Reflecting on 9/11 – New York

Approaching the 20th anniversary of the attacks, I like many others, have been reflecting on 9/11 and New York.

My family and I were on holiday in New York in the summer of 2001. It was our first trip back to the USA since we had left from living there in February 1998. Little did we know, as we visited the sites, what would unfurl a few weeks later. There are some photos below, including a couple from 2008 when we returned via a cruse ship sailing at dawn into New York

Missing Towers
NYC 2008 no towers

One summer morning, we queued by the elevators to reach the Top of The World observation deck on the 107th floor. It was not a bright blue morning sky that greeted us. Not like the blue we saw in the pictures weeks later. It was cloudy and hazy. A day or so before, we had been at the top of the Empire State looking across the city at the towers. Now, we looked the other way and watched the ants in the squares below. Virtually every view of the city contained the iconic landmarks.

The Attack

We were back home in UK, when like the rest of the world we watched in fascinated horror as the buildings were hit and then fell. I was at work when others called me to look at the news coverage. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Like many others I thought it was a plane accident to start with. We’d watched the planes heading along the Hudson river. Stared out the windows at the cityscape as we flew into JFK a few days before. Then, the second plane hit and there was no doubt.

There were phone calls home and concern about relatives and friends who may or may not be in New York and Washington. I had former US military colleagues in the Pentagon (all safe it turned out, but some close shaves). Many contacts who visited New York. Then, there was the fear of an attack in the UK.

Air Defence

I was quizzed about what might be happening. My new civilian work colleagues of just a couple of years, knew I had been in the RAF and some knew that was in Air Defence. Our office was adjacent to an airfield. I could imagine the scrambles of jets and alerts rushing round the system. I could imagine my RAF colleagues manning consoles and radars, as they tried to check every single plane flying in and near UK airspace. Just in case the conspiracy was across the world.

I stated loudly in the open plan office, that the USA ‘would go to war over this.’ My comment was met by some disbelief. I had no pre-knowledge, other than my time serving directly with the US military. Such an attack could not go unpunished. I had seen intelligence from a few years before. It was used it in classified lectures I gave that mentioned the rise of Islamic extremism, across the World. Nothing specific to an attack on the USA. There had been attacks earlier that year and in previous years. The signs were there. We didn’t know until much later, how much the CIA knew and failed to tell the FBI.

The Holiday

When we stood atop the towers looking at the stunning views, it was just a spectacular visage at the start of a holiday. New York was very crowded and not suited to our young children. They were more used to quiet country towns. As parents, our heads were full of keeping an eye on the children, where we should eat, and the travel plans for the next few days. Central park was a notable exception of tranquillity.

We headed West from Newark to LA, in the following days to visit friends near San Diego. A few days later, we went to Tucson with more friends before a trip to the Canyon and Vegas. We flew back from LA to London. The children went back to school. My wife and I with our respective jobs. I’ve posted some photos, with the addition of a couple from our next visit in 2008 including driving past the then construction site.

The mess that Afghanistan became, has been highlighted with the chaotic withdrawals this summer, The anniversary of the attack that sparked the NATO invasion is not just a twenty year mark.I t is something that happens every day and every year for those who lost loved ones in the attacks.

Many Anniversaries

It’s not just 10, 15, twenty or eventually 50 year occasions. It’s every birthday or wedding anniversary missed. Children’s graduations and other events missing a parent’s attendance. Then, we have the anniversaries of those that lost loved ones or had them returned injured in the wars that followed; highlighted in recent weeks with the events and more deaths in Afghanistan.

Now, is not the time to comment again on the fallacies or justifications of those wars. Instead, I can recall a happy holiday. The gasps at the views and famous landmarks lost. The other pictures I haven’t posted, of my young children, both now grown adults with my daughter living and working as a teacher in the USA.

Skylines have changed, children have grown, yet twenty years have gone in what seems a blink of an eye.

A New York Return?

One day, we’ll probably head back to New York. We were in DC driving past the Pentagon in December 2018. Maybe we will visit the new One World Trade Centre and take a ride to another observation deck. I know I will think back then to other towers and similar, but different views.

The new landmark may be very tall but is perhaps less distinctive than the former twins. If we go, we will certainly visit the memorial. Save for a couple of weeks, we could have been on top of the towers watching the hijacked planes head for us. Our names could be on that list. It was not a close escape but one of several weeks. Luck of time and distance, as many things in life are.

