2069 Focus on Scotland: The legacy of the STAG Party and MacTech

Sunday October Twenty Seven 2069

This week we take a look at Scotland in our series of articles looking around the Former UK (FUK) States. A general conclusion is that the Scottish Universities are thriving after a long period of instability and uncertainty.

Emerging from the mist.

Scotland currently has twenty seven higher education institutes. Seven of these are in the Russell Provider Group (RPG) having joined in the wake of the ‘incident’ in 2019. These are subject to the vigilance of the Office for Learner Provision Scotland (OfLPS) and linked to OfLP that regulates the other RPG Universities in the rest of the FUK States. Another twenty are part of the Alliance of Independent Providers (AIPs) that is privately financed and not regulated.

The AIP institutes have positioned themselves well to take advantage of the implementation of the Leisure Time Directive of the Western European Confederation. This will see compulsory ‘Life-long’ education plan announced earlier by the Re-Education Minister in England, Karl Corbyn Junior III. The aim to educate all citizens to the age of sixty will boost their student numbers on part-time courses (see earlier Timeline 2069 ‘Radical lifelong leaning plans announced’). A new contract with the Scottish Government to cover fees through the National Access Number (NAN) Levy will guarantee their commercial future. The Scottish First Minister, Charlene Caviar of the Socialist Conservative Alliance Movement (SCAM) Party Scotland, said that she fully supported the initiative that “would bring a new beginning to the people of Scotland”. The RPG Universities will see similar guarantees for some of their courses, however the general ‘no-fees’ policy will continue for the majority of students with high entrance qualifications. Although the philosophy is somewhat similar, this stance diverges from the rest of the FUK States .

Separate states and political confusion.

It became clear that a fully independent Scotland was not viable as the then UK finally disintegrated after the ‘incident’. The solution that emerged was a loose alliance of Former UK States and Ireland that traded with each in the aftermath of the collapse of the European Union. This finally led to the Western European Confederation of twelve states being headquartered in Dublin. A bid by Scotland to lead the Confederation was quickly thrown out at the time. The SNP government brought about its own downfall by unilaterally forcing an independence referendum as the EU collapsed. This descended into farce when a social media consultation was started to find a new name for the country. The public overwhelmingly rejected the SNP preferred historic name of ‘Alba’ for ‘Scotty MacScots Place’. Support for the emerging alliance of states was the result. The chaos of minority governments that followed did not affect Scotland in the same way. After the referendum was lost, the Socialist Conservative United Momentum Party or SCUM Party formed a government in Scotland in the backlash. However, this was short lived since their natural base was in England and the idea of a SCUM government from England did not meet the aspirations of the Scottish people. A similar broad ‘rainbow’ coalition of smaller parties in Scotland instead emerged as the Scottish Tartan and Gaelic (STAG) Party that took took control. It’s downfall in the last election in May was forming an alliance  in recent years with the FUKSI (Former UK States Isolation) party, led by Nigel Larage, that took control of the FUKS. Now, the Socialist Conservative Alliance Movement (SCAM) Party has a solid majority in Scotland and across the FUK States after the May election.

The political uncertainties that defined a generation.

Before the ‘incident’ the position of all universities in Scotland was already becoming precarious. They depended entirely on the good will of the Scottish Nationalist Party majority government. This is because fees were not levied on students from Scotland and there was too much reliance on students from outside Scotland paying fees. Core research funding from then UK government was protected to some extent and some universities in Scotland were exceeding expectations in many technological areas.  

The ‘incident’ came as a shock and  did not spare Scotland’s Universities from the chaos and collapse of funding that occurred across what was then the UK. One of the last things the SNP government did was to impose strict conditions on no fees for students. Only those with the highest grades were provided with this advantage. The number of students was regulated by setting a high hurdle for those applying and the numbers matched closely the very basis financial needs of the RPG universities. If universities wanted to take more students, then they were free to apply their own fees if they wished. Those universities that joined the AIPs were compelled to do so to take advantage of the AIPs organisational structures that were expanding across the world. Students with lower grades could apply for a series of loans and bursaries independently through the AIPs. Getting behind the ramparts of the newly formed AIPs saved many institutions from going under and they eventually thrived. The RPG Universities were more cautious but were less exposed to the higher education market.

