Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Has you're Granny got a Heilan' Hame?

A common theme of yer actual cybernat is the blind assumption that everyone is like them. If you're not a Scot Nat, you must be a "unionist", and if you happen to be English and speak out against Scots Nats, that's because you're an English Nat. Have to be. Stands to reason. How can anyone not be  a Nat of some description?


I'm watching the T20 international between England and India from Old Trafford. And y'know, that little theory doesn't quite hold water.... The "English" team has no fewer than three South Africans, Pietersen. Keiswetter and Dernbach, and one Irishman, Eoin Morgan, in their eleven... 

And young Dernbach is half-Scottish into the bargain.

Now that's what I call sensible. Not "Where were you born?" or "Has you're Granny got a Heilan' hame?", or "Can you wave a flag?", but "Can you play?". Quite right too.

And when the United Nations helped England beat the Aussies and win the Ashes, wasn't that a great victory for English cricket...? I watched it. I loved it.

Great thing about the English... they're not Nationalists.

Mind you, how many home-born Scots are there in the current Scottish football team? And the Tartan Army don't seem to care too much... good for them, I say.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

You're 'avin' a Laffer....

I'm no economist, but I do know that the SNP's plans to compete within the UK on Corporation Tax are flawed, as I blogged here and as Richard Murphy blogged here. A separate Corporation Tax in Scotland is contrary to the interests of the UK, it doesn't create new jobs but it does cause distortions in the market and any claimed benefits are not certain and will take years to appear... if they ever do. 

Meanwhile the EU is moving towards harmonisation of business taxes, forcing Tax Pirate economies like the Irish to toe the line, and making the policy that the Nationalists want in a devolved UK, i.e.cutting business taxes in isolation, impossible to implement if they ever achieved their dream of "independent in Europe".
So it's already a dog's breakfast, a fact emphasised by John Swinney's incoherence when trying to defend it on Newsnicht. 

Nevertheless the bold John yesterday issued this press release.....and now he seems to have swallowed the whole right-wing Laffer Curve nonsense... y'know the bit where Tea Party Republicans claim that lowering taxes always increases government revenues...

"There is clear evidence from around the world of the benefits from lowering burdens on business....Lower corporation tax is a vital source of competitive advantage in an integrated global economy, helping to attract new businesses and highly-skilled jobs. ......Corporation Tax has a significant influence on increasing the size, competitive strength, productivity and ambition of Scotland's business base. Lower rates of corporation tax boost incentives to invest in human and physical capital, and research and development, increasing firms' profitability and the ability to compete.....cutting the headline tax rate would not necessarily reduce tax receipts."

Proponents of the Laffer Curve are always willing to admit that it is counter-intuitive (translation "illogical") to believe that cutting taxes increases the amount of tax revenues gathered, but even they will only claim that it works if a country is "over taxed" in the first place. Say what you want about the UK, but it's not a high tax country for business in the first place. Corporation Tax is only around 26% and there are plans to reduce it, so the theoretical gain from the Laffer analysis wouldn't happen here (even if you believed in Laffer, which most economists don't).

Frankly, what a so-called "left wing" party like the SNP pretends to be is doing calling up neo-liberal mumbo jumbo to support an already discredited policy proposal is beyond logic and consistency. But then logic and consistency never were a Nationalist strong points. 


Friday, 19 August 2011

Where's Gordon.....? Where's Gideon...?

Yesterday and today global markets plummeted. Down like a stone... and no "dead cat bounce" to be seen. This particular cat is a dead cat and it ain't bouncing any time soon.... the outlook is bleak and the future is dark...

The economies of Europe and the USA are tanking. Confidence drains away like a summer downpour... not much left, it'll soon be gone...

And our leaders? How are they handling this dreadful situation?

Obama speaks words of reassurance. Merkel speaks. Sarkozy speaks. Merkel and Sarkozy speak together. They all speak in unison. But who is listening...? Not the markets. Not the investors or the financial analysts. The more our leaders speak, the worse the situation becomes.... (BTW, where's our Finance Minister in all of this? Gideon George Osborne is nowhere to be seen).

Here's a quote from Liberal England;
"For all Gordon Brown's faults, he was a considerable and reassuring presence on the international stage and would have been in his element in the current crisis. When it comes to international finance, our current prime minister has been the invisible man."
Halelujah! Absolutely true. If Gordon was in charge he would be calling summits, banging heads together, brokering deals, making a case, convincing markets, bolstering banks, exuding confidence, outmanouvreing hedge funds and, at least, attempting to control the crisis.

Where is he now? Well the UK public bought the Murdoch line that Gordon was difficult, Gordon was mulish, Gordon , the dour Scot, was somehow limited and not fit for leadership (unlike James Murdoch......).

