Scotland Office

Earlier this month I noticed that my Twitter timeline seemed to be containing a lot of tweets from the Scotland Office. Now I don’t follow the Governor General’s safe house and I became quickly aware that these were coming more often than the usual re-tweeted “look at this shite”.

I wasn’t the only one noticing, there was a lot of people complaining about getting them, which made me wonder how much this was costing. So being a nosy bugger I contacted them to find out.

[As an aside research by the UCL has found putting in a Freedom of Information request doubles your chances of getting a result compared to “just asking”]

I got my response this weekend to the following questions:

  1. How long this promoted tweet campaign is running for? Start date & end date
  2. How much it costs.
  3. Is the same being replicated across other social media sites?
  4. If so, Which ones? How long for? And cost for each
  5. And finally who gave approval for this campaign?

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So, £47,395.65 on this campaign, what a bloody waste. The Tories tried to bluster their way through the Benefit Cap & Rape Clause in Holyrood today saying it was necessary budgeting. At £13.50 per child this campaign equals 3510 weeks 3rd child tax credit. How many more PR exercises could be cut? Surely they are less necessary than feeding children.

As for the who gave approval, I got this paragraph with another dose of their spin. The last line in particular made me laugh. Since when has the UK Government been keen to ensure the public is aware of the facts?

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Those statements come across to me as a threat, why would they be so keen to highlight the trade unless they wanted to use it as a bargaining point?

But really, in the event of an independent Scotland is rUK going to stop trading with us? No more Scottish electricity or water, never mind the agriculture, the whisky  and let us not forget the big statistic not included in the list below which is that Scotland produces 70% of gin consumed in the UK.

Scotland resources

The one question I forgot to ask is who exactly was being targeted? Was it UK wide or only certain areas? (Yes, I have asked that now. Remember not a journalist, just an opinionated & nosy)

So hopefully an update coming soon.

Image: Pixabay

You can follow Simone Charlesworth on twitter @cee4cat and at Mewsing Out Loud

Updated: 2017 General Election – Early Swing To Tories – Labour Flat-lining – Added in New Information – Indications – Eight Seats Might Be Lost to The Unionist Parties

Regardless of what is going on in the other parts of the UK, the General Election in Scotland is developing into a test of the political will of the electorate.

To the exclusion of all other factors voters will place their votes, either in support of the campaign for independence or conversely with any of the three Unionist parties.

In consequence the landslide victory achieved by the SNP in the last GE cannot realistically be achieved.

Early polling and previous figures gathered by myself suggest seats might change hands, the Tories being the main benefactors:

SNP activists will need to get out in force in the under-noted constituencies otherwise they might be lost.

 

 

 

Projected Marginal SNP Holds

71749: Edinburgh West: Michelle Thomson MP: 4388-6.12%: Maj 2015: 3210

GE: 2017: SNP 19309, Liberal 19180, Tory 10960, Labour 3836, Green 1500

65846: Edinburgh South: Ian Murray MP: 3579-5.44%: Maj 2015: 2637

GE: 2017: SNP 15249, Labour 14790, Tory 13311, Liberal 3500, Green 2500

73445: West Abdn & Kinc: S. B. Donaldson MP: 3961-5.40%: Maj 2015: 7033

GE: 2017: SNP 18275, Lib 16620, Tory 16000, Labour 1340, Green 1300

80978: Edinburgh North & Leith: Deidre Brock MP: 4280-5.29%: Maj 2015: 5597

GE: 2017: SNP 22216, Labour 14575, Tory 13992, Green 4081, Liberal 3498

66208: Paisley & Renfrew N: Gavin Newlands MP: 3158-4.77%: Maj 2015: 9076

GE: 2017: SNP 29136, Labour 14564, Tory 13240, Liberal 7944, Green 1240

68875: Argyll & Bute: Brendan O’Hara MP: 3277-4.75%: Maj 2015: 8473

GE: 2017: SNP 18936, Liberal 15510, Tory 10340, Labour 5170, Green 700

77379: Ochil & South Perth: T. Ahmed-Sheikh MP: 3645-4.71%: Maj GE: 2015:

GE: 2017:SNP 19922, Tory 18592, Labour 11620, Liberal 6400, Green 1500

79393: Gordon: Alex Salmond MP: 3711-4.68%: Maj 2015: 8687

GE: 2017: SNP 20757, Liberal 20300, Tory 11600, Labour 3800. Green 1500

79481: East Lothian:George Kerevan MP: 3676-4.63%: Maj 2015: 6803

GE: 2017: SNP 18172, Tory 18081, Labour 14725, Liberal 7068, Green 1800

72178: Edinburgh South West: Joanna Cherry QC: 3283-4.55%: Maj 2015: 8135

GE: 2017: SNP 17928, Tory 17680, Labour 8320, Liberal 6240, Green 2400

71685: Moray: Angus Robertson MP: 2995-4.18%: Maj 2015: Maj 2015: 9065

GE: 2017: SNP 20738, Tory 17820, Labour 3960, Liberal 5445, Green 1500

68609: Banff & Buchan: Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP: 2772-4.04%: Maj 2015: 14339

GE: 2017: SNP 26330, Tory 15640, Labour 2000, Liberal 2000

78037: Lanark & Hamilton E: Angela Crawley MP: 3272-4.19%: Maj 2015: 10100

GE 2017: SNP 25142, Tory 14196, Labour 10920, Liberal 4368

 

 

