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Tax battle

Brian Taylor | 14:49 UK time, Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Another day, another offer to peg back the council tax.

The Liberal Democrats say they'd exempt low-income pensioners from paying the charge at all.

Hang on, say their critics. Do low-income pensioners pay at the moment? Don't they get credits to cover the bills?

According to the LibDems, some 20,000 Scottish pensioners earn less than £10,000 - but still face a partial council tax payment.

Under their plan, the Scottish government would pick up the tab at an estimated cost of £4m.

Second rate, say the Tories. A pale imitation. The Conservatives plan a £200 discount for every household where all the adult residents are pensioners.

In response, the LibDems say their plan targets help where it's most needed.

They rebut Tory claims that the system would be complex, saying councils already have to calculate benefit for individuals.

Notice a common theme from the sundry council tax policy offers?

As far as the major parties go, they're all about holding tax down: the talk is of freezes
and discounts.

Tax freeze

So you have the SNP saying that they have a proven record on constraining taxation, given the sustained freeze throughout their term in power.

They'd extend that - and Labour now say they'd match that.

As do the Tories who, unlike Labour, supported the freeze in the past parliament.

As do the LibDems, albeit more reluctantly given their philosophical adherence to local council choice.

The Greens dissent from this perspective.

They back local decision making by councils - and, ultimately, want to replace the council tax with land value taxation.

Council taxation has become central to this Holyrood election campaign - as evident from last night's STV leaders debate.

But let's try to think longer term for a second: a challenge, I know, during the frenzy of a political contest.

Sooner or later, during the next Holyrood term, one or both of two things must happen. Either the freeze ends and/or the council tax is reformed or replaced entirely.

Pegging increases

It is simply not sustainable for a property based tax to be frozen in time indefinitely.

Income tax revenue increases with rising living standards and wage inflation even though the rate may stay static. A frozen property tax - based on notional rather than actual valuations - stays frozen.

If the freeze ends, the various parties have various offers with regard to pegging the increases which can then be levied by councils.

The underlying problem with local taxation remains that it raises a small proportion of council expenditure.

That means that, because of gearing, a small increase in demand by councils leads to a large additional imposition upon council tax payers.

So does the system need reform? Labour looked long and hard - but concluded that the time was not propitious for change.

More, they have ruled out a revaluation for the next Parliament: memories presumably still fresh of the revaluation under the Tories in the 1980s which heralded the Poll Tax.

How about replacement then?

Stumbling block

LibDems favour the Local Income Tax. So do the SNP - although they baulked at introducing it in the last Parliament, in the light of opposition determination to thwart it.

Now, the SNP say that Local Income Tax will still be in their manifesto but, I believe, the timing of implementation will be linked to tax changes coming down the line from Westminster.

Not the income tax plans in the Scotland Bill but the proposal to devolve council tax benefit to Scotland and to local authorities.

If you remember, the absence of discretion over council tax was one of the key stumbling blocks to the introduction of LIT in the last Parliament.

The SNP manifesto, I believe, will argue that LIT can follow the successful transfer of council tax benefit.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Hello? Any new polls or debates happening out there?

  • Comment number 2.

    So the SNP,Tories and LibDems set the agenda with Labour grudgingly following along later.

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/3379

  • Comment number 3.

    i would have expected the political editor to give an assessment on the participants overall performance in the debate. Maybe it would have been too painfull to tell the truth or like the national newspaper who has spun the story like a peerie the lampooning would have been too much to bear

  • Comment number 4.

    Brian, not so sure that Council taxation has become central to this Holyrood election campaign - as evident from last night's STV leaders debate. More appropriately, the council tax and its inbuilt unfairness is being used by all the main parties to hide behind and offer subtle "bribes" to parts of the electorate. The flip side of some sort of reform of the council tax in the life of the next scottish parliament is I'm afraid, local government reform - one cannot go without the other. So it will be rather disingenious of any main party to put reform of one into a manifesto with no mention of the other. The labour party have learned a tough lesson over this one, with the Burt report on reform of the council tax being shelved even before its publication - it left the party badly exposed ahead of the 2007 election. Last night's debate suggests the labour leader has much to learn however on rehearsing answers to uncomfortable questions - he seemed totally unprepared to answert any of them. Such vulnerability will surely be attacked throughout the campaign.

  • Comment number 5.

    Brain why isn't this blog about how the 4 leaders did in the leaders debate, as bar you brief mention of last night Leaders debate the BBC seems to be pretending it never happened?

