Sunday, 5 September 2010


The Herald today headlines the situation in North Lanarkshire where 2 000 job losses are anticipated due to cuts being enforced on Scotland from London.

It is important to make the distinction that the budget cuts are as a direct result of a smaller block grant from the UK to run Scotland’s affairs (as predicted by Mr Osborne), and not because the government in Scotland has any wish to see jobs go.

There are some frightening figures involved when the anticipated cuts are looked at across the whole of the country. Half of Scotland’s councils have announced job losses amounting to 13 000, but it anticipated that a further 20 000 are yet to be announced.

The sum of these, already announced and anticipated job losses is a frightening figure. And 33 000 is not the end of that.

33 000 more people on the dole with little chance of jobs means another 33 000 people not spending money in shops, pubs, council facilities, sporting fixtures, which will mean in turn that the people who provide retail, sporting and leisure facilities will also feel the pinch, and have to further reduce their establish
ed employment figures.

Added to this there are an additional number of Civil Service posts in Edinburgh and throughout the country which the government will reduce, and then there are posts which are controlled directly by the London government, delivering reserved functions. It is a frightening thought how many more people may be thrown on the dole scrap heap by these cuts.

But we need to remember too that job losses are only a part of the picture. A reduction of this size in staffing in councils and the civil service will mean a reduction in the quality of service we receive from these bodies.

The theory is that they should become leaner and meaner, and that the staff will simply step up to the plate and do the work of dismissed colleagues. Of course that won’t happen. Queues in council offices will be longer, telephones will go unanswered, and more errors will be made.

Roads will deteriorate, sporting and leisure facilities will close, children will have farther to go to school, and fewer police will be on the beat, despite the efforts of the government and the Tory opposition to increase their numbers.

Parks will be left uncared for, grass will not be cut, ponds will not be cleaned, graffiti will stay in place, roads will not be swept, and bins will be collected less frequently.

In these situations it does not take long for towns to deteriorate into eyesores.

Additionally it is anticipated that costs of services will have to rise. So best to save for your care when you get old, and for creation when you die...

We are going to be paying dearly for the excesses of bankers and the incompetence of the London governments over the years ...

Unfortunately for the country, at times like this the most competent people tend to look around the world for somewhere else to live.

I’m starting a Norwegian course shortly. These two may or may not be connected....


  1. I'm off to North Korea they never cut the public sector there and are only slightly more draconian than the Tories. Although nowadays we have three sorts of Tories, the old (Cameron the new (Miliband) and the very new (Clegg), what a choice! I only hope there is never any talk of a new SNP!

  2. the snp do not have to cut anything anywhere they do not want to.............not one single penny zero..nil..owt...

    They only have to develop the guts to tell the Westminster parliament to fuck off and let them impose cuts directly.

    or declare U.D.I if they have the balls and looking at Alex they aint.

    Norway ya! coward not going to stay and fight! fight! fight! for your precious Independence
    double coward even

  3. Tris,

    Scotland must cut the size of the public sector up here - but I will agree with you on one thing, this is NOT the time to do it.

    With unemployment still rising in Scotland, as you rightly indicate above, Scotland is potentially still in recession.

    It needs economic stimulus through tax cuts - but we need more powers to do that ...

    Yet I do believe that the 'London' Government has bene rather fair to the needs of Scotland; Osborne has proposed that the SNP get to delay their cuts till next year, when we as a nation can afford it - which I [and Salmond it seems] thinks is entirely sensible. AND he is granting Holyrood more tax varying powers in relation to income tax [for example].

    I am pleased with the direction of travel in policy terms from Osborne, but is he doing enough? Only time will tell, but it is unfair to criticise him and this 'London' government for not bothering with Scotland.

  4. OK Munguin.

    If there is any food here next year I will send you a food parcel. (But don't count on it.)

  5. Hum Niko. have you been on the gin this morning?

    You coming to Norway with me Niko....?

    Oh go on, it'll be fun...

  6. We have a disproportionately large public sector Dean, because, like the North of England, when our heavy industry was closed down, we were given civil service jobs to compensate.

    It’s not really Scotland’s fault. It’s not really like that’s the kind of work we wanted.

    What we do want is some manufacturing work, but in a recession, and remember the whole of the UK is only a few decimal points away from a recession, we need investment in private investment.

    Clearly the private sector is unlikely to do this without a huge hand up from government.

    It is unfortunate. Like you I don’t like government interfering greatly in business. It’s not good at it. But nothing else will work here.

    Our infrastructure is appalling. We still have single track roads between major cities. Our railways are diesel in an age of electric trains everywhere else in Europe, there is a vast amount of work that could be done by private companies, but it will need to be funded by government.

    We’re not miles apart on this.

    Salmond didn’t have to cut a penny piece this year it is true, but can you imagine the field day that Labour would have if they hadn’t prepared Scotland for double cuts next year. Cuts that it may be a Labour/Liberal government in Scotland will have to implement.

