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Relaunch No.6 “Doing the right thing”

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Keeping Ed Miliband may be the “right thing” for Cameron

Video courtesy of Guido Fawkes.

I don’t know how you feel, but I find it rather difficult to “connect” with this bloke, he may want to do the “right thing” but he never sounds right, nor looks right, and as Leader of the Opposition he just appears to be the “right thing” for providing target practice for David Cameron at the Dispatch Box.

However, talking of doing the right thing, at least Ed Miliband appears willing to join the Prime Minister in forcing the hand of Alex Salmond, the SNP’s First Minister in Scotland. This is an interesting position considering how many seats Labour might lose in Westminster should Scotland be broken away from the Union and attain independence, but fighting a move in a referendum on the matter is surely the right thing to do. Salmond the populist leader of his party has been invited by South Tyneside Council Leader Iain Malcolm to speak in the north-east at a meeting of the North East Economic Forum organised by Malcom’s Sovereign Strategy lobbying company. This is a good move as it will help to define relationships between Scotland and this region irrespective of the outcome of any referendum, whenever it may be held, our economic prosperity may suffer heavily should Scotland be in an independent position in regard to taxes, subsidies, and “sweeteners” to businesses and it is right that Salmond should come down here to clarify what he really wants for Scotland and to take back our views on how our joint prospects may pan out if Scotland is no longer part of the United Kingdom. Iain Malcolm said:

“I’m not in favour of Scotland becoming independent from the rest of the UK, we are stronger together, but that is a matter for the Scottish people.

“Whatever happens it is vital the North East has a stronger relationship with our partners across the border.

“That is why yes we do have to look at what might happen, say after 2014.”

The prospect of a nation on our doorstep offering better incentives to business, or smaller tax rates may well be something to fear, or will it? Perhaps such a scenario may lead to wholesale revision of business taxes in England introducing a necessary level of competition. Other worries may surface about areas such as VAT or sales taxes which could result in cross border shopping expeditions to Edinburgh or Dumfries furthering the decline of our north east shopping centres, a major worry for places such as South and North Shields, Wallsend, or Gateshead.

Like Malcolm, I do not want to see the eventual break up of the United Kingdom , and I do not believe it would lead to increased prosperity for the people of Scotland, I do not believe that they could cope economically without the levels of subsidies provided via Westminster. Like Cameron and Ed Miliband I think the “right thing” politically is to force Salmond’s hand and hold a definitive referendum at a time not of his choosing, with the legal framework clearly outlined so as there can be no doubt about the differences between a yes and a no vote.

Also, whilst we are on the subject of the “right thing” it is comforting to see that stumbling Ed Miliband at last recognises that cuts in public spending are necessary and right, and that deficit reduction needs to be ongoing, just a shame that he has spent the opening period of his leadership campaigning against such measures along with Ed Balls. The “right thing” to do now, surely, is to apologise for the mistakes made during the years that both of them spent in Gordon Brown’s government as the spending spree with other people’s money piled debt upon debt adding to the problems that we all face now.

So, Labour is starting to see the benefits of doing the “right thing” (and here’s another), now Miliband just needs to pull the rest of his party along with him. Unfortunately, and this will remain for  some time, the presentation is abysmal, lacklustre, weak, and dull as dishwater,  with major players in his own ranks bemoaning his performance – long may he remain as Labour’s leader!


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Give Salmond his moment

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Why are other parties shying away from asking the public about Scottish Independence?

OK, let me lay my cards on the table, I do not support full independence for Scotland, I support the Union, I don’t wish to see these islands broken up into their constituent parts. However that does not prevent me from supporting the SNPs Leader and Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond from asking the people for their thoughts in an ‘advisory’ referendum. At least, unlike both Labour and Conservatives, he appears genuine in his wish to carry out a manifesto commitment (remember Lisbon anyone?).

I am in complete agreement with both Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale on this one, it represents localism at it’s best, is not binding, and will more than likely lead to politicians listening rather than saying. The likelihood, also, is that the Scottish people will not vote for complete independence and that would deal a serious blow to the SNP’s hopes at the next election for a Scottish Parliament. Just what the other main parties are dragging their heels about is quite beyond me, have the debate now and get the question out of the way, it might dispose of the main plank in Salmond’s platform!

Guido, of course takes the admirable libertarian position of devolving more and more power and decision making capabilities further down into local communities, what he does not articulate, of course is how a largely independent Scotland would affect The House of Commons. It might be a monumental struggle for Labour to ever form a government again without the ranks of their Scottish members sitting in London! (Probably as a good a reason as any for the Labour Party to oppose a referendum over independence, but the Tories current position is perplexing to say the least.)

Boris Johnson, The Conservative Mayor of London marks St. Andrew’s Day by announcing that the Scottish Saltyre proudly flies outside of City Hall (and London is even being asked to create it’s own tartan) as he makes an excellent plea for a total renogiation of the Barnett Formula:

This system is the subject of all sorts of Scot-bashing polemics, but seems unlikely to be fundamentally reformed because, after all, we have a Union and it is right that the richer parts of that Union should help the poorer parts. The real question, and the one on which I would like our beloved Scottish Prime Minister and Chancellor to focus, is how come we can afford to pay the Barnett formula? Where does the money come from?

I will tell you. It comes from London. There are only three regions of the UK that make a profit, in the sense of contributing more to the Treasury than they receive in spending, and they are London, the South East, and the East; and London is the powerhouse that drives the other two, with a net tax export estimated at £19 billion per year.

Perhaps by allowing the people of Scotland their referendum on independence we could then have a balanced debate about the necessary redistribution of fiscal resources and investment that Boris is looking for in the capital, and perhaps find a little more cash for the north-east!

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Written by curly

November 30, 2009 at 1:11 pm