SNP campaigning hard for big breakthrough

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson

The Scots music group, consisting of ladies and gents of a certain maturity, are wrapped in big striped woolly jumpers or anoraks, as well they might for it is chilly at the open-air Balerno farmers' market.

They pluck and saw their instruments in the centre of a square of stalls selling chutneys and organic highland beef and the world's original tattie scone wrap.

This pretty village is part of the Edinburgh South West constituency, where some are predicting the SNP will come from fourth place to win.

The players are cheerful and enthusiastic about their music, less so about the election.

The general view was that the referendum was bad enough, but now the politicians are shouting at each other all over again.

Read full article SNP campaigning hard for big breakthrough

Can Labour still dominate in Wales?

Treorchy, Rhondda Valley
The Rhondda Valley has experienced hard times

The campaign trail through the Rhondda Valley is a rather muddy, squelchy one.

I'm with the leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood, crossing the fields beneath a mountain on our way to what is described as a portal - I don't expect a shimmery sci-fi gateway but am slightly disappointed when there's not even a hole in the hillside.

Read full article Can Labour still dominate in Wales?

Northern Ireland passions move centre stage

Belfast
The result in Belfast could have huge importance to the UK

In Northern Ireland there are still bitter arguments about the old issues which divide this part of the world, about the flying of flags and the routes of parades.

It can seem very removed from the politics of the rest of the UK.

Read full article Northern Ireland passions move centre stage

Where is the inspiration in this election?

Nye Bevan, William Gladstone, Michael Heseltine
Bevan, Gladstone, Heseltine: where are the great political performers of today?

Inside the vast space of the Al Masjid ul Husseini mosque, in Northolt, north west London, pathways and rooms are being created at bewildering speed as barriers are shifted and rearranged, passed overhead in a happy chaos.

Men in pristine, white dishdashas and neat embroidered caps race from one place to another, watched by women in long dresses of many colours, decorated with flowers and intricate designs.

Read full article Where is the inspiration in this election?

Nato muscle-flexing sends Putin firm message

  • 12 March 2015
  • From the section Europe
Italian frigate
An Italian frigate was among the Nato forces in the Black Sea

There is the sound of a gun firing in the Bulgarian port of Varna as Nato's Maritime Group Two comes into harbour.

Don't worry, it's not war: they are firing a line ashore so they can tie up.

Read full article Nato muscle-flexing sends Putin firm message

Could Blue Labour capture party's soul?

Jon Cruddas
Jon Cruddas was appointed Labour Party policy co-ordinator by Ed Miliband in 2012

The link between a collection of erudite, philosophical essays, a nasty spat within Labour ranks about the NHS and a top level debate in the party over immigration, may not be obvious.

But it is important.

Read full article Could Blue Labour capture party's soul?

Trident question comes to the surface

  • 26 February 2015
  • From the section UK
Trident
The SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens want Trident to be scrapped

The loch at Faslane is very calm on a beautiful spring-like day, seagulls wheel above the jetty and its short, white radar tower. Beneath the still waters, I presume, lurks some of Britain's ageing nuclear deterrent.

The future of Trident may not be much of an issue in the election, but it will be one of the most important, and expensive, decisions the new government makes.

Read full article Trident question comes to the surface

Does the West have the will to stop Russia?

  • 12 February 2015
  • From the section Europe
A pro-Russian separatist shows an anti-tank missile in the town of Vuhlehirsk, eastern Ukraine
Russian-backed rebels appear well armed

It is not Vegas, but the worry must be that what happens in Minsk, stays in Minsk.

The urgency of making sure a ceasefire happens, and holds will only serve to intensify the debate in the US about how to deal with Vladimir Putin.

Read full article Does the West have the will to stop Russia?

Could Greece prompt wholesale change in Europe?

  • 29 January 2015
  • From the section Europe
A Greek Presidential Guard

The spectacle outside the Greek Parliament is so outlandish it is hard not to laugh.

This isn't anything to do with the weekend's election - although there are parallels.

Read full article Could Greece prompt wholesale change in Europe?

Has Libya been let down by the West?

  • 22 January 2015
  • From the section Africa
A member of Libyan pro-government forces, who are backed by the locals, holds a weapon during clashes with the Shura Council of Libyan Revolutionaries in Benghazi
Rival sides continue to clash in Benghazi

Is that a new Dawn for Libya I can see breaking over the horizon? A new prospect for Dignity?

Or will Dignity and Dawn remain poetic euphemisms for destructive division - the names of two competing military operations?

Read full article Has Libya been let down by the West?