Mike Vickers' Blog

November 10, 2016

The UK and Scotland post Brexit

Filed under: Brexit, DHI SPIF, Europe, Ireland, Politics, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 8:23 pm

A seminar given by Lord Gus O’Donnell to the David Hume institute on Tuesday 8th November and chaired by Charlie Wood.

Just in case you didn’t know Gus O’Donnell was Cabinet Secretary to the Westminster Parliament from 2005 t0 2011 covering three Prime Ministers, Blair, Brown and Cameron.

O’Donnell spoke at a rate of knots and assumed we all know Westminstereese; which I for one don’t!

That said the points I did capture were:

  1. David Hume’s much quoted ‘Reason is the slave of the Passions’
  2. Cameron made a big mistake on launching the Referendum
  3. Take Hard Brexit with a pinch of salt
  4. Migration problems are all over Europe – it is / will be a massive matter
  5. The UK will not adapt the Norwegian Solution to interfacing with the EU: it will be bespoke and will cost.
  6. Very little progress will be made during 2017; There will be Transitional Arrangements to cover the negotiation gap
  7. The funding gap left by the absence of UK revenue contribution will need to be made good by the remaining 27 members; they are not happy
  8. It will be difficulty for Teresa May to ensure Cabinet Collective Responsibility; it has already failed with Heathrow
  9. Effects of Brexit
    1. The Paris Climate Change agreement is in danger
  10. Limiting Migration into UK
    1. There is a Global shortage of skilled labour
    2. Canada is already enticing Finance Professionals from London
  11. The Single Market is essential
    1. Accommodation to maintain
  12. Productive in UK stopped in 2008
    1. Scotland is 2% to 5% lower than rUK
    2. 5% down on Assets
  13. Scotland will have 40% more control over the levers
    1. ½ Scottish revenue to be raised locally
  14. Sturgeon’s 5 tests
    1. O’D has a good opinion of Sturgeon
  15. Independent Scotland: O’D stated that in his experience from Canada and Quebec, independence is going away as older people die
  16. The terms of trade will not change for the UK after Brexit. They will be the same with the WTO – GATT rules will prevail
    1. The UK will not be able to pick and choose eg no separate agreement for Cars eg Nissan or for Finance
  17. The EU rules of the Single Market go way beyond CETA
  18. To trade in the EU after Brexit the UK will still have to follow the EU acquis
    1. The Great Repeal Bill will be no more that the UK importing the EU acquis into UK Law
    2. Regulation will not disappear; merely EU Regulation repatriated
  19. The UK government will be fully involved in the Brexit follow up to the detriment of Health, Education, and Public Services.
  20. The UK financial position distorted by Quantitative Easing: Deficit still too large, Rich people favoured. Need for special taxation
  21. Fundamental Alternatives are required. The Treasury has a host of plans but they will be ignored by the Westminster Government
  22. Article 50 is not neutral, it favours the rest of the EU
    1. It will be like 27 people playing one person in a game of chess
    2. The rEU very upset with the UK
    3. The trade-offs will be difficult to achieve
  23. It would have been better to trigger Article 50 this Autumn
  24. Vote Leave correlated with Inequality
  25. Brexit very different for Ireland and for Scotland. There must be Public Debate
    1. Agriculture is a nightmare
    2. Finances not easy
    3. Fisheries
    4. Energy easier and should be targeted
  26. Devolution while grudgingly given proved a useful experiment
    1. Westminster incredibly centralised
  27. Sturgeon is right on migration
  28. In response to Jeremy Peat, O’D agreed that Social Media could be the death o0f Rational Decision making. Democracy is in peril
  29. The Westminster Parliament has accepted Robots for manufacturing but has failed so far to considered for office working
  30. Gus O’Donnell’s family moved from Ireland in 1852 and he is going back for a visit.
    1. He cares enormously as to what happens in Ireland
    2. He praises the work done by Blair
    3. A disaster if border reintroduced following Brexit
    4. But believes a solution will be found.

September 28, 2016

Scotland and Brexit – a conference

Filed under: Brexit, DHI SPIF, Europe, Politics, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 6:56 pm

Scotland and Brexit

A conference organised by the Centre for Constitutional Change – 19 September 2016.

