Thursday, 29 March 2007

Paying the Piper

Last night I went to the book launch of Paying the Piper by Brian Monteith:
One of the Scottish Parliament’s more colourful and controversial members, Brian Monteith is used to swimming against the prevailing tide in Scottish politics.
A good number of Edinburgh's political and media folk turned up to buy the book and consume some samples of the eponymous product.

B Monteith 28th March 2007 Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Are you ordinary?

Look at this from the Glasgow Kelvin Labour Party:
Because the SNP don’t have a mandate from Scotland’s Trade Unions, they’re not particularly bothered about the rights of ordinary workers.
Only a minority of workers are members of unions. As a matter of fact, most of them are extraordinary in so far as their income comes from the taxpayer rather from willing consumers of their labour.

Zut alors!

Now we know why there are never any police on the streets of Edinburgh.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Tomorrow's news today

I must admit, this had crossed my mind:
First of all: Don’t necessarily believe what the British say about what those sailors were up to when they were detained. There’s probably a 90-percent chance they will tell the truth, but there is often a lot more to these international “incidents” than meets the eye. The British will say that their sailors were in Iraqi waters and the Iranians had no business being where they were. But the Iranians are unlikely to have provoked an international incident under circumstances as clear-cut as that. And in fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Iranians were actually responding, in this case, to a carefully planned provocation of our own. As Churchill said, sometimes the truth is so precious that she must be attended by a bodyguard of lies.
And what would be the purpose of such an "incident"?

I can hear it now:

"You know, I'm a pretty straight kind of guy.

I had been looking forward to my service as European President retirement, but now (sobs) my country needs me to undertake one more task.

Some of our military personnel - so generously funded by my government - have been kidnapped by agents of the Iranian regime.

Like my great mentor Lady Thatcher, I must do my duty to the people of Britain.

It would be quite wrong of me to abandon my post at this time. And so, by popular acclaim, I shall remain as Prime Minister until the job is done.

I also take this opportunity to announce a minor reshuffle of my government.

My wife, the newly ennobled Lady Blair of Liverpool, will serve as Chancellor of the Exchequer. She has widespread knowledge of financial matters.

Mr Gordon Brown has decided to leave my government and I wish him well in his new position as ambassador in Pyongyang."

Solving overcrowding at Heathrow

I see that there's a possibility that Lufthansa may move part of its operations to Zurich because of the EU's carbon trading regulations:
Lufthansa chief executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber has reacted strongly to this imposition of extra costs, even threatening to move some hub operations to Zurich, Switzerland, which is not an EU member
Well, let's see...

Suppose that Scotland becomes independent. Suppose that the EU doesn't want us as members because that may encourage those pesky Basques or Catalans to follow suit.

Then, British (sic) Airways might decide to relocate some of its operations out of the EU - to Edinburgh, or Prestwick or even Paisley.

Sounds good to me.

No 2 ID demonstration

This event was held earlier today outside the Edinburgh interrogation centre.

More photos on Flickr

No 2 ID 26th March 2007
Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

No 2 ID 26th March 2007
Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

No 2 ID 26th March 2007
Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

No 2 ID 26th March 2007
Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Orange Order Parade

The Orange Order marched down the Royal Mile today to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Union.

Lots more photos on Flickr.

Edinburgh 24th March 2007 Originally uploaded by David Farrer.
Edinburgh 24th March 2007 Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

Edinburgh 24th March 2007 Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

Edinburgh 24th March 2007 Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

Edinburgh 24th March 2007 Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

Edinburgh 24th March 2007 Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Thanks, LibDems

This is the result of our new "Right to Recycle"

(Photos from Mrs F&W)

Lib Dem newspaper
Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

I found this here.

As well as digital,

I still use film
Originally uploaded by David Farrer.

Green Taleban alert

I see that Scotland on Sunday is making the same point that I did last week:
Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce last week attacked Conservative party leader David Cameron's proposals for environmental taxes on flying. Graham Birse, the chamber's deputy chief executive, said: "We are very concerned about isolation of the Scottish economy in terms of what the Tories are proposing. Namely, if this idea progressed to legislation there would be a financial disincentive to travel by air to Scotland, leaving industries like financial services vulnerable to relocation. This would impact adversely upon inward investment."
Is it any wonder that the Scottish Tories aren't attracting much in the way of business support?

Saturday, 17 March 2007

House of Cronies

I came across this article by Angus MacNeil MP, in which he discusses his role in the "cash for peerages" affair:
Labour’s attempts to paint itself as ‘purer than pure’ really didn’t withstand much scrutiny. In his first four years in office Tony Blair appointed more peers than Mrs Thatcher managed in her entire 11-year tenure of Downing Street. And there was a startling similarity between the list of Labour’s major lenders and donors, and the lists of newly appointed knights and peers of the realm. It seemed to me that there was an overwhelming body of circumstantial evidence that Labour was – not to put too fine a point on it – selling peerages.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Blair flips his lid

So, the Royal Bank (the world's fifth largest) isn't a real business:
Dismissing Sir George's comments, Mr Blair told a business breakfast: "You talk to real businesses, talk to the types of people I have just been addressing, and look at the impact of separation on real businesses and real families.
Has Blair ever ran a business?

Has the SNP hit the jackpot?

High profile support for Scottish independence has been in the news today.

As readers will no doubt have guessed, I'm thinking of the pupils of Kelso High School:

Last month the Scottish Borders school declared "independence" as its own way of studying the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union.

After a trial three-week period it held a referendum to decide whether or not to rejoin the United Kingdom.

