Monday, 30 June 2008

Adam Smith statue

The statue will be unveiled in the Royal Mile on Friday 4th July. I'll be there and look forward to meeting any readers who are present.

Back in 2004 I took a series of photographs of the proposed site on behalf of the Adam Smith Institute. Here's one of them:

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Bent or merely bendy?

That is indeed the question.

Iain Dale has stirred up a bit of a hornet's nest.

Wendy Alexander was a politician clearly out of her depth as Labour leader in Scotland. But she was not on the take. And for that reason alone, I take no joy in seeing that her career in politics has been brought to a premature end.
I think it's fair to say that most of Iain's commenters aren't quite so sanguine.

This one is typical:

I would have more sympathy with your gentle views if ordinary citizens were also treated so indulgently. Members of a political class which has created many offences of strict liability, where lack of criminal intent is irrelevant, are entitled to precisely as much sympathy as we would get if charged with such offences; i.e. none, zero, zilch, zip, nada.

If ignorance of the law is no excuse for us, Iain, why the hell would it be an excuse for the people who make the law? If our inability to understand their confusing and contradictory legislative excretions is no defence to us, why the hell should it be a defence for them?

I worry, as you Conservatives get nearer to power, that you do not have any better attitude to its use and abuse than the petty tyrants who govern us now. Please differentiate yourselves clearly. We want to believe. We want to give you a chance. But your apparent sympathy with the devil is not going to inspire much confidence.

I appreciated the post on Big Rab's site:
Anyway getting back to wee Wendy. She is a university educated, bright and intelligent person. She has a staff at her disposal, paid for by the tax payer whose duty is to make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. The rules and regulations she was subject to were no worse or more complicated than those inflicted on the rest of us. Those rules and regulations were voted through by politicians just like her.

Sure let us simplify rules and regulations as Ian Dale suggests. However lets do it for everyone and not just the political class.

I think Iain's right to say that Wendy didn't consciously set about to line her pockets at the taxpayers' expense. But it's clear to me that politicians like Wendy really don't understand that even when they do obey the rules they're living off the rest of us. Or at least off those of us who pay taxes. And contrary to what seems to be believed down south that includes plenty of us here in Scotland.

So is it simply a matter of making sure that MP's, MSP's and MEP's obey the rules? I don't think so. Of course, they should obey the rules but I believe that more is at stake. The real question is this: what is the state for? How big should it be? What are its proper functions? Removing my anarcho-capitalist hat for the moment I'd say that the state should do no more than organise protection against aggressors - domestic and foreign. That's it. Nothing more. No state provided education, health or welfare systems. In such a world politicians would have an extremely limited role. Almost all would be part-time and furthermore they should be financially self-sufficient. There would be no need for aspiring politicians to seek campaign funds. They would be chosen according to their achievements in the "real" world.

Would Wendy be elected in such a society? Probably not. But hardly any others from the present crop would be chosen either.

Separated at birth?

Friday, 27 June 2008

"First female Scots top cop speaks"

Astounding, isn't it? But it must be true: the BBC is the source:
Scotland's only female police chief has spoken for the first time since taking up the role.
Now if we can only get the blokes back on the beat perhaps they'll learn to speak too...

Monday, 23 June 2008

Capital punishment

I'm a wee bit ambivalent about capital punishment. I've got no problem with a householder using lethal force against a violent intruder. And, like in Texas (I believe), the said householder should be regarded as a hero. Furthermore, I'd suggest a suitable reward like not being liable for Council Tax for ten years.

But I'm not so sure about the state using capital punishment. It's not like the state gets most things right. Perhaps an exception could be made when the accused has been caught in the act by a large number of very reliable witnesses as well as being recorded on CCTV. It's not like we're short of cameras...

But here in Edinburgh I note that someone has evaded our local form of capital punishment:

A BUILDER of up-market flats has sparked protests by moving the social housing element of its scheme two miles down the road to Leith.

Council housing chiefs have been criticised for allowing Dutch developer MaB to build the affordable flats near the dock's former red light district rather than in Trinity.

Note the weasel words.

By "social housing element of its scheme" they really mean the properties that will probably be used to house unsocial people. And what about "affordable"? This is code for affordable to those who vote the right way. The houses in Trinity are affordable. To their buyers.

In fact, I'm beginning to think that use of the word "affordable" may justify capital punishment.

Along with "appropriate".

This nonsense is even affecting Ayr United's plan for a new stadium:

A spokeswoman for South Ayrshire Council said the council was "fully supportive" of Ayr United. She said consent had been given for the Heathfield stadium but complications regarding affordable housing provision due to be built on the Somerset Park site had delayed the signing of the legal agreement.
Enough of this.

Jane Jacobs explained why the state should be kept quite separate from the market. Let the state catch the criminals and let the market house the people.

Quote of the day

From this letter in the Scotsman:
If we were to be offered the chance to vote to leave the EU, the choice of answers should be simply "Yes" or "Oink".

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Perth Airshow


Originally uploaded by David Farrer

More here.

Hold the Front Page

There are five stories on the front page of today's Scotland on Sunday.

