Saturday, October 09, 2010
For several years I used to do reviews of the motions put up at the ScotLibDim Conference for debate. Nominally such conference votes made party policy since the conference legally the party's sovereign body. "Years ago I fisked their policy motions in some detail long in advance of the conference, but then they stopped publishing them long in advance. Then I fisked them after they had been passed, but they stopped publishing the full motion, just the title. Then I reviewed the titles. This year they haven't even published the titles of the policy motions they are supposed to be debating." That was 2008.
This year even the concept of the members being allowed to have polict debates seems to have been dropped. There are no policy debates. How this squares with the constitution I have no idea.
Today the closest the membership have to any role in the party is to watch a few very carefully selected politically correct apparatchiks get a
Policy Pitch BreakfastI very much doubt if it is first come first served. If the first arrival was a supporter of free market liberalism I am quite certain they would be disallowed. A small number of carefully chosen people get a few minutes of some freedom to speak & then go away.
We are giving you the opportunity to start the day with your agenda. Open to all organisations booking a fringe or exhibition and included in the price, you will have the opportunity to make your pitch to our policy people. You will have 2 minutes to outline the one policy you would like to see included in the Scottish Liberal Democrats manifesto for 2011. Spaces are limited so it is first come, first served.
The LDs used to be the only one of the main parties where the membership actually had a role in deciding on policy. When David Cameron unilaterally reverses the party's "cast iron" EU referendum guarantee, against the clear wishes of the overwhelming majority of members the new party line became party policy just because he said so.
Who would be a member of such a party? This is not just about the LudDims - our entire ruling political class have become completely divorced from any responsibility to the people. This is why membership of all the "official" parties is dropping through the floor. This remark from Jerry Pournelle, although written about the American political class seems very apposite. I have read Machiavelli's book several times but this particular comparison had not occurred & is a good one.
Machiavelli said that if Republics rely on mercenaries for their defense, they take great risks; better to have citizen soldiers. Today the danger is not from our Legions... but from our hired political class. We have opted to entrust our political lives to mercenaries: career politicians, political managers, paid operatives and organizers; what we used to call political machines.At the time wars in Italy were notorious for being drawn out affairs in which nothing much of importance happened, casualties were slight, the competing armies would arrange the show in advance & the mercenaries kept going back to demand more money from the people. This is a consequence of it being in the hands of mercenaries who have no belief in the causes they nominally serve & wish as cushy a life as possible. Britain & even moreso Scotland is now run almost exclusively by professional politicians. Anyone with any actual beliefs is excluded by the main parties (Brian Monteith, Ivor Tiefenbrun & on the "left" Jim Sillars). Such "battles" as there are are "fought" around purely spurious issues (like when or if to hold an independence referendum) in which no professional politician on either side is acting from conviction but simply to see which position will gain some slight electoral advantage.
I have also previously discussed the sponsors the LD Conference get. This year the ones admited to are:
Royal National Institute for the Blind
Long Term Conditions Alliance Scotland
Alliance of Sector Skills Councils
The last 2 of those are government funded fakecharities. So once agian this nominally independent political party is actually a state funded front.
An interesting contrast is the way some people on the blogsphere have been saying that the recent court action to force the BNP to accept black members means that lots of BNP opponents should now join & vote themselves & their multiculturalist agenda into control. That is saying that the BNP are now infinitely more under the control of their members than the LibDim, Labour & conservative parties. I'm not 100% sure that is true but it certainly seems a strange thing for opponents favouring these parties to proclaim.
Friday, October 08, 2010
I regret that the Scotsman decided to give space to Anne Ross's intemperate attack on Ivor Tiefenbrun for his defence of the union. There is a case for (& against) separation & it would have been entirely proper for her to have made it. She made no attempt to do so & instead used most of the letter to remind us that he is Jewish & thus apparently not entitled to express an opinion. Such arguments do not convince that a separate nationalist Scotland would be an attractive place.Only editing is that they changed "the Scotsman" in the first line to "you" which, suggests they are justifiably embarrassed at publishing the original letter, & separating the first paragraph into 2, which is a distinct improvement.
Mr Tiefenbrun is clearly a very competent, creative & intelligent person. Such people are usually worth listening to, even if you disagree with them. Holyrood is not overburdened with such.
The 4th online response to it is to deny that Ms Ross's letter was anti-Jewish & then goes on to make a silly, obviously untrue anti-Jewish remark. The original letter is here & you can see that it did indeed concentrate on ethnicity & avoided any actual argument for separation.
