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If you thought Scotland’s independence referendum was divisive enough, says Scot-Buzz editor BILL JAMIESON, prepare for a wrangle far greater in scale – and with potentially devastating consequences for the economy. For most of the post-war period Britain has enjoyed political stability, says Bill, but that looks about to change. The mist of uncertainty may have lifted in Scotland – only for the blackest of clouds to approach – one that could bring paralysis to government and halt the recovery dead in its tracks.
This week it’s all about powers – what, when, for how long? Scotland knuckles down to compromise, Wales tags along, Sturgeon shows her mettle, Lamont’s fighting hard. All coming nicely to the boil. Will Spain follow suit? Wind-farms are back and bigger than ever. Seaweed is safe. We go hitchhiking in Canada, celebrate kelpies and tickle the taste-buds, before ending with tales of hope and endeavour…
Shock news! Bank lending to business has risen for the second month running. But small and medium sized businesses are missing out on this long overdue upturn. Our economy has been waiting five years for business lending to help spur the investment and growth. Now - at last – there are signs that bank lending is overtaking the rate at which business loans have expired or been withdrawn and evidence points to firms wanting to increase their borrowing as confidence grows and the need for capital rises...
This week KEN HOUSTON returns to his favourite bête noire - Edinburgh's trams. Remember the Scottish Parliament inquiry, asks Ken. Lessons may have been learnt, but there was precious little accountability. Well, it's happening again with the trams, as costs rise and the bus service suffers to pay for it. And then there's Glasgow's arms-length City Parking, going cap in hand for more money after its seventh loss making year. Any private company, says Ken, would have gone under long since...
Scotland’s mid-sized funds are under-valued and overlooked, despite their fundamental importance to the economy. Research released last week reveals that mid-market companies account for less than one per cent of all firms in Scotland,yet create 22 per cent of private sector jobs. Business advisor BDO says the mid-market is now caught in a ‘policy and profile’ black hole...
As the dust settles on the referendum, says accountant DONALD PARBROOK, voters are left looking out over the battlefield wondering how to best tidy up the corpses. For people in the tax profession there's a huge question mark over the real benefit of devolution. Donald believes people across a single state like the UK should have consistent taxation; the danger with nation building within the UK is that we end up with a hotch-potch of new rules and traps. Adding to the world's longest tax code is a brave move...
THEODORE DALRYMPLE says the referendum was an excellent illustration of the famous dictum of the nineteenth-century French liberal economist, Frédéric Bastiat, that the state is the means by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else. Alex Salmond offered the Scottish people a vision of a fairer country - larger subventions for more people, distributed by him and his party. Not surprisingly, he did best in those areas where people had most to gain...
Dr Richard Simpson warns us not to hold our breath on any reality dawning in Holyrood anytime soon. Labour's attempts to start a grown up debate on the reality of what we fund has been met with the term 'Cuts commission'. The SNP, he says, are addicted to give-aways. The forward funding of Health and Social Care presents an enormous challenge; there are solutions to the funding gap, says Dr Simpson, but the Scottish Government are silent...
Last week we brought you “The Case for ‘Yes’ You Never Heard” - the truths an independent Scotland would have to face. Today Scot-Buzz editor BILL JAMIESON brings you the imminent Moment of Truth at Holyrood: the time to do its duty. Was the referendum campaign really, as many commentators have asserted, a “re-invigoration of democracy” or “an upsurge in political engagement”? It blinded many, says Bill, to an eternal and inescapable truth of politics, Left or Right, independent or unionist - that it's not just about wish lists and crowd pleasing and nice-to-haves...
John McGurk imagines that somewhere in North Queensferry a grey-haired burly figure is looking out towards the Forth Bridge wondering where life had gone wrong. Suddenly, a phone rings. The vital call that brought the clunking fist hammering into the campaign, that calmed the headless chickens, that promised us more powers, that probably won the vote for No. And then, says John, David Cameron and George Osborne realised they could pull a fast one...
This week Ken Houston wonders what happened to the idea that people like him, on the centre-to-right of the political spectrum were worth appealing to. He reckons there were about 800,000 of them eligible to vote, yet campaigning by both sides focused on the Labour vote in the central belt. It's a bit of a fallacy that Scots are anti-Conservative, he says, and it's about time we recognised it. And while we're at it, the EU's freedom of movement doesn't do much for small business and contributes to a massive export of capital...