Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Scottish Industry of Fake Educational Equality, ‘ring-fencing’ is the new language of the social oppressor, meaningless forum report highlights no time table to introduce new ‘help’ for disadvantaged working class kids, they don’t want ‘special treatment’, they want a level playing field, why won’t Nicola Sturgeon give them that, Sturgeon said ‘judge me on education’, it is time all of Scotland did just that!

Dear All

Years ago, when I was looking at education and who sits where, I found out that colleges in Scotland had people from universities senior management sitting on the college boards. At the same time, I was looking at the Scottish Funding Council in terms of who gets what in cash terms. The biggest bulk of cash coming from the Scottish Government goes to what are known as the ‘ancient’ universities, places like Glasgow, St Andrews and Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee. At the bottom end of the financial scale in terms of cash were the colleges, in recent years there has been a restructure of the college sector with ‘mergers’. The upshot of mergers once you cut through the glam and hype of how wonderful everything is because it is new was tens of thousands of college places lost.

Consider this, the bulk of college places go to working class kids, but you must also mention, foreign students use this as a gateway to university, along with middle class kids who didn’t get the grades! Higher education or university education is operated on a class system, yes, there are many working class kids in it, but their numbers are dwarfed by the middle classes from private schools. In subjects like medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry, you will generally have to look very hard to find the students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Having spent 20 years at Glasgow University, I saw first hand the make up of the student population which changed little from a working class perspective. There were ‘changes’ but it was noticeable when it was done when the University was targeting foreign students. In the mid 80’s when I arrived, there was a healthy Norwegian contingent because of Oil and engineering, later years a huge influx of Chinese students.

In Court minutes as far back as 20 years go, the University of Glasgow decided to increase their intake of students from foreign backgrounds. Why the interest in teaching foreign students, basically money, universities were raking in cash to the tune of £25k a year from them. In recent years, as people noticed that EU students were getting free tuition, people clicked that this largesse worked against working class kids.

But this would be yet again, a symptom, of a problem never addressed.

The greatest lie of free tuition is that it is free, the bulk of the population which is working class over the years is paying for it and effectively frozen out of it. The current exams fiasco of downgrading working class kids to mere ‘second class citizens’ isn’t new. It is just a different style of discrimination on a massive scale, and it is just getting an airing because what the SNP have done under Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney. Their actions were so heinous that even their own SNP supporters and the press are up in arms. Today, the spotlight is focused on the SQA, but what has happened here is a symptom; a real part of the illness is the SFC, the Scottish Funding Council. This organisation should be split into two separate bodies, one for universities and the other for colleges, but it won’t.  You see politicians like to talk about how much they are spending on education, which is billions, but not who they spend it on.

A brief glimpse of the make up of Holyrood MSPs you can see most of the them have a degree from university, and a cosy relationship with them, they have no interest of changing the status quo to give disadvantaged kids a level playing field. When they talk about letting more working class kids in, the narrative they use is ‘lowering the bar’, basically saying the working class kids are ‘thick’, and the press and politicians, they generally don’t say anything in protest.

Working class kids don’t need the bar lowered for them; they need the same help that rich kids get. Pre covid, you take a walk into the Mitchell library and you could see kids from private schools getting extra help with paid tutors, pretty much every day.

Where was the level playing field which politicians were suppose to provide?

Have you ever considered the concept that the State school system isn’t there to provide educational opportunities beyond a certain point?

You are living in a world of passive discrimination which is socially acceptable to the political classes. Politicians keep saying they are trying to fix these issues, but they never tackle the people who do discriminate, have you never noticed that? Name one person dismissed from a university appointment for discrimination. I suspect you can’t name one, never read it in a paper, never saw it one a news programme because the university protects them, and in turn for covering up, they protect themselves, the politicians ignore it unless it is a ‘cause celeb’ to boost their election chances to either get into office or stay in office.   

Today, while we are still in the maelstrom of the SQA fight, something caught my eye, and it should get you thinking as well, establishments are being asked to ring-fence degree places for college students to help open up fresh opportunities for a university education to thousands of the Scotland's most disadvantaged in the post-Covid economy. When you look at who is offering this apparent ‘help’, you really need to ask, three questions, who, why and when. A new report released today in a college and university collaboration apparently sets out a series of recommendations to create more opportunities for students to progress seamlessly between a Higher National (HN) qualification into a university degree.

It should be pointed out that this already exists; it is not unknown that people who have taken an HND at college would enter university either at second or third year depending on their course or assessment of their ability. As to who came up with reinventing the wheel, is it produced by the National Articulation Forum; who are made up by people from Colleges Scotland and Universities Scotland. If you are the curious type, look up who funds Universities Scotland, then who runs this organisation; then check their linkedin background to see where they came from.

Universities Scotland is a mouthpiece organisation for universities!

When I read their proposals of what is effectively re-organising the deckchairs, I have to ask where these alleged extra thousands of the Scotland's most disadvantaged kids are going to pop up from. This measure looks rather to me to be a housekeeping measure to help clear out those already in the system earlier and make them look good because if the grades fiasco doesn’t pan out, then they have already got their ‘story; ready about helping, especially when they start rejecting people. If you take what these people say as gospel for a minute, they are really admitting that under the current system, thousands of working class kids who are disadvantaged where further disadvantaged by them regardless of grades.

How many decades have they known the system is broken; and if they only spotted this now in 2020, what does that say about the current state of management in education? How can people have faith in a system, which people on the outside know is flawed but those on the inside choose to do nothing of note to fix it. A real gem which you should look at is Higher education establishments are being asked to give a guarantee of places for college students on undergraduate and graduate apprenticeship degrees. I don’t like ‘ring-fencing’ when it comes to people, because when you stick in quotas based on things like social class, you just condoning the discrimination of the past, and green lighting the discrimination of the future. Of course, many will be taken in by the rhetoric, extra places for thousands of disadvantaged kids, but truth is, given the system was setup to fail poor kids, how much faith can we have in the same people who failed us all before and the politicians who failed to act unless pressurised?

Are we to simply believe they have had an epiphany?  

Also, another cracker to hone in on is that the forum say they have not included timescales for change "as the expectation" is for colleges, universities, the Scottish Government and other organisations "to progress them as a matter of importance".

