Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Celtic supporter and Catholic QC Paul McBride warns of increased bigotry if Scotland splits from UK, sheer tripe uttered to promote Neil Lennon book

Dear All

Paul McBride is a QC, one of Scotland's most high-profile lawyers.

He is also a TV pundit on occasion, appearing on Newsnight Scotland and other programmes giving his views on a range of topics.

His latest view is that sectarianism could "blossom" in an independent Scotland without outside influences from the rest of the UK.

That is complete and utter vacuous nonsense.

Paul McBride, QC, belief is that independence could lead to "very serious consequences" for Catholics in Scotland.

This post isn’t easy to write because of the nature of his statement, it is one of those opinions that someone blurts out that makes you turn your head.

He also thinks that the Catholic community could have "legitimate concerns" about the SNP's flagship policy.

In an independent Scotland, people will have the same rights under law that they enjoy at present.

Another point is that the SNP Code of Conduct ensures that members sign up to supporting equality in civic life.

McBride’s comments were trotted out during an interview with former MP George Galloway.

Galloway stood on the Glasgow Holyrood list and bombed.

Anyway, McBride’s views have been ridiculed by a Labour MSP who described them as "cack-handed".

Labour MSP Michael McMahon, a Catholic who opposes independence to the hilt, said Mr McBride's comments were "not very well thought out".

He added:

"I believe that in the past, there was a genuine concern in the Catholic community about independence. About 15 or 20 years ago, you could have understood or identified with this, but I don't believe you can say that now."

He went on:

"If it is an attempt to appeal to Scottish Catholics not to vote for independence, then it's a very cack-handed strategy and is not very well thought out at all. As a Catholic, my fears about independence are not in this regard but are more about how Scotland would be weaker economically, socially and politically under independence."

This seems a rather pathetic attempt to persuade Catholic voters to reject independence in the forthcoming referendum promised by the SNP or a rather crude PR stunt to promote George Galloway’s book, Open Season: The Neil Lennon Story.

The Neil Lennon Story chronicles the campaign waged against the football manager last season when he was the victim of death threats and letter bombs.

McBride compared death threats towards Neil Lennon to terrorist actions and internet child paedophilia.

Paul McBride also received similar threats, since 2010, McBride has represented Celtic F.C. on a number of legal and disciplinary matters.

People may think that his association to Celtic FC rather than his religion made him a target.

So, what is McBride saying?

In the book, Mr McBride says:

"I think there are legitimate concerns on the part of Scotland's Catholic community that if Scotland were ever to become independent, and these prejudices remained as deep and wide as they evidently are, it could result in very serious consequences when it comes to social cohesion and related matters. We must not delude ourselves that this isn't the most serious social issue in the country today. If we do, if we continue to treat it with the collective myopia it has been traditionally treated with, we will only succeed in failing future generations."

Given the incidents all happened under the unionist watch, his argument is sheer tripe.

In fact, people could use it as an argument the other way for independence.

Getting in on the act, Patrick Reilly, formerly professor of English literature at the human rights abusing Glasgow University said:

"I know that some people feel safer being part of the UK, as they feel that England is more tolerant towards them than an independent Scotland might be”.

Riots in England and no riots in Scotland.

Reilly added:

“I can see why some people would take the view that Scotland would be more divided under independence, as some people might be concerned that the discrimination that used to exist against Catholics over jobs and housing could return."

Maybe Reilly isn’t aware of human rights and various equality laws that have passed to prevent such discrimination.

The book, Open Season: The Neil Lennon Story will be available for sale at some point; I would therefore suggest if you are desperate for nasty fiction about an independent Scotland, hang on and wait till it goes in the 50p bargain bucket section at your local supermarket.

Or you could take the view that this type of sheer trash isn’t worthy of your spending a penny on it.

Paul McBride QC is reported going to be representing former Downing Street press chief Andy Coulson in the ongoing investigation into phone hacking. Previously he represented Gail Sheridan against the Crown over allegations that appeared in the News of the World under Coulson’s editorship regarding her husband Tommy Sheridan.

And also in the past, McBride made a high-profile defection from the Scottish Labour Party to the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

From a party dying on its knees, he went to one already dead.

In April 2011, McBride branded the SFA "the laughing stock of world football", and "not merely dysfunctional and dishonest, but biased". This statement came after an SFA disciplinary hearing involving three members of Rangers staff. McBride later apologised for the remarks after the SFA had threatened legal action and had made a formal complaint to the Faculty of Advocates.

Can’t say he is someone that I have any time for, the Labour MSP Michael McMahon was right, "not very well thought out".

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Electoral Commission will not examine payments to Tory spin doctor Andy Coulson, it seems whoever is in power; the Commission will not act against

Dear All

Britain is a corrupt country.

The way it operates would put a banana republic to shame, institutions which are supposed to act as regulators are nothing of the kind, the act like blocking agents ensure that wrong doing or potential wrong doing by the political and social elite is buried.

There are numerous examples like the Electoral Commission failing to investigate Wendy Alexander when Labour MSP Group leader at Holyrood over the donations scandal which engulfed her.

Labour Government at Westminster, no action taken.

The latest cover up by the Electoral Commission bosses is their refusal not open an investigation into payments made to David Cameron’s former spin doctor Andy Coulson by his former employer News International.

Tory Government at Westminster, no action taken.

Do you see a pattern emerging?

Whoever the government of the day appears to be, they seem to automatically get a pass.

The Electoral Commission relies on the government for funding and their authority to operate.

Smaller parties and individuals not having the right political or social connections don’t escape such scrutiny.

Andy Coulson left the News of the World after the phone-hacking scandal engulfed the now-defunct tabloid and they became the news instead of reporting it.

His departure was supposed to signal the end of the affair which at the time was claimed to be the work of a single rogue reporter, in this case Clive Goodman, the Royal editor.

Turns out it was the tip of the iceberg which was to see the 168 year old paper being shut down as panic ensued in the Murdoch Empire.

When Coulson left, he continued to receive payments after quitting as News of the World editor.

It is said that the money wasn’t declared as Coulson was hired by the Tories in July 2007 on a reported salary of £275,000.

David Cameron said of Coulson that everyone deserves a ‘second chance’ in life.

Last week we learn that for several months after he started his new job as the chief Tory spin doctor, he was still receiving instalments of money as full settlement of his two-year contract.

So, he resigns and he still gets paid.
The Electoral Commission, the watchdog with no teeth or appetite to go after their new political masters said there was “no evidence” to suggest strict rules relating to political party finances had been breached.

It would seem that questions over conflict of interest need addressed.

Coulson continued to work for David Cameron in Downing Street as No 10’s communications chief until he quit in January when the sheer volume of what had transpired at the News of the World broke.

Cameron was forced to let his friend go.

Labour MP Tom Watson picking over this story wrote to the commission questioning whether the severance payments effectively part-funded Mr Coulson’s salary.

An Electoral Commission spokeswoman said:

“There is no evidence to suggest that there has been a breach.”

It seems that relevant questions which should have been asked by the Tories regarding Coulson weren’t asked as they should have been.

Again this exposes David Cameron for having committed another serious error of judgement.

The list is growing.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lockerbie bomber Al-Megrahi found 'close to death' at his home in Tripoli, it is time to leave him to die in peace for the sake of his family

Dear All

The papers are full of the hunt for Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.

It turns out that he hasn’t fled.

Tracked down by a CNN TV crew at his home in Tripoli, so US and UK Special Forces are out of luck.

No manhunt.

Many people believe al-Megrahi should now be left to die in peace, Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has publicly said.

I have to agree, there is no point in a witch hunt; he has been processed by the Scottish Justice System and found guilty.

He has terminal cancer, prostate cancer an unpleasant way to die.

Alex Salmond said it was time to lay to rest the "ridiculous" conspiracy theories around Megrahi, they don’t serve any purpose.

If a CNN TV crew can find him, he isn’t on the run.

His family has told a CNN TV crew he is close to death and falling in and out of a coma.

Medical services in Libya are at breaking point with hospitals over flowing with wounded.

Should Megrahi be extradited back to Scotland?

I would say no, what’s the point, kinder to let him die with his family.

