Friday, 31 May 2002

Young entrepreneurs

These girls made a 20% return. They are somewhat better at business than Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown who has cost us 500 million pounds.

From the West Wing of the Blog House

Writing about Scotland's enterprise deficit, Tom Sunter of the Institute of Directors says:
Directors of companies need to set the standards for others to follow by adopting a professional approach to obtaining recognised business qualifications.
This line of thought immediately rang a bell in the Blog House. Consulting the administration's copy of Human Action by Ludwig von Mises, I found this quote:
It is not generally realised that education can never be more than indoctrination with theories and ideas already developed. Education, whatever benefits it may confer, is transmission of traditional doctrines and valuations; it is by necessity conservative. It produces imitation and routine, not improvement and progress. Innovators and creative geniuses cannot be reared in schools. They are precisely the men who defy what the school has taught them.

In order to succeed in business a man does not need a degree from a school of business administration. These schools train the subalterns for routine jobs. They certainly do not train entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur cannot be trained. A man becomes an entrepreneur in seizing an opportunity and filling the gap. No special education is required for such a display of keen judgment, foresight, and energy. The most successful businessmen were often uneducated when measured by the scholastic standards of the teaching profession. But they were equal to their social function of adjusting production to the most urgent demand. Because of these merits the consumers chose them for business leadership.

But as Mr. Sunter says, it is Scotland's new business start-up rate which is the problem. That will not be solved by producing more MBAs. What is needed is a huge cultural change and a slashing of red tape. Let's start by abolishing that pointless waste of taxpayers' money, the so-called Scottish Enterprise..

Thursday, 30 May 2002

Quote of the day

"Clever people get away with crime. Look at the government." - a policeman speaking on The Bill - ITV 8.45pm.

Travelling with Alistair Darling

Our new Transport Secretary is described here as having a "gentle wit." The only time I ever saw my local MP was about eighteen months ago on a flight from Heathrow to Edinburgh. As I passed through business class to the taxpayers' section at the back, I saw the man himself. He was reading the free newspaper and laughing loudly at an article inside. I looked back and noticed that he was reading a double page spread about the fall of Peter Mandelson.

The World Cup

I know that some of my English readers are mightily concerned about what Scots think about England playing in the World Cup. The latest polls show that 29% of Scots will support England with 18% in opposition. The other 53% couldn't care less about who wins. I can report that the Sunday morning 10.30am breakfast viewing in my local pub of England's first match is a sell out despite there being no alcohol served until 12.30!

More on religion in schools

There is an interesting letter in today's Glasgow Herald from Iftikhar Ahmad. He says:
Educating children against the wishes and demands of Muslim parents is a breach of their human rights and un-Islamic.

The state schools have been mis-educating and de-educating Muslim children for the past 40 years.

He is quite right about the "mis-educating" and "de-educating" in state schools but that's caused by the schools being run by the state in the first place. In Scotland, we have state-funded Catholic schools and state-funded "secular" schools and now others, like the Muslims, understandably want a piece of the action. The only moral solution is to get the state out of education altogether. When parents purchase education in the marketplace there can be a whole variety of schools, religious and otherwise, without any group feeling hard done by.

Wednesday, 29 May 2002

Unlimited oil?

What this means for the price of housing in Aberdeen or politics in the Middle East, I don't know. But it will drive the environmentalists nuts. Nice references to Simon and Lomborg.

Not quite

BRITAIN HAS ARMED JUST ABOUT EVERYONE says the headline. But not the British people of course.

Hoist by his own petard

Normally I would sympathise with a publican in this situation. But the guy's a local councillor and former head of licensing! The state has no business telling us when we are old enough to have a drink. If drinkers, of whatever age, commit crimes let them be punished for the crime, not for the drinking.

Reality reasserts itself

I remember two or three years ago when I often wondered why the FTSE index would jump up and down when none of the mainstream stocks had moved at all. It turned out that Vodafone made up something like 15% of the market value of the top 100 companies. My gut reaction - not my training in business finance - told me that something was wrong. Now, Vodafone has lost some two thirds of its former value. I'm sure it remains a good company but the "gut instinct" is often correct.

Tuesday, 28 May 2002

Meeting the public

Why do politicians attract strange people?

Donald Dewar

A reader has pointed out that our late first minister was an unusually large investor in the Tory privatisations which he and the rest of the Labour party did so much to oppose. But "he often wore freebie ties" - a true pioneer of socialism.