Technological innovation and radical developments save the day.

The decline in research income led to the Scottish RPG Universities sliding down the world rankings. However, the positions in the recent World Academic Combined Key Information Evaluations, published by Sun Higher Education (SHE) and dubbed the WACKIE races by most academics, has shown a marked improvement. This has been in the background of a general decline in rankings across the FUK States. The inventions and investments developed in recent years appear to be paying off slowly. To offset the loss of research funding from the disintegrating UK, all of the RPG universities in Scotland formed a collaborative technology hub called ‘MacTech’. This was a structure designed to assist in speeding up their commercial developments and companies. An explosion in the number of companies spinning out of the campuses led to record investment in novel technological ideas. The expected high failure rate (82%) of the companies was offset by the MacTech structure and the smaller number of companies that turned out to be highly profitable. Every company paid high rental and lease fees to MacTech and did nor own much in terms of assets if they dissolved. This made MacTech itself a profitable enterprise.

The Scottish universities working with MacTech made significant and world leading breakthroughs. A notable example is the ultra compression Virtual Hologram System (VHS) from Dunedin University in Edinburgh. This enabled hologram lectures and speeches to be easily broadcast across the existing ultra-interweb broadband. A high definition data profile of the person is sent as a binary package prior to a live transmission. The streaming data for the transmission only has to make limited changes to movement of the image and sound during the broadcast. This has changed the educational experience of students across the world who can see leading academics perform 'live' in virtual reality. It has also netted Dunedin University ₿ billions in license fees.

The one black mark against the commercial developments was that most of the hundreds of companies that failed were supported by a venture capital enterprise in Canada. This had acquired investment funds from the recently exposed Provider Institutions Superannuation Scheme (PISS). The irony is that the PISS pension loss has only affected staff in the AIP Group of Universities whilst the RPG University staff have seen a windfall from their pensions (see
University Pensions Scandal: Who's taking the PISS?)

By Alex MacSockeye, our Scotland Roving reporter.

University Pensions Scandal: Who's taking the PISS?

Sunday October Twenty 2069
A major uproar has started today about the Provider Institutions Superannuation Scheme (PISS) that provides pensions for those working in the Alliance of Independent Providers (AIP) universities in the Former UK states. It seems that the shortfall in provision for existing pensioners, and those retiring this year, has reached a critical level. An investigation by the Former UK States Pensions Regulator (FUKSPR) has also revealed further dubious practices by the PISS pension fund managers that may ultimately lead to criminal charges. The chair of the independent investigation, Professor Sir Harry Eastwood, said that it’s as bad a scam that he has ever seen, “On a scale of one to ten, I'd have to give it a two, and that's because I haven't seen a one before”.
An old story.

The fund was started in 2028 in the wake of the ‘incident’ of 2019 when the universities, that now comprise the Alliance of Independent Providers (AIP), all came under private investor management and were no longer under the watchful eye of the Office for Learner Provision (OfLP).  They formed a new pension fund called PISS to replace the existing pension funds such as the Provider Universities Superannuation Scheme (PUSS) that was struggling to meet its commitments at that time. All staff in the AIP universities were given a substantial pay rise of 20% if they agreed to transfer to the new pension scheme. However, many did not realise that it was a so called ‘defined contribution’ scheme that was not as secure as the ‘defined benefit’ scheme of PUSS that guaranteed a set pension linked to inflation.  But further scare stories about PUSS led most to opt for taking the PISS instead.  They were now at the mercy of the markets and would only receive pension pay outs that could not be guaranteed.
As far back as 2032 there was an inquiry into the investments of the PISS fund. At a time when fossil fuel was being phased out, the PISS fund managers recklessly poured millions into a scheme called ‘Convent Energy Services’  that supported continued servicing of older diesel power generators. The regulator at the time could not trace where the funds had gone and suggested that it was “time for something completely different”. However, there was no legal action taken and things continued as before under the then chaotic government pf the time.  

