Whatever your view over the Smith Commission outputs – a higgledy-piggledy list of all those powers which in reality are more heavy responsibilities than opportunities – the real test is going to be the longer-term outcome of instant gratification politics. From the hurried Vow steamrollered on the UK party leaders by GOrDon Brown, came forth an abridged Constitutional Convention which re-proclaimed the unwritten rule: power devolved is power retained. Pot noodle constitutional change: it’s fast, cheap, fills a hunger, but is not necessarily of nutritional value. The Unionists of Scotland may be rejoicing in the streets of Hawick tonight and Independistas everywhere are eventually comingRead More →

It’s not often that I agree with Jack McConnell but his view that the Scottish Labour party is in a quagmire of its own doing and heading to implosion, if not annihilation, had an air of candour that the Arran baron is not renowned for. Several commentators have taken a similar position. The ‘winners’ of the referendum are increasingly acting like losers and, vice versa, the ‘losers’ are going from strength to strength. Of course, it shouldn’t come as too big a surprise. The referendum campaign lasting over two years, imposed a strict discipline on most parties, but especially the Labour party. The private grumblingsRead More →

Gutted. Hurt. Sad. Grief. Angry. Shocked. The list goes on as Yes supporters digest the realisation that the culmination of their hard efforts – over weeks, months and years for many activists – resulted in coming close but not close enough. Many talk with frustration at their fellow Scots. Feart. Shame. Traitors. Fools. We say these things in anger, just one stage of several in the process of coping with loss. That has to stop. We will never win by insulting those we need to win over. And we still have a cause to win. That is the focus of this piece. As the dustRead More →

For years as a Nationalist I have put up with friends and colleagues questioning why a left-leaning democrat like me was drawn to the narrow confines of nationalism instead of fighting for socialism, social justice and equality (as if this was the exclusive preserve of the Labour party). Breaking down the class barriers instead of creating bourgeois borders is what I was told was important. All the time, I never once heard them talk about uniting Britain with the workers’ republics of Europe. No, they were just as nationalist for Britain as I was for Scotland, only self-deceiving in their outlook. Many British Labour supportersRead More →

Last Friday, I accepted an invite from a close friend, who happens to be a Strathclyde University alumnus, to attend a panel debate chaired by Prof John Curtice. On the Yes side were Humza Yousaf, Zara Kitson and Ivan McKee, three talented, up-and-coming politicians. On the No side, Jim Murphy, Baroness Annabel Goldie and Lord George Robertson (apologies to aficionados of peerage etiquette, first names should never be used in relation to addressing life peers). As was to be expected of two former Defence Secretaries, Jim Murphy and George Robertson focused on NATO membership and the Clyde’s reliance on MOD procurement to maintain jobs inRead More →

As I write this on the eve of the European Parliament poll, Scotland is about to vote to elect its 6 Members of the European Parliament. On Monday lunchtime, we will know how Scotland has decided. I hope that the opinion polls are correct and that the D’Hondt system of allocating seats will reward the SNP and possibly the Greens with 3 and 1 seat. This would be an emphatic lift for the YES campaign – even though we say the European elections are nothing to do with the referendum. The media will dissect the result to suit their own agendas. Three seats for theRead More →

Wear your badge with pride I was struck by a comment made by a fellow YES campaigner about her badge. She told me that she carries a few of them in her pocket so that when asked about where she got it or how nice it is, she can reply “here have mine.” She gives them her badge and off they toddle, pleased with her gift. Meanwhile, she dons one of her supplies and carries on her way. Then there was the time I was having a coffee in Stirling – a wee break before heading home. I noticed a young guy come in withRead More →

So George, Danny and Ed have collectively decided that in the event of Scotland saying YES on 18 September, the rest of the UK will refuse a currency union with iScotland. Hear no evil, see no evil, do no evil. That is their mantra. As expected, the unbiased media hit the headlines with doom and gloom, willing messengers of the UK’s Treasury troika. Even though a wealth of opinion is building up in favour of a currency union: traders, academics,commentators and even the Governor of the Bank of England believes that it is do-able if there is political will: “Despite any differences, the close integrationRead More →

The NO campaign has taken to scaring university staff and students alike this week with scare stories about tuition fees and Research Council funding. If we take university tuition fees for starters. The Scottish Government has said that the current arrangements of charging students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland a tuition fee for university education would continue in an independent Scotland. Scottish students and those from the rest of the EU will continue to access tuition-free education (at undergraduate level at least). The Scottish Government and the higher education lobbying body, Universities Scotland, both agree that there is a European Union concept termed ‘objectiveRead 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 →