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Showing posts with label WMDs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WMDs. Show all posts

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Hippocratic oath - WMDs and alcohol – dilemmas for doctors

A blog from winter 2010 – still relevant to WMD and to the minimum pricing for alcohol debate

Friday, 12 November 2010

The Hippocratic oath – old and new

I have been aware of the existence of the Hippocratic Oath for most of my life, have probably glibly referred to it on occasion, but until last night, I have never actually read it or understood its exact place in modern medicine.

Events in the Scottish Parliament this week led me to find out a bit more about it, and I now realise that most of what I believed was based on various misconceptions.

1. I believed that it had existed in an unchanged form since Hippocrates – the father of modern medicine - first set it down several hundred years before the birth of Christ. It hasn’t,  and in fact Hippocrates may have had little to do with it …

2. I believed that every medical practitioner was obliged to take the Hippocratic oath. They are not, at least not in recent years …

In fact, the wording of the original Oath, in translation, astonished me. I had hoped to find something in it that would help me to understand what influence, if any, it might have on medical doctors who get involved in politics – say, Dr. Liam Fox, for example. (You may be able to think of others.)

Would anything in the Oath, in its original form or in the more modern principles favoured by the BMA, that try to hold on to some of the essential sense and principles of the original act as any guide to the ethical and moral behaviour of a doctor involved in the pragmatic and often dirty business of politics?

How, for example, could Liam Fox interpret his responsibilities under the oath when acting as a Defence Minister, commissioning weapons of death and mass destruction, and sending young men and women to kill other human beings, and perhaps to be killed or maimed themselves?

Would he take the ethical position that, since he was not practising medicine in this role, the oath was irrelevant? After all, doctors are not like priests, claiming to draw their authority from their god – they are high-level professionals, with high ethical standards, but ordinary mortals nonetheless.

No answer there – the question is beyond my philosophical and analytical abilities.

But how about, say for example, a doctor/politician who in his or her role is obliged to bring medical knowledge specifically to bear on decisions affecting the health of the population?

Say, over egregious abuse of alcohol in a society?

A thorny question also, but perhaps more amenable to Hippocratic analysis, but certainly not hypocritical consideration.

Doctors, like scientists, often reach different conclusions faced with the same facts, the same evidence: doctors debate, discuss, in fact in recent months, I’ve heard them doing it many times at the end of my beds in St. John’s and the RIE, and at the beds of other critically ill patients. It struck me as a vital dialogue - not always between equals, because the medical profession is hierarchical in the extreme - but one where every view is invited, heard and weighed.

Back to the Hippocratic Oath …

I’ll take the classic version rather than the original, which frankly sounds more than a little odd to a modern ear. (It’s also a little odd in the classic version.)

It’s hard to seize on anything relevant to a modern topic such as, say, dealing with the enormous harm to the health, wellbeing, safety and economic strength of an entire nation because of abuse of a legal and freely available dangerous drug – alcohol.

I will apply dietic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.”

I couldn’t find dietic in my Oxford dictionary, so I presume it means dietetic – relating to diet, i.e. the nature of food and drink ingested.

Alcohol, misused, clearly does harm, and undoubtedly causes injustice, in its supply to people who are by age, immaturity or predisposition to addiction and excess vulnerable to this drug, and to others, who are harmed by violence, by disturbance in public places, in the home, by the overstretching of the caring and public order services, by economic factors – the list is a long one.

Keeping them all from harm and injustice due to alcohol abuse seems to me an appropriate interpretation of the Hippocratic Oath.

“I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make suggestion to this effect.”

A difficult one to interpret in the context of a licensed drug and a licensed trade, especially when that drug forms a central part of the economy of my country. One might reasonably expect a doctor to recognise that the drug is only deadly under certain circumstances, and consumed in moderation may actually be beneficial, but to look long and hard at it becoming available too cheaply and too easily to vulnerable groups especially the young and immature.

But where there is a widespread consensus, in the society of which that doctor is a part, by virtually all doctors, the professional association that represents doctors, by the police force of that society, by the established Church of that society, by health workers, addiction workers, careworkers in that country, one might reasonably expect that a doctor/politician would tend to follow that consensus, a consensus of his or her peers and virtually every authoritative voice.

Of course, one must allow for the fact the majority are not always right; that lone voices, driven by burning personal conviction, must follow their consciences, and speak out against the majority if necessary. Such men and women have rendered invaluable service to their profession and to society at great personal cost on occasion.

It would of course be unthinkable that anyone would be influenced significantly or even totally by purely political considerations in going against that consensus, would it not? Let’s hope it never happens …

Well, I am not a doctor, but I owe my life to the medical profession in Scotland, not once, but several times over the last year, and I experienced their dedication,  professionalism and deep humanity at first hand. I also saw how the abuse of alcohol in Scottish society overstretched them, consumed an inappropriate amount of scarce resources, and exposed them personally to violence and intimidation.

So in that respect at least, I feel that I have a right – and a duty - to speak.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

That Question Time ‘joke’ – an alternative view – and a YouTube exchange …

Hits are approaching the 10,000 mark on my QT clip of a couple of days ago. Overwhelmingly, they are critical of the remark, but some, including from SNP members, take a different view.

Here is a little exchange of views from yesterday and today that is fairly representative of the other viewpoint -

YouTube: QT Lancaster audience suggest dumping English nuclear waste in Scotland - and laugh

  • John Dryburgh

    John Dryburgh 18 hours ago

    I've never heard such moaning about what was clearly a joke. When did so many Scots lose their SOH? Over the years we've all probably laughed are far worse jokes about England than that. Get over it and yourselves.

    ·

  • TAofMoridura

    TAofMoridura 16 hours ago

    Have a laugh in China, John. We'll have a laugh in 2014.

    · in reply to John Dryburgh (Show the comment)

  • John Dryburgh

    John Dryburgh 3 hours ago

    That was a very well thought out and mature response - what's 2014 got to do with this thread. I'm also back living in Scotland now for a few years, just haven't updated my YT profile. I'm also a member of the SNP so I'll be laughing in 2014 as well, just like I'm laughing now.

    · in reply to TAofMoridura (Show the comment)

  • TAofMoridura

    TAofMoridura 1 hour ago

    Not a lot to respond to, John, hence the brevity. If you didn't update your location, don't blame me. What's 2014 got to do with it? Well, there's a referendum on Scotland's independence scheduled for then, hence the high interest in this clip. Hits for it are now approaching 10,000. Since the 'joke' wasn't that good, something else has motivated viewers. We don't have to guess what it was - read the comments. Said what I had to say about such 'jokes' on my blog. I'm former SNP member - NATO!

    · in reply to John Dryburgh (Show the comment)

  • John Dryburgh

    John Dryburgh 18 minutes ago

    Oh, you're THAT Moridura. Enough said then, don't want you throwing your teddy out again.

    · in reply to TAofMoridura (Show the comment)

  • TAofMoridura

    TAofMoridura 7 minutes ago

    Thanks for posting, John. I decided many decades ago that I could never be, or remain in a party that supported nuclear weapons or NATO. It was a view held by a couple of MSPs with a much longer party contribution and membership than mine, but clearly not one held by a large number.

