Old Taxes and New Ministers

What a week! We found out that LIT is now in a coma for at least two years, that Ministers happily accept invitations to resign, that Glasgow has new MSP and that the Treaty of Rome’s provisions for the free movement of people which got people so riled last week doesn’t actually apply if the Home Office reckons you might offend someone. The good news is that there’s an impending upturn in the keyboard industry, as so many have been worn out at the amount of blogging that’s been done.

Anyway, we start with the suspension of any further progress on the SNP’s plans to replace Council Tax with a Local Income Tax, as predicted in advance by Green_Anorak. Angus reckons the policy needed to be put to one side so that improvements could be made, and Stuart reckons that’s precisely why it was left to one side, while Holyrood Watcher thinks it shouldn’t come back at all.

James thinks this announcement could have been made ages ago, as it’s been obvious that the plan didn’t have a majority in Parliament for some time. Kez and Stephen reckon that, seeing as LIT was left to one side on the grounds that it couldn’t command majority support, the referendum on independence should be the next to go.

Ideas of Civilsation believes that, for the first time, Ministers sounded like politicians, and foresees trouble ahead. Caron, meanwhile, brands the SNP defeatists.

On the other side, Malc argues that LIT’s demise is far from permanent and that this is what happens when you have a minority government. Jeff agrees that with a lack of both Parliamentary support and sufficient funding, the policy needed to be left to one side for now, while Richard Thomson agrees, and notes the absence of an alternative from Labour. Justified Spinner isn’t impressed with Iain Gray’s manifesto-ripping reaction, and Calum suggests that while it was a difficult decision, and the Opposition could have inflicted serious damage, the impact Labour have had over this issue has been limited. And Julie suggests that Labour’s reaction might not go down too well on the doorstep. Meanwhile, Holyrood Patter is surprised that the independence argument has been hitched to this issue.

Elsewhere, Ewan Aitken wonders what this will mean for the Council Tax freeze, which was intended to be temporary until the introduction of LIT, while Andrew Burns thinks now would be a good time to discuss Land Value Tax.

Staying with money, Gus looks at politicians’ tendency to blame bankers for the current financial crisis, despite creating the conditions for bankers to act as they have , and not proposing any solutions to the problems in the way things are done. And Justified Spinner notes that far from protecting HBOS, the merger with Lloyds TSB is actually dragging the latter down!

Elsewhere, there were Ministerial changes in Scotland this week, with Linda Fabiani, Stewart Maxwell and Maureen Watt being sacked, Mike Russell being promoted, and Keith Brown, Roseanna Cunningham and Alex Neil filling the vacancies. Andrew Burns is stunned that the reshuffle only affected Junior Ministers, Holyrood Watcher wonders why they were dismissed, though Drew reckons the departing frontbenchers weren’t up to the job. Kez reckons the new Ministers can hardly be considered fresh faces. Lallands Peat Worrier reflects on the old ones and the timing of the announcement, a point echoed by Ideas of Civilisation, who notes that both the reshuffle and the announcement of job losses at RBS co-incided with the testimony of four disgraced former bankers before the Treasury Select Committee at Westminster. Incidentally, I dig out the agreement made between the SNP and the Greens in May 2007, and suggest that this week, it was broken.

Someone else with a new job in politics this week is Anne McLaughlin, otherwise known as IndyGal, who this week was sworn in as the new MSP for Glasgow following Bashir Ahmad’s death. And it’s been a rocky start: the MSM dredged up a post on her blog where she displayed her photojournalistic tendencies at Holyrood, and slated her for her ‘lack of respect’. Bloggers then stepped up to defend her – and not just SNP ones, either. Who says we don’t have a Union? Anyway, David McDonald kicks things off with a tribute to Bashir Ahmad. Some of Anne’s friends in the SNP defend her over the MSM attacks, most notably BellgroveBelle and Julie. From those of other (and no) affiliation, Stephen reckons the attacks on Anne are hypocritcal in a political culture where people are happy to brief the press anonymously, Stuart reckons the reaction is OTT, and Duncan is dismayed about how what people post online can come back to haunt them.

Tory Bear has two posts on the Edinburgh University Rectorial Elections: Iain MacWhirter has defeated George Foulkes and it’s little wonder when Foulkes opted to attend events at the wrong Uni.

Meanwhile, keyboards have been put through their paces over the planned visit by Islamophobic Dutch politician Geert Wilders to the UK, and the Home Office’s decision to turn him back at Heathrow Airport. Yousuf Hamid cheers the decision, but most bloggers opt for a Voltairean approach. Malc wonders if the Home Office would turn back the Pope, who in the past has made statements about Islam that echo the sentiments expressed by Wilders, Caledonian Jim catalogues other people who have issued some offensive, hateful words and whose presence in the UK is tolerated, and Lallands Peat Worrier asks why his views are less acceptable in London than in Leiden.

Bernard Salmon argues that, while his views are repugnant, the presence of Wilders wouldn’t necessarily incite violence, while Bishop Hill wonders why prominent defenders of civil liberties such as David Davis and Shami Chakrabarti have been silent on the matter. Alex Massie takes a look at Wilders and concludes that he is a boor and a bigot, but that he is still entitled to free speech.

And on a similar theme, Clairwil reflects on the Carol Thatcher brouhaha.

Neil Craig has two posts on his attempts to engage with SEPA over radioactivity in Dalgety Bay – a tenner says it ends up being traced to a kebab shop.

Caron wonders why SNP activists, so active in the blogosphere and on Facebook, haven’t quite jumped onto Twitter yet. And Stephen discusses the latest instalment in the Iain Dale/Derek Draper bunfight.

That last link seems like the ideal moment to introduce this post by Flying Rodent, on a much understudied section of society.

Bernard Salmon looks at proposed changes to the sexual offence laws.

Tom Harris deserves a writing award for his glorious (and hopefully ironic) attempt to make poll numbers look good for Labour. For some reason, it made me go “Awwww!” and want to take him home and put him on the mantle piece next to the oil burner and the Wedgwood saucer.

James asks why there are still rows about oil in the 1970s when the oil in question is running out.

Caron wonders why she should be entitled to free prescriptions when she doesn’t necessarily need them.

Mr. Eugenides has linked to the infamous Sandi Thom duet with Alex Salmond. Frankly, I’d have thought it was ample justification for people of all parties to agree that, in a straight choice between remaining in Bute House and embarking on a career in music, it would be better for the First Minister not to give up his day job.

Finally, James raises a smile about signing off a letter.

Speaking of which, I’m signing off too for another week. Later on in the week it’s the NoPoBloRo, hosted by Lis, while Duncan is in the hot seat next Sunday. As always, you can mail suggestions to scottishroundup@gmail.com or you can use the skibadabedoobop on the right. Bye-de-bye!


  1. Will I’m disappointed there was no reference to Valentines Day. Politicians and political bloggers do have hearts you know 🙂