Rich Wrinklies For Yes

 

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Didn’t get round to posting yesterday…I was having a champagne bath and making boats out of £10 notes. There is so much silver money about to burst into the economy that I’m launching my own range of grey luxury goods including cashmere cardigans with built-in ipod pocket, solar-heated buckskin slippers and solid gold, diamond-tipped porridge spurtles @Dimanate Derek©.

I must say as a pensioner myself that the Tories are misunderstood. Allowing those of a certain age who have earned it to spend their retirement fund on Caribbean cruises shows a truly compassionate side to the “evil Tories”. And when the money’s gone, who cares? You can’t take it with you, can you? May as well have a blast and when it’s gone rely on the state to pick up the pieces. I see all kinds of business opportunities here. For example, I may set up a financial vehicle aimed at OAPs where they can shelter their pension money instead of tying it up in an annuity. Of course, the charges would have to quite high but if I market it through Saga and get Michael Parkinson to front it, I could clean up. Which group is most vulnerable to financial scams and cold-calling? Yes, pensioners…Osborne is right, the economy will soon be booming again, awash with silver sterling pouring out of retirement accounts. Bingo! as the Tories like to say.

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I may have detected the slightest hint of electioneering in this statement which didn’t sound much like a Budget to me at all. In fact I’m not sure why we have a Budget nowadays, the autumn statement seems to knock it sideways and half the contents are leaked so it’s not news to the markets. Just rename it the Election Giveaway and stop pretending. And to rub it in, I suspect that all along the Thames Valley where the Tory-minded seats line up like dominoes, this, along with tax changes favouring the better off, they will be smiling this morning.

Osborne has shown in whose interests the Tories govern and while Labour is still slightly ahead in the polls, Miliband and Balls are miles behind on economic competence. Added to the underwhelming Scottish document on devolution and the impression grows that Labour may be entering a spiral of failure. The funniest idea of all is that Ruth the Ruthless has an historic chance to upstage Labour with a more radical option. If the Devo Plus analysis is correct and Johann’s incoherent pastiche only raises 26 per cent of the budget, not 40 per cent, it will be easy for the Right to overtake her offer. The ignominy will be crushing and not lost on Labour voters who already harbour severe doubts about both Johann and Miliband. And to cap it all, Panelbase shows the gap closing further with possibly as little as a three per cent swing required.

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Staying with Labour’s travails, did you see Jenny Marra’s intervention in the row over Lena Wilson, head of Scottish Enterprise, earning £60,000 from the private sector? Jenny said: “Commanding a high salary in the public sector is different from the business environment. As it’s taxpayers’ money there is an expectation that the employee will be wholly devoted to their job with no other external responsibilities and interests. While it’s vital that Scottish Enterprise directors have their finger on the pulse of business, I don’t think it’s the public expectation that highly paid public servants are pulled off in other directions. Scotland’s economy needs its full-time officials doing their jobs full-time.”

It’s hard to defy her logic. And we can apply it to the leader of Better Together Alistair Darling who receives £66,396 a year to be a full-time MP for the people of Edinburgh South West. Median wages in Scotland are £25.960, so Alistair already earns 2.5 times as much as the average Scot he represents. Yet year on year he earns several times that. In the last MPs’ list his additional outside earnings were £170,000, giving him an income of £234,900, almost exactly 10 times his constituents’ incomes. Does that mean, as Jenny says, he is being pulled off in other directions? Indeed it does, since he is also full-time leader of Better Together. So is he wholly devoted to his job with no external responsibilities? Maybe Jenny would like to clarify.

And talking of double standards, if Aberdeen can get away with using council facilities to tell every household to vote No, how is it that in West Lothian, where the same regulations apply, even renting a hall is verboten?

A Yes request to use Linlithgow Burgh Halls was met a firm No because “Unfortunately we are not able to accommodate your event at Linlithgow Burgh Halls as we have been advised by our legal team that facilitating such an event on council controlled premises would breach section 2(3) of the 1986 Local Government Act.”

The law says:

2

Prohibition of political publicity.

(1)

A local authority shall not publish any material which, in whole or in part, appears to be designed to affect public support for a political party.

[F2(2)

In determining whether material falls within the prohibition regard shall be had to the content and style of the material, the time and other circumstances of publication and the likely effect on those to whom it is directed and, in particular, to the following matters—

(a)

whether the material refers to a political party or to persons identified with a political party or promotes or opposes a point of view on a question of political controversy which is identifiable as the view of one political party and not of another;

(b)

where the material is part of a campaign, the effect which the campaign appears to be designed to achieve.]

(3)

A local authority shall not give financial or other assistance to a person for the publication of material which the authority are prohibited by this section from publishing themselves.

So, who’s right…Aberdeen or Linlithgow and how come it’s Yes that is prevented from campaigning with public facilities, not the No side? I am now so confused, I must go and read Johann’s Devo Naw document to clear my head.

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