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« The ever-changing story of Stern | Main | The Sun says shun alarmism »
Wednesday
Aug262015

Just in from the Nats

This just in from the deputy leader of the SNP in Westminster:

Words fail me.

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Reader Comments (81)

Golf Charlie
Scotland is currently a net exporter of both food and energy. The exports of food and drink have increased largely due to the efforts of the SNP. Your tired line is that the SNP just want to spend more and end all industry. That is the complete opposite of the truth.

Mike J
Yes it should be a grown-up discussion about GM but this blog never has such a thing. Research on GM has not been banned. Yes Hosie is a balloon - no argument! SNP's policy is not to close power stations. they are still protesting about Longannet and as I have pointed out and linked to here before they accept that more thermal stations need to be built. That was on their energy FAQ prior to the referendum for all to see. That 'once in a generation' was last generation. In truth it was once in 300 years! The goalposts moved because the public - entirely unexpectedly - showed they felt betrayed by the false promises made by uk.gov and Labour and demonstrated that by voting them out. The SNP do not want to dictate to the rest of the UK: they want out of it! But if 56 out of 59 MP's doesn't give you a mandate tot alk up Scotland then what does it take? Oh yes...independence. 50$ a barrel does not leave any fiscal black hole. The SNP balanced the budget every year unlike Westminster - and still kept free education. A sensible government adapts and stays within budget. The Scottish public didn't believe the SNP was fiscally responsible until they had proven it after 7 years. The SNP argument has long been that Westminster is holding back growth in Scotland - largely by indifference - and a lot of Scottish business leaders agree. There is no anti-English bias; just a general frustration that things could be done better if the country wasn't being ruled by policies meant for the South of England, and London in particular. I do believe the North of England feel the same.

Personally I very much like the vast majority of the English and I perceive this current wave of anti-Scots rhetoric to be entirely engendered by the lies told in the detestable English tabloids (that seem to be run by 12 year olds) about the cost of Scotland to England. The FT who did the real numbers revealed that the difference in spending is only marginal - even without the oil revenue and in favour of Scotland if oil revenue is included. I have no doubt that the English are led to believe it is an anti-English campaign by their crap media but the fact is that it is sheer and utter frustration at Labour puppets and Tory muppets. As for the Barnett formula, that is something that Scots are obviously prepared to sacrifice if they achieve independence: Hence the anti-Scots message is utterly confused but always insulting.

Nial
I don't forget that SNP does not equal Scotland: My point was that some of the visitors to this blog do. The Scots education system is a triumph. If some social studies and environmentalist courses (and other complete wastes of time and money) have to go then that a good thing imo. University should be geared to finding work! It should not be a privilege for the better-off. If something else has to be dropped from the budget to pay for it then there are plenty of lame-duck Labour and Tory policies to choose from. Trident is first to spring to mind.

Aug 27, 2015 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

sam and Mike Jackson, I am on balance, just to the right of the political spectrum. On the issue of climate change, I am firmly behind UKIP, as the only party offering to rip down the Green flag that ALL the other parties nailed to the UK's mast. I am prepared to admit the things that Thatcher and Blair got right, but not forget what they got wrong. I am not obliged to support any politician purely because of the colour of their flag. Hence I am not Tory, Labour, Liberal, UKIP, SNP etc.

The SNP can not answer a polite question without vitriolic attacks. Scotland does deserve better, but the SNP are determined to fail to deliver.

That France and Germany may oppose fracking and GM crops is their problem to deal with, and their electorates will, as electorates know best, when economic reality hits home, as it has in the UK, and I therefore respect the Tories for making small steps in the right direction.

So where is an independent Scotland going to get power and food from? Does the SNP have a plan?

I only ask because people from Scotland might be interested, and the SNP want to silence anyone asking the question on this blog.

Aug 27, 2015 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

JamesG, if Scotland is genuinely a net exporter of food and energy then the SNP have nothing to worry about. They ought to publicise those facts, to show to the rest of the UK, EU and the world how to do it.

Aug 27, 2015 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

JamesG
50$ a barrel does not leave any fiscal black hole. '

strange becasue it is everywhere else that depends on oil exports.
but perhaps that is becasue '

' The SNP balanced the budget every year unlike Westminster ' thanks to large amount extra cash from the rest of the UK and with ' independence' that is gone , but the bills and other income does not change a lot ,now try to balance the budget .

Right now Scotland is able to keep some things free , compared to the rest of the UK, because it is able to tape into money that does not originate in Scotland , but that is time limited in any case and once its a question of paying for their own then they find it harder.

