Little Things

Bit of a zombie weekend – watching two slow motion catastrophes in graphic action – the national rugby team and Scottish Labour’s election plan…both inept, unresponsive, naïve and hung over with failure.

I’d expected some progress by now from both because there were early signs of effort and enterprise but with time running out they are each marooned in stagnation.


And, like the rugby team, Labour are suffering as much from the little things as they are from any overarching shortcomings. The first is the Murphy re-election platform. In some ways it won’t bother voters where the leader sits and he was after all chosen on the basis of being a sitting MP. I don’t imagine Labour voters are concerned that his current campaigning is done, in electoral terms, from Westminster rather than Holyrood but as the contest warms up and the focus turns on Scotland’s place in the Union, the powers in Edinburgh and who represents the nation, well, I suspect they’ll find it a bit weird that the prospective First Minister is standing again for election to the UK parliament.

Voters differentiate between the two centres and between the two governments and while they might stomach Murphy continuing as a Westminster member meantime, a la Salmond, I’m not sure they’ll readily accept that he commits himself to another term down there when the clear need is to be inside Holyrood.

The pragmatic reasons I suppose, include: If he doesn’t contest Eastwood then he forgoes a resettlement payment (MP’s redundancy)…there is every chance that without his personal vote Labour lose the seat…there is no Holyrood vacancy for him to fill…but if the SNP does well in winning West of Scotland seats he can pick up an MSP spot by getting himself placed top of that list.

However, it isn’t much of a rallying call for the British election to be telling people you’ll stay for a year if they elect you and then you’ll be off to Edinburgh – enjoy the by-election. (In which case, again, he wouldn’t qualify for the resettlement grant). Or, more cynically, he stays as MP to see what happens to him in the Holyrood vote and if he fails to get in next year, he ploughs on as an MP, with the leadership left a raggedy, threadbare nuisance to be passed on to some other mug.

Presumably this is why so far he hasn’t told anyone of his longer-term plans – not an ideal launch position. The sense that this is dodging the honourable and straightforward route expected by the public is strong. Ask the man at Eastwood Toll and he’ll tell you Murphy should stand down and go for a Holyrood seat if he wants to be First Minister. Anything else looks sleekit and self-serving, like a man hedging his bets and unsure of success.


And doesn’t it underline Johann Lamont’s killer line that Scotland is Labour’s branch office when the leader himself opts to stand for Westminster even as he tells us of his plans to be First Minister? I think Brian Taylor said this was ‘far from satisfactory’ – repeated for emphasis. In other words: He’s f***ed. He’s relying on Scots overlooking this misstep and what it tells us about his ambitions and Labour’s hopes.


Woe betide anyone who conveys the idea that he is taking the voters for granted. And contained therein is another calamity waiting to happen – that Murphy loses the seat. That really would spell the end because can you imagine a man the voters have kicked out presenting himself as the leader to take on Sturgeon and the ascendant Nationalists?

Makes you wonder how much actual planning Murphy did in advance….like his deputy who strikes me as too immature. Kezia Dugdale has fallen into the habit of a default high-pitched delivery designed to convey anger and scorn – appropriate on occasion – but literally monotonous. She personifies Labour’s approach – constant attack – but without a change of gear which suggests thought or even solutions. I stop listening.

Her recent tweet asking why Chinese steel was being used on the Forth Crossing (as a juvenile response to criticism of Labour leaflets being printed in England) has the hallmarks of John McTernan, who’s been asking MSPs to travel through to Glasgow to get their instructions from him. No mature politician would make such an elementary mistake to sound petty on the one hand and ill-informed on the other providing an open goal to remind us of the closure of Ravenscraig and the loss of a strategic industry.

But my favourite cock-up isn’t Labour’s at all – it’s Danny Alexander’s gift to nationalism by sticking up the Union flag on public works. You just know this came from a committee asked to brainstorm about ‘getting the message out’. Why should Brussels get all the credit for jetties and fly-overs when it was just matched funding?