  • Monday, 5 November 2012

    The Key Facts – all you need to know about Scotland’s independence and the referendum …

    I am an individual Scottish voter, I have no role within the SNP, and my opinions are my own. I am an SNP supporter but no longer a party member. I first published this in November 2011

    Here are the facts that I have heard from the SNP, in publicly available statements, from printed material, newspapers, periodicals and from the broadcast media – they have been freely available to every member of the Scottish electorate.

    I have no trouble understanding them, and I cannot imagine that any adult voter would have trouble understanding them. Frankly, a moderately intelligent 12-year old would understand them. But clearly the large sections of the media, politicians and spokespersons for unionist parties are either unable or unwilling to understand them.

    THE KEY FACTS, AS I UNDERSTAND THEM

    The SNP stated in its manifesto that, if elected, it would hold a consultative referendum on Scotland’s independence, with a YES/NO question. If the answer is YES, the Scottish voters will have mandated the Scottish Government to negotiate the timing and terms of securing Scotland’s independence with the UK Westminster Government.

    The Scottish Government will be fully mandated by the sovereign Scottish People to reach agreed terms in those negotiations, subject to core stated major policy positions, e.g. non-nuclear.

    The SNP has defined independence in exactly the same way as every independent democratic country in the world defines it – total freedom to act in the interests of Scotland in every aspect of Scottish life – law, defence and foreign policy, taxation and fiscal policy, public services, relations with other nations, etc.

    (No other nation in history has ever felt the need to explain to its people what independence meant in more detail than that, nor has any free people, even when suffering under non-democratic regimes, ever been in doubt what independence meant.)

    Only Scottish voters - as defined by normal criteria of eligibility to vote in Scottish and UK elections, plus new provisions for 16 and 16 year-olds - will be eligible to vote. Scottish, in this context, does not refer to country of birth or ethnic group but to eligibility to vote in Scottish elections.

    The referendum timing, legality and how other key questions will be handled have now been agreed in the historic referendum agreement with the UK Government.

    The SNP will establish relationships with other nations through normal diplomatic means, and will seek to be a part of relevant interest grouping with other nations, such as the European Union and the United Nations. There is no doubt whatsoever that one of the world’s oldest nations, one that has had made a major contribution to that world in every field of human endeavour, with a distinctive history and culture that is recognised instantly in every part of the globe, would be accepted into the European Union and the United Nations.

    The SNP will maintain a Scottish defence force and will protect the traditional identities of Scottish defence groupings. Serving members of the armed forces will be offered a free choice to either join Scottish defence forces or remain in UK defence forces.

    The SNP will be part of defence alliances that it considers relevant to Scotland’s defence interests, and to the maintenance of our democratic way of life, and will take part in international operations as part of a coalition of forces in pursuit of objectives with which it agrees.

    The SNP is committed to retaining the Queen -and her natural successors - as the constitutional monarch of Scotland.

    The SNP is committed equally to a strong, vibrant private sector and to first-rate public services, properly funded and supported in an independent Scotland.  The SNP sees the private sector and the public sector as being complementary vital parts of a civilised nation, of equal significance and status, and not as in competition for recognition or resources.

    The SNP is committed to supporting businesses large and small, and to the re-industrialisation of Scotland significantly based on alternative sources of renewable energy. The SNP is committed to supporting a strong, properly regulated and controlled financial and banking industry in Scotland. It is committed to supporting tourism and leisure. It is committed to free higher educations, and to fully supporting our world-class educational institution, ancient and modern.

    The SNP will retain sterling as its currency until such time as it may seem in the interests of Scotland to change that, and such a change would be put to the Scottish people in a referendum.

    The SNP will not join the Euro until it is in the interests of the people of Scotland to do so, and only after a referendum on joining the Euro.

    The SNP asserts that the Scottish People are sovereign.

    NOTE: In my original version of this, I reflected the anti-NATO policy.

    The policy on NATO membership changed on 19th October to one of seeking NATO membership, providing rUK and NATO accept a non-nuclear Scotland and the removal of Trident weapons systems from an independent Scotland.

    SUMMARY

    That’s all I really need to know to determine how I will vote in the referendum. My thanks to the Scottish Government and the SNP for keeping me and every other Scottish voter so fully and frankly informed.

    My reason for choosing the Scottish National Party to vote for in May 2007 and in May 2011 is that they are the only major party committed to delivering the independence of Scotland.

    (I have heard no coherent case for the preservation of the Union. Such conflicting arguments as have been offered have relied on a combination of vested interest groups, unelected bodies and individuals, nostalgia and emotionalism, scaremongering, indefensible statistics and a staggering lack of belief in and contempt for the Scottish people and their ability to run their own affairs.)

    My reasons for wishing to be independent are -

    the inability of the Union of 1707 ever to deliver equity and justice to all of the people of Scotland

    the fact that the United Kingdom is not, and never has been a true democracy, but a coalition of unelected wealth, power, privilege and special interest groups, notably the military/industrial complex allied to and controlling a compliant political class and legal establishment

    the staggering incompetence displayed in recent times (which I define as the last forty years) of all of the three main UK parties when in government, exemplified by the spectacular financial, fiscal, social and foreign policy incompetence displayed by the Labour Government 1997-2010 and currently being displayed by the Tory/LibDem Coalition since 2010.

    A core policy reason for my support for the SNP and independence is that it is the only way we can have a nuclear-free Scotland, and only the SNP and Scotland’s independence will deliver that.

    It therefore follows that my nuclear objectives cannot be delivered by anything short of independence, and therefore remaining in the UK but with radically increased powers – the devo max or full fiscal autonomy option cannot meet my requirements, nor that of many Scots voters.

    Wednesday, 29 August 2012

    Summer Cabinet in Renfrewshire – and NO to NATO representatives of demonstrators

     

    Summer Cabinet in Renfrewshire

    First Minister Alex Salmond and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meet with representatives of the anti-nuclear demonstration group. The meeting was held in the wake of the public discussion event at Renfrew Town Hall.

    Saturday, 21 July 2012

    The SNP, NATO and the end of a dream of a nuclear-free Scotland

    I thought this comment and my reply warranted being pulled out on to the blog. The comment, from someone I respect, resident in America, whose commitment to a vote for independence and a nuclear-free Scotland is unquestionable, gives me the opportunity to crystallise my present position.

    BLOG COMMENT AND REPLY

  • J. R. TomlinSaturday, July 21, 2012

    I am fairly rabidly anti-WMD, but I suppose I disagree with you in this. This IS something that should be debated and debated before the referendum campaign.
    It is the SNP's strength, not its weakness, that it can look at policies and bring them before their conference for open debate.

     

  • MoriduraSaturday, July 21, 2012

    Undoubtedly it should be debated, Jeanne - and it will be. Whether it can be categorised as open is another matter. It's backed by the party's strategist and defence spokesman, Angus Robertson. It's backed by Alex Salmond, the party's Superman. Dissenting voices are few, and muted (or being muted!) The party leadership simply can't afford to lose this vote, and they won't.

  • The party is in "Let's avoid dissent on everything until after independence - then everything will be alright" mood. But it won't be. There is a growing blandness in the party's approach and what they risk is not the loss of core activists campaigning and voting for YES (like me, in or out of party), but the increasing body of the uncommitted saying "So if so little will be different after independence, why not stay in the UK?" Without their votes, there will be no independence.

  • If the party votes to join/stay in NATO, I might see independence in my lifetime, but I will never see a nuclear-free Scotland. Trident decommissioning and removal will be at least 10 years away, perhaps 20 - and that means never – it will disappear into very long, polluted NATO/rUK grass.

