The Long Waves

I’ll admit to being very influenced at the moment by this book :-  Postcapitalism – A Guide To Our Future written by Paul Mason.   (you could buy a copy from Amazon.  It’s a good read, albeit with detailed and sometimes heavy economic theory.)

paul-mason-interview-postcapitalism-845-body-image-1440497411-size_1000

This post isn’t a review of the book, just to highlight one of the topics Paul Mason develops in it.  It’s something I wrote about a wee while ago – the theory of ‘Long Waves’ in economic cycles and that we’re always following such cycles.  Kondratief Waves Sometimes spelled with a ‘v’ as Kondratiev.   You can read about them on Wikipedia if you want more background.   Suffice to say, there’s a compelling case that they do exist.  Maybe the famous economists are bending a theory to suit their own biases?  I don’t know, but I’m persuaded that there are cycles beyond the things we see and experience in our day to day lives.

Suffice to say, the theory goes that there are peaks and troughs in the cycles.  The peaks are times when the economy is growing and things are booming. This is driven by technological cycles.   But today a friend on Facebook linked to an article over in the Huffington Post about long cycles in history and sociology and events outside the technology area I worked in and kind of understand.   And yes, it’s all about what’s happening now with Brexit and the (perhaps not so) astonishing success of President -elect Trump.  You can read it here.  It struck me that the cycles the writer refers to aren’t that different from the technology cycles I’m thinking about as part of a Kondratieff waves.  Maybe there’s something in this theory.    IF it’s right then we’re about to enter a period of decline.  With the UK voting for an unspecified future of Brexit, with the US electing an isolationist President, with global climate problems and weather extremes getting more common,  who’s to say this theory is wrong?

Thinking about this a little more, I’m 56 so for pretty much all of my adult life I’ve been in an economy dominated by neo-liberal philosophies.  So these philosophies have now been in play for about 40 years.  And as a society we’re now seeing great upheavals.  Is this just the natural cycle of events playing out?   The inevitable decline of one philosophy to be replaced by another?   What’s next?   Hmmmmm…….

 

 

 

 

Just so that I don’t lose this one…..

This is just so that I don’t lose this post which a friend put on Facebook.  It’s a brammer!

” Unionists should hold their heads in shame. Scotland’s economy has suffered this last 2 years due to the drop in OIL price, but they conveniently forget that same OIL has propped up the UK economy for the last 40 years. Scotland gets no thanks for that, we are just told we would become a basket case out with Westminster Rule, they conveniently forget Scotland asked for an OIL fund decades ago and this was refused, wonder what our deficit would be if they had said YES perhaps more like Norway who has no deficit and the largest savings in the world of almost 1 trillion. They completely ignore if Scotland is in a mess it’s because the regime they support has failed Scotland, yet they want more of the same.

The media rarely mention that the UK for the last 40 years has had a deficit and debt, that debt now sits at 1.7 trillion. Scotland was in surplus for 38 of those 40 years.

Scotland has no deficit as we have no borrowing powers, our false deficit comes from the UK borrowing on our behalf, however, let’s look at that false deficit.

1) We didn’t create it.

2) The total worth of the UK assets are approx £8.8 trillion!! We own 8.3% of this! DEFICIT GONE.

3) Scotland contributes to London projects like:
CROSSRAIL, LONDON – £18 BILLION
OLYMPICS, LONDON – £8 BILLION
REFURBISHMENT OF UNDERGROUND, LONDON – £16 BILLION
NEW AIRPORT/3RD RUNWAY, LONDON (god knows how many billion)
NEW SEWAGE TUNNEL, LONDON – £16 BILLION
REFURBISHMENT ST PANCRAS STATION, LONDON – £1 BILLION
HS2 RAIL LINK, LONDON TO BIRMINGHAM – 50 BILLION
and many more future projects like Westminster renovations etc

TOTAL COST £109 BILLION PLUS our share 8.3% DEFICIT GONE.

Scotland and England have been in the Union for 308 years, Westminster has had full control of Scotland’s economy for 289 of those years. When Scotland was given her own parliament 17 years ago it had 6% devolved power, numerous years later this increased to 15% by the year 2017 we will have approx 25% if Scotland is in a mess that blame lies squarely at Westminster’s door.

