With Lord McConnell, Chris Deerin and that Reporting Scotland ‘mum’, this tank does not think

In the Herald today, by Tom Gordon:

The ‘think-tank’ in question, presented as independent, is headed up by former Labour leader, Lord Jack MacConnell, regular media critic of the SNP and Scottish Government, journalist Chris Deerin and, as research director, by Alison Payne. There are no credible researchers at that level nor on the wider team.

We were here in February 2022 when I wrote:


Reform Scotland, like most right-wing, unionist, so-called think tanks is keen to project itself as somehow independent or non-partisan. Any social science student will tell you there’s no such thing but Reform Scotland is an easier target than that.

It’s director is Chris Deerin, a New Statesman writer, Blairite and regular critic of anything the SNP does. Just Google his name and SNP and you’ll see just how non-partisan he isn’t.

Its research director is Alison Payne. That name ring a bell? It should.

In recent years, popping up as just a ‘mum’, unattributed, on Reporting Scotland, GMS and Kay Adams to moan about SNP school policies, Payne began her career within the Scottish Conservative MSPs’ Research Unit, going on to spend four years as Head of Research. She later went on to become Political Adviser to Annabel Goldie MSP, Leader of the Scottish Conservative Group of MSPs. This role included acting as adviser to the Scottish Conservative Policy Advisory Group. She also spent 10 years as a Girl Guide leader, prior to the birth of her second child in 2010.

And, how did she become a Research Director with no evidence of research training – PhD, MRes, even an honours degree with a dissertation? Girl Guide connections?


6 thoughts on “With Lord McConnell, Chris Deerin and that Reporting Scotland ‘mum’, this tank does not think

  1. It’s good to know that neutral Think Tanks like Reform Scotland are working hard to better Scotland .
    I mean look at all the ”reforms” for the betterment of the Scottish People they have promoted , such as ……. and …eh…not forgetting ….um …

    Money well spent !

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Aye, and Tom Gordon supplying the amplification as “honest” journalist 🙄.

    From first hearing Iain Drunken-Smith pontificate about the findings of an “independent” ‘think-tank’ report in Westminster, my view of such organisations has remained one of scepticism.
    – “Think tanks” are nearly always vehicles of politics, the veneer of “impartiality” peels away once you scratch the surface – eg You will never hear “Gordon Brown’s” tacked onto “Our Scottish Future” in the media lest the illusion is revealed, it’s always “think-tank”.
    – The illusion is further maintained what appears to be a cosy arrangement that neither side criticises the other’s “think-tank” for political bias.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Any man who returned money to the London treasury because he couldn’t think of anything to spend it on has no place in advising on future economic prospects for Scotland.
    Just another propaganda outlet for the London government.
    Unfortunately,there will be some Scots dumb enough to fall for it.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Presumably this right-wing “Think Tank” does the “thinking” for BBC Scotland. One reason the BBC should play no part in Indyref2.–

    Here is Glen……………………………
    “Our debate panel tonight is, three British patriots in the studio, and a “separatist Nat” in St Kilda—oops, the line just went down. Never mind, no great loss–Dame Ruthie and Lord Baron Ffoulksakia– why would independence lead to the end of civilization”?

    As the great George Carlin almost said:-

    “Think how stupid the average Brit Nat is, and realise half of them are even stupider than that”.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Apologies for commenting here without reading the full Reform Scotland (RF) report. I have read the summary with Chris Deerin’s related comments on the RF’s website. Candidly, I’m surprised at the negativity of reactions being expressed here.

    My take is that the report focuses on: (i) Scotland’s demographic challenge – is that at all controversial?; (ii) need for higher tax revenue – let’s frame that as higher public spending for better public services and a better social security system; (iii) need for tax reform – arguing for wholesale, root and branch reform of Scotland’s tax system.

    The implications here for agency – who decides – and thus inevitably constitutional issues are profound.

    First on the ‘demographic challenge’: in a country having to accept unwanted removal of freedom of movement in the EU/EEA; with no control over immigration; and with severely limited fiscal and zero monetary powers, this ‘challenge’ is too important to be addressed – cannot be properly addressed – by a hogtied legislature in Edinburgh.

    On higher tax revenue: as the RF summary implies, this can be achieved in different ways – including broadening the tax base. It doesn’t need to mean higher personal taxes on individuals. And of course deciding on the optimum level of tax revenue for Scotland in particular social, economic and environmental circumstances pertaining at different times requires a government with access to all necessary ‘system’ levers.

    On tax reform: the RF summary states this: ‘ “In short, Scotland needs to start again. It needs a new and fairer tax system, focused more on immobile tax bases such as wealth and less on mobile ones such as employment income. This new system needs to be used to drive sensible and sustainable increases in overall tax revenue to cope with the challenges of the rest of the 21st century.”

    Thinking this could be achieved whilst within the Union is … delusional!

    In his own comments Chris Deerin writes: ‘“it’s very difficult to see how Scotland can meet its future commitments – whatever its constitutional status – without looking afresh at the tax system, at who and what we tax, and at what the right balance should be.’

    Within the UK, ‘Scotland’ might ‘look afresh’ but ‘looking’ doesn’t magically deliver the powers to change anything!

    He adds: “Redesigning the tax system is a major task, and a delicate one, but THE SYSTEM WE HAVE IN THE UK IS CLEARLY NO LONGER FIT FOR PURPOSE, and serves only to limit smart thinking. As in so much else, political vision and courage are what the nation needs in this period of change.’ (my emphasis)

    The system ‘we have’ – viz. the system ‘Scotland has’ – WITHIN the UK is no longer fit for purpose? I’d suggest ‘wow’ is a reasonable (preliminary) reaction at this time!

    Finally Deerin writes (hopefully): “We trust policymakers will find this contribution to the debate a useful, innovative and inspiring one.”

    In this he may be disappointed given what must have been THE ALMOST INSTANTANEOUS REACTION OF THE SCOTTISH TORIES’ MURDO FRASER on Twitter:

    Murdo Fraser @murdo_fraser
    “Given that Scotland is already the highest-taxed part of the UK, the assumption here that we need even more taxes is a terrifying one. It would simply lead to massive capital flight south of the Border.”

    Leaving aside his spurious claim, did Fraser not even read to the end of the press release never mind the whole report?

    Reform Scotland vs. Stasis Scotland forever?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The names say it all. Just look at the unearned, unelected titles. Wasting Scottish monies like there is no tomorrow. Lining their pockets. The
    corruption Westminster. Reform Westminster or get away from it. No one believes it.


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