I APPEAL to Rise and other groups and individuals opposing Donald Trump to call off any plans for protests at Turnberry when he visits on June 24.

Trump thrives on getting attention like that. Just think of the impact it would have if the big news coverage was that he was mobbed by the media – and no-one else.

Jack Foley

ON the talks taking place this week on Israeli-Palestinian peace: neither nation can prosper as things stand. How can they have a future? They should pause; reflect and realise what they are losing out on.

What they have in common is a strip of land which needs to be governed jointly and democratically. An interim joint parliament needs to be set up.

Each nation needs to come to it with an agenda of issues that must be addressed. Religion later rather than sooner, with practical problems to be resolved first. An interim joint parliament is the way forward.


LIKE others, I greatly welcome the addition of Michael Fry to The National’s team of columnists, not just because he is a friend and makes more sense than most people I know but because he will present an alternative case to the well-meaning but ultimately flawed economics presented by some of your other columnists.

The criticism by a few of your correspondents is that Fry is a “neoliberal”. What on earth does that mean? Are they mixing up the term “neoconservative” (which is a quite clear subset of the American political establishment that is woefully ignorant of every country they stick their noses into) with “liberal”, which is a distinct free-market economic and political doctrine that has sadly died out in the UK and almost everywhere else?

As an economist, I have no clue what a neoliberal is. There is no “neoliberal” school of thought except in the minds of the uninformed political and corporate media class.

I do have a clue that the private sector must be allowed to generate wealth, jobs and income in order that the public sector can exist.

Is that somehow a radical statement of right-wing economic policy or Conservative anti-poorness (for the want of a better word)? No. It is just a simple statement of fact. The private sector provides jobs and growth in order that we can make choices about how we spend the taxes generated. Tax too much and the private sector suffocates and how then do we pay for public services? For those who think taxes can be raised from public-sector jobs,

I would invite them to think about the absurdity of that position.

But give the private sector too much public support – which is what Gordon Brown, Barack Obama, David Cameron and their ilk do – then you end up with an ignorant commentariat which equates the market with “bad” and the government with “good”.

Do any of your “left-wing” readers talk about jailing the central bankers when they rail against big banks? Do any of them advocate re-examining the tenures of the likes of Brown and Darling (never mind George Osborne) who presided over the expansion of the financial services industry with pride and full-blown ignorance? From what I have seen in your pages the answer is no. But that is exactly what their starting point should be.

I don’t know Fred Goodwin from Adam but I do know that he is one of the most unjustly maligned individuals in the UK. He did what the Chancellor (who gave him a knighthood by the way) and the governor of the Bank of England wanted him to do – grow his bank at all costs and against all common sense because they had worked the miracle of banishing the business cycle. Until they hadn’t. It wasn’t him that got it wrong – although I wish he had been smarter – it was his belief in government and central banking that was wrong.

True free-marketeers are more sickened by the protection given by government and central banks (neither of which, by the way, are the “private sector”) to the banking industry, the auto industry in the US and various other industries that were unable to properly police themselves, than any socialists or centre-left advocates that I have come across.

It was not “neoliberalism” that decided taxpayers’ and savers’ money should be sacrificed to bail these people out. That was a decision made by central banks and governments of all political hues over the course of the last eight years.

Michael Fry will challenge a lot of the fuzzy thinking. All I would ask is that you listen to his arguments with an open mind and accept or reject them for what they are worth. But first and foremost, get the economics right before you pass judgement on him or anyone else that believes in the power of the market (it is, after all, a Scottish invention) as a signalling mechanism and information provider. And most important of all, recognise the overwhelmingly important place in society of the private sector. I am a lifelong opponent of nuclear weapons, an advocate of education and health provision for all (recognising they are never “free” but much better uses of taxation than guns and big governments) and a believer in equal opportunity.

So you can call me a “neoliberal” if you like but it will just demonstrate my point – there is no such thing and you don’t have a clue how to define it. Don’t shoot the messengers – just accept that there are hard choices to be made in both a devolved and an independent Scotland. Let’s start with some common sense and some clear thinking. Michael Fry will give us dollops of both.

Dr Jim Walker, Chief Economist
Asianomics, Hong Kong

ISN’T it peculiar that now branch office Scottish Labour are in no position really to make any meaningful change to Scottish politics or life, they table motions giving the impression they are trying to do just that, as with their attempt to increase the top rate of income tax (Top income tax rise proposed by Labour dismissed during Holyrood Vote, The National, Jun 3).

The motion on banning fracking and subsequent criticism of the SNP abstention, even though it is common knowledge that a ban would open the floodgates of litigation, is simply nothing words from a nothing party.

Rather than come up with positive ideas, the wee branch office has been reduced to seeking desperate validation by somehow, in any way, trying to get one over on the Scottish Government.

Our aim should be to reduce them once again at next year’s council elections. It is desperately and truly sad that a once great political party is now run by the idea-less.

John McHarg