Ruth’s long journey to transform the Tories starts with small steps here

Back in the old, pre-referendum Scotland, with its old, pre-referendum certainties, three things in life were unavoidable: Death, taxes, and think pieces about the future of the Scottish Conservatives. No commentator ever went hungry who could knock out 1,000 words on ‘whither the Scottish Tories’ by teatime. How had ‘the only party ever to win…

What I know about football

I was very sorry to hear of the resignation of *checks hand* Arsène Wenger from *squints* Arsenal Football Club, a popular London soccer ensemble chaired by Mr Chips ever since his retirement from Brookfield. As I had, um, temporarily forgotten who Mr Wenger was, I decided to record everything I know about the moderately attractive game. As…

Whisper it, but could Scotland live without Holyrood?

Fed up with Holyrood? Frustrated with a First Minister who jets around the globe like a head of state? Had your fill of mediocre MSPs, freedom-snatching laws and endless posturing about independence? Ukip reckons it has the answer and thinks its solution will win your vote next time round. The populist party is set to…

A smoking gun? More like a leaky water pistol, Nicola!

It was around 10 o’clock yesterday morning when a strange orb of light appeared over the summit of Arthur’s Seat. The mercury simmered to a balmy 18 degrees, Scottish Parliament catering staff wheeled a barbecue out to the garden, and sweltering MSPs cleared a freezerful of ice cream. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay sought the cooler…

Without injection of fresh initiative, prognosis for NHS looks very poor

The Sturgeon economy is taking its toll on the rest of us but there’s one job she seems committed to saving. Health Secretary Shona Robison, personal friend and political ally of the First Minister, is resisting calls to resign over an NHS cash row. Robison replaced NHS Tayside’s management team after it emerged that charity…

Why face the bitter truth when you can just blame Brexit, Nicola?

What do NHS understaffing, low growth and imitation whisky have in common? It’s something they share with a weakening of environmental protection rules, lack of teachers in our classrooms and threats to agricultural support. So too business anxiety, rising import prices and fears of mass job losses. Getting warmer? Ask yourself what unites rising inflation,…

Too few answers in this too-long question session

The 1980s was a mixed bag as decades go. There was Depeche Mode, shoulder pads, and glorious cat fights on Dynasty. Alas, there was also Phil Collins, Swatch watches, and Hi-de-Hi! But the most egregious sin of the Eighties — worse even than mullets or Arthur Scargill — was management-speak, that soulless jargon of boardroom…

Shades of Maggie as Nicola loses control of classroom

She walked into the parly like she was walking onto a yacht. A cerulean streak of polyester cut a businesslike stride to the First Minister’s seat. There enthroned she exuded the easy confidence of a star arrived on the lot, ready for her close-up, and keen to remind these B-listers why she was still top…

Putin the boot in to Comrade Alexei and his telly show

The SNP is a bit like a Russian doll. Every time you strip away a layer, you find another (usually more sinister) one underneath it. At First Minister’s Questions, Ruth Davidson tried to test the Nationalists’ unity on the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a Russian spy who defected and who Theresa May says was targeted…

Want to restore faith in Holyrood? Give voters a right of recall

MSPs will be back at Holyrood tomorrow for the start of another parliamentary week. This time all 129 of them will be there because, for the first time in almost four months, Mark McDonald will turn up too. The former childcare minister hasn’t been seen in parliament since he was suspended from the SNP amid…

That’s another fine mess Jeremy & Co have got themselves into

Dundee is the City of Discovery and Labour is learning all sorts during its conference weekend there. Early on, they announced the winners of the Keir Hardie Awards, given in honour of the party’s founder and enduring hero. Only this year they had been renamed, according to the legend beamed onto the conference backdrop, the…

Of shortbread and chauvinism

Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society, was a red-baiter of such ferocity he made Joe McCarthy look like Julius Rosenberg. There was almost no one in 1950s America Welch did not accuse of allegiance to the Soviet Union. His crusade reached its apogee as only it could with a 1958 tract naming President Dwight Eisenhower…

Munroe Bergdorf and the left’s monopoly on morality

Munroe Bergdorf has resigned as Labour’s LGBT adviser after just one week in the job. Her appointment looked quite promising until it emerged she had deployed ‘butch lezza’ as an insult, joked that she’d like to ‘gay bash’ a TV character, and described gay Tory men as ‘a special kind of dickhead’. ‘Ever find that sometimes you’re just NOT…

Sturgeon’s last stand

As the country emerges from this week’s enforced hibernation, many will be thinking ahead to a summer holiday in warmer climes. A break away from the stresses and strains of life and a chance to relax before returning to the rat race.  Those of a sensitive disposition might want to extend their sun-kissed sojourn indefinitely….