....and capitalism

There has been an outbreak of pro-capitalist letters in the Scotsman.

Monday, 27 May 2002

More on property rights

I was travelling on a bus in Edinburgh today when there was a loud cry from the driver. “Get your shoes off that seat,” he shouted to a woman sitting behind me. “You wouldn’t treat your own property like that. Put your feet down or get off the bus.” Muttering words never before heard by a blogger, she got off the bus. One up for the civilised guys.

Is what's good for GM good for Scotland?

George Kerevan thinks so. And surprisingly, so too may a "Liberal" Democrat minister.

Capitalism and Welfare

The letters in today's Scotsman from D.S.A. Murray of Dorking and John Webb of Sheffield make interesting reading.

Sunday, 26 May 2002


Andrew Wilson MSP supports Tom Hunter on entrepreneurship.

Flying high

I certainly hope that this happens. We need more private investment in Scotland's transport infrastructure.

Saturday, 25 May 2002

It's Saturday evening...... why not blog this?

A politician vandalised

I was saddened to read in the Glasgow Herald today that the new statue of the late Donald Dewar has been vandalised for a second time in just over two weeks. Before his death, Dewar was the First Minister in the Scottish Parliament.

I can’t help thinking, though, about just how much Mr. Dewar’s Scottish Labour Party has done to undermine property rights in this country. I wonder if Labour's hierarchy will draw any useful lessons from these incidents.

I remember it well....

The Scottish graduation ceremony of the Open University is being held in Glasgow today. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide a link to the list of new graduates published in the Scotsman. As fellow OU graduates, my wife and I would like to offer our congratulations to all who have succeeded in obtaining a degree in this most difficult of ways. Studying year after year for some fifteen hours a week while holding down a full time job is not easy.

Friday, 24 May 2002

At whose expense?

The letter in The Scotsman from Edward Means of California raises a good point about Edinburgh's Lord Provost campaigning in the US on behalf of the Democrats. I would like to know if Scotland's taxpayers paid for this trip.

Who owns the borders?

Writing in the Daily Mail today, Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith says that "Not one Sangatte migrant should be let in". Look here for a radical analysis of immigration which is proving controversial among libertarians.

Thursday, 23 May 2002

An attack from south of the border

No, it's not that one. This shows that we are living in ever more interesting times.

Save the Gardens

This guy is spot on. If Freedom and Whisky can obtain the support of its readers, shareholders, bondholders and indeed the international investment community, we shall consider making a hostile bid for Princes Street Gardens. After the inevitable victory, the Gardens will be left exactly as they are.

A caveat

In the previous post I had, perhaps rashly, assumed that the new Scottish Parliament building would be complete by the year 2038, thus allowing the Kirk to re-enter its premises.

The dinner opposite the Mound

F&W was very pleased to have been at the dinner mentioned in SIMON PIA'S DIARY in The Scotsman today. From the dining-room we had a wonderful view across Princes Street to the Church of Scotland building - now temporary home of the Scottish Parliament - in which Maggie spoke fourteen years ago. I look forward to the fiftieth anniversary dinner in 2038 when we shall be able to look over Adam Smith Street (formerly Princes Street) to the floodlit headquarters of Church of Scotland Plc, the planet's largest charity and beneficiary of the worldwide collapse of welfare states.

Rapid Transit

Over on UK Transport, Patrick Crozier writes about the Dublin Area Rapid Transport, or DART. It's a nice service. I've also travelled on the Bay Area Rapid Transit - BART in San Francisco. What I would love to see here in East Central Scotland is a Forth Area Rapid Transport.

Wednesday, 22 May 2002

The omnipotent state

Another F&W reader, Bruce Crichton, sorts out Jimmy Reid.

Will the sun rise tomorrow?

Roland corrects Jimmy Reid's "philosophy"

A more moderate solution

Roland Watson has a different approach to the problems faced by Scottish football.

Tuesday, 21 May 2002

An elegant solution

It’s understandable that Rangers and Celtic want to play on a bigger stage than that offered by the SPL. Nevertheless, the English and European football authorities make sense when they insist that clubs play in their own countries. I have a simple and elegant solution. Large, Berlin-type walls should be built round Ibrox and Parkhead. The land inside should be ceded to England. In exchange, we get Berwick back. The Old Firm can then play legitimately in the English First Division and eventually in the Premiership. Of course, the walls should be constructed when the “fans” are inside the grounds. Whether they are ever granted visas to re-enter Scotland is a matter of conjecture.

