Mar 242017
 

With thanks to Leanne Carter, Account Manager, Tricker PR.

Organisers of a major two-day exhibition in Aberdeen this week are on course to break attendance records – and believe the response to the event could be indicative of the first green shoots of economic recovery in the region.
Langstane Press Ltd expects over 600 delegates to attend its two-day business show at Aberdeen Beach Ballroom, during which businesses will learn how they can make efficiencies in challenging trading conditions.

The firm has already attracted more pre-registered delegates than for its last event in 2015, and there is still time to sign up in advance to Lean and Mean in 17 taking place on Wednesday and Thursday.

Langstane has been staging its biennial business show for the past 25 years, but decided to overhaul the format this year. In the past, it has largely been a trade event, but it was felt there was a need to use it as a platform to equip businesses with knowledge to help them during the north east economic downturn.

Managing director Colin Campbell (pictured) says he has been surprised at the level of interest in the event, and by the range of companies coming forward to sign up to attend. He says,

“The companies that are attending are from a wide range of businesses and it is clear that the event has real appeal across the board from public sector to small start-ups.

“I think the response to the show could be down to a combination of factors, one being that the first green shoots are beginning to show across the city. In the current climate, not everyone has the time to attend events like these but they are making the effort to attend as they want to be able to come and learn.

“The other contributing factor is the change in the style of the event. What we have picked up from customers over the past 18 months is that they need to make savings across all areas of their operations.

“As suppliers, there comes a point where it is impossible to discount any further, so we thought it would be useful to show businesses how they can be creative in making efficiencies, whether that is through a long-term investment in IT solutions or reducing print runs on stationery.

“Langstane has seen the impact of many downturns in the oil and gas industry over the years and we feel that we can share a huge amount of knowledge about how to survive in these challenging times and how to emerge on the other side.”

Lean and Mean in 17 will bring together 35 of Langstane’s leading partners across the office supplies, print, healthcare, interiors and promotional product sectors to meet with delegates and give advice on how to save money.

In addition to the exhibition, a number of keynote speakers will be giving presentations to give delegates further ideas on how to approach efficiencies. Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, will talk about the organisation’s Buy North East campaign – a project that has been supported by Langstane – on Thursday.

Jason Llewellyn of global IT specialists HP will also take to the stage on Wednesday and Thursday, and will explain how investment in new technology can reduce print costs. John Black and Claire Smith of Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP will be presenting on the theme of Survive and Thrive on Wednesday morning.

The show runs from 10am until 4pm on Wednesday and from 10am until 3.30pm on Thursday. Lean and Mean in 17 is free to attend, and delegates should register in advance at www.langstane.co.uk. There will be opportunities for networking throughout the two days, and many suppliers can offer allotted appointments.  

Family-run firm Langstane celebrates 70 years of trading in 2017, and has a product range in excess of 30,000 items, from printer paper to toilet paper and from tubs of coffee to packs of lightbulbs. As well as traditional office supplies, the firm has diversified its product range to provide office furniture and patient care furniture.

Langstane is Scotland’s largest independent office products company and is one of the largest in the UK. Langstane, established in 1947 in Aberdeen remains a family business and has further branches in Dundee and Livingston. Langstane employs over 120 staff and has a turnover of £15m. More about the company can be found at www.langstane.co.uk.

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Mar 172017
 

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With thanks to Eoin Smith, Tricker PR.

North east businesses leaders are being asked for their views on whether a high-profile local procurement initiative should continue and how funding might be generated to enable it to expand.

Russell Borthwick (pictured), chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, will ask delegates at a major exhibition later this month whether there is an appetite to continue with the Buy North East campaign.

Mr Borthwick says the Chamber has been “overwhelmed” by the level of support for Buy North East, which was launched last year in a bid to encourage local firms to do more business with companies based within the region.

He will tell delegates at the Langstane Business Show taking place at the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen on March 22 and 23 that it is important to gather the views of the business community before reaching a decision.

Langstane Press Ltd – one of the first companies to sign up to Buy North East – has changed the format of its biennial business show, which has been running for 25 years, in response to the economic downturn.

It will move away from being a trade show and this year’s event – called Lean and Mean in 17 – will focus on giving delegates information to help get their business into shape by cutting costs and saving money.

Mr Borthwick will be one of the keynote speakers on the second day of the show. He says Buy North East was set up with a number of partner organisations to try and reach a position where local procurement becomes the accepted way that good business in the region works.

He adds,

“At a time when many businesses and individuals are feeling the impact of the oil and gas downturn, it is more important than ever that we collectively do all we can to help the regional economy with the aim of protecting and creating jobs here.

“Reflecting at the end of November, the steering group agreed that the concept had gained remarkable traction in a short period, with over 500 businesses signing up and lots of talk-ability through press coverage.

The general mood of the meeting was that having established the initial stimulus, it would be a shame not to take advantage of the momentum and brand equity that has been created but that any future phases should probably take some new directions rather than simply repeating the recipe.”

Mr Borthwick says the success of the campaign has meant that it is often perceived as an organisation with staff and resources, rather than as a campaign run by five partners.

“We need to understand the level of support out there for continuing the activity in 2017 – what type of activities people believe could be introduced to keep the campaign fresh, relevant and effective, and whether this is an appetite to help fund this,” he adds.

Langstane – Scotland’s largest office supplies company – has been trading for 70 years and has a product range in excess of 30,000 items, from printer paper to toilet paper and from tubs of coffee to packs of lightbulbs. As well as traditional office supplies, the firm has diversified its product range to provide office furniture and patient care furniture.

The show will bring together its leading partners across the office supplies, print, healthcare, interiors and promotional product sectors to share top tips on how to make money-saving changes. All aspects of efficiency will be covered, from overhauling print processes to janitorial supplies to help cut down on staff sick days.

Jason Llewellyn from global IT firm HP will give a talk on both days of the event on how short-term investment in technology could help reduce operating costs in the longer term. On the first day of the show Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP (AAB) will also give a presentation.

John Black, the firm’s partner in charge of audit, and Claire Smith, management consulting associate, will be presenting on the theme of Survive and Thrive.  They both have extensive experience in working with businesses as they adapt to challenging trading conditions, and believe that communication is key.

Mr Black says AAB has carried out more presentations in Aberdeen over the past 18 months on the theme of cost saving and surviving a downturn than at any other point in his career. 

“Events like the Langstane Business Show are excellent platforms to share ideas – face-to-face – that will drive efficiencies and find new practices. Without people talking to each other, that kind of sharing of experience does not happen,” he says.

“I think that the approach Langstane is taking with this year’s show will be very useful to all the delegates who attend. They will be able to see that making savings is not always about cutting the cost and getting a discounted price – it is often about changing behaviours and finding more effective and efficient ways of doing things.”

Miss Smith adds,

“I think the event being staged by Langstane is an outstanding opportunity for businesses to learn from peers and others who will be attending. One of the areas that we will be focusing on is working capital, including managing customers, suppliers and stock– for example, does a company need to hold six months, or even one month, of supplies of stock.

 “John and I will be available after the presentation to meet with anyone who would like to discuss any of the points we raise.”

Lean and Mean in 17 is free to attend, and delegates should register in advance at www.langstane.co.uk. There will be opportunities for networking throughout the two days, and many suppliers can offer allotted appointments.  

Langstane is Scotland’s largest independent office products company and is one of the largest in the UK. Langstane, established in 1947 in Aberdeen remains a family business and has further branches in Dundee and Livingston. Langstane employs over 120 staff and has a turnover of £15m. More about the company can be found at www.langstane.co.uk.

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Mar 102017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Businesses that need to shape up and shed pounds in response to the north east’s challenging economic landscape can learn how to get lean at a major two-day exhibition being held in Aberdeen later this month.

Langstane Press Ltd is bringing together its leading partners across the office supplies, print, healthcare, interiors and promotional product sectors to share top tips on how to make money-saving changes.

Langstane – Scotland’s largest independent office supplies company – will host Lean and Mean in 17 at the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen on March 22 and 23.

The firm has been staging its biennial business show for 25 years, but the impact of the economic downturn has led to the format being overhauled.

The emphasis for this year’s event will be to give delegates information to help get their business into shape, whether that is through outsourcing paper shredding or reviewing janitorial hygiene supplies to reduce staff sick days.

There will be presentations from Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce on the benefits of buying local, chartered accountants Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP will give a talk on why cash is king, and global IT firm HP will explain how investment in new technology can reduce print costs.

