Monday, 20 May 2013
Oh dear, here we go again. The Scottish Government has now received legal advice on Scotland's position regarding the EU if we become independent, but they won't tell us what it is. Given that their position has moved from 'automatic EU membership' to 'negotiated membership' post-independence, can we really trust what they say in their forthcoming White Paper without seeing the advice which is behind it? And can we really trust the SNP with our savings when Nicola Sturgeon seems to be banking on global reform of the banking sector to prevent a repeat of 2008? What about pension protection? Does Scotland have enough solvent company pension schemes to pay in to our own protection scheme so that members of collapsed pension schemes are compensated? Calton thinks not. As far as pensions go, there is definitely strength in numbers. A lot of questions like this are going to surface over the next 16 months and the Yes campaign are going to have to come up with better answers than they have done to date if they want to have any hope of convincing the likes of Calton that Scotland should go it alone.
Sunday, 19 May 2013
Nicola Sturgeon has rolled out Hollywood film producer Iain Smith, award-winning chef Roy Brett and events expert Prof Joe Goldblatt to back her argument that Scotland would be better off independent. Unfortunately, Brett seems to be confused between Westminster, which is in charge of VAT, and the EU, which determines our fishing policy. Under the SNP's plans, an independent Scotland would only be able to control the former - the fishing policy would still be out of our hands. Maybe he should stick to cooking. Calton also has his doubts about Goldblatt, who thinks that an independent Scotland would "become one of the most successful tourism destinations in the world". Not once the SNP have covered it with windfarms it won't. It will also not be so attractive to film companies for location shoots once the landscape has been industrialised on a grand scale (unless the next Bond film has a helicopter chase though a windfarm as its opener). Scotland does have a lot of assets and a lot of great businesses. We are being hampered by Westminster's restrictive immigration policies, brought in because they have no control over immigration from within the EU. The answer is not "independence within Europe" but for the Scottish Government to work with Westminster to help businesses by reducing red tape (much of it from the EU), and to agree an immigration policy which takes account of Scotland's needs. Unfortunately there is not much sign of that happening between now and next September.
Friday, 17 May 2013
Calton thought for a minute that Alex Salmond was talking about himself when he was recorded as saying "This is a man who doesn't like getting challenged because, when the obnoxious views of his party are put to him, his bubble deflates very quickly." but then Calton realised that our First Minister never deflates so he must have been talking about Nigel Farage, thereby earning this blog's Black Pot of the Month award. The way Farage has been treated in Scotland, not just by the demonstrators yesterday but also by the presenter of Good Morning Scotland this morning and by the SNP leader who dismissed him by saying "people shouldn't take someone of Mr Farage's mentality seriously", is nothing short of shameful. It casts all Scots in a bad light and exposes the nasty underbelly of Scottish Nationalism. Farage is quite right to call it fascism. As someone on twitter so aptly put it:
Farage exposed unpalatable truth that Scottish independence is as much about hatred of the English as the desire to be a sovereign nationCalton does not agree with all Farage's views but you've got to like someone who continues to speak his mind in the face of those who try to bully and intimidate us into silence. Haste ye back Nigel!
— Seat of Mars (@seatofmars) May 17, 2013
Thursday, 16 May 2013
So, let's see if Calton has this right - Amazon were given £2.5m by the Scottish Government to expand their operations in Dunfermline and Gourock and, in return, the company has paid £2.4m tax. That does not sound like a very good deal. OK, so they have created some jobs, of which quite a few have gone to Eastern Europeans. The arrangement seems to be that Alex Salmond, that well-known supporter of the EU, says that we need more immigrants to fill the jobs which his government is paying companies like Amazon to create. Here's Calton's idea - we leave the EU, stop paying companies based in Luxembourg large sums of money to provide jobs for non-UK nationals and use the money to improve the employability of our young people instead. If Amazon don't like it, they can take their low-paid jobs somewhere else. If we didn't have an open door to any EU national who wants to come and work here, we wouldn't need them. (Calton realises that he risks being mobbed a la Farage next time he visits the Canons' Gait for daring to air such views but, tant pis, someone needs to say it.) The bottom line is this - subsidising industry to locate here doesn't work in the long term. Improving the skills of our workforce does.
Tuesday, 14 May 2013
Is it any surprise that there is growing support for the idea that we should leave the EU when the European Council, backed by the European Parliament, has just agreed the European Commission's request for an extra £6.2bn to be added to the budget, in spite of Cameron talking tough a few weeks ago. Calton doesn't like to say "I told you so" but ... it was entirely predictable that this would happen, and it completely knocks the legs out from under the Prime Minister's idea that he can renegotiate our position within the EU. We just don't have that much clout. However, it is good to see that one of the three main parties (four in Scotland) is now willing to give the British people a say regarding our continued membership of the EU. Labour and the Libdems are going to look increasingly out of touch with the electorate if they continue to refuse to back an in-out referendum on the EU, especially if, as seems likely, UKIP continue to make gains in elections. The Aberdeen Donside by-election will be an interesting indicator of UKIP's support in Scotland, with the announcement of Otto Inglis as their candidate. (Inglis previously contested Dunfermline and West Fife in the last Westminster election.) Calton awaits the outcome, which is anything but predictable, with interest. (And perhaps, given UKIP's recent share of the vote down south, he should be talking of four main parties, five in Scotland?)
