It is always interesting in the Chamber to see the reaction on the Labour benches when the SNP hits a raw nerve.  My recent speech, in a shameless Labour debate on student funding, was rudely interrupted to such an extent that the Presiding Officer was obliged to intervene. Why? Because I had dared suggest that the “Blue Labour” ideology close to the heart of Ed Milliband’s leadership was driving the abandonment of universal services by his Party. Just this week Labour have refused to reverse the bedroom tax or cuts to Child Benefit, and have pledged to means test winter fuel payment for pensioners.  InRead More →

I could not sit down to write my SI article without reflecting on the passing of Brian Adam MSP.  I met Brian a number of years ago at the Livingston by-election. Dutifully, trying to raise money for the campaign, I tried to sell him a raffle ticket! A mistake to be made only once in a lifetime. So it was with some trepidation that as newly elected MSP I was summoned to the Whips Office.  Brian immediately put me at my at ease and explained, without a hint of irony, that if I did what I was told, when I was told to do it,Read More →

I was extremely honoured this week, along with my colleagues, to be in the Chamber of the Scottish Parliament when our First Minister made the announcement about the date of the referendum  “…It is worth reflecting just for a moment on the privilege that this nation and this generation will have: nothing less than the privilege of choosing the future course of our country, in a democratic referendum that is made here in Scotland. We have been on a journey since 1999 and the restoration of our Parliament, here in the heart of our ancient capital. We have witnessed a growing confidence and increase inRead More →

It seems that hardly a day goes by that Scotland takes one step closer to Independence Day.  History will see the Edinburgh Agreement as hugely significant in determining our country’s future. Tuesday 5th of February saw the launch of the Scottish Government’s proposals for “The transition to an independent Scotland”.  Of course this comes hot on the heels of the Electoral Commission Report “Referendum on Independence for Scotland, Advice of the Electoral Commission on the proposed referendum question.” This has given us the final question, with which many Yes campaigners will be as content as am I. ‘Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes/No’ Surprisingly,Read More →

I was shocked to read in my local press this week that Labour controlled North Lanarkshire Council’s education chiefs are paying private firms £729million to build schools worth around just a fifth of that amount. North Lanarkshire Council have saddled a generation of taxpayers with an enormous debt by entering into a 31-year Private Finance Initiative to build schools. The local authority says the arrangement provides “excellent education in first-class facilities” for children. But so does prudential borrowing without the huge costs. PPP/ PFI funding has been widely condemned for offering poor value for money and this is why it was replaced by the SNPRead More →

I saw Douglas Alexander on the Politics Show trying to defend the indefensible: the Labour Party’s lurch to the right.   In doing so he quoted Aneurin Bevan, or should I say misquoted as he reversed Bevan’s original sentence “The language of priorities is the religion of Socialism”.  Bevan coined this phrase for his 1949 Labour conference speech. But perhaps Mr Alexander and other Labour politicians should read the 1959 speech ten years later and following Labour’s defeat in the general election, where Bevan references himself but also goes on to say: “.. The language of priorities was the religion of Socialism, and there is nothingRead More →

  One might imagine that during a Parliamentary recess that the Scottish Parliament building would go into a mothballed state, with a vacant, voiceless chamber and unlit, unused committee rooms. But not so for Mirralles’ masterpiece!  As the doors open to release the MSPs retreating to their constituencies for the long break, the Scottish Parliament breathes in new life, new visitors, new ideas and new wisdom.  Always a place where people are welcome, indeed often cried the Peoples’ Parliament, this summer the Scottish Parliament welcomed the world at the inaugural International Culture Summit.  A joint venture between the Scottish Government, the UK Government, the BritishRead More →