A marital row over fiscal autonomy and costs, costs, costs

Hello, and welcome to this week’s roundup! Like Will and Richard, I have to comment on the fact that the silly season has been very kind to us here. August has come and gone, but politics has seemingly carried on as normal.

This week’s big story concerns an event that happened several weeks ago but took on a new relevance last week. Pat Kane of Scottish Futures was present at Professor Brian Ashcroft’s seminar ‘Sense and Nonsense in the Scottish Economic Growth Debate’ and decided to film a bit of it. Brian Ashcroft went on to put forward the case for fiscal independence (as opposed to fiscal autonomy).

Fast forward a couple of months and Brian Ashcroft’s wife, Wendy Alexander, is guaranteed to become the new leader of Scottish Labour. She hinted that Labour would be looking at fiscal autonomy as one possible option to pursue in the future. The Sunday Times picked up on the video and made the connection.

Will Patterson has also taken a look at it, suggesting that Brian Ashcroft has been sleeping on the couch.

I guess it is possible to overstate the relevance of this. Check out, for instance, Bellgrove Belle in the comments at Tartan Hero sensibly noting that Wendy Alexander can’t be held responsible for her husband’s views. It also looks to me a bit like Brian Ashcroft said it partly to get a reaction.

Nevertheless, it is a bit of a clanger — especially since last week the Scottish Secretary Des Browne said that Holyrood did not need any more powers. An opposite point of view to Brian Ashcroft’s apparent position, but still a contradiction of the path that Wendy Alexander (and Jack McConnell) have been heading down. It’s a tough life taking the middle ground, huh?

In other Wendy-Alexander’s-views-on-independence news, Richard Thomson takes a look at an interview in The Times.

Meanwhile, as Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems join up for a conversation on the powers of the Scottish Parliament, Julie Hepburn says their attempts to outflank the SNP will not work. And with Labour entering into this “pan-Unionist coalition” with the Conservatives, Scottish Politics asks, “Who are the Tartan Tories now?”

More on this comes from Justified Spinner. Meanwhile, Tartan Hero notes that a lot can change in 24 hours in politics.

Holyrood Watcher is not impressed by newspaper websites. He has a gripe about most of them, and you have to say that a lot of it is justified. I added my own thoughts here.

When I decided to start Scottish Roundup almost a year ago, one of the reasons was because of the lacklustre state of the Scottish media. It has not improved since then.

It’s not just the newspapers either — it’s broadcasters as well. Bellgrove Belle was upset to see Newsnight Scotland being replaced by football highlights and wonders why BBC Scotland couldn’t find the space to show both. She finds time to lay into Scottish football coverage in general as well. I’m not a big follower of football, but even I can tell that Scotsport is risible (its previous incarnation with ‘Sarah O’ will surely never be forgiven).

But the world can turn inside out, as David Farrer has a rare positive opinion about the BBC.

Meanwhile, Robert Sharp notes one area where bloggers have an advantage over newspapers.

Here is something else that you probably would not find in a newspaper (sadly). A typically in-depth post from Ministry of Truth who looks at scaremongering among the Scottish media and the Scottish Executive Government over airguns.

Blogging MSP Jamie Hepburn has found out how much PFI projects will cost taxpayers over their lifetime — £22.3 billion. Lots of people have made a connection between this and the proposed closure of schools in Edinburgh including Jeff at SNP Tactical Voting.

Blogging Edinburgh Labour Councillors (of which there are surprisingly many!) are getting particularly exercised about the proposed cuts. None more so, perhaps, than Andrew Burns who outlines what Labour would have done had they been in charge. Donald Wilson also puts forward his views.

Mind you. Maybe we won’t need so many schools if Standard Grades are as easy as GCSEs apparently are according to Cabalamat.

Schools are not the only controversy in Edinburgh at the moment. Trams are currently annoying a number of people. Mr H looks at some of the problems the project has run into and slaps his forehead. Pilton Sucks chips in as well.

