Scotland

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The recent GERS figures for Scotland’s fiscal balance in 2014-15 were entirely predictable. For the first two quarters of that financial year, oil prices averaged around $100 per barrel. Revenues from North Sea oil were flowing strongly. During the next two quarters, the oil price averaged around $50 per barrel and revenues stalled.
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Twenty five years ago, the historian Eric Hobsbawm announced the end of nations and nationalism. Like the Owl of Minerva, they appeared in view only as they flew into the twilight. In 2015, however, nationalism looks very much alive, with restive movements even in established states like the United Kingdom, Belgium and Spain. This might seem at odds with the movement to European unity but in practice the two are linked.
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In his response to the Scotland Bill, Richard Parry examines the shift in Conservative party strategy from drawing a line into the sand on devolution to advocating the further transfer of tax and benefits powers. This, according to Richard, is an attempt to open up new areas for competition and situate the party as a bourgeois, pro-business alternative to Labour and Nationalists in Scotland and Wales.

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Some time in the next two years, Scots will face another referendum, on whether the United Kingdom should remain in the European Union. This issue has become deeply entangled with the question of Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom. Last year’s referendum was about independence-in-Europe and since the 1980s the EU has provided a vital external support system for proposals for Scottish independence. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has suggested that a UK withdrawal from the EU (Brexit) should require the consent of all four home nations.
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