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The UK Labour Party seems very likely to re-elect Jeremy Corbyn as its leader next month. He doesn’t have the support of most longer-term Labour members, but he does have the support of most new members and ‘supporters’ with a vote, and the latter are far more numerous. In winning, Corbyn and his allies will.. read more →

The Brexit vote fatally undermined many anti-independence arguments to the extent that it takes outright dogmatism for ‘No’ voters to refuse to even re-consider their position. Yet few ‘Yes’ supporters are daft enough to think the polls would have shifted overnight. Rather, the Brexit vote made the argument for Scottish independence in Europe much more.. read more →

Tony Blair’s Labour government legislated for devolved legislatures for Scotland, Wales and NI on the basis that England couldn’t have one. Instead, there was a token effort to create English regional assemblies. This was doomed to failure at the first hurdle, which is why John Prescott was put in charge of it. The fundamental problem.. read more →

In 2014, Scots voted 55-45 to remain in the UK. Many of us voted ‘No’ to independence because we were told – by UK politicians and EU officials alike – that remaining within the UK was our only hope of remaining EU citizens. Some of us actually were those very politicians! As it’s turned out,.. read more →

18 Jul 2016
July 18, 2016

Trident

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In my earlier days as a Labour MP I voted as whipped for Trident replacement. Later on, when I thought about it properly, I opposed Trident replacement (and was a member of the anti-Trident group along with Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell) on the grounds that the political argument for its retention didn’t stand up.. read more →

04 Jul 2016
July 4, 2016

Labour – who splits from whom?

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Neil Kinnock and John Prescott popped up yesterday to point out the the Labour Party rule book says leadership candidates need to be nominated by 51 MPs to get on the ballot paper. Until now, the counter argument put by the Corbyn camp is that those who framed the rules didn’t imagine the present circumstances,.. read more →

The Falkirk business (ahem!) saw Ed Miliband faced with a choice to either stand up to a new militant entryism led by the Unite leadership, or to cave in and somehow hope it would all go away. He caved in. The militants waited for the inevitable Miliband election failure then pushed many of their number.. read more →

When I was a by-election candidate – the last MP elected in the 20th Century, it occurs to me as I write this – I was driven around events and tucked in at night (an important job at a by-election) by a big, friendly union guy. This was Tom Watson. He’d been selected as a.. read more →

So it’s all over for the United Kingdom. Scotland, overwhelmingly, and Northern Ireland by a smaller margin have voted to stay in Europe while England and Wales have voted decisively to leave. Whatever happens in Northern Ireland, Scotland must now hold a second referendum. The Scottish Government said before the referendum that it would only hold.. read more →

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson seems a super individual in so many ways. Scottish Tories, like Alex Massie, provide Scottish unionism – of both right and left – with its only serious intellectual ballast. And the Tories have done so terribly well of late, with Davidson having very serious de facto powers of government. Some.. read more →

Here’s today’s Guardian piece about alleged money laundering in Scotland. A few years ago, a well-known building in Larbert near Falkirk was renovated at a cost of several million pounds. It was widely advertised as a fabulous new hotel: a big asset to Falkirk. But some local hoteliers and business folk thought there was something.. read more →

Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP clearly run ‘devolved’ Scotland. But who now runs the equally significant ‘reserved’ Scotland?  Prime Minister David Cameron? Hardly. Post-referendum Scotland takes up a vanishingly small amount of his time. His Secretary of State for Scotland, Scotland’s only Tory MP, perhaps? No again. The main political role of the secretary of.. read more →

08 May 2016
May 8, 2016

BBC politics

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The Lord Hall of Birkenhead, a member of the Upper House of the UK Parliament and – oddly enough – director general of the BBC, is in the papers this week with an article entitled; “Britain’s people, not politicians, own the BBC”. The piece tells us what ‘the people’ have been saying about the BBC and warns.. read more →

The Tory resurgence in Scotland has come at the expense of Labour, not the SNP (see the second graphic here). Labour’s reduction to minor party is cataclysmic for it and the Tories new role as leaders of the unionist movement in Scotland will help the SNP towards winning the next independence referendum. The SNP performance.. read more →

On Thursday over 70% of voters in Scotland will vote for the lower income-tax option offered by the SNP and Tories, and against the higher tax proposals of the other parties. Commanding the right and centre ground are the Tories and SNP.  The latter, expecting over 50% of the vote, including almost or actually all of.. read more →

There’s been a fair bit written about tactical voting at the Scottish parliamentary elections. The SNP is going to take almost all the 73 constituency seats, it seems, and this makes is quite hard for them to gain additional seats via the corrective proportional mechanism of the ‘second’ or ‘regional list’ vote which voters have… read more →

30 Mar 2016
March 30, 2016

The Congo

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I went to the Republic of Congo  – Congo Brazzaville – during a trip to the region last week which originally had a different purpose. I wrote a few pieces for various English and French language newspapers and websites – here’s The Guardian and here’s the The New Statesman – so I won’t repeat myself… read more →

Scotland has 32 local authorities for a population of just over 5 million. That means, amongst other things, 32 local education authorities. One, the charming Clackmannanshire which admittedly has sensible working arrangements with neighbouring Stirling, has 3 secondary schools. Local education authorities have, in parts of England, been denuded of powers and often meaning as.. read more →