A colleague of mine was sailing towards New York that day. He was due to visit the Towers on the 12th. He spent a few extra days on the cruise ship before they were flown home when flights resumed. I have colleagues who visited the towers regularly. More worked in the Pentagon or they were frequent fliers on internal US flights criss-crossing the country for work or pleasure. I know others who were on-board planes at the time and the fear that swept though them. I was in an office, not where I had been a few weeks before.

A time for reflection, a time to mourn, but also a time to be thankful that I had the experience of standing in the breeze looking at the Statue of Liberty.

The South Downs Way – Happy walks in Natural England

We (my wife Lisa and I) have finally completed the South Downs Way on Friday 16th July having originally commenced it on 25th May 2019! My knees may never recover as The Seven Sisters took their toll.

The map and elevation guides above show the route from Winchester in Hampshire, England through to Eastbourne in Sussex. During the walk we gained one dog, several pounds in weight and two years in age including one with a zero for me. We lost the year of planning to complete the route in 2020 due to the global pandemic.

Many will do the walk faster or complete tougher/longer walks. We have done tougher individual climbs Helvellyn in the Lake District a notable previous trip.

I’ve created a full gallery page which you can find here with all the photos and more than are in this blog. The scenery is stunning, the natural world and wildlife is wonderful. It’s not as exotic as Borneo or Costa Ricabut a lot closer to home. For the quintessential England of rolling hills, and patchwork colours, it’s hard to beat.

We used the excellent pocket guide, South Downs Way by Jim Manthorpe & Daniel McCrohan which helpfully splits the route into legs travelling West to East. The reverse is also available for those wanting to travel East to West.

Start
Only 100 to go!

We started off in May 2019 with the aim to complete that summer but as usual life got in the way and we had only completed 70 of the 100 miles from Winchester by the end of November 2019. We drove away from Pyecombe on a bright but cold early winter’s day when the short daylight hours limited further attempts. We stopped for the winter expecting to restart in Spring 2020. Well nothing restarted until July 2021. We managed to book some accommodation for now two dogs and two adults. Not easy at best of times as few hotels, B&Bs or cottages are available that take dogs and cottages. (They wanted a lot of money and a week’s booking too.)

The walk is full of stunning views and panoramas:

Panorama
Clear day

In November 2019, we had managed two days in a row with calm weather even if cold and despite arriving in the dark. Going downhill at dusk can be fun – not. We split two days walking with a stay in the South Downs Way B&B Poynings (Very Good). The B&B lies in the valley off of the walk and therefore not at a start or end point.

B&B Poynings

Previous days we had driven to the day’s end point then taken a taxi (dogs allowed booking) back to the start point. On one day, for Leg 4, we had taken the train from Amberley Station to Chichester, and then a bus to a start point in the lay by ending from Leg 3. These were new experiences for Merlot our then 9 year old lone tricolour border collie, since joined by his great nephew Malbec. Both MastaMariners

Merlot Bus
A bus and a train all in one day – woof!

Leaving the car in a lay bys or car parks to be reclaimed with tired and muddy walkers and one dog at that time, is fine if the journey back home is about an hour. As we ventured further east the trip out and back increased, traffic and weary bones starts limiting the enjoyment so more planning for overnight stays and therefore hopes of good weather.

We were lucky on nearly every occasion. On only one day did we have heavy rain at any point and that was on Leg 2 when despite a reasonable forecast our luck did not hold.

Then again there were days with glorious weather, too warm to walk and the problem of water. The heat of summer did lead to some spectacular sights.

Sunflowers

There were occasional unexpected stops

Fishing River
Fishing river but a cafe too!
Cafe
Welcome break

Finally in July 2021 we were able to re-start and complete the walk. Two nights staying in the centre of Lewes (pronounced Lew-is) at The White Hart (Needs some TLC). This covered Leg 7 – which was a long leg. Some great views but one very long concrete paved track down hill into Southease followed by a train back into Lewes. Even Malbec making his debut was not impressed.

COncrete and Puppy
Down and down to Southease

We ate local meals in the centre with an accompanying local beverage. The beer had to travel across the road!

Beer Lewes
Harvey Beer from Bills

This was followed by two nights in Eastbourne at the York Hotel on the sea front (nice with a pool and a sea view in a large room!). The legs had fabulous scenery and increasing temperatures.

