THIS week, I return to Brussels after the European Parliament’s recess, but the strange feeling of being in a parallel universe continues. While I did get a few days off here and there, I stayed home, backed away from social media a bit, and caught up with meetings and paperwork. I decided to take a few weeks off from writing this column, because it seems that the Silly Season this year was even sillier than usual.
The various spats among a few self-appointed spokespeople in the Yes movement have been a sad thing to behold. Politics worldwide is in a strange place, and a lot of people are feeling anxious and frustrated. I’m one of them. So now more than ever we need to make sure that the quiet, thoughtful, sensible majority aren’t spoken over or pushed aside.
First published in The National, 30 August 2017Read more
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.
First published in The National, 19 July 2017Read more
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.
First published in The National, 30 June 2017Read more
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has today used a major European Parliament debate to remind the EU of the case for Scottish independence.Read more
TO hell with this nonsense. I thought the UK could be saved from itself, but even I have to accept that it’s now a ship speeding towards the rocks and they’re not changing course. Since the EU Referendum on June 23 it has been a daily struggle to keep cheerful, but I have been kept going by a belief that, yes, we have a challenge, but I think there are solutions, so let’s find them.
First published in The National, 14 March 2017Read more
THE days are starting to draw out, snowdrops are peeking through, the daffodils are sprouting, the trees are coming into bud, and for political anoraks up down Scotland it all means only one thing. Spring Party Conference season is upon us. Yay. The Labour Party conference kicked off last weekend and it was truly enlightening, albeit unintentionally. Like many, I was bemused by the bizarre comments from Sadiq Khan in his remarkably ill-judged remarks, but it seems Scottish Labour HQ can’t even smear us competently.
First published in The National, 2 March 2017.Read more
I WAS in Poland last week to deliver the Natolin lecture, and the place has gone from strength to strength since I was a fresh-faced Erasmus student back in 1995. We were the first year fully in Warsaw, and the air was fizzing with energy. The initial euphoria of the Berlin Wall crashing down and Poland regaining freedom from the USSR had worn off, and the hard job of building a nation was under way.
First published in The National, 31 January 2017.Read more
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has urged Scots to take advantage of a new €1.5 million fund made available by the European Commission for linking nautical routes across Europe.Read more