Gordon Brown: A busted flush?

October 31, 2008

A short piece on Gordon Brown’s management of the economy by the Renegade Economist Fred Harrison somewhat brings the Prime Minister’s policies into focus.

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Maradona to be new Argentina coach

October 28, 2008

Just listening to Radio Scotland, they have quoted a Reuters report that Diego Maradona will be the new Argentina Football coach.

Its also on Sky News, but they have yet to have any info. AFP has this.

That should make the tickets for the Scotland – Argentina game at Hampden fly out the door!

It will be Maradona’s first game in charge of Argentina.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow morning.

I seem to have blogged a fair deal about football recently, what with the Palestines game at home and my take on Atheist buses etc.:-

Palestine football team.
Atheist buses.
Lord Coe: Scots and Welsh; F**k ’em
UK Olympic football team

Must be divine inspiration. The hand of god perhaps?

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McCain – Palin split losing election

October 27, 2008

The reported feud between McCain and Palin advisers seem to be having an affect on Republican support.

“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,” said one McCain adviser, “she does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else. Also she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: divas trust only unto themselves as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.”

For her part, it seems Sarah Palin has decided not to trust her Republican aides:

Four Republicans close to Palin said she has decided increasingly to disregard the advice of the former Bush aides tasked to handle her, creating occasionally tense situations as she travels the country with them. Those Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain’s camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain’s decline.

It does seem the feeling is mutual:

“She’s lost confidence in most of the people on the plane,” said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to “go rogue” in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.

“I think she’d like to go more rogue,” he said.

The article continues:

Some McCain aides say they had little choice with a candidate who simply wasn’t ready for the national stage, and that Palin didn’t forcefully object. Moments that Palin’s allies see as triumphs of instinct and authenticity — the Wright suggestion, her objection to the campaign’s pulling out of Michigan — they dismiss as Palin’s “slips and miscommunications,” that is, her own incompetence and evidence of the need for tight scripting.

Watching that video convinces me that the McCain aides are right. If ever there was a need for tight scripting then I think that video proves it. Whether Sarah Palin has the competence to deliver a tighter speech is another question.

It comes as no surprise then, that the home states of Palin and McCain seem to be having doubts over their nomination.

The Anchorage Daily News has come out in favour of Barack Obama.

And latest polls from Arizona show increasing support for Barack Obama, in one poll McCain is only ahead by two points!

Of course, it would be a huge ask for the Democrats to actually win either state for Obama. The mere fact that they are gaining support in Arizona and Alaska does show how much trouble the Republican campaign is in.

The McCain – Palin split is just a symptom of this trouble.

But its a clear indication to the voters that the Republican campaign is in disarray. Its a clear indication that McCain will lose the election.

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Palestine football team

October 26, 2008

I don’t think anyone would argue that sport isn’t a factor in modern national identity.

Thats one reason that I don’t support Gordon Brown’s GB Olympic football team in the 2012 London Olympics.

To put at threat four nations football teams in order to promote Gordon Brown’s Britishness agenda is a ridiculuous notion.

But is Gordon Brown’s Britishness agenda beginning to unravel due to lack of public support? If reports from The Times are correct then the planned British Day has bit the dust:

“The great national day debate arrives at a consensus – let’s call it off.

“You can pack up the Union Jacks, cancel the street parties and tell the pet shop that you won’t be needing that bulldog after all. The government has quietly dropped plans to have a British Day.

“Gordon Brown had called for a day to celebrate British identity in a speech delivered in 2006, when he was still chancellor.

“Earlier this year an official report by Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney-general, had proposed that the first patriotic bank holiday should be held to coincide with the 2012 Olympics.

“However, Michael Wills, the justice minister (who says he’s responsible for something called “the governance of Britain agenda”), told MPs last week: “There are no plans to introduce a national day at this time.” ”

If anyone doubts the influence of sport in national identity then they should look at today’s historic football match between Palestine and Jordan.

It is the first time the Palestine team will be playing on ‘home soil’. Its in the West Bank in front of a capacity 6500 crowd in the Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium in AIRam, north Jersualem.

The Palestine football team was only recognised by FIFA in 1998, after the creation of the Palestinian Authority.

In fact, sport is the only realm where Palestine officially exists, in all other areas the Palestine people are represented by the Palestinian Authority, even at the UN.

So having an actual Palestine football team playing in the West Bank must be incredibly symbolic to Palestinians. It represents another step on the road to a fully independent Palestine.

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Sarah Palin and fruit flies

October 25, 2008

I guess no-one should be surprised by the latest anti-science diatribe by Sarah Palin.

