How to spot a populist 

A populist is a political leader or movement that seeks or obtains power by claiming to represent the interests of ordinary people and combat what they designate as the “elite” or the powerful. This is the ideational definition of populism I refer to in the prologue to the Populists handbook, which sees populism as aContinue reading “How to spot a populist “

Shunning Sturgeon

Renouncing Nicola  Are the faithful having doubts? The key figure in the push for Scottish independence since 2014 has been Nicola Sturgeon, the current First Minister of Scotland and the Scottish National Party leader. While her position on fossil fuels, feminism, and Europe has changed with the wind over the decades, Sturgeon has always beenContinue reading “Shunning Sturgeon”

Computer Says No

Populist’s Playbook asked AI ChatGPT to write an evidence based article arguing both for and against Scottish Independence. Here is what it produced: first the case against… Scottish Independence is a hotly debated topic that has been making headlines for years. While many argue that Scotland should break away from the United Kingdom and becomeContinue reading “Computer Says No”

Scottish Soothsaying 

Prophecy is a staple trope of mythology, and if Nationalism is anything, it’s an emotional appeal to mythology, often of an idealised past. The mythology of Scottish Nationalism has included a prophecy of the inevitability of victory, the surety in the collapse of the union, a glorious day coming where real or imagined wrongs willContinue reading “Scottish Soothsaying “

Separation Anxiety

The separation of the legislature and the judiciary is an indication, not a failure, of a healthy liberal democracy. It is the defining behaviour of populists to claim that they speak with the will and the authority of ‘the people against some defined elite. Independent courts must be able to hold the people’s representatives toContinue reading “Separation Anxiety”

Deficit Denial

Scotland’s Democratic Deficit Unionists and Nationalists are in deficit denial – but about different Scottish deficits. Unionists, quite correctly, highlight the challenges of Scotland’s nominal deficit – which would become structural, and therefore problematic, upon independence. Many nationalists downplay it or even deny it exists at all. In contrast, Nationalists highlight what they see asContinue reading “Deficit Denial”

The Politics of Parchment

The Scottish and American reactions to school shootings have been worlds apart. The Dunblane Massacre shocked, shamed and scared Scotland: on 13th March 1996, Thomas Hamilton shot dead 16 pupils and one teacher and injured 15 others before killing himself. The almost immediate reaction by the Government in Westminster was a UK-wide tightening of gunContinue reading “The Politics of Parchment”

Self Determination or Self Integrity?

It is a  jus cogens (generally accepted)  principle established in international law that ‘a people‘ have a right to ‘self-determination‘, and it’s surely one liberals and democrats should support. It has been a key factor in creating the stability of the post-war settlement. It is recognised as a principle in the UN charter. Unhelpfully inContinue reading “Self Determination or Self Integrity?”