Thursday, September 28, 2006


The Scotsman have published the first paragraph of a letter from me today on an ongoing discussion of the proposal to spend £600 million on a rail link to Turnhouse airport:

The SNP's objection does not appear to be to a rail link to Turnhouse airport in principle (letters 26th sept) but to the Executive's desire to spend £600 million on a tunnel under the runway when it would be perfectly possible to build a station on the main line to Glasgow (possibly the Aberdeen line as well) connected to the airport by a moving walkway for probably only a few hundred thousand pounds.
Unfortunately they decided not to publish the remaining parts or to name my new persona, which is a little surprising since they have regularly mentioned Ian Brodie's Scottish Enterprise Party which is not noticeably larger. My addition has been put on the comments section. A slightly different version of the full letter was yesterday sent out some other Scottish papers.

Recently the executive decided to spend £200+million on a rail link to Glasgow airport despite having a proposal to build a a monorail to Paisley Gilmour St for £20 million (there being trains from Paisley to Glasgow & indeed Prestwick every few minutes). I happen to know this because, as, at the time, a member of the Liberal Democrats I was invited to find some company interested in quoting for a monorail (or arguably brushed off with that suggestion) & when I did so was informed they didn't really mean it & such a proposal would have to come from the party leadership. Such a monorail would also have improved access between Glasgow & Prestwick airports allowing them to act somewhat as a hub.

Equally on several occasions your columns have featured proposals from Roy Pedersen & others to build a tunnel under the Forth at between a half & a quarter of the £1 billion expected for a bridge. This has also been rejected by the Executive for no clearly defined reason.

Like Adam Smith I am in favour of government being willing to invest in our infrastructure but it should be done on sensible terms not always going for the ridiculously expensive option.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Here is a quote from Newsweek magazine:

“There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production– with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth.”

A headline in the New York Times reads: “Climate Changes Endanger World’s Food Output.” Here is a quote from Time Magazine:

“As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval.”

All of this sounds very ominous. That is, until you realize that the three quotes I just read were from articles in 1975 editions of Newsweek Magazine and The New York Times, and Time Magazine in 1974.,23657,944914,00.html

They weren’t referring to global warming; they were warning of a coming ice age.

This is part of a very thorough & intelligent speech by Senator Inhofe of the US on the whole global warming fanfare. It is long & detailed but worth reading. It is impossible to imagine any of the persons in Holyrood making the equivalent.

In dissecting the case he shows exactly how the media & "environmentalist" politicians have lied, over years, to frighten us with the fear that we are all doomed by global warming so that we will let them have more power over us. Anyone watching the papers or TV can now see how the phrase "global warming" is being thoroughly revised into "climate change" thus leaving the way open to another round of scares about global cooling.

I accuse the BBC, who have a legal duty to impartiality, of having been in the lead in pushing the eco-fascist warming scare & denying any coverage to those who express doubts.*

*There goes the chance of the 9% Growth Party getting anything remotely like the coverage the Greens get from the "impartial" BBC - but losing zero chance isn't much loss.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


With a recent Horizon episode (13th July) on the pointed failure of radiation released at Chernobyl to produce a 10s of thousands of deaths predicted & indeed the possible benefit of low & intermediate level radiation (an effect known as hormesis) perhaps your readers would be interested in an even more clear cut case.

In 1983 a group of 180 apartment buildings was completed in Taiwan. Somebody had made a serious mistake. They had mixed into the concrete a considerable amount of highly radioactive cobalt 60. This meant that ultimately 10,000 people lived in buildings for from 9 to 20 years so radioactive that they received an average of 74 mSv of radiation per year in 1983, declining thereafter as cobalt 60 has a half life of 5 ½ years. This compares with a rate of 0.5 mSv above background which is the normal maximum exposure for radiation workers & total of 15 mSv maximum safe limit for land fit for habitation according to US government standards. According to the linear no threshold (LNT) theory currently in use world-wide for assessing nuclear risks there is no lower limit to the level at which radioactivity kills (hence the term "no threshold") & this, inhabited for a decade & a half before the radioactivity was traced & measured, should be the site of a truly massive cancer death rate. It isn't.

