Monday, 30 September 2002

An announcement

Please note that there will be less blogging than usual for the next week or so.

Scottish Labour comes apart

Wendy Alexander was always regarded as one of the stars of Scottish Labour. Now, she is telling us what it is really like.

Friday, 27 September 2002

Arise, Sir Printsalot

Bill Jamieson is understandably bemused by Alan Greenspan's knighthood but Bill should have attacked the very idea of central banking.

An educated argument?

What a hate-filled spiel this is from Gillian Ferguson. She obviously writes about private education with the aid of a top-of-the-range Leftist Cliche Generator:

posh gits,
let's josh,
poor plebs,
thick inbreds,
barbaric, outdated system,
unjustified sense of superiority,
archaic system of child cruelty,

not to mention the assumption that our money really belongs to the state and that any tax relief is a subsidy. Do people write like this because, deep down, they know that state education is going to the dogs? There certainly seems to be a total lack of understanding that government schools are paid for by taxpayers and that we are getting very angry.

But what would it be called?

It couldn't be simply Edinburgh Airport or Glasgow Airport without starting WWIII. I suggest two adjacent terminal buildings. The eastern one would be called "Edinburgh Airport" and the western one "Glasgow Airport". The airlines would operationally treat the complex as one, but civic honour would be satisfied.

Given the likely site's proximity to Stirling, it will no doubt be named: "The William Wallace International Airport" and be opened by Mel Gibson.

A new Scottish airport?

Scotland has nothing like the range of international air services enjoyed by Ireland. Most agree that this is because traffic in the heavily populated central belt is split between Glasgow and Edinburgh which are only 47 miles apart. Others suggest that British Airways and BAA (which owns both airports) prefer to shuttle Scottish passengers down to Heathrow and connect onwards from there. The idea of a big central airport between the two cities goes back a long way - before WWII, I believe. Suddenly, it's in the news in a big way.

Could this actually happen? The fact that there is to be a joint study by Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities is a harmonious change from the usual fierce rivalry between the two cities. The Scottish business community has rightly been complaining about the endless output of politically correct nonsense from the Scottish Parliament and has called for spending to be switched towards transport. The "great and the good" of the business world support the new airport. Yes, I think it could happen.

Wednesday, 25 September 2002

HRH hits out

It's not only hunting bans that are upsetting Prince Charles. He has been complaining to the Lord Chancellor about "the culture of political correctness in England's legal system". Good for Charles. The bureaucratic response was:
The Lord Chancellor’s department would neither confirm nor deny the suggestion last night. “We never comment on the Lord Chancellor’s private correspondence,” a spokeswoman said.
However, the prince's office:
has previously defended Prince Charles’s letter-writing, saying that “it is the job of the Prince of Wales to represent people’s views and in particular views that would otherwise go unheard”.
Fair enough, but why are people's views going unheard? In the case of the Scottish Tories it would seem that they spend their time worrying about being called "racist" instead of standing up for people of all colours against an overweening state.

Scottish Tories

Do the Tories have a death wish?

Ashraf Anjum has recruited a large number of new Conservative party members, mainly fellow Asians, seemingly in an attempt to improve his chances of getting into the Scottish Parliament by gaining a high position in the Tory party list. Long-standing candidates are upset, but Mr Anjum hasn't broken party rules. Indeed, some have suggested that all would-be candidates should be obliged to recruit a minimum number of new party members. That seems a good idea. The Tories held a meeting to sort things out. Some of the existing candidates had threatened to resign but received a message from their leader, David McLetchie:

At the meeting on Monday night, Mr McLetchie made it clear to the candidates that if they resigned the "full force" of the party machinery would be brought down upon them. It is understood that he made it clear that they would open themselves up to charges of racism if they stood down - and this was something the party would not tolerate.
This is unbelievable. Candidates can't resign without being accused of racism! It's hardly surprising that:
some of the candidates at the meeting felt "shell-shocked" with the way they were treated by the party leadership.

Secret agents

Natalie Solent lightheartedly suggests that Andrew Duff, the MEP who thinks that Britain could be forced to remain in the EU against its will, may be a double agent. But we have our under-cover people too, for I can reveal that Alan Greenspan is also an agent, smuggled into the Fed so as to destroy fiat currency thus leading to the adoption of the gold standard. Look at Chapter 6 of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. It's Gold and Economic Freedom by Alan Greenspan. The leopard doesn't change his spots. There again, perhaps it's time for another whisky......

