The Politics of a Pandemic

Anyone watching the daily reports on the pandemic would almost be forgiven that  politics had been suspended, journalists and politicians are almost bending over each other to appear to all be supporting each other and everyone is pulling together to get through all this. Almost, but not quite, it is not that suddenly politics has disappeared, it has merely become understated. Underneath it all, it is politics as usual, and there is far more going on than meets the eye.

I commented recently on the sneaky underhand attempt by a Westminster government department on Scots Law, but that is not all thats been going on while we have been distracted.
At a time when we are more reliant than ever on workers from elsewhere in our health service and other key areas the Home office decided it was a good time to update its guidance on its new immigration system, ” There will not be an immigration route specifically for those who do not meet the skills or salary threshold for the skilled worker route”
In the midst of the Covid pandemic crisis they have felt it necessary to state that care workers, auxiliary nurses,hospital porters,cleaners, logistic workers, postal workers and garbage collectors among others will not be able to apply for a work visa from January.
The only low paid workers the UK government envisages to allow staying are agricultural workers, plane loads of Romanians being flown in over the past few days.

A leaked Home Office recording which the BBC marginally reported was explosive, but the BBC only focussed on the part where the home office insisted staff turn up for work in the passport office. The Byline Times covered the most alarming parts of it.

“leaked recordings of a Home Office conference call on Tuesday, exclusively obtained by Byline Times, reveal that the Government has all but given up in its fight against the Coronavirus and is intent on simply finding “a method of managing it within the population”.

The recordings show Home Office Deputy Science Advisor Rupert Shute stating repeatedly that the Government believes “we will all get” COVID-19 eventually. The call further implied that the Government now considers hundreds of thousands of deaths unavoidable over a long-term period consisting of multiple peaks of the disease.”

“Shute repeatedly insisted that “we can’t hide away from it forever, but we can manage the way in which we are exposed”.

The Home Office refused to provide any further clarification on the modelling the Government was using to justify this projection.

UK Government strategy, he confirmed, is not attempting to contain the spread of the virus, but simply to slow down “the rate at which we get this virus [which] has direct impact on the NHS. It’s vitally important that we don’t get it at the same time. But that does not mean we won’t still get it at some point… We’ve got to keep functioning our lives, go out for food and medication, and go out for work”.

“Reflecting on the “reality of the situation”, he said that “we will all be exposed to it at some point”. According to the “current modelling we are working on, 80% will get it – of that, a large portion won’t notice that they have it. Another substantial portion will have very, very mild symptoms. And a small portion will have a very significant reaction”.

 

So in effect what this appears to tell us is that the UK government has never really moved away from their crazy herd immunity plan. If so, that is truly worrying.

Meanwhile the Mirror reported :

“A leading infectious disease scientist claims the Government recklessly allowed tens of thousands of people to catch coronavirus

Professor Helen Ward, of the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College London has warned ministers “there will be a reckoning, and it will not be forgiving”.

The academic tweeted: “It’s very sad that so many people have died, and so many more are desperately ill because politicians refused to listen to advice.

“We said lockdown earlier, we said test, trace, isolate. But they decided they knew better. There will be a reckoning, and it will not be forgiving.”

Professor Ward told the Mirror the decision in early March to stop community testing and contact tracing was a “big problem” which meant we “lost sight” of the pandemic.

Prof Ward said: “The Government instituted the lock down on March 23.

“Ten days earlier it was clear to many major epidemiologists and public health experts like myself that we needed stringent social distancing. Those ten days were lost.

“On March 16, the Government reacted by saying people shouldn’t travel unnecessarily but didn’t institute any regulation of that.

“That was a major error that lost us seven days at least. In those seven days there could have been tens of thousands of people infected as a result of the delay to the lockdown.

“The World Health Organisation and other countries were recommending it at that time while the UK was still pursuing ‘we know better’.”

Asked why Britain’s epidemic was worse than countries like France and Germany, she said: “The decision in early March to stop testing and contact tracing in the community was one of the big problems.

“When that happened we lost sight of the number of new cases and were only able to trace people when they became sick enough to need hospital treatment.

