The Darien adventure mark 2

The two pictures below are of Cities at apposite ends of a short stretch of water called the Panama Canal. One city is Panama and the other is Colon. They are in the same country of Panama but they could not be any more different. One of these Cities houses a multitude of financial institutions specialising in Tax Avoidance and the other one doesn’t. Take a guess at which one is which. I suppose you could draw a parallel between say the City of London and Easterhouse

 

I visited Colon about three years ago whilst on a cruise, all passengers were advised that, whilst ashore and unless we were booked on an organised tour we should remain within the fenced off harbour area. I decided to walk into the town as is my normal pursuit when in these, shall we say less developed areas of the World. I could hardly believe my eyes at the abject poverty I witnessed, it was awful. Buildings, showing the signs of a colonial past were stripped bare of anything that could have been useful of valuable. There was not a single manhole cover on any of the footways as they had been taken for their metal value.

 

Whilst taking in these sights I was approached by four policemen on bicycles who asked me what I was doing there. I told them I was a passenger on the ship that had docked that morning and I was having a look around the City. They decided to accompany me, so I had an escort around the city for the rest of my time there and I must admit it was an unusual experience having traffic stopped to allow me to cross the roads. I did however witness untold poverty.

 

The other photo is of Panama City, so what is the difference? Well the difference is that in Panama City there is a huge traffic in money, yes Panama City is what is normally called an off shore tax haven. It is where people, corporations and even heads of Government set up company head offices and theoretically trade through them in order to avoid paying the tax in the countries in which they actually do their business. It is where, for instance David Cameron’s Father set up a unit trust fund , the purpose of which was to supposedly trade in currencies, the effect was to avoid paying the tax which would have fallen due had he set this fund up in the UK.

 

So, what, you might ask, what is the Panamanian government doing wrong, and the answer is, more than likely, nothing, because the companies based there are probably in the main conforming to Panamanian and international law and that is that they are offering a very low or nil rate of tax on investments. Together with a high degree of secrecy.

 

Ok so what’s the problem? Well the problem is that countries like the UK are governed by people who govern, not in the people’s interest, but in their own and their likes, interest and the government of the UK make it legal for companies to trade in the UK and then by devious ( but not illegal) means, move the profit base to a various offshore accounts where they are then taxed at the local rate. This of course means that the country in which the company actually generated the profit is deprived of the tax on the profit actually made.

 

So what can be done about this? Well actually it is pretty simple. All countries can pass laws that make it mandatory that tax is played on trading profit, with a reasonable allowance for expenses and depreciation of capital expenditure, but all within the trading account of the activities carried out within the borders and tax regime of that country and tax would be apportioned and paid on that basis.  It would of course be up to the individual company/individual to do what they wished with the net profit. So in other words, if it is made here, it is taxed here, dead simple.

 

Panama was once called Darien, in fact there is still a province of Panama with that name. Darien was the name given to a colony founded by Scots around about 1689. One of the main figures in that venture was a guy called William Patterson who as it happens was also instrumental in forming the Bank of England. The story of what became known as the Darien adventure is too complicated to recount here, but suffice it to say that most of the wealth of Scotland was invested in this venture which was to form a trading route across that narrow neck of land which is now the Panama Canal. This venture was thwarted by the English and the Spanish and as a result the venture failed. It was because of this that the now impoverished nobility of Scotland agreed to the Union between Britain (England and Wales) and Scotland ,which took place in 1707 forming Great Britain.

 

Now the “establishment “is in serious trouble because of the release of what is being called the panama papers centring around one particular firm of lawyers in Panama who “facilitated” many of these offshore transactions. I would like to think that we are witnessing the demise of the UK through their improper imposition of “establishment” biased laws with regards to tax evasion.

 

Wouldn’t it be ironic and a twist of fate if we were to become once more responsible for our own destiny through a reversal of something that happened 300 years ago?

 

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Waiting for the other shoe to drop

Well indeed an interesting week in Scottish politics ., We had the GERS figures out which is the governments way of trying to persuade the people of Scotland that this wealthy country of ours is just too wee and poor to act like a grown up country and be responsible for our own affairs and indeed our own destiny. However I have given my take of this in another blog.

