Monthly Archives: February 2012

Work, work, work

Whilst this is usually a busy time work wise for me, this year it’s incredibly busy.

Tha being the case I’m having to cut down substantially on blogging for the next 3-4 weeks.

I hope you’ll be able to bear with me.meantime.

I greatly appreciate the time you take to visit my blog.


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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Uncategorized


Parking revenue

That wonderful organisation, known by the name of “Edinburgh Council”, has once again demonstrated how out of touch they are, not only with voters but with people who might like to visit Edinburgh and spend some money here.

Their latest wheeze is to increase parking charges in the busiest areas of the city. Now these are the busiest areas because people want to go to them and do stuff. They have targeted the New Town and Stockbridge. The New Town has George Street, Princes Street and Multrees Walk, the main shopping areas and Stockbridge has lots of smaller individual shops and coffee places etc. Well done the Council. Good move. It will also hit people who work in the hundreds of businesses in these areas also. Not because they take their car to work but because they sometime can’t avoid having to do it and they have clients who drive in to meet with them.

Parking in Edinburgh is not cheap and there are a lot of restricted “residents parking” areas which residents have to buy a permit. This operates on the basis that commuter’s park in these areas and residents can’t find a space. There is some truth in this but it may well not be the real reason. The price increase and all other strategies relating to parking are solely aimed at raising revenue.

Recently we have had the Council reject out-sourcing services, even when Council Officers and independent auditors have advised that out-sourcing would save the council millions.  We’ve had the building repairs saga which has cost property owners thousands of pounds in inflated fees and unnecessary work. And we’ve had the trams. £200 million short, no problem the councillor’s will borrow it on our behalf and we, the local council taxpayers, will pay it back for years and years.

There is a big furore about Glasgow Council and the way the Labour majority group have been doing things. The SNP are aiming to sort things by winning the most seats in the local council elections in a few months’ time. What are they going to do about Edinburgh Council? They are in coalition with the LibDems at the moment. Who are the LibDems? They are history, toast, gone for a long time.

Have the councils understood what is required to reduce their spending and do it in as fair a manner as possible. Edinburgh Council has made cuts but at the same time they are extorting as much money as possible from not only Edinburgh residents but tourists and visitors.

The SNP input to Edinburgh Council does not do Alex any favours. Edinburgh Council are demonstrating very successfully how out of touch politicians are, safe in their bubble.

Grandstanding on TV and in the papers is necessary at this moment in time so that Alex can take the fight to the Unionists. I’d suggest he get his councillors under some sort of control which ensures councillors demonstrate care and understanding of the current economic climate which is far more likely to get worse than it is to get better.

I, for one, will be making sure that the council get as little of my money as I possibly can. I’ll start walking more and I won’t be shopping in the expensive parking areas if I can possible avoid it. I have the feeling that I won’t be the only one.


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Celebs and hacks.

When will it ever end, which of the many things which are irritating, unfair, nasty and just plain downright greedy? The whining and profiteering of the so-called celebrities of course.

Last week saw more of them whine again at Leveson and accept money from the press for “hacking” their phones. Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan chief amongst this batch.

Steve Coogan actually said that his case against the press was never about money. However he seems to have accepted the monies that the press felt it necessary to hand out to stop the on going crusades by the celebs, the politicians and of course the segment of the press (the BBC and The Guardian) who are above such things (maybe not as far above them as they like to portray however).

Hugh Grant is on his high horse. He’s climbed the ladder, from offering lifts to ladies who turn out to be not completely innocent in the ways of some gentlemen, through fairly bumbling acting skills based on playing himself in every part he’s aver had, to become a knight in shinning armour fighting the good and honourable fight against the ghastly press. What a hero.

Mr Grant wants the press controlled by the same sort of privacy laws they have in France. I don’t think the general populace in the UK want that. In fact I think they actually don’t care about celebs at all. Some may like reading about them and seeing into their world but they don’t really care much about what happens to them unless they have some huge reason.

Steve Coogan also wants controls over the press. If Mr Coogan was acting purely for moralistic reasons he wouldn’t accept the money offered. He would have it go to a charity. What is absolutely, definitely clear though is that all the celebrities who are “shocked” by press treatment will expect the press to turn up in droves to cover their latest utterances when they have a book, film, TV prog or some personal news they’d like to impart to benefit their “Celeb” status.

Mr Clifford was also waxing lyrically this week. Mr Clifford portrays himself as a fixer in as much as he can stop articles appearing which might cause his clients embarrassment whilst also using the press to push stories, which might provide a positive response for his clients. So he needs the press then?

