19 July 2015

The light on the hill

While Andrew Wilson has been away on his summer holidays, the folk at the Scotland on Sunday asked me to fill in a couple of columns. Last week I wrote about feeling a bit frazzled by Scottish politics, and the unremitting pace of stuff since the referendum.

The aftermath. The Nationalist retrenchment. The Smith Commission. The general election campaign. The victory. The aftermath. The Scotland Bill.  I am a summer hermit crab - an introvert by any other name - who is feeling a little frayed, with no time left to stand, and stare, and reflect on all that has changed in the last twelve months. It has been, as one of Alan Bennett's history boys had it, "just one fuckin' thing after another."

The theme also came up at the Traverse in Edinburgh, at playwright David Greig's Two Minute Manifestos.  The primary guests were Olympian Susan Egelstaff and Edinburgh poet, Ron Butlin. I joined the Guardian's Libby Brooks on the cynical pundit's sofa. The Two Minute Manifesto team have recorded the aftermath in podcast form, available here.

Having looked backwards last week, today, in my final fill-in column in the Scotland on Sunday, I look forwards - towards the next Holyrood election and the tone and manifesto on which Nicola Sturgeon's government will fight for re-election. An excerpt:

"ONLY a major calamity or unforeseen scandal can now prevent Nicola Sturgeon from seizing a second term. Only a significant revival in Scottish Labour’s fortunes can deprive her government of its majority in Holyrood, and Labour stands a snowball’s chance in hell of securing that revival. Sitting pretty on an overwhelming lead, under a popular leader, eight years since Jack McConnell lost power by a single seat, the nationalists have never looked stronger, or their opponents weaker. 
I’ve yet to meet the Labour activist who has any stomach for this fight. The Tories are chipper but resigned to modest achievements. The Greens are buoyant but aware of their limitations. The capitulation is general. Yet while the politics seem all sewn up, awkward policy questions are beginning to mount up for Sturgeon’s administration in health, education, and policing. Now more than ever, the triumphant SNP needs to cultivate its critical friends."

Read the full piece here.


  1. Congrats Andrew, you made me go BTL in a Scotsman article, nay, you made me read a Scotsman/SoS article for the first time in many years.

    Amongst the resident sewer rat's choleric cant, this phrase stood out, repeated twice:

    A gritty and insightful piece as expected from Mr Tickell.

    So clichéd they said it twice...

    Seriously Andrew, if you ever need a hagiography written, I'll do it for a couple of bottles of Trappiste. Give me a case and I'll make it funny. Or maybe the other way round.

  2. Like the mighty Conan, I also made the mistake of reading the comments, where I noted the height of humanity's intellectual power has created the term "arss-en-pee".
    In a flash, I was taken back to the school-yard - ah, what wonderful memories. Not.

    Curiously, the two "gritty" posts from different on-line identities use virtually identical wording, so I suspect the mighty Conan's words should read 'So cliched he said it twice'.....

    1. There's probably one thing that hasn't changed about the Hootsmon's comments boards, and that is the ratio of users to user names.

      As bad as it now is, I still have a soft spot for The Hootsmon as was - my brother in law and nephew both worked there; Geordie Foulkes' up and coming young researcher posted on there too, coining the name 'cybernat' against those of us who protested at the bloody obvious unionist bias.

      Which the Red Nosed Baron claimed was all his own work on Wikipedia.

      The researcher got a job out of it though.

  3. I dont read the Scotsman BTL comments any more - think we can all agree it is waste of time, not sure why it is so bad.

    Andrew: 'Only a major calamity or unforeseen scandal can now prevent Nicola Sturgeon from seizing a second term.'

    No shortage of possible scenarios and loose SNP cannons, but you know am not sure if even that would change the voting pattern by much. If it came out that Ms Sturgeon spent her evenings throttling budgies, the faithfull would say 'Aye wee bastards deserve it'

    1. "not sure why it is so bad"

      Isembard provided a wee clue.

    2. Indeed. So clumsy. Must be almost as boring to do as it is to read.