“Opportunities for Labour arise from an SNP that excels in performative politics but fails in policy performance. The respective and competing nationalisms of Edinburgh and London governments are shrill and limited in their understanding of self-government. You cannot ‘take back control’ by focusing on empowering London or Edinburgh at the cost to all else. Labour has some way to go but with an independence referendum unlikely any time soon it does have some time.”
“We hope that a clear, transparent, assessment of financial requirements, that meets with consensus from those who know, work for and draw on these services, emerges. An underfunded National Care Service is unlikely to do any better than the system that it seeks to replace.”
A conversation about a future which has already been decided from the top won’t encourage people to talk. Genuine consensus must emerge from the bottom up.
Whether or not Scotland can legally hold a referendum without the consent of Westminster has provoked much debate. Ciaran Martin argues that the answer to this question does not really matter: regardless of the legality of any referendum, it is unrealistic to think that Scotland will leave the Union without the consent of Westminster. This makes the key question a political one, which the courts cannot resolve.
“For now, there’s a mismatch between the Scottish Government’s vision of a more successful Scotland – where poverty is reduced, and economic growth is sustainable – and how we assess public sector performance. I am not convinced that public sector leaders really feel accountable for delivering change that demands different organisations work together.”
‘The risks are higher for the Greens than they are for the SNP. Voters are likely to see any failure of government as Green failure too. And with only two ministers, their ability to effect meaningful change is limited. They may find themselves carrying the can for any mistakes without ever having been in a position to take a different path.’
Germany’s Social Democrats are emerging as the surprising potential winners in the general election of September 26 under Olaf Scholz. Is the EU’s most important member about to opt for seismic change?
“..whilst natural resources from coal to oil and gas to wind and tidal have been pivotal to recent Scottish history, we have to understand them in terms of their constitutive role in human social relations. These themes will become only more pivotal as the energy future dominates political discussion and the urgency for socially just climate action continues to grow.”
‘Our findings mean that northern Scotland has among the highest rates of Huntington’s disease in the world. Its prevalence is almost three times greater than reported elsewhere in Europe (4.7 per 100,000); North America (4.1-5.2 per 100,000); Japan (0.1 per 100,000); Australia (5.70 per 100,000 people) – and more than five times the estimated worldwide rate of 2.71 per 100,000 people.’
Bold declarations of climate emergency and world beating targets came before the pandemic showed just how quickly human behaviour can change. We can do it when we have to. Yet last year’s euphoric thoughts of ‘building back better’ seem to have got lost.