Thursday, December 30, 2010

Scottish Government Attacked by Iain McMillan - Again

A piece I did for Newsnet Scotland:

by Alex Porter, Economy Editor

Seasonal messages are popular with public figures. The President of the USA has a Christmas message. In the UK the Queen and in Scotland the First Minister both have seasonal messages and so apparently does Iain McMillan of CBI Scotland.

In his New Year message the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Scotland director says SNP Ministers have implemented "too many policies that are likely to hinder business and the economy and for which the Scottish Government deserves to be sharply criticised".

The Economic Case

The first of the SNP's sins and one of Iain's recurring themes is 'cancelled transport projects'. Does this criticism ring true? The SNP have ploughed money into various transport projects such as the completion of the M74, completing the M80 to motorway standard, the Forth replacement crossing project and the completion of the Airdrie to Bathgate rail link which is the largest railway development in Scotland in a century. Let's also not forget the Edinburgh trams project foisted on the capital by the unionist parties opposition bloc vote at Holyrood at considerable cost to the taxpayer and now considerable pain.

However, aside from misrepresenting the Scottish Government, what of the economic merits of such transport projects? Britain's total debt including household debt is 466% of GDP. This is the second worst in the world behind Japan. However Japan has a manufactuing base and its debts, unlike the UK's, are largely owned by its own citizens.

Britain is argued by many international investors to be the most endangered economy in the developed world. In November, UK borrowing reached a staggering and unprecedented £23.3bn. As the UK government can't meet its debt payments it, along with the Bank of England, is simply printing money and so is technically bankrupt. You'd imagine that business leaders would be advising the government to save its money. Not Iain McMillan. Presented with his now regular Scottish media platform this hard-nosed capitalist is arguing for keynsian-style economic stimulus.

Given that the UK is in the midst of an economic crisis which is well beyond a mere recession where less people are going to work, less business trips are being made and there's a dip in tourism, the burden on the transport system is sharply diminished. You would expect that against this backdrop, 'business leaders' such as McMillan would applaud the SNP government for not spending money to buy votes - which is one of the reasons that Western economies are in the mess they are.

Not Iain who has embraced Scottish Labour's transport hobby horse with relish. Would the contracts for said transport projects go to consortia Iain lobbies on behalf of per chance? Is Iain McMillan part of the economic disease which is eating away at the Western economies - croney capitalism?

For some reason big business wants socialism for itself but not for the working population. The poor and the working population get the capitalist medicine. They have to live with the economic consequences of their circumstances - pull their socks up or perish by the wayside. Big business doesn't have to fight to survive however. Business Oligarchs such as those who Iain represents want state benefit hand-outs in the form of bailouts and government contracts. You see, they have rights and privileges that the rest of us mere mortals don't.

As the UK's public finances are in such a parlous state, Scotland's block grant is to be slashed to the tune of £1.3 billion. The Scottish government is critical of the UK government's austerity measures. They are right to be. There is absolutely no evidence that they will do anything but undermine economic performance. The evidence of Latvia, Argentina, Greece and now Ireland points to economic mayhem as a conequence of austerity.

You can look at the problem in two ways. Firstly, government spending is spiralling out of control and secondly, government tax receipts have collapsed.

Austerity will reduce spending but it will almost certainly reduce income too. The question is by how much? Cutting public sector jobs and benefit allowances will cause a dramatic reduction in the population's expendible income meaning less VAT revenues for the government and triggering a fall in retail sector jobs which in turn will spark a steep rise in overall social security expenditure. These job cuts will also see more mortgage payment defaults meaning downward pressures on house prices. As interest payments go up as forecast, this process will multiply causing people to spend less as they strive to keep a roof over their heads.

For his clients Iain McMillan wants stimulus and juicy government contracts. For you and me he advocates austerity cuts. When not talking on behalf of the large business interests he represents Keynes is suddenly not Iain's cup of tea:

"John Swinney continues to berate the UK government for spending cuts, but the UK government's approach is supported by us in the CBI."

The outcome of austerity is at best uncertain but to be as a sound economic strategy it must first pass the test of being equitable. Is it?

The UK is in its death throws because of the fraud which is endemic across the financial sector. Who is to suffer? Not the banks - they get bailouts. Not big business - they get government contracts if lobbyists such as Iain get their way. No, the ordinary working citizen should be forced to cough up again and again and again.

Who else does McMillan represent? Oh yes, supermarkets.

In his November Budget John Swinney said that from next year retail properties with a rateable value of more than £750,000 would pay a higher business supplement - an increase he hopes will raise an additional £30 million in 2011-12. McMillan is a bit perturbed by this explaining that Swinney's policy "discriminates" against supermarkets "risking increased prices for consumers, fewer jobs and less investment in that sector".

Let's think about this for a second. Small retailers and indeed farmers all over Scotland have been put out of business by the predatory tactics of supermarkets. This has caused enormous damage to communities. How so? Simple economics: I spend a pound in the barbers across the road, the barber spends a pound in the butchers, the butcher spends a pound in the bar and so on. It's called money velocity. This keeps a community wealthy.

When the supermarket swaggers into town the money that goes into their tills goes immediately into the Swiss bank accounts of their shareholders and the community they 'serve' becomes blighted by social exclusion and alienation. Before there were skilled jobs running shops, keeping books and inventories, working with suppliers and with the local community but after, all you can do is push shopping trolleys around, sign on the dole or emigrate. Is this the kind of sound economic policy a government should pursue on behalf of the nation it represents?

That is the kind of Scotland Iain McMillan's 'leadership' will take us to. Unemployed and/or unskilled, bare minimum of public services and impoverished, barren and debt-laiden communities marked by supermarkets, betting shops and charity outlets. Those Iain represents will be as neo-feudal lords and the gap between the rich and poor akin to Victorian Britain.

While the SNP are going to make it more difficult for supermarkets to, according to well-rehearsed business plans, savage community retailers and farmers across the land they have also abolished business rates for many thousands of small business - the back bone of all communities and economies. None of this was mentioned in McMillan's New Year message and by extension those in the Scottish media who parroted the message.

The Agenda

Does McMillan's agenda go beyond representing big business interests many of whom are headquartered furth of Scotland?

Well, Iain is not happy that the SNP government spent £1 million on its National Conversation on the constitution. Yes, £1 million is a lot of money for individual taxpayers but not a lot in terms of government spending. The AV referendum that no-one is interested in will cost £millions, the trial of Tommy Sheridan cost £5 million, the wars £billions, the bailouts £trillions but £1 million spent on consulting the population about its national constitution exercises Iain quite a bit.

Iain McMillan, Director CBI ScotlandPerhaps that's because Iain McMillan (pictured) was on the Calman Commission which cost many £millions. The Calman Commission was also a discussion about the constitution but was one comprising the unionist parties which set it up after the election of the SNP government in 2007. Observers note that its function was to contain the new SNP government's drive towards economic independence. One of the ideas rejected out of hand by this unionist commission was full fiscal autonomy. The reason was not that it wouldn't have helped Scotland, it was rejected because it might have harmed the Union.

