Books

Review | ‘The Broken Journey: A Life of Scotland 1976-99’ by Kenneth Roy

02/05/2017 Alastair Stewart

That’s extremely important given today’s politics. So much of Scotland’s past is used as a resource to fuel arguments, on both sides, of the constitutional debate that it’s rare to find a rhizomatic reading of history concerned with how well the system worked. How the Scottish justice, health, education systems operated with and through the Scotland Office; its ministers and its instruments and scope of its power in Scotland make for a fascinating read and serves an accessible index of political parties and policies still asking for your vote today. (Read More)

Politics & Society

Hugh Andrew | The joy of democracy

26/04/2017 Hugh Andrew

“All the endless consultation about what the people want has neither settled anything nor tracked any clear path. Indeed, the government has largely halted in the last few years in the ceaseless build up or wind down from one vote to the next. The Scottish Parliament has no legislation before it and – before the Prime Minister’s announcement – the sole topic of interest seemed to be another referendum.” (Read More)

Africa

The distorted manifestation of an ‘instant’ man-made famine: how the current crisis in South Sudan was no surprise

26/04/2017 Priya Surendra

“Famine in South Sudan is not rare. Poor governance and instability quickly turn drought into a humanitarian crisis. The political and economic situation amongst the population of South Sudan has been disastrous even before the country gained independence in 2011. The Christian population of South Sudan comprises mostly black Africans, while Northern Sudan is predominantly Arab and Muslim. The political, religious, economic and social asymmetries in favour of the north, as well as racial tensions, have widened this divide between the two countries.” (Read More)

Art, Design & Photography

Donald Trump and Theresa May’s ‘special relationship’ has been turned into NSFW street art

24/04/2017 Alastair Stewart

“Young people have never even more isolated, and some are lashing out. Street art represents an immutable reaction against a political class that doesn’t want to listen, a voting system that is flawed and a society that feels angrier than ever in a generation. It is no coincidence that these montages are so often graphic in their depiction and so publicly displayed.”
(Read More)

Politics & Society

Trump’s obvious historical strategy

19/04/2017 Alastair Stewart

“The result is genuine fear rooted in a powerful unknown president. And it is fear which is the most useful tool in the arsenal of any leader who wishes to make a lasting change. Machiavelli argued that sometimes it is “a very wise thing to simulate madness.” In this, Trump is unrivalled at stoking bewilderment and panic with no resource able to extrapolate his next move.”
(Read More)

Europe

May is right to hold a general election

19/04/2017 Alastair Stewart

“May has eight weeks to win an election, but even less time to put together a manifesto package that is comprehensive and unequivocal on Brexit. There have been no signs to date that the UK Government has an overarching negotiating position or even an agreed understanding of what needs to be agreed upon with the EU.” (Read More)

Books

Why Tam Dalyell is the passing of the Old Guard

03/04/2017 Alastair Stewart

“Dalyell’s final title is fascinating in that not only was he was an eyewitness to events, but a participant over the last five decades. It’s a genuine a breath of fresh air because he writes with a decency to candidly admit the highs and lows of his contribution, successes and failures and all. Every sentence brims with a sense of history that contains the wisdom of a participant who isn’t trying to rewrite his role to suit the turnout.” (Read More)

Photograph: 'First Minister Nicola Sturgeon' / Ninian Reid
Europe

Why Scotland is good for Brexit

30/03/2017 Alastair Stewart

“Even if one acknowledges that Scotland voted ‘No’ to independence in 2014, and even if it’s conceded therefore that Scotland is a collection of constituencies and not an individual nation in UK general elections, it is impossible to deny that the reality of Brexit will affect every devolved sphere of Scottish society.” (Read More)

Politics & Society

History and hope over terror and tyranny

23/03/2017 Alastair Stewart

“The irony of any attack on London is that it’s a special kind of museum for centuries-old hatreds which have transformed into a successful, multicultural peace. It is not perfect, and if it’s not always a simpatico example of multiculturalism then it’s certainly a melting pot of hatreds that have been confined to the past.” (Read More)

Politics & Society

The Labour Party: Goodbye working class?

