“Growth is slowing. Inequalities are rising. With Covid adding its own malign legacy to the challenges ahead, we need to sweep away a lot of that accumulated institutional clutter. And we need politicians prepared to face much more forensic scrutiny of what they are actually delivering. I fear that is not what’s on the ballot paper next month.”
The author, fiscal expert at FAI, examines the tax changes designed to achieve greater fairness made in the fifth Scottish Parliament – and the scope for reform and greater powers in the next.
“Holyrood needs to revive its commitment to power sharing and subsidiarity. At its inception, the Scottish Parliament could legitimately claim to be bold and innovative. It can be again.”
Since its inception, the Scottish Parliament has not been renowned for its reforming zeal. But the pandemic has thrown up a range of challenges that must be addressed if a ‘working’ system is to re-emerge in hospitals, schools and the courts. It is surely right then that the electorate has some idea of the competing views of each of the political parties as to how they intend to respond to the pandemic’s effects.
‘Devolution was grafted onto an unreformed centre, an unreformed state. Without addressing what is literally the central problem, the prospect of constitutional stability looks remote. There are glimmers of hope. The assumption that there is no demand for reform in England ignores recent, albeit rudimentary, developments in need of leadership, elaboration and mobilisation.’
‘The draft constitution agreed by the Conference could then be part of the pledge on which the case for independence is made. If the people then vote for independence, the new Constitution could simply be adopted as a schedule to a future Scotland (Independence) Act passed by the UK Parliament.’
“The EU, of course, makes a mockery of sovereignty. It might be argued that Brexit is evidence of its enduring relevance. But what it really shows is the pernicious legacy of the myth. The UK is losing control of its affairs. The hope that a second Trump Administration would ensure a good trade deal with the US has been shattered but even had this happened it spoke of the UK as limited and accountable, more as the 51st state than having ‘taken back control’.”
“Nicola Sturgeon and the other no longer young SNP nationalists are in a hurry. They need Johnson to confirm that his English Europe-hating Tories will indeed deny Scotland its centuries-old place as a small but distinct European nation that has contributed much to European science, philosophy, and culture.”
‘.Like the Bourbons, the Conservatives have learned nothing, and forgotten nothing. But Labour are in danger of the same. Time is running out for a reasonably well developed alternative option that might be included in a future referendum. Not only would this enrich a stale debate but would allow Labour to escape the potentially lethal embrace of working with the Tories again.’
‘Douglas Ross’s challenge as leader then is clear. He will have to convince the electorate that he looks at Holyrood in the same way as they do: as a place where things can and should be achieved and decided, rather than a pitstop on the way to something better. It’s just a shame he’ll have to wait until after the election before he can even make a start.’