Sunday, 28 August 2016

'Shurely Shome Mishtake"



Labour's lunatic fringe (which means the party leadership these days) are calling for Sir Richard Branson to be stripped of his knighthood after a turbulent week in which Britain's favourite businessman made Jeremy Corbyn look like a prize prat over his Virgin Trains stunt. 

Now I'm no fan of the honours system, as regular readers know, but I'm not in favour of picking on just certain individuals either, especially for cynical personal or political reasons.

I mean where will it all end: will Sir Sean Connery (one of Scotland's favourite sons) be next on Jeremy Corbyn's hit list?

'Shurely shome mistake', I fear, and one which is bound to be ridiculed by both the Private Eye magazine and the SNP. 

   


Read the full story in The Independent 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/john-mcdonnell-shadow-chancellor-for-richard-branson-virgin-to-be-stripped-of-his-knighthood-trains-a7213501.html


Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell calls for Richard Branson to be stripped of his knighthood

'It should be a simple choice for the mega-rich. Run off to tax exile if you want. But you leave your titles and your honours behind when you go,' says Mr McDonnell



Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has called for Virgin's founder and CEO Sir Richard Branson to be stripped of his knighthood.

Cunning Stunt Backfires (25/08/16)


John McTernan is on fine form with this article in The Telegraph about Jeremy Corbyn and his 'Traingate' fiasco.

But the killer lines are all from Richard Branson and the Virgin Trains spokesperson who says matter of factly:

"We're a bit puzzled why Jeremy couldn't find unreserved seats when he boarded the train - they're right next to him as the photo shows."

Boom, boom!

  

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/24/jeremy-corbyn-will-regret-picking-a-fight-with-sir-richard-brans/

Jeremy Corbyn will regret picking a fight with Sir Richard Branson

By JOHN MCTERNAN - The Telegraph


Jeremy Corby on the train CREDIT: VIRGIN TRAIN

Rule 1 of spin is "Don't lie". Embellish the truth, gild the lily, make the most positive presentation possible but do not lie. 

Of course, sometimes you may feel that you have to make something up. This is where Rule 2 comes in - "Don't get caught." In politics, the truth doesn't have to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, it just has to be a "defensible truth". Or, in other words something that no-one can disprove.

Which leads directly to Rule 3 - "Remember that people will fight back if their reputation is at stake." Yesterday, as "Traingate" unfolded, it was clear that Jeremy Corbyn and his team had broken all three rules.

When Corbyn originally released his ridiculous low-fi rail video I thought that this simply confirmed how completely incompetent his whole operation is. They had obviously not ordered those cheap advance tickets because they always come with a compulsory reservation. Obvious really, Corbyn was bound to treat Labour Party money the same way he would spend the taxpayer's money - wastefully.

Cult of Corbyn (26/08/16)




The pollster YouGov reports that a big majority of voters believe Virgin Trains rather than Jeremy Corbyn over the rumpus about the Labour leader's journey to Newcastle.

But the most remarkable figure is the 39% of Labour voters who believe Jeremy Corbyn's version of events even though the Labour leader has since admitted that he walked past unreserved seats on the train - which he didn't use because he wanted to sit with the rest of his team and/or his wife.

See the following quote from the London Evening Standard newspaper:

"Jeremy Corbyn today conceded there were spare seats on the “ram-packed” Virgin train where he claimed he was forced to sit on the floor.


"In a change to his version of events, he said he had been looking for seats for him and “a group of colleagues” to sit together, accepting that the train was not full.

"It came during a bad-tempered press conference in which he rebuked reporters for questions about the incident and whether it reflected on his integrity."


Now a cult depends on the support of otherwise people who rely on propaganda and refuse to believe the evidence of their own eyes.

So the 'Cult of Corbyn' is the only rationale explanation here, if you ask me.

  

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Floorspace in Demand



The Telegraph cartoonist Matt nailed the nonsense behind Jeremy Corbyn's stunt on a Virgin train the other day which has now backfired in spectacular fashion.