Langstane managing director Colin Campbell (pictured) says the exhibition will show how businesses can more effectively use ever-decreasing budgets.

“The north east is facing some very challenging times, and the impact of the North Sea downturn has reverberated across many industries in the region and beyond,” he says.

“Businesses are asking suppliers to be more and more competitive with their prices, but there comes a point where the prices simply cannot be trimmed back any further. What we hope Lean and Mean in 17 will do is show companies of all shapes and sizes there are other ways to identify and implement efficiencies.

“For example, we recently helped one company to make savings with their paper shredding requirements. They have now outsourced that service to Langstane, freeing up the valuable time of one employee who was spending hours of their working week performing this task.

“Saving money and getting lean is not just about how much you pay for products and services – it’s about changing the way you approach efficiencies and streamline operations. Cost saving has been such a strong theme for our customers over the past 18 months, so I believe there will be a real appetite within the business community of the north east to attend this event and learn more.”

Lean and Mean in 17 will feature 32 different suppliers, including a range of household names such as Bic, Pukka Pads and 3M, as well Langstane’s own divisions in office supplies, office interiors, promotional products and print.

The show runs from 10am until 4pm on March 22, with John Black, head of audit at Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP, and Jason Llewellyn of HP both delivering presentations. The session on March 23 runs from 10am until 3.30pm, when Mr Llewellyn will once again be taking to the stage along with Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

Lean and Mean in 17 is free to attend, and delegates should register in advance at www.langstane.co.uk. There will be opportunities for networking throughout the two days, and many suppliers can offer allotted appointments.  

Family-run firm Langstane celebrates 70 years of trading in 2017, and has a product range in excess of 30,000 items, from printer paper to toilet paper and from tubs of coffee to packs of lightbulbs. As well as traditional office supplies, the firm has diversified its product range to provide office furniture and patient care furniture.

Langstane is Scotland’s largest independent office products company and is one of the largest in the UK. Langstane, established in 1947 in Aberdeen remains a family business and has further branches in Dundee and Livingston. Langstane employs over 120 staff and has a turnover of £15m. More about the company can be found at www.langstane.co.uk.

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Nov 252016
 

As the Aberdeen Press & Journal gets into the festive spirit by announcing on its front cover today that ‘there ain’t no sanity clause’ and it’s dangerous to encourage children to believe in him, Old Susannah aka Suzanne Kelly marvels at Damian Bate’s organ yet again, and how it has seized the spirit of good will with its attack on Father Christmas.

DictionaryAt this time of year, it’s important to realise how lucky we are, and to think of those who are less fortunate, who suffer, who are abused.

Imagine spending your days in a no-hope situation. A tyrant forces you to do things against your better nature. You are humiliated on a daily basis, and people openly laugh at what you are doing.

Let’s take a moment then and pause. We have our problems. We might have money and health worries. It’s freezing cold.

But at least we don’t have to write for the Press & Journal and Evening Express under Damian Bates and Sarah Malone Bates.

Some poor soul had to write the infamous ‘TRAITORS!’ article back in the early days of Trump’s planning campaign depicting councillors who dared to vote against the unprecedented Trump golf plans.

Some idealistic young thing who years ago dreamed of a career in journalism now takes orders to write articles praising Damian’s wife’s forays into running a 5 star resort (or is that 6 diamonds – as Turnip awarded himself a few years back?). Imagine the overpriced coffee, the clunky ‘temporary’ clubhouse where the invented ‘Trump family crest’* asserts itself on every piece of furniture, paper serviette and presumably loo roll too.

And you have to submit copy saying it’s fabulous.

While you are instructed to write yet another review of MacLeod House and its beautiful concrete fountain, all around you local writers are firing off Freedom of Information requests, digging into Companies House files, and uncovering stories which actually constitute investigative journalism while you try to find 250 words about why the chicken supreme is worth £40 per head, all the while ignoring the giant plaque staring at you through the clubhouse windows proclaiming that you are on the world’s largest sand dune system.

You might like to say something about this being a blatantly untrue fabrication – but you don’t really dare to do so.

At least you get paid for it. Rather like those girls around the harbour. At least they don’t have to put their name to their handiwork. And quite understandably, many of the AJL articles go without anyone claiming a byline.

santa-with-traumatised-children-creepy-santa-comAnd now this week one of you was handed an arcane, clearly deliberately provocative piece from two academics who believe perpetuating the Santa Claus fable is akin to child abuse. ‘Give me a front page story on Bad Santa’ Damian or one of his minions told you.

And you did it, didn’t you?

Did you care this angle has been done before? Was what you were going to bring to the argument so brilliant you didn’t care? Maybe you were happy to get away from Trump for a little, or you were happy to try and forget the real news stories in our area that a reporter would want to cover – Marischal Square and its genesis, who is linked to who in the curious companies Sir Ian Wood and others still keep afloat even though (theoretically) the Union Terrace Gardens parking lot scheme (for that was all it really was) is dead in the water.

Maybe you don’t want to think about the fact your newspaper (for lack of a better word) will soon need to metaphorically tug its forelock at the city council: what other newspaper would even remotely consider taking a free rent from a city council? Can you even keep track of the number of city council stories and dealings that should have been investigated by the local printed press?

No, you are now going to Google elves, Santa, and present your findings on the new throwaway theory Santa is Bad Santa. Someone else is going to look into Muse, Trump, Inspired, fraud inside the council, etc. etc. But not you or your fellow Aberdeen Journals writers.

And Result! Good for you!

The Facebook P&J page has hundreds of hits on this story. Of course most of them are ridiculing the fact your boss put this on the paper’s front cover, and some are angry that young children will see this and dissolve into tears – thus spoiling photoshoots for your next ‘adorable tot’ competition. Hits matter on Facebook to your boss – even if the paper is not exactly flying off the shelf. You may well put this into your cuttings book – another front page story for you.

At least it beats the brains out of having to type for the umpteenth time ‘breathe fresh life into the beating heart of the city’ and such. How do you breathe into a heart anyway?  How fast can you as an Evening Express reporter type the phrase ‘vibrant and dynamic?’ Do they pay you for the word much as some other professionals are paid by the hour?  I’ve always wondered.

Maybe someday they’ll give a Pulitzer for incisive, pithy front page stories about the Tooth Fairy’s negative psychological impact on children. Perhaps that brilliant headline your paper used when a young man was missing ‘search called off due to unforeseen circumstances’ about a no-show psychic should have received more acclaim – how the family must have laughed! But not today.

Just maybe your Father Christmas article will lead to bigger and better – there is no shortage of crackpot experts with degrees who write ridiculous papers to get noticed – not that the attack on the Santa belief wasn’t a serious, scholarly work. You’ll find them – or Damian will find them and tell you to write up an op ed. Can a piece about the Loch Ness Monster be that far off now? I guess we all aspire to something.

perhaps time for you to pick up an actual newspaper and see what other writers are doing

So, many of us who contribute to Aberdeen Voice will keep doing the work you’re too busy to do. We’ll keep revealing that despite Trump’s declarations to the contrary, he was definitely seeking compulsory purchase orders against his neighbours. That was an AV scoop, and it doesn’t seem you picked up on that.

Guess it didn’t have the gravitas a piece on the Easter Bunny will do when you write it.

We revealed the literally cozy relationship between the P&J and Trump International Golf Links Scotland. We found out how much money from the public purse was spent promoting the risible UTG project. Did you like looking at those lurid images of the ridiculous ramps arching over an impossible landscape of trees and open air theatre month after month?

You’ve gone all out to help the council (usually).  Remember the Evening Express story designed to lend creedence to the city’s plans for killing the Tullos Hill Deer?  The deer were going to be killed to plant trees on Tullos despite public outcry to just leave the hill, wildflower meadow and deer alone.  The trees aren’t growing, but the deer are dead.  Your paper helpfully announced ‘Two Deer Found Dead Ahead of Cull’ – implying the poor creatures needed to be culled for their own good.  Then I found out it was fully two years before the cull was proposed that the deer were found dead of unknown cause.  Your paper never did cover my story that deer had clearly been slaughtered in the Gramps – severed limbs were found.  The preposterous claim Ranger Talboys made was that the deer must have been killed somewhere else, then the poachers marched up two different hills to deposit the limbs.  I guess there wasn’t room for any of this as well as another review of MacLeod House.  The ‘cost-neutral’ tree scheme Peter Leonard of ACC forced on the taxpayer has now cost a five-figure sum – obviously that’s not newsworthy to Damian.

