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Big Business Rules!

Who really does govern the country?

From The Sunday Herald

A high-profile Scottish Government campaign to cut food waste had to be soft-pedalled to avoid offending the big supermarkets, a document leaked to the Sunday Herald reveals.

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Campaign staff were forbidden from advising shoppers to buy less food or to ignore “buy one get one free” (Bogof) offers because Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco were “extremely sensitive about this subject”. Winning their co-operation for the campaign had been “very difficult”, says an internal briefing.

Environmentalists have accused ministers of “selling out” to big business at the expense of pollution and waste. “You wonder which campaign will be neutered next in the supermarkets’ Bogof deal with the Government,” said Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends Of The Earth Scotland.

The campaign, launched by Environment Minister Richard Lochhead MSP last October, included TV, radio and newspaper adverts, social media and a travelling supermarket roadshow. The aim was to try to prevent people throwing away up to one-fifth of their food, which is reckoned to cost Scotland £1 billion every year.

Over two months, teams were recruited to staff stalls at major branches of Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco in Glasgow, Paisley, Falkirk, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness and elsewhere. They were equipped with branded bodywarmers, baseball caps and iPads and told to “engage as many people as possible”.

The strapline for the campaign was “shop smarter, waste less, save more”. But, according to the official 69-page briefing for staff obtained by the Sunday Herald, they had to play down the central message for fear of upsetting the supermarkets.

The rest of the article is here

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Fashioning Poverty

A disturbing story from today’s Daily Record about street riots in Bangladesh where clothing workers are protesting at conditions and wages as low as £9 per month.

This is how the article is illustrated

Apparently the protests started when a female employee was beaten up by her boss.

Whenever these issues are highlighted, the cheap fashion retailers like Asda and Primark are often quoted as the main culprits. When Asda are selling white school shirts for a £1 and Primark are providing 10 pairs of socks for £2 or a fashionable pair of jeans for £6 and under then it’s understandable that they become the main focus as the exploiters.
I wonder though if those workers in the third world producing for the more expensive designer brands fare any or much better?

I have a feeling I know the answer.

The solution often put forward is for people not to buy cheap fashion from Asda,Primark or the like.

Aye right.

That isn’t going to happen is it? and even if it did would it work?

I doubt it.

I wonder if the EU could legislate to make sure that Fair Trade rules were imposed on firms buying from third world countries? Then in negotiation with the governments of these countries get proper minimum wages in place?

Or are they too busy with pish like this to worry about human suffering on distant shores?

Present and Incorrect.

There are many things, dear reader, that I am rubbish at.

Drawing, most sports that involve hand eye co-ordination, most other sports,  making decisions (although I’m not so sure about that) and a whole host of other things spring to mind.

But the thing I’m worst at, and the thing I hate most, is shopping in general and buying presents in particular. It’s not a lack of generosity or anything, I’m just crap at choosing presents and coping with what’s involved in doing it. This has been thrown into sharp focus by Mothers Day . Actually I’m quite encouraged by clicking on that to see that the original modern concept of Mothers Day came out of a pacifist movement in the USA. However it has become the construct of card manufacturers, florists, choclatiers and many others since.

Like Christmas it’s another completely unnecessary marking of a day by superfluous consumerism.

However rather than try to reason with either my wife or mother about that (the old saying about discretion and valour comes to mind), I along with millions of other clueless sons, husbands and fathers set about trying to choose some gifts for this occasion yesterday. I’ve excluded daughters here. There may be exceptions but women in general have the ability, nay the knack of buying the right thing for the right person. Unfortunately my daughters delegated the task to me. Och! they’re still young.

I did go seeking out cards with them last week. Any card which gave the merest impression of being in any way “soppy” was greeted by my elder daughter with the exclamation “barf bag please dad!”.

I had intended getting something from one of my fellow small shops but I was working yesterday (typically I had left it late) and didn’t manage to get out before closing time at 5:30. So I was basically left with the choice of my two least favourite shops out of all shops.

Argos and Asda.

I detest Argos. It’s not even a proper shop – it’s a catalogue with a warehouse. Every corner cut and every competitor undercut. I did go in and have a look but it was a token gesture. I flicked aimlessly, cluelessly and without a scintilla of inspiration, through the pages for a few minutes and that was it.

So, Asda it was. The bastard son of Wal Mart. They actually employ a wee guy to stand at the door and smile and wave and say hello to people.

“Hello there!” said Tommy (for it was he) smiling and waving as I walked in. I’m caught on such occasions between sympathy and respect for someone doing a pretty difficult job and the uncontrollable urge to shout “Aw just go and take a good run and fuck to yourself!” and perhaps accompany it with some gratuitous assault or other.

The foyer area was jam packed full of flowers and plants in various stages of decay. Many of them were dyed in gaudy colours. All the bouquets might as well have had a big label on saying “Bought at supermarket/filling station on way home (delete where applicable) on them. Some of the orchids were actually quite nice but looked very delicate.

Up to the CD aisle it was, on the way picking up a wee filter coffee maker for a fiver. I’m the only one who drinks coffee in the house so a smaller coffee maker seemed a good idea. I looked at the CDs. Piles of rubbish especially produced or at least grouped together for the occasion. Compilations with pink covers called things like “Thank you mum!” “Hits for mums” “Twenty love ballads” and other horseshit.

Then, talking of horseshit, I spotted Rod Stewart’s new album. It’s a collection of Motown songs. Mrs Bigrab has liked Rod since his Faces days (ie when he was pretty good – before he met Britt Ekland about 35 years ago) and whilst I wondered if she’d appreciate this, it was getting to the desperate stage. Down to the books and I picked up one I thought she’d like, then a wee box of chocs and a wee plant display thing for my own mum.

Down to the front to pay in one of these self serve kiosks. “Excuse me sir there’s a queue!” said a young lad who seemed to be employed with the specific purpose of telling people there’s a queue. He wasn’t kidding. Just to get the opportunity to pay there was a queue of about twelve folk.

Eventually I got to the kiosk. An automaton guided me through the process. The coffee maker wouldn’t scan. The Rod Stewart CD, which I was trying to hide in case anyone thought it was for myself wouldn’t scan.

An assistant helped.

The machine wouldn’t accept my money.

An assistant helped.

Meanwhile in Wal Mart’s HQ they’re probably devising more reliable bar code readers and money grabbers so that they can do away with assistants completely.

I hope as the kids and I offer the pathetic baubles later that Mrs B might for a minute reflect on the horror that had to be endured to get them.

She’ll probably just smile, say thanks and think “What a pile of shit!”

I wonder if I should say “Like Christmas it’s another completely unnecessary marking of a day by superfluous consumerism.”

Do you think it’d work?

Only In Scotland.

From Today’s Scottish Sun. Not an April fool joke.

ASDA be blue ... Scottish Sun mock-up of how the Larkhall store could look

You can read the full (fool?) story by clicking on the link above. Basically, so troubled are the Rangers supporting Larkhall residents by the colour green that they are lobbying Asda to change their colour scheme to blue for a new store opening in the town. Far fetched? Well no not really, both Subway and Moss Pharmacy have already altered their colour schemes to exclude green in their Larkhall outlets.

One wonders if the stories about the ice cream vans playing ‘The Sash My Father Wore’ or calendars containing January, February, March March March have some truth!