The other night I watched “A Christmas Carol”, the film of the novel by Charles Dickens.  While the poverty of the Londoners of that era tugged at the heartstrings, it is difficult to accept that the same situation is developing in the 21st century United Kingdom.    We are told by a beaming Scrooge, called George Osborne, that the bad times are past and happiness and prosperity are returning.  The finance bigwigs are licking their chops, positively drooling at the prospect of big fat bonuses;  on the other hand payday loan companies are thriving at a rate never before seen in this country, and we areRead More →

I was fortunate enough to find myself at the Scottish Government’s ‘Stakeholder Engagement’ Q&A event in Edinburgh last week – the first of its kind and organised with the stated intent of reaching out to ‘civic’ Scotland.  Held at the EICC, it was clear from the off that our SNP Government run a smooth operating and tightly organised ship.  Perhaps too smooth. The only criticism which could have been offered was the introduction of the First Minister and his Cabinet.  You could almost sense Chairman Iain Macwhirter wince as he welcomed them one by one to the stage in a form befitting a political rally.Read More →

It’s been quite a difficult time in Glasgow – first with the tragic events unfolding as a helicopter crashed into the Clutha Vaults pub, and then with the reaction to the sad loss of Glasgow’s most famous adopted son Nelson Mandela. Both events have dominated the headlines, but the humanity of Scotland’s largest city has shone out to the world. It’s very strange to find not one but two books of condolence laid out in the lobby of the City Chambers, and I was very moved reading some of the comments. So much has already been said about the Clutha tragedy in the media andRead More →

One of the most momentous weeks of my life took a turn for the worse by Saturday morning.  Tuesday’s media launch of the White Paper was a fascinating study in how London-based journalists ‘just don’t get us’ and/or resent the notion that self-determination – which they would support in practically any other part of the world, with gusto – is being espoused within mainland Britain. The difference in how Scottish-based journalists asked a question which showed their understanding of context and complexity was a credit to them. When the likes of the BBC’s Nick Robinson posed a question he sounded like a public school boyRead More →

In the Herald on Sunday Ian McWhirter said of the Scottish Government’s White Paper on Independence, Scotland’s Future, that “Not since the tablets of stone descended from Mount Sinai has any document been more eagerly awaited or expectations greater”. Does he exaggerate? Were the tablets expected when Moses ascended Mount Sinai? As someone who has a 16 year old son I have to say Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows launch may have been a better comparator! Harry Potter launch took place at the National History Museum, “Scotland’s Future” at Glasgow Science Centre.  Both launches captured the world’s attention and imagination, with press reports, liveRead More →

So, former Lord Provost of Glasgow, Alex Mosson, has publicly declared that he will be voting YES next year. According the political editor of The Herald today a press release from YES Scotland states that Mr Mosson said :- “People need to realise that this is not about the S.N.P., Scottish Labour or any other political Party. This referendum is all about us, the people of Scotland, and our right to self determination. Once we achieve independence I’m sure people will start to regain their interest and engagement in politics, and that will be a good thing for democracy. But first we need to findRead More →

For political watchers, the impending Scottish Government White Paper, due to be released on 26 November –http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/White-Paper-date-549.aspx – is what we await, and what will set the tone for the forthcoming months through winter and into 2014.  There will be much to chew over, and you can bet that this event more than any other will light the touchpaper for the Yes / No debate ahead of us. Before its release, however, it is worth noting all politicians came together in our annual remembrance week to commemorate the veterans and fallen soldiers of wars past and present, so its seems fitting to leave this week’s FlagRead More →

The ancient, and probably best known of Chinese curses is the wish “May you live in interesting times”, and this can be fairly applied to Scotland today.  The latest bombshell for Scotland is the loss of 835 jobs at Scottish shipyards. This has to do with Royal Navy orders, which may or may not come to Scotland.  The reason is that work on the two aircraft carriers will be completed in the next two years and there are no orders to employ all the workforce;  in fact the elusive orders for the Type 26 frigates are causing alarm and despondency in the ranks.   Firstly, theRead More →

By general agreement, the 2013 SNP Annual Conference, the last before the Referendum was a great success! Held in the most difficult of circumstances, in the shadow of the dire threat to the Grangemouth workforce and possible blow to the Scottish Economy that the closure of Grangemouth would deliver and the Dunfermline by election, the Conference displayed a confident, positive party enthused by the up and coming European and Referendum campaigns.  As someone who lived through the closure of Ravenscraig in my own home community and the mass unemployment caused by the deindustrialisation of Motherwell, I was deeply concerned for the people of Grangemouth andRead More →

Whilst the YES Scotland campaign sums up the 2014 Referendum as the biggest grassroots/community campaign Scotland will have ever seen (I wonder if John MacCormick would be throwing his arms aloft with copies of the National Covenant, saying ‘beat me’!), quietly in the ivory towers of Scotland’s universities there are a number of research programmes taking place looking at devolution, independence, post-independence and all their public policy implications. A recent blog post about an event held in Edinburgh gave an insight into some academics thinking about the economics of constitutional change. “Speakers from Ireland, Belgium, Lithuania, Catalonia and Spain, Quebec and Canada, explored the constitutionalRead More →