Saturday 30 November 2002
It’s the perfect moment for it. The place is still exotic without being alienating or frightening and, with a new government led by Lula da Silva, it’s poised on the brink of a new era - it’s becoming more international and cosmopolitan. Brazil will soon be keeping up the same beat as the rest of the world. So get there now."Exotic without being alienating or frightening" and "poised on the brink of a new era", she thinks. Well, here's what President-elect da Silva said:
In order to achieve yesterday’s result, it was of fundamental importance that the Workers’ Party, a party of the left, should have understood the need of allying itself with other political parties. The PL (Liberal Party), the PcdoB (Communist Party of Brazil), the PMN (National Mobilization Party) and the PCB (Brazilian Communist Party) lent their inestimable support in the first ballot. They were joined in the second ballot by the PSB (Brazilian Socialist Party), the PPS (Popular Socialist Party), the PDT (Democratic Labour Party), the PV (Green Party), the PTB (Brazilian Labour Party), the PHS (Humanist Solidarity Party), the PSDC (Christian Social Democracy Party), and the PGT (General Workers’ Party).Workers, communists, "mobilizers", more communists, socialists, more socialists, labourites, greens, more labourites, humanists, social democrats and more workers! And I'd bet that the "liberals" are nothing of the sort. What a tragedy for Brazil - "keeping up the same beat" as all too much of the rest of the world.
Friday 29 November 2002
ANYONE in doubt as to how to celebrate St Andrew’s Day tomorrow should take their lead from La Bamba Mexican restaurant in Aberdeen, which is planning to substitute beef with red-hot chilli. Haggis, neeps and tatties are being jettisoned to create such culinary delights as Blaw Yer Mooth Off Burritos, Nae mild Nachos, Tartan Army Tortillas, and Mary Quesidillas of Scots. "Our chilli haggis dishes will add spice to the St Andrew’s Day fiesta," explains La Bamba’s managing director, Stephen Dillon.Sounds like a hot time in auld Aberdeen tomorrow. It's too far for a night out so I'll stick to something more traditionally Scottish. Something more in line with the name of this website is quite capable of "blawing yer mooth off".
The left-of-centre Labour MSP refrained from endorsing publicly the Scottish Executive's collectively-agreed description of the fire strike as "unacceptable"In yesterday's Scotsman, Peter MacMahon wrote:
On Tuesday evening and again yesterday morning, Cathy Jamieson, his minister for education and party deputy, was fielded by the Executive to answer questions in the wake of Dr Simpson’s resignation. Asked if she agreed with the First Minister’s assertion that the firefighters’ strike was "unacceptable", Ms Jamieson resolutely refused to do so.I don't always agree with Peter MacMahon ( a former Labour spin doctor), but here he is absolutely correct:
It is clear from her performance that Ms Jamieson, who has an impeccable left-wing pedigree within the Labour Party, thinks no such thing. As a veteran of the campaign to retain Labour’s Clause Four, which committed the party to sub-Marxist nationalisation, and a long-standing activist within the anti-Blairite Grassroots Alliance, Ms Jamieson was only being true to her beliefs. It very likely that she believes in giving the firefighters a 40 per cent pay rise.
She is a minister in the Scottish government that is at one with its UK counterpart in condemning the strike; is dealing with the consequences of providing fire cover using Green Goddesses and troops; and is determined there should be no pay rise above 4 per cent without significant changes in working practices. By refusing to condemn the strike, Ms Jamieson is therefore in a position that makes it difficult for her to remain a minister. Plainly, she does not fully support Executive policy. By refusing to condemn the strike, Ms Jamieson is therefore in a position that makes it difficult for her to remain a minister. Plainly, she does not fully support Executive policy.Jack McConnell should sack her. The trouble is that he is running out of untarnished backbenchers to promote.
Thursday 28 November 2002
First Minister's question time was fun. Jack McConnell looked smaller than I had imagined and seemed nervous when challenged about the NHS. The Presiding Officer (speaker), Sir David Steel, told the Scottish Nationalists that they were making too much noise when McConnell was speaking but I heard them afterwards saying that Labour do the same when the SNP have the floor.
The Scottish Parliament has a semi-circular seating arrangement rather than the supposedly more confrontational Westminster face-to-face layout. The inter-party shouting and rivalry seemed just the same to me. I shall have to visit the tax-consumers more often.
