Daily archives: November 25, 2015

The Heart vs Accountancy

All those many of us who were deeply involved in the referendum campaign of 2014 will never forget the experience. It appeared a moment of new hope and new joy. Bliss it was on that dawn to be alive, but to be knocking on a bit was even better, because you had been waiting decades for something like this to happen, and realised just how rare it was to feel on the cusp of an egalitarian revolution.

I was dashing all over Scotland from one speech or campaigning venue to another, and helping out with stall, canvassing or leafleting wherever, I was before moving on to the next venue and the next hotel in the next town. I spent an awful lot of money on travel and accommodation, and made several donations to local campaigns, or just gave cash to get something that was needed for a stall or get more flyers printed up. Over 90 per cent of the time I did not ask or receive any expenses for turning up to speak.

I was however in odd moments pursuing my researches into Alexander Burnes and visited Forfar and Montrose to look at manuscripts. I am therefore trying at the moment to sort out my expenditure in the period for my income tax return, and identify what I spent on the campaign and the much smaller amount which is legitimately an expense against income from the book.

And it is very, very difficult. When you are dashing around campaigning like mad, living from hotel to hotel and firmly focused on the campaign, record keeping is not on the top of your mind. Receipts are stuffed into trousers, shirts, jackets, suitcases, laptop bags. A lot of hotels now don’t give you a physical receipt but promise to email one on. I am only able to piece together a very partial account of what I spent during the white hot period of campaigning.

It is of course my own money. This site does not accept donations and it was all simply my own cash. I am therefore under no obligation to account for it. The smaller sum that might be attributable to Burnes research, I shall not be claiming as a tax expense where I can’t find the receipt.

But I have enormous sympathy for the trouble in which Nathalie McGarry finds herself. Accounting is not the top of your list when you are attempting to alter the destination of your entire nation, and Women For Indy was everywhere, doing stuff all over Scotland. From my own experience I can sympathise with why it can, in all innocence, be very difficult to account for everything undertaken in that hectic, breathtaking time. People should remember that before rushing to judgement.

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British Values

George Osborne claims that by doubling the housing budget to £2billion per year, 400,000 new homes can be built over the next five years.

That throws a rather lurid light on what could be done with the £175 billion admitted cost of Trident, if we lived in a society with less crazed values.

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The Immaculate British

Lord Coe went to a great deal of trouble to make sure he turned up to the House of Lords to vote in favour of the tax credit cuts which would damage millions of ordinary people who struggle financially.

Coe was Chairman of the Organising Committee for the London Olympics. At a salary of £365,000pa. At the same time his sports promotions company – majority owned by Seb Coe and William Hague – made over £12 million from organising VIP hospitality packages, for which they were allocated the tickets by – the Organising Committee.

If that happened in Brazil or South Africa, the media would be screaming corruption. Remember the London Olympics were funded with £9 billion of taxpayer money. In Britain, it all passes with a nod and a wink. Normal business practice, old boy!

From 2011 Coe was on the board of Nike, one of the Olympics’ sponsors, and a brand ambassador for Nike, receiving a very substantial salary from them. He was vice-President and now President of the International Association of Athletics Associations and in that capacity met with executives of Nike – his employers – to discuss the award of the World Athletics Championships to Nike’s home town of Eugene. It stinks.

He managed to be Vive President of the IAAF for years without noticing that it was as corrupt and rotten through and through as FIFA, and the President, Diack – with whom he claimed to work closely and repeatedly praised – was taking vast bribes to cover up industrial scale doping. If Coe had no idea this was happening – of which I am deeply sceptical – it can only be because he has been far too concentrated on stuffing his own pockets to look.

It is quite extraordinary to me that the British media, who have led the charge on Blatter with a distinct undertone of “laugh at these comic corrupt foreigners”, cannot spot corrupt enrichment when it stares them in the face.

Coe may be a Tory Lord, but he is a disgrace not fit to lead international athletics. When will the British learn that corruption is not something that just happens abroad? If the standards of British public life were ever higher, we have the living breathing examples of Sebastian Coe and Tony Blair to show us what a sleazy entity Britain has now become.

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