Seats Under Threat

69982: East Renfrewshire: Kirsten Oswald MP: 4241-6.06%: Maj 2015: 3718

GE: 2017: Tory 25900, SNP 24200, Labour 15400, Liberal 3500, Green 1000

66966: East Dunbartonshire: John Nicolson MP: 3977-5.94%: Maj 2015: 2167

GE: 2017: Liberal 21960, SNP 16629, Tory 11529, Labour 3294, Green 1500

62003: North East Fife: Stephen Gethins MP: 2937-4.74%: Maj 2015: 4344

GE: 2017: Liberal 18120, SNP 12050, Tory 9966, Labour 3624, Green 1500

67236: Stirling: Steven Paterson MP: 3175-4.72%: Maj 2015: 10480

GE: 2017: Tory 17850, SNP 17406, Labour 11550, Liberal 3638, Green 2000

68056: Aberdeen South: Callum McCaig MP: 3618-4.65%: Maj 2015: 7230

GE: 2017: Tory 16429, SNP 15395, Labour 9664, Lib 4832, Green 2000

72447: Perth & North Perthshire: Pete Wishart MP: 3033-4.19%: Maj 2015: 9641

GE: 2017: Tory 22806, SNP 20619, Labour 4000, Liberal 5430, Green 1500

68483: Dumfries, Clyde & Tweed, D Mundell MP:2816-4.11%: Maj 2015: 798:

GE: 2017: Tory 23400, SNP 21320, Labour 4160, Liberal 4160, Green 1500

74179: Berwick, Roxburgh, Selkirk: Calum Kerr MP: 3026-4.08%: Maj 2015: 328

GE: 2017: Tory 20862, SNP 18756, Liberal 13176, Labour 1098, Green 1000

Seats Tory 6, Liberals 2

 

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You can follow Calton Jock at his webpage CaltonJock

Annie Wells – Minime Version of her Idol Ruth the Mooth – Exercise Care Annie – The Tories are Latter Day Friends – Oh!! and Get Your Facts Straight!

Annie Wells – A Most Unlikely Tory Party Member

Carol Ann (‘Annie’) Wells is a Scottish Conservative and Unionist Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP0 for the Glasgow region. She qualified for a seat at Holyrood in 2016, as a list MSP representing Glasgow voters.

Annie was born and raised in Springburn, into a family with strong labour party connections. Her mother cleaned house for the Labour Peer, Michael Martin, former Labour MP for North East Glasgow and Speaker of the Commons at Westminster. Her deceased father Alex (Eck) was a well kent face in Springburn through his associations with local Labour party activists.

Married and divorced, single mother Wells still lives in Springburn. Her Adult son Scott lives nearby. She is currently in a relationship with another woman who identifies herself as a lesbian. Angela Stephen, Irvine resident is also a Tory candidate, for office in Ayrshire

Wells first brush with politics occurred during the referendum on Scottish Independence when she joined the Better Together campaign. She then stood as the Conservative candidate in Glasgow North East in the 2015 general election, finishing 3rd with 4.7% of the vote. She also unsuccessfully contested the Glasgow Provan constituency at the 2016 Scottish Parliament general election, finishing 3rd with 8.6% of the vote, but was elected via the regional list. In the 12 years before taking up a career in politics she worked Marks & Spencers in various locations throughout Glasgow.

Wells is the Scottish Conservative spokesperson for welfare reform and equalities. She sits on the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Scottish Parliament.

 

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Annie Wells – On Lesbian, Gay And Bisexual Representation

“It is pleasing that I get more abuse for being a Tory in Scotland than I do for being a gay woman,” says Annie Wells, one of a batch of new MSPs voted in at the election this month that has made the country’s parliament the most proportionally gay-friendly on earth.

Wells told of her pride at being elected to represent Scotland’s LGBT community and plans to help those who still suffer discrimination come out and get involved in politics.

She is a Conservative, former M&S finance manager who says she never dreamed of going into politics, nor coming out – for fear of upsetting her parents.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/scotland-lgbt-jeane-freeman-annie-wells-snp-gay-marriage_uk_5735f852e4b01359f686e596

Comment: Weird: Her Wikipedia makes no mention of her role within the LGBT community.

 

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Dykey D’ – Annie Wells and the BBC Scotland smear machine kicks in again

The apparatus of the BBC in Scotland is regularly utilised in order to promote (as widely as possible) smear attacks on one or more SNP politicians. The most recent example occurred this week. Annie Wells Tory MSP seeks to make political capital out of satirical comedy sketch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEEYsHFJZl0 The target was SNP politician Joanna Cherry. Read on: http://indyref2.scot/dykey-d-the-bbc-scotland-smear-machine-kicks-in-again Radio coverage http://indyref2.scot/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/newsdrive_dyke_190916.mp3

 

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Facebook Annie Wells – Reform of Child tax credits – The third child and Rape

In the past week, I have been extremely concerned to hear a number of allegations being made about reforms to child tax credits. I don’t believe a topic of such a highly sensitive nature should be banded about on Twitter with the use of hashtags and this is why I feel it is important to set the record straight on such an important issue.

What I will say is factual. It is said purely in the hope that women who do have children born as a result of rape are not deterred from applying for exemptions to the two child tax credit rule because of misinformation currently in the public domain.

The exemption has been put there to protect women in these circumstances. The UK Government recognised in introducing the two-child limit for receiving tax credits, it still had to recognise highly sensitive circumstances such that when a child is born as a result of rape. In applying for this exemption, women will not be required to either report their rape as a crime, bring new proof of rape or proof of a conviction, or report it directly to HMRC.

In other words, no evidence other than that of a third party professional, such as a health worker or support worker, will be required.

The DWP has made clear that women will be offered support from experienced third party professionals who will be able to support them on their behalf. In other words, once a mother registers for the benefit, it is very much in the hands of professionals to complete the application on her behalf and ensure the right support is given.