Scotland is a country with an embarrassment of economic advantages that any small to medium-sized independent country would give their left arm for.

Just look at similar-sized populations to Scotland

Norway owns half the OIL in the North Sea, 30% of their GDP is reliant on OIL when the OIL crashed our GDP dropped by 1% of course they have an OIL fund that Westminster refused for Scotland.

Denmark would love to have a national drink that generated £120 of exports per second.
38 bottles were shipped overseas each second.
99 million cases (12 70cl bottles at 40% vol) were exported worldwide.
Laid end to end they would stretch about 30,000kms – or about six times the distance between Edinburgh and New York.
More than 10,000 are directly employed in the Scotch Whisky industry – many in economically deprived areas.
Over 40,000 jobs across the UK are supported by the industry.
Scotch Whisky accounts for around a quarter of UK food and drink exports.
Scotch Whisky is sold in around 200 markets worldwide.
Scotch Whisky sells three times its nearest rival whisky.
Drinkers in the UK often choose to enjoy it with just a little water, but in Spain, they mix it with cola. In Japan Scotch is enjoyed with lots of water and ice, and in China with cold green tea.
More Scotch is sold in one month in France than Cognac in a year.

Belgium would love to have such a tourist attraction as the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival attracting 500,000 visitors and adding £261m to Scotland’s economy, never mind the beauty of wild Scotland or golf tourism.

Ireland would kill to have Scotland’s online gaming industry which has grown over 600 percent – GTA the world’s best-selling game is made in Scotland and industry experts claim the gaming sector could grow to be worth more to Scottish economy than oil ever was.

Sweden would like to match Scotland educationally, Scotland according to the ONS states Scots are the most educated in Europe, we have 45% who have experienced university degrees and further education, Luxembourg, Finland and Ireland all fight for 2nd place with 40%

Not forgetting we have 16% of world acclaimed Universities and they’re Free

Finland must be massively envious that Scotland possesses 25 percent of the EU’s entire tidal and wave energy potential, a source of energy that doesn’t pollute and won’t run out.

Scotland is rich in resources like Whisky, Renewables, Tourism, Financial Services, Food and Drink, Fishing, IT. Farming, Manufacturing, Creative Industries, Construction, Global Transport, Engineering, Medical Research, Oil and Gas.

Scotland represents just 8.3% of the UK population. Remember that number 8.3%
We have the following share of UK resources –
32% Land area
61% Sea area
90% Surface freshwater
65% North Sea natural gas production
96.5% North Sea crude oil production
47% Open cast coal production
81% Coal reserves at sites not yet in production
62% Timber production (green tonnes)
46% Total forest area (hectares)
92% Hydroelectric production
40% Wind, wave, solar production
60% Fish Landings (total by Scottish vessels)
55% Fish Landings (total from Scottish waters)
30% Beef herd (breeding stock)
20% Sheep herd (breeding flock)
9% Dairy herd
10% Pig herd
15% Cereal holdings (hectares)
20% potato holdings (hectares)
All with 8.3% of the population!

We also have a…
17 billion pound construction industry
13 billion food and drink industry
10 billion business services industry
9.3 billion chemical services industry
A 9.3 billion tourism industry
7 billion financial services industry
5 billion aero service industry
4.5 billion pound whisky exports industry
3.1 billion pound life sciences industry
Scotland still has 350 million pounds worth of textile exports
Gold– one working mine in production last month. Second mine or gold field, found by Aberdeen University, This field has been extended to 200 square miles in Aberdeenshire

There are very few countries in the WORLD that rival Scotland’s resources per head and in such rich diversity. We absolutely, unequivocally can be an extremely successful independent country.”  

 

and breathe………   🙂

 

It’s all about the GERS

but nothing whatsoever to do with a Glasgow football team.

GERS   (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) bothers me as I’m not sure I’ve yet found an authoritive analysis of what they actually tell us about the state of the Scotland’s economy.  (A thought just occurs, is there an equivalent GERE for England’s economy?  That would make an interesting set of comparisons if such figures exist)

Anyway, this post is about GERS and it’s likely to leave you as confused as I am……..  Comments welcomed!!

