Ruth Davidson’s attempts to smear all Yes supporters won’t wash

The National, January 22 2021
“One might have hoped the former Territorial Army signaller would know the difference between “marching on” and simply marching or indeed simply milling about, which is what a peaceful protest usually involves.”

PMQs sketch: Boris Johnson is increasingly ridiculous as House suffers connection problems

The National, January 20 2021
“We can all sleep easily at night knowing that it will take as long as it takes to restore lost crime records, that DNA profiles of the most serious offenders may be lost forever, and that Priti Patel will continue to say and do whatever she damn well pleases while using more junior ministers as human shields.”

Life’s a beach for quay workers in sunny Dubai

The National, January 15 2021
“One might have thought the global pandemic would have clipped the wings of these so-called ‘influencers’, but the city of Dubai – perhaps not the most obvious safe haven for unmarried pin-ups in thong bikinis – has welcomed them with open arms.”

PMQs sketch: Westminster double standards are clear from what Speaker lets slide

The National, January 13 2021
“The Speaker isn’t happy with the PM’s tone, asserting with touching credulity: ‘I don’t believe anybody’s a hypocrite in this chamber.’ With all the over-optimistic zeal of someone writing out their new year’s resolutions on page one of a fancy new diary, he adds: ‘We’re tidying up how this parliament behaves!’.”

Sketch: Boris Johnson rings in the new year with the same old bouncy bluster

The National, January 7 2021
“When it comes to Ian Blackford’s turn – asking questions about vital vaccination supplies, closing the UK border, support for the self-employment and weasel words from the Chancellor about funding for businesses – the Prime Minister doesn’t appreciate his tone. Why so negative?”


Rees-Mogg and co should be ashamed of UK destitution by design

The National, December 18 2020
“How can the glorious UK strut its stuff on the world stage – taking back control and signing top-notch trade deals left, right and centre – when there are killjoys whining in the wings about trivial domestic matters? If children are going hungry then surely the best solution is to get Brexit done, assert ourselves as an independent coastal state, and let them eat fish.”

PMQs sketch: Johnson gets one thing right – Starmer lacks guts to cancel Christmas

The National, December 16 2020
“Who wants to go down in history as the opposition leader who tried to cancel Christmas? That would be almost as bad as trying to cancel Brexit! Better to just sneak in a mention of warnings from medical journals towards the end of your questioning, so you can later claim you were strongly opposed to the rules relaxation should it prove politically convenient to do so.”

Get ready for Holyrood romcom The Vow 2 starring Gordon Brown

The National, December 11 2020
“This isn’t so much a promise of jam tomorrow but of Marmite in about three years’ time. Or maybe an empty Marmite jar. Or maybe some smashed glass. The grand plan for “devo max” can only be implemented if a Labour government first take power at Westminster in 2024, having battled their way through an election campaign in the aftermath of Brexit and the pandemic.”

PMQs sketch: Boris Johnson rants about towels while a furious Speaker scolds Labour MP

The National, December 9 2020
“Even if no deal is agreed, there was a deal, so no-one is breaking any promises. Oh, and no deal is a deal – an Australian-style deal – even though Australia has no deal. Labour can’t say whether they would back the Government’s deal or not! The fact that the deal doesn’t exist is no excuse for this. Starmer should wrap a towel around his head and … wait, he should what?”

Keira Bell case shows why transgender rights debate can’t be put on hold

The National, December 4 2020
“A young woman named Keira Bell has – diligently, respectfully, and with extraordinary courage – been pressing a pin against the balloon that is “gender affirmative care” for children who identify as transgender. This approach means clinicians confirm the child’s belief that they were born in the wrong body, and therefore their body needs to change.”

PMQs sketch: Boris Johnson takes mischief-making to all new levels in SNP row

The National, December 2 2020
“When Starmer raises concerns about the collapse of the Arcadia group and Debenhams, Johnson need not waste time providing reassurance to those whose jobs are at risk as a result. After all, if Starmer cares so much about jobs, why did he abstain from last night’s vote on opening up the economy, hmm?”

Forget Christmas … the Festival of Brexit will be the event of the year

The National, November 28 2020
“Surely we can forego gathering together on December 25, with all the dangers that would pose, and wait just one more week to celebrate getting Brexit done? Opening thoughtful gifts from loved ones is all very well, but have you tried taking back control by throwing them all onto a bonfire?”

PMQs sketch: Can Boris Johnson learn some manners during his time in isolation?

The National, November 25 2020
“‘It actually is Prime Minister’s Questions, not Leader of the Opposition’s Questions,’ interjects Lindsay Hoyle, but is that enough to silence the artless dodger? Of course not. ‘It’s a reasonable question, Mr Speaker,’ he claps back.”

If Boris Johnson defies the Speaker, will the naughty step beckon?

The National, November 20 2020
“The Prime Minister regularly manages to put Keir Starmer off his stride by flinging out random accusations and insults in the hope some mud will stick or his questioning momentum will be lost. He might not come right out and call the leader of the opposition a “nasty man”, but he certainly implies it with every ridiculous response to questions about PPE supply, lockdowns or Test and Trace.”

Petulant Prime Minister finally scolded for recurring SNP ‘nationalist’ jibe

The National, November 19 2020
“Keir Starmer had wanted to know why the Prime Minister referred to devolution north of the Border as a disaster, and why he was so hell-bent on putting the Union in jeopardy with his steady stream of ignorant comments and deliberate insults. Naturally Johnson replied with more of the same, listing the many ways in which the “Scottish Nationalist Party” had failed to improve the lives of Scots.”

It’s Carrie on politics as Boris Johnson’s partner claims a scalp

The National, November 13 2020
“Is it a bad thing for democracy that the Prime Minister’s partner is apparently wielding huge power when it comes to the hiring and firing of unelected advisors? Undoubtedly yes, it’s an outrage, especially at this time of national crisis when any notions of scrutiny and transparency have gone out the window. But in this instance it’s hard not feel a little bit torn, on the basis that my enemy’s enemy is my friend.”

PR disaster for Keir Starmer as Boris Johnson defends his spending

The National, November 12 2020
“By suggesting the government has been cavalier rather than calculated, Starmer lets Johnson off the hook. He tells us that the PM doesn’t know the value of the pound in his pocket, hence the reckless spending on things like millions of unsuitable face masks, but surely the truth is much more damning: that under the cover of the scramble for PPE, millions of pounds of public money was dished out to firms with no relevant track records but the right connections to people in power.”

PMQs sketch: Boris Johnson stars in a game of bullsh*t bingo

The National, November 4 2020
“Johnson manages to flip-flop twice within the space of a few seconds. Firstly he is ‘hoping very much’ to move to a different approach after December 2, then he has ‘no doubt that we can’ do so (in which case a simply ‘yes’ would have sufficed) and then, with searing pain in his fingertips, he lobbed the hot potato into the air and declared ‘it will be up to the House of Commons to decide!'”

Here’s some ghoulish games for your properly Scottish Halloween

The National, October 30 2020
“Proud Scots will of course be stubbornly carving neeps instead of pumpkins to put in their windows, but please be extra careful with that knife this year. Protect your digits, contain the blood, and keep pressure off the NHS! Your Scottish citizenship will not be revoked if you opt for a pumpkin on health and safety grounds, but you should support Scottish neep farmers with a purchase anyway.”

Douglas Ross can’t possibly keep his hands clean amid Tory dirty tricks

The National, October 23 2020
“Perhaps we are being too cynical to imagine his promotion was carefully mapped out by Johnson and co back in the summer. Maybe Ross really is a man of principle, who understood the implications of accepting this poisoned chalice but pressed ahead anyway just to spare us all further exposure to Michelle Ballantyne.”

PMQs Sketch: Does Boris Johnson expect to still be Prime Minister come spring?

The National, October 21 2020
“For once the Prime Minister declines the opportunity to fire back a question of his own. He might legitimately have asked what Starmer’s exit strategy would be if the whole of the UK found itself in a cycle of circuit-breakers, a soul-crushing tightening and loosening of restrictions with no clear end – and no vaccine – in sight.”

Richard Leonard has an image problem – here’s how he must change

The National, October 16 2020
“Whereas in normal times a small-time party leader seeking to raise his profile could simply hurl himself down a children’s slide or give an interview in front of some rutting pigs, Covid restrictions make such stunts more difficult to organise, and the danger of one’s grinning face appearing near a death toll headline make them much too risky.”

Non-existent Scottish Nationalist Party is ‘gelatinous’, says Boris Johnson

The National, October 14 2020
“It’s a riddle worthy of Lewis Carroll – can a person be both jelly-like and non-existent? Can one wobble without weight, or be moulded without mass? If a Scottish Nationalist Party politician falls off a plate onto the floor of the Commons and there is no-one there to hear it except Boris Johnson, does he or she make a ‘splat!’ sound?”

God-blessed Donald Trump has a swamp battle on his hands

The National, October 9 2020
“A cocktail of steroids and antibodies certainly doesn’t seem to have dampened his spirits, or caused him to reflect on the playground tactics he uses against his opponents. He is rubber, Joe Biden is glue, so when people remarked that he seemed to be struggling to breathe after leaving hospital, Trump’s natural response was to take the earliest opportunity to declare his opponent half-dead.”

PMQs sketch: Ian Blackford told to try again next week with benefits question

The National, October 7 2020
“The crucial thing, says Johnson, is that this doesn’t change the data on the virus spread. Silly us, not realising that Test & Trace is just about gathering data, and that it makes no difference to the virus spread whether people contacted through the system self-isolate or not. That’s definitely not going to send out any mixed messages at all.”

Priti Patel’s wild schemes have turned Westminster’s blue skies stormy

The National, October 2 2020
“There must have been stormy scenes at the Home Office this week when Priti Patel saw the headlines about her team meetings. The blue-sky thinking of her minions was meant to generate workable ideas for stopping asylum seekers crossing the Channel, but instead it’s made everyone involved look silly, mad, evil or some combination of the three.”

PMQs sketch: Ian Blackford accused by Boris Johnson of ‘fomenting grievance’

The National, September 30 2020
“Week in, week out, Keir Starmer asks a question about the coronavirus response and Johnson fires back variations along the lines of ‘Why can’t you just uncritically support everything the government does? Is it because you hate the public/doctors and nurses/care workers/humanity itself?'”

PMQs Sketch: Ian Blackford gives Boris Johnson an almighty scolding

The National, September 24 2020
“The Prime Minister might talk about his government cooking up ‘creative and imaginative schemes’ – but the real scheme is painting the opposition as extremists so that if he does more or less what they demand – by extending furlough in one form or another – he can deny they’ve scored a victory, and present his position as moderate, rational and proportionate.”

Does Job Support Scheme leave zero-hour contract workers high and dry?

