Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family, and be safe

Dear All

Merry Xmas and a happy New Year to you and your family!

I would like to thank all the people who took the opportunity to drop by the blog to read and comment.

91, 672 stopped by as of today, my first year in 2009 saw circa 10,000.

Merry Xmas and a happy new year when it comes!

Blogging starts up just after New Year.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lord Gill condemns the ‘right’ of criminals to a lower sentence if they used the section 196 (1) to get a reduction, we don’t live in an ideal world

Dear All

There is good law and bad law, and law that sometimes help the wheels of justice move more smoothly.

In Scotland there is such a law called the Criminal Procedures Scotland Act 1995, under section 196 (1) if an accused person pleads guilty early thus stop wasting the court’s time; they get a reduction in their sentence.

You can debate the moral rights or wrongs of that principle, but the law exists for good reason, Courts are under pressure and this helps ease this, if the law is ignored then there is no reason to plead guilty early.

This will lead to backlogs.

Lord Justice Clerk Lord Gill isn’t a fan of this law and has warned shortening sentences for those who admit crimes could erode public confidence in the justice system.

He goes further by calling for courts to take a tougher line when sentencing.

This is all good traditional Tory stuff from an age long since dead.

Defence lawyers who in theory have to do the best for the clients have warned removing incentives to plead guilty quickly will result in more contested charges and trials.

They are right, why plead guilty when you get the same sentence and maybe you might get off with it.

A five-judge bench at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh has been taking another look at this question by considering a number of test cases and has questioned the right to discounts for an early guilty plea.

I would opine that in the interests of a properly functioning judiciary, it is important that this matter is not sidetracked into some emotional rant.

Lord Gill said the discounts of one-third being allowed as a matter of routine were the result of a "superficial reading" of the unspecified 1996 case.

He said:

"So it is opportune to repeat that an accused is not entitled to any particular discount in return for a plea of guilty. The level of discount, if any, is and must always be a matter for the discretion of the sentencer."

I would say that this is wrong, case law would support allowing and retaining such a practice.

The expectation of a sentencing discount of up to one-third of the sentence was enshrined in Scots law for the first time in October 2003.

At the time of Lord Cullen's review this idea appeared to have come from the then Scottish Executive's proposals for High Court reform and Lord Bonomy's recommendations to speed up the justice system.

Because it argued that there should be a "predictable" reduction in sentence if an accused pled guilty at an early stage.

Then in an appeal court case in 2003, known as Du Plooy, the position was clarified so that sentencers should consider discounts of up to one-third in such cases.

And life went on the Courts were able to increase volume under an already overstretched system.

The argument advanced for discounts was they spared witnesses from having to give evidence, and saved court time and expense.

How can this now be seen as a bad idea?

And why should anyone be stupid enough to want to return to chaos because someone wants their pound of flesh?

Scottish criminal lawyer Paul McBride described Lord Gill's warning as "provocative", adding there had to be incentives to pleading guilty to prevent overburdening courts with trials.

I am not a Paul McBride fan but however we do travel along the same train of thought sometimes.

He said:

"I agree people should not be entitled to anything automatically, but let's give the courts the discretion to apply their common sense and give people an appropriate discount and encourage them to plead guilty at the earliest opportunity to spare the victims the agony of having to go through a trial.


"It's certainly a very provocative thing for him to say and he will fully understand the implications of it. If accused people understand they won't get a discount if they plead guilty, what on earth is the incentive for them to plead guilty?

McBride rightly says:

"If you give them no incentive you will end up having more and more trials, and the courts are finding it difficult enough to cope at the moment in an ideal world of unlimited resources and unlimited judges and unlimited lawyers then no-one would get any discount for pleading guilty. We are not in that world."

As General Mick Jackson used to say, ‘we are where we are’.

Lord Gill said something interesting when he went on to warn of the danger a discount might cause an accused to plead guilty, even when they had a fair defence. Innocent people by enlarge don’t plead guilty so the idea that someone would do so is strange particularly when they have legal representation. I think that this is crap.

Gill added:

"The second risk is the allowance of substantial discounts may cause the sentencing decisions of the criminal courts to lose credibility and in this way may erode the authority of the courts."

Since when does applying current law do this? And the authority of the courts isn’t in any way weakened, bad judgement in criminal cases such as the Cadder ruling do much more damage because Cadder showed some judges to be incompetent and unfit to be on the Appeal Court Bench.

Cadder was a straightforward violation by the Courts, the Crown and the Police of human rights denial.

This was set right by the UK Supreme Court who made Scotland human rights compliant on that issue.

Lord Gill continued:

"I consider the court's discretion to allow a discount should be exercised sparingly and only for convincing reasons."

Can Lord Gill front the costs of increased expenditure for the problem he is trying to manufacture or does he believe that closing one third of Scotland’s Sheriff Courts is going to produce a tsunami of funds to cover this.

I would like to see competence tests rather like academic exams introduced for judges and others who sit in the Courts passing judgments; this should include a psychological assessment on whether or not they should be there in the first place.

We need a clear legal framework for the Courts to operate under to produce a fair and just system that functions at an optimal level or as close to it as possible.

This crap has disaster written all over it and the Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill should take no notice of this, we want quick trials not having accused people getting ‘second mortgages’ and planning permission to build extensions to the court because they are there so long.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sir Michael Wilshaw, new Ofsted chief says scruffy teachers should set an example and dress professionally, image and presentation matters in public

Dear All

Image and presentation matter!

If you want people to take you seriously you have to look the part, that first impression counts.

The new head of Ofsted says scruffy teachers should be ordered to smarten up in the classroom.

By way of a dress code, teachers claim they are professionals, is it too much to ask that they dress the part?

I suspect most people would say yes they should.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, an inner city head becomes the Chief Inspector of Schools next month, said teachers should set an example and dress in a ‘professional’ manner.

Great minds think alike, he also believes whether inspectors should consider staff dress codes during inspections.

Sir Michael thinks it should be one of the criteria Ofsted looks at.


“I think it’s patronising to children for staff to dress poorly”.

When I taught in my youth, I was always dressed for the activity I was teaching, on time and prepared. My pupils had 100% confidence in me, but teaching isn’t simply looking the part, you have to know your subject as well as having the ability to put it across at a level that allows pupils to grasp the subject matter. In some cases you may have to repeat the same lesson again as people learn at different speeds.

Once they get the hook, they find their time in the learning experience more enjoyable.

Learning should be fun, but also disciplined.

Sir Michael’s intervention was welcomed by campaigners last night.

Nick Seaton, secretary of the Campaign for Real Education, said teachers should be banned from wearing jeans and T-shirts in the classroom.

It has been along time since I was at school and the idea of a teacher in jeans and T shirt certainly doesn’t convey the right image.

Another interesting point is that history and geography 'could become compulsory' to 16 in major shake-up of national curriculum, I would agree that to understand how to plan for the future you should have a grasp and working knowledge of the past, looking at mistakes of the past is a useful educational tool. I used a variation of this while teaching myself, by having trainees watch and analyse others and then engage in Q & A to develop understanding so that my pupils thought like instructors.

The ability to analyse is a key skill missing in education.

Nick Seaton adding:

“Teachers should be setting an example to young people for when they go into the world of work. That means they should look reasonably smart at work. Twenty or 30 years ago teachers wouldn’t have dreamed of going to school in scruffy clothes, but standards have slipped in some places.”

Sir Michael rightly says teachers patronise children by turning up to the classroom badly dressed and then expecting the pupils to keep to the uniform.

In his own school, Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, where he has achieved spectacular results, teachers were expected to wear ‘business-like’ clothes.

He added:

“Most good schools have a dress code for staff. It would be surprising if they didn’t. I am not very prescriptive but I’d make a judgement if someone came in here and was badly dressed. It’s the wrong message to give the children and think it patronises the children who are expected to turn up here in uniform.”

Sir Michael Wilshaw may turn out to be exactly what Ofsted and schools need, his ideas have considerable merit.

Michael Gove, English Minister for education talks about elitism being brought back to schools, that elitism should be available to all pupils to get the best possible start to life.

One thing, I said to a Russian friend of mine, Lana Soroka when I taught her was to analyse and consider options.

She is now a successful lawyer in London.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Monday, December 19, 2011

Glasgow Uni product Johann Lamont becomes Scottish Labour leader, Pollok Constituency is now unwinnable for any other political party even the SNP

Dear All

Johann Lamont has won the Scottish Labour Leadership contest.