    Now you mentioned STV so clearly you get channel 3 and it is allowed to be mentioned here. Is the case your sulking because your team lost I've noticed that with Dundee untied you only seem to mention their result when they win, is that what going here in regards to how poorly the Grayman did last night?

  • Comment number 6.

    Has there been a Poll? Surely not - I can't find any mention of it on the BBC Website.
    I did hear a whisper last night on Newsnight that the SNP were leading and New Labour drifting off towards irrelevance? Apparently Ian Grey is now less popular than the Tory Leader in Scotland. Perhaps Jim Devine would get better rankings than Mr Grey?
    Whatever - the SNP wish to introduce a fair Local Income Tax - where those who can afford to pay most will pay more than those on modest means.
    The LIberals are saying similar - but willl change their minds - at least twice before Friday.
    New Labour - they just don't know what to do, how to do it, or to do it to whom.
    But I'm confident that Ed Balls will tell Ian Grey what to say.
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 7.

    3. At 15:29pm on 30th Mar 2011, fairforfochen wrote:

    "i would have expected the political editor to give an assessment on the participants overall performance in the debate. Maybe it would have been too painfull to tell the truth or like the national newspaper who has spun the story like a peerie the lampooning would have been too much to bear"

    An online paper link as they are the only ones which allow honest debate.

    http://politics.caledonianmercury.com/2011/03/29/salmond-wins-first-debate-as-gray-fails-to-match-the-first-minister/

  • Comment number 8.

    Credit is due to STV for this debate, particularly for the following reasons,

    Having the debate live.
    Reasonably balanced audience.
    Very well presented and adjudicated, fair and balanced to all participants, made sure the audience got answers not spin.

    Downside, the Greens and a representative from one of the smaller socialist parties (anyone but Galloway) should have been part of the debate.

    Overall still 9/10 to STV.

  • Comment number 9.

    So LibDem policy is to exempt low-income pensioners, but also to impose a so-called 'mansion tax' on those living in expensive houses (possibly after having scrimped and scraped throughout a long working career) regardless of income.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the party in Scotland added the word 'Popular' to its name - then it would have a four-word name, every one untruthful! (As denounced by Hugh O'Donnell,
    the party is neither liberal nor democratic, and any claim to be Scottish would require a definition unlike any which I would recognise.

  • Comment number 10.

    Under the Scotland Bill's provisions, future Scottish Governments would have to raise a proportion of their income directly from the Scottish people - and be answerable to them for the policy decisions requiring the revenue. So it should also be for councils.

    Ever since the days of Maggie v Red Ken, national (be it UK or Holyrood) governments are obsessed with denying people the local services they want, even if they repeatedly vote for politicians standing on a platform of providing those services.

    If people vote in a council which needs to double the Council Tax to meets its electoral pledges, then it should be able so to do - and to pay the price at the following election if it is seen to have been disproportionate or otherwise overly onerous.

    At present, those standing for election to councils are a bit like the LibDems in past UK parliamentary elections - they can say whatever they like, safe in the knowledge that they will not be in a position to enact their policies, being constrained either by numbers or (in the case of local authorities) by Government-imposed restrictions.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Re last night's SNP and the "who would you like as First Minister" poll:

    Whilst I can accept that the highest poll rating was for "Don't know" (presumably including a sizeable proportion of "Don't care"), who do the 16% voting "None of the above" want or expect to lead the next Scottish Government?

    George Galloway?

    I don't know who the Alliance (following the Angus Council approach of uniting all non-SNP parties in an undemocratic cabal) will choose to be its figurehead, but it is bound to be one of the three party grouping leaders ranged against Alex Salmond last night. Or will they bring in the Greens, and have a year apiece...?

  • Comment number 13.

    brian I thought you had been kidnapped. Only joking.

    On a serious note, I believe the latest poll puts the SNP in front of labour.

    I am looking forward to the indepth coverage of this on Reporting Scotland along with the expert analysis explaining how these latest polls "suggest" that the people of Scotland can no longer have the wool pulled over their eyes. As if.

    Lets hope the postal voting system is beyond reproach.

  • Comment number 14.

    Funny thing but even in the US I was able to watch a debate between the redoubtable Mr. Salmond, Ms. Goldie, Mr. Tavish and... someone. Can't recall the other guy's name.

