THERE’S been much said in Scotland lately about fishing, and how, potentially, Brexit might make the position of the fishing sector better. Tory politicians have even tried to pretend that if you’re pro-fishing you’re pro-Brexit, but this is just a typically cynical stunt and, sadly, the reality is far more complex. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is, rightly, disliked by many people, and SNP MEPs from Winnie Ewing in 1979 to Ian Hudghton who currently sits on the Fisheries Committee, and myself, have called for it to be scrapped. But that does not mean leaving the EU, and MEPs have won significant reforms lately.
First published in The National, 18 May 2017Read more
LIKE many, I was delighted by the result in the local elections seeing so many hard-working folk elected to positions of real responsibility in the service of their communities. It was great to see. But there was also the result over the weekend from France, where Centrist Emmanuel Macron won a decisive victory over the Front National’s Marine Le Pen in the French Presidential election, 66 per cent to 34 per cent. Good news for Europe, bad news for the fascists, even if the fact they were in the second round at all should give us pause. But a win is a win is a win, and after the seemingly endless gut punch that was 2016, we can be forgiven for focusing on a bit of cheery news for a change.
First published in The National, 10 May 2017Read more
I’M trying to not allow this column be a weekly wail about Brexit, but it is difficult to find many chinks of light in the fog, and, except for campaigning, I’m doing little else. I’ve noticed in the last few weeks that the penny does seem to have dropped for some Brexiteers, and they have ramped up their rhetoric accordingly, trying to kid people that the EU is the enemy.
First published in The National, 4 May 2017Read more
THIS column comes to you from Taipei. Taiwan is looking to win more allies in the EU, and I’m here for a three day trip, meeting the President and Ministers with a Foreign Affairs Committee delegation. Historically, Taiwan’s most important relationship is with the USA, but they’re increasingly looking towards the EU as troubles in the region move up a notch and we see dangerously unstable characters gambling recklessly as the world looks on agog.
First published in The National, 19 April 2017
I’VE been doing politics a long time but I can’t recall navigating such an angry political environment. Some days it feels like the air is bubbling away with little pockets of fury. Even during the aftermath of the 2014 referendum, there was more hurt and less fury. But perhaps that’s because the 45 percent who voted for Scottish independence were still represented, via the Scottish Government, independent-leaning publications such as The National, and a sense that this energy would be focused into something more positive.
First published in The National, 5 April 2017Read more
“It feels like a death.”
“Is that it?”
"What a mess"
“How can they STILL not know what they want?”
Crammed into my own office with a crowd of fellow MEPs on Wednesday, watching the UK Prime Minister trigger Article 50, I realised the damage Brexit has done to any credibility the UK Government had. Appropriately for a process so reliant on a trigger, many of my colleagues see the Brexit mess as akin to blowing your brains out in order to lose weight.
First published in the Sunday Herald, 2 April 2017
PROBABLY today, we will see Theresa May commence the triggering of Article 50. This unprecedented action will begin the countdown on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the culmination of years of nagging and low-level rebellion by – primarily – Tory backbenchers.
First published in The National, 29 March 2017Read more