A new take on an old story.
Now it has emerged that the PISS fund managers had for some years been investing in a Western European Confederation States (WECS) growth fund that is based in Luxemburg. It turns out that over 50% of the PISS assets had slowly flowed into this fund with a PISS poor return. Veteran academic and Economist, Professor Mike Swamp, formally of the University of Middle England (a leading member of the AIP) uncovered the situation last year and brought it to the attention of the pension’s regulator. It seems that all of the WECS Growth fund was instead being transferred to a risky venture capital fund in Canada.  Most of the ventures went bankrupt within two years with assets disappearing as far south as Los Angeles. Some observers suspected that the property boom in the hills north of LA was partly fuelled by the transfer of these assets. The situation at this point is critical and pension pay outs are under strain just when many of the original investors reach their planned pension age. The CEO of the Higher Education Providers Union (HEPU), Sally Forth, said that, “With the state pension age now at eighty years old, there is a terrible shortfall in provision for the PISS pension generation if they retire early at seventy. The situation vindicates the warnings issued back then to those taking the PISS as an option. PISS was a poor option then and it still is”. Unfortunately many academic staff did not join the union when the AIP was formed and HEPU is now not in a position to assist those in serious financial trouble.  One recently retired professor from an AIP university, who wished to remain anonymous, said that she was, “moving from her comfortable home in Cheshire to a caravan park in Clacton in order to release equity to be able to survive”.  We observed that there were hundreds of similar retired academics living in the same caravan park and others like it around the country, but those we asked refused to be interviewed.

Meanwhile a Bitcoin windfall for the PUSS generation.
Nothing could be more starkly different than the position of academics retiring from the Russell Provider Group Universities. These universities had remained under the regulation of the OfLP and, despite lower pay and higher pension contributions to the Provider Universities Superannuation Scheme (PUSS), their staff remained loyal. However, in 2034, a much younger economist Dr Mike Swamp decided to check the figures of PUSS in detail.  Although he later moved to an AIP university, he retained his contributions to PUSS and membership of HEPU.  His actions were triggered by the move to Bitcoin (₿) as the universal world currency. For years it had been assumed that the PUSS scheme was in considerable deficit (then £32bi) and risking the possibility that it could not meet its future liabilities.  The strong position of the £FUKS against the ₿ prompted a look at the premium the move to this currency might release to the fund.  In the end it turned out to be nearly a 20% windfall but still could not plug the widening deficit gap. But Swamp then discovered that there were serious errors in the algorithms in the revamped FECEL software used to model the PUSS fund’s projections. It seems that there had been confusion about the use of commas, semi colons and colons in the selection of data in the columns used for income calculations. This went as far back as the models used before 2018.  In replacing “,” with “;” it seems that some “:” were also replaced. This led to large quantities of income in several columns not being counted in the projections. Once this was revealed and recalculated, the PUSS scheme was found to be over-provided to the tune of a staggering ₿2.3 trillion.  Accusations that the 'mistakes' were willful in order to discredit PUSS were made but no investigation was carried out and it was not proved. 

Legislation intended to protect such pensions meant that a readjustment of payments by the RPG employers was not allowed and the scheme just kept expanding. This became so alarming that the RPG universities encouraged their staff to retire as early as 60 or sooner so as to bring the asset expansion under control. The resulting windfalls were excessive by any standard. One recent retiree, Professor Richard Bonehead, said that it was a chance to fulfil a life-long dream to race ultrafast superbikes. Speaking from his hospital bed after only one practice lap at Monza on his expensive 250 mph all electric Samurai 7000SuperX, he said “I regret nothing” before fainting again.  

Similarly, married Professors Erin Dors and Henry ‘Merthyr’ Jones said they were going their separate ways. Former archaeology academic, Professor Jones admitted that exploring the Aegean in a powerful motor yacht “might have been a mistake, but it was Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory as he was towed from a remote island beach by a Greek Coastguard vessel. Meanwhile Professor Dors was planning the next stage of her Prosecco inspired Spa Resort in California.  She has purchased a run-down motel in the hills near the Ventura Highway north of Los Angles and plans to run a communal luxury spa for retired female academics. This seems a long way from her position as a Professor of Ancient Greek Culture but she seems to be settling into her new role and said, “Some people think I am just being a dumb blond, well I aint dumb and I aint even blond”.

The last word goes to Professor Swamp from his Caribbean island hide away. Relaxing whilst leaning back on a sunbed sipping a Bacardi rum Daiquiri next to his personal 50m pool and bar,  he offered some sagely advice to those affected by the PISS pension collapse My attitude has always been, if you fall flat on your face, at least you're moving forward. All you have to do is get back up and try again”.
By Timeline 2069’s Financial advisor, Chuck Ponzi.

