Amid the hubbub of a cabinet reshuffle, a minister-in-waiting scandal and a shelved education bill, the growing threat facing Scotland’s environment has been somewhat overlooked this week.
Powers relating to most environmental matters, such as air quality, water, energy, food and farming are devolved to Scotland. To date, these powers have been used in the context of UK membership of the EU.
If the SNP’s Growth Commission was supposed to do anything, it was to provoke debate. Debate is certainly needed about a new proposition for independence, because the one thing every 2014 Yes voter should be able to agree on is that what we don’t need is simply a re-run of an argument that failed to win a majority then, in circumstances which have already changed dramatically. That would be a recipe for a second and perhaps even final defeat.
Couples starting out their lives together, whether married or not, often face tough financial decisions, over issues like where to call home. If you’re very observant you might have spotted an occasional mention in the media that there’s a wedding taking place in Winsdor this weekend. Let’s all hope that the happy couple won’t have to face a grilling from their bank manager anytime soon as they set up home together.
When is consent not consent? This kind of question can be complicated, and when it becomes the focus of both public debate and legal process disagreements and misunderstandings can arise because of nothing more than woolly use of language. Most of us have an instinctive idea of what consent means, but until we actually discuss it openly we can’t rely on the assumption that we all share the same definition.
As the Commonwealth Games holds the attention of sports fans, and the Commonwealth Heads of Government meet in London, there has been another round of speculation about the organisation’s future, and debate about its past. Is the Commonwealth merely a legacy of Empire, a reminder of the brutal crimes of Empire, or is it a mutually beneficial community of countries bound together by bonds of friendship?
An enduring memory from my teenage years was hearing for the first time, in documentaries to mark the twentieth anniversary of his assassination, some of the speeches of Martin Luther King. Now, as we mark the fiftieth anniversary, his words have lost none of their searing power.
I was born just a few months after this country joined the European Community, and in the 45 years since then Europe has proved itself as a protector of human rights, the planet’s most progressive global voice on climate change, and the most successful peace project in history. It has created a future in which young people are no longer sent to other European countries to kill one another, but can choose for themselves where they want to travel, learn, work and live.
It used to be said that politicians complaining about the press was like sailors complaining about the sea. These days the same might be said of social media; many people in political life have very serious criticisms not only of the way social media changes behaviour, permits abuse and trolling, and proliferates disinformation, but also of the basic business model.
When the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament was officially opened in 2016, the Scottish Youth Theatre performed a flash mob recital of the Edwin Morgan poem, “Open the Doors!”. Perhaps its best known lines are about what Scots aspire for in their parliamentarians: “A nest of fearties is what they do not want. A symposium of procrastinators is what they do not want. A phalanx of forelock-tuggers is what they do not want. And perhaps above all the droopy mantra of 'it wizny me' is what they do not want.”
“If the world follows the lead of Scotland and makes its claim with these long-term targets and the rallying of business and civic and political leaders, then it's clear which direction we're going.” These are the words of former US vice president Al Gore, whose sobering documentary An Inconvenient Truth laid bare the harsh realities of our changing climate and the impacts on the planet if we don’t take urgent action.