Where are the Politics of Hope and the Country of the Future?
Sunday Mail, April 5th 2015
British politics are in a state of flux. Many of the assumptions which defined it no longer hold.
This can be seen in the Westminster political class obsession talking about process: coalitions, deals and post-election arrangements. The age of majority government is gone for now.
The two ‘big’ parties Labour and Tory are struggling with this world. That’s the logic behind the Labour slogan ‘vote SNP, get Cameron’ and the Tory message ‘vote UKIP, get Ed Miliband’.
This is a mixture of playing safety first, talking to converts and negative politics. It is a fragmented, fractured world and one on show in the TV debate of the seven leaders: Lib Dems, UKIP, Green, SNP and Plaid Cymru, joining Labour and Tory.
This is a time of uncertainty and transition. A very unBritish, non-Westminster kind of politics – more ‘Borgen’ than ‘House of Cards’, more Nordic than Anglo-American. Read the rest of this entry »
An Exchange with ‘the Economist’ on Scottish Independence
April 2nd 2015
‘The Economist’ has a problem with Scottish independence from its infamous ‘Skintland’ front cover to its editorial view and general language it chooses to use. In the last three years, it has consistently used a pejorative language to describe the Scottish independence case, moving me to write pointing this out. They did not publish my letter, but felt moved to reply attempting to rebuff my points. Read the rest of this entry »
British Politics Hung Out To Dry
Sunday Mail, March 29th 2015
A House of Commons where no one party gains an overall majority looks an increasingly likely outcome of the May election.
This has happened before, most recently in 2010, but also in February 1974; similarly, in the late 1970s and post-1992 Labour and Tory administrations respectively elected with majorities, lost them, and had to govern without them.
The outcome of the May election and the parliamentary landscape looks likely to resemble the dog days of the Callaghan and Major governments, rather than 2010 when the Tories and Lib Dems formed a coalition to have a secure majority.
A House of Commons notional majority is 326 seats. In reality 323 seats produce a majority due to Sinn Fein abstention. When no party wins an overall majority a number of scenarios are possible. Read the rest of this entry »
Time for a Future Scotland of Head and Heart: A Challenge to Independence and the Union
Sunday Mail, March 22nd 2015
Scotland for many at the moment feels an exciting place. But for others there is a sense of dismay and confusion.
The latter is particularly evident in pro-union opinion. This week, ‘The Times’ commentator Magnus Linklater agreed with William McIlvanney’s recent revision of L.P. Hartley’s ‘the past is a foreign country’, referencing Scotland – ‘when you get to my age the present is a foreign country’.
Linklater agreed. He noted falling oil prices, the economic balance sheet between Scotland and the rest of the UK, and pressures on public services. These should have led to a situation where Scotland ‘turned its back even more resolutely on the issue of independence’ and left the SNP ‘licking its wounds’. Yet the opposite was the case he conceded and he was baffled why. Read the rest of this entry »
The tartan tsunami and how It will change Scotland and the UK for good
Open Democracy, March 20th 2015
The UK general election campaign is upon us – struggling to make sense of the state of the country and how its institutions and politics are seen.
Underneath all the political rhetoric and exchange we are about to witness is tangible anxiety and unsureness about who ‘we’ are and the very existence, or not, of a ‘we’ in terms of connection, culture and collective memories – which can be found equally on both left and right.
Scotland has become one of the key reference points of this election: continually cited by the Westminster class and media, but seldom if ever understood. It wasn’t meant to be like this. The indyref was won 55:45 for the union. The issue was supposedly in David Cameron’s words ‘settled’, Alex Salmond seen off the political stage and the SNP juggernaut checked, if not stopped.
Scotland is at a seismic moment with huge implications and long-term repercussions not just for Scotland but the UK – as what increasingly looks like a tartan tsunami could sweep away scores of Labour once impregnable bastions north of the border. Read the rest of this entry »