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Hello and welcome to my pages. Please enjoy them, and do give feedback, comment, etc.

I have been active in the fields of rural development and rural policy since 1975 – for most of you this will seem a   long time ago! But it seems to me to have passed quickly. Indeed, I can honestly say that I remember going back from the fields on the back of a working horse – a Clydesdale called Punch – on my Grandfather’s farm near Perth in Scotland. That’s why I sometimes write about the modern history of Scottish agriculture and the rural communities in which agriculture has come to play a progressively small part in most countries. But my version of rural is ‘territorial’ in the sense that it includes the villages and small towns where most ‘rural’ people now live and work, and not only farms and farm families. This is also the OECD’s approach. I am also interested in small Islands, having lived and worked on several, and worked on many in different parts of the world. In an island you can see the links between humans, their environment, and government much more clearly than in large complex regions and cities.

Although an economist by training, I have also worked with geographers, sociologists, anthropologists, natural scientists and others who don’t come with any particular ‘label’ or ‘jargon’.  Personally I think our role as social scientists is to communicate with people and organisations in an open democratic framework, and certainly not only with other professionals, especially not only with those in our own discipline! It is our job first of all to try to help with public debate on social and economic issues, and only through that process to help change public policies. We are not ‘value-free’ as social (or any other kind of) scientist. People should know what our values are when they read what we write, or listen to what we say.

So you will find opinions, values, and other ‘normative’ elements in these pages. You may be annoyed by them – if so I hope you’ll react! You may also be pleased by them – if so I hope you will also react.

Let me close by saying that I regard myself as very lucky in my health, friends, family and work. Every day is a bonus day! Thanks to all who make it so.

John Bryden

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63 Comments
  1. Hi John,

    Best wishes for this change. Of course if you were traveling downunder any time we would be pleased to welcome you.

    Cheers, John Martin

  2. Raffaele Trapasso permalink

    Well done John!

    • Nelly Bandarra permalink

      Dear John
      I agree with your comments on the regulation proposals but you did’nt spoke about the reintroduction of plurifunds and the possibility of intervention of the 3 funds mainly ERDF in rural areas. Besides with the way Leader is going on I am less optimistic on local development although DG REGIO has learned the lesson. Nelly

      • thanks Nelly! You are right! I like the reintroduction of the three funds, but a lot depends on the financial regulation, and whether it has provided or will provide simpler mechanisms at the grass root end (i.e.not just ‘simpler’ at the Brussels end.
        Re LEADER I think it has become steadily less effective aa a local development programme, and increasingly bureaucratic. I hope that this will be addressed, and I agree with you on that. kind regards, John

  3. Dear John

    As someone who believes that we should be making our work accessible to the public, I share your passion to communicate in an open manner with those in related disciplines. I wish more of my colleagues in Psychology could think like this! All the best Amina

    • Dear Amina,
      Thanks for this positive feedback! We need to grow a movement around this!
      Buenos Aires is a great city!
      John

  4. thanks John and Raffaele for the comments. John in fact I am in another ‘down under’ this week – Argentina. For the Globelics conference. This is a network of researchers examining innovation systems as a learning process. best wishes, j

  5. Interesting website, John

    Best wishes

  6. thanks Bernat! People rightly complain that there are no photos! I’ll fix that (with Katja’s help!). I am in argentina this week for an interesting conference on innovation as a learning process, innovation and development , etc etc. Its the Globelics group (there is a link in this site!). Yours aye, John

  7. toumi larbi permalink

    Dear John!
    Congratulations for sharing your experience and expertise fields. An innovative manner to be in touch with friends and colleagues.Good job!!
    I hope you more success

    Kind Regards!

  8. you might be wondering why I am on Cococobaba Beach in Rio. well, I came by here to visit friends on the way home from the Globelics event in Argentina, and they took me for a long walk along the beachfront last night! Today I hope to visit the famous sugarloaf mountain.

  9. today’s thought.
    the FT recently had an article on the large thermosolar power project in Morocco, apparently to be funded among others by the World Bank. It also referred to the much larger proposal, perhaps already a project, to vastly extend thermosolar power generation in North Africa generally, and to the rest of Africa.
    it is usually the case that these large scale externally funded solar power plants import practically all of the technology and plant, and employ very few people after construction. It is much to be hoped that this time it will be different, but I fear it will not be! I am going to refer to this next month when speaking in Tunisia.

  10. The Arkleton Trust, with which I had a long involvement from about 1978 until my move to Norway in 2008, has announced a new funding opportunity on ‘doing rural development in the economic downturn’. See http://www.arkletontrust.co.uk/?q=node%2F458

  11. Are you Outraged? If so, why? If not, why not?

    There was a great interview with 93 year old Stephane Hessel on Norwegian Radio this morning (I think a repeat of one earlier in the week which I missed) about his pamphlet.

    See also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1vLCSjXi-E

    And

    http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2011/10/10/stphane_hessel_on_occupy_wall_street_find_the_time_for_outrage_when_your_values_are_not_respected#.TttKv9TlKLo.email

  12. On a sadder note, I see that Dev Anand the iconic Bollywood film star and film director died today. Dev came to Inverness when we were holding our IRN fundraising ceilidh in 2009, which he attended and where he launched his autobiography. He was actually in town for the first screening of one of his movies, which was partly shot in scotland, mainly Edinburgh and Newtonmore. I can hardly forget our conversation, at the end of which he said he hoped to make another movie in scotland and thought I would be a good star for it! I was of course in my kilt! many condolences to his family.

