Tuesday 31 December 2002

NHS breakthrough - increased funding justified!

Glennis Middleton accidentally drank some anti-freeze and was rushed to hospital. The National Health Service was fully up to the challenge:
Doctors at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee told her that alcohol was the antidote and gave her a choice of gin, vodka or whisky.
Being Scotland, she chose the whisky.


Doctors stress that the correct dose has to be given and blood levels monitored thereafter.
Most Scots are quite able to calculate the "correct dose" without medical intervention. Nevertheless, we must hail this breakthrough in medical treatment.

A happy new year to all readers. Keep taking the whisky but cut down on the anti-freeze.

Good news from Norway

The Norwegian government has cut the whisky tax:
From 1 January, Norway’s crippling taxes on Scotch whisky imports are set to be cut by 9 per cent - equivalent to around £1.30 per bottle - in an attempt to clamp down on black market trading.
According to the Scotch Whisky Association:
"The Nordic countries have fiscal sovereignty and can set tax rates as they see fit, but they have to realise that it is unrealistic to expect people to pay such high taxes."
But surely having "fiscal responsibility" is some form of anti-EU xenophobia. So what? Let's raise a glass to the Norwegians tonight.

Monday 30 December 2002

Free travel and free whisky!

Today it was time to visit Borders to catch up with political, aeronautical and photographic magazines. Normally I go to the Edinburgh branch, but that involves a 7 mile drive through the busy pre-hogmanay city centre and out to an eastern suburban retail park. It's actually quicker and less stressful to take the train for the 45 miles to Glasgow. I discovered that today was to see the last journey of the Type 303 electric train, which revolutionised travel in the UK's second-largest suburban rail network. After arriving in Glasgow I made my way to the inner-city station of Bellgrove and boarded the "last train". At Queen Street there was a large group of photographers, a piper and various dignitaries. The ticket collector then came through the train to hand out free tickets, a commemorative photograph of the train and a free, albeit miniature, bottle of whisky for every passenger! After 40 minutes we arrived at Helensburgh where the River Clyde widens into the Firth. Here there were more dignitaries, TV cameras and free coffee. After a stroll round the town I returned to Glasgow and finally reached Borders. There was of course time to visit the wonderful Horseshoe Bar where a pint costs less than £2 and pie and beans costs 80p. An excellent day out.

Sunday 29 December 2002

Labour not so dominant

I was intrigued to read that Labour now has majority control of only 9 out of 32 local councils in Scotland.

And, in by-elections since 1999:

Tories have been the big winners, gaining eight seats and losing none.
That is a surprise.

A captain speaks

Growing up in Scotland rarely leads to an interest in cricket but the headline in the Sunday Telegraph demanded my attention. The captain of the England team has pronounced:
Going to Zimbabwe is a moral issue, and a very important one, and it is not up to cricketers but to government politicians to make the decision.
In these circumstances it is, yes, faintly ridiculous to suppose that the England captain and management have the time to sit down, watch CNN and BBC World, and come to the informed moral judgement which it is necessary to make about going to Zimbabwe.

In my opinion, therefore, the Government should set up a sporting body of some sort - above the ECB and the ICC - to make this moral decision about Zimbabwe on our behalf, and we will then happily abide by it.

Now I recognise that there are arguments in favour of trading with and visiting nasty regimes on the grounds that such contact may bring about liberalisation. It is also arguable that contacts may reinforce criminal governments. What is not legitimate is to say that such decisions, which are indeed important ones, should be left to politicians because sportsmen "haven't got the time" to think for themselves. Hopefully they never have the time to vote.

The fishing crisis

In a letter to the Sunday Herald, Martin Morrison writes:
The Scottish fishing industry is as good an example as any of the damage that is caused by unfettered free enterprise
But the fishing industry has little to do with "free enterprise". Any over-fishing in the North Sea is the result of a lack of property rights, without which there can be no free enterprise. The Icelandic Government has gone some way to resolving the problem in its waters.

Ian Bell's article on fishing also contains a dig at capitalism:

As the magi of the free market right continue to tell us that Scotland's long industrial decline has everything to do with red tape and nothing to do with woeful leadership, more communities will be picked off.
Red tape is certainly a major problem, even if not acknowledged by Mr Bell, but the absence of property rights is just as important.

