Will 2026 be soon enough?

Or What can We do to Stop the Holyrood Takeover?

The current SNP leadership and many of the current (much reduced) membership seem to be happy to adopt a gradualist policy when it comes to progressing independence. Gradualist may be a fairly optimistic description. Neverist might be closer.

Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly stated that the Scottish Government cannot make any effort to advance the cause of independence until Covid has been beaten and until the impact of Covid is over. Earlier, it seemed from a statement made just before the election that she had no faith in Westminster acting in Scotland’s best interests in directing the recovery from the effects of Covid, but now we must wait until the recovery is over before even thinking about independence. Am I the only one that sees the inconsistency between these two viewpoints?

As the Scottish Government sits on its collective backside, too feart to act or too disinterested in independence to be bothered, what about the organisation that they repeatedly tell us is our biggest opponent, the UK/English government. Have Westminster decided to set everything else aside until the Covid crisis is over? The answer, of course, is no. Unlike the Scottish Government, the UK/English Government seem to be able the think about more than one think at a time. I always thought that, as women claim to be able to multitask, and with more women in the Scottish Cabinet, working on several projects at the same time would have been easy. Apparently not.

So what have the UK/English Government been doing at the same time as threatening us with herd immunity and untold Brexit disasters? Have they been ignoring Scottish independence, just like the Scottish Government? Have they f**k. Here is some information about four acts/bills currently being considered by Westminster. and what they might mean for Scotland.

The Covert Human Intelligence Act

makes it legal for huge numbers of state “actors” like the police, army, intelligence services and many others to commit crimes in the execution of their duties, if authorised to do so. As it’s an act, it’s already been passed into law. You can read full details of the Act here.

Who can authorise the “legal” commission of crimes, I hear you ask. Well, here’s the list taken directly from the Act.

Any police force.
The National Crime Agency.
The Serious Fraud Office.
Any of the intelligence services.
Any of Her Majesty’s forces.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
The Department of Health and Social Care.
The Home Office.
The Ministry of Justice.
The Competition and Markets Authority.
The Environment Agency.
The Financial Conduct Authority.
The Food Standards Agency.
The Gambling Commission.

On examination, I thought, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you thought, who have they missed out? Which organisation is NOT able to authorise people working for them to commit criminal acts to further the interests of the state?

They tell us that criminal conduct authorisation will be required if it is necessary to commit a crime which is:

(a) in the interests of national security;
(b) for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime or of preventing disorder; or
(c) in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom.

Note particularly the third area. There are innumerable actions you could take that would impact the economic well-being of the United Kingdom. You could, for instance, call a strike or suggest an increase in tax for the well off. You could support a wages increase for NHS workers or suggest a pay freeze for MPs. Or worst of all, you could support the separation of one part of the United Kingdom from the rest, or independence as it is otherwise known. Allegedly, Scottish independence would have a huge impact on the UK’s economy. Does that mean that anyone who does or says anything to further the cause of Scottish independence is likely to be targeted? Is this just legalising what they would have done anyway?

So the Act tells you who can authorise the commission of criminal acts. The Act outlines the justification required to justify such authorisation. Note I said outlines, as the Act is not really specific about why a criminal act should be committed. But there is one thing missing in the Act. It doesn’t tell you what types of crimes can be authorised. By expressing no limits in the documentation, it means there are no limits. Breaking and entering, theft, fraud, blackmail, or even acts of violence, up to and including murder. Before you reject this as fanciful, consider why acts of violence are not excluded in the Act. What is not prohibited will be justified, especially if other means have failed.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

which, among many other provisions, extends the rights of authorised persons (there’s this authorisation again) to extract (is that the same as steal?) data from private electronic devices. It also gives the police the power to restrict public protest on the basis that it might inconvenience or upset anyone in the vicinity of the protest. It could (I think they mean will) be used by the state to prevent effective demonstrations and other expressions of dissent. You can read more details about the bill here.

  • The bill will enable the police to impose conditions such as start and finish times and maximum noise levels on static protests similar to those already available for marches.
  • The bill will broaden the range of circumstances in which the police can impose conditions on protests, including a single person protest, to include where noise may cause a significant impact on those in the vicinity or serious disruption to the running of an organisation.
  • The bill will make it easier to prosecute organisers and participants for breaking conditions imposed on a protest.

Of course, these conditions are (deliberately?) left vague, so what exactly constitutes “significant impact” or “serious disruption” will be left for later definition. But who will be responsible for clarifying the conditions? Will it be the courts or the police? Will it be some independent body? No. It will be the responsibility of the Home Secretary, who is currently Priti Patel, if you needed reminding. What are the chances of Priti Patel, or any of her successors, favouring the protesters?

So demonstrations will only be permitted if they don’t inconvenience anyone or if they don’t make too much noise. Remind me what the point of a demonstration is?

WHAT DO WE WANT? SILENCE!
WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW!

I wonder how easy it will be to find someone who will be happy to say they are inconvenienced or upset by a demonstration. Any Tory party member, perhaps?

The Draft Online Safety Bill

which is supposedly intended to thwart Terrorism and Child Sex Abuse (for which plenty of legislation has already been passed), but is more likely to be used to shut down any website or platform whose opinions the government doesn’t like, like those operated by independence bloggers, such as the one you are currently reading, for example. You can read more about the bill (if very keen) here.

You would think no one would disagree with the introduction of further measures against Terrorism or Child Sex Abuse, though earlier attempts to identify and prosecute a ring of important people connected to Westminster and Whitehall who were allegedly involved in child sex abuse were hindered by a lack of cooperation from the government, prosecutors and police. I wonder why.

However, buried in the bill addressing areas which the public would find acceptable, the government are sneaking in measures to silence opposition by making it effectively a criminal offence to disagree with government policy or object to government actions.

The government has been trying for years to limit the effectiveness of on-line sites, such as independent bloggers, to identify flaws in government legislation and point out the dangers inherent in government actions and make the public aware of them. And now they’re having another go. This time the plan is to place a set of rules on all organisations who provide services to allow users to post information that other users can read and all organisations who provide search facilities. Twitter and Facebook and Google come to mind as organisations who fit one of these categories.

There seems to be two possibilities. both equally awful. First, the government may implement a set of rules so onerous that the companies may decide it’s easier just to remove users who post about particular topics. Or second, the government may implement a set of rules specifically barring the companies from accepting posts on particular topics. Or, of course, it may do both. No prizes for guessing Scottish independence might be on the banned list. Remember the rule about the economic well-being of the United Kingdom in the Covert Human Intelligence Act? Would Westminster need another excuse?

The Counter State Threats Bill

seeks to “improve” earlier versions of the Official Secrets Act originally passed in 1911 and amended several times, the latest in 1989. The bill focusses on the alleged improvements to national security, but sneaked into the bill, in the small print, if you will, are some changes that seem more designed to prevent government embarrassment rather than dangers to national security.