  13. An Independent Scotland wants closer ties with Scandinavia! Well done Lesley R and the campaigners in Scotland for a Nordic Future. But we also need some Nordic camaigners to get us into the Nordic Council of Ministers. See the article:-

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/bye-bye-england-snp-plans-closer-scandinavian-ties-after-independence-6272337.html

  14. lisbeth permalink

    This was a nice page. Good luck with it!
    Love Lisbeth

  15. I realise that I have been too quiet for too long! Happy New year to followers and readers! Following up on some of the recent blogs and comments, I can recommend a book that Keith Hart recommended to me called ‘Treasure Islands’ by Nicholas Shaxson. It is a shocking exposee of Tax Havens and closely related subjects that should make everyone very angry, and very active on the political front to finally get rid of these mechanisms of vast and growing inequality between and among peoples, not to mention insidious and overt corruption.

  16. Now I see that the UK Labour Party has woken up to tax havens! They say ‘we must tackle tax havens’ and propose starting with the Channel Islands! Wow! As it happens, I worked in the Cayman Islands as their (seconded) economist in 1969, this being early days in taxhavenship and a relatively small activity, if significant, at the time. I remember reading through the register of Trusts, which was indeed a public document at the time, and noting that several well known politicians from all the main UK parties of the day were involved in Trusts registered in the Cayman Islands. According to Shaxson’s book, there is $1.9 trillion dollars (US) on deposit in the Caymans. Shaxson claims this is four times as much as in New York City banks! This compares with the estimated $11.5 trillion that wealthy individuals hold offshore, acccording to the Tax Justice Network. The estimated tax lost on this sum is $250 billion or two to three times the global aid budget.
    So we need to get much angrier than the UK Labour party!

    • The question has arisen about whether Scotland would remain in a currency union with England in the event of Independence after 2014 referendum. and it seems that the Scottish Council for Economic Advisors has concluded that it will. So the issue of scottish bank notes will continue to depend on the Bank of England and (I think) scottish deposits there. Now the BoE is very closely linked to the City of London, and has at best turned a blind eye to the development of offshore banking and associated tax avoidance and evasion and escape from national banking regulations, and at worst it has been instrumental in encouraging it as a way of tapping into global hot money and securing its use for the City. The whole edifice is closely tied to the disastrous developments in national and global banking & finance, and the growing inequalities, which are worse – probably far worse – than those measured by official statistics (because there are no statistics from the offshore world) reveal. Bodies like the so-called Adam Smith Institute (established by Mrs Thatcher – Adam Smith would turn in his grave!) say that ‘the rich pay their taxes’ and go around quoting how much, but the fact is since we do not know the real income of the rich or their access to offshore funds of one kind or another, we have no way of telling what rate of tax they pay. And this is true not just in the UK, but more or less globally. We also learn from Mr Cameron that the City of London accounts for 10% of UK GDP (this is my memory – am I right), and hence their nervousness about regulation at EU or global level (eg tax on transactions) which the city argues will frighten away funds (to where, I wonder??).
      So after this long winded introduction, let me propose that actually Scotland should want no part on such ploys – offshore banking, tax avoidance, increasing inequality, and GDP based on all the related nefarious activities, and so they ought to restore the Scottish Pound etc as a separate currency, perhaps normally linked to another with similar economic characteristics (Norwegian Crown?). I am not and never have been a fan of the Euro, so I would not propose that. We should also restore capital controls, in order to stop the wealthy and corporations salting away their money offshore, and restore Scottish Banking to its once and former glory (see Roy Campbell’s book), at the honest end of the game.
      I think it entirely possible that England – and London – will eventually suffer from its current dependence on the finance sector at some point in the not too distant future as people continue to deepen their understandings of the nefarious activities, links to the current crisis, and growing inequality, which the city and offshore banking and finance industry linked to it is heavily linked with.
      How about that fort a saturday morning rant!

  17. Katja and I have had some positive comments on the website, which makes us happy. BUT we would also welcome some contributions in the way of responses to the various blogs. Are they not irritating enough to encourage some disagreement? We will need to try harder!

  18. Thought for today. There is much publicity about rich people who claim to have decided that they should ‘give more’ to the poor. Much outpouring at the obscene Davos Economic Summit, and of course yesterday none other than the Chairman of Deutsch Bank himself, whose salary (before bonus) is said to be €9 million. Nice one! And today there was an item on Norwegian Radio about tax havens, where Shaxson’s estimate that half of the worlds corporate and private income passes through tax paradises, to avoid tax, and also to clean up ‘dirty’ money from corruption, drugs, transfer pricing, arms smuggling, and so on. So we can all get a bit gloomy at times, and wonder what hope there is for social democracies that rely on honest taxpayers.
    But look on the bright side (the sun is shining in Norway and its -14C this morning!). Remember the great John Maynard Keynes and especially his faith in the ultimate triumph of ideas over vested interests. In closing his great book (concluding notes) “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money’ he says “But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.”
    When he wrote the book in 1936, the great depression was deep in everyone’s minds and Nazi germany was growing in strength (as a result of the failure of politicians to heed his earlier and also great book on ‘the economic consequences of peace’ after the first world war). He was optimistic that people would heed his ideas at this time because “At the present moment people are unusually expectant of a more fundamental diagnosis; more particularly ready to receive it; eager to try it out, if it should be plausible.”
    Maybe, just maybe, we are once again at that point!

