Friday 31 January 2003

Playing with fire

Our politicians are now proposing further restrictions on property rights:
All farmers with secure tenancies in Scotland would have the right to buy the land they farm without the owners’ consent, under plans being put forward by the SNP, it emerged last night.
The SNP is constantly attempting to portray itself as a "business-friendly" party but simultaneously attacks private property.
Jamie McGrigor, a Tory MSP, said: "Fergus Ewing and his cohorts are trying to create some kind of socialist Valhalla where ‘property is theft’.
Doesn't the SNP realise that Scotland's most important industry is financial services? How many people in England and elsewhere are going to be relaxed about keeping their money in a country in which most politicians don't have a clue about the importance of private property?

Browned off

Brian Monteith MSP writes about Gordon Brown in today's Edinburgh Evening News:
No wonder Mr Brown looks so glum. With the economy turning sour and likely to get worse he’s not likely to become Prime Minister, and with a deteriorating reputation he may not last as Chancellor.
There was a fascinating post on the Libertarian Alliance's forum this morning. It was claimed that a meeting took place very recently between Gordon Brown, Eddie George (Governor of the Bank of England), Mervyn King (the Governor designate) and three to four others. Brown was apparently told that he was unacceptable to the City as prime minister and that a Brown premiership would lead to "a major and semi-permanent flight of capital".

It was also claimed that "dark rumours circulate that Blair is stoking up the war fever in order to forestall a full-scale public humiliation by the City". Can Blair really sack Brown without being disowned by his own party? If the Iraq venture goes badly, can Brown make a move for the leadership with the backing of his own party but the enmity of the City?

Thursday 30 January 2003

Privatise the police?

The Lothian and Borders police are thinking of charging companies for providing additional patrols:
The Chief Constable wants councillors to give him the power to strike cash deals with private companies in return for mounting extra patrols.
I always thought that the police force was a "public" service and was meant to provide law enforcement for all of us. That is the justification for its tax-funded status. The Chief Constable is acknowledging that policing may not be a public good after all. If that is so, and I suspect that it may be, then the police force should be privatised. Who knows, there may be a market for a police company and court system that actually catches and punishes burglars.

Wednesday 29 January 2003

New air link - to Sweden

I was pleased to read about Ryanair's new service from Prestwick to Stockholm. Yesterday morning the Scotsman reported the likelihood of the announcement but the Herald said that the new route would be to Spain! The Herald has now removed that story from its website.

Tuesday 28 January 2003

More on fishing

"Conservationists" are asking us to boycott Scottish cod. UK fishermen have been truly screwed by the EU with little understanding of the significance of this by the so-called environmentalists.

But I note that the Marine Conservation Society said this:

It has now called on the public only to buy cod caught off Iceland, the only fishery in northern Europe which the guide says has sufficient stock levels and is managed in a "sustainable" way, ensuring its survival in future years.
I wonder if they realise that "sustainable" fish management came about in Iceland after the introduction of property rights in the fishing grounds. Secure property rights are the only way to ensure the conservation of scarce resources.

Monday 27 January 2003

Check your finances

Apparently, nine million of us are afflicted by financial phobia:
One in five Britons suffered from a psychological condition that prevents them sorting out their personal finances.
I suppose that this condition could also apply to those dealing with other people's finances:
The condition is found among all classes and age groups and its onset usually coincides with some form of financial problem.
Why did this immediately make me think of Gordon Brown?

Frankly, they don't give a damn!

George Kerevan (a Scotsman correspondent with libertarian tendencies) writes that the Apathy party heads for a landslide win in the coming Scottish elections:
One shock finding is the substantial number of people consciously not voting, as opposed to circumstances such as illness or non-registration making it hard for them to get to the polls.
So what's to be done?
An all-party committee of MSPs issued a call to allow teenagers as young as 16 to have the vote, in a bid to end voter apathy
But those born after 1981 are currently the least likely to vote, with 61.8% abstaining in the 2001 general election. Adding a cohort of even younger people to the electoral roll would surely increase the proportion of non-voters. Mr Kerevan is right in saying:
The malaise in voter turnout lies in the performance of the parties and politicians themselves, especially in Scotland. Voters face ideological sameness, following the downgrading of Scottish independence by the SNP and the Tory eschewal of tax cuts. Voters also face the prospect of a semi-permanent Labour/Lib Dem Executive coalition, virtually regardless of how they cast their ballots. Either Scotland’s politicians offer the voters greater choice and mean it in practice, or the Apathy Party will win.
It's time for a real choice. The Tories have nothing to gain by positioning themselves as yet another social-democratic high-tax party.