The National, September 23 2020
“The scheme announcement raises a lot of questions. Firstly, when the Government refers to an employee and “their hours”, what exactly does that mean? If it means contracted hours – as opposed to average hours, as used for furlough calculations – where does that leave those on the zero-hour contracts that are standard in hospitality, leisure and the arts?'”

A Project Fear might have won it for Yes if we’d known things would get this bad

The National, September 18 2020
“I can understand why, on the anniversary of the indyref, those who have always been Yes get frustrated afresh with those of us who voted No. It’s not surprising that the response to ‘No to Yes’ journeys is often ‘about time’ or ‘glad you’ve come to your senses’ rather than a simple ‘welcome aboard’. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.'”

Keir Starmer’s still out, but his second stand-in got her tone all wrong

The National, September 17 2020
“It’s an inauspicious start when she begins by saying that ‘many people in the chamber today will think the Battle of Britain is today’ and is delusional enough to look pleased with herself for ruining what should have been a sincere tribute to veterans.'”

Do Boris Johnson and Donald Trump think positivity is an antiviral?

The National, September 11 2020
“Grant Shapps assures us that ‘the Prime Minister has talked about 20 minutes to 90 minutes’ as a timeframe for home test results. Heck, why don’t we shoot for five minutes? Why not 90 seconds? Dream big! Presumably instead of consulting scientists, these politicians have been reading pseudoscience self-help guide The Secret, which attests that all you must do to achieve your dreams is ‘ask, believe, and receive’.”

PMQs Sketch: Ian Blackford asks the big question dodged by Keir Starmer

The National, September 9 2020
“Why are some people being told to travel hundreds of miles just to get tested, or that home testing kits are unavailable? Or at least, that’s what I hear Starmer ask. Apparently Boris Johnson hears him say ‘why is NHS Test and Trace rubbish and all of the doctors and nurses involved in delivering it absolutely useless?'”

With big names preparing to resign, is it reshuffle time?

The National, September 4 2020
“The First Minister may have earned huge praise at home and abroad for her careful handling of the pandemic and punishing schedule of daily briefings, but one woman does not a government make. There may be a “me” in government, but it also contains, um, “teem”, and a strong line-up of ministers will need to be in place by next spring if voters are to be convinced that the SNP are firmly focused on both the day job and the long game.”

Keir Starmer gets a birthday gift as Speaker puts rattled PM back in his place

The National, September 3 2020
“Starmer is absolutely fizzing, and would like to remind everyone that he spent years prosecuting terrorists in Northern Ireland. Will Johnson withdraw his remark? Will he hell! ‘I asked him to do the decent thing,’ snapped the Labour leader, ‘but doing the decent thing and this PM don’t go together.'”

The trick to securing a No in indyref2? Rig the vote

The National, August 21 2020
“Johnson is showing his love for our country by allegedly holidaying here, socially distancing himself so successfully that no-one has managed to spot him. Only time, and the presence or absence of midgie bites, will tell. You can hide, but you can’t outrun those wee devils.'”

University at 18 is not the only route to success

The National, August 14 2020
“Of course teachers emphasise the importance of doing well at school – it would be perverse if they didn’t – but this message must be balanced with reassurance that one grade, one university place, one course choice is never the be-all-and-end-all. We live in constantly evolving times, and the stark truth is that some of the jobs for which youngsters are studying now might be largely obsolete, or outsourced overseas, by the time the ink is dry on their certificates.”

Jackie Baillie’s poisonous p**h could cause real harm

The National, August 7 2020
“Of course teachers emphasise the importance of doing well at school – it would be perverse if they didn’t – but this message must be balanced with reassurance that one grade, one university place, one course choice is never the be-all-and-end-all. We live in constantly evolving times, and the stark truth is that some of the jobs for which youngsters are studying now might be largely obsolete, or outsourced overseas, by the time the ink is dry on their certificates.”

Did no-one tell Jackson Carlaw he can outsource tricky jobs?

The National, July 31 2020
“Why should he, the Scottish Tory leader, be thundering his socks off at Holyrood, and subjecting himself to media grillings over rising support for independence amid the pandemic, when his big boss down south can barely be bothered to turn up for a meeting or properly answer a PMQ?”

Boris Johnson’s one-man circus fails to wow despite mighty claims

The National, July 24 2020
“Nicola Sturgeon might have been cautioning that no-one should be going around crowing about the UK’s pandemic response, let alone seeking to make political capital from it, but the Prime Minister managed to shift the spotlight back onto himself with a dazzling display of juggling giant crabs.”

PMQs sketch: Boris Johnson dodges a hot potato on the eve of his Scotland visit

The National, July 23 2020
“An exasperated Keir Starmer is determined to get his opponent to answer the bloody question, asserting that the Labour party is now under new management and spluttering with pots-and-kettles-based outrage that he’s being accused of “more flip-flops than Bournemouth Beach”. Geddit? It’s a joke about people flocking to the seaside in large numbers and putting themselves at risk of a potentially fatal illness. Tee hee hee!”

A double-crossing Tory MP makes Russians look benign

The National, July 17 2020
“The new chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Julian Lewis, not only double-crossed the Tories to snatch the role from Chris Grayling this week but also infiltrated the Labour party in the 1970s? They say it takes one to know one, but surely having a double agent lead the intelligence committee is taking things too far?”

Boris Johnson hasn’t done his homework but opposition questions are pants

The National, July 16 2020
“When he declined to comment on whether he would be accepting the recommendations in full, Starmer pressed him on whether he had actually read it. ‘I’m of course aware of the report,’ came the shameless reply, met with howls of derision from the benches but – oddly – barely a shrug from his opponent.”

Tories need to keep calm and make up some catchier slogans

The National, July 10 2020
“The big reveal of the restaurant deal must have felt like a punch to the guts of those who are struggling just to get by and can only dream of a meal out, even a half-price one. To those who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, or have fallen through holes in the safety net of the furlough scheme, Sunak has quite literally responded with ‘bogof’.”

PMQs sketch: Sorry seems to be the hardest word for repetitive Johnson

The National, July 9 2020
“He couldn’t even muster up a Priti Patel-style sneer and a ‘sorry if you misunderstood my statement blaming care homes as me blaming care homes’, instead opting to just repeat his thanks to those he had early claimed ‘didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have’.”

Rees-Mogg’s gaslighting of Sturgeon borders on the ridiculous

The National, July 3 2020
“Was this just another one of my very vivid dreams? I did press the snooze button several times yesterday morning. Or did Jacob Rees-Mogg really compare an entire nation to a few dozen streets in central London?”

I’m confused – could the real Ed Davey please stand up?

The National, June 26 2020 
“One suspects his audacious rebranding attempt has a lot to do with the fact that his opponent, Layla Moran, made the ingenious strategic move of not getting elected until 2017. It is probably a source of concern to Davey that Moran, if she wished, could run on a platform of ‘I WASN’T IN THE COALITION THOUGH!'”

Colour-blind PM paints himself into a corner with Alistair Carmichael gaffe

The National, June 19 2020 
“If identifying flags are so important to the Prime Minister, maybe as a top priority he should look into having the faces of SNP MPs painted with Saltires, so that he can distinguish them from all the other parliamentarians with Scottish accents.”

This is why JK Rowling’s non-fiction foray caused a furore

The National, June 12 2020 
“Fortunately for her own sanity, the woman who made up muggles and quidditch and death eaters knows the difference between things that are real and things that are the product of human imaginations. She knows that sex is determined by chromosomes whereas gender is a made-up set of rules about how men and women ought to be.”

We could keep MPs safe in a new IKEA parliament

The National, June 5 2020
“If we can open temporary field hospitals in a matter of weeks, why can’t we establish a 21st-century parliament with sufficient room for social distancing, wipe-down desks and seats with machine-washable covers? We could call it VÖTSAFE.”

UK Cabinet’s laughter will continue and the joke’s on us

The National, May 29 2020
“What excuses will they come up with next? I drove my car to the garage because its wheels were falling off? I shook hands with everyone to check my fingers were still working? I laughed on live TV to test the public’s hearing?”

Why the latest Jennifer Arcuri news does not meant the PM can relax

The National, May 22 2020 
“Some of Arcuri’s comments raised eyebrows. ‘I’ve been nothing but loyal, faithful, supportive, and a true confidante of yours – I’ve kept your secrets and I’ve been your friend,’ she said, with the steely, measured tone of someone who might just be willing, for the right price, to be disloyal, unfaithful and blab a load of secrets to a tabloid newspaper.”

Here’s the rich Tory’s guide to bending lockdown rules

The National, May 15 2020 
“Rules are for fools, they certainly are not for loaded Tories like yourself. Douglas Bader didn’t shoot down Germans over Dunkirk in 1940 so that 80 years later you could sit cowering in one of your many properties, too afraid to drive a few hundred miles to Scotland in your Mercedes E-class.”

Spare a thought for Matt Hancock’s tone police at the NHS clap

The National, May 8 2020 
“I could understand the accusation of a tone violation if Dr Allin-Khan had called Matt Hancock a useless prick, a patronising little scrote or a truth-twisting toad. Had she done so she would doubtless have been reprimanded for using unparliamentary language. But I must stress that she did not call him any of those things.”

Confused? You will be if you listen to muddled David Mundell

The National, May 1 2020 
“It’s odd, isn’t it, that personal responsibility is so important to the Conservatives when it comes to folk being in employment, making healthy life choices and leaving the benefits safety net for the ‘deserving poor’, but the idea of someone making a personal judgement about face-coverings is one big bamboozling step too far.”

Coronavirus is a game-changer … it’s time to play politics

The National, April 24 2020
“If now is not the time for playing politics, does that imply that doing so in other times (say, for example, during an election campaign) is acceptable? If so, perhaps someone should set out the conditions that must be met before politics as usual can be safely practised, along with any protective measures that will need to be put in place.”

Survivalists and conspiracy theorists were a step ahead

The National, April 17 2020 
“Some would have you believe the suggestion retailers were operating an ‘England-only’ policy is a Scottish nationalist conspiracy theory, despite ample evidence that the policy was in place and that firms were following instructions – or at least claimed to be following instructions – from Public Health England”.

The closure of newspapers signals dark times ahead

The National, April 10 2020 
“You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. If papers that don’t fit your political views are struggling, the ones you trust for your information will be too. We need information and critical analysis now more than ever.”

Do not be disheartened over festival cancellations – the shows must go on

The National, April 3 2020
“I refuse to believe that the biggest concentration of creative minds in the world – a population who live and breathe the mantra “the show must go on” – are going to let this virus kill off the fruits of their artistic labour. I guarantee that as you read this, directors, producers, performers and techies are brainstorming a whole host of novel solutions.”

Plant-whispering like Prince Charles is my new normal

The National, March 27 2020 (paywall)
“I saw through the peep-hole that one of the couriers had brought along his little boy, who was wearing a tiny hi-vis vest. It’s the little things that set you off, isn’t it? A wee lad ‘helping’ his daddy work. A girl sitting on a park bench, weeping. A pensioner faced with empty shelves when looking for eggs or a can of soup.”

