British & Scottish Politics

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The recent announcement of an agreement between central government and Cornwall Council to allow for more local control over service delivery is a welcome step in the direction of decentralisation but, says Joanie Willett, it falls well short of meaningful devolution.
 
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The influence of the SNP at Westminster is yet to be truly measured, says Nicola McEwen, but the Scotland Bill may demonstrate that real change is achieved behind the scenes. 
 
It was 27 years ago when the Jim Sillars, flush from winning the Govan by-election for the SNP, taunted Scottish Labour MPs for being the ‘feeble fifty’, unable to defend Scotland against the excesses of Thatcherism. As the Westminster parliament begins its summer recess, we can reflect on what, if anything, the 56 SNP MPs have been able to achieve.  
 
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The growing debate over English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) has so far focused on the difficulties facing the government as it seeks to design and implement a complicated, and potentially incendiary, set of changes to the procedures of the Commons. Faced by a united front from the opposition parties at Westminster, as well as disquiet from within its own ranks, Chris Grayling has been forced into delays both on the vote to change Standing Orders and, as many have portrayed it, the related issue of fox hunting.
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The Chancellor has used the Budget to limit the Scottish Government's room for manoeuvre, say David Bell, particularly through changes to Corporation Tax and the National Minimum Wage.
 
Once again, George Osborne has proved himself to be a clever politician.
 
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Income inequality in Scotland (and the UK) was low and stable throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The 1980s saw a significant increase in inequality, driven by a variety of factors. Deindustrialisation and technological change caused a fall in demand for many middle and lower-skilled occupations, and this combined with an erosion of trade union power and labour market deregulation led to a relative decline in wages at the lower end of the distribution. Financial deregulation and a reduction in top rates of income tax contributed to a rise in salaries at the upper end.
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Constitutional discussions frequently obscure wider policy debates in Scotland, says Paul Cairney. His current research demonstrates that, as well as being obscured by constitutional clashes, issues of inequality are frequently treated with flashy quick fixes at the expense of long-term results. 
 
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The new government has thrown open the European questions but, asks Michael Keating, what - if any - answers might prove satisfactory?

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