The SNP: decline and fall (7)

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Er….

Perhaps the neatest summary of the state of play of the SNP in power is from the erudite and perceptive farmer/historian/Hellenophile/linguist, Victor Davis Hanson. He is describing the then mayor of NYC, billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s inadequacy in the basic tasks that he’d been given:

The Bloomberg syndrome is a characteristic of contemporary government officials. When they are unwilling or unable to address premodern problems in their jurisdictions — crime, crumbling infrastructure, inadequate transportation — they compensate by posing as philosopher kings who cheaply lecture on existential challenges over which they have no control.

A second independence referendum is exactly that, something over which they have no control. Hanson poses a question, to which in Scotland the answer appears to be yes:

Do our smug politicians promise utopia because they cannot cope with reality? Do lectures compensate for inaction?

So with that in mind, here’s the latest choices from a cornucopia of SNP nonsense…

24. The creative use of the conditional

Thanks to Wikipedia for this: The conditional mood (abbreviated cond) is a grammatical mood used to express a proposition whose validity is dependent on some condition, possibly counterfactual. It thus refers to a distinct verb form that expresses a hypothetical state of affairs, or an uncertain event, that is contingent on another set of circumstances. So far then, regarding the fabled Indyref2, we’ve had:

The Scottish First minister claimed autumn 2018 would be the ‘common-sense time’

The SNP leader has claimed a vote on separation is ‘highly likely’ and has now given her clearest hint yet that Scotland could be just 18 months away from another vote…if that is the road we choose to go down.

Pressed on the timing of a possible second referendum while on BBC Two’s Brexit: Britain’s Biggest Deal, the First Minister said she was “not ruling anything out”.

Sturgeon said that if May failed to do so, then “proposing a further decision on independence wouldn’t simply be legitimate, it would almost be a necessary way of giving the people of Scotland a say in our own future direction”.

A Scottish Government source said: “We have made clear an independence referendum is very much on the table as an option if it becomes clear it is the best or only way to protect our vital national interests.”

Ms Sturgeon has warned another independence referendum is “almost inevitable” in the event of a hard Brexit and has hinted she could name the date for a new vote next month.

…and so on and so on and so on. I know that the highly overrated Sturgeon – who must now be looking over her shoulder at a predictably unpleasant sight– has to placate the noisy zoomer fraternity, but every sentient citizen of Scotland is rapidly getting fed up of this political footsie.

25. An opposition that works (a bit)

Which, bizarrely, is a Tory one.

26. There’s still no money

Says who? Er…says Salmond’s own economic guru, nice guy Andrew Wilson. Which lead to the correct response (from @murdo_fraser), “If the SNP is now admitting oil is a bonus, it must set out which taxes would rise and what public services would be cut in order to fill an independent Scotland’s £15bn deficit.”

27. A new referendum has never been less popular.

According to this poll: A Panelbase survey of 1,020 voters for the Sunday Times found that support for an “indyref2” before Brexit — which is scheduled to happen by March 2019 — dropped from 43% last June to just 27% last week. The poll also found that 51% of Scots oppose a second referendum within the next “few” years.

28. The SNP are hopeless at governing. Still.

The dismal education record of Scotland under the SNP actually lead to that very rare beast – a productive Holyrood debate. As Labour’s Iain Gray put it: “Yes, our schools need reform. But, above all, our schools need more teachers with more support, more time and more resources to do their job. That is the core reform. Failure to deliver it is the defining characteristic of the SNP decade in charge of education.”

29. Alex Salmond declares war, or something, by invading a playpark in Aberdeenshire.

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He’s increasingly reminiscent of Captain Mainwaring in Dad’s Army, and if Eck thought this would be a credible photo-op, I fear he’s mistaken. However it did provide one comedy highlight of the culture that prevails in parts of The Democratic Republic of Scotland (see pics below, my thanks to ).

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ellon2
Who’s Eck’s new pal on the right?

