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'Always trust the voters'

Brian Taylor | 12:16 UK time, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Taxing matters once more, this time in re the Liberal Democrats.

They have, it would appear, shifted their focus from devolved to reserved taxation.

Let me explain.

You'll recall that the new leader, Tavish Scott, voiced support for using Holyrood's powers - aka the Tartan Tax - to cut the burden upon the Scottish people.

In September last year, he suggested that 2p might be lopped off the standard rate.

This, he argued, would liberate the people to spend and, hence, tackle the credit crunch.

But a glance at the agenda for this weekend's Scottish LibDem conference discloses that this proposal is absent from the discussions.

There is a lengthy - a very lengthy - policy motion on the economy which is to be advanced by the party's finance spokesman Jeremy Purvis.

tartan tax

The debate will be wound up by Alistair Carmichael MP.

In short, this is the real frontbench deal. Yet, in the 102 lines of the motion, nary a mention of the September Tartan Tax plan.

I pressed Mr Scott on this point and was advised that the 2p Scottish cut was "off the table" for now. It had failed, I was reminded, to win support during the budgetary process.

Which is true. Indeed, John Swinney declined even to talk to the Lib Dems while they pursued the Tartan Tax cut. So far, so fair.

However, read the motion for the Perth conference more closely. Lines 70 to 72 read as follows: "Conference further calls on the UK Government to: cut taxes for people on low and middle incomes, raising them for the richest so the tax cuts are affordable".

So the tax cuts are affordable? That means, in short and in explicit terms, that tax cuts for the lower-earners must be balanced by a hike in upper bands.

But think. Such an option is simply not available within the Scottish Parliament's present powers.

Balance of cuts

When Mr Scott urged a 2p cut in Scottish taxation in September, he was unable to suggest a counter-balancing increase for upper earners - because such a power does not exist.

It would seem to this observer therefore that there is a structural - and not just a political - objection to the September offer.

If we take the Perth motion as read, then the Lib Dems favour "affordable" taxation: a balance of cuts and increases.

By definition, the September offer did not feature that balance. It could not.

Mr Scott has an answer. To be fair, it is a substantive answer. This is to point out that his party favours radical reform to the tax system.

They want a significant transfer of tax powers to Holyrood.

Within that basket of new powers, they could argue credibly for tax reductions and, indeed, Mr Scott indicates that would indeed be his approach.

It is my understanding that, some years back, the Lib Dems tested the notion of a Tartan Tax cut with focus groups.

At that time, the voters didn't find the idea particularly attractive. They thought that, on its own, it lacked substance.

Always trust the voters, say I.

Comments

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  • 1. At 12:39pm on 11 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Brian,

    You certainly demonstrate how useless the current tax powers are, especially as HMRC seem to read them in the most restrictive possible sense of the Scotland Act, something I suspect the LibDem leadership did not bother to do before coming up with their own LIT proposals.

    I presume that Scott's problem is that he knows the only way of implementing this in a way that Scotland's rates vary differently to England's is to opt for full fiscal autonomy.

    He also knows the interim Calman report has effectively ruled this out as requiring constitutional change at the UK level - something seemingly but not specifically outwith Calman's remit.

    Accordingly the only sensible option would be for the LibDems to withdraw from Calman, but having just got the Scottish Government to agree to make a submission he would presumably lose any "face" he has left by doing so.

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  • 2. At 12:44pm on 11 Mar 2009, thatotherguy2 wrote:

    Perhaps the Lib Dems should introduce a tax on dodgy hair cuts. I can't see many voters getting seduced by the boy Clegg's new Death in Venice look.

    Master Clegg should stay out of Scotland. It rains rather a lot and it wouldn't do to have all that hair dye running onto his collar!

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  • 3. At 1:07pm on 11 Mar 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Tavish Scott states:
    "That the 2p Scottish cut was "off the table" for now. It had failed, I was reminded, to win support during the budgetary process."

    Now, remember when the SNP postponed their LIT policy, we saw a plethora of headlines screaming 'Ditched', 'U' Turn, 'Abandoned' - voters had been 'betrayed'.

    We then saw Labour perform their about face when they decided to support borrowing powers. This was reported by the BBC as a 'shift' and headlined by The Scotsman a 'Policy change'.

    Now we see another Unionist party abandon a policy and we are again told this is a 'shift in focus'.

    I remember a movie from the eighties about legendary Australian horse 'Phar Lap', originally shipped as a foal from New Zealand.

    Towards the end of the movie, the horse is shipped to the USA in order to run against the best in the business.

    What's the headline if it wins, asks a journalist to his editor?

    "Australian wonder horse triumphs", he replies.

    What if it loses?

    "New Zealand nag flops".

    We need a spoof 'translator' that lists a series of 'Natlish' words together with their 'Unionish' equivalents.

    i.e.

    'Unionish' - shift, change, alter
    'Natilish' - 'U' turn, ditch, abandon

    'Unionish' - Request
    'Natlish' - Demand

    'Unionish' - Discuss, Suggest
    'Natlish' - Pick fight, argue

    'Unionish' - Compromise
    'Natlish' - Give in, Suffer blow

    You get the idea.

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  • 4. At 1:31pm on 11 Mar 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Interesting poll of polls:

    The weighted average of all the surveys in February puts the Conservatives on 43 per cent (unchanged since January), Labour on 29 per cent (down two points), the Liberal Democrats 17 per cent (up one point) and other parties on 11 per cent (up one).


    The other parties being up 1 will be good news for the SNP.

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  • 5. At 1:36pm on 11 Mar 2009, handclapping wrote:

    Brian

    re:- "Always trust the voters, say I."

    When, then, can we expect a blog on your support for the referendum?
    Bring it on?

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  • 6. At 1:51pm on 11 Mar 2009, enneffess wrote:

    And the LIb Dems wonder why they are losing support?

    At least the other parties tend to stick to the same policies, even if they are not always popular.

    I think the Lib Dems are reacting to everything now, rather than trying to be pro-active.

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  • 7. At 2:09pm on 11 Mar 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    They will switch back between cutting and increasing taxes again shortly. I don't know why anyone votes for the Liberals, other than in protest. As they clearly stand for nothing; or at least what they stand for continues to change dramatically on a 6 month timetable.

