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Popcorn Time

I've gone dark again on the blog because I'm still wrestling with the space opera that refuses to die (it's due out in July 2018, instead of your regular scheduled Laundry Files novel, so getting it ready for my editors is climbing my priority list). Meanwhile, if I was blogging, I'd be blogging about the high political drama of the past week in the UK.

First, rumors began spreading that, with the Brexit Bill passing parliament and due to get the Royal Asset this Thursday, Theresa May is planning to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty before the end of the month. (Great timing, that: right on the fiftieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.) Jumping the gun a little bit, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention of seeking a second Scottish independence referendum during the Brexit negotiations. This, predictably, provoked an angry reaction from the Prime Minister, who had hitherto been utterly ignoring Scottish, Northern Irish, Welsh, and other regional requests for some input on the process: a second independence referendum would be divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time for Britain said a spokesman for the woman trying to implement divisive policies causing huge economic uncertainty as the result of a referendum question (which Scotland comprehensively rejected).

Negotiations with Scotland are still possible, it seems, but it looks as if Sturgeon has a game plan and is playing at a much higher level than the Conservative Cabinet in London, who are so feckless that they hadn't bothered with contingency planning for what to do if they can't strike a trade deal with the EU despite having isolated themselves diplomatically and pissed off the people they'll have to negotiate with from a position of weakness.

This time round, the referendum (I'm calling it a near certainty that there'll be one: the only real question is whether it'll be before or after Britain exits the EU in, probably, April 2019) is going to be rather interesting. There's a sharp demographic split between young and old in Scotland, with support for leaving the UK at 72% in the 16-24 age range (who get to vote, if they want to) and as low as 26% among the over-65s (pensioners, who do vote). Overall, support for independence per the Social Attitudes survey is at its highest ever level, and still climbing: probably a more accurate view of the picture than snapshot polls commissioned by the news media.

The arguments are different, too. Scotland's economic outlook today looks a lot bleaker than it did in 2014, and that's not good: but the big factor that swayed voters to the "remain" camp back then—better the devil you know than the devil you don't—has been shattered by the spectacle of the lunatic fringe of the Conservative party in full Brexit hue and cry. There are sucky economic prospects in both directions. Meanwhile, Scotland is increasingly out of step with England on a political and cultural level, but pretty typical of the rest of Northern Europe: if anything it's England that's the weird outlier. The question is, which shit sandwich is less unpalatable? England seems set on driving off a cliff; should Scotland ride along in the passenger seat or take its chances elsewhere?

Meanwhile, the IndyRef campaigning can't not start during the Brexit negotiations—arguably, it has already unofficially started: it's certainly going to dominate political debate in Scotland for the next couple of years—so the government in Westminster will be put in the impossible position of simultaneously defending the right of a nation to leave a larger federation, regardless of the economic and social uncertainty this causes, while opposing exactly that position in another context.

This of course assumes that we're looking at a two-way Prisoner's Dilemma game. Obviously, we're not: it's a 27-going-on-28-way game (Sturgeon has implicitly dealt herself a hand of cards at the table) and it's going to be interesting to see whether the various EU members decide to use Scotland as a club to beat Westminster with, or if Westminster positions Scotland as its cherished sickly child in a cynical game of Munchausen's Syndrome By Proxy. And of course we can expect lots of FUD rhetoric about how Scotland will have to reapply for EU membership and go to the back of the queue (clue: there is no queue—nations seeking membership proceed independently of one another).

If I didn't live here, it'd be hilarious! Except I live here and Brexit has so far devalued my savings and pension assets by, oh, about 20%, and I stand to lose another 20% on top as Sterling loses its unofficial status as the EU's reserve currency after the Euro, because the brainless flag-frotting morons on the Conservative back benches think that they can go back to the rosy days of the 1920s with some batshit plan to build Empire 2.0 out of the former Commonwealth (Planet Earth calling: the Commonwealth only put up with us 'cause we were a gateway to the EU: as an imperial power we were no less hated and loathed than all the rest) and rule the world by exporting tea, jam, and biscuits (US: cookies).

So I'm putting my head down and working for the rest of the day. At least I mostly get paid in US dollars, and President Tantrum hasn't (yet) managed to crash the greenback.

(Final: moderation note: Greg Tingey, I'm banning you from commenting on this topic because I know your opinions on Scottish independence and your grasp on the reality of what it's like up here (hint: in the nation I've lived in for over two decades) is so bizarrely warped that I don't think you're capable of contributing anything worthwhile to the discussion. Sorry. You're not banned from the rest of the blog; just here.)

633 Comments

1:

Does England stil need Scotland's oil & gas and the associated revenue?
Can England afford to let go?

2:

I fully agree. You haven't mentioned the elephant in the room (i.e. the foreign interests that have been pushing Europhobia for 30 years) and the rabid wolverine in the corner that is the Irish Question. I have already moved some of my money out of the UK, am going to increase that, and am seriously thinking of buying a property in Scotland, to give me the option of alternative citizenship. No, I am not one of the very rich, but am wealthy enough to have the option; only a few percent of the UK are :-(

3:

"[S]o the government in Westminster will be put in the impossible position of simultaneously defending the right of a nation to leave a larger federation, regardless of the economic and social uncertainty this causes, while opposing exactly that position in another context."

I believe the term is "hoisted on your own petard". It's not like Sturgeon didn't warn Westminster that she'd pursue Indyref 2.0. While not an ideal solution, the direction the May government is going may well make deserting the sinking ship Scotland's best option.

If Brexit doesn't start a string of exits from the EU, it seems likely the German and French economies underpinning the Euro will give that currency staying power. The dollar is up (over .91) on the Euro now; have you considered moving some of your investments in that direction?

4:

It's almost all already been spent, mainly on bread and circuses, and fat cat food.

5:

Revenue has been dropping because the North sea is in terminal decline and oil prices low. Now would be an ideal time to get rid of Scotland.

The other issue is, why join the EU if it is run in the interest of bankers, with austerity for all? Especially off the current outbreak of nationalism carries on and is nurtured by elites for distractive purposes, as it is in the USA.

6:

Agree on the likely Commonwealth reaction to Empire 2.0, especially here in Australia. With the exception of a few conservative nutters like previous PM Tony Abbott, the general position is that England has little relevance (one of the reason he was dropped was knighting Prince Charles!). It may even be enough for the Republican movement to restart and succeed this time (which the current PM was the champion of last time). We can only live in hope.

7:

Add to this picture the possibility/likelihood of a financial crash in the next 2 years and one could imagine all sorts of crazy outcomes.

I'm hearing commentators say that the Fed is planning to raise interest rates so they have some levers to pull when the next crash happens. Debt has continued to grow - not least in the UK. What happens if there's a crash while the UK (or whatever's left of it) is finalizing the terms of Brexit? What if the crash happens in the Eurozone (e.g. the Italian banking sector implodes)? Will Scotland adopt a (weakened) Euro, or retain the pound (and become expensive when exporting to the Eurozone)?

8:

I frankly don't see what any of the former Commonwealth states gain from a continuing association with the UK, apart from sentimentality. Australia, Canada and New Zealand have carved out distinct identities globally and in their geographic neighborhoods; none of their economies seem dependent on UK trade. Am I missing something?

Of course, I'm the descendant of multiple generations of traitors to the Crown, so that might color my perceptions.

9:

Probably not, to be honest. But the alternative is to quite literally set the UK on a slippery slope towards full-blown civil war, and we can afford that even less.

10:

It does seem likely that some of the other EU member states would want to make things awkward for Scotland, namely Spain since they really really don't want to encourage their own separatists to try a similar plan.

You're right about the economic outlook, with oil prices in the toilet Scotland would have a lot of fresh economic problems.

I am sometimes surprised at how... oblivious many english people are to the attitude towards the UK in many countries that were formerly part of the empire.

"But they should be so grateful, the empire built railroads and sewers and schools...."

"And murdered non-trivial fractions of the entire population"

The UK is not terribly popular in many corners of the globe.

11:

Australia is in the weird position that the queen of England is our head of state, represented through the Governor General. We gain zero value from this, but the cost of an extra layer of bureaucracy and footing the costs of any Royal tours.

It's an ultra conservative rump that has held us back from cutting this cord.

The strange thing is we seem to assume that anyone from the Old Country is important, for example Mel B (Scary Spice) has become quite big here, where she seems to have been forgotten in the UK.

12:

I understand Canada has much the same relationship, complete with Governor General, but no doubt with some differences. I have no idea of the formal relationship of New Zealand to England.

Us USAians are quite fond of citizens of other English-speaking countries (we're generally too lazy to be usefully bilingual). We're more than happy to hire your actors away, for example. Our attitude to English royalty, though, probably falls somewhere between "ooh, shiny" and "how quaint".

13:

The past two years have been increasingly bizarre. At least you can't say politics is dull now.

The argument about supporting Brexit while opposing Independence works both ways. How can you support a nation leaving a union to have more legal and financial control, yet want to remain a full member of a body that takes away those things? Especially since it's pretty clear an independent Scotland would have to join the Euro. Outlying areas of geographically huge and diverse economies will suffer, whether you're Scotland to London or Greece to Germany.

You mention the lack of a plan if talks fail...true, and the carryings on of the current government don't impress me much. But then, the same is true of both Camerons conservatives and most of the left. Where was their contingency for leaving? The result was always in the balance. Imagine if labour had unveiled their plan on June 24th, they'd be in office within a week. There was a huge amount of support for leaving among labour voters and constituencies, why were their MPs caught napping? Sturgeon was the only politician who looked even vaguely competent post referendum.

Currently what little opposition there is seems more bothered about discarding the result than dealing with it. I've found it a touch ironic too that the House of Lords, which the left have generally wanted abolished, is now being championed.

Possible conspiracy theory-May et al were on the remain side pre referendum. Maybe the current fuck-ups are deliberate, to ensure no viable deal happens and we never leave?

15:

About "right to leave"... Learn from East Europe. Agreeing with that right always depends on one politicians interests. Russia defends Crimea right to separate from Ukraine but it does not recognize independent Kosovo. On other hand most of western world acknowledged independent Kosovo but refuses to give that right to Republika Srpska. Looking at EE history i am afraid that in post Brexit world any attempts about Scottish independence will be faced with hypocrisy and violence. Economic downfall, nationalism and separation are great ingredients for violence. Learn from Balkan - do not make same mistakes.

16:

A foreign and neutral (in the local sense) head of state (and even court of last appeal) are non-trivial obstacles to the rise of a Mungabe or Erdogan, and that is why some (mainly small) countries are keen to retain the situation; it is also why many prime ministers are keen to abolish it. New Zealand is like Canada or New Zealand, though considerably less in thrall to the USA.

17:

On a Comedy note:

I came across one workaround/hack for Scotland to re-enter the EU faster.

Scotland votes out, immediately declares war on Ireland then immediately surrenders conditional on being annexed by ireland.

Of course it's ridiculous and wouldn't work but it gave me a mild chuckle.

18:

Possible conspiracy theory-May et al were on the remain side pre referendum. Maybe the current fuck-ups are deliberate, to ensure no viable deal happens and we never leave?

I have entertained that hypothesis ... but I think it errs on the side of expecting Machiavellian tactical genius, where the alternative—gross stupidity and incompetence—has equally strong explanatory power (and is a whole lot commoner).

19:

Seen from "my side" of the water, the show looks quite good so far, I think that Brexit and (Erdogan losing whatever mind he once allegedly had) will actually end up benefiting the EU and EU citizens in many ways.

Nothing motivates and unifies like a popular common threat, which is now Turkey and more x-Exit. After Brexit, England will be barred from it's usual game of sabotaging any social dimension or financial regulation whatsoever going through Brussels "From Harming Business" so, perhaps, with SPD finally able to put the fork into Frau Merkel, some actual progress is perhaps finally possible. Yay!

Now, I don't like the EU much as it is, but, I do believe that it can be improved upon and I believe that the EU has much better odds of improvement than my own nation-state.

Seeing the idiotic, selfish, policies of the moronic, malignant, misfits who are in power now and then also having to put up with the entirely useless "opposition" said to replace them - but not their policies. Gaaark!

20:

The UK has been acting as a fifth column for the USA military-industrial complex within the EU, and Germany adopted monetarism only in order to compete with the UK. God alone knows what is going to happen in Europe, but it won't be pretty, as Darko Djordjevic says. I have been describing the UK as the Puerto Rico of the north for a couple of decades now; when the UK (or, perhaps, England) leaves, I doubt that it will remain even that independent.

21:

How about a Celtic union?

Why on Earth would Scotland want to bear the millstone that is Northern Ireland?

The Republic of Ireland, despite having a constitutional commitment to unification, doesn't (in practice) want that!

22:

On the other hand, May always was a rabid Brexiteer, because she can't stand being constrained by courts outside her control. Her 'support' for remaining was solely to damn the EU with faint praise.

23:

I'm immediately reminded of "The Mouse That Roared" ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053084/?ref_=nv_sr_1 ), a fine Peter Sellers farce.

24:

Re the House of Lords, that was what happened during the dark days of that Welsh windbag (Pillock?), but they had more spine then because of the hereditary element, which is why Bliar effectively abolished that aspect.

25:

Oil

Right about now "North Sea Oil" is in decline yes. However, "North Atlantic Oil" (West of Orkney and Shetland, and down the West coast from Cape Wrath to about the Rockall bank) is in an exploration and development phase, and there's not only a question about HC as fuels, but also about their use as feedstocks for our plastics-based technologies.

As well as NSO, I think Middle-East Oil is declining, which may (long term will) limit the ability of OPEC to market manipulate.

Indyref 2
Well, IMO failing to vote "yes" in Indyref 1 was a mistake. So was voting Brexit. That said, the reason that I believe that Indyref 2 is acceptable at this time is that the "vote no" lobby in Indyref 1 said explicitly "The only way that Scotland can remain part of the EU is by voting against independence".

27:

Scotland votes out, immediately declares war on Ireland then immediately surrenders conditional on being annexed by ireland.

Not gonna happen, because ... (taking it seriously for a moment comic effect) ...

Ireland has a (constitutionally-backed) ban on abortion. Ireland's politics is dominated by elderly white Catholic males, even though the ban is extremely unpopular among the young, female, and non-religious (now an outright majority) and is illegal per the ECHR.

Scotland ... most of our political parties are run by women aged under 50; two-thirds of them are LGBT, and they're not generally a promising audience for anti-abortion campaigners or conservative Catholic clergymen. Also, the population at large is 50% "no religion"; Catholics make up a minority (16%) of the total, and dropped 20% over the decade prior to the last census.

Ireland annexes Scotland: great, at the next election, there'd be a sharp turn to the left and Fianna Fail and Fianna Gael would be out of office for good and abortion legalized within weeks. Or Ireland annexes Scotland: abortion outlawed in Scotland.

I see no way either of these outcomes is acceptable to the political leaders of either nation.

28:

Para 1 - Probably true, for the reason noted.

Para 2 - Disagree long-term; see #25 section 1.

Paras 3 - 6 inclusive:- You can also make this play as Scotland's attitude towards England, which I'm basing partly on history, and partly on attitudes shown by my Scottish born but English domicled female relatives.

29:

Yeah, Ireland annexing Scotland gives me the heebie jeebies. I grew up in two increasingly anti-abortion (and generally anti-human rights) countries, and the thought of being unwillingly forced to reside in a third is utterly terrifying.

Being of child-bearing age with a (presumably) working uterus probably also plays a role.

30:

And #17 - Well, except that to follow the film plot (look you watch this as a comedy, not as a drama but anyway possible spoiler)...
-
-
-
-
This would require Scotland to declare war on Ireland, and Ireland to promptly surrender subject to annexation!

31:

The economic case for SCEXIT looks bad according to David Smith in the Times based on data from GERS. But Sturgeon has probably forced May to defer INDYREF2 past conclusion of the final BREXIT terms so more than 2 years out. And that will be worth a lot of percentage points for SCEXIT.

Looks like another heart vs head referendum to me - impossible to predict the outcome - but the campaign will be uglier than last time.

32:

Actually it's looking like the 8th is likely to get repealed.
paddypower is offering 1/4 that the vote will remove it.

Nitpick: the ECHR ruled that Ireland had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to provide an accessible and effective procedure by which a woman can have established whether she qualifies for a legal abortion under current Irish law

The distinction tends to get garbled when talked about on blogs etc.

33:

It does seem likely that some of the other EU member states would want to make things awkward for Scotland, namely Spain since they really really don't want to encourage their own separatists to try a similar plan.

That's a common argument made by the anti-independence side, but it doesn't fly. The Spanish have been saying since 2012 that if Scotland became independent in accordance with UK constitutional laws, Spain would not try to block EU membership. That's recently been reiterated http://thenational.scot/news/15149387.Spanish_MEP_from_ruling_party__We_won_t_veto_Scotland_s_EU_membership/ (caveat: pro independence source)

But logically, in the current position of Hard Brexit on the table, Spain might lean favourably to Scottish EU membership for simple self interest. Currently the Spanish fishing fleet does a lot of fishing in UK waters. With Hard Brexit, that access vanishes, which will be costly; the bulk of those waters are Scottish, so if Scotland remains in / rejoins the EU, that removes the current threat of exclusion, maintaining Spain's status quo more or less.

As to the EU states as a whole, a Scotland which wishes to be an independent EU member gives them a huge advantage to any meaningful negotiations with Westminister, and if there are no such meaningful negotiations support Scotland (a) mitigates the unity impact of a nation leaving the EU - look we've still got the same number of states - and (b) gives "punishment" against a fUK who refused to play nice.

Of course if Westminster were to genuinely try to negotiate a win/win settlement with the EU, the EU states would be a lot less supportive of Scottish independence, but that would imply a level of competency at Westminister which has so far been conspicious in its absence (see OGH's examples and anything else David Davis has ever done).

34:

I see the English media are playing up the number of people they claim voted for both independence and BrExit as a problem for the SNP, but I would have thought that if you wanted a second referendum then voting for BrExit was the way to get it. Too convoluted ?

It would be nice if this time around more attention is given to all of the non-SNP groups supporting independence, but I'm not holding my breath - actually I'm anticipating a whole new level of dirty tricks from a government that would do literally anything rather than having to tell the queen they'd broken the union.

35:

"If I didn't live here, it'd be hilarious!" - I keep saying this a lot too, living in Hungary at the moment.

36:

"At least you can't say politics is dull now"

It's that old chinese curse again...

Seriously though, we could do with effective opposition that tries to argue in the interests of the country that didn't vote for the current government (i.e. that would be almost all of us).

The SNP are the closest thing to a proper opposition, but mostly they lack experience or interest in how Westminster works. Also their (understandable) territorial restriction to Scotland works against them being reported outside Scotland much.

I'd quite like to see a couple of things in the UK as a whole (which might work against an IndyRef2 campaign):
a) some credible suggestions on how to make Brexit work (it's clear that it's happening anyway, so let's see someone trying constructively to soften the blow);
b) effective opposition that sticks it to the government so that it makes them think about what they propose and ensure that they've got a robust defence for it if they get challenged (unlike the NIC changes that have just been rolled back).

I didn't get to vote on IndyRef because I live in England, but if Scotland votes Yes to IndyRef2 then I'm moving back there. I have a proposal for how to build and run the Scottish Passport Service.

37:

I was not aware of that statement. While it looks like it's non-binding, a statement from a party member not the leadership but it does make it much less likely they'd oppose Scotland.

Thanks for that.

38:

That's far from surprising; the quoted statement was never repeated in the Scottish media (well, except possibly for an issue of "Scotland on Sunday" or "The Sunday Herald" that I didn't buy).

39:

a) some credible suggestions on how to make Brexit work (it's clear that it's happening anyway, so let's see someone trying constructively to soften the blow)

Maybe like the suggestions made by the Scottish Government in their Brexit document? HTML copy http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/12/9234/0

While it is centred on Scotland, many of the mitigations suggested could be applied on a UK wide basis. Of course it's May & Co's refusal to even discuss this at all which has led to ScotRef.

I didn't get to vote on IndyRef because I live in England, but if Scotland votes Yes to IndyRef2 then I'm moving back there. I have a proposal for how to build and run the Scottish Passport Service.

Why wait? Come on up now, and you can campaign/vote in the referendum and get automatic citizenship if the result is for independence.

40:

I have the same opinion, living in Finland...

41:

The only way I can make sense of this is that May actually wants Scottish independence. Because the way she is treating the issue seems to be calculated to cause enough offence that people vote leave just to avoid being treated like that.

(I'm English, lived in Scotland for a long time but moved to England before the last referendum. I'd have voted strongly against last time: post brexit referendum I'd have voted for, I'm now wondering if I should move to Scotland so I can vote for. Regardless, I don't want to be in England any more.)

42:

I would have thought that if you wanted a second referendum then voting for BrExit was the way to get it. Too convoluted ?

Definitely. If Scotland had gone for Brexit, there would be no basis for a second independence referendum.

43:

Turnerss @6 -- Nitpick: Abbott knighted Prince Philip, not Charles, which was even more absurdly redundant, as Philip already rejoices in scores of titles, including Ethiopia's Knight Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of the Queen of Sheba.

You can't beat a Knight Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of the Queen of Sheba.

Dave P @8 -- I frankly don't see what any of the former Commonwealth states gain from a continuing association with the UK, apart from sentimentality.

You're right that the anglophile, white picket fence, little England fantasists of the monarchist right in Australia are misty eyed. But their sense of hurt when England turned its back on the Empire to join the EU was real. This wittering piece is by Australian establishment politician Alexander Downer:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/17/australia-wounded-britain-joined-eu-now-can-make-things-right/

The right's refusal to accept that Australia is in Asia is more than just a fantasy, though. The idea of the Anglosphere has deep roots in conservative thought in the white, English speaking world, including the US, and is given concrete expression in things like the five-eyes alliance. This is what you get when policy is run by paranoid right wingers who want to deal with the right sort of chap.

Ie., white.

Who speak English, old bean.

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/02/rise-anglosphere-how-right-dreamed-new-conservative-world-order

44:

Australia is not in Asia; it's on a completely different plate!

(O/T, but most of the population of Russia is in Europe since the European and Asian plates meet at the Ural mountains, but it can be awkward trying to convince Russians of this.)

45:

"so the government in Westminster will be put in the impossible position of simultaneously defending the right of a nation to leave a larger federation, regardless of the economic and social uncertainty this causes, while opposing exactly that position in another context."

And the government in Edinburgh will be in the same position - advocating leaving a union with much more value to it in pursuit of a block with much less.

46:

England is looking less like a place I actually want to live every day. This is not to say there aren't an awful lot of far, far *worse* places because there are, but, well, lets just say Not My First Choice these days, and not just for the weather.

A 4-bed detached with a garage and a half-decent amount of garden in a town an hour by direct train from Liverpool Street would appear to worth enough to buy something quite pleasant in some quite pleasant places North of the border but sadly an increasingly frail, recently widowed Mother-in-Law makes selling up and making a run for more enlightened parts while I still can a difficult proposition...

47:
Possible conspiracy theory-May et al were on the remain side pre referendum. Maybe the current fuck-ups are deliberate, to ensure no viable deal happens and we never leave?

Eh, she claimed to be on the remain side, but in reality she was just keeping her head down whilst her colleagues were busy playing musical backstabbing and as a result has ended up in the number one spot. She clearly has some political nous.

Putting the clowns in charge of the brexit negotiations certainly appeared to be a clever move... watch the top pro-leave folk utterly fuck things up and then call the whole farce off, or at least re-evaluate things and wait til the next general election or something, right?

Alas, xenophobic authoritarians gotta xenophobically, uh, authorise, and it seems like May's hatred of foreign people has made her side with the clowns. If there was any machivellian cunning in there once, it has long gone now. It isn't clear that there's anything like a viable deal, but we're gonna drive off the cliff anyway, because there aren't any immigrants in the smouldering wreckage at the bottom and that's what's really important.

48:

I think all this is crediting May with far more integrity and commitment to *anything* than she deserves...

For my money (which as the payer of non-trivail amounts of UK tax it is) TM is and always has been on the side of whatever looked like propelling her to the highest office most quickly...

49:

There's a kosher joke in there somewhere, but I can't come up with one right now.

I'm hoping the next color revolution will be a beige counterrevolution; the splotches we're seeing right now are just ugly.

50:

So from my murky view from the western side of the big pond, as I understand things.

France will have a new president by May 7, 2017 at the latest. This is way before Brexit really gets started. Ditto anything concrete about the long term status of Scotland.

If Marine Le Pen is the new French president, what does that mean for Brexit, Scotland, and the direction of the EU in general?

51:

Though if said frail mother-in-law is also willing to relocate, care costs in Scotland considerably lower that in England at present - only need to pay for accomodation, not care.

Whether that would continue to be the case in the future is another question, but past policy would indicate it to be more likely to remain cheaper than England.

Realistically, Scotland IS going to face an extended period of austerity, the only question being whether that is to comply with Tory doctrine, or to build up an independent economy for the future.

52:
For my money (which as the payer of non-trivail amounts of UK tax it is) TM is and always has been on the side of whatever looked like propelling her to the highest office most quickly...

Oh, I don't disagree. Its just that now she's got the top job, her actions seem to be rather less in the interests of cultivating her own personal power, and rather more about indulging in a bit of good old foreigner-bashing and american-arselicking in the grand old conservative tradition.

53:

If Marine Le Pen is the new French president, what does that mean for Brexit, Scotland, and the direction of the EU in general?

Marine Le Pen was saying last year that she'd take France out of the EU.

My understanding is that since the Brexit clown-car got under way she's been backing away, muttering "nope, not going there" under her breath.

She's still an odious fascist, though, so it's hard to see whether the EU would survive her accession to the Elysee Palace.

Also of note: the Dutch election today. Is Geert Wilders going to end up as PM (yet another odious right-wing racist shitebag)? Or not? Looks like there's an unexpectedly high turn-out so far (80-85% by some accounts).

And by October it's possible Merkel will have been replaced as Chancellor of Germany by a Social Democrat. Or not.

Who the hell knows? All that's clear is that by November the EU might be a very different thing than it is today — from a rapidly fragmenting debris cloud of angry nationalists at one extreme, to doubling down on left wing federalism at the other.

54:

Australia is not in Asia; it's on a completely different plate!

Yes, Ok. And currently undergoing Zealandia-exit.

55:

Ireland has a (constitutionally-backed) ban on abortion. Ireland's politics is dominated by elderly white Catholic males, even though the ban is extremely unpopular among the young, female, and non-religious (now an outright majority) and is illegal per the ECHR...

...Ireland annexes Scotland: great, at the next election, there'd be a sharp turn to the left and Fianna Fail and Fianna Gael would be out of office for good and abortion legalized within weeks. Or Ireland annexes Scotland: abortion outlawed in Scotland.

This is a significant misreading of the state of Irish politics. Around 80% oppose the 8th Amendment, and once the long awaited referendum comes it will be gone. Also, Fine Gael, the exemplar of the centre right have just been overtaken in the polls for the first time by Sinn Fein, who have been on an upward trajectory in the South for the last decade, and could conceivably end up as the largest party in the next election, or at least a close second to Fianna Fail.

Add in an austerity borne resurgent protest and social justice movement as exemplified by Home Sweet home and the Water protest movement, it's fair to say that Ireland is gradually tilting left.

One thing I do agree on is the current impracticality of Irish Unity, though I fear there are many in the South unwilling to accept this, in fact Fianna Fail have recently hitched their wagon to that particular horse.

56:

I'll grant you that Ireland has been sliding to the left for the past twenty years and the traditional duopoly are increasingly irrelevant. I'll stand by what I said, though, on the subject of the utterly bonkers modest proposal: a nation run by feminists of reproductive age ain't going to play well with the current state of Irish politics (even though, at street level, there's not as much of a gap between .ie and .sco as there might have been a couple of decades ago).

On another note: EU Law Analysis on Scotland, IndyRef2, and the EU. Pointing out that for an independent Scotland, going for EEA membership is both easy and a no-brainer; whether to go the rest of the distance and try for EU membership is a bit more complicated.

57:

Also, the population at large is 50% "no religion"; Catholics make up a minority (16%) of the total, and dropped 20% over the decade prior to the last census.

Most of what I know about Scottish Catholic/Protestant rivalry comes from reading Christopher Brookmyre novels. Is it still a thing for anyone other than geriatrics and football hooligans?

If so, are the two groups on opposite sides of the Scexit debate, as in NI?

58:

Yes it is and it'll take generations more to be rendered inneffective, although the last decade and more of work has greatly reduced the incidence of public outbreaks.


(Obligatory anecdote time- my dad was a policeman in West Lothian 30 and 40 years ago, and the local orange marchers made sure to march slow and loudly outside the local Catholic church. Fortunately a neighbour of the church was stables and the owner complained about the noise upsetting their horses. So my dad put in an order that they couldn't make noise within 100m of the church. So next day the bigots were out with a tape measure marking exactly where they could play again. Oddly enough the was 30m beyond the church)

59:

Well then how about declaring war on on the Faroes and surrendering immediately to Denmark? Though why go to all the trouble of becoming independent and immediately giving it away?

60:

The 'don't know' segment in these polls is not identified by size or demographic composition, and such info absolutely is available and meaningful. (Recall the impact of 'don't know' on POTUS election outcome.)

What's the general sentiment in Scotland re: UK & USA relationship? I see this at least as much of a factor as sentiment re: EU. (Recall that TMay was one of the first heads of gov't to show up at to DT's WH.) Seriously, the various parties should commission solid polls that look at who becomes the next most important trading partner for the different scenarios. And this should be done with adequate sample sizes for each of big biz (5,000+ employees or $100 million revenue*), mid-size biz and small biz, and genpop ... the reason for this is that each group would have very different concerns.

* These are arbitrary numbers because I'm not sure of the UK definitions for these segments.


Re: Britannia rules the waves

As an outsider, don't see this happening. The media (therefore the electorate) have pretty well-defined notions about various Commonwealth countries. Once a distinct identity has been established, it's pretty hard to erase it from people's memories. Ditto for any metaphors, e.g., kids leaving the parental nest: the kids might come back home for a visit from time to time, but most responsible parents would agree that kids should be living their own lives which also means that kids don't need parental meddling. There's also current politics. Canada is getting more coverage these days, mostly for its immigration/refugee policies - highly unlikely that their Prime Minister JTrudeau despite being very affable - would back down on a policy that gave him one of the largest majority governments in decades and adopt TMay's position, i.e., going from humanitarian to authoritarian.

Will be watching the Dutch election ... wonder how the Dutch WW2 survivors feel about this election.

61:

The general populace view the USA as a strange cousin with a gun fetish and no healthcare. The politicians though think it's an amazing land of milk and honey which provides a road map to success.

62:
the foreign interests that have been pushing Europhobia for 30 years
Boris Johnson?
63:

So, your politicians don't read, watch or listen to news - interesting. Are they all on FB?

Maybe 'alt-news' has been around the UK much longer than in the US: pre-test the concept on Brexit, followed by the US election.

Because of the FB impact, would like the FB org to provide a universally viewable* front/home page that shows real-time views, hits and edits - new and old posts across their site/membership. Would give everyone a better idea of who's behind various activity.

* 'Viewable' - as in I do not need to be an FB subscriber to see this info.