I think the answer to all of this is simple. The press should stop publishing articles on celebs, politicians, footballers, etc. etc.. Well when I say stop publishing I mean stop publishing for free. Charge advertising rates for any coverage. This might endanger some publications, which major on celebs? If the press as a whole stuck rigorously to this they would end up making more money surely?

The other opportunity for the press is for them to investigate the celebs who have been making the most of the current situation. Good old fashioned investigative journalism, leave no stone unturned, done legally and feet deep evidence to back it all up. Or just don’t give any further free press to these same celebrities, it’s for the celebrities own good is it not?

Let’s hear Call me Dave propose a bill, which makes it illegal for the press of any type or flavour, report anything at all about any sort of celebrity including politicians. He won’t though. He can’t afford it and neither can all the other politicians and celebs.

It would be wonderful if it happened though.

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Posted by on February 11, 2012 in General, Politics


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The greatest literary revue EVA!!!

This post was originally written for the Subrosa Blonde blog and is reproduced here with permissions.

Charles Dickens was 200 years old this week, quite some feat I’d say. Okay it was the 200th anniversary of his birth then.  By all accounts he was a busy man, capable of writing more than one novel at a time. Impressive. I toil with two blog posts at a time.

I’ve read a few of his books, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol jump to mind. I read them because I was told to at school. I’ve also seen some of the films and the TV series as well. I’m not sure I got as much out of the books as I should have done. It’s difficult to read a book that someone else insists you do, not always mind you, but when you are young you are less likely to want to do what you are told.

Dickens was writing successfully from the early 1830’s onwards which was during the end of the “Little Ice Age”. This is more famous now because it’s existence was omitted from Dr Manns hockey stick graph which our dearest and most respected friend A Gore used to such good effect in his film about global warming.

Old Charlie boy Dickens makes mention of the cold and describes the winters in his books referring to ice and snow which we don’t get anymore, well apart from last week anyway and last year and the year before that.  According to Charlie D there were Ice Fairs on the Thames and people skating and the like as you do when the weather is chilly and inclement. He was there, he saw it with his own eyes.

Don’t let anyone tell you that the Thames failing to freeze is a sign of global warming. It is nothing of the sort.  It doesn’t freeze because the river has been altered by man, (not that Mann, I know he goes to enormous trouble to get his facts right but even he couldn’t manage that) and now flows quicker than before making it unlikely to freeze; although that won’t happen because we don’t have ice and snow and frost anymore.

Where were we? Oh yes Charles Dickens. He was strong on social comment. Oliver Twist “Please Sir can I have some more?” “No Oliver. You’ve had your bowl of gruel so you can’t have another. I’d like to, but of course it wouldn’t be good for you. Calories you see. Don’t want you growing up over weight; cholesterol and high blood pressure to watch out for as well. All due to the food you eat. Hence no salt, no sweet things like cakes and sweets. Good grief no.”

On a lighter note though, lots of good songs in that Oliver Twist book and lots of dancing too. Amazing canine care comment in there, well before the need to have a Dangerous Dogs Act.

And then there’s the delightful Christmas Carol with Mr Scrooge. He won’t part with money. He’s a canny soul. Oh yes. No point in throwing money around on grandiose vanity projects and as for charity? Well. We have the Big Society now and thank goodness for that! Is there still such a thing as the Big Society, it’s gone awfully quiet Dave if there is?

Charity begins at home apparently, I beg to differ it actually begins in India. We pay our taxes and our government then use some of that money for  “aid”. Sometimes it’s good “aid” but, well, sometimes it’s not so good. Our politicians give the money to people who don’t actually want it and because we’re skint we have to borrow it in the first place and then pay it back at a rate of interest, which is less than appealing. India gets “aid”. There are people there who live in real poverty but India can afford a space programme (I’m not clear whether it’s Doctor Who or Star Trek though), French fighter jets and they send aid to Afghanistan. Slightly odd really.

That David Copperfield was just magic! Tricky at times though. And then there’s Uriah Heep not such a humble band when you got up close at one of their gigs. I’m amazed that Charles Dickens invented a heavy rock band even before electric guitars had been invented? How did he know? Spooky!

Bleak House? Sounds like there might be not too many laughs in that one.

Did Dickens write the Merchant of Venice? He must have because it’s pretty damn fine. Keeps you on the edge of your seat right until the last bit. I’m not altogether sure about the accuracy of it mind you. It might be just me but where were the descriptions of those chaps with the long poles and the groandolas? No mention either of all the blooming tourists and those whacking great cruise liners they park round the back? Stupidly I thought that Venice was in Italy. How wrong was I? It’s actually in Las Vegas. Now there’s a place that gets it’s pound of flesh regardless


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Another one bites the dust.

