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Welcome to my website.  I post regularly; do leave a message – I’ll surely reply. My blog posts go back about three years and are not just about politics in Falkirk, Westminster and the UK. You’ll see I have strong interests in defense, security, and development issues at home and abroad. I travelled a bit, in Africa, as the Chairman of the Great Lakes Africa APPG, up to 2012. I argue the case for more direct investment and more democracy in African states, most recently debating the case for stronger links between Kenya and the UK in Parliament. http://investingindevelopment.com/?p=720read more about Eric →

Amidst signs of a huge swing towards the SNP in Scotland, Labour is saying that a vote for the SNP is a vote for a UK Tory administration. This obviously false statement plays right into the hands of people who say Labour can’t be trusted. In fact, the SNP has cannily made it clear that.. read more →

Labour’s pitch at the moment is that everything in this country is screwed. I’m sort of reluctant to accept that, given that if everything were screwed it would surely have taken more than 4 years for it all to become screwed – wouldn’t it? I mean, screwing everything in 4 years would be an absolutely.. read more →

15 Oct 2014
October 15, 2014

Falkirk Fracking Fine

30 Comments

Unite the Union, the SNP and a small number of ‘nimbys’ in my constituency of Falkirk are deeply opposed to fracking. For most folk, that’s probably evidence enough that fracking must be a super thing. But I had a darkly-hilarious exchange of tweets today with a constituent who challenged a tweet of mine to the.. read more →

Some UKIP dimwit, aka their Scottish MEP, has explained that his party will concentrate its general election efforts on Scotland’s ‘rust’ belt; “We’re looking at the Scottish rust belt. Seats where there were serious industries that were ­allowed to run down, with no replacement”. Falkirk’s one of these seats, apparently. He’ll be thinking of the.. read more →

There is a place where kindliness and charity tips into narcissism and self-promotion. For now it’s George Square in Glasgow, where a pop-up foodbank is being fetishized by people who helped Glasgow vote Yes to Scottish independence. Is this phenomenon a momentary response to a momentous stimulus, part of the recent pepper-potting of control over.. read more →

20 Sep 2014
September 20, 2014

A lie won’t fly

14 Comments

Scots voted No, in the end, on a ‘vow’ of greater devolution. Every Scot I have spoken to understands that the promised transfer of power can only take place if the books are balanced and Scots no longer legislate on England-only matters; this is manifestly part of the deal. If the UK government, Tory or.. read more →

It’s a few hours after the devolution result was announced – so naturally, the devo-plus legislation ‘vow’ has already been delayed until after the 2015 general election. So, three quick points on that. First, as the price of a No victory today, Scots believe they have been ‘promised’ full control over Health and a permanent.. read more →

18 Sep 2014
September 18, 2014

Why the Scottish papers said No

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With the referendum polls apparently neck-and-neck why is it that the Scottish titles have, all but one, stayed away from endorsing ‘Yes’? It’s simply because there isn’t an economically viable indigenous Scottish media at all. With the exception of the quirky DC Thomson output, the Scottish titles are outposts of huge UK and international groups… read more →

I think there will be a No vote on Thursday – possibly swung on the votes of people who say they are not Scots. If there is, the No campaign’s very late, panic-stricken promise of much greater devolution will have been pivotal. The main consequence of the devolution package, though – if enacted as promised.. read more →

16 Sep 2014
September 16, 2014

When paying a ransom is right

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I just did a BBC Radio Ulster interview on the subject of ransoms alongside John McTernan, Tony Blair’s former political secretary. I’d been asked to take part on the basis of this recent blogpost. John put the government line, which is that we shouldn’t pay ransoms because it fuels terrorism and encourages terrorists to take British.. read more →

David Cameron says governments shouldn’t pay ransoms. He’s right. He also says that companies and individuals should be banned from paying ransoms. That’s dead wrong. Governments know they have millions of citizens all over the world at risk. They also make decisions in order to acquire political capital in the interests of their people –.. read more →

07 Sep 2014
September 7, 2014

If Yes wins then what next?

6 Comments

Jim Murphy and Alistair Darling – with energy and passion on the one hand, decency and commonsense on the other – have, I think, done their best for the No camp. The No campaign has in general been terrible, obviously, but if No wins, however narrowly, both politicians will have played important roles – and.. read more →

Polling this week suggested that ‘No’ has a 6 point lead  - 53% to 47% (‘don’t knows’ discounted). This very closely correlates to difference made by the roughly 15% of people with a vote who don’t identify as ‘Scottish’ and who intend to vote ‘No’ by a margin exceeding 2-1. If this is correct, then.. read more →

In government, I voted against the Labour whip only once. That was on the occasion of the Digital Economy Act being shoved through parliament ‘on the wash-up’ (i.e. without due process and with the agreement of all parties because it was the end of a parliament and the issue ostensibly ‘was not contentious’). Today, I’m.. read more →

On Defence, the SNP often say they’ll inherit a share of the UK’s defence equipment and will also take on the Scottish regiments. Of course, there’s no relationship between those UK assets that have a Scottish dimension and the potential components of a coherent Scottish Defence Force. And, naturally, there are many Scots in parts.. read more →

28 Jun 2014
June 28, 2014

An abusive anti-abuse lobby

8 Comments

As a second (the first is in bold), and I think probably final, update to the post below, it’s worth flagging this morning’s development in the CSA/Exaronews story about child abuse and parliament. The story’s on the front page of every Sunday paper today (6 July), although in each case the handle is the investigation.. read more →

15 Jun 2014
June 15, 2014

The new English cricket test

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Ed Smith is a super-talented former England cricketer who is now a writer. Tonight he tweeted a link to his latest New Statesman piece, as follows: “Nigel Farage at Lord’s today to witness how immigration boosts a nation: Jordan and Ballance rescue English cricket http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2014/06/if-you-want-imagine-england-under-ukip-think-back-cricket-1980s … ” (you can follow the link to read the actual piece, which.. read more →

13 Jun 2014
June 13, 2014

Pally Lally

2 Comments

Who’ll turn out to be the biggest loser in the Claire Lally story? Could it be Campbell Gunn, that nice bloke who retired early as the Sunday Post’s political editor and went to work for the Independence cause? Scottish journos are often pretty derogatory about Scots politicians’ media advisors, yet here’s one trying to move.. read more →