Monday, 29 July 2013

In support of Criado-Perez

First it was campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez on the receiving end of rape threats for, gosh, suggesting that a woman's portrait should feature on a banknote. Hardly the sort of thing to threaten the ego of any reasonably secure male, one would have thought. Now MP Stella Creasy is getting the same sort of threats for supporting Criado-Perez, which just goes to show that some men are a) incredibly insecure and pathetic, b) total cowards for hiding behind the internet and c) have nothing better to do with their time (and probably nae mates either). If it was just a case of offensive comments, Calton would probably agree with Guardian columnist Tanya Gold about shaming rather than criminalising, however, specific, detailed threats of rape should be taken seriously and reported to the police. The fact that they are made in an online forum makes no difference and Calton is pleased to see that, in this case, the police have taken the matter seriously and arrested a man. Calton supports the right to free speech but it should not be abused to make threats of violence, including sexual violence, against anyone and platforms such as Twitter need to make it easier for people to report threatening comments. It's time we sent a tough message to the nasty little trolls out there. If the beak and talons are not enough of a deterrent, anyone threatening violence against this eagle will be reported to the police. You have been warned.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Time to count them in?

It really beggars belief that we just don't know how many people are coming into this country and how many are leaving. What is the point of setting immigration targets when we can't measure if we are meeting them? What is the point anyway, when we have no control over immigration from EU countries? Calton is not against immigration. He is against uncontrolled immigration, which is what we have got at the moment. How on earth can government and local authorities plan for housing, schools, medical facilities etc when we don't know how many people we are planning for? The UK has finite resources and a limit to the number of people it can support. Large numbers of migrants can stretch those resources to breaking point and cause tensions within communities. The Government needs to get a grip on the situation, not by setting arbitrary limits on non-EU immigration, but by looking at immigration as a whole and obtaining accurate statistics on which to base its decisions. Anything else is just empty posturing.

Friday, 26 July 2013

It's not worth it

It had to happen - a man has been jailed for stabbing two people in an argument over the independence referendum. So much for 'positive debate' - positively lethal debate more like. He's just lucky no-one was killed and his wife still wants him back. She'll have to wait a few months since he's been jailed for over a year. Calton recognises that the whole independence issue generates strong feelings but resorting to violence over it is not good. Is this really the image of Scotland we want to project to the world? And is this not the logical end-result of the violent and aggressive comments which some people seem to think acceptable to use on the internet when "discussing" independence? Calton's concern is that, no matter which way the vote goes in 2014, there will be people who will not accept it and some of them may think that violence is the way to achieve their aims. We already have a problem with sectarian violence in parts of Scotland. Post-2014 we could have a problem with nationalist/unionist sectarianism. If this is to be avoided, it is incumbent upon us all to conduct the debate with respect and in a peaceful manner. The alternative is too awful to contemplate.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

In support of wilderness

Calton has decided that he likes John Lamont. Faced with whining from Scottish Renewables over planning changes that may limit windfarm construction, the Scottish Conservative Chief Whip is reported as saying "It's no surprise to see Scottish Renewables concerned at the prospect of the wind farm gravy train grinding to a halt." Quite. The man talks a lot of sense. So does Alan McCombes in his article 'For Scottish Wildness' over at Bella Caledonia. The Monadhliath plateau above Newtonmore is a truly spectacular area of wilderness where, on a summer's evening, once all the hillwalkers have headed home, one can be truly alone with birdsong the only sound and cairns the only man-made structures to be seen. We don't have that many places like it, which is why the proposals to build giant wind turbines there are so disturbing and out of place. It's not just that they are large structures which necessitate unsightly access roads and the destruction of large areas of peat to build them. It's the fact that human (and eagle) eyes are designed to be attracted to movement and so moving structures are far more visually intrusive in a landscape than static structures. The eye is drawn to them, whether we will or not. That is why Calton supports the Save the Monadhliath campaign and is against the proposed Stronelairg windfarm. In an age of industrialisation and stress we need somewhere to go to escape it all, if even just for a few hours.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

SNP - changing direction with the wind?

Well that was quick. No sooner has the First Minister told us that oil and gas are important to the Scottish economy when a leaked Scottish Government document says that we need to move away from "price volatile fossil fuels". Calton tends to think that the leak is more trustworthy, since it is more in line with the SNP's policy of covering the countryside and coastline with windfarms, subsidised by the Scottish consumer. If the SNP are serious about tackling fuel poverty in an independent Scotland they can start by removing this subsidy, which hits the poorest hardest, and telling windfarm developers to stand on their own two feet financially. That's exactly what English consumers will be telling us to do if we vote for independence but expect them to continue subsidising our renewables industry! And just where is the evidence that Scots are more pro-windfarms than the English? Is this just another 'wishful assertion' by the SNP? Or, to put it another way, yet more hot air from a government which does not listen to the electorate? (And, while we are on the subject of renewables, the link Calton put for the tidal project at Kylerhea in an earlier post ceased to function shortly after he linked to it but it seems to be back up again and can be viewed here.)