Alex Salmond said:

"The opinion of many, many people is that it might be time as far as Mr Megrahi is concerned to draw a line under that part of the Lockerbie issue and perhaps allow this man now to die in peace.

He added:

"We can finally lay to rest the ridiculous conspiracy theory... that somehow Mr Megrahi was not dying of prostate cancer. You wouldn't have to be a medical expert to realise that this man is dying, is terminally ill, as we've always said."

Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton takes a different view by saying:

“He served roughly two weeks in prison for every person he killed. Two weeks per murder. That is not nearly enough”

If Megrahi wasn’t ill, he wouldn’t be in Libya, he would still be sitting in a Scottish prison, unlike the Labour Party, the SNP Government weren’t doing a ‘deal in the desert’ for oil.

That was all Tony Blair.

Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds but technically remains a Scottish prisoner after being released on licence.

He has managed to get an extra two years of life.

Libyan rebel leaders surprisingly have said they do not intend to allow his extradition which is a shot across the bows to both the UK and US Governments.

CNN reported on Sunday that Megrahi was "comatose" and "near death... surviving on oxygen and an intravenous drip" and not eating.

Reporter Nic Robertson said he last saw Megrahi two years ago and described his appearance now as "much iller, much sicker, his face is sunken... just a shell of the man he was".

It seems that as Libya is reborn, the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi will not live to see it.

Looking at his picture, do we really want revenge on what is now left of him?

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Cosla Chief Pat Watters criticises choice of police summit speakers at International Policing Summit, bias towards national force, live in the future

Dear All

I blogged on how internally in Scotland there are law enforcement agencies and others which operate on a national basis.

But the idea of a Scottish National Police Force still upsets many, why, well I consider them trying to protect vested interests.

The status quo is untenable, Scotland is a small country in much the same way as Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Northern Ireland and Norway.

Apparently they have the brains and ability to operate a national service but in the eyes of the few, Scotland is just incapable.

They feel that everything has to be kept local.

That argument doesn’t stand up because the biggest force in Scotland is Strathclyde Police, their area is massive.

Anyone saying that this force should be broken up to be more localised?

No, not anyone, not even the anti national force brigade have ever floated that idea across the table.

The latest gripe to come out is the Scottish Government being accused of bias over its choice of speakers for the International Policing Summit.

The event will have a number of delegates from the countries listed above who will talk about their experiences of police reform.

Instead of being at the forefront of Police Reform we are playing catch up with other countries, money, the cuts of budgets focused minds, but more should be made of the operational benefits.

As well as delegates, the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill will also speak and he will put the case for the new force.

Labour dominated Cosla, the umbrella body representing local authorities apparently don’t like the line up of speakers citing their belief that they have been selected to fit the option of introducing a single police force in Scotland.

In contrast, last week saw Cosla’s own event on policing, it was very much the anti national force lovefest with senior police officers and local government officials discussed the Government’s reform proposals.

And not liken it.

The Scottish Government will go forward with the new single force despite high-profile complaints from serving officers and local authorities because it is in the best interests of the public.

We need to protect front line police officer numbers to ensure the safety of our communities; we can’t do that without reform, real reform not smoke and mirrors window dressing.

This isn’t about changing a logo or cap badge.

The new national force when Scotland becomes independent should also go forward and take over the duties of the UK Border Agency in Scotland.

However, the issuing of visas etc should be part of whatever becomes the equivalent of the UK Home Office.

Cosla president Pat Watters said:

“At their event, in the Government’s own words, ‘we will hear from a variety of countries with national police services so we can understand how this might work in Scotland’. Two things occur to me in relation to this. Firstly, shouldn’t we know it would work in Scotland before we make the decision? Secondly, why is the Government unwilling to listen to any examples from abroad of strong regional policing? The Government’s unwillingness to listen is both dispiriting and disappointing. It seems that the Government does believe that it has a monopoly on wisdom after all.”

Pat Watters simply doesn’t get it; a decision has been made, it is for the Government to now take this forward.

The idea of a single force was outlined in a Government proposal on the future of the police on January 12th.

I put forward this idea on the 4th of September 2010 at the SNP National Asembly, two months later the Labour Party in Scotland in the form of MSP Iain Gray came out in favour.

The Tories are also onboard, only the Lib Dems nationally are out of step.

A Scottish Government spokesman said:

“This government has consulted widely and engaged regularly with police, local authorities and all other interested parties on the best way forward for reform, and will continue to do so. Hearing from experts in other countries is an important part of this process and exactly the sort of considered, open debate we should be having. Strong, local democratic accountability will be at the heart of new police services in Scotland.”

The main objectors seem to be Labour Councillors who sit on the local police boards as convenors; they are worried that reform will probably see their extra income vanish.

For example, Labour Councillor Stephen Curran gets an extra £20k on top of his councillor salary as convenor of Strathclyde Police.

So, you can see why some people in his situation are keen for the status quo to continue.

But the future is already written, we need a national force, I have always believed that and always will.

We are changing more than a logo and cap badge here.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Friday, August 26, 2011

419 scammers are one of the problems with the internet, one targets George Laird email account, if you want to yank their chain, feel free!

Dear All

It’s Friday, a time when grown men and women wait for the 5 o’clock bell before the weekend kicks off.

But let us not forget wickedness!

I got this email below from a 419 scammer.

So, here it is in full below, if anyone wants to yank his chain and use up his computer time asking daft questions then please feel free, you will be doing a public service.

“From: Barr. Benson Smith (ES.Q)

Dear Sir,

Before proceeding, i want to plead that If this project acquaintance offends your moral values, please do accept my sincere apology.

As a matter of urgency, A client of mine Mr. Bowlin whom here shall be referred to as my client, Passed-on as a result of health reasons on November 2004.

His ill health was due to the death of all the members of his family in the Gulf Air Flight Crashes in Persian Gulf near Bahrain Aired August 23, 2000 -2:50 p.m. ET as reported in Cnn:/0008/23/bn.08.html

I have reached you to assist in distributing the capital deposit left behind by my client before it is confiscated or declared unserviceable by the institution where this deposit valued at Seventeen Million is lodged.

This institution has issued me a notice to contact the successor, or the deposit will be confiscated. My intention to contacting you is to seek your consent to present you as the rightful successor of my late client, so that the proceeds can be paid to you. Then we can share the amount on a mutually agreed-upon percentage.

All paper works to justify this project as my client's successor will be secured gradually and forwarded to you, All that is needed of you is honesty to enable us see this project through. This will be concluded under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law.

Please contact me at once to indicate your interest.

Reply me through this my most private
Barr. Benson Smith (ES.Q)

Clearly a scammer using a Russian email account, these people send thousands out so, the more people who reply and ask questions the less crime they get to commit against others.

Anyway, if you want to help out and possibly save someone being ripped off then a few minutes is all it takes.

Having said that, it’s Friday and I want to go get a kebab, salad, no sauce and a can of irn bru.

I checked their IP address, it is which puts them in Thailand, State/Region: Krung Thep, City: Bangkok.

Obviously brains are in short supply.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Edinburgh Councillors humiliated as Edinburgh tram project lurches to another disaster, council vote will lead to increase in trams running at a loss

Dear All

If you caught Newsnight Scotland last night, Gordon Brewer did a piece on the trams project.

A project beset by difficulties and has ended up as a complete mess.

No Councillor at Edinburgh City Council comes out of this looking good.

And I actually felt sorry for Gordon Mackenzie, LibDem transport convenor of the council, it looks like he is on his own as the front man for this disaster.

The Tram project was opposed by the SNP from the start at Holyrood and Council level, however they were outvoted at every turn as this farce which had Iain Gray’s paw prints all over it was pushed on the public.

Labour, Lib Dems and Tories all wanted this but the SNP says all along that this was a bad idea.

At the Council level, the Edinburgh trams project was dealt a hammer blow yesterday after Labour and Tory councillors rejected a council-backed rescue plan.

And to add insult to injury they wrongly voted instead to build a loss-making route only half the length of the one originally proposed.

So, the people of Edinburgh are going to get an inappropriate six-mile tramway between Edinburgh Airport and Haymarket, west of the city centre when at the very least they should have carried on to the centre of the city at St Andrew Square.

