Did IDS Jump Before He Was Pushed?

Was Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation the best example of spin since the days of Blair’s babes and the Armani clad cabinet?

Alistair Campbell is in the spotlight again with his latest rant on Brexit in The Observer. When Iain Duncan Smith handed in his notice a few weeks back, I was instantly reminded of scenes from The Thick of It as resignation frenzy hit Westminster. One can only imagine what Malcolm Tucker’s real-life incarnation must have been screaming through the corridors of Whitehall.

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Westminster descended into chaos post-IDS

When IDS took the ‘hard, moral decision’ to resign last week after Osborne’s Budget was “a compromise too far”, hacks went into overdrive trying to figure out what was behind his supposed commitment to helping those most in need, yadda yadda yadda. Of course, the obvious answer is (here’s that phrase again) Britain’s relationship with the EU. IDS has always had a strong desire to leave but, unfortunately for him, his Chancellor and Prime Minister aren’t on the same page. Despite this and Andrew Marr’s best efforts, Duncan Smith still hasn’t let loose and revealed his true reasons and perhaps he never will. However, this doesn’t stop us speculating, does it? Thought not.

Perhaps the first person to call out IDS’ decision was Cameron himself. After all, he was the first to mention the E word (Europe) when he wrote the following in his riposte to the resignation letter:

While we are on different sides in the vital debate about the future of Britain’s relations with Europe, the Government will, of course, continue with its policy of welfare reform, matched by our commitment to social justice, to improving the life chances of the most disadvantaged people in our country, and to ensuring that those who most need help and protection continue to receive it.”

In other words, Cameron wanted to reassert his dissatisfaction with his colleague’s decision to join the dark side and just had to have a prod.

And who can blame him for having a parting shot? After all, Duncan Smith has spent his career getting the Tories in trouble. His initial break coming from his baby; universal tax credit. The scheme, designed to consolidate benefits into one monthly payment, left the poorest out of pocket, who’d have thunk it? The Work & Pensions Secretary said in 2010 that UTC “targeted work activity for those who need to get used to the habits of work”. It is this stingy, acidic tone that has really summed up his time in politics.

But what of the man beneath the cloak of disregard? After a stable Catholic upbringing, he served in the Scots Guards for six years before a stint at defence company, GEC Marconi. Then, out of nowhere, the non-university educated ex-servicemen from Edinburgh entered parliament in 1992, taking Norman Tebbit’s old seat.

Achieving power was certainly not at the top of IDS’ list and he was by no means a ‘career politician’. He once remarked to his former press secretary, Nick Wood: “I’ll fight for what I believe and if I don’t get a job – so be it.”

Well, it turned out he did get a job, leader of the party no less. Although this surprise venture did not go quite as planned. His Chief of Staff, Tim Montgomerie, said of his reign: “Completely unprepared. He had no staff, no infrastructure, no worked-out agenda.”

Not only did he not have the backing of his Chief of Staff, his party soon followed suit, resulting in a vote of no confidence in 2003.

But what’s next for Smith? Well, he’ll be back on your telly soon shedding his crocodile tears all over Ian Hislop’s new documentary on benefits throughout the ages. The not-so-sneak preview shows the former DWP Minister choking up over meeting a 19-year-old, out of work single mother. Cue the OTT Hollywood trailer: ‘From the man who brought you cuts to ESA for the disabled, the £20,000 benefit cap and the slashing of the spare-room subsidy for social housing, Iain Duncan Smith stars in IDS, a tale of persecution and back-stabbing.’ You can just see the reviews now.

 


Exclusive Interview: Ruth Davidson

Perspective

With less than 50 days to go until the Scottish national elections.

The Scottish conservative Party  leader Ruth Davidson feels the party is in the best possible place to make their mark on Scotland’s political play field.

I talked to the party leader last night, at a leadership event in Edinburgh, and began by asking her whether she could deliver the best Scottish election result for the Tories in a while.

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The Real Glasgow Effect

city news

Glasgow 1

This week sees a serious reminder of the term’s original meaning- beyond it’s controversial use by artist Ellie Harrison- as the Bank of Scotland release it’s annual Quality of Life Survey.

by Ailean Beaton

Thanks to the furious online backlash facing artist Ellie Harrison this week, “The Glasgow Effect” is back in the public conversation.

The term- The Glasgow Effect– had been chosen by the London born artist as the title for her ‘durational performance’ in which she hopes to live solely within the confines of Glasgow for the entirety of 2016- a concept for which she has been awarded £15000 from Creative Scotland (as well as some furious criticism and lampoonery on Facebook).

But the term had a meaning long before Harrison opted to use it for her art piece.

Originally coined to describe the apparent disparity in life expectancy experienced by those living in the city…

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Sherlock ‘The Abominabe Bride’ bombs

Insert obligatory spoiler message

Undoubtedly one of the biggest TV moments this Christmas was the BBC’s one-off episode of Sherlock entitled The Abominable Bride and starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. The creator, Steven Moffat, took what hardcore Holmes fans would agree was a great risk and set the 90 minute special in the 1800s, as it was originally intended to be, of course. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite pull it off.