Cancelled trains? Must be virtue signalling problems

Question time at Holyrood began with a solemn statement from the First Minister.  Her tone recalled those disaster movies where the US President makes his final stoic address to the nation as an asteroid hurtles to Earth or a barrage of Kremlin warheads zeroes in on New York. She intoned: ‘Conditions such as those that…

The drugs really do work. Without them, I wouldn’t be here today

Let’s talk about depression. Last week, The Lancet published research into the effectiveness of antidepressants. The study was vast, taking in 21 drugs prescribed to nearly 120,000 patients in more than 500 trials across almost four decades. And the results? Every single medication was more effective than a placebo in treating adults with major depressive…

Justin Trudeau takes his Captain Snowflake act to India

If your week was less than fun, spare a thought for Justin Trudeau. The Canadian Prime Minister’s seven-day visit to India went down like an undercooked biriyani on the subcontinent. When he landed in New Delhi last Saturday, Trudeau was greeted on the tarmac, not by the Prime Minister or Foreign Minister but by the…

Telt! The day Mr Nice Guy snapped at Nicola

Remember that terribly progressive teacher at school? The one who insisted you call him by his first name and worried that homework might be a human rights violation?  Ken Macintosh is the trendy teacher of the Scottish Parliament. As Presiding Officer, it’s his job to keep order but he just can’t bring himself to stamp…

Bring back military service? We would need to bring back the military first

‘The British are good at paying taxes but detest drill,’ Winston Churchill once observed. ‘The French do not mind drill but avoid taxes.’ France’s president Emmanuel Macron has reminded us of the wisdom of Winnie by announcing the return of compulsory national service, 17 years after it was abolished. Les jeunes français will be obliged…

Did Jeremy Corbyn bring down the Iron Curtain?

There are two competing theories about how the Soviet Union collapsed. One holds that Ronald Reagan’s moral leadership against communism and bolstering of US defences weakened Moscow’s will and buried them economically. The other contends that Mikhail Gorbachev’s domestic reforms and wise diplomacy brought down the Iron Curtain in spite of the cowboy in the…

The SNP should reinvent itself

The SNP, you’ll be distressed to learn, are having a time of it. The party is embroiled in a deputy leadership contest that could have been designed by their worst enemies. Angus Robertson, who lost his Moray seat last June, has resigned, depriving the party of one of its most formidable and respectable advocates. His…

A rapier wit adds to the gaiety of politics but it takes more to be a leader

Jacob Rees-Mogg is everywhere at the moment. He’s on TV so much I fear the producers of Question Time have lost Nigel Farage’s mobile number. Videos of his parliamentary speeches attract hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. He even gained the respect of rivals after being jostled by far-Left protesters at a university event…

Will the SNP ever be able to govern?

There is a gloom out there. A creeping suspicion, beneath the surface in some places, voiced openly in others, that something has gone wrong. Where it can be heard it is done so in bars and coffee shops and offices and even where it isn’t you can feel it. Those who seldom discuss current affairs…

Holyrood’s latest cop drama? It’s the poor man’s Netflix

If the Police Scotland saga were a Netflix series, it would now be in its tenth season and even diehard fans would be wondering if it was time to call it a day.  The current storyline has seen Chief Constable Phil Gormley accused of multiple misconduct, go on special leave, be told he was coming…

The paranoid style in British politics

Is the Daily Telegraph front page anti-Semitic? Not intentionally, I don’t think. It is, however, an astonishingly ill-judged rocket-fuelling of a story that belongs, at best, six or seven pages in. In its rush to damn the hated Remainers, the paper has oversold a middling story, splashed in primary colours a tale better told in pastels,…

The Ten… women who were pioneers in British politics

Britain is marking the centenary of votes for women. The 1918 Representation of the People Act extended the franchise to men over 21 and women over 30. This has prompted a renewed interest in the Suffragettes who fought, and in some cases died, to secure electoral rights for women. The first thing to note is…

Scotland is paying a heavy price for the SNP’s independence obsession

Say what you like about Nicola Sturgeon but she’s consistent. Every autumn, when she sets out her programme for government, the First Minister makes the same pledge: ‘We will make it a priority to improve the educational outcomes of pupils in the most disadvantaged areas of Scotland… a targeted approach to attainment that will help…

Sinister backdrop to the War of the Luvvies

The relationship between art and politics has never been an easy one. The artist is a cultural trouble-maker by profession, illuminating the human condition in ways that upset received wisdom and inspire angst in the powerful. This is why the Church dedicated such effort to censorship and tyrants seldom brook the dissent of novelists and…

