminent (or even likely). Alex Salmond may have his faults (he supports Hearts for starters) but he is astute enough a politician not to count votes that have yet to be cast. And, I believe, Brian is astute enough a journalist not to waste time debating an issue that has yet to (and may not) materialise. There are so many real issues that he could and should be discussing just now rather than pondering what might happen in some hypothetical future.

    Let's have the election first and see how the land lies before deciding whether or not the issue of UDI even merits discussion.

    Granted, the tide may be turning in Scotland's favour, and optimisim is all very well but let's hold off on the celebrations (or comiserations depending on what side of the fence you sit) until after the votes have been counted.

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  • 97. At 4:23pm on 29 May 2009, Tom wrote:

    I am suprised Briain!

    I expect that a person who is clearly a football fan may have created a blog covering the recent allowance for England to represent Team Great Britain at the London Olympics.

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  • 98. At 4:26pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #96 Fit Like?

    "There is no evidence to suggest that such a declaration is imminent (or even likely)."

    Looking forward to seeing your "evidence" that a UDI isn't imminent, or is it another case of demanding evidence from others whilst offering none to back up your own view?

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  • 99. At 4:35pm on 29 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    It's all gone quiet then. Shame.

    Well, it's been a fun day, boys and girls. I'm a BIG fan of this new UDI twist and I very much look forward to seeing how wild this angle gets over the weekend. Go for it, m'Bravehearts.

    But bighullabaloooooooooooo is absolutely right (damn, he's good), I am really worked up right now, really mega-seriously worked up.........deep breath......so I'm going to finish this last minute project for the company's legal corps and then it's to our sun-kissed beach to celebrate 'Friday'.

    Okay, TWO last-minute projects for the legal types. Excellent.

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  • 100. At 4:42pm on 29 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 96 Fit Like?

    'There are so many real issues that he could and should be discussing just now rather than pondering what might happen in some hypothetical future.'

    I agree with you but my posting (# 85) was not about that if you care to read it again you will see. My posting was about the misinformation that will be put about by the British media to the detriment of the SNP and Plaid Cymru. This is what # 90 Bighullabaloo was agreeing with and adding his usual sarcastic humour to his posting.

    # 91 Reluctant-Expat

    '>50% voting for a political party in an election does not automatically give that party the right to declare independence, does it.'

    So, what you are saying is that if over fifty percent of the voting population of either Scotland or Wales vote for a party that, at its heart, wants independence then that is not classified, in your eyes, as legal right to have independence. In my posting (# 85) I did not say that we would automatically declare UDI, as you very well know, but said that this is what Westminster is frightened of. Unlike your Unionist parties, the SNP has said that it will hold a referendum, but this time it will be fair and above board. As opposed to the last time a referendum was held by the Unionist parties in 1979 when even when the majority of the voters voted for home rule the Westminster Unionists said it was not legal as the non voters were counted as a 'NO' vote. They wouldn't get off with that today, which is probably why they refuse to hold a referendum on Europe.

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  • 101. At 4:45pm on 29 May 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #98 bighullabaloo

    Where did I demand evidence? I offered my opinion on a subject, nothing else. My opinions are my own and I'm as entitled to state mine, ie, I believe a UDI is not imminent, just as you are entitled to espouse your beliefs.

    All I really was trying to say is, as far as I am aware, at this precise moment in time, UDI is a non issue and there are other much more important (again, my opinion only) issues that could be being scrutinised and discussed.

    Disagreement is allowed you know. Imagine how dull it would be if everybody shared the same opinion at all times. Nothing would ever change, for better or worse. So, please, stop taking disagreement as some type of negative criticism, it isn't, it is merely a difference of opinion.

    I frequently agree (and disagree) with posters from both Unionist and Nationalist camps. It doesn't mean I have a bias towards either side nor that I don't respect their views. Valuble contributions are not the sole property of only one side of the debate.

    Anyway, the weekend, the Edinburgh 7s and hopefully some decent weather approaches so I'll leave my overpious preaching for now and bid you a pleasant and stress free weekend (I think you need it).

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  • 102. At 4:49pm on 29 May 2009, Tom wrote:

    #98.

    The SNP were not elected on the grounds of reversing the acts of Union.

    The SNP were elected on the promise to hold a referendum.



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  • 103. At 4:56pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #99

    God help the Cowpat's "legal corps" if they're relying on him to produce lucid, logical arguments in his "last-minute projects".

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  • 104. At 4:58pm on 29 May 2009, ubinworryinmasheep wrote:

    #71 Could we perhaps have the ridiculous situation in 2012 where the Scots, Irish and Welsh all support anyone but the 'British' football team in the olympics. Should be interesting ;O)}

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  • 105. At 5:15pm on 29 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    Aren't the Unionist posters strange. If we said that we were wanting to invest in the space programme they'd accuse us of wanting to invade Mars.

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  • 106. At 5:23pm on 29 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 104 ubinworryinmasheep

    I'm going for Germany. ;-)

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  • 107. At 5:25pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #101 Fit Like?

    So you don't have any evidence. No surprise there then!

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  • 108. At 5:30pm on 29 May 2009, GrassyKnollington wrote:

    @104 hadn't thought of that!

    The metropolitan commentators rage as what they see as the tedious "regions" first of all refusing to take part then failing to support team GB can only be imagined :O)

    I like England so "anyone but Britain" is much more attractive to me as a slogan.

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  • 109. At 6:42pm on 29 May 2009, oldnat wrote:

    Local press here had already identified Brian Donohoe as the highest spending Ayrshire MP.

    Nice to see that details are now coming out of his expenses.

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  • 110. At 7:07pm on 29 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    Can I please it make it clear what I was trying to point out:

    Kenny MacAskill is POLITCALLY responsible for the security of prisoners, much as Alistair Darling is politically responsible for the Treasury.

    Political responsibility comes with all cabinet posts. That does not however mean that every time there is a problem the incumbent has to resign.


    85. At 2:09pm on 29 May 2009, gedguy2:

    Declare UDI? I doubt it very much. There would be legal challenges from everywhere. Might sound nice, but this is not North America two hundred years ago.

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  • 111. At 7:38pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #110 Neil_Small147

    "this is not North America two hundred years ago."

    Then why is Brian Taylor banging on about "Texas has chosen since 1845 to share sovereignty with the United States of America."?

    Did you forget to tell him?

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  • 112. At 7:38pm on 29 May 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #107 bighullabaloo

    Never claimed that I did. As I said, it's my opinion, nothing else. Incidentally, do you have any evidence that might convince me otherwise?

    Anyway, if you are interested in the basis for my opinion it is this:

    Opinion polls show that support for independence is below 50%. The figures vary from poll to poll but are consistantly put the figure below 50%. Now, granted, the polls show that those who are against independence outright are also below 50%. There are an awfull lot of 'don't knows' (or possibly even, dare I say it, 'don't cares' out there that it is still up in the air. Neither side can claim the 'don't knows' (I'm opting to be charitable) for their own.

    On that basis, UDI would, most likely, not have the support of the majority so its legitimacy would be questionable at least.

    Should the next General Election return an SNP majority of Scottish MPs, because of the permutations of the FPTP system, depending on the size of that majority, it may still mean that there is not an outright majority in favour of independence and so, again the legitimacy of any UDI would be questionable.

    I believe, and I state that this is just my belief, I don't claim to know the inner workings of Ales Salmond's mind, that Alex Salmond is more than aware of this. I believe, (there's that word again) that he knows that the only legitimate way to settle the argument one way or another is to have a referendum on that particular subject alone. If there is a majority 'Yes' vote, then I believe proper, serious negotions on how the split from the remainder of the UK would be accomplished would follow.

    As has already been shown on a previous thread (sorry, but I can't be bothered trawling for it) a majority of seats in Westminster does not in itself translate into a majority share of the vote. The reality is that it is effectively the largest minority party that forms the Government. Even in the Tory landslide of 1983 and the Labour landlside of 1997, the eltion victors, whilst having huge parliamentary majorities, did not achieve a simple majority (ie greater than 50%) of the votes cast. So, on that basis, a majority of SNP MPs representing Scottish constituencies cannot be taken as representing a majority of Scottish voters and it does not necessarily follow that even with the said SNP majority, that the majority of Scottish voters would support independence.

    That is why, I feel, UDI is not a sensible option. Its legitimacy is too easily called into question. A referendum, which Alex has stated tie and again as being his favoured approach, addresses the legitimacy question much more than bums on seats at Westminster (or even Holyrood for that matter).

    Anyway, as I say, these are just my opinions, I offer no substantiating evidence and I don't claim to speak for anyone else.

    Ultimately, it's for the people of Scotland to decide and, for good or ill, they should be allowed to make that decision for themselves. 1 voter, 1 vote, yea or nea, simple as that.

    #100 gedguy

    I wasn't dismissing your claims. I agree, in the run up to any election/referendum, all sorts of nonsense will be spouted by our so-called 'free' press. I was just simply saying, as I hope this post illustrates, my feeling for why I think UDI is the wrong way to go and why, I believe, the SNP will (I hope) choose not to follow that particular path.

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  • 113. At 7:52pm on 29 May 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #110 Neil

    "Declare UDI? I doubt it very much. There would be legal challenges from everywhere." Much more succintly put thatn my rambling epic. Anyone would think I've been taking lessons from aye_wite.

    Where is she, by the way? and Ed and Browndov. Place seems kind of empty without them...

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  • 114. At 8:02pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #112 Fit Like?

    "Never claimed that I did."

    Typical behaviour of the BBC blogger:

    Deny there's evidence for something but fail to come up with any evidence against it.

    When will you people stop with the "opinions" backed up with nothing?

    When you do then you will have the right to demand evidence from others.

    Not before.

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  • 115. At 8:08pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #112 Fit Like?

    "a majority of seats in Westminster does not in itself translate into a majority share of the vote."

    Hasn't stopped Unionists forming minority UK governments again and again has it?

    Why should it stop Nationalists declaring independence for Scotland?

    It's always "you have to do everything with one hand tied behind your back" with Unionists isn't it?

    They say: "You want independence? You have to give up all the oil reserves."

    This goes on and on.

    Unionists cannot ever risk a fair contest because - as a Texas Good Ol' Boy would say: "they'd get a whuppin'."

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  • 116. At 8:13pm on 29 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 110 Neil_Small147

    'Declare UDI? I doubt it very much. There would be legal challenges from everywhere. Might sound nice, but this is not North America two hundred years ago.'

    1. See # 100
    2. I'm old enough to remember UDI in Rhodesia but definitely not old enough to remember America declaring it. Some people may disagree with that but I'm not speaking to them at the moment. Maybe olderthanthepyramids might be able to remember that. ;-)

    # 112 Fit Like?

    I agree with what you are saying but I would not reject the idea totally out of hand. It is a move that I would agree on only if all other legal processes have been thoroughly exhausted and the Westminster government stubbornly refused to let us go even after a legal referendum.

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  • 117. At 8:15pm on 29 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Here are Brian's previous blogs from the start of the expenses scandal accompanied by own thoughts.


    Away with the Honourable Member
    An insipid piece based around Westminsters use of the phrase 'honourable member'. The expenses scandal was just taking off and this was Brian's effort to address it.


    Fiona Hyslop
    "The pack has decided that Ms Hyslop is the weak point in Alex Salmond's team - and is moving in."
    Said Brian, in a piece that was simply partisan nonsense.

    Interspersed throughout are the 'witticisms', the purpose of which is to make it appear as if Taylor's piece is just a jolly wheeze.
    "She gets a zero, a lunchtime detention and a visit to the Headie."
    "Twas ever thus, I suppose."

    There were also thinly veiled jibes with references to conspiracies etc.



    Speaking with confidence
    Brian eventually addresses the expense scandal and specifically Michael Martin. The piece however is basically an attempt at defending Martin.

    The piece does however contain this line:
    "No, Sir Patrick Cormack, this is not like Neville Chamberlain. The issue here is snouts in the trough, not Europe on the verge."

    Hmm, the issue here is "snouts in the trough", was Brian about to address Labour's seemingly undying love affair with expenses.

    He also mentions that he is just back from Norway, he doesn't say anything else about the visit.


    Back to the future
    The tory conference sees Brian produce drivel.

    One line catches the eye:
    "They (The Tories) can detect the stench emanating from Westminster."

    We are still waiting for Brian to attempt to locate the source of this stench.


    Regaining order in the Commons
    Martin resigns and Brian tells us.
    "There are bigger issues here than Speaker Martin."
    OK, he's said it again .... when will he take the bull by the horns?

    He also informs us that:
    "This evening the prime minister said, following cross-party talks, that there would now be collective efforts to clean up politics at Westminster,
    including an end to the practice of MPs determining their own pay package.



    Party warms to virulent Scott
    Even worse than the blog on the Tory conference, Brian gives the second half of the blog over to football.

    No mention of these bigger issues, nor if any Scottish Labour MP's are 'engulfed' in the scandal.


    Letter from Texas
    Where in the name of goodness did this come from?

    Turns out that it is part of a documentary celebrating ten years of devolution.

    Why Texas? Well Brian has flown there in order to find any example of
    an 'area' or 'region' that is part of a larger entity.

    Brian seems to have a new found desire to express himself as he suddenly gets the urge to explain how Texas chooses freely to be part of the USA.

    Brian tells us:
    "Norway offered our example of the latter: a nation which took the independence route after being governed, to varying degrees, from Denmark and then Sweden.

    I have alluded to that already on these pages.


    Eh? This is what Brian told us of the Norway visit.
    "Just back from Norway where they have been rejoicing in their
    National Day and their Eurovision victory in roughly equal measure."


    That was it, an apparent reluctance to say anything at all.
    Contrast this with Brian's report on Texas:

    "Texas provided the alternative scenario. Herewith a quotation: "Texas is a state of mind.
    Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word."

    That's John Steinbeck, writing in Travels with Charley, Charley being his large, enthusiastic dog.

    But the nation that is Texas has chosen since 1845 to share sovereignty with the United States of America.

    Everyone I met stressed, ever so politely, the element of choice.

    'Deliberate tease'

    Texas was not subservient. Texas was not subsumed. Texas could choose to secede from the US. Texas chooses not to do so.

    Texans cheerfully confess that their assertion of a distinct identity frequently exasperates their fellow US citizens from less fiercely defined states.

    It is, they insist, part of their charm - and, frequently, a deliberate tease."


    Pretty free with the words when it came to Texas.
    We're still waiting for him to address the stench emanating from Westminster.


    Favouring reform
    Hmm, a piece that basically highlights the different approaches to reform that Cameron and Brown favour.

