Claudia Beamish on Devo Nano


My bad, I just discovered I got a reply from one of my Labour MSP’s after telling Write to them that none of them got back to me.  Will actually thank Claudia on Twitter and apologise.  Anyway, seems Claudia is in the group of Labour MSP’s that believe Labour proposals do include lowering as well as raising Income Tax.  To quote :·         “The Scottish Parliament could, using the powers of the Scotland Act 2012, and our extension to their scope, choose to lower income tax, below the UK level, across all income tax bands.”

Here’s her full reply too.


Dear Angela Miller,


Thank you for your interest in Labour’s proposals to further extend and enhance devolution for Scotland within the United Kingdom.


The Labour Party is the Party of devolution. Our founder, Keir Hardie, promoted Home Rule in the early 1900s, we participated in the Constitutional Convention in the 1980s and in 1999 we delivered a Scottish Parliament. In 2012, we extended these powers further when we supported the Scotland Act. And in 2016, as a result of these changes, the biggest transfer of fiscal powers since the Act of Union will take place.


In spring 2012, Johann Lamont established a Devolution Commission to examine what could be done to strengthen devolution further. Following two years of deliberations and a yearlong public consultation, we published our proposals on 18th March. The final report of the Commission was endorsed unanimously by Scottish Labour Party Conference on 21st March.


Our starting principle is that we believe in a society in which resources are pooled and shared  across the whole country, and in which those with the broadest shoulders and greatest resources contribute most to the support of those in need.


Our report is wide-ranging and includes a number of recommendations, including:


  • Further devolution of income tax, discussed in more detail below.
  • Devolution of housing benefit and attendance allowance, to align more closely the provision of benefits in an area closely related to devolved services.
  • Devolution of the work programme to Scottish local authorities to better meet the needs of local labour markets.


The report of the commission is extensive and also includes proposals to increase the powers available to our island communities, to improve local democratic accountability and to establish better enforcement mechanisms for health and safety in Scotland, including the establishment of a Scottish Health and Safety executive.


On income tax, we believe that the changes made by the Scotland Act 2012 are significant, but there is scope to go further.


  • Labour would therefore give the Scottish Parliament the power to raise around £2 billion more in revenues beyond the recent Scotland Act.
  • We will do this by widening the variation in income tax in the Scotland Act by half from 10p up to 15p.
  • This will mean that three-quarters of basic rate income tax in Scotland will be under the control of the Scottish Parliament.
  • The Scottish Parliament could, using the powers of the Scotland Act 2012, and our extension to their scope, choose to lower income tax, below the UK level, across all income tax bands.
  • Equally, it would be possible to use the same power to increase tax, above the UK level, across all bands.
  • Alternatively, if the Scottish Parliament wished to exercise greater flexibility between bands, Labour’s proposals mean that it would be empowered to do so by applying Scottish Progressive Rates of Income Tax to increase either the higher or additional rates of tax.


Labour’s proposals for further tax powers are designed to enhance fiscal accountability and flexibility at a Scottish level, while preventing destructive income tax competition between Scotland and the rest of the UK.


Labour’s policy is that fair taxation for the highest earners would be achieved by setting the additional rate at 50p.


Thank you for your interest in the final report of our devolution commission. If you require any more detail on our income tax policy, this can be found on page 148 – 151 of the report. If you wish to read the full report, it can be found on the Scottish Labour website at


Yours sincerely,


Claudia Beamish


Claudia Beamish MSP

Member of the Scottish Parliament for South Scotland
Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change


Tel: 0131 348 6889  |  Email:


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Scots Women of History. 1 – Gruoch, Queen Of Scots aka Lady Macbeth



If I were to ask you who Lady Macbeth was, I don’t imagine it would take you very long to answer. She was the wife of MacBeth, you’d say. You’d name her a murderess, no doubt, tell me of plots and regicide. Perhaps you would even recite her most famous lines :


But if I were to ask you who Gruoch ingen Boite was, the chances are you would tell me you have no idea. They were, in fact, one and the same person. Approximately.
After King James VI became King of England in 1603, Shakespeare penned the play MacBeth in his honour, basing many of it’s characters on historical figures, including that of Lady MacBeth. Yet, in the name of theatrical entertainment, his play was more embellishment than fact, throwing in witchcraft, spurious ancestors and even a completely different fate for both the titular Lord and Lady.
In truth MacBeth and his wife, Gruoch certainly led lives both less scandalous and possibly more interesting than their fictionalised counterparts.  Gruoch was Queen of Scots in her own right alongside her King, and together they reigned for 17 long and largely peaceful years (1040 – 1057 AD), respective to their tumultuous times.
A  great grand-daughter of King Kenneth III, she was first married to Gille Coemgáin mac Maíl Brigti, the Earl of Moray.  With him she had the only child of hers that history remembers, Lulach, who later became King of Scots after MacBeth’s death.
It was indeed a very turbulent time in Scottish History, and Gruoch’s first husband  is said to have killed MacBeth’s father. MacBeth took his revenge, serving it cold a dozen years after his father’s death, having Gille Coemegáin killed with 50 of his men.
It may not have been the best bedrock on which build a successful marriage, but in reality Gruoch outlived her husband and wielded power and influence alongside him as Queen. In the only document that survives baring her name,  she gave land to the Culdees, an aesthetic order of monks. Their reign together was peaceful enough for Macbeth to undertake a pilgrimage to Rome, and it was rich enough that he “scattered silver like seeds” to the poor.
Gruoch outlived her husband, although the date of her death remains unknown.
Only fragments remain of Queen Gruoch’s life, but those fragments hint at a woman of some strength of character who thrived in a difficult world. It also seems her reign was peaceful and prosperous, belying the image of a poor, frigid northern kingdom with little to offer history that we have been led to believe . Shakespeare’s account of her life has usurped an important female figure from Scotland’s history. This is why I have begun this little series with her rather than other, better known figures.
It is said that women are less engaged than men in our constitutional debate. I’ve heard it said, even, that the “Braveheart” nature of Scottish Nationalism dissuades women from engaging, as if Scottish History were somehow the province of men alone. I hope that you can see in Gruoch’s story the glimmers of truth that this is not the case. Over these last months of the Referendum campaign I hope to outline the lives of many other fascinating and compelling women in Scottish History, from Isabel of Mar, through Flora MacDonald to Kay Matheson, as well as many others, just to highlight how much women have shaped our Nation in the past.

