“The British Conservative Party, perhaps more so than most other mainstream centre-right parties in Europe, has long flirted with populism – even (her critics would doubtless say ‘especially’) under Margaret Thatcher. But it has never embraced it as fully, and as recklessly, as it seems to be doing right now.”
‘So, whilst the rhetoric may have softened, the constitutional paradox remains. Scotland can leave if it has a lawful vote to do so, but there is no way of having a lawful vote. For now, anyway. And there is no plan to have a plan.’
‘If the 2021 Holyrood election is remembered as a turning point it will be because it was the catalyst for a referendum. The manifesto and style of politics adopted by the SNP do not suggest that Scotland is about to be transformed in any way comparable to critical elections of the past in terms of public policy.’
“The quality of our democracy depends on the quality of the political debate within the public sphere. New campaigning techniques represent a real threat to both the debate and our democracy and something needs to be done urgently to address this problem.”
‘Rather, the government has a responsibility to step back and let the voice of the population be heard on this matter, and should be genuinely willing to listen to public opinion.’
“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.”
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.
“..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.”
As epitaphs are written for the Union of 1707, prematurely or not, the author argues that unionists misunderstand it: it’s a process under constant negotiation.
“Scotland should also develop its own niche areas of expertise, starting with the gamut of environmental issues related to climate change. Indeed, the aim for the coming years should be: ‘Scotland – the Green Capital of Europe.’”