2069 Focus on Northern Ireland Universities: Nihil est omnia.

Sunday October thirteen 2069

Over the coming weeks, Timeline 2069 will publish a series of articles that examine the situation in the various Former UK States as a result of the major government changes coming down the line. The election in May, that swept the SCAM (Socialist Conservative Alliance Movement) Party to power across the FUKS, brought the situation in Northern Ireland into sharper focus.  Higher Education there is vulnerable to the whims of a government that is increasingly isolated from the rest of the FUKS; indeed the WECs (Western European Confederation) and the rest of the world. In contrast, both universities are striving to maintain links outside of Northern Ireland in an increasingly difficult environment.  The history of recent years is one of wasted opportunities.
Power struggle.
The overtly nationalist Sein Fein Party broke the political deadlock after the ‘incident’ of 2019 and formed a majority government by a small margin. Similar advances in Ireland to the south failed to materialise as an overall majority and the two main opposing parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael agreed a permanent merger to form what is now known as the Hibernian Equality National Party. They gained in popularity and strength under the populist banner of the HEN Party. They also forged close links in policy with the newly emerging SCUM (Socialist Conservative United Momentum) party in the FUKS that was itself a merger of the older Labour Party and the Conservative party. The main thing that each had in common was an opposition to extreme nationalism. Working together, they forged closer links with the Western Europe Confederation of States the eventually emerged as a new trading bloc in 2036 with Dublin as its headquarters.

National Pride before a fall.

In seizing power, Sinn Fein, were quick to capitalise on their grip in the North by renaming Queen’s University Belfast the Republican University Belfast or RUB. In the post ‘incident’ chaos this went largely unnoticed. There were some protests and scuffles but little more. The former Ulster University was also renamed the Six Counties University College, later to be renamed again as Carsonia University and expanded greatly.  But neither move changed the fortunes of either institution by much as they operated at funding levels well below their comparator universities in the FUKS and Ireland. As the Ireland economy expanded in subsequent years, and it became the wealthiest nation on earth measured as GDP per person, Northern Ireland slipped back.  The failure of the Sinn Fein government came as no surprise at the election in 2026.  No one party had a majority of over 10% and Northern Ireland operated without an effective government for the next 33 years. Then,in the 2059 election, the FUKSI (Former UK States Isolation) party led by Nigel Larage took control of the FUKS. This was only possible with the help of their sister party, the Northern Ireland Homeland Isolation League or NIHIL Party (a breakaway group from the now disbanded DUP that ruled before the ‘incident’). The newly formed NIHIL Party in Northern Ireland held the balance of power across the FUKS for the following ten years until May of this year. The reforming of the SCUM Party as the Socialist Conservative Alliance Movement or SCAM Party, provided to be a more serious opposition that swept to power earlier this year.

Universities under the Northern Ireland Nihilist government.

In taking control ten year ago, the NIHIL government immediately changed the name of the Six Counties University College to Carsonia University and also proposed to rename Northern Ireland as Carsonia. The naming idea was after the reformer and pacifist, Edward Carson,  who led Northern Ireland out of conflict in September 1912.  However, they failed in a bid to change the name of the RUB as Sinn Fein protests blockaded the institution for three weeks. The RUB then voted to split from government control and became a smaller independent private university reliant upon donations from Irish support groups in the recently constituted American Union of States. Meanwhile the NIHIL government diverted most resources into the newly named Carsonia University and promoted its expansion. 

Northern Ireland and compulsory lifetime education.

While compulsory education is to apply in the FUKS from the end of 2069, the position of Northern Ireland or Carsonia remains uncertain.  The HEN Party government in Ireland has agreed to join the SCAM government in the FUKS by initiating a similar scheme in Ireland.  However, the NIHIL government has remained silent.  Officials at the RUB have however been quick to react.  The CEO, Douglas Adams and his deputy, Wes Maguinness, issued a joint statement today, “We have been preparing plans to found satellite campuses in Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England.  The campus in England will be in the Emirates Triangle in North London. In Scotland it will be in the Hibernian quarter of North Edinburgh.  A suitable site cannot be announced for Wales at this point. In Ireland, we will partner with Maynooth Secular University to help it expand to over 50,000 students in ten years”. The move will enable students in Northern Ireland to link with the educational opportunities across the FUKS and Ireland. It will enable them to use their National Access Number or NAN in both jurisdictions; especially Ireland .