The government are unhappy that there have been instances that civil servants, or others with access to embarrassing government restricted information, have sought to release the information to the general public, believing that the public had a right to be aware of certain government actions or proposed actions. Let’s suppose the release of this information will never compromise national security, but will certainly shed light on actions by senior members of the government that these senior members would rather remained secret. This bill seeks to treat anyone who releases such government information, (commonly called a whistle-blower) as well as anyone who distributes the information (commonly called a journalist), as a spy, resulting in the criminalisation of both whistle-blower and journalist, so bringing into the UK laws that are more often associated with Fascist regimes.

Is this bill is designed to make the UK more secure or is designed to reduce government accountability and embarrassment? I don’t think there can be any doubt that it’s the latter.

Scottish Government (In)action

Of course, these pieces of legislation are not the only ones recently passed by Westminster designed to reduce the power of the Scottish Government. The most obvious of these is the Internal Market Act which provides the opportunity for Westminster to override or ignore Holyrood in every aspect of their business. In other words, Westminster can effectively prevent Holyrood from doing anything while allowing it to remain open. Open, but completely impotent. Why have the Scottish Government done nothing about it, except having a few bleating interviews and, of course, sending Ian Blackford to Westminster to say he’s not at all happy. Don’t the SNP leadership care?

So the Scottish Government say they have no time to think about independence because of Covid, though they seem to have loads of time to introduce laws that redefine men as women and laws that seek to destroy freedom of speech in Scotland. Priorities, dear reader, priorities? Their only action to protect Scotland from the effects of these, and other, UK/English government legislation seems to be sending Ian Blackford to Westminster to say he is not happy. Of course, he’s had such stunning success with his previous efforts. Who will ever forget his pièce de résistance “Scotland will not be taken out of the EU against it’s will”. Now, how did that work out?

All of these limitations to our freedom are of course being carried out under the cover of the Covid crisis, with the UK/English government, the Scottish government and the media all conspiring (not another conspiracy?) to keep quiet about the impact of the changes in Scotland, while our First Minister says she can do nothing about any part of it until Covid and its consequences are sorted out completely. To be clear, that’s sorted out completely by Boris Johnson according to the priorities assigned by the UK/English government. Will Scottish requirements be a priority? I don’t think so. Do you?

I’d like to finish with two quotes which I think are relevant.

“Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels.” Laura Vanderkam

“Action expresses priorities.” Mahatma Gandhi

Do you think Nicola Sturgeon would agree with them?

Beat the Censors

Many Facebook sites are increasingly censoring bloggers like myself who are sometimes critical of the actions of the SNP and the Scottish Government. They are attempting to prevent bloggers from getting their message out, so we have to depend on readers sharing the blog posts. If you liked this post or others I have written, please take out a free subscription by clicking the follow button on the home page or on the posts. You will then be notified by email of any new posts on the blog. Thank you.

Determinants of Independence Demographics

This is essential reading for any supporter of independence. Let’s not kid ourselves about what’s happening and where the current SNP policy of gradualism verging towards neverism is taking us. I and others have warned about the dangers of delay, but here is a clear description of why it will be even more difficult to win a second IndyRef. The SNP leadership must be as aware of this as Prof. Alf Baird, so why are they not reacting to the danger. I just hope that this is not the reason for their absolute determination to stick to the 2014 franchise. We really need to start thinking of other ways of gaining our independence.

YOURS FOR SCOTLAND

This is the third paper in the excellent series by Professor Alf Baird. This week the topic is demographics and as you read this paper you will come to realise what a huge and important issue it is…if we ever want to deliver Independence. I believe it makes the need for a fairer and less biased franchise an absolute necessity and priority. Please read and share this article. It is crucial people understand how important this is if we are ever to be successful.

3. Demographics

‘The colonizer is a privileged being and an illegitimately privileged one; that is,anusurper’

(Albert Memmi)

Over the last two centuries some 3-4 million Scots,mostlyworking class, were displaced from Scotland due tothechronic lack of economic opportunitiesprovided for themin their own land,andoftenhelpedto exittheir country of birthbyUKstate‘incentives’(e.g.Empire Settlement Acts).Duringthis periodScotland proportionately ‘lost’ more of its people than any other north-western European country, which suggests the…

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Will our prisons be big enough?

A look into a future Scotland?

ScotDate: 1st July, YOON 20 (Year of our Nicola):

Government Statement begins!

Today the Scottish Government pledges to jail anyone who supports an early independence referendum, anyone who thinks human biology is real, anyone who doesn’t think Nicola Sturgeon is the greatest leader Scotland has ever had and anyone who hasn’t yet contributed to the compulsory all person levy to raise at least £10m for the New Referendum Fighting Fund.

President Nicola Sturgeon stated. “The New Referendum Fighting Fund (NRFF) is to replace and augment the Old Referendum Fighting Fund which is currently showing a balance of £135k, though for some reason the figures are printed in red in my copy. NRFF money will be ring-fenced for independence related activity and will only be spent on activities which, in the opinion of your Government, will further the cause of Scottish independence. I know the rest of you can’t see the numbers for yourselves, but let me assure you that this is a necessary restriction to keep you all safe during this 20th year of the ongoing Covid crisis. The success of your Government’s Covid strategy is shown that there have been no cases for the last 6 years, but for your continued protection, be assured your Government will remain vigilant at all times.”

President Nicola continued. “Our efforts to identify anti-Government subversives continue to bear fruit. Our domestic spy cam initiative has restricted subversive discussions and meetings to toilets in homes and we continue to encourage neighbours to report any suspicious activity to VerySAD, ScotGov (Very Suspicious Activity Department). The success of these initiatives is shown by the identification of 1,642 alleged subversives in the last month alone. These people have been brought before our new Subversive Processing Court, where the changes we have introduced have reduced the time taken to get a guilty verdict. These changes include dispensing with the jury, having Government ministers act as judges, removing the right for subversives to have legal representation and restricting defence statements to 30 seconds. These changes have been so successful that we have a 100% record of gaining guilty verdicts, showing any remaining subversives that their chances of escaping justice are slim. Those found guilty can be sentenced to up to 10 years in a correction unit, but no release will be possible until it is judged that they have abandoned their previous beliefs and can become a useful member of society.”

President Nicola continued. “The ever increasing number of subversives being identified means our prison building program, already at record highs, is to be further expanded by the allocation of an additional £10bn from our generous Westminster budget, bringing the total to £30bn. Our eventual aim is to increase prison capacity to around 2 million. This will unfortunately have an impact on the Government’s other programs, such as Education, Children’s Services and Health, but we judge that the additional prison capacity is necessary to keep our law-abiding population safe, and this must be our priority.”