“That was related to the lack of testing capacity, I accept that. That was then compounded by the ongoing transmission in hospital because of inadequate PPE.

“So there was a lack of testing, lack of PPE, lack of ventilators and the lack of hospital beds and NHS capacity in general.

“There are a result of ten years of cuts to the Health Service, a lack of investment and a lack of preparedness.”

In the meantime the British Media had as its headline news every day was not how many had been effected or died, but as Boris Johnson as some sort of heroic Churchillian figure for catching the virus, with some Torys asking the nation to clap for Boris like people have been clapping for the NHS workers. Utter nonsense!

Meanwhile there were other reports of marines coming to remove a couple of high tech robotic testing machines and relocating them to Milton Keynes, followed a couple of weeks later with news that Health England had instructed the 4 major suppliers of PPE in the UK not to allow any orders to go to Care homes in Scotland or Wales and only to supply England. What was that about being better together again?

The Tory Health ministers idea of rewarding the under siege health workers is to provide them with a garbage badge which they have to pay for rather than ensure they have the correct provisions or to,  give them a well deserved pay rise… I am sure they would rather
be properly rewarded than be given the Clap!

Certainly in amongst this pandemic politics has not gone away, we see it for what it is, even if it is more understated than usual.
At the end of this crisis there will be a reckoning, and part of that reckoning will be the peoples judgement of the state of the Union and how we have all been  served by it.

 

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When the War is Over

A regular description used by those in power has been to describe this pandemic as a War, with the NHS as our front line against the virus enemy.
The expression of the Tory government on Boris Johnson and his stay in Intensive care has been to say that he is a fighter and will get through this.
The Queen used the expression “We’ll meet again” a clear reference to the World War 2 song.
All of this is rhetoric to ramp up the War time spirit, and we are British, together we will win this war.

Whatever it is, it is not a war, and we are not all in it together.
Yes, this virus does not distinguish by wealth, class or position who gets it, we are all risk from getting it, but not all of us are equal in risk. The poor, the workers, the homeless are all in far greater risk than those of wealth and privilege.
Nor is it a war, for it to be a war the virus would have to be actively choosing to make war on humanity.
What this is for all of us is a matter of survival and finding a cure.
Our health workers are not trying to kill life, but to save lives.

One thing for sure is that when this pandemic has finally passed, hard questions will have to be asked, and hard answers will have to be given.
Governments in 2008 were well warned that a major pandemic was to be expected and to plan appropriately for one. It would appear however that the UK government prepared itself for a flu like pandemic and stock piled vaccine in the event of one.
What they could not be as prepared for at that time was the possibility of a virus for which there was no comparable vaccine.
Questions arise though on how they originally responded, this ridiculous notion of herd immunity for one.
Their own advice on isolating cases and testing they have not been at all prepared for, unlike countries such as Germany who did thoroughly prepare, and also maintained their health service sufficiently, unlike the UK government which has for years been undermining the NHS and selling off chunks of services in England and Wales.
Questions arise on why unlike other countries who closed their borders they have not done so, with even today flights coming into Heathrow from virus torn countries like Spain and Iran, with passengers not put into quarantine on arrival.
In one report I have read from 2009, there seems to be a balance of health and economic cost, with saving one human life in Intensive care given the price of £1.5 million!
So how much of a factor was the economy in their original assessment?
Many more questions like these will be asked once this is all over.

One thing for sure, the world will be in an entirely different place once this pandemic has passed.
The worlds economy will have been severely damaged, things that we understood last year will not be seen the same way now.
Vast changes are coming, and those that survive this will face a new reality in their daily lives.

So much for billions of pounds spent on nuclear arms, they are useless.
Expenditure will have to be placed where it rightly belongs, and not in some Global game of Risk.

In the meantime…. keep safe, keep well

 

 

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When You Are Not Looking

When you are not looking as your attention is fixed elsewhere, that is exactly the time that you need to be looking at what is being done and slipped through behind your back and out of your sight!

An article by a Scottish Solicitor in the Scotsman grabbed my attention.
The matter it pertains to has not been commented upon elsewhere in the media as far as I am aware. Yet it is such a matter that potentially could drive a coach and horses through a major part of the Acts of Union! That of the Independence of Scots Law!

