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Support for the Coalition Melts

By Leslie Clark
May 4th, 2012 at 6:49 pm | 4 Comments | Posted in coalition

Voters have expressed their cold feet at the direction of the coalition across the country. In one Edinburgh ward, a man dressed as a penguin – Professor Pongoo – gained more first preference votes than the Liberal Democrat candidate.

Both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will need to assess where they go from here. Saying its down to mid-term blues after another drubbing won’t do (Alex Salmond, the Scottish Emperor politician, was able to increase the number of SNP councillors whilst in government).

Certain Tories will want their party to move further right to appease UKIP, whilst many Liberal Democrats will no doubt seek to shift the party leftwards after Labour’s gains. It will be hard to reconcile these views. Some may say they are poles apart.

However, the senior party figures that have taken to the airwaves have been silent on the key issue following the local authority elections: just what are the increasingly out of touch Cameron and Clegg going to do about a potential march of the penguins?

Not So Happy Feet

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It’s all Mandarin to me

By Leslie Clark
November 12th, 2011 at 6:48 am | 5 Comments | Posted in Comedy

Ever wonder what goes on inside the mind of Julius Nicolson types? Well thanks to a FOI release of the weekly blog of top civil servant Permanent Secretary Sir Peter Housden, all is revealed! 

Originally for the consumption of Scotland’s civil servants via their intranet site, Sir Peter updated his colleagues on matters ranging from traditional mandarin activities to his tedious middle class existence outside of office hours.

They read very much like a 21st Century version of Grossman’s Diary of a Nobody.

You can view the released files in full here* but below includes a selection of his finest musings:

A baking hot weekend in London, hiding indoors for the most part. But we did venture out to the opera – this time to see a superb production of Don Giovanni…They are given under a canopy in Holland Park, and this time at a critical point, a pigeon flew in to join the proceedings and looked around rather disdainfully for a while before finding the way out. Perhaps she prefers Beethoven.” (12/07/2010)

I spent quite a bit of time this weekend with office papers… But I did get some time to have a mooch up and down George Street and get into Harvey Nicks, ostensibly in search of a raincoat. I came home with a jumper and a shirt, but that’s shopping isn’t it?” (06/09/2010)

“…in best Bridget Jones fashion, I can report Walks to Work (4), Pars at Duddingston (7,) Lost Balls (1), Swims (1), Car Wash (1) and Tyres Inflated (4). They needed it.” (31/01/2011)

And finally, in the interests of greater flexibility on the golf course, I plan on Monday night to make my second visit to a yoga class. And if that doesn’t work, I shall try Pilates. Desperate? Yes, I suppose so.” (15/08/2011)

As an interesting aside, Sir Peter currently earns approximately £180,000 p/a…

(*Caution: contains excruciatingly awful material)

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Raising a glass north of the border

By Angela Harbutt
November 11th, 2010 at 4:07 am | Comments Off on Raising a glass north of the border | Posted in Personal Freedom

With all the news of  “The Seige of Millbank” today… important news north of the border may go unreported…

 Today the Scottish Parliament voted against the SNPs last gasp attempt to introduce minimum pricing of alcohol. In a rare (and much welcomed) show of unity Labour, the Lib Dems and Conservatives stood together in determining that a minimum price was potentially illegal (probably), could lead to cross-border “booze runs” (almost certainly) and would unfairly penalise responsible drinkers (definitely).

MSPs also voted down proposals to stop retailers giving loyalty points for alcohol, and offering discount vouchers or “meal deals” including alcohol. They also rejected proposals to increase the legal age at which alcohol can be bought from shops from 18 to 21 ( probably a wise move given today’s events…..)

A sudden and rare show of sanity? Maybe..or maybe it really was party politics at work?

Either way this is an important win for those of us who are sick and tired of being told what we should and shouldn’t do with our hard earned cash. Too many times, where Scotland has gone, England has followed. 

But it’s not all good news….. On the down-side, Holyrood did support extending a ban on “irresponsible” drinks promotions (to you and I that means banning shops from offering discounted bulk-buying and cheap drinks promotions ).. and a ban on supermarkets advertising alcohol inside or outside their stores.

Perhaps most disappointing, MSP also voted to allow local councils to introduce a new, discretionary “social responsibility” tax on shops in areas “troubled by drunkenness and alcoholism”. This seems to be little more that giving councils a license to tax those selling alcohol (I cannot find anything anywhere right now that explains how they will measure or implement that) . A revenue-raising opportunity for councils if ever there was one?

So a cheer for the fact that the insane plan of the SNP to implement a blanket “minimum price on alcohol” has been overturned. Lets hope that the local councils “social responsibility tax” doesn’t  tax independent shops, off licences and pubs out of existence.

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