The Conference was divided into four sessions:

  • Panel of MSPs from the Scottish Government’s European and External Relations Committee
  • Academic Panel: What does ‘Brexit means Brexit’ actually mean
  • Academic Panel: Brexit, devolution and Scotland’s Constitutional Future
  • Meetings message to the European and External Relations Committee.

The conference was chaired by Henry McLeish

The Panel of MSPs were Joan McAlpine (committee convenor), Lewis MacDonald, Jackson Carlaw, Ross Greer and Tavish Scott.

JMcA frankly admitted that the Committee were unclear as to the role that Scotland has in the Brexit negotiations. Scotland needs to target a different relationship that would maximise the benefit to Scotland but how.  As to the arrangement of the UK to the external world, the WTO may be at least the short term option.

All agreed that the maintaining the Single Market should be a priority but, other than JC, they expressed the view that the UK still didn’t appear to have yet any Brexit strategy.

RG stressed that freedom of movement is economic rather than political. He believes that it is time to get young people involved.

TS made the point that the UK Government was shaken to the core by Brexit. He pointed out that there is a lot happening in Europe over the next couple of years that have nothing to do with the UK and Brexit: Elections in Austria, Hungary, Germany; nevertheless Brexit will have bad economic consequences for both the UK and Scotland.

In questions, members of the Committee felt that Brexit negotiations would still be going on well into 2019; all agreed that ‘it was all going to be very messy’ but the ‘Single Market’ may be some sort of a red line. The obvious question came up as to whether there would be a 2nd Indy referendum by then but the Panel gave no clear answer other than the general feeling that a 2nd Indy referendum is ‘on the back burner’.

The Academic panel: What does ‘Brexit means Brexit’ actually mean were Laura Cram, David Bell, Christina Boswell and Michael Keating.

LC felt that we are in turbulent times and everything is up for grabs so let’s make the best of it and be creative. She saw the EU, now 27 members, in Bratislava as symbolic: see the Bratislava Declaration and Road Map.

DB equates the Single Market with Free movement – this is an impasse but he noted that there are lots of different positions in Europe. He was critical of the Norwegian situation as ‘uncomfortable’, the EU is unhappy with Switzerland and Canada (along with its Quebec aspect) is too different for a UK solution. He sees the devil in the detail: specific items like steel, public procurement, customs, rules for business support and how to resolve disputes. He is not keen on TTIP as it is in his view, undemocratic.

CB concentrated on immigration a ‘7 year stop’ might be proposed but unlikely to be political acceptable. In any case if the UK leaves the Single Market it is unlikely to halt immigration at least for business reasons. So far targets for non-EU states have failed. The only way to reduce immigration is to remove the need for labour migration, which implies a weaker economy.

MK made some basic statements. One needs to separate political union from economic union; sub-state governments cannot be members of the EU; no half way house ; No ‘Reverse Greenland’ with Scotland and Northern Ireland taking decisions for England and Wales – not going to happen. England is suffering from an identity crisis. A number of matters will revert to Scotland, those not ‘Reserved’, so Scotland has the opportunity to work with EU on these matters – move in parallel with the EU. Focus on specific businesses.

  • The EU is market based – it is not political
  • The UK will no longer be for China a platform to Europe.
  • Globalisation is a root of discontent, but ‘sovereignty’ is overstated; however Europe hasn’t connected with ‘nationalism’. There is pressure to ‘go back to basics’.
  • Instead of focusing on the ‘Single Market’, look to the wider issues; what kind of union do we want – a social union featuring welfare? There are many different reasons for joining with the 27 and do any they apply to Scotland?
  • It is unclear how Article 50 negotiations will proceed; Brexit means that the UK position is weak and getting weaker as time goes on with the EU losing patience, bearing mined all their other major issues.

The Academic Panel: Brexit, devolution and Scotland’s Constitutional Future were David Heald, Alan Page, Ailsa Henderson and Nicola McEwen.

DH was unclear on the effect of Brexit on Barnett; will the UK position with more or less austerity and more or less regulation; finance will be hit if non-passporting; migration has a differential effect; there could be more focus on England. Would the UK Government replace EU subsidies on agriculture and university research and if so where will the cash come from. What effect will there be on VAT which is euro regulated. Scotland has a very small income tax base, 9% Tax payers provide 50% of Corporation Tax and is therefore vulnerable.

