I don’t know about anyone else, but the last few weeks have really scunnered me for various, mainly political reasons, so I thought that if I get them off my chest, I’ll feel better. Will it work? We’ll see.
Pete Wishart, the SNP’s longest serving Westminster MP is a great believer that independence will come if we do nothing. He has repeatedly said that all we have to do is sit on our bums (ok, I’m paraphrasing) and allow Scottish voters to see how incompetent the Westminster Government really is. When that happens, people will become desperate for independence. It will just happen. A majority for independence is assured. What he hasn’t told us is the mechanism for converting this anticipated huge level of support for independence into actual independence if the Scottish Government persists with the S30 approach and the English Government continues to say “no”. I recently asked him if he believed the Westminster government’s internal market bill (see below) would improve the chances of gaining independence. I don’t understand how any right-thinking person could believe it can do anything other than damage (perhaps even kill?) our chances, but Pete Wizard (oops) said yes, this bill would help independence. I suspect that had I asked if a UK government policy of killing all Scots first borns to feed starving Londoners post Brexit would help independence, he would have said yes to that as well.
It seems that the SNP have a virus other than Covid-19 to worry about. However, unlike Covid-19, this is a virus that elected and executive members of the party seem keen to catch. The virus instils in sufferers a belief that human biology is an optional extra; that gender should replace sex as a categorisation of individuals; that there are (by some counts) over a hundred genders; that men can become women by the simple expedient of saying I am a woman and putting on a dress; and various other notions too silly to include here. Names such as Mhairi Black, John Nicolson, Fiona Robertson, Alyn Smith and Rhiannon Spear come to mind, though there are many others, including several who believe adult sex with children (or child rape, as it is more correctly called) should be legalised.
The announcement of the UK internal market bill took no one by surprise, except possibly for the scale of change it imposes on the devolved governments. Everyone of an independence inclination should have been pretty worried even before we got the details, but when we found out what the Tories were planning, it’s hard to imagine how it could have been worse. When the bill becomes law, it allows an unelected committee of Tory appointees to recommend striking down any Scottish legislation if they believe (and they will believe) it affects the so-called UK internal market. It also allows the UK government to take as much of the Scottish government’s budget as it likes to directly fund organisations and projects it approves of. How much might that be? 20% in the first year? 40% in the second? How long would it take before Holyrood was left almost nothing, unable to do anything useful, providing Westminster with the perfect excuse to shut it down completely? Boris Johnson has already been quoted as saying that Scottish Government policies are too left wing, such as their overspending on Welfare (or Social Security benefits, as they should more correctly be known) and we know the Tories have been desperate to get rid of devolution ever since it began, so they’ll take any chance they get. Several senior Scottish Government and SNP figures have spoken out against the bill, but, up till now, no action has been taken, or even proposed, to limit the impact of the legislation. So, like Brexit, despite all the criticism, despite all the ‘we’ll make sure this will never happen’ statements, here we are, out of the EU and days away from Westminster passing a law to render Holyrood powerless. But all that apparently deserves no more than a few strong words? My flabber has never been so gasted.
Pretty much the last straw was the leak of texts seemingly written by Peter Murrell, the SNP’s Chief Executive Officer (the boss), to Sue Ruddick, the SNP’s Chief Operating Officer (a junior boss) suggesting they need to come up with other ways to increase the pressure on Alex Salmond, who was already under investigation for the dubious sexual harassment charges being brought by the alphabet women, charges which were later found to be groundless. These messages were written on the same WhatsApp group set up to allow the alphabet women to refine their allegations. There had been suspicions of conspiracy for some time, involving senior SNP figures and Scottish civil servants, with more than a little help from the COPFS and the police, but despite the COPFS’s efforts to bury them, the leak of the messages appeared to confirm the existence of a plot and the involvement of at least Peter Murrell and Sue Ruddick, as well as the alphabet women. Very disappointing for those of us, including myself, who believed the SNP to be a more open and honest party than the English based parties who form the bulk of the opposition in Holyrood. As I write this, more than ten days after the leak of Peter Murrell’s messages, there has been no explanation offered by the SNP. Do the SNP intend to use the Tory method of simply ignoring any criticism until the media moves on to the next scandal and everybody just forgets? It works for the Tories, but I’m not sure if it will work just as well for the SNP, though that £3m bribe the party gave the Scottish(?) press might help to smooth things over.
Finally, and more personally, there is the Covid-19 pandemic. Just when it seemed that things were getting a bit more normal, that there was a chance that I would be able to speak to my grandchildren from a distance of less than 2 metres without wearing a mask, perhaps even give them a hug, even the older ones who are not really into hugging, not grandparents anyway, the numbers started to go in the wrong direction. We had always been threatened with a resurgence of the virus in the winter, but I can’t help thinking that the media have made a contribution to the increase by publicising the English rules alongside the Scottish ones, leading to confusion in people’s minds; that opposition politicians have made a contribution to the increase by constantly undermining the Scottish Government’s message and demanding that they do exactly the same as English government policy; and that some of the public have made a contribution by either wilfully or carelessly or because of the confusion mentioned above ignored the rules. Surely the most ludicrous example of blatantly ignoring the rules is that a number of unionists living in Scotland who have chosen to download the English track and trace app, which won’t work in Scotland (or anywhere else, it seems) because they can’t bring themselves to accept anything produced by the Scottish Government, even if it might save their lives.
So, has it worked I hear you say? Do I feel better for getting all this off my chest and down on paper? Unfortunately, I have to report that it hasn’t worked. Perhaps I’ll have better luck with the next one.