Duncan Hamilton rss

Are we entering a Dali-esque financial world in which oddities abound? Picture: Getty

Comment: ‘Steady as she goes’ belies a nightmare

A RECURRENT theme in George Osborne’s Budget last week was that, after one of the most severe recessions for a century and a massive increase in government deficit and debt, the UK economy was steadily getting back to normal. Indeed, even better than normal: unemployment falling further, record numbers in work, the GDP growth forecast raised (if only fractionally), deficit reduction coming in below the previous target (at last) and an improving trade deficit.

Martin Flanagan

Comment: Fiddling at the margins of housing crisis

THOSE bores for Britain who once crowed smugly about their fail-safe investment in bricks and mortar have had their comeuppance. For a lot of them, Generation Y offspring have switched from bringing their washing back from uni to taking up semi-permanent residence again, with little chance of getting on the exorbitant housing ladder that their parents inadvertently pulled up after ascending.


Iain McGill at the waterfront in Leith, not far from his childhood homes in Restalrig and Easter Road. Picture: Neil Hanna

Election Essays: Iain McGill, Scottish Conservatives

I’M A very typical Tory. I started off in a tenement in the Restalrig area of Edinburgh until too many brothers and sisters arrived and my parents moved to a bigger house just off Easter Road, in the most densely populated area of Scotland.


Ruth Davidson endures hateful language frequently, if her Twitter feed is anything to go by. Picture: Jane Barlow

Claire Black: Ruth Davidson sets a good example

WHEN I read the tweet that was sent to Ruth Davidson I had lots of different reactions. What kind of pathetic fool sends something like that? Wow, isn’t it amazing that the insults hurled at lesbians haven’t changed since I was a lass. In more than 20 years, you’d think there might be something other than she needs a good seeing to. But somewhere within me, pretty deep down, there was something else too, a flicker of something more painful and personal.

Make sure you use up some of your annual exemptions, allowances and reliefs as Chancellor George Osbornes budget approaches. Picture: Getty

Time running out to make tax liability as low as possible

5 April fast approaches, so take the opportunity to use up all allowances, relief and exemptions, says Paula Fraser

James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson during filming. Picture: PA

Dani Garavelli: End of the road for Clarkson?

Jeremy Clarkson is accused of punching a producer, but will the BBC sack its most controversial presenter, asks Dani Garavelli.


Alex Salmond is not a man who finds zipping it at all easy. Picture: Robert Perry

Euan McColm: Sturgeon shouldn’t fear Salmond show

THERE are few hard and fast rules for how former political leaders should ­behave. Once the pressures of power – or, in the case of those who never quite succeed, ­authority – have been lifted, there are myriad options.


Paintings of Johann Lamont, Ruth Davidson and Nicola Sturgeon by ID Campbel from last years A Closer Look exhibition. Picture: Jane Barlow

Dani Garavelli: Defiance best weapon against sexism

THOUGH particularly tasteless, the photo-shopping of Nicola Sturgeon’s face on to a skimpy tartan two piece-clad body riding a wrecking ball by The Sun last week was just the latest example of the sexism women in politics face on a regular basis. Days before that, it was MP David Hamilton calling Sturgeon “a wee lassie in a tin hat”, though she is 44, with a law degree and an approval rating to die for; before that it was Kezia Dugdale being criticised for wearing too much make-up on Question Time. And before that it was Johann Lamont being called a “fish-wife”. I could go on…

Martin Sime is chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

Martin Sime: Resist attempts to gag charities

LAST week Eric Pickles become the latest UK Government minister to join an orchestrated attack against charities. His plans to insert gagging clauses in all funding agreements to prevent charities from speaking out is the most recent in a long line of assaults on the work our sector does on behalf of our most marginalised communities.

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Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in Liverpool. Picture: PA

Leaders: Cool heads and clear sight

Tories and Lib Dems need to tone down their language when speaking about the SNP

Deputy Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Andrew Wilson: Trying to make sense of broken system

THINGS are unsustainable, therefore they must stay the same. I have led us into this mess, therefore I must stay in charge. Your performance within my structure and under my leadership is so poor you mustn’t dream of changing it. Scotland 2015. In fact Scotland any year for the last 40.