This is the admission in my opinion of ‘no change’, because there is no commitment, no will, no ambition and no urgency to change the status quo.

Having seen the SNP Government of 13 years fail the poorest in society from the get go, given we have seen a lack of action for decades and decades, who is kidding who about anyone attaching importance to this? The reason that universities and colleges are squealing like they have got their ‘tits in a wringer’ is that foreign student numbers are expected to fall sharply as liken to ‘off a cliff’ due to covid. This creates a funding black hole, if covid hadn’t happened, universities were able to pad out the university population with £25k foreign students; this wouldn’t even be talked up as a starter beyond previous middle class rhetoric of ‘we are trying to help the poor’.

Lydia Rohmer, joint convener of the National Articulation Forum and principal of West Highland College UHI said:

“Colleges and universities have been working in partnership for many years to provide opportunities and pathways to enable students to make the transition from college to university. The work of the Forum has been invaluable in helping to provide focus on ways that colleges and universities can enhance that provision and provide more opportunities for students to progress towards their chosen careers. Articulation routes provide a valuable pathway from college into university for many students, some of whom will have already overcome significant barriers; therefore, it is important that the routes are flexible, seamless, and provide equality of opportunity.
The recommendations encourage even closer working relationships between colleges and universities – and indeed collective leadership across the wider Scottish education system – to deliver fair, equitable and sustainable pathways into university, and reducing any unnecessary repetition of the learner journey.”

That being said, we know the numbers of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds still stinks, especially in places like St Andrews. In January figures showed that 15.9 per cent of the intake in Scottish higher education came from the most deprived 20 per cent of the population, amounting to 5,210 students.

Ask yourself, how many universities and colleges are there in Scotland?

Then grasp this, Scottish Funding Council funds 19 universities and 26 colleges, you could take the 5,210 students and they would make up one fifth of the total student population of the University of Glasgow.

To show how un-ambitious Nicola Sturgeon and her SNP Government is; they want to increase the number of disadvantaged working class kids by a measly 0.1%. From 15.9% to 16%, are you underwhelmed by this ambition? How does this stack up against the SNP lie that they are Stronger for Scotland? How does this stack up with Nicola Sturgeon saying, ‘judge me on education’?

There is a whole sub industry in university education that appears devoted to widening access, they get resources but in reality, they are just the public face of a talking shop that isn’t credible in my opinion.

And never where!

All they do is ‘talk, talk, talk’ but in the main, they are just educational social engineering tokenists. Their existence is to get you to believe that you shouldn’t complain, you shouldn’t ask questions and shouldn’t look further into this because these people are the education professionals. They might have a two room office somewhere but it is low staffed and stuck away somewhere in a university cupboard, maybe next to the coffee machine and someone’s spotted owl collection. Occasionally, they might get to go out to a school and do a presentation, unfurl some banners, do a power point presentation and tell kids how wonderful their university experience will be.    

A Scottish Government spokesperson said:

“Every child growing up in Scotland, regardless of their background, should have an equal chance of attending university and participating in higher education”.

Talk, talk, talk, too much talk and not enough action!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Friday, July 31, 2020

SNP World of Treachery; Nationalist NEC rule change works to benefit Nicola Sturgeon ally, Angus Robertson, SNP make their selection process so unfair that sitting SNP MP Joanna Cherry is forced to pull out of Holyrood candidate bid, the war to get rid of Nicola Sturgeon will have to be fought on a different battlefield where Sturgeon’s SNP don’t control the rules.

Dear All

A long time ago, I blogged on the Court of King Alex and the Court of Queen Nicola, after losing the indyref in 2014, Alex Salmond was shuffled off to Westminster, and the Sturgeon Empire emerged. Rather than be yesterday’s man on the backbenches of Holyrood, he founded the Court of King Alex. Kingship secured he packed his bags and headed down south, and was content. He had a Court of newbie MPs dazzled by the bright lights of Westminster, and was seen as the leader, until he lost his seat. If he had stayed in Holyrood every time Nicola Sturgeon made a decision, every one would have turned their head to look at Salmond. So for political expediency he had to go. When the noises started that Salmond was considering a return to Holyrood, this set the alarms bells ringing in the Sturgeon camp. The Sturgeon camp comfortable with their new found power and status dreaded the prospect of losing their position. In a world of treachery and deceit which is the SNP, Salmond had to be stopped from coming back. Salmond if allowed back into Holyrood would eventually challenge Nicola Sturgeon for the leadership because since she took control, the failures of her government have been laid bare over time.

But before Alex Salmond could make a return to Holyrood, the rules in the Scottish Government were changed so that complaints against former ministers could be investigated. This led to the farce of what many people thought was a ‘stitch up’ against the former SNP leader and First Minister. I met Alex Salmond many times, and when the allegations came out, I was shocked; I struggled to think that they could possibly be true. Although it was said by many he could be tough and hard work, in his interactions with me and others on the campaign trail, he was what I expected a leader to be. Salmond gave the impression that we were all in this campaign together, something which Nicola Sturgeon could never do when I campaigned for her.

The Scottish Government rules were successfully challenged by Alex Salmond in a judicial review and he won his case. People were angry because they had a right to be angry, the process was unfair and designed to find him guilty. You can read more about this online and why after reading the details, many people were disappointed and called this a stitch up. And that is what the Scottish Government complaints procedure was designed to do, stitch up a person and deny them a fair hearing. Having lost that battle to destroy Alex Salmond, something unusual happened next. The emergence of what some people called ‘The Alphabet Women’ came more to light which led to a criminal trial of Alex Salmond.

The Alphabet Women it appeared seemed to have something in common, as pointed out by many, a closeness to Team Sturgeon.

In a dramatic court case which could have seen Alex Salmond lose his freedom, his reputation, and his career on RT, he fought against his 10 accusers, and a jury of his peers in Edinburgh found him innocent. Having won his victory, it seemed his accusers were quick to continue the fight against him, using avenues like Rape Crisis Scotland to publish their post verdict letter. The first battle was won by Alex Salmond, the second battle was won by Alex Salmond, he and his allies defended, now as he appeared outside the Court in Edinburgh, he said in plain speak, it was time to go on the offensive, when we reached a post covid world. In the press and on social media, his media, his supporters would fire political salvos into the Sturgeon camp, highlighting policy failures or the need to secure a second indyref.

