‘Scotland [SNP Government] Eyes ‘Digital World’ With 150,000 Jobs Boost’

© http://newspeep.us

I read that headline in online new tech mag Silicon yesterday and thought that it required few changes to make it more clearly good news – 150 000! Here’s the main content:

‘The Scottish Government says that it hopes to create 150,000 digital jobs by effectively creating the right conditions for this to happen. To this end, it will ensure that every premise in Scotland is able to access broadband speeds of at least 30Mbps by 2021.

But speedy Internet access is just one of its priorities. It also plans a new digital schools programme, as well as a new round of funding for community digital inclusion projects and an expansion of Scotland’s Digital Participation Charter.’

In addition a new Digital Growth Fund is to be introduced to massively increase the supply of trained workers’ This comes on top of the 2014 launch of a digital procurement initiative. This was designed to make it easier for small businesses to bid for public sector contracts.

http://www.silicon.co.uk/e-innovation/research/scotland-150000-jobs-207529

As Scotland’s renewable energy output surges, the SNP Government pushes on with a £10 million fund for local projects

© greenhighland.co.uk

In previous reports I’ve described a number of projects varying from the largest in the world to smaller local projects, all moving Scotland confidently toward not only reliable energy self-sufficiency but also massive over-production which we can export. See these examples:

Fighting Tory austerity again, the SNP Government steps in to help 100 000 small businesses, district heating schemes and small-scale hydro schemes.

 ‘The Biggest in the World!’ 270 tidal energy turbines to be installed to provide sustainable power to Scotland

Today, the Scottish Government has announced yet another fund for rural parts of Scotland to develop innovative local energy projects.

 The Minister for Business, Innovation said:

‘Our recently published draft Energy Strategy sets out our vision for 2050 for Scotland to have a modern, integrated energy system that delivers reliable, low carbon energy at affordable prices to consumers in all parts of Scotland. The low carbon and renewable energy sector has been a major driver of Scotland’s economy in recent years, supporting 43,500 jobs. Many of these are in rural areas, where we have developed expertise in solar, wave, offshore wind and tidal, as well as more established technologies such as hydro and onshore wind.’

http://news.gov.scot/news/support-for-low-carbon-rural-energy-innovations

This sort of good news seems endless these days. If you scroll down my blog you’ll see story after story on Scotland’s very optimistic future in energy production of all forms. All this and the debunking of the GERS figures make me wonder how critics can talk of a weak Scottish economy and keep a straight face. Give us the kind of control over our own affairs Denmark has and we’d soon outstrip them, in everything but pigs, with our greater natural resources.

Scotland’s regions have a higher GDP than most of Europe

Data extracted in March 2016. Most recent data:  Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: June 2017.

File:Gross domestic product (GDP) per inhabitant in purchasing power standard (PPS) in relation to the EU-28 average, by NUTS 2 regions, 2014 (¹) (% of the EU-28 average, EU-28 = 100) RYB2016.png

Only Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Iceland have significantly higher GDPs across the whole country, than Scotland. All of Eastern Europe, Southern Italy and Southern Spain have far weaker economies than Scotland while France and Finland are no stronger. Sweden is only slightly stronger across the piece. England, Ireland and Italy are horribly unequal with some regions as poor as Lithuania and one as poor as Bulgaria. Wales is clearly not better together with the UK. They’d be better off with Ireland. How many of them are not independent countries. How many of them are applying to join the UK?

http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/GDP_at_regional_level

 

Fascinating Propaganda Case Study: McCarthyite Anti-Semitism Smears and Racism at the Guardian/Observer

This is not specifically about Scotland but is a fascinating and very articulate account of how propaganda operates in our allegedly ‘quality press’. Try searching for ‘second Scottish referendum’ and see the flurry of venomous pieces lying about the supposedly ‘weak’ Scottish economy. The Guardian, you might remember, supported the Iraq invasions and the No campaign in the Scottish Independence Referendum 2014. I know they do allow one or two dissident voices such as George Monbiot who supported Scottish Indepedence but this, in the context of the wider agenda, can be see as no more than ‘repressive tolerance’ as Marx would have had it. I strongly recommend a full read.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/22/mccarthyite-anti-semitism-smears-and-racism-at-the-guardianobserver/

Is the UK Government’s Universal Credit scheme causing our poor to sink or swim? The Scottish Government calls for a halt to full service roll-out

Research carried out by the Social Market Foundation as far back as 2012, warned of the extreme dangers in rolling out Universal Credit without proper planning for transition and crucially in the midst of an economic crisis. Tellingly they titled the report ‘Sink or Swim?’ neatly catching the historical Tory ideological position on the poor that many of them are poor because of their own laziness or ineptitude rather than their circumstances, trapped in an environment from which escape is possible for only a few rare exceptions. Here’s the concluding statement:

‘The research finds that major changes are required if the system is to support rather than frustrate the stated aims of Government policy. The new Universal Credit system will go live from autumn 2013 following five years of economic stagnation and in the midst of the Government’s fiscal consolidation drive. The context into which Universal Credit is set to be launched could hardly be more sensitive. When the financial crisis and recession hit many households had insufficient savings set aside and were highly indebted. Low income households in particular were poorly placed to cope with the economic challenges. Ten million of those in low income households are in unsecured debt. In short, the resilience of low income households was low going into the economic crisis, and their vulnerability has only increased since then.’

