Comment posted ARSN submission to Rural Education Commission by Tim McIntyre.
Thanks Neil, and for what it’s worth I don’t doubt what you say about your understanding and empathy with rural areas. In fact I think we are lucky enough to live in a part of the world where splits of the type sometimes alluded to – between ‘urban’ and ‘rural’, or between young people & the elderly – are largely fictitious. None of the towns we have in Argyll are large enough to be described as ‘urban’ and many or most local families have strong connections between the town areas and the countryside.
As for Bonawe, I fully agree with you that, as with any school, it relies on parental support to survive. I would argue that the fact that the school is still open suggests that some parents do strongly support it, since they have obviously had to weigh any concerns they may have over the small size of the pupil roll against the desire to see the school survive for the sake of the longer term future of the community. Having attended the pre-consultation meeting in Ardchattan last March, I can assure you that the wider community, including many people in the village who do not have children, but are involved with the day to day life of the school, are strongly supportive of it. Furthermore the housing association representative expressed the view that the school was a significant factor in the large number of people on their waiting list who have expressed a preference for a house in the village.
Tim McIntyre also commented
- Neil – Ardchattan School in Bonawe currently has three pupils, and no-one would deny that it is at a low ebb. Likewise, Barcaldine school had only seven pupils at one point (I was one of them, so it’s longer ago than I would care to admit). Now Barcaldine has twenty-two, and has been more-or-less full for the last decade or so.
Why? Barcaldine has not undergone any major house-building programme, nor enjoyed any significant economic boost (the closure of the Alginate factory in the late 90s lost us our last major employer) since I was at school. There has simply been a kind of demographic renewal resulting in an increase in the school-age population.
As long as a community like Bonawe has a school, it has a reasonable chance of undergoing such a renewal in due course, but that becomes much less likely if the school closes. Seen from that perspective, what appears to be a short-term spike in the ‘cost per pupil’ of educating Bonawe’s children close to home is in fact an investment in the long term sustainability of that community.
Also, as is abundantly clear to anyone who has visited the school, it has close connections with the community and plays a very important part in the lives of everyone, from toddlers to the elderly – the more so because it is the only community facility they have. Allow it to survive now, and it will thrive again in the future.
- Simon – I’m really looking forward to hearing your considered response to the ARSN submission. In the mean time, do you think you could lay off the SNP-bashing for just a little while? Even for those of us with no party allegiance, it’s really starting to get tedious and I’m sure the last thing you want is to be boring everyone
The story also has nothing whatever to do with the SNP, nor even with the decision to close Hillhead school, which (I agree with you) looks pretty awful.
- A collaborative effort too – although my name is at the top of the submission, most of the clear thinking and hard work that went into this must be credited to ARSN individuals from every corner of Argyll.
Recent comments by Tim McIntyre
- Indy, the banks and the Scottish economy
Leaving aside the question of whether ‘parochial’ is a bad thing in this context… you have missed the point I was making. Extend the logic of your first outcome to the UK – by your argument, the UK banking sector would be ‘parochial’, i.e. able to operate only in the UK because the government/Bank of England will only stand behind its exposure within the UK.
Clearly it is not, and therefore there is likewise no reason why a Scottish-headquartered bank should be unable to operate in international markets (including rUK) just because the Scottish authorities are unable or unwilling to cover its exposure outside Scotland.
- Indy, the banks and the Scottish economy
Jamie – so, waffle about pm’s ‘MO’ aside, do you have some alternative proof, or even ‘opinions’ that all the articles pm linked to are wrong, and that the UK government/Bank of England provided global guarantees for the entire liabilities of UK-headquartered banks?
Because that’s the obvious analogy for newsroom’s contention that the Scottish Government would have to stand behind any liabilities that Scottish banks incurred outside Scotland in order for our financial sector to have any international credibility.
- Indy, the banks and the Scottish economy
Newsroom – There appears to be a contradiction in your ‘update’.
You concede that the US authorities provided bailout funds to cover the exposure of UK-based banks in the US. The UK authorities, meanwhile, bailed out their UK exposure – in the case of RBS, £320bn if your figures are correct. Most of RBS’s UK exposure was in the City of London, not in Scotland.
But you seem to suggest that, in an independent Scotland, if a Scottish bank with exposure in rUK got into difficulties, then the Scottish authories would have to cover its ENTIRE exposure across a rUK of which Scotland was no longer part.
You say: “Scotland would have to be in a position to take the same hit – or simply to look after the exposure to the bank in Scotland alone… which indicates just how far the bank would have to scale back its operations and is earning capacity in order to remain headquartered here”
By extension of that logic, are you suggesting that UK-headquartered banks are no longer able to operate in the US and other international markets? Or that the Bank of England is now prepared to bail out UK banks’ exposure throughout the world?
- Porkie from Salmond on fiscal policy as Darling bests him again in Reporting Scotland interviews
I didn’t see either interview, so have no comment on newsie’s “Blow for Salmond as Darling Triumphant Again” analysis
Is is not the case that being part of a currency union primarily requires the participants to agree on limits to public borrowing, and particularly borrowing to finance revenue expenditure?
Fiscal policy covers the whole gamut of government revenue & expenditure, and so an independent government can surely still have effectively full control over public spending priorities, taxation and borrowing to invest in public infrastructure. These are surely the powers that matter most, particularly in terms of stimulating economic growth and achieving a fairer distribution of the nation’s wealth.
Personally I would be quite happy for an independent Scottish government to have some external discipline imposed over revenue borrowing – it would constrain them to funding public service expenditure increases through economic growth and/or tax. Whether you are part of of a currency union or not, the reality is that this discipline is imposed externally anyway, by the markets, so it’s not that big a deal. Plus we’re not exactly latched to a country with a record of tight fiscal control, as Mr Darling knows better than almost anyone else.
The comments which usually emerge about the supposed ‘dangers’ of currency union tend to refer to the absolute extremes of the Euro, i.e. Germany and Greece. This is a completely nonsensical comparison – Scotland & rUK have economies which are broadly similar, and Scotland, supposedly the ‘Greece’ in this analogy, has the natural resource clout to punch well above its weight in terms of economic potential. Where they differ significantly, e.g. in the import/export balance, a currency union would seem to offer at least as great an advantage to rUK as it does to Scotland.
I’m not any kind of expert on this, so I pose these points more as questions than assertions. Mr Salmond (and the Fiscal Commission) say a CU would be a good thing, for BOTH parties; Mr Darling (and Messrs Osborne, Balls & Alexander) say not. Who to believe? I haven’t seen any analysis of the benefits – specifically to rUK – of being in a CU with an independent Scotland, so would be interested to hear what Mr Strang (above) has to say on that.
- PHEW. Scotland can sleep easy. Alan Reid says we can keep the pound.
‘Of course an independent Scotland could use the pound if we wanted to’.
It’s a pretty uncontroversial and self-evidently truthful statement, so why the fuss?
Now if he’d said ‘Of course the UK will agree to a currency union with an independent Scotland’ that would be different…
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