AP, a lawyer, considered that Brexit has huge implications; the distribution of powers will remain but will require law making which currently rests with the EU; EU law in Scotland would cease to apply; there is the prospect of divergence within the UK, leading to the possibility of Devolution being re-examined.  Removal of EU restrictions may be significant. Acts of the Scottish Parliament no longer open to challenge.

AH was concerned with attitude to risk and research had shown an imbalance in the general and specific risks. In comparison to the long campaign up to 2014, the 2016 referendum was short; there was no white paper and only limited engagement; no losers assent (cf Independence Referendum) . What are the options even now to make it better?

NMcE felt that we need to look again at the Devolution Settlement eg employment law – the SNP want EU social protection but this would lead to ideological divergence and increased tension. Scotland needs more workers. Scotland needs to be free to do deals. She recognises that by taking Independence off the table, Scotland’s negotiating position is weakened (Remember May’s comment re- guaranteeing EU members the right to remain in the UK). Northern Ireland is a special case.

To Questions: border agreements important for both Scotland and Northern Ireland but different. The UK government will just impose its will; Scotland is unlikely to have a say. The UK regards tax rush to the bottom ‘as policy’ which will have a bad effect on Scotland and Northern Ireland. The importance of agriculture is recognised but not obvious ‘the money is where the mouth is’

Meetings message to the European and External Relations Committee

NMcE asked groups of the audience to write down what they believed the European and External Relations Committee should review and take forward. A few groups presented their views and all groups’ inputs were collected.

Henry McLeish summed up. He also expressed a personal view that the Tory Party had taken the Country into the Referendum merely to tackle its internal issues without any consideration as to the consequences for the Country as a whole.

Where to now – my view

Taking Laura Cram’s thesis: everything is up for grabs, a thesis supported by Michael Keating and we should ‘think out of the box’; what does Scotland want by continuing with the 27 and how should it establish the right workable political as well as economic structures to do so. We can only hope that the Scottish Government is now working away in the background to come up with such structures (is this the role of Nicola Sturgeon’s special group headed by Prof Drew Scott?). Unfortunately this is not obvious from the points made by the members of the European and External Relations Committee at the meeting, who seemed generally defensive and focussed on ‘we don’t know what the UK will do re Brexit’.

August 21, 2016

After Brexit – What next for the UK and Scotland

Filed under: Brexit, DHI SPIF, Europe, Politics, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 11:30 am

After Brexit

Chaired by Ray Perman DHI

Panel: Michael Keating, Kirsty Hughes, Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Brian Monteith

  1. MK
    1. Reason for leaving – Europe holding us back, or Against Globalisation,
    2. Desired – Market but No Migration
    3. Government to make up its mind
    4. Scotland position in UK and Europe negotiable vis Cyprus
      1. Scotland and N Ireland allow migration while England and Wales not
    5. UK focused on Trade
  2. SDS
    1. UK Constitution not made for Referendums
    2. UK doesn’t have a Constitution
    3. Article 50 requires a Parliamentary vote
      1. Royal Prerogative doesn’t apply
      2. Nothing democratic about Westminster Cabinet
    4. Scotland formally has no legal position to affect the outcome
  3. BM
    1. Accept Brexit but Scotland to seek benefits from agreeing with Westminster
    2. Remove all Reserved Items – have I got this right?
    3. Sturgeon made a tactical error with her Capitals visits
    4. No functioning Opposition in Westminster
      1. Loss of faith in British Politics
    5. Cameron EU Negotiations was a failure
    6. Remain ‘dropped the ball’
  4. KH
    1. Comprehensive EU / UK deal will take 5- 7 years
    2. Reconcile with WTO
    3. Scotland should go for 2nd Indy Referendum NOW before UK leaves EU
  5. Someone
    1. For EU Brexit just one of many problems
      1. Refugees
      2. Turkey
      3. Lack of Solidarity
      4. EU Summit Autumn

Summary

  1. No clear position coming from the Panel
  2. ‘Brexit means Brexit’ but the Panel were unable to illuminate
  3. Ray Perman – ‘Watch programme of Festival of Politics next year’
    1. Will the position be any clearer next year?

