Monday, September 29, 2008

Jeremy Spoke In Class Today

At this time of international financial turmoil, with once mighty banks falling victim to speculation and tightening credit conditions, and being driven into the arms of larger suitors or forced into the safe harbours offered by nationalisation, we look to our elected representatives for leadership. In such trying times, it’s comforting to know that we have people like Lib Dem MSP Jeremy Purvis on the case to look after our interests.

Admittedly, if he hadn’t been scribbling in today’s ‘Scotsman’ to tell us all how energetic he’s been on our behalf, I confess his efforts would almost certainly have gone unnoticed, at least by me. However, let’s not be churlish – it’s clear that while the world financial system has been imploding, Jeremy has been a very busy little bee indeed. Frankly, my admiration is unbounded.

You see, he’s met personally with representatives of Lloyds TSB and HBOS, to make the case for jobs and competition. Good for him, although the fact that the talks were arranged so all major parties could participate seems to have been omitted from the final version of his article - presumably having been cut by a negligent sub-editor somewhere. However, and this is the really impressive bit – it’s not just the high-heidyins of the banking world with whom he’s been meeting in recent weeks. Oh no – Jeremy’s also been meeting with some ‘ordinary people’ in the past month as well!

Amidst the frenzy of cap-doffing and forelock-tugging which this doubtless inspired amongst a grateful multitude, do you know what these 'ordinary people' have been telling him? Go on – you’ll never guess! It was that the cost of living was going up, particularly the cost of energy and the interest payments on mortgages. You can say what you like about Jeremy and let’s face it, lots of people do, but there’s nothing that gets past him. Clearly, Holyrood’s gain was Scotland Yard’s loss. Or should that be the other way about? I don’t know. Anyway, this is getting off topic.

You see, Jeremy has a cunning plan to help us all through the credit crunch. The Lib Dems want to cut the UK basic rate of income tax by 4p. However, not content with this, Jeremy wants to use the Scottish Parliament’s tax varying powers to slice another 2p on top of this from the Scottish budget. And how is it to be paid for? Well, by eliminating ‘waste’ from Scottish Government spending.

Now, no-one likes paying more tax than they have to. However, if you’re going to call for tax cuts, you should be honest enough to admit how you’re going to make the books balance, and what you’re going to go without in consequence.

Calling for efficiency savings is great, since few object to reducing waste. However, the SNP Government has already committed to finding £1.6bn, achieved through efficiency savings in the public sector of 2% pa. The Lib Dems decried these at the time, even finding criticisms of the freeze in council tax. However, while welcoming their conversion to seeking value for money in the public sector, they’ve now moved from a position of demanding higher public spending to demanding double the efficiency savings they already criticised the SNP for seeking!

Now, of course, most governments have the power to borrow to meet mismatches between revenue and expenditure. Sadly, this option isn’t open to the Scottish Government as things stand. However, the option to borrow is open to the government in London. Given that UK borrowing this year, excluding nationalisations and PFI is in the order of £40bn, the Lib Dems presumably have no problem in seeing this total rise in order to help pay for their tax cuts.

That £40bn debt is funded by international borrowing. International borrowing, you’ll be astonished to learn, involves borrowing money from other countries. Therefore, you’d imagine securing the use of resources from overseas is something which Lib Dems seeking to increase government borrowing would be in favour of.

But wait! Who’s this criticising the SNP for apparently seeking to secure investment from the Qatari sovereign wealth fund? Why, it’s none other than Jeremy Purvis – sneering that "Before the election, Alex Salmond promised that patriotic families would be able to buy bonds for an iconic bridge across the Forth. He never said he meant Qatari families."

I’m sure Jeremy’s just trying and failing to be clever with that remark, so I’ll overlook the rather unpleasant undertones which appear to accompany his statement. Nonetheless, it’s worth having a wee recap of his position as expounded to date:

  • SNP efficiency savings of 2% = unachievable.
  • Lib Dem efficiency savings of 4% = achievable.
  • SNP Council Tax freeze = service cuts.
  • Lib Dem 6p income tax cut = leaves services intact.
  • UK international borrowing = a good thing, no matter what the source.
  • Scottish Futures Trust securing overseas investment = a bad thing.

Notice a pattern? A recurring theme on matters financial seems to be that everyone else is wrong, particularly if they’re in the SNP, and that only he can bring a rigour denied to lesser mortals to such elevated matters. Anyway, given that he had to create his own murmurings to deny about his seeking the Scottish Lib Dem leadership, maybe I shouldn't be too hard on him.