Of all the issues this raises, the most fundamental is this: Do Scots admire the Union Jack? When it is displayed, do we naturally stiffen our spine, struggle to restrain a salute and quietly hum God Save the Queen? Damned if I do…

I resent its presence, regard it as a symbol of British control in Scotland and of colonial imperialism abroad. I believe it is quietly resented by most Scots as the comfort blanket of those with the casual air of superiority they hear at the edges of their lives – that metropolitan entitlement and dismissiveness that brings us ‘the news where you are.’ That Alexander should have misunderstood or forgotten such feelings shows where his heart now lies – as a London-based, Tory-aligned benefits cutter whose Scottish instincts have been corrupted by Westminster far too early.

Those signs of course will become the target for graffiti just as the idea has on Twitter. Indeed we can apply it to Jim Murphy standing again for Westminster – FundedbytheUKgovernment


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43 thoughts on “Little Things

  1. Just what everyone needs, reminders of who they belong to plastered everywhere. Except that’s not the case is it? These things aren’t funded by HMG, they’re funded by us, the tax payer. Shouldn’t it be more accurate to have a little graphic stating you bought this? Mind you when you consider some of the things funded by HMG in our name you really wouldn’t want your name to be anywhere near those projects, some great examples of which are to be found here:

    As for listening to anything Labour says? Not for a very, very long time. When they stopped speaking to the electorate, they stopped speaking for the electorate and that goes for their pet media too. Ms Dugdale’s car crash tweet being an example. It could only have been less than two years ago Ms Lamont tried the same approach on Alex Salmond only to be schooled in what constitutes Scotland’s manufacturing base and who set up tendering legislation. This should have been humiliating enough for Labour to have retained the memory you’d have thought, but apparently not as the now deputy leader of Labour in Scotland repeats the same awful error.

    A deputy leader of Labour, the worker’s party, the people’s party, unaware of the manufacturing capabilities and tendering legislation of their own country… astonishing.

    • Great article and comments guys.

      (Jumps up and screams ” YOU TELL EM GUYS” 😀 )

      The party goes on and on and …

      • Alison Matthew

        Please folks,lets keep the moral high ground and the heid when it comes to this union flag idea. Tempting as it is to snicker when it is vandalised (as it surely will be), let us be creative and just use the one word that sums it up.. “Obsolete”

    • Joan Edington

      Ah, I can’t remember the topic but Deputy Dug said in FMQs the other week that she was too young 20 years ago, when something was done by the Labour party, so it doesn’t matter now.

      • Good grief. Did Ms Dugdale actually say that?

        Wants to be deputy FM next year. If that prospect doesn’t scare the bejayzus out of the electorate nothing will. 🙁

        • Joan Edington

          Maybe not in so many words but that was the gist. More a case of how was she expected to know something the Labour party did in the ’70s I think. Personally, I would have thought that a little party history could be of great benefit to a deputy leader while campaigning. Lol. I wish I could remember which week and if it might still be on iPlayer.

  2. Bugger (the Panda)

    Killer line

    “Makes you wonder how much actual planning Murphy did in advance”

    I seriously doubt that he has the strategic awareness to have analysed the options, made a probability of each and every option and then worked out his best bet.

    He is an unprincipled parvenu and a chancer to boot.

    He obviously read through somebody’s of Tony Blair’s ascendency and then modeled himself on that.

    That blueprint and Murphy’s lack of intellect, not cunning, makes his chosen path a threadbare one. He might have made a full tlme T U official but that and no further.

    His tea is oot and I will enjoy the Portillio moment when he loses his Westminster seat. I would not put it past him to bully someone to resign and let him in without an election. I doubt if anyone would do that willingly as Smurphy seems to have accumulated more enemies than he can kill in his political lif.

    Then of course he would need to defend his carpetbagged seat in 2016. Ides of March time.

