Tuesday 31 March 2009

Sandi's Farewell.. a lament..not!

I see Sandi Thom has been in trouble for taking £10,000 for singing in support of the SN......sorry! oops! the "Homecoming" events thingy.

A good excuse to dig up an old and wonderfully funny video...

see it here...


And admit...it's a hoot!!!

Monday 30 March 2009

Dunfermline Building Society - What's the Score?

I have savings with the Dunfermline Building Society. I chose to put my money there after the Woolwich and other mutual organisations I invested in went "private". On three ocassions (at least) I voted against organisations I was a member of going down the path of de-mutualisation.

I chose the Dunfermline precisely because it was a mutual, it gave no indication of demutualising, it invested in personal mortgages, I assumed that it had safe and sensible investment and return policies and it would not be swimming with the financial sharks.

How wrong I was. The revelations that the Dunfermline had large investments in the commercial market with the consequent risks, that it had bought mortgage packages from Lehmen's and others and that it had embarked on a vainglorious IT expansion came as a bombshell to me.

Much has been made of the UK government's role in the sale of the Dunfermline. But I have a fairly robust attitude to these things. The management of an institution has the responsibility for safeguarding that institution. If they take rash decisions or make dodgy investments, they carry the most responsibility for the consequent problems. Bleating that the FSA or the Treasury should have stopped them is no defence. It's like a burglar, on being sentenced to a few months in the chokey, blaming the police for not stopping his nocturnal activities.

The one thing I am grateful for is the UK Government's policy of ensuring that savings are secure. This is a welcome change from the crisis management of previous governments during recessions and is greatly to be welcomed as a huge leap forward in public policy.

Friday 27 March 2009

What does "brick for brick" actually mean?

Yesterday at FMQ's Iain Gray asked Alex Salmond to take responsibility for the lack of delivery by Education Minister Fiona Hyslop.

The latest admission by Hyslop, that there are 1000 fewer teachers in Scotland's schools than a year ago is bad enough.

But the SNP has already abandoned it promise of reducing class sizes in P1-P3 to 18.

As for the SNP's promise to match Labour's school building programme "brick-for-brick": it is a disgrace and a disaster. Not one new school has been commissioned since the SNP came to power.

Meanwhile Fiona Hyslop and Alex Salmond travel the country opening the latest of the almost 200 schools that Labour commissioned and built, and shamelessly basking in the reflected glory of the achievements of others.

This is more than just another party-political bunfight. The education of our children is a key to our future prosperity. The provision of new and efficient buildings in which teachers can teach and children can learn is vital to this process. The non-delivery of new schools is a crime against a whole generation of youngsters, and the Scottish Nationalists should be ashamed of their failure to deliver such a basic requirement of any competent administration.

Two weeks ago, three junior ministers were sacked. I don't know how competent or otherwise they were, but it seems to me that Ms Hyslop's incompetence is so great, and she is so close to the First Minister, that it gives her a paradoxical protection from the the fate which she surely deserves.

Thursday 26 March 2009

What's the point of independence?

It occurs to me that I have spent my adult life listening to Scottish Nationalists telling me that "independence" would be wonderful. But I've never actually seen or heard any of them explain why. Or what exact difference it would make. If any.

The SNP in power has proved to be singularly incompetent. They have failed to deliver any of their main manifesto promises so, presumably, "independence" is not what the SNP would do... otherwise it would be a total mess.

And who could believe in a total mess?