Monthly Archives: September 2011

Traitors, Labour, Sold out, why?

Captain Ranty has an interesting post on his blog.

In some detail, he lays out the skulduggery carried out by the Westminster Labour Party in collusion with Labour and LibDem MSPs. Alex McLiesh and Tam Dalyell along with Tony Blair are specifically mentioned.

It would seem that these men signed away the rights to 6000 square miles of Scottish Territorial water. The water in which more oil may be discovered. The transfer took place. The document links are on the CR blog. It happened. Neither parliament was consulted. It wasn’t reported in the press.

The question is why would they wanted this and why would they agree to it? The inference is that this was a means to reduce any potential new oil wealth although the official line was that this was for adding fishing rights to the English fishing fleet. The documents you may care to look at on CRs site are the actual official documents and there are others which clearly state that a huge Scottish economic budget surplus would be the result of the oil discoveries made in the 70s.

The lies. We have been told repeatedly that Scotland gets more out of the UK than it’s fair share. This is a lie.

That we have this example of the duplicity of Scottish MPs and MSPs who represent Scottish people, do they know the meaning of that word They will say that they know better than us. That it was all part of a bigger picture. That it has benefited us more than would have been the case otherwise.

I am no fan of enquiries but here is a case where a televised enquiry is required. I want to see the guilty men sit and squirm. I want apologies from them to all the Scottish people. I want recompense from the Westminster Government. I want to see a payment made from the Westminster exchequer of £1500 for every person in Scotland as a starter. I want them to have to negotiate for the return of all oil tax and other monies with a starting point of how soon payments will start to be made rather than if.

I want, I want, I want. Petulant child? No. Angry yes. I know it’s not gong to happen. That doesn’t mean that our Scottish Government should not exploit this and expose and embarrass the treacherous, guilty men.

I’m sure they sleep soundly in their beds.



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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Politics, Scottish Independence


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Short back and sides for me please…

This post was originally written for the Subrosa blog spot and is reprinted here with permission.

There are days when I hear something on the news and I wonder what’s going on. There have been several of those days recently. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was all on the same topic but it’s been items from all over the place.

Todays was BO (Barack Obama) telling the EU that their financial crisis should be addressed sooner rather than later. Really? This is a man who is convinced that throwing money at any problem is the way to go. Not to worry though, his days in office are numbered. What will the next occupant of the oval office do when they sit down at their new desk and BO has left a note saying – no cash left, ha, ha! They’ll reach for another note that’s been left by the Chinese saying – We own you, phone us when you get a moment as we have an offer you can’t refuse. What an interesting moment that will be. Bowel control will be all… at that moment to avoid an inelegant occurrence.

The EU is a big mess. Our politicians tell us we have to be in it and stay in it because it’s our biggest market. There isn’t going to be much of a market soon. We are in hock for as long as we can imagine. We can’t trade our way out because we don’t actually make much of anything these days. Just today three thousand people working in manufacturing won’t be anymore very soon. Although there are bright spots in UK manufacturing there are too few and they are too small.

No, the next biggest achievement that our great country (the UK) is going to take part in is hairdressing.  I’ve always considered hairdressing to be a pretty safe job. I mean we all have hair, pretty much anyway, and it needs cut fairly often. So this could be a canny move. The pity of it is though not a single hair on a single head will even come close to a pair of scissors. No. This hairdressing is not for the faint hearted it’s for the con men and con ladies.

Apparently, the Greeks and some of the other Euro zone countries are going to have a haircut or a trim. This is the grand throwaway term for an orderly mass default. The figure being reported is between 30%-50% of debt will be written off. The banks will get burned but they will be able to use money provided by central banks so it won’t be a total loss. The Greeks and the other countries will be able to afford their hugely reduced debt burden and people can trading trading bits of paper for large wads of cash which they can spend on other bits of papers which they will sell to their mates until the music stops again. What a wizard wheeze! No one has tried that before. It’s bound to work. Of course it will. A man on the telly will tell us so. And we will believe him because he’s on the BBC and they know stuff.

