Thursday, 28 November 2013

Things can only get better?

The SNP truly are deluded. Faced with negative comments from Wales over the Sterling zone and warning noises from Spain over EU membership, their response is to say, effectively, that the rUK would be mad not to include Scotland in a currency union and the EU would be insane not to want Scotland as a member. Well, which of them has lost their marbles is a matter of opinion - in Calton's opinion it's the SNP, not Wales or Spain.

The other common delusion currently doing the rounds is that things couldn't possibly be any worse than they are at present, under the Westminster government, so we would be better off voting for independence. Wrong. Things not only could be a lot worse, they will be a lot worse. You've only to look at the costs involved in some of the proposals in the White Paper (renationalised mail service, separate TV, new passports, separate tax system) to realise that Scotland will be the poorer if we go it alone. Divorces cost money and it's the Scottish people who will foot the bill for this one. Far from being a richer, fairer nation, we will be impoverished for decades and it's pensioners and the poor who will suffer the most. If that's scaremongering, Calton is guilty as charged but the vision the SNP have set out for Scotland is what is truly frightening.

(Oh, and by the way, Calton was half-asleep yesterday morning but he's sure he heard someone from the SNP say that "independence in Europe" is the only sort of independence currently on the table, and, of course, that is no independence at all. Nice to have that clarified by the Yes campaign.)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

If this is Utopia, no thankyou

It may well be sensible, reasonable, logical, etc, etc for the rUK to be in a sterling currency union with us post-indy but the noises coming from England and Wales are not positive at the moment. It would inspire more confidence if the SNP listened to those noises, rather than ignoring them, and answered the questions the noises generate, such as the one posed by Drew Smith at Holyrood this afternoon (35 mins in), instead of ducking the issue, as the Deputy First Minister did.

Calton has still to digest the contents of the White Paper (literally) but one thing did stand out today and that is the SNP's nightmare vision of an independent Scotland bankrolled by the taxes of women freed from the drudgery of caring for their own children by increased state provision of nurserycare, which will, in turn, provide 35,000 low paid jobs for women, caring for other women's children while their mothers work in the modern equivalent of the old mills - call centres and warehouses. The irony of it all seemed, unfortunately, to be lost on Ms Sturgeon as she enthusiastically presented this Utopia that could be ours, if we vote yes. Yet another reason to vote NO.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Time to grow up

What a bunch of chancers! Having secured Westminster's agreement that the result of the independence referendum would be binding, the SNP now seem to think that anything in their white paper, to be published tomorrow, will also be binding on Westminster. What planet are these people living on? They seem to think that things will happen, Oprah-style, just because they say so. Calton sincerely hopes that they will be brought down to earth with a bang and the sooner the better. If a nation could be built on airy assertions Scotland would certainly be well-equipped to become independent. Unfortunately it doesn't work like that - the hot air from Holyrood doesn't even manage to warm Calton's eyrie never mind build something of substance. Westminster have agreed that if we vote yes, we get independence. Everything else is up for negotiation and the Welsh have quite rightly said that they want a say in any agreements which affect them. We would do the same if the positions were reversed. It's time the SNP grew up and realised that you don't always get something just because you want it - that's childish thinking. If we are to have any hope of going it alone as a nation we need mature leaders, not big kids.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Precious metal

As long as it is possible to do, as Calton did today, and walk into a Scottish scrapyard with a few bits of copper pipe (which he found in his loft) and get £3 per kg cash with no questions asked, idiots will continue to risk not only their own lives but those of others in pursuit of a quick quid. Calton was under the impression that the Scottish Government was going to bring licensing of scrap metal merchants into line with that of England and Wales but it doesn't seem to have happened yet. "Bring it on" is all he can say, a sentiment probably echoed by the residents of Greenock, not to mention communities across the north of England where metal theft is high due to the ease of shipping the stuff north over the border for conversion into cash. Alex Salmond likes to think that an independent Scotland would attract business but Calton doubts he was thinking of the illegal cross-border scrap metal trade. This is one area where having the same approach as England and Wales would definitely be a good thing.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Vote Yes for total dependence

