Ministerial musical chairs for a government tired of governing

Reshuffles are usually dramatic – yesterday’s in Holyrood was like a bloodbath. But often they fall victim to the law of unintended consequences. In 1962, Harold Macmillan abruptly sacked his Chancellor Selwyn Lloyd and six senior ministers in a ruthless shake-up. Nicola Sturgeon upturned her ministry for similar reasons – like Macmillan’s Tories, the SNP … Continue reading Ministerial musical chairs for a government tired of governing

Public trust lies abandoned in a dark corner of the corridors of power

The breathless horror of the political class at the rise of rabble-rousing populism is matched only by a stubborn refusal to learn lessons from it. The past week has seen much wailing and gnashing of liberal teeth over Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on illegal border crossings into the United States. Italy’s far Right … Continue reading Public trust lies abandoned in a dark corner of the corridors of power

SNP will find picking a fight with David Mundell is a mistake

It was a modern-day David versus Goliath. Scottish Secretary David Mundell spent last week facing down the massed ranks of intemperate nationalism – and he did it almost single-handedly. Some say the SNP’s Commons walkout was a masterstroke. I am not so sure. How many voters saw Joanna Cherry – the phrase ‘Don’t you know … Continue reading SNP will find picking a fight with David Mundell is a mistake

Did Nicola know another word for a hummingbird’s beak? Err, no…

'Can the First Minister give us another word for a hummingbird’s beak?’ ‘Not immediately, no.' What was this? Had the Presiding Officer finally taken up my idea of turning First Ministers’ Questions into a general knowledge quiz? It's unfair expecting Nicola Sturgeon to commit facts and figures about the NHS to memory. Maybe she’d have … Continue reading Did Nicola know another word for a hummingbird’s beak? Err, no…

Sturgeon girns, spins and splurges for the faithful

They couldn't agree a slogan for the SNP's Aberdeen conference and so there were three. The branding read 'Stronger for Scotland'. Nicola Sturgeon kept telling us she was 'moving Scotland forward'. The garish-yellow lanyards were emblazoned 'We can' in a scratchy font that looked like it had been scribbled in biro at the last minute, … Continue reading Sturgeon girns, spins and splurges for the faithful

The year my uncle was murdered I learned that true evil existed

The summer my uncle was murdered was the summer I grew up. It was 2001 and reality had not yet crashed into the breezy Nineties delusion of world peace through the World Wide Web but a family in Coatbridge was about to lose its innocence.  Robert Hawker, known universally as ‘Rab’, was a devoted partner, … Continue reading The year my uncle was murdered I learned that true evil existed

Mission that will test even an ex-Marine

Keith Brown belongs to the estimable ranks of politicians to have served Queen and country in uniform. The Second World War flooded Parliament with veterans and gave us Labour hawks like Denis Healey and the retired Tory colonels so beloved of parliamentary sketch-writers. Mr Brown hails from a later wave but one no less courageous. … Continue reading Mission that will test even an ex-Marine