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Newsweek Scotland - A week in news

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Derek Bateman Derek Bateman | 18:00 UK time, Friday, 26 November 2010


You know it's a crazy week when the biggest row of the Scottish Parliament so far is eclipsed by an MSP putting out a press release welcoming the Home Office decision to let X Factor contestant Gamu Nhengu stay in Scotland. Good luck to her.
Although maybe she'll think twice about staying after THAT debate.

It was hard pounding and we'll reflect on the question: Is that a good thing for the parliament which has its critics - including Jack McConnell, who says it needs to be revised. (Why don't people reach those conclusions when they're in power and can do something about it?) And if it really did merit all that fire, why didn't the opposition follow through and demand a resignation? The truth is that nothing will now happen.

Labour are ahead in the latest poll but not likely to get an overall majority. Will they push for coalition or minority government? They now know how tricky that can be having worked hard to make the SNP's life a misery. I heard from an insider (we met at night in a multi-storey car park) that Iain Gray and Tavish Scott may already have reached a coalition agreement. We speak to a leading academic who says such a coalition will be under intense pressure from the start and that Labour will struggle to live up to their claims to protect Scotland. They will do so by taking a leaf out of the SNP book - and blame London! (I made up the bit about the car park).

We look ahead to Calman next week which, ironically, will amend the SVR ( Scottish Variable Rate) which caused so much trouble. We hear an economist say that Calman is pretty disastrous for Scotland... and also that in releasing his letter about SVR to Alex Salmond, Michael Moore broke the protocols of devolution which demand in the first instance, confidentiality - not media releases to cause embarrassment. Tut tut.

And we have a former editor of the Times, Simon Jenkins (actually he's Sir Simon, but, like me, doesn't use it) who, unusually for a London commentator, thinks Scotland should get everything short of independence which, he says, the majority don't want anyway. It's really unusual to find anyone inside the M25 commentariat who thinks this way. He joins those who say the only way to make the parliament grow up (I'm thinking of the likes of Iain MacWhirter and Joyce MacMillan) is to let all taxes be raised here. He thinks David Cameron missed a trick on this one and it could have helped the beleaguered Scottish Tories who are looking for a new direction this week in the Sanderson Commission.

And - if my voice holds up - we're in North Korea and Ireland.

I can' t quite shake off the seasonal croak so I'm off to gargle with the best medicine known to man - a bottle of burgundy. Join me tomorrow at 8.


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