Where will the Central Banks get the money? They’ll print more. There’s money to be made in printing money you know. Now there may be a slight surge in inflation. I say slight but it might be large, well it’s almost bound to be large isn’t it?  I’m going to get an application in soon for 50% of my debt to be written off like that too. I’d encourage you to do the same. It’s a great idea. It’ll offset our inflation, we’ll have more money to spend and we’ll have more money for them to tax. Works for everyone really.

So BO the EU has a plan. Many great minds came together to think this up including “Call me Dave” and trustworthy, confidence inspiring and man of the people George Osborne, that wee French guy and Anglia Meercat. The flashy Italian guy is with one of his nieces and the Spanish chap is a bit busy at the moment, he has to learn to do some really complicated juggling. The Irish guy has been keeping a low profile over the past week or so as he’s expecting a visit from a politician from Belfast. Can’t think why that would be worrisome. Can you?

Let’s get back to the normal quality news. Things like the world is going to end because a washed up American politician says the weather is a bit blowy and balmy, a Russian politician has had a face lift, a girlie, almost but not quite, celeb may well marry someone very rich, a lady has been to a wedding again and taken her very splendid bottom with her, Boris hasn’t been in the news for a couple of days.

A rare bird, generally called a Turkey, was thought to have suffered an unprecedented drop in their population numbers last November/December. However, the scientists who made this discovery are now saying the turkey isn’t as rare as it was thought to be. They have confirmed, after counting them again recently, that numbers have returned to previous levels although they have concerns that a similar drop in numbers may take place in November due to climate change. The scientists are asking for additional funds to carry out further research (and Christmas is coming and it’s an expensive time).

Now that is real journalism.


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Bagpipes? What the haka!

Subrosa was writing about the banning of bagpipes at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. That got me thinking.  How far are we away from not saying things are banned? Before you drift off and start contemplating how wonderfully liberating that will be I should point out that there would be a downside. And… yes you’ve guessed it… a downside so large it will be larger than a very large thing indeed.

The down side is they’ll move away from saying things are banned and swiftly start to talking about things which aren’t banned. This will be because there will be so few things which aren’t banned it will easier to list just those.

The thing is what won’t be banned? Breathing? Well maybe selective breathing for those who have value. Obviously the value will be determined by those who know best so politicians, administrators, the Judiciary, the Police, journalists (although not right wing or with “Murdoch” anywhere in their name or in a previous name), lefties and greenies will be fine

Old people, smokers, drinkers, obese people, drivers, football fans, political bloggers, hoodies, the unemployed, single parents, middle aged white males, etc. need not apply for a breathing license.  They won’t need one since they won’t be breathing. A nice and tidy solution indeed!!

Perhaps, before we get to that point, fashions will have changed.  Perhaps a new cycle will begin. A cycle that heralds a new movement called “The Human Movement” which will become very, very popular. The Humans will worship all human achievement. They will free humans from persecution. They will recognise smoking and drinking as part of freedom of choice. They will drive cars, be tolerant of other people’s lifestyles even if they don’t align with their own. The environment will, be there to be enjoyed and biodiversity left to diversify.

They may not do away with banning things altogether though. They will probably retain only two things on the banned list. They will ban politicians and bag pipes.

Nae luck pal!

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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Politics


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War Davy.

Dave was on the news again today. He’s on TV a lot. He says things. Soundbites. He sounds sincere. He sounds it but he clearly isn’t. He doesn’t have to actually live with the things he says though. Oh no, that’s for other people to do. It’s for the masses. The oiks, The great unwashed. Or you and me.

Today however, Dave played a blinder. His new “thang” is based on his Libyian success. Success is a strong word. I mean the whole Libya thing is a bit muddy is it not? It looks tribal but let’s hope it isn’t.

Anyway, Dave is hooked on saving the world. Well when I say he is hooked I mean he is going to use his influence, determination and assets to regime change when it’s obvious the regime in charge is bad. Obviously being “bad” is subjective but I have a feeling that Dave will just know what the right type of bad is and then he’ll do something about it.

