Wednesday, 18 March 2020

The Post-Resilient Society

Covid-19 is exposing some fundamental flaws in the way we live today. If schools had had to be shut 50 years ago it wouldn't have been a problem as most children came from two-parent families with one parent at home. Shops and industry hadn't yet heard of "just-in-time" delivery and so would have had more stocks available to cope with shortages and panic buying. People still understood the concept of rationing and the idea of selflessness. Most Mums knew how to make food stretch and most kids loved beans on toast and home-made chips from the sack of tatties in the bottom of the larder. We were resilient. Not now.

Now we have a guy filling his trolley with pasta and refusing to give a packet to a pensioner. We have had a run on toilet paper even although Covid-19 does not cause the runs. Parents are panicking because they can no longer rely on schools, nurseries and grandparents to do their parenting for them. Chinese people have been abused in the street and woe betide anyone who coughs in public.

The government has responded by throwing money at the problem. A lot of money, which is devaluing Sterling. It's a quick fix for an urgent problem but the real issues are much deeper. We have a housing shortage which has pushed up prices, forcing both parents in families to work just to afford a home. We have far too many workers on zero hours contracts or in pseudo-self-employment with no sick pay entitlement. Family breakdown and the idea that kids don't need both a mother and a father has meant a rise in single-parent families, which, unless there is wider family support, are less resilient and usually less well-off.

The only positive thing Calton can see so far in this epidemic is the sign that it may kill off or at least weaken the rampant individualism which began in the Thatcher years and has only grown since. For every pasta hoarder there is a selfless helper. May the latter grow in strength!

Monday, 2 March 2020

No Place for Workplace Bullying

Having suffered workplace bullying himself, Calton feels quite sick at the way in which Tory MPs have sought to defend Priti Patel on the grounds that she is doing a good job. Others have defended her on the grounds that she is getting a hard time for behaviour which would be accepted in a man. Since when was shouting, swearing and belittling people acceptable behaviour by anybody? Calton realises that often workplace bullies get away with it because they are getting results and that is all that matters to their managers. That doesn't make it right. And bullies are just as likely to be women as men. At the moment we only have Sir Philip Rutnam's version of events, however it is worth pointing out that he is being backed by the civil service union, the FDA, and unions do not back constructive dismissal complaints unless they think they have a case. Calton sincerely hopes that Rutnam will take his case forward. As for the Cabinet Office investigation - he does not have much faith in that.

If you have been affected by workplace bullying you are not alone. See the bullyingUK website and the excellent American website Do not continue to suffer in silence. It's not your fault.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Superforecaster or Neonazi?

Calton is not a fan of shouting for people whose opinions and/or beliefs do not agree with his own to be sacked, in general, however Andrew Sabisky should never have been hired in the first place, if the quotes attributed to him are correct. It seems that Dominic Cummings was so keen to get a Superforecaster on the Number 10 team that due diligence was not carried out and the result was that they got someone whose views are straight out of 1930s Germany. The idea that poorer, less educated people were having more children which would lead to a lowering of intelligence in the nation - check. The advocacy of forced sterilisation through contraception - check. The lie that whites are superior to blacks in terms of intelligence - check. The resurrection of Eugenics - check.

The reason that Calton would be calling for Sabisky's sacking had he not resigned is because we know what the end result was of the beliefs listed above - the extermination of 6 million people in the gas chambers. We should learn from history, not repeat it.

For a more in-depth treatment of the thought processes in 1930s Germany read Chapter XIX Shadow of Tom Holland's excellent book - Dominion. Better still, read the whole book.

PS. Calton regards Superforecasters in much the same way as he regards the so-called Prophets of the modern Charismatic movement and his chances of one of his 1001 premium bonds coming up.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Exclusive Faith-based Cults

Jackson Carlaw's recent comparison of the SNP to an "evangelical faith-based cult" may not, and indeed is not, going down well with some evangelical Christians and Calton has some sympathy with them. However Carlaw is quite right in his analysis. Whether it will help him to electoral victory is another matter ...

