Wednesday 30 March 2005

Thanks to Andrew Duffin...

... for defending Ayrshire. I have added a suitable comment on this post.

Another new link

I have added The Watchful Investor to my blogroll. This new blog was recommended by Gary North and you can't get better than that!

Tuesday 29 March 2005

Flight into danger

Back on 14th December I wrote that I could no longer vote for the Conservatives because of their support for ID cards. As time went on I began to doubt my decision. It was clear that many Tories had grave misgivings about the ID policy and it seemed possible that this mistake might be reversed. Then another factor came into play: What if Tony Blair kept his job because of me? Imagine it’s around May 8th and the 34th recount has been held at Edinburgh Southwest. The last 16 recounts have all been a tie between Labour and Conservative. A coin is tossed and Alistair Darling wins. Blair is back in power with a majority of one seat all because I abstained! Surely the ultimate nightmare. Of course, the chances of this happening are infinitesimal - but then why vote at all? The answer, I suppose, is that we humans like to be part of the team even if our contribution wasn’t actually necessary for the victory, although when Kilmarnock win the Champions' League I'll know it was because of my support. Whatever happens, I’ll be up all night for the election results and it’s impossible to imagine myself staring at the screen without shouting for and against the various winners, although there is certainly a plausible case for welcoming the defeat of any sitting member. All of which brings me to Howard Flight.

Liberty Cadre (who was at the infamous meeting) draws our attention to this piece in the Telegraph and describes it as “damage control”. That’s the way I read it on the web earlier today, and from the point of view of the Conservative Party’s election campaign Moore’s case makes sense:

MPs hold their seats only because of their party. They wouldn't get elected if it didn't say "Conservative" or "Labour" after their name on the ballot paper, so they must not embarrass it.
If opponents see that the leadership will simply turn on any candidate against whom they can trump up an accusation, they will trump up a lot more. But this is not the question in the case of Howard Flight. The question is, are the Tories serious? Mr Howard's ruthless response shows that they are.

But what of those of us who are, shall I say, a wee bit more ideological?

As always, Sean Gabb has written the best account (Issue Number 132) of the Flight affair. Read and weep:

And they richly deserve their present embarrassment. They are political frauds. By continuing to exist and to show some prospect of being able to win an election, they attract funding and votes from genuinely conservative parties. Yes, this Labour Government is dreadful. Yes, Tony Blair is personally and politically the vilest wretch who ever lied his way into the House of Commons, and his colleagues are a gang of traitors who deserve hanging from the nearest lamp post. But this is not good enough reason for thinking that another Conservative Government would be in our long term national interest. We need to destroy New Labour. Before then, though, we need to destroy the Conservative Party. The Enemy Class media has its own reasons for kicking the Conservatives down. But this media should be regarded in this respect as objectively allied to the forces of conservatism.

I know some of my readers will think my closing sally disrespectful. But I really cannot help myself. The Conservatives have been crucified today. Is it too much to hope they will not be resurrected on the third day?

And that's the problem: I really do want to see Phoney Tony and the Scouse Spouse dragged screaming from Number 10 and strung up near the spot where I made my first political gesture by giving a V-sign to George Brown as he sped past in his ministerial limo on his way to wreck the British economy.

So should I hold my nose and vote Tory? On the other hand, if ten million of us were to go into the ballot box and cross out the name of the Conservative candidate and write in "Howard Flight" that would be something, wouldn't it?

Monday 28 March 2005

Summer time

Either Sitemeter's not changed its clock yet or most of my readers have moved to Italy:

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie:

You'll be able to sleep peacefully tonight!

(UPDATE: Rumours are sweeping Edinburgh that the Scottish Parliament is to be reconvened from its Easter break so as it may consider the "Hunting With Cats" Bill.)

New links

Thanks to Independence for alerting me to Political Betting and to the Normblog for information on Conservative Home. It will be fascinating to see what effects blogs have on the (presumably) forthcoming British election. I have added these two sites to the "AND" section of my links. Adoption of libertarian tendencies or relocation to Scotland will of course merit promotion to the "FREEDOM" or "WHISKY" Premier Leagues.

Sunday 27 March 2005

Don't they know it's nearly Tartan Week?

I see that a lot of folk are getting their knickers in a twist except that they're probably not wearing any:
Cambridge University has come under intense criticism after banning Scottish students from wearing kilts at graduation ceremonies.
A few observations are in order:

(1) As Bill puts it:

Obviously some of the more idiotic amongst our so-called intellectual and/or big-government 'glitterati' take this amiss, one even seeing this as a slight relating to 1746; talk about being thin-skinned! Have people nothing better to get agitated about?
That sums it up very well, but I'm not in the least bit surprised by the "agitation".

