Some Scottish News & Views #102

Issue # 102                                                                     Week ending 28th August 2011

Some Scots Australian News
Comunn Gaidhlig Astrailia (CGA)  are holding their Sgoil-Earraich Nàiseanta (National Summer School) for 2011 from Friday 2nd - Sunday 4th September at the Australian National University in Canberra with accommodation at University House. The courses will be taught in the facilities at ANU's School of Music, thanks to the very kind assistance of Dr. Ruth Lee Martin.  Teachers will again include  Joan Mitchell, Ron McCoy, Seonaidh Rankin, Kristina Nicholson and Angus MacLeod.  Contact Rod McInnes at CGA on 04 0482 2314.

CGA have had a few start-ups with new courses and self help groups in recent months. The Institute of Celtic Studies (ICS), in conjunction with CGA will be commencing a beginners Gaelic course at their Newcastle, NSW premises. The course will be held from 2pm to 4pm on the fourth Saturday of each month from Saturday 28th August, 2011. The course will also be run in Sydney as two one hour sessions on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, from 6pm to 7pm. This session of the course started last Thursday 28th July, but there are still spaces available.  Contact Graham Aubrey at ICS on 02 4929 1912 or Rod McInnes at CGA on 04 0482 2314.  In Brisbane, the self-help group running from City Library is going strong under Diane Lingard's leadership.

Janet MacDonald, member and Convenor of the Royal National Mod, has told us that she will be in Sydney in November, hopefully we will catch up with what's happening with Gaelic in Scotland.

Coisir Ghaidhlig Astrailianach were very successful at the Blackheath Choir Festival on Sunday 28th August.. We arrived back in Sydney completely exhausted but highly elated after a full weekend,  mixing with other choirs - exchanging ideas - listening critically and in turn being critically assessed.  As far as Coisir Ghaidhlig was concerned the remarks we received on the Sunday were all very positive, although we sang better at a rehearsal/warm-up 30 minutes before hand.  Another lesson learned.  However we were asked back next year by the organisers, which was quite a compliment given the number of choirs that weren't accepted this year due to the large number registering.  A number of us equated the attitude of the audiences and the choirs themselves with the same friendly attitude found at any of the National and Provincial Mods in Scotland.  CGA will certainly be back next year.

Why the Outer Hebrides Is Exactly the Place to Send Those Looters and Rioters by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

I love Sally Bercow. There, I’ve said it. What is there not to love about a dame who will take no sugar from nobody?  My plan was to stay completely away from Big Brother this time but I know I’m going to rip up the pledge because of the pride of our alley.

She’s the wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons, who is a Tory MP. Not that she lets that wee detail stop her supporting, loudly and publicly, the Labour Party. She wants to be an MP herself too, a Labour one.  As if that wasn’t enough to give hubby John a red face, he tried to stop her going in and making an amadan of herself. If you don’t know what that fine Gaelic word means, just think of the MP George Galloway in a catsuit lapping up milk from bowl. That’s a complete amadan for you.

Did Sally do as her husband, famous for his ferocious tellings-off when MPs misbehave, cave in and do as he and other Tory bigwigs demanded? Did she heck. Which is why I now adore the lady. She doesn’t play by the rules of the rich and powerful.

You can see what’s going to happen. Although she’s on the wagon now after admitting she thought nothing of swigging back two bottles of plonk most days, she is always up for telling it as it is. While most of the other housemates will need a few vino collapsos to loosen their tongues, I think Sally will give us some jaw-dropping revelations without benefit of even a wee swally.  Well done to John B for trying to stop her. He never had a chance though.

Well done too to the man of words who got round the 10 Downing Street tosh filter and somehow managed to post a petition on its website calling for English rioters to be shipped to my homeland here in the Hebrides.

Deep thinker Richard Miller suggests that for five years, as an alternative to keeping them in clink where they are likely to come in contact with other Little Englanders who will corrupt them even further, they should instead be made to look after our Blackfaces and Cheviots.