As I write, it’s nearly 6pm – knocking off time for you, or perhaps time for you to pick up an actual newspaper and see what other writers are doing. Does it bother you to read Monbiot, Rob Edwards, people who care about corruption, the environment, the threat Trump poses to world stability – or are you genuinely content writing about the latest P&J sponsored award show held at the AECC and who won a golden cabbage or whatever it is given out that helps generate advertising revenue and PR for your stable of publications?

From the rest of us, we feel sorry for you. It’s not news you’re writing. It’s not investigative journalism your paper offers as a norm. You are sucking up to your advertisers (remember when a certain diminutive housebuilder reportedly threatened to pull his advertising if you ever wrote a critical piece on him again? I do). The press should serve as a check and balance on the council; in the P&J’s case, the council’s cheques for ads total £200,000 a year, and press you into service.

Adios to ideals; to dreams of reporting and investigating, or choosing what stories to follow. The rest of us feel your shame, and we pity you. This has taken enough of your time though, and you will likely have a beautiful tot or beautiful bride layout to work on.

Some of us managed to believe (or half believe) the Santa Claus/Father Christmas mythology without it turning us into megalomaniacal would-be fascist dictators, preening newspaper editors whose Facebook page consists of a series of selfies and little else, or a woman in a job over her head who will do anything for money, however much that means swallowing racism, sexism and nationalism – just hypothetical examples of personality disorders, mind you.

I am very thankful. Thankful I am never going to work for you or those you serve.

STOP PRESS:  Be sure to take your children to Santa’s Grotto at the Trump International Golf Links Scotland; if you’re going to scar the offspring for life, do it somewhere where they know about great big men with odd hair promising lots of gifts to people who do what they are told to do (even if those gifts never materialise). A tenner a tyke.

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Nov 222016
 

marischalpicBy Suzanne Kelly.

While pondering whether to offer Aberdeen Press & Journal and the Evening Express a free base for one year in the controversial Marischal College office building, Aberdeen City Council has certainly been helping the paper financially as it spends £200,000 per annum on advertisements in the papers. 

A recent Freedom of Information request shows that the city council has advertised in Aberdeen Journals Ltd’s local papers to the tune of £626,500 over the last three years. 

This is a mean of £205,500 per year. 

The breakdown is as follows:

2016 – £199,818.78 (up to 25 October 2016)

2015 – £219,123.87

2014 – £197,513.68

The City explained:

“Unfortunately, we are unable to provide a breakdown of each expense. The types of expense that ACC would use Aberdeen Journals for would be, for example, Public Notices and Job Advertisements.”

The city also claims it would be too expensive to get a breakdown of what these ads are.

Aberdeenshire Council on the other hand spend a grand total of £6,998 on advertising with the two newspapers over the same three year period. When asked to check the figures, the Shire spokesperson confirmed this figure was all-inclusive.

The city declined to give a breakdown, stating there were a staggering 3,000 invoices for the time period, and the cost to them of collating the information was over £3,000.

There IS such a thing as free rent.

The City Council declines to answer whether it is planning to give free rent to the P&J or other future Marischal Square residents.

The City does advise:

“The discussions in relation to the proposals for the AJL terms have involved the advice of external property agents, the Council’s development partner and a number of Council officers.  The Council officers involved  were Head of Finance, Head of Land and Property Assets, and Asset Management Manager.” 

The P&J editor Damian Bates seems unsurprisingly keen to move to the building his papers previously called ‘controversial’. 

He commented in a recent article:

“It’s in no-one’s interests for it to sit empty and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to head back home; back into the city centre where we belong and where The Press and Journal started its amazing journey more than 270 years ago.

“We are now a multi-media business and this prospective move will provide a bright future for the Evening Express, P&J, Energy Voice and all our other products and sites. The council has been our landlord since approximately 1970 so nothing is going to change.”  

Some Free Advice on Free Rent, Expensive Advertising and Ethics.

Some notices must be published in newspapers for legal requirements. Job advertisements appear on the City Council’s website, which is free to access by anyone with a computer, and anyone with a library card can access computers for free. There is no excuse for cutting services while spending this kind of money on advertising.

Considering that jobs can be easily, freely posted on the city council’s website, and citizens are told that services and that citizens were told budget cuts have to be made, cutting down on advertising should have been a priority. In January Finance Committee Convener, Cllr Willie Young told the council’s advertising vehicle the Evening Express:

“It’s possible third sector organisations could see funding cut…We have to look at everything.”

Perhaps before any other services are cut, Aberdeen City Council might want to think twice about its advertising spend and giving new office space away for free, with the taxpayer picking up the tab.

According to the P&J, office space in Aberdeen commands a high price – or at least should do:

“…Aberdeen continues to lead the way for prime office rents, with Ryden reporting a current price of £32 per sq ft – higher than Glasgow’s £30 figure, with sites in Edinburgh and Dundee generating £28 and £15 respectively.” 

If the city could and should be making money out of the massive eyesore which could have been that civic square everyone in a position of power once Jonesed for (oh Sir Ian, where art thou? Why didn’t you want the civic square there? And I note that ‘Opportunity North East Limited’ has extended its accounting period so it won’t have to report at the end of this month now and has until the end of March 2017 – your comment welcome Sir Ian), and if the city has to ‘look at everything’ to find money – why should Aberdeen Journals Ltd. enjoy this largess?

Then again there is a small moral issue. For most of the rest of the UK, a newspaper has a duty to investigate with impartiality, serving as a check on government and a check on the powerful. As it stands, the P&J’s alliance to the editor’s wife’s boss Donald Trump is a dark stain.

Can the P&J really morally afford to be indebted to the city council it should be investigating, or has any pretence of journalism now left the building. We should be told.

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Oct 152016
 

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over recent events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryGreetings belatedly; sorry for the late-running of this service; I’ve been busy. For one thing – Result! TV Smith played Krakatoa on 8 October with Fred Wilkinson opening. Fred, or ‘Wilkinson’ as beloved LibDem Aileen HoMalone refers to him, played a lovely song about fashion called The Ghosts of Cable Street. I’m not really sure what it was about, but I think it had to do cable-knit jumpers and something about black shirts not being very popular at one time.

Fashions do have a way of coming around again, and I think there are more than a few blackshirt-lovers out there right now.

Smith played some old-fashioned, quaint ‘protest music’ – although heaven knows, we really have nothing to protest about, except maybe all those foreigners Amber Herd wanted named and shamed for taking British Jobs.

I wonder why she changed her mind? Could there be any link between the pound plunging to a new 31 year low, Brexit, and Amber’s anti-foreigner stance? I doubt it.

I am guilty of not being born in the UK. I am taking the unpaid job of some poor satirical British columnist who otherwise could be labouring for free. Yes, naming and shaming the companies that hire people from other countries seemed like the way forward. But I digress. Smith sang about modern poverty (no doubt caused by foreigners), state surveillance, and other such lefty concerns. Just as well we’ve nothing to protest about here in the Deen.

I understand Torry residents are planning a parade to celebrate all the jobs creation coming our way. We’re getting an incinerator – sorry – waste to energy plant! Result!

We’re going to get rid of the under-used Bay of Nigg so that cruise ships filled with rich visitors can stop by for a bet at Ladbroke’s and some Spar shopping. Result! Of course we’ll have to make a few sacrifices for creating these jobs.

A few protected wildlife species in the Bay, clean air (which we enjoy so greatly now thanks to the sewerage plant) and the wishes of local people – many of whom are foreign! – should not stand in the way of making the Harbour Board richer or getting a good old-fashioned British firm busy burning rubbish next to the school in Tullos. While the house prices here will plummet, a clear message is sent: Scotland is Open For Business.

We are open to taking American fracked gas; a great tanker sailed to Scotland filled with fracked gas, while some Americans in Pennsylvania begged Scotland not to take it.

If it will make us money, at least the considerable pollution will be happening far away – foreigners do have their uses. (The energy efficiency of creating fuel in the US leaving pollution in its wake and shipping resultant gas to Scotland is a little hard for me to understand, especially with gas here having been at considerably low prices for years. Still, if there’s money to be made, we can’t be seen to be closed can we?)

We’re also open for business at Marischal Square, where in keeping with the look of the city, Granite will be the main cladding material. That The Granite City is importing granite from China, where there are a few equal pay and workers’ rights issues is not an issue. We are Open For Business. The council says it’s not their business where the granite comes from – a huge comfort to the veritable slave labour that will be quarrying it.

