Saturday, September 03, 2011

Six answers for the Burd's questions to Mike Moore

The other day, The Burd posed six questions for Mike Moore in response to the Scottish Secretary's attempt to nail Salmond's independence jelly to the wall. I thought it was worth repeating the questions and the answers I left as a comment. I hope she doesn't mind. The formatting has gone a bit loopy, but I can't do anything about it as I have to run for a train. 
1.  What are you doing to regulate banks more tightly so that they cannot gamble their way to riches with our money, at our expense?  Indeed, just what jot of a difference have the Liberal Democrats in this unholy alliance with the Tories done to make another banking crash less likely?
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.
2.  What is your party/government doing to stop the diminishing value of the money we currently have in our pockets?  Inflation is at record rates and shows no sign of dropping back.  Day to day essentials – leccy, hot water, food – are soaring in cost.  And thanks to your lot, what with NI rises and tax credit cuts, and pay freezes resulting from stagnation in the economy and particularly cuts in the public services, the fact is that we are currently being expected to pay more with less.  Any chance of you focusing on the currency we have, rather than the one we might have at some point in the future?
 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?
3.  Never mind future membership of international organisations, what about the union we’re already in – why should we stay?  Explain to me what it is we get from staying in the United Kingdom?  Go on, try.
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?

And then there’s sport. Our athletes probably have more opportunities as part of a GB team than they would in an independent Scotland.
And there’s stuff on the environment that we need to do as a planet and co-ordinated action up and down this small island is a good thing.
Yes, we need more devolution of powers – and we need devolution from as well as to Edinburgh, but the principle of being part of “Team UK” is a good one. Everybody wins. We as Scots have increasing power over our own home affairs and have the security of being part of the UK and then Europe.
I seriously don’t get independence – to me a fair and liberal society is much more important. That’s what sets my heart racing, not the thought of setting up border posts at Gretna Green.

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.

5.  Will the current generation of workies actually get to retire?  You see, in the space of a few years, the retirement age has been raised, not once but twice.  Under your watch, what with the high inflation and flat interest rates and volatile investment markets, watching your pension pot is akin to being on a see-saw right now.  Oh, and public sector workers are about to see theirs diminish too.  We’re all in this together right?  Never mind the liabilities we might have under independence, what are you doing about the ruddy great big hole in everyone’s pensions under your government that’s there right now?
 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.
6.  How much do you and your wee outpost cost the taxpayer again?  Somewhere in the region of £10 million annually huh?  Independence would at least deliver that saving.  What could we spend our bawbees on?  Well, how about clothing grants for poor weans.  We could increase the numbers entitled to receive a grant, also provide a one-off transition grant to help with the costs of uniform and kit for going to secondary school and increase the size of the grant from £50 to £70 a year – and still have change left in the kitty.  Hmm,  an ineffectual government mouthpiece who is doing absolutely nothing to protect some of the poorest in society from the savagery of Tory cuts or weans getting a decent coat to wear in the winter.  Tough choice huh?
Well you might consider the £4 million Mike’s brought in from the Crown Estate balances out a good whack of his department’s costs. If we’re going to be part of the UK, it’s important that Scotland’s voice is heard within the UK Government. Mike is an effective and skilful advocate for us as we can see through the carriers, the service bases, the coastguard stuff – and also on welfare reform too. If we sold off Bute House, or stopped our MSPs having constituency offices, or I’m sure there’s very many things we can think of, we could make things easier for those who need it most. If we made the rich pay for their medicines, rather than get them free, we could have £40 million a year back into the budget. I think it’s an abomination that my husband now has a bus pass. He doesn’t need it. We could save a small fortune if we took that back to 65 for people who weren’t disabled or on benefits.
I reckon the Scotland Office, anachronistic though it may seem post devolution, has important functions for all of us in Scotland.


KelvinKid said...

A lot of your supposed rebuttal is just a matter of opinion but I seriously advise you not to blog on pensions because you clearly know very little about them. You say "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." Civil service pensions are 'non-contributory' which does not mean that civil servants pay nothing for their pensions. Civil service salaries are actuarially reduced to take account of the pension benefit. The rate of reduction in the 'classic' scheme is 5.5%, with an additional 1.75% actual deduction for the 'widows and orphans fund'. Changes in the pension scheme since 2007 have seen increased contributions imposed along with reduced benefits. Stick to what you know.

Munguin said...

The answer to the first question does not in actual fact answer it. Saying the Vince Cable spotted it coming and is not liked by big business is hardly an answer is it? So once again what is your party doing in this coalition to make another financial crisis less likely?

I thought that the Chancellor said that the tax threshold would move to the magic £10K if and when we can afford it. That is a big difference from you saying it will, unless you know something that we don’t. The Lib Dems did not vote against nuclear weapons only to put the decision off for the life of the parliament, that smacks of a cop out.

While Huhne embracing nuclear power smacks of a U-turn. In an independent Scotland energy would be cheaper seeing as in the North Sea we have more than enough to supply all of Scotland without importing any from Russia.

You can’t just say that military bases are a benefit we get from the union. Independent countries like Norway, Sweden and Denmark all have more than one air base for example, like we currently do thanks to coalition cuts, and those countries are not even at war.

Who says anything about putting up barriers? Are their barriers between the UK and Ireland in Northern Ireland? No! Why can’t an independent Scotland come to an accommodation on sharing armed forces assets much as your coalition suggests doing with France?

How would our athletes have more chance as part of team GB. Being in the union does not make you any better at your chosen sport surely, if you are good enough to win a gold you would win it anyway no matter what flag you wear. Also we would put more athletes forward as they would not be in competition for limited places with ones from England now would they. We would need to field a full team.

Isn’t the environment already a devolved matter?

You say everybody wins as part of team UK but you fail to say how.

I see the latest Ipsos Moray poll gives failed Fife MP Willie Rennie an overall rating of minus 14 in terms of approval rating as leader of the Lib Dems in Scotland. That’s 17% satisfied and 32% dissatisfied. Ipsos have that as minus 14 although I make it minus 15 but am in the mood to be generous. You see Caron no matter how often you tell us he is holding the SNP to account it does not make it true. You it seems are in a dwindling minority that think Rennie is doing sterling work. More lost deposits al la Inverclyde under Willie on the horizon I should think.

Anonymous said...

You ask "How could an independent Scotland support an army, a navy and an airforce?" Norway (popn.5m) and Finland (popn.5m) seem to manage alright, even taking part in UK and NATO operations. Why couldn't Scotland do the same?


cynicalHighlander said...

You are having a 'larf' aren't you? If not then this country is doomed the longer it is tied too rUK and deservedly so.

How come Libya is reported in the media as being a wealthy country with its oil yet Scotland would be a backwater without the support via UK. Libya pop oil equivalent 0.2788 barrels a day and Scotland pop oil equivalent 0.2877 barrels a day.

As to both Moore's and Alexander's rants this week they are both telling blatant lies, but as you are unable to accept the truth on Lord Steel explains your lack of recognising the truth when its put in front of unionist eyes.

Dan Falchikov said...

The Burd's questions seem too deranged to warrant a response. So I'm not sure answering them is worthwhile - particularly given the comments you have attracted as a result.

cynicalHighlander said...

Dan Falchikov

Have you read M Moore's first question? This from someone who is supposed to be intelligent.

How you would regulate your banks?
The same way that other countries have recently agreed too, Basel Three.

We are wasting £10 million of our pocket money on this nonsense.


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