How will the coming year affect you? Will it affect you at all? We want to hear your comedy content on Scottish-ness, British-ness, voting — anything, in fact, which feels connected to the referendum. The best material will go to a panel of BBC script editors and the very best will be recorded for broadcast.
A Beginner’s Guide to Scottish Independence and Britain | openDemocracy
The deadline for entries is 9am on Monday the 21st April. If you are interested you can find more information here. We're on Facebook - Why not come along and visit? The Janice Forsyth Show. Main content. Sorry, this episode is not currently available. As the ruling Scottish National Party SNP lays the groundwork for another referendum, it has been trying to firm up the economic case for independence. Before the vote in , nationalists promised milk and honey.
That was, supposedly, to be covered by bountiful tax revenues from oil and gas production, which would be seized back from London, which currently takes the spoils.
The slump in the oil price in put paid to such ideas. Last year the tax take from oil and gas was practically zero. All of which should have further weakened the economic case for independence. In the referendum of , Leavers defied warnings that Brexit would provoke immediate economic collapse—and were proved right. And the prospect of rejoining the European Union as an independent country may have strengthened the economic case for breaking away from Britain, in the eyes of some voters.
Polls suggest that since the Brexit vote there has been a big jump in the number of Scots who believe that independence would be good for the economy. The SNP wants to bolster independence economics still further. The page tome often reads like an update to the blueprint from It likewise contains its fair share of wishful thinking. It repeatedly invites the reader to believe that an independent Scotland could see GDP growth rates of a near-impossible 3. Still, the document shows that nationalists are taking an altogether more sensible approach to economics.
Its forecasts do not rely on oil. Any return from the North Sea fields would, instead, be diverted to what is in effect a sovereign-wealth fund, to be invested in community projects and the like. The approach to fiscal policy has also become wiser. For now, money coming from London helps make up the difference. But an independent Scotland would stand alone. Running such a large deficit over the long term is not a feasible strategy. That implies a more austere stance than nationalists have previously advocated.
The Scottish left has slammed the report. The nationalists have plenty more work to do to convince sceptical Scots of the economic benefits of independence, which would still represent a massive economic gamble. It talks still less about Brexit, and in particular the question of whether the England-Scotland border could really remain frictionless if one country were in the EU and the other not.
Nonetheless, in the current climate, a small improvement in the economic case for independence could have a big impact. In the same skyline, visitors are urged to admire the finest of the old and the shiniest of the new. To judge by its stated intentions and the ships it means to buy, Britain is planning to celebrate Brexit by reasserting some of its ancient prowess as an ocean-going power.
As well as the Queen Elizabeth and another huge carrier, which will both be endowed with snazzy American fighter aircraft, the order book includes fresh generations of attack submarines and surface combatants, plus four subs armed with nuclear missiles. All this has boosted the morale of a service which was hurt by the spending squeeze mandated in after the economic downturn.
At that time, navy chiefs reluctantly accepted a reduction in surface combatant ships to a historic low of 19 down from about 50 at the end of the cold war as the price for saving the ambitious carrier plan. A defence review in , noting the dangerous state of the world, helped turn the tide. Staffing and equipping even a reduced fleet can be a stressful business. As the National Audit Office, a spending watchdog, points out, the navy is short of technicians, pilots and IT specialists, and it will need to make further efficiency savings to fund the new nuclear subs.
There have been times in the past two years when none of the surface fleet was far from home waters. The navy insists it is winning the battle to make do. As of mid-May, the defence ministry says, some 24 ships and subs were at sea and 9, sailors were deployed or about to sail.
Gregor Gall: Number 30 key for radical Left
But another worry is that, having focused on low-tech foes like pirates and drug-smugglers, British ships may have lost the culture and capacity needed to fight high-intensity war with what strategists call peer competitors. The navy has just extended the life of its main anti-ship missile, the Harpoon, by two years. Nobody knows what will happen after Sir Mark Sedwill, the national security adviser, made the revealing admission on May 1st that the two giant new ships would probably not enter contested waters without an ally presumably America to protect them.
