Will 2023 be a guid New Year?

Last year, I blogged about what should happen in 2022 to bring independence closer. It’s important to realise that they were not predictions because, if they were, I would have had a pretty poor score. Nostradamus would have little to worry about. For those brave enough to want to imagine what life would be like if these non-predictions came about, you can read the wish list in full here.

In 2021, Sturgeon’s reason (excuse?) for delaying independence was Covid Even though so much was possible during a pandemic, Scottish election, self-id and Hate Crimes, it just wasn’t the right time to progress independence, or even talk about it.

2022 saw a new independence delaying strategy. As the effects of the pandemic faded, meaning it couldn’t be used again, Sturgeon instead referred the concept of an independence referendum to Westminster’s Supreme Court, knowing that a negative response would provide another reason for delay. The Supreme Court obliged by ruling that an independence referendum was outwith the Scottish Parliament’s competence, allowing the promised 2023 referendum to be ditched, without even a real whimper of objection from the Scottish Government.

So much was going to be done in 2022, a new referendum bill, an updated independence prospectus and agreement on the referendum question. What was done was no new bill, three papers on life after independence (widely mocked as useless) and the floated possibility of a three question referendum, including enhanced devolution, which received such overwhelming derision that it hasn’t been mentioned since, though, I suspect, it’s not forgotten.

I suggested that the biggest blockage on the road to independence was Nicola Sturgeon and her leaving would be a big boost for the independence campaign. Given that she didn’t leave and the independence campaign continued to flounder, does that mean I was right? Maybe.

I also suggested that a way to ‘encourage’ the SNP to move on independence was to vote for Alba, ISP or other independence supporting parties instead of the SNP in the local elections. Instead, the SNP got an increased share of the vote and, as a result, took that as confirmation that no movement on independence was necessary. So they did nothing.

So what are my non-predictions for 2023? I still think that Sturgeon’s departure is essential for there to be any movement on independence. Will she go this year? With all her objectives achieved, Hate Crimes, Self-Id GRR and longest serving FM, what’s left to do? I guess only her fear that her work might be undone if she left would keep her in post. Depends how much faith she has in her possible replacements. Given she knows how much she had conned Alex Salmond by 2014 into believing she was the perfect replacement, she could be worried that her potential replacements are similarly conning her.

Without Sturgeon’s departure, it’s hard to see any progress being made. Even with her departure, if she’s replaced by one of the SNP Looney Bunch, most likely Robertson or Smith, then there’s little chance of anything happening. There are no elections planned for 2023 (at the moment) and the chances of the SNP Government resigning to force an election are remote. In fact, more non-existent than remote.

So it’s looking as if 2023 is going to be a pretty fallow year. Unless someone from Salvo or Liberation knows different.

Despite all the depression I’ve tried to spread, I hope you and yours have a happy New Year, and may all your non-political wishes come true. Political wishes? – we can always hope.

Slainte Mhath. Saor Alba.


BEAT THE CENSORS
Many Facebook sites are increasingly censoring bloggers like myself who can be 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 share this and 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.


SALVO
The progress of Salvo has been the most encouraging development of 2022. It is doing sterling work educating Scots about the Claim of Right and spelling out what it means that the Scottish people are sovereign, not any Parliament.

LIBERATION.SCOT
Please register at Liberation.scot and join the mass membership organisation that will be the signatories to our application to the UN, debate and organise a new Scottish Constitution. The membership of Liberation is also where the first members of Scotland’s National Congress will be balloted for selection.

Is it all just a dream?

Imagine the following post summarising the current state of the Scottish independence debate.

There’s an independence referendum coming. Obviously, with less than a year to go, the Scottish Government’s campaign is in full swing. There have been marches through the streets of major Scottish towns and cities, SNP MPs and MSPs at their head, spreading the word, making sure everyone in Scotland knows about the benefits of independence.

The biggest march, so far, has been in Glasgow, with Nicola Sturgeon leading over quarter of a million independence supporters to a rally in Glasgow Green. An even bigger march and rally is planned for Edinburgh, with close to half a million expected on the Meadows to witness the widely rumoured reconciliation between Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, setting aside their differences to work together for independence.

