Finance and Constitution

I am a sad economics/tax/policy geek. I’ve been watching and listening to a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Constitution Committee while doing other stuff this morning. The interactions of businesses, employment, tax policy is fascinating.  If you want to understand the “powers” the Scottish Goverment has over tax watch this Committee Meeting from the Scottish Parliament. It’s only about 2 hours long…..  Then you’ll understand just how little control the “most powerful developed parliament” in the world really has….

 

http://www.scottishparliament.tv/Archive?Area&categoryId=adf12acf-2cad-492c-8c5b-538e04973a86&parentCategoryClicked=False&pageNumber=1&orderByField=ScheduledStart&queryOrder=DESC

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Here we go, here we go, here we go,

Once more into the breech dear friends,   Ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country, Never in the field of human politics have so many been betrayed so deeply by so few… (…I’ll return to this phrase)

OK so I paraphrased one of these quotes.

We’ve got a General Election happening in 7 weeks, a mere 4 weeks after the Local Authority/Council elections,  Whoop-de-f’n-do.   I’m scunnered at the games being played by Theresa May and the Tory party.  Let’s just remember that it is they – and only they – who created the whole messy environment of Brexit.  They chose to use the country as a plaything to try and fix the problems within their party.  And they are still doing it.  I guess when you are a multi-millionaire, which all members of the Tory Goverment are,  real world problems like benefit sanctions and state snooping don’t exist in the reality you live in. So you play games and the rest of country is of no consequence to you at all.
Going back to the point of this post – it’s to encourage the one or two people who read this blog to do something. To go and join a party.  But don’t just join.  Don’t just salve your conscience by bunging a tenner to the SNP (other parties are available).  Step away from the keyboard.  Go along to branch meetings, get involved.  Actions speak far louder than words.  And right now, your country needs actions.  Like never before (in my lifetime).  Help your chosen party. Deliver leaflets, take your turn on street stalls, write to newspapers, hell, even go on protest marches  (I’m about to do that for the first time in my life…)

I’ve always been a supporter of Scottish independence, so it’s natural that I should be a long time members of  the SNP isn’t it?  Well I’m not.  I joined the SNP the day Jo Cox MP was murdered.  Something, for me, changed that day.  A family lost it’s mum, a husband lost his wife, because of what she believed in and the job she was doing.   So I joined the SNP on Thursday 16th June 2016.   I joined the SNP because no other party is likely to be able to deliver the goal I fundamentally believe in – that Scotland can easily be a successful, fair and just independent state. Something about her being murdered made me believe it was time to stand up and be counted and be active.  Once independence is achieved, then <shrugs> I’ll look around at the parties in the newly restored independent Scotland and join one of them. Or perhaps not join any.   I don’t think the SNP are perfect. Far from it.  In Nicola Sturgeon they’ve got possibly the best politician on this island, but this party ain’t perfect.  Not yet……… But they’ve got the same goal running through them as I think is the only way to make the country I want to be living in.  I’m too old to emigrate to Canada.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Yesterday’s roll of the dice by Theresa May was the opening move in her latest grand game.  She doesn’t remotely care that she’s now doing something she promised not to do, that she’s, in effect, tearing up laws her party made. That there’s a valid degree of suspicion that she’s running away from potential criminal charges being placed against her party.   Nope, none of these matter.   She doesn’t care about “Now is not the time”.   It’s a game, and th eonly objective is power. Purely that. My bet is that she’ll be gone and the Tories will have another leader within 12 months.  Jacob Rees-Mogg?   Just remember you read it here first….

So my feeling is that The Battle For Britain is on NOW.  The result of the General Election in 7 weeks is going to shape the country for the next 10 years,  probably far longer. the future of the NHS, of Education, of environmental regulations of human rights will be decided in the next 7 weeks.

So if you care at all about the country you live in, about the country your children are growing up in, your grandchildren are going to grow up in, get up off your chair and get involved.  For me that means I have to do as much as I can to support the SNP.  Your decisions may be different.

It used to be said that polite conversation should avoid politics, religion and sport. That was then, this is now.  The most important change we could all make is to be openly talking about politics. It’s far too important to be not discussed.

The Battle For Britain is on NOW.  What are you going to tell future generations you did during these short seven weeks?

Here’s a handy link   🙂

https://members.snp.org/#/join

Gobsmacked!!!

