Monday, 19 November 2012

Who, exactly, is doing this "allocation"?

I've more-or-less given up on reading stuff about the economic prospects of an independent Scotland. We'd be prosperous or poor according to the extent that property rights are supported. That's about it.

But I just can't stop myself reading this sort of thing:

Scotland’s economic future would be brighter if North Sea oil and gas revenues were allocated on a geographical basis, as the IFS claims its public finances “look to have been somewhat stronger than the UK’s in recent years”.

However, the report warns that if Scotland was to receive oil and gas revenues based on its population rather than geography, the situation would leave the country’s economy in a much weaker position in the long term, due to public spending outstripping tax revenues.

Now I don't believe that the oil belongs to any government. It should be solely under the control of the companies that drill it from under the seabed. Subject of course to any justifiable compensation to fishermen who had previously mixed their labour with the relevant parts of the North Sea.

But if one accepts that government may tax the oil then it surely follows that the government of the country in whose waters the oil resides would be the one to levy any taxation.

The oil in question has already been allocated by geography and geology. Unsurprisingly, international law accepts that the vast majority of the oil in question lies in Scottish territory. If you're not too keen on technical legal matters, consult a map.

If the oil is to be "allocated" on a population basis then it follows that around 8.5% of the M25 would belong to the government of an independent Scotland.

Monday, 5 November 2012

The recovery of 5,000 comments

For the past few weeks I’ve been downloading old comments onto this new template and it’s been quite a job. So let’s go back to the beginning of Freedom and Whisky.

I started F&W back in April 2002 using the original system developed by Blogger.com. Back in those days blogs didn’t have comments. Then a company by the name of Haloscan came up with some software that could be placed onto the Blogger template and this enabled commenting on Freedom and Whisky.

After a while Google acquired Blogger but the only difference was having to log on using a Google password instead of a Blogger one. Haloscan was also acquired by another company – in this case Echo.

Google gradually introduced various new template styles and the later ones included built-in commenting facilities. I resisted upgrading the template because of various reports that I may lose old comments. That was probably a mistake.

On 1st April (Ha! Ha!) this year Echo (formerly Haloscan) announced that all comments would disappear on 1st October. Not to worry though, I could download something called an “XML file” and use it to upload the historical comments to another commenting provider.

I then decided that it really was time to use an up-to-date Google template.

Many web searches indicated that the Disqus system would best be able to cope with this, but, alas, that was not to be. To cut a very long story short, Disqus managed to "download" around 160 out of 5,000-odd comments from the XML file to the new template, but without any of them actually being readable on the blog!

Back to the drawing board.

I went back to the original template. By an amazing stroke of good luck I discovered that I could change the Haloscan/Echo system's controls to show the comments directly onto the face of the blog rather than it being necessary to click through to read each post's comments. That meant that I could copy and save all of the monthly archives, including comments, into around 120 files instead of perhaps 5,000!

I did that during August and September.

Then I switched back to the new template and started the process of copying and pasting the old comments onto the new template, with each post's comments being transferred as a batch. The job was finished earlier today. Here's the control document:


Almost all comments ever written have been transferred, although quite a few in 2003 seem to have completely disappeared from the commenting history. And since then only the last 25 comments from each post have been recovered. The vast majority of posts attracted less than 25 comments but some did go up to 57 comments!

Nevertheless, I reckon that around eighty to ninety percent of all comments now appear on the new template.

If any aggrieved commenter has records of any missing comments please get in touch...




Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Ahead of its time...

I'm still copying the comments across from my old template to this new one. It's very interesting re-reading some of my old posts. Like this one from July 2004:

The Bank of Scotland: RIP


Ever since the "merger" of the Bank of Scotland with the Halifax there's been an outpouring of complaints from irate customers of "The Bank". Hardly a day goes by without a letter being published in the Scotsman and today we have three. (Here's one from Monday.)

My mother's family banked with the British Linen Bank in Annan. They even lived in Bank Street! Ever since moving away in the 1940's my mother always kept a small balance in "her" bank and didn't mind too much when it became part of the Bank of Scotland. Out of the blue she received a letter "thanking her for choosing to bank with the Halifax". She hadn't, nor had any of the other Bank of Scotland customers whose accounts were unilaterally transferred after the "merger". My mother is now unable to communicate with the Annan branch - that's no longer allowed.