  • Sorry to see you on the wrong side in this Jeanne, but at least you've got loads of company. I will be looking for a realignment on the Scottish Left (there is no such party - yet ...)

  • regards,
        Peter

  • Friday, 2 March 2012

    Douglas Alexander’s speech to conference - takes refuge in the fiction of Labour internationalism

    Douglas Alexander’s theme is simple – an independent Scotland would be narrowly nationalistic. The UK -  i.e. Labour in government or Labour influencing government in Westminster - is internationalist, not nationalistic.

    The central theme is untrue, and therefore everything that flows from it is untrue. From the flawed premise, the flawed conclusions flow, in a gooey mix of sentimentality and nostalgia, an anecdotal, selective mix, posing as history.

    The UK is a nation, behaves as a nation, but on occasion acts internationally from altruistic, internationalist motives. Scotland will be an independent nation, will behave as an independent nation, but on occasion, will act from altruistic, internationalist motives.

    The other argument, that the UK can be more effectively internationalist because of its greater size than Scotland is an argument that can be honestly advanced, even though the facts of history do not support it.

    Let’s take Alexander’s early examples -

    Does he think that the Scots who were part of the International Brigade to fight fascism would not have done so had Scotland been an independent country in the 1930s?

    Does he think that Scotland, never mind just the City of Glasgow would not have embraced Nelson Mandela in the 1980s? You have a short and selective memory, Douglas – I do not. The Glasgow decision was widely derided by the very nation he holds up for our admiration – the UK, still in the grip of its late Empire delusions and deeply confused about South Africa and Mandela. Of course an independent, internationalist, social democratic Scotland would have embraced Mandela.

    Does he think that the morality of Gordon Brown in working to write off the debt of the world’s poorest countries – an admirable morality that regrettably was not matched by his or his government’s economic competence in their own country – would not be the same morality that will drive an independent Scotland, an inclusive Scotland that will embrace the very same Labour people that once had such values, and who will recover and reassert them in the new Scotland.

    Does he think that an independent Scotland would not make the same demand that a Labour government made at the Gleneagles Summit in 2005? Of course it would, but more effectively than that Summit, when one considers what followed it – utter failure and near-global meltdown from 2008 onwards.

    Alexander asserts, with justification, that he and his parent’s horizons – “like millions of their fellow Scots” – were never limited to one community or one country. Nor will they be after independence, Douglas, especially when freed from the suffocating jingoism and Little Englandism that is the UK.

    And an independent Scotland will not express its wide international horizons by launching an illegal invasion and an illegal war that brought death and destruction to millions in Iraq, destabilised the Middle East and brought endemic terrorism and paranoia to the United Kingdom. Tony Blair’s immoral and destructive internationalism are carefully airbrushed out of Douglas Alexander’s high-minded and selective agenda.

    From the Eurozone Crisis to the Environment, from Export Markets to Mass Migration, interdependence – not independence - is the hallmark of our age.”

    So says Douglas – and he’s right. He has missed out the part that includes countries across the globe throwing off suffocating and corrupt regimes that stifle their instincts for a national independence allied to a recognition of true interdependence.

    Alexander is part of a nation that is the rump of an empire that denied all of these freedoms, and imposed its exploitative will for centuries on large tracts of our world – a rump that currently has a Coalition Government that is deeply divided over Europe and that very interdependence that he extols. And his own party is not free from such insularity and euro paranoia either.

    But Douglas Alexander does eventually drop the Labour –as-internationalist-party stuff, and gets to the nub of his real argument – bigger is better.

    DA:If we want to advance international cooperation: Britain has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. A separate Scotland would not.”

    Scotland at the moment has no influence at the moment as a result of that UN seat. It has had no influence under successive governments, and indeed it was the Labour Government of Blair and Brown that chose to ignore the UN and its mandate when they launched the Iraq War on a lie in conjunction with a right-wing American regime.

    DA:If we want to strengthen our collective security: Britain has a permanent seat on the Council of NATO.”

    The same arguments as above apply, Labour and Lord George Robertson notwithstanding. What has been delivered to Scotland by NATO? Defending it from a non-existent threat? Parking outmoded and strategically irrelevant WMDs in Scottish waters, making us a prime target for a nuclear exchange, and polluting our environment? Imposing a crippling financial burden on the UK as a whole and on  Scotland to support these weapons systems?

    I have already said a fair amount about the internationalist fiction that drives – and has driven Labour – for most of its history. The nonsensical contradictions of Labour’s internationalist posturing were evident in the post-war period and during the Cold War. They reached their nadir in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    See my blog of 10th January 2012 -

    Labour's last redoubt - internationalism

    Friday, 27 January 2012

    Part Two of the BBC Scotland referendum debate - 25th January 2012 - Burns Night. More clips from the debate

    Part Two of the BBC Scotland referendum debate - 25th January 2012 - Burns Night.

    Johann Lamont MSP - Leader of Scottish Labour Party

    Nicola Sturgeon MSP - Deputy First Minister of Scotland

    Lord Wallace of Tankerness - Advocate General of Scotland - UK LibDem/Tory Coalition

    Lesley Riddoch - journalist, broadcaster and commentator

    Note: The Advocate General is the British Crown's legal representative/watchdog in Scotland. It is a political appointment.

    Jim Wallace - Baron Wallace of Tankerness - is a former LibDem politician who was in coalition with Labour in the Scottish Parliament. He is currently an unelected Lord, represents a party with 5 MSPs in Holyrood, and the junior partner LibDems in the UK Tory-led, Tory-dominated Coalition Government.

    If a UK general election were held tomorrow, the LibDems, deeply discredited and unpopular across the UK, would be wiped out as they were in the 2011 Scottish election.



    The Scottish Passport question - asked genuinely by a member of the audience - is actually one of the other scare stories of the UK - borders, checkpoints, Hadrian's Wall, and passport problems. At least the panel recognised the irrelevancy of this point.

     


    Two members of the audience tell it like it is - on unionist negativity and scaremongering, and the centrality of the nuclear questions and WMDs.

    "He looks like a relic, he talks like a relic, he doesn't talk like young people - and they want an end to this" Addressed to the hapless Baron of Tankerness, who did himself no favours with his lamentable performance in this debate.

    I feel sorry for Jim Wallace - branded as "a relic" at 58 years of age. I'm a helluva lot older than he is, but I hope I'm not a relic, and if I am, I hope I'm still a relevant relic to young people in Scotland, because they own the future.


    Saor Alba!

    Monday, 2 January 2012

    Nuclear bases, nuclear subs and Trident–a complex defence question for independence

    The Today programme of Friday 30th December 2011, focusing on the defence implications of independence, with contributions by Lord Forsyth, Lord West, First Sea Lord and Angus Robertson MP seems to me a highly significant marker on the course to Scotland’s independence.

    It illustrates how media works in this new media age, and Marshall McLuhan’s prescient words of over half a century ago acquire new force every day.  The Today programme on BBC Radio Four goes out in the early morning. It catches the early morning commuters who listen to something important in the morning than the turgid sea of mediocre to awful pop groups that seems to obsess so many young to not-so-young professionals (if Twitter is anything to go by) who should have developed better taste by this time.

