Saturday, 20 December 2008

To the Point

I'm a little late in coming across this post, but it's a good one, from a certain McChatterer (very good reading actually):

"What do Alberta, Bavaria, Queensland, Quebec, New South Wales, Colorado, Catalunya and Nova Scotia have in common? Their regional or state assemblies all have more power than the Scottish Parliament. Do these powers threaten the existence of the nation they belong to? No - and in some of these cases, the devolved powers are necessary to keep the nation state together.

So why would Scotland gaining fiscal autonomy wreck the union?"

Answer: it wouldn't.

There is absolutely no valid reason for not devolving tax-raising powers to Scotland. The Barnett Formula is entirely discredited as a means of fairly and equally distributing public expenditure, and does more to sow seeds of divisiveness between the members of the Union than fiscal autonomy - and thus, responsibility - ever could. The English moan about it being too much (which, in terms of proportion, is true) and the Scottish moan about our hands being tied, hindering policy, and enabling them to use the UK as a scapeboat.

Look, the Scottish Parliament has legislative power over health, education, policing; we have our own legal system too - why can't we use our money to supply our needs? It makes no sense making the English, Welsh and Northern Irish pay for Scotland along with us.

The centralisation and excess of power in Westminster does need to be rolled back. I'm pro-Union personally, but I know that the greater the power of the central government, the less accountable to each individual and the more it can scam us and take more of our economic and social freedom with impunity. And in the end, money is power. Control over the Treasury is the real key to power in government.

So Calman's conclusion depresses me, in that the only reason I can see for the status quo being maintained is pure power; power for power's sake. This government have been in power for far too long.

Friday, 19 December 2008

smoking ban 0 , choice 1

smoking ban 0 , choice 1

Youth smoking continues to rise

Almost a third of young adults in Scotland smoke. The number of young people smoking in Scotland has returned to a level last seen nearly 10 years ago, according to a report by health officials.The survey revealed nearly a third of people between 16-24 are smokers. In 2004 the number of young smokers in Scotland had fallen to just 25% but by 2007 that figure was 31%.The NHS Health Scotland and Scottish Public Health Observatory study revealed that in the 16 to 19 age group, females are more likely to smoke - while the highest rates are found among young offenders and care leavers. In the 16-19 age group, young women generally have higher smoking rates than young men. In the 20-24 age group, male rates exceed female rates. In 2006, 28% of 16-24 year olds in Scotland were regular smokers: an estimated 166,000 young adults.

Some specific groups in the population have much higher smoking rates than the average. Four in five young offenders smoke - 2000 young adults - and two thirds of care leavers - 1000 young people a year.

More proof prohibition does not work. It just makes smoking seem more of a 'forbidden fruit' and increases the trend among people, particularly the young, to see it as a 'cool' and 'rebellious' thing to do. Laws such as this often have reverse effects - the government and its apologists would do well to remember the law of unintended consequences. Yet still the government is pushing for more bans, more laws regulating tobacco and alcohol.

They don't seem to acknowledge this policy isn't working. They seem to just have their heads in the sand on this one. They want to 'normalise' smoking, politician double speak for engineering an atmosphere that stigmatises people for their habit. Ministers seem absolutely sure of their right to push their agendas on all of us and for us to conform to the non smoking 'perfect citizen' model. This is health fascism. This further shows the disastrous effect of letting special interest groups dominate policy and the effect this has of fragmenting society into those who weld the law against the smokers and the oppressed smokers themselves.

The government wants to drastically reduce smoking by 2012 but it wouldnt dare ban smoking, and of course it has a vested interest in making sure smoking rates don't fall too fast; the tax revenue it generates for the state is just too vast.

In 2008 the fascists now sport dietary healthy eating charts and do yoga, instead of swastikas and jack boots. This may seem like an exaggeration but it's all heading that way. Yes, you may enjoy your 'guilty pleasures' right now like chocolate and caffeine and 'unhealthy food' but how long is it till they clamp down on those too?

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Yawn ...

Directly-elected health boards? Who cares?

The SNP do, because it was in their manifesto, and they haven't fulfilled any of their manifesto pledges since they scrapped Graduate Endowment, and that was some time ago now. This one probably seems easy enough.

But who else cares?

"The idea of direct elections has the backing of unions but has found little support from health boards themselves."

Unions dig it; the health boards don't. Hmm.