It is a complete farce and it begs questions regarding the calibre of those councillors who couldn’t recognise this was a massive white elephant from the start.

A tram line that makes a loss is no use to anyone; official estimates suggest it will run up further debts of £4m a year.

Operating costs will outstrip the numbers who will use it.

This shows that more care is needed at every level because it appears from start to finish; this project was beyond the ability of the Councillors right through to the people controlling and overseeing the project.

One thing for certain, no one who had hands on or off comes out smelling of roses.

Edinburgh is a laughing stock.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

The hunt for Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi begins as UK and US Special Forces after Tripoli falls, he technically remains a Scottish prisoner

Dear All

Given the upheaval in Tripoli and rumours of British Special Forces operating on the ground, it isn’t unsurprising that the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has fled Tripoli.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi is gone according to his neighbour, who said he left his modern villa.

The surge by the rebels in recent weeks has been impressive as Gaddafi’s army has shown to be ineffective against what is a mob with loose command structures.

Megrahi’s neighbour, Dr Hussein Barba, said:

“This man knows too many things. Gaddafi has taken him with him, wherever he is.”

The last part of that is speculation but there are so many people with a vested interest who would like to see Megrahi dead.

Tory MP Liam Fox, the UK Defence Minister is refusing to answer whether the SAS has been deployed in Libya because he says he doesn’t comment on such issues.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said attempts were being made to contact rebel leaders in Libya to determine Megrahi’s whereabouts, but chances are they will not have that information.

Or the time to go looking, they are engaged in a civil war that is all about regime change.

One thing that Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill did was to refer to Al Megrahi as “a Scottish prisoner”.

This remains the legal position and the fall of Tripoli and Libya doesn’t change that situation, he cannot be handed over to anyone legally except Scottish authorities.

Kenny MacAskill said:

“We are entering into communications. These matters are difficult but we are seeking to make sure we lock on to the authorities. At present, there is some doubt as to just which parts of Tripoli are controlled by whom. So, we seek to enter into discussions with the appropriate authorities.”

Megrahi is in real danger from all sides, Gaddafi cannot let him be taken alive, the rebels may shot him out of hand; special forces from allied nations are more likely to kill him outright.

Given that Megrahi has fled, this may constitute a technical breach of his licence but lets us be frank, there is a war going on, he is a high value target while the country is unstable and the production of medical reports may have to be put on whole.

Law and order hasn’t been re-established and the rebels aren’t as yet acting as a government.

The Herald newspaper claims that it has been told that, on the ground in Libya, a race is now on between US and UK Special forces to find and seize the convicted terrorist.

I can’t see the Scottish Government asked the UK Government for SAS assistance so what is the British interest?

Technically in their eyes, Megrahi has been legally processed and they have no claim to him.

But by the same token, the Americans don’t have a legal claim either; Megrahi is as the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said a “Scottish prisoner”.

It looks like Megrahi is in real trouble, and from all sides.

Question is, who will put the bullet in him first, Gaddafi, US or UK Special Forces and last but not least the rebels.

Another point is that UK Special forces might capture him as a prize to hand over to the Americans, thereby violating the sovereignty of Scottish legal jurisdiction.

If that happens it would lead to a cross border argument of principle to be had.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Glasgow University product Sir Fred Goodwin subject of new book, led RBS to the worst corporate loss in British history, Tory MPs do hatchet job

Dear All

A damning new book about Glasgow University product Sir Fred Goodwin is in the offing claiming that former Royal Bank of Scotland boss was obsessed with biscuits and had anger problems.

Written by two Tory MPs - George Osborne's former chief of staff Matthew Hancock and Nadhim Zahawi, it appears to not pull any punches either above or below the belt.

A storker is the claim that Sir Fred wasted huge sums indulging his personal tastes.

Known as "Fred the Shred" because of his obsession with cutting costs, it looks like the book paints a scenario of one rule for Goodwin and another for the plebs.

Goodwin is best known for leaving the taxpayer with a £45 billion bailout bill.

Further claims in the book alleged that Glasgow University product Fred Goodwin was a terrible boss to work for.

Claims of Goodwin not be able control his anger if the wrong type of biscuit was put in the boardroom seem incredibly petty.

As does the threat to catering staff of disciplinary action in an email titled "Rogue Biscuits" after executives were offered pink wafers.

Pink wafers, seems fine to me with a cup of tea.

When a window cleaner fell in Goodwin’s office, it is alleged in the book that RBS staff "went into panic mode" regarding a broken a toy plane.

And there is listed a catalogue of other alleged behaviour such as at dinner functions, an engineer was also kept on standby until the early hours to switch off fire alarms when executives wanted to smoke.

Peter de Vink, managing director of Edinburgh Financial & General Holdings, said bank staff "were absolutely terrified of him".

It seems the public image doesn’t match the private image.

The book is called, Masters Of Nothing: The Crash And How It Will Happen Again, which goes on sale next month.

And if you can’t afford it then try the library.

Allegations of outlandishness are in there with the authors alleging that £5.3 million was spent refurbishing a listed building known as "Sir Fred's Pleasure Dome" by staff.

Wallpaper in the lobby was said to cost a whopping £1,000 a roll because someone had made a tiny stain on a surface.

However there is some funny bits as the also claims that fruit was flown in daily from Paris. No wonder Royal Bank of Scotland went straight down the tubes.

When RBS hit the rocks, Goodwin lost his £4.2 million-a-year job as chief executive of RBS as a condition of the taxpayer-funded bailout in 2008.

The Glasgow University product led RBS to the worst corporate loss in British history.

So much for the hype of Glasgow University superiority, I have met many people like Goodwin at Glasgow University convinced of their own importance but sadly lacking in many respects.

Recently it emerged that Sir Fred had taken out a privacy injunction to cover up an affair that he had with a married woman colleague as he led RBS to total and utter disaster.

On Saturday it was reported that Sir Fred had been kicked out of the family home by Lady Goodwin, his wife of 21 years.

I wonder if she likes pink wafers!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

It is time that the European Union got tough on people traffickers, harsh prison sentences, total assets removal and permanent EU deportation

Dear All

Illegal immigration is a problem in the UK with documentary evidence that people trafficking is big business.

Khac Dan Nguyen is a 37-year-old from Vietnam who was the mastermind behind getting his countrymen across the English Channel from France.

He was so successful that he was illegally earning up to £25,000 a month.

The profits for this type of crime are vast, potentially there are thousands of illegal immigrants who willing to pay the £2,000 fee for safe passage.

The proceeds of his activities allowed him to build himself a 'large and beautiful' seaside house.

The way that Khac Dan Nguyen operated was classic smuggling using the well-worn path to using LGV Lorries to smuggle people into Britain.

Most be don’t see illegal immigration for what it is, it is a crime but it is to some extent treated as a game of cat and mouse.

Custom and immigration catch the people and then they get turned loose only to try again in another lorry.

Khac Dan Nguyen for trafficking 62 illegal immigrants into Britain was jailed for three years.

That is far too lenient.

The punishment should be more draconian in nature such as 15 years, complete recovery of assets and permanent deportation from the European Union.

Nguyen at his trail claimed to be a ‘humane smuggler interested in people’s happiness’.

Well we should be concerned with his personal unhappiness which 15 years, no parole would bring.

Nguyen said:

‘I am very family orientated and wanted to help my loved ones out,’ he told the Tribunal de Grande Instance in the northern port of Dunkirk.

Nguyen treats smuggling like a game.

Wire taps on Nguyen’s home in Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital gave up information that his wife was building a luxury holiday home on the coast built with the money he was sending.

And he justifies his actions further by saying he was a ‘good man’ who also allowed the illegal immigrants ‘plenty of air’ in the lorries in which he smuggled them.

He is such a star; the French should have gotten the extra mile and imposed a heavier sentence.

Nguyen continued:

“I never mistreated my compatriots. I was always more humane than the people smugglers from other nationalities.”

French frontier police considered that there could have been many more migrants who were provided with passages to Britain by Nguyen but who were never detected, that is entirely possible.

For sometime I have been saying that the EU has to address the problem of immigration internally within the EU in order to tighten up our borders.

All of Nguyen’s ‘clients’ had followed a well-worn route across Asia to Berlin, and then via lorry to the coast of northern France.