This is a bold move that has wrong footed the leadership at Carsonia University who have no particular plans to report. A spokesrobot from the NIHIL government informed us that there were no plans to expand Carsonia University further at this stage in response to the lifetime education bill as its "implementation is likely to be delayed." Interestingly, there has been no mention of changing the name of the NIHIL Party to the CHIL party.

Building for Isolation.

The NIHIL government has indicated that it intends to extend its isolation policy further. Speaking to Timeline 2069 from his refurbished ‘Key Largo’ residence on the shores of Belfast Lough, First Minister, Edward G Robinson, indicated that a wall building programme for enhanced isolation would take Carsonia to the forefront of advanced physical  security technology and make it world leading. In the light of this, it would seem that the RUB will soon be in direct conflict with the government as a result of their expansionist plan.  Using the slogan ‘We ourselves’, the NIHIL manifesto promised to build a solid and permanent wall between Carsonia and Ireland and block all trade across it.  Any goods and services would have to transfer via the FUK states only.  This has serious implications for students wishing to access their NAN in Ireland. Travel to Dublin and Maynooth will be via the FUKS, meaning the Port of Cairnryan or Liverpool by sea. Or by air through the massive Midland air hub in Brinklow, Warwickshire. All official internet connections will be routed through England. In response, Republican groups have issued threats to sever the sub-sea cables in the last few days with a statement, “If they want isolation – we will give them isolation”.  In the meantime, illegal internet routers have already sprung up all along the current border and only students registered with the RUB have been provided with the access codes necessary.

It seems that where there’s a will, someone will inherit the future.

Timeline 2069 Ireland Political Commentator, Jonathan Brisk.

Triumphant SCAM Party Conference 2069

Sunday October six 2069

The Socialist Conservative Alliance Movement (SCAM) Party Conference ended today on a high note.  It held its first triumphant party conference since forming the government. They were gathered in the massive Ultra Conference Centre in Cardington, near Bedford New Town, having swept into government across three of the FUKS states in May. The impressive size of the conference was only matched by the massive halls that were formally used to construct huge airships in the last century. This was the only indoor conference venue that could be used to accommodate the 25,000 delegates expected.  Refurbished ten years ago, Cardington UCC is the most modern and spacious centre of its kind in the Western European Confederation States (WECS).

A speech to end all speeches.
Prime Minister Margaret May delivered one of the greatest final day conference speeches of our times to a packed hall. She savaged the aspirations and record of the last government in typically brutal style. No stone was left unthrown as she condemned Norman Larage’s administration to the “composter of history”. “Larage and his rabid acolytes have been rumbled finally. No more threats to our western European neighbours by his Isolation Secretaries Boris Barking and Ronnie Robinson (Latterly Education Secretary) as we enter a new era….. The referendum on FUKSEXIT will never happen as the people have spoken”.  She reserved particular vitriol for the former Home Enforcement Secretary, Oswald Mosstone. “Mosstone is rolling no more. He and his irregular police will gather innocent people’s fauna no more. His fear tactics and network of surveillance will be dismantled”.  Student activists that long opposed Larage and Mosstone rose in unison and applauded loudly.

The education revolution.
The education brief of Re-education Minister, Karl Corbyn Junior III was to reinforce the commitment of the government to life-long learning, “from the incubator to the composter”. All citizens in the FUKS would be registered for compulsory re-education from ages two to sixty by the end of 2069 (see earlier Timeline 2069 ‘Radical lifelong leaning plans announced’). The speed of enactment of the legislation has astounded most observers. He announced that he would deploy the latest AI machines in government and the massive ‘Two Brains’ organic computer in Birmingham to check and model every aspect of the ‘Re-Education Bill’.  The original idea harks back to the failed attempt to introduce a National Education Service earlier this century. The ‘incident’ of 2019 meant that it was shelved along with many other social measures.