But how has the Calman Commission proposals been received in Scotland? Eminent economists have described it as transferring "not nearly enough" economic powers and as "dangerously flawed" and "unworkable". Indeed only last month a group of prominent Scottish businessmen and women and academics took out adverts in Scottish newspapers calling for Scotland to be given more powers than Calman proposed.

Furthermore the Scottish Parliament's Scotland Bill Committee, which is supposed to scrutinise the powers, is chaired by Wendy Alexander who, as leader of the Labour group in Holyrood, resigned amid accusations of financial corruption in 2008.

The recent Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2010 shows that the electorate wants the Scottish parliament to have significantly more powers, including 57 percent favouring full tax powers and 62 percent wanting Scotland to have control over benefit payments. Calman falls well short of that desire. Scotland's prestigious Council of Economic Advisors has argued in favour of economic independence so that Scotland can be sheltered from the dire state that the UK economy is in whilst keeping the surplus that is currently shown in Scotland national accounts (GERS) to benefit businesses and Scottish institutions like the university sector.

This polling evidence and case cuts no ice with Iain McMillan. To understand why, we must keep in mind that many of the interests that he represents are not headquartered in Scotland - they simply have Scottish 'operations'.

A number of years ago McMillan was slapped down by his own membership for his aggressive anti-SNP rhetoric in the lead up to elections in Scotland. Many of his Scottish members are supportive of the SNP and felt misrepresented by their Director General.

What do others think and what are we to make of Iain McMillan then? His economics shifts between 'keynesian' subsidies for his clients and austerity for the general public. He misrepresents his own members and involves himself in constitutional politics, being found often in the company of leading unionists some of whom are tainted with allegations of corruption.

Do his public messages on behalf of the CBI, and which are regularly covered in the pro-unionistScotsman newspaper as "Leading business figures launch a scathing attack" on the "SNP's record" tell us anything useful about Scotland's economy or the Scottish government's economic record?

Perhaps as a contrarian indicator. Other than that all we can really decipher is that Scotland's economy seems to be of secondary importance to Iain, well behind the narrow business interests he represents and way behind his political agenda.

Julian Assange's deal with Canongate leaked

A piece I did for Newsnet Scotland:

by Alex Porter

Canongate, the Edinburgh based independent publishers, has signed a deal with Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange to publish his memoirs.

For the rights Assange will receive $800,000 from American publisher Alfred A. Knopf and £325,000 ($502,000) from Canongate. Assange explained that as Wikileaks has been prevented by Visa, MasterCard and PayPal from receiving donations the money will go toward paying his legal bills, related to allegations of rape against him in Sweden, and helping keep the WikiLeaks operations going. The deal is a risk for the publishers who could face the same sanctions from the credit card firms as Wikileaks itself.

Wikileaks and indeed Assange are now household names around the world after distributing 250,000 leaked US State Department documents to newspaper editors leading to public disclosure of diplomatically sensitive opinions which have been embarrassing to the White House.

Sensationally, the cables leaked to The Guardian newspaper showed that the last UK Labour government was privately promoting the early release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. At the same time Labour politicians were attacking the Scottish government over the decision to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds claiming that the release was an embarrassment to Scotland. Indeed, Labour MSPs called for the resignation of Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill over the issue.

There was also a campaign, given prominence by BBC Scotland, implying that the SNP had released Megrahi as part of a business deal with BP. The leaks exonerated the SNP government and showed that it was infact Labour leaders who pushed for Megrahi's release on commercial grounds. BBC Scotland did not give prominance to this aspect of the leaks. Instead Reporting Scotland on the day of the leaks painted an altogether different picture of their general thrust by presenting them as having damaged the First Minister and Scottish government.

Ironically, the Edinburgh based publishers were trying to keep the Assange deal secret but news leaked out. Last week the Brisbane Times said: "The British publisher was trying to keep the book secret but, as Assange would know more than most, things get out when they are not intended to. The deal was done by Canongate,.."

The Assange deal is a coup for the Edinburgh firm Canongate Books and its Managing Director Jamie Byng best known for discovering Yann Martel's novel Life of Pi. The memoirs, the manuscript of which Assange must deliver by March for publication later in 2011, will undoubtedly be hugely popular. In another irony involving Canongate and the Whitehouse, Byng previously secured the rights to publish President Obama's book Dreams From My Father.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Michael Forsyth calls for Referendum on Scotland Bill

A piece I did for Newsnet Scotland:

by Alex Porter

Former Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth is calling for a referendum on the Scotland Bill arguing that the public has a democratic right to decide whether or not they want to transfer powers over income tax from Westminster to the Scottish parliament.

The Scotland Bill is a Westminster piece of legislation and is the outcome of the work of the Calman Commission chaired by Sir Kenneth Calman.

The Commission, set up by a unionist coalition of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties after the SNP won the 2007 Holyrood election, was widely perceived as a strategy designed to contain the new SNP government's demands for economic independence.

Michael Forsyth, now Baron Forsyth of Drumlean, is to table an amendment before the House of Lords arguing that there is a clear principle for a referendum on the plans. His case points to the 1997 referendum question which asked whether Scots wanted their parliament to have the power to vary income tax at a rate of plus or minus 3p on the basic rate. The new tax plans are significantly wider argues Forsyth and empowers MSPs to keep income tax 10p lower than the rest of the UK and no ceiling on rises.

Forsyth's point is a moot one as, unlike the 1997 referendum, the Scottish public has no real say over the bill which will define the tax powers and other powers of their parliament in Holyrood. He said:

"When the bill comes before the Lords, I will table an amendment that requires them to have a referendum on the tax-raising powers."

"I think if you are going to do something like that, those in favour have to put their case."

Calman: Insufficient and "unworkable"

The moves by Lord Forsyth will be welcomed by those who want to see not less but more powers for the Scottish parliament and who regard the Calman Commission proposals as insufficient and potentially damaging.

Scotland's prestigious Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) recently concluded in their Third Annual Report that the Calman Commission proposals "do not go nearly far enough" and that "full financial responsibility" with "control of the major tax levers" is Scotland's "best chance" to maximise its economic potential. Marc Coleman, former economist at the European Central Bank, said of the proposals: 'Scotland requires immediate fiscal autonomy and Calman falls well short of fiscal autonomy.'

As Briton's now face sovereign debt, economic and currency crises, Scots appear to be warming to the idea of economic independence as a means of sheltering Scotland from the parlous state of the UK economy.

A recent opinion poll by TNS shows that the union is now supported by a minority of Scots (44 percent). The Scottish electorate has shown in the recent Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2010 that it would like the Scottish parliament to assume significantly more powers, including full control over taxes (57%) and benefit payments (62%). The Scottish people's desire for 'full control' over taxes is significantly more that what the Scotland Bill is offering.

The Calman proposals have not only been criticised for being insufficient but heavily berated by a number of eminent economists such as Jim and Margart Cuthbert and Andrew Hughes-Hallett as "seriously flawed" and "unworkable". The Cuthberts said:

"Our view is that the Calman proposals on income tax powers are seriously flawed, and pose a major danger to the Scottish economy..