MSPs should be leading by example, not flocking to their canteen

The National, March 20 2020 
“Ordinary people – including those for whom getting out and about is a key part of their recovery from addiction or mental health problems – are making changes to protect themselves and others. And yet it seems a significant number of our MSPs appear to have fewer qualms about gathering together in their own small space to eat lunch.”

Coronavirus shows the folly of electing Boris Johnson and Donald Trump

The National, March 13 2020 
“it doesn’t take an expert to see that public statements by Donald Trump and Boris Johnson since the beginning of the crisis have been less about science and statistics and more about personalities and politics. It’s clear these two men have prioritised promoting their own ‘strong man’ images over-using their positions to hammer home vitally important public health information.”

Does Nicola Sturgeon have a Plan B for resolving SNP gender row?

The National, March 6 2020 
“Black vs Cherry is not just a personality clash but a battle of ideologies that has become extremely personal and potentially very damaging not just to the SNP but to Scottish politics are a whole. It’s become a cautionary tale showing what can happen when governing politicians dig in their heels, refuse to listen to anyone outside their bubbles, and badly underestimate the potential strength of public opposition to their plans.”

Why Boris Johnson’s ‘oven-ready deal’ may yet prove inedible

The National, February 28 2020 
“The pronouncements about an oven-ready deal did, of course, mean only that the UK had stopped arguing with itself. The next stage of negotiations was conveniently glossed over, and it seems thousands of voters were only too happy to delude themselves into believing this would be the end of the matter at long bloody last.”

The real question we should ask about Home Secretary Priti Patel

The National, February 21 2020 
“It’s little wonder Patel has called for “wider investment in technology and automation” as an alternative to employers hiring immigrants. Every science fiction fan knows that a critical mass of robots in homes, workplaces and armies is required before they can – having quietly attained consciousness – take over.”

It’s not the job of reporters to #BeKind to people in public office

The National, February 19 2020 
“One wonders whether those expressing outrage at ‘unkind’ reporting about Flack following her arrest will be similarly dismayed by the lack of kindness shown to Andrew Sabisky, a 27-year-old who went overnight from obscurity to notoriety, his name now forever associated with some awful things he wrote when he was 21. ”

Loss of Sajid Javid leaves Boris Johnson looking even weaker

The National, February 14 2020
“With just four weeks to go until Budget day, and less than three months after giving ‘an absolutely categorical assurance’ he was going to keep Javid as his chancellor, Johnson has shoved him out and promoted junior minister Rishi Sunak to the second-most- important role in government. Presumably this was on the condition that Sunak simply nods his head and goes along with every instruction he is given from Number 10.”

Ruth Davidson in the House of Lords would be yet another PR blunder

The National, February 7 2020
“While the odd shameless blagger might manage to work her way in, most of those in the House of Lords are worn-out or rejected politicians who have been put out to pasture. Given that Davidson is barely over 40, and was recently being tipped as a future Prime Minister, this all feels a little premature.

‘Fanciful and deranged’? That sounds like the pot calling the kettle black

The National, January 31 2020
“There’s certainly nothing deranged about seeking to protect Scotland from the UK Government’s one-size-fits-all immigration policy. In truth, it’s a one-size-fits-none policy that is less about meeting the needs of any part of the UK’s economy than it is about satisfying the demands of Little Englanders.”

At a time of global coronavirus crisis, the UK’s focus is shameful

The National, January 24 2020 
“At this point in time the leaders of the UK seem more concerned about the next seven days than the next seven weeks, let alone the next seven decades, and much more concerned about the symbolic sounding of one real clock than the urgent ticking of any number of symbolic ones. As recently as last Tuesday Boris Johnson said the government was ‘working up a plan so people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong’ to mark the UK’s departure from the EU.”

Watch your back if we end up in a Nandy state

The National, January 17 2020
“I don’t know about you, but I was trying not to get sucked into this series of British Islands. It’s come far too soon after the summer one, in which we invested far too much time and emotional energy. I wonder if a panicked producer pulled Nandy for a chat on Wednesday and asked her to inject a bit more drama into the leadership race. To give Scotland a metaphorical kick in the crotch, if you will, and really get the viewers talking. If so, it certainly worked”

Is a UDI the best way to escape the royal family?

The National, January 10 2020
“It’s apparent that Harry and Meghan did not write to her requesting permission to vote on whether they should remain “senior” royals, and instead just went ahead and did it. Clearly it wasn’t worth the risk that Her Majesty would reply saying ‘now is not the time’, or that she was a bit busy with other things but would reply in due course to a 38-page document setting out the reasons why the couple should be free to choose their own path.”

It is society that needs to change, not girls’ bodies

The National, January 3 2020 
“Many of those referred to gender clinics are lesbians – so many, in fact, that one of the numerous whistle-blowers to have quit the English system has said that sending youngsters down a path to gender transition ‘feels like conversion therapy for gay children’. That’s something one would imagine the TIE campaign, which aims to combat homophobia, would be at least slightly concerned about.”


Will Greta Thunberg’s efforts mean next year’s Secret Santa is doomed?

The National, December 27 2019 (paywall)
“It’s all very well reusing your Bags for Life for the weekly shop, recycling your newspapers and milk cartons and scouring charity shops for pre-loved clothes, but if your attitude is still that nothing but brand new will do for your Christmas gifts then all of your virtuous efforts from January to November will have counted for little.”

End of the line for Abellio… now we need joined-up thinking

The National, December 20 2019 (paywall)
“Abellio is wholly owned by the Dutch national rail operator, and in 2017 transport staff union the TSSA went as far as creating a spoof SNP party political broadcast to highlight the fact that profits from ScotRail were going towards improving rail services in The Netherlands. In fact Abellio has lost tens of millions of pounds running the franchise, so while the political theory was sound (and the “people before profit” point stands), the reality was a little different and the actual profit non-existent.”

BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg should not be falling for Tory stunts

The National, December 13 2019 (paywall)
“Was it fair of Kuenssberg to breathlessly tweet that a Labour activist had punched an advisor to Health Secretary Matt Hancock when things “turned nasty” at a protest outside a hospital, despite no reliable evidence that this had actually happened? Was she really confident this claim was truthful despite her sources being Tory aides who – I don’t know – might have had an agenda to push, two days before an election and mere hours after the Prime Minister had sparked outrage by refusing to look at a picture of a boy lying on a hospital floor?”

Has delirium set in, or is it this General Election that’s mad?

The National, December 7 2019 (paywall)
“After a particularly violent sneeze on Wednesday afternoon, I opened my eyes and there was a rosy-cheeked Miles Briggs MSP opening a giant advent calendar, wearing a reindeer jumper. There were only two doors, despite it being eight days until the election. What does this all mean?”

Could this be the kind of TV grilling that has Johnson running scared?

The National, November 30 2019 (paywall)
“So, is Boris Johnson running scared from Andrew Neil? Surely not. Our strong-man Prime Minister can’t be afraid of a few simple questions. He can’t possibly be imagining that a politician of his integrity, a statesman of his standing, could be undone by having facts fired directly at his face faster than he has time to process them, let alone reply to them.”

Tories like Michael Gove lying during an election campaign? No-no-no

The National, November 23 2019 (paywall)
“Does Gove think we are stupid? Does he honestly imagine we don’t notice what he’s doing? Some might argue these questions involved the splitting of hairs about whether a given hospital is new as opposed to refurbished, or whether a tightening of EU rules can be fairly described as a ‘ban’, and that politicians have been spinning and side-stepping in this manner since the dawn of time. But this week the Tories crossed a line. And worse still, they haven’t ruled out crossing it again.”

Brazening it out on TV won’t propel Jo Swinson into Number 10

The National, November 16 2019 (paywall)
“The self-styled ‘girly swot’ might want voters to think she’s striking a blow for feminism, but it increasingly seems like the only female person she really cares about is herself. Why else lobby for her own inclusion in TV debates, while crying wolf about sexism, but not make a case that Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the third-largest party in the UK by both representation and membership, should be in the line-up too?”

This is why Johnson is acting like a playground bully towards Scotland

The National, November 9 2019 (paywall)
“Boris Johnson is aware that we have radio and television here in Scotland. He knows we have newspapers and the internet. He knows exactly how Scottish people – not just independence supporters, but the great majority of Scottish people – will feel about his casual threat to remove Scotland’s powers over its own health service. But he does not care. Why would he?”

Defences of Ruth Davidson’s new role just won’t wash

The National, October 25 2019 (paywall)
“We’ve known for years that there’s little more to Davidson’s skillset than bluster, but if this is the level of insight for which Tulchan Communications are paying £50,000 a year, they’re even more gullible than the folk who voted for her.”

BBC bullies should be ashamed of themselves

The National, October 18 2019 (paywall)
“Listening to Nihal Arthanayake’s interrogation, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that young people were specifically sought out for this segment because they would be easier to bully. Older, more experienced SNP members might have taken the presenter to task over his framing of the questions. And if they’d been misled by producers about what the conversation would involve, they might have come out and said so, live on air.”

Popcorn at the ready for a Breaking Britain movie

The National, October 11 2019 (paywall)
“Viewers across the UK and beyond have been gripped by this story of one man’s descent into uncontrolled megalomania, unlawful behaviour, and reckless gambling with other people’s lives. The finale of the TV show saw anti-hero Boris Johnson hurtling towards the EU summit, leaving a trail of political destruction behind. Having cooked up his very own brand of highly addictive soundbites, he had cornered the market and eliminated his rivals.”

Our guide to planning your Union Day celebrations!

The National, October 4 2019 (paywall)
“Forget positivity. This won’t be an occasion for smiling, or laughing, or dancing round a maypole wearing a Jeremy Corbyn mask. Instead it will be a time of grim-faced reflection. Of celebrating the strength of the precious Union but doing so with stony dignity, without anyone making spectacles of themselves.”

Here’s how Tories trick the media to get rid of ‘Boris Bad’ news stories

The National, October 1 2019 (paywall)
“This week, as people are using the word ‘model’ to search for stories about the PM’s links to Jennifer Arcuri, the PM has described himself as a ‘model of restraint’. And this isn’t the first time he has spoken about models. In June, the then frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest delivered a bizarre ramble about his hobby of making model buses out of cardboard boxes. At the time, it was hard to explain this weird little performance. Now it’s all becoming clear.”

A star is born in Kevin Foster as PM dodges urgent questions

The National, September 27 2019 (paywall)
“It was the gig of a lifetime. My big shot at stardom. No longer would I just be Kevin Foster, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales. I would be proud defender of the Prime Minister, his best supporting actor at a time of national crisis. I would be in the papers, on the telly, trending on Twitter, he said. ‘You’ve got a bright future ahead of you,’ he said. Just stick to the script.”

The Queen is not amused at Cameron’s blabbing … but did he miss a trick?

