This category contains 564 posts


I have moved to Substack. It’s easy to subscribe and it’s free. Just click: https://iainmacwhirter.substack.com That’s where all my columns and podcasts will be in future. Look forward to meeting you there.

Final Herald column: It’s been a hell of a ride

This is my last column for the Herald after around 2.5 million words.   THE WORLD HAS TURNED AND I MUST TURN WITH IT In late 1999, when I returned from London to help launch the Sunday Herald, everyone told me I was mad. “It’ll no’ last six months” was the accepted wisdom in media … Continue reading

The Uses and Abuses of Referendums

Referendums had a bad name after the Second World War. We tend to regard them as the most democratic way to resolve constitutional issues.  Back then they were seen as the tool of dictators.  Putin’s plan to hold plebiscites in the occupied territories of Ukraine is about to demonstrate just why. Adolf Hitler was an avid … Continue reading

Trussonomics what’s not to like? Well…

I have a sneaking admiration for Liz Truss. Not for her economic policies – they make little sense – but for her cojones. She has taken on the tax and spend consensus and turned it upside down. All those hysterics on Twitter who claimed that Boris Johnson was “the most right wing prime minister in … Continue reading

Monarchy is an absurd anachronism. But so is nationalism. ————————— “The monarchy is not rational”, opined The Guardian editorial in a statement of bleedin’ the obvious. Like much of the media it  has been issuing stifled groans and guffaws for the last ten days at what many of its writers and its readers regarded as tantamount … Continue reading

Discontented Liberals Read On

“Liberalism and its Discontents” by Francis Fukuyama. Profile Books £16.99 The American political scientist, Francis Fukuyama, has made a career out of being wrong. He famously announced “The End of History” in a seminal work 1992 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. History has been getting its own back on him for the last … Continue reading

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

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