Politics on the hill, an Edinburgh View

JK Arthurs Seat.jpeg 

A video about this blog made by Phantom Power Productions is available here.

March 11, 2017. 

Climbing Arthur's Seat on an overcast March day, thinking about politics, I wonder if Nicola Sturgeon is going to call a second independence referendum; if Theresa May is going to trigger Article 50 next week. Holyrood Park is busy - the route to the top is thronged and I hear snatches of conversation in many languages: French, then Polish, French again. A group of fit-looking German men files onto the path above me. It seems to me, returning after an absence of a few months, that Edinburgh increasingly feels like a European capital.


Behind me an English student is entertaining a visitor: “This is ten minutes from campus.” They are arguing about whether the rock paths laid on the hillside to protect it from erosion could be considered natural. “Is an anthill natural?  Ants modify their environment.”

Read more: Politics on the hill, an Edinburgh View

Has England Lost Its Way?


Passord A12725.jpeg


'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 Democrats should learn the lessons of Scotland's Independence Referendum

If the Democrats win the US election convincingly, they should learn the lessons of the Scottish Independence Referendum of 2014.

It seems to me now, looking back, that the Brexit campaign was lost on the morning of September 19, 2014. That was when victory was declared for the side which fought to keep Scotland within the UK. It was the morning when triumphant Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and his Chancellor George Osborne walked onto the steps of Downing Street - and stabbed the Labour Party who had fought alongside them in the back.

The ‘No’ campaign was fought and won largely by the Labour Party. The Tories, who had little support in Scotland, largely stayed out of it. The party political speech that Cameron gave that morning with an eye on the next General Election was the start of the unravelling of the coalition that could have swung the ‘Remain’ vote.

Read more: US Democrats should learn the lessons of Scotland's Independence Referendum

The Real Reason Trump Didn't Attack Bill Clinton

Hillary Clinton referenced “my husband’ in the first debate the other night - this was unusual, and a critic quoted in the New York Times said it was a remark that "put women back years" but it could be a good move. Although most commentators felt she won the debate hands down; the polling in the swing states is still close. If what people like about Donald Trump is that he’s a real person and they see her as a patronising know-all, then her long marriage to Bill shows Hill in a different light.


The political class have never forgiven Bill. You can see them having flashbacks when his name is mentioned. The crudity of the sex scandal that engulfed the White House during his presidency is all too vivid in their memories. The embarrassment, the humiliation that they felt as the world’s media swarmed into Washington, holding their hands over their mouths to mask their giggles, still surfaces easily.

Read more: The Real Reason Trump Didn't Attack Bill Clinton