A thorough & methodical tracing of all the 4,000 families by a team led by W. L Chen of Taiwan's Director of Medical Radiation Technology of Taiwan's National Yang-Ming University (the full report is available in English on ) has resulted in an unequivocal & spectacular result. Cancer rates in that highly radioactive building are down to 3.6% of prevailing Taiwanese rates.

For many years there has been an unfashionable alternative to the LNT theory called hormesis. This is an effect, long observed in plants & cultures, whereby intermediate level radioactivity actually stimulates life & improves health. < There has been significant evidence for this (the deaths at Hiroshima did not appear to fit the LNT pattern, there are places in India & Iran with background radiation of 15mSv or higher with no observed increase in cancer & numerous studies of radon in homes have found a reverse correlation between radon levels & cancer - deleted >. Nonetheless, such has been our fear of all things nuclear that the LNT theory has been absolutely accepted despite the fact that there has NEVER been any actual evidence for it. This study, however, is so detailed, has such well-defined boundary conditions & in proving a reduction in cancers of 96.4% has such a clear result that there can no longer be any intellectual doubt whatsoever. Radioactivity, up to 50mSv, is good for us.
Yours Sincerely
Neil Craig

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


2011, IN THE NEXT 12





Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Let no politician from any other party tell you that just because they have only been able to grow Scotland at 1.5%, 9% is not an entirely possible goal. Ireland managed an average of 7% over many years & a peak of 10.5%, China has averaged 10, Russia & the Baltic states have averaged 8% & world average growth is now calculated at 5% annually. We can get as far above the world average as we have been below it.

If we do not improve our economic performance the people of Scotland will be poorer than the average Chinese in 25 years time which would be a dreadful legacy to leave to the next generation.

Ireland & most of the others did this by cutting Corporation Tax to 12.5% & cutting regulations. We would do so also & expect, with Scotland's more entrepreneurial tradition, higher educational standards & scientific & technology base, together with the guarantee of unlimited inexpensive nuclear electricity, to do even better. While ultimate authority for corporation tax lies with Westminster Scotland could negotiate a cut so long as we were willing to fund it.- alternately Holyrood has the authority to provide rebates directly to businesses equal to a proportion of their tax. An increased Gross National Product, by definition, provides the best overall income to everybody.. To often politicians are beholden to special interest groups, of left, right or more often of government jobsworths all of whom may see getting a larger slice of the national cake for themselves as better than increasing it for everybody.

This gives a detailed run down of the causes of Ireland's success.

WE CAN MATCH & EXCEED IRELAND'S SUCCESS - THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FOR SCOTLAND'S FUTURE & ONLY THE 9% GROWTH PARTY IS WILLING TO GO TREAT IT AS SERIOUSLY AS IT DESERVES (though to be fair the SNP have made some stab at trying for 4% & the Labour party said at the last election that growth would be their "first priority" but have done nothing since)


Scotland is facing the loss of 50% of current electricity generation beginning with Hunterston in 2011. If we do nothing by then we will face massive winter blackouts & deaths.

24,000 British pensioners already die annually because of fuel poverty. We can & should build reactors like those of France which provide 85% of that nation's power at 1.5p a unit (& allow them to make major exports - 5% of UK electricity is French nuclear). Even Labour who are, belatedly, coming round to nuclear, intend to spend 5 years licensing French or Canadian reactor types & checking to see if Hunterston can be used as a a site before even starting to build - this is ridiculous when we face blackouts in 2011.


A century ago a house & car cost about the same. Cars have since improved far more than houses because housebuilding has been so firmly regulated. We would introduce a Housing Act removing most restrictions on housebuilding, except in national parks & conservation areas. We would also use a limited programme of guaranteed purchase to encourage the introduction of mass production off-site processes to industry (nearly a century after Henry Ford applied them to cars).


A recent House of Lords report confirmed that the smoking ban was not scientifically justified on health grounds.. The initial US figures which set off the whole passive smoking debate/rant said the passive smoking killed 3,000 Americans annually. For reasons given in the speech below even this is a figure which can't be considered proven, but even accepting it for the sake of argument on a population basis that is equivalent to a Scottish death rate of 50 annually. The current First Minister promised that his ban would save 1,000 lives in Scotland annually - this is a statement which obviously cannot be justified as even slightly truthful on factual ground & if elected I promise to say so, in Parliamentary language naturally.