Although Salmond checked his fire, continuing on with his show on RT, what was clearly emerging was a split in the SNP ranks, over Salmond and over independence. Former SNP MSP Dave Thompson and the Alliance for Independence caught out many, SNP version 2.0 was condemned by Team Sturgeon as splitting the Nationalist vote. SNP version 2.0 is all about scooping up regional list seats and has been condemned as ‘gaming the system’. My view on this is simple, Holyrood was setup wrong, it was setup to ‘game the system’ by the then Labour Government in Westminster. I am a long time supporter of removal of the list system, in its place; I would replace it with 129 seats, all FPTP, no list. Instead of an MSP representing circa 3 wards, they would represent two in new drawn up boundaries.

As the split in the SNP goes on, the public is finding out how dirty SNP politics actually is, a member of Team Salmond, SNP MP Joanna Cherry has effectively been blocked by Team Sturgeon from standing for Holyrood. You might ask how this was done, simply by changing the rules. It is well known that Angus Robertson is a Sturgeon ally, Cherry is a Salmond ally, and a threat to the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon. I don’t think much of Cherry but she seems to be useful as a Salmond proxy. What the SNP NEC have done is to change the rules so that members could not run for Holyrood if they were a sitting MP. By doing so, Cherry must resign as an MP prior to entering the contest, so she would be unemployed and so would her staff.

Regardless of my thoughts on Cherry, the individual, this rule is unfair, undemocratic and plain nasty, but this is what you get in the SNP under the ‘cult of personality’. No one crosses the leader, and the leader is Sturgeon. Sturgeon as I pointed out is a wee vicious nasty poisonous individual who should have never risen to the top; she is no leader but holds the position. As bad as Sturgeon is, what makes up her Team Sturgeon surrounding her is equally on a par with her and also they have more time to operate in the shadows. As seen on twitter the news of the rule change in favour of Angus Robertson hasn't gone down well with SNP supporters who have taken to twitter to vent their anger, some to Sturgeon’s twitter account. What the SNP supporters haven’t worked out; and it took me long enough when I was a member, is that the SNP is a party within a party. Sturgeon doesn’t care what the ordinary rank and file think of her, she cares about their votes and their money, that’s it.
When Joanna Cherry announced she would be seeking the nomination for the Edinburgh Central seat, you knew there would be trouble, so to clear the way for Angus Robertson, the easiest thing to do was a rule change. Since barring Cherry as a candidate wasn’t viable or an option, she had to be allowed to stand, but making a financial barrier threw the decision back on Cherry. It had to be Cherry’s decision to stand down to dampen down the flames, but no one can have any doubt what has been done here.  

In a statement Cherry said:

“I have not had the courtesy of any official confirmation of this decision and would not normally comment on leaks of internal party matters, however private discussions by the current SNP NEC seem to regularly reach the press and I understand that the information which has been leaked is correct. I think that most fair-minded people will see the events of the last few days for what they are. Edinburgh Central SNP, the branch of which I have been a member since I joined the SNP 12 years ago, has the right to choose the candidate it wants to field in the 2021 Holyrood election. Branch democracy is an important part of our party. Members of Edinburgh Central had hoped that I would be part of a fair and open contest, but this decision makes that impossible.”

Cherry added:

“It is unprecedented in our party’s history of dual mandates to demand that a parliamentarian make themselves and their constituency staff unemployed in order to be eligible to be a candidate. It is particularly unreasonable to demand this in the middle of a pandemic. I am not prepared to do it and so unless circumstances change, I won’t be seeking nomination for Holyrood in this election. I have been overwhelmed by the messages of support from party members and members of the public. I believe I stood a very good chance to be selected to fight the seat where I have lived for most of my life and I want to thank everyone who has emailed, written or stopped me in the street to offer their support. I would like to reassure my constituents that I shall continue to represent their interests as their MP and to the grassroots members of our party, I promise that I will continue to advocate for independence, democratic reform of our party and open debate. As Westminster is in recess, I am about to take some time off to spend with my partner and my family and I won’t be making any further comment at this stage.”

Notice she said, “I will continue to advocate for independence, democratic reform of our party and open debate”. Does that sound like someone who is happy? So, Cherry stands down, but that doesn’t mean that Team Salmond can’t field another candidate unless Team Sturgeon has also shut off that route as well. One thing which should be mentioned is the call by Team Salmond for a ‘clear out’ at SNP HQ, and any clear out must include Peter Murrell, Sturgeon’s husband. Although Salmond is sitting on the fence, he must realise that what Cherry faced to block her, re rules changes would also be applied to him in his efforts to return as leader or even as a member.

Is there a Team Salmond MSP kicking about the place willing to call for a leadership contest against Nicola Sturgeon?

Will Salmond come to the conclusion that SNP version 2.0 is now his best vehicle and option for a return to Holyrood?

Salmond said he ‘loves’ the SNP, but he has to wake up to the fact that those who now control the SNP levers don’t love him and want him gone.

Finally, if the SNP was a house, it would be condemned as rotten, although there are seats up for grabs as some in the SNP ranks depart after this Holyrood term, Salmond is a name that is doubtful to appear anytime soon on an SNP ballot paper. If Salmond and his supporters want their revenge, it is increasingly likely that they will have to pull down the party brick by brick from both the inside and the outside. Leaders who lose elections have a tendency to step down, but with no future avenue emerging for Sturgeon to jump to regards employment, her options are leave politics or stay in place. I sincerely doubt Team Salmond have her welfare at heart or that of her husband, when she goes, he goes, and given no future leader has emerged in Team Sturgeon or as CEO in waiting, the Murrells will have to tough it out because rebellions from the inside only have to be lucky once.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Wakey wakey, why so slow; Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour finally wake up to the fact that the Sturgeon briefings on Covid are 'SNP party political broadcasts', ten months out from an election, and months off the pace of what is happening, the opposition should press the point that the SNP can also limit political activities in communities, how is Holyrood 2021 going to be seen as a free and fair election?