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  • 8. At 2:47pm on 11 Mar 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    I'm still wondering why the SNP don't opt for a 3p increase in income tax to subsidise council tax and still keep the Council Tax Benefit?

    If CT is so unfair and LIT does not have enough Parliamentary support, then why not introduce this as a compromise measure? A 3p rise would massively reduce CT across Scotland, wiping it out completely in quite a few areas.

    (Is it because this would not provide any opportunity for conflict with Westminster?)

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  • 9. At 2:59pm on 11 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Tax Land Ownership!

    "In the early years of the twentieth century Scottish followers of Henry George played a prominent role in the events that led to the constitutional crisis of 1909-10. In 1906 an influential delegation of 118 municipal bodies in Scotland persuaded the new Liberal Government to go forward with the valuation and local taxation of land values. The Land Values (Scotland) Bill was passed overwhelmingly in the House of Commons, but in 1907 and 1908 the bill was rejected or seriously mutilated in the House of Lords. When in 1909 the Lords also rejected Lloyd George’s Finance Bill, which embodied provisions for the valuation of the land of the whole country, the government moved to repeal the Lords’ right to interfere with Money Bills."
    And do something to shift the concentration of Scotland's Land in too few hands...

    For starters. Slainte!
    ed

    “The Earth being the birthright of all mankind, its rental is the natural property of the people. . . . Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds”.

    Thomas Paine Rights of Man

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  • 10. At 3:15pm on 11 Mar 2009, BrianSH wrote:

    #3 greenockboy

    Nevermind the best ones of late,

    Unionist - reshuffle
    Nationalist - sacked

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  • 11. At 3:20pm on 11 Mar 2009, MacDonaldWoods wrote:

    Lib Dems lack substance full stop. Has Tavish been held to account for his petulant 'gotcha' attempt at Alex Salmond now that the FM has been officially cleared? As a political leader he was hardly tested on his 'one-trick' token tax policy contribution to the Budget, which he knew couldnt be included and then had the temerity to hide behind in justifying their no vote! We now have Clegg's non-attendance (which had to be announced!) because of nappy changing, which is no excuse given that Cable has been changing Cleggs nappy all the way through his disposable leadership! These Lib Dems are a complete irrelevance with no apparent purpose other than expressing prissy self-righteous indignation to anything they dont understand.

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  • 12. At 3:51pm on 11 Mar 2009, enneffess wrote:

    Brian, or the moderators, can you please explain why moderation on here is taking so long?

    These blogs are supposed to generate debate, but they are killing it.

    Can we please see an improvement?

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  • 13. At 4:33pm on 11 Mar 2009, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Neil,

    "At least the other parties tend to stick to the same policies, even if they are not always popular."
    Rubbish! Parties are, in general, without principles and tailor policy to suit the perceived prevailing wind of the moment. Have you observed nothing of NuLab and its clone NuTory? In this matter, the SNP is unusual in having an unchanged central policy of seeking independence.

    Tactics change, but policies should represent principles - in an ideal political world....
    "When matters which concern or interest us are under discussion, it is natural to form alliances with those who share aspects of our viewpoint or objectives, but when these are formalised into rigid policy frameworks, much of great value is lost:
    1. The primary goal becomes the establishment or maintenance of a dominant position for the party.
    2. Party discipline becomes more important than finding new solutions to new situations.
    3. Policy, rather than being founded in conviction & principles, is manipulated to appeal to voters, while
    4. The party is 'sold' as being more unified, more considerate, more efficient, than other parties.
    5. The fewer parties involved, the more pronounced the shallow nature of the resulting discussion becomes."

    On Parties


    Slainte!
    ed

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  • 14. At 5:33pm on 11 Mar 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #8 Reluctant-Expat

    Not often I find myself in agreement with you but that is a very good question and I'm surprised no-one seems to have advanced it before (although I'm prepared to be corrected if I'm wrong.

    Is it because this would not provide any opportunity for conflict with Westminster?"
    I would like to think that there is a better reason than this.

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  • 15. At 6:19pm on 11 Mar 2009, U13791988 wrote:

    Lib Dems will get squeezed in EU Polls. They have shown themselves to be unreliable and no friend of Scotland.

    David Steel used to suggest that he was as patriotic as Nationalists about Scotland.

    Let’s analyse this.

    He and his party think Scotland is best governed by another country.

    He and his party think Scotland's taxes are best imposed by another country.

    He and his party think Scotland's oil wealth should be given to another country.

    He and his party think Scotland is more internationalist if it does not have its own seat in the Council of EU Ministers or UN and is represented by another country.

    Need I go on?

    TDBs

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  • 16. At 6:31pm on 11 Mar 2009, Wee-Scamp wrote:

    This is also good news for Scotland.

    http://www.btcc.net/html/generalnews_detail.php?id=1291

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  • 17. At 7:07pm on 11 Mar 2009, newsjock wrote:

    Although the Liberals have a bit more clout in the Tartan Parliament than they do at Westminster, they still remain very much passengers on a bus, which is driven by others.

    The Liberals are a caucasus none of whose members, with the exception of one or three who have held office in a "hung" parliament, have any government experience.

    This becomes abundantly clear with this latest fiasco, where using Scotland's tax powers suddenly metamorphoses into a lament about the UK tax set-up.

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  • 18. At 7:28pm on 11 Mar 2009, enneffess wrote:

    8. At 2:47pm on 11 Mar 2009, Reluctant-Expat wrote:
    I'm still wondering why the SNP don't opt for a 3p increase in income tax to subsidise council tax and still keep the Council Tax Benefit?

    If CT is so unfair and LIT does not have enough Parliamentary support, then why not introduce this as a compromise measure? A 3p rise would massively reduce CT across Scotland, wiping it out completely in quite a few areas.

    (Is it because this would not provide any opportunity for conflict with Westminster?)

    ===================

    He would not raise it, because raising income tax above the level of the rest of the UK is simply political suicide. No matter what the reasons for doing so, it would destroy the SNPs vote.

    Even the most ardent SNP supporter would understand this.

