Sunday, 16 October 2016

That Norwegian Oil Fund

To Noroway! to Noroway!
to Noroway oer the faem!
this blog is a visual stunner
OK, that's enough of that.

I'm talking about the Norwegian State Oil Fund - a marvellous marvellous thing apparently, whereas us feckless Brits have just spent the lot. On booze and fags, probably.
Well, let's just have the tiniest bit of democratic scrutiny. We start getting oil rich in the 70s. We'd already had a balance of payment crisis in the 60s. Our infrastructure needs investment. Our public service demands are growing and growing - we want to build new universities; there are demands to dual the A74.
So as an elected politician you have a choice - do these things or else set up a wealth fund. That's right, put your money into foreign equities, like Nestle and Micrsosoft - as Norway has done. You money effectively invested abroad, instead of in your own country. Sure, in good years you'll get a dividend.
Of course poor old Norway had no choice - it had to invest abroad - it only has 5m people and too much money. It's like Qatar - reduced to buying up prime real estate in London.

Labour's Terminal Crisis

Well, that's the title of a piece by Kerevan in the National on 26th September. And I think it's deserving of a bit of scrutiny as Kerevan is no fool. One could quibble with the title of course as Labour are now the largest political party in Europe, but few could argue that the additional text - "crisis is shared by social democratic parties across Europe" was inaccurate.

Kerevan nails it (no marks for orginality but it's bang on) -
The central cause of this international eclipse of traditional reformist parliamentary movements lies in global economic change – and the failure of mainstream social democracy to adjust. In the last quarter century, manufacturing jobs shifted to Asia while the dizzying rise of financial capitalism in Europe and America created a need for hordes of well-educated service workers. As a result, the industrial working class base of the traditional mass social democratic parties was destroyed.
What is astonishing about the rest of the article is how quickly it runs into sand. It goes absolutely nowhere. Rather, he just want to delight in the 'demise' of Labour (a bitterness somewhere in that psyche?).

He states that a new progressive voting alliance could have been sought by the traditional social democratic left ....   and bingo....  just such a movement was created very successfully in Scotland, by the SNP.

Well no one is going to argue that the SNP aren't a successful voting alliance. An alliance of people who want to do something but they're not sure what. Once George has marched at the head of the flag waving gang to the top of the hill, what's going to happen?

Here's a clue - Blair and Brown’s Faustian pact with the bankers and neoliberalism has led to electoral doom – a fate shared by most Western mainstream social democrats. Now the global neoliberal model is on life-support, held together only temporarily by quantitative easing.

OK, no more Faustian pact! The SNP are a Socialist Party. Real Socialism. State control. Funny that they keep that quiet. I think I'd like to hear more of this programme. Should I submit a FOI request?

Brexit and IndyRef

Yep, the ruminations keep coming. I'm driven to put them down here. Just for me. I'm worth it, after all. There's another 6bn+ people out there. I reckon that most will never read my blog. Sob.

Areas in favour of Independence from the UK and Independence from the EU? Any similarities worth calling out?

On Brexit, the Guardian says  -
Comparing the results to key demographic characteristics of the local authority areas, some patterns emerge more clearly than others. The best predictor of a vote for remain is the proportion of residents who have a degree. In many cases where there are outliers to a trend, the exceptions are in Scotland.

Better viewed large
 How about on Indyref?
According to Ipsos MORI (from whose last two polls the relevant information is uniquely available), no less than 65% of those living in one of the 20% most deprived neighbourhoods in Scotland voted Yes, compared with just 36% of those in the one-fifth most affluent. 
So, no surprise really, the most prosperous and best educated (yes indeed, they tend to go together) areas voted for the status quo in both referendums (OK, referenda). The most obvious case is Edinburgh (my home town) - prosperous, educated and strongly pro-UK and pro-EU.

However,  the Guardian calls out that Scotland didn't vote along those lines in the EU Ref. Even poor areas voted for remain. Either Scots are indeed more pro-EU or they followed the Nationalist party line.

And at that point, I'll need to leave it hanging. I just remember that when football troubles kicked off big style in the 80s in England (and we hadn't exactly been angels up here) that our stirring national consciousness drove us to become the best fans in the world. Just saying, as they say.  

GERS 2016!

What it says

Time to tap out a few thoughts.
"Official Scottish government statistics showed the country spent £14.8bn more than it raised in taxes in 2015/16, including a share of North Sea revenue.
That figure represented a 9.5% share of GDP, the report said - more than double the 4% figure for the UK as a whole."

OK, this clearly isn't good news in anyone's book. Our economy simply isn't generating anything like enough money to pay for its essential outgoings. Why Scotland is worse than the overall UK isn't hard to work out - it's a small country with a disproportionately huge area of multiple deprivation (the old industrial areas in west central Scotland) whereas overall in the UK those areas (I'll include Tyneside, Merseyside and South Wales) are of far lesser significance.

So that's a challenge to the independence project, surely? We won't be able to pay our old folks pensions? Fund our NHS? After all, we're on our own 18 months after the referendum.
But no ... not a bit of it! 

Rather than address this seriously, it seems that to many independence supporters, the only way forward is to rubbish GERS. (Obviously if they were flawed the Scottish Govt's Chief Statistician would fairly be getting hauled over the coals by Swinney et al. But he's not. And they're not.)

So we have nonsense about whisky export duty, exports though English ports, HS2 and crossrail, and then of course you can throw in Trident (that's right 7% of 7% of the overall budget), there are oilfields apparently somewhere that nobody knows.. blah blah..

But of course all these are indeed nonsense (the finest rebuttals found here) and as we've previously noted, I doubt Swinney would be quiet if there was obvious claptrap therein. So the true zoomer has to have a backstop. Step forward... Ian Lang MP (remember him? I do!). He set this government spending statistical stuff up when he was the Scottish Secretary. He was a Tory!  He only set it up to make us look bad, the bastard. OK, it may be true, but that's neither here nor there....

Wings fingers Lang