The SNP: decline and fall (6)

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…it’s a Christmas festive bonanza of Nat uselessness. There’s almost too much to write about, so I’ll try to keep it brief (with the relevant links)

18. Scottish education – judged by outcomes rather than platitudes – plumbs new depths

If you’re not in the position (about £11000 per annum is good value) to send your child to a private school  – and they are booming, for obvious reasons – then you can enjoy the state system. The great Gerald Warner summed it up better than me in this essential piece. Bottom line: since the SNP took over in 2007, numeracy and literacy have plummeted, compared to the rest of the world. This is using robust OECD figures released this month, even the official Scottish data suggests that “28% of P7 pupils are not achieving required levels of literacy and numeracy”. As The Donald would say, that’s yuuge. This is way worse than England, despite the generous Scottish per capita funding. It’s serious.

19. Possibly related – SNP MP can’t spell

Angus MacNeil has never come across as a sharp tool, so to speak. If you’re going to employ public scorn, then avoid spelling your insults incorrectly. This was back in June, but it’s too good to miss

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20. SNP superstar Derek Mackay talks gobbledegook 

His predecessor as Cabinet Secretary for Finance and various other things , John Swinney, whilst not being in any way outstanding was at least fairly calm, polite and experienced (it’s a low bar in Scotland). Along comes university dropout Mackay and he’s not short of chutzpah, but he rarely makes any sense. Judge for yourself, if you can bear it. Everything is about creating confusion and scoring cheap points and headlines, to the point where he makes Gordon Brown seem an honest, transparent and prudent financier.

The associated budget is similarly misleading, dishonest and moronic. The remarkable work of @kevverage and @FraserWhyte81 is assiduously documented in the former’s essential blog. It can get complicated, but this is heroic stuff. So accurate and thorough are the analyses that these guys are true Nat hate figures, yet all the media read them. The inconvenient truth is that:

1. the figures don’t suggest that the Scots have been victims of Sturgeon’s favourite accusation of “osterrty”,

2. there’s been some very dodgy manipulation of the numbers.

A very credible independence supporter (and a Nat insider), Alex Bell, sums it up.

21. Exciting new Sturgeon Brexit plan is shot down by her own team

This one could run and run. It’s really a variation on a theme, that being milking Brexit to make weird links to the ‘next’ referendum. None of it is real world stuff. Iain Martin is always good on this, and he’s had enough.  If they’re not already, I reckon the entire UK will soon be fed up with the whole Hard/Soft Brexit rubbish beloved of a diminishing claque of politicos and hacks. As it happens, Europhile  Charles Grant is the latest member of her own team to discredit it.  At one point do even the zoomers lose faith?  And at one point do the SNP begin to respond to the concerns of  Scots who didn’t vote for them, or who did vote for Brexit? (I’m not holding my breath on this one). The summary that keeps cropping up is uncomfortable in the extreme for mad Nat Remainers, to wit:

Scottish exports to the EU total £11.6bn

Scottish exports to the rest of the world total £15.2bn

And Scottish exports to the rest of the UK total £48.5bn –  64% of the total.

 

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@ScottyNational tell it like it is

22. News in brief

Difficult to keep up with the SNP  elected members who are in trouble. Is Tasmina bankrupt yet? Dodgy Michelle Thomson was still ‘reaching out’ to her former bosses back in July. Is slanderous donations queen Natalie McGarry in or out? How is the credit card activity going these days?

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…where to begin with this one?

23. Humza and trains

I’m worn out, just look it up (1,2) if you’re interested.

……to be continued….

