A vote of no-confidence in the Tories and their enablers

Yesterday it was going to be the Scottish Tories’ big day. It was going to be the day that Douglas Ross secured his position as the unchallenged leader of the Scottish Conservatives and Ruth Davidson triumphantly set out for the House of Lords with Nicola Sturgeon’s scalp under her belt, to be hailed as the saviour of the Union by her Conservative colleagues and ideally placed to slot into a ministerial position in Johnson’s cabinet.

But that’s not how it turned out. Although it was ostensibly a vote of no confidence in Nicola Sturgeon, it turned into a de facto vote of no confidence in the Scottish Conservatives, one which they lost badly as they were isolated and alone without the support of any of the other parties and finding themselves attacked and assailed by all sides in the parliamentary chamber. The Conservatives were exposed as grubby political opportunists. Their motion fell by 65 votes to 31 with 27 abstentions. Labour abstained.

Yet the fiercest criticism on a day which was supposed to see the decapitation of Nicola Sturgeon was instead levelled at the opposition members of the Holyrood committee who had cynically and shamefully leaked selective findings to a sympathetic press and in so doing had traduced the trust placed in them by parliament and the original complainers in the case, whose interests Jackie Baillie, Murdo Fraser, Alex Cole-Hamilton and Margaret Mitchell hypocritically claimed to have been standing up for. The leader of the Scottish Greens angrily demanded that whoever leaked the findings to the press be disavowed by their party and prevented from standing for reelection as they had proven that they are unfit to hold public office. The cameras cut to a sullen Jackie Baillie looking as though she was chewing her way through a jumbo sized packet of wasps.

The normally mild mannered and scrupulously polite John Swinney launched a ferocious attack on the Conservatives’ Adam Tomkins and Murdo Fraser because of their cynical bad faith and grubby politicking in the inquiry, hanging them out to dry with the evidence of their own Tweets. This was a vote of no-confidence in the Tories and their enablers, they lost badly.

Another loser this week was my resolution to steer clear of the toxic cesspit that is Twitter. Just like John Swinney I reached the limits of my patience.  On Monday I sent a Tweet after Nicola Sturgeon was cleared of breaching the ministerial code asking if we could all now please get back to campaigning for a strong pro-independence majority in May and making the case for independence. From behind his sock puppet account set up to get around his Twitter ban, Stuart Campbell told me with his usual grace and charm to get to fuck. Then he blocked me on Twitter, a block which I was happy to return in kind. Then after receiving a series of sniffy tweets from his supporters to tell me that my blog post yesterday wasn’t very conciliatory, I snapped back : Just a wee note to any of Stuart Campbell’s minions whining about my supposed lack of conciliation with their guru. Campbell’s fragile ego can’t cope with compromise and conciliation, so spare me your pearl clutching. I am past caring.

Perhaps it was ill-judged of me to send that tweet,and I apologise if anyone other than Stuart Campbell was upset by it, but I was angry and fed up. To tell the truth I am sick to the back teeth of the double standards employed by Campbell and his supporters. He can be as nasty and abrasive as he wants, but don’t dare respond to him or challenge him, because then it’s you who is in the wrong. His fragile and brittle ego rests upon his refusal to acknowledge that he has ever been wrong. He is remarkably quick to take offence, yet even quicker to resort to personal abuse and insult.

The thing about conciliation is that it is like the tango or making a baby, it takes two to do it. Stuart Campbell has demonstrated that he has no interest in conciliation. He wants supplicants, not anyone who might dare to challenge him. Stuart’s world is a simple black and white one. Yet the real world is complex and full of shades of grey.

Campbell has of course been quite spectacularly wrong. For months now he has been claiming that Nicola Sturgeon will be driven from office, and has been devoting his energies and time to trying to bring about her downfall without any apparent care about how this might impact upon prospects for independence. He has been asserting that she is behind a massive conspiracy in which she set out with malice aforethought and with the collusion of the police, the SNP, the Crown prosecution service, and a group of women whom he alleges to have maliciously invented a series of baseless lies, to send an innocent and saint-like Alex Salmond to prison.

Yet Nicola Sturgeon is still in office and the proof of the conspiracy always remains in a document which has yet to be made public. It’s in the nature of conspiracy theories that they cannot be disproved. Like the Second Coming, for true believers,vindication is always just over the horizon. We have had almost two years of investigations, committees, inquiries and reports, not to mention intense scrutiny from a media which is overwhelmingly hostile to the Scottish Government, despite all that and the best efforts of Campbell and his followers to dig up and propagate any dirt they can find, Nicola Sturgeon remains in post, vindicated by an impartial and independent investigation. Conclusive proof of the grand conspiracy remains as elusive as ever. It’s time to give it up. In FMQs today even Ruth Davidson in her last appearance in Holyrood recognised that the Salmond-Sturgeon saga had run out of political steam, choosing not to address the issue at all and instead attacking the Scottish Government on its record in educational standards.

However Stuart Campbell cannot admit that he was wrong or that he has lost, so in order to protect his fragile psyche from the devastating truth that he is as fallible as any other human, he has resorted to arguing that independence will never happen and that in any case independence isn’t worth having as long as Nicola Sturgeon remains the leader of the SNP. For that reason he is no longer a supporter of Scottish independence but is now actively campaigning to prevent it. My long standing policy of not using this blog as a platform from which to attack or criticise other independence supporters no longer applies to him. He has become a sad irrelevance, and an enemy of independence, and it’s all because of his vanity and ego. Having got that off my chest, I will now get back to ignoring him, and I suggest that is what everyone else does too. I will also get back to ignoring Twitter.

You don’t deal with a narcissist’s attention seeking by giving them the attention that they crave. There are far bigger and more important fish to fry. We have an election to win and an independence referendum campaign to fight. Those of us who are focused on winning this election and winning Scottish independence are no longer telling Nicola Sturgeon’s online critics to wheesht for indy. We are telling them that we are no longer listening to them. We have work to do, if you are not going to help win a pro-indy majority and a victory for independence in the referendum that lies ahead – then get out of our way.