22/03/2017 Oliver Murphy

“The Labour Party recently has been plagued with a myriad of controversial events. Front-bench resignations, shadow-cabinet reshuffles and reports of bullying have engulfed the normal day-to-day operation of the party to such an extent, that its effectiveness as an opposition and prospective government has come into question. In light of this, you would be right to think that matters couldn’t get worse. But they have, with two recent by-elections in Copeland and Stoke central bearing this out. ” (Read More)

Politics & Society

Hugh Andrew | In the Kingdom of Allemonde

22/03/2017 Hugh Andrew

“There seem to me many Golaud’s in Scotland today. Their shrill and loud voices speak of their own desire to silence the still small voices of doubt inside them. And many of these Golauds speak too on the Unionist side of the argument. In the stentorian shouting match about the ‘answer’, people have forgotten what the true ‘question’ is. Nor it is it, of course, one ‘question’ but many (and many in each of us) which feed into a sterile and binary divide. And that question is at the deepest level about who we are.” (Read More)

Food and Drink

Why I hate vegans

22/03/2017 Daniel Hewett

“Taxidermy is soon to be found only upon the walls of edgy right-wing night-clubs. Veganism is on the ascent and has quickly become an echo-chamber of sanctimony and righteous indignation. Quinoa and tofu; pine nuts and avocado: these are the altars at which the vegan worships, and the vegan worships loudly.” (Read More)

Politics & Society

Unionists should welcome Indy2

22/03/2017 Daniel Hewett

“Are we deceiving ourselves into thinking independence will grant our extensive wish list? Of course not, but as things stand we are getting very little. Scotland should be the author of its fate even if the road is wrought with difficulty.” (Read More)

Europe

From conflict to peace: Remembering Martin McGuinness

21/03/2017 Oliver Murphy

“What is easy to do, and perhaps too easily so, is to allow for the visceral reaction to turn into a reignition of past difficulties. If there is to be one rallying call today, it’s that peace, first and foremost, be celebrated and protected. That is a legacy, for all people and all sides, to hold onto and belongs to more than just one man. ” (Read More)

Politics & Society

Should the over-60s be banned from referenda?

20/03/2017 Alastair Stewart

“The moral, practical and political appetite to restrict universal suffrage makes a change unlikely, even though society already curtails rights based on age. Declining ability and the diminishment of mental faculties in elderly people have prompted regular calls for mandatory driving tests for the over 70s. Qualification for jury service stops at 65 and previous eligibility for conscription during the Second World War was capped at 51. Should these restrictions, in light of the referendum, be expanded to include voting rights and if so, how?” (Read More)

Photograph: 'Michael Heseltine' / By Julian Mason
Europe

The old men in grey suits should be listened to

14/03/2017 Alastair Stewart

“A peculiar thing happens to politicians of a particular age at the end of their careers. When they’re done with government or opposition, they’re shuffled off to the House of Lords where they either languish gracefully or take to the television circuit to gently voice their view or to share their experience. The animosity, whatever it might be against them, ends and they become that most pervasively undefined of creatures, the respected ‘statesman’.” (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

Political rhetoric isn’t at an all time low, it’s changed forever

13/03/2017 Alastair Stewart

“There are innate, widely shared moral standards in our society about what is acceptable and unacceptable in public life. Much of it is common sense, otherwise, it’s the product of family, institutions and generational veneration of esteemed figures. The bitter consequence of creating good citizens over critical thinkers is it’s creating a dissonance and disbelief that pure deception could be taking place in broad daylight. ‘Not here’, they say. ‘Surely not, must be an explanation for it’. Yet we’ve crossed the Rubicon with rapid speed.” (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

Is this the end of the Liberal international order?

12/03/2017 Olivia Beer

“Neither must we conflate nationalism with national pride and support for national values, and especially not with racism. It is perfectly legitimate for nation states to defend their own borders and define their own narratives. An integral part of the liberal world order is internationalism, a body of interacting nation states that may trade freely, share policies and examples of best practice that can simultaneously remain as sovereign actors.” (Read More)

Africa

The African AIDS epidemic is the West’s failure

12/03/2017 Hannah Tayab

“A huge number of victims of AIDS are young women due to their lives as sex workers as there is a lack of opportunities to otherwise make money for women due to education deprivation. Developed nations, therefore, can be argued to have ultimately failed to meet their global responsibilities, as so many African women are still unable to access education and therefore, unable to progress their lives. Accessible education around the globe is a global responsibility for all developed countries.” (Read More)

