Some St Andrew’s Day thoughts on Scotland and Scottishness

“St Andy’s Day.” The tabloids and the First Minister have rechristened the national feast day in honour of Andy Murray. The tennis powerhouse clinched the Davis Cup for Great Britain at Flanders Expo on Sunday. It marks the first title win for the national team since 1936 and the 28-year-old was understandably elated, posing for…

George Osborne is all clichés and crossed fingers

Did you force the Chancellor to U-turn on cuts to tax credits? If not, you evidently didn’t try hard enough. Among those who have claimed credit so far are Corbynites, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru. Don’t buy the spin. The credit goes to the House of Lords, Conservative backbenchers, the…

Forget Trident. Syria is the security test for the SNP

The leader of the opposition has been making life difficult for the government again. After providing details of the strategic defence and security review, the Prime Minister was grilled on cuts to manpower, hardware and bases and lambasted for his 2010 decision to scrap the entire Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft fleet at a cost of…

The National supports independence for everything except itself

The National loves Scotland. In fact, it loves Scotland so much it spells its own name with a map of the country in place of the letter “i”. A patriotic touch, to be sure, but it does give the unfortunate impression that the paper is called the Nat Onal. The pro-independence daily marks its first…

What next for Politician of the Year Nicola Sturgeon?

Nicola Sturgeon is one year into her premiership and six months away from her first election. In the hyperactive world of Scottish politics, it’s easy to forget that the First Minister has no mandate from the country. Unlike Gordon Brown, this is not because she is too frit to face them; the only thing she…

The economic case for independence is dead? Good riddance.

Independence is dead. Long live independence. The economic case for a Scottish breakaway from the UK has been mortally wounded – by no less a figure than Alex Salmond’s former head of policy. “The dream shall never die,” Mr Salmond assured us but his own right-hand man has beaten it to death with a shovel…

How to be a Western liberal in an age of terror

Nous sommes tous les Parisiens. Je t’aime Paris. #IStandWithFrance. Millennials are coming to terms as only we can with an attack on our own. The shootings and bombings that ripped through the French capital on Friday night targeted trendy restaurants and music venues. We were Charlie in January but our hearts weren’t really in it….

Scottish self-pity proves Sandi Thom has flowers in her head

Sandi Thom is quitting the music industry. It’s a bit like me announcing the end of my edible thong modelling career. The ersatz hippie chick had precisely one hit nine years ago and, save for being caught up in an expenses row over Scottish Government sponsored events in 2009, hasn’t done much else of note….

Scotland Bill fulfils The Vow but not promises of home rule

Substantial new powers are coming to Scotland. This fact no Nationalist demagogue can inveigh away. The Scotland Bill, approved by the Commons on Monday night, means Holyrood’s permanence will be enshrined in the constitution and MSPs will get the power to set income tax rates and bands, as well as significant welfare powers and control…

Kezia Dugdale finds her voice in powerful speech

Kezia Dugdale has the best job and the worst job in Scotland. She is the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, a torment even Torquemada would have backed away from. Dugdale’s thirties will be spent performing CPR on a party that will likely slip into a coma anyway. In return, she gets a nice mention…

#ScotLab15 conference diary: Welcome to the new old Labour Party

Scottish Labour gathered in Perth this weekend for a conference of firsts. It was the first since Kezia Dugdale succeeded Jim Murphy (all the feels) as leader. It was also Jeremy Corbyn’s first as Comrade Number One of the UK party and he seemed to enjoy it, regaling delegates with tales of socialist sunshine and…