Aug 27, 2015 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

@ golf charlie
@ Mike Jackson

I do not believe that the submission by Messrs Gibson and Miller is "by the by". They say that there is no body or organisation with responsibility for securing the reliablility of electricity supply. They recommend that the UK government appoint a competent body to examine the structure and obligations of the electricity industry. Failing that they recommend that the Scottish government seek the powers to change the way the industry operates in Scotland.

In addition, they recommend that suppliers of electricity to consumers in Scotland (whether or not they are generators) be required to maintain a sufficient margin of capacity to secure supplies to their consumers.Also, transmission operations and generation dispatching should be under the control of a "not for profit" organisation.

What do you think is the thrust of this submission? Is it not that UK energy policy - set by the UK government - is likely to damage Scottish interests to the point where the Scottish government should have the power to regulate the electricity industry? How could that sensibly be described as "by the by"?

Repeatedly, I see on this site attacks on the SNP for its "policy" towards wind energy. It is not SNP energy policy that drives the installation of wind farms in Scotland though the SNP is certainly in favour of renewables. It is UK energy policy which is, in turn, responding to the EU Directive to achieve 20% of renewables by 2020. The SNP role in this, as you know, is to deal with planning applications. Here, there is little room for manoeuvre. The UK Overarching National Policy statement for Energy says this about the role of a Scottish government in dealing with planning applications: " However, energy policy is generally a matter reserved to UK Ministers and this NPS may therefore be a relevant consideration in planning decisions in Scotland."

"Relevant consideration" has legal significance, allowing the UK government to challenge any planning decision it regards as deviating from the NPS.

The point is that any Scottish government is likely to have acceded to the planning applications for windfarms. Scotland provides most wind in the UK so operators will wish to maximise income by having installations in Scotland. The SNP is not being criticised for its energy "policies" but because people on this site, particularly Montford, are politically hostile to it. If Montford had a real interest in providing information to his readers about UK energy policy he would have reported on the submissions to the Scottish Committee looking into security of supply. There he would have read or heard more than Gibson and Miller saying that UK energy policy was putting security of supply in Scotland at risk.

I have speculated that the reason for the SNP wanting no GM crops is because it believes the GM industry may adversely affect the selling of Scottish produce. The reason for the moratorium - not a ban - on fracking may be to allow the management of expectations among the "greens" that have recently joined the party. (I am not a member).
My speculation is as pointless as criticising the actions of the SNP without knowing what the reasons are for their actions. To wind yourself up as Montford has done is just - well, words don't fail me - stupid.

Aug 27, 2015 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered Commentersam

About the price of oil. At present prices there would be a deficit in the budget of an independent Scotland. The IFS has put a figure on this. I do not know how the IFS calculated the deficit. What is certain is that, at present, the UK government is running a large deficit. It hopes to pay this down by exploiting the poor and making the poor pay rather more than the rich.

What is also certain is that oil prices will rise in the future. An independent Scotland may well be able to run budget surpluses from the oil revenues and it is likely to use the surpluses to put aside to compensate for lost revenues when the oil price falls again, as it will. An independent Scotland is likely to set up an oil and gas exploration company to try to emulate the feats of Statoil, the Norwegian exploration company, now one of the richest companies in the world. statoil has enabled the Norwegians to set up an oil fund now worth around £500 billion.

What an independent Scotland is unlikely to wish to do is follow the example of DECC. Last year the Wood Review, set up by DECC, concluded that DECC was unfit to manage the oil and gas industry. There were too few people in post. Those present lacked the resources and knowledge effectively to manage a mature basin.

Fiscal instability was a factor hampering the long term planning of major projects. While the UK government has accepted the Wood recommendations, the Treasury has retained control of the tax regime - the same Treasury that hiked taxes in 2011 causing the postponement and abandonment of major projects.

In 1974, Gavin McCrone produced a report for the incoming Labour government. It suggested that an independent scotland would, with the oil revenues have "chronic" budget surpluses. The report was hidden. A second report was made by McCrone in 1976. He proposed the setting up of an oil fund. In addition to the block grant he suggested that the coming Scottish Assembly should have priority to money from the oil fund in order to try to address the dperivation and urban dereliction of West central Scotland which was then in the throes of deindustrialisation. This process was completed by Thatcher's government. The speed and scale of this deindustrialisation threw many out of work, onto the scrapheap, and many never worked again. Deindustrialisation is known to increase health inequalities - early deaths.