"Sixteen-year-olds will be able to vote in the elections."

Yeah, and who of them is going to vote to elect their local health board? They have Playstations to play, and homework to do, and blue wkd's to serruptitiosly guzzle at underage teen parties. More to the point, this is opposed by the Electoral Commission and has aroused "serious concerns" from the related Scottish Parliamentary committee.

Further still, as Mary Scanlon, Tory health spokesperson, put it:

"Barely a quarter of those who responded to the consultation were in favour of these elections, and only four of Scotland's 32 councils back the plans."

Basically, no one cares! No one will vote! Nobody wants NHS Scotland Ancient-Athens-stylee. Why waste money on these pilots? What insights are they expecting to gain by launching these seven-year pilots, other than that the NHS remains just as frigged if the interfering busybodies have the vote of a few interested townsfolk than if they have no vote at all?

The Lib Dems have the real doozy though, from health spokesman Ross Finnie:

"Liberal Democrats believe that direct elections are not the best way of improving health board accountability. That is why we have called for alternatives like getting local councils more involved in running local health services."

Please, Ross, do tell me all about the general medical expertise and experience of hospital-management endowed upon our country's local councillors. They should leave local health services well alone, and leave it to the people who actually know what they're talking about - i.e. medically-trained personnel. Get the meddling politicians out of there!

This counts as a Parliamentary motion?

H/T Crap Holyrood Chat:

"S3M-03109 Kenneth Gibson (Cunninghame North) (SNP): That the Parliament congratulates SNP councillor Anthea Dickson, elected on 11 December 2008 to serve the people of Kilbirnie and Beith Ward on North Ayrshire Council in
Cunninghame North constituency; notes that Anthea more
than doubled the SNP share of the vote from 23.4% in 2007 to 48.9% in 2008 with a swing of 15% from Labour; is aware that in 2007, even as the SNP won Cunninghame North by 48 votes, it polled 831 fewer votes than Labour in
Kilbirnie and Beith but has now polled 424 more; recognises that Labour has two branches in the area, including
Scotland’s biggest, two Labour clubs and that the MP Katy Clark has two offices in Kilbirnie and Beith, and believes
that if the SNP can win in such traditionally strong Labour territory it can look forward with confidence to even greater success elsewhere in the months and years ahead."

Why is such totally pointless partisan crap allowed to consume the time and resources of our Scottish Parliament? Can someone please enlighten me?

SNP Nurses

Now the SNP have been fairly shameless in their exploitation of Scottish nationalism - as regularly illuminated by Scottish Unionist - most recently in attempts to bring about a fairly unnecessary-sounding dot-scotland web domain, and a Scottish entry for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Now I have no quarrel with Scottish nationalists generally; indeed I consider myself one. I love my country, socialist warts and all. It is my personal view that Scotland is better off within the Union, but as a Libertarian I also subscribe to the view of voluntary secession - that if the Scottish people want to secede, they should be allowed to, by voting in a referendum. I would never presume to know that the Union is best for Scotland, and thus enforce my opinion by not letting the voice of the people be heard - it is just my opinion. Hell, I believe if an individual wants to secede from the State and declare his house the Fiefdom of Narnia, he should be allowed to.

So I have sympathy for the independence-driven nationalists out there: they clearly believe in their cause strongly, and if they manage to convince enough people that independence is the right way forward, I may disagree, but I'll accept it. I personally favour a strongly-localised Union with a central UK government basically limited to the core functions of national defence, some tax, immigration etc etc. I think most revenue-raising powers should be localised, as should all primary legislative powers - so I'll watch out the conclusions of the Calman Commission with a keen eye.

But what irks me about the SNP's exploitation of Scottish nationalism is the superfluousness of it. Is there any actual necessity for getting a Scot onto TV singing some crap song alongside the regular Polish, Latvian and Austrian wailers? Is it necessary to demand, as the SNP intend to do in their 2011 census, whether or not you consider your national identity to be either British or Scottish?

There's something almost indoctrinary about it, and in the latter's case, psychologically coercive, as well as intentionally divisive. What about someone like me, who considers himself a legitimate Brit and a legitimate Scot (and half-legitimately Welsh - I was born in Cardiff!)? There's loving-your-country style nationalism, and there's resentment-style nationalism - "we're Scottish and we dae like the English cuz ay Bannockburn"; that kind of thing.