I’m feeling gobsmacked and more than a bit surprised.  I didn’t see the snap election coming.  Once again we have the Tory party putting the good of their party before the country.  How many times did Theresa May say she would not call a snap election?  And what was it she said about the Scottish Parliament’s democratic request for #scotref?  “Now is no the time”.  Well if we don’t know enough about Brexit’s implications now to hold a #scotref, we sure as hell don’t know enough to hold a General Election.  I have never in my life seen a political party behaving with such casual disregard for the people in the country.  It’s dystopian. It’s Orwellian.  It’s just downright depressing.

Electoral Fraud.  Let’s not forget about it. The Tories were given the largest fine possible by the Electoral Commision. They were found guilty of breaking the rules.  There are 20+ cases still with the Crown Prosecution Service. And yet they are getting away with it.  The evidence is compelling that they acted fraudulently and now they’re going to do it all again. Wonderful.

Brexit.  That’s what this is all about. The Tories have to get their electoral win secured before the really bad news of how catastrophic Brexit will be hits the general public. There’s been a drip, drip drip of bans and financial services companies relocating functions and departments to within the EU.  When this drip turns into a flood then the economy of the UK is in deep, deep, trouble.   Only a starry eyed optimist would think otherwise.  Will it run into a flood?  Some commentators think so.  The Tories are may be many despicable things but they are not stupid.  They see the writing on the wall and are desperate to secure their power before the rest of the population reads it and blames them.

So where do I stand on this?  This is Scotland versus the Tories. We can all be certain the Tories will win in England.  They will once again be fraudulent (why not? it won them the last election and no-one went to jail) and Labour are not fit-for-purpose as an opposition party.  So the Tories will waltz home.  In England.

Scotland is a different matter altogether.  As is Northern Ireland.   In Scotland the unionist politicians could be made extinct. It will be a tough fight though as we can expect Trump-sized lies and chicanery in the media for the next 8 weeks.  (yes – that includes the BBC, particularly BBC Scotland).  Northern Ireland is going to be a problem for the Tories too as the Unionist parties will surely be rejected there.  So quo vadis the *United* Kingdom?   Do the Tories even care?    I’m not sure if they do.  I can’t remember as i type this if “The Great Repeal” Bill has been passed by parliament yet.  If it has, this isn’t about a General Election is a coup d’etat.  The Great Repeal Bill (oh was anything so badly and tragically misnamed) hands decision making on almost every aspect of EU law as it is brought into UK law to the Goverment.  Read that again.  The Goverment will decide what of 40+years of laws will be applicable in the UK. Parliament won’t be doing this.  The Tory Government will. Still thinking the UK has a functioning democracy?

 

So,  Scotland.  As one very famous Tory leader said “There is no alternative”.   She was right. But just a bit out of context.

 

 

May The Force be with you!

… although it might seem like some ancient and mysterious force is needed to guide you thought the perplexities and complexities of the Single Transferrable Voting system which you are soon going to be asked to use, it’s actually not that difficult to get your head around.  (Assuming of course you’re reading this in the galactic land of Scotland and are going to use your vote in the Local Council Elections on May the Fourth…..)

The only really important thing to remember is “Never use an X”. This voting system is all about numbers.  So you must use a ‘1’  a ‘2’ a ‘3’ and so on.  Here’s a voting guide for you.  

This isn’t a vote for the Empire, no matter what the evil Senator Theresa Palpatine says.  This is all about your local councillors, the local folk who will really be sorting out all the street lights, the schools, the bantu droppings, the pot-holes in the tracks around Tatooine.   You’re not voting for the Senate. Not this time. So try not to be swayed and influenced by the stories the Senators are putting out about the alliance. Vote for the people who you think will get the job done. This is kinda how I see it….

Your voting slip will look kinda like this.  Loads of names with a space beside them where we need to put our numbers.

CALRISSIAN Lando
FETT Bobba
KENOBI Obi-Wan
ORGANA Leia
SKYWALKER Luke
SOLO Han
TheHUTT Jabba
VADER Darth

You can’t vote for Padme Amidalla nor Senator Theresa Palpatine  (even though we just know her “Great Repeal Bill” is as big an act of democratic betrayal as the motion to have Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum removed from office).