John Forbes of Bon Accord Granite said:

“What people don’t understand is we haven’t built a major building out of north-east granite for the last 30 years, at least. It’s down to price. If I don’t supply Chinese granite, others will.” 

Thanks John for helping the project’s carbon footprint, Chinese workers’ rights, the government’s push to use UK labour forces – all while making a tidy profit. Nice one.

I get it – the position seems to be ‘if I don’t exploit unfair labour practices in China to supply material cheaply, someone else will’. Good code of ethics there then. So – foreigners = good source of labour to exploit as cheaply as possible – as long as the blighters don’t actually come to Old Blighty.

When the much-loved Marischal Square building is clad in Chinese granite, the much-loved Press & Journal is set to take a year’s free rent to grace us with its presence.

In order to figure out how this equates to being ‘Open for Business’ as opposed to, shall we say, giving the paper a bone so that it won’t unleash its investigative new hounds (if any left) onto juicy city council stories (not that there are any unless you count the cremation scandal, the Torry carve-up, Marischal Square..), Old Susannah lodged a freedom of information request.

We do know the key players at the Town House in this genius free rent scheme are the Head of Finance, Head of Land and Property Assets, Asset Management Manager. The city refuses to comment on these ‘commercial negotiations’ because:

“Release of the information at this stage would influence the negotiating position of parties wishing to occupy space in the development, to the obvious detriment of the Council’s commercial interests.

“Furthermore, disclosure of the requested information at this stage is likely to weaken ACC’s position in a competitive environment by revealing sensitive information of potential usefulness to competitors. ACC must maintain good working relationships with reputable companies to enable it to obtain value for money and so releasing commercially sensitive information could potentially damage ACC’s reputation with such third parties, dissuading the third parties from engaging with ACC.”

“The discussions in relation to the proposals for the AJL terms have involved the advice of external property agents, the Council’s development partner and a number of Council officers.” 

So if I understand correctly, the competition would get wind of us giving a years’ rent free in a new building to the press (normally expected to investigate just this kind of eventuality in some cities anyway), and they would give a better deal, or other people would want free rent like the P&J too.

Perhaps we should pay the P&J to grace the city centre, and breathing new life into the beating heart of the civic centre in a vibrant and dynamic manner.

The phrase ‘Value for Money’ worked its way into the FOI response. Older readers might remember when the previous administration sold property owned by the taxpayer for millions of pounds less than market value, and was investigated by Audit Scotland (the report was meant to be investigated by the police – but they didn’t do anything. When I asked for an update, it was explained the paperwork could not be found, and as it was only a few million pounds’ worth of potential fraud, it wasn’t really a big deal).

We also gifted Stewart Milne lots of land, at the same time he won a few sweet contracts totalling £10 million – he’d underbid the competition – possibly a feat made a bit easier by having a nice parcel of land as a handy asset. But again – I digress. Just as well though that the taxpayer isn’t propping up a hugely biased, outmoded pseudo-newspaper.

Not that there are any juicy city council stories of course, but in light of how the city’s officers are involved in a few slightly questionable activities, I set out to take a look at the register of officers’ interests. I was to meet someone from Legal and democratic services to take a look at the register. A few hours before the meeting, the legal team from the city decided that a FOI request was required.

Now in theory FOI requests should not have to be made to see information that is held – but they were apparently fearful that there might be ‘personal data’ in the register.

This register should be parallel to the register held on all the councillor’s interests and hospitality – which you can view right now on the website. It’s almost as if the officers had more power and influence than coucillors but surely not. The FOI service complains from time to time that it has too many requests to handle (which might be why it is late with a huge portion of responses).

If the other departments had this ‘transparency’ we’ve heard so much about, the FOI team wouldn’t have to suffer so greatly doing its job.

Democratic services? Transparency? Freedom of Information? Clearly not as important as being open for business. More on this soon.

While waiting for any of this information to ever get to me, liquid refreshment at BrewDog helps sustain me and pass the time. Old Dog (as I now call the Gallowgate bar, the first ever BrewDog bar) has been doing some wildly popular craft courses and a once-monthly fun event, Drink and Draw.

I have learned so very much from BrewDog. Did you know that it’s Robert Plant’s son Logan is behind the remarkable Beavertown Brewery? I hadn’t any idea. One of my favourite non-BD libations is Beavertown’s flavour packed Gamma Ray (American Pale Ale). And yes, I’m one of the 10,000 BrewDog shareholders, and still proud of it.

Finally, Anthony Baxter is making another film about ladies’ man Trump, although I can’t think of any recent news developments these past 12 months that would warrant any such documentary. However, the details are here for those who would like to chip in. Expected Aberdeen release 3 November at the Belmont. (And by way of disclosure, there is every chance I’ll be in it).

At this rate there won’t be time for definitions, so with no further hesitation, here are some career-related definitions for the wonderful people who bring so much to Aberdeen.

Spokeswoman: (Modern English noun) a female who undertakes public relations duties.

Sarah Malone has been enjoying a Trump salary these many years; this and husband Damian’s salary will no doubt be helping the Jimmy Choo purchase fund.

In order to get a paid gig dealing with the media as a spokeswoman for a multinational property developer, aspiring spokespersons would have to have style, flair, the ability to think quickly, analyse information and respond swiftly with tact and intelligence. This no doubt is why I toil for free. As a recent example illustrating the calibre of response such a professional spokeswoman would be expected to come up with, I offer the following recently issued by Sarah Malone-Bates, aka from now as Sarah Baloney:

“We have not seen the so-called film and have no interest in it.

“Anthony Baxter is not a credible journalist or filmmaker. He has no interest in the facts or the people of north east Scotland.

“He has propagated lies and nonsense about the company for years in an attempt to make a name for himself off the back of Trump.

“We operate a highly acclaimed, five-star golf resort and enjoy a great relationship with the local community and all of our neighbours with the exception of a few who have fought the project since its inception.”

Old Susannah can’t – however hard I try – write like this. For instance, if I had to use the compound-adjective ‘so-called’, I might have said ‘so-called journalist’. That would have opened up a debate on whether or not award-winning, acclaimed journalist Baxter is credible or not. Obviously we trust a Trump spokesperson’s word for what is and isn’t credible. However, ‘so-called film’ opens up the debate as to whether or not the film is a … film. I think even I could win that battle of wits with Sarah.

She is calling Baxter a liar – a daring PR move which of course could have legal consequences should Baxter want to sue Trump. I hope she’ll share the specific list of these lies with us; I promise I’ll ask for it.

As to that ‘great relationship with the local community’ – well, obviously that’s as true as anything else this professional, well-paid spokesperson said. Just because protestors raise Mexican flags, 580,000 people sign a petition against her boss coming here, the local university rescinded his honorary degree and he’s no longer a global Scot is no reason to think Mr Drumpf is in any way unpopular. And no doubt the relationship with this community is unshakeable…

Star: (modern English term) someone of celebrity status, admired and well-known.

Donald Trump is a star. How do I know? He said so in a conversation about the perks of stardom.

To attain star status, having superior genes is important; modestly Drumpf admits what we already know – that he has superior genes. Somewhere, in some obscure history lesson, I almost remember some other political figure being interested in genetic superiority. Perhaps it’s fashionable to talk about this again?

Perks of stardom include ‘just start kissing’ beautiful women ‘doing anything (to women)’ and ‘grabbing them by the pussy’. Oh those lucky, beautiful young women. Something in the nature of 1 in 5 American women can expect to be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

And with that, I find the last satirical inclinations leaving me, and so I will sign off. Let’s hope nothing will dent that community appreciation Drumpf enjoys here in our little corner of Scotland.

Next week – more on other FOI requests, a look at the rosy future of Torry – and a DIY Investigating kit

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Apr 142016
 

donprespicBy Suzanne Kelly.

Master Bates had just parked the Maserati in his space and was making his way through the hallowed hall of the Press & Churnal.

The receptionists seemed even smilier than usual; the secretaries he walked past smiled and said “Good morning sir”, and seemed to be gigglish.

From further down the corridor, he could hear voices and laughter.

“Well, they say it even looks like him – big head of strawlike grey hair.”

“Well, Bates might as well give Drumpf a column; Drumpf’s given his wife a column and all.”

“Wonder if it’ll have her looks?!

“What if it has her brains and Donald’s looks?”

Bates didn’t quite hear all of that however; he had a searing headache. The reporters got sight of him and scarpered, scattering to all quarters of the newspaper’s offices.

