Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Better late than never

So the party of 'spend, spend, spend' has finally woken up to the fact that we are giving far too much to the EU in these times of austerity. Either that or Labour just wanted a stick to beat David Cameron with because they are not known for being either prudent (and Calton is using the word in its true, pre-Brown sense) or anti-EU. Whatever the reason for their vote today it's better late than never. The EU budget is out of control and the British taxpayer is the loser. What Calton can't quite get his head round is a Conservative Government being defeated by Labour and its own backbenchers for not being tough enough on Europe. Extraordinary. Times are certainly changing.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Totally depressing

It's bad enough to have to come back to the city after a wonderful week in the West Highlands without being depressed further by Alex Salmond's announcement today of yet another stupid renewables target. Murdo Fraser is quite right when he points out that the SNP's target is "completely underpinned by wind power. Not only is that an unreliable and intermittent source, but it's led to turbines blighting communities across the whole country." As yet, you can still get wonderful views from the mountains on the west coast without turbines blotting the landscape but for how long? The amount of truly wild land in Scotland is rapidly shrinking and, with it, the attraction for tourists. We are cutting off our nose to spite our face.

Friday, 26 October 2012

The EU - an obituary

MP Douglas Carswell has likened the UK's membership of the EU to being 'shackled to a corpse'. Calton couldn't have said it better himself. The EU is a deadweight which both the UK and Scotland could well do without. It stinks. No amount of tinkering with it will sort its problems. It is fundamentally flawed. It's pushing up the daisies. It wouldn't live if you put 5000 volts through it. It is an ex-union. Hopefully the legal advice which the Scottish Government is now finally getting around to asking for vis-a-vis the EU will tell them that we won't automatically be a member if we become independent. Then the people of Scotland can really have a choice about who governs us.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Keep up the pressure Jackie!

Calton likes to think of himself as a fair-minded person and he came away from watching Alex Salmond's interview with Andrew Neil with the distinct impression that the First Minister was deliberately trying to obfuscate the question of legal advice. The phrase used by Salmond -  "in terms of the debate" - is, at best, open to differing interpretation and, at worst, totally meaningless. Of course it's no surprise that Nicola Sturgeon has leapt to her leader's defence (although Calton wonders when she is finally going to realise that Eck is a liability rather than an asset) however, thankfully, Jackie Baillie is not letting the dear Leader off the hook. More power to yer elbow Jackie!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Praying for a minority government

It's not often that Calton gets his prayers answered in 3 days however, with today's damaging admission by the SNP that they have not in fact sought legal advice from the Lord Advocate over Scotland's membership of the EU post-independence, it is clear that there is a God in heaven who listens, unlike the Scottish Government. What is truly scandalous is the fact that the SNP were prepared to spend public money on a useless court battle against a FOI request by Labour MEP Catherine Stihler (which they have now dropped). Their credibility is going down the toilet. All it needs is for a few more SNP MSPs to resign from the party over NATO and we might well be back to a minority government. Calton is off to say his prayers.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Wanted - a longer spoon

It's no surprise to Calton that the SNP are prepared to ignore the advice of the Electoral Commission, given that they don't listen to anyone else. And for Nicola Sturgeon to say that Scotland won't be "bought and sold for anyone's gold" is a nonsense when the SNP are bribing voters with free personal care, frozen council taxes, free prescriptions and free bus travel for the elderly and the average man or woman in the street would vote yes or no to independence depending on whether or not it made them £500 richer. How can the SNP Government possibly make an impartial decision on spending limits for the referendum campaign? That's the role of the Electoral Commission. Unfortunately Michael Moore seems to have been duped by the Deputy First Minister into thinking that the SNP would abide by the Commission's advice. More fool him. You need a longer spoon than he has got to sup with the SNP.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A bit on the tough side

Calton apologises for the brevity of his posts at the moment but he is on holiday in the Highlands, where the scenery is to die for and you could die waiting for a web page to update! The only super-fast download happening hereabouts is the emptying of Calton's bird feeder by the local population of Coal Tits. And just in case you are concerned about the thought of a Sea Eagle feeding small birds, it's OK - Calton only eats politicians. He might have been tempted to have a bite of the recently departed Tory Chief Whip however the Labour vultures got there first and Calton suspects Mitchell would have been a bit on the tough side, despite hanging (on) for so long.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Does money Trump class?

