BBC BLOGS - Blether with Brian
« Previous | Main | Next »

Favouring reform

Brian Taylor | 13:40 UK time, Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Aren't those intriguing little suggestions re parliamentary reform?

I refer to the thoughts of both the Conservative leader and a Labour cabinet minister.

Firstly, David Cameron has chosen the Guardian in which to advance his reform agenda.

He favours more free votes for MPs and will look at fixed term parliaments which means the date of General Elections would no longer be chosen by the incumbent government.

Mr Cameron describes his package as a "massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power".

Must say it sounds a rather more modest set of proposals to me - with a dual purpose.

Firstly, he genuinely favours reform. He is a moderniser, at least partly disdaining the permanent adherence to established tradition which has customarily characterised his party.

Expenses 'brouhaha'

Secondly, though, he wants to paint the prime minister as the problem - and himself as the solution.

At all points during the brouhaha over expenses, Mr Cameron has sought to suggest this is a problem caused or presided over or neglected by the government, as distinct from parliament.

He has rather cleverly contrived to give this impression - despite the fact that his own MPs are at least as closely involved in the controversy.

The latest suggestion attempts to elide the gap between dodgy expense sheets and wider parliamentary reform.

In simple terms, fixed term parliaments and curbed whips offices would do nothing of themselves to stop MPs claiming money illegitimately.

They are different issues. However, Mr Cameron - again cleverly - blends the two together: suggesting only a General Election and subsequent reform can tackle the present abuses.

Logically, that is not the case. Westminster could and should act now, regardless of whether an election and a new government is merited.

Intriguing thoughts

But Mr Cameron is again giving the impression, entirely understandably from his point of view, that what is required to effect change and placate the voters is the ejection of G. Brown and the election of D. Cameron.

Secondly, the intriguing thoughts of Mr Brown's cabinet colleague, Alan Johnson.

Mr Johnson favours a referendum on PR voting for Westminster, to be held on the same day as the next UK General Election.

Is that a runner? For now, no.

But is it possible that Westminster, having adopted the Holyrood expenses system, might be about to adopt the Scottish Parliament's approach to voting too?

Not, I think, the particular Holyrood method. The list system, with top-up MSPs derived from regional party lists, has even fewer friends these days than it did when it was insisted upon by Labour in the Convention talks.

But Mr Johnson is certainly talking PR. Why? Presumably because he supports it, intellectually.

However, also, as with Mr Cameron, it depicts himself as the engine of reform, by contrast with the stasis of the present set-up.

Holding out

It is perhaps not, therefore, a direct pitch for the Labour leadership. But, just as with the previously voiced thoughts of David Miliband, it will scarcely be welcome in Number Ten.

Mr Brown wants and needs support from his colleagues. Not novel - or novice - thinking.

By contrast, it would appear yet again that his cohorts are envisaging life outwith the boundaries of a Brown government.

Further, though, is Mr Johnson holding out the prospect of a tentative future deal with the Liberal Democrats? My guess is yes.

For the Lib Dems, PR is the standing objective, stated in all cross-party talks. They secured it for the Scottish Parliament.

Paddy Ashdown was regularly tempted by Tony Blair into thinking it might be a runner for Westminster.

It was always ruled out previously by Labour self-interest and the intrinsic resistance to reform in substantial sections of the party.

Could that be about to change, perhaps because Labour's interests in a future hung parliament may point in a different direction?

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

or register to comment.

  • 1. At 2:10pm on 26 May 2009, vjangelo wrote:

    PR is a disaster. Anyone Italy mk2? Cameron's reforms ring true. Probably wil win out against the somewhat snyde tone of the BBC because the public want what he is selling.

    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 2:14pm on 26 May 2009, Aikenheed wrote:

    Little suggestions?? LITTLE suggections??
    To quote another blog](Guido Fawkes)
    He is advocating local control over schools, housing and policing with the right to initiate local and national referenda. More mayors; fewer quangos and open primaries for parliamentary candidates.
    Dave is promising something easily achievable, so long as he can change the secrecy culture in public life:

    Everything about our political process published online, all the time: the expenses, the spending, the lobbying, parliamentary proceedings, the lot.

    He seems to be going with suggestions from "The Plan" - basically he is streets ahead of Broon & Co - so that's it for Labour in England and we know who the alternative is in Scotland - the BBC scotland will too if you put a fiocus group together

    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 2:16pm on 26 May 2009, heskethpark wrote:

    I can't possibly take Cameron seriously about fundamental Parliamentary reform when he doesn't even mention the House of Lords and rejects PR. A charlatan I think and part of the problem.

    Complain about this comment

  • 4. At 2:18pm on 26 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Douglas Alexander caught breaking rules by claiming 5000 pounds for a makeover. He also used taxpayers money to pay for a private accountant.

    Westminster rules ban MPs from using public funds for self-promotion or public relations.

    He should resign as an MP now.

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 2:33pm on 26 May 2009, rog_rocks wrote:

    Dear Brian and all other BBC Staff,



    I have noticed with some interest that the BBC seemed to be very concerned about whether and if how much; the truth teller, John Wick, may have been paid for his revealing information.

    I am of the opinion that John Wicks money really has nothing to do with anyone, as this is; private money, paid to a private individual, by a private company for information that should have been; public anyway!



    Well, having some concerns of my own, it leads me to ask;

    Whether and if how much; the BBC, with particular reference to Scottish presenters, teams and chiefs, may be being paid to misrepresent, distract attention from or to keep schtum about;
    Scandals executed by Westminster government against our government, resources, people, and nation-state, Scotlands true financial position either with or without independence and with or without oil or with or without anything else and the extent to which it is ravished, imposed experimental dodgy taxes or laws, Scotlands peoples identity and constitutional opinion, the SNPs swelling support and success, the SNPs electoral position in the forthcoming European elections and the SNPs electoral position in the Glasgow North East by-election, whether or whether not it is a good idea to dump everyone elses nuclear waste in our hills or have old leaky nuclear subs full of radioactive weapons of mass destruction floating and sinking around in our rivers, our troops being sent to die on distant, foreign lands fighting someone elses illegal wars, secret documents released under freedom of information from Westminster vaults revealing the extent of collaboration and anti-Scottish policy, moving borders and boundaries around,
    Or even about the broad based, vast majority, public support for a referendum on whether Scotland should again become a sovereign, independent state?

    Perhaps Westminster is not the only place in need of reform!

    I did hear recently that one (relatively unknown) was receiving £93,000 p.a. + expenses for their services.

    That is by no means a small sum, nor a measly amount, of public money!

    A portion of this is reluctantly, forced, from my pocket!

    Could I have a breakdown please?



    Rog


    IXI
    l

    Complain about this comment

  • 6. At 2:34pm on 26 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    Interesting points. I think that it is obvious to everyone that David Cameron is doing what he has always done which is to speak a lot but say nothing. It is a good political stance, say nothing and you can't be accused of saying anything that may, at a later stage, jump up and bite you in the (please insert whichever part of the body you wish). I suppose that he is waiting for the Labour party to self destruct, which seems to be happening right now. David Cameron's article in the Guardian is full of ifs, buts and maybes. He writes:

    "We need to look seriously",

    which doesn't mean that he is going to do anything but look at it.
    He also says:

    "Proportional representation takes power away from the man and woman in the street and hands it to the political elites. Instead of voters choosing their government on the basis of the manifestos put before them in an election, party managers would choose a government on the basis of secret backroom deals. How is that going to deliver the transparency and trust we need?"

    And, of course, the system we have now is wonderful and there never are any backroom deals going on.

    As to Mr. Johnson, the first shots have been fired over Gordon Brown's bows.
    Interesting times ahead.

    Complain about this comment

  • 7. At 2:49pm on 26 May 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 5 rog_rocks

    Don't hold your breath on that one.

    Complain about this comment

  • 8. At 2:49pm on 26 May 2009, scottishrepublic wrote:

    Camerons half hearted efforts to appear as some sort of great reformer are a sham....Lets face some facts...Any English Tory has as much contempt for Scotland as New Labour still have...Both of these parties see us Scots as nothing except Voting Fodder...

    Lets not forget that the real improvements to Scotlands Political Future are through the re introduction of our unique Scottish Constitution that already guarantees the rights of the people above the political Servants we the people elect...

    Simply go to the SNP Website and read the proposed Constitution that will be decided by a vote by every Scottish Citizen...

    Why settle for second best from a foreign power...when we as a Nation can outdo it everytime....

    Saor Alba

    Complain about this comment

  • 9. At 3:00pm on 26 May 2009, Rabyrover wrote:

    You should also mention that Conservative reforms will end the over-representation of Welsh and Scottish MPs and equalise the size of parliamentary constituencies, as well as reducing the number of MPs. Equal voting would have given us a hung parliament in 2005 and not this disasterous Blair / Brown government.

    Complain about this comment

  • 10. At 3:14pm on 26 May 2009, Aikenheed wrote:

    # 3,6,8 quite right given Westminster credibility of late
    However DC seems to have stolen a march on Broon and from reaction to date has caught the nmood of middle England where the majority of MP's are - making a Tory UK govt more likely - so now the debate has moved on from corruption to reform 2 questions
    Brian - why are you surprised that a politician should try and politicise a debate or did you expect (wish) Tories to hang around and wait for Broon & co to "get it"
    Do the SNP have to climb on the reform bandwagon to protect their votes in scotland or will anti Westminster sentiment be enough?

    Complain about this comment

  • 11. At 3:20pm on 26 May 2009, buzzarris wrote:

    This is a typical piece of smooth PR from a smooth PR man; suggest "reforms" that won't affect him getting elected and that he can forget about after an election, but leave in place the guarantee that his party can be elected with a large majority on a minority of votes, ie. the First past the Post voting system. People forget that under this system we ALWAYS have a minority government in terms of votes. No wonder voters permanently dislike and distrust any government.

    Complain about this comment

  • 12. At 4:02pm on 26 May 2009, SchoolTieColours wrote:

    Who cares what Westminster Unionist politicians think. They've all got my distrust.

    Rog - We do not get clear journalism in Scotland. If we did we'd have been independent a long time ago................

    These men are Scottish but only in name - Angus McLeod, Glen Campbell, Alan Cochrane. They should hang their heads in shame at their utter shambolic lack of professionalism!

    Complain about this comment

  • 13. At 4:16pm on 26 May 2009, Wee-Scamp wrote:

    The only reform that interests me is one that hands independence to Scotland. Anything else is a sham.

    Complain about this comment

  • 14. At 4:24pm on 26 May 2009, jwm007 wrote:

    We all know why Alan Johnston is desperate for PR. His party is dead in the water. The PR system adopted by Labour for Scotland is a disgrace since it was chosen to make sure the SNP couldn't get a majority and to preserve Labour's rotten boroughs. And they have a cheek to describe the Westminster parliament as the 'mother of parliaments' Roll on democratic government!

    Complain about this comment

  • 15. At 4:40pm on 26 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    "David Cameron said a Conservative government would "seriously consider" the possibility of fixed-term parliaments".

    Would you buy a used car from this man?

    Complain about this comment

  • 16. At 4:49pm on 26 May 2009, Tom wrote:

    It's disappointing to see the Conservatives talk about radical reform, but fail to ensure a PR system for the Westminister Parliament which is far more democratic then First Past the Post, where minority rules all.

    It is also ridiculous that Italy is an example on why we should not use PR. What about Scotland and Germany? and the many other country's that use PR. Itlay has one problem. It's country is governed by many small parties but the UK is not in the same postion!

    Complain about this comment

  • 17. At 5:14pm on 26 May 2009, Leithwalker wrote:

    What about single tranferable votes in multi member constit's The UK imposed it in Northern Ireland. Most parties in the UK are made up of coalitions anyway. How many people would come out to vote if their vote would count In most parts many people vote for parties they do not beleive in simply to make sure that someone they dislike does not get in. This way you can actually get a chace to vote for what you believe and then transfer your vote.

    Complain about this comment

  • 18. At 5:32pm on 26 May 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    http://www.order-order.com/2009/05/jacqui-smith-fraud-hearing-scheduled-for-26-june-at-westminster-magistrates/

    Complain about this comment

  • 19. At 5:42pm on 26 May 2009, Wansanshoo wrote:

    Favouring Reform


    I am, as I suspect most are, in favour of reform, a growing number of MP's should be reforming in prison !


    Where are the police ?

    Wansanshoo.

    Complain about this comment

  • 20. At 6:08pm on 26 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #19 Wansanshoo

    We are seeing no police action whatsoever - thus not only are those who said: "they're only in it to line their own pockets" proved correct but also those who said: "one law for them and another for the rest of us."

    The real reform we need is for the thieves to be locked up and for criminal law to apply to everyone.

    Complain about this comment

  • 21. At 6:34pm on 26 May 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    A few musings on Parliamentary Reform, which has held my interest for a number of years. Feel free to argue or agree.

    1. All MP's and LORDS included should have at least 5 years experience in a vocation that has nothing to do with politics - I feel career politicians are the biggest threat to democracy and as the unionist comedian Billy Connoly once said "Anyone who WANTS to be a politician should automatically be BARRED from doing so!

    2. All MP's and LORDS should be proportionally elected by the electrorate - not by sitting politicians. Peers are the festering cancer of what was once the aristocracy. I will never believe that the UK is reformed untill Peerages are abolished.

    3. All MP's and Lords should openly declare thier financial assets before taking a seat in parliament and when they retire for it. If a member of parliament becomes outrageously wealthy during his 4 years in office - I want to know why.

    4. Agree to consult thier constituents, not their party on policies. I am tired of the partisan element of "backbench revolts" because people vote with something other than the whip. We elected these people, not the Labour, Tory or Liberal party - We should decide - via local assembly is nessecary - what policies we vote for and against.

    5. Agree to serve a maximum of 2 terms only - regardless of popularity. An important one - the career politician is the pinnacle of my ire. 8 years tops and then go and find another job. This would keep fresh blood and fresh ideas in stock - as oppopsed to "the status quo" we've all grown to detest

    6. Immediately comply to any FOI request in relation to thier conduct in office. I want to know what they are doing while I'm paying for them to represent me and my neighbours. It's only fair.

    7. Be gratefull that they are able to serve the public in such a way. In a few years time, who know's, we might one day celebrate our MP's as honest and decent people who inspired instead of disgusted people.

    GAberdeen

    Complain about this comment

  • 22. At 6:34pm on 26 May 2009, kaybraes wrote:

    All this squack about reform is the politicos' way of getting the attention away from their expences. Brown seems at the moment to be back in the bunker, not saving jobs or the world, but skulking in the dark plotting a final great counter attack, some hope. Anything that comes out of Alan Johnston's mouth has about the same credibility as what comes out of Miliband's ; zilch. It's not reform of parliament we need, it's full uncensored publication of MP's expences now, and a general election in 6 weeks time. Parliament is not the problem, politicians are the problem closely followed by unelected civil servants who make laws without recourse to the people. Local government should face the same (if any ) scrutiny and reform as parliament. Accountability is the biggest lack in politics in this country at both national and local level,and needs to be addressed.