Bates hadn’t slept well. He knew things were going to be different – life was going to be different now. But he hadn’t bargained on all that constant bawling. The whinging, the crying, the temper tantrums at the slightest provocation. That wrinkled face going beet read. The screaming. Yes, life with Donald Drumpf was trying – very trying. Thank goodness he could escape now and then to look after the newborn Malone-Bates baby, Donadina.

He pressed his fingers to his temples and massaged them as he got into his big leather chair at his big leather covered desk and sighed.

Giving Donald Drumpf his own column. He had little choice. He remembered well, how it unfolded. One day his wife came back from the Drumpf clubhouse and had told him:

“Darling, Donald wants to give you a present”

He thought at the time ‘Christ, not another damned Chinese t-shirt with the Drumpf logo or another cheesy Mexican baseball cap with the Drumpf name in giant letters’.

“Precious – how are you? How’s Donald? Happy to help of course.”

“It’s just a teeny weeny favour he’s going to do you”

‘Hope to hell it’s more advertising revenue’ he thought, ‘after we printed that weekend supplement about the MacDonald hotel with its garish orange duvets dyed to match The Donald’s skin makeup colour.’

That actually took a bit of pride-swallowing to print.

“it’s Fabulous! Donald’s going to give you a column to put in your newpaper! You’re always saying you need to fill up the space between advertisements with something or other. Well, he’s going to write you an exclusive column – that mean he’s not going to have it printed anywhere else.”

Damian remembered the little remaining colour running out of his face – something that never seemed to happen to his apparent new columnist.

“Darling, sweetheart, mother of my daughter – I’d er, love that almost as much as I love you. But angel, we’ve just spent a packet hiring Alex Salmond.”

“Yes, that was a mistake, it’s a good thing I talked Donald around about that – that was me using my great skills. I had to blink my eyelashes at him all afternoon about that, but he forgave you. Now he wants that column. Tell Alex he’s to make room for his old pal Donald. Donald says they are getting along now, so that must be true.”

“Sarah, darling – isn’t Donald going to be a bit busy running for president to actually write a column?”

“Silly boy – he’ll not actually write it – he’s far too important to do any actual writing. I thought I might write it myself; he says I’m very good with words. Why I can memorise what they write for me to tell the press in just a matter of hours now that I’ve been practicing.”

Damian was white now.

“Er darling, you’ll be too busy too, running the golf course and looking after little Donalda.”

Sarah wrinkled her pretty nose.

“I’m going to be too busy to look after her that much; the nanny will have to work more hours. And of course, when Donald Drumpf becomes president, you know what that will mean, don’t you?”

Puzzled, Bates couldn’t quite find the words.

Almost as if she could sense his bewilderment she answered:

“Silly – I’m the Vice President – remember? He made me Vice President a few years ago! I’ll have to go to Washington, and go to all those fancy State Dinners and Balls and meet the Queen and everything.”

The rest of that conversation seemed a blur. Bates only remembered that he gave Sarah a few thousand for a pair of rhinestone Jimmy Choos and he gave Drumpf a weekly column.

Bates had been outnumbered and outgunned. Donald’s ghost writer and advertising team sent over their full page, full colour ad – although there wasn’t going to be any advertising revenue! The pain of that increased Bates’ now permanent headache. The ad was monstrous – Drumpf in full open mouth basking shark mode, against the drapery of the US Flag. The Scottish public would undoubtedly find this a bridge too far.

But the contents of the column. How Drumpf had won over the Scottish people. ‘Me, Sarah, Woody – well, that’s three of us won over anyway’ thought the gloomy Bates. ‘How will I ever show my face after this and damn – what’s going to happen at my next RGU journalism lecture?’

His mobile phone bleeped at him. It was a text from Sarah.

“Hello darling; Donald just loves his column now he’s had a chance to read it. He says don’t worry – he’ll have a new column for you to print once a week at least. And he’s here now – will send you a photo in a sec. Love you. PS – can you get a courier to bring me your Barclaycard Platinum? Mine seems not to be working; must be the strip thingy on the back, and what’s ‘exceeded your credit limit’ mean again?”

His head throbbed worse than ever. He put the phone down. Looking out the window of his office he could see the Maserati in the parking lot.

Was that Magritte, the new student intern who was looking at the car so admiringly? For one split second he started to wonder. Then the phone blipped at him. Picking it up, he opened the JPEG message from Sarah. Donald stood next to Sarah; he was holding the baby. His little daughter had a crop of unruly blonde hair, and she was wearing a tiny Drumpf-embroidered baseball cap.

“Donald holding little Donalda MacLeod Sarah Damiana Malone Bates.” read the caption.

Bates put the phone down. He reached inside his desk for the extra strength anadin, and shook his head.

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Mar 112016
 

Aberdeen Voice’s Old Susannah has something of an identity crisis as her mortgage company rebrands her as ‘Elizabeth’ in a paperwork snafu. As such, we welcome Old Elizabeth’s Dictionary Corner this week. By Suzanne (?) Kelly.

DictionaryTally ho! The banks have decided that my first name isn’t Suzanne, it’s Elizabeth. That’s what the records show, so I have to prove them wrong. This error was only picked up a week ago, so I don’t expect it to be fixed any time soon.

Past signatures on mortgage papers, name on my bank account and payslips, my passport – none of this is good enough just yet for the powers that be. I may change my name; it might be easier. You’re probably as shocked to hear of a bank making any kind of mistake as I am, but apparently it does happen.

I’m beginning to think that I must be in the wrong, not them, and am going to double-check with my parents.

This past week a Florida woman who tried to teach her four year old child how to shoot a gun has been shot. Bet no one saw that coming.

This is an intolerable state of affairs; what kind of mother is this? Perhaps if she’d started him earlier, he’d have acquired more gun handling experience by now. It’s never too early to start learning to hurt or kill, is it? Call me old-fashioned, but every time I give a toddler who can’t really walk or talk a .45 six-shooter, I usually leave only one or two bullets in.

As to Mother of the Year, you’ll be happy to know that she is said to be in a stable condition. She sounds very stable to me. Of course junior might have killed himself or any surviving siblings. In the US nearly 10,000 minors are killed or injured by guns every year But that’s a small price to pay for freedom, I say.

No word on whether she’ll face any charges; hardly likely I’d think. Elsewhere in the US, if your child is stillborn, or has birth defects, you might just well find yourself in prison for murder. Oh, lest I forget – happy International Women’s Day everyone.

Closer to home, all’s well as we continue with our vibrant, dynamic public relations activities, showing the rest of the world how wonderful we are. Now that a new flight route has opened to Iceland, Visit Scotland is out there flying the Satire, waving our tax money around, and giving the VIP treatment to Icelandic Journalists. (Thank you Iain Richardson for sharing this story on Facebook).

As part of their packed itinerary, Visit Aberdeen will ensure the group enjoys ‘… a show round of Macleod House and Trump International Golf Links in Balmedie’. Now you might think that someone somewhere at Visit Scotland would think twice about promoting this particular golf course, but you’d be wrong.

Perhaps a few relevant definitions might help.

Visit Scotland: (Modern English compound noun) a Smart Successful Scotland’s Tourist arm; another unelected quango.

In the dark ages, no one came to look at Scotland’s landscapes, castles, coasts or cities. Then, we created Visit Scotland. What do they do?

“Visit Scotland works in partnership to exceed visitor expectations. Its mission is to contribute significantly to the advancement of Scottish tourism by giving it real presence in the global marketplace, benefiting the whole of Scotland.

“We’ve a wide range of stakeholders, but our activities are defined by visitors’ requirements. Everything we do is based on sound research to make sure that we stay ahead of consumers’ ever-changing needs.

“We work closely with tourism businesses and other partners to make sure that their activities are aligned with the national strategy, and that we’re all working towards a common goal.” 

It’s good to know that everything they do is based on sound research. Otherwise, locally anyway, it might look like they keep using the same venues over and over. We’ll soon find out how much money they’ve spent at Trump; I’m sure that they use all of our local hotels and golf courses on a rotational basis. After all, they are bound to be fair with the taxpayer pound.

They claim that for every pound we spend – of the $50,000,000 million pounds’ budget they have – £20 is spent on tourism in Scotland. Yes, I’m sure they are fully responsible for all tourism in the country. If not for VS, who’d have come to Edinburgh, Glasgow, The Granite City, the islands, the lochs. Well done you!

The fact that there’s a national strategy is comforting. I suppose spending our money at a venue run by arguably the West’s biggest bigot sends the message the national strategy wants to convey.