Monday, 13 May 2013
If taxes are not going to rise to pay for the SNP's welfare proposals, where's the money going to come from? Oil? And when the black gold runs out? Borrow like there's no tomorrow? (Oops - wrong party. Calton is getting confused with Gordon Brown. Mind you, apart from the unionist/nationalist thing there's not much to choose between the SNP and Labour since both are socialist, Europhile, big spenders.) Calton isn't sure that either campaign did themselves any favours today - while Sturgeon dug herself into an ever-deeper hole with her 'natural majority' and 'no rise in taxes', the Great Broon's reappearance on the political stage is hardly an encouragement to vote No if it means going back to the spend, spend, spend of the Labour years. It would be Hobson's choice for Scots, saddled with high spending and the EU whichever way they vote, if today's speakers were the whole story. Fortunately, there has been a sea-change down in England over the EU which might just cause some ripples up here, giving the voters more choice. Anything that shakes up the current stale old slagging match between Labour and the SNP has to be a good thing, in Calton's book.
Sunday, 12 May 2013
Recent polls have shown a drop in support for the Yes campaign so what does Nicola Sturgeon do? Invents a new phrase - "natural majority". She defines this as the number of people who will vote for independence if the SNP can persuade them that it opens the door to a wealthier and fairer country. Now, leaving aside the fact that the results of SNP's own poll show that 43% of those polled would still vote No even if persuaded that an independent Scotland would be wealthier and fairer, the little 'if' in Sturgeon's definiton of 'natural' is a big one. A very big one. Not one that will go away just by making assertions. If the Yes Campaign are to have any chance of winning a majority, natural or otherwise, they need to prove some hard facts, like exactly how much oil we are going to have and what it is going to be worth. They need to tell us how we are going to be a fairer country and what exactly that will mean in terms of taxes. Better childcare provision and better care for the elderly costs money. We need to know where that money will come from in an independent Scotland. It's all very well the SNP promising jam tomorrow if we vote Yes but it is now becoming obvious that the council tax freeze introduced by the Scottish Government is resulting in visible cutbacks in services and, in the NHS, waiting times in A&E have increased dramatically. The SNP's attempts to buy votes are starting to unravel so why should we believe them when they say that an independent Scotland will be wealthier and fairer? Hopefully the majority of Scots will be canny enough to realise that you don't get something for nothing.
Friday, 10 May 2013
Unlike Barbara Hewson, Calton has no sympathy at all for old men whose "misdemeanors" are finally catching up with them. Why should they get let off the hook just because it happened a long time ago? If there's one thing we have learned from the sorry saga of child abuse, both personal and institutional, that has filled our news in the last few years, is that it often takes years to come to light. Imposing a statute of limitations on this type of crime would be extremely unjust. We also need to remember that there is often a progression of abuse, starting with milder forms of inappropriate behaviour, which paedophiles use to gauge whether or not the victim is likely to complain if the abuse intensifies, and so even what Hewson classes as "low-level misdemeanors" need to be taken seriously. The type of behaviour which Hewson categorises as low-level could still be traumatic for a vulnerable young person. As for lowering the age of consent to 13, Calton is glad to see that this has been almost universally, and quite rightly, criticised.
Thursday, 9 May 2013
Calton is getting fair scunnered with the way Alex Salmond keeps blaming other parties instead of answering the question and taking positive action at FMQs. Today he was blaming the Conservative Government of 1993. Who cares who did what twenty years ago? What we want, and what Ruth Davidson was asking for, is action to stop dangerous criminals being released from prison. Politicians may, rightly, not be able to influence parole board decisions but they can, and should, introduce whole life tariffs in Scotland and end automatic early release which makes a mockery of serious crime sentencing. Calton has commented on this issue not long ago - it would be good if the Scottish Government took the concerns of himself and others seriously instead of using the situation to try and score points off the Conservative leader at FMQs. Safe streets are important and so it was the Tories who came up trumps in today's FMQs. They are also doing a good job highlighting the fact that a third of people prosecuted for domestic abuse are let off with a warning. So much for zero tolerance. It's time the SNP got tough on crime.
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
At time of writing, the Times vote on whether we should be in or out of the EU was 56% OUT to 44% IN. Calton voted OUT. That should come as no surprise to his regular readers. If we left the EU our farmers would at least be able to bury their dead sheep instead of paying the knacker to take them away. We would be able to manage our own fish stocks. We wouldn't be forced into an unaffordable energy policy by EU directives. We would be our own boss again. Unfortunately Alex Salmond is so wedded to the European ideal that even UKIP's tremendous gains in last week's English elections fail to warn him of his impending doom if he carries on down the EU path. For far too long our political elite have not been listening to voters and have not given them a choice on Europe (or gay marriage). It's therefore no surprise that UKIP are cleaning up - no the EU, no to gay marriage, no to windfarms. What's not to like? (Unless you are a Libdem, in which case you are an endangered species.) If the SNP don't start listening to the electorate, they too will be on the endangered list.