The, part-privatised, (on the cheap) Royal Mail derives about 50% of it’s annual revenue from delivery of, “snail mail.” It is contracted, “by law” to deliver such mail on a universal basis throughout the UK. Retention of a, “Universal Mail Delivery” service is more expensive to maintain in the large rural areas of Scotland. Measures, correcting matters, reducing costs are ready for early implementation after the next general election. The measures; Universal home delivery of mail is to be withdrawn, (over a period not exceeding one year), in urban areas, with a population exceeding 5000, to be replaced with Post-Box, (PO) delivery. This will require homeowners to, “collect” their mail in person, (no exceptions) from a designated PO-Box which will be located locally, supermarket, Newsagent, Garage or similar enterprise. Inconvenient!!! Tough!!! will be the response of the new Conservative government.
The economy is apparently improving, (for London & the South East of England) and another Conservative Government is increasingly likely. Just who will lead it is not clear, since Cameron seems to have lost the support of his colleagues in Westminster.
The 1921 committee might yet decide it is time for him to go, to be replaced by a hard liner who would take the Party to the, “Right of Centre” so that the Party might lead the UK to a referendum resulting in the UK leaving the EEC. Read between the lines;
Early warning!!! should Scotland vote, “no” in the referendum it might well be forced by a Conservative, (English) government to leave the Common Market which would bring to Scotland major job losses and a collapsed economy. Vote, “Yes” in the September Referendum so that the catastrophe can be averted.
Commonwealth Games-William Hague Sets the Record Straight. Paraphrasing his briefing;
William Hague, clarifying Westminster’s official view of the Commonwealth Games insisted that whilst home countries might fly their flag and wear their colours, individuals competing that are resident in the, “British Isles” will be representing, “Team GB” since it is the UK and other countries of the Commonwealth that are member states.
Loss of Scotland would deprive the Lottery of approximately 30% of its weekly income rendering it unviable.
A National Lottery press release advised: “”most lottery millionaires are created in England, (London, Midlands, South East of England and the North East) which is by far the luckiest part of the UK.”
Intent on mischief and creating alarm within the minds of Scot’s who routinely purchased UK lottery tickets, the great informer, Gordon Brown, in a speech to labour loyalists and pensioners suggested that a, “Yes” vote on 18 September 2014 would result in Scot’s being denied the opportunity to purchase tickets for the UK lottery.
It was the widespread use of this form of misinformation by the “Red Tory Alliance”, of the Scottish electorate that created doubt in the minds of voters sufficient to persuade them to vote “no” in the referendum.
Since 2014 the weekly cost to the punter participating in the UK National Lottery has doubled but jackpots have halved.
There is also growing concern in Scotland about the misplacement of distribution of financial support to charitable and other public causes
Many Scot’s have deserted the UK lottery, and are placing a small amount of their hard earned weekly income with the Euro Millions and Irish Lottery.
Getting back to the “Red Tory Alliance” and Gordon Brown. If their briefing of Scot’s in 2014 is to be believed “Brexit” will bring an end to Scot’s participation in the Euro Millions and Irish Lottery’s.
But wait: The 1320, “Declaration of Arbroath” fully supported by Pope John XX11 and the bishops of Scotland remains extant. Scotland, (and it’s Roman Catholic poplace) is formally recognised as an, “independent nation” by the Church of Rome.
It is also well known within Church circles that Pope Francis, (embracing the policy of all previous Pope’s) fully supports the right of Scotland and it’s people to determine their own future. Further to the foregoing, canvassing of Roman Catholic’s in Scotland indicate in excess of 65% intend to vote, “Yes” to independence.
Devolution affords Scottish charities the opportunity to forge their own relationships with MSPs providing them with access to parliament in a way they have never had before. This freedom of access does not have the support of many UK, (London) controlled charities who are unwilling to cede power to their Scottish branches.
In 200* The Scottish ******** ******** charity management team, submitted a proposal, (to the UK umbrella organization) that the charity should be autonomous of England, including control of financial contributions made in Scotland. This was rejected leaving the Scottish management team and staff well and truly deflated. A significant number of people, (who had been volunteers actively supporting the charity) resigned and the Scottish management team were suspended. A number of key managers then left the charity.
