TIME TO REMEMBER: Honey McBee’s pick of the bunch

Tuesday 10 November: Remembrance Day tomorrow, and our thoughts as ever with those who have died in the service of their country and the families left behind. The list of wars since the one to end all wars seems everlasting; the Russians on the plane downed in Sinai are no less victims of an act of war, for that is what it now seems to be

Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times [£] gave voice to all our fears – that Sharm airport is not alone in having less than perfect security and here’s For Argyll’s reaction to Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday…

Here, courtesy of the BBC, is why the Scottish Poppy is different from the one seen in the rest of the United Kingdom.

 

JUMPING THE SHARK…

At home, tax credits still loom large. Euan McColm in Scotland on Sunday said the SNP had made a right Horlicks of deciding what tack to take. This, says McColm, is largely down to Kezia Dugdale’s pledge to use Holyrood’s powers to make good any shortfall if she becomes First Minister. Iain Macwhirter’s Friday blog echoes McColm’s sentiments – Dugdale’s shift leftwards is posing political problems for Sturgeon and Swinney, although the Pinstripe column in yesterday’s Herald pointed out the flaws in Labour’s plans to raise the higher rate of income tax…

The problem with tax credits isn’t just financial or administrative. It’s also a legal one going back to the Scotland Bill and devolution’s “increasingly complicated set of founding documents and diktats”, according to Lallands Peat Worrier, our go-to blog for these matters. So no wonder no-one, including and especially the commentariat, says LPW, knows what can and can’t be done.  Can’t being the operative word – at least as far as restoring or reversing tax credits is concerned – “Holyrood doesn’t have the power. And it’s pure fiction – political spin – to claim otherwise.” Worth reading through just to get a grasp on the reality of the thing.

And watch Mhairi Black try to corner DWP Secretary Ian Duncan Smith in the Commons Work and Pensions Committee on what will happen if Scotland decides to top up credit shortfalls.

If the SNP is at sixes and sevens, Labour doesn’t have its troubles to seek either – witness former MP Tom Harris saying goodbye to Labour via Guido Fawkes’ blog – “Clearly he was over-tired when he posted the statement on Facebook at 11pm last night…” – and the subsequent ‘morning-after’ reflection.

 

COLD COMFORT FARMERS

Land reform in all its many guises continues to throw up anomalies from the past. Lesley Riddoch in yesterday’s Scotsman described the plight of one particular farming family – the result of some ill-conceived bodging a generation ago. This is why we need to get it right this time round…

 

EU TURN

Posting on the Politico blog, Former Labour minister for Europe Dennis ‘expenses’ McShane listed twelve reasons why David Cameron is going to lose the EU referendum. Since Mr McShane is now a ‘policy adviser on European politics and policy in London and Brussels’, a pinch of salt may be in order.

In ConservativeHome, former MSP Brian Monteith thinks George Osborne will have to resign as well as the PM if the UK votes for Brexit – which would rather put paid to his chances of succeeding Cameron as Tory leader. Cue speculation as to which Cabinet hopeful will come out for Leave and thus be in poll position. That’s if they’re still around – Tim Shipman in the Sunday Times [£] and Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer reported on Gideon’s Machiavellian tendencies towards those in his way…

MEP and arch-sceptic Daniel Hannan posted on CAPX  that India, amongst others, would welcome Britain’s leaving the EU, despite what may be said in formal channels. Frustration with lack of trade agreements and imposed discrimination against non –EU nationals are just the beginning, says Hannan, in the Internet age, geographical proximity has never mattered less. Culture and kinship trump distance. Sadly, they don’t always trump politics.”

 

CHRISTMAS IS COMING…

A shoal of festive retail adverts hit our screens over the weekend.  If you’ve been on another planet, or piously improving your mind elsewhere than Downton Abbey, here’s the most awaited from John Lewis. And here’s the almost immediate reaction to it.

More serious analysis from Stuart Heritage in the Guardian, wondering- SPOILER ALERT – how the old man got there in the first place – “Clearly, the answer is that the old man is a monster. That’s the only logical explanation. Napoleon only got exiled to a Mediterranean island, for crying out loud, and he was Napoleon. But this guy has literally been jettisoned to the moon. He is hundreds of thousands of miles away from the nearest human. What could he possibly have done to warrant such punishment?”

And then there’s India Hicks in the Sunday Times [£] – for whom it’s the “last in a line of massively hyped, tearjerker Christmas ads from John Lewis and do you know what? I’ve shed all my tears. I’m over them. I feel so ludicrously manipulated that I don’t feel anything else at all…” – longing for an ad that shows the chaos and imperfections of the average family celebration.

Other ads are available, as the BBC often says, and here they are, courtesy of CityAM. By next weekend we’ll already be so sick of turkeys and tinsel a monastic retreat will look very appealing…

 

MISSING PERSONS…

The likes of Woman’s Hour have been much exercised this week over gender imbalance in the new UK passport design. Seven men and only two women have outraged the feminazi. But as Ella Whelan pointed out in Friday’s Spiked, it isn’t anti-feminist so much as historically accurate – “As hard as it is for modern, liberated women to swallow, historically speaking, more men than women have achieved impressive things – precisely because of the past inequalities women squashed in their political fight for liberation.”

The ubiquitous Brian Monteith in the Edinburgh Evening News found a far more serious fault with it – the seven are all English. “No Scots – and no-one from Wales or Northern Ireland either. Not so much a British passport as, well, an English one…I have never considered myself a nationalist but I have always considered myself a patriot. So if there is something that might make my blood boil it is the complete lack of comprehension that is often displayed by people in authority towards what makes the United Kingdom”.

It’s taken two years to agree on and prepare this new design, says Monteith, “where then were these bureaucrats living during the independence referendum? A cave?” Quite.

 

AND FINALLY…

Last week we brought you a wee brief about the Fortingall yew – the UK’s oldest tree – suddenly producing female berries. [If you’ve never seen it, we recommend a visit] Now Caroline Wright from Nottingham Trent University brings you the science.

In Thursday’s Conversation she asked if trees really can change sex. Well, yes, apparently they can, though Wright concludes that an elderly gent like this yew probably can’t be bothered to put in the effort. And trees are not alone. It’s an hermaphrodite world out there…

 

 

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