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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 5,637

Journal Archives

Boris Johnson 'a clown' with no diplomacy skills, says ex-deputy in diaries

Ex-Foreign Office deputy Sir Alan Duncan says PM mistakes regular headlines for political power

Sir Alan Duncan, the MP for Rutland and Melton from 1992 until the last election, said the prime minister was “a clown, a self-centred ego, an embarrassing buffoon, with an untidy mind and sub-zero diplomatic judgment”.

“He is an international stain on our reputation,” Duncan added, in diaries that have been serialised in the Daily Mail.

The diaries, made into a book titled The Thick of It, cover his final four years in parliament during Brexit and Johnson’s move to Downing Street. Duncan served on the Conservative frontbenches for 18 years and was a former minister for international development.
Duncan also claimed he had had a row with Johnson over a press report about diplomats treating him as an “international joke”.

Johnson is said to have asked: “Why don’t they take me seriously?” Duncan claims he replied: “Look in the f***ing mirror!”


With this appearing in the likes of the Mail, I can't help wondering whether the Tory grandees and backers are growing rather tired of Johnson now he's more or less served their purposes.

UK government won't deny censoring LSE report showing independent Scotland could be economic success

Westminster refuses to deny it pushed academics to delete blog on indy Scotland
The post, published on the London School of Economics British Politics and Policy website, was co-authored by Geoffrey Chapman who advises the Department for International Trade on economics.

He and co-author Richard Mackenzie-Gray Scott, of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, wrote that: “Scotland satisfies all the international legal criteria for statehood, with one exception: it lacks the formal authority to enter into foreign relations, even though it has the literal ability to do so.”
The article stated: “With modest population growth alongside good GDP growth, supported by stable participation in international trade, it seems Scotland is in a far better initial condition than either the Czech or Slovak Republics, and can therefore expect similar (if not better) post-independence outcomes.”

A UK Government spokesperson previously told The National: “This is not the view of the Department for International Trade or the UK Government, and the matter is being looked into."


The post which was taken down can be accessed here via The Wayback Machine: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/scottish-independence-cost/

Its conclusion reads:

Regarding the available trade data between 2002 and 2018, Scotland’s export shares are relatively stable. In 2002, Scotland exported 23% to the EU, 18% to non-EU, and 58% to the rest of the UK. The rest of the UK’s share peaked in 2007 at 67%, when the EU received 16% and non-EU 17%. However, the rest of the UK’s share has tapered off since and as of 2018, was standing at 60% (with the EU receiving 19% and non-EU 21%). Since 2007, counterbalancing the downward trajectory of the rest of the UK’s share has been an increasing trend in Scotland’s non-EU trade, rising from 17% to 21% in 2018. Scotland’s top five international export destinations accounted for £15.1 billion of all exports in 2018, with the top five markets being the US, France, Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. The US remains Scotland’s top international export destination, accounting for an estimated £5.5 billion in 2018.

Moreover, Scotland’s exports to the EU grew by an average of 4% per year over the last five years, and since 2010, growth to the EU outpaced growth to the rest of the world and the rest of the UK by a significant margin. Scotland is not only becoming more economically integrated with the EU (see here), but seemingly also with non-EU partners. Scotland’s historic economic performance has been strong, which bodes well for a small, open and independent Scotland. With modest population growth alongside good GDP growth, supported by stable participation in international trade, it seems Scotland is in a far better initial condition than either the Czech or Slovak Republics, and can therefore expect similar (if not better) post-independence outcomes.

In light of long-run economic growth and stability, it might be worthwhile for Scotland to attempt entering into foreign relations with other states and international organisations if there was no cooperation from the UK to take forward another referendum result favouring independence. A key factor is that if the UK did not respect any future referendum result favouring independence, unilateral Scottish secession would become more legitimate, meaning international recognition of Scotland as an independent state would arguably be more likely. Although the UK currently respects the right of Scots to self-determination, this would no longer be the case if the UK did not take the appropriate steps to implement a referendum result favouring independence.