There was no oil fund, though Millan, the Scottish Secretary, was in favour. The Labour government used the oil money to pay down the IMF loan debt. Thatcher's government used the oil money, not for roads or hospitals - public spending decreased, but to finance tax cuts for the rich - the top rate came down from 60% to 40%. West central Scotland and other deindustrialised parts of the UK got no oil money to ease their problems of poverty. The rich had money to spend and spent it on houses causing a massive increase in house prices.

A conservative estimate of what might be the value of an oil fund today is £450 billion. A less conservative estimate is £850 billion.

Aug 27, 2015 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered Commentersam

JamesG

'The Scots education system is a triumph.'

Don't make me laugh!

Fall in reading standards: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-32513792

Shortages of teachers: http://www.sptc.info/teacher-shortages-summit-announced/

Parent confidence in schools falling: http://www.scotsman.com/news/education/confidence-in-scots-schools-falling-among-parents-1-3869915

All the above in the SNP period of government.

Aug 27, 2015 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterhebe

hebe

Your view is not universally shared.

"The quality of teaching in Scottish schools, particcularly early years and primaries, is the envy of teachers from these countries [Finland, Sweden, Norway, Spain, The Netherlands]. In fact, schools serving areas of disadvantage in Scotland are often characterised by high values of care, nurture, challenge and aspiration for their pupils."

So said Brian Boyd, Emeritus Professor of Education, Strathclyde University.

The difficulty with closing the gap in attainment between pupils from poorer families and those from better off families may be to do with poverty. Families who are living in poverty can experience chronic stress as a result of poverty. Chronic stress can lead to permanently elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol can impair brain development, particularly in the pre cortex and hippocampus areas of the brain which are important in learning and memory. The best means of closing the attainment gap in such circumstances is to address poverty. That is more difficult to do if the government does not control its own economic and welfare policies.

Aug 27, 2015 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered Commentersam

JamesG / sam

Sorry, guys, but life really is too short to spend time talking past each other.

sam - My "by-the-by" comment re energy was in the context of the rest of what I was commenting on. No-one disputes, as I said, that UK energy policy is wrong-headed and potentially disastrous. Scottish energy policy which has subtly shifted from "100% supplied by renewables" to "renewables will supply the equivalent of 100%" is no better. It's just weasel words.
To repeat for the umpteenth time, when the wind isn't blowing an infinity of windmills will still supply precisely zero electricity unless you have found some change in the laws of physics. No amount of position papers or expert waffle is going to change that.

I took the trouble to check McCrone. While the main thrust is right, in that the government at the time was underestimating North Sea production, my memory of the time proved correct that the SNP figures assumed the "frontier" to be due east of the border north of Berwick. International Law would differ; the correct border line would have been a continuation (app SW-NE) of the existing border. This would have made a marginal difference at the time, more so later.
In any event the argument was irrelevant since there was no demand for independence by the people of Scotland at the time. UK oil is, was, and will be UK oil for as long as Scotland is part of the UK. On the subject of a dedicated 'Oil Fund', I'm inclined to agree, with the benefit of hindsight, that this might have been beneficial but we'll never know since the Labour government chose to reduce the UK's appalling debt level. Who knows which may have been more beneficial in the long run?
The suggestion that the subsequent Conservative government used Scottish oil money to "finance tax cuts for the rich" demonstrates either a typical Nat view of the hated English, or a misunderstanding of how taxation works, or economic illiteracy.
No "financing of the rich" was needed. The result of the cut in the top level of tax was to boost tax takings not to reduce them, a classic example of the Laffer Curve in action. Without that cut there would have been less money available for all the other things everyone, not just the Scots, would have liked it spent on.

