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 →

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?


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


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


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 →

12 Jun 2014
June 12, 2014

Dodgy little charities

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Scottish Charity The Dignity Project is in trouble following the despatch of abusive tweets from its account about JKR. The charity has put up an odd, apology-free statement on its front page – it’ s not responsible, it says. Good luck with that, Dignity Project…except, you’re not really real at all, are you? What catches my.. read more →

I’ve just had a slightly frustrating Twitter exchange with an intersex person who assumed, wrongly, I had used the term ‘intersex’ casually. In fact, like many MPs, I’ve thought a lot about issues issues of gender and sexuality and in any case my instinct is that most people have a pretty good idea of what.. read more →

31 May 2014
May 31, 2014

Making sense of ? hic : (


Politicians, the media and folk who lobby for this product or that cause often accuse each other of misleading the public. And of course it’s true that most people with an angle present  information in a way that helps their case, or cause. People expect that, though, and are pretty good at filtering. If they’re.. read more →

22 May 2014
May 22, 2014

Grubby Greens


We had a Green Party rep at the door earlier here in London re: local and EU elections. He pointed out that while the local Labour council opposed HS2, the Labour Party supported it. It’s this kind of duplicity which makes the mainstream political parties untrustable, he said. “Vote Green, we’re different”. “Fair enough, so,.. read more →

Threats to UK democracy (what other kind is there?) used to be easy to identify. The Soviets, resurgent fascism, terrorism. Those sorts of things. Nowadays, though, it’s getting at lot harder to work out exactly what these pesky threats to our way of life are. For example, is the overthrow of an elected regime in.. read more →

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has just gone through a disastrous episode over the Scottish referendum No campaign, for a reason which says much more about the CBI than it does about the Scottish independence campaign. The CBI is, ostensibly, a worthy lobbying organisation representing industrial and wider private sector employers. Its name suggests.. read more →