Phew back to normal as Herald publishes inadequate SNP-bad stuff again


Here’s the headline:

‘SNP ministers struggling to deliver hit 100% superfast broadband’

It’s a bit of an SNPBad parody this one, with ‘SNP Government’ replacing ‘Scottish Government’ more than once and ‘SNP Minister’ replacing ‘Scottish Government Minister’. These choices of terminology reveal ideology. The writer’s clear agenda is to attack a political party rather than report factually or objectively.

Anyhow, the main issue here is ‘Where does the responsibility lie for the delivery of superfast broadband?’

It’s a very long piece with space for Jamie Greene MSP to suggest again that ‘Scotland has fallen behind England.’

What’s wrong with the piece is, first, its failure to include any consideration of the UK government’s role in this. Nearly a year ago, The Ferret did a fact check on this and found in the end:

‘While the Scottish Government has some measure of control over broadband projects, telecommunications including broadband infrastructure are ultimately still reserved by Westminster, limiting the level of decision-making available to Scottish ministers.’

And, second, missing from the Herald piece was this key contextual factor:

‘Scotland has unique difficulties in rolling out coverage to rural areas, with BT stating that the country has the “most significant geographic challenges in the UK, and arguably in Europe, when it comes to deploying fibre [broadband]”.’

Why would a Scottish newspaper, with a sale or two in the Highlands and Islands, not want to discuss these unique difficulties? Aren’t they needed in giving readers a full account?


Herald publishes entirely positive report on Scottish education. No, really, they have


After reading the headline:

‘More Scots going to university as gap between rich and poor narrows’

I read on in the full expectation of a few ‘ifs and buts’ but found nothing much at all that could bring storm clouds on the horizon of the SNP. Opening with:

‘More Scots are now getting to university. Record numbers of Scots have secured a place at university with progress on those from the poorest backgrounds, new figures show. A report by university admissions service Ucas found 33,530 Scottish students got a place in higher education – up two per cent on the previous year. The number of students from the poorest 20 per cent of neighbourhoods getting a place also hit a 10-year high after a three per cent rise. And the gap between the richest and poorest 18-year-olds getting a place is at a ten-year low.’

The report is fair and balanced. They can do it if they want to or if they can’t find negatives or if they don’t have the time to look for them or if they need one or two of these to throw back at critics – ‘We do report good news! Often!’

I suppose it would be expecting far too much to expect the writer to have been reminded of this from UCAS

The problem is that there is rather less sub-degree HE in the non-Scottish parts of the UK than in Scotland but most of what there is appears to be recruited through UCAS; meanwhile in Scotland there’s a much larger amount of HE provided in FE colleges, pretty much all at sub-degree level, which is not recruited through UCAS at all…. Indeed, it’s the HE provided in colleges which gives Scotland the edge in overall participation rates.’


A lesson hard-learned should be shared? If you’re young, healthy and after politics here, you might prefer to move on

I’m 67 and since I turned 50, I’ve been struggling with four problems – joint pain, acid reflux, sleep apnea and benign prostatis. Sleeping badly and tired all day, I sought help in drugs, surgery and machines. I got some relief but almost always paid a price of some kind.

I was overweight, 5′ 10″ and over 14 stones. One GP did suggest losing a bit of weight would help but it seemed easier to try the drugs, the surgery and the machines.

Nearly two years ago, for different reasons, I began to lose weight and noticed the joint pain fade a bit. Then the acid reflux stopped completely. Months later, as my neck thinned, the sleep apnoea seemed to disappear. Only weeks ago, I noticed my nights becoming less interrupted by the many visits to the loo for a pee. I did a quick internet search and found weight reduction one of the best ‘alternative’ remedies for an inflamed prostate gland.

I’m 12 stones now and plan to get down to around 11 though I seem to be stuck for the moment at 12.

For an ex-professor, I’ve been a damned slow learner.

I write this just in case even one of you, or someone you know, might get something out of reading it.

