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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Kenny MacAskill: Seal the border? Terrorists are here already

Heightened security and more atrocities may be price for our values and way of life, but we shall overcome challenges together, writes Kenny MacAskill.

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Cyber-crime is coming to a computer near all of us, so do whats needed to seek protection.

Kenny MacAskill: WannaCry attack must be a wake-up call or next time tears will be the least of it

The WannaCry ransom cyber-attack has shocked everyone in its scale and severity. It attacked 200,000 computers in over 150 countries. Targets included the USA, Russia, China and the UK, not just more vulnerable third world nations. Its threat shown by the potentially cataclysmic strike against the NHS whether hospitals, pharmacies or GPs.

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Theresa May doesnt need a general election to give her a majority; she wants it to crush Labour

Kenny MacAskill: This general election has been called for the shameless political self-interest of the Tories

Electoral contests are strange affairs. With their own dynamic, they can result in unholy alliances between political parties and tactical voting by the electorate. They don’t always follow the call made by the prime minister. Back in 1974 Ted Heath called an election on who ran the country, only for the electorate to decide that he was failing in running the economy. Similarly, tactical voting more often comes from the decision of the electorate, than from formal packs arranged by parties.

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Joey Barton's suspension will almost certainly mean the end of his career. Picture: Getty

Kenny MacAskill: Odds are that gambling will increase

The suspension of the footballer Joey Barton last week for gambling made the headlines. The length of it is almost certainly career-ending for him. His suspension, though, highlights a growing issue with gambling, not just in football, but in wider society.

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Trump is still talking the talk that enthused many, even if actions havent matched rhetoric

Kenny MacAskill: Despite Trump, the world still needs America to tackle big issues

The first hundred days of Donald Trump’s term as President have passed and a far from flattering assessment made by commentators. However, whether that’ll have any bearing on his support remains to be seen. He’s still talking the language that enthused many, even if the actions haven’t matched the rhetoric. I discovered that much when in the States for talks interspersed with a holiday last month. It’s a deeply divided land. Watching news programmes and even TV channels would have you believe that you were in a different country, if not a parallel universe at times.

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Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Invincible leaving Portsmouth to a patriotic send-off. She is to lead the task force to the Falkland Islands.

Kenny MacAskill: Brexiteers sending us on a wild goose chase

Mad Brexiteers forget that the EU kept peace and brought prosperity to a war-torn Europe, writes Kenny MacAskill.

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Armed policeman at Edinburgh Airport in Scotland. Picture: PA

Kenny MacAskill: We do not need routinely armed police – they need more support and protection

In my experience the overwhelming majority of police officers in Scotland neither seek for themselves, nor their colleagues to be routinely armed. They cherish policing by consent in communities, that in the main, they’re still recruited from and live within. It remains a Police Service and not a Police Force, though on occasion force may need to be used. They do, though, seek to ensure that there’s adequate protection for those they serve as well as for themselves. That’s both right and reasonable.

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Delegates in buoyant mood after Nicola Sturgeon's keynote speech at the SNP conference. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Kenny MacAskill: Case for independence needs a proper answer to currency question

There’s an old saying that a week is a long time in politics. The past seven days has shown that to be the case in Scotland, as elsewhere. The SNP spring conference gathered in Aberdeen last weekend. What might have been anticipated as being a challenging event for the party leadership instead became a rallying call for the party faithful.

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