Which is why, call me cynical, but I can't help but consider Nicola Sturgeon's unveiling of new NHS uniforms to be a little suspect:

"The traditional doctors' white coat was consigned to history today as health secretary Nicola Sturgeon unveiled new uniform guidelines for NHS workers.

Medics in Scotland's hospitals and clinics will wear blue tunics instead of white coats."

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

£263,000 plus a 40% bonus

... of your money, going to chief quangocrat of Scottish Water, Richard Ackroyd. His staff, on the other hand, earn a salary of £23,000 or less.

Where is the outrage? QUANGOs are taxpayer-funded. What the hell has Mr Ackroyd done to deserve that much of YOUR money? He sells water, for christ's sake.

SNP MSP Alex Neil berated QUANGO chief execs for their "mega film star bonuses" - it's just a shame his party in power is doing bugger all about it. No surprises there - the SNP are no different from New Labour in their regular careless ripping-off of the taxpayer.

Wouldn't it be nice, as one commenter put in in the related Scotsman article, to read John Swinney or First Minister Fishcakes had cut this man's pay down to £50,000 per annum? But as we say up here, aye right ...

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Annoying Protests

Much as I disagree with Tom Harris, MP for Glasgow, and I certainly know he disagreed with the principles behind our Party organising to have him and his fellow 645 co-workers sent a copy of 1984 in the post, I can't help but ruefully admire him for being an MP whose blog is at least entertaining and readable.

And today was one of those rare days where I read one of his posts and thought he rather excellently hit the nail on the head, in reference to environmentalist wacko protestors ruining peoples' time at airports:
"I’M RATHER losing patience with the self-righteous, self-appointed guardians of our planet who, this morning, caused a number of cancellations at Stansted Airport by illegally entering a restricted area.

“But climate change is more important than obeying laws,” they will no doubt bleat when they appear in some magistrate’s court somewhere in the near future. And on recent evidence, they’ll have a better-than-50 per cent chance of getting off with it.

When did the rules change? When did we decide that vandals breaking into nuclear subs and occupying runways, causing havoc to thousands of ordinary people trying to go about their daily lives, who have no respect for the democratic processes of our country, are suddenly heroes?

As a minister at the Department for Transport I received word one day that I should avoid the main entrance when I returned to the office because some anti-Heathrow protesters had Super Glued themselves to the glass doors. Staff and police were busy using various solvents to release them, I was informed.

“Why?” I asked. After all, there was more than one entrance to the building and if they chose to spend the weekend stuck to a glass door with no food or access to the toilet, shouldn’t we respect their right to demonstrate?

Alas, my view did not prevail."

Parliament Building

This ugly-as-sin beast of a building has rightfully been derided internationally as the eighth ugliest building on the planet.

Just a shame it cost £430 million of taxpayer's money when it was originally only meant to cost £40 million. Hell, get me some bamboo and some rocks, and I'll build a pretty good imitation for less than a fiver. Could be fun actually, I'll look into it...

Monday, 8 December 2008

"Radical" Headteacher Training Shake-up Anything But

"The way headteachers are trained is to be given a radical shake-up under Scottish Government plans to tackle the leadership crisis in primary and secondary schools.

From next year, prospective headteachers will no longer have to complete a formal university qualification to achieve the required level of expertise, known as the Standard for Headship.

Although the masters diploma - currently offered by six Scottish universities - will still be available, deputes and principal teachers who want to be promoted can also be awarded the standard through on-the-job training."

Tinkering, folks. This is pointless tinkering. Is the real reason for the shortage in headteachers that not enough of them can be bothered doing a masters diploma? According to the Herald article:
"A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said research was already taking place into why some promoted teachers, who would normally be expected to move on to take up future headteacher roles, are not doing so."
Is it really that difficult? Is it? How much taxpayer's money is this research going to cost, and is it really all that necessary when the answer to the question can be summed up in one, three-letter word?


As the article itself points out, headteachers are suffering from "
declining levels of pay, with the average salary of a secondary headteacher in charge of a school of 800 pupils in Scotland £58,000, compared with £78,000 south of the border." Moreover:
"Under a national salary agreement adopted by local authorities, a much more complex arrangement has been introduced which takes into account a number of other factors including the number of pupils on free school meals, staff numbers and health and safety responsibilities.