Friday 27 December 2002

Boring announcement

I see that my local MP has been voted most boring politician in Britain. If he were to become so boring as to do absolutely nothing at all, I might be tempted to vote for him.

Property rights under attack

Stirling Council is planning to compulsorily purchase property in the city and local businesses are up in arms:
Local business owners are fuming after the council issued compulsory purchase and demolition orders on their premises. They say the plans are the latest in a string of such schemes which are harmful to private enterprise, threatening serious damage to, and even the destruction of, local business.
What is encouraging is that the objectors are using correct arguments:
According to documents seen by The Scotsman, the objections cite grounds including "the restriction of market forces, detrimental to indigenous and incoming businesses". They also claim the council has made "little or no effort" to consult local landowners.
It is important to attack Labour on the basis of "restriction of market forces" as this undercuts their ludicrous attempts to appear to be "pro-business".

The state is not your friend.

Thursday 26 December 2002

Fishermen's friends?

It's now just over 4 months until the Scottish parliamentary election. Writing about the Tories, the Edinburgh Evening News states:
Although the Tory leader is now widely seen as damaged goods - lacking in charisma, confused over tax policy and lacklustre in his speeches - party managers in Scotland say a recent visit to the north-east, where he met fishermen ahead of the Brussels decision to cut quotas, was a huge success, with IDS getting across the message that the Tories were the fishermen’s friends.
Indeed so. The Tories "were the fishermen's friends" - until Ted Heath signed up to the European Common Fishing Policy in the 1970s.

The book challenge

Over on Samizdata, Brian Micklethwait writes:
Every so often I rearrange my books to make them take up less space in my home than they actually do take up.
Whenever I have undertaken this task, the books take up more space in my home than they actually do!

I decided to make a list of the current in-pile, which has grown considerably since 25th December:

(1) Black Sea by Neal Ascherson
(2) Stone Voices: The Search for Scotland also by Neal Ascherson
(3) The Scottish Empire by Michael Fry
(4) The Scottish Enlightenment: The Scots' Invention of the Modern World by Arthur Herman
(5) Economic Thought Before Adam Smith (volume 2) by Murray Rothbard
(6) The Rise and Decline of the State by Martin Van Creveld
(7) Anatomy of a New Scotland by Gerry Hassan & Chris Warhurst
(8) The American Civil War: The War in the East 1863-1865 by Robert Krick
(9) Scotland: a Short History by Christopher Harvie
(10) Churchill by Roy Jenkins
(11) The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede
(12) Antony Fisher: Champion of Liberty by Gerald Frost
(13) Sparrowhawk by Edward Cline
(14) The Virtue of Prosperity by Dinesh D'Souza
(15) Circles Under the Clyde: A History of the Glasgow Underground by John Wright & Ian Maclean
(16) No Frills: The Truth Behind the Low-Cost Revolution in the Skies by Simon Calder

The challenge is: how does a blogger with broadband ever reduce the in-pile?

Wednesday 25 December 2002


Merry Christmas to everyone across the world - the last 100 readers came from 15 time zones.

Tuesday 24 December 2002

UK centralisation

A few weeks ago I wrote about the harm done by centralisation in the UK. Today I received the January journal of a UK-wide professional body. 45 out of 47 vacancies advertised are in the southeast of England. As I said earlier, Britain's chaotic transport system and distorted housing markets can't be resolved until the government-created centralisation (actually, "southeasternisation") is recognised and ended.

Sunday 22 December 2002

No freedom, no whisky

We like to make our weekly supermarket visit early on Sunday morning when the store is very quiet. At 7 this morning it was busier than usual with Christmas a few days away. Everything went fine until the checkout lady attempted to ring up a packet of whisky-filled chocolates. The scanning device rejected them because it is illegal to sell alcohol in Scotland before 12.30pm on a Sunday! What was even more galling was that a packet of tequila-filled chocolates was accepted. Why can't I purchase good, healthy food whenever I want?

Saturday 21 December 2002


The Daily Mail reports today that Gordon Brown has cost us £540 million by selling Bank of England gold reserves over the last 3 years. That's some half-million a day. As scandals involving Fife politicians go, this makes poor Henry McLeish a mere amateur.


