I’ve made my views about fracking very clear in the recent past. There’s a vote in parliament today on the subject, though, so let me make my position crystal clear again and explain what I’ll do at the vote. I’m satisfied that fracking’s a technology of low risk. It’s not my job, as Falkirk’s member of.. read more →

14 Jan 2015
January 14, 2015

Surveys and slides

0 Comment

This post is very much for people who teach and present, although it might be of interest to people who use tech generally – which is most of us I guess. 2sli.de is a simple and effective slide system for teachers and lecturers, designed by Dr Robin Shields of Bath University. It can be used by.. read more →

16 Dec 2014
December 16, 2014

Rape in war, in black and white

0 Comment

The tragic events in Sydney yesterday won’t return to our front pages. People’s opinions will mainly be formed today from quick inferences and possibly-significant fragments. Would the attack have taken place if ISIS didn’t exist? Should the suspect have been given bail on his murder-accessory charge? Is there much more we, the Australians or anyone.. read more →

David Miliband has given an FT interview. Obviously pitching his usual will he?/won’t he? return to UK politics, he says: “Tony Blair and John Major have said that they wish they’d done their post-premiership jobs before they became prime minister.” And; “I have this residual faith in the common sense of the British people that generally they.. read more →

Amidst signs of a huge swing towards the SNP in Scotland, Labour is saying that a vote for the SNP is a vote for a UK Tory administration. This obviously false statement plays right into the hands of people who say Labour can’t be trusted. In fact, the SNP has cannily made it clear that.. read more →

Labour’s pitch at the moment is that everything in this country is screwed. I’m sort of reluctant to accept that, given that if everything were screwed it would surely have taken more than 4 years for it all to become screwed – wouldn’t it? I mean, screwing everything in 4 years would be an absolutely.. read more →

15 Oct 2014
October 15, 2014

Falkirk Fracking Fine


Unite the Union, the SNP and a small number of ‘nimbys’ in my constituency of Falkirk are deeply opposed to fracking. For most folk, that’s probably evidence enough that fracking must be a super thing. But I had a darkly-hilarious exchange of tweets today with a constituent who challenged a tweet of mine to the.. read more →

Some UKIP dimwit, aka their Scottish MEP, has explained that his party will concentrate its general election efforts on Scotland’s ‘rust’ belt; “We’re looking at the Scottish rust belt. Seats where there were serious industries that were ­allowed to run down, with no replacement”. Falkirk’s one of these seats, apparently. He’ll be thinking of the.. read more →

20 Sep 2014
September 20, 2014

A lie won’t fly


Scots voted No, in the end, on a ‘vow’ of greater devolution. Every Scot I have spoken to understands that the promised transfer of power can only take place if the books are balanced and Scots no longer legislate on England-only matters; this is manifestly part of the deal. If the UK government, Tory or.. read more →

It’s a few hours after the devolution result was announced – so naturally, the devo-plus legislation ‘vow’ has already been delayed until after the 2015 general election. So, three quick points on that. First, as the price of a No victory today, Scots believe they have been ‘promised’ full control over Health and a permanent.. read more →

18 Sep 2014
September 18, 2014

Why the Scottish papers said No

1 Comment

With the referendum polls apparently neck-and-neck why is it that the Scottish titles have, all but one, stayed away from endorsing ‘Yes’? It’s simply because there isn’t an economically viable indigenous Scottish media at all. With the exception of the quirky DC Thomson output, the Scottish titles are outposts of huge UK and international groups… read more →

I think there will be a No vote on Thursday – possibly swung on the votes of people who say they are not Scots. If there is, the No campaign’s very late, panic-stricken promise of much greater devolution will have been pivotal. The main consequence of the devolution package, though – if enacted as promised.. read more →

16 Sep 2014
September 16, 2014

When paying a ransom is right

1 Comment

I just did a BBC Radio Ulster interview on the subject of ransoms alongside John McTernan, Tony Blair’s former political secretary. I’d been asked to take part on the basis of this recent blogpost. John put the government line, which is that we shouldn’t pay ransoms because it fuels terrorism and encourages terrorists to take British.. read more →

David Cameron says governments shouldn’t pay ransoms. He’s right. He also says that companies and individuals should be banned from paying ransoms. That’s dead wrong. Governments know they have millions of citizens all over the world at risk. They also make decisions in order to acquire political capital in the interests of their people –.. read more →

07 Sep 2014
September 7, 2014

If Yes wins then what next?


Jim Murphy and Alistair Darling – with energy and passion on the one hand, decency and commonsense on the other – have, I think, done their best for the No camp. The No campaign has in general been terrible, obviously, but if No wins, however narrowly, both politicians will have played important roles – and.. read more →

Polling this week suggested that ‘No’ has a 6 point lead  – 53% to 47% (‘don’t knows’ discounted). This very closely correlates to difference made by the roughly 15% of people with a vote who don’t identify as ‘Scottish’ and who intend to vote ‘No’ by a margin exceeding 2-1. If this is correct, then.. read more →

In government, I voted against the Labour whip only once. That was on the occasion of the Digital Economy Act being shoved through parliament ‘on the wash-up’ (i.e. without due process and with the agreement of all parties because it was the end of a parliament and the issue ostensibly ‘was not contentious’). Today, I’m.. read more →

On Defence, the SNP often say they’ll inherit a share of the UK’s defence equipment and will also take on the Scottish regiments. Of course, there’s no relationship between those UK assets that have a Scottish dimension and the potential components of a coherent Scottish Defence Force. And, naturally, there are many Scots in parts.. read more →