• AFRICA

    AFRICA

  • FALKIRK

    FALKIRK

  • LONDON

    LONDON

WELCOME

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 →

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

0 Comment

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 →

12 Jun 2014
June 12, 2014

Dodgy little charities

1 Comment

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 : (

26 Comments

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

2 Comments

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 →

The Head of the Royal Navy today has some stern words to say today about how Scottish independence would damage UK maritime security.  Here are a few quick and perhaps rather obvious points in response. First, what happens to UK and Scottish maritime security should Scots vote for independence would depend on extensive political negotiations.. read more →

The meeja don’t seem sure what to make of Nigel Evans’ acquittal this week – I presume the ‘Westminster gay predator’ stuff was good to go so they just cracked on with it anyway. Last night, Channel 4 News managed to run a whole piece on the subject of how MPs’ staff don’t have meaningful.. read more →

09 Apr 2014
April 9, 2014

Official oversight of MPs’ work

1 Comment

Maria Miller’s departure today raises the interesting question of whether the UK will now see, in effect, officials given full powers to ‘oversee’ the work of MPs. This seems to be the general run of argument in the press. The chair of the parliamentary expenses body (IPSA) Sir Ian Kennedy, argued last week that MPs.. read more →

The story about Maria Miller MP, UK Culture and Media (DCMS) Secretary, has inevitably moved onto Capital Gains Tax today. I’ve found her an exceptional minister when it comes to ministerial replies on constituency issues, actually, and it seems a shame she’s been caught up in the tricky area of the byzantine House of Commons.. read more →

The UK’s serious-minded and capable Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond told Andrew Marr on Sunday that he “didn’t think” it was he who had told the Guardian, a couple of days beforehand, that Scotland would be able to currency-share with the rUK. You can take that any way you like, but he also pointed out that.. read more →

A UK Treasury minister has said (Danny Alexander to the Guardian’s Nick Watt, in Aberdeen?) that in the event of a vote for Scottish independence there’d obviously be a currency union. As I’ve written here before, it’s equally obvious to everyone that there’d be no mad border guards and there’d be sensible arrangements regarding the armed.. read more →

Theresa May, The UK Home Secretary, has said that a ‘Yes’ vote in the Scottish referendum would see the UK government putting up passport and immigration controls at the border. Really? Rather than accept a common travel area, as exists with Ireland, the UK government would instigate full international border arrangements – arrangements which exist.. read more →