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Time to move on

It’s over at last. The concerted attempts to remove Nicola Sturgeon from office have failed. Although we can expect another couple of days of headlines and unconvincing outrage from the Scottish Conservatives as they try to pretend that they really do have principles, the real danger to the First Minister’s position passed yesterday, when the independent Hamilton report cleared her of any breach of the ministerial code. There is a further test today, when the Tories press ahead with their motion of no-confidence in her, but the thoroughly scunnered Greens have already said that they are not going to support the motion which means that the Tories will not have sufficient votes for it to pass. Labour have indicated that they may abstain.

The Tories have failed to unseat Nicola Sturgeon just weeks before the Holyrood election and have now run out of Holyrood procedures to use in order to try and keep the story alive. So that’s them buggered their election strategy. Not only have they failed to depose Nicola Sturgeon, they have nothing remotely positive to offer the electorate and they stand exposed as cynical opportunists who embarked on a witch-hunt against the First Minister while remaining silent about far more serious and egregious breaches of the ministerial code and outright unlawful behaviour on the part of Conservative cabinet ministers. The Tories had nothing else in their armoury apart from their attempts to bring down Nicola Sturgeon and to throw the SNP into chaos just as the election campaign was about to start. That electoral strategy is now in tatters. They are now going to have to fight this election with the focus on the Westminster Tories’ plans to dismantle the devolution settlement. They are now in the uncomfortable position of campaigning to resist the democratic will of the people of Scotland without having any positive offer to put to the electorate themselves. It’s now far harder for them to hide behind a smokescreen of SNPbad.

It’s hard to persuade anyone that you really care about the waste of £500,000 of taxpayers’ money when you are desperately hoping that no one will mention the reek of corruption that surrounds the billions of pounds of public money that your own party colleagues have spaffed on contracts to Tory donors and personal associates or the almost £500,000 (£340,000 plus legal costs) that Home Secretary Priti Patel had to pay to a former staff member after an independent enquiry found that her bullying behaviour towards her subordinates constituted a direct breach of the ministerial code. But when it comes to Nicola Sturgeon, all of a sudden Douglas Ross and Ruth Davidson think that they can occupy the moral high ground. There hasn’t been a less convincing attempt to assert moral superiority since the serial offspring abandoner Boris Johnson criticised single mothers for their “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate” children. Which if nothing else proves that no one does hypocrisy like a Tory. Or indeed a lack of self-awareness.

Patrick Harvie went so far as to give an interview in which he denounced the blatant politicisation of the Holyrood committee investigation and called for sanctions to be imposed on those committee members who leaked parts of the report to the media over the weekend in a calculated attempt to generate a slew of SNPbad headlines just weeks before an all-important Scottish election. Whoever leaked the report was in clear breach of the code of conduct for MSPs, making their attempts to accuse Nicola Sturgeon of breaching the code of behaviour expected of her ring particularly hypocritical, which is quite the achievement given that rank hypocrisy is their normal stock in trade. Murdo Fraser, Jackie Baillie, Margaret Mitchell, and the Alex-Cole-Hamilton shaped void, we’re looking at you.

The BBC’s Glenn Campbell and Sarah Smith presented their reports on the news that Nicola Sturgeon had been cleared of accusations that she had breached the ministerial code looking for all the world as though their dug had just been hit by a bus. I almost felt sorry for Sarah, she’d spent all weekend rehearsing her smug face for the camera, trying to carefully calculate just how much of a smirk she could get away with while still maintaining that the BBC is entirely impartial. Actually, as previous weeks have demonstrated, that’s a very big smirk indeed. Unfortunately Sarah instead found that she was going to have to trot out her trying not to look disappointed face, an expression that TV viewers last saw when Alex Salmond was cleared of all charges. After the First Minister was totally cleared by an independent inquiry led by a man who was once the head of the Irish equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service, the best that Sarah Smith could manage was to acknowledge through gritted teeth, “This will allow [Nicola Sturgeon] to claim she has been vindicated.” Between the BBC and the perma-raging anti-Sturgeon bloggers, you won’t see so many noses out of joint even if you binge watch several seasons’ worth of Botched: Nose jobs gone wrong.

Tomorrow Alex Salmond is due to give a press conference. We can only hope that he will accept that this long drawn out saga is now at an end and urge his supporters to support the SNP in the coming election and to work to ensure that the next Scottish Parliament is returned with a strong and unassailable pro-independence majority. He can have the last word, but for the rest of us this is a story which has gone on long enough. It’s time for us all to move on. We are no longer listening to the enraged and infuriated Sturgeon haters who spew their bile online. If you think that independence isn’t worth having as long as Nicola Sturgeon is leading the SNP, we no longer care about your petulant hissy fit.  You can piss off and bow down before your Conservative overlords.  The rest of us have important work to do.  The draft bill for a second Scottish independence referendum has now been published. Now what is key is for everyone who supports Scottish independence to ensure that we win a handsome victory in May, that the referendum becomes a reality and that we have the arguments that are going to win it. Now we can return to what is really important without the distractions which only benefit the Conservatives and their allies. It’s time to move on from the let’s get Nicola saga. It’s time to move on to independence.

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Flag-shagging for the Union

In recent months, union flags have been popping up every time some minor British government minister makes an announcement. Tory ministers seem to have more flags than a shoe fetishist has size twelve Manolo Blahniks. One of them, Housing minister Robert Jenrick, didn’t just have a large Union flag on display in the corner of his living room when he made an appearance last week via zoom on the BBC Breakfast Show, he also had a large and conspicuously positioned photie of the queen, just in case anyone thought that his flag wasn’t staunch enough by itself.

This recent outbreak of flag-shagging is apparently one of the bright ideas of the British government’s so-called Union unit. The reason that Scotland is increasingly being attracted to the idea of independence is apparently because we don’t have enough union flags, and if only the British Government can successfully channel the interior design ethic of a flute band hall in Livingston then Scotland will decide that this whole independence lark is maybe not such a good idea after all.