    But if I could watch it in the US Pacific NorthWest, I'm quite surprised to learn that it was not available in Pacific Quay. Had it been I have no doubt Mr. Taylor would have mentioned it.

    Did the BBC forget to pay their licence fee or what?

  • Comment number 15.

    The Lib Dems can say what they like, it's obvious that they are going to completely bomb in this election.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    On the subject of the Tories, anybody else see George Osbourn's comment to the Treasury Select Commitee in response to the disgruntled Oil Companies? To quote the Chancellor "What they have to remember is that it isn't their Oil, it's ours"

    Is that right Mr Osbourne?

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    dubbieside

    Why should the Greens be part of any TV debate?
    They have no candidate in any seat and rely on a generous press to get elected on the list. They knock no doors and provide us with no manifesto - which is just as well for them as their manifesto, if widely distributed, would frighten half the people inclined to vote for them.
    Their whole approach is electoral sharp practice and until they do the work the rest of the serious parties do they deserve no votes.

    Actually putting candidates only on the list is an abuse of the list system which is designed to give representation to parties who get significant votes on the FPTP individual seats without getting seats which represent this support.
    And the BNP have lots of list candidates - do they have the same right?

  • Comment number 21.

    I heard some Labour candidate on drivetime where Labour were under pressure from the Tories due to boundary changes. What was his message to voters? Asking SNP nd Lib Dems to vote Labour to send a message to the Tories!! Is that it, is that all Labour have to offer Scotland? Where is the aspiration, the desire the passion for a better Scotland. How is voting for another unionist no mark going to get Scotland at the very least a better deal from Westminster and at best the next step to independence.
    Who are these people, have they no spine no sense of self worth, "vote for me I am not a Tory"", give me strength.
    Whisky selling well I hear, £100 per second and all the taxes etc going straight to London, along of course with the increased tax and revenue from North sea oil, but yea Labour I am really going to vote for your party of deadwood.

  • Comment number 22.

    18. At 18:09pm on 30th Mar 2011, You wrote:
    Your comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

    Oh blimey...I only asked why the debate wasnt discussed, nothing sinister :S

    Speaking of, I actually tried to email Brian about this. Im genuinely not being nasty or inciteful, but it is frustrating that the debate hasnt been mentioned. A national leaders debate....a national political commentator...surely its expected. That's all

  • Comment number 23.

  • Comment number 24.

    22. At 18:50pm on 30th Mar 2011, james_414

    Democracy is coming to Scotland slowly as people wake up to the lies they have been told for decades by Westminster occupants.

  • Comment number 25.

    Think every one would agree that Ms Goldie and Mr Salmond done very well, Mr Scott made the fatal mistake of admitting he had no personality. Mr Grey, showed himself to be of questionable ability!

  • Comment number 26.

    I missed the BBC Scotland News at 18.30. Did it mention the debate?

  • Comment number 27.

    Brian,

    LIT is clearly the way to go and, who knows, the L-Ds (if there are any) may not be so stupid as to oppose in the next parliament what they could have had in the last, whatever happens to the Calman-minus Scotland Bill.

    As others say above, however, it is astonishing that you didn't have time to spare to create a thread on the first debate. The STV website - http://news.stv.tv/election-2011/ - does the BBC the courtesy of mentioning the BBC debate on their website but the event wasn't even mentioned on this website until more than 12 hours after the event and still merits no mention on the Scottish election: Campaign catch-up page.

    Also conspicuously absent from this site is any mention of the opinion polls which are coming thick and fast. They do occasionally get a mention on Newsnicht, GMS, etc. so it can't be a question of BBC impartiality - especially if they are reported fairly.

    And, while I'm at it, if you can't be bothered to blog regularly, why not just have an "Election 2011" thread left open until the polling booths open and opened again as soon as they close?

    Do the BBC really want to drive all us politics junkies away to STV for their election coverage? It seems hard to credit, but your collective actions speak louder than words.

  • Comment number 28.

    Re: 14. At 16:51pm on 30th Mar 2011, You wrote:

    "Funny thing but even in the US I was able to watch a debate between the redoubtable Mr. Salmond, Ms. Goldie, Mr. Tavish..."

    Haha! I obviously meant Mr. Scott. I fear he was correct when he admitted he has no personality. He doesn't seem to be a bad person but is honestly as forgettable as... that other guy.

  • Comment number 29.

    Re. 22. at 18.50. I had a similar comment referred for exactly the same reason (11. at 16.43). It appears that we are able to draw as many conclusions about what is not being said on this site as we are from what is permitted.