Dear All

If you’re a regular reader on this blog, you will have seen now and again that I used the phrase, ‘George Laird right again’. I did this to remind people that I had made predictions of what should be done, what needed to be done and much later, sometimes weeks, months or years, it happened. One example of this was several years ago, me talking about the need for an EU border force, an idea which others later arrived at. Back in Sept 2010, I floated both the idea of a single national police force and fire service while in the SNP. Later on the SNP politicians came to the same ideas, instead of following my theories of how these should operate, they put their spin on it. Their ideas led to problems such as the ‘vat’ problem with Police Scotland because of their unwillingness to work with the UK government.

The Scottish Conservatives have now sussed out something I have touched upon months back, that Nicola Surgeon and the SNP are using covid briefings as opportunities to run covert are 'SNP party political broadcasts'. A few days ago, I even tweeted again that the political parties should make a formal complaint to the BBC. I would also say that these briefings should now be taken completely off the SNP leader and presented by BBC personnel, with additional guests with expertise. It was always going to happen that Nicola Sturgeon once she had a platform would abuse it for political gain. As the Scottish Conservatives have pointed out, Sturgeon has veered off Covid and used the TV broadcasts to score political points. And if you don’t know who she is attacking or badmouthing, it is typically the UK Government. The Scottish Conservatives so far have pointed out that there are at least seven occasions when this has happened.

Next year is election year at Holyrood, 2021 is going to be an interesting election, for various reasons with new parties set to debut. At this point, it should be pointed out that the opposition to the SNP have been slow to react not just over covid briefings but also in a general sense. The SNP have used their position to effectively block them out as a force. Of the new players coming to the electoral scene, there are the pro UK, Alliance for Unity, headed up by George Galloway and what could be described as a rogue Nationalist outfit headed by former SNP MSP Dave Thompson with elements connected to Tommy Sheridan in it. The Nationalists are seeking to use the new indy party to scoop up regional lists which would not be available to the SNP due to their FPTP dominance in constituencies. Sometime ago, the idea was floated of tactical voting but due to hostility of the pro UK main parties, the idea never gained ground. The opposition to the SNP haven’t made inroads as expected or effectively challenged the Nats. They need to wake up, the voters need convinced and so far they aren’t producing narratives to convince. As I mentioned awhile ago, the opposition to the SNP really is the majority of pro UK Scots such as Allan Sutherland.

My view of the Scottish covid briefings is simple, they are a farce, Nicola Sturgeon controls the briefings, others are mere but players; and the press; they get one question. If Sturgeon doesn’t like the question, she doesn’t answer it, or if she calls it political then it is dismissed out of hand. Her stock answer seems to be, ‘this is a covid briefing’, but apparently she can talk about politics, she can attack rivals and she can have an 'SNP party political broadcast'. In briefings, Sturgeon referred to the UK Government’s approach to airbridges as “shambolic”, she went out of her way to criticise Boris Johnson for remarks on the Scotland-England border, and raised questions about immigration policy. What she is supposed to do is stick to facts, figures and Scottish government policy about covid response.

The Scottish Conservatives also highlighted that had also “blasted the UK Government’s rebranded ‘stay alert’ guidance, only to herself adopt an almost identical message weeks later”. In case you haven’t clicked to it, what Sturgeon is doing is following UK government policy, but in a delayed fashion. If something goes wrong like a ‘spike’, she then takes credit for being cautious. One thing which you need to know is that politicians give the impression of having all the answers, but the truth is, they don’t. As much as the SNP love the idea of how wonderful Sturgeon is doing, the truth is that she isn’t having a good pandemic, she is having solely a good PR show on the BBC. The scandal of covid in care homes is a disgrace, the fact the elderly weren’t sent to hospitals are a disgrace, the fact there wasn’t enough or the correct PPE is a disgrace, and it is all a Scottish failure.

Now, it seems the opposition are finally getting it about the "SNP party political broadcasts", so much so that both Labour and the Tories urge BBC Scotland to stop airing the briefings, which the opposition claim have become increasingly “partisan”. Yes, they are ‘partisan’ but this is the nature of the SNP, with them it is ‘party before country’, the common good plays second fiddle to power. Scottish Labour has also asked for an urgent meeting with BBC Scotland Director to argue the briefings are now a misuse of public money and in breach of the BBC charter. As I mentioned above, the BBC must take over the briefings, this appears the only solution because it is highly unlikely that the BBC will allocate the same amount of air time to the opposition.

Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw said:

“It was quite right for the First Minister to embark on these daily briefings at the outset of this crisis, and for them to continue in the months that followed. But increasingly, as the statistics have improved and there’s inevitably less to say about them, the First Minister has turned to political point-scoring. This analysis shows how what starts with a daily data update soon descends into an SNP party political broadcast. She shouldn’t be doing that, and the BBC shouldn’t be indulging it. Either Nicola Sturgeon reverts to this being purely a factual event; or the corporation takes a stand and refuses to give her the airtime.”

Jackson Carlaw is right to complain, but his solutions are both unworkable, the only real solution is what I have outlined, these briefings are tainted, they are "SNP party political broadcasts". They are designed to place Nicola Sturgeon as the sole voice of the government, and when the election starts, Sturgeon will be the sole voice of the SNP campaign. If I can understand it, if I can get it, why can’t Jackson Carlaw? Carlaw needs to demand an investigation and the briefings turned over to the BBC. Covid is with us for the rest of the year, campaigning by parties needs to start back in communities, allowing Sturgeon and the SNP air time is an unfair advantage.  

BBC Scotland said:

“We are broadcasting Scottish Government briefings on the pandemic ad the easing of lockdown because these are matters of significant public interest. While cases of infection may be decreasing from their peak during the pandemic, there remains a valid editorial justification for reporting public health information and asking questions on new developments, such as the recent clusters in the Borders and Lanarkshire. The briefings in Scotland are covered by BBC one - which has also been the case when the UK and Welsh governments have held briefings. Viewing figures indicate there is a continuing audience need and appetite for information on the crisis, with an average daily combined audience of 275,000 for the briefings on both BBC One Scotland and the BBC Scotland channel.”

