The Paradise The Taxman Forgot

The recent, actually so recent the papers’ ink is still wet, leak of the 13.4 million files that relate to a law firm and corporate services provider, who together operated in over 7 jurisdictions under a single name of Appleby, well, this is the bulk of the papers, though the others are relating to over 16 corporate registries, which are maintained by the governments within these locations.

The papers themselves cover a vast period of time, over 60 years, since the leak has been announced, the names of several well-known or high ranking figures have been floated around in connection with offshore accounting, here in Britain it seems that even the Queen’s Estate, the Duchy of Lancaster, has stored or invested money in the Cayman Islands.

Files within the leak show that Her Majesty’s Estate, let’s be clear about that, Her Majesty’s Estate, has held and still holds investments via funds that have financed a myriad of companies, including BrightHouse, which was recently in the news for reportedly exploiting thousands of poor families, the Duchy has admitted that it was clueless to the apparent investment it made to BrightHouse until these papers were leaked and the numerous media organisations approached the Duchy.

Critics are likely to ask why the money would be stored or even sent there in the first place, some even detailing that the Duchy has brought the Queen’s ‘Reputation into Disrepute’, this is an astounding turn of events but it is still developing, so, there could be more to come from this.

Beyond the Sovereign’s estate, others have been drawn into this web of intrigue, there is nothing to suggest investments or storing money in this way is illegal, however, it is probably more the shock of such a large swathe of figures, business owners and political individuals being caught up in this leak that has caused such a reaction.

Alongside Her Majesty’s Estate, the following companies and people have also been caught out by this leak (reference: The List of Others):

  • Tax Avoidance has been linked to massive companies like Nike and Apple.
  • Hundreds of Millions in investment have been traced back to online platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, the source of this financial support, Russian State Financial Institutions.
  • Lord Michael Ashcroft, the former Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.
  • Stephen Bronfman: Chief Fundraiser and Senior Adviser to Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, which will probably leave him with a few awkward questions, but none more so than the last of this grouping.
  • U.S Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross: He is said to have a stake in a company that receives substanial payments from Vladimir Putin’s Son in Law, a link to Russia at this divisive and difficult time could be the death knell for Mr Ross.

This leak comes only a year after the Panama Papers, a larger dump of files and documents which proved how some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful hid their money, legally, this is the thing that causes me a headache.

There is nothing to suggest that what the people mentioned in either the Panama or Paradise Papers have done is illegal or wrong but, try explaining that to people struggling to cope, striving to make a living and paying out more money than they are either earning or saving, its true that there is no law against what has occurred, so far, but it is rather more of a moral issue than it is a legal one.

People pay tax, this is a contribution to the country, a way of ensuring that when you say ‘I pay my way’ you actually do, so, if people who are struggling to pay, hear that the rich and successful are finding ways to save or store money in Tax Havens, thereby not paying the same amount of tax, then there would be questions that the majority would like to ask.

Why. This would probably be the highest up the list.

I don’t want to get into the whys and wherefores of such thinking, rather I would prefer to state what is, to those who understand the system, obvious, the difference between Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance.

Tax Evasion: This is the ILLEGAL way that people use to avoid paying taxes, this is done by not reporting income, reporting expenses that are not legally allowed or by simply not paying taxes owed.

It is most commonly associated with income tax evasion, however, businesses can practise this on all the taxes it owes.

Tax Avoidance: This is the legitimate way of minimizing taxes, this is by the use of methods, such as schemes or tax havens, that allow a person or company to pay a lesser amount of tax but still pay towards it, avoidance does not mean a complete dodge of the money that is needed to be paid, it just means that they pay a less amount.

Have we cleared that up, yep, okay, let me put my belief as bluntly as possible, I have explained the difference but really, to me, Avoidance is just finding fancy ways of dodging the Taxman, HMRC, IRS or whichever sector deals with this, depending on where you are, we all pay it, so why should some dodge this by paying a lesser amount.

It’s like going to a pub and you paying full price, while the next customer says that they have a scheme they can pay a part of the cost with, they get the drink and are morally bankrupt, while you are charged full price and are financially poorer.

That’s my way of looking at it, so, its my opinion and therefore it should not be taken seriously, as the disclaimer displays, an opinion such is this is just a viewpoint, a minor, ineffective and insignificant viewpoint, so, read this and take whichever opinion you wish, freedom is a wondrous thing.

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Democratic Snakes and Ladders

Recently, it seems that democracy itself has come in for a difficult time friends, it is the way that the majority of us live our lives, we are citizens, by and large of democratic states and with that come certain freedoms, the freedom of speech, the right to vote and the freedom of expression but one of these freedoms, for a certain region in Spain, was apparently and recently, undertaken illegally.

On October 1st of this year, the people of Catalonia were told that there would be a vote, a referendum on independence, a minority of them took this opportunity to carry out their democratic right, the vote obviously went the way of independence, which was later….nearly declared, for just hours after the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona made the decision clear, the Spanish government in Madrid approved new powers to take the Catalan region into its fold, direct rule was approved, though this was not the point that shocked me it was the parts before….

