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Spectator goes anti-austerity and full MMT

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/04/2021 - 2:54am in

There is an article from this week’s Spectator by Malcolm Offord,who is the founder and chairman of Badenoch & Co (an investment company). He is standing on the Lothian list for the Conservative Party in May’s Scottish Parliament election. The article also appears under the right-wing think tank, Policy Exchange banner, where the title ‘Why... Read more

Graham Linehan’s Trans Day of Visibility: It’s Against a Harmful Ideology, Not People

I’m almost two weeks late writing about this, but I think it needs to be covered. On the last day of March, Graham Linehan and his conversationalists on The Mess We’re In channel held their own Trans Day of Visibility. As well as being the writer behind the awesome Father Ted, Linehan is very much a male feminist. He’s become notorious over the past few years for his opposition to the transgender ideology, along with Kellie-Jay Kean, Abigail Shrier, Benjamin Boyce, and the host of another YouTube channel, You’re Kidding, Right?. This last lady presents the arguments against the ideology from the perspective of a Black American woman, which is very enlightening. Especially when she forcefully tells the trans rights activists not to true to compare their ideology to the Civil Rights movement. One of her critics tried to tell her that she was the equivalent of the Klan. Her antecedents came from Georgia when the Klan were powerful and extremely frightening. She made it very, very clear that she was nothing like the Klan. But I digress.

Linehan is joined on his videos with Welsh feminist Helen Staniland and gay Canadian Arty Morty. Morty is, by his own admission, very much a part of the Canadian gay scene and worked as a bar man in a trans bar. Staniland is concerned about the threat to women and girls from biological men being allowed into female spaces on the grounds that they identify as women. Morty is particularly concerned that gender reassignment is being used as a form of conversion therapy to ‘cure’ gender non-conforming children and teens by parents who are afraid that their children will grow up gay. He’s particularly concerned as he was one of these kids. As a boy, he preferred to play with dolls, and he’s afraid that if he was a child today, he would have been put down as transgender and been put on the path to transition.

It was the ‘trans day of visibility’ a few weeks ago, and so Linehan and his friends have as guests in this video their transgender friends and supporters – Debbie Hayton, Miranda Yardlemort, Scott Newgent, and a transman who appears simply as Aaron. These gents and ladies give their perspective on the dangers of trans movement and ideology as transmen and women, and how they came to oppose it.

They did so for a variety of reasons. In the case of Yardlemort, it was through looking at what the gender critical feminists actually wrote for herself, and being horrified at the grotesquely exaggerated response by the trans activists to entirely reasonable points as well as the way opposing feminists were stalked, abused and maltreated. She was also concerned by the way the pro-trans stance of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Women actually invalidates those rights and endangers women. She was thrown off Twitter for such crimes as saying that there are only two genders, transwomen shouldn’t be allowed into women’s spaces, and that rape and death threat to women aren’t acceptable. Yardlemort has also suffered her share of bullying from trans activists, as when one tried to take her to court for alleged ‘transphobia’.

Debbie Hayton joined the anti-trans movement because she was afraid that their extreme claims would actually damage the trans movement, and make trans people less accepted. She argues that being gender critical does not mean being anti-trans. She and Helen Staniland looked back to a time when transwomen and women were largely in harmony with each other, although there was occasional conflicts over the inclusion of transwomen in female-only events, such as the Michfest women-only music festival.

They also talk about the vexed issues of pronouns. The attitude of Arty Morty is that, while he doesn’t believe that there should be laws demanding transgender people be referred to be their chosen pronouns, he has no problem doing so for decent people. It’s only the misogynists he refuses to call ‘she’.

Aaron made it very clear that he believes transitioning is beneficial for some people. It worked for him, but he didn’t have a mental illness. This is important, as some of those being diagnosed a transgender may simply be mentally ill or have a neurological condition like autism. He turned against the trans ideology three years ago from concerns about the homophobia. He’s afraid that the excesses of the trans activists, such as the attacks on J.K. Rowling, will eventually lead to a ban on transitions, which will harm those who really need them. He is also afraid, like Linehan, Staniland, Morty and the others, that children and vulnerable adults are being misdiagnosed as trans and consequently mutilated. Debbie Orlander also shares this fear, especially when it comes to children as young as four or five.