Is it time the point was forcibly made that these briefings can be done by the BBC? When a democracy becomes unbalanced, it is dangerous; the BBC in my opinion has like the rest of the press in Scotland been cowed. If the Scottish opposition parties get nowhere with BBC Scotland, they should raise a formal grievance with the BBC in London regards The Charter. As Scottish Labour points out, we are ten months out from an election, also given the SNP can control people and crowds movements, it tends to suggest that they can limit political activities in communities. Did the BBC take that into account when they just fobbed off opposition parties?

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

TIME FOR CHANGE IN ITALY; Italians demand a vote to leave the EU as soon as possible, Italy is in danger of becoming a failed state as their GDP rockets to 155.7%, grassroots campaign being launched as Italians fear they will end up like Greece, a country abused by an uncaring EU elite

Dear All

If Coronavirus has taught us one thing politically, it is that the EU has been ineffective as an entity and that member states have had to go it alone. Coronavirus has served one purpose, it exposed the EU project as fundamentally broken, too slow to react and too big to manage. Brexit has taught those who run the EU nothing in my opinion, they still cling to a furlong hope that even if they can’t get the UK back, they can put in measures to fleece us financially. The negotiations have been long, tedious, lacking in goodwill and so far unproductive. As a Brexiteer, I consider that campaign I fought in 2016 as rather special because in essence, it was a fight about sovereignty being restored. The idea of ‘Brexit’ isn’t just a British idea, likeminded people in other European countries have begun to recognise as we did; the EU doesn’t work on behalf of the people.

This begs the question, who does the EU ‘work’ for if not the people of member states?

The short answer is big business, huge corporations and their various offshoots, EU rights such as employment rights can simply be swept away from people, as seen in the ‘Viking Case’. Once you look passed the window dressing of ‘EU rights’, you see that in the UK, our UK rights in many cases surpass the EU. Check it out online and be made aware of what Remainers, the pro EU lobby in the UK are trying to do to deceive you. Their latest pitch is ‘freedom of movement’ and how wonderful it is, but ask yourself this, how many people in the UK travel to Europe to work and back?

Very few!

The fight about ‘freedom of movement’ is not about free movement, it is about residency, what ‘freedom of movement’ does is over saturation of the jobs market. Ask yourself this, if you were applying for a job which would you prefer, applying against five other people or applying against five hundred people? What about other areas such as housing, same thing, applying against five other people or applying against five hundred people? You see, what working class people know is that ‘freedom of movement’ doesn’t help them, it hinders their life chances right across the social sphere. If life chances are being hindered in the UK, it is logical to assume that this must apply in some degree to other working class people in countries in the EU block.

The UK has shown the way in leaving, which has prompted others such as the Italians to reassess what value EU membership has for them. The Italians are losing faith in the EU; they like the UK are travelling the same journey. When Covid-19 came to Europe it was Italy that was hit first and hit really hard, the virus spread rapidly and death toll in some parts seemed to be like a set of a horror movie. Italians weren’t slow to recognise as the virus ravished the nation that little help came from its European neighbours in those first weeks in February and March. Neighbours weren’t helping and the EU was ineffective and if we are being blunt negligent. Italians were left to fight the battle as hospitals in the north were overwhelmed.

Coronavirus just didn’t kill the people which were bad enough, it also killed the economy stone dead; everything had to close down bar essential services and food distribution. Italy is a beautiful country; you could list many places of interest, it is a country that is steep in history which has been part of many world events. But Italy has a problem, it isn’t Germany, its economy is different, so even before the virus hit, Italy like many countries in Southern Europe was struggling. The economies of southern Europe don’t fare well because of Euro; Greece is a model of how the EU has utterly failed to protect a member state. In trouble, the Greeks were given loans which failed to turn it around, and importantly destroyed democracy. Powers that the Greeks should have kept were handed over to the EU on important decisions like setting a budget.

Italy is important to the EU because, here is where the Treaty of Rome launched the then European Economic Community in 1957, with Italy a founding member. From the ECC over time, the organisation morphed into the EU, from a trading organisation to a political organisation. So, what does your ordinary Italian on the street think now about the EU; well Rome real estate agent Marco Tondo, 34 says:

"I have changed my mind a little on Europe. We are facing an absolute emergency, and seeing countries turning their backs on each other is really awkward."

Marco is currently receiving nine weeks' redundancy pay from the government at 80% of his normal salary. He needs to sell houses, and he can’t do that if people have no jobs and the economy is depressed. How long will he be unemployed? How many more thousands of Italians will join him?

A problem which most people don’t talk about is the myth of continual growth. Continual growth is an illusion sold to people by politicians. Just as history teaches us of the rise and fall of an empire, it also applies to companies. How many businesses have you heard that are doing out of business, and we aren’t talking maw and pa enterprises, we are talking brand name companies? Continual growth; and the myth of continual growth couldn’t save them as they were too big and not enough cash flow reserves to serve their debts.

According to a survey of 1,000 Italians conducted in April by Tecné, 42% of respondents said they would leave the EU, up from 26% in November 2018. People are starting to wake up regarding the EU, the country's economic output will fall by 8% this year, but right across Europe others will experience a downturn, but let’s face it that is no comfort to the Italians. That scale of downturn will bloat Italy's public debt this year to the tune of almost 155.7% of GDP. There isn’t enough money being generated to service debts, and the downward spiral leads to the nightmare of taking EU loans. Italy could end up in deep trouble; they want the creation of coronabonds, which would have been underwritten by all eurozone members to share the burden of economic recovery.

Germany and the Netherlands ruled out any kind of debt mutualisation, the Netherlands have been particularly vocal. So, the word no, isn’t going down well in Italy. Carlo Altomonte, associate Professor of Economics of European Integration at Bocconi University said of the Italian PM’s suggestion:

“Asking for coronabonds was the perfect way to have the door slammed in his face. Mutualisation of debt is forbidden by EU treaties and Germany's constitution. I think Conte used it as a weapon in negotiations."