Instead, I'll leave that to a most unlikely source, via a story which I've pinched from Christine Grahame MSP. Apparently together with Jeremy and then Green MSP Chris Balance, all 3 were visiting a school in the Borders to speak to the pupils about politics. As part of a general chat about how they had become involved in politics, Jeremy said that aged 16, he’d done two things – made a living will and joined the Lib Dems.

The mild-mannered Chris Balance, I’m told, simply enquired whether the two events were in any way related...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Otherwise Engaged

This is fantastic - the tears are still rolling down my face :-)

DC Shock

'Not Flash, just Gordon' was how Saatchi & Saatchi suggested portraying the Prime Minister as he took office last year. It's a theme to which he returned himself in his conference speech, as he sought to get across the image of the steady, experienced, reliable hand at the tiller, standing in sharp contrast to the novice(s) whose time(s) had not yet come.

'Who better to have at the helm in this time of international fiduciary brouhaha?', we find ourselves asked by his dwindling band of supporters. He is, after all, 'the most successful British Chancellor in living memory', who is needed, we are told, not just by Britain, but by the rest of the world in order that we might be dragged out of the present banking malaise.

Leaving aside the self-serving spin at work here, the trouble is, no-one seems to have asked the rest of the world whether or not they agree with this assessment. In fact, an indication that this glowing opinion of the PM's abilities might not be universal comes with the news that US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has declined the opportunity to hear the thoughts of our dear leader while he's in Washington DC.

Which ought to tell us, if we hadn't worked it out for ourselves already, that Brown's international standing is of little or no consequence. In Europe, he's forever known as the chap who wouldn't turn up for his photo in Lisbon. In America, if he's known at all, it's as the one who took over from Blair and who is about to hand over to the other guy.

Anyway, I've twice visited Washington DC and deliberately not meet Hank Paulson on either occasion. Going by the Brownite spin, does this make me twice as important as the PM?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

As Ithers See Themselves

I'm not sure it's exactly how I'd put it given the opportunity, but the words of Harald Magnus Andreassen, chief economist at Norwegian brokerage First Securities, and those of Ådne Cappelen from Statistics Norway, given in this interview in Aftenbladet, are certainly worth some thought.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Baillieston by-election - SNP Hold

The SNP has won the election to fill the vacancy in the Baillieston ward of Glasgow City Council. The vacancy arose following John Mason's election as SNP MP for Glasgow East.

Well done to all involved. See you in Glenrothes!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

That David Cairns Letter In Full

This has be one of the most extraordinary resignation letters I've ever seen in politics. Not because it was written at all, though that is extraordinary enough in itself. No, what surprises me is that in a 'genre' which tends to be formulaic, platitudinous and dripping with pathos/bathos, this one manages to be heartfelt, regretful and yet, still bore right to the heart of the Prime Minister's current problem.

Throughout his career, Gordon Brown has been ruthless in briefing, leaking against and generally doing down anyone whom he perceived to be a threat to his political ambitions. The treatment handed out to junior bag carriers who had the cheek to call for a leadership contest has simply been the latest manifestation of what is a deeply unattractive and long-standing character trait.

I'm sure that David Cairns didn't want to be the one to have to call him up on it, but after what must have been a day or so of mounting pressure to 'break cover', he has done so. Cairns has been one of the most diligent, intelligent and loyal Ministers at Brown's disposal, and one of the few ministers who could manage to come across as the voice of sweet reason while defending the seemingly indefensible - a rare skill in politics. If even someone like David Cairns feels that time is up for Brown, then it really is game over.

Dear Gordon

As someone who has never uttered a public word of criticism of our Labour government, far less ever cast a vote against it in the years that I have been an MP, the concept of loyalty to my party and our leader is at the very heart of my political beliefs.

As such, the greatest privilege in my life has been to serve as a Labour minister.

For me it is an article of faith that the worst day of a Labour government is better than the best day of a Tory or SNP one.

This has been borne out by the tremendous progress that we have seen over the past 11 years in communities like my own in Inverclyde where regeneration is replacing years of decay, caused in large measure by destructive Conservative policies.

This is why I got into politics and why loyalty is a price well worth paying.

Yet despite our achievements, if surveys of public opinion and recent byelections are to be believed, we find ourselves in a position where we appear to have fallen well behind a Tory opposition of quite breathtaking shallowness with no answers to the challenges that our country faces, and an SNP administration that has betrayed pensioners, students, homeowners, and is decimating the voluntary sector.

