Monday, 19 September 2011




A reply has been received from a (UK) Government Department to an enquiry sent to Prime Minister David Cameron by a four year old girl from Cornwall.

The enquiry from four year old Olwen was sent to the Prime Minister earlier this month by her father, who asked Mr Cameron if he could explain to his daughter why there were so many people in the area of Cornwall where they lived who were living below the poverty line and struggling to feed themselves. Olwen's enquiry was referred to the (UK) Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to deal with in what is perhaps indicative of the way that some political leaders attempt to brush off genuine concern expressed by the public, even if it is an innocent question from a young child about her local community.

Rather than allay the fears expressed by Olwen in a human way, the DWP opted for bland rhetoric and Government strategies, which will have little meaning for a 4 year old who does not want to see pregnant women having to go to a food bank for handouts to survive.

The full text of the letter is set out below.

"Department for Work and Pensions

16 Septemeber 2011

Dear Mr/s Tal-e-bot

Thank you for your recent correspondence about child poverty, which you wrote on behalf of your daughter. As an official working in the Child Poverty Unit your correspondence has been referred to me for reply. Government Ministers receive a large volume of correspondence and they are unable to respond personally on every occasion. As your letter falls within the remit of this Department, we have been asked to respond.

The Government shares your and your daughter's frustration at children living in poveryy and agrees that it is simply unacceptable that, in one of the most developed countries in the world, children have their lives blighted by deprivation.

The Government is firmly committed to eradicating child poverty and published its strategy to tackle it on 5 April this year: `A New Approach to Child Poverty: Tackling the Cause of Disadvantage and Transforming Lives', which is available online at: uk/childpovertys trategy.

The strategy underpins the Government's ambition for every child to realise their potential and reflects its belief that reducing poverty is about more than lifting families income above an arbitrary line. It demonstrates that the Government is making a sustained, long term attempt to lift people out of not only income poverty, but poverty of aspiration and poverty of outcomes. At its heart are the principles of work, fairness, responsibility and support for the most vulnerable.

The child poverty strategy sets out how the government will tackle the causes of poverty such as worklessness, educational failure, debt, poor health and family breakdown, thereby raising the life chances of poorer children and breaking the cycle of entrenched intergenerational poverty.

The Government recognises that the most sustainable way to reduce child poverty is through parents working. This is why the Government's Welfare Reform programme will remove disincentives to work from within the tax and benefits system so that those parents who opt for work are rewarded. It will ensure that parents who are currently unemployed will be able to take advantage of a range of new services such as the Work Programme, which will provide them with help to address their own particular needs and overcome their specific barriers to work.

The introduction of Universal Credit to replace existing out of work benefits will simplify the benefits system and make it easier for people to access. It will also improve work incentives by allowing individuals to keep more of their income as they move into work and by introducing a smoother and more transparent reduction of benefits when they increase their earnings.

The child poverty strategy was informed by responses to the Government's consultation and by independent reviews of poverty and life chances and early intervention by Frank Field MP and Graham Allen MP respectively. In response to this the Government has introduced a new overall package of support for disadvantaged children an d young people. The Fairness Premium, worth £7.2 billion, is designed to improve the outcomes and life chance sof pupils during the early years and at every stage of their education. The Government also published `Supporting Families in the Early Years' on 18 July 2011 setting out its vision for the services that should be on offer for parents and families in the foundation years, from pregnancy to five.

The Government has also allocated £2.2 billion (2011 - 12) and £2.3 billion (2012 - 13) in England to fund universal programmes and activities to all children, young people and families via the Early Intervention Grant (EIG) and believes Local Authorities, who have a comprehensive understanding of child poverty in their area, are best placed to determine the most effective use for this money.

The Child Poverty Strategy recognised the drivers of child poverty can be complex and particular to an area, such as rural locations with dispersed population. That is why the Child Poverty Act sets out duties for every Local Authority to publish a local child poverty needs assessment and strategy. Cornwall's child poverty needs assessment can be found at uk.

To support local authorities, in meeting their duties under the Child Poverty Act, the Government is working with them to develop ways of pooling budget's and commissioning and delivering services through initiatives such as Community Budgets, Social Return on Investment and Payment by Results. The Child Poverty Unit and those working to support local areas in tackling child poverty, for example, the Local Governance Group, The Centre for Excellence and Outcomes and Save the Children, have also developed a core offer of support to help local areas embed evidence based approaches that work best in eradicating child poverty.

This demonstrates the importance the Government places on tacking child poverty, equipping children to make the most of their potential and addressing some of the problems they face. I hope you can use this information to reassure your daughter that the Government is determined to eradicate child poverty and taking the steps necessary to do so.

