SINCE the EU referendum in 2016, I almost feel like I’ve been walking around with “Scotland voted to Remain” tattooed on my forehead and in my heart, so often am I reminding my friends, colleagues and chunks of the media of this. It’s not a clever-clever argument for Scottish-European exceptionalism – it’s just a fact, and a situation that’s in danger of being railroaded through by this zombie UK Government.
One tiny, tiny glimmer of good news is that we’ve got more people talking about the EU, discussing it, analysing it, and debating whether we can stop Brexit.
First published in The National, 11 April 2018Read more
A ROSE by any other name might still smell as sweet, but what if the price increased by 14 per cent and you had to drive 10 miles to the supermarket because your local florist had been forced to close?
While floristry is a big industry, it’s composed of many small local retailers, all of whom are in serious danger. Not that I’m advocating you rush out right now and buy a bumper bouquet for your nearest and dearest (although we could all do with getting brownie points while we can), but this is just one example of the unforeseen consequences of Brexit.
First published in The National, 4 April 2018Read more
I have done a lot of reaching out to Leave voters since the EU Referendum. Remember, Remain won, in every region of Scotland, but it was not unanimous and I have written extensively in this column about how and why. In my view, most folk who voted Leave did so on specific promises, be it public procurement, more powers for Holyrood, fishing, £350m a week for the NHS, or the prospect of giving the establishment a skelp.
First published in The National, 21 March 2018.Read more
"TRADE wars are good, and easy to win.” With one tweet Donald Trump cut straight to the heart of the Brexit delusion. Far from being a free trade enthusiast keen for a deal with dear old Blighty, his instincts instead lead him to confrontation, protectionism and isolation.
First published in The National, 9 March 2018.Read more
THERE’S a reason the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier has been so laser-focused on the Good Friday Agreement. In his role as an EU Commissioner, he was responsible for the EU PEACE Programmes in Northern Ireland. As Commissioner for Regional Policy, his second Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland prioritised economic renewal, social integration, and cross-border co-operation, all supported by EU funding, including €531million in structural funds.
First published in The National, 1 March 2018.Read more
I’VE noticed lately that more people are getting in touch with me about Brexit, not just raising particular points but expressing their own unhappiness and anxiety generally over the whole thing. The UK Government, in the grip of Brexit Ultras like Jacob Rees-Mogg, has decided to pull the UK, and Scotland with it, over the cliff edge of a hard Brexit.
First published in The National, 22 February 2018Read more
BREXIT, if it happens, has not even begun to happen yet, but already there are clear signs of what heartache is ahead. This week the NFU, Scotland’s biggest voice in farming, sounded a panic alarm that we should all hear. I’ve long said call it agriculture and you’ll have only so big an audience, but call it food and we all pay attention.
First published in The National, 15 February 2018Read more
THE next few months are going to challenge us like we’ve not been in a while, and we’ll need to keep the heid. Those who want to see the UK leave the EU at all costs have had their orders – make this as scary as possible so that regular folks walk away. Anyone who cares about democracy, the rule of law, public service and public life in Scotland, or indeed our near neighbours, is going to need to focus on common cause with people from other parties and countries to defend what is good against what is coming.
First published in The National, 8 February 2018Read more
I READ with interest Bryan O’Hanlon’s letter in yesterday’s National highlighting the extraordinary bravery of Jane Haining, the Scottish Christian missionary who refused to abandon the Jewish children in her care and in doing so was murdered in Auschwitz.
Inhumanity, malevolence or outright stupidity aside, can you imagine the sheer arrogance that it would take to believe that you’ve uncovered a vast conspiracy to “pretend” that the Holocaust happened?
As a general rule, Holocaust deniers go in the same “ignore pile” as spambots and people who believe the CIA is controlling people through their fillings, but they seem to have been more emboldened lately. It’s an uncomfortable, upsetting subject, and that’s exactly why we need to make sure we understand.
First published in The National, 01 February 2018.