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.”
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.
'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.
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.
Mysteries are a Great Way of Getting to Know a City
Boston. Photo by Rob Bruce
Exploring the city of Boston, I have enlisted the help of a private eye. A six-foot-one ass-kicking redhead who moonlights as a part-time cabbie and roams the city night and day, rooting out the corruption which constantly reappears, always in a different form.
I was prompted to ask this question after meeting some start-up farmers in Massachusetts. They are interesting and unexpected entrants into a profession we are often told has a gloomy future: from a rock promoter to a Harvard educated bio-physicist.
Like other developed countries and the rest of the US, Massachusetts has a large number of farmers over the age of 65 with no identified inheritors. For 30 years, the number of entrants into farming was on the slide. However, over the last decade that has begun to change. It seems, farming is becoming cool again.