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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

'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)

'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)

'Jeremy Corbyn'/ CC
Politics & Society

Jeremy Corbyn could be good for Britain

15/08/2016 Alastair Stewart

It’s said that history doesn’t remember the runner-up. What is striking about Jeremy Corbyn’s second run at the Labour leadership is just how much the British press do not want to acknowledge that he has done for the Labour Party what Alex Salmond did for the SNP and Nigel Farage did for UKIP. (Read More)

Photograph: 'Westminster Palace' / Pexels
Politics & Society

The Divided Kingdom

05/07/2016 Luke Osborne

Our United Kingdom seems united no more. The most striking thing about this referendum result is just how deeply divided we have become. (Read More) (Read More)

'Houses of Parliament' / CC
Politics & Society

Labour Leadership Crisis: What is the problem?

04/07/2016 Luke Osborne

In the Labour Party split, there are two main factions that formed after the general election. They both hold different outlooks on the same conventional wisdom in British politics. This division derives from those who are seen as more left within the party and those that are seen as more moderate. The conventional narrative of British politics, which both sides have a different reading of, is that the Labour party was unelectable for 18 years because of disputes over how left wing or moderate the party should be. The party took unpopular far left policies thereby ruining its electability.

This narrative is what has pushed the party to see the situation with two different truths. The moderates read the Corbyn left, as disconnected with what the country would desire and is unelectable, just like the Labour of the 80s. The more left-wing in the party see Corbyn as having formed a different left. The similarities between them and 80s Labour are not problematic because the change in the world since the Cold war has made it so the issues should be viewed in a different light, such as nuclear disarmament. (Read More)

'Europe'/ CC
UK

UK votes for Brexit in historic referendum

25/06/2016 Gabriela Bernal

The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union in a historic referendum. This result will change the course of British history and possibly have a domino effect on other European countries. The result came as a surprise to many, even the Leave camp, but there are already some politicians in other European countries that want to hold a similar referendum in their country. The economic implications of Brexit are still not known but businesses have made it clear that they will have to review their plans now that the British people have voted for Brexit. Furthermore, prime minister David Cameron has resigned and will be remain in office until October. Only time will tell exactly what kind of consequences this referendum will have for the UK, Europe, and the world. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
Business & Economy

Basic Income: Scotland and Beyond

08/06/2016 Kallum Corke

Professor Standing is right; with pilot programmes launching across the world, the time is ripe for a Scottish experiment – and with a Scottish parliamentary majority comprised of Greens, actively advocating for a basic income and a Scottish National Party amenable to the idea, there has never been a better time to push for a Scottish study. Scotland’s unique characteristics, population density, GDP and economic diversity make it an ideal candidate for a national pilot. (Read More)

Profile Cover Photo: Calton Hill, Edinburgh / Raphaël Chekroun / CC
Scotland

Could Ruth Davidson be the next leader of the Conservative Party?

02/06/2016 Rodaidh McLaughlin

In an era which has seen antipathy and mistrust towards the political classes mount to such levels as to give rise to the likes of Donald Trump, few politicians from the political mainstream can be deemed genuinely popular. And yet, the presidential-style campaign lead by the young, gregarious, kick-boxing, tank-straddling, former Territorial Army signaller struck a chord with voters in a way in which precious few in Ruth Davidson’s party could ever hope to emulate.
(Read More)

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon TV interview / Scottish Government / CC
Scotland

Not the Scotland I want to see

01/06/2016 David Bone

In my relativity short life, I have witnessed Scotland go from a stoic, sensible nation, where politics was based on the traditional left-right ideology and people made decisions based on economic and social evidence, to a place where large swathes of the population would vote for a party that’s primary aim would cause them grave, long-lasting, deep economic harm and social uncertainty, but yet would happily dismiss anything that counters this view. Any contrary evidence is just debunked as the work of the “establishment” or “Wastemonster” or “quisling politicians.”
(Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
Europe

Time to reboot the debate on Europe

30/05/2016 John Lindberg

Last week the first of a series of debates on the UK’s membership of the European Union took place in Glasgow. This debate were to focus on the concerns of young people, but it maybe didn’t get off to a wondrous start. The panel, with its mean age of almost 60, is maybe not the best to really understand the concerns of today’s youth. The debate itself very aptly summed up the referendum debate so far – scaremongering, with little regard for facts as the dominant narrative. This is doing nothing to rebuild the public’s trust in politicians, especially as both sides contradict the other sides’ arguments on a continuing basis. With less than a month to go, it is time for a reboot of the debate on Europe. (Read More)

UK

Ken Livingstone and the freedom of speech

02/05/2016 John Lindberg

It should be stressed that recent statements from Ken Livingstone and other representatives of the Labour Party have been anti-Semitic in their nature, and their suspensions, therefore, are correct. However, we must act with caution, especially in the current time. The ever-so-difficult balance between the freedom of speech and the protection against abuse must be found. (Read More)

'Marriage' / CC
Ideas & Discussion

Where are the political spouses these days?

14/04/2016 Alastair Stewart

To be an example of something ordinary and relatable is precisely what ‘the alternative’ third way doesn’t need. Populism doesn’t require ‘ordinary’ because it often hinges on one individual who holds the gravitas and sway to make the unpopular and unthinkable the new mainstream. No one has any need to know about the marriages of Nigel Farage or Alex Salmond because it bursts their messianic, single-issue singularly of purpose and the anecdotal novelty which props it up. (Read More)

UK

We owe ourselves more than cynicism in the wake of the #PanamaPapers

12/04/2016 Kallum Corke

When we respond with sarcasm to the news that the prime minister profited from a scheme designed to avoid tax and lied about it to the public, we contribute to a culture that allows these injustices to go on unpunished. Cameron has claimed that his late father’s arrangements were completely legal and that the £31,000 dividend he received (which, incidentally, is more than the average U.K salary) was subject to all relevant U.K taxes. But legal isn’t the same as ethical – and wouldn’t we rather the two concepts were better aligned? (Read More)

UK

Where are the Labour voices?

24/03/2016 John Lang

Yet those currently at the heart of the Labour leadership seem to have managed to get through the last few weeks without such concerns. A google search of news and opinions on the referendum would get to quite a few pages in before Messrs Corbyn or McDonnell appear.
(Read More)

Scotland

The toxic split of the Conservatives: Iain Duncan Smith resigns

23/03/2016 Callum Maher

Mr Duncan Smith has seemingly sided with Mr Corbyn saying the Budget “benefits higher earning taxpayers”. Within his resignation letter he announced he could see them as defensible terms but only narrowly, “but they are not defensible in the way they were placed within a budget that benefits higher earning taxpayers”. He in the past has sympathised with some budget cuts to the welfare system due to the last Labour government which made difficult cuts necessary.
(Read More)

UK

The watershed Budget?

21/03/2016 John Lindberg

Much can, and has, been said about Duncan Smith and his welfare reform. It is easy to demonise him, however maybe unfairly. If one explores his background in welfare reform, one should not forget that this man is a part of a rare breed of politicians nowadays – conviction politicians. His genuine belief that his reforms are for the better for disabled and disenfranchised people should be applauded. (Read More)