    Taxes are most certainly going to rise in the near future, but doing it alone would only be helping to sort out the UK debt.

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  • 19. At 7:32pm on 11 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #5 handclapping
    "When, then, can we expect a blog on your support for the referendum?"

    Priceless! Bring it on, indeed.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 20. At 7:41pm on 11 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #8 Reluctant-Expat
    "I'm still wondering why the SNP don't opt for a 3p increase in income tax to subsidise council tax and still keep the Council Tax Benefit?"

    Well, the fact that the LibDems said they would refuse to play if the LIT wasn't truly local [and thus outwith the Scotland Act] must have played a part, especially as the "official" and NuLab unionists are against it at all costs in case England likes it.

    But aside from that, NuLab's threat to stop paying the Council Tax Benefit would be implemented in part by any reduction in the Council Tax, creating a financial black hole. Admittedly it would be a smaller black hole that it would have been by scrapping the Council Tax completely, but a financial black hole nonetheless.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 21. At 7:42pm on 11 Mar 2009, kaybraes wrote:

    Why is anyone seriously interested in anything the Lib/ Dems say anyway, they are extremely unlikely to ever implement any of their great policies unless it happens to be something minor when they're hanging on to the Labour coat tails and calling it power. They spent ten years as part of the Scottish government and achieved zilch unless you call increasing student debt an achievement. Like all Liberal leaders, national and local, Tavish the Shetland sheepdog is totally without any realistic belief in the nonsense he spouts as policy, and like all the leaders before him he knows that he will never be called on to deliver. However like the underachieving Steel , he and Nicol Stephen may eventually ( if they "stick in " ) be deemed to have attained a level of pomposity which will get them elected as presiding officer.

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  • 22. At 7:44pm on 11 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Mod queue already over 3 hours, so I'll look back much later.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 23. At 7:46pm on 11 Mar 2009, northhighlander wrote:

    Two hours plus for moderation is pretty poor. Surely the BBC can do better?

    Re Tavish he is pretty much the same as his UK leader, Clegg. Irelevant but will say or do anything to appear as a serious politician.

    That is a real shame, we need good opposition, and lets face it labour are falling well short in this area just now.

    Why can't the opposition come up with some new ideas on local taxation that actually make it local?Surely some of them are capable of original thinking? Well maybe not.

    THe SNP are kind of stuck just now they can't very well start debting a new policy until a decent period of mourning has passed for LIT.

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  • 24. At 8:04pm on 11 Mar 2009, DisgustedDorothy wrote:

    These blogs wish they did'nt exist and will probably only exist for a little longer if the labour party has its way!
    Debate and discuss? Only if you agree with the Ministry of Truth!

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  • 25. At 10:37pm on 11 Mar 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    The recent budget fiasco highlighted the juvenile tactics employed by both labour and the Lib Dems. The result was an acceptance all round that a mature approach had to be adopted.

    The SNP made a small concesison to the Lib Dems who had asked that they formally ask the Calman Commission for borrowing powers for Scotland.

    The SNP agreed to this request from the Liberals in order to get them on board and pass the budget.

    Now, this is how the mature and pragmatic approach to politics in Scotland is reported in the Scottish press:

    SNP in U-turn over Calman

    How very predictable, how very sad and how very childish, from The Scotsman.

    See my previous comments on this very thread regarding the different treatment in the media to policy changes by political parties.

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  • 26. At 11:34pm on 11 Mar 2009, irnbru_addict wrote:

    "#24. At 8:04pm on 11 Mar 2009, DisgustedDorothy wrote:
    These blogs wish they did'nt exist and will probably only exist for a little longer if the labour party has its way!
    Debate and discuss? Only if you agree with the Ministry of Truth!"

    I think you're wrong. NuLab want blogs to exist and you to post so that your views can be tracked and you can be traced and dealt with come the day....

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  • 27. At 11:34pm on 11 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    Check this out please:

    The Herald - "Why the figures peddled by Scotland’s critics don’t add up"

    http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/other/display.var.1804147.0.0.php

    Cheers

    a_w

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  • 28. At 11:57pm on 11 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    Oops ignore my #27.

    Getting my forums and links muddled a bit...

    ;-)

    (Still interesting but...not what I meant to post!)

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  • 29. At 09:08am on 12 Mar 2009, Fredcringe wrote:

    With the Lib Dems seemingly obsessed with Tax matters, it will be interesting to see what they do about the Governments proposed increase in the price of alcohol ( a Tax by any other name!). Another daft idea by the SNP. Having ditched their flagship policy of a LIT, they are now seeking to regain some credibility by latching on to the alcohol bandwagon. What will they do about the proposal by a doctor that chocolate chould be taxed?. An obesity tax.
    Fortunately, Tax matters are reserved to Westminster, so Alex Salmond will have to wind in his short neck. I hope he does it soon.

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  • 30. At 10:13am on 12 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Interesting how little information the BBC and the Scottish print media provide us about the Scottish Government's letter and enclosures to the Calman Commission.

    More interesting still that the Calman Commission's website has only just fixed the 404 error previously given by the "Scottish Government 11 March 2009" link to the PDF on the page I link to.

    Still, it's better than the Herald's Government calls for extended power to borrow and spend which gives no links at all or this website's Formal Scots borrowing power call, which gives little information and is rapidly dropping off the main Scotland politics list of "MORE STORIES".

    Off out now, but back later, I hope. TTFN

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 31. At 10:51am on 12 Mar 2009, Sheneval wrote:

    23. northhighlander

    "Why can't the opposition come up with some new ideas on local taxation that actually make it local?"


    An interesting point but why should we have local taxation at all.

    If you have a large number of sick people living in one location would you expect the other local people to stump up for their care?
    Same applies to:
    Education
    Housing
    Roads
    Social Security
    Law enforcement
    Transport

    You can make up your own list

    As regards swimming pools and the like, if people from another area come in to use them should they pay a top up charge comparable to the amount that locals pay in local taxes to use the services - if it is 'local' why not.

    If they come to my local beach should they pay for it's use, visitors make most of the mess anyway, and their refuse has to be cleared up using local services paid for by local people's taxes.

