As a rule, political journalists should avoid writing about countries they haven’t visited. It’s impossible to cover a story properly unless you’ve actually witnessed its effects, in some fashion, at first hand. Otherwise, you miss the essential, granular details that mark one place out from another.

In this instance, however, I’m willing to make an exception, because the story in question is so absurd – and so criminally underplayed by the international media – that I’m finding it increasingly difficult to ignore.

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The list of senior Tories slated to replace Theresa May when she is finally ousted from No.10 Downing Street is getting shorter by the week. Phillip Hammond’s reputation is cratering faster than the British economy, Boris Johnson is an obvious dud, and the appeal of staunch Brexiteers like David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg is limited to the narrow confines of the Tory grassroots. But another name routinely cited in the UK media as a plausible alternative to May is that of Ruth Davidson, the Tory leader in Scotland.

You can see why some people think Davidson would be a smart choice. In addition to being young and media-savvy, she can lay claim to something increasingly rare in modern Tory politics: actual, sustained electoral success. In 2016, the Tories dislodged Labour as Scotland’s second largest party at Holyrood and, at the general election in June, they won 13 Scottish seats, their best showing north of the border since 1983.

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If there’s one thing that Jeremy Corbyn has been absolutely consistent about in recent years, it’s that the Tories’ spending cuts are not, as the right monotonously insists, economically necessary, but instead form part of a broader ideological project to shrink the public sector and destroy the welfare state.

“Parliament can feel like living in a time warp at the best of times,” the Labour leader wrote in 2015, “but this government is not just replaying 2010, but taking us back to 1979: ideologically committed to rolling back the state, attacking workers’ rights and trade union protection, selling off public assets, and extending the sell-off to social housing.”

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2017, it seemed, should have killed the campaign for Scottish independence stone dead.

At the UK general election in June, the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) lost a third of its Westminster seats, forcing SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to “reset” her plans for a second independence referendum. Then, in August, new analysis showed that an independent Scotland would face a projected budget deficit of 8.3 per cent – the largest of any EU state. And on top of that, major splits have begun to emerge within the ‘Yes’ base, as younger, more radical activists sympathetic to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party have clashed with older, more conservative nationalists loyal to the SNP. 

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Ever since I was 11 or 12 years old, Tony Blair has been a constant, leering presence in my life. Even now – a full decade after he resigned as prime minister of the UK and leader of the Labour Party – he’s virtually inescapable; a relentless voice in the global media demanding my attention through the sheer, overwhelming force of its celebrity. He’s quoted at length in GQ and The New Yorker on Brexit and Trump. He clogs-up the British press with his views on Jeremy Corbyn and Emmanuel Macron. He’s soft-balled on CNN and gushed over on Morning Joe. He wants and expects me to take him seriously, on terror, and Palestine, and free trade. But I keep hearing rumours that he destroyed Rupert Murdoch’s marriage.

I would be more inclined to listen to Blair if I wasn’t British, or if he didn’t freely admit that he has absolutely no idea what’s going on. “I’m not sure I fully understand politics right now,” he confessed in 2016, “which is an odd thing to say, having spent my life in it.” What confuses him, apparently, is the current popularity of politicians, like Jeremy Corbyn, who don’t adhere to the rules he esta

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In the strange and obscure world of Scottish constitutional politics, something can be utterly inevitable – until it suddenly isn’t. For most of the past ten years, and certainly for the past two, a widespread consensus has existed in Scotland regarding the inevitability of independence. That consensus has been based on the almost total dominance of Scotland’s electoral landscape by the Scottish National Party (SNP). Last month, the landscape changed.

At the UK’s snap general election on 8 June, the SNP shed 21 of its 56 Westminster seats and saw its share of the vote slump by 13 points. Angus Robertson, the party’s chief strategist, and Alex Salmond, its former leader, both lost their once rock-solid constituencies in the rural north-east. Towering nationalist majorities across Glasgow and the central belt crumbled. Even the Liberal Democrats enjoyed a modest Caledonian revival, adding three new Scottish MPs, in Edinburgh, Dunbartonshire, and Caithness, to their previous, solitary total of one.

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This is what it took for me to secure temporary residence and the right to work in Canada: I applied for a visa; a few weeks later my visa was approved; a few months after that, I arrived in Vancouver, the city I am now, tentatively, beginning to call home.

And that’s about it – the sum total of a process otherwise known for its impersonal bureaucratic drudgery. There was no intrusive background check, no last minute border interrogation, no attempt, at any stage, by the Canadian authorities to discourage me from moving to a country that I had never previously set foot in.

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