Italian PM Giuseppe Conte told the BBC that the outbreak threatened the future of Europe. Now the bad bit for Italy, on 18 March, the European Central Bank launched a €750bn (£660bn; $800bn) bond purchase programme to help the eurozone's more indebted countries by pushing down borrowing costs. Two days later, the European Commission announced the suspension of rules on public deficits, thus allowing countries to inject as much money as they needed into their economies. Then, on 8 April, the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers agreed on a €540bn rescue plan. It was made up of:

€200bn as a new credit line for companies, provided by the European Investment Bank

€100bn in loans to support temporary unemployment schemes

€240bn as a credit line provided by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to fund eurozone health systems

This bailout package is to suck weak countries in which is why the political debate in Italy has focused mostly on that last part of the package. The unpopular ESM is an intergovernmental bailout fund. This bailout fund is the mechanism that provided loans to Greece and some other EU countries during the financial crisis and dates back to 2012. You can understand why the Italians are upset; everyone saw how badly the EU treated Greece under the guise of ‘help’. One thing which sticks in my mind about the Greek disaster was the reports of pensioners searching for food in bins, Greece, an EU country, a cradle of civilisation and some of its people reduced to this.

I remember commenting years ago that this isn’t the European dream.

Do you know what led to Brexit, it was ordinary people; millions of people who had enough of the EU, likewise, the movement to leave if it gets going in Italy will come from ordinary people. They will setup stalls, print their leaflets and hold rallies. They will be the driving force as it was in the UK. It will come from people like Italian Valentina Rosi has recently lost her job and her faith in the EU. She said:

"Europe is proving once more to be useless, so we should leave the EU."

When enough Italians see the light, then a political figure will emerge to spearhead it, and then the real push for a referendum will start. Already an Italexit campaign ‘No Europe - For Italy’ is being organised and launches on Thursday with advice from Nigel Farage who was a key player in Brexit. Gianluigi Paragone, a former senator for the anti-establishment 5Star Movement, said Italy would no longer be "blackmailed" by the Brussels bloc. He added:

“This is the way forward: we can no longer be blackmailed by tax havens that allow themselves to offend the great prestige of Italy. For this reason, on July 23, at 10 am, in the press room of the Chamber of Deputies, I will officially launch my party for Italexit, presenting the name and logo.”

Finally, the EU is an organisation which is unwilling to reform; I labelled it an organisation which is anti country and anti worker. While it remains unaccountable and divorced from the concerns of ordinary people dissent and distrust will grow. The loss of a founding member such as Italy is a huge blow, it could be what the countries in southern Europe need to kick start their own exit campaigns. I found campaigning against the EU to be rather easy, because their record is a matter of public record, their failures, their mindset and their attitude will be their undoing. I hope the Italians find the courage to have that referendum on EU membership.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Enterprise engines now have warp drive back online- A George Laird Production

Hi Folks

In an earlier cgi clip, I showed the Enterprise leaving spacedock, but I didn't know how to animate the engines glowing.

After a bit of studying, like Mr. Scott, I finally have the warp engines online, whoopee, although self taught, it shows how education and life long learning works wonders.

If you play this clip, go full screen and full HD.


The Newly Created Lost Generation of Scots, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon demands that Scottish children get 50% face to face learning time in Schools, her empty words and rhetoric show how little she and the SNP leadership care about the life chances of working class children, 50% is not good enough, Sturgeon’s education intervention is part of the SNP’s carefully staged managed persona for her since the PR mileage of ‘Nicola saves Scotland from coronavirus’ is literally is dying a painful death

Dear All

Any country that wants to progress must invest in its most important and valuable resource, that resource is people. The way to invest in people is through education. Education is the route that helps to ensure that working class kids have options. In return for having an educated population, we as a society see benefits, such as tax returns, social cohesion, social mobility and the raising up of society as a whole. If a country doesn’t invest in education it is the worst political decision it can make in both the long term and the short term. The creation of an underclass is one of the most damaging things that a country can produce and then allow to fester. In the wake of coronavirus, we are now seeing how SNP mindset is working to push further back the life chances of the most vulnerable in society.

The greatest lie that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP ever played on the Scottish people is that they cared for Scotland’s people. Many young Scots who hoped to go to University are going to see their hopes for getting a place in a shrinking quota further diminished by not having the tools to get into higher education. If you didn’t know better you would think judging by the rhetoric that the SNP were a party in opposition instead of controlling the levers of power of the Scottish Government. An example of what I have written is Nicola Sturgeon is ‘warning’ councils she expects pupils to be taught at least half the time in a classroom when schools return in August.

Working class Scottish kids need to be in school 100% of the time, plus they also need access to private tutors, private tutors are still the preserve of the rich. As someone who uses the Glasgow libraries, I have seen private school kids getting further education from private tutors even before the coronavirus hit Scotland. Working class Scottish kids from the most disadvantaged backgrounds aren’t being given a level playing field.

And they never were!

The hypocrisy of Nicola Sturgeon saying she has “concerns” about anything less than 50 per cent face-to-face teaching time is a sick joke. Under the SNP, the downward trend for Scots kids continues. Whatever measures are put in place by councils will not be enough, and the idea that the Scottish Government wants class time “maximised” is meaningless. You see when it comes to learning, people learn at different speeds and a key element in learning which opens up the wonder of understanding a subject is the ability to analyse. The ability to analyse, to breakdown a subject is crucial, you might call it ‘getting a hook’ where suddenly everything basically lines up in your mind and with that bedrock, you can achieve comprehensive understanding.

What is proposed by the SNP as help isn’t really going to be effective unless they can bring back 100% teaching time. Ideas like teaching on a Saturday and working through the October holiday isn’t going to make up the additional 50% of teaching time lost. Years ago, I came up with an idea of Scotland having, ‘community colleges’, this idea wasn’t new but new for Scotland, the community colleges would be run out of schools. This idea was all about bring the Japanese method of ‘cramming colleges’ to address the fact that poor kids couldn’t afford private tutors. The Japanese see the value of education at a young age as the best platform to prepare their kids for higher education or the world of work. Such an idea never came to the UK because the politicians found no value in it because they send their kids to private schools.

John Swinney, the SNP Education Minister prior to coronavirus has done a bad job of protecting kids’ futures. Nothing he has done in my mind shows he has Scotland’s best interests at heart. He failed to overturn CfE, a botched project on learning, and like the rest of the SNP leadership, he is more keen on bring an lgbt agenda into schools so that very young kids learn about anal sex among other things. John Swinney is too all intensive purposes a front man for the lgbt community of the SNP, the ‘enlightened heterosexual’.

