This is brief, because not much needs to be said, so complete is the SNP’s descent from the commanding heights (or whatever) of arrogant Holyrood hegemony, to the current state of bickering, embarrassed, low energy, intellectually barren bewilderment. It didn’t take long.
45. Alex Salmond kindly provides further proof that he is an unfunny, unrefined bully
Otherwise known as his Fringe show. If Eck seriously thought that his opening ‘joke’ was actually funny, he has a problem. Given his longstanding propensity to marvel at his own wit, one doubts he has much insight. His doubling down insult was actually even worse, via an unnamed spokesman, suggesting that Scottish Labour – lead by lesbian Kezia Dugdale – were just miffed as they didn’t get a mention. Classy as always. His successor, Ms Sturgeon, struggled to support him, which may well be the start of a trend (see 47, below).
46. Scottish Nationalist Party leader belatedly regrets the word ‘nationalist’.
Possibly feeling shifty after the confected media/VIP overreaction to Trump’s press conference, Ms Sturgeon, also at the Edinburgh shindig, was put on the spot by Turkish writer Elif Shafak. Nicola claimed, wholly unconvincingly, given the last few years: “If I could turn the clock back . . . to the establishment of my party, and choose its name all over again, I wouldn’t choose the name it’s got just now.”
Really? Tell the zoomers that. Amusingly, whatever you think of them, neither Trump nor Farage ran on ‘Nationalist’ tickets. Unlike Le Pen and Hitler. Perhaps Nicola has finally seen the light.
47. Unemployment is a terrible thing.
It can open the door to bad behaviour and causing trouble, to fill all that empty time. Sacked (by the voters) former MP and ex newspaper columnist Alex Salmond is spending his days hanging round Edinburgh street corners, telling tall stories and claiming it was better when he was in charge. It’s already started (1, 2). One almost feels sorry for Nicola Sturgeon.
The wind has rather gone out of the sails of the whole SNP schtick. Those heady days of 2014 (up to 18th September that year) seem like last century.
So it seems a bit harsh to continue to point out their failings. However, I’m up for it.
39.The upper chamber beckons…
Here’s a Twitter snapshot series:
Yup, the Daily Record has mysteriously floated the idea of unemployed Eck hitting the House of Lords – where The Knife has personally sipped at the finest subsidised booze in the kingdom – followed quickly by the Scotsman doing the same thing. Funny that. It’s almost as if Eck is regretting his rash promise about rocks and the sun (his usual), to which the True Believers of the SNP still cling. Don’t hold your breath. Eck’s perceptively brilliant finger-on-the-pulse style of leadership is sorely missed.
Why, she demanded to know, genuine frustration in her voice, wasn’t Labour praising her achievements? Cruelly, Kezia Dugdale’s group broke into sarcastic applause and cheering. The SNP leader was baffled by it all. You would be too if you got your news from The National and had rules against internal party dissent that make the Chinese Communist politburo look like a model of open debate.
….and Twitter remains invaluable:
…watch the development from the last tweet. Gerald Warner is always precise:
So, a few little local difficulties, then, for the poor man’s Angela Merkel. At least she still has the consolation of being the highest paid politician in Britain, which suggests that, among the political class, remuneration is in inverse proportion to ability.
Gordon Brown ruined his own party partly by taking the Scots for granted, and amusingly if predictably, the Nats are copying him. Corbyn is now going for them. Corbyn of all people – Mr Free Stuff versus the party of Free Stuff. And if you read wise owl @euanmccolm, they don’t know what to do about it.
44.The Fringe beckons…
Salmond promises to talk about his relationship with Trump at this year’s Fringe. Heavily redacted, no doubt
As I often point out, none of this is about a problem with Scotland as such. It’s all about a problem with the SNP – who for the most part are bullying, limited, rabble rousing, unimaginative power freaks. They almost never make a legitimate case for independence based on sovereignty, with all the risks honestly explained.
That faintly nauseous feeling engendered by numerous politicians of various tribes, with the high points exemplified by the twin peaks of Blair and Obama in their hubristic primes. Yup, it’s got a name now, which I hadn’t quite twigged before.
It’s one of those bland words/phrases – think liberalism, neconservatism, social justice – which gets knocked about in the media and the political arena, often without people pausing to consider what it means.