President Nicola concluded. “To minimise the impact that the large increase in the prison population has on the economy, we will be introducing a number of emergency measures. The first, starting next week, means all road building and maintenance work will be carried out by prison gangs. Prisoners will be paid for their efforts on a piecework basis up to a maximum of £5 per day. Prisoners will be able to spend this money on additional luxuries, such as food and water. Those unable to work through reason of age, infirmity or illness will, unfortunately, just have to suffer the consequences. Other measures will be announced in due course”

Government statement ends

Beat the Censors

Many Facebook sites are increasingly censoring bloggers like myself who are sometimes critical of the actions of the SNP and the Scottish Government. They are attempting to prevent bloggers from getting their message out, so we have to depend on readers sharing the blog posts. If you liked this post or others I haven’t written, please take out a free subscription by clicking the follow button on the home page or on the posts. You will then be notified by email of any new posts on the blog. Thank you.

And then they came for the dissenters

Recent events reminded me of a blog piece I wrote just over two years ago, where I documented some of the evils visited on us by the then May Tory government (you can read it here) and pleaded for the Scottish Government to do something, anything, to get us out of this useless union before it was too late.  Naturally, my pleas, and those of many others, went completely unheeded by Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government.

Since then, things have only got worse, Johnson’s government making May’s look like a model of political integrity, but what hasn’t changed is the lack of any action by the Scottish Government in response to what the UK government are doing.  However, there has been one change in their reaction to the UK Government’s insults.  Not only do the Scottish Government do nothing, they now even say nothing.  Take Johnson’s latest pronouncement that the word ‘Scotland’ be added to the UK civil service list of words never to be used in government documents or correspondence and no mention ever to be made of phrases like ‘the four countries of the union’.  Not a tweet (deliberate pun) from Nicola Sturgeon or any of her ministers at this further attempt by Johnson and the UK government to reduce Scotland to be simply a part of North Britain.

Though I highlighted in my earlier posting what I saw as the danger to the Scottish nation, what I didn’t foresee was the danger to individual Scots who disagreed with the Scottish government or who were simply seen as being a risk to the government’s total control of the message. It now appears that the ruling party will stop at nothing to silence anyone who is the least critical of their actions.

Here are some names you may have heard of.  Alex Salmond, Craig Murray, Dave Llewellyn, Mark Hirst, Marion Millar, Manny Singh and Gary Kelly.  All of them were perceived as a threat to Nicola Sturgeon, the New SNP and the Scottish Government, all of them against whom action was taken by Police Scotland, COPFS (the Scottish prosecutions body) and the SNP led Scottish Government, mainly using made up or grossly exaggerated charges.  All these people found out the hard way that supporting Alex Salmond, supporting Scottish independence or supporting women’s rights was the quick route to the full force of the law being applied against them.

Let’s look at what happened to them.

Alex Salmond trial

You must know about the Alex Salmond case.  Following a failed internal attempt to label him as a sex pest, the Scottish Government (in particular, Leslie Evans and Nicola Sturgeon) referred the case to the COPFS.  Following an exhaustive police investigation interviewing more than 400 women (and costing millions of pounds), no one could be found to make complaints against Salmond except 10 women, all connected to the SNP and/or the Scottish Government.  COPFS eventually proceeded with 13 charges.  Most were so flimsy they wouldn’t have seen the light of day if they hadn’t been against Alex Salmond. Nevertheless the trial went ahead, but to the chagrin of the authorities, Salmond was cleared on all counts.

I’ll mention only one charge, that of attempted rape.  The woman who made the complaint was shown in court not to have been present at the dinner where the alleged incident took place. Despite that, no investigation into possible perjury by this witness was made by Police Scotland or COPFS and no charges have been brought against her.  Is it possible that the exhaustive police investigation could have discovered this flaw in advance of the trial? Perhaps it would have done if the investigation hadn’t just concentrated on trying to strengthen the case against Salmond. Does this seem like a slightly one-sided view of what merits prosecution?

Reporting the defence

Craig Murray’s case is ongoing.  Craig took it upon himself to report on the Alex Salmond criminal trial, but unlike the mainstream press and television, Craig reported the defence case as well as the prosecution.  Those who depended only on the mainstream media for their view of the case were shocked when Salmond was acquitted as they had only heard the prosecution evidence. I say evidence, but most of what the prosecution said was closer to fairytale than evidence. When the defence case was presented, that’s when you were able to see how flimsy the prosecution case was. It’s amazing how you can get a one-sided view of a case when you only hear the one side.

Something had to be done to punish Murray for his temerity in showing up the COPFS for bringing such a flimsy case to court. Bring on jigsaw identification. Jigsaw identification is pretty much the perfect crime.to charge an opponent with. It alleges that something you publish, when taken with any other information already in the public domain, allows a member of the public to identify someone who has been granted anonymity by the court.

But several questions remain. How can anyone know everything that’s already in the public domain about the trial? How can it be certain that it was this specific piece of information that allowed identification of an anonymous person? If several pieces of information have to be taken together to allow identification, how can only one person be charged? And finally, is it simply coincidence that the only person charged is the one who reported all the facts and not one whose reporting was biased and one-sided?

Murray’s trial was held in January, but it took 4 months before the judge, the now infamous Lady Dorian, was able to give a decision. Murray was sentenced to 8 months, a draconian sentence for a crime that had never before attracted anything other than a small fine. She later tried to justify her decision by saying that bloggers should be held to stricter rules than mainstream journalists because they weren’t subject to the same regulation. She then refused Murray leave to appeal, perhaps fearing censure from the Appeal Court for her very biased behaviour during Murray’s trial. Will Murray be jailed?

Reaping the whirlwind

Following complaints from two anonymous people who were also complainants in the Alex Salmond trial (wow! what a coincidence), Mark Hirst was raided by the police at 5am, had all his computer and communication equipment seized and was charged with acting in a “threatening and abusive manner” for using the phrase “reap the whirlwind” in a vlog about the trial of Alex Salmond.  This is a commonly used phrase in journalism meaning serious consequences could follow from something said or done.

No one in the history of journalism has ever been charged, or even warned, for using that phrase.  When the case finally came to court, following a submission from the defence, the Sheriff dismissed the charge as ‘no case to answer’. Does this seem like a slightly one-sided view of what merits prosecution?

I could murder a pint

Dave Llewellyn’s case is very similar to Mark Hirst’s above. A known Alex Salmond supporter, he expressed a critical opinion on his Facebook page about a senior SNP candidate and his wife. Apparently, I’m not allowed to tell you what he said because it might embarrass the police and COPFS. However, the SNP pair chose to interpret his comment as a threat to their safety and contacted the police, who conducted one of their now famous 5am raids, seized all Llewellyn’s computer equipment, handcuffed him and questioned him on a charge of conspiracy to murder. He has now been charged with a lesser offence which is still liable to see him imprisoned if found guilty. Llewellyn’s case comes up in December. Why Police Scotland and the COPFS chose to treat a critical, though commonplace remark as a threat to safety is a bit of a mystery, but when compared with the Mark Hirst case above, seems to follow a pattern. Is this another example of selective prosecution?

