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2015: the year Scotland turned SNP yellow while England remained Tory blue.

N the early hours of May 8, 2015, a 20-year-old politics student, Mhairi Black, defeated the Labour campaign chief, Douglas Alexander MP, one of the most experienced and highly regarded figures in the UK Labour Party. It was the most dramatic and poignant moment in the most extraordinary general election in Scottish history, which drew … Continue reading

Twitter: use responsibly or not at all.

One New Year resolution I wish politicians would make is to cut down on their Twitter use in 2016. Use responsibly or not at all. Just say no. Maybe even take a month off. Above all, avoid the temptation to become Twitter martyrs, like the Labour MP Mike Gapes, wearing your abuse as a badge … Continue reading

Another year, another budget tax freeze. We’re all fiscal conservatives now.

Another year, another tax freeze. There were no surprises that Finance Secretary John Swinney declined to drink from the poisoned chalice of the Scottish Rate of Income Tax (SRIT) that comes into effect in April. No governing party wants to increase taxes on the eve of an election. Nor in his budget speech yesterday did … Continue reading

The EU has turned into an austerity state. So why will I still vote Yes?

The decision on the EU referendum in 2017 looks easy for supporters of independence. Just follow Nicola – she seems to be right about most things. Aren’t the anti-Europeans like Nigel Farage of Ukip just narrow minded little Englander xenophobes? If he wants to leave, the European Union must be getting something right. But it’s … Continue reading

Rise of the nationalist far right in Europe and the lessons for Scotland

It was the best of nationalism; it was the worst of nationalism. Nicola Sturgeon, in Paris yesterday for climate change talks, offered no congratulations to the leader of the French nationalist Front Nationale (FN), Marine le Pen. The FN won a sensational victory in the regional elections and Ms le Pen is now a serious … Continue reading

Barbed wire and borders won’t make Europe safer.

  NEXT time you are in Catalonia, and want to understand what the Schengen Area is all about, you could do worse than visit the Walter Benjamin memorial at the border village of Portbou in the Pyrenees. Benjamin was a Jewish philosopher and art critic who committed suicide while trying to escape from Nazi-occupied France … Continue reading

The war no one quite knew how to stop.

The consensus yesterday during the Syria debate was that Parliament failed to live up to the occasion. This was probably because the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Jeremy Corbyn’s free vote of Labour MPs ensured that David Cameron would have a majority at the end of the day. Britain was almost certainly going to war, … Continue reading

Tax credit cuts have only been postponed – all the more reason to oppose them.

U-TURN if you want to, the Chancellor is for turning. There are many lessons from last week’s epic policy reversal by George Osborne on tax credits, but the most important is that civic action and intelligent opposition can force important concessions, even from this most right-wing of Conservative governments. If the arguments are right, ministers … Continue reading

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