Posts tagged ‘Scotland’

Whither Scotland

The campaigning is done, the pollsters have retired and the people of Scotland are voting. We shall know the outcome tomorrow.

Personally I think they should go for it. Accept that they will suffer some short-term pain whilst telling two levels of politicians to take a very long walk off a very short pier.

However, if we are to believe the opinion polls, the outcome is too close to call. Are they accurate though? We all know that people lie and/or change their mind and my gut feeling is that, in the end, they will opt for the devil they know rather than uncertainty.

Whatever the result, unless it is a resounding ‘no’, the UK is going to have to make some changes across the course of the 2015-2020 parliament – whether that is negotiating the break-up of the union or substantial changes to how the UK is run.

I don’t though trust politicians or civil servants to do either very well. If it is to be independence, I foresee 18 months of blazing rows between Westminster and Holyrood as each side argues over who gets the CD collection. If not then I expect them to fudge the issue of federalising the UK as much as possible to ensure that all power remains in the centre.

If they do fudge then all they will have done is kicked the can down the road – and I’m not sure the electorate will stand for it, not this time. English nationalism, a generally dormant thing, seems to be stirring and I suspect things could get ugly if it is felt that the politicians have got it wrong. That is not something I want to see.

What I would like to see (but realise won’t happen) is for one of the main parties to grit their teeth and vote for Christmas by promising in their 2015 election manifesto that pretty much everything bar foreign policy and defence will be devolved down to at least the city or regional/county level. Let the major population centres take control. Let county hall or the parish council be more than a glorified talking shop. Decentralise everything.

Sure, there will still be far too many politicians for my liking but it is a step on the road to each person being their own independent nation rather than citizens of an arbitrary set of lines on a map.

Whether the Scots vote for their freedom or not, change is coming. These are truly interesting times.

Sugar baby love…

The website Seeking Arrangement, which boasts of being ‘The Elite Sugar Daddy Dating Site for those Seeking Mutually Beneficial Relationships® & Mutually Beneficial Arrangements™’, has come under fire from that august body of men and women otherwise known as MSPs.

The site’s premise is simple enough: bringing together wealthy, usually older benefactors and cash-strapped younger adults on whom they can show their money. Think any aging celebrity with a young, attractive woman on their arm and you are there.

Why are the MSPs so interested?

The website revealed yesterday that the University of Edinburgh is the latest Scottish university to make it on to their annual “Top 20 Fastest Growing Sugar Baby Schools” in the UK.

It said there had been a 222 per cent increase in female student sign-ups from the university since April 2012, putting it in 8th place with 148 new members in the UK league table.

The university is one of three north of the Border on the list. The others are Glasgow Caledonian which is ranked fifth and St Andrews ninth.

Students finding ways other than taxpayer backed loans to cover the cost of their tuition? Excellent. Initiative isn’t completely dead yet then.

But, as mentioned, the politicians – a group always suspicious of voluntary arrangements between consenting adults – are going for the scare tactic:

Liz Smith, MSP, Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman said that such sites could put female students at risk.

“I do not think I will be alone in having deep-seated concerns about this. I am sure there will be many parents, members of staff and indeed many students themselves who will rightly be very wary of the approach of this type of website,” she said.

“Sadly, there have been other circumstances where the police have been called in to investigate similar website activity and there is clearly a matter of concern about the reported growth-rate of female students wanting to make use of these social networking sites.”

Labour MSP Neil Findlay, a member of the education committee, said: “The company may like to spin this as students ‘being proactive in pursuing a higher education but I am very concerned that this may take are more sinister turn.

“Young people may be vulnerable to older men who may have less than altruistic motives behind their apparent generosity. The reality is Mr Wade’s company is making money out of a system that could be putting young students in danger.”

Yes, something might go wrong for a small percentage of the students – but that is how life works. Your job, you useless fools, isn’t to protect people every single waking second of the day – regardless of how much you may think otherwise. The only role of the state has to play in this (given its current monopoly on law and order) is to get involved when harm is done.

Besides, I suspect the people more likely to get fleeced out of these arrangements are those putting up the readies.

h/t @Jock_Bastard

“Do you wanna see me do the shimmy again?”

Sandra White MSPThe latest prohibitionist to come to my attention is one Sandra White, SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin. Ms White, it seems, has a bit of a bee in her bonnet about lap dancing clubs. In fact she dislikes them so much she would like to give councils in Scotland the power to close down each and every one of them without fearing any legal come back:

Glasgow MSP Sandra White is calling for laws to ensure all Scottish councils are given powers to refuse applications – and to choose to close down all lap dancing clubs.

[…]

Ms White, who believes lap dancing is exploitative to women and that it is a front for the sex trade, will propose clubs should be subject to a strict licensing regime.

This would let councils set the acceptable local number at zero. The SNP MSP is ready to lodge a Private Member’s Bill, which will then go to consultation.

She said: “I feel so strongly about this and that is why I’m going down this route. This would give councillors the choice to say if one lap dancing club is too many.

“Under this legislation they would be able to decide that and not risk being taken to court by lap dancing club owners.

“It would not be mandatory and the decision would lie with each local authority.

“I am hopeful this legislation will be passed eventually.”

Yes, that’s right, apparently we can make the lap dancers safer by driving their places of employment* underground. Could someone please remind me how that approach made the lives of prostitutes and drug users safer?

This isn’t Ms White’s first go either. Her last try, two years ago, was rejected by 76 votes to 45 despite being backed by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. The Scottish Government has signalled that it will back her again.

The only crumb of comfort that I can see is that she didn’t try to claim that ‘it is for the children’. Perhaps she’s saving that for the next attempt (assuming that this one fails)?

* My understanding of the matter is that lap dancers are typically self-employed and pay a sum to the club owner to work there. In return they keep what money they make from the punters.

Alcohol silliness in Scotland

Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) will be, from Saturday, dealing with the law of unexpected consequences with respect of their changes last year to the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. The Alcohol Bill 2010 was aimed at banning the selling of alcoholic drinks at a discount and restricting alcohol advertising.

However, because it only applies in Scotland, online orders from companies who distribute from England are unaffected. One company who are therefore taking advantage of this is everyone’s favourite supermarket bogeyman, Tesco, who have sent out a marketing e-mail to customers saying:

“Great news! All orders placed at TescoWine by the case will still qualify for these discounts when applicable as your wine is dispatched to you from our distribution centre in Daventry, England.”

No doubt other supermarkets and online wine retailers will follow that lead, if they have not done so already.

Predictably the nu-puritans don’t like this with Jennifer Curran, from the fake charity Alcohol Focus Scotland, saying:

“Tesco’s move, which encourages the bulk-buying of alcohol, flies in the face of its claims to be a responsible retailer. This is a blatant attempt to get round the law.”

Blatant it might be but if your politicans are going to pass a law with such an obvious loophole then expect it to be used. Tesco are providing the method, the market will decide if it is worth their while or not.

The politicans also aren’t happy about it. A government spokesman said:

“Internet sales represent only a very small proportion of the alcohol sold in Scotland, but it is an area that we watch closely to see if further action is necessary.”

What further action you blithering morons? Do you seriously think you can stop this sort of thing from happening? If so, how? More regulation, perhaps this time concerning purchasing alcohol from other countries? Searching vehicles as they cross the border from England?

Answers on a postcard please to Alex Salmond…