The National, September 20 2019 (paywall)
“As if the Queen didn’t have enough on her plate right now, what with the collapse of Westminster democracy, headlines about her being hoodwinked and season three of The Crown in post-production. The last thing she needed was blabbermouth David Cameron emerging from under his rock to spill more royal secrets in a bid to flog his book.”

The bogeyman lurking in women’s toilets is real

The National, May 31 2019 (paywall)
“Women are pushing back against an assault on their freedoms – including the freedom to attend exhibitions, gigs and plays without fear of harassment or assault by men in toilets – but when it comes to the crunch, how many risk being fobbed off or disbelieved? It’s like #MeToo never happened.”

How to conduct a witch hunt of female SNP politicians

The National, April 19 2019 (paywall)
“Thank you for using our Witchfinder app to report concerns about female behaviour in your community. The work of the Witchfinder General of Scotland (WGoS) depends on the vigilance of civic-minded individuals to ensure all reports of concerning behaviour are properly investigated and, where necessary, addressed via appropriate enforcement action.”

Why we have so much to learn from ‘old and irrelevant’ women

The National, January 18 2019 (paywall)
“When old and irrelevant women get together in large numbers, you can feel a buzz in the air. There’s something electrifying about occasions when these women – the ones who certain men really, really wish would shut up – stand their ground, pick up microphones and share what they have learned from a lifetime of resistance.”


Toy.JPGGeneric gifts from Santa let children know they are poor
The National, December 7 2018
“I can’t help but wonder if a collection of generic gifts, chosen purely on the basis of a child’s age and sex, might bring less cheer than a modest cash donation which could be used by a parent or carer to buy an item or two specially requested from Santa.”

panto.JPGCan Theresa save the day for Brexit Britain? Oh yes she can!
The National, November 30 2018
“Join our heroine on a magical adventure to convert a pocketful of magic beans into £350 million a week for the NHS. Marvel as she clambers her way into a giant pickle! Gasp as she fights off villains from stage left and right! Clap your hands if you believe in Brexit, and bring the Chequers deal back to life!”

blobby2.jpgAn indyref2 campaign guide for our Scotland in Union pals
The National, November 23 2018
“Better Together’s ‘love bomb’ may have reeked of desperation, but that doesn’t mean star power won’t be key to securing a No vote in indyref2 … but it’s important to enlist the right celebrity – a national treasure with charm and gravitas.”

apprentice.JPGWho will be left once the Brexit blame game is played out?
The National, November 16 2018
” Those Brexit-themed donuts we took to Brussels were a disaster, and no-one wants to travel with our Disunited Airlines because they’re scared the pilot might bail out halfway through the flight.”

coffin.JPGA corpse just got elected but let’s face it, he’s not the worst politician around
The National, November 9 2018
“This result raises a lot of questions. Would a local government made up of ghosts do a better job than the current fleshy representatives? How do you draw constituency boundaries in heaven and hell? Can you have your Las Vegas marriage officiated by an ordained zombie pimp?”

MoneyFleeing Scotland to avoid the Nat Tax? Here’s where to go…
The National, November 2 2018
“Some of those living in Scotland may well weigh up their options and decide that chaotic Little England looks like a great bet right now, simply because the UK’s embarrassed Chancellor has come out of hiding for long enough to woo his party’s core voters. Good luck to them. The door will still be open if they decide to come back.”

Goat hunterWhy the goat hunter of Islay has just done us all a favour
The National, October 26 2018
“The Larysa Switlyk (Latin name: troglodytes cowardice) selects its prey on the basis of beauty, because there’s no more beautiful animal than a dead one. After each kill, it manipulates the corpse, or “trophy”, into a lifelike pose to take photographs before fleeing the scene.”

MinceWashed-up loudmouth George Galloway’s latest mince can be safely ignored
The National, October 19 2018
“Who would have believed that the current MP for nowhere wasn’t the most reliable source for information about behind-the-scenes wrangling at Westminster? Who’d ever have imagined this washed-up loudmouth was more interested in getting his allegedly gorgeous face in the papers than adding anything of value to the Brexit debate?”

Ross ThomsonPrime time TV is clearly where Tory MP Ross Thomson belongs
The National, October 12 2018
“Ross isn’t worried about jobs, or food supplies, or passport queues – he’s concerned about the state of your carpets. The evil EU last year banned the sale of vacuum cleaners with motors more powerful than 900W, no doubt as part of a cunning plan to sabotage sales of Great British products such as Hobnobs, Ginger Nuts and Mini Cheddars.”

ShekuIt’s vital that the police view all lives as worth preserving
The National, October 5 2018
“Force was applied to Sheku Bayoh when he was restrained by at least four police officers. When his body was examined he was found to have dozens of injuries, including numerous cuts to his face and a broken rib. He also sustained petechial haemorrhages in his eyes, which his family say point to positional asphyxiation – in other words, that the position in which he was held by police left him unable to breathe.”

BlaseySpeaking out about sex crimes rarely leads to justice
The National, September 28 2018
“Her voice wobbled as she told how she had agonised over whether or not to give evidence, and in doing so put herself and her family in the spotlight. In the end, she says the decision was made for her – journalists began hounding her and those close to her, telling her it was inevitable her identity would be made public.”

SmartphoneThe moral panic about girls on social media dismisses their voices
The National, September 21 2018
“There’s an obvious tension between two of the most prominent current narratives around girls: the moral panic around their use of the internet; and the push to get more of them interested in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).”

abcsTesting times demand a grown-up debate about measuring P1s progress
The National, September 14 2018
“Beyond the Punch and Judy show of the Holyrood chamber a far more nuanced discussion is being had about how to measure progress, how to interpret and use assessment results, and how the attainment gap between the least and most advantaged pupils might be narrowed.”

BodyguardA ‘snooper’s charter’ is no match for Facebook
The National, September 7 2018
“It will surely come as a shock to many people that while the authorities can tap phones, open mail, bug houses and put suspects (and their dogs) under surveillance, they can’t access a digital source of evidence that prior to the crime may have been viewable by hundreds of people, or even been largely public.”

cONTRACEPTIONNatural contraception? Don’t believe the hype
The National, August 31 2018
“If natural is best then why not ditch the Pill, with its synthetic hormones, in favour of a modern, trendy app subscription? Why not match your birth-control method to your organic, wholegrain diet, your mineral make-up regime and your #natural messy bun?”

cORBYNSorry Jeremy, when you make mistakes they’ll be reported
The National, August 24 2018
“Oh, Jeremy Corbyn. Remember those heady days when a catchphrase and a sound bite were enough to inspire optimism amid the gloom of Tory austerity? When the momentum was with you, the Glastonbury crowd went wild for you and anything seemed possible? Now the tide has turned.”

hospital.JPGThere’s nothing ‘peaceful’ about protests outside hospitals
The National, August 17 2018
“We would not stand for right-to-die campaigners issuing calls for legislative change from outside geriatric wards or funeral homes. We would condemn anyone who chose to protest against the testing of primary one by doorstopping teachers. So why on earth should we tolerate this?”

rape crisisWho should we trust to keep vital charities afloat?
The National, August 10 2018
“The government can’t simply open the public purse every time a charity gets a knock-back from the third sector, so what criteria will be used when it comes to providing or withholding lifelines?”

InstagramDon’t blame customers like me for the demise of the high street
The National, August 3 2018
“If Instagram knows I like rabbits, feminism and fit-and-flare dresses, there’s no reason why a multi-brand retailer with physical stores couldn’t learn this, and more, about my tastes and then alert me any time relevant items come in stock.”

men sign2I’m happy to be thrown out of men-only spaces
The National, July 27 2018
“Sure, I’m curious about what goes on behind the doors that are closed to me because I’m a woman, but I understand the importance of single-sex spaces – all the more so, I’m not ashamed to say, because a man took the time to explain why they matter to him.”

piggy bank.jpgGirls, here’s how to maximise that pocket-money pay gap
The Herald, July 23 2018
“But do mothers and fathers perhaps imagine that their daughters will never be the breadwinners in their households, or the ones making decisions about mortgages, loans, savings and investments?”

prayingIn a world of choice, do we really need chaplains?
The National, July 20 2018
“Perhaps in decades past those starting at university required help connecting with local religious groups, but in the 21st century this signposting seems quite unnecessary. Students can easily type a few words into Google Maps then venture off campus to find a church, chapel, mosque, gurdwara or any other place of worship.”

tennis.jpgIt’s not sexist to suggest giving birth is a big deal
The Herald, July 16 2018
“Recognising the biological differences between men and women isn’t sexism, it’s common sense, and glossing over these when discussing reproduction is a terrible strategy for tackling sexist discrimination.”

Black cabOh boy, it’s bad form to call a woman ‘good girl’
The National, July 13 2018
“There is a world of difference between a man or woman self-describing as a boy or a girl, or using the term to refer to their peers, and the word being assigned to them. Perhaps my taxi driver refers to male political commentators as good boys, but somehow I very much doubt it.”

RCS.pngDo envious parents stop creative pupils from living the dream?
The Herald, July 9 2018
“if my own school experience is anything to go by, the creative sector is not just open to an elite few, but to anyone with the drive to turn their passion into a career.”

trollSometimes we have no choice but to feed a troll
The National, July 6 2018
“The solution might seem simple: don’t feed the trolls. Don’t retweet, don’t quote, don’t dignify any stream of invective or a package of fake news with any sort of response  … but does ignoring trolls actually have the desired effect?”

SwinneyAre John Swinney’s education reforms really empowering?
The National, June 29 2018
“Nicola Sturgeon, of all people, should be aware of the dangers of bestowing additional powers on people who don’t actually want them, and who lack the necessary resources to achieve desired outcomes.”

Jeremy BalfourMale victims of domestic abuse do exist … and they deserve support
The National, June 22 2018
“But when the question “what about male victims of domestic abuse?” is asked, it’s not fair to assume the person asking it has an anti-woman agenda, or is trying to undermine (or snatch funding away from) efforts to help female victims.”

gavel.PNGRuth Davidson’s ‘soft on crime’ charge doesn’t stand up to scrutiny
The National, June 15 2018
“Davidson, it seems, would have offenders serve the entire length of their sentences behind bars before being spat out into the community without any monitoring at all. Is this the safe option? Hardly.”

Kim and TrumpDon’t knock Kim Kardashian West for trying to make a difference
The National, June 1 2018
“There’s no reason to assume Kardashian West – the mother of three mixed-race children – isn’t sincere in her efforts to draw attention to the mass incarceration of people of colour in the United States.”

Valentine.JPGTime to stop telling girls they must put male feelings first
The National, May 25 2018
“Shana Fisher said no, and now she’s dead. According to her parents, the 16-year-old from Santa Fe had endured months of harassment by the time she finally told the boy responsible to “cut it out”. She even spoke to her mother about her fear of him killing her. And then it happened.”