Tuesday, 24 September 2002

Phoney figures

It's not only the Edinburgh City Council that "weights" its numbers to give the desired result but also the compilers of the 2001 Census. I ask again: why should we believe any government statistics.

Dr Wilson Flood agrees.

Monday, 23 September 2002

Like lambs to the slaughter

The Illiberal Democrats think that Labour will give them the deal they want on proportional representation in Scottish local elections. According to Lib Dem leader Jim Wallace, the agreement:
will give the Scottish Lib Dems an advantage over Labour
Who said that politicians are comedians? Labour activists are saying something rather different:
We do not speak as a vested interest but as democrats when we say as a party we do not support proportional representation for local council elections. That is why we will enter the 2003 elections on a platform of reinvigorating local democracy but not breaking the direct link between councillor and community; of strengthening local government, not undermining it to create local administration.
My money is on the Labour activists.

Sunday, 22 September 2002

A royal mistake

Prince Charles has said that he will leave Britain if hunting is banned in England and Wales. I think that Charles has made a huge mistake. In effect, he is saying that banning hunting in Scotland (which has already occurred) will not cause him to leave the UK, but a ban in England & Wales will. One thing that unites all Scots is a desire for an equal status with England. Scots accept that England is bigger, has a larger economy and will always be more influential, but demand a "parity of identities". Failure to understand this has caused the collapse of the Tory vote in Scotland. Charles has handed the Scottish Nationalists a huge propaganda gift.

Saturday, 21 September 2002

Take that, Toohey!

I wonder if any other fans of The Fountainhead watched last night's film on Channel 3 (UK). The hero of Volcano was called Roark and he saved Los Angeles by dynamiting a building!

Friday, 20 September 2002

Not even Bridget Jones....

....will support the Tories!

Tory update

The row in the Glasgow Conservative party continues and now they have lost one of their best candidates.

Shock rise in Tory support

Ashraf Anjum wants to be the first Asian member of the Scottish Parliament which has 129 MSPs. 73 of these are elected by the "first past the post" system and the other 56 get in by means of a "party list" proportional representation scheme. The candidate at the top of the Tory list in Glasgow stands a good chance of becoming an MSP. Lo and behold, 113 new members have joined the Tory party on the same day and:
Almost all the new recruits, which immediately sent the Tory party membership in the city up from 680 to 793, a rise of 16 per cent, were from Glasgow’s Asian community. Most were known to Mr Anjum, a former aide to the Glasgow Govan Labour MP, Mohammed Sarwar, and very few, if any, had shown any obvious interest in party politics before that time.
This hasn't gone down too well with some of Mr Anjum's colleagues:
The backlash against Mr Anjum has been so fierce that some Tory activists have even threatened to mobilise the party membership in an attempt to defeat him.
It seems as if Mr Anjum has broken no party rules and he is being supported by the Tory hierarchy. As the Scotsman editorial says:
But the problem does not lie with Mr Anjum. All he has done is recognise how the system works and use it to his best advantage.
Well, maybe so, but for the Tory leadership to upset its all too few rank and file party members is not good politics.

Thursday, 19 September 2002

Cobbled streets and trendy restaurants

Despite our City Council's rather strange arithmetic, Edinburgh remains Britain's best city accoring to Conde Nast Traveller. The "trendy restaurants" are OK for some I suppose but the real Edinburgh is here.

"Trust me, I'm a politician"

The Edinburgh City Council decided to consult the public about a proposal to introduce road tolls. A majority favoured tolls for vehicles entering the city centre. Fair enough. But, hang on, what about this?

We read that:

The council had earlier announced that an independent survey showed a 51 per cent majority of people in favour of a city centre toll cordon. But in reality only 42 per cent of people who responded to a questionnaire were in support. The favourable majority only emerged once the figures had been "weighted". Researchers decided not enough people without cars had voted and adjusted the poll results after deciding that non-car owners would support tolling.
And in the full printed article:
It also emerged today that environmental groups in favour of congestion charges were given thousands of questionnaires for members to fill in.
Rightly, the local Tories are accusing the City Council of "cooking the books" but it occurs to me that we should now disbelieve any statistics put out by New Labour. The government has been making lots of noise about its success in combatting crime. The "statistics" prove that policies are working. Public perception is that crime is completely out of control. I think that the public is correct and that the national crime statistics are probably as sound as those of the Edinburgh City Council.

Wednesday, 18 September 2002

The pension saga continues

One reason why so many are facing poor pension prospects is that the currency destruction mentioned in the previous post is the cause of the chaos we are seeing in the world's stock markets. Of course, those working in the public (sic) sector can be confident that the political classes will raise any taxation needed to maintain their inflation-linked pensions.

