Today's Sunday Post column in full
Vicky Pryce and Chris Huhne – what are they like? Unless you've been on another planet you'll know all the trials and tribulations of the disgraced, speeding politician and his estranged, "points-accepting" wife. The latest instalment was played out in court last week, when Vicky's jury was dismissed for asking questions so daft they undermined the whole concept of jury trial. On BBC Question Time, right-wing columnist Peter Hitchens suggested it was time to show "ordinary folk" the door and introduce an intelligence test for jurors instead.
Actually, the strongest arguments against that are Vicky and Chris themselves. She got a BSc in Economics and an MSc in Monetary Economics at the London School of Economics before becoming Chief Economist at Williams and Glyn's Bank, KPMG and Exxon and the first woman ever appointed as Chief Economic Adviser to the Government. He was educated at posh Westminster School, the Sorbonne in Paris and got a first at Oxford University before becoming a City entrepreneur, a financial journalist and finally an MP. The former husband and wife have four degrees … and yet not one single ounce of common sense between them. If any couple proves education isn't enough to guarantee good judgement – it's Vicky and Chris. A jury full of such "clever" folk … well it doesn't even bear thinking about. As my mother who left school at 15 might say "they don't have the sense they were born with." Correct.
Now admittedly the jury's questions to the judge were bizarre. What is reasonable doubt? Um -- doubt that is reasonable. Can we come to a decision based on no evidence? Er--- no. But then the legal language itself was clear as mud. What is "marital coercion?" For a Kung Fu movie generation it probably sounds like a martial art – or worse. The jury was "discharged" last week – a term most folk associate with health problems (to put it politely).
Between the constitutional debates being largely male, graduates being ‘too posh to stack’ and councils being cheap; this week’s Lesley Riddoch podcast is on the look out for heroes. The villains seem easier to find.
During the course of the podcast, we think we may have found some top people. Step forward, Cait Reilly, Stephen Jardine and Mike Small. Cait for her spirited legal action. Stephen for his always insightful journalism about food plus calling for a 'National Food Manifesto' and Mike for the Fife Diet.
How all male line-ups, an un-inclusive process, conviction politics & a technical focus are switching Scotswomen off the independence debate while Iceland, Ireland and Norway lead the way in using quotas and "people's assemblies" to put non-politicians and women in the political driving seat. Today's Scotsman column is here.
Nordic Horizons event co-hosted by Europa Institute, Edinburgh University
Venue David Hume Tower - Lecture Theatre A March 4th 6-8pm
Norway is a member of NATO, Finland is not. Does that single fact produce radically different thinking about peace and security in the two Nordic nations? Or does more unite these neighbours who are both members of the Arctic Council and other alliances, both reject nuclear weapons in their waters and share outlooks on neutrality and the importance of non-military peaceful activity. Both countries were shaped by the trauma of occupation and military defeat during World War 2 – what is the right size and purpose for their forces today? Defence policy in an independent Scotland was a controversial and divisive issue during 2012. Can the defence strategies of these Nordic nations usefully inform Scottish and UK debate? How does the international relations community regard the possibility of an independent Scotland?
Today's Sunday Post column in full
Three cheers for Cait Reilly. The 24 year-old Birmingham lass finished a geology degree last summer but couldn't find a paid job. Instead of lounging around at home, she got up, got out and found herself voluntary work at a local museum where she hoped to build a career using her science skills. So far, so good.But then the government stepped in to "help." Cait could either "volunteer" for work experience -- 30 hours a week unpaid labour at Poundland -- or lose her weekly £53.45 Job Seekers Allowance. Nice. Cait stuck Poundland for two weeks before calling time, getting legal advice and taking her case to court. Never mind David and Goliath. Cait took on the full might of David Cameron's government – and won. Speaking outside the court she said; "I don't think I'm above working in shops. I now work part-time in a supermarket. It is just that I expect to get paid for working. If government (workfare) schemes helped young people into jobs they wouldn't have to force us to attend." Quite.
In this week’s @lesleyriddoch podcast, it ‘s all about things working or not. Electric cars are a case in point. The Scottish Government have announced plans to encourage the take up of EV ( Electric Vehicles ) and these plans have raised a number of questions. You’d think Lesley would be in the target market; so what does she think? The Pope is packing it in and gets a mention.
In the politics section, there have been some revelations about what happens after the referendum. The words ‘Game Over’ have been used. We try and understand what that could possibly mean.Finally, after an entertaining and enlightening time with the Falkland Centre for Stewardship, Lesley talks about the community ethos. WARNING: does contain favourable mention of Creative Scotland.
Today's Sunday Post column in full
You know the sound. The clanking sound that says your 12 year old car has yet another mechanical fault. You know the face. The "not again" face on your old man when yet another front light bulb mysteriously bursts for no reason. And you know the motor – well nothing else in any car park has quite that much rust. Life is trying to say something – get a new car. Yet until today, I've been resisting the call. Changing cars every few years has always seemed like dumping a best friend cos her hair's turned grey-- a bit callous and very wasteful. The value of used cars is so low, why go through more than you need in a lifetime? Besides, getting all those old CDs out from under the back seat -- it's just seemed easier to soldier on. Until I saw this ad; "Drive 10,000 miles a year for £186 with an electric car." That's quite a headline -- so where's the catch?
This week’s @lesleyriddoch podcast is the one where we mention Borgen for the last time, for a while or at least until series 3 starts. We all went along to see Sidse Babett Knudsen at the Filmhouse on Sunday after the Monday Scotsman column had been filed. It was a fascinating Q&A session. But what does it mean?
Equally, after an interesting TV discussion about ‘Bedroom Tax’; we ponder what the Scottish Government could do ; especially in the light of Mike Dailly’s petition. Just when you might think this is new ‘news’; Lesley recalls a ‘Comment Is Free’ piece ; “How will social housing survive Tory cuts?” from June 2010. The CIH Scotland document Chris refers to is "Preparing for the Bedroom Tax and Beyond" - technical but still readable. This issue will run and run...we may return to it.
Finally, notwithstanding twists, turns and texts, there’s been a resignation. Really. It’s all go this week.
The Danish Ambassador said the "Borgen Bun" has replaced the "Lund Jumper" as the new Danish "must-have" before the final screening of Borgen at the Edinburgh Filmhouse yesterday. But how much do we want the ultimate Nordic accessory - a fairer society? And do we need more strong women or more "new men" do get there? Today's Scotsman column -- http://www.scotsman.com/news/arts/lesley-riddoch-borgen-sets-tone-for-equality-1-2774084