The independence bloggers have all got a new lease of life. Stuart Campbell has unretired Wings over Scotland and has nothing but praise for the actions of the Scottish Government. Many blogs, even including my own poor efforts, are showing a ten-fold increase in traffic, driven by the availability of two independence supporting video channels now being broadcast into every home in Scotland and being watched by millions.

Even the mainstream media are finding it impossible to ignore what’s going on, especially following the decision of Scottish Labour Party members to demand separation from the UK Labour party so Scottish Labour can become a truly Scottish based party. The Scottish Liberal Democrats are soon expected to follow suit. The numbers involved in independence events are so large that the mainstream media, even including BBC Scotland, are forced to report (almost) truthfully on what’s happening, even showing glimpses of the hundreds of onlookers stepping off the pavement to join the marchers. Unionist supporting organisations are finding it hard to get a platform because very few want to listen to what they have to say and they have no evidence to back up their increasingly deranged utterings.

How many of you have been swept up by the colour and noise and excitement of the events? How many of you have now been converted to be strong independence supporters when the true facts were put to you by the Government. Were you a No and are you now a Yes? Will you now be voting for independence? The campaign is being and will be a success. There is no longer any doubt that independence is the settled will of the Scottish people. Scotland will return to being an independent country next year.

But …

Is this true or is it all a figment of my imagination? Is it just wishful thinking on my part? Is it all a dream? Unfortunately, it turns out I’ve woken up to the real nightmare, the real nightmare where nothing described above is happening and where the ‘party of independence’ has leaders who are actively trying to prevent independence. This is the nightmare when the people in whom you put your trust turn out to be no better than those you knew would do everything they could to stop you from succeeding. This is present day Scotland.

However, to end on a lighter note, here’s a few words that Abba could have written to cheer you up and help you through these dark times.

I Have a Dream, a fantasy
To help me through, reality
And my destination, makes it worth the while
Pushin’ through the darkness, it’s just another mile

I believe in Indy
Something good in everything I see
I believe in Indy
When I know the time is right for me
I’ll cross the stream, I Have a Dream

Don’t give up. Keep the faith, folks.

The Gemme’s a bogey? Correction

The gemme’s a bogey if we don’t all make the effort to change the current situation.

No doubt, you may already have seen loads of analysis following the Scottish local elections, now just about three weeks ago as I write.

Well, here’s more.

I’ve looked at the voting figures for this month’s elections and compared them to the last local elections in 2017.

Most of you will have seen that the SNP proportion of first preference votes increased, from 32.3% in 2017 to 34.1% this year. The turnout was lower, 47% in 2017 and 44% this time, that in itself an indictment of our government’s efforts to keep the electorate enthused, but what about number of votes.

The number of SNP first preference votes increased from 620,820 to 636,950. That’s an extra 16,130 voters who, on a reduced turnout, decided that the SNP was the party they wanted to support. At a time when independence options not available in 2017, like Alba and ISP, were on (some of) the ballot papers, and when more and more adverse comments about the government’s current performance are appearing in both mainstream and social media, more people are voting for a party which almost certainly won’t bring independence. Won’t even try. They’re also voting for a party with an increasingly poor reputation for good governance. And don’t tell me that local elections are not about national issues, because we all know that most voters vote for the party, not the individual.

How can you explain that the more obvious it becomes that the SNP doesn’t see independence as a priority (some would go even further than that), the more people are voting for them. How can SNP support increase when so many have seen through their charade around the independence question and are providing the evidence for everyone to see.

I believe that there are two groups of people who now feel able to support the SNP.

Firstly, there may be lots of people in Scotland who are frightened of independence but are too embarrassed to admit it, even to themselves. Their concern about independence may be down to fear of the unknown, fear of losing what they have, be it little or not so little, or just fear of having to stand on their own two feet after years of leaving all the big decisions to their bigger neighbour. I suppose this is a change from several years ago when some independence supporters were too embarrassed to admit their support of what, at the time, seemed like a way out idea.

