Sunday, 25 May 2014

New Poll Shows Labour Winning

Michael Ashcroft's huge poll of Tory-Labour and Labour-Tory marginals shows that, in the constituencies that will determine the next General Election, Labour has a 10-point lead, putting it on course for an overall majority larger than in 2005, and quite possibly in triple figures.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Just Voted

Just voted.
Europe Election
SF 1
Green 4

Local Election
Green 4

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

One Less Unionist Party

NI21 has announced it will change its designation at the Assembly from unionist to 'other'.

The party's ruling executive took the decision ahead of Thursday's European and local government elections.

NI21 was set up by MLAs Basil McCrea and John McCallister, after they quit the Ulster Unionist Party in 2013.

European election candidate Tina McKenzie said it was a response to the message they had been receiving from people while canvassing.

She said it would also clear up any confusion about the party's position.

"What has changed is that it is a clear message to the people of Northern Ireland that NI21 is a cross-community party," she said.

"We are a party that, in the future, will represent all people as we have done in the past but if there was any lack of clarity on that, tonight, we have cleared that up."

Tina McKenzie said the party advocated that Northern Ireland was best placed within the United Kingdom, but was uncomfortable with labels.

"We want to create fresh politics, normal politics, talking about the issues. We just want to take these labels off and say we are more comfortable without them," she said.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Nigel Farage Exposed

James O'Brien v Nigel Farage: Watch In Full:

Blast From The Past: Sunday Times Rich List 1989

1. The Queen, head of state, £5,200m
2. The Duke of Westminster, landowner, £3,200m
3. Lord (John) Sainsbury and family, retailing, £1,967m
4. Gad and Hans Rausing, food packaging, £1,900m
5= Sir John Moores, football pools, £1,700m
5= Garfield Weston, food production, £1,700m
7= John Paul Getty II, oil, £1,200m
7= Lord Edmund Vestey, food production, £1,200m
9. Octav Botnar, car dealing, £1,000m
10. Sir James Goldsmith £750 million

How The Mighty Has Fallen

The Queen of England who has been on every Sunday Times Rich List since she topped the first one in 1989, is now worth £330m but that is only enough to see her ranked 285th. She has only 30  million pounds more in the bank than Simon Cowell.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Sunday Times Rich List 2014

1. Sri and Gopi Hinduja, £11.9 billion, up £1.3 billion

2. Alisher Usmanov, £10.65 billion, down £2.65 billion

3. Lakshmi Mittal and family, £10.25 billion, up £250 million 

4. Len Blavatnik, £10 billion, down £1 billion

5. Ernesto and Kirsty Bertarelli, £9.75 billion, up £2.35 billion

6. John Fredriksen and family, £9.25 billion, up £450 million

7. David and Simon Reuben, £9 billion, up £719 million

8. Kirsten and Jorn Rausing, £8.8 billion, up £3.691 billion

9. Roman Abramovich, £8.52 billion, down £780 million

10. The Duke of Westminster, £8.5 billion, up £700 million 

11. Galen, Hilary and George Weston and family, £7.3 billion, up £650 million

12. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken and Michel de Carvalho, £6.365 billion, down £635 million

13. Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber and family, £6.16 billion, up £1.645 billion

14. Carrie and Francois Perrodo and family, £6.14 billion, new 

15. German Khan, £6.08 billion, new

16. Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, £6 biilion, up £3.65 billion

17. Hans Rausing and family £5.9 billion, up £1.18 billion

18. Nicky Oppenheimer and family, £4.57 billion, up £785 million

19. Earl Cadogan and family, £4.2 billion, up £525 million 

20. Joseph Lau and family, £4.03 billion, down £570 million 

21. Sir Philip and Lady Green £3.88 billion, no change

22. Denis O'Brien, £3.854 billion, up £486 million

23. Mike Ashley, £3.75 billion, up £1.45 billion

24. Sir Richard Branson and family, £3.6 billion, up £86 million

25. Idan Ofer, £3.43 billion,

Friday, 9 May 2014

The Orange Card

According to the Guardian newspaper David Cameron invited the DUP MPs, who make up the fourth largest party at Westminster, to a drinks party In the No 10 garden on Wednesday evening last week. The Tories are worried about the result next British General Election. And may see the Orange Card as the one to play.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Queen's University Considers Poppy Ban

A motion proposing a ban on the sale of poppies within the Students' Union at Queen's University will come before the university's student council later.

The council comprises about 100 students from across different faculties and years of study.

The motion noted that the poppy appeal "is a politically charged and necessarily divisive initiative, given the nature of local politics".

It added that the students' union was an inclusive and neutral space.

"Therefore (the students' union) must offer a politically neutral environment regarding issues of the past to avoid offence and a sense of exclusion," it said.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Poor Relations

People living in the Welsh Valleys and Cornwall - Britain’s two poorest areas - scrape by on less than £14,300 a year on average. Meanwhile London is doing very well for itself.

Here are the top 10 European richest cities:

Central London (321% of EU average)
Luxembourg (266%)
Brussels, Belgium (222%)
Hamburg, Germany (202%)
Oslo, Norway (189%)
Bratislava, Slovakia (186%)
Île de France, France (182%)
Groningen, Holland (182%)
Stockholm, Sweden (173%)
Prague, Czech Republic (171%)

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Sunday Herald Editorial

 September 18, Scotland must decide whether to remain within the United Kingdom or become an independent country.

No-one should find the decision easy. There is nothing simple, clean, or clinical about ending a union that has endured for better than three centuries. Nevertheless, having considered the arguments, the Sunday Herald sincerely and emphatically believes that the best outcome is a vote for independence.

