Saturday, 4 December 2010

A Martian speaks out (again)

Hi! Zut-Zut here again.

It's been a while since Andrew last asked me to post. I've been back home to Mars for a flying visit but, you know, I missed Scotland so much I returned earlier than expected. Timed it perfectly - I got back just as the heavy snow had fallen! It's not the weather I don't like; you should see the storms we get on Mars! No, it's the way that everything here stops for a bit of white stuff! Honestly!

I've been trying to follow political developments, which has been pretty difficult really as we've had some power cuts around here. Still, I've had a good chuckle at the mess Alec the Salmon has found himself in. In the last few weeks we've seen that this man who claims to lead a government has not noticed that key powers have lapsed, has approved a confused budget and has come under fire for keeping secret a £180,000 loan. The Salmon has gone from seemingly invincible visionary leader to a confused, rambling object of ridicule in the space of a few months. Strangely, with the reputation of both himself and the SNP suffering and Labour light years ahead in all the polls, he still believes he can win the 2011 elections. Och well, at least he has a good motivational coach.

I did see the debate in Holyrood on the "secret loan" issue. To simplify the whole affair: an earthling festival called The Gathering was to be cancelled because the company running it was on the brink of insolvency. In true socialist interventionist style, the Salmon loaned £180,000 to ensure the showpiece went ahead - then had to write the loan off when the company predictably collapsed. And he has the nerve to criticise the UK government's financial dealings? Even by earthling standards, this is pretty stupid.

Strangely, the debate seemed to centre about what was meant by "secret loan". Lib Dem Nicol Stephen noted: "is it not a fact that the loan was kept secret from the partners in the event – they did not know about this loan?” To which the culture minister replied that, no, the loan wasn't secret, the government just didn't feel it was their responsibility to tell anyone about it.

Onto more serious things, and I've also found Vince Cable's succession of announcements amusing. "I'm opposed to tuition fees"..."I believe in a progressive graduate tax"..."I support the government's position to increase tuition fees"..."I think I might actually abstain in the vote"..."er, I'm going to vote with the government after all". For Foch's sake! It's also been interesting to see other Lib Dem MPs struggling to decide how to vote, which is perfectly understandable and something that really should have been foreseen. Perhaps it is no bad thing for the Lib Dems if - on this vote - the party is split three ways, so long as efforts are made to contain potential future divisions. Imposing a rigid party discipline in the run up to the vote would be counter-productive.

We have an excellent system on Mars, and you earthlings should take note. We have a range of funding options and allow students and their families to choose the best one for their particular circumstances. We also recognise that the rewards of education are felt by all, so "repayment" can be made in terms of time worked in particular areas of service. I know it's hard to grasp in societies like yours where a "one cap fits all" approach is the norm, but maybe it's by time you developed a more sensible approach to education than either "it should be free" or "you should pay for it". But it's good to see politicians squirm!

The Scottish Tories are in disarray. Oh, that's not news. No, but can you believe they spent one million of your pounds in Scotland during the election? And returned just one MP? That just shows what happens when you give a large sum of money to such a luminary as David McLetchie! Also, the lovely Annabel will have to stand for election next year if she wants to be the Leader of the Scottish Tories, rather than just the Leader of the Scottish Tories in Holyrood. Imagine if she doesn't win? What a joke!

I noticed that Labour seem to be making progress due to the unpopularity of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition in Westminster. That wouldn't be a bad thing, but they don't seem to know what they stand for. "Er...we don't want independence for Scotland". OK. Anything else? "We don't like the Tories, and the only thing that's worse than the Tories are the bloody Lib Dems". Hardly much of a policy statement.

Next week, there are due to be some more student protests. I really like this expression of British culture. You know, thousands marching, ensuing riots, inevitable police heavy-handedness, footage of sundry individuals wielding heavy objects for the benefit of news reporters who want "good TV". The NUS are hoping it's going to put some pressure on Tory and Lib Dem MPs. I can imagine many of the Tories are terrified...I can picture them now, sitting in Committee Room 3, saying how "ghastly" it all is while looking skywards and tutting...

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