ContractSorry David Mundell, Scots understand the small print only too well
The National, May 18 2018
“The bold Mundell went on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland to explain why yes, the customer is always right … except in this particular case, where the customer is not only wrong but too dim-witted to even understand what the deal is all about.”

no problem hereIt’s wishful thinking to suggest Scotland is racism-free
The National, May 11 2018
“When the headlines this week proclaimed that Scotland has a problem with racism, just like the rest of the UK – and that notions of exceptionalism are not supported by the evidence – many were quick to cry “Unionist fake news!”. No-one likes to be told bad things about the country in which they live.”

algorithmPutting blind faith in algorithms is a recipe for disaster
The National, May 4 2018
“The advance of technology brings many benefits … but it does not mean we can simply switch off our brains. Computers are not sexist, racist or otherwise prejudiced, but the flawed people who programme them may well be, even if they don’t realise it.”

incelLone wolf? No, these ‘incels’ are misogynist terrorists
The National, April 27 2018
“It’s easy to despair. It’s much harder to start conversations with miserable boys and men about their feelings, and healthy, non-violent ways to deal with them. But these conversations urgently need to be had – in the home, in school, in youth clubs, among peers. Misogyny, just like Islamism, is a cancer, but if it’s caught early the prognosis is positive.”

ToryYou don’t have to be a sociopath to be a Tory, but it helps
The National, April 20 2018
“This is a man who went, as a representative of the UK, to a country that was bombed to bits by the West in the process of removing a murderous dictator, and took a break between meetings with senior Iraqi government figures to pretend to be said murderous dictator, for the LOLs.”

HomelandTruth is stranger than fiction in this new ‘trust no-one’ era
The Herald, April 13 2018
“Is Homeland merely throwaway Sunday-night entertainment, or could it be something more sinister? Is there a mainstream-media conspiracy to churn out “Russiaphobic” propaganda and reboot the Cold War?”

brainWe feminists are lucky to have men pointing out our mistakes
The National, April 13 2018
“The peer-review process should guard against hasty conclusions, but it involves fallible humans who are likely to be more open to findings that build on what’s gone before (including their own work in the field) than ones that challenge orthodoxy and put the cat among the pigeons (or the buff-breasted sandpiper among the drosophila).”

testeosteroSexist biases in science are still fuelling inequality
The National, April 6 2018
“Rather than helping to banish outdated notions, the emergence of new technology has simply opened the door for more dodgy science. The ability to scan human brains has, Cordelia Fine argues, resulted in a collection of well-publicised studies with tiny sample sizes that simply present ‘old-fashioned sexism dressed up in neuroscientific finery’.”

Wheatley2It’s OK for us to say that even Labour get it right occasionally
The National, March 30 2018
“What better reminder of the huge gulf between Labour men past and present? John Wheatley was once suspended from the Commons for calling a Tory milk-snatcher a murderer. Paul Sweeney is probably best know for egging on the bottom-feeders of the internet by calling Mhairi Black a skiver.”

GunsHere’s what I learned on my cruise about America and guns
The National, March 23 2018
“Without WiFi and suffering from news deprivation, I ask a fellow traveller from Alabama to provide me with a quick fix over dessert. Stephen Hawking has died, he informs me. A pedestrian bridge has collapsed in Florida, crushing drivers underneath. Oh, and in his home state a gunman is on the loose in a hospital. It’s not yet know if there are any casualties.”

laptop credit cardTime to face facts: we can’t stop kids watching porn
The National, March 16 2018
“From next month, in theory, it should not be possible for anyone in the UK to watch online pornography without first proving they are over 18. I say in theory, because at this late stage no-one seems at all sure how age verification will work, how the privacy of adult viewers will be protected, or what (if anything) will be done to stop web-savvy teenagers finding ways around whatever systems are put in place.”

citizen girlTeenagers are ripping up the rules and creating a new kind of politics
The National, March 9 2018
“For the students of Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the political is extremely personal. Since the February 14 massacre in which 17 of their classmates died, a passionate, articulate group of them have been making their voices heard – and making a real difference. ”

buriedThe gig economy has taken root in Scotland’s universities
The National, March 2 2018
“When mention is made of insecure, zero-hours, exploitative jobs, most people think of the retail and hospitality industries, not of higher education. The “gig economy” of precarious labour conjures up images of driving taxis or delivering food, not planning tutorials and marking essays. Yet this is the reality for academics across the UK.”

prisonWhy plans to change our gender identity laws must be prison-proof
The National, February 23, 2018
“From time to time, a case related to transgender identity and prisons will come to public attention – usually via a tabloid newspaper report quoting “prison sources” – that prompts outrage. But not everyone with concerns about transgender rights in prison is a frothing right-winger.”

nesFor many leaving care, independence comes at a high price
The National, February 16, 2018
“For most young people, flying the nest is a thrilling experience. Crucially, for most human beings, it includes the freedom to return to the nest as a welcome visitor any time. But imagine, if you can, that there is no nest.”

Dom AbuseIf short jail terms don’t work, why make an exception for domestic abusers?
The National, February 9, 2018
“It is clear the direction of travel in Scotland is away from locking people up … but how does this stance fit with last week’s progressive move – the landmark vote in favour of criminalising coercive control and psychologically abusive behaviour in intimate relationships?”

letter writersScotland in Union’s cabal of letter writers isn’t our real problem … women’s voices are missing
The National, February 2, 2018
“The National has many loyal and highly articulate male letter-writers, whose informative, persuasive and witty words appear in our pages on a weekly basis if not more frequently. But when it comes to gender balance in The National Conversation, we have a long way to go. Why might this be?”


Time to think big when it comes to exporting Scottish skills
The National, January 26, 2018
“What’s made clear in Alexander Payne’s Downsizing is that societies of any size will always need innovators and entrepreneurs as well as doctors, cleaners and carers. And they will continue to need the kind of services that Scotland is exporting worldwide.”

rainbow flagWomen must not be silenced in the debate on gender identity
The National, January 19, 2018
“When it comes to the current consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, it is women who MSPs are finding easy to ignore. Specifically, women who believe that if the state decides the word “woman” has no objective meaning, then statistics will be skewed, protections will be lost and children – particularly young lesbian girls – risk being seriously harmed.”

computers.jpgIs it really the job of schools to pump out work-ready youngsters?
The National, January 12, 2018
“Maybe schools should be aiming to produce well-rounded, thoughtful and adaptable young people, rather than steering them down narrow paths of vocational learning at the first indication they won’t be heading to university.”

Camera pic.jpgLet’s ring in a happy new year of kindness to strangers
The National, January 5, 2018
“Tech-savvy friends are aghast at my failure to lock my mobile phone, but if it weren’t for kind-hearted amateur detectives calling ‘Mum’ or popping up in a WhatsApp chat with my friends, I’d have gone through two additional handsets in the last three months alone.”


uni library.jpgNobody is trying to ban free speech at universities
The National, December 29, 2017
“Students, it seems, are to be protected from their own wrong opinions by a watchdog that will have the power to fine universities for pandering to them – or rather, for not interfering any time a minor stooshie involving a student-led group erupts.”

hug.jpgIncest law remains, but are we storing up problems for the future?
The National, December 22, 2017
“Depending on the number of eggs harvested and embryos created during IVF treatment, a clutch of full siblings could be born and raised in separate families, with no knowledge that their siblings exist.”

cat photo.jpgCat Person shows it’s not just elderly folk who are desperate to connect
The National, December 15, 2017
“In real life, as in quality fiction, we’re all flawed. Algorithm-based dating technology may give the impression The One is out there, just waiting to be discovered by a diligent box-ticker, but what if a much better match is just a couple of years older, or lives five miles further away, or can’t be faffed with internet dating?”

kids football.jpg

Sports coaches are well placed to spot child protection concerns
The National, December 8, 2017
“It’s obvious to us as adults that there’s a world of difference between a high-five after a goal and a hand on a knee in an empty changing room, but the distinction may be less clear to a child, especially if they are being showered with positive attention for their sporting achievements.”

HughPM.PNGWe need a Prime Minister who will stand up to bullies, actually
The Herald, December 4, 2017
“May’s Brexit bush tucker trial is being made an awful lot more difficult by her supposed subordinates, who are gleefully throwing cockroaches in her face and mockingly shouting “strong and stable” as she walks a wobbly plank towards agreement with Brussels.”

fireworks.jpgFirms using volunteers should put people before profit
The National, November 30, 2017
“May’s Brexit bush tucker trial is being made an awful lot more difficult by her supposed subordinates, who are gleefully throwing cockroaches in her face and mockingly shouting “strong and stable” as she walks a wobbly plank towards agreement with Brussels.”

microphone.jpgPaying women for their time is the best response to ‘manels’
The Herald, November 27, 2017
“When considering why so many women decline these invitations, variables such as schedules, caring responsibilities and a lack of confidence are only part of the picture. What if many capable and knowledgeable women simply ask themselves ‘what’s in it for me?’ and find the answer is ‘not a lot’?.”

Kez jungleContrary to what Dugdale’s defenders would have us believe, list MSPs do important work
The National, November 23, 2017
“No-one who’s been criticising the former Labour leader is trying to suggest she’s Batman, and that Lothian is in danger of being seized by garish super-villains as a direct consequence of her absence. They’re surely just suggesting she might have, you know, a real job?”

maggo.PNGKezia Dugdale’s not a celebrity … so why on earth is she going in there?
The Herald, November 20, 2017
“So is money the key motivator for Dudgale heading down under, or attention? It’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between our elected representatives and the fame-hungry empty vessels who populate ‘simulated reality’ shows on TV.”

empty homeEvery empty home should be a source of shame
The National, November 16, 2017
“Some 90 per cent of the homes brought back into use since 2010 are in local authorities with empty homes officers, so their work is clearly making a big difference. Yet more than a dozen councils still don’t have them.”

dandelion.PNGIt only takes one puff to bring down Gordon Brown’s straw man
The National, November 9, 2017
“There’s no such thing as total independence in our globalised world – it’s not just undesirable, it’s completely unachievable. Nations of all sizes must not only trade with others, but also co-operate to tackle everything from climate change and disaster relief to terrorism and the threat of nuclear war.”

fork road.jpgNicola has a tough decision to make – but is she about to be eaten alive?
The Herald, November 3, 2017
“Nicola Sturgeon’s in a forest, and there’s a fork in the path. She’s wearing sturdy boots and all the right weatherproof gear, kindly gifted to her by the UK Government, and now has to decide which route will lead to a strong, sustainable Scotland.”

Jigsaw still.PNGAusterity and Brexit leave the SNP no choice but to walk into a tax trap
The National, November 2, 2017
“It would be unfair to compare the UK Government to the serial killer in the Saw movies – whose ideologically driven killing sprees take the form of elaborate games involving knives, syringes, iron maidens and rusty tools – but handing income-tax powers to the Scottish Parliament was a stroke of evil genius.”

