There’s more than one way to be a proud Scot

It’s been five days since I learned that my country wasn’t normal. It had never occurred to me there was anything strange or deficient about us, save for the national football team and the relentless career of Elaine C Smith. Then, last Wednesday, I sat in the press gallery of the Scottish Parliament for theContinue reading “There’s more than one way to be a proud Scot”

Sturgeon works her outrageous magic on bewitched Nationalists

‘Independent’ was the 27th word of Nicola Sturgeon’s conference speech and, in essence, the other 4,579 words too. Addressing a bulging crowd at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, she trilled that Auld Reekie was ‘soon to be, we hope — and how good does this sound? — the capital city of an independent Scotland’. So,Continue reading “Sturgeon works her outrageous magic on bewitched Nationalists”

How to watch First Minister’s Questions (if you must)

The best way to follow First Minister’s Questions, if you really must, is the Marra method. Simply tune out the dull maundering from the frontbenches and those behind until all you can hear is Jenny Marra. The Labour MSP provides a rollicking running commentary to every excuse, fabulism and self-justification. The BBC should offer itContinue reading “How to watch First Minister’s Questions (if you must)”

More smoke and mirrors than a Bonnie Tyler video

It was when she tried to dragoon Abraham Lincoln into an argument for secession that Nicola Sturgeon lost the room. ‘With public sentiment nothing can fail,’ she quoted. ‘Without it, nothing can succeed.’ The cackling that greeted her audacious attempt to appropriate history’s most famous unionist summed up the reaction to her ministerial statement. IfContinue reading “More smoke and mirrors than a Bonnie Tyler video”

I’ll grieve for my friend Lyra… and the stories she’ll never get to tell

Lyra McKee was five feet in height but no one ever managed to measure her courage. The 29-year-old grew up a Catholic in North Belfast, fought for LGBT rights in a deeply traditional country, and used her journalistic talent to pursue the powerful and bring their misdeeds to light. She had the mettle of menContinue reading “I’ll grieve for my friend Lyra… and the stories she’ll never get to tell”

SNP still isn’t talking to fearties and Braveheart backsliders

Nicola Sturgeon will set out her thinking on independence after Easter. It is probably too much to hope that she’s changed her mind. The SNP leader does this every few months. Separatists get restless, she promises liberation just around the corner; but when they get there ‘the fog of Brexit’ still hasn’t lifted. This isContinue reading “SNP still isn’t talking to fearties and Braveheart backsliders”

How the devocrats seized Scotland

Devolution was a plodding term for an exhilarating idea: 300 years since the Scots Parliament closed its doors, Scotland would again have its own legislature — without having to leave the Union that had brought it prosperity and security. Powers over health, education, justice and finance would be transferred from Westminster to Holyrood and, advocatesContinue reading “How the devocrats seized Scotland”

Outcomes must matter most if NHS ailments are to be remedied

We will try to get through this week’s column without mentioning the B-word. Not because our relations with Europe aren’t important but because other things are important, too. Politicians, journalists and party activists may be glued to Sky News and Twitter for the latest chat on meaningful votes and Malthouse compromises but many voters haveContinue reading “Outcomes must matter most if NHS ailments are to be remedied”

The melancholy eyes and drooping jowls of a Basset hound

An unseasonally sunny day at Holyrood found MSPs in a breezy, end-of-term mood. Parliament goes into recess next week, or rather Brexcess, for the Presiding Officer has warned he’ll recall members in the unlikely event things don’t go to plan at Westminster and we find ourselves on the brink of no-deal Brexit. In which case,Continue reading “The melancholy eyes and drooping jowls of a Basset hound”

No April Fools — imagine Corbyn and Sturgeon running Britain

I don’t know about you but I’ve about had my fill of politics. I write about this horrific racket for a living but even I have been worn down by the tedium, the inertia, the grandstanding, the sanctimony and the self-serving careerism on display at Westminster. Last Friday was supposed to be Brexit’s big openingContinue reading “No April Fools — imagine Corbyn and Sturgeon running Britain”