Presiding Officer can take pride in a legacy of reform

The current term at Holyrood will be the last for one of the parliament’s most prominent and respected members. Tricia Marwick, the presiding officer, has announced that she will stand down as an MSP at next May’s elections. The Mid Fife and Glenrothes MSP was one of the original 129 members of the reconvened Scottish Parliament…

Queen’s Speech sets out Tories’ new blue-collar conservatism

When Napoleon described the English as “a nation of shopkeepers” some among their number took the barb to heart. For the aristocracy and the radicals, commerce was long a common enemy, at once vulgar and elitist. It is why the upper classes and the liberal intelligentsia despised Margaret Thatcher, the social-climbing daughter of a grocer…

Not another one of those columns about why Labour lost

This is not, I promise, one of those columns. You know the ones I’m talking about. You’ve seen a dozen of them quoted on Twitter in the past fortnight. You’ve probably read at least two or three. You may even have written one. “Labour lost because it was too left”. “Labour lost because it was…

Jim Murphy’s departure alone will not save Scottish Labour

It’s been a right mad few months in Scotland, hasn’t it? The SNP, a mere 80 years into its existence, brought the 300-year-old Union between Scotland and England to the brink of destruction. Then the most successful Scottish politician in a generation, Alex Salmond, managed to lose the referendum to the massed forces of Johann…

The SNP’s Mhairi Black talks about her first few days at Westminster

Amid the 56 SNP MPs descending on Westminster this week, one is standing out from the crowd. Mhairi Black sent shockwaves through the political establishment last Thursday when she ousted shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander. In doing so, she turned a 17,000 Labour majority into a 6000 edge for the Nationalists in Paisley and Renfrewshire…

The British political class returns to business as usual

That the Union is living through perilous days is all but undetectable here in Westminster. Not a week since the air was thick with talk of coalitions, the only coalition in town is the one between David Cameron and his backbenchers. The SNP MPs sent down to “hold Westminster’s feet to the fire” are busy…

Victories for the true believers but what about the dreamers?

“This is a victory for the true believers.” Paul Keating so described his Labor government’s improbable triumph in the 1993 Australian election, which had been trailed by commentators and pollsters as “unloseable” for the centre-right Coalition. Calculating pragmatism brought Keating success over an ideologically lazy opposition whose leader spoke to his grassroots but could not…

The woman who melted Jamie Ross’s heart

It was a tragic quest that could only really end in futility and failure. Ahab had his whale, Don Quixote his windmills, Fox Mulder his vast conspiracy between the CIA, alien shape-shifters, and that black oil they never really explained. For Jamie Ross, it was Solero Woman. Back during the 1999 Scottish Parliament election campaign,…