So we are to get union flags on our driving licences and car licence plates. There are to be union flags plastered over all the infrastructure projects directly chosen and funded by the UK government as part of their campaign to wrest powers away from Holyrood and subvert devolution. The UK Government hub in Edinburgh, the building from which the British government will coduct its shameless evisceration of the devolution is already branded with an outsize union flag design which wouldn’t look out of place in a Tory cabinet minister’s zoom call. No doubt they have something similar in mind for the new offices that they have planned for Glasgow.

Naturally the flag is prominently on display in the new press briefing room in 10 Downing Street, which reportedly cost £2.6 million for some sheets of MDF, and a few tins of Tory blue paint. There’s that Conservative procurement policy for you. Ministers even tried to brand the Astra-Zeneca vaccine with union flags despite the fact that the team developing it included Turkish residents of Germany, the company is owned by an Anglo-Swedish consortium with a French chief executive, and one of the major production sites is in Belgium.

The Tories are very keen to plaster union flags on everything because they imagine them to be a symbol of unity. This only goes to show just how out of touch with Scotland they really are. The most recent display of union flags in Scotland was when Rangers fans went on a rampage of vandalism in George Square. The centre of Glasgow has also witnessed such other symbols of union flag unity when red white and blue bedecked right wing thugs ostensibly “defending” statues that no one intended to attack embarked upon an orgy of violence, assaulting peaceful protestors standing up for fair and decent treatment for asylum seekers and migrants. The union flag symbol of unity was also prominently on display when those right wing British nationalist boot boys attacked peaceful independence supporters in the aftermath of the independence referendum in 2014, an incident which the BBC quite disgustingly, with a hypocritical false moral equivalence described as “clashes between supporters and opponents of independence. Every year on the streets of towns and cities of the west of Scotland we see the “unity” that the union flag symbolises in triumphalist sectarian parades that tell Scots from a catholic family background that the union flag wavers will never fully accept them.

In Scotland we are well aware of the “unity” that the union flag represents. It’s the unity that comes after your opponents have been battered into submission, with kicks and punches if necessary. That’s the only kind of unity that the Conservatives understand. For them the union flag is a symbol of their total victory.

This recent plague of flag-shagging represents yet another instance of the historic reversal of a pattern that always infuriated Scots, that of politicians and other public figures referring to England when they meant Britain. The use of the union flag is an example of the Conservatives saying Britain when they really mean England. The Conservatives have come to represent a decidedly English right wing nationalism. The Brexit that they espouse is a creature of English nationalist obsessions and resentments and a peculiarly English sense of exceptionalism. Scotland rejected Brexit at the ballot box, and has repeatedly and consistently rejected the Conservative party which is not only hell bent on imposing the most harsh form of Brexit on all of us, it is also using that Brexit as an excuse to weaken and undermine a devolution settlement that Scotland did give overwhelming support to at the ballot box.

Scotland is not suddenly about to become reconciled to any of this because Tory Government ministers have taken to wrapping themselves in union flags and insisting that it’s a symbol of unity. It’s not symbols we are looking for, it’s substance, and it’s in substance that the Conservatives are lacking when it comes to taking Scotland’s desires and interests into account. What the current plague of union flags symbolises isn’t unity, it’s weakness and desperation. It’s a symbol of political opportunism and a British goverment which has nothing constructive to offer Scotland beyond empty and meaningless platitudes about a precious union and a partnership of nations.

The union flags which this government is hell bent on plastering all over our public life are a last desperate attempt to disguise the fact that the union as it was once understood is over. It’s not a symbol of strength and confidence. It’s a symbol of weakness and hollowness. The real tragedy for supporters of the UK and the union between Scotland and England is that this is all that they have left to offer.

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The end of the roller coaster

It’s crunch time this week. In a few days we will have the publication of the report of the Holyrood committee inquiry into the botched Scottish Government investigation into the complaints made against Alex Salmond. This will be mined extensively for the SNPbad headlines which will doubtless dominate the Scottish media this week. You can also look forward to Ruth Davidson popping up on Sky News and BBC Scotland pretending that she knows what integrity is.

This week we shall also see the Conservative attempt to force Nicola Sturgeon out of office with a vote of no confidence in the Scottish Parliament. This will also generate headlines and frequent appearances on the broadcast media by pearl-clutching Conservatives, but unless the motion is backed by the Scottish Greens, whose Holyrood leader has already denounced the blatant politicisation of the committee enquiry by the Conservatives and Labour, then it will be nothing more than a piece of political theatre which the First Minister will survive. It will dominate the headlines and we can look forward to Sarah Smith standing outside Holyrood on the BBC evening news trying not to look smug, but if the Greens don’t support it the motion will not succeed. The Greens do have a political reason of their own for not backing the Conservative motion, their electoral success in May depends on appealing to independence supporters to give the Greens their list vote. That’s going to be harder if the Greens have been seen to collude with the Conservatives in bringing down the First Minister.

There will be plenty of headlines about how Nicola Sturgeon misled Parliament, but that is not in itself a resignation offence. The killer blow will be if she is found to have knowingly deceived Parliament. It was notable that the selective leaks of parts of the committee report, designed to inflict the maximum political damage on the First Minister by her opponents did not include the finding that she had “knowingly misled” Parliament. You can be certain that if this did figure in the report it would have been leaked as it would be crucial to Conservative efforts to win majority support for their motion of no confidence.

Also this week, James Hamilton QC will present the findings of his independent enquiry into whether Nicola Sturgeon breached the ministerial code. The First Minister and her allies are confident that he will find that she did not, alternatively he could find that she did breach the code, but not in a manner that was so egregious that she would have to resign. If he finds that there was no breach of the ministerial code or that any breach was minor and limited, this will represent an end to parliamentary proceedings into this long drawn out affair and we can get back to the serious business of concentrating all our efforts on defeating the Conservatives and the Labour party in the Holyrood election and winning that all-important pro-independence majority in the next Scottish Parliament so we can press ahead with the independence referendum that this country so desperately needs in order to resolve the constitutional question for once and ever.

