Sunshine of socialism clouded by nationalism in Scotland

Jeremy Corbyn’s speeches are getting better. There is more structure, a line of thought; an editor has crashed the speechwriting staff. The Labour leader retains the unorthodox habit of speaking in complete sentences, with verbs and everything. Most politicians gave up on verbs some time ago. Troublesome little buggers, they are. They’re all about doing…

Sturgeon could return Scottish education to greatness

The General Election saw her branded “the most dangerous woman in Britain” but Nicola Sturgeon could turn out to be subversive in a way no one expected. According to reports, the First Minister is considering a bid by parents to set up a state-funded primary school outside local authority control. St Joseph’s in Milngavie has been…

SNP’s biggest conference ever poses three big questions

Three questions emerge from SNP conference 2015. Question one: What is the SNP today? Answer: Who knows. The angry and aggrieved are still there; muttering the old prejudices, their faces etched with resentment. A BBC fringe meeting turned ugly, as the Nats’ raw paranoia about the broadcaster spilled out. Elsewhere, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, a walking press…

Nicola Sturgeon is not for turning on second referendum

To watch Nicola Sturgeon address the SNP’s annual conference is to observe a leader at the height of her political prowess. They leap to their feet for her, drown even the weakest lines in rapturous applause. They are hers, like teenagers in a dreamy crush. She would never, ever break their hearts. Alone among leaders…

Scottish Greens vote to remove Hamas from terrorist list

The Scottish Greens, perhaps feeling Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was lonely out on his limb, have echoed his support for Hamas. The left-wing party passed a motion at its autumn conference in Glasgow on Saturday backing the removal of the Islamist militants from the list of proscribed terrorist groups. The motion, which runs to more…

Social justice trumps independence in Patrick Harvie speech

The Scottish Greens are in buoyant mood. The party heads into the long campaign for the 2016 Holyrood elections with more than 7000 extra members than this time last year. For those energised by the referendum but unmoved by the SNP’s pro-business centrism, the Greens have become the go-to party of radicalism and economic alternatives….

Why is Ruth Davidson not vying to be the next Tory leader?

Conference season is The X Factor for aspiring party leaders. Wannabes treat their annual speech to the grassroots as a live audition for the big gig. Whether their current leader’s coat is on a shoogly peg or, like David Cameron, he still has a few more years left in him, the backing dancers all dream…

SNP’s intolerance could blow up in its face

“I live in a rather special world,” mused Pauline Kael. “I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken.” It was 1972, a month after his re-election in a landslide, and the film critic voiced the liberal intelligentsia’s bewilderment. How could a country so obviously…

Corbyn Labour dwarfed in the shadow of Denis Healey

Denis Healey was a giant and lived in an age of giants. His name shares breath with the icons of postwar Labour: Wilson and Callaghan, Gaitskill and Castle, Crosland and Benn. One need not be a misty-eyed nostalgist to lament the absence of such big beasts from today’s parliamentary party. Healey had hinterland. He fought…