Meanwhile Christians are patting themselves on the back at the news that "one of them" has just been appointed Scottish Finance Minister, replacing the emotionally immature Derek Mackay, who is apparently now getting medically assessed after bombarding a 16 year old boy with 270 messages. What these Christians don't seem to understand is that cults are exclusive. Mutually exclusive. You can only belong to one at a time. Their leaders demand unquestioning obedience and a total lack of criticism. You have to give your all, 24/7 - you can't be a member of one cult on a Sunday and another Monday to Friday. It doesn't work that way. Which takes us back to Kate Forbes. It is claimed she is a Christian but, from what Calton can see, she seems to be a fully paid up member of the cult of Nicola. Her arrogant tweet on the resignation of Sajid Javid was certainly pure SNP.

With the banning of Billy Graham's son Franklin by SNP-led Glasgow City Council, the battle lines have been drawn. The SNP are ploughing ahead with gender recognition proposals which many Christians (and feminists) are unhappy with and they are promoting porn in our schools. If Forbes doesn't have the sense to get out she may well be pushed out for holding views unacceptable to the SNP cult. (The murmurings have already started.)

In the meantime Calton would like to remind her that a person can only serve one master (or mistress).

Thursday, 12 April 2018

The BBC is all at sea over gender

Some folk think the BBC is biased. Calton thinks it is just plain bonkers. Nowhere is this more evident in its attitudes to gender. Today, John Beattie introduced us to Tom Daley's "husband" in Australia, swiftly followed by the presenter back home falling over himself to apologise for referring to another male presenter as "her". Earlier in the week Kaye Adams hosted a discussion on young people accepting their bodies, which is fine, except that when it comes to young people accepting their gender and genitals, Kaye would be one of the first to be advocating hormones and surgery rather than acceptance, judging from previous comments she has made. Well guys and girls, you can't have it both ways. If a man can have a husband, what's the big deal about referring to a man as "she"? If the answer to not being happy with your body is hormones and surgery, why should that be restricted to unhappiness about gender?

It's not surprising that young people today are confused about their gender and their sexuality given the way the BBC is promoting ideas such as "gender fluidity". It'ssad that so many of them hate their bodies, including their gender, and want a quick fix for their perceived problems. It is utterly tragic that adults who should know better are not helping them to accept themselves as they are, not only in terms of body shape and appearance but also gender. Because the fact is, our sex is written into our chromosomes. It's as fundamental as that and we change it at our peril. Calton is particularly concerned with plans being put forward by the Scottish Government to allow any man to self-declare as a woman. This will put women and girls at risk by allowing men into women's changing rooms and other safe spaces. And when it comes to sports, only those who are XX should be allowed to compete in women's events. Not XYs, even if they have artificially lowered their testosterone and grown their hair long.

Friday, 16 June 2017

High Rise Hell

In the light of the utter tragedy of Grenfell Tower, Calton is reconsidering his views on a room with a view. He finds it absolutely astonishing that a 24 storey tower block could have only one staircase and be subject to far less stringent fire safety regulations than hotels or workplaces. That is just not acceptable and must change. Any housing block higher than fire brigade turntable ladders can reach needs to be demolished if it only has one escape route. We don't need a public enquiry to work that out. It is common sense. And safety should take priority over aesthetics (and cost) when it comes to refurbishing buildings. It's not as if we don't know how to get it right - Calton witnessed a good-going fire in an Edinburgh Georgian tenement a few years ago. Some drunken lads apparently thought it would be a good idea to have a real fire in their living-room. In the middle of the floor it seems. Then they went to bed and left it. A passing taxi driver first raised the alarm when he saw flames at a 1st floor window. By the time the Fire Brigade arrived the front window was out and the room ablaze. The occupants were decamping via the back window after a neighbour chucked a brick through it to rouse them. The flat was totally gutted however the surrounding flats were structurally sound, affected only by smoke damage above and water damage in the shop below. There were no fatalities and, apart from the lads responsible, everyone else was back in their homes that night. That tenement was built in the 1840s and still stands today. We have learned nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Calton's deepest sympathies are with all those who have lost loved ones and their homes in the Grenfell disaster. He has the greatest admiration for the emergency services personnel who attended the scene.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

On reflection ...

Nicola Sturgeon has been talking a lot about calm reflection since last week's election however, if anyone wants a preview of what that actually means, they only need to watch the recording of today's First Minister's Questions, in which the said FM was aggressive, combative and anything but calm. Not only that but her reflection so far does not seem to have given her any self-awareness or insight as to why she might have lost 21 MPs. Quite the contrary as, without any sign of irony, she accused the hated Tories of exactly the same mistakes she herself has made (no plans, heading over a cliff, one-trick pony, a referendum which no-one wants). The good ship independence has been holed below the waterline but Sturgeon is steadfastly refusing to change course. She has only one mode of operation - angry nationalist.