That's right Eck - play the class card, like we've all forgotten your own attempts to cosy up to the likes of Murdoch and Trump. Or is it OK if they've got money as long as they didn't go to Eton? Who are you trying to kid? This isn't so much about Lord Snooty as shades of Desperate Dan. Salmond has also pledged to 'tell the truth about Scotland'. Hopefully that will include a response to the FOI request about what legal advice, if any, the Scottish Government has obtained regarding our position in the EU if we become independent.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Pot calling kettle black

It's a bit rich of John Swinney to say that it's time the Chancellor George Osborne listened, given the SNP's own poor track record of listening to the electorate. If Swinney and his pals have their way, Scotland will be an independent basket case with a large deficit and a downgraded rating, paying high interest on her debts to fund the SNP's vote-winning handouts, until the EU wades in and tells them to cut spending. As a party, the SNP have realised that Scotland will have to be a member of NATO if she wants to be taken seriously past-independence. Unfortunately, the same maturity is not evident in their approach to government finances. Time to grow up, boys and girls.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Staying in the EU is nonsense

It just does not make sense for the SNP to keep complaining that, as part of the UK, they do not have all the fiscal levers needed to help the economy, while all the while they are determined to stay/become part of the EU if Scotland becomes independent, especially in the light of Frau Merkel's most recent comments in which she stated that the EU should have "real rights to intervene in national budgets". Which of those seven rather frightening words does Alex Salmond not understand? Is it only unacceptable to the SNP when England intervenes in Scottish affairs but it's OK if Europe does it? Who would you rather have sticking an oar into our budget - England or Germany? Calton would rather have the former any day of the week. If our First Minister truly wants independence he needs to go for our own bank and our own currency and stay out of the EU. Anything else is just nonsense.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

An almighty stushie

There is an unholy row going on over in Glasgow at the moment over the ownership of St George's Tron Kirk. Glasgow Presbytery has decided to replace the current vibrant congregation which ministers to the needs of that part of the city centre with another "vibrant congregation ... ministering to the needs of that part of the city centre", the difference being that the current lot don't agree with the Church of Scotland's stance on practising homosexual clergy whereas the proposed replacement bunch would presumably toe the CofS line. Where the new congregation is going to come from, in these days of dwindling church attendance, doesn't seem to figure in the Presbytery's calculations. Nor do they seem to realise that, by grabbing the building and all the congregation's finances, they are sending out a signal to all parishioners everywhere that it's not worth putting money into your local church because it is liable to be appropriated and you could well find yourself out in the cold if you don't agree with the Kirk in all matters, temporal and spiritual. Calton suspects that we will see a lot more old churches being converted into pubs, clubs and carpet warehouses in the next few years as the Church of Scotland self-destructs.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Dave keeps it simple

Calton is pleased to see that there is only going to be one question in the independence referendum and that it has to be held before the end of 2014. That still seems rather a long way away however at least we have a definite backstop, unlike the possible referendum on EU membership.......