Secondly, there are those who see themselves as British and want to remain in the United Kingdom, but see the SNP as a better option for the government of Scotland than the English controlled parties, who admittedly, don’t present a very high bar. This is hardly a new group. In the pre-SNP days of Labour majorities, many would vote Labour for Westminster and SNP for Holyrood, thinking they were the best parties for each parliament.

What connects these two groups is that their vote for the SNP is because they know full well that independence will never happen with the current SNP in charge. These additional votes come from people who don’t favour independence, either because of the fear mentioned above or because they still want to remain part of the Union, but they all realise that there is now no danger that the SNP under Sturgeon will ever seek to promote independence. They vote for the SNP because they know in their heart of hearts that the SNP will never deliver independence.

Are there now tens of thousands of voters, maybe even hundreds of thousands if you include the apathetic who didn’t bother to vote this month, who would vote for the SNP because they don’t want change. Voters happy with the illusion that devolution suits Scotland very well. If this has always been the SNP’s plan under Nicola Sturgeon, it has worked out beautifully.

How long can this continue. There may be little we can do about the unionists, despite the SNP telling us to concentrate on convincing the ‘soft Unionist noes’, whoever they are, but is there anything we can do about scared voters? Can we get scared voters to love the idea of independence? The answer to that may be no as well, unless we change the SNP into a party that shows everyone where independence can take us. Impossible? Maybe not. Maybe there is a way.

Well, we’ve heard many independence supporters say that if there’s no referendum in 2023, they won’t support the SNP again. Unfortunately, or fortunately if you’re the SNP, many of these people said a similar thing in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021. Many may actually keep their word and stop supporting the party, but despite the thousands of members deserting the SNP, their votes keep rising, leading me to think that leaving the party and not voting for the party are two unconnected actions, the second not necessarily following from the first.

In 2007, Alex Salmond knew that demonstrating that the Scottish Government could govern competently would encourage more folk to believe that Scottish independence was worth pursuing. And who can say it didn’t work. The period from 2007 to 2014 has been called the Golden Age of SNP government, because most of the advances the SNP boast about today came from that period. The voters saw this as well and their reaction boosted the SNP from minority government in 2007 to a majority in 2011. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option open to us now, as Nicola Sturgeon has taken a diametrically opposite approach, governing so incompetently, encouraging more folk to dismiss the whole idea of independence.

To improve the chance of change, we can always try to replace Sturgeon, though that would be pretty difficult as too many modifications have been made to the party’s internal processes to prevent ordinary members having any say in the running of the party. It’s a more likely possibility that she’ll be nominated for the UN job of her dreams and she’ll just go anyway. Off to pastures new, leaving behind her shattered country as her legacy.

My suggestion is a mass campaign of contacting your local SNP MP/MSP/Councillor telling her/him that you will only be voting for the MP/MSP/Councillor concerned at the next Westminster/Holyrood/Local Authority election if, and only if, the SNP have begun to cooperate with all other pro-independence groups and parties to create an agreed plan to deliver independence and to answer the questions unanswered from 2014, such as borders and currency. Of course, this would only have an impact if they received a whole load of contacts and if the writers were those likely to vote SNP, those, for example, who had voted SNP at the last election. So not Alba members, I suppose.

Would they pay attention? They might if it was going to affect them financially. We must all know that the continuation of their income is probably the only real motivator of today’s elected SNP politicians. If there were enough letters/emails, and they believed their job and therefore their income were threatened, they would pay attention, but it would take action from a large number all over the country, every region, constituency and ward. Just convincing a few MPs/MSPs won’t be enough and they’d be too scared anyway to do anything for fear of getting into Sturgeon’s bad books. There’s safety in numbers.

How many of you really want independence? How many of you are up for telling it as it is? How many of you think the chance of independence is worth a letter/email? How many?


BEAT THE CENSORS
Many Facebook sites are increasingly censoring bloggers like myself who can be 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 share this and 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.

The gemme’s a bogey?

The gemme’s a bogey if we don’t all make the effort to change the current situation.

No doubt, you may already have seen loads of analysis following the Scottish local elections, now just about three weeks ago as I write.

Well, here’s more.

I’ve looked at the voting figures for this month’s elections and compared them to the last local elections in 2017.