Ever since the Brexit vote it has become increasingly evident that Nicola Sturgeon is not as smart as her predecessor (who is now back waiting in the wings). Instead of taking time to reflect after the EU referendum, she was straight out of the trap shouting INDYREF2. Her round-trip of Europe achieved nothing except to increase her already large carbon footprint and her ignorant treatment of Theresa May only got her a slap-down. Spilling the beans on a private conversation with Kezia Dugdale has damaged Sturgeon's integrity and her last-ditch attempt to try and win over Corbyn supporters was risible. Ruth Davidson is not "floundering" - she is on a roll which the current leader of the SNP is unable to stop. How long will it be before the SNP decide to replace her with someone more effective? After all, "independence transcends" ...

Friday, 9 June 2017

No Votes for the One-Party State

Calton managed to stay up last night until after the exit polls, which he treated with some scepticism. He went to bed but woke up at 3.30am, by which time Robertson and Sheikh had already gone and Salmond was soon to follow. Calton's joy would have been complete if Wishart, Blackford and Cherry had joined them but it was still a good night - and there's always next time. Which may come sooner than we all expected due to the dire overall UK result (for Theresa May that is - and anyone who likes stability and is in favour of Brexit, like Calton). It was definitely Corbyn's night down south, just as it was Davidson's up north.

What is clear, to Calton, is that the British public do not like the idea of a one-party state. May's biggest mistake was to try and crush the opposition. That did not go down well in England just as Sturgeon's attempts to appropriate the Scottish voice to her party only did not play well in Scotland. It may also be that the British public, being a lot less liberal and PC than politicians and the media would like to think, just don't like bossy women running the show with nobody to oppose them. That is not a view Calton agrees with (he does not have a problem with strong women, as his twitter followers will know) but, sadly, it is out there.

Like it or not, coalition government is here to stay because that is what the public wants. What Ruth Davidson needs to do is learn from the mistakes of Sturgeon and May and not become proud. (And if you want to hear hubris personified, just listen to Sturgeon's speech at lunchtime today.) Strong government is good but so is strong opposition. Sturgeon's acknowledged mentor Alex Salmond successfully negotiated a minority government from 2007-2011. She has been unable to do likewise and has suffered as a result. Will she learn from this? Calton thinks it unlikely. Expect more SNP losses in future.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

A taxing issue

The Liberal Democrats are not going to be forming a government next Friday. They are not even going to be in coalition with the governing party, which is just as well in Calton's opinion. OK, so the Libdem plan to add a penny onto income tax will not cost low earners a lot, thanks to the fact that the personal allowance has increased massively in recent years. It still seems downright wrong to increase taxes on the lowest paid at all. Those who think it's OK to pay an extra penny tax to fund the NHS obviously are not in the position where every penny counts. They are not those who are going into debt each month to pay the rent. We all want a decent NHS but we should not be asking the poorest workers to pay extra for it. And if the moral argument against taxing the low-paid doesn't work, Tim Farron should consider Gordon Brown - he abolished the 10p tax rate, the tax paid by part-time cleaners went up and Brown ended up out of a job. Willie Rennie stood on the same ticket of raising income tax in the Holyrood election last year - his party was beaten into 5th place by the Greens. Raising the level at which we start to pay income tax has been a huge benefit to minimum wage workers and it is thanks to the Libdems that we have such a policy. They need to learn not to give with one hand and then claw back with the other.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Scots' Labour's Lost

Calton is really sorry for Scottish Labour supporters. Their politicians are trying manfully (in the case of Ian Murray) and womanfully (in the case of Kezia Dugdale) to cope with it but the truth is, they have been sold down the river by their party leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Even before his latest announcement on Scottish independence, Calton has heard from lifelong, stauch Labour supporters who are planning on voting Conservative. Now, those who don't want a second independence referendum may as well tear up the tactical voting sheet and vote Tory. Even in former Labour strongholds like Fife. It doesn't matter how many caveats Corbyn added to his statement or how Murray or Dugdale try to spin it, the bottom line is that Corbyn is willing to talk to Sturgeon about a second referendum. Given that his chances of getting into Number 10 are slim to none without Scottish Labour MPs, Calton thinks that Corbyn has just thrown the election. And Scottish Labour will be looking for a divorce from the English party on June 9th.