    Complain about this comment

  • 23. At 6:45pm on 26 May 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    #15 bighullabaloo

    He said the same about the High speed rail link in Scotland - compare the two statements if you will;

    "The conservcative government - should it be elected will push through plans for a high speed train link from London to Manchester"

    Reporter - "What about plans for a high speed rail link in Scotland?"

    "We would like to see a high speed trail link from Glasgow to London, BUT at the moment we haven't got any high-speed rail and it's not going anywhere"

    And no, buying a used car off of him is right out.

    Complain about this comment

  • 24. At 6:53pm on 26 May 2009, Topher Allan wrote:

    Very clever of Mr Cameron. By creating the illusion of reform, he will put back real reform by decades. We are about to miss a great opportunity.

    Complain about this comment

  • 25. At 6:59pm on 26 May 2009, oldnat wrote:

    Anyone see the Party Election Broadcast supposedly from the Scottish Green Party?

    All they did was broadcast the English Green Party's version.

    Sad really, from a party that supports Scottish Independence.

    Complain about this comment

  • 26. At 7:17pm on 26 May 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/politics/Main-party-MEPs-will-take.5297694.jp

    Labour, Lib Dem and Tory MEPs and candidates confirm they will take an immediate 10,000 pay rise if elected to the European Parliament, in contrast to sitting SNP MEPs and candidates.


    #24, Agreed, I would just like to add that I think the really clever political move may have been pulled by Alan Johnson (demanding a referendum on PR - Alternative Vote Plus - at the next general election). Of course, Brown will probably still have the power to smush him back in to place for now, but all the same ...

    It should primarily be seen as intro of PR was in Scotland, of course: a cynical way of ensuring perpetual Lib-Lab Pact Governments.

    First the Scottish expenses scheme, now something very close to the Scottish Parliament's electoral system ... interesting times at Westminster.

    Complain about this comment

  • 27. At 7:23pm on 26 May 2009, Bruce wrote:

    David Cameron is grasping at the public mood and it will be interesting to see if he delivers the goods. There does have to be change in our system, and given the public mood there will be. To what extent change comes and if it is enough only time will tell.

    I would like to see PR brought into Westminster elections as it has, to some degree, revigorated Scottish politics. I would like to see less use of the whip, unlikely, parties are fearful of too many free votes. I also agree with fixed term parliaments, fixed terms for a prime Minister and if a prime Minster steps down then there should be an election to allow the public to decide who they wish to lead the country.

    Complain about this comment

  • 28. At 7:23pm on 26 May 2009, handclapping wrote:

    Brian
    The trouble with reform is:- where do you start?
    Only a voter in that constituency can be elected MP so MPs acually reflect their constituency, ie the original basis for which they were called to the English Parliament. No more Churchill for Dundee but is that a loss?
    Abolish the House of Lords / revising chamber so more care has to be taken in primary legislation so weakening rule by whip.
    Link MP pay to median salary
    Etc., etc.,
    Still no need for us to worry, we'll be free before they've got round to setting up talks to talk about it and then they can cut their cloth to suit their own circumstances

    #24 Kurisu
    The referendum is next year, it's a great opportunity, we won't miss.

    Complain about this comment

  • 29. At 7:25pm on 26 May 2009, Robabody wrote:

    Anent post 21
    GAberdeen - Like you I'm a great believer in practical experience being part of the remit of any prospective MP. Only I'd like to see the number of years being set at a MINIMUM of 10 in a real world job before the prospective candidate can be taken seriously. All other points in your manifesto I agree with - so providing you meet my 10 year rule, when are you standing?

    PS didn't superbroon (saviour of the world) go straight from UNI into the labour party machine?

    Complain about this comment

  • 30. At 7:29pm on 26 May 2009, googlehoo wrote:

    Re #25 Oldnat

    The Greens PPB was recycled :-)

    Complain about this comment

  • 31. At 7:52pm on 26 May 2009, bluelaw wrote:

    of course Cameron won't deliver. They're just waiting for the heat to go out of this issue then it's back to business. It's all heady non-commital bluster.

    Scotland's only real hope for change is independence. All else is a debilitating distraction.

    Complain about this comment

  • 32. At 8:10pm on 26 May 2009, Wansanshoo wrote:

    Reform.


    An opportunity for members of the public to report tax evasion to the relevant goverment authority.

    http://www.taxevasionhotline.co.uk/


    Wansanshoo.

    Complain about this comment

  • 33. At 8:54pm on 26 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Dissolve parliament now as more than half of them have played or abused the system.

    Have a general election on the understanding that they have 1 year to reform the system and in that year only essential projects to keep the UK ticking over should be allowed bar scrapping the olympics as bankrupt UK is too small and unfit to run it.

    At the end of that year (only normal 6 weeks annual holiday) a new system will of been debated till its coming out of their ears.

    The Electoral Reform Society

    Complain about this comment

  • 34. At 10:35pm on 26 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Peer spots the difference between male and female scientists

    No comment!

    Complain about this comment

  • 35. At 10:37pm on 26 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    Now the Deputy Speaker is at it!

    Flowers?

    How do they possibly allow an MP to carry out his political duties?

    Reform is critical.

    Allowable expenses (in my opinion):

    Food, especially if entertaining where there is a definite benefit to the country, be it diplomatically or economically.

    Accommodation where MPs who do have to travel to Westminster. But there should be a minimum attendance attached to this, including voting in debates.

    Travel, either to get to Westminster or on confirmed political business.

    Office expenses should be closely scrutinised. Arrangements should be made with companies that supply stationery and other office supplies via Westminster.

    No allowances for clothing, iPods, furniture, repairs, second homes or anything else deeemed frivilous.

    If MPs are serious about change, then laws should be passed and enforced.

    No excuses about "errors of judgement" or "overlooked" or "mistakes".
    Three strike rule: first offence, written warning; second offence, suspension from Parliament; third offence, barred from holding political office.

    The General Election is now not as clear cut, considering the number of Conservative MPs caught up in the expenses scandal. There are a lot of potential independent candidates out there who might just win.

    Complain about this comment

  • 36. At 10:41pm on 26 May 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    #29 Robabody

    Ok - you drive a hard bargain - 10 years it is!

    I'm not sure I'm cut out to be an MP - I can't abide hypocrisy and in politics it's rife.

    And your right, Broon went straight from University into politics - Didn't foray into economics like oor Eck did.

    I know who I'd have managing the purse strings ;)

    Complain about this comment

  • 37. At 11:11pm on 26 May 2009, U11769947 wrote:

    So the underlying polls are suggesting that all parties will suffer big loses from the public vote and the SNP advance has hit a brick wall and is about to come tumbling down.

    Ain't politics funny, when you ain't got a million to spend on campaigning
    and your part of a public vendetta against expenses claims.

    Independence at 17%. move on Nat's nothing happening soon!.

    Complain about this comment

  • 38. At 11:15pm on 26 May 2009, U11769947 wrote:

    Rumors are rife that the Nat's have an Independent "web-site" with' wait for it! 60, YES, a full credited 60 independent minds in the whole of Scotland.

    Now! is that nice....very nice....very very nice.

    Move along/

    Complain about this comment

  • 39. At 11:27pm on 26 May 2009, Tom wrote:

    #33.

    "Dissolve parliament now as more than half of them have played or abused the system."

    Is this a good enough for our Queen to become involved? You also have to keep in mind that we simply can not change rules or laws to then punish individuals (who were within the rules at the time). The Members of Parliament who made questionable claims will be judged by the people within their constinuency. The others who made illegal claims should be treated like a member of public and go to court.

    I am uncomfortable by the amount of individuals suggesting we punish Members of Parliament who were clearly within the rules but made over the top claims.

    If we do accept to punish Members of Parliament who made over the top claims then we have no defence whenever someone decided to change a law within this country, and then punish those who acted before this law took effect.

    It's like being stopped and punished for driving 1 mph below the speed limit.

    I also find it slighlty offensive by comments that suggest we punish those who made over the top claims. Do you feel that the voters are incapable of removing Members of Parliament themselves? If the voters are unhappy, they will remove their local Members of Parliament.

    "Have a general election on the understanding that they have 1 year to reform the system and in that year only essential projects to keep the UK ticking over should be allowed bar scrapping the olympics as bankrupt UK is too small and unfit to run it."

    This is ridiculous. You give an opportunity for either Labour or the Conservatives to switch from Government to Opposition in a short space of time on several occasions. How can businesses plan for the future when two political groups with traditionally opposite policies may be in or out of Government in a year? Then you are suggesting the Queen ensures that Parliament is dissolved again! The Queen, and monarchy should be kept out of politics as much as possible.

    The present Government (and opposition) should be given time to do their reforms. Then an election should be called where parties can either show what more they would do if elected, and it will also give a chance for the political groups to show the electorate how far they are willing to go to get back on our good side.

    It's going to be a real problem if we have elections ASAP and the returning Government (whoever it may be) be voted in by many promises of reform by no action taken once they're in power.

    Complain about this comment

  • 40. At 11:28pm on 26 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    David Boothroyd Initially nah!

    SNP hits out at outrageous cold calling from Labour

    "Labour refuted the allegations, claiming the calls were allowed because they came under a section of the regulations covering market research, which is permitted and did not encourage people to vote in a particular way."

    Complain about this comment

  • 41. At 11:37pm on 26 May 2009, U11769947 wrote:

    "I know who I'd have managing the purse strings ;)"

    I take it your a big fan of Mickey-Mouse! GAberdeen

    O' who's the leader of the nats' the worst there has ever been Mickey-Mouse /and 400 pounds on cheese!.

    Complain about this comment

  • 42. At 11:53pm on 26 May 2009, oldnat wrote:

    Will Patterson has an interesting set of analyses of the Boundary Commission changes for Holyrood in 2011.

    http://macnumpty.blogspot.com/

    Complain about this comment

  • 43. At 00:19am on 27 May 2009, U11769947 wrote:

    The reasons why the backside has dropped out of the Independence poll, are the people what security and peace of mind in these difficult times.
    When crime is on the rise and the world is still so shaky the people certainly don't trust the SNP with their very poor record on crime and security.

    There will be no referendum on Independence this side of 2050.

    Reform anyone...........

    Complain about this comment

  • 44. At 00:46am on 27 May 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #37 on
    It may have been something I eat but I haven't a clue what he's havering on at. If it's intelligible to you could you post, and I'll go to the doctors tomorrow and claim food poisoning.

    Complain about this comment

  • 45. At 00:55am on 27 May 2009, U11769947 wrote:

    #44 handclapping

    Dontcha mean edible! as he retracts those claws.

    Complain about this comment

  • 46. At 06:58am on 27 May 2009, Wee Archie Gemmill wrote:

    "The list system, with top-up MSPs derived from regional party lists, has even fewer friends these days than it did when it was insisted upon by Labour in the Convention talks."

    Sorry, can't let this one slip. On what basis is that claim made? As far as I've seen, people seem to be very happy with the Scottish system, as it delivers a Parliament in which every single voter's vote counts for something and is represented, compared to the FPTP system where roughly 70% of votes are worthless.

    As for our resident troll Mr Barker, I'll take that bet (no referendum before 2050). A thousand pounds sound good, "derek"?

    Complain about this comment

  • 47. At 08:19am on 27 May 2009, IsThisPravda wrote:

    Derek, as with all your posts you fail to provide a source. Please enlighten us as to where you plucked that piece of info?
    Furthermore, even you with your rabid anti-Scottishness, can surely believe that the independence vote has more than halved in two weeks?!
    Numpty.

    Complain about this comment

  • 48. At 08:23am on 27 May 2009, BoNG0_1 wrote:

    I think derekbarker should have went to bed last night instead of posting his last few un-informative posts... I think we will find out how the SNP fare, a week on Sunday.

    Unlike Derek, I actually think they may come out not too bad at all... Time will tell.

    Complain about this comment

  • 49. At 09:15am on 27 May 2009, sid the sceptic wrote:

    #46 rev Campbell,good morning, i must disagree with you re the list system. as we have seen already the more unscrupulous of our political classes like to differentiate between "real" MSP's and "list" MSP's. An MSP should simply be an MSP being paid the same wage.
    i fully support PR but the political class with labour & conservative in particular fear PR as it breaks their monopoly. it breaks their god given right to run the UK as they are the only 2 party's allegedly good enough to run the country.the last 20+ plus years in general and the last 20 days in particular proves that to be a complete load of nonsense.
    Sid.

    Complain about this comment

  • 50. At 10:00am on 27 May 2009, mvan99 wrote:

    The place is totally out of date in the 21st C and it shows in the trust that people place in it, even before this recent scandal (expenses) the public have lost trust in the place with the low turn out at most polls. Unless the majority of people actually are involved in the system then reforms that paint over the cracks will fail. Relocate the house to a modern building and turn over the Palace to the tourists, get rid of the old boys club that is the Lords, get real on expenses (no lining your pockets while the country is falling apart).

    Some of Cameron's sound bites appear a move in the right direction, but at the end of the day his party has too much baggage to regain the trust of Scotland again, although any thing would appear good after the mess that Labour has created (no excuses after 10+ years of power). Apart from reacting to the media where is our leader (or should that read follower), while thousands of jobs are being lost every week where are the real policies to fix the problem?

    A good start would be an early election..., if Labour are that scared of the people then they should not be in power.

    Complain about this comment

  • 51. At 10:04am on 27 May 2009, sid the sceptic wrote:

    greenock boy#4 ,morning ,with regard to my MP. the figure in the telegraph with regard to the cost of doing up his house was in fact £30,000. his house then suffered damage due to a fire, but he was under insured! (was that something he had to pay for himself???)
    I fully agree with the rest of your post.

    Sid

    Complain about this comment

  • 52. At 10:35am on 27 May 2009, tamO wrote:

    reform no, just get rid of Westminster and have only the scottish parliament

    Complain about this comment

  • 53. At 10:40am on 27 May 2009, brynt41 wrote:

    All voting systems have advantages and disadvantages.

    The big disadvantage with FPTP is that it gives large majorities to parties who got a minority of the votes cast.

    Here are some examples:

    1979 Thatcher: Percentage of the vote : 43.90% Con Majority - 43 seats
    1983 Thatcher: Percentage of the vote : 42.40% Con Majority - 144 seats
    1987 Thatcher: Percentage of the vote : 42.20% Con Majority - 102 seats
    1997 Blair: Percentage of the vote : 43.21% Lab Majority - 179 seats
    2005 Blair: Percentage of the vote : 35.30% Lab Majority - 67 seats

    The majority of those who cast their votes did so for other parties in each election. The 2005 election is a particularly clear example of how undemocratic the system can get. Effectively, the majority of the votes cast are disregarded in EVERY election. It results in an 'elective dictatorship'.

    One of the effects is that voters who live in constituencies where one party has a huge majority feel that its pointless voting. So they don't bother. Turnout falls. The result is even more undemocratic.

    These disadvantages can be eliminated by PR.

    PR's main disadvantage, or so its claimed, is that it breaks the link between constituency and member. STV does preserve a link.

    Democracy means 'government of the people, by the people, for the people'. FPTP fails on that score. Its government of the majority, by a minority. It only exists because of how the English/British political system evolved. The two party system pre-dated democratic elections. FPTP suits the two main parties as it guarantees each of them a turn in government sooner or later, without even having to persuade a majority of the electorate to vote for them.