So, what is the intervention of Nicola Sturgeon about when education secretary John Swinney said it was “unlikely” schools would be back to normal by summer 2022? It is all about a PR stunt to give the impression to the public that ‘Nicola Cares’. This is the continuation of slick PR scheme that the Nationalists have run with since she took over the leadership from Alex Salmond. Sturgeon, an angry bitter poisonous wee woman was given ‘make over’, hair, clothes, shoes and media training in an attempt to appear likeable. But the reality is that Nicola Sturgeon isn’t likeable as a person, there is something deeply rotten in her soul which she struggles continually to stop bursting out.

One thing, I don’t buy into is when the Scottish Tories claimed Sturgeon was “desperate” to wrestle back control of the subject from Mr Swinney. The SNP operate under the ‘Cult of Personality’, where the leader has full control and Ministers are autonomous up until the leader makes a decision which must be carried out. What the Scottish Tories got right that that the SNP are sowing confusion. The confusion is part of an act or mini play in which the ending is already written before the first act, the leader Nicola Sturgeon steps in to provide almost fairytale wisdom. In this case, like Swinney, Nicola Sturgeon is out of depth regarding education, how it is taught and how the provision of how it is delivered.

Both Swinney and Sturgeon don’t have real teaching experience!

Sturgeon saying her Scottish Government would now scrutinise council school plans and ask them to “reconsider and revise” to me is a superficial understanding of the real deep seated and systemic problems. The SNP are a party which pretty much exclusive operate on short term strategy, in the 13 years of government, Scotland is not a better place for people who are working class. Sturgeon thinks that throwing money at a problem is the solution to everything, which the analysis of how it is spent, when it is spent, who is spending it, and what is the overall effect of the spending of cash.   

Sturgeon’s intervention now is a rebuke to councils who have angered parents by already announcing plans for pupils to return for one day a week or for a third of the week. Her stepping in is all about seizing an opportunity to garner votes ahead of the 2021 Holyrood election. Apparently ‘Nicola saves Scotland’ from coronavirus might not be panning out as she and the SNP hoped for, the care home deaths and the overall total of deaths in Scotland isn’t an endorsement of her leadership.

Last Friday, John Swinney said he would like to see the face-to-face teaching “being applied at as close to 50 per cent as it possibly can be”. In contrast SNP-led Edinburgh City Council told parents only 33% of a school’s roll would be in school at any one time, and schools would only open Monday to Thursday. To me, this looks like a staged event undersell and then in comes Sturgeon to raise expectations. What sells this nonsense is a timid and compliant press, so we have at her daily briefing, Sturgeon being asked if the one day in three was good enough and whether she would consider a Scotland-wide minimum for face-to-face teaching in schools. For many who follow football, they will be familiar with the ‘set piece’, and this little episode has all the hallmarks of a staged little drama.

Sturgeon said:

“I would say very clearly, No I don’t think that is good enough. I said very clearly in my opening remarks we have to start from a point of seeking to maximise, absolutely maximise, the amount of time children will spend in a school environment having face-to-face learning with their teachers. While we have necessary safety constraints in place, that will, for a period mean that is not 100% of time being spent in school. But one of the things we will be looking at as we scrutinise the plans is whether there should be a minimum that we seek to have. That’s work we will consider in the days ahead.”

So, a lot of jargon, meaningless jargon at that with no promises, so also not the use of words, “  we have to start from a point of seeking to maximise, absolutely maximise, the amount of time children will spend in a school environment having face-to-face learning with their teachers”.

This is hope with no substance, designed to get Sturgeon over a low bar hurdle, no real pressure from the press in her carefully staged managed interviews. Nicola Sturgeon added teachers, pupils and parents had to be confident that schools would be safe, and the Government would ask its education experts on lessons from other countries. This means she intends to copy others which is another hallmark of her SNP Government, and shows a lack of knowledge in depth or the ability to be creative.

She also said:

“I want to get as quickly as we can, and as quickly as is safe and feasible, back to a position where young people have normal schooling just as quickly as possible. We will do that in absolute good faith. The priority for all of us must be the highest quality education for our young people, and to do everything we may be required to do to ensure that any impact on children’s education does not adversely affect them in the longer term. I cannot stress enough how much that means to me personally and the Government.”

One thing if you observe the SNP in action is that they don’t operate in ‘good faith’. In her threat to compel councils to offer a minimum standard of face-to-face learning, the issue is time. Smaller classes will mean more classes, and more classes mean longer hours for teachers. Compelling councils who either don’t have the money or the staff doesn’t really solve the problem, because the problem is time.

The problem is Time!

Scottish Tory education secretary Jamie Greene said:

“We are now several months into this crisis and that’s more than enough time for the SNP to have come up with a nationwide plan to maximise in-class schooling. Instead, all we’re seeing is more confusion, mixed messaging, and a chronic lack of leadership. Parents and teachers won’t know who to listen to – the First Minister or the education secretary – as their stories are increasingly different. Councils are being left in the dark and left in the lurch. This was a desperate attempt by Nicola Sturgeon to wrestle back control of this issue from John Swinney, who she clearly thinks has made a mess of things in recent days. As a result of this shambolic incompetence, right across Scotland children will miss out on huge swathes of education, and parents will simply be unable to return to work under current SNP plans. This is much than attainment; this is going to hamper Scotland’s economic recovery in the short, medium and long-term.”

Finally, Scotland used to have one of the best educational systems in the world; those days truly are long gone and seem permanently to remain as part of a bygone era. The claims of Nicola Sturgeon standing up for Scottish kids regarding their education are nonsense, as fake as her claims about standing up for Scotland. Over 13 years, the SNP had an opportunity to fix the broken system of education but instead choose to put others above working class kids at every opportunity. Whether it is 33% or 50% of face to face teaching time in Scotland’s schools, it isn’t good enough. What is needed is a return to a minimum of 100%, then that is the start point for the debate on the educational inequality which exists and is never tackled. We are seeing another lost generation of working class kids who have no real future; this has been solely created by Nicola Sturgeon and her SNP cohorts.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Candidate for Immediate Resignation, Bungling SNP Health Sec Jeane Freeman is a burden that Scotland can no longer afford to carry, Freeman is forced to admit that 1800 people were infected at Scottish NHS Hospitals, this was reported as 125 Covid-19 incidents, Holyrood has lost confidence in Freeman as calls for her to resign mount, for a party that says it wants a ‘grown up’ conversation with the public, ‘their version’ of the truth stinks to high heaven!

