30 April 2011

Farewell then Eddie Turnbull

Sad news reaches me that Eddie 'Ned' Turnbull has died at the grand old age of 88. Eddie Turnbull is one of the greatest footballers Scotland (and the UK) has ever produced.

His record speaks for itself - he was inside left in Hibernian's great 'famous five' forward line and between 1946 and 1959 he played 349 games for Hibs scoring 150 goals, winning three championships - including back to back championships in 1951 and 52 (the first time a non old firm team did this). He was the first British player to score a goal in the European cup in 1955 and played for Scotland in the 1958 world cup.

As a manager he led Aberdeen to a Scottish Cup win in 1970 and Hibs to a Scottish League cup victory over Jock Stein's Celtic in 1972. He was also manager when Hibs thrashed rivals Hearts 7-0 on New Year's Day 1973.

Here's a reminder of Ned and the 'five' in their heyday.

RIP Ned.

28 April 2011

Green Party leader caught lying

Perusing the Scotsman's election coverage I came across this article.

Patrick Harvie is an experienced parliamentarian and leader of the Scottish Green Party. He, like the rest of his party, are always keen to highlight their honesty, caring and niceness and contrast it with the typical deceitful mainstream politicians. In the introduction to his party's manifesto Mr Harvie writes, 'We have consistently brought a fresh approach to politics...Greens have argued for years that business-as-usual politics could not last.'

So it comes as somewhat surprising to see see him engaging in business-as-usual politics by dissembling with the rest of them.

Let's be clear Vince Cable and the coalition government are not privatising the Post Office network - they are investing more than £1bn in it and protecting it for the future by looking at mutualisation (a Green party principle one would have thought).

The Royal Mail is a separate loss making letter and parcel delivery business.

Either Patrick Harvie and the Scottish Greens are too stupid to know the difference or they do know the difference and are happy to lie to Scottish voters by deliberately confusing two different policies. Either way it is a pretty good reason to reject them and their so-called 'fresh alternative'.

26 April 2011

In memory of Poly Styrene

The news of the death of one of punk's icons - X-ray Spex's Poly Styrene - is a sad loss. But by way of tribute here she is (and they are) at their melodic best with Germ Free Adolesence:

X-ray Spex's other hits included the Lib Dem poster team fantasy 'Day the world turned day-glo', 'Identity' and 'Oh! Bondage up yours!' all of which are readily viewable on YouTube. I'd heartily recommend doing so as a reminder of the freshness and energy of punk at its pomp.

24 April 2011

Teaching trots need to get real

The news that every teaching union is to take strike action to defend their generous publicly funded final salary pension scheme is not surprising, but it is futile and insulting to the millions of people who work without complaint on far less generous terms and conditions.

But the far left leadership of the teaching unions will no doubt point to the pressure and importance of the job, along with some headline grabbing below average salary levels (for trainees). But the fact that they get away with this is more a product of the hideously complex, opaque and lengthy terms and conditions issued by government.

You can download the 195 page document here if you are having trouble sleeping, but they seem to suggest the following levels of salary for qualified teachers:

£21,588 - £31,552 (outside London) plus £3-5K for those in London. Teachers salaries increase in £1.5k increments so in just six years they reach the top of the scale.

But they also have something called 'a post threshold scale' - presumably something to guarantee annual payrises for teachers after year six. That would take an 'ordinary' qualified teacher (outside London) from £31,552 to £36,756 in a further three years and to £40-45k in London.

But it doesn't end there...

There are also allowances called 'Teaching and learning responsibility payments' which are made for 'for the purpose of ensuring the continued delivery of high-quality teaching and learning and for which the teacher is made accountable.' Otherwise known as 'doing your job'. These payments range between £2,535 and £12,393.

So nine years after qualification your 'ordinary' classroom teachers could be earning between £39,000 and £49,000 outside London and £47,000 and £59,000 in London.

But it doesn't end there...

There are additional pay scales for 'Advanced skilled teachers' and 'excellent teachers'

Advanced skills teachers get paid between £37,461 and £56,950 outside London and between £40,433 and £64,036 in London.

Excellent teachers are guaranteed between £39,697 and £52,090 outside London and between £43,668 and £60,993 in London.

Oh and pay scales are 'safeguarded' even if the responsibilities for which they are paid end.

