Thursday, 31 December 2015

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Banishing Labour from the Welsh Assembly

Political debate is dominated by what the Westminster-based parties are doing - their internal conflicts and disagreements - rather than what they will do to improve our country. This is bad news for democracy and bad news for Wales.
The Party of Wales has always insisted that the next Assembly election should be a competition of ideas. Parties should be judged on their plans to strengthen the Welsh economy, revive our education systems and protect and improve outcomes in ou...
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Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood AM has today said that her party is ready to lead the next government of Wales as the only united choice…

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Scotland Achieves Separation without 2nd Referendum

Government release post-flood map of UK

great-britain-1_1In the wake of the December floods, Prime Minister David Cameron has unveiled a new map of the UK.
“Rather than try to fight future flooding or repair damage, we thought it best to just embrace it and welcome them as a feature. Perhaps now we can have an even Greater Britain in 2016” the Prime Minster and Peppa Pig enthusiast told the press this afternoon.
The map has some striking new features. Most noticeably is the creation of a new stretch of sea crossing what was formally the North of England up to the Scottish border. This new body of water will be known as The Straits of Pish.
The news has been welcomed by the SNP and its MPs, as they claim it will strengthen the cause for an independent Scotland.
SNP representative Jock McDougal told BFNN: “These floods are brilliant for us, we aren’t even connected to England anymore. It’s what we’ve always wanted. It’s a wee Christmas Miracle.”
So abundant is the rejoicing in Scotland that a new town on the southern coast will known as “Salmond-upon-sea”.
There is bad news for first time buyers in Manchester, with house prices set to skyrocket. Many homes in the city center are already being listed as “coastal property” and high-rise flats described as having “Sea views”.
When asked what will happen to the residents of the former cities of Preston, Hull, York and Newcastle, Mr Cameron responded saying, “Never heard of them, no trick questions please.”

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Angus and Alex - a Formidable Duo

SNP’s Westminster Leader Angus Robertson planning more Tory bloody noses

THE SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson admits he still has to pinch himself to make sure he didn’t dream 2015.
1 Minute
A year ago he led a party of six – now there are nearly 10 times as many SNP MPs.
He said: “I still find myself at group meetings looking round the room thinking what total transformation.
“From being able to fit the entire parliamentary party round one meeting room table to now, where we have trouble securing meeting rooms large enough to house everyone.”
Robertson was the General Election campaign manager who masterminded the SNP’s success.
And since May, he’s carved out a niche not just as a respected player at Prime Minister’s Questions, putting David Cameron on the spot, but also in picking the party’s parliamentary battles.
He explained: “As the Government only has a majority of 12 there are a series of issues where, given the SNP numbers, we can have an impact on whether the Government is able to go forward or whether they have to perform a U-turn.”
He cites the Tories’ tax credits climbdown as well as forcing them to scrap plans to extend Sunday trading in England and water down the fox hunting ban as examples where SNP opposition has proven critical. And he’s promised to continue.
Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons (PA Wire)
Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons (PA Wire)
“There are times when we are able to have a voice heard, there are circumstances where the Government majority looks shaky and, where that is the case, we’ll use the opportunity to maximum effect.”
He admits he was prepared for the party’s elevation to becoming Westminster’s third force, effectively measuring the curtains this time last year in what was the Lib Dems’ suite of offices at the heart of parliament.
He said: “The penny was dropping that there was the possibility of a game-changing result in terms of SNP representation in the House of Commons.
“The UK polling numbers and the Scottish polling numbers were suggesting it was beginning to look like the SNP would have more parliamentarians than the Lib Dems.
We’d become the third party and with being the third party comes a significant range of rights and responsibilities at Westminster.”
But 2015 has not been plain-sailing.
The 56 are already down to 54 after MPs Michelle Thomson and Natalie McGarry resigned the party whip to deal with separate allegations of financial impropriety.
As election supremo, shouldn’t Robertson have taken more of an interest in vetting candidates?
“Political parties reflect society and there will always be a range of backgrounds in political parties and a range of experiences. It’s not always possible to get to the bottom of aspects of peoples’ past no matter how hard we try.”
He added: “It’s for Michelle Thomson and Natalie McGarry to answer outstanding questions and resolve their situation and I hope that is what they are able to do.”
Despite his General Election role, Robertson has not been handed any specific job for the Holyrood elections.
But he insists it’s not a snub.
“John Swinney is campaign director and I get on tremendously well with him.
“I’m happy to share any insights I have and support him.
“I have the biggest role that anybody could wish for in the SNP in the House of Commons and that is to lead a group of extremely talented parliamentarians while at the same time coordinating with our colleagues in the Scottish Parliament and at SNP headquarters.”