Stuart McMillan

Drumlanrig: No sadomasochism in the library

WITH some regret in his voice, the Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan told parliament last week of how his youthful reading habits were censored by his ferocious school librarian.

The Humanist Society Scotland's campaign 'My Life, My Death, My Choice'. Picture: Esme Allen

Andrew Tickell: Assisted dying law must be reformed

DANIEL James was a rugby player, a rugby fanatic. Capped by the English juniors squad, the engineering student lived the physical life, active, robust, embodied. On 12 March 2007, at a training session at his Nuneaton club, a scrum buckled on top of the young hooker, dislocating two of Daniel’s vertebrae and compressing his spinal cord. He awoke tetraplegic, paralysed from the chest down. He could not move his hands, or feel his fingers.


The Chancellor openly admitted to making a mistake regarding RBS. Picture: PA

Comment: Stephen Hester’s RBS clean-up led the way

GEORGE Osborne admits that he regrets not forcing the issue of more radically slashing taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland’s investment banking arm in 2010, about 18 months after the bank’s £45 billion state bailout. The public admission will not have former RBS boss Stephen Hester scratching his head.

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Who will be looking over your shoulder when the government gives 120 organisations access to your personal records? Picture: Getty

Dani Garavelli: SNP database an affront to liberty

NOT long after the attack on the Twin Towers, the idea of a national database was promoted to the sceptical citizens of the UK on the basis it would act as a panacea for terrorism and identity and benefit fraud. Though civil liberties groups warned that the database and the identity cards that were to accompany it were an infringement of people’s privacy and that storing large quantities of information in one place was fraught with danger, and though the Tories and the Liberal Democrats opposed it, Labour was determined to press ahead.


Miliband came under pressure from his fellow MPs. Picture: Michael Gillen

Leaders: Ed Miliband wise not to bow to pressure

THERE was a good reason why Ed Miliband, when he spoke at yesterday’s Scottish Labour conference in Edinburgh, did not rule out a post-election deal with the SNP.


Chic Brodie MSP. Picture: Contributed

Drumlanrig: SNP’s Elvis gyrates to a new tune

WITH his jet black hairdo, his groovy moves and his penchant for belting out Hound Dog at conference karaoke nights, the SNP MSP Chic Brodie is justifiably often compared to Elvis.

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Majority of officers do their job without a firearm. Picture: John Devlin

Iain Livingstone: Armed officers serve a purpose

POLICING in Scotland today requires a round-the-clock response. In the first two years of Police Scotland, we responded to 3.2 million incidents – highlighting the sheer scale of the demand placed on our service.

Dave Mackay, pictured after captaining Hearts to the Scottish title in record-breaking style in season 1957-58. Picture: Contributed

Aidan Smith: Dave Mackay was hard, but not dirty

HIS charging around a football field long finished, Dave Mackay liked to rest those famously chunky legs and watch his favourite TV programmes. The set was housed within an incredibly ornate cabinet – an inducement for him to coach in the Middle East – which looked more like something you’d find in Kanye West’s pad and would have intimidated many, but not this great old man who wasn’t scared of anything. “So what do you like?” I asked when interviewing him a few years ago. “Loose Women!” he said with an impish grin. But one show he’d caught a few nights previously vexed him a great deal.


Despite the nationalist surge there will be no sequel. Picture: Jane Barlow

Euan McColm: Don’t hold your breath for Indyref 2

WHAT a time it is for Scottish Nationalists. Last year’s independence referendum may have been lost – and by a fair old margin at that – but from defeat has come strength.


A French Bulldog scored a victory over its owner in the park. Picture: Getty

Claire Black: Crufts - dogs without the downside

THE other morning as I walked into the park with my dog, I could see a man ahead bent over his French Bulldog. My view was not perfect. All I could see, of both man and dog, was two sets of chunky haunches and it was plain there was a struggle going on.