"Implementation of the Calman proposals on income tax would be extremely dangerous; with a real risk that the perverse incentives implicit in the proposals would push Scotland into a worsening cycle of increasing Scottish income tax rates and relative economic decline."

The Scottish parliament's Scotland Bill Committee which is to scrutinise the bill, is chaired by former Labour leader in Scotland, Wendy Alexander. Controversially, Ms Alexander was forced to resign in 2008 owing to allegations of financial corruption.

The probity of the entire process leading to the Scotland Bill was further questioned after it emerged that Jim Gallagher had been invited to be a key advisor to the committee. Mr Gallagher, who was chosen by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to oversee devolution, is known to be hostile to the Scottish parliament gaining more powers and oversaw the writing of the Bill meaning he has overseen the Bill from all points of input. He recently penned an article for The Telegraph with the title: "Why the Scotland Bill is good news for England"

Despite the polling evidence, current Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, who launched the Scotland Bill at the end of last month described it as: "The settled will of the Scottish people." A reference to former Labour leader John Smith's famous quotation in relation to Scotland's desire to have its own parliament.

Commenting on Lord Forsyth’s call for a referendum on the London parties’ Scotland Bill proposals, SNP Campaign Director Angus Robertson MP said "any referendum must include the options of independence and financial responsibility since polls show the ambitions of the Scottish people go beyond the limited ambitions of the Bill."

AV Referendum

Michael Forsyth's plan to table a referendum in the House of Lords will draw attention to the controversial AV referendum which will be held on the same day as the Scottish and Welsh parliamentary elections. The choice of May 5th for the referendum caused outrage in Scotland and led to claims of disrespect from the UK government.

It sees a curious situation where a widely sought referendum on independence is denied Scots whereas a referendum on the AV voting system, which few support, is forced upon the nation. The move has raised questions over the democratic conduct and legitimacy of a UK coalition government. The Tories and the LibDem parties registered third and fourth place in terms of votes cast in Scotland at the last Westminster election.

This democratic inconsistency has lead to a campaign by the Bella Caledonia outlet which calls on Scots to spoil their AV referendum ballot paper by writing the word 'Independence' across it. Spoiled ballots must be counted and the 'result' announced and the team behind the campaign hope that by spoiling their ballot papers then Scots can turn the tables on the Tory/LibDem coalition and force their own 'independence' referendum on London.

Scotland needs exit strategy as Sterling tumbles and UK tax receipts collapse

A piece I did for Newsnet Scotland:

by Alex Porter, Economy Editor

This month, in a single week, the British pound fell 3 percent against the US dollar.

There are varying accounts among financial analysts as to the causes of sterling's fall. One reason given is the UK bank's exposure to Spain, which Moody’s has warned could soon be downgraded. Others point to the UK economy's integration with and heavy debt exposure to Ireland, which Moody’s did actually downgrade last week by 5-levels to Baa1. Such a grade is just shy of the 'junk' category.

No doubt sterling’s weakness is partly attributable to these factors, however the brutal reality is that the real underlying problem is the growing realisation that borrowing by the British government has spiralled out of control.

On Tuesday last week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that UK government borrowing for the single month of November was £23.3bn. The figure is a record outstripping the previous highest month at £21.1bn by £2.2bn.

The following chart illustrates the magnitude of the problem as UK government debt nears £1 trillion:

Graph courtesy of

Earlier this year, UK government revenue (the blue line) once again began to grow. The media reported this as an indication that the British economy was on the mend after the shock of hundreds of billions of pounds being spent bailing out Northern Rock and the UK government’s rescue of most of Britain's major banks in the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

But facts are chiels that winna ding - the figures tell another story. The chart above shows that expenditure (the red line) remains on the same upward trajectory, escalating unrestrained every quarter.


Some argue that the government should borrow and spend in order to 'stimulate' the economy. It is. However government debt is now rising at roughly the same rate as revenue growth and the gap is not closing. We might deduce from this that increases in government revenues are now dependent on increasing the government's deficit. If true then the £10.2 trillion (forecast UK debt by 2015) question is what happens to government revenues if the markets, believing these debts are not going to be repaid without devaluing the currency further (quantative easing), stop lending to the UK government?

Clearly, Britain PLC is running straight into a brick wall.


The ConDem government believes that austerity is the answer and have planned £81bn in public spending cuts along with a hike in VAT next month. However, as we see above, if government borrowing stops government revenues will decline. To make matters worse putting tens of thousands of public sector workers on the dole will mean less income tax revenues and a larger social security spend. Reducing public sector payroll and benefit payments will be mean less expendable income and so a drop in VAT receipts and retail sector performance.

Public confidence in the ability of austerity to solve Britain's sovereign debt crisis is plummeting with more people now believing it will have negative economic effects (43 percent) than positive (40 percent). Indeed the evidence from countries around the world who have taken the austerity medicine such as Argentina is that austerity dramatically worsens economic performance.


Is there a third option for the UK treasury?

The ConDem government could cut expenditure by ending Britain's military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, scrap Trident, declare its banks insolvent, repudiate the bailouts, renogiate PFI and change to a non debt-based system of money.

These policies will, one imagines, be resisted and so the UK government's third option is quantative easing (QE) also called money printing or devaluation. This policy inflates away debts (monetisation). If a government has no money to pay its debts it can simply print more and pay that way. This devalues investments denominated in sterling and so it would only be a matter of time for the markets to calculate that UK debt will be repaid in money that is losing value. These international investors are sophisticated and will move to currencies or other investment categories which yield not just nominal returns but actual profits.

Are there any benefits from currency depreciation? Well, despite a recent 20 percent devaluation against key trading partners there have been no discernable benefits at all (see above table). At the same time the euro which has been relatively stronger has nevertheless seen Germany's unemployment figures reach record lows.

Scotland's Exit Strategies

With Britain PLC on the brink, Scotland has now no choice but to review its options.

On the table is the Scotland Bill which is the product of the Calman Commission's recommendations. World-renowned economists and business leaders have called these proposals "dangerously flawed" and "unworkable". This Westminster legislation will leave Scotland exposed to the UK economy and some observers speculate that that's what it's meant to do.

Also on the table is economic independence. This policy is supported by Scotland's eminent Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) and means Scotland taxes itself to pay for its own public spending. Scotland would be protected from the UK's deficit and so the surplus in Scotland's accounts (GERS) would stay in Scotland and could be reinvested in public services and support Scotland's university sector which because of the UK austerity measures now faces serious budget cuts.

The most serious downside to this option comes from the UK's monetary policy. If the ConDem government and the Bank of England continue to devalue sterling which seems likely then all imports into Scotland will become more expensive and this will drive up inflation meaning a serious diminution of Scots' standard of living. This problem will multiply as UK interest rates are raised to curb inflationary pressures.

Perhaps the most sensible exit strategy for Scotland may then be independence. With independence Scotland could issue its own currency creating the economic stability that Scottish businesses and institutions need in order to plan for the future with confidence.