Scott Newgent makes the point that part of the problem is medical corporations, who stand to make a profit from these drugs and treatments, telling vulnerable people they have the solution. This is compounded by social media, as Twitter and other sites will not allow the opposing side to be heard. He also makes the point that the trans ideology is supported by genuinely good people, who want to do the right thing, and have been falsely persuaded that the trans issue is the same as gay rights and comparable to the struggle over gay marriage. He believes that there is a positive side to trans activism, but this is a problem as its acceptance leads also to the acceptance of the negative aspects as well. He and the others also take down some of the ridiculously inflated and entirely false claims of the trans activists. Over here in the Blighty, the trans activists wanted a ‘trans day of remembrance’ for all the transgender people, who’ve been murdered. Except the numbers of transgender people who’ve been killed over here is vanishingly small. No transpeople have been killed in Scotland, for example. Newgent makes the same point about similar claims in his part of the US. He attended a talk about trans rights, in which the speaker claimed that trans children in his state of South Dakota were in danger of committing suicide. Except they weren’t. No trans children have committed suicide there.

The peeps do, however, express concerns that these threats and prophecies of suicide may be self-fulling. There is the danger that people, who have been misled into transitioning, may kill themselves when they find that it is not the cure they have been promised. Lesbian girls may be particularly affected by this. One of them talks about how they’re horrified by the the people, who’ve been physically harmed by the treatment – people with osteopathy and shrunken hearts due to puberty blockers and the hormones they’ve been prescribed. There’s also the case of the medical doctor, who contacted Linehan in distress at being officially barred from telling upset trans people that J.K. Rowling does not in fact want to kill them.

The team talk about the toxicity and violence of the trans activists. One of them physically attacked a gender critical feminist, Cathy Brennan, at Speaker’s Corner, a situation made all the worse by the actions of Stonewall, the gay advocacy organisation. They also criticise the left for its handling of the debate. They state that the left is undemocratic, intolerant of free speech and has a problem with racism and misogyny. Stonewall by its actions over a number of issues has provoked a backlash, of which the gender critical movement is only one part.

Hayton is optimistic, believing that more people are turning against the trans movement and being aware how it affects women’s rights and children’s safeguarding, as well as the way it harms transpeople themselves. Fionne, another transwoman, is also optimistic, noting the success of the Keira Bell case. Like Aaron, she believes that medical transition should be an option, but only for adults, not children, who need psychotherapy and a more diverse approach. She believes that transpeople have made a mistake in demanding access to women’s spaces, and should instead have demanded their own, third spaces. Yardlemort actually emailed a number of LGBTQ organisations about the need for gay spaces away from transpeople, but none of them replied.

The team also debate whether Donald Trump was the only person, who would have been able to stop the progress of trans ideology. They feel we need more people like J.K. Rowlings, who stand up to the trans lobby simply out of principle without any benefit to themselves. Newgent states that he has sacrificed his own career for his principles. He states that when it comes to the treatment of children,

I am very much aware that this is a very emotive issue and that many of my readers don’t share my views on this topic. However, I strongly believe that Linehan and his guests here are correct, and that vulnerable people, particularly women and children, are being unnecessarily put on life-changing, harmful medical treatment. And there is a problem with biological men being allowed into female-only spaces, such as prisons. There have been a series of rapes of women prisoners by biological men, who have been placed in women’s prisons because they have identified, or claimed to identify, as women.

I don’t hate transgender people, and definitely don’t wish anyone to come to any harm, much less be killed. But there are genuine dangers here, but unfortunately the climate of liberal opinion and many ‘official’ gay organisations, like Stonewall, mean that the gender critical side is silenced and their arguments not heard.

As you can see from this video, Linehan and his friends very definitely don’t hate transpeople, although they do discuss some extremely dangerous and predatory individuals. And they clearly have friends and supporters in the trans community, who share their concerns.

At the very least, they need to be heard and listened to. The topic should not be the monopoly of intolerant trans activists.

Scotland needs to generate well over 100% renewable power compared to current consumption

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/04/2021 - 4:28pm in

The first of my regular columns in The National in Scotland is out. In it I argue:

Scotland needs to generate well over 100% renewable power compared to current consumption most of the time in the future. That’s because this ability to generate low emission energy is the basis for Scotland’s prosperity in the years to come.

The rest is here.

The heavy price of Johnson’s English nationalism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/04/2021 - 6:32pm in

The world has, at last, noticed that not all is well in Northern Ireland. Loyalist rioting has gone on for six nights now. There is no sign, as yet, of it ending.

I will never condone violence. But when a community tolerates it - and it must be since it seems that several hundred people are engaged in this activity - then there is an indication of real political concern within it, and that requires attention.

Various justifications for this violence have been promoted. I am not able to determine whether they are reliable or not, and so will not comment. What I do know is that Boris Johnson wilfully changed the status of Northern Ireland and then wilfully lied about doing so when undertaking Brexit.

