Mike Vickers' Blog

June 21, 2013

The Real Economy – the next in the RSE series on the Scottish Independence Debate

Filed under: DHI SPIF, economics, Politics, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 5:21 pm

The Real Economy was defined loosely as making things and distributing them.  The seminar was wide ranging though each speaker talked mainly to his pitch although opening up in the discussion.

  1. Brandon Malone – Branding, Public Relations and Promotions would be stronger in an Independent Scotland.  Scotland has suffered under the UK through anti-Europe UK, Iraq and Afghanistan and Scotland has its own quality legal services
  2. Stephen Boyd – Labour market has not been much discussed in the Independence debate other than on pensions.  Scotland has a good labour position though there is a rise in self-employment and high youth unemployment.  He favours a move to a social partnership between the Government, management and labour.  He welcomed the Heseltine review of some months ago.
  3. Gordon Hughes talked only about energy. Energy contributes 15 – 20% to GDP in Scotland but utilises only 2% of the jobs.  Highly dependent on external investment and volatility of the oil prices. Investing in energy is a mixed blessing – drives up labour costs and prices us out of manufacturing (witness the total absence of car manufacturing in Australia).    Norway has the state owned StatOil  – Scotland doesn’t. Critical to balance spending oil revenues as in past and putting it into a sovereign fund – may be too late to start – no point in crying over the past.  Avoid the ‘Dutch Disease’.  Don’t expect a cosy relationship with rUK in energy – England will buy where it’s cheapest – French nuclear rather than Scottish wind!
  4. Jeremy Peat – Competition and Regulation – after Independence, regulation could be shared as much in common eg Electricity but Scotland has its own unique opportunities, Comms and Transport.  Possibly centralised Regulation a la the Dutch.  Good people are key
  5. In the discussion – Scotland needs to be open and globalised – a small country can’t act otherwise – difficult to compete with London as the centre of the world.  Freedom of choice much less than politicians make out. Received wisdom that equality makes for better work force.  Small countries need to buffer the shocks – requires flexibility.  There needs to be certainty in regulation – tight fiscal and monetary regime.  Scotland great at creating intellectual capital but rubbish at applying it.
  6. Real people in Real Jobs

June 9, 2013

More on an Independent Scotland’s Defence

Filed under: Europe, Politics, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 8:18 pm

Following on from my blog of Enlightening the Constitutional Debate – No 3 Defence and international Relations there was an interesting article in Friday 7 June Scotsman by Prof Hew Strachan


which is in some measure in agreement with the general views expressed in the  Conversation but there are one or two different nuances

  1. An independent Scotland will need the shelter of NATO as the armed forces it is likely to afford is 15,000
  2. If an independent Scotland is in NATO it will, whether it likes it or not, benefit from being a member of a nuclear alliance
  3. Scotland’s defence  shouldn’t view itself as a cut down version of the UK’s defence forces; but how it can further the common weal – by which I understand the global common weal  eg sending troops to the hot spots as directed by the UN
  4. Bearing in mind Scotland’s enormous coast line and its 800 islands Scotland should focus on air-maritime defence, this aligns with shipbuilding on the Clyde;  and why not drones for air surveillance
  5. I love the bit where Strachan comments on the SNP’s desire to bring fresh life into the old Scottish Regiments, the Seaforths, the Gordons and the Camerons, all created during the Union
  6. But more seriously Strachan reminds us of Norway where conscription remains its embodiment of its national defence.  However I note from Wiki that in 2012, 63,000 were caaled but only 9,300 were chosen (there is a biblical touch here), and even so Norway has the highest defence cost per capita of any European county – US$6.2 pa.
  7. If conscription is too much for the Scots to stomach then why not rely on reservists.  Bring back the old Clan system!


June 2, 2013

A couple of thoughts on climbing Beinn na Lap

Filed under: Uncategorized — derryvickers @ 8:49 pm
Beinn na Lap

Beinn na Lap

Beinn na Lap is a relatively easy Munro at 935 metres and you start at 419 metres at Loch Ossian right in the middle of the Central Highland.  There are no public roads to Loch Ossian and is easiest accessed by train to Corrour Station on the West Highland line from Glasgow or if you prefer from London via the Fort William sleeper.


But to the thoughts.  We talk of macro and micro.  Macro is reaching the summit of Beinn na Lap, Micro is taking care where you put your feet – too easy to trip over a rock or sinking into a sphagnum covered bog pool.  But as in the world of economics where micro and macro are often talked of, what about the midi; the midi is how you approach the summit, to take the line of least energy, to avoid the crags that are difficult to climb and burns not easy to cross and keep your feet dry.  Interestingly descending the mountain can be just as difficult, often there are high crags to impede the decent (crags are much easier to scale than to descend), and without a compass you can find yourself miles from where you wish to be.

So it seems to me that the micro and the macro are relevant views but the midi is at least as important.

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