Ministers do welcome all views, and I would like to thank you for your comments. Should you wish to find out more about our proposed reforms, or about Government services, information can be found through the internet at uk.

Yours sincerely"

For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:

Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, General Secretary, Celtic League:

Tel: 0044 (0)1209 319912 M: 0044 (0)7787318666

The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries.

It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues Internet site at:

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Only three in five Scots have internet at home

The story below featured in The Scotsman this morning.

The percentages for Scots online are a wee bit disappointing.

I would however very much agree with the view that "pay as you go" services should be
 cheaper for Internet services. I am no longer interested in expensive Internet package
 so-called deals.

I currently use a dongle stick on Vodafone with the advantage that I can take it with me
 wherever I go and plug into any laptop or computer.

I could not tolerate being without the Internet as I can choose what I want to read about independence for Scotland or the Celtic nations. The printed press does not interest me because of the bias associated with it towards the union.

The Internet is also useful to educate Scottish kids and offers unlimited research capabilities for those studying history or current affairs.

However I must say that I would look forward to improved and more economical "pay as you go" Internet services for Scots.

Only three in five Scots have internet at home

Published Date: 17 September 2011
ONLY 61 per cent of people in Scotland are online - the lowest of all four UK nations and well below the UK average of 74 per cent, according to a new report by Consumer Focus Scotland.
In Glasgow, only 50 per cent of householders have broadband and almost half of households earning less than £11,500 a year do not have the internet, compared with only 4 per cent who earn more than £30,000 a year.

The consumer group is calling on
broadband providers to offer vulnerable consumers cheaper "social" tariffs and for a new range of "pay-as-you-go" products to help connect those who cannot afford digital packages.

"Sadly, people in Scotland lag behind other parts of the UK in connection to digital services and many vulnerable people miss out on the best deals online or find it difficult to access the increasing range of public services that are being delivered via the web," said Annie McGovern, digital policy expert at Consumer Focus Scotland.

"The reasons for this include a lack of IT 'know-how' and availability of good broadband speeds, but cost can still be a huge hurdle for many people."

The report, called Scotland's digital needs - paving the way for wider access to digital communications, claimed that access to the internet helps people to engage with the wider world, improve children's education, enable access to cultural and social activities, such as Facebook, and support democratic participation.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Scottish Independence from a Left Perspective

After a few years of membership of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) then Solidarity I quit to go back to the SNP in which I was a member from 1988 until the early 1990s.

I was surprised I re-joined the SNP again (over a year ago) because the infighting in the SSP over Rupert Murdoch' and Tommy Sheridan' s private life was simply enough to put anyone off party politics.

Thankfully I remained optimistic about the rise in popularity of the SNP and that one day an Independence Referendum would happen which after all is what most Scots want.

And so I am happy to nail my political colours to the mast albeit from a Left perspective.

Forget the idealistic and democratic centralist minority socialists of the Brit left who are little understood by the ordinary Scots or working classes. Their clout at the ballot box amounts to nothing and they have little support amongst the people for their very rigid ideals of Marxism and Leninism.

Instead we must build by practical methods a socialist society post independence from below. In a practical way we need to build and support communities much torn apart in the Thatcher/Major years and over a decade of Blairite New Labour policies. Many in the latter got into positions of power on the backs of the Labour Movement. Independence would allow us to build a New Scotland or New Republic.

However what is necessary is to galvanise support for an independence "Yes" vote come the referendum so we can build a newer, fairer and greener Scotland. A vision of a Scotland where the mainstream parties begin to listen to the electorate, who gave their politicians positions of power in the first place. With independence would come the hard task of rebuilding communities but would and can be possible.

Independence would allow us to get back to building communities socially, community organisations and community politics at grassroots level. Already the SNP in devolved government have managed to listen more to the Scottish people wishes than Westminster has ever done (especially consider) with a Labour or Tory/Lib Dem majority.

So why must there be cutbacks and austerity measures from Westminster London when they spend billions of our money on Trident?

No the Scottish people largely don't want Trident and since May this year there is room for optimism. The SNP now fills the vacuum the Labour Party in Scotland once occupied. The social democratic policies of the SNP Administration are more popular with Scots than right wing Labour who, when in power in London, took us into war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not any longer should the Scots accept London centralised decision making. It is not hard to imagine the battles that will arise in the near future between the SNP at Holyrood and Westminster.

But the unionist politicians have brought it on themselves for failing to recognise the different hopes and aspirations of the Scottish people than our neighbours down south. For example it is unlikely that us Scots will ever accept any tampering and privatisation brought into the Scottish health service. And we very much support and rely on our public services. And most Scots reject Trident nuclear weapons system based here in Scotland.

