Sturgeonspeak: A guide to dodging tricky questions

Mairi who?  It was halfway through First Minister’s Questions when the Presiding Officer called a backbencher. The name sounded like ‘goujon’, though that might have been because lunchtime was approaching. From the din of desk-thumpers behind Nicola Sturgeon — She Who Must Be Applauded At All Times — up popped Mairi Gougeon, who it turns […]

Colin Kaepernick takes a knee in America’s culture war

American football is rugby played badly but they seem insistent on it. Place kicks and end-runs are as bound up in American identity as mom, apple pie and the flag. As such, NFL games are occasions for overt displays of patriotism that are probably benign but nonetheless unsettling to British audiences. The most ostentatious of […]

Our faith in politics vanished as dunces replaced firebrands

Sir Teddy Taylor. The name was enough to return a resounding ‘hear, hear’ from Tories and a gasp of horror from liberals. The MP for Glasgow Cathcart and later Southend East, who died on Wednesday, was the sort of politician the euphemism ‘colourful’ was invented for. He was also a man of strong, if not […]

Et tu, Alex? Day Sarwar’s ambitions were skewered

Friends, comrades, snivelling Blairite sellouts. Alex Rowley might not have come to bury Anas Sarwar but he may as well have. Whatever possessed Labour’s interim leader to launch into a jeremiad against millionaires, his well-coined would-be successor wound up with a dagger in his back. The scene was First Minister’s Questions, yesterday. Enter stage Left, […]

Let us all pray for religion. It is slowly dying as a force in public life.

It is the last taboo, a predilection indulged by a small segment of the population and looked upon with disapproval by mainstream society. In Scotland, just seven percent will admit their involvement and even then they are reluctant to talk about it. Churchgoing is a minority pursuit these days, and if you attended services yesterday […]

Nicola Sturgeon takes Brexit myth out for a spin

A rare joy of First Minister’s Questions is spotting the Toady of the Week, the Nationalist backbencher who bids to ingratiate themselves by asking Nicola Sturgeon the softest question. It’s a balancing act and all too easy to trip over your forelock as you tug it. Sometimes it’s James Dornan, the Glasgow Grunter, who confronts […]

Roald Dahl — National treasure, Nazi sympathiser

It’s Roald Dahl Day, Britain’s annual celebration of one of its most venerated children’s authors.  No family bookshelf is complete without a volume or two from the Welsh-born conjuror of juvenile joy and nightmares. Dahl understood the youthful imagination — its fierce moralism and rage against hypocrisy; the half-wonder, half-terror at these towering masses of […]

Anas Sarwar may be a bad socialist but he’s trying to be a good father

Let’s not talk about politics this week. At least not the rows and resentments at Holyrood; the ghastly business will still be there a week from now. Let’s talk about something more precious, far more difficult to negotiate. Let’s talk about love. No politics, however lofty, can match the idealism of love, especially the love […]

Alex Rowley doesn’t end sentences, he lays them to rest

‘As the Fuuurst Minnnnnister would expeccccct, I dispute the figurrrrrres for who cooooommitted to what buhhht the issue is…’ It was Alex Rowley’s debut at First Minister’s Questions. He is standing in as Labour leader while they find their seventh leader in a decade. No wonder they want to ban zero-hours contracts; it’s the only […]