April 10, 2016

DHI Seminar ‘Providing Independent Advice to Government: difficult choices and managing tensions’

Filed under: DHI SPIF, Education, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 10:04 pm

The David Hume Institute seminar was given by Naomi Eisenstadt in the Standard Life Building in Edinburgh

A few comments on the seminar.

  1. Despite her name Naomi is American rather than a German
  2. Appointed as independent adviser on Child Poverty to Scottish Government
  3. Scotland is different from California
    1. White bread  > brown bread > with jam then milk
  4. Poverty is not the same as inequality
  5. How poor is poor – numbers resonate
  6. More than ½ the adults in poverty have a job
  7. That a child is physically healthy doesn’t mean that the child is not in poverty
  8. A child of wealthy parents is not in poverty, but it does not mean that the child will grow up to be a productive and healthy adult.  Some kids from wealthier families go off the rails.
  9. 90% of the children with multiple problems, not just poverty (unemployment, poor maternal mental health, poor housing,  etc,) do not wind up in the criminal justice system.  But this is 10 times the rate for the wider population,
  10. Making sure My child is OK  – All parents
  11. Expose children to ‘the world of work’ at an early age
  12. High priority on early education is a proven fact
  13. Better joining up: parents > schools > teachers
  14. Poverty will never be eradicated but can be reduced
    1. The Nordics do better – the gradient between the poor and the wealthy is less
    2. High taxes mean better social care
  15. Lower paid are less likely to go to University (not unfortunately new)
  16. Quick Wins do well but often go unnoticed
  17. Caring is very very expensive – carers need to be well paid
  18. Naomi stressed that the ‘The problem is Me’ by which she meant that much of current policy protects pensioners from the impact of austerity, but is particularly harsh on young families.  She noted that she had worked very hard, but still felt the state protects older people like her, at the cost of younger people
    1. Which I expect applied to the majority of the evenings audience
  19. Theory is fine but practice better
  20. Scotland does better than England

Eisenstadt came over as a great practitioner rather than a theorist.

For more on Naomi Eisenstadt’s recommendations to the Scottish Government see https://www.holyrood.com/articles/inside-politics/naomi-eisenstadt-scotlands-independent-adviser-poverty-and-inequality.

Interestingly no one asked about the Scottish Government’s policy for Universal Child Guardianship.

February 26, 2015

David Hume Institute – Politicians & Professionals series

Filed under: DHI SPIF, economics, Education, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 12:17 pm

 

A series of five lectures given by the five Party Leaders in Scotland at this time.

The four I went to were in order Ruth Davidson for the Conservatives, Patrick Harvie for the Greens, Jim Murphy for Labour and Nicola Sturgeon for the SNP.  I missed Willie Rennie for the Lib Dems.

How did their policies for Scotland compare.  Well they had a surprisingly lot of common round.

  1. Murphy and Sturgeon were singing from the same song sheet on education and levelling the playing field; even Davidson considered Scotland needs to be more meritocratic; children from the poorer areas of Glasgow need to have the same opportunities as the rest.
  2. Further Education should be equally prised as Higher Education
  3. Scotland needs to get people back to work: Murphy, the unemployed while Sturgeon the Mums – she advocates Child Care to do so
  4. Murphy and Sturgeon were again singing on a Fairer Scotland.  Harvie brought up employers reneging on conditions in the work place
  5. Both Harvie and Murphy attacked zero hours contracts
  6. All except Sturgeon seemed to agree that Scotland is too centralised and power needs to be distributed. Sturgeon however did mention the Community Empowerment Bill before parliament at this time and she did recognised that for education there is a balance between the centre and the councils – is education ring fenced or not
  7. The oil is a dying commodity but we should be harnessing all that expertise in Aberdeen
  8. Of course there were differences: Davidson is for cutting taxes rather than Scotland going Nordic, Murphy reminded us of the Mansion Tax and 50p in the £ for high earners while Sturgeon said that the Smith Commission would help but not enough of tax raising under Scottish control.
  9. Davidson was the only one to talk about defence but even she didn’t tackle Trident nor was she pressed by the audience
  10. Harvie made the point that people now look at life as a ‘hotel’; you take the room, pay for the service and move on; and I would expect all four politicians would agree with this sentiment in their own different ways.
  11. As Harvie said in respect of the Bedroom Tax there was a high degree of unanimity between Labour and SNP  in Scotland and agreement on the way forward could have been reached a lot earlier if the two parties hadn’t automatically taken up their usual antagonist positions.  It may be time for the Scottish Parliament as a whole to take a more active part in moving Scotland forward without the need for usual party warring.