Sunday 26 January 2003

Gun law

It looks as though Tony Martin may be moved abroad for his own protection when he is eventually released from prison:
The decision follows death threats by associates of Fred Barras, the 16-year-old gypsy boy who was shot dead as he broke into Martin's home.
It was of course a coincidence that last night's Taggart included a suspect who admitted to stealing a gun that was used in an attempted murder and who went by the name of Mr. Martin.

Saturday 25 January 2003

Another new political party

The Scottish fishermen are setting up their own party. The SNP is upset:
Richard Lochhead, the Scottish National Party’s fisheries spokesman, claimed the formation of the Fishermen’s Party could completely backfire, leaving the Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition still in power.
Well yes, that may be the outcome but the SNP clings to its "independence in Europe" policy, claiming that an "independent" Scotland of 5 million people could hold its own in a union of 450 million. The fishermen would be better off with a system that recognised private property rights in fishing grounds. Scottish fishermen should have "homesteading" rights over their traditional waters and be free to use or sell those rights.

Rabbie balances the books

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns. The Burns legacy is apparently worth £157 million a year to the Scottish economy. Yesterday I reported that Councillor Daphne Sleigh thought that a modern-day Robert Burns might have become a Tory cabinet minister. I suggest that he would have made an excellent Chancellor of the Exchequer:
Burns died with debts of £14 and assets of just £15
An example to us all.

Friday 24 January 2003

Financially responsible government

I don't really understand why the news about the Scottish Parliament's £88,000 desk is described as a "financial" row:
The controversial Holyrood Parliament project was at the centre of a new financial row last night after it emerged that a single desk had been commissioned at a cost of £88,000.
Surely the politicians will simply march round to the furniture factory and take the desk without payment. After all, yesterday they abolished property rights in Scotland.

A welfare advocate writes

Bob Willis objects to graduates being made to pay for their education. What he really means is that they should be subsidised by non-graduates. Why not say so

Last night

A Scotsman editorial today suggests that Robert Burns was "the Elvis of his day". Well, Burns wrote hundreds of poems and songs and used them to woo his many girlfriends.

In his "Toast to the Lassies", Ian Mowat reminded us of Rabbie's way with women and wondered whether modern Scotsmen could compete:

A Scotsman is washed up on a desert island. Out of the sea walks a young lady dressed in a rubber suit with a zip on the front. She partially pulls down the zip and brings out a fish supper, which our Scotsman devours. Pulling down the zip a bit more, she produces a can of beer, which our man drinks. Slowly pulling down the zip even more, she asks: "Would you like to play around?" The Scotsman replies: "Wonderful. You've brought your golf clubs with you!"
In response, Edinburgh City Councillor Daphne Sleigh first talked about Burns's appeal to people of different political persuasions.

She spoke next about his many affairs and numerous children, legitimate and otherwise. Then she commented:

"And some say that he wasn't a Tory. But if Burns had been around in the 1980s, he would surely have been a Conservative cabinet minister!"
Quite so.

Thursday 23 January 2003

Over-consumption alert

My wife and I are attending a Burns Supper tonight. Blogging should return to normal on Friday.

Wednesday 22 January 2003

War news

Superintendent Okaro continues to defend his drug decriminalisation policy. On tonight's episode of The Bill, the Super survives a dressing-down at Scotland Yard and his policy is now supported by previously sceptical Chief Inspector Meadows.

The spending starts

Scotland's election is only three months away and the cash is starting to flow. More and wider roads. Railway lines reopening. Longer trains and more coast-to-coast services. Enhanced bus provision.

Labour is certainly making a pitch for the commuter vote. I must confess that this sort of expenditure might actually benefit the economy and will probably be welcomed by the business community.

Technical problems

Blogging is light at the moment because of several technical problems.