64:

Union/Indy and Brexit/Remain splits voters into four groups in Scotland. The slow increase in the Indy voting preference in polls over the last few months conceals a high level of churn as many voters have been switching party preference. The Unionist vote has been moving to the Conservatives and the Remain vote has been moving to the SNP and largely cancelling out.

65:

What TLD would an independent Scotland get? The S row is rather crowded....

66:

Where are you getting these Unionist who are moving to support the Con Party from? Liebour supporters moving to the Cons is less likely than turkeys voting for Christmas! ;-) Oh, wait, there's a flaw in that argument, isn't there?

67:

Don't underestimate the authoritarian xenophobes who used to vote labour because of class identity and their social welfare.

68:
the Brexit Bill passing parliament and due to get the Royal Asset this Thursday

I'm behind on Britishisms. What's THE royal asset? The crown? Or some darker innuendo?

69:

I don't know them, so I can't estimate them, never mind under-estimate them! ;-)

Serious aside; I really don't know anyone Scottish who holds a genuinely racist view (religious bigots yes, racists no).

70:

.scot is already allocated and in fact you can buy domains in it already.

71:

Royal Assent is the formal "rubber stamp" by the monarch (Scotland) / Sovereign (RUK)* that turns a passed bill into an Act of Parliament.

*NB - This difference may become very important in the next couple of years or so.

72:

You know that thing in the USA where Congress and Senate pass a bill and then POTUS signs it into existence as a law?

The Royal Assent is where you folks got that quaint custom from; it means the Crown (the source of sovereign legitimacy) has signed the Act of Parliament, making it the law of the land.

In theory Lizzie W. can refuse to give the Royal Assent to any Act placed in front of her. Unlike POTUS, however, it would be a Career Ending Move (quite possibly a dynasty-ending one — it'd trigger a constitutional crisis on the spot).

73:

I've met Scottish racists.

They're rarer than English ones, but by no means non-existent.

74:

If I didn't live here, it'd be hilarious!

Imagine the warm and fuzzies those of us watching this from NI feel. I made a comment (buried in this blog somewhere about nine months ago) that Trump and Brexit would be the worst case scenario for continued peace and prosperity in NI (and boy are those two things linked!), but failed to foresee the added cluster-fuck that the local pols would sprinkle on top of the whole mess by imploding the Northern Ireland Assembly in spectacular fashion.

To be honest, if anyone else said that they wanted NI right now, I'd be signing the entire country into the nearest psychiatric facility.

75:

"There was a huge amount of support for leaving among labour voters and constituencies"

You may be right when it comes to constituencies - I haven't looked at how the maths works out. However, Labour voters were approximately as likely to vote Leave as were SNP voters (62% remain vs 63% remain).

76:

I'd guess that was supposed to read "Royal Assent".

Final stage before a Bill becomes law. Technically can be withheld, although that would trigger a constitutional crisis.

A friend in politics calls it the Doomsday Option: the Crown (or representative) can use it once to force the government to reconsider a bill, at the cost of forcing the country to reconsider the Crown. So likely to be used only in a case that threatens the existence of the country, with one eye on the history books.

77:

The summary for Wilders is this:

Q: Will Islam-bashing Geert Wilders become prime minister?

A: If all the following statements are true he might become prime minister; if even one of them is false he certainly won’t.

1. PVV, VVD, and CDA have at least 76 seats combined.
2. A three- or four-party coalition without the PVV is impossible. (See below for more on coalitions.)
3. The PVV is larger than the VVD and the CDA.

From a proper expert on the subject, here http://www.quirksmode.org/politics/guide.html

78:

Yup, they exist. See also antiIrish sentiment, which has a long history, and there are loudmouths who say nasty things about the English. Two Englishwomen i k own have heard a lot of it over the years.

79:

And, for the occasions when you need a two-letter code, HI for Hibernia is free.

80:

I know what the Royal Assent is. I was inquiring about the Royal Asset which you mentioned. Like I said, seems by rights the most important Royal Asset is the Crown, but maybe it's England itself? :-)

81:

Sure, if you are in Ireland.
Also there aren't that many followers of the Hibees in Scotland.

82:

That WAS a senior moment, wasn't it? :-)

83:

Also, that's not how it works from a procedural standpoint. Once the UK files the Article 50 notice to leave, a two-year clock starts ticking. If there's a deal in those two years (and I believe all of the remaining EU states have to agree to the deal), then fine, the UK gets whatever the terms of the deal are. But if there is no deal, then at the the end of the two years, the UK is out of the EU with nothing to show for it.

84:

Typo.

(This keyboard is dying under me. Can't think why ...)

85:

The argument about "no deal .. never leave" assumes that once Article 50 is triggered, it's irreversible and the leaving country has to exit.

For some reason a lot of folks appear to think that May (or whoever) can say "oops, sorry, changed our mind!" and cancel it after having made everyone spend a couple of years jumping through hoops. As you note, that's not likely to happen ...

86:

The too poor part of too wee, too poor, too stupid.

87:

As a Brit living in the US, everytime I think to myself that the US has done something really crazy, the UK turns around and says "hold my beer", proceeding to top them.

It really looks like amateur hour among the UK cabinet. Almost as if they are enjoying trashing 200 years worth of expertise in nuanced diplomacy. I really don't understand why they want to be so self-destructive, and at the same time, its totally ruining the 25 years of savings I'd been gradually building up.

Still, I'm sure the US will respond back with something almost as daft in the near future, while we still have one....

88:

This is the net result of decades of beige dictatorship and, it is important to note, the activities of some small cliques of elites who want to make themselves even richer and more powerful at the expense of everyone else.

I wouldn't say the UK has 200 years of expertise of nuanced diplomacy. But the politicians in general, lacking both guts, experience and an ideology at least halfway connected to reality, and also beholden to fewer people than they used to be, are incapable of having sensible thoughts.

I'm very disappointed in the capitalist arm of the UK elite; they don't seem bothered enough by all this to actually do anything about it except move to Frankfurt or such. I had thought there was still something of a national spirit in enough of them, even given the international capitalist network that they are part of.

89:

As someone (Heseltine ?) pointed out, every parliament in the EU will have the chance to vote on any BrExit deal, except for the UK parliaments [ I guess our MPs could force a vote of no confidence instead, but that seems a tad unlikely ].
I'm not sure how the independence supporters in Scotland are going to get their message across; they know how most of the UK media will behave and this time they should also expect a full scale assault via the internet.

90:

UK ex-pat in New Zealand here.

The formal relationship is simple - the Queen is head of state of New Zealand, which means approximately nothing. There's a minor independence movement here, but no one cares. We don't even care enough to bother going through the motions of becoming independent.

As for exports and the prospect of the UK reinventing a 1920s-style Empire 2.0. Haha no you are kidding, right? Back then, the UK was 80% of our exports. Now you're 3%. We are too busy exporting to China (20%), Australia (16%), and the US (9%). And the rest of SE Asia. The UK just isn't a bit deal for us any more.

Obvs, if the UK wants to resign the Ottowa Agreement from 1932 and provide the dominions zero-duty on agricultural exports then we might be keener, coz Europe still protects its own farmers from having to compete in a fair and unbiased global marketplace. Then again, is the Tory party going to screw over every farmer in England and take away their implicit and explicit subsidies? Coz then half of English farmers go bankrupt straight away and the entire economic basis of the Shires changes drastically from picturesque country-side to... I don't know, more golf courses or anything that will actually make a profit?

Of course they're not going to let that happen, despite all the rhetoric about free trade.

Anyway, we've already free trade agreements with China, Oz, and half of SE Asia, so yeah nah not too fussed bro, as they say around these parts

91:

Late to the conversation as usual. I was out in the superbloom.

Non sequitur: I was just showing my wife some clips from the old Ghost In The Shell anime, to show her why I'm not that interested in the live action remake. Yes, it's one of those thankless tasks. Anyway, I felt a brief wave of nostalgia for the old cyberpunk stories.

Not to derail this discussion, but the politicians and megacorps in cyberpunk were somehow so much more...competent, thoughtful even, than the ones we're getting as we hit our real cyberpunk future. Only a few of the cyberpunk authors even guessed at teh crazy that we're seeing now.

I guess reality is so much stranger than fiction.

Anyway, I haven't anything useful to say about Brexit at the moment, except that the global equivalents of the Baby Boomers and the Gen Xers really are seem to be the most incompetent rulers our planet has seen in the last 100 years. Sucks to be us, I guess. Hope Little Old England gets to be merry or something after this.

92:

the global equivalents of the Baby Boomers and the Gen Xers really are seem to be the most incompetent rulers our planet has seen in the last 100 years.

I read this WaPo article a couple weeks ago, We thought Gen X was a bunch of slackers. Now they're the suits. When I shared it elsewhere I said that I can't stand my generation, almost as much as the fact that I'm old enough to be in it. Hope the world doesn't get so screwed up that the Millennials can't fix it.

93:

Re: '..the global equivalents of the Baby Boomers and the Gen Xers really are seem to be the most incompetent rulers our planet has seen in the last 100 years.'


Serious question:

Given the rise of not-for-profits over the same time span (since WW1), are we seeing too great a differentiation of people into jobs/careers whose roles are deliberately kept separate, i.e., those who care about humanity go to work in NFPs while those seeking power/fame/prestige go into politics - and neither for some reason can interfere with/question the other almost like a 'gentleman's agreement? Or, like the rise of the church apart from, for now, no massive scandals with NFPs ... excepting the excessive CEO salaries for some Red Cross groups in the US.

There do seem to be more lines drawn as to who can or cannot go into politics - lawyers, biz types - self-made and heirs - dominate in the US. No idea whether this is similar in the UK. But if yes, then this reduces the chances for all other types of folk of ever getting into gov't, and makes the entire notion of gov't even more removed. Does the UK still have any 'guilds' - if yes, what authority/powers do they have? The US only has 'trades' and unions have been dying for over 30 years, so the blue collar sector has very little power any more.

BTW - I reject the idea that 'boomers and Xers are complete failures' everywhere - know plenty who give a damn and are doing something positive.

94:

BTW - I reject the idea that 'boomers and Xers are complete failures' everywhere - know plenty who give a damn and are doing something positive.

That's why I used the word "rulers." There are a bunch of systemic problems, though.

For instance, we middle class Xers and boomers have grown up as consumers, in an exponentially increasing time of resource consumption. Even if we recognize intellectually this is wrong, most of us don't have the emotional knowledge that it's possible to live other ways, and our bodies aren't even adapted to these other ways, which is why, for instance, poor immigrants do so much of the hard labor our parents and grandparents actually did for a living. The result of this is that we're more likely to conceive of robot farm workers (because it's hard work, why should people suffer) than to want to rejigger society so that such work is seen as meaningful and worth being compensated for (through that non-starter of higher food prices. We're consumers, after all. Cheap is better). We're also far, far, too likely to try to exile problems to poor and/or rural towns, rather than deal with them (although I don't think this was new to boomers).

For another, we've gotten very good at hacking our own systems, whether it be mountain bikers systematically tearing apart parks set aside to preserve little remnants of nature, or financial corporations hacking politics, or manufacturers hacking human desires to make their products as addictive as possible, under the rubric of "brand loyalty." I agree that in many ways this is the street finding its own uses for Godel's incompleteness theorem, but the problem is, we haven't gotten very good at all at stopping the hacking, and that makes it...awkward to keep this place together. Civilization is always breaking down, and it keeps going because people keep finding fixes for the problems. The idea that we can scrap it and go onto shiny new civilization 2.0 is really a core meme of our two generations.

I could go on, but the big problem is that there are too many of us. Far worse, we've tried to demonstrate that consumption can take the place of things like religion as the opiate of the masses. It does look incredibly appealing, but unfortunately our planet can't support 10 billion people living at a European middle class level, let alone at the White American Middle Class level of the 1950s that so many people look back at so nostalgically. Worse, despite the very real efforts of individual Boomers and Xers to make a difference, our dark sides have proven far more appealing and powerful than our aspirations.

Speaking of which: Brexit. Why did England vote for this again? Because they wanted their beloved Queen to be forced to preside over the devolution of the British Empire from the mighty, world spanning behemoth that grew under Victoria to a couple of little countries on the edge of Europe, exporting crumpets and cheese? That's a good thing to do to someone you "love," is it not?

95:

Please don't leave us with them guys - what happens to sanity if we don't have the majority reasonable parts of the country...

96:

The GERs figures are widely criticised as being inaccurate and biased (they were deliberately designed by a Tory government to make independence look bad). Just one of many interesting features is that they include a pro rata share of the costs of maintaining nuclear weapons, something an independent Scotland would not have. For a purely accounting viewpoint of the faults in the data


more-on-why-gers-might-properly-be-called-crap-data

97:

Sarcastic question, but I can't resist: Has anyone started calling the pro-Brexiters "cheddarheads?" If not, why not? It's less sexist than crumpetbrains, at least by a bit.

98:

There isn't "a" reason why Britain voted for it (although the lunatic fringe of the Tory party and UKIP would have you believe it's for hard Brexit and to make Britain great again and so on).

Among the reasons we've clearly had enunciated are: to gain control over immigration, to get out of the ECHR (which is not the same as the EU but who cares about trivial details like that), to say "fuck you" to Callmedave and Gideon on the grounds that the Leave vote was never going to win so it was just a protest (those that voted for this got half of their wish at least), because they were stupid and believed the "£350m/w we send to Europe to spend on the NHS" big fat lie. That's not reasons from politicians, that's reasons (which some colour commentary) that vox pops have revealed. There were undoubtedly others too, some of the more racist elements tone down their views when they're about to interviewed for the radio, and they're out there, but it's not clear how many of them there are - although it's clear they're out there.

99:

It might not be necessary for their to be a vote of no confidence. If enough Tory MP die (it's not many) she could just lose the confidence of the house anyway.

100:

Or if the various electoral spending investigations have the right/wrong result.

101:

we're more likely to conceive of robot farm workers (because it's hard work, why should people suffer)

Not a new problem.

http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/ref/collection/p16614coll23/id/385

102:

I think dear old Madam May had a burning ambition to get to the top, which she's achieved, but like the last-but-one holder of the office is not actually very good at it. In her previous job she could be a martinet without problems. But she's basically bullying everyone around her and clinging on to power when some smart people are saying "You should call a snap election now" (sound familiar?) but she won't just in case she loses.

John Major successfully negotiated being PM with a tiny majority and with a very different style. He also, basically, kept all his senior cabinet ministers onside for 5 years as I remember it. May's just driven a wedge between herself and Hammond. Blair and Brown managed to make it work but they had huge majorities and an agreement to work together that kept them working well even if their followers schemed. This seems like the top two politicians in the country are at odds - not good. But it seems to fit with her style "you made a mistake and did something I didn't approve of, you naughty boy!"

If she had a majority of 100, she could be the iron fist it seems she wants to be, but she doesn't have that luxury. Someone will either depose her within the Tory ranks or she'll really do something out of line and it will trigger a crisis, a vote of no confidence and she'll go that way.

103:

Thanks, I got misled into thinking the GERS http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/08/2132 numbers originated from the Scottish parliament website: you would think they could fix that impression easily enough.

So your link says the numbers provided are dubious but are there any better ones?

104:

And one young lady I saw interviewed on the BBC, who hated the Eurovision contest which was clearly something to do with the EU because the EU used the Euro which is the same word so they must be the same like, so therefore she hated the EU and voted to leave.

Wish I could find a link to it now. At the time I was so gobsmacked I didn't bookmark it.

105:

I have no idea of the formal relationship of New Zealand to England.

Similar, but with the key difference that Te Tiriti is between the British crown and the owners, so formally detaching would involve slightly different wording.

I get the impression that the reason Aotearoa isn't agitating for change is lack of interest, and an awareness of how convenient it is to have a cheap, remote "head of state" that never bothers us. It's more "yes, yes, you're The Queen, you are Our Ruler, now run along" than the weird Australian thing of geriatric weirdos waving flags and protesting about some old lady on the other side of the world.

106:

Here is a question not yet answered.

Does May WANT to save the UK? Perhaps she sees Scotland as a block in achieving her goals? Perhaps she thinks it would benefit her more to be Prime Minister of England as opposed to Prime Minister of the UK?

107:
So your link says the numbers provided are dubious but are there any better ones?

These are the only available numbers. Much information is not collected at all and some that is isn't made available by Westminster.
As it says on the GERs website It estimates the contribution of revenue raised in Scotland toward the goods and services provided for the benefit of Scotland. [...] The report is designed to allow users to understand and analyse Scotland’s fiscal position under different scenarios within the current constitutional framework.

So it's a dubious estimate that disclaims relevance to a different constitutional framework i.e. independance. It does seem that the null hypothesis would be that an independant Scotland would be about as successful as other similarly sized advanced Western European nations such as the Scandinavian countries rather than a basket case as the Unionists claim.

108:

I think dear old Madam May had a burning ambition to get to the top, which she's achieved, but like the last-but-one holder of the office is not actually very good at it

That does seem to be the political trend of the moment. John Key in Aotearoa, Malcolm Turnbull in Australia, Tess May in the UK, quite likely The Donald in the US. I wonder how far that's also true of Trudeau.

(forgive me father, I have linked to whaleoil)

109:

That really is hard to answer. At the moment, it looks like she thinks she can keep the UK in place by staring down and belittling all the subsidiary parliaments, modelling herself on Thatcher.

As for an independent Scotland being a basket case, that would depend as well how good our access to the EU markets would be. If England went full WTA tariff and other such things, we'd surely be better placed to be independent and trading ourselves. In monetary terms it would also be good to siphon off some of the city of London trade and work, except that it would screw up our balance of power even more (i.e. more power to the bankers) and make Edinburgh house prices even more stupidly high.

110:

Sorry, I mean not just that they're not good at it, but that the sum total of the ambition was to become prime minister. The end. Having got there they're like the dog that catches the car... "now what?"

Turnbull is the most obvious, he's changed position on just about everything and appears not to actually *have* any policies that he cares about. Like jonky, he will do whatever it takes to stay in power right now, and to hell with tomorrow. What happens at the next election is less important that what happens in tomorrow's newspaper, and what happens to his subjects is almost irrelevant.

111:

If I recall, and it's been a few years since i lived in my Mother's homeland. New Zealand has particular issues that make republicanism unpalatable.

Basically, The Queen, not the government, is the guarantor of the rights of the Maori people laid out in the treaty of Waitangi.Any independence movement would likely involve rewriting the treaty.

Many Maori aren't keen on this because having the Queen back it up prevents their rights from being stripped away.

The Pakeha arent keen on it because this time round the Maori are on to their little game.

112:

Thinking about the surrender option, do you actually have to go to war to do that? Denmark is a good choice if their ongoing conflict with Canada over ownership of Hans Island is any guide. Which might make a good pretext, just claim the island and set up a fish and chip shop there. When the Canuks/Danes come to refresh their flag and liquor, sell them deep fried goodies and surrender.

I am reminded of this Scandinavia and the World comic for some reason.

113:

News just in is that Wilders got no where near the expected result in the Dutch elections - so at least that's one of the bigger European powers and one of the calmer Brexit voices remaining sane.

I actually expect the French result to be fairly meaningless for Brexit whatever happens either they will Frexit or they will keep sticking the knife into May coz - well they are French and there are potentially huge benefits in doing so.

114:

Okay, there's something I'm just not getting.

As I understand the laws involved, in order to hold the referendum, Westminster has to authorize it. Why does everybody assume that May and the Tory majority will? What price would they pay for saying, "Nope, you had your vote in 2014; if you don't like it, oust us at the next General Election"?

Sure, it riles the Scots into supporting the SNP. So Holyrood winds up with an SNP majority government instead of a minority, and . . . what, exactly? Ensures the SNP rather than Labour wins Scotland's seats in the next general election? Causes a bunch of English voters to late-swing Tory in the next general election to avoid a Labour-SNP coalition like they did in the previous?

Why the conviction that there will be a referendum?

115:

Because although the law is strictly speaking against it, international law tends to look favourably on a segment of a country voting for independence in a properly conducted referendum.

116:

Wilders got no where near the expected result in the Dutch elections

Yay! Like Pauline Hanson in the Western Australian elections recently. Maybe the voters are slightly sane after all.

117:

The oil and gas is going away whatever happens, it's a sadly common failure mode of an extractable mineral resource since the resource gets extracted and not replaced. It's not good for small nations to get too dependent on such as history has shown. We've been through the depletion process before with coal (now mostly gone) and iron ore during the Industrial Revolution.

Scotland has several intrinsic features that can make it, if not prosperous at least well off but not if it stays chained to an insular backwards-looking xenophobic England after Brexit.

Assuming independence and (re-)entry to the EU Scotland can become an English-speaking alternative to the London financial centre within Europe offering passporting and free movement of talent. Scotland already hosts a lot of major financial operations and is mothership to some big names in the money world (let's not mention RBS though shall we?). Ireland is hoping for some of that action but it's got an ingrained corruption problem in both business and politics that will make it a lesser choice versus the nation that birthed Adam Smith.

Another big earner for Scotland is its education sector. Scotland's top-ranked universities and colleges are very attractive to European students but that requires free movement of people within Europe. Closing the borders after Brexit will reduce that easy access for Europeans to come to Scotland to study at both the undergraduate and post-graduate level. The knock-on effects for research and industrial partnerships of losing those students to Germany and France is obvious.

Whisky and tourism, the tartan tat trade is maybe risible on the face of it but it still results in a big chunk of change for a small nation. The Edinburgh BloodyFestivalBloodyBloody alone brings in over £130 million each year according to some surveys and supports 5000 jobs, not all of them part-time. Scotch whisky exports are worth about £4 billion a year.

We'd have to do without some things such as nuclear weapons and their launch platforms (a big saving right there). A Scottish navy would probably turn into a coastal patrol and fisheries protection role, we might stay in NATO but without any real expeditionary capability or major airlift to support America's Excellent Arabian Adventures.

I think we could make it work but we'd not be aiming to be a Britain-lite, dreaming of Empire and striding the world like a Colossus as May and co. do.

118:

I wonder if there is something the reverse of the accepted wisdom going on in Oz:
that rather than people stating they'll vote for the mainstream parties in polls then voting for the populists in private, that pre-election sentiment for the populists is self-exaggerated, and voters drift back to the fold? That must be part of it, but One Nation's perpetual failure to launch must also have something to do with their habit of spectacularly imploding before the election's even held.

119:

So fake numbers rule.

Long term as you say I am sure an independent Scotland would be fine, but shorter term, presumably a majority or a very large part of Scotland's trade is with rUK rather than EU? ... WTO rules for trade with rUK or what? ... I have no idea how that would work, doubt anyone else has a credible worked-out idea either so I suppose we should expect only FUD from both sides: Interesting Brexit parallels.

120:

Yup, I know oil is going away, which is why I didn't mention it. Plus we didn't get to do as Norway did and actually invest some of the money.
Yes, I too think it could work, although I don't want it to happen. But one of the provisos for making it work is simply having enough of the population actually want it and want it to work. A coastal protection navy with some cheap anti-sub capabilities would be sensible; anti-air could surely be provided by various stock missiles and so on.

Important note - the scottish government is consulting just now on the future energy production for Scotland, and also on fracking. Please fill out the consultation, making sure you say fracking shouldn't go ahead.

121:

Last figures from the dutch elections: 150 seats in dutch parliament. The PVV of Wilders only got 19. He can boast he's then third largest party but with 30+ parties to choose from it's a hollow statement. So no Nexit.

122:

If Scotland goes heavily into renewables (wind mostly) then we're going to need gas, lots and lots of it to generate electricity when we need it. As the North Sea gas fields deplete then fracking is going to be the only way to keep the lights on when the wind doesn't blow. The alternative is to go cap in hand to the Russians as Germany does at the moment or freeze to death in the dark. Nuclear would work but irrationality precludes Torness and Hunterston getting replaced with new-build reactors before they reach end-of-life in about ten to fifteen years time -- thanks, Dr. Wigner.

Saying that I don't believe there is a lot of good geography for fracking in Scotland. Some of the prospectuses (prospectii?) circulating in the money markets looking for suckers to fund fracking projects in Scotland are based on the fracking boom elsewhere in the world. The technology is improving though and otherwise-marginal fracking operations might be made profitable and productive with new technologies. It's still quite a young business after all and the gas will still be there in ten years time.

"It's Scotland's Methane!"

123:

The Rah-rah empire attitude is effectively dead in Australia thanks to Tony Abbott's bungling. Giving a knighthood to Prince Phillip? Really, Tony?

The UK is our 7th highest trade partner, those highest than that all sit on the Pacific. So thanks, but no thanks, I don't want to be a part of your antiquated empire.

124:

IMHO if the Scots, Brits, Irish and Welsh hung the 100 or so media and political figures who're currently taking Russian money or facilitating Russia's version of "election hacking" for the UK, sent the bodies to Putin, and dropped your Brexit plans you'd probably save a million lives.

Just saying...

125:

I was passionately against Scottish independence the first time round: I thought breaking up the UK would be bad for both parts. I was (somewhat less passionately) against the UK quitting the EU for exactly the same reason.

It's hard though to take any view other than that Scotland has every right to try again: the circumstances have changed so thoroughly. As well as putting May in the position of having to simultaneous support one of these and defend the other* it also puts her in the position of having to simultaneously promise that a land border between Ireland and the UK will be no problem while a border between Scotland and rUK will be a disaster.

While I'm sure that leaving will be an immediate problem for both (that 20% cut has come before Article 50 has been invoked, never mind when the split happens) it's a lot less obvious that the long-term problems for Scotland will be as severe as they would have been before BrExit.

So, with real sadness and fear for the future of what I consider my country (Britain) I'll also watch this with real sympathy for the cause.

OTOH, I'll never forgive Scotland for coining the "Project Fear" term - that's probably part of what lost us the EU vote.

* - although Scottish independence supporters didn't seem to have any problem with it last time round.

126:

To return to OGH's topic, there's a bunch of interesting questions to discuss:
1) What a trade agreement between the rUK and NZ would have to look like, for the NZ and other former colonies to show any interest?
2) The potential interaction between negotations on a rUK-fColony trade agreement when set against the negotations on a EU-fColony trade agreement, given that the EU is a market of substantially more size than the rUK?
3) How the rUK foreign service is going to negotiate said agreements when they haven't done that for about thirty years and have lost all institutional capability? (Hint: NZ has negotiated many trade agreements recently. I'm told a heap of our best people are currently on secondment to the UK govt.)
4) What rUK agriculture and land use might look like if the rUK removes itself from the EU and therefore the huge subsidies of the Common Agricultural Policy? And if the option is to remove land use subsidies completely, then how the rUK might avoid the twenty years of pain that happened when NZ removed such subsidies.
5) How the Republic of Ireland will cope should the economic basket-case that is North Ireland decide to leave rUK and asks to join the republic?
6) Why Wales won't nope the fuck out of a diminished rUK as soon as they see Scotland making a go of it?
7) Whether posts from the Many Naméd One could be replaced by a Markov chain generator without anyone noticing?

127:

Regarding Spain & hypothetical Scottish independence, I would advice against assuming anything, because of the very same contradiction already mentioned, namely, Spain would have to opt between supporting two sets of secessionists: British seceding from Europe, and Scots seceding from UK. Some degree of ideological flexibility would be of essence.

Most probably Spain would just stand on the sideslines enjoying the popcorn and trying to snatch some advantages, like Gibraltar for example, while pointing that referenda are incredibly clumsy tools to decide this kind of question and in any case Brexit and Scexit are very damaging for the economy and just create new unsovable problems to replace the old ones, _IF_ they solve the old ones and that's not a given; which happens to be my own opinion, by the way.

Incidentally, the way in which Catalan secessionists are very keen on mentioning the 2014 Scotland referendum while ignoring Brexit as if it wasn't happening and the UK referendum as if it never was held speaks volumes. In Cloud Cuckoo Land campaigns are always clean, politicians & media always say the truth, referenda always throw clear results, changes are always swiftly and easily implemented, and futures are always peaceful, friendly and prosperous; real life is definitely inferior.

128:
Has anyone considered the startling similarity between the Brexiters & the SNP? As in: ALL PROBLEMS WIll vanish once we get rid of the EVIL EU/English ( delete as appropriate? )

Just out of interest, did you read the last paragraph of the OP? The footnotey one, that mentions you personally?

129:
I think dear old Madam May had a burning ambition to get to the top, which she's achieved, but like the last-but-one holder of the office is not actually very good at it. In her previous job she could be a martinet without problems. But she's basically bullying everyone around her and clinging on to power when some smart people are saying "You should call a snap election now" (sound familiar?) but she won't just in case she loses.

Yeah, you're probably right. That's one of the problems with talking about conspiracies and complex long term plots... one runs into the issues of competency, which conspiracies need and politicians seldom exhibit.

It'd be nice if these sorts of people had any ability to see the writing on the wall, and get the hell out before they go down in history as the ones who wrecked the country and its economy for decades.

130:

Conflating answers to this and Guthrie's #78

I said that I don't know Scots racists, not that they don't exist!

Also, I'm not treating anti-English sentiment as "racism" because I find that it is quite likely to be a reaction to the sort of English person who takes the attitude "I am superior to you because I am English" and/or who spends several hours braying at each other in an otherwise quiet (and intended as a "quiet room") area.

Anti-Irish sentiment I'll agree, but IME it's often (rightly or otherwise) as much anti-Roman Catholic religious bigotry as actual racism.

131:

1)What it would take for Australia to pursue a trade deal with the UK? Well, how much do you guys like coal? Coal and iron ore and overpriced houses? You've still got a functional iron industry, right? Please, somebody buy our coal and iron ore and houses! We're dyin' here. Buy our dirty rocks and we'll consume our weights in English cheddar.

132:

May et al could ignore the Scottish demands for a second referendum, but it's a risky strategy. As Sturgeon has pointed out, she has a mandate for it from her electorate. Politicians are, justifiably, wary of crossing those. Politicians also like to be seen as being responsive to the voice of the people because, ultimately, if you piss the people off too much they vote you out.

Sometimes that's all an illusion, but as Hammond's climb down yesterday illustrates, sometimes it's really powerful. May and Hammond still think it's a good idea. The think tank that proposed it is pretty cross-party and is making the case that the services that NI pays for are increasingly going to self-employed people, so they should pay more NICs to bring them closer to what people in employment pay. I'm self-employed and although I don't want to pay more NI, I can see there's a case. But their mandate was "No increases to NICs in the next parliament" so they pretty much had to back down.

Now the PM can choose to ignore the SNP's mandate, ignore their cry to be heard, ignore the fact that current opinion polls suggest the SNP will lose and if she's lucky Sturgeon will fall on her sword and there will be someone less dangerous North of Hadrian's Wall to replace her. And run the risk that she alienates lobbyists and so on and the next time there's a serious issue there's a serious loss of public confidence in her government, in her authority and the risks of the "awkward squad" doing something even more insane rise every time.

133:

Natural gas does seem to be the most likely gap-filler until we can implement large-scale storage of renewable-generated electricity. However, there have been a number of gas field finds recently, to include a VERY large Israeli field in the Eastern Med and significant Polish and Ukrainian reserves ( http://money.cnn.com/2016/05/26/news/israel-gas-exports-energy-independence/ and http://www.pecob.eu/shale-gas-pl-ua ), granted that the Polish and Ukrainian reserves are tied up in shale deposits. Given the current geopolitical and energy environment, both Poland and Ukraine are likely to frack to exploit these finds. The Russian tendency to wield natural gas supplies like a club tends to disturb their potential clients.