There is a choice for walkers for the last leg, inland or down to the coast. We chose the coastal route. The leg was tough going covering the walk to the coast from Alfriston, past the Litlington White Horse (across the valley) through to Seven Sisters Country Park and then the Seven Sisters themselves and Beachy Head. A lot of up and down in a roller coaster path, for which the ticket entry was painful knees and more blisters.

Chalk Horse
Litlington White Horse
River mouth
River Cuckmere
Seven Sisters
Belle Tout Lighthouse in the distance
Lighthouse
It finally was closer
Eastbourne
One more hill
The end
The end

Finally a suitable toast with my beautiful wife to complete the walk

Toast

Legs

Leg 1 – Winchester (elevation 20 feet at Riverside) to Exton – 25th May 2019 – 12 Miles / 19.5 km – two main climbs Cheesefoot Hill 577ft and Beacon Hill 659ft

Leg 2 – Exton to Buriton (Queen Elizabeth Country Park) – 15th June 2019 -12.5 miles / 20 km – Butser Hill 886 ft

Leg 3 – Buriton to Cocking – 16th July 2019 10.5 miles / 17 km – Beacon Hill 794 ft

Leg 4 – Cocking to Amberley – 3rd August 2019 – 11.5 miles / 18.5 km – Bignor Hill 738 ft

Leg 5 – Amberley to Steyning – 28th November 2019 – 10 miles / 16 km – Chanctonbury Ring 771 ft

Leg 6 – Steyning to Pyecombe – 29th November 2019 – 10 miles / 16 km – Devils Dyke 673 ft

A long break….

Leg 7 – Pyecombe to Southease – 14th July 2021 – 14.5 miles / 23.5 km – Ditchling Beacon 814 ft

Leg 8 – Southease to Alfriston – 15th July 2021 – 7.75 miles/ 12.5 km – Firle Beacon 712 ft

Leg 9 – Alfriston to Eastbourne (Meads) Coastal route – 16th July 2021 – 10.5 miles / 17 km – Beachy Head 538 ft

Sailing Clear Is Free on Kindle

To celebrate the release of the sequel Sail Chains, my book, Sailing Clear will be free on Kindle from Saturday 19th June Midnight Pacific time through to Monday 21st June – get it while you can.

Sailing Cover

Sailing Clear
Missing girls, missing money, missing man, luxury motor yachts and the people chasing them.

An old MI6 undercover mission to prevent terrorists entering the UK via sex trafficking routes went wrong. The undercover agent is assigned to a new role.

A man lost in the shadows manages the hidden finances of the security services but dreams of a better life sailing the Mediterranean. When he runs off he is hunted, but he may have been killed by an organised crime leader. The police are assigned to find him.

Two sisters run away to Greece from the sexual abuse of their father.

The characters intersect as the hunt commences. Then the security services need to find options to deal with the fallout.

The undercover agent now in her new planning role is assigned to trace the missing financier, but a corrupt cop may give them all away

Sail Chains is Published

Sail Chains is published today

Available as a Paperback and on Kindle as an e-book. It is part of the Sailing Clear series and a sequel of sorts to Sailing Clear but can be read as a stand-alone. As it provides a tale heavily connected to intelligence systems run by the NSA and GCHQ, there is a forward in the book which can also be found in this blog post

Sail Chains Cover

Captain Tom Larring barely escaped alive from a mission in Afghanistan. He now has another task. Effi Miani has been undercover in the Middle east but is needed for the same operation. Together they must find Bravo-One-One who is the highest priority target for MI6. He is believed to be building a chemical weapon in Northwest Pakistan. A previous MI6 operation has already failed. A leak or a traitor inside MI6 may have destroyed that mission, so extra precautions must be taken otherwise, this team will also fail.

Tom and Effi need a faultless back story before embarking on their mission. The operation needs financing and a cover story. The help of a former disgraced MI6 officer, Michelle Houston, and her lover, Hugh Turnbill, is sought. They successfully control the laundering of black funds for the security services whilst sailing clear of the security services. Some of the MI6 leadership wants to gain direct control of the money and the couple, despite previous agreements. They want that control regardless of the risks to the operations in Pakistan. They think they may get leverage using two former teenage runaways connected to the couple.

The hunt for whoever leaked the information continues. Suspicions are raised. The internal security team needs to prevent the traitor putting the financiers and the operation at risk. An MI5 team is on the trail of a suspicious Saudi diplomat. He may be connected to Bravo-One-One.

