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 →