The haven't published a letter the day before about nuclear - ah well can't have everything. I will have to do a round up of unpublished letters soon.
Yesterday's blog on the cost of the Forth Bridge get a link in the Guardian's Edinburgh section "although he's a Glasgow blogger" (& although he has been barred from the Guardian website for knowing his facts, but I assume the right hand knoweth not what the left hand has been censoring).
Thursday, October 07, 2010
(1) Is it specifically claimed that recabling cannot take place without closing the bridge? ...They promptly replied (slightly edited):
(2) Has any haulier written to the Scottish government saying that restrictions on their cargoes would so seriously affect their profits that it should be a major consideration in this multi billion £ project?...
(3) I take it that our government does not dispute that the Lisbon recabling cost £10 million & that similar Norwegian tunneling projects have indeed cost around £40 million?
(4) [since a large part of tunnel costs relate to access roads, indeed they are costed at more than similar bridge access roads] is there any reason why the endpoints should not be beside the access roads to the current bridge if road costs are really such an overwhelming
" (2) Gavin Scott of the Freight Transport Association submitted the following comments to Transport Scotland on 28 August 2007:
“Despite the siren voices that argue for the environmental and other benefits of this or that crossing, the replacement for the current crossing must be a bridge unless the logistics industry is given a cast iron guarantee that any tunnel provided will have no restrictions as to what goods may pass through it.
Transport Scotland’s STPR corridor study suggests that Large Goods Vehicle traffic on the Edinburgh to Perth corridor is consistently between 8% and 12%. Let’s call it 10%. All of that traffic will currently cross the Forth Road Bridge and whatever future replacement is provided. Given that large goods vehicles account for something in the region of 1% of all vehicles on our roads it seems reasonable that, if Forth Road Bridge traffic is on average 10% large goods vehicles, special consideration should be given to their requirements.
All tunnels of the length that any Forth tunnel might be have more or less serious restrictions on the passage of hazardous cargoes. This is not necessarily explosives or nuclear devices but could be commonplace commodities such as fuel or bulk whisky.
Restrictions on the carriage of these cargoes range from outright bans to segregation, the requirement for escort vehicles or speed and separation limits. If the economy of Scotland and Fife is not to be destroyed we cannot have such restrictions put on vehicles wishing to cross the Forth. Imagine the situation if, every time a petrol tanker wished to cross the Forth Road Bridge all traffic was stopped until the vehicle had crossed in splendid isolation.
We are trying to improve the economy of Scotland not finding ways of artificially hindering it when there is no need for such hindrances.”
In addition to these comments you may also be interested to read the submissions to the Scottish Parliament Forth Crossing Bill Committee made by the Freight Transport Association (www.fta.co.uk) and the Road Haulage Association (www.rha.uk.net), which is a member-based organisation representing road transport operators in the UK. It has 9,500 members, all of which are UK road transport companies. These can be found, along with the other published written submissions at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/forthXbill/inquiries/fcb-evid.htm
When making comparisons with other crossing projects, including bridges and tunnels, it should be borne in mind that each project is unique and it is difficult to make like for like comparisons. This was highlighted by Mike Glover, Commission Project Manager, in his evidence to the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee on 23 February 2010, where he stated:
“…I welcome the opportunity to explain what the differences are between major bridges across the world. Accounting practices of countries come into it. For example, there is no taxation whatsoever on Stonecutters bridge, and no financial charges are applied to its costs. You will find that, despite what you might think, every country has its unique way of accounting for things
The other characteristic is that it is not an open book situation. In many countries, all you will ever see, if you are lucky, is the tender price, not the outturn price. That comes into the next item: the contract strategy. As John Howison has explained, we are adopting an approach that gives price certainty post-tender. Other bridges have been constructed on very much more of a cost-plus or target basis, by which I mean that the tender price bears no resemblance to the outturn cost. I am afraid that you cannot make people tell you what the outturn costs are; they just will not do it. With very large projects there is always a problem with finding out what the end cost is. I think that that is what you are suffering from with many of these situations….”
The official report for this committee session, which contains Mike Glover’s comments in full, can be found at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/finance/or-10/fi10-0502.htm.
The role of committees and how the work is outlined in the document, The Work of Committees which can be found at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/vli/committees/index.htm.
