Saturday, December 23, 2006


This is an important article - a very well researched PDF of 68 pages of a statistically investigation of what causes economic growth.

To give away the ending the answer is ECONOMIC FREEDOM. Perhaps not startlingly unexpected but proven in great detail.

It was written for the South African government shortly after the end of apartheid & has, for reasons which may be those mentioned on page 10, not been absorbed by them. Since economic growth is far & away the most effective way of improving the total population's lives I would like to think that anybody invol;ved in government would at least make themselves aware of this.


p3 Table of contents

P9 "When published data for all countries has been analyzed the correlation between higher taxes & lower growth (which exists in OECD countries) is not found"

p 10 "During recent years, simple techniques have developed for predicting probable effects of individual measures. It should therefore be easy for all countries to prosper, yet very few do, which suggests that policy makers in most countries:
 Adopt sub-optimal or counter-productive policies unwittingly;
 Do not use readily available techniques to avoid, identify and correct mistakes, or
 Have higher priority anti-growth objectives." (since this report was prepared for the new South African government it seems itself proof of government not making growth a priority - this suggests that what is needed to obtain growth is to put it higher on the political agenda - precisely the intent of the 9% Growth Party & achievable without becoming a majority party)

p12 "There is no evidence that foreign "aid" has the potential to "make poverty history". On the contrary, the evidence suggests that aid may be harmful......The aid paradox is that to be a positive incentive, aid would have to go to countries where it is not needed, that is, where governments adopt policies that
result in high growth." (I would point out that aid recipients are self selecting as failed states statistics shown a correlation between aid & failure may be because more aid is the effect rather than the cause)

p13 "What matters, as far as economic growth is concerned, is not the characteristics
of rich countries, but of high-growth countries." The fact that Ireland & Norway are richer than us doesn't matter. The fact Ireland is growing far faster than us should be a lesson)

p 25 "Everything gets better with growth....
few people realise how much faster countries become much wealthier if they achieve just slightly higher growth rates" (indeed few people understand in their bones how fast compound growth in anything works)

p40 "Most of the world's top 10 richest or highest growth countries never had

p41 "welfare states under-perform on average, which could also be attributable to the fact that welfare statism tends to coincide with other policies which compromise growth, Sweden being the conspicuous exception, where the market has been characterised by regulatory liberalism and privatisation." (I would also hold up Singapore have a cradle to grave welfare system, though one which is cost conscious, & has an obviously high growth rate)

p 43 "The world's experience appears to support the view that economic freedom may be a necessary and sufficient condition for prosperity"

p50 "Firstly, China cannot be thought of as a single economy or even as a single country as far as its economy is concerned. The diversity of economic systems within China, from one province to another, is bigger than the diversity of economic systems internationally. Secondly, almost all its growth (industrialisation, investment, etc) is not only confined to provinces with high scores on the "marketisation index", but to a few special zones. Thirdly, these zones have the freest economies on earth, if not the freest economies the world has ever known."

PP50 & 51 - China's 10% annual growth conceals even greater success. China is not an enormous free economy, it is a range of economies from Guandong province which is nearly as free as Hong Kong (& growing at about 20%) to Quinghai, whicheconomicallyconomicly free market than the world's least free independent country Burma accordinglyordeingly. China is "close to a controlled experiment in social science". An experiment which goes largely unnoticed here. This proves 2 things.

Firstly that 10% growth is not a maximum beyond which other countries cannot aim but merely an AVERAGE. If China has a province the size of European countries (85 million) growing at 20% then a mere 9% is fully achievable here (granted internal movement in China means the population is growing far faster than anybody would for the UK as a whole & this probably considerably helps growth). Applying this to the Scottish example it suggests that we can continue falling behind England & continue to see the decline of Scotland's population if we choose to do nothing. Or we can act.

Secondly that the Chinese "bubble" is not going to burst, indeed because the faster growing provinces are becoming an ever larger proportion of the economy we should expect their 10% growth, which represents the average, to increase.

PP 54 & 55 - Countries with high taxation levels are not automatically going to have lower growth rates than those with high taxation. This comes as a surprise to free marketists & somewhat less so to me, who at one stage was a great supporter of the state capitalism which really did produce high growth in the early days of the USSR. The reason seems to be that if government spends the money as wisely as the free market it will achieve at least as good results. To spend effectively government should (1) build infrastructure especially transport, (2) provide services rather than regulate (ie the NHS rather than smoking police) (3) do things that don't merely duplicate what the market does (don't run the railways) (4) increase efficiency by outsourcing & privatisation. To extend my point about the early USSR I believe that where government is bad is in the long term - because it doesn't have the spur of bankruptcy an efficient government enterprise will, over time, acinefficienciesficiences. I believe that is what happened to NASA & the USSR, both government organisations which once performed spectacularly & over time became mired in tbureaucracieseacracies. By comparison a Scottish executive which insists on spending 70% of its transport budget on outdated railways & prefers windmills to nuclear has managed to omit the first stage of the process.

P58 - Most studies find that less regulated countries out perform more regulated ones (unsurprisng) & that regulations cost the people 20 times more than they cost the government (surprising).

p60 - "The relative size of education budgets does not significantly influence growth"

Monday, December 18, 2006


The Scottish Executive seem to have made up their mind about the need for a new Forth crossing. Up to now all the semi-official word has been about another bridge but the Forth Tunnel Action Group & Roy Pedersen among others have made a very good case that a tunnel would be faster to build, cheaper & lower maintenance. While a bridge will cost about a billion tunnels have been credibly costed at between £500 & £250 million. The latter depending on achieving the same cost standards as Norway has achieved. Over recent years, because of new bortechnologylogy, tunneling has become much cheaper - something the Norwegians have noticed.

This brought me to look up Norway's tunneling record & it is impressive.
There are over 900 road tunnels in Norway. The total length of the tunnels is over 750 km. [1]

The longest road tunnels (>7 km, with opening year and length)
Lardalstunnelen, 2000, 24505 m
Gudvangatunnel, 1991, 11428 m
Folgefonntunnel, 2001, 11150 m
Korgfjelltunnelen, 2005, 8530 m
Almost all of them built between 1982 & 2000. Clearly there would be substantial cost savings doing a lot of tunneling rather than just one project. IndeNorwegianina cost are extremely competitive. This goes into more detail on construction & cost
Construction costs for the tunnels which are now open are shown in Figure 2. All costs are based on year 2000 costs, according to price indexes of the Ministry of Transportation and Communication.
From 1992 to 2000, prices have increased linearly by 37 per cent. This is higher than the official price index. The reason for this is the improvement in tunnel standards, which has not been compensated for in the Ministry's price index.
Costs for planning and field work are not included for all of the tunnels. It is estimated that these costs are somewhere between NOK 2,000 & 4,000 per metre tunnel. This does not apply to the last tunnels which have been completed, where all costs are included in the survey.
The total construction costs vary from NOK 35,000 to 115,000 per metre. The Tromsasund tunnel is expensive because of its double tubes, whilst the Nordkapp tunnel is costly because of the poor rock quality in the tunnel.
The conclusions to be drawn is that subsea tunnels have become cheaper, but that rock conditions are decisive for the final price.
Since there are 11 Kroner to the pound this makes tunneling costs from £3.2 million per kilometer to £10 million. Even with multilane dual carriageway & motorways we are talking about a pretty fair saving.

Useful Tunnels Projects in Scotland

Forth Crossing - I firmly believe the Forth Road Bridge can be reroped for £100 million but with traffic increases an additional tunnel would be worthwhile.

Glasgow Motorway Extention - The present above ground proposal is costed at £500 million apparrently relocting costs & because some of the ground is said to be polluted by chrome. Obviously a tunnel with bypass outlets would be far cheaper & would not cause the pollution problems opponents claim to be motivated by.

Gourock/Dunoon - Much of Argyllshire is remote from the central belt because of long lochs & roads which need to go round them. The road distance between Gourock & Dunokilometerskilometres despite facing each other across the Clyde.

Cowal Penisula/Bute - A few miles south of Dunoon. With 2 tunnels Rothesay would be about 35 miles. A pleasnt commute whereas now it takes virtually a full day including ferry.

Loch Fyne Tunnel - There are several possible crossings leading on from the Dunoon crossing which would put the Kintyre peninsula within about 60 miles of Glasgow.

Arran - Either from Ayrshire (the longer & more expensive tunnel) or from Kintyre which could tie into the roads mentioned above.

Oban Mull - Makes the place accessible to 10s of thousands of Balymory fans.

Kintyre/Jura - Another almost uninhabited island which could become a one hour drive from Glasgow.