    Cul de sac for a political faux cul.


    • BtP,

      I agree . That bugger Murphy has more enemies inside the Slab movement than outside. He was a gift to the YES movement the day he was nominated. Suddenly going all “Jock and Ha ha Socialist” .

      Mind and stick a Union jack on everything he does. aye he’s funded by the UK alright.

  3. Bugger (the Panda)


    somebody’s Reader’s Digest version of Tony Blair’s

  4. Eh!
    why dont we make sure they stick paid for by the UK government over those?

  5. When I was leafletting for Yes Scotland I came across a few Union Jack doormats. My first thought was that they might not want a Yes leaflet, and then I considered what type of person might want to wipe their feet on the Union Jack.

    I think most folk will resent both the Union Jack stickers and the presumptiousness that the money belongs to the UK Government. We pay for them, they don’t pay for us.

    • Andrew, as part of my therapy getting over the the referendum result, I bought myself a Union Jack doormat to wipe my feet on. I also insist my visitors to thoroughly do the same. It might seem puerile, but every little helps! By the way, the coir mat appears to disintegrating more quickly than I anticipated. A sign maybe?

  6. I think the comments above and Derek’s excellent piece show how out of touch and authoritarian the UK is.

    It is defensive in the extreme to have to point out ‘the UK government funded this’ as if to justify its continuing existence, and a real faux pas, which they haven’t even considered, when it is pointed out that in fact, WE, the people, funded it.

    Now, if the UK government had established an oil fund, and was using the interest from that to fund projects, it might have a reasonable claim to say, ‘we, the government, funded this’.

  7. How about posters saying ‘Paid For By Scottish Oil Taxes’ on M25, Crossrail, Docklands Railway, HS1, , KIngs X, Charing X, London Bridge, Reading, St. Pancras Staiton Reconstructions et al.

    Let us not forget that we had to wait over 100 years for an escalator at Waverley.

  8. “Funded with Scotland’s Oil”!!,more like.

  9. smiling vulture

    smith commission Funded by UK Government

  10. How about giving plaques with ‘Not Funded by the UK Government’ to people on benefits with spare rooms and to Foodbanks?

  11. Ah see they,ve made the bed noo awe they can dey is LIE in it.

    Good piece Derek.,I,ll gie the Kesia piece ah miss ma brains wabbit.

  12. Bugger (the Panda)

    Just a thought, should that bed at the end of Derek’s article not be a single one?

  13. I think any “forward planning” done by Murphy and his advisors was based on a false impression of popular support. This was created by the wildly cheering groups of mainly bussed-in activists waving “No Thanks” placards, at his stage managed 100 Towns tour during the referendum campaign.

    Like the other great Labour self-delusionist, North British Broon, he believes in the image of himself promoted mainly by rags like the Record and other pro-Union media outlets, like BBC Scotchland for example.

    As for his chosen Deputy, to quote Murphy’s snide comment aimed at the very competent and effective Nicola Sturgeon, Ms Dugdale’s report card should be marked “Could do better!” Or maybe that should be “Couldn’t do any worse!”

  14. The current Governor General,Carmichael,stated during the referendum that the UK government needed to have a greater presence in Scotland,so it looks like Alexander has just taken a leaf out of his book.
    The only way they can do this in any meaningful way is to reduce Holyrood’s responsibilities which,should we allow them,they will so do after May.
    Scots need to be reminded that we get less back in spend from Westminster than we put in and the only way to settle disputes on this matter of fact is to retain all of our income in Scotland and make a contribution to shared UK services based on population share.
    If the claims from Westminster that they subsidise us are true,what objection could they possibly have to such arrangements and they could save money by no longer having to stick flags on Scottish infrastructure projects (amongst a lot of other things).

  15. Did you have to litter your blog with Union Jacks! I feel quite ill after that.
    It’s like living in an occupied country.