  19. Thought for today. yesterday there was an article in the Norwegian newspaper ‘Klassekampen’ (yes it means ‘Class Struggle’, and it is a national daily newspaper!) about Norways funding of the undersea electricity cables to UK, Netherlands etc, so that they can join up fully with the liberalised European energy market as designed by brussels brains (not to mention a few interests). The article was critical of Norway’s accepting attitude to EU blandishments, apparently without thinking about the consequences (one of which will be higher electricity prices for Norwegians!).
    A couple of weeks ago when I was finishing a case study of renewable energy in Norway, I came to the same conclusion. It is indeed very puzzling why Norway, with its historically low electricity prices due to 96% reliance on hydro power, should wish to export this and so to import more expensive energy from the EU or from wind farms! After all, is this not one of Norway’s few natural comparative advantages in the global economy? And of course its a cold country and people are wired to hear their homes with hydro power. Moreover, the railways also run on hydro power, and a lot of metals and silicon industries too! To me the question is ‘how daft can you get’? Well done Klasskampen for making the issue public.

  20. This thought is stimulated by an article in last week’s local newspaper – Aas Avis. I have to read it for my Norwegian lessons! A local property owner who owns the post office building, together with Europark, had installed parking meters outside the local post office and in other prime sites in the town. The only problem was that the parking spaces belonged to the Municipality, who had not agreed, and responded swiftly by covering the meters with bags! This is not the first time by far that private capital has sought to extract rents from public goods, and I am sure it wont be the last, and it gave rise to a good deal of local protest. However, at least the Municipality had the sense to stop the scam rather than join in on the game. Andy Wightman’s book on the sale of public land by local authorities in Scotland came to mind!
    Of course we all love to hate cars, but this is not the way to solve that problem. People in this small town are good about using their bikes in all weathers, and there are tracks and shelters for them, but there are also people living out of town and elderly whose mobility is restricted especially in winter, and especially now that road gritting prevents the use of the ‘Spark’ sledge – a kind of upright sledge with long runners and a seat which is pushed by someone who can stand on the runners. This is another sore point with the old folks and children (who use the Sparks most) in town.
    If you, dear readers, have other cases of private capital renting public goods out, please add them here!

  21. Today is another of those nice cold clear winter days around the Oslo fjiord, and I think about how lucky I am. However, the Director of NILF was on morning radio today explaining that there is no alternative but larger and more efficient farms in Norway in future. This is what the Ministry wants him to say, as yesterday Reidar Almas, former Director of the Rural Research Institute in Trondheim had a large article in Aftenposten (national daily newspaper) about how wonderful it was to have small farms all over Norway, in every municipality including those north of the Arctic Circle. This last feature is partly due to the very sensible Norwegian agricultural policy which the EU and OECD do not like! By far the majority of farms in Norway are small or very small in European terms, and the families are pluriactive – traditionally also fishing around the long coastline, but now working in many different occupations. This allows fresh food to be produced for the family and the small communities, which otherwise would need to import over long distances and at great expense. Larger farms are concentrated in the South of Norway – Rogaland for dairying, for example, to the east of the Glomma and Oslo Fjord for cereals, and in the South and west of the Oslo Fjord for vegetables. Fruits are grown in the sheltered fjords of the west where there is a Gulf Stream influence, especially Handangerfjord and Sognfjord. Tourism is also important for small farms in the west and north.
    The Director of NILF does not know much about farming or pluriactivity, but he draws his conclusion from a naive version of economics that has increasingly been taught in business schools and minor universities. In this version, homo oeconomicus is at the core, and all things follow from this extraordinarily single minded individual (not a family, and having no care for public goods where this is not coherent with the market signals) acting with apparently perfect knowledge in an otherwise perfectly functioning set of markets for raw materials and commodities where economies of scale are omnipresent and ubiquitous. One needs no more than this to draw the conclusions that Ivar, NILF Director, drew this morning for the listeners on Norwegian radio.
    In the end of the day, Norwegian agriculture cannot compete with, for example, Danish or Dutch agriculture because (a) it has an incomes and wages policy based on values of equity and fairness and that apply to everyone, (b) landscape and cultural values are important not only for the society (which benefits from ‘Allmans’ right of access to land for recreation) but also for the important tourism and recreation industries, and (c) it is geographically and climatically challenged. But Norwegians, like most people, want fresh local food in theri diet, and so far at least they have been willing to pay for it. Indeed, despite an expensive agricultural policy, Norwegians pay a much smaller proportion of their take home income on food than people in other European countries.
    The future trends in farming are not likely to be those of the past half century, and voicing truisms does not help us to have a properly informed debate! There needs to be a new agrarian revolution – but what shape will this take, and what will it mean for producers and countries which have relied on chemical fertilisers, pesticides and heavy machines, as well as wasteful use of water and land? I think there will be a few surprises in the next half century!

  22. Stumbled into this site by chance but I’m sure glad I clicked on that link. You definitely answered all the questions I’ve been dying to answer for some time now. Will actually occur back for a lot more of this. Thank you so much

  23. Just back from the OECD conference in Paris to launch our work on Renewable Energy as a (territorial) rural policy. I think the model for this project was successful – participatory with representatives from the 16 regions involved acting as peer reviewers for the other regions – was very successful, and a ‘first’ for OECD. The presentations and comments were considered to be useful by those present. The event also provided a great opportunity for Karen and I to catch up with my old friend Keith Hart the economic anthropologist and scholar of money, his wife Sophie (also an anthropologist) and 9-year old daughter Constance. We naturally discussed the ailments of Euroland which, as Keith and I have agreed for many years, derive not only from the financial and economic crisis but also because Eurozone is not an optimal currency area, and never has been.