    Hopefully, although I'm not at all confident, there may be a degree of reform as a result of the present crisis. If I were a gambler though, I'd stake 50/1 against electoral reform (ie the abandonment of FPTP) taking place if Cameron (or Brown) is elected or relected. If the outcome of the election is a hung Parliament with the LibDems/SNP/Plaid/Independents holding the balance, then its a possibility.

    Electoral reform is only part of the solution. The sovereignty of 'the Crown in Parliament' must be removed by having an entrenched written constitution (incorporating a Bill of Rights) and a supreme court with powers to strike down unconstitutional legislation. Both legislative chambers must be fully elected.

    I agree with Bryan, that Cameron's proposals are a weak fudge and are not serious constitutional reforms.

    Complain about this comment

  • 54. At 10:53am on 27 May 2009, brynt41 wrote:

    Scotland, and Wales, of course, could achieve radical constitutional reform in one fell swoop with self-determination. I believe that its virtually impossible for the English/British parliamentary system to even achieve such reform. There are too many vested interests to overturn the sovereignty of parliament.

    I also don't believe that a truly democratic system can exist under a monarchy. My main regret about the SNP and Plaid Cymru is that they are not republican parties.

    Complain about this comment

  • 55. At 11:04am on 27 May 2009, Wansanshoo wrote:

    Favouring Justice, then reform.

    Tax Prosecution and Criminal cases

    Its HMRC policy to deal with Tax Fraud and Evasion by use of the Civil Investigation of Fraud (CIF) procedures, in most cases. But HMRC have complete discretion to conduct a Criminal Investigation in any case. They usually do this where they feel they need to send a strong deterrent message or where they feel the case is so serious (heinous in their language) that only a criminal sanction is appropriate. Where a taxpayer is investigated using the Civil Investigation of Fraud (CIF) procedures (e.g. Code of Practice 9) but makes materially false disclosures then HMRC will often feel they have no alternative but to prosecute.

    HMRCs criminal casework is done by the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO); a prosecuting authority reporting to the Attorney General.

    Although HMRC is not a prosecuting authority itself, it still investigates under both Civil and Criminal codes, passing cases it wants prosecuting over to RCPO. In other words, HMRC is still a criminal investigation agency mainly via its Specialist Investigations and Civil Investigation of Fraud branches.
    HMRC has published its prosecution policy and at August 2008 it stated that it will generally consider Criminal, rather than Civil, Investigations in the following situations, amongst others:

    Materially false statements are made or materially false documents are provided in the course of a Civil Investigation;

    Deliberate concealment, deception, conspiracy or corruption is suspected;

    Using false or forged documents;

    Previous Tax Evasion offences or there is a repeated course of unlawful conduct or a previous Civil Investigation;

    People in positions of trust or responsibility (e.g. a company FD who is a qualified accountant, or JP);

    Reliance is placed on false or altered documents or material facts are misrepresented to enhance the credibility of a Tax Avoidance scheme;

    Systematic frauds where the tax evaded represents a serious threat to the tax base, including conspiracy.


    Where are the Fraud Squad ? ? ?


    Wansanshoo

    Complain about this comment

  • 56. At 11:13am on 27 May 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    #41 Derekbarker

    As I recall, Salmond was once a professional oil economist with the Royal Bank of Scotland - in fact he devised an oil price index that is still used by the RBS and BBC today.

    Fancy that! An imminently qualified oil economist touting the significance of Scotland's oil wealth - AS A POLITICIAN!

    I can totally understand why people would rather listen to the likes of a life-long-labour poster boy like Gordon Brown, or those "good breeding" Etonian toff's who like to scoff when someone calls Scotland a country.

    Between the two of those - who could probably never tell me the difference between a class 2 or a class 3 oil and gas metering system - I'd sooner place my faith in economics, oil or otherwise on Salmond.

    P.s. Alex Salmond is by far the best FM Scotland has had since Donald Dewar, so your comment regarding him being the worst Leader the nationalists have ever had is as laughable as it is pathetic.

    Complain about this comment

  • 57. At 11:21am on 27 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    21. GAberdeen: A few musings on Parliamentary Reform, which has held my interest for a number of years. Feel free to argue or agree.

    Mpleasure to oblige.

    1. All MP's and LORDS included should have at least 5 years experience in a vocation that has nothing to do with politics - I feel career politicians are the biggest threat to democracy and as the unionist comedian Billy Connolly once said "Anyone who WANTS to be a politician should automatically be BARRED from doing so!

    Id also like to add they should be qualified to Masters level or above.

    Id also prefer to remove the necessity of having only Parliamentarians in the executive as that prevents a considerable pool of talent from being in government. A PM should be able to appoint anyone to a Cabinet post, albeit obviously with Parliaments approval, without having to dish out a life peerage. I occasionally wonder about separating executive and legislature even more by having direct elections for the PM from candidates put forward by the Commons parties

    2. All MP's and LORDS should be proportionally elected by the electorate - not by sitting politicians. Peers are the festering cancer of what was once the aristocracy. I will never believe that the UK is reformed untill Peerages are abolished.

    Not a fan of PR or AV at all and the Italy et al examples still stand. FPTP allows for strong and effective government in what is a fast-changing world. Repeated legislative stalemates based on petty politics (as that will be the inevitable result) will slow the countrys ability to adapt to changing priorities and needs. I appreciate FPTP is less democratic than the alternatives but there are changes that could be made within the legislative process to counteract this (removal of the Whip, more power to committees etc.).

    As Ive suggested before, Lords should be nominated by an independent body based on achievement only, not on any association to individual or party. Take away the last few hereditary peers (politically nominated or not, they do not belong) and the Lords is solely composed of leaders from across a broad range of fields (eg. business, sport, the arts, public service, diplomacy, law, charities, religion etc.). Their experience and wisdom is a vital part of legislative oversight and it would be a tragedy to take them out of the process. Remove any party association, making them all cross-benchers, and you have the Parliamentary equivalent of non-executive directors which are so important to the private sector. As for term limits, removing the likes of Richard Rogers, Caroline Cox, Susan Greenfield, Peter Levine and Richard Attenbrough just because they have served 5-10 years would be a loss to all.

    3. All MP's and Lords should openly declare their financial assets before taking a seat in parliament and when they retire for it. If a member of parliament becomes outrageously wealthy during his 4 years in office - I want to know why.

    Absolutely. Although I believe this is already the case, or is very close to it, through the Register of Interests (or whatever its called).

    4. Agree to consult their constituents, not their party on policies. I am tired of the partisan element of "backbench revolts" because people vote with something other than the whip. We elected these people, not the Labour, Tory or Liberal party - We should decide - via local assembly is nessecary - what policies we vote for and against.

    MPs are already responsible to their local party supporters and run the risk of deselection if they ignore them. Parties can withdraw the Whip but its the local party that decides whether they continue as an MP. Also, look up the fast-growing Jury Team of independent candidates, a very exciting addition to the political landscape.

    5. Agree to serve a maximum of 2 terms only - regardless of popularity. An important one - the career politician is the pinnacle of my ire. 8 years tops and then go and find another job. This would keep fresh blood and fresh ideas in stock - as oppopsed to "the status quo" we've all grown to detest.

    Definitely two terms max for PM but there is a skill to being a political representative which we discount at our peril. The legislative procedure is complex in both the process and the structure of individual Bills. Each Bill is a convoluted legal product, by necessity, which requires skill to even understand, let alone critically assess. Also, new MPs will always need the guidance of the experienced. How many loopholes could go unnoticed through less-skilled oversight. See #2 for Lords term limits.

    6. Immediately comply to any FOI request in relation to thier conduct in office. I want to know what they are doing while I'm paying for them to represent me and my neighbours. It's only fair.

    Yep, a given.

    7. Be gratefull that they are able to serve the public in such a way. In a few years time, who know's, we might one day celebrate our MP's as honest and decent people who inspired instead of disgusted people.

    I still consider the majority of MPs as decent public servants and this glorious affair is systematically taking out those who arent. Im still curious as to why the head of the Fees Office has not been pulled up for allowing so many claims that so blatantly breach the published rules.
    Perspective is always handy in times like these. This abuse of expenses may be unpleasant and distasteful, but in comparison to Mitterand, Chirac, Belesconi, Bush plus large chunks of C & E Europe, S America, most of Africa etc, this really is a storm in a fine china teacup.

    Complain about this comment

  • 58. At 11:34am on 27 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    57. Who stole my apostrophes?!

    Complain about this comment

  • 59. At 11:43am on 27 May 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    #29

    So did Jim Murphy. So did Wendy Alexander (and Douglas). I well remember Tom Shield's scathing comments about "a wee lassie put in charge of much of Scotland without ever having had a real job".
    It's endemic in the colonial Labour Party in Scotland. National Union of Students to MP in one jump. A handful of smart-*rsed kids in charge of a gaggle of time served trade union worthies and safe ex-coucillors. That leaves all the power behind the scenes with the strategists in London HQ. Their power of patronage through the Leader's office and the tentacles of the tame trade union movement removes all power from individual Labour party members. That's why we have Iain Gray instead of Cathie Jamieson. Long may they continue to behave like this. The SNP is replacing Labour as the party that the ordinary people of Scotland see as likliest to reflect their opinions and ambitions.

    Complain about this comment

  • 60. At 11:53am on 27 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    54. brynt41: "I also don't believe that a truly democratic system can exist under a monarchy."

    Just what power do you think the Monarchy has over us nowadays?

    56. GAberdeen, this Oil and Gas Index is merely a collation of statistics and analyses into one product, not as special as some people like to make out. And is it still used? Last one I found was April 08.

    "I'd sooner place my faith in economics, oil or otherwise on Salmond."

    .........No, I won't. Not today, anyway.

    Complain about this comment

  • 61. At 12:03pm on 27 May 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    #57 Reluctant Expat

    A very thoughtful & balanced response - just what I was looking for - thank you.

    I have to disagree slightly on your emphasis on a Masters Degree education level. I have met a great deal of insightful and talented people who either didn't have the money or inclination to embark upon a university education - I myself studied through distance learning (OU) to attain my degree.

    If we allow only exceptionally well educated individuals into parliament - we run the risk of missing the fundamental principle of a parliament - representation for one and all.

    I conceed that in democracy, we suffer it's inherent drawbacks - A good example would be that through a single vote - you essentially give the village idiot's opinon the same regard as that of Plato or Marx.

    But personally - I feel that by overspecialising, we will breed in weakness.

    Complain about this comment

  • 62. At 12:15pm on 27 May 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    #56 Reluctant-Expat

    Yes, it's still used today.

    Hydocarbon accounting and allocation metering are probably the most intensive areas of oil economics on the planet. If you look into the FPS as an example (Forties pipeline agreement) there are well over 140 duty holders and asset companies who all contribute tothe system and all expect to get paid for what they produce.

    Couple that with the UK's almost dictatorial regime of oil and gas taxation (headed by the former DTI, now DECC)you have an economists nightmare and wet dream combined.

    I'd like to see the head of the DTI's Aberdeen office Douglas Griffin get a nod towards the Lords someday - for a man who's spent the better part of 40 years in the development and scrutinisation of hydrocarbon measurment systems - he's worth 10 Alistair Darlings and 20 Gordon Browns.

    Complain about this comment

  • 63. At 12:23pm on 27 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    Can someone please explain why any normal member of the public should now bother to obey the tax laws in this country?

    Any good lawyer can show a precedent where MPs who have failed to follow those laws have not been prosecuted for it.

    Complain about this comment

  • 64. At 12:33pm on 27 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    61, GAberdeen,

    Requiring a Masters may seem too restrictive but, as I said, Parliamentary legislation is extremely complex legal work and the country just cannot risk entrusting the inexperienced and unqualified with the vital job of oversight and supervision.

    Read through RIPA for an example, a most powerful piece of legislation that had direct consequences at the core of our democracy and civil rights - http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2000/ukpga_20000023_en_1

    Representation for one and all in the context you seem to suggest cannot be effective. Can you see your average man on the street spotting all the loopholes and potential for abuse in that little beauty?

    I wont even start on tax law!

    Complain about this comment

  • 65. At 12:35pm on 27 May 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 66. At 12:41pm on 27 May 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    #53, the serious problem with all forms of PR (especially in England) is it means the Liberals will constantly be in Govt. (rather like the default setting in Germany if there is no coalition) - this despite the fact that will likely remain the least popular of the 3 "big" parties.

    Rather undemocratic in that sense.

    #54 just because the SNP and Plaid are not Republican parties does not mean an independent Scotland (or Wales) would necessarily be a Monarchy. The issue has effectively been shelved until a decision can actually be made, when independence is achieved.

    Complain about this comment

  • 67. At 12:45pm on 27 May 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    #63 Bighullabaloo

    Your really are like a dog with a bone regarding MP's expenses. I can't help but point out that your usually casual and humourous posts have become a lot more acerbic in the last 6 weeks - co-inciding completely with the expenses debacle.

    To answer your question, no, I cannot explain why joe public should either vote OR pay tax, but you also know that to defy the law in protest won't get any of us anywhere.

    That newfound tenacity and vitirol would work well embodied in some letters addressed to certain MP's, no?

    Complain about this comment

  • 68. At 12:59pm on 27 May 2009, mightychewster wrote:

    #64 R-E and GAberdeen

    I'm with you on your proposals, yet I have to agree with GA on the masters front. Not all intelligent people bother going to university or studying later in life to attain higher qualifications

    R-E, I take you point on the legal side of things, but this is not the be all and end all of reviewing Bills. A lot of the work requires experience in a given field - and this is not always the law.

    May I propose that say a certain percentage of the HoL be elected/appointed because of their expertise in 'real life' and the others be appointed for their legal prowess. That way both roles will be fulfilled without closing the door to ordinary folk who have worked their way to the top of their game by hard graft and excelling in their field

    After all, we don't want politics only open to those that follow a set path do we? I am surrounded by highly (paper) qualified guys where I work and the reason I am here is that not many of them can actually do what they are qualified for in the real world!

    I have no degrees or higher education qualifications to my name, yet I consider myself to be at a very high level in my field. This has been acheived through hard work, and I don't consider myself to be unintelligent just because I chose not to go down the university route (yet some people do look down on you because you don't have a degree)

    Complain about this comment

  • 69. At 1:02pm on 27 May 2009, Wansanshoo wrote:

    Criminal proceedings would lead to reform !

    Should we really be engaging in a debate thrust upon us by the Bullingdon Club apologists, Cameron,nor his party have a mandate in Scotland.

    The Labour and Conservative & Unionist parties are proven, beyond any doubt, to be corrupt, surely criminal proceedings for tax evasion and fraud must follow?


    Can we have some justice prior to the reform please?


    Wansanshoo






    Complain about this comment

  • 70. At 1:03pm on 27 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    I've read both comments 63 and 67.

    My thoughts are that precedents are indeed in danger of being set, that's why we are now seeing articles that basically focus on the tax avoidance aspect of the scandal and not just the morally questionable nature of some of the claims.