My wife and I both opened ISA accounts with the Bank of Scotland - it offered the best rates at the time and we liked the Scottish connection. These accounts were also unilaterally transferred to the Halifax after the "merger". Last night my wife phoned the bank to transfer a sum from her ISA account to her current account, which is with the Clydesdale Bank. First she had to "re-register" her account with a new security code and was then told that she could only make a telephonic transfer from her ISA account to a current account with the Halifax/Bank of Scotland and not to an outside bank. She would have to go into town, withdraw cash from HBoS and deposit it into her own bank! These were the new rules that now applied to ISA accounts according to the phone operator. We cursed Gordon Brown. After the call we had a look at my wife's ISA statement and saw that she had indeed made a similar telephonic transfer to the Clydesdale not too long ago. This morning she phoned HBoS again and was asked to "re-register her account with a new security code" although she had done that last night! Today's operator confirmed the new rules: they're nothing to do with Mr Brown but are the result of the bank "integration". She also said that we could change our accounts from "branch-based" to "telephone-based" ones, and that would enable us to transfer funds to another organisation by telephone in future. This would take ten days to organise! But our accounts weren't opened at any particular branch - the forms were sent by post from the Bank of Scotland's head office. We never chose to have "branch-based" accounts. We were also told that the telephone account would pay an extra 1% interest. Why weren't we told of this option before? All-in-all this "merger" has been an unmitigated disaster and looks like destroying one of Scotland's oldest and proudest businesses. It's such a shame.


My immediately previous post was about "forthcoming" financial problems involving the US housing market...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

It's the SNP's fault.

What a week for the SNP. They're in big trouble over EUgate and NATOgate. But it really is their own fault, isn't it?

It's the SNP's fault because they shouldn't hold any opinion on whether an independent Scotland should be in the EU or in Nato.

It is of course conceivable that someone may think that getting nuclear weapons out of Scotland is their number one political objective. They may then conclude that an independent Scotland is less likely to contain nukes and then go on to support Scottish independence for that reason alone.

Equally, one might conclude that an independent Scotland would be less likely to withdraw from the EU than would a UK dominated by Eurosceptic folk down south.

But it's perfectly possible to believe in Scottish independence and be pro or anti Nato or to be pro or anti the EU.

We don't even know whether the UK itself will be in or out of Nato or the EU after 2015. Who knows what will happen at the next general election?

Surely the point of the SNP is to persuade people here that Scotland is a nation and that therefore it should be independent whether the resulting government be left wing or right wing, authoritarian or libertarian, pro or anti NATO or the EU. It is also a perfectly valid argument for Unionists to agree that Scotland is a nation but that its interests are best served in a multi-national UK state.

The whole question of becoming independent or remaining in the Union should be judged on that basis alone.

And those who think that an independent Scotland would necessarily be a right-on and left-wing paradise might well be in for a rude shock.





Monday, 8 October 2012

Tornado

Tornado by David Farrer
Tornado, a photo by David Farrer on Flickr.

At Leuchars Airshow.

Has Ruth Davidson made Scottish independence inevitable?

Here's the key quote from her speech in Birmingham:

It is staggering that public sector expenditure makes up a full 50% of Scotland’s GDP and only 12% of households are net contributors, where the taxes they pay outweigh the benefits they receive through public spending.

Only 12% are responsible for generating Scotland’s wealth. There are people with household incomes of £50,000 who are paying thousands – indeed- tens of thousands of pounds in taxation, and even that doesn’t cover the amount of money government spends in their name.Now I'd like to see her "workings" but I did a few calculations in my head and am quite prepared to believe the basic message.

So what's the problem then?

It's this. Government statistics show that taxes collected in Scotland are slightly higher than our share of government expenditure, both devolved and reserved. So while it may well be so that only one Scot in eight is a net contributor to the state, the figure for the rest of the UK - and that essentially means England - must be worse.

But that message hasn't exactly made its way to the Tory heartlands has it? Read the comments in the Telegraph and see just how little is known about Scotland down south. Whenever each misconception is corrected, another ten pop up.

So I'd bet that most Tories at their Conference will be thinking: "Even the Scottish leader says that all the Jocks are living at our expense. Let's kick them out."

Is Ms Davidson in the pay of the SNP?

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Junk Mail

Why is it that the only e-mails identified as junk by Demon's e-mail system are Demon's own bills for Internet service provision?

