'What we're reading' / CC

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

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)

Photograph: 'Views of Jerusalem' / Flickr
Middle East

Bye-bye Bibi, Bibi bye-bye?

March 17th is the day of reckoning for Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who polarises the Israeli electorate like no other. In under two weeks time there remains a possibility that the world will wake to the political obituary of Israel’s second longest-serving prime minister. (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

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)

Photograph: Pexels
Latin America

A History of Hypocrisy: The US and Operation Condor

The camp [Guantanamo Bay] has become a symbol of the moral decline of the US in its pursuit of terrorists around the globe. Now home to around 130 detainees, it held more than 800 during President George W. Bush’s reign. Subjected to torture and denied their human rights, prisoners continue to be denied the right to a trial at the hands of the US Government. (Read More)

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

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

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)