Wednesday 27 November 2002
Tuesday 26 November 2002
But there is controversy:
A "flawed" survey of 180 tourists by VisitScotland suggests that half of Scotland's visitors think wind farms would be a blot on the landscape, while a quarter of those questioned said they would avoid areas where wind farms were built.I am a keen landscape photographer (a good site here) and I must say that the wind farms that I have seen make an interesting addition to the scenery. Of course, they wouldn't be necessary if the greens weren't so anti-nuclear.
Chris Tomlinson, BWEA head of planning, said: "Unfortunately, this study is flawed given that the methodology has been tailored towards achieving a negative response to wind farms. Only 180 people were interviewed and the sample was self-selected.
With the Confederation of British Industry this week making clear that business’ honey-moon with Mr Blair and his party is over, the future could scarcely be bleaker.I heard the the SNP leader on the radio a few minutes ago. He sounded very cheerful.
Except that in Scotland it is. If the strike drags on into the new year, Labour faces a disaster in May’s Scottish Parliament elections.
The minister responsible for the fire service in Scotland has resigned after claims he described striking firefighters as "fascist bastards".Note that:
It was reported that he said: "We must not give into the bastards. These people aren't socialists, they're protectionists, they're fascists - the kind of people who supported Mussolini."It is sad to think that a man with a doctorate fails to realise that fascists are socialists and that socialists are protectionists.
I suspect that Dr Simpson will be merely the first political victim of the firefighters' strike.
Monday 25 November 2002
At Walker Road, pupils don't have 'French lessons'. Instead, French-born teachers Sylvie Grigas and Philippe Couineaux teach the normal curriculum entirely in French.Of course the children may pay more attention to glamorous French teachers than to local ones.
Sunday 24 November 2002
'The idea that there are little groups of English people being persecuted in Scotland doesn't seem to hold at all. 'It seems as though English people in Scotland see problems in the same places as do Scots:
English composer Dave Heath moved to Scotland with his partner, Angela Tunstall, in 1993 to work with the BT Scottish Ensemble. They eventually settled in Edinburgh with their children in 1997. Any anti-English sentiment Heath has experienced has tended to be within the press -- and primarily related to footballI remember many, many people up here saying during the World Cup that they had no problem with the English team or the English fans but couldn't stand the English media.
Saturday 23 November 2002
The advert for Yorkie chocolate is in no way offensive to women, most chocolate products are aimed at women and Yorkie is more likely to be bought by men and so is aimed at them - gently poking in the process and suggesting that women to FIND THE PRODUCT DESIRABLE but humourously challenging them to buy it - that is A JOKE.
Friday 22 November 2002
The Scottish Nationalists don't need to try. The English media does the job for them.
Fergus Ewing (SNP) then rose to his feet to announce: "The word I choose to highlight is ‘bluffelheid’."And would this wonderful word be useful for politicians? A "bluffelheid", Mr Ewing told us, is:
defined as "a person who has a very large head but a very small brain".The presumption of innocence is being whittled away by our government. I suggest that all politicians must be assumed to be "bluffelheids" until they can prove to the contrary.
Thursday 21 November 2002
Economically, this area is ahead of every other region. It has 35 per cent of the country’s population, but produces 42 per cent of its output. Average productivity per head is a whopping 35 per cent higher than elsewhere. If the rest of the country could match this, Britain would be the most productive of all the major European economies.I'm not sure it's as simple as that. The UK is probably the most centralised of all modern countries. Even after devolution, 87% of our taxes are levied at the national level. In the US it's 18%. In the rest of Europe taxes are levied roughly half by the national governments and half locally. Where the taxes are collected goes economic and political power. I remember reading some years ago that Washington DC had the highest per-capita wages in the US and that most of them were dependent in some way on the federal government. That's in a country levying a mere 18% of taxation at the centre.
A very large part of London's economy is there precisely because it is the capital city of a country whose government spends some 40% of our GDP and whose London-resident ministers channel almost all of that expenditure through the London-based civil service. This in turn means that London hosts the national press (English, not British actually), the BBC, commercial TV, media-associated industries like advertising and PR, the political parties, almost all lobbyists, charities, trades unions and professional organisations. This centralisation of decision makers and influencers in turn makes London the natural location for the head offices of companies whose operations are spread throughout Britain. All of this is why the South-east dominates our economy and why it is impossible to solve the imbalances in housing and transport.
