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Let’s hope John Swinney has his wits about him. This is the most important week for public finances since the Barnett Formula was introduced in 1978.

THE discovery of gravitational waves involved decades of effort by some of the greatest scientific minds using mathematics of breathtaking complexity. Perhaps now they have confirmed Einstein’s relativity hypothesis, they could turn their attention to another issue of mind-bending difficulty: the fiscal framework for income tax devolution. I know: the debate about Scotland’s financial black … Continue reading

Rectors are Scotland’s great contribution to university governance. So why should only the “ancient” have elected chairs?

As the Herald reported yesterday, the chairs of Scotland’s universities are up in arms about the Government’s Higher Education (HE) Bill. Nothing surprising in that, you say, we’ve been told for months that the SNP is trying to abolish Scotland’s elected rectors, with their historic right to chair university governing bodies (courts) and replace them … Continue reading

A Trump v Sanders presidential is not impossible as insurgent politics grips USA.

They’re both calling for a revolution against the banks, corporations and Washington lobbyists, but the front runners in the race for the White House couldn’t be more different. The 74-year old self-styled “democratic socialist”, Senator Bernie Sanders, is the most left wing victor of a presidential primary in living memory. He’s also the first Jew … Continue reading

Brexit vote is there for the taking, but the shambolic Leave campaign can’t stop people leaving.

“WHO will speak for England?” asked the Daily Mail in a front page editorial last week. Well, so far only a politician who complains about foreigners with HIV coming to Britain, and an 83-year-old, climate change sceptic who lives in France. That would be the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, and the former Tory chancellor, Nigel … Continue reading

Kezia’s Penny for Scotland is too contrived; but she’s right to start the debate.

The Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, is to be congratulated for putting her money where her mouth is and calling for an increase in taxation in Scotland to raise half a billion pounds for public services. This is heroic stuff. It is a long time since Labour has gone into an election campaign promising to … Continue reading

Welcome to Cameron country: where tax is optional, EU workers lose rights and refugees are “a bunch of migrants”

SOME years ago, the actress Helena Bonham Carter remarked that David Cameron “wasn’t a right-wing” politician. She said he wasn’t even really a Tory and would probably be a reforming Democrat were he in American politics. David Cameron liked to call himself a liberal “compassionate” Conservative, who urged us all to “hug a hoodie”, build … Continue reading

Do we seriously believe that Britain would be too poor, too wee and too stupid to survive on its own outside the EU?

“Brexit could plunge Britain back into recession”, according to Morgan Stanley. “Vote to Leave could trigger economic and financial shock” says Credit Suisse. “EU exit could cost £55 billion a year” says think tank. The EU referendum debate has become a kind of bizarro version of the Scottish independence referendum, with banks, newspapers and think … Continue reading

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