Tuesday, January 09, 2007
The letter from Iain McMillan of CBI Scotland delineating the constitutional powers of Scotland was interesting. I agree with him that Holyrood could do far more to help economic growth (over the last 8 years its "contribution" has been a massive increase in regulation, a masive increase in the state sector & increased business rates, the latter being very slowly removed)) without going for corporation tax cuts. Nonetheless in criticising George Lyon for calling for such cuts he gives no actual reason why they should not also be made. If small moves, such as business rate cuts, will do a little good surely big actions are likely to do a lot. Certainly the case in Ireland, which he does not mention, is that corporation tax & regulatory cuts have lead to 16 years of 7% growth transforming them into one of the wealthiest countries in the world even ahead of the USA. Mr McMillan gives no reason why we cannot do the same & neither, it appears, can anybody else. So lets do something.This is the first time any newspaper, except the Glasgow West End Times, has reported my expulsion. I did include references to the previous Herald letters & their role in my expulsion when sending in this letter. It will be interesting to see if anybody in the party is willing to write in & defend their position - from previous experience I suspect not.
It is also good to see a Lib Dem MSP calling for corporation tax cuts. Such a change of heart is welcome, if barely credible. It is only a year since I was expelled from the Lib Dems for the political incorrectness of having had letters published in Scottish newspapers, including the Herald, calling for such corporation tax cuts & also for replacing our aging nuclear reactors. before the lights go out. The party executive unanimously voted that such positions were "to right wing" to even be discussed & "illiberal". Could it be that there is an election coming up?
9% Growth Party
This is also the first occasion when a newspaper has used the 9% Growth Party name in the address.
I am distinctly pleased with this letter since, with the exception of Yugoslavia, it touches most of my bases.
The CBI boss, Mr McMillan, has regularly appeared in letters opposing the question of corporation tax cuts & generally saying what a good job our traditional political leaders are doing. The problem with the CBI is that it is a group of established businessmen who enjoy a very cosy relationship with all governments. They quite actively do not rock the boat in a way which more entrepreneurial entrepreneurs would. This is unfortunate & a sign of something approaching crony capitalism.
Here is the original Herald article in which george lyon describes their conversion to liberalism.
At present, Scottish ministers set just one tax - business rates. Council tax is set by local authorities, and everything else is set at Westminster.
The LibDems want Holyrood to set at least corporation tax, income tax and inheritance tax.
George Lyon, deputy finance minister, said the increasingly bitter war of words between Labour and the SNP presented a "false choice" to voters between separation and the status quo. "We believe there is a middle way: more fiscal and legis-lative powers for the parliament to allow us to become a strong federal state, enabling us to become the new California."
He said Scotland could learn how to boost the economy from Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Golden State. Rich in creative and hi-tech industries, its 36 million residents have made it the sixth-largest economy in the world but it has remained part of a larger union.
"While the SNP cite the Isle of Man as their ambition for the economic future of Scotland, the Scottish Liberal Democrats would cite California. Californians don't need independence from the US to deliver economic growth and neither does Scotland.
"Scottish business doesn't want the uncertainty of Alex Salmond's separate state. They do want a thriving, ambitious economy."
The LibDem MSP for Argyll & Bute intends to put the proposal for more fiscal powers in the LibDem election manifesto.
"Scotland clearly has the potential to learn from California in the kinds of industries we want to see growing and developing, and in becoming a sustainable, high-growth economy."
Scottish businesses could tap into the experience and ambition of American's west coast by twinning with firms through Chambers of Commerce.
I happen to know that, shortly before I was expelled, a Lib Dem MSP was putting around a paper on further devolution for Scotland which included devolution of almost all taxes WITH THE EXCEPTION of corporation tax. The justification for this was not given.
The reaction of Jim Mather, SNP enterprise spokesman to this deathbed conversion was
Jim Mather, the SNP Shadow Enterprise Minister, gave a wry welcome to Mr Lyon's acceptance of the need for new powers, but said it was a pity it had taken the LibDems eight years to be forced into a change of heart.Iain McMillan's letter is here.
"However, Mr Lyon prefers to create a fantasy that Scotland could readily emulate California, when it would be much easier and more rewarding to emulate Norway, Iceland or Ireland who are among the most successful, most prosperous and the best places to live in the world according to the United Nations.
"After eight years of rudderless government, Mr Lyon would better serve his cause by producing a credible alternative."