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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 →

Scottish Labour’s  announcement that it wants to increase tax for everyone earning over £20k (and therefore anyone  on less than that who fancies earning a little bit more in the coming year or two, or might do a wee bit of extra overtime), reflects its acceptance both that the far-left is in charge now and.. read more →

03 Feb 2016
February 3, 2016

Scottish Labour eats the not-very-rich

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Listening to R4’s Today Programme yesterday morning,  I wondered If I’d heard properly. Scottish Labour had announced that it would increase tax on everyone earning more than £20k. Nutty? Of course. But as I tuned in to hear the leader of the Scottish Labour Brand interviewed by John Humphries, I heard her defend the idea.. read more →

The International Criminal Court (ICC), established in 2002, prosecutes only black people. There have been 39 indictees – all black Africans. Two democratically-elected, serving presidents have been indicted; defendants are held for many years in cells the Hague while their trials take place, yet there have been only two convictions in over 15 years. Nine.. read more →

17 Jan 2016
January 17, 2016

Bad language at the Church of England

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The Archbishop of Canterbury apologised yesterday for the way the Church of England, of which he is head, has decided to keep hurting gay people. This seems to me dangerously close to domestic abuse – “I’m so sorry for what I’ve just done and plan to keep on doing”. At the very least, it’s like.. read more →

The African and conservative bishops won the day at the big Church of England showdown a day or two after I wrote the piece below. This piece has had an unusual number of hits – a thousand in the first few minutes after it was posted – and they’re still coming in. That the sort.. read more →

In the 90s, I worked as a staff officer to the British Army general responsible for Army recruiting and training. He was continuously and genuinely engaged with the issue of how to get more folk with minority ethnic backgrounds into the Army. Later, for a while, I worked at the Commission for Racial Equality. Stories.. read more →

Here’s a fun game for anyone mad about politics. Cross reference anti-Jeremy Corbyn Labour MPs (including those in the shadow cabinet) with constituencies which nominated him as leader. If an anti-Corbyn MP is presented in the media as a serious player but his or her Constituency Labour Party (CLP) voted for Corbyn then the MP.. read more →

Today’s Sunday Times contains (paywall) an article about the UK Union by three decent, semi-retired politicians: Peter Hain, Menzies Campbell and Robert Salisbury. The chums are kicking off a new ‘Constitution Reform Group’ which will bring various experts together to save Scotland. It’s a bit blah, to be honest, but at the true core of the piece.. read more →

11 Sep 2015
September 11, 2015

Sgt Blackman

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I once sat as a member of a 7-officer General Court Martial which convicted a serving soldier of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment (unlike jury members, court martial members decide on the sentence too). At the appeal, the judges noted: “We do not know whether the verdict of the Court Martial was unamimous.. read more →

10 Sep 2015
September 10, 2015

Why Cooper overtook Burnham

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A week or so ago, a few folk noticed the bookies’ odds putting Yvette Cooper in second place in the Labour leadership stakes, in front of Andy Burnham, and wondered if maybe this meant she could catch Jeremy Corbyn. This very movement might well have encouraged some to have a punt on Yvette, so the odds.. read more →

UK Chancellor (Finance Minister) George Osborne, seeking to cement his position as UK prime-minister-in-waiting, has suggested that the UK should bomb both sides (insofar as there are only two) in the Syrian conflict. Perhaps he feels that a bit more bombing will help reduce the flow of refugees running away from all the bombing that’s going.. read more →

The Tories – having decided Corbyn really is going to win the Labour leadership – and more than a few Labour folk are going for Corbyn not on economic policy but on foreign policy. It was odd to hear even Gordon Brown giving up on an economic critique of Corbynomics to implicitly (for God’s sake).. read more →

Liz Kendall’s campaign was always aimed not at winning, obviously, but at creating space for an ultra-Blairite party within a Labour party under the leftish leadership of Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper. Things have moved on a bit since then…. Kendall is fighting away doughtily, though. It is almost funny, the way Burnham and Cooper.. read more →

Gordon Brown has made a veiled attack (Daily Telegraph, but ‘veiled’ is used across the media including in the Guardian) on Jeremy Corbyn. So that literally means the ‘attack’ was intentionally hidden from most people who don’t obsess over the daily papers, right? Why the studied ambivalence? Well, the former pm is seeking to provide tokenistic.. read more →