Cultural Quotient: Cooking up the Future

What is it?

Cultural differences result in practical differences of political and commercial practice. For example, contrast the views of political elites in China and American. China’s political elite focus on strategy.  The process of foreign policy for China is one which is measured in decades. This is informed by their world view of ‘exceptionalism’: China is unique and is playing the long game against the world. American foreign policy focuses on short to mid-term benefits. This is a direct result of the short term election cycles demanding accountability. Politicians want to show that they can deliver on their promises.  The result? America wants detailed plans with lots of check points; China wants to look at the final outcome.

Bluntly, these differences mean that if you walk into a meeting room in Italy and England and give the same presentation you would be singularly unsuccessful. As an Italian, I recognise that many Italians – based on their education which focuses on theory – prefer understanding concepts and applying themselves rather than the more British approach of bullet pointing the solution.

Of course, politics and business represent two snapshots where cultural differences impact on outcomes. It can extend into almost every sphere. America applied it to the military. The US Army ran a program named a “Human Terrain System” (HTS). In 2005, McFate and Jackson identified deficiencies in the command echelons of the US army in understanding its field of operations (Afghanistan and Iraq). Consequently, the Army introduced HTS which embedded anthropologists with units in order to give them a better understanding of ethnic groups in the region. Highly controversial, the impact is unclear; a benevolent interpretation however fits HTS into a world which increasingly pursues understanding.

How does it work?

Ang, Van Dyne & Livermore (three prominent academics in the field) break CQ down into four parts. The first is the CQ-Drive. This is the a person’s interest in making effective links in culturally diverse settings. Secondly, CQ-Knowledge seeks to identify how much a person actually knows about different cultures. Thirdly, CQ-Strategy quantifies an individual’s ability to analyse their multi-cultural experiences. Finally, CQ-Actions is the ability of an individual to put their learning and reflection on multi-cultural differences into practice.

This is quite technical, so let’s render this more simply: cultural intelligence is a bit like cooking. View the Drive as the reason for cooking. The Knowledge is the recipe. The Strategy is the picking of the recipe. Action is the ability to actually cook.

This analogy is useful because it underlines something very obvious: CQ is part-intuitive and part-learned. You can gain a reason to cook and you can certainly learn recipes, but the gut feeling of which is the right recipe to use or the ability to judge whether this particular fish requires a little more garlic to bring out the flavour is something you either have or don’t have.

Either way, it is vital to be able to use CQ because it allows you to take the best every culture has to offer. The point is that rather than being fault lines which separate team members you can use them to build the unit to cover each other’s faults.

Why now?

A basic answer would point to globalisation. Dr. Henry Kissinger, speaking to The Economist, defined the present as the first time in history we have a global international system. Every part of the world can affect every other part of the world by its actions. There are ever more reasons pushing individuals from different countries and cultures together. And there is a consequence ever greater need to be able to work effectively in this environment.

But if you accept the “basic answer”, you haven’t been paying attention. This is because the mere ‘push’ of people together is unlikely to provide enough CQ-Drive. Often, enforced proximity may result in further entrenchment of one’s own views against a perceived “encroachment”. In fact it is precisely the sense of haplessness and inevitable arrival of the ‘other’ that has provided a swell of nationalism across the Western world.

The critical difference is that some people have no choice but to work with individuals from foreign cultures. These individuals compete against one another, and in this fight-to-survive world, CQ provides a form of Darwinian edge – and thus snowballing its effectiveness.

If this conclusion is correct, it suggests that as more industries have no choice but to work cross-culturally the importance of CQ will continue to grow. Capitalist economics will allow no other approach because understanding the individual sitting across from you in a negotiation is an edge that cannot be ignored.

Donald Trump: An International Problem

If you are American you should be ashamed. Successful politicians have long been said to stand for whatever other people will fall for. But the American people seem to be falling for a lot.