Only in the sparkling jewels of the northern seas, where the islanders are on the straight and narrow - the descriptive term for the Pentland Road between Marybank in the east and Callanish and Carloway in the west - looters and common scallywags can be kept safe from the evil influences that have made them what they are.

This product of the English education system, the envy of the world but a long time ago, declares that your typical namby-pamby lowlife found in Tottenham, Croydon or Manchester would get such a fright existing without comforts like running water, electricity, decent food, culture and shopping that they would be too petrified to riot or loot ever again.

He’s spot on. How I long for the day when I can make myself a cuppa of Earl Grey without tramping six miles to the well. As for that electricity thingummyjig, I saw on telly that it’s going up in price so we certainly don’t want any of that sort of thing here in our unspoilt islands - unless we generate it ourselves - as the People’s Socialist Republic of Point are going to do out on the Straight and Narrow.

Decent food? Oh, for the day we had some of that here. Instead, we have to make do with a bit of locally-caught smoked salmon for breakfast, a rib-tickling rack of Lewis lamb for lunch and perhaps just a slab of Uig-reared venison for dindins - after a starter of a dod of black pudding and several plump, juicy, landed-that-day scallops, of course.

Eeh by gum, life is grim up north and then a bit further north. We make do but we lay awake at nights dreaming of tucking into a squish of jellified, slithery eels for our tea like those lucky Londoners. That’d be fab.

The culture vultures of Englandshire may have the West End for the theatres and playhouses where they can watch musicals by various Americans and Lloyd Webber but we get by. We have An Lanntair arts centre and Gaelic singer Iain Mackay. That’ll do us.

Mind you, they would see a difference in petrol prices. These rioters who robbed the filling stations down south could certainly come up and get a taste of their own medicines. Up here, it’s the filling stations that are robbing everybody.

Which reminds me that I noticed something very peculiar when I happened to be at my local Manor filling station the other day having a chinwag. Although the conversation was very interesting, as it always is when bewildered-looking Labour party come and tell me of their woes, it was also a good chance to do some people watching out of the corner of my eye.

Has anyone else noticed how men and women behave differently when they’re getting fuel. It was very obvious to me that there was a particular ritual that men do but which the fairer sex just don’t bother with. It was the same, time after time after time.

Maybe it’s because they are too tight to waste a drop of petrol because of the cost or, maybe, it’s because it’s triggered by some other habit.  

Look for this yourself next time your at the pumps. When they have finished filling up, gentlemen motorists invariably shake the nozzle.

Did You Know?
The "Did You Know?" section on Rampant Scotland is a miscellany of facts and information about Scotland ranging from the practical (such as population, climate and geography) to more unusual aspects (including the oldest bar in Glasgow, the tallest man in Scotland and the origins of Princes Street and Argyle Street). Some of the pages have been recently updated and some new ones added, including one on the Open Golf Championship and another on Nobel Prize winners born in Scotland.  You can test your own knowledge of Scotland and amaze your friends with your insight - or arrange a quiz using the information contained in these pages. See

Far-right Group March Plan Rejected

A march planned by a far-right group through the streets of Edinburgh has been rejected over fears for public safety.  Edinburgh City Council's licensing sub-committee turned down the application from the Scottish Defence League (SDL), which wanted to march on September 10. The council said the decision was taken unanimously.  Committee convener councillor Rob Munn said: "The council holds dear the values of freedom of speech, of the right to assemble and march, and we would go to great lengths to protect those rights. We have taken great care to consider all of the issues raised by council officials, Lothian and Borders Police, the SDL and by objectors. The decision was wholly based on the information available to us regarding the potential impact on public safety, public order and possible disruption to the life of the community."

Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Council (STUC), said: "The STUC welcome the decision of the regulatory committee to reject the application by the Scottish Defence League to spread their hatred on the streets of Edinburgh. This sends out a clear message that racism and fascism has no place in Scotland's towns and cities."  Aamer Anwar, a human rights lawyer and organiser of Scotland United, said: "We welcome the council's decision to ban the SDL march. Neo-Nazis masquerading under the flag of Scotland will never be welcome in our capital city. As the only place in the UK that has successfully stopped these thugs marching through our streets, we repeat our message: you are not welcome in Scotland.