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Alex oils out of the tricky questions

If Calton remembers rightly, it was not so long ago that Nicola Sturgeon was calling for positive debate on the independence referendum. She must have forgotten to tell Alex Salmond, who spent a large part of his slot on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme this morning slagging off Westminster. The man really doesn't do himself, or us, any favours. One minute he's saying that we don't really need the oil revenues - they are just a nice wee extra - and the next minute he's talking about squeezing every last drop of oil and gas from Scotland's waters, or so it seems. We'll certainly need every last drop if we're to see anything like the figure of £300k for every man, woman and child in Scotland. When pressed on when we would start saving into an oil fund, post-independence, the First Minister would not be drawn, presumably because he knows that, although it sounds like a good idea, it is not without its problems, and he would not comment at all on the issue of fracking. What Calton really wants to know is why we are covering our mountains with windfarms when there is still lots of oil and gas out there which the Scottish Government has every intention of using to the max?

Monday, 22 July 2013

For adults only

It's nice to see that Scotland is already leading the way in making the possession of rape pornography an offence. Calton also welcomes the proposals to have an opt-in for 'adult content' online - if you want to view such stuff you should be adult enough to admit it and, if you don't, you will welcome the automatic filtering. It is naive to expect parents to be internet-savvy enough to censor their children's viewing. This measure will help to make parents aware that their choice of whether or not to allow pornography will have an impact on what their offspring can see and will hopefully make them think twice before removing the family friendly filters. They are there to protect our youngsters from material which will disturb and corrode them, giving them a wrong view of relationships. Childhood innocence is under threat as never before in this country and anything that seeks to address this problem is welcome as far as Calton is concerned.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Hot air with nowhere to go

After spending some time at the sea on Friday, Calton decided to visit the mountains on Sunday, making the most of his chances to do so before they disappear under a forest of wind turbines. While there he kept his eyes peeled for any sign of the East Coast youngsters however they were nowhere to be seen and neither could he see any Golden Eagles. Unfortunately there is still a lot of work to be done to persuade shooting estates not to poison or otherwise kill raptors. On the windfarm front there was good news today with the refusal of planning consent for a windfarm near Drumnadrochit. How the developer can claim that it would have supported 1000 jobs over its lifetime is beyond Calton. He supposes the devil is in the detail - 999 jobs for a short time to build the thing and 1 job to permanently look after it (including sweeping up the remains of dead birds from around the towers and switching the whole thing off when it gets too windy). Meanwhile, it transpires that the government's Green Deal may result in people being roasted if we get any more summers like this one, especially if they live in the top of 1960s flats or modern detached homes. All that insulation is great in the winter but it prevents the heat escaping in summer. Perhaps there is something to be said for traditional methods of house-building using natural materials like slate and stone. Calton is certainly appreciating the slightly cooler temperatures after the heatwave of last week.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

A true reflection?

Calton does not know how Alex Salmond can say that, in a newly independent Scotland, Scottish voter's wishes would be truly reflected when his government has ignored the majority of voters who responded to the consultation on same-sex marriage saying they didn't want it, ignored the 51% of Scots who say they will be less likely to visit a scenic area which has turbines and ignored local democracy when it didn't agree with Scottish Government policy. The only thing that will be truly reflected in an independent Scotland is the size of Salmond's head in the narcissistic pool he's looking into. If the First Minister truly believed in democracy he would not only be giving us a referendum on being part of the UK, he would also be offering us one on our membership the EU. Salmond and his sidekick Sturgeon don't believe in democracy any more than Calton believes in letting seagulls get away with all the fish. What they really believe in is rule by a political elite on the basis of what they think is 'right', if their words and actions are anything to go by. Salmond may be in love with his reflection but handsome is as handsome does in Calton's book and Eck ain't looking so good by that standard.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Alex Salmond - an embarrassment for Scotland

Firstly, a big congratulations to Andy Murray for a superb win this afternoon. All the more so given the fight his opponent put up. Great tennis. Just a pity Alex Salmond had to get his oar in by waving a Saltire at the end. Thankfully the cameraman found better things to point his camera at.

