Death and Taxes

Hi folks! With those two famous inevitabilities popping up again and again in the blogosphere, this week’s Roundup has something of a morbid feel about it. Maybe the weather’s getting to everyone?

Anyway. The topic that has generated a good deal of interest is that of organ donation opt-outs, with the UK Government proposing that people’s body parts (I initially typed ‘organs’ but then realised what a field day any surrealist could have with the ambiguity that would cause) would automatically be set aside for donation after their death, and the onus would be on people to opt-out of the system before they died, rather than opt-in and carry a Donor Card, as currently happens. The story gained momentum in Scotland after the Scottish Government suggested that they’d consider following suit. Bill Cameron, Carolyn Brodie and Shuggy all argue that the State is going too far by interfering with what happens to our dead bodies. On the other hand, Cassilis, Bookdrunk and Duncan all point out that we won’t be using them anymore.

Staying with health, and the issue of getting in touch with your GP has been raised. Julie McAnulty questions the benefits of telemedicine, while Caron gets first hand experience of the costs incurred by patients trying to phone their doctor.

Elsewhere, the death of chess legend Bobby Fischer causes ripples in the blogosphere: Kevin Williamson, Alastair and Neil Craig all post their reations to the news.

Now, from death we move to taxes, as David Farrer does battle with HM Revenue & Customs after they get their sums wrong.

Speaking of sums, the slow, stately progress through Holyrood of the Scottish Budget got people talking. ASwaS is not impressed with the Tories’ negotiating skills (or, in his view, lack of them), while Scottish Tory Boy points out the lack of proposals emanating from the LibDems. Calum Cashley looks at what cuts Labour would have made in their amendments to the Budget – all of which were rejected by the Finance Committee – while Kezia Dugdale takes a look at where Labour would have spent the money instead and is unhappy with the current state of the Bill.

On spending and funding, Holyrood Watcher has a thoughtful post on the current row between the SNP and Labour over the ring-fencing of Council budgets. And Wendy Alexander’s comments that Labour Councillors are the benevolent protectors of vulnerable people everywhere, while Tory and SNP Councillors would quite happily club your granny to death given half a chance (OK, I’m paraphrasing there, but that’s pretty much the essence of what she said) have offended SNP Councillor Mark McDonald. I can’t think why.

Clairwil looks at what’s wrong with the benefit system, and thinks about how to fix it.

And for some reason, it doesn’t seem like all that big a leap from that topic to MPs’ salaries: Mr. Eugenides takes a look, while Mr. Smith casts a beady eye over expenses in the House of Lords.

But whatever our Parliamentarians get, could it soon be given to them in Euros? David Farrer reckons we might hear an announcement very soon on signing up to the Single Currency.

Meanwhile, on the subject of money, Craig points out a rather nifty refund policy at Amazon.

Law and order popped up quite a bit this week as well, particularly with reference to the Scottish Government offering support to Green MSP Patrick Harvie’s proposal to introduce stiffer punishments to those found guilty of hate crime. Tartan Hero is celebrating the move, as is Kezia Dugdale. The Tories are not happy, however, and IndyGal is angry at Tory Justice Spokesman Bill Aitken’s comments.

Staying with crime, Angus Nicolson brings news of a drugs raid in the Outer Hebrides, and tells us of the time he introduced the word ‘cottaging’ to the Gaelic lexicon. And Garry has spotted something troubling in the consultation on reforming the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, which outlaws demonstrations in the vicinity of the Houses of Parliament.

Now onto ongoing stories. With the US Elections heating up, and a row between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama over race issues making the news, Cassilis analyses Senator Clinton’s comments.

Back on this side of the Atlantic, Bill Cameron is exasperated with the UK Government’s handling of the Northern Rock debacle, and Tartan Hero reports on Alex Salmond’s appearance before the Local Government Committee at Holyrood over the Trumpton saga, which appears to be heading for cold storage.

