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
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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.

Nicola Sturgeon – super independence negotiator?

There’s been lots of talk recently (and not just from me) about whether Nicola Sturgeon and elected SNP MPs and MSPs. still have independence as their number one priority or even if it’s on their priority list at all. Unfortunately, recent events have not made this clearer. Despite Sturgeon announcing the date for a second independence referendum on 28th June this year, little if any campaigning has happened, though I have been informed by SNP members who still speak to me that there have been three leaflets available to be delivered, though I can’t find much information about them on either the Scottish Government website or the SNP website, suggesting they may be information already in the public domain being recycled.

At the recent SNP conference, with just 12 months to go before the referendum is due, there were no debates on independence and no motions on the activities planned. It was almost as if the SNP has no intention of taking part in their own referendum.

There’s little comparison between current SNP inactivity and what was happening in September 2013, a year before the first independence referendum. Then, the campaign was gearing up, most Yes (and other) groups had been formed and many conversations and meetings were being held. I even got a “Yes volunteers briefing pack” from Shirley-Anne Somerville, produced before her conversion to deputy assistant Wokemeister. Now, the SNP won’t even discuss an independence strategy at their conference, though they are happy to discuss an unnecessary code of conduct, apparently designed to exclude any group who doesn’t share their views on gender and women with willies.

Of course, there is the (in)famous Building a New Scotland series of papers, promised by Sturgeon to provide all the information Scots need to allow them to make an informed choice about independence. The papers, not sure how many are planned, will be available in 17 different languages (not Scots, obviously). The first two, Independence in the modern world, issued in May, and Renewing Democracy through Independence, issued in June, were roundly criticised for containing no indication how the Government intended to achieve the objectives set out in the papers. But surely, the third, A stronger economy with independence, which was issued last week, was the icing on Sturgeon’s devolution cake. Criticised for its continued adherence to the Growth Commission’s idea of retaining sterling for an indefinite period (who would want to stick with sterling after the last few weeks) and its lack of detail as to how the benefits will be achieved (again), it doesn’t inspire confidence in the SNP’s desire for independence. Indeed, Richard Murphy, who supports Scottish independence, in his review of the document, was driven to say, “I doubt the conviction of those who wrote it about independence” and who can blame him. Read his full statement here in a Twitter thread.

Now let’s think of what happens next if, despite Sturgeon’s best efforts, Scotland achieves independence. With Sturgeon still in position as First Minister, she would lead the negotiations with Westminster to determine the terms under which Scotland would leave the United Kingdom. Obviously, Sturgeon would be determined to get the best deal possible for Scotland, wouldn’t she. Or would she?

Let’s look at some recent examples of her interest in the future of Scotland and the success of Scottish independence.

First, the ScotWind auction.

For years, the SNP have been promoting offshore wind generation as a jewel in Scotland’s resource crown, one of the reasons why an independent Scotland would be so successful. Why then did the ScotWind auction earlier this year place a cap on the maximum amount companies were allowed to bid? What sensible organisation running an auction would decide that no matter how high buyers were prepared to bid, no matter how much companies thought it was worth, a limit would be placed on the amount the seller was prepared to accept. In this case, the maximum bid was set at £100,000 per sq.km., hence the total of £700m raised from an area of 7000 sq.km.

The £100,000 price was a last-minute decision to increase the cap from £10,000 per sq.km. following bids for an 8GW (Gigawatts) area in England raising £875m per annum using a different auction method. To put it another way, given that the areas auctioned would allow the installation of at least 25 GW of wind power, the ScotWind auction represents a price of no more than £28m per Gigawatt.

Was that a fair price? How does it compare with other similar auctions? Coincidentally, at almost the same time as the ScotWind auction, the US government held an auction for areas just off the coast of New York and New Jersey. This was for a much smaller area than the ScotWind auction, supporting only 7 Gigawatts of wind power, but it raised a total of $4.37bn. Converting to Sterling, this represents a price of £530m per Gigawatt, 19 times the ScotWind price. Had ScotWind raised a figure similar to the US auction, the Scottish Government would have received a £13bn boost, or around 40% of their annual budget.

The cap not only prevented the Scottish Government getting a potentially enormous one-off bonus, but the auction rules mean they get only a tiny annual fee, there’s no government involvement in the on-going development and no real guarantee of local benefit from the projects, in either supplies or jobs.

Why was the auction deliberately set up to minimise the advantage to Scotland and the Scottish people? Was this the action of a party determined to deliver a successful independence?

