Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The weak in politics

Watching the Labour drones at their 'conference' must leave poor David Icke feeling vindicated in his 'we are ruled by reptiles' theory. Ed Miliband and his Labour Party must be the most uninspiring bunch of wet sanitary towels I've ever seen since the Lib Dems. It may be unkind to say this but Milibland comes across as one of Icke's race of lizards who is desperately trying to get his message across to those of us who don't possess forked tongues and cold blood. I'm not sure about the mental capacities of iguanas but Milibland certainly has a short memory.

Miliband's audience in 'rapt' attention.
Sitting on his sun-warmed boulder at Labour's 'gathering to be lectured', the weird reptilian talked about the need to tackle rogue businessmen who tread on morals and people in order to make a fast buck. Who does he mean, I wonder? Is it Tony Blair, who with Iraqi blood still fresh on his hands, is now coining it on speaking tours while also masquerading as a 'peace envoy' in the Middle East? Or could it be the AlphaMale Dr John Reid? The one and only Baron of Cardowan, alleged sex-pest, fellow Iraqi war-criminal and 'consultant' to Group 4 Security?

Our Kingdom/ Open Democracy sheds some light on the 'nice' and ethical nature of G4S's business:
Given the numerous accounts in these reports of policy breaches, inadequately trained staff and both physical and mental damage caused to detainees while in the care of G4S — not to mention the death of Jimmy Mubenga after ‘restraint’ by G4S last year — it is unsurprising that the company scored so poorly with regard to human rights. 
With regards to ‘political activity’, G4S pays £50,000 a year to former defence secretary John Reid MP (now Lord Reid) for 'strategic advice', an appointment made mere months before G4S were able to secure a lucrative four year MoD contract and while Reid was still a serving MP.
Danny Alexander is bad for the health of Scotland.

While Reid may be a hard-man, the same couldn't be said of the revolting Lib Dem non-entity that is Danny Alexander - he of white-pudding countenance. He's complaining that the Scottish Government spends too much money on vanity projects in the central belt. Does the suet-faced whinger think that we forget the LibDems voting to spend £millions on Edinburgh's farce of a tram project instead of dualing the A9? Perhaps the next time London-based Alexander gets his lard and oats in a fankle over the Scottish Government, he should reflect on why the Lib Dems were reduced to only 5 MSPs at this year's election.

Being reduced to a 'rump' is what could happen to the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party - to give it its full name in which it revelled during the anti-Irish mania of the 20th century. The Tories have finally woken up to the fact that their social acceptability in the eyes of the Scottish public is roughly on a par with Fred West, Jimmy Hill and Jeremy Clarkson - all of whom could probably be touted as the new 'Scottish' leader with no discernible fall in ratings.

Scottish Tories unashamedly go for the populist vote.
Strangely enough, the two main 'Unionist' parties in Scotland seem desperate to gain their 'independence' from their masters in London. Surely this situation couldn't possibly work?

Under Blair and Brown's Labour government, the gap between rich and poor widened. The same greedy businessmen who Miliband now derides were often keen to deposit some of their 'fast bucks' into Labour coffers. I don't recall Labour refusing any of it. In the top picture here, we see the main players in English/ UK politics - all of them white, privately educated millionaires. As I've mentioned before, the leaders of the 'radical' far-right alternatives such as UKIP and the BNP are of the same stock. Somehow I just can't see that rich/poor divide narrowing any time soon.

The silver lining in all of this though is that these odious and uninspiring chancers may be the ones who preside over the emergence of an independent and hopefully progressive and egalitarian Scotland.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Free schools or freak schools?

"Good morning Mr Murdoch"

Further to an earlier piece on the latest Tory knee-jerk reaction to have squaddies in schools, here's more, courtesy of Open Democracy. net, on the 'free schools' idea that has taken root south of the border. The freaks involved are not the poor kids but the assortment of unsavoury characters and organisations seeking to brainwash or indoctrinate the next generation. Not surprisingly, 'faith' groups have leapt at the chance fill youngsters' heads with more mumbo-jumbo. Surely if their faith is that strong why can't they wait until the kids are 16 and can weigh up the evidence with a more adult mind? Or are they unwilling to pit reason and evidence against this/ these omnipotent god/gods?

Also worrying though is the inclusion of such bastions of morality as News International. I guess this could mean an end to 'bad behaviour' in England's schools. Once News International have garnered enough info by eavesdropping on conversations in the smokers' corner or by reading the kids' emails, permission can then be obtained from either David Cameron, Nick Clegg or Ed Milliband - whoever is 'toughest' on crime at the time - to send in the dead-eyed Iraq vets to sort them out.