Henry McLeish was forced out as First Minister of the Scottish parliament a year ago. As a former Westminster MP he was entitled to a £30,000 pay-off from that institution, having not sought re-election in 2001. When he was still First Minister he told MSPs that he would not accept the £30,000. It now turns out that he has taken the cash. So what's his excuse?
He added: "I responded (to MSPs) in my capacity as First Minister and at that time I had no intention to claim the payments available to me on ceasing to be an MP.

"I did not anticipate the situation that I might cease to be First Minister soon afterwards.

"In light of the change in my circumstances, I reviewed these matters and consequently addressed the issue of my entitlement on ceasing to be an MP."

So he gained political credit for announcing that he would forgo the payment only to take it when his "circumstances" had changed. And some people still trust these guys.

Friday 20 December 2002

Business am

It now seems that the plan to keep the paper going as a weekly has failed.

Note this:

Angus MacDonald, chief executive of the publisher of Financial News, last night blamed "Euro bureaucracy" for the deal falling through.

He said: "We wanted to buy the trade and assets of the company, but European legislation requires that any buyer of a company is obliged to keep on all staff.

"It looked like we were going to be forced to take on three times the number of staff that were needed for a weekly title."

As our friends over on Samizdata are always telling us: "the state is not your friend".

Where our taxes go

There was an extraordinary series of articles in yesterday's Scotsman about Helen Liddell, the Secretary of State for Scotland. This woman costs us a lot of money. What exactly is she for?
She draws the same £125,000-a-year salary as Gordon Brown, the Chancellor. But what does she do?

The Scottish Executive has taken over the Scotland Office’s real powers. The result is a shell, and three very important constitutional questions: what does it do? Will it be abolished? And what would replace it?

Ms Liddell (known in Scotland as "Stalin's Granny") issued a series of complaints about the Scotsman newspaper, including objections to letters to the editor!

Since the establishment of the Scottish parliament there is no real role for the Scottish Secretary It is ludicrous for Ms Liddell (earning the same as the Chancellor of the Exchequer) to waste her time and our money spinning against a newspaper. She should be fired and her job abolished.

Thursday 19 December 2002

Being economical with the truth

My goodness. It seems as if Iain Duncan Smith's CV may not be totally accurate. Of course, everything New Labour tells us is true. After all, they promised to remove sleaze from government.

See you Jimmy

It is claimed that the Glasgow accent is spreading to Edinburgh:
In his new book, The English Language In Scotland: An Introduction To Scots, Professor Jones notes "the introduction of Glaswegian pronunciations and other linguistic features across the central belt" and "a levelling between Glasgow and Edinburgh pronunciations"
According to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh:
In a "working class west Edinburgh accent", Eric Milligan, lord provost of Edinburgh, said people from the city would be very surprised to hear they sounded Glaswegian because "it's very different through here"
I don't normally agree with him but I think the LP is correct although he and I may not meet enough of the younger generation that is supposedly being colonised by the western linguistic aggressors.

Wednesday 18 December 2002

An outrage against civilisation

German scientists have produced instant whisky:
Professor Eckhard Weidner of Bochum University has developed instant "powdered whisky" which he claims will soon join hot chocolate and coffee on supermarket shelves.
An editorial in The Scotsman is suitably angry:
Enough is enough. To reduce whisky to the alcoholic equivalent of dried mashed potato simply cannot be contemplated. We say: desist at once.
Quite right. Instant whisky indeed. Now if the Germans could produce instant freedom....

Tuesday 17 December 2002

An outbreak of common sense - for the time being

Edinburgh City Council has "suspended" the ban on parents photographing school nativity plays. Unsurprisingly, the original decision was met with outrage and derision. Where would it have ended? No photography in council owned parks? Blacking out the windows of buses taking children to school? Indeed, why not ban photography in any street owned by the city in case a child was present? There would surely be a tourist boom of people coming to look at the mad council officials although a reactionary minority might wonder why they weren't allowed to take photos of the castle.

