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Showing posts with label George Osborne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label George Osborne. Show all posts

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Osborne’s Big Bribe–the last minute desperate Big Lie on more powers

A few more powers

- if delivered(!)-

will give Scotland a few more powers

except that

We won’t control our foreign policy

We won’t have the revenues from our own oil

The UK Supreme Court can still overrule our own Scots law and our own judges

We will have no seat at the United Nations

We will have no independent membership of the European Union

Our voice will be stifled, marginalised, ignored in international forums

The UK Parliament will still be sovereign, and can revoke any devolved power any time it likes

The UK Parliament will still decide when our young people are sent to die on foreign fields

We will still be forced to have nuclear weapons of mass destruction in our waters

Scotland won’t a be a nation in any real sense


Scots had their chance and they blew it

RIP Freedom

Osborne's Big Bribe Lie is the Union’s last throw of the dice to keep Scotland as a subject nation, to be bled of its resources and talent

If you vote for it, you will never again be allowed to vote for independence


Scots know exactly what they mean by independence – the UK Government knows exactly what it means by subjection and sovereignty

The Scottish Unionist parties know exactly what they are complicit in




Sunday, 30 March 2014

Currency creates crisis – the Better Together meltdown after Guardian leak

A few facts -

QUESTION: What is the “optimal currency arrangement" for Scotland and the rest of the UK (rUK)?

Murdo Fraser put this question to five experts on 12th March. They disagreed on the answer. This on the same day that the Treasury Committee was grilling Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England and doing their level best – unsuccessfully - to bounce him out of his neutrality and objectivity on the the shape of a currency union after a YES vote, and on Scotland’s independence, as re-confirmed and re-asserted to Stewart Hosie MP.

UK’s answer isThe present arrangement is the best. Stay with the UK and keep the present arrangement – vote No!”

Scottish Government’s answer isWe like many aspects of the present arrangement but we don’t like a host of other aspects of UK – let’s keep the best of the present currency arrangement, improve it - and vote YES to Scotland’s independence!

Currency: Scotland’s currency after independence will be the pound sterling, either in a currency union with rUK (99% probability) or under sterlingisation - i.e. we will carry on using the pound as a tradable currency and peg it on a fixed rate to sterling.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Has even The Guardian been enlisted in attacking Scotland’s democracy and aspirations?

The Guardian Leader of Friday 14th February has provoked a storm of comment. Here’s mine. It contain facts I’ve have blogged, tweeted and repeated many times over recent weeks, drawn from an extempore FM response at FMQS. I make no apology for that – their relevance is fundamental and enduring.


15 February 2014 11:28pm

I have been a Guardian reader for over 60 years. I have never read such a partial, inaccurate Leader in all that time. It is, quite simply, an attack on Scotland, its Parliament and the values and aspirations of a large and growing number of the Scottish electorate. It is a defence of the Union.

I won't waste time listing the many canards and errors - let me just say that you have used, without any real thought or analysis, the Better Together distortion that Scotland's wish to be sensible and realistic with rUK in an interdependent world - independence recognising interdependence - is in some way independence lite - not real independence.

Since the Osborne intervention - a flying visit, a quick address to a carefully selected audience, a refusal to engage with, or offer an interview to Scottish Television (STV), and a hasty and undignified departure - focused on currency union as though it was the Vulcan Death Grip for independence, consider this -

Scotland doesn't control the currency or interest rates at the moment. Neither does UK - they're controlled by Bank of England. We won't control them under a currency union either, but we'll have more influence than we have at the moment, as an independent country, a partner in a currency union. Without a currency union, we will continue to use the pound in one of a number of scenarios, already detailed together with other options in a recently published Fiscal Commission Report.

Here are the other powers an independent sovereign Scotland will have - do they look like independence lite to you?

ECONOMIC LEVERS: Excise duty, air passenger duty, VAT, capital gains tax, oil and gas taxation, national insurance, income tax, corporation tax, competition law, consumer protection, industry regulation, employment legislation, the minimum wage, energy markets and regulation, environmental regulations.

All these things are controlled in London under the UK

All of them will be controlled in Scotland after independence

We'll be able to set the minimum wage, abolish the Bedroom Tax (not just mitigate it). We will be able to transform childcare.