On the aforementioned date, the Spanish government, who for weeks beforehand had declared the vote ‘illegal‘, such an idea was astounding to me, a vote is illegal, a democratic right, a point that people have enjoyed for decades, lifetimes and generations, democracy itself has been around, in one form or another, since the Ancient Greeks.

So, how can a vote be illegal, well, that’s for others to debate and discuss, to me, to deny a population within a democratic nation the chance to vote is rather contradictory, though the Spanish government went one step further, they sent Spanish police into Catalonia, on the 1st of October, to stop the vote from going ahead, the images of which have been shown, repeated and displayed to audiences far from the nation that is currently struggling to recover and return to normality.

Since that point, the result has been denounced, the government in Catalonia has been disbanded and the police force in the region is now under the direct control of Spanish law enforcement, the way I talk about this, you would think that this was some kind of war, that Catalonia was a neighbouring country, though in a way, this would have been true if what has happened there, happened in the UK in 2014.

Imagine that for a second, Scotland, specifically, Holyrood declares that it will hold a Referendum on Independence on the 18th of September 2014 and Westminster replies by stating that this vote, this action is illegal, Holyrood continues, Westminster sends English police officers into Scotland to ensure that the vote doesn’t go ahead, a certain amount of the population does vote and the result is announced, Holyrood declares Scotland independent and Westminster dissolves Holyrood.

Now, obviously the scale is far greater than the situation currently happening in Spain but its a similar concept, this would be considered unthinkable, so why is Spain getting to do this, Catalonia may be a region but I fail to understand how a vote can be illegal, that would be the case in a dictatorship or a country that doesn’t consider itself democratic but Spain is, so, well now they have to reap the whirlwind of what they have done, the people of Catalonia are in limbo right now, they don’t know if Barcelona is in charge or Madrid.

Today is the first true day of Spain’s direct rule in Catalonia but it seems that the ousted Catalan government aren’t willing to leave their offices or positions, the Catalan Vice President, Oriol Junqueras, stated in a Catalan newspaper this weekend:

“We cannot recognise the coup d’etat against Catalonia, nor any of the anti-democratic decisions,”

So it would seem that the confusion and disarray will endure for a while to come, though it is the event itself that has caught this writer off-guard, I mean, a vote being declared illegal, the scenes on the 1st of October of clashes between Spanish police and civilians in Barcelona, the chaos that followed Spain’s decision to implant direct rule over the region and the uncertainty surrounding the future of this district of Spain.

It would be quite an amazing story if it wasn’t for the fact that it has actually happened, what occurs next however, well, that’s anyone’s guess, people with better understanding of the situation for one, as, like with the US Presidential Election, this writer is nothing more than a witness to the events in Spain.

Added Point: Hello friends, for the first time, I have to add points to a post I have made, mainly because this story, this situation is in flux and is changeable but also because what happened yesterday, the actual day I posted this, is quite striking, or maybe stunning is a better word to describe this.

Yesterday, (30/10/2017), the Spanish Prosecutor, Attorney General Jose Manuel Maza, declared that charges, including sedition and rebellion, were being brought against the former leadership of the Catalan government, now, I don’t want to make an obvious point here but when I heard this announcement on television, I was amazed, what century is this, the 21st or the 15th, Sedition, which is basically inciting others to rebel against lawful authority, though can also be the subversion of a constitution against the government.

This is Spain re-affirming its control over Catalonia, with charges now being brought against the ex-hierarchy, workers ignoring calls for civil disobedience and pro-independence parties agreeing to take part in an election scheduled for December, it would seem that the Independence that was announced has been renounced, that normal service, or at least a replacement government service is in operation and the country is continuing, though this event, this episode is far from over, the end of Catalan devolution, however temporary, means that the Spanish government have contained what was a secession from their rule, though they will have a bit of trouble getting the former Catalan leader, Carlos Puidgemont, who has apparently fled to Belgium, what he will do from there is anyone’s guess, there are rumours that he could set up a government in exile but what effect this could have is described as being minimal.

Independence is a concept that countries rarely achieve through democratic action, so to have two Independence Referendums in the space of three years, (Brexit isn’t technically independence.), the democratic act is rather surprisingly either rejected (like in 2014), or shut down from the overseeing Government (presently).

Democracy, it is a matter that many take for granted but when it leads to scenes like on October 1st and the sweeping reclamation of the Catalan region over the past few days, the question has to be, when does Democracy become illegal, when does voting become criminal, consider for a second the boycotted election in Kenya, which has seen a 90% return for the President of that country, (this being because his main rival asked his supporters to ignore or boycott the vote), then consider that, despite the minimal percentage in the Catalan vote, how lucky it is that we have that undeniable and chaste right.

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Are We There Yet?

Hello friends, today, with little surprise, I will be discussing the issues that have arisen from the Brexit negotiations, you can probably guess why I named this article what I did, cause it seems that we are getting no further forward or back, like walking in treacle, no real progress is being made, now, both sides will probably blame their opposite numbers but I fear that the truth of the matter is as follows.