    The cuts will have to be started this year; there will be more next year. It is a disastrous policy but the government is the government and the money comes from London.

    Partial tax control is no use to us. To govern effectively a country must have complete control of its tax and it must have borrowing powers. It would need to have control over its proportion of BBC tax too. Anything else is half assed.

  7. Tris, what has to made plain to all voters is that under devolution and as part of the UK, it makes no real difference who you vote for to run the Scottish Parliament in a time of austerity, all any Scottish Government can do is budget with the block grant they are given.

    As England slashes its public spending under Conservative/Lib-Dem rule in Westminster these cuts are also applied to Scotland. Not directly, as the Scottish Government can give different public services different priorities to England, but the Scottish block grant is directly proportional to English public spending and it will decrease exactly in line with cuts in England.

    The Scottish Government in Holyrood is slaved into whatever public spending policy is decided in Westminster.

    Labour will run its campaign on the falsehood that it can somehow defend Scotland against these cuts better than the SNP when in fact both are in the same boat under devolution rules. What the electorate have to understand is that a vote for Labour is a vote for the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to continue to rule Scotland. A vote for Labour is a vote for Conservative rule.

    Only the SNP can offer a road different to the three main British parties in Scotland, a road which doesn't stop in Holyrood and doesn't play to devolution rules and that is the road to independence.

    The SNP have to make the electorate aware that only an SNP vote is a vote to remove David Cameron as the Conservative Prime Minister of Scotland and that the Labour policy is, "Better Tory than independent". For the SNP their slogan should be, "Tory cuts or independence". Scotland must be the only nation to find oil and continue to find oil and get poorer all the while.

  8. Perfectly put Doug.

    The overall policy is decided in England by an English majority elected government. Whatever they decide is their total spend, we are allowed a percentage to be spent how we will.

    If during the year they decide to spend more, then we may get a consequential; if they decide to spend less... the same

    The raising of individual taxes in Scotland as Dean says we are to have, won't make any difference. If we collect more in tax from them, the block grant will be reduced. We end up with the same amount of money.

    We can't borrow a halfpenny even though the City councils can borrow millions.

    Who was it that said it was a Toytown parliament.

    Th Channel Islands and Isle of Man have a far better deal.

  9. There have been some very prominent voices here in the states pointing out that it's nothing less than madness to cut public spending in a faltering economy. But so far, this idea seems not to have penetrated the consciousness of British and European politicians and central bankers.

  10. Tris,

    I was actually suggesting we cut income tax up here as much as the devolved settlement permits.

    Consumers need more money in their pockets to spend - and the services sector will be the engine of growth.

  11. Actually Dean cuts in income tax of that nature (3p in £) make pretty little difference to people who need the money.

    If you are on £200 a week and you have a £120 a week tax free allowance, that means you are paying 20p in the pound on £80, ie £16 a week in tax. If you reduce that to 17p in the pound; you would have an extra £2.40 a week in your pay packet.

    OK. It's better than nothing, but it wouldn't buy much, and yet it would collectively cost the government quite a lot of revenue in a year when multiplied by the 2.5 million people who are working in Scotland.

    The other thing about that is that it benefits most the people who need it least. IE those who earn £2000 a week would benefit to the tune of £24.00!

    I feel that if you are taking income tax down like that, you have to have something else to balance it. You must have a wide variety of taxes to play with. In fact I think you have to have the full gamut

    Because the government has to balance the tax take between business, individuals, earnings and spend, duty , VAT, income tax, inheritance, Capital gains, etc, it makes it hard to ahve two separate taxing authorites... sometimes at odds with each other.

  12. Danny:

    Unlike you I really don't much understand economics.

    However, I can see that, at a time when no one else is prepared to risk money, the government seems to be the logical investor.

    It doesn't do the job itself, but it contracts out getting bridges repaired. It builds railways, roads , etc, etc, in preparation for the upturn... which will be caused by the employment (and therefore money) which its investment generates.

    It seems relatively simple to me, but I'm sure ther is an alternative philosophy.

  13. Tris....if you understand even less than I do about economics, you are in a serious world of hurt. But your reasoning sure makes sense to me.

    A while back, I saw a European banker address the debt issue. His view was that Washington believes the US economy is so fundamentally strong that it doesn't think US Treasury bonds and other credit paper will ever be downgraded by the credit rating agencies. The UK and European bankers and politicians are not sure about that it seems....for themselves, or for that matter the US. Two differing views of the seriousness of near term budget deficits it seems. But if budget cuts cause the economic recovery to falter, then the budget deficit will continue to increase, and the public services you describe will still be seriously impacted.

  14. LOl Danny...

    I'm hurting!!

    It seems to me to be worth the risk. I honestly don't know how it can go wrong... (as long as Standard and Poor keep their grubby little paws out of it that is!!)

    It's all make believe anyway... I mean, President Hu doesn't actually have all these US dollars under his bed; they don't actually exist! They are all made up... like Little Red Riding Hood really!