Dear All

In a recent poll, some people thought that the SNP should have more powers to control who comes into Scotland via our ports and airports. The question put to people was:

"Do you think people in Scotland would be more safe or less safe if the UK Government’s decision-making powers relating to the lockdown were transferred to the Scottish Government?”

I see this as a loaded question because people instinctively will think that local people on the ground would have a better understanding of what is needed. That theory might have appeal but the reality in Scotland is that the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon and Jeane Freeman, the health Secretary are not having a good pandemic. What they did was allowed untested people to be placed into care homes, they were in effect ticking time bombs of disease, or if you prefer, booby traps lying in wait for people (staff) to pick up the disease then spread it to other residents and staff.

It was well beyond the mental capacity of the Health Sec Jeane Freeman to understand that a virus can spread, and putting untested people into care homes is a danger, apparently it is said that she is ‘learning’.  

The latest poll by panelbase is dogwhistle politics; it has been commissioned by an independence supporter, James Kelly.

I would say that the real agenda of the Nationalists is to use the pandemic as a cover, to promote the idea and allow the narrative to germinate that the SNP should control the borders, then move on to control of inward immigration to Scotland. Once the SNP have control of immigration, they will gerrymander an independence vote in their favour by flooding the country with low skilled and poorly educated immigrants. The way the SNP work is to try and engineer voter caches, such as they have done with the Muslim vote. The UK Government is wise to this tactic and they aren’t going to give the SNP control of the borders, and they are not going to give them control of immigration either. I would say the panelbase question is worded to create a positive response in favour of the SNP Government.

If people think that Nicola Sturgeon and Jeane Freeman are doing a good job, they are so wrong and out of touch; Sturgeon’s daily TV show is all about presenting certain figures which paint her in a good light. What her TV show is about now is campaigning for the Holyrood 2021 election, which the opposition should be speaking out against, in parliament and in the press.

The true figure of deaths in Scotland is circa 4,000, given the UK death toll of 40,000 plus, there is no evidence of a good job being done by the Nationalists, quite the opposite in fact. What we have here is SNP media manipulation where they are the only ones doing the talking, while at the same time limiting the ability of the press to question them. Pretty much the press questioning of Nicola Sturgeon has been uniformly weak at the daily briefings.

Here is how they have done it using the figures; around 1800 people could have been infected with coronavirus during the hospital outbreaks which killed 218 patients in Scotland. But the SNP manipulated the truth by saying that there had been 125 "incidents" of Covid on non-Covid wards. They did not say how many people were involved; people thought that meant 125 patients and the SNP let people continue to think that. What the SNP done was put their spin on it in order to look good and give the impression that our hospitals were safe.

The SNP position is that they told the truth, they told ‘their version’ of the truth and then by omission left out information which the Scottish public would reasonably expect to be told. As the news emerges that 1800 people and not 125 were infected in hospitals, this has led to the Scottish Tories to stepping up calls for Health Sec Jeane Freeman’s dismissal. Freeman however won’t be fired and she won’t resign, her ‘job’ in the pandemic now is as a political bullet magnet so that Nicola Sturgeon remains untarnished. Health Sec Jeane Freeman is having a seriously bad pandemic, the fact it took the press putting pressure on the SNP Government who then cracked and said the 125 incidents had involved 908 patients shows you a stark picture of a government in decline and willing to practice what some might term as deceit.

Scottish Conservative Miles Briggs had a run in Freeman over why the full details had not disclosed at the outset. Her excuse was to say that the data has been un-validated. Each day at Sturgeon’s press conference, you hear a multitude of facts and figures, but suddenly these figures cannot now be validated, does she really think we, the people of Scotland are mugs? I suspect she does hold us all in contempt because after getting caught, she said, she had published the data (forced) in an effort to be helpful, but said she would not be doing so again.

Miles Briggs was apparently jeered by SNP MSPs when he said Ms Freeman should apologise to families for the “misleading picture” that had developed around the spread of Covid in hospital wards. Jeering people is a trademark of the SNP politicians, they sit behind Sturgeon, say and do nothing for the people of Scotland, but when their leader is attacked, they suddenly find their voice. Holyrood controlled by the SNP is a farce as a parliament; it is a body which now serves the SNP.

He added:

“Why did ministers decide to define almost 1,000 people as incidents? Will she now commit to publishing more accurate figures so that Parliament can have the true picture of what is happening in hospitals?”

Freeman replied:

“In publishing un-validated data, I was attempting to be helpful. It is a lesson that I have now learned.These are suspected transmissions, suspected cases and suspected deaths linked to them, and the validated data will be published by the end of the month, I hope.
Mr Briggs has chosen to take un-validated data and pretend that it is validated. That is inexcusable. If anyone needs to apologise to the people of Scotland for sending them off with un-validated nonsense, it is Mr Briggs. It is certainly not me.”

When held to account, the modus operandi of the SNP is to attack the messenger and attempt to push the message into the background. In a series of bad-tempered exchanges, Freeman also accused Miles Briggs for "mumbling at me; he should be listening".  This exchange is why Holyrood opposition MSPs need to stand up like Miles Briggs has done and ram the truth down the SNP’s throats and do it publicly.

The people of Scotland need to know the truth, to go get the truth, you have to force it out of the SNP.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the drip-drip way the information had been disclosed had “shaken my confidence in what the Government is telling us”. 

Do you think from reading this latest sorry episode of SNP failure that this is a government you can trust with your health, your family’s health, with the health of the wider community?

Finally, the opposition has lost faith in the Health Sec Jeane Freeman, the calls to resign will not be heeded, but in a post pandemic Scotland, once the dust has settled, there will be a lot of families who lost mothers, fathers and grandparents in Scottish care homes. These people could have been saved, but the health sec wasn’t bright enough, didn’t act fast enough and although the body count is circa 4000, do we really want Freeman in post if and when a second wave of the coronavirus hits us? Does anyone know or has asked her what prep has been done for a possible second wave, after all planning saves lives. 

Something that health sec Jeane Freeman found out coming rather late to the coronavirus party.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University