We state our opinion not in an attempt to persuade our readers. That would be presumptuous and arrogant. We are well aware that there is good reason to assume the vote will be close. However, we are determined, as the debate enters its final, feverish stages, when emotions will doubtless run high, to make our position clear.

We believe that now is the time to roll up our sleeves and put our backs into creating the kind of society in which all Scots have a stake. Independence, this newspaper asserts, will put us in charge of our destiny. That being the case, Scots will have no-one to blame for their failings, no-one to condemn for perceived wrongs. We will, for the first time in three centuries, be responsible for our decisions, for better or worse.

The proposition is this: We believe independence offers Scotland an historic opportunity to choose the kind of country that might allow its people to prosper. Decisions affecting our lives will be made on our doorstep, by the people who live here. By us. A vote for independence says that a small country is not helpless in a big, troubling world.

At the Sunday Herald we want a Scotland that cares about others, everywhere, as much as it cares about its own. We believe in a society that is altruistic and compassionate, that looks after everyone in need irrespective of their ability to pay. But we also want a society that is meritocratic, that rewards work and encourages entrepreneurialism. Above all, we want a progressive, fair society in which the gulf between haves and have nots is no longer unbridgeable.

Come independence, the sky may still be blue (well, possibly not in Scotland in September) and the grass green, but there is no magic wand. Scotland will not overnight be transformed into a land flowing with milk and honey. A referendum cannot immediately wash away the legacy of the past. September's vote is not a straight choice between that past and an already-formed future. What is offered is the chance to alter course, to travel roads less taken, to define a destiny.

As for that future, much remains unknowable. We cannot be certain the pound will be retained, that existing terms will be easily forthcoming, that the price of oil will be higher tomorrow than it is today, that pensions will dwindle or increase in value, that businesses big and small will stay or go. We can never know the future.

Few saw the financial crash coming. You never know what is - good or bad - around the corner. The best we can do is take informed and educated guesses and create a stable, well-structured society that is able to weather whatever is thrown in its direction. Scotland has that opportunity.

We therefore believe that a currency union is probable. Likewise we are confident that Scotland will be a member of the European Union. Moreover, we are sure that Scotland, through the talent of its people and its natural resources, can not only survive economically but can thrive, bringing lasting benefits for the common good. We view the referendum not as a choice between the status quo and an uncertain future, but as between a bankrupt, political structure and the chance to remake our society in a more equal, inclusive, open and just way.

That seems to us to be a more exciting, imaginative and inspiring proposition than the alternative proposed by the No campaign. That it has been remorselessly negative need not detain us here. Its leaders have told us constantly what we can't do, aren't able to do, must avoid doing at all costs. Scotland removed from the Union, they insist, will be a poorer, parochial, rather pathetic place, with no voice in the corridors of power.

These tactics have given the media much fat on which to chew. While polls have consistently shown there to be strong support for independence - albeit not enough yet for a majority - this has not been reflected in the press. Some newspapers are against independence, others merely unsympathetic to the notion. We do not believe this to be healthy. Scotland's media should reflect the diversity of opinion within the country. We believe that in a real democracy the public should have access to a wide range of views and opinions. The media should not speak with one voice.

Diversity of opinion is reflected within the Sunday Herald's staff. Some of our team support independence, some do not, and others are still considering the arguments. Some are unconvinced by the merits of supporting a Yes vote. Far from regarding this as a weakness, we welcome it. The Sunday Herald has always been a broad church. We consider the fact a strength which we will always protect.

Nevertheless, this newspaper's view is that independence is the right course for the country to take. Another auld song, 300 years in the singing, has come to its end. The stratagems of Better Together seem only to confirm that the United Kingdom has too little to say for itself, and too little to say to Scotland. We can manage matters better on our own account, and make a future for ourselves. The prize is a better country. It is, truly, as simple as that.

That the Sunday Herald has decided to lend its support to independence does not mean that its sister papers, the daily Herald and the Evening Times, will do likewise. That is a decision for their editors to make. Nor does our decision reflect the position of our owners, the Herald and Times group. Tim Blott, managing director of the Herald and Times group, says: "Our policy is to give individual editors the freedom to decide their own newspaper's position on this hugely important constitutional issue but our own official company stance will remain non-political and neutral in the independence debate."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Herald's advocacy of independence does not mean it will support unquestioningly the Scottish National Party or its allies. We have in the past published stories and views critical of both the SNP and the Yes campaign. We will continue to do so, and to break stories and report the news, whether or not it touches on our opinion. As a newspaper, we too are proud of our independence.

And we will continue to seek the views of Better Together to maintain balance in our news stories. Clearly we do not share the views of the No campaign but we respect their right to their opinion and believe that they are as passionate about Scotland's future as we are. This is not an argument which should be mired in personal hatred.

Scotland is an ancient nation and a modern society. We understand the past, as best we can, and guess at the future. But history is as nothing to the lives of the children being born now, this morning, in the cities, towns and villages of this country. On their behalf, we assert a claim to a better, more decent, more just future in which a country's governments will be ruled always by the decisions of its citizens.

Scots have never been afraid to astonish the world. A small country has made a habit of producing big thinkers. The Sunday Herald says that it is time to think big once again. And to think for ourselves.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Trimble Turns Purple Again

David Trimble, the former Ulster Unionist leader, was speaking on the Daily Politics Show about the upcoming Scottish Referendum.

"If the referendum in Scotland goes in the way I regard as the wrong result, that will change the political context in Northern Ireland," he said.

Trimble added that "would cause strains".

"It would put what is now a non-issue [a possible referendum] into a major issue and it would be divisive, obviously."

On Thursday, 18 September, registered voters in Scotland will be asked the referendum question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Those voters will have a straight choice between "yes" and "no".