Comrade Salmond

Thanks to Jim Sillars, one of the egregious Alex ‘Eck’  Salmond’s predecessors, for an important home truth:

Writing in Holyrood magazine, Mr Sillars said: “If I did not know better,  I would easily believe the leaders had been schooled in the old Communist Party, where the top, the elite, made the decisions and the rest fell into step automatically, with not a word of dissent.

“Totalitarian would be a fair description of Scotland’s majority party. Those willing to be told to shut up seem happy to wait until the leadership issue edicts and statements, and follow whatever line is laid down for them.”

He concluded: “If  loyalty is taken to a point where an MSP, or even worse, a whole group of them, cannot balance loyalty to party with loyalty to principle and the interests of the people, then it becomes dumb loyalty; and that leads inevitably to an intellectually dumb party.”

He said it is impossible that the entire MSP group agrees with Mr Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney on everything “yet no one has dared tell them to get lost”.

Sillars was talking in part about the SNP line that Scotland can stay in NATO but mysteriously remain an “antinuclear party”, given that the UK’s nukes are partly located north of the border. However the description is perfect for the generally poor relationship between ruling parties, the voters, and those professional groups who are expected to implement intrinsically stupid policies, that have been neither discussed nor thought through.

The analogy with the Soviet Union is precisely what this blog has been highlighting (here, here and here) when pointing out the doomed “command economy” structure of the NHS. In England and Wales there remains a vestige of local control and diversity of healthcare delivery, in Scotland it’s a one-party state, protected (for the time being)  by Scotland’s uniquely lavish funding arrangements.

Sillars goes on:

He highlighted how many SNP MSPs won their seats using Holyrood’s list system, whereby voters supported “Alex Salmond for First Minister” instead of putting an ‘X’ next to an individual’s name.

The result is they owe their seat to Mr Salmond’s popularity, he argued, with the result they have become “delegates” of the SNP leadership instead of elected representatives of the people.

For example, he said they have staged no rebellions, organised no Westminster-style backbench groups to challenge party policy and even have to clear parliamentary questions with the leadership before asking them.

Mr Sillars, who remains an SNP member despite falling out with the First Minister, concluded that the Nationalist majority at Holyrood are the “most leadership-controlled party in the UK.”

It’s now 23 years since the Berlin wall came down, and the whole rotten and incompetent Soviet bloc fell apart. Half the UK population have no idea how bad things were then. They could always move to Scotland and wait for when the Barnett formula gets dumped.

The SNP conference was in session

Nuclear jazz

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Andre-Claude Lacoste is the head of Frances’s Nuclear Safety Authority, and one could reasonably assume is a fan of nuclear power. He is widely reported as saying that the unfolding Fukushima reactor crisis is “worse than Three Mile Island“, the famous partial core meltdown in Pennsylvania in 1979.

Europe apparently has an “energy commissioner” called Guenther Oettinger, who claimed somewhat excitably that “There is talk of an apocalypse and I think the word is particularly well chosen”. Guenther wasn’t referring to the tsunami (estimated death toll greater than 10,000) but to the Fukushima nuclear plant – current death toll…er…zero.

I don’t want to be too cynical, but the road traffic accident I dealt with three weeks ago was also worse than Three Mile Island, as two people died. Nobody died in Pennsylvania, either at the time or, so far as can be known, afterwards from radiation -induced cancer.

You might reasonably reinterpret TMI (and possibly Fukushima) as a tribute to the safety of nuclear power.

If we end up with an aged reactor that survives a massive earthquake, a colossal tsunami and horrendous logistical difficulties in managing the aftermath, it’s pretty impressive.

Time will tell, but Chris Huhne and his dopey mates need to put the champagne on ice for a bit longer. In the meantime, you have to admire the men tackling the problems on site, the Fukushima Fifty

****Two days after this post an almost identical article is printed in the Daily Mail.  Imitation…flattery….etc etc

*********** Even more alarmingly, 6 days later,  Crazy George Monbiot in the Guardian agrees. I must kill a few whales….clear blue water….yikes

*************** April 3rd, the Spectator Coffee House runs an excellent summary of the whole tsunami cost