So what about the performers themselves

  1. Patrick Harvie in my view gave the weakest performance possibly because the Greens politics is all things to all green thinking men.
  2.  Jim Murphy was not consistent in his delivery trying to tackle all Scottish problems as he sees them in the 45 mins allotted – he is of course on an uphill battle in trying to win back Labour voters and may well have been tired.
  3. Nicola Sturgeon gave the most polished speech (and was the only one on time!) and stood up to answer questions, but maybe somewhat complacent – her time will come when she has to put her policies into practice – I noted already a careful keeping of her power dry.
  4. To me Ruth Davidson was the easiest to listen to and faced the audience all the time and her position is somewhat easier as as she recognised the Scottish Tories have a long way to go and she will be considered to have succeeded if she makes any headway in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon – An Educational System for Everyone- the Foundation of a Fairer Scotland

Filed under: DHI SPIF, Education, Left Politics, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 12:14 pm

 

Nicola Sturgeon at the David Hume Institute

The fifth and final lecture by Scottish Political Leaders

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, gave a very polished lecture and answered the questions with verve and composure.

But what did she say; well not that much.  Sturgeon focused, as her title suggested, on education in Scotland limiting her scope and the questions arising:

  1. The Education system in Scotland at present is not fair.  Opportunities for children favour the better off.  This is shown in children’s vocabularies – those from the poor schools are 13 months behind those from the well off.  The lower 20% do ½ as well as the well off.
  2. Education is not just for its own sake;  the economy is dependent on a qualified workforce.
  3. Scotland as part of the UK is suffering from the Coalition’s austerity programme –all three main parties in Westminster are equally culpable.  Against this, Scotland is doing its best to mitigate the effect of the austerity.
  4. Scotland has more university places per head of population save only for Finland
  5. Scotland has introduced its Curriculum for Excellence and this is going well.  Nevertheless Scotland is happy to learn from elsewhere – witness Sturgeon’s recent visit to Blue Gate Fields junior in Tower Hamlets.
  6. Head Teachers will be required to undergo retraining and achieve new qualifications; focus on ‘Doing rather than Being’
  7. Scotland is targeting from the early years and is introducing Child Care to get the Mums back to work
  8. Education is not just 5 to 18 but is life-long and adults also need to learn
  9. Scotland also recognises the need to bolster Apprenticeships and these have risen by 1/3 over the last 5 years.  The Government has taken on the Wood Report in full
  10. In questioning she emphasised that Councils are responsible for education in their regions and recognised that 2 Councils had reduced school hours and teachers employed.  The Government was in negotiation and in any case a Council’s educational budget is ring fenced.  Sturgeon stated that there is a balance of responsibility between Central Government and the Councils – and I got the impression that the point of balance could change!
  11. The Governments policy is free school meals for all – there should be no stigma to the less well off
  12. Sturgeon recognised the problem of private schools but the playing field has to become level.   I did not catch her solution
  13. Teaching is not just the prerogative of the school teachers but the parents need to play their part.  Communities need to help here and Sturgeon mentioned the Community Empowerment Bill going through Parliament at this time (though such help must tend to upset the level of the playing field)

Sturgeon finished by emphasising that she is passionate about education and  that the inequality in Education has to be sorted; in her view everyone needs to be brought up to the same level for Scotland to prosper economically and to flourish.

February 19, 2015

Scotland’s Future Sharing in Growth and Prosperity – Jim Murphy at the DHI

Filed under: DHI SPIF, Left Politics, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 8:36 am

Jim Murphy at the David Hume Institute

The fourth lecture by Scottish Political Leaders

Jim Murphy provided a somewhat erratic lecture; he would have been better if he had not had to refer to his notes so much; he was more relaxed in responding to the questions.

His central theme was ‘Inequality’ in Scotland and how Labour would change / mitigate it.

