There Is A Nordic Alternative

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  By Lesley Riddoch

There is No Alternative says Chancellor George Osborne.  Austerity and welfare cuts are the only game in town – even though the UK has so few vital signs that our economic prospects for the rest of 2012 have just been downgraded by the IMF.

Housing benefit for the under 25s may be cut, workers may be “offered” contracts where employment rights are swapped for shares and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson grabbed the headlines north of the border (some achievement for a Conservative these days) in a conference speech claiming just one in eight Scots makes an overall positive contribution to the public coffers.

  By Lesley Riddoch

There is No Alternative says Chancellor George Osborne.  Austerity and welfare cuts are the only game in town – even though the UK has so few vital signs that our economic prospects for the rest of 2012 have just been downgraded by the IMF.

Housing benefit for the under 25s may be cut, workers may be “offered” contracts where employment rights are swapped for shares and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson grabbed the headlines north of the border (some achievement for a Conservative these days) in a conference speech claiming just one in eight Scots makes an overall positive contribution to the public coffers.

She told delegates at the Tory conference: “It is staggering that public sector expenditure makes up a full 50 per cent of Scotland’s GDP and only 12 per cent of people are net contributors.”

Critics immediately accused “Miss Romney” of twisting statistics to exclude hundreds of public sector workers and including economically inactive pensioners and children.  A popular tweet observed that Republican contender Mitt Romney only insulted half the American population with claims they “sponged” off the state – Ruth Davidson had managed to insult just about everyone in Scotland.

Still, the blaming, loaded, judgemental language has created a poisonous atmosphere – preparing the public for just about any policy, no matter how tough, harmful or counter-productive, in the months and years ahead.  

Ironically the Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont may have prepared this ground with a controversial attack on universal benefits (free prescriptions, eye tests, personal care, pensioner bus passes etc) even though most were brought in by the last Labour Holyrood administration.  It seems there’s a bidding war to see who can stick the boot into “universal” welfare provision hardest – never mind that these benefits constitute just 2-3% of the Scottish budget, are costly to means test and dwarfed by other welfare delivery problems like the emergency admission of frail, isolated old people with no acute health problems.  Political reaction has been heated – but privately those hard words resonate.

Are we a “something for nothing” society? Are cuts the only answer? Perhaps there really is no choice?
There is.  But it would take humility, planning, and a Nordic rethink of society.

In Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland “welfare” spending is even higher than Scotland but the numbers who use the resulting high quality services (even paying additional user fees) are also the highest in Europe.  Heavily subsidised kindergarten care in Norway, for example, has a maximum monthly contribution from parents of £200.

Not free but not totally unaffordable either – and those out of work pay no charges. In the Nordic nations welfare is not a desperate “last resort” or an admission of personal failure.  It’s an “everybody” system redistributing income across an individual’s lifetime as much as between individuals.

In Britain, it’s different.  Middle earners pay taxes AND take out private insurance to safeguard their own access to non-state funded, higher quality private welfare services.  That’s crazy, divisive, expensive and a recipe for stoking up resentment.  This “double dunting” means many middle earning families in the UK pay the same or even more on welfare than their Nordic counterparts – with the big difference that our tax pounds don’t help fix people, sort out problems in the long term, give welfare workers good jobs or help create healthier, happier nations.

Don’t get me wrong.  Affordability is a big issue in the Nordic nations too.  But a Nordic Council of Ministers report on the subject has a very different tone to the hysterical, finger-pointing debate here.  They worry about a drop in the high quality of welfare services because that will damage social cohesion and the ability of women to work and thus kill the golden goose that’s let the whole “bumblebee” Nordic economy “fly” – high levels of trust in government combined with very high levels of employment.  As long as almost everyone is making a contribution risk can be shared collectively. Compare and contrast Britain.