It seems that the weakest candidate can rise to the top, Lamont is a Glasgow University product and if you ever watch her on Newsnight Scotland, she sounds awful.

However as Scottish Labour leader she has pretty much a ‘seat of life’ in Pollok, despite the SNP having a tsunami effect recently, however it wasn’t enough to topple her in the Labour stronghold, but it was close.

Now, she is leader her profile rises and so will personnel in the shape of activists as people want to be known by the leader.

Pollok is now unwinnable for any political party; no one in living memory as ever defeated the leader of a political party at an election.

In 2010 at the Westminster Campaign no one came close to Labour allowing Ian ‘the Deerhunter’ Davidson an easy stroll to the finish line.

Pollok is now unwinnable at Holyrood and Westminster for any candidate standing against them in political parties. It is a complete waste of time to be an activist in that area from another party other than Labour.

Now, the worst candidate is in place, Glasgow University product Johann Lamont has unveiled her front-bench appointments.

The leader in waiting, Ken Macintosh gets a top job for handling the finance, employment and sustainable growth remit.

Ken Macintosh won the votes of the grassroots and was then beaten in the contest on Saturday.

Ms Lamont, MSP for Glasgow Pollok, said she will set out a positive vision for a "fair" Scotland.

This will be a challenge as she and the rest sat on their hands for the entire duration of the last Holyrood term doing absolutely nothing but spin and gimmicks.

In political terms, the reality generated was that Scottish Labour wasn’t seen as a credible alternative.

Lamont said:

"My shadow cabinet will be inclusive, bringing together experienced former ministers and newer voices to speak on the important issues for Scotland. Our job will not just be to hold the Scottish Government to account, but to show our party's ambition again. Together we must set out and convince the people of Scotland of Labour's vision for our country. Ours is a positive vision for a prosperous Scotland that can pay its own way, a wealth-creating Scotland that uses its wealth to build a fairer country, a Scotland determined that not one person's talent is wasted, a Scotland that challenges all Scots to be all that they can be, and which creates the conditions in which we can reach our aspirations. My shadow cabinet will comprise elected politicians and also experts in their fields from all walks of life to advise, share experience and help shape the future of our country. I will make more appointments in the coming weeks and months."

The reason for bring in outsiders to her team is that ‘the pool’ is very limited.

Hugh Henry becomes spokesman for education and lifelong learning.

Jackie Baillie stays in charge of health.

Patricia Ferguson will be spokeswoman for culture, external affairs and the Commonwealth Games.

Richard Baker becomes spokesman for infrastructure and capital investment.

Lewis Macdonald was appointed justice spokesman.

Sarah Boyack becomes spokeswoman for local government and planning.

Claire Baker becomes spokeswoman for rural affairs and environment.

Paul Martin remains parliamentary business manager.

James Kelly is the chief whip.

After the first round of counting, Lamont had 51.77% of the votes, Macintosh had 40.28% and Glasgow South MP Tom Harris trailed a very poor third with only 7.95%.

Harris was the best at presentation and had presence but his problem was he wasn’t in the Holyrood clique and the real battle in Scotland is at Holyrood in the Chamber on the ‘shop floor’.

Lamont because of restructure is the first person to lead the whole of the party in Scotland, rather than just the Holyrood group, following changes since the review by Jim Murphy to the party structure.

So, has Glasgow University product the skills to take on Alex Salmond in mental combat?

She is a poor choice and doesn’t look like a First Minister in waiting.

However, she has a job for life as Pollok MSP now that she is leader, people will flock to her because it may help their political careers.

Anyone standing against Johann Lamont in Pollok is just pissing £500 up against the wall and wasted their time.

Lamont has a walkthrough.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Police chiefs warn of £22m 'hidden cost' in single force, there will be start problems, but they are solvable, act like professionals!

Dear All

When I was pushing the idea of a single national Police force at the SNP National Assembly, I did so know that although this was a good idea of benefit, some people would lose out.

However the Police in Scotland had to merge to make a 21st Century force and deal with the challenges of the ever changing nature of crime.

We need a national force, unfortunately in the past, self interest stop this idea going forward.

In the reorganization there will be problems, such as start up costs, this is to be expected.

But there is supposed to be experienced officers who can deal with this, we aren’t asking anyone to go to the moon here.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) said in reply to a Government consultation on the plans that it will require cuts to police staff.

That was part of my original idea, to contract the service in a concentrated unit before allowing growth.

We need to be standing first on the bedrock of sound principles; then stage two reform can take place.

When I proposed the single force idea in September 2010, stage two was preparing for an independence landscape that saw the police take over the functions of customs and UK Border Agency.

There would be much more accountability and transparency if my original idea had been seen through to its logical conclusion.

Accountability would be done in a multi layer approach, special Holyrood committee, national board and retained local boards.

Acpos has flagged up the issue of vat, stating that under Scottish Government proposals the single service would be liable for £22 million a year in VAT to the Treasury, because of changes in the way the new organisation will be funded.

With good will and dialogue this could be sorted between Westminster and Holyrood, perhaps by a technical amendment for a new public sector vat exemption certificate. The nuts and bolts of that would have to be ironed out.

The idea that the police pay Vat to the treasury is bizarre anyway, it is on an outdated concept and the move to streamlining services is the true nature of reform in Scotland.

So far very few people in politics are talking of local and public sector reform because the Scottish Government have no ideas of merit, it is a key debate of this Holyrood term.
Police reform is a tip of a very large iceberg.

On job losses Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has intimated should not happen in a letter to staff and officers in September but he doesn’t have operational control so although his letter may allay fears, it isn’t worth the paper it is written on.

Les Gray, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, said:

"It would be ludicrous if the new police service had to pay VAT. That would be like washing public funds down the drain – money that should be spent on providing the public with an excellent police service. It would be scandalous."

Gray is very much anti single force; however all over Scotland there are similar law enforcement bodies which are national services, UK Border Agency, Customs, Prison Service and Transport Police.

The Scottish Government has stated the new single service will not be a Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB) like the Scottish Police Services Authority, which has been forced to pay millions in VAT.

To return to job losses for a sec, Kenny MacAskill wrote to staff and said:

"All officers and staff in post when the new organisation is established will transfer to the new Scottish Police Service on the day of establishment and will retain their terms and conditions of service on transfer. There should be no compulsory redundancies."

What he did write was a guarantee of future employment because there can’t be while the restructure takes place because all levers must be available to the organizers of the new body.

It has first to contract to a core unit then it can expand properly, everyone should know this without it having to be said.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said:

"It will be for the new service, after detailed planning and transitional work, to determine the workforce balance of the new service. All personnel in post on the day of reform will be entitled to transfer to the new service."

Clearly, the Scottish Government is setting out its stall that job losses although regrettable are out of their hands.

But it was wrong for Kenny MacAskill to imply that everyone’s job would be safe, tell the truth is far better politically, don’t leave people with false hope because people can’t live on that.

Anyway, onwards and upwards, there are other ideas such as introducing a commercial arm as part of the national force structure but that is for another time and place.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Thursday, December 15, 2011

All opposition parties unite as SNP railroads sectarian football bill through Holyrood, Mulholland calls it ‘important legislation’, bollocks

Dear All

After the Scottish National Party won the Holyrood 2011 election, Alex Salmond said that the SNP may have won Scotland's first majority government but it "did not have a monopoly on wisdom".

He is of course absolutely right on that score.

Which brings me; to the SNP using its majority at Holyrood to pass the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill.

That was totally the wrong approach to take to tackle this problem.

How bad is this crap bill?

Bad enough to unite all opposition parties against this bad law, the law effectively allows Police to arrest anyone for singing what could be later construed as a sectarian song.

However, the Scottish government have not defined what songs could lead to someone or group getting arrested.

So, a person could be lifted, taken to court and it would be up to a jury to decide if they want to convict.

This will be based not on law; but possibly their own prejudices.

Law by its very nature must be clear and although ignorance of the law is not a defence in itself, this law could be argued with some merit that it isn’t human rights compliant.

A key part of convicting is establishing what is called ‘mens rea’, which means when the person or group committed the crime, did they have a ‘guilty mind’.

This standard common law test of criminal liability is usually expressed in the Latin phrase; ‘actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea’, which means "the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty".

Ergo, any decent lawyer or possibly second year law student on the ball could drive a truck right up the Scottish Government’s arse; do a U turn using the hand brake and wheel spin away taking their client out of Court.