The post-independence Scottish government would need to launch a national debate and referendum on which currency Scotland should use. The euro is under extreme pressure and there are increasing forecasts of its imminent demise. Perhaps the best example to follow then would be the Norwegian kroner. With a world-class oil fund Norway has no need to devalue its currency and so can guarantee the wealth of its citizens - the second richest in the world.

Holyrood Elections

As 2010 draws to a close and minds turn to the Holyrood elections in May, the stakes could not be higher. As the realities of austerity are internalised by the electorate the SNP will point to the failure of the unionist 'UK umbrella' argument where Scotland is supposedly protected from global market volatility by the scale and prestige of the UK economy. The Labour party in Scotland will argue that independence is merely a constitutional argument unrelated to economics and draw attention to the ConDem austerity cuts.

With the Scottish electorate increasingly worried about job prospects and paying the rent the economic case which holds the most water will determine who forms Scotland's next government.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tommy Sheridan's Show Trial

Like an old fashioned public hanging, Tommy Sheridan's show trial was about beating down on the radicalised poor and reducing them to docility, capable only of reading Ruper Murdoch's News of The World.

Soon we'll get to see him been wheeled away to prison. What a shame for Rupert Murdoch that we no longer use the guillotine as that really would terrorise people out their wits. In the end though, it may well be to Rupert Murdoch's benefit that we don't given that our economy is heading into French revolution territory.

Now, I've heard various justifications for his verdict but they are all based on opinion. There have been some rancourous exchanges between Tommy's followers and and others in Tommy's former party - the SSP. The SSP have pointed to the verdict arguing that they've been vindicated after years of persecution.

I'm afraid the SSP will never shake this off. The way the trial was conducted casts serious doubt over the verdict as pointed out by Ian Hamilton QC. Ian's comparing the miscarriage of justice in the Sheridan case with that of the Lockerbie case is unfortunate and shows, I think, Ian's rightful distress at the verdict.

Many will and have speculated that Sheridan is guilty of perjury but guilt must be PROVEN not believed if a person is to be found guilty of a criminal charge. In the case of Tommy Sheridan the jury was directed to accept evidence, the reliability of which is more than dubious, as hard.

The Lockerbie case does show that the Scottish justice system can be lent on to provide favourable results for the powerful. And you don't get much more powerful than Rupert Murdoch.

If the SSP were to be taken seriously they'd realise that this verdict sends out a message to the wider population. The message is a threat to all of us. We must not seriously challenge authority or we get the same treatment as the Sheridans. This is the type of behaviour we expect from totalitarian regimes. The hounding and harassment of political figures shows that a society is in deep trouble.

We now live in times where banks extort trillions of pounds of taxpayers money from the government and are protected while at the same time a left wing politician is villified for his alleged sexual proclivities by the gutter press and then subjected to investigations costing the public millions of pounds and a show trial with an unsound verdict.

Why are we even interested in Tommy's sexual conduct? Jealousy? Our own sexual repression? Who cares what Tommy got up to? As to the cost, the police don't respond to burglary calls in housing schemes for hours yet here we have millions being spent on a perjury investigation.

Is Scotland entering a period of McCarthyism? The reality is that we are. Hyped stories of terrorists everywhere, perpetual wars, wealth confiscation are all signs that Britain is now in its death throws, controlled by extreme kleptocrats and so thoroughly corrupted it is unable to function for the public good. Democracy is over.

Just like the French Revolution the kleptocrats are trying to keep control and how better to do that than have the people fight among themselves. We now see the English being driven to hatred of the 'parasitic' Scots so as to deflect attention from their misgovernance. This is where Murdoch's powers lie. He can turn the people against the government at the flick of a switch. They are terrified of his power.

Political organisation of the poor must be battered down. This is the real motivation behind the Sheridan show trial. Don't get me wrong, his politics doesn't grip me and his vanity less so, but Sheridan threatened the Glasgow power-base of the Labour party. This power base is what ties Scotland to the union. Tommy was eating into Labour's Glasgow colonies suits the British establishment. Labour get the votes as long as its voters remain poverty-stricken and beaten into submission. This is done using popular leftist language about sticking it to the bosses. The poor in and around Glasgow are proud and defiant and that language keeps them believing they are still stuggling against their oppression. The trouble is the party which pretends to protect them sold out long ago. Tommy was taking on Labour from the left and had to be stopped at ALL COSTS.

In the end Tommy Sheridan had numerous powerful enemies. The Scottish justice system delivered him on a plate.

One wonders what leverage Murdoch had over the Scottish justice system. The truth behind the Lockerbie Show Trial? Just who is the Scottish justice system now beholden to?

The manner of the raid of the Sheridan family home was a disgrace and raises further questions about Britain becoming a police state.

Watch the police interview of Gail Sheridan below. This is the wife of a public figure, former party leader and MSP. and yet she is being intimidated by a police detective who tells her she's behaving like a terrorist!

I'm sorry but this is unacceptable. The conduct of our police and justice system is an attack on the dignity of all Scots. If we do not unite against this outrageous series of events then we are nothing but pathetic excuses of citizens.

What self-respecting nation would let the News of The World drag it through the gutter the way it has. The case of Tommy Sheridan is now being flaunted in our faces. The message? Don't forget who's boss!

I suspect Tommy Sheridan will, once more, achieve martyr status. The press hounds are trying to bury him already but this story is not over. Like Wikileaks hero Julian Assange, also labelled as a pervert, the frothing establishment realised they went too far and could not keep him locked up lest he become more powerful.

It wouldn't be a surprise if Tommy's appeal, now lodged, will be gladly upheld.

video with thanks to Moridura

Here is very interesting article on the Tommy Sheridan trial by Kenneth Roy Why the Sheridan case may return to haunt Scottish justice

Saturday, December 25, 2010

UK "Totally Insolvent" as Deficit Balloons to Record High

A piece I did for Newsnet Scotland:

by Alex Porter, Economy Editor

Britain's public borrowing exceeded all forecasts in November hitting a record £23.3bn the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday.

The figure, which excludes financial interventions by the UK Government, is a significant increase on last November's borrowing requirement of £17.4bn casting doubt on claims that the UK economy is experiencing a recovery. Indeed, the figure soared past the previous borrowing record for a single month of £21.1bn recorded in December 2009.

In Scotland by contrast there is a surplus in the national accounts according to the official government figures (GERS). This surplus will go to the London treasury as Scotland faces £1.3 billion in austerity cuts next year.

This most recent indication of the divergence between the Scottish and UK economies comes after calls by world-renowned economists such as Andrew Hughes-Hallett and business leaders for the Scottish parliament to assume significantly more economic powers in order to help create a climate of certainty for Scotland's businesses. The SNP have argued that economic independence is necessary in order to protect jobs and public services. The nationalist's policy would also enable funding for academic institutions such as universities as they would not be affected by decisions taken by the UK coalition government.

These swelling UK borrowing requirements are further evidence that the previous Labour governments' strategy of 'stimulus' was mistaken. The claim then was that stimulus would create more jobs and stabilise the British economy. This policy clearly hasn't achieved that objective and so the public would be correct in wondering why Brown's government borrowed so much money, on their behalf, to finance it.