The "Pensions Iniquity"

There was a very good article in yesterday's Glasgow Herald about the pension crisis. Alex Bell contrasts the pension rights of those in the state sector with people working for private companies:
While people in the private sector face fewer rest years and more working ones, the public sector still enjoy the old set-up. In return for as little as 30 years of labour, they can expect a guaranteed pension of as much as two-thirds of their final salary.
As Bell says:
It's a recipe for deep resentment and is likely to feature more and more as people realise the apparent iniquity of the situation.
But Bell goes on to write:
At the moment we accept this odd arrangement because it's a neat fix to a problem. By offering good pensions to public workers, the state can get away with low pay levels.
Many public sector wages are set nationally as we have seen in the firefighters' dispute, which is being negotiated at a UK level although the fire service is a devolved matter as far as Scotland is concerned. Private sector wages are largely set according to local conditions with much higher earnings in the Southeast than further north. This results in private sector jobs being more attractive than public ones in the London area but here in Scotland government jobs often outpay what private companies can afford. This can be seen in the job adverts in any Scottish paper. Consequently, many of the brightest people up here go into government jobs that give better pay and pensions than the private sector. This in turn contributes to lower economic growth in Scotland. We should end national (UK) pay negotiations in the state sector. In the longer term most of these jobs should be abolished or privatised.

Monday 16 December 2002

"US materialism"

Nigel Bruce's letter takes John Webb to task for his defence of the US Constitution:
Note the absence of any mention of social responsibility.

Such individualistic materialism is unlikely to hold much appeal for those of us who, whether Christian, Muslim, or humanist, recognise an obligation, under the Golden Rule, to treat others as we would want them to treat us.

But the whole point of individualist libertarianism is that people respect the rights of others, neither initiating force nor being the victims of force initiated by others. There is no conflict with the "Golden Rule". The problem in the US is that the Supreme Court has not upheld the Constitution.

Bad news

It is very sad to read that Business AM is to close in its present form and become a weekly paper. They launched two years ago just as the economy began to turn down. I always enjoyed reading this award-winning newspaper and hope that as many of the staff as possible are kept on for the new weekly version.

Sunday 15 December 2002

Politicophiliac alert

Here's another reason why we need to privatise our schools:
PARENTS are effectively being banned from videoing and photographing school nativity plays, pantomimes and carol concerts as part of an anti-paedophile crackdown.


Gerald Warner, Scotland's Mark Steyn, is on top form today:
The Rasputinesque atmosphere of the court of King Tony is beyond parody. Who is his consort’s best friend and adviser? A former topless model and Men Only cover-girl, once a member of the Exegesis cult, who, in partnership with her mother Sylvia, now deals in crystal-clutching, mud-bathing and rebirthing. It is not the social milieu that frequented Downing Street in the days of Clementine Churchill and Lady Dorothy Macmillan.
and more, more and more:
The farce we have been living through, over the past two weeks, is that Monty Pythonesque moment of history - the Dead Project Sketch. In the perspective of historians, it will be seen as New Labour’s ERM débâcle. Britain has awakened from the trance into which it fell on May 1, 1997 and has done so in a bad temper. At last, the grotesquerie of a Britain ruled by Alf Garnett’s son-in-law’s son-in-law has dawned on the public.
Regime change, anyone?

Topical question...

... asked by Peter Oborne in The Business:
Q. What is the difference between Tony Blair and Peter Foster?
A. Peter Foster has got convictions.

Service with a smile...

...from our friends at the Inland Revenue:
"The Inland Revenue deals with the widest customer base in the UK. This makes us to all intends and purposes the UK’s number-one service brand."
Can I take my business elsewhere?

Friday 13 December 2002

Unintended consequences

Guidelines are being issued to universities to try and reduce student suicides:
A recent study of 400 first-year undergraduates found that moving away from home, meeting new people and the pressure to perform well in exams were all causes of psychological problems affecting one in five students.
I wonder if part of the problem is the government's policy of encouraging university education for more and more youngsters many of whom should be pursuing other training.

Thursday 12 December 2002

Job dispersal

It certainly seems that Edinburgh has more than its fair share of government jobs and that some should be dispersed to other parts of the country.

Of course if we lived in a free society many of these activities would not exist at all and those that did would have no special reason to locate near politicians.

Tony and Cherie

The bottle of champagne moves closer to the fridge.

Wednesday 11 December 2002

How many?

Over on the Holy Blog, Roland Watson points out that there have been eight transport ministers in the last seven years. I went through to Glasgow by train yesterday afternoon. I suppose I should be grateful that there was a train to bring me back.

Wake me up

Perhaps I'm having a very long dream or somehow got stuck in a parallel universe. I mean this sort of thing can't really be happening, can it?
Police have told a Gloucester man he risks breaking the law if he forces his way into a vehicle which has been parked in his drive, blocking his own car in a garage.
Note this:
But neither the police nor Gloucester City Council will help because the T-reg Toyota Picnic is not causing a public obstruction.
Isn't Mr Windo a member of the public? Don't the "public" pay the wages of the police and of Gloucester City Council? Who will put a stop to this nonsense?