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The slightly peely-wally bride

Something which I was eager to find out after seeing the endless trailers on the Beeb was how exactly they had pulled off the time shift. Well, they didn’t. As fans of the modern Sherlock will know, series three ended with Moriarty announcing he wasn’t in fact dead, broadcasting a message saying “Did you miss me?” on every TV channel in the country. This just so happened to coincide with Sherlock jetting off to Eastern Europe for a beach holiday but, just as he was tucking in to his £8 chicken burger courtesy of Ryanair, he had to turn the bloody plane around. And well, that was about it. However, as far as The Abominable Bride goes for providing answers, it fell a little short.

In the mid 1980s, the writers of the hit American series Dallas performed one of the most infamous U-turns in television history when they made the entirety of series seven a dream sequence in order to entice back a previous star of the show. Now, although this latest installment of Sherlock doesn’t quite go that far, it seems Moffat and co-creator Mark Gatiss have tipped the proverbial cap to the now universally mocked ‘and then I woke up’ routine. We are led to believe that the great detective has entered his ‘mind palace’ on the plane after indulging in drugs. He supposedly attempts to solve an old case from the 1800s in his mind in order to lead him to the answer of how Moriarty is back in the present day. Long winded right?

To pull off this remarkably convoluted script, the production team had something of a field day. After about half an hour of decent whodunit television, revolving around a killer bride who is seemingly back from the dead, we begin to flit between modern day crack addict Sherlock on his Ryanair flight to Prague and olden times Holmes with his somewhat questionable views on feminism and ridiculous coats. To achieve this, the script is littered with 21st century words like ‘data’ and ‘virus’ but in a 19th century setting in an attempt to raise a smile. This was just clunky and pointless. It was a step away from an in-to-the-camera shot from Watson going “HAHA we’re in the past but you went and said a funny computer word LOL”. Or something to that effect.

Perhaps it’s because this was a Christmas special that the video editors thought they’d throw in a few curve balls for us. Or, more than likely, they actually think that turning the whole shot upside down to segue between scenes is fitting in a period drama. I’ve got news for you, it’s not. The links were nothing short of appalling and were almost like watching old Wile E. Coyote cartoons. And, aside from being out of place and down right weird, they actually managed to detract from the solemnity of certain scenes. For example, as we witness the downfall of Sir Eustace Carmichael, played by the fantastic Tim McInnerny, a blurriness that makes one feel like a cataract is developing in one’s cornea comes over the screen to denote a change in time. Why is this necessary?

We are told that it’ll be 2017 before Holmes and Watson grace our screens again and lets hope Gatiss and Moffat find the time to get their act together. It was a real shame to see three series of great viewing rubbished by a self-indulgent Christmas special that sought to overdo the little nuggets of Conan-Doyle still left in the series whilst simultaneously writing itself in to a hole. Keep digging.


King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard//Paper Mâché Dream Balloon//Album Review

Harbingers of modern psychedelic-rock, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, are back with a brand new album and it’s a step in a very interesting direction. In the time since they formed in 2010, King Gizzard have put out a staggering seven albums all of varying styles. After a recent appearance on KEXP radio, singer, Ambrose Kenny Smith, primed fans by saying Paper Mâché Dream Balloon would feature a lot of instruments that they in fact couldn’t play and, rest assured, it certainly does.

The flute has never really been an instrument I’d associate with a rock band, save for perhaps Jethro Tull and maybe Ron Burgundy’s jazz outfit (with a soft j), but it would appear the Australian six-piece have become rather fond of woodwind as a whole for this LP. The decision to make this latest release a solely acoustic concept has obviously led to a move in to uncharted territory and much experimentation, something that has to be expected on a Gizzard album, but I feel this one really takes the biscuit with flutes cropping up on pretty much every track.

This is definitely a landmark album for the group though as they have moved in to a more refined writing style with most songs on the twelve track album around the 2-3 minute mark. Something which nobody could have predicted after there previous album Quarters (2015) boasted four pieces of music lasting exactly 10mins 10seconds each. A brave move if ever there were one.

Although this is a definite leap for the band, tracks like Trap Door along with the title track do evoke the same feel as some classic numbers from the critically acclaimed I’m In Your Mind Fuzz (2014) with hints of something of a punk feel about it but, other than a few flashes of pace alongside the now expected discord, the psychedelic gurus have delivered what is, overall, a very beautiful and calming listen.

Some of the melodies present on the dreamy Dirt are a testament to their musical prowess and intricacy and you can just feel how well rehearsed they are, something that becomes even more apparent on live performances.

Despite the bands somewhat cloying attachment to the flute, they have allowed themselves to break out of this trend a little and the effortlessly bluesy The Bitter Boogie harks back to their love of harmonica, something that is present on a lot of their back catalogue. It’s the longest song on the album and gives the King Gizzard fans pining for a bit of their true psychedelia a healthy dose to get them through.

Paper Mâché Dream Balloon is delightfully puerile and puts yet another marker down for the development of the enigma that is King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Nobody could have predicted this album from them but perhaps that is what makes them such a great band. Who knows what they will do next. All we can presume is, it will be sooner rather than later.