And the public believed Murdoch, but not enough to vote for Dave, so the Lib Dems, when it came to the choice, chose Dave.... and his Bullingdon mate and economic illiterate, George

Where are they now that we need real leadership from really mature politicians? They are nowhere to be seen.

And where is Gordon when we need him....? Out of office and out of power.

Is that the real tragedy of the 2011 financial crisis?

Payback Time....

Brian Wilson has an interesting piece about the political influence in the honours system, in particular the knighthood awarded to the SNP's main paymaster, Brian Souter, the bus and rail billionaire. Was it a straight reward from Nationalist politicians to the man who puts so much cash into their party? It's hard to avoid the suspicion that it was.

Today's Herald reports that Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT) is under threat of "review" by the Nationalist Administration. Is it a coincidence that SPT is a publicly owned transport organisation and that it has been calling for stronger regulation of the bus business, a regulation that might not be to the liking of Mr Souter or in the financial interests of businesses?

Call me an old cynic, but if a Labour or Tory benefactor was making such large contributions to the party and getting such obvious benefit from government actions, what would the average person think, never mind your cybernats?

The SNP's second most prominent donor is Sir Tom Farmer. What little gift can the Nats have lined up for him?

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Open, Transparent, ...You kiddin?

I recently posted this on  the decision by the Nationalist Administration at Holyrood to go to law to block a number of Freedom Of Information Requests (FOI). They wanted to keep information on their proposed Local Income Tax from the public... the same public who would have to pay the tax if it ever came to fruition. It seemed to me that the SNP was deliberately delaying the information because of the Scottish elections which were ongoing at the time the FOIs were requested. Anyway, not very honest, open or democratic...

Today Catherine Stihler MEP reveals that she has raised an FOI asking about any legal advice the Nationalists have on whether an "independent" Scotland would be automatically accepted into the EU. The Nationalist Executive has refused to accept the FOI, and says that releasing the information would be "contrary to the public interest"!!! Honest! Contrary to the public interest! How can it be "contrary to the public interest" for the public to have the same legal information that the SNP has on such a key part of the Nationalist strategy?

Open and transparent are words which are obviously not in the vocabulary of our Nationalist brethren.

The Nats launched their attempt to get control of Corporation Tax this week. The aim is to reduce the tax in Scotland and give Scottish business a "competitive edge" against other British companies. it wouldn't work... see here for analysis.... but in any case, it's at odds with the EU's announcement that countries should harmonise and integrate business taxes, not the disintegration that the Nationalists seem to want.

P.S. I wonder which unfortunate SNP minister is (supposed to be) in control of the Nationalists EU strategy.....

Poor wee sowell, as ma grannie used to say..... 

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Unsafe is as Unsafe does.....

Today is the second anniversary of Kenny McAskill's decision to release Abdelbaset Al Megrahi. Sky has an interesting piece about the circumstances of his diagnosis and release, with a prominent cancer specialist who gave his opinion on Mrgrahi's health showing his unhappiness at how his opinion was used in the decision to release Megrahi. 

Today it is also announced that Nat Fraser has been charged and will face a retrial on charges of murdering his wife.

This coincidence prompts the thought: why is the Nationalist government happy to release Megrahi on doubts over the safety of his conviction but the same Nationalist government is incensed by the Supreme Court ordering a retrial of Nat Fraser over doubts about the safety of his conviction?

Does justice come into it all, or is it, like most things to do with SNP actions, explained by the usual Nationalist politicking and posturing?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

FFA's sake....

Devolution Max, It's the kite being flown by the SNP in the knowledge that Scotland doesn't want "independence". DevoMax would incorporate Full Fiscal Autonomy (FFA), the idea that all taxes raised in Scotland would be held and spent in Scotland, and that such charges as Corporation Tax could be varied  (i.e rduced) in Scotland so that businesses would move from England to Scotland to save money and increase profits.

Professor Arthur Midwinter has an interesting post here on the difficulties and general impracticality of FFA in a devolved Scotland. I have always suspected that FFA was independence in disguise. Prof Midwinter shows that it is inconsistent with devolution and with the UK's economic arrangements.

But it is also at odds with the SNP's other main policy of "independence in Europe" (itself a contradiction in terms, but that's another argument). Events in the Eurozone have resulted in pressure for much more fiscal integration, the exact opposite of the SNP's desire to be a tax haven economy, at fiscal war with its supposed partners in the UK and the EU. 