An X-Prize is a prize awarded for some scientific or technical achievement. The recent $10 million dollar prize for the first private enterprise spaceship was done on this basis & another exists for the first orbital flight. We should set up an X-Prize Foundation for Scotland funded primarily from Scotland's share of the National Lottery money plus any private donations all matched £ for £ with government money. Such prizes have a very good record throughout history of stimulating inovation. They also have the considerable advantage over most government activity of not costing anything if they don't achieve results. Hopefully this could be expanded to cover all of Britain in time


Docklands Light Rail runs fully automatically, Currently apparently serious consideration is being given to establishing a bullet train between Glasgow & Edinburgh despite it being costed at £3 billion. The current line could be automated for a small fraction of that cost, since it would involve only electronic controls with very little rebuilding. It would provide a system almost as fast, since wating time would be eliminated, far cheaper to run, more flexible & useable 24 hours a day.


Any politician who says that you can get everything without some cost is selling you a line. I promise to treat the electors like adults. Currently 54% of Scotland's GNP is government spending. No independent free enterprise economy has or can sustain such a rate. Scotland also spends 25% more per person on services & gets, on balance, worse service for it. We will support modern efficient management without idealogical strings. We will freeze all current ministerial budgets & put a limit on hiring new civil servants in any department which has not achieved 2% manpower cuts annually (this is less than the normal retirement rate & sp can be done without redundancies). We would also look at each ministry for areas where costs do not match achievements or indeed, as often happens, conflict with other government spending & cut ruthlessly.

For example Scottish Enterprise spends £500 million annually. If we accept that politicians spending our money are less adept at picking business winners than experienced investors spending their own then obviously the Scottish Enterprise money could be much better motivated by spending SE's money on business tax cuts. We accept that there are cases where politicians have a strategic overview that allows them to choose options not, in practice, open to normal investors but the fact that so much of SE's money is being wasted on such things as making "Scotland a world leader in windfarms" show that there decisions have been made entirely on political rather than economic interests. This is a complete waste of money.

There is no serious doubt that industry would benefit more from having its taxes cut by that much. We would continue this process even after growth has been achieved & would therefore, in due course, but only when financially prudent, make the 3p "tartan tax" income tax cut available.


The GHA have decided that high rise housing is no longer politically correct. Rather than knocking down some of the highest blocks of flats in Europe we wouild encourage GHA to offer them FREE to their occupants, subject to a strong agreement with professional factors. Experience worldwide ()& in the Glasgow Harbour development) shows that high rise living can be very attractive when well managed. Since it doesn't involve the expense of demolition or of rehousing many occupants this would actually save money as well as allowing people to keep their homes.


EU membership costs Britain £40 billion a year in direct payments & regulatory costs. The EU is also the slowest growing area of the world, worse than Africa. We would seek only associate status like Norway or even, if invited, join NAFTA.

We absolutely oppose the illegal wars which politicians so often see as "making their place in history". We support the rule of International Law & oppose our illegal wars. Both because the destruction of International Law makes the world a much more dangerous place & because it costs us far more than any benefit. For the cost of taking & holding Kosovo (about $50 billion) we could have had the Moon, Earth orbital industry & solar-power satellites, for the cost of Iraq ($500 billion) we could have had the entire solar system & probes to nearby stars for humanity.

Immigration cannot continue at current rates without damaging Britain's present culture. The suggestion that Scotland needs immigrants to replace people we are losing is rubbish - we lose many of our best people to migration because we have a badly run economy & have a low rate of childbearing because regulation prevents the building of inexpensive family homes - these are both the fault of bad government & will not be permanently masked by immigration. It is worth noting that both Japan & Korea have a 0.00% immigration rate & while this is so low as to discourage cultural innovation we could certainly improve the situation massively.

There is no evidence that global warming on a catastrophic scale is taking place. During the late Roman period grapes grew in York. During the medieval warming period there were dairy farm in Greenland. Both were warmer than now & were prosperous times. In the words of the writer H.L. Mencken "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary". Global warming, & the previous scare by "environmentalists" that we were heading for a new ice age if we didn't dismantle our economy are hobgoblins put about by politicians who want to control you.

The 9% growth party is not about controlling people, it is about letting us (both Scots & the entire human race) achieve our potential.


