Monday, 15 December 2014
Jim Murphy has been elected to hold the North Britain Labour Party’s poisoned chalice - the leader of the party in Scotland.
As you can see many of us thought Neil Findlay would perhaps achieve the dizzy heights but he didn’t disgrace himself with 35% of the vote. Jim Murphy received 56% with Sarah Boyack in third place with 9%.
Apart from his rather nasty remarks about Alex Salmond, Jim Murphy proposes to rewrite Scottish Labour’s Clause IV. I find myself swithering between amusement and pathos at the bullet points in the New Statesman. How sad that a party which ruled Scotland for decades has to incorporate into its constitution the fact that it’s a ‘patriotic party’.
I’m not sure if this is vacuous nonsense from Jim Murphy because some time ago I read that the Labour party in Scotland could not have a separate constitution from the main party i.e. London based labour.
We shall see. I doubt if he’ll appeal to the younger generation even with Kezia Dugdale as his deputy.
Wednesday, 10 December 2014
LBTT is the acronym for Land and Buildings Transaction Tax. In Scotland this new tax will replace stamp duty.
Last week George Osborne used his Autumn statement to announce an overhaul of of stamp duty that will result in families across the UK paying thousands of pounds less from last Thursday.
But George Osborne’s cut will only apply in Scotland until April, when control over the levy is passed to the Scottish Parliament and John Swinney replaces it with LBTT.
Those buying a normal family home in England will continue to pay 5% of the purchase price above £250,000 but the changeover to John Swinney’s LBTT means Scottish home purchasers will have to pay 10% above that sum making purchasers pay 5% more than their English counterparts.
John Swinney insists that 80% of Scottish buyers will be better off under his plans I’m told. Really? I’ve done a small calculation of homes in my nearest town and apart from flats - although there are a few advertised over the £250,000 threshold - my figure resulted in over 60% of homes here showing they will be affected by this extra 5% tax in comparison to English homes.
My local town isn’t Edinburgh or regarded as ‘a posh place’ in Scots jargon. It’s an average rural town with a population of roughly 20,000 and a mix of homes. In recent years Perth and Kinross Council has actively encouraged national builders to come here and build expensive family homes. Regular readers will know I participated in a protest about a development which was built on greenbelt when there were plenty of other sites available. (An interesting update to this development is that the 25% social housing has been cancelled with the reason supplied ‘the housing organisation involved could not acquire the funding’. How convenient. Now that particular developer can go ahead and build £300,000+ homes on the site planned for social housing and receive much greater profits).
Back in October John Swinney was warned he was placing too much burden on the middle classes when he announced the BBTT rates in October, but the tax hike we Scots now face is much steeper thanks to George Osborne’s reforms.
Those buying a £275,00 property in England - the cost of the average British home - will pay £3,750 stamp duty compared to £8,250 under the old system, but here in Scotland we will see bills increase to £4,800 under LBTT thanks to the rates and bands John Swinney has chosen.
John Swinney is quoted as saying his rates and bands were ‘designed for Scottish circumstances, not London house prices’. My local town is his local town. He needs to have a rethink about his LBTT rates because most homes in the multitude of new developments are priced over £250,000 and there are plenty of them awaiting owners.
Mr Swinney’s constituency of North Perthshire is regarded as fairly affluent mainly due to agriculture, but it has pockets of strong Tory supporters. They are the only voices to be heard regarding the LBTT this week. I hope more join in the conversation regardless of party affiliations. Not only will his excessive 10% rate halt the sale of new homes, it will suppress the natural value of them.
Time to reconsider Mr Swinney.
Monday, 8 December 2014
click to enlarge
The eco warriors, like all fanatics, dislike discussion. They are right. Always.
Yesterday I made a comment on a Facebook post of someone who is ardently against the plan for fracking in Fife. I respect anyone who has firm convictions but the respect diminishes when common sense is lacking. Her post was to protest about the lack of interest of Fifers in the recently awarded fracking licences. She’s furious there are a lack of objections to the plans and refuses to accept the answer that obviously people aren’t concerned.