Closed missions should not be re-opened. The NSA and GCHQ are monitoring and tracing communications using secret programmes and techniques, but some secrets should not be shared with allies.

Government Snooping Chains

The NSA and GCHQ Programs provide insight into government snooping chains. This blog also provides a forward to my book Sail Chains. The current focus on surveillance and privacy is based on the actions of Facebook, Amazon and google. The allied western intelligence agencies do much more. Previous blogs

Secure communications, tracking, and other jargon is used within this tale. The descriptions are based on real techniques used in Information Technology and Intelligence Surveillance. Some are described below to avoid lengthy passages of explanation in the narrative of the book and here in this blog for public edification.

Five-Eyes

Five-Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries are parties to a multilateral agreement which is a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence. It is a wide ranging agreement and includes facilities in each country including the Government Communication Headquarters, GCHQ, in Cheltenham, UK, and the National Security Agency, NSA, with its HQ at Fort Meade in the USA. Both organisations also carry out their own operations and programmes. Many of these programmes were known in small parts to the media and hence general public; however the extent of these programmes was not well known until the revelations leaked or stolen by Edward Snowden.

GCHQ

GCHQ
NSA Signpost
NSA Sign post

Legal restrictions in all Five Eyes countries are supposed to restrict or prevent gathering of information on citizens. Secret courts, FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) in USA and CMPs (Closed Material Procedures) in UK provide legal cover. Parliamentary or Congressional scrutiny is very limited. In many cases the elected representatives or their advisors do not have sufficient levels of security clearance to see the material about the programmes let alone the technical understanding of the implications.

The NSA is not supposed to spy on US citizens without a warrant but they can collect data about US citizens whilst spying on foreigners. In one example 90% of the data collected in one sweep was about US citizens (>9,500 citizens out of 11,000 contacts). In this way GCHQ can spy on US Citizens and vice versa and each can pass data to the other through the Five Eyes and not be subject to any scrutiny. It is clear from multiple sources that this spying is not just on threats but also on journalists, whistleblowers and multiple other targets that the security services have decided are legitimate targets.

Snowden

The main details were leaked by Edward Snowden to two reporters Barton Gellman who published via the Washington Post and Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian. A film maker, Laura Poitras conducted interviews and also acted as a go-between, especially between Snowden and Gellman during the initial contacts when source VERAX was making contact. Many of the electronic copies of papers and programme details remain unreleased by the journalists. The NSA and GCHQ continue to deny many of the details, see here


STELLARWIND

was the code name of a warrant less surveillance program begun under the George W. Bush administration’s President’s Surveillance Program. The National Security Agency (NSA) program was approved by President Bush shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks and was revealed by Thomas Tamm to The New York Times in 2004. STELLARWIND’s output is fed into the MAINWAY database

PRISM

PRISM is a code name for a program under which the NSA collects internet communications from various US internet companies. The NSA had placed collection systems directly in the data centres of the large tech companies including Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook and others. Due to the nature of Internet routing many non-US connections route or partially route via the data centres. Thus privacy campaigners use Virtual Private Networks, VPNs, and other techniques to mask their messages. These techniques are also used by enemies including terrorists.

MAINWAY

MAINWAY is a database maintained by the NSA (and Five Eyes partners) containing metadata for hundreds of billions of telephone calls made through the four largest telephone carriers in the United States: AT&T, SBC, BellSouth (all three now called AT&T) and Verizon. The existence of this database and the NSA program that compiled it was unknown to the general public until USA Today broke the story on May 10, 2006. It is estimated that the database contains over 1.9 trillion call-detail records. The records include detailed call information (caller, receiver, date/time of call, length of call, etc.) for use in traffic analysis and social network analysis, but do not include audio information or transcripts of the content of the phone calls.

Contact Chaining

Contact Chaining is a method of querying data held in MAINWAY to produce contact maps and then using associated algorithms of contacts of a target several levels away e.g. secondary, tertiary and beyond contact of contacts of contacts. Because MAINWAY holds historical data, officially 5 years worth for US citizens but with many caveats, previous contacts can be traced. Exceptions to deletion are any link to on-going or security investigations. This gives rise to an exponential increase in potential contacts. If the first contact has ten contacts and each has ten more and these in turn have ten more at 3rd degree of separation there are now 10x10x10 = 1,000. Most humans have far more than 10 contacts thus chains become very large very quickly. The game 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon, the US Actor, demonstrates this is more humorous ways.

