The arrogant and offensive truth twisters

Another from Wee Ginger Dug which expresses what we should all be feeling at the news about Dominic Cummings’ wee trip to take Covid-19 to Durham. There’s an old Roger Whittaker song about Durham with a chorus which goes something like this:
I’m gonna go to Durham Town
I’m gonna go to Durham Town
I’m gonna go to Durham Town
And the complainers won’t get me down

Wee Ginger Dug

truthtwisters
The Prime Minister actually managed to turn up for work today and presented the daily British Government press conference. This is not unconnected to the fact that the only thing that anyone was wanting to hear from the British Government today was that Dominic Cummings had got his jotters for driving a coach and horses to Durham all the way through the lockdown regulations, and none of the spineless wonders in the British Conservative party are brave enough to stand up to Dominic. And neither, it has transpired, is the Prime Minister.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson took to the podium to deliver the news that Dominic Cummings is going nowhere – except Durham. In the process he set a new UK record for the number of people shouting “Oh fuck off” simultaneously at the TV screen as he announced that Dominic Cummings had in his view acted entirely responsibly…

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Could this be the beginning of the end for the SNP as we knew it?

Today (as I write) a group of SNP members, many occupying important positions in the party, are openly boasting that they succeeded in getting Twitter to remove Stuart Campbell’s (Wings over Scotland) accounts.  This was not the first time they have done this.  But Stuart Campbell is a known supporter of Scottish independence, his efforts being arguably responsible for the result in the first referendum being so close.  He is also a known supporter of women’s rights, defending them against attacks by the so-called women with penises.  So why would they do this?  Surely not because of his support for independence, because that is the party’s raison d’etre.  Could it be that the group feel there is something more important than independence?  Could it be that the group believe that no one is allowed to express support for the basic biological fact that women don’t have a penis and that they are determined to silence anyone doing so?  Is the suppression of dissent not characteristic of fascism?

First, let’s think where we came from.

There was a time when everyone knew what the Scottish National Party was all about.  The party were formed to bring together all those with an interest in Scotland becoming an independent country.  Through the years, there were a number of ups and downs, a number of false starts, but everything changed in 2007 when the party, under the leadership of Alex Salmond gained control of the Scottish Executive, which they quickly renamed the Scottish Parliament, giving some advance notice of their intentions.  They wanted Holyrood to be a proper Scottish government, not the glorified county council that Tony Blair expected when he agreed to the devolution referendum in 1997.

The downside of their victory was that they were obliged to think more about running the country than just independence, but much to the surprise of the opposition, they proved to be quite good at it.  In fact, they were so good, that, at the 2011 election, the SNP gained an absolute majority, something that the designers of the electoral system had planned could never happen.  With the absolute majority came the promise of the referendum, a promise which was delivered.  We all know what happened after that, so I won’t go into it any further.

But with that electoral success came a new and extremely troubling development.

A group of strange people joined (I could have said infiltrated) the party.  These people were supporters of trans rights, not in itself a reason for thinking them strange.  However, it was how they demonstrated their support that was troubling.  Using a slogan “trans women are women”, they set out to get the SNP to accept that trans women should be accorded all the rights of biological women, including access to women only spaces, such as women’s toilets and changing rooms and women’s refuges.  Bad enough in itself, the message soon developed into the only real women are trans women.  Anyone expressing the obvious fact that women don’t have a penis would be subject to abuse and sometimes exclusion from groups or even from employment.

The first sign that the woke minority were having an effect on SNP policy came when the Scottish Government introduced a bill to reform the Gender Recognition Act.  Among others, it included proposals to allow self-id, letting men simply state they are women with zero medical intervention and little if any psychological assessment.  In opinion polls, there was a huge majority of both men and women against the proposals, but despite that, the Government carried on.  A public consultation was organised.  We can only guess what the responses were, as no result was ever released, but shortly after the closing date, the bill was shelved, allegedly because of the Coronavirus crisis (an excuse perhaps?).

But you must never underestimate the determination of the woke minority to champion the cause of women haters.  Shortly after the shelving of the GRA Reform Bill, a new bill has been introduced to make it illegal to say something which another person thinks is abusive.  The bill is expressed in such general terms that it only needs one person to say they’re upset by what has been said.  Let me guess what the first case could be.   Could it be someone (or a group of someones) upset that a hairy, muscular penis-bearer is being referred to as a man?  It is worth mentioning that no public consultation is planned for this bill as the Scottish Government say they already have a mandate as opinion polls have shown widespread public support for measures preventing the abuse of minorities.  I doubt very much that the polls asked about hairy, muscular penis-bearers.

So the woke minority have managed to remove Stuart Campbell from Twitter.  How many in the party are pleased that Wings has been excluded?  How many have said he shouldn’t be allowed an opinion?   How many are saying he’s only got himself to blame?  But how many more are going to suffer the same fate?  The woke minority have a list.  Their list includes other members of the party who don’t agree with their definition of women and they have already had a go.  But surprisingly, though the party’s disciplinary committee have taken action against other party members for minor breaches of party rules, often based on complaints from political opponents no action has been taken against any of the woke minority.  They seem to be immune to criticism.  Is that because party bosses are too frightened to act against them, or because they agree with them, or because they are using the woke minority as a convenient vehicle to get rid of some members they don’t like.

History teaches us that those who don’t challenge fascism when it starts can themselves become the targets as it grows stronger.  The SNP have now become a party which supports independence and encourages the suppression of dissent.  How long will it take before the search for independence is watered down and it becomes the party of suppression of dissent only?

Pandemic, pandemonium or politics?

A medieval tale of events that took place in times gone by

Once upon a time, in Wiseland (think about it), a country not far from here, terrible disease-spreading invaders were threatening to enter the country.  It would take a huge concerted effort by the people to resist the invasion.  It was feared that, as people battled against the invading hordes, many might die.  It was known what had happened in other countries they had invaded; the number of people attacked by the invaders; the number of serious injuries; the number of deaths.  The people were fearful of what might happen to them when the invaders arrived.  There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth (for those with a full set of gnashers).

As they were wont to do at times of trouble, the people turned to their ruler, the great King Buffo the Bountiful, for reassurance.  “King Buffo will save us”, they said.  “King Buffo will know what to do”, they said.  “King Buffo will have a plan”, they said.  And indeed, King Buffo did have a plan.

“Do not worry, my children”, said the King, “for you know that no foreign force can be strong enough to defeat our wonderful Wiseland people, for we are the greatest people in the world.  When the invaders arrive, we need have no fear of them, because we will show them who’s boss.  Unlike other weaker countries who have succumbed to the invaders, this can never happen in Wiseland.  We need no assistance or advice from countries who have shown themselves incapable of withstanding an attack by puny invaders.  We will stand alone and show the world how it is done.  Veni. Vidi. Vici” (the King was keen on the classics, though, unfortunately, not very good at them).

The King’s words comforted many in Wiseland, though there were those who were not convinced.  They thought that the king’s plan effectively meant doing nothing: letting the invasion run its course: letting the invader attack individual villages with no plan to get the whole population to work together to resist the invasion.  The King appeared to expect that the people would eventually learn how to better resist the invaders and would then defeat them, but how many would die before that happened.

