I was delighted this week to see my friend Mark McDonald elected to serve the Aberdeen Donside constituency in the Scottish Parliament. The result itself was not the thumping victory some had predicted, and it was disappointing to see turnout down. There was a lot for voters to consider in this by election – the future of local schools, transport infrastructure, the very status of the city of Aberdeen itself – yet only 38.8% of registered voters managed out to vote, down from 47.3% in 2011. Last Thursday, along with many other SNP activists, I was out all day trying to encourage supporters out toRead More →

Gender issues have been in the media a lot of late.  In particular, the publication by the Sunday People of TV chef Nigella Lawson’s husband Charles Saatchi grabbing her by the throat several times outside a high-end London restaurant have landed the debate around domestic violence full square in the spotlight, and rightly so.  The casual manner in which Saatchi tried to downplay the incident does not sit well (at the time of writing Lawson herself has made no comment) and his turning up at a police station to accept a caution which he believes will draw a line under the matter I doubt willRead More →

As I write this the report commissioned by the Scottish Government on pensions and benefits is released by the welfare working group. By now many of you will have had a chance to read it. No wonder the Westminster government is burying its head in the sand and hoping Scotland will vote no. I had no idea that so many of the UK pensions were processed here, in Scotland.  How many other parts of UK  government are carried out here? This will have massive consequences for the running of the rest of the UK (as it is being called) when we become independent. If theyRead More →

It is always interesting in the Chamber to see the reaction on the Labour benches when the SNP hits a raw nerve.  My recent speech, in a shameless Labour debate on student funding, was rudely interrupted to such an extent that the Presiding Officer was obliged to intervene. Why? Because I had dared suggest that the “Blue Labour” ideology close to the heart of Ed Milliband’s leadership was driving the abandonment of universal services by his Party. Just this week Labour have refused to reverse the bedroom tax or cuts to Child Benefit, and have pledged to means test winter fuel payment for pensioners.  InRead More →