When I was younger, I claimed housing benefit and JSA solidly for a year. I did it so I could live in a place where I could find a job I could turn into a meaningful career, a meaningful existence. I grew up in an area short of prospects, short of jobs. I did not have parents who could fund a year long series of internships. I had to rely on the state to get me on my feet.
Six weeks ago, I wrote: "We should be in no doubt: we, the West, are back in Iraq." And so it has come to pass. It is difficult to see how it could have been otherwise, once the murderers of Islamic State (or Isis or Isil, take your pick) started killing American and British journalists and aid workers on video. ... We have entered a bizarre Alice in Wonderland world in which Washington, Tehran, Damascus, Riyadh and Doha all seem to be lining up on the same side. The Saudis, Qataris and Emiratis even seem to have deployed some of their own aircraft, which I suppose at least proves that they do know what they're for.
To save lives and protect human rights, the genocidal fundamentalists of ISIS must be stopped. But not by the West and not for the reasons often advanced by David Cameron and Barack Obama... The truth is that if the US and UK are serious about fighting ISIS they should start by aiding the people on the ground who know the region best, have local roots and who are already leading the fight against the jihadist menace - the peshmerga army of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq and guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers Party and allied movements in Syria.
So while Alaska's newest reefer representative cleans house, in Ireland Minister Brendan Howlin is proposing a few sweeping law changes himself, in his case wiping some ancient statutes off the books. He better be careful though, as removing some of these measures could be quite unpopular.
As with the Scottish referendum, so with climate: there are two options - change, or be changed irreversibly. The consequences of either have sod all to do with politicians, but in the latter the entire planet is screwed.
Air strikes alone won't defeat ISIL. The organisation is clearly goading the West into direct confrontation. Once we get the first pictures of Muslim women and children killed by US missiles, no matter how isolated these incidents would be, that would up the ante in ISIL's propaganda war. This is when allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar will get cold feet.
The dust has seemingly started to settle after the Scottish people decided that we are, indeed, better together, but it has led to a period of uncertainty that has the danger to damage both countries, the Union and our economy if it's not resolved.
The trouble in George Square and Buchanan Street displayed how we are Better Together. Why? Because, an overwhelming majority of Glasweigans and Scots, no matter how we voted, are disgusted by this. I have seen others claim that this is what No voted for - this is the opposite of what we wanted.
'No' to independence from the UK meant 'yes' to dependence on GB. At the eleventh hour, Gordon Brown the former Prime Minister trumped Scotland's First Minister with authenticity, humility and outstanding oratory.
The people of Scotland have taught the rest of us an invaluable lesson. They have shown us that people do still care about the country they live in, its future, and how it is governed, and that they can become engaged, enthusiastic and passionate if they believe their views will make a real difference. So surely we can learn that lesson and build on it. Now it's time for the rest of us to demand that we too are given the same opportunity to make our voices heard, so that we too can have a say in what kind of country we and our children will live in.
The Prime Minister thinks he has got away with the "greenest government ever" lie. Nobody else does. Our air is more polluted, more homes are at significant risk of flooding and more species are in decline because of this Government's failure.
The only poll worth watching was the final one. While commentators, business and markets have twitched and twittered with the gyrations of #indyref polls in the past month - NO has won this referendum by a clear margin. While David Cameron will breathe a huge sign of relief - a vote of no confidence is off the table from even his own side - you have to agree with SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon - that "Scotland has changed forever" But that change is not just coming to Scotland - it now looks like a federal UK is on the cards.
Importantly for the UK as a whole, however, a yes vote would mean a long period of hugely complicated negotiations. The legal statuses, international affiliations, assets, debts and currency arrangements of the successor states would all have to be agreed...
As far as the English people are concerned, a Scottish split ought to mobilise a much-needed look closer to home, where the skewed political and economic landscape of a London-centric England shows a growing need to address our own socio-economic problems. Perhaps the collected counties of Northern England ought to demand a similar referendum; try telling the average northerner that their voice is heard down in Westminster.
With the Yes and No camps almost neck and neck in the polls, the result of the vote on Scottish independence looks set to go right down to the wire. ...
The opportunity that befalls us on Thursday is one of an exceptional preciousness; one that has been campaigned for with positivity and creativity. It is an opportunity, at its simplest, to compare how Scotland is run to how Scotland could be run, and to find the faith in ourselves to make the decision that we can do better.