The result is that there is a confused career structure which can mean that, in some cases, the deputy head of a large primary school could be earning more than a headteacher in a neighbouring, but smaller, school - leaving no incentive to move on if a vacancy becomes available."

It's always bloody bureaucracy, isn't it? I think the key word here is "incentive" - not just where is the incentive to move to a post of higher seniority at a different school if the pay is in fact less than what you were already earning, but where is the incentive for a teacher to be the best, most competent, most ambitious teacher he/she can be, if his/her wages are based not on her school's quality and results, but on a whole loads of niggly factors calculated by those ever-so-helpful LEAs, who steal a third of schools' budgets carrying out the pointless bureaucratic tasks inherent in a state-school system as bloated and wasteful as ours?

I've said it before, I said it yesterday, and I'll say it again: privatise the schools, and give parents a voucher for each of their children's education costs. Let the parents choose where to send their children. Good quality small schools can finance themselves handsomely and pay their teachers adequately. Teachers' wages will be based on the popularity, and therefore competence, of their schools.

It's just common sense.

MacAskill: 'social responsibility' fees

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, or perhaps known better as the 'Minister for Booze', is apparently rethinking his barmy idea for 'social responsibility' fees, to be paid by pub and club owners whose premises take up police time.

At least he's thinking, but what he should be doing is scrapping the whole stupid idea.

PEARL OF WISDOM: Lots of people at clubs and pubs get drunk, but those who are either drunk or drunkenly aggressive enough to get the police called out are in the very small minority.

Why the hell should the owners of the premises be penalised, who are just doing their jobs, because they are unlucky enough to attract a couple of violent idiots? With the pub industry already falling fast, this proposal seems patently unfair, and is targeting the wrong people. The ones who should be punished are the ones who commit the actions - alcohol should not be used to excuse them, and the pub and club staff who provide the booze therefore should not be the ones accused! It's their bloody job!

Undoubtedly, they should exercise discretion, and not give any more drink to someone who is evidently absolutely off his head - but let me tell you, as a former barman, in a crowded pub or club it's extremely difficult to tell the ones who are pleasant enough, if a little bit merry (which is most of them), but who pose no harm to anyone, from the potential trouble-makers.

Everytime we point fingers at something else for the social problems that often come in tandem with alcohol, whether it be blaming the booze itself, or blaming the pub landlord, we diminish the notion that the individual who caused the trouble in the first place is the one who should fundamentally be held accountable.

The idea of 'social responsibility' fees is farcical.


Independent MSP for the Lothians region Margo MacDonald is campaigning to make assisted suicide legal:
"There are lots of people up and down Scotland who would like to make sure that they miss the last, and for them most intolerable part of life, because of incapacity, loss of dignity, loss of control, insufferable pain perhaps."
Margo herself is one of them, as a sufferer of Parkinson's.

Ultimately, you own yourself. If you suffer from a terminal illness that is going to slowly debilitate you and cause you to endure great pain, I say you should have the option to end your own life.

The British Medical Association disagrees, arguing that people may "
contemplate ending their life when that really isn't their wish." I'm sorry, but in the end the only person who knows their true wishes is that person. The choice should be taken with great care, with full patient-doctor consultation. It should be a thoroughly safeguarded, sure system - as Ms MacDonald has proposed.

But it's a morally right policy, one that can ensure people who die of terminal illnesses do so in a manner that is in accordance with their expressed wishes. The BMA should rethink their stance, and I urge one and all to sign an">online petition calling for a referendum on the issue and parliamentary debate - Margo MacDonald needs the support of at least 18 MSPs to submit proposals in the first place.

I wish her all the best.

Just before bed ...

One or two last wee things, glimpsed over at Guido, before I hit the waiting hay.

Number one, the repeal of the 1844 Banking Bill:
"Banking Bill
Part 7 — Miscellaneous

Weekly return
Section 6 of the Bank Charter Act 1844 (Bank to produce weekly account) shall cease to have effect."
Now, wasn't that 164 year-old Act kind of useful, in the way that it, you know, ensured that the government had to tell us how much money they were printing?

The government is adopting, or preparing the groundwork to adopt, a policy of "quantative easing" - the last resort solution to bad economic times such as these, and as such, tends to be a very foolish, desperate measure. Basically, if you exhaust all other monetary options - as will no doubt have happened once the Bank of England's interest rates have finally hit zero - you just ... print the money. Sound wise, or to use Gordon Brown's coined word, prudent? Think the Weimar Republic. Think Mugabe.