Another EU bust-up?

Berlusconi criticised for censoring Frogs says the headline. Oh! - it's not that kind of Frog!

”Thinking about the unthinkable”

I’ve just noticed a story in yesterday’s Glasgow Herald telling us that Tory MSP Brian Monteith thought that his party should consider a coalition with the Nationalists in Edinburgh. Monteith sees this as a possible consequence of a future Tory government in London introducing “full fiscal freedom” for Scotland. The SNP adamantly refuses to have anything to do with the Conservatives but many in the business community are coming to see advantages in Holyrood being responsible for its own spending. It would be ironic if the SNP entered government in this way after pandering to the left for so many years.

Self-belief not dependence

I was pleased to see an article in today's Glasgow Herald by Tom Hunter who is one of our best entrepreneurs and founder of Sports Division. Writing about the latest phase of the Schools Enterprise Programme which helps children to learn about entrepreneurship, Hunter says:
Why is that helping us to become an enterprising nation? Because the only way to shift from a dependency culture to a "can do" culture is by educating our next generations that enterprise is for all.

I favour privatisation of schools but this programme is a very welcome change in the state sector.

Monday, 20 May 2002

Less devolution please

Another thought provoking piece from the Mark Steyn collective - I refuse to believe that there's only one of him churning out all those articles

Steyn writes:

Conversely, in Britain, power is vested in the Crown and leased downwards in ever more limited doses. Even the language of alleged decentralists — ‘devolution’, ‘subsidiarity’ — assumes that the natural place for power to concentrate is at the centre.

Unlike some libertarians, I am absolutely in favour of "full fiscal freedom" for Scotland - with all taxes being collected here and any mutually agreed sums being sent to London for common services. In the US, 18% of taxes are collected by the federal government. In Switzerland it's 27%, Spain 39%, Germany 44% and Italy 48%. Here, the central government in Westminster collects an amazing 87% of all taxation levied in Britain. No wonder the "devolved" assemblies are out of control. Who wouldn't be with their kind of pocket money? Let's make them responsible for collecting their own taxes.

Three putts and you're mugged?

Crime and vandalism will destroy New Labour if this kind of nonsense doesn't get sorted out.

Friday, 17 May 2002

Not yet in the net

This interesting article explains that the economic benefits of major sporting events may be greatly exaggerated. Perhaps the Scottish Executive should think again about spending taxpayers' money on a joint Scottish/Irish bid for the Euro 2008 football championship. Of course, lecturers in the economics of sport are worth every penny.

Eight frustrating hours

I should have known when the instructions said: "You should be up and running in a matter of minutes." Yes, I've been upgrading to broadband. This involved a visit from a BT engineer who fixed up the hardware side quickly enough, although only after a last minute call from me telling him that the ISP provider had decided that he had to bring a different make of modem from usual. Then the trouble started. The install CD didn't work on OSX only on OS9. The computer went beserk. Apple UK helpdesk was away training. I had to call the US helpdesk which was actually in Canada. The lady there eventually got the machine working again. The ISP provider worked out that the CD would never work and that I had to download the OSX software from the modem's manufacturer. Many, many phone calls later, I was almost there. Next instruction: "Now, all you need to do.....". After another hour, it actually worked!

Then, I got my regular e-mail from Gary North at The Daily Reckoning

He writes:

You know when I knew the dot-com mania could not be sustained? In 1996. How did I know? Because I had read so many computer manuals. Only that tiny handful of companies in each field which sell utterly indispensable products could survive despite their manuals. The manuals were universally terrible, but we have to have a few programs, so we learn without the manuals. The manuals were the tip-off: "mania in progress; crash will follow." As a Texas A&M professor of computer science told me in 1996, "We cannot find any manual that does not have on average one instruction error per page, except for the NeXT manuals." NeXT was not a major player, despite its founder, Steve Jobs (the co-founder of Apple). How could anyone who ever tried to read a computer manual have expected the Nasdaq to overtake the Standard & Poor's 500? But they did.

So there we are. As we libertarians always knew, companies which make life easy for the customer have a future. The others will have to answer to the marketplace.

Middle East and dictatorship

Bruce Crichton responds to a critic.

Thursday, 16 May 2002

The absolute truth?

A letter from Roland Watson puts local leftist commentator, Jimmy Reid, in his place. Roland's writings, often about Scotland, are always worth looking at on the Lew Rockwell website.

