Thursday, 29 August 2013

Syria, Scotland and the UK Government

As Parliament sits today in emergency session to discuss the merits of military intervention in Syria subject to confirmation that chemical weapons have been used, I hope they will consider the matter with some gravity. The usual response that we must back up our American allies isn't good enough. There is no doubt about the response of France. They are completely gung ho because they desperately need influence in the middle east because their oil leases in Libya are in the pocket of a jacket that's hanging on a very shaky nail.

One approach might be to consider that if we intervene militarily then the lives of some of our people will be lost. That is inevitable, whether it be in the theatre of war or at home when the Syrian people exact their revenge by terror attacks in the UK. But our troops or our civilians will die one way or another as a result.

Cameron and his crew may well consider that this is a price worth paying, so I urge them to consider, if by killing your children you could put an end to chemical warfare, would you kill them. or perhaps it is only a price worth paying if you are not the one who has to pay. Someone else's children will pay the price for your global ambitions, because all of this chemical warfare talk is nonsense, there are no nice ways to be killed. But the Eton / Sandhurst ethos doesn't care about that. They will sacrifice other people's children in the interests of empire without a second thought. That's what all of their training is designed to do. Those who do not belong to the elites are sub-human as far as they are concerned and unworthy of the same consideration they give their own children.

This is all about being seen to be a global power. There doesn't seem to be the same moral imperative on Denmark or Norway or a host of other countries to throw away the lives of their people to retain global influence. It's about English imperial ambitions, and not even all of England, only London and the south east. The rest of the U.K. are firmly against any intervention.  But the Joint Intelligence Committee will produce a review of the intelligence. The last one acquired the title 'the dodgy dossier' because they are so politically motivated that a neutral review of the facts is almost impossible. And off to war we'll go again.

But Scotland can opt out of those global ambitions and try to be a country that lives at peace with its neighbours. Scottish soldiers have been at war virtually unbroken somewhere in the world for the best part of 100 years, and what have we to show for it. The massive wealth of the U.K. has agglomerated into the south east and we have been forced by the money, our money, wasted chasing dreams of empire into poverty for which we are now condemned.

It doesn't have to be that way. There is a referendum on independence coming up and if we only have the courage to grasp the thistle it could be very different. It's time to say, 'enough', keep Scottish troops out of foreign wars, and call a halt to Westminster rule.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Tories Discover Where That Is

It's nice that the Tories in Westminster seem to have discovered that you can travel north of Carlisle without falling off the end of the world, and that Big Dave Cameron has offered his services to help out the tartan Tories of the SNP with the organisation of the Commonwealth Games. No doubt he'll fly in, meet a few millionaires, and fly out the same day. You wont find him hanging around to see the misery and devastation he's causing in Glasgow and elsewhere.

But just to remind him that Scotland has twice as many Giant Pandas as Tory M.P.s (and you can't say that often enough) and with any luck it'll soon be three times as many if the zoo gets it right.  So here's hoping for one more Giant panda and one less Tory M.P.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Diageo : There's Right Good Money in Butchery

Diageo former boss Paul Walsh 'earned' 14.8 million pounds in his final year with the company. No doubt he deserved every penny of it. He effected efficiencies that pushed up the share price and the shareholder returns by more than anyone ever imagined during his term of office. Of course Diageo wont pick up the bill for the social damage that it's products will cause, because Johnnie Walker and Bells whisky and Guinness are big brands internationally and generate lots of profit for the City. You and I will pick up the bill for that in the same way as the people of Kilmarnock were dumped from his organisation to shrink the cost base and increase the profits of the group.

Remind me again how we're all in this together. I can't quite get my head round that part where the seventh richest country in the world is really bankrupt and has to tax the sick to make ends meet and use foodbanks to feed hungry children.

Perhaps Paul Walsh could put his hand in his pocket and help out, but I doubt it.