The comparisons made with other bridges and tunnels can be found in the Comparison Paper on International Bridges and Tunnels which can be found on the Transport Scotland Website, http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/projects/forth-replacement-crossing/information-centre/frc-study, along with maps of each of the identified crossing points, maps of the physical constraints within the estuary, studies which informed the decision and an Information Note on the likely diversion routes associated with closure of the Forth Road Bridge to HGVs.
You may also be interested in the non-technical summary ...http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/files/documents/reports/FRCS-Report5-Non-Technical-Summary26-06-07.pdf.
(1) In your letter you ask if it is specifically claimed that recabling cannot take place without closing the bridge. In February 2008 FETA reported that it would be possible to replace or augment the cables should this be necessary, although in practical terms, they concluded that this replacement work would not be feasible unless a replacement crossing were provided prior to the work taking place. In particular the study concluded that major maintenance works on Forth Road Bridge over a sustained period, involving lane and carriageway closures, would potentially result in:
economic output falling to a level in the order of £1 billion below that anticipated were the bridge to be operating normally
a drop in turnover in excess of £1.3 billion below that anticipated were the bridge to be operating normally
a loss of around 3,200 jobs, some of which may turn out to be permanent.
The full report can be found at: www.forthroadbridge.org/maincablereplacement.
I hope you find this further information useful.
Project Communications and Policy Officer
Forth Replacement Crossing Team"
Well some answers there & (2) I am interested to see that somebody has said the "economy of Scotland & Fife would be destroyed" if a tiny % of lorries carrying explosive or highly combustible materials had to take the 20 mile detour to Kincardine Bridge in the event of the current bridge being allowed to fall. I find that claim incredible but certainly they have found somebody who has made it.
(1) Despite it being previously implied the answer makes clear that recabling can take place without closing it. There would be some inconvenience but all the alleged costs given there apply equally or moreso if there is congestion because of any delay in building a new tunnel - which is an overwhelming argument for immediately starting cutting a tunnel rather than spending half a decade before starting a bridge. Indeed if the £1 billion loss simply from having some restrictions, not closure, on the bridge, probably at weekends is taken seriously then we should be cutting at least 2 dozen £40 million tunnels under the Forth & presumably elsewhere. Extrapolating from that figure the cost of closure of central Edinburgh because of the tram fiasco must be several billions already which means the civil service have opposed it initially & be now calling for its immediate scrapping.
It seems that on (3) & (4) it is accepted I am correct.
Mike Glover's explanation is worth comment because it explains nothing. That there may be no VAT on 1 bridge would explain a 17.5% discrepancy on that one, but not the real discrepancy (£206 million compared to £2,300mn) there or on all the other bridges. Claiming that all the other countries in the world are lying about their costs since the figures they give are only the initial estimate rather than the actual cost might be taken seriously if (A) the figures we are being given for the Forth crossing aren't themselves initial estimates or (B) if Scotland's government had a long & credible history of all such projects coming in on budget rather than a long & discreditable history of the reverse. The inflation adjusted figure for the previous Forth Bridge was only £320 million - is Mr Glover claiming that the Scottish government is among those giving a false figure?
So we are still left with a lot of handwaving to distract from the fact that the cost proposed for the Forth Bridge is still 13 times that of the similar first bridge, 100 times what tunnels can be & have been built for & 400 times what recabling would cost.
£117 million, £4.8 million per km
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
This is brilliant. It reminds me of the pieces which say that aliens shot Kennedy or that mind control rays are being deployed to persuade us to shop at Tescos or similar. Lovely satire.
Posted on 03/10/2010 by James
Leaving aside the debate on climate change, one of the most worrying aspects is the security/insecurity of Scotland's future energy supplies. Some countries are already experiencing regular power cuts, with the result that such disruptions are discouraging vital inward investment. The Scottish government assures us its policies will keep the lights on. However this satisfactory state of affairs assumes that the spending on energy infrastructure they envisage will in fact take place. Austerity budgets are hampering the energy plans of many governments in the West; consequently the demand for cheaper but less popular alternatives is growing so much so that governments who once said no to nuclear are now changing their minds.
Posted on 03/10/2010 by IJ
Thank you for a level-headed article. We need more like this. So what can be done? Those who claim to have the future growth and prosperity of Scotland at the centre of their hearts, seem to be considering her of nothing more value than a sacrificial goat to be offered on the alter of AGW so they can declare to the world, 'Look we have not even held back our own country to placate the gods of climate changed, surely we should be praised for our sacrifice' Pride comes before a fall... hopefully not the fall of beautiful Scotland.