  1. Inequality is corrosive
  2. Inequality spans the whole life from school onwards.  In the poorest schools only 1 in 5 pupils gets more than 5 O grades.  Only 200 pupils in total  from the poorest families in Scotland get to University
  3. The poor live 9 years less than the richest
  4. The Pay of Glasgow workers is down £1,800 in real terms since the crash.  Families in work have to rely on food banks to survive
  5. We can’t afford so many jobless workers; their tax is needed to cover the growth in pensioners and to fund better schools for the poorest.  But it’s not just the money it’s to give people dignity.
  6. 74,000 workers in Scotland are on zero hours contracts
  7. Labour in power would tackle the 20 schools in the poorest areas – not only to bring on the pupils but also their mums so that they can help their children with their homework
  8. Politicians need to be honest and tough to come up with the money.  There’s the Mansion Tax for houses valued at 2million or more; 50p in the £ for the high earners; tax on bonus.  But the middle class though will not be affected – Murphy mention the middle class a number of times (whether he felt in talking to the DHI he was largely talking to ‘the middle class’)
  9. The cash from Taxation will flow from the South to the North and may be from the West of the Cities to the East but Murphy sees no real fight
  10. Scotland has to recognise that North Sea Oil is a dying commodity but we need to cash in on expertise such as Oil Platform decommissioning
  11. More generally science and technology needs boosting from primary school onwards.  It is essential that Scotland remains well educated – world competition is inexorably growing
  12. One 1% of university graduates set up their own business after graduation
  13. Social care needs to move from the hospitals to the home
  14. Democracy needs to be devolved to the Cities
  15. The Financial sector remains a key industry for Scotland – it was only the tiny section of the top executives that created the bank collapse.  In questioning Murphy said the Labour government had had no option but to bail out the banks.

Murphy summed up his ethics as Social Justice and growth in the economy, not only for us but for our children.

Inequality is the ‘flavour of the month’  of all political parties and not just in the UK but throughout the Western World; as Murphy says help for the poorest has to be funded from somewhere but whether Labour’s somewhat Robin Hood approach would deliver the funding remains unclear.

February 10, 2015

Tim Benton – Can we do it sustainably

Filed under: DHI SPIF, Education, Sustainability, World Class — derryvickers @ 5:28 pm

A lecture at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 9th February 2015

Tom Benton is Global Food Security Champion He made a number of critical points on world growth and how and if it could be sustainable

  1. There are 805 million in the world hungry; there are 1 million people in the UK in food poverty
  2. All of us eat the wrong food. 2/3 of the food eaten is wheat, rice and maize; if we include sugar, barley, soya, palm oil and potato we get up to 86%
  3. The world population will increase from the current 7 billion to 10 billion by 2050
  4. Food for Europe comes through the Suez Canal – an interruption in flow and Europe would be in crisis – there aren’t enough ships to go via the Cape
  5. The World will be 4* hotter; it’s not the average temperature that matters to growing plants it’s the maximums which could 6* or 7* above the average – at 35*C maize will not grow
  6. 70% of water used for agriculture; 1 kg meat takes 10/12 tons of water for production; a green bean from Kenya takes 1 gallon of water
  7. Eat local food , it saves water and carbon
  8. After continuous increase in crop yields now starting to drop off
  9. Need to reduce demand for food
  10. 1/3 of food wasted – 3 for 1 but best by today.
    1. The need for supermarkets to always have food available requires that they have 200% resilience
    2. Our food laws have stopped recycling of waste
  11. Health cost is £2,500 per person per year in the UK
  12. 50% of Chinese heading for diabetes
  13. In 2050 we will be eating more than the World has produced so far; needed 120% more water 40% more crop land 10% less forest
  14. Loss of biodiversity
  15. Agriculture produces more carbon than cars
  16. A plea for more horticultural research
  17. Food sales dominated by Marketing and supermarkets. Remember that supermarkets provide the food that we want to buy. The answer is a change in us not the supermarkets – if we change our eating habits then supermarkets will change what they sell.  A bottom up approach is needed
  18. During WW2 we got it right

February 6, 2015

Whatever happened to Politics of Hope – Patrick Harvie at the David Hume Institute

Filed under: Corporates, DHI SPIF, economics, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 9:49 am

The third Lecture by Scottish Political Leaders

Harvie provided more of barn-stormer than a lecture; he was better and easier in discussion.