Women Won’t Wheesht

Unlike the others, Marion Millar fell foul of the desire, apparently shared by many in the SNP leadership, to modify our understanding of the meaning of the word ‘woman’ to include men wearing a dress.  An organiser of the #WomenWon’tWheesht campaign, she has been subject to huge amounts of abuse on social media, mainly organised by the SNP wokerati.  It is ironic that one of her main abusers (insert your chosen name here) was so upset by one of Marion’s tweets that they (note clever use of non-specific pronoun) felt obliged to report it to the police, describing a photo of a Suffragette ribbon attached to a fence as a noose and the tweet as a threat to their personal safety.

Despite the obviously flimsy accusation, Marion has now been charged under the Malicious Communications Act (MCA), a UK wide law, as the Scottish Government’s own, home-grown Hate Crimes Act is not quite ready for its first public outing.  She faces two charges, but the police have apparently refused to tell her what the second charge is. Marion’s case will be heard in July. None of those who have abused her on social media have been charged with any offence. Does this seem like a slightly one-sided view of what merits prosecution?

Independence Marches

Manni Singh and Gary Kelly were respectively organisers of independence marches in Glasgow and Aberdeen. Both had submitted and had agreed all necessary applications to their local council. The route and the timing of each march was widely publicised in advance and in both cases independence supporters from all over Scotland were expected to attend. Both marches were the subject of last minute changes by the local authority, but both went ahead peacefully.

In the Glasgow case, the local SNP run council insisted on a last minute change of start time from 1330 to 1100, knowing that such an early start time would disrupt existing travel arrangements and would make it impossible for many supporters coming from the North of Scotland to attend. With police co-operation, the march went ahead as originally planned, with no problems reported, but subsequently, the SNP council pushed the police into charging Singh with holding a march which didn’t adhere to the conditions imposed by the local authority. At his trial, he was sentenced to 72 days in jail.

Why would the Glasgow SNP council want to limit the numbers on an independence march? Well, I suppose that’s a question for them, but I wonder if the council’s close relationship to Nicola Sturgeon gives any clue to the answer.

In the Aberdeen case, a last minute change of route was imposed by the council. The march went ahead using the new route, with no problems reported, but subsequently, Kelly was charged with not having a Temporary Traffic Management order in place and not having proper public liability insurance. Whether these issues are connected to the change of route is not known. Kelly’s case comes up in November, more than two years after the march.

The comparison between the treatment of the independence marches and the treatment of Rangers FC fans marching to George Square from Ibrox, complete with a police escort, just so they could ‘celebrate’ by trashing the place and fighting with each other is bizarre. Does this seem like a slightly one-sided view of what merits prosecution?

What links them all?

The relationship between all of these people is they were a threat to the SNP. They all disagreed with some aspect of SNP policy and it seems that the reaction of the party was to eliminate them as opponents. As the SNP were unable to win the arguments through force of logic, they attempted to win through force of law.

Of course, being the state, the authorities have an enormous financial advantage. They have virtually unlimited resources at their disposal. None of the complainants and none of the police or legal personnel are at any risk financially, but those they take action against face jail if they lose and bankruptcy even if they win. The whole cost of defence falls on the defendant, which is why many have resorted to crowdfunding to support their case.

However, there are questions that need to be answered about how SNP annoyance gets translated into action taken by the Scottish Government, by Police Scotland and by the COPFS? What precisely is the relationship between the party, the government, the police and the prosecuting authority? How come, when the party is threatened with embarrassment, the state authorities ride to the rescue and how come it doesn’t seem to happen the other way round? Is there not supposed to be a rule that prevents state authorities working on behalf of one political party? Are state authorities not supposed to be independent and unbiased?

Whether we’re talking about women’s rights or independence, the Scottish Government have found it increasingly difficult to kill the counter message coming from those opposed to SNP policy and so, because they can’t kill the message, they have resorted to trying to kill the messenger. (Note that no physical violence is implied by this statement). Be careful what you say or it may be you that the authorities are coming for next.

Beat the censorship
Continue reading “And then they came for the dissenters”

We’re no awa tae bide awa

This has been a bad week.  My birthday was last Saturday and, with the improvement in the Covid rules, there was the promise of some contact with my elder son, daughter in law and their children for the first time in months.  But then it all went wrong.  That was they day when all hopes of independence seemed to die.  The election results were announced and the new parliament was just like the old parliament, an SNP/Green combination which, since 2016, has done so much to prevent independence ever having a chance.  Was it the day for your life’s dream to go up in smoke, or down the plughole, or get kicked so far into the future that you can’t see it any more?  And maybe never to see it again?

I suppose I’ve really known for some time, at least since 2015, that the chances of independence happening in my lifetime were becoming slimmer, but I clung on to my few remaining hopes, hoping against hope that things would change, that suddenly I would wake up and realise that it was the last 6 years that were all just a bad dream, that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP weren’t going to kick independence into the long grass, that a date would be fixed for IndyRef2.

But that’s not the way it was.  The dream was independence, but the reality was Nicola Sturgeon.

Isn’t it always the same when you wake up from a dream.  For a few seconds, you may think it’s all real, but then you realise you’re not in Freedom Square waving your saltire and hugging everyone in hugging distance, you’re still in bed and the depression you went to bed with the previous night has not gone away.

It’s amazing how dreams can let you down, because dreams are rarely anything like reality, and this dream is just about as far from reality as it could go.

I remember the excitement of 18th September, 2014.  Canvassing had gone really well.  I was certain we were in the lead and I went to the count full of optimism.  Everything changed as the results started to come in.  The outcome was made even worse by the decision of Alex Salmond to step down.  The one positive was the election of Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister and party leader.  She had taken a major part in the campaign and we all expected her to carry on from where Alex Salmond left off.  Surely we could build on the result and next time there would be no mistake.  Next time we would win.

Unfortunately, 2015 was not the start of something good: it was end of something good, because it’s all gone downhill from there.  I won’t bore you with all that’s happened since then, except to remind you of two things: Thatcher’s comment “All the SNP need to do to achieve independence is to deliver a majority of MPs to Westminster” and the 2015 UK general election result: SNP 56 MPs, Labour 1 MP, LibDem 1 MP, Tory 1 MP.  The first of many mandates ignored.

I used to think Sturgeon’s refusal to call a referendum was down to fear of losing, but now I’m not so sure.  Perhaps she doesn’t believe in herself.  Perhaps it’s fear of being found out.  They say a great leader surrounds him or herself with the best people and develops their own successor.  Look at Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.  Sturgeon’s idea of the best people is those who will never disagree with her.  Her idea of developing a successor is picking someone who has no ideas other than those she tells them to have.  Perhaps that’s why Angus Robertson seems to be the favourite.  A man who can be certain to do what he’s told. 