New Scottish Studies Topic for All Pupils
All pupils will be expected to learn a new school topic of Scottish Studies, which explores the country’s history, literature, language and culture, a Government minister has said.  Dr Alasdair Allan, the SNP’s Minister for Learning and Skills, said he was “not interested” in creating a subject to which only some pupils had access.   He also revealed that Scottish Studies – first unveiled in the SNP’s 2011 election manifesto – would result in an externally marked exam in secondary school.  It is not yet clear whether that would be at Higher and Advanced Higher or at the lower level of National 4 and National 5, which replace Standard Grades.

The minister’s comments came on the eve of the publication of research into public attitudes towards Scottish Studies and the Gaelic language.  The research shows significant support for the new topic, with 90% of those surveyed backing its introduction.

Dr Allan said the research showed there was widespread support for the Governments plans, which he said would correct an “abnormal” situation where Scottish history and literature was not routinely taught.  “You would anticipate that there would be a wide variety of material about Scotland made available in Scottish schools, but it has to be said that, although things have been getting much better, many people’s experience is of learning not much about Scotland.  Although Scotland prides itself on its education system, there is an acknowledgment that where it has failed is in giving people basic information about their own country.  It is not normal or reasonable to have a situation where it depends on the enthusiasm of teachers whether pupils learn anything at all about Scottish literature or history – there is something abnormal about the situation that we have to normalise.”

Dr Allan said the development of the new subject, which will be taken forward by an expert group which he will chair, would ensure it was a mainstream subject and not an “add-on” available to only a few pupils.  “It is something that we would see as a stream throughout the curriculum in primary and secondary, and we want to see it continue through a pupil’s whole educational experience.  If it is valuable for a new generation of Scots to know something about their country, then it is something that has to feed through the entire journey through school.  We are not interested in a situation where only some young people get access to this. We would foresee a situation where all pupils learn that.”   Dr Allan denied that the subject was designed to promote nationalism.  “That view is becoming so silly. There is no evidence that parents view learning about Scottish history as indoctrination,” he said.  The content of Scottish history is not particularly political, and it will be taught in an impartial way. The idea that presenting facts about Scotland is indoctrination is not taken particularly seriously today.”

Survey Reveals Degree of Apathy Among Scots Towards Gaelic
Research published yesterday by the Scottish Government intimated “moderate support” for the language as 9% of the population were found to be against it and 38% held no opinion. However, ministers defended the role of Gaelic and pledged to push through with efforts to stabilise the number of speakers in the next decade.  Strong support in favour of Gaelic being made available as a subject taught in school was also registered, with 86% said to support the move.  Over half of Scots polled as part of the Government survey were in favour of the usage of Gaelic north of the Border.  However, almost two-fifths of respondents failed to offer an opinion, “suggesting a lack of engagement... among a sizeable segment of the population”.

Dr Alasdair Allan, the SNP’s Minister for Learning and Skills, said: “The survey shows 9% of people are hostile to the language. The survey does not show there is national hostility to Gaelic. Quite the reverse, it shows very strong support. It is fair to say there is a big section of the population who have had no contact with the language.  Perhaps that says something about the lack of opportunity to engage with the language in the past. Now we have a Gaelic television station people have developed a contact with the language so I’d expect to see things to change for the better.”

Sheriff Booed After Finding Israeli Flag Insult Student Guilty of Racism
A Sheriff was booed from the bench yesterday after finding a student accused of insulting the flag of Israel guilty of racism.  Paul Donnachie stuffed his hands down his trousers then rubbed them on the Star of David after accusing a Jewish student who had the flag of being a terrorist.  At Cupar Sheriff Court, Sheriff Charlie Macnair found Donnachie, 18, a history student at St Andrews University and a member of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign guilty of a racist breach of the peace. He said he was satisfied he had behaved the way he had towards Chanan Reitblat because Mr Reitblat was an Israeli citizen.  He said: "I consider your behaviour did evince malice towards Mr Reitblat because of his presumed membership of Israel. I'm satisfied you said Israel was a terrorist state and the flag was a terrorist symbol and I also hold that you said that Mr Reitblat was a terrorist."