Michael Sheridan, a Glasgow solicitor says in the article
“Last week, the CMA launched an astonishing attack upon the solicitors profession in Scotland. According to reports, I and my colleague solicitors may not be delivering good outcomes, need to do a better job, do not provide high quality, good value legal services, short-change clients, do not make price information available in an accessible manner and provide information which exacerbates the complexity of legal services. What a bunch.”

These groundless allegations were published two weeks into the coronavirus emergency while most solicitors affected by these allegations were struggling to close down their offices while continuing to provide emergency services from home to the public and to meet the stringent requirements of professional practice including safeguarding clients’ funds, papers and information without the benefit of the staff, superior internet efficiency and office equipment normally available.

Moreover, the CMA is fully funded by taxpayers in publishing these allegations, while solicitors in Scotland have to rely upon private resources to examine and respond to these allegations at a time when the income from their practices is all but drying up. Is it possible these factors were not taken into account by the CMA when choosing the time to launch their broadside ?”

 

Now lets take a moment to consider this, who are the CMA?
The CMA are the Competitions and Marketing Authority, a branch of the UK Government responsible for strengthening business competition and preventing and reducing anti-competitive activities directly reporting to the Department of Business.

 

Michael Sheridan goes on to say

“It is clear the CMA seeks to recast the Scottish legal system in the mould of the system in 
England and Wales without insight or regard to the different tradition, size and nature of the Scottish jurisdiction and, incidentally, without regard to the 
Treaty of Union of 1707 in which articles XVIII and XIX guarantee in all time coming the separate entity of the Scottish legal jurisdiction.

That Treaty may be very old but has been regularly visited and, for the most part, faithfully applied throughout the three centuries since its creation. The CMA seeks to replace the Law Society of Scotland with a new statutory regulator along the lines of the Solicitors Regulation Authority in England and Wales and to make the ownership of solicitors’ practices available to non-solicitors including commercial entities subject to shareholder ownership.

Perhaps the most extreme contravention of the Treaty of Union is the proposed replacement of Scotland’s most senior law officer, the Lord President of the Court of Session, with Parliament as the head of the regulation of the solicitors’ profession.

This last proposal contravenes also the doctrine of the separation of powers in arguably the most savage attack by the legislature upon the 
judiciary since the removal of the head of the judiciary (Charles I) by the (English) Parliament in 1649. Hence the need for the CMA to find fault with the current system in Scotland and, in particular, with the solicitors’ profession in Scotland.”

 

Lets be clear about what is being said here. This is a direct attack on the Independence of Scots Law and an attempted power grab by Westminster.

 

“Perhaps most unwelcome to Scottish solicitors is the fact that, while the Law Society of Scotland has responded to the iterations of CMA, it is reported to have offered no challenge to the inaccurate, damaging and, at places, irrational assertions made by the CMA against Scottish solicitors.

As these solicitors struggle and strive to keep going under the pressure of the coronavirus emergency, they might ask why they do not have any institutional means of standing up to assaults such as this by the CMA”

 

Be in no doubt that this is an extremely serious attack on the Independence of Scots Law and possibly the first stage of attempting to make our Justice System and Laws answerable to Westminster control.

It is chipping away at the Acts of Union to make Scots subservient and answerable to English Law. It is an assault on all of us, not just Scots Solicitors.

 

 

 

 

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SNP Civil War

In recent times there have been some references by journalists alluding to a civil war taking place among some in authority in the SNP.
As I don’t necessarily take what journalists say verbatim, and often look at their pronouncements with a great deal of scepticism, my initial reaction was that of disbelief.
I merely looked at these statements as being wishful thinking in some of their parts, designed to cause unrest amongst the SNP and by extension also much of the Yes movement.
Unfortunately it would appear that I was wrong.

In following comments on twitter by some reasonably well placed people within the SNP it has become evident that there is indeed very serious disagreements taking place and some pretty nasty stuff going on.
Not being an Insider in the SNP, and not even currently a member, but with some knowledge of the SNPs workings having been in a past life a branch convenor and on the executive of a CA , I am more than aware of some of the political manoeuvrings that have taken place, and no doubt are continuing to take place, by those who place their own self interest above that of the common good and the Independence cause in general.
Of such happenings no one should be surprised. Such things happen in every political party and in every organisation to some extent or another.
No matter where you go in life there will always be those who choose selfish self interest and positions of power above all else.