Now – I quite like that Calrissian guy ‘coz he’s got experience of running the Cloud City. So he knows how to get things done in a small local goverment sort of way.  But, there’s others I think who have more potential.  So he’s not my number 1.   And,  just a hang on a minutes,  hang on a doggone minute,  whoever I vote for in this Local STV election I sure as Endors two moons really don’t want to vote for Darth Vader.  Hell no!  He’s the evil Senator Theresa Palpatine’s right hand man.  Giving him more power?  No chance… All I can do to try and deny Palpatine and Co getting more power is to vote for everyone above him.  So I think I’ll be voting like this:

CALRISSIAN Lando 5
FETT Bobba 6
KENOBI Obi-Wan 4
ORGANA Leia 3
SKYWALKER Luke 1
SOLO Han 2
TheHUTT Jabba 7
VADER Darth 8

Even Jabba The Hutt deserves a vote before Darth Vader….. at least Jabba ran a business…….

So, as you approach that polling booth on May the Fourth, or as you’re completing your postal voting slip right now, just remember that a very big game is being played with your vote.  Although it isn’t really about how much power it will give to Senator Theresa Palpatin, and she knows this, she’s trying to change the rules of the game for this election. Supporting her , well we already know how badly things turn out when Senator Palpatine becomes full of the Dark Side and declares themself as ‘Emperor’……….

As we all vote for local people whom we trust will do a good local job for us and deliver the local services and support we’ll all need in the future (and perhaps help us shape the type of planet and galaxy we want to live in)  –

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU ON MAY THE FOURTH !!

The Art of War….

Sun Tzu’s writing on the way a war and battles should be fought and campaigned are still used as example of how to do things logically to improve the likelihood of reaching a successful conclusion. suntzu

 

If you’re involved in planning for anything you’d normally think about what the best case and what the worst case could be. Then you’d expect a result that was somewhere in the middle. That’s just common sense. If you’re planning to hold a car boot sale you’d probably think about what would happen if it’s a nice day and what would happen if it’s raining.  It’s called scenario planning  in the buzzword-bingo business land.  And everyone does it.  Everyone. Always.  Then they do “What-Ifs”.  What if this happens?  What if that happens?  What if this+that happens?   So you plan.  The bigger the event the more you plan.  That’s really what Sun Tzu was teaching all these centuries ago.  The art of planning.


Unless you’re the multimillionaires in the UK Government. Then, you don’t plan. You don’t think about the best case or the worst case.  You just spout vapid empty slogans and soundbites. You don’t even think that establishing the baseline case for Brexit by actually planning the impact of “NoDeal” would be a good idea.  Good heavens. Why would you do that?  The only rational I can come up with for the calamitous failure by the UK Government is because no matter what they do, it has zero consequences for them personally.  And that’s not good news for the rest of us.

How about this for the UK Goverment – You plan because it is only when you know just how bad the worst case scenario is that you can even vaguely know if you’ve negotiated something better?  Sound like a good idea? It does to me.  But not to MayDavisFoxJohstone.

I don’t recall a UK Government ever being so utterly incompetent.  Margaret Thatcher was bad news for many but we all knew what she was doing.  Tony Blair was a wide boy on the make (and he started the rot of Government by Daily Mail headline) but we knew what he was doing.  This lot, particularly Theresa May, are clueless.

As Winston might have said……  “Never in field of human democracy, have so many been so screwed by so few”  



Until we can persuade parliament to allow us, the electorate and the people they are supposed to represent, to have the right to recall MPs whom we are not satisfied with, probably the only thing we can all do now is to write to our MPs telling them in no uncertain terms that the performance of the UK Goverment is not good enough.  Use http://www.writetothem.com  to get the email address of your MP.

What England Means to Me

 

What England Means To Me   – is a website I was invited to write a piece for.  This is a draft of that piece.  I’m trying out on my own website first, before submitting it to the other one.   I’ve had this on the go for a few months and am only getting around to a near complete draft.   Fire away with your comments……..  

 

“O wad some power the giftie gie us, tae see oorsels as ithers see us.”

Those are the words of Scotland’s national bard – Robert Burns. This essay is about ‘What England Means to Me’ from a Scottish perspective, hence the introduction. When asked if I’d like to write a piece for this site, I was flattered and challenged in equal measures. I consider myself very Scottish, although I was born in Coventry. I support the movement for Scotland to once again be an independent nation, which means I support the SNP as the best vehicle to get Scotland there and I’m writing about England.