A Dark Past

It is difficult to see what makes Trump particular adept at politics. For a man who is interested in money only insofar as it helps him to “keep track” of the “game”, he seems to has tarred himself with a series of dubious brushes. There are three vital parts to his character that I want to deconstruct.

1. Morality

Trump’s involvement with ACN is something that has been buried. Here is a link to his role in the company’s promotional video. But it should have been one of the first flags that warned as to the frightening lack of morality that the man exhibits.

ACN is a telecommunications company. It conducts sales through independent business owners (IBOs). But the company has been mired in multiple scandals. Take Trump’s promotion of the ACN video phone. At the same time as he was promoting it, the lack of compatibility with other phones meant that the company had had to slash orders. It was a flop. This was never brought up in Trump’s promotional video. It seems difficult to square with his reputation as a straight talker.

In general, this brings one to doubt his business ability. Attention should be drawn to the fact that Trump would be richer today if he had retired 30 years ago and simply invested his money.

2. Discriminatory

Trump’s ambition to build a wall across the South of the US is one that belongs to the 2nd century before the Christian era, in China, not an enlightened 21st century democracy.  Firstly, the Chinese built it in an effort to stop invasion. Mexicans today are not invading America – they are crossing for socio-political reasons. Secondly, Trump’s blanket statements that the individuals coming from Mexico are “bringing crime. They’re rapists” fails to capture the diversity of problems that are pushing Mexicans into America. This effectively stops solutions from being adopted.

It is representative of someone who fails to see the bigger picture.

3. Religious

Following recent comments about the way in which he would deal with Muslims (i.e. banning them from the USA), outrage has flooded traditional and new media. It is a point of historical note that there is a deep irony in Trump’s comments. Muslims dragged to the America were forced to convert in Christianity during the 18th and 18th century; but now that they could freely enter they are deterred. It seems completely at odds with the vaunted principles of the American constitutionalism.

Trump is just wrong. Most pertinent to this article is his erroneous understanding of the Muslim demographic in the USA.  Trump’s Muslim fetish seems to blind him to the real situation. For example, only 20% of all Muslim’s in the world live in the Middle East/North Africa area. By far the majority therefore, live in other areas. 62% of all Muslims live in the Asia Pacific region. Only around 1%  of American adults are Muslim.

Why should this matter?

Of course, at first glance, the opening of this article might see to be distinctly unfair – that every American is tarred with the same brush as the Trump supporter. But this criticism, fails to appreciate the way in which politics is linked to society. As an Italian, I felt an acute shame at both the actions and the re-election of Mr. Silvio Berlusconi. The reason I felt this shame was not that I had supported him and he was now betraying my trust.  No, my shame resulted from the fact that I was part of a society that was so broken that it would turn to a grand-standing figure as its saviour. I felt I had a duty to correct this. And I know feel the same duty to write this article.

Amusement is the wrong reaction. Firstly, it hides an awful truth. These individuals are much closer to power than they appear to be. No one now needs reminding of Berlusconi’s reign. And the latest polling shows that Trump is leading the Republican nomination race. The odds on his winning the presidential race seem scarily high, when compared to others. The approach taken by the UK, to ask to ban Donald Trump from their territory  is incredibly popular. It is not legally impossible to ban someone from the UK. Whilst there are problems with this approach, it certainly takes ‘Trumpania’ seriously. And there is much to commend a more serious reaction.

Personally, I cannot decided whether Trump is merely blissfully ignorant or wilfully misleading. What I do see, however, is that the amusement which is derived from his antics this side of the Atlantic is dangerous, much like I found the amusement in British newspapers regarding Berlusconi as dangerous. Governments should be willing to crack down on political grandstanding because cult figures can have all too dangerous consequences.