YouGov economic trackers show that one year on from Gordon Brown's 'stimulus' measures almost 70 percent of the population rate the UK economy as 'bad' with a large majority afraid of losing their jobs or not finding work over the next two to three years and 43 percent fearing losing their house over the same period.

The larger-than-expected November borrowing figure will be seen by Chancellor George Osborne as demonstrating the need for deep austerity cuts; already planned is an £81bn cuts package and a hike in VAT next month.

However YouGov's trackers reveal that the UK Population feels austerity, like Gordon Brown's stimulus policy, may deepen Britain's economic crisis with more Britons, 43 percent, believing that the cuts will make the economy worse and 40 per cent better.

Net UK government debt now stands at £863.1bn, the equivalent of almost 30 times the Scottish government block grant, and represents almost 60 per cent of the UK's gross domestic product (GDP) – another monthly record. However this figure does not include newly created money (quantative easing) or off-balance sheet debts which combined are in the region of trillions of pounds. PricewaterhouseCoopers has forcast that the UK's debt will be £10.2 trillion by 2015.

Although government spokesmen and City analysts point to the fact that the UK government debts are less, relatively, than the amounts faced by Ireland, Greece or Japan, the UK's debts in total are 466% of annual economic output once consumer debt is included. That's second only to Japan. However Japan has the comfort of a sound manufacturing and export base as well as the fact that the majority of its debt, unlike the UK, is owned by its own citizens.

The parlous state of the UK economy is causing consternation among many international investors such as the world-famous investment guru and former Quantum Fund partner of George Soros, Jim Rogers who, in an interview on US business TV channel CNBC, talking about European debt problems said: "Greece is insolvent, Portugal has a liquidity problem, Spain has a liquidity problem, Belgium has been cooking the books for a long time, Italy has been cooking the books for a long time and the UK is totally insolvent."

In the run up to the Holyrood elections in May the UK's sovereign debt, economic and currency crises will be key issues in the economic debate. The SNP will argue for economic independence to shelter Scotland from the UK's economic instability. Iain Gray has the unenviable task of promoting the Calman proposals which have been described by experts as "dangerously flawed" and "unworkable".

With Gray's party being blamed by the electorate for creating the mess in Britain's public finances, Alex Salmond will be hopeful that recent polls showing support for economic independence for the Scottish parliament will be converted into votes for the SNP.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Dark Side of Unionism

A piece I did for Newsnet Scotland:

by Alex Porter

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Professor Tom Gallagher works in the Department of Peace and Ethnic Conflict at the University of Bradford. When he deliberates on the issue of racism in Scotland it is our duty and responsibility to listen to his views and examine our collective conscience on the matter.

It is crucial that figures such as Professor Gallagher command authority and respect on this issue. Our nation needs such wise counsel in order that those who have suffered racism feel their dignity and rights are protected. Scotland's international reputation also depends on it having an informed and mature national dialogue on the subject.

When Professor Gallagher describes a Scottish Government Minister's policy as "nothing less than racist" it raises real fears of racial persecution. If an individual is being racist it is cause for concern but if it is government policy a nation is in real trouble and the alarm bells start ringing. Such a nation could expect sanction and ultimately expulsion from the European Union if its government is so overtly racist.

In a single letter, in a single paragraph to The Scotsman Gallagher has implied that Education Secretary Mike Russell (born in Kent, England) is racist and the BBC of being complicit:

"One test of the BBC's editorial values will be the extent to which it gives a voice to those who think that education minister Michael Russell's decision to single out English students for a massive financial levy is nothing less than racist."

If a government and a state broadcaster are accused by an eminent academic of raising the spectre of systemic racism then the European Union and indeed the United Nations would be remiss in not investigating the matter.

Gallagher was very clear about how Mike Russell's legislation should be characterised: "Indeed, it was exactly this kind of thing that regimes hostile to particular ethnic and religious minorities got up to between the two world wars."

The implications are clear, Professor Gallagher is equating the German Nazi "regime" with the SNP government. Mike Russell's policy initiative which imposes tuition fees on English students who wish to enter Scottish universities is similar to the type of Nazi Party policies which, as we well know, ended up in the holocaust and the global conflagration that lead to the deaths of tens of millions of people in the second-world war. That's what we're being told to conclude.

Upon examination Mike Russell's policy was seen for what it was. A reasonable policy, in keeping with tradition but with an unfortunate anomaly caused by asymmetrical devolution. It is a welcome relief that Gallagher himself ackowledged this in a subsequent letter to The Scotsman: "On closer inspection, I freely admit that the weight of evidence does not support my claim (Letters, 18 December) that the planned imposition of much higher tuition fees on English students is ethnic targeting."

Am I missing something here? An eminent academic has compared the Scottish government to Nazis and accused a government minister of implementing the kind of policies which lead to genocide and at the same time the BBC of capitulating. The best case scenario here is that Gallagher had a rush of blood to the head and so when he realised he was wrong, should he not have issued a sincere apology so that the nation could move on?

No, no apology and his retraction was qualified: "I am glad to find myself in the wrong on this occasion.."

The words "On this occasion" are clearly meant to exonerate himself. You see, the gravity of the matter stands because the SNP typically does conduct itself in such a manner that it should rightfully be equated with nazism. "On this occasion" means that set against this context we all relate to a minor mistake which is all too understandable and forgivable. "On this occasion" the SNP were caught out not behaving like nazis for once and all reasonable people will conclude that that's not Professor Gallagher's fault.

One could be forgiven for wondering if Tom Gallagher had some kind of agenda. He has.

Tom Gallagher is the author of a book called: 'The Illusion of Freedom: Scotland Under Nationalism'. Tom needs little encouragement and has attacked Salmond before in an article, written by Ron Brown of The Herald, with the title: "Salmond accused of tapping dark side of nationalism" where he is quoted as saying: “The SNP chief sometimes finds it difficult to resist the emotional forms of mass manipulation associated with Europe in uglier times.”

Scottish Unionism's Weapon of Choice

There is no doubt that racism exists in Scotland and should not be tolerated. A major impediment to rooting out this despicable and dangerous form of intolerance though is a stong tendency towards false and inflated charges of racism such as Tom Gallagher's. His insincere retraction and lack of apology reveals some attitudes which we must observe closely.

Firstly, in this case, he is not entirely motivated by preventing the consequences of racism - he has done nothing but harm. More importantly though his 'retraction' serves to reveal an insecurity in British political culture.

The political class and the media have spun out of control. Manipulating perceptions has been a persistant aspect of British political culture - Orwell was a product of it after all. However, Britain now faces a crisis economically, politically and socially. Fraud, corruption and media manipulation are now endemic. Perceptions are now all that matter. Honour and honesty are no longer supportable.

It is deeply regrettable that many in Scotland bandy about the word 'racist' like confetti. It is a particular habit of the left in Scotland. Not just on the unionist side of the fence but irritatingly, the independence leaning left are often culpable too, demonstrating a problematical insecurity. Accusations of racism should be rigorously evidence-based and not merely an impulse of self-rightious demagogues. This tendency causes hurt in those accused and demeans the cause as well as the victims of racism.