Cast your minds back to when the Brexit vote, the referendum was about to occur, what subjects were talked about; was Trade important, how about our future relationship with Europe, even the individual, independent nations within this continent, for each will want different things, perhaps travel was discussed, what would happen when you went on your holiday, no, maybe export or import issues, not so much trade, actual movement of freight and items over borders…?

No, what was discussed, what was the Primary and Overwhelming subject of discussion, IMMIGRATION, more specifically, the movement of people, for there is a belief that if we leave the EU, then the flow of migrants into our country will miraculously and instantly stop, others feel that we will lessen the effect that immigration is apparently having on our country.

There is of course the famous, or should I say, infamous statement, one about the NHS and the fact that if people voted to leave the EU, that the Health Service will receive £350 Million because this is the amount we send to the European Union, well, not a day after, barely hours after the vote had been decided, the idea was rubbished and even rejected, despite there being a massive, multi-wheeled platform presenting this, the bus that had displayed this idea suddenly disappeared.

Now, with the Negotiations apparently underway, a bill has arisen, one that outshines the promise above, for there is a tab to pay before the UK leaves this particular pub, the EU would like us to pay 100 billion euros, which is £80 billion, before the departure will be accepted, so, let us do some basic maths, £350 million – £80 billion, oh look debt, how do you do debt, we weren’t told about you….

Theresa May has also said that we will be a part of the Single Market until at least 2021, maybe 2023, this is incredible, for a simple vote that Nigel Farage decreed should be remembered as the UK’s version of ‘Independence Day’ this is turning into ‘Groundhog Day’, the sheer volume of details and issues that are needing to be dealt with and I haven’t even gotten to the two most pressing issues, Democratically speaking, for there is a point that if the EU and the UK cannot agree at the end of this two year deadline, then, there is a feeling that No Deal is better than a tainted deal…

I am more of the feeling that a Deal, if it is beneficial to all and not favouring either, then this is better than walking away with no set guidelines or promises over future issues with the European Union and the numerous member states within it, in short, if there is a Deal at the end then there is a chance that it may be advantageous for both, though this is a small chance, even hope, there is still a glimmer.

However, the Deal/No Deal situation is rather stymied by the fact that the UK government has already said there will not be a vote on this ‘Deal’, why not, we entered into a democratic process, the Brexit vote is not the be all and end all, there should be further chances for the electorate to express their right to vote, especially considering, at the end of the day, it will affect people from all walks of life, no matter who you are.

Moving along the democratic issue, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have devolved Parliaments, governments and administrations, yet there has been little chance for these countries to get their say on these issues, suffice to say, if there are any powers that should be devolved to the countries mentioned, then, there is simply no way of knowing if we are to receive these promptly or eventually, then we come to the cherry on this particular cake, not so much a democratic issue as a matter of contention, for the Irish border will be, when Brexit is completed or even confirmed, will be a crossing point between a member of the United Kingdom and a part of the European Union.

There are questions over whether or not a hard border should be placed there, I question the reason why, if there was to be a physical border between these two parts of the Emerald Isle, then this would allow flashbacks or bad memories of the ‘Troubles’, it may even stir up the issues that led to this time, though, there is a secondary point, the Irish border is not straight, it meanders, curving and snaking its way across the country, from Belleek in the West to Warrenpoint in the East, the border cuts through towns, runs near to others and seems to encircle one point close to Wattle Bridge.

The point I am trying to make is that if a hard border were the way to tell where Northern Ireland begins and Eire ends, then there would be difficulty in managing such a construction, towns would be sliced apart and, as mentioned, memories of the Troubles would be there for all to see.

Brexit is going to be a massive issue for the coming years, which is why I was surprised to find that at the recent Labour Party Conference in Brighton, no time was given over to this matter, there were claims that it was discussed in other parts of the conference but to host a gathering of the party that is, according to Jeremy Corbyn, “Ready for government” and not discuss this pressing, vital issue, seems a bit foolish, it is ongoing and will be for the next few years but to not discuss it, is to suggest that it does not matter, it clearly does, though I will wait and see what the Conservatives do with Brexit as a topic of discussion at their party conference before I go into any more detail about how I feel about ‘Mainstream’, major parties avoiding the topics, points and matters that count, are significant and, beyond all else, will probably help secure their right to govern this country.

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Difficulty In Understanding

It is time my friends, time to discuss an issue that is close to my heart and, rather unlike the rest of the blogs I have been posting on this site, less politically motivated than the others, for this matter goes beyond simple persuasions, ideologies and beliefs, it is something that everyone will have experienced in some form through their lives, though most will probably accept it as part of life, there is a point when the point is less palatable.

I am talking dear friends of Division, not in the mathematical sense but rather in the consideration of human life, for we have simple ways of separating groups of people, gender, race, culture, but really there should only be one division visible, those that feel we need to be divided and kept apart against those that feel we should live the life we have been given, for however long, without feeling as though we should consistently be neatly pigeon-holed as one thing or another.

Now, the reason this particular issue is close to my heart, as well as being a point that is less palatable, is that I, like many others in this world, have a sibling that has learning difficulties and, although the majority treat my kin with the respect and consideration that people would expect, others, less thoughtful, don’t, they just see someone that is….in one divisive word…..’different‘.

