Monday, 22 May 2017

Care

My wife Maureen has now very late stage Alzheimer's type dementia. She showed the first signs of it in 2004 and is now completely bed bound and incapable of eating unassisted. She also has the other symptoms of the late stage of the disease which I need not spell out here but which will be familiar to those who also have knowledge of it.

It is not an experience that I would wish on anyone but, here is the thing, the one way in which it has barely affected us is financially.

That is partly because we live in a big house. It has four bedrooms and two bathrooms, so our own former bedroom has been capable of being turned into what is in effect a hospital room and the bathroom close to it into a wet floor room with a disabled shower. Few are so lucky.

Maureen requires 24/7 care, which I provide from 6pm to 7am, Although, since she now largely sleeps during that period, that is not the task it once was. Outwith that, we receive a "Self Directed Payment" from the local authority as part of Scotland's free personal care regime introduced by Holyrood's first Labour/Lib Dem administration. That pays, more or less, for the monthly cost of the carers who are in the house all of the time I am routinely not there. The only time we have to seriously dip into our own money is if I want a night out or a holiday and, even then, Maureen's own personal income, a teacher's pension, a PIP and now a state pension more than covers the cost of that.

We are very fortunate in that regard to be living in Scotland. In England we would be paying for all of this care from our own pockets. We are not poor people, far from it, but I doubt we could afford that. Out of income at least.

There has been much controversy about the Tories plan to address the funding of social care in England and Wales, not least because of the shambolic way in which it has been handled. But in one respect it is undoubtedly right. In the interest of inter generational fairness, never mind the willingness, possibly even the ability, of general taxpayers to stump up, the ever increasing costs involved in providing social care should not be funded from general taxation, direct or indirect.

For, in a UK context, between 2015 and 2020, over a period when the general population is expected to rise 3%, the numbers aged over 65 are expected to increase by 12% (1.1 million); the numbers aged over 85 by 18% (300,000); and the number of centenarians by 40% (7,000). And while it might be nice this will consist largely of elderly golfers "shooting their age" we have to be realistic as to what this actually means. Over the age of 84, the prevalence of dementia is more than 25%. And medical progress in this area is slow. Believe me, that is something I am also well informed about. Not least because Maureen's brother, Professor Michael O'Donovan, is one of the UK's leading medical experts in the field.

Anyway.
A form of inheritance tax is the fairest way to address this issue.

I personalise this only because it is a good way to outline the general point.  You see, Maureen and I are baby boomers. Only very much at the margins have we enjoyed inherited wealth but we both received a free university education. She then benefited from a very generous teacher's final salary pension while I enjoyed the "golden years" of Legal Aid. She, now aged 64, has a "triple locked" full state pension while I will in time enjoy a private pension significantly subsidised by being able to claim higher rate tax relief against my earlier contributions. Oh, and we own a big house with a negligible mortgage due to be paid off entirely well before my own retirement. We are very comfortably off. The point is however that for people of our generation, particularly perhaps those retired from a lifetime career in the professions or in the corporate or public sector, we are far from untypical.

And, in normal circumstance, we might both have anticipated living to a ripe old age. But if we did, there would inevitably come a point when we needed some help.

So who should pay for that? Those struggling to raise a deposit to buy a first home? Those having to pay off a student loan? Those claiming tax credits while paying income tax?

No, the obvious answer is that, through taxation, we should. Those who of us who have had such a fortunate period of time in which to have lived,  We baby boomers, who are only where we are because we enjoyed all these advantages outlined above and yet are being told such advantages are increasingly "unaffordable" for those who come after us.  And if that taxation only kicks in when we're gone we won't even notice it. Because we'd be gone.

So a levy on assets of the deceased is the fairest way for these costs be met. But here's what isn't fair about the current Tory proposals.  For liability for that taxation to be based on a lottery whereby those with a slow decline become liable to pay this tax while those who are taken quickly will not be. The risk should be, to coin a phrase from a different debate, "pooled and shared".