Shown below is a handy timeline of events which makes the Labour leader and his handlers look like exactly what they are - a bunch of complete amateurs.

  

Do You Feel Lucky?

Image result for do you feel lucky + images

Here's a pretty fair and sober assessment of how Scotland's finances stack up since the collapse in the world price of oil.

The article is by David Bell, a professor of economics at the University of Stirling, and appeared recently in The Conversation which prides itself in being "an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community."

  

http://theconversation.com/independent-scotland-might-get-away-with-a-high-deficit-if-its-feeling-lucky-64409

Independent Scotland might get away with a high deficit – if it’s feeling lucky


By David Bell
Professor of Economics, University of Stirling

David Bell does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
University of Stirling provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.
The Conversation’s partners

The Conversation UK receives funding from Hefce, Hefcw, SAGE, SFC, RCUK, The Nuffield Foundation, The Ogden Trust, The Royal Society, The Wellcome Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Alliance for Useful Evidence, as well as sixty five university members.

‘Well do ya punk?’ Ariel Dovas, CC BY-SA

The predictable result of Scotland’s expenditure and revenue data for 2015-16 is that its fiscal deficit is much worse than the UK as a whole. Why predictable? Well, the Scottish economy is much more dependent on the oil industry than the UK overall and the collapse in the oil price since 2014 has led to a massive collapse in the UK government’s revenues from taxing the industry’s profits.

Since most of the oil is produced from Scottish territorial waters, this collapse affects Scotland’s territorial accounts. In the past, higher tax revenues from oil broadly compensated for Scotland’s higher public spending per head to the tune of £1,200 a year, so that the Scottish deficit did not differ substantially from that of the UK. Now that the oil effect has virtually disappeared, Scotland’s fiscal deficit of 9.5% of GDP (or £14.8 billion) is more than double the UK equivalent of 4% of GDP.

Scottish and UK deficits, 1998-2016
Scottish government

Some of the spending attributed to Scotland is not under the control of the Scottish government. In the latest calculations, for example, Scotland is assumed to spend £3 billion on defence – its population share of total UK defence spending. An independent Scotland might choose to spend less on defence, but this could only make a modest dent in the total deficit.

For a more significant turnaround, Scotland would need to look to some of the bigger budget items such as health (£12.2 billion) and/or benefits and the state pension (£18.3 billion). On the revenue side, it could consider increasing existing taxes or introducing new ones. With the demise of North Sea oil, income tax (£12.2 billion) and VAT (£11.2 billion) account for 43% of Scotland’s total tax revenue of £53.7 billion.

North Sea oil revenue 1998-2016
Scottish government

Abnormal possibilities

Would an independent Scotland have to reduce this deficit? Obviously some countries run quite high deficits and function adequately even though they are highly indebted (Italy and Japan are good examples). But if it is running a deficit at all, Scotland would be dependent on loans from the money markets to keep its public services functioning.
Mmmm, austerity Vectomart

In normal times, budget deficits around the current level would mean substantial, and probably unsustainable, debt interest charges for an independent Scotland. Eventually, if the market is unwilling to provide loan finance, bodies like the IMF pick up the pieces. But their medicine is likely to be pretty unpleasant involving tax increases and spending cuts.

On the other hand, these are not normal times in the money markets. The cost of government borrowing is currently at an historic low. Perhaps the Scottish government could borrow at rates that are higher than most other leading economies but are still affordable due to the generally low yieldson sovereign bonds.

Caution might suggest this would be a risky strategy given that we have no idea how long these “abnormal” conditions will persist. Some supporters of independence will no doubt believe that it is a risk worth taking.

Facing Down Bullies



Owen Smith who is challenging Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership at least had the bottle to stand up to the bully boys (and girls) who laughed and jeered at the mere mention of Kezia Dugdale's name at a Scottish hustings event.

As Jeremy Corbyn stood by, Smith commented that it was very odd to witness a Labour audience boo their own Scottish leader.

Strange times we live in right enough.  


 


Jezza's Bully Boys (19/08/16)



I've noticed that in the Labour leadership debates Owen Smith is often subject to booing and catcalls from Jeremy Corbyn's supporters.

