Posts Tagged ‘SNP’

Oh no, not that tone again; anything but that tone.

I was prepared for Farage’s monstrous braying. I steadied myself for Boris burlesquing a bit of Horace or Plutarch. I was even ready to endure the sound of Gove’s voice. But I had forgotten how unbearable Scottish people are when they feel politically thwarted these days. Over the past 24 hours or so, the reality of the vote to leave the European Union has unleashed an onslaught of full-spectrum nationalist whining across social media the like of which I’ve never seen before.

The self-righteousness that clogged up the post-indyref atmosphere has descended once more. Across the country, heads shake gently in damp-eyed rebuke as disappointed Facebook posts are bashed out and furious tweets sent. And would you believe it, the SNP leadership has considered events through its single lens and concluded that another indyref is exactly what the country needs in a time of confusion and turmoil. It’s a good job the Scottish Government hasn’t been captured by constitutional obsessives like those UKIP guys, eh?

Now, I lost the run of myself completely during the 2014 referendum. I came to believe many more than six impossible things before breakfast on any given day during the campaign. This blog has essentially been a record of my trajectory from suggestible Yesser back to my general disposition as a skeptic, and I’ve left my early posts on this site as a permanent reminder to myself of the damage enthusiasm can do to rational thinking.

If we’re really going to flirt with having another independence referendum there are a few things we all need to get straight, whether we’re Yes or No or Not Again Please For The Love Of God Not Again. There were lessons to be learned back in 2014 about tone, respect for opponents and preparedness to scrutinise one’s own prejudices – I’m not sure they’ve even been acknowledged let alone assimilated. Well I’m here to help! Learn from my fail by asking yourself the following questions and answering honestly. It can even be our wee secret.  (more…)

All around me feelings run high about Syria, Isil and Jeremy Corbyn, while Twitter is full of foreign policy experts. I don’t claim to be an expert myself but I’m interested in international politics and, well, my lack of expertise has never stopped me in the past. Now seems as good a time as any to explore some of the unspoken assumptions and values that underpin contemporary debates about the global security environment. Join me then for a quick dart through the foreign policy approaches of David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn and various Scottish nationalists, followed by an alternative view I’ve sketched on the bag of a metaphorical fag packet.


Something about the General Election outcome has been nagging away at me since Friday morning. Something about the unexpected starkness and decisiveness of the result.

If you’ve ever discussed politics in the pub you’ll no doubt have found yourself entering the realm of speculation. What if this happens in the future? What if that had happened in the past?

I think the 2015 result looks like something you might dream up after a few pints. It looks like a counterfactual.

What if the SNP win basically all seats in Scotland? What if Cameron actually wins a majority? What if UKIP win 4 million votes and almost no seats? What if the Labour vote flatlines?

You may remember the Sliding Doors, a film which imagines two entirely different outcomes based on whether someone does or does not make it into a crowded Tube carriage. This election is a real life Sliding Doors moment.

As Labour try to pick up the pieces of their disastrous result, the party needs to see the clarity of its new circumstances as a blessing. Labour didn’t make it onto the train – so we’re all now actually in that alternative universe in which the Tories won outright and the SNP dismantled Labour’s Scottish power base.

So how did we get here? As ever, it was through a combination of accident and design; through a series of Sliding Doors moments, all of which might have gone differently. In this post I want to explore some other turning points that helped create our new reality.


I don’t have much of a track record as a tipster – the horse I backed in last weekend’s Grand National exceeded my expectations simply by not dying – but even I feel emboldened to hazard that the SNP might do quite well in next month’s General Election.

The polls suggest the SNP will win a majority of Scottish votes and almost all available seats. On the face of it this looks like a deep political consensus, but in reality I don’t remember our political culture ever feeling so divided.

In this post I explore post-referendum polarisation and unpick some of the myths that have come to be accepted as reality by large swathes of the electorate.  (more…)

It all seemed so positive at the time.

In the run-up to the referendum, many, many thousands of people took the time to educate themselves, and each other, about how we in Scotland are governed. Information came to light about taxation flows, media coverage, oil revenues, voting records, expenses payments. Everywhere, people were interested in politics.

I always wanted that to happen, so the last few tumultuous months before the vote were quite dizzying to live through.

I voted Yes. I was sure it was the right thing to do.

It was an article of faith on the Yes side that lots of citizens had journeyed from No to Yes, but no one ever headed in the opposite direction.

Well, more than two months after September 18th, I look around me at what the Yes movement has become. And I think I want out.

It all seemed so positive at the time. But last week the Yes movement entered its imperial phase, signalled in particular by the massive SNP celebration event at the Hydro in Glasgow. And the jubilant tone of the thousands of Yes voters glorying in that event and others finally tipped me over the edge.

It’s that tone that makes me suspect the movement was built on a fundamentally flawed conception of power all along. It’s that tone that makes me question the credibility of the leaders who have emerged from the Yes movement, and the cheerleaders who hero-worship them. And it’s that tone that makes me doubt the progressive credentials of the entire enterprise.

It all seemed so positive at the time. But I’m increasingly concerned that the Scottish public sphere faces a serious threat from authoritarian, sanctimonious Yes fundamentalists.

And that’s the very opposite of what I thought I was voting for.

Allow me to explain.


In Scotland, and across the world, we’ve never had access to so much information. There’s never been so much news; so much analysis; so much stuff to keep up with.

And yet our unprecedented access to data has coincided with something deeply troubling: a profound and growing sense of powerlessness.

Karl Marx wrote that previous philosophers had interpreted the world, when the point was to change it. Whereas these days it often feels like we, as citizens, read about the world, but cannot influence any of the big decisions that affect us.

In this post I will explain how this malaise has infected the body politic, and consider some of the prescriptions drawn up by political parties and social movements to cure it. I will then point, tentatively, to some possible routes out of our present impasse.

In the process I will discuss Russell Brand, Bertold Brecht, and the Scottish Labour Party’s present travails. I will play devil’s advocate on the topics of the European Union and the Yes campaign. And I will look at some very interesting developments on the Tory backbenches, dropping in some Manchester United references along the way. Enjoy!


As the dust settles on the independence referendum, one of the few points around which which a consensus appears to have formed is the wisdom of allowing 16- and 17-year olds to vote.

When the Scottish Parliament met yesterday for the first time since the referendum, parties offered broad encouragement to lowering the voting age to sixteen for future votes. Similarly, when Ed Miliband addressed the Labour Party Conference this week he declared his support for extending the franchise (he didn’t forget that bit of his speech so it must have been important).

I think it is absolutely imperative that the voting age is lowered. However I want to argue this from a slightly unorthodox perspective. (more…)