Now, in a Scottish context, the last stroke of good fortune Maureen and I have enjoyed is that we have benefited from free personal care before the money ran out. (And, as always, a bit because we were middle class, articulate, and knew our rights),

But when free personal care was introduced by the Labour/Lib-Dem coalition it is an open secret that our then Health Minister, Susan Deacon, opposed it. Not because she didn't see its merits but because she could see that, given the demographic changes I highlight above, in time, and within the limited revenue raising powers of the Scottish Parliament then prevailing, it was, in the long term, unaffordable. Even now, if people understood their rights properly, it would collapse overnight,

But the revenue raising powers of the Scottish Parliament have moved on since then. There is no reason now that Holyrood could not address this issue before the current policy hits a financial wall. Social care, free personal care, or whatever you want to call it, could be paid for a blanket inheritance tax, levied not just on those unfortunate enough to suffer a lingering departure but on all of those who die widowed and beyond a certain age.

The Nats won't confront this as they won't confront any difficult choice for fear of shaving off any part of their fragile Yes coalition. But Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie are serious politicians. As are many of the Greens once you get beyond their yes Nicola, no Nicola leader. As will Scottish Labour (hopefully) be again at some point later this year.

So here is a proposal. Let's ignore the Nats and get together to try and work out the detail of a long term viable solution on this matter.  I'd happily write a scoping paper. I do have some experience to draw on.







Saturday, 20 May 2017

Can McGill win?

So, I start with a declaration of interest. Iain McGill, the Tory candidate in Edinburgh North and Leith. is a pal of mine. But that's not in fact as unusual as you might think, not because I am a secret Tory but because Scotland is a small place and friendships do exist across the political divide,

Even in the context of Edinburgh North and Leith, Mark Lazarowicz, its Labour MP for fourteen years, is one of my oldest pals. Indeed we once went on holiday together, While, before Mark was blown away in the 2015 "Tsunami", the person who had previously run him most close was Lib-Dem Kevin Lang (now Councillor Kevin Lang). Who is also a pal of mine.

So I declare my interest only to forestall some cybernat pointing it out, although I accept that I have picked out Iain's seat as, because of that personal connection, it is indicative of my wider conclusion. The Tory revival might be at a further tipping point.

Edinburgh has five seats. East, in current circumstance, is probably safe for the Nats. (I don't say that just because it's MP, Tommy Sheppard, is also one of my oldest pals). South will be a unionist (if not exactly a Labour) bastion for Iain Murray. West has effectively already gone to the Libs and South West to the Tories. But North and Leith? North and Leith is the one to watch.

The Tories start theoretically third, where they were in 2015. But at the local government poll on 4th May past it was a different story. The Nats "won", certainly, with 27.6% of the first preference vote but in second place, with 25.9%,  were the Tories. More interestingly still, the combined Labour and Lib-Dem vote didn't even (just) get up to the Tory mark.

But freeze that and the brutality of first past the post will do its bit. So the question becomes, will that freeze persist?

And my answer to the question? I genuinely don't know.

But the answer to that very question will decide the narrative of this election in Scotland. Can the Tories advance just that little bit more in their own right? Even if they can't, can Ruth rally, however temporarily, Lib-Dem and Labour voters to her unionist flag where she needs to ? If she can't, she can't. But if she can? Then it won't just be North and Leith that falls but, by my calculation,  another half dozen or so seats.

And that would be on top of the fifteen seats Ruth has already flagged up as those where the Tories were in the lead on May 4th. Excepting Edinburgh South (be serious!) and Gordon where, much as I'd dance round the room were it otherwise, the celebrity of its MP will probably see him hang on.

And then, if the Libs take not just Edinburgh West but East Dunbarton (done deal) and NE Fife but also at least one of their former Highland seats? Game on. If only Labour, despite our leadership, can do our bit for the Popular Front.

