Nationalism needs the inspiration so desperately needed in these early days of that better nation.

Aaron Murray, political researcher working in London. He is also on Twitter @aaronmurray87 Engraved on the Canongate wall of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood is a phrase Alasdair Gray described as ‘inspiring but not boastful’. ‘Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation’ it reads. Widely attributed to Gray, it is the creation of Canadian poet Dennis Lee from his exploration of citizenship, Civil Eligies. In recent years it became a credo of the Scottish … Read more

“Look, this Carthage obsession of yours. For Jupiter’s sake, let it go, man!”

With the Scottish First Minister, the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, backing down, for now, from her previous strident position on indyref2 the BBC’s Scotland editor, Brian Taylor, detects the “scunner factor” at work. Voters in Scotland have thrilled to seven electoral tests in three years. They are already anxious over the uncertainty attendant upon Brexit. Are they ready for yet more eager talk from the SNP and the Scottish Government about the prospect of indyref2? Nicola Sturgeon has concluded that they … Read more

Gordon Brown storms in with a “third option” for Scotland and the UK. The ideal compromise, or too much, too late?

  Churn over Theresa May’s flat refusal to allow Indy ref 2 continues unabated. The reality of identity politics is proving a lot more complicated than the dream. The big move today is Gordon Brown’s “third option” of a federalising UK  of which more in a moment. But first a verdict on yesterday. May was caught short by Sturgeon springing the referendum demand on her. Did  the prime minister  over-react in haste and did she have only herself to blame … Read more

Where now for Scotland?

In an historic and stirring address to Seanad Éireann this week, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon refused to set out a timeline for when she might ask the Scottish people to vote once again on Independence. She repeated her view that the Scottish people had not voted to stay within a United Kingdon outside of the European Union and that the Scottish people’s decision to overwhelming vote in favour of remaining in the EU could not be ignored. Immediately after … Read more

May’s Brexit War Cabinet has no permanent places for the NI, Scottish or Welsh Secretaries.

From POLITICO, the Prime Minister, Theresa May has put together her Brexit war cabinet which is essentially cabinet sub committee with the remit of “overseeing Britain’s negotiations with the EU and formulating wider trade policy.”  The report notes that this committee will be the ultimate decision making body over the UK’s exit from the European Union. The committee includes mostly Leavers but also has some members who voted Remain. Yet, the committee has no permanent posts for the Northern Ireland … Read more

Scotland and Northern Ireland’s legal consent for Brexit is not required – Theresa May

“There is no opt-out from Brexit. And I will never allow divisive nationalists to undermine the precious Union between the four nations of our United Kingdom.” Theresa May has Scotland in mind here of course but  the uncompromising “no opt out” applies equally to Northern Ireland. The  “consultation” that is promised is therefore  to be  by grace and favour of the UK government.  But  there is still no  word on what form that consultation may take. We know now that … Read more

An answer to Rentoul. Referendums like terrorism can shape events, but not always in the ways expected

Alerted by Mick on the thoughts on referendums by the Independent’s political commentator John Rentoul, I took in his part 2 “Should Referendums be banned?” This is a rhetorical question which is really in  support of Rentoul’s  contention  that they make very little difference to the course of political  events. His pieces prompted my following thoughts. Referendums like terrorism typically make considerable differences but not necessarily as intended. It is not true they never settle anything. It depends on the … Read more

Brexit will strengthen the Union

Brexit will strengthen the Union, not weaken it. The vast majority of Scottish & Ulster trade is far and away with the rest of the UK. Scottish trade with the EU is down 20% in the last year with the USA being Scotland’s single biggest export country. The Republic of Ireland accounts for only just over 4% of Northern Ireland sales (which is more than Northern Ireland sales to the rest of the EU put together) A report from Barclays … Read more

Could the Danish model be applied to the UK?

Nationalist leaders have been wandering around trying to find possible ways to keep Northern Ireland within the European Union. There has also been considerable debate about an all island forum to examine possibilities. If we are going to look at something, Denmark might offer something for the UK and the Irish government to consider. Ulrik Pram Gad has penned an interesting article for the LSE as to how his own country’s experience might be useful for Northern Ireland and Scotland … Read more

French President Francois Hollande :”The negotiations will be conducted with the United Kingdom, not with a part of the United Kingdom”

With the UK Parliament sovereign, and Sinn Féin’s calls for a border poll dismissed as an unwelcome distraction, quite where the “very special place” Martin McGuinness thinks Northern Ireland is in isn’t entirely clear.  Nor whom he thinks he can press that “case” with in his attempt to ignore the UK-wide referendum result.  He should remember, however, that neither he nor his party, alone, speak for the Northern Ireland Executive. He should also pay very close attention to the responses the Scottish First Minister is … Read more

Theresa Villiers: “ultimately it is parliament’s decision whether we repeal the 1972 European Communities Act or whether we don’t.”

