Saturday, 19 December 2015

Neuro-Linguistic Programming for the Masses

Having spent much of the last two years watching the highly impressive SNP spin-machine in action, it occurs to me that they are in fact expert practitioners of a kind of mass Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

For those unfamiliar with the concept of NLP1, our old friend Wikipedia explains that it's a system for exploiting the existence of "...a connection between the neurological processes ("neuro"), language ("linguistic") and behavioral patterns learned through experience ("programming") and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals ...".

A pragmatic exponent of some of NLP's more entertaining applications (and vocal critic of much of the exploitative psycho-quackery built around it)  is the charismatic brain-squeezer Derren Brown. He offers this rather simple explanation;
"by paying particular attention to the language we use, we can have a powerful effect on the unconscious neurological processes of the listener" - Tricks of the Mind, p176
Of course all political parties use carefully chosen language to try and programme the electorate to their way of thinking; we live in an age of endlessly repeated soundbites, of pithy phrases designed to penetrate the consciousness of the short attention-spanned. But what sets the SNP (the SNLP?) apart is the sheer audacity with which they're willing to relentlessly repeat not just partial truths but demonstrable falsehoods.

The mainstream media sometimes (although all too rarely) highlight the dissembling duplicity of the SNP's public pronouncements, but the SNP have immunised themselves against this by spending years patiently undermining all media sources except those they favour (which funnily enough tend to be the ones they have created or effectively control). It could be argued that the SNP's most impressive achievement has been to enable their supporters to give themselves permission to ignore all dissenting voices.

By their very nature, you'll be familiar with the sorts of phrases that I'm referring to.

Firstly there are those partial truths that focus on GDP or tax revenue but simply ignore spending (like judging the quality of a business on its revenues not its profits). These statements blithely ignore what it costs to run our country with the levels of public service we've become used to
These carefully chosen and endlessly repeated boasts were of course all dependent on oil revenues, so they're no longer valid. Take a meander through the remoter natwaters of social media though, and you'll see that plenty still believe and repeat these half-truths.

Secondly there are those statements that, by any reasonable analysis, are simply false. Here are just a few
I won't repeat the arguments here, but the wrongheadedness of each of these statements have been well covered in this blog.

Finally there's a category which is perhaps the most NLP-y of all: statements that can't be factually refuted and that imply (or explicitly claim) inevitability.

Perhaps the most notable example of this during the indyref was "Are you Yes yet? The clear implication being that you inevitably will be, it's simply a matter of time. To be fair this is simply an example of good campaign language. I offer no criticism in this instance, just polite applause.

But for me the most insidious example is "A Second Scottish Independence Referendum is Inevitable". This statement has the capacity to become a self-fulfilling prophesy if we allow it to become received wisdom.

As a rule, people don't vote to make themselves poorer. The last indyref took place in the context of a period where - if you ignored up-to-date data, shut one eye and blurred the other when looking at historical figures and were willing to believe hopelessly optimistic oil forecasts - you could just about persuade yourself independence wouldn't make us worse off. Those of us who looked closely quickly drew a different conclusion.


As as aside; I don't believe the fact that it would make us immediately worse of is in and of itself a reason not to vote Yes; but I do believe those campaigning for a Yes vote had a moral duty to be honest about the economic implications. This blog's existence is a direct result of the fact that they weren't, of my frustration with the transparent dishonesty of the Yes campaign's claims.


Now - following the collapse in oil revenues - it's clear Scotland would be £8bn2 a year worse off as an independent country if all else stayed the same (which of course wouldn't be the case3). The best spin-machine in the world couldn't hide that fact under the intense scrutiny another referendum campaign would bring. No amount of artificial grievance-mongering or empty "social justice" rhetoric would persuade us to vote to make every man, woman and child in Scotland immediately £1,500 a year worse off .