Undernoted are a series of policy motions & speeches I created while a member of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Last December the Party Executive voted that I should be expelled on the grounds that these ideas, some of which I had mentioned in letters to newspapers, were "illiberal". After a vigorous defence in which I was able to show that they were all in the mainstream of classic liberal opinion this initial charge was withdrawn & I was, instead, expelled on a charge of openly objecting to being expelled!


Creating a favourable environment for business & recapturing Scotland's spirit of enterprise & innovation were central aims in the Party's 2003 Election Manifesto.

Conference notes:

1 the importance of creating an environment favourable to business in Scotland.

2 the key long term role that sustainable economic growth must play in ending poverty.

Conference therefore calls on the Scottish Executive to

(i) set up a Parliamentary Committee charged with actively reducing the burden of legislation on business, particularly small businesses

(ii) provide special assistance to individuals & small businesses seeking to register international patents & copyright

(iii) ease building & zoning regulations outside conservation areas

(iv) make a substantial reduction to corporation tax in Scotland

(v) target skills training on areas of high unemployment

(vi) benchmarking growth in Scotland against growth in the UK as a whole & in other OECD countries

(vii) undertaking not to increase the real tax take on business by more than 1% per annum until growth has exceeded the average of the UK & OECD

Scotland's economy is in serious trouble. We are consistently growing at at least 1% less than the UK as a whole. Currently we are marginally poorer than Spain which makes us the 2nd poorest western European country after Portugal & if either we discount the receipts & multiplier effect from the Barnet formula or wait a few years we will be the poorest. On the other hand Ireland which was in a not much better position in 1989 is now per capita the world's 4th wealthiest sizeable country.

What happened is that in 1989 they started liberalizing the economy - reducing business tax substantially & cutting regulation. This has received an undeservedly slight amount of coverage in our media & is often claimed to be put down to Ireland's independence (1921) or joining the EEC (1974) or having citizens abroad sending back money (19th Century). Since their spectacular growth of up to 9% per annum was first measured in 1991 I think the cause is fairly obvious. Note that this achievement has not been made by 5 year plans or starving the peasantry to buy machine tools or building nuclear power stations or any major sacrifice (although the politically correct brigade are now sacrificing their pubs).

This motion was designed to gently start things here going in the same direction.

(i) is designed to put cutting red tape on every MSP's agenda. I am not one of those who believe MSPs are lazy or in it for themselves - it might be better if they were not so hard working. Those who enter Holyrood want to achieve things & the traditional way of doing so is to pass a law or regulation. Unfortunately all such have side effects & when taken together can produce an impenetrable hedge of regulation. Setting up a commission to cut regulation is handing the MSPs pruning shears & giving them a job to do.

(ii) Small companies are far more innovative than large ones - this has been proven time & again. On the other hand they don't have as large legal depts. By taking on the legal burden of securing patents worldwide we could encourage innovative small businesses here & in the long term it would be repaid manyfold.

(iii) See the building motion for arguments.

(iv) Corporation tax is actually a reserved matter but I have no doubt that if we went to Westminster & offered to pay Scotland's share of this out of our current grant (& the Treasury experts were to assure Gordon Brown that this would have a net positive effect on our & therefore 8% of the UK economy) he would accept. Assuming that our corporation tax is, like our income tax, 7% of the UK's a 50% cut would cost a bit over 1 billion. This would cause some pain but without it the programme is just waffle. This is the only part that costs serious money, cutting regulations actually saves it.

(v) Obvious

(vi) Basically Jim would have to stand up in Parliament & accept plaudits or brickbats on how we are matching our targets. Concentrates the mind wonderfully.

(vii) This is a self denying ordinance not to kill the goose after it starts laying. Currently an undertaking not to increase industry taxes by more than 1% costs us nothing. With the economy growing at roughly that rate, we can't anyway. While such a party promise cannot be legally enforced parties do not like to be seen to openly lying. This would help to create an air of business confidence in our long term future & a justified confidence if it was kept.


Conference calls on the Scottish Parliament to offer a prize of 20 million pounds to the first Scottish group to soft land a vehicle on an asteroid by 2050

This is the wording of yet another motion I had put to conference, in 1992. The fact that it was rejected for debate with considerable amusement did not particularly surprise of distress me.

