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   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 →

If you haven’t seen the images of two million Catalans taking to the streets of Barcelona then you haven’t lived. Our political friends in the north east of Spain can show the Scots a thing or two about how to demonstrate on the streets. But each to their own. Every political culture has its own particular customs and marching is at the top for independistas from Ripoll to Palma. So all this public display of political yearning had a purpose. To raise the temperature in the Catalan Parliamentary elections held on Sunday. And it worked. The alliance of the two biggest independence-supporting parties (which hasRead More →

Corbynmania may or may not enter the Oxford English Dictionary next year. It is a word that strikes fear, loathing and depression in the minds of many ‘progressive’ Labour MPs. For progressive read whatever you like: right wing? Blairite? Brownie? Everyone wants to claim the title of being progressive and Nicola commandeered, nae owned it, in the General Election. After all, as an adjective all one has to believe in is a sense of going forward. For the youngsters among you, the Progressives in local government in the 1970s and before were Tories by another name. Enough about that. Jeremy Corbyn kicked off the openingRead More →

I’ve been spending the last few weekends assessing members who want to become MSPs. A worthy ambition and not one that should be taken lightly. Through a range of individual interviews and group exercises, the Candidate Assessment Panel stretches applicants to help them evidence that they have what it takes to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Winnie Ewing, Tricia Marwick, Rob Gibson and Alasdair Morgan. My fellow assessors like our version of Question Time. I role play a mash of Andrew Neil and Gordon Brewer (yes, it’s not particularly pleasant sounding or looking). Taking a question from the ‘audience’ only to twistRead More →

As Harold Wilson is oft quoted, “a week is a long time in politics”. This week will mark the starting gun on Scotland’s next referendum. The third in five years. Remind me who usually complain about a neverendum syndrome? Ah yes, our Unionist countrymen (and women).   Well the Queen’s Speech heralds the legislation for a referendum on whether we are in, out or supposed-to-be shaking it all about. Cameron has started a Tory charm offensive with other European leaders. An oxymoron if ever there was one.   I can imagine he will report back that his first stage Grand Tour of Europe will beRead More →