It would be nice if the ending of Holyrood proceedings into this matter and a finding that Nicola Sturgeon did not breach the ministerial code seriously enough to warrant her resignation would also mean an end to the campaign of vilification of the SNP from certain ostensibly pro-independence websites, but sadly that’s not going to happen. They’ve already decided that independence isn’t worth having if Nicola Sturgeon is still leading the SNP.

The big threat to Nicola Sturgeon comes if the James Hamilton report finds that she did commit a serious breach of the ministerial code. Under such circumstances it would be very difficult for her to remain in office, and we would face the challenging prospect of fighting this Scottish election campaign without knowing who would become First Minister should the SNP remain the largest party and able to form the next Scottish government with or without the support of the Greens.

However one thing is absolutely certain, no matter what happens this week with inquiries and reports, none of it alters what is really driving support for independence. That is the failure of the British state to accommodate the divergent political views of Scotland and this country’s rejection of Brexit and the nakedly English nationalist agenda of the Conservative party. It will not stop the Conservatives from pursuing their campaign to neuter and undermine the Scottish Parliament in direct contradiction of the settled will of the people of Scotland. It won’t stop the British government from using Scotland as a convenient parking ground for the UK’s increasing arsenal of nukes. Whatever happens in Holyrood this week will not magically make the Labour party come up with a fleshed out proposal for federalism which is both credible and which actually has a plausible chance of ever being implemented.

Whatever happens in Holyrood this week, the Conservatives and the Labour party will very soon be deprived of the opportunities that this unfortunate affair has given them for grandstanding at the expense of the SNP. Deprived of the manufactured outrage the spotlight will return to where it belongs, the manifest shortcomings and inadequacies of the parties of British nationalism and their failure to come up with any convincing solutions to the democratic deficit which Scotland faces as a part of the UK. That, and not the SNP, is the real motor driving support for independence in Scotland, and that is the dynamic which will soon reassert itself. It’s a dynamic that will only grow more powerful over time as the demographics of independence support, where a large majority of younger generations back independence, shift Scotland into a nation where independence is on course to become the settled will of the people. The absolute best that the Tories and their allies can hope for is to delay the inevitable.

One way or another this long and drawn out saga will soon be coming to an end, and then the parties of British nationalism will have nowhere to hide. There may be storm clouds on the immediate horizon, but in the medium to longer term the future is very bright. By this time next week we should expect to see that an end to the roller coaster ride is in sight.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership ,or about some other issue not directly related to Scottish independence – there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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The two doors

We are now aproaching the final end of the Salmond saga which for over a year has obsessed the anti-independence media and that part of the ostensibly pro-independence blogosphere with a pathological hatred of Nicola Sturgeon. About which those of us who want to concentrate on making the case for Scottish independence can only say, “Thank all the gods.” This is a tale which has already consumed far too much oxygen. Although there is still one final report to reach its conclusion, that of James Hamilton QC, which is investigating whether the First Minister broke the ministerial code, most observers now believe that it is unlikely that the First Minister will be forced to resign just weeks before the most crucial Holyrood election since the establishment of the devolution settlement.

The committee report which was leaked to Sky news apparently fails to include the killer line that Nicola Sturgeon “knowingly” misled the Scottish Parliament, It is acting in the conscious knowledge that one is misleading parliament which makes misleading the Scottish Parliament a breach of the ministerial code and a resignation offence. Misleading Parliament per se is not a breach of the ministerial code and is not a resignation matter. We already knew that Nicola Sturgeon misled Parliament when she admitted to and apologised for forgetting what she described as a rushed encounter in a corridor.

Despite the best efforts of a committee whose opposition members had already convicted, hanged, drawn, and quartered the First Minister before she had uttered a word of her evidence, it is highly significant that the killer blow, “knowingly mislead” does not seem to feature in the Committee’s report. Rather the First minister’s political foes seek to damage her by other means, by leaking the draft of the report to sympathetic media outlets and generating headlines that scream that she misled Parliament, and by getting an, ahem, “whistleblower”, to provide Alex Salmond’s friend, the arch-brexiter Tory David Davis with documentation he could reveal in the House of Commons using Parliamentary privilege to avoid prosecution. Yet as the journalist Murray Foote has pointed out, it’s difficult for opposition members of the committee to be convincingly outraged at claims that Nicola Sturgeon broke the ministerial code when it seems that one or more of their number breached the code by leaking the report to the press before it was presented to Parliament. It exposes the naked political opportunism in which this entire saga is mired.

We have been witnessing the most sustained and desperate barrage against the SNP since that last final frantic week of the independence referendum campaign in 2014 when a single opinion poll gave the narrowest of leads to the yes camp. We have now had a long run of polls which put Yes in the lead, and the demographics of No support with only the oldest age cohort showing majority support against independence point to a future where support for an independent Scotland is only going to increase over time. While sections of the independence movement fixate on attacking other independence supporters, the Conservatives and their allies have not forgotten that this is probably their last chance to prevent independence. Scotland faces two doors, one leads to an SNP led pro-independence majority in the May election,keeping alive the dream of independence, the other leads to Conservative rule in Westminster and the effective neutering of a Scottish Parliament that we campaigned for for decades in the teeth of Conservative opposition. That’s it, that’s the choice, there are no other options available.

The Conservatives represent a very real danger to Scotland. Their corrupt authoritarian cronyism is the future that awaits us if we don’t keep alive the dream of independence. We ignore them at our peril. As Joanna Cherry points out in an article in The National today, the Conservatives’ attempts to curtail civil liberties should serve as a warning to us all. The Conservatives’ draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has received its second reading in the House of Commonsthis week. This is a bill which has the authoritarian fingers of Home Secretary Priti Patel all over it. Part three of the Bill contains enhanced police powers to deal with public order and wider offences and increases sentences for breaching conditions imposed on assemblies and processions by the police. Although justice is a devolved matter and this bill does not affect police powers in Scotland, the bill could have a significant impact on Scots who travel to England to take part in demonstrations there.