JamesG
I'm not overjoyed at arguing with you because there is quite a lot we agree on but I'm afraid I can barely find anything in your reply to me that I recognise as having a connection with the facts.
$50 a barrel will never, ever balance the books on the current Scottish government's ambitions.
If the SNP don't want to dictate to the rest of the UK then please explain that to your 56 MPs and the Nippy Sweetie who began her career by opposing a plan to bring the law on hunting in England into line with what applies in Scotland. (Thereby, I have to say with a grin, falling into a very neat trap set for her by Cameron!)
Under the current SNP government virtually every aspect of public policy is deteriorating: education standards are falling and Scotland has been living on its reputation for much too long; all the health indicators are negative; the list is virtually endless.
And you cannot keep blaming England. Scotland is responsible for law and order, education, housing, roads, health, transport with 1.5 times as much cash per head as is available to England. What the North of England is bitching about is that Scotland is better served by government than they are with no justification. Yes, government is about priorities but when you appear keen to undermine further education - which is where your skilled workforce is coming from in the next few years - in order to stick two fingers up to England and make unversity education free (and that, judging by the extent to which the SNP brag about, is exactly what you are doing) then a lot of people would suggest that the priorities could do with being thought out again.
Frankly most people south of the border, and not a few north of it as well, are becoming heartily sick of the endless complaint that somehow Scotland is being victimised. You are roughly 8% of the population of the UK and are entitled to 8% of the good and the bad and the indifferent that makes up the day to day affairs of the UK. Nothing more, nothing less. In fact you already have a good deal more in both financial support and freedom of action.
And oddly enough the SNP alone has 8.8% of the number of seats in the House of Commons. How's that for fairness?

Aug 27, 2015 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

sam, thank you for the polite lengthy replies you have posted, but with the unlimited resources of the SNP assisting you, does the SNP support the no GM and Fracking stance of your deputy leader? The people of Scotland have a right to know, if you want their continued support.

Aug 27, 2015 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

golf charlie

I am neither a member of the SNP or an uncritical supporter. My interest in putting up responses here is not because of any interest in what Hosie chooses to tweet. What interests me is the blog itself. You see, I take the view that until Mr Montford can explain what is the SNP position on GM and fracking it is pointless to say anything about it. A tweet is unlikely to be enlightening about underlying politics.

The SNP has, I believe, been well briefed on fracking by Professor Younger. I think the decision to hold a moratorium and Professor Younger's understandable reaction to it may have been aired here. If not it has been aired elsewhere. I think the SNP does accept that fracking, responsibly done, is safe. I repeat the view of Prof Younger - it is a political decision and I think it is about managing expectation. If so, it is what politics is about and there is likely to be a SNP decision to permit fracking - another opportunity for Montford to solicit anti-Scottish feeling.

About GM I think this is about how best to market Scotland's food produce.

I think it is stupid to run a blog post on the basis of a tweet that is, to me, meaningless in content. I think it meaningless given the background information I already have.

Also, the reaction to the blog post is aggressively anti-Scottish. It is the same sort of reaction I encountered in the run up to the Indy Referendum - a sense of entitlement. it seems to me that people here feel threatened by the SNP's political dominance of Scotland - which is what the people of Scotland want. You see on this site blurring of abuse directed at the Scots as a group - all Scots - and the SNP. Montford's political views though unexpressed are pretty obvious. He is probably a Conservative supporter as, I guess, are many of the followers. If so, he is in a small minority - 14% of the population. He operates the blog without any explicit policy on posting responses. It is clear that he knows and cares little about journalistic ethics. If he did one would expect him actively to discourage the anti-Scottish sentiment that permeates this blog.

On this site the SNP is criticised for being the SNP. As I have tried repeatedly to point out, the SNP is unfairly pilloried for supporting wind energy. The thrust for wind energy in Scotland comes from the EU, UK energy policy and the wind energy producers who want to locate here. EN-1 makes it unlikely that the SNP could use its planning powers to oppose UK energy policy.

Montford lives in Scotland yet declines to report on the Scottish parliament's hearings into security of supply. Why?

Aug 27, 2015 at 7:49 PM | Unregistered Commentersam

@mike Jackson

So where did the £450 - £850 billion that did not go into an oil fund get spent if not on tax cuts? Can you provide evidence that the tax cuts managed to be self supporting? Do you accept that public spending decreased substantially under the Thatcher government?

Aug 27, 2015 at 7:53 PM | Unregistered Commentersam

Mike Jackson
Preparing and then criticising your own straw-men is not true argument anyway. Scotland under the SNP has largely recovered from the devastation wrought by Thatcherism by sheer hard work. It is now trying to salvage the North sea oil industry from counter-productive Tory taxes, the food industry from the taint of GM, the energy supply business from the useless national grid (that should never have been privatised). That it already saved the education system from the rank, short-termist stupidity of fee-paying is something to boast about - not decry. It was not about thumbing anyone's nose - it is basic common sense! I have not blamed the English for anything, nor has the SNP. Only Westminster incompetence and indifference is to blame. So only if you regard Westminster as the exclusively property of the English and the Scots as mere vassals, to be seen and not heard, could you hold such an opinion. Alas many of your compatriots do feel that way - and that is one reason why there has been such an SNP surge.

