Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Nationalists’
What is the point of manifestos if they wont treat us as adults?
Sunday Mail, April 24th 2016
All the party manifestos are out – bar Labour. But the only really important one – that of the SNP – emerged this week.
It was an event. A spectacle. A cross between an American sports event and a Barbara Streisand concert, with the associated emotional overload.
It is all part of the modern election ritual. Part of the form and planned grid of the campaign which political and media professionals know and understand.
If we step back from the political bubble we have to question why all this fuss about party manifestos? They used to be thin things filled with vague pronouncements. Then they became thick and detailed. And now they are filled with photos and sunlit shots.
There are two positive examples of British manifestos – Labour 1945 and Thatcher 1979. The Labour one ‘Lets Face the Future’ was 27 pages long: short, concise and clear. It said things like ‘The nation wants food, work and homes’. It changed Britain for the better in ways we still live with. Read the rest of this entry »
The Scottish Pop-up Election will decide many things about our future
Sunday Mail, April 17th 2016
The Scottish election is underway – the winners already decided, the European referendum casting a shadow, and all the parties having difficulty shifting from the land of milk and honey to austerity and cuts.
One seasoned observer commented to me that the election wasn’t what things were like in his day, reminiscing about the joys of seeing Harold Wilson in Glasgow in 1966. This is the cry of the older generation down the ages; things aren’t the same, and everything – politics, elections, football – were better in the dewy-eyed days of their youth.
This contest says much about our country and future. There are perennial problems with Scottish contests in a British context, which are not treated as the ‘national’ election by the British media, and at best on a par with the local government London Mayoral contest, and often, relegated under it.
This contributes to our elections – seeming like in William McIlvanney’s words ‘a pop-up picture school of Scottish history’. He meant how our past is seen as all about kings and queens and isolated events, which people feel alienated from and don’t really understand. This has the look of a ‘pop-up election’ – with voters one step removed from a series of isolated events and photo-ops. Read the rest of this entry »
Scotland the Brave No More on Taxation
Sunday Mail, April 10th 2016
One theme has dominated this week in Scotland and the UK – taxation.
From April 6th 2016 the Scottish Parliament gained powers over a Scottish rate of income tax representing half of all income tax raised – and from next year it will have complete power over all this revenue.
The leak of the Panama Papers lifted a veil on the activities of the super-rich including 12 existing or former national leaders. David Cameron’s late father’s offshore tax arrangements became public, forcing Cameron’s office to make five statements on his tax affairs.
A new debate started among Scotland’s parties as they attempt to micro-differentiate; to show if they aren’t the Tories that they can mitigate ‘austerity’, and mark out alternative public spending choices.
Much of this is problematic. It is about relatively small amounts of money: Labour claiming to raise up to £110 million from a 50p tax rate on those over £150k; Lib Dems of £475 million with a 1p rise in the basic rate. Read the rest of this entry »
Scotland needs a Parliament with more radical voices
Sunday Mail, March 13th 2016
Nearly everyone assumes an SNP victory in the forthcoming Scottish elections.
There is a battle for second place between Labour and the Tories, while the leftovers will be fought over by the Lib Dems, Greens, UKIP and new left RISE.
An SNP majority government seems likely. The odds on the Nationalists winning every one of the 73 constituency seats are decent. There is the distinct prospect that they won’t quite manage it – with the Tories and maybe even Labour holding out in one or two places.
A significant amount of energy and expectation is being put into the return of a SNP majority, with supporters calling for a campaign of ‘both votes SNP’, and trying to closing down any kind of debate.
We have to ask however if majority government is a good thing in a Parliament elected by PR and with no second chamber? Does it aid better politics? And does the SNP deserve to be elected as a majority again? Read the rest of this entry »
Who will make the big, bold decisions if Nicola won’t?
Sunday Mail, March 6th 2016
These are supposedly exciting times in the broad sweep of Scottish history. There’s the epic spectacle of the referendum; a union questioned and nearly broken; and an upsurge of political engagement, activism and hopes.
Yet, sometimes the predominant story of any period belies much of what it is going on. Take the art of government and making decisions as an example.
How local government is paid for might sound arcane and boring, but it is one that politicians have long been wary of tinkering with. The Scottish rates revaluation of the 1980s brought in the poll tax, and the tax’s introduction in England helped seal the fate of Margaret Thatcher’s Premiership.
No one loves the council tax. It was introduced in 1993 to replace the controversial poll tax – being a return to a property-based tax, without calling it domestic rates. It is supposedly easy to understand, easy to collect, and more difficult to avoid than most of the alternatives. Read the rest of this entry »