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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Reducing the drink driving alcohol limit

It was reported yesterday that the drink drive legal limit is to be reduced to 50mg% from 80mg%, which brings Scotland into alignment with the majority of countries in Europe.  Personally I’m in favour of 0mg% being the limit which a few countries in Europe already have but having said that changing the drink drive limit should always be based on firm research in depth which is clear and based on empirical evidence which shows numbers of lives which will be saved.

Of course things are never as straightforward as they seem. Police regularly test drivers for alcohol levels when they have been stopped for something else. They even do it on spec later in the evenings at weekends. Good idea I hear you say. For whom? Certainly not the people who are driving without any alcohol in their system but are still forced to take the test.

Now I am not a supporter of this “deterrence” by the police. They use the same tactics in other ways where they can arrest people on the basis that they may have gone on to do something illegal. If you are being threatened by someone and you go to the police they will say they can do nothing because no crime has been committed which means that you’ll have to put up with it until that someone thumps you in full view of a number of impeccable witnesses. Good system.

Anyway, you might want to cast an eye on the government statistics on drink driving casualties and convictions here. You’ll see that the numbers have fallen dramatically over the years although there have been ups and downs.

The figures show that the Scottish statistics are below the 10% of population level, which in itself needs more investigation. The message coming from the Scottish Government is that the Scots drink way more than the rest of the UK and beyond. Do these figures mean that although we drink more we don’t get in our cars and drive?

There are two further significant blips in the data. Firstly the number of female convictions has grown and continues to grow and secondly 52% of convicted drink drivers are under 33 and predominantly in the 20-24 age group according to the Institute of Alcohol Studies.

The number of deaths in Scotland due to drink driving is 30 although these deaths include passengers. 30 is again under the normal Scottish population ratio of 10% of the UK as a whole. Will the new limit reduce deaths? You would like to think that it would. However, it’s not a given and whilst 30 is a lot of dead people it’s a very small number statistically making it more and more difficult to reduce.

There is one further issue to consider. Drugs. Whilst statistics do not seem to be available as yet it also seems obvious that drug driving related accidents also contribute to both the alcohol related driving accidents and non-alcohol related driving accidents.

The Scottish Government don’t have a good track record of introducing increased restrictions such as the ban of smoking in public places. The claims that were made following the introduction of the ban were not confirmed by the NHS statistics. The ludicrous claims for “second hand” cigarette smoke are baseless. Have you known anyone at all or anyone who knows of anyone who has died of second hand cigarette smoke inhalation? No.

All governments seem to have only two tools when dealing with issues. Either they try to heavily tax the activity they want to stop and/or they fine and convict people. Hardly the work of intelligent and gifted politicians?

Cultural change, although difficult to achieve in the short term, is the best route to changing behaviour. Alcohol abuse and drink and drug driving will only be effectively tackled through culture change. Doing anything else is sadly only a side show.

http://www.drinkdriving.org/drink_driving_statistics_uk.php

http://www.ias.org.uk

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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Health, Justice, SNP

 

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Voting YES for Scottish Independence is not a vote for the SNP.

The Yes Scotland campaign will hopefully gain a reasonable momentum in the next few months. This would be a good thing would it not? Their initial aim to encourage 1 Million people to sign up to the campaign is also a fairly positive thing to do. I’ve signed up, have you? You might like to consider doing so or even do it right now (here) if you haven’t already.

This is a kind of strange situation in a way. The referendum is subject to legal requirements based on the devolved parliament having the powers necessary, which is why, Call me Dave has become involved. However, following a Yes vote the Union is finished. The Union is a Treaty and as such can be withdrawn from at any time, by any partner.

Of course there will be a lot of horse-trading to be carried out. Scotland will need a good settlement in terms of assets and of course debt also. This is all fairly obvious and has been discussed although not in any specific detail as yet.

The TV debates so far have been very predictable, well they would be wouldn’t they given that they have been set up to be biased towards the unionists. The unionists state that the union has been good for Scotland over it’s 300 year life. It may have provided the basis on which Scottish entrepreneurs were able to build up significant businesses but did it actually deliver any infrastructure, share wealth or improve the lives of the Scottish people directly? Of course not, how could it ever have achieved these things? It was and still is Westminster, English Establishment centric.

