Commoditising student life

Is this the shape of higher education to come? In Scotland we worry about widening access; in London about being able to afford it all. The sheer cost of student living must act as a deterrent – and turn the entire HE experience into a commoditised service.

New Education Minister: raising standards

Her choice of Education Minister will be a defining element of Nicola Sturgeon’s likely cabinet reshuffle and of her first full five-year term as First Minister. The agenda could not be tougher or more complex – and the selection of the minister and team full of pitfalls. Here are a few pointers – and runners and riders.

Divided nation – Germany’s refugee crisis

Germany’s welcoming culture for more than a million refugees last year is under siege as Angela Merkel struggles to retain control. The Far Right is capitalising on doubts and anxieties, notably since the New Year sexual assaults on women in Cologne. The author returns to her home country and finds it divided anew but determined to defend its liberal democracy against the extremists.

Sturgeon’s runner-up on May 5?

Nicola Sturgeon will still be first minister on May 6. Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson are vying for the role of opposition leader in the next Holyrood term but both are really positioning themselves for the 2021 poll. Here we examine the prospects for the Scottish Conservative leader.

Swinney frets – or frits – about SRIT

The row over a 1p rise in income tax or SRIT has for once put the SNP and Scottish Government on the back foot. And that’s before increases in tax allowances kick in. This leaves local services painfully exposed – with worse to come. Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney need to revise their sums.

Taxing times in Scotland: Kezia’s penny

Scottish policy debate has moved into a new and noisier phase as the parties seek to differentiate themselves on tax. This greater fiscal candour is to be welcomed, even if it rips up the established ground rules of electoral politics. But this ain’t the whole story: control over benefits remains an outstanding issue.

Scotland through the fiscal looking glass

The Scottish Government has dismissed pressure from Labour to offset cuts in spending on local services with a 1p on the Scottish Rate of Income Tax. It rejects pressure from the Treasury to agree a fiscal framework it say will cost Scots billions. No detriment, it says: but at another’s expense?

Basic income no, job guarantee yes

Inequality is one of the biggest challenges facing the global economy as the 1% get richer and richer. Industry 4.0 may worsen the divide as millions go jobless. Some, like the Scottish Greens, say a universal basic income is an answer. Here a leading German social democrat opts for a public jobs guarantee instead.