To quote:
ARK Schools managing director Lucy Heller, who has just this month opened two ‘free schools’, hails from Rupert Murdoch’s empire where she was managing director of News International subsidiary TSL Education. (Murdoch, by the way, is preparing to expand his education business, and the minister who has had breakfast, lunch and dinner with Rupert Murdoch more frequently than any other is . .. Michael Gove, a former News International employee).

Read more here: 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Eòrpa reveals Labour's PFI disgrace

Award-winning current affairs series Eòrpa returns to our screens tonight on BBC Alba. Desptie Eorpa being produced by Gaelic-speaking Scots, friends from outwith the 'UK' have commented that its probably the most outward looking television they've seen here. 

As well as its usual coverage of issues from the European continent, tonight it looks at the PFI disaster which New Labour bequeathed to our grandchildren. While New Labour couldn't get away with openly shunting all our health and education services into the private sector, it did at least make it the landlord for many new schools and hospitals. This means that some of our schools will be paying private business for many years to come. The final cost of these buildings to the taxpayer will be many times what the establishment in question cost to build. Eorpa though reveals that this is just part of the problem.

According to Eorpa:
Tha cùmhnantan PFI air a bhith connspaideach bho thòisich iad ann am Breatann sna '90an. Buidhnean poblach a' pàigheadh companaidhean prìobhaideach an uibhir seo de dh'airgead gach bliadhna airson goireas a thogail is a ruith airson ùine shònraichte. An dèidh sin tha an togalach aig a' bhuidheann phoblach. Mar a tha Darren Linc ag innse ged-tà, tha Eòrpa air fianais fhaighinn gu bheil an talamh fo feadhainn dhiubh fhathast gu bhith aig a' chompanaidh prìobhaideach airson mòran bhliadhnaichean an dèidh dhan chiad chùmhnant airson an togail is an ruith tighinn gu crìoch.
PFI contracts have been the subject of controversy since they began to be used by the UK government in the 1990s. Public bodies paying private consortiums yearly to build and administer a new building for a certain number of years. Afterwards, the building is owned by the public sector. As Darren Laing reports though, Eòrpa has been given information that the land under and around some new PFI buildings is set to remain in private ownership for years after the initial building and running contract ends.
Not only are we indebted to private business for the next century, but in the here and now, these PFIs are making the every day running of schools more difficult than it should be. Should teachers or staff wish to decorate the school with children's work, then permission needs to be sought from the school 'business manager' first. After all, who would want blue-tac stains and thumb tacks ruining their precious cash cow? Even the local council has to seek permission to use the school and its grounds for publicity purposes.

A timely reminder of why conservatives and other slaves to big business - be they Labour, Tory or Lib Dem - cannot be trusted with public services.

Eorpa. Today on BBC Alba at 20.30.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Celtic's midfield and the Scottish Defence League?

In the underwhelming aftermath of last week's EDL/SDL 'static' demo in Edinburgh, I found myself doing a spot of online research into those guardian angels who have taken it upon themselves to defend me - a Gaelic speaking atheist - from the 'Muslamic' hordes who apparently are massing somewhere between Berwick and Jedburgh. Anyway, during my rumaging through various forums and Facebook pages, I come across a certain Celtic FC midfielder, Scott Brown. 

In case you didn't know, around 100 football hooligans claiming to represent the Scottish and English Defence Leagues as well as 'Casuals United' chose to congregate in the centre of Edinburgh against the wishes of the democratically elected local council. This lead to a huge police operation (and tax bill) and a headache for ordinary citizens wishing to go about their business on a Saturday afternoon.

Just why do they feel threatened by Muslims? Are they gonna try and erase our Scottish culture and identity? Will they beat our Scottish language out of our kids? Wait a minute... haven't Anglicised Protestant Scots already done that? And, don't we already have various versions of Abrahamic mania - like the Wee Frees and Catholic Church - who seek to force their violent religion on us?

Whatever, it was kind of interesting to see a current member of Celtic FC rub shoulders with the violent right-wing and sectarian/ racist (no-one really knows which yet) SDL.Celtic FC are of course, the 'nice' half of the Old Firm - a progressive force for liberté et égalité whose current chairman is former Commander of the British Army in Iraq, John Reid. Nuff said there.

The interesting bit is that Scott Brown is wearing Celtic colours and is obviously representing the club. The SDL guys appear to be representing their own organisation, something that Brown doesn't seem too concerned about. According to other comments on the Facebook page, fellow Celtic player Anthony Stokes apparently chose to stay in the vehicle. Proof maybe that Scott Brown is not the sharpest tool in the box?

