I’m not surprised at all.

So the High Street May be struggling even more than initially though , I’m not surprised at all.

I rarely go into town now, it’s just not an enjoyable experience in Dundee at all. Given the amount of empty shops I suspect it isn’t for many others. This Guardian article is interesting in some ways while missing the point in others.

I totally accept that people have less money to spend, I know I do but it’s not just that. Going into town in Dundee is not enjoyable. Parking is not cheap, but neither is public transport, so you take the car. The Wellgate Centre in Dundee, once an important shopping must in the 80s, is now an empty shell with mostly cheap charity shops, stalls, pound shops and a couple of brand shops like Iceland and New Look. It looks crap and is cumbersome to get around. I avoid it now as much as I can and to be honest it has had its day and probably just needs demolished.

Shops are so desperate for a sale that you barely get 30 seconds before someone asks if you want any help, it’s intrusive and certainly puts me off a shop. I just want peace to look around but more often than not I just leave. There is also the fact that too many chain stores make the experience uninteresting and clothes in particular are so standard that you can’t get your size if you a wee bit short like me.

The simple reality is shopping online is cheaper and more convenient overall, esp for someone like me who doesn’t really enjoy shopping anyway. I don’t think the high street can be saved to be honest but they could start by making parking easier or cheaper. Or make public transport affordable. They could start by having smaller chain stores and more independents with prices that are more affordable. They can make an effort, in Dundee anyway, to brighten up the area. The V and A when it opens will be good but what will people think when they walk five minutes into the City and see nothing much of interest.

There are no easy answers and it is sad that our Cities are becoming Ghost towns but that’s the fault of the Councils, the stores, the prices and the blandness.

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This Pish Has To End

Saw an interesting story on Twitter this weekend that just makes you take a very deep breath and sigh.

This pish really has to end. Sometimes it’s easy to think that Scotland is different, that we’re better,and certainly less right wing or as challenged as certain people in other parts of the U.K. but sadly we have our knuckle draggers in Scotland also.

Two students were invited into a talk in the Crawford Hall in Partick after taking photographs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry, an organisation with links to those other bastions of rational thought the Orange Order. The students then filmed some of the speeches of members aspiring to shoot Catholics. They then had demands to hand over their equipment, were threatened and intimidated to the extent that they were barred from leaving and had to call Police Scotland who remained on the phone with them until they were able to leave the building.

This is the horrible part of Scotland that raises its ugly head every year and we saw some of it the day after the referendum.

These are the people who associate with Nazi salutes, would vote for the DUP if they could and follow one of two Football Clubs in Glasgow who should be hammered every time this shit rears it’s ugly head at a match.

It turns out one the people making the speeches was in fact a Tory Councillor, there’s a surprise.

Now I know I am generalising in some ways and not everyone involved with these organisations will be a raving bigot but the organisation itself belongs in history. We can’t move forward as long as this rubbish continues to have the opportunity to infect the next generation.

I have noted before about state funded Catholic Schools, that’s where we start, stop funding religious schools from the public purse, I object to that as much I do people like the Apprentice Boys of Derry. I object to clowns like James Kelly, Labour MSP, and all the MSPs who voted to remove the Offensive Behaviour at Football Matches legislation. You are all part of the problem.

It’s so sad that we still have a long long way to go.

Something Different: Bread

I love bread, I pretty much live on bread, I used to make own bread, I have bread everyday and even have a bit of a bread belly. Why is bread so addictive? Anyway I thought I would write a wee blog on the ones I like, and don’t really like, and if anyone has suggestions to try please let me know.

I’ll start off with one that while I was annoyed by their £25,000 donation to Bitter Together in 2014 I do like their white.

While there is an argument about wither white bread is good or bad for you this one is a bit of a soft fluffy delight when you are in the mood for bread. Many of you will boycott them, and I totally understand that, but my addiction does get the better of me from time to time.

Here’s a classic that I have started to buy again and both myself and my kids are loving it, as a kid it was really the only bread we ever had in our house and I remember my Mum saying it was good for you, certainly the nutritional information leans towards it being one of the better ones. The heely being something that is sought after in the house it’s fair to say also.

One that I get occasionally from Tesco as I like it for toast is the Tesco Danish White.

Not too expensive, and definitely better toasted, it has a good taste and is very light overall.

Here is one that I don’t like at all and tends to go off too quickly in my opinion is the Kingsmill White.