If anyone wishes to send me e-mail, please address it to:

Monday 20 January 2003

Just say no to communism

Sir Jack Stewart-Clark is a former Tory MEP and the owner of property that is used for weddings and conferences. Scotland's new Land Reform Bill worries him:
Sir Jack markets his castle as a wedding and conference venue with the slogan "Exclusively Yours", promising the customer the castle and its grounds in complete privacy.

He warned last night he would not be able to guarantee this privacy if the bill was passed because he would not be able to stop anybody else from wandering through the grounds, disrupting or interfering with a wedding or a corporate event.

Being a typical Tory, Sir Jack has already surrendered to the enemy:
"I am very perplexed about this bill. This started as a right of access for ramblers, which is right, but it appears as if it is going to be totally counter-productive to the sort of thing I am trying to do here.
No, Sir Jack, if you grant ramblers the right to enter your land then you have denied the principle of private ownership. As the article goes on to say:
The general principle of access has largely been accepted, but many landowners are concerned that they will not have the ability to prevent the public entering any part of their land, not even the area within reach of their houses.
As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Sunday 19 January 2003

A challenge for Scottish Tories?

The Sunday Herald writes about the recently formed "New Party", which now wants to rebrand itself because of associations with Oswald Mosley's 1930s party of the same name. Its leader:
argues for martial law to be imposed, with the army running health, schools and transport, and plans to scrap the Scottish parliament.
At the UK level, the party:
wants to slash the size of government and the role of local councils, with taxation 'greatly reduced', particularly for business, and personal tax made more progressive.
With calls for the militarisation of health, schools and transport as well as more "progressive" personal taxation, it should be clear to all that the New Party is no friend of liberty. A half-competent Conservative party should have no problem against such a challenge.

But the Tories do have a problem in Scotland. This letter sums it up well:

Your article ‘Taxi for McLetchie?’ (Agenda, January 12) is right to suggest that the Scottish Conservative Party is seen as an English party. This, coupled with any reference to the Union, is a turn-off for many people. Scottish Tories need to get back to their Jacobite roots and that means becoming a party for Scotland and the people of Scotland. I believe severing links with the UK party would be a good start.

Given political independence, Scottish Tories would be free to set their own radical agenda. Ideas such as commitment to a federal Britain or Scottish independence would be vote-winners.

I have no doubt that most of the Scottish people support the existence of a Scottish parliament, despite the record of the current regime. Calling for the scrapping of the Scottish parliament would win some votes for the New Party, but only a small minority, and the same applies to the Conservatives. The Scottish Tories should break away from their English colleagues and concentrate on policies of liberty: low taxation, deregulation of business and an end to the nanny state.

Friday 17 January 2003

What, no whisky?

Saddam Hussein had better look out. Without whisky, haggis-eating Scottish soldiers could be considered weapons of mass destruction:
"In respect to Arab culture - and of course the fact that they are on duty - they'll have to do without their whisky.
Big mistake; or deviously cunning strategy.

Scottish cultural note

Boyd Tunnock is the boss of Tunnock's biscuit makers. This capitalist exploiter is celebrating his 70th birthday by spending £70,000 on a party for his 600 workers and, what's more, giving them the next day off work to recover from their modest night out at the Glasgow Hilton. To think that this man has become rich by persuading people to voluntarily hand over their hard-earned cash in exchange for caramel wafers, snowballs and caramel logs. Surely Mr. Tunnock should have become a civil (sic) servant, lived off the taxpayer and retired at 50 on an inflation-linked pension. Or am I missing something?

Thursday 16 January 2003

Why no attack on the Neuearbeitspartei?

Here is a letter from another critic of Tory tax policy:
What is the matter with Annabel Goldie and the Tory Party? Why did she find it necessary to hand a political surrender to her opponents by declaring that they will not cut income taxes?
I don't understand why the Conservatives fail to challenge New Labour's tax-and-spend regime.

This article explains the dire consequences of out-of-control government spending:

Consider, too, the UK where the ratio of government expenditures to the gross operating surplus of non-financial corporates has risen from 57% to 62% in just two years, and where the relative size of the public sector payroll has ballooned 30% from 141 per 100 manufacturing workers to 183 since RobespiBlaire moved into No. 10.
Won't someone speak up for the taxpayers?

