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Budget madness

So what was that all about? The wheels of government nearly seized last week; local authorities prepared for an emergency council tax hike and staff cuts; there was talk of an early election. Yet, what plunged the Scottish parliament into turmoil was an eleven million pound shortfall in a home insulation programme – a sum … Continue reading

Obama Messiah

Barack Obama used to joke about his being regarded as the Messiah by awed supporters. But he’s going to have to be a real miracle worker if the 44th Presidency of the United States is not to end in disappointment and disillusion. Never as an incoming world leader had such an in-tray of unmitigated doom: … Continue reading

Shritti Vadera – and other pests

Winter is a time of hibernation, when plants lie low below the ground hiding from the cold. But it is also a time of great expectation, as the garden prepares to come alive again and burst greenly onto the vibrant stage of spring. Tenacious bedding plants like the Vadera Shriti can be found even in … Continue reading

Lords a-lobbying

It’s good to see that, in these difficult times, one industry in Britain is still thriving: political sleaze. Firms may be cutting back on hospitality and executive jets, but there’s no shortage of funds to buy members of the House of Lords. We’ve had cash for honours, now it is cash for laws. The going … Continue reading

True lies in the Scottish parliament

And so to Holyrood where that the Presiding Officer, Alex Fergusson, has ordered an inquiry into whether or not politicians tell the truth in parliament. I presume he will follow this with an investigation into the toilet habits of bears in afforested areas and a commission to determine the attitude of the Pope to the … Continue reading

Crunch time for students as the debt crisis hits

Gordon Brown is doing his bit for the long term unemployed by creating jobs for redundant cabinet ministers and their aides. Recycling Peter Mandelson as Business Secretary has been such a success that the PM is returning another Blairite job seeker, Alan Milburn, to the fold. And reportedly trying to persuade Alistair Campbell to become … Continue reading

It’s time to nationalise the banks

When even New Labour is talking about nationalisation of the banks, you know that the financial crisis really has become serious. The Labour chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, John McFall – no Marxist he – called last week for a State Bank, based on the Post Office network, to provide credit for industry. Some … Continue reading

It’s resignation time again.

It’s become almost as much a part of Scottish tradition as Burns night. Around this time of the year, as the days start to get longer, you hear the first plaintive cries of SNP ministers offering to resign. Last year it was the First Minister, Alex Salmond who promised to fall on his sword; this … Continue reading

Why Iain for Rector?

Edinburgh University was where my career began, when I was a politics postgraduate student in the 1970s.  Now I’m ready to put something back. As Scotland enters its worst economic crisis in half a century, these are uncertain times for students and staff.  Now, more than ever, they need to know that their voice is … Continue reading

The Gordian Knot

In 1988, when two City financial superbrats, Stephen Partridge-Hicks and Nicholas Sossodis, invented structured investment vehicles (SIVs) they inadvertently ignited the fuse that blew up the world’s financial system in the Crash of 2008. Their company, called “Gordian Knot” helped banks devise ingenious ways to hide their extravagant risk-taking by creating off-balance-sheet companies. Structured finance … Continue reading

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