Deferring sentence on Donnachie for background reports the sheriff said his actions towards the Israeli flag were "wholly uncalled for".  Members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who packed the public benches in the Fife courtroom, booed, tutted and shouted "scandalous" as Sheriff Macnair, rose to leave.  The case against a second student, Samuel Colchester, 20, was found not proven. Last night the university said Donnachie had been expelled and Mr Colchester suspended.

Let Us Prey: Churchman Fury at RSPB after Attack on His Flock
As a bird-lover, one of Scotland’s leading churchmen could have been expected to have been backing the ongoing battle to save the endangered sea eagle.   But after being terrorised by the country’s largest bird of prey, which killed one of his prize-winning geese and left him wounded, the Very Reverend Hunter Farquharson, Provost of Perth Cathedral, is not in the mood to turn the other cheek.  And it appears only the threat of prison for anyone harming the raptors, stopped the species becoming even rarer, after one of 16 young birds from Norway, which was released 10 days ago in Fife, attacked his own flock.  Mr Farquharson said if a dog had caused the damage, it would have been immediately destroyed, but anyone hurting a sea eagle could face prosecution.  He lives in a cottage at Abernethy, near Perth, and has been successfully breeding and showing Toulouse geese for a number of years as a hobby.

He saw a huge bird of prey sitting on top of a fence post but it flew away. However, it returned later and entered the goose shed where it attacked his champion gander.  Mr Farquharson went to open the door to chase the sea eagle away but it jumped on his back and attacked him, tearing his shirt and inflicting a four-inch wound just below his shoulder. There was also a cut to his head.  The eagle flew against the opposite shed wall and fell to the ground so Mr Farquharson was able to pin it down with wire fencing.  He phoned the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and told officials to collect the sea eagle. The Toulouse gander was rushed to the vet where its wounds were treated, but another goose could not be saved.

Mr Farquharson said there had been another attack two years ago. He added: “I lost quite a lot of my poultry that time. If this had been a dog that had attacked livestock or a person, it would have been destroyed.   But the RSPB has been quick to point out that these eagles are protected and that to harm them may result in a custodial sentence.”

A spokesman for RSPB Scotland said what had happened was regrettable and they would visit Mr Farquharson to ensure the safety of his birds. He added: “The sea eagles just introduced are young and naive birds.  There are a tiny number of incidents of this sort every now and again, but these birds will soon disperse as they grow in confidence and wish to explore the wider countryside. It is encouraging to note some of this year’s juveniles have been seen capturing wild prey on the Tay Estuary.  It is worth noting that when this first happened with Mr Farquharson in 2008 we visited his property and afterwards paid for the installation of heavy nylon netting affixed to fence posts driven into the ground so that the poultry pen and all Mr Farquharson’s birds were safe from predation.   When we visited again on Friday it was apparent that, for whatever reason, these measures were no longer present. Unfortunately, we had not been informed of this.  In our experience sea eagles will only defend themselves and attack humans if they feel cornered and threatened. It is of course unfortunate that the bird scratched Mr Farquharson, but we believe it was simply trying to escape and resist capture.”

The spokesman said that a thorough and exhaustive two-year consultation had been conducted, locally and nationally, before the reintroduction programme could proceed.

Mother Murdered After Having Abortion
A schoolboy and two friends who killed a young mother after she aborted his baby have been jailed for a total of more than 30 years.  Nattalie Muir, 21, was subjected to a frenzied attack in a street in Whitburn, West Lothian, last December.