Many called the King’s plan herd immunity, but surely (they thought) that only worked on cattle.  They believed that the country was ill-prepared for the oncoming battles because it was known that the country’s stocks of personal protection armour (PPA), chain mail, helmets, gauntlets and other items, had been much reduced because the King had diverted much royal funding from the armourers to bail out the money lenders.  It was known that the King had borrowed a great deal of cash from the money lenders to fund the development of his pet project, the Buffobang, what would be the world’s biggest cannon, able to fire 36″ iron projectiles for up to 2000 yards.  With such a weapon, the King believed, he would become the greatest ruler in the world, a position he believed was always rightfully his.

The first skirmishes were relatively small affairs with only a few invaders and only small numbers of casualties, but, as the invaders became bolder, there were more and more attacks, spreading throughout the land, and the number of casualties started mounting up.  These were often non-combatants, because the invader did not respect the status of those it attacked.  Ironically, as the invasion progressed, it turned out that people in Croydon were not worth any more than people in Strathclyde after all.  As the casualties mounted, the people grew more concerned.  How many of them would survive?  How many would be left when that final victory was achieved?  Would there be a final victory at all?

As the attacks affected more and more of the land, the lack of PPA for the fighters on the front line was becoming a more obvious problem.  More and more of the fighters were asking why the King had failed to ensure there were adequate supplies of PPA.  Much of what did get delivered wasn’t fit for purpose.  In one example, supplies of what was supposed to be chain mail turned out to be second hand woollen tunics.

Trust in the King’s plan was ebbing away, not helped by his failure to answer the questions being asked, particularly questions about the absence of PPA.  He was also less seen on the battlefield, more often leaving his senior courtiers in charge while he attended feasts celebrating minor historical deities.  It was rumoured that these events involved more than just eating and drinking and that the King had already fathered a number of unacknowledged offspring.

Then came a serious blow for those who still trusted the King to deliver victory.  A single invader had somehow managed to sneak into the Royal palace at Westminster and had attacked the King, injuring him.  There has always been some dispute about the seriousness of the injury, but, in any event, he was taken to hospital.  Daily bulletins were issued telling of the treatment he was receiving, seemingly for serious injuries, but after only a few days, he was on the mend and was released from hospital.  His remaining supporters hailed this as a miracle, claiming that it proved the King was appointed by God, but others said it only showed how minor the injury must have been.  Serious injury or not, the King took himself off to his summer residence with his current favourite concubine for a spell of “recuperation”.

Despite the King’s absence and despite the obvious weaknesses in the King’s plan (or lack of plan), after about 6 weeks, the tide of battle began to turn.  The front line fighters started to understand the invaders tactics and they were gradually gaining the upper hand.  The invaders were being driven back and the number of Wiseland casualties was decreasing.  Only then did the King reappear, and in a speech tried to claim the victory had come as a result of his plan, but by then not many of the people believed him.  It looked like the beginning of the end for King Buffo.

Despite the odds being stacked against him, could the king survive or would abdication be the only option before he was torn to pieces by a mob of his former supporters?  Only time would tell.

Do you think he will survive?

The lethal ideology of British exceptionalism

A fantastic explanation of our current situation and our government’s pathetic attempts, not to make things better, but to keep us in the dark about what’s going on, or more correctly, about what’s not going on, courtesy of Wee Ginger Dug.

On Friday it was announced that the number of people who died in the UK after being diagnosed with the coronavirus had risen to 980, a number which is greater than the daily total ever reported for Italy or Spain. Yet this figure is misleading. There is a difference in the way in which different parts of the UK report their figures. In Scotland and Wales, the figures given are for all deaths where coronavirus is mentioned on the death certificate. This includes deaths in care homes. The figures for England where the Tories are in charge are however only the number of those who have fallen ill with coronavirus symptoms and who have died in hospitals and whose deaths have been registered in the past 24 hours. The true number of deaths is going to be considerably higher, yet the British government does not seem disposed to let us know what that figure might be.

Possibly this is because the British state doesn’t want us to realise that the UK was badly placed to deal with this disease because of policy decisions taken by successive British governments over the years, because of the privatisation of public services and the lack of funding for social programmes that support good health and full employment. Maybe they’re trying to cover their collective arses because their handling of this crisis was a disaster from the beginning. Maybe it’s because they don’t want to scare us with the possibility that there are many more deaths to come. Maybe it’s a deliberate and cynical attempt to reduce the headline figures in an attempt to disguise the true extent of death toll from us because the herd immunity strategy that was pursued in the early weeks of the crisis has bitten this government on the bum. Maybe it’s due to some issue with the way in which the figures are collated which is perfectly innocent. I don’t know which of these scenarios it may be, or whether there’s some other explanation, and neither do you. This is because the British media doesn’t think it’s a worthwhile line of questioning.

1000 people are dying every day, you’d think that in a normal democracy with a properly functioning media there would be an outrage about that. 144 people have died in the UK due to terrorist attacks since 2000. Even on the UK’s government’s partial figures the number of people who are dying every single day from the covid-19 virus is seven times the number who have died in the UK as a result of terrorism over the past twenty years. It’s Hillsborough, Aberfan, Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, and the Herald of Free Enterprise combined, every single day. Yet the true figure is certainly higher, and the number is set to grow. And every single one of those who add to the number represents a human being, with dreams, with families, with ambitions, with fears, with loves and losses and a life no longer led.

Instead of the sound of a media that’s clamouring for answers with a steely eyed determination to hold the British government to account, there’s the syrupy symphony of sychophancy. The BBC merely parrots Tory propaganda, and promotes rousing messages from Ibris Elba as though it were the North Korean TV channel. Meanwhile the tabloid press has turned into a sickening chorus of fangirlishness for Boris.

We’re getting our intelligence insulted by the likes of today’s front page in The Sun, which helpfully informs us that Boris Johnson’s girlfriend Carrie Symonds has sent him copies of the scans of their unborn baby. And according to The Sun’s chief political editor, Tom Newton-Dunn, Boris Johnson is enjoying watching movies and playing sudoku on his iPad as he lies in his hospital bed recovering from his illness. We’re promised a lot more in tomorrow’s Mail on Sunday about how Boris is spending his time in convalescence – which movies he’s watching, how he’s doing with his sudoku scores. I can hardly wait.  It is all lovely, at least if you define sickening sycophancy as lovely, but it’s not exactly helpful to anything but the self-serving mythos of the liar and charlatan who wormed his way into Number 10 on the basis of made up stories about Brexit.

Cos here’s the thing. You don’t become a hero by virtue of coming down with an infection and surviving it, for all the attempts of the British media to paint Boris Johnson as some sort of martyr for Great British Spirit. The heroes are those who put their own lives on the line in order to treat the tsunami of victims who are overwhelming our health services. A task which is not made any easier by the Boris Johnsons of this world, who have cut public services to the bone in an ideologically driven austerity for which there was never any need.