(2) Surely this affair will confirm the suspicions of those who think that Oxbridge is somewhat unworldly. Hasn't news of the "Scottish Raj" reached the Fens? Isn't Paxo himself a Cambridge graduate? Didn't some bright spark at Cambridge realise that the University would be charged with sexism and racism, not to mention kiltism?

However, a climb-down may be imminent:

CAMBRIDGE University last night showed signs of backing down after banning students from wearing kilts to their graduation ceremonies.

... the interdict sparked fury among patriotic Scottish students, and the university has been inundated with e-mails from angry alumni demanding that the dress law be removed.

Yesterday, officials at the university admitted they were prepared to make exceptions for those who felt strongly about wearing their national dress.

(3) I was horrified to learn that the man who presides over Scotland's ludicrously low economic growth rate is himself a Cambridge MA in Economics & Law. To think that we taxpayers pay for most of the costs of higher education. I want my money back! Keynes, Wallace - whatever next?

(4) We can be absolutely sure that the First Minister of Scotland will not be attending any graduation ceremony in a kilt.

(5) Instead of interfering with the property rights of others couldn't we get our own back by insisting that all participants at Scottish graduation ceremonies must wear the kilt? There'd be a wonderful boost to the economies of St Andrews and Edinburgh as all those Hooray Henries rush out to get "kilted up".

Social anthropology

These people sound very familiar. They are:
Not scattered randomly around the country (Check) but heavily concentrated in certain areas (Check). Places with kicky restaurants (Check), places tolerant of alternative lifestyles (Check), places with lots of art galleries (Check) and organic food stores (Check) and Starbucks competitors (Check).
Clearly, we're talking about Edinburgh. It's obvious, isn't it?

But, no. It's somewhere far away:

The heaviest concentration is in the San Francisco Bay area, which, Kotkin says, has the largest percentage of trustfunders of any major metro area in the country.

They are:

People with enough money not to have to work for a living, or not to have to work very hard.
These people tend to be very liberal * politically. Aware that they have done nothing to earn their money, they feel a certain sense of guilt. At the elite private or public high schools they attend, and even more at their colleges and universities, they are propagandized about the evils of capitalism and globalization, and the virtues of environmentalism and pacifism.
(* Socialist in proper English.)

Fascinating stuff. And of course we do have our fair share of such folk here in Edinburgh. I wonder if that's why the extremely bourgeois Edinburgh Central is held by the Labour party.

Friday 25 March 2005

Happy birthday to Tim

Click here to make it even better.

Wednesday 23 March 2005

It's the way you tell them

According to the Scotsman:
Negligent prison staff 'contributed to death of inmate'

Over on the BBC there's a subtle difference:

Private prison blame over suicide

Give us a break

Can anyone please explain why my taxes are being wasted on this kind of thing?


The commenting system is not working properly at the moment. Some comments aren't visible on the blog but are "in the system" and will probably reappear shortly.

Tuesday 22 March 2005

Red by name and red by nature

Neil Craig has sent this to me:
Today's Herald has this letter from me about the impending Red Road flats demolition:

Dear Sir,

Before knocking down the 1300 Red Road flats, which in the normal world would presumably be valued at about 100 million pounds, we should be sure this is the best option.

It would be cheaper to give these flats gratis to their owners (or to the neighbours of those who would rather be rehoused) with a strongly enforceable factoring agreement - there are many factoring businesses in Glasgow which would be keen to solicit such a contract from each building's new owners. Another alternative would be to sell the vacant blocks at auction allowing private enterprise to refurbish & resell at the market rate - we are told the location is not ideal but it should be remembered that Red Road is within 2 miles of the city centre & 1/2 a mile of 2 motorways.

Both options would obviously be cheaper than what is proposed. In worst case it saves the not inconsiderable cost of demolition. The primary advantage is that, in a world where house prices are skyrocketing because of shortage, Glasgow would retain 1300 homes. For the council the long term effect of 1300 extra community charge payments each year would be substantial.

< I would not like to think that these options have not been examined because councillors have a dog-in-the-manger attitude that because they have failed to make a success of these spectacular homes private individuals should not be allowed to either. > Yours Faithfully Neil Craig

They cut the last paragraph marked <> which removes exactly what I do suspect about Labour councillors ideological position to free markets. I noticed that, at the start of the 2nd para I said "owners" could be given the flats when I should have said "occupiers" - nitpick. There may be a reason why this would't work - for example that the buildings are structurally unsafe because of vandalism or initial council jerry building but I would like to see that proven before blowing 100 million.

The Herald also carried pictures of the Red Road site & "the city's trendy Glasgow Harbour site" & they do indeed look remarkably similar.