The 15-year-old had sworn revenge on Miss Muir who had become pregnant by him and then had a termination before going back with a former boyfriend.  The teenager and 34-year-old George Stewart yesterday appeared at the High Court in Glasgow after admitting the culpable homicide of Miss Muir.  Emma Merrilees, 20 - who struck the fatal blow during the brutal assault - joined them in the dock after pleading guilty to a murder charge.  Lord Matthews said he was "sick" of the "mindless violence" involved in the incident.  The judge locked up the 15-year-old for six years and Stewart was jailed for eight years and five months.  Merrilees was handed a life sentence and ordered to serve a minimum 16 years before she can apply for parole.

The court earlier heard how Miss Muir had been in a relationship with the schoolboy over a four-month period until last October following a split from her long-term boyfriend Thomas Thyne.  Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC said: "She became pregnant and decided to terminate the pregnancy.  She then got back with Thomas Thyne and that annoyed the 15-year-old who pestered her with phone calls."  Mr Thyne also received a call from the teenager claiming he was "coming to get him".

The court was told that the boy - who had been drinking with his co-accused and another woman prior to the killing on 11 December - then spoke about going to Whitburn to "fight" Miss Muir.  A friend's car was then loaded with a spade and axe and Merrilees brought along a six-inch knife. Miss Muir and Mr Thyne were walking in the town's Brucefield Drive when a car pulled up beside them.  Mr Thyne was chased off before the young mum was repeatedly punched and Merrilees then struck her with the blade.  The trio sped off in the car and an injured Miss Muir was eventually discovered by a passer-by.  Lord Matthews said: "All of this because of a few stupid and badly chosen words on the telephone, the effect on you of drink and drugs and the incomprehensible decision by Merrilees to take a knife and use it."

Scots College in Cut-price Degree Plan
Students will be offered cut-price honours degrees in a radical initiative by a Scottish college. Under the scheme, believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland, students who take a two-year vocational Higher National Diploma (HND) qualification can upgrade to an honours degree after completing just one further year of study.

Degrees in Scotland usually take four years to complete, but the shorter courses have been made possible under partnerships with universities in England – where a degree takes just three years.  The courses are also cheaper because the cost of an HND is much lower than a degree course, so students only have to pay higher fees for the final year of their studies.  The initiative by Telford College, in Edinburgh, has been designed to attract students from England facing annual fees of up to £9000 for a three-year degree from next year.  The college also hopes to attract Scottish students who do not want to wait four years to complete a degree or who are struggling to find a college place.  The qualifications are also likely to lure overseas students who will graduate with a degree awarded by an English university at a fraction of the cost.

Miles Dibsdall, principal of Telford College, said the tie-up with the universities of Northumbria and Cumbria, would see courses developed in events and hospitality management, travel and tourism, creative industries and early learning.  The college hopes to expand to other subjects in future years, including engineering.  “Entry to courses will be based on demonstrated evidence of ability in the same way as for any reputable degree programme.”

Mr Dibsdall said the HND degree top-up courses would be phased in from January next year with a target of attracting 200 students. “Places will be available to self-funding candidates from both the UK and overseas at a significantly lower cost than the average £9000 a year in England,” he added.  If the initiative is a success, other Scottish colleges are expected to follow suit and some discussions are understood to be already taking place.  Universities have given a cautious welcome to the initiative on the grounds that it increases flexibility and could help to widen access.  Many Scottish colleges and universities already have partnerships that allow HND students into the second or third year of a university degree.

Scots 'Fish and Shipper' Floats Germans' Boat
Forget about booking a table at one of Edinburgh's top restaurants, and cancel those plans to venture north to a remote island eaterie.  Instead, discerning foodies in pursuit of the most "extraordinary" culinary experiences Scotland has to offer are being advised to ready their sea legs and head down the Clyde for a traditional dish served with a twist.

A Clydebank restaurant billed as the world's only "sail-thru" fish and chip shop is bracing itself for an influx of tourists after being filmed yesterday by a team of European documentary-makers.  Situated on a purpose-built boat, the Debra Rose, McMonagles is berthed permanently on the Forth and Clyde Canal in the West Dunbartonshire town.  Comprising an 80-seater restaurant and a takeaway section, the family-run business has become an unorthodox landmark in the west of Scotland, most famous for the hatch which allows it serve hungry sailors using the waterway.