This exemption was introduced to protect women from changes to child tax credits in the most sensitive way possible and in going forward, I believe that the situation should continue to be monitored and any improvements to the process made as required. I very much hope this goes some way in reassuring those concerned and brings clarity to the situation. (Annie Wells)
Comment:  This is the woman who questioned the sovereignty of the Scottish Parliament, and had the nerve to criticise campaigners against the Tory rape clause, and steals from the mentally disabled including those with Autism. A nasty vindictive Tory, and quite heartless caring only about herself, and her precious party.

 

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Government Rape Clause Leads to Boycott by Leading Charities

Women’s groups in Scotland have joined in condemnation of a so-called rape clause which forces new mothers to prove they were raped to claim tax credits for more than two children.

Leading charities including Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS), Scottish Women’s Aid (SWA) and Engender now say they will refuse to “collude” with any scheme to assess entitlement for rape victims.

New laws on tax credit entitlement, which come into effect this week, include a clause restricting claimants to a maximum of two children, with exceptions for multiple births and for women who could show that their third or subsequent child was conceived as a result of rape.

It means women who have been raped must be assessed by a “professional third party” – either health workers, police, social workers or rape charities.

The regulations were put into law through a statutory instrument – little known legislation allowing laws to be changed without the UK parliament’s approval.

Yet despite the regulation coming into force tomorrow, there is no indication of how a woman who has been raped can go about claiming an exemption and no advice, information or training has been given to the women’s groups expecting to be involved. (thirdforcenews.org.uk)

 

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Making Mischief – Tory MSP Annie Wells Complains That Mental Health Treatment Times not Being Met

She said: “The Scottish government set a target in 2014 that 90% of adults and children referred by a GP for treatment for mental health issues should begin this treatment within 18 weeks. But in December last year, NHS Stats revealed that only 77.5%% patients were seen within the time frame.

Selecting one month does not provide a reasonable presentation of the facts. In the 12 months June 2015 – June 2016 performance to target (90%) was as listed below.

Scotland Mean Average: 78.0:

Ayrshire & Arran 65.9:
Borders 77.9:
Dumfries & Galloway: 72.1
Fife: 74.2
Forth Valley: 49.3 (performance now between 74-82%)
Grampian: 66.3 (slight improvement recently)
Greater Glasgow & Clyde: 92.4 (Very large number of patients seen)
Highland 98.0: (large number of patients seen in a region with a widely dispersed population)
Lanarkshire 91.6: (very large number of patients seen
Lothian 65.3: (not much improved)
Tayside 88.3:
Island Boards: 88.9

 

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But what about the Tory controlled NHS in England???

 

England : Mental Health Treatment Time Targets Are the Same As in Scotland

More than one in ten (12%) people with mental health problems are stuck on waiting lists for over a year before receiving treatment and over half (54%) wait over three months.

The survey of over 1,600 people who have tried to access therapies such as counselling and cognitive behaviour therapy on the NHS in England over the last two years also shows an increasing number are paying for private therapy to get the help they desperately need.

One in ten (11%) said that they had faced costs for private treatment because the therapy they needed was not available on the NHS.

The choice of treatment on offer was also found to be limited even though CBT, the most commonly prescribed talking treatment, doesn’t work for everyone and three in five people (58%) weren’t offered a choice in the type of therapy they received.

( http://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/news/people-with-mental-health-problems-still-waiting-over-a-year-for-talking-treatments/)

 

 

 

 

 

Tory MSP Anne Wells complains that The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital is failing to meet A&E waiting times.

Scotland’s first super hospital, The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, has not met the Scottish Government’s waiting time target since September of last year and has been the most under-performing hospital over the past 20 weeks when it comes to A&E waiting times.

Latest stats show that only 81.7% of patients are being seen within 4 hours of arriving despite the minimum standard set by the Scottish Government being 95%.

What is the government doing to ensure the hospital meets its accident and emergency waiting times target??????

 

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But first let’s look at the performance of the Tory managed NHS in England in the same month!!!!!

Across the entire NHS in England the average number of patients patients in A&E that were transferred, admitted or discharged within four hours was 82% – rather than the target 95% – (the worst figures on record.)

Trolley dolly’s, 60,000 patients (up from 51,200 in December) waited in corridor’s for a hospital bed between 4-12 hours). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38907492

 

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The Scottish government’s response (remember this is one Scottish hospital)!!!

The Scottish Government’s national unscheduled care team (made up of people with clinical improvement expertise) has been working closely with local teams across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, especially with Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and Glasgow Royal Infirmary supporting prompt recovery and sustainable improvements in A and E and the IAU.

The team are supporting implementation of the six essential actions and the implementation of an action plan, which was agreed with the chairman of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde in December 2016 for the Queen Elizabeth university hospital. The team leaders meet the chairman of the board regularly to advise on progress.

In September 2007, there were 25 whole-time-equivalent consultants specialising in emergency medicine in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

In December 2016 there were 75 whole-time-equivalent consultants specialising in emergency medicine in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

That is an increase of 50 whole-time-equivalent consultants, or 200 per cent, under this Scottish National Party Government.

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/sp/?id=2017-03-30.2.0

 

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You can follow Calton Jock at his webpage CaltonJock

 

Willie Rennie & the Lib/Dem’s

Willie Rennie & the Lib/Dem’s – (In Government With Labour) – Forced Through The Intermediary Technology Institutes Scheme – Against the Wishes of the SNP- Investments Cost the Taxpayer £230Million – But Was Willie Ecstatic at the £600K ReturnThe Labour and Liberal Democratic Party Coalition Government – (1999-2007)

In 2002 Labour and the Liberal/Democrat’s formed a powerful coalition government in Scotland. Their political dominance over a fractured opposition provided opportunity for their politicians to introduce novel and untested working arrangements.