No Nordic government would dream of encouraging workers to swap employment rights for company shares.  For one thing it wouldn’t be possible since social contracts between unions and employers operate in every country and every workplace.  More importantly, the Nordic ability to combine high welfare standards with high levels of wealth creation (and produce large profitable companies like NOKIA, Eriksson, IKEA, H&M etc) depends on worker satisfaction and fairness in the workplace.  Openness to globalism and changing practices is only possible when workers feel secure.  It’s a quid pro quo – and it works.

In any case, Nordic workers already have a huge stake in the success of their company because so many big businesses are co-operatives.  In Sweden and Finland massive co-ops of fifty thousand individual owners run companies producing the wood pulp for most of the world’s newspapers, as well as ferries, hotels and food distribution networks.

Yesterday Norway extended paid paternity leave to 14 weeks and was recently designated “best country in the world for mothers” – for the third year running.  Even “basket-case” Iceland celebrated a return to growth last month by …increasing child benefit.

Cmon everyone.  There IS an alternative.  Britain is currently heading to hell in a handcart.  Scotland doesn’t have a clear vision of where it might be going post independence referendum either.  I’m not suggesting Scotland or the UK aims to become a carbon copy of any Nordic nation – but every economic comparison is with “old Europe”.  Why can’t we bear comparison with Scotland’s nearest neighbours?

For one thing, there would currently be huge resistance here to paying more tax – ironically because people don’t trust our government to spend tax wisely on high quality public services.

Alex Salmond’s vision of a country awash with oil and wind-farm cash is good – but it isn’t human enough.  It doesn’t tell Scots how we will treat one another.  How the state will treat us.  How everyday lives will be better.

It is possible for us to change direction.  In 1905 Norway was the second poorest country in Europe.  The longer we deny there is an alternative, the harder it will be to turn the wobbly boat around – be it the good ship Britain or the plucky little longboat Scotland.

33 COMMENTS

  1. This is exactly the message we must get out to the public but how do we do that with an almost universally hostile mass media?
    We’re currently losing this battle, and not because of the quality of our case. The dominant media retoric is anti SNP and if we can’t find a way to change that we’re not going to change the minds of the vast unwashed who get their world view from papers and TV.
    Ideas?

    • OK.

      If we had continued our demonstrations against media bias then drawing foreign TV interest to this [i]may[/i] have had an effect. That was stymied by the SNP themselves by claiming there is no bias.

      Another thing they could do is to issue a declaration that a NO result will not now be effective for a generation because of the bias and lies of the press and the Brit Nat news management team (aka the UK government and its Dependency Tendency Lackeys in Scotland).

      Next the SNP should have by now, but can still, have as policy that referendums will be held within a specified time-frame post independence on all key issues of national importance but with both cross party support and dissent, including EU membership, Nato membership and the Monarchy.
      These things are divisive distractions and indeed pointless even to consider or take a stance on until after independence.

      In fact they should announce an ongoing policy of direct democracy as part of the political make up of a new independent Scotland.

      WRITTEN CONSTITUTION
      The direct democracy mentioned above and other things in regard to the machinery of government should be laid out in a proposed written constitution.

      Other innovative things which it should have are;

      An extension of perjury laws to include any public announcements made by elected officials who have taken an oath of office, i.e. this regards the electorate as being effectively ‘a jury’ just with a very long trial length (4 or 5 year between elections) which, in the interest of justice and truth, has a special right not to be misled. Police should have the right to arrest and criminally charge any politician who makes an untrue statement where it can be shown (emails, phone vids etc) that they knew what they were saying was untrue. This is not just to cut 2/3 of U-pack material, it is the right thing to do from a democracy stance.

      A review process for legislation should be included where a peer elected team of experts of limited service time (3 years say) undertake reviews of all draft legislation on a basis of public service (necessary expenses but no remuneration). Their comments would be attached to draft legislation in perpetuity. Members of the SP would be required to read those as well as the Bill itself and sign that they have done so before passing final Bill. After 3 years (or so) ‘in the field’ every Bill enacted would be re-presented for final ratification or amendment or dropping subject to experience gathered from its trial.

      The Constitution should also have the usual more mundane stuff as well.