What I have been seeing in recent times among groups of the SNP membership has been nothing short of toxic!
This has most recently been brought into sharp focus with revelations from the Alex Salmond trial, but most certainly was ramping up long before that.

What we are seeing currently is some sort of proxy war going on between Sturgeon supporters and Salmond supporters, some of it quite disgraceful.
I do not mean for one second that such a war has either been instigated or promoted by either of these figures, but some followers have taken it upon themselves to propogate it.

During the Salmond trial it became evident that it had been instigated and pursued by some in a relatively senior position within the SNP, and with what appears to be some collusion by someone in the SNP HQ. The real story of what exactly has gone on here has yet to properly unfold, but rest assured the truth will out!
There have been strong suggestions that this was engineered, at least partly, by the desire of some to ensure at all costs that Alex Salmond did not make a political comeback.

What became even more evident before, during, and after the Salmond trial was that some of those involved in the plot, and those who supported these divisions were siding with uncalled statements by Unionist supporters attacking Salmond.
Who would have previously thought such a thing possible? Yet this was exactly what happened and continues to happen.
The Unionists are of course delighted with this situation and will of course encourage such division within the SNP. Its a win win situation for them, and a gift from heaven.

One such attack came as recently as last night from an office bearer in North Berwick where they maligned Craig Murray for his blog on Salmonds trial.
Craig Murray on looking at their twitter feed was baffled as to why he should be subjected to such an attack from someone who appeared to share his political viewpoint?
In the course of this exchange someone questioned if this persons real sole objection ws that he didn’t like Alex Salmond.
The reply was shocking and totally uncalled for. The individual responded with “I am not a Rapist”

All of this is not a one sided attack on Alex Salmond or his supporters, there now appears to be as many who are continually attacking Nicola Sturgeon and those they consider to be aligned to her.
She is being attacked as being soft on Independence and her real motives questioned, with many saying that she has more real interest in the British state than seeking independence.
Add into this highly toxic mix, and you have those whose main interest seems to be arguing over gender recognition and other similar issues, with nasty insults being thrown back and forward.

All of this has got to come to a halt!
If this utter nonsense does not stop, all thoughts of Independence will be forever lost!

Once this virus crisis is all over, I suggest that Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond combine together, resolve any differences they may or may not have and then  knock this nonsense on the head stone dead, by making clear such behaviour is unacceptable, and those who have created the most trouble dismissed out of the party.
If the prime motivation of those within the SNP is not Independence, frankly they do not belong there.

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Vultures

I am quite sure that many journalists and media reporters were absolutely salivating at the prospect of the Alex Salmond trial.
They would have been rubbing their hands together in glee at the thought of placing him in the worst possible light, and doing many opinion pieces once the trial was over and he had been found guilty of being a sexual predator on the scale of Harvey Weinstein,as they were sure he would be.

How awful then that along should come the corona virus and knock any possibility of Salmonds trial so far off the front page that it almost disappeared into an irrelevance. However there was always the hope that they would be able to make the most of destroying the man and his character once the trial was over.
Unfortunately for them it did not happen. Instead he was found not guilty on all of the charges bar one, and that one was found to be not proven.
How could this have possibly happened with a jury that consisted originally of almost double the women than there was of men?
From their perspective this must have been an unmitigated disaster!

During the trial itself, reading most of the reports, they seemed to primarily focus on what Salmonds accusers were saying whilst brushing over the defence witness statements as much as they could. There seemed to be a very deliberate effort to report in such a fashion that it would have seemed to their readership that the only possible conclusion to the trial would be Salmonds guilt. Such device would ramp up to a frenzy equivalent to the result of a medieval witch trial, with Salmond head on their literal pikes at its end.

Having been found innocent in the eyes of the Highest Court in the land, one might have expected that would be the end of the matter, at least for now, until the Scottish parliament enquiry, or at the very least until the current much more serious matter of the pandemic was over.
Not a bit of it unfortunately. For barely had the verdict been delivered the knives were back out by some of these scribes. These vultures had been deprived of the sizeable carcass they so much desired, and Corona Virus or not, they were determined to extract as much poison as they possibly could.

