Parliament: April 2008 Archives

Making life easy for the Nats

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loughton.jpgThe latest example of Labour's efforts to help the SNP have an easy ride at Holyrood is the apparent appointment of John Loughton to their Constitutional Commission talking shop. Not because he's not a smart lad, nor for any other personal reasons.

It's simply an open goal for the Nat bloggers, whose A1 jokes quickly feed into SNP press releases. Wait for it: "How long before Wendy gets voted out of the Big Brother house?" etc... In fact, they might even use "Big Bother house".

Also, with all due respect, John's got what it takes to sit on this Commission but George Reid hasn't?
In Salmond's Brian Taylor interview this weekend, he said something pretty revealing: that if the SNP got 20 seats in the next UK general election "we could make Westminster dance to a Scottish jig" (24:10 in this webcast). 

Now, I'm sure that wasn't the message his determined phalanx of press officers sent him in with.

Is the First Minister not worried about the effect that comments like that might have on anti-Scottish sentiment down south (examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)? Does he even perhaps relish any increase in the desire from the English to "see the back of the Scots"? 

I don't know. But imagine a hung Parliament where the SNP held some influence. If an English Tory MP in those circumstances complained that "The SNP are making Westminster dance to a Scottish jig" there'd be an SNP release slating this as another obvious example of anti-Scottish prejudice on the wires within ten minutes.

Update: apparently he did mean to say it, because he said it again in his address to conference. Silly me. However, I still think it's ill-judged.

What's more, he also implied that STV no longer made programmes (same webcast, at 29:55). Perhaps he thinks Michael Crow either won't watch Brian's interview. I doubt that. Although STV are grown-up enough not to take offence, if I were an SNP press officer I'd nevertheless be dreading the next time I have to ring them.

Clearing the logjam

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Following yesterday's landmark decision by Parliament to back our local taxation principles, the media did want a lot of Patrick last night. I didn't have to twist his arm. In reverse chronological order, here's Newsnight Scotland, first on local taxation, then on the rail franchise carve-up, and next there's Scotland at 10 back on taxation. Enjoy.

Newsnight on tax

Newsnight on trains

Scotland at 10 on tax

generation.gifToday's vote on local taxation is a true landmark. Holyrood did three things.

First, MSPs rejected Council Tax as "discredited, bureaucratic and unpopular".

Second, they noted the wide range of options being put forward, including our own Land Value Tax, the SNP's national tax on salary, the Liberals' local tax on salary, and a reformed Council Tax, which is what we presume Labour and the Tories would be pushing if they knew what reforms they wanted.

Finally, and most importantly, though, Parliament backed a set of Green principles for a future system of taxation: fairness, local accountability, the need to reduce tax avoidance and the wider social, economic and environmental impact of any proposed system of local tax reform on communities across Scotland.

It's almost impossible to see either the salary tax or the council tax meeting those criteria. It may be that the end result won't be land value tax, but I can't see anything else on the table that meets those criteria. A good day for the future of local taxation.

(image of a project by Micahel Tavel Architects and David Kahn Studio)

The Disorderly Houses Act 1751

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rakesprogress.jpgAs keen observers of politics will obviously know, this Act has largely been repealed, although Section 8 is still in effect. Until, that is, the Statute Law Repeals Bill goes through Westminster, and provided Holyrood endorses that repeal through a Sewel Motion next Wednesday.

Section 8 is worth reprinting here in full.

"And whereas, by reason of the many subtle and crafty contrivances of persons keeping bawdy-houses, or other disorderly houses, it is difficult to prove who is the real owner or keeper thereof, by which means many notorious offenders have escaped punishment: Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that any person who shall at any time hereafter appear, act or behave him or herself as master or mistress, or as the person having the care, government, or management of any bawdy-house, or other disorderly house, shall be deemed and taken to be the keeper thereof, and shall be liable to be prosecuted and punished as such, notwithstanding he or she shall not in fact be the real owner or keeper thereof."

They don't make law like they used to. This Act was indeed passed during Hogarth's career, hence the illustration from Rake's Progress.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Parliament category from April 2008.

Parliament: March 2008 is the previous archive.

Parliament: May 2008 is the next archive.