As years have passed it has become increasingly obvious how skilful the Good Friday Agreement on Northern Ireland was. By letting both communities feel that they secured the identity that they wished for the Agreement delivered an unexpected peace.

Unionists felt a part of the UK. Nationalists saw the border with Ireland disappear. The result was a compromise within the EU that proved to be remarkably durable.

Brexit took that away. The EU departed the scene. A border had to be created. It is in the Irish Sea, and not within Ireland. The result is Unionist anger. That was always predictable.

That Johnson lied about, and the DUP supported his plans for far too long made things worse. Being betrayed by those you think should be your own side is never a good feeling.

And betrayal is an appropriate word here. That is what Johnson did. He actually betrayed all in Northern Ireland by lying about what was being done. It’s just some feel it more intensely.

What can be done? Honesty would help. But honesty about a deal that does, and even has to by its very nature, fail Northern Ireland can only go so far. The brutal reality is that the basis for the peace has been fractured.

I have no obvious solution to offer. There is none available. That’s because Johnson did not care. Nor did the rest of the UK care. Northern Ireland was simply not an issue for them. Only a tiny proportion from Great Britain has ever been there. The rest think it another country. And the Unionists don’t want to accept that. They wish to be a part of a country that is now very obviously indifferent to them.

Do I care about this? Yes, of course I do. I am aware that the same issue exists in Wales and Scotland. I am also aware that the sense of betrayal by what is, in effect, England, will also be found amongst some there. So of course I am aware of this issue and care about it. Passions run high in such situations. Outcomes are unpredictable. I definitely care about that.

But what I also know is that none of this can be managed without skilful diplomatic input from London. And that is a lot, and maybe too much, to expect.

Brexit was the creation of those now in power in London. They advanced it for their own cynical gain. Their transformation of the Conservative Party into an English nationalist party was not by chance. The consequences have and will flow from that.

Have they the ability to both simultaneously promote the nationalist, micro-imperialist cause that they promote and deal with tensions that arise from it, so far only really apparent in Northern Ireland? I doubt it.

The reason is obvious, it comes from the paradox that their nationalism is simultaneously imperialist. English nationalism’s identity requires that it has the right to rule others, even if only now in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So they cannot even be honest enough to say to the loyalists in Northern Ireland that the country of which they wish to be a part no longer wants them, even if the vast majority in that country probably think that. As a result Johnson fuels the hope of those rioting, whilst ensuring that in reality there is none, as evidenced by his actions on Brexit.

I did not expect this to happen so quickly. I thought there would be a longer period of grace on this issue. It appears not. Johnson lit the blue touch paper. He has no fire extinguisher. He does not have the skills to diffuse what he so deliberately created. He may not even have the desire.

The best we can hope for is that the troubles might be contained. But what I am quite sure about is that the stresses will not be contained. The route on which English nationalism set us is a stressful one, for the UK and the nations that will now seemingly inevitably emerge from it. Anyone interested in the route to constitutional change has to recognise that, and be honest about it. Johnson proves the risk of dishonesty. It is very high, and we might all suffer as a result of it.

From here to the FT: Jim Osborne’s thinking on pensions gets a wider airing

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 07/04/2021 - 5:28pm in

I share this post by Jim Osborne on the Facebook page of the Scottish Banking and Finance Group:

The Financial Times has picked up a story about my proposals for an NPIF - see this piece in the "Pensions Expert" section of the FT today. Richard Murphy kindly gave me the opportunity for a two part guest post on his Tax Research UK blog a couple of weeks ago and it seems to have caused rather a stir amongst asset managers and other financial intermediaries. I was offered a "right of reply" so the article quotes what I said and has quoted me accurately.

Much (but not all) of the reaction is (unsurprisingly) hostile but it seems to have got folk talking.

I gather that Jim is preparing responses.

From my perspective, no guest post has had more impact than that.

Indy myths

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 04/04/2021 - 5:21pm in



New from The National this morning, and with me as one of those featured:

Writing for The National

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 04/04/2021 - 12:29am in

My post analysing the FT’s arguments on the viability of Scottish independence has now been reposted by The National newspaper in Scotland.

At the foot of the article there is also this comment:

Richard Murphy will be writing exclusive analysis for The National once a week from now on. 

I am pleased to say that I have been invited to write a weekly comment column for The National which will usually be due out on Friday or Saturday each week.

Topics will vary. Requests are welcome, but I cannot promise to deliver on all of them, and because I will be paid for these columns I will not be able to reproduce them in full here.

