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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.

At last, some glimmer of common sense has prevailed in Scottish politics - at least in the economic sense - if nothing else.

Well done, Neil. Keep up the good fight of faith and never give up your principles.


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