Now the island ferries.

Much has been written about the island ferry fiasco, so I won’t repeat the details here. Those who want to find out more need only look at Iain Lawson’s blog, Yours for Scotland to see statements from Professor Alf Baird and Dr. Stuart Ballantyne, among others, who know much more about ferries than I do (or the Scottish Government do, apparently).

What has always puzzled me is why the Scottish Government have persisted with support for the current ferry replacement policy, led by CMAL (Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited), a public company wholly owned by the Scottish Government, when that policy has clearly failed. So much is currently wrong, complex, one-of orders; high cost; often incapable of using existing island facilities; leading to slow delivery of replacement vessels and resulting in an aging fleet, prone to breakdown and providing a poor service to island communities.

There are better ways. The Clyde Catamaran Group have submitted proposals for the replacement of the CalMac fleet with low cost, internationally proven designs, which would lead to a modern, responsive fleet, saving both build and operational costs, while providing a much improved service to the island communities, a service that would allow the islands to prosper. It is nothing short of unbelievable that these proposals have hardly been considered by the Scottish Government/CMAL, often without even the courtesy of a reply to communications from the group.

What reason can the Scottish Government have for ignoring the obvious advantages contained in the proposals. Is it stupidity, is it a determination not to admit that mistakes have been made, is it corruption as has been suggested by some, or is it a deliberate act to ruin another aspect of Scottish life. The last option sounds unbelievable until combined with other Scottish Government behaviour, as described above and below.

Finally, there’s this.

The release of the third paper in the Building a New Scotland series. I’ve already mention above the almost unbelievable plan to retain Sterling for an indefinite period. However, that’s not the worst of it. Sturgeon states that although there’s no legal responsibility for iScotland to accept any UK debt, she thinks we have a moral obligation to help out Westminster with their debt problem. Setting aside the stupidity of alerting your opponent to your thinking in advance of any negotiations, why would we want to take a share of debt that was mainly accrued to benefit England, especially in the circumstances where the English government have been ripping us off for centuries. If anything, our stance should be that we are owed multi-billion pound reparations for all we have lost by being part of this union.

Accepting a share of UK debt without significant concessions from the other side (which is unlikely to happen) will damage Scotland and has the potential to make independence less successful. Why would any independence leader suggest such an action?

Scorched earth policy?

These are just three examples of the SNP and the Scottish Government making decisions which appears harmful to Scottish independence, but there are many others, such as the divisive GRA amendment policy and the inaction of SNP MPs in Westminster, both of which impact on the possibility of Scotland regaining her independence and make it more difficult for independence to be a success.

Much has been said about Sturgeon’s alleged interest in securing a UN or EU post after resigning from her current position as First Minister of Scotland, but the events described above point towards her last gift to Scotland, before leaving, being the implementation of a “scorched earth policy”, doing her best to disadvantage the Scottish people and make independence seem less attractive.

Is there another explanation? Recent statements from Sturgeon and senior colleagues seem to confirm a continuing involvement of the SNP at Westminster following the next UK general election, currently scheduled for 2024, which, considering the current SNP plan to hold an independence referendum a year from now, would suggest either an expectation of defeat or certain knowledge that the referendum will not take place.

Let’s look at some of these statements.

Ian Blackford tells BBC News that at the next UK election, the SNP will have a growth plan for the UK. Why? Will we not be negotiating independence by then? See the clip here (courtesy of WoS). Meanwhile, his boss was telling us she was looking forward to working with Rishi Sunak and that we also need an immediate UK General Election to get rid of the anti-Scottish Tories and replace them with anti-Scottish Labour.

How do you build a “constructive working relationship” with someone you want to leave and are campaigning against? Perhaps because there won’t be any campaigning?

In the meantime, let’s hang around doing nothing. What else could I do?

And call for a general election, which you won’t get and, in any case, it’s only to give the SNP three extra years on the Westminster gravy train.

And if that’s not enough, here’s Tommy Shepherd worrying about English residents. Pity he doesn’t spend time worrying about Scottish residents suffering from colonialism. Still, I suppose the extra £15k for making such statements makes it seem ok.

Do these comments sound like they come from people who want independence above all else? Do these comments sound like they come from people who you would want to be negotiating the future of an iScotland? If not, what are SNP politicians for?

Can there now be any doubt?