I too am frustrated by the fear of fission by the scientifically illiterate, but it doesn't look like a solvable problem in the near term. France must be laughing up its sleeve at the rest of Europe in this regard. No, on second thought they're too gracious to act that way (snort!).

Does anyone here have any perspective on the potential for large scale biogas production? Is there a real possibility of capturing methane from sewage and/or agricultural sources for use? If we could do so, we'd at least get use out of these greenhouse gases, and the CO2 output shouldn't be any worse for the environment than the methane itself.

134:
1)What it would take for Australia to pursue a trade deal with the UK? Well, how much do you guys like coal? Coal and iron ore and overpriced houses? You've still got a functional iron industry, right? Please, somebody buy our coal and iron ore and houses! We're dyin' here. Buy our dirty rocks and we'll consume our weights in English cheddar.

Overpriced houses we've got. We're overdue a market value rectification, and when that day comes it won't be pretty.

I think our iron and steel industry is either dead and being held up on strings to jiggle it around to try and discourage the crows, or it has been mortally wounded and is still staggering around claiming that it feels ok and all that blood and gore probably belongs to someone else. In either case, we're probably not a great market for iron ore.

The mining is interesting though. Following the kicking that the pound has received since the referendum, there's been all sorts of interest in UK minerals by foreign mining concerns (because the local mining concerns are all dead, killed by maggie's tories, except some people have now retconned their view of history to blame the eu instead, but that's a separate rant...) as we're now poor enough and desparate enough that maybe our natural resources are worth exploiting again.

135:
I too am frustrated by the fear of fission by the scientifically illiterate, but it doesn't look like a solvable problem in the near term. France must be laughing up its sleeve at the rest of Europe in this regard

France's nuclear future does not necessarily look very rosy. There have been some edifying discussions here in threads gone past, but it basically seems like the UK is propping up the french nuclear industry via the idiocy at hinkley point. That's a slightly vulnerable position to be in, to say the least.

136:

You must have missed the bits about importing power when we need it from Norway. Also, although rather late, they are getting going with more pumped hydro storage and other methods. It isn't is desperate for gas, its England.
Then as you say fracking isn't likely to be that great, even if you do as the pro-fracking idiots do and ignore climate change as an issue. Fracking might make sense if we already had a functional CO2 capture method but we don't, and I'd rather the subsidies for one were spent on wave and tidal power, which would bring more long term jobs to Scotland than the wham bam thank you ma'am approach of​ fracking.

Of course importing electricity from Norway would cost, but I'm sure England will be desperate for electricity given their inability to build new nuclear stations.

137:

I didn't read it all, because it cropped up in News and I was skimming while have breakfast, but The Guardian covered an a broadcast of Farage interviewing Marine le Pen where she thanked him for showing France " the way out of this huge prison."

How much of that is playing to the interviewer and how much is knowing that most of the French electorate will never listen to a radio show in English broadcast only in London but her core voters might is up for debate of course. You can read the coverage here if you're interested.

138:

Judging by the farming newspaper i bought a couple of months ago, many farmers think they can do fine without subsidies, others are so crazy they think the government will match subsidies, and others are quietly going mad in a corner but you don't hear about them.
One thing is for sure, without some sort of legal framework a large number of farmers will just go back to the most environmentally destructive practises, lose all their topsoil and kill all the birds and not notice until too late that you do need them around.

139:

And, if we did the same to the thousands that are taking USA military-industrial money to do the same, we could save tens of millions. I would sign up to a UK independence party like a shot, if it had a hope of getting us from under that yoke. But, if the current English ruling classes can't be the autocratic baron, they want to be the overseers - and THAT is the real reason for Brexit.

140:

I am afraid that the long-term problems for Scotland will be MORE severe than they would have been before Brexit - it's just that the alternative has got so much worse. I can't see any chance of England avoiding a rapid slide into becoming effectively a banana republic, with a much worse climate and no natural resources. And I am pretty sure that it will trigger my 1998 prediction for Ireland(*). Scotland's ghastly choice is between an economic disaster and a social and political one.

(*) Sinn Fein getting 'control' in the North in 2015, Irish 'reunification' in 2020, and the next Irish civil war in 2025. 'They' haven't gone away, you know. The dates (always my most unreliable point) have slipped by 5 years, but everything else is on track. I really, really hope that I am wrong, but my record over 50 years is pretty good :-(

141:

5) How the Republic of Ireland will cope should the economic basket-case that is North Ireland decide to leave rUK and asks to join the republic?

While there are certain Republican and Nationalist (in the Northern Irish sense) elements who are drooling at the apparent opportunity to move in this direction that has been opened by Brexit (and equally, there are Unionist/Loyalist elements that are using it as a fresh way to stir old sectarian fears, their own little mini-Me "Project Fear", if you like), the reality of the situation is that the dissolution of the union between Northern Ireland and Britain and the re-unification of Ireland is extremely unlikely.

Firstly, there is significantly less grass roots support for such a move than the politicians on either side would have you believe. This is true for a chunk of the Catholic population as well as the traditionally Unionist Prods.

Secondly, the Republic of Ireland do not want re-unification (despite paying it lip service when expedient to do so). Additionally, Sinn Fein are gaining much political ground in the Republic (see comments about this from other posters), and to go full-throttle on re-unification would likely hit their support base hard -- they may actually try to subtly derail such a process and persuade typically Republican elements in NI to hold back on full support for such a move (this is idle, but informed, speculation on my part).

There are many many other subtleties and complications with the idea of Irish re-unification, but suffice it to say that in all of the possible consequences of Brexit: It is very far down the list.

142:

In the short term, certainly and, if it happens, it might not be simple re-unification. Consider the possibility of both the Taoiseach and First Minister being Sinn Fein, and a request to change the Northern Ireland Act for a more normal form of government (i.e. not requiring a duelling duo). What would England (for it is she) do? And then gradually increasing the amount of government done in tandem.

143:

What's interesting is that all of this can be traced back to 9/11 and illustrates how one event can have major consequences.

9/11 led to the US invasion of Afghanistan and set the political atmosphere that allowed the invasion of Iraq. That led to the destabilization of the region that created ISIS and set up for the civil war in Syria. Which in turn created the refugee crisis and the backlash against. That xenophobia probably tipped the balance in the Brexit vote.

Of course, you could trace things back further to the underlying reasons behind 9/11, but a lesser terrorist attack wouldn't have had the same effect and reaction by the US so I think it is the event itself that is key. If it had just been a truck bombing or soemthing Bush would have blamed Clinton, increased counter-terrorist activity a little, and gone back to being a mediocre President focused on domestic issues like education, healthcare & pension reform, and improving relations with Mexico.

144:

Any such activity on the ROI side would require likely require constitutional change. General perception of NI in ROI is 'toxic basket case', and whilst SF are getting the love from people seeing the core parties continuing to do what they do best (nothing useful), they don't reflect any real affection for united Ireland. Even Fianna Fail's jumping on the United Ireland bandwagon is a mix of thunder-stealing from the Shinners and an appeal for a return to the fold of their decrepit rump of Haughey-era Republicans who still think - correctly - that they fucked things up in the Celtic Tiger era.

Best analogy for likelihood of a united Ireland is to think what might happen if the whole of the UK was given a vote on Scottish independence, not just Scottish residents, and apply as mirror image...

145:

Like Jez (to whom, kudos for calmness under pressure of idiocy), I live a long way away.

I don't find it hilarious. I find it tragic, in both the literary, Greek tragedy sense and in the way the word is used by teenagers.

Scotland has no good choices. Joining the EU would almost certainly come with a requirement to adopt the Euro, and with that, monetary policy designed for the benefit of German banks, which still have not paid any price at all for their great moral failure of the 2000s, and are therefore likely to continue behaving badly.

Such a course can only impoverish Scotland, both financially, and more importantly, in civic and political terms. However, remaining bound to an England whose political class has clearly become demented is as bad. Given that financial impoverishment is a near certainty in any case, full independence (for a period of say thirty years to begin with) may be the course that would allow Scots to hold their heads high.

146:

No idea whether this is similar in the UK.

The MPs who sit in the House of Commons in Westminster are roughly 70% managers and lawyers by population. There are exceptions but they're not necessarily an improvement (e.g. Dr Liam Fox, Louise Mensch), or they get demoralized rapidly (e.g. Mhairi Black, Louise Mensch).

The glaring anomaly is Scotland. There was no national level political stage in Scotland until 2000, so there was no if-the-face-fits selection filter for MSPs. Anyone before 2000 who wanted a national career went south. So when Hollyrood opened for business, we suddenly acquired a bunch of enthusiastic newbies. Fifteen-plus years later we now have a crop of political leaders who are young (the First Minister is under 50, and she's older than her rivals), frequently female (Labour, SNP, and Conservative leaders in Scotland are all women; Scottish Greens have two leaders, one of whom is female), and LGBT. Ethnic diversity is less of a thing but Scotland is pretty whitebread to start with: there's no obvious active discrimination going on there. And the result is a political culture that doesn't seem to do the old white men in smoke filled rooms making deals thing — at least, not in this generation.

147:

Does May WANT to save the UK?

She's leader of the Conservative and UNIONIST Party. (Second clause capped for clarity.) No leader of that party wants to go down in the history books as having presided over the breakup of the union.

However, losing Scotland would be extremely convenient for the C&UP at this point. Scotland returns 1 conservative and 50-something anti-conservative MPs. That's a huge electoral annoyance for the Tories, in their pursuit of being the sole party of government.

So there's an interesting tension here.

148:

Yeah, losing Scotland would pretty much guarantee a Conservative government for the remaining UK. At least for the next decade. There's probably a political realignment in the cards though. If Brexit goes badly the Conservatives will get the blame. But that doesn't necessarily mean Labour gets back in, the Liberal Democrats could have a comeback. Especially if Labour decides to go further Left. Then there's the UKIP -- what do they turn into after they've gotten UK Independence?

149:

He didn't, and it's been dealt with.

I have to sleep sometimes, you know?

Total count of comments unpublished so far is around 44 out of 190-odd. Ouch. That's more than I normally unpublish in six months!

150:

The think tank that proposed it is pretty cross-party and is making the case that the services that NI pays for are increasingly going to self-employed people, so they should pay more NICs to bring them closer to what people in employment pay.

The push-back is because self-employed people don't get the notional fruits of NI payments — unemployment benefits and sick pay. So they don't see why they should pay for it.

The initiative happened because for decades NI has been treated by the Treasury as an unofficial top-up to income tax; it's acceptable to tweak the NI rate but raising the base rate of income tax would cause shrieks of outrage in Middle England.

I'm self-employed. I am, however, the old-fashioned sort of self-employed; a sole trader/partnership running a small business that doesn't scale up. The new self-employed, which is now the vast majority, are the immiserated serf labourers of big business, forced onto zero hours contracts and not eligible for employment protections, sick pay, or the rest, because it's cheaper for the big businesses to hire contractors and insist on them being "self-employed" than it is for them to have actual employees.

The correct solution is therefore to tax the fuck out of any business that uses self-employed labour in a managed capacity, i.e. working under the direct oversight of management, or on their own premises. (See also the IR35 income tax rules.)

But this won't happen, because the government is responsive to the needs of large corporations, not human beings.

151:

Of course, but don't forget that Sinn Fein are by far the most devious and unscrupulous party in British or Irish politics (even more than the Conservatives), and are by far the most politically effective in terms of increasing and managing their support. What I suggested in #142 (new numbering) could be started without a constitutional change, could be enhanced by an apparently innocuous change, and that abused later. None of that is a new approach in UK politics - I don't know Irish ones well to know whether they have experience of that.

152:

That's not the only reason - it helps with discouraging whistle-blowing, too.

153:

Expect English politics of 2025 to be dominated by the current Conservatives, with its opposition split between the liberal left and the rabid right (i.e. xenophobic, probably racist and so on).

154:

I'm pretty sure Brexit will go terribly, awfully, dreadfully, badly — but it's not going to be completed before April 2019, and the next UK general election is due in May 2020.

If May sticks to not allowing IndyRef2 until after Brexit, this means GE2020 will be dominated by the after-effects of both Brexit and IndyRef2 (whatever those results may be), making it possible to shuffle the blame for one going wrong onto the other (in either direction).

People who are frightened and under the lash of austerity tend to vote conservatively (not necessarily vote Conservative). Meanwhile I see no prospect of Labour getting their shit together in time to contest the election in 2020 effectively.

So I'm calling it now for a Conservative parliament in 2020-25, especially if Scotland exits, unless Brexit is disastrous before the end of the Article 50 process (e.g. a full-scale collapse of Sterling leading to hyperinflation — I think that's at the unlikely end of the spectrum).

And by 2025 I think they'll have mortgaged so much of the family silver that there won't be anything left to sell to prop up the financialization of the UK economy. It's going to be a hell-hole.

155:

I'd say that's terribly simplistic.

Any new member accession treaty would probably include a blurry compromise to adopt the Euro in some undefined future moment, but that's not 100% sure: after all both Great Britain and Denmark opted out of the Euro completely. And no new member (last one being Croatia in 2013) has signed for a fixed date of adoption.

The fact is, however, that Brussels fears getting another Greece in the Eurozone, while rather than resist kicking and screaming most new members are very much willing to adopt the Euro and working hard to do it as soon as possible (actually two new countries that aren't Union members, Montenegro and Kosovo, did choose not to create their own currency but adopt the Euro as their official currency without permission) and, a fact ignored by most, the currencies of almost 20 countries are pegged to the Euro (mostly in the old French Africa, but including Bulgaria and Bosnia too)

In a nutshell: there is far more to Euro adoption than a 'monetary policy designed for the benefit of German banks'. I will be the first to say that the 'German' obsession with extremely low inflation has been and keeps being a terribly bad idea (tough many 'Germans' are French, Danish, Dutch, Austrian, Swedish, etc, etc) but most countries - including Greece - believe the Euro advantages far outweigh its problems, and this applies even more strongly to small countries that can't resist speculators for long.

156:

A lot will probably depend on how they can spin the blame for the negative effects of Brexit. I could see a lot of voters believing it is the fault of a petty and vengeful EU who wanted the UK to suffer for daring to leave and as a warning for other nations. In that situation, the UKIP probably gets a lot of support.

We'll also have to see what Russia and the US do in regards to relations and treaties with the UK post-Brexit. It would be in Russia's interest especially to be seen as a friend of the UK have British voters see the EU as the enemy and cause of their troubles.

157:

Actually they're starting to get more of the fruits of NI payments, although some of that is by accident because of the reforms of benefits. There are moves in place for them to get sickness benefit (and they're certainly in the think tank's recommendation, but Hammond fucked that bit up and put the tax rise in place first, shock horror).

Some of the other fruits of it, which admittedly don't apply to everyone and don't apply to me or you, are already there. The headlines are shitty, and the way Hammond handled it ham-fisted, but the actual recommendation was to bring everything in line, the benefits and the payments. That I can get behind, especially having just had a month where I did 3 days work between a dose of the flu and then a secondary infection. I'd willingly had paid more NICs and have had sick pay.

158:

Breaking news - Teresa May says that she will NOT give permission for Indyref 2. Of course, part of the reasoning for wanting it is her complete refusal to even acknowledge proposals and requests for Brexit negotiation points from the Scots Parliament.

159:

I think the most telling example is Sweden, which joined the EU in 1995, did not adopt the Euro, does not have any intention of doing so, and does not have a formal opt-out. Also Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic do not seem likely to adopt the Euro anytime soon, and the EU is not doing anything to hurry them up.

This obligation to join the Euro is anything but.

160:

According to pro-independence blog Wings Over Scotland that might not be accurate.

In fact, as one or two slightly more diligent and professional reporters pointed out, what the Prime Minister actually did was studiously and doggedly AVOID the question of whether she would block a second referendum.

May simply repeated, over and over again, that “Now is not the time”. But nobody was proposing holding a referendum now. The earliest approximate date in the range suggested by Nicola Sturgeon was autumn 2018, over a year and a half away. That is not “now” in any remotely reasonable definition.

The First Minister expressly said that the vote should not be held until the details of Brexit were known. That will be the case well before Brexit actually happens. (Since the deal has to be ratified, which takes time. The EU’s chief negotiator said late last year that the “real” deadline for agreeing all the details is in fact October 2018, which is precisely in line with Nicola Sturgeon’s timeframe.)

On that matter she and the Prime Minister are in full agreement.

161:

A few decades ago I had a friend whose job was converted from salaried employee to contractor. (The entire department was converted to contractors.) So she lost security, union protection, health benefits, pension, etc, but she gained being able to claim some of these costs as a business expense so her salary was adjusted accordingly. Except that the CRA ruled that as the majority of her income came from one source, she reported to one manager, etc, she was effectively an employee and disallowed most of the expenses.

What rubbed the salt in the wound was she had been a government employee — one branch of the government was insisting she was an independent contractor, the other that she was an employee, and she was stuck in the middle (and out of pocket).

162:

It's official; if the BBC tell you it's raining, go outside and see if you get wet!

163:

If England's a non-EU basket case after 2025, maybe they ought to petition to see if they can join Canada. Former commonwealth country, could keep the royals, and since the Canada-US part of NAFTA is unlikely to disintegrate it would put them back into a massive sort-of customs union again.

164:
I could see a lot of voters believing it is the fault of a petty and vengeful EU who wanted the UK to suffer for daring to leave and as a warning for other nations. In that situation, the UKIP probably gets a lot of support.

Really? Once UKIP have shot their "immiagrunts out! europe out!" bolt, what do they have left? The SNP, for example, appear to have a bunch of apparently sane and competent politicians, so in the event of sexit they can still reasonably stand for election and do things. UKIP has nothing of the sort.

Maybe there will be enough foreigners granted leave to remain who haven't decided to flee the inevitable financial meltdown that UKIP can stand for election on the platform that it is their fault. Or maybe they can just blame the brown people.

Personally, I think UKIP had its one chance at the last general election, and they missed it and didn't have enough momentum or organisation to capitalise on their brief moment of popularity. I like to think of it as a "fuck you" to all the kippers who voted no on the alternative vote referendum a few years back.

165:

Scotland out of the UK takes 50+ reliably Not Tory votes out of the pool? I'm kind of surprised May isn't actively trying to throw Scotland out of the UK.

166:

They would need to morph into a broader right-populist (English) nationalist "Make Britain Great Again" party. Everything wrong with Britain is because of Europe's spite, Finance (London) screwing over industry and the working class, and unfair trade deals. Maybe even pulling out of NATO as a big FU to the continent (especially if the US also looks to be questioning the alliance). And there will still be immigration as an issue, the immigrants and their descendants already in the country, plus immigration not related to the EU or refugees. I may be wrong, but isn't there a lot of immigration from former colonial nations still?

167:

self-employed people don't get the notional fruits of NI payments — unemployment benefits and sick pay

Notional fruits of NI payments are mostly the NHS and old age pension. Not having sick pay, etc., might justify a small difference between self-employed and employed, but I haven't seen the case made for the massive difference that currently exists, especially taking employers' NICs into account too.

168:

I'm kind of surprised May isn't actively trying to throw Scotland out of the UK.

It's the "Conservative and Unionist Party" name again. And Mayhem not having the twisted imagination to see how she could make it fly and pass the blame to somebody else. "No, no, don't throw me in the briar patch!"

169:

Why Labour Doesn't Need Scotland


– Scottish MPs have NEVER turned what would have been a Conservative government into a Labour one, or indeed vice versa.

– on only TWO occasions, the most recent of them being 38 years ago, (1964 and the second of the two 1974 elections), have Scottish MPs given Labour a majority they wouldn’t have had from England/Wales/NI alone. The majorities in question were incredibly fragile ones of four and three MPs respectively – the 1964 Labour government lasted barely 18 months, and the 1974 one had to be propped up by the Lib-Lab Pact through 1977-78 so in practice barely qualified as a majority. Without Scottish MPs but with Liberal support, Wilson would have had a majority of 12.

– and on ONE occasion (2010) the presence of Scottish MPs has deprived the Conservatives of an outright majority, although the Conservatives ended up in control of the government anyway in coalition with the Lib Dems.

– which means that for 62 of the last 67 years, Scottish MPs as an entity have had no practical influence over the composition of the UK government. From a high of 72 MPs in 1983, Scotland’s representation will by 2015 have decreased to 52, substantially reducing any future possibility of affecting a change.

Which sums up the "democratic deficit" argument for independance - Scotland's vote has almost no affect on the makeup of the Westminster government.

170:

Well they are the British Broadcasting Corporation.

171:

I don't think England is desperate for electricity.

1. Even though it has less renewable potential than Scotland, it still has plenty

2. Without the Scottish MPs in Parliament, say bye-bye to many pollution controls. I don't know if the Tories are as pro-pollution as the Republicans in the US, but with reduced opposition, it's possible for the party to turn to the right on this. Especially if they say "we need coal to preserve rUK's sovereignty from EU sanctions".

172:

British conservatives are not noted for being particularly enthusiastic about digging up coal...

173:

Reading the comments, what are your opinions that May would push to join NAFTA? After all, that is a trade agreement without any free movement of labor (especially with Trump in office). Plus, England would no longer be the odd man out politically. Not with the US remaining far more right wing.

174:

As far as I'm aware the fixed term parliaments act only covers Westminster, given this, if TM really does block IndyRef2 what's to stop NS and the SNP simply calling an early election in Scotland and campaigning with Independence before BREXIT as the principal platform issue?

OK, it might not hold the same strict legal/constitutional weight as a binding referendum agreed to by both parties but if the SNP secured a majority at Holyrood on an explicit platform of independence it would be kind of hard to ignore...

175:
so the government in Westminster will be put in the impossible position of simultaneously defending the right of a nation to leave a larger federation, regardless of the economic and social uncertainty this causes, while opposing exactly that position in another context.

See the situation in Canada where the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador hold that the Cree Nation has a right to leave should Quebec ever choose to leave Canada.

176:

Mr. Trump is trying to dismantle NAFTA, so I think the chances of the UK joining are practically nil.

@ 160: "On that matter she and the Prime Minister are in full agreement." - You might say they are unanimous in that (H/T to Molly Sugden, RIP).

178:

Just remember, do *not* wind up holding the suitcase 50 megaton nuke.

mark

179:

Um sorry, the US just did the "here, hold my bheer" again. Check out Trumpolini's budget. Meals on wheels? Oldersters, you can just starve. WIC? Women and small children, you too.

And who needs medical and biomedical research (17% cut in the NIH budget, which could *directly* affect my employment). You can just pray, and God (tm) will cure you.

Clean air and water? Only if you can pay for it. And cut the federal workforce.

(Can't imagine why the real estate market in the DC metro area just collapsed...)

Agricultural subsidies? Mining safety regs? And on, and on.

I don't just want that SOB impeached, I want him (all this is legal) impeached, tried for treason, and DRAWN AND QUARTERED, and then we'll build a HUUUGGGEEE Gate, and put his head on the traitors' gate.

Oops, I told you how I really feel about him...

mark

180:

Cyberpunk - oddly enough, I'm almost finished rereading an old favorite - Hardwired, by Walter Jon Williams, that *damnit*, should have put him up there with Gibson.... And if you take the Rock War and the Orbitals as metaphors for multinationals and the ma$$ive amount$ they've pumped into allegedly not-bribary campaign and disinformation ads, it's too damn real.

I wonder just how much like Roon the T is, in his own head, that even he knows better than to say out loud....

mark

181:

About conspiracy theories... most of them depend on amazing amounts of *competency*. I liked "In the Country of the Blind", by Flynn. Just because you're good at being a Sekret Society, that dedicated to running the world... doesn't mean there aren't *other* Sekret Societies with the same goal, and different aims.

mark

182:

Re: 'People who are frightened and under the lash of austerity tend to vote conservatively (not necessarily vote Conservative)'

Joining the EU is automatically adopting death-spiral austerity if your economy isn't as strong and similarly constructed as Germany's. [Surprised that some of the EU hasn't come out with a plan to just buy Greece outright. The current residents would then be retrained/indoctrinated as 'market forces dictate'.]

People who get the raw end of a deal become mistrustful of others and their knee jerk reaction becomes: trust no-one. From this - and because people are more likely to react the same way they most recently reacted to to the same stimulus (recency effect) - the likelihood is for increasingly more misunderstandings some of which might lead to armed conflict. (Another death spiral.) This also means that for people's reactions/behavior to change, you need a pretty powerful and abrupt stimulus. Having the pound really tank, finding out that your international partners are abandoning ship much faster than you thought, or a spike in deaths because of reduced national health budget or lack of energy to heat homes, etc. might do it. (Surprised there haven't been that many leaks in the UK about strategies of various politicos on this issue. Or am I just not getting such news over here because DT's adventures are saturating the media.)

Anyways, feel that gamesmanship between parties is more likely to occur when the politicos feel their job is to 'win' points in a zero-sum game rather than that they have a responsibility to minimize harms to their electorate (people). Any 'let them eat cake' policy about any population segment that is likely to suffer should hopefully result in that party's finding a new head.

183:

Nope - the Brits have a history of re-arranging every country they've entered without asking and usually without even taking more than a superficial inventory of that country's assets and needs. Canada left British direct rule peacefully when Britain had more territory than it could control. Now, Britain would likely want to take back the reins. Can only imagine how this would go down in Quebec which makes up about 25% of the Canadian population and is home to some of its oldest and most respected institutions. (Unwelcome busybody, meddling in-law!)

Biz opp: Retirement/end-of-life homes for aged, senile and/or dying countries.

184:

Absolute nonsense. You could argue that about joining the Euro, though its debatable, but most of the Eastern European countries have benefitted considerably from joining the EU.

185:

From what I've read it's because the Eastern Europeans have nicely fitted into the beginning of the EU market/production model supply chain. Greece OTOH is not a source of cheap skilled labor; nor is it a user of cheap labor; nor does it have a strong industrial base. Ergo, Greece does not fit the EU standard market formula.

186:

Yeah. I am predicting 1950s, but without the political consensus or world-leading technology and skills. I am not convinced that Labour will EVER recover; New Labour was simply Monetarism Lite, and the looney tunes want to take us back to the 1960s (when Labour was as spiteful and incompetent as the Conservatives are now). The trouble is that the plausible alternatives are all worse, now that the Liberal Democrats have destroyed themselves for a generation.

187:

Here's a summary - this report is dated 2012:

[PDF]IMF Multi-Country Report: German-Central European Supply Chain ...

https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2013/cr13263.pdf

188:

It's the "Conservative and Unionist Party" name again. And Mayhem not having the twisted imagination to see how she could make it fly and pass the blame to somebody else.

True. I'm just used to parties that will do whatever to screw up the other side. Principles? How do you get power with that?

189:

If you're comparing today with good old-fashioned cyberpunk futures, note that Running Man was set in 2017 and Rollerball in 2018. I, for one, would welcome a global society run by the corporate cartels with the populace distracted by ultra-violent team sports. How could it be any worse? And at least we'd have the sports.

190:

And last I heard the PQ separatists claim that Quebec is indivisible (and French)…

191:

I don't care about Sturgeon's game plan as long as it includes the political distraction of TMay's Tory party.

You really have to admire how TMay painted herself into a corner. She could have gone for soft brexit and all she'd to deal with were the rabid hardcore Brexiters. Now she has to fight against Scotland, moderate Tories, North Ireland, the economy and the EU27 in order to win. Once she has failed on her own, the Labour party can pick up the pieces after the next GE.

193:

Quebec could be a model for would-like-to-separate states but would need similar circumstances and leaders: a strong central gov't (PETrudeau Liberals) who personally and ideologically understood what the Quebec issues were (i.e., Francophones were treated as second class citizens within their own province/country by the 'maudit anglais'), what the benefits to membership in a larger de facto multi-yet-equal-cultural country would be, plus the will of moderate Separatists to not let fringe fanatics (FLQ) direct how best to acquire greater local autonomy.

Besides, far too late in the histories of Canada and Quebec - not to mention the US - to pull another Acadia purge (Cajuns, Louisiana).

194:
Once she has failed on her own, the Labour party can pick up the pieces after the next GE.

Firstly it isn't currently clear that the labour party could find its arse with both hands, so to speak. Secondly, the pieces will have sunk into the sea by then, so even if labour sort themselves out in the next few years or someone else comes out of nowhere to sweep the election there won't be a whole lot of hope for them.

195:

Please provide info re: what authority the US has over how the EU chooses its members. Have found an unsettled US-EU tax dispute (APPL, insurance - finance), Internet domain naming rights are being moved to the EU, a new trade treaty that may or may not get signed ... but NI (pop'n ~1.8 million, a bit more than Philadelphia 1.5 million)? Plus, given that the US has mentioned abandoning NATO, there's even less reason for the US to meddle in the EU, therefore have even less leverage in shaping EU policy.

Worst of all is that NI looks like another Greece based on its employment profile:

'As of December 2008 the public sector in Northern Ireland accounted for 30.8% of the total workforce.'

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Northern_Ireland

196:

A protracted begging campaign from the UK? "Sure we ditched you in 1942 then again in 1973, but we mean it this time". Not clear what a trade agreement with the UK would do in terms of access to actual markets that still exist. I'm dubious whether the UK would be welcome anywhere near any putative Commonwealth free trade agreement even, given its historical behaviour.

And it can't even negotiate in good faith till after Brexit. An attempt last year was polite rebuked.

197:

Coming late to the party, but what a good (if ultimately depressing) read so far!

On Scotland's right to hold a referendum, there are probably two (or three) additional options should TMay unilaterally decide to deny Article 30.

1. A consultative referendum. Entirely within the purview of the Scottish Parliament, to consult the population at large.

2. Declare a Scottish Election, as a plebicite for Independence. Again, entirely within the purview of the Scottish Government, and with a sufficiently large return of an Independence-minded majority...

3. Recall the MPs from London, and declare UDI via revocation of the Treaty of Arbroath! Well, perhaps not, but certainly would be more exciting than what might be on offer should none of these come to pass!

198:

On Scotland's trading position...

Unlike the rUK, Scotland is a net exporter (including to rUK). While we trade more with rUK than the EU, it's pretty much one way.

In terms of raw resources, Scotland has a larger per-capita share of many than England (including water, timber, fishing, cattle and sheep, and on for many more segments).

Scotland is a net exporter of electricity (just a little unevenly, with much of the new supply coming from renewables). More renewables are better, from many perspectives, so hopefully the investments in tidal will pay off (and an indy Scoland could make investment in renewables a paying proposition again, instead of the insanity that passes for polic coming out of WM)

Oil&Gas has been mentioned, but the sheer potential of the north-western fields is staggering (there are reasons why oil companies have been buying up the exploration rights!) And as a feedstock, not as a fuel, there is no reason not to exploit those resources (and to structure the revenues to be more beneficial to citizens, not just the oil companies)

Add to that top-flight education and research, a history of honesty and financial probity, a government that has repeadedly demonstrated competent management, and a population that has (generally) welcomed immigrants, and Scotland is looking like a nice place to live, to do business, and to do business with.

199:

For heaven's sake! Try reading what I actually say, rather than some invention of your own. While the USA Congress has no direct power, their indirect power over the UK is considerable, and any pressure they apply (even if unofficial) will add to the confusion and increase the stress on May.

200:

Ultra violent game shows? Relax and enjoy the show - https://game2winter.ru/ Russia leads the way!

