Nicola Sturgeon

Labour must hold Brexit Britain together

First published on Portland Communications for The Brexit Desk

Governments have limited bandwidth. Limits to how many priorities they can pursue. This Government has had its decided for it – by a referendum of the people – and it is dominating the agenda like nothing else.

Theresa May was hoping there would be a little capacity in the system for her pet projects – bringing back grammar schools, workers on boards – but alas. Nicola Sturgeon used the hiatus between the House of Commons and Lords on Monday to drive a coach and horses through the Prime Minister’s wishful thinking.

Downing Street has now got to manoeuvre Britain’s leaving the European Union and keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom. This would be tough for a good Prime Minister. (more…)

May in meltdown

First published on Progress Online for The Last Word

May’s weakness exposed, leadership in local government and an impressive start for Open Labour – Progress director Richard Angell has this week’s Last Word

The Tories in 2015 told Britain not to vote Labour because Ed Miliband would be a disaster for the economy and he would be pushed around by Nicola Sturgeon. If it was not for the fact that the National Health Service was in crisis and the government’s only idea for improving schools is to bring back grammars, you might have to pinch yourself to remember who won. 

The morning after Sturgeon ambushed the country and announced her intention to legislate for a second referendum on Scottish independence, the Times ran with a government source saying: ‘This timing is completely unacceptable … it would be irresponsible to agree to it and we won’t.’ If half of what the first minister said about being kept in the dark about how Brexit might proceed is true, the fault in many ways lies with Theresa May and her operation in No 10. 

May likes to maintain that her ‘thoughtful’ style is a strength and shows that she is considered. It is anything but. The weakness of No 10 and her inability to know her own mind is why so much of Brexit is still unclear and why she cannot show her own colleagues, let alone parliament or the devolved administrations, the respect and consideration they deserve.  (more…)

How IndyRef2 could become BrexitRef2

First published on Progressonline

Nicola Sturgeon believes that preparing the legislation for a second referendum on Scottish independence might be a way of calling Theresa May’s bluff on Brexit and Scotland’s place in the single market. If she tries, the bluff-calling might just be on the other foot.

In her Today programme interview this morning Sturgeon did her best braveheart routine, but the language was noticeably different. She talked about taking ‘control’ and questioned whether the future of the United Kingdom was the constant and status quo that it represented in 2014. Straight out of the Vote Leave script the civic nationalist checked off all the boxes in the English nationalist playbook. Chief Brexiteer Matthew Elliott has since the 23 June poll explained how Vote Leave had to make continuing in the European Union as risking as leaving. It worked. Brexit offers the same possibility for her second referendum – so Sturgeon hopes. (more…)

An unrest being fuelled not quelled

First published on ProgressOnline

It all feels very personal. It is not that I cannot believe it or that I hate my fellow country-folk. But I do worry about what our country is becoming. Leaving the European Union is a body blow to Britain, as we are seeing in the markets. I respect the decision but think it was a very wrong one for everyone.

On the tube this morning a group of friends were talking about Brexit, Boris and Trump in the same worrying breath. A mixed race guy told his friend that he ‘felt like an illegal immigrant in his own country’. The first cross word I have ever had with my grandma was over this divisive referendum and Facebook seems full of families arguing about who took what side. There is an unrest in the air that this decision is fuelling not quelling. (more…)

Five reasons Labour won’t come third in Scotland this May

First published on LabourList

The team of spin doctors around Seumas Milne are colluding with Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Tories in the expectations game for Jeremy Corbyn’s first real electoral test in May. Both of them want people and the media to think that Scottish Labour might come third in the coming Scottish parliament elections. Davidson because it makes it more likely her party will come in second. However, for the Labour leader’s office it seems that they are prepared to throw hard-working members of the Scottish parliament under a bus just so expectations are exceeded in a few months’ time.

Those campaigning for a Corbyn leadership last summer told the wider party that an anti-austerity leader would turn around Labour’s fortunes in Scotland. The rhetoric and the party policy has changed north of the border: a top rate of tax to pay for a fair start fund for the poorest kids, 1p on income tax to reverse local government and education cuts. Scottish Labour has even junked its historic support for Trident to align itself with the new leadership, and voted in Holyrood accordingly.

Having spent this time last week on the doorstep in six very different Scottish constituencies, I know our party colleagues there need our help with one-to-one chats with voters, not journalists. (more…)