I find it very heavy, not as heavy the Mothers Pride Plain of course, but heavy all the same and very bland.

One that my youngest son will only eat, and my other kids and wife like also, but one that I really don’t as I just don’t like brown bread is the Kingsmill Wholemeal,

If I have this for a sandwich, which I sometimes do, I find the flavour just too strong even though I have a very poor sense of taste due to when I smoked, my sense of taste never really recovered. But anyway I just don’t really like it at all but I know that it is very popular and many people swear by wholemeal all the time. I’ll have it if I have to but never a choice if there is an alternative.

Another that I get off and on if I it is see it is the Hovis Granary.

It’s a thick bread, another good for toast and a sandwich, and being heavy it fills you up and has a decent taste.

A Hovis bread however that I don’t like is the Hovis White.

I just don’t like it at all, not a great taste, and goes off quickly as well. I have been desperate and had to get it but to be honest most of it ends up in the food recycle bin half the time.

I’m going to finish with one that I like, but only now and again, the family love it though, and it is a nice bread. The Iceland Tiger Bloomer.

Nice taste if somewhat too thick sometimes depending on the mood, good toasted with a bit of butter.

So there you have it, a wee bit of blogging about bread. Some of them a heart attack waiting to happen, esp if there is bacon and egg between slices, but bread really is my guilty pleasure. You all thought it was Culture Club didn’t you.

Is it just me?

Is it just me or do many agree that Gerry Hassan is getting a little boring, like much of the policy thinking left if we can call them that.

Gerry in his latest article is trying to show that the SNP and Labour are basically the same and accepts that it will upset both SNP and Scottish Labour voters/members. Doesn’t really upset me, it just bores me to death now.

Gerry talks of a once radical party in touch with the voters, embodying social justice, and that was the Labour Party in Scotland but it became part of the establishment and out of touch. Scottish Labour have always been part of the establishment and out of touch as far as anyone still alive is concerned, it was just that many of us were never allowed to understand that due to the fact that the media had, and still do have, a soft touch approach to Scottish Labour.

Gerry also seems to think there has been a Corbyn factor in Scotland and that this has changed our political dynamics, really, when did that happen? According to Gerry the SNP sit firmly in the centre ground now, they pretty much always have to my mind while Gerry notes that Scottish Labour are of the left. I think Gerry might be living in the Bella Caledonia bit of Scotland because Labour are no more left than the Tories are nationally in so many ways. Scottish Labour is a branch office , plus actions and policy speak volumes with Labour being for many Red Tories and Tory enablers as far as I am concerned. Gerry does give the SNP some credit but argues for all its money and members it does not have a party machine or an interest in policy. It’s achievements are only populist and opportunist.

Gerry is arguing that the SNP have become the new establishment, but accepts that they are the most popular party in Scotland while urging that the SNP need to remember what happened to Scottish Labour.

The article is worth a read in that it highlights the futility of these discussions now. Maybe someone as intelligent as Gerry Hassan should spend as much time on why we have no decent opposition in Scotland, why Scotland is let down very badly by a Westminster that basically does what it wants and a devolution settlement that stops Scottish aspiration and keeps Scotland well and truly in its box. Maybe Gerry should talk about the achievements of the SNP in Government which are more than any other party since the start of the devolution process.

I am getting bored with the so called intelligent left in Scotland, we need Scottish intellectuals of that I am convinced but maybe they need to actually get on board rather than the subtle undercurrent of what feels like support for the status quo.

Inept, Useless, Vacuous, Pointless – That’s the Labour Party

I was looking at some of the more recent YouGov Polls and I just can’t for the life of me understand how Labour can be behind the Conservatives in the polls:

The worst Tory Government ever, even worse than Thatcher, are leading Labour in the polls. You then look at who would make the best Prime Minister, ok I accept the choice either way is a bit dire but all the same:

Allegedly Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t put much stock in the polls, fair enough, but they do give at the very least an indication and if I were Labour I would be very worried, we all should be. The fact that this right wing, poor hating, useless Tory Government would maybe win the next election tells me that English voters are losing the plot and the Labour Party are really really shit.