For generations now the SNP have been accused of anti-Englishness. Like all political parties extremists will manage to obtain party membership but the SNP have taken strong measures to deal with the matter. It has shown its internationalist credentials not just by successfully engaging with Scotland's Asian population, encouraging English membership through the SNP's 'New Scots for Independence' group but in opposing Dungavel detentions, extraordinary rendition flights and crucially by opposing the UK's involvement in illegal and imperialistic wars and nuclear weapons.

In modern Britain the SNP government have become an exception - it acts responsibly and in the interests of the people it is elected to SERVE. That is what is at stake at the Holyrood elections in May.

Accusations of racism have a powerful viral effect. Many English people actually believe that many Scots only want independence because Scots hate them. This fear affects the brand of the Scottish independence movement. People naturally don't want to be associated with a party which is intolerant towards Scotland's nearest neighbour where many Scots have family and friends. There is therefore a motive for unionist parties to stoke up this racial fear and tension - party advantage.

Unfortunately the case for retaining the union is almost always about being against independence. And so the case for independence is to be seen in a dim light casting scary shadows - Wee Willie Winkie for adults. Seperatists want to 'break up' the 'United Kingdom' and 'divorce' are demons sent to place doubt in the minds of Scots. If the Scottish electorate does not understand that independence is an extremist's agenda it must be made to.

Accusations of 'racism' do the same job as Labour's David Cairns demonstrated when he labelled those who support the SNP as "swivel-eyed, bigoted, anti-English lunatics". If you vote for independence you are anti-English is the inference. Again the SNP are extremists. We are led to believe that the unionist parties by contrast are moderate and inclusive - yet the net result of these inferences of racial prejudice about the independence movement are that of actually frightening potential victims.

The only conclusion we can reasonably take out of all this is that unionism is comfortable with aggravating racial fear and tension because the political advantage is the only thing that matters to them. Otherwise, where are the leaders with calm heads who immediately dampen down such base propaganda? We have to assume that unionism's leaders are deliberately silent because they quietly approve.

Consider the negative stereotypes perpetuated by union supporters about Scotland. Scots are characterised not only as racist but as too small, stupid and poor to govern their own nation. They are tight-fisted, benefit-leeching, subsidy junkies dependent upon handouts from our English cousins. That is a dominant image of Scotland as presented to the English. It is an image which rightfully angers Scots and causes resentment in a nation which currently sacrifices the surplus in its national account for the common UK good.

This stereotype has been deliberately reinforced by Scottish unionist parties and over a period of generations. Government statistics have been deliberately massaged to misrepresent Scotland's contribution to and take from the UK treasury. Take the example of Scottish Labour MPs cheering upon the news that a Scottish bank had been sold.

The stereotype of the parasitic Scot is an image born out of Scottish unionism and its attempts at manipulating the 'perceptions' which Scots have about their own country. The lesson Scots are supposed to take from these relentless national briefings is that their nation has no viability as an independent state in the international arena. Enquiring minds will have noticed BBC Scotland's comprehensive analysis of the Irish bailouts. Coverage of foreign affairs is unusual on BBC Scotland and so the intensity of the coverage in the case of Ireland was a curiosity. The subtext was that Scotland could expect the same from statehood - soveriegn bankruptcy and international humiliation.

Scottish Unionism has become almost entirely about media manipulation. Scotland is being carpet-bombed with anti-SNP propaganda. The media witch-hunt of Stewart Stevenson was just another example of it. The appointment of Tom Connor as editor of the BBC Scotland website comes as no surprise. Tom was previously censured by the BBC for offering media training to Labour party candidates.

Will the Real Scottish Unionists Please Stand Up?

At Newsnet Scotland we believe that unionism is a legitimate political aspiration. We will provide a platform for any articulate, evidenced-based and well-argued defence of maintaining the union and indeed we now reiterate our invitation to submit to us such-like contributions for publication.

If unionism is confident in its politics let it eschew these underhanded tactics. Scotland deserves better than the petty and dangerous false accusations of racism which mars public debate and alienates citizens. The nation deserves better than being bombarded with images of itself as incapable.

The SNP is to be commended for for the determined efforts it has made in terms of its civic nationalism. It is now time for Labour and the other unionist parties to stop the chicanery and rise to the occasion. The political spoils should not go to those who connive to undermine confidence and harmony. Scotland's next step on its long journey should be the result of an honest appraisal of the best case that both sides of the debate can make.

Only then will there be a settled will of the Scottish people.

Read previous essays written by Alex Porter for Newsnet Scotland:

Scotland's Choice: Calman's Gulag or Economic Independence

Scotland versus Britain
Part 1, Part 2


Rediscovering Oil – A From Rags to Riches Story

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Would an independent Scotland have a viable economy?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Debt and Mass Emigration

Great video of Mike Hudson in interview explaining why countries should reject bailouts.

Massive debt drove large swathes of people from Britain and other parts of Europe to the USA for over two hundred years. That debt is back and includes the US. Where will the next mass emigration be to?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wikileaks, Tesco and Wendy Alexander

Interesting video below looking at how the world works and in view of wikileaks.

I wonder if wikileaks is just the beginning of a fightback against what is, a system.

In Scotland we need as many leaks and whistle-blowers to come forward as we can. We know corporate interests have a worryingly close relationship to government in London. That grip extends through its Scottish branches such as the Labour party in Scotland.

With Wendygate still simmering, Purcel and all sorts of local government shenanigans there's a dam waiting to burst out there.

When New Labour came to power, Gordon Brown decided to bring in a tax on car-parks, something that would have cost Tesco £20 million a year. Tesco got an exemption and at the same time gave £11 million as a donation to Peter Mandelson's Millennium Dome. Remember that? Tesco hired the services of Lobbying firm 'Lucas, Neil Lawson and Mendelsohn' (LLM) who had a very close relationship with New Labour.

As I remember, Wendy Alexander brokered a deal to have Tesco buy the site of St. Mirren football club in her constituency..

How refreshing it is to see John Swinney bringing in taxes on supermarkets! How refreshing it is to see the SNP bring forward legislation on organised crime.

I'm beginning to understand the visceral hatred Labour has for the SNP. They want rid of the SNP government badly.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bail Out London City or Bail Out Of The UK?

Jim Corr of the Irish band the Corrs isn't pulling his punches (see video below).

Scots should take note. He believes that Ireland's problem is that it ceded sovereignty to the EU. He wants Ireland to leave the Euro and have it's own currency.

Scotland has a similar problems with monetary union. Policies to suit the English economy decimate Scottish jobs and public services. Now with many thinking the EU is in its death throws, Scotland should do the responsible thing and consider plan B.

Corr believes that Ireland is suffering from a top-down engineered crisis and that austerity is damaging helping only the super rich.

The pound sterling has been devalued by 20% against its trading partners and has nothing to show for it. By contrast Germany's unemployment is the lowest it's ever been.

Devaluing currency makes people poorer because you can buy less with the same amount - it's a wage cut.