With regional stability in the interests of all parties, any referendum favouring Scottish independence should be enacted through a staged approach to secession in compliance with constitutional law to minimise the economic cost on the UK and Scotland. The rule of law should be at the heart of any Scottish secession to allow for the best possible economic outcomes for people in Scotland and the UK. Such a process also depends on the politics between the UK and Scottish governments being cooperative, open-minded, and transparent. Nevertheless, although political amicability between the UK and Scotland is preferable, it is not indispensable for Scotland to become independent and continue prospering thereafter, particularly if Scotland negotiates access to the EU single market.

Considering Scotland has all the necessary machinery in place to become an independent state, we see no obvious reasons why Scotland would not succeed economically if it were to do so, especially if achieved within the bounds of the law. Although our findings might be controversial to some, we hope to show that Scottish independence, while not inevitable, is far more nuanced a matter than many have claimed. There exist several options worth pursuing for the parties to this debate.

A note on the LSE website reads: "Update 2 April: We have been asked by the authors to take this article down temporarily. We will be making it available again as soon as we are able to and apologise for any inconvenience caused."

Jennifer Arcuri admits four-year affair with serial love cheat Boris Johnson

WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Jennifer Arcuri reveals all about her four-year affair with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, including sexy pics and trips as the PM faces a probe over his conduct


The businesswoman says they slept together at the flat where she had a pole dancer’s pole.

She says they met up once a week at the height of the affair, she sent arty topless pictures and admits: “I loved him. I adored him.”

Jennifer reveals a mutual “physical and intellectual attraction”. They shared a love of Shakespeare, she codenamed him Alexander the Great, and she says he loved her body and mind and “couldn’t keep his hands off me” on their first tryst.

But ultimately, she says, he was a “cowardly wet noodle” for not standing by her in the row over her presence on foreign trade trips.

Probably MUCH more than you ever wanted to know here: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/boris-johnson-affair-jennifer-arcuri-23798478

Politicians' sex lives seldom interest me much unless they're guilty of hypocrisy or some sort of violence. Johnson's involvement with Arcuri is more germane because it reflects his behaviour as Mayor of London and financial questions that have been raised before now. The controversy over foreign trade trips in the last sentence above is one example, and the article later comments: "The Greater London Authority probe will examine whether he breached the Nolan Principles of Public Life. It will examine whether he behaved with 'honesty and integrity', whether Jennifer was given 'preferential treatment' and if there was any conflict of interest which should have been declared."

Arcuri seems to feel wronged in a variety of ways, criticizes Johnson for not being willing to be upfront about his personal and business relationship with her, and basically labels him a wimp for not being man enough to brazen the situation out.

Will this sum up to anything more than another glitch for Johnson? Probably not. He already has a reputation as a bit of a cad, and like the rest of his party, seems like Teflon when it comes to accusations of financial shenanigans, of which there are many, and many much more serious than those touched on in this article.

Still, it'll no doubt liven up many a Sunday morning as we all groggily come to terms with the annual ritual of robbing us of an hour's sleep.

Just had my first COVID shot

My wife had hers a couple of weeks ago because she has (well-controlled) asthma. I'm in my early 60s, so it's evidently the turn of my age group round here (west of Scotland, near Glasgow). We've both been given the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

In both cases, we received a phone call from a practice nurse a couple of days beforehand and fixed up a time slot. We were advised to check the practice's Facebook page before setting out in case there'd been a problem with the supply of the particular batch.

The village health centre car park was as full as I've ever seen it. Everything was well organized. I was booked in for 11.15 am and was out by 11.18. Like my recent flu vaccine, the shot itself was painless. They asked me to sit in my car for five minutes afterwards in case of any immediate reaction, and handed me a card explaining possible side-effects - soreness and redness around the injection site, a day or two's fever etc. My wife suffered no serious ill effects from her jag, just some residual soreness in her arm, so here's hoping.