The SNP have been clear there won't be a second referendum unless they believe they can win it; they won't win it if a Yes vote would obviously make us all poorer. So what could change the fundamental economic situation, and are any of these things "inevitable"?
  1. Another windfall source of revenue could be found that generates £8bn+ a year in tax revenue and has the appearance of being sustainable. This could be oil & gas again (although the oil price simply returning to $100 won't be sufficient, as I explain here) or it could be we discover some other swiftly tax generating natural resource.
  2. Scotland's economy could miraculously boom such that our GDP (and therefore our tax revenue) growth outstrips that of the rest of the UK by 16% (the amount required to generate £8bn pa more income). The notoriously optimistic Independence White Paper itself argued that such levels of growth would take generations to deliver. There has been no credible case put forward for why further devolution (or indeed independence) should create superior growth for Scotland - the logic goes little further than "because Scottish people making decisions for Scotland"
  3. The drive for more powers for Scotland could lead to the Barnett formula being scrapped or drastically altered. The Barnett formula underpins the calculation of the block grant, the block grant provides us with funds for public spending that's currently £8bn pa. more than our proportionate share of (current) tax generation would allow. Take this away - stop us from benefiting from the "pooling and sharing" that protects our public spending - and we lose the single strongest argument against voting Yes: the £8bn a year Union dividend.
The third of these is of course made more likely by the SNP's persistent winding-up of the rest of the UK. If they persuade everybody that indyref II is inevitable it further helps their cause - why should the rest of the UK continue with pooling and sharing if it's inevitable that Scots will leave soon anyway?

So next time somebody tells you that a second independence referendum is inevitable, maybe ask them why - then judge for yourself if you think their opinion has been reached through reason or programming.

*******


1. I'm using the term NLP as a convenient short-hand here, on the assumption that these basic principles are widely understood and easy to grasp. I think the wider NLP "industry" is well described by Derren Brown: "a huge industry of daft theories and hyperbole, evangelical mind-sets and endlessly self-perpetuating courses ..." - Tricks of the Mind p.177 

2. The £8bn is a conservative estimate and comes not just from my own analysis but also the highly respected independent think-tanks IFS and NIESR - I summarised these most recently here

3. Those things that "wouldn't stay the same" carry more downside risk in the short-term (issues around currency, trade, capital flight and transition costs) and the (highly debatable) upside benefits would take generations to materialise.


38 comments:

Douglad (Scotland) said...

Great stuff. You pen a whole article about a subject to which you are guilty of yourself.

You completely ignore Scottish expenditure while gleefully pronouncing Scotland would be in a 8 billion black hole.

Yet you seem to identify failings in others while purposely ignoring the failings of your own position.

Kevin Hague said...

Douglas - that is quite a bizarre comment.

Mark said...

I can't believe you are just realising this. All statements about the future (whether by Nats or Yoons) are necessarily contingent, and hence are designed to influence the future rather than describe it. Logic 101. Anyhow, I appreciate the entertainment.

Anonymous said...

As a whole, the article is a disingenuous series of unsupported accustaory statements and inaccurate information.

The first point that needs addressing is that less than 1/20th of those seeking a second referendum are in fact SNP members. A great many of the rest are to all intents and purposes voters who wish a second referendum as soon as possible using the continuing momentum of the independence movement reflected in the crushing defeat of the unionist parties in the GE and the likely crushing of the same come the Holyrood elections next year.

Much of the clarion call for the second referendum has been generated by the antics of the current UK Govt in Westminster and the very clear pro-British MSM - both through dishonest outputs, lack of balance and certainly no evident fairness. (This in particular was an outstanding deceit on your part - claiming the media didn't highlight SNP failures enough) There has also been an awareness amongst independence minded voters that the unionists in Scotland have actually been actively campaigning against an independent Scotland, and are prepared to spread any lie or deceit to portray their country and fellow countrymen in a negative light.

All in all, the fixation and sour grapes of unionists is simply pouring accelerant on a roaring inferno. It has little to do with the SNP. In fact a lot of the SNP success is built on the pisspoor performance of the opposition parties, all of whom are London centric first and foremost.

Anonymous said...