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Welsh the True Britons

Are the WELSH the truest Brits? English genomes share German and French DNA - while Romans and Vikings left no trace

  • Scientists found that Britain can be divided into 17 distinct genetic 'clans'
  • The Welsh have the most DNA from the original settlers of the British Isles
  • English genomes are a quarter German and 45 per cent French in origin
  • French DNA dates from before the Norman conquests of Britain in 1066 
  • Despite their reputation for raping the Vikings left little trace of their DNA
  • The ancient Romans also left little of their DNA behind after their conquest
  • People in Cornwall and Devon form two distinct groups that rarely mixed
We like to think of ourselves as being different from our European neighbours.
But the English owe a lot to the French and a fair amount to the Germans – at least as far as our genes are concerned.
For a study has mapped the genetic make-up of Britain. Researchers analysed the genetic code of 2,000 white Britons and compared the results to data on more than 6,000 people from ten European countries.
The study found that Britain can be divided into 17 distinct genetic 'clans', as shown in the map above
The study found that Britain can be divided into 17 distinct genetic 'clans', as shown in the map above
They found that many of us have DNA that is 45 per cent French in origin while many white Britons are a quarter German.
Surprisingly, given that they invaded and occupied large parts of the British Isles for four centuries, there is little genetic trace of the Romans. 
Similarly, the Vikings may have a reputation for rape and pillage but the genetic evidence shows they did not have enough children with the locals for their Danish DNA to be present today.
The Anglo-Saxons, in contrast, did leave a genetic legacy, with about 20 per cent of the DNA of many English people coming from the invaders who arrived 1,600 years ago.
The diagram above shows the European ancestry of each of the 17 genetic clusters found in the new genetic study of the UK. The Welsh were found to have DNA that dates back to the earliest settlers of Britain
The diagram above shows the European ancestry of each of the 17 genetic clusters found in the new genetic study of the UK. The Welsh were found to have DNA that dates back to the earliest settlers of Britain
Further DNA comes from earlier migrants from what is now Germany.
The French contribution to our genes did not come from the conquering Normans but from much earlier.


The Welsh are the true pure Britons, according to the research that has produced the first genetic map of the UK.
Scientists were able to trace their DNA back to the first tribes that settled in the British Isles following the last ice age around 10,000 years ago.
Due to its westerly location and mountainous landscape, few invaders like the Anglo-Saxons, Romans and Vikings ventured into the Welsh lands.
This means the DNA of people living there has not experienced the influx of 'foreign' genes like other parts of Britain. 
The research found that there is no single 'Celtic' genetic group. The Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish and Cornish were found to be the most different from the rest of the country.
The Cornish are much more genetically similar to other English groups than they are to the Welsh or the Scots. 
Some is from the earliest modern Britons who arrived after the last Ice Age and more came from a mystery set of migrants who settled before the Romans invaded.
Other countries to contribute genes to English DNA include Belgium, Denmark and Spain.
The Oxford University study, which examined people whose grandparents had all been born near each other and were white European in origin, revealed that Caucasian Britons can be separated into 17 distinct genetic groups.
Remarkably, many of these modern-day ‘clans’ are found in the same parts of the country as the tribes and kingdoms of the 6th century – suggesting little changed in Britain for almost 1,500 years.
The people of Orkney are the most distinct, a result of 600 years of Norwegian rule.
The Welsh are the next most distinct.
They have so much DNA from the first modern settlers, that they could claim to be the truest of Britons. 
But even within Wales there are two distinct tribes, with those in the north and south of the principality less similar genetically than the Scots are to the inhabitants of Kent.
Clear differences can be seen between the inhabitants of Cornwall and Devon, while West Yorkshire and Cumbria also have their own genetic heritage.
The scientists found Caucasians in Britain can be divided into 17 genetic groups living in different parts of the country, as shown in the diagram above. Each group had varying amounts of European DNA in their genes
The scientists found Caucasians in Britain can be divided into 17 genetic groups living in different parts of the country, as shown in the diagram above. Each group had varying amounts of European DNA in their genes


They see themselves as rivals rather than neighbours – and the genetic map explains why.
For it has revealed that the inhabitants of Cornwall and Devon are two distinct groups.
Remarkably, the divide in their DNA is an almost exact match for the modern geographical boundary – those with Cornish genes tend to live on one side of the Tamar, while those with Devonian DNA are on the other. The Cornish have fewer genes in common with the rest of the UK. Dr Magdalena Skipper, of the journal Nature, described the match as ‘truly stunning’.
Oxford University researcher Sir Walter Bodmer said the difference could probably be explained by the Anglo-Saxons taking longer to reach the isolated peninsula of Cornwall – and so contributing less DNA to the gene pool there than in Devon.