As most regular readers will know, I’m not a great fan of the current SNP and especially not a fan of Nicola Sturgeon, current party leader and First Minister. In my view, nothing the SNP have done over the last eight years under Sturgeon’s leadership has brought us one step closer to independence.

In fact, it’s worse than that. Mandates have come and gone, opportunities have come and gone, but still no progress towards what is supposed to be the party’s raison d’etre, the very reason why they were formed almost ninety years ago. Progress has been so slow that the cynical amongst you might be tempted to believe that the lack of progress is a deliberate choice on the part of Nicola Sturgeon; that she is only interested in extending the length of time she remains in power and, to that end, preventing Scotland escaping from this one-sided union.

It has certainly been my view for some time now, but two recent events have, I think, put this view beyond doubt.

The offshore wind ripoff

First was the sale of the off-shore wind energy licences for a tiny fraction of their true worth. For years, the SNP have been talking up Scotland’s enormous potential for renewable energy generation, through wind, wave and hydro, and how that could represent a huge benefit for an independent Scotland, money for the government and jobs for Scottish workers. That, of course, could only be true if the Scottish Government was careful about the way in which licences to develop these resources were granted. Licences would have to be auctioned in a way that would produce the greatest benefit to Scotland, both in terms of getting the highest price possible combined with a guarantee for the involvement of Scottish manufacturing and development resources.

Why then did the ScotWind auction earlier this year place a cap on the maximum amount companies were allowed to bid? What sensible organisation running an auction would decide that no matter how high buyers were prepared to bid, a limit would be placed on the amount the seller was prepared to accept. In this case, the maximum bid was set at £100,000 per sq.km., hence the total of £700m raised from a area of 7000 sq.km. To put it another way, given that the areas auctioned would allow the installation of 25 GW (Gigawatts) of wind power, this represents a price of £28m per Gigawatt.

Was that a fair price? How does it compare with other auctions? Coincidentally, at almost the same time as the ScotWind auction, the US government held an auction for areas just off the coast of New York and New Jersey. This was for a much smaller area than the ScotWind auction, supporting only 7 Gigawatts of wind power, but it raised a total of $4.37bn. Converting to Sterling, this represents a price of £530m per Gigawatt, 19 times the ScotWind price.

What could be the reason for such a difference? Is US energy worth so much more than Scottish energy? Well, let’s look at the average retail price. In the US, the average price is around 9p per kilowatt/hr whereas in the UK, the average price is currently about 28p per kilowatt/hr, but that is expected to rise to 51p per kilowatt/hr in October.

So why did ScotWind place such a tiny limit on the selling price of a resource worth 5 times what it’s worth in the States? Two possible reasons are they were incompetent or it was deliberate. However, one action which goes against the possibility of incompetence, just not knowing the true worth, was a last minute decision to increase the cap on bids from £10,000 per sq.km. to £100,000 per sq.km., so given that they seemed to realise the asking price was far too low, you can assume there was some understanding of the value of what they were selling. You know what reason that leaves.

But that’s not the only bad news. Included in the contract with the buyers is that they will be charged an ongoing annual rent, expected to raise between £50m and £90m for the Scottish Government. Remember the ‘good old days’ when in 2017, Nicola Sturgeon announced at conference that the Scottish Government would create a not-for-profit energy company to sell energy to households in Scotland for “as close to cost price as possible”. Was it really ever likely to happen or was it just announced as a soundbite for the media and for the conference standing ovation. Anyway, it was cancelled last year, coincidentally just before the auction. Had that gone ahead and had a Scottish energy company been responsible for the ownership and selling of the wind power, this would have brought the Scottish Government the full value of the resource, estimated to yield between £3.5bn and £5.5bn annually. Instead, this money is all going to major energy companies, with only crumbs for the Scottish Government and for Scotland.

Mob rule in Perth?

The second event was the SNP’s reaction to recent happenings at the Tory hustings in Perth, the only hustings to be held in Scotland. An anti-Tory demonstration was talked about and, on the day, many hundreds turned up from different groups to protest about Tory government actions and policies. There was a substantial police presence and the protesters were placed behind barriers, somewhat distant from those who turned up to hear the two candidates. Many in the crowd made their feelings known, some using strong language, but there was no violence and nobody was arrested.