    All that Local Authorities really do is provide Administration for the services dictated by National Government - apart from your local library or swimming pool and refuse disposal , what do you consider local?

    Administration costs of all National services should be provided by Central Government, as should the costs of provision of these services, and all who use them should pay according to their ability to do so - that is the only really fair way of paying for these services.

    If the Government want to collect money to augment the Treasury coffers, then let them do so by whatever taxation method they can get away with, but don't let them get away with the pretence that it is an acceptable method of paying for specific services.

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  • 32. At 10:51am on 12 Mar 2009, enneffess wrote:

    Lib Dems strike again!

    A minimum income of 7,000 for students?

    Justify it.

    There are people working who do not get that level of income, so why should a student receive this?

    I would however say that for medical and dental students, I would find this acceptable provided that they worked for the NHS for five years after graduating.

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  • 33. At 10:55am on 12 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Looked in again as a colleauge is delayed to see that modding is already slowing down dramatically - over an hour this early in the day usually presages a very slooooooooow evening. If anyone from the BBC actually reads these posts, will they please consider treating us politics junkies a little more responsibly. The number of posts actually removed from this blethering is very small and often for technical reasons - I can recall any links to "unsuitable" material and we're often quite grown-up - Honest, guv!

    Some cheer for a change in the Herald's Salmond bid to save [GBP] 50m in prisoner payouts, covered somewhat less enthusiastically on this website's Slopping out millions 'must stop'.

    Wonder whether we see this raised at today's FMQs? I also wonder if Murphy will break the habit of a lifetime and do something constructive to make the order under the Scotland Act to prevent this discrimination against Holyrood. I do hope so, but shan't be holding my breath.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 34. At 11:30am on 12 Mar 2009, Bandages_For_Konjic wrote:

    #32 Neil_Small147 -

    "I would however say that for medical and dental students, I would find this acceptable provided that they worked for the NHS for five years after graduating."

    Not sure about dental but medical students already work for the NHS before graduating. It's what you have to do in order to become a Doctor.

    So I'm glad you think it's okay for them to receive some sort of remuneration while they're doing this.

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  • 35. At 11:47am on 12 Mar 2009, Bandages_For_Konjic wrote:

    #31 Sheneval -

    "Why should we have local taxation at all?"

    To an extent, you've answered this yourself -

    "All that Local Authorities really do is provide Administration for the services dictated by National Government. . .

    So, we should have (A reduced level of) local taxation to pay for local administration of nationally agreed services.

    We can discuss what "Administration" means at length but, hopefully, another time.

    What I'm saying is that, IMHO, the answer to the pesky question of local/national taxation lies somewhere in the middle. Which isn't, I hope to equivocate or fence-sit.

    What I mean is - I agree that I see no reason why taxes for 'local services' (Excepting a 'Local Administration' charge) should be gathered locally. If they can be collected nationally just as, if not more efficiently then let them be.

    They should be spent locally, as far as possible (Hence the 'Local Administration' charge) in order that Local Authorities remain accountable for their spending but even here I think there's value in some collective or even national spending - shared procurement services, shared HR resources, shared IT capital spending on joint systems and infrastructure etc.

    More difficult in practice than it is on paper, I'm sure but I think it can be done.

    The point being that we do need to move away from 'local for local's sake' and towards a system that maximises efficiencies wherever they're available whilst, at the same time, maintaining local accountability, local knowledge and local delivery.

    Now, I'll just try saying that again very quickly while standing on my head.

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  • 36. At 12:13pm on 12 Mar 2009, brigadierjohn wrote:

    Trusting the voters can be dangerous for politicians. Trust them to see through you? Trust them to believe your propaganda?
    It would appear to me that the SNP (like other parties, admittedly, but more so) have a huge dilemma here:

    Do we tell the people how we actually see it turning out, do we explain what life will be like for ordinary folk, for good or ill, and do we attempt quantify their future emotional and economic comfort?

    Or, do we continue with pipes and flags and emotional blackmail, peppered with economic dreams, in the hope that the misty-eyed tendency among us will let hearts rule heads?

    I see there's a new website "for supporters of Independence." Perhaps it should be resolved there, and the result taken on to the big stage?
    I must say, however, that the new website has a wee bit of this about it: It's ma ba' and ahm takin' it hame, and ahm no playin' again unless ah win.

    Which may be another way of expressing SNP political ambitions? :-)

    No matter. I'll be 65 next week and may take the decision to pension myself off from this blog. It seems to have lost all meaning and spontaneity, with moderation delays up to four hours between the same two dozen or so people posting the same ideas in the same way in thread after thread. I suspect many here share that view.

    I'll persevere for a few more days, but it looks like the would-be censors and the self-appointed arbiters of acceptable opinion will have their way.

    ps: Did you see Salmond and Murphy laughing and backslapping together on telly last night? Perhaps a Motion of Censure on the wee website?


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  • 37. At 12:18pm on 12 Mar 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #27 aye_write

    Actually very interesting and perhaps something it would do well for people to publicise a bit more (although I doubt it'l do anything to change the minds of the 'they're all a nation of subsidy-junkies' types that inhabit NR's blog. And I suspect the fact that the research was done by one of 'their' leading English Universities would only make it even harder for them to digest.

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  • 38. At 12:19pm on 12 Mar 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    #32
    Neil_Small147

    Good post. I find it extraordinary that we spend a very large six figure to seven figure sum in Scotland training doctors , half of whom on graduation immediately leave Scotland.
    I would make working for the NHS in Scotland for a number of years a condition of such access to training and I would charge a very large transfer fee to any other agency commensurate with the training cost if anyone wanted released from this contract.
    I would also "post" doctors to practices. I have no idea why we contribute to a system which militates to doctors scrambling for lucrative urban practices while we have unmanned rural practices.
    Half our NHS problem is the salaries of our doctors which means we cannot afford to pay the number of doctors we need. In France, for instance, GPs get about half of what ours get but there are twice as many of them per head of population as we enjoy.
    Set aside the self-serving argument that if we cut their wages they will go off elsewhere. The greedy ones will go off elsewhere. The doctors who did medicine because they wanted to be doctors will mainly stay.
    I suggest we have reached a situation where we are training doctors who are in it because they want to be rich. The young quack starting in his first GP practice gets not much less than £60,000 a year I have been informed. Can anybody verify this?
    Locums get £800 per day. We have one who comes from another country for two days a week (and no out of hours calls) in a practice near me. Why would he want to do anymore than two days a week? They are flying in from Eastern Europe every week for similar easy pickings.