Though I had proposed it in a slightly tongue in cheek attention grabber it is a quite seriously useful proposal. The prize is 3 times that put up as the X-Prize for the first commercial space trip, of which nobody had heard then, but which has since produced Burt Rutan's successful Spaceship one.

The total cost of this would be a maximum of 20 million over 48 years.

The advantages, as I saw it, would have been
1) It would be valuable publicity - this is the sort of thing the media lap up though perhaps not totally seriously (the subsequent popular reaction to Beagle 2, even tho' it failed strongly suggests to me that it would have been popular)

2) It would have encouraged the satellite manufacturing industry ($1 billion a year & growing 20%) to locate in Scotland which is exactly the sort of hi-tech we need.

3) The next generation of space development (after we have got cheap launching) will involve the sort of technology that a small remotely handled probe going to the asteroid belt would make a test bed for.

4) Anything that could give us a claim to a hunk of millions of tons of heavy metals including several % gold & platinum would be likely to be cost effective.

5) If it doesn't succeed it wouldn't cost anything - somewhat unlike every other government programme.

6) I think space development is the most important human activity since, at least, the age of Columbus & I would like my country (Scot or UK) to be part of it. In 100 years time nobody will know what a Black Watch does but they may know who first landed on an asteroid.

7) If it was proposed & was not legislated into existence on the grounds the "space travel is utter bilge" the party (or individual heh heh) would later be able to say I told you so.

On a larger scale something similar would work for the UK.


1) Replace the Town & Country Planning Act 1947 effectively denationalising the right to develop land. Retain controls only in National Parks, Green Belts & Conservation Areas.

2) Produce a national scheme of building type approval rather than the current site by site approval which causes immense duplication of effort & prevents the mass production methods used successfully in other industries.

3) Benchmark a target of 30,000 new build homes per annum as the only way to stop house price inflation.

4) Make land hoarding uneconomic, introduce a Land Valuation Tax on empty land & property within 1/2 miles of a built up area. Such taxation not to apply to National Parks, Green Belts & Conservation Areas. To keep this revenue neutral business rates to be reduced by an equal amount.

5) Provide an interest free bridging loan of 20,000 pounds to any off site manufactured home for the period from completion of manufacture until installation & a grant of 5,000 pounds to direct purchasers of such homes, so long as they are for their personal use as first homes. This system to last only until the benchmark figure has been reached.

Much of this is taken from Why is Construction So Backward by Woodhuysen et al

The intent of the motion was to make more houses available more cheaply to everybody. Some years ago a US report said that at least 40% of housing costs were regulatory. My long term bet for the UK now would be 75%. The order & reasons for & against as the clauses were voted down were:

1) To allow people to build pretty much as they want. There are Highland towns which are being killed because young people cannot afford houses because unbuilt plots cost 40,000 each (320,000 an acre) while farmland on the other side of a fence costs 1,200 an acre - the objection was that there was no way conference would support this, which I recognise as true & was willing to cut

5) This is to kickstart the industry. Most builders have relatively little capital but any bank shown a guarantee to purchase like this would be much more willing to lend, the flat rate of loan/grant particularly helps low cost housing - the objection was that we should not interfere with the free market to help a rising industry

4) Self explanatory - the objections were that we should scrap doing this & come back with a general land tax later & that it is improper to make anything revenue neutral when taxes can be increased

3)Self explanatory - the objection was that there are other ways of damming up demand for example raising taxes

2) By producing a national approval scheme builders of prefabricated properties would be able to mass produce knowing that purchasers were automatically able use their house without piddling changes - the objection was that we have to much mass production, housing has been getting worse since the building of canals allowed the mass production & transportation of bricks, creating central planning restriction in addition to rather than instead of local would be ok


If you would like to help this movement or just to receive future communications please email
write to 9% Growth, 200 Woodlands Rd., Glasgow G3 6LN
phone 0141 353 3975

Neil Craig

FREE TRADE - Confernence Speech Oct 2005

I will support anything in the above relating to Western protectionism & the need to help the 3rd world. It is immoral that the average European cow receives a subsidy of £900 whereas the average Sierra Leonese lives on £300 a year.