The Liberal/Democrats had enjoyed a long and successful history representing Scottish constituencies and had in place an efficient lobbying machine, advancing to government the interests of a number of multi-national organisations and other UK based companies. McEwan-Purvis was one such company, operating in or around Holyrood between 2001-2006.

With the assistance of government ministers, the company introduced direct links between the government and the commercial sector, (Willie Rennie’s input was substantial but largely unnoticed) through the introduction of an ALEO (given the title “The Intermediary Technology Institutes” (ITI)). Opposition party and public protests questioning the integrity of the scheme, “fell on deaf ears” and a new way of working to government was adopted by Scottish Enterprise and given a budget of budget of £450m.

The scheme, launched in 2003, was aimed at turning innovative ideas in Scottish universities into commercial triumphs, attracted hundreds of millions in public cash. However, only £600,000 was ever received in royalties.

ITI had badly malfunctioned; chronically failing to deliver the economic objectives envisaged by Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government. The ten year programme produced very little of the expected commercial outputs, such as new tech start-ups and licensing revenues, and was prematurely terminated by Scottish Enterprise in 2010.

This article identifies some of the characters and circumstances that resulted in such a massive loss to the Scottish Taxpayer. The route to the truth may be convoluted and lengthy but it is important Scottish electorate is appraised of the shortfalls of those who seek their vote.

 

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McEwan-Purvis – A Lobbying company with direct links to the Liberal Democratic Party (operating between 2001-2006).

There were two directors and 5 shareholders: (Jeremy Purvis – Sam McEwan – Willie Rennie – Jayne Struthers – Jacqueline Wilson)

Jeremy Purvis: graduated from University in London. He then worked full-time for Sir David Steel in the House of Commons and ran his office in the House of Lords. In 1998 he moved to Edinburgh to work for political lobbying firm GJW.

In 2001 he established, with a fellow director, his own strategic communications consultancy, advising clients on communications. He was elected to the Scottish Parliament in May 2003 (suggesting that he ceased to be a director of the company before June 2003).

In August 2013 he (Baron Purvis of Tweed) was elevated politically when he was appointed to the post of “working peer” for the Liberal Democratic party, in the House of Lords.

He represents the Liberal/Democratic party on: “The Commission on Parliamentary Reform which is an independent group, established in October 2016 by Ken Macintosh, the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament It expected to report by June 2017.

 

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Sam McEwan: Was employed (from 1993) as Media Manager at “Scottish Enterprise.” (advising on public affairs issues in the software, textiles, food and biotechnology industries).

Before founding McEwan & Purvis he was manager of the Edinburgh based political lobbying firm GJW (now Weber Shandwick Worldwide).

 

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Willie Rennie ran the Scottish Young Liberal Democrats whilst studying at college in Paisley. After graduation he left Scotland to work for the party in Cornwall, returning to Scotland in 1997 to take up the post of chief executive of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, moving on to the post of chief of staff in the new Scottish Parliament from 1999-2001.

From 2001-6 he worked for the lobbying company McEwan Purvis, primarily providing supporting advice to the Royal Society of Chemistry and the arms manufacturer Raytheon.

In 2006, Rennie won the Westminster seat of Dunfermline and West Fife in a bye-election. At Westminster, he was a member of the Lib/Dem shadow defence team, and also chair of their parliamentary campaigns unit. In November 2006 at Westminster PMQ’s Rennie (Lib/Dem defence spokesperson) asked the Prime Minister:

“After the conflict ended, cluster bombs used in Lebanon by Israel resulted in 159 casualties, including 23 deaths so far. In Geneva last week, why did the UK not support calls from the UN Secretary-General, the International Committee of the Red Cross and 27 nations for urgent action? In Oslo next year, will the Prime Minister push for a ban on those indiscriminate bombs, or does he agree with the Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, who has responsibility for the armed forces, who strongly advocates the use of such bombs?”

What a chancer, (and thick with it) Rennie was a Lobbyist employed with McEwan Purvis, (the Liberal/Democratic commercial organ) who had the merchants of death as their client. Yes, it was “Raytheon” – one of the World’s largest weapons manufacturer. Looks like “Oor Willie” is not only a political opportunist but the worst kind of hypocrite seeing as Raytheon is a proud manufacturer of, you guessed it, CLUSTER BOMBS.

He failed to hold the seat in the 2010 GE and returned to Scotland once more taking up a newly created post as special adviser to Scottish Secretary Michael Moore then Danny Alexander.

He was elected leader of Scotland’s Lib/Dems after their demolition in the 2011 Holyrood elections. In his first address to party members he stated that under his leadership the party would rediscover its soul and rebuild trust with voters. He was an honourable man who would have no truck with anyone in public office who did not measure up to the exacting standards he demanded of himself. Those who failed, for any reason would be expected by him to resign.

And so to “Frenchgate”. The exposure of former Scotland Secretary Alistair Carmichael, after much prevarication by himself, of his disgraceful, underhand leadership and devious direct involvement, with others in an attempt to smear Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

There were strident across the political spectrum, the public and the press for the exposed rogue and liar to stand down from the seat he won by a whisker in the Westminster Election for Orkney and Shetland. But he didn’t. That he took his place at Westminster brings politics into disrepute. And Willie and his principles. Scotland waited in vain for the word “Resignation” It was not to be.

Finally, after much pressure Willie issued the following statement:

“I have discussed the serious nature of the publication of the Scotland Office document with Alistair Carmichael. He fully understands the impact it has had on his reputation. He deeply regrets his actions, has accepted responsibility for his error of judgement, apologised to Nicola Sturgeon and the French Ambassador and declined his ministerial severance payment. I have known Alistair for almost thirty years and have worked closely with him in parliament for almost a decade. I have always been impressed by his energy, dedication and professionalism. He has served Orkney and Shetland for fourteen years and has been elected on four separate occasions. It is clear to me that recent events are an aberration. As a liberal I believe that people deserve a second chance. I hope fair minded people would agree that Alistair Carmichael should be given that second chance.”

