Sunday, 22 April 2018

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

I wrote this over on the Libertarian Alliance website

Nigel gets it.

Over the years, opinion polls here show that Scotland is only one or two percent more socialist than England – when the questions are about specific issues rather than about Labour v Conservative.

Since the war, only the Tories have won more than 50% of the Scottish vote in a UK general election. Except that it wasn’t really the Tories: it was the Scottish Unionist party that won in 1955. Replacing the Unionists (seen up here as Scottish patriots) with a London-centric Conservative party was a huge mistake. Almost everyone here thinks that Scotland is a nation, albeit one that can be happy in a union with the rest of the UK. But the Tories are not seen as embracing that primary loyalty to Scotland. This explains why so many folk in traditional Conservative areas now vote SNP.

Another thing to consider is that we have a four party system up here. The Labour vote is efficiently distributed in that they get few votes in rural and small town Scotland but lots in the cities. That enables Labour to mop up Westminster first past the post seats often with less than half of the vote. But now we have PR in Scottish local elections. In Glasgow in 2003 under first past the post Labour won 71 out of 79 council seats. A Labour city? But they only achieved 47.7% of the vote. In 2012 under PR Labour got 46.72% of the vote but only 44 seats. Not so Labour as you might have thought. And that’s why Labour is now panicking. The first past the post system in May could wipe out large numbers of Scottish Labour seats at Westminster.

Sean said that Scotland is more community minded than England. I’ve lived in both countries and am half English and half Scottish. I think that Sean is correct.

But why?

In the Highlands and Islands – the romantic heart of Scotland – the land is poor and the seas rough. Crofters and fishermen have always had to co-operate for survival. Community mindedness is essential.

In small town Scotland – in which I grew up – a sizeable proportion of the population never move away. I was at a funeral a year ago and almost all of the attendees still lived in my old hometown. That inevitably leads to a greater sense of community than in the ever-changing suburbs of London, Manchester or Birmingham.

And even in the cities there is a simple explanation too. Glasgow and Edinburgh are far more like continental cities than English ones. The West End of Glasgow and the New Town of Edinburgh are among the most desirable and expensive residential areas in the UK. But they are communitarian because of the shared nature of the buildings many of which are occupied by the Scottish middle class elite. Scottish life is either remote or concentrated – so unlike suburban England.

But communitarianism doesn’t necessarily imply socialism, does it? As Hans-Hermann Hoppe teaches us, a libertarian society would of necessity be more communitarian.

But without the state.

How to get there is the question.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

London is ruining Britain

I am qualified as a Chartered Secretary. The very nature of the job means that company secretaries tend to be employed in head offices.

The ICSA operates throughout the UK and abroad. I've done an analysis of UK jobs advertised in our latest journal. With Scotland having around 9% of the UK population one might think that the percentage of jobs up here would reflect that. Most months there are Scottish jobs advertised but there are none at all this month.

So what about the rest of the "provinces"? Here's what I found.

Jobs in Northern Ireland: 0%

In Wales: 0%

In the Northwest of England: 0%

In Yorkshire and Humberside: 0%

In the Southwest of England: 0%

In the Northeast of England: 1%

In the East Midlands: 1%

In the East of England: 1%

In the West Midlands: 6%

In the Home Counties: 22%

In London: 69%

So, 91% of these well-paid head office jobs are in London and its outer suburbs. Market forces say our southern friends. We're just so much more entrepreneurial than the rest of you. I don't believe that for a moment.

Surely the huge centralisation of the UK state apparatus leads to private companies needing to base themselves in the Southeast. Fortunately we in Scotland have a way out.

Saturday, 1 February 2014


I've managed to copy the two comments from e-mail notifications.

The first:

I doubt the Daily Mail thinks voting for twenty years of socialism is inline with their target readership. Wealthier Nation needs to outline a clear path to a parliament that reflects actual Scottish values which consistently show that on most issues people are not as left wing as our representation suggests.

