Iain Macwhirter

Iain Macwhirter

Iain Macwhirter is a former BBC TV presenter and was political commentator for The Herald between 1999 and 2022. He is an author of Road to Referendum and Disunited Kingdom: How Westminster Won a Referendum but Lost Scotland.

The SNP’s Covid reckoning

We now know from evidence to the Covid Inquiry that Scottish government ministers were as prone to offensive language as Dominic Cummings. Nicola Sturgeon called Boris Johnson a ‘f***ing clown’, and Humza Yousaf called a Labour MSP a ‘twat’. If the government’s mass deletion of WhatsApp messages was designed to insulate it from embarrassment, it

McMafia: inside the SNP’s secret state

40 min listen

On the podcast: gangsterism or government?  The Covid Inquiry has moved to Scotland and, in his cover story for the magazine, our editor Fraser Nelson looks at the many revelations uncovered by Jamie Dawson KC. Fraser describes how civil servants were enlisted into what he calls an ‘SNP secret state’ and how SNP corruption is

The SNP’s juryless trial plan is falling apart

The SNP government has rarely demonstrated great respect for legal precedent or the rights of the individual. When Humza Yousaf was justice secretary back in 2020, he forced through the most illiberal curbs on freedom of speech in British history with the Hate Crime (Scotland) Act. This criminalised ‘stirring up hatred’, even in the privacy

Humza’s humiliating XL Bully U-turn

Humza Yousaf has just executed an embarrassing U-turn and effectively banned XL Bully dogs in line with England and Wales. This has inevitably unleashed a pack of bad canine puns about the SNP making a dog’s breakfast of devolution. We always thought Humza Yousaf was barking, now we know. Boom boom.  This episode is another botched

It’s no surprise Humza Yousaf is courting Brian Souter

It seems that Humza Yousaf is taking diversity seriously – though not as we know it. Scotland’s First Minister has apparently welcomed the Christian fundamentalist former bus tycoon Brian Souter, regarded as a homophobe by the Scottish Greens, back into the SNP fold. Changed days.  The SNP needs all the help it can get with

Nicola Sturgeon’s remarkable downfall

As she faced her final press conference of 2022 last Christmas, the first minister of Scotland seemed unassailable. Nicola Sturgeon had negotiated the Covid pandemic with consummate skill – at least in terms of presentation. Her personal popularity, while not what it was, remained unnaturally high for the leader of a party that had been in

The SNP’s tax and spend delusion

What do you think when you think about teachers? Two things, if you are anything like me: low pay and time off work with stress. It’s a hard job, no doubt. Teaching unions jealously guard their grievances and if you say that teachers are actually quite well paid and that teaching is a rewarding career you’ll be hounded by

Will the SNP finally abandon its gender reforms?

Perhaps the Scottish government thinks it’s a good time to put out the rubbish. With the news agenda dominated by the Scottish Budget and with the Christmas recess imminent, First Minister Humza Yousaf has reportedly decided to abandon his appeal against the UK government’s Section 35 order on the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. The bill, intended

Is Kate Forbes Scotland’s answer to Giorgia Meloni?

Scottish nationalists have always looked to Scandinavian countries as models of what a caring, social democratic Scotland would look like if only it could escape the clutches of Westminster. Not anymore. National populism, or what the left call the far-right, is on the march across the Nordic landscape. The Sweden Democrats, the True Finns and

It’s time for Humza Yousaf to end this gender bill farce

The first minister of Scotland, Humza Yousaf, has a painful choice following his latest defeat in the Court of Session today over the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. Yousaf had challenged the UK government’s use of Section 35 to block the gender bill because it could undermine UK-wide protections for women. This futile exercise has

Alex Salmond’s revenge against the SNP is far from over 

The former First Minister, Alex Salmond, is to sue Nicola Sturgeon and her former civil servants for ‘misfeasance’. In court documents today he accuses her and her officials of having ‘conducted themselves improperly, in bad faith and beyond their powers with the intention of injuring Mr Salmond’. The surprise is that it has taken him so

The SNP’s Covid WhatsApp debacle

You have to hand it to the Scottish government: the deletion of WhatsApp messages is good preemptive news management, whether accidental, by default or deliberate. Once journalists get their hands on them, those curt, day-to-day messages can be just a tad embarrassing — as this week’s expletive-laden evidence to the UK Covid Inquiry confirms. The Scottish

The mystery of the Covid Inquiry’s missing WhatsApps

It will no doubt be referred to in Whitehall circles in future as the ‘Jason Leitch protocol’. Scotland’s clinical director appears to have escaped scrutiny by the UK Covid Inquiry. It was revealed last night that his WhatsApp messages sent during the pandemic were deleted at the end of each day. The Scottish government have

Humza Yousaf’s election strategy? Keep the spending taps open

Humza Yousaf’s main objective at this week’s SNP conference, his first as leader, was to free himself from the constitutional millstone placed round his neck by his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon: the ‘de facto’ referendum. He has united the party in ditching that phrase, though the phoney plebiscite remains in spirit. The new policy states that

Has Humza Yousaf turned things around?

15 min listen

At his first speech as SNP leader at the party’s conference, Humza Yousaf gave a policy-filled address. He hasn’t had an easy start to his leadership, but can he turn things around? Katy Balls talks to Lucy Dunn and Iain Macwhirter. Produced by Oscar Edmondson and Cindy Yu.

Scottish Labour moves right – and wins

19 min listen

Labour has secured a resounding win against the SNP in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election with a swing of 20.4%. Fraser Nelson speaks to Katy Balls and Iain Macwhirter about whether this the end of the Scotland hegemony of the SNP, and if Labour have drifted closer to the right. 

The SNP hegemony in Scotland is over

It’s only one by-election of course and the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election was a most unusual one. It was caused by the sitting SNP MP, Margaret Ferrier, being ousted from her seat in a recall ballot following her suspension from Westminster for breaching lockdown rules during the pandemic. Of course we were going to lose,

Humza Yousaf is talking nonsense about Scotland’s oil

For nearly half a century, the Scottish National Party based its independence project on ‘Scotland’s Oil’ which it claimed had been stolen by England. Now the SNP seems to be saying it wasn’t Scotland’s oil at all and wasn’t even the UK’s to steal. The SNP and their Green coalition partners have discovered that North Sea oil is

When will Humza Yousaf see sense on his doomed gender bill?

Just when you thought it was safe to go to back in the gender-neutral loo, back comes the row about the Gender Recognition Reform Bill. It lands in Scotland’s highest court today, the Court of Session. Lady Haldane will hear three days of argument on the UK government’s unprecedented veto under the Section 35 of the