Holes in the road theory

There is an interesting letter in the Glasgow Herald today from Thomas Inglis. He refers to the likely cause of the Potters Bar train crash as being poor maintenance.

Mr. Inglis then goes on to write about poor maintenance of our roads.

The lack of maintenance over the past decade has, because of the potholes, temporary road surfaces, soft verges, crumbling bridges and culverts, lack of white lines, missing road signs, choked gullies and drains, left the roads in such a state that they present a hazard to all road users.

All very true. But all the usual suspects are telling us that poor railway maintenance is the result of privatisation of the track. And the roads are owned by? …..oops, the state.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied

On BBC Radio Scotland at 5.40pm today, it was announced that a senior minister had said that the government would introduce a bill in the next parliamentary session to hold a referendum on joining the Euro. The 6pm News reported that the prime minister’s spokesman had announced that there were no such plans. So now we know.

Tuesday, 14 May 2002

Someday my bus will come

This you must see!

Fife man insults London tourist

Glasgow Handbook is a new guide to the city mentioned in the Herald today. Apparently, in 1773, Johnson and Boswell visited the Saracen’s Head, a pub well known to this day. While there, a respected local economist by the name of Adam Smith was thrown out of the bar for calling Dr. Johnson a “son of a bitch”.

Monday, 13 May 2002

New Boeing 747? - Only 300 Sixsmiths to you guv.

I liked the Ian Hislop quote over on Samizdata but what really made me laugh was Hislop's new term for £200,000 - a Sixsmith.

(Note for overseas readers: £200,000 was recently paid in compensation to Mr Sixsmith, a departing civil servant.)

Even more confusion

There is an extraordinary letter in the Glasgow Herald today from Eric Joyce, the labour MP for Falkirk West. He writes:
Diederik van Hoogstraten’s article celebrating the politics and personality of Pim Fortuyn (May 11) was a nasty racist rant which in an unintentional way illustrated one of the key causes of the present rise of explicit libertarian racism in a number of European countries. This is that many states have yet to recognise properly and publicly the implicit, indirect and institutional racism which disfigures their otherwise liberal societies. This in turn has created a political space for members of the libertarian right to mis-present themselves as liberals fighting to defend decent values under siege by alien incomers.
Why is there such confusion about the term libertarianism? I have no doubt that some of Mr. Joyce’s own ideas could legitimately be described as libertarian but that most could not. The same applied to Pim Fortuyn. As I wrote on Friday in response to Melanie Phillips – not an ideological soul mate of Eric Joyce - there is a huge libertarian literature available for anyone wanting to understand its essentially straightforward message. I suspect that those on the left and on the right who misrepresent libertarianism know full well what it means and are rather afraid of its appeal.

Saturday, 11 May 2002

Up, up and away

Passenger numbers at BAA's Scottish Airports rose last month by 8.7% compared with a drop in London of 6.3%. At Edinburgh, the rise was a massive 17.2%. But Edinburgh and Glasgow airports are both owned by BAA as a result of how the airports were privatised. I suspect that passengers would be better served if the two airports were under separate ownership. Prestwick has thrived since it was sold for a pittance by BAA who had given up on it.

Taxconsumers mug taxpayers

I recall listening on the radio to Gordon Brown's first budget. There was all the usual tinkering with the tax system which makes chancellors the toast of accountants; then came the bombshell - the £5 billion a year hit on pension funds. I realised how politically astute Brown had been when I got home that evening and saw that there was no mention of pension funds on the teletext news. Well, as we say in Scotland: Ye ken noo. Pension funds have been losing money ever since Brown abolished their dividend tax credits. It is a truth universally acknowledged that we face a pension crisis - and that's before we take into account the probable transfer of British funds to the continent where most countries have vast unfunded state pension liabilities. In the UK private sector, companies are responding by switching from defined-benefit schemes - where the pension amount is guaranteed, to defined-contribution schemes - where the contributions but not pension payouts can be fixed. But public sector pensions are apparently sacrosanct. We council taxpayers working in the private sector will now have to bail out local government pensioners at a time when our own retirement funds continue to be depleted by Mr. Brown. Are you surprised?

Friday, 10 May 2002

More confusion

In this week's Spectator, Melanie Phillips thinks that:
Liberalism has to be rescued from the clutches of the libertarians.

Bizarrely, Ms Phillips seems to think that we live in a libertarian society. None of the hundreds of books I have read about libertarianism use the term as a synonym for libertinism. If only the good old word liberal hadn't been stolen by the socialists there would be a lot less political confusion.