So, it’s time to round up the Icelandic journalists and show them Scotland. By going to the placid haven that is Trump’s Balmedie course. Will they stop and point out the bunds put up to try and ruin Susie Munro’s views, gardens and spirit? Will they point out where the water mains, electric and telephone services have been ‘accidentally’ cut by the Trump construction crews?

Will they discuss how this successful venue has posted a financial loss? Should be very entertaining. Perhaps the sound research needs a dusting off, as does those ever-changing needs of visitors.

Tacit Endorsement: (Compound English noun) – to imply support for a person, cause or thing by actions rather than words.

I asked Visit Scotland why they’d chosen to go with the Trump property for this visit. They replied:

“Hi Suzanne. Our work with the Trump Organisation is solely in its role as an operator of premium golf resorts in Scotland and as such we would not comment on Mr Trump’s personal or political agenda. Thanks for your FOI request which we have received. A member of our corporate team will contact you directly about this in due course. Many thanks.”

I like the use of the word ‘premium.’ Well, you pay a premium for lunch there, anyway. I suggested:

“Very interesting. Visit Scotland doesn’t distinguish between Trump’s very public remarks and giving taxpayer money to his concerns, yet he’s been stripped of being a Global Scot for these remarks, as well as losing his RGU honorary degree. Perhaps time you rethink your ethics? You are of course condoning and encouraging him every time you give him our tax money, you do see that, don’t you.”

We mustn’t rush to conclusions though. Just because Visit Scotland takes people to Trump properties, spends taxpayer money at Trump properties, and endorses Trump properties is no reason to think that they are happy to have Scotland aligned with the Trump brand. Let’s wait and see if the next visiting dignitaries from the Middle East get taken to Drumpf Golf International.

I’m sure they’ll love meeting Mrs Bates to the extent that all the talk of banning Muslims and making then wear badges in the US will pass once she flashes those pearly whites.

Sure the guy wants to ban Muslims from entering the USA (Muslim American citizen population 3 to 7 million). Sure, he’s verbally waging war on Mexico, wants to bring back water boarding (nothing quite like it you’ll agree), and a bag of vipers would be kinder and more logical. But there’s money at stake. Besides which, VS would have to admit that endorsing him is a mistake.

In December last year, VS said:

“…that it has no plans to stop working with Donald Trump, despite a campaign to ban him from entering Britain because of his comments about Muslim immigration. Visit Scotland said that the tycoon’s two Scottish golf resorts were a valuable asset and attracted thousands of visitors from around the world as well as multimillion-pound investment.” 

The welfare of Scottish citizens living under the whims of Trump at Menie? Who cares? Not Visit Scotland.

Iceland Press Council: (Proper noun – er, Icelandic I guess) – a body governing principles and ethics of reporting in Iceland

This press junket whereby Icelandic writers come to Aberdeen will, I sincerely hope, involve their talking to Aberdeen Journals Ltd’s big wheels like Damian Bates. This is almost inevitable, as Sara Mrs Malone Face of Aberdeen Bates will be showing them round the Trump course. There’s just one problem.

Cultures vary widely from country to country. While we’ve gone all smart and successful here, not every country is up to our own standards. Covering up stories inconvenient to top advertisers, pushing the wife’s business interests, embellishing or suppressing stories to suit the powers that be: Iceland’s not got wise to any of these modern journalistic techniques at all.

They actually have a paper, Rules of Ethics in Journalism; it goes back to 1988. Thought I’d share some of it with you. Press and Journal; Evening Express writers may wish to look away now (if you’re still with me that is). Sorry, but I thought I’d put most of the clauses into this piece, just to show how much more advanced we are here than these idealistic Icelanders.

I’ve made a comment or two in square brackets in bold for the benefit of our local reporters, who probably need a laugh.

Clause 1. A journalist aims to do nothing which may bring his profession or professional organisation, newspaper or newsroom into disrepute. [OOPS!] He must avoid anything, which may be deleterious to public opinion of the journalist’s work, or damage the interests of the profession [OOPS!]. A journalist must always be honourable in his dealings with colleagues. [OOPS!]

Clause 3. A journalist observes the highest possible standards in gathering information, processing this information , and in presentation, and shows the utmost fact in sensitive cases [UNLESS THERE’S A GRANITE WEB, OR THE NEEDS OF AN ACSEF MEMBER AT STAKE ]. He avoids all that may cause unnecessary pain or humiliation to the innocent, or those who have suffered.

Clause 5. A journalist must do his best to avoid conflicts of interest, for instance by reporting on companies or interest groups in which he himself is involved [OOPS! – DAMIAN – ANY COMMENT?]. He must primarily serve the interests of the reader [DAMIAN?], and the honour of the journalistic profession in all that undertakes under the aegis of his job. [IS THIS OK WITH THE MISSUS’ BOSS?]

A journalist writes always on the basis of his convictions [OOPS!]. He makes sure not to confuse editorial material of clear informative and educational value, with advertising in pictorial and / or written form. [HA HA HA!] This code of ethics does not limit the freedom of expression of journalists who write, under their full name, clearly defined items in newspapers, e.g. criticism, where the writer’s personal views are of the essence. [IS THAT WHY SO MANY P&J / EE PIECES DON’T HAVE A BYLINE?]

Clause 6. Any person who believes that a journalist has offended against the above code, and whose interests are at stake, can make a complaint to the Ethics Committee of the Icelandic Union of Journalists within two months of publication, provided the item published is not the subject of court action at the same time. [REMINDS ME OF WHEN I COMPLAINED ABOUT A P&J PIECE. A FRONT PAGE AREA LABELLED ‘FACTS’ IN A HEAVY OUTLINE, CONTAINED OPINIONS. THE RELEVANT PRESS REGULATORS DECIDED THAT ANYONE WHO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE WOULD HAVE REALISED THAT THEY BOX LABELLED ‘FACTS’ WEREN’T FACTS AFTER ALL. FAIR ENOUGH]

So there you have it. Despite First Minister Nicola Sturgeon taking away Donald Drumpf’s Global Scot status, despite the Open saying that they don’t want anything to do with Drumpf, Visit Scotland’s going to plough ahead promoting the Donald’s ‘premium’ clubs. I guess that national strategy they talk about doesn’t give our Nicola a look-in.

On that note, I’ll take a minute to say goodbye to one of Aberdeen Voice’s founders, David R Guthrie. He passed away after illness and a wake was held on Tuesday. A colourful writer, musician, wit, and all-round good guy, he had his reasons for helping to found Aberdeen Voice. One of those reasons was assuredly Aberdeen Journals Ltd. In lieu of flowers, feel free to donate to Aberdeen Voice.

One of the things I liked about him was his love of Union Terrace Gardens. Another thing I liked: the man was not for sale or for rent. He never got a Maserati, but he had things that were actually valuable. Good night Dave, and thanks.

You might not like Aberdeen Voice – but we’ve exposed untruths. We’ve covered important stories the local press wouldn’t touch. We’ve spoken out against people like Trump, and we’re going to keep going.

PS – I asked MP Paul Flynn how he felt now about Trump, who continues to gain in the polls, and might wind up being President. Flynn of course was on the Petitions Committee, and opened the Parliamentary debate on banning Trump. He’d taken that extra step of going to the press some 9 hours before the debate to say he didn’t believe in banning Trump for hate speech.

No, let’s just take him round my constituency, show him how multiculturalism is working, and then he’ll instantly change his way of thinking – that was Flynn’s master plan. Doesn’t seem to be working that well.

Here’s what he wrote back to me:

“There are still e-mails coming in from the US on Trump. His fans are happy but they all seem pretty stupid. Sensible Republicans are in despair. They believe that he has shamed their party. They believe that If he is the candidate, Hilary will win. I persist in the belief that a country wise enough to elect Obama twice, would be foolish enough to elect Trump once. At the moment I am very much involved in other things. Any contributions I could make in Trump’s downfall would be insignificant.” 

Well, perhaps anything he could do now would be insignificant. But when he led that debate, had he brought up all the relevant facts (including actual US violence caused by Trump’s words), and done the petition justice, I wonder where things would stand now.

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Feb 252016
 

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

!cid_09815cd1948a4527a96e35e13ba3e785@Open-XchangeFred the Aberdeen Voice editor is furious that we didn’t win a single award at the North Press ball thingy that Sarah Malone went to earlier this month, and he’s making some changes around here. We’re going to follow Aberdeen Journals Ltd’s lead, and start having a smart, successful newpaper. In that spirit, before we get to this week’s definitions, just a few words.

