Tunisia shows there is no opting out of struggle against Islamism

The grammar of 21st century terrorism is depressingly familiar by now. First comes the outrage: Innocents savagely cut down going about their lives. Then the reaction, as politicians emote, 24-hour news speculates, and viewers gasp at the brazen, bloody theatrics. We move quickly onto the clichés. “They hate us for our freedom.” “Terrorism is caused…

The speech Nicola Sturgeon could give to put an end to cybernats

I am writing this from a coffee shop in Edinburgh. Half the people in the room are tapping away on laptops, smartphones or tablets. Who knows what they’re doing. Some might be emailing clients. Others will be checking Facebook. At least one might be updating a Tumblr dedicated exclusively to Photoshops of Jim Murphy as…

Watching Scottish Labour fade away made for awkward viewing

Never speak ill of the dead, our mothers instructed us, and I suppose that taboo extends to the dying. But those shuffling off this mortal coil are encumbered by no such niceties. Indeed, they can be vicious, lashing out frantically at everyone else, dreading the looming inevitable. Scottish Labour is raging against the dying of…

Civic or ethnic nationalist: Can you pass the Quidditch Test?

There are two questions which, unlikely as it seems, go to the heart of Scottish nationalism today. Question One: Is JK Rowling Scottish or English? If your answer to our first question is “Scottish”, you are probably a civic nationalist. Your framework of belonging is inclusive and dependent on choice and geography rather than heritage. If,…

Labour is the Hiroo Onoda of Scottish politics

World War II didn’t actually end in 1945, you might be surprised to learn. Japan’s aggression against the Allied Forces in fact ceased on March 11, 1974. Or at least it did for Hiroo Onoda, a second lieutenant in the Imperial Army, who finally surrendered on that day. Onoda spent 29 years cut off from…

Leadership contest shows Labour needs to get serious

The Labour Party goes through bouts of introspection. At these times, which inevitably follow electoral reversal, Labour throws all its energies into internal dispute. It was famously said of the Left in the 1980s that they “refused to compromise with the electorate”. Doctrinal purity or factional harmony has all too often taken precedence over winning…

Jim Murphy hands Scottish Labour a chance to rebuild

Every pundit in Scotland knows what ails the Labour Party and the prescription for its malaise. We’ve written many columns and monopolised hours of airtime telling you so. On Saturday, Jim Murphy took his turn to lay out a framework for reforming Scottish Labour and electing a new leader and deputy leader. He did so…

What is Scottish nationalism, what is it not, what could it be?

Half the country thinks it’s a cult, the other half is chugging down the Kool-Aid. The SNP is a political and cultural phenomenon sweeping away the old certainties of British politics, enthusing and enraging in equal measure as it goes along. As things stand, the Nationalists are the majority government at Holyrood, the third party…

Swinney comes out swinging in stand-in FMQs joust

John Swinney was one of the best leaders of the SNP in decades. Nothing will dissuade me from this view. Not the party’s mediocre electoral performance during his tenure (down one MP and eight MSPs). Not his failure to unite the gradualist and fundamentalist wings. Not even his role in the departure from the party…

Next Labour leader needs to win back England, not Scotland

We Scots are a pretty self-involved bunch when it comes to politics. The independence referendum had world leaders pleading for us to stay part of the UK. The general election saw international media descend on the country they assured us was about to hold the balance of power in the House of Commons. Scotland, its…

Charles Kennedy embodied a decency all too rare in politics

You will be hearing the word ‘decent’ a lot today. That is to be expected. How else to describe a man so essentially good. A politician who stood on principle and reminded a cynical public that politicians still could. Charles Kennedy, who has died aged 55, led the Liberal Democrats for just over six years…