It would appear that Fabio Capello has resigned as England football coach. On the face of it Fabio seemed to be at odds with the decision to remove the captaincy from John Terry on the basis that he had not been found guilty, as yet, of the charges, which have been made against him.

There have been rumblings that Fabio wasn’t a happy boy and this seemed like a good time for him to move before the European Championships where England might not fare that well, leaving the blame with Fabio making him less employable for other potential teams.

I’ll admit straight away that I’m not a great follower of football and this is easily demonstrated by the fact that I have a liking for East Stirlingshire FC. I used to play football when I was young and go to big games but I kind of grew out of it. I got back into it again when my son was young and I took him to some of the local teams in the area where the crowds were smaller and behaviour less confrontational. Pie quality may also have played a small but important part of game choice also.

As I have said on many occasions and blogs I like English people and I like England. I’m not keen on English sport commentators however. No matter the sport they are very jingoistic and I mean very. You may have noticed this?

A few years ago a friend from England was in Scotland when England were playing in the World Cup. Scotland wasn’t. We’ve stopped doing that since we’ve not been producing the quality of player that we used to. We do however; seem to produce really good managers. Just take a look at the nationality of managers in the English Premiership, quite a few of them are from north of the border.

Anyway, the friend wanted to watch one of the England games and he was quite shocked at how the commentators came over away from the English setting. He was particularly scathing about the constant harping back to 1966. More recently some of the comments made by English commentators with regard to Andy Murray haven’t been particularly useful and in some cases perhaps less positive than they could have been.

Harry Redknapp has had an interesting few hours. Firstly he was acquitted of the charges against him for tax evasion and then he’s “in the frame” for the next English football manager job. I’ve no idea why anyone would want that job. It’s like the English press make it very difficult for the team to achieve anything. Don’t they know they are all on the same side?

Anyway, Harry must be pretty relieved that he a free man. Perhaps he shouldn’t get too comfortable however. The system now seems to be that the authorities will just keep on taking people to court until they get the verdict they deem is “right”. John Terry may also fall foul of this. Perhaps nice Mr Huhne may find himself on the receiving end of this new justice too. Call me Dave won’t have anything to do with that though. He’s a big supporter of Mr Huhne or something like that.

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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in General, Politics


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Educational musings

Over the past few weeks I’ve been laying out radical changes, which may benefit the education system within Scotland. I’ve worked closely with education establishments on a number of projects although I’m no teacher.

In Scotland we took great pride in being able to boast that we hade the best education system in the world. What we didn’t mention was that our reign as best in the world was a long, long time ago. Our education system still worked pretty well until the late sixties when the basic structure of the system was altered in an attempt to create a more level playing field for our children.

It’s patently obvious that this system hasn’t worked and the longer it has been in place the worse things have got. How do we know the education system isn’t working? Because the system is aimed almost entirely at having our young people achieve a degree whilst at the same time the quality of the degrees available have been greatly diluted.

In order to address this, significant and far-reaching change is necessary. This is required so that our young people have a real opportunity to achieve their full potential. This immediately flags up a significant problem; since all of your young people are individuals with differing strengths and weaknesses could we ever develop a flexible enough education system, which would provide the learning, experience and support on an individual basis?

The easy answer is of course NO. Then this is qualified by saying it would be far too expensive, the additional resources required would require substantial budget increases, which are just not affordable. I would argue that we cannot afford not to give every one of our young people the best possible opportunity to be the best they can be. As a country we need this, as a country we have successfully achieved this albeit on a much smaller scale and a long time ago.

The first ten points I’ve identified are as follows –

  1. EVERY pupil/student should achieve their full potential;
  2. EVERY student teacher should achieve their full potential;
  3. There is NO PLACE for politicisation within education;
  4. There is NO PLACE for religion in any area of education;
  5. REDUCE the size and influence of local education department to the lowest possible level required to support schools.
  6. EVERY pupil should be treated as an individual and not be subject to a dress code.
  7. Successful methodologies and best practice should be adopted in order to provide the BEST learning experience possible for pupils/students.
  8. The pupil/student RATIO should be around 6:1.
  9. Teacher advancement would be measured solely on pupil/student ACHIEVEMENT.
  10. Schools should EXPLOIT the greater school community to provide a rich content learning experience for pupils/students.

Essentially the system would need to be developed on the basis that every learner would receive the encouragement and support they required in a manner tailored to their needs. The learner becomes a partner within the educational system. They have needs and wants which require guidance and support which builds on their strengths and helps them be aware of their weaknesses.