  • Comment number 30.

    Brian,

    You say:

    "As do the Tories who, unlike Labour, supported the freeze in the past parliament."

    Did you not mean to say:

    "Labour meanwhile, consistently campaigned against the council tax freeze for the last few years before committing a brazen U-turn a few weeks ago. The cause for this U-turn is not known. There is some speculation that it was a case of 'Scottish' Labour following orders from London masters, after a visit from Ed Balls. Others think it was merely Labour realising, a few weeks before the election, that SNP had the most popular policies."

  • Comment number 31.

    Genuine question for any Labour people reading this: how did you think Gray did in the TV debate?

  • Comment number 32.

    re 31
    Sorry: very few of them have the backbone to tell you the truth. The lack of a spine is a pre requisite for a unionist!

  • Comment number 33.

    Lol, it seems like those of us who would like to have a informed debate on local taxation are in the minority today.

    As mentioned by Brian, the biggest underlying issue behind local taxation is the disconnect between the revenue raised locally and the local expenditure. Well, the simplest issue solution is to remove large parts of currently local expenditure to the national level. Whether there will any serious moves in that direction but any party I don't know, but we can hope.

    Second, as to the wider issue of whether to tax income or assets. The key issue is probably how much revenue is needed, or essentially how large is the 'state' going to be in Scotland. The reason I say this matters is because if you are have a very large public sector with a high tax burden then the over-riding requirement for taxation policy are maximising Yield and Sustainability. It is only if you are not struggling to raise revenue that you can really be in a position to worry more about the exact Impact of the taxes. That 'Impact' also depends on the specifics of the local economy, demographics and housing market.

    The general thrust of Scottish politics is towards having a large public sector, therefore I think that many politicians are under-estimating the long term challenges of raising sufficient tax revenue when they are discussing there various proposals.

    The rates of tax avoidance and tax evasion between income and property taxes vary enormously. Especially with corporation tax at the rate of 20% it is fairly straightforward for many of the most wealthy to avoid high income tax rates by putting their personal interests into a business they own.The same thing happens to thousands of self-employed, they have a fairly large scope to work with their accountants to offset large amounts of activity against income.

    I fear that you disperse with property based taxes at your peril as you may find that the higher the marginal rate of income tax is, the more affluent individuals you have have with artificially low taxable incomes. Conversely, those with least scope for tax planning are generally those whom Governments are generally wary of loading with large taxes such as the more highly-qualified public sectors (teachers, policemen, doctors etc.).

    However, there is one final issue it is worth mentioning. Many people under-estimate the differences between Scotland and England. England is the most densely populated country in England with a systemic and chronic housing shortage; Scotland isn't. As such, there is a utterly compelling argument in favour of having high property taxes in England. This obviously doesn't apply in Scotland where the removal of the council tax would probably have no wider adverse impact on housing.

    Would be interested in what others think on the general issue of property taxation in Scotland.

  • Comment number 34.

    #13 a scotish voice
    snap, brian went a w o l along with a few other top bbc bloger,s after events
    down south.
    as for the leaders debate enyone from england watching the scottish leader debate
    would have been envious. no £9000 student fees no prescription charges no
    anarchy or riots at our westminster, fueled,demo,s. no wonder aunty bella and the gray fella, ceded to alex crown.

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    Hello Brian , this is a first. You asked the question that Glasgow City asked , where will the money come from if the council tax is frozen again ? Well take your cameras out and about the East of the city , say betwenn Carntyne and Bellgrove if you go by train - a whole heap of new houses all paying Council tax near Easterhouse at Swinton more new and wxpensive town houses all payin Council Tax Then head elsewhere and look at all the new housing being provided , theres tax on all of them . Just remembered to add the site of the old Galasow or calderpark zoo , and that area , and Carmyle , Cambuslang , houses everywhere paying tax , theres the money.

  • Comment number 37.

    #33 Ex engineer
    You raise some interesting points and I think touch on a debate that I hope we could have in Scotland. Yes there are matters of how we finance them, how local they should be, whether taxing assets or income is the most appropriate. You touch on these but firstly to be able to have a full discussion on these it would be helpful for us to have full control on all the levers of government and all the various taxation methods. Leaving that aside I think we need to have a fundamental review of what we expect our LA to do, what size they should be and how many we actually require. I tend to think that 32 is far too many in a country of 5 million. My preference would be to have about 10, something like metropolitan ones for Edinburgh area, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and perhaps Stirling and rural ones for the rest including one for the northern isles and one for the Western isles. The discussion should also be about what we expect LA to do, personally I think they are becoming under utilised, do we continue in this trend or do we look to have a significant decentralisation process?