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Comments

I am gradually posting comments from the old template onto this new one. All comments for 2011 and 2012 should now be readable.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

BBC uses one of my photos

The BBC has produced a rather good documentary on Hayek. My photo of Hayek taken outside Buckingham Palace appears at 53:37.

Thanks to Andy Duncan's blog for alerting me to the BBC programme.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

News of the Wool

I'm in the market for a new sweater. My late mother used to work part-time in a shop in Keswick and they had a wonderful supply of sweaters made from the wool of the local Herdwick Sheep. No longer, as I noticed when I was down there recently. In fact, I was astounded at how difficult it seems to be to source another Herdwick sweater. There's a good business opportunity for someone.

But this creates opportunities for others. A bit of Googling led me to Mrs McCornack of Annan. And then I found these folk, also of Annan. A coincidence you may think?

Actually no. I was born in Annan and it looks like I've found the answer to the missing Herdwick question.

Support your local sweater.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Third Way

The question of Heathrow expansion has been going on for as long as I can remember:
The announcement means that the debate over whether Heathrow should have a third runway, or whether a new airport should be built in the Thames Estuary, which has split the Conservative ranks, will drag on for many more months.
For some reason a third Heathrow runway would take around ten years to construct and Boris Island even longer. But what no one ever seems to mention is the real nature of the actual problem.

All of the UK's transport, employment and housing problems are caused by our having an extraordinarily centralised government that is located at one corner of a long and narrow land mass. Not only that, our capital is at the corner of the island that is nearest to the rest of Europe with all of the resulting advantages.

There are three ways out.

The best solution is to get rid of at least ninety percent of government activity. In such a paradise there would no longer be all of those government jobs in London but also no reason for so many private companies to locate there.

Next best would be to establish a proper federal system with the national capital on the Isle of Man. Preferably this would include a reunited Ireland. Again, that would result in a radical decentralisation of the UK.

Finally, if we really can't do without an oversized, hugely centralised and non-federal state, we should move the UK capital to Glasgow. We have the airport capacity. HS2 can start at the top and proceed southwards. To the provinces... And surely there's a Cameron tartan so that the PM could legitimately claim his state kilt on expenses. Then there'd be a British football team, based at Hampden Park of course. And I'm sure that the Queen would love to spend more time at Balmoral, enjoying drams with the Keeper of the Royal Stable, Lord Salmond.

A rebalanced UK would solve so many of our problems. Forget Boris Island and LHR3. Move it all up here.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Comments

I've ditched the Disqus system as according to their site it's failed to load comments older than two years but they didn't show on the blog up anyway!

I've now switched on Blogger's own commenting system.

Back ups of all previous comments are on my computer and I may try to reinstate them at some time in the future.

Monday, 3 September 2012

A new post! Grasmere

OK, so it wasn't taken in Scotland. Or perhaps it was! Cumbria used to be part of the Kingdom of Strathclyde...





Saturday, 1 September 2012

Monday, 2 July 2012

Just say no to bank/state collusion

Alex Salmond's been in a bit of trouble recently over whether to go for the Euro, start a new Scottish currency, or keep the pound. Keeping the pound, like keeping the Queen, all seems a bit, well, unionist, does it not? Actually, I don't think so. Despite its bizarre name the Bank of England is a UK institution and is therefore just as much Scottish as it is English. Similarly Her Majesty is every bit as much Queen of Scots as she is Queen of England. Nevertheless, lots of folk regard a policy of keeping the pound as somewhat of a climb down for Mr Salmond.
There is a way out of this, of course. With one jump Alex could be free. What Salmond needs to say is that an independent Scotland would have no official currency at all. Running the monetary system just isn't a legitimate function of government. The First Minister should say that an independent Scotland would leave the choice of what money to use in the hands of the people, from whose hands it should never have been taken.
This would require a ban on bailing out the shareholders or bondholders of financial institutions that got into difficulty. The government shouldn't be supporting any private company and that obviously includes banks. In addition a proper government of an independent Scotland shouldn't even protect the accounts of customers in banks. Caveat depositor. In such a world people would be very wary of banks and a reputation for conservative management would be essential for any bank to survive, let alone prosper.
More importantly, what would money actually be in a world (OK, a Scotland) without central banking? All historical evidence suggests that people would pick something like gold or silver as the money of choice. But that should be up to the people themselves, not a subject of legislation.
An independent Scotland could lead the world in re-establishing monetary soundness. Interest rates should be set by supply and demand, not by cosy cabals of bankers operating in a state created and controlled insiders' club.


