I'm the research director at the think tank Reform Scotland. Prior to joining them in 2008, I was a senior account manager with PPS and also spent six years working for the Scottish Conservative MSP group, including four years as head of research. I have an MA in Economics and Politics from the University of Edinburgh and am married with two children.
While the campaign apparently wants to avoid using the word No in its title, you can’t hide from the fact that it is arguing for people to vote No in the referendum and will be referred to as the No campaign.
But this is only a minor issue. The bigger issue that campaign leaders Alistair Darling, Charles Kennedy and Annabel Goldie must face is what does No actually mean?
One of the most recent stories I spotted was with regard to direct payments and self directed care.
Direct payments are when a local authority pays money directly to the individual, or family, in need of care allowing them to directly hire their own care package to suit their needs, rather than the local authority arranging the care for them.
According to figures published, while 25 in every 10,000 people in the Borders access the payments, only 2.5 per 10,000 in North Lanarkshire do.
As a result, despite being responsible for 25 per cent of all expenditure in Scotland, our local authorities arguably have responsibility for zero per cent of tax revenue.
This is a bad situation when we have three tiers of government, but what would happen under independence, when we would only have two?
Such a reversal would generate plenty of coverage in the press, and a great deal of public debate, especially if it was implemented without any justification or explanation and largely due to the fact that MPs didn’t really think MSPs were up to the job?
A similar change is underway right now in Scotland, but because the key relationship is between Holyrood and our councils, rather than Westminster and Holyrood, it is going virtually unnoticed.
David Willetts, the UK Universities Minister, has warned that free university education is not a ‘long-term viable option’ for Scotland.
It was further reported that the Prime Minister believed that if Scotland wanted any further devolution of powers it would have to back independence.
Whilst many of us may have been against a single police force, that argument has been lost and what is important now is to ensure that it does not mean an overly centralised, unaccountable police force.
Unfortunately, the legislation as currently proposed would appear to do just that. All local responsibility and real input would appear to have been removed, with funding now coming directly from the government and the police held to account by a government-appointed quango.
While we would certainly not claim the polling was scientific (it was self selecting, though we tried to distribute awareness of it as widely as possible), it certainly generated a number of interesting findings. We have published the results in full today (December 28) and have broken down the results by party affiliation.
When asked whether "the Scottish Parliament should be responsible for raising the majority of the money it spends", an outright majority across all party affiliations agreed with this principle.
Reform Scotland hopes that a third option will be put to the people and we have set out Devo Plus as our preferred model for Scotland’s future.