Friday, 26 September 2008

Look North for Inspiration

Wales (at least the 10% of people committed to the cause) should take comfort from the changes and changing mood of Scotland. It is heartening to see the progress being made under the direction of Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

They are winning over the people of Scotland to the cause of independence through wise and popular policies which are aimed at righting Labour/Lib wrongs and improving social conditions for the benefit of the people of Scotland.

First Minister's Questions on the Parliament Channel is both entertaining and enlightening and is political debate at its best. The Assembly needs to take a cue from the tenor of these debates.

The people of Scotland have moved away from a British identity and see themselves as Scots and generally show a pride in their country and its nationhood. This change is occurring in Wales as more people warm to the idea of a Welsh Parliament and fly the red dragon flag. Scotland is ahead of the game and well on the way and yet in Wales great efforts are needed to win over hearts and minds so that, when Scotland achieves its independence, the people of Wales will demand it also.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

A Slick Speech for Survival

The speech, though quite well delivered, failed to address public concerns. Free laptops for school children is an idea filched from Plaid Cymru and nursery schools for two-year olds is another blow at family life. Meanwhile the public is rightly concerned about housing, hospitals, the price of food, the price of oil, and the declining state of the economy. Gordon Brown´s only solution is to borrow,borrow,borrow - driving the United Kingdom deeper into debt. It will take years to recover and the next government will inherit the debacle.

Are you prepared to give up £1,200 to bail out Britain?

Post Office Sends Welsh Leaflets to the Scots!

Paste into browser!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Labour´s Nanny State Expediency Ploy

The government is now planning free nursery schools for 2-year-old babies.
Children of such a young age need their mother (preferably the father too) for bonding and the establishment of a close and intimate family relationship. It is too early for them to be separated from their parents for many hours in the day.

Again Labour demonstrates a policy of State intervention in family affairs and seeks to curb individual freedom and responsibility. They are meddling in matters of which they have very little knowledge. As with many of their hare-brained schemes they place political expediency before common sense. That, in short, is my view.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Labour out-of-touch with Reality

Courtesy of Ray Bell

These are the 27 suggestions put forward by Liam Byrne, the immigration minister, to bring together the different communities living in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for Britishness Day.
These suggestions are contained in his pamphlet, titled "A More United Britain". It is all make-believe!

1 As a national event, celebrated in local areas2 With a good cross-section of society on the organising committee; lots of small community events; have a particular theme - different theme each year, set by organising committee3 By using TV to inform about British history; a speech by the Queen; TV link-ups around country:bounce:
4 In the form of a remembrance day celebrating the bravery of veterans.
5 By encouraging young people to visit or help older people; celebrate voluntary work.
6 Through school involvement – teach history, choirs singing.7 Through daytime activities to involve whole community, and evening for partying.
8 By holding street parties and neighbourhood get-together; would work as a street party – exchanging food and culture
9 As a carnival similar to the Notting Hill Carnival; big procession similar to St Paul's Carnival; fireworks
10 Through music – British or world music; concerts like Live Aid; British music; play local music; local dress
11 Through dance – British dancers; Morris dancing; folk dancing
12 Through food – British and other cultures; regional food; different cultures' foods
13 Through drinking
14 Through art; involve theatre; free film viewings on history of Britain
15 By having a sports theme – all nationalities can take part; football
16 By celebrating different cultural dress
17 By holding community discussions; meetings in town halls
18 By promoting posters of iconic figures, eg fallen heroes, Winston Churchill
19 By holding a ceremony to remember the good things over the past year
20 By appreciating the country; weather; enjoyment
21 Cheaply so people get involved
22 By holding free events around the city
23 By incorporating countries that used to be part of the Empire
24 By making it about integration
25 By using publicity to ensure people get involved – like Children in Need
26 By emphasising the theme of British life, immigration, remembrance; cost should be met locally as shows that putting into the local community helps to get something good back
27 In an understated but firm way, without fuss; show good and bad aspects of living in Britain (and how bad aspects are being addressed) – give honest picture.

Liam Byrne is not living in the real world but in Labour's Land of Make-Believe. Sad but True.

Now, all together, link arms and sing the most boring anthem in Europe - "God Save the Queen".

Alan in Dyfed

Friday, 19 September 2008

Calling All Scots wherever they Roam

Now is the time to be thinking of home.....