Alarmingly the bill grants hugely expanded powers to the police in England and Wales to stop protests which would cause “serious unease”, and creates criminal penalties for people causing “serious annoyance”. But causing annoyance is part of our freedom of speech. If you can prevent a protest for being annoying, you can potentially prevent any protest at all. Indeed you could argue that the entire point of a protest is to create annoyance. Otherwise you are left to ponder the philosophical question of whether a protest is still a protest when no one knows you’re there. This Conservative bill represents a far greater threat to civil liberties than the much criticised Scottish government’s hate speech bill and entirely lacks that bill’s safeguards and protections.

Although justice is currently devolved, we have already witnessed how the Tories are chipping away at the powers of Holyrood. If they believe that there is no longer the prospect of another independence referendum their attacks on the powers of the Scottish parliament will step up a gear. There is little that the Scottish Tories would like more than to curtail our right to march and rally in support of Scottish independence. Nothing would suit them better than a Scottish Parliament which had been de-fanged and was powerless to resist them, and a Scottish people whose civil liberties and rights of assembly had been reduced to the point where we were powerless to protest against them. That’s the future which awaits us if our neglect and distraction leads to us going through the wrong door in May. The slogan of the Scottish Greens in this election – vote as though your future depends on it – is not mere hyperbole. The whole of Scotland’s future depends on ensuring that we return an SNP led pro-independence majority to Holyrood in May. Let’s choose the right door.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership ,or about some other issue not directly related to Scottish independence – there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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Race-baiting for the union

If you wanted an illustration of how Twitter is nothing more than a toxic sewer of performative outrage leavened by the occasional cat gif, you couldn’t do much better than look at the angry race-baiting response by George Galloway to a perfectly innocuous tweet from Scottish justice secretary Humza Yousaf in which Humza expressed good wishes to people in Ireland for St Patrick’s Day saying “Happy St Patrick’s Day to our celtic cousins in Ireland! Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!”

I’m really struggling to find anything in that tweet that could possibly be construed as offensive, but that didn’t manage to stop the self-proclaimed most socialist man in Scotland, George Galloway, who is so socialist that he’s going to vote Tory in the constituency vote in May’s election. George still managed to perform his outrage in response to Humza’s harmless tweet, which isn’t surprising given that George is the biggest attention seeker in Scottish politics,which is quite an achievement when you consider the strong competition he’s got from certain members of the Scottish blogging fraternity. However what was perhaps surprising was the level of nasty race baiting to which George was prepared to sink. In response to Humza’s harmless tweet, George fulminated:

“Well #Humza you’re not more Scottish than me. You’re not a Celt like me. You’re not working-class like me. You didn’t go to a state school like me. You’re not more socialist than me. So stop pretending. You’re a poseur. @Alliance4Unity.”

Perhaps the visual disorder I suffered as a result of the stroke hasn’t resolved itself after all, but I can’t see anything in Humza’s tweet which could be taken to imply that he thinks he’s more Scottish or more Celtic than anyone else. There is nothing there that makes a claim that Humza Yousaf is more working class than anyone else. On the other hand the implication that George Galloway thinks that Humza Yousaf isn’t as Scottish or as Celtic as a white man of Scottish and Irish descent like George Galloway rings out loud and clear. And what my visual disorder has most definitely not prevented me from seeing is that a middle aged man who habitually wears a hat alongside certain other questionable fashion choices has absolutely no right to call anyone else a poseur.

As a white working class man born in Scotland who is of Scottish and Irish descent and who received his education at the local state catholic comprehensive in Coatbridge, I have absolutely no difficulty in recognising that Humza, just like other Scottish people of colour whose family backgrounds are Asian, African, or from any part of the globe, is just as Scottish and just as Celtic as me or as any other Scottish person. Being Scottish is not a matter of ancestry but of identification. Galloway’s “Not a Celt like me,” is not a statement about the footballing loyalties of Humza Yousaf but instead can only be construed as an appalling attempt to deny that Humza Yousaf can ever be authentically Scottish on the basis of his ethnicity.

As George ought to know, the accusation that we can never be authentically Scottish has in the past been frequently levelled at those of us who have an Irish Catholic family background. You’d like to think that he should know better, but apparently not. There is no bar that is too low for George in his attempts to score a political point against the SNP and to make an appeal to his new staunch pals in the Britnatosphere. His latest comments and the sentiments behind them are unacceptable and utterly vile. Between Humza Yousaf and George Galloway I know who I’d rather have as a fellow Scot, and it’s certainly not George.

It was only ever a short distance from George’s announcement that he’d be voting Tory to spouting this nasty kind of ethno-racial crap. You know, as the saying goes, when someone shows you who they are, believe them. George Galloway has shown us who he really is and he has shown that for all the protestations of anti-independence supporters, that independence supporters are racists who hate the English, it’s British nationalism not Scottish nationalism, that has the real problem with ethno-racist politics.

This is the “Celt” George Galloway who mocks and hates on people who value and use Gaelic, an actual Celtic language, and who value and use the Scots tongue, and true enough, if you asked the average Scots speaker to describe George Galloway with a four letter word that starts with a C and ends with a T, “Celt” is probably not the one that would first come to mind.

Everyone who wants a better Scotland, and not just those of us who believe the route to that better Scotland lies through independence, should have no hesitation in condemning George Galloway’s shameful race baiting and reiterating our solidarity with Humza Yousaf and other ethnic minority Scots. I am proud to recognise Humza as a fellow Scot and proud that people from minority ethnic backgrounds in Scotland are able to identify as Scots and to be accepted as such. That stands in marked contrast to the experience of minority ethnic people in England, who predominantly identify as British, not as English.