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  • 39. At 12:43pm on 12 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Pathetic to see Gray trying to make an issue over the previous government's PFI schools policy at FMQs and getting a deserved kicking, when by getting first go he could have stolen Goldie's thunder and won himself a few brownie points by applauding the apparent agreement reached with Murphy to fast-track an order under the Scotland Act.

    OTOH, and as ever the cynic, I wonder if this could be another "dog in the night-time" incident, with Murphy having warned Gray beforehand that the boss feels it too dangerous to do anything to transfer any power to Holyrood and that in due course we'll see them all back-pedalling.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 40. At 12:48pm on 12 Mar 2009, Sheneval wrote:

    35. For_Konjic wrote:


    "So, we should have (A reduced level of) local taxation to pay for local administration of nationally agreed services."

    I cannot agree that we should pay locally for Admistration done on behalf of National Government.

    Let's take the example of Social services - I happen to live in a fairly affluent part of the country - next county is much less affluent and has a far higher percentage of unemployed and a far greater underclass, therefor their Admin costs will be proportionately higher - why should the people working and living in that county be punished to pay for costs that are part of the National system? Doesn't make sense to me.

    Or take the Roads Dept. - Some parts of the country are sparsely populated but they have many miles of roads - should the local population pay for the Administration costs of these roads, which are probably used more by tourists than by the local population?

    What about the pensions for these Admin staff - it costs a fortune and will continue to do so - why should local people pay these ongoing costs for staff who are required to administer National services?

    The truth is that local taxation is a con, only there because it is relatively easy to collect.

    It does nothing to address fairness in taxation, and has nothing to do with the local services provided.

    In the county where I live, a 'Band B' houseowner , on £7k pa will pay approx. 16% of their income in Council tax and water rates, whilst a 'Band H' houseowner on £100k pa will pay just over 3% max.

    I have recently been assured by the Secy of State for Scotland that this is fair.

    Purely local services here are a library, a swimming pool and ............................????

    Every Council should be forced to publish an annual breakdown of detailed costs, not the blanket figures we currently get - they could do this on their website, letting us see exactly what our Council tax pays for, including the Councillor's jollies to such places as Dubai.

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  • 41. At 12:57pm on 12 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 42. At 1:04pm on 12 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #36 brigadierjohn

    brig,

    I wouldn't mind you being patronising if you had it all sorted and better than us mere mortals. But you don't.

    Your argument so far, is

    1. The Union exists
    2. Show me something better (remember I'm a hard old b*gg*r to please)
    3. None of it actually matters to me!

    You'll have to wander lonely (above us) like a cloud......???

    I don't exactly know what that means but you don't seem to be meaning anything meaningful either - we are still talking?

    ;-)

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  • 43. At 1:08pm on 12 Mar 2009, ricardopanama wrote:

    brigidierjohn is only 65?

    Unbelievable, I would have said you weren't a day over 80!

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  • 44. At 1:17pm on 12 Mar 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    FSA chief turns on Brown:

    Click Here

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  • 45. At 1:31pm on 12 Mar 2009, LondonSteve wrote:

    "Always trust the voters i say"

    When will we see a BBC poll on whether the Voters want a referendum or are we not Trusted to poll correctly?

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  • 46. At 1:31pm on 12 Mar 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    27. And here we go again. Sigh.


    Herald article says: "They found the tax haul from Scotland was £49bn, compared with total spending of £49.2bn. Scotland, in that year at least, was in the red - but not by very much and certainly within any margin of error.

    Where does all this money come from? The big figure includes the UK's entire North Sea revenues of £9.7bn for 2005-06...."


    So, to produce a total tax revenue of £49bn, you need to include the ENTIRE North Sea revenue stream of £9.7bn, both Scotland's and England's. Well, that's clearly not right, is it.

    Now compare this to a certain financial report produced by a certain nationalist government:

    "In 2006-07, the estimated net fiscal balance, in Scotland, that is the estimated current budget balance plus estimated net capital investment, was a deficit of £10.2 billion excluding North Sea revenue...or a deficit of £2.7 billion including an estimated geographical share of North Sea revenue."

    So here, Scotland's NS revenue is only £7.5bn and during a period of higher oil prices.

    Also we clearly ran up a deficit of £2.7 billion (~8% of Holyrood's budget), starkly different from the Herald article claiming that "Scotland, in that year at least, was in the red - but not by very much."

    Are the nationalists now saying that they believe this Herald article and NOT the SNP?

    I think so!

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  • 47. At 1:36pm on 12 Mar 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    #36, a very self absorbed post.

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  • 48. At 2:17pm on 12 Mar 2009, Bandages_For_Konjic wrote:

    #40 Sheneval -

    Let me think this through (Apologies for the slowness of the process) -

    All tax collected centrally via PAYE, Corporation tax etc. All tax revenues are then distributed, in the form of block grants, to local administrators who then provide services.

    So, LAs would receive a grant and would then decide themselves how to divvy it up - x amount for schools, y amount for childrens services etc.

    LAs would be elected and held accountable on the basis of how well they spent the money awarded to them.

    My only issue with this is that LAs will, sooner or later, try to 'blame' difficult decisions on central government. When citizens ask - "Why is my local swimming baths being closed?" Answer comes, "Because Edinburgh said so." And so on . . .

    And then you end up with something of a slanging match between LAs and Holyrood. Which you don't seem to get so much of, at the moment.

    Presentationally, I think it might be tricky to get round the obvious, 'Stalinist, centralising, taking power away from Angus and giving it to Holyrood' jibes.

    Organisationally, it might be simpler - 1 taxation system, less bureaucracy etc, easier to understand.

    But don't you have a problem ensuring that contributions are equitable? What about people who live of unearned income, savings etc. At the moment (Unless they're exempt) they would still be liable for Council Tax. How would you extend national taxation so that these people still contributed towards the services that they used?

