Captain Hammond and the Mysterons

“In the past, the threats we faced came only from the sea, from land and, more recently, from the air.

Now, they also come from two new domains, space and cyber space, and from non-state protagonists as well as from nation states.”

The words of Philip Hammond, UK Secretary of State for Defence, from the speech he gave yesterday.

We know that he wasn’t really talking about alien invasion, fun ‘though it’s been to joke about that this morning, but rather more Earth-based space-based ‘threats’.

But as with all of the other Armageddon announcements of our impending military demise that BT throw at us, where or whom does this vague threat come from?

No nation on Earth currently has space-based weaponry that is known of. Even the USA, who imagined and later shelved their ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Son of Star Wars’ programmes, are not thought to have this capability. So who is it? And what do they want from a country with just 0.076% of the world’s population?

This information is, of course, ‘classified’…

But what if, as suggested by Hammond, the threat is from “non-state protagonists”? Are we talking about terrorist organisations or individuals?

Are we to believe that Al Qa’ida have a space programme?

Or perhaps it’s Richard Branson, because we all know how keen he is to get up there. What’s his REAL motivation?

Or even, heaven forbid, could Dr Evil have finally developed his “laser”?

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"Laser"

Even dismissing thoughts of ‘little green men’ from Hammond’s speech, the fact is that it is still a laughably implausible threat, and nothing more. Another infinitely vague and frankly insulting attempt to intimidate the Scottish electorate into believing that we have “the best of both worlds”.

But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, for just one last moment.

What if he’s right, and North Korea or some similar nation has Scotland in their sights from their moonbase?

What defensive strategies do the MoD have in place?

What Great British space programme will save our eternally ungrateful bahookies?

Or will Darling reveal his true identity at last and save us all…

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This Week’s Charts…

Harriet Harman has today WARNED us that if we become independent (not “GO independent”, as her party colleague and former English teacher, Johann Lamont, said yesterday during FMQs!), our minimum wage will be at risk of being cut, despite the Scottish Government’s pledge to at least increase it in line with inflation (’Scotland’s Future’). Harman claims that this is what happens when a smaller country competes with one with a larger economy:

“The danger is that, as with corporation tax, if you start competing against a larger economy, you reduce the cost of wages.
“There is a question mark over whether there would be a race to the bottom. Of course there would be.”

Leaving aside the fact that Scottish companies already compete with others in the rest of the UK, as well as the rest of the world, I decided to have a snoop around to find out what national minimum wages are like around the world.

The UK, with its current minimum wage of £6.31 per hour (…or £5.03 per hour if you’re aged 18–20 …or £3.72 per hour if you’re under 18 and finished compulsory education), comes in at reasonable sounding No.10 in the National Minimum Wage charts. So obviously all of the other countries above the UK in this chart are larger, with bigger economies? That would only be logical, given Harman’s wise words, wouldn’t it?

So let’s have a look at the NMW Top 10 (some music to listen to in the background as we count them down)

Staying at number 10, the UK, with a minimum wage of £6.31 an hour, or (US)$10.02…
A new entry at 9, the Netherlands, with $10.99…
Over two years at number 8, it’s Ireland, with $11.09…
New Zealand clinging on at number 7, with ‘We’ll Ensure You Don’t Work For Less Than $11.18 (Kiwi Mix)’…
(hope you’re listening to the backing track!)
Number 6 is Teeny Wee San Marino, earning a minimum of $11.49…

And now it’s time for the world’s NMW Top 5…

Belgium keeping the 5th spot, with $11.69…
In at 4, it’s the biggest country above the UK, it’s France, with $12.22…
Monaco sneaking in at number 3, with $!2.83…
At number 2, it’s the 170th biggest nation on Earth: Luxembourg! $14.24…
Which means that for the 500th week running, it’s Australia’s Men (and Women) At Work, with their smash hit, ‘We Come from a Land Down Under – Where the Minimum Wage is $16.88’!

Roll end credits. (you can stop the music now if you want)

So there we have it. Harman’s insistence that an independent Scotland will be unique in its inability to compete effectively in the world, unlike the countries listed above, which all have bigger national minimum wages than even the mighty UK, is frankly tosh. Only one of them (France) is of comparable size to the UK, both in terms of population and economy. The rest are SIGNIFICANTLY smaller, and some of the smallest nations on the face of the planet.

So, here’s a wee suggestion for Harman’s little speech/interview.