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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 5,715

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Bomb disposal (cartoon)

[Scottish] Tory MSP: Rape clause is 'fair' as it means poor have fewer kids

THE welfare spokeswoman for the Scottish Tories has been denounced after saying benefit curbs and a related 'rape clause' are fair because they stop the poor having as many children as people in work.

Michelle Ballantyne, a mother-of-six, was lambasted after defending the two-child limit on tax credits in a Holyrood debate on poverty and inequality.


The two-child limit denies some benefit to mothers with more than two children unless they declare one was the result of rape.


The exchange in question, sparked by a question from Secretary for Communities and Local Government Aileen Campbell, can be seen on Twitter (and SNP MSP Tom Arthur's response doesn't just "denounce" Ballantyne's words, it rips her a whole new 'un):


Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984

Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne's shocking contribution to the debate on austerity, poverty & inequality regarding the two-child limit, and the belter of a response from SNP MSP Tom Arthur.

(H/T: @gdog2010_john)

For those who can't view the clip, here's Aileen Campbell's reaction

and here's what Tom Arthur said (quite heatedly towards the end):

I thank the member for her intervention. The issue comes down to the fundamental point and crux of the debate—that there are two views of what this Parliament is for.

There is the view of the Labour Party, which is that it is a buffer. Alex Cole-Hamilton spoke about the Parliament having to mop up the consequences of Tory welfare reforms. That is a view and a philosophy that the Labour Party is entitled to, but it is not the view that I have. I do not want this to be the Parliament that mitigates; I want this to be the Parliament with all the powers, including powers over employment law, so that we can make sure that there is a real living wage and under 25s are not being paid the poverty national minimum wage. I want to have the full range of powers so that we can truly transform Scotland. I want the full powers so that we do not live in a country where colleagues of Michelle Ballantyne get to dictate social security policy.

I have to say that the speech from Michelle Ballantyne was one of the most disgraceful speeches that I have ever heard in my two and a half years in this Parliament—six minutes of pompous Victorian moralising that would have been better suited to the pages of a Dickens novel.

She suggests that poverty should be a barrier to a family and that people who are poor are not entitled to any more than two children—what an absolutely disgraceful position. She should be utterly, utterly ashamed of herself.

The best is yet to come - from later in the Herald article:

[Ballantyne] admitted she had claimed child benefit for each of her six children, but said she had been on an income of less than £25,000 and made sacrifices to have a large family.

Ballantyne later admitted that she didn't just claim Child Benefit, but also Tax Credits:


Paul Hutcheon @paulhutcheon

Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne has confirmed claiming tax credits and child benefit

She owns a textile mill in the Scottish Borders (whose workers' wages are no doubt also subsidized by Tax Credits), has long been a local councillor (with the additional income that brings from the public purse), and only became an MSP last year because another Tory resigned, so Ballantyne was elevated to the Scottish Parliament from her 13th place on the Tories' Regional List (after the revolution, the D'Hondt PR system really has to go ...). As an MSP, she's also eligible for free childcare.

Ballantyne didn't quite go so far as Tory MP Ben Bradley in a 2012 blog post for which he later apologized - Tory MP Ben Bradley said benefit claimants should be sterilised - but that's likely because she doesn't do joined-up thinking rather than out of any sense of humanity.

Three fracking protesters jailed by judge with family links to oil and gas firm FREED

Three anti-fracking activists jailed for a protest at Cuadrilla's Preston New Road site in Lancashire have been freed by the Court of Appeal.

Soil scientist Simon Blevins, 26, from Sheffield, teacher Richard Roberts, 36 of London, and piano restorer Rich Loizou, 32, from Devon, had their jail terms quashed and replaced with conditional discharges.

The trio, known as the “Fracking Three”, are believed to be the first environmental activists to be imprisoned for public nuisance since 1932.

They had been jailed by Judge Robert Altham - who the Mirror revealed has family links to the oil and gas industry.


The activists have been released after six weeks in prison. Sadly, Robert Altham is still at large.