Soames.PNGWe’ve all seen how men behave in the Commons – is anyone really surprised by how they act in private?
The Herald, November 1, 2017
“It’s absolutely none of our business if a gay MP wishes to keep his sexuality private, whereas it should be of huge concern that a male MP can “woof woof” while a female MP is speaking then issue a non-apology and carry on regardless.”

domestic abuse.PNGThe best way to tackle domestic abuse is to fight sexism – starting in schools
The National, October 27, 2017
“School discipline may have moved on from the dunce’s cap and the tawse, but that doesn’t mean punishments are always fair and never have an element of shaming. The arbitrary enforcement of rules is one of the hallmarks of coercive control.”

20170711_130005-1If you’re a private renter (or landlord) you need to know about these big changes coming soon
The National, October 20, 2017
“The difficulty of legislating to improve tenants’ rights is that creating more restrictive conditions for landlords may inspire them to sell up and get out of the game altogether, Fine, you might think: good riddance to them. But these might not be the landlords we’d like to see the back of.”

Arran2There’s no point attracting tourists if local infrastructure isn’t up to it
The National, October 13, 2017
“Long gone are the days when a hotel guest or intrepid traveller scribbled a note in a visitor’s book and went quietly on their way. Now, if they have a complaint or even just a niggle about their stay, they can air it publicly in an instant, or bash out a TripAdvisor rant on the way home.”

Jury PlayThe chance to do my duty as a jury has lost its appeal
The National, October 6, 2017
“By the time the interval of Jury Play arrived, I was not only questioning whether I would emerge from any real-life jury duty confident that I’d made the right decision, but also whether I would want to be judged by a jury of my peers, should I have the misfortune to be charged with a crime.”

Pregnancy Test - PositiveKnowledge is power, so it’s time to talk honestly about abortion
The National, September 29, 2017
“If services are to be improved for women, this notion of a hierarchy of abortion narratives must be rejected outright. Access to safe abortion must be recognised as a human right with no ifs or buts and no requirement for exceptional circumstances.”

HMRC logo.pngThose who boast about tax-dodging should be shunned
The National, September 22, 2017
“The question many are now asking is whether the majority of Scottish workers are willing to pay a little more income tax. But this is not, in fact, the key question. We need to ask how effective a rate rise would be.”


Building new homes is not enough … we need to build communities
The National, September 15, 2017
“During this week’s Scottish Parliament debate about the current crisis, MSPs squabbled over which party’s housing, planning and infrastructure policies were best … but not one of them mentioned shops.”

money.jpgMhairi Black is right … a basic minimum income is a non-starter
The National, September 8, 2017
“What price happiness? What counts as work? What’s a fair wage? What’s the value of security, or care, or art? The answers are unlikely to be provided by tiny-scale basic-income pilot schemes in Scottish local authorities.”

£5.jpgFive ways to target child poverty that won’t cost the earth
The National, September 1, 2017
“The Give Me Five campaign, which was officially launched this week, is calling for the Scottish Government to use its new powers to top up child benefit by £5 per week. Every week. For every child. This would not be cheap.”

divorce birds.PNGPartnership of Kez and Jez was always bound to end in divorce
The Herald, August 31, 2017
“Kezia Dugdale wasn’t expected to jump, so it follows that she must have been pushed. The prime suspect? Comrade Crimson, in the Glasgow University student union, with the microphone.”

bridgy.PNGCrossing into a new era of infrastructural excitement
The Herald, August 26, 2017
“Summer might have been a bit of a let-down so far, but who needs T in the Park when you can B on the Bridge? It’s clear North-to-South Queensferry is the place to be seen this September if you’re a mover, shaker or even just a shuffler.”

standup.PNGJoking aside, critics should examine their sexist prejudices
The National, August 25, 2017
“If a male comedian talks about his personal experiences as a man, he is not performing “man’s comedy” – he is simply performing comedy. If he talks about masculinity, or fatherhood, or being rubbish at talking to women, he is not expected to convey to the audience that he understands his perspective is different to that of a gay man, or an infertile man, or a married man. ”


The value of childcare should not be reduced to a matter of cold hard cash
The Herald, August 24, 2017
“The notion of childcare fees swallowing up wages is premised on the assumption that just about every form of work should pay better than the work of looking after young children. It’s rooted in sexism”

pop concert.jpgLooking for a role model? Try a nun instead of  a pop star
The National, August 18, 2017
“There’s nothing wrong with picking and choosing the qualities and actions we admire in others – indeed, surely this is healthier than swearing allegiance to a single individual, and then defending them as a ‘problematic fave’ if their words and actions fail to live up to expectations.”

pupils tests.PNGGetting in a flap about standardised testing won’t help P1s
The National, August 11, 2017
“Some people who know a lot about education are concerned about the introduction of standardised testing, particularly at P1 level, describing it as damaging and even dangerous. But these verdicts seem to be based in large part on how parents and teachers respond to testing regimes, rather than the children themselves.”

social work.jpgDon’t point the finger at social workers if you don’t understand the job
The National, August 4, 2017
“What’s easy to forget, when we hear grim details about awful cases in which a child has died, is that social workers are not simply professional clypes, tasked with totting up black marks against families before spiriting the children away to better lives in foster care.”

rainbow flag.jpgConflating sex and gender does not help to promote gay rights
The National, July 28, 2017
“Gender roles matter to people like Vicky Hartzler, who has voted down legislation to address violence against women and whose efforts to restrict gay rights are thwarted by the idea that a woman can become a man and a man can become a woman. But they also matter to many trans activists, whose motives – when scrutinised – are every bit as homophobic.”

ACID READWho will protect delivery riders from acid attacks?
The National, July 21, 2017
“The delivery companies have responded with warm words, arranging meetings about safety and setting up phone lines for riders to report concerns. They have emphasised that no-one is obliged to make deliveries in areas where they feel unsafe. Which sounds good until you remember that the firms are not obliged to pay them, either.”

Me SPS cropIf you want to see more women on TV, you might have to step up yourself
The National, July 14, 2017
“Perhaps the increasing clamour for more women on screen might actually be as intimidating as it is encouraging. After all, what would be worse than securing a prized slot on Newsnight or Question Time only to make a right hash of it? That wouldn’t just be personally embarrassing – it would be letting the side down, too.”

20170710_142828-1Will advert restrictions kill the child video star? Let’s hope so
The Herald, July 10, 2017
“These days, toy manufacturers need not create glossy adverts and pay for them to be broadcast in between Wacky Races and Looney Tunes. Instead, they can simply send their products to young ‘influencers’ with a flair for the dramatic.”

20170711_130005-1There’s not much point raising wages if rents keep rising too
The National, July 7, 2017
“If moves such as empowering councils to borrow for building cause a few buy-to-let empires to crumble, so be it. The landlords who have been lining their pockets with other people’s hard-earned wages will just have to go and get jobs themselves.”

swinneyIf John Swinney won’t listen to teachers on education governance, how will he learn?
The National, June 30, 2017
“It’s all there in black and white: the current system of education governance is not broken, and therefore does not need fixing, consultation respondents said. The barriers to progress are budget cuts and staffing issues.”


Public heroism is no substitute for a co-ordinate response when disaster strikes
The National, June 23, 2017
“It would have felt mean-spirited and unhelpful to say so at the time, but #RoomForManchester was a risky response to a crisis in which large numbers of young women and girls were terrified, disorientated and stuck”

Tim FarronTim Farron was wrong to believe the personal was not political
The National, June 16, 2017
“Farron is free to believe what he likes, but anyone who truly aspires to live in an equal society — not just in the letter of the law but in how human beings relate to each other in real life — should have no need to evade questions about the detail.”

WestminsterWhat if some of the SNP’s 56 MPs were just a bit rubbish?
The Herald, June 14, 2017
“For every Mhairi Black, taking a lead with the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign, there was a Kirsten Oswald, wanting medals for all those serving in the armed forces.”

Little Mix cropSkimpy outfits don’t harm girls – but slut-shaming does
The National, June 9, 2017
“I understand the urge to protect girls – who doesn’t? But I do not want to protect them from Little Mix. I’m much more concerned with protecting them from the adults who seek to shun or shame young women for what they wear.”

loveCan we make room for love while keeping those in children’s home safe?
The National, June 2, 2017
“On one hand we know they need love if they are to grow into healthy, happy adults, but on the other we’ve become more and more suspicious about the motives of the unrelated adults around them.”

facebookPayslips or Facebook posts alone cannot tell you if someone is poor
The National, May 26, 2017
“Why might someone end up at a food bank despite bringing in what many would regard as a perfectly adequate wage? There are two main explanations: children, and rent.”

girl-with-smart-phone-1616794The digital kids are alright – they just need more sleep
The National, May 19, 2017
“When it comes to mental health, a media-fuelled moral panic has many concluding that digital connectedness is in itself harmful”

robotA learning reboot can keep us ahead of the robots
The National, May 12, 2017
“There will surely always be roles that demand human imagination, judgement and compassion – indeed, perhaps these qualities will come to be more valued than number-crunching and coding”

polling placeWhen it comes to local government, creativity will be key to proving Scotland can go it alone
The National, May 5, 2017
“If our new local councillors want to find out why a back court’s full of rats or a pavement is piled high with bags of dirty nappies, they should try knocking on some doors. They should find out who is living in the area and what their needs are.”

elderly handsRadical thinking is needed to solve the elderly care crisis
The National, April 28, 2017
“Our atomised modern society may appear to promote independence by supporting old people to live at home, but in fact it often leaves them entirely dependent on a spouse, son or daughter who may be unwilling to care or unable to cope”

corbyn bbcJeremy Corbyn: A poor imitation of an opposition leader?
The Herald, April 26, 2017
“Scottish voters are fatigued, but they aren’t daft. They know that when Mr Corbyn’s evil twin says the Scottish Government has ‘overseen’ an increase in child poverty, the truth is that Holyrood has no power to halt so-called welfare reform or set the UK minimum wage”

TIE campaignCan schools be truly inclusive without sex education?
The National, April 21, 2017
“While there have been plenty of warm words about tackling the kind of sustained harassment that can leave young people contemplating suicide, there’s been a conspicuous silence about the obvious place to start”

Mat electionsConfused about the local elections? Let me explain
The National, April 14, 2017
“We live in a digital age, but our democratic system is miles behind when it comes to smartphone-optimised browsing. While a few local authorities are ensuring their residents are just one or two clicks away from the details they need, most require a fair bit of searching”

pregnant 2No baby should be declared undeserving of support
The National, April 7, 2017
“Is the family cap unjust because of how it will affect the tiny proportion of women who a) become pregnant as a result of rape, b) opt to continue with those pregnancies, and c) already have two children, or is it unjust full stop?”