The FT’s analysis of the economics of an independent Scotland is a catalogue of errors and false assumptions

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 03/04/2021 - 7:25pm in

The FT has published the first part of what it says will be a series on the risk of the UK breaking up. The article considers the economic risks of Scotland becoming independent. It begins by saying:

An independent Scotland would inherit a large hole in its public finances because lower than expected tax revenues, Brexit and the coronavirus crisis have increased the country’s budget deficit, according to a Financial Times analysis.

The analysis is depressingly familiar. The argument suggests that Scotland’s fiscal position has deteriorated since 2014 and that it now faces major budget deficits.

Given that all such comments are, of course, based on assumptions as well as economic data, none of which are free from bias (meaning, of course, that I accept that I am not) I checked out what the sources for this article might be. These are a little hard to find, except when it comes to the charts, where it becomes clear that there are just three of them. The first is the UK Office for Budget Responsibility. The second is GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) and the SNP Growth Commission.

Of these three the OBR fully buys into recharging Scotland anything that can be attributed to it within UK government accounting.

GERS has been long criticised by me for its false accounting. It only records tax revenues in Scotland but records expenditure for Scotland. The latter need never have been incurred in Scotland, and what is more the tax paid on it is not attributed to Scotland. In addition, tax paid by English and overseas residents on rents and interest paid by Scottish people is not attributed to Scotland either. Of course it shows a serious deficit. It was designed to do so.

And then there is Andrew Wilson’s utterly discredited Growth Commission report, which was a giant own-goal by Sturgeon in permitting deeply orthodox neoliberal economic thinking to supposedly dictate Scotland’s future, resulting in a precription of deep austerity because it actually assumed GERS was right.

Added to this is an obsession apparent though out the article with the collapse of oil revenue, which was over-emphasised in 2014.

It also seems very likely that the Wilson view on currency - or the continued use of sterling - is implicit in the FT view.

And so they come out with an opinion so often heard before. In that case let me suggest what they have got wrong.

First, there is oil. That is yesterday’s news. Have they not heard of the fact renewables are now the story? And it just so happens Scotland has more renewable energy per head of population than any other country in Europe. It is already 97% renewable in electricity. It will become well over 100%. So, first, it will export to a desperate England, and second, it will become an absolute hub for businesses with high energy consumption who need to make that green which can only be done in a location with an excess of renewable energy. The likelihood of a new industrial revolution in Scotland as companies are required to restrict what are called their Scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions from electricity consumption, which will be zero in Scotland, is very high indeed. But the analysis seems not to notice this.

Then there is the fact that Scotland will collect all its own taxes, including on corporate profits, financial income and rents, the vast majority of which likely leak right now. And it will, of course, design its own tax system to make sure this happens. The analysis ignores this.

It will also not incur a significant part of the expense now charged to it by London. It will begin b6yonly paying for one government for a start, and move on from there.

After that, it will use its own currency. The supposed threat from the bond markets that the article talks about will not exist. Just like the UK now, Scotland will be able to neuter such silly games by bond financiers by using quantitative easing. The article ignores that possibility.

And Wilson got foreign currency reserve requirements very wrong, firstly because he assumed Scotland would use a fixed exchange rate when Scotland will actually float its currency. Fixed rates require large reserves, as Denmark needs. Floating rates do not. He also forgot, as Tim Rideout points out, just how much sterling Scotland will hold as currencies swap.

Then, Scotland will not have to service UK debt. It will have no obligation at all to repay any of that debt precisely because the UK itself makes no such repayments, whilst on interest the charge would at most be on debt net of QE shown to be attributable to Scotland. There will be almost nothing owing.

And, the report assumes that there would be no growth spurt in Scotland after independence, but all the evidence is that when independent Scotland will have a new vigour that is bound to fuel that.

It will also, of course, be headed back into the international community as fast as possible, which will help no end, and drive business to it.

I could go on, but did the FT take any of this into account? No, of course it did not.

Instead it said Scotland cannot survive without oil, it will beholden to bond markets and it must balance its books. That is an analysis so out of date it is hard to credit that they have the nerve to use it, except for the fact that it is the only basis on which they can come up with their gloomy prediction.

Chris Giles, who co-wrote the article, is a long-established, strongly right-leaning, deeply conventional and if I might say so, rather small-minded economist in the sense that he seems only able to deal with the facts laid before him and cannot imagine anything but that which has been the status quo. The whole point of Scottish independence is to shatter the status quo. He cannot comprehend that, and so forecasts for independence as if a scenario written between 2014 and 2017 might still exist. But everything has changed for a multitude of reasons in macroeconomics, QE, the politics of Scotland, our understanding of GERS, Covid and the importance of sustainability. The FT missed all that. They produced a hopelessly misjudged article as a result.


