Grayling and IDS hit out at SNP
Two Government ministers have exchanged fire with Scottish Nationalists this week. Chris Grayling, the Leader of the House, criticised the Nationalists for “faux outrage” over the Government’s devolution agenda.
Grayling led the Government’s introduction of English Votes for English Laws (EVEL), which the SNP claim makes their MPs “second-class citizens”.
The Herald reports an exchange between Mhairi Black, the Nationalist MP, and Iain Duncan Smithover tax credit cuts.
The Work and Pensions Secretary told her that the new powers being dissolved to the Scottish Parliament would allow it to reverse George Osborne’s planned cuts to tax credits, should it wish to.
However, economists warned this week that Scotland faces an exodus of the wealthy and young if the Scottish Government uses its new powers to raise taxes – which Scottish Labour has already pledged to do.
Crabb warns that devolution debate risks paralysing Welsh politics
In a speech at Cardiff University’s business school Stephen Crabb, the Welsh Secretary, has warned that the country’s economy risks being paralysed by endless constitutional navel gazing.
According to Wales Online he cited the new Northern Powerhouse as a “competitor” to which Wales would need to repond.
The Welsh Secretary has been locked in a war of words with Carwyn Jones, the constitutionally-preoccupied Labour First Minister of Wales, since last week.
Meanwhile Dr James Davies, the new Tory MP for the Vale of Clwyd, has been criticised for blocking critics on Twitter during a row over the rate of VAT on sanitary products.
Embattled Scottish Labour split UK party with Trident vote
A vote against the renewal of Trident – a reserved issue over which the Scottish Parliament has no say – at the Scottish Labour conference has rocked the party, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, supported the Scots in their rebellion against UK party policy – a revolt which has already provoked a critical response from Kevan Jones, the Shadow Defence Minister.
It has also elicited contradictory response from figures such as Diane Abbott, who claims Labour will adopt a unilateralist policy, and Maria Eagle, the Shadow Defence Secretary, who denies Scotland is going to set Labour policy, reports Sebastian Payne of the Spectator.
Meanwhile, workers have accused Unite – which backed the vote against renewing Britain’s nuclear arsenal – of betraying the interests of the thousands of jobs based at the base in Faslane. The GMB union opposed the vote.
Writing for the new Conservative Trade Unionists group Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, claimed her pro-nuclear party stood “in solidarity” with workers at the bases.
Writing in the Times (£), Alex Massie reveals that 53 per cent of Scots support renewing Trident, against only 37 who share the SNP-Labour position.
Nor do Scottish Labour’s woes end there: the Huffington Post has a video of Kezia Dugdale, their leader, being met with total silence on Question Time after delivering a passionate case for the party’s continued relevance.
They also had to pull a campaign video after misspelling the word “generation”.
Robinson allies deniy claims that he’s soon to resign
The Democratic Unionists, Northern Ireland’s largest party, have denied reports that Peter Robinson, their leader and the province’s First Minister, is on the way out.
The News Letter reports that party sources claim that he might resign if and when a deal is reached in the current round of Stormont negotiations.
Speculation is amounting amidst concerns that the party is haemorrhaging support ahead of next May’s devolved elections.
The party has also appointed its newest MLA, Emma Pengelly, to a junior ministerial role a mere month after she took her seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Meanwhile, the DUP used their veto to block the province’s bid to legalise same-sex marriage, despite a majority vote in the Assembly.
SNP under pressure from Davidson on education
Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, has been attacked for breaking promises on student debt after it rose to £2.7 billion, the Scotsman reports.
The Nationalists made opposition to fees a signature policy under Alex Salmond, but according to ITV his legacy now faces claims that it has benefited middle class students at the expense of the least well off.
The Scottish Conservatives have also raised concerns that the funding gap caused by the policy puts Scottish universities at a competitive disadvantage and forces them to take more lucrative students from the rest of the UK.
In other news, it emerged this week that the New York campus of a Glasgow Caledonian University still has no pupils, two years after it opened.
UKIP expel former Northern Irish chairman
The Irish News reports that Henry Reilly, a former UKIP councillor in Northern Ireland who was the party’s provincial chairman, has been expelled from the party.
Apparently this is a result of his talking to the Irish News on a previous occasion about his strained relationship with David McNarry, the party’s Northern Irish leader and sole MLA who defected from the Ulster Unionists in 2012.
Reilly was previously tipped as UKIP’s best shot at being directly elected to the Assembly in next May’s elections: he’s got a strong profile in South Down, where the likely defeat of NI21 co-founder John McCallister means that there is likely a Unionist seat up for grabs.
Gaelic consultation flops
Only four people responded to a multi-million pound consultation set up by the Scottish Government to inform their Gaelic language policy, according to the Scotsman. Only two of these were in Gaelic.
The Nationalist administration is keen on Gaelic as a wedge to highlight differences with England, but with only 60,000 speakers it cannot play the same role for nationalism that the Welsh language does.
Tory MSP Alex Johnstone claims the farce demonstrates how the SNP are allowing their ideological preoccupations to warp their public spending priorities.