Paper Mâché Dream Balloon is available on Spotify or you can get the full album on YouTube below. Don’t say I’m not good to you.


FIDLAR//Glasgow//12.11.15

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Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk (FIDLAR) is the very approach I took when I entered the fray at The Garage to witness the quite spectacular Glasgow leg of this second album tour. FIDLAR caused a storm in 2013 with their self-titled album featuring countless well-honed, short punk classics such as Cheap Beer and Wake Bake Skate. The seminal follow-up Too has kept with the party line and, despite moving off a little in to a darker sphere, has kept fans more than happy.

As Nashville punk rockers Bully finish off their enthralling, grungy set, a rowdiness, that is so often present at Glasgow gigs, fills the air with the usual ‘here we fucking go’ chants starting up well before FIDLAR have even finished their pre-gig cocktails (of what distinction I’m not sure). Finally, four disheveled twenty somethings clad in skater boy gear sidle on to the tiny stage and from there on in is where, as the young folk say, I lost my shit.The throng of sweaty teenagers initiate a bone crushing shove to the front and the entire room descends in to mayhem of the best kind as Stoked and Broke rattles the eardrums.

Powering through a relentless forty-five minute set, FIDLAR give us a healthy dose of fan favourites, opting for a lot of first album material over songs from Too. Although the crowd drink down the medicine with a grin, it is slightly disappointing not to hear some more of the dark and mysterious aspects from the follow up album. Tracks like Overdose have an added quality that pushes the four-piece to another level and could well have had the same effect on the Glasgow faithful, although I’m not sure that would have been such a good idea.

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There’s something about boyish charm mixed with deafening guitar hooks that just fills people with exuberance but FIDLAR are actually so much more than your average feel-good pop-punk band. We heard smatterings of it on the first LP but Too is a true testament to the hardship faced by young people trying to figure out who they really are whilst experimenting with drug culture. Singer Zac Carper himself has recently spent time in rehab and is now completely clean. As can be expected, this period of his life has been very poignant and has helped in finding inspiration especially on tracks like Sober and Leave Me Alone. And, as the truly epic show at The Garage comes to a head, Carper delivers the trials and tribulations of his generation as he belts out lines like “all the kids wanna know where do I belong where do I go” to rapturous effect.

Things have reached complete delirium and the orders are given to sit down on the sticky floor as the intro for Cocaine blares through the PA. People are sharing a sweaty embrace, it’s the calm before the storm. And then, the very philosophy of FIDLAR is epitomised as the entire room jump up and thrash about for what feels like an age. Clearly a man of few words, Zac signs off with “we’ll be back” and FIDLAR depart as champions.


Old Town Rituals//A Modern Masquerade//LaFleur – Single Launch

Through a Creative Scotland grant, three lucky bands have been able to work with producer and recording engineer Garry Boyle, of Castlesound Studios. He’s been honing the sound of Old Town Rituals, A Modern Masquerade and LaFleur for a number of months now and helped put together all of the bands’ latest singles which were launched on Tuesday night at The Electric Circus.

To kick proceedings off LaFleur, a four piece indie-rock outfit hailing from Wishaw, swaggered on to the stage to show us their dynamism with plenty of attitude on top. They pull inspiration from the classics of the genre like The Libertines but also indicate a more sophisticated take on some punk-rock styles. After a barnstorming set, the new single, Caravan, is delivered with typical attitude that wouldn’t put them out of place in the Manchester Brit-pop scene of the early ’90s. One to watch for sure.

Up next, A Modern Masquerade. Having had great feedback from the online release of Shadowboy at the end of October, it was clear the Edinburgh group were looking forward to sealing the deal with the launch of the physical copy. And, as expected, a well honed set with the addition of a new bass player made for a perfect spectacle. As ever, lots of names spring to mind in regards to influence but, to name a few, Them Crooked Vultures, Royal Blood and fellow Scots Biffy Clyro were all shown a tip of the cap. As you can tell from that list, there’s a real rockiness behind the playful lyrics of Alex Cameron with Craig Grassie on lead guitar responsible for much of the girth in the sound. Shadowboy, with B-side Mazes and Monsters can be found on Spotify.

Last week was something of a biggie for Edinburgh trio Old Town Rituals. They managed to squeeze in the single launch at The Electric Circus and played their first ever Glasgow show at Box on Friday night. But it was Tuesday’s launch that was, for me, something of a turning point for the band. They successfully harbored their nervous energy and converted it in to sheer passion and played on a level that we haven’t quite seen before. The single itself, The World Ain’t Waiting Lately, which you can read a review of here, went down a treat with the Edinburgh clientele. Andrew Black on drums put in a shift and a half and sullied our eardrums to the point of no return, in a good way of course. After throwing in a couple of classic R&B covers, the rest of the set flowed beautifully with an edginess that hasn’t really been unveiled before. Top work from the trio. The single is available on iTunes.


Lee Dalgetty

anything and everything i want to discuss that my friends are sick of hearing about

SAM LIKES GIGS

“The future is unwritten.” ― Joe Strummer