Currently enjoying their 20th year of trading, those behind McMonagles received a heavily accented phone call three weeks ago ask about their unusual enterprise.  Proprietor John McMonagle said: "We get a lot of international tourists, and I like to tell them about the QE2 and the Queen Mary being built here, but to be honest I thought it was one of my pals who was at it."  The caller on the end of the line, however, was genuine. Tasked with finding unusual and exemplary exponents of affordable yet delectable food, Susan Bogner, a German TV producer, was searching for suitable filming locations, and stumbled across a website promoting the Clydebank institution by chance.  "The programme is all about finding amazing restaurants who do great fast food, and Britain is famous for fish and chips just like the US is for hamburgers and Germany for sausages," she explained. "I was looking for something different and just found McMonagles on Google.  "I called John and he couldn't understand me and I couldn't understand him, but somehow we got everything arranged and here we are. "

On Wednesday, she and her team filmed a day in the life of the floating chippie, and even had presenter, Harro Fuellgrabe, indoctrinated into the secrets of pickled onions and chip gravy. Ms Bogner's programme, The World's Most Extraordinary Restaurants, will be screened later this year on the satellite channel Pro Sieben, which airs in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.  Part of a series called Galileo, it is watched by three million viewers, and Mr McMonagle is preparing for a flurry of new custom.

His restaurant took up its berth at a time when civic authorities in and around Clydebank were taking the first tentative steps to regenerate the Forth and Clyde Canal, and the novelty of its premise did a great deal to attract people from the Greater Glasgow area to a waterway that had long lain in a sorry state.  Apart from the novelty, the secret of the restaurant's success, Mr McMonagle insists, is the food. "All our fish is fresh as can be and we will only cook to order," he explained. "People know they will have to wait for five minutes while we make their fish, but it's well worth it."

Too Much Scottish Business Tax Is Still Flying South
Britain's undeclared corporation tax war is hotting up. It will end with either the devolved administrations getting a welcome degree of control over business taxes, thereby ending the UK Treasury's metropolitan-centred fiscal policy.  Or the Treasury mandarins will continue to run the economy as if nothing mattered north of the Watford Gap.

Last week the Scottish Government published a discussion paper on giving Holyrood the power to cut taxes on local business profits and so grow the Scottish economy - a demand spelled out in the SNP's election manifesto. The loss of revenue to the UK Treasury would be compensated by a reduction in the block grant to Holyrood.  This plan mirrors a proposal to give the Northern Ireland Assembly powers to set corporation tax, a move backed by the coalition government at Westminster. In May, the Northern Ireland secretary of state, Tory MP Owen Paterson, told the Belfast Telegraph that devolving corporation tax would be "the economic equivalent of the peace process".

However, opposition to devolving corporation tax powers to the Celtic administrations is coming under renewed fire - I suspect from discrete Treasury briefings. For the Treasury remains doggedly resistant to any loss of central control over fiscal policy. Example: the Scotland Bill presently being enacted with great fanfare by the coalition will give Holyrood control over a scant 15 per cent of tax revenues raised in Scotland - it's more than 60 per cent in the German regional Lender.

Labour, for its own narrow reasons, is also backing continued central control of fiscal policy. The Labour administration in Wales, led by Carwyn Jones, has set its face against devolving corporation tax. Jones prefers to reform the Barnett block grant system, to give Cardiff a bigger annual lump sum. This approach is the economic equivalent of playing with a live grenade. In any reform of Barnett, you can expect the Treasury to take the opportunity to cut public spending across the board - not take from Scotland to give to Wales. Proof: the Treasury is already putting the squeeze on the Isle of Mann to take more of the island's VAT revenue.

Professor Arthur Midwinter, posting on the Labour activist blog LabourHame, attacks wholesale fiscal devolution, contrasting it unfavourably with "the UK fiscal system's focus on co-operation, equity and co-ordination." Midwinter ignores the fact that Scotland's perennial low economic growth over the last generation stems from the in-built, deflationary impact of high interest rates - set to counteract inflation in the English south-east - and the lack of any corresponding ability to offset this deflation through an expansionary Scottish fiscal policy.