      STRATEGY

      The financial facts need to be emphasised more. In particular England’s huge food and drink deficit with the rest of the World should be made more known. In size it is comparable with oil revenue (total) but gets hardly a mention.

      The Total External Debt time bomb in the UK should also be reported more. The UK is financially doomed.

      People should be told straight.

      1 The media is biased.

      2 The UK is in very dire financial straights.

      3 Scotland will be much better off independent.

      4 England will also be better off in the long run, at least in terms of personal growth, without Scotland. The superiority mythos they have been spoon-fed, which is without any basis in reality, has not been healthy for them either.

      5 If we vote NO, apart from being an international laughing stock, the SP will be stripped of powers, if it survives at all, and the election system will be rigged even more than it was for Devolution to ensure the SNP cannot win again.

      6 The Scottish people will be treated with even more contempt than they have been up to now.

      Basically, it is time to get more assertive. The ‘safe pair of hands’ has been demonstrated. At some point even a technically gifted defensive boxer has to come out of the corner fighting.

      • [i]If we had continued our demonstrations against media bias then drawing foreign TV interest to this may have had an effect. That was stymied by the SNP themselves by claiming there is no bias.[/i]

        If you get 20,000 people demonstrating and making a noise outside Pathetic Quay you will get media attention. I can’t remember the BBC ever having such a demo against it and it will attract interest, both domestically and internationally.
        It doesn’t have to be connected to the SNP in any way, it can be Scots licence fee payers angry at the rubbish news service we receive, especially at this crucial time in our history.

        Likewise, if we had 50k or even a 100k marching in Edinburgh the other weekend people would have sat up and taken notice, and it would have attracted a lot more press.

        So the question we have to ask ourselves is ‘are we really prepared to get off our backsides and do this properly, like the people of Catalonia did and do ?

        If you think about the Edinburgh rally, we had 10k there. How many SNP/Independence supporters are there in Edinburgh alone ? Well the city must have a voting population of roughly 300k, and if 35% of them want independence then thats a lot more than turned up to march.

        Yes we might be two years away, but I think there’s a degree of apathy to be overcome. (No disrespect to the organisers of the rally, who did a marvellous job with limited resources)

        If we receive restricted coverage in the press and on tv, then we have to make our opportunities count.

        Apart from this Dunnichen, we just keep giving the positive message. Remember what Margo said at the rally – ‘if a third of Scot’s currently support independence then every one of us only needs to persuade one more to vote Yes then we will be home and dry.’

        • I wouldn’t get too concerned about the numbers on the street in Catalonia. In Spain generally, there is a culture of taking to the streets en mass. Usually it is in the form of countless religious processions throughout the country and throughout the year or tomato throwing festivals or bull running or Mardi Gras etc. or even just an evening walk down the Ramblas or along the beach.

          After all they have the weather for it, so the most natural thing in the world for them to respond to is an excuse to take to the streets.

          The Moreno question, devised to specifically compare Catalan and Scottish ‘identity’ positions has been asked in surveys in both locales for many years and has concluded that Scottish national identity is stronger than that in Catalonia.

      • [quote name=”chicmac”]OK.

        “An extension of perjury laws to include any public announcements made by elected officials who have taken an oath of office, i.e. this regards the electorate as being effectively ‘a jury’ just with a very long trial length (4 or 5 year between elections) which, in the interest of justice and truth, has a special right not to be misled. Police should have the right to arrest and criminally charge any politician who makes an untrue statement where it can be shown (emails, phone vids etc) that they knew what they were saying was untrue. This is not just to cut 2/3 of U-pack material, it is the right thing to do from a democracy stance”.

        I have always and continue to believe in this idea. It should also be extended to include the free press/MSM. If a citizen makes a complaint of an elected or unelected tax payer funded or otherwise funded mouthpiece/newspaper/MSM there should be a means for review and it should be more effective than the Press Complaints system!!

        However, whilst a legal obligation on the truth being told at all times is welcome, who would frame such a law? That would be politicians! I see a problem.