 

The other notable event was the awakening of the guardians of our destiny, the people who the Scottish people have put their trust in to bring us independence, the SNP .

After a period of slumber it would appear that independence is once more back on the agenda with an announcement by Nicola Sturgeon ,during her speech to the SNP conference, that independence will once more be pursued…….. Err, after the Scottish elections in May!! and our opinion on what went wrong at the last referendum will be sought.  Hmm , OK but how about a wee guarantee just to ensure you don’t sneak off with the deposit and forget to deliver the goods. The deposit is of course your vote in May.

Now please forgive me for being just a wee bit sceptical but we have heard that before , in fact we have heard it several times .Each time Nicola comes up with a wee carrot to keep the troops in line, its ” yes we are still interested in independence and the people will let us know when we are ready to go again”

Problem is that when we try to let Nicola know we are ready to go again or give an opinion on what went wrong at the last referendum  she has a bout of selective deafness. Not only that but she is a wee bit coy in letting us know just what method she will accept in the “telling her we are ready to go” We through the grass roots organisation The Yes Bus Scotland’s Dragon for independence  who had a big hand in making Dundee the largest Yes voting region in Scotland , have tried various ways to make suggestions as to setting up a proper “road map to independence”( because that is exactly what we need ) have had various problems along the way, such as having a concerted effort to sabotage an  event we organised in Dundee City Square actually by the local SNP including the politicians, employees and officers. This event was on the theme of a “road map to independence ”

Apart from that ,it has always been difficult or impossible to get SNP politicians to support our efforts, with the exception of Chris Law who always seemed to try to get to our meetings.

 

So where are we now ? Ok ,we have had Nicola telling us that independence is on the agenda but in an interview by Gordon Brewer  with Keith Brown it was like drawing teeth trying to get him to tell us how this is going to play out because it would seem that Nicola has not told him yet. Hmm OK she is busy with the conference and the May elections but lets not forget, that’s what she is there for.

Perhaps I am being unkind and I do realise that she is a busy girl so here’s   a few suggestions . According to Keith Brown there will be some sort of consultation to find out what went wrong with the last referendum  and why people voted no. Now remember , the referendum was 15 months ago and they still don’t know what went wrong!! well I will save them another 15 Months and suggest she looks up my time line, back  to just after the last referendum and she will see that I and many other people have been telling her what went wrong and it was this ( for the hundred and fiftieth time ) It was pensions, it was the monetary situation and the perception that we didn’t have a plan B. It was the feebleness of the SNP when dealing with the press. It was in part Alex Salmond and a note here , Alex is the most able politician in the UK but he did not come over well to some people and we had people constantly coming up to us in the City Square and telling us that they would vote yes but for ” that Man Salmond”

 

There was other things but if these issues had been addressed during the referendum we would have won and there is no question in my mind about that.

 

So there you are Nicola , I have saved you another 15 Months so can we get on with it now , and when I say get on with it can I suggest how?

Well to start with we need to give the wonderful grass roots groups the kiss of life as it was them who got us to where we were at the referendum. To do this we need campaigning material on a common theme to address the issues I have mentioned earlier,or if there is a lack of funds for this at least the proofs of the literature required and we will raise the funds to get it printed.

We need a proper road map to independence and it has to be in the manifesto for the May election and more importantly there must also be a commitment to demand the right to decide for ourselves when and in what manner the next referendum will take place and this must be a rigid requirement in the manifesto ( it should have been in the manifesto for the Westminster election ) We must wrest this right from the Westminster government.

We in the Yes Bus team will be announcing a method of making it very easy for the SNP politicians to ask the people of Scotland ( or at least Dundee) what their views are as per Nicola’s announcement.

 

Ok that is a few things to get on with and if none of these things are in your manifesto then I for one will not be voting for you.

