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Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
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A couple of articles in a Scottish newspaper reveal how Trump's mother emigrated to the USA.

The mysterious Mary Trump: The full untold story of how a young Scotswoman escaped to New York and raised a US presidential candidate

SHE was the mother of a potential future president of the United States, yet Mary Trump’s early life and particularly how she came to America is shrouded in mystery.

It has long been maintained that Trump’s Scottish mother Mary Anne Macleod met the Republican candidate-elect’s father Fred on a holiday or trip to New York in 1930. She was apparently introduced to him at a party by her sister, Catherine.

It is a tale that has been told so often, apparently never corrected by the Trump family, that it is accepted as the truth by most of the media – the BBC recently sent a reporter to her native village on the Isle of Lewis to investigate Mrs Trump’s roots and he faithfully repeated that “holiday” version.


Today The National provides proof that far from being on holiday, Mary Anne Macleod Trump was a poor immigrant who arrived in New York with just $50 in her purse and worked as a domestic servant in the city for at least four years.


An inconvenient truth? Donald Trump's Scottish mother was a low-earning migrant

SHE was one of the poor, the huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, who became a multi-millionaire philanthropist and mother of an almost certain Presidential candidate. The question is, why has Donald Trump never put anyone right about the true story of his mother’s immigration?

Perhaps he didn’t know. On the face of it, the tale of a poor Scottish girl making it rich in the USA and giving birth to a possible president should be a great backstory for any candidate yet, given his views on poor immigrants, maybe “the Donald” wishes to downplay Mary Anne Macleod Trump’s early status – though as The National has shown, she was never an illegal immigrant.

Perhaps it may have something to do with this position statement on immigration, taken from the Trump campaign website: “The influx of foreign workers holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high, and makes it difficult for poor and working-class Americans – including immigrants themselves and their children – to earn a middle-class wage. Nearly half of all immigrants and their US-born children currently live in or near poverty, including more than 60 per cent of Hispanic immigrants.


How inconvenient for the would-be president that "low-earning worker" was exactly the status of Mary Anne Macleod when she emigrated from Scotland to the USA in 1930.


I saw it expressed by someone in Labour

as not so much the Tories overtaking Labour (the Tories actually polled quite poorly overall, but picked off a few surprise constituency seats, probably partly as a result of vote-splitting and tactical voting, and were rewarded with a relatively large number of list seats for their turnout), but Labour undertaking the Tories.

Dugdale is a switherer. She's not solely to blame for this, as the remnants of Scottish Labour are fragmented, demoralized and directionless, having just come through a period where their main contribution to Holyrood as the main opposition party has been to try to score cheap points weekly at First Minister's Questions (FMQs) and grab at any developments as sticks with which to beat the SNP (many of which - like the kerfuffle over the Forth Bridge repairs - blew up in their face despite the media giving Labour an easy ride and being eager to latch onto anything that might take the SNP down a peg or two).

Scottish Labour assumed the SNP were a flash in the pan, and would peak and subside if they just bided their time - the media have been salivating at this prospect for years, and I could link you to any number of articles over the past decade sounding the SNP's death knell, proclaiming that THIS, finally was the beginning of the end - leaving them to reap the spoils.

We don't have an official Opposition here as exists in Westminster. Ruth Davidson acts as if the Tories have pulled off some sort of grand coup by coming second, and have a mandate that overrides the majority winning party's. The leader of the largest party that isn't in government gets to ask the first question at FMQs - that's it. No Short money or the sort of civil service infrastructure afforded the UK Parliament's opposition.

This means Scottish Labour's going to need to tread a fine line between trying to stay relevant at Holyrood as one of the opposition parties, and being seen to side with the Tories again - which played no small role in muddying Labour's reputation during the referendum. Immediately after the election, Davidson tried "reaching out" to Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens to present a united front against the SNP - no takers so far!

There are some issues on which the opposition may be able to score easy early wins - their moves to abandon the much-maligned and much-misrepresented Named Person scheme to consolidate social care for children, and to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, for instance - these will be interesting tests.

