Thursday, 31 May 2012

It takes two to tango

Alex Salmond's arrogance really is becoming insupportable. All three opposition leaders asked relevant and reasonable questions at today's FMQs and none of them got a decent reply. Calton is particularly concerned about the SNP leader's tendency to brand anyone who dares question the wisdom of independence as a denigrator of Scotland. Cheap shot Eck. Johann Lamont was quite right to question the SNP's hopes of having an influence on the MPC in the event of Scotland becoming independent and wishing to continue using Sterling. Has the First Minister, in his hubris, forgotten that it takes two to tango and that there is the small matter of getting the rest of the UK to agree to us using Sterling to be overcome? Indeed, the Treasury has said that an independent Scotland which retained the pound would "create similar risks to those we see in the Eurozone", which is not going to instill confidence in a monetary union amongst our southern neighbours. If they have any sense, they will tell us to get lost. If Alex had any sense he would stop grandstanding on shaky foundations and get down to some serious discussions with Westminster.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Naive but touching

Calton is in good company when it comes to not understanding the difference between devo-plus and devo-max. Sir Tom Farmer doesn't either. He does, however, support the idea of greater autonomy for Scotland short of full independence, a view Calton has a lot of sympathy for. Where Calton and Sir Tom part company is with regard to his desire to have more than one question in the independence referendum. Calton has already said that he thinks this is a bad idea, although Sir Tom's faith in his fellow-Scots' ability to cope with a complex ballot paper is touching. Naive but touching.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Too hot to concentrate

Calton is normally a bit sceptical about global warming, however the temperatures of the last few days are making him wonder. If April hadn't been so Baltic he might even be convinced by now. As it is, he is far too hot to think of anything, hence the lack of posts at the moment. He is considering a trip to the mountains to cool down - apparently the summit of Cairngorm still has some snow. Normal service will be resumed when the temperature drops!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Can't work, won't work

Calton highlighted the fact that some of our young people are unemployable some time ago. Now the training arm of Arnold Clark has confirmed this and it's not just some - it's over 80%. They are poor communicators, poor team players and they don't want to work a 40 hour week. If they've been to college after leaving school, they are even worse. Surely this calls for a complete review of our educational system, which is failing and spoiling our children but no, the Scottish Government's response is that most children leaving school are employable. Just what planet are they on? Calton doesn't blame the teachers - they are trying their best with new curriculums, new terms and conditions, less classroom support for special needs children and more pressure not to exclude disruptive pupils. The problem is the political correctness that says that all children should be in mainstream education, when some would do much better in specialist units, and the lack of political will to get tough with problem kids. Instead they are just shunted around the system. The educational experiments of the last 20 years are coming home to roost. It's time they came to an end and we got back to basics, starting with discipline.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

No to Scottish emotionalism

So there's going to be a pro-independence 'Yes Scotland' website. So what? Unless it can provide concrete answers to questions like What currency will an independent Scotland use? Will we still be part of the EU? What about defence? How much of the oil money will we actually get? Calton is not interested. What he wants is hard facts, not emotionalism. If he was into the latter, he'd go and watch Braveheart.

Friday, 18 May 2012

In support of His Grace

First it was Boris banning bus ads because they don't agree with his worldview. Now the Advertising Standards Authority has been hounding a long-dead Archbishop for promoting a traditional view of marriage. (See Cranmer entry for 11th May 2012.) Is it just a coincidence that the Chairman of the ASA is Lord Smith (former Labour MP Chris Smith) who is also Vice President of The Campaign for Homosexual Equality? Calton has no plans to introduce advertising on this blog in the near future however he quite understands the reasons why other bloggers do so (money) and he is very worried about the way Cranmer has been treated by the ASA. It seems to Calton that this is an attack on free speech by stealth and free speech is something very dear to Calton's heart. He therefore fully supports the stance Cranmer has taken and also the 'Feel Free To Insult Me' campaign which has been launched to lobby for the repeal of section five of the 1986 Public Order Act. This is an English Act, however we are not so separate yet that what happens south of the Border does not affect us here in Scotland and, in this internet age, it is not always clear where one jurisdiction ends and another begins. It is high time we scrapped the pernicious idea that just because someone feels offended, a crime has been committed.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

It's raining!