Funnily enough I had thought about blogging on this matter when I read about it in today's Scotsman
ARCHITECTS have redrawn Glasgow’s future skyline because the first version was too reminiscent of the Sixties and the city’s obsession with high living.
I actually like seeing all those tower blocks when approaching Glasgow on the M8 or M77. I like Glasgow to be different from Edinburgh. Yes, I realise that the towers are monuments to a failed socialism but I'll miss them when they're gone. If they can't be privatised as Neil suggests then let's see some newly built high rises in the city.

Replying to Stuart

There's a nice post on Independence today:
Freedom & Whisky is probably the largest and best-established political blog in Scotland. It began in April 2002 and I notice that one of its first posts was regarding the SNP's proposed cut in corporation tax, a story that F&W and many other blogs have been covering again last week.

I discovered F&W just under a year ago via a link in the Adam Smith Institute Blog, and was quite pleased to find some well-written, up-to-date, genuinely Scottish content on the web. Most Scottish stuff on the internet was cringe-inducing tat. However, it is way too right-wing for my tastes. David Farrer and his chums call themselves "libertarians", but don't get me started on that topic or I'll bore the pants off you.

Stuart and I have had our disagreements over the past year or so but have maintained a cordial relationship both on our blogs and by e-mail. At the risk of Stuart "boring your pants off" I feel obliged to respond to his use of the term "right wing". It's not just Stuart of course. The legacy media seems incapable of using the word libertarian without the prefix "right wing" - it really is most peculiar. I suggest that you have a look at this quiz. You won't be surprised to learn that I turn out to be a libertarian, like these people. But aren't libertarians right wing?


You have a better choice than just left or right. The libertarian way gives you more choices, in politics, in business, your personal life, in every way. Libertarians advocate a high degree of both personal and economic liberty. Today's liberals like personal liberty but want government to control your economic affairs. Conservatives reverse that, advocating more economic freedom but wanting to clamp down on your private life.

Libertarian positions on the issues are not "left" or "right" or a combination of the two. Libertarians believe that, on every issue, you have the right to decide for yourself what's best for you and to act on that belief so long as you respect the right of other people to do the same and deal with them peacefully and honestly.

"Actually, true conservatives tend to be libertarian on economic issues, and true liberals tend to be libertarian on social issues," says Sharon Harris, president of the Advocates for Self-Government.

("Liberal" is being used in the American sense; in Europe we use the more robust term "socialist".)

Legacy journalists focus entirely on the economic beliefs of libertarians but evade or are ignorant of our social beliefs, which would often be described as "left wing". How come almost every UK libertarian blog is linked to the anti - ID card campaign? I don't deny that some who comment on this blog are right wing (in the conventional sense) and others are left wing. Some confuse me totally like this gentleman whose website tells us that he:

believe(s) in small government, low taxes,
but at the same time supports:
redistribution of wealth.
In addition, he claims to be a
"free-market socialist".
And some find libertarianism difficult to grasp!

Discriminating education

The letter from John Hein of ScotsGay magazine makes a lot of sense:
When an intrinsic part of the role of teacher or priest involves telling the vulnerable and the gullible that homosexuality is "intrinsically disordered", what self-respecting homosexual would want to work for the Roman Catholic Church in the first place?
Not everyone sees it that way:
Politicians, local government and parent groups all warned against discrimination when a senior bishop insisted that the church's new charter for schools would prevent gay teachers from securing jobs in Catholic schools or gaining promotion if already employed.

Bishop Joseph Devine, president of the Catholic Education Commission, said the church's blueprint for its schools - A Charter for Catholic Schools - made it clear that homosexuality was incompatible with Catholic education.

What's wrong with that? A school should be free to hire gays or not to hire gays. Schools should be free to hire men or not to hire men. Schools should be free to hire Catholics, or Protestants, or Muslims or not to hire Catholics, or Protestants, or Muslims.

Oh, but that:

could easily be seen as blatantly discriminatory.
So what? Life is all about making choices, about discriminating. Choices made by adults should be of no concern whatsoever to governments as long as there is no initiation of force or fraud.

When I read this:

A spokesman said: "The Executive would expect authorities, in pursuit of their statutory obligations, to employ the best staff available."
and this:
Peter Duncan, the shadow Scottish secretary, said: "I do not see any reason for discrimination on race or sexual orientation or gender."
and this:
Fiona Hyslop, SNP MSP and shadow minister for education, said: "The SNP would expect a non-discrimination element to be part of the revised schools code."
and this:
Judith Gillespie, from the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, described Bishop Devine's views as "very sad"
I suggest that Executive members, Peter Duncan, Fiona Hyslop and Judith Gillespie get together and invest their own money in a school. The Catholic Church should do the same. In a free market there's plenty of room for a variety of schools, each discriminating in its own way.

