Watching Scottish Labour fade away made for awkward viewing

Never speak ill of the dead, our mothers instructed us, and I suppose that taboo extends to the dying. But those shuffling off this mortal coil are encumbered by no such niceties. Indeed, they can be vicious, lashing out frantically at everyone else, dreading the looming inevitable. Scottish Labour is raging against the dying ofContinue reading “Watching Scottish Labour fade away made for awkward viewing”

Civic or ethnic nationalist: Can you pass the Quidditch Test?

There are two questions which, unlikely as it seems, go to the heart of Scottish nationalism today. Question One: Is JK Rowling Scottish or English? If your answer to our first question is “Scottish”, you are probably a civic nationalist. Your framework of belonging is inclusive and dependent on choice and geography rather than heritage. If,Continue reading “Civic or ethnic nationalist: Can you pass the Quidditch Test?”

Labour is the Hiroo Onoda of Scottish politics

World War II didn’t actually end in 1945, you might be surprised to learn. Japan’s aggression against the Allied Forces in fact ceased on March 11, 1974. Or at least it did for Hiroo Onoda, a second lieutenant in the Imperial Army, who finally surrendered on that day. Onoda spent 29 years cut off fromContinue reading “Labour is the Hiroo Onoda of Scottish politics”

Leadership contest shows Labour needs to get serious

The Labour Party goes through bouts of introspection. At these times, which inevitably follow electoral reversal, Labour throws all its energies into internal dispute. It was famously said of the Left in the 1980s that they “refused to compromise with the electorate”. Doctrinal purity or factional harmony has all too often taken precedence over winningContinue reading “Leadership contest shows Labour needs to get serious”

Jim Murphy hands Scottish Labour a chance to rebuild

Every pundit in Scotland knows what ails the Labour Party and the prescription for its malaise. We’ve written many columns and monopolised hours of airtime telling you so. On Saturday, Jim Murphy took his turn to lay out a framework for reforming Scottish Labour and electing a new leader and deputy leader. He did soContinue reading “Jim Murphy hands Scottish Labour a chance to rebuild”

What is Scottish nationalism, what is it not, what could it be?

Half the country thinks it’s a cult, the other half is chugging down the Kool-Aid. The SNP is a political and cultural phenomenon sweeping away the old certainties of British politics, enthusing and enraging in equal measure as it goes along. As things stand, the Nationalists are the majority government at Holyrood, the third partyContinue reading “What is Scottish nationalism, what is it not, what could it be?”

Swinney comes out swinging in stand-in FMQs joust

John Swinney was one of the best leaders of the SNP in decades. Nothing will dissuade me from this view. Not the party’s mediocre electoral performance during his tenure (down one MP and eight MSPs). Not his failure to unite the gradualist and fundamentalist wings. Not even his role in the departure from the partyContinue reading “Swinney comes out swinging in stand-in FMQs joust”

Next Labour leader needs to win back England, not Scotland

We Scots are a pretty self-involved bunch when it comes to politics. The independence referendum had world leaders pleading for us to stay part of the UK. The general election saw international media descend on the country they assured us was about to hold the balance of power in the House of Commons. Scotland, itsContinue reading “Next Labour leader needs to win back England, not Scotland”

Charles Kennedy embodied a decency all too rare in politics

You will be hearing the word ‘decent’ a lot today. That is to be expected. How else to describe a man so essentially good. A politician who stood on principle and reminded a cynical public that politicians still could. Charles Kennedy, who has died aged 55, led the Liberal Democrats for just over six yearsContinue reading “Charles Kennedy embodied a decency all too rare in politics”

Presiding Officer can take pride in a legacy of reform

The current term at Holyrood will be the last for one of the parliament’s most prominent and respected members. Tricia Marwick, the presiding officer, has announced that she will stand down as an MSP at next May’s elections. The Mid Fife and Glenrothes MSP was one of the original 129 members of the reconvened Scottish ParliamentContinue reading “Presiding Officer can take pride in a legacy of reform”