What does need kicked into touch is the SNP's loaded referendum question. Whether the Electoral Commission has the wellie to do so remains to be seen. Calton sincerely hopes they do.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Norwegian satire

The Norwegians must be having a laugh - awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU in a week which has seen French fishermen chucking half bricks at UK fishing boats and demonstrations in Greece against the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Satire may have died when the prize was awarded to Henry Kissinger but, if so, it has had a miraculous resurrection. Ironically, Norway is not a part of the EU. If it were, perhaps its government would not be so quick to praise that most undemocratic of institutions for 'advancing democracy'. As for 'peace and reconciliation', tell that to our fishermen. Their job is dangerous enough without a barrage of missiles to contend with. Tell it to the Greeks, whose economy has shrunk by 25% under German-imposed austerity measures. There may not have been a pan-European war since 1945 but the shadows of the last one are all too present in the current Greek crisis. We would do well to remember that the cause of WWII was the punitive reparations forced on Germany at the end of WWI.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Send in the Navy

Calton has long argued for a 200 mile fishing limit policed by gunboats. The need for it has become even more apparent since the French seem intent on not playing by EU fishing rules. That's nothing new or 'plus ca change' as they say in France. Back at home it seems that all our officials can do is monitor the situation. Not good enough chaps - what we really need is a modern-day Nelson to see off the French and protect our fishermen. Somehow Calton can't quite see Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon in that role, nor is anyone from the Scottish Government stepping up to the plate, in spite of the fact that Scottish boats have been attacked. The 'auld alliance' may have served Scotland in the past but those days are long gone. Time for us to tell the French (and the rest of the EU) where to go. With gunboats.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Calton's 1p worth

Calton fully supports the idea of a national discussion/debate/call it what you like as long as we talk about how best to spend our money so that it benefits the most/most needy in society. So here's his tuppence ha'penny worth (or 1p in new money):

Given that no-one now gets a state pension on their 60th birthday, and in a few years no-one will get one before their 65th birthday, it does not make sense to be giving out free bus passes to 60 year-olds. If we decide to keep free bus travel for pensioners it should start on the date they actually get their state pension.

Payment for local services should be based on ability to pay ie income, not on the size of house you live in. The so-called 'mansion tax' idea being touted south of the border penalises elderly people who are equity rich but cash poor because all their money is tied up their home. We don't want that up here. Tax earnings, not assets.

If we keep free personal care for the elderly, we need to understand that the cost will be cuts in other services for the elderly, such as subsidised gardening or day care centres.

Let the debate commence.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Heading for the SKIP?

It's about time politicians in Westminster realised that the problems with immigration are not caused by those outwith the EU wanting to come here - they are caused by unrestricted immigration from the majority of the EU countries. Calton is not against immigration per se - many immigrants make a real contribution to the economy and our society - but there needs to be controls which apply to those from EU countries as well as those from outwith the EU. David Cameron is obviously worried about the UKIP threat wiping out his non-majority at the next election but at least he is moving in the right direction vis-a-vis the EU. The question is - will Europhile Alex Salmond do the same if Scotland becomes independent? If he doesn't, Calton will be the first to sign up for the SKIP (Scottish Kingdom Independence Party).

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The benefits of a minority government

Johann Lamont is quite right to point out that in order to maintain popular but expensive SNP pledges, such as the council-tax freeze, no tuition fees and free personal care for the elderly, taxes will have to rise or other services will be cut. Calton said much the same thing a few days ago, however, as long as the SNP have a majority in the Scottish Parliament, both Calton and Johann are whistling in the wind. The SNP can do what they like. All that the Scottish Labour leader can do is carry out her policy review, set out her plans for how she would balance the budget and hope that the SNP's autocratic attitude gets up enough people's noses to wipe out their majority at the next election.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Martha's meals

Good to see Jim Murphy talking about an in-out referendum on our membership of the EU, although postponing it until after the economic crisis ends and the Eurozone stabilises sounds like a kick into the very long grass indeed. So long that Scotland might be independent by the time the rest of the UK gets round to voting on the EU. If that should be the case, will Scottish Labour campaign for an in-out referendum? It would certainly put some clear blue water between themselves and the SNP if they did.

Scotland has long had links with Malawi, and Calton is not just talking about one former Labour First Minister, so it was fitting that the money raised by schoolgirl Martha's blog NeverSeconds should be spent in that country, providing meals and schooling for children. Martha has been on a visit to Malawi to see what their lives are like and you can watch a short video of her trip here. Amazing  what one blog can do.