  • Comment number 38.

    1) No Majority

    2) £500 million spent by the unionists on Edinburgh trams

    3) Labour drove the economy off a cliff in 2008

    And still Salmond delivers 90% of his manifesto.

    Vote Labour in memory of your grandfather.

    Vote SNP in favour of your grandchildren.

  • Comment number 39.

    #33 the ex engineer
    i take by your post you live down south.i am sure their are many who can tell you
    what they think about property taxation in scotland complex though it may be.
    the reason you might be in the minority , we had a scottish leader debate last night
    similar to the one they have in england before the general election ,so the blogers
    are out to vent their spleen.

  • Comment number 40.

    After noticing Brian's blatant omission of last night's live debate this will be my last post. I can no longer sit back and watch this organisation bury its head in the sand any more. What happened to democracy..? Good luck to you all.

  • Comment number 41.

    33 - I'm sure England is the most densely populated country in England - in fact it's probably the only one!
    38 - And vote Conservative to give everyone a chance!

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    Tim @41 - Well spotted, should have read 'in Europe'.

    rouser @29 - Yeap, I'm a Dundonian currently stuck in negative equity in Somerset.

    soosider @34 - Your post covers exactly the sort of thing that we should really be having a debate on. I always thought the move away from the regions like Tayside to unitary councils like Perth, Dundee and Angus etc. had major downsides.
    I do think it is probably a decade too soon for another LA re-organisation on the sort of scale you propose however that means it is the perfect time to start kicking off a debate about it.
    The fact the there are now serious proposals for things like a national police service shows that on some issues politicians are willing to consider major changes when forced to do so by tight spending constraints.
    Personally I would not have a problem with local councils 'doing less' provided of course their management overhead is reduce accordingly. That is on the basis that any organisations struggles to lots of things well. It is much better to have organisations that have the clearest possible remit and can focus energy on a few key areas.

  • Comment number 44.

    43 ExEngineer
    34 Soosider
    Have to disagree with you guys about "local" Government. It should be LOCAL.
    Strathclyde - from the sunny Gorbals to Iona Abbey.
    Highland - from Inverness to Eigg.
    If services are "better" to be organised for larger areas, then we are a wee enough country for them to be organised Nationally - albeit with HQs outside Edinburgh and Glasgow.
    Police, Fire, Ambulance - might as well centre them all at Tulliallan or the new Campus at Gartcosh.
    Scottish Water - already pan-Scotland.
    However, if services are local - schools, GPs (Primary Health), Housing, Planning etc - should be "really local" - without the need for layers and layers of management and bureaucracy.
    Why aggregate services that really aren't "specialist"?
    I'm hopeful (although not very) that Campbell Christie's Working Group will come up with some interesting thoughts.
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 45.

    #37 - Soosider:

    "My preference would be to have about 10, something like metropolitan ones for Edinburgh area, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and perhaps Stirling and rural ones for the rest including one for the northern isles and one for the Western isles."

    You make a valid point and I agree that 32 councils is too many. My question, however, regarding your proposed reduction to ten is how well such a structure would serve the towns outside the 'major' conurbations.

    I'm thinking, immediately, of Perth, Ayr, Kilmarnock and Inverness - but you'd also have to think about the West Lothians, Bathgate and Livingstone and the Lanarkshire towns, Motherwell, Airdrie and Cumbernauld (Look at yesterday's news story about the 3 Scottish towns with the highest UK bankruptcy rate).

    The reason for my concern is that I believe these are some of the parts of Scotland (outside the lowest income areas of the major cities) most in need of regeneration, development, growth and support. I'd point you to Kenneth Roy's recent article in the Scottish Review, about Auchinleck, as an example of what I mean. In short, these towns desperately need someone to fight their corner. 'Dumping' them onto 5/6 'super-regional' councils may not be the best way to deliver that support.

    Empty town streets, boarded up shops, derelict phone boxes, vandalised bus stops, broken Buckie bottles and wandering bored and dissatisfied teenagers are, I think, the single, simplest encapsulation of the challenge facing a 21st century Scotland. Bring the towns back to life and your bring the people and the country back with them. I'm just not convinced your approach is the way to do it.