 

My first feeling about what England means to me is one of slight frustration. I can’t easily answer the question “What is England?”  The geographical area is well defined,  but what else?  these days it means to me the place where my daughter lives and works.  It was, but for a spot of gazumping, a place where I (almost) lived and worked.

England has had a real problem with its identity for a long, long time. England and Britain and UK have seemingly been interchangeable terms forever. So much so that when considering what’s England, or English, it’s difficult to separate them. Even contributors to this site casually conflate the terms “England’s” and “Britain’s” when referring to events and deeds of the past. England wears the coat of Britain with comfort, indeed the coat was probably tailored to fit England. This has to be a challenge for England and the English as Britain goes forward. Just what is ‘England’? How does England take off this coat of Britain and relax into its own identity? Nowhere is this confusion over identity shown more clearly than at rugby/football internationals where the England team uses the British national anthem as their own, even when they are playing against Scotland, Wales, N.Ireland – who all have equal claim to use that song. Staying in the sporting world for a moment there is “The FA” and The RFU”. All the other countries in the UK have a national identifier in front of their sporting bodies, e.g. “The SFA”, “The SRU”. Yet England uniquely seems the have the word “The”. Pause and think about that for a moment, and what it says about national identity.
The Union Flag is similarly easily swapped for the St George’s flag. This schizophrenia about identity runs deeply through English/British/UK history and doesn’t seem to have been resolved yet. Scottish nationalism has been and is a benign force: civic, progressive, pluralist, and deeply multicultural. The English nationalism we are witnessing is practically the mirror opposite – ethnic, regressive, anti-pluralist, and at war with multiculturalism and diversity. There are many essays on this site which talk of the English values of ‘fair play’ and ‘helping the under-dog’. Where are those values being demonstrated in post-Brexit England?

So England, the largest country in the United Kingdom. The dominant country, not a partner to the other countries. The devolution arrangements and very recent pronouncements from the Supreme Court  have shown this in sharper relief than ever before.  England – the country which rules that it’s too dangerous for nuclear weapons to be stored in its territory yet is happy for them to be stored within 15 miles of 46% of the population of another country in the United Kingdom.  Much has been said about the need for a parliament for England, to put it on a level footing with Holyrood, Stormont and Cardiff.  EVEL will not deliver this. This is the politics of England, not the people. The political direction in which the country is being driven just doesn’t reflect the view the English have about England. English people are really no different from Scots, from Welsh, from Irish people. It’s a puzzle therefore why they are allowing themselves to be pushed in a direction which can only end in diminution of their country.

 

England is a country with areas of great beauty. The Lake District, the Cotswolds, the garden of Kent, the wilderness of Dartmoor. It’s all there. The Riviera on the south coast. What’s not to like about this land? And I do like the land when I’m there.  So is that what England Means to Me?  A pleasant place to visit?   London is good to visit, but not as stunning as New York.

Right now though, at the end of January 2017, there’s something happening in England which is causing real anxiety in Scotland (perhaps moreso in Northern Ireland and Wales too). England is allowing itself to become characterised by a meanness of spirit. The appalling murder of Jo Cox MP, the societal divisions being foisted, with no care or regard for the future, on England by its politicians, no longer sit comfortably with the Scottish character. Maybe it was always thus, but I don’t think so. The trajectory England is being put on is going to stress the bonds of the United Kingdom as they have never been stressed before. I doubt that they will survive.

So what is England? A proud nation, people who long ago created a vast empire but have yet to really come to terms with its ending. England – a nation with an identity crisis.

Sometimes it’s the little things……

broken-rings…… that make all the difference in the world.   I’ve no idea what the main reasons for people getting divorced are, but I’m willing to bet it’s usually because of a lot of little things all piling up until it beceoms intolerable.

For Scotland, that seems to be what’s happening.  Over the past few weeks there have been many little things happening.  None of which, in isolation would cause a divorce.  And yet……when the cumulative effect of all the little slights, and all the snide comments and put downs are added together they begin to make you wonder about staying in a union.

