There can be little doubt that Iain Macwhirter is one of the most important political commentators of our historic times. You may or may not agree with his editorial stance, but there are few who share the breadth of knowledge and understanding of his subject. This allows him to put Scotland’s politics into clear context which, when married to a sense of perspective and a winning writing style, makes his work accessible to all.
Macwhirter’s 2013 book Road to Referendum looked at the historic and cultural background to 2014’s historic vote, and his follow-up Disunited Kingdom was one of the more thoughtful and insightful reactions to the Scottish Independence Referendum, the ‘No’ result and the underlying political trends. When all around him were losing their heads, Macwhirter managed to give a detailed account of the key events in the immediate run up to the Referendum and make it engaging despite readers being all too aware of how that particular book ends.
Now, with Tsunami: Scotland’s Democratic Revolution, he attempts to contextualise the astonishing events surrounding the 2015 General Election; the all-conquering SNP, the demise and near death of Scottish Labour, and what the future is likely to hold for Scotland as its people and politicians react to such a seismic shift in the political landscape. You may feel you already know this story with it being so recent, but Macwhirter gets behind the scenes while remaining apart. He is a political journalist who, while never hiding his own point of view, is able to see all sides, particularly when it comes to the illogical or hypocritical. This is already borne out in his regular Herald and Sunday Herald columns, and those earlier books I mentioned, but it seems to me that Tsunami: Scotland’s Democratic Revolution sees him relax as a writer and allow his personality to come through more than it has previously.