Scotland’s democratic deficit: The Times Scottish edition

Somebody once said that democracy is a slow process of stumbling to the right decision instead of going straight forward to the wrong one. There’s truth in that. When democracy is working well, governments, held to account by elected legislatures, take sufficient time to get decisions right. Decision-making follows robust and constructive debate, consultation withContinue reading “Scotland’s democratic deficit: The Times Scottish edition”

The peace we crave: 2022 reflection

The end of each year offers a chance for reflection and 2022 has certainly given us much to contemplate. At the start January, the UK was emerging from an unprecedented and very difficult pandemic period. Just as normal life was starting to resume, news broke of war in Europe – Putin’s army had invaded Ukraine.Continue reading “The peace we crave: 2022 reflection”

The gender law is a democratic failure

There you have it. After years of heated debate both inside and outside Holyrood, the Scottish Government’s gender law has been passed. This afternoon, after a marathon Stage 3 debate, 86 MSPs gave final assent to the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. 39 voted against. In a few months, barring a legal challenge, people agedContinue reading “The gender law is a democratic failure”

Campus censorship must not become the norm in Scotland

Last night, a censorious mob gathered at the University of Edinburgh to disrupt the screening of a documentary about women’s sex-based rights. After occupying a lecture theatre and preventing those who had booked the venue from moving the screening elsewhere, they succeeded in their aim. The screening was called off. Attendees were forced to goContinue reading “Campus censorship must not become the norm in Scotland”

There’s worse to come in Scotland than the Hate Crime Bill

The Scottish Government has courted controversy with its social policy agenda: sweeping hate crime legislation, and gender recognition changes that undermine women’s rights. But what’s coming down the tracks at Holyrood looks even more troubling. In fact, the next item on the agenda could be one of the most controversial seen since devolution. Following activists’ demands, politicians’ promisesContinue reading “There’s worse to come in Scotland than the Hate Crime Bill”

Saka: faith in the spotlight

It’s rare to find a Scotland fan cheering on an England player in any national sporting competition, let alone a World Cup where our own squad is sitting, dejectedly, at home. However, this Scot was doing exactly that this week. Not, I would hasten to add, because of English footballing prowess. I’ll be as FrenchContinue reading “Saka: faith in the spotlight”

Gambling with lives: govt failings leave punters at the mercy of big betting

It’s been a tumultuous year in British politics, with two leadership contests in the space of just a few months, after an outpouring of public anger about the transgressions of Boris Johnson. To the politically disinterested, news of infighting, backbiting, and chaos inside the corridors of power will have been a tiresome spectacle. Something toContinue reading “Gambling with lives: govt failings leave punters at the mercy of big betting”

Against the assisted suicide Groundhog Day

Earlier today, it was announced that a parliamentary inquiry into assisted suicide will take place next year, with a particular focus on the experience of other countries that have introduced the practice. The Commons Health and Social Care Committee will hear evidence from doctors, campaigners, and the wider public before presenting a set of recommendationsContinue reading “Against the assisted suicide Groundhog Day”

The sacred and social media

Letter to the Big Issue, responding to the Editor’s Letter of 14 November 2022. In his most-recent Editor’s letter, Paul McNamee made the connection between a decline in Christian adherence and quasi-religious fervour for social media. It put me in mind of a quote by Australian theologian Michael Bird, who contends that human societies neverContinue reading “The sacred and social media”