    We can watch the TV and listen to the radio and read the press and it is sometimes very good and cultured. But then the bile comes pouring out and reminds us that there is a propaganda war being orchestrated from Westminster – daily – and the likes of Danny and Kezia are just foot soldiers. Roll on May!

  16. Well all I will say is if these flags appear near me. I can’t see the local kids putting up with them for very long. It’s just a lot of anti Scottish jingoistic symbolism.

    Bad enough we have to put up with that flag at Stirling and Edinburgh Castles. Now every time we go under a bridge, we will be reminded who reigns over us. Oh and good luck putting them under bridges in Coatbridge ,Parkhead and Croy!

    Why not put one outside every foodbank.:”Not funded by the UK , Incepted By The UK”.

  17. Seems in East Renfrewshire Murphy’s jaiket is on a shoogly peg now a 3 way marginal .
    Latest poll shows Lab 33% SNP 31% Tory 27%, interesting times.

    • ronald alexander mcdonald

      I live in East Ren. I always vote and vote SNP. However, that surprises me (pleasantly) as SNP are usually nowhere.

      Should get this info out as might encourage people to vote SNP. It may also encourage the Labour vote out. That I suspect will be the objective of the poll.

    • Bugger (the Panda)

      Surely that would mean that the Labour voters in Murphy’s constituency should be voting SNP to keep the Tory out?

      • It used to be a safe Tory seat until 1997 when Murphy took it, mainly by being a right-wing Labour candidate. My guess is that it is still basically Tory, but these voters might not relish the prospect of Murphy switching his focus to Holyrood in his attempt to be FM.

  18. Murphy has a plan alright.
    Given him by Labour HQ in London.
    It finishes on May 8th when he’ll return to base.

    Murphy’s only job is to shore up Labour’s Westminster seats in Scotland.

    The Holyrood part is just to give him a bit of ‘credibility’.

    Not in a million years could Murphy have revealed
    the details of his short stay till 8th of May.
    He would have been told to f*** off by all and sundry.

    Murphy is gravity centred on himself.
    He’s not going to shuffle papers at the Scottish Branch office.
    He wants to be at Westminster where the Big Boys all play,
    and after which they retire to the Clubhouse, aka the House of Lords.

    He HAS to defend East Ren – it’s his life support system.

  19. VikingsDottir

    Speaking of Rugby, I’m sure I saw Andy Nicholl on TV several times during the Referendum Campaign being interviewed about Rugby while sitting on a settee surrounded by Union Jack cushions. The message is slightly mixed, playing Rugby for your country,Scotland, and displaying the Union Jack at the same time. I’m sure John Barrowman has them as well, although the message is perfectly clear there.
    Andrew Anderson. Yon bloodied rag is only fit for a door mat.

  20. Can’t see him holding his seat in a three way split. He only got that seat, when the Labour party took all the Tory voters with them.

    Now that the SNP are taking away the transient Slab support. Its just a matter of by how much Labour lose. Would I prefer a Tory victory over Jim Murphy?(absolutely). I might hate the Tories but they don’t pretend to be anything other than unionists.

    However I think the SNP have enough momentum to beat the Tories.

  21. Vikings. I had to give up watching rugby after all the legends came out against Scotland. Their Scotland is not the same as mine! We are a divided nation. Britscots and Scots.

    • Big Jock

      I felt silly on Saturday as i used to support the Scottish rugby team . But their behaviour over the referendum sickened me. I thought i was being petty but just couldn’t get into it so switched over.

    • Funnily enough my family and I are ardent watchers of the 6 Nations rugby but we can’t watch it since the vote. One of my brothers lives in Islay and he was talking to some of the farmers who always watch or go to the games can’t watch it either.

  22. I genuinely believe that one of the reasons Scotland does so badly in rugby and football, is because some of the players don’t know who or what they are.