Alex Salmond has made a clarion call to all Scots expatriate men and women around the globe to return to their native land – Alba – and join their fellow compatriots at home to build a better Scotland. In this endeavour Alex has co-opted the services of an iconic Scottish legendary figure, Sir Sean Connery no less, who is one of Scotland's greatest patriots and a leading supporter and advocate of the cause of independence.

The notable actor, Sir Sean, is an avid and involved golf enthusiast and the Chief Minister is keen that he should promote the sport of golf and assist in encouraging vagrant overseas Scots to make their home in Scotland and engage in the democratic sport of golf. Alex Salmond points out that golf in Scotland appeals not only to the upwardly mobile middle classes, but is a great leveller in contrast to its image south of the border.

Thus, returning Scots immigrants will play their part, as the immigrants to Ireland have done, in investing their industry and expertise in the land of their birth and origin, as Scotland - Alba - returns to sovereignty over its own affairs in its confident ands determined strides towards independence.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

A Tax on Sleeping

It was brought to light on BBC TV today that a woman who stopped in a lay-by has been fined for sleeping too long, all because "tiredness can kill". Apparently, nowadays it is not permitted to stay in a lay-by for longer than 2 hours! The fine amounts to £110 in total.

It will not be long before parking charges are imposed in all British lay-bys with meters installed and traffic wardens in vehicles manning the roads to check on cars and their napping owners. We can only hope that the drowsing motorists enjoy sweet dreams in their lay-bys and do not suffer from the nightmares of the awakened among us.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A Redundant Office

With the resignation of David Cairns MP as Minister for Scottish Affairs brings up the question of whether or not the Scotland Office has any meaning for the people of Scotland, except as a sounding board for the government in London. The same applies to the Wales Office. There has been talk of combining the three offices, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland into one. Yet, as Alex Salmond has indicated, there is no necessity for a London office for Scotland as the affairs of Scotland are the province of the Scottish parliament and should be of no concern to Westminster.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Independence - the Only Option

Looking down on the situation under which the UK flounders without direction or leadership from government, as well as the unjust and unequal state of the British constitution, and seeing the downward spiral of the financial and economic institutions, it becomes ever more clear that independence is the only option. The leadership is lack-lustre and indecisive and the direction is stuck in reverse. The progressive element of politics is increasingly in the domain of the nationalists, the Greens and the Liberals. It is not within the traditional ruling parties, the Labour and Conservatives. If politicians cannot accept political realities and the inevitability of change they will be left behind in the movement of evolution. Seize the time is never more relevant than now. Now is gthe time to grasp the opportunity for a transformation of society, to sweep away the vestiges of the past and look forward to a brighter future for these nations of Britain.

Monday, 15 September 2008

The Liberal Views of Old England

For anybody questioning the erratic and sometimes contradictory opinions put forward by the Liberals I would suggest that this party, the Liberal Democrats, are a party of Independents, all honest, good-hearted people but with their own individual views and solutions. They have always been a party of ideas and often successive Labour or Conservative governments have appropriated these ideas and made them their own.

I would personally like to see them in power in England as they deserve a chance to govern (along with a Plaid Wales and SNP Scotland). Of course I look forward to the time when Scotland and Wales are nation-states along with the Republic of Ireland, and the time when England has its own parliament and comes into its own. Liberals add colour to politics certainly, and they could be a breath of fresh air after the trials of successive Labour and Tory administrations.

I have always admired people who speak their mind and stand by their beliefs, though in the LibDem case this characteristic does not augur well for party unity or treading the party line. In this regard Labour are the opposite of them, a line-up of grey, colourless party-liners to whom the party is sacrosanct whose wisdom should never be questioned.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

A Welsh Wizard

The recent experiment in the Big Bang Theory which took place in Switzerland was the brain-child of a Welsh Scientist,which goes to show that Welsh talent is often in the forefront of human progress. Those who attempt to assert that nothing good comes out of Wales and that the country cannot stand alone are once again refuted. Wales has abundant skill and talent but sadly many have been obliged to leave their native home to seek fame and recognition.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Llongyfarchiadau a Phob Hwyl

Congratulations to Dafydd Iwan on his re-election as the once and future President of Plaid Cymru and the figure who truly represents the vision of independence for the people of Wales, an inspiring leader with an engaging personality, and with a fair wind shortly to be the President of Cymru Fydd.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

A Programme Leading to Independence

SNP questioned over new programme
Epolitix - Wednesday, September 3 10:22 am

Alex Salmond is today setting out the Scottish executive's programme for the coming year.
However, opposition parties at Holyrood say the SNP must clarify its flagship policy of replacing council tax with a local income tax (LIT).

