Recess travels

WITH both Holyrood and Westminster in recess, some of our politicians have been taking a well-earned rest. Not, however, the most senior of them.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has undertaken a highly-publicised tour of the United States in the past week, with events on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Indeed, at one event, she was introduced as “the Queen of Scots”, not something she will have appreciated.

She’ll be home for just 24 hours before heading for France to take part in the 100th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Arras. No less than 18,000 Scots were among the 159,000 Allied soldiers who died in this First World War bloodbath.

Her Westminster counterparts have been just as busy travelling the world. Prime Minister Theresa May undertook a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia. Chancellor Philip Hammond has been in India, promoting the UK as somewhere to invest, and even Scottish Secretary David Mundell has been globe-trotting, visiting Burma and Singapore to promote Scottish business, including oil and gas, whisky, and technology.

Closer to home, former Health Secretary Alex Neil made waves earlier this week by calling for a separate health tax to pay for improvements to the NHS in Scotland.

We are also, of course, now less than a month away from the local government elections in Scotland, with these set to be held on Thursday 4 May. If you haven’t already been bombarded with leaflets or had visits from aspiring candidates, don’t worry, they’ll be on your doorstep soon.

New polling out this week suggested Scottish Labour is set to suffer a “cataclysmic” defeat in Scotland, with the SNP and Scottish Conservatives poised to be the prime beneficiaries.  If polling holds and Labour’s fall from grace in Scotland continues, the party will no doubt be very carefully considering its strategy going forward, particularly with the prospect of a second independence referendum on the horizon.