• 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 →

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 →

05 Mar 2014
March 5, 2014

Crimea and Sevastopol

5 Comments

A couple of days ago I suggested that most folk in Falkirk, and indeed the UK, were sceptical, to put it mildly, of the present Western government line on the Ukraine. I’ve spoken to a lot of other people since then, and there’s now no doubt about that trend in my mind. It’s not the.. read more →

03 Mar 2014
March 3, 2014

Falkirk folk on the Ukraine

0 Comment

Over the weekend, I’ve been talking to Falkirk (the largest constituency in Scotland by population, by the way, and very representative of public opinion across Scotland and the UK) area folk about the Ukraine. Here are two messages they’ve been consistently coming up with. First, whether or not they’re a supporter of independence they’ve been.. read more →

I posted here in December and suggested that the ‘digital media’ strategy of the Johnston Press (JP), owners of a big chunk of the UK’s local newspaper market, might simply be a superficial cover for swingeing staff cuts which could be disastrous for journalistic quality and, in the end, the business too. I’d been struck.. read more →

Tonight’s Evening Standard flags the risk, apparently, of people returning from jihad in Syria to follow through in the UK. It’s the biggest ever risk, an expert says. I’m not belittling the risk of terrorism – its effects go wider than death and injury, of course. I guess that’s why it’s called ‘terrorism’. And yet, the.. read more →

A few days before Christmas 2009 I went onto the BBC Africa website and came across a headline and discussion flagging a programme to be broadcast a couple of hours later that afternoon. The discussion was entitled; ‘Should homosexuals be executed?’  I spend a lot of time on African issues and my blood was boiling… read more →

17 Feb 2014
February 17, 2014

UK/EU citizenship-stripping party game

4 Comments

My post (here, scroll down to 16th Feb) about how the UK government and EU wouldn’t, couldn’t, strip citizenship from anyone in the event of a pro-independence vote in Scotland brought dissenting responses on Twitter from a few folk who certainly know a thing or two about government. Their primary arguments were so weak, though, that.. read more →

I only have a moment to write this post, but I really do have respond to Barroso’s comments about how an independent Scotland couldn’t join the EU and, perhaps more significantly, the utter nonsense that pro-union folk have been following on with. A simple and significant point to remember is that no-one can be stripped.. read more →

The Independent has been running a ‘Save the Elephants’ campaign for a couple of months. To mark today’s London conference on the same theme, the paper’s run a piece thanking donors to the paper’s ‘Elephant Appeal’. The donor who gets by far the biggest name check – the last three paragraphs, indeed – is a man.. read more →

02 Feb 2014
February 2, 2014

Michael Gove and the cheeky inspector

3 Comments

Scotsman Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education for England and, you know, a politician, is being ‘accused’ by the Liberal Democrats of being ‘political’ in the way he does his job. Politicians close to politician David Laws, Gove’s Lib Dem departmental no.2, have been saying stuff. Laws “is furious” about this whole business of.. read more →

There’s a lot of rain about. We know this because it’s had, er, saturation coverage on the telly.  Many of us saw the Environment Secretary, Owen Patterson, being  boo’ed the other day in Somerset, where the Levels there have had it pretty bad. It can’t be easy for folk there, what with flooded farmland affecting.. read more →

The ‘Lobbying Bill’ came through the House of Commons yesterday (here are the explanatory notes – you can navigate from there to the actual bill if you fancy it). The government says the aim of the bill is to make lobbying more transparent. Naturally, some opponents think the government’s true intentions are not what it.. read more →