I don't know how much I'd claim to be "on the ground",

and have any special insight. I'm immersed in all this, like anyone else who lives in Scotland and pays any attention, of course.

I've posted at some length on why I myself became disillusioned with Labour (quite early on compared to many), and after a long period have ended up an SNP voter, so I won't tax people's patience and repeat all that now. Here are some of the posts where I've addressed what you ask:




There have been some decent recent articles trying to dissect it all. None of them will have all the answers. Here are a couple:

Ron McKay: How Labour died here in the Scottish heartland: http://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glasgow-news/ron-mckay-how-labour-died-11297371

Inside the Scottish Labour campaign: no focus, no money, no hope: http://m.heraldscotland.com/news/14478227.Inside_the_Scottish_Labour_campaign__no_focus__no_money__no_hope/

Scottish results are in.

The 2011 results are in brackets.

SNP - 63 (69)
Conservative - 31 (15)
Labour - 24 (37)
Greens - 6 (2)
Liberal Democrats - 5 (5)
Independent - 0 (1)

Of the SNP's total of 63 seats, 59 were won at constituency level (out of a total of 73 constituencies). The previous record was 53 constituency seats, won by Labour in 1999 and matched by the SNP in 2011. The SNP won the largest ever popular vote in the history of the Scottish Parliament at 1,059,897, 156,000 votes more than in the last Holyrood election. They polled more than Labour and the Tories' combined total of 1,016,105 votes.

The SNP needed 65 seats for an outright majority, so the full results show the balancing - and highly unpredictable - effect of the D'Hondt system. Although they retain power, an accommodation of some sort with other parties will be necessary - not for the first time, and the way the parliament was originally intended to function. The obvious informal partnership would be with the Greens, but the SNP has governed in the past by seeking support on a case-by-case basis from various parties, including the Tories.

Labour had an atrocious night. Kezia Dugdale was the only party leader other than the Greens' Co-convenor Patrick Harvie to fail to win a constituency seat. Both Dugdale and Harvie won list seats. Combined with having been overtaken resoundingly by the Tories and beaten into third place with a historically poor set of results, Dugdale's hat must be on a shoogly peg at this stage.

Ruth Davidson's Tories had an unarguably good night. There may be some buyers' remorse in coming months as the reality of the sort of party people have voted in as an opposition to the SNP dawns.

The Lib Dems had mixed results. Leader Willie Rennie unexpectedly won a constituency seat, but they didn't increase their number of MSPs, and their constituency vote was the lowest since devolution.

The Greens fared well, solely on regional list seats. Ross Greer, who I expressed my distaste for above, got in on the West of Scotland list. Ho hum. On the brighter side, dogged land reform campaigner Andy Wightman enters Holyrood, where he's likely to be quite an asset.

UKIP didn't win a Highlands & Islands list seat after all, so there must be some shreds of sanity left up there.

At local level, Jackie Baillie squeaked in with a greatly reduced majority of just over a hundred over her SNP challenger. She'd have gotten in on the list if she'd lost her seat anyway, which takes the sting away a little.

So there you have it. A by-election or two could make things even more interesting in due course.

The Scottish Parliament is run on the D'Hondt voting system

(as are the Northern Ireland and Welsh National Assemblies and the London Assembly).

The whole set-up for the Scottish Parliament was intended to force coalitions. Nevertheless, last election, the SNP won an overall majority with 69 out of 129 seats.

Under the modified D'Hondt system in Scotland, you have two votes. The first is for a directly elected first-past-the-post constituency member, of which there are 73. The second is for a party regional list member, of which there are 56 (7 from each of 8 regions). The list member votes are weighted so that the more directly elected seats a party wins, the more votes it needs to gain a list seat.

On current polling, it looks like the SNP will sweep the board on directly elected seats - winning literally every seat. It also looks like they'll poll heavily enough at list level to win an outright majority again, possibly increasing it by one, but it's a very unpredictable system.