Obviously Jez and Kez are a problem but they'll be gone soon and in advance of a proper revival and by the same logic by which McGill might take North and Leith, Martin McCluskey can take Inverclyde for us, Lesley Laird Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Martin Whitfield East Lothian, Hugh Gaffney Coatbridge and Chryston, Paul Sweeney Glasgow North East, Angela Feeney Motherwell and Wishaw and, particularly if in at last minute panic Patrick Harvie doesn't declare people shouldn't actually vote for him, the great Pam Duncan in Glasgow North.

In the UK, the Tories are going to win this election. As will the SNP in the Scottish bit of it. But in five years time if we want a Labour Government Scotland can't sit it out as we did in 2015. The starting point is to crush the Nats and return Edinburgh North and Leith to a seat we need to win in the context of a continued Union. Were I a younger man, I might even then seek the Labour nomination myself. Sorry Iain, but politics is politics. And, as I recall, its your round.






Sunday, 14 May 2017

24 Days out.

So, three and a half weeks to go and in my fourth election blog I thought I might take a bit of stock in relation to the election in Scotland. I might write later in the week regarding the UK contest but for the moment I will only observe that its strategic outcome is clear, The Tories will win with a significantly improved majority and that in itself will impact on Scotland.

But to Scotland itself?

Let's consider each of the players in turn.

The SNP.

They are clearly on the defensive. All talk of seeking a mandate for a second referendum mandate at this poll has disappeared. Let's not forget that, less than a month ago, one of the speculated "next moves" by Nicola, following the Prime Minister's rejection of a second independence referendum, would have been to get all her Westminster MPs to resign and seek re-election on that specific premise. Now they have been "resigned" by Theresa May, whether they wanted it or not, it is clear that the 56 will not be back. The only question is how many will. I will say more about that below.

The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

At one time known as "The Tories" but now at least as well known as "Ruth Davidson". There are two sorts of "Unionist" in Scotland. There are those of us who belong, for other reasons, to Parties whose philosophy logically support the union. Labour, Lib, Tory. Who knows, who possibly even owe allegiance to the "Supporting Christ's Lordship Party" who did, after all, beat the Trot-Nats at the last Holyrood poll. 

But there is a second sort of unionist. One who is not Labour or Lib or even Tory. One who is just a unionist. Who believe you can eat one flag just as surely as Nicola's troops believe you could eat another. And they are (very much only) part of Ruth's core constituency. Because the Libs are above all a European Party and Labour is currently led by an SNP volunteer who, in one of her many inadvertent "errors",  declared that she might, in certain circumstance,  even support independence herself.  

Ruth is, to borrow a phrase, strong and stable on the Union. So these votes are hers. To what result is again a point to which I return.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats.

Their problem, bluntly, is that they should be doing better. They should take Edinburgh West and East Dunbarton. North East Fife is another matter to which I will return but in the three West Highland and Island seats they are the only viable challengers and I fear they are not really challenging. In none of these seats did the Nats get 50% last time but they could hang on if they poll in the mid thirties unless the Libs can get their act together. If only Charlie Kennedy was living at this hour.

Scottish Labour

Despite the best efforts of Kezia Dugdale, who spent part of last week campaigning in Stornoway (!), stopping only on the way to give an interview to the Guardian once again talking down our prospects, we are in this. Not everywhere but in certain places. I'm not giving these away but it's not difficult to work them out if you look at the local government results. And the Tory surge notwithstanding, they remain uncompetitive in much of urban Scotland. Even Corbynism (if not Corbyn personally) might help us here. There is a section of the electorate who have persuaded themselves that the SNP is to the left of the Labour Party. That is simply unsustainable at this election, a problem compounded by the SNP, wary of the Tory surge, being unlikely to produce a manifesto even pretending to be a left wing Party. So, lets wait and see.

The Problem.