We will be able to remove weapons of mass destruction from Scotland

We won't have to participate in illegal wars

Scottish servicemen and women will no longer die or be maimed at the behest of a UK Prime Minister and an American President.


The reaction Osborne's intervention was outrage from a large number of Scots, as evidence by phone-in programmes, online media and letters to the press. I lost count of the number of undecided voters who said their minds had been firmly and irrevocably shifted to a YES vote, and there was a significant number of former No voters moved to YES. I look forward to poll results at an early date.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

The labourer is worthy of his hire

… for the labourer is worthy of his hire

So says the Bible. However, a modern version according to Saint Osborne might want to add a few things -

The worth of the labourer’s hire must be determined by the employer – or government - and thou shalt not suffer a trade union to get in the way of this principle.

The worth of the labourer’s hire in the public sector must equally not be distorted by his trade union, and must not be allowed to compete with employers in the private sector who have dispensed with trades unions, and must be allowed to fall to the lowest common denominator regionally. The Gospel according to the Coalition

The right-wing conspiracy of wealth and power that has as its front organisation the Tory/LibDem Coalition wants to take the unrivalled opportunity offered by the economic and social disaster brought about the equally right-wing former Labour Government – the previous front organisation – to push the working people of the United Kingdom back where they belong, under the iron heel of power and wealth, and subject to the Iron Law of Wages.

A prime target must therefore be the public sector, where some civilised, social democratic values and practices still survive, thanks to trade unions and collective bargaining.

The Iron Law of Wages – or remuneration, if you like – is that the right ‘reward’ for work is the lowest amount that can attract and retain competent employees, with the same principle applying to security of employment and other terms and conditions. This principle ensures that the maximum proportion of the wealth created by an enterprise goes to the owners and shareholders, and the smallest possible proportion to those who actually do the work.

It operated successfully throughout most of human history, keeping the mass of the people at or just below starvation and penury levels while obscenely enriching a tiny minority, whose resultant wealth allowed them to inhibit, manipulate or destroy democratic processes and the attempts of the poor to improve their lot.

It has been at work throughout most of the 300 year history of the United Kingdom, creating massive wealth for the few while brutalising and impoverishing the many, condemning them to poor health, disease, and appalling housing conditions.

It was only ameliorated in part by the actions of trades unions, a tiny handful of ethical and principled rich people, and a political party called the Labour Party. (This party to all intents and purposes no longer exists, but has been supplanted by one bearing the same name which has long since abandoned its values in a shameful complicity with the powerful, thus enriching its senior party members – Blair and sundry Lords and former cabinet ministers - and utterly betraying its members.)

That rant over, I will now move on to the powerful, and how they play the great exploitation game -

Bonuses, rewards and motivation – the great directors’ money scam

I spent my working life in human resource management and in consulting and training. I worked at senior management and director level, or as a consultant with major companies in British and American industry, private and public sectors. Almost none of them understood the basic principles of objective setting and targeting in relation to remuneration and bonus structures.

As a consultant, I met blue chip companies, who, having commissioned me to educate their managers, could not accept the basic precepts I offered. In that sense, I failed, but my brief was not to persuade or to implement, but to offer a contribution to their decision making.

The facts are these -

The only employees in a company who should receive variable earnings are the front line sales force in a manufacturing, service or retail company. The only variable remuneration to directors should come from investing their own money in the company's equity.

Employees should be motivated by performance management and appraisal structures, and movement within a salary band, with a band spread of 100% to 150%, with placement reviewed annually, based on rigorous, measured performance appraisal of whole job performance.

On a normal distribution curve, the majority of employees at should be close to the 125% mark. There must be no link to years of service - employees who maintain performance should be held at the appropriate level and those whose performance declines should have their band placement reduced. New employees should be placed at a level appropriate to their experience and qualifications, but never above the band midpoint, 125%. There should be a fifty per cent band overlap between adjacent grades.

Market competitiveness should be maintained by reviewing the bands themselves for specific job categories, but never by hiking up the starting salary within existing bands.

What is the problem with bonuses and variable remuneration incentives for managers?

Stated simply, managerial job descriptions contain a complex mixture of qualitative and quantitative performance factors. Performance can be assessed against both categories, but when factors are targeted for remuneration incentives, they are almost always the quantitative ones amenable to simple measurement - the qualitative measures are largely ignored, although lip service is sometimes paid to them.