    Brian seems to have missed the bit in between, the part where the media take the transgressors to task. We have the revelations of inappropriate expenses that has resulted in a stench amanating from Westminster then Brian jumps straight to the reform.

    The bit where the Scottish journalists actually pursue those Scottish MP's who have transgressed, Darling, Devine, Connarty and the biggest and still the best Marshall - is missing.


    Bird's-eye view of jail break
    And here we are ... a full scale campaign against an SNP minister.
    A minister who has cut absconds by 80% and implemented changes to address weaknesses left by the last administration.

    The stench isn't just coming from Westminster.

    Perhaps someone's nose is, as my mother used to say, too near their own backside !!

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  • 118. At 8:44pm on 29 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    BigH - prove declaring UDI would be legal under UK and European law.

    There is no way Salmond would even consider UDI. It would probably split the SNP for starters, and if declared illegal would crucify the SNP leadership. Remove Salmond, Sturgeon and to a lesser extent Swinney, the SNP would be hard pushed to maintain its current popularity.

    Salmond is careful. He is not going to waste years of a careful work and effort by carrying out an action that would certainly cause a consititional crisis.

    Likewise, prove that the recent absconding prisoner was "fixed", as you were hinting at earlier. And one small point. If Labour DID know that the prisoner had escaped, then why did MacAskill not know? And if he did, why did he not announce it?

    Personally I think it is sheer coincidence, with unfortunate timing. But the conspiracy theories came out in force.





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  • 119. At 9:44pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #118 Neil_Small147

    "prove declaring UDI would be legal under UK and European law."

    Didn't you read my #114: "When will you people stop with the "opinions" backed up with nothing? When you do then you will have the right to demand evidence from others. Not before."

    So YOU prove declaring UDI would be illegal under UK and European law!

    Next!

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  • 120. At 9:51pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #118 Neil_Small147

    "If Labour DID know that the prisoner had escaped, then why did MacAskill not know? And if he did, why did he not announce it?"

    I already told you to READ stories before commenting. You're making yourself look like an idiot.

    MacAskill clearly said he knew but he didn't announce it because the POLICE decide when to announce a prisoner's escaped - not the justice secretary.

    Try actually listening to what the guy says before condemning him out of hand. You're totally ignoring the facts and making yourself look like an ignoramus. That's what the word means.

    And like I said yesterday, what you believe doesn't matter to me because your gullibility apparently knows no bounds.

    Finally, get off your high horse wuth the demands for proof. You have no right to demand anything until you start providing some hard evidence to back up your "opinions".

    Next!

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  • 121. At 10:03pm on 29 May 2009, Tom wrote:

    Your becoming a disappointment, Bighullabaloo. First of all, have you considered the negative aspects of what you are stating? The SNP may declare independence depending on seat numbers... I thought you believed in the SNP and independence? If you were, then why are you potentially putting individuals off by claiming this type of nonesense?

    The SNP are not about independence. The SNP would like to offer the people of Scotland a choice, and I know nothing else about declaring independence without the backing of the public.

    You are misrepresenting the position of the Scottish National Party. I do not want to put voters off because even I know that people vote for the SNP because they do strongly protect our interests.

    You have to buck up your idea. If you want independence, you want a strong SNP with much support, but we can not do that by pushing away individuals especailly when many are still undecided.

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  • 122. At 10:09pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #121 Thomas_Porter

    As if I care that you feel disappointed!

    "The SNP are not about independence." Daftest thing you've ever said.

    Obviously it's YOU who has to buck up your ideas.

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  • 123. At 10:15pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #117 greenockboy


    And don't forget Brian's own little "glitch"!

    Five minutes after publishing an article about why Martin shouldn't resign Martin stood up and said: "I resign".

    Embarrassing in the extreme for someone who'd just claimed to be "keeping up to date with events at the Palace of Westminster."

    As I said at the time, maybe his pigeon collapsed from exhaustion somewhere over Carter Bar?

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  • 124. At 10:38pm on 29 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    BigH

    As Thomas has stated, you are causing the SNP more problems with your attitude.

    MacAskill's excuse that the police tell us when a prisoner escapes is weak, as I can say with certainty you would have criticised a Labour or Tory Justice Minister in similar circumstances.

    Other SNP supporters with strong views at least put forward cohesive arguments. They do not resort to childish name calling or slagging off even those who support the SNP cause.

    My view remains unchanged: Kenny MacAskill is politically responsible for what has happened. However, that does not mean he should resign, far from it. He is trying to make progress but using arguments that there have been "less escapes" than under previous administrations is weak, considering one of these latest escapes resulted in a rape.

    There is no conspiracy theory of unionists to get prisoners walking out. The simple fact is that another one escaped with bad timing and the media understandably pounced.



    UDI is an absolute non-starter. I do not need to provide proof, simply because it will not happen.

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  • 125. At 10:42pm on 29 May 2009, Tom wrote:

    Bighullabaloo.

    The SNP are for independence, but are not about independence. The SNP have far more to offer Scotland and the public then independence.

    Thankfully you do represent the Scottish National Party, and I would stress to those reading these comments that the SNP are committed to holding a referendum that will allow you to show your support for the union or independence. There are also no plans whatsoever to claim independence through the back door!

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  • 126. At 10:56pm on 29 May 2009, Tom wrote:

    Neil_Small147:

    Kenny MacAskill is politically responsible. I also agree that MacAskill should not resign as the matters are out of his control.

    However the entire system is out of control. The prisons are overcrowded, the amount going to prison is rising and we are playing catch up with no end in sight!

    The situation calls for radical reform, and whilst many may disagree about bringing back capital punishment, at least with capital punishment those dangerous criminals that escaped would never have had the chance to escape.

    It's ashame the Scottish Parliament has no say on capital punishment. I would have expected that since we control the prisons etc that we should also be allowed to consider how extreme the sentencing should be too.

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  • 127. At 10:58pm on 29 May 2009, Aikenheed wrote:

    Re Mcaskill call to resign - when MPs announce ther are resigning surely that means with 30 days notice NOT when they have troughed another x months salary , expenses, pension etc -are we going to bicker amongst ourselves and let them schmooth off with squiddillions??

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  • 128. At 11:19pm on 29 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Comment 127:

    Only Martin has resigned and that was because of his special role as speaker, convention demanded it.

    Those MP's we are hearing about are not resigning, they are simply not standing again. One little fact that no-one has mentioned is that that there is a 30,000 bonus paid to any MP who sees out a term.

    In other words, if they resign then they lose 30 grand !!

    On the most recent non return of a prisoner, I wait with interest to find out the facts of this story. A man who is being prepared for release after over 30 years behind bars fails to return to his prison on time is indeed a curious one.

    Isn't it strange how a prisoner who is being readied for release going AWOL creates more headlines than a Register of voters going AWOL?

    One last point, this blog is not, as some would have it, a place of civilised debate. It is a place where passions and of course partisanship reign.

    Bighullabaloo needs no backing from me, and our styles certainly differ. However the underlying theme of his posts is sound, the BBC cannot be trusted to inform and educate and the Scottish press are even worse.

    It makes my blood boil that I am helping to fund the lucrative contracts of so called political commentators, many of whom have never sought to uncover corruption nor delved into the darker recesses of the party who have governed Scotland for over fifty years. To do so would have killed their 'careers' with our state broadcaster stone dead.

    We know it, they know it .... and they know that we know.

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  • 129. At 11:32pm on 29 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Gordon Brown in The Herald in an uncomfortable piece that focusses on the death of his daughter.

    Brown talks candidly about his 'most terrible moment'

    I am not at all happy with politicians doing this sort of thing. Better to have left this as a private matter, at least until after he steps down, it leads one to question Brown's moral compass.

    Before the mods decide to remove the comment, I would remind you that Brown has deliberately put this in the public domain, probably in an attempt at cultivating some sympathy.

    My comment is about this decision and NOT the passing of his daughter.

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  • 130. At 11:38pm on 29 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Further to my comment 129, about Brown's attempt at using a family tragedy in order to elicit sympathy. The Scotsman had a similar sympathy piece on Iain Gray where agent 007(percent) admitted to crying when Susan Boyle sang.

    Iain was obviously thinking of the saying that it isn't over until the fat lady sings (apologies to Susan), well Iain knows that it's over now !!

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  • 131. At 11:51pm on 29 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    130. At 11:38pm on 29 May 2009, greenockboy:

    I think perhaps he is trying to show that he is "connected" with the people. Strange considering how many people have never heard of him!

    I hate it when politicans jump onto "who's popular at the moment" bandwagon in the hope that they might get some votes.

    ------------

    128. At 11:19pm on 29 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:
    Comment 127:

    Only Martin has resigned and that was because of his special role as speaker, convention demanded it.

    Those MP's we are hearing about are not resigning, they are simply not standing again. One little fact that no-one has mentioned is that that there is a 30,000 bonus paid to any MP who sees out a term.



    Some of them get paid more. 25 years services gets a bonus of around 65k to "ease" their return to "normal" life. 16 years will get you 30k.
    Sorry to raise the blood pressure even more!


    126. At 10:56pm on 29 May 2009, Thomas_Porter:

    The prisons really are soft. I know someone who has been working there for a few years. They are dangerous places for prisoners and staff alike, and always will be. But one case an inmate smashed his tv as he did not like the result of a football match. The tv was replaced immediately as "it is less hassle".

    Run prisons on military prison lines. You will never rehabilitate everyone, but it might stop a few reoffenders. Open prison should be used as a stepping stone towards the end of a long sentence. It should not be used as a convenient solution to overcrowding.

    The liberal brigade have had their chance. Prison is for reform, education and security. It should not be easy.

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  • 132. At 00:34am on 30 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #124 Neil_Small147

    "MacAskill's excuse that the police tell us when a prisoner escapes is weak"

    It's not an excuse. The police decide the best time to release details of an escapee not politicians.

    The reason for that is painfully obvious to all except gullible idiots with a political axe to grind against the SNP.

    A politician can't reveal the name of an escaped prisoner to the public because the police don't reveal the name to anyone - including politicians - until they're sure it won't hinder efforts to recapture the escapee.

    You STILL haven't bothered to read the facts of this story which is now unforgiveable.

    MacAskill explains it very clearly on this website. Listen to it!

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  • 133. At 00:39am on 30 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #125 Thomas_Porter

    "The SNP are for independence, but are not about independence."

    Thank you for explaining that. I still have no idea what difference there is between being "for independence" and being "about indpendence".

    I'm sure no one else reading it does either. That will remain the case until you muster up all your highly-developed communication skills and explain what you mean.

    "Thankfully you do represent the Scottish National Party"

    Yes, thankfully I do, and thank god you don't!

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  • 134. At 01:02am on 30 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #128 greenockboy

    "One last point, this blog is not, as some would have it, a place of civilised debate. It is a place where passions and of course partisanship reign. Bighullabaloo needs no backing from me, and our styles certainly differ. However the underlying theme of his posts is sound, the BBC cannot be trusted to inform and educate and the Scottish press are even worse."

    May I congratulate you on your genuine wisdom.

    If I were to listen to all the holier-than-thou, sanctimonious, would-be blog police and armchair Ghandis on this website the whole thing would be so tediously lacking in passion the word "asinine" wouldn't begin to cover it. (Pause to allow various ill-educated cretins to go and look up their dictionaries before reading on).

    The BBC Scotland insists on ignoring the genuinely controversial political topics of the day in favour of drumming up fabricated anti-SNP smear stories, so there really isn't much of interest in the articles to comment on.

    This blog would be completely dull without a few PARTISAN BRUISERS FROM BOTH SIDES to stir the blood. Thank god someone sees the value of having such people around. If this blog consisted entirely of "polite, reasoned debate" as some people here try to insist, I'd have lost interest years ago.

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  • 135. At 01:44am on 30 May 2009, oldnat wrote:

    At the risk of suffering BigH's wrath by simply providing some information. A YouGov poll on European Election voting intentions demonstrates again (if any demonstration is actually needed) of the yawning chasm between "UK" and Scottish political structures.

    As ever, note that the Scottish data is not structured for Scottish socio-economic patterns, or to provide data on comparative strengths within Scotland of the UK parties. The Unionist parties may have strengths/weaknesses different from what these figures suggest. The SNP figure is, however, statistically reliable.

    Party, UK, Scotland
    Con, 28%, 14%
    Lab, 22%, 28%
    L_D, 17%, 13%
    UKIP, 15%, 4%
    Green, 7%, 4%
    BNP, 5%, 2%
    SNP/PC, 4%, 32%

    No matter how the Unionists seek to drive us into voting along UK lines. these damn Scots stubbornly refuse to comply, and insist on deciding for themselves!

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  • 136. At 02:02am on 30 May 2009, Tom wrote:

    bighullabaloo:

    It's not my fault that I am writing to someone who clearly struggles to exapnd another persons comment. The SNP are for independence, they want it but they have more to offer Scotland and the public, and are not a party with one objective!

    I do apologise for my earlier mistake. I certainly never meant to suggest that you are the face of the SNP! I would be shocked if the group allowed you to go door-to-door. I would even be suprised if you were allowed to deliver leaflets because even then I suspect you to be a liability with that attitude.

    There is also a difference between stirring trouble in hope of reactions and spreading down right lies, even more so you have the cheek to ask for evidence against it!

    You may be a member of the group, but you are certainly not a spokesperson and certainly not the person who decides policy. The SNP have never spoken about declaring independence without the backing of the people, and I would not expect a so-called supporter of SNP and independence to spout lies and misinformation that it may be a possibility.

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  • 137. At 02:12am on 30 May 2009, U11769947 wrote:

    #136
    Thomas, he may be a plant? now who normally says that?.

    Four what is worth Thomas, Alex Salmond clearly did state that he wanted to win peoples hearts and minds before he pursued an Independence referendum.

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  • 138. At 02:14am on 30 May 2009, ScotInNotts wrote:

    #135 oldnat

    "No matter how the Unionists seek to drive us into voting along UK lines. these damn Scots stubbornly refuse to comply, and insist on deciding for themselves!"

    Now you should know better than that oldnat, we were told to stay quiet and be grateful, after all they only worry about us and how we wouldn't be able to cope on our own.

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  • 139. At 02:21am on 30 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #136 Thomas_Porter

    "I certainly never meant to suggest that you are the face of the SNP!"

    Oh but we all know you did! You wrote: "Thankfully you do represent the Scottish National Party." (#125)

    Yet you have the cheek to suggest that I'M "someone who struggles"?!!

    "You may be a member of the group, but you are certainly not a spokesperson and certainly not the person who decides policy."

    For all you know, I could be Alex Salmond himself!

    Until you come up with a little hard evidence for your "opinions" keep your accusations of "lies and misinformation" to yourself.