Wednesday 15 January 2003

The class struggle

Scotsman columnist Kirsty Milne writes about the May election. She is concerned that the turnout may be low. I liked this part:
Surveys show a mixture of feelings among abstainers and reluctant voters. There is the usual scepticism about politicians, combined with a sense that the parties are too similar in what they do and too negative in what they say. A recent survey for the Electoral Commission found bewilderment at the language of politics and class antagonism towards MPs and MSPs who "stay in all their smart houses" and "don’t have to go through what we go through."
"Class antagonism" against politicians! Now, that's talking.

In a review of The State by Franz Oppenheimer we learn:

"There are two fundamentally opposed means whereby man, requiring sustenance, is impelled to obtain the necessary means for satisfying his desires. These are work and robbery, one's own labor and the forcible appropriation of the labor of others."

Oppenheimer nails the state as a parasite. For example: "The State is an organization of the political means. No State, therefore, can come into being until the economic means [private sector] has created a definite number of objects for the satisfaction of needs, which objects may be taken away or appropriated by warlike robbery."

It looks as though some of the sheeple are beginning to understand who the class enemy is.

Tuesday 14 January 2003

The final solution?

If the Scottish Nationalists ever seem like actually winning an election, Tony Blair can always look to Belgium for inspiration. As reported on Airstrip One, the Belgian regime is thinking of simply banning the Flemish equivalent of the SNP. I wonder what the EU-loving SNP leader, John Swinney, will have to say.

The SNP campaign

The Nationalists have started campaigning for the May elections to the Scottish parliament. This could well attract votes:
The plans would also mean a 20 per cent cut in the size of the Executive with the 20 ministers reduced to 15, eight in the Cabinet and seven junior ministers.
But perhaps the nationalists need to sort out the financial affairs of their own councillors before they can be trusted with bigger things.

Monday 13 January 2003

A not-so-new party

The New Party for Britain is planning to contest the May elections for the Scottish parliament. Unfortunately for them, they have made a slightly disturbing mistake:
One issue they are expected to tackle is the embarrassing name the New Party - it was chosen without anyone realising that it has strong links to 1930s fascism - it was the name of Sir Oswald Mosley’s first party.
And what are their policies? According to the website:

Our policies are being developed from the ground up guided by people with practical experience and overseen by leading academics.

In other words they have no consistent ideology and will therefore get nowhere.

Keep the buses running

I was rather impressed to read that our local bus company has taken action to reduce exposure to fuel price increases in the event of military action in the Middle East.

A golden future?

The Scotsman runs an interesting article today on the prospects for gold:
Ben Bernanke, a recent arrival at the Fed from the academic groves of Princeton, has declared that the Fed will do all within its not inconsiderable powers to "print" its way out of trouble before deflation becomes entrenched.
I know that Mr. Bernanke's recent pronouncements have been causing much speculation across the Internet. The web's goldbugs are aware that:
Now that the Fed has declared it will "print" as many dollars as it takes to combat deflation, holders of US dollar assets would have to be extraordinarily naïve not to realise that an unlimited increase in the supply of US dollars means dollars will inevitably be worth less.
Fans of gold think that:
There is one standard against which this debasement of currencies can be measured and one asset which investors can own to protect themselves: That standard and that asset is gold.
I think that they are correct.

Sunday 12 January 2003

Spanish practices

Scotland's First Minister is trying to improve our eating habits. The Sunday Herald welcomes this dietary intrusion:
Mr McConnell, who comes to this issue with the Damascene zeal of a convert who admits that for eight years in his youth he never ate a vegetable, is to be applauded for his efforts on the dietary front.
Herald columnist, Tom Shields, has been visiting Barcelona, which seemingly has yet to offer diners such homely fare as the deep-fried Mars Bar. Mr Shields is shocked and envious at how inexpensive decent food is in Spain compared with the UK:
I write this filled not only with indignation but filled with lunch. I have just had a three-course meal in a restaurant called the Calandria which means the Lark. It certainly is a lark. The large starter of a rich paella barely left room for the tuna steak with green salad. The waitress has just left a bottle of whisky at the next table with which an old fella is liberally dousing his large slice of sponge cake. Being on a McConnellesque health kick, I have ordered a piece of fruit for my pudding. I am drinking the red wine included in the price merely to lower my cholesterol level. The cost is five euros. I am pondering what kind of lunch you can get for £3.25 in rip-off Scotland.
Yes, that certainly seems to be a good deal. But the real eye-opener was: "The waitress has just left a bottle of whisky at the next table with which an old fella is liberally dousing his large slice of sponge cake." Now if Jack McConnell can arrange for this practice to be adopted in Scottish restaurants, our health would really improve and he could face the May election with total confidence.