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Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe

Claire Black: Redmayne’s really useful engine

FROM the sublime to the ridiculous. Oscar winning, flame-haired, perpetually tuxedo-wrapped thesp Eddie Redmayne has signed on to voice the part of a new engine in the next Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends feature film. Talk about the curse of Oscar. I realise that this is not the Eddie Redmayne news that most people are talking about. Most people are blown away by the transformation apparent in the first photograph released of him as transgender artist, Lili Elbe, for Tom Hooper’s new movie, The Danish Girl. I grant you that it is both thrilling and delightful and just a tiny bit amusing that Redmayne, as it turns out, is actually a more beautiful woman than Nicole Kidman, who was originally cast as Elbe but dropped out.

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy out and about on the streets of Shettleston, Glasgow. Picture: Robert Perry

Dani Garavelli: Jim Murphy the dynamic underdog

Scottish Labour sorely needs the relentless energy that drove a boy from the schemes to seize a safe Tory seat. But can Jim Murphy lay to rest doubts over his sincerity, asks Dani Garavelli


The Yes campaign was  at its heart  an expression of frustrated exhaustion with Westminster and its decisions. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Andrew Tickell: SNP slouching towards Westminster

‘GOOD grief, you aren’t a Scottish Nationalist, are you?” The massive, tweedy don inspected me, eyes twinkling with surprise and a kind of benevolent contempt. Determined to skewer this odd specimen of humanity, after a fortifying slurp of claret, he patiently explained to me that I was wrongheaded and mistaken. Like a dim undergraduate in a tricky tutorial, he said, if I thought matters through, I would soon realise the absurdity of the Nationalists and my position.


Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls. Picture: PA

Drumlanrig: Danny, Champion of the Glens

DANNY Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, is gearing up for the May elections, as the latest issue of his newsletter Talk of The Glens dropping through the letterboxes of his constituents proves. And a right riveting read it is, too.

Madonnas tumble at last weeks Brit Awards. Picture: AP/PA

Chitra Ramaswamy: Madonna getting old disgracefully

IT WAS another excruciating moment for Madonna fans. We watched. We gasped. We shook our heads in sorrow. No, I’m not talking about the moment when the biggest selling female pop star in history fell over at the Brit Awards. I’m talking about the notably less commented on incident about 20 minutes earlier when the 43-year-old British comedian Jimmy Carr indulged in one of the nation’s favourite sports: the age-shaming of Madonna.


Alison Johnstone: Equality will be sunk by TTIP

TRICKLE-down economics. It’s a catchy phrase. Revived, I gather, by Democrats in the States to slate Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts for the rich, it’s come to mean the idea that if you make big business more profitable and give wealthy individuals more cash in their pockets somehow the rest of society will enjoy a commensurate boost. Of course, we know only too well that this kind of economic thinking hasn’t delivered. For too long governments have been pushing the trickle-down button and all the while inequality has been growing.

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For months, weve been calling Mohammed Emwazi Jihadi John. Picture: Getty

Euan McColm: No excuses for vile killer Jihadi John

WHEN former prime minister John Major said that, when it came to crime, society needed “to condemn a little more and understand a little less”, his words seemed to sum up just how out of touch his Conservative Party had become.


Martin Flanagan

Comment: Enjoy equity highs but don’t get carried away

BRITAIN’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index broke its 15-year intra-day and closing highs of 6,950 and 6,930 respectively last week. Where now? It is a finely balanced question. The financial fundamentals and broad economic backdrop would suggest further equity gains.

Consumer confidence is still improving. Picture: Lesley Martin

Comment: Politics giving firms plenty to worry about

CENTRAL to any assessment of our prospects is the state of business confidence – a critical indicator of investment, expansion and staff hiring plans in the period ahead.

Jeff Salway. Picture: Jane Barlow

Comment: Osborne deserves no credit for FTSE high

WITH a brazenness that would make even John Terry blush, George Osborne last week sought to claim the credit for the FTSE hitting a record high.

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