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  25. Ottar Brox was 80 last week. Ottar was a professor of sociology and anthropology, and has been a ‘public intellectual’ all his life. He was born in 1932 on the small island of Senja, in North Norway where his father was a schoolteacher and local historian. He represented North Norway in the Norwegian Parliament as a SV (Socialist Left) member from 1972-79. He was also known as ‘North Norway’s Trumpet’ – a champion for North Norway’s people’s interests, and in particular in defence of their access to fishery resources and right to live in their small coastal settlements, where they should have the same rights as everyone else in Norway to health care, quality education etc.. He is and always has been a frequent contributor to the Norwegian newspapers. Kåre Lunden, writing of Ottar’s life in last Thursday’s ‘Klassekampen” newspaper compared him to Hemingways old man who, when told he was ‘an old man who talks too much’ responded “I am an old man who will live until I die”.
    Ottar has been Visiting Professor at Memorial University Newfoundland, Cambridge and Aberdeen Universities. he received an Honorary Doctor of Laws at Aberdeen University in 1979. He also received honorary degrees from Memorial University Newfoundland, and the University of Tromso. He was awarded the Norwegian sociologist Association Honorary Award (2000), The Freedom of Expression Foundation senior prize (2002) and Rhino,Klassekampen’s Culture prize (2005).
    Some of Ottar’s key writings are to be found in theri English language versions in “The Political Economy of Rural Development: Modernisation without Centralisation” published by Eburon (Netherlands) in 1986. The book was edited and introduced by myself and the late Bob Storey, an anthropologist colleague and friend of both Ottar’s and mine from Inverness in Scotland. The Introduction in this book discusses some of the main intellectual themes in Ottar’s work.

  26. Wayne Myers permalink

    10/3/12 Waldoboro Maine, USAI enjoyed reviewing your commentaries, John. They renew my regret that we rural Americans seldom sustain linkages across the north Atlantic. I hope & trust you continue well. I’ve been trying to attract attention to the disparity in life expectancy between rural and urban Americans, the product, no doubt, of many socioeconomic determinants. A web publication, The Rural Yonder, has taken the lead on trhis topic in the US with a series of articles. This may be an opportune time in our health policy turmoil to interest some of our rural hospitals in preserving health.
    Love to see you if you find yourself in the northeastern US. We are three hours north of Boston and meeet [rains, plains and busses. Wayne Myers

    • Good to hear from you Wayne! Yes there are times when Europe and US seem light years apart, especially listening to Romney and friends! But we remember that there are also many good people in the US who deserve a much better political system than they have. Yours aye, John

  27. MSPs John Finnie and Jean Urquhart (of the Ceilidh Place in Ullapool) resigned from the Scottish National Party last week because the hierarchy decided that Scotland should join NATO in the event of Independence after the 2014 Referendum. NATO is a first strike Nuclear Power, which contradicts the SNPs earlier position to have no nuclear weapons on scottish soil. I say, well done John and Jean! Apart from agreeing with their position, I commend their unusual principled stand – it’s all too rare among todays politicians.
    I have a few more comments on the independence debate in Scotland.
    1. Scotland needs to reform local government and local government financing by creating a two tier county-municipal system like Norway, introducing a land value tax of the Henry George type, and retaining a share of income tax at municipal and county levels (as in Norway, where income tax is all collected by the Municipalities. This would start to recreate a base for a new scottish social democracy, and give many more people experience in governance – the art of public decision making. It would also stop the awful tendencies towards technocratic management of the most puerile kind.
    2. All Quangos, almost without exception, should be abolished and their powers, finance and activities returned to the local government sector with its new democratic credentials.
    2. Scotland will very shortly after independence need its own Currency (Scots Pund and Groat) and Central Bank. The UK is no more an optimal currency area than Eurland is or ever was, and Euroland is currently suffering woes reminiscant of those emerging under the Gold Standard. In the 1980s, the SE of England has a (property) boom, and when Mrs T put on the brakes by raising interest rates to horrendous levels Scotland (which was not suffering a boom at the time) was damaged. Its pointless of those opposed to this to point to the size of the country – Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland all have their own currencies. By the way it would also free us from the evils of the City of London, which are of global import! The regulatory system in scotland needs to restore much more sensible and realistic ‘reserve ratios’ in the banking system since bankers have clearly demonstrated that they can no longer manage money as a means of exchange, and are only interested in more or less ‘risk free’ investments, especially with good collateral (provided by the rich, and property), and not at all interested in taking risks by backing small enterprises. The hiking of reserve ratios will in effect allow the government to print more money, and use that for a development and land bank willing to back small enterprises.
    3. Deeper land reform is needed, but based on the community ownership model. A land tax will get ride of speculative purchases and provide a needed correction to the absurdly high land prices in Scotland. The days are long gone when a latin american style reform of dividing the land up among the people (or some politically selected groups of people) would be sensible. The land fund needs to be boosted to provide sensible financing.
    4. Many Scots are still lacking confidence that the country can indeed govern itself, and there are grounds for these concerns. The Yes campaign needs some bolder positions and not the mishy mashy mess we have at the present!
    Rant for the day!
    John

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  32. Although I argue that Scotland should have its own currency in the event of independence, I believe it should become a multicurrency jurisdiction, where the Euro and £ are also legal tender. The scottish currency should not be tradeable internationally, and so vulnerable to speculative raids that afflict all small currencies and sometimes some large ones as well!