Despite their claims to a cultural kinship, the Celtic peoples do not form a single group, the research shows.
Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Cornwall have a very different genetic make-up.
The Cornish have DNA that is much more similar to that of other English groups than to the Welsh or the Scots.
Oxford University geneticist Professor Peter Donnelly said: ‘One might have expected those groups to be quite similar genetically because they were Celtic. But while see distinct groups in those regions they are amongst the most different.’
Archaeologist Professor Mark Robinson said: ‘I had assumed that there was going to be this uniform Celtic fringe extending from Cornwall through to Wales into Scotland. And this has very definitely not been the case.’
Britain today is much more genetically diverse than 125 years ago, when the grandparents of those who took part in the study were around, but the same technique could be used to read someone’s DNA and work out which parts of the UK their ancestors came from.
The research, published in the journal Nature, did not find any obvious genetic footprint from the Romans or Danish Vikings.
However, this is not down to a lack of virility – merely that they were not here in large enough numbers to have had enough children for their genes to live on today.
Study co-leader Sir Walter Bodmer said: ‘You get a relatively small group of people who can dominate a country that they come into and there are not enough of them, however much they intermarry, to have enough of an influence that we can detect them in the genetics that we do.
‘At that time, the population of Britain could have been as much as one million, so an awful lot of people would need to arrive in order for there to be an impact.’ 
The map of the UK above shows how the country can be divided into 17 distinct groups that have a striking relationship with geography. Each of the clusters is represented by a different symbol while the ellipses give a sense of the geographical range of each genetic cluster
The map above shows the regions of ancient British, Irish and Saxon control which relate to many of the modern genetic clusters
The map of the UK on the left shows how the country can be divided into 17 distinct groups that have a striking relationship with geography. Each of the clusters is represented by a different symbol while the ellipses give a sense of the geographical range of each genetic cluster. The map on the right shows the regions of ancient British, Irish and Saxon control which relate to many of the modern genetic clusters 
His colleague Professor Peter Donnelly added: 'Genetics tells us the story of what happens to the masses.
'There were already large numbers of people in those areas of Britain by the time the Danish Vikings came so to have a substantial impact on the genetics there would need to be very large numbers of them leaving DNA for subsequent generations.
The study is the first detailed look at the genetic make up of Caucasian Britons and establish that they form 17 distinct groups. A stock photograph of a scientist examining the results of DNA sequencing is shown above
The study is the first detailed look at the genetic make up of Caucasian Britons and establish that they form 17 distinct groups. A stock photograph of a scientist examining the results of DNA sequencing is shown above
'The fact we don't get a signal is probably about numbers rather than the relative allure or lack thereof of Scandinavians to English women.'
Others said that the Danes may actually have been more attractive to local women because their habit of washing weekly meant they were seen as cleaner. 


 They may be neighbours but they have never been close. Now, genetics could explain why.
The genetic map of the British Isles has revealed that the inhabitants of Cornwall and Devon are two distinct groups.
And, remarkably, the divide in their DNA is an almost exact match for the modern geographical boundary between the two countries.
In other words, people with Cornish genes tend to live on one side of the river Tamar, while those with Devon DNA are on the other.
Dr Magdalena Skipper, of the journal Nature, described the match as 'truly stunning'.
Oxford University researcher Sir Walter Bodmer said: 'It's an extraordinary result.'
The study also showed that the Cornish have fewer genes in common with the rest of the UK than the people of Devon.
Sir Walter said this can likely be explained by the Anglo-Saxons taking longer to reach Cornwall – and so contributing less DNA to the gene pool there than in Devon.
He added that there would also have been political and cultural barriers 'not to cross into Devon'
He said: 'People from Cornwall wanted to keep to themselves more.'
They may share a coastline but the people in Devon (shown above in the picture of Woolacombe) and Cornwall were found to make up two distinct genetic groups
The picture above is of Mawgan Porth, in Cornwall, where the people form a genetic group distinct from their neighbours in Devon
They may share a coastline, but the people living in Devon, shown left in the picture of Woolacombe, and in Cornwall, shown right in the picture of Mawgan Porth, were found to make up two distinct genetic groups
It includes contributions from some of the earliest modern Britons who arrived after the last Ice Age and mystery set of migrants who came here after these first settlers but before the Romans. 
Britain today is much more genetically diverse that 125 years ago but the same technique could be used to read someone's DNA and work out which parts of the UK their ancestors came from.
The study took into account the fact that Roman soldiers came from many different countries and not just Italy. 
Sir Walter said: 'At that time, the population of Britain could have been as much as one million, so an awful lot of people would need to arrive in order for there to be an impact.
'You can have a huge impact culturally from relatively few people.
'There is no evidence of a Roman genetic signature but there is evidence of what the Roman's achieved.'
Dr Michael Dunn, of the Wellcome Trust, which funded the study, said: 'These researchers have been able to use modern genetic techniques to provide answers to the centuries' old question – where we come from.
'Beyond the fascinating insights into our history, this information could prove very useful from a health perspective.
'Building a picture of population genetics at this scale may in future help us to design better genetic studies to investigate disease.'  