Obviously the voting system doesn’t help as the Tories or Labour Tories only really need to target the marginal seats in England (what England wants the UK gets, just the way No voters like it) to decide the Government of the whole of the United Kingdom, Westminster democracy the envy of the World, Saudi Arabia is more democratic FFS. However, I digressed as you do when you’re crap at blogging lol. Labour really are useless, like Scottish Labour, they don’t seem to have a clear policy on anything. They are too afraid to say much on Brexit for upsetting their right wing members in the North and their Liberal Green members in the South. I don’t really know where they stand on anything else really other than NO to another referendum in Scotland while being all for Irish unification but there is no contradiction there apparently.

Labour need to embrace at the very least federalism for the UK as long as the UK still exists. Labour need to grow a pair on issues of taxation, defence, head of state, and renationalisation rather than just kiss the same arses the Tories do but are less effective at it, but then the Red Tories are less effective at most things. Sorry for another Labour blog put please anyone considering voting for this joke of a party in any future election need to have a serious think and a lay down. Until we are actually independent every voter that despises the Tories of all colours, certainly in Scotland, needs to be voting for the SNP.

Waiting for the Bang

January and February are two months I usually look forward to in one simply way, I don’t pay Council Tax for those months as it’s worked out over 10 monthly payments. It’s nearing that time again, that bulky demand will fall through the letterbox within the next month or so, it will have some information in it on how Dundee City Council are going to spend our money, and this year I am expecting the rise.

Previously there was a Council Tax Freeze which came into effect in 2008 and lasted until last year when a partial lift took place in that people living in the four highest bands saw their bills rise while those in the lowest saw theirs continue to remain the same. I suspect that will all change this year, I would be surprised if Dundee City Council don’t raise Council Tax by the full 3% which will take my bill to around 206.00 per month if my arithmetic is correct plus water costs.

Now I actually think that Dundee City Council do a decent job overall, it is also one of the largest employers in one of the poorest cities in Scotland, major reduction in council budgets could have an effect on jobs which then has an effect on the wider economy of the city. Any effect that results in job loses in a City such as Dundee is devastating but that doesn’t mean that Council Tax is painless, it isn’t.

During the Indyref 2014 there was much talk of reforming Council Tax but that has fallen off the agenda in recent times but I think that it needs to be back on the agenda. The two ideas that I remember were a local income tax or a local land value tax. A local income tax system of taxation is based on a household’s income and an idea that was very popular for a while but the SNP appear to have moved away from that model and I suspect that in places like Dundee it would just not work. Land value tax is levy on the unimproved value of land, there appears to be a lot of favor for this type of tax and some view it as the perfect tax, Adam Smith certainly did. The advantages are that it is a more natural source of local income, less bureaucratic, there can be no avoidance or evasion and less open to abuse such as charging more on land that is less valuable.

We have all seen the pressures on local Councils since certainly 2010. Dundee City Council alone have lost around 1200 staff in that time with the various knock on effects to local service delivery. The SNP argue that the Scottish Government have around 9.2% less to spend now, of course it is complicated and you can play with the figures, as Murdo Fraser does, to show a cash increase. Whatever way they want to play with the figures a debate is needing to be had on how we fund local services. How can it be fair that someone living in say a Band D property with one wage coming in pays the same as a household with 3 times the salary coming in, we can argue all day about how much services each family use but that is not going to solve the problem.

Council Tax is unfair and has had its day, the Poll tax was bad enough and now Council Tax is in the same bracket. This is a debate that we need to be having and we need to be having it now, I am not for taxing people more just because they are wealthier, but I am for a fair and honest local taxation system that we all contribute to based as best possible on our ability to pay.

Tories make me want to puke

So Windsor Tory Council are at it again.

Any homeless people in Windsor around the time of the minor Windsor’s wedding will be fined £100 if they dare show their face in the Windsor area. Maybe they could just go back to public hanging as the entertainment for the reception like in the good old days for the so called Royals. Andrew Marr could make sure there is a good bunch of Scots in the line up.

Windsor Council have even fitted special safety belts for the homeless on their benches, just so they can’t lay down and pull a muscle when they get up too quickly to run away from the warden with the £100 fine.

Don’t the caring Tories and the so called royals give you the boke, they do me. There are no bigger stains on the public purse than the Windsor family, all 643 of them and Tories. Windsor’s get tax payers money for nothing, and the Tories steal tax payers money and give it to rich people who do nothing but ask for more.

The U.K. is a disgusting shit hole of a place and yet there will be many in Scotland who will watch that pish, there will be Rangers fans sending gifts from B and M and the BBC will give the world 24 hour coverage on every media platform they have.

And people wonder why I am a grumpy b******.