Labour's acting leader Cathy Jamieson said: "So far we've seen the SNP's two flagship economic policies, the local income tax and the Scottish futures trust completely discredited and it's time for the SNP now to admit that they are not fit for purpose."

Conservative finance spokesman Derek Brownlee said the nationalists must address the tax issue.

"Whatever else he does, Alex Salmond needs to clear up what his government is going to do on the discredited 'local' income tax plans.

"Will he publish the LIT bill, as he said he would, or will he ditch it, as was hinted over the summer?"

A local income tax has the support of the Liberal Democrats at Holyrood, but there is disagreement over who should set the level.

The nationalists said it would be set at 3p by central government, while the Lib Dems said local councils should set their own level.

Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott said: "The legislative programme is an opportunity for the SNP to turn over a new leaf and propose action that will tackle the real issues for the people of Scotland."

Labour also called for the nationalists to address health issues.

"The SNP's programme for government needs to address the fact that the increase in health spending in Scotland has fallen behind the rest of the UK," Jamieson said.

"It needs to set out measures to ensure that new schools are built, that probationary teachers are not left without jobs and there is action to ensure that class sizes start to fall rather than grow as they are now are in many parts of Scotland."

And the Lib Dem's new leader also said the Holyrood executive should do more to help people ride out the economic downturn.Tavish Scott said: "People all across Scotland are telling me that they are struggling to cope with the rising cost of living and that the shattered housing market is of real concern.

"Gordon Brown's Labour Party have failed them and the SNP prefer spin to real action.

"It is not good enough for the Scottish government to play the blame game with the UK government when they can themselves take action.

"The legislative programme is an opportunity for the SNP to turn over a new leaf and propose action that will tackle the real issues for the people of Scotland."

Friday, 5 September 2008

Reprinted from Scots and Independent

hursday, September 04, 2008
The Scotsman And LIT
As promised, here's the rebuttal to the Scotsman's continued vendetta against Local Income Tax. Anyone would think their editor might be in danger of paying a bit more or something the way they carry on...

1. Local income tax (LIT) will leave a £750 million financial black hole in Scotland. Others have suggested it could be as high as £1.3 billion.


False. This figure relies on current Council Tax Benefit (roughly £400m) being removed from the Scottish block. The rest will be made up from central (Scottish) government.

2. LIT will make Scotland the highest-taxed part of the UK and this might encourage businesses to leave.


It’ll do no such thing, because council tax is being removed. Replacing one tax with another, which even its supporters admit will collect a lower amount, can not possibly represent an increase in the overall tax burden.

Perhaps we could lock Yvette Cooper and the IoD in a room together so they can make up their minds as to whether LIT would be a tax increase or a decrease. Just a thought...

3. There will be serious service cuts at council level unless local income tax is set at 4.5p or higher.


See point 1.

4. LIT may be illegal under the provisions of the Scotland Act because it is unclear whether a local tax can be replaced by a national tax.


Gotta love the use of the word ‘may’ here. The only basis for saying that LIT would be illegal is if someone were to produce a statutory definition of the word ‘local’ in the Scotland Act. Since no such definition exists and given local taxation is very clearly a devolved matter, let’s move on.

5. Replacing an unfair tax with an unworkable tax will cause more misery than we can know.


This is a personal assertion and nothing more. As for unworkable, on a sliding scale of difficulty running from 'easy-peasy' to 'Land Value Tax', it's sitting quite comfortably towards the easier end of the scale.

6. There will be a 'damaging' impact on service personnel, who would have to pay the new tax in full, but currently have their council tax reduced. This could lower morale and cause yet more recruitment problems.


Service personnel already have deductions made to their salaries to pay for their council tax, so there's no reason why dispensation couldn't also be given under LIT.

It’s possible that higher ranks may end up paying more. However, I’ll bet the marginal rate of tax applicable to a Brigadier is unlikely to be a major factor in keeping people out of army recruitment centres.

7. There will be serious anomalies over people living in England but working in Scotland. There are also concerns that people may register as living in England to avoid paying.


Presumably these cross border commuters, even though they be they ever so few in number, pay council tax somewhere at present. If your home is in England, you'll continue to pay CT. If you have a home in Scotland and England, then there's already well established residency rules for liability for the 3p tax varying powers which could come into play.

8. Hard-pressed students, who are currently exempt from the council tax, would have to pay.


This is an argument to exempt students from Income Tax full stop. In any case, if you're earning above the tax threshold, which many students will not be, then there's no reason why you shouldn't be contributing on that portion of your earnings above the earnings threshold.