Despite that, several Tories who attended the event, and many other unionists who didn’t, described the crowd as consisting of evil nationalist, independence supporting idiots and put messages on social media accusing the evil nationalists of grabbing and spitting at pensioners, all impossible because of the distance between the crowd and the attendees and because of the large number of police, who would have surely taken action had such things happened. So they were just lying. One incident widely discussed was when James Cook, a BBC reporter (not a journalist) approached the crowd and was shouted at by a guy wearing sunglasses and a skipped cap pulled down over his head, not looking in the least suspicious. Apparently, what the guy said what so awful that it threatened the whole concept of freedom of the press and free speech (not the guy’s, obviously) and almost reduced Cook to tears, though whether it was tears of horror, tears of joy or tears of shame was not revealed.

Of course, the gutter press (is that all of them?) picked up on this and, very quickly, the event took on the appearance of an out of control mob of Scots separatists threatening the safety and wellbeing of a group of innocent, mainly elderly Tories going about their lawful business of listening to their potential leaders describing new ways of ripping off Scotland.

That the media printed (and broadcast) such rubbish is pretty much to be expected, but less expected was the reaction of SNP politicians, though perhaps it shouldn’t be. SNP policy now seems to be placate unionists at all cost, no matter how many independence supporters are harmed in the process. Without even a moment’s thought, taking Tory statements as gospel and certainly not taking time to find out for themselves, SNP politicians jumped in with both feet, only too anxious to blame the crowd.

First up was David Linden, apparently only too happy to believe every word from Andrew Bowie, describing what he believed to be independence supporters as morons. Does he really believe tbat independence will be gained by being nice to the Tories?

He was followed by a host of other SNP politicians, including Sturgeon and Swinney, only too happy to blame independence supporters for everything that happened, even though no evidence exists. To be fair, those two were more concerned about Cook than Tories, unlike John Nicholson and Pete Wishart, who just knew it was all Alba’s fault. I wonder why the SNP are so really keen to keep in with the media? Could they be worried about something the media could make public?

So why are the SNP so anxious to demonise independence supporters and other independence supporting groups? Why are the SNP so anxious to keep in with the Tories and the media? Why are the SNP so anxious to split the independence movement? Will these actions bring independence closer?

My view

These two events have served to crystallized my long held opinion that the SNP are no longer the party of independence. Under Sturgeon, the party has morphed into a self-centered group of individuals more interested in their own prosperity than the country’s.

Are they so besotted by the power and the money that they’ll do anything to keep them, no matter who suffers? Has the party been so infiltrated by biology deniers that the leadership are frightened to face up to them? Or has this always been Sturgeon’s cunning plan to become the UN’s World Biology Denying Representative, gathering more money, status and power for herself and for the person she married.

Who knows, apart from the dynamic duo themselves?

What I do know is we have a party in government that is doing everything it can to stop Scots achieving independence and, unfortunately, a change at the top, whether by resignation or sacking, will only bring up the next biology denier in line, meaning no change in policy. After 80 years of working to gain independence, the SNP have completely changed in the 8 years of Sturgeon’s leadership and there seems no way back.


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.

SNP – still the party of independence?

Independence has always been my thing. I remember my first foray into Scottish politics when, at the age of twelve, I represented the SNP in our school mock election. I came third (out of three), with the Tories edging out Labour for the top spot. One of the last Tory wins in Scotland, perhaps?

That was my first and, for a long time, last involvement in politics, short of voting. Early on, I tended to be a tactical voter, at first anyone to keep out the Tories, then anyone to keep out Labour and then SNP to keep out the unionists.

It wasn’t until 2011 that I really got involved. Following the SNP majority in the Holyrood election and the certainty of a referendum, I knew I had to do my bit. I joined the SNP because I thought that, under Alex Salmond, this could be our first real chance, and possibly our best chance, of independence and the SNP were the right party to make it happen.

In common with lots of others, I worked hard during the campaign, often seven days a week, talking to folk, delivering leaflets, helping to organise activities, just keeping going.

On the day of the referendum, going round the polling places, chatting to voters, I was convinced we had won. The result was the biggest disappointment of my life. I couldn’t understand how the vast majority of people telling me they voted Yes turned into the answer we got. I was devastated.

So why am I telling you all this? It’s not to get brownie points for effort, too late for that now, and it’s certainly not to bring back memories, there’s too many memories (about the result) I want to forget. No, it’s just to explain the disappointment I feel about the way things are now with the SNP. The disappointment I feel that the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon has become a totally different party from the one I joined in 2011.

It all started just after the referendum, pretty much from the moment Nicola Sturgeon took charge. With hindsight, there were so many clues, but, like many other SNP members, I was able to find excuses because I just couldn’t bring myself to believe that she wouldn’t be just as supportive of independence as Alex Salmond had been (and still is). So it took me three or four years before I lost all confidence in the SNP as a vehicle to deliver independence.

