Photograph: Pexels
Business & Economy

Basic Income: Scotland and Beyond

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?

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

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
Brexit

Time to reboot the debate on Europe

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 Politics

Ken Livingstone and the freedom of speech

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)

UK Politics

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

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 Politics

Where are the Labour voices?

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

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 Politics

The watershed Budget?

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)

Photograph: Pexels
UK Politics

The phenomenon of binge drinking in Britain

Although evident in the streets of Britain itself, Britain’s international reputation of being fans of binge drinking has grown tremendously from holiday destinations where other tourists have witnessed the chaos that can occur when the Brits decide to drink excessively at the various resorts which usually consist of the Spanish islands in southern Europe. (Read More)

Photograph: 'St. Andrews Square, Edinburgh' / Chris Fleming
Scotland

The hijacking of Scotland

The SNP has been successful in creating a narrative of ‘us and them’ – Scotland versus England. If someone living abroad just tapped into the public debate one could not blame them for thinking that most of the Scottish people would be ardent nationalists. However, this does not correspond with the facts on the ground. (Read More)

'Scottish Parliament' / Andrew Cowan / CC
Scotland

Referendum or Referenda in Scotland?

Scottish Independence! Those two words produce a feeling that is as decisive as it is unifying. It also produces exuberance and a fervour about Scotland’s future which is scarcely witnessed elsewhere. Therefore, with these emotions now stirred, it’s no surprise that the question of independence was not ultimately decided on that historic day last September.
(Read More)

'Jeremy Corbyn' / DonkeyHotey
Scotland

What does Corbyn mean for Scottish Labour?

After the dust has settled, and the euphoria dies away, Jeremy Corbyn faces the herculean task of trying to unite a Labour Party, most of whom didn’t actually vote for him as their leader. The reasons being can be postulated and rationalised in many different fashions; the bottom line being that most Labour parliamentary colleagues disagree with ‘Corbynism’. (Read More)

'Jeremy Corbyn' / DonkeyHotey
UK Politics

Speaking Human: The rise of Jeremy Corbyn

The pundits are busy punditting away, the same pundits who said David Cameron would never be Prime Minister, that the winner of the 2010 election would have a poisoned chalice and be doomed in 2015, that 2015 would see Labour as the largest party and that the SNP would never break through as it has done. They have been wrong before, they may well be wrong again. Jeremy Corbyn was written-off from the start and won with an astonishing majority. His victory is neither that of a rank amateur or a fool. To write him off now as many will try and do would be an act of astonishing arrogance. (Read More)

Scotland

Nuclear weapons should be consigned to history

Yet, this primary argument for a continuation of a nuclear deterrent lacks substantial evidence. Argentina still invaded the Falklands knowing Britain was a nuclear state. Syria and Egypt responded to Israeli aggression by invading in the early 1970s despite the knowledge that the Israelis had successfully tested a nuclear bomb. While non-state actors have attacked nuclear state like on 9/11 against the USA. Foreign affairs continue to be littered with non-state actors and with no one attributable state for a group’s action, nuclear weaponry becomes even more irrelevant. (Read More)

UK Politics

George Osborne: Closet socialist?

A title given to this piece tongue in cheek but only slightly. The greatest surprise of our most recent budget (a budget which managed the signal attainment of making an already byzantine tax system even more complex) was the announcement of the Conservative party’s conversion to the Living Wage and ambition that in five short years not £6.50 but £9.00 would be the legal basis for earnings in the UK (outside London). The chatterati were delighted (money of course being a ‘free’ commodity), the business community muted – presumably too stunned to comment. (Read More)

Scotland

On legacy: whose job is it anyway?

Legacy. Whether it’s Obama as he comes towards the end of his second term or Steven Gerrard as he contemplates the end of his storied — as the Americans would say — Liverpool career, people care about legacy. Usually their own; what they’ve accomplished, will leave behind, and will be remembered for. But, as we in Glasgow know very well, legacy can have a broader meaning: it can be about the improvement of health, education, employment, infrastructure, the environment, and — perhaps — even the social fabric of our city, the way we think about ourselves, our friends and our neighbours. (Read More)