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The SNP: decline and fall (4)

15. Objective evidence that the SNP are very bad at grown up government things.

I should have put this in yesterday’s batch of Nat failure and cock ups, but perhaps it deserves a post of its own. All governments work within a necessary system of checks and balances, without which the SNP dream of a tartan totalitarian dictatorship would quickly emerge. Many of them are beneath the radar – advice from government lawyers, things like that. In terms of public display though, the latest NHS round up from the sort-of-independent Audit Scotland, from the end of October, contains some depressing gems. I can do no better than quote from the Lib Dems (something I never thought I’d write):

Last week, the First Minister told us that she wants to be judged on her record. This week, Audit Scotland published a damning report on her government’s record on the NHS. The SNP claim to have protected investment in our NHS. Audit Scotland say that funding has been cut in real terms by nearly 1% over the last 7 years. Two health boards have been forced to take out loans from the Scottish Government just to break even. The SNP claim that things are getting better in our health service. Audit Scotland say that national performance against key targets and standards is getting worse. Waiting times targets have been missed and missed again. Health boards have experienced huge problems in recruiting and retaining qualified staff. Territorial health boards spent £284 million in 2014/15 for temporary workers, an increase of 15% from the previous year.

Quite. As the Auditor General for Scotland pointed out:  “The Scottish government has had a policy to shift the balance of care for over a decade but, despite multiple strategies for reform, NHS funding has not changed course. Before that shift can occur, there needs to be a clear and detailed plan for change, setting out what the future of the NHS looks like, what it will cost to deliver and the workforce numbers and skills needed to make it a reality.” That’s more than 10 years of talking crap about change, which is always just around the corner. In fact the much heralded Integration of Health and Social Care Act – wholly owned by the SNP – came into reality in April, and no-one’s noticed any difference yet.

It’s not actually the current health minister’s fault – she is just the latest incumbent of the office in an arrogant administration of people who are cocky, but not…competent. And it’s not just in health either. So demented is the obsession with money in Scotland’s taxpayer-subsidised universities, Scottish students are being blatantly disadvantaged in favour of lucrative fees from elsewhere, one third of places go to non-Scots, and it’s getting worse.

The Scottish NHS is fixated on arbitrary targets, well beyond the sensible ones relating to emergency care and cancer treatment. It’s missed them all, with one happy exception, the ‘drug and alcohol treatment is being delivered on time’.

Just as well really

 

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I’ve no complaints

 

 

The SNP: Decline and Fall (2)

A continuing series charting the Scottish National Party, and its very overrated leader, Nicola Sturgeon’s inevitable downward trajectory (part one here):

11. Three high up Nats advise Nicola to calm down

Yes, in a party where free thinking is actually verboten, the Glorious Leader has had to endure public dissent. Kenny MacAskill, the man who freed the convicted murderer and terrorist Megrahi (though in reality just a handy frontman for the unholy cabal of Blair, Salmond and Jack Straw) in a hilariously lugubrious and pompous speech, and Alex Neil, the amiable ex Cabinet Secretary for Health, last seen being chased around a hospital car park by an irate ex-follower, have suggested that Nicola buttons it going on and on about a second independence referendum. As sentient people now realise, she only does this to placate the zoomer element – she doesn’t actually want a referendum – but boy is it irritating. So far as anyone knows, MacAskill and Neil have yet to be stealthily ‘disappeared’. The third Nat, Bruce Crawford is quite experienced and quite normal, he’s now the finance committee chairman and is actually doing what he’s meant to do by insisting that the draft Scottish budget be adequately scrutinised. Admittedly his stern critique was addressed to apparatchik Derek Mackay, rather than Sturgeon herself, but the point was well made. Such appalling adherence to basic democratic instincts is currently a thought crime of the most heinous sort.

12. The SNP redefine the word ‘crowd’

It’s a long way from the heady days of Salmond encouraging unruly marches on the Glasgow BBC HQ to the latest ‘crowd’ gathered in George Square, Glasgow, to…er…go on and on about a second independence referendum. As STV news primly observed “around 200 people attended the event throughout the day”. Which is probably about the same as my outpatient clinic area, on any one day.

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…stop pushing at the back..