20170403_185738-1Fear of terrorism should not drive us to arm every police officer
The National, March 31, 2017
“The voices of officers must be heard in any debate about policing policy, but a respect for their bravery must not get in the way of critically assessing their arguments”

pram cropPrevention of loneliness will always be better than cure
The National, March 24, 2017
“Shouldn’t we encourage those in co-dependent relationships to maintain other friendships, hobbies and interests? The notion of “you and me against the world” might have romantic appeal, but the grim reality is that one day it will become a solo mission.”


Criticising SNP policy should not be viewed as treason by Yes supporters
The National, March 17, 2017
“Suggesting a piece of legislation is a bit of a dog’s dinner is not the same as saying the people who drafted it are too wee, too poor and too stupid to tie their own shoelaces.”

Broadchurch julieIt’ll take more than a TV show to stamp out rape myths
The National, March 10, 2017
“The perpetuation of rape myths is most damaging to the types of cases that don’t suit Monday-night whodunnits. Rapes of wives by their own husbands, in their own beds. Rapes of women or men on dates. Rapes of children by trusted relatives.”

money-rollPoor pay and terrible PR: who’d be a local councillor?
The National, March 3, 2017
“We cannot on one hand complain that anyone who goes into politics is motivated by greed and an unsavoury quest for power and influence, but on the other hand rule out salaries that represent fair pay for the hours and effort involved.”

young-carer-crop2Celebrating ‘young carers’ risks robbing children of their childhoods
The National, February 24, 2017
“It’s little wonder children themselves question the legitimacy of these arrangements. What’s surprising is that more adults don’t ask whether it’s right that young people are required to help their parents wash, get dressed or take medication before heading off to school in the morning.”

The Tory government’s hunt for ‘undeclared partners’ is not about money
The National, February 17, 2017
“It simply cannot be cost-effective to treat all claimants as guilty until proven innocent – which is why any large-scale “crackdown” by the Tories and their private-sector partners feels less like a prudent claw-back of cash and more like an attempt to degrade and humiliate anyone and everyone who relies on state support”

sad-boyWhen it comes to child mental health, sometimes a label helps
The National, February 10, 2017
“After waiting many months for an appointment with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, thousands every year are told their children do not meet the criteria for treatment, sending them back to square one”

scrooge-mcduckIs inheritance really a toxic topic in Scottish politics?
The National, February 3, 2017
“Tinkering with tax on honest graft will do nothing to address the inequality that arises when a significant proportion of the population receive a house in return for doing precisely nothing”

media-studiesAnyone who believes there are no alternative facts needs a lesson in media studies
The National, January 27, 2017
“I don’t wish to suggest that Trump’s advisor Kellyanne Conway is a philosophy scholar rather than a bullshit merchant, but while we can see with our own eyes that turnout was low in Washington DC last Friday, strictly speaking Spicer’s claims about global audiences are unverifiable as opposed to untrue.”


Cold callers are more than just a nuisance … could we use people power to silence them?
The National, January 20 2017
“In the time it has taken me to write these first 500 words I have received a nuisance call at home. The woman was very polite, and readily took no for an answer, but often cold-callers simply hang up, interrupt or become rude and even aggressive.”

runningme-cropWhy I’ll try to high-five every runner I pass in 2017
The National, January 13 2017
” If the great majority retreat into gyms, a pleasingly solitary pursuit might become downright lonely. I always feel spurred on by the sight of a fellow runner, and a bit disappointed that the camaraderie of Parkrun isn’t replicated elsewhere.”

cmsIt can’t be right that abuse victims pay a child support tax … but what’s a fair solution?
The National,  January 6 2017
“The scrapping of collection fees for abuse victims might therefore come with strings attached, such as a requirement to make a formal complaint to the police – thus leading us right back into dubious ‘rape clause’ territory.”


eden glennChannel 4’s Eden has gone quiet – is there trouble in paradise?
The National, December 30 2016
“It didn’t take long for trouble to start brewing. What was fascinating – and depressing – about the first few months was how quickly eco-living idealism was replaced by scroungers vs skivers rhetoric that would make the staunchest of Tories blush.”


Sometimes special school is the perfect place to nurture talent
The National, December 23 2016
“While special schooling may have held back children with physical impairments in the 1970s , mainstream schooling may have the same effect today on those with conditions such as autism and ADHD.”

binI refuse to use my food waste recycling bin, and I’m not sorry
The National, December 16 2016
“The Scottish Government would not be happy with me. I am not doing my bit. If everyone did their bit, and half of the country’s food waste was recycled, we could apparently power a city the size of Dundee for six months with the green energy produced”

busesStop the bus – it’s time for a new era of public transport
The National, December 9 2016
“Complaining about public transport is regarded as a quaint British hobby – an inoffensive form of social glue that bonds shivering strangers. But for many people, particularly those on low incomes and without the option of taking the car, it’s a much more serious matter”

loan-sharks-squareKicking the debt habit requires a culture shift
The National, December 2 2016
“Personal debt has become normalised at the very same time that the UK’s level of public debt has been portrayed as an unprecedented, spiralling crisis that can only be solved by savage cuts to public services. The very idea of living within one’s means has become quaint.”

brendan crop.jpgIt’s all too easy to make a murderer … even in Scotland
The National, November 25 2016
“Not every miscarriage of justice is the result of a conspiracy. In some cases the police simply focus on one suspect to the exclusion of all others, or the accused’s lawyers do a bad job with limited resources, or juries are led to believe that “special knowledge” of a crime can only mean one thing..”

handsIf adoption is a selfless act, what does that say about the kids?
The National, November 18 2016
“There’s a difficult balance to be struck between praising and celebrating adoptive and foster parents and portraying them as so exceptional, so uniquely big of heart and endowed with patience, that your average Joe and Joanne feel inadequate by comparison.”

oistinsDon’t be so sure Trump voters were all idiots and racists
The National, November 11 2016
“I understand the temptation to dismiss all those Americans who voted for Trump as “other” – as dumb hicks, racist rednecks, ignorant white trash. As tinfoil-hat-wearing simpletons who don’t trust the media but happily parrot every meme their aunt Doris posts online.”

feminismDear teenage girls: Please don’t hold out for a hero
The National, November 4 2016
“I’m not trying to stamp on your dreams, or ruin your favourite films. Romance is great, but it’s a bonus. It’s the cherry on top of the ice-cream sundae of life. It’s never guaranteed, and if you pin all your hopes on finding it – and then achieving the even harder bit, keeping it alive – you risk missing out on everything else life has to offer.”

citz-impactThe success of Citizens Advice points to failure everywhere else
The National, October 28 2016
“In an ideal world, people who have never used a computer in their lives wouldn’t be told they have to apply for benefits online, unscrupulous boiler companies wouldn’t cold-call pensioners pretending to be from the government, and landlords wouldn’t ignore urgent requests for repairs from their tenants.”

20161020_094807_resizedGiving purse strings to the people will require a leap of faith
The National, October 21 2016
“It may be that the Scottish Government needs to go hard or go home when it comes to participatory budgeting. The only way to truly test how committed ordinary Scots are to direct democracy is to give them charge of significant budgets, widely publicise the corresponding decision-making exercises and, crucially, accept the outcomes without qualification.”

thomas-tankDon’t judge youngsters in care – they’re our children too
STV.TV, October 17 2016
“For those who are abused or chronically neglected, foster or residential care can be transformative. It can relieve children of the burden of looking after themselves, their siblings, even their parents. It can replace fear and uncertainty with reassurance and routine. It can gradually restore eroded self-esteem.”

knife1Clyping isn’t easy, even when the stakes are high
The National, October 14 2016
“We teach our children from any early age that “telling tales” on their peers will make them unpopular, while simultaneously fretting about their vulnerability to child bullies and adult predators who can only operate with impunity as long as their victims stay silent.”

money-rollDon’t expect polite debate when it comes to prostitution policy
The National, October 7 2016
“It will take a brave MSP to pick up the baton that is the proposed Prostitution Law Reform (Scotland) Bill. To say there are some who disagree with the contents of this Bill, which was drafted following an extensive consultation, is an understatement.”

img_6936What gives the SPFL the right to hijack Glasgow’s Hogamanay?
The National, September 30 2016
“That this minority interest should be allowed to blight a city that has worked so hard in recent years to shed its violent, drunken image is not just hugely frustrating, it’s also fundamentally undemocratic.”

SP Petitions Committee

Giving evidence to Holyrood committees need not be a taxing matter
The National, September 23 2016
“You have the right to an opinion on the decisions that affect you, and while there’s no guarantee you’ll influence the work of any given committee, there’s no use grousing afterwards if you didn’t put your points across when you had the chance.”

img_6965Don’t the banks have a role to play in enforcing landlord registration rules?
The National, September 16 2016
“Why should council and charity workers be forced to scrabble around for information on landlords when every buy-to-let mortgage is signed off by a lender, and every mortgaged homeowner should – in theory at least – also be informing the bank about any change of occupancy?”

smartphoneWhy are we letting these “courageous” tech overlords dictate how we live our lives?
The National, September 9 2016
“Of course, no-one is forced to buy an iPhone, or to stick with the brand once they’ve got one. The beauty of the free market is that consumers can put their money where their moaning mouths are, and desert any manufacturer who neglects their needs. But theses days it’s not quite that simple, is it?”

img_7321Headphones debate was a distraction from bigger problems of male privilege
The National, September 2 2016
“A woman can walk away from a sleazy guy in the street, but she can’t very easily avoid a classmate who stares at her during lessons, or a colleague who badgers her for a date via her work email account.”


The burkini is not a burka for the beach, and French bans had nothing to do with security
The National, August 26 2016
“You know a line’s been crossed when the Daily Mail takes time out from assessing the ‘pert posteriors’ of minor television celebrities to suggest a Muslim woman has been treated unjustly.”


If Scotland’s drugs death are a “legacy issue”, why do we have more problem users than ever?
The National, August 19 2016
“Cracking down on dealers doesn’t address the question of why they found so many customers to begin with; why so many people feel hopeless, alienated and disenfranchised. If we’re serious about reducing deaths, the first step must be to make sure the most vulnerable have something to live for.”