Elaboration would require a thorough historical analysis. But it is indubitable that all those who have risen to power on the back of speeches of hatred have been retrospectively condemned. McCarthyism, in its original narrow sense, referred to the practice of spreading a campaign of fear against communists  in America. Look how that turned out. And this is not the first analogy drawn between the treatment of the ‘other’ then, and now. Haynes Johnson compared the abuses “suffered by aliens thrown into high security U.S. prisons in the wake of 9/11” (J. Haynes, The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism. [2005] Harcourt. p. 471.ISBN 0-15-101062-5) to the period in which McCarthy held dominance. Let us not forget that Mr.Jospeh McCarthy was backed by popular support: a Gallup poll found that 50% of Americans favoured McCarhty’s approach.

I am just as worried by an America where it is Donald Trump’s hand which is in the nuclear cookie jar, as I am by a terrorist militant death cult which is targeting the countries in which I live.

Thickening the Blanket of Consumer Protection: Consumer Protection Act 2015

From October 2015, the Consumer Protection Act will be in force. What follows is a brief overview of English law on consumer rights, under the common law, and under the new legislation.

Existing protection

Lord Atkin, in the immortal case of Donoghue v Stevenson [1932], created the modern law of product liability. In formulating the ‘narrow rule’, his Lordship stated that: “[a] manufacturer of products, which he sells in such a form as to show that he intends them to reach the ultimate consumer in the form in which they left him with no reasonable possibility of intermediate examination and with the knowledge that the absence of reasonable care in the preparation or putting up of the products will result in an injury to the consumer‘s life or property, owes a duty to the consumer to take that reasonable care”. This was a sea change in the orthodoxy (and as is often forgotten for such an important case the majority was 3 -2). Lord Abinger, in Winterbottom v Wright (1942) had previously summarised the view of liability by saying that “[u]nless we confine the operation of [contracts’ to the parties who entered into them, the most absurd and outrageous consequences…would ensue.” What Lord Atkin fundamentally understands – and which underlies the wider rule in Donoghue, known as the ‘neighbourhood principle’ – is that in the 20th (and now 21st) century commercial landscape, there is little room for individual engagement, and much less for individual negotiation of terms, in contracts. Though this has largely been cut down (in Caparo Industries plc. v Dickman [1990]), it remains true that consumer rights must come from different areas of the law – whether tort or legislation, in those areas where the individual cannot contract with the producer.

Whilst this may at first seem like a contractual problem (if C [the consumer] cannot exercise their English law given right to freedom of contract with P [the producer] then it is contract law which should deal with the problem) it is at heart a tortious problem too. The law of torts acts, not least, as a gap filler for where contract law does not stretch. Despite not suffering from a limitation period (as most statutory remedies do) there are two problems with common law product liability. Firstly, and notwithstanding doctrines such as res ipsa loquitur – which make short work of the proof element of negligence (seminal case: Grant v Australian Knitting Mills [1936]) but which are highly restrictive doctrines – negligence can be difficult to show. Secondly, the extent of liability is limited to personal injury, damage to property, and consequential damage to property. In other words, pure economic loss cannot be recovered. The courts have been strict on this, no matter the inventiveness of the claim. A good example is the complex structure theory of Murphy v Brentwood District Council [1991]. Complex structure theory seeks to argue that one part of a product or thing can damage another. In Murphy, the idea was that “ancillary equipment” added to the house (central heating system) could damage the house itself. This was rejected by, what was then, the House of Lords.
Section 14(2) of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 created an implied term in any contract of sale of goods, that the “goods supplied under the contract are of satisfactory quality”. This addressed the scope of liability (the second problem highlighted above). It also provided for strict liability for any breaches of that term (addressing the first problem of proof). The Consumer Protection Act 1987 compounded strict liability as the status quo by extending it to cases where any damage is done by a dangerous product to a consumer. The 1987 Consumer Protect Act was a result of a European wide initiative. The EEC Directive 85/374 sought to harmonise the national laws of consumer protection for a single market. It is a technical piece of legislation which defines everything required for liability. On the other hand, for contractual terms which are unfair the specialist and layman alike must turn to the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977.

