Kenny MacAskill: Tax rises are inevitable and it’s simply a question of how much and who will be paying

Nicola Sturgeon’s speech to the SNP conference was well-crafted and well delivered – you’d expect no less from a consummate politician. It was equally well received by delegates even if it was less revivalist than in past years. Some announcements had been trailed, others were delivered fresh to the excitement of party members and interest to the media. It certainly painted a picture of the fairer Scotland that she seeks.

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Nicola Sturgeon has played to the gallery at past conferences, getting rapturous applause. Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

Kenny MacAskill: A mix of grievance and justification will rally the SNP’s rank and file

The SNP gathers on Sunday in better heart than might previously have been anticipated. After all, it’s the first conference for many years following an electoral setback, and the loss of so many party stalwarts was a shock to the system. Mutterings and discontent had started amongst newer members who are not used to reversals, and amidst party stalwarts concerned about future direction. Not just a second independence referendum, but the political positioning of the party was being privately questioned.

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Apps and formats cant be uninvented, but that doesnt mean they shouldnt be regulated

Kenny MacAskill: Uber is not just a London or taxi issue but a microcosm of changes to our society

For many outside London, Glasgow or Edinburgh the Uber taxis debate will seem irrelevant. After all, in most other areas there are just the local taxi companies, and the issue is accessing them. Choice is limited and cost the set tariff. Even the licensed cab or private hire divide is of no consequence, where hailing a cab isn’t an option and where every pick-up has to be booked.

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Picture: SNS

Kenny MacAskill: Simply tholing offensive behaviour is no longer acceptable

This weekend sees the football season’s first Old Firm fixture. The traditional Rangers and Celtic rivalry has produced some marvellous matches through the years; natural talent heightened by a passionate support has enthralled. However, it’s also been responsible for more than its fair share of troubles.

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Nicola Sturgeons Programme for Government seems to suggest improvement in services can be achieved painlessly

Kenny MacAskill: There really is no gain without pain, whatever politicians say

There’s a saying “no pain, no gain” applied in the sporting world. But it actually has a far wider reference across our society. In the former context, it implies that if you don’t put in the effort in training, whether miles, lengths or in the ring, then you’ll never succeed.

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Incarceration should be for those who are a danger to the community and need to be segregated for our security

Kenny MacAskill: Tackling social problems is best addressed in communities, not prisons

Increasing the period for a presumption against prison sentences has been under discussion for some time. There’s a growing acceptance of the need to extend the current period of three months, and there is backing for it in law enforcement and the correctional field. Senior figures, from Scotland’s most senior judge, through HM Inspector of Prisons and those that work in the justice system, have endorsed the proposal. Politically, it’s likely that the Scottish Government will have the parliamentary support required, so it is almost certain to become law.

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Modern slavery and human trafficking is happening right here and now across Scotland. Picture: PA

Kenny MacAskill: We have a duty to make sure no-one is enslaved anywhere, least of all here

It’s the 21st century, but slavery is sadly still with us, not simply in reminders from the past in the shape of statues. It’s ongoing and happening in our communities. Perhaps it’s not as institutionalised as in past centuries where it was ingrained in societies, but it’s most certainly commercialised. This time it’s not through great trading companies who made vast fortunes, but through serious and organised crime groups, who equally make huge profits out of human misery. Some are international gangs or triads, others are our own ne’er-do-wells.

Jeremy Corbyn was lacklustre and far from dynamic as he led Labours campaign to remain in the EU. Picture: Getty

Kenny MacAskill: Lexit is as damaging as Brexit, and its proponents are equally deluded

The Labour leader’s approach to Brexit is wrong-headed, writes Kenny MacAskill

Baby boxes indicate a willingness to help every child, regardless of income, get the best possible start

Kenny MacAskill: Time to talk seriously about benefits, universal or not, affordable or otherwise

So, baby boxes will be arriving for every newborn in Scotland. Delivered not by a stork but by the Scottish Government. For some it’s a fad, for others a vital part of childcare. I tend to be supportive as its been shown to work in Finland, a country I admire greatly and one which has addressed public health issues and pursued education policies that Scotland could do well to learn from.

