The world's most-read Scottish politics website

Wings Over Scotland


Author Archive


Auntie’s Twilight 217

Posted on October 20, 2020 by

Television’s transforming before our eyes, as both what we watch and how we watch it changes. An ever-greater number of programmes shown through increasing mediums. But that doesn’t equate to balanced political coverage being provided, quality product displayed, or distinct countries reflected.

The United States, despite the great wealth and talent available to it in Hollywood and elsewhere, is the worse for the absence of a properly funded and high quality public broadcasting service. Its society is the poorer and its democracy badly distorted by its absence. It’s why Scotland needs a properly funded public broadcaster.

Read the rest of this entry →

On no accounts 388

Posted on October 01, 2020 by

Having been privileged to serve as SNP National Treasurer, I’m aware of the duties that go with the post. Of course, it’s changed in some ways since then due to the scale of the party, the resources available and even technology. The days are long gone when Joan Knott, who has sadly since passed away, required to take a taxi down to my legal office to have cheques signed between court or clients.

But some things still remain fundamental, and in particular providing annual accounts for the party. That has been done for 2019, in the administrative sense, but what’s missing is their publication and provision either to the NEC or the party more widely.

For sure there’s been no conference but there are other bodies and other ways of making them available to party members. At NEC, conference and indeed anywhere else, members were entitled to see them and question me. It was their right to see them, and it remains so now. So why haven’t they seen them?

Read the rest of this entry →

The None Of Your Business Convener 228

Posted on September 23, 2020 by

The SNP have historically been swift to suspend any party members when there’s any hint of inappropriate conduct, never mind even a whiff of illegality. It’s been that way since 2015, with the axe falling on elected members as well as candidates in target seats and critical elections, and ordinary activists.

Not even a by-your-leave, let alone an explanation, is afforded – just suspension with immediate effect. And that’s all well and good, some might say. No hint of impropriety should attach to the party and making a virtue of acting swiftly can be both necessary and appropriate.

So why then no action against the Chief Executive?

Read the rest of this entry →

The Hardest Walk 207

Posted on September 16, 2020 by

“Settling up, not settling down” was the rhetoric, as Westminster reconvened and the new SNP group headed south. Fine words and said no doubt sincerely. But it’s been said by every SNP generation that’s gone there, though none possessed the authority or faced the threats to Scottish democracy as now.

But what has happened since? As ever fine speeches given and incisive questioning of Ministers made, but to what effect?

The first major debate was the Fisheries Bill. A sore point in Scotland where a Tory government sold out our fishing industry and entire communities along with it decades ago, when negotiating EEC entry terms. Now, two generations on, as another Tory administration seeks to implement Brexit, that industry and those communities face betrayal yet again.

Read the rest of this entry →

Into our own hands 188

Posted on September 06, 2020 by

The Scottish political focus has been on Holyrood in recent days, with the Programme For Government announced and Westminster returning from recess. But parliaments can only do so much. Extra-parliamentary action is required for many reasons, not least because activists are increasingly frustrated at delays and uncertainty.

Giving direction and something constructive to do is therefore important; and that will have to come from within the grassroots movement.

Read the rest of this entry →

On the march 212

Posted on August 03, 2020 by

Symbolism matters in politics. What ostensibly can appear minor actions can have significant effect. Simply changing the names of things, whether from Londonderry to Derry or from the Scottish Executive to the Scottish Government (and swapping a UK-focused logo for a Scotland-focused one), were hugely important, signalling a new era and enthusing supporters.

Similarly, it’s been the case that as well as public actions of political leaders there requires to be mobilisation of grassroots supporters.

Read the rest of this entry →

View from the green benches 108

Posted on July 24, 2020 by

The closure of the UK Parliament for the summer holidays this week marked the end of my first political “year” with the SNP Group at Westminster, albeit a truncated one under unusual circumstances. Having served in Holyrood much is similar and familiar, even if anachronistic in style and reeking of snobbery. Staff are remarkably helpful and individual members can be exceedingly pleasant.

But this isn’t our Parliament and we’re most certainly not amongst friends.

Read the rest of this entry →



↑ Top