    I remember years ago when the Scotland captain had to take a penalty against England in ?world cup match and you could tell by his body language that he did not believe in himself – he missed it,

  23. i’m afraid i stopped watching rugby [ i only watched international rugby so i could support my country ] when i listened to gavin hastings on qt from inverness the night they had that loonie on it dawned on me most rugby players are from farming stock so it was no surprise what they were voting for

  24. These UJ cushions got everywhere. No matter what programme you watched, up popped a UJ cushion. They must have bought in a load of bankrupt stock and spread them around. UJ stickers or plaques aren’t likely to last long enough to remind anyone of the parliament that didn’t fund it.

  25. Gavin.C.Barrie

    Rugby, a good sport for all sizes, from wee fat guys and big skinny guys but now spoiled by daft rules and daft referees. “A ruck! A maul!” He shouts, how many times were England offside against Ireland and not penalised?Sending off two players late in the Scotland Italy game in an International match watched by thousands of paying customers is commercial nonsense.

    Anyway so too is Murphy, nonsense. Why, do others than those who get some crumbs off his table, vote for him?

    Parvenu, chancer. One and the same Bug the P?

  26. ‘Funded by Scottish Oil – remember McCrone?’

    Don’t tear the Jacks off the wall, post some of your own.

    Wings? Crowdfund 100k stickers of our own.

    More fun that way.

    I suspect this latest UJ project will die a natural death – about as silly as Saltires above Downing St. etc.

    I think a knocked down ‘Caledonia’ will serve to remind those representing us on a rugby field what love is; and how to use that to win.

    Like many here, my sporting climax was 6N, but the hunger has gone, I felt almost nothing watching on

    Saturday – just…deadpan, and it pains me to feel this way.

    At least with Caledonia, Yea’s and Naw’s can express their love for their country without prejudice.

    Can you imagine those of a No persuasions’ dilemma when they get to the bit about Rising and being a

    Nation again?

    I would have to sing La La La La over it, or take a slurp of beer were I of that nature.

    (Flower of Scotland is a beautiful Lament, best suited to the single drum and guitar of the Corries,

    we all know it inspires when sung but it is most definitely not suited to the pipe intro, or the tone changes

    pipes cannot bridge.)

    Btw:I went to Watsons, and proud of it but NOT of some of my more prestigious Edinburgh cronies’

    ridicule of the genuine feelings of their countrymen.

    Time for a bit of healing; who better to do it than Dougie?

  27. Another recent example of the UK government’s enthusiasm for promoting symbols of union was the DVLA decidion that UK drivers (other than N.I.) should fly the Union flag with pride on their driving licences. Readers may be interested in the attached (rather lengthy) complaint which I sent, and the reply that I received from DVLA Contact Centre.

    Most of my questions are ignored, and there is not really any answer to the point about overriding the preference expressed by 62% of the Scottish population for an identity of “Scottish only” other than that “there were no public consultations”, and “, the Government firmly believe. . .” that, as I would put it they can assert that we will display a British identity regardless of our well documented preferences. If prohibitive costs were an important factor, they could have just decided to leave the flag out, as is being done for Northern Ireland.

    At the time I sent my questions, I was not aware that “driver licensing in Northern Ireland is a devolved matter and is the responsibility of the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland”. I have now seen further reporting on this (as reported by The Independent). A spokesperson for the DVA in Northern Ireland told the Belfast Telegraph: “In 2012 it was agreed that, recognising the particular sensitivities surrounding symbols in Northern Ireland, NI driving licences, which are produced for the Driver and Vehicle Agency in Swansea by the DVLA, should continue to be produced without the flag or crest.” This is not exactly in alignment with the reply to me that “the UK Government is unable to take a decision to include the Union flag on licences issued to motorists in Northern Ireland”. So one may conclude that the UK government are simply pleased to ignore an similar sensitivities in Scotland.


    Subject: “Flying the [Union] flag with pride”
    Date: 02/01/2015 22:52

    I note your Press release “Driving licences to display Union Flag” [#1].

