We may have lost the referendum but the arguments for independence remain constant

When this column first appeared five years ago, some people reacted as though Mars Attacks, World War Z and Armageddon had all come at once.

The Unionist political establishment behaved like every disaster movie had morphed into one and stormed the Daily Record citadel in 6in heels.

possibility for Scotland.

The SNP tsunami in the Scottish Parliament election in 2011 meant a referendum on our country’s future was undeniable.

Read more

Futile, bloody battles that rank among 'greatest disasters of the war' are no cause for celebration

2013-03-27_daily_record_thumbnail.jpg“Passchendaele was indeed one of the greatest disasters of the war ... No soldier of any intelligence now defends this senseless campaign”.

These words were written not by a pacifist agitator, but by the man who was Prime Minister when the senseless battle was fought, slaughtering almost 600,000 young men.

David Lloyd George made the admission in his war memoirs, in which he was critical of General Douglas Haig, the commander who presided over industrialised carnage to win a few miles of mud.

However it is politicians, not generals, who send soldiers into battle, so Lloyd George bears responsibility too, despite his horror in hindsight.

David Lloyd George made the admission in his war memoirs, in which he was critical of General Douglas Haig, the commander who presided over industrialised carnage to win a few miles of mud.

Read more

We need the power to engineer our own energy future but Scotland faces obstacles in London

It glided through the water off Peterhead like a massive mechanical swan. The towering turbine of the world’s first floating wind farm, which is taller than Big Ben.

A couple of juggernauts could fit in the “engine box” behind the blades. It is a miracle of mechanical engineering, a gleaming symbol of a new industrial revolution off our shores.

The giant windmill – and its four siblings in the Hywind project – will generate clean energy right here in Scotland, which has a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind power potential.

It may be the first of many, as offshore wind blows harder than the landlubber variety. That’s something of which we can all be proud. It will generate jobs as well as electricity.

Read more

Looking after sick elderly people shouldn't be considered an industry - profit has no place in caring for vulnerable

Private care homes are in crisis, according to their industry body.

That simple statement, reported in the Scottish media this week, contains a few klaxon-call words.

Crisis, obviously, is intended to set the sirens screaming. But the words “private” and “industry” should also trigger alarm bells.

Should looking after sick elderly people be considered an industry? And should it be in the hands of the private sector at all?

Read more

Why should the courts stand in the way of Charlie Gard's last glimmer of hope?

2013-03-27_daily_record_thumbnail.jpgBefore modern medical technology, poor Charlie Gard would have lost his life by now.

His fate would not have lain in the hands of doctors or courts but a higher power.

Charlie cannot eat, drink, breathe or swallow unaided. He has brain damage due to a rare condition. It is only 21st century artificial life support that keeps him alive.

The fight his parents are waging against the system is the most modern of moral conflicts. But that does not make it any less tragic.

Like many observers, I cannot help feeling uncomfortable that the court overruled distraught parents who don’t want to see their child die.

The whole affair has been terrible for Great Ormond Street Hospital, an institution known for saving young lives and on occasion seeming to perform miracles.

Read more

It's as though 'Pantomime President' Donald Trump never left the world of reality TV

2013-03-27_daily_record_thumbnail.jpg“Doesn’t this guy have anything better to do with his life?”

The Trump comment on the silly supreme leader of North Korea could just as easily apply to The Donald himself.

Just as the ridiculous Kim Jong-un was firing rockets at gawd knows who, the equally absurd president of the United States was firing punches at his perceived enemies in the media.

Bringing his office into disrepute is a hallmark of the Trump ­presidency. But the feelings of disgust he generates reached a low this week with the spoof wrestling video in which he appears to pulverise a man representing CNN, the global news network.

For some, it was the latest ­manifestation of a ratings-driven pantomime presidency which is indistinguishable from the reality TV world he once dominated. For others, it is far more sinister – an incitement to violence against the media and, by extension, anyone who stands up against him.

Read more

Response to Nicola Sturgeon's IndyRef announcement shows opposition can't match First Minister's statesmanship

2013-03-27_daily_record_thumbnail.jpgYou can’t please all of the people all of the time.

So, in the end, you have to do what’s right.

