I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Monday, February 16, 2015


I guess the picture above clearly demonstrates my inferior IT skills! Anyway. At least the headline is readable. The article is from our local paper and it is typical of the extraordinary amount of press attention I received over the days that followed the Right Honourable David Mundell MP basically calling me a liar. Over a week has now passed and I suppose it is clear that David will not be accepting our invitation to come along to First Base to serve some food parcels. It also seem unlikely that he is about to heed the advice of Joan McAlpine MSP and offer some kind of public apology.

I can happily live without an apology. Sticks and stones and all that. I am rather more miffed that he has bottled the opportunity to come along and meet a few of the victims of his Government’s Welfare Reforms face to face.

A couple of the journalists who called me said that they had tried and tried to get David on the line for some kind of comment without any success whatsoever. His way of responding to making a complete berk of himself was to bury his head as far down in the sand as it would go.

This got me thinking. What other profession would allow anyone to get away with acting in this way.

Maybe the best thing to do is to spin things around here. This year First Base is receiving funding from the local Council to support our food parcel work. As far as I know everyone is happy enough with the bang we are giving them for their stretched buck. But for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that they are not happy at all.

So here’s a scenario.

The Council awards First Base some cash to serve emergency food to local folk who have nothing to eat. But the word on the street is that things are not going to plan. First Base have promised that anyone who issued with a food parcel will have enough grub for three meals a day for half a week. That is what it said on the tin First Base showed to the Council in order to get the cash. However it doesn’t seem like things are working out that way in practice. There are reports that people are turning up with referrals only to be told that there is no food to be had. Some people are being given a miserable bag containing nothing more than a tin of beans and a bag of dried lentils. There are tales of mouldy bread and rancid butter.

Basically, people are not remotely happy. First Base have promised to give hungry people some decent grub and in practice they are failing to do so.

So. What next? Well the Councillors obviously aren’t happy. They write to First Base and insist that the manager attend a public meeting to answer questions. What have you done with all the money? How come you are still getting paid but there is no money for emergency food?

Fair questions, right?

And one of the Labour councillors is particularly forensic in his line of questions. And I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.

And so I snap back at him and say that the only reason he is saying any of this is that he was high profile local member of the Better Together campaign.

Such an ill considered and stupid answer to fully justifiable questions would have played out the same as David’s response played out.

Then what?

Well the Management Committee who govern First Base would go ballistic. Would I get fired? I reckon I might well be. I reckon I would deserve to get fired. My job after all is to represent the charity and I would have failed utterly in that regard. If I managed to escape the axe, I would be required to offer a full and unreserved apology to the councillor in question for questioning his integrity in such an unacceptable way. Then I would be required to write a press release confirming the fact that I had been wrong to say what I had said and that I am sorry for saying it. Very sorry.

The more I think of it, I cannot imagine keeping my job if I were to behave like that. And you know what? I wouldn’t deserve to keep it.

Is this a fair comparison?

I think it is. First Base is provided with Tax Payer’s money to provide half a week’s worth of food to people who have nothing to eat. If in practice our shelves are empty and people are turned away and left to go hungry, then we would have some pretty serious questions to answer and as the Project Manager it would be my job to face the music.

David’s government has taken hundreds and hundreds of millions of pounds worth of tax payer’s money and spent it on their Welfare Reform programme. Their justification for spending so much of our cash on this venture has been twofold. On the one hand, they have promised this kind of Victorian tough love will give the poor and the needy the kind of leg up they need. Well, the fact that millions of Brits have needed to visit the likes of First Base in order to eat suggests that they have failed utterly in this regard. On the other hand, they have insisted that the harshness of their Welfare Reforms has been a vital part of their heroic efforts to get the National Debt under control. Well that hasn’t exactly worked, has it guys? The debt has more or less doubled on your watch and for a while the only you could sell Government bonds was to print money and buy them yourselves.

Anyone with half a brain can see that the Welfare Reforms have been a cruel and brutal fiasco which have cost us all a fortune. The Scottish Parliament has every right to be pissed off at this. After all we are footing more than our share of the bills and The Westminster Government has put all of our natural resources up as security to the hard boys who run the money markets.