All Yes voters who can read should read Edward Bernays' 'Propaganda'. Maybe then they will realise that the SNP have taken them for absolute schmucks.

David GREEN said...

A brilliantly succinct analysis of the SNP's approach. Unfortunately, it coincides with the delivery of as near a one-party state as you are likely to see in a modern democracy, or at least one close to home. Anyone looking at Europe would see the same sort of approach in Hungary, and possibly Poland. A neuralgic grievance machine operates in both, although with more reason in Poland (against Germany) than Hungary. One would have thought that your straightforward analysis of detriment to Scotland on losing the Barnett cross-subsidy in the absence of oil revenues would have killed FFA or independence stone dead. So one question is why is the Scottish independence movement an example of the living dead? The answer, to my mind, is an inevitable consequence of the lags inherent in the political response time of the electorate.

Arguably, in international law, the oil in UK waters was always UK oil, and the Westminster government of the time was at liberty to spend the net revenues acquired as it saw fit. But accept, for argument, that Scotland had a moral claim on the revenues from oil in "its" waters. As I understand it, the phrase "It's our oil" started with Winnie Ewing. The Scottish electorate at the time (now all but dead) saw little interest in supporting her, but support for the idea did gradually grow, and with it the Independence movement that was going to secure the transfer politically. This gradual swelling reached its apogee in the past few years, but it coincides, as luck would have it, with a technological development - fracking - that has destroyed the economics of extraction of North Sea oil, possibly for ever. Sadly, for the SNP and Scotland, it may now take another 30 years for the independence swelling to go down. If Quebec is anything to go by, it may never disappear entirely, but the majority for staying in the Union will slowly get bigger and consolidate. If this long-term prognosis is correct, and represents the best outcome for Scotland, then Scotland is currently living through a dangerous period in which long-term interests are at odds with short-term SNP rhetoric, and the latter might win. I think the danger is already less than it was at referendum time, because, as people like Kerevan know, independence and FFA are currently the political equivalent of a suicide belt. Long may that remain. Swinney's latest budget is a Tory budget in its commitment to austerity, and it is only going to get worse as fiscal reality is exercised by the SNP. It illustrates the problems of a small jurisdiction of 5 million butting up against one that is 10 times its size, and one from which it gets large transfer payments.

Bob said...

NLP is one thing, but there's also Orwellian double speak.

Recently Nicola said " no politician can tell the Scottish people when to hold a referendum" when excatly the opposite is the case. Only a politician can tell the Scottish people when to hold a referendum but for all the reasons above this sound bite is to keep the brainwashed nodding in agreement and on board whilst doing absolutely nothing about it.

Bar Wil said...

What are you on about wrt ignoring Scottish expenditure? Do you have some figures you wish to share here?

Kevin Hague said...

I'm not "just realising this" - I'm using it as a hook to hang a blog on

Anonymous said...

It may or may not be significant that when I spoke to someone in the SNP about whether they would still support independence if they thought Scotland would be considerably worse off, he said "yes, because Scotland is a country". Which is all well and good, but as you say, there are an awful lot of people who back independence because they've bought into the idea that the only reason there is poverty in Scotland is those evil nasty Tories down in London, and fixing deprivation in Glasgow and Dundee will be easy once we're not paying for Trident and Syria. And I can't help worrying what sort of country we will find ourselves living in when that turns out to not to be the case. As Ken Macleod put it, independence is a recipe for a "carnival of reaction, north and south of the border"

(Actually, I sort of am prepared to believe that Nicola Sturgeon, in contrast with her predecessor, would not want independence to happen if she thought it was going to result in economic disaster, though she can't afford to be open about her thinking on the matter.)

Full disclosure: I'm British not Scottish or English. I don't feel there is anything that connects me, in Edinburgh, with Aberdeen but not Newcastle, and Inverness but not Carlisle. It's all one country to me. And I suppose that on some level that might be subconsciously influencing my own attitudes towards the whole question.

Angela McIntosh said...