Algorithms are used to reduce the numbers or combine them into groups. This data is then combined with other communications data, for example, social medial posts and email, to build up a contact map. The seed in this case is the initial target or intercept which by correlating with another seed B. Contact C is thus linked in the chain.

Or a real one shown by the US news programme 60 Minutes

NBC Real Chain

Any one of these contacts or nodes could be the enemy that is sought or allow movements, locations and activity patterns to be tracked thus enabling potential targeting for surveillance or more direct action. Sometimes the enemy is unknown. The node shown is a phone, email address, social media handle, website, which the technique attempts to link to an individual or organisation. A phone number of a head office could be used by hundreds of contacts. How the data is processed into MAINWAY with other named systems mentioned is shown below:

Mainway Dataflow showing Government Snooping Chains

Enemies attempt to hide this activity by changing contact methods, encryption of the content of messages and other evasion techniques. For the NSA and GCHQ they are also tasked with creating method of protecting data from such intercepts by foreign powers or bad actors. Other techniques such as operating cell techniques can founder with just a single contact under the chain. Thus operational security measures are overcome. For example two terrorist cells with a leadership planning a coordinated attack can be linked.

CO-TRAVELER

A system called CO-TRAVELER is designed to track who meets with whom and covers everyone who carries a mobile/cell phone, all around the world. CO-TRAVELER collects billions of records daily of phone user location information. It maps the relationships of mobile/cell phone users across global mobile network cables, gathering data about who you are physically with, and how often your movements intersect with other phone users. The program even tracks when your phone is turned on or off.

TOR – Protects from government snooping or does it?

Tor is free and open-source software for enabling anonymous communication by directing Internet traffic through a worldwide overlay network. It consists of more than seven thousand relays designed to conceal a user’s location and usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis. Using Tor makes it more difficult to trace the Internet activity to the user: this includes “visits to Web sites, online posts, instant messages, and other communication forms”. Tor’s intended use is to protect the personal privacy of its users, as well as their freedom and ability to conduct confidential communication by keeping their Internet activities unmonitored. It was created by the Office of Naval Research and DARPA as a security protection project and the papers from Snowden demonstrated that the NSA had managed to set up infiltration into the network.

VPNs – Encrypt channels of communication thus protecting chains but not that a connection exists

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are encrypted channels between one or more network points. They normally use some form of shared encryption key between the end points thus preventing interception of the communication content; however, the metadata (data about data) can still be traced including locations, of end points, times of transmission, etc. Therefore, STELLARWIND can collect this data and deposit into MAINWAY for use in Contact Chaining. If a phone is used as the data connection CO-TRAVELER can match locations and obtain more metadata in addition to location and other data sources nearby.

GCHQ

GCHQ has a different set of names achieving the same ends see here. This shows the applications CARPART, PRIMETIME, SNAPDRAGON, MoaG, SORTING FRIENDS sending data into a system called CHART BREAKER, and onwards into CONTACT LENS which is the Contact Chaining output from MAINWAY and CHART BREAKER

SQL for Sequels

Mixing my topics today and probably confusing everyone in the process including me.

SQL stands for Structured Query Language a method of querying databases to find results but often used to describe the database itself. It is normally pronounced sequel hence the connection.There are several databases that call themselves SQL including Microsoft’s larger server based system, right down to SQLite Personal Edition running on various operating systems. Why is a SQL database on my mind? Because my sequels are causing me problems.

Part Three of the Demise Conspiracy, An Agent’s Prize, Part Two of The Observer Series, Intervention and an as yet unnamed sequel to To The Survivors currently named TTS2 by file name. What has this to do with databases. Characters that is what. Characters and timelines and scenes. Of course it’s all my own fault for trying to write several books (not just these) at the same time, but now I have added to my problem. Which character appeared, when, in which book, and do I need to explain their role or half the story of the earlier parts.

As I have previously blogged, I use Scrivener to write and it is an excellent system to list characters and scenes within a manuscript. I have tried importing all the characters over from the earlier parts but that just makes the lists longer. What I need is a clever database that tells me when, where and in what context I wrote about the character or the scene. In other words i need to add all the meta-data and link all the appearances of the character in Scrivener. I also need to know how much I should cover of the earlier story in order to have the current actions make sense. Not sure any tool can help with that. Many might say it did not make sense in the first parts!

