The great Polish poet and aphorist, Stanisław Jerzy Lec described politics as a Trojan horse race.

It is an analogy that most of us accept implicitly. In fact, so normalised has the idea become that in December 2013 when the then Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources responded to allegations that his party had misled the public by saying ‘Isn’t that what you tend to do during an election?’ the electorate could barely summon a pair of eyebrows between them to raise in despair.

Today’s threat does not come in the form of a ‘horse of mountainous size,‘ however. It would be a far sight better if it did. We might be more wary of it. Instead, our ‘votive offering’ arrives in the shape of a harmless looking treaty that promises much and which, like the horse that sacked the city of Troy, will not reveal the horrors lurking within it’s gut until it is too late.

The TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is essentially a number of bi-lateral trade negotiations between the US and the EU. The largest of these agreements, the TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement) aims to bring together 51 states. It may surprise you that you haven’t heard much about ‘the biggest trade deal in the world‘, but it really shouldn’t. You are not supposed to for reasons that will soon become apparent. Read More

The Overton Window is a widely held political theory described by Joseph P. Overton, former Vice President of the Mackinac Centre for Public Policy which holds that in any given time and for any given topic there exists a narrow window of politically acceptable policies.

It is worth noting that such policies do not become acceptable because of deeply held beliefs by the politicians themselves. Instead, those policies deemed to be acceptable are those which a politician can safely discuss in public without damaging his/her prospects of re-election. Shifting the window then to include policies outside of the window is reliant on public engagement with ideas that lie on the periphery.

After Alan Kelly’s unveiling of the government Housing Strategy, it would appear that the campaign for the next general election is in full swing and re-invigorating Labour’s fortunes is foremost in his thoughts. Read More

The definition of an optimist is someone who believes that this is the best of all possible worlds. The definition of a pessimist is someone who fears the optimist is correct.

Perspective then is a powerful tool. It was sadly lacking last Friday morning as exhausted by weeping and trembling, I found myself wandering the streets of Edinburgh once again, without an ideological roof over my head.

Like many others, I wondered what next and it seemed the answer appeared no sooner than I had begged the question. 45 groups emerged almost simultaneously from the fog of hard fought defeat. Then the 45plus. The WeAreTheFortyFive…

I have to admit to being astonished by the seemingly boundless resolve of those who had already picked up the saltire from the fallen and with all the fire of youth, threw themselves on once more. But there is a danger in cobbling something together as a reaction to events as the Vow pledged days before polling illustrated. Read More


The death of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela – the meaning of the middle name is ‘troublemaker’ – only now brings to an end, the closure of the 20th century for the preceding century could never have been seen to have passed while breath remained in the body of it’s leading protagonist. Not merely was prisoner 46664, apartheid’s most determined antagonist or the most resonant cry heard in the 20th century, Madiba was the architect of this century also.

His moral authority was unquestionable. His dignity, humility and courage, exemplary. He was the distillation of a unifying ideal. The distillation of our hopes for a better world. He refined our dreams, then brought them into our waking hours. Read More

The Bitter Together campaign have today called upon the Scottish Executive to ensure that the forthcoming publication of it’s white paper on Independence is ‘entirely honest and upfront’ about the implications of a ‘Yes’ vote on next year’s Christmas celebrations.

The delivery of a ‘Yes’ vote in next year’s September 18th plebiscite it warns, could have grave consequences for Scotland’s ‘scabby, snot-faced weans’ and could jeopordise entirely the continued enjoyment of the festive season in an newly independent Scotland.

Recent observations published by the London based Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) raise a number of concerns regarding the fiscal sustainability of a free Scotland but it is the apparent lack of interest shown by Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon in explaining what an independent Scotland intends to do about Santa’s carbon footprint that is now irking the rank and filth of Bitter Together.

Recent figures estimate that the nation’s favourite obese drunk will be responsible for releasing 69.7 million metric tonnes of  carbon emissions over the night of the 24th as he sloshes through the snow. This astounding figure includes 53,667 metric tonnes of methane from the arseholes of his reindeer alone. A figure only eclipsed by oor Johann after a ‘think tank’ in Mother India’s.

Alisdair ‘Silver Balls’ Darling, former chancellor and now the brains and brawn behind Bitter Together was proper bealin’ when approached for a comment this afternoon, ‘Listen ya wee radge, I couldnae gie twa monkey fucks aboot a new Constitution for Scotland or transferring Tunnock’s Tea Cakes into public ownership’, he raged, ‘Ah’m mair worried aboot this carbon footprint… ah’ve only jist got ma new carpet fitted in the living room so that bastard better min’ and tak’ his boots aff in the fireplace.’ Read More

The Philosophy of Beards, published in 1880, wisely concluded that ‘the absence of a beard is usually a sign of physical and moral weakness’. No knowledge acquired by mankind in the time that has elapsed since would seem to disprove the theory.

God has a fine beard… if you are so inclined to believe. And we are made in his image no less. Jesus too, had his beard unceremoniously tugged and pulled at shortly before those beastly Roman’s pinned him to the cross for sedition. Salvador Dali had a particularly splendid one. Confucius. Aristotle. Galileo. Karl Marx. Che. Socrates. Charlemagne. Dionysus. Zeus. Mohammed (Orthodox Muslims swear by the beard of the prophet). Darwin. Abe Lincoln. Einstein. Lao Tsu. Sean Connery. John Devoy. Chuck Norris. George Clooney. Yosemite Sam. Jack Sparrow. The Dude Lebowski. Gandalf. Papa Smurf. Brian Blessed. Uncle Jessie. Aragorn and Ben Affleck, the Academy Award winner.

The contribution to the history of mankind from the boyish, soft skinned saps seated across the hairy divide is negligible. Hardly surprising when viewed together as a group. Charles Edward Stewart. Lepidus. Richard Cromwell. Edward II. Warren G. Harding. Kim Jong-un. Margaret Thatcher. John Boehner. Justin Bieber. Ashton Kutcher. Christiano Ronaldo. Zac Efron. One Direction. Frodo Baggins and Ben Affleck, the guy in Gigli. Read More

With a new review from the University of Southampton urging clinicians to be mindful of the link between prescribed antidepressants and increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, it may be time to persuade psychiatry to seek a ‘check up from the neck up’.

Let me begin by stating that I do not wish to overplay the relevance of this latest study (people taking antidepressant medication often put on weight thereby increasing risk of developing diabetes while antidepressants themselves may yet be shown to be interfering with blood glucose control), but given our increasing over-reliance on antidepressants – 46.7 million scripts for antidepressants were written in the UK in 2011 – the report’s key findings merit careful consideration.

In the US, the increase in antidepressant use is startling. 1 in 10 Americans are now prescribed antidepressant medication. This number leaps to 1 in 4 among women in their 40’s and 50’s.

Such an increase is not a new phenomenon, albeit it’s growth may now be considered exponential. A study of 233,144 adult patient records who made doctor appointments between 1996 and 2007 discovered that the percentage of prescriptions written by non-psychiatrists had more than doubled over the twelve year period, and included close to ten thousand prescriptions for antidepressants given to patients without any diagnosis of depression being present.  Read More

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