Islay/Kintyre or Jura - Direct from Kintyre would be about 15 miles, linking to Jura would be much cheaper. Again this island has a very small population because it is, by current methods, inaccessible. Islay is know as the Queen of the Hebrides because, being the most southerly & well out into the Gulf Stream it used to be the capital of the Lordship of the Isles. When the ancient Scots kingdom & later Viking lordship communicated by sea it was very centrally located but because our transport methods are now road based it is isolated. With an area similar to the Isle of Man & & more temperate weather, because of the Gulf Stream, it could be as prosperous if it were an hour & a half drive from Glasgow.

Orkney/Mainland - This has already been proposed. It would be expensive but Orkney has an oil fund & should be prepared to put up most of the funding.

Ulster/Galloway or Kintyre - About 15 miles from Kintyre, 25 from Galloway. A Kintyre tunnel was seriously looked at last century - the technology has improved since. I assume that Ulster, which would benefit even more than Scotland would put up a proportionate share of the cost.

Isle of Man/Galloway - About 20 miles. Man could reasonably be expected to put up the bulk of the money.

Skye/Lewis - Again about 20 miles.
I don't say that all these will work & there may well be others where a tunnel would be a practical way from one glen to another. I do say that improving transport infrastructure is something where government investment almost always pays off. I can think of nothing which would so revitalise the Island communities. Check the map yourself for ideas.

Paying for it

The Executive have already talked of a Forth Bridge costing a billion & Glasgow motorway £500 million. This entire programme might well cost less. Beyond that the use of a land capture tax, whereby a proportion of the increase in value of land sales on the isles, Cowal or even Fife could be taken as payment. After that some money could be retained by local development corporations. Islay, for example has 3,000 inhabitants over 600 square miles so the land value cannot be high. It wouldn't take the building of many homes there to pay for a tunnel. There could also be a case for giving the development organisation authority comparable to that of the Manx Parliament. Home Rule did them no harm.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


1) High resolution video record a couple dozen people each teaching the same college course (e.g. calculus, freshman physics, freshman chemistry, partial differential equations, etc).

2) Make those video recordings free or very cheap to download on the internet. Sell them as DVDs too.

3) Put automated tests on the web where anyone can test their ability to do, say, calculus, freshman physics, etc).

4) Have testing days where you can go to a room and say what you want to be tested in (e.g. calculus, freshman physics, etc). Proctors in the room prevent cheating. Tests are designed by the appropriate British professional societies. Then pay a fee and sit down at a PC that shows you the test questions (variations thereon generated automatically with different numbers and such) and you write in paper to figure out the answers. Then you enter the answers.

5) At the end of the test they tell you if you passed and with what score and that score goes into a database. You then can say you passed freshman chemistry or organic chemistry or inorganic chemistry or linear algebra.

6) Repeat process until the professional societies say that you have demonstrated your understanding of a bachelor's degree worth of chemistry, physics, math, mechanical engineering, accounting, or other useful topics.

Granted, this does not work so well for topics like Dramatic Arts. But it would save probably tens of thousands of pounds for each person who wants to earn a degree in an objectively measurable topic.

The idea is not original with me however it is apparent that, if this is on the net, it would be possible for anybody able to visit Scotland & able to paythe testing fees to seek such a degree. So long as there is no relaxation, if anything the opposite, in the standards required a degree from Edinburgh, or indeed Islay University would be desirable anywhere.

In many ways this is what the Open University could have been had it been willing to divorce itself a little more from conventional education. It is something we could do now.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


This Rolling Stone article goes into 6 pages on stopping global warming by proactive means. I am not going to reprint the whole thing (I have discussed this before) anyway but here:
Wood hooked up his laptop, threw his first slide onto the screen and got down to business: What if all the conventional thinking about how to deal with global warming was wrong? What if you could do an end run around carbon-trading schemes and international treaties and political gridlock and actually solve the problem? And what if the cost to get started was not trillions of dollars but $100 million a year -- less than the cost of a good-size wind farm?

Wood's proposal was not technologically complex. It's based on the idea, well-proven by atmospheric scientists, that volcano eruptions alter the climate for months by loading the skies with tiny particles that act as mini-reflectors, shading out sunlight and cooling the Earth. Why not apply the same principles to saving the Arctic? Getting the particles into the stratosphere wouldn't be a problem -- you could generate them easily enough by burning sulfur, then dumping the particles out of high-flying 747s, spraying them into the sky with long hoses or even shooting them up there with naval artillery. They'd be invisible to the naked eye, Wood argued, and harmless to the environment. Depending on the number of particles you injected, you could not only stabilize Greenland's polar ice -- you could actually grow it. Results would be quick: If you started spraying particles into the stratosphere tomorrow, you'd see changes in the ice within a few months. And if it worked over the Arctic, it would be simple enough to expand the program to encompass the rest of the planet. In effect, you could create a global thermostat, one that people could dial up or down to suit their needs (or the needs of polar bears).

By comparison the Lewis windfarm, which is not going to solve 1000th part of the alleged warming, is being costed at £500 million. Perhaps Scotland should just cough up the £50 million to save the world & be done with it.

Actually I would be opposed to doing this until we know any non-beneficial warming is actually taking place. For entirely different reasons a number of catastrophe enthusiasts held the same view:
Bill Nordhaus, a Yale economist, worried about political implications: Wasn't this simply a way of enabling more fossil-fuel use, like giving methadone to a heroin addict? If people believe there is a solution to global warming that does not require hard choices, how can we ever make the case that they need to change their lives and cut emissions?
This is also the Nicol Stephen reason for opposing nuclear - that if we solve this "problem" the common people will never again be persuaded to accept all the nonsense regulations & taxes we want to heap on them.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


The energy crisis is far worse and will begin hitting far earlier than the Government believes, a top power industry consultant has claimed.

A report from LogicaCMG states that by 2015 energy demand could outstrip supply by 23% with climate change and demand for electricity to power air-conditioning causing blackouts all year round.

LogicaCMG says its analysis contrasts with the warning in the Government's Energy Review which suggested that by 2025 demand could outstrip supply by 30%.....
This should be taken very seriously. It is is grossly irresponsible for politicians to ignore this & witter on about somebody some day finding a working sort of renewable that might give us enough power or indeed about spending 5 years doing paperwork before we stat building new reactors. People are going to die in large numbers if we have blackouts.

Monday, November 20, 2006


The news that Jack McConnell is willing to stand up to the treasury in support of corporation tax cuts is the best news for the Scottish economy for years. I never thought he had it in him.

This is certainly a great turnaround. For 3 years I tried to get the Scottish Liberal Democrats to at least discuss such a proposal & was eventually expelled, the party Executive having unanimously endorsed a report on me saying that such a proposal was "too right wing" to even think about (the founders of the original Liberal Party who were followers of Adam Smith must be spinning in their graves).

Last year, after the SNP came out for cutting corporations tax, the Scotsman published a letter from me (letter 25/3/5) saying the SNP were now "easily the most economically competent party in Britain"

Ireland's success in going from 2/3rds our standard of living in 1989 to 40% better off is astounding & more noticeable in Scotland than Westminster.

Nonetheless this almost complete reversal of Holyrood political opinion shows how, by trying the job, our politicians are growing from posturing ex-councilors to real leaders.

However to achieve Ireland's growth rate we need not just low corporation tax but also to reduce the regulatory thicket, particularly on house building, as they did.

On top of this news we have another report that Labour's Scottish manifesto will contain a promise that nuclear must be part of the mix.

Labour's glossy final manifesto policy document, agreed by ministers, MSPs and senior activists, is almost mocking. "No political party can be taken seriously on climate change if it refuses out of hand to consider any source of energy generation that is carbon free, such as renewable energy or nuclear."

Nice to see Scottish Labour trying to be taken seriously.

Seriously. Taking this together with McConnell's decision to go for corporation tax reductions if Northern Ireland gets them we are looking at, an at least nominally, sensible Labour party.

Lets not go too far - after all these aren't promises but just offers to look at, they are also made in a pre-election period when cynicism is justified & finally we have the experience of Jack's previous promise just before the last election, that economic growth would his "number one priority" followed by a full term of doing almost nothing. Also we should note that support of corporation tax cuts can mean no more than a token cut & that Labour's national nuclear plans still involve spending about 5 years deciding whether French & American reactors can be licensed as workable & Hunterston & Torness suitable as sites for new reactors despite the obvious fact that they have been doing so for decades. Since Hunterson is due to close in 2011 & it takes 4 years to build a reactor we obviously cannot spend an extra 5 on paperwork.

Nonetheless it is clear that we are seeing an enormous shift in the Scottish "political class" & that there is now, at least if manifestos are to be trusted, a large majority for classic liberal economic growth policies & if those SNP supporters opposed to blackouts say so, also for nuclear power.