Andy’s valiant attempt at providing clarity on the role of the devolved institutions in the UK’s withdrawal from the EU doesn’t appear to have worked for some of our local representatives. The Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, couldn’t have been clearer. “In the weeks and months ahead we will be working with both the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive on all these matters,” [Theresa Villiers] told BBC’s Sunday Politics show. “But ultimately it is parliament’s decision whether we … Read more

Hannan: Leaving the EU would be a leap into the light.

We are just under three weeks away from the referendum on whether the UK should continue to be a member of the European Union.  For years, one of the strongest critics of the EU has been the Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan. This weekend he is in Northern Ireland to make the case for us to leave the EU, I caught up with him in Belfast earlier this morning. I began by asking him how the campaign overall was going and … Read more

On #Brexit nothing is certain, even the assumption it would be followed by a Scottish exit

Much of what happens in the Brexit debate we should probably take with a large pinch of salt, whether or not it comes from a camp you favour or not. It’s a bit of a leap into the dark, so not all of the consequences, either way, can be reliably foreseen. It’s likely to be a class of Project Fear Mk II. One line to be particularly sceptical of is the idea that if the UK comes out of the … Read more

State of the State: “Northern Ireland appears to be pausing at a junction.”

Deloitte released its State of the State report today which examines the structure and levels of government across the UK. The 42 page report outlines public spending levels and the impact of cuts across the country in the last financial year. Whilst the report does look at the UK as a whole (I would encourage you to look through the report) it does devote some pages to Northern Ireland’s economic performance and the challenges we face. Being the public service … Read more

The drive for independence suspected in new boost for Scots language. Sounds familiar?

The Financial Times (£ paywall) which is so good at making its limited space for non-financial themes count, reports a new boost for the Scots language which the writer Mure Dickie suspects is part of the longer term drive for independence.  In language policy, the parallels as well as contrasts  with both Irish and Ulster Scots hardly need much spelling out. But I hope you will – enjoy, is that the word? – the distortions  of  what we think of as … Read more

“future banknote designs, starting with the new polymer £5 note, will explicitly represent all four nations of the UK.”

As mentioned in this BBC report focused on the first Bank of England polymer banknote – a £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill which will be issued in 2016. Banknotes will feature images from all four nations of the UK starting with the new £5 note entering circulation in 2016. [Timing, eh? – Ed]  Eh?  From the Bank of England press release Chief Cashier, Victoria Cleland said: “The Bank is delighted with the number and breadth of the nominations we … Read more

Scots vote for Holyrood not Westminster as SNP landslide wipes out Labour in Scotland…

The SNP victory in Scotland is nothing short of spectacular. They gained a phenomenal 50 seats, taking 40 seats from Labour and 10 from the Libdems. What is clear is that the Scots have embraced devolution and the SNP message. We can expect another Scottish independence referendum in a few years, and if the SNP momentum keeps up it will be a victory for the Yes campaign. What is also interesting is that with a 71% turnout, Scotland had the highest turnout … Read more

“Granted, that reality wears tinfoil but that’s an essential protective measure these days.”

[But the tinfoil works?  Doesn’t it?! – Ed]  That’s what they say…  In the Spectator, Alex Massie takes a look at the state of Scottish politics in the aftermath of the referendum for Scottish independence – and the resulting ‘No’ vote. One of the most notable features of Alex Salmond’s account of the closing stages of last year’s referendum campaign is his hatred of the press and, indeed, the media more generally. Newspapers which run inconvenient stories are ‘anti-Scottish’ and journalists who … Read more

Labour’s Scottish Play – the onward march of the SNP

Election watchers and political anoraks have been spending much of the day absorbing the eagerly-awaited Scottish constituency opinion polls from Lord Ashcroft. The SNP have been polling very strongly in national Westminster opinion polls since the failed independence referendum, and have consistently polled leads over Labour of over 20%. The big question for those trying to make sense of the upcoming election has been “Do these strong national polls for the SNP translate to possible gains in a first past … Read more