    I tend to miss it, because when I listen to radio at that time, it tends to be BBC Radio Scotland. I was alerted to this broadcast on the iPlayer by Twitter. I replayed it on the iPlayer and it seemed fairly interesting to me, but it was clearly necessary to isolate the three contributions from the totality of the three hour programme, scattered like currents in a dumpling as they were, and group them as a single sound clip for comparison purposes. This forced me to listen again, and I found new aspects second time around. I then prepared them as a YouTube sound clip, which involved another listening, and a third level of understanding.

    I decided to then isolate the Angus Robertson contribution to permit rapid access for those who only wanted to hear the SNP position, and this fourth listening revealed new nuances.

    This then led me to transcribing the broadcast clips for the purpose of commenting in my blog, and this slow process involved yet another level of understanding.

    So what started out as a series of radio studio comments early in the morning – one medium, the broadcast spoken word became a second medium, the repeat on iPlayer, a third medium, the YouTube sound clips and a fourth medium, good old fashioned text – the written word.

    The kernel of the broadcast for me was the nuclear issue – in more ways than one – because it matters fundamentally to me, and bluntly, to the world. It again clarified in my mind the vital distinction between nuclear-powered submarines not carrying WMDs and those that do – the delivery system for the obscene Trident weapons system.

    Cutting through all the sentimental crap about Britishness and British identity, about fiscal and financial matters, this is what matters to the British Establishment – their nukes, the badge of their power, their claim to being a global power, and frankly, a money machine for the whole sordid apparatus of Westminster, the M.O.D. and the military/industrial complex. Trident is the ultimate symbol of the deliberately paranoia-inducing Unionist state, the state with its operating principle as perpetual war, perpetual fear of a nameless aggressor. This is what they fear losing, this is why Scotland’s independence strikes terror in their hearts.

    And that is why Scotland must lose its WMDs – its nuclear bases. But –the picture is not a simple one. I have reprinted below my September blog on the nuclear-powered subs vs nuclear-powered subs carrying missiles aspect of this debate, crucial to the UK, to the US, to NATO and crucial to Scotland.

     

    NUCLEAR (My blog of 22nd September 2011)

    The nuclear lobby has been lying low since Fukushima, after an initial bout of futile propaganda, but they’ve crept out of their nuclear shelters since then, and are beginning the insidious fightback – radiation’s not so bad really, it may even be good for you, the real threat to humanity is wind farms polluting the landscape, alternative energy will never work, the wind doesn’t always blow, the waves don’t always wave, etc.

    The symbiotic twin of nuclear energy, the WMD industry, is also out and about, alarmed at the prospect of losing their WMD dumping ground, Scotland, and the vital submarine bases. I was more than disturbed that the SNP government seems to be rather less hostile to nuclear submarines and appeared to be welcoming the retention of nuclear submarine bases in Scotland as part of the defence-as-job-creation scheme thinking that regularly pollutes and distorts rational debate of defence matters.

    Now I accept that there are difficult moral questions when one comes to weaponry, because it is designed to kill and maim other human beings, and the scale of horror from, say, the flamethrower, designed to burn alive another human to the baton, designed to inflict a sore head, involves moral dilemmas and choices even in individual cases. Unless one rejects all defence concepts for a nation and all conventional weaponry – I don’t – choices have to be made.

    When one comes to the incinerations of millions and the pollution of the planet, human imagination quails, and human morality often fails. I am become Death – the destroyer of worlds.” The Bhagavad Gita, quoted by Robert Oppenheimer as the full horror of what the implications of his work dawned on him as he observed the first nuclear explosion. This choice should be simple, and for me and many others, it is – starkly simple.

    But as a nuclear-powered submarine is not a weapon in itself – it is the carrier of a weapon or weapons system, and the nuclear reactor that powers it is not a weapon – why should we object to it, especially if it provides jobs?

    Well firstly, I reject the defence as job creation scheme argument, and believe that defence policy and expenditure should be based solely on defence considerations. But the UK is deeply in the grip of the military/industrial complex and the armaments industry, and all our politicians are infected by this kind of thinking. It is the kind of thinking that powers graft and corruption wherever and whenever it occurs.

    Secondly, I believe the retention of nuclear-power submarines in Scotland is the thin edge of a nuclear wedge – it compromises the SNP’s position on nuclear power and WMDs.

    Nuclear power is unacceptably dangerous. A young serviceman, armed and drunk, attacked his shipmates and killed his officer on a nuclear submarine recently. He has just been sentenced to 25 years for this crime. A recent television documentary on nuclear subs showed a crew member being disciplined for drunkenness on board the the sub. It’s not so long ago since two armed nuclear subs crashed into each other on the high seas.

    This is the nuclear reality that nuclear proponents would like to slide over, with their emphasis on the safety of the systems and procedures. No system is safe against human fallibility, against human error, not to mention human greed and corruption in defence and civil nuclear contracts in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment. The nuclear error is one that humanity cannot afford to make – other errors pale into insignificance beside it. But we have politicians who are the moral and intellectual equivalent of a five-year old playing with a loaded gun or a live grenade.

    Keep nuclear, in all its manifestation, out of our new Scotland.




    Saturday, 17 December 2011

    An open letter to Johann Lamont

    Dear Johann Lamont,

    Congratulations on winning the leadership of your party in Scotland. I hope that your win gives you a clear mandate among all Scottish Labour supporters, and that it is perceived as a valid mandate to lead the main opposition to my party, the SNP, who received a very clear mandate to govern Scotland last May. It is vital that your mandate is seen in this way not only by Labour supporters but by the Scottish Government, by the SNP, by the other opposition parties and by the Scottish electorate.

    The only way to ensure this is to publish as soon as possible the full, detailed breakdown of the votes cast in the leadership election, in the interests of transparency in Scottish politics. (I am confident that you will wish to do so, indeed, by the time this blog comes up, you may already have done so.)

    I listened to your acceptance speech closely, because as a committed SNP supporter, voter and party member, I believe that the existence of an effective opposition in any Parliament is vital to democracy. I was a Labour supporter for most of my life, and I will never return to Labour because of the depth of the betrayal of all my hopes and expectations over decades by the Labour Party as constituted up until this election.

    But I do believe that you, and at least some in the Scottish Labour Party want to make a new beginning and to place the interests of Scotland first. You outlined in your acceptance speech a vision statement for Scotland. Few Scots of any party would disagree with the bulk of its content, and for that reason, it could have been made by any party leader, at any time, in almost any country.

    I don’t want to appear to suggest that it was an empty ‘motherhood and apple pie’ statement – I do believe that you are committed to these ideals and broad objectives, and so am I. And I am delighted that you and Scottish Labour appear to have rediscovered your Scottishness.

    But given this consensus on what we all want for Scotland, it is evident that what gives our respective parties their identity is the means by which these objectives are to be achieved. If my memory serves me accurately, you and other members of the Labour Party have accused the SNP of stealing your vision. That was unfair and inaccurate – we have closely similar visions because we are both social democratic parties, committed to a strong, effective public sector and a vibrant, entrepreneurial private sector.

    In a certain kind of Scotland, the SNP and the Labour Party could recognise a shared vision while differing vigorously on key aspects of achieving that vision. We both recognise that the Tory vision as presently exhibited in all its uncaring, incompetent awfulness, is inimical to the interests of Scotland, and indeed the peoples of the UK. The LibDem vision has been badly – perhaps fatally – compromised by their poisoned and supine alliance with the Tories in Coalition.