Sunday, 1 July 2012

Not quite "Up North"

Alex Singleton has a post up on his Daily Mail blog. Alex calls for a new elected UK Senate to be situated "up North". Alex suggests Manchester.

Naturally I had to respond:


Good idea Alex.

But in UK terms Manchester isn't in the North. It's only just beyond the end of the Metropolitan Line. The mid-point of the UK mainland is Kendal. If we count the offshore islands the centre of the country is Lockerbie...

So let's really put the new Senate in the north. I suggest Glasgow as a suitable location.

We need an appropriate building; one close to the city centre but not too far from the airport. A listed building that's close to the motorway system. A building that may shortly become available. A building that would come complete with the world's largest supply of union jacks.

Put the Senate in Ibrox Stadium!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Just how many tourists will get arrested during the 2014 games in Glasgow?

Ten?

A hundred?

A thousand?

Probably far more if this is implemented:

Amateur Photographer (AP) can exclusively reveal that Glasgow Subway passengers will be told they must ‘not take photographs, or make video, audio or visual recordings on any part of the subway'.
These authoritarian bansturbators are a menace to civilised society. The Glasgow Subway is one of the city's great icons and it's exactly what tourists will want to photograph. What a message to send to Scotland's visitors. What's needed is for major investors to refuse to do business in cities ruled by authoritarians.

Monday, 7 May 2012

The Midlothian Campaign

I don't live in Midlothian East but if I did I'd have voted for Peter de Vink last week.

Brian Monteith writes about the de Vink victory in today's Scotsman

If there is any doubt that the Conservatives have become a toxic brand, the council election victory of Peter de Vink will dispel it, writes Brian Monteith

Monteith concludes

It should not need repeating, but I shall say it yet again. The Conservatives are finished in Scotland and the only hope for conservatism is to start again before more good people like Peter de Vink walk cross the floor for good.

That seems to be correct in my view. The Tories should have picked Murdo Fraser as their leader last year, but they bottled it.

I'd be quite happy to see the Union continue but only in a very different form as explained here:

Withdraw from the EU

Devolve all powers - except defence and foreign affairs - to the various national parliaments

Each parliament to be fiscally independent with contributions being made to the federal government in proportion to population

The federal government should be situated on the Isle of Man, which is not in any of the home countries but is equidistant from all four of them

The Irish Republic should be invited to unite with the North and rejoin the UK with Dublin taking its rightful place in the Anglosphere alongside Cardiff, Edinburgh and London

Well, there's probably not enough time for that to be sorted before 2014. So what the Coalition government needs to do is to move the British government from London to Scotland. At once, the UK's demographic problems would be solved. No longer would our wealth be artificially sucked into London and the Southeast as must be the case when the state spends so much of the country's wealth. We'd solve all of those UK regional imbalances that do so much harm. And most Scots would support such a rebalanced Union.

But I think that Edinburgh would be overwhelmed by a big transfer like that, given that the British people haven't yet realised that almost all state activities should be abolished outright.

That means that the British capital should move to Glasgow. Think of all the benefits. Unemployment in Glasgow would fall at a stroke; the city's restaurants, hotels and pubs would boom; Prestwick airport would be revived. And two iconic buildings will shortly be available for the star roles.

The House of Commons can be rehoused in Ibrox stadium: so close to the airport and ever so loyal to the British state. And without the 'Gers Celtic would have no purpose in life, other than that of providing the new home of the House of Lords and so appropriate for all of those Scottish Labour peers...

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Private bad, public good

Just when I thought that the state could sink no lower I read this:
A transplant ambulance driver has been found guilty of speeding while travelling from Edinburgh with a human organ on board.

Andy Thomson, 46, from Blyth in Northumberland, got three penalty points and a £60 fine.

Fortunately the liver was delivered from Edinburgh to Leeds in time for a transplant operation.

It seems that there's such a thing as a "Section 37 exemption" that may be used to rule out speeding prosecutions in emergency cases. So why no exemption this time? Here's the shocking answer:

"Lothian and Borders Police have made it very clear that they will not accept a section 87 exemption from private ambulance operators, despite the fact that the exemption is only ever used in emergency situations when we are working under contract to NHS Blood and Transplant."
So is it more important to attack private suppliers than to save lives?

