Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


Scotland, “England” and the post colonial struggle for warmth and freedom between porcupines…

Thu 10 April 2014, 8:32am

Tweet Melanie McDonagh writing in London based Evening Standard thinks Michael D “…isn’t so much a foreign dignitary; more like a friendlier version of Alex Salmond”. Aha, now it would be tempting to go with the ‘well if Scotland was independent…’ line, but it’s probably better to point out that as President Michael D is […] more »

Why exactly have we got devolved administration? And what are we doing with it?

Wed 19 February 2014, 1:37pm

Tweet Robin Wilson in the BelTel today: It is not practicable for Northern Ireland, Scotland and/or Wales to elaborate distinctive welfare systems, though the Executive should at least have taken a passing interest in the profound debates which have taken place in Scotland and Wales about enhanced fiscal autonomy. And it is utterly pointless to […] more »

Silk Commission, Sammy Wilson and the DUP’s impromptu dismissal of tax varying powers…

Thu 7 November 2013, 6:08pm

Tweet Newton Emerson today usefully points at Wales and the recent work of the Silk Commission on the devolution of further powers to raise and lower taxes. It’s worth looking more closely at Wales. For a country that only just squeaked devolution (there was about 7k votes majority in favour in a voting electorate of […] more »

Should we live within our means, tax a bit more and depend less on Mother England?

Mon 8 July 2013, 11:35am

Tweet Meanwhile just as the Assembly has broken up for the summer (apart from the recall to debate Housing- gate) the Northern Ireland Council of Voluntary Associations announces that the time is right for a debate on tax raising powers and has commissioned a report from PWC. That should keep them all busy for what’s […] more »

Embarrassment over Stormont Executive’s shameful failiure to support UK wide free speech and libel reform

Wed 13 March 2013, 4:23pm

Tweet I’m obliged to Jeff Dudgeon for drawing attention to the latest failure by the Executive. It has come to light that the Stormont powers that be failed to agree on bringing Northern Ireland into line with the English Defamation Bill and so bring much needed reform to the libel laws – if the Bill isn’t […] more »

Unionists be warned. Negative campaigning against Scottish independence is not enough

Thu 14 February 2013, 12:56pm

Tweet A warning shot against unionist complacency in Scotland… Backing for independence among voters aged 18 to 24 stood at 58 per cent, according to the latest Ipsos MORI survey on voting intentions for the 2014 referendum…There were 34 per cent who supported Scotland leaving the UK, the poll of more than 1,000 people interviewed […] more »

Book launches: Everyday Life After the Irish Conflict and Belfast 400

Thu 24 January 2013, 9:00pm
Everyday Life After the Irish Conflict

Tweet Two books were launched tonight in Belfast. A reception was held at the City Hall to mark the book commissioned to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the city’s charter. I reviewed Belfast 400: People, Place and History (edited by Sean Connolly) back in December. It tells the story of the city that “emerged […] more »

Are our versions of history sundering or reconciling us?

Thu 13 December 2012, 2:43pm

Tweet Martin Kettle in the Guardian pens a lament for the ignorance of the English about their own history. The outcome, he claims is a” loss of national self respect” and the threat of a disintegrating Union. For once, the term “English” is used deliberately. It’s a long time since AJP Taylor’s superb English History […] more »

Will the Scottish independence debate ripple south of the border and across the Irish Sea?