The other major distorting factor is quite simply the greed of the senior managers and directors designing the systems. Responsibility to customers, to the public at large, and often to the law of the land goes out of the window.

By creating the fable that a free market for senior managers and directors demanded ever-increasing salaries and bonuses “to attract high-level talent and stop them leaving the country”, and by cross-membership of self-serving remuneration committees stuffed with non-executive directors, they created a process and a self-fulfilling prophecy that legitimised their greed – a snake that fed on its own tail.

It is a truism in objective setting theory and remuneration theory that targeting and incentivising narrow, measurable objectives can distort the whole purpose and effectiveness of an organisation. We have seen this in the public sector, notably in the NHS, and now dramatically, and almost fatally in the banking sector. But because crude monetary rewards are simpler to implement than effective recruitment, selection, assessment, appraisal and motivation of employees, that is the route taken.

Some old-fashioned principles need to return to our private and public sectors, particularly that employees should expect to be paid their salaries for doing their jobs to a defined standard, and should be counselled, trained and coached if performance slips. If standards can't be maintained, they should be fired.

One last anecdote - 

In my workshops for senior managers and directors, including at a prestigious business school, I launched the day with a simple arithmetical problem, set at the level of an intelligent 12-year old. In all my consulting years, in every workshop that I ran this exercise, 80% of all participants - including finance directors and senior scientists - failed to get the right answer, and moreover, could not understand why they got it wrong. I won't give the problem away - others may be using it productively. Real, basic numeracy is not well rooted in our major companies - sad, but true.

You may conclude from all of the above that I am an old-fashioned left-winger, and marvel at the fact that I was tolerated in senior management and consulting work with major blue-chip companies.

You would be right – I am indeed an old-fashioned left-winger, and I sometime marvel myself that I was tolerated.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

George Osborne undermines the UK economy–but not Scotland’s!

George Osborne, presiding over a shambles in the UK economy, and with the Eurozone in meltdown, maintains the ill-judged Cameron attack on Scotland's investment opportunities, dragging in the now notorious Citigroup comment yet again. He's just visited a distillery in Elgin with Ruth Davidson - that may explain his confusion - caught between an inexperienced kickboxer and a large single malt ...

Lucy Adams, Chief Reporter of the Herald gets to the heart of the matter by, with admirable economy, pointing out that it's Osborne that's undermining the economy with scare stories and gloom, when the immediate problem is Europe and the global banking crisis.

Alex Salmond then calmly demolished Osborne, a politician who's not fit to lick his economic boots.

I apologise to Lucy for sandwiching her between Osborne and Alex, but it was the best place for such a mordant and pertinent comment.

A real journalist - something I always respect. Gaun yersel, Lucy!

Monday, 25 October 2010

The Cuts – impact on Scotland’s finances

The biggest UK spending cuts since World War Two - £81 billion over four years. Guiding principles (according to George Osborne) – fairness, reform and growth.

My view – too fast, too soon, directed at the wrong targets, and leading to unfairness, hardship and possibly economic collapse: driven, not by economics or rational thought, but an atavistic Tory instinct to destroy the public sector.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS): “With the exception of 2% of the richest households, it is a budget that hits the poor and families worst …

£3.3 billion will be cut from Scotland’s current £29.2 billion budget for 2010-2011 in the period up to 2014-2015. (£13.8 billion in 1999 to the current level).

Bear in mind that this is against the fact that Scotland’s budget has been rising steadily over the years - in common with every other area of the UK - because of inflation and increasing pressure on resources, a significant proportion of it directly due the problems relating to the abuse of alcohol – pressures on medical services, attendance at work and the police, pressure that the Scottish Government has been ruthlessly and cynically blocked from addressing by The Three StoogesGray, Goldie  and Scott – and their politically-motivated hostility to minimum pricing for alcohol.

Who is doing this to Scotland? The Tories and the LibDems, in their expedient, power-hungry and now notorious coalition, the ConLibs – the LibDems conned by the Tories into becoming their fall guys for the destruction of a caring society, fronted by George Osborne’s hapless puppet, Danny Alexander – a Scot.