He wants his mates to join in. He’s been talking to the UN. UNinterested? UNable? No. Wait it’s UNnecessary!! Everyone is to join him in his new quest. I mean he could be doing other things. Like trying to sort out the financial woes? That’s dull. It’s not dull for you and me. It’s much more exciting for us. We just need to cope with inflation, holding onto a job, reduced pensions, helping to pay for windmills for his Father-in-Law etc. etc. etc.

Now Dave isn’t going to get his hands dirty. He has people who do that. The RAF, Army and Navy. Mostly the Army tho. I think he has the romantic notion that it can all be done at arms length like Libya. Big flash planes with even bigger flash missiles and smart bombs and high tech this, that and the next thing. No sand. No booby traps. No soldiers coming back with bits missing or women and children waiting on their Husband/Dad who they will miss forever because he’ll come back completely dead. None of that. Just wiz, bang, zoom. Look down on it. No walking in amongst it tho.

Downside to his plans? Maybe his mates won’t be so enthusiastic? Where will he get the money? Will the Rebel Libyans pay Dave for his efforts? Oil? Probably but enough? For how long? No problem. He has the Royal Bank of Tax payers who will fund his plans meantime.

Why? Why is he doing this? For his own part in history? To prove to the world that he is “the man”? Surely not.

It doesn’t seem to matter who you are or where you live. You’ll end up with politicians. Smiling politicians who will promise you the earth and deliver you dirt. They aren’t all like that. But they mostly are. And we only have ourselves to blame.

If Dave is keen on regime change he should maybe start by getting rid of that LibDem/Tory crowd in London. Now that would be something we could all cheer about!! Only until the new lot took office tho. Then we’d be begging Dave for more regime change and so on, and so on, and so, on ad finitum.

No politicians were harmed during the writing of this article. (More’s the pity).

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Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Politics


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Losing faith

A few days ago I did a piece entitled “Doe we need the SNP?” I was hopeful and positive.

There have been worrying signs over the past few days that the SNP are behaving in the same way as any other political party. I know it’s early days. I know Alex will have a plan or several. I know things are going to happen which are outwith all our control.

If Independence is going to work it is going to have to be different from the union with the rest of the UK. I truly believe that everything, let me say that again everything is subject to review and change. It has to be so. Why because we have to find the basis for a modern society which will deliver the lifestyle, aspirations and pride which the Scottish people need and want. It won’t be easy. We are diverse.

The process of change and improvement should have started by now. The budget today was patchy. A tax on Tesco? That will become a tax on their customers who will include some of the people who voted SNP.

Be brave Alex. You’ll need to be or you’ll be a foot note in history a lot quicker than you may like.

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Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Politics, Scottish Independence


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Fifteen steps.

This article was originally written for the Subrosa blog and appears here with permission.

The continuous political tinkering with the education system carries on a pace. There are good reasons for this of course, the current system no longer delivers the quality of output which employers require. Of course it may also be the case that the constant tinkering makes the problem worse. Change is expensive, constant change even more so

The latest major change being considered is that of teachers’ employment. The McCormac Review, carried out for the Scottish Government, has just been produced and interested and involved parties are beginning to consider the contents. I’m not going to go through the contents and the responses since it’s a large document, which covers many topics. Instead of the political machinations lets try a bit of free thinking alternatives.

