Saturday, October 13, 2007

Is it Really Celtic's Lion?

Alex Salmond, the politician formerly known as Shrek, has set out his plan to create a "Celtic Lion" economy in Scotland on the final day of his trip to the United States. In his speech in New York he outlined his ambition to emulate the economic success of the Ireland's Celtic Tiger. "We have everything it takes for a Celtic Lion economy to take off in Scotland. What we require is vision and leadership to enable us to make it happen. Ireland has shown what is possible and there is no reason why we could not match their tiger with our lion.”

Not quite Mr. S. There’s the little matter of the EU help that kick started the Irish economy. He went onto say. "The cumulative effect of my government's proposed targets and policies is Scotland will be among the most business-friendly countries in Europe and one of the most competitive in the world.” He’s clearly caught the Nu-Labour bug of confusing targets with some definite action. There’s also the little matter of salary levels, which will hardly compete with China and India. Then again I guess the Scottish economy is to be built on financial services as there’s absolutely no evidence that we have anything to offer manufacturing industries.

Then again what’s it all about Alex? Nothing more than yet another opportunity to peddle the independence is best slogan. “My message to the world is simple - Scotland is open for business and flourishing; an independent Scotland will be open for business and an even better place to do business."

That is tosh and of course he’s going to say it but please don’t expect everyone to fall for it. Then again his speechwriters have got a hold of a copy of ‘Teach Yourself Political Platitudes’ and have trawled through it for some serious crap. "My hope for Scotland is that we will be honest about where we are and ambitious about where we can go. And, perhaps, within the next generation, we can introduce the world to a new marvel - the Scottish Celtic Lion."

Finally I wonder what Rangers' fans have to say about all this? Very bad idea to call it the Celtic Lion rather than the Scots Lion.


Anonymous said...

I hear that Scotland is to be renamed Celticland.

Liz said...

Nothing to do with your post but - lovely photo! Is that from your back yard?

Richard Havers said...

It is Liz - paradise! It's looking north west.

Anonymous said...

Scotland IS in the EU, if you are referring to EU subsidies they had little or nothing to do with the celtic tiger, in fact they may have slowed it down somewhat. See

Richard Havers said...


From the site you recommended....which of course is notoriously inaccurate on a whole host f subjects.....nevertheless

"Many economists credit Ireland's growth to a low corporate taxation rate (10 to 12.5 percent throughout the late 1990s), and to net transfer payments from members of the European Union like France and Germany that were as high as 4% of gross national product. "

If Scotland became independent it may well not be in the EU.

In any event the whole thing is a daft piece of posturing from Shrek.

Ted Harvey said...

You posted "Finally I wonder what Ranger's fans have to say about all this? Very bad idea to call it the Celtic Lion rather than the Scots Lion."

It's sad and somewhat dismaying to see that that old ruse of playing the orange card is still an attribute of the Unionsists.

Hmmm, anyway setting aside the bigotry (which was a joke,yes, yes, all a wee bit of fun, yes, yes, of course, your excuses are accepted)... seems that that a large part of the point of your posting is that the one thing that prevented Scotland from benefitting from the EU to the extent that Ireland did, was the fact that Scotland was subsumed within the UK... which of course benefited hugely from the incredible net revenue inflows from oil... that was of course predominantly located in what would have been Scottish waters.

And anyway, you are repeating that old lazy and ill-informed line that the Irish 'miracle' was due to EU money. Yes, that played a significant part; but of far more importance was the cross-sector tripartite consensus that Irish society came to in order to move forward.

That included taking advantage of the EU opportunity... very much a reflection on how Scottish society could not arrive at such a consensus because it was subsumed in the UK economy where the priority was 'how do we feed the South East England metroplolis.

But there agin, I suppose that's all a bit too complicated and mind-numbing as compared with just chanting 'it wiz the EU'

Richard Havers said...

We are not a Celtic nation, that's a load of old tosh. It's the Scot's Lion rampant, nothing at all to do with Celtic. That was my basic point. I'm no Orange bigot it has nothing at all to do with my views. That part of the post was tongue in cheek, with a underpinning of history as explained.

Nothing in my post had anything to do with Scotland being subsumed within the UK, that is entirely of your own invention Ted.

Most economists believe that the Irish economy was kick started by EU money, that's what I said and that's what I meant. I agree it's more complicated than just EU money, I said nothing against that.

Nothing in my post hinted at or made any reference to the oil argument. If anything it was poking fun at the dull speech writers that the first minister employs.

But you're right about one thing, I am a Unionist and an unapologetic one at that. This constant carping on about independence will begin to wear thin, people will become bored with it and the only thing that the SNP can hope is that Labour continue to be so inept. Alex Salmond trying to claim the football win yesterday was in some way connected to "a new optimism' was laughable.

Richard Thomson said...

Richard - 'most economists'? Come on, you know as well as I do that if you laid all the economists in the world end to end, they still wouldn't reach a conclusion.

With that caveat, I do remember an article from The Economist magazine c. 1996/97, estimating that only around a quarter of Ireland's already impressive growth rate could be attributed to EU transfers.

In any case, most of the EU money was in agricultural subsidies. What was far more important was the 'social compact' between government and trade unions and the political consensus which followed that the public finances needed sorted out, and free access to European markets. I've no doubt that being Anglophone and pro-European at a time when the British Conservative government was having convulsions over Britain's relationship with the EU helped enormously when it came to securing inward investment.

Richard Havers said...

I love the economists end to end idea Richard :)

There must be a word to describe a group of economists....A Misty?

Nevertheless, my point about EU money was, and is, that it was vital in kick starting things. Thats something that most agree on. I think your point about the social compact allied to the British Govt's position is spot on. Never thought much about that before, but I will now.

Roger Thomas said...


I wrote an article for an influential UK economic development magazine Newstart 18th January Vol 10 No 417.

It was roughly this. The sub editor took out one paragraph and replaced it with two from another article by me etc

It was read by I think 30,000 economic professionals not one expressed any doubt over my Irish assessment. (I did mistakenly get the date of speech wrong Oct not Nov)

Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery which fits in with your recent assessment of the Scotsman?

3 weeks later

Richard Havers said...

I read your post with interest Roger and agree with some of what you say. I do however struggle with this whole notion of an economy being kick started by rhetoric. We have an SNP govt that would be far more successful if they stopped peddling independence, many of their ideas are quite sound. I also continue to find it hard to accept that AS's council of economic advisors will achieve anything.

When all is said and done politics and government is about making a country work. I think that more concentration on that and less on continually finding opportunities to cry independence would achieve a great deal more for the SNP. Fundamentally it is a divisive policy. There's no clear mandate for independence despite what the SNP trumpet.

Roger Thomas said...

Fully agree with yu on the council of economic advisors. This was one of the subtexts of the article. (It looked really good having been airbrushed by the sub editor, laid out and with full colour glossy artwork).

I believe the world is going to change quite quickly and economic advice and single goal economic policy will be less of an objective.

With so many readers of the article in Gov in it's final form I wait with interest to see if AS's rhetoric and policy will change. Thanks.