    32's still too many though, no argument there.

  • Comment number 46.

    #34 - rouser:

    "[A]s for the leaders debate enyone from england watching the scottish leader debate would have been envious."

    It would actually be very interesting to have an objective, English take on the Scottish Leaders' debates - particularly on how they contrast with the tone and language used down South.

    Thinking back to last year's Westminster debates - one or two things jump out at me -

    - This is a 2 party competition - there'll be no 'Nick Clegg' hooh-ha, bursting into the opinion polls on the back of these debates (Not that any of that ever translated into votes). The Lib Dems and the Tories are an irrelevance until coalition time and everybody knows it.

    - There's no 'blame game' on the economy. In 2010, everybody was queuing up to bash Labour about their handling of the nation's finances. There'll be less (none?) of that here. It would be difficult, if not impossible to make a case to show that anyone could have handled the Scottish economy better than John Swinney. Labour will snipe round the margins (teachers etc.) but they don't have the battering ram that the UK Tories had.

    - The SNP aren't a 3 term government. Part of the disillusionment with UK Labour must have stemmed from the fact that they'd been in government for 13 years. They'd had plenty of time (and a huge popular mandate) to do what they wanted to do and they'd squandered it. The SNP haven't had nearly as much time and I believe the audience reaction on Tuesday night showed that there are people who may not be 100% convinced but are willing to give them another term to fully prove themselves.

    - Personalities - In the UK election, there was genuine competition on personality. Whatever you might think of them, Cameron and Clegg were perceived to be personable, saleable, attractive leadership figures. Gordon Brown was less personally attractive but still seemed to many people (not to me, I hasten to add) to embody a lot of 'labour' values - which made him a powerful contender. There's only one genuinely 'attractive' leader in this Scottish election - the personality contest, which was fought in Westminster right up until the end, was over in Scotland a long, long time ago.

    - Language - The UK election was fought against a backdrop of sackcloth and ashes. From memory there was a lot of 'tough times require tough decisions', 'tightening belts', 'difficult financial climate' - even the notorious, "we're all in this together" was, in part, an admission of that there was stormy weather ahead. Broadly speaking - most parties in Scotland have been trying to be more positive - at least about their own party's policies. There is more - 'we will do . . . ', 'we will achieve' and 'together we can . . . '.

    If you want to see the gulf between the parties, I think it lies here. The SNP are articulating a genuine, passionately held belief that, subject to some hard work and some tough decisions, there is a bright, sustainable future ahead for Scotland. Labour and the Lib Dems are worried about being seen as too negative and are scrambling to keep up with the SNP's positive campaign. The difference is that Labour, in particular, aren't really convinced by their own policies (hence, against a Council Tax freeze before Christmas, for it by Easter) and, were they to get into government, I have my doubts that many of these policies would actually be put into effect.

    In contrast with UK 2010 then, when none of the parties really believed what they were saying, in Scotland 2011, one of them does.

  • Comment number 47.

    Meanwhile on the campaign trail today Iain Gray will visit a mother & toddler group in Lockerbie.

    Presumably that's why he was practising his colouring-in yesterday.

    Better watch it Elmer, these toddlers can ask the searching questions you might not expect from some of our journos; and they can also run rings round you, but you'll be used to that.

  • Comment number 48.

    #46 Bandages_For_Konjic

    “Gordon Brown was less personally attractive but still seemed to many people (not to me, I hasten to add) to embody a lot of 'labour' values - which made him a powerful contender.”

    Funny you should mention Jimmy Brown; I have just read the following article in the Indy.

    Jimmy Brown 'scrapped 10p tax band to woo Murdoch'

    “Gordon Brown was so "obsessed" with trying to win the support of Rupert Murdoch while he was Prime Minister that he drew up his tax policies to appeal to the media magnate, according to a book published tomorrow.”

    If this is true then it certainly puts a different slant on oor Jimmies ‘Labour values’.

  • Comment number 49.

    #28 - Roll_On_2011:

    No surprises there, really. IMHO - Gordon Brown had abandoned most of his 'core' Labour values by the time he got into office as Chancellor. But my opinion and the wider perception, particularly in the Labour heartlands are two slightly different things. Which is a bit of a generalisation, I admit. I'm not saying every Labour voter voted for Gordon Brown in 2010 because they were fooled into thinking he was 'one of them'. But I do think it was a factor.

  • Comment number 50.