Of course teachers may get promoted. Head teachers salary scales start at £42,379 outside London and finish at a shade over £100k. Within London they start at £45,351 and finish at nearly £112,200

Teachers pay 6.4% and their employers (you and me) 14% of their salaries into their pension scheme.

I'm sure they will get a sympathetic hearing from the millions of private sector workers who have taken a pay cut in recent years, lost their jobs or have to make do with a contribution based pension scheme. The day they will take off work to look after their kids while the teachers are indulging in trotskyite fantasies will come out of their 20 day holiday entitlement - assuming they are still in a job.

22 April 2011

Good Friday favourite

A couple of mad Scotsmen - Gus and Fin - and their ukuleles with a cracking cover of a top tune from Gary Numan.

21 April 2011

Warsi leaps to top of sack race with Boulton interview crash

Tory Chairwoman, Baroness Warsi, must now be favourite for the chop in any Cabinet reshuffle. The car crash of an interview with Sky's Adam Boulton that is doing the rounds of the interweb is so dire it is worth repetition...

It's not just a one off though. Sayeeda Warsi is usually pretty dreadful when interviewed or when involved on a panel discussion even when she has strong arguments to put across. But here her material is about as thin as it can get illustrating the paucity of the NO to AV campaign's arguments.

And given her job is about communicating Tory policies and achievements within the coalition if she can't communicate effectively - what is the point of her?

19 April 2011

Which Conservative MP has issued a super injunction?

John Hemming knows. Maybe when Parliament returns from its Easter break he can put it on the record.

Are the BNP one of No to AV donors?

At the end of March the Yes to AV campaign published its list of major donors. It challenged the No campaign to do the same.

The no campaign refused to do so at the time. And to this date it still refuses to do so. Is this because Nick Griffin's racist party has donated cash to their campaign? Or is there another reason?

15 April 2011

Friday favourite 4

This week's offering is the lovely Claire Grogan and Altered Images. Claire Grogan was also the surprise co-star of the 1981 Bill Forsyth directed, Cumbernauld shot cult coming of age film Gregory's Girl.

Why it's always been Labour's fault.

There's been some interesting discussion on Lib Dem Voice about the Labour party's culpability for the recession and youth unemployment. There's also a call for Labour supporters to defect to the Lib Dems. But in my view neither goes far enough.

The Labour Party’s very existence is responsible for driving millions of voters into the arms of the Conservative party. You only have to look at the 100 years before the first world war when the Labour party didn’t exist in any meaningful form and socialism was considered some whacky foreign cult. Result - the Conservatives out of power for long periods and the Liberal party was the natural party of government.

Role forward to the 100 years since the first war with Labour replacing the Liberals as the main non-Tory party. Result - the Conservatives in power for most of the time and considered the natural party of government.

If Labour supporters want the Tories out of power then they know what to do. Disband the Labour party, reject the cult of socialism and come back home to the most successful non-Conservative force in British politics…

14 April 2011

Cameron's race dog whistle raises Lib Dem hackles

David Cameron has said some foolish things on immigration today. And it is good news that the two most senior Lib Dems in government have gone on record opposing him.

Tonight's London Evening Standard shows that Lib Dem ministers have started to realise the differences between the two parties are more important than the similarities...

12 April 2011

I don't believe it! Yes to AV get it right....

While attending a meeting at my local Lib Dem MP's office (every constituency should have one). I came a cross a rather good piece of direct mail from the Yes campaign.

It put three good reasons why people should vote yes on May 5th - making MPs work harder for their constituents, getting rid of jobs for life and giving voters a greater say.

It even mentioned the expenses scandal and the need to clean up politics. And the fact there is a big correlation between the MPs supporting the no campaign and those with dodgy expenses is something I've blogged about before.

So far so good you would think? But...

I wonder if anyone at Yes HQ though that putting actor Richard Wilson's name to it was quite the best idea. Given his most famous character, Victor Meldrew, is known for his catch phrase 'I don't believe it'?

11 April 2011

Banks report has making of another tuition fees fiasco

The report by academic banker, Sir John Vickers, that basically allows the mega banks to carry on pretty much as they were has all the hallmarks of another high profile independent review. That of Lord Browne's review of student tuition fees.