UK Politics

Manifesto Review: The Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democratic manifesto is ambitious, yet pragmatic. It contains some of the radical think found in the Green Party but also the realism of the Conservatives. The resulting compromise therefore is a well balanced energy and environment policy that by and large manages to incorporate most key aspects of a sustainable policy. Certain policies are likely to prove hard to implement, such as reduction in energy use, as this would be misdirected and is unlikely to prove popular with the public. Its stance on nuclear power is interesting as it might open the door for new approaches to nuclear power that are currently disadvantaged. (Read More)

UK Politics

First-past-the-post is no longer fit for purpose

Earlier this month, a group of Labour and Green supporters launched www.voteswap.org. This website operates a system in which Labour voters and Green voters ‘swap’ votes to their mutual advantage. Green voters pledge to vote Labour in seats that can win; in return, Labour voters pledge to vote Green in seats that Labour can’t win. Labour supporters living in unwinnable or safe seats have the opportunity to transfer their vote to a marginal seat, where they are more likely to influence the outcome. Conversely, Green supporters have the opportunity to ensure that the Green national vote share is as high as possible, while working towards the toppling of the current Coalition Government. For Labour and Green supporters, everyone wins. (Read More)

UK Politics

Manifesto Analysis: The Green Party

The Green Party is, and as expected, highly radical regarding energy- and environmental policy. This radicalism is seen throughout the manifesto and the Green Party is the first out of six UK parties to have their manifestos scrutinised and analysed on Darrow. The overall philosophy is that of radical change do address climate change, but also to deal with a range of issues from fuel poverty to the way the energy market operates. It is highly critical of the markets and it proposes high levels of government intervention throughout the policy areas. (Read More)

Scotland

Manifesto Analysis: The SNP

The SNP’s manifesto in relations to energy and the environment lacks in details and these segments are fairly short. It is fairly clear that the Party is not investing a lot of political capital into these policy areas. The policy statements that are present however are in line with what the SNP has been arguing for some time, especially in terms of wind power. They are also the only out of the six manifestos to be analysed that does not mention nuclear power. (Read More)

UK Politics

Manifesto Review: The Labour Party

The Labour Party manifesto vows that they ‘…will put climate change at the heart of our foreign policy’ and aims to create one million green jobs in the UK. They envisage Britain as a world leader in low carbon technologies and has as target net zero emissions. Climate change is being highlighted as a national and international security risk and the importance of global emissions peaking around 2020 is stressed, however it is fairly sparse on actual policies. (Read More)

UK Politics

Manifesto Analysis: UKIP

As the second manifesto to be analysed, UKIP’s is running against the general consensus that climate change must be combated and a need to shift towards a zero-emission energy production . The underlying philosophy is very straightforward: there is a need for a diverse energy production, ranging from coal, gas (conventional and from fracking) to solar, hydro and nuclear, however only where these can be delivered at competitive prices. Given its rejection of climate change as a significant issue most of its policies run counter to conventional wisdom in the field. (Read More)

'Scottish Parliament' / Andrew Cowan / CC
Scotland

An intriguing contest: West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

Situated in the North East of Scotland, surrounded by spectacular forests and stunning Lochs, it provides a home to exquisite castles including the royal favourite of Balmoral. It stretches all the way to The Cairngorms National Park in the shadow of the picturesque mountains. No, this is not a tourism pitch; this is my local Westminster constituency. (Read More)

UK Politics

Why anti-Tory sentiment will dominate the forming of the next government

History is littered with unlikely partnerships, whether it be the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939 that brought together the extreme right and the far left, or the unlikely coalition of partners that now tackle ISIS in the Middle East, or even a Tory-Lib Dem coalition that has endured for five years. Political circumstances have often thrown together unusual marriages of convenience. The 2015 UK General Election will undoubtedly witness such a coalition of interests emerge once again. (Read More)

UK Politics

Cuts to legal aid are undermining our justice system

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta, in which equality before the law was enshrined as one of the cornerstones of our justice system. Clause 40 of the Magna Carta reads: “to no one will we sell, to no one deny… justice”. It compels the justice system to treat everybody equally, without privilege, bias, or discrimination. This isn’t limited to making everybody subject to the same laws; it also entails safeguarding access to justice. It involves making sure everybody can vindicate their rights with adequate legal representation, irrespective of their means. (Read More)

'Scottish Parliament' / Andrew Cowan / CC
Scotland

A golden age for Scottish politics

This is a golden age for Scottish politics. No, don’t close this page and go back to Twitter just yet. It really is. The referendum was an extraordinary democratic event, which engaged — and expanded — the electorate like never before, and we’re still feeling some of that being reflected in the way that the General Election is being approached. Many of the campaign groups that emerged to fight the referendum have turned their attention to this new battle, and new groups specific to the election — not least those interested in grassroots tactical voting — are starting to come to the fore. (Read More)

UK Politics

Where have the far-right gone?