I am comfortable in my identity as a Scot, and that means that I am quite comfortable accepting that anyone who was born and brought up in Scotland, irrespective of their family background, is every bit as Scottish as I am. Given the history of the Irish community in Scotland I find it deeply offensive to suggest that a claim to Scottishness must be subject to some dubious test of ethnic purity. Above all, being Scottish is a state of mind. Anyone, from anywhere in the world, who comes to live in Scotland, who decides to build their life and career here and to raise their family here, anyone who does Scotland the honour of choosing to throw their lot in with Scotland and who becomes a part of the story of this country, is just as Scottish as those of us who live here because of some accident of birth. We are all Jock Tamson’s bairns, but the truth is that Humza Yousaf is far more Scottish than George Galloway could ever hope to be. That’s because Humza’s loyalties are to Scotland. George Galloway’s loyalties are only to himself.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership ,or about some other issue not directly related to Scottish independence – there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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Scot Goes Pop annual crowdfunder

While other supposedly pro-independence websites have devoted all their time and energy to bringing down Nicola Sturgeon just weeks away from what is quite possibly the most important Scottish elections since the introduction of devolution, James Kelly at Scot Goes Pop has continued with the task of analysing opinion polling from a pro-independence perspective and trying to explain how voting in the d’Hondt system used for Holyrood elections really works .  James has patiently tried  to explain why attempts to game that system are exercises in futility as they all crucially depend on knowing in advance what the outcome of the constituency vote in a given region is going to be. For his pains he has found himself attacked, insulted and belittled by Wings Over Scotland and its acolytes because James has had the audacity to point out that that site’s owner is not as infallible as its owner thinks he is.

James is a valuable asset to the independence cause, one who remains calm and clear headed while others descend into a hysterical espousal of conspiracy theories and preach a counsel of despair, seemingly prepared to abandon any efforts to win independence as long as the SNP is led by a woman they have come to despise.

James has now launched his annual crowdfunder to raise money for his living expenses which will allow him to continue to treat his blog as his primary job. As we approach a vital election in which we will hopefully win a pro-independence majority which will signal the unofficial start of the second Scottish independence referendum campaign, it is more important than ever that we have calm and clear pro-independence voices who are not swayed or distracted by their own agendas and their vendettas and grudges. Please support James’s crowdfunder, We’re going to need him.

You can contribute to the ScotGoes Pop crowdfunder by clicking on the following link or by sending James a PayPal payment directly to his account at jkellysta@yahoo.co.uk

Link to crowdfunder here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/james-kelly-scot-goes-pop-general-fundraiser-2021

The literal definition of overkill

While some people get on with their incessant obsession with who said what to whom in the latest iteration of the conspiracy theorising about Sturgeon versus Salmond, or in the black and white performative outrage worldview of conspiracy theorisers, Satanic Sturgeon vs Angelic Alex, the Conservatives are getting on with their important work of undermining Scotland’s chances of ever becoming independent and securing Scotland’s future as a silenced and politically neutered parking site for the UK’s nuclear viagra. Because if you really think that David Davis is attempting to re-ignite a story that had started to quieten down and disappear from the top of the news agenda out of a deep and genuine concern for standards of propriety in Scottish Government, and an abiding concern for truth and justice, you probably also believe that he was a well prepared and well briefed Brexit secretary who had a deep and thorough command of all complexities and nuances of post Brexit trade negotiations.

Of course David has the same concern for exposing the blatant corruption,the lethal incompetence, and ministerial misdeeds at the heart of the Tory Administration in Westminster. Oh wait, no he doesn’t. No he doesn’t at all. He wants an inquiry into who knew what when about the allegations against Alex Salmond, he certainly doesn’t want an inquiry into how his party presided over 125,000 deaths and the greatest economic damage in Europe. He most certainly isn’t about to pop up with any whistleblower reports denouncing the catastrophic collapse in fish and shellfish exports to Europe or the flight of £1.5 trillion in assets from the City of London since his beloved Brexit was implemented. Whenever a Conservative politician works himself up into a fit of moral apoplexy about another political party, the first question, indeed the only question, you need to ask yourself is – “What new Conservative outrage is he trying to distract us from?”

The Conservatives are desperate to keep this story going, because it sucks the oxygen out of discussion about their plans to increase the UK’s stockpile of nuclear Viagra. It was announced yesterday in the British Government’s defence and foreign policy review that far from the mealy mouthed platitudes that the British Government mouths about multilateral disarmament, the UK is in fact planning to acquire even more nuclear missiles. The decision shreds some three decades of efforts to gradually reduce the world’s stockpiles of nuclear weapons. The Johnson government wants to increase the number of nuclear warheads in the UK’s arsenal from 180 to 260, an increase of over 40%. It has been estimated that the detonation of just 100 warheads are enough to destroy all life on this planet. https://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2018/june/more-harm-than-good-assessing-the-nuclear-arsenal-tipping-point.html

But Boris Johnson wants even more. This is because he wants us to believe that the the UK is not sufficiently safe with just the ability to blow up the entire world and destroy all life on Earth a mere 1.8 times over. We’ll only be really safe when we’re able to destroy all life on Earth 2.6 times over. This Conservative government’s decision to boost the UK’s nuclear arsenal to 2.6 times what is sufficient to destroy all life on earth is the literal definition of overkill.

There is no new threat which requires this obscene increase in the UK’s destructive power. The likely threats faced by the UK which will require a response from the armed services remain those threats that arise from terrorism and the chaos that develops in failed states where the UK seeks to profit by selling weapons and tools of oppression to authoritarian governments. None of these threats can be neutralised or defended against with a nuclear submarine which carries eight missiles bearing up to five nuclear warheads each. Each of those warheads has a destructive potential eight times more powerful than the device which obliterated Hiroshima and killed over 140,000 civilians. The UK’s HMS Viagra for an impotent ex-empire carries a destructive power equivalent to 320 Hiroshimas.