201:

I'm a Scot, so I reckon I'm onto citizenship on independence anyway. The reason I don't live in Scotland is twofold. 1) I work for the UK government and got promoted out of Scotland (before that I was the senior Home Office person in Scotland (aged 32) - but they've upped the grade level there a couple of steps since I left, but the tip of the pyramid is too small to make it worth trying until I'm closer to retirement).

The second reason is my (English) wife got fed up with her patients commenting negatively about her nationality. So she isn't up for returning to live in Scotland at least until I can earn enough for her not to have to work. Post-independence Scotland will need people with expertise in what I do (which is a reserved matter). So maybe then.

202:

Re: '... will add to the confusion and increase the stress on May.'

Didn't know that your typical voting Brit thought of the US as their white knight. Saw some figures showing that the UK-US trade has increased to the point that the US is the UK's major trade partner. At the same time however, both countries' economies have been underperforming vs. rest-of-world (GDP) so that their relationship may not be particularly beneficial to either.


OOC, how much impact do statements from the BoE have in terms of future trade deals or policy?

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/uk-us-trade-deal-donald-trump-theresa-may-meeting-benefits-eu-single-market-small-upsides-bank-of-a7546866.html

203:

"As for an independent Scotland being a basket case, that would depend as well how good our access to the EU markets would be. If England went full WTA tariff and other such things, we'd surely be better placed to be independent and trading ourselves. In monetary terms it would also be good to siphon off some of the city of London trade and work, except that it would screw up our balance of power even more (i.e. more power to the bankers) and make Edinburgh house prices even more stupidly high."

I'd say that's the thing that might make Independence work, more than any hopes of oil. It'll be easier for people to relocate North to Edinburgh than it will to Germany or France (although some might also go to Dublin).

You're right on it screwing house prices though. However there is a solution to that, build houses. It's something that the UK hasn't done for doctrinal political reasons, despite an understanding for decades that there are massive housing shortages. An independent Scotland needn't have that baggage.

204:

I'm dubious whether the UK would be welcome anywhere near any putative Commonwealth free trade agreement even, given its historical behaviour.

Indeed. Brexit cognitive dissonance: managing to simultaneously think "Scotland wants independence? Don't let them have it. And if they do go, they should FOAD." and at the same time "All of the UK's ex-colonies will be really keen to sign a trade deal with the UK that really benefits us."

205:

Actually just 'building houses' would be pretty silly. For starters, there is an imbalance in the location of houses compared to locations of jobs, hence the way shutting the forth road bridge can cause gridlock and chaos for many people.
Then there's the affordability issue. At leat we could let councils build their own new housing stock, and encourage that, which would help the lower end of the market.
What would make more sense overall in terms of quality of life would be to spread as many jobs out across Scotland as possible. Telecommuting from the wild highlands would help spread the money around.

206:

make more sense overall in terms of quality of life would be to spread as many jobs out across Scotland as possible. Telecommuting

You do that King Canute's point was that he *couldn't* hold back the tide? Fighting the tendency towards centralisation has hardly worked anywhere, and never cheaply. You need to be thinking Shinkasen rather than fibre to every home. But fast rail just makes longer commutes to the bigger centre possible, it doesn't stop centralisation. Clumping together works - the network effects of having it all in one place are huge which is why we have one facebook, one silicon valley, one dominant sharemarket per timezone and so on.

We have similar issues in Australia and the fight to push people out of the centres has been laughable. As that article says "it is essentially a policy to encourage people to live where they don’t want to live". Or force them, as the not-technically-a-failure relocation of departments to rural towns has demonstrated.

Housing is tricky in a neoliberal economy because any push for more, cheaper housing is directly against what the economy is for - making the rich richer. To solve housing and other problems you really need to accept that government should try to make things better for everyone, and that is a radical position these days. One that the Scottish assembly might actually be capable of, since they lack the bloc of old white men that typically dominate other parliaments.

207:

Then there's the affordability issue. At leat we could let councils build their own new housing stock, and encourage that, which would help the lower end of the market.

I agree that you can't just randomly build houses. I was thinking along the lines of letting councils build affordable housing and also perhaps a new line in new towns.

Also I like the idea of spreading the work across the country. There already seems to be a bit of that going on with the Scottish government so far as I can tell.

Housing stock seems to follow the supply v demand rules of pricing, so provided that there are enough decent and affordable homes for people then the prices ought to mostly stay sane.

208:

I will note that Theresa May could have totally screwed Nicola Sturgeon today.

But she didn't have the imagination to do so.

Realpolitik: Sturgeon demands IndyRef2, in the middle of the Brexit negotiations, just to add extra leverage.

May said "not during the negotiations", which fuels SNP/separatist sense of grievance towards the conservatives, making a vote to leave the UK more likely.

Received wisdom is that her alternative was to say "sure" and give Sturgeon a referendum when she wanted it, in late 2018, shortly before the end of the Brexit process.

But if May had any imagination whatsoever she could have said, "yeah, you deserve another independence referendum! Let's fast-track it. How about September 2017?"

She could then have gone to the 1922 committee (her back-benchers) and said, quietly, "here's how I'm going to fuck the SNP for a generation: I'm going to put a hold on triggering Article 50 for three months. This isn't permanent, it's just to ensure that IndyRef2 happens less than three months into the Brexit process, at which point there will be no fixed outcome and we can deploy Project Fear to maximum effect."

Upshot: SNP forced to contest an Independence Referendum waaaaay before the terms of reference for Brexit are settled, or even on the table.

But May is an instinctive authoritarian and simply doesn't have the flexibility to zig where her opponent expects her to zag. Total stitch-up: Sturgeon's got her number, and it ain't going to be pretty.

209:

As someone with some familiarity with most of the new towns in Scotland, I can't really see where it would be sensible to build a new one.

Moz - that depends on how neoliberal an independent Scotland would be, doesn't it? So far the SNP keep on verring rightwards economically, but are obviously not as bad as the Tories.
Clumping is a good idea though, and you can see it to some extent with Inverness. There are certainly also villages in more out of the way places with space for new houses in old plots.

210:

Why should she? You might argue that (much like Erdogan and Rutte's recent spat) it's in both of their interests to have a furious debate on the subject of Scottish independence, which results in not having another referendum.

* May is able to use it to distract her own backbenchers with how firm she's being (and distract them from how weak she appeared on NIC)

* Sturgeon is able to use it to distract Holyrood from poor health and education results; and while her rejected demand will fire up the Party faithful, the loss of a second referendum would kill her reputation and destroy any chance of independence for another generation, maybe more. According to Jim Sillars, there were 400,000 Scots who voted for independence, who voted against remaining in the EU...

But that would be needlessly cynical ;)

211:

Tracing it all to 9/11?

How about the US Supreme court 5-4 (Partisan) vote on Bush vs. Gore?
An honest ballot in Ohio (Voter Suppression) or Florida (Where besides hanging chads, there were butterfly ballots and uncounted absentee ballots where Gore WON) (But the courts stopped the count)....

Different world indeed, Darth Cheney was determined to invade Iraq and TOTALLY mismanaged the occupation. Better the US had done the regime change and left.

Do we have to have a (second) American Civil War to get rid of those guys? They (Republicans) have NEVER had an honest majority, just a gerrymandered plurality.

212:

You do that King Canute's point was that he *couldn't* hold back the tide? Fighting the tendency towards centralisation has hardly worked anywhere, and never cheaply.

We in Finland have the centralisation problem, too. Compared to Scotland, Finland has about the same population, but four times the area, so the country is on the average even more sparsely populated. (Australia is of course an even more extreme example.)

Nowadays in Finland the country outside the largest maybe four cities has somewhat of a problem. There are people, but in many areas the young people move away, there are no jobs and it's getting more and more expensive to provide basic services there. The Centrist party has been trying to provide jobs by forcefully moving government agencies, but with varying success. The automization of jobs in manufacturing doesn't help, obviously.

I'm not sure what should be done - I kind of like the fact that much of Finland is inhabited, but not at all costs.

213:

For ultra-violent televised games UK/Commonwealth GenXers also have the memory of 2000ad's 'Mean Arena', set in 2021 Britain (publ 1980 onwards).

214:

"As someone with some familiarity with most of the new towns in Scotland, I can't really see where it would be sensible to build a new one."

I'm mostly familiar with East Kilbride. I couldn't say where they should go, but off the M8 & M80 junctions and on the railway spurs out of Glasgow & Edinburgh is where I would start looking. Wherever you put more housing it needs to be where you already have good travel infrastructure (so people will want live there) and where you can upgrade that infrastructure (and all the other associated services) to deal with all of the extra people.

The reason I like the New Town idea is that it comes with the concept of everything you need, and not just more houses. Housing shortages are the obvious symptom, but we also need more of all the other things that people use, like schools, transport, medical care, etc.

215:

Rather than adding to the M8/80 corridor - why not actually improve the A9 into M9 north/south?

That would enhance a whole swathe of Scotland and make a lot of existing small towns and villages much more accessible to both Glasgow & Edinburgh.

And with all-electric vehicles improving by the day, why not incentivise this with electric-only lanes on 3 lane roads (yes, there should be motorways with 3 lanes each way!).

With power from renewables, power pricing should fall. That makes the cost of commuting vastly easier to bear for a much larger population.

All-Electric buses, trams, and trains help too.

No real need for NEW towns. Just better access for existing towns.

216:

Same over here. According to Catalan secessionists Catalonia 'is a nation' and whatever a nation is, that means they wouldn't allow any portion of Catalonia to reject independence, not even if they voted 99% against. To misquote a famous air marshal, 'I decide what's democratic'.

217:

What happened to the entertaining exchange about environmental policy in New Zealand between Jez Weston and the blowhard "performance artist"? I shared the link with some friends, but all of those posts seemed to have vanished after a while. There's only a trace left, in one reference to the "Many Named One."

218:

You need to go and look at a map. The m80 corridor is already occupied by the new town of Cumbernauld, plus various other older industrial evolution period towns. And at the end of it is Stirling.

The M8 already has Livingston, and if you look more closely a clutch of ex-mining villages. Apparently the suicide rate in Shotts is high because of the poor weather and it being on a windswept moorland.
West of Glasgow we have more hilly bits, which could be built on at great expense, money better spent elsewhere.

The current liveliness of the M8 corridor seems to be down to commuters. The pole foundry site at Bathgate which used to employ hundreds of people, is now covered with hundreds of over priced under insulated ugly housing for commuters to sleep in inbetween getting on the train to Edinburgh or Glasgow.

219:

In the case of Brexit, perhaps the most important single factor was That Woman's decision to deregulate the media, and allow the Dirty Digger to establish his supremacy. She also supported the dumbing down of the population, as did Bliar. And all governments have deliberately not put any effective constraints on xenophobic hate in the media, except against a few protected categories. I agree that the destabilisation of the Near East has also been a factor, but so has the older destabilisation of sub-Saharan Africa, and the way that corporations are allowed to bypass immigration constraints. The first three factors come together in the largely unchallenged (and generally believed) claims that the EU prevents the UK from controlling immigration, because almost all immigrants come from the EU.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/politics-blog/11622718/Immigration-nation-where-are-the-Britains-migrants-coming-from-and-why.html

220:

What happened to the entertaining exchange about environmental policy in New Zealand between Jez Weston and the blowhard "performance artist"?

I deleted its sorry ass for going wildly off-topic, to the tune of 30% of the comments (so far) on an attempt to have a discussion about the future of UK/Scotland political relations in the wake of Brexit.

If it had been two or three comments, or even five or ten, I might have let it stay; but I ended up deleting more comments in one sweep than in the entire preceding year (nearly fifty)!

221:

It isn't hard (or even that expensive) to build new travel infrastructure, provided that the route is relatively sparsely populated and not outrageously hilly. The problems are mainly political.

222:

I was saying to my wife a day or so ago that, if she had any clue, she would have said right at the start to Scotland and Northern Ireland "We have noted your wish to stay in the EU, and shall be exploring that possibility in our negotiations." Then doing so half-heartedly, while answering all questions with "negiotiations are ongoing", and ending up with "it turned out to be infeasible".

223:

... and not outrageously hilly.

In Scotland.

Yeah, right.

(Scottish mountains aren't very high compared to the Alps or the Himalayas, but there are a lot of them and they can be quite steep. Makes road-building a bit of an embuggerance because you either need lots of tunnels (eye-wateringly expensive) or the vehicle traffic ends up driving 100km to cross 15km of point-to-point distance. There's a reason why Scotland, despite being relatively poor, remained independent for so long, and why the English usually invaded by sea despite living on the same land mass!)

224:

Not really. This was talking about new towns, so you can place them where you can get links to an adequate (and largely undeveloped) area. And most of the Lowlands and a sizeable amount of the east coast are not outrageously hilly. Yes, what you say applies to most of the area (especially towards the west!), but that doesn't mean that there aren't viable locations and routes.

225:

A little bit of that goes a long way, that's for sure.

I just finished Empire Games. A great read - thanks! And great to see the Family Trade universe(s) back in action too.

226:

Re Dystopian Futures,

Death Race 2050, Now playing on Netflix (Or was that only last month?)

The United Corporate States (With an obvious President based on the Hairpiece that Walks like a man). The "States" were kind of lame, something about the Appalachian Desert but the Arkansas-Oklahoma-Texas one (something to do with Walmart) escapes me. Not really clever enough, or grim enough.

We are past Judgement Day (Terminator) (Cross your fingers, knock wood, and promise Chickens to Thor?) and Demolition Man (Stallone,1993). And the Schwarzenegger Presidential library is sounding more and more like a less bad alternative history, even if he did veto universal health care in California.

227:

If nothing else it's providing an answer to my earlier puzzled wondering as to whether it was really possible to deliver a gigantic "Fuck You" to 48% of the engaged electorate without some political consequence.

I'm actually quite gratified (and just a little relieved) that the answer has turned out to be "No". Lets hope that NS, her colleagues in the Scotish parliament, and the people of Scotland are willing to keep the pressure on and let's see if anybody outside Scotland (London Assembly?) has the balls to start turning the heat up a little to at try to extract some concessions to sanity for the rest of us...

228:

I think that's a silly idea. Firstly, making the a9 into M9 would cost even more money. Secondly​, it would put even more traffic into known problem bottlenecks needing more road widening etc. Thirdly, if we are to have a hope of meeting emissions targets etc getting ever more people to waste more energy and time commuting across Scotland isn't going to work.
Renewables aren't a magic cheap panacea for all energy needs. They are just cheaper than the fossil fuel alternatives when you factor in externalities, which are large and growing, eg see the great barrier reef bleaching events.

229:

3. Recall the MPs from London, and declare UDI via revocation of the Treaty of Arbroath!

I think you meant by repealing the "Act of Union with England (1707)". At least if by "Treaty of Arbroath!" you meant "Declaration of Arbroath"?

230:

Para 1 - Not forgetting that the "A9(T)" is actually the M9 from the M8 to just North of Stirling already, 2 lane dual carriageway from there to just (and no more) South of Perth (where traffic for Aberdeen and Dundee will turn right, traffic for Perth continue straight(ish) ahead and that for "the North" turns left to loop round Perth), and Winter traffic levels from Perth to Inverness can be low enough to require actual concentration to keep your speed down to the legal limit even on the 2-lane sections.

231:

A better solution would be to prioritize electrification of the existing Scotrail network, lengthen platforms and upgrade stations to take longer trains where possible, and get rid of level crossings — go for full grade separation. Then it ought to be possible, with upgraded signaling, to run faster, longer trains (i.e. more capacity).

Might be worth re-opening more of the routes that were closed in the Beeching cuts of the 1960s (so far it's just the Borders line) and put resources into new town development on existing towns by upgrading their transport connections.

My assumption here is that commuting in private cars is going to be disrupted by self-driving vehicles in ways we can't currently predict, within a relatively short period (10-30 years) which is significantly shorter than the time-to-profit for a big new civil engineering project like a motorway or A-road upgrade. Whereas electrification/phasing out level crossings/improved signaling for the existing railway network has been on the unsexy to-do list backburner for decades and isn't obviously going to be made obsolescent or disrupted overnight.

Oh, and how about seeing if it's possible to put the Forth Tunnel back into operation in some form?

232:

The thing is, the A8 near Glasgow and the A9 after Perth, and the forth road bridge, have all been notorious traffic bottlenecks for decades, but it has taken an SNP government to actually do something about them. This has probably won't them some votes.

233:

Errr.... IMHO declaring that the new Forth crossing and upgraded A9 "took the SNP to do something about it" is revisionism. Any political party loves to take credit for infrastructure improvements that reach completion during their time in office.

The plans and the support for the new bridge were there beforehand, and it was just that decision time arrived as the SNP entered power at Holyrood. It would have happened whoever was in charge, because of the 2005 discovery of structural issues with the original road bridge.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queensferry_Crossing#Background_to_the_project

Likewise, the last few decades of A9 improvements north of Perth have been driven more by the fact that it's an accident blackspot, than because it's a traffic jam. Lots of local traffic trying to cross a regional arterial road, leads to lots of accidents. They've been improving it (slowly) for a long time now.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A9_road_(Scotland)#Upgrades

Regarding regional railways, it isn't just the Waverley line that got reopened (rather stupidly, it was built as single track for large chunks of its length - but that's another issue).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waverley_Railway_(Scotland)_Act_2006
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine_rail_link

Again, both commissioned long before the SNP took over. The relative balance of spending on transport infrastructure might have changed, but I'm not sure that it would have changed that much, whoever was sitting in Bute House.

234:

Actually, that reminds me - what about the A720? Before the Edinburgh bypass was built (i.e. well into the 1980s), traffic coming up the east coast on the A1 would routinely drive through Edinburgh city centre.

The A1 has been widened too, over significant chunks of its length - it's a far cry from driving it thirty years ago. Throw in the improvements between Gretna and Glasgow (the A74 used to be a nightmare, but it became the M74 long before the SNP took over), and my unpleasant memories of spending 2003 commuting along the A8 towards Glasgow, as they were widening it.

So; claiming that "it took the SNP to..." is just plain wrong.

235:

Road bridge, agreed. The other stuff, not so much. The A9 improvements were sticking plasters on open wounds, solely because of the accident rate. Piecemeal dualling over decades isn't very impressive and not comparable to actually getting the whole thing done, and the city bypass was done in the 1980's iirc. Also traffic then didn't have to go through the city centre, the main route was via Dalkeith and through roads round the south side whose names i can't recall.

The A1 between Edinburgh and Dunbar is the only more recent project I recall, the handful of other bits were done a long time ago.

236:

Right. And, ideally, that should include consideration of where new links or changes to the route make more sense than simply upgrading. Plus, of course, serious consideration of how people would get to and from stations, which really should be done in the context of local transport as a whole. Self-driving vehicles are a great unknown, but modern battery and motor improvements have made electric bicycles and tricycles both affordable and capable of handling significant hills. And, if there were the political will, there is no technical difficulty in creating a class of lightweight 20/30 MPH (at political choice) electrical micro-cars that would be adequate for most commuting and shopping(needing a third to a half of the road, parking space and energy use, plus noise, pollution and safety benefits). Basically, the main obstacles are failure of nerve (i.e. political will) and failure of imagination (i.e. thinking outside the 19th and 20th century boxes). So what else is new?

237:

Also the M8/ A8, has been a joke forever. Again, piecemeal widening at a choke point is not comparable to what the road should have been built like in the first place, but due to confusion and or stupidity it wasn't.

238:

Also, i still don't understand why it was okay to build Sherrifhall and other roundabouts on the A720. Any idiot could see they would be bottlenecks, and any part of resolution gives the SNP a nice bit of propaganda.

239:

The A1 i still a horrible, horrible road to drive ... but it's all in England; the remaining thirty miles of single carriageway runs from south of Berwick-upon-Tweed to somewhere between Alnwick and Newcastle.

So you can make a steady 60-70mph for most of the distance, except for the stretches where you get stuck behind a farm tractor or a truck that is holding to the 40mph blanket limit.

Which is a total disgrace. If Scotland could upgrade its chunk of the main motorway linking its capital to London, why couldn't England? (No, don't answer than question ...)

240:

Well, cycle hire schemes are a thing; I gather Edinburgh's finally going to get them in the next year or so (it was first mooted a decade ago).

The next step would be electric-assist cycle hire. Or a change to the law to permit Segways on the roads — the reason the DoT banned them is entirely spurious and doesn't seem to affect electric two-wheelers where the wheels are in tandem not parallel. That'd open the doors to local Segway hire, which would be more useful for limited-mobility folks than bicycles (electric or otherwise).

Adding charge points to the bike racks at railway stations would be good — encourage commuters to use a bike/train combo rather than drive. Motorbikes are a bit of a lost cause for most people because they have a rep for a sky-high accident rate, so risk-takers gravitate towards them (the macho imagery doesn't help), but electric-assist bicycles and Segways (as opposed to the cheap, dangerous knock-off hoverboards) could well get a lot of people back onto two wheels for commuting who don't necessarily have the musculoskeletal capacity for pedaling (especially in steep/hilly towns).

An interesting point: once we have self-driving cars, what about self-driving minibuses with some route flexibility baked in? I.e. you use a smartphone app to pay for your ticket from A to B, and the bus stops where you are waiting for it, rather than forcing you to hunt for a bus stop. Sort of like a multi-occupancy self-driving taxi with flat fare pricing.

241:

This may be why my Dad's preferred route was round the North side via Leith and Musselburgh.

242:

Para 3 - And how long did it take for the now "Highways England" to agree to upgrade the A74(T) from Carlisle to the Scottish border after the M74 got there? ;-) And that's several times shorter (about 5* IIRC).

243:

No, no the A1 is wonderful; it was only a couple of days ago I was reading how they're going to lengthen the 8-lane section south of the Cambridge junction as part of a £1.6 billion project to reroute a chunk of the A14. Money well spent, I'm sure you'll agree.

( of course you're right, I can put up with the bit after/before Morpeth, but between Alnwick and Berwick they're just taking the proverbial )

244:

Re the A1 (which I avoid whenever possible when visiting family in Scotland, but in bad weather it's the only route that doesn't go over an inconveniently large hill)—you forgot the bit where some genius decided it could double as the Newcastle inner ring road, so it's got exits every mile with hundreds of cars coming on and off (all of whom know where they're going, but you don't, so you're blindsided by everyone around you making manic lane changes at zero notice).

Yes, I know, the M80 through Glasgow is just as bad (I used to commute to Glasgow Uni from Larbert), but you would have thought that having made that mistake once would discourage the motorway planners from doing it again...

245:

Para 2 - My best "M80 tale" actually happened about 0.5 miles West on the M8 Westbound, when I encountered a "Stagecoach" bus doing about 40mph in lane 3 of 5. Thank goodness that, despite Patrick Harvie's views on the subject, the M74 has been finished, so I virtually never go that way any more!

246:

According to the Sabre wiki the Sherrifhall roundabout wasn't built as it should have been because of a geological fault and potential mine workings. That's an excuse for the time, but definitely not now. The wiki says it was the most dangerous road junction in 2015 Scotland.

247:

I am sorry, but you are seriously mistaken about cycle hire, Segways and those of us with mobility issues. Cycle hire is a complete disaster for the large number of people (probably including most of the over 60s) who cannot ride a 'standard' hire cycle safely and effectively, and Segways are almost certainly worse. What happens when (not if) you lose your balance on one, possibly because your hand has slipped or your knee has folded? I mean to try one one of these days to see if I could, but know enough about them not to risk one on the road. Plus the need to carry everything in a rucksac, which causes a lot of older people problems. All of this is soluble, but the current approaches will not work, because they aren't suitable for a large proportion of the population.

248:

Pretty much off topic.
Dystopian Futures

For at least a year I've been thinking it's time for a update of Americathon, only now it can be set in a post T.Rump/Wrexit Wonderland.
And now I'm imagining Mar-A-LagoThe Southern White House, declared a National Monument to be preserved in all its tackiness. Though I'm hoping that after the impeachment, it gets foreclosed on and demolished by way of being turned into one of those pay-to-smash-stuff places to raise money for worthy causes. A pipe dream, just making it up as I go...

249:

A little confusing, there - the A1 widening is well north of Cambridge, about the level of Huntingdon, between Alconbury and Brampton. You have to agree that Whitehall's idea of the North is gradually expanding and, at the present rate, will reach the Scottish border well before the end of the millennium.

250:

Agreed, based on having osteo-arthritis in one knee so I can't easily ride a bike, or stand still comfortably for long periods.

251:

All this discussion of the A1 makes me want to mention one thing...The A19(cringe)

252:

I know, we're not up to 300 yet, but this one... Clarence Thomas should have been impeached long since for conflict of interest on that *one* case: his wife working on the Bush transition team, and was sending out letters soliciting Republicans the week he did *not* recuse himself on Bush v. Gore.

Meanwhile, the current fools can't even do St. Paddy's Day right, without looking like idiots....

mark

253:

You wrote:
Re Dystopian Futures,

Death Race 2050, Now playing on Netflix (Or was that only last month?)

The United Corporate States (With an obvious President based on the Hairpiece that Walks like a man). The "States" were kind of lame, something about the Appalachian Desert but the Arkansas-Oklahoma-Texas one (something to do with Walmart) escapes me. Not really clever enough, or grim enough.
---

Well, that's completely silly. Texans hate Okies and Arkies, and I believe the feeling is mutual. This is about the same as the way Texans and New Mexicans feel about each other....

mark

254:
As far as I'm aware the fixed term parliaments act only covers Westminster

No, all the devolved assemblies are fixed-term. I believe (OGH please correct me if I'm wrong) that the Scottish Parliament has provision for an early election in the case of failure of Confidence or Supply. I'm not sure about Wales and of course Northern Ireland has its own arcane rules, because Northern Ireland, which just had an outing earlier this month.

So yes, Sturgeon could find a way to get an early Scottish general election, but only by having her MSPs declare they no longer have confidence in her government, which wouldn't look very good.

255:

The thing is, the A19 is in England, albeit part that might be better off joining Scotland.

So, back to the main topic, would joining the EU give Scotland some money to help with infrastructure etc, given the high costs of travelling through a lot of it?
Yes, that's basically a subsidy for people to live in out of the way places, but then that's what civilisation is all about surely.

Finally, firefox warned me that my logging into this site was via an insecure connection, but I don't really see that as a problem.

256:

Since discussion has moved to highways, alternate transport, wobbly knees, etc. how about how housing might get affected in Scotland following Brexit esp. if Scotland doesn't join the EU and needs to fly solo, i.e., increased unemployment, declining GDP, etc.


Having watched some of the Grand Designs shows that a couple of posters recently mentioned, get the impression that ecohouses are becoming more mainstream in the UK. And one such type is the building into hillsides which has been around since Petra. Most importantly, such a construction seems a natural for Scotland as it would provide some free all-weather insulation which would reduce heating/cooling costs.

Building a series of connected ecohouses terraced into the hillsides (like Chinese rice fields) following the hillside contours could be attractive and livable. Movement between levels could be via combinations of stairs (60%), escalators (25%) and service elevators (15%). And by using more vertical space, this means fewer public roads/shorter distances for public utilities to wire, pipe or surface.

As for social/medical services - physician nurses are taking on more GP type duties over here, which translates to lower average cost per healthcare provider. And if new eco-communities were designed targeting retirees, then the variety of medical services needed could be streamlined quite a bit.

Population movement in most parts of the world still shows younger folk moving into dense urban areas followed by an almost as large movement of young families into the suburbs. Retirees usually go to wherever their cost of living will stay affordable and increasingly into areas that are senior-friendly or outright retirement homes/developments. Most of these sprang up in old established neighborhoods but have since moved into the suburbs. Back to the countryside or into smaller communities would be the next step in this progression.

Source of funds for a model of such a community is (potentially) this EU-sponsored competition:

http://news.hie.co.uk/all-news/april-deadline-for-major-communities-fund/


Tourism: Depending on the source, tourism accounts for anywhere from 5%-11% of Scotland's GDP, and about 7% of its jobs. Apart from returning to one's roots, learning about one's ancestors, golf and scotch whiskey, Scotland could also get in on the ecotourism/wild places bandwagon. One caution though - if more tourism is going to come from outside England/EU, Scotland will need to get a better/bigger airport or come to some arrangement with an Irish airport because having read Charlie's comments - after flying for 6+ hours, ain't no way NA folks will want to immediately drive another 6+ hours esp. on the wrong side of the freeway.

http://www.visitscotland.org/pdf/Insights%20Trends%202016.pdf

257:

Do you folks not have scooters? Over on this side of the pond they're quite popular. Think of them as vastly upgraded Vespas. Inexpensive to buy, economical to run and very popular with those who have no driving license as they aren't required in many places. Top speed is 40 mph-ish and they're very practical in cities and suburbs. You don't sit astride them as you would a motorcycle; Clarkson rode an older one in Top Gear's Vietnam special. Modern ones can be much nicer.

258:

Edinburgh Airport isn't really a problem, most tourists will want a stop in Edinburgh anyway and transport to the city isn't a problem for tourists. Add in more likelyhood to use the scenic routes when travelling and the transport issues will be an order of magnitude less than for residents and commuters who have less choice of timing.

259:

Nuh uh, as they say. Our hillsides are rock. Building into rock is expensive and time consuming. Also hillsides steep enough to be built into aren't so near places people want to say. Try going to Sheffield instead.
Also someone on here suggested terracing the hills already, and we laughed and laughed and laughed.

Not to mention that the hills are to some extent protected scenery. The issue is not that we can't build on hills, the issue is that it costs resources to do so, and in a shrinking economy, that isn't really possible.

On airports, it might well be worthwhile trying to get direct flights to Inverness, and thus plonl the tourist right in the middle of the places they would like to visit. You'd need to upgrade the airport though.


Mike- good point re. scooters, but the petrol ones count as road vehicles, are taxed and you need a licence and also somewhere safe to keep it. Plus our weather. Net result, they aren't very common. But as Elderly cynic says, there are other options, and the legal framework isn't really up to dealing with them.


260:

True, Edinburgh airport appears nicely situated and Edinburgh would be on anyone's itinerary when visiting Scotland. Still, would be nice to have more choice in direct flights, e.g., my local international airport currently has only 4 daily flights with 'only 1' stopover. Then again, the Icelandic (Keflavic) stop-over could be nice.

261:

Too bad - had hoped that all those empty mine shafts could be re-purposed.

http://www.abandonedscotland.com/castlebridge-colliery/

262:

The vast majority are vertical, and lead down into water since the mines flooded due to adverse geology. Or, you are just trying to make a joke.

263:

What's the legal framework for assisted bicycles? Here the addition of a couple of folding pedals makes an electric scooter legally an assisted bike, so they can be ridden anywhere a bike can without needing a license. An acquaintance has one, and likes it a lot. (He admits there's no way he could peddle it very far, as it's less effort to walk it than peddle it.)

I'm less keen on them, mainly because of the idiots I see using them (either driving at half the speed limit in the middle of a lane in a major road during rush hour, or speeding along the sidewalk expecting pedestrians to get out of the way — but that's the fault of users not the machines themselves. I think they _do_ need to be classed as something other than bicycles.

264:

Not joking - just fascinated by new ways of building as well as re-purposing of old structures.

265:

Usually a border inside a union becomes sort of culturally depolarized and smeared out, for instance the Denmark/Germany border.