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  • 140. At 02:22am on 30 May 2009, ScotInNotts wrote:

    #134 BigH

    whilst I'm all for you entertaining yourself, do you not see the point others have been trying to get across to you for a while that whilst you are passionate and in many instances make valid points, some of your comments do nothing but damage the very cause you're so fervent about?

    By all means talk about issues not discussed in the media or here on the BBC, just as greenockboy and many others do, however would you also consider the implications of your comments when your held up by supporters of the union as a typical 'nat' supporter in order to discredit all and sundry.

    No high horse in sight, just a thought.

    I look forward to your next encounter with RE.

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  • 141. At 02:25am on 30 May 2009, ScotInNotts wrote:

    #137 DB

    was that not Bush and the Iraq war, or is that the same thing to a unionist? ;)

    Mind you if that was the aim is BigH suceeding, has he captured yours?

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  • 142. At 08:53am on 30 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Follow up articles are now appearing in ALL Scottish media outlets on the MacAskill smear story. Note that no such follow ups have appeared over Scottish Labour MP's caught up in the expenses scandal.

    The follow up articles are co-ordinated and in many cases unattributed. They will focus on 'non news' and try to present it as though it is somehow newsworthy.

    The latest propaganda revolves around the fact that the prisoner who failed to return was granted home leave by MacAskill. This is normal practice for prisoners of this nature, remember that the guy is being prepared for freedom.

    The 'sign off' tactic is also being presented this time for this prisoners actual transfer. In short, procedures and signoffs are being presented in unattributed articles as being not proper.

    The last piece in the jigsaw is the woding of the headlines: 'Under pressure', 'Refuses to resign' etc. These are the signs of a concerted campaign along the lines of the shocking Trump ttempt.

    Of course the other piece of misinformation being pushed is the fact that the scottish government did not reveal the non return of this other prisoner - again a following of procedure.

    I repeat, we see no such follow ups on the Labour expenses scandal, nor on any of the previous 'inaccurate' statements from the now invisible Jim Murphy.

    This is a clearly co-ordinated media campaign - no doubt.

    We live in an insidious and politically controlled media environment in Scotland.

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  • 143. At 09:20am on 30 May 2009, BoNG0_1 wrote:

    Thats true, where is Jim Murphy by the way?

    ...I think he might be away back to Snake Mountain! *;o)

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  • 144. At 09:27am on 30 May 2009, bluelaw wrote:

    Well done greenockboy. Your deconstructions of the Scottish media's behaviour are most welcome and very informative. We know what they are but it's great you documenting it for us all the same.

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  • 145. At 10:48am on 30 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    A three pronged 'Save Labour' attack currently underway in the Scottish media.

    The first we already know about, MacAskill.

    The second is 'sympathy stories'
    The Daily Record are also running the 'sympathy story' on Brown:

    'Gordon Brown's tears as he remembers death of baby daughter'

    The last is now an attack on Holyrood where the news that officially laid wreaths, paid for by Holyrood, is being used in an attampt at suggesting Holyrood is as bad as Westminster. The party featuring most prominently in the stories is the SNP.

    So, stories invovling senior Scottish Labour politicians where the evidence is laid on a plate for them are systematically ignored whilst the Scottish media are now actively searching for stories that can be used in order to sully their own parliament.

    Talking about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

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  • 146. At 10:48am on 30 May 2009, oldnat wrote:

    You may want to check your views on European issues here

    http://www.euprofiler.eu/

    Also allows you to see which party in other EU countries most nearly matches your views.

    I end up in the SNP, Green, Lib-Dem area of the chart (as I would have guessed).

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  • 147. At 11:11am on 30 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 146 oldnat

    Seeing as I'm not in Scotland it looks as if I am going to vote for lib dems and closely followed by labour. Oh no! Somebody save me.
    I'll try it again as if I was living in Scotland.

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  • 148. At 11:13am on 30 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 146 oldnat

    Lib Dems again closely followed by SNP. :-(

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  • 149. At 11:37am on 30 May 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #146 oldnat
    Oh dear, I should have retired to Croatia!

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  • 150. At 11:49am on 30 May 2009, handclapping wrote:

    Brian
    Timing is everything in journalism also so it is "unfortunate" that you should be prevented from blogging on the reduction in the Scottish budget. At least the BBC has managed to make this the lead on it's Scottish politics page, however it gives no indications of what might be necessary to implement such cuts. This is the sort of subject that would benefit from the "dispassionate" analysis accorded to your blogs by my fellow posters, rather than the rabble rousing "I lost more prisoners than you. Did. Didn't. Yah, Boo!" from the floor of our pretendy wee.

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  • 151. At 12:32pm on 30 May 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    #134 bighullabaloo and others

    Is it too late to enter the turbulent waters of the UDI debate?

    My personal response to the idea of a UDI is that, while unaware of any realistic possibility that anything of this nature might occur in Scotland, the suggestion raises questions which deserve to be examined, whether passionately or calmly, according to taste.

    The problem concerning democratic legitimacy immediately springs to mind, of course. A majority of SNP MPs among the 59 sent to the UK parliament might or might not represent a popular mandate for independence. There would be, of course, no way of telling whether it did or not unless a referendum on independence was held. But anglo-unionist parties are opposed to a referendum. Were they to remain so, it is arguable that an SNP parliamentary majority of this type could be sufficient to justify taking action which might be authorized by a popular majority in a referendum were one not being blocked by the state from which secession is sought.

    A threat to declare independence unilaterally could justifiably be considered, therefore, to be a legitimate tactic to be deployed for the purpose of ensuring that an independence referendum is held even though the anglo-unionist parties have so far indicated that they are disinclined to respect the democratic right of the people of Scotland to vote on independence in a referendum.

    Anglo-unionists cannot have it both ways. Either they stop blocking a referendum or they face potential consequences of frustrating the will of the people, who apparently wish there to be an independence referendum. If such a referendum continues to be blocked, who is to say that the people would not support a unilateral declaration of independence? I don't know whether they would or not, and neither does anyone else.

    So the following question arises from consideration of the UDI proposition. When democratic choice is denied by the state, is the state still to be regarded as democratic? If not, are those who have suffered from the state's denial of democratic choice bound to accept that? In such circumstances, simply seizing that which one has been denied undemocratically could be argued to be an assertion of the democratic principle rather than a rejection of it.

    Be that as it may, even the UK state, foolish and feeble though it is currently showing itself to be, will surely not be so unwise as to deny Scotland an independence referendum if a majority of the Scottish Westminster seats are won by the Scottish National Party. Oh, I don't know, though. Anything is possible, which is why anything and everything should be discussed, whether passionately or otherwise.

    In public debate it is worth throwing a stone into the water to make a splash from time to time even though those who get splashed may not approve.

    As for the jail break, "Oh, dearie, dearie, me." The difference between operational responsibility and ministerial responsibility and the importance of not confusing the two may be lost upon the opposition, although I doubt it. A cynical and unsuccessful opposition stooping to seeking to confuse the electorate over the distinctions to be drawn in consideration of such matters is hardly new and hardly surprising.

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  • 152. At 12:58pm on 30 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    # 146 oldnat

    Green here

    I see the cockroach from the torygraph is going down the same line as pravada and the Gray man Alex Salmond owes the Scottish Parliament an apology whether he misled it or not what a sad lot.

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  • 153. At 1:10pm on 30 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Another pundit favoured by the BBC has added her own weight behind the current campaign. However, in a predictable twist Lorraine Davidson in The Times accuses Alex Salmond of misleading parliament, Alan Cochrane has also penned similar tosh.

    Anyone want to guess how many articles and follow ups this particular episode has spwaned?

    By my estimate we are rapidly approaching fifty, yes FIFTY articles based around a prisoner absconding from an open jail. Well, not quite - you see the original story has been lost. It wasn't the prisoner absconding that caused the ire of our unionist establishment friends, it was the fact that a prisoner was sent to an open prison when he shouldn't have been.

    Why the subtle change by our media you ask? Well, MacAskill had already put measures in place to ensure this didn't happen after a previous inmate escaped due to inept measures left by Labour.

    That is now a non story and has been addressed. What we will see now is the Scottish media doing EXACTLY as they did with the Trump non story.

    They will go through anything and everything that the Scottish government has said in an attempt at finding a procedural weakness that they can perhaps misinterpret and exploit.

    This has been the Labour and indeed the Unionist tactics from day one. It is not about governance or policies, it isn't about positive argument or alternatives it is simply been about trying to undermine governance through a continual stream of accusations about procedure or guidelines.

    Labour believe that the removal of ministers through media conducted witchhunts and contrived campaigns will persuade voters to return to them.

    I hope that they are mistaken. I also hope that we will find one journalist who is prepared to take a stand against the misuse and abuse of the privileges our media currently enjoy.

    I have hopes for Robbie Dinwoodie at The Herald, Hutcheon at The Sunday Herald is also one who seems to tend towards exposing scandals - regardless of party.

    The only thing that the BBC provide is this blog.

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  • 154. At 1:22pm on 30 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    francly-francophone wrote:
    "A cynical and unsuccessful opposition stooping to seeking to confuse the electorate over the distinctions to be drawn in consideration of such matters is hardly new and hardly surprising."

    That is where a responsible and informed media enter the fray. The abscond should have been reported and was. However when Labour started to scream 'resign' then the media should simply have looked at the facts.

    If the call has any merit then the media follow up on it and put pressure on the minister. If however the calls have no merit then the media report the facts and, if Labour persist with these politically sectarian rants, then they become the target of the pressure.

    The media are the judges that allow democratic debate to flow in a reasonable and civilised manner. When one side in the debate is systematically misrepresented and denied access to 'justice' by these 'judges' then anger builds up.

    I have written before that the polarisation of the independence / Union arguments mean that the debate needs to be responsible. The kind of reporting we are seeing now from both the BBC and the Scottish press is simply stoking up resentment.

    To paraphrase Al Gore, this is an assault on reason and democracy itself. The Scottish people are being misinformed and basically fed propaganda, all in an attempt at defending a party and a political structure.

    It is unhealthy to say the least .... and potentially very, very dangerous.

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  • 155. At 1:37pm on 30 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Are we absolutely sure that Gordon Brown is still alive?

    "Indeed, in foreign tin-pot dictatorships it is a familiar pattern: dictator retreats to bunker, refuses to be seen in public, rumours circulate and aides eventually have to produce some footage purported to show the father of the nation in good spirits."

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  • 156. At 2:16pm on 30 May 2009, Anaxim wrote:

    Greenockboy #154

    It is unhealthy to say the least .... and potentially very, very dangerous.

    How's it dangerous? More dangerous than eliminating free speech, which is what you appear to want? Remember, *all* political parties think the media is biased against them.

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  • 157. At 2:46pm on 30 May 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    #154 greenockboy

    Seizing with alacrity upon the word 'dangerous' with which you conclude your post, I cannot help agreeing that this perceived media problem is indeed an element in the political and economic reality which is taking shape, a political reality which, at a UK level as well as a Scottish one, is increasingly appearing to be what Professor Badiou of the Ecole Normale Superieure is referrring to as 'un moment charniere' in history, a decisive moment which marks the end of an era and will determine the character of the next one.

    At such a time it might be as well for a charismatic independentist to take the bull by the horns and grab the media's attention by declaring in an appropriate public forum upon an appropriate occasion, with or without biblical overtones or undertones, something roughly along the following lines.

    That which was prophesied is occurring. The UK state is going bankrupt in every area of public life. If it were not for the Scottish National Party, there would be no hope left for Scotland. The SNP is, however, misrepresented on a daily basis. The leaders and ordinary members of the party are vilified, and their aspirations for their country are traduced . . . but the movement is still relentlessly maintaining its exhilarating ascent. Guided by free men and women and new ideas, the Scottish nation will again start making history.

    When the national re-awakening reaches its highest point, the independence movement will be unstoppable. It is already transforming the nature of politics, having been responsible for applying the political pressure that led to the creation of the Scottish Parliament, against whose high standards of probity, integrity and democratic accountability the corrupt, enfeebled and antiquated UK parliament has been judged and found to be inferior and unworthy of us. The independence movement is engaged in the historic task of reforming the Scottish polity from top to bottom. Its leader, First Minister Salmond, is leading this movement so ably that anglo-unionism is being driven to extremes of obstructive and destructive manoeuvring in the legislature. Fortunately, the next Scottish general election may relieve the gravity of the situation by producing an SNP parliamentary majority.

    The era in which we are living is of historic importance. We are steadily advancing through an upheaval of incalculable proportions in the UK. The Scottish independence movement will guide Scotland through this safely and win the day. The results of this victory will heal Scottish society and open the door to progress and prosperity. Then the people will have work, livelihood and the self-respect that they deserve.

    Here we are faced with one of the greatest economic problems that the world has ever had to solve, namely how to re-instate in the process of production the excessive numbers of people who have lost their jobs in factories, shops and offices. To that end the total resources of Scotland need to be harnessed and controlled by and for the benefit of the people of Scotland so that we take responsibility for the recovery and optimal development of our economy. This can only be done with independence, as the economic and fiscal powers required for the purpose of achieving these aims will not otherwise be available to us.

    As I say, were a charismatic independentist to mount the rostrum of political declamation to utter anything such as the foregoing, the distractions of dishonest, pettifogging party-political sniping such as we see in the rumpus over the jail-break, should easily be swept aside, because a good story is irresistible. To set about composing a narrative for the political and economic era which we are entering is to tell a good story, and so the SNP would be well advised to take command of the media's agenda by telling it.

    Of course there are vested interests which regard the SNP as a threat and which may be expected to utilize all the resources at their disposal to oppose it. What else would one expect? Nevertheless, complaining about the media is evidently liable to be misconstrued by those who wish to misconstrue and thus prove to be of questionable value.

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  • 158. At 3:09pm on 30 May 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    #157

    CORRECTION

    While Alain Badiou is very much associated with the ENS, he is currently with the European Graduate School in Switzerland.

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  • 159. At 3:09pm on 30 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Comment 156 Anaxim asks a reasonable enough question:

    Why is the situation within the Scottish media dangerous?

    The reason it is dangerous is due to the unique situation in Scotland where the party of government have no newspaper who openly support them.

    This means that balance, necessary in any democracy is not there. We see partisan reporting and sustained campaigns based, not on what might be best for Scotland, but rather what might be least harmfull to the Union/Labour.

    Huge swathes of political opinion is not just ignored by the media, but actively and deliberately misrepresented. This leads to the frustration that we witness on this and the other public comment forum, The Scotsman.

    The BBC are supposed to serve the electorate from a position of neutrality, they are supposed to educate and inform. This means ensuring that a firewall against politicking by parties is in place.