 

 

 

 

Clients of McEwan-Purvis

Raytheon: At that time the fifth largest defence manufacturer in the world. The company had four business areas: Missile Defense; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance; Precision Engagement; and Homeland Security. It was most famous for missiles. The company is a global leader in the development and deployment of advanced technology missile systems and air combat and strike systems”. Products include the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-air missile, the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-air missile and the Tomahawk Block IIIC Cruise Missile. and the now banned cluster bomb.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society (Scottish branch):

Royal Society of Chemistry:

Association for Science Education in Scotland:

 

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Dec 2002: Scottish Parliament Science Information Service

In December 2002 the Scottish Parliament launched a one-year pilot Science Information Scheme for MSPs at the Scottish Parliament. The Scheme was promoted as a collaborative project between the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) in association with the Institute of Physics in Scotland and the University of Edinburgh.
Scheme purpose

To ensure all MSPs had access to rapid, reliable and factual information on science, engineering and technology-related issues in order to help inform Parliamentary debates on scientific issues.
Scheme Operation

The scheme was operated through a group of 52 Topic Co-ordinators who acted as “sign posts” directing MSP queries to the appropriate expert. Queries were directed to these Topic co-ordinators through the RSC Parliamentary Liaison Officer or SPICe.
Political lobbying connection

The contacts named at the end of the press release included the Royal Society of Chemistry. The contact was named as Willie Rennie of the political lobbying company McEwan Purvis. This indicated that Rennie was passing himself off as working for a learned society while in reality he was employed by and a shareholder in the PR firm. It is common knowledge that science related organisations enjoy strong corporate links and that they routinely promote pro-corporate views on science issues.
Biased briefings

The scheme, (guaranteed to be rapid, and impartial) was run jointly by the parliament, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, in association with other learned or scientific bodies.

Some briefings for MSPs were provided through the scheme on an anonymous basis and initially the list of “Topic Co-ordinators” was kept confidential to avoid “inhibiting” their ability to provide “free and frank” advice.

After a long struggle the Green Party gained access to the list under the freedom of information (FIA) and discovered that among the Topic Co-ordinators were Sir Tom McKillop, (then chief executive of Astra/Zeneca) and other academics with ties to industry which the Greens said made them partisan. (1)

(1) The GM crops/agrochemical divisions of Astra/Zeneca and Novartis merged in 2000 under the name Syngenta. As of 2008 Syngenta is one of the major producers of GM crops.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the SPICe briefing on GM crops was described by Dr Sue Mayer, director of campaign group Genewatch and a member of the UK Government’s Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission, as “highly biased and pro-GM”.
Protests against the Scheme

Mark Ballard, the Green MSP, wrote to Holyrood’s chief executive asking for a review of the Scottish Parliament science information service saying “The scheme must be open, transparent and objective. I am deeply concerned that people providing information feel the need to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.”

Professor David Miller of Strathclyde University, who runs the internet group spinwatch claimed the parliament has been naive in its dealings with the private sector and its lobbyists. He pointed out that Willie Rennie, now a LibDem MP, effectively ran the science information scheme while working for a PR agency hired by the Royal Society of Chemistry – the kind of linkage between learned societies and private lobbyists who could represent other clients, which made it impossible to be confident of the impartiality of advice.

 

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The Intermediary Technology Institutes (ITI)

Ignoring the critics warnings, (at the end of the 2003-2004 trial period) the Scheme was formally adopted by the Scottish government and titled, “The Intermediary Technology Institutes” (ITI).

Its mission statement included the statement: “to drive innovation in research and development within Life Sciences, Energy and Digital Media sectors.”

To facilitate the foregoing the ITI’s commissioned research programmes to generate assets for onward commercialisation by Scottish companies supporting Scotland’s economic growth.

(http://powerbase.info/index.php/Scottish_Parliament_Science_Information_Service) (http://www.dmiller.info/articles/16-teaching/124-greens-science-briefings-could-be-biased-by-business)

 

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14 Jan 2009: Scottish Enterprise takes charge of failed ITI scheme

Scotland’s flagship technology commercialisation body is to lose its independence and come under the direct control of its main financial backer, Scottish Enterprise.

In a move to cut spending, the Intermediate Technology Institute (ITI) will become part of the publicly funded enterprise quango.

The surprise decision means that the ITI chairman, will step down and the organisation’s non-executive board will be disbanded at the end of the month.

In November, the chairman said that the organisation – set up in 2003 to commercialise intellectual property – faced a shortfall in its budget, allocated annually from Scottish Enterprise. Last year the group had a budget of £38.1 million.

The same month, Scottish Enterprise said “in future the two organisations will be working more closely together”, but the merger surprised business groups and politicians.

Scottish Enterprise yesterday said there would be no compulsory redundancies among the organisation’s 80 staff but promised there would be a review of its funding.

A spokesman denied the merger was a failure of strategy on behalf of Scottish Enterprise and said it would knock out duplication between the two organisations.

Last year, Scottish Enterprise undertook a major restructuring as more than half of its employees moved out to a new organisation, Careers Scotland, and its annual budget was slashed from £329m to £283m.
BACKGROUND to ITI

The Intermediate Technology Institutes (ITI) were set up by Scottish Enterprise in 2003 to commercialise technology based research and intellectual property in a ten-year programme with an overall budget of £450 million.

ITI Scotland oversees divisions in three main research areas: energy in Aberdeen, life sciences in Dundee and techmedia in Glasgow.