The second:

Do you think you would join with the Scottish conservatives and right leaning people from the SNP after a yes vote? If a large enough popular party cannot be built then there seems to be an overwhelming consensus that reducing poverty and equality will be done through higher taxation and access to the huge oil revenue stream.
Wealthy Nation certainly plans to demonstrate the compatibility of liberal (in the original sense of the word) ideas with Scottish values.

WN takes no view in favour or against any political parties. Our argument is that Scotland is inherently a wealthy nation that would benefit from independence.


I'm very sorry to say that I accidentally deleted two comments that were awaiting approval. Please resubmit. I think there was reference to the Daily Mail and to the future of the Scottish "right".

Sunday, 26 January 2014

No voice for Yes

There was a fascinating article from Pete Martin in the Scotsman the other day:
With dwindling readerships and financial problems aplenty, you’d think Scotland’s editors would stop at nothing, stoop to anything, to boost circulation. They would bend over for Satan, red hot poker in hand, for an extra sale.

Apparently not. There’s one sales ploy to which no Scottish-based title is prepared to sink. And that’s coming out in favour of Scottish independence.

Consider this extraordinary piece in yesterday's Scottish edition of the Daily Mail. I attempted to respond but comments seemed to have been shut down after a mere 24 replies. I can just imagine the reaction of my late mother, a Daily Mail reader...

After today's poll in Scotland on Sunday that shows a five percent increase in Yes voting intentions some media folk might just jump at an obvious business opportunity.

David Reid

On the third of January I attended the funeral of David Reid, one of the founders of the Prestwick Airport Aviation Group.

Here is an appreciation that was published in the Herald:

Enthusiasts come in for much ill-informed flak. However, a sub­stantial number who were inspired by their enthusiasm in the club and sustained by Davie Reid have made significant careers in aviation and other fields and have risen to high positions that include head of airworthiness for Airbus, commander in chief of the Canadian Air Force and head of quality for British Aerospace.

Davie's legacy to us and to Prestwick Airport is great and manifest.

This appreciation was part of a tribute given during the church service. Right at the moment of Davie's coffin being lowered a Boeing 737 passed directly over Ayr Cemetery.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Wealthy Nation

I am please to announce that I've become a supporter of Wealthy Nation, a new Scottish site "in favour of Empowerment, Independence, Economic Liberty and Self Reliance".

Here is the introductory article from Michael Fry.

Welcome to Wealthy Nation. We are a group of Scots who stand to the right of centre on the political spectrum and who are going to vote Yes to the independence of our country in the referendum on September 18, 2014.

To some observers this intention may come as a surprise, but we think Scottish independence is a logical extension of our belief in personal, political, social and economic freedom". On the Wealthy Nation website we have set up, we want over the coming months to discuss and define the relationship between that national goal and the principles we hold. We will show also how the kind of practical policies we advocate will make the Scotland of the future a much richer and happier place.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Is it really ten years?

I was having a look at some old posts on this site and came across this 2003 one about Edinburgh's buses. Note the quote from the Scotsman:
It is felt the changes would make the area a much more pleasant shopping environment once trams start running in the capital.
Trams running! Good grief!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Weegism: the menace that stalks Edinburgh

Poor Tony Winters has become a bit of a laughing stock:
“I said I thought it was racist that if you come from Edinburgh you can get brown sauce free but people from elsewhere, who like ketchup, have to pay. They just said it’s what they do.

We went to another chip shop and the guy was killing himself laughing when we told him. It reeks of racism. Just because we come from the west and tend to like ketchup instead of brown sauce. It’s clear they’re discriminating and I don’t think it’s right.”

Most of the commenters see this for the nonsense that it is. But the real point is that there shouldn't be any laws concerning human action whatsoever so long as there's no initiation of force or fraud. All laws against "racism" should be swept away along with those laws that restrict freedom of speech and of association (and non-association).

Monday, 26 August 2013

Edinburgh New Town 2013

I've updated my Scottish Clouds blog with some new photos.

