Why Keep the Union?

I am more and more puzzled by the attitude of the Westminster pro-Unionists? Why do they want to hang on to Scotland? It’s full of pesky people always whinging, always demanding more and costing the English taxpayer a fortune or so we are told; Nicola Sturgeon arguing with the PM about what she wants from Brexit. Why not just let the English have a referendum to get rid?

Firstly I supposed there is sentiment. Maybe the UK PM does not want to end up as the rUK PM and go down in history as the one who lost Scotland, a bit like Lord North losing the USA.

It seems more likely knowing the present Tory government that it is about money. So do they know something the Scots don’t. England has few natural resources and has only a small manufacturing sector. Scotland has oil which England always points out is about to run dry. Is that the clue? Is it actually that Scotland is a useful economic milch cow for rUK? It certainly would explain the hysterical blasts of invective and downright misinformation that accompanies any attempt by Scotland to break free.


GE15 Election Myths and Misinformation

The main political parties are all in the business of frightening voters about the dire consequences in post election Britain which will result from a vote for another party.

If the Tories form the government they will continue their ideological mission to downsize the public sector and allow the private sector free reign to milk the public finances. They are the party of neo-lib policies based on the free market model of the Chicago School of Economics as highlighted by Naomi Klein in her book, The Shock Doctrine (2007). Ann Pettifor in Just Money refers to our present financial elite as “robber barons” and they are the ones manipulating the finger puppets within the Tory party. They are however really worried by the SNP and the effect they are having on the campaign, hence the several headless chicken scenarios going on.

If Labour forms a minority administration on a “confidence and supply” basis with the smaller parties one would hope for an orderly conduct of business over the next five years. Trident should be at least maintained with Conservative assistance while a budget compromise with some slackening of austerity is on the cards. The UK debt and deficit is being blown up as a scare tactic. National good housekeeping is not the same as your average family’s. Tweeter @buddy_hell explains the fallacy well. So whether we have a small continuing deficit or a small surplus at the end of the parliament is neither here not there in terms of a trillion pound total debt. Better economic management of money could well reduce the percentage deficit faster than the austerity model of deficit management.

However I fear the worst. The present Tories will stop at nothing to get back into power. They will never support a Labour government vote even to save Trident but will pursue every means fair or foul to bring down the government at the earliest opportunity. In this they will have the whole of the right wing press to help. The blatant scaremongering in the election campaign will be as nothing. If it damages the country’s credit rating so much the better; the quicker the Labour government will collapse. Why do this? Because in the immediate aftermath of the election only the Tories will have the money to fight another election and they will do anything to seize that chance.

And what of the Union? Pushed into another referendum with that sort of turmoil in Westminster, the Scots will almost certainly vote for independence. So much for all the smarm pre last year’s Independence vote about how much Scotland means to Tory hearts. Not as much as the riches of Croesus.

The Case of IDS

When the Conservatives / Lib Dem coalition first came to power I thought at least that Ian Duncan Smith would know what he was talking about as he had given every impression of researching the benefits traps during the years in opposition. How wrong can one be???

The problem he is supposed to be solving is not the size of the benefits bill but the underlying reasons. Why do so many people, young people especially, find it impossible to earn a living wage? It is not only those out of work but also many in work who need state assistance. In the latter case the taxpayer is effectively subsidising private companies so that they need not pay their workers sufficient to live on, i.e. the taxpayer is actually subsidising the profits of these firms. Why are others unable to get jobs even though there are plenty available? Partly it is cultural. Political parties have raised expectations of the good life so high that some do not want to take on many of the menial jobs available which are now done by immigrants. It is also the climate of education. Tony Blair talked about 50% of school leavers going to university. Not once did he mention the other 50% and what they would be doing. And so schools have concentrated on the academic rather than the life skills.

There is a benefits gap. Earn above a threshold and you are no better off than if you did not work at all. That transition requires a granular tax and benefit regime which very gradually removes benefits and increases the tax take up to perhaps something near the average wage. It effectively means that however little you earn you always see something more for your efforts.

How can Ian Duncan Smith not see that by simply cutting the size of the benefits bill he is making miserable lives more miserable still and doing nothing to make Britain a better place?