    The evidence from this story is clear cut, MacAskill made improvements after a similar episode from an open prison - an episode that resulted in a young woman's rape. The procedures that led to this earlier episode were put in place by Labour when they formed the previous administration.

    The reduction in abscondments has been massive, truly massive - 80%. This prisoner, had MacAaskill's procedure been followed, would not have been in an open prison.

    So, the BBC were correct to report the abscondment and the subsequent statement from MacAskill. However it is at this point that the BBC abdicate their responsibility and simply begin to headline smears and rants from Labour.

    This is not an isolated incident from the BBC, and coupled with the predictably partisan reporting from the press leads to a situation where people become frustrated.

    Indeed, as I sugegsted earlier, the campaign to divert attention from Westminster is ongoing. The BBC have now picked up on the wreaths non story and have decided to give it a prominence that it does not deserve.

    There is, at the moment, no vehicle (save for online blogs) that will articulate the actual facts of this episode and the rebuttals of Labour's smear campaign.

    In a democracy, such a situation is unhealthy.

    You cannot be allowed to ignore behaviour far, far worse than anything being alleged of MacAskill simply because it might undermine the Union, whilst conducting a campaign against a minister who has done nothing wrong (try it, what has MacAskill done wrong?).

    Democracy is NOT being served, misinformation is being circulated - that is dangerous.

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  • 160. At 3:13pm on 30 May 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    What chance that Thursday's election will see one of the leading four Scottish parties denied even a single MEP?

    Yes, LibDems, I mean you.

    Prediction:
    SNP - 3 MEPs
    Labour - 2
    Conservative - 1

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  • 161. At 3:49pm on 30 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    Oldnat, took the EU analysis, I've come out halfway below centre of EU integration and vry slightly to the right!

    But probably because I am very wary of the power of the EU parliament and Turkey being allowed in.

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  • 162. At 3:51pm on 30 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    159. At 3:09pm on 30 May 2009, greenockboy

    Have you noticed the current marketing campaign by the Sun? Free underground tickets (in Glasgow), sellers on every street corner there ALL day.

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  • 163. At 4:07pm on 30 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Comment 157:

    This is the sort of stuff that a serious political commentator should be writing.

    Perhaps you are one, perhaps you are Brian Taylor .... then again, perhaps not.

    I do wonder at times how much Mr Taylor is paid, for I cannot quite fathom what he actually does, save for an infrequent appearence on TV or radio.

    He has of course travelled at our expense to far flung places, though I would have been happy if he'd just stayed in Scotland.

    The Alamo may have provided some inspiration for him, it's kind of an apt comparison for the Union.

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  • 164. At 5:38pm on 30 May 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #163 greenockboy
    Brave men died at the Alamo. Can you imagine someone's moral compass allowing such a waste of a Global saving talent in defence of the Union for such little purpose? A hat and a knife have been done, how about a name for a speciality grin/grimace?

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  • 165. At 5:41pm on 30 May 2009, Anaxim wrote:

    #159

    That there is no nationalist newspaper says more about the nationalists than anything else. If you really were unhappy with the situation, you'd put your money where your mouth is and pull out all the stops to produce or buy one.

    You make it sound so urgent, after all. Labour's smears going unchallenged!

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  • 166. At 5:49pm on 30 May 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #165 Anaxim
    What money? There seem to be about 15,000 Nats and they didn't even manage to raise £1 million to fight the 2007 election that took them to Government. Labour gets £1,000,000 from the Harry Potter writer alone. Start a paper, you must think them daft.

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  • 167. At 5:58pm on 30 May 2009, snowthistle wrote:

    greenockboy
    I thought the photograph of the First Minister above the story of the wreaths along with a very small caption saying that he was not one of those who claimed was particularly disingenuous. Why put his photo there if he had nothing to do with it.

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  • 168. At 6:16pm on 30 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #167 snowthistle

    Here's an even more interesting question: why REMOVE Salmond's photo from the story altogether and replace it with a "remebrance Day poppies" stock photograph if there was nothing wrong with using Salmond's photograph above the story in the first place?

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  • 169. At 6:22pm on 30 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    167. At 5:58pm on 30 May 2009, snowthistle wrote:
    greenockboy
    I thought the photograph of the First Minister above the story of the wreaths along with a very small caption saying that he was not one of those who claimed was particularly disingenuous. Why put his photo there if he had nothing to do with it.

    --------------

    I agree with your comment snowthistle. I don't care what parties the 15 MSPs came from. They should all hang their heads in shame and all should make an individual public statement as to why they felt it necessary to claim money back.

    Claiming money paid to a charity? Disgraceful doesn't come close.

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  • 170. At 6:27pm on 30 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #167 snowthistle

    It's little moments like when the BBC puts up a photograph of Salmond then decides to remove it (hoping no one noticed) that inadvertently reveals the anti-SNP mindset you so accurately describe.

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  • 171. At 7:59pm on 30 May 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #170 bighullabaloo
    It's the little moments like when the BBC puts up a story on, not MP's expenses, but MSP's expenses, just so the "nasty" news of the Scots Budget cuts gets moved off top slot, that reveal how the Westminster Government calls the shots at the BBC.

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  • 172. At 8:45pm on 30 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #171 handclapping

    I just think it's a sad day when we have a public service broadcaster that calls itself "Scottish" yet in reality acts like the propoganda wing of some sort of subversive foreign enemy of Scotland.

    Okay, I get the BBC is funded by the UK taxpayer and therefore have to tug a forelock to their UK government paymasters (currently Labour) but the SNP run the administration of the elected government of this country, whether the BBC likes it or not.

    With their constant subversive sniping at the SNP the BBC shows disrespect for the democratic system in Scotland - and that means they are also showing disrespect to the Scottish people.

    BBC in Scotland = Enemy of Scotland.

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  • 173. At 8:56pm on 30 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Talking of BBC edits, I will take this opportunity to remind readers of the web article when the Icelandic ambassador (I believe) attacked Jim Murphy over comments he had made.

    The headline proclaimed that 'Scotland' had infact been criticised and not Labour. Complaints to the BBC saw the article altered to 'UK' being attacked - still not Labour !!

    However, back on topic;, The earlier BBC 'prisoner non return' articles, published on Thu May 28 16:17:14, contained the following paragraph:

    "His disappearance occurred before the justice secretary
    described the case of another prisoner who went on the run
    last week as unacceptable."


    The BBC appeared to be suggesting that the justice secretary was aware of the second case when he made his statement to Holyrood. Remember that this now forms the central core of the Unionist new attack, that they weren't told.

    The disappearance was reported to the justice minister on the Wednesday at 17:00, the Justice minister had made his statement to Holyrood before 17:00 - i.e. he didn't know about the second case when he made the statement.

    The paragraph has since disappeared from the web article.

    Subsequently, Labour and their cheerleaders in the media, namely Lorraine Davidson and Alan Cochrane - both anti SNP and regular political pundits on BBC Scotland, have collectively accused Alex Salmond of misleading parliament.

    The evidence for this is apparently due to the Scottish government not announcing, during FMQ's, the non return of a prisoner. So, in short, Labour are suggesting that when they make accusations then formal procedure should be jettisoned.

    It's clear that Labour vanity is the reason for the latest accusations, they actually believe protocol should be suspended when they squeal.

    However, blinkered Scottish Unionists like Davidson and Cochrane, instead of offering an objective view and reminding Labour that Holyrood isn't designed to indulge their tantrums, simply apply more makeup to the Labour facade.

    Whatever happened to baby Jane indeed !!

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  • 174. At 9:05pm on 30 May 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #173 greenockboy
    Whatever happened to baby Jane indeed !! Now I know what the 88p bathplug was for. You live and learn.

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  • 175. At 9:53pm on 30 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Labour's Frank Cook claimed £5 for church collection

    There appears to be no level that nulab will stoop to fund their everyday lives at taxpayers expense.

    A general election in the near future is looking ever more likely before anarchy sets in.

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  • 176. At 10:10pm on 30 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    An ICM opinion poll for The Sunday Telegraph deals a devastating blow to Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister. For the first time in more than 20 years, Labour polled lower than the Liberal Democrats when electors were asked who they would vote for in a general election.

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  • 177. At 10:11pm on 30 May 2009, ubinworryinmasheep wrote:

    #175 "Three boxes of mints and two teddy bears bought from the gift shop at the House of Commons by Charles Kennedy, a former leader of the Liberal Democrats. " aw come on now thats ok ... id have been more bothered if it was three boxes of mints and 2 bottles of whiskey !!!

    Pink laptops and photo editing software to make one look pretty in photos.... jeez what are the tories like ?

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  • 178. At 10:38pm on 30 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    This wreath "scandal"reminds me of something that actually happened to me once in my place of work.

    A member of staff was leaving and, as her manager, I bought her a fabulous £30 bouquet of flowers out of my own pocket because the owners of the company were too stingy to do it.

    At her leaving party she burst into tears and said (and I quote): "These are the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen."

    At the board meeting the next day the managing director demanded of me who had "authorised" the expenditure for buying those flowers.

    I said: "No one authorised it, John. I paid for them out of my own pocket."

    On hearing this his face went purple and he said (and I quote): "Never let it be said this company is too cheap to buy flowers for their employees! We're going to reimburse you the cost of those flowers!"

    I accepted the refund.

    Now, my question is this: if MSPs need wreaths to carry out an official duty at which they are representing the Scottish parliament (and therefore the people of Scotland) are we too cheap to pay for the wreaths they send to Rememberance Services?

    There are some things I don't mind MSPs spending our money on. This happens to be one of them. I don't see why MSPs should have to pay out of their own pockets for something which is actually necessary to perform an official duty. If they didn't send wreaths people would be castigating them for being unpatriotic. Damned if you do and damned if you don't? That can't be right.

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  • 179. At 10:44pm on 30 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    If we released every petty thief from gaol it would make room for all these POLITICAL THIEVES and be far cheaper on the public purse then we could justify the BBC headlines if any of them escaped.

    #177 "two teddy bears" He was maybe trying to get one up on Boris!

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  • 180. At 11:04pm on 30 May 2009, ubinworryinmasheep wrote:

    #179 ""two teddy bears" He was maybe trying to get one up on Boris!"
    Im sure when Petronella said she wanted a sexy teddy, Boris must have gotten it wrong !!

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  • 181. At 11:05pm on 30 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Report on devolution and the governance of England

    ""Devolution has radically changed the way Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are governed and is changing the governance of the United Kingdom, but England, which has 84 per cent of the population, is the unfinished business of devolution - stuck in a pre-devolution time warp, while the rest of the UK has moved on. The funding formula is also a relic from earlier times, taking no account of the current need of the various nations and regions of the United Kingdom."

    It doesn't take a lot to sort this in fact the solution is staring them in the face but they have clamped on blinkers.

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  • 182. At 11:29pm on 30 May 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    #129

    This is the second time Gordon brown has put this intensely private personal tragedy into the public domain. He did exactly the same about 18 months ago and it is disgusting.

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  • 183. At 11:34pm on 30 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    178. At 10:38pm on 30 May 2009, bighullabaloo:

    Well, I agree with you on this one.

    But it still doesn't make it right. How much is an MSP paid? One wreath will not make a dent.

    But it's not as bad as Mr Cooke and his church donation.

    How can you possibly make an "oversight" with these type of claims?

    We'd getter get some of these people medical help. There is a lot of memory loss and lack of judgement flying about.

    -------------

    176. At 10:10pm on 30 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:
    An ICM opinion poll for The Sunday Telegraph deals a devastating blow to Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister. For the first time in more than 20 years, Labour polled lower than the Liberal Democrats when electors were asked who they would vote for in a general election.


    Oh no, anything but the Lib Dems........well, almost anything. Perhaps the teddy bears are an attempt to woo the voters, showing the Lib Dems are soft at heart.......

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  • 184. At 00:28am on 31 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Well, well ... The Sunday Herald have come trumps, as it were.

    OK, so the phrase 'under pressure' doesn't appear in the headlines but it doesn't matter. Here is a very real case of a Scottish Labour MP that simply begs to be pursued.

    I give you - Jim Devine:

    Click here

    Oh, dearie, dearie, me. This is getting to be a habit. !!

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  • 185. At 00:58am on 31 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    184. At 00:28am on 31 May 2009, greenockboy:

    Just read the link.

    Now, 200 feet of heavy duty shelving is out there somewhere. He wouldn;t possibly have a nice wooden floor at home would he? Heavy duty shelving tends to be high quality wood. Do nicely in place of a carpet.

    But I think I know where it might have gone. Some MP has a duckhouse and another has a moat, so obviously he will need a drawbridge to go with it. Keep the pesky media out.

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  • 186. At 01:17am on 31 May 2009, ubinworryinmasheep wrote:

    #185 Neil ..since the invoice was dodgy anyway he could have bought anything !! I havent seen anyone claiming for 'massage services' yet tho ;o)}

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  • 187. At 03:11am on 31 May 2009, ubinworryinmasheep wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 188. At 09:21am on 31 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 178 bighullabaloo

    'Now, my question is this: if MSPs need wreaths to carry out an official duty at which they are representing the Scottish parliament (and therefore the people of Scotland) are we too cheap to pay for the wreaths they send to Rememberance Services?'

    Spot on! The next question should be: 'Who pays for the wreaths that are laid at the cenotaph each year by the leaders of the political parties and the members of the royal family?'

    # 184 greenockboy

    Sunday Herald: 'Last week, this newspaper revealed how Devine clawed back GBP2157 from the taxpayer for rewiring his second home in London. However, the invoice supporting the work had an invalid VAT number on it as well as a bogus postcode and a false address.'

    If this was a complete rewire of his flat in London then there would have to be a ticket which is 'signed off' by the electrician. On this ticket would be a unique number belonging only to that electrician. It would, therefore, be very easy to find out who that electrician was. If the work was done by an electrician who was not qualified to test and inspect his own work then why is the House of Commons allowing payment for unqualified electrical work being done on this MP's flat? It become even more suspicious when you look at the price that was charged for a rewire of the MP's flat; GBP 2157. I wouldn't get out of bed for that price. There is no way that a London electrician could survive on that type of money to do a complete rewire of a flat in London! Something is not right here.

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  • 189. At 09:21am on 31 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    The line from the Unionists is now changing as they desperately seek to create some sort of scandal around MacAskill.

    The reason for resigning is apparently now the gap between the police informing the Scottish government that a prisoner didn't return from home leave and Holyrood being told.

    If this is the case then it basically means that the opposition are demanding that ahderence to protocol is now a resigning offence.

    That's what it basically amounts to, they complain about something and all protocols should then cease to exist.

