HONEY McBEE’S TRIP ROUND THE MEDIA: EU-ROPEAN ISSUE

It’s Tuesday 9th February: Prime Minister Cameron returned last week from his tour around far-away countries in Europe, waving his piece of paper. The PM says it’s a good deal, and by Jove, if it was 1975, he’d vote for it again. If you’re with us among the dazed and confused, Professor of Law at Essex, Stephen Peers, in Thursday’s Conversation  explains the ins and outs of Dave’s deal. Or try Ian Dunt’s five minute run through at politics.co.uk.

Meanwhile, weekend arguments raged over whether Lady Thatcher would have approved. Aye, says her former adviser Charles Powell in the Sunday Times. Nay, say son of her former Chancellor Nigel, Dominic Lawson in yesterday’s Mail and biographer Charles Moore in the Speccie. [As a brief aside, and more interesting, CityAM reports the sale price of the former PM’s Belgravia residence – yours for an eye-watering sum of money]

Brian Monteith in yesterday’s Scotsman says there is a case for Scots to support Brexit and with all five major parties supporting staying in, and the referendum and Holyrood campaign Scottish likely to overlap, euro-sceptics may well turn to UKIP in May. Especially since respected figures like Jim Sillars are in the exit lane. Difficult too, says Monteith, to know why the SNP would not want control over fisheries and farming-In its eagerness to attack the rise of Ukip and what it portrays as narrow English Nationalism, the SNP has ended up siding with the very establishment it proclaims to abhor”.

Amid the turmoil in the Leave camp down south – People’s Front of Judea stuff – Iain Martin over at CapX had a suggestion for leadership. Off the wall? Think choo-choos and bright jackets. A mouth-watering prospect, says Martin…

Stop all the Clocks: Professor Alan Trench looked at the timing of the referendum and its implications for the devolved governments.  All three First Ministers have complained to the PM that June will interfere mightily with their own elections – Trench says they are right to be concerned; the surprise is that their concern is not shared by Conservatives, or Labour, at Westminster”.   June 23rd? Then the result might, bizarrely, all hinge on Wayne Rooney...

 

We think we should be told: Finance Secretary John Swinney proposes to publish the facts once the seemingly everlasting negotiation with the Treasury over Scotland’s future funding comes to an end.

For economy geeks [OK, we know it’s more serious than that] Jim Cuthbert obliged in Sunday’s Bella Caledonia with an exposition of per capita index deduction. Cuthbert doesn’t think much of Swinney’s ‘secret’ discussions, hinting at the Deputy First Minister’s resignation should Scotland lose out…

Herald columnist Ian Macwhirter posted on Friday about Swinney’s dilemma – whether to accept the deal or not – and Kezia Dugdale’s call for 1p on income tax. She’ll never have to put it into practice, says Macwhirter, but it’s a good way to embarrass the SNP.

Can this be true? David Leask in Saturday’s Herald looks at Scotland’s growing reputation as a tax haven. Think grubby money-laundering rather than sun-drenched beaches of the Bahamas.

 

Catch a falling star: If you believe the polls, the Tories may do rather well in May’s election. Alex Massie in the Spectator  looked at the ‘intimidating challenge’ facing Ruth Davidson – persuading half a million Scots to come out and vote for her party. Popular she may be, says Massie, but…

 

Apologia pro vita sua: Former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill took to the world stage in 2009 to explain his decision to release the alleged Lockerbie bomber, calling on a ‘higher power.’ Now he’s left Holyrood, there’s the inevitable book.

Scotland on Sunday reported that the victims’ families are none too happy. Greg Russell in yesterday’s National added that most of those closely involved felt MacAskill was unlikely to contribute anything new, rather it was an attempt at ‘legacy’ – an “exercise in self-serving”, said the mother of one of the victims, “and some attempt to protect what he thinks is his legacy. I find it disgusting.”

 

With friends like these: The Telegraph indulged in a bit of Salmond-bashing over the weekend. No change there then. But the facts and figures prove interesting. First Simon Johnston in Friday’s edition on the use of Holyrood’s broadcasting studio for the former FM’s LBC radio show. Critics think he should pay, because the show’s content is not confined to Scottish issues. Then, in the same paper, Fraser Nelson pondered the dire state of a present-day independent Scotland, assuming that Salmond would be not only still be First Minister, but also Finance Secretary. Finally, on Sunday Andrew Gilligan accused Salmond, who has condemned tax avoidance by others, of hypocrisy after he was found to be channelling some of his income through a company set up to avoid paying higher rate income tax…

 

If it ain’t broke: Oh dear. We had sense of déjà vu reading Brian Ferguson in Saturday’s Scotsman on the plans for turning the east end of Edinburgh’s George Street “continental”. It’s to be an extension of the playground that is the once-dignified St Andrew Square.  Café bars, street tables, community theatre.  You know the sort of thing. You’ve seen it in Caltongate and almost every other proposed development.  And of course, we’ll have the continental weather Edinburgh enjoys to go with it…

 

Be careful what you wish for: Tim Black in Friday’s edition of Spiked delved into the Google tax scandal [or legitimate avoidance, depending on your view]. Much has been made, says Black, of the cosy relationship between big business and politicians. Critics maintain Google has enormous influence at No.10. The caring company may not be all its marketing would have us believe, but conspiracy? Demonising Google and its ilk may well be counter-productive…

 

And finally…

I walk the line: Only on eight legs not two. We should warn of graphic images, so if you’re squeamish, look away now. They’ve found a new species of tarantula near California’s Folsom Prison where Johnny Cash famously entertained the state guests in the 1960s and began his campaign for prisoners’ rights. Cash dressed in black, and so does the spider, so what more natural than to name the furry beast after him?  Cash, of course, is unavailable for comment…

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