In light of the above considerations the following are seven things to note about the Consumer Protection Act 2015:

1. Application of the Act

To all contracts for the transfer of goods, as long as consumers are acting outside of the course of business. This is a wide term. Consumers acting outside the course of business can engage even where there is a regulated hire, a hire-purchase, or a conditional, sale contract.

2. Implied Terms

Previous case law on implied terms will remain valid. However, a new implied term has been created by statute. Where a model has been examined by the consumer, the contract will hold a term which states that the goods delivered must match the model shown.

3. The emerging ‘role of the dealer’

A consumer will have (from the 1st October 2015) the right to reject a product which does not conform to the sale contract. This rights extends thirty days from the delivery of the good. It goes hand in hand with the consumer’s right to refund which also extends thirty days – but from delivery or installation (the later of the two). It has been argued that this provision will cause difficulty because the definition of ‘trader’ is broad. Looking to the language of the act (a trader is also “another person acting in the trader’s name or on the trader’s behalf”) it seems that the breadth is something that the Act is looking to achieve. It has further been argued that this exposes a finance provider to a risk, which they cannot regulate. For example, where they provide for a good for a dealer, but through the dealer’s fault this good is rejected they lose the sale. The financers must refund the customer and they themselves do not have a statutory clause permitting returning the good to their own supplier. They will be defenceless short of any contractual arrangements they made with their supplier. However, when taken in the broader commercial context this does not seem like an undue burden. Dealers will be vetted more thoroughly by finance suppliers, to ensure competence. This seems like a clear initiative being taken to increase business-to-business trust, not a way of leaving some members of the community without legal defence.

It should be noted that the 2015 Act also contained a “final right to reject”, which arises after one unsuccessful repair or replacement. This seems incredibly draconian. Considering the costs which a supplier, financer, and dealer incur in providing a consumer with a good, and further considering the one chance nature of this rule it seems one-sided. Especially because the trader’s right to make deductions for use of goods when they are rejected does not apply in these circumstances. It is submitted that what might instead happen is that, in that situation, the merchant will offer some kind of incentive for the consumer to remain with that good. This last minute dealing might not be entirely desirable.

4. Pre-contractual information as an implied term

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, much of what was contained under the Consumer Contract Regulations 2013 will become statutory. This will take the form of an implied term (and as usual, the breach will trigger damages). This may even extend to installation. As has already been pointed out, it will be critical that any literature given to sales agents is accurate, lest in their haste to get a sale they provide information which is then used to obtain a refund.

5. Unfair Terms

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which deals with unfair terms has published new guidance in light of the 2015 Act. Since schedule 2 of that Act replaces the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, the CMA has issued guidance on what it understand that schedule to mean.

There are three levels of guidance for firms: short guidance, intermediate guidance, and detailed guidance. Particularly helpful is the last, which also includes an annex which discusses which historic examples of past unfair terms may still be relevant.

Without going into the technical details, it is worth drawing attention to the fairness and transparency tests of Part 2 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

6. Digital Expansion

Under the new regime, digital content has been covered. Namely, implied terms definitively stretch to the provision of digital content, and corrupted devices can be recovered as long as the consumer can show that there was not “reasonable skill and care”. This is a welcome nod to technological developments of the 21st century.

7.  Competition Law

Part 3 of the Act touches on breaches of competition law. The Act deals primarily with rights, as seen through the increase jurisdiction of the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) and the addition of opt-out (from pure opt-in) collective actions.

To a significant extent, this can be regarded as the manifestation of the importance of ADR. The European Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution requires that all contractual disputes between consumers and business must be able to go through ADR.

 

Summary

It is important to understand that the Consumer Rights Act 2015 is part of a wider wave of EU and UK consumer protection. The 2015 Act brings together previously disjointed laws on consumer protection. This is of critical importance in the consumer world. Consumers are for the most part non-specialists. The point of offering them protection is only valid if it is easy to access and understand. The point has been made that the Act is not crystal clear on the nature and extent of some obligations. It is important to remember that the aim of consumer legislation is to provide for clear rights and remedies for the consumer (and not necessarily the corresponding duties of the business community). To see whether this is the case, we must await litigation.

