The last years have been a rollercoaster for the nation but also for me personally. The EU referendum was our fourth national vote in 21 months, with the energy from the 2014 independence vote still buzzing around and making the EU ref all the more other-worldly by comparison. In the last few months we have seen the worst of politics and politicians, but we have seen the best of the people of Scotland and the SNP membership.
First published in The National, 12 July 2016Read more
I had the privilege of speaking at Pride on Saturday, Edinburgh’s annual celebration of equality, always a riotous colourful shambles of happiness. But Pride is not just a celebration, it is also a protest, against inequality. A remembrance of how far we’ve come, those who went before, and those elsewhere who do not enjoy the rights we do. Scotland has been ranked as the top country in Europe for equalities by ILGA-Europe, the Brussels based LGBTI charity. We have come a long way, and we have a lot to celebrate.
First published in The National, 5 July 2016Read more
I was dreading going back to Brussels this week, but I have never had so many hugs, tears and best wishes from colleagues. I was fighting back tears myself as I reported to our political group how the campaign went. Sometimes people forget politicians are actually human beings, we’re passionate about what we do and emotional creatures like everyone else. A lot of us are still working through a sort of grief at something we all lost on June 23. Something that was taken away.
First published in The Sunday Herald, 18 October 2015Read more
"I very much appreciated the message of your First Minister to EU citizens in Scotland, as did my daughter studying at Glasgow university. Let me know how I can help Scotland.”
This a text message from a senior EU official, and the moment my own mood changed. The scale of last Thursday’s events has barely sunk in. Across the continent people are stunned, sad, horrified.
First published in The National, 28 June 2016Read more
An MEP's remit is broader than most. I, along with my SNP friend and colleague Ian Hudghton and four others jointly represent the whole of Scotland, making sure that the entire legislative output of the European Union fits Scotland's needs.
What is more remarkable is that by and large we actually manage it. But there are times when the process trips up, and last month we had a good example centred on a raccoon from Bathgate!
Published in iScot February 2016Read more
So, in just two days we will have a vote on remaining within the EU, or not, after what has been the worst campaign I’ve ever been involved in. Everything about it has been star crossed from the start, with the dreadful murder of Jo Cox MP shocking us all. I’d add my own voice to the many expressing their condolences.
First published in The National, 21 June 2016Read more
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 2016Read more
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 2016Read more
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 2016Read more
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.
First published in The National, 14 June 2016Read more