Of course, at first there was no real alternative. No other party existed that could take the SNP’s place, so they could pretty much continue with their strategy of pre-election independence carrots followed by post-election failure to deliver.

The arrival of ISP and Alba changed the political situation enormously. Now there was an alternative and thousands of disaffected SNP members flocked to join them. With that came a change in SNP tactics. No longer just the carrot party, they became the carrot and stick party, carrots for the electorate and big sticks for any person or group who dared to challenge them. Of course, no political party likes a newcomer coming in and ‘stealing’ their support, but few others have been able to involve the police, the law officers and the judiciary in their attempts to get rid of their opponents. How this happened is a discussion for another day, but suffice to say that political control of the main arms of justice in the country is not a good thing.

Now the SNP spend so much time trying to get rid of all opposition, trying to get rid of women only spaces and trying to make it a hate crime to disagree with government policy that they don’t really have enough time left to think about how to bring independence closer, to talk about how to bring independence closer, and, above all, to do something to bring independence closer.

The last eight years of SNP inaction must have nearly decimated the Scottish carrot crop, but now, as the carrots grow mouldy because they don’t have the wherewithal to come up with fresh ones, they’ve been pressured (by Alba and ISP perhaps) into replacing their meaningless talk about independence with equally meaningless papers describing the sunny uplands of independence with no mention about how we’re going to get there and no indication that they’re up for the challenge.

So how do I feel today. My feelings about independence haven’t changed. After being an independence supporter for over seventy years, nothing’s going to change that now. I’ll die being an independence supporter, but, increasingly, I worry that independence, for me, will be an unrealised dream. In 2014, I thought nothing could stop us. In the following three or four years, I thought nothing could stop us. But now I see that there is something that could stop us, but who would have thought that the something would be the SNP.


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.

Gayle’s response to ‘the trust has gone’

Is it England’s fault that Scotland is in its current state, or is the Scottish Government’s lack of assertiveness responsible. Here, Gayle makes a convincing case for the latter.


If you look at it from the English establishment perspective this is what they see daily: Scotland, who is their equal and signatory partner, refuses to take responsibility for ANY and ALL political decisions. Scotland constantly defers governance and then complains when England, whose set of priorities is vastly different from those of Scotland, makes political decisions that suit its needs.

Scotland is bound to the same terms as England yet refuses to acknowledge its own constitution, laws and rights and instead seeks those of England, while Scotland is an independent country within GB it outright refuses to act accordingly and ignores the many breaches to the treaty. Even when England categorically states that to them UK means a GREATER ENGLAND with Scotland extinguished and subsumed into it and that they never enacted the treaty and if they ever had it was no longer the case, Scotland ignores it and continues as though nothing was ever said, where in the parliament of GB English parliamentary conventions has no place Scotland upholds them, when Scotland should be sitting directly opposite the English government in the chamber it prefers to sit at the back of the room and rely not only on English policy making but on its institutions.

Where Scotland provides the capital to the union it acts as a silent business partner. In short, to the English government they see a weak and pathetic partner who refuses to assert any of its rights and happily accepts abuse thrown at it no matter what.

Scotland has forgotten how to govern itself but will not admit it to its own people so excuses come easily to its own politicians. Everything is big bad England’s fault when all Scotland need ever do is assert itself. If England is to be cast as the panto baddie then they will play the role well.

There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING stopping Scotland from standing up and telling England to get tae… That they are equals and partners not possessions. That from here on out Scotland will take no more of the abuse, admittedly self inflicted. Yet it refuses to do so.

When Alba stood up and asserted Scotland’s rights that should have been the moment the SNP government stood up for Scotland. But no, they put petty political rivalry before country. They demonstrated that when push comes to shove they will side with England not Scotland and its folks. That to me is the biggest betrayal of them all. They simply rode roughshod over Scotland in order to preserve their lifestyles and maintain the illusion of governance when they are incapable at every single level. That is perhaps why they also permit English political parties to stand in Scotland.


BEAT THE CENSORS
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The trust has gone

Open letter to Nicola Sturgeon MSP FM

Dear Nicola,

Earlier I saw a tweet highlighting the lack of excitement that your referendum announcement has created in the wider YES movement.  Despite the promise of a referendum in about 15 months time, there’s nothing like the activity and the passion that was on display about 15 months before the first referendum.