Altham's Wikipedia page here (includes the snippet that his ancestor, Sir James Altham, served as a judge during the Pendle witch trials in the 17th century): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Altham

Here's The Guardian's coverage of Altham's undeclared conflict of interest:

Fracking protesters walk free after court quashes 'excessive' sentences


Questions over the original trial judge’s family links to the oil and gas industry were also raised in court on Wednesday. Judge Robert Altham’s father and sister run JC Altham and Sons, a company believed to be part of the supply chain for energy giant Centrica, which has invested tens of millions of pounds in fracking.

The judicial conduct investigations office later confirmed it had “received a complaint regarding HHJ Robert Altham, which will be considered in accordance with the judicial conduct (judicial and other office holders) rules 2014”.


It also emerged in the hearing that Altham had refused the defendants an opportunity to bring a defence of necessity in their original trial.

“The judge explicitly stated pre-trial he would not hear any evidence about fracking,” Brimelow said, explaining that such a restriction prevented her clients from bringing arguments relating to their rights to protest and free speech.


Altham's sister, Jane Watson, was one of the signatories of an open letter released by a body calling itself the "North West Energy Task Force" in 2016 titled "Lancashire business leaders to local council: 'Give shale a chance.'": https://web.archive.org/web/20160616073508/http://www.nwenergy.org.uk:80/lancashire_business_leaders_to_local_council_give_shale_a_chance

The North West Energy Task Force is funded by Centrica and Cuadrilla.

Even before this appeal verdict, Blackpool South Labour MP Gordon Marsden last week tabled three parliamentary written questions about Altham's conduct and whether it breached the judicial code.

Maybe, MAYBE, Murkowski's being uncharacteristically principled.

Or maybe it's to do with another case that's causing a rightful stir in Alaska:

Lisa Murkowski's Vote on Brett Kavanaugh Is Looking Tougher Than Ever
A startling incident in her home state brings things into focus—and ramps up the stakes.

There is a boatload of red-hot outrage in the state of Alaska at the moment at the decision by a judge to go easy on a man who was convicted of throttling a woman, and, in the exact wording of the charges, "committing harassment by contact with bodily fluids." From Alaska Public Radio:

Police said the victim in the August 2017 assault reported that the man — later identified as Justin Schneider, now 34 — offered her a ride across town. Instead, Schneider choked her unconscious and — at least according to the original charges — committed harassment by offensive contact with bodily fluids. Anchorage TV station KTVA reported that Schneider was a “free man” Wednesday after Superior Court Judge Corey accepted a plea deal and sentenced Schneider. The state agreed to drop the kidnapping and harassment charges and Schneider was sentenced to time served.

Williams says the night she saw the KTVA report, she discovered online that Corey’s six-year term on the Superior Court was up for a retention vote this November. “And, ultimately, it is the judge who’s responsible because he’s responsible for who walks out of court. And in this case we really think he messed up,” Williams said. Williams says she understands that the judge was sentencing Schneider under the guidelines for the remaining charge in the deal prosecutors struck. And she thinks the laws should be tougher and prosecutors should feel pressure, too. But, Williams says, the judges are the ones voters can directly affect.

So the judge is probably roadkill. But, as my very smart friend said, think about this. In this moment, with her home state embroiled in a huge #MeToo moment, does Senator Lisa Murkowski really want to be the vote that helps Brett Kavanaugh to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court? I'm not sure she does.


Giuliani: "Please make it STOP!!1!"

I paraphrase:

Giuliani Says Mueller Must Be ‘Winding Down’

Rudy Giuliani told the Washington Post that he believes special counsel Robert Mueller “might be at the end” of his investigation after his prosecutors won a conviction against Paul Manafort on eight counts against him.

Said Giuliani: “He has to be winding down. What else is there? Near the end.”


#Brexit: A Titanic Failure (short Twitter movie)


(Posted as a standalone because I love it so much.)

I really don't need an apology!

But this thread isn't the first time on my thirty or so years on the Internet when I've read similar claims from Americans that "cunt" isn't a big deal in the UK. When I was in school, far too long ago, it was the worst insult you could call someone, an invite to a punch-up, and that's still true in most everyday contexts nowadays.