The Labour spokespersons who take part in these debates rant on about how good the union has been. They do not take responsibility for their abject failure over many years to alleviate dreadful poverty, appalling health issues and a lack of good quality long-term employment in Scotland. They are also, of course, Westminster, English Establishment centric, the Scottish Labour MPs greatly assist keeping Labour in power in the UK.

The Tories have nothing to offer. Their new leader in Scotland has no real mandate and there is only one Tory MP in Scotland. The Labour and Conservative parties should be focussing on how they will have to evolve to survive in a post YES vote in the referendum.

The Greens are banging on about how Scotland could have some sort of amazing economy, which wouldn’t be based on greed and would not grow year on year. Scotland would reduce its carbon footprint and be far more environmentally friendly. Whilst we would all like to see greed removed from our economy there are far greater issues which have to be considered first.

How about we get people into good quality work that pays a fair and decent wage? How about we aim for full employment, which in itself would remove many of the social issues we have? Full employment would also reduce taxation for everyone since more people would be paying tax in general.

Gaining control of oil revenues and working with the oil exploration and production companies would ensure that more money stayed in Scotland and more money was gathered fairly and with benefits for everyone involved.

It all sounds utopian? Of course it does. Stay out of the EU, trade with our historical partners as well as other newer countries around the world. Stay out of wars. Have a defence force only there to defend Scotland. No more foreign wars. No more separate services just one single military entity. A huge reduction in government and regulation at all levels. A clear contract between the people and our elected representatives. A huge reduction in powers for the civil service. I could go on and on.

And yet there is one single recognition, which needs to be made by everyone in Scotland.

WE WILL NOT BE VOTING FOR THE SNP AT THE REFERENDUM, WE WILL BE VOTING FOR OUR OWN AND OUR CHILDREN’S FUTURES.

It doesn’t matter what party individual voters normally support. It does matter that they vote for the best future for Scotland.

How can they possibly vote NO?

Successive governments in Westminster have misled the Scottish people about the wealth that was available from oil of which almost all has gone to Westminster, have suggested that Scotland didn’t more than pay its way and achieved a goal which no other country in the world has managed to do.

The only country in the world, which has had oil within its borders and has become poorer is Scotland, yes you read that right. That one fact alone should compel people living in Scotland to vote YES.

Let’s hope and actively encourage that they will. Start by signing up today if you haven’t already.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Scottish Independence, SNP

 

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The Eurovision Song Contest 2012

You may have noticed that the Eurovision Song Contest came around again. Why does the UK take part? This year the UK entry finished second last out of forty two countries. I actually thought that the song, this year, wasn’t bad at all although challenging for the singer.Engelbert Humperdinck was of course signing this song and whilst it sounded pretty good as a recording, Engelbert just didn’t have enough power and control in his voice to do it justice. It was a better song than the scoring implied and we all know why that was.

The voting isn’t just a travesty it’s completely ridiculous. Country A, allocates points to countries which are neighbours or countries which they are their big mates with or want to be big mates with. Albania did pretty well, although their song was just ridiculous and the woman singing it had a long cat fur ball stuck to her chest. The song was dreadful and contained a part that only dogs could hear, much to their pain and disgust.

The winning song from Sweden has already been hugely successful all around Europe in the past few months, which may have been part of the strategy to help it score well. A bit Kate Bushesque sort of. There were lots of songs which were poor, sounded like 1970s disco with nothing really modern and edgy. So what is the point?

The UK has a huge wealth and asset in all manner of bands and artists who write and perform music from a huge variety of genres. These artists and band tour all over the world and fill the largest venues, sell millions of records or downloads if you prefer and do this repeatedly.

Yet we can’t win Eurovision? Even the great “Lord” Andrew Lloyd Webber failed!

So what to do.

