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Friday, 19 September 2014

Buy a BIG Union flag today!

One thing that struck me about the the Scotshambles was the poor quality of the Saltire flags being exhibited. They were for the most part horrid, thin, cheap printed things that would survive for all of five minutes at the top of a Scots flagpole.

For a decent flag, it needs to be sewn. And sewn from MOD grade all-weather polyester. I'd suggest the minimum size you can get away with is a 2 yard - perfect for hanging from the roof or as a fashionable evening Pashmina for the 'Memsahib. Anything smaller is, frankly, a signal that you're a wimpish eunuch. The Dutch, of course, consider anything less than a 3-yard to be a joke. The rule for a Dutch yacht is that the tip of the ensign should be 1cm above the water when hanging limp. 

Just to confuse things, Union flags come in two aspect ratios; the standard 1:2 for we wet types, and the slightly squarer 3:5 version favoured by the brown jobs. Here's a quick price comparison for (as far as I can tell) like-for-like 2-yard sewn MOD poly flags;

Navy 1:2 vers. Army 3:5 vers

91cm x 183cm 91cm x 152cm
Hampshire Flag Co £54.50 £54.50
Easyflag co £46.00 £44.00
JW Plant £53.88 NA
Flying Colours £53.00 NA
South Coast Flagpoles £54.00 £47.50
Mr Flag £56.40 NA

So go on. Spend £50 today on a flag you can fly (or wear) with pride ...
(Uhm and please avoid the solecism of exhibiting an ensign - any ensign - on land)

Tax Devolution - the first step

To give effect to Cameron's promises (which of course he never breaks) it will be necessary to devolve taxation - both setting taxes and collecting them - down to 'Tier II" authorities. Tier II authorities are:
  • Scottish Parliament
  • Welsh Assembly
  • Northern Ireland Assembly
  • Greater London Authority (see below for City of London)
  • Metropolitan Supercities
  • Counties - sole or consortia
As for which taxes to devolve as an easy first tranche, I suggest that these must be either (a) already collected, but not set, locally (b) self-assessed, where change would be initially limited to where to send the money. VAT must remain a national tax, and I suggest to start with that Income Tax remains set and collected nationally also. As for the City of London, Corporation and Business Tax here is a unique case. City taxes need to pay for infrastructure improvements in London and the South East - our Victorian infrastructure is straining at serving a population of over 10m in the region. But the City must also be free to set globally competitive tax rates to ensure we retain our world class financial hub status. That's one to debate. As for taxes that meet the 'easy' criteria - i.e. that won't need massive new offices or hordes of new staff, just a change of  BICS and IBAN numbers, I suggest

£bn % of UK
National Insurance 104.60 19.0%
Corporation tax 51.30 9.0%
Fuel duty 25.70 5.0%
Council Tax 24.90 5.0%
Business rates 23.70 4.0%
Stamp Duty 13.50 2.0%
VED 6.10 1.0%
Capital Gains tax 5.00 1.0%

254.80 46.0%

That's 46% of the UK tax take devolved at a stroke - and that 46% will pay for a commensurate devolved level of Health, Education, Police, Welfare services. It will be up to the Tier II authorities to balance the books locally based on their tax take. 

The Westminster government can continue to use their 54% share of tax to pump additional funds into areas where the tax base from devolved tax is too low to provide a 'basement' level of services.

This is achievable within two years. It also goes without saying that Tier II authorities cannot levy new taxes that they invent themselves - so no Jizyah, tax on people with posh accents, yacht tax, Pit Bull Levy or Irn Bru duty.  

Oh yes. And because we can't trust Cameron - he really is a lying hound - we need a Constitutional Convention. Now.  

NB - See recent GLA fiscal devolution report on devolution of land taxes - including those I've mentioned above - to London and other big cities HERE (.pdf)

Now it's England's turn

Now it's England's turn. 

At this time, it is expected that Cameron will announce not an English Parliament but an arrangement by which English matters are voted upon only by English MPs.

This is not enough. Currently 97% of taxes are decided and levied centrally - only Council tax is set locally, and this is capped in strict limits by Whitehall. This must change radically; it will not be until the Central State is dependent on subventions of tax remitted by devolved authorities that England will have achieved the required federalism.

