Friday, 30 December 2011

Who controls our destiny?

How can Scotland take full control of her own destiny if she is a part of the increasingly undemocratic European Union? That is the question Calton is asking himself after reading excerpts from Alex Salmond's New Year Message on The Scotsman's website. He is also rather worried about the reference to 'the UK’s counter-productive obsession with austerity'. That sounds to Calton rather like the First Minister has jumped on Labour's bandwagon, which, as we all know, is called 'spending our way out of debt'. Of course, if we do become independent and part of Europe, we will soon find that this is not an option, just as spending their way out of debt is not an option for Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain. Calton wonders if Herr Salmond has realised this yet. Probably not. Hence item 3 on Calton's 2012 wishlist.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

2012 Wish List

CBI Scotland director Iain McMillan has said today that the Scottish Government must direct its entire energy to rebuilding the economy, according to the BBC News website. Calton couldn't agree more and would therefore like to add the following to his New Year's wishlist:
  • Alex Salmond to concentrate on the Scottish economy instead of point-scoring against the Westminster Government.
  • The whole Scottish Parliament to forget about redefining marriage, legalising assisted suicide and other bills which, quite frankly, have far too much time spent on them when you take into account how few people they will benefit.
  • The SNP to stop thinking that the basket-case which is now Europe is going to be the answer to Scotland's economic problems.
  • Labour to stop thinking that a large public sector is a good thing.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Not in my back yard, thankyou!

It was announced today that approval has been given for a new 59 turbine windfarm in Moray and an extension to one in Lewis. Just over a month ago a 33 turbine windfarm in Sutherland was similarly given the go-ahead. Calton has always been rather doubtful of the wisdom of spoiling our beautiful countryside with large-scale windfarm developments and, after seeing the photos of the turbine which caught fire in the last big storm, has definitely, and unapologetically, become a windfarm NIMBY, because there's no way he wants burning debris landing on his eyrie!

Much is being made in today's announcements about the number of jobs which will be created, however most of these jobs will only be temporary construction jobs and it is unclear at present what the impact of the increasing number of windfarms will be on our tourist industry, which is one of the main employers in rural Scotland. The few permanent jobs provided by windfarms could easily be outnumbered by the jobs consequently lost in the tourist sector. Instead of building more and more windfarms to power homes, Calton thinks that investment should be directed towards making homes more energy-efficient and developing more reliable (and less incendiary) energy-generating methods.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

More on the 'Big Man'

Following on from my earlier post on the great train ejection, the Wee Red Squirrel (not to be confused with the Red Squirrel of the North) has some pertinent things to say, with which Calton agrees entirely. See here.

Too many young lives lost

Calton is sure he is not the only one concerned about the number of reports of knifings and shootings in Scotland over the festive period. It has been nothing less than shocking - a very real indictment on our society. There is no easy answer to this however two things are clear - firstly, that those convicted of violent acts are back out on our streets all too soon, and without having been rehabilitated. Daryn Maxwell, who has been convicted recently of murdering Reamonn Gormley, is a case in point. Secondly, the link between violence and alcohol abuse is proven beyond all doubt. Calton therefore fully supports the minimum pricing for alcohol bill, a bill which would have been on the statute books long ago had it not been for the opposition parties in the last parliament, because anything that deters people getting tanked up on cheap booze has to be a good thing. He would also like to see much tougher sentences for anyone caught carrying a knife and far more rigorous parole conditions for those convicted of violent crime. We need to rid our streets of violent thugs and make them safe again.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Calton would like to wish all his readers a very merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Friday, 23 December 2011

New Labour team - same old policies

Ken Macintosh, Scottish Labour's new Finance Spokesman, is to be commended for resisting the opportunity to just blame the SNP and Westminster governments for Scotland's rising unemployment when questioned by John Beattie on Radio Scotland two days ago. Unfortunately, much of what he recommended to solve the current economic problems we face just sounded like the same old Labour policies of borrowing our way out of debt and the continuance of a large public sector with rising council tax to pay for it. Calton is afraid that Scottish Labour will have to do a bit better than that if they are to win back the hearts and votes of the Scottish people!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Alex where's your bottle?

Calton is not normally a fan of the Red Squirrel of the North however Danny Alexander is quite right in highlighting the dangers of Scotland becoming independent and yet continuing to use Sterling. If the SNP are sincere in their desire to have the fiscal levers needed to strengthen recovery, boost growth and create jobs then they need to have fiscal autonomy, ie their own currency and their own central bank. Becoming independent yet tied to Sterling would leave us in a worse position than we are at present. Ditto becoming independent and adopting the Euro. Calton is not the only one who is starting to question why Alex Salmond does not understand this. Does he not have the bottle to go for full independence for Scotland, political and fiscal?

