Scotland's No Vote lets the Genie out of the Bottle

Friday 19h September: In their blogs this week Dr Gerard Lyons and Sheila Lawlor discuss what Scotland’s ‘No’ vote means.

Devolution: that's the real result of Scotland's Referendum - not just for Scotland, but for elsewhere across the UK, says Dr Gerard Lyons.

But, first, Scotland. The final result was 55% to 45%, which was widely interpreted as a decisive victory. It was not uncommon, however, at the beginning of this year to hear people saying at lunches in The City that the big question was whether the Yes vote would reach 40% or not, as passing that threshold was then viewed as likely to keep the independence debate alive. In the event, the Yes vote breached that comfortably, yet the independence debate is now seen as dead for at least a generation. Perhaps.

That, if anything, shows how sentiment shifted during the year, and indeed in recent weeks the outcome appeared in the balance . But that was not the only thing to change. Lest we forget, when a referendum was first considered one issue was whether it should be a three way choice between yes, no or Devo Max. In the end, it seems that instead of the intended yes versus no, it was yes versus Devo Max. The offers from the party leaders of increased powers over spending and taxation clearly impacted the outcome. The question now is not only how Devo Max is delivered to Scotland but what it means for the rest of the UK as well. The devolution genie is now out of the bottle. How this impacts policy offerings ahead of the 2015 General Election remains to be seen, and whoever wins that is likely to face a very tough 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review, further complicating the spending debate. As that starts to bite it will reinforce the need to revisit the West Lothian question and the Barnett spending formula, if they have not already been addressed by then.

Safeguarding the Rule of Law - Magistrates Matter

Friday 12thSeptember: In South Africa this week, Judge Thokozile Masipa brought home to the world one of the fundamental principles of justice. There must be proof, beyond reasonable doubt, that a crime was committed by the person accused. She was judging the case of Oscar Pistorius, the South African athlete accused of killing his girlfriend behind a locked lavatory door. On Thursday, Pistorius was cleared of murder in a case that dominated the world's television screens for much of 2014.‘The state has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder,’ Masipa told the Pretoria High Court. ‘There are just not enough facts to support such a finding.’ 

Proof, beyond reasonable doubt, is fundamental to a fair trial. They complement the rights to liberty, to access to justice and to a fair trial before an independent court, including equality before the law, says Stanley Brodie QC who has contributed, along with Simon Reevell MP and John Howson to Politeia's new publication Magistrates Work! Restoring Local Justice. Nor, says Mr Brodie, should justice be delayed. Yet in this country such rights are now being undermined due to the short-sightedness of the wrong kind of officialdom. In this extract from the publication, Stanley Brodie writes:

In the anniversary of Magna Carta, we would do well to remember, Magna Carta provides that justice will be neither delayed nor denied. Hence the well-known aphorism: justice delayed is justice denied. In England such rights are now being threatened as access to justice has been undermined by the closure of magistrates’ courts. 

Changing the European Economic Model?

Friday 5th September: The political dynamic is moving on both sides of the channel, says Politeia’s director, Sheila Lawlor.

Politicians returned to Westminster for a brief interlude before their party conferences. They found that events have moved on.  The Eurozone had a bad August. Initial estimates in mid August suggested poor economic growth in the second quarter of 2014. Today’s Eurostat figures confirm the gloomy picture of zero percent Eurozone growth, with German growth declining by 0.2 percent and the French economy in stagnation. There the high tax and spend policies of Francois Hollande’s socialist regime have crippled enterprise, led to high unemployment and brought the world’s fifth largest economy to its knees.

The UK and Europe: A Win-Win Situation

Wednesday 6th August: As London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, endorses Dr Gerard Lyons's report on the path ahead in the UK-EU debate, here, for Politeia's summer blog, Dr Lyons explains the steps needed for Britain's successful economic future.

The world economy is changing dramatically and looks set to grow strongly in coming decades, as I outline in my new book 'The Consolations of Economics'. London, the UK and Europe need to ensure they position themselves in this changing and growing global economy. Cites, countries, companies and citizens need to play to their strengths, adapt and change and embrace this new globality. It is within this context that the issue of the UK and the European Union needs to be addressed.

London Works - Sheila Lawlor, Politeia's Director, comments on Gerard Lyons’s Politeia blog

London Works, says Sheila Lawlor, Politeia's Director, commenting on Gerard Lyons’s summer blog for Politeia.

London in August – and every month – is a working city. Boris Johnson intends to keep it so. In his speech today he endorsed his chief economic advisor Gerard Lyons’s plan to enhance London’s pole position nationally and globally; and he also indicated his wish to return to the Commons for the next election.

London, the UK and Europe, says Lyons ‘need to ensure they position themselves in this changing and growing global economy’. Europe must reform or Britain should leave the EU, a message endorsed by the Mayor who added that a future ‘in’ a reformed Europe would be best, but if the EU is unwilling to change, a free trade relationship would secure London’s prosperity and its vast trading network globally as well as in the EU. There are four areas for reform within the EU, and if these are not secured, Britain can do extremely well in a new relationship, in a ‘win-win’ future.

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