Peter Grant's sour comments were obviously the last thing on happy man Jim Leishman's mind as he was elected Provost of Fife today. Quite right too. Leishman is well known over the water not only for managing the Pars but also for his charity work in the years since his wife died. He will be a popular Provost. In Highland Council it's the independents who sound like they've been chewing lemons after being ousted from power by an all-party coalition. Never mind guys - it probably won't last. Meanwhile, in the Capital, the new council not only have the trams fiasco to contend with but also a storm of protest over the new cameras policing the bus lanes. It truly never rains but it pours this side of the water!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Wanted - politicians of integrity

Given that Fred Goodwin's knighthood was for services to banking, Calton thinks it entirely appropriate that he was stripped of it in the wake of the RBS debacle. Many shareholders, small and large, were persuaded to part with £2 a share in a rights issue just months before the crash and lost a lot of money as a result, while Fred walked away with a golden pension pot. Calton does not, therefore, agree with Alastair Darling that stripping Goodwin of his knighthood was a 'terrible mistake'. He does, however, think that the former Chancellor has a valid point in that others who were culpable in the banking crisis got to keep the 'Sir' in front of their name, leaving Goodwin to be the scapegoat to appease public anger. It seems that politicians these days are very quick to find a sacrificial lamb when things go wrong and the press starts howling - the sacking of Sharon Shoesmith after the Baby P affair being another example that springs to mind. Do we want our politicians to be be men and women of integrity, who do things by the rules, or people-pleasers who bow to the baying mob? Sadly, it seems that all too often we get the latter.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Oooooooh - sour grapes!

This week's award for sour grapes goes to the SNP's Peter Grant, as his coalition with the Libdems which has run Fife for the last five years is replaced by Labour in cahoots with the Tories. He attempted to cast some doubt on the deal but then went on to comment " looks increasingly likely that Labour's enthusiasm for Tory policies will be enough to secure the votes of the rump of Tories left over from the drubbing they got in the elections." Ooooooh - bitter or what! Meanwhile, the joke is on Calton, who didn't seriously think that Labour would get into bed with the Tories, especially in Fife. Will the Conservatives manage to moderate Labour's spending plans? That is the question.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Man the lifeboats!

If you're wondering why Calton has not been posting much for a couple of days, it's because he was doing this week's Scottish Roundup of blogs. Head on over to Scottish Roundup and have a read - there are a lot of good blogs out there. Unfortunately one of Calton's favourites has hung up his keyboard - the Wee Red Squirrel is sadly missed.

Looking further afield, the Greeks seem to be heading for another election, which will effectively be a vote on their continued membership of the Eurozone. The EU is steaming into uncharted waters now and the iceberg of Greek and French public opinion is threatening to sink the Euro. Calton would not be sorry to see it go, were it not likely to pull the UK down with it. Man the lifeboats!

Friday, 11 May 2012

What a lot of bloggers!

On Any Questions? tonight, Tory MP Douglas Carswell said that if all MPs (and MSPs) blogged, they would not need to cosy up to the likes of Rupert Murdoch. Interesting thought.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

What do the Libdems actually stand for?

Willie Rennie is beginning to sound like a one-issue politician, that issue being gay marriage. Not that he could really say anything at FMQs about the local elections after his party got trounced. Is there a connection between the poor performance of the Libdems at the polls and their vocal support of same-sex marriage? Certainly, being champions of gay marriage has not helped boost their popularity and so Calton wonders why Willie keeps harping on about it. Surely there are lots of other things more relevant to the general population in this time of economic uncertainty and hardship? The Libdems are looking increasingly irrelevant and out of touch, not helped by their leader's obsession with minor issues. Does anyone know what they actually stand for these days? Calton does his best to keep up with the political scene in Scotland but would struggle to name a Libdem policy apart from legalising marriage for homosexuals. It seems they really do have a political death wish.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Only joking!

Calton was just joking yesterday when he floated the idea of a Labour/Conservative coalition in Fife however it turns out that truth is stranger than fiction. It has not yet been decided who will run Fife but Aberdeen City, East Lothian and Stirling are all now in the hands of just such a coalition. Hard to envisage when Ed Milliband is going at David Cameron hammer and tongs over the Queen's Speech but there we are. Calton wonders if this new-found cooperation between the two largest unionist parties will extend to Holyrood? That might put the brakes on Alex's plans. One thing is clear - the Libdems have had it. So far, with nearly half the councils declared, they have only managed to get into power in one - Highland - as part of a 3-party coalition. There's just no way you can spin that as anything other than a wipeout. Looks like Scotland is back to three-party politics.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Bye bye Libdems - hello Labour!