So to GERS.  GERS is compiled by statisticians and economists in the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser of the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government’s Chief Statistician takes responsibility for this publication. But, and it’s a might big but,  the key word here is “compiled”.  The source or raw data is supplied to The Scottish Government by  departments of the UK Government.  Such departments being HMRC, ONS and others.

So there’s a first reason why independence supporting people might be suspicious of the GERS accuracy.

Here’s something else interesting from the Scottish Government website
“Historical estimates of Scotland’s public sector finances consistent with GERS published in March 2015 are not available.  This is because detailed UK revenue and expenditure on an ESA10 basis have not been produced by the ONS.  Previous versions of historical estimates are available for user reference below.  Caution should be used when drawing conclusions from these estimates.”

So is this another reason for questioning the reality of the GERS figures?

A common cry on social media is “What about the Whisky Taxes?”  Well sorry to break what might be bad news to some, but the tax on whisky is consumption based.  That is, you and I pay it when we buy the stuff.  Sure the whisky industry is an exporter from Scotland, but the value of that would only show up in Scotland’s balance of payments figures.  Currently they make a much needed contribution to the UK balance of payments figures.  Oh, and most of the whisky is owned by multinationals, eg Diageo.   They could do clever accounting tricks if they desired to.

Below, is a table taken directly from the Scottish Government website.   I’m not looking at any of the individual lines or entries. I’m more interested in the  number of times the word “estimates” shows up.   Is this yet another reason to be cautious before accepting the GERS figures as gospel truth?

Q: What is the GERS estimate of Scottish revenue for HMRC tax categories?

A: The table below provides the GERS revenue estimates for the years 2009-10 to 2013-14, under the categories used by HMRC.  A description of how the HMRC categories match the GERS categories is provided if they are different.

There are a number of differences between the GERS and HMRC estimates, including:

  • HMRC receipts are on a cash basis; GERS receipts are on an accruals basis;
  • HMRC includes estimates for Customs Duties.  These are collected by HMRC on behalf of the EU.  They are not included in GERS revenue estimates.
  • HMRC estimate Scotland’s geographical share of offshore corporation tax and petroleum revenue tax (PRT) separately.  The GERS figures are based on Scotland’s share of total North Sea revenue, with this single estimate share applied to both offshore corporation tax and PRT.  The individual GERS estimates of corporation tax and PRT are therefore less meaningful.

GERS revenues by HMRC category (£m)

2010-11
2011-12
2012-13
2013-14
2014-15
Notes on presentation on GERS
Total HMRC receipts excluding customs duties (Geographic)
41,638
44,995
41,584
42,061
41,689
Total HMRC receipts excluding customs duties (Population)
35,638
37,254
37,387
38,911
40,323
Income Tax
11,012
11,127
11,022
11,277
11,735
Capital Gains Tax
201
277
321
240
293
NICs
7,968
8,270
8,501
8,730
8,969
VAT
7,306
8,215
8,456
9,141
9,512
Net VAT receipts only, part of VAT
Corporation Tax (Onshore)
2,598
2,424
2,551
2,566
2,920
Corporation Tax (Offshore – Geographic)
5,524
7,031
3,377
2,681
1,489
Part of North Sea revenue (geographical share)
Corporation Tax (Offshore – Population)
575
739
366
295
172
Part of North Sea revenue (population share)
Bank Levy
0
120
110
180
221
Part of other taxes, royalties, and adjustments
Bank payroll tax
124
0
0
0
0
Part of other taxes on income and wealth
Petroleum Revenue Tax (Geographic)
1,173
1,620
1,331
857
55
Part of North Sea revenue (geographical share)
Petroleum Revenue Tax (Population)
122
170
145
93
6
Part of North Sea revenue (population share)
Fuel duties
2,304
2,259
2,240
2,271
2,294
IHT
175
170
175
210
229
Shares
243
236
181
268
252
Part of stamp duties
Stamp Duty Land Tax
334
275
283
389
478
Part of stamp duties
Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings
0
0
0
4
5
Part of stamp duties
Tobacco duties
1,058
1,208
1,278
1,242
1,211
Spirits duties
341
369
369
373
373
Part of alcohol duties
Beer duties
281
255
226
222
224
Part of alcohol duties
Wines duties
267
314
322
350
346
Part of alcohol duties
Cider duties
24
30
28
26
19
Part of alcohol duties
Betting & Gaming
98
122
122
173
185
Air Passenger Duty
185
228
243
273
309
Insurance Premium Tax
174
204
202
211
206
Landfill Tax
129
131
139
150
147
Climate Change Levy
61
63
61
117
163
Aggregates Levy
55
48
43
43
54
Swiss Capital Tax
0
0
0
63
0
Part of other taxes on income and wealth
Misc
0
0
0
0
0
Customs Duties
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
Tax Credits Net Payments
2,211
2,238
2,219
2,160
2,096
Child Benefit Net Payments
924
930
921
862
863