    The new revelations that cabinet ministers have used taxpayers money to pay accountants is pretty damning. However how many of these ministers may have, as a result, claimed relief against costs for which they ought not to have.

    We may well witness a 'Capone Effect' where the shocking acts of corruption went unpunished but the apparently insignificant act of avoiding tax payments had massive repercussions.

    Incidently, how many people have noticed a subtle change from some Scottish journalists and pundits. They seem now to be belatedly acknowledged that the SNP will be the main beneficiaries of the westminster sleaze.

    Pathetically though, especially in Alan Cochrane's case, they are now reduced to pleading with the electorate not to vote SNP. No arguments in favour of Labour, Tories or Lib Dems - not even the Union, but merely begging the electorate not to vote SNP.

    It's funny, sad and pathetic all in one.

    Complain about this comment

  • 71. At 1:03pm on 27 May 2009, LYDIA-REID wrote:

    Dear dear dear, why are we all arguing about these two parties and what they mean to do in the future, we can be sure of one thing it will not benefit Scotland.

    Vote in Labour and they will find a way round any rules brought in to save public money on expenses. The guilty MPs will be found not guilty or one or two will be used as trophy "found guilty and gone to jail" to excuse the rest. We will have more of cameras, ID cards and any other means possible to cost taxpayers money and find out how often we use the computer, and speak to our family and friends instead of reading the "New Labour propaganda" or to find out how often we go to the loo.

    We will have a country full of immigrants using housing the NHS and police time because as finance improves the large companies will want a workforce again. Remember a great many who now claim benefits are people from other countries brought here to work and now have no jobs. The companies go under or cut down and the taxpayer is left to look after these people.

    We will have Bills losing all rights to our body even though it is proven in Scotland that advertising improves organ donation, which reminds me have all of the people on this website reading this gone to the appropriate website to donate your organs. You cannot expect to be given what you will not freely give.

    Vote in the Conservative party and the rest of the UK will lose its NHS as it knows it, it will be privatised and if the Conservatives get their hands on Scotland so will we in Scotland.

    Why not concentrate on the important issues and speaking to other people today and point out that our parliament has cleaned up pretty much all of the problems concerning pay and expenses.

    An independent Scotland can do so much more; at its helm, we have a real economist.

    At the very minimum, an everyday person on the street can submit a petition to our parliament, which has a more than fair chance of influencing our MSPs who are our lawmakers. That is true democracy, a lot to do yet a lot of changes to be made but with the right of choice over our own economy and total right of fiscal autonomy which will come from independence we will do better.

    Now that is worth concentrating on instead of Texas and promises about expenses.

    Next, we need to worry about the EU its expense system for MEPs and the money they cost us to make laws that allow prisoners in Jail to claim because the wee souls do not have a toilet.

    Then we need to ask questions about a person who sits at a desk in the BBC reading from a prompter who earns £92 K for doing so. If that is so, what do people earn for going to Texas.

    Complain about this comment

  • 72. At 1:13pm on 27 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #67 GAberdeen

    "you also know that to defy the law in protest won't get any of us anywhere."

    Who said anything about a "protest"?

    I merely pointed out there is now a clear precedent for breaking the UK tax laws without being punished for it.

    You can't explain why that should be possible because there is no way to explain it.

    That's precisely why no government tax lawyer could argue against it.

    If you want to censor what people say and how they say it on these blogs get a job with the BBC. Otherwise shut it.

    My "tenacity" as you call it is not "newfound" as any regular poster here will tell you.

    If people can't be "tenacious" about the biggest systematic fraud against the UK taxpayer in political history then what can they be "tenacious" about?

    Don't bother coming back with the usual "we must be polite and reasonable" armchair Ghandi nonsense.

    I'e heard it all before and it's a load of sanctimonious holier-than thou baldersdash.

    Complain about this comment

  • 73. At 1:14pm on 27 May 2009, Dougie MacDuibh wrote:

    Might be interesting to hear people's views on their own MPs, in comparison to how they might be judged through the lenses and interpretations of the media.

    Just reading the thought-provoking dialogue between GAberdeen and Expat, and wondering who their MPs might be, and how opinions of them had been affected. Care to let us know, chaps?

    Mine is Malcolm Bruce, who, according to the Telegraph's list "was able to claim thousands of pounds towards the running of both his London flat and his constituency home".

    [Oddly, the Telegraph's list includes some MPs solely on the apparent basis that they did not claim as much as they might have!]

    My direct experience and impression of Mr Bruce is as a good and diligent MP.
    I don't think he, for one, is 'tainted' by the expenses fall out, but probably more a definitive example of the 'average' claim pattern of many MPs.

    'Middle of the road' in all senses. Nice guy. Decent MP.
    Maybe just not a 'feiry' or radical enough politician, though, while, for me, as a believer in the core principles of Scottish self-determination, he's also the wrong political complexion.

    Complain about this comment

  • 74. At 1:21pm on 27 May 2009, brynt41 wrote:

    #60 Reluctant-Expat wrote:

    "Just what power do you think the Monarchy has over us nowadays?"

    Exactly! Neither you or I know what power(s) the monarch or royalty has. Its undefined. It wasn't defined in 1687-88 and isn't now. There are conventions, but no-one really knows what they are either.

    Just a few points-

    More insidious is:

    (1) the pervasive influence of royalty throughout the parliamentary and political system, and the media. Government ministers are ministers of the Crown. The interaction between th Queen and her Prime Minister are private. There have been countless examples of press and broadcasting manipulation to present royalty in the best light and to cover up their indiscretions, or worse.

    (2) that by its very nature, the monarchy is dynastic and persistent, giving rise to patronage.

    (3) that it represents the aristocracy and the privileged classes.

    (4) its historical and on-going interest in all things military.

    (5) that 'The People' - you and me - have absolutely no say in matters royal. They are unelected, and unrepresentative.

    (6) the link between Church and State embodied in the monarch (in England specifically) but in the entire UK through Church of England bishops being in the House of Lords.

    (7) that its essentially a feudal concept well past its sell-by date.

    Complain about this comment

  • 75. At 1:29pm on 27 May 2009, Gary Hay wrote:

    #72 Bighullaballoo

    Whoa there tiger.

    I wasn't criticising your opinon or promoting my own. I said what I thought - that if I decided tomorrow "shucks, i'm not going to pay any tax on my accountancy advice - even though I'm supposed to" I'd have to accept the inevitable consequences as a result.

    I don't know where you got the idea that I was having a go at you - I was actually encouraging you to put pen to paper and share your tenacious, (a compliment) angry thoughts with the powers that be.

    I welcome your input into Brians blog - regardless of wether our opinons conflict or nor (which they don't, by the way)

    There is however to need to leave civilty and reason at the door when we talk shop, is there?

    Complain about this comment

  • 76. At 1:31pm on 27 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #70 greenockboy

    "the apparently insignificant act of avoiding tax payments"

    We all know it's only "insignificant" when it's MPs who've been caught breaking tax laws.

    For you and me it's "extemely significant". In fact it's so "significant" they'd put us in jail and throw away the key for just looking like we'd done it, never mind if we actually did it.

    I for one have had it with these hypocrites demanding we obey laws they don't obey. And I'm not going to apologise for it.

    Complain about this comment

  • 77. At 1:48pm on 27 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #75 GAberdeen

    I see your #67 has been inexplicably censored.
    I didn't complain about it. I don't see any reason why #67 should have been censored. Maybe even the mention of a "tax protest" is against their brainwashing rules?
    As I said, I'm not suggesting any kind of tax protest, mass or individual. There is no need to "break the law in protest" because there doesn't appear to be any law that is actually enforced by the tax authorities. Ask Alastair Darling.

    Complain about this comment

  • 78. At 1:54pm on 27 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #75 GAberdeen

    "if I decided tomorrow "shucks, i'm not going to pay any tax on my accountancy advice - even though I'm supposed to" I'd have to accept the inevitable consequences as a result."

    Let's see if the above statement makes sense.

    We know for a fact some MPs have not paid tax on their accountancy advice.

    Please now enlighten us all as to what the "inevitable consequences" are of their doing that.

    I'm all ears.

    Complain about this comment

  • 79. At 1:57pm on 27 May 2009, derekthegrumpycleric wrote:

    Another good blog, Brian:
    Yes, David Cameron's "reform" package is a trojan horse for the Tory party's to get an early election that "Golem" Brown cannot win .... but Brian - quelle suprise!

    The wider issue is that First Minister Eck will do a somersault when Cameron and Co get into no 10 because there is enough anti-Tory sentiment north of Carlisle for Salmond to push for a referendum for an independent Scotland. I wouldn't be suprised when David invites Eton & Oxford chums into his cabinet and "frees" the uber-rich with tax breaks and completely dismantles the welfare state if my fellow Scots opt for independence.

    Oh well, a chance to be patronised,ignored and exploited by folk in edinburgh rather than London. Oh brave new world ....

    Complain about this comment

  • 80. At 2:03pm on 27 May 2009, sid the sceptic wrote:

    dougie-dubh #73 ,afternoon, i had a look on the Telegraphs LIST of all the mp's they have investigated SO FAR. the names of the MP's who have not ripped the bleep out of the system are not in bold text . the guilty who have had a field day are.
    unfortunately for my MP his name is up their in bold text second on the list, at the moment, due to his surname. The list is A-Z
    For someone who likes to regularly tell his constituents what a great job he is doing for the people of Paisley ,and taking credit for any devolved initiative's going, he is amazingly quiet.
    Now it appears he has been caught using public money to publicise himself & employing an accountant to do his tax returns for him - oops against the rules this time- bang goes that excuse!!
    My opinion of my MP has not changed one bit, never voted labour ,never will.
    Sid

    Complain about this comment

  • 81. At 2:16pm on 27 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    79. I detect a hint of the faintest whiff of suspicion that the Conservatives have actually spotted that this will be Salmond's post-election strategy and will have plans in place to respond accordingly.

    I also believe that responses are also in place for the flurry of nationalist rhetoric and claims that will inevitably appear over the next year.

    Complain about this comment

  • 82. At 2:31pm on 27 May 2009, Richard_the_Rogue wrote:

    Malcolm Bruce is my MP also and I clicked on his name in the Telegraph list. I do not find his expenses claims to be acceptable, though he is far from the worst. He has definitely gone down in my estimation and if I were a Liberal Democrat voter (which I'm not) I would probably withhold my vote.

    Complain about this comment

  • 83. At 2:38pm on 27 May 2009, portcharlotte wrote:

    Parliamentary reform? Alan Johnson the putative leader of the London based Labour Party is simply planning for life after Labour lose all their Scottish MPs. The prospect of holding power without Scotland over the long term ( ignoring current perturbations ) is weak so the PR proposal is intended to pave the way for a Lib-Lab pact as the means of opposing the Tories in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. When the so called major parties start putting in place their post-Scottish independence strategies the future looks bright.

    Complain about this comment

  • 84. At 2:44pm on 27 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

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

  • 85. At 3:39pm on 27 May 2009, Slaintmha wrote:

    Good old Brian - as usual batting for the 'wisnae me brigade', 'I was just doing what everyone else does', 'We haven't broken any law',etcetera.....

    Westminster, according to one of their own select committees, has failed the UK by concentrating too much power in itself, with devolution it has created a false idea about the purpose of Westminster (is it the UK or is it England it serves), because of the lies and obfuscation over extra territorial income (aka Scottish North Sea oil and gas)no one can remember why the Barnet fudge was set up in the first place or what the point of it is in the 21st Century.(Reminder to Labour members of said committee; Barnet was supposed to kill the SNP off).

    So surely Brian what 'Call me Dave' is rabbiting on about is the reform of the English Parliament at Westminster to bring it into line with the Scots, Irish and Welsh Parliaments. In doing so, the logical move will then be to either allow the Celtic nations to float free from Westminster hegemony or reform the House of Lords to become the elected UK Senate responsible for Defence, EU and Foreign Affairs. Northern Ireland may even decide to unite with Eire (that'll be when pigs fly and Gordon Brown admits he is a catastrophe of a Prime Minister).

    The bottom line is 'Call me Dave' is looking for a way out of the Conservatives' big black cloud - the Lisbon Treaty and its underlying core of the regionalisation of sovereign EU states - and the reform of Westminster may just do it until they are elected then the Tory right wing (aka UKIP) will start messing everyone around and 'Call me Dave' will understand exactly what John Major was going on about.

    Yes - UK Politics needs wide ranging reform but sorry 'Call me Dave' has neither the ideas or stomach to do what needs to be done.

    Complain about this comment

  • 86. At 4:00pm on 27 May 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    #71

    While agreeing with much of Lydia-Reid's I would counsel against accepting her rermarks on immigrants. At the last count I saw there were 9 immigrants in Scotland receiving benefits because of unemployment.
    Illegal immoigrants are different matter altogether and by definition receive no benefits (bar feeding when they are rounded up and locked up for deportation).
    Legal immigrants to this country work when they come here and generally go home when they have no work.

    Complain about this comment

  • 87. At 4:12pm on 27 May 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    Pay all MPs the same - including Government Ministers and even the PM - in return for them devoting most of their time to Parliamentary/Governmental jobs.

    The salary should be at least double what it is now, but with NO allowances for any expenses, other than that those representing constituencies outwith the M25 should be paid a FIXED amount towards accommodation: if their chosen house costs more, then they have to pay the difference themselves; if they can get it for less, they can 'keep the change.'

    What the amounts are is largely immaterial, provided everything is open and above-board.

    Personally, I think that fewer than 100 of the current Honourable [cough] Members are fit to participate in government...

    ...but the party machineries will prevent us from getting a real choice.


    There aren't many things good about the American political system, but primary elections are one: the people (or at least the party's supporters, whether or not they are members) get to choose which of the putative candidates runs in the general election.

    Complain about this comment

  • 88. At 4:16pm on 27 May 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    The second home allowance is obviously where much of the jiggery-pokery has been going on. I am surprised at the wall of silence that has decended in our press over Alistair Darling's "flipping" on this (on four occasions apparently) with very large five figure sums of money involved while the press goes into a frenzy over some other MPs stupidly venal and frankly tiddley little fiddles for luxury household items and chocolate bars.

    I note for instance from other blogs that LibDem MP Alan Reid has us paying for a second home about twenty miles from his main one but in the same constituency. As the second home allowance is designed to let MPs have a small pad somewhere within commuting distance from the Houses of Parliament to save us from paying substantial hotel expenses for them I don't see how having two homes fairly close together in Argyll does this.
    Presumably we pay Mr Reid's hotel expenses AND his second home allowances. On what grounds is the question.

    Complain about this comment

  • 89. At 4:24pm on 27 May 2009, googlehoo wrote:

    Re #81 Reluctant-expat

    I'll be interested to see what Dave and his chums have planned to deal with the 'flurry of nationalist rhetoric and claims', but I wonder if the nats will have a plan in place for the blizzard of lies, damn lies and dodgy statistics that will 'inevitably' appear from Westminster over the next year.

    Oh that's right, it's just business as usual for the unionists, so I don't suppose the nats will have to change anything .....

    BTW, interesting that you believe that 'responses are in place'. You seem to be very well informed as to the strategies of the Tories. Could you be a closet Westminster Tory?

