A short piece on Gordon Brown’s management of the economy by the Renegade Economist Fred Harrison somewhat brings the Prime Minister’s policies into focus.
Newspapers have been quoting the survey by the World Economic Forum in which business leaders have been rating the solvency of world banks.
The rankings however were compiled just before the recent £50 billion bail-out by the UK, the nationalisation of the Icelandic banks and the larger US bail-out.
8. New Zealand
11. Hong Kong
15. South Africa
23. Slovak Republic
31. United Arab Emirates
32. Trinidad and Tobago
40. United States
43. El Salvador
44. United Kingdom
47. Costa Rica
52. Puerto Rico
53. The Gambia
57. Czech Republic
61. Brunei Darussalam
63. Saudi Arabia
68. Burkina Faso
70. Sri Lanka
73. Republic of Korea
78. Cote d’Ivoire
90. Dominican Republic
96. Bosnia and Herzegovina
102. FYR Macedonia
107. Russian Federation
117. Taiwan, China
130. East Timor
131. Kyrgyz Republic
Yes. That’s right.
The UK lies behind Peru and El Salvador.
Now given this report was a survey of the world’s economists whose advice our banks were no doubt taking; should we believe it?
Are the UK’s banks really behind Peru, El Salvador and Senegal?
Or is it an accurate representation that is slightly out of date, compiled as it was slightly before the bail-outs?
That must depend on whether you believe the bail-outs will work.
If reports are to be believed the Royal Bank of Scotland is next in line to be nationalised tomorrow. If that happens then there will be further pressure on the remaining UK bank’s to be nationalised too. The banking sector could be picked off one by one by the market and the taxpayer forced to pick up the tab.
On that Iain Dale post there have already been comments about the English taxpayer bailing out the Scottish bank.
It must be a pity, to all those who carp, that Scotland is not already independent.
An independent Scotland with a similar oil fund like our neighbour Norway could be similarly insulated from these turbulent times.
It would also have the economic levers to maintain its economy best, not just for the South-East of England as remains the case today. Remember Eddie George, the former Governor of the Bank of England: Unemployment in the north is a price worth paying for affluence in the South!
Although the credit crunch is global, take a look back at those rankings.
Sweden, Luxembourg, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands. All small countries lying in the top 10.
Even Ireland, who have recently guaranteed all deposits in their banks, are sitting 9th.
The argument that Scotland is too small to be financially unstable is farcical! I don’t hear anyone saying that Denmark is too small and should be run from Berlin. (Not since the days of Adolf Hitler and the Second World War anyway!)
As countries large and small struggle with the credit credit crunch from the U.S. and Russia down to Iceland with its 300 000 population, this population argument of independence must be seen to be invalid. Iceland, with a population slightly smaller than North Lanarkshire, isn’t exactly Miramont Gardens in Pimlico!
What matters now is that we take the right decisions to get out this mess.
Those decisions may be different for each country. They may even be different for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
That’s why its important key economic levers are devolved away from Westminster.
Otherwise the Eddie George syndrome will hamper ‘the North’ recovering for years.
So Gordon Brown has took a trip back in time in his new cabinet reshuffle.
And the shock recall has been the EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson as Business Secretary.
Peter Mandelson, a serial resigner from Cabinet in the past, will become a Lord to take the role.
Just how desperate is Gordon Brown? Appointing a controversial arch-Blairite with a history of trouble to his cabinet. Why??
Is Mandelson to become the new fall guy in the Cabinet, taking the heat from the Prime Minister?
How long will he last this time? And how will the public react?
Jim Murphy is appointed the new Scottish Secretary, taking over from Des Browne who was also relieved of his Defence portfolio. Des Browne was offered the Scottish Secretary job after sacked from Defence but felt the job was an ‘insult’.
So once again the Scottish Secretary is a full time job, as it was in the past.
Although it had been rumoured that the job was to be merged with the Northern Ireland and Wales job, as I hinted at in a previous article it would have been better for the Unionists to keep the jobs separate to try and thwart the nationalist advance in Scotland and Wales.
Definitely a case of the Labour Cabinet’s man in Scotland, not Scotland’s man in the Labour Cabinet.
Just in time to preside over the Glenrothes by-election and Motherwell and Wishaw by-election then.
To me, Jim Murphy’s voice just sounds like the Rev I.M. Jolly; especially when the minister had been partaking on the whisky. Its not what I would call upbeat!