Progressivism was imported from Europe and would result in a radical break from America’s heritage. In fact it is best described as an elitist-driven counterrevolution to the American Revolution, in which the sovereignty of the individual, natural law, natural rights, and the civil society — built on a foundation of thousands of years of enlightened thinking and human experience — would be drastically altered and even abandoned for an ideological agenda broadly characterized as “historical progress.”
Progressivism is the idea of the inevitability of historical progress and the perfectibility of man — and his self-realization — through the national community or collective… progressivism’s emphasis on material egalitarianism and societal engineering, and its insistence on concentrated, centralized administrative rule, lead inescapably to varying degrees of autocratic governance.
Yup, we can all recognise that, whether we like it or not. I’m a ‘not’. It’s the opposite of true democracy, subsidiarity, respect for others, charitable endeavour etc. A surefire way of stifling altruism and enterprise, of crushing freedom of thought and speech. It’s neither specifically Left nor Right. It is a horrible amorphous blob of state control. It has ravaged the UK (especially Scotland), parts of Europe and is trying to take over the USA.
The author of the above is populist (and popular) Jewish intellectual, Mark Levin.
There is a lot of bullshit about when it comes to describing ideologies, political philosophy, the roles of the state and the individual, all that stuff – but I reckon the above description is a keeper. It always helps to know your enemy.
38. Things aren’t going too well over in Hyndland and Bute Square. If you’ve sampled any of the earlier blog posts on this topic, you’ll realise that I am neither a fan of the SNP, nor a believer that they will get their alleged goal of independence. I know it’s a minority view and possibly wrong, but even Nat knuckleheads are probably happier with the current happy state of perpetual whining whilst not having to worry about where the cash comes from, than actually having to govern responsibly.
That said, it must be bad when a True Believer like Kevin McKenna over at the Glasgow Herald has lost faith.
I would quote the whole article, but I can’t be fagged to pay them any money (paywall) or even sign up for a freebie. The first two paragraphs seem to suffice. A bitchy pop at Ruth Davidson, presumably followed by a discussion of ‘the cowed pygmies of the SNP’. A phrase that I could get used to:
THIS ought to have been a time of hope for the SNP government and those in the wider Scottish independence movement. Instead, where there ought to have been optimism and a renewed sense of purpose there is now doubt.Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, will continue to proclaim her leading role in sowing the seeds of uncertainty among the Yes movement but she is deluding herself if she seriously believes this to be the case. Her party’s success in securing 13 seats at the General Election has been built on fear and loathing of others.
There is a reason why she is desperate to avoid a second referendum on Scottish independence: her party, devoid of anything resembling a policy, has gorged itself on Scotland’s constitutional uncertainty. Once this has been settled one way or another she knows her party will retreat to the margins of Scottish public life.
Nationalist solidarity with the working classes ahoy!
The more I study politics and especially the ways in which it is reported, the more I come to realise that the motives of media journalists are often no more noble or sophisticated than the average Twitter troll (personal disclosure: I am an average Twitter troll).
So when the wolves come for Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, Mrs May’s close advisors, it doesn’t mean that all of the message they were promoting was wrong. Indeed this links with a corollary, that Mr Corbyn’s (very relative) success does not mean that his mad prescriptions were right or practical.
In any event, the overriding issue (along with terrorism) is social care. As someone who doesn’t stand to inherit a bundle of cash anyway, I greatly dislike the notion that it is better for me and my children to fund other people’s parents’ and grannies’ care in old age, just so their inheritance can be bigger. In fact, my feelings are more than ‘greatly dislike’. So the Tory plan for social care was brave and necessary, if only to kickstart the discussion as opposed to kicking the can down the road.
The biggest complaint, though, was about our social care proposals. You can criticise the policy, but we need to be honest with ourselves. Since we have an ageing population, we need to spend more on health and care, and we need to decide how to pay for it. We can ask older people to meet the costs, subject to certain protections, from the wealth they have accrued through life, or we can tax younger generations even more. Somehow we have reached a point where older people with assets expect younger, poorer people to pay for their care. With Britain’s demographics, that is not sustainable; neither is it socially just.
It’s nice to be right, and it’s been going on in this blog since last September. I mean the specific issue of SNP failure, rather than just well deserved SNP loathing. Most sentient observers could see it too, but much of the feeble media tended not to dwell on the now obvious trend**. The current SNP mob have now had it re independence and the whole Salmond/Sturgeon cult-of-personality-love-in, is a busted flush.