An important patron of the charity, in Scotland, who, in addition to provision of moral and physical support, had provided significant financial donations resigned her position, citing distracting and demoralizing seemingly endless internal rows with the charity’s London office. Paraphrasing the statement of resignation the Patron said;
“I have not taken the decision to quit my position as patron lightly. In the last year the Scottish team and myself initiated and attended a mediation session, in the hope of sorting out long-standing and escalating conflicts between the Scottish management team and officers in London, driven by the imposition of changes and ever increasing control measures, from England. Unfortunately little was achieved. With mounting frustration and disappointment, I have been witness to the resignations of immensely dedicated people within the Scottish ******** ******** and the increasing demoralization of staff whom I have come to know and admire over the last ten years.”
The suspended, (shortly after ex-Chairman) of the charity in Scotland briefed staff that the patron might be persuaded to reconsider standing down if the charity cut its ties with London.
London based controllers instructed members of the charity in Scotland that a breakaway could result in a loss of £550,000 research grant finance. A postal ballot was then conducted, a majority of the 25% of the membership voted in favour of retaining the status quo, (Pity a 40% majority wasn’t written into the ballot.)
There is much to admire about the leadership of the Scottish charity and the strongly worded statement of the patron, who clearly fully supports independence from London as the best way forward for the charity.
Recent rumours that the Labour Party, unhappy with the performance of the, “no” campaign leader, “Flipper Darling” and his team would be unleashing some, “big Guns”, (to get things moving) proved to be correct, witnessed recent botched appearances and statements of Gordon Brown and by a helpful financial, “leg up” from Rowling. Aware of her political persuasion her financial donation is not surprising.
What is unfortunate is Rowling’s bear-baiting of a miniscule minority of pro-independence campaigners intimating they would discount her views because she was born and raised in England. She likened that stance to the obsession with pure wizard blood of the villainous characters in her magical saga. “When people try to make this debate about the purity of your lineage, things start getting a little Death Eaterish for my taste,” she wrote. Evidently the inflammatory words generated the response she indicated would be the case and the Press, ever happy to rubbish the, “Yes” voters are, “riding to her rescue”. Quite how this fits with the same press hounding Rowling for year’s defeats me.
Rowling provides extensive and recurring substantial financial, moral and physical support to a number of charities and institutions in Scotland. Her statement of values, “I think you have a moral responsibility when you’ve been given far more than you need, to do wise things with it and give intelligently” is to be applauded. In reference to her statement about support for the Union I am minded of her lapsed patronage of the Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland (MSSS) I well remember the difficulties that were manifest in that body’s relationship with London, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/rowling-quits-multiple-sclerosis-charity-over-angloscottish-feud-1666842.html. It is a great shame Rowling has decided to turn her face away from independence but I am sure, at the time the, “Yes” vote is successful she will be the first in line to provide support to the newly independent, Scottish labour Party.
Brown first thought of himself as being ‘Labour’ and his sense of social injustice was roused when he accompanied his father on visits around Kirkcaldy seeing the pain of unemployment and the misery of poverty and squalor as the mining and textile industries collapsed. Growing up he discovered Tawney, Tressell, Cole and other socialist texts which inspired him. He also found inspiration in Blake in poetry, Potter in drama, Lawrence in literature and the socialist leader James Maxton in Scottish history. These, he argues, fueled his passion and activism, reinforcing his own political experience. For Brown the ethical basis of British socialism has several themes: the view that individuals are not primarily self-centered but are co-operative, that people are more likely to thrive in communities in which they play a full role and that people have talents and potential that the free market will not allow them to fully realize. In addition, one of the most enduring of Brown’s themes is the commitment to equality.
Mindful of President Obama’s recent reference to the Special Relationship, I am minded of questions raised in congress some year’s ago
1. Why did the UK Parliament commit to Brussels, splitting away from the Atlantic Alliance, “The Special Relationship” giving up it’s National identity?
2. Why did the UK Parliament abandon it’s military commitments to Iraq midway through the war?
3. Why did the UK Parliament politic elite secretly open discussions, “excluding the USA” with the Taliban in Afghanistan?
