Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Royal Wedding

I'm not an ardent Royalist.  Seems like an odd thing to say since we are a parliamentary democracy albeit with a constitutional monarchy bolted on for the tourists.  I suspect then my affiliation would likely be as a republican (note the small ‘r’).  I don't particularly find it offensive to talk about the Royal Wedding its just hyped beyond any level of reality and is probably an anaesthetic to aid worldwide society to cope with the global meltdown.  If I were to believe all I read then, as a subject of her majesty Queen Lizzie the second, I am to wish her prematurely balding grandson good fortune with his new social climber wife.  But I don't believe all I read, in fact, I feel just a little bit disappointed with myself for delving into the murky depths of tabloid gossip.

So I genuinely wish William and Kate all the best for the future and any pressure they can put on the government or the establishment to relinquish all of this constitutional monarchy nonsense, that would be good too.  Thanks for the day off!  

Monday, 25 April 2011

Northern British

I've struggled for a while to understand devolution, it's purpose, it's eventual aim. In one of my first blogs (I vote for the Romans) I displayed an affinity with a concept of belonging to a bigger geopolitical entity. Whilst I appreciate the need for more local government to represent the mood of the local community by such acts as raising taxes locally and distributing the benefit locally, I also understand the benefits of scale afforded a larger community for such things as diplomacy, military, finance, police, transport etc. I specifically avoided writing "Nation" here, since within our understanding of this word, nation; we confuse such concepts as culture, race, politics, religion and Land.

In my blog (An Ode to Joy) I explored my poor knowledge of devolution in the UK, eventually returning to the theme of a pan European Nation. A pan European nation is only a pipe dream when we don't have a single united nation occupying the British Isles.  Recently I have been more irked when I see the media referring to Scotland or Wales in terms of them being nation states. This becomes even more irritating in any debate over public spending as both of the devolved parliaments seem to have domain over large centrally generated budgets and are spending these budgets in dramatically different ways to the majority contingent of the UK.  For example, Scottish University students (what does this mean?) are not paying tuition fees. How does this work? The British Tax payers pay tax to the British government in Westminster. Westminster diverts a portion of this to pay for public services in Scotland (the Scottish Consolidated Fund). Scotland's devolved parliament manage to allocate some to pay for a few of Britain's university students to go to university. Which university? Scottish universities? What about other British universities or the Rest-of-the-World universities? Why decide to just send Scottish students to Scottish universities?

Surely this raises the question of fairness? at what cost are Holyrood making this investment? What are residents of Northern Britain going without so their young folk can go to a university in Northern Britain paid for by the British State? Southern British don't have this option. But aren't we all British tax payers, although the Scottish (Northern British) devolved parliament were given the power (by the British parliament in Westminster) to raise or lower their tax rate, they have not done so. Therefore, if this is a fair distribution of money raised through taxation then something must have to give in that region that is afforded the benefit. Presumably the per capita costs of local government are the same? I've read some reports that suggest it is lower in Northern Britain and others that say its much higher but I have not found the facts yet.

The Scottish (Northern British) devolved parliament website refers often to the "Scottish People" and the "People of Scotland". Assuming that in the modern era these are the same thing. The tribe of the Scotts didn't reach Northern Britain until c. 600 AD.   So what defines a person as Scottish? Bloodlines? Surnames? Accent? Location of birth? Well no, none of these. 

Two things define you as Scottish on the website of the Scottish Parliament. (1) You reside (pay tax) in the northern parts of our archipelago and (2) You are British Citizen.   So, Scottish = Northern British.

Given this then, could I rent a house in a Northern British city say Glasgow, pay local tax and then be eligible to have my children's university fees paid by the state? £9,000 x2 kids x4 years = £72,000 actually wouldn't I be better investing in a property there?

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Tricksey little ......

That charming fresh faced innocence that we cherish in our children seems to be destroyed by one of two juggernauts as our lives skip along the path towards maturity.  An engulfing cloud of credulity or a tidal wave of cynicism.  "April the first" seems to polarize these sharply contrasting opposites.  One camp sardonic and disbelieving about everything they read whilst another camp mind numbingly gullible.  Me? I worked all morning and missed all the fun, thankfully.  One rather incisive read about the media's failure to instil any confidence in the integrity of journalism and hence utterly failing to trick us on April 1st is here, or is it?  you'll have to click to check.....