This can’t be done in a class of 40 or a class of 20 for that matter. Whilst various strategies have ben tried and tested to stream learners by age and ability the basic flaws have not been addressed. The flaw of course is that each time leaners are streamed they are placed into one of three sub-groups: the top 5-10%, the middle 80-90% and the bottom 5-10%. Their position within these streaming may alter depending on subject or peer group although it is unlikely that they will dramatically vary their over all group. If they do then it’s likely that a much higher position in a subject stream exposes a potential talent whilst a much lower position in a subject exposes a lack of suitability for that subject.

The central aim is to have every learner achieve his or her full potential within a system, which encourages and delivers the correct environment for this to take place.

This can only be achieved if teachers are also supported and encouraged to achieve their full potential as a teacher. The management structures within schools would then have to alter with teachers being the most important element within each school. This would almost certainly reduce the role of the Head Teacher who would no longer be directing the activities and structural delivery of the teaching. Head Teachers would teach and work directly with all teaching staff to enable “every learner achieve their full potential”.

The structure of teaching career paths would have to alter significantly too. Good teachers would not be promoted out of teaching they would be promoted to increased teaching not just of learners but of student and lesser experienced teachers. In such a system teachers would be able to gain more money and status within the school based solely on their ability as teachers.

Administrators would be there to support teachers to maximise teaching time. Perhaps they would be student teachers learning not just how to teach but also on what is required to allow good quality teaching to take place.

I’ll return to this subject again and again over the next few weeks.


Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Education, Politics


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There’s a lot to be done.

Winning the referendum with a resounding YES vote is the most immediate aim. Party activists have been out and about and on TV and radio putting out the message of why the Scottish people should vote for Independence. The Conservatives, Labour and the LibDems have been extremely busy reminding the people of Scotland that we are too wee, too poor and too stupid to run our own country.

Scottish voters have reached a point of some balance, half think it’s a good idea and the other half think it isn’t. As long as the ConLabLib keep up their negative canvassing then the greater number of Scottish voters will join the SNP and will decide voting for Independence is the way to go.

Is there a positive spin available from the Unionists? I can’t think of anything they could offer proactively which wouldn’t come across as negative to the Scots. The Union has worked for 300 years so we should stick with it? Together we all benefit from keeping the Union? Nope that’s a far as I can get with them and it.

Banish any thought that the Unionists will go positive. It doesn’t look like there will be a position which is positive. Creating fear and perhaps being a little less accurate, shall we say with some of the arguments seem to be the only tools in their toolbox; for now anyway.

You will be familiar with the word – banish. It has been a well-used word historically. A chap would be banished because he’d done something so bad there was no place for him in the country he lived in. Let’s hope that some of the Scots on the Unionist side stay within reasonable bounds of fair debate. This may prove difficult for Douglas Alexander, Danny Alexander and Michael Moore (who was off absent last week suffering from chicken. Oh wait a minute, oops, oh sorry I got that a bit wrong, is was due to chicken pox).

But what do we do about those that have already transgressed? Gordon Brown for getting things wrong and selling out the RB of S and the Bank of Scotland, Tony Blair for getting into wars, Alistair Darling for the RBofS and Bank of Scotland.  There may be others. It may be a long list.

Of course we’d never banish any of Scotland’s sons and daughters. Probably. Some will choose to leave of their own accord although I don’t see their influence in Westminster being anything worthwhile.

Post referendum we’re looking at either a defeat which Call me Dave reckons will set back Scottish Independence for 30 years or so or we’ll have a win and Alex will be out of a job just like Churchill after the Second World War. The SNP are a party of independence made up of people who want independence but who will want to pursue their own political flavour of what that will be.

Will the Labour Party pick up the pieces following a yes vote? I don’t think they will. The SNP have been successful in part because Labour have been so abysmal and dire for a long time now. Voters will take time to forget how the Labour Party in Scotland neglected their duty in improving the lives of the Scottish people that they did so whilst slavishly kowtowing to Westminster makes it even worse.

One last thing; over the past few weeks I’ve spoken with a couple organisations, which are pretty high up the food chain in the UK. One mainly based in Scotland and one mainly based in England. The Scottish based one is involved in a procurement agreement, which is fronted by an English company, and the English based one is buying very specific Intellectual Property from a Scottish company.

On the face of it this seems pretty normal and acceptable. However, the agreements are heavily reliant on UK government support. There will be a myriad of things that need to be sorted out following a successful yes vote and that will take time. There may be additional costs due to some partnerships being dissolved or cancelled.  However, these will be temporary.

Remember it’s not “stop the world we want to get off”, it’s “stop the world we want to get on”.



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