Saturday, September 03, 2011
Six answers for the Burd's questions to Mike Moore
I think the rancour towards Vince from city types tells you all you need to know on that one. And please don’t tell me that Alex Salmond would have stopped the banks’ excesses. Nobody did – and the only one who warned of the dangers from way back was Vince. You have a point in that those on the lowest incomes are really struggling with rising prices. The full raising of the tax threshold to £10,000 will happen, but people actually need help now. However, I am in no doubt that the situation would be a lot worse if the Coalition hadn’t taken action to tackle the deficit. We’d be in the same situation as Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Italy and the measures, facing high interest rates and much worse cuts in services. The Coalition inherited an economy in pretty bad shape and are taking broadly the right approach. I’d have made different decisions about some items of spending, for sure. Why on earth we need to be planning to spend huge amounts on nuclear weapons is beyond me. The fact, by the way, that we’re not spending that money and making those decisions now is down to the Lib Dems in the coalition. And if the Tories were governing alone, there would be no tax cuts for the poorest, rich, dead people would be much better off and we’d get a tax break for being married. Oh and another one I've thought of since - in an independent Scotland, what would happen to energy prices? Wouldn't they be a lot higher?I agree with what Douglas said about your questions 3 and 4 – you are trying to have your cake and eat it there. You can’t say there’s no benefits to the union and then complain when UK service bases in Scotland are shut. Scotland does a lot of business with England, currently carried out with no faffing. If Scotland were independent, even though there’s a single market in Europe, there’s still customs rules and the like to deal with. Putting up barriers would be bound to cause more paperwork and form-filling and the likes. We are a relatively small group of islands. Surely it makes sense to have one set of Armed Forces to defend that island. How would an independent Scotland sustain an Army, Air Force and Navy and what would have to be cut to pay for it, or how high would our taxes have to be?
4. How many soldiers, sailors, airmen, bases, budgets, big ticket defence numbers and regiments has your government cut in Scotland and indeed, across the UK since coming to power? I see the poor Ghurkas took another dunt today. Nice to see the UK government hitting the colonials before their ain. How does that square with the Lib Dem commitment to equality and parity of treatment that seemed to exercise quite a few of your lot before you climbed into bed with the Tories? Indeed, what do all the Quakers in your movement think of your obsession with all things shiny and jingoistic these days?
Clearly in an independent Scotland there would be no British army. However, every time I see Mike Moore, I see etched on his face his concern for places like Kinloss and Fife. Of all the bourachs Labour left behind, defence was the worst. Despite all that, though, there will still be more service personnel in Scotland – 2500 of them, which will limit the damage in the affected communities. Mike Moore has spent a lot of time working with those communities, setting up a way of them to feed back concerns directly to the MOD and the Treasury. Mike also fought for the carriers, too which will secure good quality skilled jobs in Fife and on the Clyde.
Pensions – a nightmare which successive governments had failed to tackle properly. We have an aging population, and the previous generation of middle income public sector workers had it quite easy, with many being able to retire relatively comfortably at 50. Maybe we’re now paying for that excess. And if we don’t like having that legacy foisted on us, imagine how the next generation would feel if we didn’t get a grip on the public finances. But look what Steve Webb has done with his triple lock on the State Pension, making a big difference compared to Labour’s paltry 75p rises. There are no easy answers to this one. It annoys me, though, that civil servants have never had to contribute anything while council employees have – I think there needs to be some levelling out of that.