All calculations about money in versus money out that came from the English tabloid press or Tory-dominated civil servants are in total disagreement with those derived by Scottish academics who have studied the real numbers and also by the FT. To do proper calculations it matters a great deal what you include and exclude - just as with the Tory unemployment calculations that were altered 22 times to make them look more favourable. The fact is that the rest of the world think that the UK is dependent on North Sea oil and it is England that would likely suffer the bigger downgrade after a split. The fact is that the North Sea is in decline but the Wood report and the FT tell us that government incompetence is grossly accelerating that decline by sheer stupidity. You would have us believe that it is not right for SNP to complain about so much abject stupidity when it materially affects them because we are less than 10% of the UK population and so do not therefore matter. Well we are 100% of the Scottish nation and if independence is the only tool left to save our jobs then that is the one that must be followed. Frankly I prefer Federalism but only the threat of independence seems to move anyone in Westminster!

Aug 28, 2015 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

"All calculations about money in versus money out that came from the English tabloid press or Tory-dominated civil servants are in total disagreement with those derived by Scottish academics who have studied the real numbers and also by the FT"

Why don't you look at the Scottish Government's own figures, those the 'white paper' were based upon?

http://chokkablog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/how-scotlands-economy-contributes-to-uk.html

"The fact is that the rest of the world think that the UK is dependent on North Sea oil and it is England that would likely suffer the bigger downgrade after a split."

Again, using the Scottish Government's figures, this is not true...

http://chokkablog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/explaining-76bn-ffa-black-hole.html

"The fact is that the North Sea is in decline but the Wood report and the FT tell us that government incompetence is grossly accelerating that decline by sheer stupidity"

Another 'fact' that isn't. The North Sea is in decline because the bits that are easy to get at have been exhausted, and the global oil price has plummeted....

http://chokkablog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/oil-price-and-scottish-tax-generation.html

"Well we are 100% of the Scottish nation and if independence is the only tool left to save our jobs then that is the one that must be followed."

As the FFA/ £7.6Billion black hole post above shows we would be in penury if the yes vote had prevailed last year.

Aug 28, 2015 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterNial

JamesG

Well said. I share your opinion of Westminster government and it is exactly for the same reason that you describe that I hope for devo max or independence. Thereafter the hue of the party governing in Scotland matters less than its competence to me.

I think Mike jackson's claim about the tax cuts stimulating revenue income means he is having a Laff. VAT was raised to pay for the tax cuts?

If you look at the 10th Kilbrandon Lecture by Sir Harry Burns you can hear (or read) Sir Harry describe the effect on the developing brain of elevated cortisol levels.It is chronic stress brought about enduring poverty that brings such elevated levels. The important parts of the brain, the pre cortex and hippocampus, to do with learning and memory can be impaired by permanently elevated levels of cortisol. What goes on in the school is less important than what goes on in the home when it comes to the education of the poorer families. Even so I was pleased to read Brian Boyd's remarks about how well regarded was the teaching in Scotland of the early years.

Aug 28, 2015 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered Commentersam

Sam/ JamesG,

You both seem to have bought the lie that the rest of the UK is milking Scotland dry.

Here's a demonstration, based on the Scottish Government's own figures, that this is not the case...

http://chokkablog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/scotlands-economy.html

More here...

http://chokkablog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/explaining-76bn-ffa-black-hole.html

and here...

http://chokkablog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/full-fiscal-autonomy-for-dummies.html


(I submitted a similar post ~ half an hour ago in reply to James but it hasn't appeared yet).

Aug 28, 2015 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

@Nial

"the UK is milking scotland dry"?

I am not entirely sure what you mean by this phrase. I suspect you are mistaken in your comprehension of what I have written. It is about competence - rather the lack of it from Westminster government - and mendacity.

Here is an example of what I mean. look at the link I left for JamesG - 10th Kilbrandon Lecture. Here is another "Strees disrupts the architecture of the developing brain". It is known now that the gap in educational attainment between the porer child and the less poor may be to do with the effects of chronic stress imposed by poverty. To address that the Scottish government is trying an early years intervention strategy. This may have some effect. But the answer to poverty is to have less of it and that means a more equal society. To achieve that Scotland needs control of its welfare and economic policies. It is denied that by -first- the lost independence referendum, and now Westminster government, abetted by its branch offices in Scotland, failing to allow Scotland "devo max" which many think was promised.

There is, in my opinion, depravity about this sort of politics that dwarves by some way Montford's pettiness and angst about the SNP - not to mention the pack that follows him.