Of course governments in all countries are facing problems and it would be disingenuous to argue otherwise, but this is not the only challenge we face.

It was in this context that some colleagues requested nomination forms for a leadership contest.

When asked my opinion I counselled against this as I argued that it could only lead to further division and internal wrangling.

Nevertheless they went ahead, their names found their way into the public domain, and, to my dismay, the current crisis began.

However it is the response to this action that has caused me most unhappiness.

Rather than seizing the opportunity to open out to the broader party membership a discussion that is being held in private, our response as a government has been to suggest that these were the actions of a tiny number of disaffected people who have taken leave of their senses, are part of some larger plot and are entirely unrepresentative of the PLP.

These were among the more charitable responses.

I do not believe any of these things to be the case, though I understand the frustration of those good comrades who hold a different point of view.

In any event the debate is now on.

The issue of leadership and direction are being discussed and argued over, and to go on denying it is hardly credible. I wish it were otherwise.

To that end I believe that the time has come to take the bull by the horns and allow a leadership debate to run its course.

I know that it is incompatible to hold this view and to remain a serving minister, and although it had not been my intention to resign, I have reluctantly concluded that it is the only honourable course of action left open.

Yours sincerely

David Cairns

Member of Parliament for Inverclyde

Friday, September 12, 2008

Comment Moderation

Has been turned on. I'm doing this as a temporary measure, because quite simply, I wish to close the debate on the post below.

It's not something I'd ordinarily be comfortable doing. However, people have expressed their views, and frankly, given one of the comments left already, I can only see matters deteriorating from there.

Apologies to Scottish Unionist (whom I'm sure would like to continue in his usual civilised manner), but this one's run its course. Normal commenting policy will recommence in due course.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What A Load Of Rubbish

Bring back Wendy. That’s all I can say after a shoddy and shabby performance by Cathy Jamieson at today’s First Minister’s Questions.

It’s debatable whether matters of internal party discipline are really suitable fodder for FMQ’s. However, despite the injunctions of the Presiding Officer, I’m inclined towards the view that you should be able to raise whatever subject you like and to take the plaudits or brickbats which then result.

Brickbats, sad to say, is all Cathy Jamieson deserves today. She opted to raise the ‘issue’ of SNP Cllr Jahangir Hanif, recently suspended after a video emerged of him firing an automatic weapon in Pakistan, and comments made by the SNP’s John Mason MP on the affair.

John Mason appears to have made the perfectly reasonable observation that some of the criticism of Cllr Hanif had a distasteful whiff of racism about it. However, this has been presented subsequently by the Evening Times and Ms Jamieson, inter alia, as an allegation from Mr Mason that anyone criticising Cllr Hanif’s behaviour was therefore racist.

Of course, he had said no such thing, to the Evening Times or anyone else. But that hasn’t stopped one Tory MSP who should know better, from having a short circuit of the brain and likening his comments to approval of beheadings and female circumcision. Nor has it stopped a Labour Party still licking its wounds after the Glasgow East by-election, from promoting one side of a rather ugly family dispute in an attempt to discredit Cllr Hanif.

Some points which may be worth observing:

  • Cllr Hanif is currently going through a messy divorce.
  • The video of Cllr Hanif firing the weapon on a family video could only have entered the public domain via a family member.
  • Curiously, the Daily Record managed to obtain a copy of a letter by Cllr Hanif’s eldest daughter to the First Minister and to print extracts on 5 September.
  • Labour, I understand, now has the full text of the letter and is desperately hawking it to anyone who will read it, or better still, print it.
  • Clearly, someone, somewhere, is determined to do harm to Cllr Hanif, be that personal, political or both.
  • Labour, to their shame, have now taken sides in a private family dispute, solely to further a local political objective.

Is this really the best they can do? Exploiting an acrimonious family breakdown so as to throw mud at the Government? Twisting the words of an MP to try and suggest a non-existent allegation of racism against political opponents? It’s so far beyond pathetic, I’m not sure the English language has adequate capacity to express the extent of my revulsion.

Iain Gray has made much in his leadership campaign of putting an end to ‘playground politics’. Right now, from their newly plumbed depths of sewer-rat politicking, even being able to approach the quality threshold implied by ‘playground politics’ seems but a distant aspiration.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Go Andy

All the best for tonight to Andy Murray, as he takes on Roger Federer in the US Open Tennis Final.