I did attempt to ask if she thought fracking would be more damaging to the environment than the thousands of windmills which have been thrust upon our beautiful countryside, but there was no response.
The above prompted me to suggest this post may be of interest to those of us who are concerned with the Scottish Government’s green policies. It is a global poll carried out by the United Nations.
Recently China, in order to preserve its industries, stated its use of fossil fuels would peak in 2030. It appears Obama is quite happy with China’s stance. Westminster has been quiet in the hope that the greenies will not introduce mass protests against China and India’s policies of building unlimited coal fuelled power stations.
In the comments of my recommended article, I note that several people are concerned about the effect the warmest agenda will have on our future trust in science.
If the above graph (taken from here) is anything to go by most of us aren’t interested in action on climate change. That’s not good news for countries but of course it will be celebrated in environmentalist quarters. They are free to continue destroying populations.
It’s time we decided to bring a halt to those spreading their false science. Climate change may not be important in the many people’s everyday life priorities but the fanatics must not be given free reign. We must care in order to protect the future of honest scientists the world over.
Monday, 1 December 2014
It wasn’t so long ago HM The Queen - Lizzie or Queenie in this part of her domain - announced her intention to make the royalty business much more open and transparent in keeping with the mood of the moment. The Prime Minister immediately added the clause to the Freedom of Information Act in an attempt to show that Lizzie wish was his command.
Some applauded her sentiment and understanding of the public’s views. Some didn’t and I was one of them. Being a bit of a cynic my first thought was ‘Why?’ The answer seemed to be she was responding to her critics who question the necessity for her family to be subsidised by public money when they’re one of the richest families and landowners in the United Kingdom. Must keep the sheeple happy.
Today I discovered Lizzie’s largess with her public information files is to be withdrawn immediately. Nae mair news frae the Palace. Nae mair leaks of questionable correspondence between the royals and their subjects. What are the London elite going to talk about over their candlelit dinners now? I suppose there’s always Bob Geldorf or Bono or another celeb of limited talent well past their sell-by date.
Why the rush for another revision of the FoI Act? The old adage ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ springs to mind. Someone’s been naughty, really naughty and we ought to be told; after all we pay handsomely for their luxurious lifestyles.
Wednesday, 26 November 2014
For the past few years there has been a cycle race here in Perthshire called ‘Marie Cure Cancer Care Etape Caledonia’.
It involves over 5,000 cyclists and they undertake the 81 mile course which passes through some breathtaking views.
It hasn’t been without its critics though as some people object to local roads being closed. In remote areas it’s understandable people feel trapped and some have taken extreme measures in protest. Although I disagree with such actions I can sympathise with the disruption such road closure events make in areas where there is only one route in and out of a community.
Most people have accepted the inconveniences because the participants were riding for the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity and assumed all, or most, of the entry fees would be given to this reputable cause. On the sponsorship page of their website there’s nothing to indicate that only 10% of places booked are permitted to be used for fundraising purposes. The entrants still pay their fee (£70 in 2015) and the profits from their entrance fee goes to one of the richest showbiz and sport talent agencies in the world, IMG. Not a penny goes towards Marie Curie Cancer Care.
The only entrance fee profits which go to the charity are when all the 500 places are sold 50 ‘gold bond’ places become available. The writer of the article can’t discover how much of the entrance fee the charity made this year as IMG will not disclose the cost of overheads but he’s certainly disappointed that Marie Cure ‘feels the need to use a pan-global, profit-driven event management group to run their Etapes’. I agree.
In past years some of my acquaintances have contributed towards this event by volunteering to assist and although necessary travel expenses could be claimed, none has done so. This year I think it will be very different. My physiotherapist has donated her skills free of charge to this event for 6 years and has emailed the organisers to say she is withdrawing her labour for 2015. She’s well known in Perthshire and intends to spread the word.
Should there be an Etape cycling event in your area perhaps you could let your friends know that should they decide to volunteer they will be lining the pockets of a global profit-making organisation and not the Marie Cure charity.
It’s time the Marie Curie charity had a rethink on who they use to assist with fundraising events. I’ve no answer to the question I asked in the title other than the administrators of their fundraising section are quite content with the current arrangement.