Is that also the case for the Scotland/England border ?

If so, and if Westminster tries to scuttle indyref2, an interesting SNP reaction could be to start standing candidates south of the border.

Given the likely consequences of brexit for that part of England, one could imagine a quite receptive audience and people might even start to wonder loudly exactly where the "real border" between Scotland and England ought to be.

And if Westminster is totally unresponsive, there's both the UN route to independence and the "When in the course of human events..." route.

PS: As for the Føroyar route to independence, I wouldn't try that, they're not exactly EU lovers themselves and pretty damn conservative in many social questions.

266:

Our hillsides are rock. Building into rock is expensive and time consuming. Also hillsides steep enough to be built into aren't so near places people want to say. Try going to Sheffield instead.

The hills in Sheffield are steep enough to be annoying, but not steep enough to build into by and large (there are a few big Victorian terraces I've seen where people have dug subterranean garages, but that's about it).

The gritstone Edges around Sheffield are "near places people would want to stay", but they are also made of b****y hard rock. There are houses that look as though they're built into them, see the picture of Stoney Middleton on this page, but they're really just backed up against them for shelter.

There are plenty of caves in the Peak District, but they tend to be nasty wet places. Nice to visit, wouldn't want to live there, as they say.

267:

Also, scooters are somewhat limited in what roads you can ride them on; definitely not motorways, and I'm pretty sure not dual-carriageways or other A-roads. At the very least I've never seen them being ridden anywhere but in a city or on a B-road, and frankly you wouldn't want to.

They are cheap, though. Road tax is £17 a year, and the license for a basic one (up to 125cc engine size, if memory serves) is only a one-day course. You need insurance, but if you can make it to the age of 25 without doing anything egregiously silly -not that you're likely to survive the experience if you do!- then that can be had for only about £20 a month.

268:

The laws as written are incoherent, and some relevant ones predate bicycles, but assistance that is limited to (if I recall) 25 KPH and 250 watts does not change the status (*). That is increasingly popular, especially given that modern batteries are good for tens of miles or thousands of feet climbing. Let us exclude the minor detail that some laws apply to bicycles, some to cycles, and there are definitions where a bicycle has two wheels and ones where it need not, and assume that tricycles and velomobiles count. However, that's not quite enough for a micro-car, as guthrie says.

(*) https://www.gov.uk/electric-bike-rules

As you say, they do NOT mix well with pedestrians. The other problem is that the road laws, their enforcement, planning and management are also incoherent, making cyclists very much second-class citizens, and there are far too many psychle farcilities, which are usable only by fairly athletic cyclists, riding slowly, AND even then are more dangerous than the main carriageways! And don't even THINK of using them if you are riding a tricycle or velomobile.

http://wcc.crankfoot.xyz/

The point here is that none of the above problems are insurmountable, but would need a government that was prepared to break away from the Whitehall bureaucracy, tell the motor lobby to get lost, and sort out the mess. There are a LOT of areas of innovation where Scotland could lead the world, some of which would generate income in the medium term. Well, so could England, but fat hope.

269:

(OGH: It was indeed very off-topic. Your blog, your rules.)

Regarding the reunification of NI/Ireland, it strikes me that there's a worryingly feasible chance that this could happen. No-one wants it, but we've had a year of things happening that no-one wants, simply because we've also had a year of protest votes that accidentally came to pass because no-one wants the status quo either.

CallMeDave's decided to call a vote on Brexit because he thought that it was a stunningly stupid idea that no-one would go for it. Sadly, no-one included everyone who wanted to protest the UK/EU status quo. And now we have Brexit. Oops.

Trump for president would never succeed, except for all the protest votes against the US political status quo. Oops.

No-one wants reunification, coz Northern Ireland is an economic basket-case riven by deep-seated divisions with terrible weather. Fianna Fáil are pushing for it (http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/fianna-f%C3%A1il-working-on-plan-for-united-ireland-1.3007587) but only because they have to, not because they think there's a chance it'll happen. Still, no-one likes the status quo either, if the status quo is NI as part of rUK with a tighter land border with the EU. See a pattern here?

270:

Elderly_Cynic and guthrie have already pointed out some of the flaws...

My colleague who sits at the desk next to me, has a scooter. Driving at 30mph into a 20mph headwind, at 5C, will give you well subzero temperature with windchill. If raining (as it often does in a seaside town like Edinburgh), you can add "while being sprayed with icewater from a garden hose on full". Throw in the "56 degrees north", and you're also doing the journey in the dark, both ways.

He doesn't use it in the winter, unsurprisingly, or in foul weather.

By contrast, when I was young, fit, and spending half my net income on the mortgage for my Old Town flat, I cycled everywhere, pretty much throughout the year. Lycra leggings, a Buffalo shirt, and a warm house / warm office at the other end.

Remember also that Edinburgh is built on seven hills. With some fun verticals (there are some streets where you can wheelspin when going uphill, even when riding a bike with two-inch tyres). Add cobbles. In other words, not universally accessible for anyone other than the "fairly fit and uninjured".

271:

That mine is just round the back of the rifle range I use in the summer :) and no, it's not going to reopen... there's not much repurposing you can do with a narrow hole in the ground, they've pretty much hit the limit with the Lady Victoria up in Newtongrange.

Well worth a visit :)

http://nationalminingmuseum.com/

272:

I know 2 relatively unfit women in their late 60s who get around Edinburgh perfectly well with electric assisted bikes. What they are careful to do is to follow routes that avoid most of the motorised traffic. I think this is the element that puts most people off cycling above all others.

273:

My first comment on hearing the result of the EU vote was - "well there goes Scotland, Northern Ireland and possibly Wales". I should write novels! Scotland leaving was always a possibility (particularly given Flounder's love of self promotion) but the recent NI elections put Sinn Féin in charge at just the right (wrong) time. CMD may well have almost single-handedly been responsible for the break up of the union. Good one Dave - perhaps you should stick to pig farming (or whatever you do with pigs).

At the last Scottish independence vote I was against (OK - not my business I know since I don't live in Scotland but I can still have an opinion brexiters' beliefs notwithstanding). I based this on the proposition that the U.K., including Scotland, would be both culturally and economically better off together. The idea of a single party England (the result of Scottish independence) did not make me happy - I live in a one party state (California) and the effect is not pretty. I have nothing specifically against the Conservatives, any one party would be equally bad in its own way - even that lead by the saintly Corbyn (OK - my tongue is firmly in my cheek on that one).

I am now for. I believe that the differences between the component countries of the UK are now so great that it is time for each to seek it's own future. Whilst I continue to believe that Scotland will suffer economically on leaving the union, it's the Scots choice to make. Small countries have done well on the whole out of the E.U. and the economic effect of leaving the union may well, therefore, be ameliorated by joining the larger union. Similarly, this is the time for a single united Ireland. Even die-hard unionists may see this as a better alternative to the return of hard borders.

I still believe, however, that the major loser of Scotland (N.I., Wales) leaving the union will be England.

Should Scotland leave I wonder what will happen to Gibraltar. I realize that the Spanish have a claim (although I assume that to claim Gibraltar they will cede Ceuta and Melilla to Morroco since their claim on Gibraltar is based on contiguous borders and history - yeah right!). The Spanish would strongly oppose an independent Gibraltar and the Gibraltese have too much to lose to become part of Spain. However, given their strong vote to remain, they may well feel - like Scotland - that a change is required.

Worth mentioning that I have some consideration (sympathy is too strong, understanding perhaps) of the immigration argument that appears to have won the Brexit vote. I don't visit the UK often but I have visited a few times in the last few years and it is noticeable that the nature of the high-streets has changed. I heard a lot of Eastern European languages in places like Colchester and Hitchin - places where I would not have expected to hear such languages at all let alone at the density noted. This does not mean that this is necessarily bad, there are strong, data-backed, arguments for the cultural and economic benefits of immigration, but I can see how this could affect perceptions. It doesn't help that the UK's wealth also makes it a mark for the less scrupulous, although my, rather cursory, look at crime data does not show a major increase in crime by non-UK but EU citizens. It is a huge pity that the remainers chose to concentrate on the extra 200 quid saved on summer hols rather than on the actual benefits delivered by the E.U.

On Brexit, I find it odd that the general Brexit view appears to be that, Brexit having won the vote, everyone voting remain should shut up. Would the Brexiters?

274:

Worth mentioning that I have some consideration (sympathy is too strong, understanding perhaps) of the immigration argument that appears to have won the Brexit vote.

A couple of vox pops in rather run-down areas have revealed that some folks voted Leave because they wanted to get rid of asylum seekers. Yes, asylum seekers have nothing to do with our membership of the EU but they sound funny and look different and Europe and... Understanding that they voted Leave for spurious reasons doesn't negate the fact they voted Leave for bigoted, xenophobic and totally wrong reasons.

275:

In Scotland you might even prefer to go microcar/velomobile rather than bike or Segway. With an enclosed body and 500W or so of power assist, going up hills is no problem and with a 30kph or 50kph speed limit for the power assist, anyone going faster will be working quite hard (professional cyclist hard, not stupid kid hard).

With a little regulatory encouragement you could get versions that park on their back end so you can stack a lot of them in relatively small spaces. Those markets are currently all about the speed for the most part, but there are a few outliers with four wheels and fairly poor aerodynamics in favour of carrying capacity and compactness. The PodRide (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lKq1fGtXFM) for example, but one of the "major" manufacturers in that space also has one under development. Down under, TriSled have a plastic-bodied velomobile which suits commuters/parking at the station more than the carbon fibre or cloth ones do.

This is, of course, one of those always-around ideas that is too different to ever actually take off.

276:

Now there's a thought. I haven't ventured into Hardwired (or Voice of the Whirlwind) in awhile.

277:

There's also Solip:System. The sequel to Hardwired.

278:

It doesn't surprise me that asylum seekers were equated with E.U. workers. Scott Adams (Dilbert) http://blog.dilbert.com/ has a great series concerning cognitive dissonance. Well worth reading even if it does raise the blood pressure on occasions.

279:

has a great series concerning cognitive dissonance

Sorry - to qualify further

has a great series of posts concerning cognitive dissonance, why people believe what they believe and how to affect that belief.

280:

Or, if you'd like to get rid of the Royals and Nobility, you could become a U.S. state. The only conditions would be getting rid of National Health - must have been set up by some fuckin' commie weirdos - and paying Disney a small fee if you want to enter the pretty parts of London.

281:

to get rid of the Royals and Nobility, you could become a U.S. state

Aren't royalty fairly popular in the USA? I thought some of them were quite into buying titles, or marrying reject royalty. So surely there's a market opportunity there, the Conservatives could appoint a minster and start selling off your surplus royals. The real ones, obviously, not the converted commoners.

282:

From the U.S. Constitution:

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

The Queen would become "a commoner with a castle." Or several castles. But she'd still own most of our newest state, at least until she was bought out by Walmart.

283:

I was surprised recently when the car I was in was overtaken by an electric bicycle which must have been doing 60kph+ uphill.

A bit of googling showed that the bike had a 3kw motor, completely illegal for on-road use in Australia (without indicators, brakelight, registration etc.). An elite cyclist makes about 400w of human-power.

They're supposedly for use on mountain bike trails, but much of the marketing is plainly aimed at on-road use. AFAIK enforcement is minimal to non-existant.

Side-note: Those who've lost their license for drink-driving have a huge share of the market for legal, slow electric scooters and bikes in Oz.

284:

The Queen would become "a commoner with a castle."

I'm not a lawyer, but that doesn't seem to preclude the US government from recognising titles from elsewhere (if nothing else, I assume it saves the embarrassment of the US ambassador saying "Hello Mrs Windsor" when introduced to the Queen of The Cook Islands and Sundry Other Territories). And it definitely doesn't stop everyday citizens introducing someone as "my good friend Baron Sir Lord Stephen Humphrey Patricia Michael James Arthur Samuel Smith Haughton-Jones-Perry Van Der Winklehoffen The Thirteenth of the Justified and Ancients of Mu Mu".

If the UK became a state or several that would be different, but I think it'd be so different it is impossible to reason about.

285:

AFAIK enforcement is minimal to non-existant.

It tends to happen afterwards. Crash one of those into something and I suspect the legal system will land with a bang, especially if the operator hurts someone else. Sadly said operators are not the sort to linger after doing so, should they be able to leave. I suspect we will see more organised enforcement after the first fatality, and from observation I suspect that's going to happen fairly soon. Hopefully it'll be the illegal operator rather than an innocent victim.

286:

Finally, firefox warned me that my logging into this site was via an insecure connection, but I don't really see that as a problem.
I occasionally get the same thing with Chrome (Look, it's that or Mickeyshaft Memory Leak, er Internet Exploder, enough said?) but well, any time phishers spend trying to get my account details from this site is time they're not spending some place they might actually get someone's a/c details!

287:

Most of the points about sousterrains have already been answered, but some of the rock here is even harder than Susan's grits; See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewisian_complex about Lewisian Gneiss.

Re tourism; Scotland's "best kept unknown" is probably Prestwick airport, with a 10_000 feet main runway, and typically open 364.24 days a year. It's also about 45 minutes from Glasgow by train or dual carriageway (part trunk, part special road, and yes there is a difference) so driving on the left side of the road rather than the wrong side ;-) shouldn't be that much of an issue.

288:

On Brexit, I find it odd that the general Brexit view appears to be that, Brexit having won the vote, everyone voting remain should shut up. Would the Brexiters?

That's not actually the general view. It's the howling shrieks of pure rage from the oligarch-owned right-wing press who backed Brexit and are deeply insecure about the possibility that a 48/52 split is not a definitive, clear-cut victory.

Incidentally, you need to lump the BBC in with the oligarchs. Tony Blair neutered the Beeb in the run-up to the Iraq war by threatening their funding, and now they tow the government line, which is set by the May government. (Also, on Scottish independence? They're the British Broadcasting Corporation, not the Scottish one. When listening to their coverage always ask, cui bono.)

289:

With a little regulatory encouragement you could get versions that park on their back end so you can stack a lot of them in relatively small spaces.

The figure I heard for Edinburgh 20 years ago was "200,000 residents parking permits chasing 80,000 parking spaces". And the numbers only seem to have gotten worse since then.

This city predates the automobile and was largely built without provision for parking of any kind. (Yes, modern apartment buildings generally have garages, but a huge chunk of our housing is centuries old.)

If you reference point is, say, old-town Sydney (dates to the 1850s! Ancient! ROFL!) then where you'd walk past a single house frontage in Sydney, you'd be passing the ground floor of a stairwell with 6-12 apartments (no elevators). This should give you some idea of the density of population and difficulty of providing parking. Bicycles? Only if you can haul them up four flights to stairs when you get home, unless you want to leave them on the street to be stolen.

Our roads are horribly congested and can't be widened (no gardens/front yards to grab, just narrow pavements/sidewalks that are in heavy pedestrian use). You can't knock the buildings down to drive new roads because you can't throw a stone without hitting a listed building — the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and we'd lose the status (which brings in valuable tourist revenue) if we rebuilt it around modern transport. You can't dig road tunnels because the city is built on top of the basalt plug left by an extinct volcano, and all the soft rock was shoveled away by the ice sheet umpty thousand years ago. The city is surrounded by green belt sites where construction is forbidden — this could be changed, but then we'd be into suburban sprawl (ugly, expensive to provide good public transport infrastructure for) around a dense urban core (the problem of which would remain unsolved).

And, as noted, the city is really far too vertical for pedal-power to be a general option — it'd exclude not just the elderly and medically unfit, but a lot of younger-but-unfit people as well.

The only thing that will fix Edinburgh's transport problems without making something worse will be teleport booths.

290:

Incidentally, per this morning's news, Gordon Brown is pushing for a Federal UK after Brexit.

This is a truly excellent idea and I'd back it wholeheartedly — the Federalization bit, not the Brexit bit — except it's 37 years too late to fix the problem, which I date to Margaret Thatcher ignoring the Scottish Devolution referendum of 1979 (not to mention the West Lothian Question).

Yes, Maggie is to blame. For everything.

Federalization would have comprehensively settled the WLQ and the question of devolution for Scotland in a fair and equitable manner. But a centralizing administration based in Westminster isn't going to go for a Federalization solution that delegates 80% of its powers to the regional parliaments, and every administration in Westminster is centralizing by default.

Which is why we're in this constitutional mess.

Finally, while Gordon Brown is a politician of impressive experience and intellect, he's about the worst possible person I can think of to lead such a campaign. (Not that we have any living former PMs who'd be any better.) He's uncharismatic and widely (if unfairly) blamed for the 2007-08 financial crisis (a global mess that he did a lot to tackle). If Theresa May had the intellectual chops and big perspective to push for it, I'd be hopeful ... but she's a centralizing authoritarian by instinct, so nope.

Not gonna happen, more's the pity.

291:

Teleport booths: Don't you bet on it - Niven had things to say about them :-)

More seriously, one main reason that transport (and the financial system!) is such a mess is that 'they' (and I don't mean just the gummint) have demanded that any improvements be essentially pain-free for the main pressure groups, even when they are a main cause of the problems. What you say is true, but that doesn't mean that there aren't solutions, which might well include improving the population's fitness and reducing the number of neds by large factors. Yeah, right .... However, Edinburgh must be close to the UK city with the most intractable transport problems, for the reasons you say.

292:

I wasn't actively aware that you were a fellow federalist. I guess the same applies to you of me?

293:

.... However, Edinburgh must be close to the UK city with the most intractable transport problems, for the reasons you say.

For added lulz:

Edinburgh used to have suburban railway stations. Alas, they were closed (post-Beeching) and the stations mostly demolished ... and the tracks have in many cases been turned into (excellent, well-used) cycle paths. So we can't re-open them and run trams along them (as happened in parts of Manchester).

Edinburgh used to have a tram network but it was shut down in the 1950s (hello, automobiles!) and the tracks torn up. A new tram network was spec'd out and the first line partly built over the past decade in an agonizing and over-budget fiasco that nevertheless finally delivered a really nice city-center-to-airport tram system that runs at around 110% of expected capacity and would be profitable ... if they'd completed the route out to Leith (at an extra 10% of cost — all the preparatory digging was completed before they threw the brakes on) and build the phase B and phase C tracks, giving the city the beginning of a proper light rail system.

Alas, the council was planning on applying for an EU loan for municipal transport development (which would have covered completing phase A) ... when the Brexit referendum derailed all such plans for good.

Give us a couple of billion and we can have a world-class tram network! Give us a couple of billion and we could probably have a couple of kilometers of road tunnel under the New Town to ease the traffic congestion. Or more underground car parks (we have a couple). Give us a few hundred million and we could have trolley buses (although the overhead wires might be problematic for the world heritage site status).

But it all requires spending money, and with a national government obsessed with austerity and funneling 90% of all money earmarked for transport infrastructure improvements into the bottomless pit that is London, it ain't gonna happen.

294:

Re. the rock, that's not actually the whole story. The basalt plug is the castle rock, and Calton hill is another. The old town is built on softer rocks that weren't eroded away by the glaciers. There were other long tunnels now disused built for various railway schemes around the new town, I forget the details. There are some basalt and similar dykes and such emplaced in the geology of the area, but around central Edinburgh most of it is sedimentary rocks of the Strathclyde and Inverclyde groups.
(reference - "Edinburgh Rock - The geology of Lothian" by Euan Clarkson and Brian Upton. See also their "Death of an Ocean - A geological borders ballad")

But just because it is technically feasible doesn't mean we could or should do it.

I can imagine vertical pavement based uderground bicycle storage, but that would also be expensive and require a bit of archaeological work during the build of each one.

Basically places like Edinburgh demonstrate the limits of 'free' market capitalism and it's approach to things, and how out of step it is with human desires and needs.

I don't see why we need a tram, when we could have electric or fuel cell buses with zero emissions onto the street. Trams are big and clunky and need lots of infrastructure.

295:

I read Brown's post-crash account of it, and was unsurprised to find how it spent almost no time at all on what actually led up and caused the crash. Whilst he did the correct thing to avoid a meltdown, the actual crash was a result of him being just fine with neoliberal economic policies and approaches, basically letting the banks do what they wanted as long as they cut him in on the profits via tax.

296:

Ideal world I'd like to see: a Federal Europe consisting of small states (3-30 million population), run along a hierarchical model closer to that of the USA than the current unbalanced mess we've got, with a strong representative government. The "UK" as it is now would be about 5-10 different states; Germany, France, and Italy would be similarly broken up; there wouldn't be a Basque problem in Spain; and so on. In other words, roughly 100 "states" rather than 50-odd, and with much less variation in population than the USA.

It'd be reasonable to see regional coalitions of states voting together on regional issues, insofar as you'd expect member states in the British isles to generally vote along the same lines on issues affecting them collectively, modulo some horse-trading (eg. fisheries policy).

Of course, this is never going to happen, for reasons too obvious to bother stating. Maybe when the alien invaders appoint me Planetary Overlord ...

297:

Er, to be fair, virtually no economists, financiers or politicians did any better. A few 'independent thinkers' did (I was one), but were almost universally regarded as ignorant laymen or even complete loons. Note that almost all of us predicted that it WOULD happen (because it was an inevitable result of the mathematics) but not WHEN or HOW. And don't think that it was either a major crash or the last one (even in the short term) - the next will almost certainly be worse, and the writing is already on the wall describing the triggers.

298:

Of course, this is never going to happen, for reasons too obvious to bother stating. Maybe when the alien invaders appoint me Planetary Overlord ...

Surely at this point you'll be too busy making sure the rest of the planet stops buggering up your plot lines?

299:

But they were all mixed up in the group think and neoliberal ideology, of course they'd fail too. It was dissapointing to see how Brown, who used to be much more left wing, fell for it too. Even I, a mere taxpaying peon, could see there was a housing bubble and things were going to go pop, and timed my mortgage accordingly. I was only wrong in that the bubble expanded for a year more than I expected it to.
It's a few years since I read it, but I can't even recall much about how markets weren't perfect or suchlike.

300:

This poll confirms my suspicion that Scotland's independence won't hurt May in 2020

http://www.businessinsider.com/poll-brexit-is-more-important-to-voters-than-keeping-the-uk-togerther-2017-3

This story is (on its face) good news for May and the Brexiter Tories. Or at least, they'll use his comments to justify to themselves that Brexit won't hurt as bad as the "liberal elite economists" have been warning.

http://www.businessinsider.com/wolfgang-schaeuble-calls-for-strong-city-of-london-after-brexit-2017-3

301:

"Say hello to the new Monopoly piece for the Brexit edition":

https://twitter.com/brexitannia2017/status/843033171226742785

302:

@286 there is a general focus in both Firefox and Chrome to encourage sites to migrate towards https away from unencrypted http connections.

This is being helped by https://letsencrypt.org/ who will happily provide a website with a free ssl certificate (and even provide the tools to keep it constantly upto date)..

303:

@296 A few of Brown's greatests disasters can be pinned down to decisions made in the early days of the 1997 Labour Government. Removing banking oversight from the Bank of England is one of those and the one that directly created parts of the 2007 crisis...

304:

On brexiteers telling people to shut up, there is a lot of noise like that coming from people on twitter and blog comments. I don't know how much they represent your average brxit voter though.

Unfortunately many of the commenters seem to think that tariff free trade and movement with all and sundry is our god given right, and the EU not wanting to let us have that after brexit constitutes a direct and deliberate attack on us, instead of us merely not wanting to play the game by the rules and going home.

305:

Also here's a blog post by an economist type person suggesting how the negotiations are going and will go: http://www.coppolacomment.com/2017/03/game-theory-in-brexitland.html

306:

Yes, except that the housing bubble HASN'T popped! It was obvious, back in the 1960s, that it would lead to a crash (eventually), and most of the analyses I have seen indicate that UK houses prices are still a factor of 3 above a sustainable level. This is very relevant to this thread. When the UK's economy starts to slide seriously, we are looking at the pound being $0.5 or less, and you know how the government would respond to that. Also, if the EU offers any concessions, the rabid Brexiteers will scent blood and harden their demands, and Davis is turning out to be even more of a brain cell desert than previously expected. And the Irish problem isn't going to improve. Plus Trump might demand to see his Scottish domains during his state visit, which would be 'interesting'. By 2019, May will almost certainly be paranoid, and will respond to any 'unofficial' referendum with threats - cancelling the Barnett formula is an obvious one, but she may even threaten to use emergency powers to use troops or impose direct rule.

307:

He's thinking rationally, and I am not convinced that May and the rest of the rabid Brexiteers are - i.e. they will NOT step back from the cliff. I am pretty certain that we will leave with no deal (or a deal involving security and intelligence), unless tthe situation completely melts down before then, in which case all predictions are off.

308:

The spam is suggestive, perhaps rUK could forge a deal with India, might have to accept being a junior partner, given the recent silliness...

309:

"Maybe when the alien invaders appoint me Planetary Overlord...

That's how all of my "when I rule the world" fantasies start.

Since we're past 300, has anyone paid attention to Tillerson's talk on the subject of N. Korea? One more "Trump thing" to worry about.

310:

The Brexit edition of Monopoly goes something like this:

"You cannot buy Baltic Avenue. It is owned by a Russian oligarch. You cannot buy Atlantic Ave, it is owned by the Chinese. Sorry, Park Place is owned by the Trump Organization. You have nowhere to build your house and are expected to pay rent. Perhaps you can find work as a tour guide or a prostitute, otherwise we'll let you starve, because frankly, we're nostalgic for the days when the lower classes didn't get so tall."

311:

Do not pass go. Do not collect £200 in social security benefits. Go directly to debtors prison.

312:

If May can't get a deal with the EU that benefits the UK, can't think why she thinks she can get one with DT. (At this time, feel that the EU is many orders more transparent and sane.)


Re: 'The 100 States of the EU'

While I agree that most countries could be split up into smaller territories, doing it strictly on a headcount basis is likely to create even more cultural rifts. You'd also probably have to a taller hierarchy based on type of public program - some programs work better at a very local level (elementary schools and hospitals) while others need to work similarly across the entire federation (energy, environment, police, banking/finance, etc.).

Some of the problem of governing people is the notion that one person/voter can and will always only have one 'state' (demo profile, needs, medical status, earnings potential, etc.). People are many different things all at the same time, and their needs shift back and forth both predictably and unpredictably. Add in corporate entities and the whole thing gets even more complicated.

Have wondered for some time why economic modeling is still using only a handful of variables in maybe 3 scenarios (i.e., more, same, less of one variable) that can spit out only a meager number of disconnected-from-the-much-more-complex-real-world possibilities. Or, if the economic models can't handle all of the complexities/possible population segments in one pass, then run the same model over every income and age percentile - twice - once for males and once for females. Then graph the whole lot and compare where that policy has its limits, so that you can provide a safety net/Plan B for that segment.

Since the early '90s companies have been selling per-CMA market segmentation models that describe/drill down to over 100 socio-economic segments. (E.g., The auto industry has over 100 segments.) So I do not understand how government which by definition is responsible for looking after all its population segments, restricts itself to formulating policy using bigger lumps of data over deeper understanding of their electorate. (Not going to understand the workings of a microbe if you insist on using a telescope - both have powerful lenses, but big differences in what they reveal.)

313:

She won't, but she will claim an unfavourable deal is favourable. The chances are that the USA will rebalance its trade with the UK, by hook or crook, which will do wonders for our balance of trade. It is interesting that the second article contained more definite wording on that a few minutes ago.

http://visual.ons.gov.uk/uk-perspectives-2016-trade-with-the-eu-and-beyond/
https://www.yahoo.com/news/u-favors-free-fair-balanced-trade-mnuchin-161843647--business.html

315:

You can't buy any of those since they aren't on the British Monopoly board.


http://www.edinphoto.org.uk/0_MY_P_I/0_my_photographs_london_monopoly_board_ju31.htm

316:

while Gordon Brown is a politician of impressive experience and intellect, he's about the worst possible person I can think of to lead such a campaign

It's his ego that's the impressive thing. Remember, this is the man who was so utterly focussed on becoming PM, he (and his mates) were briefing against Blair almost from the start of Government.

Notably short-tempered and given to tantrums, one Chief of the Defence Staff apparently earned admiration among Civil Servants for refusing to be impressed by a Brown "episode" (given that while Brown was polishing his ego as a student politician and Rector, said CDS had been crawling around the Borneo jungle with the SAS).

He chickened out of his best chance of winning an election; and in his years spent using Damian McBride, showed his colours as perfectly willing to indulge in backstabbing and rumour. Unless, of course, you believe that he had no idea what his SPAD was up to, had never before indulged in anything similar, and that it all came out of nowhere and certainly didn't require any comments about turbulent priests.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damian_McBride

So no, I'm no more impressed by Gordon Brown than by Boris Johnson. Both showed that they were completely willing to screw over their own Party and colleagues in order to secure the leadership, both showed that personal advantage mattered more than national interest.

317:

Neither news post makes me feel particularly warm and fuzzy on the free trade thing. Everything is still up in the air and open to re-negotiation at any time. All we've had is talk about creating new agreements, there's no evidence that there's been any action taken on any agreement with anyone. Empty promises and empty threats except that such unpredictability is not good for anyone's health.

318:

Regarding tunnels - there are two such of note. One is the Scotland Street tunnel, that runs north from Waverley Station to a Tesco car park in Canonmills; the other is the Innocent Railway Tunnel, now a cycle path.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edinburgh_and_Dalkeith_Railway

Looking at the old railway works, they focussed on the North of Edinburgh, because in 19C that was where the housing was - Edinburgh only expanded southwards once it had filled all the gaps towards Leith and the sea. Those northern tracks are the ones turned into cycleways (successfully - I used to be able to cycle from Crewe Toll to Murrayfield faster than any car without blue lights).

The missed opportunity is the one to actually use the remaining railway lines around Edinburgh; reopening or building stations in Morningside Station, for instance, or Millerhill, or Newcraighall, or Leith, wouldn't require new trackways, and not much renovation. David Begg (unusual in being a local politician who appeared to practise what he preached - I met him on a bus) tried to achieve this, but failed...

http://www.railwatch.org.uk/backtrack/rw79/edin.html

319:

Ideal world I'd like to see: a Federal Europe consisting of small states (3-30 million population), run along a hierarchical model closer to that of the USA than the current unbalanced mess we've got, with a strong representative government.

No, the easy way to get there is to have a 90% populations drop over the next 100 years. While this will put paid to the concept of nation-state, I suspect the surviving tribes (which will almost certainly include the Basque) will find your model remarkably prescient.

Incidentally, the idea that a US with New York, Texas, and California is balanced is humorous in the extreme. It takes strenuous and probably unsustainable efforts to keep the population densities in places like Nevada, the Dakotas, and Wyoming above what they were under the Indians.

320:

On the grass is always greener side, I find it amusing that here in California, we complain about the idiotic city designs that have privileged cars over everything else. Take cars away from LA (or San Diego, where I live) and the place rapidly becomes unlivable, especially out in the burbs where I am now.

It's one of those odious puzzles, I guess. Which is worse, trying to redesign a pre-industrial city to deal with industrial transport, or trying to redesign a car-culture city to function without cars. The only good (and partial) answer is that both suck in their own special ways.

As for basalt, I'd hire some Hawaiian road engineers. They seem to have had no problem with knocking roads through the basalt on Oahu (or US military engineers, who undergrounded the entire Pearl Harbor fuel supply after the last little sneak attack. There are some hollow hills near the harbor). In your neck of the woods, whoever's building those underground reservoirs in the Canaries might fancy a spot of cold weather and a new contract.

