“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

Tory momentum won’t sweep away call for IndyRef2

The results are in and the Local Government outcomes in Scotland, Wales and (much of) England are no great surprise. Beyond Hadrian’s Wall Labour lost their majority on Glasgow City Council after nearly 40 years dominance. Well over 100 Scottish council seats turned Conservative blue, the majority of which were previously rose-red. There are two competing Indyref2 narratives in Scotland at the moment. One that the Tory revival is somehow a defeat for the SNP and their call for a … Read more

Theresa May’s local victories are good for the Union cause but give no comfort to special status fans

  A note of caution is needed about  talk of a Tory landslide on 8 June. Although UKIP was obliterated in the GB local elections,  Labour might have done even worse. Michael Thrasher’s projections of the local results to the general election “ for a bit of fun” on Sky News   works out a majority of  48 seats, up a respectable 36 but well short of a landslide and barely worth  the trouble of calling a snap election. John Curtice, election … Read more

What does May running up the Union Jack mean for Northern Ireland as well as Scotland?

Theresa May has spoken out very directly  to reject Nicola Sturgeon’s demand to be allowed  to hold Indyref2   in emotional British patriotic language which marks it out starkly from the language of Scottish nationalism.   “Our Party believes heart and soul in our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The union is more than just a constitutional artefact.  It is a union between all of our citizens, whoever we are and wherever we’re from. So our plan for … Read more

The Supreme Court rules that devolved assembly consent is not legally required for Brexit. But the political battle is only just beginning

. So  the Westminster Parliament must vote on triggering Article 50 – but on what exactly and how often until Brexit is achieved?  The battle has only just begun. It’s  bad news for nationalists everywhere.  The Court ruled that the consent of the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly of Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly is not legally required.  The argument put forward by Sinn Fein, the SDLP and in the courts by Raymond McCord that under the GFA the … Read more

SNP pressure to stay in the single market boosts the UK case. Why not champion these ideas for Northern Ireland?

Nicola Sturgeon herself admits there are challenges in the SNP’s proposals to keep Scotland within the single market if the rest of the UK is without. The generous view of the paper Scotland’s Place in Europe is that at least it sets out a position, which is more than the than the UK government has done so far. Witness Theresa May’s stonewalling performance before the Commons Liaison Committee yesterday and the Guardian’s sketch of it. Furthermore the Scottish case could … Read more

So the DUP are leaving it all up to Theresa May to sort out our Brexit deal are they?

At last!  Only two months later, a reply from Theresa May to the joint concerns of FM and DFM on the impact of Brexit. Searching for detail in the Nolan “scoop” I can only find this on the BBC website. In her letter, Mrs May says the future of the border is “an important priority for the UK as a whole.” She also says she recognises the “unique issues” raised by the Single Electricity Market and that resolving these will … Read more

The Irish Times and the Guardian combine to ramp up pressure on May and in support of the “all-island Civic Dialogue”

“At this delicate moment, the Guardian and the Irish Times are collaborating on a week-long series exploring the predicament facing Ireland and the UK. Kenny told the Irish Times that he would summon all political players to an unprecedented All Island Civic Dialogue on 2 November. “ In support of the Guardian’s announcement the Irish Times has published a gloomy analysis of the effects of Brexit on both countries. The rough guide is that every 1 per cut in UK growth … Read more

Theresa May is risking the future of the British Union if she fails to recognise that Westminster is no longer “in control”

Scottish nationalism is on the defensive for the first time in over a decade. On the other hand, English nationalism could give it second wind if it thinks it can a score an easy victory without acknowledging its enduring power.  At this juncture, it’s  true that one  early outcome of the Brexit confusion leaning towards a hard Brexit is that Nicola Sturgeon’s calculations have become more complicated. On the eve of the SNP annual conference former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill … 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

Unionism’s experience in NI should give Alex Salmond pause for thought on Derry’s Walls tomorrow…

When travelling outside Scotland,  Alex Salmond usually doesn’t miss an opportunity  to  characterise his Scottish National Party as ‘peaceful, civic, and inclusive’.  He did it in Bilbao in January when he was receiving the Sabino Arana award from  the authorities in the Basque Country. He is likely to bathe it in the same virtuous light this Friday when he comes to  Derry  to address the city’s Chamber of Commerce  He will be in a place where anti-British nationalism is based … Read more

…but they’ll never take our EU membership?