Now the right thing to do in this situation would be for Jeremy Corbyn himself to intervene and tell his fans that this kind of bully boy behaviour not just unpleasant and unnecessary, but that it also sends a terrible message to the wider electorate. 

But that, of course, would require the kind of integrity and political leadership that Jezza so evidently does not possess.

 


Boos and Boors (11/07/16)


Andy Murray's victory at Wimbledon was a special moment which some buffoons in the crowd tried to spoil by booing when Murray mentioned the Prime Minister, David Cameron, by name. 

As it turns out Murray has much better manners than some of his boorish fans as he explained in a later interview:

"Did I mean to embarrass Cameron? No I certainly didn't.

"I appreciate he came to support yesterday and came to watch and like I said afterwards - it's one of the hardest jobs in the world with lots and lots of responsibility.
"I don't envy anyone who is in a position like that - it's extremely difficult."

Good for him, I say, because party politics have no place at sporting events and the Prime Minister, just like the First Minister, deserves to be treated with a measure of respect on public occasions.  

    

Friday, 26 August 2016

France Is Not Alone



If I had been in London yesterday, I would have gone along to support the 'wear what you want' (WWYW) protest outside the French Embassy. 

Because for me it's an issue about freedom of expression and despite the terrible Islamist atrocities in France recently this is a time for cool heads - not demonising Muslims.

But I have also been in touch with the organisers of the 'wear what you want' event to ask when and if they intend taking their protest to the Saudi and Iranian embassies - countries where women are unable to say, do or wear what they like, of course.  

In the Islamic theocracy of Saudi Arabia a woman is not even allowed to go to the beach without a male escort, never mind wear what they like, yet women are permitted to operate vacuum cleaners and washing machines, but are prevented from driving a car or travelling on their own. 

So I hope the WWYW campaign is not just another anti-western leftist campaign because that would be very sad and terribly hypocritical to boot. 

Read the report below in The Guardian.



https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/25/protesters-throw-beach-party-protest-in-london-against-burkini-ban

Burkini ban protesters throw beach party at French embassy in London

Demonstrators sport burkinis and park deck chairs, lilos and makeshift sand outside French embassy 


Image result for burkini ban protest + guardian images

Burkini ban protesters stage beach party outside French embassy in London

By Alice Ross - The Guardian

Demonstrators have staged an impromptu beach party complete with sand, deck chairs and a lobster-shaped lilo outside the French embassy in London to protest against burkini bans that have become law in many French coastal towns and cities.

Under the bemused gaze of the embassy’s armed police officers, some protesters sported burkinis – swimsuits that cover the wearer’s whole body, including her hair – or swimsuits, while others threw beach balls at the lunchtime protest.

Shortly after midday, a van pulled up and deposited several sacks of sand, to the consternation of police officers. The 40 or so protesters set up deck chairs and brandished placards among a scrum of journalists.



— CaoimheMc (@CaoimheMMC) August 25, 2016


'Aslef of Arabia' (29/12/11)


A number of readers have been in touch to ask where the 'We the Women' picture came from - to accompany the post about women drivers - dated 27 December 2011.

Well  it comes from people campaigning in Saudi Arabia - against the ban on women driving cars and other motor vehicles - public or private.

According to the Saudi authorities it's against Islamic teaching that women should drive cars - never mind trains - it's against the law of the land.

Any women caught doing so - by the religious police - are liable to be severely punished.

But all hope is not lost - because people are fighting back - with courage, wit and humour.

By arguing that it's ridiculous and even anti-Islamic - to suggest that God somehow proclaimed that women can't drive.

'We the Women' is their campaign slogan.

And the campaigners think of all kinds of ways to illustrate how crazy it is - to ordain that women can use washing machines or mobile phone or computers - but not cars (or trains for that matter).

Some women have taken to dressing up in male clothes and wearing false moustaches - to ridicule the authorities - but as the law stand women still need a man to drive them around.