A currency debate in Scotland is now urgent. Scots want more powers to control taxation but with London printing trillions of new pounds the money we raise in tax in Scotland will be worth less. We need, not just 'fiscal responsibility' but economic independence.

It is not time to bail out The City, it is time to bail out of the UK.

Scotland's Choice: Calman's Gulag or Economic Independence

An essay I did for Newsnet Scotland:

by Alex Porter, Economy Editor

With recent polls revealing that people in Britain believe austerity will make the economy worse the question of why the policy has been adopted becomes salient.

This is especially so in the case of Scotland where the national accounts (GERS) show a surplus.

The Scottish electorate has shown in the recent Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2010 that it would like the Scottish parliament to assume more powers, including full control over taxes (57%) and benefit payments (62%). With economic independence there would be no need for such swingeing cuts and so Scots might wonder why they must face austerity at all when Scotland already subsidises the rest of the UK.

If, as the electorate believes, austerity will exacerbate the UK's economic soveriegn debt, financial and currency crises then concern in Scotland will not be limited to asking why Scots should bail out England. The greater question is what damage an economic medicine prescribed for south of the border might do to the Scottish economy.

The logic of austerity is that government deficits created by the last UK Labour government will be brought under control through cutting public services and welfare benefits. The problem with this prognosis though, is that if you cut benefits there's less money spent in the shops meaning less VAT revenue for government and at the same time retail sector jobs are lost adding to the burden placed on the benefits' system.

By cutting public services people will have to rely on private service providers instead, meaning less expendible income causing less consumer goods to be bought and so consumption takes a battering again. The huge cuts in public sector employment targeted by the ConDem government will see salaries taken out of the main street economy but it will also trigger mortgage payment defaults and less demand for home-ownership which in turn will lead to further declines in house prices.

Evidence from around the world is that austerity makes the economy worse. Argentinians were told this economic medicine would help and their economy imploded.

UK Austerity Gulag

How did we get to the stage where austerity is being rolled out in defiance of public opinion? Whose interests does austerity really serve? Meaningful questions for the people who will be affected most by the cuts in public services - the poor, the low paid, the students and the heavily indebted home-owning working class.

When governments run into debt they borrow from banks. Private banks can borrow from the Bank of England, currently almost free of charge (quantative easing) and then they can multiply that money (leverage), legally creating new money and lend it out at interest. Governments can therefore borrow from banks (with a promise to repay with interest = bonds) which create that new money at the flick of a switch.

The reason banks got into trouble was precisely because they can create this new money. They created it and they gambled it and they lost it. When they lost it all they had to pay it back. They couldn't as it was hundreds of trillions of dollars. It will never be repaid. They multiplied the money they borrowed dozens and sometimes hundreds of times over and lent it out creating an irrational and distorted economy.

When that bubble economy crashed the debts were enormous and the banks should, under the core principles and rules of capitalism, have been liquidated as they were, and still are, insolvent. The banks' owners lost their money which they should never have invested. Had they followed the usual business practise of due diligence - checking their investments were soundly managed - they wouldn't have.

Oops, did I say the banks' owners lost their money? My apologies, they didn't. You, the taxpayer bailed them out. Private losses were transferred to the public. This is an enormous confidence trick but political parties, economic commentators and the media played along. Why? Let's not get into the theological aspects of modern 'neo-classical' economics - it's nearly Christmas for heaven's sakes.

Why is there a crisis in Britain's public finances? You paid those private debts - why? If someone burgled your house would you track them down and voluntarily offer them your life-savings as well? This was and is criminal fraud across the entire financial sector. Yet you said and did nothing. For your generosity you now get the bankers' one-two; austerity. Yes, the government is heavily in debt because you went along with bailing out wealthy investors. So, how do they propose to control these debts? The answer is you pay twice.


The trick in understanding 'why' is in identifying the piper that has to be paid - banks. Follow the money. The government is so dependent on banks now that the banks call the shots. In short, they now run government economic policy. Much the same way as the IMF runs economic policies when they give 'assistance' to bankrupt and desperate countries.

As the financial sector is still insolvent and heading into another solvency crisis - quantative easing (welfare benefits for the supremely wealthy) is running out - they know that they will not get credit from other banks. The media and politicians focus on credit rating agencies in order to assess a bank's credit worthiness but the reality is that what matters to banks is how other banks rate them. When the next financial crisis hits who's going to bail them out? Not other banks but YOU, AGAIN. You got the jab, the cross hook and now you get the upper-cut. They need the government's credit rating which is derived from your endless ability to work and pay taxes. Oh, and your unborn grandchildren's too.

As the political wing of the banking sector, the government has to scale down its debt through austerity and reduce government taxes on big business - bank customers - and of course tax finance less. That all makes sense to the bankers.

To leave as much cash around as possible for the next round of bailouts they have to deprive you of more money. The banks see themselves as the real economy. How can this be? They are extractive not productive. The brutal truth is that they don't actually care for anyone but themselves.

High finance thinks that lowering wages will help for a start. If austerity leads to depression it will lower wages by maybe twenty percent and government/banks believe that that will make the economy more competitive. They think that this 'competitiveness' will cause employers and banks to make more profits/bonuses/dividends. To enrich the corporate world they must impoverish the real economy. This is the thinking that caused Britain's industrial economy to decline and its empire collapse.

The real economy, production and consumption, gets floored because bankers and their middle management administrators (Brown/Cameron/Clegg) believe that it is the extractive part of the economy, finance, which is the driver. The belief is that a depression will help the financial sector survive its crisis. It won't.

To pass the burdon on to the taxpayer you have a heady mix of strategies: Consumer debt, tick. Lower wages, tick. Increased VAT, tick. Benefit cuts, tick. Public service cuts, tick. Tighter regulation on banking, cross. Increased taxation on financial transactions, cross. Increased capital gains tax, cross.

Why are all the crosses against the ones who caused the crisis? Why are all the ticks against the ones who didn't?

Corporate logic is that there are two corrosive costs to business. Firstly, the cost of labour and producing goods. Secondly, tax. They want to shift the tax burden from finance and to some extent industry entirely on to labour. It's bad economics but received wisdom in business circles. Employees are not assets, they are liabilities.

This whole process releases finance from having to contribute to the treasury whilst they splash out using their gCard - their flexible friend, the government's credit facility (quantative easing) to bail themselves out all over again.

PricewaterhouseCoopers has forcast that the UK's debt will be £10.2 trillion by 2015. Debts which can't be paid won't be paid and key players in the UK's financial sector realise this - they're a lot smarter than the UK's captured and clueless political class. Quantative easing (money printing) and bailout money is going to bondholders and shareholders who are now investing abroad. You bail them out and they bail. The game is up and they're printing money, extracting what's left of the population's wealth, and converting the UK's creaky old once-nearly-democracy into a debt gulag. That's the exit strategy of the big finance houses. The money has largely gone already.

If you thought austerity was madness, now you know you were wrong - it's a systemic wealth transfer undertaken by people who are legally of sound mind.