I don't know how this experience compares to others elsewhere in the UK. I hope any of you, whether you have special need of the vaccine or not, have been able to access it with no delays or problems.

Meteor sighted across UK (tweet-heavy thread)

At least 60 fireball sightings have come in from southern Scotland to Cardiff and London tonight:





Some folks were a bit spooked:


"January ... February ... April ... March." Covid Vaccine Minister rejigs the calendar

Part-time Bond villain Nadhim Zahawi's performance in interview earlier today doesn't exactly reassure that the government has its ducks in a row with its Lockdown Roadmap (yeah, it's a Momentum video, but that's the account that posted it on Twitter).


Momentum 🌹

The Vaccines Minister claims, TWICE, in TWO separate interviews, that March comes after April.

[Twitter video]

I don't know what's worse:

- the fact he coldly, deliberatively and, by his own lights, logically sets out a timeline where the "three-week gap" between mid-April, when the government expects to have given the first vaccine dose to all over-50s, gives time for protection to kick in before schools open on 8 March

- the fact that seemingly none of the interviewers pick him up on it

- the creeping suspicion that when the Roadmap was discussed in Cabinet, either nobody saw the flaw in the timing, nobody was paying attention, or nobody wanted to be "that guy" who rocked the boat

Tunnel vision: now PM sets his sights on a roundabout under the Isle of Man

It's a drab February, the ever-mounting post-Brexit cockup heap and the pandemic are making for misery all round, and we're nowhere near silly season yet, so it appears the UK government have set up a special unit to fill the void:

As flights of political fancy go, Boris Johnson’s desire to build a tunnel between Great Britain and Northern Ireland might seem to be one of the most audacious.

However, Whitehall officials have revealed that one version of the plan worked up in Downing Street went even further, envisaging not one but three tunnels under the Irish Sea connecting in an “underground roundabout” beneath the Isle of Man.

No 10 officials given the task of examining how Johnson’s blue-sky thinking might be feasible quickly concluded that the original plan of a link between Stranraer in Scotland and Larne in Northern Ireland was impractical.


The Times exclusive fades out at that point unless you're a subscriber, so let's turn to a more tabloid treatment:

Boris ‘wants to build giant roundabout under the Isle of Man’

The prime minister has hopes of building an ‘underground roundabout’ beneath the Isle of Man to connect Britain to Northern Ireland, Whitehall sources claim.

Under the alleged plans, the transport network would see as many three tunnels heading out from England and Scotland in a bid to iron out post-Brexit trade issues across the UK.

They would connect at a roundabout named ‘Douglas Junction’, after the island’s capital, before heading out across the Irish Sea beneath the Isle of Man, reports The Sunday Times.

Several senior Whitehall sources are said to have dismissed the roundabout plan as ’round the bend’ but it is so beloved by Boris Johnson that ‘it cannot die’.
A source told The Times: ‘Everyone knows Boris wants to do this so people were asked to look at how.’

However, another source said while some senior aides describe the plan as ‘bats**t’, they acknowledge it as a ‘Fuhrer bunker project’.

One told the paper: ‘Just as Hitler moved around imaginary armies in the dying days of the Third Reich, so the No 10 policy unit is condemned to keep looking at this idea, which exists primarily in the mind of the PM.’


So we're not quite at the stage of "Let's just buy Greenland" yet, but it may not be far off.

I commented on the idea of a bridge (or tunnel) between Scotland and Northern Ireland being a non-starter back in September 2019: https://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1088&pid=17500

It seems the government's analyses have come to the same conclusion, so the solution they've come up with is to use the Isle of Man as a stepping stone/undersea roundabout in a vast network of tunnels under the Irish Sea:

Now, we could spend this dark evening, and probably a few more, picking apart the idiocy and megalomania of this idea, but here's a few points for starters.

The Isle of Man is neither in the UK nor the EU, but as a Crown dependency it has its own tax regime and is in a customs union with the UK, so using it for hopscotch will likely add to complications rather than reduce them. It's also unclear whether anyone in Westminster has thought to ask the Manx government how it feels about all this, which would seem a good starting point.