As the First Minister said yesterday, some people never want another referendum because they don’t want Scotland to be independent.

Others want a referendum tomorrow because they can’t wait for independence – and believe they can persuade a majority in that direction.

Most Scots fall between those two positions.

Read more

Don't knock health and safety after Grenfell Tower disaster

Next time someone uses the term “health and safety gone mad”, remember Grenfell Tower.

Red tape may be a pain for profits. But red tape beats the sticking plaster approach which led to the deaths of at least 79 people.

The tower block fire was a week ago. But I cannot be the only one who is haunted by it.

The desperate phone calls from children who knew they were going to die – with one little girl screaming to her mum: “Come and get me.”

The neighbours who watched helpless as families screamed from upper floor windows.

Read more

Ruth Davidson urged PM to protect LGBT rights in dirty deal with DUP yet remains silent over sectarianism

If you are a gay person worried about the Tory deal with the homophobic Ulstermen, don’t worry, Ruth’s got it sorted.

That’s because the Scottish Tory leader is herself gay and told the Prime Minister that her human rights must be bomb-proofed in the dirty deal with the DUP.

But if you are Catholic or Irish and worry about sectarianism and peace in Northern Ireland, you can go hang.

Right enough, did you ever expect it? The Scottish Tory Party contain elected members who have expressed what appeared to be anti-Catholic views, including past members of Davidson’s staff.

Read more

If you want a Labour Government in Westminster you should vote SNP

If you want to see a Labour government, vote SNP.

That’s the stark advice being given to Scots from a clutch of online tactical “calculators”, including www.progressivealliance.org.uk .

You key in your postcode and they tell you which party to vote for to beat the Tories. In all but two
Scottish seats, that party is the SNP.

And if you want to make sure any future UK Government – Labour or Tory – is fair to Scotland, that strong SNP vote is essential.

Yesterday, the Labour First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said his party would scrap the Barnett formula which gives Scotland an above population share of public spending (though less than the actual tax we send to London).

Read more

Theresa May's weak debate performance shows she's no stable leader

She started out claiming to be strong and stable. Then Mrs May was mocked as weak and wobbly after some disastrous U-turns.

Now confused and comical seems more appropriate after her poor performance with Jeremy Paxman and members of the public.

For most politicians, Paxo is the ultimate test. But this is Theresa May we are talking about. For her, the audience was always going to be more difficult. Real people are a problem for this PM.

Mrs May was actually laughed at by audience members in the BBC’s Battle for Number 10 show last night. That’s not a good look for any Prime Minister, let alone one who is forced to “relaunch” her campaign with less than a fortnight to go.

Read more

Disabled people are in the Tories' iron grip but we can't give them a free hand

2013-03-27_daily_record_thumbnail.jpgTheresa May doesn’t get out much. It’s too risky these days – she might bump into a real person.

Which is exactly what happened in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, when “Cathy”, a woman with learning disabilities, confronted the imperious PM.

Cathy’s income was cut when she was moved from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment.

She is not alone. Hundreds of thousands are being hurt across the UK as a result of Tory cuts to social security. Many are disabled people.

In Scotland, the Tory UK government will have cut £1billion a year from welfare spend by 2022 – with £0.25billion coming through changes introduced last month alone.

May had no answer for Cathy. That’s because these cuts to the most vulnerable are indefensible.

Read more

Anyone planning their retirement should be worried about the Tory government's plans

Is your pension safe with Theresa May?

All the evidence suggests OAPs, or anyone planning retirement, should worry about a Tory government.

Their track record on pensions is terrible – before you even consider the threatened broken promise on the so-called “triple lock”.

It’s their disgraceful treatment of “WASPI” women born in the 50s.

It’s the plummeting value of UK pensions under the Tories, compared with other countries.

It’s the lies the Tories told when promising retirees a superior new “flat-rate” pension.

Read more

SNP runs public services while Tories run them down in a tale of two governments

It’s time to revisit the tale of two governments – the Government in London led by Theresa May’s Tories and the Government in Edinburgh led by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

By any comparison in the tale of two governments, the SNP administration are head and shoulders ahead – despite the Tories cutting Scotland’s budget by almost £3billion over a decade.

