“I can assure you it takes more than money as well. You need to deeply change a culture and foster an atmosphere of individual responsibility and initiative in people. The only party that seems to mention responsibility is the Conservatives now, who have the word 11 times in their 2017 manifesto compared with 7 for Labour. A very crude measure, but like I say, much of this is just general feeling from the different parties.” (Read More)
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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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.”
This week’s editorial reflects on the recent Scottish Parliament elections and their potential effects, but also looking at consequences of the previous majority government and on the quality of democracy. (Read More)
The immediate and future implications of the recently enacted Scotland Act 2016 loom large over the election. Among the new powers handed to the Scottish Parliament are control over abortion law, air passenger duty, and benefits. Yet it is the further devolution of tax, and in particular income tax, that has dominated much of the debate among the parties. (Read More)
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)
When we combine the challenges of proximity to creating a sincere feeling and Burke’s normative statement together to look at the policies of the current Conservative government towards the disabled, we find David Cameron’s government wanting in an understanding of both. (Read More)
Other legislation has, regardless of the fluffy rhetoric of the Scottish Government and the SNP started to infringe some of our most sacred rights. The most sinister of them all is the bland-sounding Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and its Section 4 – the introduction of named persons. (Read More)
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.
What Edinburgh City Council must and should do is to introduce an exemption for anyone over the age of 65 or with chronic health complaints or a disability. They must religiously adhere to their pick-up schedules for these homes or supply larger, grey general waste bins as an alternative opt-out for those who are finding it difficult to manage through no fault of their own. (Read More)
Whilst causing danger to yourself and others through drink driving is entirely unacceptable, the new law is not catching people marginally over the limit who may pose a slight risk. The law continues to punish those who are choosing to put themselves and others at risk through drinking well over the limit, and well over the old limit. (Read More)
Like the UK’s education and physical health systems, the mental health system is outdated. Many of the contributing pillars which support all these systems have remained unaltered for years, and are still built around the ideas of dusty politicians from decades ago. (Read More)
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)
If, on the other hand, they do meet Caledonian expectations there will be inevitable complaints from south of the border of why their northern cousins are being handed a massive wad of cash and power without anything in return, and demand some similar treatment. (Read More)
But what is ultimately the main issue is what Parliament did and did not know and whether or not a premier is ever obligated to share precisely what he knows about national security to the House of Commons. Is it realistic or acceptable to ask Parliament to vote for war if they don’t have all the facts? (Read More)
I have a lot of time for Max Hastings. I’ve always found his analysis to be lucid in a world of half-dreamed fact and his Finest Years: Churchill at War is glorious historical writing. A lifetime or two ago he was even kind enough to share advice about me writing my own book on the great man, and his signed edition of my copy means a great deal to me. (Read More)
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.
Jeremy Corbyn has now concluded his first visit to Scotland since becoming Labour Party Leader but what chances does the veteran left-winger have of reviving the Party north of the border?
One of the things I struggle to rationalise to political friends and frenemies back home is how I’ve become even more interested in Scottish politics despite having left for Spain. I adore politics, but I’m reminded of Gore Vidal saying, ‘he liked politics too much to get involved in it.’
So Corbyn’s phone attributations are neat, but not new, and if a leader was not asking the questions that the public wanted to know anyway then something has gone awry. As for the speak softly, carry a big stick approach of Corbyn, he should do as he does with his questions and attribute to the source of his ‘different’ approach. Namely, Ruth, Kezia, Willie and Nicola fae Scotland. (Read More)
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)
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)
Mhairi Black was widely reported for condemning Westminster’s “silly traditions.” Britain’s youngest MP might have made a splash with an excellent maiden speech, but she’s off the mark this time with her comments. The legislative procedures and customs of the House of Commons are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it gets right the one thing that the Scottish Parliament has done embarrassingly wrong. (Read More)
I left the UK on the 1st of Spain and I’d registered to have a postal vote. I was streaming the UK news daily. What I didn’t quite anticipate for was – despite the posturing of the Spanish prime minister – that the issue was as lively a news topic as it was at home. For days before everyone knew what Scotland might do and what the issues were. Few people in this southerly resort could name the campaign leaders, but they could certainly talk about the economic and social pros and cons with aplomb. (Read More)
There’s something to be said for hitting up old political videos on YouTube. During one such perusal I was reminded of the infamous interview of Margaret Thatcher and Kirsty Wark in 1990. The then Prime Minister was encouraged by Malcolm Rifkind, the then Scottish Secretary, to avoid saying, “You in Scotland” because it was divisive. The Iron Lady then proceeded to speak several times about “We in Scotland” as a way of squaring the circle of her government and the Scottish electorate. As Rifkind later said, the awkward incongruity beautifully embodied why Scots didn’t like her: “She was a woman. She was an English woman. She was a bossy English woman.” (Read More)
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)
Something a political party wants desperately is usually one of the key things that defines them. It’s something they have to accept if offered. And thus it can also be the deadliest of traps. (Read More)
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)
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)
I find myself in a curious position. I make no secret that I run this site from Spain. I moved her in September and in all likelihood will stay for a number of years if the opportunity continues. I have professional commitments but spend every moment of my free time concentrating on Darrow, which, as you’ll have noticed, has a soft spot for the politics of home. (Read More)
Nicola Sturgeon makes no secret to having been schooled by Alex Salmond. Watch the 1995 ‘Great Debate’ between Salmond and George Robertson and it’s Sturgeon sitting in the front row. Elected in 1999, Salmond’s tenure as SNP leader and later First Minister has been all encompassing of her time in the high ranks of the party and government. She was bound to pick up a habit or too.
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)
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)
Collective amnesia governs instead of the SNP in Scotland. Local councils have been stripped of their budgets, the NHS endures a roller coaster of budget cuts, disastrous waiting times and a shortage of nurses. Education has been mismanaged and colleges closed, despite promises not to, and dissenting voices across the political spectrum are treated as somehow unpatriotic by representatives and supporters alike, particularly on social media. (Read More)
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)
With some surprise and excitement 2010 saw the first of three American style leadership debates for the General Election. The 2015 General Election will see debates return, but this time with a plurality of parties represented to offset criticism that smaller political parties that have the same right to be held.
But will the inclusion of so many voices drown, coupled with the need to get through an agenda of policy items, drown out the issues that really need to be discussed? (Read More)
If the devolution process has hit anything the hardest it’s the Scotland Office. Once the de facto government of Scotland for more than a century, the office and it´s secretary of state have now entered the nethersphere of responsibility and become a tad redundant. (Read More)
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)
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)
Whether it be the Queen or the BBC, Yes Scotland have attempted to present unassailable guarantees that with independence the sun will still rise, Strictly Come Dancing and Doctor Who will still be on TV, and a ‘social union’ with our ‘closest friends’ will operate across the British Isles. But will it really endure? (Read More)
For most of those 307 years Scotland was an equal partner in the British Empire. When considering then the case for independence, “can we seriously pretend”, as Jeremy Paxman asks in his book ‘Empire’,” that a project which dominated the way that Britain regarded the world for so many hundreds of years had no lasting influence on the colonizers, too?” (Read More)
More of a trick than a stunt, celebrity SNP supporters are often deployed to substitute for the sheer force of presence of Alex Salmond that so much of the independence argument is reliant on. (Read More)