However, sections 1 & 2 of the motion call for protectionism, particularly of "domestic food production". This is not a new idea. Britain used to do this until, with the rise of the urban working class & the Liberal Party, they were able to force the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1842. Since then Liberalism & free trade have been synonymous to everybody's benefit. Fairly free trade has worked for South Korea, Singapore & the US. Protectionism failed North Korea, Burma & Ethiopia. India, China & New Zealand all used to practice protectionism & had low growth. All have now moved to fairly free trade & have high growth.

To tell the people of the 3rd world that they will develop by protectionism is a cruel deception which runs counter to all historical experience.

Section 3 call for the creation of an OPEC style cartel for ALL other commodities specifically for the purpose of "raising prices" & "ending (over)-supply". What this means, on the ground, is that somebody somewhere is going to be physically prevented from making a living.

In the case of coffee, the primary target of the self-styled "fair trade" movement, this will be Vietnam. This country, which our ally bombed, if not "into the Stone Age" as they promised, certainly into generations of poverty, is now developing by, among other things, competing successfully in the international coffee market.

But if "over-supply" is to be prevented how will our cartel enforce renewed poverty on the people of Vietnam? By the use of Agent Orange perhaps for that is where this proposal leads.

The good intentions of the proposers are not in doubt but good intentions are not enough. We are talking about the lives of billions of people & we have to get it right. This motion does not do so & I ask you to reject it.
Free Trade is the basic principle on which the old Liberal party was founded AND IT WORKS. The party have turned their back on 2 centuries of liberalism & all common sense in adopting a motion that holds North Korea & Burma as more successful economies than South Korea & Hong Kong.

INDUSTRIAL POLITICAL CORRECTNESS OFFICERS - Speech against what became SLD policy - Oct conference 2005

Section 1 here is absolutely correct - Scots have a history of creating & developing businesses worldwide & WE desperately need to let them do the same here.

Unfortunately there is NOTHING in this motion which does that.

In the Allander Report on growing the Scottish economy one complaint was the propensity of politicians to make all the right noises about growth & then go do whatever they wanted in the first place.

That is what this motion does.

In a similar way Jack McConnell has said that growth is his "first priority" but, apart from being the man who raised business rates in the first place, has done nothing. However the fact that he said it proves HE knows growth is the first priority of voters. If we are ever to EARN a position as Scotland's largest party it will be because WE have provably made economic growth our true first priority.

Instead this motion would load wealth creators down with an entire new class of inspectors, committed not to any measurable standards but merely to general political correctness, rigidly enforceable on anybody who has to do business with the 54% of the economy that is the state. If this motion had been made truly voluntary I would have had no problem with it but a compulsory enforcement of government political correctness inspectors is a bad thing.

Scotland has had the lowest growth rate in Europe, itself the slowest growing continent on Earth.

That is why WE have recently cut business taxes & Nicol Stephen said, at Federal Conference, that we need further cuts to kickstart growth as Ireland has so spectacularly done.

I believe that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with Scotland which would make it impossible for us to match, or exceed, Ireland -

Their growth of 7% a year over 15 years has nearly tripled their GNP while ours has gone up barely 20%.

Ireland achieved this, not just by cutting business taxes, but also by cutting regulation.

This motion, obviously, does the opposite.

Worse - section 3 calls for wealth creators to be made "accountable" for satisfying the "expectations" of all & sundry including "special interest groups".

This is a blank cheque which could stifle any growing business.

Finally - will political correctness inspectors increase productivity & cut costs?

It says so right here on the tin in section 4 - & I do not believe it. If it were so the directors of Asda would not have to be forced to ask the builders of Holyrood how to cut costs.

If you are also unable to believe this PROMISE you CANNOT, cannot, in good conscience, vote for it & I ask you not to.
They could & did.


On motion to ban smoking in public places:
Section (a) of this motion calls on us to support it only if the case is clearly proven. It isn't. A BMJ statistical analysis found only slight statistical significance when 48 studies were combined. Looked at separately only seven showed significant excesses of lung cancer meaning 41 did not. Further the combined risk was merely 24 percent, also called a "relative risk" of 1.24. Such tiny relative risks are considered meaningless, given the myriad pitfalls in epidemiological studies. "As a general rule of thumb" says the editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine Marcia Angell, "we are looking for a relative risk of 3 or more" before even accepting a paper for publication. According to the National Cancer Institute "Relative risks of less than 2 are considered small & are usually difficult to interpret. Such increases may be due to chance, statistical bias or the effect of some other effect not evident". The main exception to that rule comes when the study is extremely large, but such was not the case with the BMJ analysis. The studies showing excess disease comprised only 1,388 people in total. By contrast a recent study implicating obesity as a cause of early death contained more than three hundred & twenty THOUSAND subjects.