Currently, I end up re-reading long sections of the earlier books, using Scriveners’ tool set to find the relevant section, but then comes the real problem. I end up wanting to change the original for grammar, construction or even plot to fit in with the next part’s scene. Oh if only I had written it differently, called the character something else, not killed off xx. God knows how longer series writers manage. Did  J K Rowling have a database of Harry Potter characters? Now, if I had a database of all my ideas, characters etc there would be one place to go. This would avoid one section I just had to change where I used the same character name in two different manuscripts.

So clever database designers get on it. Get me a SQL database with the right easy to use queries so that I can look it all up. My writing would increase in speed, I could effortlessly cross reference and the world would be a better place.

Of course I could just get better organised get the sequel written without SQL at all.

Not An Election Post

Aside

Not an election post was written in April 2015 ahead of the general election in that May

I was making a major effort not to write about the election. With this I have just failed – sorry.

First rant on the way is about coverage. This is a vote for MPs standing in 650 constituencies across the UK. The MP once elected is supposed to represent all the constituents not just the minority that actually voted for the individual, whatever the rosette.

Second rant, concerns who we can vote for. I cannot vote for David Cameron, Ed Milliband, Nigel Farage, Nick Clegg or any of the other party leaders. They are not standing in the constituency in which I live. They are not standing against each other either. The constant portrayal by the media of the battle between them is factually and practically wrong. Another reason why the TV debates were farcical. Yes, as leaders of their parties they may be involved, if re-elected by their constituencies, with one exception for one leader.

Nicola Sturgeon is not actually standing for Westminster but she seems to be the only focus of much of the coverage. She is so convinced that she knows what is right for the UK she has decided to stay as an MSP. This fact has not even received any coverage – democratic deficit anyone? Her former boss Alex Salmond is standing (after allegedly retiring). This reminds me of Putin becoming Prime Minister so that he could comply with re-election rules in Russia before returning as President. Is there something the SNP is not telling us?

It was supposed to be a six week campaign leading up to the vote on the 7th May but thanks to the new fixed terms it seems we have gone straight from the Scottish referendum into the General election. As I have previously covered, when discussing the referendum, the media seem to be totally focused on the role of the SNP and the likely results in Scotland deciding what the rest of the United Kingdom should do. Whereas, in the referendum we had over 6% of the electorate deciding whether to breakup the UK we now have the potential for the similar 5% deciding who governs. The lower percentage is due to the 16 and 17 year-old’s who could vote in the referendum but cannot vote in the General Election.

At the end of the 2010 election we had the Liberal Democrats forming a formal coalition with the Conservatives who were by far the largest party and had the largest share of the UK vote. The Conservatives missed out on forming a non coalition government by 23 MPs. The SNP in its public statements has already ruled out any support for a Conservative led government (although in the Scottish Parliament the SNP has in the past relied on Conservative support).

The public statements have been made by Nicola Sturgeon the SNP leader who is not even standing in the election! She next stands for election in 2016 in the Scottish Parliamentary elections. Therefore, she is saying that regardless of the result in the rest of the UK she will not support potentially the largest democratic vote.

Of course combined with Labour, the share of the vote may well exceed that of the Conservatives, but previous results have shown this not to be the case. Boundary changes were supposed to correct the anomaly. Scotland’s 5% of voters 9% of population equates in Westminster MPs to 9% of MPs (59 out of 650). Polls seem to indicate that the SNP may win over forty of these, predominantly from Labour. As with public sector spending per head Scotland seems to be batting above its position. UKIP proposes to change this position by reforming the Barnet formula for devolved spending. Of course UKIP may have some MPs itself to support or otherwise any planned coalition.

Meanwhile the polls tell us it is too close to call but that some informal or formal arrangement nay have to exist. Labour has said no to any formal coalition with SNP. Liberal Democrats have said they will work with anyone depending on the results. The Conservatives only talk about overall majorities. If the Conservatives do have an overall majority will the SNP respect the democratic decision of the majority of the voting population?

Enough politics I have books to write!

New Book Description For Landscape

Aside

There is a new book description for Landscape

She is a PA who dreams of running her own art gallery. He is an IT technician gambling away everything he wants. They meet and fall in love. Their relationship is threatened by endless bets even whilst they share their love of paintings.

Years later some dreams are fulfilled others are dashed. Will the former lovers meet again?