It seems that the SNP are not the only ones not taking democracy seriously - former PM Tony Blair seems to have decided that it's not always the best thing in the Middle East. Looks like the Arab Spring has gone straight to Autumn, a phenomenon we Scots are pretty familiar with, although this year it looks like summer might just last more than one day. Calton's eyrie is certainly still sweltering in the heat from earlier on. For that reason he's going to finish this post and go and get himself a nice cold glass of white wine to toast Andy's win with. Cheers!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

They're aff their heids

According to the SNP, the Police have better things to do than investigate the alleged rigging of the Falkirk Labour candidate selection. Calton couldn't disagree more. What is more important than upholding democracy and investigating alleged infringements of it? If we turn a blind eye to vote-rigging and gerrymandering, wherever and whenever it happens, we may as well install Alex Salmond as El Presidente for life and be done with it. Of course, that's probably what the SNP would like. They've certainly shown scant regard for the wishes of the people since they got their majority in Holyrood and Nicola Sturgeon seems to think she rules by some sort of divine right. The Stuart monarchs thought the same and look where it got them. One of them lost his head and the Highland clans lost a lot of good men trying to put his descendants back on the throne. The present-day successors to the Jacobites are off their heads if they think that democracy doesn't matter. It matters a lot.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

And the winner of the 2013 Stable Door Award is ...

Calton has decided that the 2013 Stable Door award goes to Nicola Sturgeon for her announcement that the right to buy policy will be scrapped in 2017. Since the policy was introduced by Margaret Thatcher's government, 455000 council and housing association homes have been sold to tenants in Scotland in one of the biggest social engineering projects of the 20th century. It was a transfer of wealth on a massive scale which inflated the housing market from the late 80's until the end of the boom in 2008. Many people benefited from it but we are now living with the consequences - unaffordable private homes and a severe lack of social housing. Unfortunately, it's a bit late to shut the stable door - nowadays only around 2000 sales take place each year, compared to 32000 in 1989/90. Not that Calton disagrees with shutting it - better late than never - but he does wonder why the SNP didn't make it more of a priority when they came to power in 2007, when more than 7000 homes were being sold off each year?

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Crackdown still leaves silent killers

Calton welcomes the new crackdown on killing of birds of prey, although raptor persecution has been illegal for quite some time now and that has not stopped it happening. At least the new measures announced by Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse indicate that the Scottish Government means business on this. That, or they have realised that the public don't like hearing about yet another poisoned eagle, buzzard or red kite. Calton wonders when the penny will drop that the public also don't like hearing about birds being killed by wind turbines. Eradicating poisoning, trapping and shooting of raptors will still leave silent killers dotting our hillsides, just waiting to clatter an unwary bird on the back of the head. The SNP's slavish adherence to ridiculous renewables targets is not only impoverishing the Scottish population, it is also trashing the countryside, killing wildlife and ruining our tourist industry. And it's not only wind turbines which threaten the countryside and wildlife - a proposed tidal scheme for Kylerhea will make a mockery of the scenes we have all recently been watching on the BBC Hebrides programme. Four towers sticking up out of the water just north of the ferry route have the potential to scare off the seals, and, with no seals to force the fish to the surface on the flow tide, the seagulls will not fish, and if the seagulls don't fish, the sea eagle will not be there to steal their fish and delight the tourists. Plus, it's just an accident waiting to happen with a combination of strong tides, amateur yachtsmen and four large obstacles in the water. It will spoil a beautiful, scenic spot and how many local jobs will it provide? Precious few, Calton suspects.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Teth aile nan Eilean Siar

Calton finds it really hard to believe the unnamed Scottish Government spokesperson who said, apropos the proposed Western Isles interconnector, that "Improved grid connections will enable the huge renewable energy resources of Scotland's islands to create jobs - up to 3,500 jobs in the Western Isles, almost 2,900 in the Shetlands and over 4,500 in the Orkney Islands by 2030." In the construction phase maybe but permanently? When, as Calton has already pointed out, a seven turbine windfarm can be managed by just two part-time technicians? If you do the maths, that means that there would need to be about 25,000 turbines on the Western Isles to give that level of full-time employment. That's 21 turbines per square mile and 8% of the total Western Isles population working on them. Well, they'll probably need to be right enough, because their tourism industry will have suffered the same fate as the White-throated Needletail and there will be no birdlife left anywhere on the islands - just a lot of sad little corpses littered around the bases of the turbines. Just as well the BBC filmed 'Hebrides' when they did. Or maybe the unnamed spokesperson is talking a lot of hot air?