From there they will either claim asylum or disappear into jobs in the black economy in Britain.

It is high time that the European Union started looking at and dealing with illegal immigration seriously.

So far, they are not, the nightly game of cat-and-mouse with police of capturing the same people and letting them go is a short term measure.

But the reality is that these people need to be sent back to their own countries.

And those who smuggle them given harsh sentences, all their assets confiscated and where appropriate permanent deportation from the EU.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Exclusive, high drama incident in Glasgow Library as man groans, grunts and squeaks while using the toilet, staff alert security, everyone lived

Dear All

Yesterday, I went to the toilet, nothing strange there you might think.

But it turned into high drama, as I was doing what a man’s got to do, in the sole cubicle in the toilet was a guy making weird noises.

Grunting and making strange animal noises like he was trying to strangle a very big water buffalo.

Being stoic, I kept on about my business.

Then washed my hands!

As I was using the hand dryer, the noises continued unabated as the guy must have gotten the better of the water buffalo.

Arghhhhhhh! Ohhhhhhhh! Arghhhhh!

Maybe he was training to go join the revolution in Libya, who knows, and found a spare water buffalo parked on the stairs for hand to hoof combat!

Up popped two staff members to inquiry if everything was alright and asking the man to come out.

But without asking him to put his hands up!

I finished drying my hands as the scene unfolded and then left, as I walked passed female staff they asked was I put off by the noise that they heard standing at their work station.

I replied, "no, I am brave”.

And the noises reminded me of the beast in Forbidden Planet, the movie, which one staff had seen.

We now have a situation in this country where you can’t even go to relive yourself without a drama.

As far as I could tell everyone lived.

But ‘let’s be careful out there’!

Maybe he was an extra in the Brad Pitt Zombie movie rehearsing his lines.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Nick Clegg gives personal view that Al Megrahi should be sent back to jail, Tories running FO show on Libya means Clegg is fighting to be relevant

Dear All

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg decided to express a ‘personal view’ that the Lockerbie bomber should be "behind bars".

So, what is his UK Government view?

Well, that appears to be the matter is an issue for the Scottish Government.

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds from Greenock jail about two years ago and immediately left Scotland for Libya.

So far there are no grounds on which to revoke his licence of parole.

Clegg isn’t even asking for the licence to be revoked as a Minister of the Crown.

Whether people like it or not, Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds this means he has the right to be treated the same as any other prisoner under the rules.

The revolution in Libya doesn’t change his status in the eyes of the Scottish Government or East Renfrewshire Council.

Is it worth bring him back?

Given the diagnosis is terminal cancer; I would say not, it has been reported that he is on special drugs to combat his illness.

But it is a cure, just an extension.

He has outlived his three-month prognosis from terminal prostate cancer but medicine isn’t an exact science despite all the hitech that surrounds it.

End of the day, people, doctors make an educated guess.

Megrahi is thought to be still in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, the last time he was in contact with Scottish authorities was 8th August but things have changed dramatically on the ground there with the rebel advance reaching the heart of the city.

Clegg says the SNP administration in Edinburgh should "reflect" on the changing picture in Libya, where rebels are fighting to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi.

He said:

"My personal view is that I would like to see Megrahi behind bars. Whatever you think, he was convicted in a court of law of one of the most atrocious terrorist acts that this country has even seen. This is an issue for the Scottish Government and the Scottish Government alone."

Talk about being mealy mouthed.

Asked if he should be put behind bars in Scotland, Clegg said:

"He's been released for reasons that we know, he's released on licence. You can't re-try someone several times - that's not what is at stake here. It's for the Scottish Government to reflect on how the circumstances have changed. I'm just expressing my own view, which I did at the time, which is that this is a man that was convicted of a terrible, terrible atrocity."

The situation in Libya changes nothing, if Megrahi felt his safety was in doubt, he could come back to Scotland and we would have to let him live out the rest of his days here.

There are several questions still hanging over the Lockerbie bombing which need to be cleared up for the families and those involved in the case. Whether the incoming new Libyan government could shed light on the Lockerbie bombing is still up for grabs.

Clegg appears to be shut out of the government response over Libya, it’s a complete Tory run show as far as I can tell; the Lib Dems have been sidelined.

This appears to be Clegg’s attempt to try and stand on the international stage and seems more about raising his profile than anything else.

If Megrahi hasn't violated the terms of his release then he cannot be touched, this shouldn’t be a political football because of circumstance.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Prison service to investigate inmates painting ex Labour MP Jacqui Smith’s house as Prison Chiefs had no knowledge of incident, so wrong.

Dear All

People have a low opinion of politicians as they see them as getting special treatment that ordinary folk don’t.

So, to help that narrative along, former Home Secretary and ex Labour MP Jacqui Smith has defended her use of two day-release prisoners to paint her £450,000 home when they should have been doing community work.

Something stinks about this because Prison Chiefs at Hewell Prison reportedly knew nothing about the work until they were tipped off.

Prison bosses since launched an investigation into how the pair, who were meant to be improving parks and clearing up rubbish-strewn streams found themselves in her home decorating for two days.

They were supposed to be on a back-to-work scheme.

Speaking on an LBC radio programme, Smith said she wanted 'to set the record a little bit straight' and insisted the prisoners 'didn't have anything else on'.

Adding that she donated an unspecified amount to a local charity which organised the project, the Batchley Support Group!

And it gets better; Smith yesterday initially denied knowing about the incident but later admitted what happened.

Last year at the Westminster election, she faced a barrage of criticism and public backlash over a £116,000 expenses claim.

As I said something stinks to high heaven about this as a Prison Service spokeswoman confirmed they knew nothing at the time and the project has since been suspended.

In the past, Smith had to made a public apology in the House of Commons after a watchdog found that she had 'clearly' breached rules on second home expenses.

She said:

‘The decision to provide prisoners for this work was taken without consultation with HMP Hewell or the Ministry of Justice and was a mistake. Offenders should work on projects which help the whole community. The scheme has been suspended while a full internal investigation is undertaken.’

Smith said today:

“You may or may not have seen the front of The Sun but they are having a bit a go at me today because two prisoners who were coming towards the end of their sentence and doing work experience carried out about three hours' work at my house doing a bit of decorating. It hadn't been cleared with the prison authorities in advance and they've now launched an inquiry and The Sun is having a go at me. Well, just to set, I hope, the record a little bit straight, these are guys that were working with a local community organisation in Redditch, a community organisation that actually gives work experience opportunities to prisoners as they come towards the end of their sentence. They do a whole range of odd jobs and working in the local community - I think a really good scheme and really well done by this community group. On one day, when actually they didn't have anything else on, they did come to my house and do three hours-worth of painting, for which me and my husband made a donation to the community group.'

The Prison Service often works with charities and councils to do community-based unpaid work projects carried out by convicts.

But this is so wrong and typical of what many will see as double standards.

In the past, Smith had to made a public apology in the House of Commons after a watchdog found that she had 'clearly' breached rules on second home expenses.

During that episode, she designated a room in her sister's three-bedroom terrace house in South London as her main home, and pays a 'market rate' for her lodgings.

Luckily for us, the public kicked her out but clearly she still benefits from her connections.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Scottish Tories set out poll timetable for a new leader, Murdo Fraser may take on Jackson Carlaw and Carpetbagger Ruth Davidson

Dear All

The Scottish Conservative Party didn’t do well at the Holyrood election, but they are no doubt grateful they didn’t suffer as much as the Lib Dems.

Lib Dems seen their support literally die and fade away.

Not the fault of the Scottish Party or Tavish Scott, they paid the price for Nick Clegg’s betrayal.

Scott prompted fell on his rubber sword and resigned.

Annabel Goldie had a good election, we ll good in Tories terms, she was still humped at the ballot box, never made any real breakthrough, 15 MSPs.

And most of them are elderly.

Tories are despised in Scotland.

Anyway, Annabel Goldie lost; she like Tavish Scott took the ceremonial rubber sword and fell on it, then got up, dusted off and prepared to sit up the back when a new leader is appointed.

So, who are those who seek her crown?

Three names are in the frame – deputy leader, Murdo Fraser, West of Scotland MSP, Jackson Carlaw and Glasgow newcomer, Ruth Davidson.