The problem is first past the post. In 1983, Labour got (only) 35.1% of the vote in Scotland. Yet we still got 41 out of 72 seats. The problem with the Tory surge might be its very success in confusing unionist voters as to what they need to do to get the Nats out. North East Fife is but one example of that. In the end we need information. Last time, Lord Ashcroft did us all a public service with his constituency polls. Maybe we should be appealing to him to dip into his deep pockets once again.

And that's all for the moment.




Saturday, 6 May 2017

Back in the Game

Great result for the Tories. Alright result for the SNP. The Libs did well where they needed to do well. Labour got gubbed.

That's the conventional narrative about Thursday's election but I'm not sure it is entirely accurate.

One curious feature about the volunteer's custodianship of the Scottish Labour Party has been her continued willingness to talk down her own Party's prospects. But over the last 48 hours this has gone further. She has talked down our actual result.

You see, we went into this election fearing that Labour might disappear as a serious political force in Scotland and that simply hasn't happened. Certainly we lost Glasgow but only to no overall control and, no disrespect to the Tories, while we remain distinctly challenging for power there, they are still well off challenging us for second place. Despite the double handicap of Kez and Jez, Frank and Anas not only got our horse round the track, they have it safely stabled for the next outing. And that's quite an achievement.

And that pattern has been repeated elsewhere across much of urban Scotland. Labour remains the single largest Party in East Lothian, Midlothian and Inverclyde. We are tied for first in North Ayrshire and are only one seat short here in North Lanarkshire, as well as in West Lothian. Excepting, I concede, Aberdeen and Edinburgh, we otherwise remain the second largest Party in practically all of Scotland's urban authorities.

Now, all of this is poor fare compared to the dominance we once had but it is hardly indicative of a Party that is "finished".

Two weeks past, Kez had no ambition at all except to hold Edinburgh South, have a tilt at East Lothian and, apparently, fund a frankly quixotic attempt to regain East Renfrewshire, where we came third on Thursday past. Indeed it appears the only benefit of the Labour vote holding up at all there would be to allow the SNP to hold on. Why would she want that, I wonder?

Thursday has however changed that, no matter how much she might be about to use her best efforts to obscure it. In 2015, Labour was blown away, by massive margins, in most of our heartland seats. But on Thursday, in terms of first preference votes, we were back to being the largest Party in a good few of these seats. And the Tory revival vote, capable of being embraced risk free in an STV election, is there for the unionist squeezing in places where these voters know they have no chance under first past the post.

The current received wisdom is that based on their 276 Councillors, the Tories might get ten Parliamentary seats. Well, here's the thing, despite everything, Labour has still got 262 Councillors. So why shouldn't we be looking at a similar number of Parliamentary seats as the Tories?

Over to Kez to explain that.



Sunday, 30 April 2017

Three lessons learned.

During this election period I've decided to write the occasional blog in the role of a largely detached observer. My first effort is here

Don't get me wrong, I'll vote Labour as always but it would be fair to say that I'm pretty semi-detached from our Leaderships both north and south of the border and for the moment there is little sign of that sentiment changing on either side.

So in the spirit of that first effort here are a few more passing reflections about, on this occasion, how the UK campaign is being influenced by recent Scottish politics.

Firstly, we have what the UK Tories have learned from the Scottish Tories.

I modestly claim the credit for first promoting the concept of the "Ruth Davidson Party". Ms Davidson, on inheriting the Scottish Tory Party leadership appreciated early on that while (some) Scottish Tory Policies were popular with a significant section of the electorate, they were failing to resonate because a cultural hegemony (look up your Gramsci) had come to exist in Scotland that the Tories were an alien Party. The Party of another country (England) and the Party of Mrs Thatcher, a woman so horrible that her doings could not even be discussed in polite company. A sort of Finchley Voldemort.

So Ms Davidson's solution was, initially, to pretend that she wasn't a Tory at all. She was Ruth, who liked a laugh, and a drink and who could turn up at a Pride event not as an embarrassing auntie there on penance but as someone who could claim to be a legitimate front line soldier on the right side of the culture wars.