If we can match Ireland's growth with cuts in corporation tax & regulations we can exceed it if we also build enough economical reliable nuclear electricity.

The difficulty will be keeping them to more than token acts after the election & of course moving "respectable" political opinion on our other policies.

Friday, November 17, 2006


The news that Jack McConnell is willing to stand up to the treasury over corporation tax cuts is the best news for the Scottish economy for years. I never thought he had it in him. Perhaps his recent visit to Ireland may have opened his eyes.

This is certainly a great turnaround. For 3 years I tried to get the Scottish Liberal Democrats to at least discuss such a proposal & was eventually expelled, the party Executive having unanimously endorsed a report on me saying that such a proposal was "too right wing" to even think about (the founders of the original Liberal Party who were followers of Adam Smith must be spinning in their graves).

Last year, after the SNP came out for cutting corporations tax, the Scotsman published a letter from me (letter 25/3/5) saying the SNP were now "easily the most economically progressive party in Scotland and, while they may not appreciate the honour, in the United Kingdom".

Subsequently new SLD leader Nicol Stephen came out for a fairly token cut in business rates which was duly adopted.

Unfortunately the Tories have entirely failed to enter this debate though to be fair they did call for business rates cuts long before the SLD.

Ireland's success in going from 2/3rds our standard of living in 1989 to 40% better off is astounding & more noticeable in Scotland than Westminster.

Nonetheless this almost complete reversal of Holyrood political opinion shows how, by trying the job, our politicians are growing from posturing ex-councilors to real leaders.

It looks likely that next year's election will produce a Parliament committed to growth, perhaps with a Labour/SNP Executive, the Tories playing catch up & only the SLD & Greens (whose reaction to the business rate cut was to denounce it as showing "to much concern for growth") in opposition.

However to achieve Ireland's growth rate we need not just low corporation tax but also to reduce the regulatory thicket, particularly on house building, as they did.

To surpass Ireland we should allow the building of enough nuclear power stations to fully and cheaply satisfy demand. On this Jack has an advantage in that the Scottish Labour Conference, without being pushed by the leadership, has overwhelmingly supported more nuclear.

I must admit to feeling very very pleased at this. I can't say if my early appearance before this bandwagon started moving helped much but certainly I was there & I would like to think it did.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


The Executive are committed to putting 70% of their transport budget into public transport which effectively means railways. Since road traffic amounts to 43 billion kilometers a year & rail traffic about 1 billion it is obvious that this 70% will be largely wasted, & that it is being done for purely political reasons. If the money was spent proportionately to traffic need there would be no problem widening the M8 & properly linking it to the Edinburgh bypass & that this would be far more use in making transport between the cities easier than the proposed spending of £3 billion on a high speed rail link.

We should put the Executive's transport budget under the control of a committee of qualified engineers rather than politicians, with instructions to hand out contracts on commercial terms & to decide on improvements purely on the basis of cost effective improvements in traffic flow.

Department intends that 70 per cent of its transport budget will be spent on public transport in the nine years to 2010/11 (sect 1.6)

Scottish transport Statistics They only give the number of train journeys at 63 million whereas car journeys are only given, for some reason, as 43 billion kilometers travelled but assuming 16 kilometers ae the average, which is probably high considering most train journeys are to & from work, we get 1 billion kilometers.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


"A power shortage in Germany triggered a cascade of blackouts across Europe, halting trains, trapping people in elevators and plunging millions of homes into darkness. But the situation appeared to be back to normal on most of the continent by Sunday.

The private German company, E.On AG, said the problem began in its network in northwestern Germany, possibly after it disconnected a high-power transmission line to allow a ship to pass safely on the Ems River. But it stressed the cause was still under investigation.

Swathes of Germany and France were badly hit by the cuts late Saturday. Austria, Belgium, Italy and Spain were also affected.

The German power company RWE AG said a shortfall in supplies to the European power grid caused many substations to shut down automatically."

This is a sign that the grid is working at maximum capacity. A whole load of substations all trip out one after the other because each closure sends the next into overload. Any problem of "overdemand" is at least equally one of undersupply & in this case is because Germany isn't building the power supplies it needs because nuclear, the obvious one, isn't politically popular, & windmills don't work. That this is happening so early in the winter, in what is agreed to be a light winter, so far, is very troubling. With Scotland about to lose 35% of our nuclear & 50% including the high emission coal plants when new EU rules come in in 2015, can we be far behind?

And can we expect our politicians to accept that it is purely because of their own gross irresponsibility when it does?

Friday, November 03, 2006


This is a review of the Stern Report in the Wall Street Journal by Bjorn Lomberg, the academic who started as a Green supporter & decided to investigate the case being put by the warming skeptics. On finding that they were correct he had the honesty to say so & got vilified by Gren eco-fascists as a result.

His review proves that on a number of points Stern has lied used figure from reports he likes while, presumably deliberately, missing out further figures from the same report which harm his case.

It can be read on

Since we live in a country where Channel 4 news can specific state that they "are going to report all sides" of the reaction to the Stern Report & then allow not one word from anybody skeptical, I suspect the mainstream media will be protecting you from hearing anything about this.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A CALL FOR YOU TO BECOME ACTIVE IN POLITICS - Preferably 9% GROWTH but whatever party you choose - Democracy doesn't come free - we have to work at it

The penalty that good men pay for not being interested in politics is to be governed by men worse than themselves.

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.
--Mark Twain

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you.
_ Pericles
Other political quotes worth reading. I would be interested in any others.

Monday, October 30, 2006


This recent article in Scotland on Sunday reported how, in their assessments 99.6% of Scottish civil servants found themselves to be either effective or exceptional.

Further down, after pointing out that even within the service this was found embarassing was this
The report comes in the wake of another internal survey which found growing concern within the civil service that it was not performing well. Only 27% of civil servants believed that the Executive makes good use of public money.

The survey found that only half believed any checks were made before money was spent. Only 28% of staff said they believed there was a culture of sound financial management.

Previously the 9% Growth Party has said that we could achieve major efficieny improvements merely by modern management, not hiring into Ministries which have not achieved a 2% shrinkage annually & freezing spending. Almost any private industry expects to achieve productivity increases of 2% a year.

This news of a major lack of financial control suggests that there is even more room for improvement than previously thought.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Last week Scotland on Sunday did an article about independence possibly being inevitable. Written more in terms of relaxing to the inevitable than pleasure:
Such a scenario is currently being painted by former SNP MSP Mike Russell who, along with businessman Dennis MacLeod, has written 'Grasping the Thistle', a 250-page prospectus charting a new way forward for the independence movement. The pair contend that the gradualist approach is the only possible route. "What we may need," they argue, "is devolution stage two, a necessary staging post on the way to the future. Some might call such a staging post a New Union - a constitutional watering station which allows Scots to continue to move forward, works as a means of persuading those who are still reluctant and opens up new opportunities by removing the economic disadvantages of the old Union."

All matters reserved to Westminster would be devolved to Holyrood, apart from foreign affairs and military command, they suggest. By doing so, the Scots - and the English - would have a chance to test the waters before deciding whether to make the break.

I put up a comment
The status quo is not an option if only because the English correctly feel that Scots voters have more power than English ones.

A fully federal system whereby England had its own Parliament, or better yet several regional ones would be best. Federation allows each unit to try different solutions to similar problems & find which works best (this is known as the scientific method). In that case unsuccessful solutions can be as useful a learning experience as successful ones. Despite the complacent Labour view that our economy is somehow doing well, we have been very successful at providing 'orrible warnings.

The SNP also believe in federalism it is just that their federation would be led from Brussels & Scotland would be an even smaller & more powerless part of it.

Which is pretty much my position. I do not exclude independence from England if it is clearly to our advantage or we are forced into it by English Tory intransigence (many southern Tories are licking their lips at the thought of a UK without Scots Labour voters), but believe we have so very much more in common with England & Wales than the EU states that a Federation of Great Britain is the preferable solution. I do not see the point of a Scotland as a "separate" part of the EU.

Yesterday I got an email from Scotland on Sunday saying they were producing a follow up article tomorrow using some email comment & that mine were "among those that stood out". I'll look forward to it.

This is the letter on the letters page rather than part of an article. It is under a photo of a slatire & a headline calling for independence despite the letter not doing that.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Whether one approves of EU membership or not this statement from an EU official should get wider reporting
He said new evaluation methodology of the administrative costs of EU legislation - including "gold plating" of laws by some member states - put the annual burden for business at up to €600bn ($756bn, £405bn) compared with the original estimate of €320bn. That figure does not include the compliance costs of the laws.