Featured

Murdo Fraser | Sturgeon doesn’t speak for Scotland

10/03/2017 Murdo Fraser

“It is perhaps little wonder that Ms Sturgeon sees the political distraction offered by Brexit as an opportunity to divert attention from away from her government’s dismal domestic failings, and is promoting a grievance agenda against Westminster in order to try and drive up Yes support.” (Read More)

Politics & Society

Trump, the alt-right, and the normalization of bigotry

09/03/2017 Daniel Hewett

“But, with the normalisation of bigotry in the name of free speech, the alt-right will find themselves increasingly providing a cover for people with sincerely ugly beliefs about ethnicity, sex, culture, religion and more. Even now it’s hard to tell the genuine fascists apart from the common trolls.” (Read More)

Europe

Did the sun really set on the British Empire?

08/03/2017 Alastair Stewart

“The English language and the osmosis of British music, film and fashion around the globe create the usurpable fact that Britain’s reputation and influence are already second to none. If Brexit is not about economics or military dominance or cultural hegemony then what precisely are the imperial designs ministers have?” (Read More)

Politics & Society

Saving UKIP: A Herculean Task

01/03/2017 Allan Nixon

“He has, until recently, retained strong support amongst both UKIP’s longest-serving members as well as the MEPs currently sitting in Brussels. And he may yet win the hearts and minds of the disillusioned, working-class voters he so doggedly pursues. The odds, however, are stacked heavily against him. Nevertheless, what is clear is regardless of whether Nuttall or UKIP survive this storm, the appetite for a party representing disillusioned, anti-establishment voters in the UK isn’t going anywhere.” (Read More)

Featured

Government defeated on Brexit Bill as House of Lords back amendment to protect EU citizens

“Within three months of exercising the power under section 1(1), Ministers of the Crown must bring forward proposals to ensure that citizens of another European Union or European Economic Area country and their family members, who are legally resident in the United Kingdom on the day on which this Act is passed, continue to be treated in the same way with regards to their EU derived-rights and, in the case of residency, their potential to acquire such rights in the future.”
(Read More)

Politics & Society

Caroline Kennedy: America’s Next President?

20/02/2017 Max Gwynne

“The argument exists that she currently lacks sufficient experience to run; the same argument was used against JFK when he ran for the Presidency in 1960. One has only to study Caroline’s past and observe her speak to see she is a natural diplomat and public speaker with some excellent political and legal experience; certainly more than many other Presidents and Presidential hopefuls in the past.” (Read More)

Middle East

Netanyahu’s UK visit represents a paradigm shift with Israel

19/02/2017 Olivia Beer

“Settlements aside, Israeli/UK business remains stronger than ever. Trade relations between both countries are positive and are steadily growing in both directions. Bilateral trade is worth £5 billion a year and has doubled in the last decade. The UK is Israel’s second largest trading partner after the US. And, technological, pharmaceutical and military collaboration between both sides remains strong.” (Read More)

Education

Higher Education: Is Social Mobility working?

19/02/2017 Ferdusi Jahan

“I graduated in the summer of 2016, now while my student experience was absolutely fantastic; just a seconds thought about my £27,000 plus student debt is enough to make me feel nauseous. Coming from a working-class family, choosing Higher Education was incredibly daunting, I don’t even think my parents had £9000 in hand to claim their own. University felt like my only option, I needed a degree; if I wanted a successful career and to break my barriers, I had to obtain a degree and I’m so glad I did.” (Read More)

Politics & Society

Brexit, the sideshow

16/02/2017 Alastair Stewart

“He is not alone. The Iron Lady (Mark II) marching to EU capitals in designer stilettos and across the world stage has become something of a minor novelty; but not because she’s avant-garde. May regularly comes across as a flustered grandmother at a bake sale who’s forgotten something and it’s the sad truth that even the loathsome politics of personality has morphed into the politics of pantomime. Life now imitates art and today’s politics and politicians could well have come from the pastiche ‘The Thick of It’ over the nuance of ‘Yes, Minister’.” (Read More)