Monday 21 March 2005

A metropolitan elitist writes

Over on the Normblog Mr Geras praises the great city of Manchester. And why not? It's a very fine place indeed. There's just one point I didn't quite understand:
All you metropolitan folk who think it's just darkness and barbarism north of Watford, think again.
Surely now that the UK is ruled by a "Scottish Raj" darkness and barbarism commence when one goes south of Motherwell.

Friday 18 March 2005

First, let's sue all the lawyers

Ahem. Isn't Tony Blair some kind of lawyer?

Perth: a fair city?

I always thought that the poll tax was a reasonable attempt at fairness in local government finance. Of course, real fairness would necessitate the mass privatisation of town hall activity.

A Perth & Kinross councillor has been accused of heresy:

Deputy administration leader Councillor Willie Wilson responded by saying he was amazed that Mr Stewart “just about advocated the return of the poll tax.”

He added, “The poll tax was an absolute disaster and that was an incredible statement to make. There were riots in the streets, evasion, and people went off the electoral roll.

So some people evaded the poll tax and "went off the electoral roll". Good: why should they enjoy representation without taxation? The sooner most local government functions are privatised the better and then we can all pay our way - fairly.

Freedom of information: but not for us

It seems rather peculiar to read that Scottish welfare recipients are to enjoy more privacy than their English equivalents:
SCOTS farmers will be spared from disclosing all but a few of their subsidy payments, unlike their English counterparts who face the publication of all funds they receive from the European Union.
Apparently here in Scotland
officials have concluded data about Scots payments is exempt "because of data protection principles and European legislation".
I think that all of this agricultural welfare should be publicised as widely as possible. Imagine folk walking round the local supermarket, getting to the checkout expecting to pay about £50, and then being charged £100 with the following message appearing on the bill:
Thank you for supporting Europe's farmers: you know it makes sense. Please don't scrape the Range Rover on the way out.

The end of an auld sang

It does rather look as though the management has overreacted:
A TEXTILE worker has been suspended after she sang out-of-tune versions of her favourite songs, including We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place, during a shop floor visit by clients to the factory where she worked.
Did you know that
singing on the factory floor is a long-standing tradition among mill workers?
And why shouldn't industrial workers sing? I recall a school visit to the Johnnie Walker distillery in Kilmarnock. The ladies on the bottling line seemed very cheerful, but maybe that wasn't the result of singing...

Thursday 17 March 2005

Happy St Patrick's Day

Thanks to Timebomb 2000 for this one:

Jacques Chirac, the French President, was sitting in his office wondering what kind of mischief he could perpetrate next when his telephone rang.

"Hallo, Mr. Chirac!", a heavily accented voice said. "Tis meself Michael down at the Harp Pub in County Offlay, Ireland. I am ringing to inform you that we are officially declaring war on you!" The sound of the drums and pipe whistle could be heard in the pub's background.

"Well, Michael," a bemused Chirac replied, "this is indeed grave news! How big is your army?"

"Right now," said Michael, after a moment's calculation and a sip, "there is meself, me cousin Sean, me next door neighbor Seamus, and the entire dart team from the pub. That makes eight!"

Chirac paused, to let his meaning sink in, "I must tell you, Michael, that I have one hundred thousand men in my army waiting to move on my command."

"Begorra!" roared Michael. "I'll have to ring you back!"

Sure enough, the next day, Michael called again. "Mr. Chirac, the war is still on. We have managed to get us some infantry equipment!"

"And what equipment would that be, Michael?" an irritated Chirac asked.

"Well, we have two combines, a bulldozer, and Murphy's farm tractor."

Chirac sighed, and decided to end this farce, "I must tell you, Michael, that I have 6,000 tanks and 5,000 armored personnel carriers. Also, I've increased my army to one hundred fifty thousand men since we last spoke."

"Saints preserve us!" said Michael. "I'll have to get back to you."

Sure enough, Michael rang again the next day. "Mr. Chirac, the war is still on!" We have managed to get ourselves airborne! We've modified Jackie McLaughlin's ultra-light with a couple of shotguns in the cockpit, and four lads from the Shamrock Pub have joined us as well!"

Chirac was silent for a minute and then cleared his throat. "I must tell you that I have 100 bombers and 200 fighter planes. My military complex is surrounded by laser-guided, surface-to-air missile sites. And since we last spoke, I've increased my army strength to two hundred thousand men!"

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!", cried Michael, "I'll have to ring you back."

Sure enough, a cheery Michael called again the next day. "Top o' the mornin', Mr.Chirac! I am sorry to tell you that we have had to call off the war."

"I'm sorry to hear that." said Chirac, his voice dripping with sarcarsm. "Why the sudden change of heart?"

