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Currency union? Basket case Slovakia shows how it’s done.

In Prague, the museum of communism is located in a busy shopping street, sandwiched between a branch of McDonald’s and a casino – a suitably humiliating juxtaposition for a discredited political system swept away by the Velvet Revolution. It’s hard indeed to believe that, only 25 years ago, Czechoslovakia was a police state and part of … Continue reading

Scots aren’t better than the English … or worse. We’re the same … but our political cultures are worlds apart

THERE was a sting in the tail of the Cowdenbeath by-election. It came as little surprise that Labour won with an increased majority but when we learned the LibDems had come fifth behind Ukip, the twittersphere ignited. Was this confirmation that the Scots aren’t so different after all? Is the myth of communitarian Scotland just … Continue reading

Yes or No: disenchantment is the issue for both camps

That £500 question just won’t go away. It’s in danger of defining the referendum campaign. The latest Scottish Social Attitudes survey confirms that a majority of Scots would vote Yes if they were guaranteed to be £500 better off, while only 15% would support independence if they were £500 worse off. The survey of 1500 … Continue reading

Ed is right: socialism for banks must end

WHEN George Osborne starts offering more money to poor people, it’s a sure sign the Tories are getting worried. The Chancellor tried to upstage Ed Miliband’s speech on banking reform on Friday by announcing, in advance, that he planned to restore the real-terms value of the national minimum wage by raising it to £7 an … Continue reading

Scrapping corroboration is a populist bridge too far

What is it about sex crime that turns liberal politicians into legal vigilantes? The Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, is as liberal as they come. He wants to abolish custodial sentences for many crimes; he released on compassionate grounds the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, defying even President Obama; he supports the European Convention on … Continue reading

How about a TV show called Bonus Street about the life and times of City of London crooks?

THE Channel 4 series Benefits Street is a reality TV show based on a Birmingham street where, according to the programme makers, 90% of the residents live on benefits.  It portrays them, essentially, as crooks who are manipulating the benefits system in order to avoid work and who spend the day smoking, drinking, shoplifting and … Continue reading

Where stands Scotland as politics of race rises in UK?

I was driving back to Scotland up the M1 when I heard the traffic reports of chaos ahead. No point sitting in a jam for hours, so I pulled off the motorway and headed for Coventry. Might as well take a look at the cathedral and have something to eat. Walking around the city centre … Continue reading

Farage factor will shape indy debate

THE European elections are usually marked by public apathy and low turnout. Not this time. The Scottish Government is looking to Europe to change the fortunes of the independence campaign in 2014. After a year in which the Yes campaign made little progress, despite the launch of the SNP’s “all-questions-answered” White Paper on independence, they certainly … Continue reading

A rare breed: Scottish pacifists in the First World War.

Article in The Herald I was signing books at the Wigtown Book Festival when a distant relative appeared from nowhere and handed me an old black and white picture of my father and mother’s wedding day that I’d never seen before. Unfortunately, they left before I could thank them properly. Or speak to them, because … Continue reading

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