This time she’s picking on the humble fruit fly.

She was giving a speech on promoting the funding of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA):

“For many parents of children with disabilities, the most valuable thing of all is information. Early identification of a cognitive or other disorder, especially autism, can make a life-changing difference.”

Now given that Sarah Palin has a Down’s Syndrome son, you may have thought have fighting for disability funding would have been a home run for her. You may also have expected her to champion scientific research into disabilities.

So for her to question the earmarked money for scientific research was a bit surprising:

“Where does a lot of that earmark money end up anyway? […] You’ve heard about some of these pet projects they really don’t make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not.”

Fruit fly research.

The fruit fly research that she is talking about must be the Olive fruit fly research. The Olive fruit fly is an invasive pest that threatening California’s multi-million dollar olive crop. In trying to save a chunk of California’s economy in these difficult times, the $211509 French grant probably is a worthwhile investment.

Besides, if you know anything about science, you’ll know that vital findings have resulted from the most tangential experiments. Who knows what benefits might come out this study?

Certainly not Sarah Palin.

If she was only aware of what research of the humble fruit fly has already given to science I bet she wouldn’t have mocked this research in her speech.

For example, progress in birth defects research. That work brought a Nobel Prize.

Progress in autism research. The very condition that Sarah Palin started her talk about. She has a nephew suffering from autism. Fruit fly research may bring vital clues to improve his life.

Diabetes research.

Cancer research. Indeed, fruit fly research has led to critical advances in the treatment of colon cancer and possibly all cancers.

Alzheimer’s research. And scientists have just cured fruit flies from Huntington’s disease, a massive leap to the treatment of humans.

And work on increasing the life-span of fruit flies may have benefits in slowing ageing in humans.

And what makes the fruit fly so ubitiquous in medical research?

Chiang Ann-shyn – director of the Institute of Biotechnology and director of the Brain Research Center at National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu City, Taiwan – explains in this article:

‘One reason fruit flies were used was the similarities between their genes and human genes, Chiang explained. Although a fruit fly carries only around 135,000 genes, which might seem few in comparison to a human being’s 4 billion genes, a large number of genes that suffer from human genetic disorders can be found in the fruit fly. “Flies are cheap to breed, and their genes can be manipulated quickly,” he declared. Moreover, better understanding of genes would allow scientists to search faster for novel therapeutic drugs for healing diseases like Alzheimer’s, he added.’

I think its clear by now that Sarah Palin has no understanding of science.

Her Young Earth creationist views.
Her disregard for climate change.
Her appalling environmental record.
Her attempt to ban books from the local library in Wasilla.

And now this.

Go back to what she said at the start: “For many parents of children with disabilities, the most valuable thing of all is information.”

What Sarah Palin is promoting with her fruit fly ‘I kid you not’ nonsense is dis-information.

Its just as well it looks like the Republicans look like they are losing the election.

Having Sarah Palin as Vice President with an elderly, poor health John McCain as President just doesn’t bear thinking about.

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Unionists voice is broken

October 24, 2008

Is the Unionist argument finally maturing?

David Cameron's new book

David Cameron declared today that:

“Of course it is possible that Scotland can stand alone – that is true”

Could this be the beginning of the end of the Unionist scare stories about Scottish independence?

Have the Unionists begun to realise that their constantly negative ‘can’t don’t’ attitude is a turn off to Scottish voters?

If so, nationalists may for once have a real fight on their hands.

It seems that the Conservative leader has realised the correct argument for the Unionists to take:

“I don’t think we’d ever succeed in saving the Union by frightening Scots to say you couldn’t possibly make it on your own.”

In other words, ditch the negative agenda and promote a positive one.

Of course many parties in Scotland support independence:- the Greens, the SSP, Solidarity and of course the SNP. There is also an independent MSP – Margo Macdonald – that supports independence.

Such is the size of the SNP, they are the main drivers for Scottish independence. They are the dominant party of Scotland:- in Government at Holyrood, on the rise in Westminster, and have the largest number of councillors compared to any other party. They have a clear voice to the Scottish public.

The Conservatives though have currently 17 MSPs in Holyrood and 1 Scottish constituency MP in Westminster. They don’t have a great platform in Scotland.

So can they persuade the other Unionist parties – Labour and the Liberal Democrats – to follow their positive agenda?

I doubt it.

Labour are so far stuck in a negative agenda that their MPs and MSPs should be kept in a darkroom! Witness Jim Murphy’s Arc of Insolvency slur towards Iceland, for example.