Proportionately this should be about £50 billion for the UK (or £800 per person) plus the money we pay for membership.

For some reason Westminster has always disagreed with estimates of the cost of EU membership but declined to produce an official figure. This is a situation where Holyrood would be able to produce an official estimate of costs for Scotland.

Monday, October 02, 2006


These are 30 aspirations (an electoral codeword for promises that you won't be held to) for Scotland.

They definitely do not take priority over cutting business taxes & more direct methods of growing the econmy. They are more like the icing on the cake of economic success. Nonetheless since some cost nothing, the vast majority are relatively cheap, by the standards of Holyrood, & all but the 30th (which is really the seed for an internationaly funded venture, albeit started here) could together be achieved for the same cost as the LDs proposed £3 billion Glasgow-Edinburgh bullet train they are definitely practical as well as visionary.

Some of these are also variants on policies mentioned elsewhere & indeed #2 is a zero cost pedestrian alternative to part of #21.

Zero or negative cost

1) Instead of paying for the Red Road flats to be demolished give them to their occupants, on condition they sign up to a good factoring agreement. Any unoccupied flats or where the occupants choose to be rehoused rather the ownership to be offered free to neighbours or sold at auction. These flats used to be Europe's highest & are still impressive. It would be interesting to see if private owners & private enterprise can run them morsuccessfullyly than the Council or GHA. Require the samofferer to be made for any other blocks of flats which GHA wish to demolish.

2) Paint a big orange line along the pavement between Glasgow Central & Queen St stations with the distance in metres written so that strangers know the way.

3) Immediately allow First the right to run a hovercraft across the Forth to Edinburgh - skip planning controls,
environmental impact statements, inspections, long lunches discussing it etc etc. 16

Under £100,000 (administrationion costs only)

4) Run a public competition for proposals to showcase technology projects costing under £1 million.

5) Invite tenders for the building of an arcology (a town enclosed as a single building) of 10,000 homes somewhere in the Highlands or Borders with a low population. Such an arcology not to be subject to any planning permission but must carry long term building insurance.

6) Pass a motion in Holyrood stating that we have a national goal that Scots should be at the cutting edge of scientific achievement & Scotland should, proportionately to our size, contribute to space development at least as much as any nation even Singapore.

Under £1 million

7) Add a glass bridge between the 2 towers of Kelvingrove Museum. This was actually proposed but turned down on the grounds that it was not in keeping with the Victorian architecture of the building. I personally think that maintaining Victorian traditions, in architecture or otherwise, is part of our problem. I also
think walking such a semi-invisible bridge would be an experience well worth having.

If, since the revamp of Kelvin Gallery is already complete,this cannot be done there may be other projects which could similarly be made memorable.

8) Put online video cameras on the top 100 sites of scenic or historic interest in Scotland.

9) Organise & put up prize money for an annual Road from The Isles hovercraft race - starting from Portree in Skye & going by sea to Blackwater reservoir, Loch Rannoch, Loch Tummell to end at Pitlochry. I personally think such a race, apart from encouraging individual engineering & Highland tourism has the potential to be
more exciting than Grand prix racing.

£1 million to £5 million

10) Establish an International Space Law Institute with regular conferences. The objective being to work out rules which will enable private enterprise to work in outer space.

11) Build a copy of the Skylon in George Square (The Skylon was a 300 ft needle held in place by suspension wires built for the Festival of Britain & demolished in an act of political malice & vandalism by the incoming Tory government - it is perhaps the only truly "iconic" building which has been demolished - it should be possible to replace it in even more modern materials held up by carbon nanotubes for a
relatively small cost.

12) Replace the TV tower at Livinston with a taller tower up to 3,000ft above sea level with a a lift going up to reinforced glass platform, or platforms from which you would be able to see most of Scotland up to the Highlands. Put a major visitors centre at the base with interactive exhibits & around a map of Scotland in the floor illustrated by photos taken from the platform.

13) Place a lasar in central Edinburgh & another in Glasgow & 1 hour after sunset to 1 hour before dawn have their beams cross about 5 miles up midway between purely for the fun of it. (This will require health & Safety approval).

14) Build a Buckydome cover to McCaig's folly in Oban, make it watertight & add floors, provide a moving staircase to it & turn it into a visitors centre for the history of the lordship of the Isles, with a view of the islands from the dome. For this to be able to achieve the necessary popularity it necessary to have already automated the rail line.

15) Roof over the pedestrian area of Glasgow. Sauchiehall ST, Buchanan St, Gordon St, Argyll st possibly also providing walkways at first floor level. Thus giving the whole area many of the benefits of mall shopping without destroying the traditional appearance.

16) Establish an equivalent to the Nobel prizes in subjects not covered by the Nobels because they didn't exist back then. eg Computer programming, space engineering, nanotechnology, genetic design

17) Provide legal aid to individual inventors to register patents worldwide(repayable if the patent proves sufficiently profitable).

£5 million to £20 million

18) Give a £20 million X-Prize for the first Scots probe soft landing on an asteroid.

19) Build an automated monorail from Glasgow Airport to Paisley Gilnmour St station thus providing speedy access to both Glasgow Central & Prestwick Airport. An offer to quote for this at about £20 million has already been made by Ultra but the Scottish Executive have decided that they would rather have a conventional rail link direct to Central at +£200 million. The reason given being that since their option
would avoid transferring from one system to another it is worth the extra money.

20) Fully automate Glasgow's Underground. Docklands Light Rail is able to work without drivers & running such a system is very easily within the capacity of modern computer systems. Such systems are even being considered for running road traffic which involves many orders of magnitude more decisions. A fully automated system would be able would allow many more carriages to run & 24 hour running because not limited by driver availability. It would thus also have considerably higher carrying capacity & lower running costs.

21) Build a Glasgow monorail. Minimum from Central to Queen St, maximum - from Buchanan St opposite Queen St on up to Sauchiehall St out to the west end, Byres Rd & either Partick station, or along Gt Western Rd to Anniesland or to Maryhill shopping centre.

Up to £100 million

22) Make a 5 hour DVD of Scotland's history. Hire somebody, not part of Scotland's small media, probably from Discovery Channel, to put it together, print up 200 million (at 10p a shot), give it out in Scots newagents & post 1 to every household in Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealnd & the USA. Produce a permanent online
library of Scots history articles & accessible acceesible free & with links provided on the DVD.

23) Automate the Glasgow-Edinburgh train on the lines previously discussed with the Glasgow Underground. While the computerisation should still be fairly cheap, in some ways cheaper because rolling stock which cannot be updated could still be transferred to other lines, an impractical operation on the Underground. However if the trains are to be run on the basis of single carriages roughly once a minute some redesigning of platforms would be required. This would not be as fast as a bullet train but, because carriages would leave every minute rather than every 15 it would save an average of 7 minutes. Unlike the Bullet Train it would still be able to stop at Falkirk & Haymarket from which half of current journeys either start or end(alternately only some carriages need do so allowing through carriages to cut times further). It could also be easily linked to Turnhouse Airport by a connecting line. In practice, a much cheaper 24 hour automated system should carry many more people between Glasgow & Edinburgh than a bullet train.

24) Build an automated overhead monorail from the far side of the Forth Rail Bridge to Prince's St in Edinburgh. Use the fact that the rail bridge was, because of the Tay Bridge disaster, a heavily overengineered structure & should be easily able to bear the load of a monorail above the rail tracks. An overhead monorail into Edinburgh would not be subject to traffic jams as trolleys are & have the same cost savings as other automated rail.

25) Provide an automated walkway from Turnhouse airport to stations on both adjoining lines or, if the Glasgow/Edinburgh link is built build a loop to the main terminal.

£100 million to £1 billion

26) Widen the M8 & connect it as motorway to the Edinburgh bypass.

27) Build a deep ocean thermal differential power generator & use it to build a permanent sea base owned by Scotland. (See

28) Provide bursaries of £10,000 per person & £30,000 per school for the top thousand Higher results in maths & hard sciences. (£40 million a year, £400 in 10 years)

Over £1 billion

29) Automate all of Scotland's train services. This can be done over a period of years. Scotland has a relatively limited rail track & this is something in which we could easily become a world leader. A particular line for upgrading would be the West Highland Line from Glasgow low level to Loch Lomond, Oban & ultimately Fort William. This line has only very few trains per day & thus id relatively simple to automate. If run by an automated system it would be possible to run carriages regularly all 24 hours a day making the Highlands fully accessible from the Central Belt & vice versa. Another advantage of an automated system is that it would make movement of containers in single units practical making them fully competitive with roads.