"Well," said Michael, "we've all had a long chat over a bunch of pints, and decided there's no foo-kin way we can feed two hundred thousand prisoners."

The real SNP?

A few days ago I wrote about Mike Russell of the SNP who had called for a low-tax policy from the Nationalists.

There's a letter in today's Herald (second page) from a Mr Bob Doris - who seems to be an SNP activist - that gives the game away somewhat:

... the SNP has clearly stated that it is in favour of defending our public-sector pension schemes from the ravages of a right-wing New Labour government. Indeed, the SNP Trade Union Group got unanimous support at our recent campaign conference on this matter. Furthermore, all SNP MPs have signed an early-day motion (number 579) calling on the UK government to withdraw regulations affecting the pension rights of public-sector workers. This is in direct contrast with many Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs who have failed to do likewise.
So what's it going to be? A low-tax, limited state, successful and prosperous Scotland that seems to be favoured by Mike Russell or the same old nonsense from people who think that we have a "right-wing" government? You can probably guess the answer. Mr Doris continues:
With 28% of workers in Scotland working within the public sector, there is every chance that they can use their collective power to defeat these shameful proposals. A UK general election is just around the corner and workers must vote for a party that will both defend their current occupational pension entitlements, and will also have the best chance of winning in May. This can only be achieved by voting SNP
There we have it. Mr Doris is saying that the SNP is the party of the public sector worker: those tax-consumers who are responsible for the UK having a £700 billion pension black hole (with a hell of a lot more to come from Europe). Mike almost had me convinced for a while. Non-government workers should think very carefully indeed before voting for the Nationalists.

Monday 14 March 2005

The ethnic cleansing of Scotland's middle class

There's a very good article from Katie Grant in today's Scotsman:
Yet as a group, the middle classes are disliked. If you pay for your child’s education you are a snob. If the child then tries to secure a place at Oxford or Cambridge, you are not only a snob, but a traitor too. If you drive a four-wheel-drive you are a monster. If you have two homes you are a parasite. If you prefer opera to T in the Park you are that worst thing of all, an elitist. Since the aristocracy has nearly disappeared, or, at any rate, have learnt to keep their profiles so low that most people think they have disappeared, attention has turned to the next in the pecking order. The middle classes are now fairer game than foxes.
And ideas have consequences. Ms Grant sees this outcome:
It is a tribute to the middle classes that, through all this, they plod on. One day, however, they may well rise up and throw off the Calvinist guilt that keeps quiescent even as their money is chucked, with hideous incompetence, into failing health and education systems they find impossible to use. There will be no revolution, however. The Scottish middle classes will take their revenge in quite another way. If things carry on like this, many will take a deep breath, vote SNP and move south.
That may well be so. As for myself, I'm now mainly living on savings and investments made when I worked down south together with a bit of part-time work to provide some extras. I expect to remain here, come what may. I can't help thinking that it might be quite fun to watch the collapse of Scotland's socialist society close at hand. There'd be plenty to blog about, that's for sure.

Sunday 13 March 2005

A low-tax SNP?

The forthcoming general election campaign in Scotland may turn out to be a bit more interesting than I had expected. Mike Russell used to be the SNP's chief executive and was an MSP until he was de-selected by his own party at the last Holyrood election.

Russell writes:

For the SNP, therefore, it is not enough to argue that independence will solve everything. In order to be credible on this matter, it needs a more robust set of policies which anticipate harder times ahead and which determinedly eschew the traditional opposition solution of throwing cash at any problem that can be exploited at the ballot box. In short, the politics of the pork barrel have to stop.
He even criticises the holy of holies:
Those politics are at their most obvious, and most dangerous, in the health service. Total health spending is now rising at more than 8 per cent a year, yet the public believes that services have got worse, and the statistics largely bear out that impression.
Calling for a reduction in Scottish taxation, Russell says:
Strangely, even the Tories in Scotland seem unable to grasp this thistle. If the SNP did, however, it would not only have to implement that much-needed, smaller and more efficient government in which it should believe, it would also have to accept, once and for all, that spending a higher percentage of GDP per head on government services than any other European country, save the Vatican state, is no way to create the fleet-of-foot, highly motivated and strongly competitive new country Scotland needs to become.
Of course some Scottish Tories do understand and call for a smaller state but that's not yet the mainstream Conservative position.

What's even more surprising is this:

Last night Mr Russell’s bold move, which would allow the SNP to outflank the Tories on tax in the 2007 Holyrood elections, won broad support from senior Nationalists.
Any more of this sort of thing and I'll be fantasising about Jack McConnell quoting Hayek, but being outflanked by a Misean ultra-capitalist Colin Fox. For old times' sake we can always retain the LibDems as a token socialist opposition.