Perhaps Nicola Sturgeon’s knowledge that she would never have gained her current position without Salmond is partly responsible for her hatred of him today.  Her success is not of her own making.  She didn’t become First Minister because of her own abilities, but because of his.  But maybe even Sturgeon herself doesn’t realise the truth.

So, what should happen after the election?  Is it time for me and others to give up on all this independence lark, declare Nicola Sturgeon and the current SNP the winners, knowing that it probably means independence delayed for at least a decade, maybe longer, maybe for ever, retire to spend my remaining years watching TV with my cosy slippers and cup of cocoa?  Just do a Pete Wishart?

Hell no, as the Americans would say.  What was the quote from the Declaration of Arbroath?

“As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself”.

It still applies today, except you might want to replace “brought under English rule” with “kept under British State rule” to bring it right up to date.

Well, there are more than 100 of us remaining.  More than 100 who still want to fight to see Scotland as it always should have been, a free and independent country, even if the SNP, or more specifically, the leadership of the SNP, seem to have lost their taste for the fight.  More than 100 who know Scotland can only be a better place when not controlled by an increasingly corrupt, right wing, fascist British State, determined to take without giving and determined to cut Scotland off from the rest of the world.

We are not going away.  We will never give up.

POLITICAL TRIALS DISGRACE SCOTLAND

Are we now in the position that any independence supporter is now fair game for politically motivated prosecution. Do we now depend on people from other parts of the world to highlight the disgusting state of justice in Scotland.

YOURS FOR SCOTLAND

For Immediate Release – Tuesday 11th May, 2021 – 10am, Edinburgh.
Attn: News Desks, international

GLOBAL FIGURES RALLY IN SUPPORT OF JAILED FORMER UK AMBASSADOR AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST

Professor Noam Chomsky and award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger have spoken out (Tuesday) against a prison sentence imposed on the human rights activist and former UK diplomat Craig Murray.

Mr Murray was sentenced to eight months imprisonment at the High Court in Edinburgh (Scotland) today after being convicted of Contempt of Court over his reporting of the previous trial of the former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, in 2020.

The High Court ruled that Mr Murray’s coverage of the Salmond trial led to so-called “jigsaw identification” of complainers who made allegations against the former First Minister. A jury acquitted Mr Salmond on all charges on 23rd March 2020.

It is believed to be the first instance in Scottish…

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And then there were none

The results are in and the big hope for Scottish Independence, the Alba Party, got no seats.

Before the election, there was much optimism, but if the result went to prove anything, it showed that a six week old party, with no exposure to anyone not on social media, constantly being smeared by members of the ruling party in the press and on television, while hardly being given the opportunity to state their case was really struggling to achieve anything.

You couldn’t say it was a surprise that the SNP was really pissed off with the appearance of another independence party, especially one led by someone Nicola Sturgeon is absolutely terrified of, someone whom she’s been trying to discredit for several years. I would like to say unsuccessfully, but I think the result shows the opposite to be true. We’ve been denied the excitement of FM questions with Nicola Sturgeon vs Alex Salmond. However, I suspect Nicola may have been less excited by the prospect than we were.

But why? Why does she hate Alex Salmond? Did it all start when Alex told her to get a move on with independence preparations and that her husband shouldn’t be CEO of the party. Or was it when she thought he might try to re-enter politics and the support he would certainly get might impact on her own popularity. Or was it because he might disagree with some of her policies and, as we all know, Nicola doesn’t handle disagreement very well, as the number of ex-members of the party will demonstrate.

Was Alex Salmond the sole reason she hated the Alba Party? Or was it because so many of its members were ex-SNP and that so many of them had left the SNP of their own accord. Perhaps Nicola can’t take people making their own decisions? Nobody should be able to leave the party without being sacked by Nicola as it reflects badly on her if members are seen to leave because they disagree with her policies.

Whatever the reason, every interview Nicola Sturgeon gave contained at least one smear of Alex Salmond and describing Alba as “gaming the system” As if using the rules to stand candidates only on the list, just as several other parties were doing and have done ever since the start of the Scottish Parliament. All the Nicola fanboys and fangirls also pitched in, happy to describe members of the Alba Party as transphobes, misogynists, racists, misandrists, and any other big words they could think of. SNP members who were accepted while in the party instantly became the embodiment of evil after they left.

So what comes now. Will everyone become besties after the election. Certainly doesn’t look likely. The initial reaction of many SNP members was to rejoice at Alba’s lack of success. Ignoring the fact that over a million SNP list votes achieved only 2 MSPs and once again, in 6 of the 8 regions, more than three quarters of a million votes achieved absolutely nothing. Well, absolutely nothing but shutting out Alba and leaving the SNP as the only allegedly independence supporting party.

Another reaction by several SNP members was much more interesting. The famously looney Kirsty Blackman tweeted

Kirsty Blackman
@KirstySNP
Alba and their policies have been emphatically rejected. They stood on a transphobic platform and hardly anyone voted for them. Scotland wants GRA reform. We must deliver.

To translate, ‘they stood on a transphobic platform’ means they stood for women’s rights. But she was not alone. For many SNP members, people voting for the SNP were not voting for independence, but were voting for GRA reform. Who knew? Well, I did and I wasn’t going to have anything to do with what the SNP will do now to reduce women to a sub-class.

Certainly, if there were voters who wanted GRA reform, they are much more likely to be pleased than those voting for independence, as GRA reform is pretty certain to be enacted before the SNP ever get around to thinking about independence. I hope those who voted for the SNP to get independence are not too upset that their vote is taken as support for GRA reform. You may have voted for the biggest change in social engineering in any country in the world (maybe except Canada). Nearly another world first for the Scottish Government?

What could change things? Well, the SNP could drop this GRA reform nonsense, but I don’t see that happening. But even better would be some action being taken on independence. By action, I mean actually doing stuff, not just talking about doing stuff.

Stuff like having a clear plan on what their negotiating position with London is going to be.
Stuff like having a constitution for an independent Scotland.
Stuff like developing the infrastructure to allow Scotland to operate as an independent country, not dependent (eg) on English port facilities for Scottish exports.
Stuff like developing a Scottish central bank.
Stuff like a plan to develop and introduce Scotland’s own currency.

The problem is that, with practically the same SNP/Green majority in the last Scottish Parliament, absolutely nothing was done to advance the cause of independence, so what hopes can we have for this parliament. We can’t wait until IndyRef2 before thinking about this. We need to have our plans in place before it happens.

If the Scottish Government were seen to be making moves to address these and other issues, the mood in the country would change. But only action will drive the change.

Up to you SNP. Are you willing to try?

Independence coming soon?

This election campaign has been characterised by arguments between what we may now call the two main independence parties, SNP and Alba. Anyone mentioning the Greens in this context may be asked to undergo a brain scan to find out if there is one present. Of course, the disputes between independence supporters and the SNP predate the appearance of the Alba Party by several years and have been mainly concerned with the SNP’s apparent lack of progress on independence. Independence always seemed to have taken second place (or should that be third or fourth or ……. ) to Brexit, to gender issues and hate crimes, and now to Covid. There always seems to be something just that little bit more important than independence.