Scotland will naturally be allocated its share of the costs of this massive and unnecessary expansion in the UK’s nuclear capacity. Scotland will be expected to cough up approxmately £1 billion so that the UK can keep up the pretence that it still remains a global superpower. That’s the only reason for this expansion in the size of the nuclear stockpile, it has nothing to do with keeping any of us safe and everything to do with allowing UK politicians to pretend to themselves that the British state remains an important and influential player in international geopolitics. The money will be loaded onto the GERs figures and will be cited in prettily coloured graphs as yet more “proof” that Scotland can’t possibly afford to become independent.

The extra warheads will be stored at the UK’s existing facilities on the Clyde. There they will do nothing to protect the people of the West of Scotland except to make them a target and to guarantee their instant evaporation in the event that nuclear hostilities break out.

This is a truly abhorrent decision which tells us all that we need to know about the spending priorities of a British government whose supporters are always quick to tell Scotland that it is too poor for independence and that independence would entail massive cuts to government spending. This is based upon the dubious premise that an independent Scotland would seek to replicate, to the last penny. the tax and spend priorities of a British state which spaffs hundreds of billions of pounds on an immoral weapons system which can never be used, because if it ever was used, we’d all be dead.

In order to ensure that Scotland can be used as a convenient parking place for this multi-billion pound obscenity, the Conservatives are happy to do all they can to undermine public faith in the only political party which can realistically deliver Scottish independence. The Tories don’t give a toss about Alex Salmond, all they care about is doing the maximum damage possible to the SNP weeks away from a critical election so that they can ensure that Scotland remains an obedient parking site for the UK’s nuclear pretensions and they can get on with their task of neutering and undermining Scottish self-government. That’s what this latest intervention is about, and that is all that it is about, not improving and strengthening the standards of government at Holyrood. Don’t be distracted.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership ,or about some other issue not directly related to Scottish independence – there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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Choices

In the cult TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race whenever one of the contestants makes a dubious or questionable decision, one of the other contestants will knowingly remark to the camera, “choices”. It’s certainly a matter of “choices” that the Conservative pitch to the voters in the upcoming Scottish elections seems to boil down to – it doesn’t actually matter whether you vote for us or not, you’ll be getting what we decide anyway. At least it’s a question of Conservative choices, the choices of the people of Scotland not so much. It’s hard not to escape the conclusion that the Tories would prefer just to do away with this election entirely. After all if you’re a party which is going into an election telling the voters that they are going to get your policies anyway no matter how they vote, it does beg the question of why are you bothering with any of this democracy business in the first place. If democracy is merely an ineffectual exercise which allows those in power to ignore what the people have actually voted for, then it isn’t democracy at all. That’s the position that the Conservative party have placed Scotland as a part of the UK in. We have the form of democracy but not its substance.

The pronouncements of Johnson and other figures in the Conservative party that they are not going to allow Scotland to hold another independence referendum no matter how the people vote are profoundly anti-democratic. A political party in a democracy has every right to make its case to the electorate about why it opposes a referendum. It has every right to explain to voters why it believes that such a policy is wrong-headed or damaging. However what it doesn’t have the right to do while still claiming to respect democracy is to impose its will on the people after the electorate have listened to their arguments, have voted, and have decided, “Naa, we still want a referendum anyway.” The entire point of an election is that the electorate gets to choose. It won’t come as news to you to learn that this is how democracy works, it certainly comes as news to the Tories.

After the first Scottish independence referendum the Smith Commission report concluded that “nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose”. All of Scotland’s major political parties including the Conservatives signed up to the Smith Commission and to its conclusions. There was no rider added to qualify that conclusion to say, “as long as that’s OK with the Conservatives. If following May’s election the people of Scotland choose to return a majority of MSPs from parties which support a policy of holding another independence referendum then the people of Scotland will have decided that they want another referendum within the lifetime of the next Scottish Parliament.
You might think that the Scottish media would be up in arms about the shocking decision of the Conservative party to preempt the democratic decisions of the people of Scotland. Or at least you might think that if you had no familiarity with how the Scottish media actually works. The Conservative party has unilaterally decided that the people of Scotland are not going to get what they vote for in May’s election yet instead of being furious at this and doorstepping Conservative politicians at every opportunity to demand that they explain their outrageous attempt to traduce democracy the great majority of the Scottish media simply shrugs its collective shoulders. That’s because the Scottish media has long since decided that it is not its job to hold power to account. Its job is to hold the SNP to account and to assist the Conservative and Labour parties in doing what they can to prevent Scottish independence.

Despite what the Conservatives claim the SNP and the majority of the independence movement do not want to hold another independence referendum in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. The plan is to hold a referendum once it is safe to do so. In any event it would be counterproductive for the independence movement to press ahead with a campaign while the epidemic is still raging and there are restrictions on public meetings, travel and social gatherings. Given that the media in Scotland is overwhelmingly opposed to independence and systematically stifles pro-independence arguments and criticisms of British government and Conservative policies which are damaging to Scotland’s interests, in order to get its case across, the independence cause is especially reliant upon the kinds of personalised face to face contacts and local events and meetings which have been most severely affected by lockdown restrictions. Unlike our British nationalist opponents we cannot rely upon the print and broadcast media to get our message across.

Of course what is really happening here is a perfect illustration of the democratic deficit in Scotland. The Conservative insistence that Scotland cannot get what Scotland votes for within the UK only reinforces the case for independence. If decisions about Scotland are to be subject to an effective veto by a British Government which enjoys only limited and minority support within Scotland and which derives its authority from a mandate given to it by voters elsewhere in the UK then it proves that the UK is not a partnership. It is simply a mechanism whereby the largest nation in the UK is enabled to enforce its will on the smaller nations.