Monday, 23 April 2012

The establishment

The Mail carries an article by Dominic Sandbrook about Ferdinand Mount's new book.

Mount's theme is that Britain is run by an out-of-date and out-of-touch self-perpetuating elite. I have no argument with that, but I don't quite think that Sandbrook or Mount have understood the real problem.

Consider this extract:

Mount gives the example of High Bickington, a village in Devon which put forward a much-needed scheme for 36 new homes for poor families, 16 private homes, a school and a community centre.

Everyone backed it. The district council approved it. So did the county council. Even the relevant minister in London liked it. But the scheme died, crushed by the Government Office For The South West — just one of thousands of quangos of faceless, unelected bureaucrats.

We are obviously expected to take the side of the locals against the distant bureaucrats. But I don't think that we've got enough information to make a proper judgment on this particular event.

For a start, who owns the land in question? Does the legitimate owner wish the proposed development to go ahead? Who was going to fund the homes, school and "community centre"? A private developer is unlikely to say that he's building homes "for poor families": this sounds to me like a proposal to spend taxpayers' money, not a private investment. And something called a "community centre" is almost certainly a creation of the state. The same state that is resolutely destroying real community centres - otherwise known as pubs.

And perhaps the Office For The South West is filled with sound libertarians who are opposed to what sounds like a boondoggle. Or maybe it's the other way round and I've unjustly maligned a genuine local development that's entirely funded on the free market and that's being attacked by wicked statists in the OFTSW.

I strongly suspect that neither group is standing up for the rights of legitimate property owners. That would be an astounding development.

Mount's point seems to be that local is good and distant is bad without considering the rights of the property owners involved.

The real aim should be to defend liberty wherever it is located and that means reducing the powers of politicians and bureaucrats whether they are in Parliament or Parish, or in Quango or Council.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Comments

Readers may be wondering why comments are currently appearing in the main view rather than in a separate clickable window.

It's all to do with the closing down of my current commenting system at the end of September. The Freedom and Whisky template goes way back to the days when Blogger was an independent company. Back then, there were no commenting facilities on the template. After a while a company by the name of Haloscan (subsequently acquired by Echo) provided free commenting software that could be inserted into the Blogger template. That's what I've been using all these years.

The Blogger company was eventually bought by Google and I now post via a Google log-in. Newer Google templates have their own built-in commenting facilities but I've always resisted upgrading my template in case the old comments couldn't be migrated across. Now Echo has announced that the comments will be switched off from 1st October.

So, what to do?

First, as advised by Echo, I have downloaded the historical comments into something called an XML file. I think that some very early comments didn't make the journey... Apparently it's possible to transfer these historical comments into one of the newer Google templates that has commenting facilities. At some time I'll upgrade to one of these new templates but what's not clear is this: Will the XML file of old comments make it onto the new template given that they were originally posted onto an old one?

Ever since this blog started I've been backing up my monthly posts onto Word documents. As a result of making an adjustment in the Echo system the comments now appear on the main blog page rather than in a separate window. So I am now able re-backup every month's postings with all comments being visible, thus giving me a complete historical record. Also, the backups are now going into a Textedit file instead of Word and that maintains all of the clickable links and all of the photographs. At some stage I'll probably print off the whole thing.

After the new backup's been completed I'll switch to one of the current Google blogging templates and attempt to upload the XML file of comments. If that doesn't work I can always copy and paste the old comments onto the new system...

Can anyone think of a better way?

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Harry Browne

This is a great book that should be read by everyone.

Scottish Libertarians


The Scottish Libertarians are developing nicely and plan to become a political party:

There are a few big announcements to make. The National Council of Representatives (NCR) for the Scottish Libertarians has been quite busy laying the foundations for the party.

The working draft for the party manifesto is now available for reading on-line at the website and it has already created a bit of a storm. The official version has to wait until after the first Annual General Meeting where members can debate, argue, re-write, and finally vote on the final version.

I hope to attend their Edinburgh meeting tomorrow.

The Statement of Principle of the Scottish Libertarians is excellent and can be found here.

Monday, 9 April 2012

A fundamental error in Austrian economics!

Earlier today I started to read the excellent pocket-sized version of Man Economy and State along with Robert Murphy's Study Guide to the great work.