    Complain about this comment

  • 90. At 5:30pm on 27 May 2009, DougtheDug wrote:

    Mr Cameron's, "massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power", can be summarised thus:

    1. Fixed term Parliaments
    2. 10% Less MP's
    3. Same Size Constituencies
    4. Better publishing of information
    5. Less vote whipping
    6. Bill Timetabling
    7. Choosing of chairmen and members of select committees by backbench MP's.
    8. Limit Royal Prerogative
    9. Openess on expenses for Civil Servants over £150,000 and public spending over £25,000
    10. Less Special Advisers

    Which appart from fixed term parliament's comes to little more than tinkering with the size and procedures of Parliament and letting people know what the elite of the Civil Service claim in expenses.

    However, Mr Cameron...blends the two together: suggesting only a General Election and subsequent reform can tackle the present abuses. Logically, that is not the case. Westminster could and should act now, regardless of whether an election and a new government is merited.

    Logically that is the case. However Cameron is right. Nothing will ever be done while dither Brown havers at the helm. Only a new government can attempt to tackle the current problems in Westminster.

    If Alan Johnson is promoting PR he is very much looking at a coalition government with the Lib-Dems. If the last election in 2005 had been held under PR the present Labour government would not have gained 55% of the seats in the house which gave them an overall majority it would have only gained 35%.

    Alan Johnson may be talking the talk on PR but Labour will never walk the walk. Under the present system Labour and the Conservatives may have to take buggins' turn at running the country when the other party falls out of favour with the electorate but when they do get in they usually govern with a parliamentary majority. If voting patterns do not change under PR then coalition with the Lib-Dems will be only way to form a majority government for both the Conservatives and Labour for the forseeable future which for both of them is much worse than buggins' turn system it would replace.

    Labour self-interest and Conservative self-interest will see that PR never gets a foothold in Westminster.

    By contrast, it would appear yet again that his cohorts are envisaging life outwith the boundaries of a Brown government.

    If any of his cohorts still envisaging life within a Brown government then their ability to plan ahead is limited to less than a year. Any Labour politician who is not planning how to cope in Parliament as an opposition MP or how to cope with life outside Westminster and the Parliament is living in a happy private world of their own.

    Complain about this comment

  • 91. At 5:43pm on 27 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Sympathy cards required

    To discount 1 persons view that a few MPs have abused the system.

    Up to date numbers

    17 Lib Dems
    68 Concs
    107 Nulabs

    192 out of 646 MPs and still over 50% still to be investigated.

    MPs' expenses: more than 100 MPs could be forced to stand down, says union boss

    http://www.google.com/search?q=The+Electronic+Police+State&hl=en&sourceid=gd&rls=IRFA,IRFA:2009-06,IRFA:en

    Complain about this comment

  • 92. At 5:56pm on 27 May 2009, ForteanJo wrote:

    #64 - "Can you see your average man on the street spotting all the loopholes and potential for abuse in that little beauty?"

    There is no denying that legislation is complex but doesn't that call for legislation to be simplified rather than barring anyone who doesn't have a law degree from becoming an MP?

    After all, many of our MPs ARE qualified lawyers, and it still takes courts and judges to decide what the legislation written by these MPs actually means.

    Complain about this comment

  • 93. At 6:10pm on 27 May 2009, northhighlander wrote:

    Re 79
    The sad fact is that you are completely right. For rural Scotland it will just be situation normal. Nobody has the vision to offer a new arrangement that really decentralises power. That is because all politicians want more control, whatever party they stand for. Giving up power requires real leadership, something we just don't have.

    Complain about this comment

  • 94. At 6:17pm on 27 May 2009, ForteanJo wrote:

    #81 - " the Conservatives have actually spotted that this will be Salmond's post-election strategy and will have plans in place to respond accordingly."

    Call-Me-Dave doesn't have any strategy for Scotland post the next GE and has no interest in developing one. Scotland is a lost cause as far as the main body of the Conservative Party is concerned. Maggie just got Scotland disasterously wrong, not because she hated Scotland (I don't buy into all that demon spawn rubbish) but because she didn't understand that Scotland isn't North Britain and England and Scotland are two very different places.

    Oh, I'm sure he'll shed a (very small) tear at the breaking up of the Union but the Conservative masses will not miss Scotland (although that may change depending on the financial impact) and Cameron knows the same as everybody else that there is more change of a Conservative majority at Westminster if the Scots aren't involved anymore.

    Alan Johnson, who's telling everyone the electorial reforms he'd bring in if he was prime minister whilst insisting he's not making a leadership bid, is simply calling for self preservation. At this moment in time, independence for Scotland in the next 10 years or so is as likely as the sun rising tomorrow. Only a few labour die hards, in denial after absorbing NuLab lies for so many years, continue to insist this isn't the case.

    Complain about this comment

  • 95. At 6:39pm on 27 May 2009, ForteanJo wrote:

    #86 - "At the last count I saw there were 9 immigrants in Scotland receiving benefits because of unemployment."

    Not disagreeing with you, snecked, I'm simply clarifying your assertion before some pedant sets you up for a strawman shoot down:

    Most immigrants (and again we'll stick with the legal variety for simplicity) in Scotland come from what are known as A8 & A2 European countries. What this means is there are various hoops that must be traversed before receiving means tested benefits. So although the actual number of immigrants in Scotland receiving benefit is more than 9, the number over 9 have worked sufficiently in this country to have paid into the system and are fully entitled to receive something in return. A8 nationals, which would include people from Poland for example, aren't counted any different from any UK national when it comes to these contributory based benefits. A8 nationals who haven't paid enough into the system are referred to a central unit (AFAIK this is in Wick) who decide on the entitlement to means tested benefits and collate the figures.

    Of course, it should be remembered that some people that you and I may consider as immigrants are not counted as such by the Government for legal purposes (i.e. Franch, German & Spanish nationals) and could be in receipt of means tested benefits without being counted.

    On the other hand, A2 nationals (i.e. Romanians and Bulgarians) are largely subject to employment restrictions and are, therefore, not entitled to any benefits through unemployment, regardless of how much they've paid into the system.

    And people from outwith the EU are a whole different kettle of fish!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 96. At 7:00pm on 27 May 2009, ForteanJo wrote:

    #87 - "The salary should be at least double what it is now, but with NO allowances for any expenses,"

    An MP's annual salary is currently £64,766. The fact that the beeb pays some no-mark roving reporter £92,000 isn't an argument that MPs' pay should be increased, it's an argument against the largesse that obviously exists at the beeb. A licence fee freeze for the next 10 years is the obvious solution to deal with that.

    But paying our MPs over £129,000 per annum isn't an answer to anything. We currently have MPs that are out of touch with their electorate, serve simply as lobby fodder for their party, have no idea the problems, especially financial, that much of the population in the UK are struggling to deal with. Don't forget that it's only a few years since they voted themselves a 40% pay rise (okay, the economy was performing well) but they showed just how out of touch with the man in the street they were when they grabbed a £1500 pay rise a couple of months ago. The economy is going down the tubes (and has been for a while) but they are feathering their own nests with pay rises most of us can only dream of.

    No, the solution to the problems with our MPs is actually the opposite. Half their wage immediately. There will be a mass exodus but those that stay will stay because they believe in the job, not in grabbing everything they can.

    Complain about this comment

  • 97. At 7:03pm on 27 May 2009, Tom wrote:

    Reluctant-Expat:

    I have to agree with other posters here. The Westminister Parliament is suppose to represent British society, but by only allowing those who have been educated up to a certain level then this would barr many from standing for Parliament.

    It also takes power away from the people because I am now forced to vote for certain individuals who may not have the right ideas compared to another, without the educational standards required.

    I'd also point a finger towards Sir Alan Sugar. If a man who was not as highly educated as some, eventually become one of the most wealthiest men in British society then perhaps we should not cast aside those who you believe to be unable to be a Member of Parliament.

    Last but not least. I see you are using the line that a person may not understand the complex issues that are taken before Parliament. However most Members of Parliament belong to larger groups and have many friends. The chances are they will stick together and discuss he matters first hand with one another. This gives the Members of Parliament who may not understand a certain issue a chance to ask questions in private.

    Complain about this comment

  • 98. At 7:32pm on 27 May 2009, enneffess wrote:

    Since when did having a degree make an individual an ideal candidate to become an MP or MSP?

    I have an HNC (gained a few years ago after bombing out of uni as a teenager) and have also worked in graduate recruitment. Many graduates do well and become excellent workers.

    However, quite a few do not. The ability to learn is different in some cases with the ability to apply what you have learned.

    And our democracy allows any individual to rise to the position of prime minister/first minister.

    Placing educational barriers is not a good idea.

    Certain cabinet positions however should have minimum educational and/or specific experience.

    Complain about this comment

  • 99. At 7:55pm on 27 May 2009, NCA999 wrote:

    A few random thoughts before the football.

    I think it's a fair criticism to say that PR is not perfectly representative and frankly less effective. The way that coalition governments can form, in the UK what would happen is that either the Tories or Labour would be in power supported by the Lib Dems results in one party that got a tiny portion of the vote having disproportionate power.

    I'm sure there are plenty of people who dislike the fact that the Lib Dems were in government for two, and possibly three, of the last Scottish Executives, when they came I think 4th place in these elections.
    Similarly there are probably lots of people who dislike the fact that the SNP are in power with very few of their MSPs actually representing a constituency, through this ludicrous regional MSP system where we all know fine well, these MSPs represent/are accountable to nobody and are truly party whipping boys.

    That said I do quite like the idea of STV in westminster elections, ensuring that there is one member one seat but also ensuring that it's the most representative person who gets elected. There are lots of problems with this system, but it seems to me to be the least rubbish.


    A few random things, I would defend Alan Reid in saying that Argyll and Bute is a geographically impossible constituency to navigate if you don't have a car to drive back late at night and so if you are having to travel to all the towns and islands for work regularly and don't drive you will incur lots of expenses. I don't know the details but as with many expense scandals that we've heard the last few weeks I feel this one is a tad out of context.

    I really like some of Camerons suggestions, reducing the power of the executive and returning it to the MPs is something that I think would be a brilliant idea.

    On a number of the suggestions I've read here I agree with a lot of them, the experience point could be done by putting an age limit on MPs, ie you must be 30 to join. As a student I can tell you that this would get rid of a large number of the greasy climbing pole people that I know of who exist in equal numbers in the tories/SNP/labour/lib dem parties.
    I disagree passionately however with the idea of educational requirements. The principal behind representative democracy is that we are able to elect the most representative person. Mining villages were, I'm quite sure, not interested in electing someone with a MA in Philsophy that used to live in their town and more interested in electing the guy who was a vocal member of the community, that would stand up for their rights and knew what the local issues were.


    As for the few typically pathetic posters who could convince themselves a debate about the colour scheme of the BBC website was a debate about independence I say this. No Independence is not "inevitable", note the fact that it's never had majority support in any polls ever, note the fact that the SNP have never won majority support, despite gaining increased backing by those who don't support their main cause but just hated labour.
    Failings of the system are exactly that and should be corrected. Expense problems are not an example of why Britain is bad, we had expenses problems in Scotland too. Bad policies in London are not a reason why Britain is bad, we get bad policies in Scotland too. They are a reason to vote for a different party at the next election and change the policies, not to break up the country. Stop jumping on ever horse you see and trying to claim it backs your cause simply because the public don't, it's very tiresome.

    Complain about this comment

  • 100. At 8:12pm on 27 May 2009, ForteanJo wrote:

    #99 - So believing independence is inevitable now makes me pathetic does it? As I've said before, I'll say again: "Only a few labour die hards, in denial after absorbing NuLab lies for so many years, continue to insist this isn't the case." You illustrate my point perfectly.

    Complain about this comment

  • 101. At 8:20pm on 27 May 2009, inmykip wrote:

    #99 "Failings of the system are exactly that and should be corrected. Expense problems are not an example of why Britain is bad, we had expenses problems in Scotland too. Bad policies in London are not a reason why Britain is bad, we get bad policies in Scotland too. They are a reason to vote for a different party at the next election and change the policies, not to break up the country."

    The system has failed Scotland for years, when do you suggest it will be corrected, the next parliament, the one after that, or never? Bad policies from London ARE a reason why Britain and Scotland is bad. They are a reason to have an independent government and for better or worse take control of our own decision making. If you are hoping for Westminster to change its spots I suggest it will be a forlorn hope.

    Complain about this comment

  • 102. At 8:36pm on 27 May 2009, inmykip wrote:

    #97 I think we ought to remember that many of those MP's identified as having 'questionable integrity' are indeed quite well educated. I think demostratable personal integrity must be one of the prime requirements for an MP. Maybe psychological profiling would help eliminate the 'chancers'.

    Complain about this comment

  • 103. At 8:42pm on 27 May 2009, Peter1970 wrote:

    # 99. "No Independence is not "inevitable", note the fact that it's never had majority support in any polls ever."

    WRONG WRONG WRONG!

    Everybody with the slightest interest in Scottish politics remembers the ,"Great Debate," of February 1992 when Alex Salmond squashed wee geordie robertson in the Usher Hall.

    The opinion polls taken following said event showed 52% support for freedom.
    The Unionists have learned from their mistake and such an open debate has never been repeated and the results are airbrushed in true Nazi/Stalinist fashion from the pages of BBC history.

    It happened. It led to the return of the Scot's parliament. And you are shown to be a typical onionist fool.

    Complain about this comment

  • 104. At 8:43pm on 27 May 2009, handclapping wrote:

    Brian
    No-one, let alone CMD, seems to have thought through his wonder "reforms". Reduce MPs by 10% to 600 ( 7%) means his Equal Sized Constituencies are 100,000 people each, 60 million / 600. Fife, like Gaul, divided in three parts, Ok, but Shetland, Orkney, Caithness, Sutherland and the Western Isles as one constituency?

    Complain about this comment

  • 105. At 8:46pm on 27 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    #99. NCA999

    Election massacre looms for Labour in the east

    They are looking for a new editor.

    Complain about this comment

  • 106. At 9:09pm on 27 May 2009, JoeMiddleton wrote:

    Like a modern Wolfie 'Citizen' Smith David Cameron thinks all he needs to do is raise his fist and shout 'Power to the People!' and we will all believe he wants to reform the UK parliament.

    Just how thick does he think we are?!

    I'm sorry, but the Conservatives have been on the wrong side of any political reform for their entire history as a political party. The clue is in the name!

    Labour and Conservatives have nothing to choose between them. Both have MP's who have been guilty of fiddling their expenses and both share the same right wing agenda. Both support the pointless Trident II and both believe that being the puppet of America makes Britain great.

    In my opinion four basic points are required to begin genuine reform of Westminster:

    1) Embracing genuine electoral reform. The first past the post system inevitably leads to untouchable, unreachable, unpopular Government.

    2) Abolish or elect the House of Lords

    3) force MP's to drop all outside interests as soon as they enter parliament

    4) Remove the oath that stops honest republicans from entering the British parliament.

    We in Scotland can do better and we would do with independence.

    If we can't reform Westminster we can easily enough remove it's influence altogether.