Let’s cut to the chase shall we? Discuss and develop the following –

  • Remove all incompetent, mediocre and ineffective teachers on an on going basis to protect the education system and it’s customers (parents and pupils/students). The fact that they are employed by Local Authorities should not mean they have a job for life, they should have a job as long as they are competent and fulfil the criteria required to appropriately educate the pupils/students in their care.
  •  Stop training teachers in numbers, which almost guarantee they will take a very long time to find jobs. The present system is wasteful of people and money; it is not the number of teachers being trained that is important it is the quality of the teacher trained.
  • Make it much, much, much easier for teachers to retire earlier than the government retirement age. Teachers have valuable experience and skills which must be exploited for pupils/students sake, however teachers who are no longer as enthusiastic or feel they have contributed as much as they can should be provided with an option to retire without financial penalty at a time of their choosing.
  • Contractually require retiring teachers to mentor four new teachers per year for at least two/three years following retirement. Providing best practice support and advice to new teachers based on years of success should help new teachers become more effective more quickly.
  • Ensure that teachers teach by removing all admin and providing support for planning and reporting aimed at maximising teacher to pupil/student time. This could also be a benefit in trying to ensure that all pupils receive teacher time rather than just the top and bottom groups in each class.
  • Provide a teacher career path, which is financially rewarding and provides seniority levels for good teachers throughout their career. This would ensure teachers had aims for their own improvement based on delivering continuous improvements in pupil/student progress and results.
  • Employ teachers who have the skills and talents to engage pupils/students rather than academics. Academic brilliance does not necessarily ensure good teaching skills; all teachers should know and be passionate about their subject beyond curriculum requirements.
  • Do not promote teachers away from teaching; becoming an administrator/manager requires a different skillset. However, do not employ administrators/managers who are not driven to support teachers and education and the delivery of the best outcomes for pupils/students/parents/teachers and the wider school community.
  • Reduce the number of Council Education Department Staff to the absolute minimum and divert all savings to teaching. Teaching has to be about teacher – pupil/student face to face time, everything else is secondary and the system of support should be lean and appropriate.
  • Remove, or substantially reduce, the time and money wasted in adhering to regulatory preparation, adherence and reporting.  Risk Assessments for outings for example should be carried out by administrators and made available to all schools.  Health and safety etc. should be paired back to reflect reasonableness.
  • Rethink the school year and develop a model, which is more flexible, does not set aside specific blocks of time for holidays and reflects our societal needs. It’s absurd that holidays are still based on archaic agricultural needs and religious celebrations and have start and finish times which are neither flexible nor reflect parents’ holiday flexibility. The main winners of the present system are the holiday companies who exploit and profit from this situation.
  • Take politics, religion and fads out of the curriculum of schools, colleges and universities. Large blocks of time should not be set aside to teach pupils/students politically, religious or fashionably motivated non-subjects which detract from job related subjects.
  • Subjects being taught should be prioritised on the basis of job market needs. These should be supplemented by external people being brought in to work, in partnership, with Teachers to deliver knowledge on the world of work. These people should be from a wide range of market activities, the arts, entertainment etc. etc…
  • An internal market should be created in which all schools, colleges and universities can share teaching resources and expertise. This would dramatically reduce “re-inventing the wheel” which currently takes place on a huge scale. This would allow resources to be developed and sold to other educational establishments and would also encourage teachers to share more widely whilst, at the same time, their schools and themselves would benefit financially.
  • Stability within Scottish Education should be pursued with vigour to allow consolidation and a longer-term development to take place at a pace which is sensible but which genuinely restores Scottish education to the higher end of world good education league tables. The reduction in continuous change would reduce costs and provide more time to teachers to actually teach.

As a country we already recognise the basic need for good education and a skilled and knowledgeable population and workforce. The Scottish Enlightenment was achieved on the back of a major drive to educate as many people as possible and to also encourage debate and opinion throughout Scotland (although some areas did not take part).

The SNP have broken one mould, here is an opportunity for them to break another. Think out of the box. Leave the Westminster way of doing things, way way behind.  I won’t be holding my breath however.



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Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Education


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I can feel a saga coming on..

If only. If only life was so exciting that sagas were part of it. That aside let me explain.

You will be aware that the human race, of which most of us are a part, has some jolly spanking chaps and chapesses (no not that sort of spanking!) in it who have helped us all live longer. Not just a bit longer but much longer. That is a good thing. Okay there might be a few examples of persons where longer life should perhaps not have been an option but in the main it’s a good thing.

As interesting as that may be there are down sides. This is the UK and Scotland in particular so the downside is always going to be there and, of course, we will find it. The downside is that we live longer and the younger generations have to work to pay for our pensions and our health care and on and on and on.