They set about endeavouring to cast doubt on the jurys decision. They tried to implicate that whilst Salmond had been found not guilty, he must still surely be guilty.
This culminated in a hatchet attack on Salmonds character in a piece sponsored it seems by the same Tory backers who had given Ruth Davidson a sizeable offer to work for them whilst still an MSP.
The piece was written with the cooperation of 5 of Salmonds accusers and backed by Rape Crisis Scotland, with which one of the accusers seemingly has close connections with.
These same 5 accusers seemingly colluding again as they had done when they were part of a WhatsApp group comparing notes prior to the trial, as was reported in the trial.
The journalist paid no heed whatsoever to the women who had been  defence witnesses and who had refuted the accusers claims.
Instead this piece was a vehicle which claimed that these accusers voices had not been heard!
No sooner than this piece had come out, a bunch of journalists and those within some SNP circles were applauding the hatchet job.
This in itself shone a light on the journalistic integrity  of supposed journalists and reporters who are more polemical political activists than genuine reporters.
A classic rebuttal by Craig Murray in his blog was met with a howling of ravenous starving outraged pack of biased press hounds, and then the knives came out for him.

 

Moving on from there, we come to the Catherine Calderwood debacle.
Here we have an entirely different scenario.
Catherine Calderwood the Chief Medical Officer who was the person who was the face of the Stay Home campaign was caught out breaking her own message by going to her holiday home in Fife, on not one occasion but by her own admission two weekends in succession.
The story broke on the Saturday night and the First Minister was made aware of it at that point.
By the time we came to the First Ministers daily briefing on the Sunday, the story had changed from her making a single visit to admitting herself that in fact she had made a visit with her family the weekend before too.
She apologised for her actions and offered no excuse for them. She had betrayed the very message she had been insisting that everyone else follow.
The First Minister was thus placed into a totally horrendous problem not of her own making, and it showed as she appeared extremely rattled throughout that briefing.
Obviously she endeavoured  to shield the Chief Medical Officer as much as she could as she herself said that she didnt want to lose the Chief Medical Officers valuable input and advice.
The Press was understandably baying for the Chief Medical Officers resignation.
Later that afternoon the Scottish Government announced that the Chief Medical Officer would remain in place but would no longer be seen at daily briefings nor seen in the previous media adverts which had featured her.
By 10pm that night the news came out that Catherine Calderwood had resigned.
In todays briefing naturally the issue came up again, and despite the First Ministers pleas that the journalist not continually the same questions one after another if the question had already been answered, many of them did just that, but in this instance they
were going after the First Minister and not the Chief Medical Officer, laterly demanding that she should apologise for not acting immediately to sack Catherine Calderwood. Suddenly the narrative was to blame the First Minister!
Half a session taken up on this issue rather than the much more important matter of dealing with the Corona Virus.


These are two different stories and two different approaches by the press and media.
The latter approach of persistent questioning is one which we would expect of our press and is perfectly legitimate in order to get to the truth of a matter.
Even so, the question remains, why were they so keen to pursue this rigorously yet absolutely ignore the story of The Prince of Wales and his retainers travelling from London to Balmoral while knowingly being unwell? No suggestion that he be held to account, far less asking any difficult questions about it.


The former stinks of political expediency and polemics in order to bring a man down.
A man who at 65 who if found guilty would very probably have ended his life in jail and had his reputation irredeemably destroyed.
It also stinks of collusion, not only by some of the accusers who have done serious damage to those who have genuinely been raped and abused and seek justice, but also collusion between some high up in the SNP and Scottish Civil Service working closely with the government, the Crown Office and possibly the Police who went on a mass trawl through around 400 people, and Indeed the narrative of some of the Press and Media.