Here’s a few of the little things

  • Speaker John Bercow’s (quite excellent) speech on Trump being shown on BBC Newsnight – with a backing track of “Jerusalem”.
  • Joanna Cherry QC MP being told to sit down and be quiet in the House of Commons during a debate on the Develoved Nations and Brexit.  (Tommy Shepperd has written about this, see below this post)  This, despite her talking for a scant 3 minutes when many Tories had been permitted to speak for 20 minutes or 30 minutes.  As for the behaviour of the Tories……
  • The Brexit White Paper being devoid of any factual content in relation to Scotland.  There’s an excellent review of it here.
  • The mis-use (abuse?) of statistics by Ruth Davidson MSP with no challenges or questions being raised from the Scottish Media.
  • David Mundell’s waffle and obfuscation and complete denial of having been elected to represent people in Dumfriesshire when he clearly believes his job is not to represent his constituents, but to represent his Party and it’s dictats from London
  • Theresa May ignoring the Paper on Brexit, which contains many compromises,  presented by the Scottish Goverment.

 

So when the dust settles, the Scottish people, being well balanced will be left to wonder what exactly is going on.   All little things on their own.  Collectively though they seem far larger.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s Tommy Sheppard MP’s post on Facebook. 

So not everyone spends their evenings watching Parliament TV – and who can blame you. It’s often not the most exciting watch. But I do think it’s important that folk know what happened last night. Even after some kip, I’m still pretty angry.

We have 3 days to debate around 100 motions on the Brexit bill. Yesterday we focused on 2 elements – the rights of EU citizens and the role of devolved administrations. It works out at about an average of four minutes to debate each amendment.

In one of the many bizarre aspects of debate here no time limit is placed on speeches during committee stage debates. When that is combined with the informal gentleman’s club hierarchy whereby the longer serving get priority, it means it’s very hard for new MPs to get a word in edgeways.

In 8 hours of debate, only 4 MPs representing Scottish constituencies got to speak. In the 3 hour debate on the devolved administrations we had 1 MP representing Wales, 1 Northern Ireland and 2 Scotland.

One Tory MP spoke for longer than all members from Scotland combined – on a debate about the role of the Scottish Parliament in Brexit.

Our second was my colleague Joanna Cherry QC. After 2 minutes (when many others had spoken for around 20 mins each – including a Tory who attempted to filibuster and had already had 20mins+ in the first debate) the Deputy Speaker said he expected her to finish up, that he had been kind enough to let the SNP speak and she should not abuse it.

Joanna made the point that she should be heard and carried on. She was basically told to sit down – she was done. Alex Salmond raised a point of order and a number of the group walked out in disgust. It wasn’t pretty.

You elected me to represent you. To do that I need to be able to speak.

Last night the voices of the people of Scotland were not heard. We were silenced by the mother of parliaments not being fit for purpose.

It shouldn’t be this difficult.

The fact that the debate was delayed by points of order on the clerks wearing wigs (some Tories were upset that Bercow had ruled that they no longer need to) shows just where we are at.

I’m proud to represent Edinburgh East and I will continue to fight for my constituents with all I have. But sometimes you do wonder…

Scottish People

I’ve been guilty of not updating this blog for a very long time……. must try harder in 2017.  There’s been no shortage of events and things to write about.  Brexit is everything, oh, and perhaps Trump is everything too….

I wrote these next few words as a reply to a comment a friend made on Facebook.   Adding it to my blog as I’d like to keep it somewhere that I can find it again and maybe edit it from time to time.  He was asking what was the point of the SNP as the Scottish people didn’t vote for Independence in 2014.  We’re not in 2014 any more……..

 
“Scottish People” 


Scottish people might like to have all their laws and civil rights protected by a right-wing xenophobic party operating and supported only in a different country.

Scottish People might like that their vote will never ever have any influence on the type of Government, they have, or the people who make up that Government.

Scottish People might like having a Government that spies on their every keystroke on a PC, that records every single phone call they make, that listens in on their Amazon Echo.

Scottish People might like to live and work in an economy which has been designed to ensure the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.

Scottish People might like not having to worry about pensions because they trust that Right-Wing Xenophobic Government will have raised the pension age till it almost matches their life expectancy.

Scottish People might like the idea of paying for an insurance policy in case they ever get sick and need to use a Health Service.

Scottish People might not have ambitions for their children to go to University.