What’s in the GERS

Allocations of ‘Scotland’s Share’ of UK wide expenditure.  Contentiousness starts here.  Who decides what is ‘Scotland’s Share’ and on what basis?   What’s ‘in’ and what’s ‘out’?  Ah, that’ll be the UK Government departments who provide the data to the Scottish Government.

What’s not in the GERS

As these are figures which reflect the existing status of Scotland within the UK, and continuing to be so, then they by definition cannot be foreasting or including anything an independent Scotland might do. GERS does not show anything like:

  •  an allocation to Scotland of VAT  arising from economic activity in Scotland
  • an allocation to Scotland of Corporation Tax from business’s headquarted in Scotland
  • Military expenditure, old-age pensions and benefits for a future iScotland (These are set by Westminster, with no input from the devolved administrations and a share of costs is allocated)
  • any accounting for anything which could reasonably be interetpreted as an asset

 

Summary

So, congratulations if you’ve made it this far.   We know that GERS are confusing statistical figures with perhaps limited accuracy built usp from a whole heap of assumptions. And yet the MainStream Media loves them and treats them as though they were carbonite solid  bey-your-grannies-house-on-them types of figures.

They are all we’ve got and if they’re showing something negative we need to work away at that. We also need to seriously hassle the Scottish Government to measure and produce better statistics.

Other people’s views on GERS

Wings Over Scotland  :  http://wingsoverscotland.com/the-limitations-of-gers/

John McLaren at Scottish Trends : http://scottishtrends.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Analysis-of-GERS-2016.pdf

Margaret Cuthbert : https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/9162/margaret-cuthbert-what-gers-and-brexit-reports-tell-us-about-scotlands-economy

Democracy – or not.

I’ve written a little in a previous post about the electoral reforms being pushed through Parliament by the Tory Party.  (here)    Time to just update this with a few more thoughts on the actions of the Tory Party.

The plans, for what they are, are to reduce the number of constituencies to 600.  This is being done in the name of “improving democracy”.  But is it?

Since about 2010, David Cameron  (the worst Prime Minister in UK history) created more than 236 new Peers to sit in the House of Lords.   So, we have a Tory Party saying we need to reduce the number of MPs in the name of democracy, but we’ll stuff the House of Lords full of far more people than the number of MPs we’ll reduce.  Here’s an interesting, although 12 months old, article on this subject written by John Humpreys.

Is this democracy in action?  Or is it gerrymandering and corrupt practices?  It’s your call.

The Tory party won an absolute majority in the UK election in 2015 with 36.9% of the votes cast. So 64.1% of the UK voting public did not vote for them.  Well that’s the vagaries of the UK’s ‘First Past The Post’ voting system for you.  As the table below shows, FPTP really doesn’t do a very good job of representing  how the public voted.  The case in oint has to be the difference between the Tories and UKIP.  The Tories received 34,244 votes per seat and UKIP received 3,881,129 votes per seat!

electoral.JPG

So what would the UK parliament look like if the parties got the numer of seats pro-rata the number of votes which were given to them?