So where does this leave us? Do we know passive smoking doesn't cause lung cancer. No. But we do know that either it does not, or that if it does the risk is so tiny as to be unmeasureable. Does this mean that passive smoking poses no health risks? No. It makes sense that it would aggravate asthma if nothing else. Does it mean that just because smokers arn't murdering other people, they're not still engaged in a nasty, expensive habit that greatly increases their own chances of sickness & premature death? Definitely not. But it does mean that we cannot legitimately limit people's freedom on the basis of this alleged risk to others.

Over the next few years Ireland & New York will be able to produce substantial statistical populations & they may prove the banner's case. Or they may disprove it. Or & this is my bet, modern air extraction systems, which can remove 96% of smoke, may be proven effective. We shall see.

Some years ago, to the obvious embarassment of the leadership, the federal party voted to examine lightening the criminal burden on cannabisusers. I remember a TV news programme immediately after in which a Mr Michael Howard we were wrong because nobody should ever, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever even think about thinking about any sort of reform. With it's well known commitment to balance the BBC then interviewed his shadow, Mr Jack Straw who said his opinion was a little more hardline than that. He has clearly changed his mind.

I was very proud of our party that day. It seemed to me that we were acting in the best traditions of classic Liberalism. Having been the first to call for some decriminalisation of cannabis, despite some dubious medical claims, I would be sorry to see us leading the way towards the effective criminalisation of tobacco. Thus I urge you to reject this motion.(they passed it by a large majority - we will see)

(I would like to acknowledge that the section "A BMJ ......... Definitely not" was listed almost verbatim from a site I reccomend to anybody who believes themselves a free thinker on environmental subjects)________________________________________________


I wish now to speak particularly in favour of section A of the motion about Highlands & Islands airports.Currently we subsidise these airports by 2/3rds of their operating costs & have done so for years with no disapproval from the EU. The rest is raised from landing charges. Unfortunately traffic at these airports is so small that the landing charges per person are nonetheless prohibitive. I checked recently & found that a flight to Barra would cost £27 but it would cost £33 to land.Much of the cost of these airports is because they have the same regulatory framework as larger airports. For example approximately 20% of running costs are for security. This, for example means £16.62 is spent per head on keeping bin Laden out of Tiree. Equally each airport is required to keep its own fire brigade. Firemen at Heathrow expect to go through their entire working lives without having to attend a fire – nonetheless when dealing with 30,000 people a day this is a necessary cost. I would argue that it is not when dealing with 5,000 people a year. There are other ways to save expense such as putting the management out to tender & putting runway maintenance in the lands of local authority roads depts. If we could reduce running expenses by 1/3rd these airports could be run with no landing charges at allThe Scottish Parliament has authority over this regulatory regime. The whole point about devolution is that from a nearer perspective it is possible to produce solutions which would not be apparent from London. This is a clear example & we should use it.High landing charges are the main thing detering low cost airlines. In the example I gave earlier the total cost was £60. Were there to be no landing charges it would be £27. Were a no frills airline involved I expect it would roughly halve & were the number of passengers to skyrocket, as seems likely it could halve again. Here we get to the point where, assuming a monorail connection to Glasgow as I suggested earlier, it would be possible to get to Barra from Glasgow for roughly the price it now takes to get a taxi to Glasgow airport.2/3rds of Highland Air passengers are tourists who, quite reasonably, complain about the fact that it is more expensive than flying to Paris. The benefits to the Highlands & Islands & to our share of the world's fastest growing industry, tourism, of making travel accessible can hardly be underestimated. Certainly Barra can never hope to match the attractions of Eurodisney but we should not be so modest as to forget that, for a significant portion of the populations of Europe & America, Eurodisney can never hope to match the attractions of Barra.Consequently I ask you to support the motion & I hope our party in government will make use of such a mandate.