However this pales into insignificance. For some reason, although we are living longer this hasn’t permeated into our culture. Reaching 40 is still a major milestone. Middle age ranges haven’t changed and the perception that when we hit 50 our bodily parts head south, fail to work and dribbling (not the kindest of words) becomes a reality. Have no fear however, the antidote to old age is with us. Drum roll please… Saga and beige. Ta bloomin’ da!

Once I got past 50 I started getting mailshots from Saga. It was for car insurance initially. I can categorically state that I do not and probably never will ever drive like a 50 year old. Like a loony, certainly. But never like a 50 year old.

Then it was holidays. Saga holidays. I mean why would people who turn 50 suddenly seek only the company of people who are 50 or over? Not for me. I’m not knocking it. If it works for you or your family or friends that’s absolutely great. But it’s just not for me.

Beige is another matter. I don’t have much beige in my wardrobe, that’s because I keep it in a cupboard, I jest. I have a pair of cream chinos which would pass for beige but I’ve not worn them much at all recently. I don’t have beige shoes or cardigans or windcheaters. Bizarrely, I have brown stuff. The question is… is it brown garments first and then it becomes beige. Fear and trepidation. Oh dear.

Whats is more serious is that the job market doesn’t like older people. They say they don’t discriminate against older people but they do. They ask for experience but they want younger people, so how much experience is the right amount?

I’m expecting to live well past 80 and get to 90ish. I also expect my wife and lots of people the same age as me to achieve the same. I expect my children to live past 100 and maybe even 110 or 120. This is game altering.

How many careers will people need to have? When will retirement age kick in? How long will children go to school for? 15 years? 20 Years? Retirement? When and how?

Meantime I’ll settle for getting old badly, without requiring the services of Saga and never exploring the sartorial elegance that beige can bring. Apparently.

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Posted by on September 17, 2011 in General


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It’s a class thing…


The new “Free Schools” are up and running then and the next batch being discussed.  That sounds like progress although only time will tell. There’s likely to be some fall-out and bad experiences but that happens with any new initiative. Just as long as no children are harmed during the making of the “Free Schools” programme.

To some however, children are going to be harmed regardless. They don’t see the “Free Schools” project positively at all. You may have heard them on TV, the radio or in newspapers? I’ve heard a few comments. “Divisive” seems to be a word that’s popular for the Local Authority Education backers. They also claim the new schools will be “elitist”.  They are even trying to go on the offensive to make sure parents don’t send their children to “Free Schools”.

It’s to be expected.

We already have different types of education available for our children. There are lots of different Independent Schools and it’s “you pays your money and your makes your choice”.  Why not?

Maybe some people have forgotten or perhaps choose to forget that we are still fairly free. We are still allowed to hold opinions and we can think for ourselves. We still have a reasonable amount of self-determination. People can decide, within certain limits, where their children go to school.

Perhaps those who favour Local Authority governed education should spend time trying to improve those schools performances? After all there’s always room for improvement. Onwards and upwards and all that.   In an ideal world schools should be sharing best practice anyway, regardless of which sector, religion, fee paying etc. etc. that would be fine if this was just about what’s best for children.

Our children are our greatest asset and we owe them the opportunity to be the best they can be. Education is their best chance to start moving in the right direction. That won’t suit them all but the school system should be able to cater for all manner of differing abilities and have differing teaching techniques to cope with that.

Politics should have no place in schools. It’s such a pity that education has become such a hot potato for politicians.



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Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Education


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The fragility of creativity and those who create

I had just parked the car one Saturday afternoon when the announcement of the death of Any Winehouse came on the radio. A sad moment. My first thought was – what a waste and the second – the end point of a self fulfilling prophecy. Such a wonderful talent but such an accompanying chaotic life.

On Sunday night I was lucky enough to see Brian Wilson play live. Now I say live but what I really mean is almost catatonic. All that stunning, original talent  lost to drugs, legal and illegal.

Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix, Phil Lynott, Paul Kossof, John Entwhistle, Michael Jackson and on and on…drugs, alcohol or other excesses. James Dean fast cars, Mike Hawthorn fast cars, Colin Macrae helicopter. Lost. Gone.