I am pleased to announce the Old Susannah column now has an official spokesperson. Buff McCracker, pictured, is our newest hiring. He is last year’s winner of the ‘Face of Moneymusk’ competition.

Buff has a high school diploma (nearly) and has worked as a personal fitness trainer at ‘Fancy a Kip?’ Lodge. Personal trainers from Kip Lodge have gone on to get into all sorts of fascinating positions, and I am sure Buff will do the same.

I am sure you will welcome him to the column, and in his role as spokesperson, you will look forward to hearing his in-depth analysis of local, national and world socio-political issues of the day.

Reader Offer: 

Bottle OpenerThis splendid bottle opener is perfect for those bottles of expensive wine you drink after a hard day editing the paper.

Sprinting home in your Mazarati, no doubt you want to see your delightful wife greet you at the door with glasses, a bottle, and this exclusive bottle opener.

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We start our trip on the A96 in a bus, and will stop at some of the finest B&Bs in the area, while looking at fields of rapeseed, and what kinds of farm vehicles we can spot from the bus.

Meals not included.

£1,999 per person.

Showbiz Exclusive!  Local sleaze merchant shares lift for 2 minutes in Los Angeles with Rock god David Grohl.

Tony Cockroach says he’s met every A-List celebrity there is, possibly even Sarah Malone. Gosh I’m jealous. He’s been in the same lift as David Grohl! Result!!!! Did they have a conversation? No, but. Did they have anything in common? No, but. Was Grohl impressed that the man in the lift was from Aberdeen AND owned strip joints? No.

Singha SteveBut he was from Aberdeen, and he was in the same lift as David Grohl.

Full story and pictures on pages 2,3,4,5 and 27.

(Old Susannah was formally introduced to Mr Grohl on the occasion of the first ever Foo Fighters UK show, at the Brixton Academy, quite a while ago. He was cool. Old Susannah was – until now – being cool by not making a big deal of it. But we did briefly speak. In today’s modern newsroom, clearly this is big stuff by EE standards. So now you know. And no, I wasn’t so crass as to start photographing or filming the man).

Read more about it here! Really! Tally ho!

Send us your story – sheep on the road?

Did your daughter come in 7th place in a spelling competition? Did you get your heid stuck in a bin? Did you find the image of Kate Dean in your buttery? Anything like that with pictures – call us and we’ll put it in the next paper. Up to £2 per story paid.

RowiesRollsPancakesthmCompetition! Aberdeen’s Prettiest Rowie!

Send in your Rowie photos, and the most beautiful Rowie will be bronzed, and kept forever as a beautiful keepsake! Your photo with your Rowie will appear in the next issue!

You can vote for your favourite Rowie by calling our special hotline – calls charged £0.99 per minute!

And with that, one or two definitions

Pro Lifers:

Who’s against life? Why no one I know, except for some zombie films, it’s safe to say many people are in favour of living. But the pro-lifers have some ideas they want the rest of us to sign up to, and I thought I’d best get their unbiased, professional advice.

I looked for them at the anti-war demonstration. But they weren’t there.

I tried to find them protesting the nuclear weaponry we’ve stockpiled which would wipe out half the planet. But they weren’t there.

I thought I’d find them helping to save the refugees drowning in the Med, but there was no sign of them there.

I thought they must surely be protesting the death sentences carried out in some countries, but there was no trace.

I thought they would be in the drought-stricken countries trying to feed the starving, but they were not there.

They were at the abortion clinic. They were at the family planning centres. They were at the chemists where women can get the morning after pill.

It’s not the living they want to save. They want to tell women not to have sex. They want to tell people not to use contraception. They want women to bear children whether or not the women are able to look after these children, can afford them, are adult enough to be responsible for new lives. They want the raped women to carry their children.

They don’t want you to do anything that doesn’t adhere to the moral codes they have signed up to, and they want to make you bend to their will. They don’t acknowledge that each and every single pregnancy is life-threatening to the mother. They don’t want you to know that women from prehistory to the current day engaged in family planning by taking herbal medicines to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

Pro life? Absolutely! Some might think this lot are a bunch of would be controlling, nosy, women-hating dictators who were not interested in the living whatsoever and hated sex and didn’t want anyone to have any. But they’re just telling us what the right thing to do is, and I’m sure you’ll give their message all the attention it is due. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14210094.display/

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Feb 202015
 

One hundred columns ago, Old Susannah wrote on the theme of how propaganda permeates our media and government, and how it’s used by the powerful to steer us and to blinker us. Times haven’t changed. By Suzanne Kelly

DictionaryIt’s been a confusing week in the Deen; it’s been very hard to read the signs. Not least the signs pointing the way to the tourist board. An eagle-eyed local restaurateur (and pal) Steve Bothwell noticed that signs near the green point people in the wrong directions; those who wanted tourist info are merrily sent the wrong way.

If only we had some way to fix this problem. Word is those responsible for this error are planning to solve the problem by having the tourist board moved to a location near where the sign points.

All things considered, I think we’re on our way to being a modern, major Scottish city like Edinburgh.  We may still be able to escalate the St Nicholas House/Muse plans into our own Holyrood.

Holyrood of course was a well defined, precisely-run, on budget project which created the lovely building which fits so beautifully into the existing architecture of Edinburgh. If the building leaks, creaks and looks like its facade was drawn badly on the back of an envelope by someone using their foot and a crayon that just means it’s adventurous.

Perhaps we’ll yet have our own Tram scheme; we did have a councillor in the last administration calling for a monorail. Again Edinburgh handled that wonderfully well.

But as we learned this week, Edinburgh’s taken property management to a whole new level this week. Mandarins in the council managed to sell the historic Parliament building:  the only problem was that it didn’t actually own it – Edinburgh’s citizens do.

Or should I say Edinburgh’s citizens did own it. Scottish property ownership expert Andy Wightman’s account of this imaginative sale can be found here.  Aberdeen readers may be interested to know that the property in question was considered common good. At least you wouldn’t find anyone around the Granite City trying to appropriate common good land, Wood you?

Back here in the Glass City – sorry – Granite City, the Lord Provost decided that a motion to stop the Muse project was ‘incompetent’. It’s good to know the city is continuing to stop incompetence wherever and whenever they find it. Perhaps they want a word with the people who put up the tourist board sign though.

If only there was some way for the city to see whether or not people wanted a glass box or green space. Perhaps if a few hundred people protested, lobbied and campaigned. STV has a little poll going on; and while it’s a close-run thing, about 90% of people don’t want Muse’s glass box building.

Some people felt they were slightly misled over what would and wouldn’t happen to the St Nick’s site.  While it’s not like a politician to ever mislead anyone, perhaps a few propaganda-related definitions may remind us that once in a blue moon, we should question the information put before us.  And with that, a few definitions.

Emotive: (English adjective) Condition of having feelings and impulses not associated with logic or fact.

One thing we can’t have is people with feelings getting in the way of those who don’t have any.  The favoured propaganda tactic  to quash these Emos is to call them names, even if this paradoxically implies that those doing the name-calling are being aggressive, bullying and abrasive.   This is a strategy beloved of the SNH for those of us who want to find means to manage our environment without killing animals unnecessarily.

The Scotsman’s headline set the tone last week, portraying the people and organisations opposed to deer culling as ‘angry’. You see, if you’re angry – you’re emotional. A good headline should set the tone of the article to come.

I hope no one will be embarrassed by how emotive I got in commenting on this Scotsman article, but here is a comment I made:

“It’s disappointing that so many of the comments on this page have to sink to insulting those who oppose the cull. I’ve been studying for some years now the draconian proposals and guidelines that SNH have created about deer populations. You could be forgiven for thinking that the latest SNH guidelines were written by the pro-hunting lobby. In Aberdeen, a hill which supported a few dozen deer for decades with meadowland and gorse had no starvation issues.

“The roe deer live a short span, and foxes are well known predator as are man (we had five deer poached last year in the area I’m talking about – Tullos) and dogs. The SNH now says a herd size for this hill will be only 3 or 4 animals. The SNH don’t explain how this can be a healthy gene pool – how could they? Anyone who protests the punishing guidelines is, as comments on here show, insulted and denigrated.

“The fact is it is becoming a nice little earner to turn meadowland into forest; my city has spent at least £200,000 so far to transform Tullos – when several thousand residents signed a petition to leave the hill alone. In the mean time, SNH last counted 19 deer in the entire city green belt and urban fringe. We won’t have any deer left if the SNH’s position goes unchallenged.