    Few could argue against the introduction of a fair, or fairer, LIT (FLIT) but should this, like Council Tax over the last few years, be capped ??? ... That could lead to the introduction of a capped LIT, which would cause palpitations in the Government's Marketing Communications department ...

  • Comment number 51.

    New Labour and their Leadership lost their principles before 1997.
    Gordon Brown was (and continues to be) mythologised as somehow more left-wing than Blair. What a load of guff!
    When the UK illegally invaded Iraq and people questioned the cost in human lives and cash - Brown's rebuff - "Whatever it takes!"
    They can erect a statue of him similar to Donald Dewar - it will give the Kirkcaldy students something to laugh at for decades to come.
    If Gordon had had a Labour value in him, he would have walked out of the Cabinet alongside Robin Cook.
    Shame on him and shame on New Refound Labour.
    The exposure today that shows he decided to "Tax the Poor" in order to appease Murdoch fills us with the same disgust we felt with his mishandling of the UK economy and consequent tarnishing of 300 years of fiscal reputation.
    I'm confident that Ian Grey will learn more at the Toddler Group than he'll learn from Westminster Labour HQ.
    Slainte Mhor

  • Comment number 52.

    Brian,

    Re the "Holyrood election campaign" that you mention in passing in your post, could you please ask your colleagues to start doing a bit of preparation for the event in making some of the detail of it available on your Scotland politics page?

    There's plenty of space for it there, since they've removed all references to things like "Democracy Live", Ministerial and front-bench lists, etc.

    You could at least take a leaf out of the Herald's book, and provide something like their new Constituencies page, which has candidates and notional 2007 results for all the plurality seats and also shows the relevant regional list candidates on each plurality seat page.

    BTW, Should anybody spot a URL where the whole lot can be downloaded for analysis, please post it here or in another place!

    PS: Good news for "Scottish" Labour that Devine only got 16 months instead of the maximum 7 years. Should play well in Livingston.

  • Comment number 53.

  • Comment number 54.

    O/T Retribution is devine with 16 of her maj's best months

  • Comment number 55.

    # 40 paul hunter
    paul dont go ,the threads where you can influence scottish oppinion or not, are
    few enough.you ask, what has happened to democracy.it is not static it keeps
    changing. the old saying if you cany beat them join them. and try and change things
    from the inside. dont let your head be buried in the sand to. paul please reply if
    only to rubbish my comments.

  • Comment number 56.

    Latest news Devine gets 16 months,will you have anything to say about this Brian or will BBC forget all about it.

  • Comment number 57.

    On the issue of introducing a "cap" if LIT was introduced. The SNP team doing the "prawn cocktail" circuit before the proposal was ditched was open about the necessity of there being a cap if LIT was introduced. This was and remains especially important within the Edinburgh financial services companies and at the time was taken to mean that the maximum payable would be around the same as Band H council tax payments. I doubt that the Treasury would sanction a shift towards LIT unless HM Government was indemnified against any revenue shortfalls from such a proposal. The manifesto commitment from the SNP is likely to be worded as a move towards LIT for the following parliament, from 2016 onwards.

  • Comment number 58.

  • Comment number 59.

    devine. 8 weeks in the duck house would be more appropriate

  • Comment number 60.

    sneckedagain @20

    There are two reasons why I think the Greens should be part of the TV leaders debate,

    The first is to do with democracy. They are standing in every area of Scotland and everyone in Scotland will have a chance to vote for them. If opinion polls are to be believed a reasonable amount of people will vote for them, so everyone who is interested in the leaders debate should hear what they have to offer. (Incidentally I believe that the BBC was wrong to exclude Alex Salmond from the UK leaders debate)

    The second is, if this election is as close as the polls suggest then the Greens could possibly have an influence that outweighs their actual vote, and it would be helpful to know just what they would bring to any possible coalition or post election agreement.

    Its surely a strength of the Scottish system that a vote for smaller party's is not a wasted vote.

    P.S. I am not a Green voter.

  • Comment number 61.

    A blog on council tax is welcome Brian and local taxation and services should be a big issue in this campaign. However, I have to wonder at the timing of your piece?
    Is there a bout of selective amnesia at Pacific Quay? Did you all wake up and think the polls and the grey one's performance were all a bad dream?
    To not report and blog on this topic is a dereliction of duty and as such have written a complaint, which I will post (if allowed), in next post.

  • Comment number 62.