The diet I’ve adopted is here:

The Robertson Diet with Limited Thought Control Required

Best wishes

Dr John the Less-often Night Tripper

BBC Scotland cringe as Scotland’s GDP grew by ‘just half of one percent’ but it’s ‘more than just a bit’ better if you stand back a bit

BBC Scotland at 1.30, today, reported:

‘Scotland’s economy grew by just half of one percent.’

Why ‘just’ I wonder and why not consider, now and again, how these small increases add up over quite short periods like, say, around four years? The Scottish Government report said:

‘Scottish growth pulls ahead of the UK. In the first half of this year, Scottish GDP grew by 0.8% compared to 0.6% in the UK. This growth in the first six months of 2018 is greater than the 0.7% growth forecast made by Scottish Fiscal Commission for 2018 as a whole. Scotland’s strong growth has been supported by the Production sector which grew by 4.6% over the past 12 months, the sector’s fastest rate of growth since 2014.’

It looks pretty good, but these small steps can look quite different if you step back and look at them, combined in the growth, in billions of pounds, over three and a half years. See this:

This graph from Statista shows Scottish GDP climbing steadily from £34.4 billion in 2014 to £40 billion by mid-2018. That is a 13.99% increase in less than four years. Inflation has stayed low over this period, so the graph suggests a robust economy despite the political constraints on it.

Scotland not one of ‘all English-speaking countries’, English researchers find but our teachers may be happier

Headlined today in the Independent:

‘Teachers in England have lowest job satisfaction of all English-speaking countries, study finds’

The Independent tends to be quite careful and inclusive when it comes to virtually any minority but seems to have forgotten that we do try to speak the Inglis – ‘woht err yoo twyin to zay, Johk?

Anyhoo, here’s what the researchers found:

‘Teachers in England have lowest job satisfaction of all English-speaking countries, new study finds. Of 22 comparable countries, none have a lower level of job satisfaction among teachers than in England, according to UCL Institute of Education (IoE) research. Teachers in English-speaking countries – such as New Zealand, Canada, Australia and America – are more satisfied. Only Latvia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic had job satisfaction as low as England, the report finds.’

Can’t seem to access the full report to check whether the Welsh and the Irish were allowed in.

Ah, but are they comparatively happy?

I used to be a teacher, then a teacher educator (Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach teachers?) for decades. I was then part of the most-moany profession there is, incubating their woes in the staff room every day. So, I think I can be allowed to be a bit skeptical especially when there’s research to back me up. See this from University College London, in March 2018:

The study, presented at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference at the University of Sussex in Brighton today (28 March 2018), analyses data collected in the Workplace Employment Relations Surveys for 2004 and 2011. It finds that school staff are more satisfied and more content with their jobs than comparable employees in other workplaces, a difference that is accounted for in large part by the perception of higher job quality in schools.’

And this from the Daily Telegraph in 2013:

‘Teachers are the happiest workers in Britain, says survey’

Top 10 happiest professions:

  1. Teacher
  2. Secretary
  3. Engineer
  4. Accountant
  5. Driver
  6. Shop Assistant
  7. Caterer
  8. Tradesman e.g. builder, plumber, carpenter
  9. Lawyer / solicitor
  10. Customer care / call centre

Aye but, what about Scottish teachers? Ooor bairns are tough

See this on probationary (beginner) teachers:


83% satisfied or very satisfied! Try that with any other occupation.

See this for more experienced Scottish teachers:


Only about 25% not to happy and, within that, only about 5% really pissed sir.

So, are Scottish teachers more content/satisfied/happy than English ones? Probably but even if we werenae, we’re no whinging poms, but, ken?

Lone Tory stirs up ‘storm’ over ‘£45’ SNP loan to shipbuilder

As Storm Ali approaches, I read in today’s Herald:

‘Storm grows over £45 loan to Sturgeon’s adviser’s ferry firm’

It’s fitting that the Herald headline writer should go for the stormy metaphor though it seems to have blown a million off the headline. The error was still there two hours later. Staff shortages due to low pressure depressed readership figures?

Tom Gordon tells us:

‘The row over a £45m government loan to a struggling business owned by an adviser to Nicola Sturgeon has intensified after the Finance Secretary changed his justification for it and confirmed Holyrood was kept in the dark for seven months.’