The points he concentrated on were:

  1. The people and organisations that were prospering before the Crash have been the ones that have continued to profit since – it’s the rest of us who haven’t.
  2. The Crash has allowed employers to renege on conditions in the work place.   Wages in real terms have deteriorated – workers must pay to seek retribution at industrial tribunals. What is required is bringing back democracy into the work place – Union rights (a la Germany)
  3. Oil is a bubble – it is grossly overvalued – it must stay in the ground rather than its exploration and extraction receiving tax breaks
  4. Energy creation should be distributed to the local authorities and to the communities themselves (I remembered the smell of the Local Gas Works I used to pass every day going to school as a child!)
  5. The Greek election is a beacon of hope in politics rather than of despair. A break from the cry of ’Business as Usual’ so dominant since the Crash
  6. The Referendum was a lost opportunity
  7. People now looking at life as a ‘Hotel’; you take the room, pay for the service and move on. There needs to be a real revival in the community – Eigg as a community
  8. But he confessed he has no answers to his points
  9. Harvie is for proportional representation
  10. Politicians should work together across parties. In this respect Westminster works a lot better than Holyrood. The Bedroom tax legislation would have been resolved in Scotland if the SNP and Labour hadn’t spent so much time in bitter dispute even though both agreed on the way forward
  11. He is against outsourcing government business to consultants who could gain from the advice they gave
  12. The differential between the highest and lowest in any company that was 20/30 is now 200/400 and has to come down to 10/20.

I agree with much of what Patrick Harvie said in his talk and in the following discussion. There is no doubt that there is a disconnect between politicians and the public, those with wealth continue to prosper, and a change of heart back to a more connected community environment is essential.

But I would need a lot of convincing that the Green Way would automatically deliver the Political Hope that Harvie hopes for.

Mike Vickers

January 21, 2015

Ruth Davidson at the David Hume Institute

Filed under: DHI SPIF, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 11:06 pm

The David Hume Institute is running a series on the five Scottish Parties views of the parties’ views for a Scotland of the future.

This evening it was the turn of Ruth Davidson for the Scottish Conservatives.

Davidson speaks very well and is excellent if at times somewhat evasive in responding to questions (but then all politicians are).

Her points were

  1. The Tories are for cutting taxes – a recent poll indicated that only 7% were happy to pay higher tax that could go to a more social state (contrast the Nordics)
  2. Remuneration is to the hard working , responsible people.
  3. Davidson is setting up an independent commission on taxation.  Start with a reduction of 1p in the £.
  4. The SNP had stated that the Referendum is a once in a lifetime event – but have immediately backslided on this.
  5. Davidson recognises that the Scottish Tories have a long way to go to recover lost ground but believes that the ‘common man’ when tackled is coming to their side and is now selling the message – she sees this as key as she cannot do the conversion alone.  (Thatcher was not responsible for the collapse of engine building at Springburn – it was that technology have moved on from steam to diesel.)
  6. Education must be open equally to all.  Scotland needs to be meritocratic. The children from the poorer areas of Glasgow should have the same opportunities as the better off.
  7. Further Education should be equally prised as Higher Education
  8. Preschool  education is key.
  9. The SNP continue to centralise- Scotland is the most centralised burocratic government in Europe – Davidson agrees with the Jimmy Reid Foundations (as of course with CoSLA).  Democracy needs to be given back to communities and ultimately the people.
  10. Local Income tax
  11. Defensive is vital – but no one questioned her on the dirty word ‘Trident’
  12. There have been times where the Westminster and Scottish governments have worked well together – witness Ebola before Christmas – why not build on it
  13. There should be a Scottish OBR
  14. There should be a much more transparency on where the money goes – Osborne provides it already
  15. Till now the SNP government has spent but not had to raise money.  Everything will change once they have to raise money and justify it.
  16. People willing to pay for prescriptions (this is a debatable point – why not raise taxes on the well off?)
  17. How to get the people with disabilities into jobs – there is a premium here but it is unclear whether Davidson fully subscribed to it.
  18. The war has been won but now we have to win the peace.

Much of Davidson’s speech is laudable but practice does not always align well with principle.

Mike Vickers

21/01/2015

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.