Friday, 3 February 2012

Should the English Vote on Scottish Independence

The issue of Scottish independence has been in the news a lot recently, with debates over the question that should be used, whether it should be a single question, or one just on independence and another on more powers for Scotland instead. However one issue that I have found particularly interesting is who should be able to vote?

This issue came up the other day and I was surprised that so many people I was talking to thought that the rest of the UK should be able to vote on Scottish independence. Perhaps even more surprising is that two of the people were Scottish.

It had never occurred to me that the English, Welsh or Northern Irish should have a vote on the matter. I know it will affect these people but the right to determine their own future should solely remain with the Scots. If they want independence, they should have it. However I think if they vote against it then the issue of both the West Lothian question, and differing policies on Universities, prescriptions etc. need to be addressed. If Scotland wants independence, it should have it, if not it should not be subsidised by the rest of the UK over and above what is given to other regions, although this is another argument for another time.

The key problem I see with the rest of the UK voting on Scottish Independence is what happens if Scotland votes in favour of independence and the rest of the UK goes against. It would be ridiculous to suggest that Scotland would then have to remain part of the UK, despite not wanting to. The other possible situation, that isn't a mutual agreement, is that Scotland votes to stay and the UK votes to get rid of Scotland. Again I don't think it is acceptable to kick Scotland out and so any vote in this sense would just create resentment among the rest of the UK.

The best solution is to allow Scotland to decide on their own future, although debates about the question and allocation of oil revenues and debt should be agreed on far before any vote takes place.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Globalisation and the Financial Crisis

Globalisation is a very difficult subject to avoid at the moment. It is not only Occupy Wall Street protesters, left-wingers and anarchists that are making it a key topic of debate, nearly all politicians and political leaders argue about it as well. The Institute for Public Policy Research, led by Lord Mandelson, recently published a report on the subject arguing that we are entering a third wave of globalisation. The report argues that the first wave was defined by colonialisation, the second wave by deregulation and liberalisation of global markets, and the third wave will lead us into great interdependence.

However, not everyone agrees that globalisation is real. Anthony Giddens argues that there are sceptics, typically on the political old-left, who claim that globalisation is a myth used by ‘free-marketeers’ to dismantle welfare states and increase the power of the capitalism. Giddens argues that this is not true and that we are moving into a world of increasing interdependence, but not just economically, but socially, culturally and technologically as well.

I think Giddens is right here, that globalisation is a reality, and that interdependence will increase, however globalisation is very unequal and that in the future instead of being Western led, the East will play a key role in globalisation.

The financial crisis offers an interesting perspective on globalisation. General consensus is that the crisis was triggered by defaults on sub-prime mortgages originating from the US government back mortgage lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. This caused huge repercussions around the globe, which are still being felt today as Greece seems in danger of defaulting and most other developed economies struggling to achieve growth. However the emerging economies, and particularly China, although affected, still continue to grow strongly.

This would appear to offer evidence that the economic system is not globalised as if it was surely GDP in China would have fallen along with other countries? China was affected and did have to alter some policies, including lowering interest rates. Furthermore people in emerging economies have had to deal with rising food and oil prices, as well as other commodities. However the impact of the crisis on non-Western societies has generally not been as great as the effect on Western societies, particularly in terms of dealing with sovereign debt crises. In some instances, such as Qatar, countries have actually benefited in a way from the credit crunch.

Therefore it appears that although globalisation is very real, and there is independence amongst nations, the idea that the financial crisis was a globalised phenomenon that has bought the whole global economy to its knees is another example of Western-centric thought. In the future the situation may be very different, as Western economies stagnate and emerging economies become the economic powerhouses globalisation may come to mean something very different to people in the West.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Get Lots of Backlinks Easily

Link building is the key to getting to the top of any search engine results page (SERPs), but in particular google. Many experts claim that 20% or search engine optimisation (SEO) work is done on page and the rest is off page, the majority of which is backlinks. I think now that almost anyone who has researched SEO knows enough about on page techniques that it is more a case of it being a hindrance if you have not done the right things, than a benefit if you have done them.

Therefore this leaves building backlinks as being the key to boosting your page or site in SERPs. There are so many articles on this subject that to simply repeat the basics would be repetitive and useless, so instead I will share my experience in building backlinks through blog comment posting. Many people may discount blog comment posting as nearly all comments are 'nofollow' however there is a great article that argues otherwise here - Nofollow links do have value.

However I do agree with most on the other aspects of article posting: make sure your post adds something and is interesting otherwise it will probably be deleted as spam and is very irritating for bloggers. Furthermore make sure it is something you are interested in as a backlink from the same niche will benefit you and your post will then benefit everyone else if you are an expert/interested in that niche!

My tips are fairly practical. Obviously if you find a PR8 blog with dofollow comments then post on it. These tips are more for everyday posting on standard blogs, probably PR0 - PR2 with 'nofollow' comments.

So, onto my tips for blog comment backlinks. These are by no means complicated but should get you the best output for your time commenting.

  1. Firstly look for blogs with recent comments widgets. From one post on these I have seen 700+ backlinks, even if they have been nofollow, however I did get 700+ backlinks from a PR3 site in the same niche which did help my search results. The problem is that the bigger and more popular the site the less time you will stay on the recent comments part, so bear that in mind.
  2. Another way to get lots of backlinks from posts - and a more permanent way - is to find blogs with most comment widgets, so that if you log in and comment on several articles then you will permanently appear in the widget and get a link to your site. Again this is easier on smaller sites where there is less competition.
  3. My final tip for today is to recommend that you bookmark every page you comment on. Then go back a few weeks later and check if your comment was approved and whether it was approved (there are loads off add ons for browsers to automatically check nofollow links), and if it was then add it to a bookmark list or file and use it for future sites.

Most of these tips are fairly practical, but I think that SEO is all about perseverance, unfortunately there is no magic trick unless you have an incredible idea.  There are also other necessary practices such as article posting and guest blogging, but I hope these tips help! 

Please submit comments with your tips, I do have a recent comments widget so you may benefit, but I do check comments as well so no spamming!