As Chris Parry, a retired admiral, points out, that negates one of the aims of the carriers when the concept was dreamed up in to keep an independent capacity to act in distant seas like the south Atlantic, where Britain fought Argentina in America, China and Russia are all working hard to develop hypersonic missiles and laser weapons, which may transform maritime warfare. Russia, dismissed until a few years ago as a spent naval force, is broadening the range of vessels from which it can fire cruise missiles. China is building frigates and aircraft-carriers at a pace which makes cash-strapped British planners look plodding.
In a small way, Britain already goes head to head with both emergent powers. The number of times when the Royal Navy was deployed to deflect potentially threatening actions by Russian ships rose to 33 last year, from 20 in and just once in In March a British frigate sailed through part of the South China Sea where the Chinese authorities are trying to establish a sphere of influence.
Back in Portsmouth, the difficulty of prevailing in a naval race is vividly illustrated. A prize exhibit in the old dockyard is HMS Warrior , a steam-and-sailing ship that outgunned all comers when launched in but held her lead for barely 15 years. Ever inventive, the navy kept using the hull as a fuelling barge until Out of steam. Yet increasingly, foreign rail firms face opposition to their British operations at home, too.
Mr Grayling pulled the plug on the franchise after Stagecoach and Virgin, the two British firms that ran it, made heavy losses. Punctuality has reached a ten-year low and overcrowding has risen by a third since The fact that foreigners are profiting from all this makes the situation even more intolerable. When the government separated the operation of trains and track in the s, most services were run by British firms.
But foreign rail giants soon piled in, explains Gerald Khoo of Liberum, a bank. Profits were good, as many first-time franchises had been let on favourable terms.
The Babel Fish Project
Passenger numbers rose faster than expected. And state rail firms in Europe looked to Britain to diversify in the face of new European laws that forced them to open their tracks at home to competitors. Deutsche Bahn bought Arriva, a big British franchise-holder, in It has won only two new bids since then, and lost many more.
One of its franchises, Northern, has been hit hard by strikes. And it pulled out of bidding for the renewal of its Welsh franchise, which was awarded to a rival consortium on May 23rd. Abellio, a subsidiary of the Dutch state rail firm, NS, has also been suffering. It has won more new contracts than Deutsche Bahn, but they are not very lucrative. Passenger numbers have also disappointed on its Greater Anglia franchise.
So both are under pressure at home for their antics abroad. In Deutsche Bahn tried to sell off Arriva. If either firm stops bidding for future contracts in Britain, it could leave the government in a pickle. It fears being left hostage to a single bidder for many franchises. So ministers are trying to broaden the field of competitors. They are already offering to share more of the revenue risk on new franchises, to make the deals more attractive.
And the government is trying to drum up new bidders in other parts of the world, such as East Asia. Not only is Britain leaving the European Union—many of its trains are, too.
Vince Cable: vincible or capable? They even came within a few hundred votes of snatching Hull, demonstrating that the Lib Dems have some appeal outside Remain-voting enclaves in the south. On the other hand, the party is cheerfully divisive on the subject of Brexit, which it is dead against and would like to reverse via a referendum on the final deal. This approach gives the Lib Dems the advantages of sincerity, unity and clarity, none of which can be said of Labour or the Conservatives when it comes to the EU. But becoming a one-issue party—a sort of UK Independence Party for Remainers—has risks, not least alienating the 17m people who voted for Brexit.
Bold policies in other areas, such as raising income tax to fund the National Health Service, give the party something else to talk about. In 29 of these, it was the Conservatives who beat them. But translating local success into a national breakthrough is not easy, as the Lib Dems have long known. Two-party politics has returned.
Why on Earth would we want to do that? Is it in fact so that London would retain the power to drag us into more illegal wars? So that they could keep their vanity seat, with its accompanying power of veto, on the UN Security Council? To allow them to declare, in our name , unconditional support for the Israeli government even as it commits war crimes and crimes against humanity by indiscriminately targeting civilian areas and killing children?