Of course, we know from a freedom of information request that the Scottish Government spent absolutely no time at all in the years between 2015-16 and 2018-19 on preparing the case for independence (that’s none, zero, zilch, sfa) and the very little time spent in the following year produced no tangible results. We also know that the ringfenced money collected from the two SNP IndyRef fundraisers, almost £600,000, has disappeared into the black hole of other spending (did we really pay to keep Alyn Smith out of jail?), though the party leaders are trying to pretend it still exists by reclassifying headquarters payroll spending as IndyRef preparation and therefore part of the £600,000. Wow, what a wheeze!

But believe it or not, there’s one thing the SNP and Alba do agree on. They both say Scotland’s recovery from Brexit and Covid-19 will not be successful unless organised and delivered from Scotland by the Scottish Government and not from London by the Tory UK Government. Unsurprisingly, both parties tell us that the UK Government may not have Scottish interests at the top of their priority list, even if they’re on the priority list at all. Who knew?

We all know that decisions taken by the Tory Government in London will be entirely for the benefit of London and the South East of England, with little regard for their impact on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (or even on other parts of England). Of course that’s why Tories in Scotland are not talking about policies other than no IndyRef (or no democracy as it should properly be called). The policies of the London Tory party are not something the Tories want to talk about in Scotland (the so-called Scottish Tory party is only a branch of the UK Tories and doesn’t have its own policies).

So as both parties agree about what is required, how it can only be achieved by being delivered from Scotland and that can only happen with independence, you would expect both parties to equally keen to start the process of delivering independence as soon as possible. But is that the case?

Alba have said that, if elected, they will immediately bring forward a motion to require the Scottish Government to begin negotiations with Westminster/Whitehall for Scottish independence. Alex Salmond has long believed that the Scottish Government headed by Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t shown the necessary urgency to begin independence discussions and one of Alba’s main aims is to inject that urgency into government thinking.

The SNP, or more particularly Nicola Sturgeon, has decided, if elected, to ignore independence for the first 100 days of of the parliament. It will be on the back burner until she decides that the impact of Covid-19 is over and that means it is unlikely that any serious time will be spent on thinking about independence before 2023 (and I mean thinking, not doing). Given that it is apparently important for recovery to be delivered by Scotland, does that mean she doesn’t believe the recovery will begin until the second half of the parliament? Or is this something else where rhetoric is not matched by actions? She has also said that if Alba bring forward the motion on independence negotiations, she will instruct SNP MSPs to vote against it. Is that the action of a party that wants independence above all else?

I’ve just watched the SNP’s Get Out the Vote rally. Astonishingly, it was all about independence and how so many things are only possible if Scotland is an independent country. Speaker after speaker made the same point. The only note of caution came at the very end when Nicola Sturgeon was interviewed and we learned that independence would only be possible after we are no longer suffering from the effects of the pandemic. Long grass, here we come?

A whole one hour devoted to telling us all about the goodies independence would bring, followed by one minute telling us it won’t happen soon. Oh, well!, such is Scottish politics, SNP style.

One last point. With the election just hours away, everyone is telling you how to vote, so I feel obliged to follow suit. If you want independence and you have a strong enough clothespeg, get it on your nose and vote SNP in the constituency, but be warned, you will need a very strong clothespeg (see below). If you don’t have a strong enough clothespeg, please don’t vote for a Unionist party for obvious reasons and please don’t vote Green, the only party arguably worse than the SNP in their desire to bin women’s rights and raise a whole generation of children destroyed by their dependence on drugs and surgery.

On the list, vote Alba in the hope they get a strong enough representation to make something happen about independence, because it may be our last chance. I firmly believe that the Tories will try to make independence impossible if we wait till the 2026 election, even if there’s a parliament to vote for by then.

Happy voting!!!

Silencing the lamb

We’re less than a week away from the most important poll in Scotland’s history (© Nicola Sturgeon and SNP). Most parties have now produced their manifestos, so those who take the time to read them will have a good idea what they’re proposing should they get into government. But, of course, few folk take the time to read manifestos. They depend on the information they get from the press, television and increasingly, from social media. Though social media may be challenging the press in terms of readership, there is no doubt that most voters will make their decision on who to vote for based on their own prejudices and what they are told by the TV channels.

Because of the impact of television on voters election choices, the terrestrial channels, BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are required to be scrupulously fair in their election coverage. The principle is to ensure that the special impartiality requirements in the Communications Act 2003 and other legislation relating to broadcasting on elections and referendums, are applied at the time of elections and referendums (Ofcom Broadcasting Code: Elections and Referendums). Indeed, the requirement to be free from bias is covered in the BBC Charter and Agreement, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Representation of the People Act 1983 and the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

As you can see, fairness in election broadcasting is so important that it is mentioned in practically all legislation relating to elections. But do these rules apply to all parts of the UK? Or is this just another situation where we can say “except for viewers in Scotland”?

Though the broadcasters have a duty of fairness placed on them during the election period, it is left to the broadcasters themselves to decide what is fair. This allows a certain flexibility in interpretation. For example, in the past, this meant that election panels could consist of representatives of the four main political parties, SNP, Labour, LibDems and Tories. The fact that three of them were unionist supporting parties didn’t seem to breach the “fairness” rules. For years now, the independence supporters have suffered from a lack of representation in political debates. This was democracy as seen though the eyes of the Scottish based unionist broadcasters. Of course, in the interest of democracy, it would have been possible for the leaders of the unionist parties to remind the broadcasters of their duty of fairness, but why wouldn’t they accept the inbuilt advantage handed to them.

In the current election campaign, another party has appeared. They currently have roughly similar membership to the Greens and the LibDems. They have, thanks to defections, representatives in Westminster and in several local authorities. They have put up 32 candidates, 4 in each of the 8 regions, though they are not contesting any of the constituency seats. They are led by, arguably, the most well known politician in Scotland, a former leader of the current party of government, whose current leader tried to get him jailed on sexual charges and who has been bad-mouthing him ever since the not guilty verdict.

Sounds like unmissable television, doesn’t it. You would have expected the broadcasters to have been licking their lips at the thought of it. Salmond vs Sturgeon head-to-head? TV program of the year? Scotland’s biggest audience for a political program?

But for reasons unknown, both BBC Scotland and STV declined to invite Alex Salmond to take part in the leaders debate, leaving us with the question – WHY? Were they frightened of allowing the audience to compare Alex Salmond’s capability to the rest of party leaders. Was it, as some have alleged, because Nicola Sturgeon refused to appear on the same program as Alex Salmond. Who knows? BBC’s alleged reason (excuse?) was that Alba had no MSPs, but those of us who remember back to 2016 will recall the appearance of David Coburn, the know-nothing UKIP MEP at a time when UKIP had no MSPs.