321:

Incidentally, the idea that a US with New York, Texas, and California is balanced is humorous in the extreme

It's a bit more balanced than the EU, though, where you've got Germany holding down the center with ~80 million people and peripheral nations like Croatia and Estonia with ~2-5 million people and a per-capita GDP up to an order of magnitude lower. And Germany has the central bank.

322:

trying to redesign a pre-industrial city to deal with industrial transport, or trying to redesign a car-culture city to function without cars.

I'm going to say the pre-industrial city now surrounded by former industrial development. With sprawl you can redevelop and increase density fairly easily, and it's fairly well-known how to make PT work once you decide to do that (trams, trains, bus feeders). But when you have the same number of people already densificated but without the PT, it's expensive to shuffle them about in order to build PT, When a lot of the to-be-shuffled is heritage listed it gets very hard indeed, especially because a lot of it can't stand alone - removing one or two houses to build a hole often causes the neighbouring houses to fall in. Even in Sydney this has been an issue, with our "newer" old houses.

The other problem is not so much making holes in the rock underneath, but doing that while people are living in the houses about. Sydney Cross City Tunnel caused problems that even the hole-makers and government admitted were serious. But quite a lot of people whose problems weren't serious were vigorously upset. It turns out that shaking stone houses isn't really idea, and shaking them just a little, but for a couple of months, can be as bad as shaking them quite a lot but for only a few minutes. The sand that used to be mortar that used to hold the stones together likes to fall out from the shaking, especially if you tilt the house a little bit.

I suspect in Pearl Harbour they didn't bury the fuel dumps under the civilian part of the city. Nor in Hawaii more generally, especially since in both cases you've got territory that's under military occupation so the problems are more easily solved. Sure, US civilians in the area might whine but they've been taught to worship both money and military and that makes it easy. The Hawai'ians... no problem.

323:

Well, you're correct that the fuel dumps at Pearl Harbor were not built under civilian buildings, but they were burrowed into basalt. I suspect that it's not quite as hard as people make it, given that they've driven subway tunnels through far worse (for instance, past the La Brea Tar Pits in LA...)

As an aside, if you want to have a really interesting discussion, have a talk with a native Hawaiian about how they feel about US occupation. Depending on how you look at it, they were either an independent, sovereign (literally) nation conquered by the Americans, or they're the only American tribe conquered and annexed without a treaty, a reservation, or rights on their own land. They've got a really good case for reparations at least, a reservation (imagine how well Hawaiian casinos would do), or full independence. Given the way their ancestral chiefs acted (google Hawaiian sandalwood trade) and how strategically useful those islands are, I suspect that if they became an independent nation, they wouldn't stay that way for long, and most of the natives wouldn't be terribly happy under chiefly rule or whatever came after it either. Still, I don't think that justifies the natives' past and current treatment.

Anyway, now that we've solved the problem of introducing cththonian traffic engineers to Glasgow, perhaps we can solve that pesky little Brexit problem too. Personally, I think the Scotland/Iceland Atlantic axis is the way to go for freedom and aye in 2018, but what do I know?

324:

Have wondered for some time why economic modeling is still using only a handful of variables in maybe 3 scenarios

Because economics isn't, by-and-large, and evidence-based discipline. Even ignoring the times that economic hypotheses* are used as justification for actions that are desired for other reasons, they are generally not tested and revised in the same way that one would expect.

If you look at government economics are being more for providing a veneer of justification for actions that are desired for other reasons it makes more sense.

See, for example, Supply Side Economics, which hasn't worked (ever) yet is still trotted out to explain policies that are desired for other reasons (eg. pleasing campaign donors).

I suspect you'd enjoy this book:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8651441-zombie-economics

And also this one:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10303367-debunking-economics---revised-and-expanded-edition

(The latter takes economic theories to task for internal inconsistencies and never-verified assumptions. Less of a fun read, but probably more useful for understanding economics.)


*A better term than "theory", given the lack of testing/revision/etc that would apply to a theory in, say, physics or chemistry.

325:

a really interesting discussion, have a talk with a native Hawaiian about how they feel about US occupation.

I met some Hawai'ian nationalists at a protest in Queensland once. They'd come over in solidarity with locals who objected to both the US dumping nuclear waste in Australian wilderness, and the military "live fire exercises" in vulnerable ecosystems (in which I think we could include the Australian political system). Amusingly I met them by hearing them talking and saying "that sounds polynesian but I don't recognise the actual... oh, you're americans" and getting a bit of an earful :) I still have the bumper sticker (which is a US-sized bumper sticker, it would cover half the back end of an Australian car).

326:

Given the way their ancestral chiefs acted ... wouldn't be terribly happy under chiefly rule or whatever came after it

I will refrain from pointing at the smoldering dung-fire in Washington and asking whether that's the example of joyfully received government that you're pointing to.

Much as US/British/Australian/Aotearoan law and custom has changed since the 1800's, so have the tribal equivalents. I'm much more familiar with Aotearoa, where things have become civilised over time much in the same way as the colonial law has. Both sides have largely given up "disciplinary expeditions", for example. Well, the Ruatoria terrorist raids excepted. But in general theres much more "forceful argument" and much less "murdered in their beds" as mechanisms for modifying government behaviour these days.

My expectation is that Hawai'i would follow the same pattern if they had the power to do so.

327:

The problem with old Hawai'i was that it was the last primary, formed from chiefdoms state in the world. In other words, there were god-kings (ali'i nui) who in some cases were born from incestuous relationships (cf Egyptian pharaohs), a bureaucracy of lesser chiefs and priests, and the peasants.

The islands unified under Kamehameha the Great, but during his rule, the population probably dropped by 50-80%, due to introduced diseases (shades of Elizabeth II, another great monarch). The traditional social system broke down as the chiefs bought western goods by forcing their peasants to go into the uplands to collect sandalwood for the China trade, as opposed to, say, growing food, and then the whole thing finally broke down into the end of the kapu/taboo system (for good and bad), adoption of Christianity (after Kamehameha's death), adoption of freehold land tenure (which let a lot of expat Americans buy land and start farming sugar cane and ranching), and then, most of a century later, forcible annexation into the US under the auspices of those plantation owners.

As I understand it (and I'm an outsider), some of the old chiefly families, like the Bishops, still own a lot of land in Hawai'i. If you put them back in charge, you'd have a few rich people, a lot of poor people, and an unhappy middle class of mostly expats who got the short end of the stick, being outsiders and all that. While I think the native Hawaiians could theoretically do a pretty good job running their islands (based on what they still do in some of the more isolated communities), I suspect that what the chiefly families would do to the island if they ruled isn't all that different than what Trump is trying to do to the US: set things up for their own advantage, primarily through international finance, perhaps with some benefit to those peasants who chose to follow them. That's why, to me at least, the issue of Hawaiian sovereignty is such a mess. It isn't that they don't deserve reparations, it's that, idealist that I am, I'd rather they ended up better with their own sovereignty, not worse.

328:

I'd rather they ended up better with their own sovereignty, not worse.

You might find this series of pieces on Australian treaty progress interesting: http://clubtroppo.com.au/2017/03/16/what-might-a-treaty-look-like

In that sense Samoa and Fiji serve as cautionary tales, but the Cook Islands and Tuvalu seem to work fairly well. The trick is to successfully impose a government model that you approve of without coming across as a neo-colonial arsehole. Ahem.

329:

You can't dig road tunnels because the city is built on top of the basalt plug left by an extinct volcano, and all the soft rock was shoveled away by the ice sheet umpty thousand years ago.

Brisbane has been on a bit of a tunnel-building rampage for the last decade or so, and it seems this is likely to continue. The local geology is predominantly Brisbane Tuff, which is a welded tuff with similar properties to basalt, and granite, which is somewhat harder. The secret sauce is modern hard rock tunnel boring machines built to purpose in place. I guess Edinburgh wouldn't be up so much for road tunnels, but I could see a half decent metro system fitting in with your UNESCO world heritage stuff pretty well. Add some above ground links to Glasgow (which I gather already has a pretty special one).

Brief digression: we had an interesting architectural heritage in Brisbane, but we trashed it in the 70s and 80s in favour of concrete and steel stuff that could have been worthwhile if it were genuine brutalism. Maybe our Victorian stone and timber based stuff wasn't as fancy and elderly as your late medieval structures, but it was ours, we liked it and TL;DR property developers should be hung by the ankles. The 60s buildings we have that were closest to brutalism, mostly clad in a sort of exposed aggregate pebblecrete... for reasons I can't fathom they are currently mostly being painted by their current owners. I saw one painted the same colour as the underlying pebblecrete, just uneven and amateurish. They later painted it black.

330:

Because economics isn't, by-and-large, and evidence-based discipline.

One of my bugbear themes is that the Rationalism versus Empiricism dualism in Western culture never really went away (some say it went away after Kant, some that it was after Heisenberg), the Rationalists merely went underground (or more specifically, into their own disciplines where they laid low till the ripples subsided). The various versions of economics that veer toward a purely Rationalist approach can reliably be brought out as examples of a realm of study that is highly quantitative but still isn't empirical in any way (I usually use certain versions of anthropology as examples of solid empirical material that is not quantitative).

On the other hand #NotAllEconomists and all that. Quiggan himself in general and that book you cite in particular would count among what is quite possibly a majority who do in fact look to economic history and evidence-based approaches (but don't get the thinktank dollars and free publicity).

I remember once reading a book about the establishment of the Santa Fe Institute, and people's impressions of physicists and economists workshopping their fields together. Well I guess there's a quote I used to see attributed to Einstein: In as much as the laws of mathematics are accurate, they do not reflect reality; in as much as they reflect reality, they are not accurate.

331:

May might not want to go down in history as presiding over the breakup but there are elements who would view this as a giant asset-stripping exercise with England being the bit that is actually worth something and the EU/Ireland being welcome to the loss making bits in a have-a-poison-chalice kind of way. Brexiteers may appear crazy based on the headlines but these are just marketing campaigns designed to keep some very frightened people angry enough to follow a path that is not in their interests. It must be in someone's interest though.

If the UK does break up, who gets the overseas territories?

332:

Could someone knowledgeable please enlighten me as to why there is so much pressure to hold Indyref2 as soon as possible, as opposed to when the Brexit dust has settled? (Ignoring the obvious opportunistic reasons)

333:
It doesn't surprise me that asylum seekers were equated with E.U. workers. Scott Adams (Dilbert) http://blog.dilbert.com/ has a great series concerning cognitive dissonance. Well worth reading even if it does raise the blood pressure on occasions.

There's a phrase that's been used to describe Steven Fry, "a stupid person's idea of a clever person". Whilst I've no wish to describe you as stupid, the phrases makes for a pretty good description of Scott Adams who is a ghastly sexist, racist, frothing trump supporter with a very high opinion of himself and a nice example of the dunning-kruger effect.

A lot of what he has to say involves cognitive dissonance though, I'll give you that.

334:

Because, if it is delayed that long, it would take far longer to rejoin the EU, and undoing the economic, social and political harm would take far longer.

335:
there are elements who would view this as a giant asset-stripping exercise with England being the bit that is actually worth something

England being worth something seems like a charmingly optimistic view. There's London and its environs, but does anywhere more than (say) 50 miles from the centre of london actually pay its own way? There's a good reason why the north and west have been so thoroughly neglected by so many successive governments.

More devolution, I say. For too long have the people of Mercia laboured under the yoke of the Wessex elite, and it is time for them to take their freedom from the oppressors!

336:

Look a bit harder. A huge proportion of England's 'assets' are due to its position in the EU. Much of its manufacturing is because we are a multinational-friendly country within the EU. Its 'financial services' (17% of of the UK's foreign exchange) are because we are a monetarist-friendly country within the EU. Something like half of its leading researchers and people in 'creative sectors' are from elsewhere in the EU. We have had three decades of deliberate dumbing-down of the population, so we no longer have a skilled, native workforce. Its economy depends on property prices, an increasing amount is foreign-owned for investment, and any serious loss of confidence will see that crash. Don't make me laugh by mentioning natural resources. Assets? Like what?

If the UK crashes and burns, expect the USA (effectively) to annex everywhere potentially useful for expanding its hegemony or exploiting natural resources, and the rest will be left to sink on their own.

337:

These links are relevant.

https://www.cebr.com/reports/how-the-uk-economys-key-sectors-link-to-the-eus-single-market/
https://amp.theguardian.com/business/2017/mar/14/uk-economy-bcc-british-chambers-of-commerce-brexit-inflation

The importance of the latter is that it mentions how dependent the 'health' of our economy is on consumer spending, and that is part of a feedback loop involving government spending, 'confidence' and the housing boom. The last is because (a) many people cannot repay their mortgages at all without it and (b) many pension funds and banks are dependent on it. Osbugger ignored that, which is why the austerity campaign didn't reduce the deficit anywhere near as much as he claimed it would.

338:

"It must be in someone's interest though."

Maybe it's the same people who've been stirring fascist shit into the Eu and the NATO alliance for the last couple years... the folks responsible for Trump, who gave Le Pen a huge loan, who might be covertly supporting Jobbik, etc....

Could it be... Russia? Putin?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/08/russia-europe-right-putin-front-national-eu

https://www.thenation.com/article/decrying-ukraines-fascists-putin-allying-europes-far-right/

https://euobserver.com/eu-elections/124156

I suspect that Brexit was the first "surprise attack" by Russians against the West, (why has nobody dug deeply into this issue?) followed by Trump's election, and don't forget those loans to Le Pen and the close relationship between Russia and Golden Dawn, Ataka, Jobbik, and Geert Wilder. I predict that after Brexit is over and done Putin will be England's new best friend!

339:

Re: 'Einstein: In as much as the laws of mathematics are accurate, they do not reflect reality; in as much as they reflect reality, they are not accurate.'

Great quote!

Agree somewhat with both you and Richard ... but also see economics and economists as laggards in adopting contemporary methods and practices, mostly 'hard data/evidence' and computer modelling.

The only economists I'm familiar with are those commonly discussed in the news/media. So, am aware that mathematicians (e.g., John Nash) have contributed to economic principles and more recently that a youngish economist has actually collected and analyzed real historical data (Thomas Piketty). Great! - this places 2017 economics at about pre-WW2 vs. the rest of science and technology. The problem is that the economy is the biggest club that politicians have to bash their electorate with, yet they're deliberately using an un-modernized therefore likely unreliable tool to govern. I find this stupid and dangerous to both the politicians and their electorates.

Am guessing that at present most university and major corp-based computer modelling allows for much more intensive examination of data. My beef/point is that political economists used by political parties/elected gov'ts are deliberately not using available modern day tools to even simulate let alone do in-market pre-tests of their policies. We're in a 'show me the money/data' era, but our elected leaders prefer to ignore this even as they push financial and military technologies to go this route - using better, faster simulations.

There is no reason why economic modelling cannot achieve better precision and adaptability. Just consider how many variables current video games use. Swapping guns for trade goods (economics-based video game) might even become a best seller and a proxy for testing various economic strategies if you toss in some historical and/or SF elements into the mix: 'Crush your enemy without spilling any blood or having to waste your tax dollars buying over-priced ammo or magic talismans!'

340:

I put rather more trust in Reuters than in the first two. The first contained an egregious misrepresentation, and the second is notorious. Also, you might like to look into Hungary's politics.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-dutch-wilders-us-idUSBRE8890A720120910
http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/05/14/putin-ties-ukraines-government-to-neo-nazis-a-new-law-seems-to-back-him-up/

But, yes, OF COURSE, Russia isn't the EU's friend, and certainly won't become so while the EU continues to be so actively hostile to it.

341:

I forgot to say that the organisations who have been pushing Brexit are well-known, and the main one is a renegade Australian (now a USA citizen).

342:

FWIW and as a matter of curiosity, my morning newspaper contains a meditation on Trump, Brexit and the EU by a former Scottish First Minister. How he got from Holyrood to San Antonio is unclear.

http://www.expressnews.com/opinion/commentary/article/Britain-s-Brexit-and-America-s-Trump-the-EU

Britain’s Brexit and America’s Trump: the EU shouldn’t be the enemy
Henry McLeish, For the Express-News
March 18, 2017

Henry McLeish, former first minister of Scotland, is visiting professor of European studies at the St. Mary’s University School of Law.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_McLeish
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Mary%27s_University_School_of_Law

345:

You mean the same guy who's news organization is one of Trump's biggest cheerleaders? I'm afraid that doesn't help your case much.

I don't want to be too paranoid here, and there's less evidence than I'd like, but I think that before invoking Article 50, the UK would be very, very wise to do some serious investigations into whether any of the key pro-Brexit people received money from Russia, or from someone associated w/Russia, or from anyone in the Trump organization.

We already know that Bannon was involved in Brexit via Cambridge Analytica (you couldn't ask for a bigger red flag,) we know that Russia is giving aid to fascists across Europe, and we know that a couple of the players are the same in the Trump world as the Brexit world.

On a more intuitive note, both the pro-Brexit and pro-Trump efforts feel the same and both involved some weirdness in the polls... at this point the idea that any responsible party in the U.K. is willing to pull the trigger on Brexit without some very careful checking is really making me twitch. Ultimately, if the evidence isn't there I'm willing to move on, but what I'm seeing here isn't sane behavior on a number of fronts.

(And yes, the issue of "sane behavior" is true in the U.S. too, and that also makes me twitch, but worse.)

346:

The Dirty Digger as a Russian agent? As a conspiracy theory, that has a certain charm ....

347:

Ah, HA! ..But had you heard of the Y.M.C.A. s involvement in this Vast International Conspiracy ?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Npbbwj2IrLE

348:

Re: ' ... but what I'm seeing here isn't sane behavior on a number of fronts.'

Can't find it now but recall reading that the UK has a 'sane-clause' in its constitution as grounds for dismissing an elected official.

349:

Segways are silly. Anyone riding on the damn things runs the serious risk of dying of sheer embarrassment. On the other hand some sort of re-imagined Sinclair Electric Car? At some time in the near future with the main Shell of the Thing being £D printer extruded plus an added power and steering unit plus battery from someplace else?

350:

some sort of re-imagined Sinclair Electric Car?

From the Nephew branch of the Sinclair family.

351:

some sort of re-imagined Sinclair Electric Car? At some time in the near future with the main Shell of the Thing being £D printer extruded plus an added power and steering unit plus battery from someplace else?

I suggest looking very closely at the Trisled Rotovelo, a rotomolded velomobile with a semi-structural plastic shell. Then think about the 3D printer producing a heavier but weaker version of the same thing, and also about the build volume being about 2 cubic metres. It would be cheaper and better to injection mold them.

I know the guy(s) who make them and was an alpha/beta tester/design cosultant, and they're not $AU6500 because there's a huge profit margin. If you bumped that cost up by making the plastic shell more expensive (with a half million dollar set of injection molds rather than a $100k rotomold, say), you'd need to sell a lot more of them to pay off the mold.

My take on that project is that there's a lot of demand for the product at about a tenth the cost of manufacture. If they were 500 euro he could sell thousands of them, but at 5000 euro it's a few sales every now and then. Hundreds sold, worldwide.

352:

Something like the Iris E-Assist Trike from Grant Sinclair (Clive's nephew).

I'm all for ultra light, electric assist trikes, velomobiles and quads like this. Even an updated G-Wiz. But you still have store them somewhere, charge the batteries and stop them being stolen. And share the roads with Range Rovers, tipper lorries, buses, white vans and bicycles. We're not ready yet. Maybe they'll come into their own when petrol goes through £10 per litre and the alternative is a horse.

353:

Have been watching science-popularizing scientists lately and this one really struck a few chords. David Suzuki (PhD Zoology) host of the longest running science TV show in Canada (The Nature of Things). In this video he discusses then-recent Canadian and Australian events and their impact on science. His approach is a mix of idealism and realism.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Suzuki

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UC2XeS1aTYk

2013 Jack Beale Lecture: Dr David Suzuki (1:09:50)
UNSWTV

About 33 minutes into this video, Suzuki says: 'Globalization hides the impact of consumerism ...'. Had wondered about this, too. Overall, this guy (DS) would fit right into the discussions on this blog.

354:

Holy sheet. They reckon that thing will be stable at 30mph? Look, I'm involved with their competitor, but still, there's a long and rich history of similar things dying from embarrassment when they don't work.

This search will give you an idea of what's on the market now: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=electric+velomobile

And for those still wondering why delta trikes are so rarely seen on the roads, look up Top Gear's treatment of the Reliant Robin. It's just an inherently stupid design.

The UK has pedal car racing, but IIRC they require four wheels. In Australia we have Pedal Prix which is dominated by three wheelers (lower rolling resistance) and has some crashes that might help you understand why I laugh at the idea of a much less stable vehicle being safer. Like this, at less than 30mph: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2cBSliumnc

Remember: those vehicles are significantly more stable than the Sinclair thing and travelling more slowly, on a race track. They're not navigating city streets with right angle corners and cars pulling out of parking spaces or children running across the road. The very first thing I'd do with the Sinclair thing is exactly what the Top Gear kids did: the moose test. Full speed, brake and swerve.

355:

Lurking economist here...

An awful lot of what gets labelled "economics", and who gets labelled "economists", isn't/aren't. "Supply-side economics" [sic], mentioned above, is a good example. Paul Krugman (left-leaning mainstream economist, Nobelist, and Charlie fan) regularly trolls Greg Mankiw (right-leaning mainstream economist and former chair of Bush-2's Council of Economic Advisers) for Mankiw having called supply-side economics the domain of "charlatans and cranks" in the first edition of his textbook and then removing the remark in subsequent editions. Example here:
https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/15/charlatans-and-cranks-2

"Austerity" is a more recent example. I don't think you'll find it in a mainstream econ textbook (except maybe as an example of how not to run macro policy in a recession).

If you want to read about an economist who contributed hugely to the formalisation of economic thinking, you can do a lot worse than reading some of the recent eulogies to Ken Arrow, who last month sadly passed away at the age of 95. Googling will yield any number of laudatory obituaries, but if you want to see how a young-ish economist writes about him and how important he was, this is excellent:

https://afinetheorem.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/the-greatest-living-economist-has-passed-away-notes-on-kenneth-arrow-part-i/

And while he was best known as a theorist, the real world was always at the front of his mind. Too many examples to cite, but maybe readers of this blog would like this one from 1978 based just on the title:

https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/a-cautious-case-for-socialism

I was lucky enough to take a course from him on the history of economic thought when I was a grad student many years ago. A lovely guy, not at all arrogant, and just unbelievably brilliant.

356:

I'm waiting for something a bit taller, wider and with more wheels...

look up Top Gear's treatment of the Reliant Robin

Seemed perfectly fine to me...

(2008? Really? Blimey...)

357:

The Sinclair Iris is a tadpole layout (2F1R), not delta just like a typical HPV tricycle or velomobile. I think it's probably a little taller but who knows. The Pedal Prix had good comedic value, thanks.

358:

Personally, I'd love to see a modern, electric version of the Lean Machine.

359:

Sinclair Iris is a tadpole layout (2F1R), not delta

Sorry, that was not at all clear from the really crappy images on their website, and the very visible rear wheel makes it look like a delta. But yes, on much closer inspection it's a standard velomobile with two 406 front wheels, but wider and taller than most (95cm wide, 128cm tall), and a 559 rear wheel.

A few nasty things spring to mind:

- 50kph but no suspension is going to be a bit harsh.

- 55kg is heavy. Mind you, for only 2500 Euro including electric drive it's not ever going to be lightweight.

- only 8 gears means I can't see how it's going to be usable except in very flat places

To expand on the last point, a wide range 8 speed cassette will get you 12T-40T, a little over 3x range, and people normally pedal at 60rpm to 120rpm assuming clipless pedals, which you really must have on a recumbent (clipless means a retention system using cleats on the shoe rather than toe clips, not flat pedals with no retention).

So if pedalling 120rpm at 50kph in top gear then pedalling 60rpm in bottom gear gets you about 8kph/ 5mph. That rules out going up hills without the motor unless you're very strong.

For reference, I had a Rohloff in my Rotovelo, and that was a bit limiting. I could reach 50kph on good roads just using pedal power, but much faster and I ran out of gears. The Rohloff has a 5.26x ratio, but even so hills on the Rotovelo were hard work (and it only weighed 35kg, not 55kg). Saying "just never, ever run the battery flat" is a recipe for range anxiety and not being able to use it for longer trips.

360:

The advantage of the Rotovelo, BTW, was robustness. You could lift it up and sit it on the back end to park it, so it needed 90cm x 100cm-ish to park in (2.5m high) and they interlock. But mostly rotomolding mean it was like stacking plastic kayaks, you just throw them all in and don't worry about it. Or play ice hockey in them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_wXHFab5XU

With a big clear plastic sun-catcher like that the Iris is going to need to be treated more carefully. Scratches on that windscreen are going to be easy to apply and very annoying to live with. But at least the body is plastic, so it should be less breakable than the numerous carbon-fibre and fibreglass velomobiles. And quieter than the Alleweder aluminium one :)

361:

Can't find it now but recall reading that the UK has a 'sane-clause' in its constitution as grounds for dismissing an elected official.

You're doing well if you've read the UK Constitution. It's spread around dozens of Acts of Parliament and even more precedents from courts. It would be sensible for us to have something like the US 25th Amendment, but I don't think we've got anything formal on the statute books.

The only precedent I can think of would be of installing the Prince of Wales as Regent when King George III wasn't quite up to performing his duties as monarch in the early 19th century.

362:

So maybe the (optimistic) timescale looks like this

Trigger Article 50 March 2017

Conclude Brexit negotiations March 2019

IndyRef2 September 2019

Conclude Scexit negotiations September 2019 (not sure that Scexit negotiations are simpler than Brexit negotiations?)

363:

Ah, the Brexit version of the C5 - still crap but with added mendacity to make people think it isn't.

It makes the same fundamental mistake as the C5 of trying to use the electric-bicycle legislative loophole - which is too restrictive to make even a decent bicycle, let alone anything more elaborate. Its important limits are: max weight 55kg, max power 250W, max powered speed 15mph. Note that: max powered speed. Certainly you can go faster than 15mph, but to comply with the legislation the motor has to cut out at 15mph so you are completely on your own.

The Brexit-C5 webpage is written so as to thoroughly obfuscate that important point. I can untangle it because I have in the past examined the regulations themselves to see if there is any obscure way of building something to comply with them that isn't crap (there isn't), but anyone who does not have that familiarity is going to think it can do 30mph under its own steam, when the truth is that at 30mph it will be entirely the rider's steam propelling it.

To appease people who do realise it won't do more than 15mph, they then suggest that the rider can still easily get from 15mph to 30mph because its "high gearing" breaks conservation of momentum, which is far out even by Brexit standards.

Those regulations also ensure that any vehicle complying with them is inherently crap on hills, because they do not allow the power to exceed 250W no matter how low the speed. Roads in the UK effectively have a maximum gradient of 1 in 4; anything steeper than that tends to give rise to a web page about how steep it is, but in hilly areas gradients that reach 1 in 4 are commonplace. 250W for 100kg of vehicle-plus-smallish-rider up 1 in 4 means a speed of roughly 2mph.

Range - I shall ignore what it says on the website since it is standard practice to claim an endurance of several times what you actually get for any battery-powered device, vehicular or otherwise. It has about twice the quoted battery watt-hour figure of the original C5; the original C5 would typically achieve a range of well under 10 miles, so doubling that you might expect 15 miles if you were very lucky.

They apparently have tried to address the two most visually obvious failings of the C5 - inconspicuousness and lack of weather protection. How well they have succeeded with the first is hard to determine without seeing a photo of it in traffic. It is 6cm lower than a Mini (an Issigonis Mini, not the bloated BMW thing for which the name is entirely inappropriate) and considerably narrower, so I suspect it ends up as "better, but not better enough".

Weather protection - present but not properly thought through. I see no indication in the website pics of any kind of windscreen wiper, and of course any kind of cabin heating to provide demisting is out of the question as it would consume more power than the motor does. So riding it in mucky weather is going to be like wearing a motorcycle helmet in mucky weather, only with no access to wipe the outside surface, a whole active (because pedalling, to exceed 15mph) body's worth of humidity emission on the inside instead of just a passive head, and considerably less ventilation. In short, the outside will be smothered in raindrops, the inside will be misted up to buggery, and you won't be able to see a bloody thing.

It also doesn't appear to have any opening windows. So when the sun does shine, it's going to be like an oven in there and you'll be drowning in your own sweat.

And it costs three and a half grand. Whereas for a few hundred you can get a second-hand car, which has wipers, heater/demister, and opening windows, which has no problems with range or recharging, is big enough to be seen, and which can effortlessly achieve the same speed as the rest of the traffic instead of cutting out at 15mph and leaving any higher speed entirely to the grunting, sweating rider. So pretty well the only people who are going to want to spend that money on it are those with enough enthusiasm to disregard practicality.

While this thing takes them to extremes, the mistakes it makes are the same general mistakes made by an awful lot of people who invent alternative vehicles or propose greater use of types of vehicles which already exist but are not popular: failing to recognise that their idea only works in an environment tailored to suit it (the tailoring to include the matters of weather and topography); and assuming that people will be happy to place their comfort and convenience second to conformance with an ideal - an ideal which they may not even share. Someone upthread mentioned scooters. In the UK these are popular with a very specific segment of the population: kids aged exactly 16, which is old enough to qualify for a scooter licence but not for a car one. As soon as they have the option, they move on to something with a roof, a heater and enough wellie to match speeds with traffic outside cities and be allowed on motorways.

364:

Regarding sanity-clause of MPs (and now I have a certain Marx Bros routine running in my head...)

In the UK it used to be that an MP who was 'sectioned' for six months or more, and was assessed by two doctors (picked by the Speaker) to still be mentally disordered, would have their seat vacated. That disqualification reason was removed by the Mental Health (Discrimination) Act 2013.

So, no matter how looney tunes your MP becomes, you'll have to wait for the next election to vote them out. On the other hand, if they're actually in Care, they can't do any damage in the House.

NZ retains such a provision (s56 Electoral Act 1993, carried through from earlier Acts) and I assume other countries have similar.

365:

Meant to add:
And the Regency Act 1937 (as amended) lays out the process to follow when the monarch is incapacitated, or not of legal age.

366:

All exactly true, with a couple of small exceptions. Scooters do have a place beyond 16 year olds. You'll see a lot of them in London and not just used as delivery vehicles. ~125cc scooters are the biggest selling segment of motorcycle sales. As for the Grant-C5, I agree this has no real future as an E-Assist bicycle. The interesting area is the next step up of quad and light car; the G-Wiz loophole. It needs license, registration, insurance, etc but the build requirements are a lot easier than for a full vehicle. Unfortunately, the Grant-C5 wouldn't really be great at that either. The G-Wiz did sell quite well and you still see them around, but they badly need an update. I figured a 2017 version with current tech LiOn batteries and a Honda generator in the boot would make quite a useful town vehicle. If I can just get over the horror of being in one while sharing the roads with SUVs, construction tipper lorries and white van man.