Posted on 03/10/2010 by Ian Moir
An outstanding article. The burden of the plainly ludicrous, ill-founded climate-alarmism swamping our politicians will be with us for some time to come. What will move it? The lack of observational evidence for CO2 driving climate, or even having an important impact, has not been enough. The cautionary advice of the world's best climate scientists has not been enough. Perhaps the hideous fanaticism of the 10:10 snuff movie 'No Pressure' will help move them a little. Perhaps another cold winter will make some of them think a little. The whole sorry saga has revealed how people in positions of notional authority such as the IPCC can manipulate their reporting to gloss over differences of opinion, ignore critical and informed opinion, and make the most of impressive PR skills to get a mighty bandwagon underway despite the desperately thin ice it is standing on (that's enough by way of metaphors). It is such a pity that the fledgling parliament in Edinburgh become a victim of this bizarre abandonment of independent thought. The two core arguments I have heard from the pushers are 'the IPCC says it, it must be true', and then some twaddle about greenhouses - twaddle that was revealed as twaddle more than 100 years ago. CO2 without doubt responds to infra-red in ways which the simpler molecules that make up most of the atmosphere cannot, but the net effect of this on the complex climate system, with its poorly understood network of relationships, is still a matter of debate amongst physicists. Some say it will produce a modest cooling, some say the effect will so small as to defy detection, some say a modest rise in 'average temperatures'. None say it will have a dramatic effect on its own. A few modellers have postulated a positive feedback with water vapour and in that way contrived to show dramatic temperature rises. Nothing has been seen to support their postulate, and the lack of a tropospheric hotspot as predicted by it is at least a partial refutation of the model. The ongoing lack of dramatic temperature rises as per the dramatic projections is also a refutation. But in their defence, the modellers say their models are not good enough for predictions, only 'projections'. An interesting perspective, an offspring of the unholy liaisons between some scientists and many spinners. The scientists can say 'our models are not fit for prediction', the spinners can say 'look what the models predicts, we are all doomed'. All it takes for this absurdity is a great pile of verbiage to confused the masses. Enter the IPCC.
Posted on 03/10/2010 by JS
An excellent article, which, as a scientist, I wholeheartedly support. There is no evidence that we are affecting the global climate.
Posted on 03/10/2010 by Dr Phillip Bratby
I would like to give thanks for the thoughtful comments here.
I would also like to thank James for demonstrating how strenuously alarmist critics must avoid any actual discussion of facts. Thus showing this hypothesis could never have become the dominant paradigm, let alone brought about the destruction of trillions of $s of human wealth without massive governments & compliant mainstream media propagandising combined with censorship of sceptical views.
Lysenkoism looks reasomable by comparison.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
For good reasons, government developed transportation has been costly and uncompetitive. A classic case is Samuel Langley’s government funded attempt to invent the airplane. Langley spent one hundred times as much money as the Wright brothers did. They succeeded, and he failed. Another example is the British government-funded effort to build passenger dirigibles between the world wars. The government-funded R101 crashed on its maiden voyage, but the commercially developed Vickers R100 dirigible flew successfully. NASA’s failures at every new launcher program in the past two decades are more recent examples.This reminded me of what the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said of their use of $3 million of prizes (& possibly as much as $7 million to administer them which shows the bureaucracy problem even here) to develop an automated driving system
... Prof. Freeman Dyson, President
Prof. John S. Lewis, V.P., Research
Dr. Lee Valentine, Exec. V.P.
For less than $10 million in prize money and expenses, the Department of Defense has created new technology that would have otherwise cost more than $100 million, and taken a lot longer to perfect."That is 2 data points which is enough to start assuming a trend. The Wrights had 1/100th as much money & the driving programmers had 1/33rd & in both cases achieved much better results than direct state control could have done. Averaging them we should expect prizes to be more than 66 times more cost effective than conventional funding.
Of course evidence in such cases is difficult to get because both systems being used in such parallels are rare. However that just means we must accept this evidence as the best we have till something better comes along. It may be that refining it would show that prizes are only 30 times more cost effective or that they average well over 100 times. It does show that the prime reason for having direct control must be the power of patronage it gives to government leaders & workers, which is far more important to them than value for money.
