‘In the continental pre-summit debate, Brexit hardly gets a mention. The June summit is seen as the great test of President Macron’s ability to deliver some form of credible reform plan. The precise details may be less important than a sense of a clear direction of travel – the impression that the EU is willing to look beyond its familiar muddle and fudge and take charge of its own destiny.’
‘For me, the surprise is more in the way the media and parliamentary system has reacted to ‘target-gate’. We have had almost two decades of opposition parties, select communities and the media grilling governments on their failure to meet removals targets. This criticism has now been turned on its head: the fault lies in setting such clunky and unethical targets in the first place – not in the failure to meet them.’
‘This shared commitment is so different in character from the imposition of any neo-liberal ‘structural adjustment programme’ of the past imposed by the international financial institutions, or any diktat of the powerful emerging from the Security Council or from any single power.’
‘The name Immigration Removal Centre sounds harmless enough; just a pragmatic facility for holding people briefly on their way to another place. Don’t be fooled by the name. These places share the most punitive attributes of our prison service with none of the ameliorating facilities for improvement or rehabilitation.’
“It (review of timetable for BTP merger) needs to be independent, transparent and at arm’s length from government. Oversight by a board that is co-chaired by senior civil servants and reports to Scottish Ministers doesn’t pass this test and would allow the Scottish Government to mark its own homework.
The long term-aim must be to return to a society where houses are viewed as somewhere to live, not as vehicles for accumulating wealth. This can’t happen overnight, and it won’t be easy. The task involves taking on the unholy alliance of private developers, banks and – most difficult of all – ordinary homeowners, many of whom now view ever rising house prices as normal and just.
Advice For Our Times, a pop up event at Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery on Thursday 8 February, highlights gaps in advice, support and social services for people suffering adversity of many different kinds.
The language of Scottish education needs to become less boastful and sentimental, and more honest. Professor Walter Humes calls for a national policy debate with people prepared to ask tough questions and challenge orthodoxies of an under-achieving education system.
‘On balance, the SFC’s GDP forecasts are not out of kilter with the recent past. And the SFC assumes that there will be no ‘bounce-back’ in Scottish growth to recapture weak growth relative to the UK over the past 2.5 years’.
‘As 2018 begins, policing in Scotland is in crisis: no chief constable, a justice minister facing political and legal challenges over his behaviour and a national police authority forced to re-establish its reputation and define its role. A close examination of the structures is urgently needed if this crisis is to be resolved’.