It's shit law and to quote Alex Salmond again, Scotland's first majority government doesn’t have a monopoly on wisdom.

We now have two new offences created for targeting sectarian behaviour in and around football matches and on the internet.

Those convicted could spend as long as five years in prison and be banned from football grounds.

5 years for singing a song?

The SNP was wrong to use its majority at Holyrood to pass the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill but they left the door open by saying that they promised to review the use of the new powers.

Juries are generally sensible by enlarge but they do have odd characters on them, if you haven’t been on a jury it is an eye opener, believe me. But in the madness of the jury process, someone usually exercises common sense.

To be blunt, if I was on a jury and this shit was put to me, I would argue with some merit how utterly wrong this is in both law and in natural justice.

Passing bad law brings the Parliament into disrepute.

Last night opposition parties took the unusual step as I previously said of uniting to brand the bill, which has won backing from police and prosecutors as a shambles and unworkable.

Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Greens and Independent MSP Margo MacDonald issued a joint statement after the vote at Holyrood.

It read:

"Members of all political parties are determined to wipe the blight of sectarianism from Scottish society. It is of real regret that the first piece of legislation passed by this new Parliament has been railroaded through by the SNP. The SNP has used its majority to force through bad law that risks doing more harm than good. It sets a worrying precedent for this Parliament."

As I previously blogged, consensus is dead, unfortunately the SNP believe that they are the ‘new establishment’, this is delusion thinking and reminds me of Blair and his landslide in 1997.

And we all know what happened to Blair, from hero to zero, and then cast out.

Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham trying to justify this tripe reminded MSPs of on-field flashpoints at Old Firm encounters, bullets and bombs through the post and internet threats to Celtic manager Neil Lennon and other prominent Celtic figures.

All this could be dealt with using current law provisions.

She said:

"This simple point seems to have been lost in what I think is a fog of denial and sometimes apparently wilful misunderstanding. These are clear and specific improvements to the existing law."

I sincerely hope that someone else wrote that for her and she just parroted it out, I would prefer to believe she is ignorant of the subject matter rather than plain stupid.

Tory Justice Spokesman David McLetchie poured scorn the notion of asking police or prosecutors if they wanted new powers to being a akin to asking someone if they wanted a pay rise.

He predicted:

"What we will now see is a flood of prosecutions under the Act. No doubt this will be presented as a great success by the SNP, but in reality it will be a sham."

Labour justice spokesman James Kelly said:

"We all know that throughout this process, it has not been competently handled by the minister. What we need is a properly thought-out strategy on sectarianism, one that is informed by real people, not civil servants in St Andrew's House."

Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC, Scotland's top law officer, said:

"I welcome the passing of this Bill, which is one of the most important pieces of legislation to be passed by the Scottish Parliament."

I hold Frank Mulholland in contempt, what an arselicker.

20 Celtic supporters who travelled to Holyrood under the banner “Fans Not Criminals” were excluded from the public gallery for wearing campaign T-shirts.

Each wore a T shirt spelling out a letter to make a combined message and they intended to stand up and turn round when a Bill to tackle religious hatred and bigotry related to football was passed, to spell out “SNP – Shame on You.”

Jeanette Findlay, chairwoman of the Celtic Supporters’ Trust, said they had come to protest against this “shockingly unnecessary Bill”.

Ms. Findlay unfortunately gave a TV interview were she demonstrated how common she is, possibly not the best advocate for a protest group but her group did have a point, even although it was cheap, badly thought-out and ineffective.

She is also a Glasgow University product.

Over at the Herald Scotland, Iain MacWhirter writes:

"This dumb, unjust law is Salmond's first own goal"

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Human rights abusing Glasgow University admits internal reform plans ‘over-ambitious’, no shit Sherlock, corrupt foreigner Anton Muscatelli Principal

Dear All

It seems that down at the human rights abusing Glasgow University they have over-reaching themselves by trying to be creative.

Having spent 20 years at ‘University of Guantanamo Bay’, I was used to seeing fu*k up after fu*k up after fu*k up.

One reason I believed was the university became a crony infested pit.

Simple minded fu*ks have been employed who have a ‘key’ skill.

Burying themselves in other people’s asses and drawing breath only to tell their 'guru' how wonderful they are.

It was one of the deeply unpleasant sights to witness at the university, I didn’t involve myself in such behaviour while working as a fitness coach because unlike others who wanted to be the ‘pals’ of the students and staff, I actually had skills.

I taught fitness and weight training in my youth on a purely charitable basis and was the best in my field.

There was no competition during my time there; the fitness staff even had to go to my training partners for advice on how to better lay out their gym.

Anyway, the biggest reform of the institution for decades hasn’t gone well, with an internal report saying the move to replace nine academic faculties with four colleges in one year was "over-ambitious".

Bad news for corrupt foreigner Anton Muscatelli!

Doesn't seem like brains are embedded does it?

Senior vice-principal and Vet school character Andrea Nolan also said the financial climate was not ideal.

So speaks the 'voice of wisdom', someone probably told her what a great job she done writing it.

Big thinking isn’t the same as sticking your arm up a cow’s arse Nolan, it takes vision, planning and possibly real genius.

Any halfwit can stand on the sidelines and snipe when it goes wrong.

I always said that if the photocopiers ever breakdown at Glasgow University, then senior management would be effectively paralysed.

'University of Guantanamo Bay' recently was crying over £20 million of cuts which led to voluntary redundancies seeing 264 staff leaving.

Those at the top, saw ‘the trough’ fully protected.

As well as the ‘big idea’ there was another dead donkey roaming about called MyCampus, which sucked up significant numbers of staff being tied up developing a controversial £14m student enrolment website.

The numbers were less than those who hit the beaches on the 6th June 1944 in Normandy; they at least were going forward.

Not fighting a rearguard action.

The workload was said to be putting a great strain on staff because of an increased workload.

Nolan's report said the university had been responding to "major budgetary pressures due to the deteriorating economic climate and public funding situation".

Wow, all that education and the ability to state the bleeding obvious, what a great pity her Veterinary trained mind couldn’t have spoken up before the problems started.

The report summed up by saying:

"The introduction of the new structure was undertaken against a backdrop of significant change, both as a result of internal commitment to delivering the strategy and as a result of funding changes in the external environment”.

Translated, it was the wrong time to start a project because we are skint.

Nolan added:

"With hindsight, the senior management group was overly optimistic about what it wished to achieve within the associated time-scales, given the range of other projects that were planned and those that had to be initiated as a result of changes in the external environment."

Senior management is led by David Newall who I never found to be very bright in my dealings with him.

Not very bright with an attitude problem!

Dave Anderson, president of the Glasgow University branch of the UCU lecturers' union, said:

"We have called on senior management to do more to address the concerns of staff that are overburdened as a result of restructuring and to provide the support required to ensure the university's reputation is maintained in coming years."

Years ago while trawling through the University Court Minutes; my eye was caught by a proposal to increase the number of foreign students which could only be to create a cash cow culture to increase revenue.

The university has continued to move towards this principle.

In 2009 a paper prepared for the university's court stressed the importance of streamlining university management to ensure money was spent improving the university's performance.

Presumably some of the lower echelons were to be moved about and possibly out, it was a time to keep your head or pressed to someone senior’s arse in much the same way as troops landed on Omaha beach heads were buried in the sand as mortars and machine gun fire raked the beach.

The paper said:

"Compared to those universities currently in the world's top 50 we have relatively poor international and postgraduate student numbers, our research is not published consistently in journals - and our research capability is not regarded as highly by our peers."

I remember a PhD student telling me the story of someone trying to publish the same stuff twice in an academic journal and a bit of a hue and cry about it.

It was a very sordid episode indeed in Glasgow University history.

The PhD student also added that Sport Science pioneered to some extent at Glasgow University was a ‘load of wank’ and these people weren’t real scientists.

Some people produced a paper on the benefits of using an escalator instead of the stairs by putting up a poster at the bottom, as someone who was a fitness coach; I was appalled that such low grade shit would even be considered to be published.

And anyone would want their name associated with it.

To return to the main issue, a Glasgow University paid spokesman said:

"We are confident that the University of Glasgow is now well placed academically and financially and will continue to deliver world-class teaching and research and the best all-round experience for our students”.

Including institutional bullying, discrimination, harassment, malpractice and criminal fraud, they can’t even do that properly without getting caught out.

This post shows in detail how corrupt, stupid and arrogant so called ‘educated’ people are, publicly beaten by a student doing a 20 credit Egyptology course.