The Counties and big city unitaries must first be enabled as tax collecting authorities. Then they must be empowered to set their own taxes. Rather than these devolved authorities being dependent on Whitehall's largesses for 75% of their funding, Westminster will be dependent for its funding on the subventions made by delegated authorities. 

Tax power is the only power that matters. Tax power will be the power that the constipated grasping centralists in Whitehall and Westminster will resist with great guile and prevarication; it will forever be promised for tomorrow. This is not good enough. We must start with tax, not end with it.

For now it's England's turn to win our freedom from the dead grip of a Central State propped with the corpses of the dying parties. 

My fave quote of the morning from the Kleine Zeitung : "Das Thema hatte die Bevölkerung in dem Fünf-Millionen-Einwohner-Land im Norden Englands monatelang elektrisiert". Or "The subject had electrified the population for months in the five-million-inhabitant country in northern England."

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Losing Scotland will be like losing a gangrenous foot

Losing Scotland from the Union will be like losing a gangrenous foot. Sure, we'd rather keep it - but whole and healthy. Once we recognise that the member is diseased beyond salvage, well, take it off. It's only 8% of us. 

And if the Yes campaign - led by a racist demagogue whose street thugs remain un-censured as they bully, kick, spit and vandalise their way across Scotland to impose their ugly racist nationalism -  has shown anything in the past few weeks, it is that Scotland is gangrenous.

It's become clear that if Scotland votes No, we'll have a violent, petulant little nation with a massive sense of grievance to deal with - which will cost us even more than Scotland does at present. The risk that it will infect the rest of the healthy body is too great. Let's cut it off. 

The United Kingdom is much bigger than the craggy, hostile, squabbling bit at the top, and will prosper after a split. And as the Scots gaze across the barbed-wire border in wonder at our wealth, full supermarket shelves, new clothes and cars and sleek prosperity let 'em weep.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Speccie publishes Cameron's resignation letter

The Speccie has had a decent go at drafting Cameron's resignation letter for him - HERE
However, there is no excuse for the lack of seriousness, effort and thought that I and my cabinet put into the referendum until too late in the day.  Whatever the future may hold for an independent Scotland, there is no question that the immediate prospect for England, Wales and Northern Ireland is a dismaying and difficult one.
Anything they've missed?

Austrian traffic cop covered in confusion

It is suspected that an angry Austrian motorist was responsible for setting what Kleine Zeitung calls a 'shit bomb' in a location frequently used by traffic police to take radar speed readings. The faecal fire-cracker device exploded yesterday as it was approached by a traffic policeman, causing him to be shocked and covered in, er, confusion. Apart from the smell and the humiliation, he was otherwise unhurt.

I suppose it's more fun than necklacing speed cams.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014


Well, don't say I didn't tell you; I wrote in a response yesterday that
Scotland's early membership of the EU? Sorry, it just ain't going to happen. The accession of a new member requires the UNANIMOUS consent of all 28 members - and Spain will never, never consent because the precedent will be set for Catalunya. Even without Spain, the UK could block it unless Scotland takes its full share of the national debt plus say a 20 year lease of Faslane ... but as I say, it just ain't going to happen.
The Telegraph reports in detail an interview with Inigo Mendez de Vigo, Spain's European Affairs Minister, in which he makes the issue clear;
"It is crystal clear that any partner member-state that leaves the member state is out of the European Union. If they want to apply again, they would have to follow the procedure of article 49 of the treaties." He continued there were “more ifs than a poem by Kipling” about whether and on what terms Scotland would gain entry, emphasising this must be unanimously agreed by the member states and “it is a process that takes more or less five years"
It was also clear that Scotland would lose all of the UK's opt-outs and would have to use the Euro. 

I'm afraid 'yes' voters who believe that anything different will happen are just deluding themselves. 

Site identified for English Parliament building

In the event of a 'No' vote on Thursday, the pressure will turn to the creation of an English parliament. Whilst John Redwood's proposals to use the existing parliament buildings are OK as a temporary fix, he assumes that MPs elected to a United Kingdom parliament will also automatically be our English parliament representatives. I don't think this is workable.

I think we need a much-reduced UK parliament of perhaps 320 members to deal with defence, international relations, UK finance and suchlike matters and an entirely separate English parliament. Whilst this will be the subject of much debate, we should throw in the reservation of a central London site for an English parliament - should this be required. In effect, we need to identify a site and embargo any alternative re-development until the EP matter is decided.

