A round-up of the week's politics from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
• Alex Salmond conceded that independence was not the “centre of gravity”.
• The Scottish Government appointed former Labour minister Susan Deacon to investigate children’s early years in life.
• Research suggested the extent of staff cut backs across the NHS could be worse than feared.
• Speaking of Iain Duncan-Smith’s plans to move the unemployed to places they can find work, SNP work and pensions spokeswoman, Eilidh Whiteford, concluded they were “on a tandem pedalling straight back to the ‘get on your bike’ hard-right policies of the Thatcher years”.
• Holyrood’s health committee expressed concerns over “fundamental weaknesses in NHS management.”
• John Swinney was under pressure to bring forward his next budget.
• Ed Miliband called for greater autonomy for Labour in Scotland to decide its own priorities.
• A think tank at the University of Strathclyde warned that spending cuts will cost Scotland 120,000 jobs.
• Cardiff was the centre for the Armed Forces Day celebrations.
• Labour MP for Pontypridd, Owen Smith, said that private sector “is unready and unprepared to play the role of the white knight”.
• Writing in Wales on Sunday, David Miliband said the Coalition Government “have left families in Wales and across Britain on their own”.
• Shadow Welsh secretary Peter Hain came out in favour of a graduate tax.
• On the UK Labour leadership campaign, education minister Leighton Andrews said: “Let’s see the same preparedness to argue out ideas that we had in Wales last year, rather than a rolling-out of platitudes.”
• Leading Plaid Cymru AM, Nerys Evans, vowed to fight the marginal seat of Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire South in next year’s Assembly elections.
• It was announced that the Arts Council of Wales would be withdrawing funding from 32 arts groups.
• Leighton Andrews warned that some smaller universitie in Wales might have to face closure or merge with large institutions.
• It was reported that Neath Port Talbot council was considering sacking its entire workforce.
• New polling was good news for Welsh Labour
• Unison warned that 20,000 public sector jobs could be under threat across Wales.
• Ulster Unionist Party deputy leader Danny Kennedy told an audience at Tullyhappy Orange Hall in Co Armagh: “It is time for a new politics for unionism.”
• Northern Ireland’s public service union, Nipsa, called on Northern Ireland’s MPs to vote en masse against George Osborne’s “austerity measures”.
• Finance minister Sammy Wilson pledged that decisions over cuts would not be based on party political considerations.
• Education minister, Caitriona Ruane warned that the future for new schools would be “bleak” without extra money.
• UUP MLA Basil McCrea warned that enhanced co-0peration or unity between the unionist parties would be a “strategic mistake”.
• It was reported that Northern Ireland’s housing market could take three years to recover as a warning was made that the country faces the loss of 20,000 job losses as a result of the Coalition Government’s emergency budget.
Quote of the Week
“The speed of Scotland’s slow recovery from recession is threatened by the massive fiscal consolidation package introduced by the new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government in the emergency budget.”
Professor Brian Ashcroft of the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute on the effects of George Osborne’s budget
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