Another red letter day for corrupt foreigner Anton Muscatelli, another bridge too far!

Still there is the big salary, car, uni chauffeur and Principal’s house to be had.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Labour leader hopeful Johann Lamont tackles Scottish Government as Cadder ruling blamed as rape convictions plunge, Scotland is a corrupt country

Dear All

Rape is a serious crime; the effects on the victims are long lasting, that is why it is important to ensure that any police investigation and prosecution of anyone charged is done properly.

That is the only way to ensure justice, however like any crime there will be people who are guilty who get away with it and others who are innocent who get convicted.

The human element in trials produces perverse results something, but we need such due process to safeguard the system.

Government statistics released yesterday state there were just 36 rape and attempted rape convictions during 2010/11, compared with 54 in the previous 12 months.

Statistics are useful but justice we should remember isn’t a numbers game or treated as such.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) say the drop was a result of the Supreme Court Cadder ruling.

This could be looked at another way that the Fiscal Service and the Police aren’t effective enough in pursuing evidence.

Cadder cannot be the problem because Police interviewing a suspect would have to behave in exactly the same way as they would do if a solicitor was present.

Is the Fiscal Service saying Police use different techniques when interviewing suspects when a lawyer isn’t present?

This could possibly mean that Police use intimidation/bullying/oppressive tactics/threats etc.

The Cadder ruling whether some like it or not was essential and more important it was a human right because anyone accused is entitled under Article Six to a fair trial.

Questioning with a solicitor present upholds that principle and human right so long denied in Scotland.

The allegation made by The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) is all about directing attention away from THEIR failure.

The Cadder judgment, published by the Supreme Court in October last year, ruled it was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights to allow an accused to be detained and interviewed by police without the right to a solicitor, this was standard in many EU countries and beyond.

Scotland operated a corrupt practice until it was stopped by the UK Supreme Court and the Scottish Government, the Appeals Court and Fiscal Service were all 100% behind denying ordinary citizens human rights.

Legal protection and a fair trial process are part of the glue which holds society together; we cannot allow unfair trials even if we thought someone is guilty.
The end can never justify the means in such cases.

The State have to prove a person or group is guilty using due process, following the letter and the spirit of the law exactly.

There can be no other way because allowing guilty people off on a technicality is an insult to victims of crime.

A COPFS spokesman said that Cadder meant that in many cases dealt with since then had "essential evidence" from police interviews lost and the Crown was unable to proceed with cases that would previously have gone to court.

This is the fault of The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, they conspired to deny justice then it backfired in their faces.

They should have addressed the problem but with the Appeals Court being so ineffective, they thought wrongly they could get away with it.

It was laziness, arrogance and stupidity on their part, they thought they were untouchable.

COPFS spokesman added:

"The Supreme Court ruling in the Cadder case has meant that in many cases essential evidence from admissions made by a suspect in police interview has been lost to the Crown. Given the nature of the crime of rape and attempted rape, admissions by the suspect were often essential to provide the necessary corroboration, especially of penetration. COPFS was therefore unable to proceed with cases that relied upon admissions made by the accused and which could have proceeded prior to the Cadder case."

If a person is willing to confess, the fact they have a solicitor shouldn’t change that, solicitors only advise their clients of their rights.

Rape should never be seen as a number games or that if a ‘quota’ isn’t reached that is somehow a failure.

Justice is and must be decided on evidence by using due process; there must be safeguards to ensure that both parties are treated correctly regardless of personal feelings on whether we think someone is guilty.

The Cadder ruling is an historic judgement by the UK Supreme Court which is a water shed moment in legal history.

It has caused problems, the chief one being that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and Police were forced to obey the law.

Not by choice but forced.

That is why so many people have no faith in such a corrupt system.

As someone with an interest in law, the Cadder ruling is a totally correct interpretation of the Human Rights Act and European Convention on Human Rights, it demonstrates classical legal judgment.

It is very unfortunately that the result of the Cadder case has led to a situation where possibly the guilty have benefited.

The Cadder ruling had to be passed.

If independence is to be achieved, the justice system needs to be massively overhauled to be brought up to date.

At present, we should be grateful to the UK Supreme Court and people like Lord Hope who in my mind has the same stature as Lord Denning for doing what needed to be done in the face of such ill judged opposition.

We sorely need such wisdom north of the border, only then can we have justice as a bedrock of a new Scottish society.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lord Lawson says the single currency of the Euro is ‘doomed’ and Cameron was right to use his veto, we await the train wreck on grassy knoll

Dear All

The European Union is a good idea; I am and always have been very much a supporter of it, right from the start.

Unfortunately, the European dream has turned in the wrong direction in a number of issues.

The single currency on the surface seemed like a good idea, but the problem is the idea was flawed.

Europe is too big, too diverse; one currency by its very nature demands one fiscal policy right through-out the entire eurozone.

That cannot happen as it involves a loss of sovereignty and leaves countries experiencing economic problems hamstrung.

Europe’s problems aren’t unique but the solution of austerity and trying to grow out of the problem by loading up more debt is wrong.

Debt growth is a killer.

Some people like former chancellor Lord Lawson believe that Europe will return to growth and prosperity much more quickly if the single currency is broken up.

That idea has merit but this action in itself won’t be enough, banking and its practices must be addressed.

On top of that new service models of local and national government need to be developed.

We hear a lot of talk about cost efficiencies by governments but these are counter productive, like peas on a plate, they keep getting moved around, somewhere in the chain, someone suffers through reduced services.

David Cameron has used Britain’s veto, which has put him at odds with the other 26 states; he is right and at the same time wrong.

The City of London is a problem, before the 2010 there was a lot of talk about tackling bankers, this turned out to be a lie, a complete lie, the Tories and Lib Dems dropped that dead donkey in the most expedient fashion.

Lawson said:

"I don't know how long it's going to take for Europe to return to growth but it will certainly take much longer if they don't accept the reality and take the necessary steps."


"Trying to go on and preserve the eurozone is a tremendous mistake."

Lawson has an excellent track record, when in 1989, he made one of the first speeches predicting the political and economic crises it would create.

Unfortunately, lesser beings pressed on with they know better and we have all seen how that has turned out.

Europe will have to address a large number of serious issues soon or later, one thing is certain is that pain is coming much more than we have seen before.

It will be a tsunami of political unrest coupled with a toxic mix of austerity and debt.

Lord Lawson says the Euro is doomed, it is an opinion held by many, with talk that Germany could return to its old currency.

And talk of gold backed currency returning, highly unlikely at present with such debt burdens effectively making that decades away.

The price of gold is sky high.

The route of success is default, from the ashes there lies the opportunity to rebuild and re-capitalise.

Greece should totally default, why they haven’t done so is a sign of weak political management.

Italy isn’t much better and Spain and Portugal are bubbling away with their own internal problems.

One interesting happening was the sale or lack of sales of German bonds just recently; we need to start raising the interest paid to people with savings to a decent return.

The 99% need to see growth rather than all money just being shipped across the table to the 1%.

David Cameron feels his veto buys breathing space for the UK, but if he doesn’t use his time wisely, he will be a spectator at the train wreck of the Euro becoming unstuck and it will ripple across Britain as well as Europe.

Its like being on ice, you know once the slide starts you are going down, and when it comes it will be like quick sliver.

And a plan is need for that moment.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Joyce Juszczak gets miracle drug as she nearly dies from potentially fatal blood clot, she loses a third of a kidney, Scottish Government shame

Dear All

The Scottish National Party should hang its head in shame for doing nothing for Joyce Juszczak.

The pensioner who was refused treatment for a life-threatening blood condition has suffered a potentially fatal blood clot.

Only now has she received a "miracle" drug, eculizumab to treat the disease when this should have been done right from the very start.

Unsurprisingly Joyce Juszczak's family say they are angry.

Health is seen as the flagship policy of the Scottish Government, that image now lies in tatters because it was obvious what needed to be done.

Joyce Juszczak had highly skilled medical professionals in her corner making the case but NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde where using ‘cover’ of others to deny her drugs.

The fatal blood clot has destroyed one-third of her kidney.

This isn’t an anonymous case Joyce Juszczak went to the Scottish Parliament to beg for help.

129 MSPs who claim to be ‘honoured’ to serve the public, meet there, but the reality is they are ‘honoured’ to serve themselves with a high salary, expenses and perks.

Her appearance which embarrassed the Scottish Parliament led to a review and her consultant submitted a new application for the drug to NHS GGC after her clot.

