Scottish Tories dog Labour’s heels as Davidson named e-politician of the year

A poll this week found the Scottish Conservatives only two points behind Labour in the run-up to next year’s Scottish Parliament elections.

Several polls have found the Tories running close, and The Independent reports on the looming risk that the party might lose its place as official opposition in the country whose politics it once totally dominated – and the dire implications for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Meanwhile Ruth Davidson, the Tory leader north of the border, has been voted Scotland’s most successful social media politician at The Herald’s politician of the year awards, according to that paper.

It singles out for praise her use of Twitter, both to “put homophobic trolls in their place” and “speak out against the UK Government.”

She saw off competition from fellow Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, whom she beat to the leadership in 2011, and SNP minister Humza Yousaf.

Crabb concedes that Wales Bill should contain fewer reserved powers

The list of 267 powers which would remain with Westminster after the passage of the new Wales Bill needs to be shortened, according to its author.

Stephen Crabb, the Welsh Secretary and MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, made the remark during a session of the Constitution and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Welsh Assembly, according to Wales Online.

The Government’s proposed devolution framework for Wales has been criticised for being more complex than equivalent arrangements for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Lords calls on Cameron to pause Scotland Bill

A committee of peers has called on the Government to delay the passage of its flagship devolution bill amidst claims that its potential ramifications haven’t been properly scrutinised, reports The Herald.

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee claims in its report, ‘A Fracturing Union?’, that the legislation is being passed with “undue haste”, and that “nobody knows what is going on”.

Meanwhile, one of Scotland’s leading economists has claimed that the new financial framework accompanying the transfer of powers could leave Scotland hundreds of millions of pounds worse off.

The Government hopes the transfer of substantial financial powers to the Scottish Parliament to inject some realism into the political debate north of the border.

SNP politicians have already been wrong-footed by the broadened scope of the debate, with Labour’s Kezia Dugdale outflanking the Nationalists on the left, most recently on school funding.

Robinson insists he wasn’t pushed as DUP prepares to pick new leader

Peter Robinson, the outgoing First Minister of Northern Ireland and long-standing leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, confirmed this week his intention to quit politics “within weeks”.

However, the News Letter reports his insistence that he is not being pushed out by his party following a difficult period for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

His party is now preparing to pick a new leader – a process in which, whilst essential, it turns out the membership will have no say in.

In the four decades since the DUP was founded by the late Reverend Ian Paisley, latterly Lord Bannside, it has never had a leadership election. Robinson assumed the leadership unopposed in 2008.

His outgoing speech has been compared to the sort that David Trimble, the former First Minister and Ulster Unionist leader, was directing at the DUP in the 1990s.

SNP MP faces police probe over missing donations

The Daily Record reports that Natalie McGarry, one of the new Nationalist MPs elected in May, is at the centre of a police investigation over £30,000 in missing donations.

She was one of the founder members of Women for Independence, one of the participants in last year’s referendum which has continued to campaign since.

The paper relates that Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, is under mounting pressure to suspend McGarry.

The SNP have already suspended Michelle Thomson, the MP for Edinburgh West, after the police launched an investigation into possible mortgage fraud, and the Scottish Conservatives are pushing hard for McGarry to receive equal treatment.

Earlier this week, the Daily Mail reported that the party had accepted a five-figure donation from an animal rights group shortly after voting against amendments to the England-only Hunting Act.

Democratic Unionists claim Ulster would host Trident

Although the defeat of the SNP in last year’s plebiscite puts off the need to relocate Britain’s nuclear deterrent, a DUP MP has claimed that Northern Ireland would be a willing replacement.

The Belfast Telegraph relates that Jeffrey Donaldson, the MP for Lagan Valley, remarked in Parliament that his province had loughs and ports enough to house the nuclear fleet.

Carwyn Jones, the Labour First Minister of Wales, has previously stated that that country would “welcome” the submarines, with the attendant jobs and economic activity.

An SNP motion calling for the non-renewal of the British deterrent was heavily defeated in Parliament yesterday – although what Buzzfeed described as an “awkward typo” initially meant they were down to argue the opposite case.