Hors de Combat

The Rag-man's Bugle


It is common knowledge that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is a great admirer of Winston Churchill. He has written a biography of the wartime leader, and it is reputed that his relentless drive to become leader of the Conservative Party, and thus PM, has grown out of a desire to emulate the great man.

Watching his daily press briefings during the current health crisis, I cannot help wondering whether, somewhere in his secret heart, Boris is relishing having a situation to manage which has been described as ‘the most serious since World War II.’

These thoughts were further stimulated by hearing his choice of metaphor in a recent broadcast: according to our national leader at Westminster, we are ‘at war’ with the virus.

Unfortunately, Boris’ rhetorical style does not match up to that of his erstwhile hero. Instead of a clear and measured delivery, our PM provides…

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Is this real research or just a commercial activity?

Herald and Dundee prof trumpet 0.02% drop. Our expert comment by stewartb at bottom of post. Warning: Heaveee! https://talkingupscotlandtwo.com/2020/02/27/is-this-real-research-or-just-a-commercial-activity/comment-page-1/#comment-3551

Talking-Up Scotland Collective

In the Herald this morning:

‘SCOTTISH children are no longer the best at reading across the UK and Ireland – after being knocked off the top spot in a “stinging blow” toeducationleaders. The largest literacy study ever conducted in the UK, written by Professor Keith Topping from the University of Dundee, has revealed that Scottish pupils are now joint second in terms of their level of reading comprehension – on a par with England and behind Northern Ireland.’


I can find no sign of ‘proper’ peer-reviewed research, published in a credible journal, but only this press release on the Dundee University website:

‘The What Kids Are Reading Report 2020, written by the University of Dundee’s Professor Keith Topping for reading practice and assessment provider Renaissance UK, showed thatScottish youngsters have slipped behind Northern Ireland and have come joint second in terms of level of reading comprehension…

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Fireworks as leading researcher watches third misuse of research in one morning to report Scotland down

I’d just finished reporting on BBC Scotland’s misrepresentation on research on business confidence and on wildlife decline when Sally McNair said:

It follows mounting public concern about irresponsible use [of fireworks] including emergency services.

My not always reliable recall immediately said ‘No, fib!’ I had a quick search and found this from November 2018

Now if there is mounting concern about the irresponsible use of fireworks, I’d like to see a source. BBC editorial guidelines require one. However, even if there was such evidence, it would be misjudged because the irresponsible use of fireworks is unambiguously in decline:

From Police Scotland:

Police in Edinburgh have praised the support of the public and partner organisations following a successful Halloween and Bonfire Night policing operation.

Between Wednesday 31st October and Monday 5th November, reported antisocial behaviour in the city fell from 747 incidents in 2017, to 552 incidents in 2018. This equates to 195 fewer calls and a reduction of 26%.

In the North East, a 53% reduction in calls relating to Bonfire Night offences were received on Monday 5th November, with the North West recording a 35% fall in antisocial behaviour during this evening, in comparison with Bonfire Night 2017.

While there were a number of reported incidents where attempts were made to target police and other emergency service personnel, no officers were injured, and no police vehicles were damaged during the evening.

Sunday 4th November 2018 saw 56 reported ASB incidents and 19 fireworks offences, compared to 157 and 146 respectively for Sunday 5th November 2017. This equates to a 64% reduction for antisocial behaviour and an almost 87% reduction for crimes involving fireworks.



We’re moving! New URL

(Note: Owner of the image above, let me know how I should credit it)

After years of defending the url thoughtcontrolscotland.com we’re moving to


Though I stand by my position on thought control in democracies, too many have said to me that they do not share posts because they and the potential recipients perceive the term as paranoid or conspiracy theoristish. So, pragmatically, 50 years after Neal Ascherson woke me, TuS is moving to become Talking-Up Scotland II (Scottish Research Group).

I think that sounds like it has the kind of gravitas Neil Lennon wants for Celtic FC and I hope the SRG doesn’t sound too Rees-Moggy.

Do follow and update your bookmarks.




Is there nothing Scotland CAN do? ‘Experts’ say Scottish plastic bottle return scheme is RUBBISH but for 250 million people it works and for England…..?

Above from Scottish ‘experts’ and below from the Scottish Parliament:

As of 2017, more than a quarter of a billion people live in places which run modern deposit return systems. The newest system is Lithuania’s, introduced in February 2016, with New South Wales scheduled to introduce deposits later in 2017.

A refundable deposit payable on drinks containers is not a new idea. An earlier version of this approach was introduced in 1905 in Scotland, when drinks manufacturers came together to agree a half penny deposit on empty bottles. Although this simple system worked well for refillable bottles for more than 50 years, proposals to extend it to cover single use cans and plastic bottles were defeated in Westminster in 1981.


And, from the Department For Environment Food and Rural Affairs:

If introduced, we anticipate that a DRS will help reduce the amount of littering in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, boost recycling levels for relevant material, offer the enhanced possibility to collect high quality materials in greater quantities and promote recycling through clear labelling and consumer messaging.


Does the Scheme Threaten Scotland’s Progress on Child Obesity?