The Edinburgh fire

It now seems that Saturday night's fire in the Old Town was caused by a faulty fuse box and not arson as originally suggested. It could have been so much worse:
If the fire on Saturday night had started a few hours later when the pubs and nightclubs in the area would have been full to overflowing, there could have been many deaths and injuries.

And without the skill, dedication and equipment of the firefighters who tackled the blaze, the fire could also easily have spread even more quickly than it did. Flames leaping across the narrow streets and closes of the Old Town could have reached the High Street and ripped up the Royal Mile.

The fire services certainly did a good job but I didn't like the tone of this letter from Robin Mainstone:
What a shame for the Fire Brigades Union that it cancelled its strike action prior to last weekend’s fire in the Old Town. This would have been the ideal opportunity to scotch the myth that the army can cope when the professionals are not there.
On the TV news someone said that the firefighters would not have attended the fire had they still been on strike as there was no apparent threat to life. I trust that would not have been the case. The firefighters are a public-sector monopoly and have good work conditions and an excellent pension scheme. Their employment contracts should preclude the right to strike.

Tuesday 10 December 2002

Chilling the "bubbly"

Some time ago I was given a bottle of champagne. My wife only drinks on special occasions and a whole bottle is too much for this blogger to consume in one go. We decided to save if for the day of rejoicing that will be held when Tony Blair is dragged screaming from Downing Street. The bottle is not yet in the fridge but has been brought out of storage ready for a quick chilling when the wonderful day dawns. Recent events suggest that this may be sooner than I had thought.

The police "service"

Today's Daily Mail tells us that there are 15,324 serving police officers in Scotland. That seems quite a lot but on a typical day 4,904 of them are working in "administration and specialist departments" and 6,957 are "either on holiday, off sick, in court or carrying out paperwork". Of the remaining 3,463, a mere 4%, that is 138 officers, are on foot patrol in the whole country at any time, with a further 588 driving around in their cars. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is not quite what the public expects.

Unsurprisingly, the Mail's editorial is critical but it doesn't go far enough. Some libertarians believe that there is a proper role for a limited, or "nightwatchman" state that provides necessary protective services such as the police and the military. The current policing arrangements give credence to those who doubt that any politically provided services are viable. Certainly, these figures show that there is absolutely no justification for the government's policy of "victim disarmament" that makes it illegal for us to defend ourselves.

Monday 9 December 2002

The travels of "Boozhound"

This guy makes you proud to be Scottish (message number1).


It's sad to see one of the world's best known airlines get into trouble. If you want to know why it's happened, have a look at this.

Sunday 8 December 2002


On Wednesday, I wrote about the response of the police to government proposals to deal with sectarianism in Scotland. Now, the well-known TV presenter, Kirsty Wark has joined in the debate:
At an awards ceremony for aspiring headteachers in Glasgow yesterday attended by Cathy Jamieson, the Scottish education minister, Wark spoke of her unease with a system which meant that as a child in Ayrshire she and her best friend had to go to different schools simply because of religion.

In many parts of Scotland, there are two separate systems of state-funded schooling: one "non-denominational" (essentially Protestant), and one Catholic. I fully agree with the many critics who think that this division is responsible for a great deal of the tension between the Protestant and Catholic communities particularly in the greater Glasgow area where the educational divide is strongest. Support for separatist schooling is strongest in the Catholic community that felt, with some justification, that it suffered discrimination in the early part of the 20th century. Now, Catholics are at the heart of the Scottish establishment, especially in the Labour party and that explains the government's reluctance to grasp the nettle and bring together the separate schools. Of course, in a free society the schools would be totally private and free to offer any type of education, religious or otherwise but I suspect that most schools would be non-denominational and that sectarianism would eventually die a welcome death.

Proposals to ban the flying of "sectarian" flags (including the Union Jack!) at football matches are unworkable, as the fans of Rangers and Celtic make clear:

One of his punters, a guy called Willy who's itching to get into the stands, says: 'You can't ban the Union Jack --- that's our flag. That's totally out of f***ing order banning the flag of Britain.'