Jeremy Corbyn and his followers are in denial about his past

There are three people in every conversation about Jeremy Corbyn’s grim past. I have noticed this before but renewed interest in his paid work for Iran’s Press TV confirmed it for me. First, there’s the anti-Corbynista, who points out one outrage or another. This might be Corbyn’s ‘friends’ in Hamas and Hezbollah, his inviting a hate preacher to tea on the…

Handed a star role, he wilted like yesterday’s organic lettuce

Patrick Harvie is the eternal bit player of Scottish politics but finally he got a starring role. First Minister’s Questions was all about Nicola’s Little Helper. Earlier this week, he came to the rescue when the SNP’s Budget needed extra votes to pass its first reading.  Pliable Patrick, the nodding cucumber, is a man of…

The one where millennials don’t get Friends

All progress is war on the past and millennials are particularly merciless combatants. The arrival of Friends on Netflix UK has had this neo-Victorian generation reaching for its fainting couch. Through woke eyes, the hit NBC sitcom isn’t a diverting entertainment but an artefact of racism, sexism and homophobia. If you were a twentysomething during…

Why I love Australia

Right, so I have this random love for all things Australia. I’ve never actually been but I’m sort of obsessed with the country, the people, the politics, the culture, the idiosyncratic ways. I’m not saying I’m stalking the Commonwealth or anything but it should probably have some Vegemite handy to keep me at bay. (It’s…

It was worse than chucking out time at the Queen Vic

WILLIE: You lied! NICOLA: You’re a pathetic attention seeker! KEN: Leave it out, the pair of you! Bit early for EastEnders, I thought, checking my watch. No, this was First Minister’s Questions, from the hallowed chamber of the nation’s parliament, and Nicola Sturgeon was in the middle of a slanging match that would get her…

There’s been a murder… of open government

‘You have the right to remain silent,’ intones the detective when he finally gets his man. It’s a familiar scene from US cop shows and, from the end of the month, police in Scotland will mimic the procedure when placing suspects under arrest. If Nicola Sturgeon ever decided to pursue a criminal record — beyond…

Why has the SNP inflicted this video on us?

I don’t know where people get the idea the SNP is intolerant of criticism. Scotland’s most open-minded party has released a new video that appears to be an attack on one of its critics dressed up as a party political broadcast. The video depicts a group of thirtysomethings gathered for a house party. They are Scottish but…

Labour’s beleaguered moderates must act now before it’s too late

When is left-wing not left-wing enough? Veteran Labour organiser Ann Black is finding out the hard way. Yesterday morning, she was the respected chair of the disputes panel, the party’s internal disciplinary committee, and responsible for investigating anti-Semitism and other accusations against members. Now, she is the respected former chair, ousted in a Momentum-led coup…

Hugs and puppies? Not a chance in Nicola’s bleak Brexit forecast

The threat of another independence vote is becoming an annual tradition in the SNP calendar. It seems to come round earlier every year, bringing joy to the world of nationalism and a bleak midwinter to the rest of us. Nicola Sturgeon has again raised the spectre of Indyref2, telling Andrew Marr that she will decide…

A digital toolkit for young Tories

OMG. New Conservative chairman Brandon Lewis has announced a ‘digital toolkit’ to help young right-wingers battle the Left on social media. Lewis wants ‘more of our activists and people who support some of the principles we’re outlining… getting out there in the digital world saying so and spreading that message with us’. To that end,…

Donald Trump is the least American president in US history

As a schoolboy, George Washington transcribed 110 Jesuitical maxims later published as Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation.  In this pamphlet he counsels a regimen of behaviour so meticulous it forbids blowing on a spoonful of soup to cool it and specifies the proper method for dipping bread in sauce. Presidential…

Poorly? Just be grateful you’re not in Wales…

MSPs returned for the inaugural First Minister’s Questions of 2018, rested and refreshed over the New Year and sporting the finest in Christmas-gift fashion.  Johann Lamont snuggled under a fetching ivory woollen scarf while a radioactive tangerine tie threatened to ignite around Jackson Carlaw’s neck. Angela Constance essayed a cranberry painter’s smock that suggested a…

Facts are talking down Scotland again

The problem with exceptionalism is that sooner or later everyone wants in on it. The Romans claimed to be exceptional and none but the most contrarian observer of history would seek to refute that. The British at the height of the Empire considered themselves a uniquely bold and industrious force, settler of far-off lands, world…

Israel’s revival of the death penalty would be a grave mistake

One of the many problems with the effort to bring back the death penalty in Israel is that it never went away in the first place. Israel is only a partial abolitionist, banning the death penalty for ordinary crimes in 1954 but retaining it for war crimes and offences against the state. The last execution…