Aug 28, 2015 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered Commentersam

"It is known now that the gap in educational attainment between the porer child and the less poor may be to do with the effects of chronic stress imposed by poverty"

Can you point to any chronic poverty in modern Scotland?

REAL poverty, not the relative poverty that is used as an indicator no.

When the midwife visited when we had our first child she was surprised we didn't have a large flat screen TV and sky. She said that when our kids start school if we went to the council and said our kids were being bullied because we didn't have these they would pay for it.

Is this what you mean by 'poverty'?

"But the answer to poverty is to have less of it and that means a more equal society"

It's very difficult to have a more equal society when the countries finances have gone down the tubes.

Read this...
http://chokkablog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/explaining-76bn-ffa-black-hole.html

"It is about competence"

And you're supporting the SNP? I think their chickens will be coming home to roost pretty soon.

Aug 28, 2015 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

@Nial

"Can you point to any chronic (sic) poverty in modern Scotland?"

Do your own work - then put up what you find.

And you're supporting the SNP?

Who said I was? Try to lift the argument beyond yah boo or don't bother me. How many bilion deficit and debt is there in the UK. And the "black hole" will disappear as oil prices rise. Try reading my post on the incompetent handling of the oil and gas industry by Westminster. Try reading the Wood report - Wood is a Unionist.

Aug 28, 2015 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered Commentersam

dwarfs -not dwarves

Aug 28, 2015 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered Commentersam

After reading all the above & having a look at the rationality in Chokka blog, it is obvious why SNP is taken by many to be an acronym for Scottish Numpty Party.
What colour is the sky in your world indeed.

Aug 29, 2015 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterNessimmersion

JamesG
As I said there is no point in talking past each other.
Since I don't accept a single one of your premises in your 28/8 9:56 post there is no point in my even trying to reply to them.
As long as there is this massive chip that England — usually characterised by a cartoon version of Margaret Thatcher playing the part of Dick Dastardly — spent decades trying to destroy Scotland and Scottish industry there is little point in trying to hold any sort of reasonable discussion.
The whole of the UK emerged from the 1980s better off and fitter to compete in the real world than when it went in, and that included Scotland. The fact that Scotland was still excessively reliant on antiquated heavy industry and antiquated working practices was hardly Thatcher's fault.
Thirty years later the only thing that keeps the Clyde shipyards open (what's left of them) is government contracts; they have barely put in a single competitive tender for a private contract for nearly half-a-century. Why? Because the Japanese and the South Koreans do it better and cheaper. Live with it!
The whole UK coal industry went through a major upheaval, not because "Maggie was determined to close down all the pits" but because there was no point in pouring money into an industry that was losing money hand over fist, mainly due to the antiquated working practices I mentioned earlier. The rest of the world was doing it better and cheaper. Much the same applied to the steel industry where there was massive excess capacity and reduced demand.
The worst enemy of the Scots in the 80s was the Scots themselves who refused point blank to accept that heavy industry had had its day and that the world (and the taxpayer) did not owe them a living.
The old Borders motto "It's aye been" writ large.

Aug 29, 2015 at 10:22 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"And the "black hole" will disappear as oil prices rise."

No, it won't.

Oil would need to be at $200 for us to break even....

http://chokkablog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/oil-price-and-scottish-tax-generation.html

This is a price that oil has historically never been near, and with Iran etc coming on line there's no prospect of it getting anywhere near that.

So for the short to medium/long term our ecomony would be _much_ worse off.

What would you cut first, schools or hospitals?


"> Can you point to any chronic (sic) poverty in modern Scotland?"

"Do your own work - then put up what you find."

Sorry, if you claim that poverty is the root cause of the declining educational performance of poorer kids it's down to YOU to provide some evidence.

"And you're supporting the SNP?"
"Who said I was?"

You're defending their policies which would have destroyed my daughter's futures.

"How many bilion deficit and debt is there in the UK"

Whatever it is, guess who's adding to it dis-proportionately.

(A clue It's not England).

Aug 29, 2015 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

@ Mike Jackson

Mike you are missing the point by a mile through failing to engage.

I want to talk to you a little bit about what you say to JamesG - the post above. There is sound academic research into the effects of UK government policy -in particular, Thatcher's government on the effect of health inequalities. Health inequalities are preventable and unjust differences in health status experienced by certain population groups. People in lower socio-economic groups are more likely to experience chronic ill health and die earlier than those who are more advantaged. In West Central Scotland, WCS, as I expect you know, there can be marked differences in life expectancies in areas that are just a few miles apart.