Libertarian soap?

On last Thursday's episode of ITV's The Bill, the new Superintendent at Sun Hill was confronted by his boss. Adam Okaro is black and I expected him to be an ever-so-correct Blairite. But he is turning out to be a bit of a libertarian. With increasing drug-related crime on his "patch", he is visited by the Borough Commander who is in a foul mood:
The Borough Commander Jane Fitzwilliam is getting tough on Sun Hill Police Station. But when she hears Superintendent Adam Okaro's radical opinion on drugs she demands he never repeat it again.
And what was Adam's shocking opinion? He called for the total decriminalisation of all drugs. Adam seems to be fan of Ayn Rand too. When Chief Inspector Jack Meadows (a traditionalist on drugs) asks the Superintendent why he was seeking Jack's help, Adam's reply was: "because it's in my own self-interest."

Friday 10 January 2003

Tory confusion

Why should taxpayers compensate cricketers who don't play in Zimbabwe? The government has rightly (there's a first) said that it is up to the sportsmen to decide whether to take part in the tournament. If the Tories want compensation for cricketers who may - rightly in my view - decide not to go to Zimbabwe, where do we draw the line?

Now I read that:

Scottish Tories appear set to go against the tax-cutting policies of Iain Duncan Smith by refusing to pledge reductions under the parliament’s "tartan tax" variation powers.
The Tories need to sort out their ideas soon. They are a tax-cutting party or nothing.

On why Scotland's politicians shouldn't have access to the nuclear button

It seems quite simple really. You're a member of the government; there is a vote in Parliament; you vote for the government. But not for Cathy Craigie who "mistakenly" abstained in a vote, thus causing the government to lose its motion.

Of course, it was a mistake. Or was it:

However, one of Ms Craigie’s parliamentary colleagues expressed surprise that she had hit the wrong button on this crucial vote, despite four years of using the equipment without a hitch.

"You have to ask, why did she get it wrong on this vote when she has been voting with the Executive all along? It might have something to do with the election looming and the need to justify her position to the voters," he said.

No, it couldn't be anything to do with the election, could it?

A modest rebuff to the state

Many years ago I read about a Texan multi-millionaire who would blast his television with a shotgun every time Lyndon Johnson appeared on the screen. Given that: (a), Johnson was a fellow Texan, and (b), Johnson was President of the USA at the time, business was brisk in local electrical retail outlets. It has always been an ambition of mine to emulate this heroic gentleman, but sadly I have yet to achieve millionaire status. But now a heroine has arisen in Glasgow:
The contempt with which some drivers regard officialdom was made blatantly clear yesterday, after it emerged that a woman has racked up parking fines of £28,000 in three years.
In a free society roads would be privately owned with charges set and collected efficiently by the operators. In the bizarre world of government roads, the demon parker is an "offender":
"She is probably our worst offender in terms of the number of fines, but she is by no means the only one of this scale. The council refused to name the motorist, but The Scotsman understands that she lives in an affluent suburb of Glasgow.
The lady in question pays her fines, albeit a bit slowly. But what about this:
The council last year collected £4 million in parking fines, resulting in £600,000 profit for the local authority.
How on earth the Glasgow City Council is able to determine what is a "profit" is beyond me. Are the parking charges too low? Is this woman a problem for the city or a useful profit centre? Whatever. You can't imagine a private road company being so disorganised.

Thursday 9 January 2003

Off his trolley?