    You simply cannot govern in this manner. Any political pundit worth his or her salt should be rounding on Labour and the rest for even suggesting this.

    MacAskill either didn't address the problem of inappropriate prisoners being moved to an open prison and the subsequent absconds or he did.

    The 80% improvement in the nunber of absconds suggests that he has indeed addressed it, with positive results.

    We wait for the demands for Devine and Darling to resign to make headlines in Scottish newspapers and the BBC in Scotland.

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  • 190. At 09:44am on 31 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    A PS to my # 188

    It would be very easy to check if the work was actually done. Any 17th edition fully qualified electrician, who has done his 'inspection and testing' would be able to tell immediately if it was rewired. There are many government backed bodies that can easily check this out for them. I'm also sure that if the police requested help from one of these bodies, in a suspected fraud investigation, that they could oblige them.

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  • 191. At 10:14am on 31 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Mohammed Sarwar claimed interest on mortgage paid from Swiss bank account

    "A multi-millionaire Labour backbencher claimed almost £100,000 to cover mortgage interest that he paid from an account with a Swiss bank."

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  • 192. At 10:20am on 31 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Electoral Fraud Alert

    "Postal balloting has already started. This has been thve vehicle for massive fraud in recent elections, after New Labour deliberately brought in a system wide open to vote harvesting amongst patriarchal immigrant communities where they have firm support. All parties have abused the system, but New Labour on a much vaster scale."

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  • 193. At 11:09am on 31 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Comment #188 and 190:

    Gedguy2 - Very good points.

    This is a story that isn't just crying out to be investigated but wouldn't take all that much effort or resources.

    Two claims from the same Labour politician and both appearing on the face of it to be dubiious to say the least. Remember that Devine was also involved with Michael Connarty, another Scottish Labour MP when Connarty sold his flat and it's contents (paid for by expenses) to Devine.

    Calls in England today by Clegg for Darling to resign over his well known but hardly mentioned (up here) repeated 'flipping' of his main residence address in order to maximise the amount of cash he could claim. There is also the use of taxpayers money in order to have an accountant look at his tax liabilities.

    I haven't heard what Glan Campbell will be covering on The Politics Show today, but I'm willing to bet that the two D's (Devine and Darling) won't be featured.

    I actually purchased a Sunday Herald today, the first time in around 18 months that I have bought a newspaper. Reasonable coverage of MacAskill with the exception of MacWhirter who, faced with no evidence with which to go after MacAskill has resorted to the using the same tactic as brian Taylor - present it as a kind of joke, thus attacking MacAskill but without addressing the actual facts.

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  • 194. At 11:24am on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #183 Neil_Small147

    "Well, I agree with you on this one. But it still doesn't make it right. How much is an MSP paid? One wreath will not make a dent."

    You appear to be a bit confused!

    I'm saying it IS right that the MSPs should not pay for the wreaths.

    So unless you agree with that you don't agree with me.

    Why on earth should MSPs pay for things that ARE necessary to peform an official duty on behalf of the public?

    I'm seeing the same inability to distinguish between fact and fiction on this that I see on many other topics discussed here.

    1. If an MSP sends a wreath on behalf of the public the public should pay for it.

    2. If an MSP sends a wreath on behalf of themselves the MSP should pay for it.

    What could be more simple?

    The MSPs in this fabricated "news story" are "guilty" only of doing what they are so often accused of NOT doing - representing US in a way we would want them to!

    As usual we are getting a highly selective presentation of the facts.

    The story says: "No Conservatives are thought to have claimed."

    "Thought to have claimed"?

    "Thought" by whom? A news reporter who was too lazy to ask them? Or a news reporter whose phone inexplicably stops working when they try to phone a Conservative MSP to ask an awkward question?

    Are we supposed to just assume Conservatives MSPs all have "common decency"?

    Er, no. Wait a minute. The Conservatives are "thought" not to have claimed for wreaths. But we aren't told if they actually sent any.

    If they did send wreaths did they pay for them out of their own pockets? If they didn't send wreaths isn't that an even worse "lack of common decency"?

    Sorry I'm not going to make judgements of ANYONE unless questions like that are being answered with verified facts.

    And I'm certainly not going to have some cretinous BBC journalist trying to make up my mind for me without such facts.

    I'm being invited to judge these MSPs as "lacking common decency" but what qualifies as "common decency" in this situation?

    Is an MSP only "decent" if they sent a wreath and paid for it themselves?

    Why should they pay out of their own pocket for a wreath that's being sent on behalf of the Scottish parliament?

    Sorry, Neil, that old gullibility factor raises it's head yet again and I ain't buying.

    Are we really supposed to be so stupid not to notice that most of the alleged "offenders" are members of the SNP?

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  • 195. At 11:40am on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #185 Neil_Small147

    "Now, 200 feet of heavy duty shelving is out there somewhere."

    If you think this "shelving" actually ever existed you don't know anything at all about how the building industry works!

    Let me try to make it clear for you: frauds only work because something doesn't exist. A deception. A trick where appearance differs from actual reality.

    For example: goods are ordered and paid for but never delivered; work is ordered but never "done"; assets that don't exist are made to look as if they do exist to establish trust that results in a payment, a loan, from a dupe. See how it works?

    So, Neil, I'm afraid the chances of this shelving "being out there somewhere" are slim to say the least. If, on the other hand, the shelving did once exist but disappeared, that wouldn't be fraud, that would be theft. Still a crime but not the same crime.

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  • 196. At 11:54am on 31 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    Another question needs to asked about the expenses scandal by the Labour MPs: Is this money that they are claiming for going into their own pockets (shame!) or being diverted to the Labour party, whether local or national? I mention the Labour Party only because the Conservatives don't need to have expenses diverted; they have enough money to back them. Anyway, we know what the Conservative MPs are like. Labour may not be in that position and will need a several million pounds war chest for the up coming General Election. I'm not accusing anybody of this, I'm just asking a question. It would be interesting to see the donations list of the Labour Party donors.

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  • 197. At 12:11pm on 31 May 2009, A_Scottish_Voice wrote:

    I am sure presbyterian Gordon will appreciate the irony of Labour's Frank Cooks expense claim of £5 for a church collection.

    You could not pay someone to make this stuff up.

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  • 198. At 12:17pm on 31 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    PS to my # 196

    I mentioned this because I remember some of the techniques used by the 'Militant' wing of the Labour party in the 70s and 80s until they were justly expelled from the labour party.
    One of the techniques was to fund work done from local authority grants, which they controlled, but the work was never done and this money was diverted to the 'Militant Wing'. Another technique was postal voting where they 'filled in' the forms for the voters to ensure that it was their 'Militant' members who took control of Labour Local Authorities. Strange, eh?

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  • 199. At 12:21pm on 31 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 194 bighullabaloo

    '1. If an MSP sends a wreath on behalf of the public the public should pay for it.
    2. If an MSP sends a wreath on behalf of themselves the MSP should pay for it.
    What could be more simple?'

    Spot on, again. This is getting to be a bad habit of yours. ;-)

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  • 200. At 12:24pm on 31 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Labour accused of dishonesty over leaflet charade

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  • 201. At 12:37pm on 31 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 200 cynicalHighlander

    Sunday Herald: 'A Scottish Labour spokesman said people had been asked to "sign up to" an agreed quote for the front of its leaflets, then given space for their own thoughts on the back.'

    OK, I can accept the point about the agreed quote, but surely it is misleading the public to have this same 'agreed quote' being contributed by different people from all over the country. In my book, this is misleading the public.

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  • 202. At 12:39pm on 31 May 2009, GrassyKnollington wrote:

    Imagine for just a second that Jim Devine represented the SNP.

    Today's Scottish papers would be in a kind of ecstatic meltdown.


    All their patient waiting for vile SNP scandals and they're rewarded with the stench of more Labour corruption.

    Paul Hutcheon and Robbie Dinwoodie must have a better sense of smell.


    Any predictions for when the rest will take off their clothespegs?




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  • 203. At 12:41pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #199 gedguy2

    I'm just having a little difficulty understanding why so much of BBC Scotland's time and resources are going into this fabricated "scandal" over publicly-funded wreaths whilst several Scottish MPs are involved in what to any rational observer looks like criminal fraud, yet the BBC is devoting not a single word to them. It's a disgrace.

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  • 204. At 12:47pm on 31 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    I made an error in my # 201. It should have said attributed instead of contributed. Sorry.

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  • 205. At 12:48pm on 31 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 202 GrassyKnollington

    'Any predictions for when the rest will take off their clothespegs?'

    Don't hold your breath on that one.

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  • 206. At 12:55pm on 31 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 203 bighullabaloo

    I suspect that there are a couple of reasons. I'll give you one of them and let you guess the other.

    I suspect that the BBC Scotland journalists are not what you would consider to be 'Investigative' journalists but tend to comment on what is mentioned in the Scottish broadsheets. Now that the 'Herald' has broken ranks, so to speak, we should start to see more comments from the BBC Scotland journalists. If not, then I suspect your guess will be closer to the truth.

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  • 207. At 12:57pm on 31 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    #201. gedguy2

    The same tactics as the BNP only there pics came from different parts of the world it just sums up a corrupt party bleating for attention.

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  • 208. At 1:04pm on 31 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    "If the justice minister has to go over a prisoner absconding, no-one is going to last more than a few months in the job"

    "John Scott, chair of the Howard League in Scotland and vice-president of the Society of Solicitor-Advocates, said opposition MSPs were being "irresponsible" and setting an impossible standard for MacAskill.

    "If a justice secretary has to go, over this, then no-one is going to last more than a few months as justice secretary ever again."


    Carry on flagging dead horses.

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  • 209. At 1:07pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #206 gedguy2

    The first reason is nonsensical. I'm not accusing the BBC of not investigating. I'm accusing them of ignoring known facts out of partisan political bias.

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  • 210. At 1:08pm on 31 May 2009, GrassyKnollington wrote:

    @200 thanks for that link.

    If you ever wondered why Prof John Curtice is the BBC's favourite pundit, it's because even in a necessarily short soundbite he can come up with gems like:

    "The battle is about credibility in Scotland. If Labour come first, they will say that the smile has been wiped off Salmond's face," said Curtice.


    Aye cheers Prof, we've not heard that one before. Where's "bleak" Midwinter these days by the way? I miss his black holes.

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  • 211. At 1:13pm on 31 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 207 cynicalHighlander

    I have no time for racists. I'm not even going to waste my breath discussing them, or mention their name.

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  • 212. At 1:14pm on 31 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    BigH

    Re the shelving. I was being sarcastic. There is as much chance of finding the shelving as there is being a Lib Dem majority.


    Re the wreaths. I agree that if necessary the public purse should pay for them. But why did the MSPs involved not raise this with whatever office provides the expense and asked that this be arranged for this year? To be fair with hindsight its easy to say this. And of course the media will highlight it since there are a few SNP members there.

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  • 213. At 1:20pm on 31 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Just watched the debate between Gray and MacAskill and have to say that Campbell on this one seemed pretty fair. For someone who is supposed to be one of the weakest in the SNP cabinet MacAskill dealt with Gray with ease.

    In fact Gary apparently didn't quite know what to focus on nor what MacAskill should be resigning for.

    The release of information on the non return of Brown was excellently dealt with by MacAskill and not handeld at all well by Gray. MacAskills point that to have made the information public at such an early stage could have compromised police investigation (by tipping off the individual) was a good one.

    Gray's lamentable suggestion that Salmond had mislead parliament fell flat.

    A quick reference to Alistair Darling led to an insipid question to Gray - a more difficult question may have been the new revelations about Jim Devine.

    SFT highlighted along with headlines from SOS and The Sunday Herald well dealt with by MacAskill. It raises the question of when will PFI receive the coverage that it surely deserves.

    Anyway, Gray could barely handle Kenny MacAskill who showed he won't cower from Labour placemen like Gray.

    Gray buckled when asked if he would call a vote of confidence. That is as good an indication of both the strength of Labour's case and their opinion of their own chances if an election was forced.

    The Scottish media aren't looking good on this one. Do they continue to cheerlead for Labour or do they quietly drop this charade?

    I'm willing to bet that this matter will simply fade away.

    I have said before, what are the chances of Brown being caught and the situation behind his non return being publicised?

    Strange that given we are being told that a dangerous murderer is on the run that a full scale police hunt appears not to be underway. Indeed the media seem remarkably unconcerned that this individual still hasn't been caught.

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  • 214. At 1:28pm on 31 May 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    #194, bighullabaloo:

    1. If an MSP sends a wreath on behalf of the public the public should pay for it.

    2. If an MSP sends a wreath on behalf of themselves the MSP should pay for it.

    What could be more simple?


    My first reaction was that this was a good point well made.

    Upon reflection, however, I'm not sure that I trust MSPs to decide on an individual basis how to spend public funds upon things which are DISCRETIONARY expenses.

    I agree that if an MSP decides that HE (or SHE) wishes to show support for some particular event, etc., then the individual should be footing the bill; only where the expense is wholly REQUIRED to be incurred (and not merely a matter of custom) should the public purse be a source of reimbursement.

    Indeed, reimbursing expenses is a fundamentally flawed concept.

    Other than in emergency circumstances, proposed expenditure should be required to be approved IN ADVANCE, and the purchase, etc., made by designated officials (on behalf of MPs/MSPs) with the power to negotiate terms to achieve the best result for public funds; any expense not expressly approved in advance would thereby not be liable to reimbursement.

    Taxpayers' money should not be used to allow MSPs to be more generous than they themselves are prepared to be (with their own money)!

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  • 215. At 1:34pm on 31 May 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    #194, #195, #205 - bighullabaloo

    Good, thought-provoking stuff which certainly adds to the quality of the debate.

    Are you sure you're in the right place?

    Unrelenting partisanship and ignorance of anything not supportive of a pre-determined viewpoint is more typical of contributions...

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  • 216. At 1:39pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #212 Neil_Small147

    "I was being sarcastic." I

    Well it obviously didn't work as well as you thought.

    "But why did the MSPs involved not raise this with whatever office provides the expense and asked that this be arranged for this year?"

    Raise what question? Why would on earth would MSPs raise the question of whether they should pay for a publicly-funded wreath to be used in performing an official duty?

    "And of course the media will highlight it since there are a few SNP members there."

    Oh, "of course"! I forgot the vital factor the BBC requires to decide whether a story is "newsworthy" is whether there are "a few SNP members " involved!

    Can I take it then that if there hadn't been "a few SNP members there" the BBC would have ignored it completely - just like they ignore the criminal transgressions of certain Scottish Labour MPs?

