Green by name, green by nature, is one way of summing up the financial acumen of the Scottish branch of the self-styled party of the environment.
Take the performance of Maggie Chapman, its co-convenor in Scotland, during a recent pre-election debate on BBC Scotland focussing on income tax.
Speaking in support of a Scottish top rate of 50 per cent (although the Greens would actually like it to be 60pc), Ms Chapman (pictured here with Scottish Green Party leader Patrick Harvie) made the point that should an individual leave Scotland because of not wishing to pay 50pc tax, that did not mean that the job would go too.
She then tried to illustrate this by saying that if someone vacated the post of university principal (because of high tax), the position of principal would still remain, and the job taken by another person willing to pay the tax.
For a supposedly serious example, this just about takes the biscuit. Of course the job would remain, one reason being that a university, so I am led to believe, has a statutory duty to employ a principal; and in a Scotland where there is a scramble for the best-paying State sinecures there would be no end of applicants willing to step up to the job, even if it meant part of the salary being subject to 50pc tax.
A better example would have been a director of an engineering business or software development company who has risked his own capital and worked damned hard to achieve annual remuneration in excess of £150,000.
Even though there may be potential to mitigate part of the extra levy through dividends rather than salary, a 50pc top tax rate will be an inhibition to further effort and expansion and lead future entrepreneurs to wonder if entrepreneurship is actually welcome in Scotland.
In comparison to Ms Chapman, John Swinney, who represented the SNP on the same programme, came over as a master of finance.
KENNY WHERE’S YER TROOSERS? FROM BHS, OF COURSE.
That High Street icon, BHS, has embarked on a rescue plan which will lead to redundancies, the closure of some stores and, following an agreement with landlords, the slashing of rents on those that do remain.
No wonder the previous owner, Sir Philip Green of the Arcadia Group, flogged it off just over a year ago for a quid, a move that absolved him from responsibility – legally at least- for the company’s £0.5 billion pensions shortfall.
BHS has been the wounded lion of retailing for several years yet this is a retailer which, from personal experience, I have always considered to be underrated. Just the other week I bought two pairs of trousers at their store in Princes Street, Edinburgh. Both pairs were reasonably-priced, look smart, are a good fit and – based on the evidence of past purchases from the same retailer – should retain their shape over a long period.
So why is BHS struggling when younger upstarts on the High Street are doing relatively well despite growing competition from the internet?
The view of this customer is that the layout and interior design of the stores themselves rather than the products they sell is where much of the problem may lie, if Princes Street is anything to go by. There the layout and presentation of the menswear department is not a patch on Marks & Spencer, next door, even though both might be said to be competing for a similar market.
The branch resembles a State-run co-operative you might have found in Warsaw or East Berlin, circa 1973; not even a first-floor café area with terrific views across to Princes Street gardens and the Old Town can lift the gloom.
So before mucking around with the product range the new top brass at BHS should give priority to making their stores more attractive to a wider (though not necessarily younger), more affluent customer profile. The products are basically sound, what’s wrong is the image – as espoused by the condition of its flagship in Scotland’s capital city.
GAY PLANET HOLYROOD
So another prominent Scottish politician – Kezia Dugdale – has voluntary come ‘oot’.
Last week the leader of Scottish Labour revealed she had a same-sex partner, prompting her to describe Holyrood as “the gayest parliament in the world”.
Thus Ms Dugdale aligns herself (not politically, of course) with two already ‘out’ gay Scottish party leaders, Ruth Davidson (Conservative) and
David Coburn (UKIP) while the Greens’ Patrick Harvie, is said to ‘bat for both sides’.
This means that of the leaders of the six parties currently engaging in Holyrood pre-election debates on television, three are gay, a fourth is half-gay, while a minority (two) are married and only one of these has children.
In this day and age a person’s marital, parental or sexual status is no barrier to an active life in politics (or business), nor should it be. On the other hand, the political leadership is hardly representative of the population at large given that the vast majority of adults in Scotland are married, or have been married, to a person of the opposite sex with whom they have had children.
With its ‘all-female shortlists’ and fast-tracking of black and other ethnic minority candidates, the UK political establishment has embraced positive discrimination more than most. Perhaps, in Scotland at least, that should be extended to those from within a traditional family unit.