By printing more money and reinflating the bubble economy house prices will be maintained a while longer while at the same time wages fall meaning more debt will be sought in order for people to house themselves. By indebting people further the consumer economy falls off a cliff. Does the real economy matter to them? Sorry if you thought the people in charge were ethical and motivated by the wider public interest. These people will shoe-horn you into PFI schools, turn you against each other using tabloid propaganda and send you to war in Afghanistan before you can say the word 'emigrate'.

The question which arisis out of all this is, if the peope think austerity will make things worse why don't they do something about it? Well, this is where high finance gets smart. If you miss a credit card payment your interest rates go up, you get bank fees for missing mortgage payments and refinancing, you lose your house if you miss payments. These are the punative measures which keep people obedient. If you go on strike, complain about working conditions and get sacked you're closer to being homelessness than you've ever been in recent history. The economic and social gains made by society since the war are being rolled back.

Debt has driven down wages despite productivity rises in recent decades. The benefits of these productivity advances have been extracted by the financial sector (which makes nothing). Growth has been siphoned off. All surplus goes on banker bonuses and much of the population has just less than enough money to pay for the basics of life and so are effectively in indentured servitude to a new neo-feudal class.

Having sucked the UK dry the parasite will be off to the next host. This time in the developing economies such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and so on. Britons face being shackled with generations of debt - no longer of any value to international capital. London City financiers? They who Gordon Brown lionised in his 2007 Mansion House speech?

"So I congratulate you Lord Mayor and the City of London on these remarkable achievements, an era that history will record as the beginning of a new golden age for the City of London."

Where will these financial oligarchs be in five years? They'll be living in the manner they've become accustomed to in Shanghai, Beijing and Taipei.

Economic Independence

This is why Scotland is paying for austerity despite its surplus. This is why all discussion of economic independence is suppressed and resisted. This is why the BBC is so obviously anti-independence. Using the oil money to invest in the establishment of a decent national economy simply gets in the way of the next bankers' bailout fest.

If you want to know where the money and improving standards of living are, look to where the currencies are strongest. Countries which do not transfer private debts to the public have real governments which behave responsibly. If you want to know where generations will be sufficated by debt look to which currencies are quickly being debased to feed the financial sector - pound, dollar, euro.

Now is the time to discuss whether Scotland should remain manicled to the pound or move towards a more stable currency of its own. Sterling has been devalued by 20 percent against its key trading partners yet its economy has not benefited at all. By contrast German unemployment is at an all time low despite a relative rise in the value of the euro. Who then is benefiting from devaluation? Devaluation reduces the purchasing power of your money. It's a pay cut and again hits consumption and contracts the real economy.

Much is at stake then in the forthcoming Holyrood elections. Scots must consider the Calman Commission proposals aka the Scotland Bill - a Westminster piece of legislation. It has been slated by world-class economists and business leaders as 'dangerously flawed' and 'unworkable'. The Scottish parliament's Scotland Bill Committee is chaired by Wendy Alexander who as leader of Holyrood's Labour party oppostion group resigned in 2008 due to accusations over an illegal donation. Continued accusations leave that wound open.

Further questions over the probity of the whole Calman process are raised by the appointment of Jim Gallagher. Gallagher, a civil servant, was appointed by Gordon Brown to oversee devolution and is known to be hostile to increasing the Scottish parliament's financial powers. Last month Gallagher penned an article for The Telegraph with the title: "Why the Scotland Bill is good news for England". An independent advisor? You decide.

The case for a national debate on economic independence must be persevered with between now and the Holyrood elections in May. The opinion polls show Scots are enthusiastic about this policy. Perhaps this enthusiasm is more a survival instinct. It should be carefully nurtured. The Scotland Bill is an exercise in heading off momentum for economic independence. It is designed for Westminster to keep control over Scottish affairs. Ultimately it is about extracting Scotland's surplus and more to pay for the next round of financial sector bailouts.

Already, Scottish universities fear for their future funding because of the UK government's austerity policies. With economic independence, they needn't. Austerity measures are causing real pervasive fears in Scotland because the consequences are so hugely uncertain. Such volatility and uncertainty means Scottish businesses and institutions must budget for the worst case scenario. With economic independence they needn't.

If Scotland is to avoid austerity and generations of debt it must reject the Scotland Bill, as it stands, outright. While the unionist media machine ignores those calling for a debate on economic independence - such as Scotland's prestigious Council of Economic Advisors - commentators and activists in civil society must struggle to keep this inspiring ambition alive at the top of the Holyrood election agenda.

The decision facing Scotland is one of epic proportions. Every Scot must ask themselves, as the elections to the Scottish parliament draw near is, the question: do I want myself and my nation to live in a state of neo-feudal debt peonage or do I want economic independence? That, for all it sounds theatrical, is the true moment of destiny - individual and national - awaiting inside Scotland's polling booths on 5 May next year.

Read previous essays written by Alex Porter for Newsnet Scotland:

Scotland versus Britain
Part 1, Part 2


Rediscovering Oil – A From Rags to Riches Story

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Would an independent Scotland have a viable economy?

Who Has Control? Banks or the People?

Two interesting vidz for your satisfaction today.

The first looks at why the global crisis is caused by banks controlling the supply of money and how they control government through controlling the money supply. Central banks are privately owned and they create money as a debt. There are example of government taking control of money such as the US colonial script was used by Americans to develop their economy and help release them from the yolk of the UK. The currency worked well until Britain counterfitted and flooded the US with their own currency.

The second video is a speech by Bill Still about how bankers conspired to take over global control of the media using a front organisation called the Council on Foreign Relations

Friday, December 17, 2010

Austerity: Paying twice for other people's debts

Bankers. They don't own the banks, they just run them which is why they also rob them.

The owners, shareholders and bondholders, are mostly big private investment houses. These guys did not do check that their investment were safe and so got burned by the financial fraud that brought the 'crisis' about. That and Gordon Brown's distaste for regulation.

Reverse a second, did I say the investment houses got burned? Ooooooops. Actually they didn't, you did. The bailouts and money printing mean money gets transferred from you to those who gambled and lost. The amount? Mmmm, 2 trillion quid. Yeh, that's about 70 (SEVENTY) times Scotland's block grant. Yes, benefit allowances to rich investors would pay for 70 Scotlands.

It gets even better. They gamble and lose and you pay. Then because you (taxpayers) have bailed them out you owe lots of money. So, you get austerity cuts meaning you pay all over again. Less benefits and less public services hits the taxpayer. How else could they save money? Eh, get out of Afghanistan and Iraq? Decomission nuclear submarines and weapons' systems? Can't have that, ooooooh no.

Yep, you pay twice.

Now, as austerity cuts scythe down benefits and public sector jobs to plug the deficit holes punched by Gordon Not So Prudent now Brown there will be a reduction in VAT revenues and more people on benefits not able to pay mortgages (house prices fall..). At this point the government will start selling off government services. You'll be charged to get in to hospital, road tolls, school bills etc.

You'll pay again - a third time.

The following video shows the process of you - pay 1 and 2. It is an excellent presentation. Cynical Highlander brought it to my attention.

The UK population now believe austerity cuts will make the economy worse. Scotland has even more reason to resist as our national accounts (GERS) show a surplus!

Please circulate -