    If you can resolve these issues, then I can't see a great deal wrong with what you say. Although, I'm still worried about the presentational aspects and I think you'd have a job selling it to the people.

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  • 49. At 2:35pm on 12 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    With nothing much new in the Scottish media, I turned to the London media and found some nice quotes in the Thunderer's 'Spectacular IT failure' costs taxpayer millions today from Edward Leigh, the Tory chairman of the HoC Committee of Public Accounts, who is quoted as calling it both a "masterclass in sloppy project management" and a "spectacular failure".

    Nothing yet on the UK parliament website, but their next meeting at 16:30 on the 16th could be worth watching on Parliament TV.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 50. At 2:37pm on 12 Mar 2009, Bandages_For_Konjic wrote:

    #40 Sheneval -

    Again, while I think about it - wouldn't a 'National only' tax system create difficulties around financial monitoring and accounting?

    At the moment, Holyrood says, put simply - "You raise it, you spend it and we'll monitor you against performance etc."

    Under "National only" wouldn't Holyrood say - "We've raised it, you're spending it but we want to monitor what you're spending it on to make sure it all gets to where it's supposed to."

    In which case - who's accountable in the event of discrepancies - Holyrood ("We don't spend it") or LAs ("That's was all we were given")

    Not trying to pick holes, just to see the whole picture.

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  • 51. At 2:53pm on 12 Mar 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #46 Reluctant-ExPat

    "Are the nationalists now saying that they believe this Herald article and NOT the SNP?"
    Depends who you are calling a Nationalist.

    Personally, I distrust figures presented by any political party since they always seem to contradict each other, proving along the way that black equals white and that 1 + 1 = whatever number they happen to pick out of thin air.

    I'm more inclined to believe the results of research undertaken by (what is arguably) a neutral party, that doesn't have a particular party-political axe to grind over anything produced by any political party of any shade, colour or inclination.

    Even then, I'm still inclined to take them with a pinch of salt.

    All it really proves is that someone has found yet another way of extracting information from data. Might be just as wrong as the 'official' Government figures but it's still interesting.

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  • 52. At 2:55pm on 12 Mar 2009, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #47 pattymkirkwood: Sound political point you've made. Arguments too difficult?

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  • 53. At 2:55pm on 12 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #37 Fit Like?

    re your comments

    My moderated post was referring you to my post #1 on Yearning for tsardom...go see :-)

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  • 54. At 3:00pm on 12 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #46 Reluctant-Expat

    I think you're trying to re-open old sores, R-E, to no good purpose.

    The Herald article aye_write linked to is an old [Nov '07 - pre GERS] one not claimed by anyone to be definitive but merely indicative of the situation for use in her missionary work ministering to the "jock scroungers" brigade on the NR threads.

    Let's all keep our powder dry, at least until the UK government miss the next dealine for their Whole of Government Accounts in 2010.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 55. At 3:00pm on 12 Mar 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #47 pattymkirkwood

    "#36, a very self absorbed post."
    But it contains some valid points. I must agree, the endless repeating of the same arguments on every thread, regardless of whatever comment Brian was trying to make in his original post does get a bit wearing after a while and the moderation delays are mildly frustrating to say the least.

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  • 56. At 3:04pm on 12 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    46 Reluctant-Expat

    That link I was using elsewhere. It wasn't relevant to on here. You were so excited you missed my #28?
    The article's a wee bit out of date, or didn't you notice?
    But make of it what you will - glad it's made you happy!

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  • 57. At 3:32pm on 12 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #46 Reluctant-Expat

    The Herald article would not have had access to the analysis by the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the Scottish Government, which was only placed in SPICe (the official body of data available to MSPs) around the time of the article's publication.

    The Chief Economic Adviser used only UK official data provided by the Office for National Statistics
    (ONS), including the following data:
    • UK GVA (2005) - Gross Value Added (GVA) is defined as GDP at basic prices.
    • Scottish GVA (2005).
    • Extra Regio GVA (2005).
    • UK & Scotland population estimates (2005)
    plus comparative data from eurostat.

    From that, comparative GDP was calculated using the PPS method (Purchasing Power Standards - which provides a better methodology for making international comparisons).

    The resultant tables are for Scotland's GDP with no oil revenue at all (Table 1) and with 75% or 90% of the oil revenues (Table 2).

    Table 1: GDP per capita, measured in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS), 2005 (£)
    Ranking, Economy, PPS
    1, Luxembourg, 58800
    2, Ireland, 32200
    3, Netherlands, 29500
    4, Austria, 28700
    5, Demnark, 28200
    6, Belgium, 27500
    7, UK (including North Sea Oil), 26700
    8, Sweden, 26600
    =10, Germany, 25600
    =10, Scotland (excluding North Sea Oil)), 25600
    =10, Finland, 25600

    Table 2: GDP per capita, measured in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS), 2005 (£)
    Ranking, Economy, PPS
    1, Luxembourg, 58800
    2, Ireland, 32200
    3, Scotland (including 90% of North Sea Oil), 31000
    Scotland (including 75% of North Sea Oil), 30000
    4, Netherlands, 29500
    5, Austria, 28700
    6, Demnark, 28200
    7, Belgium, 27500
    8, UK (including North Sea Oil), 26700
    9, Sweden, 26600
    =10, Germany, 25600


    Some Unionists continue to push the idea that Scotland is too poor to be independent, but the figures no longer support that assumption.
    =10, Finland, 25600

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  • 58. At 3:44pm on 12 Mar 2009, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #43 ricardopanama: Thank you so much. It is a boost to my wee ego that you think this virile and vibrant body of mine contains the wisdom of the ages. Dream of achieving it, you young whelp! :-)

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  • 59. At 4:43pm on 12 Mar 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    #52 brig, your the one who is thinking of leaving - and as rarely as I agree with you it would be a shame! But it strikes me as lacking backbone to put your decision to "run away" on the rest of us.

    #55 fit like? - yes, brig has some valid points, but the reason for repitition of much of the same material - is the long gap between posting and moderation (as you both mention), and the lack of regular shifts in the "headline" story to be discussed - which often makes the selected issue into very old news, very rapidly. As a result: the dominant fundamental issue take hold.