We're being set up for inflation, and lots of it.

Finally, this nice picture:

EU Salami-Slicing

Under the banner of "standardisation", we have this - if you can face poring through it:
"2008 No. 2986

Private International Law

The Law Applicable to Non-Contractual Obligations (England and Wales and Northern Ireland) Regulations 2008"

You just know with a title like that it's going to be a helluva read. I'm not big on law myself, but I had it explained to me thusly by LPUK leader Ian Parker-Joseph:
"These regulations concern Regulation (EC) No. 864/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (“Rome II”). This instrument establishes uniform choice of law rules in the field of non-contractual obligations, that is principally in the context of proceedings in tort, but also proceedings for unjust enrichment and some other non-contractual obligations. These rules enable courts throughout the EU to select the national laws appropriate for the determination of these proceedings where the case has a cross-border dimension, for example a case where the parties live in different countries and the tort takes place in a third country. The aim of these uniform rules of Community law is that, in relation to a case falling within the Regulation’s scope of application, the same national law will generally be applied by courts in all the Member States.

The purpose of these regulations is two-fold. The first is to modify the relevant current inconsistent national law in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. Regulations 2 and 3 restrict the application of the general statutory choice of law rules in this area. These are contained in Part III of the Private International Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995. Regulation 4 restricts the application of certain provisions in the Foreign Limitation Periods Act 1984 and regulation 5 restricts the application of analogous provisions in the Foreign Limitation Periods (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.

The second purpose involves extending the application of the Regulation to certain cases that would otherwise not be regulated by it. These are cases where in principle the choice of applicable law is confined to the law of one of the United Kingdom’s three jurisdictions, that is England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and to the law of Gibraltar. These cases therefore lack the international dimension which is otherwise characteristic of cases falling under the Regulation. Under Article 25(2) of the Regulation Member States are not obliged to apply the Regulation to such cases. To maximise consistency between the rules that apply to determine the law applicable to non-contractual obligations, regulation 6 of these regulations extends, in relation to England and Wales and Northern Ireland, the scope of the Regulation to conflicts solely between the laws of England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.

Under section 57(1) of the Scotland Act 1998 (c. 46), despite the transfer to Scottish Ministers of functions in relation to implementing obligations under Community law in relation to devolved matters, the function of the Secretary of State in relation to implementing those obligations continues to be exercisable by him as regards Scotland."
So basically, the Scotland Act, a milestone act passed by the elected, sovereign UK Parliament, contained within it the devolution of matters concerning Community Law within Scotland to the appropriate ministers in the Scottish Executive. The Scotland Act, you'll remember, was voted in initially by referendum of the Scottish people.

But out comes the EU Salami-Slicer, with about as much of a democratic mandate to run the continent as I do, arbitrarily deciding to override the Scotland Act by regulating that matters of Community Law within Scotland are in fact to be under the jurisdiction of Jim Murphy, the UK government's Secretary of State for Scotland.

Who voted for that?

Now I thought that maybe, just maybe, the SNP might have something to say about that. This is an area in which the devolutionary process has, at the whims of Brussels, suddenly been reversed. Do we get even a peep from our Nationalist friends?

Well, I tried to find something. I searched on the SNP's website for anything around that date, anything to do with the EU, or community law, or non-contractual obligations, or the functions of the Scottish Secretary in Westminster. I googled all that too. I even checked Sean Connery's website.


However, I can inform that on the same day these new regulations were laid before UK Parliament, Scotland's "only full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Commitee", as the SNP's press release boasted, a Mr. Alyn Smith, hailed an EU vote granting a nice piece of fruit to every European schoolchild. Aww, bless.

As for that constitutional thingy ... nah, nothing.


I see Edinburgh Councillor Andrew Burns has been quibbling with his fellows about reductions in devolved schools' budgets:
"Given the level of concern that is being expressed across the city, I'll repeat here our own Group's position on the issue:

... in February 2008, when the Council set its 2008/09 budget, the Labour Group opposed the then 1.5% cut in devolved school budgets and moved an alternative (and competently funded) position of zero reduction. That position was unfortunately defeated in the subsequent debate, and vote, when the Lib-Dem/SNP Administration pressed ahead with a 1.5% cut. Next February (2009), when the Council sets its 2009/10 budget, it will again be our absolute intention to oppose any reduction whatsoever in devolved school budgets - and we will certainly oppose any suggestion of a 2% cut.