So I look forward to hearing him explaining away the forthcoming by-election results.
“Ah’ve had a helluva year!”
Even if Labour somehow manage to win them both, his voice would send Labour activists jumping off the Erskine Bridge.
In another reshuffle, Alistair Campbell, former Press Officer for Tony Blair, returns to the Labour Government as external advisor.
So its back with Campbell and Mandelson then. The only person missing is Tony Blair and we’d be right back in the Nineties again. Of course, regular readers will recall I pointed out that Labour activists were calling for his return only just recently.
We couldn’t get any more ‘Back to the Future’ if Gordon Brown had arrived at 10 Downing Street in a De Lorean.
He must feel like Marty McFly fading away on stage, awaiting for the public to embrace the New Labour message.
Its a pity for him that we’re on the same trip as he is. Lightning won’t strike that clock tower twice!
The Campaign for an English Parliament has handily printed off Lord Coe’s outburst regarding his attempts to create a British National Football Team at the 2012 Olympics.
(Its just as well because the online version of The London Paper it seems has removed the story. If anyone has the printed edition its on Page 5.)
The key quote is:
But he said the BOA, which selects teams for the Games, has decided to press ahead with a football squad despite the opposition.
When asked last night about the opposition from the Welsh and Scots, Coe replied bluntly: “F*** em!”
How much are the Scots and Welsh taxpayers paying into the London Olympics bid again?
As I mentioned in a previous post, a joint GB football team would endanger the survival of all the Home Nation football teams. That’s precisely why Lord Coe’s plans have met with such opposition.
Lord Coe also confirmed that Alex Ferguson, the current Manchester United manager, has assured him he will be managing the side.
The London Paper reports that Lord Coe has obviously now changed Ferguson’s mind on the matter, who was initially reluctant.
He might be even more reluctant now.
As for Sebastian Coe? Can’t say I’m surprised. I always preferred Ovett anyway.
“This is no time for a novice” said Gordon Brown in his conference speech.
Those words came back to me when Ann McKechin, the new Scotland Office minister – having taken over from David Cairns, was trying to explain – on Radio Scotland’s Scotland at Ten – why Gordon Brown was talking about implementing policies in England, that are SNP policies in Scotland. It didn’t sound like she convinced interviewer Derek Bateman, nor anyone else listening I suspect.
Gordon Brown’s SNP-lite policies:-
“So our plan is next year to abolish all prescription charges for everyone with cancer.” That’s in April 2009. By that time, the SNP Prescription charge will be £4 to everyone, and those on extended care with PPCs will pay £38 per year. The scheme will further reduce costs in 2010 and be free to all in 2011. I think the SNP are ahead of the game here. Although everyone is playing catchup with Wales, where they are already free.
“Greater visibility for people doing community payback” That means offenders working in the community. Something that Kenny McAskill, SNP Justice Minister, has championed.
And the SNP have pointed out that Gordon Brown’s flexible GP surgeries are already done in Scotland under this SNP Government.
Likewise his carbon emission target.
And his financial help for the elderly. Its already free in Scotland. That was brought in by the previous executive, and maintained by the SNP Government.
Well they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Or is Gordon Brown just trying to steal the SNP’s clothes?
One thing is for sure. How Gordon Brown can come out and say that this will be a ‘British century’ with devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is extraordinary!
The SNP are in power in Scotland. Their popularity shows no signs of ending, and look favourites for the coming Glenrothes byelection.
They also plan to hold an independence referendum in 2010. Hardly a sign that Britain is united!
Plaid Cymru are jointly in control in Wales. A recent poll shows 70% favour devolution, with the majority of those wanting more powers.
Both Scotland and Wales provide powerful arguments to why Brown’s Britishness agenda is dated. Not to mention the demand for an English Parliament in England. Even Cornwall has a political party advocating self-government.
If the 21st century is to be a ‘British century’ it will surely mean that each nation will finally have its own voice.
In fact, as The Telegraph reported earlier this month, even his ‘British century’ idea is not new. Brown used it in the 2007 TUC conference as well.
No wonder I was bored with the speech.
And more especially here, for a nice picture of one of the Labour delegates at conference!
All in all, even the standing ovations reminded me of Iain Duncan Smith’s last Conservative conference in charge. He managed 17 in total then was hurled out on his ear!.
I don’t think Gordon Brown is fooling anyone. At best he has bought some time.