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 27/03/2021 - 7:59pm in


Politics, scotland

I find it slightly odd to make a personal statement on party politics, because I don’t do party politics, but for once I feel it necessary.

As most readers will know I take an interest in Scottish politics. And many readers will also know that I have on occasion appeared on the Alex Salmond Show, which has sometimes offered its own ethical challenges. So I have, of course, met Alex and had discussions with him.

However, for the record I have no link with his new party, Alba. Nor am I planning any link with it. I am always willing to offer advice, usually without ever drawing attention to the fact, to politicians who ask. But whilst it was entirely predictable that Alex Salmond would seek to return to Scottish politics I had not discussed his doing so with him and have no intention of breaking my commitment to not doing party politics. Although that will not, of course stop me commenting on it if I think it appropriate.

A National Pension & Investment Fund (NPIF) – a synopsis – Part 2

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/03/2021 - 6:57pm in

Earlier this week I published the first part of a post on pension reform by Jim Osborne.  This is the follow-up, and concluding, second part:

In Part one of this guest post I explained my ideas for a National Pension & Investment Fund (NPIF) the main objectives behind the proposals and how it could be created.

In this second post I will set out how I think a NPIF would invest its capital, what its investment portfolios would look like and what principles of investment it should adopt.

The primary purpose of the NPIF is to invest to support the development of a productive economy for Scotland, and avoid as much as possible investments in the trading of securities. It is inevitable, however, that holding a portfolio of financial assets will still be required because opportunities for investments in production are unlikely to call upon all the capital in the fund, at least over the short-medium term. In this case the assets being held should be selected according to strict criteria and held for the long term unless conditions change which create a breach of the criteria.

This approach to investments will produce two distinctive portfolios – one dedicated to active investment in productive enterprises, the other holding a range of financial assets such as government bonds, corporate bonds and shares. Further consideration needs to be given as to whether the NPIF should also hold other assets such as currency, commodities and land.

The active investment portfolio will feature a diversity of investments. The diversity will be across a number of dimensions – enterprise size, type (joint stock companies, partnerships, co-operatives, social enterprises etc), industrial sector, and risk profile. This latter diversity factor means investments across the risk spectrum from venture capital type of investments in new innovations to low risk, stable revenue generating businesses and infrastructure, such as energy, social housing and public transport.

The mode of investing is based on equity direct partnerships (EDPs) in which the NPIF provides capital as an active partner in return for agreed sharing of profits (operating surpluses). The terms of the EDP are agreed in advance, including how the surpluses are to be shared between the enterprise and the NPIF, and social and environmental conditions to be met (such as employment standards, rates of pay, environmental standards etc). It is proposed that these are aligned with the requirements set out in a Corporate Code/Company Law, which are also the basis of listing rules for a Stock Exchange.

Note. This model of investing is not a Jim Osborne invention. It is a concept developed by the Capital Institute in the USA and by Tim MacDonald, a US investment professional who I met in 2013. The original concept was called “Evergreen Direct Investment (EDI)”. It was aimed at large pension fund investors and remained a rentier form of pension fund investment in that its main focus was on cash rich, stable companies and revenue rich infrastructure. My adaptation of this concept is designed for a large sovereign wealth fund, accountable to the public, which invests across the whole of the risk spectrum so that it provides a source of national capital to support innovation, new technology and new industrial sectors. The risky nature of venture capital is balanced with revenue rich infrastructure such as housing and renewable energy but in the NPIF model it is no longer a rentier but a mutual network as all citizens are both ultimate investors and ultimate beneficiaries, not just a fortunate few members of a private pension scheme.

The fact that EDPs are based on contractually agreed partnerships, which cannot be terminate other than by express mutual agreement, means that they are impervious to hostile takeover – the NPIF as a partner holds a veto over any possible sale of the partnership’s assets. It is a form of mutual.

The portfolio of financial assets will have to be restructured so that assets being held at the time of formation of the NPIF, which do not meet the new selection criteria, will have to be disposed of in a phased manner and replaced with assets which meet the selection criteria.

The selection criteria will be aligned with the social values of the public as a whole as set down through Parliament and the democratic process. Values expressed in the Constitution of the state will frame the broad principles. For example a constitutional right to housing will inform selection of financial assets which support the housing and construction sector. Standards of corporate governance, accounting and disclosure will also comprise an important element in the framing of selection criteria.

In summary, the NPIF will be created to support productive activity which meets the needs of all citizens and which connects the purpose of money and NPIF capital to the social values of the people as a whole. Its conception is founded on the principle of a proper popular democracy.