Cambridge And Access: A Difficult Story

My first foray into the media surrounding Oxbridge myths; find it over at Huffington Post.

Only after gaining the inside perspective of a student at Cambridge, do I feel competent enough to address what is a clear imbalance in the media regarding Oxbridge admissions and traditions. What I feel is particularly damning is the fact that many of these pieces, which seem to aid diversity in the student body, damage it, as I have argued in my piece linked above.

Budgeting for a Better or Broken Britain?

It is fair to say that the first Conservative budget since November 1996 has caused quite the reaction. This blog looks at changes introduced by the budget for individuals and companies. For the sake of context however, it is worth noting that the Chancellor, George Osborne, has promised savings totalling £34 billion – half from government budgets, £12 billion from welfare cuts, and £5 billion coming down on tax evasion.

1. Overview

  • Benefits

Those aged 18 – 21 will lose their (automatic) entitlement to housing benefits.

  • Business

The Northern Power house idea – at the national level, there has been an acceptance of a need to devolve power to the north – Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, and Leeds.

The Chancellor has signposted his readiness to ensure that the UK maintains the lowest corporation tax in of the G20 – the proposed aim being of 18%.

At the same banks were rewarded on one hand levies on a bank’s worldwide assets will be restricted to levies only on UK assets by 2020. But there will be an introduction of an 8% tax on annual profits.

  • Government and Welfare

Student maintenance grants will be cut from 2016. Instead, a loan of up to £8,200 will be available which will have to be repaid when the individual earns over £21,000.

Child benefit – tax credit and universal credit – is to be limited to the first two children, from April 2017.

More generally, tax credit changes will hit three million families who will lose an average of £1,000.

Public sector rises will be capped at 1% until 2019.

The NHS is being offered £8 billion.

Cap on benefits will be lowered from £26,000 to £23,000.

Working benefits will be stripped from those who are not disabled and have no children.

Rent payments for social housing will be cut by 1%, per year, for the next four years.

  • Income Tax

Two headline figures, relevant to everyone: on the one hand the 40p rate of tax was raised to £43,000, whilst on the other the threshold for basic tax was raised to £11,000, an increase of £400, on the way to the target of £12,500. This latter is projected to raise with the minimum wage. The former is part of an increase – the 40p rate is aimed to be applied to £50,000. According to the Chancellor this is will mean 29 million people will pay less tax.

  • Inheritance Tax

In the same vein as the 1996 budget, the inheritance tax was increased; then it was to £215,000. Now it has been increased to £1 million.

  • National Living Wage

Over 25s will have a minimum pay of £9 per hour by 2020 – which is 60% of median earnings. This will start in April 2016, with the figure being £7.20. This compares favourably to £6.50 for under 21s. This is estimated to concern 6 million people.

2. Commentary

This is a well-rounded budget. In 1996, the budget was the last budget for a government that was coming to its close – this is the budget of a newly mandated government Yet political pressures simply manifest them in a different, not lesser, way. During the campaign for the 2015 general elections, Mr. Osborne was seemingly aiming to have his photograph taken by every single employer in the UK.. But having obtained the support, it has been argued their resources are now needed to fund his other promises.

Whilst this analysis is persuasive, there is a further consideration: the language of working man has been used repeatedly by the Tories. Could it be that they actually mean? The budget is aimed at creating jobs and pushing people into those jobs – however well it does so, being an entirely different matter. When viewed in this narrative, the cuts on the corporation seems to be less a ‘pound of flesh’, than a seed from which to develop a stronger work force.

