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

Quiet surrender over corroboration

23 April 2014
Kenny MacAskill
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was 'decidedly consensual, if not contrite' in his announcement that the next stage of the bill to scrap corroboration in Scottish criminal cases would be delayed

In the past, there had been sound and fury. There had been finger jabbing. There had been angry accusations - and indignant counter claims. There had been one almighty row.

But, in the event, the contentious proposal to abandon the requirement for corroboration in Scottish criminal cases was quietly postponed for a year without fuss and with elaborate politeness on all sides.

To recap, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill advanced plans to abandon required corroboration as part of a wider criminal justice bill. Facing claims that this might lead to mistrials and mistaken convictions, Mr MacAskill announced that a review group under Lord Bonomy would seek safeguards to strengthen procedure.

But in the meantime, while Lord Bonomy considered reforms, the bill was to continue its Holyrood progress. The legislation was to pass. Opposition leaders - who had read their Lewis Carroll - thought this was sentence first, verdict later.

They protested long and loud, urging the minister to defer the bill until Bonomy reported. This Mr MacAskill resolutely declined to do, culminating in an exceptionally angry series of exchanges when the bill was debated in the chamber at stage one.

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Scottish independence: Influence of the undecided voter

22 April 2014
Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown's speech is calculated to have added salience for those Labour inclined voters:

Questions, questions. Who will decide the Scottish referendum? The people of Scotland.

Within that, whose vote is currently most influential? By definition, those who are undecided, those who are open to persuasion, those who might switch.

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SNP conference: Coming of age in historic vote year

12 April 2014
Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond's message to delegates was to go back and prepare for the referendum

The SNP is 80-years-old. John Swinney is rather younger but, nevertheless, today is his birthday and conference delegates sprung a surprise upon him as he prepared to speak - they sang Happy Birthday.

An abashed Mr Swinney vowed gentle revenge on the chair, Derek Mackay, who had orchestrated the ambush.

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SNP conference: Nicola Sturgeon in plea to Labour voters

11 April 2014
Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon's speech included a plea to Labour voters to say "Yes" in September's referendum

Party conferences, like everything else, have their traditions.

The financial appeal is preceded by painful jokes.

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Postcard from Brussels

7 April 2014
European Parliament building
European Parliament has a building in Brussels

All power blocs have their palaces. All palaces have their courtiers. All courtiers have their intrigue.

The European Parliament is no different. Ditto the wider European Union.

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Margo MacDonald: 'Scotland is the poorer for her passing'

4 April 2014
Margo MacDonald
Margo MacDonald's career saw her serve as an elected member at both the Scottish and UK parliaments

To drop into Margo Macdonald's Holyrood office, as I frequently did, was an experience. You might become engaged in a hugely intellectual debate about independence - or some other issue that had grabbed Margo's attention.

Alternatively, you might be assailed with the latest gossip or the future of the Hibees or, indeed, brought up to speed with her latest purchase on a shopping channel.

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Scottish independence: Contest of doubt and reassurance

29 March 2014
The Guardian front page
The Guardian story says there could be a deal to allow Scotland to use the pound

Does it matter that an unnamed minister of unknown status follows an undiscernible motivation and gives an off-the-record comment to The Guardian? Frankly, yes it does.

Remember that this is a referendum, not an election. It is not about competing policies, it is about rivalry in trust. It is, as it has been from the outset, a contest of doubt and reassurance.

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More Correspondents

  • Douglas Fraser, Business and economy editor, Scotland Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    Money and business matters from a Scottish perspective


  • 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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