A notable week in politics

Quite a week past from the issue of the GERS figures, to the announcement by Nicola Sturgeon that the SNP have not forgotten  their Raison d’etre and are actually thinking about independence again, but first the GERS figures and I will give my take on the renewed enthusiasm for independence by the SNP in my next blog.

The GERS figures  ( Government Expenditure and Revenue Figures Scotland), A set of figures thought up by a one time secretary of state for Scotland Ian Lang . The purpose of which was at that time to give a skewed  impression of how Scotland stood financially with a view to diverting thoughts of devolution in Scotland and now used to divert thoughts of independence in Scotland . I append a  piece by Gordon McIntyre Kemp of business for Scotland. Please read this as it will better explain the true position and demolishes the farce of a black hole in Scotland finances and in fact shows quite clearly that the GERS figures simply reinforces the need for independence, in order for Scotland to cast of the inefficient and debt ridden ties to the UK .  These figures as you will see are loaded with expenditure that an independent Scotland would not have, and debt interest liability built up by successive incompetent UK chancellors of the exchequer, the last three being Gordon Brown ,Alister Darling and George Osborn.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp: GERS crowing is nothing more than wasted hot air

UNIONIST politicians and BritNat trolls alike have been falling over themselves this week to pontificate about how the latest Government Expenditure and Revenue in Scotland (GERS) data means a Yes vote would have been disastrous. The mainstream media has bought this financial Armageddon message hook, line and sinker, as you would expect, but there is a slight problem with their analysis – it’s total rubbish.First of all, the GERS figures tells us almost nothing that can be related to the finances of an independent Scotland other than the fact that our onshore economy is remarkably resilient, showing a 3.2 per cent increase in the face of an unprecedented fall in oil prices. Aberdeen and the North East, and oil sector companies further afield, have been hard hit by the oil price slump and during the period of these 2014/15 figures the first of the 65,000 estimated oil sector job losses started to mount up. All the more surprising then that more recent figures have shown Scotland’s employment performance overtake the UK average.

Thus, just as I have been saying for years, Scotland’s economy is not reliant on oil. Although the deficit has worsened as a percentage of GDP most people have benefited from wages and employment rising faster in Scotland than the rest of the UK. They have seen record-low inflation driven by low oil and fuel prices make the pound in their pocket go further and far from sensing economic Armageddon or calamity, the vast majority not directly connected to the oil sector have done relatively well out of the fall in oil prices.

The rest of the UK has also done very well from low oil prices forcing down inflation, protecting consumer spend, which lowers the cost of business, especially in manufacturing and transport-related sectors. Essentially, the UK Treasury benefits from high oil prices in the good times because the revenues don’t stay in Scotland then benefits from low inflation in the bad times – heads they win, tails you lose.

This has led to overconfidence and unsustainable house price rises, especially in London and the South East, creating a housing bubble that will negatively impact on Scotland’s economy when it bursts, creating another economic slow-down.

ondon house prices have lost all contact with reality and there are fewer properties on the market, by about 35 to 40 per cent compared with prior to the banking crisis, and so prices have inflated due to lack of supply, even though demand is not much stronger. This leads many to believe that a housing market crash and another recession is likely in 2017/18.

The GERS figures actually highlight how being part of the United Kingdom and also subject to the failure of successive Westminster governments to instigate any protection mechanism to deal with the impact of oil price volatility, such as a sovereign oil fund, has damaged Scotland’s fiscal position.

This means that the UK has absolutely no incentive to protect Scotland’s budget from oil price volatility, where as such prudent financial management is essential for a smaller, independent nation. Norway, a small, independent, oil-rich nation, has far less of a problem than Scotland in fiscal terms, as in the mid-1990s they started setting money aside to deal with volatility and that fund is now worth about $800 billion. In December 2015, plans to spend 208bn kroner ($25.2bn) of that oil wealth this year were announced, topping up the 204bn kroner Norway predicts it will receive from offshore oil and gas fields.

When Aberdeen, the part of Scotland hit hardest by the oil price slump, asked the UK Government for help, Westminster couldn’t match Norway’s $25.2bn, offering only £125 million, an amount dwarfed by the Scottish Government’s own Aberdeen help package and an insult when compared to the more than £300bn in oil revenues booked by the Treasury in good times.

