The World This Week From Mennies

25 January 2020.
Robert Burns, Iraq, Brexit, Coronavirus, Independence

Another week in, and a pretty eventful one here at home with another stage in our expansion plans completed and a commitment to installing an MOT ( vehicle testing facility) station in the new premises, the purchase of which was completed several weeks ago.
However, a wee incident at the beginning of the week just about spoiled things somewhat. I was in one of the workshops and decided to check on the oil burning space heater which had just been lit. It seemed to be giving off unusual fumes and on looking through the glass door into the burning chamber I couldn’t see any flame and only a build up of fumes. Suddenly there was an explosion and the door flew open, the blast hitting me in the face and knocking me on to my back. Great way to start the day. Once I got my breath back and assessed any damage, it would appear I had been very lucky.
My hair was singed, I had lost half of one eyebrow and my face was stinging. Very luckily I had been wearing my glasses as both lenses had been burned and showed signs of melting. If I had not been wearing the glasses I would in all probability have been blinded.

So great start to the week and we have today, the anniversary of Scotland’s greatest poet Robert Burns. Born in Alloway in the West of Scotland in 1759, and after a very active and creative life, passing away in 1796.
Every year on New Year’s Eve the whole world sings one of his songs, Auld Lang Syne. Here in Scotland we mark his birthday with a Burn’s Supper where the traditional Scottish delicacy, the Haggis is served up in the traditional manner with mashed potato and turnip. The haggis is piped in and there is a rendition of an “Address to the Haggis” given before the haggis is shared out amongst the gathering.
The first verse of the poem goes like this,
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’ race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my erm.
Burns was a humanist and wrote many poems highlighting the inequalities of the times in which he lived.

So to the rest of the World and the big story at the moment is the spread of the Coronavirus which seems to have started in China and been contracted from animals. The Chinese government seem to be taking this very seriously and are in the process of building very large isolation hospitals to contain the outbreak.
It is a respiratory illness similar to a flu. Up till now there has been approximately 2,400 people infected and 41 deaths. The media outlets are stirring up panic, but I feel that they are getting it slightly out of context and causing undue concern and alarm.
As an example of this, it might be an idea to look at the incidences of flu during a winter period. For instance in the winter of 2017 to 2018 in the USA there were 49 million cases of Flu and 80,000 deaths. That is in a population of 327 million people. China has a population of 1.4 billion. So sometimes better to keep a sense of proportion and at the same time act cautiously.

The virus

Meanwhile, in Iraq there has been a demonstration of a million people against American troops remaining in their country. This has been very lightly reported by Western news outlets which is rather concerning. The Iraqi government recently passed a resolution demanding the removal of American forces from their country. This is the country that the US says it is there to protect, well, American troops are still there so that makes them an army of occupation.
Of course we all knew that and we all really know why they are there in the first place, don’t we?
Yes it all started with the removal of Saddam Hussain and the take over of the Iraqi oil fields, just like it always is with countries with colonial ambitions. The government do the dirty work for large corporate interests who pay them back through contributions to party funds and other ways.
Same happened in Britain’s colonial days with the East India Company and the Hudson Bay company. The US should simply go from Iraq and leave the people to run their own country.

Good old uncle Sam looking after the people of Iraq

During the week Boris Johnson signed the document that cuts us adrift from the EU. An act of stupefying madness. No doubt in the coming weeks or months we will come to realise the real reasons for this idiotic act and I suspect it was more to do with the EU move to regulate the manner in which companies move large amounts of profits to offshore accounts in order to avoid paying the proper taxes due in the countries in which the trading takes place.
Meanwhile we will witness the drain of companies leaving these shores to be where the real economic activity takes place and that is within the EU.
Yes there will be negotiations as to future trading arrangements with the EU but they cannot be better or as good as they are now because that is the very founding principal of the EU and that is to benefit the member countries before any other consideration can take place. It will indeed be a sad day on the 31 January as that is the day we leave the EU.

Hopefully Scotland will be back before long

And so to Independence.
I wont go into just how the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon have messed the whole thing up over the last 5 years culminating in them actually facilitating the election of the most right wing, uncaring, anti Scotland government in the history of the UK, because I have been outlining their inadequacies over that period of time and it gets a bit wearing after a time, but I will say this, Nicola has promised another statement on the situation regarding another referendum on independence this coming week. There is still a way to hold another referendum within this year and that was the latest carrot she dangled before the general election to get more votes. There has to be a case of determination of schedule 5 of the Scotland act taken out, firstly in the court of session and then possibly in the UK supreme court. This is to determine the legality of the Scottish government holding an independence referendum without the consent of the UK government. If she does not at least do this then she is finished. Quite possibly with delays there will still not be enough time to hold one this year and of course she will have the effects of the Alex Salmond case to consider. A case that I suspect she is not going to come out of well at all. I also suspect the there will be attempts to put off another referendum until after the Scottish elections in May next year. I feel this is her last chance to do something and get us out of the corner she has painted us into. The clock is ticking on her tenure as first minister of Scotland.

So to conclude lets get back to Rabbie Burns as I said before, he was a great man of the people and one of the poems he wrote brought this out very clearly. It was a poem called “A Mans A Man For A That” and it ends like this
For a that and a that,
Its coming yet for a that,
That Man to Man the World ower,
Shall Brothers be for A that.

Robert Burns

So to all my friends wherever you are on this fragile planet, I lift my glass to you.



I have been in business for well over half a century but I learn something new every day. My politics are the middle of the road. I believe that the far-right and far-left are equally harmful. Jim Murphy ( at that time, leader of the Scottish Labour party) asked me if I called myself a socialist. I said, "no Jim, I am not a socialist, I am a capitalist, but a capitalist with a social conscience.

3 thoughts on “The World This Week From Mennies”

  1. Bob, I remember one Burns poem very well as it was recited to me in a romantic setting many years ago. It was very sweet to hear but sad in it prophetic message.

    1. It was Nancy and here is the first verse of it, if my memory is correct,
      Ae fond kiss and then we sever
      Ae fareweel, alas for ever
      Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee
      Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee

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