  15. Tris...Your Little Red Riding Hood analogy is a very cogent explanation of international credit and finance. And you tried to tell us you didn't know much about economics. Such rubbish! :-)

    For well over 200 years, the United States has financed its worldwide operations with money it didn't actually have. I see no reason at all to change that policy now. And the Europeans would do well to follow our splendid example.

    As for Standard and Poor's, not to worry! To use an example I heard recently, the strong UK and European central banks shouldn't worry about the situation in Greece any more than the Washington government worries about Arkansas.

  16. Tris,

    Those who have most, have more to spend ...

  17. Danny,

    Did you hear about the new banking regulatory bill the MEPs have passed? I doubt, if that is any evidence to go by, that Europe will be following the US example any time soon. And you would forgive me for supporting that decision?


  18. Dean.....

    Somehow I'm not surprised to hear that you and the Europeans are NOT following the American example. All things considered, that's probably an excellent decision. ;-)

  19. LOL... yep Danny. Maybe after all I do have a grasp of international finance... There's a wolf and a little girl and a grandma, right?

    I think you'll have to pardon the Europeans. They have spend the last 500 years and more fighting each other. It's a lot of history to get over.

    And in the UK, outside the monetary union, we are always hearing just how near collapse the Euro is (despite the fact that to my recollection it started life at 66p = €1 and now it's (as I write) 84p = €1 (an increase in value of around 25% (off the top of my head), and that's despite the situation in Arkan..., sorry Greece!

  20. LOL. Thanks Dean. That's a good first lesson in Economics :-)

  21. After that profound educated statement what can one say! (should of gone to uni maybe in my next life)

  22. Tris,

    Thanks, was up all night theorising over that one ;)

    As to the euro, it is strong, resiliant, and permanent. The UK ought to sign up immediately.

    Don't be taken in by the medievalism of the eurosceptics!

  23. Cynical,

    Peak oil? Haven't they been saying that for decades? A bit like peak oil from the North Sea - they are always making new discoveries.

    But I do take the point about free market, capitalistic systems being dependent on growth, on finite resources. Thats a damn good argument for mixed markets, regulation [but not burdensome], and a paternalistic economic government mindset; ready to intervene and direct where necessary [i.e banks, which, to my mind, is still not being directed properly by government - we do bloody own them after all; or at least most Brit ones]

  24. Dean,1518,715138,00.html

    The NSea is a drop in the ocean Worldwide.

  25. Economics is a load of is just opinion. That is why economists can never agree!

    Peak oil is going to happen around 2015. The fact is it was only us 20% of the worlds population in the west that was using these resources at an increasing rate but now the other 80% of the poorer countries are demanding and using oil at even greater rates as their huge populations get richer and richer. We cant get the stuff out of the ground quick enough and it is going to get worst.

  26. Exactly Billy.

    Fairy tales mainly...

  27. I'm not taken in by them Dean mate. Clearly there are good and bad parts of the EU and the common currency.

    I don't know whether there are more good or more bad.

    At least you are consistent. You think that Scotland should be part of the Union and the UK.

    So many of your party are heartily for the union with England and Wales, but bitterly opposed to the union with Europe.

    Why? If there are advantages of size in being joined to a bigger, richer neighbour (England) then why does the same thing not apply to being joined to Germany? it's bigger and richer too.

    If it's ok to lose some of your own identity in union with England, why not with Sweden or Luxembourh or Malta?

    If it's ok to have a currency which serves the farming communities of Lewis and the business centres of London alike, why not share the same currency with the businessmen of Vienna, or the hill farmers of Tuscany?

    It couldn't be something to do with a hearty dislike of foreigners who eat strange food and speak foreign languages could it?


  28. Dean as I have tried to get you to understand over the last couple of years about what the economy is built on. To no avail obviously.

    The World economy started to grow when that black stuff oozed out of the ground. 1 barrel of oil holds enough energy to replace 4 men working 12 hr shifts for a year. At 80 dollars a barrel equates to 20 dollars for each man per annum, now dont spend it all at once as rainy days are coming.

  29. Is Tavish signed up to this!

    How about the 'Scottish Dram' as a currency I'll drink to that.

  30. I wonder if he has CH...

    It does stop at least some of the leakage, I suppose, in that encourages local purchasing.

    Scotlandwide that would be an idea.

    Too much of the money we spend in Scotland goes out of the country in the form of Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury and Morrison taking it south.

    BP and Shell petrol stations add to that.

    So does the BBC talking our licence fees and spending most of it on English "stars", English producers and English locations.

    Then there's tax, road tax, duty... all straight back to London.

    It's worth a thought.

    Dunno what Tavish thinks... dunno IF tavish thinks...

  31. Or who thinks about 'His vat'.

    or take you pick not by Hughie Greene

  32. A chagrinned chilly... !!!!!

    Good site, thanks, I'll keep it bookmarked!!