Now, this is a very plain but ultimately blunt word, it is used as an insult when really it just describes obvious stuff, I mean, if you put a dandelion next to a daffodil you would say that they are dissimilar, however, that is not insulting because it is obvious that these two flowers were not the same, now, consider, growing up, as probably some of you already know to your experience, with someone that has learning or physical difficulty (I refuse to use the word disability as this attributes a lack of something when really there is no deficiency.) and you hear, from time to time, the word ‘different‘, I think you would be forgiven for developing a dislike for that word and the type of people that use it against your relative.

However, this will not help the long term issue, for if you develop a hatred for such a point, then this leaves the matter unresolved, these people, whoever they are, children or adult alike, will go on in life thinking that they can be this thoughtless and small-minded, they will not consider that what they are really doing is making them look like they have the difficulty, rather than the person they are targeting, though I am sure you will agree, dear friends, that the major point here is that if you simply single out someone for being different, then you are failing to understand that this is not important…in the grand scheme of things.

Consider, we are born, given a vague, even fleeting amount of time on this planet and have within that time to experience as much of life as we can, would you accept that being trapped in a bullish state of mind where you split people into groups or target someone for being different isn’t exactly the best way to spend your time on this planet, I would, hence why I am writing this, because I, like so many others, have had to grow up and watch negative and narrow minded individuals attack (physically or verbally), as well as target, isolate and set apart my relative not because of the colour of their skin, their religion or their culture but because of how they are….

Divisions come in many forms but here is a thought, there is one simple thing that defeats all of those points that are used to separate us, underneath the skin, beyond our individual divergences, consider, we have one heart, one life, one existence, so, with the idea of unity, there is one overriding and possibly overwhelming thought to consider, in lieu of the many different ways we can be separated, we can be united by the notion that we are here only once, we have this ONE chance to live a life, so to those that are fearful of being different or to those who have been targeted in the past for being different, live your life how you wish to, we all face a certain amount of opposition or criticism for being dissimilar, be yourself, whatever that means to you, be it and live your life as you want to, that’s what I have learned from my sibling because, no matter how negative the world seemed to be towards him, he never allowed it to affect him and in fact, I have learned to be more confident thanks to my relative’s determination, spirit and carefree attitude, so, follow the path you want to be on don’t let others tell you how to live your life or why you should live it a certain way, be as you want and do what you wish (within reason obviously, this isn’t condoning crime or anything like that), be yourself.

Simple as that really, be yourself.

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Brexit Breakdown

This madness dear friends, it is too much for this writer to bear any more, how, how can we not simply make this whole process, which we are repeatedly told ‘is happening’ easier, we seem to be going into this with our eyes closed, like we’re standing on the edge of the abyss, one foot hovering over the void below, eyes closed and the only thing we say before we fall is ‘Here goes’.

As you can probably tell, the lengthy break in writing that preceded this post is because I had had my fill of Brexit and its Negotiation shambles, I mean, both sides are niggling, there is no real action, no real progress happening, leaving the businesses, people and interested parties watching this debacle in limbo, it has been a few a struggle to get to even this point but the issues that will be affected by this situation, by and large, remain unanswered, for example, the Irish border, for when the EU and the UK become ‘divorced’ the country across the Irish Sea is threatened, once again, to be divided by this action.

‘Hard Brexit’ supporters want a hard border between the EU Ireland and the UK Ireland, basically between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, though critics have decried this idea as being a reminder of the times that the country went through, in recent history, where division led to bloodshed, the hard border therefore would simply be two steps away from the checkpoints that used to be positioned on the line between the two nations.

Though, like in Scotland, the border between one country and its neighbour is unclear, so placement of a Hard Border could stir up feelings of being fenced in, separated…this would only bring hostility and aggression, though the issue doesn’t stop there, for if there was no border, then movement would have to be regulated, as it will in Dover, Calais and every airport on either side of the English Channel, the free movement of people, one of the main pillars of the EU’s existence would be brought into question.

Beyond this, the question of power has arisen, for the EU oversaw different industries and sectors, from Agriculture to Fishing, these are major points for the devolved governments of the UK; Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, so issues are being raised about how and when the required powers would be given to the devolved administrations, a meeting is planned for today between UK and Scottish Ministers to try and answer the matters that have arisen from this, though this is yet another issue that threatens to cause a bumpy road ahead.

For, like with the ‘hard/soft border’ question in Ireland, the question of power being devolved to the administrations that would need these, has brought out arguments and criticism, mainly about the way that this issue has been handled, for a process that is supposed to take two years, it seems that the time-scale is becoming less accommodating and more asphyxiating, though this was pointed out that two years is quite a short amount of time, it is, its even less when the time is wasted throwing points to and from Brussels, the negotiating groups spend more time talking about discussions than they do at the negotiating table itself.

Time is running out, like watching an hourglass trickle its sand down the narrow gap, we are all watching the grains rush through and fall into a black void of uncertainty, for if the time runs out, when the country is no closer to a deal that suits both sides, then it’s like the Crystal Maze, when time runs out, the country will be locked out, trapped with whatever points it has.

