THE IDS OF MARCH: HONEY McBEE’S BUZZ ROUND THE MEDIA

Tuesday 22 March: Hell hath no fury. Whatever the rights and wrongs [and unsurprisingly Ellenor Hutson in Friday’s Bella Caledonia catalogued the wrongs, which are indeed legion, as did the Institute for Fiscal Studies] of the Chancellor’s disability/PIP cuts, the result was far from what he might have expected.

It’s been the IDS show this weekend. If you missed the salient points, here’s the explosive former Work and Pensions Secretary on Sunday morning’s Andrew Marr Show, the full text of his equally damning resignation letter  on the ITV website, and PM Cameron’s  withering response, courtesy of the New Statesman.  The latter, according to Daily Mail scuttlebutt, is mildness itself compared with a telephone call between them. Best of the commentary, probably, came from James Kirkup in the Telegraph and Ian Macwhirter in the Sunday Herald, who predicts IDS will become a popular Brexit martyr – “now he’s found his voice, he’s unlikely to shut up before June.”

Don’t panic:   Tom Gordon in the Sunday Herald revealed the Chancellor’s coat was almost on a shoogly peg before the Budget after he refused to sign off on the Scotland Bill hours before it was due to be passed at Holyrood.  Cue headless chickens in the Scottish Office…

Squeezing the middle:  Reaction to the Budget in Scotland was neatly summed up in two postings by Andrew Tickell aka Lallands Peat Worrier.  Listening to FM’s response to the budget – the suggestion the higher rate tax threshold will not increase as it will in England –  LPW says it must be the first time since devolution that the direct link has been made between taxation and the public services we receive in Scotland.  The Daily Mail can scream unfair all it wants to, says LPW,  “most Scottish workers need a pair of binoculars to see the upper rate of tax, never mind to benefit from Mr Osborne’s unnecessary cuts” – even the overwhelming majority of nurses, teachers and police on top pay scales.

And if you want to know what Scottish Labour will do with your taxes, watch Gordon Brewer’s interview with Jackie Baillie on the Sunday Politics Show, courtesy of the Spectator

 

Shake it all about: If you’re still dithering over where to put your cross on June 23rd, you might want to catch Michael Burrage’s Eurosceptic Handbook from think tank Civitas. It’s a work in progress – appearing online chapter by chapter; Civitas is at pains to point out that the term ‘eurosceptic’ doesn’t mean being in favour of Brexit, more a thoughtful analysis.

Best of the Brexit arguments we’ve seen recently came from Conservative MEP and arch-EU-phobe Daniel Hannan.  Writing in CAPX  he looked at those captains of industry on the Remain side – members of the British Establishment who “live in Who’s Who and die in The Times”. When it comes to trading and horse-trading with the EU says Hannan, corporate lobbying in Brussels reaps handsome financial rewards– no wonder they want to stay in…

 

BEST OF THE REST …

What might have been:  This week Scotland would have become an independent country.  Martyn McLaughlin in Saturday’s Scotsman looked at the ifs and buts. Who knows?

Place your bets:  An interesting look by Iona MacBeth for the Garden Lobby on Friday at the runners and riders to be Holyrood’s next Presiding Officer when current holder Patricia Marwick steps down at the end of this session.  Three well-kent faces at the starting gate…

This land is [no longer] my land:  David Leask in the Sunday Herald reports that provisions in the new Land Reform Bill are not nearly radical enough for Scottish Greens spokesman Andy Wightman and his followers.  They – supported, says Leask, by former Labour minister Brian Wilson – intend to invoke the 1919 Land settlement Act, which allows the state to purchase land [yours and mine presumably, as well as the Duke of Buccleugh’s] and rent it to ‘ordinary’ people.

Lest we forget:  Kenneth Roy in last week’s Scottish Review reminded us that a fatal accident inquiry into the Clutha Bar disaster will be held this year, and asked why the crew were mysteriously silent just minutes before the crash. Roy uses examples of larger aircraft accidents where a similar lack of communication with the ground took place. It amounts to Crew Resource Management and a fear of questioning whether the pilot is actually doing the right thing at the right time. Interesting…

Congratulations: We have a new Scots Makar. Kevin Crowe in KaleidoScot reported that Jackie Kay succeeds Liz Lochhead as the national poet. Surprisingly it was only in 2004 that the post was revived – it started as a royal or court bard but fell into disuse after James VI moved to England – so she becomes only the third Makar of recent times.

Frozen out:  Are you a frozen food snob or one for joining Mum in Iceland?  Emma Boyland of Liverpool University in last Friday’s Conversation explored why we think frozen food is inferior and usually regard it as a last resort.  It’s cheaper than fresh food, but is it inferior? No, says Boyland, exactly the opposite. It stops waste, stops us eating too much, has more nutrients and the French love it. And who are we to argue with the French?  And if Boyland’s article fails to convince you, this piece in yesterday’s Guardian involving food experts, mould and bacteria just might…

The people have spoken:  That’ll teach the Natural Environment Research Council to delve into the world of on-line polls. As Ned Donovan in the Mail on Sunday reported, asking punters to name its new Royal Research Ship – the £200 million flagship of Britain’s scientific fleet [no,neither did we] –  was only going to end up one way…

 

AND FINALLY

The Aahh factor strikes again: Thanks to the Telegraph for webcam footage of a newly-hatched bald eagle nestling. All fur and feathers – and being given a hefty shove from its parent’s talons to lick it into shape…

 

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