Have you ever been on a train that stops for no apparent reason? Perhaps this was the explanation:
A buffet trolley worker who clocked up extra overtime by bringing trains to an emergency stop cost a rail company almost £30,000, a court heard.
In response to the current outcry against crime, the court imposed a draconian sentence:
He was ordered to carry out 200 hours community service after a sheriff accepted that Tomlinson was of low intelligence.
Low intelligence? The accused was operating quite a clever scam. The punishment is not sufficiently severe. Mr Tomlinson should be made to drink £30,000 worth of railway tea. That'll teach him.

What's the motive?

What could be the cause of this?
A RAIL link to Glasgow airport will go ahead despite consultants' claims that none of the potential routes would be value for money, Iain Gray, the transport minister, said last night.
This couldn't possibly be connected with the forthcoming Scottish parliamentary election in which Labour needs to keep its many seats in the Glasgow area.

Wednesday 8 January 2003

Airport rivalry

A report says that it would be better to invest in a rail link to Edinburgh airport than one at Glasgow:
The report found that the link to Edinburgh Airport, while more expensive than Glasgow at £256 million, would represent far better value for money than Glasgow.
There is of course intense rivalry between the two cities but the eastern suburbs of Glasgow are potentially as accessible to Edinburgh airport as to Glasgow's. Glasgow airport is on the wrong side of the city to be "Scotland's hub".

Oh dear

The First Minister's fall yesterday wasn't quite as accidental as was thought:
Despite an official clampdown on information, the Evening News has learned that workers at Bute House took the decision to use hot water rather than grit or salt to clean the steps of the Charlotte Square premises on Monday morning.
Note the bureaucratic response:
Today a spokesman for the Scottish Executive was keen to play down the latest incident. He said: "We are not aware of it happening. It didn’t appear that water had been poured on the steps and the weather conditions were particularly icy."
Imagine the kudos they would get if someone just said: "Yes there was a screw-up. We won't do it again."

No chance of that.

Tuesday 7 January 2003

Bizarre coincidence.

After Saddam Hussein insulted differently-heighted people everywhere by calling George W Bush a "small midget", Scotland's own vertically-challenged leader became so upset that he found himself base over apex:
JACK McConnell was treated for cuts to his face yesterday after slipping on an icy pavement as he left Bute House, the First Minister’s official residence in Edinburgh.
When I heard this news on television last night I didn't pay too much attention, but as the Scotsman points out today:
The late former first minister, Donald Dewar, 63, died shortly after slipping on the pavement outside Bute House in the winter of 2000. He was admitted to hospital in the evening of 11 October after the fall.
This is really spooky.

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race,
Aboon them a' ye tak your place!

The American food authorities police are threatening the haggis. But folk are fighting back:
New York butcher, Steve Smith, normally has circumvented this threat to Scottish cultural freedom by butchering his own sheep and cooking his own haggis for ex-pats and American Burns’ lovers. Alas, fierce snow storms have prevented Mr Smith from carrying out his plan this year.
I am not so pleased about:
the appearance of a "Hawaiian-style" haggis - a de-boned chicken stuffed with pineapple and ham
Listen to this, ye food-police:
Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware,
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!
The people have spoken.

Monday 6 January 2003


John Stewart writes that a nation needs self confidence. That is absolutely correct:
It is difficult to pinpoint when the tide of our national self-confidence turned and began to ebb away but for many it was 22 January 1972 when we forsook Churchill’s open seas in favour of the sclerotic, bureaucratic labyrinth of the European Economic Community.
I would certainly agree that 22nd January 1972 was a "day of infamy" that will go down in history. Mr Stewart does not limit himself to our national surrender to the EUSSR but rightly condemns the technophobes:
I believe our future energy requirements can only be met by nuclear generation and our food requirements by genetically modified crops and livestock; no other rational course offers itself.
Quite right.

Sunday 5 January 2003

Fishing: the ultimate question

These two letters urge UK abandonment of the Common Fisheries Policy. David Guild writes:
The only reform that would protect the Scottish fishing fleet and also save the fish stocks would be - in my view - the abandonment of CFP and the repatriation of the appropriate sea areas back to the littoral powers.
And according to Stewart Whyte:
We must leave the Common Fisheries Policy. It has led us to ruin; it is morally corrupt and its credibility is shot to pieces.
Mr Whyte is a prospective Conservative candidate for the Scottish parliament. The question is Mr Stewart: if we could only get out of the Common Fisheries Policy by leaving the EU, which would you chose?