Monday, September 11, 2006



I wish to speak specifically against the amendment to this motion. Unlike the motion itself which gives reasons for its case, the amendment simply states as a matter of doctrine that nuclear energy must be disposed of. Since this means the loss of 40% of Scotland's electricity within 10 or, with a certain amount of juggling, 15 years I think we are owed a solid justification. Since the main motion hopes for an increase from 11 to 21% of our wind, water & solar capacity this still leaves an overall reduction of 30% on our current capacity. Assuming that over the next 10 years the economy will grow at 2.5% we will have a shortfall of nearly 60% of current capacity. The only option other than rationing is a massive programme of building coal, gas & oil generators & which would obviously involve tearing up the Koyoto Treaty. For the Scottish Liberal Democrats to vote for such a policy would be, & would be seen to be, grossly irresponsible. The example of California should be a warning. There the richest part of the richest society in the world is suffering regular power blackouts because for the last 20 years political considerations have prevented the building of generating capacity.

At the slight risk of being burned at the stake as a heretic I now intend to speak in favour of nuclear power.It has been calculated by Professor Cohen of Pittsburgh that, even if there were no other source, uranium particles recovered from seawater could keep our present nuclear power industry going for 5 billion years, whereas the sun is expected to explode in five & a half. It must therefore be considered as pretty sustainable. In general terms nuclear energy is competitive with coal & significantly cheaper than oil or gas. The French are currently generating 77% of their power atomically. They are also profitably selling power to all their neighbours, including us.

The basic arguments used against following their example are the risk caused by accidents, waste disposal & leakage of low level radiation. They are all wrong. The worst accident was at Chernobyl in 1986 caused by the Soviet notorious neglect of safety. As a result 10/20,000 deaths were predicted. Despite the most minute tracking of variations in cancer rates the total currently stands at 45. By comparison in another Soviet accident, in 1989, 570 people on a train died in a gas pipeline explosion. The total of deaths in the following 15 years is 2, in Japan. Bearing in mind that we are talking about creating nearly 20% of all humanity's energy for that period this is a safety record not even approached by any other industry in human history. At the same time to mine coal we tolerate the deaths of hundreds of thousands annually worldwide from black lung & an unquantified but large number from emphysema when we burn it. Waste disposal is truly a non-problem. Reactor waste is very nasty stuff but there is no technical difficulty in turning it into glass producing an entire cubic metre per reactor year. This can be stored in a very deep hole where it will be safe for millions of years. This is not even a problem for our remote descendants since a highly radioactive material is, by definition, one with a relatively short half-life. After 10 years reactor waste radioactivity is reduced a thousandfold. After 500 it is less radioactive than the ore originally mined. This is also why decommissioning reactors is normally unnecessary. Just lock the door & leave it. Recent research on radiation has shown it is not the threat we thought. Classically estimates of the danger of low level radiation have been based on the theory that there was a linear progression from say 5000milliSieverts (a level which will kill 50% of people within a month) to zero with no safe limit in between. Purely because it was a very conservative assumption it was proper to use it when we had no better model. We do now. Following the failure of Chernobyl to satisfy the theoretical predictions statistical examinations have been made of victims of the Hiroshima & Nagasaki bombs, people who worked with radium & most importantly hundreds of thousands of tests of radon in homes. The results have consistently shown that at low levels, below 150 milliSvs radiation has no bad effect. Indeed the radon tests have actually shown a negative correlation between radioactivity & cancer. This is not as strange as it seems. Many things are dangerous in large dose but beneficial in small. 1 aspirin may cure you but 1000 will kill. By comparison you & I will normally have a dose of 2mSvs a year, nuclear workers & uranium miners get 2.5 & airline pilots, because they work at high altitude, get about 6.

In conclusion it is clear that the only thing we have to fear from nuclear electricity is fear itself. This is not a good reason to prepare ourselves for blackouts. The human race has an unlimited future if we will only reach out for it.Anyone who wants to check what I have said should surf or nuclear

What is the 9% Growth Party?

The Classic Liberals for 9% GROWTH PARTY is committed to long term growth at a rate reaching & ultimately maintaining 9% per annum. Experience with the world's most successful economies shows that this can be achieved by the policies of Liberty & the economic ideas close to those of Adam Smith & the founders of Liberalism. We also believe that virtually all economic progress follows from scientific & technological progress, that high technology is inately more efficient & thus less polluting & that scientific progress embodies the the best of the human spirit.

Neil Craig
classic liberals for 9% GROWTH Party

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