YOU could be forgiven for thinking that the big news this week was the UK Budget. Certainly enough of the commentariat gleefully went back to something other than the Brexit process story, but the Chancellor’s fantastical claim the austerity is over did not get quite enough analysis. The fact is, Scotland’s resource block grant is next year going to be almost £2 billion lower in real terms than it was when the Tories first came to power. Austerity might be over for some.
First published in The National, 2 November 2018Read more
AS an MEP, I put a lot of time into getting out and about personally. I enjoy the fact I represent the length and breadth of Scotland– and have seen most of it! I think it is an integral part of my job to be available, and as visible as I can be, so that folk can see what I’m up to.
First published in The National, 26 October 2018Read more
IN one of my speeches on Brexit at SNP Conference last week, I quoted JK Galbraith from his book The Great Crash 1929: “the end had arrived but was not yet visible”.
That is where we are with Brexit, and we all need to keep the heid. The next few weeks will have many bumps in the road and I know from my own daily experience and the emails I am getting on a regular basis there are a lot of people finding this to be a new sort of torture.
First published in The National, 18 October 2018
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