And having done that, she started getting a wider hearing, admittedly assisted by Labour's determination to pluck defeat from the jaws of victory in the aftermath of 18th September 2014.

But most of you reading this will know that story. No, what is interesting is what we've seen in the early days of the UK campaign. Not the Tory Party but the Theresa May Party. For as Mrs May makes her progress through the Country there is one thing very noticeable. The prominence on all the backdrops of all the staged events of the name "Theresa May" and the absence, other than very much in the small print, of the word "Conservative".

For the UK Tories have worked out that Theresa May can reach parts of the electorate that "The Tories" never could. Thus, she is much more popular than her Party in certain parts of the Country. I genuinely have no idea why (although actually I suggest one partial explanation below) but there is no denying the polling. Even in Scotland, why she is so much more (or relatively less un) popular than David Cameron mystifies me. But it is there and the Tories know it. So where Ruth went, Theresa follows. Only Theresa starts with advantages Ruth never had.

Well actually, that "May factor" might be what the Tories have learned from the SNP. The common narrative that explains the 2015 SNP landslide at the General Election in Scotland is that all the Yes voters voted SNP while the No voters fragmented. First past the post then did the rest.

Except it wasn't as simple as that. For the SNP did significantly better in attracting a share of the popular vote in May 2015 than had the Yes campaign in September 2014. During that time, polling on Independence itself barely moved and logic dictates that some Yes voters at least returned to their normal Party allegiance. So it is incontrovertible that a significant section of the electorate, having voted No (indeed still intending, if asked again, to vote No), then nonetheless voted SNP. Why? Because Nicola Sturgeon sold herself as the person prepared to "stand up for Scotland". And where is Theresa May in this campaign? Standing up for Britain. Not kow-towing to Brussels (as the Tories would paint the Libs), never mind kow-towing to anybody who raises their voice as (believe me) they are about to do to Corbyn. "However you voted on Brexit, only one Leader will stand up for Britain in its aftermath", could almost be lifted directly from the Nats appeal in May 2015.

Then, thirdly, we have what the Lib-Dems have learned from the Scottish Tories. Sometimes a limited aspiration can pay dividends.

In May 2016, Ruth Davidson did not really stand for the position of First Minister. She stood for the position of Leader of the Opposition. And it worked. As the inevitable return to office of La Sturgeon became obvious, the electorate looked round as to who might best hold her to account. And Ruth stepped into a vacuum. Tim Farron spots that opportunity. It's just a pity he is Tim Farron. "Go back to your constituencies and prepare for opposition" might not immediately prove the most effective rallying call but if coupled with "Labour is finished forever and people won't want Tory Government's forever." ........? If that works, Tim might at least have the decency to buy Ruth a drink.

Anyway, these are my thoughts this weekend. More next week sometime,

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Where are we?


I thought I might just share some thoughts about where we are in the General Election campaign in Scotland.

Firstly, it is important to remember there are other elections first, the local elections on 4th May.

These will give us a much clearer picture than any opinion poll but I suspect they will only confirm what these polls are saying. That the Tories are on a surge north (and now elsewhere west) of the border. Only this time "the polls can't be trusted" won't wash as an excuse.

In the 4th May aftermath there will inevitably be last minute calls for Kez and Jez to go but there appears no sign either will. Kez's ability to hang on is a bit of a mystery to me. We are in a situation where despite the clear (slight) decline of the SNP and the speculation that they might lose seats to the Tories and the Libs, there is not a single seat in Scotland that Labour is tipped  (even wildly) to take off them. Yet the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party sails on oblivious, indeed apparently unconcerned. Perhaps she just assumes nobody else wants the job, and in advance of June 8th she might be right. But if she thinks she'll survive after that she is deluded.