Walk away could be an option but I feel there maybe an alternative route to consider. We could continue to take part but only in an exceptionally irreverent manner. Sing badly, dress horrifically, be dramatically incoherent and vote in a manner, which suggests our mental capacity has been somewhat misplaced as evidenced by our utterly bizarre voting.

We should also ensure that the person who provides the voting from the UK behaves and dresses in a more outrageous manner than the chap from Finland did this year. It seems frighteningly challenging but I feel confident that someone in the UK would be able to out do the example set or indeed the gauntlet thrown down!

There maybe a place for Morris Dancing, spiky, punk pogoing, Nick Cave doom and gloom, Rolf Harris wobble boards and silly noises… Or we could send Status Quo, Ozzy Osborne, Motorhead or the like.

Lets treat it with the contempt it’s due!

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in BBC, General

 

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Yes, yes, yes Scotland!

The launch of the Yes Scotland campaign went fairly well. There were representatives from other political parties, business and the arts supporting the concept of Scotland becoming independent. Alex did a reasonable job with the launch although we all know there is a long way to go.

The No camp has yet to show its cards although having Alistair Darling as their spokesperson seems to be a very good move for the Yes Scotland people. There’s nothing like a deposed, discredited and lacklustre figurehead giving interviews to the BBC and the Scottish press on the basis of good positive examples. Okay I jest, I’ve yet to hear any unionist provide a single good reason for Scotland to stay in the union.

What the event on Friday did achieve was to expose the stark reality of the Scottish MSM and their fervent support of the unionist side. The main ringleader is of course the BBC, which is no surprise given that they follow the Labour/lefty/Guardianista line. Labour and the SNP are not friends and perhaps even enemies so it’s seems like the BBC would want to support the Union.

There are of course other reasons why the BBC might not be entirely enthusiastic for Scottish Independence. Firstly, if independence was gained it would be unlikely that Labour could ever again form a government in London, given that Labour rely on Scottish MPs for their majority. Secondly what part would the BBC play in an independent Scotland? Independence would mean the break up of the BBC as it currently stands. The licence fee paid in Scotland would have to stay in Scotland and 10% of all BBC assets would have to be transferred here too. The nice new and shiny Scottish BBC headquarters   would make a good place to start a new Scottish based TV channel although it’s in the wrong city.

But what of the newspapers in Scotland? It seems self evident that the Scotsman and The Glasgow Herald and their Sunday equivalents aren’t keen on independence. STV doesn’t seem to be either.

The EU won’t want Scotland to be independent. It would set a bad example especially if Scotland stayed outside both the Eurozone and the EU. But what would be the point of gaining independence and then staying within the EU? The EU creates so many rules and regulations when what we need is a huge reduction, which will, dare I say, give us more freedom?

Two years is a long time and there is a lot of water to flow under a number if bridges. Those of us who want independence don’t expect much in the way of support from many sources. We have to win it and whilst there is a lot of time we should start now and just keep on positively trying to help people see the benefits and vote yes!

The unionists haven’t managed any sort of positive reasons for the union to continue. I’m anticipating that they will come up with positive stuff, which will be based on carrots. Stay in the union and you’ll get x, y or z. They have all the cards or so they think, time will tell.

Meantime let’s all stay positive. Just think of the achievement if we won. Lots of countries all over the world will be paying attention to the outcome and many of them could easily end up as trading partners.

The future is bright, the future is independence.

 

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Doom, doom and thrice doom and also, a plague on all your houses.

The greatest threat to our continuing existence as individuals and the greater world community is of course the collapse of the world economy. Never mind nuclear war, climate change, pandemics, obesity, cancer et all, oh no, the collapse of the current system of money trumps them all and may well have already begun.

We’ve seen the run on the Northern Rock and we are currently spectating as the Greeks withdraw their cash from banks and hide it under the bed instead. Greed underpins the whole monetary system, those that have, never seem to have enough and they seem intent on adding more and more zeros to their already unspendable, in their lifetime, pile. It used to be just millionaires then multi-millionaires, then billionaires and multi-billionaires. Who will be the first trillionaire? How long will it be before they arrive?