“The people who manage private land may also be forced to kill more deer than they think is sensible. When there are humane ways to control deer numbers, why are we choosing culling as a first and only option? No it is not scientific and has no historic basis at least in my area.”

What caused this gushing show of emotion on my part? Here are some of the rational, measured comments made on the article by pro deer culling people:

“The animal rights groups made a big fuss about “game management” claiming that it was cruel, akin to killing Bambi…sound familiar? Now the deer have over-populated and are starting to starve to death. It pays to listen to the experts who know what they are doing and disregard the sappy tree huggers.”

“These animal charities are notorious for attracting vicious and malevolent people, and so I hope the people of Perthshire will keep an extra-careful eye on them.”

and

“We can thank these so called animal rights nutters for releasing Mink into the wild and all the damage they have done to our natural wild life…. These campaigners should be prosecuted for promoting animal cruelty, because as has been said by many others below, the deer population is out of control and many die slowly of starvation and disease…..”

Well, that’s me told. Heaven forbid the pro-culling posts were orchestrated or that people who hid behind pseudonyms were part of the authorities trying to convince the rest of us that if you’re against deer culls you’re being emotional. Heaven also forbid that the SNH had issued any press releases that fed into the line the Scotsman chose to take. That would never happen.

Being emotional is of course a major failing in a person in this day and age; if you do somehow have any emotions left after the constant bombardment we’re subject to of violence, racism, misogyny, animal abuse, best keep those emotions hidden.  You see, if you have any emotional reaction to something, then this means you are incapable of exercising any logic or intelligence. The two can’t be separated. Therefore, if you are against deer culling, you are unintelligent.

In this week’s papers we’re told that the subject of sentencing is also ‘emotive.’  You don’t say.

Happily, all sentencing in Scotland is proportional, measured, and no favouritism is ever shown to the powerful, the police, or the famous. I still fondly remember how a local policeman was cleared of looking up info on his ex regarding a drug case. The court found someone else must have accessed the data – using the accused’s password.

No doubt the police are looking for the real culprit – someone else in the force with the accused’s password who would have wanted info on the accused’s ex. Makes sense to me.

Not only is sentencing emotive, it can also be complicated. I’m as amazed as you are. Happily, the government is setting up yet another board, and no doubt sentencing, which the likes of  you and I can’t hope to understand of course, will be handled just as fairly in the future as it is now.

The Government in fact is committed to making justice ‘FAIR, FAST AND FLEXIBLE JUSTICE‘.

Well, it can be fast. It certainly is flexible. I guess two out of three ain’t bad.

Misinformation:

How do you get your own way in politics? As is the case here in Aberdeen, by persuasion with facts and reason. However, on the rare occasion the public need to be guided just that little bit more.

Back when the new St Nick’s proposal was first launched at the city’s art gallery (itself soon to be closed for a few years for a tasteful destruction of its marble stair and for a portacabin tm to be plunked on top of it), a consultation was held. It was wonderful to see the pretty drawings. Obviously though, the details were meant to be left to the architects of this city’s current architecture – our planners and those with big chequebooks.

With the people we have controlling the master (?) plan, many of whom have important titles like ‘Dr’ and so on, we’ll be the rival of Washington DC, Paris and London in just a few more years. If not, we may wind up twinned with Milton Keynes or Redditch. Anyway, I wrote to the city with my (emotive) criticisms of the scheme. In due course, I was invited to give a 5 minute deputation to the full council (Result!) on what I thought was wrong with the scheme.

A whole 5 minutes – and all I had to do was spend the entire day off work hanging around in the Town House.

I wondered – Should I take a day off work, buy a new frock, get a Valerie Watt spray tan and have my nails done and come and make a speech for 5 minutes? No doubt concerns of traffic congestion, pollution, architectural concerns, etc. would have won the day.

I called someone at the council and we discussed the pros and cons of this deputation. The word on the street as it were was that the decision to build glass boxes on the former St Nicholas House site was metaphorically set in stone. I could come along, but in the view of my contact, it would not make a difference. I don’t want to get my source in trouble; like me, they had been told it was too late to make any change.

We both believed this to be true. So I declined my chance to bring up a few emotive issues about St Nick’s former site.

Fast forward a few months, and it seems both my source and I were misinformed. The city won’t lose a hundred million pounds if we say no to the current design.

The future of the site has seen one or two little changes since that consultation at the art gallery.   Today the story is that we’re getting that glass office after all.  Somehow this will revitalise our retail sector, cure baldness, and make billions of jobs.  I wonder what the story will be tomorrow.

Yellow Journalism: (org. USA  – compound noun) Sensationalising or fabricating stories in order to both sell newspapers and to influence opinions.

This term hardly matters in today’s modern, well-informed age, but just for historical interest, here’s a word on yellow journalism.  In  days gone by newspaper giants Hearst and Pulitzer were fighting for supremacy in the US market, there was the occasional bit of creative licence taken with the facts.  A fight for a cartoon strip featuring ‘the yellow’ kid – a very popular feature – lent its name to a kind of journalism where facts don’t get in the way of a story, where hatred can be inflamed to influence opinion, and where the powerful are pulling the strings, often distracting people from the truth by the use of sensationalism, propaganda and misinformation.  This was the time of American expansionism, and a few little wars here and there.  Isn’t it great to be in the enlightened age?

As described on one website:

The rise of yellow journalism helped to create a climate conducive to the outbreak of international conflict and the expansion of U.S. influence overseas, but it did not by itself cause the war.

“In spite of Hearst’s often quoted statement—“You furnish the pictures, I’ll provide the war!”—other factors played a greater role in leading to the outbreak of war. The papers did not create anti-Spanish sentiments out of thin air, nor did the publishers fabricate the events to which the U.S. public and politicians reacted so strongly.”

Of course, a newspaper editor has several responsibilities to balance. One – to make lots of dosh for the shareholders. Two – to take lots of dosh for the sponsors and advertisers, who must be kept happy at all costs. Three – to make people buy the newspaper in the first place. It’s a tough job.

Remember the giant Evening Express headlines about ‘packets of white powder’ being found on an offshore oil installation? The implication was it was illegal drugs, and the paper milked it for all it was worth. Alas!  it was only cold medicine. You’ll remember the paper’s headlines announcing it had made a mistake. Or perhaps not.

Some papers such as the Daily Mail are subject to similar creative embellishments. Emotive headlines are a great way to get facts across to us emotive, slow-witted people, especially about immigrants, benefit scroungers, foreigners and other kinds of undesirables. It’s also a good way to sell papers.

News Blackout: (modern English compound noun) To deliberately withhold news and information.

If they don’t know about it, they can’t be upset about it. Whether it’s the P&J veritably ignoring stories about Donald Trump having underworld links, sometimes it’s best to have a media blackout. We’ve all those hoards of incoming tourists to think about, and Sarah Malone needs a new pair of Choos. Best a newspaper editor is selective with what stories they print.

That’s the case these days at London-based news institution The Telegraph.

The paper is just a little on the conservative side, and its rational, balanced, live-and-let live owners, the Barclay Brothers, have been doing a great job of livening things up.

Once the paper of choice for Tories it’s far more inclusive now, with stories about women with three breasts (that wasn’t quite true). Any story about business profits, exam results, you name it is usually dressed up with a picture of a pretty girl – and of course all the guys like their news served up like that. Private Eye magazine has cruelly made fun of the paper’s use of ‘fruity’ girls, and accuses the Torygraph (as PE calls it) of ‘dumbing down’.

It’s not really dumbing down if you decide not to trouble your readership with stories that are either boring or complicated (which is pretty much the same thing).  Take for instance the stories circulating about HSBC (‘the world’s local bank’) being somewhat in a pickle, the Telegraph decided that it wasn’t much of a story. So there are some questions about the bank’s operations, a wee black hole in its books and its Swiss offices being raided by police and the like.

HSBC has also apparently helped wealthy people avoid paying tax – that’s hardly news is it? While the rest of the UK’s papers were covering this story, the Torygraph was ignoring it. It’s almost as if the Barclay Bros had rich, powerful interest to protect – but surely not.

I’m certainly not suggesting that the government, quangos, media, police and our local politicians are manipulative, self-serving, devious or dishonest – heaven forbid. But I am beginning to have my doubts.

Next week- an updated who’s who of the great and powerful of city and shire.

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]