Friday 3 January 2003

Now hear this!

Sean Connery has the world's sexiest male voice. This is no surprise given that Sir Sean was born a few hundred yards from the Freedom and Whisky bloghouse. But I think that the Scotsman's editor must have still been in post-new year recovery mode by allowing this through:
The top regional accents voted for were Irish, followed by Scottish, then Geordie with the West Midlands, Birmingham and Liverpudlian accents voted as the least favourite.
Irish accents haven't been "regional" for eighty-odd years. Worse, everyone north of the border, unionist and nationalist alike, sees Scotland as a nation, rightly or wrongly within a United Kingdom. "Regional" accents! I can see the protest letters on their way.

Labour's press gangs

Yesterday I mentioned home schooling. This letter makes it clear that the Scottish Executive has identified yet another way to extend conscription of children.

The article referred to in Mr Tait's letter is to be found here and this is what parents thought:

The research, by Vauxhall Motors, found 30 per cent of Scottish parents would teach their child at home, with 60 per cent saying they did not trust the education system.
This is fantastically good news. Scotland is often portrayed as a profoundly socialist country although the four-party system here makes it look as though Labour support is much larger than the numbers who actually vote that way. But, even so: "60 per cent do not trust the education system." The people know that socialism doesn't work, even in education. It's up to libertarians to hammer on about the alternative.

Glasgow Airport

EasyJet has cut its Glasgow to Amsterdam service from twice to once per day:
A spokeswoman for easyJet said: "It is very difficult for us to operate with high landing charges. The market for us in Scotland, with regular flights from both Edinburgh and Glasgow, means services sometimes overlap. We fully expect to meet demand for flights."
There has been persistent suggestion of unnecessarily high landing charges at Glasgow and Edinburgh airports, both of which are owned by the formerly nationalised BAA. Non-BAA airports like Newcastle, Manchester, Bristol and Liverpool have expanded considerably. Edinburgh has done well on the back of a booming city economy but I think that it would be beneficial if Edinburgh and Glasgow airports were owned by separate organisations.

Thursday 2 January 2003

Education, education, education

This year I have made a resolution to read Brian's Education Blog every day. Brian Micklethwait has put together an excellent site on a very important subject that clearly needs fresh thinking. I was previously unaware of the existence of Schoolhouse, a Scottish-based home education pressure group and I have added them to my links.

Tories still don't get it

Brian Micklethwait wrote on Samizdata about a possible Conservative revival. The Tories have spoken out against the increasing numbers now becoming liable to pay the 40% income tax rate Fair enough. But what's this:
A Tory spokesman said that this meant many people in ordinary jobs, such as senior teachers, police officers and nurses, were paying taxes at rates initially intended only for the rich. "There must be serious doubt about the wisdom of imposing the top rate of tax on hard-working nurses, teachers, doctors and police officers," he said.
Nurses, teachers, doctors and police officers indeed. What about factory managers, software engineers, shop owners and, dare I say, accountants? Well of course they work in the hated private sector and are therefore of no interest to the new touchy-feely Conservatives. This is ludicrous. Most people aren't employed by the state and we are getting utterly fed-up with NuLab's continual attacks. There is a huge gap in the political marketplace for a tax-cutting and regulation-blasting political party that speaks for the majority. Why can't the Tories see that? Just how many Labour parties do we need?

Wednesday 1 January 2003

An unexpected outbreak of liberalism

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, has come out against the euro and would urge his constituents to vote against!
He emphasises the "desperate need" for his party to re-appraise its approach to Europe, adding: "For too long, otherwise highly intelligent people have simply abandoned their critical faculties where the EU is concerned."

Arguing that the Lib Dems ought to be at the forefront of scepticism about Europe, he advises: "Liberal Democrats should always be sceptical of government - especially where it is in the firm grip of the unelected official - so why not the European Union?"

"Liberal Democrats should always be sceptical of government", he says. Most Lib Dem voters see the party as some sort of mid-point between Labour and the Conservatives. That was probably true in the 1960s, but nowadays a majority of Lib Dem activists are firmly in bed with the state. Mr Carmichael is sceptical. Good for him. Could it be that other Lib Dems may "come out" against big brother?