The only choice that is credible is Murdo Fraser.

Both Carlaw and Davidson aren’t leaders of men, let alone a country.

The winner of the contest will be named on 4th November.

Transport spokesman Mr Carlaw, 52, has already thrown his hat into the ring early but will be able to have enough gas in the tank to get over the finish line.

He has published a paper on how he thinks the Scottish Parliament can be improved.

It would be smarter to concentrate on how to improve the Tories to connect with the electorate, that’s their problem.

The joke candidate remains Ruth Davidson, a Glasgow list MSP who lives in Edinburgh.

That will really connect with the people.

Who ever wins needs to understand that Tory policies need to be tailored to suit the people, if you can’t connect you can get votes.

If people look at this straight, then Murdo Fraser is the only option, but he has to change his rhetoric and Tory policies.

But given even Tory candidates see Scottish Tories as a ‘nest of vipers’, they are destine to remain a party of protest not relevant to the people of Scotland.
Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Cosla chief Rory Mair has a fear over policing accountability as Scotland moves towards a National Police Force, not a problem for other agencies

Dear All

The single national police idea has attracted a lot of comments and fear from certain vested interests, when people should be recognising this as an opportunity.

In Scotland, there are several agencies that operate on a national basis in the law enforcement area.

We have British Transport Police, the Scottish Prison Service and the UK Border Agency to name but a few.

With a vast majority capable and able to operate at this level, why can’t a police force?

There is no reason why a national force cannot do the same job as those agencies listed above.

The fear element is from those politicians who stand to lose money sitting on police boards, in some cases as much as £20k.

The Tories and Labour have joined the SNP Government at national level supporting this, money focused minds because of budget cuts but the idea is sound.

Sound if it is done correctly.

At the weekend I first saw the name Rory Mair in a quiz I was taking part in, until then I had never heard of him so I looked him up.

Rory Mair is chief executive of local authority body Cosla.

So, he can run a national organisation which is the umbrella group of all Scotland’s 32 Councils.

Here is something I found regarding Rory Mair.

“East Renfrewshire Council's interim sports and recreation manager Rory Mair has been appointed chief executive of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

One senior local government figure said his appointment suggests there were no 'big-hitters' interested in the top job at the troubled COSLA.

He said:

'He is a former chief executive so they have managed to attract a fairly good calibre of applicant. But I think that if a really heavyweight chief executive had gone for it, they would have got it.'”

That is why I have never heard of him, he isn’t regarded as a “really heavyweight chief executive”.

His concern is that the Government’s plan to reduce Scotland’s eight forces to one would make the police service “the same as Scottish Enterprise or any of the other quangos where we’ve had concern about the level of local democracy”.

I think this says a lot about Mair personally.

The new national force will be accountable, both locally and nationally.

The idea that people would even think that the fiefdom culture has any place in the new force is total wrong and misguided.

Police will have day to day operation control as normal but it wouldn’t be a case that they will not be answerable for their actions.

Rory Mair made his remarks a conference in Edinburgh on police reform.

He added:

“Instead of there being 1200 individuals elected locally who can have a say in the service, we’re talking about an appointed board of 20 or so souls appointed by the minister who will do that job on behalf of the whole of Scotland.”

However, David O’Connor, president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, insisted a single force was the best way to maintain numbers as part of a balanced workforce.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said reform was vital and added:

“We have already consulted widely on the case for change, including sustained dialogue with Cosla and many other stakeholders in local government including chief executives, council leaders and board conveners.”

I favour a national police board, retain current local boards and a cross party stand alone Holyrood Committee at the Parliament as offering the best way to address these issues.

We will have to wait and see if other people’s vision matches my own.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Labour MP Tom Harris moots the idea that he could be the Labour leadership contender in Scotland, the fight is in Holyrood, it needs to be an MSP

Dear All

It seems that the ‘Scottish’ Labour Party doesn’t quite grasp the problem of their situation in Scotland.

After a humiliating defeat, the worst in Holyrood history, they still wrongly believe that an MP can be the leader of ‘Scottish’ Labour.

Labour in Scotland need a ‘Scottish’ leader who is an MSP.

That is their only sensible option but there are problems, the talent pool is incredibly small.

Very very small!

Labour MP Tom Harris has emerged as a potential candidate for the role of party leader at Holyrood.

He is a former Minister of the Crown but doesn’t have a big following, the Glasgow South MP said he would be interested in competing for the job "if the party would be interested in having me".

An acknowledgement of no support both ways up the tree!

Harris told BBC Radio Scotland that he had put his name forward because of the lack of candidates to emerge from Labour's ranks at the Scottish Parliament.

A clear case of saying there is no contest of the available MSPs.

He said:

"The reason I have allowed my name to be mentioned in the speculation about this is purely and simply because we lost in May, Iain Gray announced he was standing down in September, which is next week, and I don't even know if that's going ahead."
Labour MSP Ken MacIntosh, named as a possibility for the role isn’t keen, Harris said:

"One of the candidates that has been touted has apparently said privately that he is no longer interested. None of the other candidates that have been mooted have put their heads above the parapet. I think this amount of time after the election when we did so badly, it is truly bizarre and very damaging to the party not having a leadership campaign."

Truly there are no heavy Labour hitters in Holyrood left, McAveety, Gordon, Kerr, Alexander and McCabe all gone now.

Mr Harris added:

"I am raising the possibility - the very slim possibility of my candidacy - because there are ideas that I have that I think the party should at least be debating, because by the time the next Scottish Parliament elections come up in 2016, we need to know what type of party Scottish Labour will be."

I can see Harris getting support so the torch might be passed to Labour's deputy leader Johann Lamont.

She has been widely touted as the favourite to succeed Iain Gray when he steps down.

Lamont is a Glasgow University product, recently on Newsnight Scotland she tried to do a hatchet job on the SNP which backfired badly when the presenter Gordon Brewer highlight that Labour had more meetings with the Murdoch Press in one year than the SNP had in four.

She showed she wasn’t quick witted enough to do the job, and in the end looked like someone had burst her balloon.

An uncomfortable experience which served her badly!

A review of Scottish Labour is already under way following the party's election defeat in May.

Whether this will amount to anything is debateable, Labour in Scotland is dying, people are asking for elected officials who are willing to serve the people.

And the Labour Party hasn’t done that in along time.

Tom Harris as ‘Scottish’ Labour leader isn’t a good choice, the fight is in the Holyrood chamber and Harris can’t run on the field as a sub, he is benched in the gallery.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

David Cameron says he wants to see Al Megrahi returned to jail as Gaddafi regime nears endgame, an attack on principle of Scots judicial sovereignty

Dear All

We could say that David Cameron's intervention in Libya is ‘regime change by proxy’, after all trying to sell to the public another ‘war on add name’ would affect his re-election chances.

It pretty much killed Labour’s possibly chance of success at both the Westminster and Holyrood elections.

Now, the rebels have entered Tripoli, the endgame for Gaddafi is in sight, he has lost the country in real terms.

At present attention focuses on the hunt for Gaddafi but there is another side issue, that of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi.

Megrahi technically is still under Scottish jurisdiction having been processed by our courts and been found guilty, admittedly not done on Scottish soil.

David Cameron has decided that Megrahi convicted of the Lockerbie bombing should be back behind bars.

This is the position coming out of No 10 last night.

It is an attack on the sovereignty of the Scottish Government as justice is a devolved matter.

Megrahi was freed on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, at the time medics gave him somewhere in the region of three months to live. Two years down the line he is still alive, medicine isn’t an exact science when it comes to determining the exact moment of death.

The task of monitoring Megrahi falls to the social work department in East Renfrewshire Council.

Sunny Barrhead!

It is here that East Renfrewshire Council’s criminal justice manager Jonathan Hinds keeps in contact by video conference with Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi every month until he dies.

They check he remains at the address in Tripoli and is unharmed amid the fierce fighting there.

How they keep him safe and unharmed during the fighting remains a mystery but I can guess they say, don’t go out.

Sage advice!

Cameron and the rest of his Tory ilk quickly came to a position that they regarded the decision by the Scottish Government in August 2009 to release the 59-year-old Libyan on compassionate grounds as wrong.