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  37. Almudena permalink

    Hi John!!
    Nice to see such a nice blog, You look very well.
    Hope we’ll meet again some time
    Un abrazo
    Almudena

  38. Here is my thought for today!

    ‘Fixing’ the World Trade Rules

    Around a year ago, the European scholar Tim Gartner Ash, writing about the crisis of European Unification in relation to the Eurozone crisis, raised the question the role of ‘external threats’ to unification. “If Russia no longer fits the bill for an external threat, the United States no longer plays the part of active external supporter.” Later, he suggested that the second Obama administration’s “focus has been on China and Asia more generally, not Russia and Europe.”
    [The Crisis of Europe: How the Union Came Together and Why It’s Falling Apart By Timothy Garton Ash. FOREIGN AFFAIRS: SEPTEMBER/ OCTOBER 2012 ISSUE]

    Judging by the recent discussions on T-TIP, a proposed US-EU trade agreement, a lot can happen in international politics in a year!

    I recently attended a small seminar led by the well-know international agricultural economists Alan Matthews (formerly Trinity College Dublin) and Tim Josling (Stamford). After a very good presentation by Alan on the recent CAP reform in Europe, Tim discussed the proposed US-EU free trade agreement, called T-TIP, asking what had brought this onto the agenda. Tim argued that T-TIP was part of a broader US trade agenda, in particular an effort by the US to strengthen its influence in the WTO discussions, and especially to counter the growing influence of the BRICS.
    Both US and EU are disappointed by the failure of domestic growth (in GDP) to stimulate domestic economic recovery, and are relying more on trade expansion to do this. This idea has a lot of support and few opponents either in the US or Europe, and so is seen as a ‘win-win’ approach in which economic gains are likely to exceed political costs for both parties. Other contextual factors are the stalled DOHA round, the gradual globalisation of standards, and the ever-increasing trade rules, all under the ægis of the WTO. The US and Europe are worried that China and India will control emerging standards and rules, and apparently want to regain their influence. T-TIP can lead to common EU-US standards which will influence standards in other countries and, they hope, ultimately in WTO.
    TiSA is the Trade in Services Agreement currently under negotiation in Geneva , and especially important for developing new trade rules. BRICS are notably absent from this group.
    GPA is the Government Procurement Agreement. This is only signed by selected members of WTO, especially US, Canada, Europe, Japan. It does not include any of the BRICS or poorest countries. It covers in particular non-discrimination in public procurement contracts above certain thresholds, and bans such things as local content provisions.
    The US is also pitching for a TPP (Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement) with 11 other countries, while China is implementing a Free Trade Agreement with many Asian countries. 75% of World Trade will be covered by three such agreements – T-TIP, TPP, and the China-Asia FTA. One might ask where Africa is in this story – as far as can be seen, nowhere. However, the EU will have a key position in the new emerging World Trade architecture.
    What are the main areas of difficulty in the T-TIPS negotiations?
    1. There is an imbalance in food trade between EU and US, and there are high tariffs on some food products. When these are abolished, then EU is likely to be the beneficiary. However, this also depends on several other issues, including…
    2. The issue of hormones and other growth promoters in livestock production, currently banned in the EU, a ban which US wants to see lifted. There are huge arguments about the use of ractopamine growth enhancer in pigs and cows in the US, fopr example. EU, China and Russia do not permit its use.
    3. The issue of pathogen reduction in slaughterhouses, which is much stricter in the EU than in the US.
    4. The old issue of GMOs, promoted by US and Canada, not liked in Europe.
    5. The thorny question of Geographical Indicators, which restrict labelling of approved foods to region of origin, eg Parma Ham, Parmeggiano Cheese, Scotch Whisky, etc. US does not like these.

    The agreement will mean trade-offs on some or all of these issues, and an obvious one will be Geographical Indicators vs GMOs.

    T-TIP is preceded by and EU-Canada FTA about to be signed, almost without discussion in the press, the EU-US Wine Agreement (2006), and the EU-US Organs agreement (2012) where the EU apparently agreed to the US practice of using lactic acid as part of hygiene measures in slaughterhouses (not so in the EU).

    One might note that Norway and the other ETA countries will have to accept de facto changes to EU food regulations in food without being involved in the decision making process or a voice/ vote.

    So here we have the richest and most powerful countries in the world trying to put themselves in a position to set the rules of Trade once again, having partly lost the initiative when GATT became WTO. The BRIC(s) are not involved, and so far as can be seen, no African country is involved either. This is surely worth some discussion, certainly much more than there seems to be in the Media?

    • Since I wrote the above, T-TIP has become a big news item, with much opposition appearing in Europe, and rightly so. One thing is the ‘reduction of pathogens in Slaughterhouses’ mentioned in the above blog item. What has caught the eye of the media is the washing of chickens in chlorine (is it not rather Formaldehyde? or Lactic Acid?) in the US, as opposed to to inspections used in Europe. But the issue/ practise is much wider than this!

      • Here is a piece from Bella Caledonia today. I really feel that our democratic values are on the rocks, and this is yet another example.

        Meet TiSA, TTIP’s Ugly Sister
        by Bella Caledonia Editor
        Wikileaks expose new secret corporate takeover plans.

        Wikileaks have released massive new information about the secret trade deals that support TTIP.

        These revelations from Wikileaks brought to you by Real News and Paul Zeese about the rapid strengthening of corporate power through three new trade agreements put into context the domestic elections here and te EU referendum and where true power lies. The ‘fast track’ battle on Capitol Hill could decide the fate of not TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact), TTP (Trans Pacific Partership) and TiSA (Trade In Services Agreement). This has consequences way beyond America.