What are your figures and sources please for, ' a great many of the rest' ?

Anonymous said...

David makes a good point about Hungary and whilst they maybe on different sides of the political spectrum there are many parallels between the Fidesz 'propaganda' machine and the SNP... a sense of grievance is essential to both of these parties (just ask any Hungarian about Trianon) and both parties rely on a slick youthful media operation where rhetoric has no basis in the real world or actual facts.

To outsiders both these parties look absolutely nuts but what they have managed to do, with great success, is conflate support for a political party with a sense of patriotism, so that the party becomes the state and if your not with us then you are against Scotland/Hungary. With no effective opposition in either country I do not see any great change anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

Who exactly are 'those seeking a second referendum? Sturgeon explicitly stated that the GE was not about a second referendum so you cannot claim those figures.

Anonymous said...

Typical duplicitous reply from a cybernat.

The proportion of yessers who are actual members of the SNP may be low but the vast majority of them are SNP supporters who ignore the facts and want to be independent just to get it up 'Westmonster'.

Face it, you lost the only vote that really matters and no amount of SNP MPs or MSPs will lead to another referendum in our lifetimes no matter what age you are.

Bar Wil said...

Let's also remember the latest SNP tactic, heard at various times when their MP's or MSP's are getting questioned on their many failures/ lies, to criticise the SNP is now apparently 'talking Scotland down'. They are deliberately trying to equate any criticism of their party as criticism of Scotland.

Edwin Moore said...

Kevin: 'Of course all political parties use carefully chosen language to try and programme the electorate to their way of thinking; we live in an age of endlessly repeated soundbites, of pithy phrases designed to penetrate the consciousness of the short attention-spanned. But what sets the SNP (the SNLP?) apart is the sheer audacity with which they're willing to relentlessly repeat not just partial truths but demonstrable falsehoods.’

Indeed. In today's Observer Nicola Sturgeon says of Charles Kennedy -

"Charlie was one of those people that was genuinely liked across the entire political spectrum.”

It’s the kind of thing politicians say about other policians once they have died, with varying degrees of sincerity. But in the case of Kennedy, he suffered massive abuse from SNP members and supporters that deeply affected him. For the leader of the SNP to say 'genuinely liked across the entire political spectrum.” is breathtaking in its audacity.

bucksboy said...

"There has also been an awareness"

The word you are looking for is paranoia.

Ed Wynn said...

I agree with your analysis. The amusing thing about all of this is that it has become an argument where only one side is active. The Nats believe, in a cultish way, that Scotland would be better off irrespective of the few laudable efforts by some such as yourself to refute this. There is actually no National Level systematic refutation of the Nat delusional position because there is not referendum in the offing.

The reality is if a real legislated referendum came along many, if not most of the population, would pay a lot of attention. Then the economic arguments come to the fore. Having published a detailed Yes prospectus last time which turned out to be in a large part bollocks their peg in the sand is a fundamentally weak position. (Ignoring the SNP performance in office as an entirely separate developing weakness).

What will be fascinating is if we get BREXIT, will there be Indyref II? If so, the EU membership, currency issue will also be very difficult for the SNP to deal with on top of the economics.

BTW I have enjoyed your work all year - Seasons Greetings

Anonymous said...

Great read. I think this study (below) would be of interest and complements this article nicely;

http://phys.org/news/2015-05-political-myths-entrench.html

Merry Christmas

Savagehenry said...


#I am so disappointed. All the hype of people lampooning the article made me think there would be more to it than there was. Nothing new and, of course, if people don't agree with you they are deluded. We all believe it and the only weakness of the article doing so is that the SNP do not control any mainstream media and all but one source (Sunday Herald) opposes the independence movement and even it runs its fair share of critical articles against the SNP. So all the mechanisms of translating key messages and affirmations etc are in the hands of those opposed.
Also, plenty of people are in favour of independence on a point of principle, being responsible for a future not driven by an antiquated elitist groundhog day of inequality and hopelessness

Kevin Hague said...