Wonderful. Given that the SNP demand unquestioning loyalty, it’s nice to see tweets like this morning’s:
Obviously it would have been even better if Pete Wishart and Stephen Gethins had lost their seats (stay tuned), but I’m fairly happy.
Scotland is a great country, and the SNP have done it no end of harm.
** this is a typical piece of wise-after-the-event. Honestly, guys
Those people who are openly dismayed that they see Trump ripping up the institutions and processes of sane stable government are wrong.
They’re also missing the point.
Trump often has the manner and superfical effect of a wrecking ball, but since 1997 in the UK and 2001 in the US, both countries have been decimated by the slow motion wrecking balls of New Labour, the Bush foreign adventures and the Obama Terror. Do I sound like some sort of right wing Trumpian monster? Possibly I do, but like many voters I am not ideological other than in the vague ‘less government in our lives would be better’ way. And like all voters there are specific issues that I would like to see dealt with. We can disagree on our wants and our priorities, but whatever they are, most voters want pragmatic government that works.
Why do I think Trump is not destroying the institutions of power? Well, it’s in the evidence so far. Charles Krauthammer’s take six weeks ago is pretty much spot on:
The strongman cometh, it was feared. Who and what would stop him? Two months into the Trumpian era, we have our answer.
Our checks and balances have turned out to be quite vibrant. Consider: The courts Trump rolls out not one but two immigration bans, and is stopped dead in his tracks by the courts. However you feel about the merits of the policy itself (in my view, execrable and useless but legal) or the merits of the constitutional reasoning of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (embarrassingly weak, transparently political), the fact remains: The president proposed and the courts disposed. Trump’s pushback? A plaintive tweet or two complaining about the judges — that his own Supreme Court nominee denounced (if obliquely) as “disheartening” and “demoralizing.” The states Federalism lives. The first immigration challenge to Trump was brought by the attorneys general of two states (Washington and Minnesota) picking up on a trend begun during the Barack Obama years when state attorneys general banded together to kill his immigration overreach and the more egregious trespasses of his Environmental Protection Agency. And beyond working through the courts, state governors — Republicans, no less — have been exerting pressure on members of Congress to oppose a Republican president’s signature health-care reform. Institutional exigency still trumps party loyalty. Congress The Republican-controlled Congress (House and Senate) is putting up epic resistance to a Republican administration’s health-care reform. True, that’s because of ideological and tactical disagreements rather than any particular desire to hem in Trump. But it does demonstrate that Congress is no rubber stamp. And its independence extends beyond the perennially divisive health-care conundrums. Trump’s budget, for example, was instantly declared dead on arrival in Congress, as it almost invariably is regardless of which party is in power
Not that I necessarily agree with all these opposing moves, the point is that there is relatively little absolute power outwith national crises and wartime, and all presidents must exist within a system. That system is entirely intact. Of course, in those areas where Trump has shown real skill, he gets little credit from the establishment.
The real damage occurred with his predecessors. The same happened in the UK under Blair, it’s happening now in various parts of Europe courtesy of the EU. Australia and Canada come and go a bit, but it really has been a classical Gramsci/Dutschke ‘long march through the institutions’. There is no better example of the occasionally overt nature of this than the US Supreme Court wrangling – surely all judges should be politically neutral in their work? If only.
Trump and inevitably, Brexit, are the most prominent examples of pushback against this infiltrative game changing. That’s all. And despite the risks and occasional misdemeanours, I welcome both. Particularly when I consider the alternatives. The Trump presidency so far, like Brexit and the associated Remain sulking, has done nothing that changes my mind on this.
There is a good analogy. When I was a teenager back in the 70’s the British cultural and music scene was hardly vibrant. Superannuated hippies made dull long winded and overhyped LP’s, gigs were often tedious doped up snooze fests. Even one’s parents were comfortable with it all. Then came punk. Not just a musical phenomenon (though the best is still great), more of a kicking over the traces cultural paradigm shift that was in some ways absolutely tremendous. The country had a totally different mood. And the Establishment suffered acute Fear and Loathing in response. But there was no threat, no real damage, no real animosity. It was fun. By 1981 it was over, pretty much, as the appalling New Romantics took over, and we’ve never had it again. Four years max.
In fact, as I survey in middle age the current music scene (indeed, nearly everything since the mid 90’s) I shudder at the complacency and derivative boring rubbish that is out there. Punk was great.