Some of these deaths could have been prevented if different policy decisions had been made. Some deaths could have been avoided if the British government had followed the example of Germany or South Korea and adopted a rigorous policy of testing and tracing the contacts of those infected. Deaths could be avoided if medical staff had access to the protection equipment that they’re screaming out for. But hey. Boris Johnson is feeling better. Isn’t that lovely.

The reason that the media isn’t holding this woeful government to account is the same reason that the wrong policy decisions were made in the first place. British, or more exactly English, exceptionalism. It’s that exceptionalism which leads British nationalists not to recognise their own nationalism. It is the unshakeable, deep rooted, conviction that British is best, that Britishness is the natural state which is envied by everyone else. It’s a British belief in itself which cannot be nationalist because it’s inherently better. It’s the belief that because within the British state English priorities, politics, and policies effortlessly dominate the other nations of the UK that Britishness has somehow transcended mere nationalism. It is of course a delusion.

The ruling class of the UK is imbued with the unshakeable conviction that the rules and norms which Johnny Foreigner adheres to need not apply to a red blooded Englishman. When you represent a state which has just left the EU because it considers itself unique and different, you’re not going to quibble when the government proposes not to follow World Health Organisation recommendations for tackling the virus.

The English nationalist exceptionalist mindset means that it becomes expected, desired even, that the British state will follow a different model from the rest of the world even though the rest of the world is following a model which is proven, scientifically based, and which works. And it’s taken for granted that the ‘lesser’ nations of the UK will obediently follow Westminster’s example. Exceptionalism is why the British government squandered the lead that the UK had in the early days of the epidemic with its reluctance to introduce the social isolation rules that were already in force elsewhere. Because the British are special. The British are different. The British won’t tolerate the restrictions on their personal liberty that lesser breeds put up with. Exceptionalism is why the British media won’t hold the government to account for it – even though it’s an exceptionalism which kills. British exceptionalism is a lethal ideology.

The British state is however truly exceptional in one area. It’s exceptional in its disregard for its citizens, its lack of concern for the wider good, and its single minded focus on enriching those who are already wealthy. British nationalist exceptionalism is holding Scotland back, not because Scotland could also be exceptional. It’s preventing Scotland from being normal.

For those who want to find out more about Wee Ginger Dug’s blog or read some of his other posts, click here.

Are you one of the herd?

Despite their repeated denials, it’s fairly obvious that the UK Government has been pursuing a strategy of herd immunity, but just not telling us.  Their announced actions, often unbelievable, have been designed to delay implementing another solution, not promoting one.  They don’t care that their excuses have been easily found out, because they were only put forward to waste time, to make herd immunity inevitable.  They can’t be embarrassed and, in any case, they have had another equally unbelievable excuse ready.  It’s a case of ‘if you don’t like this excuse, we have others’.

The World Health Organisation declared coronavirus a global emergency on 31st January, but several weeks passed before the UK Government paid much attention.  In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, the UK Government were quite open about the herd immunity idea. Who can forget Boris Johnson’s “let’s just take it on the chin” comment in one of his early press briefings?  The concept of herd immunity is, of course, one that underpins the use of vaccines.  The more people vaccinated, the fewer will catch the disease, so limiting the spread.  This, after all, was the technique responsible for the elimination of smallpox and the reduction in many other diseases.  What could go wrong?  Surely there’s no difference between a mass vaccination programme and deliberate mass exposure to a virulent disease.  Is there?

The more people catch the virus, the more will develop immunity to it and that will inevitably reduce the spread.  So went the plan.  Of course, there was another aspect to the plan that wasn’t so widely publicised.  As has now become much more obvious, those younger and fitter will likely be less seriously affected by catching the virus.  They’ll have milder symptoms or even none at all.  But those older and less fit and those disabled or suffering serious life limiting illnesses are going to be much more seriously affected if they catch the virus.  Their symptoms will be much more serious.  They could become very ill.  They may die.  But who can forget Dominic Cummings’ reported statement that “what does it matter if a few pensioners die”.

But is the UK Government really adopting a strategy which could cause the unnecessary deaths of thousands, even tens of thousands, of people?  Let’s look at the evidence.

Do not resuscitate letters are being given out to many of the elderly or disabled.  This was first revealed when a surgery in Wales sent out letters to many of their patients asking them to sign a do not resuscitate order.  The surgery was forced to apologise, but, subsequently, it was found that other surgeries and care homes were doing the same thing.  Is this just a practical response to the pandemic when medical resources are in short supply or is this an attempt to cull those in our communities who are no longer making enough of a contribution, those who are costing money that the UK  Government could spend better elsewhere, such as on tax cuts to those few rich folk who actually pay tax?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are steps that should be taken by the government of any country affected.  These can be summarised as identify, isolate, contact trace, or, as the Director General of the WHO put it, test, test, test.  The UK Government response was to say that this advice was aimed at poorer countries with less developed health services.  Richer countries with more developed health services didn’t need to test so aggressively.  As a result, in the early stages of the pandemic, little effort was made to introduce any form of mass testing, despite the proven success of such regimes in several Far East countries, particularly South Korea and China.  In fact, nothing much happened until people started to compare the UK’s pathetic efforts against Germany’s: hardly a poor country.  Are these the actions of a government concerned for its people?  Instead of testing, the UK Government have relied on people staying at home and, if they were out, on social distancing, staying at least 2 metres apart at all times.  Was this because they thought this was the best course of action, or was it just a ploy to place the blame for anything going wrong with the Government’s plans on the people and not the Government?

Of course, if you don’t test, you don’t need testing kits, so little effort was made by the UK government to acquire them until they were forced into it by the bad publicity they were getting. They had string of excuses, of course, lack of available supplies, lack of chemical reagents, all shown to be lies by the manufacturers, who inevitably told that the government had not even approached them about supplies. In fact, companies who contacted the UK Government directly were either stalled, or didn’t even get an answer.  Are these the actions of a government concerned for its people?

People who contracted coronavirus and became ill had to be admitted to hospital for treatment, the most serious being admitted to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  Here we see the effects of Tory government policy over the last 10 years, the deliberate underfunding of the Health Service since the Tories came to power in 2010, initially with a little help from their LibDem friends.  To see the full scale of the reduction, look at the chart below, particularly at the difference between the average annual spending increase for the latest decade, from 2010, versus the one before.  The last two decades are post devolution and are for NHS England only, but the Barnett formula ensures Scotland doesn’t escape.  As you can see, the per capita spending increase during the period of Tory government is only just above zero, compared with almost 6% in the previous decade of Labour government.

NHS funding

The result of this reduced funding is an NHS that has fewer reserves of both staff and equipment to cope with the additional requirements.  In terms of staff numbers, let’s look at vacancies in England, most badly affected by the Tory Government cuts. In 2010, the vacancy rate for consultants (doctors and dentists) was 3.5% and this rose to 9.0% in 2019.  In 2010, the vacancy rate for nurses was 2.5% and this rose to 12.3% in the 1st quarter of 2019, reducing slightly in the following two quarters (figures from NHS Digital).  In Scotland, the vacancy rate for consultants in 2010 was 2.9% rising to 7.8% in 2019.  In 2010, the vacancy rate for nurses was 0.8%, rising to 5.0% in 2019 (figures from ISD Scotland).  So the Scottish figures are better, though still showing a rising trend.  Thank goodness NHS Scotland has been better funded by the Scottish Government during this last decade, even though it’s not been completely shielded from the Tory cuts.