Application submitted Tuesday, drug approved on Friday afternoon.

After she got the miracle drug her family said that she already looked a lot better.

I blogged previously on this issue and yet again, George Laird was proven right.

What a great pity so many in my party, the SNP who ‘fight’ for Scotland were ‘missing in action’ on this issue, we know that they weren’t ‘KIA’; they are still picking up the taxpayer funded salaries.

They are the ‘team players’ who stood in silence while Joyce Juszczak suffered unbelievably pain and suffering, the 'sycophant generation'.

One of Mrs Juszczak's daughters, Beverley Hardie said:

"I think it is disgraceful she had to have a life-threatening clot before they would agree to fund this treatment. If the clot had gone to her brain, heart or lungs she probably wouldn't have survived."

Mrs Juszczak's consultant haematologist, Dr Henry Hambley said:

"I am over the moon she has now been started on eculizumab. As far as I am concerned that should have happened before now. Thankfully the infarct occurred in an organ where there is considerable redundancy. If it had been her brain then it would have been a completely different story."
She would have been dead.

The Joyce Juszczak case is now being used by Patient groups to highlight how Scotland is failing more than 350,000 people affected by a rare disease.

I attended a recent SNP meeting where the ‘hot’ topic under discussion was Council election 2012, among issues raised to campaign on, potholes and dog shit as issues of concern.

Who gives a shit about potholes and dog shit when the real issues aren’t being addressed?

Joyce Juszczak has lost one-third of her kidney.

Her problem was that she wasn’t important enough or rich enough or had the right kind of status to get help.

The SNP needs more people's champions and less of the gutless bastards in its ranks who are afraid to speak out.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Monday, December 12, 2011

Is it not time to sack Justice Sec Kenny MacAskill as anger grows over plans to abolish independent jail monitors, what happened to democracy?

Dear All

This is a story which is ironic and also not funny.

It also shows yet again that ‘justice’ under the leadership of Kenny MacAskill is the worst run portfolio in the SNP Government.

Scotland’s prison visiting committees have learned that there are plans to replace them with an advocacy service run by a government department.

This has been likened to Scotland being compared to a “South American dictatorship” but without the bananas.

There has been an SNP “consultation” in which there were 60 responses submitted to the Scottish Government.

59 in favour of keeping the present arrangement and 1 against, not surprising the negative response was from the Scottish Prison Service.

They are not keen on independent monitors and so it seems neither is the SNP Government.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has since written to members to explain they will be disbanded early next year.

Is it not time to sack Kenny MacAskill or demoted him to deputy justice sec, a post without any responsibility.

Justice under the SNP has failed to shine since MacAskill was appointed by Alex Salmond in 2007.

Ian Hamilton of Stone of Destiny fame has no respect for Kenny MacAskill and has openly blogged on his concerns how justice under MacAskill’s helm is going wrong.

The facts are that a Scottish Government review has suggested the committees played an important role in monitoring and providing independent analysis of prison and prisoner conditions.

SNP Ministers have decided to replace the committees with advocacy panels for reasons of “effectiveness”.

Which begs the question, if independence is wrong for reasons of “effectiveness”, does that also extend to independence being wrong because the SNP have already condemned separation as being ineffective?

And the independent monitor has had a major endorsement, when a official Russian delegation visited to find out more about them.

It seems that the Russians can recognise a good idea when it is staring them point blank in the face.

Tom Swinney, vice chairman of the Barlinnie Visiting Committee said:

“How can Scotland, unlike every other part of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, not have prison visiting committees and instead have no truly independent unfettered citizens checking what goes on in our prisons? This happens in totalitarian states such as Syria and was common in South American dictatorships”.

And in South American dictatorships, their leaders eventually get replaced when they become so out of touch.

Swinney added:

“I wonder how the present law can be changed without complaints from Amnesty, the UN or indeed the European Court of Human Rights. The provision of an advocacy service is welcome but it cannot hold the prison service to account or be independent while a contracted provider of services to SPS.”

This statement is 100%, Scotland is a corrupt country and with the removal of independent monitors, it seems that Scotland is going backwards not as the SNP tend to suggest forward.

A 2005 review concluded:

“Visiting committees continue to provide a unique community-based means of ensuring that the people detained on our behalves in prison are decently treated, regardless of what they have done. Visiting committees should be the community’s eyes and ears in the prison system... The group agreed that VCs should be retained but that there was a need to re-examine the ways in which they were currently functioning.”

With the SNP trying to promote more community engagement in health, this flies in the face of the SNP policy of community engagement.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said:

“In line with our ambition to build a prison service fit for the 21st century we will be replacing the Prison Visiting Committees with a dedicated independent prisoner advocacy service. We are very grateful to the members of the committees for their hard work and dedication over the years”.

A whole paragraph to say ‘fuck you’ seems overly excessive to me.

In an ominous sign the spokeswoman said:

“This new service will place great emphasis on supporting prisoners to address their offending behaviour and to contribute to reducing reoffending”.

It seems already that complaints are to be given lip service.

A rather sad day for Scotland when people are being frozen out of justice, it isn’t enough that justice is done, it has to be seen to be done.

It is time to sack Kenny MacAskill as Justice Minster, we can’t move forward to an independence vote when such doubts exist under his watch.

Alex Salmond said in his winning speech:

“The nation can be better, it wants to be better, and I will do all I can as First Minister to make it better. We have given ourselves the permission to be bold and we will govern fairly and wisely, with an eye to the future but a heart to forgive”.

It seems that Alex Salmond can deliver a carefully crafted speech to a highly polished standard what a great pity we can’t have 'fair and wise' in the prison service by retaining independent monitors.

We need substance over style and spin Alex.

Spin will only carry you so far, then comes the day people ask you direct questions to your face.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Poster takes George Laird to task on the nature of justice, a two tier justice system based on wealth can never work in a modern society

Dear unfair justice

You wrote:

“It seems an unfair punishment seizing cars. Shouldn't justice be meted out equally for the same crime?”

If every drunk drivers car is seized that is equal justice.

Are you seriously floating the idea that because someone is rich using your brand new BMW example that they get special treatment?

Why should they?

“How can seizing someone's new BMW that they've just started payments on be equal to seizing an old banger off someone?”

That is easy to answer in the eyes of the law a vehicle is just a vehicle, the fact that someone maybe starting payments is a moot point.

Although it maybe floated in a mitigation plea post guilty verdict, no decent lawyer would use it as an excuse during a trial because it asks the judge to be lenient because someone is wealthy.

And in the eyes of the law justice is supposed to be blind to such considerations.

No, the place to ‘beg’ would be under the Criminal Procedures (Scotland) Act 1995 section 196 (1).

Here is the section 196.


Sentence following guilty plea.

In determining what sentence to pass on, or what other disposal or order to make in relation to, an offender who has pled guilty to an offence, a court [F2shall] take into account—

the stage in the proceedings for the offence at which the offender indicated his intention to plead guilty, and

the circumstances in which that indication was given.

In passing sentence on an offender referred to in subsection (1) above, the court shall—

state whether, having taken account of the matters mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (b) of that subsection, the sentence imposed in respect of the offence is different from that which the court would otherwise have imposed; and
if it is not, state reasons why it is not.]

Where the court is passing sentence on an offender under section 205B(2) of this Act and that offender has pled guilty to the offence for which he is being so sentenced, the court may, after taking into account the matters mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) above, pass a sentence of less than seven years imprisonment or, as the case may be, detention but any such sentence shall not be of a term of imprisonment or period of detention of less than five years, two hundred and nineteen days.

Drink driving kills, we all know, if people are wealthy enough to be paying up a ‘beamer’, they can pay for a taxi or other mode of transport.

People make a pro active choice to drink drive; they should expect to feel the full force of the law when caught.

Given the choice of upsetting a drunk driver or telling a family that their husband, wife, mother, son or daughter is dead because of a drunk driver, who would you rather upset?

Justice should be fair, but that doesn’t mean it should be weak.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Mikhail Gorbachev calls for Russian election vote to be annulled as allegations of vote rigging emerge and monitors say election was ‘unfair’

Dear All

Although domestic matters tend to dominate politicians thinking at Westminster and Holyrood, there is an interesting develop happening in Russia.

Russia has been dominated by Vladimir Putin, the ‘Tony Blair’ of Russia, he has been the dominant force for several years, moving from President to Prime Minister to continue his hold on power.

But Putin hasn’t a great history; his United Russia Party is losing popularity and voters in droves.