More from the Edinburgh Labour camp comes from Elizabeth Maginnis. There is so much discussion about Edinburgh Council among bloggers. I wonder why you do not get this so much with other councils.

Health campaigner Julie Mcanulty takes a look at “the plight of the NHS”, with reference to that pesky PFI again. She is pleased that David Cameron has made the NHS an issue (and you thought it already was one!).

Talking of David Cameron, British bloggers in general have focussed a lot on his appearance on Newsnight this week. Here, CuriousHamster looks at David Cameron’s comments on marriage — what is the evidence he is talking about?

An alternative view on David Cameron’s performance can be found at kinglear.

Just in case you haven’t had enough about costs yet, here is Peter Murray on Shona Robison’s U-turn on relocating civil service jobs. It’s too expensive apparently.

Maybe some of this would be solved if large companies paid more taxes. Angus Nicolson notes that a third of the largest businesses in the UK pay no tax.

Back to the NHS again, and Clairwil notes how it is fighting back.

Next up, a quite remarkable quote from the leader of Edinburgh Council. According to Mr H at A Scandal & A Disgrace, Jenny Dawe is looking into bringing back the traditional robes and tricorn hat. Here is what she said.

“I’m not for a minute suggesting we should come into the City Chambers every day wearing robes, but there are important civic occasions when I feel it would be important to set us apart from the hoi polloi.”

More on this from Holyrood Watcher.

Elsewhere, Richard Havers wonders, is Holyrood becoming the new Westminster?

Mr Eugenides has an interesting post on the forest fires in Greece.

Of all the possible hurdles there could be ahead of the SNP’s proposed referendum on independence, which do you think would cause the most jitters? Brian Taylor thinks back to 1997, where the death of Princess Diana caused people behind the scenes to worry about the potential impact on the devolution referendum.

Good news for Gaelic speakers — Windows Vista is being translated into Gaelic “to assist the teaching of the language”, according to Celtic Phoenix.

Surreptitious Evil is not very pleased about the flags that Cumbernauld College is flying. I worked next to Cumbernauld College for two weeks earlier this year, and I was far more offended by the building itself.

Flying Rodent wants all of those weirdos to stop talking to him. My advice: buy a pair of headphones (you don’t even have to bother plugging them into anything) to make it easier to avoid those pesky conversations. Don’t tell Angry Steve though.

Inquisitor is not very happy about Ricky Gervais, whose offensive billboard is “taking up most of the West End of Princes Street”. For a picture and more Gervais-bashing, visit Richard Thomson.

These things are ten a penny, but if it’s your kind of thing, here is a good old fashioned fisking of Polly Toynbee by Reactionary Snob.

Finally, I am not sure if Anastasia Beaumont-Bott is eligible for inclusion here now that she has moved to Horsham. But I can’t help including this rumour she has heard about a possible imminent announcement of a General Election.

That’s all for this week, but I am sure you will agree that it was plenty. Silly season? What silly season?

By the way, this is quite a special roundup because it is going to be featured as part of the excellent Pods and Blogs segment on Radio 5 Live on Tuesday morning. The time is not the most sociable — between 2am and 3am. But it is also a podcast, so no excuses!

Also on Pods and Blogs this week will be a regular fixture and guest editor of Scottish Roundup, Mr Eugenides, who will be talking about the Britblog Roundup (to which this website owes so much). More info on the broadcast as and when.

(I would recommend listening to it whether Scottish Roundup was featured or not. Not only Pods and Blogs, but the whole Up All Night programme which has kept me sane on many a sleepless night.)

So welcome if you are reading for the first time this week as a result. I hope you like what you see and decide to stick around. We are always on the lookout for more Scottish blogs (not necessarily political ones), so please feel free to nominate either by using the form on the right or by emailing us at scottishroundup@gmail.com. Next week’s roundup will be by Will Patterson.