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  • 217. At 1:46pm on 31 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    #213 greenockboy

    "Strange that given we are being told that a dangerous murderer is on the run that a full scale police hunt appears not to be underway. Indeed the media seem remarkably unconcerned that this individual still hasn't been caught."

    More worrying is that there's a madman loose at No10 and Scottish media are impotent.

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  • 218. At 1:51pm on 31 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 209 bighullabaloo

    How did I know that you were going to take that point of view. :-)

    Anyway, I'm off to check that my PS3 is still working. (I only got it for when my grandsons visit. Honest.)

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  • 219. At 1:52pm on 31 May 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    #215

    #203, not #205

    My humility is illustrative of imperfection, since it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way.

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  • 220. At 1:53pm on 31 May 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    #219

    I meant "emblematic" not "illustrative".

    Oh, dearie me.....

    Not my day, is it?!

    (Though I am a son.)

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  • 221. At 2:40pm on 31 May 2009, scottish_solstice wrote:


    117 Greenockboy

    Great post. thought you might like this...

    Brown cleaning up the system.... even the BBC!!

    Brown on The Andrew Marr Show today 31st March 2009 (29mins)


    "this whole issue of transparency will go not right... not just across the Commons. It will have to affect the House of Lords and it will have to affect public institutions, including the Health Service and all sorts of public institutions - including, I suspect, the BBC."

    Oh, dearie, dearie, me !!

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  • 222. At 3:09pm on 31 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    #184.greenockboy

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  • 223. At 3:41pm on 31 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Interesting wording of the latest 'MacAskill' article on the BBC website:

    Labour and SNP clash over prisons

    I get the feeling that the BBC have decided that Labour have gone too far with their accusations that the Scottish government should have informed Holyrood of the non return of Brown, instead of as happened the police releasing the information.

    I also noticed Gordon Brown's suggestion that many other public bodies will now come under scrutiny. I wonder who will be charged with scrutinising the BBC in Scotland?

    Has any journalist been off jollying around the globe at taxzpayers expense recently? I do hope that Brian's receipts are in order.

    One other little gem that appears to have been missed is the Labour peer's admission that expense fiddling is rife in The Lords, he even admits to it himself.

    Remorseful peer Lord Clarke of Hampstead says he fiddled expenses

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  • 224. At 4:24pm on 31 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    COPS TO RAID COMMONS over MPs expenses

    Lots of shredders been ordered on expenses!

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  • 225. At 5:38pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #224 cynicalHighlander

    "Detectives are planning to swoop on Parliament to seize evidence of MPs' alleged expenses frauds."

    Detectives appear to have developed a new "swooping" technique just for MPs where they announce their plan to "swoop" in the tabloid press before they actually "swoop".

    Maybe it's just me but my recollection is that in all previous "swoops" in recorded history they did NOT tell the people they were "swooping" on so that when they did actually "swoop" of them it came as - well, a bit of a surprise!

    Just a small point. We mustn't teach grandmothers to suck eggs.

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  • 226. At 5:41pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #218 gedguy2

    "How did I know that you were going to take that point of view?"

    Maybe there's a part of you that knows you're talking nonsense as you're actually doing it?

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  • 227. At 6:00pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #214 Older than the Pyramids

    "I'm not sure that I trust MSPs to decide on an individual basis how to spend public funds upon things which are DISCRETIONARY expenses."

    I'm totally certain about it:

    1. I WANT my MSP to use my money to send a wreath to a service commemorating our war dead. I'd be very upset if they didn't.

    2. Should MSPs who sends wreaths on my behalf pay for it out of their own pocket?

    I'd be very upset if they DID.

    3. Do I expect MSPs to send ADDITIONAL wreaths on their own behalf and pay for them out of their own pockets?

    No I don't. What on earth has it got to do with me whether my MSP feels a personal obligation to send a private wreath and pay for it out of their own money?

    4. Lastly, as a result of this clarity of knowing what I think our money should be spent on, and what it shouldn't be spent on:

    I can say with 100% certainty I DO NOT want my money spent on duck houses or mortgages for properties that are resold for a private profit.

    Why anyone wouldn't be able to see the clear distinction between a publicly-funded wreath and a publicly-funded duck house is a complete mystery to me.

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  • 228. At 6:11pm on 31 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    #225. bighullabaloo

    I think its a jounalist playing the drama queen.

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  • 229. At 6:28pm on 31 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Jim Murphy: nominates his constituency home in Glasgow as second home, where he claimed £780 a month mortgage interest payments in 2007-08. Also claimed £4,884 for bathroom renovation from B&Q but paid £3,499 back into allowance.

    Expenses

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  • 230. At 6:34pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    "Gray said: "If we're talking about integrity - I think the Scottish public have questions about the integrity of a first minister who [was] asked seven times about prisoners escaping and absconding from the open estate on Thursday in the full knowledge from the evening before - 20 hours before - a further prisoner had absconded and felt that was right simply not to mention that."

    This is easily solved! Can some BBC "jounalist" please ask the Police whether they would have been happy with Salmond revealing in parliament that a second prisoner had absconded?

    If the police would not have been happy about it - because for example it might have alerted people who are in a position to come to the aid of the escapee, thus making the job of catching him even harder - then there is no substance whatsover to Gray's accusation against Salmond. Simple!

    Are BBC "journalists" going to ask the Police this question? No. Why not? Because the answer would reveal Gray is indulging inthe worst sort of petty political point scoring at the expense of our prison staff, the Police, and the real truth!

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  • 231. At 6:37pm on 31 May 2009, oldnat wrote:

    Jim Devine MP has only represented Livingston for 3 years and 8 months - following the death of Robin Cook.

    Pretty impressive to have racked up two of the "oddest" (I choose my word carefully) claims during such a short period.

    Does anyone know if the shelving should be investigated by The Met Police (the expenses claim having been made in London), Lothian and Borders Police (since the constituency office and the pub landlord are in Livingston), HMRC (since the landlord presumably declared the transaction for VAT and Income Tax), or all 3?

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  • 232. At 6:57pm on 31 May 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    #231, oldnat:

    How about the Serious Fraud Office as well?

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  • 233. At 7:08pm on 31 May 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    "PS: Welcome your comments as ever. Would remind you, gently, that it is one of the house rules that responses should not stray from the particular topic on offer."

    I cannot believe that BT continues to permit such ungrammatical nonsense to be appended to his carefully crafted musings:

    No subject is identified. We? They? You? I?

    "as ever" = "not at all"

    "gently" = "upon pain of suspension of posting privileges"

    "house rules" should be "House Rules"

    And, by my reckoning, 153 (of 231) postings should have been disallowed if the Rule was properly implemented!

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  • 234. At 7:09pm on 31 May 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #114/119 bighillabaloo

    I'm as entitled to my opinions as you are yours.

    My opinion: UDI is a non-starter (evidence: none - it's an opinion)

    Your opinion: If SNP have a majority of seats at Westminster, UDI is likely (evidence: none - it's an opinion).

    I never demanded evidence, I just said that, to my knowledge there was no evidence to support the likelihood of UDI.

    End of.

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  • 235. At 7:39pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #234 Fit Like?

    Er, my opinion is you don't decide for me when it's "end of" or "not end of".

    I don't mind you having your opinion. I draw the line at you expecting me to accept it as representing reality.

    When I ask you for some indication of why you believe your opinion does reflect some aspect of reality I'm told it's only an "opinion".

    So no "proof" required for you to consider your opinion reflects an aspect of actual testable reality, then? Do you really consider that good enough?

    If we all took the view that unsubstantiated opinions are - as you put it - the "end of" the matter then we'd still be living in caves.

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  • 236. At 7:52pm on 31 May 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #235 bighullabaloo

    "we'd still be living in caves"

    Enough of this discrimination against troglodytes! :-)

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  • 237. At 7:53pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #233 Older than the Pyramids

    What is the point of the BBC having a rule about not being off-topic if they're not going to enforce it?

    My position is this: if the BBC is going to have such a rule then have the rule - and strictly enforce it for ALL.

    If they're not going to enforce it then stop attaching that patronising reminder message and let people get on with it.

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  • 238. At 8:00pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #236 oldnat

    My apologies to troglodytes everywhere, as I do know there are lots of people in the modern world who do live in caves and it works out perfectly nicely for them.

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  • 239. At 8:05pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #234 Fit Like?

    "I just said that, to my knowledge there was no evidence to support the likelihood of UDI."

    What is your "knowledge" based on?

    What hard evidence is there that there is "no evidence" to support the likelihood of UDI?

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  • 240. At 8:09pm on 31 May 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #238 bighullabaloo

    Thanks for that. Mind you, I find that I need to rewire my cave, and I need a lot of shelving for it. Do you know an MP that I could ask for advice? I would have asked Brian Donohoe, but strangely he only (unsuccessfully) sues electricians.

    I'm sure that there must be some Labour politician who can suggest a way in which I can achieve everything I want at no cost to myself.

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  • 241. At 8:20pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #240 oldnat

    Is this cave your principal residence or a "pied-a-terre" needed to enable you to function as a blog poster?

    Actually, don't bother, I'll just stamp your cave improvement expenses claim as "Approved". After all, no one will ever question it. Right?

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  • 242. At 9:23pm on 31 May 2009, Angusblogg wrote:

    #188 gedguy

    Re Jim Devine's £2000 'rewire' for his flat in London. In England and Wales since January 2005, all Electrical work in Kitchens/Bathrooms & Gardens, the installation of new Consumer Units (Fuse boards) & rewires MUST be notified to Building Control under Part P of the Building Regulations. (Brought in by John Prescott, then Deputy Prime Minister)

    It is a legal requirement that the householder, under Part P, must ensure that 'rewires' are notified to Building Control.

    To establish if a rewire has been carried out, all it would take is an enquiry to Building Control to see if the work has been registered. If the rewire has not been registered, either the work has not been done (in which case Devine has made a fraudulent claim) or, the work has been done and not registered, meaning Devine is breaking the law by not ensuring that the company he employed is Part P registered.

    Either way he is between a rock and a hard place.

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  • 243. At 9:28pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #241 Angusblogg

    Your #241 is my post of the week. Nice one!
    If you're an electrician you missed out. You could have been a very good lawyer!

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  • 244. At 9:42pm on 31 May 2009, Oldfifer wrote:

    230 bhb Journalists could not do this as it would show there is no bias towards labour.I've just had a letter from BBC complaints that if I could show one piece of bias towards labour the would investigate it.They must not read their own reporters blogs. I will be surprised if this comment is allowed!!

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  • 245. At 9:51pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    Correction to my #243: I meant Angusblogg's #242 not #241.

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  • 246. At 10:16pm on 31 May 2009, Angusblogg wrote:

    #243 - BigH

    Thanks! This has been a good blog - my personal favourite post was greenockboy's #184 link to the Sunday Herald's story on Devine's mystery shelves - I found myself laughing out loud at the audacity of the man and I am incredulous that he has not already be deselected at the very minimum.

    On a more worrying note - cynicalhighlander's #192 link on Postal Voting Fraud raises a serious concern of mine that the election results may just be liable to be rigged. It is something that the Scottish Government (and SNP is particular) needs to address urgently.

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  • 247. At 10:24pm on 31 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Just had a look at The Scotsman's 'MacAskill' item tomorrow and have to admit I smiled.

    Anyone who watched The Politics show will have been in no doubt that Iain Gray is terrified at the prospect of a no confidence vote.

    Well, The Scotsman have decided that Gray's terror is to be interpretted as 'MacAskill dealt further blow' (I love the 'dealt blow' headlines).

    Labour are apparently ahead in Michael Martin's seat, 18% a poll says.

    No surprise, SNP share of the vote has though near doubled to 33% with Labour on 51%.

    It really is a shame for many of these people that they still cannot bring themselves to vote for any other party bar Labour. Even the SSP or Solidarity would make sense.

    Well meaning people no doubt, but very poorly served by the Scottish media. I wonder if there is a developed Western country who's electorate are as poorly informed as Scotland's?

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  • 248. At 10:29pm on 31 May 2009, ubinworryinmasheep wrote:

    #240 Oldnat ...dont forget you will probably need a moat and a duck island for your cave along with three boxes of mints and two cuddly teddys.

    Just saw yon bloke Grey and the Justice Minister slugging it out .. i must say i thought Glen was not his usuall self actually helping our Kenny out so much .. is the tide turning ??? Maybe Browns threat to sort out the BBC amongst other things is turning against him.

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  • 249. At 10:31pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #244 Oldfifer

    "Journalists could not do this as it would show there is no bias towards labour."

    I believe if journalists did do this (i.e. ask the police whether they would have been happy for Salmond to announce a second escapee in parliament) it would show the baselessness of Gray's accusation against Salmond.

    If Salmond had been informed by the police that he should not mention it (highly likely) he has not committed any sort of "sin" against parliament or the people as Gray wants us to believe.

    It's possible for any sensible person to work this out logically for themselves even without access to "unknown information" about what the police said or didn't say to Salmond.

    Simply put yourself in the shoes of a policeman faced with the difficult task of catching the escapee. I'd want no news of the escape made public for at least 24 hours. I wouldn't want to alert people on the "outside" who are in a position to assist the escapee. If such people hear the news on the Tv or radio, it would be possible for them to implement a pre-arranged plan to help the escapee with transport or a safe place to hide. That would just make my job harder, if not totally impossible. At the least it increases the chances of the escapee remaining at large, so best not to take the risk.

    At some point, perhaps after 24 hours, the chances are much higher that the escapee has had an opportunity to contact his "helpers" anyway, so I'd probably say at that point: "Okay, put his name and photograph out" as that has become my best tactic to increase the chances of the escapee being seen and caught.

    In other words, issuing the name and photograph of someone who's escaped from prison to the public immediately actually reduces the chances of catching them in the end and also runs the risk of panicking the public. It's always going to be a difficult judgement call because every escaped prisoner poses a different level of risk. That's why you don't want a politician making that sort of operational decision. It's best left to experienced police officers.

    If the police didn't want Salmond to reveal the second escapee after 20 hours and he'd stood up in parliament and done so against their wishes I'd be the first to say he should be "crucified" for stupidly putting the public at greater risk. Alex Salmond would never do such a thing.

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  • 250. At 10:32pm on 31 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    #247. greenockboy

    41% undecided Glasgow North East

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  • 251. At 11:19pm on 31 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Alistair Darling billed us for two homes at the same time

    "At the time, Mr Darling moved into Downing Street and began to claim second home allowances for his grace-and-favour apartments, meaning that costs relating to two of the Chancellor's homes were being met by the taxpayer. That would appear to contravene parliamentary rules that allow MPs to claim on only one property at a time."