Apparently a father, brother, son - or just about any old male relative will do - which seems bizarre.

Now to look at the statistics on the number of women train drivers in this country - or the number of women members in Aslef - you'd be forgiven for thinking that God had made a similar proclamation in the UK.

But thankfully no one believes that kind of nonsense in this country.

So maybe 'We the Women' will catch on in the UK - maybe even deep in the bowels of the still male dominated parts of the UK trade union movement. 

I for one hope so - anyway.

  

'Aslef of Arabia' (29/12/11)


A number of readers have been in touch to ask where the 'We the Women' picture came from - to accompany the post about women drivers - dated 27 December 2011.

Well  it comes from people campaigning in Saudi Arabia - against the ban on women driving cars and other motor vehicles - public or private.

According to the Saudi authorities it's against Islamic teaching that women should drive cars - never mind trains - it's against the law of the land.

Any women caught doing so - by the religious police - are liable to be severely punished.

But all hope is not lost - because people are fighting back - with courage, wit and humour.

By arguing that it's ridiculous and even anti-Islamic - to suggest that God somehow proclaimed that women can't drive.

'We the Women' is their campaign slogan.

And the campaigners think of all kinds of ways to illustrate how crazy it is - to ordain that women can use washing machines or mobile phone or computers - but not cars (or trains for that matter).

Some women have taken to dressing up in male clothes and wearing false moustaches - to ridicule the authorities - but as the law stand women still need a man to drive them around.

Apparently a father, brother, son - or just about any old male relative will do - which seems bizarre. 

Now to look at the statistics on the number of women train drivers in this country - or the number of women members in Aslef - you'd be forgiven for thinking that God had made a similar proclamation in the UK.

But thankfully no one believes that kind of nonsense in this country.

So maybe 'We the Women' will catch on in the UK - maybe even deep in the bowels of the still male dominated parts of the UK trade union movement. 

I for one hope so - anyway.

  

Labour Rival Draws Blood



Jeremy Corbyn's rival for the Labour leadership, Owen Smith, has drawn blood I would say with a stinging attack on Jezza for his lacklustre performance during the great EU referendum.

The problem for Corbyn, as he admitted himself on a live TV programme (see post below), is that remaining in Europe was not one of his big priorities.

When asked to rank the EU referendum in order of importance, Jezza's answer was an unbelievably lame "7 to 7.5" out of 10 even though it was undoubtedly the biggest single issue facing the country for many a year.

So Owen Smith has Mr Corbyn bang to rights if you ask me, when he says that the current Labour leader is relatively relaxed about the UK voting to leave the EU.

Unlike Jeremy Corbyn I certainly see nothing wrong is making life very difficult for the Brexiteers, as they would have done had the 52-48 vote been the other way round, and then calling for a second referendum if the cost of leaving looks very dodgy or dangerously high.



'Bog Standard' Officials (24/06/16)

Jeremy Corbyn appearing on The Last Leg

I was unfazed one way or the other by Jeremy Corbyn's appearance on 'The Last Leg' TV programme which had the Labour leader arrive in a chauffeur-driven Bentley, dressed in a dinner suit and a full-length white fur coat.

After all if you have an image problem, then why not do something out of the ordinary to confound and confuse your political opponents.

But no, my real problem with Jeremy is that in answer to a 'dolly' question about how he would rank the importance of the next week's EU referendum on a scale of 1 to 10, Jezza responded with the unbelievably lame answer of "7 to 7 and a half".

Now when so much is at stake in next week's referendum, you would think a Labour leader worth his mettle would have emphasised, in the strongest possible terms, the very real threat to the UK economy, jobs and investment posed by the country's withdrawal from the European Union (EU).

So Jeremy's a complete fool if you ask me, a political half-wit, but that's what you get if you elect as Labour leader a man who rose to the dizzying ranks of 'bog standard' union official before finding a niche as a backbench Labour MP in the House of Commons for the next 32 years.

And while there are some decent trade union officials around, believe me there are plenty of complete 'duds' in the ranks too, as the Labour party and the country is finding out to its cost.