A leading light of a pro-European Tory Group described the rush to implement Brexit, whilst casting aside the implications of Scotland and Northern Ireland voting to remain, as ‘the English majoritarian mindset’. Herein lies Theresa May’s greatest problem. To satisfy the anti-EU bloc, she must be seen to drive forward the Brexit agenda and in doing so, trammel the concerns of Remainers in any part of the UK but especially the Celtic fringe, if she, as a former Remainer, is to retain power.   In a move that was lifted from the Thatcher playbook, the Prime Minister declared: ‘Now is not the time’ and withRead More →

You could be forgiven for thinking the Scottish Budget negotiations have gone awry. The first attempt to gain parliamentary approval failed to gain a majority. A second attempt has now been held but when the media invite went out for assembled hacks and snappers, it was to be during a visit by the Finance Cabinet Secretary, Derek Mackay, to Howdenhall Police Station. Was this a last minute public appearance before Derek entered the station to ‘assist police with their enquiries’? The mind boggled. A difficult week in a difficult time. A Scottish Budget that is at the mercy of smaller parties determined to secure concessionsRead More →

Last week’s first and last Autumn Statement by Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, had a silver lining in the grey clouds of austerity for the City of Stirling and Clackmannanshire (and a host of other places), when the keenly-awaited confirmation that a City Deal had been struck between the Treasury, Scottish Government, Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils. The City Deal is predominantly a capital infrastructure plan funded equally by the UK and Scottish Governments, with the two local authorities chipping a bit too. So, you can expect more buildings, better transport links and the opportunity to grow the local economy. The original City Deal inRead More →

Every day it seems, another No voter makes the case for why an independent Scotland is right, now. The disillusionment with the Brexit Britain they find themselves in is turning even some of the most ardent Unionists into Independistas.   From either ends of the political spectrum – Paul Mason on the Corbynite left to Allan Massie on the right – there is a sense that the case for Scotland ploughing its own furrow as a modern European democracy is gathering pace.   Whilst there is a growing groupthink that Scotland in Europe is a much more viable position, equally there is a recognition thatRead More →

John Mason stirred the Unionist nest the other week with his statement that he personally boycotts Barrhead Travel following its Tory owner’s intervention in the 2014 Referendum when said owner wrote to each individual staff member calling on him or her to reject the Independence question. Deputy Tory Leader, Jackson Carlaw MSP, called John’s political statement in a tweet, ‘petulant beyond belief’. Nothing like a touch of faux outrage with your cornflakes of a morning. The official SNP response was dismissive in its usual anonymous manner: personal trivial statements, not the party line. What would have been more helpful all round is if there hadRead More →

With less than a week to go, it certainly looks as if the UK – Scotland is on more of a knife-edge – is edging closer to leaving the European Union.   If the jittery markets are anything to go by then it may become time to batten down the hatches as the uncertainty over what happens next impacts on all of us whether we voted to stay or go.   Firstly, the debate over the past few weeks has been less inspiring than required but perhaps was no more than could be expected. The ‘short campaign’ should always be about getting down to reinforcingRead More →

This is a refresh of the Leader column of Issue 1047 of the Scots Independent. The original online copy can be purchased at http://scotsindependent.scot/ocart2/index.php?route=product/product&path=79_81&product_id=154   The battle for the Scottish Parliament is over but the volume of claim and counter claim for regional voting strategy, especially for SNP voters, is enough to burst a few blood vessels. How times have changed for Scotland’s independence parties. The SNP has now become the dominant party of Scotland and is portrayed in some people’s eyes as the Establishment. We were promised by the likes of the Sunday Herald that a majority was in the bag and how SNPRead More →

Last night I went to see an Oscar-contender film, Spotlight. The story of how the investigative journalism team at Boston Globe exposed not just that 243 priests had abused over 1,000 boys and girls over decades but that the church had systematically hidden what happened through bullying, pay-offs and a network of people it could rely on to suppress any potential. A telling scene where the importance of getting the whole story, being patient to research and evidence the systemic abuse, was an important part of being able to nail the church once and for all. No more excuses or blame on one or twoRead More →

Three ‘budgets’ since the General Election and Chancellor Osborne dug us in deeper to his austerity highway to Utopia or at least a budget surplus by 2019-20, so he says. UK Chancellors through the decades are notorious for forecasting. No sooner do they make prediction than an unforeseen event arises that requires them to make an adjustment. It’s not that the Chancellor shouldn’t make adjustments, more that he shouldn’t set out financial statements promising so much when he clearly knows he has no guarantee of delivering them. This week, Scotland’s Finance Secretary has had just two weeks to make sense of the UK Spending Review.Read More →

This week should have been about condemning David Mundell and his hyperbolic claim that the Scotland Bill has fulfilled the Smith Commission recommendations, which was the vehicle to turn the much-vaunted Vow into practical terms. Sadly events in Paris changed this.   Instead my story starts on Friday 6 November as I set off for a long weekend in the Tarn, a rural area of North Midi-Pyrenees not unlike the rich farmlands of Strathmore. I have been here twice before and love the tranquility of my friend’s family hideaway. Arriving in Toulouse, I was struck by the presence of armed police patrolling the railway station.Read More →