What has the UK Government done to overcome the NHS staffing issues?

Despite the large amounts of NHS money being spent on private health providers, little money is being spent on NHS staff.  Only 3 years ago, while Jeremy Hunt was Health Secretary, Tory MPs cheered when a pay rise for nurses (in NHS England) and other public sector workers was voted down.  Gives you an indication of the Tory party’s level of respect for NHS workers in the days BC (Before Coronavirus).  Nurse’s pay in Scotland, funded by the Scottish Government, has been consistently higher than England.

For many years, the NHS has depended on overseas workers to fill the gaps in their staffing.  More than 10% of the total workforce come from abroad, with an even larger proportion of doctors.  Given that, it is astonishing that the UK Government chose to separate the UK from the rest of Europe and introduce rules to significantly limit the numbers coming from abroad.  Why would any sane government do this?  Were they influenced by the largely racist British press, who for years had mounted a never-ending campaign of hate against any and all ‘foreigners’?  Were they influenced by the owners of the press, most of them living abroad (non-doms) and non-taxpayers, but big contributors to the Tory party?  Were they influenced by the fact that hedge funds could make money from the situation, hedge funds also being big Tory donors, and nothing beats money?  Or was it all three?  Was this the action of a government concerned for its people?

What has the UK Government done to overcome the NHS equipment shortages?

Funding, or the lack of it, over the last 10 years has also affected the equipment available to the NHS staff.  Coronavirus has highlighted, in particular, the the lack of ICU beds, the lack of ventilators and the lack of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).  In the days BC, these were considered optional extras by the UK Government.  Three years ago, the UK Government knocked back a proposal to acquire eye protection for frontline NHS staff on the grounds of cost.  It’s that Jeremy Hunt again!!!  His fingerprints are all over the underfunding.  If eye protection had been suggested for MPs to defend them from the frothing on the opposite benches, would cost have been such an issue?

However, with the onset of coronavirus, you would expect that the UK Government would at last see sense and made every effort to correct a situation which threatened to affect a large part of the UK population.  But you’d be wrong.

Take ventilators.   With all European countries affected, the EU organised a joint procurement exercise for ventilators.  Even though they were in the process of leaving the EU, the UK were invited to join.  After initially trying to pretend they didn’t get the email and not bothering to attend meetings, the UK Government finally declined the offer.  They said they could do better, allegedly.  Apparently, Brexit was more important than people’s lives.  Finally, after rejecting or even ignoring several offers from UK companies, the Government placed an order for 10,000 ventilators with Dyson, a company with no ventilators and no experience in their production.  However, Dyson did have one important advantage: they were major contributors to the Tory Party.  Hopefully, the ventilators work, pass the appropriate regulatory tests and arrive in time to help in the current crisis.  They are certainly needed as, recently, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary (no, he’s not related to Tony Hancock, despite many of his TV appearances being a bit funny) admitted that the target of 18,000 ventilators available by the peak of the infection will not be reached, despite the target being a significant reduction from the initial estimate of 30,000.

PPE has been another on-going problem for the UK Government.  Though the government have consistently told us that they have loads of PPE available and that distribution problems were the reason why they weren’t getting through to where they should be, though I’m not sure how difficult it is to hire a couple of vans or get a delivery company to do it for you.  At times, the government even seemed not to understand the level of protection required, surprising considering the number of medical advisers they employ.  The result of their failure to deliver enough of the correct PPE has been that many health workers, especially in hospitals, have been using inadequate protection, causing many to become infected by the patients they are treating.  This has meant that many doctors and nurses have had to stop work to let the infection run its course, but, more seriously, has caused many serious illnesses and even some deaths.  Especially sad has been the number of retired doctors and nurses who have put themselves at risk by returning to help out in the current emergency and have died after contracting coronavirus.

Is it surprising that the NHS have found it difficult to cope with the coronavirus pandemic?  Is there any doubt that UK Government inaction has greatly magnified these difficulties?  What do you think?

J’accuse

What follows is an article written by Craig Murray describing in detail the events leading up to the Alex Salmond trial and the trial itself.  It’s a long read, but definitely worth the time.  Craig is a former UK ambassador and is extremely knowledgeable about the activities of the UK Government.  Those who want to find out more about Craig or look at other articles he has written should go to his web site www.craigmurray.org.uk .

A 22 person team from Police Scotland worked for over a year identifying and interviewing almost 400 hoped-for complainants and witnesses against Alex Salmond. This resulted in nil charges and nil witnesses. Nil. The accusations in court were all fabricated and presented on a government platter to the police by a two prong process. The first prong was the civil service witch hunt presided over by Leslie Evans and already condemned by Scotland’s highest civil court as “unlawful, unfair and tainted by apparent bias”. The second prong was the internal SNP process orchestrated by a group at the very top in SNP HQ and the First Minister’s Private Office. A key figure in the latter was directly accused in court by Alex Salmond himself of having encouraged a significant number of the accusers to fabricate incidents.

The only accusations Police Scotland could take forward were given to them by this process. Their long and expensive trawl outside the tiny closed group of accusers revealed nothing. Let me say that again. Police Scotland’s long and expensive trawl outside the tiny closed group of accusers revealed nothing at all.

Let me give you an example. I have personally read an account by a woman who was contacted by the police and asked to give evidence. She was called in for formal interview by the police. The massive police fishing expedition had turned up the fact that, years ago, Alex Salmond had been seen to kiss this woman in the foyer of a theatre. She was asked if she wished to make a complaint of sexual assault against Alex Salmond. The woman was astonished. She told them she remembered the occasion and Alex, who was a friend, had simply kissed her on the cheeks in greeting. No, of course she did not wish to complain. She felt they were trying to push her to do so.

That is typical of hundreds of interviews in the most extensive and expensive fishing expedition in Scottish police history. That turned up nothing. Zilch. Nada.

What the police did get was eye witness evidence that several of the allegations they had been handed by the closed group were fabricated. Two eye witnesses, for example, appeared in court who had been within six feet of the alleged buttock grab during a Stirling Castle photocall. Both had been watching the photo being taken. Both testified nothing had happened. The police had that evidence. But they ignored it. A more startling example is below.

You may be interested to know the police also spent a great deal of time attempting to substantiate the “incident” at Edinburgh airport that has been so frequently recycled by the mainstream media over years. MI5 also hired a London security consultancy to work on this story. The reason so many resouces were expended is that they were desperate to stand up this claim as the only incident from outside the tiny cabal of Scottish government insiders.

They discovered the actual Edinburgh airport “incident” was that Alex Salmond had made a rather excruciating pun about “killer heels” when the footwear of a female member of staff had set off the security scanner gate. This had been reported as a sexist comment in the context of a much wider dispute about staff conditions. That is it. “Killer heels”. A joke. No charge arose from this particular substantial waste of police time, in which the involvement of MI5 is highly noteworthy.