    Incidentally, open attempts to pull the thread "off topic" like #46 don't help.

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  • 60. At 4:50pm on 12 Mar 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #58 brigadierjohn

    Do you have a moustache to twirl? My girlfriend could lend you boots and I've got a suitable whip and we can probably find the words to Maria Marten and the Red Barn. You'ld go down a storm as the wicked landlord. Now I wonder where I can find a long cloak?

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  • 61. At 4:55pm on 12 Mar 2009, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #57 oldnat: My goodness. You do love your wee lists. Thanks for reminding me - I almost forgot to equate my Extra Regio GVA with my PPS.
    I think you are telling us that, given certain economic advantages, Scotland would be well placed?
    Well, blow me!

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  • 62. At 5:07pm on 12 Mar 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    57. So, by those figures, we aren't doing too badly being part of the UK, are we.

    In addition to that strong GDP, Salmond Himself demonstrated quite clearly that we keep ALL our tax revenues including all our North Sea revenues.

    And receive an extra 2.7bn on top too.

    Quids in or what!

    Oh, I assume we are again ignoring that the oil, 20% of the Scottish economy by your figures, is still rapidly dwindling and is 25% lower than 2005 when your figures were compiled.

    Are we also ignoring that, as well as far that higher oil production in 2005, it was also selling at prices that were 50% higher than today too?

    Are we just ignoring these little factettes, casting aside 'clarity' and 'accuracy' for mere 'simplicity', perhaps?

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  • 63. At 5:13pm on 12 Mar 2009, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #59 pattymkirkwood: Think "sauntering off" rather than running away. Spelling out the facts of life to what, three dozen (?), rampant Nats is hardly intimidating, let alone flight-inducing.
    If you want a wee laugh, a mental picture of me running away, the last time I fled was from a house in Helensburgh when I was about 23.
    A son had been murdered and his killer had come out of jail, and was himself murdered as had been promised.
    The photographer and I looked down this long hallway and saw six big, drunken men, brothers of the deceased, rushing towards us brandishing knives.
    Several Olympic path-running and gate-hurdling records were broken as we leaped into our car, urging the driver to vanish in a cloud of dust.
    If you need to run away, do it with style!

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  • 64. At 5:42pm on 12 Mar 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    Again, its all about who?!

    "Spelling out the facts of life"? Aye, whatever narrative keeps you happy brig!

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  • 65. At 5:47pm on 12 Mar 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    While some have come clean already, we still await an admission from the most prolific nationalist posters on this board, that they want independence at any cost and are permanently scouring the internet looking for any glimpse of a statistic that gives them an argument.

    Anyone?

    In post 57, Oldnat has plunged to a record-breaking depth (for this week anyway) and dug up a dust-covered and forgotten document from four years ago...only to accidently prove that Scotland is clearly not being held back as every nationalist claims.

    Between Oldnat and Salmond Himself, they have managed to prove that, even within this most horrifically evil of unions, we have become the third richest country in the world, that we receive and spend (in full!) every tax-penny collected from our land and waters and we still receive billions more, every year, from our gracious neighbours!

    Indeed, this is argument for change!

    And even though Salmond Himself feverishly directed our gaze, with both his chubby index fingers, at our blighted neighbours in Ireland and Iceland, holding them up as absolute proof that we could be even better off (Ireland has recently cut most public sector salaries by 8%...I won't even mention the disaster still unfolding in Iceland - we still await the return of UK assets stuck in countless failed Icelandic banks), we must still believe this 'economist' that if we take his path, we could be better off still.

    Even if He does rely heavily on wildly fluctuating revenue from rapidly dwindling oil fields to prop up his books.

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  • 66. At 5:51pm on 12 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #62. Reluctant-Expat

    Em, oil companies do not make long term planning decisions depending on the price of oil. Rather they assume it is lowish, around USD40 a barrel. A high oil price ia a total red herring, spouted by unionists to scare Scots when it drops, like it always does. We're not scared.

    What oldnat's table did not show was the ranking of the UK without oil. Now, that would be scary!

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  • 67. At 6:12pm on 12 Mar 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    66. What oldnat's table did not show was the ranking of the UK without oil. Now, that would be scary!

    When Westminster hands over a certain 500bn+ debt (that's the wad being spent on propping up our RBS and HBOS) to a newly-independent Scotland, I have the faintest of faint suspicions that the loss of 7bn of oil income will barely register.

    Quite how Salmond sees us coping with a debt of over 400% of GDP from day one, is one policy I am eagerly awaiting from the Minister for Independence (who's been VERY quiet so far).

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  • 68. At 6:30pm on 12 Mar 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    #65

    The penny hasn't dropped yet for some people. Our economy is in a much worse state than Ireland's and our banks are in a worse state than Iceland's.

    Proves nothing except our economy and our banks have been badly managed a problem we share with much of the West.

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  • 69. At 6:31pm on 12 Mar 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    Expat's lies have returned to full volume I see. No evidence, still trying to play the "your too poor, your too stupid ..." card alongside the "everything is wonderful, all is light" "strategy", no admission that Britain is amongst the worst-placed of all developed economies in the world (it could be the deeply delusional Gordon Brown himself posting).

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  • 70. At 7:44pm on 12 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #61 brigadierjohn

    Yes, usiing evidence is a weakness of mine - it's the historian in me. Not a problem many journalists have. (Liked your story in your #63 btw!)

    #62 & #65 Reluctant-Expat

    Just have a look at Table 1, and ignore the oil. There's Scotland down among the economic minnows of Germany and Finland.

    "we still receive billions more, every year, from our gracious neighbours!" - Proof of that absurd statement?

    #67 Reluctant-Expat

    You don't really understand much about economics - back to your school books!

    At Independence, negotiations take place between the governments over the division of assets and liabilities. The diissolution of Czechoslovakia provides a useful model.

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  • 71. At 7:53pm on 12 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #67 Reluctant-Expat

    Well, if that's a tenth of the UK debt (if you spllit it according to population), perhaps we're not the ones with the worries!

    Titanic and lifeboats spring to mind - can you swim Expat?