The existing MOD building is a prime candidate. It's not old, valuable or architecturally distinguished and makes poor use of the site footprint. It's sized for a cold-war scale caucus of defence civil servants from the days of typewriters and carbon paper - in other words, far too big for the size the current London MOD needs to be. They could move back into the old War Office building. 

With the Wales Office next door, and a building opposite used by the Scotland Office (which could become the Northern Ireland Office after Thursday in the event of a 'yes' vote) so ideally situated. 

Outline plans below of current and future;

Cornered Cameron on the rocks

An embattled Cameron made a plea yesterday to save his political life following the most colossal series of blunders and massive exhibition of ineptitude ever displayed by a British Prime Minister. His job is on the rocks - as Isabel Oakeshott reported in last night's ES, 'Moderate backbenchers inclined to loyalty towards the PM are usually a good bellwether. Among those I spoke to last night, the verdict was unanimous: if Scotland breaks away, the PM’s number is up'.

William Hague is preparing to take over as a caretaker PM and leader of the Tory party from next week in the event of a 'yes' vote, which would see Cameron creep away from Downing Street in ignominy.

Cameron's pronouncement yesterday that an English parliament was 'nowhere on the radar' in response to John Redwood's demands is yet another example of a purblind stupidity as gross as his errors over Scotland. Unless the mainstream parties pick up and run with the idea of an English parliament - and Redwood's version is probably the sensible one - they are all finished. 

NB - If anyone is organising a mass march on Downing Street in the event of a 'yes' vote to encourage Cameron to pack, please let me know - I'll put up a column banner here. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Salmond: Independent Scotland will drive on the right

As the Indyref debate heats up in the final days, Alex Salmond has been saving a few big-ticket announcements for the final days - including the bombshell delivered at this afternoon's press conference that Scotland would convert to driving on the right by 2016. 

He claimed this would give Scotland access to standard car models manufactured for Europe at a massive saving; his economics team claimed the switch would cut €3bn from consumer costs over the following five years. Only England, he claimed, was daft enough to need a different and more expensive car than that used  everywhere else in Europe.

He put the cost of changing Scotland's road system as 'peanuts' - "it's a just a few pots of white paint and moving some signs about"

Early polling research revealed that 49% of Scots voters believed this without question.

Another question Salmond can't answer

C'mon Alex - if you're so smart, pin the Saltire to where it will be in 2016

Can't do it? So you're asking people to vote for a country without a currency, without an embassy in the world, and with not a single international trade and economic relations treaty in place, and no prospect of an answer to any of them before your split date of 2016? You foolish, deluded, irresponsible little man.

Clicky to make big

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Highlanders and Lowlanders gave their lives for the Union

Don't betray them on Thursday.

English Parliament NOW

In the event of a 'yes' vote, things must move rapidly. Firstly, Scots MPs must be excluded from any matters in Parliament concerning only England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Scots representation must cease not in 18 months, but when Parliament is prorogued in April next year. Next, an English Parliament must be formed to take control of all Parliamentary business except defence, international relations, customs and tariffs, air traffic control and maritime regulation, weights and measures, communications and VAT. All other taxation must be devolved to the lowest level at which it can effectively be administered and collected. 

Direct Democracy will help stabilise the evolution of a political system whilst ensuring that legislative changes follow the wishes of the English people. All new senior public sector appointments, commissions in HM armed forces, intelligence service appointments etc. to be restricted to rUK citizens born in England, Wales or Northern Ireland - we don't want a repeat of the Curragh. 

Full overseas fees to be charged to all Scots students in English universities from 2015/2016 academic year. Majority English ownership (more than 33/64ths) required for Red Duster ship registration.  

Civic privileges of Scots citizens in England to be the same as other Commonwealth citizens - i.e. right to vote (if reciprocated) but no automatic entitlement to benefits or welfare. No dual nationality permitted - Scottish-born residents in England on Transition Day can choose rUK OR Scots nationality, but their rUK citizenship will lapse if they get a Scots passport. 

It will be a busy legislative session and the Tories must overcome the torpor and indolence that has infected them under Cameron. That's for starters.