The Vikings may have a ferocious reputation for raping and pillaging their way across the British Isles, but it appears they may not have been as sex mad as was believed.
Analysis of thousands of DNA samples from the UK, continental Europe and Scandinavia revealed a surprising lack of Viking genes in England, despite the Norsemen once occupying much of the country. 
Even in Orkney, which was a part of Norway from 875 to 1472, the Vikings contributed only about 25 per cent of the current gene pool.
It suggests that the Vikings mixed very little with the indigenous population they initially terrorised and then conquered. 
The international team led by scientists from Oxford University and the Wellcome Trust wrote in the journal Nature: 'While many of the historical migration events leave signals in our data, they have had a smaller effect on the genetic composition of UK populations than has sometimes been argued.
'In particular, we see no clear genetic evidence of the Danish Viking occupation and control of a large part of England suggesting a relatively limited input of DNA from the Danish Vikings and subsequent mixing with nearby regions, and clear evidence for only a minority Norse contribution (about 25 per cent) to the current Orkney population.'
The Vikings, from Norway, Sweden and Denmark, carried out extensive raids and occupations across wide areas of northern and central Europe between the eighth and late 11th centuries.

Gehetic Map of Britain

New genetic map of Britain shows successive waves of immigration going back 10,000 years

White indigenous English people share about 40 per cent of their DNA with the French

A remarkable new map of Britain shows how the nation was forged by successive waves of immigration from continental Europe over 10,000 years since the end of the last Ice Age.
The map was drawn up by analysing the DNA of more than 2,000 people whose four grandparents had all been born in the same locality. It is the most detailed and far-reaching genetic analysis of the original inhabitants of these isles.
It reveals that the white, indigenous English share about 40 per cent of their DNA with the French, about 26 per cent with the Germans, 11 per cent with the Danes and in the region of nine per cent with the Belgians.
Geneticists and historians collaborated closely on the 10-years project and have been astonished to find that patterns in the DNA of Britons living today reflect historical events going back centuries, and in some cases millennia.
 The genetic map shows 17 clusters of similarities in the DNA of modern-day people that echo major moments in history, such as the collapse of the Romano-British culture in the 5th Century and the subsequent rise of the Anglo-Saxons, and the Norse Viking invasion of the Orkneys in the 9th Century.
It also reveals much older movements and separations of people, such as the ancient ancestry of the Celtic people of North Wales who are probably descended from some of the oldest inhabitants of Britain, and the clear genetic division between the people of Cornwall and Devon that still persists along the county boundary of the River Tamar.
“It has long been known that human populations differ genetically, but never before have we been able to observe such exquisite and fascinating detail,” said Professor Peter Donnelly, director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford University.
“By coupling this with our assessment of the genetic contributions from different parts of Europe we were able to add to our understanding of UK population history,” said Professor Donnelly, one of the lead authors of the study published in the journal Nature.
Patterns in the DNA of Britons living today reflect historical events going back centuries (E+/Getty Creative)
One of the most intriguing signatures seen in the genetics of present-day English is the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons from southern Denmark and northern Germany after the end of Roman rule in 410AD. The DNA samples showed this migration involved intermarriage with the Romano-British Celts rather than wholesale ethnic cleansing, as some historians have suggested.
“The results give an answer to the question we had never previously thought we would be able to ask about the degree of British survival after the collapse of Roman Britain and the coming of the Saxons,” said Professor Mark Robinson, an archaeologist at Oxford University.
“This has allowed us to see what has happened. The established genetic makeup of the British Isles today is reflecting events that took place 1400 years ago,” Professor Robinson said.
Other major events in history, such as the Roman invasion and occupation between 43AD and 410AD, the large-scale invasion by the Viking Danes in 865AD and the subsequent establishment of Danelaw, as well as the Norman invasion of 1066, cannot be seen in the genetic profiles of Britons today.
A re-enactment of the 1066 Battle of Hastings (Getty)
This probably reflects the fact that often major cultural shifts are carried out by relatively few people within an elite who do not leave their genetic mark on the conquered masses, said Sir Walter Bodmer, the veteran population geneticist who first had the idea of the study.
Most soldiers serving under Rome who came to Britain were in any case more likely to be recruits from Gaul and Germany rather than being born in Italy, Sir Walter said.
“The people of the British Isles study gave us a wonderful opportunity to learn about the fine-scale genetic patterns of the UK population. A key part of our success was collecting DNA from a geographically diverse group of people who are representative of the location,” Sir Walter said.
“It was not a simple problem to get so many samples. It’s an extraordinary result and one that has provided a lot more than I had expected,” he added.

Friday, 4 December 2015

After the Vote

Last night I had the strangest dream
I never dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war
I dreamed I saw a mighty room
Filled with women and men
And the paper they were signing said
They'd never fight again
And when the papers were all signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads
And grateful prayers were prayed
And the people in the streets below
Were dancing round and round
And swords and guns and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground
Last night I had the strangest dream
I never dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Not a happy Salmond


A very annoyed looking Alex Salmond was on BBC news this morning disgusted by the rhetoric that David Cameron used yesterday calling anyone who opposes the War..


We share Alex Salmond’s disgust, the tone of hatred being spouted by the UK establishment, the media and some of the general public is beyond shameful. Between describing refugees as cockroaches and rats and just the all round tarring of Muslims being Terrorists. It really does show you the dire straights the UK is in.