    The 2011 UK census returns give a comprehensive and reasonably up-to-date expression of citizens ‘s views of their national identity. I quote directly from the various pages referenced –

    For Scotland –
    62 per cent of the total population stated their identity was ‘Scottish only’. ‘British identity only’ was chosen by 8 per cent of the population. [#2]
    For Northern Ireland –
    a quarter (25 per cent) had Irish Only. Two-fifths (40 per cent) of usual residents had a British Only national identity [#3]
    For England and Wales –
    English as a sole identity (not combined with other identities), was chosen by 32.4 million people (57.7 per cent). 10.7 million people (19.1 per cent) associated themselves with a British identity only [#4]

    I would be interested to know
    1. In taking this decision, was Claire Perry aware of the preferences for national identity as expressed above in census returns, or from any additional survey(s) that DVLA may have undertaken?
    2. Were citizen’s identity preferences taken into account in deciding that Northern Ireland motorists would be excepted from the new flag arrangements, whereas Scottish motorists will be forced to “fly the [Union] flag with pride” even although the government’s own statistics show that Scottish-only identity is preferred to British-only identity by a margin of around 8:1, with British-only identity managing only 8%?
    3. What criteria were in fact used to determine that DVLA wished to oblige Scottish drivers’ licences to display the Union flag, while Northern Ireland ones will not?

    The Northern Ireland case makes it clear that there is no functional need to include any national flag (whichever flag it might be) on the licence – hence this change appears to be a cosmetic one, done for political rather than transport-related reasons. When nearly half of Scotland’s electorate have recently voted to leave the UK, the minister’s words in the press release such as “take pride in our national [Union] flag ” and “celebrating Britain” and “strengthens our sense of national identity” represent misplaced cultural manipulation, no matter how delighted and proud Ms Perry may be personally. The unnecessary and discriminatory (in view of the N.I. example) inclusion of the Union flag is offensive to me, and made all the more irritating by the Minister’s unctuous statement of where our national pride ought to lie.

    I have just see a tweet from @DVLAgovuk stating “We believe that the majority will support it and it’s the right thing to do to help promote a national identity.” Well, I don’t believe that the majority in Scotand will support it (except, obviously, by having no choice other than to ue the licences); and I don’t know why the DVLA should feel hat it has the right to promote “national iddentity” – particularly when there is a lack of consensus about national identity.


    John Sharp
    [address and telephone contact information was supplied]




    Subject: DVLA Reply (KMM6758304V60748L0KM)
    Date: 03/02/2015 16:30

    Dear Mr Sharp

    Thank you for your email received on 5/1/15. Your email reference number is 2697282.

    I note the concerns you have expressed about this announcement. However, the Government firmly believe that including the Union flag on driving licences will strengthen Britain’s sense of national identity and unity.

    Whilst there were no public consultations, as the inclusion of the Union Flag would not invoke a policy change, the Government has considered giving motorists the choice of whether or not to have a licence showing the Union flag and offering a choice of national symbol. However, the costs involved in making the system and other changes required to offer such a choice were prohibitive.

    I can confirm that there will be no option for motorists to choose to have the EU flag only on their licence without the Union flag, or to have any other national symbol. This could lead to difficulties driving in Europe if law enforcement agencies do not recognise the variants.

    This proposal does not include Northern Ireland as driver licensing in Northern Ireland is a devolved matter and is the responsibility of the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland. The UK Government is unable to take a decision to include the Union flag on licences issued to motorists in Northern Ireland.

    Do not reply to this email. If you wish to contact us again about this response then please use our Reply Form or copy and paste the following URL in to your browser:

    When filling in the form the email reference number 2697282 will be required.


    R Fraser
    DVLA Contact Centre

    Follow DVLA on Twitter: @dvlagovuk

    Use our free View Driving Licence service to view your driving licence information held on DVLA records.

    8 June 2015 – the counterpart is abolished
    Find out more at:

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