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
SINCE the EU referendum in 2016, I almost feel like I’ve been walking around with “Scotland voted to Remain” tattooed on my forehead and in my heart, so often am I reminding my friends, colleagues and chunks of the media of this. It’s not a clever-clever argument for Scottish-European exceptionalism – it’s just a fact, and a situation that’s in danger of being railroaded through by this zombie UK Government.
One tiny, tiny glimmer of good news is that we’ve got more people talking about the EU, discussing it, analysing it, and debating whether we can stop Brexit.
First published in The National, 11 April 2018Read more
A ROSE by any other name might still smell as sweet, but what if the price increased by 14 per cent and you had to drive 10 miles to the supermarket because your local florist had been forced to close?
While floristry is a big industry, it’s composed of many small local retailers, all of whom are in serious danger. Not that I’m advocating you rush out right now and buy a bumper bouquet for your nearest and dearest (although we could all do with getting brownie points while we can), but this is just one example of the unforeseen consequences of Brexit.
First published in The National, 4 April 2018Read more
I have done a lot of reaching out to Leave voters since the EU Referendum. Remember, Remain won, in every region of Scotland, but it was not unanimous and I have written extensively in this column about how and why. In my view, most folk who voted Leave did so on specific promises, be it public procurement, more powers for Holyrood, fishing, £350m a week for the NHS, or the prospect of giving the establishment a skelp.
First published in The National, 21 March 2018.Read more