Thanks to little things like my taking umbrage at seeing the SNP symbol depicted as a noose on the front page of the Sun, I have a Freesat box at home rather than one from Sky (nothing personal, Rupe - but your editors pee’d me off and frankly, you’re already rich enough). So, unless the match is being covered on one of the freebie foreign channels like Abu Dhabi TV, I guess it’ll be Radio Scotland for me, or a repeated pressing of the ‘refresh’ button to keep tabs on his progress.

I’ve heard a couple of whinges today on the radio about Murray’s ‘bad attitude’. You know what? I think he’s got a great attitude. He wants to win, it hurts when he doesn’t and he’s not afraid to let it show. When he doesn’t win, he’s honest enough to recognise why and then goes away to work on it. When he does, he’s gracious enough to downplay it, credit his opponent and grounded enough to recognise what in his performance could have done with improvement.

Scottish (and English for that matter) sporting history is littered with ‘gallant’ losers and ‘good sports’. Personally, I got fed up long ago with winning the ‘Best Fans’ and the ‘Fair Play’ awards, only to get bumped out in the first round and be on the first plane home. We can handle the plucky loser all right, but the big bad winner seems to present a more challenging psychological problem for us, as if it’s somehow vulgar in victory to be seen as caring too much or to have tried too hard.

If you’re going to be a champion, you need more than just the talent – you need the winning mentality and yes, sometimes a streak of arrogance and grit into the bargain. I remember Murray at Wimbledon in 2005 against Nalbandian, when the Argentine hit a lucky shot which just scraped the net. He rubbed the top of the net and looked heavenward, as if God were on his side. Murray managed to get a point after hitting the net in the same fashion in the next game, and rubbed the net in a similar way. He didn’t look skywards, though – he just stared straight into Nalbandian’s eyes as he did it. It was spine tingling – a wordlessly eloquent two fingers which told his opponent exactly what he could do with his gamesmanship – and the crowd loved him for it.

That’s the sort of X-Factor which a champion needs, and Andy Murray has it in spades. He and his mother have achieved it all pretty much by themselves, and they’ve secured the best training possible for him, sometimes maybe because of, but more often in spite of the blazer brigade at the LTA. If he wins tonight, he’ll be entitled to pump his fist and let out a roar of satisfaction and tell the critics to go to hell. And if he doesn’t? He’ll learn the lessons, and come back stronger the next time, exactly as he’s always done before. Go Andy – make us proud.

UPDATE: Oh well. I tuned in just as Murray started to rally in the second set, but Federer was just too strong for him this time round. Still, Murray's reaction just goes to vindicate everything said above. He's now officially World number 4 and if he doesn't make it right to the top, it won't be for lack of ability or the wrong attitude.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Scotsman And LIT

As promised, here's the rebuttal to the Scotsman's continued vendetta against Local Income Tax. Anyone would think their editor might be in danger of paying a bit more or something the way they carry on...

1. Local income tax (LIT) will leave a £750 million financial black hole in Scotland. Others have suggested it could be as high as £1.3 billion.


False. This figure relies on current Council Tax Benefit (roughly £400m) being removed from the Scottish block. The rest will be made up from central (Scottish) government.

2. LIT will make Scotland the highest-taxed part of the UK and this might encourage businesses to leave.


It’ll do no such thing, because council tax is being removed. Replacing one tax with another, which even its supporters admit will collect a lower amount, can not possibly represent an increase in the overall tax burden.

Perhaps we could lock Yvette Cooper and the IoD in a room together so they can make up their minds as to whether LIT would be a tax increase or a decrease. Just a thought...

3. There will be serious service cuts at council level unless local income tax is set at 4.5p or higher.


See point 1.

4. LIT may be illegal under the provisions of the Scotland Act because it is unclear whether a local tax can be replaced by a national tax.


Gotta love the use of the word ‘may’ here. The only basis for saying that LIT would be illegal is if someone were to produce a statutory definition of the word ‘local’ in the Scotland Act. Since no such definition exists and given local taxation is very clearly a devolved matter, let’s move on.

5. Replacing an unfair tax with an unworkable tax will cause more misery than we can know.


This is a personal assertion and nothing more. As for unworkable, on a sliding scale of difficulty running from 'easy-peasy' to 'Land Value Tax', it's sitting quite comfortably towards the easier end of the scale.

6. There will be a 'damaging' impact on service personnel, who would have to pay the new tax in full, but currently have their council tax reduced. This could lower morale and cause yet more recruitment problems.


Service personnel already have deductions made to their salaries to pay for their council tax, so there's no reason why dispensation couldn't also be given under LIT.