For here is an issue beyond all of those that have arisen so far, beyond immigration and imports, beyond devolved powers and hard/soft borders, the point remains that making a deal with the EU rests on the negotiating group managing to appease the member states of the EU, there are 22 Member states of this alone, so the deal would have to be fitting enough for each state to agree to this, in the remaining time there is, this seems like an impossible task, so only time will tell, though the media will be waiting, the City of London will be poised, the businesses of this country, the devolved governments but above all else, those in the firing line of this deal will be watching, the people of this country, no matter if they voted to Remain or Exit the EU, it will affect all of us, which makes me feel, honestly, anxious….

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Public Sector Pay Thaw

Promises friends, that is what this topic will be focused on, mainly the promise by the Conservatives, who apparently won the past election, to increase or at least end the pay freeze for the Public Sector, now, for those who don’t know, the following fall under this heading.

Police, Fire and Ambulance Service, the NHS on the whole, Royal Mail, Local Governments, Government Agencies and of course, the military.

So, how long has this pay freeze lasted, well the 1% pay freeze has existed since 2013, now, here is the issue in microcosm, the majority of the jobs in the Public Sector, they are community based work, like the police, fire and Ambulance Service, even the Royal Mail could be considered to be community work, though for talking sake let’s stick to the emergency and security services.

Imagine, you are charged with protecting, saving or defending life, whether you are a police officer, paramedic or firefighter, yet you have, for the past four years, been paid at an increasingly ridiculous rate, for the job that you do, is this fair?

Well, as far as this commentator can see, no, if we expect our way of life to be protected from injury, fire or harm then we should not treat those that do these thankless jobs like they don’t matter, which is how it appears they are being seen.

I am not aiming this issue at just the ruling party, Labour would and will get the same treatment if they ever get back into power, this is not simply a problem for the majority party in Westminster, it is a cross party, cross benches issue, that these individuals, who go into fight fires, fight crime or fight for a person’s life, should be given a wage that allows them to have a life outside of their job.

I foresee this being an issue that will either be resolved quickly or continually passed off from one government to the next, though there is one thing that could bring this issue to the fore.

Northern Ireland, for, as I had believed back when I had written about the deal between the DUP and the Conservatives, the administration of Stormont continues to be empty, the gates locked and the two power sharing parties locking horns with each other, neither willing to give ground and each fighting for what they believe is the right way to rule.

This issue threatens to keep Stormont’s gates locked tightly for the foreseeable, though, as an outsider, I can only comment on the issue that I feel has caused this problem to become as tough as it is, simply, the deal, the £1 billion deal with the Conservatives, to keep them in power basically, will see the argument roll on for a long time to come.

In other news, with the world seemingly going to hell in a handbasket, the issue of immigration has been thrust into the headlines once more, despite the fact that it has been continuing, unabated, since the last major headline about it, refugees are once again risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean, being the victim of either smugglers, who abandon the boat, the flimsy and un-seaworthy rafts that they use, at the littlest hint of authority.

Leaving these people, who have risked EVERYTHING, in the hopes of a better life, to the kindness or cruelty of the sea, deaths have been reported, lives lost, though now, with the numbers increasing and with the amount of people apparently at its highest since this crisis first began, Italy is crying out for assistance, it has determined that it no longer can cope with the sheer volume of people trying to reach its shores.

The only problem is, who can step in to help, the Royal Navy are regularly involved there, so do they increase their presence, do other countries fall in and help out, what is to happen is anyone’s guess but the only thing that should be at the heart of this problem is the humanity, these are civilians, people who have abandoned all they knew, all they had and everyone close to them, in order to either survive, exist or simply endure somewhere else.

The problem of finding a new home, that is for more learned people to debate, for these civilians, they simply want to get away from whatever harm, threat or hazard forced them to run, whether it be famine, war or disease, the voluntary rush to find new hope, it is at its highest point ever, with no signs of the numbers abating….

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To Deal Or Not To Deal

Well friends, the Negotiations leading to Brexit have begun, they were initiated on the 19th of June, which I get the feeling was rather quick, considering that the deal between the DUP and the Conservatives is, at time of posting this blog, reportedly sealed and done, with a reported £1.5 billion going to help Northern Ireland, though this is not including the £500 Million already available.

So, with the DUP backing Theresa May’s government, she has, for the time being at least, a secure, at least a more solid foothold than she did before, however, the next problem is that the deal that has just been signed up to may yet prove toxic, as there is one factor that needs to be sorted before long, Northern Ireland’s own Government, Stormount, has been without an executive for several months now and, in order to restore this devolved government, the negotiations between the DUP and Sinn Fein has stalled, though a deadline, set for this Thursday, may yet prove to be decisive, as if a deal is not in place by then, Westminster may be forced to take ‘direct control’ of Stormount, however, this may cause consternation within the country itself, though here is the problem.

With the Tory Government now involved in a deal with the DUP, questions about the impartiality of the parliament in England will be asked, for if they have a deal with one Northern Irish party, this may be seen as favoritism, which cannot stand.