For the next point, I can't improve on the expression of this Twitter user:


Apart from the obvious logistical illiteracy of this idea, I feel obliged to point out that [wearily grabs megaphone] TUNNELS DON’T CHANGE THE FUCKING LAW WE ALREADY HAVE A TUNNEL TO THE EU AND IT HASN’T SOLVED A FUCKING THING YOU MAD TWAT

Or put more politely:

Dr Anna Jerzewska
And for all of you tweeting a pic of Faroe Islands tunnels at me:

1. Yes, it's possible. Norway and Iceland also have some really lovely tunnels

2. It's a network of ca 11km and it took 3 years.

and most importantly...

Dr Anna Jerzewska
The biggest barrier between NI and GB isn't the sea - it's the newly introduced customs and regulatory border and you can't dig a tunnel under that.

Of course, the point isn't whether any of these tunnels/bridges/whatever will ever actually get built. Aside from being a handy distraction from *gestures vaguely and widely* all this, there's a bundle of money to be made from carrying out feasibility studies etc. Just ask those involved in London's Garden Bridge. That cost £53 million before it was abandoned, and it was only meant to be a few hundred yards long.

Matt Hancock acted unlawfully by failing to publish Covid contracts

High court judge rules failure to publish details of contracts within 30 days was transparency breach
The judgment is a victory for the Good Law Project (GLP), a crowdfunded not-for-profit organisation that is making a series of legal challenges related to the government’s procurement of protective personal equipment (PPE) and other services during the pandemic.
Research by the procurement consultancy Tussell had found Hancock’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) had spent about £15bn buying PPE from different companies by the beginning of October, but that only £2.68bn worth of contracts had been published.
The GLP highlighted three PPE contracts to illustrate their case: a £252m contract for the supply of face masks with a finance company, Ayanda Capital; a £108m contract with Clandeboye Agencies, which had previously supplied only confectionery products, and PPE contracts worth £345m with a company trading as Pestfix.

None of the contracts was published within the required 30-day period. Tussell found that the average time for publication of Covid-19 related contracts was 47 days, which meant the government’s own 30-day deadline was likely to have been breached “in a substantial number of cases”, Chamberlain said.


Police launch probe after large snake found in Greenock (in the west of Scotland)

Picture reveal snakes on the loose in Greenock

GREENOCK residents have been left rattled after two huge snakes were discovered in the town.

Walkers spotted one on the hillside at The Cut and another was found just across the road from the Broomhill Tavern pub, pictured.

Pictures emerged on social media of a workman at the scene of the unusual find on Drumfrochar Road.

It is not known how the animals came to be roaming free in the town and at least one of them was lifeless when discovered.

The Tele has contacted the council, police and the SSPCA.

The SSPCA said it had not yet received a report of the find.


Police launch probe after large snake found in Greenock

POLICE have launched an investigation following today's bizarre discovery of a huge snake just off a busy Greenock street.

The Tele reported this afternoon that it was one of two that had been discovered.

It was found just off Drumfrochar Road, opposite the Broomhill Tavern pub.

Another was reportedly spotted lying dead on the hillside at The Cut.

Reports were then made of a third snake discovered on land behind the fire station in Gourock.

Local police tonight say they have recovered one, approximately 14' long.

It is alive and currently being examined and cared for at a local veterinary practice.

Police said there had been a number of other similar reports relating to snakes being spotted in the local community.


This is an uncropped version of the pic above:

This explanation is just a rumour on Facebook at the moment, but ...

At the moment, our cat and I are glad the Clyde's between us and Greenock.

Hang on. Does anyone know if snakes of this size can swim?

Ultra-concise Pandemic Timeline


Bird Facts

Pandemic Day 25: I made bread

Day 95: I sure do miss my friends


Day 310: The White House appears to be under the control of a shirtless man in a Viking helmet

Day 330: Reddit’s coordinated attack on Wall Street is going as planned
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