Nordic-inspired Newton Rooms will equip our experts of the future

WE talk a lot about the unspoiled beauty of the Highlands, the villages and crofts, the Neil Gunn museum and the kind of scenery that would make Walter Scott bite his pen in two. But the Highlands aren’t there as a kind of unspoiled garden sanctuary that we can forget about until we want to visit whenever we deem fit, like Louis the Sun King.

In our interconnected, fast-paced world, we need to equip our young folk with the skills they need to succeed, and for STEMD (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and Digital) subjects, that often requires access to top-of-the-range equipment. 

For folk in some of the more rural areas of Scotland, that can be a bit tricky. So we look to our neighbours and friends across the water for inspiration. 

The National header

First published in The National, 19 July 2017

Read more

The life of Simone Veil is a reminder of why the EU was brought into being

In front of the European Parliament stands the Simone Veil Agora, a public space named after a true giant of European politics. Holocaust survivor, former president of the European Parliament and an utterly fearless champion of women’s rights – her passing a fortnight ago leaves Europe much poorer.

National header

First published in The National, 12 July 2017

Read more

Be warned: if the cyber extremists win then all of Scotland loses

The first step to solving a problem is to acknowledge one exists. I’m concerned about how politics and current affairs are discussed and debated online - worldwide and across the UK if it comes to it - but I think we need to do a few things differently in Scotland. The technological changes we’re currently going through in terms of how people access and process information about the world around us is unprecedented, similar only to the development of radio and TV mass media but much more powerful even than them.

Sunday Herald

First published in The Sunday Herald, 9 July 2017 

Read more

We need to get the Brexit fantasists in check – and that includes Corbyn

LAST week was, in some ways, quite a big week in the twists and turns of Brexit. The anniversary of the vote not long past, I was tickled to have so many folk wishing me a happy Sherkaleg day, the anniversary of my own speech in response to the vote. A year on, yet even after so much heartache we’re all barely further forward. 

National header

First published in The National, 5 July 2017

Read more

Brexit's toxic legacy of hate imperils our hard-won freedoms

I've been thinking lately on how people across Europe felt in the early 1930s as they watched events around them and in faraway places with unfamiliar names. Of course, they were unaware of the future so could not imagine the horrors ahead. But would they have done anything differently? Or would most folk just have done what they did, put it all out of their minds and get on with their lives as best they could? Replace Pastor Niemöller’s “First they came for the socialists and I did not speak out, for I was not a socialist …” with Syrians, or refugees, or sick, poor or disabled, or immigrant, and you get my idea. Solidarity is all encompassing or it doesn't exist. 

Sunday Herald header

First published in The Sunday Herald, 2 July 2017

Read more

The National Roadshow in Caithness: A community well aware of its history

There's a tremendous sense of community in Caithness – not the kind of dusty, vague “community” that only exists in speeches and faded newsprint, but a tangible, breathing, vibrant community that looks around, rolls up its sleeves and does what needs to be done. 

National header

First published in The National, 30 June 2017

Read more

Credit where it’s due – it’s EU that has ended mobile roaming charges

ONE of the few good news stories to emerge from the UK’s decision to leave the EU is that people have started to engage with European politics in a more active way. I admit this is ironic but it means that for the first time people are aware of developments in the EU beyond that being covered by the major news outlets.

National header

First published in The National, 28 June 2017

Read more

As the UK loses all goodwill, it's important that Scotland projects a positive vision of itself to Europe

Today, the anniversary of the EURef, it seems as good a time as any to reflect on what was a rollercoaster year.

National header

First published in The National, 23 June 2017

Read more

We need EUref2 at the end of the Brexit process

SINCE June 23 last year, it is safe to say we’ve had quite a ride. As the anniversary of the votes to remain within the EU, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and leave the EU, in England and Wales, looms, I think we are closer than ever to seeing that the circle cannot be squared and the penny has to drop.

The National

First published in The National, 14th June 2017.

Read more

Accepting 'no deal rather than a bad deal' with the EU would be catastrophic for the UK

Assuming you have not already voted by post, in two days you have a choice to make – who will best represent you in the Westminster Parliament during the most crucial period in politics in these islands since the Second World War. I hope you’ll vote SNP, and I’m going to outline who we’re up against and who might be deciding our futures if you don’t. 

National Header

First published in The National, 6 June 2017

Read more