Here's one of them:

DSCF0053 by David Farrer
DSCF0053, a photo by David Farrer on Flickr.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Time to return

First I'd like to mention ScotFree2014

Welcome to the ScotFree2014 blog. It represents libertarians who are going to vote for Scottish independence in the referendum on September 18, 2014. Here we want to discuss all the issues that will arise in winning freedom for Scotland, economic, social and political. But above all we want to explore how this new freedom will enrich the personal lives of the individual men and women who live here. We look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Who, exactly, is doing this "allocation"?

I've more-or-less given up on reading stuff about the economic prospects of an independent Scotland. We'd be prosperous or poor according to the extent that property rights are supported. That's about it.

But I just can't stop myself reading this sort of thing:

Scotland’s economic future would be brighter if North Sea oil and gas revenues were allocated on a geographical basis, as the IFS claims its public finances “look to have been somewhat stronger than the UK’s in recent years”.

However, the report warns that if Scotland was to receive oil and gas revenues based on its population rather than geography, the situation would leave the country’s economy in a much weaker position in the long term, due to public spending outstripping tax revenues.

Now I don't believe that the oil belongs to any government. It should be solely under the control of the companies that drill it from under the seabed. Subject of course to any justifiable compensation to fishermen who had previously mixed their labour with the relevant parts of the North Sea.

But if one accepts that government may tax the oil then it surely follows that the government of the country in whose waters the oil resides would be the one to levy any taxation.

The oil in question has already been allocated by geography and geology. Unsurprisingly, international law accepts that the vast majority of the oil in question lies in Scottish territory. If you're not too keen on technical legal matters, consult a map.

If the oil is to be "allocated" on a population basis then it follows that around 8.5% of the M25 would belong to the government of an independent Scotland.

Monday, 5 November 2012

The recovery of 5,000 comments

For the past few weeks I’ve been downloading old comments onto this new template and it’s been quite a job. So let’s go back to the beginning of Freedom and Whisky.

I started F&W back in April 2002 using the original system developed by Back in those days blogs didn’t have comments. Then a company by the name of Haloscan came up with some software that could be placed onto the Blogger template and this enabled commenting on Freedom and Whisky.

After a while Google acquired Blogger but the only difference was having to log on using a Google password instead of a Blogger one. Haloscan was also acquired by another company – in this case Echo.

Google gradually introduced various new template styles and the later ones included built-in commenting facilities. I resisted upgrading the template because of various reports that I may lose old comments. That was probably a mistake.

On 1st April (Ha! Ha!) this year Echo (formerly Haloscan) announced that all comments would disappear on 1st October. Not to worry though, I could download something called an “XML file” and use it to upload the historical comments to another commenting provider.

I then decided that it really was time to use an up-to-date Google template.

Many web searches indicated that the Disqus system would best be able to cope with this, but, alas, that was not to be. To cut a very long story short, Disqus managed to "download" around 160 out of 5,000-odd comments from the XML file to the new template, but without any of them actually being readable on the blog!

Back to the drawing board.

I went back to the original template. By an amazing stroke of good luck I discovered that I could change the Haloscan/Echo system's controls to show the comments directly onto the face of the blog rather than it being necessary to click through to read each post's comments. That meant that I could copy and save all of the monthly archives, including comments, into around 120 files instead of perhaps 5,000!

I did that during August and September.

Then I switched back to the new template and started the process of copying and pasting the old comments onto the new template, with each post's comments being transferred as a batch. The job was finished earlier today. Here's the control document:

Almost all comments ever written have been transferred, although quite a few in 2003 seem to have completely disappeared from the commenting history. And since then only the last 25 comments from each post have been recovered. The vast majority of posts attracted less than 25 comments but some did go up to 57 comments!

Nevertheless, I reckon that around eighty to ninety percent of all comments now appear on the new template.

If any aggrieved commenter has records of any missing comments please get in touch...

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Ahead of its time...