Hopefully in 2014 (likely time for referendum) Scots voters will realise that only through independence can politicians more fairly represent us in our communities.

Perhaps in a New Scotland new parties or thinking will emerge that better reflect our aspirations.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

ABC Moscow

I have added a new feed today in which you can find below Russia Today news. I take it you guessed it is the Anarchist Black Cross or ABC Moscow

The Anarchist Black Cross are brilliant people for supporting political prisoners across the globe and deserve a mention.

I am pleased they ABC have a presence in Moscow and so have put an English language feed to their site on this weblog.

Anyone interested in linking to this Scottish Rebel weblog should email me at

Saturday, 10 September 2011

News & Views on Russia Today

I have added to this weblog a feed today for Russia Today News. Why? Because it is excellent for world news without the bias of the BBC or American media.

The channel on cable or satellite TV is also quite good also however I don't watch television lately because I grudge paying the TV license fee.

At least the Russians have a different view to the West about the current business of the United Nations. And they are not afraid to broadcast criticism of the UK or America when it comes to their policy on war, occupation and human rights abuses.

For example the propaganda in the UK is to say nothing or silence over human rights abuses in jails and police custody. Particularly Irish prisoners in jails in the north of Ireland suffer abuse at the hands of the British. Yet the media here broadcast plenty criticism of Iran and now Libya but seldom address their own shortcomings.

That is why I believe in socialism to create a society that regularly checks itself for needed improvements and welfare of workers and citizens in general.

No society is perfect but efforts are made in countries such as Cuba and Venezuela to improve governance for the people.

And before anyone on the streets begins to tell me to go and live in these countries the answer is No! I was born Scottish and I have a right as anyone else to live here and struggle on for change and a democratic society in the Scottish nation.

Life under British rule is getting frustrating and tedious as London or Westminster seldom listens to Scottish opinion or our concerns. That is why we need a democratic independent Scotland and one where we can campaign and struggle for a socialist republic.

For instance the tampering with the NHS and introduction of some private practices in it's operation in England is alien to what Scottish opinion would want or tolerate up here.

Scots also treasure our public services and do not have the mindset that supports nuclear weapons or never ending wars of occupation. We were used as cannon fodder during the British empire and subsequent world wars.

And so I am selective in the news I choose to watch, read or listen too and I feel better for it.

The saber-rattling Brits and their bias media can continue their nonsense in Afghanistan and now Libya under the cloak of NATO but don't include me in your adventures. Not in my name.


Friday, 2 September 2011

Alcohol consumption in Scotland

The Scottish Government produced a report by NHS Health Scotland regarding alcohol consumption on Wednesday. The results naturally don't look good.

And some shops are selling drink above 4% volume at knock down prices. For instance a 3 litre bottle of 7% vol white cider at £3.30 at one of my local stores.

What we must do as Scots is to change our uneasy relationship with alcohol and be more self-critical about how much we drink in the evening.

And I am as guilty as most folk with my drinking patterns.

However I have finally, albeit reluctantly, decided to support the Scottish Government initiative on minimum pricing.

It will certainly reduce my alcohol consumption if prices are raised.

And so I take my hat off to the SNP Administration on this one.

See Below

Alcohol sales at all time high

Alcohol sales are now 23 per cent higher in Scotland than in England and Wales, the biggest difference ever recorded during the 17 years measured since 1994.

The new figure is contained in a report published today by NHS Health Scotland.

The publication shows that on average 2.2 more litres of pure alcohol per adult were sold in Scotland than in England in 2010 - 11.8 litres versus 9.6 litres.

This equates to 22.8 units of alcohol per adult per week in Scotland, above the recommended upper weekly limit of 21 units for men.

In addition almost 2.5 times more vodka was sold per adult in Scotland through off-sales than in England and Wales

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Nicola Sturgeon said:

"For too long Scotland's unhealthy relationship with alcohol has gone unaddressed. These shock statistics show that the difference between alcohol consumption in Scotland and England and Wales is now at its highest rate for 17 years. This is a situation that must be tackled head on.

"The impact of excessive consumption is estimated to cost Scots £3.56 billion each year. That's £900 for every adult.

"We have already taken bold action against this most pressing of problems. Our Alcohol Framework outlines a package of over 40 measures to reduce alcohol related harm.

"In addition we have banned quantity discounts and restricted promotions in off-sales, measures which will take effect from October this year.

"However, these figures published today alongside the three per cent increase in alcohol related deaths reported earlier this month, make it clear to me that further action is needed still. Evidence shows us that minimum pricing is the most efficient and effective way of reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol related harms. That is why we will introduce a Minimum Pricing Bill as a priority in the Autumn.

"Minimum pricing can and will help us to redress the balance when it comes to our unhealthy relationship with alcohol."