He was convicted of killing 270 people in Britain’s worst mass murder, however, there are serious doubts as to whether Al Megrahi did it or was given a fair trial.

People like Dr Jim Swire believe he didn’t do the bombing of the Pan Am 103 flight and have campaigned hard on the issue.

Yesterday, Cameron’s spokeswoman was asked what he believed should happen to Megrahi in the event that the regime of Muammar Gaddafi fell.

She said:

“Clearly, that’s a matter for the authorities there.”

And when it came to the request by American senators for the Libyan to be extradited to the US to stand trial there, she dodged the issue by saying that Megrahi was “convicted of the most appalling act of terror, involving the loss of hundreds of lives and our thoughts remain with the families of those victims”.

She added:

“The Prime Minister is very clear he regrets the continued anguish, pain and suffering that Megrahi’s release has caused to those families and his personal views are well-known – that is, he thinks it is wrong he was released.”

Asked if Cameron remained of the opinion that Megrahi should now be returned to jail, the spokeswoman nodded and said:

“He has expressed those views before. He believes he should not have been released.”

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, also believes the Libyan should be returned to jail but feels there are “technical difficulties” in achieving this.

Namely the Scottish Government’s claim to Megrahi which is outside their jurisdiction, Megrahi is technically and legally still under Scottish jurisdiction until he dies.

The agreement was everyone’s claim was given up because the event took place in Scotland.

A Scottish Government spokesman said:

“Al Megrahi was sent back to Libya according to the due process of Scots law because he is dying of terminal prostate cancer. He is being monitored by East Renfrewshire Council under the terms of his release licence, which he has not breached.”

Given statements by the head of the National Transitional Council in the press and media regarding that the rule of law and human rights will be upheld, Megrahi won’t be going anywhere if those statements have meaning.

The US Senators claims and those of US Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney have no validity in saying Megrahi should be sent to America.

It would be an attack on Scottish judicial sovereignty by them.

Megrahi if the National Transitional Council remains true to their word regarding rule of law and human rights should have nothing to fear.
However, we have all seen that despite laws being in place abuse of power can take place.

The Scottish Justice Secretary made a decision that was in accordance with the rules set out in the release of prisoners who have terminal illnesses.

Regardless whether Cameron, the US Senators and US Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney like it isn’t a concern, they are entitled not to, but the decision was made and that is what everyone has to accept.

Megrahi is still a prisoner in the eyes of the Scottish justice system; he has been let out because he is terminal ill.

Any decision to bring him back rests with the Scottish authorities, not English or American.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Monday, August 22, 2011

Glasgow gets tough on parking ticket appeals as the city gets second place in the toughest area to get your ticket cancelled

Dear All

There maybe a zombie movie being filmed in the city but nothing puts the sh***ers up motorists as the sight of the parking wardens hovering about waiting to plant a ticket on their car.

And they do it with such relish.

If you are parking illegally in Glasgow expect the ‘boys in green’ dressed in tactical gear to swoop.

In you believe you are an innocent, then don’t expect much mercy as Parking bosses in Glasgow are among the strictest in the country.

They fight to the death when it comes to parking ticket appeals.

Glasgow City Council came out second toughest in screwing the motorists for parking illegally in the city as figures obtained under freedom of information laws show.

East Ayrshire has emerged top as the most hard line area of the country when it comes to parking enforcement.

20% of drivers who challenge their ticket get let off.

If you stay in Argyll and Bute, it is a different story, they are the most lenient, tearing up 83% of parking tickets appealed against by motorists last year.

The huge discrepancies in parking-appeal success rates have been condemned by motoring organisations.

They say something wrong in the way in how Councils continue to slap thousands of tickets on windscreens which shouldn’t be there.

And the charge of £60 for a parking ticket is worth a fight.

Argyll and Bute issued 1032 tickets last year, of which 169 were appealed against and only 29 fines were upheld.

Matthew Sinclair of the Taxpayers’ Alliance said the figures suggested some councils are giving out tickets when they shouldn’t be.

He said:

“It is absolutely stunning that in some parts of the country the success rate for parking appeals is so high, as it suggests that the authority is getting its fines wrong on a massive scale.”

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council, said:

“Everyone has the right to appeal to the council about their penalty charge notice.”

The AA’s Paul Watters said councils should cancel more fines, which are typically £60, or £30 if paid in two weeks.

He added:

“If people take the trouble to write and give an excuse, then let them off.”

I am not sure that because someone takes the time to fight off a letter that they should get off.

If they aren’t parking illegally they shouldn’t be ticketed, if they are they should know better, if you chance your arm and get caught, pay up.

However, this is an issue which should be monitored because the purpose of parking control is to ensure that the city’s transport runs smoothly, some see it as a ‘cash cow’.

I don’t quite go along with that idea.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Libya conflict appears to near its end game, fighting rages near Gaddafi compound, his sons detained by rebels but Gaddafi still on the loose

Dear All

The Libyan regime led by Colonel Gaddafi is on the verge of collapse, the rebels supported by Nato airstrikes have entered the centre of Tripoli.

Two of Gaddafi’s sons have said to have been detained by the rebels, Gaddafi himself remains at large.

Gaddafi in broadcasts earlier remained defiant saying he will stay in Tripoli “until the end”.

He also called on armed civilians to attack the traitors and help liberate the capital from the rebel offensive.

Nato spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said:

“The territory (Gaddafi) controls is shrinking fast, his closest allies are packing their bags, and the people of Tripoli are rising. The sooner he realises he cannot win, the better – so that the Libyan people can be spared further bloodshed and suffering.”

Are we looking at a scene of ‘liberation’ or another Iraq with the breakdown of law and order?

Time will tell.

And what future will Gaddafi and his allies have?

Will there be show trials or exile?

For six months, the civil war has raged in Libya assisted by the West and its continual airstrikes.

Gaddafi was absolute ruler of Libya for more than four decades; he has blood on his hands.

The Americans want Al Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing to be handed over to them so he can die in an American prison, but if they want Al Megrahi charged, they must logically ask for Gaddafi as well.

Logic and history dictates this as we have seen with Bin Laden.

The Rebels appear to have taken the upper hand by rapidly advancing toward Tripoli as they took over the base of the Khamis Brigade.

One of the best trained and equipped units in the Libyan military commanded by Gaddafi’s 27-year-old son

Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told a news conference in Tripoli:

“There are thousands and thousands of soldiers who are willing to defend the city.”

According to reports, Gaddafi forces may only control 15 to 20% of the city.

Nick Clegg says that Gaddafi’s fate is now “closing in on him” and has declared that Britain will not turn its back on the millions hoping for a better life from the Arab Spring.

What he is talking about there is oil and trade, the UK Government wants to jump into bed with the new power elite in much the same way they did with Gaddafi.

Expect a visit from David Cameron, William Hague and various trade missions to follow.

Last year exports of around £24.5 billion of goods and services went to the region.

It seems that many Arab countries are kicking out their rulers for failing to deliver for the people.

All eyes are looking to Syria which the US is steadfastly moving away from, is this the next place for civil war?

It seems highly likely as a pattern emerges across the region; the Arab Spring movement seems to follow a set pattern.

The question of what to do with Gaddafi if he is caught and captured by the rebels is a tricky one.

One that has so many vested interests both internal and external seeing him remaining silent.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fatal Facebook: 'UK on edge of civil war', I think that there will be further riots in the future, things are so unfair and unequal

SPT facing the end of the road as it maybe abolished in public-sector overhaul, Labour Chair Jonathan Findlay spits the dummy, it’s over!

Dear All

A while ago the SPT scandal broke in Scotland.

The Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) is the Glasgow Labour Party’s cash cow and football travel agent.

I said that this organisation should be closed immediately, cut off at the knees and the Labour Councillors sent packed.

It seems that having come out in favour of closure; we are a step closer as Scotland’s largest transport authority faces the prospect of abolition under a review of public-sector agencies.

Now, at this time in politics changes are happening, the next five years are about reform of public services both in how they deliver to their clients but also the models that produce the services.

Money has focused minds but there needs to be questions asked about accountability and lack of transparency.

Ministers in Holyrood are said to have described Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) as “bloated” and claim there will be moves to overhaul it by the end of the year.