So, Labour has replaced the Libdems as the SNP's partner in the Capital, although the Libdems have managed to hang onto power in a 3-way coalition in Highland Council, in spite of losing a councillor just days after the election! An SNP-Libdem partnership in Fife would give them a majority of one, provided none of the Libdems do an Isabelle Campbell, however, at time of writing, nothing has been announced. (It is just possible that Labour will hold their noses and get into bed with the Tories in Fife or else persuade the independents to come onside.) Elsewhere, adding to the embarrassment of being pipped by a penguin in Edinburgh, the Libdems were also beaten by the Scottish Christian Party in two Glasgow wards, indicating that Glaswegians are perhaps more conservative than politicians give them credit for.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Bye bye Merkozy

Alex Salmond must be breathing a huge sigh of relief that the fallout from the French and Greek election results has replaced his relationship with Murdoch as top news and fallout it is, as Merkel comes out all guns blazing over the suggestion by Hollande that the Merkozy austerity deal might be up for renegotiation. At least we are all spared the problem of trying to combine Merkel and Hollande into a single snappy name. Merkande sounds like something from Arabian Nights and Hollkel is too close to hell for comfort, although it might be the way the Eurozone is heading. The Greeks are revolting, France has said 'non' to cuts, the Dutch coalition recently collapsed over the issue before a deal could be agreed, Spain is in big trouble and Merkel is channeling Margaret Thatcher 'the lady's not for turning'. And our First Minister wants to join this lot? Nein danke!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

France, Greece and Fife

There's an old adage that says when you are in a hole, stop digging. Similarly, when in debt, stop borrowing. That message has not got through to the voters of France and Greece. They have, fairly predictably, voted against austerity. In the same way, the voters in Fife have punished the previous SNP/Libdem coalition for council cuts by swinging to Labour - the party of spend. Never mind where the money is going to come from. It just goes to show that, although democracy is probably the best political system we have, voters will ultimately vote in their own self-interest, which is not necessarily the country's interest. Looks like the Eurozone is in for some stormy times.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Pipped by a penguin

A month ago, Liberal Sellout asked Edinburgh Libdems if they wanted to die. Looks like the answer was yes, although they probably did not imagine even in their wildest nightmares being beaten by a penguin! Calton doubts whether they will ever live that down. Meanwhile, Labour has managed to hold on to Glasgow and has had a resurgence in its traditional stronghold of Fife. After flirting with first the Libdems and then the SNP, Fifers have gone back to Labour, making Jim Leishman a happy man. It's going to be spend, spend, spend over the water unless the SNP do a deal with the few remaining Libdem councillors in Fife. In the capital there's all to play for with the Green Party's six councillors holding a strong hand as the talks begin. That's three more than the Libdems!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Free tuition - costing us dear

Calton has already highlighted the ridiculous situation whereby EU students can benefit from free tuition in Scotland whereas English students can't. Now we have Northern Irish students applying for Republic of Ireland passports to try and benefit from the same loophole. Something has got to be done about this crazy anomaly before it bankrupts us.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Alex - maybe Rupert's just not that into you

It's just as well they call it First Minister's Questions because the opposition leaders certainly weren't getting any answers today when it came to whether or not the First Minister's phone had been hacked. Ruth Davidson suggested that if it wasn't, it was maybe because Rupert had Alex on speed-dial. Calton thinks it far more likely that Murdoch wasn't interested in Salmond's phone conversations. The SNP leader's friendships with the rich and powerful are looking more and more one-sided and Alex is looking more and more like a pathetic lap-dog, in spite of his attempts yesterday to be an attack dog. It will be extremely embarrassing for him if it turns out that News Corp were more interested in his aide, Joan McAlpine, than him.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Alex attacks hypocrisy

Alex Salmond has obviously decided that attack is the best form of defence and so Labour MP Tom Watson has copped it after daring to suggest that there should be a separate Scottish hacking enquiry. Now, normally the leader of the SNP would be all for Scotland doing things independently of England, however in this case he is happy to stick with a UK-wide enquiry ie Leveson. This strikes Calton as being monumentally two-faced. In the First Minister's own words, "the more they attack, the more people will recognise their hypocrisy for what it is".