So unless Labour do the unthinkable and finds a shred of humanity within them or they suddenly remember what opposition parties are meant to do, then I am afraid Scotland YET AGAIN gets dragged into a conflict it wants nothing to do with.

Drop Carmichael, not Bombs

The SNP deliver the killer question during the Syria debate, leaving the Tories speechless (VIDEO)

The SNP deliver the killer question during the Syria debate, leaving the Tories speechless (VIDEO)
During the debate to support David Cameron’s motion to launch airstrikes in Syria, the SNP’s Angus Robertson MP asked a vital question which the Tory party and it’s leader could not answer.
Robertson called on first the Prime Minister, then the Foreign Secretary, and then the entire Conservative Party to tell him how many of the 70,000 Syrian fighters the government are expecting to act as our ‘boots on the ground’ are moderates or fundamentalists.
Robertson isn’t alone in pointing out the flaw in Cameron’s plans. The powerful Foreign Affairs Select Committee has voted against the proposed airstrikes.
The Foreign Affairs Select Committee is chaired by Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, and has a majority of Conservative members – yet this evening, the powerful committee has defied the government and expressed their opposition to the planned strikes. A Conservative member of the committee, John Baron MP, has written a piece for The Guardian outlining the reasons for the no vote.
The piece, entitled ‘I’ll defy my party leader, and vote against Syria airstrikes’ argues Mr Cameron has failed to learn the lessons of previously failed interventions in the Middle East, and is doomed to repeat them if he proceeds with the airstrikes. The MP writes:
“Though the government has precipitated another rush into military action, it has not yet constructed a realistic long-term strategy to destroy Daesh/Isis. On a recent visit to Middle Eastern capitals with the foreign affairs select committee, the officials we met were concerned we risk making the same mistakes as we made in our previous military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan (post-2006) and Libya.”
And as for Cameron’s claim that 70,000 moderate Syrian ground troops are ready to take care of the ‘boots on the ground’ element of the war? John Baron MP confirms that on recent visits, his committee were informed there were precious few ‘moderates’ in Syria, and even the most moderate groups are unaligned and often fighting each other too. The result of placing our hopes on this fractured and incoherent opposition would, argues Baron, be to repeat the mistakes of the past:
“The government has forgotten the lessons of Libya, where the anti-Gaddafi forces splintered into a thousand militias the moment the common enemy was defeated. A fresh civil war has been a result. Syria would be similar, but on a grand scale.”
The coalition were unable to hold Iraq together with hundreds of thousands of their own troops – yet today, the plan in Syria is that mere tens of thousands of infighting militia men will topple Daesh, Assad, and establish a democracy. This is lunacy.
In short, the sum total of Britain’s planned intervention in Syria, would be to kick start yet another phase of civil war. This would just as likely strengthen ISIS/Daesh, as weaken them – killing yet more civilians in the process.
This last minute call to common sense by the Conservative-led committee has seemingly fallen on deaf ears. The reckless meddling of the Bush/Blair coalition started a fire in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Now Cameron stands poised with a petrol can, ready to pour.
Featured Image via YouTube Screengrab

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Bombing Syria Kills Innocents - Strengthens and Empowers ISIS

110 MP signatories from 6 parties back amendment against Syria vote

For immediate release: Tuesday 1st December 2015



Over one hundred MPs have signed a cross-party amendment against tomorrow’s vote on air strikes in Syria, with key signatories including SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson MP, Green MP Caroline Lucas, Hywel Williams of Plaid Cymru, SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell and Labour MP Graham Allen as well as Conservative John Baron MP.
Commenting, Alex Salmond MP said:
“We are seeing an arrogance from David Cameron who believes his ill-conceived plans to add more planes to the 10 countries already bombing Syria will make a difference. 
“Support for this amendment against Syria air strikes is cross-party, and so far has 110 signatories. Of course everyone wants to see the end to Daesh, but the UK government has been running scared from scrutiny on their plans which don’t stack up.
“We don’t know how the UK government plans to secure peace in Syria and what ground forces there will be. We know the UK previously spent 13 times more bombing Libya than on its post conflict stability and reconstruction.
“And just two years ago the Prime Minister urged us to bomb the opponents of Daesh that would have likely strengthened this terrorist organisation. 
“The influential Foreign Affairs Committee took a wide range of evidence from military experts, academics, lawyers, the Foreign Secretary and Syrian groups. As a result a number of questions were presented to the Prime Minister and today a majority of committee members agreed that these questions had not been answered.”
SNP MEDIA 0207 219 1602
Note to Editor:
The cross-party amendment:
Delete after ‘House’ and insert,
‘while welcoming the renewed impetus towards peace and reconstruction in Syria, and the Government’s recognition that a comprehensive strategy against Daesh is required, does not believe that the case for the UK’s participation in the ongoing air campaign in Syria by 10 countries has been made under current circumstances, and consequently declines to authorise military action in Syria.’

