‘Not everything is about the constitution. We need to find a way out of the lazy constitutional rut Scottish politics has descended into. This is not to suggest that the constitutional question or relations between London and Edinburgh are unimportant, only that there are other ways of looking at politics and policy. Even in the midst of this crisis, this needs to be a learning exercise and not only when we look back and seek to learn lessons retrospectively.’
Ahead of the Westminster election on 12 December, James Mitchell explains how party competition in Scotland is shaped by interrelated questions of policy, competence, independence and Brexit…’
‘In both camps, there are those who are closer to those in the other camp than the binary choice would suggest. The challenge five years on is to allow the richness of the debate that emerged to find voice again and to play a more direct role in the next stage of Scotland’s continuing journey.’ Self-government fully debated stages a comeback? asks Prof Mitchell
‘Fiscal responsibility is the flip side of fiscal autonomy. Those who argue for more money from the Scottish Government without proposing new powers for local government to raise own revenue are also playing a blame game.’ First in a series on centralisation/local autonomy
‘ Today, the Conservative Party is emphatically more nationalist than the SNP but some of its leading members still criticize the nationalist mote in the SNP seemingly oblivious to the beam in its own ideology’.
“A similar stiff upper lip will be required amongst many Labour candidates going into this election with the hope that they too might in time sit on the Commons’ green benches with similar majorities some time in the future.” Prof James Mitchell on ScoLab’s vale of tears
“The Scottish Tories have happened upon a strategy to avoid association with the Conservatives in London. For the moment, keeping the issue of Scottish independence simmering away works for the Tories. But an issue that has been simmering can easily come to the boil. There is a danger, as David Cameron discovered to his personal cost, in stoking the fires to keep an issue simmering.”
“The referendum created a realignment in Scottish politics allowing the SNP to fulfil its long-standing ambition of replacing Labour. But it may also signal a change in the nature of political activity. That may be put to the test in the next couple of years.” A look forward to the SNP conference – and beyond
“Nicola Sturgeon’s decision on the timing of the independence referendum is likely to be the most important of her leadership. If she gets it right her place in Scottish history is assured but if she gets it wrong her time as First Minster would be over. It can be very lonely at the top.”
The greatest danger facing the Scottish Tories may prove to be unrealistic expectations. The party is far from secure in its position as Scotland’s second party and has a long way to go before it can claim to have even won over what many see as its ‘natural level of support’.