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Frau Merkel wants to have her kuchen and eat it

Calton makes no apology for once again commenting on events beyond the borders of Scotland because, with our First Minister's avowed desire to see Scotland at the top table in Europe, we ignore what is happening there at our peril. Today the European Central Bank gave out 489bn Euros-worth of 3-year loans to European banks at 1% interest and with lower collateral requirements which is the equivalent of your bank lending you £2000 at 1% for a clapped out old car. The hope is that the banks will use the money to buy up the debt of the likes of Spain and Italy, thus making the ECB a lender to sovereign nations at one remove. In other words, we are only one step away from seeing the ECB become a national bank for the nation of Eurozone, ie fiscal union. And fiscal union means political union. As Angela Merkel said to the Bundestag early this month - "We have started a new phase in European integration ... we aren't just talking about a fiscal union, rather, we have begun creating one." However in the same speech, she also said "A joint liability for others' debts is not acceptable", reiterating the German opposition to the introduction of Eurobonds. This is because, while the Germans want fiscal union, they don't want to be responsible for the debts of other nations like Greece and Spain. A case of the Germans wanting to have their cake and eat it then.

(See also Stephanie Flanders on the BBC News website.)

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Wanted - Santa for Farepak victims

Calton thinks it is shocking that, more than 5 years later, those who lost money when the Christmas hamper firm Farepak collapsed are still waiting for compensation. Even more worrying is the fact that it could easily happen again since pre-payment schemes such as Farepak are still not covered by legislation. It strikes Calton that this is the sort of thing that Margo MacDonald should be getting involved in, as it disproportionately affects the poorer members of Scottish society. She would benefit a far greater number of people if she tackled this issue as opposed to spending her time trying again to legalise assisted suicide. Come on Margo - be Santa for the Farepak victims this Christmas!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Wohnen Sie Deutsch sprechen?

Calton must be getting clairvoyant. Yesterday he posted about a Greater Germany and, lo, today the German Foreign Minister is quoted on the BBC news website as saying "For us, Europe is not only our destiny but also our desire. It is the lesson we learnt. Please understand for us Europe is much more than a currency or a single market... It is a political union we want." If that doesn't strike fear into your heart it's hard to imagine what would. Calton kann Deutsch sprechen enough to buy a beer in Munchen but he doesn't want to see it become Scotland's national language!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Something fishy in the state of Europe

Calton has always thought that 'independence in Europe' is a contradiction in terms. Why cut loose from a democratically elected parliament in Westminster only to submit to an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels? Do we really want to become part of a Greater Germany, the creation of which is the only way forward if the Euro is to survive? David Cameron has very sensibly told Merkozy where to go, in order to protect the City of London. Would that someone would do the same to protect what's left of the Scottish fishing industry!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Heading for oblivion

If Calton had been blogging at the time of the Scottish Conservative leadership election, he would have said that the conservatives (small c) had consigned themselves to oblivion, however, even with his far-sightedness, he did not anticipate how quickly this prediction would come true. Just a couple of months later, Ruth What's-her-name's profile is so low her wheel rims are striking sparks off the tarmac. The appointment of Michael Tait, recent winner of the Tartan Bollocks award, as her media director is unlikely to help unless he can invent a personality for her. Annabel Goldie may not have been everyone's cup of tea but at least she had a media presence. Ruth What's-her-name's main achievement since being elected has been to out-grey Mr Gray. Only the candidates for the Labour leadership are less conspicuous. If Murdo Fraser had deliberately planned the demise of the Scottish Conservative Party to make way for his new centre-right unionist party he couldn't have done it better.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Whom the Gods wish to destroy

Calton looked down from his eyrie on the hill this morning and spied a small gathering clothed in purple and white outside New St Andrews House. On closer inspection this turned out to be a group of Scotland for Marriage supporters, come to hand in a letter from 70 evangelical ministers in favour of maintaining traditional marriage. Calton suspects they may be wasting their time - those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad, which may account for Alex Salmond's spectacular loss of political nous on this subject. His overall majority seems to have gone to his head to the extent that he does not seem to either realise or care that his 'mind to back same-sex marriage' will cost him dearly, not just in votes but also in financial backing. Mad indeed.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Softly, Softly

Calton used to think that 'Softly, Softly' was the title of an old police TV series. Now it's the way the BBC treats truculent young men who swear at conductors and get thrown off trains for their pains. Every effort is made to allow said young men to air their side of the story, all in the interests of 'balance'. This morning on the Call Kaye Radio Scotland program we were invited to feel sorry for such a young man, who could clearly be heard on a YouTube video being abusive to a man who was just doing his job. Well, Calton for one has no sympathy for the foul-mouthed lad and every sympathy for the conductor and the last thing we need is for the BBC (which is supposedly a public service broadcaster) to be giving lads like him the oxygen of publicity - it just encourages them to carry on their abuse. It's at times like this that Calton wishes there was still a jail on Calton Hill - and it wouldn't be the Big Man who ended up in it if Calton had his way.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Moving the Goalposts Salmond-style

In the biggest act of gerrymandering Calton has seen since the Irish were told that they had given the wrong answer in the European referendum, the Scottish Government decided last week to open the consultation on same-sex marriage to anyone, regardless of whether or not they live in Scotland. Clearly the people of Scotland were not giving the answer which Alex Salmond wished to hear and could not be trusted to make up their minds on this important issue without outside help. One wonders whether the same thing will happen come the long-awaited independence referendum if the Scots do not come up with the 'right' answer!