If we want to see a more economically balanced Britain we can either reduce government expenditure to, say, 10% of GDP, or we can spread government more evenly throughout the country. I support the first option. I suspect that neither will be implemented.
Wednesday 20 November 2002
Professor Donald MacRae, chief economist of Lloyds TSB Scotland, told an audience at the University of Abertay Dundee, that reserved fiscal powers are limiting the potential of Scotland’s economy, and that the country is falling well behind its competitors in terms of business growthMembers of the Scottish Parliament can't be expected to exercise proper responsibility unless they raise their own revenue:
Fiscal devolution brings fiscal responsibility and accountability - tax and spend becomes truly tax and spend, not just spend.
I was rather surprised to see that Scotsman columnist Bill Jamieson sees merit in fiscal devolution:
MacRae is at pains not to do down the Scottish economy as a hopeless and irredeemable failure. But he rightly identifies the core problem: the structural asymmetry that has left the Scottish parliament as a spending and tax revenue disbursement machine with none of the real choice-making and discipline that comes with having to raise the money to be spent. Scotland’s MSPs have no real concern for the health and wealth of Scotland’s economy, since their powers are limited to dividing up the Westminster block grant.Absolutely. Let's make our politicians really responsible for their actions.
Many are of the opinion that BAA’s ownership of both Glasgow and Edinburgh airports is harmful to the Scottish economy. I agree. We need some competition between the two airports assuming that the politicians never agree to allow the construction of a new airport equidistant from the two cities.
Tuesday 19 November 2002
There is, in British society at present, a most disastrous retreat from bourgeois culture, as the reports of Theodore Dalrymple in this magazine so alarmingly illustrateFair enough. Dalrymple is one of the best observers of our social scene.
But what's this, Mary:
Capitalism has produced an uncouth strain of people who have no idea how to behave, think only of their own gratification, shriek foul-mouthed abuse at anyone who frustrates their whims for two seconds, and have never been properly told off for their appalling conduct.The "disastrous retreat from bourgeois culture" has been caused by socialism, not capitalism. Government owned courts refuse to punish criminality, government owned schools relentlessly dumb-down British children and government welfare allows the underclass to live without showing respect to others. Capitalism is the friend of bourgeois culture, not its enemy.
I would like to see journalists quoting total "package" values when writing about people's wages in future.
Monday 18 November 2002
Tommy Lindsay was on his way home from his after-school drama club in the pouring rain when he tried to board a number 3 Lothian bus.Perhaps I don't need to point out that Lothian Buses is a "public" and not a private organisation. The typical government response:
But the youngster says the driver stopped him, insisting he was too wet to get on, and then pulled away, leaving the soaking schoolboy facing a half-hour walk home alone in the dark.
The spokesman would make no comment on whether or not it was company policy to refuse entry to a bus because a person was too wet.I have a comment. Privatise them. Now.
North Korea has 500-1000 missiles that can reach any target in South Korea, Japan, Okinawa and Guam. It is not likely that North Korea has enough nuclear warheads for all of its missiles, but it does have more than enough biochemical warheads for its missiles. The 'experts' say that North Korean missiles are 'wobbly' and inaccurate. Missiles tipped with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are not meant to take out military targets that require pinpoint accuracy, but they are terror weapons for extended civilian targets - cities, water reservoirs, power grids, and so on.
North Korea has a small fleet of ICBMs - estimated to be a dozen or so. Some of these may reach the US homeland with WMD warheads. Even a single WMD warhead exploding in the United States will cause a pandemonium and major economic disruptions. North Korea's ICBMs are more for political objectives than military. The real punch will come from North Korea's medium and short-range missiles launched from 'fishing' boats on the US homeland from its coastal waters.
Unlike in the Korean War of 1950-53, when Japan escaped unscathed, the next war will see Japanese cities in ruins and its economy devastated. Japanese cities are well within the range of North Korea's 500+ mid-range missiles and North Korea's special forces.
Sunday 17 November 2002
If there is a revival on the right, it is unlikely to start among the quarrelsome Conservatives in the Commons. It is more likely to come in a sudden, single-issue gust, through a movement like the Countryside Alliance or a "No" campaign against the euro. There will be an opposition - just not as we know it.