It’s possible that higher ranks may end up paying more. However, I’ll bet the marginal rate of tax applicable to a Brigadier is unlikely to be a major factor in keeping people out of army recruitment centres.

7. There will be serious anomalies over people living in England but working in Scotland. There are also concerns that people may register as living in England to avoid paying.


Presumably these cross border commuters, even though they be they ever so few in number, pay council tax somewhere at present. If your home is in England, you'll continue to pay CT. If you have a home in Scotland and England, then there's already well established residency rules for liability for the 3p tax varying powers which could come into play.

8. Hard-pressed students, who are currently exempt from the council tax, would have to pay.


This is an argument to exempt students from Income Tax full stop. In any case, if you're earning above the tax threshold, which many students will not be, then there's no reason why you shouldn't be contributing on that portion of your earnings above the earnings threshold.

9. Scottish firms would be placed at a competitive disadvantage to companies in other parts of the UK because LIT additions to wage packets would be passed on to customers.


Rubbish. Income tax would be no more passed on to consumers via staff wage claims than is council tax at present. If anything, given the burden it takes off the poorer paid, it might ease pressure on employer payroll costs.

10. LIT will take £70 million from vital city council services which will lead to severe cuts.


See point 1. If the argument is that Glasgow has an insufficient tax base, it seems to be ignoring the likely level of central government grant support which would continue to come to local authorities.

11. The PAYE system does not easily deal with taxpayers who receive income from different sources, including pensioners receiving pensions from different employers or those who have various part-time jobs – this will particularly affect those on low incomes who will be exposed to incorrect PAYE codes, and these practical issues should not be underestimated.


There'll be no arguments from me on this one. This is a serious concern, and while not insurmountable, it's something which needs to be thought through.

12. Regardless of the rate of tax chosen, there will be uncertainty as to the yield that can be obtained, as revenues derived from income taxes can be more volatile.


This is true, although it's possible to overstate the effects given the relatively low proportion of the overall local government settlement will come from LIT.

13. LIT would be technically complex and challenging to implement because of the complexities of tax law, and trying to sort out what would happen to the £400 million council tax benefit.


Indeed. It's still not an argument for not going ahead and in fairness to the institute, I don't think they intended for their measured comments to be given the Chris Hoy treatment by the Scotsman.

14. Investors and businesses who are thinking of coming to Scotland will be scared away because of the extra income tax.


Oh, behave yourselves. See point 2.

15. LIT probably breaks European law by removing control of raising local finances from councils. It could break Article 9 of the European charter of local self-government, which guarantees the right of councils to raise a large part of their own finances.


That word 'probably' again. LIT will be a tax levied specifically to pay for local services. Even describing this one as 'recondite' doesn't do it justice.

16. Wealthy people who have unearned income from sources like share dividends can avoid LIT whilst poorer people would have to pay.


They can avoid it on their unearned income, but not their earned income. In any case, over a million Scots earn less than £160 [SOURCE: HMRC] from their savings and investments. 3% of £160 is £5 – is the STUC really suggesting that it's worth rifling through the bank accounts, ISAs and BT shares of over a million Scots, just to extract an additional £5 or less from them in LIT?

17. The UK tax system does not give across-the-board allowances for disability and, in the absence of such allowances, the burden of LIT will be higher on disabled people than on the general body of taxpayers.


This may be true, but that's a broader argument for tax reform rather than one which affects LIT particularly.

18. LIT will be more intrusive into people's lives because it would require far greater knowledge of their personal circumstances than a property tax would.


If you class making a declaration of income to the collecting authorities as an intrusion, then yes, it probably is.

19. At present, a cohort of carers are currently "disregarded" (treated as not living in the property) when calculating council tax. Households with multiple taxpayers will end up paying more and this has the potential to include more carers who are not currently liable for council tax.


Possibly, but carers on low earnings will find themselves paying very little, or indeed nothing at all. If you are in receipt of the carers allowance, you need to be spending more than 35 hours a week looking after someone, so your opportunities for earning anything to put you above the earnings threshold are unlikely to be very great.

20. The £281 million of savings that need to be made to create a 3p local income tax could be used instead to reduce the burden of the council tax.


It could, but that still wouldn't make it fair. Nor is a call to bung more cash at adding ever more exemptions to the CT or simply to further reduce it much of an an argument against LIT.

21. LIT would bring unwelcome extra bureaucracy and cost to businesses because of all the extra paperwork created in sorting out employees' income tax. Lib Dem proposals for different rates for different areas would make it even worse.


