Caithness broch project is an example of community-led activism at its finest

Before we begin, I would like to make it clear that I have not received any of the near-legendary “Brocholates” sent out to journalists and trendsetters by the Caithness Broch Project, and therefore any sentiments expressed are entirely my own, uninfluenced by heritage-based confectionery.

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First published in The National, 6 September 2016

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Iran nuclear breakthrough proves EU diplomacy beats the UK's flag-waving

As I left the Foreign Affairs Committee meeting of the European Parliament alongside my Danish, French and German colleagues, I was struck by the contrast between the bumbling of Boris Johnson as the UK Foreign Secretary and the grown-up, internationalist diplomacy of the EU. My colleagues cannot believe that the UK has chosen the path it has, and frankly, neither can I.

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First published in The National, 1 November 2016

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SNP Conference did us proud!

Well, Conference, you did us proud – again! Walking through the doors of the SECC, lanyard pass tapping against my chest like a second heartbeat, the excitement in the air was palpable. It’s no secret that the Brexit referendum is exactly the kind of exceptional circumstance that could lead to another independence vote. We said once in a generation and we respected that, but that respect wasn’t returned. Our future was gambled away by a Tory Prime Minister who, spooked by the rise of Ukip, was trying to bluff his own backbenchers. Where is he now? What brave new world are these Eurosceptic grandees leading us towards? Stamp your foot hard enough and the whole floor can give way, and the UK is being led by an army of blustering armchair colonels, all waving one leg around in the air, looking for solid ground. 

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First published in the print edition of iScot magazine, November 2016.

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Big Society was thriving in Wick long before it became a political slogan

David Cameron – remember him? – talked a lot about the Big Society. Communities would come together and rebuild society from the ground up, the role of the State would diminish, and we’d see the dawning of a new, co-operative age, with ginger beer and currant buns for all.

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First published in The National, 25 October 2016

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Decisions about trade deals will have knock-on effect post-Brexit

I'm grateful for the support I received in the SNP Depute selection. While I’m disappointed not to have won the role the work goes on. I have a job to do for the party and for Scotland, a job I asked for and a job that is more important than ever.

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First published in The National, 18 October 2016

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The European question will define our politics for the foreseeable future

We're all set for Thursday and the start of the SNP Conference, where we’ll finally find out, as the first item of business, who the members have elected as depute leader. It is worth getting a few things on the record beforehand, as the process has been a useful one for the party and we need to keep a few of the points on the agenda.

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First published in The National,11 October 2016

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Theresa May’s speech killed off lingering hope of salvaging something from the ruins of Brexit

ANYONE who did not believe that the European Question is the defining attribute of politics in these islands is in no doubt after Sunday. Different people come to independence for different reasons. I’ve always been motivated by the difference Scotland could make in the world, and the difference we could make to the lives of Scots by taking control over our own lives and making decisions here.

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First published in The National, 4 October 2016

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YES is a team game

Jim Mather once said “the SNP is a team game. When you win, I win, we all win.” Looking at the road we have ahead of us, I’m minded of that more than ever. It's time to talk about the Yes movement.  

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First published in iScot magazine

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Leave voters are encouraged to share views of Scotland’s future

As I’ve been travelling the country on the SNP Depute hustings trail, it is clear that the European Question is going to be the defining attribute of politics in these islands for years ahead. It is important to get it right, and where Scotland voted unanimously across each local authority area to remain, we must remember it was not unanimous.

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First published in The National, 27 September 2016

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We must make sure Europe is Scotland’s future, and Westminster is our past

Tomorrow, all SNP members will receive their ballot paper for the depute leadership election, either by email or by post. Polls will be open for three weeks, with the result announced at the start of Conference in Glasgow on October 13.

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First published in The National, 20 September 2016

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