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SNP wins first budget vote

Something extraordinary happened last week, though you wouldn’t have realised from the patchy coverage it received in the press. The minority nationalist government in Scotland got its first budget accepted, in principle, by parliament by a majority of two votes. Only nine months ago, the consensus was that the SNP would be lucky to survive … Continue reading

Yet more dodgy donors

Perhaps they should all just resign in one go so that they can collectively ‘clear their names’. Well, there’s strength in numbers after all, and nothing could be worse than having this endless succession of senior Labour figures paraded across the front pages over dodgy donations. This affair is now completely out of control. Latest … Continue reading

Zut alors! Rogue Trader loses it.

I don’t know about retail prices, but inflation in financial fraud is clearly rampant. No rogue trader would get out of bed for the £800 million Nick Leeson blew on Barings bank ten years ago. Le Rogue du jour, Jerome Kerviel, who nearly broke Societe General, had to gamble away £3.6 billion make any kind … Continue reading

Legislate in haste, repent at leisure. Labour’s donations laws come back to haund them.

Legislate in haste; repent at leisure. When Labour passed the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, 2000, it was meant to be the final word on sleaze. The law was to be zero tolerance, strict liability, and would clean up politics once and for all. No one was to escape the net. But they never … Continue reading

The Scottish government goes sub-prime.

Well, it was nice while it lasted. Until recently, the Scottish government seemed to be talking sense about housing. It had quietly abandoned that manifesto commitment to giving a £2,000 bung to first time buyers. The SNP minister, Stewart Maxwell, said the priority was to improve planning laws to promote house building and abolish or … Continue reading

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Be afraid; be very afraid. The credit crisis is now spreading like financial Black Death. As the property market tanks, companies like Edinburgh-based Scottish Equitable have rushed to help their investors by refusing to let them take out their money – it’s in their best interests after all – while Equitable continue to charge fees. … Continue reading

I’ve been Wendied.

I’d like to give you the inside story of last week’s historic summit meeting in London of new Scottish constitutional commission. Unfortunately, the leading light, Wendy Alexander, isn’t speaking to me any more. Something I said, apparently. Now I know what it is to be ‘Wendied’. As it happens, all participants are pretty tight lipped … Continue reading

Why take money from businessmen and then try to hid it?

What have they got to hide? Why do Labour politicians create complex and often illegal conduits to disguise the obvious fact that they get a lot of their money from businessmen? This is the question at the heart of the recent spate of donations scandals involving Wendy Alexander, Peter Hain and others. Invariably, the trouble … Continue reading

Save the Hain

Look, I think the press and opposition parties need to take a long hard look at themselves over the way thay have harried and harrassed Labour ministers over their campaign donations. Harriet Harman, Wendy Alexander and now poor Peter Hain. You can’t expect a busy politicians to bother about every last hundred grand, or understand … Continue reading

Separate development is the wise option On nuclear energy at least

It’s a pity that Gordon Brown and Alex Salmond haven’t spoken since August, because if they had, they might have been able to avoid last week’s demeaning spat over the new generation of nuclear power stations. There is a perfectly rational and adult solution to this issue: While England reinvents the atom, why not let … Continue reading

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