Tuesday, 17 September 2002

Let's have some real money

I remember White Wednesday very well. I was away from work on a computer course and phoned the office during the afternoon break. Nothing much was going on, I was told, the company was surviving without me and, oh, by the way, interest rates have just gone up to 15%! When I told the other excel trainees the news there was a mad rush for the phones and we didn't think too much about spreadsheets for the rest of the day.

George Kerevan says that:

We were in the ERM as a way of getting rid of inflation, the endemic British problem that chased away investment and caused labour unrest. Inflation happens when too much credit causes demand to run ahead of supply. In postwar Britain, red tape and high taxes kept supply down while too much government borrowing flooded the markets with the financial paper that made credit easy. Mix in the oil prices rises of the Seventies, and inflation went out of control.
Mrs Thatcher got elected in 1979 to fix this. In good faith, she adopted the doctrine of monetarism, reinvented by Milton Friedman but actually the work of the 18th-century Scot, David Hume. According to monetarism, if the government could set targets for the growth in money supply (what there is to spend), it could keep it growing in line with output. Sounds good, but it didn’t work in practice. First, in a globalised economy, governments can’t dam all the available sources of credit. Second, new kinds of credit are being invented every day, so that setting targets for monetary growth means trying to measure the unmeasurable.
Well, none of what happened ten years ago was surprising to those who had studied the Austrian School of Economics. Since 1913, the pound has lost 98% of its value and the dollar has declined by 95%. As long as we have a fiat currency with money being created out of thin air, inflation will continue. The Austrians showed that sound money can only exist if it is 100% based on a commodity, probably gold or silver. It doesn't really matter if the money counterfeiters are based in Frankfurt, London or Washington - the result will be destruction of the people's wealth. Where are the politicians - and journalists - who will call for the establishment of real money?

Monday, 16 September 2002

Unjustifiable deaths

David Kelly writes that we are wrong to pay so much attention to the 3,000 9-11 deaths in New York unless we also note that:
According to the United Nations, on that day 18,000 children under five died from hunger or thirst, undocumented, unnamed, and without the "benefit" of live television coverage.
He goes on to say:
Our political leaders’ struggle for the moral high ground post-9/11, against the background of avoidable disease, starvation and thirst in our world is as revolting an exercise in hypocrisy as I can remember.
Well, the 3,000 deaths were caused by terrorism and the 18,000 deaths were caused by socialism. Both can and should be dealt with but I rather suspect that the ending of socialism is not quite what Mr Kelly has in mind.

Close examinations

This gentleman had an appropriate response to a suspicious shopkeeper.

Sunday, 15 September 2002

BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Key al-Qaeda suspect under interrogation

What's in a name?

First we had Tranzi, now we have Ramzi.

Smacking the Lib Dems

Over on The Edge of England's Sword, Iain Murray asks what I think of the Scottish Parliament's rejection of proposals to outlaw smacking of children by their parents. Scotland is no more politically correct than most places and is in many ways socially conservative. As in England, the PC religion is strong among the Liberal Democrats. In Scotland, the Lib Dems form part of the government in coaltion with Labour. Jim Wallace, Lib Dem leader, is Minister for Justice and was pushing hard for the smacking ban. Wallace is MSP for the low-crime Orkney Islands but Labour's backbenchers tend to sit for urban areas where voters are extremely angry about rising crime. The Scottish Parliamentary elections will be held next May and Labour MSPs are turning from political correctness to populism, especially as the Scottish press has regularly mocked the PC agenda. What will happen after the election remains to be seen but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Lib Dems get screwed - they are still waiting for the introduction of proportional representation three and a half years after entering the coaltion.

Today in 1940

I visited the Airshow held at RAF Leuchars yesterday. It was an enjoyable day: nice weather, lots of photography and meeting up with old friends. The Battle of Britain show is held each year on the Saturday nearest to the 15th September. Here's why.