30) Establish an X-Prize commission giving the full Moon and solar power satelite prizes proposed by (Friday post) but only applicable to fully Scots programmes. Offer to make this an international prize compatible with any other country or federative state (eg individual US states) willing to join the fund & contribute proportionately to their GNP. Initially this can be funded by devoting any increase in the Scots Lottery profits plus £49 million (equivalent of our ESA contribution plus any private donations matched by an equal government contribution.

In fact since awarding X-Prizes, or ony other sort, doesn't cost anything unless somebody wins them & it is improbable that the entire world space effort could be organised from Scotland it is highly unlikely that anybody would immediately win a prize for a Moon landing from Scotland. The real effect of this would be to encourage other nations to also join in in this scheme making the x-Prize organisation & the new space race a truly international enterprise albeit growing from a seed planted by Scots.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


The Scotsman have published the first paragraph of a letter from me today on an ongoing discussion of the proposal to spend £600 million on a rail link to Turnhouse airport:

The SNP's objection does not appear to be to a rail link to Turnhouse airport in principle (letters 26th sept) but to the Executive's desire to spend £600 million on a tunnel under the runway when it would be perfectly possible to build a station on the main line to Glasgow (possibly the Aberdeen line as well) connected to the airport by a moving walkway for probably only a few hundred thousand pounds.
Unfortunately they decided not to publish the remaining parts or to name my new persona, which is a little surprising since they have regularly mentioned Ian Brodie's Scottish Enterprise Party which is not noticeably larger. My addition has been put on the comments section. A slightly different version of the full letter was yesterday sent out some other Scottish papers.

Recently the executive decided to spend £200+million on a rail link to Glasgow airport despite having a proposal to build a a monorail to Paisley Gilmour St for £20 million (there being trains from Paisley to Glasgow & indeed Prestwick every few minutes). I happen to know this because, as, at the time, a member of the Liberal Democrats I was invited to find some company interested in quoting for a monorail (or arguably brushed off with that suggestion) & when I did so was informed they didn't really mean it & such a proposal would have to come from the party leadership. Such a monorail would also have improved access between Glasgow & Prestwick airports allowing them to act somewhat as a hub.

Equally on several occasions your columns have featured proposals from Roy Pedersen & others to build a tunnel under the Forth at between a half & a quarter of the £1 billion expected for a bridge. This has also been rejected by the Executive for no clearly defined reason.

Like Adam Smith I am in favour of government being willing to invest in our infrastructure but it should be done on sensible terms not always going for the ridiculously expensive option.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Here is a quote from Newsweek magazine:

“There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production– with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth.”

A headline in the New York Times reads: “Climate Changes Endanger World’s Food Output.” Here is a quote from Time Magazine:

“As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval.”

All of this sounds very ominous. That is, until you realize that the three quotes I just read were from articles in 1975 editions of Newsweek Magazine and The New York Times, and Time Magazine in 1974.,23657,944914,00.html

They weren’t referring to global warming; they were warning of a coming ice age.

This is part of a very thorough & intelligent speech by Senator Inhofe of the US on the whole global warming fanfare. It is long & detailed but worth reading. It is impossible to imagine any of the persons in Holyrood making the equivalent.

In dissecting the case he shows exactly how the media & "environmentalist" politicians have lied, over years, to frighten us with the fear that we are all doomed by global warming so that we will let them have more power over us. Anyone watching the papers or TV can now see how the phrase "global warming" is being thoroughly revised into "climate change" thus leaving the way open to another round of scares about global cooling.

I accuse the BBC, who have a legal duty to impartiality, of having been in the lead in pushing the eco-fascist warming scare & denying any coverage to those who express doubts.*

*There goes the chance of the 9% Growth Party getting anything remotely like the coverage the Greens get from the "impartial" BBC - but losing zero chance isn't much loss.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


With a recent Horizon episode (13th July) on the pointed failure of radiation released at Chernobyl to produce a 10s of thousands of deaths predicted & indeed the possible benefit of low & intermediate level radiation (an effect known as hormesis) perhaps your readers would be interested in an even more clear cut case.

In 1983 a group of 180 apartment buildings was completed in Taiwan. Somebody had made a serious mistake. They had mixed into the concrete a considerable amount of highly radioactive cobalt 60. This meant that ultimately 10,000 people lived in buildings for from 9 to 20 years so radioactive that they received an average of 74 mSv of radiation per year in 1983, declining thereafter as cobalt 60 has a half life of 5 ½ years. This compares with a rate of 0.5 mSv above background which is the normal maximum exposure for radiation workers & total of 15 mSv maximum safe limit for land fit for habitation according to US government standards. According to the linear no threshold (LNT) theory currently in use world-wide for assessing nuclear risks there is no lower limit to the level at which radioactivity kills (hence the term "no threshold") & this, inhabited for a decade & a half before the radioactivity was traced & measured, should be the site of a truly massive cancer death rate. It isn't.

A thorough & methodical tracing of all the 4,000 families by a team led by W. L Chen of Taiwan's Director of Medical Radiation Technology of Taiwan's National Yang-Ming University (the full report is available in English on ) has resulted in an unequivocal & spectacular result. Cancer rates in that highly radioactive building are down to 3.6% of prevailing Taiwanese rates.

For many years there has been an unfashionable alternative to the LNT theory called hormesis. This is an effect, long observed in plants & cultures, whereby intermediate level radioactivity actually stimulates life & improves health. < There has been significant evidence for this (the deaths at Hiroshima did not appear to fit the LNT pattern, there are places in India & Iran with background radiation of 15mSv or higher with no observed increase in cancer & numerous studies of radon in homes have found a reverse correlation between radon levels & cancer - deleted >. Nonetheless, such has been our fear of all things nuclear that the LNT theory has been absolutely accepted despite the fact that there has NEVER been any actual evidence for it. This study, however, is so detailed, has such well-defined boundary conditions & in proving a reduction in cancers of 96.4% has such a clear result that there can no longer be any intellectual doubt whatsoever. Radioactivity, up to 50mSv, is good for us.
Yours Sincerely
Neil Craig

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


2011, IN THE NEXT 12





Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Let no politician from any other party tell you that just because they have only been able to grow Scotland at 1.5%, 9% is not an entirely possible goal. Ireland managed an average of 7% over many years & a peak of 10.5%, China has averaged 10, Russia & the Baltic states have averaged 8% & world average growth is now calculated at 5% annually. We can get as far above the world average as we have been below it.

If we do not improve our economic performance the people of Scotland will be poorer than the average Chinese in 25 years time which would be a dreadful legacy to leave to the next generation.

Ireland & most of the others did this by cutting Corporation Tax to 12.5% & cutting regulations. We would do so also & expect, with Scotland's more entrepreneurial tradition, higher educational standards & scientific & technology base, together with the guarantee of unlimited inexpensive nuclear electricity, to do even better. While ultimate authority for corporation tax lies with Westminster Scotland could negotiate a cut so long as we were willing to fund it.- alternately Holyrood has the authority to provide rebates directly to businesses equal to a proportion of their tax. An increased Gross National Product, by definition, provides the best overall income to everybody.. To often politicians are beholden to special interest groups, of left, right or more often of government jobsworths all of whom may see getting a larger slice of the national cake for themselves as better than increasing it for everybody.

This gives a detailed run down of the causes of Ireland's success.

WE CAN MATCH & EXCEED IRELAND'S SUCCESS - THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FOR SCOTLAND'S FUTURE & ONLY THE 9% GROWTH PARTY IS WILLING TO GO TREAT IT AS SERIOUSLY AS IT DESERVES (though to be fair the SNP have made some stab at trying for 4% & the Labour party said at the last election that growth would be their "first priority" but have done nothing since)


Scotland is facing the loss of 50% of current electricity generation beginning with Hunterston in 2011. If we do nothing by then we will face massive winter blackouts & deaths.

24,000 British pensioners already die annually because of fuel poverty. We can & should build reactors like those of France which provide 85% of that nation's power at 1.5p a unit (& allow them to make major exports - 5% of UK electricity is French nuclear). Even Labour who are, belatedly, coming round to nuclear, intend to spend 5 years licensing French or Canadian reactor types & checking to see if Hunterston can be used as a a site before even starting to build - this is ridiculous when we face blackouts in 2011.


A century ago a house & car cost about the same. Cars have since improved far more than houses because housebuilding has been so firmly regulated. We would introduce a Housing Act removing most restrictions on housebuilding, except in national parks & conservation areas. We would also use a limited programme of guaranteed purchase to encourage the introduction of mass production off-site processes to industry (nearly a century after Henry Ford applied them to cars).