Number of Seats
Share of vote Proportionate Actual change
Tory 36.8% 239 331 -92
Labour 30.4% 198 232 -34
UKIP 12.6% 82 1 81
Lib Dem 7.9% 51 8 43
SNP 4.7% 31 56 -25
Green 3.8% 25 1 24
DUP 0.6% 4 8 -4
Plaid Cymru 0.6% 4 3 1
Sinn Feinn 0.6% 4 4 -0
Ulster Unionist 0.6% 4 2 2
SDLP 0.6% 4 3 1
Total non-Tory 406 318
Tory Majority -166 13

 

So, just how democratic is the UK?   Especially in the light of the change being proposed by the Tories?    And don’t forget the potential Election Fraud…….  

 

Thinking about apples

Apple – a model for the future?

Apple has become one of the most valuable companies on the planet through the rise of it’s music business.  Yet it started as a business making boxes.  Although many have praised Apple  (rightly so) I’ve got a nagging doubt about the way Apple  (and businesses like Spotify) are being valued.  They are after all, just shops.  Apple’s success has been built on it’s ecosystem of Macbook > iPod > iTunes > iPhone.  Now this is fine and makes sense in a normal business model.  But Apple’s model is built on it’s control of the vast library of music. And this is the bit which is an anomaly for me.  Apple’s success can only exist because it has not been involved in any way in the costs of creation of the music it now (almost) monopolises. (OK no shops have direct links into the products they sell – but they pay a rate for the products which suits the manufacturers of the products.  I’m not sure that Apple does this.)  It’s almost the ultimate marketing dream machine, but it make no product.  How many man-hours of musicians,  producers, writers, lyricists,studio time, etc, etc have gone in to creating the music library which is Apple’s key asset?   Classical economic theory about the price of goods says the price should reflect the labour used to create the item.  It seems to me that Apple’s business model doesn’t do this.  Maybe this was Steve Job’s biggest stroke of genius?  Spotify and others are similar.  Without all the millions and millions of pounds and dolars spent making the music/product they’d have no business.

So I wondered – in the digital economy, can this be replicated?  Maybe perhaps in other niches. Scotland has a business which is a world leader in the digitisation of ancestry archives.  This is following a similar model to Apple/Spotify.  Making available something people will want to access in a digital format without having to bear all the costs of the manufacturing the product in the first place. It’s smart, it’s profitable.  What other niches exist?  Apply to me on the back of a postcard please.  I’ll go halfers on the profits with you.

The Political Post-Factual Era

A short post – it’s been hanging around in my ‘drafts’ for a week or so, so publish and be damned.

All through history we’ve lived in different eras.  The mesapotamic era, the steam era, the industrial era,   the information-era, etc.   I wonder what description historians will apply to the era we’re living through now?    The Political-Post-Factual-Era  is where we are. Suggestions on a post card please for a better name for this.

I’m not sure how it’s come to pass, but we’re in a world where facts and politicians are rarely something that go together. It’s not happened overnight, it’s been a long term change. The gap between facts and politicians has been growing for some time, but now it seems  that if you’re a politician you can say anything you damn well please and know that there will be no consequences for you.  No-one will hold you to account nor will anyone be allowed to challenge you.  Just think of “£350M/week for the NHS” or “Taking Back Control” – two recent phrases used by politicians which never ever had any factual basis.  Yet the politicians know they have no personal consequences   (Google for Alistair Carmichael and how he got taken to court by his constituents, found guilty of lying,  yet is still today a Member of Parliament).And that’s before we remember Blair & Campbell’s Dodgy Dossier which has cause so much devastation to the Middle East  and beyond with the rise of ISIS). And Trump in the USA?  Is there anything factual about his campaign?    How have we got to this point?

Is it because the news media very rarely challenge the statements put out by MPs?  We have 24 hour News channels, a ‘machine’ that demands to be fed.   Yet this ‘machine’ just regurgitates the stories the politicians feed to it.  The machine makes very little effort to report a story and to verify its factual content.  Newspapers scream sensational headlines one day then forget the story within 24 hours.   Stories breaking on Twitter can be more accurate than the BBC.  Twitter tends to have a built-in fact checking mechanism of other twitter users who can reply directly to a wrong statement and thus point out the factual errors.

When did you last hear a BBC News presenter interview a politician and say “Hang on a minute, what you have just said is patently untrue.  I cannot continue this interview until you correct yourself” and then stick to that line  (memories of Paxman asking the same question of Michael Howard repeatedly)   When did you last see a newspaper headline calling out a press release from a Government agency for being devoid of facts?