Research has looked at areas in Europe of similar socio-economic profiles that have experienced deindustrialisation. The research has attempted to explain why certain of these areas in Europe have had better health outcomes than the UK. It comes down to political choices. Here is an extract from "Health and its determinants in Scotland and other parts of Europe: the "Aftershock of Deindustrialisation"study -phase two". It is from Glasgow Centre for Public Health.

"The results suggest that poor health in WCS can be attributed to three layers of causation. First, deindustrialisation is a fundamental driver of poor health. WCS, alongside other parts of Europe, has suffered from this experience. Second, as part of the UK, the region has experienced a set of economic policies and social trends in the last few decades which differ from other levels of continental Europe in important ways: in particular in relation to the more "neo-liberal" economic policies pursued by the UK, higher levels of economic inequality, and higher proportions of potentially vulnerable households. The third level has to do with unexplained factors which cause WCS to experience worse health outcomes than similar regions within the UK." (That "third level" is the subject of ongoing research.)

There is considerably more reading available to be done if you are interested in the subject. On this particular subject I recommend the excellent Phd thesis by Gordon Daniels also available at Glasgow Centre of Public Health.

More broadly the NHS consultant, Dr Gerry McCartney has described the fundamental causes of health inequalities in "What would be sufficient to reduce health inequalities in Scotland?" Dr McCartney was one of a number of expert witnesses giving evidence this year to the Scottish Parliament's Committee on Health. All the witnesses, with slightly different emphases said the causes of health inequalities were to do with the economic and welfare policies pursued in the UK. Dr McCartney stated that health inequalities arise from the unequal distribution in society of wealth, income and power. As you know, I expect, Scotland has no control over all of the economic and welfare policies and is unlikely to be granted full control.

In case you think this is all to do with Scots, albeit academic Scots, with a chip on their shoulders you might try reading the Marmot Report produced for the Westminster parliament.

It is up to you whether you want to inform yourself on this subject. You might understand though that your remark beginning, "As long as there is this massive chip," is singularly ill chosen and an insult given the breadth of academic research on the subject. That the remarks come out of ignorance rather than malice makes little diference.

Aug 30, 2015 at 8:08 AM | Unregistered Commentersam

Sam,

You are failing to see the woods for the trees.

The many chokka blog links above show, using the SNP led Scottish Governent's own figures, that if we had independence or FFA the economy would shrink by about 15%, ie there would have to be _massive_ government
spending cuts or income tax would have to double.

We would have to grow at twice China's recent growth rates for ~15 years to get back to the position we are in now, this would be all but impossible with such heave cuts/ tax rises.

The current situation might not be perfect and need attention but as the medics are taught "first do no harm".

Aug 30, 2015 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterNial

sam
What is there to engage with?
The basic assumption is that government policies in the 1980s were singularly adverse for Scotland which is rubbish.
The basic assumption by the average anti-Tory activist was then that these policies were deliberately aimed at the Scottish poor which is paranoid.
Your arguments apply equally to Merseyside, Tyneside, London's East End, South Wales and anywhere else where heavy industry was becoming out-dated. If you want to point a finger why not point it at the Wilson and Heath governments who feather-bedded the lossmakers while the rest of the world embraced new technology and new working methods and moved on leaving the Thatcher government to do what ought to have been done 20 years earlier and which Heath started to do and chickened out of.
If Heath had let Rolls Royce and the Clyde shipyards go to the wall (as his political argument on taking office says he should have done) it's a reasonable bet that the UK economy would have been even stronger by the end of the 80s than it actually was because the message would have got through — with the sound of trumpets and the glare of flashing lights — that government is not going to bail you out. If your product is worth having and at a price people are prepared to pay then you don't need to stick your hand in the taxpayer's pocket to survive. Benn's manipulation of the industry in '67 sent out the usual (wrong) socialist message: the government will always be here as the lender of last resort so no need to bust your pan in, guys.
I presume you had noticed that Nissan is building cars in Washington, Toyota in Derby and Honda in Swindon. Have you ever asked why they aren't building them in Bathgate or Motherwell or Linwood?
Could it be that they are scared that they will find themselves with an industry with 24 unions, all jealous of their own fiefdom, and likely to call a strike if the "wrong" person puts a chalk mark on a piece of steel? Sound familiar? It will to anyone who worked at Fairfield or John Brown.
Building ships in bits and then sticking them together? It'll never catch on. 500,000 ton tankers? Who needs them? Whoops.
What you appear to be saying in your analysis of health anomalies is that Glasgow's health problems would all be solved by a dose of socialism. A classic case of "we had to destroy the village in order to save it", that is!
It's been well-established for decades that the poor have worse health outcomes than the less poor but you don't solve that by making everyone poorer. And an appetite for too much drink, too many fish suppers and deep-fried Mars Bars, and not enough fresh vegetables might just have a wee bit to do with it as well. OK, it's a stereotype; they tend to be stereotypes for a reason!
And since you have 50% more per capita than England to spend as you like why not use it to good advantage rather than paying for learned gentlemen to write papers and reports telling you what everyone already knows?
All of which is a long way from the original premise: Hosie is a balloon! Can we get back to that or move on, please?