Most of you will have seen that the SNP proportion of first preference votes increased, from 32.3% in 2017 to 34.1% this year. The turnout was lower, 47% in 2017 and 44% this time, that in itself an indictment of our government’s efforts to keep the electorate enthused, but what about number of votes.

The number of SNP first preference votes increased from 620,820 to 636,950. That’s an extra 16,130 voters who, on a reduced turnout, decided that the SNP was the party they wanted to support. At a time when independence options not available in 2017, like Alba and ISP, were on (some of) the ballot papers, and when more and more adverse comments about the government’s current performance are appearing in both mainstream and social media, more people are voting for a party which almost certainly won’t bring independence. Won’t even try. They’re also voting for a party with an increasingly poor reputation for good governance. And don’t tell me that local elections are not about national issues, because we all know that most voters vote for the party, not the individual.

How can you explain that the more obvious it becomes that the SNP doesn’t see independence as a priority (some would go even further than that), the more people are voting for them. How can SNP support increase when so many have seen through their charade around the independence question and are providing the evidence for everyone to see.

I believe that there are two groups of people who now feel able to support the SNP.

Firstly, there may be lots of people in Scotland who are frightened of independence but are too embarrassed to admit it, even to themselves. Their concern about independence may be down to fear of the unknown, fear of losing what they have, be it little or not so little, or just fear of having to stand on their own two feet after years of leaving all the big decisions to their bigger neighbour. I suppose this is a change from several years ago when some independence supporters were too embarrassed to admit their support of what, at the time, seemed like a way out idea.

Secondly, there are those who see themselves as British and want to remain in the United Kingdom, but see the SNP as a better option for the government of Scotland than the English controlled parties, who admittedly, don’t present a very high bar. This is hardly a new group. In the pre-SNP days of Labour majorities, many would vote Labour for Westminster and SNP for Holyrood, thinking they were the best parties for each parliament.

What connects these two groups is that their vote for the SNP is because they know full well that independence will never happen with the current SNP in charge. These additional votes come from people who don’t favour independence, either because of the fear mentioned above or because they still want to remain part of the Union, but they all realise that there is now no danger that the SNP under Sturgeon will ever seek to promote independence. They vote for the SNP because they know in their heart of hearts that the SNP will never deliver independence.

Are there now tens of thousands of voters, maybe even hundreds of thousands if you include the apathetic who didn’t bother to vote this month, who would vote for the SNP because they don’t want change. Voters happy with the illusion that devolution suits Scotland very well. If this has always been the SNP’s plan under Nicola Sturgeon, it has worked out beautifully.

How long can this continue. There may be little we can do about the unionists, despite the SNP telling us to concentrate on convincing the ‘soft Unionist noes’, whoever they are, but is there anything we can do about scared voters? Can we get scared voters to love the idea of independence? The answer to that may be no as well, unless we change the SNP into a party that shows everyone where independence can take us. Impossible? Maybe not. Maybe there is a way.

Well, we’ve heard many independence supporters say that if there’s no referendum in 2023, they won’t support the SNP again. Unfortunately, or fortunately if you’re the SNP, many of these people said a similar thing in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021. Many may actually keep their word and stop supporting the party, but despite the thousands of members deserting the SNP, their votes keep rising, leading me to think that leaving the party and not voting for the party are two unconnected actions, the second not necessarily following from the first.

In 2007, Alex Salmond knew that demonstrating that the Scottish Government could govern competently would encourage more folk to believe that Scottish independence was worth pursuing. And who can say it didn’t work. The period from 2007 to 2014 has been called the golden age of SNP government, because most of the advances the SNP boast about today came from that period. The voters saw this as well and their reaction boosted the SNP from minority government in 2007 to a majority in 2011. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option open to us now, as Nicola Sturgeon has taken a diametrically opposite approach, governing so incompetently, encouraging more folk to dismiss the whole idea of independence.

To improve the chance of change, we can always try to replace Sturgeon, though that would be pretty difficult as too many modifications have been made to the party’s internal processes to prevent ordinary members having any say in the running of the party. It’s a more likely possibility that she’ll be nominated for the UN job of her dreams and she’ll just go anyway. Off to pastures new, leaving behind her shattered country as her legacy.

