The SNP are getting the job done for Europe and the world

HELLO again from Strasbourg, where your three SNP MEPs – along with our advisers and teams – are getting on with representing Scotland in Europe. It could be my final time here (of this session anyway … like I said before, there’s a lot of sympathy and understanding here for an independent Scotland), but there’s no time for nostalgia in the plenary session. Barely time to blink, really, with MEPs charging up and down the corridors for meetings and briefings, then back to the chamber for debates and the all-important votes.

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First published in The National, 27 November 2019

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Echoes of Velvet Divorce being heard in Scotland

I DIDN’T make many plans for this week, largely because I, like everybody else, didn’t know what was likely to be happening. I even, partly, believed the bluff and bluster from Boris Johnson – time and again I watched his speeches and thought he really was setting himself up for a fall if he didn’t deliver.

First published in The National, 30 October 2019

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The UK Government is setting a trap on brexit

I WAS privileged last week to briefly head down to Swansea to visit the Plaid Cymru conference as the fraternal delegate from the SNP. While there I also participated in an event on the main floor of conference, “The Celtic Nations In Europe”, with Sinn Fein, Plaid and the SNP discussing Brexit from our different perspectives.

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First published in The National, 09 October 2019

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Scotland’s independent future must be at the heart of the EU

THIS week, amid the Brexit chaos, a reminder of what the world can do when we work together and why it is so important to be part of the different structures humankind has invented to promote dialogue.

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First published in The National, 25 September 2019

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More Scots are getting the ‘why’ of independence

WITH this week bringing the fifth anniversary of the independence referendum we should all have a quiet moment of reflection at how much has changed and how far we’ve come. But only a moment, because we still have an argument to win and the big prize – independence in Europe – remains as yet unwon.

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First published in The National, 20 September 2019

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I’m the best candidate to win Stirling from the Tories

SO the news is out, I am indeed seeking the nomination for Stirling constituency for the Westminster election if the local SNP members will have me. There has been lot of uncertainty in my life but I’ve reached the view over the last few years that the big argument on Scotland in Europe that we need to win is not in fact in Brussels, nor Scotland, but the place where the problem is – Westminster.

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First published in The National, 11 September 2019

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As the UK ignores advice to not waste time, we’re getting on with the job

WHILE the UK Government and body politic have busily ignored Donald Tusk’s sound advice not to waste the extra time granted to them beyond April, the EU carries on with its considerable workload, not least in the area of foreign policy.

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First published in The National, 1 August 2019

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British exceptionalism lurks in the UK’s detention polices

BRITISH exceptionalism has become a buzzword in recent years, as a cause of Brexit for some academics and in the pages of the Telegraph as a justification for why Brexit will be a rip-roaring success. I confess I have some sympathy for the view that some who have spent their careers within the SW1 bubble have developed an over-entitled sense of history.

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First published in The National, 7 August 2019

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Brexit will be Jo Swinson and Boris Johnson's true test

WITH the election of Jo Swinson as leader of the UK LibDems and Boris Johnson as leader of the UK Tories, Westminster has truly spoiled us this week! Here at the outset, I’ll say congratulations to both, and I’ll work with anyone to bring sense to where we are, if they’re willing and able. I hae ma doots. Before we get caught up in the emotion and drama of it all, I was trying to count how many such leaders I have seen come and go since my own election in 2004, but lost count. However, it is worth thinking on what, if anything, their elections mean for us in Scotland and what it all means for Scotland’s place in Europe.

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First published in The National, 25 July 2019

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I’m excited about the new Commission’s policy agenda – and this is why

EXACTLY 40 years ago, Simone Veil was elected as the first female president of the European Parliament and set out her vision for a fairer and more united Europe.” With those words the first ever female President of the European Commission began her case to MEPs on Tuesday. Ursula von der Leyen went on to promise to ensure that there will be full gender equality within her College of Commissioners. This is a vital and welcome step. The EU must lead by example as the Scottish Government has already done.

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First published in The National, 18 July 2019

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