THE recent vote of confidence has caused the dead cat bounce the Tory party HQ was hoping for. It’s enabled pro-PM support to jingo-up everything possible in their limited arsenal, reenforcing lie after lie: like “getting the big calls right”. If only. But it’s noticeable these claims of success don’t go back to, say, Foreign Secretary or Mayoral time: I’m wondering if Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe watched the 9pm results as they were announced.

Or who’s allowed to remember garden bridges, airports in the Thames, or lying down in ditches? So having botched the withdrawal from Afghanistan, left allies there to rot in hiding, we now have the unedifying spectacle of the PM bigging up himself via the latest war, this time in mainland Europe. I hope Zelenskyy is aware just how often the PM can disregard the likes of factual truths and obligations, as he trashes (any) trust and legislation in favour of personal expediency and gain.

Lesley Riddoch was so right on Wednesday in her closing assertion that more and more it’s evident Scotland is a different country, so different from our adjacent neighbour.

But because we are still democratic in our processes, how can we change minds to ensure democratic change? It isn’t sufficient to say we have to safeguard our future, one which must be disconnected from the rUK Tory Government and its exponential move further to the right. We know there is no majority in Scotland for Rwanda-based immigration policies. We’ve learnt here from the asset-stripping that happened with Right to Buy, when there was neither the money nor policies for replacement housebuilding. We won’t repeat that. But the red meat supposedly on offer in rUK of right to buy via benefit payments is more than dubious. Isn’t this reminiscent of the USA’s so-called “sub-prime market” house buying, and its subsequent collapse? Not accidental, but planned, with those targeted openly categorised as “sub-prime communities”.

And here, already being targeted are those in receipt of benefits. When you’re on benefits, how much can you “save” to produce a down-payment? Is this to deflect from “heat or eat”? Will mortgage lenders buy in to this? This is governing via slogans and soundbites, but taken as a package, either Tories will retain power, or light blue Labour, no friend to Scotland, will gain the upper hand in Westminster due to the demographic deficit.

So again, referring to Lesley Riddoch’s closing, how do we make that other kind of politics possible?

Politics have to appeal to more than 50%. Where are the facts, the “stories”, the evidence, the achievements secured through Holyrood? The everyday in your family politics, that say: “This is who we we are in Scotland, the people, the very society we’ve enhanced post-devolution.” And how do we portray the fairer future we can create in indy Scotland?

At the weekend past, Edinwfi teamed up with Yes Marchmont Morningside with stalls, a questionnaire, info, leaflets, face-to-face engagement. Just the same as across all of Scotland the grass roots has never left the stage, so we can anticipate Believe in Scotland Days of Action, and any amount of energising marches. We can campaign, we’re seasoned, and we can keep producing “stuff”. Until we define the basics, produce the tangible, like: how we will function monetarily in indy Scotland, how we’ll safeguard and improve on what we have, how we articulate the benefits of independence and most importantly how we identify the route to independence, the decision-making, the acting on that outcome, we won’t be doing politics differently.

I fear we’ll remain a movement, grass roots-led, not a politically charged force prepared to change.

Selma Rahman


WHY all the long faces regarding Boris and his recent “victory” over his party rebels? Short of the reanimation of Thatcher’s black soul to haunt Westminster as some evil, spectral Prime Minister that could crawl through your television during press conferences in the style of some Japanese ghost, it is hard to imagine a more unpopular person to lead the Union into indyref2!

The best possible outcome for us has come about. A wounded duck PM who is universally loathed in Scotland to the point his own party begs him not to visit is vaingloriously clinging on to power.

Long may it continue. What needs to happen now is for the SNP to stop dancing to the Westminster tune and lay down some concrete plans for the referendum before he is replaced by someone the BBC can worship with more credibility.

Rory Bulloch


ARE you amongst the one in five people across Scotland who now provide unpaid care for someone because of chronic illness, dementia, disability, or older age? If not, like me, you are very likely to know someone who is.

Care is critical to all our lives – after all, everyone needs looked after at some point. But, as we once again mark Carers Week, can we truly say that we properly value and reward those who provide it?

Right now, too many people who look after someone feel taken for granted while enduring deep personal wellbeing and financial impacts – including poverty, a situation made worse by the cost of living crisis.

Yet, day in and day out, they continue to provide care with compassion and love.

Covid-19 didn’t create this injustice, but it has shone an uncomfortable spotlight on it. New data shows that seven out of 10 people in Scotland now believe that unpaid carers are under-valued by society, with nearly nine out of 10 saying the government should provide more support. For many, it can’t come quickly enough.

Back in March, 41% of unpaid carers surveyed by Carers Scotland were already voicing fears that they would have no option but to use foodbanks. Since then, food and energy prices have surged.

Incredibly, being employed to care – whether in social care or childcare – isn’t a reliable defence against poverty either due to low-pay and poor job security. It’s a situation summed up by home care worker, Ann, who says that she feels like she’s “making a sacrifice to my family doing what I do” because “we can’t do the things we’d be able to do if I had another job”.

Meanwhile, the links between childcare responsibilities and poverty are also all too clear. Even pre-pandemic, 38% of working age single women with children were in poverty – more than double the rate for all working age adults.

Faced with such evidence, we cannot let the high levels of public awareness about the importance of care fade into history as we collectively ‘learn to live’ with Covid-19: we must instead use it to drive meaningful change.

That’s why Oxfam Scotland, Carers Scotland, Scottish Care, One Parent Families Scotland and the Scottish Women’s Budget Group, believe we must lock-in a long-lasting commitment to all those who provide care, whether paid or unpaid, and whether for children or adults. Our joint campaign, A Scotland that Cares, is calling for a new National Outcome to fully value and invest in all forms of care and all those who provide it. Academics at the University of the West of Scotland have developed a blueprint for it, and more organisations are backing the campaign every day. Now we need the political will to deliver it.

Right now, care and carers are all but invisible in the Scottish Government’s existing 11 National Outcomes, which it claims “describe the kind of Scotland it aims to create” – that can’t be right, and it can’t continue. Setting a National Outcome on care is not a substitute for immediate action to better support carers, far from it. But, over time, it will help drive new policy and spending action and, by identifying a robust set of indicators, allow us to track progress.

The Scottish Government will soon start to review their National Outcomes for the first time in five years. Setting a dedicated Outcome on care would make Scotland one of the first countries to make such an explicit commitment.

Positively, the Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, says he wants Scotland to be “the best place in the world to grow old”; an ambition that sits alongside the government’s existing one to “make Scotland the best place for children to grow up”. Neither aspiration, nor the First Minister’s promised ‘wellbeing economy’, can be realised without better valuing and investing in care.

While encouraging initiatives are underway or promised – from delivering fair work in social care and improving social security for unpaid carers and low-income families to expanding publicly-funded childcare – progress is slow and shallow.

The Scottish Government, with cross-party backing, must now embed their pandemic-promises to those with caring responsibilities and prove they are fully committed to building a Scotland that cares.

Find out more about “A Scotland that Cares”:

Jamie Livingstone

Head of Oxfam Scotland