My suggestion is a mass campaign of contacting your local SNP MP/MSP/Councillor telling her/him that you will only be voting for the MP/MSP/Councillor concerned at the next Westminster/Holyrood/Local Authority election if, and only if, the SNP have begun to cooperate with all other pro-independence groups and parties to create an agreed plan to deliver independence and to answer the questions unanswered from 2014, such as borders and currency. Of course, this would only have an impact if they received a whole load of contacts and if the writers were those likely to vote SNP, those, for example, who had voted SNP at the last election. So not Alba members, I suppose.

Would they pay attention? They might if it was going to affect them financially. We must all know that the continuation of their income is probably the only real motivator of today’s elected SNP politicians. If there were enough letters/emails, and they believed their job and therefore their income were threatened, they would pay attention, but it would take action from a large number all over the country, every region, constituency and ward. Just convincing a few MPs/MSPs won’t be enough and they’d be too scared anyway to do anything for fear of getting into Sturgeon’s bad books. There’s safety in numbers.

How many of you really want independence? How many of you are up for telling it as it is? How many of you think the chance of independence is worth a letter/email? How many?


BEAT THE CENSORS
Many Facebook sites are increasingly censoring bloggers like myself who can be 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 share this and 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.

The SNP Walkouts

Remember the time (over 3 years ago now) when the SNP Parliamentary group walked out of the English Parliament (colloquially known as the UK Parliament) when they were effectively refused any time to discuss devolution, as a Tory member spoke for the entire 15 minutes allocated by the speaker? This is a BBC report at the time. Was that the last time when an action showed even the smallest sign of any interest in Scottish affairs?

Certainly, at the moment, the only event that causes SNP members walk out of the chamber is one of the Alba MPs standing to speak. Obviously, the last thing you would expect SNP MPs to be interested in would be the opinion of a fellow independence supporting MP. (Did I just accuse SNP MPs of supporting Scottish independence? Will washing out my mouth with soap and water absolve me of this heinous crime?).

It appears that the SNP have reinvented their own version of the Bain Principal. For those who don’t remember, this was the notion, named after a Labour MP at the time, Willie Bain, that the Labour party in Westminster would automatically ignore any proposal made by the SNP, no matter whether they actually agreed with it or not. Now the SNP in Westminster (with a couple of exceptions) are ignoring anything brought up by the Alba party no matter whether they agree with it or not. Just like the Labour party of 10 years ago, the SNP are allowing their hatred of Alba to define their policy decisions, rather than whether the policy would benefit the people of Scotland. Would that attitude be described as childish, counter-productive or just plain stupid.

But why the hatred? What is there about Alba that means that hatred is almost a condition of SNP membership. Is it (as many in the SNP will say) because of Alex Salmond’s connection with Alba? Alex Salmond, a man the SNP leadership tried so very hard to get found guilty on flimsy and invented charges. Or is it because so many Alba members were once SNP members? Perhaps the SNP should be more concerned about why they left rather than trying to smear them after the fact. Or is it because any success that Alba has will impact on the SNP’s strategy for electoral success, which is being unique, being the only credible allegedly independence supporting party. I say allegedly because, despite all the talk over the last seven years, nothing concrete has been achieved to advance the cause of independence since the coronation of Nicola Sturgeon as leader of the party. NOTHING!!!

Recently, Nicola Sturgeon told us that the only way to gain independence was for all parties to work together. Not surprisingly, few would disagree. One aspect of the first referendum was how all the independence supporting parties and groups worked together. However, the only problem with Nicola Sturgeon’s statement is, though she may have said all parties, it appears she meant only unionist parties, particularly the Labour party.

Why would the independence supporting head of an independence supporting party be so reluctant to talk to other independence supporting parties if a referendum (or other independence action) was on the horizon?

I’ll leave that for readers to decide.

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 share this and 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.

Where are we going to now?

Or actions speak louder than words, Nicola Sturgeon.