4. Why did the UK Parliament further cede British sovereignty to Brussels? (Remember the non-existent referendum promised to the UK public)
5. Why did the UK Parliament fail to properly finance the military at the time of the Afganistan War? NOTE1
At the beginning of and for a substantial period of time after, the British public and press bitterly complained that British servicemen were being sent into combat, poorly trained, ill equipped and in open topped land rovers. Resultant of this, many British soldiers were unnecessarily killed and maimed by I.E.D.s. In contrast, the USA and other nations equipped, (at the start of the war) their servicemen, with protective personal armour and highly effective mine-resistant vehicles. Additionally, At the time of battlefield confrontation British servicemen failed to benefit from effective air support, helicopters, or protection from heavy mortars.
The highly respected, “EUreferendum” blog reasoned simply that the foregoing failures were attributed to, inadequate financial allocation and “jobsworths” in the Whitehall and Westminster bureaucracy. Finance is remitted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who at the time was Gordon Brown. Yes, the same Gordon Brown who, sacked from government and sidelined by the Labour Party has returned to Scotland with the message that we Scot’s are better together.
I think not Gordon, a substantial number of the young men and women maimed and killed in wars not supported by the people of Scotland were Scot’s. We cannot forget. Vote, “Yes” to independence.
Royal Mail says postal deliveries to remote areas under threat
Privatized company’s CEO calls for action from Ofcom to prevent undercutting from rivals threatening universal service obligation Royal Mail boss Moya Greene said: ‘Royal Mail is required to deliver six days a week, overnight, throughout the whole country, to stringent quality standards and at a uniform, affordable tariff.’ Royal Mail has warned that postal deliveries to rural areas are under threat because rivals are being allowed to cherry pick easy and profitable deliveries in towns and cities without having to run services to isolated homes such as on Scottish islands.
After the furore over its sell-off last year, which sparked accusations the soaring share price at the float had effectively lost the taxpayer £750m in a day, the company issued its warning on Thursday over the universal service obligation as it reported a 12% rise in operating profits to £671m. Moya Greene, Royal Mail’s chief executive, said rival TNT Post UK’s ability to pick off profitable routes in big cities was “striking at the economics of the universal service obligation” – its statutory duty to deliver to every address in the country, six days a week, at the same price. TNT Post UK has launched “final mile” delivery services in London, Manchester and Liverpool, and plans to deliver to up to 42% of addresses by 2017. Greene said Royal Mail subsidized expensive deliveries to rural areas from the profits it made from services in big cities, and any increased threat from rivals could cost it £200m in revenues by 2017.
“TNT Post UK can cherry pick easy-to-serve urban areas, delivering easy-to-handle post to homes less frequently than Royal Mail and to no defined quality standard,” she said. “Royal Mail is required to deliver six days a week, overnight, throughout the whole country, to stringent quality standards and at a uniform, affordable tariff. “Everyone should really sit up and take notice of what effect this cherry picking will have.”
Greene called for “timely regulatory action” from the regulator Ofcom to prevent undercutting from rivals threatening the universal service. The boss of TNT Post UK, Nick Wells, said Royal Mail should stop “whingeing”. He insisted his firm’s competition posed “absolutely no threat to the universal service”. “We are delivering choice for our customers, and that is good for the market overall, as well as creating jobs,” he said. “The regulator has repeatedly said there is no threat to the universal service. Royal Mail should stop this sabre-rattling. We have a small market share, there is absolutely no threat to the universal service.”
An Ofcom spokesman said: “We do not believe that there is presently a threat to the financial sustainability of the universal postal service. “We would expect Royal Mail to take appropriate steps to respond to the challenge posed by competition, including improving efficiency.” The regulator said it had a “duty to secure” the universal service and “powers to step in to protect it” if it came under threat. Ofcom is to review the universal service next year but is unlikely to recommend any changes. Royal Mail is committed to maintaining the universal service until at least 2021, and any change beforehand would have to be put to a vote in parliament. Canada Post, where Greene was chief executive until she joined Royal Mail in 2010, earlier this year announced plans to phase out some door-to-door deliveries.
Royal Mail’s strong profits – £671m before transformation costs on revenue up 2% to £9.46bn – reignited anger over the government’s controversial flotation of the 500-year-old postal operator last October. The shares, which floated at 330p, spiked 38% on their debut on the stock market on 11 October. It was the biggest one-day rise in a privatization since British Airways in 1987 and the shares went on to reach 618p. On Thursday they dropped 10% to 519p after the warning over the threat from competition.