Cutting corporation tax has also been queried by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), though it is supported by many Scottish entrepreneurs, including Sir Tom Hunter and Jim McColl. ICAS is worried that internal UK tax competition would reduce rates (and revenue) to levels insufficient to fund public services.

Bizarrely, ICAS - which trains accountants throughout the globe - seems blissfully unaware that such tax competition is the norm in most of the industrialised world and does not result in the dire outcomes it posits - because lower corporation tax tends to promote economic growth.  In social democratic Canada, the various provinces levy their own business tax in addition to the federal rate. Last year, the provincial rate for larger companies varied between 11.5 per cent in the North-West Territories and 16 per cent in Nova Scotia. Tax competition has not harmed the Canadian economy or its publically-funded health service.

The state corporation tax varies immensely across the US. Iowa's 12 per cent is the highest while Texas has a zero rate. Individual states maintain profits tax competitiveness even when geographically close - and without any fiscal "race to the bottom". In New England, Connecticut's 7.5 per cent rate is lower than Delaware's 8.7, though both are in competition for corporate headquarters. In the industrial Mid West, Indiana (8.5) and Illinois (7.3) contrast with Ohio (3.4).

This week, a Financial Times editorial weighed in on the side of the antis - a sign, perhaps, of a Treasury whispering campaign. Ostensibly, the FT is worried that letting the Celtic administrations lower corporation tax would have a detrimental effect on England, unless there was a separate English parliament to set rates there.  It concludes: "There may be a case for establishing an English parliament, but doing so to vary corporation tax is not the obvious one."

The FT is constructing a straw man. The central argument for devolved control over business taxation is that local economies within the UK vary tremendously, and so require tax regimes tailored to their individual needs. Cutting corporation tax in Scotland would not poach English firms, as most companies are generally specific to their local market conditions.  In fact, Scotland's problem is too few start-ups: in 2010 we had only 672 private firms per 10,000 adults, 25 per cent lower than for the UK. Holyrood would use control over corporation tax specifically to tailor tax breaks for new, indigenous small firms. However, there is a strong case for future co-ordination between the devolved (or even independent) tax jurisdictions with the British Isles, as takes place in the likes of Germany and Canada. This would build confidence in the proposed reforms and show the people of England that the demand for fiscal devolution is not predatory.

Destroyer Prepares to Leave Clyde
Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon sits in Clyde Docks whilst preparing to leave the Clyde for the final time  Dragon is the fourth of the Royal Navy's new Type 45 class of anti-air warfare destroyers.  The latest member of a fleet of hi-tech Navy warships is preparing to leave the Clyde for the final time before being officially handed over to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).   The Type 45 destroyer, Dragon, is the fourth ship of its kind built by BAE Systems on the River Clyde.  

She will leave the shipyard in Scotstoun, Glasgow and head to her new base in Portsmouth to be formally handed over to the MoD. HMS Dragon is one of six of the Navy's Type 45 destroyers, along with Daring, Dauntless, Diamond, Duncan and Defender.  The first, HMS Daring, was commissioned in July 2009, followed by HMS Dauntless in June last year. The third, HMS Diamond, was commissioned in Portsmouth in May.  All six warships are scheduled to be in service by the middle of the decade.

Defence Minister Says Range Makes ‘Valuable Contribution
This week, Defence Minister Peter Luff visited various facilities of the MoD Hebrides range on Benbecula, South Uist and St Kilda.  He said: “I’m glad I came to see the range with my own eyes to understand fully the complex work that’s done here – which makes a valuable contribution to defence, including recent operations in Libya.  It’s important that we invest and modernise the range to maintain its capability – and that task has already started with the upgrade of tracking systems on St Kilda which was completed this week.  I’ve been impressed by the dedicated skilled workforce, many of who are from the islands, and I was also able to thank the Hebrides Task Force for the crucial support they provide to defence.  I’m keen to explore ways to ensure our relationship with the local community continues to flourish.”