Writer, Journalist and Broadcaster

Monthly Archives: March 2009

Barnett Formula committee

The House of Lords’ Select Committee examining the Barnett Formula has put its latest evidence session online, featuring Sir Brian Unwin and Lord MacGregor, the Scots-born former Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Poll Tax anniversary

Today’s Scotland on Sunday has an interesting feature to mark the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the Poll Tax (in Scotland) on 1 April 1989. There’s also a short picture gallery of images from that period, which you can see by clicking here. Finally, my own take on the enduring mythology surrounding the PollContinue Reading

No-confidence debate anniversary

Today is the 30th anniversary of the no-confidence debate in the House of Commons which brought down James Callaghan’s government. I have a piece on this in The Times (unfortunately not online) while BBC Parliament is devoting this evening to original coverage of the dramatic events, as well as new documentaries. For real anoraks youContinue Reading

The Party’s Over

A fascinating article in yesterday’s Observer magazine by Roy Hattersley, remembering the downfall of James Callaghan’s government 30 years ago this week. Although Hattersley is always an entertaining writer, his memory often fails him. For example, he recounts the following story: “Plaid Cymru was safe and solid in its support. But the Scottish National partyContinue Reading

The 79 Group

I have an article in today’s Scotsman to coincide (roughly) with the 30th anniversary of the SNP’s 79 Group. It also features on David Maddox’s blog the Steamie. And for real political geeks, here’s the full text of Alex Salmond’s 1982 letter to the Scotsman that I quote from in the article: Sir, – IContinue Reading

Sir Nicholas Henderson

News just in that Sir Nicholas Henderson, the UK’s former ambassador to the United States, has died aged 89. He was ambassador to France when, in 1979, his valedictory memo (‘Britain’s Decline; Its Causes and Consequences’) was leaked to the press, who seized upon the line about Britain being ‘the sick man of Europe’. The full reportContinue Reading

Iain Gray

I was amused to see George Younger’s name taken in vein in Iain Gray’s speech to the Scottish Labour Party conference on Friday: “When I was elected leader I contrasted my story with Alex Salmond’s. Both Scottish, but our stories different. I studied science in the centre of the Scottish enlightenment.  He studied economics inContinue Reading

Miners’ Strike anniversary

A very good report on today’s Scotland Today (it’s about 14-and-a-half minutes in) by my colleague Jamie Livingstone to mark 25 years since the beginning of the Miners’ Strike. Excellent archive and very balanced.

Sir Michael Quinlan

Two interesting obituaries of the civil servant Sir Michael Quinlan in the Independent (complete with my two cents’ worth) and the Daily Telegraph. Although better known as a defence specialist – he was permanent under-secretary at the Ministry of Defence in the late 1980s, Sir Michael was also one of a team of civil servantsContinue Reading