In its latest annual report, ITI Scotland said it had so far spent £134 million on 25 commercialisation projects and filed 132 patents.

 

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11 Sep 2013: Holyrood urged to back Scottish Enterprise probe

The Scottish Parliament has been urged to back calls for Audit Scotland to investigate a failed Scottish Enterprise scheme (ITI) which wasted more than £230 million of taxpayers’ money. The scheme, launched in 2002, was aimed at turning innovative ideas in Scottish universities into commercial triumphs, and attracted hundreds of millions in public cash.

However, only £600,000 was ever received in royalties, and it was wound-up in 2009 having been deemed a spectacular failure. No full-scale investigation has ever taken place into why the programme did not succeed and Audit Scotland has been asked to find out what went wrong to ensure mistakes are not repeated in future, and to obtain an explanation as to how so much cash could have been wasted.

 

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Monday 19 Jan 2015: Academics warn policy-makers must learn from their mistakes

New research examining the controversial Scottish Government funded innovation initiative – the Intermediate Technology Institutes (ITIs) – was published this week by a team of entrepreneurship researchers from the Universities of St Andrews, Glasgow and Edinburgh.The work examines the spectacular failure of the programme.

The ITIs were an extremely ambitious policy intervention launched in 2003 by Scottish Enterprise with a budget of £450m. Designed to have a major transformational impact on the Scottish economy, its main aim was to produce new high-technology start-ups and to dramatically increase the levels of business expenditure on research and development (R&D).

The researchers concluded that the ITI badly malfunctioned; chronically failing to deliver the economic objectives envisaged by Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government. The ten year programme produced very little of the expected commercial outputs, such as new tech start-ups and licensing revenues, and was prematurely terminated by Scottish Enterprise in 2010.

In the first independent and objective assessment of the initiative, the research examined the reasons for this policy failure.
Three comments are worthy of note

(1) The ITI programme was based on an outdated linear view of innovation. The critical stumbling block behind the policy’s failure was the inability of policy makers to properly diagnose the nature of structural problems within the Scottish entrepreneurial ecosystem.

While policy failures in the sphere of innovation policy are numerous and costly, such failures are rarely acknowledged by policy makers, as was the case of the ITIs. Arguably, this prevents the ability to learn from past mistakes.”

(2) A number of factors contributed to ITI : The research undertaken was too ‘far from market’, fitted poorly with the innovation needs of Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) had too many restrictions in terms of the usage of the intellectual property (IP) and the licensing conditions were prohibitively expensive.

Innovation policy makers need to become less focused on generating the supply of new IP and more focused on increasing the ability of Scottish SMEs to undertake innovative activities and to absorb external sources of knowledge. A critical mass of innovative SMEs will provide more of a seed-bed for new tech start-ups than policies to stimulate and protect.

(3) Lessons need to be learnt to prevent similar and costly policy failures being repeated. This entails being open with external researchers and stakeholders with information and data to further understanding of the performance of policies and, crucially, the causes of failure.

The authors of the report expressed concern that Scottish politicians may not have fully absorbed the lessons from the failure of the initiative.

 

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Why Another Independence Referendum? The English Laws Thing Shattered the Unionist Alliance in Scotland Against the Breakup of the United Kingdom – Lord Michael Forsyth (Tory)

Scottish Unionist leader Ruth Davidson has hired a spin doctor from a controversial private healthcare firm to work for her at Holyrood.

Gordon Hector will head up her press and research team, from offices based at Holyrood. He was previously head of communications for Circle Healthcare, the first private company to run an NHS hospital in England in an experiment that went badly awry.

Circle took over struggling Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridge, which had 250 beds, 1,500 staff and a Pounds 111 million budget, in a 10-year contract in 2012. Three years later the Care Quality Commission branded the hospital “inadequate”, it was put into special measures. Circle then pulled out of the deal early admitting it could not find the savings needed to make the hospital financially sustainable.

He was previously a senior speech-writer at the Department for Education, writing for Conservative junior ministers and Michael Gove, the then Secretary of State. He also worked for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, where he was its public affairs manager. He began his career at Fishburn Hedges (Media Management), working on public affairs and media accounts.

 

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Ruth Davidson and Profiling

Davidson’s profile has risen in recent months, in recognition of her parties improved performance at the last Scottish parliamentary elections. She has also moved the party to the “right” of Scottish politics and now claims, with some pride that she leads the only Unionist party in Scotland.

Labour and the Lib-Dem’s have been sidelined in preference to their support of a “Federalist” UK within Europe. The result in Scottish political terms is a return to the two party system.

Ruth Davidson now has a media Svengali (Gordon Hector) who provides advice, direction and guidance, in the presentation of her policies in Holyrood, the media and in public. Under his mentoring she has distanced herself from the images of, “Buffalo Bill from Maryhill” and “Tommy the Tank Engine” to stateswoman.

Evidenced from her recent bellicose performances in parliament she is basing her character on Margaret Thatcher and in this venture she could have no better mentor than Gordon Hector who wrote his thesis at University on his favourite politician. (https://conservativehistory.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/chj-winter-2009-10.pdf)

Other aspects of promoting the new image include referring to the party as “Unionist” since the word “Conservative” still rankles Scots of all political persuasion.

Another tactic favoured by Hector is the use of the “Content Seeding” strategy through the extensive broadcasting of good news items (using internet social media sites Facebook and twitter are two examples) greatly favouring Ruth Davidson whilst attacking Nicola Sturgeon.

In Nicola Sturgeon’s case this entails allocating a group of staff to search Facebook and Twitter creating a database of any any person that may have posted a negative comment about Nicola. The database is the driver for negative “Content Seeding”. Time consuming but effective.