        The documents expose the largest trade deal in history, which is currently being negotiated by 52 nations, providing further evidence of how “a self-selected group of mainly rich countries” plans to “bypass other governments in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and rewrite its services agreement in the interests of their corporations.”

        Wilikleaks stated: “Together the three treaties form not only a new legal order shaped for transnational corporations but a new economic ‘grand enclosure’ which excludes China and all other BRICS countries.”

        The three treaties, the “Three Big T’s”, aim to create a new international legal regime that will allow transnational corporations to bypass domestic courts, evade environmental protections, police the internet on behalf of the content industry, limit the availability of affordable generic medicines, and drastically curtail each country’s legislative sovereignty.

        Bella Caledonia Editor | May 2, 2016 at 8:16 am | Tags: #NoTTIP, #StopTTIP, TiSA, TTIP, Wikileaks | Categories: International | URL: http://wp.me/p68cvs-8eF
        Comment See all comments

  39. I see that Canada is now dismantling and commercializing its meagre aid efforts (less than 0.4% of GDP, compared with little Norway’s 1% commitment even under the new Conservative-Populist regime). In this it follows Australia. Both are or have amalgamated their aid agencies with their Foreign Office. Canada’s former committments on poverty and human rights seem to have disappeared from the agenda.
    See http://devpolicy.org/o-cida-dismantling-ausaid-the-canadian-way-20131115/

  40. Today the SNP Government in Scotland will launch their White Paper on Scottish Independence. I hope that they do a good job of this, and bring more doubters over to the cause, which is a good and just one.
    Scotland has been part of the UK since the Union of Parliaments of 1707. It was not a popular Union, being driven by a few powerful aristocrats who mostly had both English and Scottish property interests. In the immediate aftermath of the Union there were many conflicts, and serious economic problems, not resolved until towards the end of the 18th Century and into the 19th. Britain centralised, and Scots joined the rulers of the empire as well as providing a large stream of migrants to the new world. At home, they were underpaid, had dreadful housing conditions, and poor health compared with their compatriots in the south. Heavy industry became the engine of the economy until the ruling elite decided that it was dead. After that it was industrialisation by invitation – foreign capital, especially multinationals who were anti-Union and wanted low pay and weak worker rights. This was consistent with rising neo-liberal ideas of the 1980s and 1990s, and was supported by both Thatcher and Blair governments.
    HM Governments recent paper (April 2013) analysing the currency and monetary options for Scotland considers only some of the options for an independent Scotland, arguing that staying in the Union is the best option. They do not consider the Multicurrency option, or the Norwegian or Latvian cases. They do not mention the problem that nations without their own currency lose the Seignorage. They persist in the erroneous idea that the UK is in fact a more-or-less optimal currency area, when experience tells us that when the South East overheats, monetary tightening makes us all suffer (as in Thatcher’s 1980s property boom in the SE).
    The case of Norway is an important one because Norway left Union with Denmark in 1814 and gained control over domestic economic and social policies, even though they retained a common monarchy with Sweden for a further 100 years. They went through various experiments – their own currency, a Scandinavian monetary Union, pegged exchange rates, exchange rates linked to the Euro with wide margins, and so on. Throughout they have managed to maintain an independent domestic monetary policy and despite several crises (as indeed were also faced by Sterling, eg in 1992) have kept long term inflation to 2.5% for some 200 years, and also kept a fairly stable exchange rate, most recently since 1986. The handling of their oil fund has prevented massive exchange rate impacts. They have built up significant foreign exchange reserves, even if these are small in relation to the market. Norway is where Scotland must look for guidance on its future monetary and currency policy.

  41. Well, I read the White Paper on Scottish Independence, which is available on-line. There are 30 mentions of Norway,25 of Sweden, 24 of Denmark, 10 of Iceland and 5 of the Nordics in general. This reflects the Scottish public and political interest in Nordic policies. Contrary to much of the external comment in the press and from UK politicians, the White Paper does a pretty good job and gives a lot of detail on what kind of policy framework the Scottish government envisages if the Scots find enough guts to vote in favour. There is a major focus on improving income equality and provision for children, both very important in Scotland. In addition, they propose following the membership of NATO without nuclear weapons, as in Norway. That means no Trident, and a lot of money saved from its replacement. They propose to revers the end of Student Visas for overseas students, and abolish the much hated and retrogressive Window Tax introduced by the Cameron government. As expected they propose to retain the £ sterling for the time being, and not to have an independent Scots currency (I think this is a mistake, but it will help to keep some finance people on side and prevent a major distraction from the main issues). They propose to re-nationalise the Royal Mail (very sensible and important for rural and remote areas in particular), and have a major review of transport policy.
    All in all, a pretty sound document as far as it goes, with plenty of good sensible stuff and not many hostages to fortune. I think I counted over 600 pages!

  42. For news about a new book on Scotland and Norway, forthcoming later this year, see the section on publications. This is what has been keeping me so quiet this past year!