    But there is a great yawning gulf between your vision as outlined today and the Scottish National Party’s vision, and that gulf is created by your commitment to keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom. At this moment, this profoundly mistaken policy – the only real one you have at the moment – is main barrier to your achievement of Labour’s new Scottish vision.

    The reasons for this are plain to see, and the Scottish electorate understood them plainly last May, and voted accordingly. I accept that not all of that vote was a vote for Scotland's independence, but it was decisively a vote for Scotland holding all the economic levers necessary to transform Scotland, indeed the the pressing need at the moment is to have them to enable Scotland to survive the cold, cold global wind that is blowing.

    But there are other great barriers between us while you and Scottish Labour are committed to the UK – they are nuclear weapons, i.e. weapons of mass destruction, foreign policy and the unelected, undemocratic House of Lords, now perceived by many Scots as the lucrative bolthole for failed politicians, including Scottish Labour politicians.

    While Scottish Labour is committed to the UK, it will be seen by many Scots as the party that supports illegal or dubious wars that kill the flower of our young servicemen and women, the party that is committed to ruinously expensive WMDs that endanger Scotland by their presence - and pose an ever-present threat to world  peace - and the party that is committed to the undemocratic House of Lords, whatever hollow statements about reform, never acted upon, may say.

    A great watershed in Scotland’s history is approaching – the referendum on Scotland’s independence – a pivotal moment in our history that will shape Scotland and the other three countries of the UK for a generation and perhaps for ever.

    As we approach that fateful day, it is vital that all parties with a core shared vision for the people of Scotland approach the great debate that will be continuously conducted from now on with objectivity, with facts, with some degree of mutual respect, with the common objective of allowing the Scottish electorate all the information they need to make their great choice.

    That need not – and will not – inhibit vigour in debate, but if we can draw on the great intellectual political and social traditions that have always characterised Scots and Scotland, we can offer Scottish voters a real, rational choice.

    I wish you and your party well in this new and critical era. I cannot of course wish you electoral success in local elections next year, nor in the referendum when it comes.

    from one Weegie tae another – awra’ best,

    Peter Curran




    Scottish Labour Leadership Results
    December 17, 2011 2:59 pm


    Leadership result:


    Deputy Leadership result:


    Friday, 18 November 2011

    FMQs, sketch writers, and hounding the Wee Lord of Islay

    Most newspapers carry as part of their political coverage a political sketch column. These are intended as a lighter note to the portentously-titled analysis pieces, and usually try to strike a humorous or satirical note – often rather leaden humour – but they sometimes also serve as vehicles for the sketch writer and, who knows, the newspaper itself to give full rein to blatant bias under a cloak of jollity.

    Since abandoning the Scotsman to its fate, a paper which is in decline into irrelevance as a serious newspaper, I have for the moment replaced it with the Times. This choice was dictated by the fact that its layout is impeccable, and it comes in a Scottish edition, whose Scottishness unfortunately does not extend to its Letters page.

    It also comes with Angus Macleod, who rarely lets his unionism get in the way of facts, because he is a fine journalist.

    But back to the sketch columns, which today in the Herald and the Times both cover yesterday’s FMQs at Holyrood. Holyrood FMQs, for all its vigour, is a model of good democratic theatre, as contrasted with the baying mobs on the green benches of Westminster, and in the last term, 2007-2011, it had four fine lead actors in the weekly mini-soap, expertly cast – the rumbustious hero/villain (dependent on your political orientation) Alex Salmond, the dour, humourless villain/hero Iain Gray, a feisty heroine in Annabel Goldie and a smoothly irrelevant nice guy in Tavish Scott.

    These four principals, together with some interesting support actors, provided ready material for the sketch writers, as did the finely balanced plot of a minority government struggling to stay afloat in a boat where the three other parties were in a semi-permanent state of near-mutiny, conspiring against the Captain, who despite his vulnerability, kept lashing them unmercifully. Annabel seemed to like this, Tavish didn’t and Iain Gray took it with a sullen stoicism.

    Alas, the soap is now based on a new ship, with the Captain firmly in charge, having decisively put down the mutineers and packed the vessel with his own loyal crew. Iain Gray has been told by his party that he has been written out of the script, and just has the residual role of dying in a suitable spectacular manner until a replacement is found. Annabel has been replaced by a Parliamentary newcomer, a young actress who made her name in kung-fu movies, but is otherwise inexperienced. Her fellow actors didn’t want her – the one they wanted is sullenly hiding at the back of the boat – and this leaves her expecting attack from the rear as well as the front.

    In replacing Tavish, the casting director has gone for someone at least as ineffectual but also lacking in presence. The fact that he is named after a popular brand of antacid hasn’t helped, and he leads a tiny, shrunken, demoralised band. Not much for the sketch writers yet.

    Magnus Linklater in the Times deals with this by pretending he has watched a different FMQs to the rest of us, which I suppose was the only coping strategy open to a unionist. In the episode he watched, which nobody else has seen, Iain Gray is the hero – serious, with an air of decency about him, he rise to the challenge, and delivers rejoinders with great passion and great effect. The First Minister of Scotland, the overwhelming choice of the electorate, in contrast, has weaknesses in his truculent arguments, is supported by a backbench clique – he bridles at criticism deliver by our hero Iain, he has standard Salmond lines, etc.

    The only problem with your review of this episode of FMQs, Magnus, is that no one else has seen it, only you. It must have been a discarded pilot, run by mistake on a minority channel. Or perhaps it was a Dallas fantasy dream sequence, and you and Iain will now awaken to the Gray reality on November 2011. The electorate may view the real episode for themselves, in fact, I may link – later




    Ian Bell does a more objective job in the Herald, and keeps his powder dry. Rather like Angus Macleod, he does not let his nostalgia for that old-time socialist religion get in the way of the facts. But Ian is unhappy about the way that Scotland is going – he just makes a better job of hiding it than Magnus Linklater.

    LORD ROBERTSON OF PORT ELLEN

    I am delighted to support the wee Lord of Islay’s claim that SNP critics hound him. Here I come Geordie, baying after your scent …

    The noble Lord, whose life has been immeasurably enriched by his close association with the weapons of war and the merchants of death, especially the nuclear deterrent aka weapons of mass destruction, sees NATO as a job creation scheme for Scottish industry, rather than as a paranoid defence organisation. Why question the purpose of the armaments or their relationship to any real defence need, or the price in blood that must be paid for them when they are such an unfailing source of jobs to Scotland, not to mention lucrative directorships and consultancies to politicians? How else is a wee boy from Islay going to get to be a Lord? Ask John Reid, he knows – or ask Liam Fox, a wee boy from East Kilbride. No, on second thought, don’t ask Liam Fox – he never made it to the Lords, although he was well on his way. Shame, that …

    So he warns Scotland of the terrible consequences of attempting to be a free nation, to have defence forces appropriate to its real defence needs, to be free of the intolerable financial and moral burdens of WMDs, to stop sending its young men and women to die in the foreign wars that are so necessary to the profit machine called the military/industrial complex.

    Of course, they are not consequences, they are empty threats, designed to intimidate a free people and suppress their democratic instincts .

    But then, that’s what British foreign policy is all about, isn’t it, Geordie?

    Oh, my sweet Lord – with apologies to George Harrison.