Several high-ranking or former MPs have spoken out against this deal, including former Conservative Prime Minister, who believes that this deal between the two political parties might lead to the suggestion of bias, which might cause issue with any future discussions in trying to restore Stormount’s executive.

The issue is rather straightforward but whether or not it will become a problem is yet to be seen, with only three days until the deadline is reached, there is a lot of space to try and appease the two sides and return the parliament in Stormount to their place.

So, with Northern Ireland being something of a riddle for Theresa May, we now move to the immovable puzzle that is Scotland, despite the fact that the SNP have lost several seats in Westminster, which was leapt upon by Ruth Davidson as a sign that the people were tired of the Scottish Independence Referendum, Indyref 2 as it was being touted, like some sort of horrific sequel, though this is my issue with such crowing, the SNP mentioned the Indyref 2 idea a handful of times, the Scottish Conservatives, well, if it wasn’t for the name, you would swear that they were suggesting the idea to the people.

However, I am not laying this point solely at the Scottish Conservatives’ feet, the Scottish Labour and Scottish Liberal Democrat parties are both to be thrust into this particular spotlight, though here is the problem in a nutshell, the people might lose their appetite for such an idea, though it isn’t likely to figure in a lot of people’s minds, considering that the amount of people using food banks has increased, the living wage is in a constant battle with inflation and the only thing you hear from any party right now is Brexit, Indy-ref-2 or some other vast or monolithic notion.

In the simplest of thoughts, one of the shortest sentences I will probably ever write, the only thing people want to focus on, especially right now, is surviving, day to day, week to week, month to month, BREXIT will take two years, that’s only the negotiations, INDYREF 2, may not happen anytime soon, especially not if the three Unionist parties in Holyrood have their way, so, let’s focus on this…..PEOPLE WANT TO FOCUS ON THE ISSUES THAT MATTER TO THEM!!!!

Now, let us return the focus to the larger issue, the other negotiations that have just begun, for if we look to the way that the negotiations have been laid out, then there are several pitfalls before we even get to the suggestion of how the UK will exit the EU, for example, Ireland, the border between them and Northern Ireland, has been outlined as one of the negotiations to happen between now and October.

The other would be the rights of EU citizens in Britain, if this were to be discussed it would have to be resolved quickly, otherwise the issue might get bogged down, for we have to remember, in order to properly finish the negotiations and the eventual departure from the EU, there would also have to be the transfer of rules and regulations from EU to British law, things like the Human Rights Bill, though even there this could cause trouble, as the devolved governments would want a say in the transferring of powers to their respective administrations, the likes of Agriculture, Fishing and so forth.

So, for a ‘strong and stable’ Conservative government to even survive, they would need to make their way carefully through the subjects mentioned, not least of all the discussion of financial issues, for the EU has backed and supported projects here in the UK that, when the Brexit negotiations end, would leave those projects and any future ventures, hanging on a tightrope, though if the UK Government can produce £1.5 billion of funding for Northern Ireland, without infringing on the Barnett Formula, then surely our money worries are over, as far as building new projects are concerned…..Aren’t they?

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In the Minority

Hello friends, welcome to the aftermath of the General Election, as far as I understand this chaos, the Tories won but lost, Labour gained but lost, in Scotland, the SNP lost but won, the Scottish Conservatives gained but lost and the madness meant that there was no clear winner, a hung parliament would have been the more likely option if it wasn’t for Mrs May’s desperate clawing to power, for in order to reach the magic number, which would mean she could get her parliament up and running, the Tories are allied with the Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland.

This brings with it its own problems, not least of all that they have their own problems in Stormount, firstly, the British government, as it is called in general, along with the Northern Irish parliament, entered into the Good Friday Agreement, to settle the conflict in Northern Ireland and bring a lasting peace to the area, however, now, with the Tories entering into a ‘confidence and supply’ deal with the Democratic Unionists, the ripples could cause issue not only with the longstanding Agreement but also with Stormount itself, because the Northern Irish Parliament is supposed to be free of British involvement, but if the DUP continue with the agreed pact, then they would be unable to gain any sort of solid standing in the talks to reconvene the Parliament.

Not only this but the DUP was the only party, outside of the Nationalists and Liberal Democrats, that the Conservatives were willing to work with, doesn’t say much, along with this, the DUP’s numbers, added to the Tory minority, would just barely cross the threshold allowing Theresa May to run a government, though if there was to be a disagreement, which could be forseeable due to a few factors, the Tories would be left in limbo, even Mrs May would then have to concede that the government would struggle, at best, to get any legislation through the system.

One major issue that could cause trouble between the DUP and the Conservatives, in line with Mrs May’s single-minded devotion to get the Negotiations for the UK’s exit from the EU underway, would be the border between North and South Ireland, it would cause issues with the people if there were to be a hard border, seeing as the boundary meanders through the country, dancing through towns and villages, splitting some communities, though if there was to be a hard border, business would be another issue that would be affected.

The overriding concern of having a hard border between the two countries would be that the reminder of the days during the Troubles wouldn’t be too far behind, like a ghastly shadow looming over the proceedings, it would bode ill for people who do not wish to be reminded of those days, though it would hopefully not come to that.