You will probably know that I too faced politically motivated accusations of sexual misconduct from the state, in my case the FCO, when I blew the whistle on British government collusion in torture and extraordinary rendition. I too was eventually cleared of all charges. When you are facing such charges, there comes a moment when you reveal the evidence to those defending you. They, of course, will not necessarily have presumed your innocence. I recount in Murder in Samarkand this moment in my own case, when after going through all the evidence my representative turned to me and said in some astonishment “You really didn’t do any of this, did you?”. He had been disinclined to believe the British government really was trying to fit me up, until he saw the evidence.

In Alex Salmond’s case, after going through all the evidence, his legal team were utterly bemused as to why it was Alex Salmond who was being prosecuted; rather than the members of the WhatsApp group and senders of the other messages, texts and emails being prosecuted for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. There could not be a plainer conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Not only were members of this very small political grouping orchestrating complaints in the documented communications, they were encouraging their creation.

It is much worse than that. There is plain reference to active and incorrect communication from the SNP hierarchy to Police Scotland and the Crown Office.The reason that Police Scotland and the Procurator Fiscal’s office prosecuted the victim of the conspiracy rather than the conspirators, is that they had themselves been politically hijacked to be part of the fit-up. I fully realise the implications of that statement and I make it with the greatest care. Let me say it again. The reason that Police Scotland and the Procurator Fiscal’s office prosecuted the victim of the conspiracy rather than the conspirators, is that they had themselves been politically hijacked to be part of the fit-up. Just how profound are the ramifications of this case for the Scottish establishment has so far been appreciated by very few people.

Alex Salmond’s counsel, in his summing up for the defence, said that the evidence of collusion and conspiracy in the case “stinks”. It certainly does; and the stench goes an awful long way. A new unionist online meme today is to ask why the accusers would put themselves at risk of prosecution for perjury. The answer is that there is no such risk; the police and prosecutors, the Scottish government including, but not only, as represented by the accusers, have all been part of the same joint enterprise to stitch up Alex Salmond. That is why there is still no investigation into perjury or conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, despite the evidence not just of the trial but of the documents and texts which the judge prevented from being led as “collateral”.

I cannot begin to imagine how evil you have to be to attempt falsely to convict someone of that most vicious, most unforgivable of crimes – rape. But it is impossible to have followed the trial, still more impossible to know the evidence that the judge ruled inadmissible as collateral, without forming the view that this was a deliberate, a most wicked, conspiracy to fit him up on these charges. Furthermore it was a conspiracy that incorporated almost the entire Establishment – a conspiracy that included a corrupt Scottish Government, a corrupt Crown Office, a corrupt Scottish Police and an uniformly corrupt media.

Coverage of the trial was a disgrace. The most salacious accusations of the odious prosecutor were selected and magnified into massive headlines. The defence witnesses were almost totally ignored and unreported. The entire stream of evidence from credible witnesses that disproved the prosecution case in its entirety was simply never presented in the papers, still less on radio and TV. A great deal of that evidence proved that prosecution witnesses were not merely mistaken, but had been deliberately and coldly lying.

Let us consider the lead accusation, that of attempted rape. I want you honestly to consider whether or not this should have been brought before the court.

Woman H claimed that Salmond attempted to rape her after a small dinner with Alex Salmond, an actor (the publication of whose name the court banned), and Ms Samantha Barber, a company director. Salmond gave evidence that the entire story was completely untrue and the woman had not even been there that evening. Samantha Barber gave evidence that she knows woman H well, had been a guest at her wedding reception, and that woman H had phoned and asked her to attend the dinner with the specific explanation she could not be there herself. Indeed, affirmed Ms Barber, woman H definitely was not there. She had given that firm evidence to the police.

Against that, there was a vague statement by the actor that he believed a fourth person had been present, but he described her hair colour as different to woman H, described her as wearing jeans when woman H said she was wearing a dress, and did not say the woman had her arm in a sling – which it was established woman H’s arm was at that time. One arm in a sling would be pretty debilitating in eating and the sort of detail about a fellow diner at a very small dinner party you would likely remember.

Given the very firm statement from Samantha Barber, her friend, that woman H was definitely not there, a number of lawyers and police officers with whom I have discussed this have all been perplexed that the charge was brought at all, with such a strong witness to rebut it, given that the police were relying on an extremely tentative identification from the actor (who did not appear in court to be cross-examined). The truth is, as the jury found, that woman H was not physically there when she said the incident took place. Woman H had lied. More importantly, the evidence available to the police and prosecutor fiscal showed that there was never any realistic prospect of conviction.

So why was the charge brought?

You might also wish to consider this. While the jury was considering its verdict, two members of the jury were removed. Here I know more than I can legally say at present. That might be put together with the chance that somebody was tailing Alex Salmond’s defence counsel and video recording his conversation on a train. If you look at the recording, it is obvious that if it were being taken with a mobile phone, that act of recording would have been very plainly visible to Mr Jackson. It appears far more likely this was done with a concealed device, possibly routed through a mobile phone for purposes of metadata.

I only have definite good source information on MI5 involvement in the attempt to dredge up charges at Edinburgh airport. While I have no direct evidence the juror expulsion or the Jackson tape were underlain by security service surveillance, I am very suspicious given the knowledge that MI5 were engaged in the witch-hunt. Which of course also begs the question that if any of the alleged incidents inside Bute House were true, the state would by now have produced the MI5 or GCHQ/NSA recordings to prove it (claiming they were sourced from elsewhere). Salmond has been considered by them a threat to the UK state for decades, and not only over Scottish Independence.

I also ask you to consider who has been, and who has not been, persecuted. Alex Salmond stood in the dock facing total ruin. The conspirators have faced not even questioning about their collusion.

I have published the only detailed account of the defence case. In consequence not only was I slung out of court by the judge on a motion of the prosecution, and threatened with jail by the Crown Office for contempt of court, the judge also made an order making it illegal to publish the fact that I had been barred from the court, in effect a super injunction. Yet the mainstream media, who published ludicrously selective and salacious extracts from the proceedings designed deliberately to make Salmond appear guilty, have received no threats from the Crown Office. They continue to churn out article after article effectively claiming Salmond is guilty and massively distorting the facts of the case.

One consequence of the extreme media bias is that lies which were told by the prosecution are still being repeated as fact. The lie that a policy and/or practice was put into place to prevent women working alone in the evenings with Alex Salmond, was comprehensively demolished by four separate senior civil service witnesses, one of them a prosecution witness. That was never media reported and the lie is still continually repeated.

It is only the person who published the truth, as agreed by the jury, who faces hostile action from the state.

Because the only thing that was not fixed about this entire affair was the jury. And they may well have contrived to nobble even that with jury expulsion.

We should be very grateful to that jury of solid Edinburgh citizens, two thirds of them female. They were diligent, they did their duty, and they thwarted a great injustice in the midst of a media hanging frenzy that has to have impacted upon them, and probably still does.

I would however state that, up until she inexplicably expelled me from the court, I had found Lady Dorrian’s handling of the trial entirely fair and reasonable. Equally it was a judicial decision in the Court of Session that had found the Scottish Government process against Salmond to be “unlawful, unfair and tainted by apparent bias”.