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  • 72. At 10:50am on 13 Mar 2009, Dunroamin wrote:

    68. You clearly do not have any idea what is going on in Iceland and Ireland or any grasp of the economy in general.

    Are you Alex Salmond?

    70. "we still receive billions more, every year, from our gracious neighbours!" - Proof of that absurd statement?

    Of course, please read post 46. Right where it says:
    "In 2006-07, the estimated net fiscal balance, in Scotland, that is the estimated current budget balance plus estimated net capital investment, was a deficit of ?10.2 billion excluding North Sea revenue...or a deficit of ?2.7 billion including an estimated geographical share of North Sea revenue."

    I think it is quite clear. What part of that don't you understand?

    Or perhaps Salmond is lying...or mistaken...?

    Are you actually trying to lecture anyone on economics when you even refuse to accept SNP financial figures?

    71. "Well, if that's a tenth of the UK debt (if you spllit it according to population)..."

    No, very obviously that's not a tenth of the UK debt. That's the amount of cash the horrifically evil UK has spent on propping up Scotland's two biggest banks. Try reading the papers instead of the usual endless nationalist mince.

    About half of the entire UK debt has been spent just on the failed Scottish banks of RBS and HBOS. Vastly more than has been spent digging out the relative minnows of NR and B&B.

    Do you seriously expect the people of the UK will be happy to prop up two foreign banks with such a vast sum, if Scotland did go it's own way?

    Oh dear!

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  • 73. At 11:36am on 13 Mar 2009, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #70 oldnat: Select any bit of evidence you like. Somebody will question its veracity or impartiality. But you don't need to cite "evidence" to prove that if Scotland has more money she will be better off. Well, on second thoughts, her ability to squander will be increased.
    Just say what you think sometimes, and don't feel the burden of history upon you.

    Glad you liked my wee story to break the tedium. PattyM thought I was being "self-absorbed." I think she may have meant "self-obsessed" because "self-absorbed" conjured up a picture of something going down the loo in supersoft Andrex. Maybe that's the picture she had too?

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  • 74. At 11:43am on 13 Mar 2009, Sheneval wrote:

    48. 50. Bandages_For_Konjic:

    Sorry for delay in responding but I had baby sitting duties followed by a meeting last night :-)

    "So, LAs would receive a grant and would then decide themselves how to divvy it up - x amount for schools, y amount for childrens services etc."

    No In order to make this work, LA's would have to submit an annual budget for all facilities provided, according to Government specifications as they now apply, or as legislation changes, or population changes take place.

    This proper budgeting would eliminate the problems we currently encounter with lack of repairs etc. leading to closures.

    "LAs would be elected and held accountable on the basis of how well they spent the money awarded to them."

    I prefer to think of it as they would be elected on the basis of how well they controlled the administrators who would be spending the money provided, but they would of course continue to deal with resident's problems just as they do now.

    "My only issue with this is that LAs will, sooner or later, try to 'blame' difficult decisions on central government. When citizens ask - "Why is my local swimming baths being closed?" Answer comes, "Because Edinburgh said so." And so on . . ."

    If the cap fits, but if sufficient money is provided to meet budget requirements then problem should not arise, unless the Council budget is wrong. A certain amount would need to made available nationally to deal with emergency situations, otherwise budget applies.

    "And then you end up with something of a slanging match between LAs and Holyrood. Which you don't seem to get so much of, at the moment."

    I suspect it goes on all the time behind closed doors.

    "Presentationally, I think it might be tricky to get round the obvious, 'Stalinist, centralising, taking power away from Angus and giving it to Holyrood' jibes."

    Local power and accountability is a farce - Government legislation decides what needs to be done, and in any case all people really care about is that services are maintained.

    "Organisationally, it might be simpler - 1 taxation system, less bureaucracy etc, easier to understand."

    Should save a fortune and stop all the jollies unless they are itemised in the budget and Government accepts they are necessary.

    "But don't you have a problem ensuring that contributions are equitable? What about people who live of unearned income, savings etc. At the moment (Unless they're exempt) they would still be liable for Council Tax. How would you extend national taxation so that these people still contributed towards the services that they used?"

    Presumably such people now pay their income tax on their earnings and these are sufficient to pay their Council tax, which I suspect would make them very well off - if so, you could adjust the rate of taxation they pay to compensate. I doubt if the numbers we are talking about are large or would present a problem, but if necessary, with computer records, you could easily target households who don't pay income tax.

    "If you can resolve these issues, then I can't see a great deal wrong with what you say. Although, I'm still worried about the presentational aspects and I think you'd have a job selling it to the people."

    I agree - selling LIT to the better off has been a problem, so this would be no different but, as the ordinary voter would benefit, I expect the opposition would come from the same quarters as those opposing LIT.

    "Again, while I think about it - wouldn't a 'National only' tax system create difficulties around financial monitoring and accounting?

    At the moment, Holyrood says, put simply - "You raise it, you spend it and we'll monitor you against performance etc."

    Under "National only" wouldn't Holyrood say - "We've raised it, you're spending it but we want to monitor what you're spending it on to make sure it all gets to where it's supposed to."

    No - at present Holyrood says: You raise 20 pc of it - we'll give you 80pc and you spend it and take the blame, if you can't budget properly or we have not given you enough.

    "In which case - who's accountable in the event of discrepancies - Holyrood ("We don't spend it") or LAs ("That's was all we were given")"

    No change from the present except that Holyrood would recognise that they would have to meet the Council's budget requirements, provided they met the laid down criteria.


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  • 75. At 8:51pm on 13 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #72 Reluctant-Expat

    "Do you seriously expect the people of the UK will be happy to prop up two foreign banks with such a vast sum, if Scotland did go it's own way?"

    Hmm, so it's UK debt if we are splitting it on independence, but anything Scottish is exclusively Scottish debt??
    Cake and eat it, anyone?

    If it's strictly Scottish and English, how's about that several hundred billion oil revenue money England (Westminster) pi$$ed away back then please?

    Just as a matter if interest see Norway's Oil Fund. In twelve years since they set this fund up they have accrued the fine sum of USD323,000,000,000 (over GBP200 billion)

    Real world Expat.

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