As for the Nats desire to be corporation tax pirates, here's what the the BBC reports is the Euro Leaders opinion of that...
In another initiative to increase tax revenues, the leaders advocated harmonising corporate tax rates across the single currency - something likely to be strongly opposed by the low-tax Republic of Ireland.
That'll be the economically crippled Ireland that Alex Salmond thinks should be the model for Scottish economic management. And that'll also be the death knell of any Nationalist plans for an "independent" Scotland to undercut corporation tax rates in the Eurozone.

P.S. I've been wasting my time... read this by Richard Murphy....

Friday, 12 August 2011

The Plates Shift......

Peter Oborne is the Telegraph's chief political commentator. He is an ex-editor of the Spectator and is still (I believe) a contributing editor to that journal. In other words he's a pillar of the right-wing journalistic establishment and great defender of the conservative (and Conservative) cause.

So it appears (to me at least) highly significant when such a figure as Oborne writes this sort of stuff in his newsblog;

"...there was also something very phony and hypocritical about all the shock and outrage expressed in parliament. MPs spoke about the week’s dreadful events as if they were nothing to do with them.
I cannot accept that this is the case. Indeed, I believe that the criminality in our streets cannot be dissociated from the moral disintegration in the highest ranks of modern British society. The last two decades have seen a terrifying decline in standards among the British governing elite. It has become acceptable for our politicians to lie and to cheat. An almost universal culture of selfishness and greed has grown up.
It is not just the feral youth of Tottenham who have forgotten they have duties as well as rights. So have the feral rich of Chelsea and Kensington..."

There's a lot more in that vein...he attacks Richard Branson for hinting that he wants to move abroad to avoid tax, and Philip Green for already doing so.....

But such behaviour has been common among businesses and businessmen for decades, encouraged by the dominant neo-liberal economic philosophy and the "me-first" and "no such thing as society" politics of the right. And right-wing journals and journalists have attacked or ignored calls from the left for fairer taxation and for more vigorous pursuit of tax evasion and tax avoidance. Being successful was not just, as in the past, a reason for reasonable reward. It had become an excuse to maximise income and minimise contribution and the hell with those at the bottom. We have not quite reached the situation in parts of the USA with gated communities to keep out the undesirable poor, but morally and practically, it sometimes feels very similar.

And now? Can it be that the moral bankruptcy of encouraging the rich to be greedy, to take the rewards and demand ever more, and insisting that the poor remain honest, pay their taxes and accept what they get, is finally becoming untenable and undeniable? Even those like Oborne, of a naturally right wing bent, and who until now have questioned the very need for taxation and celebrated tax cuts and service cuts, have woken up to the consequences of the glorification of greed. Those who encouraged the increases in inequality and the increasing physical and psychical distance between rich and poor, are now beginning to question the moral and practical basis of such a policy.

Is the neo-liberal right finally in retreat? Is Peter Oborne the first unlikely cuckoo of a new, fairer, more equal, less divided and divisive spring?

*hattip Richard Murphy at the excellent Tax Research UK

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

David Discovers Broken Britain.....

David Cameron invented the phrase "Broken Britain" to describe a type of social collapse that he supposed characterised the Labour years and which was an outcome of Labour philosophy.

Irony of ironies, it seems to have taken only a year of Mr Cameron's Premiership to actually break Britain....

Cutting jobs and services and police numbers is coming home to roost, as  Nick Clegg predicted and Boris Johnson highlights...

London's burning... and so are Manchester, Salford, Birmingham, Liverpool........

Parts of Britain are indeed broken... and the chickens are coming home to roost for the inventor of the slogan....

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Whither Eck's tongue....

After the Sun won it for the SNP in May, Alex Salmond “had a celebratory dinner” with News International executives.  This, and Mr Salmond’s four-year courting of the Murdoch empire, may seem to make him no better than any other politician with his tongue firmly attached to the Murdoch anatomy. But, in fact, the sin would seem to be worse for Mr Salmond. The man who constantly claims to be “standing up for Scotland”, and picking fights with far-away London, is in bed with a media company whose interests are not those of Scotland or the UK, but are firmly corporate with a United States bias, and with a wholly conservative political agenda.

                Given the power-broking influence of News Corporation in the relatively large UK, one shudders at the effects on democracy of such power and influence in a smaller so-called "independent" country with fewer resources to withstand, and as Mr Salmond’s behaviour has revealed, no real will or wish to resist, the blandishments and threats of Mr Murdoch’s bleak hospitality.

Where are our "leaders"?

North London goes up in flames, stock markets crash and burn and national economies burn to a crisp, while David Cameron languishes in Tuscany and George Osborne lounges by a pool in Los Angeles.

Imagine, just imagine, the media outcry and the opposition "fury", if Labour leaders - Gordon Brown say, or Alisdair Darling - were to behave in this lazy, not to say insouciant, manner in the middle of miltiple crises....