Trumpton

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From Fred Goodwin to another of Alex Salmond’s former pals – he knows how to pick ’em – I found this interesting article from last year on the Guardian website (which, granted you would expect to run an anti-Trump story), about the Donald’s golf course and related development in Alex’s constituency.  It’s interesting that Salmond, who would like to see Scotland divorced from the rest of the UK (and hence the end of the UK itself), supported the UK supreme court’s decision to reject Trump’s opposition to a local wind farm.  It should also be evident that Trump will only play on his Scottish roots when it benefits his business empire and if that means running roughshod over local people then so be it.  Trump is a ruthless businessman above all else and if he weren’t, he wouldn’t be the billionaire that he is.  Any British people who think that his jumping on the ‘Brexit’ bandwagon was for anything more than short-term electoral gain should think again.  None of us should expect any favours from President Trump.  He may not put the UK to the back of the queue for trade deals, but no British person, most of all those of us who voted for the UK to leave the EU, should be under any illusions that the incoming Trump Administration will pander to the so-called ‘special relationship’ (a British invention that few Americans will ever have heard of, let alone care about).

Trump successfully marketed himself as a ‘man of the people’ knowing that his principal opponent was backed by the evil triumvirate of George Soros, Goldman Sachs and the Saudi monarchy.  Trump is, like Bill Clinton, allegedly a sexual predator, but the problem with any ‘revelations’ during the election campaign about his character is that they were nothing new, which is why they bounced off him.  In trying to find out more about his links to the Clintons, earlier this year I purchased a copy of the March 1990 edition of Playboy to read the interview with him (pp 55 – 72, excluding ads).  Unfortunately, the article doesn’t really reveal much except the size of Trump’s ego and his belief that countries which have US military bases should pay for them, his view being that the USA was ‘being ripped off so badly by our so-called allies; ie Japan, West Germany, Saudi Arabia, South Korea etc’.  Trump believed that if he ever ran for office he’d do better as a Democrat than as a Republican and when asked by Playboy, ‘What’s the first thing President Trump would do upon entering the Oval Office?’, he replied that he’d ‘throw a tax on every Mercedes-Benz rolling into the country and on all Japanese products, and we’d have wonderful allies again’.  Although he was most scathing towards Japan, he didn’t show any empathy for his German roots on his father’s side.

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I can empathise with Americans who feel that they were left with trying to decide between the lesser of two evils in the election.  At least Americans have the right to elect their head of state, which is more than British people have ever had; and they fought Britain for that right.  So we Britons have no right to lecture them on whom they should choose.  From this side of the Atlantic pond it looks like the decision to vote was less for Trump or Clinton then a preference of which one not to vote for.  I’ll admit that I did not expect Trump to win because I thought that he had alienated too many people; and no-one who represents either Republicans or Democrats can claim to be ‘anti-establishment’.  Trump won I guess because he is willing to talk bluntly, even if he causes offence.  Now that he has been elected, he can follow the tradition of all elected heads of government in ditching a lot of his election promises (including the wall across the border with Mexico).  I am not a fan of Trump, I don’t believe for one moment that he has any moral scruples about employing cheap disposable migrant labour, from Mexico or elsewhere; and I have never understood the obsession which many Americans have with gun ownership, other than it seems to be driven by paranoia.  But then I am not a fan of the Clintons either; and it is precisely because the couple come as a package deal that Hillary alienated so many female voters so it seems; that and her belief that women should vote for her solely because of her gender, as if she were a ‘self-made’ career woman, which she isn’t.  Add to that, the pair of them are mired in corruption.  Anyway, it looks like the riots which have taken place in Trumptonshire against his election will only play into the Donald’s hands.  We can look forward to the official presidential residence becoming the Trump House (with a Trump Hotel and Trump Casino?)

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From Darien to Gogarburn

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To kick off this blog properly I thought I’d try a review of sorts of Iain Martin’s superb book Making It Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the Men Who Blew up the British Economy.  The author, the bank and the principal villains in the story are all Scottish, including former Labour MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, who agreed, eight years ago, that all UK taxpayers should have to bail out the huge amount of debt accrued by Fred The Shred and his pals at Gogarburn.  Martin sets the scene by recounting the Darien scheme, which led directly the Act of Union and the creation of Royal Bank of Scotland, as an example of how the Scottish reputation for fiscal prudence has always been tempered by recklessness.  Scotland’s First Minister and former RBS employee Alex Salmond urged Goodwin that RBS should take over Dutch bank ABN Amro – an event that was to lead to RBS’ collapse – ‘for Scotland’.  If only it had been, then the rest of us wouldn’t have been left picking up the tab.  It was Salmond, without any reference to the bail out of RBS, who suggested that an ‘independent’ Scotland should walk away from the UK’s national debt.  But I shan’t ruin a good story for you; if you don’t wish to purchase the book I’d recommend doing an RBS: borrow it or let someone else pay.

Related to the above, another book recommendation is an older one: Britons: Forging the Nation 1707 – 1837, by Linda Colley; originally published by Yale University Press in 1992, with the first British edition by Pimlico Press in 1994.  In her Conclusions, pp 374-5, Colley states: The Scots, in particular, who became British after 1707 in part because it paid such enormous commercial and imperial dividends, are now increasingly inclined to see partial or complete independence plus membership of a federal Europe as the most profitable strategy for the future.  ‘Federal Europe’ propaganda was quite commonplace in 1992 and based on the assumption that small nations such as Scotland could have some influence in how it was run; but what we have had for the past 24 years is an increasingly centralised superstate in which small nations have had diminishing levels of influence.  Britishness, as Colley tells it, pp 117-132, ‘A Scottish Empire’, was formed by the intermarriage of the Scottish and English landed gentries (our recently departed Prime Minister David Cameron being an English offspring of one such family); as well as the partnership of the English and Scottish political and mercantile classes, with these Scots enjoying a disproportionately high level of influence in running both the United Kingdom and the British Empire.  Some Scots – those of SNP inclinations – are suffering delusions of grandeur if they think that they will ever have that level of influence in running the European Union.

The above all has a bearing on Scotland’s status within the UK, hence the future of the UK itself.  The electorate of Scotland need to decide between the UK, EU or genuine independence and if the last of these options, how they could afford it.  As it is, in the context of the limited sovereignty that the UK has within the EU, the electorate of Scotland have a greater degree of devolved home rule than those of Wales, Northern Ireland and suffice to say England, which has none.  Scottish separation from the UK could and should mean that the subsidy which Scotland receives via the Barnett Formula be redirected towards the economically depressed post-industrial areas of the North and Midlands of England; the ‘Brexit’ heartlands, whose electorates are subject to the condescension of the worse-than-useless Labour Party.  With Nicola Sturgeon ‘threatening’ another ‘indyref’, the electorate of the rest of the UK must insist that Scotland inherit all of the debt bequeathed by Royal Bank of Scotland, if Scotland is to separate from the rest of the UK.  Whilst the SNP’s oxymoronic policy of ‘independence within the EU’, ie subservience to a centralised authoritarian superstate based in Brussels, looks ludicrous on the surface, perhaps the SNP’s tactic is that Royal Bank of Scotland’s debt should be socialised onto hundreds of millions of taxpayers in continental Europe, to let the Greeks, Spanish, Italians and Portuguese amongst others inherit the debt from one of the world’s biggest banking failures.