Remember that when the Tories come knocking on your door, attacking the SNP record on health and education.

Their own is much worse.

Read more

One trick pony Tories are heading for a fall with their focus on independence

“I have been inundated today from friends really fed up with letters about independence...” So one candidate for the forthcoming council elections has said.

His complaint was not aimed at the SNP, who are campaigning purely on local service issues – including our commitment to double the hours of free childcare.

No. This was aimed at the Conservatives, whose entire council election campaign swings on the constitution.

The frustrated comment about the Tories’ union obsession was made by one of their own. The councillor in question is Dennis Male, formerly the Tory member for Langholm, Dumfriesshire, in the heart of the ­constituency of David Mundell, Scotland’s only Tory MP.

Read more

Scotland must seize chance to reject the well-oiled Tory machine in general election or we will pay

Perpetual Tory Government. Hell on earth. Eternal damnation in a bottomless pit of austerity.

This is what Theresa May’s announcement means for Scotland... unless, of course, we tell her now is not the time.

The vicar’s daughter didn’t mention fire and brimstone when she stood outside Downing Street and revealed that she’d been lying all along when she repeatedly said there would be no general election.

She even made a false confession to the sainted Andrew Marr, for God’s sake. Maybe breaking the ninth commandment about bearing false witness (telling fibs) doesn’t count on telly.

There was no reference to all those earlier lies in her announcement yesterday. There was no devil in the detail at all. It was just a great yawning, hypocrisy-defining U-turn.

Read more

The Tories fire insults at Madrid while grovelling to the distant and hateful regime in Saudi Arabia

“Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves, Britons never shall be slaves!”

This ultra-patriotic ditty was written by an arch Scottish unionist to celebrate a British victory over Spain.

So it seemed ripe for re-examination, given the rumblings regarding Gibraltar and the escalating lunacy of Tory Brexiteers, of both the born again and fundamentalist variety.

As tunes go, it’s an oldie – but a baddie. A nasty anthem for Brexit and the brand of aggressive unionism promoted by Theresa May and Ruth Davidson.

There is a strand of British nationalism that is as hostile to Scotland as it is to Spain, or indeed any country that doesn't bow at the feet of Britannia.

It is defined by arrogance, a sense of entitlement and a determination to dominate.

Read more

Scotland should not need PM's permission to hold IndyRef2

The Scottish Parliament have spoken. The Scottish people should be allowed to speak.

That is what the democratic tradition of Scotland dictates.

If Theresa May has an ounce of respect for our Parliament, our people, our traditions and our democracy, she will take heed.

The vote yesterday in the Scottish Parliament to hold another referendum on our country’s future should make that happen.

Many readers will wonder why the final say lies elsewhere. Why is it Westminster, where Scottish MPs are outnumbered and repeatedly outvoted by English Tories, who get the final say on whether we have a referendum?

Why do we need their “permission”?

Read more

Why GERS figures may not be all they seem - and who we should listen to

Next time someone tells you Scotland has a £15billion deficit, throw three words at them: Professor Richard Murphy.

The influential professor of ­practice in international political economy at City University of London made his name exposing the way big companies avoid paying tax – and the ineffectiveness of governments in collecting tax.

He is a chartered accountant who has succeeded in sexing up his subject with his book The Joy of Tax.

This month he turned his ­attention to Scotland and in ­particular claims that the country has a £15billion deficit and is too poor to be an independent country.

The claim was absurd even before Professor Murphy challenged it this month. This is why:

1. The Scottish Government balance the books each year because the Government do not borrow – so it is entirely “notional” or paper-based, a guesstimate.

Read more

Why Westminster does not work for Scotland

Westminster does not work for Scotland.

That is something we must all remember as we make ready for another vote on our people’s future.

This is not about Europe. The EU referendum was just the trigger.

It is about democracy and the complete and utter failure of the current UK state to treat Scotland as an equal partner.

In a “successful union” or even a “precious union”, one partner does not ride roughshod over the other partner’s wishes.

There’s supposed to be give and take. There’s been no give by Theresa May since 62 per cent of Scots voted to remain in Europe.

Read more