Playing with numbers SNP style

Glancing through the Scottish Government’s latest analysis of the impact of Brexit on Scotland (Scotland’s Place in Europe: People, Jobs and Investment) it’s difficult to believe that this has been produced by supposedly impartial civil servants.

The language is highly misleading, the calculations questionable and the assumptions make Mr Fantastic from the Fantastic 4 look as stretchy as me when I’m tying my shoelaces. Luckily it’s so implausible that it’ll do the nationalist cause more harm than good given their track record on these kinds of economic forecasts. Continue reading

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Will Scotland miss out on a UK productivity boost?

For years now Britain has relied on attracting workers from abroad to grow its economy. In other words we’ve been becoming bigger as a country but not much richer as individual citizens (on average). Businesses have preferred to hire more people rather than to invest in skills and machinery to boost output. Unemployment has stayed low and immigration high, but productivity has suffered. Could this all be about to change? In today’s Telegraph I suggest that better education in England and lower migration as a result of Brexit could lead to more investment and so higher output per worker. But this might not take place in Scotland. Continue reading

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Abroad – and back again

In 2013 we went to go and live in Brussels for a couple of years. Since we returned in 2015 I haven’t got round to blogging until now, though I’ve written a few articles in the media which are on this site. The new year seems a good time to start again, and there’s plenty of material as ever: Brexit, the nationalists’ relentless efforts to break up the country, and my own adventure as a Tory local councillor here in the Borders with, of all things, the ‘Planning and Environment’ portfolio to keep me busy.

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Scandinavia is Tory

Just as in 1707 the debate on Scottish independence revolves around pounds and pence rather than national identity. I can’t work out whether this is a triumphant display of the continuity of Scottish pragmatism and penny-wariness down the centuries, or simply an indication of how compatible England and Scotland really are. Perhaps a bit of both. Continue reading

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Post Leveson proves the case against Leveson

Until the Leveson Report came out I was pretty agnostic about the whole thing. Aren’t we all ‘regulated’ by Parliament, after all? In a sense, having to regulate the press via an arm’s length body might actually make it harder for politicians to censor the media than if they can just pass laws directly. Continue reading

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The churches need to work out what their audiences might like and offer it to them

I attended a wonderful Church of Scotland memorial service yesterday. The eulogies were excellent, the readings appropriate and the hymns were classics such as ‘Onward Christian soldiers’ and ‘I vow to thee my country’. You would never hear these in a normal service. The only time you hear decent hymns is at weddings or funerals when they’re chosen by members of the congregation rather than by the minister. This is just one example of the fundamental disconnect between the church and its audience (both actual and potential). Continue reading

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The e-cigarette revolution

I’m fascinated by e-cigarettes. In case you haven’t seen them, they look just like real fags, weigh a bit more, and have a light that glows when you puff on them. Instead of inhaling tobacco smoke, you drag on, and exhale, vapour imbued with a touch of nicotine. They work in the same way as asthma inhalers. The potential for them is vast. Continue reading

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