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Angus Robertson versus the Hawks

PA SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions
Angus Robertson knows how to do things
He wanted to know if the PM would seek a UN resolution should he decide to bomb the bejesus out of Syria.
This was a straight question to which only a straight answer would do. So Mr Cameron said no because the Russians would only veto it.
Mr Robertson pointed to a new poll out today showing only 15% of Brits in favour of blitzing Syria.
Mr Cameron said: “My job, frankly, as Prime Minister, is not to read an opinion poll, it’s to do the right thing to keep this country safe.”
Having dismissed the views of the nation Mr Cameron trotted off to do some more prime ministering unencumbered by public opinion.
But he would do well to remember the public’s current opinion of Tony Blair.
He might not then be quite so keen to ignore it.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Poll shows Independence wins

Scotland would vote for independence in a second referendum, new poll finds

The STV/Ipsos MORI poll gives the 'Yes' camp a nine-point lead


Scotland would vote for independence if a second referendum on leaving the UK was held tomorrow, according to a new poll.
The Ipsos MORI poll for the STV channel found that a would-be ‘Yes’ campaign would have a nine-point lead over the ‘No’  camp.
53 per cent of Scottish voters would vote ‘Yes’ while 44 per cent would vote ‘No’, with three per cent undecided which way they would vote, the survey suggests.
This poll marks the first lead for leading the UK since the last referendum.
Half of those surveyed said they would like to see another referendum in the next five years, while 58 per cent said they would be in favour of another vote being held within ten years.
The poll is thought to be the first to show a majority for independence among all those questioned. It was described as “pretty all-round sensational” by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon.
The results of the survey may increase the pressure on Ms Sturgeon to include the promise of a second referendum in the SNP’s manifesto for next year’s elections. She has previously said that another vote would only be held if there was a “material change” in the country’s circumstances.
Derek Mackay, the party’s Business Convener, said: “We warned the Tories that support for independence would only grow if they continued to ignore Scotland’s voice – and this poll proves that, as people question Westminster’s ability to represent Scotland’s interests at all.”
The findings come the day after the Scottish Government announced its programme for the final year of parliamentary time before the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.
Ms Sturgeon announced a number of new policies including new rent controls for areas where housing costs are rising fast.
Some polls during the Scottish Independence referendum campaign suggested that the ‘Yes’ side might triumph, though it ultimately lost by 45 per cent to 55 per cent in favour of staying in the UK.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Made in America

Who is responsible for the wars in the Middle East, and who created the refugee problem?
Who is casting Russian President Putin as the bogey man? Who is using the media and the politicians to spread disinformation?

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Scotland Rejects Austerity

Sturgeon promises strategy to mitigate Tory tax credit cuts

NICOLA Sturgeon has promised to introduce a “credible, deliverable and affordable” plan to mitigate any cuts to tax credits made by the UK Government.
The SNP leader made the commitment during First Minister’s Questions yesterday lunchtime in a fractious exchange with Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.
Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would keep up the pressure on George Osborne to “drop his plans for tax credit cuts”. She also accused Labour of missing the point.
“It is all too typical of Scottish Labour that, just when the pressure on George Osborne is building across the UK, the party eases up on the Tories and attacks the SNP instead. It seems that old habits and old friendships die hard,” the First Minister said.
“We will keep up the pressure on the Tories to drop the cuts altogether and, if they do not completely reverse them, we, as a responsible Government, will introduce credible, deliverable and affordable plans to protect low-income households, just as we did on the bedroom tax.”
During her speech at Scottish Labour’s conference last week Dugdale made a commitment to restoring any money lost by families affected by George Osborne’s plan to cut the UK’s tax credit bill by £4.4 billion. This would be funded, the Scottish Labour leader, said through higher tax and by refusing to abolish air passenger duty (APD).
In a debate in the parliament on Wednesday, Social Justice Minister Alex Neil said that the Scottish Government would be able to use new tax and welfare powers coming to Holyrood to top up lost tax credits.
Dugdale said the First Minister’s plan was a “vague assurance” and asked her to guarantee that “every family will receive the same entitlement from the Government as they do now”.
The First Minister did not make that guarantee but repeated her earlier answer that any solution brought by the government would be credible and affordable.
“I say to Kezia Dugdale that the detail of this matters to the families out there who are affected. One of the details that matter most is how the tax credits policy would be paid for.“
APD, Sturgeon said, “would not be available when Kezia Dugdale was required to pay for the tax credits policy.” The First Minister then said Dugdale had already promised to spend “that money on education. So in the space of 24 hours Labour managed to spend the same sum of money twice over. I say in all seriousness to Kezia Dugdale that that is basic incompetence and, frankly, the people of Scotland deserve better.”
Dugdale said: “Yesterday in the House of Commons the Prime Minister told working families they would just have to wait and see what happened next. Today in this chamber, the First Minister is saying exactly the same thing. I have listened to Nicola Sturgeon very carefully, I have listened to Alex Neil very carefully on the TV last night.
“Both have said that they will ensure that the income of those in receipt of tax credits won’t fall. But that sounds a little like the Tory argument that higher wages will automatically make up the difference.
“So can I ask the First Minister again – under the Scottish Government’s proposal, will every single family receive the same entitlement from the Government as they do now?”
Sturgeon responded: “I am not quite sure what it is that is difficult to understand. I don’t yet accept that these cuts will take place because there is pressure building on George Osborne to reverse them.
“So I think right now that is where we should be, united, in making sure the pressure stays on the Tories.”