Now everyone will be compelled to register and engage in education for 20 hours per week. The will be allocated a National Access Number or NAN that will help them access resources online. He launched the slogan “Bored? Need someone to help? There’s always your NAN”.  This move is made possible by enforcing fully the WECS ‘Leisure Time Directive’ that limits working to 20 hours per week. To counter the increasing boredom, the SCAM plan is to direct everyone into more useful education. 

Oldman review revisited.
One aspect of the policy is driven by a detailed assessment of the workforce carried out two years ago in the little publicised Oldman Review. Prior to the ‘incident’ it was generally assumed that university and college provider academics were isolated from society and needed to ‘get out more’. They were subsequently forced to work outside of their academic environment for at least three months every year from 2022. This practice has persisted as a loose, and generally unregulated arrangement, since then. It also led to the university and college provider employers assuming their staff had independent earnings for three months of the year, even if they did not. This was a ruse to pay them for only nine months per year and cut costs. Under Sir Henry Oldman (93), the review concluded that the precise reverse was the case. Most university staff had worked hard to keep abreast of the radical modern developments. He called them the “Repositories of memory and wisdom and not just mere dictionaries”. He noted that “We must make up our minds to be ignorant of much, if we would know anything. Academics are a good example of this and are at the leading edge of ideas about social changes, science and new technologies”. In contrast, Oldman concluded that most of the workforce, that had qualified years earlier, carried on with what they knew from then and had little or no input of new ideas or training over time. This was particularly pronounced in senior managers in industry and commerce, as well as leading politicians, who had only a vague understanding of the novel developments emerging around them. The Oldman review recommended a radical reversal of the situation and compulsory re-education of everyone on a rolling basis throughout their working lives.

A new beginning for the SCAM Party.
The SCAM Party has its origins just after the ‘incident’ in 2019. An attempt was made to form a coalition between the then Labour and Conservative Parties to challenge the rise of extreme nationalism.  The party was first called the Socialist Conservative United Momentum Party or SCUM Party. This initiative failed to materialise in the chaos post ‘incident’. Instead an unruly parliament was inhabited by a series of independent MPs who were lobbying for one or other populist cause. With a series of minority governments trying to rule in this atmosphere, it became anarchic. For example, one important bill on social housing proposed by SCUM in 2026 could only be passed it if included free ice cream for all children on bank holidays demanded by three independent MPs.

The inevitable rise of extreme nationalism from this chaos came about when the FUKS joined the Western European Confederate States (WECS). Nationalists protesters tried to stop the Confederation forming and bitterly opposed the WECS headquarters being established in Dublin. Called the Former UK States Isolation Party or FUKSI Party, they rose slowly to dominate every facet of government. Under charismatic Norman Larage, they finally took their seats as a majority government ten years ago. This was with the help of their sister party, the Northern Ireland Homeland Isolation League or NIHIL party (a breakaway group from the now disbanded DUP that ruled before the ‘incident’). For the last ten years, FUKSIP has strained relations with WECS to breaking point. The FUKSI demise came in the last election when they promised to hold a referendum on membership of WECS if they were returned as the government in 2069. This was their undoing and was marked by the Isolation Secretary, Boris Barking, stating that “WECS is a betrayal of the people and I will run naked through a field of corn if we do not leave”.  Some observers think this finally swung the electorate to the SCAM cause eager for a good laugh. The elections in May were held simultaneously for the FUKS parliament and the governments of all of the FUK states independently. With the exception of Northern Ireland, who returned another NIHIL government, the SCAM Party had a landslide victory in all states. This is unprecedented and cements in place a government that can now take the country forward to forge greater links for most of the FUKS across the WECS.

And finally.
At the end of conference, Margaret May led the singing of the now traditional anthem of the SCAM party, ‘Dancing Queen’ composed by a popular Swedish combo, Abba, in the last century. The origins of this tradition remain unknown but some believe it goes back to an obscure event in pre ‘incident’ times. The delegates were in on their feet at once and singing and dancing along to the music. They swept from the hall at the end, still dancing and singing, into the Bedford New Town facilities and surrounding cornfields.

Amidst the immense joy, the now veteran journalist and commentator, Owen Jones, was heard to remark.

We all voted for them, sure what harm can they do?  Time will tell.

Origins of the Rees-Mogg Registry and world standardisation of units

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