9. Scottish firms would be placed at a competitive disadvantage to companies in other parts of the UK because LIT additions to wage packets would be passed on to customers.


Rubbish. Income tax would be no more passed on to consumers via staff wage claims than is council tax at present. If anything, given the burden it takes off the poorer paid, it might ease pressure on employer payroll costs.

10. LIT will take £70 million from vital city council services which will lead to severe cuts.


See point 1. If the argument is that Glasgow has an insufficient tax base, it seems to be ignoring the likely level of central government grant support which would continue to come to local authorities.

11. The PAYE system does not easily deal with taxpayers who receive income from different sources, including pensioners receiving pensions from different employers or those who have various part-time jobs – this will particularly affect those on low incomes who will be exposed to incorrect PAYE codes, and these practical issues should not be underestimated.


There'll be no arguments from me on this one. This is a serious concern, and while not insurmountable, it's something which needs to be thought through.

12. Regardless of the rate of tax chosen, there will be uncertainty as to the yield that can be obtained, as revenues derived from income taxes can be more volatile.


This is true, although it's possible to overstate the effects given the relatively low proportion of the overall local government settlement will come from LIT.

13. LIT would be technically complex and challenging to implement because of the complexities of tax law, and trying to sort out what would happen to the £400 million council tax benefit.


Indeed. It's still not an argument for not going ahead and in fairness to the institute, I don't think they intended for their measured comments to be given the Chris Hoy treatment by the Scotsman.

14. Investors and businesses who are thinking of coming to Scotland will be scared away because of the extra income tax.


Oh, behave yourselves. See point 2.

15. LIT probably breaks European law by removing control of raising local finances from councils. It could break Article 9 of the European charter of local self-government, which guarantees the right of councils to raise a large part of their own finances.


That word 'probably' again. LIT will be a tax levied specifically to pay for local services. Even describing this one as 'recondite' doesn't do it justice.

16. Wealthy people who have unearned income from sources like share dividends can avoid LIT whilst poorer people would have to pay.


They can avoid it on their unearned income, but not their earned income. In any case, over a million Scots earn less than £160 [SOURCE: HMRC] from their savings and investments. 3% of £160 is £5 – is the STUC really suggesting that it's worth rifling through the bank accounts, ISAs and BT shares of over a million Scots, just to extract an additional £5 or less from them in LIT?

17. The UK tax system does not give across-the-board allowances for disability and, in the absence of such allowances, the burden of LIT will be higher on disabled people than on the general body of taxpayers.


This may be true, but that's a broader argument for tax reform rather than one which affects LIT particularly.

18. LIT will be more intrusive into people's lives because it would require far greater knowledge of their personal circumstances than a property tax would.


If you class making a declaration of income to the collecting authorities as an intrusion, then yes, it probably is.

19. At present, a cohort of carers are currently "disregarded" (treated as not living in the property) when calculating council tax. Households with multiple taxpayers will end up paying more and this has the potential to include more carers who are not currently liable for council tax.


Possibly, but carers on low earnings will find themselves paying very little, or indeed nothing at all. If you are in receipt of the carers allowance, you need to be spending more than 35 hours a week looking after someone, so your opportunities for earning anything to put you above the earnings threshold are unlikely to be very great.

20. The £281 million of savings that need to be made to create a 3p local income tax could be used instead to reduce the burden of the council tax.


It could, but that still wouldn't make it fair. Nor is a call to bung more cash at adding ever more exemptions to the CT or simply to further reduce it much of an an argument against LIT.

21. LIT would bring unwelcome extra bureaucracy and cost to businesses because of all the extra paperwork created in sorting out employees' income tax. Lib Dem proposals for different rates for different areas would make it even worse.


I have some sympathy with this view. However, I think the impact can be overstated. For larger companies, suitable payroll software should make light work of the administration required, just as it does with pension contributions.

22. Families will be worse off, or there will be cuts in public services, because the 3p rate will not be enough to fund current service levels.


Nonsense which could have come straight from a Labour Party press release. See points 1 & 2.

23. Water and sewerage charges are collected by local authorities on behalf of Scottish Water – the consultation did not present any proposals on how such charges will be set and collected under LIT.


True, but again, not an argument against LIT per se.

24. LIT would be bad for the environment because it will take away the flexibility needed to bring in specific charges for rubbish collection.