Imagine my shock when I came across a fundamental error.

CLICK to enlarge:

Line x4 on the left hand diagram should be one row down, i.e. one line below Y3!

Obviously.

Thank goodness my forty-year-old version of the great work had things correct, otherwise I might have given up 2% into the book and never have become a libertarian...

Monday, 2 April 2012

Liberty League

Mrs F&W and I went down to Newcastle to attend the Liberty League weekend conference. We hadn't quite realised that this was essentially a student event but we were made welcome and had a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days. Some of the speakers I'd met before - Kevin Dowd, Madsen Pirie, Claire Fox and Alex Singleton.

After Kevin Dowd's second talk one of the locals said that the number of libertarians in Newcastle could be counted on the fingers of one hand. "Pah" I responded: "I can remember when the number of libertarians in the whole of the UK could be counted on the fingers of one hand!"

When we arrived I didn't recognise a single name on the attendee list - but that's a good thing is it not? There are now so many libertarians in the country that one couldn't possibly know all of them.

At Newcastle Central Station I noticed quite a few attendees making their way homeward. (To think again?) . I enjoyed a pint of Guinness with vertical black and cream stripes, specially produced to mark Newcastle's defeat of Liverpool earlier in the day. It was, after all, the First of April...

Friday, 30 March 2012

San Francisco

We paid a short visit to San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. Here are the photos:

Cable Cars etc.

Bars

Black and White

Mission

Palace of Fine Arts

General

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Comments and the new URL

Readers may have noticed the problem with the commenting system. It's the result of the new Google policy of changing the URL from .com to one that is country specific. So, if you're reading this in the UK, the last part of the URL will change automatically to .co.uk. That in turn screws up the commenting system provided by Echo.

If you amend the .co.uk ending to .com/ncr all will be back to normal. Or "temporarily" as Google puts it. The purpose of this is to allow Google to render posts unseeable in certain countries but not others...

Of course, politicians will want to make the entire Internet "unseeable".

Echo (the commenting company) has provided me with some code that's meant to solve this problem. So far it doesn't. I do see however that the .dot.com version still appears on the Safari browser but not on Firefox.

I imagine that UK blogs that use Google's own commenting system aren't affected by this. I use Echo because this blog and its template predate Google's purchase of Blogger. I'm not sure that an update to a new Google template is viable given my desire to keep the historical comments.

Does any reader know what I can do about this?

In return I offer a way of becoming the richest person in the world.

All you need to do is to produce software that's guaranteed NEVER to be updated without the user's specific approval. Ant failure to meet this commitment would result in a large payment of gold bullion being transferred to the victim. But which bank is safe enough to keep the necessary gold in escrow?

(UPDATE: Thanks to Echo for fixing this.)

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A reply to this.

I've followed your blog for quite some time but this piece is very upsetting.

Let's start with this: "Scottish identity is fundamentally an ethnic affiliation." I'm sorry, but that's completely wrong. How does one explain all of those English born SNP activists not to mention the various English born SNP members at Holyrood? Our SNP education secretary was born in Kent. And what about the SNP's Asian politicians and the fact that the SNP deputy leader represents what's probably the most ethnically Asian place in Scotland?

Also let's note that the SNP wants the independence referendum to be based on those who live here. It's the unionists who want it to based on place of birth.

The desire for independence is connected with Scotland's different civic society, not on ethnicity.

Your students take A- levels; ours take Highers. Your degrees take three years; ours take four years. You have barristers; we have advocates. The head of your national church is the Queen: the head of ours is Jesus Christ. Your chartered accountants are ACAs or FCAs; ours are CAs. Your architects are in the RIBA; ours are in the RIAS. Your teachers join the NUT; ours the EIS. Your cup final takes place at Wembley; ours at Hampden. You have twelve-man juries; we have fifteen. Your National Portrait Gallery is in St Martin's Place; ours is in Queen Street.

And so on and so on.

It's the existence of our own separate civil society that's the key to understanding Scotland.

The idea that the identities of Bradford and Liverpool are unique in the same way as Scotland's is risible.

By the way, this separate Scottish civil society is not the result of devolution, but rather its cause. And it may well become the cause of independence if its existence continues to be ignored by England. The "presumption of the English norm" is what will most likely end the Union. A Union of which I am actually quite fond.

