Power to the People not the Political Class
Sunday Mail, March 1st 2015
The airwaves this week have been filled with the sound of politicians crashing and burning.
Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw were caught in yet another ‘cash for access’ scandal, while on the next day, English Green leader Natalie Bennett found it impossible to offer the most basic costings of her party’s housing policies.
These instances – and the reactions of politicians and public to them – raise questions about what kind of politicians voters want to represent them. And what kind of politics. Once upon a time both parliamentarians and public felt they knew the answer to this. No longer.
People can talk about the sad state of the Westminster Parliament and the quality of debates and representatives. But there is a much deeper set of issues. If we look closer to home to the Scottish Parliament or across local government, who beyond a couple of the prominent figures in the main parties shine and connects to people? Read the rest of this entry »
Can Ruth Davidson persuade us to listen to the Scottish Tories?
Sunday Mail, February 22nd 2015
Two of Scotland’s established parties had a good independence referendum: the SNP who are now prospering in the polls and the Scottish Tories who have been gathering this weekend in Edinburgh.
For once the Tories have something to cheer about. In Ruth Davidson the party have a personable, likeable leader who is comfortable and growing into the job.
Her Conservative video released this week was another talking point – modern, relevant, human, showing her with her parents – and her partner, Jen.
There is more. On several issues the Tories have been scoring hits. Take John Swinney’s stamp duty reforms. The Tories have hit a political home run and forced the Scottish Government to retreat. Read the rest of this entry »
Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP and the Age of Anti-Austerity Politics
Sunday Mail, February 15th 2015
It has been a week filled with economic news and controversies.
There was the imploding crisis of HSBC’s secret Swiss bank accounts and tax avoidance; the on-going Greek-German Governments European stand-off which threatens the future of the entire euro zone; while Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, is getting people ready for a year of flat or even falling prices.
At the same time after years of public spending constraints and cuts, across large parts of Europe there is a widespread movement and force for anti-austerity politics. This can be seen in the rise of Syriza in Greece, the newly created popular Podemos in Spain, and – this week – in Nicola Sturgeon laying out the SNP’s position in a major London speech.
Sturgeon’s speech attracted lots of London media interest. And whether people agreed or not they took her and her agenda seriously. It was a considered and timely intervention, and seen as that by even her opponents. Read the rest of this entry »
Glasgow is not Scotland so let’s stop pretending it is
Scottish Review, February 10th 2015
Someone observing Scotland from afar could easily fall under the apprehension that all there is to the nation is Glasgow.
A Martian, or alien from another world, who had the misfortune to only follow and comprehend our country through the transmissions of BBC Reporting Scotland or STV News at Six would think that we were a strange land. They would imagine that all there was to this country was a few streets, only inhabited by men, where football and crime were the only topics of conversation and that all of this was located in Glasgow.
Glasgow is a great city. It thinks of itself, whatever its population decline, as a big city, and as a place of attitude, imagination and swagger. And one which like all big cities sees itself as bigger than it actually is, and bigger than the nation it sits in. This is explicable, for it is the attitude of Big Cities the world over, from New York to Berlin to Moscow: we even could call it the Manhattan Syndrome. Read the rest of this entry »
Scottish Labour and how the World As We Know It Turned Upside Down
Sunday Mail, February 8th 2015
The Scotland we have known has been turned upside down.
Once Scottish politics followed certain, predictable lines. Scottish Labour had become the dominant party of the land. It sent 40-50 MPs to Westminster, ran most of local government, and in huge swathes of Scotland no real opposition existed.
All empires come to an end. And so it has proven with Scottish Labour.
The party which was on the winning side of the independence referendum now finds itself facing electoral Armageddon in a few months in the forthcoming UK general election. That has been the consistent picture of national polls since last September, and now Lord Ashcroft’s constituency polls paint a bleak scenario of what once were Labour heartlands.
How has it come to this? The immediate background and explanation put by many is only part of the story. This states that Labour fought a politically inept, ill-advised campaign in the referendum. Most seriously, it is argued that it made the strategic mistake of aligning with the toxic Tories in Better Together and is now paying a heavy price. Read the rest of this entry »