    For several years, I along with many others, have watched, read and listened to BBC "Scotland"s rather slanted political coverage with a sense of despair and anger. So much so, that I have just cancelled my TV license direct debit.
    The BBC Charter tells us that poltical coverage will be impartial, with the run-up to elections particulary sensitive in this regard.
    How does this chime with the current election coverage that BBC Scotland, and in particular, the BBC Scotland website is providing. Or should that be not providing? Perhaps you are unaware but the first if three leaders debates was held on

  • Comment number 63.

    I ken quite a few local pensioners who have never paid a penny in council tax its also debatable if they ever did during their working lives including rates. Even the few bailiffs that turned up shrugged shoulders saying that any collateral amounted to £5..........pity they could'nae frisk pockets, as these canny OAP's stuff it doon their trousers..........I'll be optimistic and hope for a real electorate kicking for the CONDEMS, come on those that can deliver a message..

  • Comment number 64.

    Dubbieside; if you heard Patrick Harvie on the radio this morning, or read his article on the site that cannot be mentioned here, you may have a change of view. Check it out!

  • Comment number 65.

    58. At 11:32am on 31st Mar 2011, cheesed_off wrote:

    They just can't help it.

    All that money available for a magazine, hows health in the East End doing
    has it managed to catch up with the Gaza Strip ?.

    If the management of Glasgow is a success story, then God only knows
    what a failure would like.



  • Comment number 66.

    52. At 10:57am on 31st Mar 2011, Barbazenzero wrote:
    "Re the "Holyrood election campaign" that you mention in passing in your post, could you please ask your colleagues to start doing a bit of preparation for the event in making some of the detail of it available on your Scotland politics page?"

    Wouldn't hold your breath for this Barbazenzero. The beeb is trying to dumb down politics in Scotland, not increase any useful and enlightening information. They obviously don't like the way the wind is blowing, so are trying to reduce the sail, as they are in danger of capsize!

  • Comment number 67.

    dubbieside @60

    I agree that for the sake of democracy, and scrutiny of their policies, that the Greens could have been part of the Leaders debates.

    However the most recent Opinion Poll has convinced this voter not to utilise my list vote for the Greens. To paraphrase an old Labour Election slogan, Vote Green, Get Gray

  • Comment number 68.

    In 61 above, I merely stated in polite terms that I was surprised that Brian didnt blog on the debate and followed it up with my complaint to the Beebs complaints dept.!!
    I am not surprised that the complaint has been referred but I am surprised by the fact that I am not even allowed to refer to the fact that I have complained!!!
    Great modding!

  • Comment number 69.

    brian, i see why you did,nt blog scotish leaders. you were trying to spare colin the humiliation, but looks like he has been watching the grayfella, on stv.

  • Comment number 70.

  • Comment number 71.

    You seem to have been "further" considering my post #19 for an awfully long time. It was a very short post and not at all complicated.

  • Comment number 72.

    Pursang @64

    I did not hear the radio interview but I will read the article. If he was as bad as you say surely that means that it is even more imperative that he is heard by as large a section of the voting public as possible.

    CramondFC17 @67

    Thank you for your reply, my answer to Pursang would equally apply to your post. I did think Harvie shot himself in the foot by his stance on the Scottish Budget, and giving the appearance he was getting close to Labour. Just how he would square supporting Labour who want to build more nuclear power stations in Scotland, solely for the convenience of England, support Trident replacement and stationing on the Clyde etc, with his core supporters I do not know.

  • Comment number 73.

    #70 govanite: a wee tip for those who don't want to register as a user of the Herald, just press your Esc key a fraction of a second after the page appears to avoid the article disappearing from view.

  • Comment number 74.

    How many debates are we going to get, will the all be on TV and when is the next one?

  • Comment number 75.

    Not sure why they have seen fit to display half of the complaint above? It was all in the preview box?
    Anyhoo, as a regular reader of this blog but very rare contributor, I see that there are many out there who feel that auntie doesnt give anyone but labour (in Scotand) a fair crack. Is it not time we stopped whingeing and did something? The SNP cant complain too much as it would be politically disadvantageous. Is there no will for a mass non payment of license fee amongst nationalists? We need something that will bring the appalling political coverage in the msm in Scotland, particularly the BBC given its funding and charter etc, to the publics attention. A lot of them will not watch the debates or read manifestos but will allow the msm to inform their opinion.
    Anybody have any ideas? The net news is good but is not going to get the same sort of audience as othed outlets.

 

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