A recent House of Lords report confirmed that the smoking ban was not scientifically justified on health grounds.. The initial US figures which set off the whole passive smoking debate/rant said the passive smoking killed 3,000 Americans annually. For reasons given in the speech below even this is a figure which can't be considered proven, but even accepting it for the sake of argument on a population basis that is equivalent to a Scottish death rate of 50 annually. The current First Minister promised that his ban would save 1,000 lives in Scotland annually - this is a statement which obviously cannot be justified as even slightly truthful on factual ground & if elected I promise to say so, in Parliamentary language naturally.


An X-Prize is a prize awarded for some scientific or technical achievement. The recent $10 million dollar prize for the first private enterprise spaceship was done on this basis & another exists for the first orbital flight. We should set up an X-Prize Foundation for Scotland funded primarily from Scotland's share of the National Lottery money plus any private donations all matched £ for £ with government money. Such prizes have a very good record throughout history of stimulating inovation. They also have the considerable advantage over most government activity of not costing anything if they don't achieve results. Hopefully this could be expanded to cover all of Britain in time


Docklands Light Rail runs fully automatically, Currently apparently serious consideration is being given to establishing a bullet train between Glasgow & Edinburgh despite it being costed at £3 billion. The current line could be automated for a small fraction of that cost, since it would involve only electronic controls with very little rebuilding. It would provide a system almost as fast, since wating time would be eliminated, far cheaper to run, more flexible & useable 24 hours a day.


Any politician who says that you can get everything without some cost is selling you a line. I promise to treat the electors like adults. Currently 54% of Scotland's GNP is government spending. No independent free enterprise economy has or can sustain such a rate. Scotland also spends 25% more per person on services & gets, on balance, worse service for it. We will support modern efficient management without idealogical strings. We will freeze all current ministerial budgets & put a limit on hiring new civil servants in any department which has not achieved 2% manpower cuts annually (this is less than the normal retirement rate & sp can be done without redundancies). We would also look at each ministry for areas where costs do not match achievements or indeed, as often happens, conflict with other government spending & cut ruthlessly.

For example Scottish Enterprise spends £500 million annually. If we accept that politicians spending our money are less adept at picking business winners than experienced investors spending their own then obviously the Scottish Enterprise money could be much better motivated by spending SE's money on business tax cuts. We accept that there are cases where politicians have a strategic overview that allows them to choose options not, in practice, open to normal investors but the fact that so much of SE's money is being wasted on such things as making "Scotland a world leader in windfarms" show that there decisions have been made entirely on political rather than economic interests. This is a complete waste of money.

There is no serious doubt that industry would benefit more from having its taxes cut by that much. We would continue this process even after growth has been achieved & would therefore, in due course, but only when financially prudent, make the 3p "tartan tax" income tax cut available.


The GHA have decided that high rise housing is no longer politically correct. Rather than knocking down some of the highest blocks of flats in Europe we wouild encourage GHA to offer them FREE to their occupants, subject to a strong agreement with professional factors. Experience worldwide ()& in the Glasgow Harbour development) shows that high rise living can be very attractive when well managed. Since it doesn't involve the expense of demolition or of rehousing many occupants this would actually save money as well as allowing people to keep their homes.


EU membership costs Britain £40 billion a year in direct payments & regulatory costs. The EU is also the slowest growing area of the world, worse than Africa. We would seek only associate status like Norway or even, if invited, join NAFTA.

We absolutely oppose the illegal wars which politicians so often see as "making their place in history". We support the rule of International Law & oppose our illegal wars. Both because the destruction of International Law makes the world a much more dangerous place & because it costs us far more than any benefit. For the cost of taking & holding Kosovo (about $50 billion) we could have had the Moon, Earth orbital industry & solar-power satellites, for the cost of Iraq ($500 billion) we could have had the entire solar system & probes to nearby stars for humanity.

Immigration cannot continue at current rates without damaging Britain's present culture. The suggestion that Scotland needs immigrants to replace people we are losing is rubbish - we lose many of our best people to migration because we have a badly run economy & have a low rate of childbearing because regulation prevents the building of inexpensive family homes - these are both the fault of bad government & will not be permanently masked by immigration. It is worth noting that both Japan & Korea have a 0.00% immigration rate & while this is so low as to discourage cultural innovation we could certainly improve the situation massively.

There is no evidence that global warming on a catastrophic scale is taking place. During the late Roman period grapes grew in York. During the medieval warming period there were dairy farm in Greenland. Both were warmer than now & were prosperous times. In the words of the writer H.L. Mencken "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary". Global warming, & the previous scare by "environmentalists" that we were heading for a new ice age if we didn't dismantle our economy are hobgoblins put about by politicians who want to control you.

The 9% growth party is not about controlling people, it is about letting us (both Scots & the entire human race) achieve our potential.


Undernoted are a series of policy motions & speeches I created while a member of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Last December the Party Executive voted that I should be expelled on the grounds that these ideas, some of which I had mentioned in letters to newspapers, were "illiberal". After a vigorous defence in which I was able to show that they were all in the mainstream of classic liberal opinion this initial charge was withdrawn & I was, instead, expelled on a charge of openly objecting to being expelled!


Creating a favourable environment for business & recapturing Scotland's spirit of enterprise & innovation were central aims in the Party's 2003 Election Manifesto.

Conference notes:

1 the importance of creating an environment favourable to business in Scotland.

2 the key long term role that sustainable economic growth must play in ending poverty.

Conference therefore calls on the Scottish Executive to

(i) set up a Parliamentary Committee charged with actively reducing the burden of legislation on business, particularly small businesses

(ii) provide special assistance to individuals & small businesses seeking to register international patents & copyright

(iii) ease building & zoning regulations outside conservation areas

(iv) make a substantial reduction to corporation tax in Scotland

(v) target skills training on areas of high unemployment

(vi) benchmarking growth in Scotland against growth in the UK as a whole & in other OECD countries

(vii) undertaking not to increase the real tax take on business by more than 1% per annum until growth has exceeded the average of the UK & OECD

Scotland's economy is in serious trouble. We are consistently growing at at least 1% less than the UK as a whole. Currently we are marginally poorer than Spain which makes us the 2nd poorest western European country after Portugal & if either we discount the receipts & multiplier effect from the Barnet formula or wait a few years we will be the poorest. On the other hand Ireland which was in a not much better position in 1989 is now per capita the world's 4th wealthiest sizeable country.

What happened is that in 1989 they started liberalizing the economy - reducing business tax substantially & cutting regulation. This has received an undeservedly slight amount of coverage in our media & is often claimed to be put down to Ireland's independence (1921) or joining the EEC (1974) or having citizens abroad sending back money (19th Century). Since their spectacular growth of up to 9% per annum was first measured in 1991 I think the cause is fairly obvious. Note that this achievement has not been made by 5 year plans or starving the peasantry to buy machine tools or building nuclear power stations or any major sacrifice (although the politically correct brigade are now sacrificing their pubs).

This motion was designed to gently start things here going in the same direction.

(i) is designed to put cutting red tape on every MSP's agenda. I am not one of those who believe MSPs are lazy or in it for themselves - it might be better if they were not so hard working. Those who enter Holyrood want to achieve things & the traditional way of doing so is to pass a law or regulation. Unfortunately all such have side effects & when taken together can produce an impenetrable hedge of regulation. Setting up a commission to cut regulation is handing the MSPs pruning shears & giving them a job to do.

(ii) Small companies are far more innovative than large ones - this has been proven time & again. On the other hand they don't have as large legal depts. By taking on the legal burden of securing patents worldwide we could encourage innovative small businesses here & in the long term it would be repaid manyfold.

(iii) See the building motion for arguments.

(iv) Corporation tax is actually a reserved matter but I have no doubt that if we went to Westminster & offered to pay Scotland's share of this out of our current grant (& the Treasury experts were to assure Gordon Brown that this would have a net positive effect on our & therefore 8% of the UK economy) he would accept. Assuming that our corporation tax is, like our income tax, 7% of the UK's a 50% cut would cost a bit over 1 billion. This would cause some pain but without it the programme is just waffle. This is the only part that costs serious money, cutting regulations actually saves it.

(v) Obvious

(vi) Basically Jim would have to stand up in Parliament & accept plaudits or brickbats on how we are matching our targets. Concentrates the mind wonderfully.

(vii) This is a self denying ordinance not to kill the goose after it starts laying. Currently an undertaking not to increase industry taxes by more than 1% costs us nothing. With the economy growing at roughly that rate, we can't anyway. While such a party promise cannot be legally enforced parties do not like to be seen to openly lying. This would help to create an air of business confidence in our long term future & a justified confidence if it was kept.


