Scotland's government has announced that it will bring forward legislation to ensure that all EU nationals resident in Scotland maintain their Scottish voting rights in the event that Brexit takes place.
The measure, announced as part of the Programme for Government, builds on the existing policy of the SNP that all residents in Scotland should have the same democratic equality as their neighbours. In the referendum on Scotland's independence all EU nationals resident in Scotland had a right to vote. The Electoral Franchise Bill will also implement reforms to ensure all legal residents, from all countries, will be able to vote.
IN the last few months I’ve grown really weary of unthinking tribalism in Scottish politics. Like many SNP types, I started my political journey identifying most closely with the Labour Party. I never joined the party, as my time in Brussels and London that crystallised my view that Scotland could be better independent, but I still rejoiced at the 1997 election when Tony Blair’s Labour swept away the Tories. I joined the SNP the week after. It turns out 20 years is a long time in politics!
But I say all that to prove that I’m up for coalitions.
First published in The National, 2 August 2017
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.
First published in The National, 12 July 2017
1. The European Parliament represents all citizens of the EU and will act to protect their interests throughout the whole process in line with its resolution of 5 April 2017.
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.
First published in The Sunday Herald, 2 July 2017
Commenting on today’s vote by German MPs to legalise same-sex marriage, Alyn Smith MEP, member of the European Parliament’s LGBTI Intergroup said:
Whenever something awful happens, look for the people who run to help. All across the country, people will make up beds on their couches for strangers, shuttle injured folk to hospital when the ambulances are overstretched, and use social media to reunite children with frantic families. The world can be a cheerless, dark and frightening place, but you will always, always, always find people coming together to make it better.
First published in The National, 1 June 2017
SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has raised the plight of EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU in Brussels, saying that these rights must be agreed now before the rest of the Brexit negotiations
‘Empathy fatigue’ sounds like the kind of malaise that sits alongside Gauloises and Garbo, a dated phrase from another time. Not something you would associate with a vibrant, modern society, one more globally interconnected every day.
First published in The National, 27 April 2017
MEP Alyn Smith has welcomed the European Parliament’s formal approval of a regulation to stop the trade of conflict minerals.