I read on to find a storm growing or a row intensifying but could only find a wee puff of wind from Tory MSP Jamie Greene. Wasn’t he one of Robin Hood’s buddies? Mind you, Robin Hood, Tories, seems unlikely.

‘Funds from the rich, tax cuts for the rich, robbing hoods, robbing hoods!’

There’s no sign of even a rustling of leaves from the Labour gang in the Greywood. Mind you, Labour criticise a Clydeside shipbuilder creating jobs there, not going to happen.

So, the storm is just a media construction to try to blow the SNP down. Nicola’s bump-cap hasn’t even twitched.

I had to laugh at a Tory fighting ‘government lies and corruption’. I case you haven’t seen them, here are two quick reminders of just what kind of people they are:

The list is HUGE!


Talking-up Scotland beaten by a wee dug!

Inspired by a similar survey, a month or two ago, by Indyref2, to find Scotland’s most popular political blog with a particular interest in Scottish issues, in the independence debate and in media coverage, I’ve done a similar thing using the same Website Traffic Estimator by Here are the results for the last 30 days, finishing 18Th September 2018, at 16:00:

Name                                                  Estimated Monthly Traffic (unique visits)

1.      Wings Over Scotland                     218 700

2.      Wee Ginger Dug                             92 100

3.      Common Space                              87 700

4.      SCOT goes POP!                            78 000

5.      Talking-up Scotland                    70 200

6.      Bella Caledonia                            55 400

7.      Random Public Journal             52 700

8.      The Ferret                                     45 300

9.      Indyref2                                        43 700

10.                                 Not enough data to estimate

11.  Caltonjock                                     Not enough data to estimate

12.  Lallands Peat Worrier              Not enough data to estimate

13.  Gerry Hassan                              Not enough data to estimate

14.  Scotland in Union                       Not enough data to estimate

 I’m sorry if I’ve missed someone. I know how it feels as I had to remind Indyref2 of my existence and then came 5th out of 9!

Despite coming 5th again, my claim to be the best pound-for-pound blogger, despite having lost two stones recently, despite operating entirely on my own and proof-reader free, despite being 67, arthritic and prostatic, lies in tatters. A wee dug, a teeny fraction of my 12 stones is more popular by some way.

I haven’t included the very popular, ex-ambassador, Craig Murray’s blog, because it’s not that often about Scottish politics. I do, however, strongly recommend it:

Despite the above removal, it is still difficult to meaningfully compare some of these blogs. For example, I post a lot of reports and some are quite short, labour-not-intensive pieces, passing on good news, while Indyref2 and Bella only do longer, more thoughtful pieces.

Finally, Stu, the Rev, the Wings guy, the clear ‘Champione’ by miles, would have been excluded by at least two of the other bloggers for having, let’s say, a sharp tongue in his head but I insist on retaining him.

I’m known for having the happy combination of a dirty sense of humour and no filter. Have I told the one about the woman and her Schnauzer? Later. So, I laugh loud and often at Stu’s Blackadder-plus descriptions of deserving folk like Murdo Fraser, Annie Wells, Ross Thompson, Jackson Carlaw, Kezia Dugdale, Dick Leonard, Willie Rennie, Ian Little……there are more.

One of my favourites:

‘There’s not much going on in Scottish politics at the moment, but you know that when the media resorts to printing stuff from echo-skulled Tory mousewit Annie Wells, there can’t even have been any barrel left to scrape.’

‘Echo-skulled Tory mousewit’, I love it. Where can I use it?

Seriously, Stu with his massively popular blog and publications like the Wee Blue Book, has almost certainly raised more support for the Yes campaign than any of the rest of us…Fuckin’ right he has, OK!!!??? Don’t make me angry! I’ve still got a punch! I boxed as recently as 1963. Watch this…..oooooh…..I’ve pulled something….get a nurse.

The answer to my headline question might well have been yes if it hadn’t been for that wee ginger bugger.

To conclude on a serious note, I’d like to thank all my readers, my mum, Noam Chomsky and… who was it?……………oh yes, Aggie the Border Terrier………there’s someone else……don’t tell me…………I have it………….my current wife.