In the UK contest I don't think we've even started to realise how bad things could be. Every so often something pops up on social media to remind people of McDonnell and Corbyn's past affiliations but generally, so far, this attack isn't coming from the Tories themselves. I think there is a reason for this. There remains a remote chance that if the local elections were even worse for Labour than has already been priced in, Corbyn might actually be forced to go. So, the Tories have reason not to press their advantage too soon. So far, Corbyn still persuades some voters that he is no worse than "nice but incompetent". The Tories will, I confidently predict, go all out to discredit that redeeming feature and nothing that Corbyn or his team have said so far indicates they have any strategy to deal with this. And that's before we even get started on the farce of "Labour supports a nuclear deterrent but our candidate for Prime Minister would never, ever use it."

But a lot of people still won't vote Tory in England & Wales, (many of whom are fervent Remainers) so I wouldn't be at all surprised if by two or three weeks out the narrative hasn't become "Will the Libs beat Labour in the popular vote?" Indeed I wouldn't be entirely surprised if that actually happened.

So, emerging narratives. If the Tories do well in Scotland and Labour implodes in the UK, it will have various consequentials for Scottish politics.

1. The answer to any challenge to the SNP will no longer be capable of being dealt with by just shouting TORY! (Red or otherwise). The Nats will have to engage with the Tories on policy grounds. They will struggle to do that while holding their coalition together because its clear a lot of Nats are far from inimical to power being moved out of Edinburgh, lower taxes, or Brexit.

2. The Tories will more generally be able to move the general discourse of Scottish politics to the right. There has been a baleful lack of debate in Scotland while Labour and the Nats have had a common interest (albeit for different reasons) not to challenge our complacent and flabby public sector. That will change.

3. If the Nats go backwards it won't just be whether they still say they'd still hold a second independence referendum. It will become whether they still really want one. No amount of "We're still (much) the biggest Party" in the early hours of 9th June will be capable of disguising that. And the clock to their 2020 Manifesto will have started ticking.

4. If the Libs beat or even get close to Labour in the UK result, post election political realignment there will become unstoppable. That will be particularly so if Corbyn attempts to hang on. This will also spill over to Scotland, particularly as here the Libs will almost certainly have more seats, if not votes, than us.

5. Speculation will start as to whether the Scottish Tories have a ceiling to their vote. Could Ruth Davidson actually become First Minister? and

6. If the Scottish voting patterns end up with Labour holding the balance of power between the Tories and the SNP what should we do? Actually, that's likely to be a question we have to answer on May 5th 2017 never mind May 2020. Anybody got any views as to what the answer ought to be? Small in number though we remain, I think that we might literally split on this issue alone.

So, cheery days.






Tuesday, 18 April 2017

May 2020.

I am writing this blog in my lunchtime and I'm not the fastest of typists so I might have to finish it between clients this afternoon.

But, in summary, the decision of Theresa May to call an early UK General Election means that the next Holyrood Election will be in May 2020 rather than May 2021 as would otherwise be the case.

The Scottish Parliament was meant to have a four year term and in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 that's what happened.

But in 2011, the Westminster Parliament passed the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act essentially fixing the date of the Next UK General Election for May 2015. That would however have meant a Holyrood poll on the same date and,  for reasons I don't have time to go into here, there was a consensus against that. So, by virtue of s.4 of the 2011 Act, the date of the next Holyrood poll was moved to May 2016.

This was done on a one-off basis originally but there remained a view that the two elections should not clash, so when the Scotland Act 2016 was introduced it contained (in ss.4-10) provision that if a Holyrood and Westminster poll was to clash in future, the former would be moved.

The power to actually change the date lies with the Secretary of State but undertakings were given that he would respect the preference of the Scottish Government on whether to move the poll backwards or forwards. Prior to May 2016, Nicola Sturgeon indicated her preference for the former option.

BUT, although ss 4-10 of the 2016 Act were passed they have not been commenced. Even if they were commenced however, the power to adjust the four year statutory term would only be available if there was going to be a clash, which patently there isn't now going to be.