Which brings me on to the role of the Head of the Scottish Civil Service, Leslie Evans. “We may have lost a battle, but we will win the war”. That is how, in January 2019, Leslie Evans had messaged a colleague the day they lost in the Court of Session. It is an interesting glimpse into the lifestyle of these people that the colleague she messaged was in the Maldives at the time.

It is incredible that after a process Evans claimed in court to have “established” was described as unlawful and unfair by a very senior judge, her first thought was on “winning the war”. That message alone is sufficient to sack Leslie Evans. Is shows that rather than being a civil servant engaged in an effort to administer justly, she was engaged as parti pris in a bitter battle to take down Alex Salmond. She would not even accept the verdict of the Court of Session. It astonishes me, as a former member for six years of the senior civil service myself, that any civil servant could commit themselves in that way to try ruthlessly to take down a former First Minister, with no heed whatsoever either to fair process or to the decision of the courts.

It is quite simply astonishing that Ms Evans has not been sacked.

Well, Leslie Evans did carry on her war. At the cost of many millions to the Scottish taxpayer, she has now lost the battle in both Scotland’s highest civil court and in Scotland’s highest criminal court. The campaign to destroy Salmond has been trounced in both the Court of Session and the High Court. That Leslie Evans is still in post is a national scandal. That Nicola Sturgeon a few weeks ago extended Evans’ tenure by a further two years is an appalling misjudgment.

Evans has a particularly unionist outlook and regards her role as head of the Scottish civil service as equivalent to a departmental permanent secretary of the United Kingdom. Evans spends a great deal of time in London. Unlike her predecessor, who regarded Scotland as separate, Evans regularly attends the weekly “Wednesday Morning Colleagues” (WMC) meeting of Whitehall permanent secretaries, chaired by the Westminster Cabinet Secretary. She much values her position in the UK establishment. What kind of Head of the Scottish Civil Service spends the middle of the week in London?

Rather than any action being taken against the perpetrators of this disgraceful attempt to pervert the course of justice, even after their plot has been roundly rejected in the High Court, the Scottish Government appears to be doubling down in its accusations against Alex Salmond through the medium of the state and corporate media, which is acting in complete unison. It has now been widely briefed against Salmond that Police Scotland has passed a dossier to the Metropolitan Police on four other accusations, set at Westminster.

What the media has not told you is that these accusations are from exactly the same group of conspirators; indeed from some of the actual same accusers. They also do not tell you that these accusations are even weaker than those pursued in Scotland.

In the massive effort to prove “pattern of behaviour” in Alex Salmond’s recent trial, incidents which happened outwith Scottish jurisdiction could be presented as evidence in a separate “docket”. Thus the defence heard evidence from the “Chinese docket” of Salmond “attempting to touch” a colleague’s hair in a hotel lift in China. Well, the London “docket” was considered even weaker than that, so it was not led in the Edinburgh trial. The idea that Leslie Evans’ “war” against Salmond will be won in an English court, having failed in both the civil and criminal Scottish courts, is just black propaganda.

As is the continued campaign to claim that Salmond is really guilty, carried on by Rape Crisis Scotland. They yesterday published a statement by the nine anonymous accusers attacking Salmond further, and rather amusingly the nine wrote together to deny they were associated with each other. It seems to me entirely illegitimate for this group to be able to conduct a continued campaign of political harassment of Alex Salmond from behind the cloak of state-enforced anonymity, after he has been acquitted of all charges. I understand the reasoning behind anonymity for accusers in sex allegations. But surely state backed anonymity should not be used to enable the continued repetition of false accusations without fear of defamation law, after the jury has acquitted? That is perverse.

It is also a fact that Rape Crisis Scotland is just another instrument of the Scottish government, being almost entirely funded by the Scottish government. There is a very serious infringement of public conduct here. One of the nine conspirators, whose statement is being amplified by Rape Crisis Scotland, is personally very directly involved in the channeling of government money to Rape Crisis Scotland. That is a gross abuse of office and conflict of interest and should be a resignation matter. Here again, direct wrongdoing is being carried out from behind the screen of state-backed anonymity.

Let me give you this thought. Alex Salmond having been acquitted, you would think that the unionist media would seek to capitalise by training its guns on those at the head of the SNP who sought to frame him, who after all are still in power. But instead, the unionist media is entirely committed to attacking Salmond, in defiance of all the facts of the case. That shows you who it is the British establishment are really afraid of. It also confirms what I have been saying for years, that the SNP careerist establishment have no genuine interest in Scottish Independence and are not perceived by Whitehall as a threat to the union. And in that judgement at least, Whitehall is right.

I should state that in this article I have, absolutely against my own instincts, deferred to Alex Salmond’s noble but in my view over-generous wish to wait until the Covid-19 virus has passed before giving all the names of those involved and presenting the supporting documents. I have therefore removed several names from this article. Alex Salmond believes that it is wrong to move on this at a time when many people are suffering and grieving, and he has stated that it would indeed be narcissistic to think of his own troubles at this time of wider calamity. I find this extremely upsetting when his enemies are showing absolutely no respect nor restraint whatsoever and are engaged in full-on attack on his reputation. I can assure you this is even more frustrating for me than for you. But while the mills of God grind slowly, they grind exceedingly small.

Those who do not know Scotland are astonished that the Alex Salmond trial and its fallout have not damaged support in the polls for Independence nor even for the SNP. I am not in the least surprised – the reawakening of the national consciousness of the Scottish people is an unstoppable process. If you want to see it, look not at any single politician but at the mass enthusiasm of one of the great, self-organised AUOB marches. The spirit of Independence rides the SNP as the available vehicle to achieve its ends. It is no longer primarily inspired nor controlled by the SNP – indeed the SNP leadership is blatantly trying to dampen it down, with only marginal success. This great movement of a nation is not to be disturbed by fleeting events.

That is not to underplay the importance of events for those caught up in them. As Alex Salmond stood in the dock, he was very probably staring at the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison, of never being with his wife Moira again, and of having his reputation as Scotland’s greatest national leader for centuries erased. The party hierarchy had already overseen the Stalinesque scrubbing of his image and name from all online content under the SNP’s control. The future now looks very different, and I am cheered by the brighter horizon.

Let me finish this article by observing that the British state continues to keep the unconvicted Julian Assange in conditions of appalling detention and receiving brutal personal treatment reserved normally for the most dangerous terrorists. The British state has refused to let Assange out of jail to avert the danger of Covid-19. By contrast the government of Iran has allowed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe out of prison to reduce her danger from the epidemic. Which of these governments is portrayed as evil by the state and corporate media?

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

To woke or not to woke, that is the question

Political parties, especially those in power, can face many problems.  These problems can be caused by circumstances, can be caused by the actions of their political opponents, or can be caused by their own actions.  Often the last of these is the most difficult to overcome, because the party may think they are doing the right thing and they find it very difficult to see the possible harm they are doing both to themselves and others and having set on a course, politically it is difficult to change direction without losing face.

One of these ‘problems of their own making’ is currently facing the Scottish Government.  This is the Gender Recognition Act, or at least, the changes being proposed to it to provide more flexible protection to trans people.

