There seems to be a whole industry devoted to mocking, ridiculing and making fun of Trump. I'm not part of that industry because I don't think he's funny at all. So thank you to Len Quart (29 November
) whose article on Donald Trump differed from the more usual kinds of criticism of the man.
A friend recently said she couldn't work out if Trump is an idiot or evil. I don't think he's an idiot unless that's just a term you apply to people who disagree with your views. And evil? Well, that has unnecessary and potentially distracting religious connotations.
Len Quart's approach – which has been to list straightforward and obvious incompetencies along with unarguable personality defects – does a better job. Taken together, they add up to a disordered personality unsuited to the position he holds and very dangerous as a result. He is restrained by the American constitution with its separation of powers and checks and balances. But only restrained, not made powerless. And he is doing everything he can to attack not just the constitution but also simple values – such as loving one's neighbour – that I hold dear.
His recent retweeting of hate videos from Britain First has suddenly made it less easy for me to feel detached from the Donald Trump show playing on the other side of the Atlantic. It's got personal. He is trying to make us in the UK demonise Muslims because they are Muslims and I can't be having that.
I want to get out on the streets to physically do something to protect ourselves and our neighbours. As soon as I know when he's visiting the UK I'll be buying tickets to any venue where I may be able to register a protest that he might see. It's little enough but then I'm just a little guy. But I've got to do something! The spirit of Cable Street is not dead. Come and join me.
Scotland's public sector appears to be unsustainable. As part of the UK we share a structural deficit in government spending that can only be fixed by cuts, borrowing, or putting up taxes. Tax increases take resources from the private sector, making it more difficult for it to grow, and it is only by private sector growth that government income is likely to increase in the future. A massive downgrade in the Office for Budget Responsibility's UK growth forecast unveiled by the chancellor last month made gloomy reading.
So how do we protect social democracy in these circumstances? Neoliberalism promotes deregulation and 'free markets' although tending to ignore the need for a robust regulatory framework to make them function fairly. In the absence of universal standards and application of common laws, trade blocks have developed with uniform internal rules, and more integration between blocks is likely. Brexit Britain will be a satellite at best, and its inhabitants may be wide open to exploitation.
How do we even maintain median living standards in such conditions? Well, institutions inevitably lag behind the impact of technological development. While they may seek to accommodate social and economic change, they have not yet begun to recognise how technology is driving globalisation through dispersal. These are the two sides of the same coin. Data storage and energy are examples of dispersal, while innovation itself develops increasingly through global nodes rather than central hubs.
A monolithic, top-down, imperial administrative system persists in Scotland, and government action at all levels is often slow and unfocused. An effective remedy could be to model our structure of governance on how technology is developing and give individuals and communities much more control. That means switching from central authority to devolution and dispersal of employment and resources, with local accountability, cutting out obsolete layers of process and management. The EU defines this as 'subsidiarity' and has sought to implement the concept.
By applying subsidiarity internally, Scotland can reform its public services to meet the challenges of the 21st century and maintain a cohesive society. This is a pivotal time, and decisions made currently could in retrospect be given a significance which may not be apparent to us. The Scottish government encourages innovation and increased productivity in the private sector, and needs to apply this equally in its own management of the public sector.
A good start would be to not increase income tax to provide a blanket public sector pay rise, when many in the private sector have had none. Public sector jobs and pensions are taxpayer guaranteed, providing a level of security impossible for the private sector to match. Why burden private sector employees, who will obtain increased wages only by increased productivity, with paying for institutional inertia in the public sector? Why shouldn't the same conditions apply?
The Scottish government needs to grasp this thistle and accept that fundamental change is required in how Scotland's governance structures function.