Who’d have thought that a reality TV programme would have dominated this week’s political news…
There was consternation on the Labour benches as former leader – and still serving MSP – Kezia Dugdale joined the jungle team in Australia in ITV’s ‘I’m a Celebrity” (etc) reality programme. Criticism came mainly from her own side with new leader Richard Leonard (whose election was correctly predicted in last week’s Insider) quick to attack what he saw as a ridiculous move.
The rumour mill keeps spinning that Ms Dugdale will soon resign from Holyrood, but by Wednesday night ‘Team Kez’ confounded party critics with a video statement saying: “The minute that I leave Australia I’ll be coming back to the Scottish Parliament to do my job as Labour MSP for Edinburgh and the Lothians, and I’m committed to doing that for the long-term and I hope to stand at the next election again as well.”
Following the last legal hurdle, the Scottish Government was finally able to announce details of its flagship policy of Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol this week. This means that Scotland will introduce minimum pricing on 1 May next year. The move will see a rise in the cost of the strongest ‘value’ alcohol by setting a minimum price per unit. Health Secretary Shona Robison told MSPs that she expected the price to be set at 50p-per-unit, but this will be subject to an eight-week consultation. She said the measure was needed to tackle the “devastation” caused by cheap, high-strength alcohol. Details: MUP details
There was quite a bit of economic news this week, what with the UK Budget (BBC summary here: 2017 Budget summary) and a new report from PwC which said Scotland is facing a slight fall in growth next year but is expected to avoid recession. Their latest UK Economic Outlook projects that growth will slip back in Scotland from 1.3% this year to 1.2% in 2018. UK growth is forecast to slow from about 1.5% to 1.4%. According to PwC, all parts of the UK are likely to see “some moderation in growth” in 2017-18.
The Scottish Government was not impressed with the Chancellor’s pledge of extra funding for Holyrood, dismissing it as a “con”. Philip Hammond said it would “mean £2bn more for the Scottish Government”, but Scotland’s Finance Secretary said Holyrood had been “short-changed”, and that funds for day to day spending would actually fall.
Closer to Holyrood, five pilot Local Export Partnerships (LEPs) are being launched by the Scottish Government and Chambers of Commerce to increase the number of firms exporting their products and services. The partnerships will offer support and expertise to companies, particularly SMEs, with little or no previous exporting experience and help them enter international markets.
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