One story that is not heading for cold storage, however, is the scandal surrounding Peter Hain over donations to his campaign for Labour’s Deputy Leadership. Gordon Brown’s defence of his Work & Pensions Secretary was disturbingly lacklustre (he described the affair as an ‘incompetence’), prompting comment from Mr. Eugenides, and Carolyn Brodie compares Gordon Brown to that girl she knew at school who would hang around with the fat kids to make herself look good. From one perma-tanned politician to another, the Tommy Sheridan saga just keeps on going. Scott is following it every hilarious step of the way.

Meanwhile, after last week’s chatter over the Progressive Scottish Opinion poll for STV, a YouGov poll for the Scottish Daily Express comes out, putting the SNP 9 points ahead on the Constituency Vote, and 3 points ahead on the Regional. The details are over at UK Polling Report, and there’s positive reaction from Calum Cashley and Tartan Hero. I can’t find any comment on the poll from the Labour bloggers who discussed last week’s findings, and the only blogger of any political hue to have commented on both sets of results is ASwaS. Meanwhile, John looks at what to bear in mind when you’re studying the polls.

Continuing the statistical note, Duncan might taking a well-earned break from rounding up the week’s blogs (he’s not taking a break at all, by the way, he’s still working hard, trawling the blogosphere and collecting posts, as well as doing all the technical stuff which has thrown me into a minor state of disarray), but has instead opted to round up 150 years of the changes in Scotland’s population. Well worth a look.

Of course, a change took place for two members of the Scottish population: the Chairs of sportscotland (whose name has failed me) and the Scottish Institute for Sport (Dougie Donnelly, who is, I can tell you, a very nice man). Political Dissuasion has a post on the matter. And while we’re in the realms of sport, John takes a look at some of the names who have recently been in the frame for the Scotland job. Personally, I’d like to see John Lambie get it. Scotland would sink to below Bhutan in the FIFA World Rankings but the press interviews alone would be worth it.

Music now, and Colin Campbell discovers a gem, while Jeff is horrified at rumours that T in the Park may have to change its name.

Meanwhile, with Burns Night approaching, Ewan Aitken and Julie Hepburn are preparing to speak at Burns Suppers. Ewan is not sure how to go about doing the Immortal Memory, while Julie has been given advice that seems to have made the prospect more daunting than it was before: “Just be funny!”

And while culture is a talking point, Richard Thomson looks at how an independent Scotland could be a cultural power.

From high culture to low culture now, as we once again lift our collective leg against the tree that represents the mainstream media. We start by returning to the themes of death and law and order, as Michael Portillo decided to have himself nearly executed on BBC2 for our entertainment. I’ll leave the thought about how he could have really entertained us hanging in mid-air. Anyway, Bernard Salmon and Scott at Love and Garbage were watching. Elsewhere, David Blackwood looks at the MSM’s use of hyperbole during the Heathrow plane crash (in which the engines stopped working just as the plane was landing, but no one was even injured) on Thursday. Green Scotland informs us that the Scotsman’s guide on how to be greener leaves a lot to be desired, while Holyrood Watcher has spotted that Thursday’s Scottish Parliament Official Report contains no record of Wendy Alexander’s repeated failure to grasp basic parliamentary protocol.

But before we get too big for our boots, Richard Havers gives us some food for thought.

Flying Rodent reveals what he’s in favour of.

Finally, last Sunday, your Rounder-upper had just finished drafting last week’s post, went to his Facebook page, and while looking for something else to do, read a post on an MSP’s blog that contained more than a little envy at his colleague Aileen Campbell’s disclosure that she has a fan club on Bebo. This post by Jamie Hepburn MSP is where the madness started, and the comments will give you a good idea of where it ended up.

And that barmy tale is where we draw this week’s Roundup to a close. Don’t forget that you can submit links for next week’s by sending an e-mail to or by leaving a message via the shebangabangaringading on the right. Bye-de-bye!

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