It's almost as if you read comments from people who reacted without reading the article - good for you to take the time to read.

At no point do I suggest or even imply that Yes voters are "deluded" - this is classic straw-man argument.

It's interesting that the examples I give of SNP propagated half-truths and falsehoods haven't been rebutted by those dismissing this blog.

Anonymous said...

And they never will, because that would mean judging what they believe, rather then just believing.

Anonymous said...

If the SNP are indeed running a skilfully constructed propaganda and misinformation machine, then to have first created such a thing and then used it so effectively, surely means it had to be put together by someone who had experience and who knew exactly what they were doing, long before the SNP came to power. So has anyone got any idea who this person or persons are? Because I do not think the SNP hierarchy as they currently stand, have the either the wit or the mental wherewithal to do this without considerable help.

We may never find out who it is of course, but it would be nice if it was brought out into the light and known by everyone, although (and I am saying this in a whispered voice) I have heard rumours that there could be an Irish connection - so perhaps I have just answered my own question.

Here is a paragraph from a certain Green Book in the 50's, see if it rings any bells for you: "All the means of winning the confidence of the people must be utilised, the ideas of the movement must be so popularised that no one is in doubt, least of all the enemy that we will win eventually."

Scary stuff

Max Bennie said...

"all but one source (Sunday Herald) opposes the independence movement and even it runs its fair share of critical articles against the SNP"

What does that tell you then, Henry? When only one news outlet is willing to support the agenda.

Anonymous said...

Another excellent blog Kevin. I have been reading your work since the ref days and feel your contribution(s) are gaining in significance as we enter the murky world of SNP governance. Not withstanding your analysis of NLP, might I add a different but related concept. I have sensed the steady construction of a type of hegemonic populism, where by any criticism of the SNP can be neatly deflected because it is the out-pouring of a 'unionist'! No matter the veracity or accuracy of any argument, if it comes from 'unionism' it can be dismissed...in an instant.

This is a dangerous development in Scottish political life. The state of Israel have successfully constructed hegemonic populism within the political discourse of its borders, to the point where no breach of human or civil rights.....no atrocity commited by their state can be criticised, far less stopped.....because this state of mind recasts any criticism of Israeli policy to a defalt assumption that those who dare to argue are 'anti semmitic'.

I my lifetime, 'Unionist' was an Ulster thing, not Scottish, but now I worry that Scotland is sliding towards a quasi-sectarian divide between Unionist and Nationalist, where the politics of 'balls-out nationalism' (on both sides) drowns out all else with a binary oposition of symbols, flags and hatefilled jargon. I doubt anyone needs reminding what has been happening across the Irish Sea for the past few decades...(our closest cultural cousins). I sincerely hope it would never get close to the worst excesses of the 70's and 80's in the province, but I do sense the entrenching of positions on both sides, with the SNP curiously happy to oversee this development, why not? They have been submerged in grudge and grievance for decades, why not socialise the next generation with their insular small nation nationalism?

Sheumais said...

"Another windfall"

You mean other than the imaginary Whisky Export Tax, supposedly worth £10bn per annum?

Anonymous said...

Responding to Anonymous above, who wrote:
"If the SNP are indeed running a skilfully constructed propaganda and misinformation machine, then to have first created such a thing and then used it so effectively, surely means it had to be put together by someone who had experience and who knew exactly what they were doing, long before the SNP came to power.""

I disagree. The SNP blundered into the discovery that half the population of Scotland wanted to be fed ego-inflating bullshit, and they were never going to critically examine the things they were being told. That is all.

rocoham said...

I'm not sure that there isn't an even deeper NLP trick at work - namely that by endlessly repeating the word "independence", the SNP has succeeded in persuading people on both sides of the debate that such a thing exists at all. In today's interconnected world independence is arguably a complete illusion, and the referendum was really about political and economic separation from rUK rather than the "independence" in its question. But then, "independence" taps into some fairly strong and primal emotions...

Anonymous said...