Thursday, 9 May 2002

The radical centre?

The new French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is a member of the Liberal Democracy party led by Alain Madelin whom I met in France last year. Over there, "liberal" means what it used to mean - unlike in Britain. But I was shocked to hear the news of Raffarin's appointment on the BBC in which he was descibed as "a Thatcherite, a centrist." What would Maggie think?

Bruce versus Bruce

Nigel Bruce responds to Bruce Crichton.

Who was that lady?

The Scotsman's Jenny Hjul writes a piece today about our recently resigned enterprise minister, Wendy Alexander. Hjul says:
She is a dynamo with "almost shockingly libertarian" views.
Calm down, that bit was about Condi Rice.

Wednesday, 8 May 2002

Free speech

Readers of Business AM's diary column today who wish to read more about the spat between the Libertarian Alliance and the Daily Telegraph should look at Libertarian Samizdata

All right for some?

George Lindsay's letter in the Scotsman today tells us about the real pensions time bomb.

No such thing as a free school

Allan Massie writes today in the Daily Mail about a recent opinion poll held in Scotland. He says:
The most interesting and controversial questions related to the continuance of Roman Catholic schools and to sectarianism in Scotland…. But the schools question is important because it raises a real philosophical issue. It places two things, each of which is desirable, in opposition. Social harmony is desirable and it is at least arguable that the existence of separate schools makes this more difficult to achieve.

But if social harmony is desirable, and only a fool would think otherwise, freedom is also a good thing; and the entitlement of parents to choose faith-based schooling for their children is a freedom not lightly to be denied them.

He goes on to say:

There can be no question that the ending of religious separatism – which means the abolition of Catholic schools – would deprive parents of a freedom that they have good reason to value highly.

Massie seems to think that “social” harmony and freedom are in opposition. But there is no lack of harmony in a free society. The “problem” of religious schools is a consequence of state financing of education. We can hardly blame Moslem parents from wanting their own tax-funded schools, given the current situation. As always, it is the heavy-handed presence of government that is the cause of disharmony. There is no public debate about harmonisation of the provision of food, clothes or books – we all buy what we want in the marketplace. Once education has been privatised there will be harmony in our schools and far better education as well.

Ironically, in Massie’s second article on a quite separate subject he says:

Hayek wrote “Social is a weasel word which has acquired the power to empty the nouns it qualifies of their meaning.”
Quite so.
Throw up and pay up?

Yesterday, I noted the Sick Fee - £25 sign which I had seen in a St Andrews taxi. Today’s Scotsman has an advertisement seeking a supplier to provide taxi services for the Scottish Parliament. I wonder what the sick fee will be.

Not so red?

Glasgow Herald columnist Iain MacWhirter writes today:

Fortunately, Mr. Sheridan (leader of the Scottish Socialist Party) is a red-blooded socialist who wants to unite the working classes of whatever colour in the cause of socialism. He may have some daft ideas about nationalising the oil industry, but at least you won’t hear him talking about repatriation of immigrants.

I suppose it’s some kind of breakthrough if nationalisation is now seen to be a “daft idea” even for red-blooded socialists.

Tuesday, 7 May 2002

Having sorted out Ireland.......

According to today's Glasgow Herald, there was an interesting geopolitical development at Saturday's Scottish Cup Final. Rangers fans were seen waving Israeli flags and the Celtic supporters were responding with Palestinian flags.

Rangers won 3-2.

A visit to Adam Smith's home county

I spent a most enjoyable evening in St Andrews yesterday. The occasion was the launch of Katallaxia, the journal of The Liberty Club. Of the contributors to the new publication, I was able to meet Alex Singleton, Marian Tupy, Conyers Davis and Arrash Zafari. Katallaxia is a Hayekian term meaning “a spontaneous market order free from most governmental intervention”, although my spell checker thinks it should read “Catalonia”! This is an excellent new publication – congratulations to all involved.

The highlight of the evening for me was the chance to meet Sir John Cowperthwaite, formerly Financial Secretary in Hong Kong and now living in St Andrews. Sir John’s economic policies were largely responsible for Hong Kong’s stunning growth and prosperity.

Last week, Wendy Alexander, (INSEAD MBA) resigned as Scotland’s minister for enterprise (and transport and lifelong learning!) She has been succeeded by Iain Gray, (Oxfam), whose lack of business experience has been causing much concern up here. Would it not be wonderful if Sir John could somehow be appointed enterprise minister?