But why is that?  Have folk in Scotland gone off the whole idea of independence?  Is it a foregone conclusion the the No side will win?  Or have folk noticed that, despite all that’s being said by the SNP and, in particular, by yourself, history has shown that words mean nothing unless followed by actions and, unfortunately, in recent years, SNP words are rarely, if ever, followed by actions.

Following the loss of the 2014 referendum vote, Alex Salmond resigned, and was replaced by you, his deputy, as First Minister and party leader, amid a huge increase in membership and support for the SNP, prompted, in part, by the actions of the English government in Westminster voting down all the benefits Scotland had been promised following a No vote.

So you were leading a buoyant SNP, with many No voters in the referendum regretting their vote, disgusted by the actions of Westminster.  A perfect pro-independence storm, you might think.

In the run-up to the following year’s UK general election, with a huge SNP majority of Scottish seats a certainty, you unexpectedly stated that a vote for the SNP was not a vote for independence.  Why would the leader of the alleged ‘party of independence’ not make the most of this opportunity?  Was this the first sign of a change in emphasis on independence?

Despite gaining 56 out of 59 seats in Westminster, a mandate for independence, nothing was done to further the cause in the months that followed.

Nicola, we trusted you to deliver independence, but you let us down in 2015.

Then came the Brexit referendum.  The SNP campaigned against Brexit , but, unsurprisingly, you could not persuade the UK government to treat each part of the UK separately, so the decision in favour of Brexit was an English decision, completely ignoring the Scottish and Northern Irish decisions against.  We will not be dragged out of the EU against our will was your slogan, but, in the event, most of your post-referendum campaigning was in England, trying to overturn the English decision.  Finally, faced with the intransigence of the English government, independence was the only way to keep Scotland in the EU and, with that certainty, you took no action. You simply dropped the slogan and allowed the English government to overrule Scotland’s wishes.

Once again, we see you allowing Scottish opinions to be overruled by the English government without taking action to prevent it.

Nicola, we trusted you to deliver independence, but you let us down in 2016.

In the snap 2017 UK general election, despite the pleas to ‘give us a mandate’, the word independence was banned from SNP election materials and, with no promise of independence, many former SNP voters simply didn’t turn out. That resulted in a big drop in SNP support and a big reduction in the number of SNP MPs elected. However, the election still resulted in a majority of SNP MPs, but, once again, no action followed the mandate. Nothing was done to bring independence closer.

Nicola, we trusted you to deliver independence, but you let us down in 2017.

As the mandates piled up with still no action to bring independence closer, the number of unhappy SNP members voting with their feet and leaving the party was increasing, but this didn’t seem to overly worry you or the rest of the SNP leadership. You just refused to publish membership figures and pretended it wasn’t happening.

A further UK general election followed in 2019 as Boris Johnson sought to confirm his premiership. Once again, the SNP asked for a mandate, once again they got one and once again, no action on independence followed.

Nicola, we trusted you to deliver independence, but you let us down in 2019.

Now let’s consider the latest national election, for the Scottish Parliament in 2021 and another mandate demanded by the SNP. A referendum by the middle of the parliament, or a referendum by the end of 2023, was your cry, a tight timescale, a year less than the time it took in 2014. The justification offered for the feasibility of the shorter timescale was that, coming only nine years after the first referendum, many aspects of the preparation would take less time or even wouldn’t have to be done at all.

Despite all the aforementioned justification, you would have thought that you would have been anxious to get started on the preparatory work, but that didn’t seem to be the case. In the event, it wasn’t until the following year, this year, that any progress was made.

You announced that a further request for a Section 30 would be made and, if that was rejected by Boris Johnson, the next UK General Election, likely to be in 2024, would be treated as a plebiscite on Scottish independence. This latter point was surprising as up until that very day, you had been solidly against a plebiscite, describing it as a hindrance to the independence cause and describing those making the suggestion as idiots, or worse. We now know that, as most people expected, Johnson rejected the Section 30 request, not giving it more than a moment’s thought.

The next action was to submit a request to the English Supreme Court for a decision on whether a referendum was within the competence of the Scottish Government. As with the plebiscite, this was a surprising move, as the Scottish Government had gone to great lengths to destroy Martin Keatings attempt to establish the same thing just a year earlier. I suppose some might also think it strange that the Scottish Government should be asking an English court (I know it’s called the UK Supreme Court, but as there’s no such thing as UK law, it isn’t really) to establish whether they can hold a referendum when you and the rest of the SNP leadership appear to accept that the Scottish people are sovereign, not an English court.