Faced with this appalling picture, Britain’s pro-EU establishment has just nothing to say. Its dwindling members have watched the economic decline of Germany and the deepening slowdown across the euro zone as if in a state of disbelief and denial that the economic model into which they wished to decant the British economy has spectacularly unravelled before their eyes. They are at a complete loss to advance any coherent analysis as to why this has happened, still less any policy for getting Europe out of this mess.Futhermore:
The demise of the EU as a beneficial economic construct, or one in which its people had hope of better times and an end to the relentless slide of Europe on the global stage, is now at an advanced and highly critical stage.This is an extraordinary confession of the political bankruptcy of Europe, and a measure of how complete is the intellectual collapse of the remaining pro-Euroists in Britain.The "political bankruptcy of Europe", the "intellectual collapse of the remaining pro-Euroists", "this busted flush" - I suspect that it won't be too long before some mainstream politicians see a gaping hole in the political marketplace. Yes, it's time to get out.
When this busted flush gets round, there is every possibility of a ferocious policy reassessment, not just of Britain’s status as a "pre in" but of how long we can pretending we really want a place at the rotten heart of Europe. The collapse of idea in Europe may yet be the event that will snap Britain awake from a 30-year delusion.
Saturday 16 November 2002
I forgot to mention that during the quiet period an elderly lady came into the bar asking if she could sell the Salvation Army's War Cry. She was allowed in and made sales. About twenty minutes later in came a scruffy individual trying to sell the Socialist Worker (surely a contradiction in terms). He was immediately shown the door.
By 5pm it seemed that there were 700 customers and still 8 bar staff. If the Springbok fans weren’t so big we could have fitted in 1,000.
Friday 15 November 2002
The failure of the Scottish body to act has sparked criticism that it will spoil efforts to make Edinburgh more attractive to visitors from overseas.As a member of the NTS, I support their decision not to waste our resources. Does anyone seriously think that someone from the Eurozone is going to travel all the way to Scotland without knowing to bring some sterling?
Thursday 14 November 2002
Wednesday 13 November 2002
Tuesday 12 November 2002
Global warming has been blamed for the recent spate of landslides causing havoc for rail travellers across ScotlandWhat the railway spokesman actually said was:
We have obviously been aware of the climatic change over the past few years, and we have put a significant investment programme in place to deal with structures and drainage problems.And a Glasgow University geographer pointed out that:
climate change was often used as a convenient scapegoat blamed for flooding and landslides. "Landslides are not necessarily caused by extra rainfall," said Dr Evans. "If you steepen a slope artificially, the slope is going to be unstable, as the land tries to return to its natural form. Engineers attempt to restrain the slope, but their solutions are sometimes inadequate. "There are more people than ever before, and we are digging and creating more structures than ever before, so that our engineering solutions need to be modified - otherwise, if the climate continues to become warmer and wetter, we are going to see an increase in landslides and other problems. Other countries have heavy rainfall, yet do not suffer the same problems."So some of the problems we face may be caused by inadequate engineering solutions, not by the weather.
Note that the geography lecturer says "if the climate continues to become warmer and wetter", not that it will. Perhaps the works of Lomborg are reaching our universities.
Monday 11 November 2002
What I found surprising in this large gathering of British, European and North American libertarians was just how many were not familiar with the world of blogging. This is actually reassuring. The blog is a wonderful propaganda tool for spreading libertarian ideas and at the conference I realised that we are only just starting to use it.
Saturday 9 November 2002
Friday 8 November 2002
The expenses bill run up by the 129 members of the Scottish Parliament went up by more than £1 million last year, to almost £8 million, it emerged yesterday.The top spender was the MSP for Kilmarnock, Margaret Jamieson, who:
refused to talk about her extraordinarily high expenses claim yesterday.Surely the backs of the pre-paid envelopes could have been used for creating Labour's next lot of policies.
However, a Labour Party spokeswoman explained later that an "over-zealous" official in Ms Jamieson’s constituency office had simply ordered too many pre-paid envelopes and this was the reason for the £16,000 Ms Jamieson claimed for stationery.
In fact, so many pre-paid envelopes were ordered for the office that 13,000 have already had to be returned because there is no room to store them all.