Five years later, it is evident, in Scotland, that the payments system is causing real hardship where it has been rolled out in full. This requires claimants to have an online account and to wait six weeks for the first payment so those already in debt or with no savings end up with a build-up of debt including rent arrears before they receive any benefit. This traps them in the debt if they are to eat or to heat their homes. Travelling to a job interview, as the Tories would surely wish, also becomes more difficult. Here’s what the Scottish government Communities and Social Security Secretary had to say today:

‘It is clear that the system simply isn’t working and the UK Government is not prepared to make the necessary changes. The six week delay in receiving a payment – with longer delays for some being experienced – is a completely unacceptable situation and one which has the potential to push low income households into further hardship and homelessness. Despite the UK government having these issues highlighted in the pilots for Universal Credit and by councils, charities, housing associations and parliamentarians, absolutely no meaningful reassurance has been received…..It is time for the UK Government to admit their mistake, and put people at the heart of their system, instead of ideology.’

It’s not even as though the UK welfare system was particularly generous in the first place. See this from Glassdoor:

‘The UK is in the bottom four [of 14 most developed nations] overall taking into account factors such as maternity and paternity leave, general parental leave, paid holiday allowance, paid sick leave and unemployment benefits. Only the Swiss, the Irish and the Americans have a more frugal government policy.’

 http://news.gov.scot/news/call-to-halt-full-service-roll-out-of-universal-credit

http://www.smf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Publication-Sink-or-Swim-The-impact-of-Universal-Credit.pdf

https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/blog/social-benefits-europe-isnt-britain/

Scottish government launches plan to help employ veterans

© www.gov.uk

Here’s a headline from the Independent in 2014:

‘Just like after the Great War, Britain is celebrating the soldiers who died and neglecting those who survived’

The treatment of war veterans in the UK is a national disgrace with around 2 000 living on the streets. Readers will know that Scotland contributes more personnel to the armed forces than other parts of the UK and so has more veterans to care for, per head of population. The USA, Canada and Germany already have schemes like the one being announced in Scotland so it’s long overdue. The essential features of the scheme are:

A toolkit aimed at encouraging businesses to proactively recruit and benefit from employing veterans…..Delivered by Business in the Community, the toolkit highlights tried and tested techniques being used by leading employers to successfully attract and recruit talented veterans. This includes advice on how to;

  • Inspire and prepare veterans for civilian life
  • Create recruitment processes that are friendly and accessible to veterans
  • Create a supportive culture that helps to retain, develop and progress military talent within business.’

The scheme has been welcomed by Business in the Community Scotland. Sandy Macdonald, Head of Sustainability, Standard Life, said:

‘When entering the workplace armed forces veterans bring with them a unique set of skills and experiences, which we have found to be ideally transferable to our business. Despite this, we are well aware of the challenges and difficulties that many veterans face when making this transition and are fully supportive of efforts to help tackle these problems. Through our Armed Forces Network, we are actively engaged in a number of initiatives and programmes that help raise awareness and increase support to veterans.’

Fine words and good intentions are a start but we’ll need these converted into real action by the business community and, of course, publically-funded employers. With particular regard to the latter employers, considerable efforts have already been made.  Details can be found at: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2012/09/9981/5

Other sources:

http://news.gov.scot/news/supporting-veterans-into-work-1

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/just-like-after-the-great-war-britain-is-celebrating-the-soldiers-who-died-and-neglecting-those-who-9826243.html

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13130045.Revealed__2000_military_veterans_living_on_the_streets/

Will the Scottish Federation of Small Businesses jump sides after Brexit?

Strong supporters of the No campaign in 2014, the Scottish branch of the FSB were recently surveyed and made the EU a priority market ahead of the US, Canada, Australia or China. They said:

‘More than half of the 1,758 small firms polled – 191 of which were Scottish – for the survey said they found it easier to export to the EU than trade out-with the single market.’

Remember the rUK is not as yet an export destination but when it does become one, I feel sure our businesses will be able to export there barrier free-as English businesses have more to lose than we do by sheer virtue of their number and the scale of their sales to us. You know the argument. The European manufacturers will not allow high tariffs on UK goods because the same applied to their goods would damage them more than us. As with the UK and Scotland, they export more to us than we do to them. They have more to lose. However there are many EU nations and they don’t all rely on exports to the UK so there is a risk a majority might actually prefer to punish the UK and out-vote those who do export heavily to us. Theresa May’s secret deal with Nissan suggests this might be the case. There will only be one rUK so we can be sure their manufacturers will be able to prevent any rUK government trying to punish us for leaving.

So, watching rUK sail off out of the single market, the FSB must surely see the sense in switching sides and supporting Scottish independence in the EU?

https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/business/business-news/390225/fsb-warns-scotland-can-ill-afford-brexit-export-slowdown/