So is it right that the only Tory MP in Scotland is summoned to account for what his government has done with all our money? You bet it is.

Just like it would be only right and proper for me to be summoned to appear before local councillors to be asked where all their cash had gone.

But here is where the differences start to emerge. Were I to attend such a summons, I would be expected to behave in a professional and courteous manner. Were I to fail in this regard, I would have some very serious questions to answer from my bosses and I am pretty sure that I would lose my job.

David on the other hand obviously lives in a completely different world. For a start he is paid a bloody site more than I get paid. His response to making a fool of both himself and his employers was to hide in his bedroom like some kind of sulking teenager.

Hide, hide, hide.

And if you hide away for long enough it will hopefully all go away. Well of course it is nice to hide away when the going gets tough. The difference is that there are very, very few professions where you get away with choosing to run away when faced with a difficult situation.

And yet politicians seem to think it is OK to do it all the time. It is ridiculous that the standards of behaviour that are expected of the rest of us as an absolute minimum don’t count a jot for then.

Can you think of any other job where you get paid £65,000 a year to behave like they behave at Prime Minister’s Questions? Can you ever remember behaving like that when you were at school without being sent to the headmaster to face the music? I seem to recall my teachers taking a pretty hard line on any of us who succumbed to the temptation to make loud farmyard noises in class. Loud farmyard noses in the classroom at 12 years old is a big no. Loud farmyard noises on the floor of the House of Commons at fifty something years old is fine and dandy.

How are your farmyard noises, David? Can you moo and bray with best of them?

We elect these people and pay them handsomely to lead us. To provide leadership.

We don’t cough up £65,000 a year and a copper bottomed pension for you to hide in your bedrooms the moment the going gets a bit tough.

In the same week that David made a such pratt of himself and locked his bedroom door, his colleague Nicky Morgan the Education Secretary managed to cover herself in similar glory. She appeared in front of the media with a beaming ‘vote for me’ smile and proudly announced that her government would make sure that every 11 year old in England will be able to do their 12 times table by the time they leave primary school.
Just so long as we all vote Tory in May.

So OK.

You’re the Education Secretary – salary £145,492 plus expenses.

You have a whole department of civil servants at your beck and call.

You have a whole bunch of super smart young things with starred first degrees from Oxford falling over each other to prove how completely super they are in order to be awarded the chanced of a safe seat in leafy Surrey.

So you’ve got all kinds of highly paid, high fliers all around you.

And here’s the thing.

You are going to go out and do a Press Conference to announce all 11 year old will be expected to be able to do their 12 times table.

Who will be at the Press Conference, Nicky?


And what are journalists like, Nicky?

Cynical. Hard bitten. Bastards.

And do journalist take every opportunity to trip up smug politicians and make them look like idiots, Nicky?

Of course they do! BASTARDS!!!

So what do you think they are about to do when you make your big announcement, Nicky?

They are going ask me what 11 x 12 is.

Dead right they are, Nicky. So what’s the smart play here, Nicky?

Mug up on my 12 times table.

Bang on, Nicky. Mug up on your 12 times table.

So did Nicky mug up on her 12 times table?

Dream on. Instead she had a good laugh about the fact that she was refusing to do 11 x 12. And quite right too! It is fair enough to give an 11 year old a hard tome for not knowing the answer to 11 x 12. Of course it is. The little shit IS 11 when all is said and done.

But if anyone seriously expects her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Education on £145,492 per annum plus expenses to be able to answer 11 x 12, then they are clearly being completely unreasonable.

Nicky batted the demands for mental arithmetic away with grinning aplomb and moved on to her next ground breaking announcement.

It was a big one.

A huge one that must have had the bastard journalists drop jawed. It was massive and bold and ambitious and no wonder Nicky was grinning so very widely.

Vote Tory in the next election and this is what we’ll do for you.

We are going to make schools in England truly world class.

We commit that schools in England will enter the top five countries in the world when it comes to …..

Wait for it…..

Oh you really, really need to wait for it…..


You really couldn’t bloody well make it up.


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