 

 

Falling apart at the seams.

There’s a bad smell hanging over Westminster, the still rotting odour caused by the collapse in anything like competence being shown by both the Labour and the Tory parties. While Labour are gaining members at an astonishing rate, almost taking in as many new members in a weekend as the total number of members of each of the  next two parties. (SNP and Tories)  this is because of their civil-war.  Tories, although  riding the crest of the new PM wave, have a heap of problems being stored up. However they have the Media, aka air-cover for Tories, helping them out by not actually asking any awkward questions and not publishing anything the Tories don’t want us to see.  Although the Tories are presenting themselves as reunified it still seems that the whole edifice of British democracy is on the brink of falling apart at the seams.

Tories

Although their world looks rosy, there’s more than a few storms coming for them.  And they’ve still got to cover up   explain their Election Expenses.  29 Police Forces were investigating this before the Brexit vote.  It’s all gone far too quiet on this, partly because the Tories have their air-cover deployed on bombing runs over Jeremy Corbyn  and the standing target of the SNP.  PM May might find her honeymoon period becoming very short when Parliament goes on holiday recess and the only thing all the people who voted “Leave” find is how much more their holidays cost.  How will this play out do you think?  MPs running away from the heat which the public are starting to feel.  Oh, and then there’s Boris.  Bumbling around the world.  This can’t end well for the UK, never mind the Tories. Pretty much everyone (IMF) is downgrading their forecasts for the UK economy over the next year. How on earth they can do any credible forecast when the Tories haven’t got a plan for the economy beats me.  Oh, and the Teachers are striking. And the NHS Junior Doctors aren’t likely to be happy about  their new forced contracts. And 3 million EU citizens who have made their homes here don’t know if they’ll be allowed to stay (unless they’re earning more than £35,000 pa)

Labour

Where to begin?   When the Tories were being totally incompetent and trashing the countries short terms economic prospects, Labour decided to ignore that and have a civil war of their own. And it’s not over yet by any means.  So they’re useless as an opposition  (plus ca change…..)  while the Tories are getting away with, well, anything they want to.

My predication – Jeremy Corbyn will again win the public vote with a massive majority.  The MPs will refuse to recognise this. Labour will split. There’s no credible way back to join the PLP with the  Membership Labour Party (MLP).

 

 

Ireland

This is the doosie of a problem which no-one in the UK Government, aka The Tories, are yet talking about. How do you have one part of that island in the EU and the other part out?  The Good Friday Agreement, which has brought a decent amount of peace to the island realies on there being an open border.  What’s the plan for this one?  What’s  the timeline?   The Taoiseach of Southern Ireland has called for the EU to prepare for border poll in Ireland to see the two parts reunited.  he even likened it to East and West Germany.  So how does that affect the “United” Kingdom?

Scotland

Where to begin too?   Nicola Sturgeon is playing a long game, exhausting all the other options before going to the country  saying Independence is the only way to ensure  Scotland stays in the EU.  By then PM May will be having to deal with the problems outlined above.  As time goes by the impact of the Brexit vote will start to work through the UK economy and the Scottish economy.  If, as seems highly likely, this creates further uncertainty, it kind of plays into the SNPs hands in terms of another Independence Referendum.   If things are failing in the wider economy because of decisions taken in Westminster – well, it’s hard to defend the competency of that house. So it’s game on for another Indy Ref.  My prediction – sometime next year.

Scotland wants to remain in the EU, England’s going out.  It’s a very DisUnited Kingdom.

The EU

Although neither our UK Goverment nor it’s air-support media seems to have noticed, when you have a negotiation it means the party you are negotiating with have a say in what the outcomes will be.  We’ve got a Minister for Exit who is making all sorts of claims about what the UK will get.  Maybe, just maybe it won’t be that easy.  Maybe, just maybe the EU side of the negotiations won’t roll over and concede everything which the UK wants. There are 27 Nations to satisfy on the other side of the table.  how can we be so sure they’ll all give in to Britain’s demands without seeking a very real quid pro quo?   What have we got that we could bargain with anyway?    (more on this some other time)

The EU has its own problems with the continuing financial fiascos in Italy causing serious worry.  Greece is still a can being kicked down the road as there’s no chance of that country ever being able to repay the debt that’s been piled on it. So the EU is most cetainly not the land of milk and honey.

