The Hamilton report has not vindicated Nicola Sturgeon – The Spectator, 22/03/21

Let me first deal with the general confusion. Most Scots think that the Hamilton Report, published today, deals with the question of whether the First Minister misled the Scottish Parliament when she told MSPs that the first time she knew of the allegations of sexual misconduct against Alex Salmond (of which he was acquitted of in a criminal court) was on 2 April 2018.

It does no such thing. Instead, the report deals with a possible breach of the Ministerial Code by Nicola Sturgeon on the question of whether she ‘failed to feed back’ the terms of her various meetings with Alex Salmond and others between March and July 2018. Mr Hamilton’s 61-page report concludes that she is not guilty on that ‘failure to feed back’ point. On the more significant issue of her misleading Parliament the verdict of the Holyrood Inquiry report, which has still not been published, will be determinative.

A separate Scotland could require to double income tax – Think Scotland, 23/03/21

Due to the impact of the pandemic, the deficit is likely to reach 25 per cent of GDP this year and remain around 10 per cent until at least the middle of this decade. North Sea Oil revenues will not provide a silver bullet, despite the claims of some nationalists. Scotland ran a fiscal deficit even when oil prices exceeded $100 per barrel, and the oil fields are fast depleting, with those being decommissioned attracting tax relief rather than delivering tax revenues.

But this should not come as a shock. Although Scotland’s deficit is more akin to a southern European country, Scotland’s politicians have long expressed a desire to follow the Scandinavian model for high state spending – including if the country went independent

School attainment gap ‘remains wide’, watchdog warns – BBC, 23/03/21

The gap between what Scotland’s poorest and richest young people are achieving in school “remains wide”, a spending watchdog has warned.

Audit Scotland said progress on closing the poverty-related attainment gap since 2013/14 has been limited and “falls short” of ministers’ aims.

The watchdog also found inequalities have been made worse by Covid.

The Scottish government said it had made “significant progress” in the last five years.

It pointed to its own report, which showed that the gap between primary pupils from the most and least deprived areas achieving the expected level in literacy and numeracy had narrowed since 2016.

Stephen Boyle, Auditor General for Scotland, said: “Significantly reducing the attainment gap is complex but the pace of improvement has to increase as part of the Scottish government’s Covid recovery planning.

Letters to the press, 23/03/21: Trident essential for Scots too, Salmond blame pinned on Tories, SNP MSPs are ruled with a rod of iron.