Beau Derek Mackay M.P. and the Payday Lenders

It's good to see that Beau Derek Mackay has decided to speak out against payday lenders in the Paisley Daily Express today. But we have to ask, 'Why so late, Beau?'  Renfrewshire branch of the Scottish Socialist Party were protesting in the streets a fortnight ago and we didn't see you around. It's not like the SNP to miss a passing bandwagon. Maybe it's just that you don't really want to show your face in the streets of Paisley after the performance of the SNP when they were in control of the Council. Not that Tony Blair's New Labour seem to be doing any better.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Global Cities and Regional Crises. London and Scottish independence

London is a Global City. With New York and Tokyo it is one of the top ranked global cities of the world. At a lower level we probably have Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Paris and a few others. Decisions, social, cultural, political and, especially, economic taken in top global cities are truly global in their effects. They house the real levers of international power.

Having a global city as its capital can bring massive economic benefits to a country in terms of international trade and in attracting international investment and events, and looking in particular at London it is clear that the power of the global city contributes massively to the economic growth and performance of the economy of the United Kingdom. The City of London generates enormous wealth and its contribution to the U.K.'s Gross National Product cannot be overstated.

This means that in national terms the U.K. can be seen as one of the richest countries in the world despite its relative lack of geographic area. It can, and does, demand a seat on the United Nations security council and a variety of other world institutions. Having a successful global city as its capital helps the U.K. punch well above its weight in the world. The result of that is that the U.K. has to fulfil a role in world events and that means becoming involved on a regular basis in the internal affairs of other nations as an international policeman or 'peacekeeper' or some other modern type of colonialism in order to maintain its position as a global power led by a global city.

The real problem, however, of having a global city as the capital city of the U.K. is that, although global cities reside geographically in the countries that they lead, they exist more in another notional country where the only relationships which matter are those relationships with other global cities. Rather than being involved with other parts of the country London has a stronger relationship with New York and Tokyo than it has with Glasgow or Sheffield, Newcastle or Birmingham. Trillions of Dollars are sent whizzing around the globe in milliseconds between London, Tokyo and New York to generate wealth for those cities, but very little of that wealth finds its way out of those cities and into the real wealth creating areas of their respective countries. They are like black holes sucking in wealth and power of which practically none escapes further than the distance of the daily commute to the institutions of wealth and power.

So we end up with travesties like the London Olympics where billions of pounds were raised from the whole country from taxation and lottery funding and poured into the most affluent area of the country. The billions of pounds of returns which we were led to expect, if it eventually materialises will remain with the south east of the country. It will not escape back into the economy of the whole U.K. but it will be traded with New York and Tokyo to generate more wealth for the global city.
Similarly, the high speed rail project which is supposed to increase the flow of wealth to the north will only serve to suck wealth and investment into London, because given the choice, and if it is within easy travelling distance, business in search of higher profits will not re-locate out of a global city, it will re-locate to where the money and the market is. The cities of Manchester and Birmingham are in danger of becoming dormitories for workers who service the bee hive but can no longer afford to live in London.

It ends up in a situation where the south east of the country, in relative affluence, have little or no real understanding of the problems and situation of the other regions. They fail to see the problem because they don't have the problem of poverty and deprivation experienced by those unfortunate enough to live north of the Watford Gap. London has 281,000 millionaires (and it's been said that one in seventeen Londoners is a Dollar millionaire) while 34% of Glasgow primary school children receive free school meals and that tells its own story.

The conclusion is reasonably clear. Scotland would not be deprived of the wonderful economic benefits of the U.K. in the event of independence. They receive very little of the benefit of the sparkling economic performance of the economy of the south east at present and there is no real reason to believe that the black hole of the global city of London will surrender up any of its wealth any time in the near future. That's not how global cities work. Global cities make nothing but money. They trade currency back and forward between themselves and believe that the value of their currency assets is the price the last person paid for them. Until the bubble bursts and the last fool in the chain has to come cap in hand to the rest of the country to bail them out by increasing tax (but never on the rich) and cutting benefits for the vulnerable they have created.

Global cities are only good for themselves and other global cities. For the rest of the country that they occupy geographically they are a curse. A real economy can only be sustained in the long term by real people producing real goods and services in the real world, not in the cyber-world of the global city.

The other regions of England can do little about it because as soon as their representatives are elected into position they are absorbed into the London Parliament and sucked into the black hole to become part of the grand conspiracy. But Scotland can escape, so I'll take my chance on government from Edinburgh.