Friday, 13 September 2002

Scottish Banknotes

Sandy Macnair writes to the Scotsman about his difficulty in spending Scottish banknotes in England. He complains that English shop staff are "often not aware that Scottish notes are legal tender." Well, Scottish notes are not legal tender in England. Perhaps surprisingly, Scottish banknotes are not legal tender in Scotland either! Not only that, Bank of England notes are not legal tender in Scotland:
Scottish bank notes are not legal tender in Scotland. English bank notes of denomination less than 5UKP were legal tender in Scotland under Currency and Bank Notes Act 1954. Now, with the removal of BoE 1UKP notes, only coins constitute legal tender in Scotland. English bank notes are only legal tender in England, Wales, The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
Today, in fact, no banknote whatsoever (including Bank of England notes!) qualifies for the term 'legal tender' north of the Border and the Scottish economy seems to manage without that legal protection.
I can confirm that Scottish businesses are very happy to accept both English and Scottish notes. Nevertheless, Mr Macnair is one of thousands of Scots frustrated by having our money rejected south of the border. The Chancellor, a Scot, should adopt one of these policies:
1. English and Scottish notes should be the sole legal tender in their respective countries.
2. English and Scottish notes should be legal tender in both countries.
3. No notes should be legal tender in either country - it works in Scotland.
4. The Bank of "England" should be renamed The Bank of the United Kingdom and only its notes would be legal tender in both England and Scotland.
5. Abolish central banking, fire the bureaucrats, let the private sector take over and may the best banks win.
Don't hold your breath.

Thursday, 12 September 2002


...on yesterday's 9-11 commemorations in Edinburgh.

Let us not forget

I commend this letter from Bruce Crichton which criticises Allan Massie's views on appeasement. We should never forget that communism killed 100 million people in the 20th century. Western financial and moral support kept communism in power for decades.

Scottish football (but no mention of the Faroes...)

The Scotsman today carries an interesting article on the finances of the "national game." Of twelve Premier League clubs, only St Mirren managed to make a profit in the 2000/01 season. Wages are clearly out of control:
We believe a sustainable wage/turnover ratio would be between 60 and 70 per cent,” recommends Glen in the latest PwC review of Scottish football, a glossary of mismanagement which is entitled: “The search for a viable playing field.
I think that 60 to 70% seems far too high. When I worked in advertising our parent company had a strict rule: total staff costs must never exceed 55% of revenue. That way, profits would be assured. If the SPL clubs adopted the 55% rule, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and St Johnstone would have joined St Mirren in profitability. Nevertheless, the other eight clubs would still be loss-making with Celtic and Rangers being £8 million and £10 million in the red respectively. I assume that high stadium costs are the reason for this. The supply of benevolent millionaire owners is limited. Wage cuts for players seem inevitable.


Scotland remembers 9-11.

Tuesday, 10 September 2002

Glasgow Herald for sale!

Not the one I buy each day but the whole caboodle. Unfortunately, I don't have a spare £200 million otherwise I would be tempted.... I presume that the Scottish Media Group will use some of the cash to pay off debt. Nevertheless:
Chief executive Andrew Flanagan said: "Our strategy of focusing SMG’s development on a cross media approach with national positions in the faster growing media sectors, means that publishing is no longer core to the group.
May I suggest that SMG invests a million or two in the "fast growing media sector" that is blogging. I await their call.

Monday, 9 September 2002

Too many in jail?

Probably. But I think that Katie Grant should have examined how many people are in jail for committing victimless crimes. The state has no business telling people what they can or can't do with their own bodies. Our ludicrous drug laws - not the drugs themselves - are the cause of so much crime. Let's also concentrate on making criminals compensate their victims and indeed reimburse the state for the costs of detection and trial.

Saturday, 7 September 2002

The first Tranzis?

If you're getting too much sleep may I suggest that you read The Black Book of Communism, originally published in France in 1997. By then, it was estimated that communism had killed 100 million of our fellow human beings.

Turn now to the griefometer which rates disasters using the deaths of Princess Diana and Jill Dando as benchmarks (thanks to Samizdata for the link) and fill in the form for the disaster that was communism.

I rated "average cuteness of dead" at 5% - let's face it, people exterminated for owning a couple of sheep or turning up late for work at a Ukrainian collectivised farm don't come too high up on the "cuteness" scale. Similarly, I gave 5% for "importance of location." The communist holocaust didn't occur in London, Paris or New York so the location couldn't be all that important, could it? I also put in 5% for "visual impact" which is probably too high. It's not as if it was on CNN every day. Giving the commies a fair chance, I assumed that the mass murder was on the front pages every day since 1917, that's some 29,220 days. Now click submit. Communism scores 0.8 "Dandos", less than one "Diana". Giving cuteness, location and visual impact ratings of 100% increases communism's score to 14.4 "Dianas".

Now, this griefometer is just a silly game, isn't it? A bit sick perhaps? Well, consider this: 100 million killed over 80 years is about 3,422 per day.

Or one "World Trade Centre".

Every day for 80 years.

What's really sick is that the communists' ideological soulmates infest almost every academic institution in the western world. And I am still waiting for them to apologise.

