A referendum we can win on facts

Well, we haven’t much time to catch our breath after the Scottish Parliament elections before we have to rush headlong into the EU referendum, but we’re almost there! 

 

As you’ll know, I’ve been travelling around Scotland and taking full advantage of the opportunity to talk about Scotland’s relationship with the EU and what your MEPs do, in addition to debunking some of the most popular myths coming up on the doorsteps. With that in mind, I’m pleased to release a slightly abridged edition of The Wee BLEU Book, exclusively for iScot magazine. If you know someone who missed out, the downloadable pdf and online version are still available at scotlandineurope.eu

First published in iScot June 2016

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The Wee BLEU Book - coming soon!

This month’s iScot piece is coming to you from a quiet Scotrail service winding its way back to Edinburgh. To my left, a delegate dozes against the window, his arms folded over a clutch of buttercup yellow badges. Across the table, a teenage girl is opening Snapchat after Snapchat of speeches, cheers, laughter, someone asking for a loan of a Yousaf Tae Vote For Humza t-shirt, and the unmistakable sound of Angels sung by Mhairi Black, an MP just a handful of years older than she is.

Published in iScot April 2016

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Lies, damned lies, and stories about the EU

I’ve been doing this job for 12 years, so I’d like to think I’m fairly immune to the wacky EU tales from the more Eurosceptic sections of the British media, brought about by misunderstanding or mischief. But every so often something comes along that causes genuine alarm and I take umbrage to it. For instance, my office has recently received emails from good, decent folk who read a story in the press recently that says that holidaymakers in Greece risk being criminalised if they rescue a struggling migrant from the water.

Let me be absolutely clear on this. There is, categorically, no intention to criminalise the many decent people who have been modern-day Good Samaritans on the beaches of Greece – including my own colleague Humza Yousaf.

Published in iScot March 2016

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Forget the Tory infighting at Westminster and focus on the benefits of EU membership for Scotland

There's the old joke about the American tourist lost in Ireland, who asks a local for directions to be told: “Ach bejaysus, if I was going to Tipperary I wouldn’t start out from here”. Right there, that’s how I feel about this EU Referendum. We didn’t ask for it, we certainly didn’t want it right after the Holyrood election, and even the way it is playing out is pretty unappealing, with the echoes of Project Fear unmistakable to a Scottish ear. “A plague on both your houses” is an entirely rational response.

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First published in The National, 14 June 2016

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Brexit poses a real threat to Scotland so we must ensure big voting turnout

I’m excited to start a weekly column in The National. Two things motivate my politics: anger at the gross unfairness that engrained poverty holds so many of us back; and Scotland in the world, the country we could be, making a real difference beyond our shores.

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First published in The National, 7 June 2016

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Voice from Europe: Emergency and Exodus

2015 was the year we recognised Syria as the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era. In January, the EU stepped up its assistance in humanitarian funding and led international efforts to provide aid to Syria and its neighbouring countries. Over three million Syrians have fled the bloody internal conflict and we need a political solution, not air strikes, to make Syria a safe place for her people.

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Published in iScot magazine January 2016

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Islamic State was born in Iraq - our last misguided Middle Eastern military campaign

So after all the rhetoric and spin, despite 97% of Scotland's representatives voting against, Scotland is again involved in what I believe to be a misguided military adventure in the Middle East. I fear for the future, there and here, and I struggle to see much cause for optimism. The stated aim of the intervention, to tackle the odious gathering of psychopaths, misogynists and gangsters which calls itself the Islamic State will I fear prove entirely counterproductive.

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First published in The Sunday Herald, 18 October 2015

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We must act to halt rights violations in Bangladesh

IN this year, alone, at least four atheist bloggers have been murdered by machete-wielding attackers in the south-central Asian country of Bangladesh. Most recently, Faisal Arefin Dipan, a secular publisher was hacked to death and three other people, also bloggers and publishers, were severely injured in two separate attacks. The outbreak of violence has sparked protests in Dhaka. Hundreds took to the streets against perceived government inaction; writers and publishers set fire to books in protest.

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First published in The National, 23 November 2015

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After Rabin: What can EU do on Israel-Palestine

From a European perspective, it seems that both Israelis and Palestinians have lost hope.

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Published in EU Observer 5 November 2015

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The uprising has been building for years, waiting for a lit fuse

Amid all the horror in Syria and Iraq, I fear that we are on the brink of another conflagration in a much older conflict. What is all the more tragic is that the violence erupting in Palestine and Israel is so utterly foreseeable to anyone minded to look.

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First published in The Sunday Herald, 18 October 2015

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