Like all political parties, there comes a time when they peak and the people want change.

That is what is happening in Russia.

Allegations have emerged of voting fraud, something which was noticed during the Blair years.

The problem has led ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to say that the Russian authorities must annul the parliamentary vote results and hold a new election.

An extraordinary statement by Mikhail Gorbachev!

Thousands of security forces have taken to Moscow's streets in a bid to maintain order as people for a third day have caused unrest.

He said:

“More and more people are starting to believe that the election results are not fair. I believe that ignoring public opinion discredits the authorities and destabilises the situation. Authorities must admit that there have been numerous falsifications and ballot stuffing.”

However, it is unlikely that a new election will be held in such a poisonous atmosphere which could see a voter collapse for United Russia as swing voters change their mind.

So far, 250 protesters have been arrested in clashes in central Moscow.

To tighten security over 51,000 troops are now on high alert on the capital's streets over potential further trouble.

And in a bad sign, the Police have detained the leader of the opposition Yabloko party, Sergei Mitrokhin during protests in Triumphal Square, Moscow.

Putin has ordered that these protests should be quashed and Russians aren’t best known for diplomacy.

In an Arab Spring type scenario troops joined the fray to block off Triumphal Square last night as running battles take place between demonstrators, who were chanting 'Putin is a crook and a thief.'

Pro-government United Russia supporters have also rallied across town in Revolution Square near the Kremlin.

This is so much like we have seen in Arab and Western countries, were protestors against the government occupy a square only to be crushed by troops.

And typically among those arrested is the leader of the opposition Yabloko party, Sergei Mitrokhin, Boris Nemtsov, a liberal leader, prominent radical Eduard Limonov and Oleg Orlov, head of the human rights group Memorial.

This doesn’t look good when such prominent people are arrested; it is a throwback to the dark days of Stalin’s Russia.

Since the result of Sunday's election has been declared independent monitors have described it as 'unfair'.

Not a good sign and Putin’s United Russia is filled with ex KGB and ex FSB personnel.

Interior Ministry forces spokesman Colonel Vasily Panchenkov told the Interfax news agency:

“They (the troops) have just one aim to ensure the security of the citizens.”

The crowds began to gather again last night despite Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin saying any unsanctioned street protests had to be quashed.

The hardline leader's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said:

“The actions of those who hold unsanctioned demonstrations must be stopped in the appropriate way.”

Expect violence, troops are not equipped to handle civil unrest; they are a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

It is not surprising that Putin’s Party has dropped significantly since Putin has authoritarian streak and widespread official corruption is rife.

This is something which can happen in political parties when they think that their popularity will go unchallenged. The middle class elite start to allow discrimination and vote rigging even within their own ranks.

When it becomes public knowledge such parties lose public trust.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New drink driving idea, three times over the limit and your car could be seized, lets start talking, over the limit, car seized period, zero tolerance

Dear All

Drink driving kills.

Each year at this time various governments run an anti drink driving campaigns in order to remind people to be responsible and stay sober behind the wheel.

But we have continually seen that some motorists are still taking the chance, it is a gamble with people’s lives as well as their own.

Now, a new idea is to be tried motorists caught driving more than three times the legal alcohol limit or refusing a breath test will face having their car confiscated.

I think rather than set a limit of three times, we should moved to a system where anyone who is over the limit will get their vehicle confiscated.

This would encourage absolute zero as a strategy among drivers.

The "get-tough" measures were unveiled by police and prosecutors because as I say we generally run a ‘crackdown’ on drink-driving with increased roadside patrols over the festive period.

So, expect to be pulled over, it’s a pain but get that than the horrific accidents we see flagged up in the news.

Figures by the Scottish Government show that 155 vehicles have been seized and either destroyed or sold after the vehicle forfeiture scheme launched in 2009.

The scheme has powers under the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 to include those driving under the influence of drugs or motorists caught for a second time drink or drug-driving.

The new measures deal with drivers who refuse a roadside breath test and then refuse to undertake a further breath test or provide a urine or blood sample at a police station.

7563 people in Scotland were caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and every one of them should have had their vehicle seized and sold off.

This is an average of around 20 offenders every single day. That is a ridiculous amount of people dicing with others lives.

The forfeiture scheme has seen 702 repeat offenders caught since 2009. Clearly repeat offenders should be facing lifetime bans from driving without exception.

Kenny MacAskill, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, said the new measures were intended to demonstrate a zero-tolerance approach to drink-driving.

If we are going to have zero tolerance then it is a bit of a mockery to set a three times over the limit means getting your vehicle seized. Better to be blunt, over the limit lose your vehicle, no exceptions.

He said:

"The system to catch those who break the law is working well. This year, over 7500 drunk or drugged drivers have lost their licence and been taken off our roads. Thirty deaths caused by drink or drug-driving each year is thirty too many, and it will be tolerated no longer. We will continue to lobby the UK Government for powers to reduce the drink-drive limit and work towards eradicating this problem once and for all."

Although Police stop checks do catch people, there are still a number of people who aren’t caught and there is any data on those people unfortunately as they are unlikely to confess.

Chief Constable Justine Curran, vice-president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos), said:

"In Scotland we are on patrol 24 hours a day, every day of the year, catching those who pose a threat to our safety. Last year, 7563 people in Scotland were caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which is an average of around 20 offenders every day.

"It is staggering that so many people are willing to risk their lives and the lives of others. From today, over the festive campaign, we will be increasing our road patrols, targeting those who continue to drive under the influence of drink or drugs.

"This year's campaign marks another extension to the vehicle forfeiture scheme. From today, if we discover through our inquiries that an offender is three times the legal limit or more, we will request that the court gives consideration to seizing and forfeiting the offender's vehicle.

"This means that on conviction the vehicle will be sold or destroyed."

Ms. Curran should be lobbying for a much lower figure, because drunk drivers may feel that they have a cushion, we shouldn’t allow such a mentality to develop.

So, the message to people as always is don’t drink and drive, use a taxi, jump a bus or train or get a designated driver and stay safe.

Everyone is entitled to a happy xmas and a safe one.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Monday, December 5, 2011

Open letter to SNP List MSP Joan McAlpine; why isn’t 2,000 plus years religious faith good enough for Alex Salmond and the Scottish Government?

Dear Ms. McAlpine

I read some comments made by you on another blog and would like to address some of your points.

“given that the SNP government is consulting on equal marriage, that the FM has said he supports equal marriage and his deputy Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear that the cabinet is also inclined to support it”.

This would tend to strongly suggest the ‘consultation’ is therefore a sham because already both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon and presumably the rest of the Cabinet have already decided.

What new information would make them change their mind since they don’t seem to regard faith and religious beliefs as valid enough?

I would suggest none.

Do Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon support the “rights” of gay Muslims to marry in Glasgow Central Mosque?

I don’t know.

I hear talk of ‘equal’ marriage, but some politicians are loathed to say they support gay religious marriage and therefore fall back on; this is a matter of conscience.

“Polls show that Scottish people support it because most Scottish people, whatever their background, will have friends and family who are gay”.

The real issue however is whether the Catholic, Protestant and Muslim organisations will allow this to happen within their churches and mosques; they have said they will not.

So, effectively, it is a ‘right’ that cannot be accessed except by people unless they use the minor religious groups such as Quakers etc.

“Scotland has changed and moved forward, just as many other countrys have”.

What do you mean by ‘change’ and well done in sticking the latest SNP tag line in, ‘forward’, this country is still deeply corrupt.

7 Appeal Court judges in the Cadder Case sitting in Edinburgh proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt by ‘siding’ with the Crown Office.

A halfwit could see the merits of the Cadder Case.

In a political correct culture such as ours, if a person speaks out against the ‘doctrine’ they can be branded as bigots or worse, so how is that change?

Would you say that your employee and wife of Muslim MSP Humza Yousaf, Gail Lythgoe was moving ‘forward’ when she smeared and defamed the Labour MP Ian Davidson just recently by saying he had a ‘history of bullying women’?

In writing this article, I am grateful for one thing, she established the principle in the public domain that SNP Members can comment in a private capacity.

It is unsurprising that when someone is faced with being asked such a loaded question on gay marriage, they take the line of least resistance and say yes.

If the question was phrased differently, we could see an entirely different answer.

For example, ‘Do you believe that religious organisations and personnel should be forced against their will to do something contrary to their beliefs?’

And what do we call it when someone is forced to do something against their will?

We call it being victimised.