On this day (as I write), the 7th anniversary of the day when Scotland was prevented from gaining its independence, I remember the days in the run up to the 2014 referendum, when the hope of many, including myself, was the creation of an independent Scotland which would become a model of democracy and citizen participation: a country which would provide an example to the rest of the world: a country Scots would be proud to call home. We had a government focussed on independence, led by a First Minister who was driving Scotland in the direction most Scots wanted to go, towards an independent future where we would be in control of our own destiny, not depending on our neighbour to make almost all the decisions about how our country is run.

I remember those days and I remember how wonderful it felt believing I was part of the generation that would finally bring us independence after over 300 years of colonial status, subject to the whims of an English parliament more concerned about the prosperity of Southern England and about making the well-off even better off. I remember those days and I also remember the following day when everything took on the dull, grey hue of disappointment.

Of course, in just a few weeks, despite the disappointment of Alex Salmond’s resignation, most independence supporters thought the appointment (or should I say coronation) of Alex Salmond’s deputy and arguably the voice of independence throughout the referendum campaign, Nicola Sturgeon, as First Minister and leader of the SNP would only continue the drive towards independence. What could go wrong?

Well, let’s look at what happened, or what didn’t happen, to take the independence project forward, during Nicola Sturgeon’s seven year tenure.

During the referendum campaign and in its aftermath, several issues arose which would have to be addressed prior to a second referendum or (preferably) another, better process to deliver independence. They included:

  • What currency would Scotland use?
  • How to set up a Scottish Central Bank, essential for a fully functioning economy?
  • The status of the border(s) between Scotland and the rest of the UK?
  • The volume of Scottish exports being shipped via the rest of the UK?
  • The development of port facilities to allow a greater proportion of Scottish exports to be shipped directly from Scotland
  • The development of road and rail infrastructure to support the enhanced port facilities
  • How to introduce a Scottish retirement pension and what level will it be set at?
  • The size and scope of Scottish armed forces?
  • Scottish shipbuilding without orders from the Royal Navy?
  • Scottish Energy Company, announced amid great fanfare at the 2017 SNP conference and promised for the last parliament?

How much time has Nicola Sturgeon’s government spent on addressing, never mind resolving these issues? If your answer is none, then you’ll be pretty close to being correct. Perhaps the biggest fiasco is the Scottish Energy Company, promising cheap energy for all, not delivered in the last parliament as promised, and now not even included in the latest Government plans. Was it always just a wee sop to the masses and never a real intention?

If not the above issues, what have the SNP and the Scottish Government been spending their time on. Well, not surprisingly, I have a list of some of these as well. They include:

  • Brexit. How much time did Nicola Sturgeon spend trying to prevent the English voters getting what the voted for? Imagine the reaction if the English Government spent as much time trying to prevent something the Scots wanted. Oh, of course, they did, didn’t they, in 2014. Who remembers Nicola Sturgeon saying “Scotland will not be dragged out of the EU against our will”. Who remembers “Scotland could hold another independence referendum if forced to leave the EU”. Note the difference in emphasis between the two sentences, “will not” and “could“. As it happens, both promises were ignored,
  • GRA reform, or as it is more commonly known, The Exclusion of Women bill or The Disapperance of the Two Sexes bill, is the Scottish Government plan to invent women with willies,
  • the Hate Crime Act, introduced to prevent any opposition to GRA reform, by making opposition illegal, subject to jail time,
  • the Alex Salmond trials, the SNP’s attempt to exclude any competition for the independence vote by smearing Salmond to prevent him from re-entering politics,
  • the jailing of Craig Murray for having the cheek to report both the prosecution case and the defence case in the Alex Salmond criminal trial, making clear that the prosecution case was so flimsy, you could look through it to see what the Government’s real intention was,
  • the so-called 4 Nations plans, a 4 Nations Covid response which resulted in Scotland having one of the worst records in the world, a 4 Nations Oil plan which would give Westminster even more control over Scottish resources, were Nicola Sturgeon’s ideas for developing the Scottish nation by asking Westminster to make even more decisions for us
  • and the latest fiasco, restrictions on protesting against Government policies close to Holyrood, making use of a Westminster law, presumably to mop up any not caught by the Hate Crime Act.