I have some sympathy with this view. However, I think the impact can be overstated. For larger companies, suitable payroll software should make light work of the administration required, just as it does with pension contributions.

22. Families will be worse off, or there will be cuts in public services, because the 3p rate will not be enough to fund current service levels.


Nonsense which could have come straight from a Labour Party press release. See points 1 & 2.

23. Water and sewerage charges are collected by local authorities on behalf of Scottish Water – the consultation did not present any proposals on how such charges will be set and collected under LIT.


True, but again, not an argument against LIT per se.

24. LIT would be bad for the environment because it will take away the flexibility needed to bring in specific charges for rubbish collection.


Let me get this straight... LIT would be bad for the environment because it might not let us do something that we're already not doing? Much silliness. Andrew Neil and the Barclay Brothers have a lot to answer for the tripe this lot have churned out– at least they're merging with a more sensible crowd now over at Reform Scotland.

25. The SNP's centralising LIT proposal reduces the lack of control [sic] that councils have over local finances.


'Reduces the lack of control?' A good thing, surely?

You know, I have some sympathy with the argument I suspect they actually made. I just see merit in having the rate set nationally, at least until things settle down. Again, though, hardly a clinching argument.

So, some concerns which are substantial, nothing which is insurmountable, and some hysterics from a few of the usual suspects whom you'd think really ought to know better. And despite the headline, there's not a single argument against LIT to be found which even approaches being remotely conclusive.

Right, I'm away for my tea now. However, do please read Jeff's version of the same exercise - it's also only fair to point out that he did beat me to the punch with this one by several hours!

25 Reasons Why 'The Scotsman' Is Rubbish, And 1 Reason Why It Isn't

The Scotsman, as part of the stable's protracted girnfest about the Local Income Tax, today gives us 25 reasons why LIT would be a bad idea. Suffice to say, most are complete twaddle, and I'll be rebutting every single one later this evening when I have time.

However, it's difficult to be overly critical when they also have the stout good sense to publish letters such as the first one here.

Sir Kenneth Calman says of his commission of the great and the good: "It is quite wrong to imply we are not interested in engaging with all shades of Scottish opinion" (Letters, 2 September).

The annexe to the commission's first set of minutes, from 28 April, 2008 and available to all on its website, states that "the commission starts from the position that Scotland should remain a distinctive part of the United Kingdom", which rather contradicts the statement in the next bullet-point that "the commission will consider the distribution of powers between the Scottish Parliament and Westminster without preconceptions".

Indeed, it even goes on to suggest that any change to these bounds for deliberation would "be justified only if it serves the people of Scotland better and secures the continuation of the Union".

There you have it. No preconceptions at all, except perhaps for those it already had when it began. Extraordinarily, given the commission's conceit of being "evidence-based", we learn that even if it could be proven beyond all doubt that independence would serve the people of Scotland better, that option would be discounted instantly by the commission because it does not secure "the continuation of the Union".

Since we must assume these minutes represent a true and accurate reflection of proceedings, it is clear that nationalists need not apply, at least not if they want their views to be considered in any meaningful way.

So, is Sir Kenneth being deliberately disingenuous in his claim that he wants to engage with all shades of opinion or does he genuinely not understand the contradiction at the heart of these statements? I must say, none of the possible explanations bodes particularly well for the quality of the final outcome of his deliberations.

Western Avenue
Ellon, Aberdeenshire

I really couldn't have put it better myself. Oh, wait a minute...

Mentioned in Dispatches

Crikey - the Google alerts are fair going daft this morning...

Someone called Mark Wadsworth is having a bit of a go here and here. The crux of it is he believes in a Land Value Tax, while I think LIT is the way to go. We've had a disagreement in his comments section about the effects of LIT, but it seems to be getting a wee bit lively. Anyway, go and take a look and let us know where you think one, the other or perhaps even both are going wrong.

Of greater consequence, my good pal Angus MacNeil MP has been busy scribbling away on LIT for 'Comment is Free' over at the Guardian, and he's been kind enough to give me a little mention. I knew all those hours trawling Treasury and HMRC reports would reap a dividend one day... :-)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Since Everyone Else Is Doing It

So... 9th best Scottish blog (despite spending the whole year outside Scotland!); by extension the 3rd best SNP blog; 48th best left-of-centre blog and 137th best overall in the yookay. Thanks to all who voted - room for improvement clearly, but it's certainly better than being ranked as #4 prostitute in all Khazakhstan :-)