Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Nationalists’

The Real Glasgow Effect on all of us

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 10th 2016

Glasgow is many things. It is a place, an idea and a story.

Willie McIlvanney once captured this writing: ‘Glasgow is a great city. Glasgow is in trouble. Glasgow is handsome. Glasgow is ugly. Glasgow is kind. Glasgow is cruel.’

There is a Glasgow industry of books about the city – the biggest and most burgeoning concerning any UK city – London apart, which is over ten times its size. There are dry academic accounts and studious examinations. There are cultural tours. Then there is football – ‘the Old Firm’ and occasionally Hampden, Queen’s Park and the Scotch Professors. There are gang memories of violence and crime of a grim, Razor City. For light relief there are celeb biographies of the city’s celebrated sons and daughters from Dorothy Paul to Elaine C. Smith. Finally, there are coffee table books of photographs – sometimes historic, sometimes of the present.

This adds up to seven types of Glasgow Book which according to Christopher Booker in his ‘The Seven Basic Plots’ is the number of elemental stories in the world. Let’s leave aside that he attempts to have his cake and eat it, by both having lots of micro-stories below the seven, and one unifying story which unites the seven. His point is that there are a limited number of stories. Read the rest of this entry »

Labour’s Taxing Problems: The Party is fighting for its very existence

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, February 7th 2016

This week Scottish Labour made a move on tax. Is it a daring or desperate move?

It broke with the party’s position since the Scottish Parliament was set up in 1999 not to propose any tax increases. At the same time, as the SNP retained its stratospheric poll ratings for the May elections, the Tories drew level with Labour for second place, while Labour issued their regional list candidates with an obvious lack of ‘new blood’ or talent.

With the Scottish Parliament gaining more taxation powers now and in the near-future, Labour have decided, along with the Lib Dems, to break ranks, in arguing for an increase of one penny in income tax.

Even the Tories have had a Tax Commission which wants to introduce a new 30p band in-between the 20p and 40p bands. This failed on the first hurdle of what it was meant to be for: tax neutrality, increases or decreases. Read the rest of this entry »

The Phoney War in British and Scottish Politics Will End Soon

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, January 10th 2016

The big news this week wasn’t the Corbyn re-shuffle of people no one had heard of. Nor was it Cameron’s retreat on the Euro referendum over Cabinet collective responsibility. And it certainly wasn’t Donald Trump threatening to pull future investments from Scotland.

Nor was it the hostile words between Saudi Arabia and Iran or continued anxieties about terrorism. Instead, it was instability in the world economy, Chinese economic wobbles, their currency devaluing again and stock market falling by 7%, contributing to a mind-blowing £2.5 trillion being wiped off world markets in a matter of days.

While these turbulent economic storms blow over our heads, British and Scottish politics are strangely becalmed, focused on the small stuff, and seemingly unaware of choppy times ahead.

The Conservative Party has mastered the art of success for more than 150 years. George Osborne this week emphasised that austerity wasn’t over and people couldn’t just start spending the proceeds of growth.

In the real world, the economic recovery is fragile and unbalanced based on personal consumption, spiraling household debt, property prices and the biggest Balance of Payments deficit in UK history. London house prices sit at an ‘average’ £531,000: more unsustainable than the Blair/Brown ‘bubble’ of fantasyland Britain. Read the rest of this entry »

2016: The Year of the UK as a Disunited Kingdom in an Unstable World

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, December 27th 2015

‘The future ain’t what it used to be’ – said American baseball player Yogi Berra.

This year saw unpredictability, shocks and upsets. There was the election of a majority Conservative Government which no polls predicted. There was the tartan tsunami which saw the SNP sweep nearly all before it.

There was the rise and victory of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, while across the world a whole range of populists, from Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders to Marine Le Pen, waged constant war on their political establishments.

This means that the most confident prediction for the New Year is that the unforeseen will happen. To take some frivolous examples, if Leicester City can sit at the top of the English Premiership, and Aberdeen can run Celtic close in the Scottish Premier, maybe anything can happen?

2016 will see several key milestones and events: the Scottish Parliament elections, the London Mayoral contest, the European in/out referendum if Cameron has his way, and the US Presidential Election. Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Talk about Tax if we don’t want to be Safety First Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, December 20th 2015

This was a significant week for the Scottish Government and Scottish politics.

John Swinney presented his first ever budget since Scotland had been given limited income tax powers which allowed variety up or down by up to 10p. That he choose not to do so is significant.

Swinney’s ninth budget came against the backdrop of a decade of real terms cuts by the Tories which we are only half way through. Against this backdrop and a Scottish election next year which the SNP look certain to win, Swinney didn’t want to do anything to frighten the Nationalists huge support.

There was as expected no change in the basic rate of income tax (now with the lovely anachronism SRIT), while there are small changes in second home taxes and business rates alongside commitments to childcare and educational attainment. Read the rest of this entry »

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