Responding to the profit figures, Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary, said: “Ministers’ case for their Royal Mail fire sale has now been completely demolished. We know Royal Mail was profitable in the public sector, but David Cameron’s government privatized Royal Mail’s profits after making the taxpayer pick up the tab for its historic debts. “Taxpayers have been left short-changed by hundreds of millions of pounds at a time when families are being hit by a cost-of-living crisis, while the City investors the Tory-led government prioritised giving Royal Mail shares have been laughing all the way to the bank.”
Brian Scott of the Unite union, which represents 7,000 Royal Mail managers, said the strong financial results showed taxpayers had been “fleeced”. “Instead of these profits flowing into the Treasury’s coffers to pay for schools and nurses, it’s flowing into the pockets of shareholders, some of which enjoyed ‘mates rates’ when Royal Mail was sold off on the cheap,” he said.
Royal Mail’s revenue from letters dropped 2% to £4.63bn last year, but parcels increased 7% and now make up 51% of overall earnings due to the continued rise of internet shopping. However, Greene warned that Amazon’s creation of its own delivery service was knocking sales. She said Amazon’s delivery arm was capable of delivering 60m-70m parcels a day, compared with the 75m for Royal Mail’s Parcel-Force arm.
Royal Mail hopes to counter intense competition by making the company more customer friendly. It is opening 100 of its delivery offices on Sundays and will pilot Sunday deliveries within the M25 over the summer. It is also making it easier for customers to track parcels returned to the seller. Rupert Neate and Sean Farrell The Guardian.
Special Advisers are usually well educated University types with a political leaning. Tony Blair created the animal at the start of his tenure. Until that time such persons were remunerated by the MP that took them on. Blair changed the game and took all of them onto the books of the Civil Service. Projected recurring costs now £8million and rising. They are expected to discharge their duties observing the, “Civil Service Code of Conduct” but in practice they ignore it.
Blair McDougall is the, “No” Campaign Director. A Labour Party activist he was recruited, towards the start of the Labour Governments tenure, (under the leadership of Tony Blair) to a previously non-existent post, (one of many) of, “Special Adviser” within the civil service. Notwithstanding his role was a political appointment, “his salary and operational costs and expenses” were paid by the Taxpayer. In fulfilling his strategic role he acted as special adviser to;
1. Ian (now Lord) McCartney. (2004-2007) Held a number of ministerial portfolios within Labour governments. Allegation lodged that Blair McDougall had devoted time to his manager’s failed challenge for the post of Deputy Leader of the labour Party, (conduct expressly forbidden under the Civil Service code) see;
2. James Purnell. (2007-2008) Rising star within the party. Resigned from Government 2009. Stood down from Westminster in 2010.
a. Appointed, “Special Adviser” to the, “Public Sector Group” of the, “Boston Consulting Group”, (worldwide policy advisory organization).
b. Appointed Chair of the, (left leaning) think tank, The Institute for Public Policy Research, (IPPR).
c. Appointed, (2013) Director of Strategy & Digital, at the BBC, a very influential post. Resigned membership of the Labour Party and any other political posts, for the duration of his employment. It is possible he might return to mainstream politics in 2015. See;
3. Organized and directed David Miliband’s failed campaign for leadership of the Labour party.
4. Sent to Scotland to head the, “no” campaign.
1. Recurring costs to the taxpayer for the, “Special Advisers” group of political appointments approximately £8million annually.
2. Former, “Special Advisers” subsequently elected to parliament, Ed Balls, James Purnell, Ed Miliband, David Miliband & possibly the most famous of them all the former Director of Communications and Strategy, (for Tony Blair) Alastair Campbell.
3. Many others have also gone on to accept influential highly paid posts in the private sector.
4. The secret of the expanding, “Special Adviser” group is networking. Though their employment may be spread across a wide variety of political and business activities, (within the UK and worldwide) they work hard maintaining contact and influence within the group so that their future may be guaranteed.
5. The Scottish electorate needs to be alerted to the growth of the, “Special Adviser” group. Vote, “Yes” to independence, thwart the efforts of, “Special Adviser”, Blair McDougall and other, “carpetbaggers”.
Better Together team games for student members
Blair McDougall: “Right then, this is a new game designed to test your reasoning ability. If I name a fruit, run to the right wall of the office and if I name a colour, run to the left wall of the office, understood?