The European Commission, an unelected body euphemistically called the 'executive arm' of the EU, has been coming the heavy on Spain and Italy over their budgets. And this is the EU which self-styled supporter of independence Alex Salmond wants us to remain part of (if they'll have us)? Nein danke is all Calton can say. How anyone who believes in self-determination can, at the same time, think that EU membership is a good thing is a mystery. The same applies to a currency union with England. We already have that as part of the UK - if it's such a good thing, why vote for independence? We have the best of both worlds with devolution. Why risk it for a very uncertain future as a supposedly independent country which will, in reality, be totally dependent on either the EU or the rUK? If the SNP really believed in self-determination they would ditch the idea of being in the EU and would be making plans for us to have our own currency as the preferred choice, not a plan B or C. Sadly, they don't have the bottle. If they did, Calton would consider voting Yes. As it is, it's No all the way.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Would someone please kill this bill?

Calton has to give Margo MacDonald 10/10 for perseverance and 10/10 for bad temper. The former is for introducing another assisted suicide bill and the latter is for her performance on Call Kaye this morning when called upon to defend her bill. The fact that Margo lost the rag with someone who opposes her bill clearly demonstrates what an emotive issue this is, and legislating on the basis of emotions is never a good idea, nor is legislating on the basis of a few tragic but unusual cases. Dr Stephen Hutchison of the Highland Hospice is quite right when he highlights the inconsistency of our government trying its hardest to dissuade people from taking their own life on the one hand and yet, now, discussing a bill which would facilitate suicide. Calton is also worried about the fact that, if the new bill becomes law, there will be lethal doses of drugs floating about the community for up to 14 days if not used by the person who has requested them! What sort of training and assessment is going to be given to the "facilitators" who would collect these drugs from the chemist and, presumably, administer them to the patient since this bill is concerned with those who are unable to commit suicide unaided? Whatever the training, the thought that a certain class of people would be able to administer lethal drugs with legal impunity is chilling. Calton does not want to see Scotland go down this route - hopefully our MSPs will agree and boot out this bill, again.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Hobson's Choice - the army or unemployment?

While Calton can understand calls for the army recruiting age to be raised to 18, he does not agree with them. No-one is forcing 16 year olds to enlist and they cannot do so without the consent of their parents. They also do not see active service until they are 18. Yes, joining the army may result in significant mental, emotional and physical injury or death. So does becoming one of the many unemployed youth with no hope of finding a job. A recent review by the World Health Organisation has highlighted joblessness as a major health risk to young people, with suicide an immediate risk and chronic diseases such as cancer and stroke a risk in the long term. In an ideal world there would be no wars and there would be plenty of jobs for school-leavers. This is not an ideal world and closing the door to one viable career option for 16 year olds will not make it any better. Staying on at school until 18 is not appropriate for all young people - for some, the alternative of going into the forces provides them with the discipline they need and training which will stand them in good stead. On this day, as we remember the fallen, we also demonstrate our support for our armed forces. We need to take better care of them when they come out of the army, whether by choice, by redundancy or through injury and we need to take care of the youngsters who stay at home and struggle to find a job. Our young people deserve better than Hobson's choice.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

It's not the immigrants who are the problem

Calton has never disputed the fact that most immigrants to this country are hard-working and make a positive contribution to our economy. It is no surprise to find that, in recent years, they are less likely to be in receipt of benefits than Brits. The problem is, the ready supply of skilled people with a good work ethic has allowed us to ignore the fact that many of our young people are unemployable and many of our unemployed do not want to work. If we did not have uncontrolled immigration from the EU, genuine jobseekers would find it a lot easier to find a job and the work-shy would find it a lot harder to hide. We would not have such a huge problem with youth unemployment and business owners would be putting a lot more pressure on the government to sort out our education system so that it turns out employable youngsters. As it is, the influx of Eastern Europeans is masking a growing problem within our society. It is also fuelling resentment because, now, they are not just doing the jobs Brits don't want to do - they are doing jobs that some Brits do want to do. Recession has made us less fussy when it comes to a job, which would be no bad thing if the jobs were available. Given the announcement today of up to 1000 job cuts at BAE Systems yards north and south of the border, it is time for both the Scottish and Westminster governments to take a serious look at whether we can afford a further influx of Eastern Europeans at the end of the year, especially when we have no idea how many will come. We should let in the immigrants we need and the ones who need asylum but call a halt to unrestricted immigration from the EU.