As the UK Government celebrates it first 100 days in office commentators have been reflecting on what this has meant to Scotland. The main difference has been a thawing of relations between Holyrood and Westminster, with the Coalition pushing the ‘respect agenda’. This is not to say that there have not been disagreements and accusations of ‘disrespect’ along the way – Clegg’s AV referendum date comes to mind.
Today marks the one year anniversary of the Scottish Governments decision to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds. The Scottish Government is under continued pressure to release the medical evidence which ultimately led to Kenny MacAskill’s decision. Mr MacAskill, this week also announced that he would be ‘happy’ to meet with US Senators if they travelled to Scotland to discuss the reasons behind the decision.
The Scottish Governments much criticised Curriculum for Excellence was rolled out across Scotland this week. The Curriculum aims to transform Scotland’s education system by providing a more coherent, flexible and enriched curriculum for 3 to 18 year olds. The main difference will be that teachers will be given more freedom to teach fewer subjects in more depth, while asking pupils to actively seek answers for themselves. In theory pupils will spend less time being assessed and more time learning. Critics claim that the proposals are being rushed through without proper assistance being given to teachers.
Following last week’s publication of the Independent Budget Review, there are growing calls, by local authorities and MSPs alike, to end the current freeze on Council tax. With Scotland preparing to implement a series of wide ranging cuts, the policy is increasingly been seen as a luxury the country can no longer afford. While the SNP Government have confirmed their aspiration to continue this policy for a fourth year, they have so far stopped short of guaranteeing such a move.
Alex Salmond has been in Norway this week to discuss how the countries can work together in areas of common interest. Announcements have come on joint approaches towards renewable energy and fishing quotas. The First Minister also used his trip to demand the establishment of a Norwegian-style oil fund, highlighting the case for devolving control of North Sea taxation and production to the Scottish Parliament, which would potentially deliver billions of pounds of benefits to Scotland.