Sad quote of the day

"I think we might be losing the initiative here lads." - Scottish rugby fan as Wales go 31 - 3 ahead.

Shocking headline of the day

This is a real surprise: SNP reveals independence agenda

Friday 11 March 2005

New links

I have recently added some new links to other Scottish sites. Take a look at:

Bill's Comment Page
Cabalamat Journal
Cabarfeidh Pages (Sorry David - I thought you had been linked ages ago!)
Katherine's Adventures
Right for Scotland
Tuesday Club
Scottish Standard
Shuggy's Blogspot
Lost in Westminster
FreeScot Review

Thursday 10 March 2005

Raising the Standard

Like other bloggers I welcome our recent victories over the MSM (Mainstream Media). I have to say though that I remain a fan of newspapers, and I mean the real, printed variety. When I lived in London I would regularly travel into the West End on Saturdays for the sole purpose of buying the Scotsman.

I am pleased therefore to welcome the arrival of the Scottish Standard into our newspaper marketplace. Although I am not convinced by the case for independence it did seem rather odd that none of the existing Scottish papers catered for the section of the political spectrum that provides the main opposition at Holyrood. Whether the Standard will succeed remains to be seen:

In a market where impact is all, the Scottish Standard, raised barely a ripple among the newspaper sellers. No advertising posters. No promotional displays.
I bought my copy on Wednesday evening and it was well displayed in my local RS McColl but I spotted a forlorn-looking pile of Standards in WH Smith on Thursday morning, neither with other newspapers nor alongside the weekly magazines.

This comment attracted my attention:

Commercially, it will stand or fall by advertising and that already looks very light. At a rough count, I made it just over eight pages of advertising - not good in 48 pages - and the fact that they have not managed to sell an advert on page one, invariably the most sought-after in a weekly, does not bode well.
Actually, I was rather surprised by just how many ads were in the paper but I know that some new publications offer cut-price deals to create the appearance of a commercial success.

On the actual content I have to say that my views echo those of George Kerevan:

Alex Salmond launched his election campaign on Tuesday with the only serious economic policy document I've seen from any of the parties.
Salmond's message:
To stoke up growth, attract inward investment and return exiled Scots talent, Alex has made the SNP the only party to advocate tax cuts. He proposes to drop corporation tax from its present 30 per cent to 20 per cent.
But I felt just like Mr Kerevan did as I read my copy of the Standard over a quiet pint:
However, I have a wee problem: I've been reading the Scottish Standard. It reminds me that the SNP is still politically schizophrenic.
Yes we had the SNP leader calling for a cut in corporation tax but the rest of the paper could have been written by an off-the-shelf, first-year-undergraduate, leftist cliche generator. If Scotland is to become independent the bills will be paid by the mass of middle class folk who work in the private sector. They're unlikely to be convinced by the first issue of this new paper.

Monday 7 March 2005

Andrew Duffin has sent me this e-mail:
I thought at the time of the recent referendum, that the authoritarian tendency in Edinburgh would take the view that the only thing wrong with their plan was that they made the mistake of consulting the people. I wondered how, and when, they would set about just "doing it anyway".

I didn't have long to wait.

Obliquely-written and subtle though it may be, this letter, it seems to me, is the beginning of that process.

"The current voluntary option has failed"

I am sure that's right: like with the EU, it'll be one step backwards (the referendum) followed by two steps forward (the non-voluntary option) for the transport statists. Take a look at an earlier letter:
Edinburgh has no congestion problem. It has a short-lived rush problem, which, with a shrinking populace, can only improve.

The rush-hour problem has been exacerbated by the schemes of Professor David Begg and his disciples to reverse years of good planning by narrowing perfectly good highways, choking streets with ill-placed pedestrian crossings, contaminating the environment with unnecessary signs and devices, and providing an ever-upward expansion of the empty bus fleet.

Outside rush-hour, Edinburgh is as quiet as any other small city.

Mr Scott is absolutely correct.

Take the Haymarket junction near where I live. Until recently one could turn left from Dalry Road onto Haymarket Terrace that leads to Glasgow Road, the western suburbs and the airport. That's not allowed any more. Instead of passing one set of traffic lights, westbound vehicles now have to go through four sets of lights in the one-way system, thus adding to the congestion at one of the city's busiest bottlenecks. Next, the bus stop in Dalry Road has been moved from about 150 yards from the Haymarket junction to more like 50 yards. Around 60 buses an hour call at this stop and often three or four are there at once. This change has added to the congestion at Haymarket. Then I ask why the westbound road has been narrowed just before Haymarket station, thus causing even more congestion. As a bus driver put it to me: "Just another bloody waste of money." I'm now looking forward to seeing what happens when the new westbound bus stop farther from the station but nearer the road intersection comes into commission: it probably means that buses will back up across the junction if - as is often the case - several come along together. But all of this will annoy the evil car drivers, so I suppose it's in a good cause!

