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Democracy

Dear Permanent Secretary…

Former civil servant Michael Graham says the Scottish Government has been politicised from top to toe by the SNP. Here he writes on how Scotland’s new chief mandarin can restore trust.

A view of Edinburgh, Scotland, with the Salisbury Crags in the background on a sunny day

Where Should Power Lie in Scotland?

Everybody cares about local matters. Yet if previous local elections are anything to go by, fewer than half of us will bother turning out to vote for local politicians on May 5th. If only to restore interest in local democracy, Scotland would benefit from a renewed debate about where power lies and how services are best delivered.

System Reset Required: Go To Settings

Local government across the UK faces some of its biggest economic, political, and social challenges since the immediate post-war era. The Covid-19 pandemic amplified such inequalities, putting increasing demands on already stretched local authorities. Recent global events have also accelerated a growing cost of living crisis playing out in local communities.

Exterior of Glasgow City Chambers, George Square, Glasgow, Scotland

Take Back Control

A recent poll from Our Scottish Future found that 47% of respondents agreed with the statement that ‘a serious plan to change Britain could be more attractive than independence’. This raises the million dollar question  – what would a serious  plan to change Britain have to look like in order to convince ‘middle Scotland’ voters to remain part of the UK?

A row of terraced houses in Scotland

The Council Tax Thaw is a Missed Opportunity for Change

Despite 15 years of manifesto promises to replace it with a more progressive alternative, council tax will not be reformed this Parliament. Yet Council Tax is widely agreed to be a regressive tax and there is already cross-party support for its replacement. As even SNP council leaders accuse Holyrood of a power grab, perhaps it’s time for a fresh start in local government.

A sign attached to multicoloured school railings directing people to a polling place for Scottish elections

We Only See You Lot When There’s An Election On

Waiting for publication of the list of election candidates reminded me of my sister’s reaction when I constantly check football scores during some family event. “Why are you checking it every 2mins! You won’t make anything happen by checking!” She is unlikely to read this so I can safely say, she’s probably right!

Yes, but what has devolution ever done for us?

Why is the level of devolution so misunderstood?  I would argue it’s because politics in Scotland has become mired into a simple binary debate between Yes/No on the issue of Independence. This helps  Nationalists as they have no interest in answering for their record on devolution because they see devolution as the wrong solution.

Forget Unionists And Nationalists, Nicola Needs A Futurist

If you’re like me, new year’s resolutions are rarely new. They’re the same as last year’s. Here’s a policy resolution which should be kept precisely because it’s not new: the Scottish Government should set up a First Minister’s Strategy Unit. The appeal is that numerous countries have similar units. They blend futures, foresight and strategy work.

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