  43. Three reasons why Scots should vote ‘YES” to Scottish Independence on 18th September

    In 2008, I moved to Norway from Scotland to live and work. I am inspired by what ‘small’ Norway achieved since separating from Denmark in 1814, and from Sweden a century or so later. Most importantly, Norway created a remarkably decentralised democracy after 1814, with the highest rate of representation in Europe, and it was one of the earliest to adopt proportionate representation and universal franchise. They were able to do this through a remarkable Assembly of representatives from all over the country at Eidsvoll in 2014 where a sound constitution was drafted and also because of the unusually broad distribution of land and property at the time – which underpinned the broad political representation – and the very weak indigenous aristocracy.
    As many eminent Scottish scholars and writers – including our eminent historian Professor Tom Devine and author and playwright Irvine Welsh – have argued, the UK Westminster government has been government by an ėlite, reinforced by the second chamber, the House of Lords, and the first-past-the-post electoral system. By comparison with Norway and most of the rest of western Europe, it has also been highly centralised in London. A vote for Scottish independence undoubtedly represents the one best chance to form a much better Constitution and so build a new and stronger social democracy in Scotland, based on proportional representation, a wide choice of political parties, and coalition government along Norwegian lines. It also probably represents the only chance to extend democracy within a local government system that has lost so much power, and become so large and locally attenuated in the past 50 years and more. Certainly there has been little sign to date that the main Westminster parties favour electoral reform, real reform of the House of Lords, or significantly great devolution of power and resources to constituent UK nations or to local government. This chance of constitutional reform represents the most compelling argument for a ‘Yes’ vote, and the chance should not be missed.

    The second main reason why Scots should vote ‘yes’ is that independence offers the greatest hope of Scotland moderating the currently dominant neo-liberal ideas of all the mainstream UK political parties, especially in the realm of privatisation of – or application of so-called ‘market principles’ to – crucial public goods including the national health service, education at all levels, social welfare, the ‘environment’, public transport, and energy. This set of ideas emanated from the rapidly narrowing discipline of economics, which bolstered the ‘Selsdon Man’ political ideas adopted most vigorously by Mrs Thatcher’s conservative government, and which successor governments at Westminster failed – or mostly did not even try – to reverse. Since devolution in 1999, the devolved Scottish parliament – and especially the Scottish Nationalist government – has shown that even with its very limited devolved power it has the will and ability to resist Westminster-led reforms to University fees, NHS, and some aspects social welfare. Like Tom Devine, I believe this reflects the social democratic wishes of the Scottish people as a whole, and it gives me confidence that a future independent Scotland will be able to return to a more social democratic set of political values, so protecting people from the worst excesses and inequalities of the kind of market capitalism promoted by Westminster governments and main UK parties.

    The third main reason to vote for Independence is that it provides an opportunity to radically improve the global governance system by reducing the power of Westminster governments within it, and providing an alternative Scottish voice on a wide range of international issues through such bodies as the UN, NATO, EU, OECD, WTO and hopefully through Nordic alliances.

    These three reasons are also reasons why the Westminster government and parties are so opposed to a ‘yes’ vote.

    Of course as a Norwegian resident, I am not allowed to vote in the independence referendum – this is a decision I wholly respect, since it is the people who will bear the consequences of the decision – good and bad – who should vote, and especially the young people of Scotland.

  44. I commented on the disappointing (at least for 45% of a large electorate, and many of us exiles who could not vote) results on 2 Norwegian TV programmes and one radio programme the morning after the vote. Basically, the ‘yes’ vote for independence increased from about 30% to 45% between the start of the campaign and the vote, which is pretty good going, and which has led to serious discussion of ‘devo-max’ as well as constitutional change in the UK more generally. Not before time! When the two main Westminster parties (thanks to the first past the post system of elections) realised that the ‘yes’ campaign was doing very well compared to the ‘no’ campaign, they started offering ‘devo-max’ to sway voters who wanted more devolution but not independence. All sorts of other dirty tricks were, as might be expected, indulged in by the ‘establishment’ including spreading unfounded fears about pension rights, currency, taxation, and indeed misinformation from formerly respected historians!
    One result has been an increase in Scottish National Party membership to 80,000 or more, making it one of the largest parties in the UK when measured by membership!
    Alas, all is not well in England. Again as expected the right-wing UKIP party has been doing well in by-elections and local government elections. This is the populist face of the far right BNP, the very narrow ‘Little Englander’ English Nationalist Party, which is a completely different kettle of fish to the internationalist, pro-Europe and moderately ‘left’ SNP! The BNP and UKIP are snapping at the behinds of the Conservative, Liberal and even Labour parties, and seem set to gain seats in the next UK westminster elections next year. May the Lord save us all, because one thing is certain – that lot will NOT!

  45. Norway is far from being a bed of roses Politically at the moment. Like the UKIP in the UK, the right wing Populist (FrP) party is a minority party, and, like the UKIP, even with 14% support from the voters, it makes more noise, and gets more media exposure than all the other parties combined. They are also by far the most dangerous party in Norway, in terms of the future of its social democracy. In particular, the FrP controls the Finance Ministry, and their latest budget proposals include massive tax handouts to the rich, and attacks on the organs protecting the poorer groups in society, including the media and local government and nurseries. Hopefully a majority of MPs will reject as many of their proposals as possible, but there are limits to this.
    Today, the brilliant masterminds of the FrP have come up with a proposal to abolish the requirement that people who buy farms should reside on them – a very sensible provision that avoids absentee ownership, property accumulation, speculation in land, and keeps the price of land reasonable for young entrants to farming. Abolition of this provision, FrP spokepersons claim, will allow farms to get larger. What planet do these people live on? We Scots are so envious of this provision!

  46. Indyref Tweet densities
    A good friend has analysed the density of ‘tweets’ around the arctic using a Hexbin map, and based on approx. 1,000,000 geolocated tweets. The ‘arctic’ in this case includes Scotland, And the period in question was the run-up to last year’s independence referendum. What is shows is that the density of tweets in Scotland in this period was higher than anywhere else in the Arctic region. I will of course try to upload the map if I can!

