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Better Together

NoAs both sides of the political debate continue to argue the pros and cons of an independent Scotland, the following words, written by a gentleman by the name of James Craig, couldn’t have put it more succinctly in favour of the No Campaign, helping those undecided voters to reach an informed decision on the 18th September. He says:-

“You currently jointly own a flat with your friend. You’re a bit fed up of him being stingy with the heating and the interior décor isn’t quite to your tastes. He can be annoying sometimes but overall, you pay your fair share and actually have a pretty good deal (because he pays for Sky Sports). You’ve had the ability to redecorate your bedroom for quite a while and your pal is also happy for you to repaint the living room in the future. Oh, and you’ve lived there for about 400 years.

Someone offers you the opportunity to purchase your own property to allow you full control of the interior design. They insist that you make your decision right now as there won’t be another opportunity to do so again. You must base your decision on the following info:

• You’re not sure what this house looks like (nor does the vendor), but a rough description has been given. It may or may not have windows and access to and from the property is uncertain.
• You’ve no idea how much the house costs, but you are told that regardless it is almost certainly a good investment.
• The housing market crashed a while back and the outlook remains uncertain and increasingly volatile.
• You’ve no idea what your mortgage terms are going to be or if you can afford even the smallest monthly payments, because you are already trillions of pounds in debt. You are assured that this is a minor detail because you can screw your pal over and transfer all of the debt to him if needs be.
• There is a rumour that the house has got a pot of money buried in the back garden. You aren’t sure how much is there, but a few people are absolutely certain that regardless of how much the house costs there will be enough there to pay the mortgage with.
• In buying this house, you’ll lose your Costco card that you share with your current flat mate. You’ve been assured that it will be easy to get one for yourself even though Costco is over-subscribed and with stringent entry conditions that you’re not sure you meet.
• You are repeatedly reminded that your Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather once fended off a burglar from his house with a stick when he lived in Bannockburn and that this is a good reason to buy your own house. The house you are being offered currently has a burglar alarm but this must be uninstalled when you move in even though it is in high crime-rate area.

Finally, your 16-year-old cousin that you’re a bit wary of has been allowed to have a say in your decision.

Would you go ahead and move out of your flat?”

Pretty persuasive argument don’t you think?

Right now I’m staying put and just hoping for a clear majority to save the Union so that we can all just get back to normal and carry on ….. fingers crossed!!!

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Will Biden keep the Veep?

It is said that you learn something new every day and today I have learned that the shortened form of VP (Vice President) of the United States is “Veep”.

The forthcoming elections see Paul Ryan for the Republicans and Joe Biden for the Democrats fighting it out for the title and they are about to go head to head in a live TV debate later today.   Joe Biden is already the Vice President, having held this office since 2009, while Paul Ryan is the Republican Congressman for Wisconsin.

As is always the case in politics, it is easy to find stories that will discredit the individuals and make us doubt their integrity.  For instance, Paul Ryan once said he’d run a marathon in under three hours – but later admitted it was more likely four, while Joe Biden pulled out of the presidential nomination race in 1987 after allegations that he’d plagiarised part of a speech by the then Labour Leader, Neil Kinnock.

But what exactly is a Veep and do they matter?

Well they are expected to take over if the president is no longer able to govern – hence the phrase “only a heartbeat away from the presidency”.   This has happened 14 times in total, including when JFK was assassinated and when Richard Nixon resigned. They preside over the Senate and cast a deciding vote.   In the 1930’s, Vice-President John Nance Garner described the role as “not worth a bucket of warm spit”, but many vice-presidents now take on important portfolios and act as a “sounding-board” for the president.

Perhaps more attractive is the opportunity it can present.  The VP office often serves as a springboard to a later presidential bid – George Bush Senior, and Al Gore were both VPs first.

The Trams Fiasco

After working in Edinburgh for several years, I don’t now have the need to go there very regularly.  On Friday night, however, I was meeting a friend for dinner and once again I was shocked at the devastation that has been caused by the ongoing saga of the Edinburgh Trams!

A potted history for those not in the know:

In 2007 when the SNP government took over from Labour/LibDems, there were a few outstanding matters which demanded attention.   One in particular was the demand from the Unionist parties for a tram system in Edinburgh.  Or perhaps that should read a tram rail because the proposal was for one tram line only serving a very small part of Edinburgh.  The vote regarding the Edinburgh trams was outdone by the Unionists and at that point John Swinney said the (SNP) Scottish government would give £550million to the project and not a penny more.

Having originally been scheduled to be up and running by February 2011 the projected completion date is now sometime in 2014.  The whole project has been a disaster for Edinburgh.  The streets are still in “dug up” progress and have been for several years.  Edinburgh looks like a war zone and it’s such a shame because it was once a very attractive city. 

For the record, most people are against the trams because the capital city had a bus service which surpassed any other city and did not deserve to be usurped by a tram system which would not provide a service to 90% of the Edinburgh population.

If the trams are ever up and running, it is proposed that the service will operate every 10 minutes with a journey time claimed of “approximately 20 minutes from Haymarket to the Airport”, with service from 06:00 to midnight Monday to Saturday (07:00 start on Sunday).

Currently the Airlink bus services the Princes St to Airport route.  Departures are every 10 minutes between 7am and 12:40 am.  A 24 hr service operates, departing at 15 and 30 minute intervals before and after this main period respectively.   Journey times are 30 minutes from Waverley railway station (about 10 minutes East of Haymarket) to the Airport.

Bearing in mind the aforementioned figure of £550million, it begs the question – who did the original cost/benefit analysis?

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