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 →

Since Thatcher died, there have been acreages of news coverage. So, coming to write this on Thursday, there’s already been numerous feminist perspectives, commentary by those on the left and the right, and arguments about just about any aspect of Thatcherism, from the poll tax to the Belgrano to the miners’ strike, Hillsborough, Northern Ireland and, well, just about everything she ever did when she was in office. There are already loads of reflective pieces out there about growing up under Thatcher. My abiding memories are of my father heading out to go on strike one dark morning, my older brother and sister struggling toRead More →

It doesn’t seem like more than ten years since the massive anti-war demonstrations, held to dissuade Blair from joining with the US invasion of Iraq. Yet February 15th marked the date of the biggest peace rally in recent times. I remember it well. It was one of those clear, bright February days, not unlike we’re experiencing at the moment. Glasgow Green was full of thousands of people – a police estimate of 30,000, and an organisers’ estimate of 80,000. Amongst the marchers were the usual political types you usually find at rallies – the SNP, the Greens, the SSP, and even some Labour Against theRead More →

Today it’s all about Trident. A Westminster committee has declared that a “Yes” vote would cost Scotland 19,000, as moving British illegal weapons off the Clyde would require fewer Scots to work on them. There’s a massive moral problem with Trident – it’s a weapon that is indiscriminate about who it kills, and can kill thousands. But leave all that aside, if you can. Trident is enormously expensive. Modest estimates of how much it would cost to replace the system run from around £10bn in initial outlay to £83.5bn over the next 50 years. Obviously this varies depending on which academic, think tank or politicianRead More →

When is a power not a power?  When you are the President of the USA it seems. Barack Obama was meant to be different.  Not being in the pocket of vested interests when first elected was meant to give him a free hand to sweep the same away.  But the inertia of office soon kicked in and any hope of radical change was quickly extinguished.  In many ways, this might have been just as well for, had expectations not been reset so early, his re-election might not have been so straightforward and who knows what course the US would be embarking on now. Already beingRead More →

On the fringes of Europe, a nation chooses whether or not to plunge itself into isolation, removing itself from the rest of the world. Business will falter as a result of this narrow minded parochial mindset. Families scattered across borders could find it more difficult to meet each other. What could, arguably, be seen as national pride and the desire for a nation to run its own affairs could be taken and twisted into a country having a smaller place on the world stage, and regressive effects on trade, culture and diplomacy. David Cameron’s plans for a referendum on the EU is far more isolationistRead More →

The days since the signing of the Edinburgh Agreement have been marked by vicious and very personal attacks on the Scottish Government and Alex Salmond in particular.  For once the genesis of this is not in hatred of the SNP, Alex Salmond or the thought of Independence.  It is a reaction to the sudden recognition of how damaging the Edinburgh Agreement is to the Unionist cause by those that purport to represent it. So obsessed were David Cameron and his array of Labour and LibDem helpers in Better Together in ensuring that only one question would be put before the people of Scotland, they completelyRead More →

Last week was a fairly bad week for the Party, and there’s no getting away from that. Two resignations in the Parly group and a host of bad headlines about legal advice – and everyone’s lining up to give the government a kicking. It’s true that many of the activists are unhappy about Nato – I’d count myself amongst that. But then, it would be a very small party if everyone had to agree with every single policy, and the basic premise that people put aside differences to work for a common cause of a nuclear-free independent Scotland still holds true today as it hasRead More →