This all depends on the agreement between the DUP and the Conservatives, the EU Negotiations and the hope that the former will not interfere with the Good Friday Agreement, though for now, despite the unstable nature of this deal, we shall simply have to wait and see, for there is no telling what might happen in the future, the pact could collapse, there could be irreversible differences and this may bring about another General Election, a sequel, though that’s in the future.

Let us wait and see.

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Have you Crossed the box yet?

Hello friends, the chaos that is Polling Day has arrived, finally, today is the day when the electorate, with the stroke of a pencil, can have their say on the country’s leadership and the numbers that will make up the next Parliament, beyond who will hold power, I am talking about the MPs that will fill the seats within the chamber and hopefully fight for their constituents issues.

For there has been a focus on Brexit, Independence Referendums and weirdly Fox hunting during this campaign, the spotlight was then flung onto the idea of security twice during the period, though the one thing that wasn’t in any question during this campaign, one point which we do so well no matter who we are, is to unite in the face of terror, division and violence, Manchester’s recovery showed the enduring spirit that we should, no matter our political allegiances, lose, it is what makes us human.

Seeing the crowds at the One Love Manchester gig sing the fitting and inspiring Oasis ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ not only sent a shiver down my spine, it also, in this world of few cheers and negative fears, made me proud to be alive, to see the united spirit and energy of those that gathered for that astounding concert.

Now, as security was focused upon, the parties seemed to dance around the issue, some were accused of using the Manchester atrocity as a point scoring exercise, others were being accused of failing to keep strong enough numbers of police on the streets, this is the thing, we have the opportunity, now, before us here, to actually ensure our own security and to protect ourselves from those who wish to throw our world into despair.

As London and Manchester recover and stand strongly together, we must carry that enduring spirit further than tomorrow when the result of the election is known, unity is something that shouldn’t be achieved in the face of horror and devastation, we should see that beyond certain divisions and differences, we have the same blood, organs and existence, we may have different skin, religions or cultures but on this tiny rock, spinning through an endless sea of eternity, we should realise, appreciate and acknowledge that we are, all of us, human, we are distinct from each other simply through points of personality and personal choice, beyond this, we are all united.

Now, with my outspoken moment past, I will return the focus of this essay to the headline event of the day, THE GENERAL ELECTION, or as Adam Boulton said ‘General Erection’, this is the day when we, the people have the power to oust and back politicians, we have the undeniable and vital influence to show an MP, or MSP when the Scottish Election occurs, whether or not we think they’re doing right by us, so, we have to do this, not because it will help avoid situations that even Orwell would have had nightmares about but rather because it is a right of ours, that we should all be able to use.

Voting is not simply a boring or dull point that a certain percentage do, it is something that all of us have the ability and right to carry out, why do you think Talent shows are popular, because they are using the same democratic process, though not in the same style as politics does, for the first past the post system that the UK uses is often accused of not allowing a fairer spread of views in places like Holyrood or Westminster, as there is only one vote allowed per person, one cross in the box.

This then gives the idea that the majority parties love the first past the post system, though it is favorable to them, as the result of the FPTP system is often won by the larger party, giving them better position to win more seats, hence why people feel that Westminster is simply a game of pass the parcel between the Conservatives and Labour.

However, this is why it is vitally important for people to vote, for if you disagree with either party, even if you feel that none of the parties speak to you or interest, care or want to help you, then simply vote, don’t avoid this issue because you feel that your vote won’t count or be counted, even spoiling the ballot would be a vote in certain considerations, the as long as your mark is within the box that is set out to contain your choice then your vote will count, so in cases before, a tick, smiley face, the word YES and even a star could count as a vote as the argument could be made that this clearly shows the voter’s wish or choice.

So, don’t just think that your vote won’t count; register to vote, wait for the next election or referendum, go off to the Polling Station, receive the ballot paper, go to the booth, make your mark in the box and then fold once and place this paper within the secured box.

Simple really, then, if the vote you have made is counted, you will have made your choice known, who knows, you could help a prospective MP, MSP, AM get into Westminster, Holyrood or Cardiff, I hope that more people vote, for if you don’t, because the majority of votes come from the elder generations, when it comes our turn to be retired or elder members of society, we may have a worse time of it than previous generations, so vote, not only for yourself, to make your vote known but for your future….

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Misdirection and Diversion

Recently friends, my attention has been drawn to a particular tactic that has been employed by certain individuals during this election campaign, a campaign that the Tories seem to be treating as a foregone conclusion, the whole thing is becoming less like a moment that will be looked back on by those who study politics in the future and more a badly done magic trick.

Consider the recent Scottish Conservative Party Political Broadcast, those in England consider that leaflets are being dropped through the door railing about getting the right person in No10 for Brexit negotiations, the focus in both cases is on the two overriding subjects or matters at THIS time, though there is little mention about other more pressing matters.