    Complain about this comment

  • 107. At 9:33pm on 27 May 2009, Dougie MacDuibh wrote:

    #103 Superb post!

    No-one should forget that event, the hapless defencelessness of the then Secretary of State against the performance of the SNP leader, and the subsequent panic to 'bury' any such opportunity even to debate independence, representing the democratic 'threat' to the dead hand of unionism that it does, now more than ever.

    #106 Kudos, Joe! See you Friday!

    Alba gu Brath!!

    Dougie

    Complain about this comment

  • 108. At 9:51pm on 27 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Tory MP Sir John Butterfill paid no tax on £600,000 house profit

    "At the time, he designated a small flat in his Bournemouth constituency, bought for £56,000, as his main home.

    When he sold the country property for £1.2 million in 2005, however, he informed HM Revenue and Customs that it was his primary residence, meaning he was exempt from capital gains tax."


    Westminster will never change as it is too entrenched in tradition no matter what rhetoric is being peddled by any of the main party leaders, its just tinkering at the edges to try and subdue the masses.

    Complain about this comment

  • 109. At 10:23pm on 27 May 2009, Brian Hill wrote:

    Excellent post rog-rocks. It's impossible NOT to be impressed with Gordon Brewer's sudden interest in all things anodyne for his 11pm Newsnight. These unionist BBC wallahs will discuss anything on earth rather that their London Labour MP chums ripping us all off........all within the rules of course...well almost all.

    Happily the news is still getting out to the voting public as the polls testify.

    Complain about this comment

  • 110. At 10:24pm on 27 May 2009, Brian Hill wrote:

    I've been posting here for about two years, how OLD do you have to be?

    Complain about this comment

  • 111. At 10:50pm on 27 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    A Euro Election debate on Newsnight Scotland tonight. Labour are in freefall and things are looking desperate for Unionist parties at the moment.

    I am therefore concerned about such BBC controlled debates recalling the dreadfull attempt by Glen Campbell to hijack John Mason during the Glasgow East debate and the subsequent false accusations made by Mike Dailly that were broadcast before a similar live debate.

    Brewer is head and shoulders above Campbell of course, but isn't immune from subtle partisanship.

    I wonder if Unionist claims regarding 'saving banks' will make an appearance along with 'arc of insolvency' falsehoods.

    Let's wait and see eh?

    Complain about this comment

  • 112. At 10:54pm on 27 May 2009, Dougie MacDuibh wrote:

    #99

    One could debate every point of your post, but frankly, I barely know where to start.

    First, the Holyrood proportional system was deliberately set up against the SNP. Had the case been otherwise, they would likely now have more than one seat of an advantage. Typically, having won on the terms of the unionist system, we find unionists criticising the SNP for having "too many PR seats"!!!

    Have previously made the same points myself re Argyll and Bute, and there are other remote Scottish constituencies worthy of the same consideration.
    However, the expenses scandal has badly exposed long-term systematic abuse of a hereditarily invidious Westminster system that inherently promotes such abuse through rank privilege, greed and self gain.

    Of course, one would have to be blind, daft or a hopeless Westminster sycophant to believe that all parties have "equal numbers" of such MPs - not least when the actual figures speak for themselves.

    Incidentally, the SNP has 7 MPs, none under 30, and none with anything to hide re expenses. Of course, they are not all 'above reproach', but their few ill-advised claims are a far cry from the ranks of the thoroughly shamed in the 3 London parties.

    Finally, the familiar unionist cry of protest against the "few" who populate this and other Scottish blogs with the strong belief that our nation is moving forward through an exciting and challenging period of the vital, age-old struggle for our national sovereignty.

    Do you seriously believe there are any political topics that are entirely unrelated to our smoldering constitutional status, and this irresistable period of its evolution, and that the People of Scotland, many of whom are warming to our belief in a stronger, brighter, self-confident future, should just belt up and toe the line until our unionist masters authorise our (censored) opinions???

    That ridiculous notion only harks back to the reluctant 1992 participation by the (then) future Lord Robertson in the "debate" with Alex Salmond, mentioned above.

    And look what happened to your over-inflated unionist balloon there!

    Complain about this comment

  • 113. At 11:03pm on 27 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Didn't have long to wait:

    Newsnight debate intro has Brewer stating that the "main parties are afraid they'll take a hammering. We have the four of them here tonight"

    Yup, you've guessed it blatant attempt at including the SNP in the 'arc of corruption'.

    There follows a highlighting of MEP's expenses and a suggestion that they are 'extravagant'. Seems that Westminster has been forgotten about ... well not quite, the voiceover makes mention of claims for 'scatter cushions'.

    Can you guess the party who's MP made a claim for scatter cushions?

    Yes, that's right, the SNP - only a coincidence of course that this particular claim is mentioned.

    The debate begins in earnest and I have already had enough.

    Complain about this comment

  • 114. At 11:04pm on 27 May 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #110 BrianHill

    "how OLD do you have to be?"

    I'll tell you in 30 years time! Something might have changed by then!

    Complain about this comment

  • 115. At 11:23pm on 27 May 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    #110. BrianHill

    Older than the Pyramids it seems!

    Complain about this comment

  • 116. At 11:27pm on 27 May 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    #99

    Ypu have to factor into these thoughts the fact that the electoral system adopted for the Scottish Parliament was devised primarily to prevent the SNP ever getting a majority in it.

    A much more suitable method of electing with a strong proportional element would be a multi member constituency arrangement like we have now for council elections but the SNP could actually even gain an absolute parliamentary majority if this was in place (though it would be extremely difficult).
    Efforts to frustrate the SNP in its pursuit of independence only work in the longer term if the present three unionist parties remain exclusively unionist. This is far from guaranteed.
    I think the plight of Scotland's LibDems at the moment is particularly interesting.
    Their support which has little connection with the old Liberal support base has very little ideological propulsion and tends to consist of people who are unhappy with the major parties but feel obliged to vote. At the moment lots of this support appears to going towards the SNP and quite a lot of it back to the Tories.
    I suspect their Euro result will be dire.

    Complain about this comment

  • 117. At 11:38pm on 27 May 2009, ForteanJo wrote:

    #103 - Yep, whilst the historian C.Northcote Parkinson said, "Delay is the deadliest form of denial", delay is the only tactic left to the Unionists, whom none of which can offer a decent argument for the continuing existence of the dying and decaying institution that is the United Kingdom.

    So they'll keep repeating their lies - "Scotland's too wee, too poor, too stupid", "no one supports independence", "the Union dividend", and so on.

    Luckily, more and more people in Scotland see through the lies.

    Complain about this comment

  • 118. At 00:00am on 28 May 2009, NCA999 wrote:

    Why exactly are all you Nationalists claiming that an expenses scandal is reason to leave the UK, but reason to get more involved in the EU, where the expenses abuse is worse?

    Complain about this comment

  • 119. At 02:46am on 28 May 2009, Tom wrote:

    NCA999:

    I'd first like you to retract part of your comment. "Why exactly are all you Nationalists...", quite unfair to place nationalists all in one basket, right?

    You've also missed an important factor. The individuals who are using the expences scandal have always believed the Westminister Parliament to be corrupt and spoiled. This does not suggest that these individuals are nationalists or have been supporters of independence. I suspect much of the public are embarressed and disgusted by the London Parliament, and let's not pretend that this entire matter will blow over soon. The public are angry and may wonder why for example, the London Parliament can not be as open as Holyrood or why the London Parliament has allowed the system to be open to abuse then of course let's not forget the bill we also paid when the same Members of Parliament attempted to stop their claims coming to light in the first place.

    The public are angry, many may consider independence to be a better option because who honestly believes in our London Parliament thesedays? I bet very few will hold their heads up high to be associated with those lot.

    Besides 'Nationalists' who are involved in the European Parliament are open about their claims they make, but perhaps we should push for other British MEP's to release their details? I wonder what dirty secrets we shall uncover, I suspect we could deal another blow to our 3 large UK-wide politcal groups.

    Complain about this comment

  • 120. At 06:39am on 28 May 2009, Wansanshoo wrote:

    #118.NCA999

    We are in Day 21 of the revelations, with less than half our Mp's expenses published, it is, at this stage uncomparable on the basis that it is uncomplete.

    As for the E.U. 'expenses scandal', I simply do not recall our national newspapers condemning Euro MP's for this amount of time, however it must be said, the E.U. has it's fair share of corruption.

    It is only fair that I ask why Mr Brown dumped the manifesto promise on the E.U. referendum?

    So, for the sake of clarity let this scandal take it's course and then we can compare,however, based on the evidence and resignations thus far, it may be more comparable to Robert Mugabwe than the E.U.


    Wansanshoo.

    Complain about this comment

  • 121. At 07:14am on 28 May 2009, ForteanJo wrote:

    #118 - "Why exactly are all you Nationalists claiming that an expenses scandal is reason to leave the UK, but reason to get more involved in the EU, where the expenses abuse is worse?"

    No one is claiming the expenses scandal is the MAIN reason to leave the UK but it does illustrate that Westminster isn't fit for purpose and we need a radical overhaul of our democracy, not just tinkering round the edges. Our European neighbours are looking on with a mixture of awe, laughter and dismay. They actually wonder how the UK can claim to be a democracy. Many have already likened Brown's regime to that of Mugabe's, asserting that regime change is as necessary in the UK as it is in Zimbabwe.

    But once we have our fare share of representation at the EU parliament, we can get around to dealing with the expenses problems there. One corrupt parliament at a time, eh?

    Complain about this comment

  • 122. At 07:29am on 28 May 2009, Wansanshoo wrote:

    #118 NCA999


    It was of course famous nationalist Gandhi who warned against what he called seven social sins, namely politics without principle, wealth without work, commerce without morality, pleasure without conscience, education without character, science without humanity and worship without sacrifice.


    It is with these principals in mind, and the right to self determination that I vote for the Scottish National Party.


    Wansanshoo.

    Complain about this comment

  • 123. At 08:12am on 28 May 2009, Wansanshoo wrote:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5297606/MPs-expenses-Full-list-of-MPs-investigated-by-the-Telegraph.html

    On second thoughts, I'm not so sure Zanu Patriotic Front under 'Bob' Mugabwe's leadership is as well organised, or as cunning as both Labour and the Conservative & Unionist party.


    Wansanshoo.

    Complain about this comment

  • 124. At 08:13am on 28 May 2009, coineach watson wrote:

    I agree with GAAberdeen but I do not think that he goes far enough.
    1. Prospective MPs should be required to have lived in the constituency for (say) 2 years prior to seeking election. This would stop "Jobs for the boys" when an MP is defeated in one constituency and is immediatey offered a "safe seat" because he is a good "Yes man".
    2.MPs should not be permitted to have other employment or earn moneys outside Parliament. They are elected to represent a constituency and cannot do that effectively if they are off doing "other" things for their personal financial benefit (i.e. no directorships etc., etc.) Earning £65,000/pa is a good deal more than the average earnings of around £22,000 for the rest of us - anyway they only work 30 week per year.
    3. MP's wifes should be banned from parliamentary related work, such as sitting on Quangos etc., and being paid by the Government.
    4. All Political Parties should be banned as being non-democratic. Once voted in MPs immediately forget about their constituents and will only vote the way their political whips tell them to vote, irrespective of what the voters want. That not "democracy" being governed by a small clique with their own agenda - I would call that DICTATORSHIP and we had enough of that under Tony B Liar.
    Gordon Brown and David Cameron will promise that the electoral system will be reviewed, but remember that any "reviews" will be the minimum that they think that they can get off with. MPs will still have their noses stuck firmly in the trough of the public purse.
    All MPs and past MPs who have claimed anthing on their "expenses" to which they were not entitled to, and the "rules" should be closely reviewed to ensure only legitimate expenses are allowed, should be made repay the money together will compunded interest calculated from the date they were paid. Going back (say) 4 years is not sufficient either.
    On a final note, when a politician used the same phrases to describe something which is going to be done - BE CAREFUL - it is guaranteed it will mean something completely different from what it sounds. The old American Indian expressions springs to mind "White man speaks with a forked tongue" - so do MPs.

    Complain about this comment

  • 125. At 09:11am on 28 May 2009, IanDenton wrote:

    Referendum? Gordon will never accept a referendum on anything - it might open doors he's firmly closed: Scotland, Europe.

    Complain about this comment

  • 126. At 09:38am on 28 May 2009, sid the sceptic wrote:

    #124 Coineach - excellent post , anyone who thinks that CMD or Gordon doom will implement anything near to what they are saying right now will be very disappointed.
    certainly Mr Cameron is excellent at sound bites and telling the country what they want to here ,but will he deliver? what he wants to do is effectively turkeys voting for Xmas territory.
    less MP's , more control given to the Parliament and more removed from the executive, i fully agree that the prime minister & his or hers cabinet have way to much powers and can easily just ignore the wishes of the Parliament and of course us , the general public.
    Sid

    Complain about this comment

  • 127. At 10:16am on 28 May 2009, U11769947 wrote:

    A complete confused SNP EU dream!

    The SNP want Independence from the UK, yet! they want to hand over sovereignty to Brussels.

    The SNP say they want to be in the EU, yet! they back an anti EU policy on fishery rights.

    There is totally no point in having SNP MEPs when they clearly don't have a clue about what type of EU they want.

    Complain about this comment

  • 128. At 10:29am on 28 May 2009, Donald Brose wrote:

    I have just read the Zimbabwe Herald on line. It reports what ZANU PF and Mugabe wishes it to report. You get a strange particular feeling reading lies ,sometimes subtly said,but nonetheless lies. I often get that same particular strange feeling reading and listening to the Unionist media in the UK. You cannot cleanse the political system without having a fair and even handed media. Listen on line to BBC Scotland this morning or any morning and the tone and intent of the interviewers would not fool a junior journalistic student writing an essay on party political bias encroachment into "state" media. Scotland is not well served by these faintly veiled Labour party Apparatchicks (sic)

    Complain about this comment

  • 129. At 11:09am on 28 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    121. ForteanJo: "Our European neighbours are looking on with a mixture of awe, laughter and dismay. They actually wonder how the UK can claim to be a democracy. Many have already likened Brown's regime to that of Mugabe's, asserting that regime change is as necessary in the UK as it is in Zimbabwe."

    Enough of this idiotic nationalist bilge! With everything that has happened and is happening in France (Mitterand, Chirac), Italy (Belesconi), Russia (Putin), USA (Bush), Bulgaria ('Europe's most corrupt nation') among many others, an expenses scandal barely registers.

    That's right up there with oldnat's bizarre belief that "the UN forced devolution on the UK or risk sanctions". So never mind all the brutal dictatorships around the world, the UN decided that the UK must have devolution? Yeah, right.

    I see this is going to be yet another day of childish nat claims.

    Complain about this comment

  • 130. At 11:32am on 28 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    124. Coineach: "All Political Parties should be banned as being non-democratic. Once voted in MPs immediately forget about their constituents and will only vote the way their political whips tell them to vote, irrespective of what the voters want."

    That was the initial desire within the US Constitution but that came to an end quite promptly.