Let me get this straight... LIT would be bad for the environment because it might not let us do something that we're already not doing? Much silliness. Andrew Neil and the Barclay Brothers have a lot to answer for the tripe this lot have churned out– at least they're merging with a more sensible crowd now over at Reform Scotland.

25. The SNP's centralising LIT proposal reduces the lack of control [sic] that councils have over local finances.


'Reduces the lack of control?' A good thing, surely?

You know, I have some sympathy with the argument I suspect they actually made. I just see merit in having the rate set nationally, at least until things settle down. Again, though, hardly a clinching argument.

So, some concerns which are substantial, nothing which is insurmountable, and some hysterics from a few of the usual suspects whom you'd think really ought to know better. And despite the headline, there's not a single argument against LIT to be found which even approaches being remotely conclusive.

Right, I'm away for my tea now. However, do please read Jeff's version of the same exercise - it's also only fair to point out that he did beat me to the punch with this one by several hours!
Posted by Richard Thomson at 6:54 PM

Cato said...

Don't think much of your legal analysis on point 4.

The courts won't refuse to interpret "local" simply becuase there's no statutory definition of it. The word will instead most likely be defined according to its normal usage-and in no way, in normal usage, can a nationally set and collected tax be defined as "local", regardless of what it's spent on.

Besides-do you want to peril local services and economic stability on something of which, judging by your "not remotely conclusive comment", you are hardly convinced yourself?
9/04/2008 11:08 PM
Scottish Unionist said...


Your first point tacitly acknowledges that there would have to be be an additional diversion to councils from the Scottish block of a not inconsiderable sum (probably in excess of £350m per annum) to make up for the revenue shortfall due to the implementation of a fixed 3% LIT.

Yet in your third point you use that fact to deny the possibility of service cuts! Don't you realise that such money will no longer be available to the SG? How then could spending cuts be avoided?!

Further to point 4, what do you make of the fact that the SNP's version of LIT, with its nationally set rate, appears to foul of the European Charter of Local Self-Government?

Article 9 of that charter mandates: “Part at least of the financial resources of local authorities shall derive from local taxes and charges of which, within the limits of statute, they have the power to determine the rate.”
9/05/2008 5:57 AM

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Scotland Leads the Way - Again!

So Scotland will abolish Council Tax, says Alex Salmond, and a good move by the SNP.
This highly unpopular and unjust tax has to go the way of the Poll Tax instituted by Margaret Thatcher (which was exceedingly unpopular at the time). A local income tax makes far more sense and is not unlike the State Tax used in the United States. However, it remains to be seen whether each council will be free to set its own rate of tax. Another first for Alex Salmond. Scotland will also follow Wales by abolishing most hospital parking fees. You know it makes sense!

Monday, 1 September 2008

BBC Panorama Questions Britishness

Yesterday evening I was fortunate enough to catch the programme " Panorama" on television.
It emerged that Britishness, as proclaimed with such enthusiasm by Gordon Brown and Jack Straw, is no big deal. In fact it appears to be irrelevant in contemporary political reality, and the efforts of the protagonists of Britishness actually harm their cause rather than enhance it, as well as making them appear a laughing stock in the eyes of the general public.

"What does Britishness mean to you?" Some of the interviewees appeared to be confused by the question, while others had no answer. The only words which expressed this concept were "flag" - "empire" - "Olympics" - and possibly Gordon Brown. What an Olympian let-down! It is quite possible, if this present government remains in office, that all citizens of the United Kingdom will be tested at the age of eighteen on their understanding of Britain and its culture, and to affirm their Britishness. The fact is that more coloured immigrants in Britain feel themselves to be more British than the native inhabitants, while the native inhabitants feel themselves to be Welsh, Scottish, English and Cornish. That is the reality in the society of today. Aside from that, some feel themselves tobe Europeans and some don't. The ones that don't are likely to vote for the UKIP party or the BNP.

So let us forget this so-called Britishness and be who we are.

At one time in the fast-receding past there existed a mighty Empire and a people who colonised
half the world, exploited its resources and became wealthy on the proceeds of the spoils. It glorified in its heroes and their exploits and their earnest attempts to civilise the savages and bring Christianity to the heathen. How are the mighty fallen.

Now the chickens have come home to roost, quite literally, and we live in a different world. Some of us realise it, others don't. Unfortunately, many of those who don't are in government. Britain does not need a Gordon Brown, but a Barack Obama, someone who can bring a contemporary vision which is in accordance with the reality of the times.

*people with contemporary vision: Alex Salmond, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Nicholas Sarkozy.