Clearance revisionism

I'm looking forward to reading this new book:
THE author of a controversial new book that promises to expose the Highland Clearances as a myth last night challenged his critics to a public debate to expose "lazy and emotional versions of Scottish history" that always blamed the landlords.
Naturally such a viewpoint sends the Scottish establishment into a state of moral outrage, as we can see here:
the Labour MP Brian Wilson, who described Mr Fry as a buffoon the "David Irving of the Clearances", a reference to the historian who has played down the number of people killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.
Fortunately this Scotsman editorial puts Mr Wilson in his place.

Of course the point is that the Labour party uses the conventional history of the clearances to justify its own policies of land theft in the Highlands. It would be most damaging for Scotland's dominant socialist culture if the clearances turned out to be a bit of a myth. I especially liked this quote:

... the Duke of Sutherland moved tenants from their inland homes to the coast to give them new livelihoods in new industries on a par with the post-war Labour government moving people to East Kilbride.
Quite so.

Sunday 6 March 2005

Now read this

While I'm worrying about pissed French yuppies this guy is blogging in Damascus:
The City’s air is rife with all sorts of untoward rumors, everything is now possible: there is talk of arrests, purges, coup d’├ętats, assassinations, sanctions, invasions, anything and everything, except, of course, freedom. Everything is possible except freedom. Freedom is never mentioned. Freedom never comes to mind. Freedom remains a distant dream.

The Auld Alliance goes a wee bit sour

The noise woke me up at around 2.30. When I looked out of our living room window I could see a large group of youths, jumping up and down, drinking from bottles of wine and yelling loudly at each other. They were outside the entrance to some flats farther along the street. When I looked out a few minutes later a police van was moving away from the scene and I thought things would quieten down. But no, the racket continued as reinforcements of partygoers arrived while neighbours were leaning out of windows complaining about the noise.

After the visit of another van - perhaps from the city council - things did indeed quieten down a bit and people began to drift away. For a few moments I had the distinctly unlibertarian thought that Jack McConnell's puritan government is right: the state should discourage drinking by the young; Scots can't handle booze; the pubs must shut at 10 like in the old days. If only we were more like our continental neighbours where children learn to consume alcohol in a civilised manner and not run around annoying the neighbourhood in the middle of the night.

But then I noticed something rather odd. It slowly dawned on me that, generally speaking, in my experience, gangs of drunken Scots youths don't usually consume bottles of red wine and they very rarely shout at one another at three in the morning in fluent French!

Friday 4 March 2005

Smash the welfare state

May I draw your attention to a superb article by Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe.

His conclusion:

Most contemporary conservatives, then, especially among the media darlings, are not conservatives but socialists—either of the internationalist sort (the new and neoconservative welfare-warfare statists and global social democrats) or of the nationalist variety (the Buchananite populists). Genuine conservatives must be opposed to both. In order to restore social and cultural norms, true conservatives can only be radical libertarians, and they must demand the demolition—as a moral and economic distortion—of the entire structure of the interventionist state.

Frogs, cats and ferrets

Air France has been fined for the heinous crime of flying a cat into Edinburgh:
Jasmine, who is ten, travelled in the cabin of an Air France flight with her owner, Sandra Merlet, and her two daughters. Mrs Merlet, 46, thought it would be allowed under the pet passport scheme, but flights into Edinburgh are not covered and the family were stopped by customs officers when they landed.
I wonder why only certain routes are covered by the pet passport scheme: not every animal or human wants to fly to Scotland via London. I noted this statement elsewhere on the website of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

You may use any of the routes and transport companies on the following lists to bring your dog, cat or ferret into the UK under the Scheme, subject to the transport company’s agreement. All companies have been approved by Defra to carry dogs, cats and ferrets but not all may wish to carry ferrets.
Yes, ferrets can be troublesome on the odd occasion and I can foresee all kinds of problems were they to get involved with kilts. But aren't rural affairs devolved to the Scottish parliament? MSPs could be innocently kept busy debating the travel arrangements of pets instead of harassing the populace.

Biggar and better

In over thirty years of driving I've received 3 parking tickets.

The first was in Covent Garden back in the days when you could park free after 1230 on Saturdays. I parked at 1229 without putting money in the meter, and yes, when I came back I'd got a ticket!

On the second occasion I put 4 pound coins in a meter in Kensington, but there was a ticket on my car when I returned well within the timescale. The meters were cunningly placed so as to make each one actually serve the space next to the one that seemed likely. Bummer!