Another option is to drastically reduce its powers but let’s not waste time.

These characters have been ripping the piss out of the taxpayer long enough; they are getting flung out into the street.

After the world football tours, a new broom was brought as chairman, Labour Councillor, Jonathan Findlay.

He is on three wages thank you very much.

As the new guy, he has been credited with drawing a line under the junkets and expenses scandals which beset the agency’s previous regime under Labour.

And let’s face it, he had no choice as Ministers and others were watching.

Typically, the Labour-dominated agency believes it is being used as political ‘football’ in the run-up to next year’s council elections which are important for Glasgow.

They can believe what they like; the thing is still getting chopped down regardless who win that contest!

Findlay is unhappy to the extent that he attacked the SNP’s relationship with Stagecoach tycoon Sir Brian Souter.

Now, that is politics.

Then as mitigation, he added that under his stewardship, SPT was millions of pounds leaner.

And looking desperate he also commented that the SPT with a budget of almost £50 million; was fulfilling Government pledges on transport matters such as concessionary travel and various other schemes and project.

Nice to know that for £50 million, people are willing to do what they are already paid for.

However, it seems that Labour want to run a narrative that the proposed review is a political attack on Labour-run councils in the west of the country.

This organisation was run by the Glasgow Labour and various Labour cronies and ex candidates, so let’s not kid ourselves this is anything but want it is.

Ex Chief Executive and former Labour Candidate Ron Culley, quit along with several other senior officials after abuse of expenses, including arranging a fact-finding trip to coincide with Rangers’ Uefa Cup Final was made public.

I would have shut them down early if I was in a position to send out a clear message to others.

As a mark of how bad things were at SPT, it was found to be institutionally flawed in reports by watchdogs.

You could say that the Labour Councillors had their eye on what was in it for them instead of due diligence regarding corporate governance.

One Government source said:

“SPT is still very much on the Government’s radar and far from off the hook. It’s still in the spotlight and part of the upcoming agenda. The whole issue of public-sector reform isn’t going away and is being seriously considered post-Christie Commission [which has reported on the delivery of public services]. There are lingering issues around SPT even after the regime change. It’s bloated for starters and there are major issues around governance. It does provide some direct services and tenders out others but that can all still happen after future restructuring and we simply scrap the duplication. At this stage there’s no decision on how to crack this nut and it may fall under public-sector reform legislation. But they will not be left as they are. It’s a case of necessity and I’d expect to see something by the end of the year.”

Kill it.

Findlay replied by saying:

“Rumours and threats are extremely damaging and no organisation should have to operate under such impossible conditions. Staff morale is clearly affected every time an anonymous voice decides to have a go for political reasons. I firmly stand by my proposal. I believe SPT is doing a great job and those at the top have already delivered savings of £3m over the past 16 months. The Scottish Government needs to be clear and, if a review is to take place, explain how integrated regional transport services will be delivered in future. Also, how would the many major projects that SPT delivers, such as the new park-and-ride scheme at Croy station, Smartcard ticketing, extensive Subway modernisation and a £5m upgrade of Hamilton bus station, be delivered across Strathclyde? Crucially, who is going to lobby for better bus regulation in the face of cuts in local bus services by private operators?”

Given previous Labour involvement, this organisation should be closed, to set an example to others that the abuse of expenses and using the organisation as a travel agent for football isn’t going to be tolerated.

This should be absorbed by Transport Scotland, the staff retained and the political influence removed that the Labour Party has nurtured among its cronies and placemen.

When the scandal broke of what went on at SPT, the entire management should have been suspended pending investigation.

And everyone who used SPT funds to go to that Rangers’ Uefa Cup Final in Manchester sacked.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Glasgow Labour Council dip into the ‘piggie bank’ after Council admits budget shortfall as targets aren’t met, poor financial management cripples city

Dear All

Next year sees Council elections all over Scotland but the key election is Glasgow, the heart of the Labour Party fiefdom.

Taking Glasgow from the Labour Party is a milestone on the road to an independent Scotland.

But it is no easy task for any political party, Labour have been the absolute rulers in the city for decades.

Any political party seeking control needs to have a good narrative and the people who will work to secure changes that are need with the Council.

Local government public sector reform is arguable the most important task over the next five years.

And there is no appetite by Glasgow Labour Councillors to deliver that change, in fact any changes previously could be argued as being more about charging the cash flow of Labour councillors rather than serving the people.

The ALEO scandal set up by Steven ‘bin laden’ Purcell, the ‘ex President’ of Glasgow City Council who fell from grace, he used the Aleo system as a means of political patronage in the city.

Some councillors effectively doubled their salary by taking on directorships of Aleo, the amounts of cash varied from £6k to £20k.

With the cuts agenda on the horizons, the Labour controlled council isn’t doing well under its new leader Gordon ‘free dinners’ Matheson.

The proof of that ‘pudding’ is the news that Labour controlled Glasgow City Council will be accessing emergency funds in order to cover shortfalls this year.

The Glasgow Labour Party treats the city council as their private club.

So, Glasgow is raiding the ‘piggie bank’ called the Council’s “Service Reform Contingency Fund”.

It seems that the problem stems from efficiency targets not being met.

Officials at Scotland’s largest local authority had budgeted for £5 million savings over two years, £1.5m this year and £3.5m in 2012-13. This was to be done by using reforms to services. However; rather than being radical, they took the line of least resistance and opted for measures that included changes to staff terms and conditions.

Instead the agenda should have been how to use the public sector to generate cash by being pro active instead of reactive and waiting for people to come to them.

And this is a problem in most Council departments, they get their budgets and spend it, no real though exists to generate money because it isn’t part of their remit as far as they are concerned.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds are paid to executives and we are told we are paying for top talent but this is an image that the public sees.

SNP Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Allison Hunter said:

“The news that the Council will fail to make its savings target for this financial year tells a tale of poor financial management. At this year’s budget meeting the SNP called for a full review of the Council’s finances to ensure a stable future in these difficult times for council budgets. Labour confidently predicted that savings would be found this year and it is this which has brought today’s revelation.”

Ms Hunter claimed that the admission has left Council employees and Unions worried about what the impact will mean and added:

“Employee annual leave and holiday entitlements are in question, as well as support to staff for disclosure checks vital for their work. How can employees be confident in the administration and how can Glasgow citizens be reassured that the difficulties today will not become worse next year? It really is time for Labour to get a grip of this situation and steer the Council’s finances back to a more stable position.”

Cuts will not be the only solution; councils must learn to generate money like commercial businesses by selling services that people and organisations want.

There must be more inter council sharing of services and new models of operation brought forward.

But changing and reforming the public sector will be painful, they will be a cost, just like there will be a cost when the new single national police force comes on line.

Job losses!

It is an unhappy fact of life that things have to be stripped down before they grow back up again.

Money has been poured into the local government sector but the public don’t see much benefit.

It is like there has developed a whole raft of people who shuffle paper about that has no meaning to ordinary citizens.

Too many managers are earning hefty salaries when councillors should be asking hard questions of them and what they are going to make people’s lives better.

In the money stakes, almost two thirds of the £10m Service Reform Contingency Fund has been has spent to date.

This leaves only £2.1m of the Service Reform reserve for the rest of the financial year to April 2012.

Councils need to make local government reform a priority so that departments can have a better financial base and be able to build substantial cash reserves.

And that type of change cannot come from the Labour Party; they turn over the council to the executive officers, a long time ago.

They are just like club members who have a voice in the running of the club instead of being the management running the thing.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Tory councillor, Bob Frost suspended after calling rioters 'jungle bunnies' on Facebook, he is also a secondary school teacher!

Dear All

No one with any sense likes Tories, come to Scotland and they are like the dinosaurs, politically dead and ancient history with a minor interest generated by some.

In sunny England, a Tory councillor has been suspended after he made racist remarks about rioters.

Bob Frost is also a secondary school maths teacher; he went on Facebook and described those involved in disturbances last week as 'jungle bunnies'.

I initially thought he was an old Tory pensioner type but it turns out he is only 49 years old.

Frost represents the Conservative Party having been elected to Dover District Council.

He has since removed the remark was removed from his Facebook page after he received a phone call from another Conservative party member.