The vote - which was monitored by John Curtice, Professor in Politics at Strathclyde University - was almost four to one in favour of independence.

I note that one of Kelso High's former pupils is Sir William Purves, once chairman of HSBC.

Sir William will no doubt have contacts with many other senior bankers. One of these will be Sir George Mathewson, former Chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland. I wonder if these two gentlemen have ever discussed politics over a round of golf or at the RBS-sponsored Murrayfield Stadium.

If not, they've certainly got something to talk about now:

SIR George Mathewson, one of Scotland's most influential business leaders, today declares his support for the Scottish National Party and independence, handing Alex Salmond a huge political boost ahead of the Holyrood election.

The endorsement by Sir George, who helped transform the Royal Bank of Scotland into the world's fifth biggest bank, will play a crucial role in cementing the nationalists' economic credibility

This is surely a coup of major proportions for the SNP - far more important than signing up Sean Connery for example.

At the moment there are 403 comments on the Scotsman website, as well as much discussion in the Scottish blogosphere:

Bill Cameron

High Politics

Holyrood Chronicles

North to Leith

Scots and Independent

SNP Tactical Voting

Tartan Hero

This story is also being covered by Guido.

Monday, 12 March 2007

Pull the other one

There's been much amusement about the Chancellor's dental visit:
Gordon Brown's fierce opposition to private medicine was called into question last night after it was revealed that he pays £100 an hour to be treated by one of Britain's top private dentists.
Understandably, cries of "hypocrite" are being bandied about.

But there's another angle that I've not seen mentioned.

Note this:

"Gordon is no different to the large number of people who have found themselves without an NHS dentist because he did not visit one regularly.
So let's get this straight. A man whose entire political philosophy is one of centralising the British economy and running it from his own office can't even plan the proper maintenance of his own body.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

The Conservatives' planned destruction of Scotland

I can see why this wasn't announced at the Conservatives' Scottish conference.
Harsh new taxes on air travel, including a strict personal flight "allowance", will be unveiled by the Conservatives tomorrow as part of a plan that would penalise business travellers, holidaymakers and the tourist industry.
And it gets worse:
The Conservatives will also suggest - most controversially of all - rationing individuals to as little as a single short-haul flight each year; any further journeys would attract progressively higher taxes, a leaked document entitled Greener Skies suggests.
EU Referendum and Samizdata have covered this but haven't mentioned the Scottish angle.

Edinburgh has been one of Britain's fastest growing airports over the last decade or so. Much of this expansion has been in business travel that's connected with Edinburgh's huge financial sector. As well as more than 50 flights per day to London we now have two daily services to the US. None of this would have been imaginable when the Tories were last in power.

Ted Heath all but destroyed Scottish fishing when he it sold out to the EU and now the Tories plan to wipe out our most important industry. How long will the Royal Bank (the world's fifth largest) keep its headquarters here under Cameron's proposals? It's not a coincidence that it's located right next to the airport. HBoS, Standard Life, Aegon and the rest are hardly likely to stay here either if their people can't fly up and down to London whenever required.

So why didn't Cameron announce this in Perth? I expect that this omission wasn't deliberate. I doubt if anyone in Notting Hill even knows about the importance of air travel to Scotland.

A conspiracy theorist might think that this plan had been drawn up by the London-based banks to kill off their Scottish competitors. Here's another theory: Cameron is in the pay of Alex Salmond. Nothing else makes sense does it?

Unless of course the Tories are completely bonkers...

Thursday, 8 March 2007

The French

In today's Scotsman, George Kerevan writes about Trident.

Unfortunately his piece is behind the subscription wall, but I saw this in the printed newspaper:

The Commons defence committee - a cross-party group of senior back-bench MPs, chaired by a former Tory defence minister who is pro-nuclear - has just published a report castigating the government for failing to answer basic questions about plans for Son of Trident. Little things such as how much it is going to cost; why we need to rush into making a decision now when the existing Trident fleet will be in operation till 2025, and could have its life extended; and - not least - exactly who the new deterrent is designed to deter.
Who is it to deter?

Surely Sir Humphrey has already answered that one:

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Russians? Who's talking about the Russians?

James Hacker: Well, the independent deterrent.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: It's to protect us against the French!

The question is this: Is it to deter the Islamic Republic of France in about twenty years' time?

Only asking...

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Carbon Footprints

Of course, I'm pretty sure that this whole subject is a load of nonsense and its sole purpose is to extend the power of the state. But let's take these carbon fanatics at their word.

Today I was talking to a citizen of an Eastern European non-EU country. Previously this person had been spending time in Germany and had obtained a visa from a UK consulate over there to do research in Edinburgh. Because the sponsoring organisation screwed things up, my contact has to fly to Germany next week for a day merely to renew the visa. It can't be done here. The only way to get back in time for appointments relating to the research is to return via London. So, three completely unnecessary flights are to be undertaken simply because the authorities are living in the eighteenth century.

Monday, 5 March 2007

The coming crisis

Here is a rather good article on the economic situation.

This part was particularly interesting:

Outside the U.S., Britain, so proud of its position at the epicenter of the overblown speculations of world finance, will find its economy in collapse and London house prices dropping by more than half over the next 5 years. Only the Russian mafia, accustomed to stealing their money directly rather than through mere financial manipulation, will remain in London, more or less safe from Vladimir Putin, propping up the West End housing and luxury goods markets to a limited extent by their vulgar excess.
I think this is certainly possible and that's partly why I now live in Edinburgh. Needless to say I've not heard a word about the dangerous state of the world's finances from anyone running for Holyrood...

(UPDATE: More here. Read the comments.)