All these people were phenomally creative and highly skilled. Almost all of them had long lives in front of them. They were all financially secure and critcally accliamed. Which ultimately meant that they could afford the means which killed them. Perhaps they all shared the thrill of their talent but also the thrill of their chosen vice to a greater extent.

Is there a duty of care which the record labels, movie studios, sports teams etc. should be required to provide? I ask the question because the loss of the more creative and talented people in our society is perhaps a shame? In Amys case how could anyone prevent her death? She was an adult. She was ultimately responsible for herself and there is only so much that can be done to protect heer from .. herself? You would think that the record labels, movie studios and sports teams would be wise to this. You would think that they would seek to protect their”star”. You would think that over the years they would have learned or developed a means to stop these deaths.

It may be the case that they have and the list could well have been much longer?

Amy had produced one of those albums that people buy in huge numbers over many years. She had been working in the studio on new material and whilst I’m sure we’ll get the chance to enjoy it maybe it would have been better to have Amy alive and making the wrong sort of news but not make anymore albums?

It’s true that their untimely deaths prevented them slipping down the slippery slope of no longer being successful or popular. The pressure to produce further work or a performance of an even higher standard must be enormous. The fear of failure. Writers block. Making a bad decision and not being in the right team or movie or record label. All pitfalls. All needing to be overcome.

A few years ago I watched an band being interviewed on TV. The Band was Wet, Wet, Wet who had just had their number one hit single which was in the charts for 17 week or more. The interviewer asked them how they were coping with the pressures of releasing new material and having to live up to the current success. They talked a bit about it and then the drummer gave his responce. He said that this wasn’t pressure. Pressure was desperately trying to find the money to keep a roof over your familes head and putting food on the table.

Sport, music, movies etc. are icing. Distracting and enjoyable. The real art is living a full life. You can’t do that if you are dead.


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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in General


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Do we need the SNP?

The short answer to that is yes. The longer answer is … well a wee bit longer.

We needed the SNP  to “break the mold”  and provide the shock to the system which could impart real change and awaken those who were complacent at best and willfully negligent at worst. However, as with all things, the result of the change has exposed weakness to a higher and wider degree than expected, exposing the almost shocking Labour, Tories and Libdems problems.

Labour has found itself in the position of being intellectually bankrupt. Even more so this being caused by it’s own arrogance in its belief in its traditional voting support and the reliance, for strategic action and policies, on the UK party leadership in London. The best Labour politicians , such as they are, seek London as their stage which confirms them as devote unionists, even more Unionist than the Tories. The signs are that it will take a significant amount of time to re-organise the party into a fit and proper opposition to the SNP.

Which brings us to the Tories. The Tories are a party built on tradition and change is particularly difficult for them. The Tories in England, and in the London parliament ,have no mandate in Scotland to speak of. They are between a rock and a hard place. A potential candidate for the Tory MSP leadership has spoken up and suggests that they alter their structure in Scotland to be more modern and appeal more to Scottish voters. This is is received like a unpleasant odour, not nice at all and distance being the best form of escape. As has been pointed out by others, those who seek to carry this strategy forward may find themselves having to split form the party following an unsuccessful leadership result. This may be no bad thing but it will lead to an increase in the time required to form a valid opposition to the SNP.

The LibDems. Well what to say. They have managed to turn a modest up swing in their popularity into a plunging, embarrassing and catastrophic disaster which will take at least two elections to even slightly address. Everyday their cause in Scotland, as well as in England, is weakened further by the Party in London running away from the parties core beliefs and aims whilst desperately gripping onto power within the coalition. Death grip is probably more apt to use.

So, yes we need the SNP but we also require the strength and conviction to deliver what the Scottish people expect, need and want from them for our parliament and government. Unfortunately we have to rely on the opposition to provide credible and appropriate opposition which, will keep the SNP honest and drive them on to the absolute best of which they are capable. This may well not turn out to be the case.

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Posted by on September 11, 2011 in Politics, Scottish Independence


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