“Change can be difficult and uncomfortable, but there is unlikely to be a better time to begin to dismantle some of the barriers which have impeded genuine growth. Scottish education needs to escape from the ‘iron cage’ of its own bureaucracy. This will require vision, honesty and courage, qualities that, sadly, have not been in plentiful supply among political leaders (of all parties) in recent years.”
“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.”
In a special guest blog, Sir Tom Hunter, whose eponymous Foundation commissioned the recent Raising Scotland’s Economic Growth Rate report from Oxford Economics, underlines how Scotland’s economy lags behind and needs radical change to catch up and rediscover its innovative dynamism.
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.
Going beyond recovery from the pandemic. In reviewing a recent book on Scotland post-Covid-19, we urge an ambitious, granular debate on the ways to transform our country and make it greener, fairer and more democratic for all.
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.
“..further Covid-related allocations are designed to support the economy during ongoing restrictions – and these provide the Scottish Government with further resources during 2021/22. In years beyond that, this was a budget that aims to rebuild the economy by leveraging investment, whilst raising more from tax and tightening the screw on public services spending. But there is no role in the future economic vision for welfare policy or public services spending.”
“And herein lies the rub with Scotland’s supposedly “radical” land reform journey. The measures so far have not transformed the big picture: some have merely dragged Scotland’s anachronistic land laws into the 20th century as the rest of the world has entered the 21st. Most changes have worked within the old paradigm, treading carefully—maybe even neurotically—around established property rights.”
‘…richer nations such as Scotland need to live up to their oft-repeated, much-vaunted proclamations in favour of global solidarity. So far, we’re not even talking about it in the pandemic.’
‘The outcome is indeed so vital for us all that the progress of the vaccination programme is the one topic that cannot be kicked into the long grass of some future Inquiry – and this knowledge must be shared as fully and as often as possible.’