The debate on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union has properly begun.  In these early days of the debate David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon have made an unusual partnership to try and add a Scottish question to the European one.  The UUP is playing a game of public angst with the Scottish claims one of the issues they list for their dither as they frantically try to assess the direction of the wind. The ability of Northern Ireland … Read more

Orange, green…time for a new idea on ‘the border’ in between?

An excellent piece by Belfast Barman recently asked why, since the dream/ threat of a United Ireland allegedly defines our politics in Northern Ireland, we rarely hear the details of how exactly it would work discussed by those in favour or the precise, alleged horrors of such a thing debated by those strongly against. In an even more recent post Colum Eastwood, however, starts to think – in broad terms – about what might be needed to bring about a … Read more

EU adopts bad net neutrality laws

The idea that data should be ferried from place to place as quickly as possible, regardless of what it is, is how most people assume the internet works. That’s the essence of net neutrality. Yesterday the EU voted through a report on the `European single market for electronic communications`.  Most headlines centred on the proposed scrapping of mobile roaming charges including the press release from the DUP. However the future of how the internet works in Europe was also in … Read more

There are lessons from Northern Ireland for the SNP’s row over Nick Robinson and the BBC

The row between the BBC’s outgoing political editor Nick Robinson and the former Scotland first minister Alex Salmond  reminds me of experience in  Northern Ireland during the Troubles  where there was a similar lack of fundamental agreement about the political destiny of the country. Nick’s row arose out of questions he put to Alex at a news conference towards the end of the referendum campaign. The SNP were playing  down the theme  which turned out to be the clincher in … 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

Finance Ministers from the devolved administrations issue a warning on cuts

Interesting article that caught my eye on Politics Home today was a joint letter issued by the Scottish Finance Secretary, John Swinney, Welsh Finance Minister, Jane Hutt and our own Finance Minister, Arlene Foster, to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Greg Hands about the pace of spending cuts coming from Westminster. The letter warns that the current pace of cuts are going “too fast and too far” and warn about the dangers to public services. The three ministers wants … Read more

Should the Scottish Parliament and the Assemblies in Cardiff and Belfast control ” their” BBC?

The three wee Celts in the precariously devolved  UK have got together – convened wouldn’t you know it – by the Scots, to agitate for a bigger slice of the BBC licence fee during the coming round of the BBC Charter review. Northern Ireland’s culture minister Caral Ni Chuilin  declares: “The BBC must continue to embrace and further develop its commitment to its public obligations and the occasion of the charter renewal must be seen as an opportunity to deliver … Read more

Abortion law is pawn in a Tory-SNP power game

The Herald reports that the Conservatives are thinking about devolving abortion law to Scotland where a strong Catholic lobby is opposed to the 1967 Act. What the point of doing it unless the aim is to repeal it? Not necessarily apparently. It’s really about the power game between Westminster and Holyrood, not about little matters such as rights, ethics, women and embryos. Earlier this year, the Scottish Government quietly dropped a demand for new powers over abortion, saying it had other … Read more

The SNP have gone beyond the unionist-nationalist split – a new account of their success.

For those of us who can trot out the reasons for the dramatic rise of the SNP and still remain dissatisfied with the explanations, the writer David Torrance moves us closer in the Guardian today. Torrance is an open minded  unionist  who declares his views but doesn’t let them get in the way, a priceless asset  in a discussion of divided politics.  For me his key point is that the SNP have reached beyond the  basic unionist- nationalist, left right splits  … Read more