I can go back to the days of the Brown Shirts in Germany in the 1930's. There is this element in the more active SNP people. It is of course dismissed by the top brass of that party but it is nevertheless there. This is something frightening and completely foreign to the Scotland I grew up in and to be deplored and guarded against. To me the growth (due to their excellent propaganda machine) of this party is the worst thing that has happened to Scotland in the past 300 years. Think of the w3ay Jim Murphy and many dissenters were bullied during the Referendum.

Wildgoose said...

From my English perspective, every argument I see for why Scotland is better off in the Union is an argument for why England is better off out.

We are no longer a single people with a shared polity going forward into the future together.

The Labour Party successfully branded the Conservative Party as "English Tories" and made "English" a term of abuse. The Liberal Democrats said nothing and the SNP joined in.

The poisonous hatred towards the English has resulted in decisions being made not because they are the right ones, but rather because they "rub the English nose in it", (e.g. mass uncontrolled immigration).

It's not just financial transfers, it is also decisions such as closing down English shipyards in order to keep Scottish ones open. The English are the abused partner in an abusive relationship long past its sell-by date, and the sooner Scotland gets its Independence the happier large numbers of people down here in England will be.

Roll on the Second Referendum!

Papko said...

In one sense it saddens me , to see Scotland so polarized , and then I recall , part of the reason I left Scotland years ago , was the "what team do you support ? " mentality . the eternal struggle between Green and Blue ;-), with neither side giving an inch , no matter what .

The SNP have had an amazing rise , a large part of which can be attributed to the incompetence of their opposition , and a larger part to constant optimistic message , which has been so snappily phrased .

"Hope over Fear " (my favorite ), "Scotland's voice at Westminster " (Does anyone believe that "Scotland" had no representation in 300 odd years , or this "very efficient SNP Govt " , Like did we have Schools , Roads and Hospitals here prior to 2007 ?

the point is , people want to believe this , they want to be lulled , and convinced , it may feed on some sense of grievance , or inferiority , but that is very small , its nationalism , mixed with an idealistic vision , that is so compelling , .......it cant be explained ,or argued against .

the SNP are not the first party to use these arguments , they are as old as history ,

the penny hasn't dropped with them yet , though the "Tory " budget and tax rates of last week should give you a clue ," poverty " and "inequality" are such pressing issues here , that we were going to dismantle the UK for them , but now that we have a chance to "do things different " , we are not going to give " a Penny for Scotland "


effectively conceding all the ground on the economic case for indy or FFA , so whats left , ? patriotism , you would have to be a zealot , (or sincere lover of your country come what may " , to want indy , fo indys sake , bereft of any "special country " guff .







David GREEN said...

As we approach the end of 2015, it is perhaps not surprising that a number respected commentators have reflected on the fate of the Brent crude oil price over the year. And some, including the IMF and OPEC have looked forward, as far as 2040 in one case. It is clear that the broad consensus in mid-2015 was that the oil price would rebound to around US$60 a barrel by year's end. Instead, as we know, it has slumped to about US$37 and a further long decline is expected, especially as Iran is now expected to add to the over-supply problem that is driving prices down. I am interested in mapping these events onto SNP strategy. In mid-year, I am sure the SNP was looking forward to proving the doomsayers wrong on oil. Armed with a moderately strong oil price, they could try and stare Cameron and Osborne down in the Treasury negotiations over devolution, and Swinney could threaten not to pass the Scotland Bill at Holyrood if he wasn't bought off enough. That upset would then feed neatly into the grievance machine, and give the so-called inevitability of Scottish independence another push. Instead, the SNP is facing years of almost non-existent oil revenues. And at that, the economics of an independent Scotland go from merely eye-watering to something approaching those of a failed state. So, I expect it slowly to dawn on the majority of Scots that Scotland is a welfare beneficiary, courtesy of rUK, and mainly the English. I don't it expect it to look pretty. Perhaps counter-intuitively, I expect petty grievances to rise. No-one with any dignity really likes being on welfare, but in this case, it comes with Trident and other baggage. Independence/FFA has become a suicide belt.