The big question is, of course, whether things will deteriorate for the worse off. Osborne has hung his budget on the fact that an individual working full time under the new National Minimum Wage would be better off even considering the cuts to benefits. The National Minimum Wage is applicable only to over 25s. Under 25s,  who are most in need because of their low employment rate, will be a cheaper labour source. Thus, they will be preferred to over 25s. As for the students, changing a grant into a loan does not impact the position of students at the moment. It also does not seem it will impact the ability experience – total funding for a student eligible for the maximum loan will be somewhere around £12,000 a year. Poverty of the parents should not mean that a student who perhaps emerges and gets a well-paying job should not be asked to pay back the money they were given for university. And  if they do not have a well-paying job they do not have to pay it back – this fairly well accepted fact seems to discredit any arguments that suggest that  Certainly, students who will have to pay the money back, might be more spend thrift of that money.

The impact of the budget on the wider political landscape has exposed to salient facts: firstly, Labour are evidently still reeling from their defeat given their lack of response. Secondly, there may now be substantial weight to the suggestion that Osborne and Boris will go toe to toe for the leadership of the Conservative Party post-Cameron.  This is clear by Osborne’s adoption of what Boris first championed; the living wage.

Lessons Learnt: General Election 2015

Here are five things that we have learnt from the general election 2015:

1. Results

Conservatives took 330 (plus the Speaker)

Labour took 232 seats.

The SNP received a landslide 56 (all but three Scottish seats).

Liberal Democrats were cut down to just eight (from 57)

The Democratic Unionist Party received eight seats.

Plaid Cymru managed three seats.

UKIP only managed to obtain one seat.

Greens also only received one seat.

2. Serious thought needs to be given to voting reform

Amongst the many stories that were flying on the night of the general election, was the discontent of the minor parties (Greens and UKIP) regarding the resulting injustice of the current ‘first past the post’ system. Sky have shown that UKIP received more than 3 million votes, coming second in near on 100 seats – yet they only managed to hold one seat.

Sky’s live news service termed this a problem of “conversion” of votes into seats. This does not seem a very helpful analysis. It misunderstands the point that the minor parties (might – should) be making: it should not be the problem of the voters to vote tactically. The first past the post system is an archaic fossil of a different political landscape, and should be seriously re-considered. This is what would have happened with proportional representation.

3. Polls need to be revised

British Polling Council (an independent inquiry) are going to examine “apparent bias” in the polls. In the lead up to the vote, major national polls predicted a neck and neck between Labour and Conservative – in fact, there had been some indication that Labour were one point ahead. This is not what happened. Only the exit polls (which tragically enough, all the leaders said must be treated with extreme caution)

Some have argued that there was a problem of methodology; that telephone polls had highlighted a stronger Tory vote than others. This does not seem enough to explain the massive lead of the Conservatives because similar demographics were touched by both polls. Others have said that there was a massive swing at the individual level; yet this should have been caught by the methodology. Questions remain unanswered.

4. Changes to the Election Campaign Trail

Two changes occurred in this election: (i) TV debates have become institutionalised and (ii) massive spending on American spin doctors.

On the first, the crucial point that it can be made is that it puts more emphasis on leadership; and if this is one of the areas which let Labour down they will have to re-think their approach.

On the second, the Economist have referred to the global nature of spin doctors involved in the election. Two advantages must be highlighted: (i) the fact that it brings a new point of view and (ii) that it spices up discussion (e.g. the dead cat approach).

5. Consequences for the Parties

A. Conservatives: (slim) majority. Conservatives backbenchers will have a significant influence; this will nevertheless be a better situation than having coalition partners, as at least the Ministerial seats will be of one stripe.

B. Labour: four factors militated to cause its loss: (i) leadership problems (ii) taking the party too far to the left rather than occupy the centre left (iii) were targeted by negative campaigning – fears that voting for Labour would mean either a Labour/SNP or Labour/Lib Dem coalition and finally (iv) there was no . Each will have to be addressed before Labour can reform. However, there cannot be too short a reform system; a weak leader elected quickly will not guarantee a strong base moving forward.

C. SNP: heralded by many as a landslide victory, their extraordinary result in Scotland should be understand in the context of the rest of the election. It is clear that many who voted for them were doing so because they did not seriously believe that the Labour party would be able to beat the Conservatives.