So was there another excuse (reason)? It has become obvious that, as the SNP push independence further and further into the long grass, the BBC Scotland and STV (and the rest of the mainstream media) have become noticeably less hostile to the SNP. There’s fewer and fewer SNP baad stories (replaced most recently by Alba baad). Could it be that the media now see the SNP as less of a danger to the union? Certainly less of a threat than Alba.

In case you think this is the way all television channels in the UK behave, have a quick look at what BBC Wales are doing. In a 90 minute pre-election debate, they have 5 leaders debating for the first hour, joined by another 3 for the last 30 minutes. Apparently only BBC Scotland feels the need to employ censorship. So I suppose “except for viewers in Scotland” is the way to describe the fairness of our media. Perhaps the television companies will introduce a ratings system for political broadcasting, similar to film classification: U(universal) for all programs not involving Alba and 100+ (only for really old adults) if Alba are involved.

What are we to take from this? Is it permissible for the television companies to decide what people and what parties are allowed to put forward their thoughts and ideas to the public? Are BBC Scotland and STV the arbitrars of what political viewpoints are so awful that the public wouldn’t be able to cope with hearing them? Or are they just absolutely determined to take every step to make sure the public can’t be infected with the independence disease? What do you think?

One last thought. Alba are not just taking a lot of stick from the media. They have been subject to almost constant attack by many members of fellow “independence supporting” SNP (and the nasty women-hating Greens), who have accused Alba of every known evil, including responsibility for the drop in support for independence shown in recent opinion polls, while, at the same time, saying no one is paying any attention to them and they’ll get no votes. Shows what happens when you let your hatred get the better of your common sense.

Another last thought. In a recent interview, Nicola Sturgeon said that if Alba were represented in the Scottish Parliament after the election and if they put forward a motion for an immediate start to independence negotiations with Westminster, as they have said in their manifesto they will do, she would instruct SNP MSPs to vote against it. Her view, just like Theresa May before her, is that “now is not the time”. Will she ever believe it’s the right time for independence? Who Knows? However, for me, that’s pretty much the last straw. How could the party of independence have sunk so low that they are prepared to allow Westminster to whittle away the limited powers available to them as a devolved parliament and their only response is do nothing but bleat about it for years and years and ………..

Another other last thought. Having just seen the photos of the new campaign buses and knowing that Nicola Sturgeon has often said she wasn’t keen on the party’s name, I foresee a change of name coming soon, from SNP Scottish National Party to NSP Nicola Sturgeon Party perhaps. Given there is no party name on the buses, it seems like a fair bet.

The SNP, the party that dare not speak its name.

Do they remember when there was trust?

A tale of times gone by and how it’s remembered today.

First, a little bit of history.

Once upon a time, in the dim and distant past, the leaders of a political party were holding a meeting to try to develop their strategy for an upcoming election campaign. They knew they had a large number of supporters they could rely on, approaching 50% of the electorate, but the purpose of the meeting was to try to come up with ideas to increase their support base. They were seeking, not just winning the election, but an overwhelming victory, one that would finally show that they were the dominant political force in the country, without possible challenge from any of their opponents.

One of the leaders spoke up. “We know our most controversial policy is independence, Approximately 50% of the population support the idea and these are the 50% of the electorate who are already likely to support us. To encourage support from the rest of the electorate, we need to place more emphasis other policies; policies which we know they are more likely to agree with. I propose that our campaign focusses on policies that everyone will agree with, such as the expansion of childcare, healthcare and education. That will take media attention away from independence and reduce the risk of losing the votes of those who are really against it.”

A second leader spoke. “But as we are widely known as the party of independence, surely the media and our opponents will still tell the electorate that we are still really pushing for independence and those we want to convince still won’t take the risk of voting for us.”

Now a third leader spoke up. “Surely what we need to do is to state explicitly that a vote for us in this election is not a vote for independence. This won’t affect our core support, who’ll still know we’re the party of independence, but it will neuter the charge from the media and our opponents that our only policy is independence; that despite what we might say, we think of nothing else.

A murmur of approval went up from around the room. “Yeah, that could work”, said one. “Sounds like an idea”, said another. “Let’s go with that” was the consensus in the room and so the campaign strategy was born.

As the campaign progressed, policy papers were issued promising more money for this, an expansion of that, further development of the next thing, all seemingly well received by the electorate. The party leadership were happy. They congratulated each other for their decision to concentrate on everything except independence, justifying that many election leaflets ruled out victory in the election being a catalyst for a future independence campaign. Private opinion polling and focus groups showed that the strategy was being enthusiastically received by those they wanted to attract. They reckoned they were on course for the overwhelming victory they were seeking. Nothing could go wrong.

The day of the election arrived. The polls opened and voters flooded in. Well, flooded was perhaps an exaggeration as early results showed that turnout was lower than in the previous election. Still, it had been raining in many parts of the country.

“Don’t worry”, said the leaders to each other, “it will pick up later. The rain is forecast to stop in the afternoon. There is no need to be concerned.”

As the day progressed, however, turnout stayed stubbornly low, showing no real signs of picking up. Squads of activists were sent out get known supporters out to vote, but the feedback was mixed, even poor in some places, with many activists reporting that supporters were showing a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Some supporters were even saying they didn’t intend to vote.

Now the leaders started to get concerned. Instead of congratulating each other, they started blaming each other as they realised that if the turnouts remained at its current level, they might start losing seats, rather than winning them.

The polls closed, counting began and the results started to come in. Rather than the overwhelming victory they had expected, the results were bad and, as the night wore on, they just got worse. In the end, the party lost almost 40% of their seats to their opponents. It was a disaster, not the expected triumph. An analysis of the turnout figures showed that, although they picked up a few hundreds of additional votes from the people in the target groups, they lost half a million votes from their core support.

It took some time before the truth of the result sunk in. In the previous election, with independence as a main focus, their core supporters were excited by the possibility of independence in the near future, but with independence being taken out of this campaign, many of these voters just couldn’t see the point of making the effort when they believed their vote wouldn’t hasten the independence they wanted, the independence they no longer believed their vote would help bring about. There was even some talk that the party no longer had independence as their main priority, with the most dissolutioned supporters openly saying that independence was no longer a priority at all.

Of course, as most of you will already have realised, what I was describing was what could have been discussions held by the Scottish National Party in 2017, a campaign where any thought of independence was confined to the back burner, where the “I” word was almost never used, except to exclude it from the campaign, and where many candidates’ leaflets actually ruled out independence. “A vote for me is not a vote for independence” was an election slogan for many of the SNP’s candidates, too many, some said, and so it proved.

Though many unionist commentators tried to hail the result as a shift away from Scottish independence, the major change in the election result, compared to the 2015 result, came from the decision of over half a million SNP supporters to stay home, mainly caused by the SNP campaign failing to enthuse pro-independence voters.

