Who is the best candidate to steer the European Parliament through stormy seas?

TODAY the European Parliament will begin the process of electing a new Speaker, or President. Usually this would not make waves in Scotland, but this time it could matter hugely to us.

The National

First published in The National, 17 January 2017

 

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Scotland can learn from Malta which now takes the presidency of the European Council

IT’S a brave man who will admit he was wrong, especially in politics. But Joseph Muscat, prime minister of Malta, has done just that. Having originally campaigned against Malta joining the EU, he’s since said that joining the EU is the best decision his country could have made. Now, as Malta flexes its muscles as chair of the European Union’s Council for the next six months, it’s worth considering that this country of under 500,000 has serious power in a union of 500 million people. Incidentally, the UK was due to take up the presidency in July but... well.

The National

First published in The National, 11 January 2017.

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We all benefit when students become citizens of the world

ONE of the most heartbreaking parts of the drip-fed Brexit horror has been its impact on EU nationals who chose to make Scotland their home and now find themselves living in a state of uncertainty. That’s why I was so proud to see our First Minister, as one of her first acts after the EU referendum result, make a point of telling EU nationals that they were welcome and valued, and that this was their home.

The National

First published in The National, 3 January 2017

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Fifa must act over Israeli teams playing and training in occupied Palestinian territory

‘ALL that I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football” – so said Albert Camus, author, philosopher and, as it turns out, pretty proficient goalkeeper.

Sport and ethics are important. Symbolism of sport is important, especially internationally with teams often contributing to a nation’s self image. But there is a lot of politics in sport too, arguably too much, but it is right to call out the authorities when they get things wrong.

The National

First published in The National, 20 December 2016.

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The UK must ratify the Istanbul Convention and tackle violence against women

AN estimated one in three women in the EU has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. I’m ashamed to type that. But just as the UK is pushed closer to finally ratifying the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, Poland announces it plans to withdraw its signature.

The National

First published in The National, 13 December 2016.

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Food banks should not need to exist .... we can do better than this

IT’S that time of year again. The year 2016 has fled past us (and who can blame it?) and some good souls are already putting together their parcels for the food banks.

The National

First published in The National, 6 December 2016.

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Conflict minerals crackdown is a step towards ending this modern slavery

LIKE many people, I’ve often felt powerless in the face of powerful interests and highly complex systems that seem to be so intricate that we will never reform them for the better. But I’ve never changed my mind over the moral obligation we have to improve the lives of the world’s most desperate and vulnerable people. So last week’s news of the EU cracking down on conflict minerals is a much-needed boost in an otherwise frustrating year.

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First published in The National, 18 October 2016

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We need free and brave media to scrutinise the rise of populist politicians

You may be weary of American politics right now and feel the need to concentrate on events here at home, but we mustn’t underestimate the impact that the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States will have on global politics.

The National

First published in The National, 22 November 2016.

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Our EU neighbours seek to emulate our policy of minimum alcohol pricing

IT IS curious that so much of what has been written about the Scottish Government’s Minim Unit Pricing policy (MUP) has been portrayed as a "Scotland versus Europe" struggle. The reality is actually a long way from this, and rather more interesting.

The National

First published in The National, 15 November 2016.

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A problem of fatty food shows Brexit may genuinely be bad for our health

TRANSFATS. They may not sound sexy, and indeed they are not. But neither is heart disease and they have a large part to play in causing it. Every two per cent of energy consumed from trans-fatty acids increases your risk of a heart attack or death due to heart disease by a whopping 25 per cent, and some of our food is saturated with them.

The National

First published in The National, 8 November 2016.

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