Aug 30, 2015 at 11:48 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Another angle.

I googled "Dr Gerry McCartney" to see who he is, one of the first hits was this....

https://www.rsph.org.uk/en/about-us/latest-news/press-releases/press-release1.cfm/pid/52EF3665-B95F-44C8-A0670D6B3212581E

"The results showed that between 1950 and 1980 Scotland started to diverge from elsewhere in Europe"

In the '50s the Tories enjoyed significant political support here in Scotland, over this period the country has become much more left wing (though surprisingly it is only _slightly_ more left wing than England now).

Perhaps the difference is the slide from "If I want to get on it's my responsibility" attitude of a conservative supporter to a more left wing attitude of "it's somebody else's fault, the government will have to sort if out".

Socialism is the problem.

Aug 30, 2015 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

Nial
In the 1955 election the Conservatives won 36 of the 71 Scottish seats on 50.09% of the vote.
How much of this was the "forelock" vote it is hard to guess; some of it almost certainly was.
Four years later the Conservatives increased their parliamentary majority and lost their Scottish majority at the same time.
This Wikipedia page makes interesting reading, as does this breakdown of the 1955 results for the UK. They tell you what but they don't tell you why.
Prior to the 1959 election the fortunes of Labour and the Conservatives (including their Liberal or National Liberal allies) had fluctuated pretty much in line with what was happening south of the Border. The decline began around the late 50s and continued right up to the present.
And yet, as you say, there is precious little difference in overall outlook between Scots and English when asked about the important (or even unimportant!) issues facing them in their daily lives. So what Scottish party do those people support who south of the Border would be voting Conservative?

Incidentally, if I wanted any sort of objective view on anything relating to the state of Scotland vis-a-vis England the last person I would go to would be a fully paid-up member of the Scottish Socialist Party. Correction: I wouldn't touch his research with a barge pole if he were the last man on earth so don't ring us, Gerry, and we'll not bother ringing you.

Aug 30, 2015 at 3:40 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Nial
Mike jackson

No one said anything about Thatcher policies being "singularly adverse" for Scotland. The point of the research which is entirely clear assuming you read it and can comprehend it is that the UK as a whole fared worse than other regions in Europe with a smilar socio-economic profile. that the UK fared worse was because of the higher levels of economic inequality in the UK and higher proportions of potentially vulnerable households.

Feel free to talk rubbish if you wish. If you disagree with academic research, not limited to any of those I quoted that is your loss. Do you reckon they are all socialists? Carol Tannahill? Sally McIntyre? Michael Marmot? googled them They're all socialists.See that Sir Harry Burns - effing communist.

Gawd -"your arguments apply to Merseyside". Well of course they do. It's one of the areas studied.

I really can't be bothered with dimwits.

Aug 30, 2015 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered Commentersam

"I really can't be bothered with dimwits"

OK, keep it simple and, bearing in mind the Scottish Government's own fiigures, explain how independence or FFA would have benefited anyone in Scotland?

Aug 30, 2015 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

No one said anything about Thatcher policies being "singularly adverse" for Scotland.
Oh, really? Which Scotland have you been living in?
Have you never heard of "confirmation bias"? I have never yet come across a piece of sociological research that said anything (in effect) other than that a bit less capitalism and a bit more socialism is just what the doctor ordered. Still it's nice to hear someone say "it isn't just Scotland" except that it was Scotland we were talking about.
And when I looked back it seems I have been suck(er)ed into a debate about health which was not what we were talking about and as far as I am concerned we have drifted way, way off topic.
Would you call me a dimwit to my face, by the way, or do you need the anonymity of the internet?
We're done.

Aug 30, 2015 at 6:36 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

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