Even the Labour Party must realise it.
So it seems that Gordon Brown will unveil an internet connection programme that will apply in England but not in the rest of the UK?
Is this part of the plan to get the UK higher up the world broadband league table where the UK sits 13th?
But its strange that this programme will take place only in England. Not Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland.
Because England leads the UK in broadband takeup!
So because the UK Government is refusing to give Barnett consequentials to Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, the rest of the UK misses out.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d much rather Barnett was scrapped and Scotland had full fiscal responsibility instead (I’m sure the Northern Irish and Welsh have their own ideas) – but while we’ve got the system, it should be seen to be operating.
Otherwise it can only fuel Plaid Cymru and the SNP in their bid for independent nations.
So the nation with the highest broadband takeup in the UK gets all the money, and the rest of us gets nothing! Wasn’t Barnett supposedly based on need?
Broadband takeup in Glasgow is 32%. I have already posted a blog comparing Glasgow’s internet reach with the Glasgow circulation of the Daily Record and found the newspaper is marginally ahead of those that read news on the internet.
What that means of course is that more people get exposed to the Daily Record’s Labour propaganda than get their news from the internet.
Indeed the whole Internet Connection Programme can be seen as politically motivated in Labour’s interest. It keeps Labour strongholds like Wales and Scotland’s public free of any dissenting Labour voice and also in England promotes freedom of expression where Labour is weak and also tries to quell any demand for an English Parliament at the same time.
Of course, some Labour bloggers may find this a good idea, given they say a leaning on the internet of nationalist blogs in Scotland.
They fail to realise that its precisely because the public have little newspaper or media support backing their aspirations of independence, that they have had to take to the internet to try and get their views heard! Again, that’s something I have blogged about before.
Incidentally, this blog has just had over 25 000 page views since I started at the end of May. (Thanks to everyone that reads!)
I think that’s not bad, since I still don’t know what I’m doing!
Thanks to Gordon Brown’s ‘not Scotland’ policy, I guess all the Scottish bloggers will be disappointed that the Scottish internet take-up will remain stagnant. (The same goes for Wales and Northern Ireland.)
Another Union dividend.
Congratulations to Iain Gray and Johann Lamont who were elected Labour MSP leader and Labour MSP deputy leader respectively.
Both won their nominations with around a 60 – 40 split.
Iain Gray will be the third Labour MSP leader to take on Alex Salmond since the SNP leader became First Minister in May 2007.
Also today Gordon Brown is meeting Margaret Thatcher for lunch at Chequers. No doubt the beleaguered Prime Minister will be asking her advice on how best to stay in power leading a disaffected party and public.
Margaret Thatcher was unceremoniously kicked out of Downing St by her own party in 1990 when poll ratings began to slide.
I did think that that meeting at Chequers would overshadow the Scottish leadership contest of the Labour MSPs.
But the fact that several Labour MPs have now been writing to Downing St demanding a leadership contest at Westminster again putting Gordon Brown’s tenure as Prime Minister in doubt has stolen the spotlight.
Under Labour rules there needs to be 1/5th of the Labour MPs to call for a leadership election before it can automatically happen. Currently that means there needs to be 70 Labour MPs calling for a contest.
Downing St says that only a handful of Labour MPs have formally asked for a leadership contest.
Guido Fawkes has compiled a list of 39 Labour MPs – as it currently stands – that would be expected to demand a leadership contest.
Not the 70 yet but it may be the start of a bandwagon.
It will really depend on how Gordon Brown plays the situation, and also how he performs at the upcoming Labour conference.
Iain Gray and Johann Lamont must be very disappointed at the way the Westminster agenda has stolen what should have been a good news day for Labour.
With a Prime Minister again lunching with Margaret Thatcher and open speculation among Westminster Labour MPs about his future they must surely be thinking that a stand-alone Scottish Labour Party must be the way to go.
They can’t do anything about headlines from other parties.
The SNP have announced Sir Angus Grossart will run the Scottish Futures Trust.
The co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, Robin Harper MSP, has decided to stand down. He is now backing the election of one single leader of the Scottish Green Party.
That leaves the Conservatives as the only party not to have changed their Scottish parliamentary leader under the SNP Government. Should Annabel Goldie be worried?
The Liberal Democrats are also today beginning their UK conference in Bournemouth. Plaid Cymru are also finishing their conference in Aberystwyth today.