I took a taxi from St Andrews back to the nearest station at Leuchars. There was a large notice in the cab stating: Sick Fee £25. Apparently, new students from the US take about a year to get acclimatised to Scottish licensing laws and often have to pay up after throwing up. Arrash Zafari’s article in Katallaxia calls for further liberalisation of the licensing laws as a way of providing additional part time employment for St Andrews students. Perhaps there is a business opportunity here for impoverished local students to operate a taxi cleaning service thus providing a free market redistribution of wealth from the possibly more prosperous newcomers from abroad.

Monday, 6 May 2002

Whisky and Whiskey ?

On Saturday evening, F&W attended a dinner at Edinburgh’s New Club to mark the inauguration of the Scottish branch of Republicans Abroad.

A mixture of Scottish and American guests enjoyed a talk given by Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary. This was followed by an address from Jamie McGrigor MSP, Deputy Spokesman on Rural Development for the Conservatives in the Scottish Parliament.

Congressman Sensenbrenner talked about terrorism and emphasised President Bush’s determination to deal with it vigorously.

There was an interesting split among the Scottish guests. Some thought that devolution was a disaster that would lead to more and more socialism while others sought full fiscal responsibility for the Scottish parliament as a way of making politicians face up to financial realities. Despite the domination of Labour in Scottish politics it should be noted that the Conservatives are the only party ever to have won more than 50% of the vote in a Scottish election since the war. A satisfactory settlement of the “national question” may well lead to a return of former Conservative voters from the SNP which is strong in many rural areas, small towns and suburbs.

Adam and Austria

It is always a pleasant surprise to see a reference to the Austrian School in the Scottish media.

Friday, 3 May 2002

Hey, Hey - we’re the Monkees!

After the shock news that a monkey has been elected Mayor of Hartlepool the following policy statements have been leaked to F&W by moles inside Scotland’s political parties:

Liberal Democrats: We demand that bars are immediately removed from all prisons. So-called criminals should not be locked away in “human zoos”.

SNP: We are urgently upgrading our plans to run a slate of West Highland Terriers in next year’s election. No, we are not barking mad.

Conservatives: All monkeys are obviously French spies and were properly hanged in Hartlepool in the good old days. Lesser primates should be flogged.

Labour: We reiterate our support for the EU banana policy – not straight, not curved, but the middle way.

You'll take the high road?

It's fascinating to see the proposed use of the Scottish Socialist Party for this capitalist advance.
As Samizdata correctly observes, it's whisky up here and not whiskey which is the Irish and American spelling. I have been an avid student of whisky ever since the tragic occasion when I went on a school outing to the Johnnie Walker distillery. At the end of the tour, the teachers (no pun intended) were given large drams but we pupils had to make do with ice-cream!

Thursday, 2 May 2002

In response to my post yesterday about Scotland's GDP, a reader e-mailed me with this correct observation: "Your GDP would be a lot better if you hadn't banned fox hunts. A little blood sport now and then keeps you sharp." If the foxes are to be protected, how about using politicians instead?

Scottish news-UK World business & sport news from ScotlandOnline

Is God a Scotsman and does He live in West Lothian?

The Scotsman - Opinion - Letters - Tyrannical states

Here's Bruce again.

Wednesday, 1 May 2002

Thanks to Brian Micklethwait of Samizdata for pointing out the post on the Liberty Log about Scotland. Now I note that Liberty Log is suggesting that Scotland’s descent to North Korean/Chinese/East German/Hungarian levels is something that may happen in the future but in my experience all too many people think that Scotland is already an economic basket case.

Let’s look at this map, which was recently shown on Instapundit where our attention was drawn to the visual evidence of the difference between the North and South Korean economies. Now zoom westwards. What’s that large blob of light across central Scotland and continuing up to the northeast? Some of us eating our deep-fried Mars bars under the lamppost no doubt, but quite a few are out at work generating £857 per capita in exports compared with £639 down in England.

According to the Office of National Statistics, Scottish GDP per capita is 94.2% of that of England - not quite in the North Korean league. Indeed, of the twelve UK economic areas, Scotland’s GDP per head comes in at number four, beaten only by London, the east and the southeast of England. The real economic divide in the UK is not between England and Scotland (nor for that matter Wales and Northern Ireland) but between the southeastern corner and the rest. It’s up to us Scotbloggers to support the growing number of business leaders up here who are loudly calling for pro-capitalist policies and also to explain just why the UK economy is so skewed in favour of the southeast.