Steve Targett, chief executive of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, revealed yesterday that National Australia Bank shelved plans for a complete merger of its four UK banks in the spring.Damned right. Scots are probably the most sensitive people on earth about matters of identity (with Yorkshiremen not too far behind!). A change to some bland global name would have cost the Clydesdale a huge chunk of its customers. Whoever decided to "consider" this plan is completely out of touch with the market. Why are some businesspeople so stupid?
We looked at it earlier this year, but decided not to do it. The strength of each of the brands in their local areas is too strong. The drawbacks would have outweighed the benefits.
Thursday 7 November 2002
Wednesday 6 November 2002
I also have one and she would go with anyone in a minute - no way would a Westie devote its life to a dead master, it would be off with the first kind look it gotAs for the rival:
A Skye Terrier, on the other hand, is a thinker, very loyal and has a terrific memory.Perhaps Iain Duncan Smith needs to appoint a few of these to the shadow cabinet.
Tuesday 5 November 2002
The western free market, competitive economy is a myth, dispelled by the subsidies to oil, gas, the nuclear industry, bio-technology, drug companies, defence, transport and farming. There are also relocation grants and regional assistance.Bruce Crichton, a target of Mr Rogerson, has, as Rogerson knows full well, written numerous letters to the paper advocating a totally laissez-faire economy in which there would be no "subsidies", "grants" or "regional assistance". Why don't socialists like Rogerson actually read some books about freedom?
Monday 4 November 2002
Let us imagine that an armed intruder has entered the Beckham residence in the middle of the night. According to the BBC:
David Beckham said he would protect his familyMr Beckham is a very fit athlete. Let us suppose that there is a struggle resulting in the death of the intruder. Would the police charge Beckham with murder? If they did, and especially if he were imprisoned, there would be a enormous public outcry. I have little doubt that it would be led by Tony Blair assisted by the massed ranks of New Labour. Hypocrites
Sunday 3 November 2002
In a real democracy, the relationship between the media and the governing élite is that of a pack of rottweilers maintaining surveillance on a gang of burglars. In Scotland, it more closely resembles the relationship between the Brigade of Guards and the sovereign.Keep biting, Gerald.
The Scottish council which opposed Sunday flights to the Isle of Lewis has made a surprising U-turn by booking tickets for its staff to travel on the Sabbath.Now that Loganair has borne the criticism of those opposed to the Sunday air service to Stornoway the local council which opposed the new flights has decided to use them. Consistency? No, they're politicians.
Under the plans which have been submitted to the EU, the Danes and Norwegians will be allowed to catch cod, whiting and haddock accidentally while fishing for sand eels which are processed and used for animal feed and fertiliser.So accidental catching of cod is OK unless you're Scottish:
The tiny fish are caught in nets with mesh sizes as small as 9mm. Under EU rules, trawlers which fish for so-called industrial species are permitted to catch up to 5% of white fish as part of their haul. And there are no plans to clamp down on the practice.
However, Scottish fishing crews will be banned from trawling for whiting and haddock because of fears that they might accidentally net cod while at sea, even though stocks of haddock and whiting are not facing the same threat. In addition, industrial fisheries are also seen as damaging to the recovery of cod stocks because cod feed on sand eels and other small fish.Amazingly, the UK seems to have less clout than the Norwegians who aren't even members of the EU.
Saturday 2 November 2002
Even with estimates of £80,000 of taxpayers’ money subsidising the employment of each of the 600 people employed by Chunghwa at its Mossend plant, it is by no means the most costly of the firms which were drawn to Scotland by the favourable deals on offer.but few seem yet to oppose the principle of using taxpayers' cash to subsidise businesses:
The experience has taught the Scottish Executive a lesson it will not forget. With the Motorola closure came the realisation that the policy of throwing money at overseas companies was no longer a viable proposition and the economic aftershocks of 11 September only confirmed the wisdom of that decision. Annual inward investment to Scotland slumped from more than £1 billion to less than £300 million.We don't need taxpayers' "money going into the development of indigenous companies" at the command of government. What local businesses - existing and potential - need is for politicians to get out of the way, or, as M. Legendre told Colbert: Laissez-nous faire.
Until the Motorola closure, 60 per cent - about £70 million a year - of the RSA budget went to overseas companies. The Executive concluded that the ration had to be reversed, with money going into the development of indigenous companies which would not disappear overseas when the going got tough.