    The rest is a sweeping generalisation. The whip applies to manifesto pledges (to which every MP/candidate must agree prior to elections) when and ideological votes. There are a great many votes where the MP has the freedom to choose and there are many websites that demonstrate this.

    Complain about this comment

  • 131. At 11:52am on 28 May 2009, Jimmythepict wrote:

    We are not getting open government from Westminster, the forced sale of the Dunfermline Building society was not open, from Douglas Fraser's blog:

    we've got confirmation today from Nationwide, having taken over the Dunfermline Building Society, that it's not going to post any cessation accounts, leaving a veil over what went so badly wrong. All you can see from the Nationwide annual figures is that the Dunfermline had net liabilities of £1.4 billion that the largest part of that exposure was a £2.3 billion accounting entry described only as "shares".

    So we are not to know if the reasons for the forced sale were true or not.

    Complain about this comment

  • 132. At 12:09pm on 28 May 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #127 derekbarker
    The SNP want Independence from the UK, yet! they want to hand over sovereignty to Brussels. Your lie #1, as no-one can hand over sovereignty, it rests as ever in the Scottish people.
    The SNP say they want to be in the EU, yet! they back an anti EU policy on fishery rights. Your lie #2, as you've got to be in it to win it. London would happily flog off our fisheries and the towns that depend on them to the Spaniards, as they have done with the banks, in exchange for help with the Olympics or some other benefit to London and/or the "home" counties.
    There is totally no point in having SNP MEPs when they clearly don't have a clue about what type of EU they want. Your lie #3. as this does not follow from your preceeding assertions.
    Still this little excursion into print allows us to see why you support the way we were conned into an illegal war in Iraq. NuLiebour indeed.

    Complain about this comment

  • 133. At 12:18pm on 28 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    127. Don't forget:

    Salmond complaining that the Bank requiring daily deposits from our note-producing banks was in fact part of a secret plot to remove Scottish banknotes (how does that work then?!) but then advocating joining the Euro...which would definitely mean the end of Scottish banknotes.

    And also Salmond complaining that Scotland (with 5m population and #0.12trillion economy) does not have enough influence in UK monetary decisions (covering 60m population and #1.3trillion economy)....but advocates that we instead join the Euro (325m population, #11trillion economy and with decisions based on the economies of Germany, France and Italy).

    Confused? Inconsistent? Self-contradictory? Never.

    Complain about this comment

  • 134. At 12:25pm on 28 May 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    The age of revolution having passed, as the far-Left French philosopher Alain Badiou maintains, those who still aspire to radical social and political change are left with the type of phenomenon which we are witnessing here: establishment political parties being forced to respond to events in such a way as to find themselves competing with one another to restore electoral support by making promises which they may not wish to keep but which to some extent will eventually have to produce some change if the parties making the promises are to retain sufficient credibility to enable them to survive as major forces in terms of electoral support.

    More important than the establishment political parties themselves and their gestures of questionable sincerity in this globalized post-revolutionary age, according to 'le vieux dinosaur' of May '68, in whose philosophy a key concept is that the real serves as an external limit on the possibility of its production of truth, will be pressure groups and radical movements committed to fundamental change (whether or not they operate outside electoral politics or are engaged in it to some extent), which may be expected to seek to take advantage of potential catalysts such as the extraordinary economic and political crises which have overtaken the UK at the present time.

    This is why Scottish independentists may have every chance of profiting from the present state of affairs as they witness evidence of realistic prospects of further incremental change favouring the ultimate realization of their aims. In the present circumstances the woes which have overtaken the UK parliament figure prominently, as they reveal for all to see the truth of the essential nature of that enfeebled and antiquated bulwark of the UK state, and as large swathes of the population call for substantial reform that goes beyond the immediate problem of UK MPs' expenses.

    The Tories may or may not eventually reduce the membership of the lower chamber of the UK parliament by 10 per cent, but the Scottish National Party, which within UK politics remains essentially a pariah movement dedicated to radical reform rather than a political party ensconced in and seduced by the status quo and the trappings that go with it, definitely proposes to reduce the number of UK MPs by 59. If Mr Cameron is serious about reducing the membership of the House of Commons, he may just conceivably find that events that he has to respond to will move so fast that he will be able to reduce it without amending the number of English constitutencies at all.

    Complain about this comment

  • 135. At 12:26pm on 28 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    Julie Kirkbride MP: "it didn't cross my mind that I had done anything wrong."

    So, if I break the law and get caught I just utter the magic words: "it didn't cross my mind that I had done anything wrong" and the police forget all about it?!!

    What a wonderful parallel universe these MPs live in!

    Meanwhile back at the ranch these same MPs demand we obey the letter of the very same laws they thumb their noses at.

    Time to get rid of the whole rotten shower. Independence now.

    Complain about this comment

  • 136. At 12:34pm on 28 May 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    #134

    Apologies for my typo: Badiou is, of course, 'le vieux dinosaure' with an 'e' for excellence.

    Complain about this comment

  • 137. At 12:40pm on 28 May 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    6. At 2:34pm on 26 May 2009, gedguy2
    I think that it is obvious to everyone that David Cameron is doing what he has always done which is to speak a lot but say nothing

    I would disagree. From what Ive been listening to, and reading Mr Cameron seems to be saying quite a lot; and outlining much.
    For example Mr Cameron said radical redistribution of power, to me that says a great deal; not saying nothing. That says local government, decentralisation- hardly meaningless jargon but a very real statement of policy intent and direction by Camerons conservatives.

    He also outlined that the Conservatives would not introduce Proportional Representation, because as Mr Cameron said we dont believe in government by secret backroom deals. Again this point seems to me to relate back to the first points he made in the speech, concerning open government, decentralisation. Hardly as gedguy claims; Cameron seems to be saying a great deal for those able to read between the lines, and understand what he is saying directly.

    D.C. continued to be most clear and full of content; for example D.C said he would ask the boundary commission to reduce the number of MPs by 10% across the UK. (What I want to see said in the future however is D.C also saying he will reduce the number of ministers- otherwise you will end up with even greater % of government ministers per head of population; I for one dont believe in top heavy government as Labour does).

    It all seems quite desirable, clear and full of interesting content, especially the rather interesting suggestion that the expenses of all public servants paid more than £150,000 a year would be put online - as would all public spending over £25,000. As D.C said (quite clearly) "Just imagine the effect that an army of armchair auditors is going to have on those expense claims.

    S o what Id like to see is gedguy explain his statement that D.Cs speech was empty of content or in his words speak a lot but say nothing. As for the points ive decided to extract from D.Cs speech it all seems to me to be the opposite o gedguys suggestion.

    Complain about this comment

  • 138. At 12:43pm on 28 May 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    I noticed that the SNP have dropped another manifesto committment, McWhirter explained on Politics Show that the SNP have dropped their 3% annual co2 emissions cut target for one "much less ambitious".

    Thank you Mr McWhirter for continuing to expose this executives catalogue of broken manifesto pledges.

    Complain about this comment

  • 139. At 12:45pm on 28 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    128. Absolutely! How dare the media constantly challenge the government of the day! That's not what the free press is all about! They should be agreeing with everything the government does! Like they do in the Zimbabwe Herald....oh, wait.

    Complain about this comment

  • 140. At 12:45pm on 28 May 2009, greenockboy wrote:

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

  • 141. At 12:46pm on 28 May 2009, European_Unionist wrote:

    #127 derekbarker

    Clearly, it is perfectly consistent to support the European Union while expressing reservations about aspects of particular EU policies, which are, in any case, evolving.

    As usual, Derek's specious argumentation, in so far as it deserves to be called that, is hopelessly confused.

    Complain about this comment

  • 142. At 12:49pm on 28 May 2009, U11769947 wrote:

    Well! another broken promise on climate change as the SNP fail to reach their reduction targets on carbon.


    Has Scotland become a less safe place to live and are the executive in control of law and order?.

    Complain about this comment

  • 143. At 2:09pm on 28 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    Tory MP Julie Kirkbride and Labour's Margaret Moran are to step down over the expenses scandal.

    Fantastic, another two freeloaders bite the dust! Next!

    Complain about this comment

  • 144. At 2:12pm on 28 May 2009, David wrote:

    #1 I like the PR system in Scotland. It actually means that voting is not a waste of time. My vote counts.

    Where as in the first past the post Westminster elections, I would be as well saving the energy of walking to the polling station. My current Labour MP has a 18,000 majority and I don't believe in Labour policies. First past the post is quite depressing in that scenario. Your options are move to a different area or don't bother voting.

    Complain about this comment

  • 145. At 2:33pm on 28 May 2009, waitingformyman wrote:

    Not that I'm in it for the money but an independant scotlands wealth is estimated at placing it as the 7th richest country in the world. Not bad for 5 million folk eh boys? Apparently England would fall down the ladder by many many places if scotland were independant.

    SNP politicians are totally totally honest and have never ever swicked the tax payer. SNP are brilliant man, I think big eck (cause lets face it he's nae wee, ats why he needs a thon cheese and oat cakes - HE's Worth evry penny!) is our modern day william wallace, I feel honoured to live in such exciting times, oh I just can't wait for the day. Bit ironic thought that the equivelant of ED 1st is scottish hahaheh!!

    Also odds are favourite for scotland to be independat by 2015 at my local bookies 3/1 on!

    It is also estimated that scotlands poulation would fall by 15% as unionists flee south refusing the privalige of taking up scottish citezenship.

    Guess it must be because of all this expenses scandal - aye right!

    Disturbing news in my local rag today. Tory makes 600,000 profit from a taxpayers funded house and didn't even pay cap gains tax, he also claimed 17,000 for his....wait for it....wait for it....*":**!!SERVANTS!!!

    ;)

    Complain about this comment

  • 146. At 2:33pm on 28 May 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #129 Reluctant-Expat

    Council of Europe - not UN.

    Do try to be accurate when sneering.

    Complain about this comment

  • 147. At 2:37pm on 28 May 2009, Tom wrote:

    Reluctant-Expat:

    #133.

    Yes, because there is not the slightest chance that perhaps within the current system Alex Salmond wishes that Scot's money is printed, but also sees the Euro as a benefit to the Scottish economy and may also be better for Scotland in the long-term.

    It's easy to hold both views. I am Pro-Euro, but for the time being I do not see why Scots money should stop being produced.

    Besides. You lot are banging on about 'bigger is better', so why not adopt more of what Europe has to offer, it's slightly two faced to tell us (Scots) that it's better to be together then apart but give the European two V's and tell them to stick their proposals where the sun don't shine when something may unite Europe and bind the country into a stronger economic and political group.

    Complain about this comment

  • 148. At 3:16pm on 28 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #139 Reluctant-Cowpat

    "How dare the media constantly challenge the government of the day!"

    "Constantly "challenging" the Scottish Government is one thing but constantly ignoring a political reality the public knows to be true is quite another.

    For the first time since the SNP came to power we saw yesterday explicit acknowledgment by a "Scottish" media organisation of the truth: "The Nationalists are still enjoying strong support in Scotland and, while this continues, Labour will struggle to make headway."

    Even this was done only as a belated attempt to defuse public fury at Westminster Unionist MPs over the discovery of their widespread systematic fraud on the taxpayer.

    Complain about this comment

  • 149. At 3:18pm on 28 May 2009, Tom wrote:

    DeanTheTory:

    I decided to do some research and search for some Conservative promises from 2005.

    Here was what their main promises were:

    - more police

    - cleaner hospitals

    - lower taxes

    - controlled immigration

    - school discipline

    Have the Conservatives succeeded on completing those promises as they were elected to do so?

    The Scottish Conservatives...

    "We want to see some powers passed from the Scottish Parliament to town halls often local councils are in a better position to meet the needs of their area than the Scottish Executive."

    "..it is the job of government to put in place the structures to reverse family breakdown and encourage stability and commitment. We will do just that."

    "It should be left to parents, not councils, to decide with which nursery they should use their 12 ½ hour free weekly entitlement. To help parents combine this with childcare requirements, we will encourage all employers to make salary-sacrifice childcare vouchers available to their employees, and we will ensure that the public sector leads the way in this provision."

    "We are extremely proud of the legacy of home ownership we left Scotland, and were proud to advocate its continuation."

    Have these promises been kept by the Conservative group, at all? I don't know, so you'll have to show me where they have completed their promises.

    Complain about this comment

  • 150. At 3:18pm on 28 May 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    The various MPs currently being dragged through the mire for their expenses records DID NOTHING WRONG in submitting their claims.

    If you don't ask, you don't get.

    The real villains of the piece are the nameless, faceless individuals who APPROVED those claims.

    THEY are the people who should be named and shamed, and (whether MPs or civil servants) are unfit to hold any position paid for out of the public purse.

    Complain about this comment

  • 151. At 4:07pm on 28 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    Despite yet another broken SNP manifesto pledge (joining "1,000 new police"*, "removal of student debt", "first time home-buyer grants", "matching school building brick for brick", "primary class sizes no greater than 18 pupils" etc.), there is still no sign of a dissenting nationalist voice. How unexpected.

    Yet again, it is clearly demonstrated that as long as the SNP advocate independence, this lot will NEVER say anything bad about them.

    Never mind, with three of their 'Magnificent Seven" achievements being removal of #1 tolls on two bridges, free parking in some hospitals and 8% of prescriptions being slightly cheaper, who can dare to doubt that the SNP are making breathtaking and historic changes of biblical proportions in Scotland.

    *And to pre-empt the predictable nat response "You're wrong! The SNP are bringing in 1,000 new police as promised!"....everyone knows it was the Tories that forced them to keep that promise.

    Complain about this comment

  • 152. At 4:20pm on 28 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #143 Reluctant-Cowpat

    "Fantastic, another two freeloaders bite the dust! Next!"

    Amazingly, I actually agree with you about something! Are you finally getting a grip of reality?!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 153. At 5:04pm on 28 May 2009, Bandages_For_Konjic wrote:

    #137 deanthetoryboy -

    Dear Dean,

    While your relentless cheerleading of CMD deserves praise for its enthusiasm and pep, surely there must come a point when even someone of your (Acknowledged) less than advanced years grows weary of the pom-poms and the short skirt?

    "From what Ive been listening to, and reading Mr Cameron seems to be saying quite a lot; and outlining much."

    Has he now? My reading of CMD's contribution to The Guardian's "A New Politics" debate shows your beloved leader to be just as empty and vacuous as always, in his eternal quest for the blessed soundbite.

    For example; he insists that "Politicians will have to change their attitude big time." Ooh, scary! But what's it supposed to mean? How will it be measured?

    Apparently this will "require a serious culture change among ministers" and, as we all know, nothing spells "redistribution of power" like a "serious culture change" does it?

    On top of all these 'attitude changes' and 'culture changes' - CMD's redistributed political powerhouse is going to "ask a series of simple questions: does this give power to people, or take it away?" No matter what the answers to any of these questions might be - the all important thing is that the question is being asked.

    Q: Does this give power to people or take it away.
    A: It takes it away.
    CMD: Okay, well, we're going to do it anyway but aren't you terribly glad we asked the question first?

    And then, as an example of how he's going to push "political power down as far as possible" CMD cites the example of his plans for school reform. How thrilling! An actual policy at long last! Except - doesn't this, "Any suitably qualified organisation can set up a new school", sound an awful lot like the current Government's flagship Academies programme. Which isn't exactly beloved by all at the moment.