So, in summary, no time has been spent on updating the indy prospectus, that’s no Scottish Government time in 5 years, no time spent by the NEC, the supposed controlling body of the SNP, though I think everyone knows that the real controlling body of the SNP is the one inhabited by Nicola Stiugeon.

Instead, the majority of Government and Party time was spent doing stuff which brought independence no closer. Just look at the list above. Nothing on that list will help bring about Scottish independence. In fact, arguably, the opposite is true, as all the actions are so devisive, they’re likely the have set independence back for years, perhaps even for generations.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about why independence is important and what independence really means. For me, independence means the confidence to make your own choices, both as an individual and collectively, as a country, knowing what you do matters, knowing that it won’t simply be overturned or ignored by those in another country who really call the shots. I personally think that, in just a few years, Scotland would be unrecognisably better compared to the country it is now. The difference between today’s colonialisation and tomorrow’s independence is vast and is something worth fighting for.

I hope you agree.

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.

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?

Not Guilty or Not Guilty Enough

On Friday, Alex Salmond appeared to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints. I start with a link to the committee’s web site to give everyone the opportunity to read what the remit of the committee is, i.e. what they are charged with investigating. I do this because there is clearly a misunderstanding on the part of many who somehow believe that it’s a replay of Alex Salmond’s trial. That seems to include members of the committee, particularly Alex Cole-Hamilton who had to be warned about five times to stop asking questions about the trial, such as “would you now like to apologise to the women who tried to get you found guilty“. I confess the last bit was an addition I made. Does that make me a bad person? You could also play the archived video copy of Alex Salmond’s appearance, if you’ve got 6 hours to spare. It’s also on the Committee’s website. I’ve watched it and it’s more fun than Netflix, so why not have a go.

There are obviously those who apparently believe that a finding of not guilty by a jury is just the start of a process. They think it is right to tell anyone who will listen that a not guilty verdict just means not guilty enough to be considered criminal. On that basis, social media has been filled with opinions such as, ‘he’s guilty, but he just got away with it‘ and ‘being found not guilty doesn’t mean you didn’t do it‘ and even ‘women who complain of a sex attack should be believed, there should be no need for a trial‘. I confess to a raised eyebrow at the last one. Does that apply to everyone found not guilty of any crime?

It was the jury’s role to examine the evidence presented and decide if they believed the prosecution’s evidence was sufficiently believable. Did they believe that events as described by the prosecution happened as they described? The answer in all cases was no. Note the jury are not asked to speculate on whether completely different events took place. Their job is to decide yes or no, not right or wrong. The right or wrong has already been decided by COPFS before Alex Salmond was prosecuted. If he committed the acts he was charged with, he was wrong and would be found guilty, but that’s not what happened. He was found not guilty, therefore found not to have committed the actions he was charged with. These actions did not happen.

There’s a whole list of people who have made comments casting doubt on the verdict of the jury, recently joined by Nicola Sturgeon, surprising, considering her position as First Minister. She has been quoted as saying “Just because he was found not guilty doesn’t mean the events didn’t happen”. She also claims that remarks don’t cast doubt on the verdict. Unfortunately, the jury’s verdict meant that they didn’t believe that the events did happen, so when Nicola Sturgeon says that “doesn’t mean the events didn’t happen”, she is casing doubt on the verdict So upset were that Faculty of Advocates at the turn of events that they issued a sharply worded statement reminding everyone of the need to respect the rule of law. You can read the full statement here.

Of course, casting doubt on the verdict was not the only insult thrown at Alex Salmond. He was accused of lying, of only appearing to pander to his enormous ego, that he wasn’t able to cope with the success Nicola Sturgeon had made as First Minister, that he couldn’t cope with the SNP being more successful under Nicola Sturgeon than when he was in charge, that he wanted to scupper our chances of independence. Anything other than he was simply telling the truth: the truth he could substantiate with documentary evidence.

Lord Advocate dual roles. One other issue which events of the last few month has brought into sharp focus is the dual roles occupied by the Lord Advocate, as both legal advisor to the Scottish Government and in charge of the prosecution service. While perhaps not a major issue under normal circumstances, when the situation involves the Scottish Government, it’s difficult for his decisions not to be accused of bias.