However, what is increasingly noticeable and has been for some time, is that many of our journalists are not reporters in the strict sense of the word, they are for most part polemicists and write from a stance of political bias who seek to stand in judgement as judge and jury and to pass sentence in whatever way they see fit.
Challenge them at your peril, for at the least you will be called a zoomer for having your own valid opinion, or you will have a picture of your house taken, leaving you as an open target for nutters, or at the worst, maligned falsely to such an extent that you will be made a pariah in the publics mind, even if you have found not to be guilty of any crime in the Highest Court in the Land.

 

 

 

 

 

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Political Ball Tampering

The news really is a load of balls these days. The news is absolutely full of it,cricket ball tampering that is. It is almost as if it were a matter of extreme importance which has to be given precedence over everything else.
Then we have Bungling Boris being accused of sexism because he called the Labour shadow foreign secretary by her married title rather than the name she chooses to call herself.
We have an on going saga about these awful Russians seemingly making an attack on Britain and being accused of using a nerve agent which seemingly can only come from Russia to bump off one their former spies who had turned into a double agent but released in a spy swop previously. This has turned into a European wide expulsion of diplomats from all sides.
The EU has had an issue with Russia for a while now, so it has only been too keen to jump on the bandwagon. Yet the EU has consistently refused to deal with the fascist actions of Spain in relation to Catalonia.

All of it is really just political ball tampering set to disguise and deflect from real issues which both Westmister and the EU wish to deflect us from. It is a case of…look at this hand, not the other one which is stuffing a card up its sleeve.

I suppose there is only so much Brexit nonsense which we can take, but one thing for sure, the public is being shafted once again. Cambridge analytica is merely the sacrificial lamb, the real players are the governments and big business, and they have been at this game for much longer and to a far greater extent. Just look at the Scotland Office massive increase of expenditure and personnel since 2014, and their extensive use of facebook and twitter alongside their press and media releases.

One conclusion all this has led me to is that I am no longer interested in an Independent Scotland remaining in the EU, we would much better be served following Norway into EFTA and making our own course.
If you want your Fake news? Just watch what Westminster is directing at us.
It is nearly all Balls.

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NO IndyRef2 Allowed

bitter

It is almost like Theresa May has become flushed with her minority government achieving total domination over the Westminster parliament and the modern dictatorship of Spains right wing government using extreme measures in denying the Catalan people a say over their self determination, that she has become dictatorial enough to openly say that the people of Scotland will not be allowed to have another say on the matter of Independence.

The following exchange happened  during Prime Ministers Question Time.

From Hansard:

ROSS THOMSON (ABERDEEN SOUTH) (CON)

“Following our successful Offshore Europe exhibition last week in Aberdeen, can the Prime Minister assure me and my constituents that support for the oil and gas industry will be at the heart of the industrial strategy so that we can maximise economic recovery in the North sea? Does she agree that the biggest threat to the industry would be the instability of a second, divisive independence referendum?”

THE PRIME MINISTER

“My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We have already given significant support to the oil and gas industry. I was pleased, some months ago, to visit Aberdeen and to visit the technology centre for the oil and gas industry. It is doing really interesting work looking not just at existing fields but at decommissioning work and how it can export its knowledge and expertise across the world. He is absolutely right that what people and businesses want is the certainty of knowing that Scotland will remain in the United Kingdom and that there will not be a second independence referendum.”

That response from Theresa May, with the spoken emphasis on the part highlighted certainly had more than a few Scots who wanted to be masochistic enough to watch Prime Minister Non Answers on TV spitting their coffee out all over their screens and shaking their heads in disbelief. Indeed there may have been a few TV sets which joined the endangered objects list.

However, all is not as it seems…..
While Theresa May most certainly uttered these words, taken in context of the whole sentence it is something entirely different… There is no denial of Scots to have a second referendum but an assertion without any evidence that the Scots people want the certainty of knowing Scotland will not have a second Independence referendum.Oh sure some would want that, but about as many would certainly disagree with that statement.

Indeed If Theresa May actually really did officially come out and say such a thing, then the one sure certainty is that not only would Scotland most certainly have one, and we will assuredly do so in any case, but she would just as certainly absolutely guarantee that Scots would by a large majority stuff the words right back down her throat with a resounding ….. OH YES!!!!

Indeed, that would be the one credible scenario where UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) could occur, thus proving her words prophetic, but not in the way she intended.

 

 

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