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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We’re not the good guys if we keep selling arms to Saudi Arabia

As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, I have to observe a lot of doublespeak, wilful ignorance, selective memory and sometimes outright hypocrisy, all in the name of Realpolitik or Statecraft. But sometimes we do need to sup wi’ a lang spoon and I’m no boy scout. Few things are black and white.

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First published in The National, 18 October 2015

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Why Brussels finally gets the point of Scottish independence

By the time you read this I’ll be back in Brussels, but pretty sure I’ll still be raw from the cold, bleak feeling of powerlessness as I watched my country vote to stay, and parts of England I had barely heard of vote to leave. Scotland wants to remain, that is clear. We also have an SNP government and team that will work flat out to do what’s best for Scotland.

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First published in The Sunday Herald, 18 October 2015

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Helping the desperate is our only option – if we continue as we are things will deteriorate

“WHO are you and what are you doing here?” is not really how I’m used to being spoken to when on mission, but I wasn’t going to argue with four men each with a casually slung Kalashnikov to make up for, or perhaps bring on, the lack of manners.

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First published in The Sunday Herald, 11 October 2015

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Catalunya: The people will decide

AS I write this in a pavement café in Barcelona’s Old Town, memories of the energy and energising sense of possibility crackling around Scotland last September have made my eyes a wee bit misty.

I had not even arrived in Catalunya but my excitement was building. At Charles de Gaulle airport, waiting for the Barcelona flight, the couple next to me were having a heated, but friendly exchange. Their neighbours soon joined in, and I’m not sure if my linguistic skills mislead me but I’m sure I detected a certain flirty tone too in among the banter. They swapped numbers as we were called to board.

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First published in The Sunday Herald 27 September 2015

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