Independent Scotland faces ‘difficult’ cuts, warns thinktank – The Herald

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A NEWLY independent Scotland would face years of deep public spending cuts as it was forced to drive down its deficit with only limited borrowing options, a leading thinktank has said.

In two new papers on currency and borrowing outside the UK, the Institute for Government (IfG) said Scotland was likely to have to run a “tighter fiscal policy than the position that it would be likely to inherit on day one”.

The IfG said an independent Scotland would “struggle” to borrow much more than 3 per cent of its GDP a year, requiring it find an extra £6.5bn to £8.5bn a year in higher tax or spending cuts.

As a country without a track record in the financial markets, its borrowing costs would be 0.4 to 0.9 points higher than UK rates, a premium equivalent to around 2p on every rate of income tax.

Scotland’s nominal deficit was around 8% of GDP before the pandemic and is now 22%.
The IfG said even an 8% deficit made Scotland “an outlier among international peers”, limiting its borrowing from wary markets.

To establish its credentials, it would therefore have to implement a “substantial fiscal consolidation – around 5 to 6% of GDP relative to its current position – over the first few years of independence”, depending on its share on inherited debt from the UK.

For economic news, click here: https://www.scotlandmatters.co.uk/economy-matters/

Letters to the press, 18/09/21: Next referendum should be UK wide, SNP at blame for 40hr ambulance wait, Thank goodness for the UK.

Sturgeon gives ‘wrong pre-scripted answer’ to SNP MSP’s question – The Herald

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NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of giving the “wrong pre-scripted answer” to a question from one of her own backbenchers for the second time in a week.

Scottish Conservative MSP Stephen Kerr raised a point of order in Holyrood following the apparent mistake.

It came after Ms Sturgeon responded to a question from SNP MSP Stuart McMillan about a public inquiry into the coronavirus crisis.

Instead of addressing the issue, the First Minister referred to Covid measures in the education sector.

On Wednesday last week, Ms Sturgeon made a similar mistake after a question from SNP MSP Stephanie Callaghan about NHS Lanarkshire.

The First Minister read out the answer to the next question due in Holyrood, from the SNP’s Evelyn Tweed, and later said there had been “confusion on my part”.

Raising a point of order today, Mr Kerr said: “Presiding Officer, for the second time in two weeks, the First Minister has read the wrong pre-scripted answer to her backbencher’s pre-scripted question.

“Stuart McMillan asked about the inquiry into the Scottish Government’s handling of the pandemic.

“The First Minister’s answer was all about schools.

“Can you, Presiding Officer, please advise as to what options there are to ensure that we hear an answer to the question that was actually asked?”

For health news, please click here: https://www.scotlandmatters.co.uk/health-matters/

Letters to the press, 15/09/21: FM has nothing new to say, Scots in England should get indy vote, Sturgeon needs to get real.

RMT attacks SNP MPs for ‘London union bosses’ jibe in ScotRail COP 26 dispute row – The Herald

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A RAIL union has attacked SNP MPs over “inflammatory” language while referring to its “London bosses” in calling on it to suspend a ScotRail strike ballot for action that would disrupt the COP 26 climate change conference in Glasgow in November.

Disruption to travellers has been threatened after the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) announced ScotRail staff were being consulted over potential strike action after being offered no pay increase.

The move comes on top of disruption to passengers in a separate RMT conductors’ dispute over payments for working on days off, which has seen the cancellation of many ScotRail trains on Sundays since March.

The union is balloting on taking action on dates that coincide with the summit, when world leaders will be in Glasgow.

ScotRail, which is run by Dutch state-owned transport firm Abellio, has been urging staff to come together to rebuild Scotland’s railways saying that a rise in industrial action is “completely wrong” for staff and customers as services become more increasingly used with the easing of lockdown.

For more transport news, click here: https://www.scotlandmatters.co.uk/transport-matters/

Nicola Sturgeon branded ‘disgrace’ after heckling MSP over gender reforms – The Herald

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NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of trying to shut down debate about controversial gender reforms after telling an MSP who raised them he should be ashamed of himself.

Speaking about her new Gender Recognition Reform Bill on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon said she understood that “some have sincerely held concerns about” the proposed legislation.

However when Tory Murdo Fraser mentioned a protest by hundreds of women concerned about the “contentious” and “divisive” plan, Ms Sturgeon verbally attacked him for it.

The First Minister, who recently urged MSPs to “make an effort to disagree more civilly”, shouted “Shame on you!” across the Holyrood chamber.

Mr Fraser said the comment was “a disgrace” and accused Ms Sturgeon of dismissing the concerns of the women protesters involved.

It was sign of the increasing tensions at Holyrood over the legislation, which is intended to simplify the process of legally changing one’s gender through self-identification.

Obtaining a gender recognition certificate currently requires a medical diagnosis and takes at least two years.

The new law would remove the medical element and shorten the time to six months, relying on self-declaration in front of a notary public or a justice of the peace instead.

Opponents fear the move will see men who identify as women using single-sex spaces and services, such as refugees, some of whom may abuse the system to prey on women.

Last week around 400 people attended a Women’s Rights demo outside parliament at which the crowd booed mentions of Ms Sturgeon and the Greens, who also back the new law.

Finance secretary Kate Forbes challenged by Tories after drawing a blank on figures – The Herald

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KATE FORBES has come under fire from Tory MPs for failing to get to grips with her figures.

Ms Forbes, Scottish finance secretary, was appearing at a session of the Scottish Affairs Committee this afternoon when she was asked about how much the Scottish Government had spent so far on city and region growth deals.

Glasgow businesses step up security in notorious city street plagued by anti-social behaviour – The Herald

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BUSINESS owners in an area of Glasgow which has been plagued by anti-social behaviour have been forced to fork out thousands of pounds in extra security.

Office workers have even had to call emergency services after a drug user was found comatosed at the entrance to their premises with one city firm saying they frequently find drug injecting paraphernalia in their stairwell as well as being subjected to verbal abuse.

Letters to the press, 08/09/21: More to the Union than politics, No prospectus for Scotland, Scottish welcome.