Politics & Society

Parliament: The effectiveness of representation

13/02/2017 Oliver Murphy

‘MPs at the end of the day are representatives. It is this status, I believe that is the very cornerstone of our democracy. Not all, but a large majority of MP’s, I have noticed, do represent their constituents using ‘their own judgement’. Examples include Dennis Skinner, Alex Salmond and Jacob Rees-Mogg. More specifically the Hon. Philip Davies, states that he will ‘always put constituency interests first’. This highlights how Parliament is beginning to improve in its function of representation. ‘ (Read More)

'Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.' by Gage Skidmore
Featured

The Donald is the presidential rule, not the exception

31/01/2017 Alastair Stewart

There’s much to disagree on. Money can’t buy class, and Trump’s signature over the top lavishness is clearly compensating for something. Even with the indisputable fact that he is an accomplished businessman, if you watch every video on Trump you see soon enough that there is a painfully apparent chip in his psychological make-up. (Read More)

Books

‘It Can Happen Here’ is as relevant as ever

26/01/2017 Will Lane

Michael Meyer’s wonderfully acute, succinct and thought-provoking introduction describes the book’s protagonist, Doremus Jessup, as ‘a mild, rather indolent and somewhat sentimental liberal’. If only the world today was full of indolent sentimental Liberals. Similar to those in It Can’t Happen Here, with the exception of Jessup, today’s Liberals seem on the one hand content to hold together a world that is evidently not working for the majority of people, while also to their credit are able to identify a truly dangerous, hapless president who poses a threat not just to their world but to the ideals of the whole population. (Read More)

Scotland

The British Premier League

23/01/2017 Daniel J Black

Countries stay together because they want to. Constitutional arrangements are contingent upon this desire, not progenitors of it. You see, there came a moment when no amount of ‘home rule’ could have preserved (all) Ireland within the Union. Think of it in human terms if you prefer, eventually a partner who is perceived as intolerable to live with is shown the door: no amount of domestic tinkering can mend the broken will. Thus it can be observed that a singular focus on the constitution as unionists strive to safeguard the British Union is to put the cart before the horse. Unionists have to cultivate the desire to remain British amongst their fellow countrymen or the Union is burst. (Read More)

Photograph: 'The Alhambra, Spain' / Max Besser Jirkal
Europe

The Alhambra, populism and the dangers of an ignorant population

12/12/2016 Alastair Stewart

‘Western civilisation is more connected than ever, yet the ability of populations to discern fact from fiction and to decide which is an outright lie has declined. In the case of Trump, what is curious, is the presumption that politicians and leaders will lie seems to have reached a satirical impasse. There’s the cliche that politicians or someone in public life will lie but surely they can’t lie that much. There is an implicit presumption and trust that they could never go that far and it has allowed, with the absence of historical knowledge, deception, and hyperbole to become commonplace.’ (Read More)

Politics & Society

The absence of British values is why Leave won

11/12/2016 Alastair Stewart

“The language of the Leave campaign and the reason they triumphed is that they accurately, albeit accidentally, highlighted how a rise in EU values showed up just how undefined British values were in the 21st century. The monumental challenge of coming up with a set of values in a campaign window is why Leave never said what British identity was, only that European identity was not the solution. A cop-out, if ever there was one, albeit a successful one.” (Read More)

Photograph: 'European Communities Act 1972' / Legislation.go.uk
Featured

A snapshot of Brexit legalese

07/12/2016 Alastair Stewart

‘What is clear, however, is that like a patient who has voted to get better, it’s lunacy, improper and downright unprofessional to deny the consultation of, prognosis by and treatment from professional doctors who have decades of experience. Why would the Government want to deny the expertise, opinion and voice of 650 full-time MPs elected to represent the very people whose will they now want to implement?’ (Read More)

'Gibraltar' / Dennis Keller
Europe

Why Spain and the UK should be natural allies

02/12/2016 Alastair Stewart

‘Nevertheless, the Spanish and the British have more in common than their foreign policies might suggest. Both countries, perhaps more than any other two, are littered with monuments to their past imperial glories which can legitimately be said to have shaped the modern word over the last 600 years.’ (Read More)

Donald Trump speaking with the media at a hangar at Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona. / Gage Skidmore
Politics & Society

Dangers from Trump’s narrow hinterland

29/11/2016 John Webster

“The second weakness is that his entire career has been as a businessman. The fact that he has proved very capable in his various business appointments does not obviate the risk of harm that experience only in this one arena could bring to governmental processes. On the contrary, it could increase it. Trump has already shown he has the prejudices of many business people about government: that it is a hindrance to productive business.” (Read More)