BBC Scotland once more hide SNP Government’s policy success to create scare on obesity in women

‘Experts predict Scottish women less likely to be obese than those in England and Wales’ ‘BBC Scotland try to scare Scottish women with fears of obesity’ Combined male/female figures https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/morbid-obesity-double-britain-poverty-education-employment-study-a8369731.html At 06:26am and repeated six times throughout the morning: ‘Cancer…


Embracing sustainable aviation just latest in Scottish Government’s 200 plus efforts to counter Tory Brexit disaster

As the opposition transport spokespersons spend their days digging for any old evidence of something bad which they can feed to Reporting Scotland, The SNP Transport Secretary covers the ground to get something going for the Scottish economy:

Scotland’s Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Secretary, Michael Matheson MSP, today visited Cranfield University on a fact-finding mission to learn more about the latest technological developments in sustainable aerospace and aviation. On the visit, the Transport Secretary heard from Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University, about their work on ‘Project Fresson’ with Loganair which aims to develop the world’s first electric-powered passenger flights on island-hopping routes between Orkney and Kirkwall. Professor Iain Gray, Director of Aerospace at Cranfield University, said: “I was delighted to show the Transport Secretary around Cranfield’s global research airport with its unique facilities. We are already seeing Scotland embracing sustainable aviation through developments such as ‘Project Fresson’ and it was a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate to Mr Matheson what more could be achieved through technological developments.


Project Fresson:

As revealed in the Press & Journal, Scottish airline Loganair is working with aerospace experts at Cranfield University to convert a nine-seater aircraft for use on short journeys between Kirkwall and Orkney’s other islands. Aberdeen-born Professor Iain Gray, director of aerospace at the Bedfordshire university, said a proposed consortium had been formed for the £10 million project, which has been named after 20th-Century Highlands and Islands air pioneer Captain Ted Fresson. Professor Gray said he believes Scotland has a “very significant role” to play in the development of electric aircraft and that the island-hopping services offer “an ideal introductory route for such an aircraft”.


Previous reports of Scottish Government getting on with day job:

From the Arctic Circle to India: Scottish Government gets on with post-Brexit strategy

November 19, 2018

An earlier example of cultural exchange? From the Scottish government website today: ‘Deputy First Minister John Swinney will visit India next week to further strengthen ties between the two countries. The visit will focus on Technology and Life Sciences, promote…

SNP make second visit to Arctic Circle Assembly as part of post-Brexit strategy to save Scotland. Loyalist parties and media CGAF?

October 20, 2018

I’ve reported on many earlier initiatives at: Scotland moves closer to the Arctic Circle Scottish Government pushes on past 200 initiatives to counter Tory Brexit damage Now: ‘External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop will reaffirm Scotland’s commitment to growing links between Scotland and…

As Scottish Tories fiddle with themselves SNP have met possible economic partners more than 200 times

May 27, 2019

From news.gov.scot yesterday: ‘First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will highlight Scotland’s growing political, cultural and business links with Ireland and explore the potential for further investment during a visit to Dublin. The First Minister, who will meet with the Taoiseach during…

Scotland’s energy production to link with Norway

January 15, 2019

There have been several reports here of the Scottish Government’s plans to link Scotland, economically and culturally, with Scandinavia and the wider Arctic Circle countries. See: Scotland’s Nordic-Baltic Co-operation SNP Government making new links to North and East in preparation…

Scottish Government pushes on past 200 initiatives to counter Tory Brexit damage

August 21, 2018

In May this year, I was able to report: ‘More than 200 engagements between Scottish Government ministers and European governments, institutions and organisations have taken place since the start of 2017. The ‘strong desire’ to connect with Scotland…

Getting on with the day-job? First Minister is in Brussels for 201st attempt to counter Tory Brexit damage to Scottish economy

May 28, 2018

From Insider today: ‘The First Minister will officially open Scotland House and also meet Michel Barnier to raise fears about Brexit’s ‘damaging uncertainty’. Nicola Sturgeon is set to officially open the expanded Scotland House in Brussels…

Scottish Government makes 200 European links in effort to counter damage from Tory hard Brexit. BBC Scotland says: ‘eh, what, when?’

May 10, 2018

I’ve already reported on individual initiatives by the Scottish Government to reduce the impact of Brexit and to protect Scotland’s vital trade and cultural links with, especially, Scandinavia, the Arctic Circle, the Baltic and Ireland. See: Scotland to…

Scottish Government pushes ahead to strengthen trade links as a bad Brexit looms.

October 30, 2017

On October 4th, I reported on the First Minister’s visit to Dublin to meet with the Taoiseach and deliver the keynote speech at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner. Scotland to strengthen links with Ireland as well as Scandinavia…

SNP acts to maintain and enhance Scotland’s trade surplus

September 8, 2017

As you know, Scotland is the only part of the UK with a trade surplus Deficit/Surplus in 2016 England           -£120 038 000 000 Wales              – £55 000 000 Scotland          +£2 148 000 000 N Ireland         – £4 039 000 000…

8% of the people 20% of the space sector jobs

May 11, 2019

From Government EUROPA yesterday: ‘The UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) has announced the Scottish space sector is projected to be worth up to £4 billion (€4.63 billion) by 2030. Scotland’s space industry comprises a significant proportion of space…