Scottish People might like not being able to freely travel and perhaps work across Europe.

Scottish People might like having nuclear weapons stored on their west coast, close to their major population centre, while also having rotting hulks of previous nuclear machines stored on their east coast.

………….But on the other hand,

Scottish People might *not* like some or all of the above.

Scottish People might like to actually have a say in what their country looks like and feels like.

The time for choosing will come soon enough.

yes2-820x431

Economy, Brexit, K-Waves & Stuff

This is a rambling post on the state we’re in now and some underlying economic theory (as I understand it) which might help us think through the challenges posed by the Brexit vote.

 

NeoLiberalism – it’s what’s going on

But to start, let’s look at where we are – here’s a video clip where a top economist pretty much tears apart the system we’re living with.
https://www.theguardian.com/business/video/2016/aug/11/owen-jones-talks-to-ha-joon-chang-austerity-is-based-on-lies-video-interview

The way everything is being done now doesn’t look like a sustainable way for the future.   There’s not much doubt that we’re living through a massive transfer form the people to the elite  ( ireally don’t much like thes terms, but can’t think of any alternatives.)  NeoLiberalism isn’t new, it has been going since the days of Pinochet in Chile  (’73-90)  and we can look back at his rule and see how it impacted on the people of Chile.  It was fine for the 1%, but very bleak indeed for the rest of the population.  And this is the same economic system, pretty much, as Reagan and Thatcher imposed on the US and the the UK.  And it’s still going on…..  Our UK Government seems to be stuck with Thatcher’s mantra of “There Is No Alternative”.  TINA can’t be true though.  Everything in life has alternatives so logically there must be alternatives to NeoLiberalism.  It’s just that NL has been the in vogue economic framework for so much of the world for so long, almost a generation, that it has become so deeply ingrained that it’s hard for any alternative to be thought of in the mainstream.  Here’s a little graph showing the changes in household income over the past decades (there are many like this which look the same).  Sorry it’s not got a source on it, I picked it up from Prof David Bell at University of Stirling.  I trust he wouldn’t be using it in public if it wasn’t accurate.

household income.JPG

This is what NeoLiberalism has done and is continuing to do.  Can you tell I’m not a fan?

 

Long Waves

There’s an interesting underlying theory of long waves of economic activity.  It was postulated by Nikolai Kondratiev  back in 1925.  It continues to attract attention because it still seems to fit what’s going on in the global and national economies.  If you’re interested in the theory of this, then look up Kontratiev, Schumpeter and yes, Karl Marx.  What you read might surprise you.

Here’s a representation of  Kondratiev Waves.  As you can see, it;s a kind of 45 year to 60 year cycle.  We’re at an interesting point where, according to this economic theory, we ought to be entering a cyclical downturn.  Maybe this theory is correct?  There’s certainly plenty of people who respect the underlying theory of these long waves of economic activity.

520px-Kondratieff_Wave.svg.png

Source : By Rursus – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7833300

So my thoughts are that it looks like the UK is moving to the point of diminishing returns for NeoLiberalism. The UK economy is already one of the most open in the world with much of the national infrastructure being owned by non-UK businesses.  As the UK goes to negotiate it’s Brexit it’s not starting with a very strong hand.  Negotiations are about give and take, about ‘if you do this, we’ll do that’.  What has the UK got to offer to prospective trading partners?  Thanks to the decades of NeoLiberal economics being followed by successive UK Governments of all colours, the bargaining chips have already been sold.  What can David Davis offer?  If there’s one thing which is critical to the UK it’s the preservation of the ‘Passport’ rights for the financial services sector in London.  What can Davis actually offer up to the EU to preserve this?  Sure the other countries and companies will want to sell their goods into the UK. But at what cost to the UK?   And if the Kondratiev Wave is right, doing all this when we’re about to enter a period of economic downturns isn’t going to make it any easier.
The graph below shows the value of trade flows to/from the UK, Germany and China.  (source Prof Bell, and the ONS)  Germany sells a lot more to us than we do to them.  Germany sells a lot more to China than the UK does. (Must be all the BMW’s, Mercedes and Porches. If only the UK still had a car industry it owned…….. <tongue firmly in cheek> ) The UK sells a lot more to Germany than we do to China.  Our exports to Germany are facilitated by our membership of the single market.  If that changes, if any form of trade barriers emerge post Brexit, it will hurt. Looking on the bright side, maybe we could sell more stuff to China.  Now what do we make that they might want to buy?   Oh I know, we could flog them the rights to build our new nuclear power stations………….

trade flows.JPG

 

 

Sleepwalking to where?

