Politics

Has England Lost Its Way?



'Yon shadow mile o' spire and vane'. Edinburgh, photo Rob Bruce.

“I do not know much about gods, but I think that the river is a strong, brown god.” I always think of TS Eliot’s line about the Thames whenever I cross it.

The surface of the water is calm. You get no sense from looking at it of the political earthquake that is shaking the UK. That’s the difference between a political earthquake and a real one. You can’t see it, but that doesn't mean it isn’t happening or that its effects are unimportant.

After some time away, I am back in the UK, making the familiar journey from London to Edinburgh by train, the morning after a party.

Read more: Has England Lost Its Way?

US Election: Some Hard Lessons from Brexit for the Democrats.

Brexit continues to lie untouched in the dog’s breakfast bowl, no more appetising in the cold light of day than it was when things started to smell bad on the night of June 23. Hard Brexit, soft Brexit, Brexit over easy on rye, nobody's quite sure what they ordered. The Scots aren’t planning to shut up and eat what someone else requested on their behalf, that’s clear. Alex Salmond said recently there will be a new independence referendum in 2018.

The US is facing a similar binary choice with one indigestible option on the menu: here are some lessons from a still-suffering Remain supporter.

Read more: US Election: Some Hard Lessons from Brexit for the Democrats.

Go on yersel, England. Scotland is sticking with the lady in red.



The Scottish Parliament at night: Photo by Rob Bruce

It was all wrong on the day of the poll, like a scene from Shakespeare, unseasonal thunderstorms, flooding, owls hooting in the afternoon. ‘Is that a dagger that I see before me?” someone tweeted when Boris Johnson praised David Cameron. “Beware the march of IDS,” said another. Guardian columnist Nick Cohen compared Michael Gove and Boris Johnson to Regan and Goneril, the bitchy daughters in King Lear. Joyce McMillan the next morning in the Scotsman quoted Rome and Juliet: "A glooming peace this morrow with it brings." Then the UK’s EU commissioner Lord Hill resigned with Lady Macbeth’s last words: “what’s done cannot be undone”.

Read more: Go on yersel, England. Scotland is sticking with the lady in red.

A Scottish 'No' Voter Pleads: "England, Don't Let Us Down!"



This week in East Berlin wherever I went, I seemed to hear the sound of bagpipes. First, a man in a Glengarry playing the pibroch in the famous street Unter den Linden; then a Pole in a Celtic top playing an ancient set of pipes his grandfather had acquired in the Highlands.

Read more: A Scottish 'No' Voter Pleads: "England, Don't Let Us Down!"

At the Holyrood Election Thursday: First Vote Labour, Second Vote Tory?



Whether Labour or the Conservatives takes second place on Thursday (May 5) is the talking point of the Scottish election. Betting company Paddy Power thinks Labour; Professor John Curtice says it could go either way.

 

Professor Curtice is probably right. He knows when to poll them, and he knows when not to call them - as “The Pollster”, a satirical version of the the Kenny Rogers song “The Gambler” dedicated to the Prof by Vic Rodrick and Annie Gunner Logan has it. (For reasons of copyright etcetera, the pair’s sharp-witted parodies are only ever heard live and if they announce dates for this year’s Fringe, grab a ticket.)

 

Whichever way the cookie crumbles, the opposition vote is likely to be split between Labour and the Tories. So is there scope for them to pool their resources in a new politics? Is it possible for Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson to work together on at least some issues to form a coherent opposition?

Read more: At the Holyrood Election Thursday: First Vote Labour, Second Vote Tory?