I'm still copying the comments across from my old template to this new one. It's very interesting re-reading some of my old posts. Like this one from July 2004:

The Bank of Scotland: RIP

Ever since the "merger" of the Bank of Scotland with the Halifax there's been an outpouring of complaints from irate customers of "The Bank". Hardly a day goes by without a letter being published in the Scotsman and today we have three. (Here's one from Monday.)

My mother's family banked with the British Linen Bank in Annan. They even lived in Bank Street! Ever since moving away in the 1940's my mother always kept a small balance in "her" bank and didn't mind too much when it became part of the Bank of Scotland. Out of the blue she received a letter "thanking her for choosing to bank with the Halifax". She hadn't, nor had any of the other Bank of Scotland customers whose accounts were unilaterally transferred after the "merger". My mother is now unable to communicate with the Annan branch - that's no longer allowed.

My wife and I both opened ISA accounts with the Bank of Scotland - it offered the best rates at the time and we liked the Scottish connection. These accounts were also unilaterally transferred to the Halifax after the "merger". Last night my wife phoned the bank to transfer a sum from her ISA account to her current account, which is with the Clydesdale Bank. First she had to "re-register" her account with a new security code and was then told that she could only make a telephonic transfer from her ISA account to a current account with the Halifax/Bank of Scotland and not to an outside bank. She would have to go into town, withdraw cash from HBoS and deposit it into her own bank! These were the new rules that now applied to ISA accounts according to the phone operator. We cursed Gordon Brown. After the call we had a look at my wife's ISA statement and saw that she had indeed made a similar telephonic transfer to the Clydesdale not too long ago. This morning she phoned HBoS again and was asked to "re-register her account with a new security code" although she had done that last night! Today's operator confirmed the new rules: they're nothing to do with Mr Brown but are the result of the bank "integration". She also said that we could change our accounts from "branch-based" to "telephone-based" ones, and that would enable us to transfer funds to another organisation by telephone in future. This would take ten days to organise! But our accounts weren't opened at any particular branch - the forms were sent by post from the Bank of Scotland's head office. We never chose to have "branch-based" accounts. We were also told that the telephone account would pay an extra 1% interest. Why weren't we told of this option before? All-in-all this "merger" has been an unmitigated disaster and looks like destroying one of Scotland's oldest and proudest businesses. It's such a shame.

My immediately previous post was about "forthcoming" financial problems involving the US housing market...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

It's the SNP's fault.

What a week for the SNP. They're in big trouble over EUgate and NATOgate. But it really is their own fault, isn't it?

It's the SNP's fault because they shouldn't hold any opinion on whether an independent Scotland should be in the EU or in Nato.

It is of course conceivable that someone may think that getting nuclear weapons out of Scotland is their number one political objective. They may then conclude that an independent Scotland is less likely to contain nukes and then go on to support Scottish independence for that reason alone.

Equally, one might conclude that an independent Scotland would be less likely to withdraw from the EU than would a UK dominated by Eurosceptic folk down south.

But it's perfectly possible to believe in Scottish independence and be pro or anti Nato or to be pro or anti the EU.

We don't even know whether the UK itself will be in or out of Nato or the EU after 2015. Who knows what will happen at the next general election?

Surely the point of the SNP is to persuade people here that Scotland is a nation and that therefore it should be independent whether the resulting government be left wing or right wing, authoritarian or libertarian, pro or anti NATO or the EU. It is also a perfectly valid argument for Unionists to agree that Scotland is a nation but that its interests are best served in a multi-national UK state.

The whole question of becoming independent or remaining in the Union should be judged on that basis alone.

And those who think that an independent Scotland would necessarily be a right-on and left-wing paradise might well be in for a rude shock.

Monday, 8 October 2012


Tornado by David Farrer
Tornado, a photo by David Farrer on Flickr.

At Leuchars Airshow.

Has Ruth Davidson made Scottish independence inevitable?