  47. There is an unrecognised attack on the social sciences by the right wing populist-conservative government in Norway going on, and it reminds us of Mrs Thatcher’s attack on the ESRC, which she and Sir Keith Joseph, and not a few scientists, wanted to abolish (why all social scientists are socialists are they not? Surely she was forgetting neo-classical economists of the day!). Thankfully it was saved by some very nifty political activity by the then ESRC Director Michael Posner, who gave his account of the history to CNRS, France. Posner was tireless in wining, dining, and generally persuading some key politicians, and Lord Rothschild, not to go along with the proposal. In other words he was acting politically. And that is what is needed in Norway RIGHT NOW!

  48. I am very happy to be heading off for Edinburgh tomorrow to launch our new book ‘Northern Neighbours: Scotland and Norway since 1800’ published very recently by Edinburgh University Press. A great team worked on this book including Ottar Brox (sociologist, anthropologist and socialist politician in the 1970s representing North Norway), and the great journalist Lesley Riddoch. And Scotland’s leading historian, Tom Devine, kindly gave us a generous Foreword! Please buy it, and hasten the day that we get a more affordable paper back edition!

  49. It’s been a whirlwind summer so far, and we are looking forward to some holiday in Denmark from later today! Since launching the book in April, John had the OECD rural policy conference in memphis (plus a great visit to Susan and Lloyd in S. Maryland en route), followed by a wee in Scotland. This included a discussion event on the contemporary policy messages from our new book, sponsored by jean Urquhart MSP, and held in the Scottish Parliament. It was very well attended, with 6 MSPs and many public, including several authors. Next day John spoke at Nordic Horizons on local government reform in the Nordics, and also had a presentation for the Civil Service Nordic Policy group.
    The following week we had a study tour in Northern Sweden as part of our Triborn research project on grounded innovation in bioenergy. This was followed by the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas (NSPA)-OECD seminar on rural innovation in Oulu, Finland, where John also gave a presentation.
    John went to Brussels the following week and gave a keynote at the AEBIOM seminar on re-energizing rural Europe – the contribution of biomass, part of the EU sustainable development week.
    The following week Karen and I went to Ireland for the ICRPS summer institute, and enjoyed that for 10 days, ending with a nice visit to Sally and Dave in Belfast. We also had a great lunch with very old friend Maureen Commins, who lives in Galway.
    The book has been selling well, but we need to know if anyone out there is planning to use it for a course, because EUP are thinking about doing a paperback edition, which would be great!
    Enough for now! Have a good summer, everyone!

  50. Very happy to announced that the paper “Academic Freedom” by myself and Klaus Mittenzwei has won the Sociologia Ruralis 2013/2014 best paper award.

  51. NEW BOOK FROM ISER PRESS, NEWFOUNDLAND!
    Place Peripheral: Place-Based Development in Rural, Island and Remote Regions. Edited by Kelly Vodden, Ryan Gibson and Godfrey Baldacchino. ISER St John’s.

    Short blurb by John Bryden (Emeritus Professor of Human Geography, University of Aberdeen and Research Professor, NIBIO, Norway)

    This is a valuable collection of case studies of place-based development in peripheral, island communities from various parts of the world, ranging from Chiloé in Chile to Tasmania in Australia, the Shetland Islands of Scotland, Newfoundland and PEI in Canada, and many others in between. I particularly valued the focus on the role of culture and the arts in local development. A good example is the chapter by Deatra Walsh, which discusses the Newfoundland-based rock band ‘Hey Rosetta!’. I loved her image from their song ‘Bandages’, which is a reflection on the discovery of human agency by marginalised people: “doctor unbandage my eyes; i feel the light and im ready to be out in it”.
    This reflects a key theme in the book – that peripheries are not inevitably destined to remain so, and even in this globalised and centralised world, they do have agency, and can change the lives of local people for the better. This is partly a question of ‘development imagination’, in which culture, identity and the arts play a key role. But it is also about power; one of the key conclusions of the book is that “local governance and enhanced agency can aid in the pursuit of place-based social and economic development and policy formulation.” Read it, and hear the message!

  52. I have been silent on this site for a long time. But I have been very busy, as those around me know! Today I want to add my own reflection on the terrible recent attacks on the Russian airliner, on the Shia area of Beirut, and most recently in Paris.
    What are we to make of this spate of attacks – on the Russian flight, on Beirut, and most recently in Paris – apparently undertaken or organised by IS or its disciples? First of all, IS has been growing for more than a decade. Its origins were in the US prisons in Iraq, set up following the US-led invasion in March 2003. A report by Martin Chulov (11/12/14) in the ‘Guardian’ states “Seventeen of the 25 most important Islamic State leaders now running the war in Iraq and Syria spent time in US prisons”. Secondly, they are Sunni muslims, they have well educated and smart leaders who are part of a Sunni elite of Sheiks and clerics, and they are completely ruthless. They and their followers have arisen from the ashes of US, British and western allies failed intervention policies in the region, and that is the most important fact.
    The immediate reaction of the French to this weekend’s horrifying attacks in Paris has been in exactly the same vein as the Bush-Blair decision following the 9/11 attacks in the US, and they too will prove to be – at best – counter-productive. Indeed, some observers have argued that this, along with an erection of further barriers to refugees from Syria, is exactly what IS wants because it feeds their stated worldviews and their recruiting slogans.
    What is needed is some very serious and open reflection on the catastrophic errors of ‘western’ foreign policy in the Middle East, and its failure to recognise legitimate grievances and its readiness to support illegitimate leaders when the moment suits them.

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