Darren McGarvey was five when his mother tried to kill him. ‘I was upstairs in bed but finding it hard to sleep because of noise coming from the living room. My mum had people over and they were downstairs drinking, laughing and listening to music. My next memory is standing at the living room door, before a group of guests. I had my hopes pinned on my mum letting me stay up because she was drunk. I preferred her when she’d had a few drinks. She was much more relaxed, fun and affectionate. But tonight she was having none of…


The Scotland in which I, and, no doubt, many of you grew up was not a particularly diverse or enlightened place. It was — in a few unhappy ways still is — a starkly homogenous society that didn’t take kindly to change, or difference.

The main division, certainly in the central and western parts, was religion, the male instinct for aggressive tribalism finding its home in social segregation, lurid, borrowed hatreds, and the Old Firm. We drank too much, beat our wives, were emotionally stunted. We had Satan’s own diet. We died young.

If we avoided the flashpoints of some…


I like that: the Queen gave us a nice mace

Twenty years ago this month, voters overwhelmingly backed the creation of a Scottish parliament. It’s been a bumpy ride…

As the autumn visitor approaches the Scottish Parliament down the dark, narrow channel of the Canongate, tortured by Edinburgh’s bone-blasting wind and laser-guided rain, he might pull up his jacket collar and take a moment to read the selection of quotes chiselled into the wall. …


Looking down: the Sturgeons sit at the pinnacle of Scottish life

It wasn’t always chauffeur-driven limos, fawning crowds at the Glasgow Hydro and a mansion in Charlotte Square. Only 20 years ago, the SNP was a very different and considerably less glamorous beast. In a cramped set of rooms above a pawn shop in central Edinburgh, a tiny group of underpaid but passionately committed Nats worked long, thankless hours for the cause.

At the apex, as he would be for many years to come, sat the bulky frame of Alex Salmond. At his side was the party’s bearded, cigar-toting chief executive Mike Russell. Below them were the bright young things: economist…


Once long shots, now big shots, but they may have had their shot

When Andrew Wilson and his new bride Anna jetted off on honeymoon earlier this month, the SNP’s future looked bright. Perhaps not as bright as the Jamaican sun for which the happy couple were headed, but the party was widely expected to do well in the general election that would take place later that same week. Most observers predicted the Nats would retain all but a handful of the 56 Westminster seats they had won in 2015. A second independence referendum was still on the cards.

Wilson, a former economist and MSP, has a relatively low public profile these days…


Trump’s triumphed, Britain’s Brexiting, Le Pen’s close enough to being la presidente that she’s going on Andrew Marr. The three most powerful words in politics are Take Back Control. The world is engaged in one of its cyclical bouts of disaggregation, having bumped up against the reality, yet again, that our species is intractably tribal, predominantly self-interested and, when it comes down to it, pretty psychologically basic. People everywhere are taking their lead from charismatic insurgents who promise to save them from aliens in their midst or at their door. Nationalisms of one form or another are winning elections and…


Like most people lucky or arrogant or unhinged enough to make a living ranting at strangers about random subjects, I get asked to go on television now and again. When I was a younger man and still held before me the vague notion that I might amount to something more than a hairy, guddled misanthrope, I would occasionally say yes. Good for the Deerin brand, I’d tell myself, another step towards total world domination. …


I’m not saying Lenin wasn’t a clever and able man. Indeed, he ‘had such big brains they pushed his hair out’, according to one of his friends. His CV would have, at the very least, a strong ‘Previous Experience’ section: ‘immiserated and impoverished one’s country; birthed a regime of world-historical-level bestiality; occasioned the deaths of millions; in due course, almost wiped out the species homo sapiens; brought you Jeremy Corbyn.’ He gets added points for being able to show evidence that this was kind of the intention all along (apart from the last bit). ‘I believe my track record proves…


I stumbled across Nick Clegg recently — almost literally, as it happens — signing copies of his autobiography in a corner of a regional Waterstones. There was a decent turnout, and Clegg looked fit and well. He was dressed down in that preppy English privately-educated way — suede boots, neatly-ironed jeans, shirt and v-neck, sports jacket. He’s a handsome lad with an easy, relaxed manner, now layered with the world-weary authority and gallows humour you often find in ex-somebodies. …


A Tory MP was asked this week how long it would be before Brexit could be judged either a success or a failure. ‘We won’t know that for about 50 years, I think,’ was the unsmiling reply. A modern-day Zhou Enlai.

In a way, the Brexiters can afford to wait. They waited long enough in the first place. My friend Dan Hannan, the Tory MEP credited — if that’s the right word — as one of the fathers of this historic rupture, has campaigned with unswerving certainty and no small eloquence for Britain to leave the EU for 25 years…

Chris Deerin

ZOO EARS

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