Here's the key quote from her speech in Birmingham:

It is staggering that public sector expenditure makes up a full 50% of Scotland’s GDP and only 12% of households are net contributors, where the taxes they pay outweigh the benefits they receive through public spending.

Only 12% are responsible for generating Scotland’s wealth. There are people with household incomes of £50,000 who are paying thousands – indeed- tens of thousands of pounds in taxation, and even that doesn’t cover the amount of money government spends in their name.Now I'd like to see her "workings" but I did a few calculations in my head and am quite prepared to believe the basic message.

So what's the problem then?

It's this. Government statistics show that taxes collected in Scotland are slightly higher than our share of government expenditure, both devolved and reserved. So while it may well be so that only one Scot in eight is a net contributor to the state, the figure for the rest of the UK - and that essentially means England - must be worse.

But that message hasn't exactly made its way to the Tory heartlands has it? Read the comments in the Telegraph and see just how little is known about Scotland down south. Whenever each misconception is corrected, another ten pop up.

So I'd bet that most Tories at their Conference will be thinking: "Even the Scottish leader says that all the Jocks are living at our expense. Let's kick them out."

Is Ms Davidson in the pay of the SNP?

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Junk Mail

Why is it that the only e-mails identified as junk by Demon's e-mail system are Demon's own bills for Internet service provision?

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


I am gradually posting comments from the old template onto this new one. All comments for 2011 and 2012 should now be readable.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

BBC uses one of my photos

The BBC has produced a rather good documentary on Hayek. My photo of Hayek taken outside Buckingham Palace appears at 53:37.

Thanks to Andy Duncan's blog for alerting me to the BBC programme.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

News of the Wool

I'm in the market for a new sweater. My late mother used to work part-time in a shop in Keswick and they had a wonderful supply of sweaters made from the wool of the local Herdwick Sheep. No longer, as I noticed when I was down there recently. In fact, I was astounded at how difficult it seems to be to source another Herdwick sweater. There's a good business opportunity for someone.

But this creates opportunities for others. A bit of Googling led me to Mrs McCornack of Annan. And then I found these folk, also of Annan. A coincidence you may think?

Actually no. I was born in Annan and it looks like I've found the answer to the missing Herdwick question.

Support your local sweater.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Third Way

The question of Heathrow expansion has been going on for as long as I can remember:
The announcement means that the debate over whether Heathrow should have a third runway, or whether a new airport should be built in the Thames Estuary, which has split the Conservative ranks, will drag on for many more months.
For some reason a third Heathrow runway would take around ten years to construct and Boris Island even longer. But what no one ever seems to mention is the real nature of the actual problem.

All of the UK's transport, employment and housing problems are caused by our having an extraordinarily centralised government that is located at one corner of a long and narrow land mass. Not only that, our capital is at the corner of the island that is nearest to the rest of Europe with all of the resulting advantages.

There are three ways out.

The best solution is to get rid of at least ninety percent of government activity. In such a paradise there would no longer be all of those government jobs in London but also no reason for so many private companies to locate there.

Next best would be to establish a proper federal system with the national capital on the Isle of Man. Preferably this would include a reunited Ireland. Again, that would result in a radical decentralisation of the UK.

Finally, if we really can't do without an oversized, hugely centralised and non-federal state, we should move the UK capital to Glasgow. We have the airport capacity. HS2 can start at the top and proceed southwards. To the provinces... And surely there's a Cameron tartan so that the PM could legitimately claim his state kilt on expenses. Then there'd be a British football team, based at Hampden Park of course. And I'm sure that the Queen would love to spend more time at Balmoral, enjoying drams with the Keeper of the Royal Stable, Lord Salmond.

A rebalanced UK would solve so many of our problems. Forget Boris Island and LHR3. Move it all up here.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


I've ditched the Disqus system as according to their site it's failed to load comments older than two years but they didn't show on the blog up anyway!

I've now switched on Blogger's own commenting system.

Back ups of all previous comments are on my computer and I may try to reinstate them at some time in the future.