Written with many thanks to David R Ross and his book, Women of Scotland.


Sovereignty Word Cloud

Sovereignty Word Cloud

Line breaks: sov|er|eign¦ty
NOUN (plural sovereignties)
1. Supreme power or authority
Oxford English Dictionary


”Yet if he should give up what he has begun, seeking to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own right and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be subjected to the lordship of the English.  It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”
Declaration of Arbroath


”Parliament means, in the mouth of a lawyer (though the word has often a different sense in conversation) The King, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons: these three bodies acting together may be aptly described as the “King in Parliament”, and constitute Parliament. The principle of Parliamentary sovereignty mean neither more nor less than this, namely that Parliament thus defined has, under the English constitution, the right to make or unmake any law whatever: and, further, that no person or body is recognised by the law of England as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament.”
A.V. Dicey Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution (1885)


This referendum is not about the SNP. This referendum is not about the Tories. This referendum is not about Labour, Lib-dems, Greens, Ukip or any other colour of rosette you can imagine. This referendum is not about “the economics of Independence”, it’s not about being in or out of the EU, it’s not about the pound. It’s not even about welfare, the NHS or Poverty. This referendum is about sovereignty. Specifically, it is about the Sovereignty of the Scottish People versus the Sovereignty of Westminster.
In 1707, a treaty was signed between the Scots and English Parliaments declaring a union between the two nations and making Westminster the parliament of this union.  Westminster was then, and still is, a sovereign parliament. Thus a tension was created in the union between the sovereign people of Scotland and the parliament of Westminster. The Articles of Union were burned in Dumfries, Glasgow and Lanark. Uprisings took place which Westminster crushed ruthlessly by the hand of Lord General Wade. Slowly, over time, and with the growing distraction of Empire, we Scots forgot our Sovereign power. Through the revolutions in America, France, Ireland and latterly the increasingly fractious corners of the Empire, we remained comfortable not exercising our power.  The growing democratic franchise kept us content as the UK followed along with the global trend, and we found expression for our sovereignty in the Socialist Movement of the late 19th and 20th centuries. Yet the continuing use of the First Past the Post electoral system, coupled with the anachronistic House of Lords (both pre- and post reform) undermines the Westminster democracy.
Then, of course, there has been the increasing political divergence between Scotland and England. This would not be as much of a problem if Scots voters weren’t outnumbered by approximately 10:1. Since the highwater mark of British Socialism, the Labour party have become increasingly concerned with garnering the votes of the heavily populated South East of England, pushing their policies incrementally to the right, therefore eroding the Socialist consensus outside and inside the Labour Party. There have been attempts to save Socialism in Scotland, but the FPTP system breeds a culture of apathy in voters who continually see their voices outvoted by the diehard Labour vote that believes so strongly in the past of the party that they seem unable to see it’s present condition. Within the ranks of the party itself a culture of arrogance and entitlement, as dwindling voter engagement has created an easy road into a lucrative job for those prepared to toe the line and parrot party policy. Because of this, the sovereign power of the Scottish People has become stifled within the Union, and made the referendum a necessary step for us to take.
This referendum isn’t about politicians of any stripe telling us what they are going to make happen, it’s about us taking up our sovereign power to decide what is going to happen for ourselves. Westminster as a sovereign parliament has no conception of power other than it’s own, so it is speaking with ever increasing noise and fury into a vacuum. It can’t even begin to speak to our aspirations. The Treaty of Union purported to pass Scottish sovereignty to Westminster, but in the context of the Declaration of Arbroath, as quoted above, this only happens for as long as we consent to it. Power in Scotland belongs to us, it rests with us and we are waking up to find it lying in our hands. This has always been at the route of Scottish nationalism, which is not a mindlessly patriotic nationalism, but one with an implicit egalitarianism borne of our shared sovereignty. Being Scottish does not mean we are better than anyone else, but it does mean that no-one, not even Westminster, is better than us. We are Scotland. We are Sovereign.