    EXTRACT FROM 24th September 2011 BLOG

    But of course, the high road to England has been the glittering prize for ambitious Scottish Labour Party politicians, and indeed all Scottish politicians with the exception of the SNP – a route to Westminster, ministerial office and ultimately the Lords, the final escape from democracy and the tedious need to get elected to make money. They have the shining Labour examples from the past to inspire them – Lord George Foulkes, Lord Martin, the disgraced former Speaker, Lord McConnell, Lord Watson, convicted of fire-raising in a Scottish hotel, Baroness Adams, once distinguished as having the highest expenses of any member of the Lords, despite having spoken in the Upper chamber only once (2009), Lord Reid, Lord Robertson – the list goes on.

    However, the last two are interesting, since they were both Scottish Labour MPs who became UK Secretaries of State for Defence, and in Lord Robertson’s case, grasped the even more glittering prize of Secretary General of NATO.

    It is fair to say that no such exalted – and highly lucrative – posts would ever be open to a Scottish MP who decided to devote himself or herself solely to the interests of the people who elected them to Westminster, and are certainly not open to those who decided to become MSPS and serve the Scottish people in Scotland.

    Now the most ambitious Labour MPs – and MSPs - grasp these essential facts very rapidly indeed, and at the earliest opportunity get the hell out of Scotland and as far away from the realities of the day-to-day lives of their constituents as possible. While Springburn crumbled into even greater dereliction and poverty than that which had been the legacy of decades as a Labour fiefdom, Michael Martin was sitting in the Speaker’s chair, acting as shop steward for the MPs who were ripping off the taxpayer through the expenses system.

    George Islay MacNeill Robertson left Islay as fast as possible, and despite being elected six times as MP for either Hamilton or Hamilton South, moved swiftly to more exalted UK posts, and ultimately to NATO. He now bristles with directorships and consultancies.

    John Reid, MP of Motherwell North and then Airdrie and Shotts soon saw the attractions of the classic route to power – Secretary of State for Scotland and Secretary of State for Defence, and held numerous other Cabinet posts besides. A former Communist and a product of a very rough realpolitik Labour environment, he once described the Labour Party in 1983 as "Leaderless, unpatriotic, dominated by demagogues, policies 15 years out of date". Twenty eight years on, his description still more or less fits. But he saw the light and the road to power, prestige, wealth and a Lordship very clearly indeed, and the rewards have been substantial indeed for the Baron of Cardowan.

    Thursday, 22 September 2011

    Racism, music – and the nuclear submarines in Scotland.

    Racism is an odd beast – laughable in its atavistic – and usually illiterate – certainties, but frightening in its possibilities. I’ve dealt with two examples in the last 24 hours, one from a ScotNat, the kind of supporter my party, or indeed any party can do without. The other was a strange one -

    I went into GuitarGuitar at Corstorphine yesterday, and my eye was caught by a bangitar – a hybrid instrument, consisting of a banjo body and resonator affixed to a guitar neck, with six strings, unlike the banjo’s four or five. It is tuned like a guitar, and offers guitarists the opportunity to instantly play the banjo with guitar fingering – or so it would seem. I have a five string banjo (both my guitar and banjo skills are rudimentary), but I was in enough trouble with the guitar, as a sax and clarinet player, so I gave up on banjo stringing and tuning, took off the fifth string, and retuned as the top four strings of the guitar. This works reasonably well for me, but it’s definitely not right …

    So I went on to YouTube in search of banjitar advice, most of which was either sales pitches from manufacturers, or enthusiastic new purchasers, “I’ve just bought my banjitar and it’s great!” etc. But one site – I won’t identify it – offered bangitar lessons, the guy was knowledgeable, and he offered the insight I needed – that the bangitar, played as a guitar, sounded crap, and the only way to make it sound good was to master banjo picking and strumming styles. He was right, and I was grateful, but there was a jarring note. He said “The banjitar is a kinda half-bred thing – a bit like Obama!” and he laughed. I offered the comment that it was a pity he had made such a racist remark, and asked if it was really necessary. This produced a torrent of abuse, and the information that I was blocked. He followed up this morning with another, even more abusive comment on my YouTube profile. (He is now blocked by me.) Ah, the American Deep South Republican Right – good ole boys – a pickin’, a pluckin’ and a lynchin’.

     

    NUCLEAR

    The nuclear lobby has been lying low since Fukushima, after an initial bout of futile propaganda, but they’ve crept out of their nuclear shelters since then, and are beginning the insidious fightback – radiation’s not so bad really, it may even be good for you, the real threat to humanity is wind farms polluting the landscape, alternative energy will never work, the wind doesn’t always blow, the waves don’t always wave, etc.

    The symbiotic twin of nuclear energy, the WMD industry, is also out and about, alarmed at the prospect of losing their WMD dumping ground, Scotland, and the vital submarine bases. I was more than disturbed that the SNP government seems to be rather less hostile to nuclear submarines and appeared to be welcoming the retention of nuclear submarine bases in Scotland as part of the defence-as-job-creation scheme thinking that regularly pollutes and distorts rational debate of defence matters.

    Now I accept that there are difficult moral questions when one comes to weaponry, because it is designed to kill and maim other human beings, and the scale of horror from, say, the flamethrower, designed to burn alive another human to the baton, designed to inflict a sore head, involves moral dilemmas and choices even in individual cases. Unless one rejects all defence concepts for a nation and all conventional weaponry – I don’t – choices have to be made.

    When one comes to the incinerations of millions and the pollution of the planet, human imagination quails, and human morality often fails. I am become Death – the destroyer of worlds.” The Bhagavad Gita, quoted by Robert Oppenheimer as the full horror of what the implications of his work dawned on him as he observed the first nuclear explosion. This choice should be simple, and for me and many others, it is – starkly simple.

    But as a nuclear-powered submarine is not a weapon in itself – it is the carrier of a weapon or weapons system, and the nuclear reactor that powers it is not a weapon – why should we object to it, especially if it provides jobs?

    Well firstly, I reject the defence as job creation scheme argument, and believe that defence policy and expenditure should be based solely on defence considerations. But the UK is deeply in the grip of the military/industrial complex and the armaments industry, and all our politicians are infected by this kind of thinking. It is the kind of thinking that powers graft and corruption wherever and whenever it occurs.

    Secondly, I believe the retention of nuclear-power submarines in Scotland is the thin edge of a nuclear wedge – it compromises the SNP’s position on nuclear power and WMDs.

    Nuclear power is unacceptably dangerous. A young serviceman, armed and drunk, attacked his shipmates and killed his officer on a nuclear submarine recently. He has just been sentenced to 25 years for this crime. A recent television documentary on nuclear subs showed a crew member being disciplined for drunkenness on board the the sub. It’s not so long ago since two armed nuclear subs crashed into each other on the high seas.

    This is the nuclear reality that nuclear proponents would like to slide over, with their emphasis on the safety of the systems and procedures. No system is safe against human fallibility, against human error, not to mention human greed and corruption in defence and civil nuclear contracts in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment. The nuclear error is one that humanity cannot afford to make – other errors pale into insignificance beside it. But we have politicians who are the moral and intellectual equivalent of a five-year old playing with a loaded gun or a live grenade.

    Keep nuclear, in all its manifestation, out of our new Scotland.


    Sunday, 1 May 2011

    The Nuclear and Trident horror story that is Scottish Labour–the WMD party

    One of two parties will form the next government of Scotland - the Labour party, puppet party of UK Labour, or the Scottish National Party under Alex Salmond.

