China’s a paper tiger

With China selecting its new leadership and a bizarre row with the Japanese over some islands in the East China Sea, it’s worth reflecting on the impact of China’s economic miracle. Continue reading

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Is the ‘living wage’ to be the new minimum?

Where did this ‘living wage’ malarky spring from? It seems a group based in East London has been urging employers to increase wages. Sometimes, it seems, this improves morale and productivity to the extent that it pays for itself. Continue reading

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Renewable energy – dependent on English gold

I’m always a little bemused why the Unionist camp in Scotland doesn’t make more of the fact that renewable energy here benefits from an enormous subsidy transfer from the rest of the UK. It must be worth about half a billion by now. This would be placed in serious jeopardy by independence. At best (a bit like with the currency) policy would be outsourced to foreign control. See my take on it in Saturday’s Daily Mail.

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The energy market is a victim of the democratic cycle

The energy market in gas and electricity is one of Britain’s success stories. It was an extraordinary feat of imaginative policy making to introduce competition, not just in the capital markets via privatization, but for consumers and retailers too.

This won’t stop the politicians trashing the whole thing, though. Continue reading

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Lying by implication

For months now, the Scottish Government has been giving the strong impression that it had sought specific legal advice on whether an independent Scotland would be allowed automatically into the European Union. It has blocked attempts to force it to publish that advice and has responded to the growing clamour that it should publish by saying that legal convention prevents it from doing so. Continue reading

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The revolutionaries

Settling down to a rare TV treat on Tuesday made me think about the nature of nationalist politics in Scotland. The Border ITV franchise includes both parts of both Scotland and England, so you get to see England football internationals which have grumpily been banned by STV. But you also get BBC Scotland, which shows the odd Scotland game. If it hadn’t been for a torrential downpour in Poland I’d have been able to flick happily between the two matches. But if the SNP gets its way this option could be removed. Continue reading

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More choice on the railways

The Ministry of Truth has decreed that rail privatisation has been a failure. I’m not sure about that. Most of the indicators show that things were even worse under British Rail, not that that’s saying much. But there’s one thing missing from the rail industry that would make it much more efficient. Continue reading

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All benefits should be universal

You can’t talk about the benefits system unless you mention taxes too. Both have become so complicated that fiddling with one has unpredictable consequences for the other. The only sensible solution is for all benefits to be universal, regardless of income, and for redistribution to be confined to the tax side. Continue reading

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A u-turn on wind farms?

With the exception of independence itself, renewable energy is Alex Salmond’s greatest political passion. So what’s he doing appointing a rural, ex-Tory, bird-loving windfarm sceptic as Minister for Environment and Climate Change? Read my take on it here.

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Would Scotland have done better on its own?

An entertaining debate is taking place between the economists George Kerevan and Brian Ashcroft – and they seem to be pointing to some surprising conclusions about the performance of the Scottish economy. Continue reading

Posted in Scottish politics | 4 Comments