Photograph: 'US-UK-Flags' / CC
Politics & Society

Farage, Trump and the Future of UK-US Relations

26/11/2016 Allan Nixon

In the current global political climate, UK-US relations hang worryingly in the balance. Relations with one another’s transatlantic counterpart have simultaneously been touted as pivotal and yet uncertain, currently. Yet with Nigel Farage marching onto the scene claiming to be the key to reviving relations between the two nations through his ostensible “bromance” with Donald Trump, why, then, has Downing Street rebuffed Farage’s overtures so swiftly? And what are we to make of the future of UK-US relations? (Read More)

'Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.' by Gage Skidmore
Politics & Society

The surprise election of President Trump

13/11/2016 David Bone

With the recent election of Donald Trump to the US Presidency, this article briefly discusses some of the factors behind his successful election, what we can glean from his statements so far and why his election doesn’t spell the end of the American republic. (Read More)

PM meeting with Spanish PM Rajoy Prime Minister Theresa May travelled to Madrid to meet the Prime Minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy for bilateral talks at his official residence, Palacio de la Moncloa / Credit: Tom Evans
Politics & Society

May, Rajoy and ‘Brexpats’

25/10/2016 Alastair Stewart

With no shortage of irony, the Parnell Academy in Mijas has set up a ‘Brexpats Spanish Nationality Course’ where they teach how expats can apply to become a Spanish citizen if they don’t much fancy a decade of uncertainty over Brexit. (Read More)

'Chess' / Dustin Gaffke
Politics & Society

Neverending Referendums

19/10/2016 David Bone

With a recent spate of referendums in the UK, this article discusses their increasing use in politics and why they may be detrimental to the democratic process. (Read More)

'Latin America' / CC
Latin America

What’s next for Colombia?

12/10/2016 Luke Osborne

Since 1964 Colombia has been embroiled in a civil war that has claimed over 200,000 lives and displaced over 5 million people. One of the most prominent actors that emerged from this civil war, has been the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist Guerilla group.

(Read More)

'Theresa May' by DonkeyHotey
Politics & Society

Through a glass, darkly: Theresa May’s Conference Speech

06/10/2016 Alastair Stewart

Does it not seem a lifetime ago that David Cameron was laughing off fears of a Brexit?

Theresa May’s Conservative Party conference speech has not only buried the patrician legacy of her predecessor but also indulged the Conservative membership to the hilt. Like a pop star coming on for an encore, she’s gone mad for flag-waving and forgotten that Brexit is a waltz, not a mosh pit.
(Read More)

'Saltire' / Julien Ortet / CC
Politics & Society

What next for Scottish nationalism?

24/09/2016 David Bone

This short article discusses the fact that Scottish nationalists have not had the ‘summer of love’ that they had anticipated. With the divisive legacy of the 2014 referendum still raw, bad economic news and the failure of a significant ‘Brexit’ bounce they may face an uphill struggle in the short to medium term. Even their party leader has had to acknowledge this fact and state that Scottish independence now transcends economic considerations and that the Scottish people may not be better off financially post-independence. (Read More)

Air strike in Sana'a / Credit: ibrahem Qasim
Middle East

The neglected war in Yemen

24/08/2016 Gabriela Bernal

Gabriela writes about the civil war currently going on in Yemen and the role the US and UK are playing. A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen since March 2015 and up to now all peace talks have failed and the country is in chaos. (Read More)

'Donald Trump' by Cage Skidmore / CC
Politics & Society

The appeal of Donald Trump

24/08/2016 David Bone

This short article discusses the appeal of Donald Trump to many in America. It argues that this is predominantly down to two main reasons. One, his lack of establishment credentials and secondly his policies mark a return to the prominence of the nation state after decades of globalisation. (Read More)

'Theresa May' by DonkeyHotey
Education

Is May barking up the wrong tree?

15/08/2016 Anita Vigneswaran

From Britain’s Home Secretary to Britain’s second female Prime Minister, Theresa May has entered 10 Downing Street with a few radical plans up her sleeve, one of which is repealing Tony Blair’s 1998 ban on creating new grammar schools. (Read More)