 

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Public Relations Strategy – Content Seeding

The internet and the accompanying fast growth of Social media provides opportunity for the rapid spread of information targetted at specific individuals and groups and is being increasingly used by marketing and journalist professionals to get their messages across to a widespread community numbered in the millions. The title of the innovation is “Contract Seeding”.

Content Seeding aims to ensure widespread awareness for a politician by planting positive “seeds” across the web. These “seeds” consist of little content pieces, aiming to trigger the interest of a pre-determined target group. To ensure control all seeds are linked back to the main platform of corporate communication (this can be an article, a landing page or even the website itself).

Content Seeding triggers the interest of target groups reaching well beyond press releases and written content to promote the politician. Strategic planting of content on targetted platforms ensures fast forward sharing of the information through its target audience.

Balance is imperative and Content Seeding uses multimedia content across channels. The primary focus is to create content which target groups will be keen to receive, and consume, for information and strategic purposes but also for sharing with its peers. The result can be an instantaneous sharing of seeded content well beyond that which the information was designed to reach.

Seeding campaigns can be time consuming and staff intensive, ranging from the use of free sites to costly ventures.It is imperative that a cost benefit analysis is completed and presented to the client for approval before the event.

 

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Contract Seeding in Action

Forsyth challenged the way in which Cameron played the English card in the immediate aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum by offering English MPs a greater say over English only laws. Later toughened up to a “veto” in the Conservative 2015 election manifesto.

He said: “David Cameron, instead of going up to Scotland the next day [after the referendum] and saying ‘look we’ve got to look at this now from the point of view of the whole United Kingdom’, started the English votes for English laws thing which was not a unionist position and that shattered the unionist alliance in Scotland against the breakup of the United Kingdom.

I personally don’t support English votes for English laws. It doesn’t seem to me to be a very good policy to try and deal with the rise of Scottish nationalism by stirring up English nationalism. We need to find ways of binding the United Kingdom together, of binding that partnership together.”

He added: “questioning the legitimacy of SNP MPs is unwise and runs counter to the assurances offered during the referendum about guaranteeing an inclusive UK. And I have limited sympathy for Labour, which is paying the price for adopting the language of nationalism in the 1980s then claiming that the Tories had no mandate to govern in Scotland. They now find themselves being devoured by the nationalist tiger.” Forsyth’s remarks add resonance because he is an ardent Thatcherite and unionist who played a leading role in fighting Labour’s plans for a Scottish parliament in the 1997 election campaign.

 

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Thank you Michael Forsyth! This is pretty much exactly what I thought the morning after the Scottish referendum – that Cameron was playing a partisan game that was certain to inflame Scottish nationalism with an English betrayal only hours after the vote, and damaging the Union he claimed to champion in the interests of a short-term electoral gain. The only question I’ve never quite been able to settle in my head is whether when he made his little play to English nationalism he was stupid enough not to see what this would do in Scotland, arrogant enough to assume that it didn’t matter now the referendum was done, or insincere enough in his professed concern for the Union (which is part of his party’s name) that he didn’t actually care as long as it boosted his chances of re-election this time round. So, David Cameron, fool or knave? It’s a hard choice (though there is an obvious answer).
Cameron blundered hugely: having actually signed a vow promising Scotland substantially extended devolution, the very day after the result, he turned around and retrospectively slapped conditions on it. Forsyth’s point is — Cameron took a giant public dump on a signed pledge just days old. A huge kick in the teeth to the “no”voters in Scotland. Not wise.
The British Nationalists of the Tory, Labour, Lib-Dem parties are determined to continue with their unparalleled economic incompetence holding the union together regardless of the adverse impact of their policies, promoting austerity, inequality and privatisation.

 

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Nicola Sturgeon said that it would be up to the people of Scotland, at some future date to decide if there would be another independence referendum. But even provided with an explicit statement of intent Unionist politicians continue with their ridiculous claims that those that Scots choose to send to Westminster to represent them are akin to fifth columnists infiltrating parliament. This is offensive, beyond understanding and will bring forward the date when the Scottish parliament will be petitioning for another referendum.
Scots are only a part of the Union just as long as they do not have the temerity to attempt to participate in its governance.

 

 

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The Conservative position on Nicola Sturgeon is starting to sound a bit like: Tory HQ: She’s a witch! Burn her! Electorate: Did you dress her up like this? Tory HQ: No, no, no! Yes, yes. A bit. But she’s got a wart.
Independence is not all about the SNP. The Scottish Greens also support independence and they now have more members than the Scottish branch of the Labour party.And there are one or two smaller parties that are also pro-independence.

 

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The Tories burned their legitimacy in Scotland, promising devolution that they had no intention of delivering then, when their votes in Scotland plummeted, they indulged in petty acts of revenge, using Scotland as testing site for their most bloody minded policies. ……Tories making dishonest promises to Scotland and then indulging in petty acts of spite…sounds familiar.
It is ironic that during the 2014 referendum the “yes” side was persistently accused by better together and other Yes supporting entities of paranoia and seeing conspiracy’s everywhere against them. In some cases, their fears were entirely justified, in others the right wing press, covering the outcome of the referendum in the months before Xmas 2014 confirmed their fears. So it is amusing in 2017 to witness the Unionists seeing secret plots, pacts and alliances everywhere…..”The SNP have been negotiating secret deals with Labour” say the Tories,……”No, the SNP are actually in unholy alliance with the Tories” say Labour……….”Actually it’s both of them !!” claim the Lib-Dem’s…….Any wonder that people in Scotland see and hear this and then decide to support the SNP

 

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Cameron has started “Operation Totally Terrified”, demonising Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. Entire pages of daily newspapers are devoted to the “evolution” of Nicola, complete with “comments” such as “jimmy crankie” “mary doll” to the “vile” “nasty” and wishing she has an accident or car crash. Over the top.