The Conservatives have not hesitated to use that non-Scottish mandate to rip up the promises and commitments that they themselves made to the people of Scotland in order to secure a No vote in 2014, now they wish to use it to ensure that the people of Scotland have no democratic means of holding them to account. That is the real issue in Scottish politics, and that ought to be the real priority of anyone who desires Scottish independence. It’s why it’s vital that we ensure that the next Scottish Parliament has a strong pro-independence majority committed to holding another independence referendum as soon as it is safe to do so, because if we do not the Conservatives will continue their destruction of Scottish democracy and will make it impossible for the people of this country ever to hold them to account. The Tories have made their choices, this could be the last opportunity that the people of Scotland have to make theirs.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership ,or about some other issue not directly related to Scottish independence – there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

Please note there will be no blog article on Tuesday as I have to travel to Glasgow for another appointment at the hospital I will always insist on calling the Southern General. I am being assessed to see whether I am a suitable patient for a new experimental form of therapy which might assist stroke survivors to regain functional movement in the stroke-affected hand.

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Getting on with the day job

There was an interesting article in The National a few days ago by Mark McGeoghegan in which he argues that the recent tightening of the opinion polls is not due to the fallout from the botched investigation into Alex Salmond, which he says appears to have had a very limited impact on voter attitudes despite the single minded obsession with which the Scottish media and certain ostensibly pro-independence websites have pursued the story. (See https://www.thenational.scot/news/19158920.covid-vaccine-bounce-not-salmond-inquiry-explains-tightening-holyrood-race)

Rather he claims that the real factor which could deprive the SNP of winning an overall majority in May has got nothing to do with the obsessive hatred that some have for Nicola Sturgeon, neither is it related to the culture war issues which these same anti-Sturgeon zealots are all consumed by. These issues likewise fail to resonate with the large majority of the Scottish public. Instead, what is most likely to damage the SNP vote share is that the Conservatives have seized the credit for the successful roll out of covid vaccines across the UK. According to Mark what best explains the recent tightening in the polls is that the Tories are enjoying a “vaccine bounce”.

Of course in Scotland it is the Scottish Government which has been responsible for the vaccine programme, not the Johnson administration, but we live in a country where the news agenda is determined by a media which is overwhelmingly controlled outside Scotland and which is equally overwhelmingly opposed to Scottish independence. The success of the vaccine roll out in Scotland is drowned out by the news of the progress of vaccination elsewhere in the UK and a host of Conservative ministers lining up to take the credit for it. Meanwhile the Scottish media, aided and abetted by certain supposedly pro-independence websites, has not let up with its constant barrage of all the many and myriad ways in which they want us to believe that Nicola Sturgeon is an agent of Satan.

The voting public infamously has a short memory, hence the old adage that a week is a long time in politics. How people choose to vote often appears to be determined more by the events which are freshest in the mind rather than everything which came before. So despite the fact that the Conservatives’ handling of the covid pandemic has been worse than woeful, leaving the UK with one of the worst death tolls and the greatest economic damage suffered by any developed state, and despite the fact that the procurement of vital PPE equipment has been mired in rampant corruption, the public is prepared to overlook all that out of sheer relief that the success of the vaccination programme has generated hope that an end is in sight to the grinding frustrations, fears and worries of lockdown.

Some recent polling does suggest that the SNP remains on track to secure a majority in May. A poll earlier this week by YouGov puts the SNP on course to secure a majority of several seats. A poll published today by Panelbase for the Sunday Times puts support for independence neck and neck with opposition to it on 50% each and suggests that the SNP should still squeak to winning a narrow absolute majority in May.

Of course it’s important to point out that the benchmark for demonstrating that the voters of Scotland want another independence referendum is not to return an absolute majority for the SNP in a parliamentary election where the voting system has been designed to make it difficult for any single party to win an absolute majority. The benchmark is to return a majority of MSPs from pro-independence parties irrespective of whether that majority is comprised of the SNP by itself or the SNP in combination with other parties which support another independence referendum. Other parties also support another independence referendum, their votes and support don’t magically disappear just because the Conservatives insist that support for a second independence referendum can only be demonstrated by the SNP winning an absolute majority all by itself.

We would be just as justified in making the argument that Scotland had only voted against holding another independence referendum if the Conservatives manage to win a majority in May. Naturally the Tories would forcefully reject that argument. They are not the only party which opposes another referendum, but they hypocritically want to rely on the support of other parties which agree with them on the subject of another referendum while insisting that the SNP cannot count the support of other parties which agree that there should be a second independence referendum.

The good news is that despite all the recent infighting all polling points to there being a pro-independence majority in Holyrood following the May election. Ensuring that there is an SNP majority without the support of the Greens or other pro-independence parties merely deprives the Conservatives of wriggle room, it is not vital to ensuring Scotland’s democratic right to a second independence referendum.

Nevertheless the SNP remains the largest pro-independence party and it is vital that as independence supporters we do what we can to maximise the pro-independence vote and to reduce the vote share taken by the Conservatives. Certain critics of this blog have dismissed its focus on attacking the arguments and pretensions of the Conservatives by sniffily remarking that “we” already know that the Conservatives are vile. It follows from the observations of Mark McGeoghegan that “we” know no such thing. There remains a significant number of voters in Scotland who are, despite everything, still prepared to give the Conservatives the benefit of the doubt.

It is as important as ever that as independence campaigners and supporters we do not lose sight of who our real opponents are. That’s the Conservatives and their enablers in the Labour and Lib Dem parties. As we approach this crucial election we must not cease in our efforts to highlight the dangers that the Conservatives pose to Scottish democracy and to the devolution settlement. Neither can we give up on articulating the case for independence and formulating arguments which will appeal to undecided voters and soft-noes. Other blogs can do as they please but this site will continue to get on with the day job of attacking the parties of British nationalism and making the case for an independent Scotland.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership ,or about some other issue not directly related to Scottish independence – there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

Please note there will be no blog article on Tuesday as I have to travel to Glasgow for another appointment at the hospital I will always insist on calling the Southern General. I am being assessed to see whether I am a suitable patient for a new experimental form of therapy which might assist stroke survivors to regain functional movement in the stroke-affected hand.

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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