First, a bit of background.  Trans people are able to receive legal recognition of their acquired gender through a process set out in the Gender Recognition Act 2004.  So those individuals who were born as a male, but wanted to live as a female, or those who were born as a female, but wanted to live as a male, were given protection from discrimination under the law.  Few would disagree with that objective.

Current law requires anyone who wishes to transition to go through psychological assessment to confirm a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria and to have lived in their acquired gender for at least two years.  However, many trans people feel that existing laws do not go far enough and are overly complex and time consuming.  As a result of lobbying by several trans activist groups, many financially supported by the Scottish Government, changes have been proposed to the legislation in Scotland.

These changes include:

  • The minimum time period for living in the acquired gender to be reduced from 2 years to 3 months plus 3 months additional reflection time
  • Self Id – trans people can simply state they are living in their acquired gender without need for medical or psychological assessment
  • There is no need for any on-going or planned medical procedure
  • The minimum age for transitioning to be reduced from 18 to 16.

However, many trans women believe that laws should allow them to live their lives as any other woman would.  In particular, they argue that trans women should not be denied access to women only spaces, such as women’s toilets and changing rooms and refuges for women that had been subject to domestic abuse.  This view puts them at odds with the majority of women who are uncomfortable with sharing such facilities with individuals who are physically still male.  Unfortunately, the Scottish Government’s plans don’t attempt to resolve this issue.  Though they talk of preserving women’s safe spaces, there is no definition of what is meant by a woman.  Does it include or exclude trans women?  We simply don’t know.  

The Scottish Government have initiated a public consultation to seek views on their plans, though comments made by Shirley-Ann Somerville seem to suggest that the decision has been made to press ahead with the changes no matter the outcome.  This has brought the arguments into sharp focus in Scotland, but, in many senses, what’s happening here is simply echoing what has happened elsewhere.  Trans activists have often adopted a very aggressive approach to putting across their point of view, often denying the very existence of human biology and sometimes even threatening violence against those outspoken enough to remind them of its existence.  For many trans people, any pro-woman comment will be interpreted as transphobia.

There are some particular aspects of this government initiative that puzzle me.

Firstly, why do the SNP continue to pursue a goal which shows every sign of reducing the support for independence.  There are many women (and men) who will put the preservation of women’s hard-won rights ahead of independence, especially if it’s the kind of independence that doesn’t include real independence for women.  On a practical level, there are a lot more women voters to lose than there are trans voters to gain, so where’s the advantage to the party.  Why, at this time, when independence has “never been closer”, are the SNP determined to follow this path?  Are there now individuals in the party who view the loss of independence as collateral damage on the road to a bright woke future?

Secondly, why are the party not taking disciplinary action against party members who have threatened violence against colleagues who have spoken out in favour of women’s rights?  Why has no disciplinary action taken against party members who have ‘shopped’ colleagues to the media?   There have been occasions in the past when party members have been accused of various transgressions by political opponents, Antisemitism is a favourite, and they have been thrown out of the party based on relatively flimsy evidence.  The phrase “kangaroo court” springs to mind,  but perhaps I’m being unfair to kangaroos.  But now it seems that political opponents don’t need to smear SNP members, because there are people within the party only too happy to do the job for them.

We know that a concerted effort by Trans supporters saw many elected to committee positions, including the Disciplinary Committee, at last year’s National Conference.  That might one reason why some on the committee are not keen to take action against Trans activists.  But why are the rest of the committee going along with this?  Is the threat of being called a transphobe enough to keep the rest of the disciplinary committee in line?  Have we got to the point where we are copying the French Revolution Reign of Terror or the ‘reds under the bed’ McCarthy period in the States?  Is this the SNP Pronoun Wars?  Is it true that the Disciplinary Committee is to be renamed the Committee of Party Safety?  Are party members to be forced to appear before the committee to be asked “Are you or have you ever been a terf?”.

Thirdly, why does anyone think that belief eclipses biology?  Putting on a dress and saying you are a woman doesn’t make you one.  I know it may be boring for some to see it repeated, but women really don’t have XY chromosomes, nor do they have a penis.  Those who are not women don’t have a vagina or a womb.  No matter how hard they try, a man may be able to live as a woman, but cannot become a woman, nor a woman become a man.

Perhaps there’s something that the most aggressive trans activists, you know, the ones who favour killing all TERFs, need to think about.  Women get pregnant and have babies.  Without babies, the human race would die out.  I know there used to be an idea that babies were delivered by storks, but without women, we’d better start breeding a hell of a lot of storks.  And we’d better hope female storks don’t get the same treatment as female humans.

 

 

 

Questions for Question Time

Clearly expressed view of what was so awful about BBCQT last Thursday and how the rest of the BBC’s current affairs output is letting viewers and listeners down.

Wee Ginger Dug

BBCQT
On Friday, the Conservative commentator Toby Young became the latest Brexit supporting Tory to express the wish that Ireland would leave the EU and “rejoin” the UK. Toby Young was roundly mocked on social media for his suggestion. However to be fair, Ireland leaving the EU and becoming a part of the UK again is not an entirely unpopular idea. It is a fact that there are millions of people who yearn for Ireland to leave the EU and become a part of the UK once more. It’s just that they’re all British nationalist Brexiteers living in England. In Ireland itself, the notion is about as popular as a massive plook on a prom night. Besides, Irish people will not unreasonably point out that it’s not really a question of Ireland rejoining the UK because Ireland never exactly joined the UK in the first place, more that it was despoiled…

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Independence – is there no choice?

Firstly, a history lesson.

In the second half of the last century (doesn’t that seem such a long time ago) and the beginning of this one, Scotland voted Labour at every UK general election, because there was no alternative for those hoping for a left leaning government, the sort of government that would be good for ordinary working people. Labour used the fear of right-wing government as their main campaign argument.  Vote Labour to stop the Tories was what they always said.  However, more often than not, even when Scotland voted Labour in large numbers, they didn’t get the government they wanted because English voters had voted Conservative and, because of their much larger numbers, English voters pretty much always got what they wanted.

This was the situation in 2010. Scotland again voted to stop the Tories, giving Labour 41 seats.  Again it was a waste of time, as the Tories, with the help of the LibDems, gained power again in the UK.  However, this time there was going to be a difference.

In 1999, Scotland’s Parliament had been reconvened and after an eight year spell of relatively unsuccessful Labour control with some help from the LibDems (again), the SNP took charge in 2007, leading a minority government.  Perhaps, Labour should have taken more notice of the Holyrood result, because it only got worse in 2011.  An absolute majority for the SNP (this wasn’t supposed to be possible, the whole system was created to prevent it) led to the eventually unsuccessful independence referendum.  But what followed the referendum was an enormous upsurge in popularity for the SNP and the huge increase in membership.

At the next UK election in 2015, Labour went with the same (tired?) strategy of vote for us to stop the Tories, but when the results were announced, the SNP took all but three of the Scottish seats, leaving only one each for Labour, Tories and LibDems.  Thus, in the space of 5 years, a tiny amount of time for such a seismic shift, Labour had been reduced from half a century of dominance in Scotland to irrelevance, a drop of 97.5% in a single election, the biggest fall from grace in UK politics, possibly the biggest in world politics.