Meanwhile, Ed Miliband's legacy to UK politics is the stand-off between Corbyn and the Corbynistas on the one hand, and the vast majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party on the other. Serious commentators who are sympathetic to the centre-left, such as Steve Richards, see little prospect of a Labour Government before 2030, if then. Since Sturgeon is acquiring sainthood in Scotland worthy of Joan of Arc, I have some advice for her. Be realistic, cut the independence crap, and cut a deal with Cameron. Get some Westminster SNP MPs into cabinet. Otherwise the stand-off will go on for decades, to no-one's benefit.

rocoham said...

David, interesting thoughts. I'm not sure about your final suggestion, however. Cameron's hand has been immeasurably strengthened by Labour splitting itself apart with Corbyn's election, and the complete disappearance of the Labour vote in Scotland into the hands of the SNP. His motivation for doing a deal would only be to get the SNP to compromise its pro-EU stance (and tbh I'm not sure he really wants to do that anyway), otherwise the political usefulness of the SNP to him is almost non-existent. Unless the landscape changes, the SNP are not power-brokers in any sense, and an offer of a Cabinet post would only look as if they had some meaningful degree of influence or credibility which in Westminster they do not. If anything, I suggest that Cameron would only have to whisper FFA tomorrow and Sturgeon would quietly and rapidly slide away. All that said, I agree that the best thing Sturgeon could do for Scotland is to declare a moratorium on any further independence referenda for at least a decade.

PS Scotland is a welfare beneficiary, courtesy mainly of London, which massively subsidises the whole of rUK. Scotland simply does better than most because of Barnett.

Alastair McIntyre said...

I'd like to see some vision in Scotland on how we might do better. I read with great interest the Finland experiment where they are looking to legislate a trial of a new welfare system. In effect they are looking to see if they could pay all people in Finland, unemployed and employed, a living wage. Any money earned after that would be taxed at a much higher rate.

I'd be very interested to see if we could come up with figures to see what might be possible if we did this in Scotland.

Imagine if every person received sufficient earnings to have a roof over their head, enough to pay for utilities and a decent food bill, free health care, free basic transportation, even a cheap car, also a TV, computer and Internet access and even a wee bit extra to purchase the odd luxury.

What might that cost? Then what would we save as we'd no longer need the people to pay our welfare payments or run entitlement surveys, etc.

Then what rate of tax would we then need to charge to pay for all that?

Also... as in Finland we'd need to figure out if people would actually want to work to earn extra. Like as we are paying everyone a decent basic income would they actually be willing to work? Might we then insist that where you are not employed then you would need to put in minimum hours for service to your country in line with the skills you may have?

Anyone willing to do some figures on this to see if it would be possible?

granscot47 said...

I am so glad of this blog and the sense it makes as I seem to be surrounded by SNP supporters who don't understand how it's possible to disagree with them. They genuinely don't get it and it seems to me that that may be because the media in Scotland appear to be 'scared' to criticise the current administration. That's terrifying and far from showing the much lauded sophistication of the Scottish electorate actually shows a tendency to follow like sheep- they did it with Labour for years and now it's the Nats.
The other issue is the relentless optimistic spin that the SNP indulge in. I heard an interview with Sturgeon about the record in office re education and health and she actually said that they did not want to rest on their laurels. What laurels would those be? Any suggestions?

David GREEN said...