Conference calls on the Scottish Parliament to offer a prize of 20 million pounds to the first Scottish group to soft land a vehicle on an asteroid by 2050

This is the wording of yet another motion I had put to conference, in 1992. The fact that it was rejected for debate with considerable amusement did not particularly surprise of distress me.

Though I had proposed it in a slightly tongue in cheek attention grabber it is a quite seriously useful proposal. The prize is 3 times that put up as the X-Prize for the first commercial space trip, of which nobody had heard then, but which has since produced Burt Rutan's successful Spaceship one.

The total cost of this would be a maximum of 20 million over 48 years.

The advantages, as I saw it, would have been
1) It would be valuable publicity - this is the sort of thing the media lap up though perhaps not totally seriously (the subsequent popular reaction to Beagle 2, even tho' it failed strongly suggests to me that it would have been popular)

2) It would have encouraged the satellite manufacturing industry ($1 billion a year & growing 20%) to locate in Scotland which is exactly the sort of hi-tech we need.

3) The next generation of space development (after we have got cheap launching) will involve the sort of technology that a small remotely handled probe going to the asteroid belt would make a test bed for.

4) Anything that could give us a claim to a hunk of millions of tons of heavy metals including several % gold & platinum would be likely to be cost effective.

5) If it doesn't succeed it wouldn't cost anything - somewhat unlike every other government programme.

6) I think space development is the most important human activity since, at least, the age of Columbus & I would like my country (Scot or UK) to be part of it. In 100 years time nobody will know what a Black Watch does but they may know who first landed on an asteroid.

7) If it was proposed & was not legislated into existence on the grounds the "space travel is utter bilge" the party (or individual heh heh) would later be able to say I told you so.

On a larger scale something similar would work for the UK.


1) Replace the Town & Country Planning Act 1947 effectively denationalising the right to develop land. Retain controls only in National Parks, Green Belts & Conservation Areas.

2) Produce a national scheme of building type approval rather than the current site by site approval which causes immense duplication of effort & prevents the mass production methods used successfully in other industries.

3) Benchmark a target of 30,000 new build homes per annum as the only way to stop house price inflation.

4) Make land hoarding uneconomic, introduce a Land Valuation Tax on empty land & property within 1/2 miles of a built up area. Such taxation not to apply to National Parks, Green Belts & Conservation Areas. To keep this revenue neutral business rates to be reduced by an equal amount.

5) Provide an interest free bridging loan of 20,000 pounds to any off site manufactured home for the period from completion of manufacture until installation & a grant of 5,000 pounds to direct purchasers of such homes, so long as they are for their personal use as first homes. This system to last only until the benchmark figure has been reached.

Much of this is taken from Why is Construction So Backward by Woodhuysen et al

The intent of the motion was to make more houses available more cheaply to everybody. Some years ago a US report said that at least 40% of housing costs were regulatory. My long term bet for the UK now would be 75%. The order & reasons for & against as the clauses were voted down were:

1) To allow people to build pretty much as they want. There are Highland towns which are being killed because young people cannot afford houses because unbuilt plots cost 40,000 each (320,000 an acre) while farmland on the other side of a fence costs 1,200 an acre - the objection was that there was no way conference would support this, which I recognise as true & was willing to cut

5) This is to kickstart the industry. Most builders have relatively little capital but any bank shown a guarantee to purchase like this would be much more willing to lend, the flat rate of loan/grant particularly helps low cost housing - the objection was that we should not interfere with the free market to help a rising industry

4) Self explanatory - the objections were that we should scrap doing this & come back with a general land tax later & that it is improper to make anything revenue neutral when taxes can be increased

3)Self explanatory - the objection was that there are other ways of damming up demand for example raising taxes

2) By producing a national approval scheme builders of prefabricated properties would be able to mass produce knowing that purchasers were automatically able use their house without piddling changes - the objection was that we have to much mass production, housing has been getting worse since the building of canals allowed the mass production & transportation of bricks, creating central planning restriction in addition to rather than instead of local would be ok


If you would like to help this movement or just to receive future communications please email
write to 9% Growth, 200 Woodlands Rd., Glasgow G3 6LN
phone 0141 353 3975

Neil Craig

FREE TRADE - Confernence Speech Oct 2005

I will support anything in the above relating to Western protectionism & the need to help the 3rd world. It is immoral that the average European cow receives a subsidy of £900 whereas the average Sierra Leonese lives on £300 a year.

However, sections 1 & 2 of the motion call for protectionism, particularly of "domestic food production". This is not a new idea. Britain used to do this until, with the rise of the urban working class & the Liberal Party, they were able to force the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1842. Since then Liberalism & free trade have been synonymous to everybody's benefit. Fairly free trade has worked for South Korea, Singapore & the US. Protectionism failed North Korea, Burma & Ethiopia. India, China & New Zealand all used to practice protectionism & had low growth. All have now moved to fairly free trade & have high growth.

To tell the people of the 3rd world that they will develop by protectionism is a cruel deception which runs counter to all historical experience.

Section 3 call for the creation of an OPEC style cartel for ALL other commodities specifically for the purpose of "raising prices" & "ending (over)-supply". What this means, on the ground, is that somebody somewhere is going to be physically prevented from making a living.

In the case of coffee, the primary target of the self-styled "fair trade" movement, this will be Vietnam. This country, which our ally bombed, if not "into the Stone Age" as they promised, certainly into generations of poverty, is now developing by, among other things, competing successfully in the international coffee market.

But if "over-supply" is to be prevented how will our cartel enforce renewed poverty on the people of Vietnam? By the use of Agent Orange perhaps for that is where this proposal leads.

The good intentions of the proposers are not in doubt but good intentions are not enough. We are talking about the lives of billions of people & we have to get it right. This motion does not do so & I ask you to reject it.
Free Trade is the basic principle on which the old Liberal party was founded AND IT WORKS. The party have turned their back on 2 centuries of liberalism & all common sense in adopting a motion that holds North Korea & Burma as more successful economies than South Korea & Hong Kong.

INDUSTRIAL POLITICAL CORRECTNESS OFFICERS - Speech against what became SLD policy - Oct conference 2005

Section 1 here is absolutely correct - Scots have a history of creating & developing businesses worldwide & WE desperately need to let them do the same here.

Unfortunately there is NOTHING in this motion which does that.

In the Allander Report on growing the Scottish economy one complaint was the propensity of politicians to make all the right noises about growth & then go do whatever they wanted in the first place.

That is what this motion does.

In a similar way Jack McConnell has said that growth is his "first priority" but, apart from being the man who raised business rates in the first place, has done nothing. However the fact that he said it proves HE knows growth is the first priority of voters. If we are ever to EARN a position as Scotland's largest party it will be because WE have provably made economic growth our true first priority.

Instead this motion would load wealth creators down with an entire new class of inspectors, committed not to any measurable standards but merely to general political correctness, rigidly enforceable on anybody who has to do business with the 54% of the economy that is the state. If this motion had been made truly voluntary I would have had no problem with it but a compulsory enforcement of government political correctness inspectors is a bad thing.

Scotland has had the lowest growth rate in Europe, itself the slowest growing continent on Earth.

That is why WE have recently cut business taxes & Nicol Stephen said, at Federal Conference, that we need further cuts to kickstart growth as Ireland has so spectacularly done.

I believe that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with Scotland which would make it impossible for us to match, or exceed, Ireland -

Their growth of 7% a year over 15 years has nearly tripled their GNP while ours has gone up barely 20%.

Ireland achieved this, not just by cutting business taxes, but also by cutting regulation.

This motion, obviously, does the opposite.

Worse - section 3 calls for wealth creators to be made "accountable" for satisfying the "expectations" of all & sundry including "special interest groups".

This is a blank cheque which could stifle any growing business.

Finally - will political correctness inspectors increase productivity & cut costs?

It says so right here on the tin in section 4 - & I do not believe it. If it were so the directors of Asda would not have to be forced to ask the builders of Holyrood how to cut costs.

If you are also unable to believe this PROMISE you CANNOT, cannot, in good conscience, vote for it & I ask you not to.
They could & did.


On motion to ban smoking in public places:
Section (a) of this motion calls on us to support it only if the case is clearly proven. It isn't. A BMJ statistical analysis found only slight statistical significance when 48 studies were combined. Looked at separately only seven showed significant excesses of lung cancer meaning 41 did not. Further the combined risk was merely 24 percent, also called a "relative risk" of 1.24. Such tiny relative risks are considered meaningless, given the myriad pitfalls in epidemiological studies. "As a general rule of thumb" says the editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine Marcia Angell, "we are looking for a relative risk of 3 or more" before even accepting a paper for publication. According to the National Cancer Institute "Relative risks of less than 2 are considered small & are usually difficult to interpret. Such increases may be due to chance, statistical bias or the effect of some other effect not evident". The main exception to that rule comes when the study is extremely large, but such was not the case with the BMJ analysis. The studies showing excess disease comprised only 1,388 people in total. By contrast a recent study implicating obesity as a cause of early death contained more than three hundred & twenty THOUSAND subjects.

