For a lot of people, Brexit remains a far away exercise that isn’t going to affect them, or if it will, it’s not clear yet. But in case I needed a reminder that I’m working on real life issues, I can count on my inbox to let me know, as people get in touch desperately looking for reassurance that things will somehow be alright. One such message was from Sam. Sam is 61, loves his dog and, before he got sick and needed dialysis, was a regular member of his local football team. Now Sam is worrying about whether he’ll be able to get his kidney medication after Brexit, because the UK Government has yet to confirm a reliable, strong plan for managing the supply of prescription drugs and the press is full of stockpiling stories.
First published in The National, 13 September 2018Read more
WITH the return from recess of Holyrood and Westminster, all three of Scotland’s Parliaments are now back in business, and the contrast in the three could not be starker. I always stress to folk that recess does not mean holiday, but it is a chance, for me, to stay in one place for a while, recharge the batteries and try to take stock of what we want to do in the coming weeks and months.
First published in The National, 7 September 2018Read more
The next few weeks and months are going to be the Brexit endgame, and we need to keep our eyes on the prize and not be distracted by the industrial scale amounts of chaff the opposition are going to throw out.
Scotland’s best future will come with independence, and the best route to that future is to ensure that EU membership is front and centre of our proposition. Short of that, stopping Brexit for the whole of the UK is in our interests, but in this column I’ll try to pin down some of the myths that some folk seem to be keen on spreading about Scotland and the EU.
First published in The National, 30 August 2018Read more
THE fight against Brexit has seen the best and worst of people, of all politics and none, but it has also been two years of tooth grinding frustration that sometimes boils over. It did in Edinburgh last weekend with the “People’s Vote” campaign for a second EU referendum public meeting and the reaction of some folks to some of the things that were said.
There’s no good Brexit. Any Brexit in any form is going to hurt real people in the real world for no gain whatsoever. To be clear on my own view: there’s no Brexit that makes independence more likely.
First published in The National, 25 August 2018Read more
Schoolchildren were once taught that we had built an Empire upon which the sun never set. The world was so simple back then. Now we have to consider complicated things like rights and tariffs and balances of responsibility.
Empire’s legacy is not one of triumph, and it’s to our shame that we continue to draw a khaki curtain over our role in messing up the Middle East, unable or unwilling to shoulder the responsibility for our actions. The Sykes-Picot and the Balfour Declaration are not ancient history, nor was decolonisation.
First published in The National, 16 August 2018Read more
IMAGINE an alternate universe, one very much like ours in shape, form and society but for one key difference – in it, a vocal minority are obsessed with hating yoghurt. Yoghurt, they would say, is the source of all evil, a rotted milk derivative hell-bent on depriving our people of decent, solid food. They would link every ill back to yoghurt, smash up dairies and flood social media with anti-yoghurt tirades.
If they were vocal enough, and organised enough, and easily manipulated, you can bet your last penny that in this alternative universe Boris Johnson would try to ride their coattails to power, no matter what they stood for.
First published in The National, 09 August 2018Read more
"WE’LL just revert to WTO terms!” shriek the Brexiteers when challenged that the EU stuff is a bit complex. I’ll let you into a secret: anyone saying that clearly doesn’t understand what they’re talking about and should be quarantined as a dangerous fool.
Scotland’s best interests are emphatically to stay in the EU, but lets look at the reality of WTO membership. If you didn’t like Brussels, wait till you meet Geneva!
First published in The National, 2 August 2018Read more
IN the crazy times we’re enduring it is sometimes difficult to come up with a useful contribution to make to the debate each week, so much is so unclear. But this week I want to try to take a kick at one of the most damaging myths which seems to be emerging: that a no-deal Brexit is somehow a realistic or desirable option. Sadly, we need to go back and examine what “no deal”, “deal” and “Brexit” actually mean, because a lot of folk seem awfy confused.
First published in The National, 25 July 2018Read more
This week’s psychodramas are just the latest distractions from a raggedy, moth-eaten plan that, staggeringly, nobody has even checked will work. But the world is moving on, and if you’re looking for some good news, the Irish Government has launched its candidature for election to the UN Security Council for the 2021-22 mandate.
First published in The National, 12 July 2018.Read more
THE EU isn’t exciting, on the face of it. It’s a thoughtful, procedure-heavy organisation with lots of checks and balances. It is about process and accountability, not drama and flamboyance. That makes it easy for anti-EU organisations and individuals to jump in and misinterpret what’s going on.
So, in the spirit of adventure, I’m going to take something that folk have been emailing me about, and use it as a primer for how the EU works. After all, everyone loves the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, right?
First published in The National, 06 July 2018Read more