And that’s how I see Trump (and Brexit). How I hate the proclamations of stultifying conventional career progressing professional political types, of whatever party. Boring earnestness usually goes with platitudes, sanctimony, virtue signalling and complete ineffectivenness. That applies to all parties – though some are worse than others. If you become an apostate then the humourless horde try to destroy you. Trump is an antidote, possibly only temporary, like the Punk Era, but welcome all the same. He doesn’t give a toss, he’s spontaneous, he often means well, he’s unconventional**, deeply flawed, funny and rides his luck. His enemies almost uniformly underrate, dismiss and fear him, in one confused bundle. Good for him.
One of the mission statements of this blog is from the late John von Kannon: “If I can’t have good government, give me entertaining government”.
And you only have to look at who’s against him (and Brexit), to get that little heartwarming glow.
**fascinatingly, the day after I wrote this, here is the highly experienced Robert Gates – former CIA and Defence Secretary, with bipartisan support – talking about Trump:
Broadly philosophically, I’m in agreement with his disruptive approach. So in government, I’m a strong believer in the need for reform of government agencies and departments. They have gotten fat and sloppy and they’re not user-friendly. They are inefficient. They cost too much. I also think on the foreign policy side that there is a need for disruption. We’ve had three administrations follow a pretty consistent policy toward North Korea, and it really hasn’t gotten us anywhere. So the notion of disrupting and putting the Chinese on notice that it’s no longer business as usual for the United States I think is a good thing. Now the question is, obviously, in the implementation of disruption. On the foreign policy side, there’s the risk of being too spontaneous and too disruptive where you end up doing more harm than damage. Figuring out that balance is where having strong people around you matters.
36 (in a continuing series): Hard facts from intelligent people
I am indebted to the legendary patriot @BrianSpanner1 for this absolute gem of brevity and hard fact, taken from a letter to the Scotsman last July, written by retired law professor Alistair Bonnington.
It introduces a refreshing real world analysis to the SNP’s fantasy role-playing as a proper government. It’s even more relevant now than when it was written. Magnificent.
Thanks to last Thursday’s local (council) elections, we have a new snapshot on the Scottish political state of play. Nobody usually cares much about these episodes, although they can be fairly consequential. These latest polls are getting attention – correctly – as a political barometer.
34. The ‘Yes cities’ are not actually Yes cities
We heard a lot of guff about Scotland’s two ‘Yes cities’ after the 2014 referendum, these being Glasgow and Dundee. There’s a faintly patronising edge to the interpretation of this, that they voted Yes for independence because of their economic struggles compared to Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Maybe, but also maybe not. It’s one view, but not one that really favours the SNP’s independence cause – surely they would rather the punters were ideologically in favour of secession, not just after a bit more cash?
In any event, despite Economics Titan Alex Salmond boldly predicting an independent Scotland swimming in oil money, the bottom has still dropped out of that market, and decommissioning rigs is looking like the new mini-bonanza. Not a nation-building foundation, I would suggest. One doubts that the Scottish economy (flatlining at best) is going to turn Glasgow and Dundee around, and yet they still didn’t vote for majority SNP councils. In Dundee they actually lost their majority (see ‘decline’) and in Glasgow, despite more advance publicity than a Led Zeppelin comeback gig, they achieved the much desired peak of ‘no overall majority’.
I should add that both Glasgow and Dundee are perfectly nice places to live and should not be pawns in some weird Nationalist game. I’d rather live in either of them than most other places in Scotland.
35. Scottish people do not reflexively hate Tories, nor do they mysteriously love the EU***
…which are two of the Nats’ biggest claims. Who, even in France and Germany, loves the wretched EU?
Here’s the evidence, taken from the SNP’s own house rag, The Nat’onal:
Doing the sums, the Scottish electorate was 3,987,112, and 1,661,191 voted Remain but 1,018,322 voted to Leave. That’s 642,869 more people wanted to Remain. A big number, but not a massive difference in some ways. I wouldn’t take it as a proof of a deep and abiding love for the EU. More than a million voters still wanted to leave. Looked at another way, given the turnout, 41.7% of the electorate (so less than half) positively wanted to Remain, and 25.5% wanted to Leave. I’m not claiming it was terribly close, but simply correcting the frankly daft notion that all Scots are gutted by the thought of leaving the EU. Far from it, and with a turnout of 67.2%, it should be noted that a third of voters couldn’t be arsed to express a view. I suspect that this lot are not all secret Eurofanatics, however. The UK turnout was 72.2%, so the Scots were notably more apathetic than the rest of the UK. That refers to the situation last year. It looks like the EU is a lot less popular in Scotland now.