There’s something worrying me about the way the Great Britain is heading.  Scotland is on a different political trajectory from England and the gap is widening.  Northern Ireland is going to be in a the most difficult of all places as/when the Brexit actually happens.  If hard borders are needed on the emerald Isle I’ve not read anything which predicts how this will end up.

It seems that there’s a percentage of the people who are happy to be seen as being “Brengland”.  What’s good for Britain has to be good for England as England is Britain. Right?   Well no, it seems that many parts of Great Britain don’t think this way.  Scotland’s a confusing place for politics. The SNP win almost everything, yet the majority still still seem to be not in favour of independence, the core raison d’etre of the party they vote for most.  Wierd.  There’s a dichotomy there,  how can this party be so successful in Holyrood, Westminster, local authority elections and not yet have an overwhelming mandate for Independence?

Despite pointless stories in the media Scotland isn’t anything like a one party state though  It’s just that the alternatives to the SNP are so dire as to be unvotable (is that a word?)   Wee Ruthie is keeping a low profile as the Tory party gets away with an internal coup d’etat by it’s right wing.  Omnishambles isn’t strong enough to describe the performance of the Tories over the Brexit vote.

And we’re still £1.7 Trillion pound in debt.   That’s a number with 12 zeros in it.  £1,700,000,000,000.00. It’s an incomprehensible amount of money.  Here’s what One billion looks like as a stack of dollar bills (we don’t have £1 notes anymore and I couldn’t find a picture of £1 coins). And we’re at almost double that amount.
1-trillion-dollars.jpg

Think of the debt this way –  a single pound coin weighs 0.095Kg.  So we can get about £10,500 per tonne of £1 coins.  So a Million £££s will weigh about 95 tonnes. That’s about 12 double decker buses.  So a £Billion will be 12,000 buses.  If these buses were all end to end they’d line up for 100 kilometers. And that’s only a £Billion pounds.  A £Trillion is  £1Million x £1Million.  Oh this is getting unimaginable……  But these are the numbers our politicians blithely throw around these days.

Or another way – A million seconds is 12 days. A billion seconds is 31 years. A trillion seconds is 31,688 years. A million minutes ago was – 1 year, 329 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes ago. A billion minutes ago was just after the time of Christ. A trillion seconds ago…. we were neanderthals.  

And the thing is, regardless of how you measure that debt, it’s still going up. Every single day our Goverment is spending more money than it takes in. Oh but we’re using Austerity to reduce the deficit they say.  (deficit = how big the gap is between what the Government gets in and what it spends. Debt = the sum of all the ongoing deficts) Yes, credit perhaps that the Tories are using Austerity to do something.  But it’s not to reduce the countries debts. It’s to channel money from those who pay tax to those who pay to avoid tax.   More on this in another post I think.

Down in England though, the transition to being a one party state is well on track.  The Labour party has disintegrated.  It doesn’t matter whether Jeremy Corbyn is voted as leader again, the disintegration has happened.  Resorting to the courts to decide who is eligible to vote in internal elections is really just the last rites being administered.  There’s no way back for them to being a party of Government.  Which is a desperate shame because what both Westminster and Holyrood are crying out for is effective opposition.  In Scotland the main opposition is provided by the media who relentlessly follow an “SNPBad” storyline.  But in Westminster it is different. The same media give the Tory party a feather bed ride in comparison to the treatment they give to Labour.

So where is this leading us to?  Even though we’re living through the most incompetent Tory Government in living memory 38% of the population voted for them. And they’re about to change the electoral wards.  Advantage Tories.  In fact, it looks like Game, Set and Match to the Tories for a very long time to come.  The Electoral Calculus site has this (grim) prediction for the 2020 elections following the boundary reviews.

electoral calculus.JPG

So stop and think where we’re all heading as the most invasive, right wing Government I’ve ever lived under looks set to consolidate its grip on Westminster.  As their high priestess said “There  is no alternative”.  For Brengland this looks like the truth.  But there is an alternative for Scotland.  We’ve just got to be brave.

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