Now we have the release of the first two of the promised series of papers on (and here I quote) “Building a new Scotland”. Unfortunately, here I have to confess a certain amount of disappointment.

The first paper, a comparison with other similar sized European countries, shows clearly that they are better off than Scotland in so many ways, implies that Scotland, with independence, can be the same, but gives no indication of the steps that would be taken to achieve this goal.

The second paper, which focuses on democracy, highlights Scotland’s current democratic deficit and the problems a government focused on the South of England creates in Scotland, but again, beyond the aspiration of independence, no positive steps are laid out to make this a reality.

More papers are to come and we can only hope that they will concentrate more on the actions you and the Scottish Government plan to take to achieve the goals set out in each paper. Without that, you could well be accused of following the same failed path of words not leading to actions.

After such a series of missed opportunities, is it surprising that many Scots are reluctant to place much trust in your current statements?

One last point, an action you seem determined to take is to try to prevent people who don’t agree with every SNP policy from being part of independence campaigning. These policies include the decision to reform the Gender Recognition Act in ways many Scots disagree with, thus seeking to limit the numbers campaigning for independence. Placing the highly controversial GRA reform above the need for maximum unity in the independence movement seems, at least, counterproductive and, at worst, an action likely to limit the chances of success.

Nicola, we are trusting you to deliver independence. Let’s hope you won’t let us down again in 2024.

Yours in independence

Angry Weegie

Is this the death of the SNP?

Or … They never saw it coming?

Last Wednesday, at the increasingly ludicrously named Prime Minister’s Question Time, the two Alba MPs, Neale Hanvey and Kenny Macaskill, were thrown out of the Westminster Commons chamber for protesting about temporary PM Boris Johnson’s immediate and unthinking rejection of the Scottish Government’s request for a Section 30 order.

Enough has already been said about the behaviour of the Speaker, who was so apoplectic about Scots asking questions about Scottish democracy that many members (not Tories, obviously) feared for his health. For those who want to see what democracy in Westminster is like, have a look at this.

You should remember that a Section 30 request is SNP policy, so you might expect that the considerably more numerous SNP MPs would have supported this attempt by fellow Scots to point out the democratic deficit in refusing the Scottish people the opportunity to decide the government of their choice, for which a majority of Scots had voted in the 2021 Holyrood election. Not only did the so-called party of independence not support the Alba MPs, but some actually joined in the abuse hurled at them from the unionist benches.

So we had the astonishing situation that an attempt to show the UK government the error of their ways in relation to SNP party policy was being opposed by the MPs representing that very party. Weird or what?

In the vote that followed, called by the Speaker, to confirm the expulsion of the Alba two, the SNP members sat on their hands. With one exception (Angus Brendan MacNeil), they abstained. They let their hatred of the Alba party get the better of their desire to support SNP party policy, assuming, of course, that they had any real desire to support this party policy in the first place.

Those two Indy stalwarts, John Nicholson and Pete Wishart, were only too anxious to be the first to mock the Alba Two for doing what they themselves should be doing. Here’s what Kevin McKenna had to say about them.

Two of the SNP group, John Nicholson and Pete Wishart – aka “bumptious” and “hopeless” – opted to mock the two suspended Alba MPs. It’s more or less the sum total of their contributions at Westminster since they began living the good life in London. Indeed, so mesmerised is Mr Wishart by Westminster’s ancient accoutrements that he wanted to become Speaker of the House in 2019 to succeed John Bercow.

But perhaps hatred is the wrong word for the SNP’s attitude. Is it not likely that the real reason for the SNP MP’s behaviour is their fear that their failure to pursue independence will begin to hurt them in the ballot box if there is another party which is more aggressive in their pursuit of independence and ballot box hurt could mean the end of their cushy, well paid sinecures, and that would not do. Have the SNP been the only game in town for so long that they just don’t want competition emerging?

Many of you may remember the ‘good old days’ when Scottish voters elected large majorities of Labour MPs. This finished in 2015 when Scots finally realised that Labour were in it for themselves and had no interest whatsoever in doing anything to help the people of Scotland. During the time when Labour were in the majority, their treatment of the SNP was based on the Bain Principle, named after Willie Bain, a Scottish Labour MP who let the cat out of the bag that Labour would not support any SNP pro-Scottish efforts in Parliament, no matter how much harm would be done to people in Scotland as a consequence.