Tue 16 October 2012, 11:04am

Tweet At last, it’s game on for the Independence Debate.  London based comment has decided that on balance David Cameron  had the best of Round One, or  the “Edinburgh Declaration, “  as  Alex Salmond  dubbed it with typical initiative-grabbing grandiosity. Salmond of course hasn’t conceded any such thing. Leaving the wording of The Question aside for later debate, […] more »

Stop pretending over welfare cuts

Wed 10 October 2012, 9:27pm

Tweet In practice because of the funding straightjacket, welfare is not devolved to Holyrood, Cardiff Bay or Stormont.  So are the objections to the new universal credit in both Holyrood and Stormont any more than political grandstanding?  Differential welfare payments make little or no sense without extensive tax raising powers. And there is no sign […] more »

Deal announced on Scottish referendum

Wed 10 October 2012, 11:10am

Tweet The deal between the UK and Scottish governments on the referendum is done and will be sealed on Monday.  The Scotland Office and the SNP government seem to have jumped the gun on Downing St by announcing  agreement on a single “yes, no question,” but with votes for 16 year olds added, if the Scottish Parliament […] more »

What was the Ulster Covenant about?

Mon 10 September 2012, 9:23am

Tweet What was the Ulster Covenant whose centenary is being commemorated on “Ulster Day” 29 September really about? 400,000 signed the Solemn League and Covenant and the Women’s Declaration in a vast demonstration of public opinion that still impresses today. The production of the largest Union Jack is history, 48’x25’was an example of PR sureness […] more »

Big News. Innovation from the Executive

Sat 31 March 2012, 9:55am

Tweet Good to see Northern Ireland featuring on the UK national news agenda with a report on the “Tesco tax.,” (Today programme 7.25, Sammy and retail consortium rep interview). Despite the national coverage, inexplicably I can’t find  news of  the 1st April vesting date for the business charge on the local BBC News website. Old news […] more »

Checks on the Scottish border Theresa? Come and look at ours?

Tue 27 March 2012, 7:18am

Tweet Apparently Theresa May thinks there will be border checks along the Scottish border… Well, yes there may be… But not since Maastricht and 1992 has there been any serious commercial disruption along the UK’s only land border… more »

Scottish referendum: ‘Devo more’ could be a unionist runner

Mon 20 February 2012, 8:13pm

Tweet   On the subject of greater powers for Holyrood, there’s something of a right wing split between the Telegraph newspapers and the darling of the Tory grass roots, blogger Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome. The Sunday Telegraph leader dealt with the subject with a knowledge of the subject that would disgrace an unpaid intern: To concede […] more »

It’s the English question now, stupid

Fri 17 February 2012, 12:58pm

Tweet The Scottish media were a PhD dissertation about chippiness all unto themselves,” reflected Mr Blair in his memoirs, the Times editorial (£) recalled. By those standards, it seems Dave’s nervous apologia for the Union in Edinburgh fitted the bill after all, presentation wise. Substance was more problematical. In the Times (£) the august Scots […] more »

The UK comprises four nations not two and its history is a lot more complicated than many seem to appreciate

Mon 30 January 2012, 3:44pm

Tweet Nice piece from David Torrence at the Steamie (H/T Phil) Is any of this important? I think it is, not only because the history of any state is important, but also because the story of the United Kingdom gave rise to much of the political terminology we still use today. For example the term […] more »

How the Scots don’t yet understand the English…

Wed 25 January 2012, 8:06am

Tweet Fascinating piece by Peter Jones in the Scotsman in which he highlights how Tory newspapers sowed a senior discontent not simply with the Scots, but with the United Kingdom: …the advent of devolution is one of the factors which appears to have contributed to this rising discontent. The fact that it has appeared some […] more »

Unionists too distanced from the future of the Union debate?

Tue 17 January 2012, 8:41am

Tweet One of the reasons I argued that making the proposed marriage between the Conservatives and the Ulster Unionists would work well for both parties was that it would shore up Cameron’s party colleague’s woeful lack of understanding of the constitution of their own country. Something at Reg Empey shows a residual grasp of: “I […] more »

Only a fool would call the Scottish independence referendum at this distance

Tue 10 January 2012, 8:02am

Tweet “Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled – Scots, wham Bruce has aften led – Welcome to your gory bed. Or to victorie!” Punditry is not an art that suits the modest. Anyone asking people to take time and trouble to read their writing, let alone expecting them to pay for the privilege, is usually […] more »

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