The first step to solving a problem is to acknowledge one exists. I’m concerned about how politics and current affairs are discussed and debated online - worldwide and across the UK if it comes to it - but I think we need to do a few things differently in Scotland. The technological changes we’re currently going through in terms of how people access and process information about the world around us is unprecedented, similar only to the development of radio and TV mass media but much more powerful even than them.
First published in The Sunday Herald, 9 July 2017Read more
LAST week was, in some ways, quite a big week in the twists and turns of Brexit. The anniversary of the vote not long past, I was tickled to have so many folk wishing me a happy Sherkaleg day, the anniversary of my own speech in response to the vote. A year on, yet even after so much heartache we’re all barely further forward.
First published in The National, 5 July 2017Read more
I've been thinking lately on how people across Europe felt in the early 1930s as they watched events around them and in faraway places with unfamiliar names. Of course, they were unaware of the future so could not imagine the horrors ahead. But would they have done anything differently? Or would most folk just have done what they did, put it all out of their minds and get on with their lives as best they could? Replace Pastor Niemöller’s “First they came for the socialists and I did not speak out, for I was not a socialist …” with Syrians, or refugees, or sick, poor or disabled, or immigrant, and you get my idea. Solidarity is all encompassing or it doesn't exist.
First published in The Sunday Herald, 2 July 2017Read more
There's a tremendous sense of community in Caithness – not the kind of dusty, vague “community” that only exists in speeches and faded newsprint, but a tangible, breathing, vibrant community that looks around, rolls up its sleeves and does what needs to be done.
First published in The National, 30 June 2017Read more
ONE of the few good news stories to emerge from the UK’s decision to leave the EU is that people have started to engage with European politics in a more active way. I admit this is ironic but it means that for the first time people are aware of developments in the EU beyond that being covered by the major news outlets.
First published in The National, 28 June 2017Read more
SINCE June 23 last year, it is safe to say we’ve had quite a ride. As the anniversary of the votes to remain within the EU, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and leave the EU, in England and Wales, looms, I think we are closer than ever to seeing that the circle cannot be squared and the penny has to drop.
First published in The National, 14th June 2017.Read more
Assuming you have not already voted by post, in two days you have a choice to make – who will best represent you in the Westminster Parliament during the most crucial period in politics in these islands since the Second World War. I hope you’ll vote SNP, and I’m going to outline who we’re up against and who might be deciding our futures if you don’t.
First published in The National, 6 June 2017Read more
Whenever something awful happens, look for the people who run to help. All across the country, people will make up beds on their couches for strangers, shuttle injured folk to hospital when the ambulances are overstretched, and use social media to reunite children with frantic families. The world can be a cheerless, dark and frightening place, but you will always, always, always find people coming together to make it better.
First published in The National, 1 June 2017Read more
THERE’S been much said in Scotland lately about fishing, and how, potentially, Brexit might make the position of the fishing sector better. Tory politicians have even tried to pretend that if you’re pro-fishing you’re pro-Brexit, but this is just a typically cynical stunt and, sadly, the reality is far more complex. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is, rightly, disliked by many people, and SNP MEPs from Winnie Ewing in 1979 to Ian Hudghton who currently sits on the Fisheries Committee, and myself, have called for it to be scrapped. But that does not mean leaving the EU, and MEPs have won significant reforms lately.
First published in The National, 18 May 2017Read more