ID theft crop

Think you’re too clever to be scammed? Don’t be so sure
The National, August 12 2016
“Ordinary people are not detectives, and cannot be expected to guard against financial scams with minimal support from the authorities. Job-seekers should not be expected to carry out risk assessments every time they answer the phone.”

t-in-the-parkLocking young people out of festivals won’t solve drug problems
The Herald, August 10 2016
“Based on the media coverage, one would be forgiven for thinking T in the Park was first and foremost an excuse for three days of pill-popping hedonism and random violence. The rather more mundane reality – that the vast majority of festival-goers are peaceful, well-behaved and have a ball – doesn’t make for lurid headlines.”

keep calm cropIf you didn’t get the exam results you hoped for, it’s not the end of the world
The National, August 5 2016
“The results may, of course, dictate your immediate next step, but don’t be too quick to assume a college or university place has slipped through your fingers forever. This wasn’t your one and only chance – you’ve likely got at least five decades more of life in which to prove yourself ”

named personNamed Person debate highlights widespread ignorance about child protection
The National, July 29 2016
“The basic principle behind named persons – that information-sharing is key to early and effective information – is backed up by every major child protection inquiry of the past 20 years”

FredWestIs Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith normal? And if so, is that a good thing?
The National, July 22 2016
“When he told a journalist he was an Average Joe he probably wasn’t consciously trying to contrast himself with his then rivals – child-free lesbian Angela Eagle and twice-divorced Jeremy Corbyn – but that’s not really the point”

Celeb magsWhen the subjects consent, is celebrity gossip really such a bad thing?
Sunday Herald, July 17 2016
“Jennifer Aniston has found herself in the crosshairs of increasingly intrusive paparazzi not because she is a particularly remarkable famous person, but because she’s unwittingly found herself starring in a fan-fiction drama about her own life”

Diet crispsThe diet police need to learn to bite their tongues
The National, July 15 2016
“Diet policing takes many forms, from the casual comment to something bordering on obsession. Is there some unwritten agreement that the ordinary rules of good manners may be set aside when there’s faux-concern to be expressed about someone’s Doritos habit?”

ChoirBigoted US church groups should not be made welcome in Scotland
The Herald, July 11 2016
“Prestonwood Baptist Church ticks every box on the Ugly Religious Fundamentalism checklist: homophobia and transphobia, an obsession with sexual purity, and a firm anti-choice agenda”

PinocchioDo we really want honest politicians, as opposed to a bit of razzle dazzle?
The National, July 8 2016
“The problem with the false dichotomy of scrupulously honest, noble public servant vs slimy, untrustworthy careerist is that no real-life politician perfectly fits either mould”

Salem 2When it comes to protecting our heritage, we won’t know what we’ve got til it’s gone
The Herald, July 2 2016
“It should be of concern to all Scots that one in four National Trust for Scotland workers is facing redundancy due to falling visitor numbers … there’s an awful lot more to preserving the past than maintaining bricks and mortar and giving guided tours”

Mundell beardNo voters now thinking again weren’t all fooled during the independence referendum
The National, July 1 2016
“Perhaps, just perhaps, No voters weren’t all cowards and fools who were hoodwinked by blatant Unionist lies. Did they all believe The Vow? No. Did Gordon Brown’s bellowing make a difference? I doubt it”

romance cardsNo wonder it’s so hard to leave an abusive ‘other half’
The National, June 24 2016
“What do we teach young people about relationships through the subtle and not-so-subtle cues in our language? We tell them these require compromise (but not how much); that a marriage is “hard work” (so divorce means you didn’t work hard enough); that maintaining a partnership is a mark of maturity, of social sophistication”

IVF reportFocus on happy endings obscures the emotional toll of IVF
The National, June 17 2016
“State provision of IVF has helped distort how our society views infertility. It is no longer a fact of life with which couples must come to terms in their own way. Instead, it is an obstacle to be overcome against the odds”

disclosureRaising Scotland’s minimum age of criminal responsibility – why stop at 12?
The National, June 10 2016
“Only the most dedicated of the ‘tough on crime’ brigade would try to argue that children should be labelled as offenders well into adulthood because of something they did aged eight, nine, 10 or 11”

Lindy2‘Strident’ is not a compliment – we have a problem with women’s voices
The National, June 3 2016
“Strident is an adjective that pops up regularly in print and discussion, often paired with the word ‘feminist’, so it’s perhaps little wonder many people assume it conveys something positive, like ‘kick-ass’ or ‘patriarchy-busting’ or ‘striding towards a better future for all’.”

cosby makeupThe case against Cliff Huxtable (and other fathers who take a prurient interest in their daughters’ lives)
The National, May 27 2016
“Fans would argue that a couple of creepy scenes do nothing to detract from Cliff Huxtable’s status as the dad everyone wishes they had: loving, fiercely protective and funny to boot. But any man who obsesses over the vulnerability of his daughters to sexual exploitation, even when they reach adulthood, denies their agency.”

busesAre bus fare fair? Not when zero-hours workers pay a huge poverty premium
The Herald, May 25 2016
“When the National Minimum Wage for twentysomethings starts at just £5.30, how can it be right that a standard return bus journey of just a few miles costs £3.20 in Edinburgh, £4 in Aberdeen and £4.30 in Glasgow?”

IMG_5457[1]The Bank of Mum and Dad is not the solution to Generation Rent’s problem – lower house prices are
The National, May 20 2016
“What’s happening is that families with assets are maintaining their privileged position while families with none are seeing their chances of acquiring any decrease ”

polls crop

A problem with polling … do you know who your candidates are?
The National, April 30 2016
“We have a two-pronged problem: people lack information about their regional candidates, but become aware of nationwide poll results and adjust their perspectives accordingly”

housingHow to solve the housing crisis? Focus on quality, not just quantity
The Herald, April 1 2016
“Many Scots are living in expensive privately rented properties which landlords operating in a favourable market have little incentive to properly maintain”


Do headteachers really know best when it comes to school budgeting?
The National, March 30 2016
“The implicit suggestion of the SNP’s plan to divert more funding directly to school heads is that they would try a bit harder if they were handed the purse strings and told: ‘Improve’.”

DISABILITYDon’t fall into a Tory trap by using disabling language
The National, March 23 2016
“If there’s one thing the UK’s disability rights movement has been battling consistently over the past 40 years, it’s the perception that disabled people are needy, dependent and weak.”

johnsonCalling men like Adam Johnson paedophiles doesn’t help teenage girls
The National, March 4 2016
“Crucially, teenage girls have a sexual identity. If we refuse to acknowledge this because it makes us uncomfortable, how can we hope to protect them from the men who seek to exploit it?”

Unicorn blue bankIf everyone hates the tax man so much, maybe we need a tax unicorn
The National, February 19 2016
“Ask the man in the street if he thinks someone else should pay more tax and he’ll likely agree. Tell him he’ll have to play his part too and there’s a good chance he’ll change his tune.”

hospitalSeen but not heard: Glasgow’s anti-abortion protesters are impossible to ignore
Sunday Herald, February 14 2016
“There are no shock tactics here, just silent judgment from two men and two women standing in the cold. One wears a hi-vis vest, as if anyone was likely to miss her.”


WP_20151230_11_21_28_ProGiving food might make us feel virtuous, but giving cash is better
The Herald, December 29 2015
“Ever since September 2014, when George Square was symbolically but misguidedly filled with a sea of grocery bags, the trend for conspicuous in-kind donation has continued”

coinsA taxing matter for the SNP to address
The Herald, July 16 2015
“It’s perhaps easy to see why the SNP weren’t too keen to mention SRIT before. If voters thought the Scottish Government was going to secure meaningful powers over income tax in the near future, might that have changed how their viewed the options on September 18?”

Never mind carrots, it’s time to wield the stick on empty properties
The Herald, June 1 2015
“Perhaps, if Scotland wants to improve its social justice credentials, those wealthy enough to have entire spare homes should be given a shove, rather than a series of small nudges”

Testing time for checks on pupil progress
The Herald, May 25 2015
“It’s unhelpful to create a false dichotomy between old and new teaching techniques and imply that Curriculum for Excellence, with its problem-solving focus, is somehow test-proof”

handcuffsLanguage matters when it comes to criminal justice
The Herald, March 9 2015
“The phrase ‘automatic early release’ conjures up the image of a cell door automatically swinging open early – too early – allowing the offender within to go on his or her merry way without so much as a backward glance.”

prayingIt’s not right to make children pray at school
The Herald, January 2 2015
“Apparently the key to promoting religious tolerance is to impose religion on children while they learn. The right religion, presumably. One that doesn’t involve nasty extremist business”


fireHow many pensioners really need a Winter Fuel Allowance?
The Herald, December 24 2014
“What kind of heartless Scrooge would leave granny warming her hands on just one bar of the fire as she tunes in to the Queen’s speech tomorrow afternoon? But the reality isn’t quite as simple as that”

CosbyBill Cosby’s betrayal of black Americans is unforgivable
The Herald, December 8 2014
“Cosby didn’t content himself with blaming black men – as opposed to racism – for their persecution by the police. He also took aim at the parents of those youngsters who offended his middle-class sensibilities by wearing their jeans slung low”

heroinAvoiding drug addiction isn’t a simple matter of ‘good sense’
The Herald, December 2 2014
“Russell Brand has made clear on many occasions that he does not see himself as superior to those still living the life he was fortunate enough to escape, and this makes his critics uncomfortable”


Who’ll do the cleaning after the glass ceiling’s smashed?
The Herald, January 3, 2013
“While initiatives aiming at encouraging girls to pursue non-traditional careers are always to be welcomed, given the sexism that has held us back for centuries, we must be careful we don’t stigmatise those who pursue more stereotypically ‘female’ work like caring and cleaning”


Can we solve a pig of a problem without zoos?
Sunday Herald, October 24 2010
“Edinburgh Zoo keeper last year gushed that they were ‘thrilled’ with the piglets they later killed … zoos need to assess whether they can continue to have it both ways – reaping the publicity and revenue rewards of animal reproduction while attracting extra scrutiny”

Call that entertainment? It’s ritual humiliation
Sunday Herald, August 29 2010
“Should all of those taking medication for a mental condition now consider themselves ineligible for shows such as The X Factor – or would non-novelty contenders still make it through the screening process and receive appropriate support?”

Gove’s Swede dream will prove a nightmare
Sunday Herald, August 1 2010
“There’s simply no evidence that private schools offer a superior education to state comprehensives (they certainly may teach children to feel superior to the riff-raff in the comprehensive down the road, but let’s give the Tories the benefit of the doubt and assume that’s not what they mean)”

This is a job for Super-nanny state
Sunday Herald, July 25 2010
“Would moderate drinkers really begrudge spending an estimated 11p extra a week if it meant having fewer drunk teenagers to navigate past on their way home from the wine bar?”

Buy now, blame the bankers when the bills turn red
Sunday Herald, July 18 2010
“Let’s not confuse poverty with fecklessness, or try to seriously suggest that all overdrafts are used to pay for day-to-day essentials rather than luxuries”

Girls just want to have fun, so what’s the problem?
Sunday Herald, July 11 2010
“The current spate of hand-wringing seems more concerned with condemning girls as delusional sluts in the guise of expressing concern about their wellbeing”

Argument of the Week: Is chivalry just another name for blatant sexism?
Sunday Herald, June 20 2010
“One frequently hears about the strident feminist who takes offence at having a door held open for her, or a jacket offered when she is cold. But has anyone actually met this woman?”

Argument of the Week: Should lads’ mags be relegated to the top shelf?
Sunday Herald, February 28 2010
“The strain of pornography promoted by these magazines has little to do with sex, and much more to do with male power and objectification”

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