It's widely referred to as "the C-bomb", and its shocking impact is used deliberately for effect by some comedians, for instance.

In the context of Trump's visit, let's consider Janey Godley, a notoriously "earthy" Glasgow comedian.

She uses the "c-word" and others liberally in her act for effect. She achieved a degree of fame/notoriety during Trump's Turnberry visit in 2016 on the day after the Brexit vote:

I got out of the bus and stood proudly with my sign “TRUMP IS A CUNT” the cops saw my sign and harassed me into folding it up.

“haha now nobody will see your stupid poster” the cop said.

It went viral, the world saw it so fuck him.


Now here she is during Trump's latest visit:

If the word isn't considered offensive, then why would she play on the idea of self-censorship during this visit?

The photoshop in the OP is a play on Godley's earlier placard and the fuss it provoked - in fact the placard the Queen's "holding" is a clip of Godley's sign.

That's the joke!

Mrs. Denzil was at the George Square demo. Some pics from Twitter:

David Davis resigns as Brexit secretary [UPDATE: JOHNSON'S GONE TOO!]

It comes after Mr Davis is understood to have disagreed with Theresa May's plans for future customs arrangements with EU.

Tory Brexiteers have threatened to challenge the prime minister's leadership over a strategy agreed by ministers after 12 hours of closed talks at Chequers on Friday.

Some Conservative MPs told The Independent they believed there could be enough disgruntled MPs willing to trigger a leadership contest in a bid to remove Ms May.

But even if the 48 needed to oust Ms May materialised, a poll for The Independent showed a majority of the public would expect a general election to be called if Ms May goes.


I'd class this resignation as breaking news, so details are thin at the moment, but it's been confirmed by various outlets, including the BBC.

Marina Hyde: "Keep calm - the Top Guns of Brexit have got our backs"

Barely two weeks after Russian phone pranksters taped him being indiscreet, I see Boris Johnson’s been the victim of another leaked recording. Speaking at a private dinner for Conservative Way Forward, the foreign secretary asked his audience not to panic during the coming Brexit “meltdown”, warned we may not get the Brexit we want, and implied the UK needed more “guts” in EU talks.


Still, tell you who else goes in bloody hard: David Davis. Don’t take my word for it – take Nadine Dorries’, even if she hasn’t been playing with a full set of patio furniture since the MPs’ expenses scandal. “David Davis is ex SAS,” thundered the member for Mid Bedfordshire this week. “He’s trained to survive. He’s also trained to take people out.” Actually, don’t take Nadine’s word for it, take David’s himself. Here’s the DExEU secretary on the joker who ambushed Theresa May during her conference speech last September: “He’s lucky I didn’t hit him. He’d have been down for a long time.” Ooh. Diet Coke break, girls!


Reading this faintly excruciating comment at the time, I went back to the footage from the conference hall, and could see the main reason why David Davis doesn’t take down the potential security threat to the prime minister is that David Davis stays sitting in his chair the whole time. So all we’re really left with is his timeworn yen for self-dramatisation. When Colombian criminals kidnapped a British defence attache in Bogotá in 1995, Davis was the foreign office duty minister, and inspired a Cobra meeting with the declaration: “Failure is not an option.” Personally I think it’s fine to quote Apollo 13, which was in cinemas at the time – but it is poor form not to attribute.


Incidentally, when I was writing this newspaper’s Diary column – some time in the early cretaceous period – I solicited reminiscences of Davis’s time in the SAS (territorial). A couple of his former brothers-in-arms got in touch with memories of TA 21-SAS (V). I had two favourite anecdotes. The first was when Davis was required to coordinate an ambush, and opted to position his men on either side of the road so that – had the exercise been real – the soldiers would have opened fire on each other. The Sun Tzu of DExEU, there. The second story saw Davis charged with managing an “escape and evasion” mission. “It was supposed to last five days,” recalled one of his men. “But he accidentally led us through a choke point – a kind of bottleneck where trackers always wait – and got us captured inside 36 hours. So we were put in a truck, blindfolded, driven around, and dropped at night on an undisclosed remote hill to start all over again.” I mean … the jokes are too easy, aren’t they?


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