Welcome to Caledonia's new website which we hope you will enjoy and find more user friendly than it's various predecessors over the past ten years. Our team will be blogging regularly and all feedback welcome! To start the new Parliamentary session, we will be looking in turn at some of the challenges facing the Holyrood party leaders, beginning with SNP leader and First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
As the FM puts the finishing touches on her Programme for Government the SNP have seen no (apparent) Brexit bounce in favour of independence but a 100k SNP membership impatient for independence means that the FM has to stay focussed on a second vote despite the obvious challenges. Hence the launch of "The National Survey". Rather like the previous "National Conversation" but with more data protection pitfalls. Disappointing GERS (economy) figures due to the slump in oil prices make the economic case for independence more difficult - not helped by the FM's favourite Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz saying her 2014 currency plans 'probably' wouldn't have been workable.
Nicola is acutely aware that a sizeable number of Nationalist supporters voted leave and it is unclear whether her favoured indyref trigger of 60% of Scots would actually favour voting right now for an independent Scotland negotiating to rejoin Europe, potentially joining the Euro and leaving political union with our biggest trading partner south of Gretna. Opponents will say that the National Survey and the continued focus on independence means the FM and her Ministers haven't been concentrating on the day job.
Add to all this some worrying NHS statistics and the possibility of a teachers' strike and you might just see why all in the FM's garden is not exactly rosy. But not to worry... she's unsacked the redoubtable Mike Russell to help her with Brexit complications and she can still thank her lucky stars that she's not leading Scottish Labour. More on that next time.