Why he thought publicly saying this was okay beggars belief and shows remarkably poor judgement on both the Tories for selecting him and his own personal judgement.

Mr Frost teaches at Sir Roger Manwood’s Grammar School in Sandwich and describes himself as a 'right-wing libertarian'.

On Facebook, he further said:

“I have just had a phone call that accused me of racism for my above posting. Looking at the dictionary it would appear that the term jungle bunnies is perjorative [sic] and is a racist slur relating to African-Americans. Needless to say I did not mean to use any offensive racist term and was referring to the urban jungle.”

I find his excuse pretty weak.

And digging a bigger hole, the councillor, who represents north Deal, added:

“As for the bunny bit it was originally animals but I thought people might object to me calling fellow humans this so I chose something I thought was innocuous and also cuddly.”

Unsurprisingly the councillor has been suspended from the party and an investigation into the comments has been launched before a panel decides what action to take.

Mr Frost said:

“What I said was wrong and I apologise unreservedly. I am mortified by the offence that I have caused and have deleted these comments. I am very sorry.”

Fellow Councillor Sue Chandler, deputy leader of Dover District Council Conservative Group said:

“There is no place in our society for this kind of language. We have therefore suspended Cllr Frost from the Conservative Group pending investigation.”
Another senior Tory colleague, who declined to be named, described Mr Frost as an 'idiot'.

Frost is no stranger to controversy and has in the past made comments about single mothers in Dover town centre.

On that score, his gem of wisdom was:

“Well, being in the Market Square you might ask how all the single mothers congregating with their push-chaired spawn are able to afford both their beer and their tattoos. I have a horrible idea I am paying for both.”

Tories stigmatising people isn’t nothing new, but Frost has done himself no favours this time and maybe reported to the standards Commissioner on whether he is fit to hold public office.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Strathclyde force assigns 50 officers to phone-hack probe, pyrrhic victory for Tommy Sheridan, his career as serious politician shattered

Dear All

Scotland’s Nelson Mandela, Tommy Sheridan sits in Castle Huntly Prison waiting for the day he will be free to walk the earth.

And plan his political comeback, major work need on that front, he and his party have been incredibly damaged.

But in politics anything can happen and usually does, although not a key part of his trial, a side note brought up by Sheridan was phone hacking by the News of the World.

As an outsider looking at this, Tommy Sheridan and the NOTW weren’t on best terms so when the opportunity came over ‘shaggergate’, it was too good an opportunity to miss. Tommy Sheridan was an MSP at the time they broke the story so it was newsworthy.

Was it in the public interest or just of interest to the public, I leave that analysis to you, but the story had all the hallmarks of great gossip.

Local hero come good is ploughing into all sorts of top ‘totty’ while being a family man.

Katrine Trolle is someone who said that Tommy Sheridan had sex sessions with her.

Trolle is from Denmark which prompts the phrase.

‘Ah… Danish’.

Because it was sizzling!

Anyway, time moves on, and Sheridan’s sideshow has led to up to 50 detectives working on Operation Rubicon.

This is Strathclyde Police’s inquiry into alleged phone-hacking in Scotland.

The inquiry is led by Detective Superintendent John McSporran and in this instance, I expect Tommy Sheridan to be helping police with their inquiries.

Give it name.

Andy Coulson.

Operation Rubicon is Scotland’s answer to Operation Weeting, the probe into phone hacking being run by the Metropolitan Police.

How many people were hacked it not known but lists of people run into thousands and with Clive Goodman’s letter, it looks bad for News International.

Scottish Detectives were handed a dossier of 1100 names by Sheridan’s solicitor, Aamer Anwar accompanied by Labour MP Tom Watson.

Who said that Sheridan’s conviction was unsafe, if you strip out Coulson and the News of the World evidence, you are still left with videotape evidence and witnesses to him confessing, plus other witnesses such as Katrine Trolle and people from Manchester who placed him at the scene.

Add it all up, and you get guilty.

But let’s not forget the former Scottish Socialist Party leader is human and getting payback is high on the agenda.

That and trying to rebuild a shattered party who have seen public confidence drop like a stone.

Strathclyde Police are examining a host of serious allegations on phone hacking such as breaches of data protection law, perjury against News International staff including Prime Minister David Cameron’s former communications director, Andy Coulson, an ex-editor at the News of the World, and police corruption.

Anwar said:

“My understanding is a huge amount of resources are being devoted to this.”

It seems that the Tommy Sheridan story will continue, Sheridan has still got a brand name, but it cannot be repaired on the back of any alleged guilt by the NOTW staff.

He may get his other day in court revelling in payback and trying to create a narrative that as Scotland’s Nelson Mandela, he was Scotland’s sole ‘political’ prisoner and then the circus will go on.

For the narrative to work, it has to go on the belief that people aren’t bright, have poor memories and can be swayed.

Unfortunately, this is Scotland, we can read, write and think and I suspect ‘Comrade’ Sheridan once released will man the barricades in true Russian Socilaist style of Ilya Ehrenberg pounding his chest.

As to his career there is a song, ‘walk on by’.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sally Bercow overrules her husband House of Commons Speaker John Berocw and goes on Big Brother, more damage to House of Commons

Dear All

Shame, shame and more shame!

This is what Commons Speaker John Bercow’s wife brings on the House of Commons.

Her latest escapade in bring the House of Commons into disrepute is appearing on Celebrity Big Brother.

The role of the Speaker of the House of Commons is a historic role as such everyone involved or connected to that office has a duty to set an example.

Sally Bercow antics have brought shame, shame and more shame, she might even top Michael Martin who was rightly forced out in going the worst damage in living memory.

Bercow has pleaded with his wife not to appear on Celebrity Big Brother, but she doesn’t care as like a runaway truck she is oblivious to the damage she does.

The Speaker told his wife that the show was "completely dreadful" but she ignored him and accepted a £100,000 deal.

Its all about the pounds and pence for her!

In order to not be asked embarrassing questions regarding his wife appearing on the Channel 5 series which starts tomorrow, Bercow will remain on holiday in India.

We all remember the damage to George Galloway and Tommy Sheridan careers that appearing on Big Brother caused, Sally Bercow will be placed in similar positions.

At present in the Commons, some Tories are conducting a ‘War on Bercow’, they now have more ammo.

And soon the videotapes for their campaign!

Sally Bercow is said to have been attracted by the opportunity to "stick two fingers up" to her critics.

Max Clifford, her spokesman said:

"Sally knows she is going to be criticised by the Establishment and that was one of the big attractions for her to do the show."


"She and her husband totally disagree about her participation and he asked her not to do it. He thinks the show is completely dreadful. They disagree on lots of things. She doesn't like the fact he is a Tory and he doesn't like her being a Socialist. But they love and respect each other as individuals."

In a tweet last night she wrote:

"Shutting down my Twitter for a bit. Nowt to do with David Cameron's *loopy* social media proposals, mind… Take care & have fun."
So, she goes into the goldfish were the producers have people jumping about like idiots solely for the viewing public and to get their rocks off!

The rest of the Big Brother gang are an odd collection of humanity, The Only Way Is Essex's Amy Childs, Kerry Katona and US actresses Pamela Bach and Tara Reid. The male contestants are thought to include Paddy Doherty of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, singer Bobby Brown, Jedward and EastEnder Sid Owen.

Hardly worth sticking on the box to watch!

But Bercow’s enemies will, seeking evidence that John Bercow via his wife has brought shame on the House of Commons and on the Office of Speaker.

Her unusual public behaviour demeans her husband's post.

In February she posed for ES magazine draped in a sheet for a photo taken in the shadows of Parliament.

Tory MP Rob Wilson said:

"John Bercow said he wanted to restore respect and dignity to Parliament in his manifesto for Speaker. I am not sure how Sally Bercow going on one of the country's tackiest shows helps. Is it really appropriate for the Speaker's wife to use Parliament for her own financial gain? After all, the only reason for the invitation is because her husband is the Speaker."

It’s all about the £100k.

In an attempt to head off criticism, she will donate a large part of her fee to the Ambition for Autism charity, of which she is a patron.

But she brings shame, shame and more shame on the House of Commons.

Why doesn't she just take a large 'dump' in the central corridor of the House of Commons and be done with it!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University