367:

Interestingly push scooters have a definite niche in Sydney with people who do mixed mode commutes and have annoying walking distances. The science says about 500m walking is tops, but if you have to cover 500-1000m it's annoying to wait for a bus, bikes parked at stations or bus stops get vandalised or stolen, but a scooter can be folded and carried on a bus or train pretty easily, and makes a 1km "walk" much easier. They make those with 15cm pneumatic wheels as well as 7cm solid ones, and that helps a lot with speed and the small bumps you find on footpaths.

The electric powered version of those can be a bit scary, as people often seem to prefer the road to the footpath (which is sensible respect for pedestrians), but they do 20-30khp with no protection and often in unexpected locations.

368:

I don't see why we need a tram, when we could have electric or fuel cell buses with zero emissions onto the street. Trams are big and clunky and need lots of infrastructure.
Unless you go for the sort of light railway "tram" that now occurs in places like, say, Edinburgh and Manchester, I actually prefer trolley buses. You don't need a permanent way, just a catenary (which amongst other things removes a real hazard for 2 wheelers), and dealing with a failed unit is lots easier. Also, you don't have to haul tons of batteries or potentially explosive liquids or gases with you.

369:

Interesting. I presume that, for example, "Germany" would be broken up roughly into the existing Lander?

370:

I'm aware of that; my point is that if people don't need encryption because they're not carrying out transactions that require "security" then there's no need for an https connection and the resultant "security certificate" hoopla.

371:

Just "a few" of "Greedy Gordon's greatest disasters"? The banking crash was predicted the same day as his relaxation of banking regulation.

372:

As for basalt, I'd hire some Hawaiian road engineers.

Try some Scottish ones; they can build roads and railways with sensible grades through granite and even Lewisian Gneiss (which is even harder), but only in places where you can carry out blasting work! Which means "not in urban areas", and also "only where you can close adjacent rights of way temporarily when arming and firing charges".

373:

Oh, nuts! The banking crisis was predicted LONG before that, not least because his deregulation was piffling compared to that which had been done earlier (1980s). Brown made mistakes and had serious flaws, but he remains one of the best of the senior politicians we have had in the past few decades. God help us.

374:

The media are lying to you! The ambition is to look to possibly hold Indyref2 in about September 2017.

375:

Its purpose has nothing to do with security, but so that the Web site managers can identify you and sell your browsing history on.

376:

You think Charlie doesn't know that? There's a choice one liner in Rule 34 where Liz Cavenaugh describes using a Police Segway as "looking rather like Roadrunner in the cartoons".

377:

Try looking at, for example, a Morgan 3-Wheeler, a Triking or a Polaris (No links because I don't care which you choose and this way I can't be accused of a biased selection).

378:

Those all seem to be priced like cars and designed to compete with the "convertible sportscar" market though. None are under 100kg, let alone at the sort of size and weight that you'd be able to convince authorities of any sort that "it's not a car, it's a bike".

I am hopeful that the european microcar regs will help, as they're designed to. 400kg, 4kW, 45kph - they're basically a shopping cart with pretensions, but if you live in an inner urban area I think it's at least possible to build something that fits that category and would be useful. Whether you could get it approved and registered is a different question and possibly a much more expensive one. We don't have anything like that in Oz or I would know much more about it (because I'd try to build one).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorised_quadricycle

379:

Yes, I agree with most of what you say, but there are several mistakes and/or misleading statements in what people have posted, when the objective is a (sub)urban runabout, used for commuting, shopping etc.

I believe that most modern velomobiles are tadpoles (certainly many are), because of the 'braking while cornering' problem, but practical urban runabouts definitely need four wheels (not least for carrying 25 Kg of luggage or shopping). That (together with the battery and motor weight issue) more-or-less prevents them being foldable or carryable.

The gearing problem is simple to solve. Use a Rohloff as a mid drive, or a Pinion, and produce a 2-speed, heavy duty rear hub with a 4:1 (or even 5:1) step-down for low range. You might be able to do better, but that's simple, using old technology. A motor could then even bypass the Rohloff or Pinion if needed.

The visibility myth is petrolhead polemic. If you can't see even a recumbent tricycle in time to stop, you can't see a small child, dog, or large lump of junk (which genuinely fell of the back of a lorry) in time to do so. You can't see them ahead of a car in front in a stream of traffic - so? - the same applies to ordinary cars when the other vehicles are vans, Chelsea tractors (with black glass windows, natch) etc., let alone lorries. I agree that they are not suitable for the near-motorway trunk roads (e.g. A303).

The requirement that almost all cars are suitable for roads like the A303, long distances and carrying 4-5 people is mainly a political and bureaucratic one. Such vehicles could be hired or shared from a pool when needed, and anyone who needed one most of the time would have to put up with the constraints of a runabout when in (sub)urban areas.

And, as far as your 250 watts is concerned, have some sympathy for me on my recumbent trike, because I can't deliver more than 125 watts at full fitness ....

380:

September 2018, from what I have heard.

381:

In Rome I often use an electric quadricycle from a on-demand renting service named Share'ngo (you search on the smartphone for one available nearby, book it and then open it with the phone.) They're easy to drive and powerful enough to match speed with IC cars.
It's like that:

http://support.sharengo.it/quali-accessori-hanno-le-auto

Personal ownership of cars may be obsolete, at least in urban areas. The big issue is either long trips for holidays or going to shopping malls or places like Ikea, where you need a "real" car.

382:

Conclude Scexit negotiations September 2019 (not sure that Scexit negotiations are simpler than Brexit negotiations?)

Ha ha nope.

Assuming a vote for Scottish Independence, what happens next gets quite interesting. There are a lot of bits of shared infrastructure to consider; for example, Scotland's current government is vehemently opposed to nuclear weapons, but the UK's nuclear deterrent submarine fleet is based in a facility a few miles outside Glasgow ... and there's no other port in the UK that can take it without multi-billion-pound upgrades and possibly some loss in security. (The subs can sortie into the north Atlantic from Faslane without fumbling through the Irish Sea; also, it's close enough to a big city with good transport connections to make maintenance easier than, say, basing the boomers at Scapa Flow.)

There's also the fact that HMRC are still barely capable of handling variations in income tax between Scotland and England, that Westminster reserved all foreign and narcotics related powers so there are policing, diplomatic, intelligence, and military issues to separate ... and that's before working out how much the divorce will cost and who gets the family silver (eg. the remaining North Sea and Atlantic oil and fisheries reserves).

TLDR is that I'd expect Scexit negotiations to be even more fraught than those for Brexit! And I am an optimist, and I'm in favour of Scottish Independence. YMMV.

383:

Damn. I forgot to respond to this point. 425 Kg EXcluding batteries (and 45 KPH) is intended to allow things like milk floats, but is a disaster for mixing with pedestrians, invalid chairs and ordinary cyclists. I remember when ordinary saloon cars were little heavier, and the Austin 7 was only 360 Kg! 100 Kg INcluding batteries is more like an appropriate limit.

384:

Ah, possibly failing to answer the question actually asked, but at least demonstrating that it is possible to build a stable tricycle vehicle!

I'd be dubious about a 45kph limit being adequate outside the most congested urban areas though. My Mum lives ~1 mile from her local town centre, and 50kph (well 30mph) is legal and practicable for most of the distance.

385:

You are correct. Put it down to brain fade, and would a mod please edit #375 to correct the year?

386:

who gets the family silver (eg. the remaining North Sea and Atlantic oil and fisheries reserves).

Well, surely the usual international law provisions for determining the extent of territorial waters would apply, regardless of how much the Con Party might wish otherwise?

387:

I doubt that it will get that far before something occurs to foul up the UK's politics beyond my imagination - possibly not beyond yours, but maybe even that. Generally, Prime Ministers develop paranoia (in the lay sense) round about the end of their second term, but May was showing strong signs of that while she was Home Secretary and stress is a major cause of various forms of psychosis (including paranoia). Both Sinn Fein (what will happen next Monday?) and the rabid Brexiteers / Ukippers are likely to use every opportunity to increase that stress, will treat every attempt at compromise as a sign of a weakness to exploit, and that's even assuming that an economic crash can be held at bay until after ScotExit. I really do think that she might use emergency powers and/or troops if the SNP pushes as hard as it seems likely to. Events may well have overtaken The Delirium Brief ....

388:

I actually prefer trolley buses

My late father used to tell horror stories about the trolley buses in Huddersfield (this would have been in the 1930s). Apparently in the winter or in fog they would regularly misjudge corners and lose contact with the overhead wires, whereupon the passengers had to disembark and help push them back under...

OTOH, I've ridden trolley buses in Geneva, and they seemed fine (and must be able to cope with winter conditions, albeit in a country that does not grind to a halt after 5 cm of snow).

Sheffield has both trams and hybrid buses (nearly all the Sheffield Stagecoach double-decker buses seem to be hybrids, though the single-deckers are still diesels). There is a plan to extend the tram to a light rail, although building about 100 m of track to connect it to the rail network at Meadowhall seems to be taking more time than building the entire tram network did in the first place!

389:

So if Brexit takes 2 years even with cliff-edge encouragement Scexit could take even longer and tie up large quantities of resource from both administrations.

And I can't see either party agreeing to a hard cliff-edge.

Presumably an independent Scotland would want to setup or expand some form of its own departments and systems for Treasury, Foreign Office/EU Relations, HMRC, Coastal & Fisheries protection force, Border control etc etc. Sounds good for Scottish employment.

But the more you think about whats involved the longer the timescale feels - 2022 may be optimistic.

390:

"If you can't see even a recumbent tricycle in time to stop..."

Agree completely with that paragraph (while noting that driving without your stopping distance is SOP for an awful lot of drivers), but I was thinking rather of the apprehensions expressed by people who tried taking the C5 on the road, that they felt invisible and in constant danger of being squashed by lorries. Most recumbent cycles I've seen have had a flag on a tall pole attached to the back for the same reason.

"The requirement that almost all cars are suitable for roads like the A303, long distances and carrying 4-5 people is mainly a political and bureaucratic one."

Not really; two-seater cars exist aplenty, but people only buy them when they are sports cars; things like the Smart are conspicuous by their rarity. And even the Smart can handle motorways because nobody at all would buy it if it couldn't.

But since that is obvious, do I take it you were getting at something different?

391:

The flag is damn-near invisible from the front or back - I use a traffic control wand, but turn it on only in low light levels. You are right that the C5 users etc. FEEL invisible, but the simple fact is that we aren't. A lot of 'invisible' vehicles are ordinary cars, and sometimes even bigger vehicles, but they don't get the same publicity. Pedestrians, cyclists etc. get the blame, largely because of the poxious Highway Code.

On the second point, sort of. The reason that people don't buy 'smart cars' is largely because they don't have any real advantages except a marginal parking one. A smart car is just a chopped-down ordinary saloon, after all.
What I (and, I think, other people) were talking about was something very different.

The political and bureaucratic reasons were that it is so difficult and expensive to use other cars when needed, that our infrastructure uses motorways etc. for bypasses and other local access routes, and the driver and car licensing schemes. There are some technical aspects to resolving these, but they are fairly minor.

392:

I quite agree. And the "privacy" argument being used to plug it is largely spurious, since it doesn't prevent traffic analysis and that is 90% of the game (cf. the "snooper's charter" which allows for traffic analysis but not for more than that). Nothing wrong with giving people the choice of using HTTPS if they want to, but websites which force you to use HTTPS by redirecting all plain HTTP requests to HTTPS so you don't have a choice are an abomination, and Google's promotion of it is another entry on the list of their abominations.

It is an absolute pain in the arse; Opera refuse to update 12.16 for Linux to handle elliptic curve algorithms - apparently changing a linker flag to link dynamically with the system's libssl rather than statically with an outdated version is too much effort - which means an increasing number of websites become completely unusable. And the main reason I use Opera is that its facilities for sanitising and debugging websites are excellent; the need to do this is also increasing, and not being able to sniff the connection because of pointless encryption makes it infuriatingly harder.

Not to mention that despite the near-universal denial expressed on stackoverflow and the like, the delay introduced by the SSL handshake is significant and does make pages noticeably slower to load.

So I wrote a proxy that strips SSL off all traffic both incoming and outgoing, both protocol and content, so the browser only sees HTTP, and so - as far as possible - do all sites not on a list of sites that genuinely need encryption (even if they use a different subdomain for SSL and non-SSL traffic).

393:

I don't know about Huddersfield in the 1930s, but you've probably heard of "pea soup fogs". They really were so dense that you couldn't see past twenty feet or so, so you'd have very little maneuvering room to get it right turning city centre corners.

394:

even the Smart 4-2 can handle motorways because nobody at all would buy it if it couldn't.
For values of "handle motorways" that is. Yes it can cruise at the UK motorway limit, and exceed the usual European one, but the short wheelbase makes it a horrible place to be for more than an hour or so, and the lack of decent luggage space even more useless for touring holidays or for people who buy bulk "stuff I can't get locally" when on hols.

395:

If you can't see even a recumbent tricycle in time to stop...

That's partly a human factors thing. A recumbent is low, narrow, and moving in pretty much the same direction that you are. So is a motorcycle (the other group most likely to be involved in so-called "Sorry Mate I Didn't See You" {More like SMID Look IMO} crashes). A short child (or a pet) that is about to run into the road is likely to be moving at more or less right angles to the carriageway, which means that it is moving across your field of view much faster. This in turn means that you're actually less likely to see the recumbent or motorcycle because of the way your brain processes images!

396:

Re: 'The other problem is not so much making holes in the rock underneath, but doing that while people are living in the houses about.'

Recently saw a doc about the expansion of London's underground (subway) - very expensive and about 80% complete as per the video below with staggered openings. This is not just about transit as a stand-alone utility, this is about integrating a vital public service into an existing living framework. The work was designed to safeguard existing historical buildings, ensure that private and commercial properties stayed safe/undamaged as well as building a public meeting place and impressive architecture and art above and below ground. And, the engineering challenges are amazing.

Moving Ahead, January 2017: Crossrail's quarterly update
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLBGH_X5lsU


Documentary:
The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway: Urban Heart Surgery (Episode 1) (58:35)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42-lJ2y6ddQ

397:

And, of course, done using tunnel boring machines in clay, rather than blasting in igneous rock.

398:

While that is true, it is seriously misleading. What about a child or pet standing or sitting in the road, or lump of junk? They aren't moving across you, and the relative speed difference doesn't make much difference to visibility. Your point about not looking is the main one - I frequently hear drivers remark about invisible or not see cyclists etc., which I have seen from a long way ahead. Conversely, I fairly often miss speed limit signs, where they don't!

399:

London (and the Chunnel) were doddles - clay, chalk, sand, gravel etc.

400:

A recumbent is low, narrow, and moving in pretty much the same direction that you are. So is a motorcycle (the other group most likely to be involved in so-called "Sorry Mate I Didn't See You" {More like SMID Look IMO} crashes).

I think inattentional blindness is a real factor here:

http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr01/blindness.aspx

The key factor seems to be that the unseen object is unexpected. Which would include a recumbent bike (at least until they become common).

401:

First - thanks very much!

Have just read the first two links and intend to read more of Arrow's work once I've exhausted available YT videos of his lectures and interviews. Given the recent success of bio-pix at the cinema and awards shows, maybe we'll see Arrow's life and work on screen soon. Would be timely given current WH stance on 'economic' issues, and might be heartening for the public to know that the human component (above and beyond 'input of production') has for many years been considered a central feature of economics.

If economists ever decide to print a T-shirt, here's my entry: Stop confusing economics with bookkeeping!

402:

Presumably an independent Scotland would want to setup or expand some form of its own departments and systems for Treasury, Foreign Office/EU Relations, HMRC, Coastal & Fisheries protection force, Border control etc etc. Sounds good for Scottish employment.

Most of that would need to be setup from scratch. There are a number of Scots involved in doing those things working for Westminster, but nearly all the senior people are south of the border.

That said, there are many Scots in Whitehall/Victoria St in central London that would be content to move back to Scotland if they could have a senior role in delivering those functions for an independent Scotland. I include myself amongst them, and I know several others.

403:

Hmmm ... Google does not pull up any definition for 'doddles'. (Is this another British colloquialism?)


Given the sample components you mentioned, guess this means that the London subway extension project was easy because it only had to dig through rubble and fairly soft stuff.

Okay then ... how about killing two market birds with one stone. Renovators are increasingly looking for more exotic and harder materials for surfacing, i.e., kitchen, floor, exteriors, etc. If the hillside materials are as hard as you say, then this could be an ideal new surfacing material. Therefore the cost of cutting slabs of this stuff out of the hillsides (for future use as building sites) would be financed by selling to the reno market. Could be a valuable export.

404:

The converse is far more common, and most recumbent riders report they have far less problem not being seen than ordinary cyclists (and pedestrians) do. The reason is that drivers are nowadays usually taught to ignore pedestrians on pavements (sidewalks) and cyclists in cycle lanes or dual use pavements, and so do it for cyclists and pedestrians on the carriageway, too. It's the same phenomenon, just the other way round.

405:

Yes. A doddle is something that is easy.

406:

Pre-industrial cities and traffic. I (he says, buffing his nails on his shirt) am from Philadelphia, and lived a good number of years, more recently, in Chicago, before moving to *bleah* DC.

Billy Penn *saw* the Great London Fire of 1666. In his design for his "green country town"... that's Philly to you non-Philadelphians - he designed it with 8 blocks/streets to the mile... and every fourth street being double or otherwise extra-wide. After the Chicago fire, 1871, a lot of that city was rebuilt by developers from Philly... and they used the same pattern.

Those extra-wide streets were there as firebreaks. Works well for modern traffic (without going the streets-with-occasional-city of LA). And it *works* as a firebreak. When I was in my late teens, I think, this block-long lumberyard, that my father used to take me to, caught fire. You could see the flames 1.5-2 mi away.

The houses across the street were, I believe, saved, to some degree, and the fire didn't leap the streets - it happened be be bordered by two extra-wide streets.

mark

407:

You wrote:
"It must be in someone's interest though."

Maybe it's the same people who've been stirring fascist shit into the Eu and the NATO alliance for the last couple years... the folks responsible for Trump, who gave Le Pen a huge loan, who might be covertly supporting Jobbik, etc....

Could it be... Russia? Putin?
--------

And they were seeing this as payback for the utter disaster to the 90% of Soviet citizens that the dissolution and predation of the USSR was....

mark

408:

there are many Scots in Whitehall/Victoria St in central London

Just imagine the paranoia that will exist in the Westminster negotiation team about their positions being leaked, and senior people jumping ship mid negotiation!

409:

A good point. As I read the Official Secrets Act, it could be used on them for security, intelligence, defence and (with some qualifications) international relations information, which doesn't mean that it might not be applied more generally, or such people be ordered to sign away rights. That would not exactly calm the situation down.

410:

After the Chicago fire, 1871, a lot of that city was rebuilt by developers from Philly... and they used the same pattern.

Not true. The 8 blocks to a mile, half blocks on the NS, major streets every half mile pattern was well established before the 1871 fire. Here's a hint: Western Avenue and North Street were set as the borders of the city in 1859. The boulevards were under construction in 1870. What we call Logan Square already existed, but it wouldn't be named after Gen. Logan for a couple of years more, and these were still the towns of Jefferson, Maplewood and Avondale, not yet part of the city. It's also why their street grid isn't on the Chicago street grid, it predates them, and all those other patches of oddball areas of diagonals come from the same thing -- small towns incorporated or annexed into the city.

Those extra-wide streets were there as firebreaks

Which were useless. The fire jumped far larger breaks - the combined Galena & Chicago and Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad lines (4 tracks wide), and the Chicago river TWICE, once at Harrison on the South Branch and once across the even wider main branch, then it crossed the double-wide Chicago, Division, North, and Fullerton before finally being stopped at Belden by a combination of rain and fewer structures to burn.

What got Chicago? Extremely hot, dry weather, a fairly major drought and strong southwesterly winds. All sorts of things around the Great Lakes burned that day. Holland, Michigan, the Port Huron fire (which ended up burning most of the Saginaw, over 1 million acres) and the Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin, which also burned 1.2 million acres (or 1875 square miles, or 4,860 square kilometers) and killed over 1500 people. All of that happened on Oct 8th, 1871, the same day as the Great Chicago Fire.

Really, Chicago got off lucky, mainly because they had the streets and people in place to at least slow it down some, plus, with the winds blowing from the SW, the fire didn't really have much room to run before it reached Lake Michigan. Everybody remembers it, because Chicago! Big! Important! Newspapers! and forgets the Michigan and Wisconsin fires, which killed far more people and did far more damage.

411:

My pleasure. Maybe we economists should cite Arrow more often when we try to explain what we do, or to be more accurate, what we should be trying to do. He was an ideal role model.

I wish your film biopic suggestion could work, but I think the man was just too nice. E.g., another Arrow story, this time from Larry Summers' obituary (Harvard prof and Clinton Treasury Sec; Arrow was his uncle):

"Kenneth knew more about everything than most know about anything, but he never flaunted his intelligence. It was another lesson for me when, many years ago, a paper was published correcting a famous analysis published by one of Kenneth’s teachers. At the time, it created a stir. I asked him what he thought. He said quietly that he had known of the error for decades, but such was his respect for his teacher that he did not publish his insight."

The guy was a saint as well as a genius. I mean, seriously, if you'd try to make a film out of this, no one would believe it and it would get kind of boring. Maybe a TV biopic focusing on ideas could work.

Another fun fact: when he was on the Council of Economic Advisers in the early 60s, he helped stop a proposal of Teller's to build a 2nd Panama Canal using atomic explosives. Practical economics!

412:

Those look great! That's pretty much exactly what I was talking about, even. Looks like a car, makes the original Fiat Bambina look portly, probably performs as though the Bambina is portly :)

413:

I'd be dubious about a 45kph limit being adequate

I can't help feeling that it was deliberately set just enough below the normal urban speed limit to be annoying. I suspect to discourage people from using them on those roads.

Elderly Cynic 425 Kg EXcluding batteries (and 45 KPH) ... but is a disaster for mixing with pedestrians, invalid chairs and ordinary cyclists.

Again, my impression is that it's designed for road vehicles, rather than shared path use. I suspect you could build something that's compliant with regs but is much smaller if you added safety features to a velomobile until it weighed 100kg including batteries. That would let you have 1kW of motor and do 45kph for an hour or two, in roughly the footprint of a velomobile/recumbent trike.

There are moves afoot to allow/require Pedal Prix to run four wheelers because they have advanced to the point where slowing things down seems like a good idea. If that happens I think we in Oz will start seeing some quite nice four wheel velomobiles in 3-5 years.

414:

The visibility myth is petrolhead polemic

Nah, inattentional blindness is a very real thing. I've been told by one vintage sportscar enthusiast that driving a low convertible on the motorway is dangerous because people literally overlook it and change lanes on top of it. Some thing with any low vehicle.

The flip side is that a velomobile is a big solid block of colour, unlike a recumbent trike. Get a bright coloured one too, obviously. My experience of riding it was that it was unexpected but triggered the "WTF, arrgh" reflex rather than the "nothing to see here" one. I went with a flashing rear bike light at the top rear, as well as the solid red one a bit below that, and normally ran the headlight all the time.

Never had problems with being seen, just the occasional one with "give way to *that*, ha! Fuck you" which can be addressed by leaving the D lock loose in the butt-well area in case I feel the need to tap on the window and have a word with the driver. You open the window or I will, sort of thing.

415:

You should read what I say more carefully. The invisibility claim is that the issue is NOT inattentional blindness, but because the (whatever they are) are hard to see - and that claim IS petrolhead polemic.

416:

Agree - 'Maybe we economists should cite Arrow more often when we try to explain what we do, or to be more accurate, what we should be trying to do. ...


'... He was an ideal role model.'

Like to think there's a market for more intelligent good-guy types in film. One newspaper article said that his theories helped bring in Obamacare. That in itself might satisfy filmic drama/tension requirement. Plus understanding Arrow's arguments might help evaluate impact of proposed changes.

Quote from The Washington Post: 'Arrow proved the existence of a solution to the problem of economics and the non-existence of a solution to the problem of politics.' - Good fodder for debate this.

417:

I draw your attention to the second sentence I wrote. Low vehicles are not literally invisible, but they've "not visible" because the operator of the other vehicle has their view blocked by their own vehicle. Another example is the "left turning truck" problem, and blindspots more generally.

418:

The Official Secrets Act applies to all official information, regardless of the domain that the information applies to. There's also no need to sign it for it to apply to you. Additionally, if you are a civil servant then the civil service code applies, and more senior people are restricted from anything that could be seen as political. So there are a great many ways in which the civil servant's hands are tied and they are gagged in the normal course of business.

In practice, should IndyRef2 end up in Independence for Scotland then I expect that Scots in Whitehall would be expected to remain impartial, as all civil servants are regardless of the colour of the government.

419:

I'm also not convinced that bicycles are as easy to see as cars, for the reasons I mentioned comparing velomobiles to recumbent trikes. Big blocks of solid colour are easier to see than much smaller blocks of mixes colours. Contrasting colours are even better, which is why white cars have fewer crashes than black ones.

My experience as a cyclist, including riding a variety of unusual bikes, is that there are many times when it's difficult or impossible to see a cyclist where a car would be significantly more obvious. I may speak sarcastically about "Melbourne safety black" but it is a real problem. A black-wearing rider without lights at dusk is asking for trouble. There mere fact of being bigger makes a black car more visible in that environment. Not to mention that the PTB are very keen on lighting up the streets but less so about lighting up the bike paths and shared paths. So I'm more likely to have little light to see the MSB cyclist (or pedestrian).

Yes, this makes me cranky.

420:

I know one guy who says he left the civil service because it was getting too political.
Back in the late 1960's/ early 1970's.
There is expectation, then there is reality.

421:

I've worked for five Prime Ministers, briefed Ministers from both Labour and Conservative parties (no Lib-Dems, I had Tories during the coalition). I've worked on things that I voted against, and did them as efficiently and effectively as they could be done. It's perfectly possible to be impartial and unbiased and keep your personal politics apart from work. Thousands of senior people manage it just fine. I'm one of many.

422:

I am fully aware of the irrelevance of signing it, though I did so some 50 years back. There is a significant discrepancy between the law as written and the law as claimed in respect of the Official Secrets Act; if you look at the former, it doesn't actually apply universally.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1989/6/contents

423:

The Washington Post quote is a little too slick, in that his existence proof also showed just how many strong assumptions were needed. Others were rash in taking the the proof too literally and using it to justify market solutions where they weren't appropriate, but Arrow himself was far wiser that that.

His 1963 contribution to the economics of healthcare - you could say he started that field too - is a good example. Krugman has a good summary here:

https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/why-markets-cant-cure-healthcare

Can't find it now, but somewhere there's a quote where someone said something along the lines that Arrow showed in 1963 why private market solutions to health care work poorly, and US healthcare policy spent the next half century proving him right.

424:

This whole "Economics is rubbish" thing would go away if people added appropriate words, extra descriptors. Whether Econonmics (1900), or Economics (Keynesian) or "Economics as used and abused by politicians", which is clearly different from academic economics of the sort practised by many academics who really are trying to get a better understanding of the world. Then there's Chicago economics, which is about making things up in support of a right wing world view.
And so on.

BAsically blanket statements about how wrong economics is, without specifcying which variety of it you mean, is like saying that fantasy fiction sucks, without making clear you are talking about the Shannara series rather than LotR.

425:

Well, yes, and I await your explanation of why it applies to recumbents but to neither sports cars nor 'ordinary' cars in between vans with bated breath. And it is THAT class of claim that is commonly made, and I am describing as polemic.

426:

I realised that it was probably too simplistic to assume that the Official Secrets Act has always been misrepresented, so I dug further. It appears that the 1911 act DID cover all information, and that was reinforced in the 1920 act, but that aspect was repealed by the 1989 act. So it WAS true when I signed it, but hasn't been for 18 years. Of course, there could easily be an unpublished amendment (knowledge of which is clearly an Official Secret) :-)

I am not sure where OGH got the section 3 idea from, unless from a misunderstanding of the 1939 act).

427:

On a more intuitive note, both the pro-Brexit and pro-Trump efforts feel the same and both involved some weirdness in the polls... at this point the idea that any responsible party in the U.K. is willing to pull the trigger on Brexit without some very careful checking is really making me twitch. Ultimately, if the evidence isn't there I'm willing to move on, but what I'm seeing here isn't sane behavior on a number of fronts.
You too? UK blog so I will not say or link anything.
(Russian word.)

428:

I specifically gave low cars as an example of other vehicles that have the same problem. Asking me to show that I was wrong seems barse-ackwards to me. I suspect I have completely misunderstood your point, and you're talking about something else. Can you explain further in the context of me saying "smaller, less visually dense and less contrasty things are harder to see"?

Since to me it's obvious that a vehicle .8m high and .8m wide is more easily concealed below an obstacle than a vehicle .8m high but 2m wide, or a vehicle 1.5m high and 2m wide. If that's not obvious to you I suggest you draw a little diagram like this one. That's obviously not the real relative size of a recumbent, but I couldn't be bothered searching for a suitable image of an actual 4WD or van either. The narrow box is more able to hide from the driver than the wide box. And so on.

429:

I usually don't have trouble seeing two wheeled vehicles from a car, I think because I've put miles on them myself. The "I didn't see it" may stem more from a deficiency of empathy than anything else.

430:

I usually don't have trouble seeing two wheeled vehicles from a car

How do you know? Failure of your passenger to point out the ones you missed may simply be failure on their part to see them, or an assumption that you did see them. Recruiting kids can be good for this, play "how many cyclists did you see" with them and see who wins.

At some point the argument has to pass from anecdote and assertion to actual research, but at that point it's going to be artificial. Or we could look at the statistics and ask: are cyclists wearing his-vis clothing hit less often? Are cyclists with lights hit less often? Or whether black cars are hit more often than white ones?

431:

Sorry for my grumpiness here, I've been dragged into a helmet wars discussion on another forum and it is making me very short with people whose gut drives their acceptance of evidence, and I suspect also with anyone who even looks as though they might be doing that.

432:

do all sites not on a list of sites that genuinely need encryption (even if they use a different subdomain for SSL and non-SSL traffic).

I presume you also strip javascript, and I take it you're also aware enough to inspect for or strip domain-wide cookies. I would suspect that most web users lack a similar knowhow.

Re #376:
I can understand how the basic principle of letsencrypt will lead to easier identification of webserver operators. Can the end-user of https actually be used more effectively than http in deanonymization? The Web site managers can identify you're connection just the same as if you didn't use a third-party verifier as far as I know.

Btw: not saying that the whole CA infrastructure is broken, but it's broken.

433:

I first signed it before the 1989 version came into force, as a member of the TA. I've also spent about half my civil service career in the Home Office.

I can neither confirm nor deny any secret parts of the Official Secrets Act.

434:

I am a rusty statistician, an OCD observer and analyser, and have been looking into this area for several decades. Yes, obviously, smaller vehicles are less visible and, under SOME circumstances, lights and high-viz clothing are more visible, but there is no evidence that this transfers into accident rates. I have, in fact, seen some poor evidence that it doesn't. My observations (which involved actual counting and factor balancing) are that the primary cause of drivers not seeing pedestrians and cyclists is because they are not looking for them and/or subconsciously regard them as part of the street furniture, and that this is strongly correlated with whether they ARE concentrating on staying within the speed limits and white lines and looking out for street signs.

This is not the forum to start a helmet debate, as you will appreciate.