Its also worth mentioning that in the last 8-years of our Administration (from 1999-2007) we protected school-based budgets from any reductions in all but 1 of those years. It can be done."
Uh-huh, woopy. Is it 1 to 2% cuts in education budgets that are causing our incredibly shoddy state-school system, but in which, miraculously, we seem to have more A students than ever? State interference is the source of our educational woes, from grade gerrymandering, to the fund-sucking LEAs, which it is estimated take about a third of the education budget from the frontline.

You want real devolved schools, real devolved budgets? How about we let the schools finance themselves? As per Sweden, we should adopt a voucher-based system, where schools can set their own curricula and entry criteria, in which schools can be set up anywhere, and in which parents can take thie voucher, comprising of their child's education costs, and give parents the choice in where to send their child.

Give schools back their independence, and let teachers do their damn jobs.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

No Photographers Please

Via David Farrer's Freedom and Whisky blog I learn that there are likely to be curbs on photography in ... the German Market on Princes St. in Edinburgh.

This is crazy. To gain accreditation to officially photograph there this winter you had to have your name in to Mr. John-Paul Murphy at the council, in charge of Edinburgh Winter Festivals, by, well, this Saturday just been.

I've been to the German Market. Great sausages and steak burgers, and a nice selection of "schokolade". And great for taking pictures. Why oh why is a pass needed?

What the ...?

I can only presume this is meant to have the ex-pats sprinting back to our soggy shores.

Cost to the taxpayer for this cheesy tosh: £150k. But guess what? This, ahem, charming musical video is in fact only showing in Scottish cinemas. Now, quite aside from the fact that, as a resident of Scotland, and a fairly frequent cinema-goer, this travesty of cheese would in fact count considerably as a factor towards making me choose not to go to the cinema, thus reducing the cinema's potential revenues in these troubling recessionary times, how on earth are ex-pats and tourists expected to view this film if it's only being shown in Scottish cinemas?! Are the chances of them searching into YouTube "Caledonia Homecoming 2009", or even a variation of suchlike words, all that high?

Another one and a half hundred grand well spent by our government!

Thursday, 4 December 2008


We finally have up and running the Unofficial Blog for all Libertarians north of the border, affiliated to the UK Libertarian Party.

In time, the hope is that we'll be able to establish and grow a base here in Scotland, beginning with, sometime in the near future, the opening of the official Scottish regional branch of the Libertarian Party.

This blog will be dedicated in the main to discussing Scottish issues, from a Libertarian perspective, though not restricted to that alone. There is a broad range of opinions on all sorts of issues on the Libertarian political spectrum, from issues national to international, from economic to social, but they all tend to have a common theme - how can we best promote the cause of freedom, individual liberty and responsibility, and limited government. That's what we're all about. We're different from any other party you'll find in this country, in that we stand for enhancing YOUR freedom, however we practically can, on whatever issue we can.

The behemothic structure of our State is detrimental to us on so many levels - in an economic sense; in a democratic sense; in a civil-liberties sense. Chances are, you're probably less free than you were last week, for one reason or another, whether it be through a new addition to the 26,000 laws we've seen in the past 11 years of New Labour, or through some fiddling, meddling, nonsensical directive coming from our unelected overlords in the European Commission.

In Scotland, we are posed with a false choice. Stick with Labour, and stay as a strong Scotland within the union! Or: Stick with the SNP and gain your freedom!

False choice number one: the longer Labour stay in power, the higher the likelihood that the Scotland AND United Kingdom we hand over to our children will be weaker; less free; more bureaucratic, with a more bloated government. And don't get confused: the Tories and the Lib Dems are offering you nothing significantly different from the status quo, which goes something like this: you give us more of your money, your liberty, and all we ask for in return is your unswerving obedience.

False choice number two: Freedom? Freedom from Westminster is not freedom if the result is simply a heavier reliance on EU technocrats. Besides, the SNP have shown they are just as nannying and incompetent as Labour, attempting to raise the drinking-age to buy alcohol in off-licenses - not pubs, by the way, just offies, for some mental reason - to 21. That's just one among a whole litany of other idiotic policies which I shall take delightful pleasure in dismantling right here on this blog over the coming months.

So watch this space!