D. UKIP: will be the party (along with the Greens) calling for electoral reform. Crucially however, they will have a powerful platform to re-engage with the electorate during the (promised) 2017 referendum. Farage has not ruled himself out, after all.

E. Lib Dem: the fundamental problem was one of confidence; the student vote which propelled them to power was lacking in this campaign after the increase in tuition fees. After such a poor result, it would not be surprising if they joined calls for a proportional representation system.

The British General Election VIII: SNP

1. Home Affairs

A. Taxes and Economy: Oppose oil and gas drilling, and invest in offshore wind farming. Support an international bank tax and limits to industry bonuses.

It is smart to strike a tone which has been seen to work for the Greens. It is a smart move to try and piggy back onto those voters who do not mind that their vote would not be for a party with any chance of forming a majority. Yet there position is somewhat problematic; oil has recently found its second wind (with significant reserves being found under Gatwick). Popularity of the status quo will mean that significant resistance from business will be found. The SNP should have learnt their lesson; it was highly influential in the Scottish referendum that the businesses came out against them.

B. The NHS: Reduce the number of senior managers in the NHS by 25% over the next parliament. Streamline the work of health boards.

The Tories claimed to have done it, UKIP claim they need to do it more; middle management (as noted) needs to go. Efficiency is desirable. But one should question whether with change, removing management is the best step. It is through the middle management that directions and themes from the top filter through to the bottom. Especially for the Tories (who want to change the direction of the NHS) this might be problematic. It is more persuasive to hear it from the SNP.

C. Jobs: Introduce gender quotas on public boards. Living wage “a central priority” in all Scottish government contracts. Continue the ‘small business bonus’

Gender quotas on public boards is a forward thinking movement; considering the initiatives being taken by various countries in order to address inequalities in corporate boards.

D. Education: Guaranteed free 30 hours of childcare a week for three and four-year-olds in Scotland, up from 16 hours. Maintain lack of tuition fees at Scottish universities, and offer financial support in grants and loans to students. Continue to build and refurbish schools. Lower voting age to 16 in all UK elections.

It is not surprising that the SNP, in line with Labour, are seeking to lower the voting age. They are both projected to do better with younger ages. Indeed, the results of the Scottish referendum support this for the SNP. It is surprising, given the real possibility of the SNP influencing the outcome of the elections, to focus so much on Scottish rights.

E. Law and Order: Support the European Arrest Warrant. Co-operate with other countries on organised crime and terrorism.

A refreshing acceptance of a doctrine which is working.

2. Foreign Affairs

A. Immigration: Allow the devolved government to have control over immigration to Scotland, and introduce a Canadian-style earned citizenship system to attract highly-skilled immigrants.

Allowing the government to have control over devomax does not seem outside the realms of possibility. It should be recalled however, that there are constitutional limits to the powers which may be devolved. And the ideal of giving control to the government seems prima facie incompatible with EU law. Which is a reserved area of competency. If they mean introduction of points style immigration (as well as citizenship) they may well have a better chance.

B. EU: Oppose nuclear weapons and push for removal of Trident submarines from Scotland.. Maintain 0.7% commitment to foreign aid. Enhanced role for Scotland within the UK in Europe, particularly in fisheries policy.

Given current concern regarding treatment of seals by salmon farmers, more influence at the fisheries level might well show that Scotland is taking these concerns seriously. Trident always is a risk area to discuss: especially because concerns of national security influence any such discussion. Recently, it seems to have been determined that the cost would be less than previously predicted (estimates are more accurate around the £2.5-3.5 billion, compared to the £20-25 billion),

The SNP have erupted powerfully onto the national scene, after what was an incredibly able campaign for independence. However, they have not learnt the lessons of their failure. Firstly, they should have courted support from Scottish businesses. Secondly, popular as they are with the youth they should have either ensured that their proposed benefits touch everyone – rather than just Scottish youths.