    Not just fingers in the till but both hands scooping at the same time, will he be anyones darling by the end of the week.

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  • 252. At 11:20pm on 31 May 2009, oldnat wrote:

    Alastair Darling seems to be an even worse case than we had thought.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5418493/MPs-expenses-Alistair-Darling-billed-us-for-two-homes-at-the-same-time.html

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  • 253. At 11:24pm on 31 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Snap

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  • 254. At 11:32pm on 31 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    #251/#252

    For once I agree with Nick Clegg. Darling should be sacked - immediately.

    I cannot see how Gordon Brown can avoid this one. Darling is supposed to be in charge of the Treasury!

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  • 255. At 11:53pm on 31 May 2009, ubinworryinmasheep wrote:

    #254 Yeah but Neil as you know well they sold the running of the Customs and Excise buildings to a company that avoids tax as well. Nobody made much of a fuss about that one despite the obvious fault. It seems to me that these people have no morals whatsoever. How can it be that they can fiddle us out of money and tax revenue yet if you get caught you will probably go to jail. Expect lots of benefit fraud claimants to spring into action immediatly !!!

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  • 256. At 02:06am on 01 Jun 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    #252 oldnat

    Not the Chancer of the Chequer Board too? Oh dearie me, dearie, dearie me!

    Not having tuned into the anglophone world today until a few minutes ago and having just read the Telegraph article in question, a number of mental images are springing to mind with such breathtakingly overwhelming rapidity that I can scarcely type fast enough to convey them to you, but I shall try.

    First there are the cock sparrows, wee cock sparras "sat on a tree, chirpin awa as blithe as could be" until "alang came a boy wi a bow and an arra". Even before all of these poor wee birdies had been knocked off their perch, in this cruel and relentless manner, another vision appeared, and it was gruesome, so gruesome that I don't think I have seen anything quite like it since I was in nursery school, a searing experience if ever there was one:

    Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,
    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
    All the king's horses
    And all the king's men
    Couldn't put Humpty
    Together again.

    Is the developing political and constitutional crisis in Blighty really and truly turning out to be as bad as that? With an horrendous recession churning away in the background and threatening the well-being of the population at large and the future viability of the UK economy, the whole framework of UK government and representative democracy, together with other UK institutions - including the BBC, according to Mr Brown - does indeed appear to be coming crashing down, as MP after MP is targeted, shot down and trampled in the dust. By the time the Telegraph has finished with the UK parliament, it is going to seem to be anything but whole and anything but wholesome, because it is being shown to be as rotten as many of us have believed it to be and is being smashed to pieces before our eyes.

    Faced with this unmitigated disaster, this fall from grace, as Cardinal O'Brien has called it today, is it any wonder that anglo-unionist parties in the Scottish Parliament are doing their utmost to smear those who wish to persuade Scotland to have nothing to do with Westminster? Viewed within this context, the synthetic row about a jail break and who is responsible for what in connection with it reveals itself to be essentially a diversion, a distraction to draw the gaze of Scottish electors away from the scene of devastation unfolding in the corridors of UK power and in the Palace of Allowances, as the UK constitution and the UK state lose the trust and respect of the people, who can scarcely believe what they are being told about "the mother of parliaments" and what its occupants have been getting up to at their expense.

    What an utter shambles. Oh dearie, dearie me!

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  • 257. At 09:01am on 01 Jun 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #239 bighullabaloo

    "What hard evidence is there that there is "no evidence" to support the likelihood of UDI"

    I suspect it's out there somewher along with your hard evidence that it is likely.

    Look, much as enjoy sparring with people on here, can we maybe agree to disagree on this one as all we really seem to be doing is finding new ways to say the same thing over and over, propably to exasperation of everyone else reading this.

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  • 258. At 09:31am on 01 Jun 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 242 Angusblogg

    I worship at the altar of your electrical knowledge. I haven't done my 'Part P' yet as I'm just about to start my Level 3. I suspect that this is one piece of electrical knowledge that I won't forget. Ty.

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  • 259. At 10:03am on 01 Jun 2009, Blind_Captain wrote:

    Re 247. At 10:24pm on 31 May 2009, greenockboy

    I thought your comment re "the electorate are as poorly informed as Scotland's?" was interesting and it prompted me to look at some of the daily's websites.

    Kavanagh, in The Sun, is very revealing, where he has a real go at Labour and he attempts to influence voters intentions. Then contrast this with The Daily Record, where they are having a go at MacAskill.

    It would be interesting to understand the various circulation numbers and web hits of these two newspapers, as I would imagine that the majority of the poorly informed are among their readership. The Scotsman's circulation is low, I believe? So it's message will be thinly spread. And the electorate will still be watching the television news, where you cannot escape the scandle at Westminster, e.g. Darling & co.

    I don't think we should worry to much about the electorate; the circulation war among the tabloids will see to that :)

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  • 260. At 10:36am on 01 Jun 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 259 Blind_Captain

    'I don't think we should worry to much about the electorate; the circulation war among the tabloids will see to that'

    I, wholeheartedly, agree with this statement. I've mentioned this before. In constituencies like these I should imagine the broadsheet circulation will be verging on 'zero'. Rupert Murdoch is a 'nifty' businessman and will be seeing that the wind is blowing against Labour all over the UK. OK, maybe not so much in Scotland, but recent polls have shown a lessening of Labour support. Much as it grieves me to say so but I suspect that you can get a more unbiased political viewpoint from the 'Sun' than any other Scottish paper.
    Labour should not take for granted their grass root support. I believe it was P.G. Wodehouse who said: 'It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.'

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  • 261. At 11:03am on 01 Jun 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #257 Fit Like?

    You already have the power to stop "exasperating everyone".
    You don't need my agreement. Just don't reply to my posts. I don't see why that should pose any problem for you.

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  • 262. At 11:12am on 01 Jun 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #260 gedguy2

    P.G. Wodehouse who said: 'It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.'

    P.G. obviously never ran into a bottle-wielding Millwall fan just after they'd lost three nil.

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  • 263. At 11:30am on 01 Jun 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #260 gedguy2
    Unlike you, I do worry about the electorate. Yes there is discussion of the Yah, Boo politics that the Westminster system throws up but there is very little of the real politics that Labour made it's name on. Where is the discussion of Friday's Joseph Rowntree Foundation's report of 21% of Scots children living in poverty, our pretendy wee unable to do b'gger all about it and the Harry Potter woman giving Labour £1,000,000 for everything they've done for child poverty? So matbe it's politics with a small "p" but you bet it matters to the parents of those kids. Yes, it's fun to report on the synthetic "outrage" created by Labour's bash a Cabinet Minister campaign and give the Nats a chance to show that they can do better than the LibLabs on keeping prisoners in jail but in reality 1 in 5 bairns are not getting the chances to create a better Scotland for themselves and their kids and Labour's doing nothing to help, in fact the way they've handled the country's economy as opposed to their own personal economies means they will still be hindering Scots children in 2019. That's the politics we should be concerned with

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  • 264. At 11:31am on 01 Jun 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #261 bighullabaloo

    "You already have the power to stop "exasperating everyone".
    Just don't reply to my posts. I don't see why that should pose any problem for you.
    "

    Did you really need to make that point? You could easily have chosen not to reply to my post. I'm sure that wouldn't have been a problem for you either.

    Sorry, just couldn't resist.

    I do, however, wish Brian would hurry up and give us a new topic to disect, analyse, debate and generally fly off at varying tangents from. I think this one (by which I mean Brian's original topic, not our particular little debate within a debate (although, maybe it too)) has been done pretty much to death.

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  • 265. At 11:46am on 01 Jun 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    Don't suppose we can expect any serious news coverage this close to a crucial election for Labour?! Alastair Darling's truly awesome expenses claims for instance?

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  • 266. At 11:46am on 01 Jun 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 262 bighullabaloo

    'P.G. obviously never ran into a bottle-wielding Millwall fan just after they'd lost three nil.'

    The difference between a 'bottle-wielding Millwall fan' and a 'bottle-wielding Weggie Celtic/Ranger's fan is that the Weggie bottle will be emptied before use. ;-)

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  • 267. At 11:50am on 01 Jun 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #264 Fit Like?

    "Did you really need to make that point?"

    Yes, clearly the point needed to be made and clearly it needs to be made again.

    You don't seem to get it. It's quite simple. If you don't reply neither will I.

    If you "just can't resist" then you're keeping it going. It's up to you.

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  • 268. At 12:10pm on 01 Jun 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #266 gedguy2

    If I were you I'd leave the witty aphorisms to P.G.

    And always remember: "Many of those who tried to enlighten were hanged from the lampposts." Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

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  • 269. At 12:43pm on 01 Jun 2009, Diabloandco wrote:

    PattyM, don't be silly !
    The man is as innocent as the day is long!
    It' s only Tories and SNP politicians that have done anything outwith the rules, at least that's what I've heard and I am ,for one , convinced!
    How could it be otherwise??
    Surely casting aspersions at the "chosen ones " is a new offence?
    Mr Brown and his friend Andrew Marr seem to think that everyone in Labour had made "above board " claims, even the red haired chipmunk.

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  • 270. At 1:16pm on 01 Jun 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #115 bighullabaloo

    ""a majority of seats in Westminster does not in itself translate into a majority share of the vote."

    Hasn't stopped Unionists forming minority UK governments again and again has it?

    Why should it stop Nationalists declaring independence for Scotland?
    "

    Are you really saying that it would be right for Nationalists to declare independence if they didn't have an actual majority? I'm not having a go, I am genuinely interested in your thoughts on this.

    "Hasn't stopped Unionists forming minority UK governments again and again has it?" That was the actual point I was making. If we assume there is something fundamentally wrong in a system such as the UK's FPTP, in that it consistantly delivers Governments that do not represent the majority of the electorate, wouldn't the same flaw exisit if independence was declared without the support of an outright majority?

    It seems to me that if if the first situation pertaining to electing Governments on the basis of a minority vote is wrong or in some way, unjust, then the second situation of declaring independence on the same basis is equally wrong or unjust.

    Surely with something as fundamental as the future of our country, we need the backing of the majority?

    It is a difficult question, though as, unless the turnout at approches 100%, a simple majority of the population who voted, may not translate to a majority of those eligible to vote. If only 90% of the population vote, and a yes vote scrapes by with 51% that still means that only 45.5% of the elligible population voted in favour. Should we simply disregard the non-voters? Should we put some in a condition that, for a yes vote to carry, it must represent a majority of those elligible to vote, not just those who did vote?

    I don't know the answers to any of these questions but, I believe they are important and, I suspect they are questions that will need to be considered/answered if the establishment of a free and fully democratic Scotland is to be achieved.

    Anyway, I'm sure you will have an opinion on this. I may not agree with it, but that is not the point, I would be interested in your thoughts on this (and anyone else's too.

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  • 271. At 1:25pm on 01 Jun 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    Somebody asked where Arthur "Bleak" Midwinter had gone. He's popped up in Labour's hour of need on the front page of the Herald today supporting Labour's continuing distortion on the educational front.
    The Herald has obviously realised that the MacAskill story was doing those who were spreading it about more damage than it was doing to the SNP and has moved on to another deliberate attempted distraction this time on education.
    The actual fact however is that the SNP Goverment gave every council in Scotland an above inflation settlement this year, has freed Scottish councils to largely spend that as they wish and allows the councils to retain any savings made on their 2% efficiency drive for more efficient deployment.
    Any cuts in any service are in fact the responsibilty of each individual council and nothing to do with the Scottish Government.
    I wake up every day wondering how the Herald will manage to disappoint me in the course of it. I am rarely let down by it. Very sad indeed.

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  • 272. At 2:20pm on 01 Jun 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #270 Fit Like?

    1. "Are you really saying that it would be right for Nationalists to declare independence if they didn't have an actual majority?"

    No, I'm waiting for an answer to the question why is it NOT right for Nationalists to declare independence without an actual majority if that is exactly the way umpteen UK governments have been elected?

    2. "If we assume there is something fundamentally wrong in a system such as the UK's FPTP, in that it consistantly delivers Governments that do not represent the majority of the electorate, wouldn't the same flaw exisit if independence was declared without the support of an outright majority?"

    Either they can have as "right" that UK governments do not represent the majority of the electorate, in which case it is also "right" for a Scottish independent government, or it is "wrong" that UK governments do not represent the majority of the electorate, in which it is also "wrong" for a Scottish independent government. What I'm not having is that it is "right" for UK governments but "wrong" for Scottish independent governments. I'm not accusing you of advocating that, but my objection remains valid regardless. Currently we are asked to accept it is "right" for UK governments but the suggestion appears to be that a Scottish independent government would for some unknown reason have to live up to some fictional "higher" standard of governmental authority such as more than 50% of the electorate voting for them.

    3. "Surely with something as fundamental as the future of our country, we need the backing of the majority?"

    UK governments don't have the backing of the majority. Of course I agree in an ideal world a "democracy" would be based on a numerical majority of the people voting for a government. But if you think we actually live in a democracy you must be blind or daft. The only actual example we currently have is of governments being formed on a minority of votes. Why should we assume that an independent Scottish government needs to operate with some mythical ideal of an actual majority mandate? I'm living in the real world, not some pie-in-the-sky perfect "free and fully democratic Scotland." I'm a pragmatist. I'll take "free" and we'll work towards "fully democratic" in our own time.

    4. As for "100% turnout"

    This is another mythical ideal unattainable in reality (short of jailing people for not voting. Even then I can assure you there would be people in jail for not voting). Given the selfish, greedy society our honourable MPs have created for us so far, I sometimes think it would be better to jail people FOR voting. If that isn't feasible I'd settle for just jailing the MPs.

    If you want me to carry on this discussion, I insist that you actually READ my answers and THINK about them until you have given them balanced consideration. Unless I see some sort of indication that you have actually done this, instead of the usual mindless dismissive knee-jerk reaction ("my views don't coincide with yours therefore your views must need "fixing") then I will simply ignore anything further you have to say on these matters.

    Please read the previous parapgraph at least three times. If you still don't get it then ask and I will clarify it for you.

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  • 273. At 2:25pm on 01 Jun 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    #269, is that a sly dig a Hazel Nutkin, Diablo?! ;-)

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  • 274. At 2:50pm on 01 Jun 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    #268 bighullabaloo

    'And always remember: "Many of those who tried to enlighten were hanged from the lampposts." Stanislaw Jerzy Lec'

    True, but the view was better.

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  • 275. At 3:33pm on 01 Jun 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #274 gedguy2

    "True, but the view was better."

    I don't understand what you mean. Whose view?

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  • 276. At 3:57pm on 01 Jun 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 275 bighullabaloo

    From the lamp post. I would be able to see further.