    So the first (Albeit rather vaguely worded) real policy proposal we come to turns out to have been nicked of G Brown & Co. Hardly radical, is it?

    All in, this is just what we've come to expect from CMD - not so much sound and fury as sound and . . . meh . . . but still signifying nothing.

    And, pretty much what we've come to expect from you - a lot of gymastically choreographed enthusing about "those able to read between the lines" - i.e. Tory fantasists - and little of real merit. You don't even make it clear which CMD broadcast you're pulling stuff from.

    Wave your pom-poms all you like - your team's still getting beat.

    Complain about this comment

  • 154. At 5:20pm on 28 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    150. Constantly asking that very question. Why aren't the staff of this now infamous Fee's Office being dragged through the mire? We've all read the Green Book and so many of these claims are clearly in breach, so why were they allowed in the first place?

    Complain about this comment

  • 155. At 5:20pm on 28 May 2009, BoNG0_1 wrote:

    #137 DeanTheTory Wrote: From what Ive been listening to, and reading Mr Cameron seems to be saying quite a lot; and outlining much.
    For example Mr Cameron said "radical redistribution of power", to me that says a great deal;

    ...yep Dean, It says "Oh Shoot, we've been caught out. I'd better say something... er... Radical!"

    *;o)

    Complain about this comment

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

    #150 Older than the Pyramids

    "The real villains of the piece are the nameless, faceless individuals who APPROVED those claims."

    So you want to blame parliamentary fees office staff for operating a system imposed on them by.............oh yes! MPs!!!

    Utterly ridiculous.

    When will you people get it that your beloved Unionist MPs have been caught with their snouts in the trough?

    Just admit it - they are 100% to blame for their own downfall!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 157. At 5:37pm on 28 May 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    BBC: Christopher Fraser, MP for South West Norfolk, says he will quit for personal reasons to care for his ill wife.

    And another dishonourable member leaves with Cameron's size nine imprinted on his behind.

    So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, you thief.
    You have to go, you've caused too much grief.
    So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, adieu,
    Adieu, adieu....now you and you and you.....and you....and you....

    Complain about this comment

  • 158. At 6:47pm on 28 May 2009, googlehoo wrote:

    Re #151 (and others ad nauseam) Reluctant-expat

    Ok, just to put your concerns about manifesto pledges into context, here are the headline pledges from the Westminster Labour party in 2005, and lets all remember that they have a had 2 years longer and a nice big majority to ensure that their legislation is passed without compromise:

    No increase in basic or top rate income tax - opps, err ..
    Increase home ownership by two million - opps again
    Inflation target of 2% - err, well, less said the better
    No-one will have to wait more than 18 weeks to see a specialist from date of referral - nope
    Rebuild or refurbish every secondary school - nope
    Education or training for every 16 to 18-year-old - not even close
    Publicly-owned Royal Mail fully restored to "good health" - more flatlined than healthy
    Action to tackle guns and knives - tell that to all the victims of knife crime
    Further Lords reform - oh dear ......
    Point system for immigrants - immigration, yeah, they've got that under control .....

    More union dividend?

    Complain about this comment

  • 159. At 7:14pm on 28 May 2009, Tom wrote:

    Reluctant-Expat:

    #151.

    "*And to pre-empt the predictable nat response "You're wrong! The SNP are bringing in 1,000 new police as promised!"....everyone knows it was the Tories that forced them to keep that promise."

    Your being rather childish. Just earlier in your comment you listed 1000 extra police officers as a broken pledge, then here you have the cheek to insist that the Conservatives forced the SNP Government to keep the pledge! It's a rather embarressing contradiction in itself.

    Then we are forgetting that 500 million pounds was taken from the grant by Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives for the Edinburgh Trams. How will this effect the odds that the SNP will manage to fullfill all their promises? Then Labour decided to cut back on the amount of money that the Scottish Parliament should receive. How will this effect what the SNP Government can, and can't do? This is the worst economic crises for decades but you expect the SNP Government to pull a rabbit out their behind and deliver everything as they promised despite many set backs as explained above. let's also not forget that the SNP had to negociate to pass the budget. Money, yes from the same pot! Money would be made available in order for other political groups to decide how to spend it so the SNP could gain their support to pass the budget.

    This also brings me back to another point. In the last budget, you know the time Labour and the Liberal Democrats decided to play politics with our services? Just what did Labour and the Liberal Democrats manage to get from the budget which would bring forward policies which they were elected for?

    Complain about this comment

  • 160. At 7:52pm on 28 May 2009, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    #156, bighullabaloo

    "So you want to blame parliamentary fees office staff for operating a system imposed on them by.............oh yes! MPs!!!"

    Oh, dear.

    The old "I was only following orders" routine.

    Complain about this comment

  • 161. At 8:09pm on 28 May 2009, Lily_Hammer wrote:

    #157 Reluctant

    It doesn't scan.

    I would say quit while you're ahead, but you're not. Just quit before you embarrass yourself further.

    Complain about this comment

  • 162. At 8:20pm on 28 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    Note to BBC Mods re #157:

    Am I to believe it is perfectly acceptable for people posting here to accuse an identifiable individual as being "dishonourable" and a "thief"?

    Complain about this comment

  • 163. At 10:22pm on 28 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #160 Older than the Pyramids

    I'd like to hear you explain exactly: how do you know it wasn't a member of the parliamentary fees office who "blew the whistle"?

    For all you know, you coud be trying to blame the very same people who exposed this disgraceful fraud on the taxpayer!

    And it would be nice to get answer for once: not the usual cowardly sudden silence I see so often when I've just demolished an argument. I will be back to remind you if it is.

    Complain about this comment

  • 164. At 11:10am on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #160 Older than the Pyramids

    Further to my #163: I see that it's the usual sudden cowardly silence.

    Complain about this comment

  • 165. At 11:18am on 29 May 2009, waitingformyman wrote:

    Post thought on 145

    "It is also estimated that scotlands poulation would fall by 15% as unionists flee south refusing the privalige of taking up scottish citezenship"

    Would England actually take them and give them English citzenship, or would they be left in some kinda limbo, being treated like asylum seekers?

    Complain about this comment

  • 166. At 1:15pm on 29 May 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #157 Expat
    Now, where were you when Simon cowell and co were holding auditions?
    #162 bihhulabalooYou are being a tad un fair here. In what way is Expat calling someone dishonouable and a theif any different from you calling them corrupt?
    Pot, Kettle...
    Could it be that you just can't bring yourself to admit that you and Expat actually agree on something?

    Complain about this comment

  • 167. At 1:54pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #166 Fit Like

    "In what way is Expat calling someone dishonouable and a theif any different from you calling them corrupt?"

    In one very small but critically important way: I don't identify a specific identifiable individual by name and directly call them "dishonourable" or a "thief".

    To do so would be defamatory. You can't show me a single example where I have done this.

    Why the BBC is allowing a defamatory statement like #157 to be published on their blog is a complete mystery to me - a legally dangerous thing for the BBC to do.

    I look forward to you suddenly getting it.

    Complain about this comment

  • 168. At 1:57pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #166 Fit Like

    "Could it be that you just can't bring yourself to admit that you and Expat actually agree on something?"

    Do you mean exactly like I did in #152: "Amazingly, I actually agree with you about something!"?

    If you are going to have a go please make it something I have actually done or not done, otherwise you'll look like a complete idiot.

    Complain about this comment

  • 169. At 2:14pm on 29 May 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #167/8 bighullabaloo

    You're splitting hairs. It's a bit like the old 'Have I got News For You' gag of adding 'alledgedly' at the end of some contraversial and possibly libelous comment.

    Given the sheer volumes of posts you've been flooding these pages with in the past couple of weeks, and the fact that I only have a limited amount of time to read what is posted, I tend to skim read in order to find the bits that either interest me or inspire me to make comment, so if in my haste, I actually missed you and Expat agreeing, then I apologise. That said, if you don't mind my saying so, it's very easy to miss single comments when they are drowened out in the general clamour of overwhelming background noise (and before you accuse me of having a go again, I will admit that I am as guilty of that as anyone elsse here).

    Complain about this comment

  • 170. At 2:39pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #169 Fit Like?

    Splitting hairs? How so? Be specific.

    What you dismiss as "splitting hairs" is how the law works - they make fine distinctions between what is "legal" and what isn't.

    Naming an individual and calling them a "thief" isn't legal and it's not even a fine distinction. It should be obvious.

    If I called a named individual a "thief" I'd be well advised to use the word "allegedly". #157 doesn't use the word "allegedly". Very unwise.

    I accept your apology re: #168 (it's a rarity here even when people can see the proof with their own eyes) but I do reject your weak excuse: "limited amount of time".

    Your post accusing me of "never agreeing" with Cowpat was #166 - a mere 14 posts after a post in which I did precisely that. It hardly needed hours to find it!

    Complain about this comment

  • 171. At 3:30pm on 29 May 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #170 bighillabaloo

    "Your post accusing me of "never agreeing" with Cowpat was #166 - a mere 14 posts after a post in which I did precisely that. It hardly needed hours to find it! " No, it didn't but it did coincide with my 30 minute lunch break which was all the time I had to wade through those and the 100 proceeding posts as that was as far as I'd got on my previous perusal of the thread yesterday.

    I have a couple of minutes free now (Friday afternoons can be a little slow) so I'm able to respond again.

    To be totally pedantic, Expat says:

    "Christopher Fraser, MP for South West Norfolk, says he will quit for personal reasons to care for his ill wife.

    And another dishonourable member leaves with Cameron's size nine imprinted on his behind.
    "

    Is he referring to Mr. Fraser or is he referring to the other "dishonourable member" as a theif? If it was the former, then maybe, just maybe, there would be a case to answer. If it was the latter, then tell me, who exactly has he slandered? (or is it libelled? I can nether remember which one is verbal and which one is written). We can make deductions or educated guesses, but we can't actually know to whom he refers.

    Oh, and for the record, simply adding the word 'allegedly' at the end of a potentially libelous statement would not stand up as a defence. If you don't believe me, just ask Ian Hislop...

    Complain about this comment

  • 172. At 3:56pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    Not on topic but worth commenting on: I see the English media have decided Susan Boyle needs "psychological help".

    So no psychological help needed at all for the lightweight pop starlets and sick news reporters who are exposing their almost psychotic envy at Susan's worldwide fame?!! Didn't think so.

    Complain about this comment

  • 173. At 4:10pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #171 Fit Like?

    "Is he referring to Mr. Fraser or is he referring to the other "dishonourable member as a theif?"

    What OTHER dishonourable member? There's only one person named in the post!

    If he isn't referring to Mr Fraser as "dishourable" then do tell me who's "behind" was he referring to in the sentence that followed it when he refers to "him"?

    Are you asking me now to believe that he's talking about Mr Fraser in one sentence but when he refers to Mr Fraser as "him" in the very next sentence he's actually talking about someone else?

    Now that really is "splitting hairs"!

    Except there is no actual distinction to be made. According to the logical rules of grammar, the "him" in the second sentence clearly refers to the named individual in the first sentence.

    Thus he definitely calls a named individual (Fraser) "dishonourable".

    You have a slightly stronger case for arguing he wasn't aiming his comments at Fraser when he wrote "you thief".

    But if he didn't mean Fraser do tell us who he was referring to?

    It can only be deduced that he meant Fraser since he is the only person identified in immediately preceding sentences.

    Complain about this comment

  • 174. At 7:48pm on 29 May 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #172 bighullabaloo

    The penny has finally dropped, it's amazing what insight a couple of beers in the sun can give you.

    When Expat said "Christopher Fraser, MP for South West Norfolk, says he will quit for personal reasons to care for his ill wife.

    And another dishonourable member leaves with Cameron's size nine imprinted on his behind.
    " you took it to mean that Mr Fraser's reason was a cover and that the real reason he was going was Cameron's boot up the posterior. Fraser and the "dishonourable member" are one and the same person. I get that now, and you are almost certainly correct.

    I took the first prargraph as being a statement of fact and therefore concluded that some, as yet unamed other, was the "dishonourable member".

    That's the beauty of the English language I guess. Grammatically, both interpretations are correct, albeit, I conceed, that yours interpretation is probably the actual correct one.

    Glad we got that sorted. I still suspect that Expat is unlikely to have to worry about being the victim of a dawn raid on behalf of Mr Fraser demanding retribution.

    There again, does Expact know for a fact that DC has size 9 feet? Could be potentially libelous if, in fact, they are actually size 10 or 11. Wouldn't want to understate his shoe size and all that that might entail...

    Anyway, this is me now definately signing of for the weeked. Have a good one, and do try to get out in the open air a bit.

    Complain about this comment

  • 175. At 10:19pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #174 Hard luck Fit Like.

    Looks like when you've been totally out-argued it's best not to resort to the old abuse. It's against the rules you know!

    Complain about this comment

  • 176. At 10:22pm on 29 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #174 Fit Like?

    Adios!

    Complain about this comment

  • 177. At 7:12pm on 31 May 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #175/6 bighullabaloo

    If my suggestion that you need to get out is abuse then I apologise.

    Not very magnanimous in victory are you?

    Anyway, shouldn't you actually be waging your war against the Unionists you seem to dislike so much rather than trying to have a go at someone, who for all our differences of opinion, is actually on the same side as you?

    Complain about this comment

  • 178. At 9:49pm on 31 May 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    #177 Fit Like?

    I assumed, since your #174 was CENSORED that it must have contained something objectionable, like abuse.

    I've read it and I'd challenge anyone to come up with a reason why it needed to be considered for censorship in the first place.

    I can see why someone might interpret the first two sentences of #157 as not being logically connected in any way. i.e. the first sentence applies only to Fraser and the second applies to some other, unnamed MP (referred to as "another").

    The insertion of the word "And" makes that interpretation possible, but I think he meant both sentences to apply to Fraser and it's stretching it just a tiny bit - but enough - to conclude they are two separate and distinct statements.

    If he'd written "Meanwhile another dishonourable member leaves..." I'd interpet it the same way you did.

    As it stands I think it's a statement with the identical literal meaning to a phrase like "And another one bites the dust".

    As to my lack of magnanimity I'd have to accept your assessment as correct.

    This is indeed at times a brutal and animalistic world devoid of pity or graciousnes in victory.

    People have the right to expect restraint from crowing or gloating but sometimes they get it regardless. This was such a case.

    The only way I can explain it (not excuse it) is with an apt analogy: if your leg is bleeding and you go into a shark infested ocean don't plan to walk home.

    Complain about this comment

  • 179. At 08:57am on 01 Jun 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #178 bighullabaloo

    "The only way I can explain it (not excuse it) is with an apt analogy: if your leg is bleeding and you go into a shark infested ocean don't plan to walk home."

    My swimming ability (or lack of) being as it is, I suspect sharks would be the least of my worries.

    Complain about this comment

  • 180. At 09:45am on 01 Jun 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    Gordon Brown quoted as saying "He said he would not let "temporary setbacks" deter him from doing what was right for the country"

    So why doesn't he call a General Election?

    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.