Friday, 6 September 2002

Local news

Over on the Holy Blog, Roland Watson writes about the Edinburgh house price bubble.

Meanwhile, in a letter to the Scotsman, Bruce Crichton continues his campaign against the environmental-whackos.

Thursday, 5 September 2002

Is Atlas shrugging?

In Business AM today, Ivor Tiefenbrun, founder of Linn Products says:

...the government seems committed to the "ethnic cleansing" of people who make things. Some say I should leave - one day I may take them up on their advice.

We are heading towards a Soviet-style, EU-led dictatorship where nothing will be permissible unless it is explicitly licensed. The present government hasn't got a clue what it is doing.

Now that's telling us like it is. Why do we never hear this kind of stuff from the "official" business establishment? I suspect it's a case of: "those who can, do; those who can't, run lobbying organisations."

George Bush

I have now read this story in three different newspapers. Today, it's the turn of the Glasgow Herald. Jacques Chirac, Tony Blair and George Bush are at a meeting. Chirac is speaking. Bush turns to Blair and says: "The trouble with the French is that they don't have a word for "entrepreneur"." Bush is portrayed as an ignorant hick. Well, I come to the President's defence. His observation is correct. France did have, indeed invent, the word "entrepreneur." Unluckily for the French, they exported it to the US.

Wednesday, 4 September 2002

School places

Parents have won a court victory in Linlithgow allowing their children to attend the local school rather than be sent to neighbouring Broxburn. Of course, I think that all schools should be privatised. That wouldn't produce an unlimited supply of schools in every town but the market is far more responsive than politicians. Even the teaching unions seem to understand that all is not well:
The Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA) said the judgement came as "no surprise". Assistant general secretary Jim Docherty said: "This problem was being discussed in Linlithgow five and 10 years ago. "There seems to have been a lack of forward planning by the council."

Tuesday, 3 September 2002

The Scottish Tories - the new "People's Party"?

Nick Johnston was a Tory MSP until last year. Now he calls for voters to kick out some of his former political colleagues. He thinks that the Scottish Tories are too cautious and overly dependent on party bosses in London. Opinion polls suggest that the Tories here will lose many seats in the Holyrood election due next May. Tory leader, David McLetchie, responded to Nick Johnston in the Scotsman the following day. I like David McLetchie and he was correct to remind us of the Tories' role in the shaming and removing from power of the former First Minister, Henry McLeish. Two days later, Iain Macwhirter of the Sunday Herald tells McLetchie: "Face facts David, the Tories are over." Macwhirter, a left-winger, admits that he is impressed by McLetchie's performance as Tory leader in the Scottish parliament:
It is one of the great ironies of devolution that the party which opposed the Scottish parliament has rediscovered itself through participating in it. They have repeatedly exposed the intellectual sloppiness and sloganeering of Labour and shown the importance in democratic politics of being able to mount a coherent case for legislation.
I think that Macwhirter is correct. He recommends a complete break from the London party - and that is how it is seen up here - as well as a name change. I like his suggestion of "The People's Party." Meanwhile, over on the Scotsman, Katie Grant is asking: "Where is Scotland's Mrs. Thatcher?" Ms. Grant is warming to the idea of fiscal autonomy for Scotland as the only way to discipline our spendthrift politicians. I agree. Eight months from now, Scotland votes. Let's have a strong alternative to our numerous socialist parties.

Monday, 2 September 2002

To rent or to buy?

The Scotsman reports today that houses in Edinburgh are now going for as much as £2 million. Professor Andrew Oswald of Warwick University suggests that it's time we went back to renting. There is much to be said for his argument. As the professor says:
Renting is beneficial for a country. Arguably the world’s most prosperous and peaceable nation is Switzerland. Yet it has the highest rate of renting in the western world. Two thirds of Swiss are renters. All works as sweetly as their clocks. After the war, most Britons lived in privately rented accommodation. Now, only one person in ten does. In my judgment, that is a bad thing.
So why don't we follow the Swiss example? In a word: inflation. The Swiss can invest knowing that their capital will be safe. In the UK, the pound has lost 98% of its value since 1913. It's not so bad in the US. Since 1913, when the Federal Reserve was founded, the dollar has lost a mere 95% of its value. That is why we English speakers like to put our money in houses.The only way to stop the British obsession with home ownership is to establish a sound currency. We could adopt the Swiss Franc - certainly not the Euro. Better still would be to have a 100% gold-backed currency of our own. Now there's a challenge for Scotland's banks.