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It’s not often I have to apologise to bankers…

It’s not often that I find I have to apologise to bankers. But in an article last week on the 50p tax row I said that the additional rate on those earning above £150,000 was essentially a “bankers tax” because, with their bonuses and inflated salaries, they are the only group in Scotland who earn … Continue reading

The SNP is now so confident of its political hegemony that it can park its conscience.

IT’S the oldest tale in politics. A radical party wins power on the strength of a widespread popular movement. Then it becomes the target of powerful private lobby groups and gradually its radicalism is jettisoned for economic “realism” – which invariably seems to be the realism of the rich and powerful. It happened to Labour … Continue reading

Narcissism of small differences likely to dominate Holyrood elections.

POLITICS is often called a dialogue of the deaf, but on Thursday’s First Minister’s Questions it really was. Labour’s Kezia Dugdale seemed unable to hear Nicola Sturgeon ruling out lifting the threshold for higher rate taxation as outlined in George Osborne’s budget. Four times Ms Dugdale asked and four times she got the same message: … Continue reading

Only a tea party with Trump could stop Nicola Sturgeon’s landslide in May

WE are about to enter the first Holyrood election in nearly a decade that will not be fought over independence or the early prospect of it. Nicola Sturgeon seems in no hurry to call that second referendum, even though the forthcoming Europe referendum could pull Scotland out of the EU. And the opposition parties in … Continue reading

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

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

Holyrood has turned into a race of also rans, a contest for losers.

Both Labour and the Conservatives tried to relaunched their Scottish Parliament election campaigns yesterday. The fact that they have been described as “stalled” 100 days before polling day tells you all you need to know about the state of the Scottish opposition. The Holyrood election is a race of the also rans, a contest of … Continue reading

Two parliamentary elections in two years and two independence referendums: prepare for voter fatigue in 2016

SCOTLAND’S voters could be forgiven for complaining about election fatigue. They had the nerve-racking excitement of the 2014 independence referendum, which divided Scotland down the middle. Then there was the Tsunami General Election of 2015 when the Unionist parties were swept into political oblivion. Now Scots are being invited to deliver another landslide to the … Continue reading

2015: the year Scotland turned SNP yellow while England remained Tory blue.

N the early hours of May 8, 2015, a 20-year-old politics student, Mhairi Black, defeated the Labour campaign chief, Douglas Alexander MP, one of the most experienced and highly regarded figures in the UK Labour Party. It was the most dramatic and poignant moment in the most extraordinary general election in Scottish history, which drew … Continue reading

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