In the European Elections last year, far-right groups across Europe made unprecedented electoral breakthroughs. Marine Le Pen’s National Front stormed to victory, winning 26% of the popular vote in what the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls described as a ‘political earthquake’. The far-right Danish People’s Party enjoyed similar success, topping the national poll at 27%. More or less openly neo-Nazi parties sent MEPs to Brussels for the first time, with Germany’s National Democratic Party and the Greece’s Golden Dawn winning 1 and 3 seats respectively. (Read More)

'What we're reading' / CC
Scotland

Salmond might love Scotland, but certainly not her publishing industry

I received a fair amount of coverage for my comments on our late First Minister’s Memoirs. Sadly much of it missed the point I was trying to make. It is a point well worth restating. Here is a man whose income by any estimation is comfortable, and who has pinned his career to talking to the hopes, dreams and aspiration of many Scots. He has told them to stand tall, talked to them of freedom, held a referendum on exactly that subject. And yet when it comes to publishing his account of that very referendum, he simply takes the first train to London. It is a silent statement so stunning that it is astonishing the commentariat of Scotland have not picked up and run with it. (Read More)

'Battle for Britain' / Surian Soosay / CC
Scotland

Letter to The Herald: The Alex Salmond Memoirs

Dear Sir

Now I would never have expected our ex First Minister to have published with Birlinn Ltd. My own political views are too well known and to expect an ecumenical perspective is perhaps too much to expect of that most tribal of politicians. But there are of course many other smaller Scottish publishers who have supported the Nationalist cause. Many others in this country whose lives and businesses might have been transformed by a gesture from a man who claims a life dedicated to Scotland. (Read More)

History & Philosophy

Scotland’s Empire in the Sun

A current of thought amongst contemporary historians follows that empires have a life span. Like living organisms they grow, mature and begin to decay in a natural and seemingly inevitable process of decline. This has proven true for the greatest empires known to the world – Rome, Egypt, Spain, Britain and perhaps America today. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
Scotland

Lobbying and transparency — it takes two to tango

This morning brings news from Channel 4’s Dispatches and the Daily Telegraph of ‘cash for access’ allegations against senior MPs Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw, two of Westminster’s grandees. Another lobbying scandal that features a total of zero lobbyists, it’s worth noting that had it happened at the Scottish Parliament, the register proposed by the SPPA Committee would have been no help whatsoever. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
UK Politics

Why are we not talking about drugs this election?

Jamaica has set the wheels in motion to bring about the legalisation of the medical marijuana industry. The move is yet another change in the direction of global drug policy that raises the question, in the run up to the 2015 General Election, of why we aren’t discussing legalisation at home. (Read More)

Photograph: 'Westminster Palace' / Pexels
UK Politics

Is British politics in crisis?

British politics entered 2015 battered and bruised. With only a few months until the General Election, it is widely acknowledged that nobody really knows what to expect. What is certain is that democracy in the UK is entering into a period of crisis. It is a crisis that can be viewed from two perspectives – those on the outside of the political bubble and those on the inside. (Read More)

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

Will Scotland prove to be the Kingmaker?

In little over 4 months, Britain will go to the polls in the most eagerly anticipated General Election in recent memory. As margins go it will be a tightly run. Every single seat will count; incumbents of previously ‘safe’ seats will be looking over their shoulders nervously. Nowhere more so than Scotland, where the stakes are incredibly high as the result may well determine the makeup of the next UK Government. (Read More)

'Scottish Parliament' / Andrew Cowan / CC
Scotland

Paradise postponed

It’s the scatter-gun approach of psychics the world over. Name all the possibilities, and let the mark’s reaction guide you to the correct answer.

Thus, at the beginning of the referendum campaign, I asserted with all the unwarranted confidence of an English Tory, in a long-prepared lecture, to anyone careless enough to ask, that support for independence would not rise much above the 30% it had consistently polled in the previous thirty years. By the end, I was suffering from a serious bout of electionitis and beginning to think that we (the Yessers – gissa joab) might actually win. (Read More)