On publication of that report Vince Cable said, 'The government endorses the main thrust of the report' before going on to explain these were interim proposals and that he would endeavour to make changes more in line with Lib Dem policy.

Now fast forward six months and you have the sound of Nick Clegg welcoming the Vickers report this morning on the today programme. Now I don't know whether the Vickers' proposals will be significantly changed between launch and implementation, but if the experience of the Browne/tuition fees fiasco is anything to go by then the chances of really tough action on the casino bankers is seems unlikely.

It's clear that those banks 'too big to fail' are just simply 'too big'. I'm not convinced simply selling off a few (hundred) branches here and there (who to?) will increase competition. Ring fencing consumer banking within mega banks - when the risks of what used to be called merchant banking are hidden in a minefield of financial vehicles so obtuse no-one knows where they really lie - sounds like a recipe for disaster.

As usual the party's Estonian outpost puts the case much better than I (or indeed Sir John) can.

8 April 2011

Friday favourite

This week it's a cover version of one of my favourite punk songs. Here to cheer you up are the Ukelele Orchestra of GB singing Anarchy in the UK. It just shouldn't work, but somehow it does. I particularly like the harmonies on the verse where various terrorist organisations are named...

7 April 2011

The Liberal Democrats agenda for government....

I have been musing on the doldrums the Lib Dems are in at the moment. Reading much of the interweb (and the Guardian) you may be forgiven for believing the party is responsible for every sort of calumny to hit the nation in the last 11 months since it went into government with Cameron's Conservatives.

I'm sure it will become apparent that the coalition government will over the next few years deliver a significant number of Lib Dem manifesto pledges. But I'm not sure that will do - and it will mean significant numbers of Lib Dem councillors will be sacrificed on this alter of 'wait and see' on the way.

But it doesn't have to be like this. People don't have to wait and see. What the party has to do is to be clear - in about four simple and populist sentences - about what they are doing and working to achieve in government. And why these things are those that a Tory government would never do. Yesterday was a good start - it being the first day that 900,000 poorly paid people stopped paying tax.

But it has to be clear that there is more to come and this is only as a result of the Lib Dems.

Sadly - given Clegg's disasterously whining interview in the Staggers yesterday - some frightfully clever people advising him are saying he needs to be softening his image even further.

However when a substantial chunk of the people think you have lost your backbone, softening your image is the last thing you need to do...

4 April 2011

Social Liberal Forum lose the plot

I received an email this morning from a supporter of the Social Liberal Forum asking me to back their campaign calling for the government's health policy to be amended in four specific ways.

Two of which are sensible and uncontroversial - providing more local democratic accountability and slowing down the pace of change to help the NHS through its toughest settlement for decades and avoiding another massive reorganisation.

The third is some fairly meaningless waffle about market reform and cherrypicking profitable services (surely impossible unless the NHS charged market rates for its services), so can probably be safely ignored.

But the fourth is frankly crazy - and sadly is what party reps voted for at the recent spring assembly. It calls on the party to 'ensure the Health Secretary had a duty to provide a fully comprehensive and free health service, with no gaps and no new charges'

Fully comprehensive and no gaps - really? This means that every NHS facility in every part of the country should offer the same fully comprehensive service - so leafy Surrey should have the same facilities to fight alcohol and drug related disease as Glasgow council schemes. Diseases of affluence should be taken as seriously in Hull as is Havant. Its clearly either prohibitively expensive and wasteful or egalitarian nonsense and should be opposed by liberals and anyone who believes in localism.

Needless to say I won't be signing it - but if anyone wants to either sign it or find out more the link is here: Forward to a better yesterday

3 April 2011

What have the Romans done for us?

This web page is doing the rounds of Lib Dem blogs. And not bad it is too.

But I'm using it as an excuse to link to the Python original which always bears repetition.

1 April 2011

Friday favourite

This week'sFriday favourite shows Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart at their pomp. But it's not the Eurythmics. It's with the late Pete Coombes as part of the ultimate post punk pop band the Tourists.

And one of the bizarre things about this video is it's filmed at the semi derelict Quainton Road station on the old Great Central mainline. And as a result I hope Lord Bonkers and his representative on the interweb - Jonathan Calder appreciate it.

April fool of the day

The Shetland Underground...