But what we are really talking about is a minority trying to force their views on religious organisations such as the Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths when they have clearly expressed their opinion.

The word is no.

And no means no!

I know I keep repeating this point, but some people don’t understand the word ‘no’ so it has to be repeatedly drummed into them.

The head of the Catholic Church, the Pope isn’t going to allow this, so in the event this becomes law, it is a pyrrhic victory.

A law that requires consent by a third party because it needs others to make a pro active choice is a nonsense, and isn’t even a human right. You may make it legal on paper but as to being a human right, many will suggest it still isn’t.

But don’t let that stop you and others spinning this by using language that this is a ‘right’ or a ‘victory’ regarding the Catholic, Protestant and Muslim gay community.

They won nothing.

I will support gay civil marriage because that is an equality issue, all citizens are entitled to the same provisions and services provided by the State.

I will not support trying to force religious organisations against their will to have the views of others forced on them.

There is no human right to do that.

Nothing is a human right if it tramples on the human rights of others; unfortunately in the SNP so many people I meet don’t understand such a basic concept.

Recently I had to explain to a party member that the Scottish Government doesn’t have human rights because it is an institution. This was in regard to the UK Supreme Court upholding the human rights of ordinary people to take their cases to the Supreme Court on matters relating to dispute over miscarriages of justice based on their Article Six rights.

Where was Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon’s and the rest of the SNP Cabinet’s outrage on that?

The sound of silence was deafening and embarrassing on the rights of the accused, it is not enough that justice is done; it must be seen to be done.

And if that means we go the extra mile, we do so; our citizens should have total confidence in the justice system and government.

In ‘defending’ the Scottish legal system, the upshot of that was an attempt by the Crown Office and Kenny MacAskill to deny ordinary people access to justice who felt they have a legitimate grievance regarding the trial.

It is not the job of the Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill to ‘side’ with the Crown Office that is how miscarriages of justice occur and are covered up, he should be impartial or what is the point of having such a position.

Didn't anyone learn the lessons of the Shirley McKie case?

Innocent until proven guilty until every avenue of due process is exhausted exists for good reason.

And that is the only way to look at that issue, not whether the Crown Office is being inconvenienced by being forced to follow the law.

I would agree with you that Gordon Wilson and others haven’t put their case properly but it doesn’t change the fact, they are entitled to their strong held religious beliefs.

Because that is a human right!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Friday, December 2, 2011

Labour candidates focus on Alex Salmond at their hustings, he isn’t their ‘problem’, the problem is credibility, poor work ethnic and no policies

Dear All

It seems that the Scottish Labour leadership contest is turning into a very negative affair.

Rather than the contenders spelling out their policies and their vision, they seem to be pre-occupied with the SNP and Alex Salmond.

Ken Macintosh fired off a broadside at a hustings meeting in Glasgow that the First Minister’s brand of politics was “personal, condescending, sneering” and demeaned the office.

He also went on to say, that the next Scottish Labour leader must not fall into the same trap as their predecessor Iain Gray.

Saying that although Iain Gray was “a very intelligent articulate man”, he had ended up “playing Salmond’s game and trading insults across the chamber”.

It seems that Macintosh is a little out of his depth in the grey matter stakes, since Gray has spin doctors and a week to craft questions, exactly the same as Wendy Alexander had and we all remember the comedy of her asking daft questions and get it all wrong.

Alexander was supposed to have a brain the size of a planet, more like dust particle after her performances.

So, Labour, Macintosh says needs a new strategy to take on Alex Salmond if they are to be successful; this is his pitch to party members which is obvious.

Macintosh added:

“All the people heard was two politicians shouting at each other and so the Labour message was lost. Iain’s personality was lost.”

Labour’s problem was 4 years of doing nothing, producing nothing and relying on cheap PR gimmicks and stunts like their phoney knife crime policy.

Anyone seen a private members bill from them?

No, and we probably never will, it was an election gimmick to generate fear and therefore votes.

Ken Macintosh warned:

“We will not beat Salmond by trying to out Salmond him … We have to go round him and over him to the people of Scotland. We have to offer a contrast. We have to talk about what we believe. We have to go round him, by him, over him, straight to the people of Scotland.”

This is a strategy that I used to teach circa 15 years ago at university when I was a fitness coach, but first you have to recognise the moment in time when the problem will occur. Labour it seemed ran straight up to the ‘brick wall’ and thought if they hit their face off it often enough, that would work, it didn’t.

Question is, this was happening week in week out and no one had the brains to say stop.

Pollok MSP Johann Lamont who is said to be the frontrunner told the hustings the key to success was to reach out beyond the party’s core vote.

Johann Lamont isn’t Einstein by any means, she is an empty vessel, someone who needs steered, if elected she should go out and employ someone to do ‘her’ thinking for her.

Preferably brilliant!

Her pitch during the hustings was Labour should not take on Salmond and the “Janus” face of nationalists “not simply by opposing him but by offering an alternative, positive vision of a Scotland driven by equality and social justice”.

This is somewhat right, but she is also somewhat wrong, the best campaigns are a mixture of both positive and negative campaigning with a human touch, politics is a serious business by the SNP used ‘comedy’ to show confidence.

Something I also was pushing to certain people in the party.

Ms Lamont added:

“We need policies which attract people but we also need policies which chime with their priorities whether it’s tackling youth unemployment or growing the economy. We must listen, to learn, to understand what their concerns are and rebuild their trust in us. We need a unity of purpose. If we are to serve Scotland again, we must reaffirm our values and persuade people Labour is in their interests.”

This is rhetoric, she doesn’t have any ideas, if she did we would have heard of them by now, she is part of Labour’s problem, not a solution.

The outsider Glasgow South MP Mr Harris, the only Westminster politician standing, said:

“We’re seen as delivering devolution for our own short-term political tactics to wrongfoot the nationalists. For some people that was the motivation but it was an appalling motivation. We have to reassert our commitment to devolution and to a whole range of principles so when people hear us speaking they know, even if they disagree with us, we are telling the truth.”

You can do more damage with the truth than lies and truth burns a last impression on the mind, lies have no place in politics, it is like putting a sticking plaster on a burst pipe, you may secure a moment’s respite but it doesn’t solve the problem.

The Council elections allow the Labour Party the chance to reconnect with the public, but they need a new message and a new attitude, at the Glasgow Labour Council of shame, there has been a clear out and rightly so.

But the new Councillors need to do more than their previous colleagues, they need to work because if Labour rebuild they have to do so from the bottom up, not top down.

Trust is an issue, people lost trust in Labour when they took the people for granted, it was arrogance and stupidity that saw them lose the election, they weren’t credible, the SNP could point to various policies such as freezes in council tax and prescriptions.

However, there is a new type of politics that both Labour and the SNP will have to address because they will be forced to, austerity politics.

Explaining pain and being creative in local government that is the new political battlefield were politics will be played on, cuts and service reduction will see politicians under severe pressure from the public.

Popularity comes and goes, competence is another animal entirely and that wins elections and voters.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Britain heads towards double dip recession as public anger against politicians grows, austerity hasn’t even started yet, there is much worst to come

Dear All

For some considerable time, I have been blogging away that the UK's economy will slip back into a double dip recession.

Nothing will stop that happening under the current situation and structures in Britain.

Britain is not set up for recovery, already negative growth is happening this quarter and although xmas is nearly here, it will be light relief to future quarters of possible negative growth.

Effectively we need to stop trying to grow debt, because we are digging a bigger hole that soon will be impossible to climb out of.

What do we need?

We need shrinkage of the population.

This brings me onto another issue which I blog on, the internal immigration policy of the EU.

There isn’t one, and there should be, like a ship, Europe is being tilted in rough seas as too many people have climbed on HMS Britain from within Europe and beyond. It is in the European sense a huge measure because the treaty needs revisited and upgraded. When Europe was just a ‘Common Market’ there wasn’t a problem and the ‘founding fathers’ never thought ahead.

Like the Titanic, people thought Europe would be unsinkable, but it is seriously holed below the water line. To refloat it, we need to get people off, however that wouldn’t stop the problem.

The problem is debt and everything that falls from that like austerity which is tearing the weaker countries apart.

Greece is a prime example how it all went sideways and expect this to spread, austerity is a short term measure which in theory allows breathing space.

The OECD is predicting negative growth in the coming months, however this will run for at least 5 years possibly to nearly a decade, but to start again, everything has to fall.

Keeping the status quo is unsustainable and doomed to failure. Riots across Europe are a symptom of the wider problem.

