MY colleagues guffaw at me all the time. I think this is affectionate, but it may not be and instead actual scoffing. In any event, I am sure it is not something that should detain me for long.

One of the litany of reasons I am the source of their scorn is my fondness for quoting people such as Gandhi and this week Yoda.

The famous Jedi master’s quote in response to Luke Skywalker saying “I’ll give it a try” is wondrous: “No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try ... ” as he stamped his small (and potentially levitating) feet.

His point was that, in life, we have to believe in ourselves and get on with things. We can discuss, debate and theorise but ultimately we have to just do. And while we are at it, do well. Doing is both believing and acting. We are our choices because they become our actions. You get the idea.

When it comes to Brexit and our Government – and I use the term “our” in the “not actually our” sense – there is no do, only try.

One of the stand-out lessons of how not to do it from Brexit comes from trying to implement a general grievance without thought.

By this I mean we know what Brexit does not like, that would be Europe. What we don’t know is what Brexit would actually like, that would be the policy and leadership vacuum.

This matter-free abyss is not assisted by the fact that what is being rejected – Europe – has a lot about it that people who voted for Brexit would quite like. Things like quality and safety standards, access to other countries, tariff free goods and so on. Job securing, life enhancing stuff as opposed to heavily regulated bananas. Those we hate.

So, it was understandable this week that the UK Government toiled so hard in the in the space without matter.

It took the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, to invoke the ancient Erskine May maxim ingrained in British constitutional law that insists that government needs to be vaguely competent please.

A democratic outrage, we all know, but that is Bercow for you.

Einstein is attributed with the quote: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Someone ought to tell Downing Street.

I do not want Brexit to happen, but if it happens, I would like it to be as soft as possible and then I would like Scotland’s voters to have the option to choose whether they stick with what they didn’t vote for, or would rather make their own and better way.

But before we can get anywhere near to knowing what is going on someone somewhere needs to learn to do. Because in the meantime most people are finding the whole fandango very very trying.

Paul Scott had a massive impact on Scotland

The National:

THIS week marked the passing of Paul Henderson Scott, a remarkable human being, at the age of 98. As a senior academic remarked to me: “He personified more than anyone I know the rejection of the Scottish cringe about which commentators were obsessed in the late 1970s when he returned to Scotland.” That rejection was, and is, so badly needed. Bravo Paul.

A former British soldier and diplomat, he was also a writer, historian and former vice-president of the SNP. He helped design German federalism and knew Fidel Castro. How about that? He also took time to encourage and enthuse me as a cub economist and researcher in a tiny SNP headquarters team in Charlotte Square in Edinburgh 
when I was but 25 years old.

By that point he had already lived more than most people I had met but he had the best part of a quarter-century left in him. He lived, I suggest, one of the best lives of his generation. In fact, he packed more into each decade than most of us do in our whole biblical three score years and ten.

His passing touched me as such moments do for all of us. I wasn’t to him close over these last years, although I admired him so. What it made me reflect was just how important clever and committed people like Paul are. Doers not triers.

Through the storms of life, against fashion and the odds, in the face of all the establishment mores he was part of, he spoke his mind and Scotland’s cause. Whether you approve and agree or not, it would be churlish not to recognise the impact people such as Paul have.

There would be no Scottish Parliament and no possibility of choosing a departure from the madness enfolding the UK were it not for people of all parties but of unifying ambition for the country. People like Paul.

Hibs show how to attract talent to Scotland

The National:

IN what was St Patrick’s week it was appropriate to find myself enjoying the warmest of welcomes at Hibernian FC last Saturday. While my team, Motherwell, did not deliver as my family and I wished, it was a bit of a reunion for the old board of the club and the simply outstanding CEO of Hibs, Leeann Dempster. She is not from fitba’ central casting and all the better for it.

The stand-out difference between the teams was 22-year-old Belgian Stephane Omeonga signed on loan from Genoa in Italy. What interested me most, though, was the response when I praised his performance to Leeann and her excellent director of football George Craig. He said that there was no way the player or his agent would have been interested in joining Hibs or the Scottish league had they not sent him a film about the virtues 
of life here.

In it, they highlighted the joys of Edinburgh and the quality of life in Scotland’s capital city. It was good enough to turn his head and bring him here. I loved to hear that, and it struck me just how important it is for us to both recognise the value of what we have and to sing our own song passionately.

An increasing consensus of opinion realises that the attraction of international talent to live here, work here, raise a family and start a business here is central to the success of our economy and society.
Hibernian have demonstrated how a confident prospectus encouraging people to come can work.