Queen’s Speech sets out Tories’ new blue-collar conservatism

When Napoleon described the English as “a nation of shopkeepers” some among their number took the barb to heart. For the aristocracy and the radicals, commerce was long a common enemy, at once vulgar and elitist. It is why the upper classes and the liberal intelligentsia despised Margaret Thatcher, the social-climbing daughter of a grocerContinue reading “Queen’s Speech sets out Tories’ new blue-collar conservatism”

Not another one of those columns about why Labour lost

This is not, I promise, one of those columns. You know the ones I’m talking about. You’ve seen a dozen of them quoted on Twitter in the past fortnight. You’ve probably read at least two or three. You may even have written one. “Labour lost because it was too left”. “Labour lost because it wasContinue reading “Not another one of those columns about why Labour lost”

Jim Murphy’s departure alone will not save Scottish Labour

It’s been a right mad few months in Scotland, hasn’t it? The SNP, a mere 80 years into its existence, brought the 300-year-old Union between Scotland and England to the brink of destruction. Then the most successful Scottish politician in a generation, Alex Salmond, managed to lose the referendum to the massed forces of JohannContinue reading “Jim Murphy’s departure alone will not save Scottish Labour”

The SNP’s Mhairi Black talks about her first few days at Westminster

Amid the 56 SNP MPs descending on Westminster this week, one is standing out from the crowd. Mhairi Black sent shockwaves through the political establishment last Thursday when she ousted shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander. In doing so, she turned a 17,000 Labour majority into a 6000 edge for the Nationalists in Paisley and RenfrewshireContinue reading “The SNP’s Mhairi Black talks about her first few days at Westminster”

The British political class returns to business as usual

That the Union is living through perilous days is all but undetectable here in Westminster. Not a week since the air was thick with talk of coalitions, the only coalition in town is the one between David Cameron and his backbenchers. The SNP MPs sent down to “hold Westminster’s feet to the fire” are busyContinue reading “The British political class returns to business as usual”

Victories for the true believers but what about the dreamers?

“This is a victory for the true believers.” Paul Keating so described his Labor government’s improbable triumph in the 1993 Australian election, which had been trailed by commentators and pollsters as “unloseable” for the centre-right Coalition. Calculating pragmatism brought Keating success over an ideologically lazy opposition whose leader spoke to his grassroots but could notContinue reading “Victories for the true believers but what about the dreamers?”

The woman who melted Jamie Ross’s heart

It was a tragic quest that could only really end in futility and failure. Ahab had his whale, Don Quixote his windmills, Fox Mulder his vast conspiracy between the CIA, alien shape-shifters, and that black oil they never really explained. For Jamie Ross, it was Solero Woman. Back during the 1999 Scottish Parliament election campaign,Continue reading “The woman who melted Jamie Ross’s heart”

If Jim Murphy fails it will be because Labour is beyond saving

Jim Murphy couldn’t win his joust with Bernard Ponsonby on Wednesday night, whatever winning means in a Scotland unmoored from so many political certainties. If he had tried, he would have risked looking desperate. Pathetically straining for a game-changer in the dying days of the election campaign. No, the only thing for it was toContinue reading “If Jim Murphy fails it will be because Labour is beyond saving”

Could SNP’s best poll also be its worst? (Hint: Probably not)

I for one welcome our new Nationalist overlords. The final STV poll of the general election campaign puts the SNP on 54% to Scottish Labour’s 20%. According to one projection, these results, should they play out on May 7, would see the Nationalists win every Scottish seat. Every last one. 59-0. No single party hasContinue reading “Could SNP’s best poll also be its worst? (Hint: Probably not)”

Rejecting Labour is spurning an inheritance from our grandfathers

We all have an inheritance from our grandfathers. Some are tangible – a watch, a book, a rosary – while others are more ephemeral, like lessons learned, wisdom gifted, or fond recollections of family holidays. The stirring scent of aftershave or pipe tobacco, the taste of an old recipe, or the sound of a rust-bucketContinue reading “Rejecting Labour is spurning an inheritance from our grandfathers”