So where does this leave us? Do we know passive smoking doesn't cause lung cancer. No. But we do know that either it does not, or that if it does the risk is so tiny as to be unmeasureable. Does this mean that passive smoking poses no health risks? No. It makes sense that it would aggravate asthma if nothing else. Does it mean that just because smokers arn't murdering other people, they're not still engaged in a nasty, expensive habit that greatly increases their own chances of sickness & premature death? Definitely not. But it does mean that we cannot legitimately limit people's freedom on the basis of this alleged risk to others.

Over the next few years Ireland & New York will be able to produce substantial statistical populations & they may prove the banner's case. Or they may disprove it. Or & this is my bet, modern air extraction systems, which can remove 96% of smoke, may be proven effective. We shall see.

Some years ago, to the obvious embarassment of the leadership, the federal party voted to examine lightening the criminal burden on cannabisusers. I remember a TV news programme immediately after in which a Mr Michael Howard we were wrong because nobody should ever, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever even think about thinking about any sort of reform. With it's well known commitment to balance the BBC then interviewed his shadow, Mr Jack Straw who said his opinion was a little more hardline than that. He has clearly changed his mind.

I was very proud of our party that day. It seemed to me that we were acting in the best traditions of classic Liberalism. Having been the first to call for some decriminalisation of cannabis, despite some dubious medical claims, I would be sorry to see us leading the way towards the effective criminalisation of tobacco. Thus I urge you to reject this motion.(they passed it by a large majority - we will see)

(I would like to acknowledge that the section "A BMJ ......... Definitely not" was listed almost verbatim from a site I reccomend to anybody who believes themselves a free thinker on environmental subjects)________________________________________________


I wish now to speak particularly in favour of section A of the motion about Highlands & Islands airports.Currently we subsidise these airports by 2/3rds of their operating costs & have done so for years with no disapproval from the EU. The rest is raised from landing charges. Unfortunately traffic at these airports is so small that the landing charges per person are nonetheless prohibitive. I checked recently & found that a flight to Barra would cost £27 but it would cost £33 to land.Much of the cost of these airports is because they have the same regulatory framework as larger airports. For example approximately 20% of running costs are for security. This, for example means £16.62 is spent per head on keeping bin Laden out of Tiree. Equally each airport is required to keep its own fire brigade. Firemen at Heathrow expect to go through their entire working lives without having to attend a fire – nonetheless when dealing with 30,000 people a day this is a necessary cost. I would argue that it is not when dealing with 5,000 people a year. There are other ways to save expense such as putting the management out to tender & putting runway maintenance in the lands of local authority roads depts. If we could reduce running expenses by 1/3rd these airports could be run with no landing charges at allThe Scottish Parliament has authority over this regulatory regime. The whole point about devolution is that from a nearer perspective it is possible to produce solutions which would not be apparent from London. This is a clear example & we should use it.High landing charges are the main thing detering low cost airlines. In the example I gave earlier the total cost was £60. Were there to be no landing charges it would be £27. Were a no frills airline involved I expect it would roughly halve & were the number of passengers to skyrocket, as seems likely it could halve again. Here we get to the point where, assuming a monorail connection to Glasgow as I suggested earlier, it would be possible to get to Barra from Glasgow for roughly the price it now takes to get a taxi to Glasgow airport.2/3rds of Highland Air passengers are tourists who, quite reasonably, complain about the fact that it is more expensive than flying to Paris. The benefits to the Highlands & Islands & to our share of the world's fastest growing industry, tourism, of making travel accessible can hardly be underestimated. Certainly Barra can never hope to match the attractions of Eurodisney but we should not be so modest as to forget that, for a significant portion of the populations of Europe & America, Eurodisney can never hope to match the attractions of Barra.Consequently I ask you to support the motion & I hope our party in government will make use of such a mandate.

Monday, September 11, 2006



I wish to speak specifically against the amendment to this motion. Unlike the motion itself which gives reasons for its case, the amendment simply states as a matter of doctrine that nuclear energy must be disposed of. Since this means the loss of 40% of Scotland's electricity within 10 or, with a certain amount of juggling, 15 years I think we are owed a solid justification. Since the main motion hopes for an increase from 11 to 21% of our wind, water & solar capacity this still leaves an overall reduction of 30% on our current capacity. Assuming that over the next 10 years the economy will grow at 2.5% we will have a shortfall of nearly 60% of current capacity. The only option other than rationing is a massive programme of building coal, gas & oil generators & which would obviously involve tearing up the Koyoto Treaty. For the Scottish Liberal Democrats to vote for such a policy would be, & would be seen to be, grossly irresponsible. The example of California should be a warning. There the richest part of the richest society in the world is suffering regular power blackouts because for the last 20 years political considerations have prevented the building of generating capacity.

At the slight risk of being burned at the stake as a heretic I now intend to speak in favour of nuclear power.It has been calculated by Professor Cohen of Pittsburgh that, even if there were no other source, uranium particles recovered from seawater could keep our present nuclear power industry going for 5 billion years, whereas the sun is expected to explode in five & a half. It must therefore be considered as pretty sustainable. In general terms nuclear energy is competitive with coal & significantly cheaper than oil or gas. The French are currently generating 77% of their power atomically. They are also profitably selling power to all their neighbours, including us.

The basic arguments used against following their example are the risk caused by accidents, waste disposal & leakage of low level radiation. They are all wrong. The worst accident was at Chernobyl in 1986 caused by the Soviet notorious neglect of safety. As a result 10/20,000 deaths were predicted. Despite the most minute tracking of variations in cancer rates the total currently stands at 45. By comparison in another Soviet accident, in 1989, 570 people on a train died in a gas pipeline explosion. The total of deaths in the following 15 years is 2, in Japan. Bearing in mind that we are talking about creating nearly 20% of all humanity's energy for that period this is a safety record not even approached by any other industry in human history. At the same time to mine coal we tolerate the deaths of hundreds of thousands annually worldwide from black lung & an unquantified but large number from emphysema when we burn it. Waste disposal is truly a non-problem. Reactor waste is very nasty stuff but there is no technical difficulty in turning it into glass producing an entire cubic metre per reactor year. This can be stored in a very deep hole where it will be safe for millions of years. This is not even a problem for our remote descendants since a highly radioactive material is, by definition, one with a relatively short half-life. After 10 years reactor waste radioactivity is reduced a thousandfold. After 500 it is less radioactive than the ore originally mined. This is also why decommissioning reactors is normally unnecessary. Just lock the door & leave it. Recent research on radiation has shown it is not the threat we thought. Classically estimates of the danger of low level radiation have been based on the theory that there was a linear progression from say 5000milliSieverts (a level which will kill 50% of people within a month) to zero with no safe limit in between. Purely because it was a very conservative assumption it was proper to use it when we had no better model. We do now. Following the failure of Chernobyl to satisfy the theoretical predictions statistical examinations have been made of victims of the Hiroshima & Nagasaki bombs, people who worked with radium & most importantly hundreds of thousands of tests of radon in homes. The results have consistently shown that at low levels, below 150 milliSvs radiation has no bad effect. Indeed the radon tests have actually shown a negative correlation between radioactivity & cancer. This is not as strange as it seems. Many things are dangerous in large dose but beneficial in small. 1 aspirin may cure you but 1000 will kill. By comparison you & I will normally have a dose of 2mSvs a year, nuclear workers & uranium miners get 2.5 & airline pilots, because they work at high altitude, get about 6.

In conclusion it is clear that the only thing we have to fear from nuclear electricity is fear itself. This is not a good reason to prepare ourselves for blackouts. The human race has an unlimited future if we will only reach out for it.Anyone who wants to check what I have said should surf or nuclear

What is the 9% Growth Party?

The Classic Liberals for 9% GROWTH PARTY is committed to long term growth at a rate reaching & ultimately maintaining 9% per annum. Experience with the world's most successful economies shows that this can be achieved by the policies of Liberty & the economic ideas close to those of Adam Smith & the founders of Liberalism. We also believe that virtually all economic progress follows from scientific & technological progress, that high technology is inately more efficient & thus less polluting & that scientific progress embodies the the best of the human spirit.

Neil Craig
classic liberals for 9% GROWTH Party

If you would like to help this movement or just to receive future communications please email
write to 9% Growth, 200 Woodlands Rd., Glasgow G3 6LN
phone 0141 353 3975