Food banks should not need to exist .... we can do better than this

IT’S that time of year again. The year 2016 has fled past us (and who can blame it?) and some good souls are already putting together their parcels for the food banks.

The National

First published in The National, 6 December 2016.

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Conflict minerals crackdown is a step towards ending this modern slavery

LIKE many people, I’ve often felt powerless in the face of powerful interests and highly complex systems that seem to be so intricate that we will never reform them for the better. But I’ve never changed my mind over the moral obligation we have to improve the lives of the world’s most desperate and vulnerable people. So last week’s news of the EU cracking down on conflict minerals is a much-needed boost in an otherwise frustrating year.

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First published in The National, 18 October 2016

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We need free and brave media to scrutinise the rise of populist politicians

You may be weary of American politics right now and feel the need to concentrate on events here at home, but we mustn’t underestimate the impact that the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States will have on global politics.

The National

First published in The National, 22 November 2016.

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Our EU neighbours seek to emulate our policy of minimum alcohol pricing

IT IS curious that so much of what has been written about the Scottish Government’s Minim Unit Pricing policy (MUP) has been portrayed as a "Scotland versus Europe" struggle. The reality is actually a long way from this, and rather more interesting.

The National

First published in The National, 15 November 2016.

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A problem of fatty food shows Brexit may genuinely be bad for our health

TRANSFATS. They may not sound sexy, and indeed they are not. But neither is heart disease and they have a large part to play in causing it. Every two per cent of energy consumed from trans-fatty acids increases your risk of a heart attack or death due to heart disease by a whopping 25 per cent, and some of our food is saturated with them.

The National

First published in The National, 8 November 2016.

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Caithness broch project is an example of community-led activism at its finest

Before we begin, I would like to make it clear that I have not received any of the near-legendary “Brocholates” sent out to journalists and trendsetters by the Caithness Broch Project, and therefore any sentiments expressed are entirely my own, uninfluenced by heritage-based confectionery.

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First published in The National, 6 September 2016

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Iran nuclear breakthrough proves EU diplomacy beats the UK's flag-waving

As I left the Foreign Affairs Committee meeting of the European Parliament alongside my Danish, French and German colleagues, I was struck by the contrast between the bumbling of Boris Johnson as the UK Foreign Secretary and the grown-up, internationalist diplomacy of the EU. My colleagues cannot believe that the UK has chosen the path it has, and frankly, neither can I.

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First published in The National, 1 November 2016

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SNP Conference did us proud!

Well, Conference, you did us proud – again! Walking through the doors of the SECC, lanyard pass tapping against my chest like a second heartbeat, the excitement in the air was palpable. It’s no secret that the Brexit referendum is exactly the kind of exceptional circumstance that could lead to another independence vote. We said once in a generation and we respected that, but that respect wasn’t returned. Our future was gambled away by a Tory Prime Minister who, spooked by the rise of Ukip, was trying to bluff his own backbenchers. Where is he now? What brave new world are these Eurosceptic grandees leading us towards? Stamp your foot hard enough and the whole floor can give way, and the UK is being led by an army of blustering armchair colonels, all waving one leg around in the air, looking for solid ground. 

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First published in the print edition of iScot magazine, November 2016.

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Big Society was thriving in Wick long before it became a political slogan

David Cameron – remember him? – talked a lot about the Big Society. Communities would come together and rebuild society from the ground up, the role of the State would diminish, and we’d see the dawning of a new, co-operative age, with ginger beer and currant buns for all.

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First published in The National, 25 October 2016

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Decisions about trade deals will have knock-on effect post-Brexit

I'm grateful for the support I received in the SNP Depute selection. While I’m disappointed not to have won the role the work goes on. I have a job to do for the party and for Scotland, a job I asked for and a job that is more important than ever.

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First published in The National, 18 October 2016

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