The Eurozone crisis looks like the most likely candidate to drive a significant collapse, which will disrupt in a spectacular enough manner to damage the world economy to the extent that there won’t be enough money in the world to repair the damage. International trade would swiftly follow as the next breaking point and after that it would be a pretty quick collapse into bartering and an experiment in trading with gold coins being the standard value tokens but of course it would only be the rich who had bought into gold in a big way, who would have them. This is a lefty polemic, there are many people out there who have made a lot, given away a lot and do good works but capitalism has been distorted to benefit those with the greatest greed.

Food shortages, very intermittent power or none at all, very few jobs and all based on skills or on fighting skills, little in the way of police or high tech medicine, restricted travel since only walking would be possible, maybe cycling or horse riding as long as you have the means to hold on to them and there would be no where to go apart from the country to try and find enough land to try and produce enough food to live.

It sounds like a greenies dream and it probably is and will be until the moment that they realise that large numbers of people, including some of them and their children and older relatives, are dying, which meets their aim of reducing the population but the reduction was supposed to be of other people not the greenies and their friends, families and, of course themselves.

A windmill would be useful on the side of your house although you’d only have a small amount of power to have a little light and you’d need to bore a well in your garden. If you were really lucky and managed to survive for a while you’d start to expand your land by taking over gardens around you as your neighbours either left or died.

You’d barter any skills you had, any useful stuff you’d found or stolen or anything that could be eaten, planted for harvesting or bred. It would be a few years of horrible grind, filth, hunger, cold, fear just to survive and you would hope to be able to maintain you and yours long enough to see a future which might be better. Isn’t this always the dream no matter when and where?

The rich would of course still be rich although their trips to sunnier climes, snow chalets and the like may be curtailed somewhat. They would have enough gold to employ thugs and mercenaries and expand their land holding as they saw fit.

Of course it won’t probably be as grim as this, it’ll happen more slowly, more insidiously. It will be messy. It may well be easier for smaller countries with a more dispersed population and large areas of empty land where no one lives. A country like Scotland for example? Fishing would be a good asset to have along with sturdy cattle and hardy sheep. Growing crops might also be useful but would need a lot of good land. Coal would probably make a significant comeback just as a lot of people thought when mines were being closed in the 70s.

Very local democracy certainly or perhaps none depending on the rich barons in your area and they’d still like to add more to their treasures. Back to where we started at the beginning of this post. The rich might get poorer but, in real terms, they’d be as rich and powerful as before if not even richer.

What a jolly future might be out there just waiting for us to need it

 

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BBC The Apprentice – Lording it in the Board room – Episode 10

I’m beginning to think that education in the UK has failed to teach people how to listen and how to recognise the important part of the message from the dross. Anyway…

Another early start sees the candidates meet Lord Sugar in the City of London. The teams have to make deals to sell products and services from a website similar to Group On. Stephen is in the hot seat as Team Leader and Jade also volunteers as Team Leader. No juggling of people though just stick as they are.

They all meet with the guy who owns the website who stresses that he caters for the higher end of the market so the deals that the teams agree will be vetted by him before they go live on-line. The amount of money, which each deal makes for each team, will be counted and the winners will be the team with the highest sales from the website.

Stephen hits the ground running with a simple strategy to close as many multiple deals with as many businesses as possible. Jade, on the other hand, spends time with her team deciding which businesses they should target.

Stephens’s team have an immediate problem. Ricky has been asked to go to a Hotel outside London involving an hours travelling there and another hour back again. Ricky has a call first at a quality restaurant, which takes up a lot of time and results in a no sale. He should have clarified his pitch at the start but he didn’t which then means that time pressures are even more apparent. Meanwhile Gabrielle has suggested signing up a studio which offers fish pedicures, oh so last Tuesday and surely lacking in higher end market appeal?

Meantime Jade along with Nick, Adam and Tom are heading out to start meeting with businesses. Jade and Nick were successful pretty quickly and Adam and Tom also managing to squeeze a pretty good deal out of a restaurant mainly by getting them to provide tea and coffee free with a meal which increased the discount above their previous normal. A further deal with a spa looked promising too.