        Why do we teach our children to tell the truth when our elected servants in this “democracy” of ours are allowed to or instructed to routinely lie.

        I am sick of the lies, half truths errors of omission etc. but I do not see it getting better in the next 100 weeks.

        Getting the truth heard is our responsibility.

        “I did not use the words that are attributed to me”

  2. The only government I would trust with our taxes is our present SNP government, and I like your direction lesley because it shows us a more positive result for our money with built in fairness for all.

    But try selling that to the unionist parties, the fact that they can’t hive off the cream of our country finances to keep their fatcat backers happy will never suit them.

    In the past couple of weeks we have had the Scottish leaders of the two main unionist parties call the people of this country nothing more than (spongers belonging to a something for nothing country)and doing this in public down at their conferences in England.

    Do you honestly think that these type of people are going to back something than would actually improve and enhance the lifes of their fellow Scots. I’ll back you but those b#####ds won’t, no chance.

    Thanks for the article VG.

    Vote Yes, Vote Scotland.
    Alba Gu Brath.

    • [quote name=”Davy”]The only government I would trust with our taxes is our present SNP government, and I like your direction lesley because it shows us a more positive result for our money with built in fairness for all.

      But try selling that to the unionist parties, the fact that they can’t hive off the cream of our country finances to keep their fatcat backers happy will never suit them.

      In the past couple of weeks we have had the Scottish leaders of the two main unionist parties call the people of this country nothing more than (spongers belonging to a something for nothing country)and doing this in public down at their conferences in England.

      Do you honestly think that these type of people are going to back something than would actually improve and enhance the lifes of their fellow Scots. I’ll back you but those b#####ds won’t, no chance.

      Thanks for the article VG.

      Vote Yes, Vote Scotland.
      Alba Gu Brath.[/quote]

      Actually I think the Rhetoric comming from Lament and Davidson is directed at the English public in order to prepare them for the break up of the UK. They want the English to believe Scotlands departure is a benefit to them. I believe this is an open admission that Indepdence is now inevitable. I believe theyve conducted polls up and down the country and didnt like the results so havent published them. That poll in the Herald didnt even exist! It was taken from an old poll which asked an opinion on the wording of the referedum question and was not a reflection of the result of the question itself. This level of Unionist misinformation is a reflection of their pain and frustration. They are losing and losing badly because of their own ideals policies and self serving corruption. So dont fret yourself. Unionism will see that we gain our Independence by its very nature.

      • Thank you for your concern about me “freting myself”, and could you elaborate about the Herald poll ?

        But what I do not accept is the fact that the two Scottish leaders of the main unionist parties think they have the right to miscall the Scottish people and their way of life just to suit their political needs. And do not even have any policys to rectify our so-called misdeeds, instead they believe their position makes them invulenrable to any response from the public, because to them we dont matter, only their party and themselves matter.

        Well screw them, we dont have to fret or accept their crap anymore, instead we fight back with every bit of voice we have. Take them on head first, every article and scare story they produce get onto the internet and trash their lies.
        Scotland deserves better than them.

  3. Great article!

    Salmond is now talking about a Scottish constitution – could you not do an “Iceland” with citizens commenting on clauses by internet? I know that the government was not directly involved there, but could it not work?

    Seems to me you either create new media relations or you create new media. And since there’s only 2 years left …

    Put wind in the sails of the “Yes” movement!

  4. I am 110% with Johann Lamont on universal benefits.

    I pay my taxes and feel I ought to be allowed to pay for my defence when I need it. So we should have means testing for whether we should defend ourselves in Iraq and only those that need to be defended in this way should get the benefit.

    It makes sense, doesn’t it?

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, I marry this piece looking at what can be done in other countries with all the angst over the decline in British University education and the total lack of any inquiry into what the rest of the world was doing to improve so. The Nay sayers are like the druggies in the squat huddled together for warmth and waiting for their next fix of Trident and its empire high, whereas the Yes are pulling aside the binbag curtains and saying “Hey there’s the sun and there’s a whole world of opportunity out there. Let’s go.”