The Scottish (and English) border has been established for centuries. Does anyone think that Germany can't be clearly defined despite its several boundary changes in the last century? Then I wonder why you mention "The Orkneys", a sure sign of not knowing much about Scotland. Ah, it's the oil, isn't it? If I had a pound for every English person who told us that the boundary didn't go due eastwards, I could buy all of the oil in the North Sea for myself. We do study geography up here you know. As it happens, international law applies the equidistance principle in these cases, not the angle of entry into the sea. As it also so happens, the equidistance principle also means a northeasterly boundary. Universities, think tanks, economists, and yes, oil companies know all of this full well. All revenue calculations are based on the internationally accepted northeasterly boundary. Of course, if some of our English friends get their way and Hadrian's Wall is rebuilt things would be very different…

On the EU, I'd love it for an independent Scotland to be out of the whole thing. But I take it you haven't heard of recent Spanish government pronouncements rejecting claims that they'd blackball Scotland, the EU's biggest source of oil and a major supplier of fish to Spain. There are plenty of European lawyers who accept that Scotland and the RUK would both be regarded as successor states to the UK. That's historically logical, is it not? On that basis, both would have to re-apply or both would automatically continue as members.

It would seem that you are unaware that government figures regularly show that Scotland is financially a boringly average part of the UK and indeed of Europe, and that it has recently been doing better than the rest of the UK.

I have little doubt that the most likely cause of the break-up of the UK be southern misunderstanding.

Is this e-mail a con?

Attn:

Your name top the list of Americans who have been struggling for many years now to get back their unclaimed- Lotto winnings, Contract payments and Inheritance fund from oversea banks/countries without success.

As part of President Barack Obama's Economic Blueprint, aimed at empowering Americans financially, as outlined in his last State of the Union Address, the President had ordered that we HELP in getting your full entitlements transferred to you immediately from any oversea Bank(s)/Countries where your fund is located. To enable us conclude this ASAP, you would have to provide me with the following information for confirmation purposes;

1: Your full names

2: Your contact address

3: Your telephone/fax #s

4: What Banks/Countries is your fund located & Amount

Regards,

Tim Geithner, Secretary, United States Department of the Treasury,

Probably a con. You see, I'm not American...

Monday, 20 February 2012

The continuing saga on Political Betting

I've just posted this over on Political Betting:
I have to agree that James Kelly is a bit misguided. Because he is a socialist, that is.

But on the question at hand he has my full support. Mike has built up the best political site in the UK. And as a hard-core libertarian I fully support Mike’s right to make any rules whatsoever. However, the best sites do tend to run off thread very quickly simply because of the volume of traffic. Look at the excellent Belmont Club blog for example. The solution for the Brit Nats (or English Nats – it’s sometimes difficult to tell) is simply to out post the Scot Nats.

My own background is both English and Scottish. Generally speaking I believe that the Union has been a good thing and the UK a force for good in the world. But I must say that I am increasingly likely to vote for independence, as are many others in the Scottish business community. I am however open to persuasion, not that there’s any sign of intelligent campaigning from the Unionists.

Whether the UK continues to exist for more than another thirty months is clearly the most important issue facing the country. Restricting comments about Scotland is just the sort of thing that contributes to nationalist feelings. I urge a change of policy.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Margaret McAlpine and Joan Thatcher

The SNP MSP Margaret Joan McAlpine has got herself into a bit of trouble:
What I said that day was clipped on some television bulletins in a way which cut me off mid-sentence so that I seem to be saying that Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Tories were anti-Scottish, full stop.

But there was no full stop. The sentence goes on to say “in coming together to defy the will of the Scottish people and the democratic mandate that they gave us to hold a referendum at a time of our choosing.”

I can fully understand Joan's annoyance at being misquoted, in particular by the egregious Douglas Alexander on Question Time.

But cast our minds back to around twenty-five years ago.

The then UK prime minister Joan Margaret Thatcher shocked us all by stating that: "There is no such thing as society".

This "quote" has been continuously thrown at Mrs Thatcher.

Except that's not quite what she said, was it?

Here's the full quote:

And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour.
I strongly suspect that plenty of SNP politicians have "quoted" Mrs Thatcher wrongly over the years. What goes around comes around.

On balance this event is probably a useful lesson for the SNP. More than two years before the referendum they've learnt that they are in a fight to the death. One side will win and one will be destroyed.