Michelle Thomson has been unfairly maligned and her political life brought to an end prematurely Picture: Greg Macvean

Kenny MacAskill: Lessons to be learned from Michelle Thomson case

Michelle Thomson appears to have had a raw deal, portrayed as a praying mantis waiting to pounce on the penniless. Yet she’s far from that.

Ruth Davidson serves up ice creams on the election campaign trail in Giffnock. Picture: John Devlin

Kenny MacAskill: The Tories have clawed their way back, but to what purpose?

The Scottish Tories have come a long way since being wiped out in 1997’s election, ironically saved by devolution. David McLetchie and Annabel Goldie’s wit steadied the ship, Ruth Davidson energised them and the independence referendum revitalised them. 20 years on they’re the principal opposition in the Scottish Parliament and ensconced in the UK Government.

Clearances, emigration and visions of destitution are etched in the collective history of the Scots. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Kenny MacAskill: ‘Action is needed to assuage the collective pain etched deep in the Scottish soul’

Last week I was in the Western Isles, the land of my father. There’s something mystical about the isles and they call out to those with roots there, as well as to others who discover them.

Visitors are here in ever-increasing numbers, and a small levy would not put them off

Kenny MacAskill: Tourist tax will not deter anyone from visiting Scotland

Other European cities have benefitted from a tourist tax, and so can Edinburgh, writes Kenny MacAskill

Armed troops and a tank at the Trongate in Glasgow following the George Square riot in 1919, sparked by a strike calling for a 40-hour working week. Many today would gladly welcome a 40-hour week if they could earn a living wage on it

Kenny MacAskill: no easy answers gig economy problems

Employment has been much in the news with publication of Matthew Taylor’s Review of Employment Practices and recent calls by Scottish Labour for a maximum 48-hour week. Where we work and how we work has changed over years. Gone are huge single-site employers that once proliferated across Scotland. Pits, steel and shipyards have closed. But, even in the USA the largest single site employer isn’t Ford or Boeing, but Disney World.

The number of people sleeping rough on Scotlands streets is on the increase. Picture: John Devlin

Kenny MacAskill: Provide homes for people, not just a return on investment

The appalling tragedy of Grenfell Tower has put housing back on the political agenda. Safety is an issue but so is availability and affordability. While people want to feel safe in their own beds, many would just long for their own home, whether it be let or bought.

Theresa Mays government alliance with Arlene Foster and the DUP has already angered many  (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Kenny MacAskill: It’s not if, but when indyref2 will be called

Unless discontent with the union is addressed a second independence referendum will be inevitable in this Disunited Kingdom, writes Kenny MacAskill.

Sixty years ago, there was another accidental prime minister in Anthony Eden, who didnt last long. Picture: Keystone/Getty Images

Kenny MacAskill: Brexit bluster has replaced bravado as our accidental PM makes return to Eden

A week is a long time in politics and it’s a year since the Brexit vote. Bravado followed, with Farage and others proclaiming they’d taken their country back. A revival almost was under way. The true faith had triumphed.


Kenny MacAskill: Continual battle mode for indyref2 was mistake

The SNP remain the biggest party in Scotland but Nicola Sturgeon must make changes in policy and organisation, warns Kenny MacAskill.

Armed  police officers patrol at London Bridge, scene of Saturday night's terrorist attack. Picture: AFP

Kenny MacAskill: We need to look at house arrest and tagging to counter terror

Every Westminster election produces the same debate on political toughness. It is usually linked to nuclear weapons, yet as recent atrocities have shown, the threat isn’t thermo-nuclear destruction but domestic terrorism. This election was also said to be about being tough in negotiations over Brexit. Yet Theresa May, far from being strong and stable, has been dithering and abject in diplomacy skills during the campaign.


Kenny MacAskill: Corbyn smears from Tories betray their concern

Given the basis for this election, the irony is Brexit has hardly been mentioned, writes Kenny MacAskill.

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