Are there any similarities between Labour’s attitude to the SNP pre-2015 and the SNP’s attitude to Alba today? Well, here’s a quote from an earlier blog post of mine, The SNP Walkouts.

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?).

And here’s a quote from a current SNP MP about what they’re not in Westminster to do. Does make you wonder why they are there, apart from the money, of course.

Kirsty Blackman: “I am not in Westminster to pressure the government for a referendum. Constitutional issues are not my biggest concern. In fact, I very rarely talk about Scottish independence in the commons.” Thanks to Calton Jock for letting us all know current SNP thinking.

So the SNP are not in Westminster to talk about a referendum or about independence. They’re certainly not there to support fellow Scots from another party who do want to talk about a referendum and independence.

Is this the SNP’s reinvention of the Bain Principle? We all know that nothing happens in the SNP without Nicola Sturgeon’s knowledge and approval, so should it be called the Sturgeon Principle?

We all know what happened to Labour in Scotland when folk realised the truth that they were not in Westminster to make life better for Scots, only to make life better for themselves. Will the SNP face the same fate when folk realise they’re not in Westminster to deliver independence to the Scots, only to deliver financial independence to themselves.


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I believe in unity, just not with ‘them’

This week saw the most post-election independence activity ever from Nicola Sturgeon, perhaps pushed into it by the enormous success of the Wee Alba Book, with crowded venues at every event organised to discuss it. However, several important questions, such as the date, the currency and the borders, were either not addressed or were glossed over. In particular, there was one very important aspect of any campaign that Sturgeon refused to address, even when directly questioned.

One thing that all Independistas agree on is the need for a united campaign. Without unity, there won’t be a campaign, there will be several different campaigns. Without unity, there will be disagreements between the campaigns, there will be arguments about the correct way forward, there will be different points of view on all of the questions that damaged Yes in the 2014 referendum. Without unity, voters will think that independence is all about arguments and confusion. Without unity, independence will not happen.

Despite the obvious disadvantages, Nicola Sturgeon has consistently refused to allow the SNP to have any contact with Alba and ISP and the other independence supporting groups and parties. In fact, the opposite is true as she has encouraged her followers to describe the other independence supporting parties in the most unflattering of terms, describing them as enemies, not friends, as if trying to ensure that pro-independence voters have only one realistic option, rather than trying to maximise the independence vote.

A recent reply from an MSP to a query from one of his constituents pretty much confirms that there is no possibility of a collaborative relationship between the SNP and Alba. Typically, the SNP puts the whole blame on Alba.

Sturgeon gives the impression that she believes the SNP owns the Yes movement and there’s no need to discuss policy options with other groups. Recent events have shown how true that is. Last Tuesday, following the presentation of the first in a series of papers highlighting the advantages of independence (a bit of a damp squib considering how it was announced), Sturgeon was asked if she saw a role for Alba in the independence campaign. She refused to give a direct answer.

What then could be the reason for Nicola Sturgeon to rule out SNP collaboration with any other independence group? What could be the reason for her to do the one thing that all independistas agree will assure a No vote?

Two possible explanations occur to me, neither great, but one worse than the other.

First, it could be that Sturgeon believes that she knows all the answers and that independence can only happen if she calls all the shots. Based on her behaviour as First Minister and leader of the SNP, it is obvious that Sturgeon needs to be in charge. She allows no dissenting opinions. Nothing happens in the Scottish Government or in the SNP without her say-so so it wouldn’t be a shock if she acts the same way about independence. Her policy of my way or the highway can be seen from the swift action she takes to sideline any party members with their own opinions. Those promoted are those who agree with her every statement. Whether that leads to better government and whether it would lead to a winning independence campaign is in some doubt.

Second, and much worse, it could be that Sturgeon is making decisions to sabotage the independence movement, and she could be doing it deliberately (© George Foulkes). Could that be the explanation for her strange and counter-productive infatuation with GRA reform and Hate Crimes legislation which are obviously creating division in the Yes movement. Could that be the explanation for the otherwise astonishing decision to sell off Scotland’s wind energy future for buttons. Could that be the explanation for her ignoring all the earlier opportunities to advance the cause of Scottish independence, particularly in 2016 with the Brexit vote.

If Nicola Sturgeon is serious about independence, she will have to accept that any campaign is not just about the SNP. There are other parties with other opinions whose views will have to be discussed and accommodated within any campaign strategy. Can she do this? Will she do this?

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
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