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  • 277. At 4:10pm on 01 Jun 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #272 bighullabaloo

    Apologies. You seem to believe I'm critising your views, I assure you, I'm not. I disagree with some (possibly many) of them but that disagreement is more in the matter of application than the underlying ideology. When I said I was interested in your views, I was being genuine. I don't think I have ever said your views need 'fixing'. I can respect your views even where I don't agree with them.

    Anyway, to the points you made:

    "I'm waiting for an answer to the question why is it NOT right for Nationalists to declare independence without an actual majority if that is exactly the way umpteen UK governments have been elected?"

    I'm not a big fan of our electoral system. I think that a system of voting, designed to meet the requirements of the two party state the UK once was, has no place in a multi-party country such as the UK now is. It is unrepresentative of the electorate and not, actually, as democratic as it appears to be for precisely the reasons we agree on. Sadly, until the Westminster parliament can agree on a better and more acceptable form of vote-rigging, (or until Scotland becomes independent, in which case I hope we don't make the same mistake), we're stuck with it. It's not right, it's probably not fair but I can't see it changing with too many people within Westminster's old-boys club having a vested interest in maintaining the FPTP staus quo.

    Having established why I feel the Westminster Parliament model of representation is wrong, I feel that declaring UDI without some form of majority support for independence is equally wrong. Granted, the latter may be one method of achieving a change from the former, but its not one I'm infavour of. The current system for Holyrood is a long way from ideal but it's an improvement on FPTP.

    "UK governments don't have the backing of the majority. Of course I agree in an ideal world a "democracy" would be based on a numerical majority of the people voting for a government. But if you think we actually live in a democracy you must be blind or daft. The only actual example we currently have is of governments being formed on a minority of votes."

    I agree. The system we have is not represntatively democratic.

    "Why should we assume that an independent Scottish government needs to operate with some mythical ideal of an actual majority mandate? I'm living in the real world, not some pie-in-the-sky perfect "free and fully democratic Scotland." "

    Perhaps not a majority for any single party but certainly, where possible, a broad consensus across the parliament, in much the way that the SNP are currently attempting to achieve is better. While you can't please all of the people all of the time, you should at least try to please as many as you can. Actually, the current Holyrood voting system makes it unlikely that any single party will ever manage an outright majority (although, I'm happy to be proved wrong although I'd prefer that it wasn't Labour that achieve this) so, minority government, attempting to achieve consensus or coalitions like the previous two Lab/Lib administrations are something we are likely to have to live with. Of the two, I think the SNP have achieved more as a minority administration than the Lab/Lib 'majority' administrations did.

    "As for "100% turnout" This is another mythical ideal unattainable in reality."

    Yup, I know that, I just used it as an extreme case to illustrate the point I'm tring to make. I realise it will never happen. We are, however, talking about a fundamental change to our country and the way it is goverened and it will affect the lives of everyone living here.

    In 1997, 60.4% of the electorate voted in the devolution referendum, with support for devolution accounting for 74.3% "of the valid votes cast". In other words, 44.9% of the electorate voted for devolution while 55.1% did not vote for it. Granted, the actual number of people that actually voted against devolution was considerably lower. That was for devolution which, while a major constitutional change, the ramifications of which are still being felt today, which is why we are having this debate, crucially, we still remained part of the UK.

    If we take current support for independence as bing around 45%, it may be a couple of points higher or lower, but the current figure from most of the polls quoted on here seems to give a figure there or thereabouts.

    If we assume a turnout of around 70% (again it may be higher, and I hope it would be for something as important as this, or it may be lower), if support is still running at around the 45% level,that still leaves a considerable majority of people in Scotland who did not vote for independence. Is it right that the wishes of the majority be ignored?

    I'm fairly sure the UK won't degenerate down the lines of the Balkans (I think we got the civil war/wars of independence out of our systems a couple of centuries ago) but it is an issue that is potentially devisive.

    Which brings us, finally, back to my original point: if we are agreed that the way Westminster Governments are formed is wrong in that the system actually ignores the wishes of the majority, if that is wrong, then surely ignoring the wishes of a majority who don't vote for independence (should that be the case) is equally as wrong.

    There is nothing mythical about this (apart from the example I'm quoting for the purposes of illustration), we are potentially talking about the actual wishes of the people of Scotland being brushed aside if the majority don't actually support independence. Having our wishes ignored is the kind of treatment we get more than enough of from Westminster already. Do we really want to inflict it on ourselves as well?

    Oh, and for what it's worth, my personal view is if people can't be bothered to vote, they have no grounds to complain when they get the result they didn't want. So, if they don't actually excersise their right to choose, they should not automatically be assumed to be representing the status quo as some of the more millitant Unionist posters on here seem to believe is the case.


    Again, apologies for the length of this

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  • 278. At 4:16pm on 01 Jun 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #276 gedguy2

    Okay, I see what you mean now.

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  • 279. At 4:41pm on 01 Jun 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #277 Fit Like?

    "Granted, the latter may be one method of achieving a change from the former, but its not one I'm in favour of."

    Okay, let's pick the bones out of that.

    We currently have a FPTP system? Yes or no?

    Under a FPTP system the party that gets a MAJORITY of the seats wins regardless of whether they have a majority of votes? Yes or no?

    Are you saying that if the SNP won the majority of SEATS in a FPTP UK general election and thereafter declared Scotland independent you would say: "I'm not in favour of it!" and refuse to recognise Scotland as in independent nation?

    Yes or No?

    Note, I'm not talking here about whether the SNP COULD declare independence in this way. That's irrelevant to the point you're making. I'm not going to get into another big discussion about that because it led to the same old blind alley where evidence was being demanded but not offered.

    You're saying you wouldn't be in favour of Scotland being independent by a FPTP election? I'm saying I would be.

    I don't care if Scotland has to "win ugly" to become independent - and for the very same reason you're giving - because it's too important an issue.

    If it means winning against the odds in a grossly unfair FPTP system -I'll take it. I'm not proud.

    I'm not waiting until they change the system from FPTP to some "more representative" form of democracy because frankly, I doubt it will ever happen this side of independence.

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  • 280. At 4:57pm on 01 Jun 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 277 Fit Like?

    I'd like to join in this debate, if it is alright with you, considering that I was the one who brought up UDI in the first place.

    I said in # 85:

    'The supreme importance of the Westminster elections is the fear the Unionists have is that the Nationalists (mostly the SNP and Plaid Cymru) will end up having a workable majority in Scotland and Wales which can lead the Nationalists to declare UDI.'

    I did not say that the Nationalists will declare UDI but that the Unionists are frightened in case they do, which is why I suspect that in the end they will have to submit to the will of the voters in Scotland and Wales. This is assuming that the Nationalists in Scotland and Wales gain a working majority. I'm not too sure about Plaid Cymru but the SNP have always said that they would give the voters in Scotland a referendum on this. This is the point where UDI might be an arsenal in the hands of the Nationalists:

    1. If there is a referendum in Scotland and the majority of the voters vote for independence, keeping in mind your statement, (if people can't be bothered to vote, they have no grounds to complain when they get the result they didn't want.) and there is no clear cut case, so far, that this is what the voters of Scotland want. (My father was a unionist but my mother was a supporter of independence). However, if the SNP, who stand on the principle of independence, do manage to get a majority in Holyrood, then you would have to assume that this is what the voters want. Therefore it would be logical that the next step would be a referendum. Now, if the result of that referendum showed a majority of the voters in favour of independence then, again, it is logical to assume that the Scots will go forward to arranging, within the period of the lifetime of that parliament, the seccession from the Union. This would be the will of the people of Scotland as this is what they have voted for. No vote, no count.

    2. Now we all know that the Union will do everything it possibly can to hold on to the Union. That is their right. What is not their right is to ignore the will of the people of Scotland, or Wales, for that matter. If, and when, it comes to a referendum I would expect the Unionists to pull out every trick in the book to keep Scotland within the Union, and that includes black ops/propoganda, whatever you want to call it. Again, that is their right and I would be extremely surprised if they didn't do that. If the Scots still manage to vote 'yes' in a referendum and the Unionists still refuse to allow us to go legally, then, and only then, should I consider the use of UDI to be a tool for us to use. If the result of the referendum is 'yes' you can bet your bottom dollar that the Unionists will use the same argument that you are using about the people who didn't vote. Well, I agree with you that if they can't be bothered to vote then they shouldn't be counted either for or against.

    So, I throw the question back at you: 'What would you advise us to do if the Government of Scotland decided on a referendum, which resulted in a 'yes' and Westminster refused to let us go?'

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  • 281. At 5:13pm on 01 Jun 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #279 bighullaballo

    "Are you saying that if the SNP won the majority of SEATS in a FPTP UK general election and thereafter declared Scotland independent you would say: "I'm not in favour of it!" and refuse to recognise Scotland as in independent nation?

    Yes or No?
    "

    I'm not saying that, no. Presumeably on the grounds that I would have been one of the people voting 'Yes' in any referendum.

    What I am saying is that there will be some, possibly many, who may take that view.

    For that reason, I'm not in favour of the UDI route and would prefer that a properly negotiate settlement is achieved. However, having voted for independence, and a 'yes' vote having won the day, how the polititians then get round to dividing up the UK is their problem. As I say, I would prefer an amicably (where possible) negotiated settlement over UDI but, if UDI it is, then we just have to live with it.


    I'm an Aberdeen fan so I know all about winning dirty :-). Like you, I'll take any win I can get. But, because of the importance of the issue, I would like the win to have as little soiling as possible to allow the decision to stand as much scrutiny of its legitimacy as possible.

    "I'm not waiting until they change the system from FPTP to some "more representative" form of democracy because frankly, I doubt it will ever happen this side of independence." On that point at least, we are on the same page.

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  • 282. At 6:32pm on 01 Jun 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #281 Fit Like

    "What I am saying is that there will be some, possibly many, who may take that view."

    Okay if, as you graciously have done, accept that we are discussing something that conceivably might happen (leaving aside how likely it may or may not be) what material difference would it make if a majority of Scots had not voted for it?

    We currently live with a minority FPTP UK government, so why would all Scots not live with a democratically-elected minority FPTP Scottish independent government? If they didn't like it they'd have options: the same thing the SNP did to get elected under a FPTP system.

    No one is denying them their right to disagree with the FPTP-elected government or their right to campaign for a "more democratic" voting system or, even for that matter, to start a campaign to fight for re-union with the UK, or whatever entity takes its place post-Scottish independence.

    "I would like the win to have as little soiling as possible to allow the decision to stand as much scrutiny of its legitimacy as possible."

    Scrutiny from whom? As I say, if in my hypothetically UDI-created Scotland there was a militant majority of Scots in favour of re-joining the union, or whatever the rest of the UK is calling itself by that time, then they are free to scruitnise the existing independent Scottish government, oppose it on legal grounds, fight politically for its dissoluution, all the things WE are currently entitled to do in our efforts to gain independence from the existing union.

    "As little soiling as possible"

    I don't see it as "soiling" really. What I suggested was "winning ugly" as opposed to "winning dirty". I don't advocate dirty tricks to win. I'm talking about a scenario where the SNP wins the majority of the seats at a UK general election fairly and squarely, despite that system have been set up and maintained precisely to stop that happening.

    I believe in the intelligence of my fellow Scots: firstly to choose enough SNP MPs to make the UDI-elected Scottish parliament a reality, and thereafter if it turns out the majority really are not willing to live with that, and they are sufficiently motivated to do something about it, to campaign either for a change in the FPTP system or for the dissolution of the new independent entity altogether.

    Personally, having achieved independence by whatever means, I don't believe Scots would choose to do that because life in an independently-governed Scotland must by default be better than what we have now. It can't possibly be any worse.

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  • 283. At 6:35pm on 01 Jun 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #280 gedguy2

    Having initiated the discussion between myself and "Fit Like?" in your #85 I fear you've turned up just in time to witness its resolution.

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  • 284. At 7:32pm on 01 Jun 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #280 gedguy2 and #282 bighullabaloo

    As I see it, we all want the same ends, it's simply the means of achieving it we differ on.

    While I accept that given an outright majority of MPs at Westminster or Holyrood could allow the UDI card to be played, I would much prefer that an SNP majority administration (or even the current minority one if it can somehow swing it) go down the referendum route. I opt for a Holyrood administration because, even if a Westminster SNP majority of Scottish constituencies existed, they would still be an opposition party and a minority one in the UK context so the Unionist UK 'majority' MPs could vote down any referendum motion the SNP table in that chamber).

    The referendum would, I assume, be decided on a FPTP basis. Ideally this would be a straight Yes/No option as multiple options just muddy the waters and FPTP really was never designed to deal with anything more complex than a two way split. I believe a simple majority of the electorate who actually vote should carry it and those that don't bother to vote should be discounted entirely. They had their chance, if the choose not to use it, that's their look-out.

    What happens if a Yes vote is carried but Westminster ignore it? Actually, I shudder to think. In those circumstances, I somewhat reluctantly agree that UDI might then be the only option. But, taking this line of thought one stage further, what happens if Westminster refuses to recognise the UDI? Do we start having to appeal to the EU/UN for recognition of our independence? What happens then if, as in the case of, say Kosovo, certain countries refuse to aknowledge us. Not scare-mongering, just thinking out loud as it were.

    Anyway, to summarise, my preferred route, should it be possible, is a 'Yes' vote at a referendum followed by a negotiated settlement that is arranged as amicably as is possible. (Not asking for much, am I? I appreciate that 'as amicably as possible' may well not be very amicable.)
    UDI, if it were to be an option, would be held as a weapon of last resort.

    One thing is certain, it's a thorny issue and I think there will be many twists and turns along the way.

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  • 285. At 9:01pm on 01 Jun 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #284 Fit Like?

    Life is a strange beastie. Don't be surprised if it comes about through none of those routes.

    Maybe the English will decide they want a quickie divorce?!!

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  • 286. At 5:06pm on 02 Jun 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    Wow! Wish I had ignored the sun and stayed at my computer all day like this lot!

    Fit Like?:"If we take current support for independence as bing around 45%, it may be a couple of points higher or lower, but the current figure from most of the polls quoted on here seems to give a figure there or thereabouts."

    This is always one of my favourite mistakes to correct. The last polls still put support for independence around the mid-30s, as it has been for the past few years. This includes the very latest which was a YouGov poll for none other than the SNP themselves.

    Add in the multi-options and the pro-independence support drops into the 20s.

    There was actually a Populus poll a month or so back that had support for independence at 23% (and that was without multi-option).

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  • 287. At 5:53pm on 02 Jun 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    Maybe we should have a referendum to find out if we want a referendum...?!

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