Here in Scotland, the Scottish Tories, who claim that they are the only party to silence or at least combat the SNP, have made a big song and dance about the fact that the SNP are aiming for another Scottish Independence Referendum, yet, as pointed out by Ms Sturgeon herself  in the Scottish Leaders Debate, the Tories mention Independence more than the Nationalists do, almost as if they are trying to distract the electorate.

THis is an unacceptable and shameful misdeed, if true, then this is proof that Politics has become less about the matters that should be focused on, like the NHS, living standards and even the education system, to a point that rather cyclically shoved down the electorate’s collective throat.

Consider the following:

  1. The NHS is going through its most testing and disturbing period ever seen (in my lifetime).
  2. People are struggling to make ends meet, living standards are falling behind inflation, the price of food is going up, as if to prove this, recent figures detail that the amount or percentage of people using Food Banks is at its highest level since the Recession.
  3. Education system is struggling.
  4. Security, at a time when it is pressingly important to have a strong system in place, we have less police officers on the streets and the armed services are still recovering from the cuts they felt earlier in this decade.
  5. Housing, a constant and haunting consideration, house prices continue to rise and fall, ebb and flow but the building of these structures, to house a growing population, seems to be either unimportant or insignificant.
  6. Employment, figures declare that the rate of unemployment is down but there is a bit of an issue here, figures may say this but there are easy ways to fudge the numbers.

Any one of these issues above would be enough to be a central focus for a General Election campaign, forget the fact that it is a Snap General Election, these issues are relevant and continue to be so because the major parties seem to be focused on slinging mud at each other.

Amazingly, the issue of disrespect is not reserved to the press bytes that politicians give to the insatiable media, recently accusing Nicola Sturgeon of being some sort of puppet master, this is not a new suggestion, as David Cameron used the same idea for Alex Salmond when Ed Miliband was Labour leader, impressive isn’t it, we should release an album when old or recycled ideas are banded around, we should call it ‘Now That’s What I Call Stale Insults’, cause if the Tory spin doctors can’t think of anything new and use stuff from the last election, then are we stuck in some sort of time warp?

Proof of the Time Warp

Booing is disrespectful but as I have mentioned previously, when Ms May mentioned Nicola Sturgeon during the press conference where the idea of her being a ‘puppet master’ was suggested, the crowd, the partisan crowd around Ms May booed the mere mention of Ms Sturgeon’s name.

This is an amazing thought but the House of Commons have rules on Conduct, given to every MP in a handy book, though it is like the book is chucked into a vault somewhere when it comes to Campaign time, for this is when the statesmanlike behaviour of our representatives are shown to be nothing but a mask, Ms May is twice guilty of having her audience boo a fellow politician, just because you don’t agree with them doesn’t mean that you should allow or even condone their name being heckled like a Pantomime villain, I mean come on, this isn’t freaking Primary School.

I would like to suggest, at this point, that if politicians, especially the Prime Minister themselves cannot behave in a respectful and courteous manner, even in a impartial or even-handed manner, then they should be asked to explain why they feel it is right to allow such actions to occur, those people that booed, in both cases, couldn’t vote or even campaign against Ms Sturgeon as her focus, her effect ends at the border, so why, why is it seen as acceptable that people who should have no thoughts on a Scottish politician are allowed to behave like an audience at a pantomime or an immature group of school kids?

If this continues, my main suggestion would be to have politicians retrained in the art of respect, if they have rules about their behaviour and conduct in the House of Commons, then they should likewise have enforceable rules while Campaigning.

It has to be said that Politics, from the art of debate and the idea of campaigning, to the notion of respect and decorum has changed, not for the better, from Labour being accused of using the tragic and horrifying events in Manchester for political capital to Theresa May allowing her partisan crowd to boo a fellow politician, it is saddening, rather depressing to see this.

Recently, Labour have been in the firing line, rather their leader has, from being accused as I mentioned, of using the events in Manchester for his own gain, to the initial silence but eventual declaring that he did not condone the acts of the IRA during the Troubles.

This seems to be the Jeremy Corbyn grilling show, that’s what it feels like, he seems to be in the news for errors in his past or statements he has made, though Ms May should not be allowed to enjoy some sort of ‘High Horse’ moral victory, for she is being accused of scaring voters with talk of Brexit being rather different, find the actual statement in the article below.

Theresa May’s ‘dressing down’ of Corbyn

Here’s the thing, it is only a week, give or take, until we head to the polls and vote in a government for the next five years, we should not be distracted by Brexit or the shadow of another Independence referendum, we should be considering the issues that actually matter to each and every one of us, from the NHS to the standard of living, we shouldn’t allow politicians to blind or mislead us with talk of the Negotiations or the future with regard to our relationship with the single market, for Joe and Jess Public, that isn’t the issue that they would need to hear about, they are more focused on surviving day to day, trying to live their lives as best they can without being haunted by debt or starvation, it isn’t that the issues of Brexit and a maybe maybe not Independence Referendum are significant but to most people, they are rather less pressing and more frustrating.

So, here’s a note to politicians for all parties, listen to your constituents, talk about what they want to hear, understand their issues, fight for their matters, this is what politicians are supposed to do, not sling mud and blabber on about points that no one will need to focus on when their living standards or their health are at risk.


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