Brian Taylor, Political editor, Scotland

Brian Taylor Political editor, Scotland

This is where you can find my take on what's happening in the world of Scottish politics

A historic setting for a modern offer

18 August 2014
Arbroath Abbey

A sense of history. Over the weekend, I took the chance to see the magnificent James Plays at the Edinburgh Festival. The performances thoroughly merited the standing ovation offered by the enthused audience.

(If you will forgive me, I will excise from my memory, both recent and historic, another contest which took place in the east end of Glasgow over the weekend. I prefer to dwell on events at Pittodrie and Tannadice. Much more germane.)

From the outstanding narratives of Jamies One to Three, my historical focus switched to Arbroath today where the First Minister was renewing his acquaintance with the 1320 Declaration of popular sovereignty and independence from England. In modern context, Mr Salmond favours both.

In Scotland's wider story and the Nationalists' narrative, there is no icon more enduring than Arbroath Abbey. But, if the setting was historic, the accompanying political offer was modern.

'Declaration of Opportunity'

Mr Salmond said his proposal amounted to a Declaration of Opportunity - to preserve the NHS from privatisation, to build a fairer society and to enable young people to stay in Scotland and to work here. In a speech tonight, he argues that the greatest argument for independence is the relatively low population growth in Scotland in the last century: much of it under devolution.

Declaration of Arbroath
The Declaration of Arbroath was signed in 1320

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The Carney conundrum

14 August 2014
Bank of England HQ
Mark Carney revealed on Wednesday that the Bank of England had made contingency plans ahead of the independence referendum

Horatio Townshend would, I suspect, have been horrified. Raising an elegant eyebrow, I reckon he would have demurred gently. Ditto Stamp Brooksbank. Although one could never be sure about Joseph Nutt.

Mostly, these former Governors of the Bank of England would, I feel, have preferred relative anonymity. A quiet word in carefully selected ears would have been the approach. Perhaps over drinks at the club.

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The dominant issue is back

12 August 2014
Govan shipyard

Jobs and the economy re-emerged today as the dominant issue on the referendum campaign - or, to be precise, that portion of the campaign tracked by the wicked media.

In truth, of course, it never went away.

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'Anxiety mingled with hope'

11 August 2014
Food bank

At the Maryhill Food Bank in Glasgow, they are used to planning ahead. On the wall of their limited space in an industrial estate is a notice, setting out intent.

It advises customers, volunteers and visitors that it will soon be time to think about gathering toys to distribute to needy kids at Christmas.

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Alex Salmond turns to Zsa Zsa Gabor

6 August 2014
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Zsa Zsa Gabor was the first minister's guru of choice

How to sum up the televised encounter? Today, away from the eager vacuity of spin, Alex Salmond turned to a great icon of the 20th century for inspiration.

Gandhi perhaps? JFK? Nelson Mandela? Not quite.

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Referendum debates: 'Bring it on'

5 August 2014
Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond will debate on STV at 20:00 on Tuesday
Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond will debate on STV at 20:00 on Tuesday

And so Jack McConnell got his way after all. There was, in practice, a truce during the Commonwealth Games - at least in terms of high-profile conflict via the media.

If you remember, the former First Minister drew mild contumely when he first suggested that the two campaigns might give it a rest and concede the field to those who run, jump, swim, box and otherwise compete athletically.

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A congregation of the great and the powerful

4 August 2014
Poppies outside Glasgow Cathedral

A grand setting. Glasgow Cathedral, few grander. A congregation of the great and the powerful. Royal, military, diplomatic, political - from Scotland, from the UK, from the Commonwealth.

And yet it was the voice of a single Scottish schoolgirl which resonated most powerfully in a service designed to commemorate World War I.

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Three momentous events

15 July 2014
Jean-Claude Juncker
The European Parliament has approved Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission president

Three events: each significant, each with a longer term impact.

Of the three, the greatest significance may ultimately lie not with the new and unexpected but with the development which was forecast and scheduled.

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Things are 'hotting up'

8 July 2014
Money
The Better Together and the Yes Campaigns have been logging their donations with the Electoral Commission

The ground is familiar. The accusations, in outline, have been heard before. But the latest dispute over donations in the referendum is perhaps running at a slightly higher temperature.

The basics first. In terms of big donations (£7,500+), Better Together outran Yes Scotland in the period from December to June. The sums? £2.4m for the pro Union campaign as against £1.1m for the pro independence side.

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  • Nick Robinson, Political editor Nick Robinson Political editor

    The latest on what’s going on in and around politics


  • David Cornock, Parliamentary correspondent, Wales David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

    Welsh view of Westminster, the personalities and Parliament


About Brian

Brian has been a journalist for ever, well, since 1977.

He covers politics in all of its guises - UK, European but mostly Scottish.

Before joining the BBC he spent six years as a lobby correspondent at Westminster.

He has lectured on politics and identity across Europe and the USA and has written two books - and co-written a handful of others.

At St Andrews University, he studied literature.

He is a proud, patriotic Dundonian and fanatical supporter of Dundee United Football Club, losing no opportunity to trumpet their many glories.

He is married with two sons.

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