And the Liberal Democrats with their federalist ambitions are hardly the best bedfellows for the Conservatives.

The three have just about managed to keep the Calman Commission afloat, all paddling in different directions! Without Kenneth Calman at the helm it would have perished on the rocks a long time ago. And even the Calman Commission is looking into more powers for the Scottish Parliament, so its more of a soft nationalist approach in any case.

So if the Conservatives alone argue for a positive case for the Union, their voice will just confuse with Labour’s negative case for independence and the Liberal Democrats case for federalism.

In short, the voters will switch off to the Unionist message.

Leaving the clear SNP positive message to take centre stage.

I have previously argued that unless the Unionists argue with a coherent message, then it would always lack ‘stickiness’. Something that the independence message doesn’t lack.

‘Stickiness’ is the vital quality before achieving the political Tipping Point; the backing for Scottish independence amongst the voters. And if you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s book you’ll realise that the Tipping Point is usually well before a majority; its just an equilibrium point – after which the product or message reaches everyone.

The course is clear for Unionists. To save the Union both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have to follow the Conservative’s lead.

And have a grown-up debate on the matter.

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Glenrothes PR disaster

October 23, 2008

I feel sorry for Sarah Brown.

Ushered into the Glenrothes constituency to try and boost her husband’s flagging party, the Labour campaigners turned what should have been a well-orchestrated media campaign into an absolute shambles.

The Prime Minister’s wife was ushered round 9 pre-selected homes in Cardenden.

Unfortunately it seems that the Labour ushers were a bit too much for the journalists.

From The Scotsman:

‘Journalists who then found themselves walking beside Mrs Brown struggled to avoid being tripped up as party members muscled in, trying to form a protective phalanx.

Then came the most extraordinary piece of control freakery of the day. “I want you guys on the green,” said the man from the Labour Party. “There will be six or seven guys with guns who will keep you away from her. You may be shot and then it won’t be my problem.” ‘

Threatening to kill the assembled journalists can’t have gone down well with the press.

This only days after the Commonwealth Journalists Association issued a declaration against the abuse of journalists at their conference in Malaysia:

“We will expose and embarrass. We will lobby our own governments to pressure these despots into treating journalists with basic human respect.”

Various papers just went and interviewed those on the street not fortunate enough for a visit instead:

The Herald:

‘Darren Brovan, 23, a joiner who said he was not given the option of a visit from the PM’s wife, watched the tightly managed procession from an upstairs window.

‘He said: “It doesn’t seem very fair that she’s not going round everyone’s house, though I suppose I wouldn’t have answered the door to her anyway. I lost my job last month, because of the credit crunch, and I think that’s the government’s fault. But what would be the point in me bringing that up with the Prime Minister’s wife? What difference would it make? She’d have forgotten my name in two minutes anyway.” ‘

The Scottish Daily Express:

‘Anne Murray, 45, who did not have a Labour banner in her window, was apparently unworthy of a visit.

‘She said: “I would have asked her, ‘Where’s your husband?’

“She should have been here last night when there were three police cars and an ambulance in the street. I can’t tell you why because I would have my windows put in.” ‘

And the people she did visit?

The Scottish Daily Express:

‘One of the doors she happened to stop at was that of Joni Doig, 37, the daughter of Labour councillor Margo Doig. Joni said: “She was lovely and said she thought Labour might win. We know them quite well. My dad did a bit of painting and decorating for her and Gordon in their house in Inverkeithing last year.”

‘Kathleen McNulty, Councillor Doig’s next-door neighbour, also received a visit.’

The Scotsman:

‘Natasha Burns, 18, held her 18-month-old son, McKenzie, who was agog at the goings-on. She said: “He couldn’t believe the commotion. She was just talking away to him and he said: ‘hi’ when she said: ‘Goodbye’.” ‘

A typical street in Cardenden then, merely coincidentally where a Labour councillor lives.

What gets me is Sarah Brown was a founding partner of Hobsbawm Macaulay Communications, a public relations company. I bet she is livid over Labour’s handling of her photo-opportunity!

I’d guess if she visits the Glenrothes constituency again she’ll want a lot more say in how things are run.

Its hardly the start to the campaign that Labour could have wanted.

Sarah Brown was supposed to be Labour’s spearhead in the Glenrothes campaign, according to the Daily Record.

They have a quote from Labour’s Scottish Secretary, Jim Murphy:

“Sarah will shine on the doorstep. Her decision is a real boost for our campaign and it’s a signal Labour is fighting for every single vote.”

When he meant Labour was fighting for every vote, it meant using guns then?

Oops!

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