Then again, if Scott Brown is displaying his lack of critical faculties, he's in good company. Even the SDL aren't too sure of who they are if picture below is anything to go by. This tattoo was proudly displayed by one SDL member on said Facebook page. This comes after the well circulated 'Muslamic rape gangs/ ray guns' video on You Tube. Maybe we should welcome more Muslims to Scotland as maybe they could teach the SDL and EDL a bit about the grammar of their own English tongue?
Join the SDL: high IQ not required

This leads me back to the question of just who and what the EDL and SDL are? Racist? Fascist? Sectarian? The vast majority of them seem to be involved in football violence - organised violent crime in other words. The 'EDL' seems to be just another excuse for a scrap. After all, why would ordinary Scots want a gang of criminals who can barely master the English language as self-nominated defenders? And why do they have a bee in their bonnet about Muslims? Having said that, it was interesting to read a complaint from a Rangers' fan who complained that he was attending a wedding with his South American girlfriend on the Royal Mile when she was racially abused. Other SDLers have been photographed throwing the Nazi salute while some of them profess support for Israel. They truly are a weird bunch. Maybe their biggest beef is with ordinary people who are lucky enough to have 5 fingers on each hand?

But, if they really want to 'defend' Scotland then... why don't they 'defend' small Scottish businesses on the 'traditional high-street' against voracious big business like Tesco? Will they 'defend' native flora and fauna like the Caledonian Forest or the capercaillie? Will they 'defend' the indigenous Gaelic language of Scotland? Will they 'defend' native crofting communities against the whims of rich landowners, be they Scottish or foreign? Will they 'defend' the rights of Scottish people to good living standards such as reliable and cheap public transport, free health care and good state education that's free from the interference of private companies? Or why don't they content themselves with saving stray cats?

The EDL and SDL make much of 'supporting our troops'. However, the respect has not been returned. War veterans in Scotland expressed opposition to SDL plans to march past the cenotaph in Glasgow. Little wonder. Why would some dignified old men want drunken football hooligans 'paying respect'? What are they gonna do? Urinate on the Cenotaph?

These guys are idiots and criminals. I'm not much of a royalist nor a Daily Mail 'law and order' type but I'd be very happy for Her Majesty's Police Service to give this lot some 'British justice'.
Respecting our troops? Or saluting English architecture?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Squaddies in free schools?

There is one 'Union dividend' which us Scots should really appreciate and that is that under the Act of Union, our education system remained independent. It may have let us down at times - such as in the 1872 Education Act which effectively demanded an end to the use of any language other than English as a medium of education. This lead to more than a century of kids in Gaelic speaking communities from Stirlingshire to Sutherland having their community tongue forcibly removed. But, it was ours to keep and to improve.

Enlightenment has seen big strides in Scottish education since those dark days. The new Curriculum for Excellence promises to put research, inquiry and rational thinking into the heart of the classroom. Rather than teaching to the exam and filling kids' heads with lists of dates and facts, why not teach them to ask, to enquire and build their own skills?

England is stuck with a right-wing mentality and a top-down attitude to education. Fill their heads with 1066, 1945 and 1966. And, if they forget or object... lets get our unemployed squaddies in to 'give' them some discipline.

No wonder that Terry Deary, author of the Horrible Histories, hates schools. In a recent article in the Independent, he:

... brands the national curriculum the "biggest disaster in British history".
"W B Yeats said education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire. The national curriculum has turned children into buckets. And teachers are just bucket-fillers now. Dividing knowledge into subjects is a very archaic approach to studying."
On top of elitist 'free' schools, the latest ConDem wheeze to appeal to goose-stepping chattering classes of Middle England is to put soldiers into schools. It seems incredible that in an age where anyone teaching a child in any form of the word is vetted for any kind of criminal record that politicians would want to put brutalised, war ravaged and institutionalised basket cases into 'teach' our kids is incredible. The British Army's track record on discipline ain't that hot either. Apart from the cases of torture in Iraq there are the numerous sad incidents of bullying in British Army barracks such as Deepcut which has seen many teenagers left dead, either through murder or suicide.

Just what untrained soldiers are meant to achieve is not explained. Trained teachers can use many methods to deal with unruly pupils. Teachers in Scotland's schools regularly work wonders with some of the damaged young products of our society. Their efforts may ultimately count for nothing but that is more likely than not a result of failures to address poverty, addiction and violence in many of our communities. General permissive attitudes in society towards anti-social behaviour haven't helped - and here, I'm thinking more of MP's, bankers and journalists than hoodies.

So, will Cameron's short, sharp, shock squaddies beat up wee Jimmy if pulls a face during a Maths lesson? Perhaps insolent wee Billy will just be stripped and urinated on? 

In the meantime, I'll take my lessons from the kind of progressive and multi-lingual education systems we see in the Basque Country, Finland and Norway.