The Jim Gallagher affair is an unhappy one for him, of course. You can see how he would have enjoyed being a visiting professor while a civil servant, helping academics with his perspectives on the civil service. Then, when the visiting professorship came up for renewal after his retirement, switching the justification to his ‘academic’.. read more →

University academics have a special place in the public dialogue around Scottish independence. They sometimes venture personal opinions and reach out to the wider population, but this is invariably placed by readers and listeners into the context of their assumed scholarship. As we’ve written before, it’s critical that academics make it clear when they’re veering.. read more →

As the SNP meets in Glasgow, and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon begins to lay the legislative ground for a new referendum, it’s striking just how much Scottish unionists are being forced to resort to dogma and fallacy; how they’re being forced on to the ground of rubbishing, rather than engaging intelligently with, the challenges.. read more →

Right-wing populists have always beseeched ordinary people to ignore experts. We know why. Decent democrats, on the other hand, give experts their place while accepting that said experts usually disagree with each other and someone has to then try to make public policy decisions based in part on their advice. That’s a bit messy, but of.. read more →

30 Sep 2016
September 30, 2016

The UK’s Far Right

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Anna Soubry MP is a fairly right-wing Tory with quite a high public profile on account of having been very outspoken about her Tory rightwing-ness during her short parliamentary career. Some of us (!) have shared a platform with her in public debate for the chatterati and thought she was about as right wing as.. read more →

26 Sep 2016
September 26, 2016

The Agency

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There is a theme which binds together the phenomena of Trump, Farage, the UK Tories, this week’s Labour conference and much more. It is the dominant political and even existential notion in these amazing and bewildering days. It operates at many levels: the national, community, family and the individual. It is the idea of agency… read more →

Here’s a heartfelt article about Labour by Observer and Guardian columnist Barbara Ellen. She’s staunchly anti-Corbyn and writes that people like her will desert the Labour Party when Corbyn inevitably wins re-election this week. Her difficulty, and that of her like-minded readers, is that they have nowhere to go to. Not the Tories, obviously, but.. read more →

17 Sep 2016
September 17, 2016

Bordering on farce


The Scottish Unionist’s Fear campaign is being wheeled out in Glasgow by the Scottish Tories. Today’s offering includes the old saw that there’d be a hard border between Scotland and England in the event of independence. Here’s Theresa May ruling out border checks in Ireland. And here’s David Davis, UK Brexit Secretary of State, highlighting the.. read more →

This week, David Cameron announced his departure from the House of Commons. He’s a marketable commodity. Perhaps he’ll be in the game for some kind of big international appointment in future. For now he’ll write his book for a few million quid then quietly amass a portfolio which will put him properly in the rich.. read more →

A lot of folk who support independence don’t much care for JK Rowling. She’s important to the independence movement, though. More because of her normal-ness than her uniqueness. Her true life story is a fairy tale. It inspires people. She’s tried to make difference to the lives of others by giving a large chunk of her.. read more →

I was reading about the politician Joan McAlpine MSP this morning and noticed that from 2000-2001 she was editor of the Scottish edition of the Sunday Times. I’ve never met a woman editor of either a national or a local in Scotland, including the editorialised versions of UK papers. So I’ve had a quick look.. read more →

02 Sep 2016
September 2, 2016

Capital thinking


This is a wee addendum to the adjacent ‘Oil and Reason’ piece (here at Article 5). It’s just to flag a single point which should impact more on the independence dialogue, but instead seems to be generally missed. We’ll send out a little more detail, including references, with our newsletter but for now it’s the.. read more →

31 Aug 2016
August 31, 2016

Oil and reason


Scottish unionist leaders are overjoyed with the present low price of oil. Talking down the job prospects of North Sea workers is to them a fair price to pay for the chance to argue that the present oil price represents proof that Scotland just couldn’t manage on its own. Yet of course if it’s true.. read more →

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


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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 →