 

Bottom Line

There are soooo many things, soooo many storms approaching the UK Government that it’s hard to see  how they can avoid crashing and burning on some of them. Teachers, Doctors have to be solved  – both sets of people who have decent amounts of public support.

What does the UK want?  It seems that Scotland and Ireland want something completely different from England.  It’s hard to see how that can be resolved without seriously compromising someone’s desires.

Is there actually a coherent plan from the UK Government?   Theresa May made some bold statements when she got the top job, her chancellor hasn’t said much at all.  So are we still on with the Cam/Osbo Austerity policies?  It seems very much like now that the Tories have settled their internal party civil wars they’ve kind of forgotten about actually governing.  The lack of any opposition and the continuing air-cover they have means no-one is really challenging them. Which isn’t good.

Not a very conclusive post.  Sorry…….

We are where we are….

Health Warning… this could get lengthy and it comes from a very Scottish viewpoint.   (Other regions may share similar experiences/viewpoints) This is big picture, helicopter views.
 
I grew up in a country where there were jobs, not zero hours jobs, real jobs. The west of Scotland still built ships, cars and made steel. We excavated coal. We had the SSEB and the Hydro (not the concert venue, the North of Scotland Hydro Electricity Board to give it it’s full title) It didn’t mean much to me back then really, but people worked. I guess the economy was OK back then too. (I’m 55 this year). During my working life almost all the “traditional industries” in Scotland have gone. What have they been replaced by? What has given jobs to the people who live in places where there used to be almost full employment? Not much. Silicon Glen rose and fell. (IBM, NEC, SCI, Hyundai, ChungWha, Motorola and others all passed through Scotland). Listen again to the words of “Letter From America” if you will. All the towns named in that song still exist, people still live in them, but the jobs aren’t there anymore.
 
Where I live we used to have the world HQ of a respected insurance firm, the HQ of “the Hydro” and HQ’s of whisky businesses. So we had white collar jobs helping to keep the local economy afloat. The largest employer locally now is the local authority. The HQ’s have gone, taking the exec grades and decision making with them.
 
So what hapened? We know the world seriously changed, previously 3rd world countries in the far east rising to build ships, steel, technology, etc. Computers, networks, the internet have all come along and changed things beyond our imagining.
 
In the midst of it all we seem to have become fixated on the short term. Maybe it’s down to Government and election cycles of 4 years (6 months off at each and as they get into and out of electioneering gears). It would be interesting to see an analysis of this. Movement of the Footsie being tracked and reported constantly. (What percentage of the population really care whether the Footsie rose or fell by 5 points over a day? I get that it matters oh so much to The City which can make or lose millions on tiny variations for even a short time, but is that so important that it’s reported on in most news programmes? Rhetorical question)
 
During the decades when all the traditional industries died, what was done to “prime the pump” to create the next wave of businesses? What did the Governments of the days really do? There’s not much evidence that they did anything which has had long term positive impact. For the last 30 years or so we’ve been steadily selling off the family silver to balance our national books. But that cupboard is getting increasingly bare. And with no Government level vision to drive long term future improvements to the country. Oh yeah, and there’s that black sludge that comes out of the ground. That helped keep the books in some sort of order while no investment or vision was being demonstrated to replace the lost industries and jobs.
 
Remember the Hydro? Tom Johnstone, the man who had the vision and made that into reality was a government employee. Where’s his equivalent today? The CEGB wasn’t buit by a private company either. They were long term Government plans. To make the country a better place.
 
So we’ve got a quandry now. Private companies don’t do (generally) really long term stuff. They don’t build railways from scratch. (The longest stretch of new railway in the UK has recently been built by the Scottish Government). They don’t build country wide distribution networks. They don’t really get things like “universal service obligations” for rural areas.
 
So don’t say please, that Governments and the state don’t have a place in creating long term high value jobs. It must have. What’s your alternative?