All was not well with Stephen however; a deal with a virtual golf range went okay but again was fairly low rent. Ricky and Gabrielle thought the sales pitch to the hotel outside London would take up far too much time, especially if it was no sale. Stephen wasn’t too convinced but went along with it and dropped that business. Both teams scrambled towards the end trying to set up more deals.

In the board room Jade won by a huge sales total. First to go was Gabrielle who had run out of enthusiasm and ideas, it was a fair cop governor. Stephen also went. Well he had too. He was clueless virtually every week and some of his suggestions were just plain silly.

Ricky looks shaky as does Tom, Jade also because of previous tasks whilst Nick is still playing a canny game and Adam has his cheeky chappy persona still intact.

All of them need to demonstrate that they actually want to work with Lord Sugar. They need to do this by having a good argument for them being the winner whilst demonstrating that they actually are winners by being innovative, confident and capable.

That looks like a tall order for them all at the moment!

Other episodes –

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 3

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 4

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 5

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 6

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 7

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 8

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 9

BBC – The Apprentice 2012 – Episode 11

 

 

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Bus Zil lanes

We’ve had a bit of fun, here in Edinburgh ever the past few weeks. The council decided to put up cameras to catch people using bus lanes. They only added a few but the effect was pretty horrendous.

They racked up 1700 fines in six days, that’s 1700 times £30.00 is £51,000 although some will pay £60 for missing the due date. People we being caught by the cameras as they crossed the bus lane to get into their drives. A mini cab driver ran up £1800 worth of fines as he was driving in the bus lane he thought he was entitled to use as a taxi driver.

No matter though, the new Labour/SNP Council in Edinburgh is on the case. They have suspended the cameras pending a review, which has so far recommended two cameras be removed. There were claims that a much wider review would take place to find out just how disruptive bus lanes are to traffic flows, however I doubt that many people will have any faith in any results.

There are far too many buses on the streets of Edinburgh. This is because Lothian Buses are owned by the council and have a virtual monopoly; it’s not unusual to see a line of more than ten buses. Buses stop at bus stops, which are also in the bus lanes, and other buses come along and pull out into the lane for other traffic. The buses also have transponders in them, which cause traffic lights to change as they approach.

It’s also not unusual at all for the bus lanes to lie completely empty whilst the other lane for traffic is chock-a-block.  Some bus lanes are in place all day and some are part-time only. The biggest problem is that when you approach a junction where a bus lane is the inside lane and you want to turn left there is only a small length of road which you can use. This increases the congestion whilst at some places the bus lane take up so much room it’s virtually impossible to get around the corner without driving into them.

So why are these lanes allowed? David Begg was the initial instigator and of course it’s all based on “deterring” motorists from using their cars because of congestion, pollution or greenie guff. Traffic is always tedious but the problems we face on Edinburgh are imposed by the Council. They also charge huge amounts of money for parking and place it ruthlessly. They keep the money from the fines as they will shortly be able to do for bus lane camera based fines also.

Councils are supposed to be there to support the local population. We like that they take our rubbish away, tend parks and playing fields and … well I can’t think of anything else really. Grit the roads in winter? Not so good. Look after schools? Nope they can’t stop tinkering. Planning? Only a very small and light touch needed there.

Don’t get me wrong, I use the bus from time to time. It always astonishes me that the vast majority of people who get on actually pay. The bus works okay but I can’t see why buses have to have a priority. Zil lanes for buses?

Fast mass passenger transit systems are needed in all cities. London works really well and when you see the numbers of people going to and coming back from work you can see the need. But Edinburgh? Glasgow? Aberdeen? Okay Aberdeen is a special case, the greenies and their mates are against the by-pass which would significantly reduce the traffic in the town centre.

Edinburgh chose trams. They could have made more of the rail network. Add stations on the west line to Glasgow/Fife/Livingston would have worked well. A station at Murrayfield surely an easy option? One at the airport since the line goes right past the runway. Another one or two out to the Gyle, a few going out east in Leith, the Fort etc.

Buses should not have special lanes. Simple.

 

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