I'm a columnist for the Herald. Author of "Road to Referendum" and "Disunited Kingdom". Was a BBC TV and radio presenter for 25 years - "Westminster Live" and "Holyrood Live" mainly. Spent time as columnist for The Observer, Guardian, New Statesman. Former Rector of Edinburgh University. Live in Edinburgh and spend a lot of time in the French Pyrenees. Will that do?
@iainmacwhirter has written 1094 posts for Iain Macwhirter

Is sex work just work?

The late SNP MSP, Margo Macdonald, was a long time champion of the rights of sex workers – “working women” as she called them. She campaigned for tolerance zones and defended sex workers against heavy handed policing, such as the attempt to close down Edinburgh’s saunas. There has been no one in the SNP willing … Continue reading

Cack-handed censorship has turned the Salmond affair into a full blown scandal

Alex Salmond decided that there was little point in giving evidence to the Holyrood Harassment Inquiry today, leaving an empty chair. He clearly thought that the chair could speak more eloquently than he could under the circumstances. He may be right. At the last minute, on Tuesday, under pressure from the Crown Office, the committee … Continue reading

Universal Basic Income or universal basic poverty?

Covid has changed the landscape of employment out of all recognition. Around two million people have lost their jobs, millions more are on the government’s furlough scheme. Indeed, if you add in the public sector, some ten million people are now on the state payroll – nearly half the UK workforce.  So, why not just … Continue reading

Decriminalisation of hard drugs may make a lot of sense. But it won’t stop people taking them.

—————————————————————————————— Whenever I hear talk of decriminalising hard drugs, I think of “Hamsterdam”. That was the street name for an enlightened, albeit fictitious, decriminalisation scheme in the US TV series, The Wire, one of the most informed dramas about the impact of the drug problem on working class communities. A sensible and humane police chief, … Continue reading

It is December 2028 – four years since Scotland voted to leave the United Kingdom. The likelihood of a no deal looms larger by the hour as the latest round of talks in Manchester fail to agree on how to interpret the Withdrawal Agreement…

—————————————————————————- The Prime Minister, Michael Gove, has told the First Minister, Angus Robertson, that there can be no agreement on the Scottish border issue, ensuring free entry for Scottish people and goods, unless there is agreement on the other headline issues: debt, currency, defence and regulatory alignment. Mr Robertson accused London of behaving in a … Continue reading

2020: when hairstyles were racist, statues needed police protection and Edinburgh University cancelled David Hume.

For most of the 20th Century being on the political left meant supporting a set of principles dating from the European Enlightenment.  Humanism, progress, freedom of speech, scientific objectivity, tolerance. In 2020 the left seemed to be choosing a different course: a regression to dogmatism and narrow-minded intolerance. We saw this most egregiously when a small … Continue reading

If they don’t like the Brexit deal, Remainers only have themselves to blame.

The Opposition parties were left flat-footed by Boris Johnson’s Brexmas deal. Too many had believed his propaganda about being content with a No Deal and were therefore left with little to complain about when one materialised. Not a bad deal, either, that ensures tariff and quota free trade in goods and (probably). services.  It’s not … Continue reading

The Perambulations of a Priapic Prime Minister.

“Boris Johnson – the gambler”, by Tom Bower. WH Allen £20.  —————————————————————– Tom Bower is a prolific biographer renowned for his hatchet jobs, as we call them in the trade, on big political figures like Jeremy Corbyn and Tony Blair. Balance and nuance is not his style.  He has a keen eye for the biographical … Continue reading

Strange but true: Joe Biden may be tougher on crime than Trump.

—————————————————————————————– The shooting of Jacob Blake, seven times in the back, by police in Kenosha Wisconsin in August was one of the most appalling acts of police violence ever recorded on video. The casualness with which officers used lethal force against a black man, who appeared to be offering little threat, was truly shocking.  Yet … Continue reading

Book Review: “Politically Homeless – how a love of politics turned into a nightmare” by Matt Forde, Quercus, £16.99.

Matt Forde is Donald Trump.  He is the voice of the POTUS on the revived Spitting Image TV show, now available on Britbox. As a mimic he’s rather good and he does a convincing Boris Johnson for the same show. He also fronts well-received political podcasts.  Forde is following a long tradition of disillusioned politicos … Continue reading

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