    Labour is committed to nuclear power, new nuclear power stations, Trident, nuclear weapons and WMDs - to hazard, pollution, death and destruction of all you know and love.

    The SNP is utterly opposed to all of these things.

    Be clear on May 5th in the polling booth where your future, the future of your families and the future of Scotland lies.



    If you vote Labour, you deliver Scotland into potential nuclear catastrophe - another Chernobyl or Fukushima - and to the continuation of Scotland as a nuclear dump, with WMDs (Trident) in our Scottish waters, threatening an equally appalling nuclear risk, making us a prime target for terrorists and a nuclear strike

    Vote SNP - on BOTH ballot papers - for a nuclear-free Scotland, a peaceful Scotland, a clean, pollution-free Scotland - and for a dynamic new, clean era of renewable energy, revitalising Scotland with new jobs and new industry, leading the world by utilising our natural resources of wind and wave power.

    Cast BOTH your votes for the SNP - no second choices, only two clear-cut votes for the SNP and the future of Scotland - your country, your homeland, your nation - your people.

    Both Votes SNP on May 5th – two ballot papers -

    Two votes for the SNP


    Monday, 4 April 2011

    Andrew Neil advances the arguments for Scotland’s independence

    Andrew Neil, of whom I rather prematurely made some complimentary comments on my blogs recently, has entered the arena with all gun's blazing last night on Newsnight and today in The Daily Politics.

    All pretence at objective journalism has gone in the lead-up to May 5th, and his native Scottishness is forgotten - the Union is under threat again, not to mention screw-the-poor, favour-the-rich Toryism, so the glove are off. The London media suddenly remember the postern gate to their failing empire, the Disunited UK, and scrabble vainly to understand Scotland

    But, as with so many attacks on Scotland's commitment to serve its people through first-rate public services and social benefits - coupled as they always are with sneers at the UK block grant to Scotland, and cries of "How will they pay for it all?" - it is self-defeating, because it reminds Scots of what they have and how they differ fundamentally from the UK, and manages at the same time to infuriate English voters at the perceived 'unfairness' of it all.

    This creates a gradual groundswell for an independent England - all grist to the Scottish independence mill.

    Keep going, Andrew, keep digging in your Tory hole - and keep trotting out the bearded one, Alan Cochrane, growling in his basso profundo,  shaking his head and expressing his bewilderment at why his countrymen don't embrace Tory values of screw the poor, suck up to the rich and privileged.

    Andrew Neil also says there is nothing between Labour and the SNP - no real issues. Nothing that is except Scotland’s independence, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, WMDs in Scottish waters, and the unelected House of Lords, etc.

    Of course these are minor issues to metropolitan media types, especially rich ones like Neil. They are also just a little inconvenient …

    You're doing a grand job, Andra - keep it up!

    Saor Alba!

    Tuesday, 29 March 2011

    Happy Holyrood Tweeting time - clear blue water between SNP and Labour!

    moridura Peter Curran

    One of the clear blue water issues between Labour and SNP: SNP is for clear blue water in Scotland, Labour is for pollution, WMDs and cancer

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    Bookies odds against SNP on May 5th: The odds will have shortened even more since the news of Fukushima radiation pollution in Glasgow today

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    @SNPyouth @snpstudents Don't forget to visit what was 10 Ardenlea St. Dalmarnock - the Jaconelli's home for 35 years, destroyed by Labour

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    "It is unbelievable that some candidates in the Scottish election still argue that we should build new nuclear power stations ." Glasgow CND

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    "If radiation from Japan can be detected in Glasgow then nowhere in the world is immune from the effects of a nuclear accident" CND Glasgow

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #May5th Don't forget Margaret! Glasgow Labour attacks the working class - dawn raid by 60 police http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TwrA1MCz2o

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #May5thdebate Tonight's party debate on STV - will nuclear pollution be on the agenda? Will the party leaders be wearing radiation suits?

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #nuclearGlasgow STV - looks like same story - we are expected to accept a reassurance from Sean, weather forecaster? Get your Geiger out -

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #nuclearGlasgow How will STV Scottish news covers the Glasgow radiation pollution from Fukushima - more nuclear-friendly reassurances? NOW!

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #nuclearGlasgow Am I scaremongering! Of course I am - we should all be scared - of nuclear pollution and nuclear Scottish Labour. Vote SNP!

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #nuclearGlasgow Wait for the nuclear shills - anonymous PR fronts for the industry - and Labour - to make their desperate justifications.

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #nuclearGlasgow Much fuller report on STV, but still play it down. It's not the danger, it's the implications - NUCLEAR KNOW NO BOUNDARIES!

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    @georgegalloway and don't forget your Geiger counter and a bottle of iodine, George. Glasgow nuclear radiation will get worse under Labour!

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #nuclearGlasgow At last - brief, but with speedy reassurance(!) Get your Geiger out, Jackie, find some iodine, and don't vote nuclear Labour

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #nuclearGlasgow Not a dickie bird from Jackie Bird so far. Maybe it will be buried at the end. So will Scots if they let nuclear Labour in!

    2 hours ago Favorite Reply Delete

    »

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #nuclear Let's see if Fukushima nuclear pollution in Glasgow reaches the Scottish BBC news - coming up right now. Watch - it's your life.

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #nuclear Only the SNP can deliver a nuclear-free Scotland. May5 -one step closer to free Scotland, with its own nuclear and defence policy.

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    No man is an island unto himself alone - John Donne knew it, but Labour nuclear polluters and bombers think Scotland is. Don't let them in!

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    @STVNews It doesn't surprise me, but it sure as hell will surprise Labour - wait for the cover-up statements downplaying it form Iain Gray!

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #May5 Scottish anti-nuclear trades unionists - Labour won't stop it - they're actively in favour of it. CND won't stop them, but the SNP can

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #May5 Radiation from Fukushima detected in Glasgow - low, but significant. Labour wants to generate pollution and radiation closer to home.

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #May5 50 years of marching and protesting by CND have failed to stop the nuclear plague, but an independent Scottish Government can and will

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #May5th Invisible and lethal pollution, threatening Scotland for generations - Labour's nuclear and WMD links. Don't let them in - Vote SNP!

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    Clear blue water between SNP and Labour - the unpolluted waters of Scotland! Labour=nuclear+WMDs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9py0s3vgEf4

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    #May5 Now we know - Labour = nuclear plants, nuclear pollution, WMDs and "Let the Tories have our oil revenue while Scots suffer." Vote SNP!

    Peter Curran

    moridura Peter Curran

    Scotland's future is at stake - and Scots have realised it - new poll results. The Force is with us! moridura.blogspot.com/2011/03/future… via @moridura

    Sunday, 13 March 2011

    ‘The Politics Show’ Scotland with Isabel Fraser and Alex Salmond

    Scotland is at the crossroads on May 5th - make the right decision, Scots voters - your world will unravel unless you do.

    This is a pivotal election for Scotland - don't let your distaste for the contemptible ConLib Coalition push you back into the incompetent, uncaring hands of the Labour Party, who compounded the global banking crisis by their ineptitude and short-termism.

    Labour is the party of Iraq, of Afghanistan, of WMDs and of poverty, degradation and death for for the lives and hopes of Scots.