The UK can’t complain about Scotland’s short-term fiscal position without recognising its long-term fiscal contribution to the UK.
The GERS figures tell us nothing about how Scotland would have fared as an independent country under the same circumstances, as we would have implemented bespoke economic policies, had different tax rates and a radically different fiscal starting place. The 2014/15 figures released this week also cover a period before the referendum, and even the figures released in a year’s time will be for 2015/16 and won’t cover the first year of theoretical independence.

Another flaw in the Armageddon argument is that several of the expense lines in the GERS figures relate to UK membership and would reduce significantly and possibly even disappear completely with independence. For example, defence spending in 2014/15 was £3bn and that is the cost to Scotland for the UK’s power projection agenda, including nuclear warheads Scotland wouldn’t have and the cost of action in the Middle East Scotland wouldn’t support.

A Scottish Defence Force modelled on Denmark’s would save about £1.2bn a year. Civil service costs (salaries, rent and rates are lower in Scotland than London) would fall, likewise there would be lower costs for tax collection, border protection, security services and even not having to pay for Westminster and the House of Commons could save up to £600m per year. My highly conservative calculations on low pay in Scotland show that even full-time workers receive welfare payments that amount to between £800m and £850m a year in Scotland.

THE extra Income Tax and National Insurance contributions from implementing the Living Wage would also generate between £220m and £250m of additional revenue. This means that the Living Wage would benefit the Scottish budget to the tune of £1bn extra a year.

Finally, the Scottish Government offered to take a population share of the UK’s debt mountain if there was an agreement on currency. Legally, an independent Scotland would not be responsible for that debt and the Treasury actually confirmed that fact in 2014. Alex Salmond was clear: “No deal on currency, no deal on debt.” Without the pound, an independent Scotland would also not have the debt interest payments in its expenditure, which in the 2014/15 GERS amount to £2.76bn.

So, when oil revenues drop £2bn from the previous year’s figures it certainly isn’t good news, but that is dwarfed by the potential savings from independence amounting to nearly £3bn if a deal had been done on currency and £5.5bn if it hadn’t. This would radically improve the deficit to GDP ratio. Of course, had Scotland been independent for the years leading up to 2014/15 the figures would have had an entirely different starting point.

What the GERS figures really show is that as part of the UK Scotland can’t protect itself from oil price volatility but as an independent nation we would have the tools to do so, and that is significantly better than potentially being dragged out of the EU, and into a housing bubble-led recession as part of the UK.

Torture, Death, and Trump

Please read this attachment by Craig Murray. Who is a committed human rights campaigner and was once the British governments Ambassador in Uzbekistan. He sacrificed a very promising career in the Foreign Service because of his concerns at the British governments’ attitude to torture, it clearly outlines the British Government complicity in torture as a means of gaining intelligence. Please note the word intelligence, which in this context means information and should not be confused with evidence, because information gained in this way cannot be used as evidence. Therefore, as Craig explains, the information gained in this manner is used to kidnap, torture and indeed murder otherwise innocent people.
https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2009/03/fco_finally_adm/

 

Now this is especially relevant in connection with debates I have been having recently with friends on the other side of the Atlantic who are supporters of Donald Trump. The issues here as regards to international law and UN charters are exactly the same, whether in Britain or the US.

 

So we have a man who aspires to be potentially the most powerful person on the planet, stating quite openly that he will start of by being in contravention of both international and UN law and not just in relation to torture but also by way of his advocacy of the extra judicial slaughter of innocent members of suspected terrorist’s families. The suspicion, mind you, more than likely gained through torture.

 

Now not only should this Man be debarred from running for President but he should be taken into custody for inciting murder and any one even remotely thinking of voting for him should hang their head in shame.