435:

I rather like the look of the Renault Twizy: 1 or 2 seats, top speed 28 or 50 mph, 4 wheels, about £7000. For me, it'd be an extravagance rather than a necessity, so it'd have to take a 80%+ price cut before I could really consider getting one...

436:

'Of course importing electricity would cost'

Yes but we'd pay for it with....electricity. The Norway hydro thing is pretty much virtual pumped storage. Instead of Norway using it's own hydro to make electricity all the time we send over spare wind/solar power when those are going well. When we need a fix they turn on their hydro and send it back the other way. So Norway does make a net gain, but not the full price of their hydro, and the cost to us is much less than actual pumped storage.

437:

That may be the technical term I was searching for. Disclosure I work for a company having a "human factors" department which sometimes researches into these phenomonae but I don't get to see their reports, beyond occasionally talking the guys about stuff.

438:

That's pretty much not what I was thinking of, except in the context of "vehicles in traffic" where you correctly say that I might expect to use a gap as a "landing zone" only to discover it to be occupied by a "narrow vehicle" being driven to the inside of the traffic lane.

What I was thinking was that some people suffer from "observational blindness" where they fail to notice a narrow (and sometimes low) vehicle in plain sight, even when it's painted bright yellow or bright green!

439:

The "Twizy 80" (the 50mph one) would be adequate for me for my commute (at least in a colour like bright yellow), but wouldn't work at all for my vacation trips (100 to 200 miles minimum trip, on roads where 80th percentile speeds are typically 60 to 80mph).

440:

"their claim on Gibraltar is based on contiguous borders and history..."

Not really. In a 'I never found a problem, no matter how complex it seemed at first sight, that duly examined didn't become even more complex' spirit, Spanish claim on Gibraltar, first of all, distinguishes between the Rock itself and the isthmus. The Rock was ceded at Utrecht and is a British possesion. The isthmus was occupied by the devious British(TM) more than a century afterwards; in polite terms the process can be defined as a shameless robbery.

Returning to the Rock, Spanish claim doesn't rest in 'contiguous borders and history' but mostly in the Utrecht Treaty itself: its article X states that should Britain ever abandon Gibraltar it must be offered to Spain (if you enjoy irony, that clause in all probability was demanded and accepted because of the British evacuation of Tangiers in 1684).

If you are interested in my opinion, since Britain decided to leave the single market Gibraltar's best option became to negotiate directly with Spain. As things stand now they would get a really good deal (think autonomous community status, with their own government, parliament, laws and police, their own MPs at Congress and Senate, and dual citizenship) but time will not improve their position.

Finally, Ceuta and Melilla. Certainly something should be done, but in practice religion could become a serious problem. Conservative media and populist movements all over Europa would throw a hell of a party if European citizens became citizens of a Muslim country under an Islamist government, no matter how moderate.

441:

>– which means that for 62 of the last 67 years, Scottish MPs as an entity have had no practical influence over the composition of the UK government. From a high of 72 MPs in 1983, Scotland’s representation will by 2015 have decreased to 52, substantially reducing any future possibility of affecting a change.
Which sums up the "democratic deficit" argument for independance - Scotland's vote has almost no affect on the makeup of the Westminster government.

So 7.4% of the time in the last 67 years, 8.2% of the population's MP's represented the swing which changes the government. That may sound like a deficit, but i'm not sure it is when you account for the fact that for many of those 67 years, unlike now, Scotland did not represent a bloc vote, since it returned quite a few Tories. So my over simplistic maths suggests Scotland was possibly over-represented. (N.B It's clear that overall the country has not been run the way the Scots would like, and there is quite some history of Scotland being treated poorly/taken for granted by governments large chunks of the country voted for i.e The Thatcher Government in '79 which 30% of Scots voted for).

As for "Labour doesn't need Scotland" the calculation tells us nothing, because it's looking at JUST winning rather than 'Gaining a working majority' and 'Removing a working Majority'. Would Major have lost if he'd had a majority of 75ish rather than 25ish to work with? Would Cameron and May have made the dumb choices they are making, which have already been the downfall of one of them, if they had reasonable majorities to work with?

442:

Exactly. Brexit changes everything for Spain. Spain was against automatic continuity membership for a secessionist region. Spain has no reason to block the application of such a region to re-join, simply because Spain could block it.

443:

True, but there's always car hire for holidays - I have several friends who don't own cars (they live in cities and walk/cycle/bus to work) but who hire a car if they're travelling at the weekend. It can be surprisingly cheap, although it is certainly more of a hassle.

It comes back to cost, really - if a Twizy was £2k, then hiring a car at weekends is reasonable; for £7k, you could get a nearly-new Skoda Citigo or Citroen C1, which are perfectly capable of high-speed long-distance travel.

I think a Twizy is closer to da fyucha of transportation than the electric recumbent bikes or the Sinclair linked upthread, because it doesn't compromise (much) on safety/comfort/speed over the small cars which any solution will have to displace - but it's still a way off, mostly in terms of cost.

444:

(so far it's just the Borders line)

Don't forget the Bathgate line. Partly reopened in 85 for exactly that reason and fully reopened and electrified around 10 years ago. If you look at Livingston it's been continually growing and gradually filling in it's gaps, often with higher density stuff around the North Station. Once Livingston fills out Bathgate is not all that far behind, and then what are currently towns and villages further west which have only not gone the same way because Livingston sits between them and Edinburgh and has soaked up most of the western migration. All of which have the added benefit of being able to commute to the west as well.

445:

I see where you're coming from, but there's a presumption in the hire car idea that I can obtain one that I find enjoyable to drive, and sufficiently comfortable to drive for 6 to 8 hours in 2 hour blocks. That's a sufficiently big ask that I've owned my present car 12 years next month.

The Twizy's accumulator pack lease fee is also actually close to my typical monthly expenditure on fuel.

446:

Point of order here - Bathgate is now a stop on a direct rail connection from Helensburgh to Edinburgh Waverley via Airdrie.

447:

I may speak sarcastically about "Melbourne safety black"

Hey! My People!

448:

Just to add to the fun, they're in the process — this session of Parliament — of replacing the various versions of the Official Secrets Act with a shiny, new, authoritarian, crapsack Espionage Act (which arguably criminalizes investigative journalism).

I wonder if anyone in the Scottish Parliament is reading the draft ...?

449:

What I was thinking was that some people suffer from "observational blindness" where they fail to notice a narrow (and sometimes low) vehicle in plain sight, even when it's painted bright yellow or bright green!

Absolutely. The first motorised vehicle I ever owned (a small motorbike) met its death when someone in a minivan turned right (in the UK, so across the oncoming traffic) right in front of me and the bike wound up underneath it. The bike in question was bright pink, it had its headlight on, and I was wearing a bright yellow helmet. Van driver still didn't see me. (Fortunately, something—I still don't know what—tipped my subconscious off about what was about to happen, and I was already reaching for the brake when she turned. Braked too hard, bike skidded, I wound up sitting, undamaged apart from skinned knee, on road while bike, now on its side, disappeared under van.)

Amusing aftermath: at the time, my mother was working as a teacher of severely impaired kids at the local mental hospital. Turned out van driver was one of the doctors there. She arrived at hospital later, visibly distressed, and said "I just had a terrible experience—I nearly killed a young girl on a motorbike." "Yes," snarled my mother, "that was my daughter!" Exit doctor, stage left.

450:

>Also, I'm not treating anti-English sentiment as "racism" because I find that it is quite likely to be a reaction to the sort of English person who takes the attitude "I am superior to you because I am English" and/or who spends several hours braying at each other in an otherwise quiet (and intended as a "quiet room") area.

That it really not a good reason to not take anti-english sentiment as racism. 'A subgroup of group X behaved badly in manner Y so disliking all of group X is OK' is pure prejudice and reads very much like lots of other very definitely racist justifications.

Better to say anti-english sentiment is generally not 'racism' because it's not done by a powerful group to a less powerful group (the English are definitely not and oppressed minority). Also it's effect is far less pervasive. I could walk round Edinburgh with no one being any the wiser than i'm English unless I talk. Low level Bureacratic mistreatment is hard to get right because surnames are too mixed up (when residing in edinburgh I and my also english friend 'won' the hogmanay tix lottery every year with our 'Scott' surname, my very much scottish 'smith' flatement did not ever, and yes I know a guy who knows a guy who worked on the choice and it was NOT random luck). Of course if you actually try to identify a 'racial' difference between Scot's and English the lines you get (which are gradually disappearing anyway) don't match the map anyway with much of the north of england and the south of scotland being closer to each other than they are to the rest of their respective countries, but that's only an argument for how dumb prejudice is rather than whether prejudice occurs.

451:

Yes, well, so you'd factor in car hire costs for your vacations, wouldn't you? For example, a nice diesel/hybrid estate. I'm assuming they total less than one month per year ...

452:

So 7.4% of the time in the last 67 years, 8.2% of the population's MP's represented the swing which changes the government. That may sound like a deficit, but i'm not sure it is when you account for the fact that for many of those 67 years

Disagree, because it's an all-or-nothing effect (thanks to the strict majority determining the complexion of the government).

Flip it upside down: for 92.6% of the time over 67 years, Scotland's regional interests have been effectively unrepresented—or not directly represented—by government. And for much of that period, it's been a succession of hard-right Tory governments who explicitly pursued policies against the Scottish interest to the benefit of the south-east: it's not the case that during the anomalous 7.4% of the time Westminster strip-mined the English economy and send the loot north!

453:

Personally, I'd love to see a modern, electric version of the Lean Machine.

The Piaggio MP3 leaning 3-wheel scooter is modestly commercially successful, and comes in a hybrid version.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piaggio_MP3

Other manufacturers have pinched the leaning suspension design, including 4 wheel versions.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/27/quadro-4-scooter-review

There's no fundamental reason they couldn't be plug-in electric only.

As others have commented, you still have many of the safety and practicality issues of scooters/ motorbikes, and if you enclose them they'd be getting up to the size where you may as well just use a car.

But, from memory, ~50% of motorbike fatalities are single vehicle accidents. Making it harder to lose control or fall off is useful, and motorbikes use 50% of the roadspace of a car while underway.

If Charlie sets up a kickstarter for invisible, magically warded traffic repellent Kettenkrads I'm in.

454:

Ceuta-Melilla, Ah yes. Spain is actually in North Africa. Which is another reason for thinking that the EU needs more expansion until it's everything North of the Sahara and West of the Urals and Gulf. The Roman Empire never ended so let's have the EU cover the same area as it's widest reach. And that includes everything bordering the Mediterranean. Schengen free movement between Tunisia and Sicily, or Lebanon and Cyprus would solve the boat refugee problem at a stroke!

I'm not entirely joking here. From Moscow to Galway, from Tromso to the Canaries, from Armenia to Aswan, we're one people with millenia of common history and trading. 60 years after the Treaty of Rome, let's celebrate that with the goal of a single market, free trade and free movement across the entire Eur-Afr-Asia region.

Yes, I know, it's a pink dirigible pig. Especially with Art.50 4 days after the 60th anniversary.

455:

Last year I watched several hours of dash cam compilations on YouTube and counted all the motorbike crashes, keeping track of whether the crash was the fault of the biker, the car/truck driver, or both/neither/couldn't tell. I ignored dirt bikes and racetracks — this was just public roads.

Out of nearly a thousand crashes where I could tell who was at fault, it was running 7:1 for the motorbike rider being the guilty party.

Most of these were Russian, where from the dash cams aggressive driving seems to be the national sport, so this data may not extrapolate well to other countries. (OTOH, Russian car drivers also seem much more aggressive than Canadian ones, in fact more so than motorbike riders, so it might.)

456:

I don't know the Russian situation, but virtually nobody in the UK or USA rides a motorbike as the most practical form of transport, if they have the option. That is why it is harder to get a full motorbike licence in the UK than an HGV licence; yes, really. That is a very different demographic and type of road use from utility cycling. I heard of an analysis of police reports on car/bicycle accidents somewhere in the UK, and it was 5:1 for the car driver being at fault; it's only hearsay, unfortunately, but it matches the other data I have looked at.

457:

I assume that any dashcam compilation is going to skew to weird, stupid, spectacular WTF content. And single vehicle bike fatalities likely aren't going to leave anyone to upload footage.

But yeah, motorbike riders do self select for macho risk taking behaviour. Scooter riders less so. And those macho types won't turn around and switch to a non-macho looking 4-wheel scooter.

In the event of a crash, bike riders of any type are many times more likely to die than car drivers, because they are the crumple zone. But reducing the likelihood of a crash can attract more riders from their cars, which reduces congestion, especially if, as Moz points out, it makes a bike-to-train station commute work for them.

Oh, and airbag equipped bike jackets are just becoming a real world thing, which helps with the crash-survivability side of the equation.

458:

Context: I spent a decade cycling around Edinburgh as my primary mode of transport - and unsurprisingly, I'm a firm believer in helmets, lights, high-visibility clothing, and following the Highway Code. I try my hardest to be bike-aware and bike-friendly (often to the disappointment of the cars behind me, when I think that there isn't enough room to overtake safely). Three near-misses in that time, all of which I saw/heard coming with enough time to avoid; but no actual incidents.

I get annoyed with those who "jump" the lights at junctions and pedestrian crossings; with those non-children who cycle on the pavement; and with the suicidal muppets who are occasionally to be seen cycling in the dark, in dark clothing, without a helmet, and a single pinpoint LED front and back (and often no reflector, contrary to Road Traffic Act yadda yadda). Fortunately, the morons are in the minority - the vast majority of the cyclists I see on my commute are sensible road users.

That, however, isn't proof against mistake. I recently had a near miss with a cyclist; I was turning right across a box junction at 6pm (heavy traffic in other direction had queued to a stop and left a gap across the junction, dark because Edinburgh in winter), and started to move across when a cyclist "appeared out of nowhere" - helmeted, visible, and lit. I slammed on the brakes, as did he. He stayed upright at all times, we both got a fright, my primary concern was his safety.

My working assumption, without a dashcam to review it, is that the contrast of cyclist to background was awkward; he was dwarfed by the queue of headlights sitting on the other side of the junction; and that the traffic shielded my view down the cycle lane.

At least, that's what I'd like to think. Nothing to do with empathy, all to do with sensory overload at a busy junction at the end of a working day. Had it become accident, rather than near-miss, I would have felt guilty forever.

Witness memory? I know he was hearing a helmet, I think he only had a small front light, but I couldn't tell you what he was wearing - over in seconds, as I wound down the window he was apologising to me, just as I was apologising to him and checking he was OK. My heart rate was still over 150...

459:

Look on the bright side - Scotland hasn't been shafted as badly as the worst-affected parts of England. Even in the south-east, where I agree that we get the cream, we get pissed off at the way we get badly treated when it benefits London and the Home Counties to do so. The difference is that Scotland is capable of standing up to Whitehall and Westminster, and the English regions aren't. This article agrees with us:

http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/england-s-idea-of-unionism-is-not-shared-in-the-rest-of-uk-1.3017660

Harking back to your thread, both Sinn Fein and Eire will be negotiating for Northern Ireland to retain some links with the EU (especially an open border). Do you have an opinion on their chances of success, and how Scotland would react to Northern Ireland being allowed Brexit opt-outs that it doesn't get?

460:

Hmm, so as thought experiment extend your argument downwards. If you are only represented as a region when you make the difference between the government you supported being in power or not then there is not a single occasion in this time period when any constituency in the UK has been directly represented.

And to flip it back the other way. I'l bet (without checking and it's getting really close right now) that there has not been a single government in all that time without a Scottish MP. I'll also bet that Scot's have been over represented in senior Government positions.

I'm not saying that Scots would have less control over their own fate as an independent entity. Nor am I saying that Scotland would not have been better off being independent for the last 30 years. Or that Scotland has got it's way often. That would be obviously bogus. But I am saying that Scots have had more than their fair share of say in the much bigger entity that is the UK.

And yes, the south east has done very well out of the UK in that time. But then again on a smaller level every critisism scotland levels on the UK/london the highlands and islands can level on scotland/edinburgh. I guess that secretly the SNP are quite glad that the economic furute is moving towards a mix of finance and well spread renewables rather than the northern dominated oil. And before someone say's i'm just being snarky, i say go and google Greenland, population 56K, moving rapidly towards Devo Max from Denmark.

461:

Myself, I don't think that's feasible. If the UK is abandoning the single market and forbidding the free movement of goods&persons that goes with it, that's not compatible with having no borders on Ireland. Without border controls a huge host of Polish Plumbers carrying Italian Prosecco would just launch Operacja Lew Morski from Northern Ireland and envelop British customs from the North!

The only alternative would be getting the Republic of Ireland to impose those controls on its own borders, i.e. to abandon the single market too, just because it suits the UK. Good luck with that.

462:

Fiat Bambina? Funny name for the foreign market, never used here,it was the old model 500, the two-cylinder, air-cooled engine one. My first car. Great city car, useful for travel in the 50 km range.
No, the Share'ngo are even smaller, they carry a motorbike, not a car license plate and are slower (but the high torque electric motor works perfectly fine uphill). They've been built to custom specs by a Chinese firm.
The big issue isn't power or speed, it's net coverage. They're connected, so you cannot park them and terminate the rent outside the covered area. You stop outside it, you keep paying the rent fee.

463:

"Operacja Lew Morski"


ROFLMAO....

464:

I'm basing this on your own testimony, and not assigning blame, just discussing "cause and effect" and I'd say that My working assumption, without a dashcam to review it, is that the contrast of cyclist to background was awkward; he was dwarfed by the queue of headlights sitting on the other side of the junction; and that the traffic shielded my view down the cycle lane. is probably correct.

(OTish - I have a liking for BMW "angel eyes" because they're much more visible than ordinary car sidelights, but with many fewer lumens than car headlights in other people's eyes, and am pretty sure I saw pedestrians in carriageway a couple of times because the oncoming vehicle was a BMW)

465:

I'm aware of that; my point is that if people don't need encryption because they're not carrying out transactions that require "security" then there's no need for an https connection and the resultant "security certificate" hoopla.

Though there are other reasons to HTTPS encrypt than just "security" in banking or buying stuff. This link is however for the US, but I think it's relevant to many people in the "HTTPS everywhere" crowd: Five creepy things your ISP could perhaps do in the US. HTTPS makes it less likely that the ISP gets in on the traffic, though doing a man-in-the-middle attack on that on their customers is quite easy: just get them to accept their certificate ("It can't be malicious, it's our ISP!").

I, for one, would be annoyed if my ISP would do such things - I buy the bandwidth from them, it's not their business to interfere with that. Luckily I'm not in the US.

One can perhaps bypass such horrendities by using for example VPN connections, but I'd gather they can be even more of a hassle (and expense) than most people want to deal with.

466:
The only alternative would be getting the Republic of Ireland to impose those controls on its own borders, i.e. to abandon the single market too, just because it suits the UK.

That is what happened with Schengen - the RoI very much wanted to join, but given the choice between Schengen and the Common Travel Area with the UK, they reluctantly went for the latter.

I suspect you're right, and if the UK leaves the Customs Union then the RoI would rather let the UK impose border controls at NI than quit the CU themselves. But there is a precedent the other way - and (hazily remembered) but isn't the UK by far the largest export market for the RoI?

467:

Nor in the UK, where we'd normally say "Five Hundred" or "Cinquecento", either for the real (rear-engined) one or for the Polish-built FWD car.

468:

I'll admit, wrt the Lean Machine it's the look of it that I like.
I have a scooter, a poky little Kymco, and I would never dream of riding it without my helmet or on a main road with a lot of traffic, and I keep to the right of the road (a 'merican here). I'm more worried about other people not seeing me, I've had cars start to pull out in front of me, until I meeped at them. It seems they were looking past me in spite of the headlight being on.
The only accident I've had was when I was trying to navigate a dry rut in a patch of ice, going 10mph when the rear wheel caught the ice and went down, sliding a dozen feet on my back. No damage done, but I felt like I'd been hit by a truck for a week. Now I avoid ice, and only ride it in warm weather anyhow.
It's fun and useful to get around on when I don't want to take the car. It's a little less useful since I've moved away from the downtown area, where it's flatter and has lower speed limits.

Several years ago MINI was working on an electric Scooter concept, that looked really nice, but they didn't go anywhere with it.

469:
I'l bet (without checking and it's getting really close right now) that there has not been a single government in all that time without a Scottish MP. I'll also bet that Scot's have been over represented in senior Government positions.

Scotland's only Conservative MP, David Mundell, is secretary of state for Scotland in the Conservative Government at Westminster. This doesn't mean that Scotland's views are represented in the Government.

470:

{looks out window}
Nope, still not in the YouSAY. ;-)

471:
But I am saying that Scots have had more than their fair share of say in the much bigger entity that is the UK.

With the Westminster first-past-the-post majoritarian Parliament it means Scots have had no say at all in the many years the Westminster government represents a different preference to the Scottish vote.

472:

I know I've had four or five close calls up the road from home where I've nearly been taken out as a pedestrian crossing a road by a motorbike rapidly filtering up past stopped traffic. Mostly it would be my fault ... I "knew" that side of the street was safe because the cars were stopped and was only consciously looking the other way.

There's definitely a psychological issue where you only come to expect certain behaviour on the roads, so anything that moves contrary to that is not even considered.

473:

The situation is even worse in the yUcK, unfortunately :-( All of those have been observed here, and we peasants have fewer legal avenues of redress.

474:

It clearly does mean that, it just doesn't mean they are listened to or acted upon.

475:
But I am saying that Scots have had more than their fair share of say in the much bigger entity that is the UK. [...]It clearly does mean that, it just doesn't mean they are listened to or acted upon.

Have a say in means have the right or power to influence or make a decision about something.

476:

Yes, to both. The situation when the UK and Eire have been in different customs domains has always been 'confused', because at no stage that I can recall has there been a full-blown customs border, even at the height of the Troubles. And either going back to even a limited one or Eire partially separating off from the rest of the EU would be a political hot potato. This is a lose-lose situation, even without Sinn Fein attempting to cause trouble. Not for nothing is the position of Northern Ireland Secretary known as the graveyard of political careers.

477:

What makes you think that he represents the interests of Scotland or, indeed, says anything in Cabinet except "Yes, of course, Teresa, I will get onto that immediately"? Please note that I have no idea either way.

478:

Yes, the first past the post system means many people are made irrelevant.

Yes the scottish parliament is better constructed to try and avoid that and create a consensus driven system.

But on the other hand the previous SNP administration had an absolute majority, so suffered from exactly the same issue. So while it takes a bigger proportion of the populace to gain absolute control in scotland, it can happen and when it does it can leave almost half the population unrepresented.

And of course the Scottish Tories have NEVER been part of government in Scotland, meanwhile they got about 1/4 of the votes last time round. Presumably the average scottish tory voter feels Teresa May represents their views far better than Nicola Sturgeon.

My Anarchist friend would say that fundamentally this critique of the UK w.r.t to Scottish voters is not really about the UK and Scotland. It's a fundamental flaw of Government. Independence won't fix it. It might well however allow a group who are a minority in the UK and don't get their way to become a majority within their new country and impose their way on a new minority. I guess those of us who are not Anarchists accept this because we find Democratic Government more practical.

480:

I don't know either. But i'm sort of assuming that if I was a scottish secretary who had to face 50 or so SNP MP's at scottish questions I'd at least try to do my basic job. (I have to say that trying to empathize with Scottish Tory MP's is a new one for me, maybe he does just speak for lowland scottish farmers).

481:

The Scottish Secretary's job is to tell the Scots what Westminster has decided for them. "Fluffy" Mundell can just about manage that although he is frequently reduced to Maybot-like repetition of sound-bites when avoiding answering questions.

482:

Re: 'Krugman has a good summary here:'

Have read Krugman's comment which illustrates my frustration with some economists: they seldom (if ever) provide specific evidence*. Krugman had an opportunity to point to several different healthcare models and show a direct cost-benefit comparison between them. He didn't, so his point gets filed as 'just another opinion' rather than 'informed fact-backed opinion'. When arguing with dollars-and-cents folk, you need to ensure your argument/rebuttal includes dollars-and-cents otherwise you're deemed to have evaded or lost that argument.

I concede that the fall-back USian GOP argument even when the cost-benefit evidence is provided will be: 'But this the USofA and God-Fearing Americans will never support socialism (which is just rebranded Communism which we all know are Satan's kin!) Or: But, Americans are different! ... without saying how or why Americans are different.**

Which is kinda similar to what Guthrie said in 425 ... and why my shorts get in a knot when discussion avoids specifics. Grrr ... okay, take a deep breath ...


*Mark Blyth is the only popularizing economist I've heard so far (granted it's a pretty short list) who regularly talks economics in real-life day-to-day terms.


** I've heard this exact 'argument' used by SF Con panelists who one would have thought would be somewhat more educated and science-savvy i.e., actually look up and use data/facts/evidence as well as more open-minded to other modes of getting stuff accomplished. (How the hell some of these panelists can pass themselves off as scientists is also bewildering: what kind of scientist doesn't look at data?!)

483:

Hi, Erik,

Fancy meeting you here.

You wrote:
Those extra-wide streets were there as firebreaks

Which were useless. The fire jumped far larger breaks -
----
Were they consistent throughout the city? And I note that Philly's never had a huge fire. At the very least, it slows the fire down, giving humans more chance to stop it.

mark

484:

Re: '... a psychological issue where you only come to expect certain behaviour on the roads, so anything that moves contrary to that is not even considered.'

Add to your list:

1-Growing number of ADHD folks ambulating around unsupervised (because they're teens or adults) whose baseline executive function makes it more difficult for them to abandon a repetitive task that they're likely performing while walking/driving even when there's a 'danger' signal flashed at them.

2- Growing number of aging drivers whose vision and reaction time are on the decline.

AI-guided cars make more and more sense in this scenario.

485:

'Krugman has a good summary here:'

That's not quite fair: I meant Krugman had a good summary of Arrow's 1963 argument, not a good summary of today's healthcare debate and evidence. He's got lots of other blog posts where he goes through lots of evidence on healthcare polcy. I started to google to collect links, but all you need to do is use "Krugman healthcare costs evidence" and you'll immediately get a bunch. Maybe he should have linked to some evidence in this one too, but hey, it's just one blog post of thousands. He is generally very evidence-oriented (not that all members of the tribe are, which is your general point and a fair one).

486:

Fiat Bambina? It was the ... model 500 ... No, the Share'ngo are even smaller,

I know it was a weird, unique name only used in NZ, but I like to point it out to Italians because many of them think it's amusing. The Share'n'go sounds perfectly practical and reasonable, and I think all/most of the car share schemes here work the same way. And the bike share schemes, for that matter.

Sadly Australian road rulers don't see the point of a smaller-than-car class of vehicles, so we have nothing in that area. When people import the Japanese under-900cc class things they come in as cars, and it's a lot of work because they don't have the "hit by truck on motorway" level of safety features... because in Japan they're not allowed on motorways. Bah!

487:

Growing number of aging drivers whose vision and reaction time are on the decline.

... but whose mental model of their driving ability lags by years to decades. As distinct from the young, whose model of their driving ability is formed from video games but impaired by hormones and/or drugs.

I agree with Elderly Cynic on 99% of the visibility stuff.

The example I use is the ongoing problem of people driving into garbage trucks. They're big, brightly lit, have flashing lights, they're loud... and they drive in places and ways that people don't expect. So people drive into them. It's very annoying because inconveniently garbage trucks aren't equipped to pick up and dispose of slightly dented cars.

Fixation on flashing lights is also a problem, and at least in NZ emergency workers are trained to work as though someone will drive into the back of their stationary vehicle at any time. Which is why fire engines will often park facing into traffic - all the fun controls are on the back.

488:

Nope. In this case I'm attempting to argue that Scotland does not suffer from a democratic deficit within the UK as originally suggested. Not against independence.

My argument for not leaving would simply be that across the people effected to leave would overall have a negative effect. In the short term I think this effect would be worse in Scotland itself. In the long term I think this would be worse for the rest of the UK while Scotland would do Ok, but maybe not as well as it would do in a progressively run UK. As a resident of rest of the UK that might sound selfish, but I'd probably be personally better off in a tory run UK so this opinion is not 'rescue me from this nightmare' and more 'stay and help me'.

489:

Fallacy of division then. Just because the Westminster government democratically represents the whole of Britain does not imply that it democratically represents Scotland. This will be usually be true of somewhere but Scotland isn't some gerrymandered anomaly. It is a geographically, historically and politically separate nation.

490:

If there was (a) any chance of there being a progressively-run UK within my remaining life expectancy (I'm 52), and (b) if I thought it could happen with Scotland in the UK but not with Scotland outside the UK, I'd have a different attitude to Scottish independence.

Alas: the current system is already gerrymandered to fuck in favour of the Tories, and they're in the process of making boundary adjustments that will worsen the baked-in Tory supermajority in England. Those of us north of the border can scream until we're blue in the face: it won't change anything. QED.

491:

It is a geographically, historically and politically separate nation.

;) Ooooh, hyperbole. Love it - I must have missed that huge body of water underneath Hadrian's Wall. Beware that "geographically and historically separate" bit, or you give the Shetlands cause for independence

Your original claim @472 doesn't hold water either - "...it means Scots have had no say at all in the many years the Westminster government...".

Scotland has had plenty of say - unless you're claiming that Scottish MPs have been underrepresented in senior Cabinet positions (a brief perusal of Wikipedia reveals, 2/11 of recent Prime Ministers, 3/15 Chancellors of the Exchequer, 3/18 Foreign Secretaries). It would be hard for you to argue that every one of the above, promptly sold out their constituency when the evidence says differently (see: Gordon Brown spending extra millions of the taxpayers' cash to make sure that shipbuilding jobs were created in his constituency).

Where Scotland has ironically reduced its influence, is by returning MPs who belong to a local, rather than national, political party - purely because the SNP has made sure that it isn't going to take part in a UK governing coalition any time soon.

492:

To add to what Martin said, Scotland is only geographically separate if you measure all of England from London, and ignore the movement of the border in the 11th to 15th centuries. It was a historically separate nation for over 600 years or so, but first there was the union of the crowns, over 400 years ago, then the union of parliaments 300 years ago. So there has also been a lot of history with various links. Scots were also enthusiastic participants in the various British empire building schemes, participated in all the relevant capitalist stuff, and generally acted as both Scots and part of a bigger thing.
Maybe you can explain why the last 400 years of history don't matter, but the 600 years before that do.

493:

Alas: the current system is already gerrymandered to fuck in favour of the Tories

Are you sure? Comparison of the 1992 and 2001 elections wouldn't support that claim, rather the opposite. Looking at the Gallagher Index for UK elections, it might be fairer to say:

"disproportionately biased in favour of the two largest parties, who aren't going to let go any time soon".

2015 Labour: 30% of votes, 35% of seats
2015 Conservative: 37% of votes, 51% of seats

2010 Labour: 29% of votes, 40% of seats
2010 Conservative: 36% of votes, 47% of seats

2005 Labour: 35% of votes, 55% of seats
2005 Conservative: 32% of votes, 31% of seats

2001 Labour: 41% of votes, 62% of seats
2001 Conservative: 32% of votes, 26% of seats

1997 Labour: 43% of votes, 63% of seats
1997 Conservative: 31% of votes, 25% of seats

1992 Labour: 34% of votes, 42% of seats
1992 Conservative: 42% of votes, 52% of seats

William T Goodall