This was a lesson to the SNP. They learned that they couldn’t treat independence supporters as certain voters, that they couldn’t take them for granted. They realised that, with no mention of independence in the campaign, the backing of independence supporters couldn’t be guaranteed.

Of course, once they realised what the problem was, they would never do it again, would they? There would be no sense repeating a strategy which had been shown to be such a spectacular failure. Once bitten?

Fast forward to 2021 and the Scottish Parliament election.

Many supporters were already disillusioned by Nicola Sturgeon’s speech on January 31st, 2020, when she cancelled all independence campaigning and preparations, though other actions, including work on GRA reform and the infamous Hate Crimes Bill, were to continue unhindered. To make matters worse, Westminster had no such qualms about continuing their work on Brexit (remember Scotland voted against it?), turning the UK into one of the most isolated countries in the world, perhaps short of North Korea (but there’s still time to achieve another ‘world-beating target’). Neither were Westminster at all concerned about continuing the work on stripping powers from the Scottish Government. The Internal Market Act was the icing on the cake. It provides Westminster with the power to overrule any legislation passed by Holyrood, or to put it more simply, the power to remove any and all differences between Scottish Government policy and UK Government policy. Unfortunately, as with so many things the UK Government do or say, the Scottish Government seem loath to take action, or even argue, against it.

As the election approached, both the new media and the dead tree media were full of comments from both SNP supporters and opponents about the content of the party’s manifesto, stressing the need to include a definite timetable for progress towards independence (supporters) or to exclude any mention of independence altogether (opponents). Many independence supporters were describing this election as the last chance saloon for their continued support of the party. Many were openly asking for the election to be made a plebiscite

The start of the campaign gave no cause for optimism. As election leaflets started to appear, the absence of the word independence became obvious. There was some mention of a referendum, more often than not a ‘legal referendum’ (was that an acceptance of the Section 30 route?) and often accompanied by the phrase ‘after the pandemic’ So far at least, no candidates are repeating the 2017 slogan, ‘a vote for me is not a vote for independence’, but I think that party leaders had decided that saying nothing and allowing voters to assume an intention was better that stating it. Perhaps they remembered that old quotation, It is better to remain silent and risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt, often attributed (misattributed?) to either Abraham Lincoln or Mark Twain.

Then came the big day and the launch of the manifesto. As you would expect, it contains loads of promises and spending commitments which I won’t go into, but what does the manifesto say about independence?

It says

  • Scotland’s future should be decided by the people of Scotland.
  • A draft referendum bill has been published which says an independence referendum should be held in the first half of the next parliament, once the Covid pandemic has passed.
  • To be accepted both at home and abroad, the referendum must be accepted as legitimate and constitutional.
  • If there is a majority for the independence bill after the election, the SNP will negotiate a transfer of power (section 30) to put a referendum beyond legal challenge and in the hands of the Scottish Government.
  • There is no moral or democratic justification for Westminster refusing a transfer of power to hold a referendum.
  • Should the Scottish Parliament pass a referendum bill and Westminster take legal action to overturn the decision, the Scottish Government will strenuously defend their position in court.

Was this just a cut and paste job from previous manifestos? It certainly seems so. There’s nothing there we haven’t heard before. However, I can think of one thing somehow missed compared with the 2016 manifesto. Can you remember what it is? Remember the promise to hold a referendum if the UK Government took Scotland out of the EU against our will.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing in this manifesto which promises such definite action, even if we might find it hard to accept any manifesto promises given what happened (or didn’t happen) before. Is it only me who sees a lack of clarity about when a referendum would actually take place or even a guarantee that a referendum will ever take place?

There are some issues inherent in the current Scottish Government viewpoint which need to be addressed.

  • The end of the pandemic is undefined and the timing is subject to a judgement call by Nicola Sturgeon.
  • The only legitimate referendum is one authorised by the parliament of the country we are seeking to leave.
  • The Scottish Government appears to believe that Westminster won’t be able to sustain their refusal to agree a referendum.
  • Should Westminster go to court to prevent a referendum, the Scottish Government will defend their position, but what happens if Westminster simply says NO and then does nothing.
  • If Westminster refuses to sanction a transfer of power and the Scottish Government goes ahead anyway, what are the plans if unionist controlled councils simply refuse to become involved in referendum planning or if unionist voters refuse to take part.

So the initial signs are not good. It appears the SNP have not heeded the lessons of 2017. It appears they still think they can again campaign for votes in an election while trying to relegate independence to a supporting role. It appears the party of independence have once again shown themselves to be the party of devolution.

Just when all seemed lost and we were to be relegated to taking part in a boring election, with the only decision being whether to vote SNP or not to vote at all, over the hill came the cavalry, waving their blue flags and led by a weel kent face. The appearance of Alba on the scene has made a huge difference to the campaign. Suddenly, those disgusted by the failure of the SNP to advance the independence cause and their desire to concentrate on GRA reform and the (now) Hate Crimes Act had a party closer to their beliefs, a party that really supported independence, a party that supported women’s rights, a party that brought excitement back into the election campaign. Surprisingly, perhaps, the arrival of another independence party wasn’t welcomed by everyone. In particular, one led by Alex Salmond wasn’t welcomed by Nicola Sturgeon. Disappointingly, her comments about Alba always concentrate on her apparent belief that the jury in his trial were completely wrong to clear him. Because of this, she has said she won’t work with Alba if she is First Minister in the new parliament. She has in the past worked with all the Unionist parties. She has worked with the Greens, who don’t really support independence, who are standing against the SNP in 12 constituencies and who are now campaigning to get sex removed from babies birth certificates (apparently they want to call them they-bies). She has even hinted that a coalition with the Greens in the new parliament is possible. But uniquely among all parties likely to be part of the new parliament, she won’t work with the only other independence supporting party. Could it be she doesn’t want the competition?

In a reply to a question during the manifesto briefing, Nicola Sturgeon said that the SNP were re-elected as the party of government in Scotland because the Scottish people trusted them to do their best for Scotland and to deliver on their promises. Trust of the people was what got the party re-elected. I was one of those who placed my trust in Nicola Sturgeon to deliver independence in my lifetime. Well, Nicola, trust is one thing in increasingly short supply at the moment. When you became First Minister, a huge proportion of the Scottish people trusted you to continue the work started by Alex Salmond, to continue the fight for independence, to do whatever was necessary to bring Scottish independence closer. More than six years of inaction has seen that trust eroded, so much so that there are probably as many people in the independence movement now who don’t trust you to bring independence closer as those who do. And the don’t trust numbers are growing.

To quote from Nicola Sturgeon’s presentation of the manifesto, “holding an independence referendum campaign during a pandemic would be a dereliction of duty”. There are many of us, myself included, that think not taking any action to get independence, particularly at a time when the Westminster government are weak, is an even bigger dereliction of her duty to the Scottish people.

What do you think?