    • Meanwhile back in the real world and totally off topic, Hugo Chavez wins a free and fair election in Venezeula. Obviously a scounger State since he has bizarre notions about providing Free Education! The veiled fury with which a certain section of the Brit Media greeted that result had me in stitches. Since thier annointed candidate a clone of Cameron Blair didnt win!

  5. This is the best article on the economic situation I have seen in a long time. Your absolutely right Lesley of course there is an intelligent alternative to unemployment.
    It is however equally clear that the UK political parties will never accept this obvious alternative from our neighbours but Scotland as an independent country could and should.
    By-the-way, tiny Iceland handled the banking crisis far better than the UK did
    and as you say it is back in growth again.

  6. A pity the BBC can’t do their real job and add some journalistic balance to the debate.

    Without Newsnet and social media all we get is biased unionist rants.

    Good article Lesley – this is the type of conversation we should be having.

  7. Thanks for the article, Lesley. I’m fed up listening to the unionist politicians telling us what we can and can’t do – we need to move away from tired, old ideas of running a miniature Westminster and start to think outside the box – about who we are and how we want to live. The “same old” is just not an option and neither is a poor man’s USA. Let’s create a new country with fresh ideas and a positive outlook – so different from the whinging, poverty-stricken, doom-laden thinking of Lamont and Davidson.

  8. OT but Just listening to Part 3 of “The Cause” on Radio 4 player: Winnie Ewing:

    “The only people who were not chivalrous were the Labour MPs from the Central Belt.”

  9. Cant say I agree with the Nordic model for us simply because we are already paying far far too much in taxation already. The effort needs to be made with the distribution and allocation of our taxation not the levels which are far higher than they really need to be. Theres not much benefit to be had from a higher standard of living if the cost of living removes it. we are resource rich in many ways. We have much in surplus to requirement in particular energy & water. We can exploit what we have without having to exploit ourselves. I appreciate the diversity of support within the Independence movement its our main strength but I suspect we will want to go off in different directions once we gain our all important Indepedence from Westminster!

  10. A very good article from Lesley, well done!, she has a handle on these things.

    I hope we are going to be in the position to be able to start down this path. It is much more like the Scotland that we should aspire to.

  11. Whilst I can see we have much to learn from the Nordic model Lesley it might not be the best example of a system to adopt post independence.
    Well, all the existing models have failed haven’t they and in their dying dog days we can see how they lash out at any government attemtping a different model.
    Neither am I saying that I am besotted by the SNP’s idea on how to run the country/economy but it’s by far the best one on the table at the moment.
    Scotland needs radical re-structuring and re-energisation. That takes fresh thinking and much heart searching.
    As a former member of the SNP I left them simply because they were deviod of policies which had been throughly thought out and modelled. In particular their fiscal models. Nearly 10 years later, no change. I characterised the SNP as the party of Smoking Horses. Policies made on the hoof and written down on the backs of fag packets.
    Depsite my disappointment with them, they got and still get my vote. Until someone comes along with a better set of policies.
    Now, what about this SDA lot ?.

    • “This SDA lot” has been considering all these topics for a long time, and furthermore starting from an international perspective of Scotland’s place in the world, as regular readers of its website can testify: http://www.scottishdemocraticalliance.org/international. It should be pointed out that the SDA advocates that Scotland, since it is geographically and topographically a part of Scandinavia, should apply for membership of the Nordic Council. (See “Scotland in Europe” on the SDA website)

      This is a super article that has attracted a number of excellent comments, and I am in total agreement with it. However, in Central Europe there are other countries of Scotland’s size from which lessons can be drawn. Not one of them to my knowledge is attempting to provide medical and other services without some kind of token contribution from those using them. Prescription charges are nominal, and are waived for those on low incomes or with chronic conditions. Token charges are made for hospital residence by those who can afford them.