So its May 2020 for the next Holyrood poll.

Now, this is very important.

It has been clear from the outset that Sturgeon wanted the "next" referendum before the next Scottish Parliament election. The reason for that is quite clear. She fears the Parliament's pro independence majority might be lost at that poll. But, while suggesting her own preference for Autumn 2019, she was realistic enough to concede that it might have has to have been May 2020 for reasons connected to the negotiation of the terms of a s.30 and the inevitable time it would take to get a Bill through the Scottish Parliament.

Well it can't be May 2020 now. And the Tories have made it clear it won't be Autumn 2019.

So, there will only now be a second referendum if the SNP (and any allies) win the May 2020 elections on a clear mandate for a second vote. A mandate they fear they won't get. Don't take my word for that, ask Nicola Sturgeon.

Postscript.

Since I wrote this hurriedly at lunchtime, Professor James Chalmers of the University of Glasgow has entered this debate to suggest I am wrong and the Scottish Parliament has also claimed that the May 2021 date is preserved. I haven't seen anything in writing from the latter but am relying on what I've been told by political journalists who suggest they are following Professor Chalmers logic, so I'll assume that to be the case.

I accept absolutely that the Prof's only dog in this fight is that of correct statutory interpretation and that he is undoubtedly a more distinguished lawyer than me. I also concede that he relies on some legislation of which I was unaware at lunchtime. But I still think he (and if they have adopted his argument the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body) are wrong, albeit with regard to sections of the 2016 Scotland Act not yet commenced.

The Prof has pointed out that by virtue of an obscure piece of legislation, "The Scotland Act 1998 (Modification of Schedules 4 and 5)  Order 2015  the Scottish Parliament had, in 2015, been given the power to amend the date of the next Scottish Parliament Election. I readily concede I didn't know that, although the Prof himself was good enough to link to the Hansard debate in which it was clearly intended as a temporary measure. But while I might excuse myself from ignorance of an obscure Statutory Instrument the Prof also drew attention to The Scottish Election (Dates) Act 2016 of which I should have been aware earlier. For it uses the devolved competence of the 2015 Order to fix the date of the next Scottish Election as 6th May 2021.

But I don't think the Prof is interpreting things properly (ducks).

Because the 2015 Order was clearly intended as a temporary measure pending what became the Scotland Act 2016. And it says something quite different.

Section 2 of the Scotland Act 1998 (the founding Statute) says

    "The poll at subsequent ordinary general elections shall be held on the first Thursday in May in the fourth calendar year following that in which the previous ordinary general election was held, unless the day of the poll is determined by a proclamation under subsection (5)."

Section 5 of the Scotland Act 2016 amends that.

I've tried unsuccessfully formatting and reformatting this to get it on the page so here is the link http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2016/11/section/5/enacted

In summary the section (as amended) now reads

"The poll at subsequent ordinary general elections shall be held on the first Thursday in May in the fourth calendar year following that in which the previous ordinary general election was held unless

(a) subsection (2A) prevents the poll being held on that day......"

Subsection 2A reads

"The poll shall not be held on the same day as the poll at

(a) a Parliamentary General Election......"

I readily admit I've cut out a lot of irrelevant text here for brevity (and clarity) but if you doubt me, feel free to look at it for yourself.

Now, sections 4-10 of the Scotland Act 2016 have not yet been commenced but when they are they will become the law of the land. And they will then dictate when the next Scottish Parliament election will be, notwithstanding any Holyrood legislation. For, for the avoidance of any doubt on the matter, section 10(7) of the Scotland Act 2016 specifically revokes "The Scotland Act 1998 (Modification of Schedules 4 and 5) Order 2015".

So, in summary, if Sections 4-10 of the Scotland Act 2016 are commenced, the next Scottish Parliament Election will be on the first Thursday in May 2020. I stand by that argument.




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