Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Glad tidings

I bring glad tidings - there's a new blogger in town.

Ladies and gentlemen (and those among you who answer to neither in the course of a breathing day), I bring you The Secretary of State for Scotland (ask not what state he's in but rather ask what state he's secretary for).

Couple of points, though; in his first proper post he's putting party politics on a government website. Naughty, naughty Jimmy lad. Secondly, he says:
My first phone call of the day was with the Chancellor, Alistair Darling – I took the call sitting in the Scotland Office in Edinburgh, coincidentally in his constituency
We can let him off, can't we? The Scotland Office is in Melville Crescent - in Edinburgh North and Leith not Edinburgh South West.
Still, though, let's get down to the meat of Murphy. I encourage all and, indeed, sundry to peruse the article by Marc Coleman in today's Scotsman (title is Ireland is still a success story – and Scotland could be, too). Marc Coleman was an economist at the European Central Bank before he went home to be economics editor on a Dublin radio station.

Mr Coleman takes the Scotch Sec to task for his lack of grace, excoriating Murphy's clunking party politics as staggering incompetence, megaphone diplomacy for the most selfish political reasons, and economically illiterate.

He points out that Salmond has actually visited Ireland to learn from Ireland's handling of their economy while Murphy made his critical comments about Ireland comments without bothering to study what's going on there "or in his own country."

Murphy had sought to paint small countries like Ireland and Iceland as being vulnerable to global economic storms (he ignored Norway - I wonder why) while painting more populous blocs like the UK as being safe havens in troubled times.

As Mr Coleman points out, however, Ireland, unlike the UK has guaranteed 100% of the deposits in its banks - along with the deposits in the UK Post Office Savings Bank (owned by the Bank of Ireland, no less) and those in the Irish subsidiaries of five other UK banks.
I'll rattle off a few other points Marc Coleman made:

  • Ireland's debt to GDP ratio is only 25% - the second best in the European union
  • Recapitalising Ireland's banks would make it about the fourth best
  • Euro membership protects Ireland from exchange rate pressures, and limits government debt risk
  • Tax regime and EU membership brings foreign investment
  • Booming indigenous services sector.
Then he says (I think I've typed this correctly, it's about Iceland rather than Ireland):
But even if Iceland faces problems, which independent nation doesn't from time to time? Isn't it better for a nation to make and correct its own mistakes, rather than remain in a state of permanent policy dependency on others?
I find myself agreeing.

Mr Coleman then points to Scotland's contribution to the world and avers that to argue that we can't be independent is 'laughable' before he points to the problems caused by Westminster's "arc of indifference" and scorns "politicians like Mr Murphy, who depend for their career advancement on the supplication and marginalisation of Scotland and Wales to Westminster."

He signs off by saying that the reason that Ireland is and will remain one of Europe and the world's richest nations is that the Irish don't allow Westminster to appoint people like Jim Murphy to run their affairs. Indeed.

I think I'll buy Mr Coleman's book The Best is Yet to Come - it will, I am sure, be an interesting read.

What Jim Murphy must learn, and fast, is that he is a member of the UK Government and he does not have the freedom to insult other nations whether that is for, as in this case, petty party politics or for any other reason.

While Mr Coleman's stinging rebuke is a most adequate response to Mr Murphy's petulance, relations with Ireland should not be damaged so thoughtlessly in future.
For comparison, the UK's debt to GDP ratio was 43.8% at the end of 2007 - and the 'rescue package' for the banks has just added £37 billion to the debt in addition to the £100 bn from Northern Rock - and Lloyds TSB used to think that this was a bad thing.

That's not all - UK housing debt was sitting at 109% of GDP in July - the highest in the G7 and the highest of the big 5 western European countries - the economy was built on assets that didn't really exist.

Gordon Brown is quoted today as saying that the crisis shows that we're better off in the UK - utter codswallop.

1 comment:

Bill said...

good post Callum.

Did you know that the bank branch in your first picture was also the Irish Parliament, pre 1801 Union?