      The EFTA countries are among the richest in the world. They run a staggering trading surplus with the 27 basket cases of the EU, amongst others (see http://www.efta.int/publications/this-is-efta/this-is-efta-2012.aspx), but they still don’t attempt to do what Holyrood is attempting by removing all responsibility from the individual.

      I am old enough to remember the introduction of the National Health Service back in the 1940s, when one of its initial features was the countless thousands of “free” dentures and spectacles that were never even collected by the patients. They were just “something for nothing”, and lost interest for people who no longer felt an element of personal responsibility for their own welfare. We don’t want to go to that extreme again, and for this reason alone the present policy of universal free welfare is probably unsustainable in the long run.

      That said, I agree with Lesley Riddoch on so many points that there is no space and time left to deal with them. I agree that the UK can no longer be saved in its present form, and I see no alternative for Scotland but to take its own course in cooperation with our Nordic neighbours. It is just a pity that the quality of the discussion at present is so generally partisan and ignorant. Well, we have two years to rectify that situation, and articles of this quality are a solid basis for a broader discussion of the issues involved.

  12. Country—Taxation—-Spending (% of GDP)
    Norway — 42.1% —– 40.2%
    UK ——- 38.9% —– 47.3%

    Those Nordic countries eh and their unsustainable levels of taxation and spending…

    • That canna be right, Norway is just too wee! A wee country we taxes that astronomical canna possibly work! Makes you wonder what the surplus would be if if it didnae have a bigger military than erm – Scotland!

      Brit fries brain!

  13. Andy Anderson 2012-10-09 15:07
    “This is the best article on the economic situation I have seen in a long time. Your absolutely right Lesley of course there is an intelligent alternative to unemployment.”

    I agree with you there, but the economic model is not the whole story here.

    The economic situation will still be there the day after Scotland gains independence.

    As Lesley says “Alex Salmond’s vision of a country awash with oil and wind-farm cash is good – but it isn’t human enough. It doesn’t tell Scots how we will treat one another. How the state will treat us. How everyday lives will be better.”

    The “Nordic model” is about so much more than how they run their economies.

    Lesley’s last three sentences say it all. It is about how we are governed. How we elect our representatives and what they can change without referring back to us. How we respond to world events. How services are provided and paid for.

    In short we need a set of rules, a codified constitution. Made in Scotland by and for Scots

  14. Nordicland boasts some nice gross figures, but the reality is the purchasing power in these countries is very poor. You’re actually better off here in the UK, yes, even better off than in Norway where a big mac meal costs about a tenner.

    That will change over the coming years as the UK declines in order to service its debt. We should be looking at countries like Switzerland for inspiration though.

  15. I have been forced to reappraise my usually hostile opinion of Lesley Riddoch. Possibly the best article she has ever written?

    That line “Britian is heading to hell in a handcart!” That will stick in my mind even if I think it is in that state already.

    She began it with putting boot into UK with the fact IMF has downgraded the better together One Nations growth forecasts. The article just got better after that.

  16. Thanks for a very good balanced article Lesley. Many in your profession could take lessons from you.

    It’s one thing to hold different opinions, but to report with obvious bais is something else. It’s propaganda.

    On your topic,I happened to work for 10 years in Norway so I have first hand experience of the Norwegian way.

    It surprises people here when I tell them for instance, that for the two out of ten years I was able to contribute to Norways NI, I now recieve a Norwegian pension which equals 29% of what I receive from the UK, having contributed to the UK scheme for 30+ years.

    Norway is of course a very expensive place, but they have always had their priorities correct, and it is certainly a better society than the UK.

    But like many others on this site, I am concerned about the open bias of the media in the run up to the referendum. Their “quality” of reporting is not healthy in any society. That is State brain washing, i.e. propaganda.

    I don’t see that changing at all, but it would be nice to have a broadcaster and MSM which did their job with at least some honesty and lot less spin.