The National View: FM’s commitment to mitigating effect of Tory cuts is welcomed

Saturday, 26 September 2015

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Catalunya - Spain`s Scotland

Long before the spectre of Catalan independence began to dominate Spain’s political discourse, the small hamlet of Gallifa, population 215, had already broken away from the motherland.
“We proclaimed ourselves to be a free and sovereign territory of Catalonia,” said Jordi Fornas, who was then mayor of Gallifa, a village tucked into the hills about 30 miles north of Barcelona. “We tried to find our way in the Spanish state, but it proved to be impossible.”
Gallifa then went one step further, becoming the first municipality in the region to practise what Fornas called “fiscal sovereignty”, a purely symbolic gesture of handing over its taxes to Catalonia rather than Madrid.
As Catalan authorities rerouted the revenue – amounting to about €1,600 in 2012 – to Madrid, Gallifa caught the attention of Spanish media, which christened its cluster of ochre brick houses the “crib of Catalan independence”.
On Sunday, Spain will get a glimpse of how far the movement that first took root in small villages such as Gallifa has spread, as Catalans cast their votes in a regional election billed as a quasi-referendum on independence.
 The village of Gallifa, near Barcelona.
The village of Gallifa, near Barcelona. Photograph: Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images
The results could launch Spain into uncharted territoryand plunge the country into one of its deepest political crises of recent years, as Madrid squares off against an openly secessionist government of a region that accounts for 16% of Spain’s population and a fifth of its economic output.
With polls suggesting pro-independence parties could gain a slim majority on Sunday, a barrage of warnings was unleashed this week by those opposed to independence.
Spain’s central bank said secession would risk exclusion from the eurozone, while the country’s main banks – including two based in the region – cautioned that independence could undermine financial stability just as the country was beginning to shake off the lingering effects of the economic crisis.
The Spanish government argued that if Catalans broke off from Spain it would cost them their Spanish nationality, while the president of the Spanish professional football league said Barcelona would be left out of La Liga.
“Catalans aren’t being told the real consequences of independence,” the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, told Onda Cero radio station on Tuesday. “It would leave the EU. What would happen with pensions? There are many more pensioners than contributors. What would happen with financial institutions, with bank deposits, to the currency?”
In recent years, his conservative People’s party (PP) has repeatedly blocked demands by Catalonia to hold a referendum on independence, insisting that Spain’s constitution precludes regions from unilaterally making decisions on sovereignty.
Rajoy’s hardline stance has been backed by leaders across Europe, many of them aware that any gains made in Catalonia could spark hope among the other secessionist movements that dot Europe.
The British prime minister, David Cameron, said Catalonia would be left out of the EU if it broke off from Spain, while Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, voiced her support for the “integrity of Spain”. The PP said Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s former president, was scheduled to join Rajoy in Catalonia on Friday in a rally against independence.
Jordi Fornas
Jordi Fornas, a former mayor of Gallifa. Photograph: Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images
The Catalan leader Artur Mas, who has vowed to begin the process of breaking off from Spain if his Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) party wins a majority of seats on Sunday, lashed out at the “strategy of fear” being used to counter the push for independence. “It is irresponsible and indecent to issue threats that nobody in a democratic country would dare voice,” he said. “They do it because they have no other arguments.”
As Gallifa gained a reputation across Spain for its stance on sovereignty, its leaders also found themselves on the receiving end of Madrid’s wrath. Citing a three-decades-old law, the central government demanded the town fly the flag of Spain. Fornas responded by affixing a tiny Spanish flag, no bigger than the palm of a hand, to the facade of the town hall.
“The law didn’t specify what size the flag needed to be,” said Fornas, who also raised a full-sized estelada, the flag of Catalan independence, nearby. The central government struck back, taking legal action against the village to have the mini Spanish flag replaced with a full-size flag. Today no flags – pint-sized or estelada – fly in Gallifa.
In many ways, Gallifa’s row with Madrid epitomises how the push for independence has played out across Catalonia, with the central government looking to the courts to shut down dissent rather than seeking to address the underlying grievances over Catalonia’s language and identity, as well as concerns that the region pays more in taxes than it receives in investments and transfers from Madrid.
Support for Catalan independence began growing in 2010, after Spain’s constitutional court ruled that Catalonia’s status and powers could not be considered tantamount to those of a nation. According to the region’s Centre for Opinion Studies, in 2010 just under 20% of Catalans supported outright independence. By June 2015 this proportion had almost doubled to 38%, down from a high of 48.5% in November 2013.
A girl with an estelada flag painted on her face
Celebrations on Diada, Catalonia’s national day. Photograph: Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images