Taking it at 66 times we would only have to spend £4 million a year on space prizes to match £260 million space budget we currently give to the European Space Agency (though that organisation seems so particularly inefficient that I suspect £400,000 could do it). Equally if we put all of that £260 mill into prizes it would provide a boost to our space industries, already growing at 10% annually, equal to £17 billion ($27 bn) well above the entire USA's NASA budget.
Monday, October 04, 2010
Eaga is the UK's largest supplier of heating and renewable energy and is at the forefront of the low-carbon economy
To whom the government forces us to pay through the "Renewables Obligation" for their 10 times overpriced product
O2 is the UK's leading provider of mobile phones, broadband and SIMs. O2 is partnering with 10:10 as part of its Think Big initiative and will be selling 10:10 Tags in its shops across the UK
Won't be buying their mobile phones.
Sony is one of the world’s leading digital entertainment brands, with household names such as VAIO™, Cyber-Shot™, BRAVIA™ and Walkman®. Sony is sponsoring 10:10 to support its staff’s efforts to go even further on carbon reduction
The Ashden TrustAshden Trust website
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
The GD Charitable Trust
The Funding Network "A loose affiliation of individuals"?
A fascist newspaper with a record of lying to assist Nazis in genocide & worse. Largely funded by getting almost all its advertising from government.
National Magazine Company Owners of Cosmopolitan & many many other similar titles.
ActionAidLeading over 1,000 schools on the way to 10%
Presumably the government's education budget is funding this programme by these would be child murderers in propagandising in schools.
Campaign for greener healthcare
Indefatigable decarbonisers of care, and coordinators of the 10:10 Health programme
a conglomeration of government funded fakecharities
The last word in organisational carbon reduction
government funded fakecharity
Supporting 10:10 universities and colleges
Defra logo so government funded fakecharity
Energy Saving Trust
Purveyors of peerless carbon-cutting advice for individuals and families
government funded fakecharity
The Great British Refurb
Helping you live in a low-energy home that's more comfortable, cheaper to run, and massively reduces your carbon emissions
umbrella organisation of government fakecharities (or of umbrella organisation of fakecharities
The broadband channel for environmental films
funding source, which cannot be small, unmentioned but "partners" include government funded fakecharities
Keeping us out of jail, free "leading business law firm with a distinctive approach. Our pioneering and problem-solving ethos has established a commanding reputation in the technology, media and real estate sectors" sounds like politically connected eco-fascist ambulance chasers
People and Planet
Keeping 10:10 students ticking over
don't say where the money comes from but connected to schools & are advertising for staff but not donations so looks like government fakecharity
Public Interest Research Centre
Climate policy superheroes whose work inspired our 10% target and the Lighter Later campaignClaims to be "independent" but says is partly funded by Social Services Trusts so government funded. Says they have been core funded for many years by the "1970 Trust" which nobody on Google has ever heard of
The email marketing geniuses powering our supporter mailouts
they list 10:10 as ordinary clients which implies they are charging them the going rate
I assume the Wates & Fairbairn Trusts are connected to the building companies of the same names. Since 3/4 of housing costs are government regulatory they must be more than slightly open to government intimidation.
All in all it looks like these Nazi would be child murderers are overwhelmingly funded by government or organisations getting their money from government subsidy/regulatory fiat. I womder if the "Green" Luddite movement would be if it were not being cultivated by government - my guess is that instead of getting 1/2 as many votes as the BNP it would be lucky to get 1/20th
pictures nobody, anywhere in the world according to Google, has put up any stills from this video
Sunday, October 03, 2010
The 58th Bilderberg Meeting will be held in Sitges, Spain 3 – 6 June 2010. The Conference will deal mainly with Financial Reform, Security, Cyber Technology, Energy, Pakistan, Afghanistan, World Food Problem, Global Cooling, Social Networking, Medical Science, EU-US relations.Emphasis added. James takes it as either evidence the global elite really are convinced that cooling is the major & a significant risk or that it is a misprint. I gave difficulty believing they are so disorganised & while I think cooling is a worse problem do not think that either sort of climate change is a serious immediate problem. I commented:
Not convinced this means the Bilderbergs are worried about global cooling. More likely they simply see the warming scare is no longer working, as the cooling one was by 1980, & the Limits to growth peak everything was by Julian Simon & are looking to move on to new scare story (or a retread of an old one).
Since the best place to control climate from is orbit neither cooling nor warming not any of the other things would be a problem for a wealthy spacegoing civilisation but everybody wealthy is a bit of a problem for the wealthy. Report Recommend