  17. I’ve always found it strange that the most similar countries in Europe to Scotland are the Nordic ones, yet the Scottish media seem loathe to mention them at all. The reason is simple though, they are very successful small countries and any comparison would destroy the Unionist myths that we’re too small, or can’t manage on our own. So instead they compare is to countries like Greece, to which we share very few similarities.

  18. From The Irish Times:

    The poorest tenth of earners in Iceland suffered a drop of 9 per cent, whereas in Ireland the drop was 26 per cent (the data for Ireland was for the period 2008-2009 and for Iceland 2008-2010).

    For the second-poorest 10 per cent of earners, the drop in Ireland was 14 per cent, in Iceland, 9 per cent. For the second-richest tenth in Iceland the drop was 17 per cent, in Ireland it was just 2 per cent.
    But, the most revealing figure of all, for the richest 10 per cent in both countries, in Iceland the richest had a drop in earnings of 38 per cent, in Ireland the top 10 per cent showed an increase of 8 per cent.

    http://tinyurl.com/9uc3t2w

    On the other hand……..
    The IMF’s World Economic Outlook says the Irish economy will grow just 0.4 per cent this year, below the Irish Government’s prediction, and but will achieve growth of 1.4 per cent next year.

    Meanwhile the UK has been in recession since the end of last year, and the IMF now expects the economy to shrink by 0.4% over the course of 2012.

    http://tinyurl.com/9ssnvuw

  19. Come a bit late to this, internet problems.

    Excellent article, very balanced, even from someone as slightly right of centre as me. I believe the welfare state in the UK and Scotland is essential and it is pretty good, but it could be a lot better. As Lesley says, it is not just about affordability and throwing money at it willy-nilly but we can spend money on it wisely.

    However I think there is a major issue about not enough money in the economy to support it; whether that is through more taxation, by raising taxes – and we are taxed enough, extending VAT, or wealth creation where taxation stays the same or like Lesley says high added value jobs across the whole economy.

    I do think getting the basics right is important at the moment and not withdrawing anything. I just hope when it is my turn to claim something, that there is still something there to claim.

  20. [quote name=”Leader of the Pack”]Actually I think the Rhetoric comming from Lament and Davidson is directed at the English public in order to prepare them for the break up of the UK. They want the English to believe Scotlands departure is a benefit to them. I believe this is an open admission that Indepdence is now inevitable. I believe theyve conducted polls up and down the country and didnt like the results so havent published them. That poll in the Herald didnt even exist! It was taken from an old poll which asked an opinion on the wording of the referedum question and was not a reflection of the result of the question itself. This level of Unionist misinformation is a reflection of their pain and frustration. They are losing and losing badly because of their own ideals policies and self serving corruption. So dont fret yourself. Unionism will see that we gain our Independence by its very nature.[/quote]
    I thought the same. The Daily Mail and Telegraph will love the speeches damning the Scrounger Scots.

  21. Having worked all over Scandinavia, its obvious that their work culture and social cultures are far mor advanced than anything we have experienced, we should model ourselves on these soceities, we can be like Norway after Independence.
    The LabServative unionists must have their eyes shut, they want to sacrifice some important social benefits and talk us down, so that they can pay for trident and a seat on the security council. Is it worth it?

  22. OT and without wanting to offend any pro-nordics (as I have been in my day and in principle still am) I have to express my disappointment at the Nobel Prize for Peace to the EU. Speaking for Spain and in sympathy with the Greeks in particular, I have to say that this may not be the best moment for such a prize.

    I think that the moral antennae of the nordic countries are a bit atrophied these days. It would be interesting to hear any explanation that Lesley or others may have for this apparent insensitivity.

    Edit – here is a link to an article from the Telegraph which explores this viewpoint. In spite of his posture here, he is sympathetic to the Catalan cause.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100020723/the-wrong-europe-wins-the-nobel-peace-prize/

  23. The reason why the SNP has, over the last few years, reduced its previous use of Norway as its main examplar is simply, in my biassed view, that Norway didnt join the EU and has benefited from the existence of EFTA, which the Euronats see as opposed to the great project of a United States of Europe.

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