A lot of the pundit chatter at the moment concerns whether the Tories will replace Labour as the second-placed party. It's also possible that UKIP may win its first regional list seat.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale Caught in Prostitution Scandal

Or so it says here:

Byline can reveal a year long relationship between a senior figure in David Cameron’s government and a dominatrix which potentially jeopardized government security and left ministers open to blackmail. John Whittingdale, now Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport {was} involved in a long relationship between at least November 2013 and January 2015 with Olivia King, a well known escort who specializes in domination and sado-masochistic practices. It is unknown whether the relationship continues.


As Culture Secretary, Whittingdale’s brief includes press regulation, the BBC Charter and OfCom, including the implementation of press regulation based on recommendations from the Leveson report.

Whittingdale’s relationship has been an open secret in Westminster and Fleet Street circles, and major tabloid and broadsheet papers including the Mail on Sunday and The Independent have undertaken extensive investigations and written stories, only to have the stories abandoned at the last minute. In emails seen by Byline, the Editor of the Independent, Amol Rajan, wrote in a December 7 2015 email to a source that he had made the decision to not run the story on ‘editorial grounds’. However, the previous day, Rajan had met with Whittingdale and Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre at the Society of Editors Conference in December 2015. When he delivered the keynote address, he stated that he was minded not to implement a major recommendation of the Leveson inquiry and passed by Parliament as part of the Courts and Crimes Act.


One senior source associated with a major tabloid newspaper said they believed the story had been withheld for ‘political’ rather than editorial reasons because of Whittingdale’s significant influence over legislation related to the media.


We can also reveal that while she was involved with Whittingdale, Ms. King was also involved in a relationship with a member of the London underworld, who has a previous firearms conviction.Whittingdale’s relationships with prostitutes are said to be well known in the London underworld and could potentially leave him exposed to blackmail considering his senior position in the Government.


'All his fault': David Cameron blamed George Osborne for disability benefits row, ...

... Cabinet source claims

David Cameron has reportedly told a Cabinet colleague in private that the Chancellor was entirely to blame for the devastating row over cuts to disability benefits.

As the Conservatives were engulfed by a bitter civil war following Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation from the Cabinet, The Times cited a Cabinet source as saying the Prime Minister had turned on George Osborne, his long-standing political ally.

However Downing Street denied the report and insisted Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne were as close as ever.

There has been speculation that the Chancellor could be forced to resign and that the Government’s Finance Bill could be defeated in the Commons this week.


I'll hold off popping my champagne until Cameron expresses his full support for Osborne.

George Osborne forced to cancel photoshoot by furious disability cuts protest

Furious disability campaigners forced George Osborne to abandon a planned photoshoot with under fire Tory MP Zac Goldsmith today.

Placard-waving protesters screamed “blood on your hands” as the pair cut short the scheduled event after just two minutes at which Goldsmith hinted at a Government a U-turn.


Instead of the planned ‘walkabout’, the Millionaire MPs donned hard hats and hi-vis vests but hid from chanting protesters in a makeshift office in a metal container for two hours at Northumberland Park Station in Tottenham.

Tory aides then instructed Transport for London engineers to dig a hole for the photoshoot on industrial land out of shouting distance of the irate group.


Eventually Osborne and a sheepish-looking Zac Goldsmith dashed out of the container in to a Range Rover Discovery which drove them just 100 metres to the hole as protesters shouted “shame on you”.

Then less than two minutes later Osborne was whisked away past protesters in his blacked out Range Rover.


So many jokes, so little time.

Things you hear on the radio, No. 1

This was tucked away toward the end of today's Radio 4 PM news programme.

Brenda, mother of a 21-year-old autistic son, had this to say about the planned cuts to Personal Independence Payments:

I find the idea of taking £30 a week off people in order to encourage them to work really very strange, because at the same time as you’re taking £30 off people to encourage them to work, you’re paying other people more money. If you’re in the elite, if you’re in the government, if you’re at the top of the industry, you need to be paid money as a reward. You need to be paid money to make you do your job better.

However, if you’re at the bottom, you have to have money taken away from you in order to make you work, in order to make you work better.

And that seems a bit of a conundrum, really, because we’re all human.