 

The one thing that’s increasingly obvious is that the only way the UK can survive is as some form of federal system….But nevertheless the article nails the fact that Cameron is playing a dangerous and stupid game. His idiocy on the steps of Downing street the morning after the referendum showed how the Tories planned to put partisan considerations before the national interest and bridge building, but the rhetoric used in the last few days has reached a new low even for the Tories.The SNP have every right to send elected MPs to Westminster and to vote how they see fit…them’s the rules. However I don’t believe Cameron actually give two hoots about the Union based on his deliberate machinations and incendiary comments (or if he does he’s even more of an idiot than I thought) … But I’ll bet he does care about keeping the neo-liberal gravy train rolling for a few more years and is evidently prepared to risk breaking up the Union to achieve this…Can anyone remind me what you call someone who deliberately betrays their nation for ideological and personal gain?

 

Which highlights the point I have been consistently making for well over 4 years, that David Cameron is dangerously impulsive, and has appallingly poor judgement. He really is a dangerous politician who just makes it up as he goes along, simply to look good, and then just flippantly ditches his previous position, when it no longer suits his temporary purpose.

 

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Not only is David Cameron the cause of Scottish resentment, highlighted by his stupid boastful claim that the Queen purred down the the phone, after he grabbed the referendum with a mixture of blackmail, dire threats and deceit, but he swings in opposite directions on almost everything. So he claims to be a “compassionate, moderate Conservative, whilst simultaneously boasting about going further than Thatcher. He claimed to be green, and claimed to want the “greenest ever government” from the “bottom of his heart”, and then was reported to be going around saying, “let’s get rid of the green crap”. His hugging a hoodie posturing saw him claiming that young people shouldn’t be demonized, before his lock’em up hysteria after the looting, and stopping housing benefit for the young.

 

 

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How can you trust a politician who is so flippantly contradictory about so much. David Cameron in his impulsive attempt to keep Scotland in the UK, has so upset and angered the Scottish people, that he’s given the SNP a landslide. David Cameron is the SNP’s best recruiting agent.

 

David Cameron is a reckless and dangerous politician who has done massive damage to the social fabric of this country, with his reckless and flippant make it up as he goes along with it policy. The only thing you can be certain of with Cameron, is that what he’s saying now, is going to be entirely different than what he will be saying next year, or the year after that. If David Cameron didn’t have such massive support from the media, or rather their Tory leaning proprietors and executives, he would be electoral toast.

 

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Scotland voted against Labour because they felt that Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem Parties had done next to bugger all for Scotland. When they voted Tory they got shafted when industry got shut down down and when they voted Labour they got punished yet again when the Labour government failed to produce policies replacing the disaster left by the last lot. Instead they got empty promises, zero-hours contracts and ATOS. Nothing got any better. Rather than vent against the Scottish electorate, it would be far better if the parties actually listened and tried to deliver something that the Scottish voters want – rather than offer them the same old same old.
Cameron stands accused of having “shattered” the pro-UK alliance in Scotland and stirring up English nationalism after the Scottish independence referendum last year. It was obvious what he was trying to achieve: a “Permanent Tory Supremacy” in England. None of the arguments against that premise are convincing, and Cameron is just the type of big-headed slime-ball who would prance around wearing a crown, while the rest of the nation disintegrates around him. He couldn’t give an airborne copulation about the United Kingdom – it’s all about him.

 

 

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Post Brexit – Another Independence Referendum – Another No Vote – Scotland Gets the Government of Ruth the “Mooth” Davidson and Her Unionist Tories – But it Can Be Avoided

Shocks in Store for Scotland if Ruth Davidson and her Tory Yes Ma’am politicians ever gain power in Scotland

Ruth Davidson and her Westminster Unionist Tory are not seen as an immediate threat to Scots, who through their SNP devolved government at Holyrood provide health care and some social services without reference to Westminster. But another referendum is in the offing and there is need to give consideration to the impact of another “no” vote.

The fallout in Scotland would be catastrophic. It is very likely the SNP government would resign and ask the electorate to decide its future within the UK. The electoral campaigns to follow would be greatly disappointing since the SNP would most likely split into factions leaving the Tories as the only united party.

A Tory victory would allow Davidson and her Unionist party to take up the reins of government in Scotland releasing the full might of Westminster on our country. In government she would be quick off the mark passing back to Westminster any devolved power that they required and then some.

 

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She is no supporter of the Scottish parliament. Reverting to type Davidson’s government would implement the Tory philosophy bringing in prescription charges, hospital car parking fees, University graduate charges, elderly care-home charges, tax cuts for the richest 10% and increases for the remainder of the population.

In short Scotland would be changed from a social caring society to a right wing “dog eat dog” country where the strong survive and the weak perish. Not much of an outlook for a once proud nation that has given so much to the world.

Next is an example of the Tories at work. They look after only those that vote for them. Lanarkshire, Glasgow, the West of Scotland, Fife and Dundee beware:

Residential care of the elderly in England is a privatised entity worth around £16billion to the private sector annually. There are regularity standards in place designed to provide protection to elderly residents. The Quality Care Commission routinely inspects homes in England with the purpose of monitoring the standard of care and welfare provision.

Their most recent report makes for startling reading. Homes in the South of England are doing well being adequately funded, staffed and equipped. Conversely home in the North are performing very badly due to inadequate funding, staff shortages etc. The Tory government provide more finance to the richest constituency’s in England at the expense of the poorest. That is the policy Ruth Davidson will bring to Scotland if she ever gains power. Scotland’s day of reckoning is not that far off. Hopefully Scots will see the Tories for what they are. A bunch of carpetbaggers intent on asset stripping Scotland.

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