He points to the Union flag fluttering over Ibrox, asking: 'Will they pull that down too? I tell you what those arseholes over in Holyrood should do -- they should stop segregated schools, that's where sectarianism begins. Just leave people's flags alone. I mean, what f***ing country are we living in?

Are the "a.......s over in Holyrood" listening?

Friday 6 December 2002

The Auld Alliance

When I visited Ryrie's Bar yesterday evening, two young Frenchmen, probably from the nearby boulangerie, came in and sat at the next table. After a while, one went to the bar for a refill carrying with him a copy of Le Monde. At the same time, the other went to the cigarette machine taking with him his Edinburgh Evening News. Left on the table were a wallet, a bunch of keys and two mobile phones. It's good to see that the younger generation values the printed word. Even if they're French.

Property investment

What a wonderful row has broken out over Cherie Blair's purchase of property for the use of her son. Have a look at this cartoon.

Thursday 5 December 2002

Booms and busts

On Tuesday, I wrote about a new course at Edinburgh Business School that will deal with stock market bubbles. Patrick Crozier commented that inflation was low (or zero) in the UK and Roland Watson wrote that extra money had been created in the UK but could go into stock market and housing and not necessarily into consumption of consumer goods. I think that is correct.

According to the Bank of England's website, the UK money supply increased every year between 1970 and 1990 by percentages in double figures. The rate of increase slowed down a bit in the early 1990s but increased again to 9.9% in both 1995 and 1996 and then 11.9% in 1997. The latest estimates show money supply increasing at an annual rate of a bit over 8%. So why is "inflation" so low in the UK?

I think that two separate forces are operating. Since 1989, the former communist countries have entered the world trading system offering considerably lower costs. We see factories moving from high-cost Western Europe and North America to Eastern Europe and especially China. This is keeping the cost of consumer goods steady along with improving quality. Hence the very low inflation figures in the UK. So where is the extra money going? The inflation figures in the UK don't include house price increases! In Business AM yesterday, it was reported that the average British worker "now earns more from his property than his job" with the typical house increasing in value by £1,602 per month. The extra money is going into the housing market and had also been going into the stock market.

The Austrians say that:

Even more damaging (than the price rises) are the business cycles of booms and busts that monetary inflation causes. In broad outline, when government inflates, it lowers the interest rate below the proper market level, which depends on saving. The artificially low interest rate misleads businesses into making uneconomic investments and creates an inflationary boom. When the credit expansion slows or stops, investment errors are revealed and bankruptcies and unemployment result. Central banks like the Federal Reserve will inevitably create the business cycle.
The credit expansion has slowed to some extent and we have seen that: "investment errors are revealed and bankruptcies and unemployment result". Of course the response of the Fed and the Bank of England is to lower interest rates so as to counteract what the Austrians see as the inevitable result of the prior monetary expansion. If the Austrians are correct, and I think that they are, we shall see more stock market turmoil ahead. I am but an amateur "Austrian" but last year I switched most of my pension fund out of a "with profits" investment into a cash fund returning a modest 4%. By doing so, I locked into the accrued bonuses earned to date and missed out on this year's savage cuts.

Words of wisdom

A very wise last will and testament from a sadly departed gentleman.

(Thanks to Boris Kupershmidt for passing this on.)

Wednesday 4 December 2002

Paying up yet again?

The authorities should protect anyone living here from violent attacks but I find it disturbing to read that we taxpayers may be facing yet another bill:
THE Home Office could face a multi-million-pound compensation bill after an asylum-seeker launched a landmark court case, claiming a decision to force him to stay in Glasgow breached his human rights.
This family is being allowed to live in Britain at taxpayers' expense. There are plenty of poor British citizens who would like to move to parts of the country where crime levels are perceived to be lower. I don't think there's much chance of any of them winning a "multi-million-pound compensation" should they fail to get the government to pay for a move.

The police speak out

English libertarians have quite rightly condemned the introduction of the concept of "hate crimes". The situation in Scotland is somewhat different as there are very few people of non-European ethnicity other than in certain parts of Glasgow (see next story). Up here, the perceived problem is "sectarianism" and politicians are calling for legislation.

The police are not convinced:

SENIOR police officers have warned that the Scottish Executive’s flagship plans to crack down on sectarian hatred are unworkable - less than 24 hours after Jim Wallace, the justice minister, unveiled his detailed proposals.
Here, "sectarianism" refers to Protestant and Catholic rivalry that is connected to the situation in Northern Ireland and which often spills over at and after football games.