To rocoham: my suggestion was half serious, half in jest.The serious part stems from experience of New Zealand politics. The parallels are close but not identical. New Zealand has an indigenous Mäori population that is culturally conservative, but, for the most part, poor. For decades, it supported Labour. But with the arrival of proportional representation, and the collapse of the Labour vote over a decade ago, it made sense for Mäori to consider teaming up with the centre-right party (= National, in New Zealand). After the initial shock, and cries of "selling out", Mäori have done much better by going into Government with National. It has given them real Cabinet representation, and a stronger voice on Mäori interests. Why does National go along with it? Partly the numbers, because proportional representation reduces absolute majorities and favours alliances. But also, because it builds good consensual politics in which more people win. It is not perfect but better, currently, than the alternatives. It is also arguably better for race relations. My serious point, as stated previously, was that it would be better for Scotland if Sturgeon cut the independence crap, and started thinking constructively. The rUK will not be going for a Labour/SNP alliance any time soon, and the Conservatives are going to hold the reins for some time to come. What made sense before Christmas would even more so now, with the pulverisation of the Scottish economy well under way. Rocoham rightly points to Conservative reluctance to team up with the SNP, particularly when there is no absolute need. But a Conservative leader with foresight might be interested. If Sturgeon shut up about independence and Trident, and agreed to stop winding up rUK, the bargain, whereby she gained an SNP Secretary of State for Scotland and a voice in the UK cabinet, might just be worth it from the rUK point-of-view. Of course, merely to state the case exposes its weakness. This is not surrendering cherished policy, which any strong SNP leader could do, but with having a Scottish First Minister beholden to an SNP Secretary of State. That is not something Sturgeon would ever allow for herself, unless she were that Secretary of State. Not impossible, but unlikely.

David GREEN said...

Sturgeon seems to be the victim of her own neuro-linguistic programming. As the oil price drifts ever lower, and lay-offs start to bite, she seems both stupid and savvy at the same time. Stupid, because the economic case for Scottish independence would produce a failed state overnight. Yet she persists in fanning the embers of independence every time they appear to be dying a death. Savvy, because she, and her party, know that to admit the case for independence is built on sand would erode support. So her debate about independence becomes one about local decision making; it is better for Scotland to have control over its decisions. Her arguments are jejeune and intellectually shallow. Of course it makes sense for local communities to make decisions about new community halls and traffic roundabouts. But it makes no sense for communities to decide, as an entity, how individuals should allocate their weekly budget, or other economic decisions they make. Nor is it remotely realistic for a small country to operate in an international vacuum. Issues such as currency, trade agreements, defence, etc. have to be made with an eye to the interests of other nation states, and joint action nearly always requires some surrender of sovereignty, particularly if you are a small state. Currently, the SNP position is that it wants to overthrow its association with rUK, but peddles an entirely false picture of its future with an rUK that is economically 10 times larger and with which it shares a common border. It proposes using the rUK pound, but having no influence on rUK fiscal settings. The Scottish thirst for high Government expenditure means its independent economy would be in trouble from day one. The alternative is a future in which Scotland tries to become a new member of an economic entity that is about 70 times the size of the Scottish economy. And all the time, playing a teasing game on NATO and mutual defence. The neuro-linguistic programming that you discuss is clearly poisoning the ability of the Scots, taken as a whole, to undertake critical examination of the screwy policies of the SNP. It would be in bad taste to point out some of the other examples of political neuro-linguistic programming that have proved disastrous over the past century, but anyone with a knowledge of European history should have no difficulty in identifying them.

Ed Wynn said...

I have come back to this dialogue after watching (cough trolling) the comments. I think a new context is arising which is going to effect the SNP NLP of the Scottish population in the medium term. This context is the implosion of the Labour party at the UK level. The Marr interview etc, boundary changes and the polls suggest not only is GE2020 likely to return a strong Tory government but getting them out in GE2025 may be challenging. In this context the SNP faces a Tory government in SGE2021 and possibly 2026. In terms of keeping the Indyref2 hopes alive for their supporters for the next 10-15 years will be impossible. In addition the grievance mantra will wear very thin. Taking a long view I believe the NLP programming currently in place, hope of Indyref2 and Westminster victimisation, will lose effectiveness. People will start to see if the powers of the Scot Gov have been used for their personal betterment. At some point drift away will occur which may accelerate. Scotland may get a 'kick the buggers out' election Sadly I am not convinced at all that the SNP leadership are really up to the job of leading a nation sufficiently well to create a new NLP view of competent government for the people.