Anyway, the SNP and the rest of us were all agreed that the local election results would be harbingers of the imminent general election. Suddenly they seem less keen on that line. Why would that be?
*** shortly after I posted this blog, this outstanding piece by the highly erudite and well informed Tom Gallagher (@cultfree54 on Twitter), appeared on Policy Exchange. Recommended
You don’t have to be religious to enjoy the victory of the Little Sisters of the Poor yesterday, although it helps.
The media yesterday, in the UK and to an extent in the US, hugely downplayed Trump’s passage of an Obamacare replacement through Congress, even though there are still a few challenges ahead. The Guardian, as one example, bafflingly are using the picture on the right as their main US headline, at the time of me writing this. We know you don’t like him guys, but was that really the main news event?
Two things happened: the Obamacare replacement already mentioned, the lack of which was being gleefully touted until about two days ago by people who should know better, as an emblem of Trump’s abject failures. The second is Trump’s executive order on religious freedom, which led to the press conference which is shown below. As Trump said, and it’s hard to claim he’s wrong: “I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution”. (Read this for more background).
There were parts of Obamacare that were good in theory, although the victims of the private insurance/Medicare/Medicaid situation that preceded it were primarily the middle classes rather than the poor and indigent. It was the middle classes who didn’t qualify for state aid who were hammered financially. However, Obamacare was always a rotten business model, and that’s all it was. It wasn’t healthcare – that’s provided by clinicians – and it wasn’t even insurance, as there was not enough ‘this might not happen’ element to it, which is the essence of house, car, health, dog insurance, whatever. If the new bill includes adequate coverage for pre-existing conditions, it will be better. Obamacare had had it anyway, even before yesterday’s news.
Perhaps Obama should have been more open about it, and gone for a US NHS, funded from taxation. I’m a big fan of the NHS. I have worked in it for more than 30 years, I don’t do private work, but it is desperately in need of reform. It has suffered terribly from technological advances, in a financial sense – and they’re far from being all good clinically – but also from mission creep, much of it led by the dreaded Public Health cabal and various politicians after an easy boost. It is far from Nye Bevan’s original vision. In a very perceptive Standpoint article on all this, John Torode wrote:
…however much the rest of the world allegedly envied our brave new health service, not one nation of any significance turned envy into action. Pretty well every advanced liberal democracy, from Germany to Israel, from France to the Scandinavian nations, chose fundamentally different models of health provision…..some problems are common to all health services. We live longer and need more, and more expensive, attention for chronic conditions in our old age. Medical science and technology have grown ever more complex and costly. But our rigid, unresponsive, centralised system, designed by state-socialists and run by bureaucrats, serves neither patients nor practitioners. It merely exacerbates the difficulties.
A working Glasgow GP, Margaret McCartney, wrote a great piece on the very real problem, both ethical and financial, of modern healthcare pursuing life at all costs:
Death is inevitable, but frequently seen as an inadequacy in medicine or treatment. Harpal Kumar, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said on the radio recently that his aim was to ensure that no one died of cancer any more. But we are still going to die, so what are we to die of? Is every death to be fought back with all of medicine’s might, and to be always considered its failure?
Well worth reading it all, but I digress. Back to BO and the nuns, where it just so happens that healthcare was the field on which he chose to fight. I wrote a blog 5 years ago that predicted Obama’s demise on this. He picked on the wrong people, and he did it in a stupid and vindictive way. He may have won his two elections for reasons that are many and varied – not particularly about good governance though – but his signature legislation is now dead. I had a Ford Fiesta that lasted longer than Obamacare. And he completely deserves the humiliation that it brings. Even his buddies in the Washington Post were aghast:
Both radicalism and maliciousness are at work in Obama’s decision — an edict delivered with a sneer. It is the most transparently anti-Catholic maneuver by the federal government since the Blaine Amendment was proposed in 1875 — a measure designed to diminish public tolerance of Romanism, then regarded as foreign, authoritarian and illiberal. Modern liberalism has progressed to the point of adopting the attitudes and methods of 19th-century Republican nativists….Obama is claiming the executive authority to determine which missions of believers are religious and which are not — and then to aggressively regulate institutions the government declares to be secular. It is a view of religious liberty so narrow and privatized that it barely covers the space between a believer’s ears.
Hence the title of this post. Take it away Percy Bysshe Shelley…
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;