This initiative is expected to be followed by wider powers curbing the use of paramilitary memorabilia such as sectarian souvenirs, scarves, banners and flags which can contain IRA or UDA slogans.
It's interesting that senior police officers are willing to say that the new proposals are "unworkable". Let's hope that they will speak out against "hate crime" legislation.

Ex-con tells the truth

The Herald reports that:
JIMMY Boyle, the former Gorbals gangster, who became a celebrated sculptor and writer while serving a life-sentence in Barlinnie jail in Glasgow, yesterday dismissed the Britart movement as "fraudulent - like the emperor's new clothes".
Sounds about right to me.

Tuesday 3 December 2002

How to come top of the class

A new course is to be taught at Edinburgh Business School and it will examine the causes of stock market bubbles and what lessons can be learned. The Scotsman article says:
The events of the past two years, says Napier (the project consultant), suggest that the accumulation of knowledge in the sciences may be cumulative "but in finance it remains cyclical".

Despite the explosion in financial analysis over the past 40 years and the emergence and development of portfolio theory, stock market manias and crashes seem to be as evident as ever.

Of course they are. These "manias and crashes" are the result of decades of government-created fiat monetary systems throughout the world. I would recommend that students (and lecturers) on the course consult the works of Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard in which all will be revealed.

Monday 2 December 2002

Little boy lost

Five-year-old Shabaaz Iqbal became separated from his family and wandered onto a train at Glasgow Central from where he travelled 230 miles to Cheshire before being discovered. Here's what the police had to say:
Police Superintendent Carolyn Harper, who led the search for Shabaaz, admitted people were wary of approaching children for "fear of how that may be construed". But she urged the public to contact the police if they ever saw a child in unusual circumstances and advised parents and their children to agree a plan of action in case they were ever separated.
The Herald editorial says:
It is a depressing sign of our times that people are afraid to approach a child in need for fear of their motives being misconstrued. Had it been a lost dog in Glasgow city centre, it would have been fussed over and taken to the police within the hour. Yet a small child on his own was left to fend for himself. To some extent, the public reaction is understandable. Such is the revulsion towards adults who prey on children that many people, men in particular, are reluctant to intervene. Twenty years ago they would have done so without a second thought. Not now.

Perhaps society requires a new code of conduct where lost children are concerned, one which recognises that while youngsters should not be encouraged to speak to strangers, they ought to know when and how to seek help. Basic tactics, such as teaching them their address, can also prove invaluable. Adults, for their part, should be encouraged to intervene, appropriately, if they suspect a child is in danger. If they do not wish to approach the child in person, they can call the police or alert someone else in authority. The risk of embarrassment from reading the situation wrongly is a small price to pay for saving a child from possible harm.

So adults should "be encouraged to intervene, appropriately". Any sensible adult would be very wary of doing that these days. It seems to me that the anti-paedophile witch-hunt carried out by certain social workers is coming home to roost.

The election looms...

... and the Labour lead drops:
With Labour on 35% in the constituencies and the SNP now close behind on 32%, the prospect arises of Labour's numbers in the next parliament being cut to 51, from the present 55.
The peculiarities of the proportional representational system mean that a Labour/Illiberal Democrat coalition is still the most likely outcome, but a further Labour slippage could produce a dramatic result.

No matter whom you vote for, the government gets in!

A row has broken out following the leaking of the Scottish Cabinet's plans for legislation after next May's election:
Opposition leaders said it revealed an "arrogant assumption" that the Labour-Lib Dem coalition would continue in government.
It may seem to be prudent for all contenders, including the present government, to make plans for life after the election but, as the quote indicates, we have a coalition government:
Opposition parties said these detailed plans undermined the argument that Labour and the Lib Dems will fight the coming election as entirely separate parties
If Labour and the Illiberal Democrats have already agreed to form another coalition, their electoral expense limit should reflect that fact and the monitoring authorities should treat them as one party.

BBC NEWS | Technology | University wins rainmaking grant

Oh no!

Just what Scotland doesn't need: a rainmaking machine. It's supposedly for use in drier climes:

The rainmaker is described as looking like a giant egg-beater and would be placed on catamarans off the coast of desert land.
Well, maybe that's OK but please don't test it here.