    Disenchanted LibDems! - don't let your disappointment with your party push you into the hands of Labour - it's the SNP that shares your values, not the Labour Party.

    Vote for the SNP on May 5th – the party of Scotland and the Scottish people.


    Monday, 10 January 2011

    The Scottish Census 2011 and the Military/Industrial complex

    At the end of November, I became aware that the UK government had awarded a contract for data gathering for the 2011 census in England and Wales to Lockheed Martin Corporation of Maryland USA - Trident missile manufacturer.

    There were a number of reasons to be concerned about this, and my concern was shared by  a group of eminent scientists and other interested parties.

    Firstly, Lockheed Martin Corporation of Maryland USA is the manufacturer of Trident Missiles for the UK Government. Given the Scottish Government’s resolute opposition to Trident missiles and to their being based in Scotland, this alone in my view was reason enough not to award Scottish government contracts to Lockheed Martin or to any subsidiary company owned by it.

    Secondly, American companies are obliged by law to disclose on request to US Government agencies, including the CIA and the FBI, any confidential information held by them that might be deemed relevant to national security, i.e. anything.

    But my third and most serious concern is the insidious way in which the military/industrial complex subverts the moral consciousness of governments, trades unions and ordinary voters, and the very nature of democracy itself  by the offer of industrial investment and jobs.

    I believe in legitimate defence of the Scottish nation, and in conventional defence forces and armaments, but I abhor the use of defence jobs as job creation schemes to induce tacit participation in, and compliance with the foreign policy of the United States and of the UK as its compliant ally. This is exactly the insidious perversion of democracy that former US President and distinguished American WW2 general Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against when he pointed out the dangers of the military/industrial complex.

     Moridura Twitter/blog on the Census

    26th Nov. 2010 - email from moridura@gmail.com to the Office for National Statistics, which was referred by them to the Census Director for Scotland - Peter.Scrimgeour@gro-scotland.gsi.gov.uk

    Can you please let me know if Lockheed Martin Corporation of Maryland, USA has been awarded the contract for data gathering for the 2011 census?

    I assume that I don't need to submit a freedom of information request to obtain this information. If for any reason you are unable to confirm who has been awarded this contract, please tell me how I may find the information.

    As a citizen and householder in the UK who will be required to complete the census form, I believe I am legally entitled to this information.

    I received a reply on the 2nd of December, as follows -

    Your email of 26 November to  2011censusmedia@ONS has been passed to me since the Office for National Statistics (ONS) took the view that, being a Scottish resident, it was the Census in Scotland that you were likely to be interested in. In Scotland the Census  is the responsibility of the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS), not the ONS. GROS has awarded no contract in relation to the 2011 Census to the Lockheed Martin Corporation of Maryland, USA.

    If, on the other hand, it is the Census in England and Wales that you are interested in, I suggest that you email 2011censusmedia@ONS again, stressing this point.

    Yours sincerely,
    Peter Scrimgeour
    Census Director
    GROS

    I was reassured by this, and while my concern remained for the English and Welsh census, I felt sure that Scotland would not be so foolish as to award a contract to a company with such links. I should have looked more closely at the list of British companies who were being considered for the census contract. Among them was a company called CACI. The first link below makes it clear what CACI is and what it does: the second is CACI in 2009  referring to Scottish suppliers ( brightsolid and dns) which it had chosen to to deliver data gathering and processing for the Scottish census after CACI (UK)'s appointment last year by the General Register Office for Scotland which is responsible for taking Scotland's census.

    What are we left with? I had initially believed that CACI (UK) was a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, but I can find no evidence of this. It is, however, a wholly owned subsidiary of CACI International Inc. which is subject  to exactly the same requirements of data disclosure by the US Government.

    However admirable the two Scottish companies, brightsolid and dns are, however high their ethical policies are, and however apparently stringent the legislation is prohibiting the disclosure of confidential information from the census, they are now inextricably linked, as is the Scottish Government, to the highest levels of the US military industrial complex through CACI (UK) and CACI International Inc. - to a giant defence corporation with its HQ in Arlington, Virginia, a company that was deeply involved in American operations in Iraq, notably in the notorious Abu Ghraib.

    There are those who will respond with some irritation to all this by saying that this is the reality of global business in the modern world, and that the UK and Scotland must be involved or risk being marginalised economically.

    I say that it cannot be beyond the technical ability of independent Scottish companies to carry out the data gathering requirements and the analytical requirements of the Scottish census without being sucked into this web of dependency upon a foreign power with a foreign policy of total and perpetual conflict and war, and it cannot be beyond the competence, wit and ingenuity of the Scottish Government to avoid such entanglements.   And I do not want my personal data to be in the hands of these companies.

    CACI defence contracts

    CACI on the Scottish census

    Here’s what CACI have to say about security of data -

    EXTRACT

    As part of their contracts, brightsolid and dns - like CACI (UK) - will abide by confidentiality guarantees, mandated by Scotland's census legislation and the Data Protection Act. These are designed to ensure that people can be certain that the personal information they provide for the census will be kept absolutely secure.

    And here’s what CACI (UK) says about job creation -

    EXTRACT

    The appointments fit with CACI (UK)'s policy to purposely choose Scottish suppliers to ensure the census is delivered where possible by local organisations, keeping the economic benefits in Scotland. The census will be the first in Scotland to use both traditional paper and online questionnaires.

    Since all the processing work will be carried out locally, over 200 new jobs will be created by CACI (UK) in Scotland to help deliver the census. Those employed will be trained in new IT and data processing skills which can be transferred to other roles once the census is completed.

    CACI (UK) - what it says about itself

    CACI was founded in 1975 in the UK and operates from several offices across the country.


    Headquartered in London, CACI Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of CACI International Inc. CACI International Inc. is a publicly listed company on the NYSE with an annual revenue in excess of US $2.73bn and approx 13,100 people worldwide.

    We offer an unrivalled range of marketing solutions and information systems to local and central government and to businesses from most industry sectors.
    CACI Limited. Registered in England & Wales. Registration No. 1649776. CACI House, Avonmore Road, London, W14 8TS

    EXTRACT from CACI International’s website.

    The Department of Defense accounted for more than half of CACI's revenues. CACI was poised to profit from the intensive IT demands of the homeland defense industry after 9/11. The company posted record revenues in 2001 ($564 million) and 2002 ($682 million) and showed no signs of slowing. In 2002, the company's shares migrated from the NASDAQ to the Big Board on the New York Stock Exchange. CACI then had about 5,000 employees at its 90 offices in the United States and Europe.

    In 2002, the company acquired Condor Technology Solutions, Inc.'s Government Solutions Division for $16 million and the IT firm Acton Burnell, Inc. for $29 million. Another intelligence specialist, Premier Technology Group, Inc., was acquired for $49 million in 2003. Also purchased in 2003 were Applied Technology Solutions of Northern VA, Inc. for $13 million, C-Cubed Corporation, a producer of mobile command centers and reconnaissance equipment, for $36 million, and Britain's Rochester Information Systems, Ltd. for $2 million.

    The acquisition of Premier brought with it a $500 million blanket U.S. Army contract that included, in addition to IT services, supplying interrogators at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. CACI was soon faced with a worldwide media frenzy after an early army report implicated one of its employees in the torture there.

    (CACI's larger rival Titan Corp. was also embroiled in the scandal.) In July 2004, another U.S. Army report cleared CACI's ten interrogator