A referendum debate that showed us at our best

STV’s Tuesday night town hall debate came down to a tie — a multicoloured disco-sticks number sported by moderator Bernard Ponsonby. The broadcaster is respected for his inscrutable neutrality and the distinctive neckwear was the one bold expression he allowed himself. Of course a tie is just a tie — though it’s good to see […]

The final ever TV debate drinking game. We promise. Maybe.

Another week, another debate. What these people still have left to disagree about is beyond me. Alistair Darling has conceded that an independent Scotland could use the pound without a currency union. And the Scottish Government agrees with its UK counterpart so much that it wants to share the currency, central bank, monarchy, welfare system […]

Salmond bested Darling but faces race against time to win voters

We join this movie at its climax. Our hero and his nemesis — we leave you to decide which is which — have just duked it out in a fast-paced, stylishly edited fight scene and return, bloody-faced and scraped-knuckled, to their respective lairs. A power-pop montage with 80s synthesisers as they pound steps, leap over […]

Salmond vs Darling debate is chance to win undecideds

This is it. Rarely do you get a second chance in politics but Alex Salmond gets one tonight in the BBC’s referendum debate with Alistair Darling. Of course, Salmond is a man accustomed to overcoming tough odds. He is leader (for the second time) of a party which once expelled him for left-wing agitation. In […]

Against complacency and despondency after referendum debate

Pitfalls of media groupthink, example no. 486. Going into STV’s live referendum debate, most journalists and commentators – this observer included – expected a clear victory for Alex Salmond. If Alistair Darling could hope for anything, it would be a close fight or a draw. Mr Salmond was a warm, engaging populist who never let […]

The Team Scotland tartan, the Scottish cringe and the indyref

Couldn’t they just go back to blowing up blocks of flats? The Team Scotland parade uniforms for the Commonwealth Games were unveiled on Sunday and confirmed Glasgow’s determination to win gold in the neck-reddening category. First Glasgow 2014 proposed an uplifting opening ceremony in which the Red Road flats would be blown to smithereens; now […]

Eyal, Gilad and Naftali — a response

How should Israel respond to the brutal murder of three schoolboys? “Proportionately,” The World says. “With restraint.” As if it is the hallmark of a civilised society that it views coolly and dispassionately the slaughter of its young. “They were illegal settlers,” say the fellow-travellers with Palestinian rejectionism. “They shouldn’t have been there in the […]

Isolationists left and right: The new doctrine of avoidance

For America, there will be no going back to the era before September 11th, 2001, to false comfort in a dangerous world. We have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength. They are invited by the perception of weakness. George W. Bush, September 2003 [1] That pull towards extremism appears to have […]

The two-state solution and its enemies

Danny Danon, the rising star of the Likud, has been brought down to Earth with a bump. After boasting during an interview with the Times of Israel that he and his fellow right-wingers in the government would block any move towards a two-state solution, the Deputy Defense Minister found himself under attack from the opposition while […]