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.’
‘A publicly run financial system investing in worker-owned firms would be a truly brave vision for Scotland’s economy – but do we have politicians who can see beyond the doom-laden horizons of Capitalist Realism?’ asks Ben Wray in a review of Varoufakis’s first foray into fiction.
‘Putting it bluntly, this kind of statistical amnesia will seem a little tawdry to anyone who invested belief and political capital in the First Minister’s approach.’ Our statistical expert ends the year of the pandemic as he began: savaging the misuse of data.
The BBC was once among the UK’s most respected institutions but no more – and it faces fresh competition from new upstarts like Andrew Neil’s GB News and Murdoch’s UK News. Break-up or renewal ahead?