 

For those of you who are still thinking of considering this distasteful person as president of the most powerful country in the World, I have a question for you. Now if this Man’s policy of killing the family’s suspected terrorists is implemented. It means that your armed forces will be required to carry out this heinous task. So my question is this. Should your soldiers have an option of opting out of being a war criminal by refusing to carry out cold blooded murder, or do you think that by being a member of the armed forces of the US,  they have a virtual duty to carry out murder?

Do you think that this extra judicial killing should be done in an attempted humane way, by say lethal injection or do you think they should be simply shot or blown up?

 

Think about it

A step back to the past

So we have the presidential race descending into pure farce with Donald Trump setting out his application for the presidency based on the size of his penis. Yes folks you heard it correctly, at the most recent debate between the republican hopefuls, he made the claim that he had a large penis.

I really feel sorry for some of the people who were honestly hoping for a different sort of presidential candidate from the republican movement and I am at a loss to put any sort of logic to the republican strategy of allowing Trump to run for the candidacy. The only suggestion I can apply to his latest humorous campaign statement is that as he has (embarrassingly) Scottish roots, he is confusing a common Scottish phrase which describes someone of limited intelligence, in some way for a compliment. The phrase in question is, “the Man is a complete Dick”

Now I have had several debates with friends on the other side of the Atlantic on the wisdom of allowing this Man to stand for candidacy for the Republican Party and predicted that eventually, republicans would realise just how much of a liability this man is. I also predicted that once they did realise this then they would have to take some pretty serious action to stop him from receiving the nomination in order to prevent the republican party from destroying itself in the event of this Man actually standing for the presidency. It would seem that this is now in fact what is happening, with the intervention of Mormon Mitt who has stood in the candidacy during the last two presidential elections. Now Mitt Romney himself is not actually the sharpest tool in the box but on the basis of the saying “it takes one to now one” , he has been tasked with initiating the start of an official undermining effort by the party hierarchy.

Romney absolutely slated Trump, bringing to the fore much of what most Americans with the exception of the red neck fraternity, knew already but were apparently willing to sweep under the carpet. Now the reasons for this are many, but when an element of seemingly intelligent and lucid people , lend credence to this Man’s ramblings it warrants a look at what my lie under the surface of what, at first sight seems illogical loyalty.
Now this remember is a man who supports torture of people who are simply suspected of committing a crime and would make sure that any serving officer in the America Armed forces would be forced against their conscience to carry out this heinous practice. A Man who has stated that he would commit  a war crime by killing suspected Terrorist’s families A Man who seems to think that Mexicans are all criminals and rapists, a man who would stop people of a particular religious persuasion from entering America. A Man who does not think it wise to allow immigrants to enter America even although he has married several of them. A Man who has stated quite publicly that he would date his own Daughter. A Man who refuses to condemn the Klu Klux Clan. A Man who has had many failed business ventures. A Man who has had half a million people in the UK voting for him to be banned from entering the UK.

OK so here is my take on it and this connects to his loyalty to the Jewish community. Evidenced by the fact that he was honoured by the Algaminer Journal and received the Algaminer Liberty award.
I believe he is seen as an easy companion of Israel in their continued oppression of the Palestinian people and his position as president of America would make him even more of a patsy to them than even George bush was. The press and media in America is mostly controlled by Jewish money and it is the media which are responsible for his present popularity.

The prospect of this Man becoming the president of the most powerful country in the world is nothing short of terrifying. It won’t happen, now that the republican movement have seen the light, but the fact that it was even envisaged should give every one food for thought as to the veracity of the politics of that very movement.

Things are changing today and you only have to look at what happened with the election of Jeremy Corbyn as his party’s leader in the UK and also what has happened with the SNP in Scotland., People are becoming more aware of the injustices visited on all of us by political ideologies which would not be out of place in the dark ages.
Yes indeed, “ the times are a changing” but please ,America do not set us back 500 years by voting for Donald Trump, please do not let us down.

And if all else fails , what logical,lucid person would vote for a Man with a hair cut like that.