There's more from Brenda on iPM, broadcast tomorrow at 5:45 (yes, that's in the morning), or available online here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b073bblf

This may be a good time to drop this here:

Maggie Chapman: How a dodgy spreadsheet and a bad joke created the Tory austerity lie

FOR the last five years, an argument has raged. On one side, you had almost all living Nobel Prize winning economists, the evidence of history and organisations representing almost all of the less well off in society. On the other side, you had a few powerful journalists, a cluster of billionaires, a dodgy spreadsheet, and a bad joke, scrawled on a piece of paper by a minister from a defeated government.


These were the people who argued that you needed to rapidly cut government spending to reduce the deficit caused by the 2008 financial crisis. In the world of universities, serious research, and evidence, their case rested on a study by two economics professors called Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.

These two American academics had produced a famous spreadsheet of economic data from across the world. They said it proved that if a government borrowed more than 90 per cent of the value of their country's Gross Domestic Product, then that slowed the country's economy down, making it harder to pay back the debt.


In 2013, though, something happened which would have altered the course of history, if government policy was decided by reasoned argument. A young economist went back to the original spreadsheet and spent some time looking at their basic sums.

It turned out that Reinhart and Rogoff had made a simple copy and paste error. Correct their mistakes, and their Excel spreadsheet added up very differently. The justification for austerity literally disappeared in the click and swoop of a mouse.


Maggie Chapman's the Scottish Green Party Co-convener, so obviously her ravings are easy for the likes of Osborne to dismiss. And he's done such a sterling job of shrinking the deficit that he must be taken seriously. (He's also reportedly about to unleash a little tax lovebomb for the better-off funded off the backs of those suffering from disability welfare cuts etc., but that's by the by.) She also doesn't link to the debunking by this "young economist."

But Bloomberg Businessweek gives more details:

FAQ: Reinhart, Rogoff, and the Excel Error That Changed History

Harvard University economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff have acknowledged making a spreadsheet calculation mistake in a 2010 research paper, “Growth in a Time of Debt” (PDF), which has been widely cited to justify budget-cutting. But the authors stand by their conclusion that higher government debt is associated with slower economic growth. Here’s what you need to know:

How big is this mistake?
Reinhart and Rogoff wrote in their 2010 paper that average annual growth was negative 0.1 percent in countries with episodes of gross government debt equal to 90 percent or more of GDP between 1945 and 2009. Liberal economists have been critical of their work for years (just economists being their usual cranky selves), but now three economists at UMass say Reinhart and Rogoff made several mistakes and omissions. According to the UMass scholars, the “corrected” number is positive 2.2 percent—which means GDP still grows, even when debt levels are very high.

Do Reinhart and Rogoff admit they got it wrong?
They admit they accidentally excluded five rows from an average in their Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, but not the other charges. Fixing the spreadsheet error would lift growth in those high-debt countries to about 0.2 percent annually (still not that good). Adding country data that wasn’t available when they did the 2010 paper would boost growth further, to perhaps 0.5 percent (ditto). The UMass economists get all the way up to 2.2 percent by using a counting method that gives more weight to a few countries that experienced long periods of high debt. Reinhart and Rogoff insist that their method is better.

Yes, and Reinhart and Rogoff argue that it’s beside the point anyway. They put more weight on other data covering longer time periods, which finds that growth is about 1 percentage point lower in episodes of high debt compared to when debt is below 90 percent of GDP. (U.S. government debt is over 100 percent of GDP when you include debt owed by one part of government to another, such as the Social Security trust fund.) They say that even the UMass researchers found that high debt and low growth go hand in hand.

You mean that high debt causes low growth?
Not necessarily. Reinhart and Rogoff are careful in their academic work not to claim causation. It’s possible that slow growth leads to high debt rather than high debt causing slow growth. (Or maybe the causality runs in both directions.) One complaint of their critics is that in Op-Eds, interviews, and other non-academic work, Reinhart and Rogoff have sometimes flatly asserted that high debt leads to slow growth when other explanations are possible.

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