A 'double-dip' recession will be accompanied by even higher unemployment figures, and civil unrest will led to further social problems as society in this case governments try to win support which will not be forthcoming from the people.

We might see the rise of smaller political parties making a comeback; someone has to present not just a vision but a future and road map of how we will get there. That means pain because things have to get worse before they can get better.

It will also require creative thinkers of how to get more for less, and that means replacing out dated service models in the public sector.

George Osborne will make an Autumn Statement; this is to announce more austerity to shore up the economy. He says there is no 'quick fix' for the economy and he right but by the same token, the Tories back tracked on tackling the banks and the people who run them.

That is why there can be no quick fix, in fact the only fix is there is worse to come; he hasn’t a plan for growth.

And he will not modify his deficit reduction plans.

We haven’t seen the real scale of the cuts.

Anyway the think tank OECD said the UK's GDP will shrink in the final quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.

This is the first time it has predicted a double-dip recession for the UK but it was always doing to be a double dip recession.

Anyone who thought it was a return to growth was bonkers. The markets are collapsing under fraudulent trading in commodities and derivatives.

Everyone is looking for the next big bubble to try and get rich quick; the housing market is artificially high by at least 40%.

Now, it is crashing and pricing people out of the chance to own a home.

David Cameron recently spoke of the ‘dream’ that people should have the chance to own their own place, expect to see more repossessions sky rocket over the next few years. There is no such thing as a bargain in housing.

The OECD also said unemployment, which currently stands at 8.3% will hit 9% in 2013. That is a figure which is generous as Councils start their cut backs and shedding of staff and funding of the voluntary sector gets cut. Look at your local high street, shops closing and being replaced with charity shops. In the heart of Glasgow City Centre, there are many charity shops a disproportionate number in prime locations.

Another disastrous piece of nonsense is the QE programme which is printing money backed by nothing effectively lowering the value of people’s savings.

This is being done to ‘help’ businesses via the banks as Osborne announces a programme of 'credit easing.

There is no such thing as ‘free money’, sooner or later it must be paid back and plus the interest.

And the idea of bringing forward future money for spending in government may be useful but again, it is short term thinking, sooner or later, that debt has to be serviced add to it all the other government debt, it is again unsustainable.

Inflation is sitting at 5.6% and people are seeing their take home pay cut by freezes and contracts being ‘adjusted’ to make them pay more for their pension contributions. With less money people will not spend, less money for the government in receipts and therefore money to spend leading to more austerity. That in turn will lead to government putting up fuel and everything else then also goes up.

It is a vicious cycle.

I favour measures such as the introduction of a ‘Tobin’ tax on financial transactions introduced in Scotland, along with radical public service overhaul towards public service with more commercialisation in order to build up City Sovereign Funds, my idea for local government to be more viable and accountable.

The scale of the problem is huge, perhaps that is why no one is able to fully grasp what really needs to be done; it requires a lot of work, a lot of pain and a lot of unpleasant talk and in some cases removal of people from positions of authority.

We need a new direction of travel as 3 million angry public sector workers took to the streets yesterday to complain over Westminster’s pension grab.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Gordon Wilson and Cardinal O’Brien say gay marriage may result in a backlash and ‘is risk to independence win’, how much do the SNP want independence?

Dear All

In politics, it is advisable to try and have a broad appeal.

However, like all strategies, there are drawbacks, all things to all men usually means being relevant to none.

In Scotland there are certain things that politicians should stay clear of, because in picking a side usually means alienating others.

Former SNP leader Gordon Wilson has strong views on the issue of gay marriage that is his right of freedom of speech and expression.

He has accused the Scottish Government of endangering victory in the independence referendum because of the gay marriage issue.

However, he should remember that gay civil marriage isn’t a threat to faith organisations, but he is right to protest because part of the possible proposed legislation relates to gay marriage being held in churches if they so choose.

This isn’t something that the Catholic, Protestant and Muslim communities are calling for, therefore the Scottish Government rather than trying to insert this part should drop it.

In trying to play both sides against the middle, the SNP thinks it will keep onboard both the gay community and religious community.

That won’t happen, if someone thought they were being clever in the SNP by charting this course, they are wrong.

A case can be made for civil gay marriage on equality grounds but not religious grounds.

This is because the ‘State’ can force people working for it by threat of sacking them, to conduct civil gay marriage, that tactic cannot be used on religious organisations.

Gordon Wilson has been speaking alongside Cardinal Keith O’Brien and senior Kirk figure Ann Allen at a rally at Holyrood to mark the launch of Scotland For Marriage – an interfaith pressure group.

The group’s aims are resist proposals to re-define marriage to open it up to gay and lesbian couples.

Mr. Wilson told the rally of around 150 supporters outside the Scottish Parliament that in six years there had been only 3300 civil partnerships, compared to 175,000 weddings.

This isn’t an argument I would use, the argument is faith.

He said:

“Yet on this preposterously tiny minority, an arrogant gay rights lobby thinks to establish another equality beachhead, regardless of whether this will be destructive of society. If the Scottish Government wants the Scottish people to vote for independence in a referendum, why is it going out of its way to alienate so many Scots in the Christian and Muslim communities?”

Civil gay marriage wouldn’t be destructive for society because reason and logic could be used to argue that all citizens are entitled to the same equalities that the State provides.

He does have a point when he said:

“Independence is far too important to be jeopardized by this kind of peripheral issue. You don’t want to alienate people on the eve of an important referendum when every vote will count.”

He also stated that opinion polls may back same-sex marriage but that support was shallow, and it raises questions about whether the people asked were actually religious themselves.

And those opposed had far stronger feelings on this issue, while I will fully support to gay civil marriage but I will not engage in a social engineering experiment because some people want to force their views on others.

There isn’t a human right to force your views on others, that’s fascism.

Cardinal O’Brien also agrees with me by saying:

“The proposal represents a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right, and I know I speak for many people of Scotland when I say that”.

He added:

“Marriage has certainly been damaged and undermined over the course of a generation. Yet marriage has always existed in order to bring men and women together so that children born of those unions will have a mother and a father. If the Scottish Government attempt to demolish a universally recognised human right they will have forfeited the trust which the nation, including peoples of all faith and no faith, have placed in them, and their intolerance will shame Scotland in the eyes of the world.”

The Scottish Government launched a consultation in September asking if marriage in Scotland should be allowed for gay people through a civil or religious ceremony.

They got that completely wrong; they should have left it as should gay people be allowed to go through civil marriage ceremony.

And to be fair, this should never have been a consultation, it is a matter of equality regarding the civil aspect, which doesn’t need consultation.

We have a consultation because of the religious aspect to this policy.

The Catholic Church claims responses to the consultation are running two-to-one against.

Ms Allen, former convener of the Church of Scotland’s Board of Social Responsibility, said that where gay marriage had been legalised this had been followed by other demands such as polygamy.

Polygamy is about having more than one wife or husband in a marriage.

She added:

“Is this the kind of scenario we want in a modern Scotland?”

In a modern Scotland, I would hope that she back gay civil marriage but she has a different perspective on that.

She also added a point about morality when she said do we want:

“A continual change of the moral and legal goalposts?”

Which raises the question of what are the bedrocks on which Scottish Society is supposed to be based on?

If SNP Ministers force this through against the wishes of the religious community, it could possibly affect the referendum.

Alex Salmond said something after winning the Holyrood election about how the SNP will guard the public’s trust carefully; well this is a major violation of trust.

If legislation comes out of the consultation then the entire proposal as it relates to religious organisations should be dropped.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:

“I am very disappointed that senior and respected figures like Cardinal O’Brien and Gordon Wilson could be so intolerant. We urge the First Minister to stand firm against this campaign. If two people want to get married and a church wants to conduct the service why should anyone stop them? Liberal Democrats want a tolerant and fair society and equal marriage is a key part of that.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is wrong and clearly has warped judgment. Does he think people in churches operate like fast food franchises where people get to do what they like?

Is he really that stupid?

If a Priest conducted a gay marriage in a Catholic Church, he would be removed immediately by church authorities.

The Catholic Church, Church of Scotland and Mosques aren’t going to do this and if politicians want the gay vote then they should tell the gay community that they cannot deliver gay religious marriage because it is not within their province to do so.

On this issue both sides appear to be exercising overkill on their demands, the compromise is gay civil marriage.

It is not the job of politicians to piss on other people’s religious beliefs for votes under the guise of equality and human rights.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University