The elephant’s bad dreams

Sunday National, 28th March 2021. “Thatcher Thatcher, milk snatcher!” The former Prime Minister never quite shrugged off the soubriquet she earned in 1971 when, as education secretary in Ted Heath’s government, she decided the free market should decide whether Britain’s children got a carton of milk in the morning. Many went thirsty. When Holyrood unanimously … Continue reading The elephant’s bad dreams

What’s actually *in* the Hate Crime Bill?

Sunday National, 14th March 2021. Good, basic information can be hard to come by – particularly when things get politically heated. If you’ve been watching Holyrood this week, you can’t have missed the controversy around the Hate Crime and Public Order Bill which passed on Wednesday with cross-party support, 82 votes to 32. In the … Continue reading What’s actually *in* the Hate Crime Bill?

Why reforms to Scotland’s defamation law were long overdue

Sunday National, 7th March 2021. In Holyrood this week, much of the attention was fixed on committee proceedings in the Robert Burns room – and rightly so – but back in the main chamber on Tuesday, MSPs unanimously passed the Defamation and Malicious Publications (Scotland) Bill. In a torrid political week, you could be forgiven … Continue reading Why reforms to Scotland’s defamation law were long overdue

Understanding the legalities behind the Holyrood Committee

Sunday National, 28th February 2021. The law can be tricky to get your head around at the best of times, but for anyone trying to follow the work of Holyrood’s Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints over the last two weeks – understanding the legal context governing what witnesses can and cannot … Continue reading Understanding the legalities behind the Holyrood Committee

Victims of the horrors at St Ninians deserve our attention

Sunday National, 21st February. “The overall view I formed of St Ninian’s was depressing. The institution was established in naivety, on the basis of facile assumptions and burdensome borrowings. Brothers and staff (and visitors) included paedophiles, violent men, and inadequate teachers. It was an undesirable outpost, remote from the Order’s centre of operations in Great … Continue reading Victims of the horrors at St Ninians deserve our attention

The superpower of Scotland’s middle classes? Invisibility

Sunday National, 14th February 2021. “All my life, people have been insisting that social class is no longer relevant” Darren McGarvey says in the opening of Class Wars, a new documentary series whose first episode aired on BBC Scotland this week. Darren’s mission? To “prove to you just how entrenched social class is in Scotland.” … Continue reading The superpower of Scotland’s middle classes? Invisibility

The Douglas Ross Effect

Sunday National, 7th February 2021. A red letter day. We are, by my reckoning, some 187 days into Douglas Ross’s leadership of the Conservative Party in Scotland. In the summer of last year, Jackson Carlaw’s poll ratings was deemed both unacceptable and unsustainable by his party colleagues. His leadership criticised by colleagues as “thin-skinned” and … Continue reading The Douglas Ross Effect

Indyref2: You call this a “wildcat”?

Sunday National, 30th January 2021. On 12th of May 1998, the Tory MP Michael Ancram asked Donald Dewar a simple question. The future First Minister was explaining the logical structure of the Scotland Bill to the House of Commons, and the structure of devolved and reserved matters it would create. “The Secretary of State mentioned … Continue reading Indyref2: You call this a “wildcat”?

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from Covid-19?

Sunday National, 10th January 2021. What would you say is the most important thing you’ve learned from this pandemic? During the last ten months, this column has talked a lot about political lessons of this crisis, but today I’m thinking in more personal terms. A New Year is meant to be a new turn of … Continue reading What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from Covid-19?