 

 

Question time ( and the answers)

My application for question time in Dundee has been submitted.
The last time I was on question time was in March 1995 at the personal invitation of David Dimbleby. I took him and his team back to the airport after a question time in Dundee in November 1994 at which Alex Salmond was in attendance. I got into a prolonged debate with David who asked me if I seriously thought we would ever get the chance to vote for independence and if I though Alex Salmond could ever be a credible leader of the SNP. I told him that Salmond would be the man to lead us to independence. I still think that will have to be the case. When we got to the airport David asked me if I would like to come to Glasgow the next time question time was to be there and I told him I would, never thinking that it would happen.
The next day I had a call from David’s secretary asking if I would like to go and she subsequently sent me the official invitation.
At the question time, I got the chance to speak twice. There was a question from a member of the audience about a statement the chancellor of the exchequer (Kenneth Clark) had made the previous day. He had said that the policies he had put in place for recovery would take two years for the feel good factor to be felt. She wanted to know what he meant by the feel good factor. I put up my hand and David chose me to give an opinion. I said “it is quite obvious, what Mr Clark means by the feel good factor, because in two years there will be a general election and the Tories will be wiped out in Scotland, and everyone will feel a lot better”
Two years later the Tories were wiped out and as I have predicted, everyone did indeed feel a lot better.
The next question that I had an input to was regarding the breakup of the railways into different companies and the questioner asked what the reasoning behind this was. I again put up my hand and David chose me to put my view. I said “it is quite obvious why the railways are being split up into different entities because in a couple of years there will be an election and the Tories will be thrown out of government. They will therefore all require cushy directorships to slip into when they are thrown out of parliament”. David turned to Ian Lang who was at that time Secretary of State for Scotland and said to him “well Mr Lang have you a nice directorship lined up?”
The Tories as mentioned earlier were indeed thrown out of Parliament two years after that.
If I am chosen to be in the audience at this question time, I would like to ask David to cast his mind back to the debate we had in the car on the way to the airport and ask him just how near my prediction of independence came to pass.
I believe we are still on the road to independence, however, at the moment, I feel the SNP have lost their way. We need a road map to take us there

Back to 1999

So we now have the conclusion of the Smith Commission with the capitulation of the Scottish Government to an agreement of mediocrity. After negotiations, that commenced with the formation of the commission. This was set in place by the British government to in some way allow the Scottish people to believe that there was actually a vow, instead of the invention that was the editorial in the Daily Record a couple of days before the referendum.

The British government chose to string us along because they perceived an advantage in doing so and we have just discovered exactly what that advantage was.
The clue to that advantage is in what the Scottish government has been saying for the last few weeks. They have been telling us that this agreement had to be “without detriment to either party” well that is exactly what they got, and without detriment means exactly that and that is also, without advantage to either party.Well not quite true, because this “agreement is only for 6 years after which the British government will no doubt extract their pound of flesh

So we have been on a mission to stand still. Well not exactly, because what we will have is the blame for all of these taxes we are to act as unpaid tax collectors for.
So let’s speak about these new found tax raising and lowering (within limits) powers we are the new found recipients of.

Ok so let’s think about how we can use them, well we could put them up, (to the delight of Labour who we have been castigating for suggesting a penny increase to alleviate the effects of Tory cuts)to ease the burden of government cuts, and if the Scottish Government were in a suicidal mood, then I suppose they could do that. So let’s stretch the imagination and say that this might be something they would consider. So how much do you think they would dare to increase our taxes by? 1%, 2% or would you think 3% might be the amount?
Well, it might surprise many of you to learn that the Scottish Government have had the power to raise or lower taxes by 3% since their inception in 1999.Or, at, least they did until they voluntarily allowed the agreement with HMRC to laps in 2007.However, this could have been reintroduced with notice.

Now all this gives me the feeling of being given the responsibility of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, more so as the UK is heading for a financial crash that will make the one in 2008 ( aided and abetted by Brown and Darling, oops, sorry Lord Darling)seem like being hit by a snowball as opposed to an iceberg.

I am afraid the SNP’s negotiation abilities are somewhat limited and I feel that they should get back to doing what it says on the tin and that is striving for independence.
I for one will not be going out early and putting my beach towel on any of these deck chairs