The LibDems safeguarding your money

It’s the European Parliamentary election on Thursday so we’ve been getting the usual steady stream of political party leaflets through the door.

Liberal Democrats flyer showing man putting card into cashmachine.

I was just about to throw into the recycling this one from the Scottish Liberal Democrats when the photo of Sir Menzies Campbell MP and Iain Smith MSP standing at a Royal Bank of Scotland Cashline (ATM) machine caught my eye.

Here it is enlarged:

Sir Menzies Campbell with man not using cashline machine properly.

Can you spot what the problem is with this photograph?

It would appear from this photograph that our local Member of the Scottish Parliament doesn’t know how to use a Cashline machine. He’s trying to poke his bank card into the slot that the money comes out of!

Look! According to this illustration from the RBS website there’s even a diagram on the machine to show you where to put your card, along with the written instruction “Insert here”:

(Source: RBS MoneySense for Schools)

I’m presuming that the Liberal Democrats’ policy for introducing international action to safeguard your money doesn’t simply rest on their inability to use the machines that would help them get the money out of the bank again!

The gas hits the fan

Blue gas flame

This post is related to this post: Mum’s hassles with British Gas.

I spent this evening writing a carefully worded letter to four people:

  1. Mr Sam Laidlaw, Chief Executive of Centrica plc
  2. Mr Phil Bentley, Managing Director of British Gas
  3. Mr Alastair Buchanan, Chief Executive of Ofgem Scotland
  4. Mrs Rosalie J Saunders

A word of explanation:

  • #1 is the chief executive of Centrica, the company that owns British Gas — the company that’s causing #4 quite a lot of distress
  • #2 is the managing director of British Gas, the company that’s causing #4 a lot of distress, and that is owned by the company that #1 is the chief executive of
  • #3 is the chief executive of Ofgem, the watchdog that tries to make sure that companies such as that run by #2 (which is owned by the company that #1 is chief executive of) don’t screw over kind, law-abiding ladies such as #4
  • #4 is quite distressed because the company that #2 runs (that’s owned by the company that #1 runs) are sending threatening letters demanding that she pay her bills … even though she’s set up a direct debit with them

Actually, I’ll break out of bullet points to further elaborate on this.

Since August, when Mum moved in, she’s had numerous unpleasant and threatening letters from British Gas. Some are addressed to her personally, some simply to “The Occupier” (even though they know that she owns that flat)

Some letters have the correct address and postcode, others don’t. And there have been no fewer than four customer reference numbers!!

It’s as though British Gas’s left hand doesn’t know what its left hand is doing. I’m utterly disgusted by the lack of customer service. And so I’ve written to these people in the hope that it will lead to a resolution of her situation.

I’ve also advised Mum to telephone EnergyWatch and get them involved too.


In the end, everything was eventually sorted out and Mum stopped getting worrying letters. The accounts were sorted out and British Gas apologised.

Thanks to the diligence of whichever British Gas customer services employee finally took my Mum seriously and looked into the details of her case and actioned them… that action alone helped restore my faith in British Gas. That is the power of good customer service; that is good marketing.

Mingus eyes

Menzies Campbell

I’ve always voted Liberal Democrat — at election time I’ve always been places where the Lib Dems had the best candidates and the best policies (as far as I could see): David Steel, Simon Hughes, Charles Kennedy.

I’m also a big Richard Thompson fan. By which I mean that I’m a big fan of Richard Thompson — not a fan of “Big” Richard Thompson.

So when I heard that Sir Menzies “Ming” Campbell, CBE QC (who is also Chancellor of the University of St Andrews) stepped down from the leadership of the Lib Dems I’ve had this song going around my head:

What a fool I was. What a thin disguise.
Brando mumble, Mingus eyes

Was a time she fell, but then she got wise
Brando mumble, Mingus eyes

I never had the squint of James Dean, or the Stanislavsky tears
Or the rebel hunch that kills, or the smile that slowly disappears

What a fool I was. What a thin disguise.
Brando mumble, Mingus eyes
Brando mumble, Mingus eyes

(Richard Thompson, “Mingus eyes” from Mirror Blue, 1994)

What can it possibly all mean? Is there a message in there?

Do the Lib Dems need to elect a new leader who has the squint of James Dean, or the Stanislavsky tears? Would they even be allowed to use their killing rebel hunch in the House of Commons? What will it take to make their smile slowly disappear?

I for one am keen to find out …

Lars Ulrich (Metallica) on democracy

This is a refreshing view of Lars Ulrich of Metallica speaking openly and honestly about democracy: Lars Ulrich from Metallica on democracy.

The video was filmed by a group called Why Democracy? who asked the Danish drummer ten questions on his views about God, democracy, and systems of government.

The ten questions asked were:

  1. Who would you vote as President of the World?
  2. Can terrorism destroy democracy?
  3. Who rules the world?
  4. Why bother to vote?
  5. Are women more democratic than men?
  6. Is God democratic?
  7. What would make you start a revolution?
  8. Can democracy solve climate change?
  9. Is democracy good for everyone?
  10. Are dictators ever good?

Just in case you’re worried, his answer to the last question was no.