Labour have just elected two new Scottish MSPs to lead the party but its Labour’s own desperate Westminster headlines that have swamped the media.
Not a great start for Iain Gray and Johann Lamont and its not even their fault!
I see that Westminster is about to scrap the role of Scottish Secretary. The role of the Scottish Secretary dates back to 1703, before the Treaty of the Union between Scotland and England.
What possible advantage is there to Westminster’s unionist ambitions to doing that? As someone who is pro-independence I can only see disadvantage for the unionist cause in Scotland.
The proposed Secretary of State for the Nations – combining the roles of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland ministers – effectively takes three ministers away that fought for the Union and replaces them all with one member.
It takes away what should be Scotland’s voice in Westminster. (Admittedly in the last few years the post has become Westminster’s voice in Scotland instead.)
Similarly in Wales and Northern Ireland.
It must be seen as a move that recognises that the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland represent the people of their countries not the Secretary of State; and hence not Westminster.
But it also weakens the bond between the devolved nations and Westminster. Each devolved nation no longer has a single voice to speak for it at Westminster cabinet for all those reserved issues.
The question must be then ‘What is the point of our continuing union with Westminster?’
The situations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are all different.
At times they might provide competing interests. How could one minister cope with that?
I don’t think anyone could, but I doubt that will be the main focus of the new position.
It does clarify the intent of the role as a mouthpiece for the promotion of the Union.
I also doubt English nationalists will be happy with the new title: ‘Secretary of State for the Nations’.
Is England not a nation now?
The idea is a unionist loser on so many levels.
As someone who is pro-independence, I say ‘Bring it on!’
While politicans try to make political capital of the Olympics it seems that a spat has developed between England and Australia over the medal tally.
It started when The Sun drove mobile billboards around London and Sydney saying ‘Where the bloody hell were you?’ and pointing out Team GB’s superior gold medal tally to Australia.
Now the Australians have hit back saying that Australia have 14 gold medals compared England’s 13.
The Australian Daily Telegraph have now performed a similar stunt.
‘Above you in the medal table’ the Aussies claim.
I’m just waiting for the Australian Government to publicly endorse the SNP and Plaid Cymru and demand Scottish and Welsh independence!
It seems that Chris Hoy was upset by The Scotsman’s reports that he said a Scottish Olympic team would be ridiculous.
He is quoted in the Daily Record (Its something when even the Daily Record shows up how anti-SNP The Scotsman has become!):
“I feel a bit upset that I have been quoted as saying the idea of a Scottish Olympic team is ridiculous.
“If and when a Scottish team was put together, I would be delighted to represent Scotland in the Olympic Games.
“But before that happens, so much needs to be done for the athletes to be able to compete at the highest level.
“As a cyclist, there isn’t a facility in Scotland where I can train throughout the year and that’s why I have to base myself outside Scotland.
“I am proud to be Scottish, but at the same time it’s not feasible to think we can compete as a nation without the right facilities.”
So he’s just calling for an improvement in facilities, and seems to have clarified his past comments.
I’m sure he would much rather train in Scotland if the facilities matched those of Manchester.
And that’s the rub. Athletes can train anywhere that have the right facilities. Many of the successful Jamaican Olympic team trained in the United States, for instance.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games should provide a legacy of facilities for our athletes for years to come.
Some athletes don’t need much in the way of facilities:
Kristin Armstrong, an American Olympic cyclist in Beijing, won the Gold in the Women’s Individual Time Trial in Road Cycling.
It seems all she needed was her bike, her husband’s GPS and a PC running Google Earth.
She took the GPS when she trialled the Olympic route in 2007. She then went home, imported the data into Google Earth, and then matched the elevations of the Chinese Olympic route to a similar route at her home in Boise, Idaho for her training.
Now that is smart thinking.
And in Beijing she cruised to a Gold Medal.
You can just bet Google Earth will be playing this up for years!
Incidentally, Emma Pooley from England won the Silver, one of the medallists in Team GB. She is based and trains in Zurich, Switzerland. I’ll bet she wishes she thought of that idea! Or indeed, Nicole Cooke from Wales – based in Lugano, Switzerland, who finished fifteenth. But she did win the Gold in the Road Race.
I’ve not found a picture yet but I have found the names of the Scotland cycling squad:
They finished fourth and just missed out on a medal. The hosts Sweden came first and took the gold, obviously having the advantage of regularly training on the Olympic route.
If only Google Earth was around in 1912!