So what’s the point of this history lesson, which most of you will already know. What it illustrates is that in Scotland today, it’s possible for political changes to happen very quickly, when a dominant party with a tried and tested strategy which it repeatedly uses in its election campaigning, has a history of not delivering on it.

In Scotland today, the SNP are the dominant party, having won practically every election at every level since 2007, the only blots being the aforementioned 2010 UK election and, of course, the 2014 independence referendum, though the latter was a Yes loss, not just an SNP loss. The SNP are, of course, the party of independence, created for that very purpose in 1934. After a number of false dawns, their move from being just a minor part of the Scottish political scene to their current position began in 2007 as described above.  Their campaigning in each election has always emphasised their commitment to the independence cause, such as last year’s:

“Let’s put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands, and escape from Brexit. Vote SNP on December 12th.”

But recently, despite the apparent level of commitment to independence in pre-election campaigning, many supporters have become increasingly disturbed that winning campaigns haven’t translated into party calls for a fresh independence referendum. In post election speeches, party leaders have emphasised the need for patience, saying that independence wouldn’t be won by rushing before they were ready.

Supporters have separated into two opposing camps, those who follow the party line that independence won’t be won by rushing and those who have concerns that delay, particularly delay until we’re completely out of the EU by the end of this year, could cost us the opportunity by allowing Westminster to change the rules to prevent a referendum (so it’s Delayers vs Rushers).  Unfortunately, discussions between the two sides have often descended into increasingly bitter arguments, with accusations from the delayers that the other side are not real independence supporters and rushers claiming the party were spending too much time on Brexit to the virtual exclusion of independence, threatening to cancel their party membership and find another way to achieve independence.

But, for change to happen, there has to be an alternative.  Labour’s downfall came about because there was another centre-left party (assuming you still think of Labour as centre-left) with a proven record of competence just waiting in the wings.  So we would need an alternative and that alternative would have to be available pretty soon.

So how could change come about?  It has been suggested that we need a new independence party, relegating the SNP to a government role only.  However, those suggesting that should think how long it took for the SNP to become a real political force.  Can we afford to wait 20 years, or even 80 years, for a new party to reach the dizzy heights currently occupied by the SNP.  The same holds true for the suggestion of a list only independence party, which, in any case, would have to be created from scratch in 15 months and would only apply in the Holyrood election.  The history of small independence-supporting parties in the list is not full of success.  Even the Greens, a pretty well-known independence-supporting  party, only won six seats in 2016.

So what should independence supporters do.  My view is that we have no chance of gaining independence without a big political hitter.   We need a large independence-supporting party in Holyrood to be the focus of any future campaign and, at the moment, there is no choice other than the SNP.  Like many, I have reservations about the party’s current strategy and I have serious concerns that the dangers of delaying a referendum till next year, or even later, have not been sufficiently taken into account.  However, until it becomes certain that the party no longer supports independence or there is a clear well-established alternative, I cannot, in all conscience, refuse to support the one party that can bring it about.

To all those SNP members who have quit the party or who are thinking of doing so, to all those Yessers who have said they will no longer support the SNP, think carefully whether what you’re doing is going to bring independence closer.

Were you excited?

What follows is the letter I sent to the National when they requested comments on Nicola’s speech last Friday.   Unfortunately, it didn’t make the cut, perhaps too long or perhaps they already had enough to fill the space by the time they got mine.  However, to put the letter in some sort of context, and before too many of you get annoyed, I should make it clear that I have been a member of the SNP and a supporter of the Yes movement for many years and nothing in Nicola’s speech has changed that.  No tearing up the membership card, no refusal to campaign and definitely no desire to give up on independence, something I’ve wanted for at least 25 years more than Nicola.

I did, however, want to express my disappointment at the content of Nicola’s speech.  Not only was it largely something we had really all heard before, it mainly failed to rouse the activists to get out to have the conversations to get the so-called ‘soft noes’ moving to yes.  Ok, I’ve had lots of folk tell me that the speech wasn’t aimed at people like me: it was aimed at middle Scotland, folk who are cautious, not easily moved from the status quo, and though I can understand that point of view, activists like myself still need encouragement, still need to see things moving forward, still need to believe that we’re not being taken for granted.

There was a load of anticipation about the speech, a lot of it generated by the media and the Yes movement themselves, but the timing, moving it to Brexit day, also contributed.  Unfortunately, Nicola’s speech seemed not to read that mood and this, I feel, was a big factor in the enormous sense of disappointment felt by so many.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s my immediate reaction to the speech.

_________________________________________________________________________________

My reaction to Nicola’s speech on Friday 31st January

I remember all the talk pre and post the December election about how poor Labour were, because they were not able to make progress against possibly the worst Tory governments ever.  Was that because they were the worst Labour opposition ever?

Well, here we have the SNP making little progress on independence when faced with that same useless Tory governments.  Was that because too much time was spent on Brexit and not enough on independence?   Or was it because the SNP’s managerial, passionless approach hasn’t stirred enough enthusiasm in Scottish hearts?

I approached today’s speech with mixed feelings.  I hoped we were to get something to stir the blood, but I feared we would get more of the same.  Unfortunately, it turned out that my fears, rather than my hopes were justified.

Nicola Sturgeon’s speech today focussed on Brexit (again) and how WM couldn’t continue to deny us a section 30.  Well, good luck with that.  Westminster don’t do embarrassment, so trying to embarrass them enough to make them change their minds seems doomed to failure.  Little mention of the people of Scotland being sovereign, a fact she’s made a bit of a song and dance about before, but sovereignty of the people doesn’t fit too well with pleading with Johnson for a section 30.  If the people of Scotland are sovereign, they don’t need a section 30 to prove it.

Go out and campaign, she told us.  Get on to the doorsteps.  Convert the soft noes.  Well, some of us have been doing that since September, 2014 and the polls have barely moved.  But now support for independence is around 50%, I hear many cry.  When we started campaigning for 2014, support was only in the middle twenties and look where we finished, they tell us.  But there is one big difference between then and now.  Then, we were in the middle of a campaign.  Excitement reigned.  People were enthused.  Everyone was talking about it.  The media was full of it, even if much of the coverage was negative.  Now, there isn’t the same level of interest because not much is happening

Nicola suggested patience and many have agreed with her.  However, one final reminder to the ‘let’s wait for support to grow to 60% or whatever mythical level is chosen’ brigade, that waiting is not a risk-free option. The Scottish Parliament we vote for in 2021 may not be what we have today.  It may not even exist.  If Johnson has his way, existing powers will be removed, Holyrood’s budget will be cut and much of the money will go instead to the Scottish Office, or whatever they call themselves now, to be distributed directly to their pals with a big Union Flag on it.  And you can be sure that more money will go to Tory supporting councils, so Westminster can say that Tory managed local government is better than the rubbish ones run by the SNP.

All told, I found Nicola’s speech extremely disappointing, more likely to encourage the unionists and discourage Yes supporters.