Who was responsible for the economic shambles that led to this? Labour, under the Blair, Brown, Mandelson gang, later metamorphosed into the Brown, Darling, Murphy gang. An Englishman, three Scots and a half-Scot, Blair, never quite sure what nationality he was, someone whom a prestigious Scottish college, Fettes, probably wishes it could airbrush out of their distinguished alumni – or maybe they don’t

Labour, now protesting the economic vandalism for which they created the raison d'être, pleads a global financial meltdown as their excuse, suffering collective amnesia over the fact that the UK economy, under their disastrous 13-year stewardship, was uniquely unprepared to meet the global threat.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Danny Alexander – “cruel and illiberal” cuts?

Jon Snow to Danny Alexander, Channel Four News, 20th October 2010

Nevertheless, the point of all this is that you have to realise £2 billion out of this programme, and that means, quite possibly, some quite severely disabled people are going to have to be got to a point where they are not able to work and will not get any income.”

Alexander babbled feebly about fairness, getting ‘our’ public finances in order, and the back-to-work scheme.

Jon Snow:

But when you keep talking about fairness – and my goodness, we’ve heard that word a lot today – your office sent me a graph of what you’ve done today, and if you look at the weight of what’s been done today, the biggest quantity of it falls upon the poor. That’s hardly Liberal Democrat excellence, is it?”

More ConLib jargon came from an increasingly uncomfortable Danny.

Jon Snow:

Let’s take another very quick one. Where you have a disability allowance – you’ve got a mobility allowance within that, and if you actually have either the misfortune or the fortune to be housed in a home, in some kind of supportive environment, you lose the mobility allowance. A rather cruel and illiberal thing to do, is it not?”

Let’s take a closer look at this tall, red-haired, rather diffident Scotsman and ask how he came to be the instrument of Tory millionaires in visiting cruel and illiberal cuts to income and vital services to the poor and disabled.

He was born in Edinburgh then spent part of his boyhood on Colonsay. 38 years of age, he was educated at Lochaber High School then gained an honours degree at St. Anne’s College, Oxford in politics, philosophy and economics – the PPE degree that I have commented on in a recent blog, the preferred choice of the career politician. (Click here for PPE blog)

St. Anne’s College has impeccable liberal (with a small L) credentials, originally set up as a place for emancipated women. Here’s what it says about its values on its website -

St Anne's values

St Anne's has always set its outward face towards the world. It has always been driven by its sense of connecting the ideals of the University to those who have not previously had the chance to encounter them – originally it was women, then women too poor to come to Oxford otherwise, and latterly a confident, tolerant, diverse and multicultural community of women and men.

One can understand why a young, perhaps idealistic, aspiring Liberal Democrat might choose such a college. One might expect that it would pursue academic excellence but not at the price of a wider awareness of society and its original ideals. Again, in its own words -

“… it is implacable in the pursuit of academic excellence, but does not see this as setting it apart from contemporary society.”

How could a product of this background and this education produce someone who, as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was the main number cruncher of savage cuts falling mainly upon the poor and the disabled, “cruel and illiberal” cuts?

The politics and the economics components of the PPE degree seem to have been assimilated – what happened to the philosophy part?


His career has been entirely in communications, and almost entirely in politics, except for a brief period (2004-2005) when he was Head of Communications for the Cairngorms National Park Authority. He has been Shadow Just-about-Everything with the LibDems, and, very briefly, Scottish Secretary in the ConLib coalition, until David Laws’ abrupt exit from the Treasury catapulted him into the role for which he will become famous or infamous – make your own prediction.

This career path is exactly what the PPE degree equips its holders for - it is the modern day version of the government or colonial administrator’s career in the bright summer of the British Empire – someone with little or no empathy with the lives of ordinary people, with no hard, tangible experience of commerce or industry, but nonetheless destined to make decisions that impact cruelly upon those they float above, wholly insulated from the pain, suffering and economic misery they are destined to inflict on millions.

But you can redeem yourself, Danny, and in the process, make a real and fundamental impact on the corrupt Westminster and UK Establishment values that have brought you to this point.

Resign, and make a public statement that you are revolted by what you have become a part of, and the way your liberal and democratic ideals have become betrayed by the company you were induced to keep. Commit yourself to work for the very people whose lives your policies will impoverish and destroy. Then you will stand alone and above the heaving, mendacious mass of Westminster careerists, lobby fodder, like swine at the trough.

Ideally, recognise that you can really only make an impact on the land that I believe you love – Scotland – by joining the fight for Scottish independence. Then you will really be a Scottish liberal and a Scottish democrat.