Some, such as Catalan film-maker Joan Planas, bucked the trend. The former ardent separatist from the small town of Sant Fruitós de Bages, near Barcelona, changed his perspective on independence after travelling through Spain, filming his conversations in bars across the country as part of a documentary exploring the challenges facing modern-day Spain.
“I realised that many of the things that I thought about the rest of Spain weren’t quite true,” said the 33-year-old. “I thought that the rest of Spain rejected all that was Catalan – but I realised that it wasn’t that way.” The realisation prompted him to vote to stay with Spain in Catalonia’s symbolic referendum on independence last year.
With just days left until an election that has divided Catalans, nobody knows quite which camp to put him in, he said. “I have a brother-in-law who told me that after a few days with him, I’ll change my mind again,” laughed Planas.
But most in Spain have taken a firm stance on the issue. This week the Catholic church waded into the debate, saying there was no moral justification for independence and urging Spaniards to pray for the unity of Spain. The intervention stoked grievances, as the church had backed General Franco, who sought to suppress Catalonia’s language and identity during Spain’s nearly four decades of dictatorship.
On the other side of the divide were 13 world-renowned Catalan scientists and researchers who penned a letter this week promoting independence, saying it was the best option to guarantee funding for research in the region.
In July, Bayern Munich coach and Catalan native Pep Guardiola announced he was joining Junts pel Sí as a symbolic candidate, backing the party in its quest to break away from Spain. “This is an opportunity we have to build a new and more just country, starting from scratch,” Guardiola said in a campaign video. “Nobody can stop the will of the people.”
Pep Guardiola
Bayern Munich’s coach, Pep Guardiola, has joined Junts pel Sí, supporting Catalan independence. Photograph: Spyros Chorchoubas/EPA
Regardless of the outcome, the elections will mark a defining moment for the region, said Jordi Sànchez, president of the Catalan National Assembly, a grassroots pro-independence group that is part of Junts pel Sí. “Nobody doubts – not in Catalonia or in Spain – that these elections are the most important ever in Catalonia,” said the 50-year-old. “This is an opportunity to create a better society, with the economic and legislative resources that we don’t have right now.”
His group lobbied hard for Junts pel Sí to promise to launch the independence process if separatists earn a majority of seats on Sunday, even if they are denied a majority of the vote. Critics on both sides of the issue have argued that the focus on seats, rather than votes, could hamper the movement’s ability to gain legitimacy internationally. “We know that elections aren’t the best instrument – it’s not what we would have wanted, but it was the only tool we had at our disposition,” said Sànchez.
The use of elections to address the issue has also put politicians such as Mas on the frontlines of the movement, rather than the hundreds of thousands of Catalans who have filled the streets on Barcelona for four successive years to demand a say on Catalan independence, said Sànchez. “In a few years, in some universities, they’re going to study the political process playing out in Catalonia right now,” he said. “Citizen mobilisation managed to convince political parties to change their political agenda. This is an incredible moment for democracy – one of the most important for Europe.”
A dog draped in a pro-independence Catalan flag
In 2010 just under 20% of Catalans supported outright independence. By June 2015 this proportion had risen to 38%, down from a high of 48.5% in November 2013. Photograph: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images
The process of democratic regeneration is not just limited to Catalonia, said Carlos Rivadulla of Empresaris de Catalunya, an association of entrepreneurs in the region who oppose independence. As Spain emerges from the economic crisis, citizens across the country have taken aim at the institutions and politicians who brought the country to the brink of ruin, leading to a widespread demand for democratic regeneration, “All over Spain, we want a new deal, whether it’s a new constitution or reform,” said Rivadulla, pointing to the rise of political parties such as Podemos and Ciudadanos. “We could call it the Spanish spring.”
This demand for change could help parties such as Podemos, which supports a referendum on Catalan independence, or the Socialists, who propose making Spain a federal country, make gains in the country’s general elections, due by the end of the year. If so, Spain could usher in a government more open to addressing Catalan grievances.
If Catalan separatists win power on Sunday, Rivadulla believes they will take incremental steps towards independence, biding their time until a new central government take power. Polls suggest no party will earn an absolute majority in the general elections, meaning Catalan leaders could have a better chance of negotiating greater self-governance for Catalonia or a binding referendum by the end of the year.
Others echoed his analysis. In Gallifa, Fornas doubted Sunday’s election would bring about the independent Catalonia he had waited his whole life for, even if Junts pel Sí won a strong mandate.
Fornas pointed to the 18-month timeline for the transitional government, arguing it was a drawn-out schedule for a task that his hamlet had managed to accomplish in just one day. “It doesn’t take 18 months to become independent,” he said. “In the US, they celebrate independence day, not independence months.”