First we have this:

The Scottish Government last month unveiled controversial new plans to curb smoking, by proposing a ban on cigarettes being displayed in shops. And ministers south of the border have suggested scrapping packs of 10 cigarettes because of their popularity among young smokers.

Then this one:

BUSINESSES will be encouraged to monitor the weight of their employees as part of a £56m Government plan to tackle Scotland's obesity epidemic.

Workers will type in their weight every morning – using Government-provided software – allowing occupational health staff to spot significant weight gain and offer early help, under the scheme unveiled by ministers. The Government also plans to appoint a full-time official charged with liaising with Scottish food firms and encouraging them to make products healthier.

And if that's not enough read this:

A GOVERNMENT minister has drawn a link between the damage to society caused by child pornography and people who drink too much at home.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, right, made the comparison as he justified the state cracking down on private behaviour which creates public harm. He said excessive drinking at home "impacts on the rights of others" by making demands on the health service, and often harms family and community life.

Now here this: LEAVE US ALONE. The only proper role of government is to defend us from those who initiate force or fraud. Government isn't our nanny.

The fourth story is about Zimbabwe. We haven't gone that far yet but sometimes one wonders...

Story number five is about Sean Connery.

The government now wants to regulate our smoking, eating and drinking. Where's James Bond when we need him?

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Davis v Smeaton?

Love and Garbage has an excellent response to Luke Akehurst's suggestion that Labour:
should find a Martin Bell type candidate - preferably a recently retired senior police officer, or a survivor or relative of a victim of a terrorist attack, to run under the following 5 word candidate description: "Independent - for detaining terrorism suspects"."
Bomb victim Rachel from North London also puts Akehurst in his place:
This is not about being soft on terrorism. It is about being tough about standing up for the things terrorists attack. Democracy. Freedom. The right to walk about without fear.

People have died to protect our freedoms. You should think on what you throw away so lightly.

But it looks possible that Labour may take up Akehurst's idea:
An intriguing new name has emerged as a possible candidate against David Davis in the Haltemprice and Howden byelection, expected on July 10.

It's John Smeaton, the baggage handler hero who won the Queen's Gallantry Medal for helping police foil a terrorist attack at Glasgow Airport last summer.

I'm told that the Labour Party - despite signalling so far that it will not field a candidate in the byelection - is trying to persuade Smeaton to stand as an anti-terrorist candidate.

Apart from the sheer cynicism of such a move, I wonder if Labour has thought this through.

We'd have a by-election in Middle England in which the local man, and, until now, the local MP, would be campaigning on behalf of values that would almost certainly be labelled as "English".

In the Labour corner, supporting a further extension of state power would be someone who, hero though he may be, is even more than Gordon Brown obviously Scottish to the core.

I can think of few things more likely to render the Union asunder.

Libertarians donate to Davis

As Finance Director of the Libertarian Alliance I am pleased to let readers know that we have pledged a donation to the David Davis election campaign.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Bought and Sold for British Gold

Sic a parcel of rogues in a province.

I used to be quite proud of the fact that the British governments of all parties would stand by the Unionists of Northern Ireland. Especially as it seems likely that most mainlanders feel no kinship with the people of the Province.

Today the DUP has stabbed us in the back.

I now say: to hell with them; kick Northern Ireland out of the Union. The UK's probably going to break up anyway. Let's start the process by expressing our outrage at this sell-out of Britain's traditional liberties.

Thursday, 5 June 2008


That's the title of a great book about a great company: Southwest Airlines.

But nutty behaviour has now spread to American Airlines too:

L.I. Family Suing American Airlines Over Peanuts.

Mother Says 4-Year-Old Son Has Life-Threatening Allergy, And That By Serving Nuts His Civil Rights Were Violated

Actually, to sort of quote Bill Clinton (remember him?): I feel their pain. Let me explain.

Around 15 years ago I flew to and from the US on American. And guess what? Some years ago my local MP became Chancellor of the Exchequer. And he's totally nuts. Obviously there's a connection here. Time to contact my lawyer...

Monday, 2 June 2008

Gordon's ASBO

Seen in Newcastle earlier today:

Gordon's ASBO
Originally uploaded by David Farrer

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Oh Frank!

I often think that any future break-up of the UK would probably happen because of simple misunderstandings. All too many Scots seem to think that large numbers of English folk are rich, bloated capitalists who drive around in Bentleys. Even the Scots-born Birmingham MP who managed his party's disastrous election campaign in the town that builds Bentleys seems to think like that!

But the English get Scotland wrong too. Even Frank Field, the only sensible person in the Labour Party.

Here he is in today's Telegraph:

With no residential care-home fees, Scots, unlike the English, don’t face having to sell their homes to pay them.
But it's not true!

What's provided in Scotland is "Free" Personal Care. That's help with things like personal hygiene. The cost of the accommodation itself is born by the resident - just like in England. Now, as a libertarian, I don't think that the state should be paying for any of this. But at least we should get the facts right. As far as I can see, every single blogger and journalist in England believes that retirement and nursing homes in Scotland are provided by the taxpayer. It ain't so.