English votes for English laws 'fully revived'

  • 24 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
David Cameron

A previous Conservative leader once told me a story. The narrative concerned the stump speech which said leader was deploying at the time. This was, I emphasise, a wee while back.

The speech, as delivered in town halls around England, generally went like this. "We are the party of low taxation". Polite applause. "We intend to be in Europe but not run by Europe". Polite applause with some notable abstentions. "We are the party of English votes for English laws." Loud applause, roof in danger.

Said leader tried this repeatedly, with the same result. But said leader also slowly concluded that, at the time, EVEL was perhaps a little too hazardous, too inclined to sow disquiet within the very United Kingdom the Tories were aiming to protect.

Every Conservative leader since John Major has entered office, determined to answer the West Lothian question. Every Conservative leader since John Major has subsequently shelved the idea. Until now.

'Irritating question'

David Cameron, at first, was no different. Early zeal for reform ended up, not long after he became leader, with a speech in Edinburgh in which he argued: "Better an imperfect Union than a perfect divorce."

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First Minister's Questions: Slaying dragons and lizards

  • 23 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
St George's Day
The battle for votes continued on 23 April - St George's Day

St George's Day - and are there dragons still to be slain? The Institute for Fiscal Studies inclines towards a yes although they appear to detect qualities pertaining to a large lizard in each of the competing parties' offers.

They urge the Conservatives to provide more detail with regard to their proposed spending cuts. They say that Labour has been "vague" about the extent of planned borrowing. The Liberal Democrats are reckoned to be somewhat optimistic about efficiencies.

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Election 2015: Scottish Liberal Democrats 'keep their heads'

  • 21 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Rudyard Kipling
Willie Rennie quoted the words of Rudyard Kipling: "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs."

It was, said Willie Rennie, a question of Kipling. No, nothing to do with cakes even although the location was a patisserie in South Queensferry.

The Kipling at issue was Rudyard of that ilk, story writer, poet and, for a spell, Rector at Scotland's oldest and finest university.

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Election 2015: Sturgeon's evangelical message to people of UK

  • 20 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon said the SNP's manifesto was "bursting with ideas"

It would have been easy, so easy, for the SNP manifesto launch to slide towards bombast. The elements were all there.

The polls suggest a substantial lead for the Nationalists. The venue was, literally, cavernous and crowded with eager supporters - who were ready to cheer volubly at any mention of independence, Scotland or indeed Nicola Sturgeon.

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Election 2015: Labour looks to second phase to win over sceptics

  • 17 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
labour
Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy at the manifesto launch in Glasgow

Inevitably, one hears talk that this is a notably prolonged General Election campaign. And so it is, courtesy of the fixed term parliament initiative.

Of course, we referendistas look upon such comments with a gentle, indulgent smile. Lengthy? You think this is lengthy? Where were you in 2011/12/13/14?

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Election 2015: Scottish Tory leader and her warm up act

  • 16 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
David Cameron
Ruth Davidson and David Cameron were on stage together to launch their party's Scottish manifesto

Ruth Davidson was in confident mood. I know, I know, that statement is tautologous. But, even by Ms Davidson's ebullient standards, her demeanour at the launch of the Scottish Conservative manifesto was upbeat.

Perhaps it was the presence of the Prime Minister - her "warm-up act" as she, rather cheekily, described him. Perhaps it was the simple sleepless emotion of an election.

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Clegg makes pitch for Wizard of Oz role

  • 15 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Nick Clegg
Nick Clegg: ''The Liberal Democrats will add a heart to a Conservative government and a brain to a Labour one''

For reasons I find somewhat difficult to explain, I have never been a huge fan of the movie, "The Wizard of Oz".

I mean, it's not as though I entirely revile fantasy narratives. When younger, I roamed happily through Gormenghast and Middle Earth.

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Taxing times for evel proposals

  • 14 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
David Cameron and Union flag

Let's talk EVEL. Note the spelling. We are dealing here with English Votes on English Laws. Specifically, in this instance, elements of financial provision.

A considerable controversy has arisen over this issue as presented in the Conservative manifesto. Labour's Jim Murphy says that the plan set out by the Tories is "a brutal betrayal of the consensus" achieved in the cross-party Smith Commission.

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Election 2015: Ed Miliband delivers his message

  • 13 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband had two key messages - Labour was strong on the economy and he was ready to be PM

Challenges in politics. One can either confront them or sidestep them. Launching the Labour manifesto, Ed Miliband opted for the former.

He has plainly calculated that his party's pitch features two potential weak spots, in terms of public perception. Rigour on the economy - and Mr Miliband's own credentials for leadership.

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Election 2015: Vive la difference

  • 10 April 2015
  • From the section Scotland
composite

A remarkable week. A remarkable week, driven by remarkable leaders' debates, further remarkable polls - and an intriguing survey of your priorities for this election.

If we needed further evidence that politics in Scotland differs from the southern variety - and from the customary Westminster expectations - then this week provided that in full.

Read full article Election 2015: Vive la difference