FROM STEEL TO THATCH: Honey McBee’s thin pickings

Tuesday 3 November: thin pickings this week; as widely forecast, delegates at Scottish Labour’s conference voted against renewal of Trident and Gideon got a hiding at the hands of the Lords. Here’s the pro-indy view of Labour’s decision from James Kelly of Scot goes POP. And the next step is…?

No surprises then, but still some QI stuff around…

ONCE UPON A TIME: Ian Macwhirter’s blog last week dispelled some misleading myths doing the rounds about the steel industry in Scotland. “Scotland doesn’t have a steel industry. That ended nearly 25 years ago when the Ravenscraig steel mill was axed. But there is a lingering industrial romanticism that afflicts our politicians when there is a plant closure. They talk as if the last 30 years had never happened”…

[You might also take a look at Ken Houston’s excellent article on rescuing our steel industry elsewhere in this edition of ScotBuzz]


IF YOU READ NOTHING ELSE: We make no apologies for including a piece from Kenneth Roy of the Scottish Review two weeks on the trot. Roy remembers what happened when 3,000 asylum seekers were ‘dumped’ in Glasgow’s Sighthill in 2001 and wonders what will happen to a new batch parachuted into a hotel on the outskirts of a rural village in the Ayrshire countryside…


BIG BROTHER PLUS: This week Theresa May will bring the Investigatory Powers bill to Parliament. Andrew Marr in the Sunday Times [£] thinks We are on the brink of another acrimonious public argument about personal privacy, protection against terrorists and “snooper’s charter” laws”.  Marr compares the bill with “the most intrusive and universal roll call of the British there has ever been” – the 1939 survey that has also surfaced publicly this week.

Are the Police to have the power to look at everything you and I access on the web? If so, it makes it even more important that Leader of the Commons Chris Grayling doesn’t get his way over curtailing Freedom of Information requests from the Press. Saturday’s Daily Mail called Grayling the “Minister for Hypocrisy” and Guido Fawkes recited “the 9 stories Grayling wants to keep secret.” The 9 make interesting reading, since almost all include use and misuse of public money that might never have seen the light of day without FOI.


THE ART OF DIVERSITY:  It’s the zeitgeist of our age. White, male and stale simply won’t do. Here’s Thom Cross in Friday’s Bella Caledonia on those heading up the major creative arts bodies in Scotland – “No Europeans, no Asians, no Latins, no Afro–Caribbeans”, and above all, “no Scots”.

Cross thinks “diversity must include some men and women whose sensitivity has been nourished and honed within this indigenous community from Shetland to Galloway…” Quite.


FLAT CAPS AND WHIPPETS: It wasn’t so long ago, before George Osborne dreamed a dream, that voices were calling for Scotland to annexe the north of England. The leftish IPPR think tank has issued its latest annual State of the North bulletin asking how we will know when the ‘Northern powerhouse’ is working. “… assesses the state of the North as it is, but also what it could, and should, aspire to become… an analysis of the North’s strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats.”  We should all know what our neighbours are up to.


WRONG DAY, WRONG PLACE: It will bring scant comfort to anyone involved, but Andrew Gilligan in the Sunday Telegraph reported an alternative theory about the motive behind the 7/7 London bombings. They were not, a former Scotland Yard detective claims, the work of Al Qaeda, but a much more prosaic attempt to stop the Olympic stadium being built where they wanted a super-sized mosque. [as a footnote, planning for the super-mosque has rumbled on until very recently, when permission was finally refused]


NANNY KNOWS BEST: The World Health Organisation has been putting the fear of God into us this week. Soon the safest thing to eat will be nothing. Rob Lyons in Friday’s Spiked attacked the WHO’s “bizarre classification of carcinogens, which now puts processed meat in the same category as smoking, asbestos and arsenic. The fact that it took les wonks in Lyon a year to dig up enough evidence to come to their conclusion hardly suggests the case against processed meat is watertight…” Now enjoy that bacon butty.

As if that wasn’t enough, Naomi Frisht, also in Spiked, took on Public Health England’s report on reducing sugar consumption. Leave my Coco-Pops alone, she cried, as PHE told the Health Select Committee that Coco the Monkey should be banned. Not to mention Tony, the Sugar Frosties tiger.

Soon, if these people have their way, there will be no pleasures – and no choice – left…



A world we have almost lost:  Emma O’Neill in Scotland on Sunday lamented the loss of the skill – and will – needed to maintain the iconic thatched cottages of Scotland, especially on the islands.

Coming up at the end of this month – National Maintenance Week [no, we didn’t make it up] with historian du jour Neil Oliver. If anyone can talk about thatch with authority…

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