The third time was in the pleasant little town of Biggar. I parked in a row of cars where there were no yellow lines. When I returned, two policemen were waiting and gave me a ticket. I pointed out that there was no obvious parking restriction and they replied that: "Yes sir. That's what everyone says who parks here. You've no idea how many visitors do it." Apparently there was a very faint yellow line further down the road that I certainly couldn't see.

You'd have though that a town in Dumfries and Galloway would have been more visitor-friendly, but Biggar's not actually in D&G although some think that it should be:

David Mundell, Tory MSP for the South of Scotland, has written to his constituents in Biggar, on the edge of the Borders, suggesting they could hold a referendum to alter their postcode from Lanarkshire to Dumfries and Galloway.
And why?
Such a move could save some constituents as much as £300 on car insurance because insurers associate Lanarkshire with parts of Glasgow and a higher rate of crime, according to Mr Mundell.
Most of the locals seem to like this idea, but a voice from Labour's Lanarkshire heartland disagrees:
Karen Gillon, the Labour MSP for Clydesdale, said people should be proud to live and work in Lanarkshire.

She said: "I’m not sure that we should be looking to score cheap political points on this, but should instead educate insurers on living in Biggar.

"Biggar is a lovely place and I think that residents should be proud to come from Lanarkshire."

The Scotsman's editorial on this weighty matter says that:
Some will scent snobbery.
Of course they will. That's Labour's ultimate put-down, even though it's the party of the rich.

I say: let Biggar join Dumfries and Galloway, the home of my birthplace and, perhaps, of fewer parking tickets.

Thursday 3 March 2005

PC tax could replace TV fee

That's the headline on the home page of this morning's Times. So what's new I thought. The TV licence is already a compulsory tax that funds PC - political correctness. Then for a brief moment I thought that political correctness exponents themselves were to be taxed! A kind of Value Reduced Tax on Guardian readers maybe. But no, the government's thinking of taxing computers:
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Green Paper setting out the BBC’s long-term future proposed a solution that could end the traditional fee. The paper suggested “either a compulsory levy on all households or even on ownership of PCs as well as TVs”. It said that technology might render it difficult to collect and enforce the fee.
Note that it's only PCs that are to be targeted. I'm OK: I've got a Mac!

Wednesday 2 March 2005

Need your head examined?

Good. I quite fancy doing a bit of amateur brain surgery. I 'm not actually a qualified surgeon - in fact I have no training at all in medicine but, hey, why should that matter?

What I'm getting at is this: if we tend not to trust the medical opinions of people who've never studied medicine, why should we assume that everyone understands economics? You see, economics is quite a tricky subject and a lot of its insights are counter-intuitive. But almost every day we read nonsense like this in the papers. It comes from laymen, politicians, columnists, and even from people who have studied what passes for economics in universities these days but which is really the preaching of socialism.

Mr Hartney writes:

Only the Scottish Socialist Party wants to tax wealthy companies to provide the funds for essential public services.

The figures of big company profits show how easy it would be to put a fraction of that cash to work for the common good instead of private greed.

Contrary to what Mr Hartney thinks, free market economics is not a "dogma", but a rationally thought out set of principles.

Some of us, including myself, were rather shocked to learn that the Royal Bank of Scotland has a greater market capitalisation than Ford, General Motors, Nike and McDonald's put together. That's something we should be pleased about. Stealing the bank's profits would not benefit the "common good" but merely drive wealth-creators out of Scotland.

Tuesday 1 March 2005

The Constitution

This letter raises a fascinating question:
Since the announcement of the question to be put in a referendum on the European Union constitution, I am surprised there has not been an intensive public debate, and that should be cause for grave concern to all of us. In Scotland’s case, we have not faced such a serious threat to our national sovereignty since 23 June, 1314. Then, as now, our very liberty and freedom as a people, as a nation, are at stake.
Mr McGill's point is that once Britain joins up to the EU Constitution, Scotland could never become independent. Now I'll forget for the moment that no nation can be meaningfully independent in the EU. What our friends down south don't realise is that the SNP wants Scotland to be just like everyone else, whatever that may be at the time: totally independent in the old days and a typical EU member state now. It's not independence as such that motivates the Nats.

But as Mr McGill has realised, once we sign up to the proposed constitution the chances are that the new Europe will be based on existing member states. So will the normally ultra pro-EU SNP campaign against the EU Constitution? The SNP's website talks about fishing in its section on the EU Constitution but there's a lot more to it than that.

I aim to be the new Rupert Murdoch

Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed the appearance of adverts on this blog. According to Google I may well earn some income from these, and I am now looking forward to acquiring the Times or, better still, the Scotsman.

Apparently the ads are generated by things that have been blogged about in the past. So far the adverts that have been placed on the site appear to be of the naive-green variety and this is something that I shall have to watch. I don't want to encourage this sort of thing, do I?