 

13. The polls haven’t moved, except Nicola is more unpopular

YouGov at the end of August were quite clear about this: ” just 37% of Scots backing a second independence referendum and 50% opposed. Should they be successful in forcing another vote, the results would be almost identical to last time, with 54% of Scots voting against independence and 46% in favour”

Ho hum. However, they found that the hated Tories’ leader Ruth Davidson is, strangely, not hated “Overall, 46% of Scots think that Davidson is doing well, compared to 25% who think she is doing badly, giving her a net score of +21 compared to Sturgeon’s +20. Kezia Dugdale, by contrast, is seen as doing badly with a net score of -17” 

Poor old Kez is pretty useless. She managed to save Sturgeon from Holyrood defeat by failing to vote herself. However, in the relevant debate NS was at her shrill, unpleasant, hectoring unprofessional worst. Hopefully we’ll be getting it on YouTube in due course. Statesmanlike she is not.

……to be continued…

Scotland's First Minister Sturgeon is welcomed by EC President Juncker ahead of a meeting in Brussels
…where to start with this one…

 

 

 

The SNP: Decline and Fall (1)

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What do we want?…..banning of wild animals in circuses!! When do we want it?….er…now?

A few years ago The Knife wrote a brief summary piece about the now happily discredited Alex Salmond’s ongoing attempt to use his acclaimed gifts of lying and bullying to make Scotland independent (AKA ‘still dependent, but on someone other than those English bastards’). My post was entitled Alex Salmond: My Part in His Downfall. Older readers may recognise this as an allusion to one of Spike Milligan’s war memoirs –  Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall. It’s a catchy phrase, but I wouldn’t want it to be taken as yet another tiresome comparison to a well known ranting demagogic bigoted nationalist despot. Heaven forbid.

The above title repeats the literary steal, in this case channelling Evelyn Waugh. I know it’s unoriginal. Oddly enough, long after my Salmond post, an excellent book appeared with the same title, written by one of the true cognoscenti in Scottish political hackery, Alan Cochrane, most recently of the Daily Telegraph, though I’m unclear whether he’s still there, given their axe swinging. It would be their loss. Cochrane is an amiable fellow and a wonderful writer, who has delighted millions with his precise and knowledgeable takes on whatever malign nonsense the SNP are promulgating in any one week.

In this respect Nicola Sturgeon is every bit as bad as the wretched Salmond, she just tends to get better press because she’s less unpleasant to the media. Her ‘achievements’ in power are limited, to put it politely. The trouble with even the well-intentioned balanced media, is that so many of them are remote from the battlefield. Superb writers like Fraser Nelson amped up the independence threat before the 2014 referendum when in all honesty it was never a goer. It still isn’t. The Nats are still benefiting from the same distant reporting, when Sturgeon’s every cliched appeal to her base is recycled weekly with the threat that another referendum is round the corner. It isn’t.

The two writers who are best on this are Gerald Warner, and Cochrane, who both now feature on the newish website of another fine analyst, Iain Martin, called Reaction. Martin is a Scot living in London, who is thankfully far more robust in his opinions and insights than most of the expat hacks. Don’t get me wrong – there a quite a few left in Scotland, like Euan McColm and Stephen Daisley, but not enough. The Nats don’t appreciate their work.

Here is Cochrane, on great form, this week:

…the only people I hear even considering another referendum are either SNP stalwarts or journalists desperate for a story.

Ms Sturgeon has to keep the referendum threat on the boil to keep the daftest of her supporters on side, even if sober-sided realists in the Nat ranks – such as former leader Gordon Wilson, one-time deputy leader Jim Sillars and ex Scottish Cabinet member Alex Neill – have extremely grave doubts about the prospects of another independence vote.

To keep the zealots happy and feed the fears of all in London – whether London Scotties or Tory ministers – she’s been forced to make roughly the same speech, albeit with her fingers and toes firmly crossed, every couple of weeks, warning that independence is still very much on the cards because of Brexit….. It is a fact that the prospect of another independence referendum will keep rearing its ugly head as we enter the conference season, with the issue certain to dominate the Nats Glasgow event in  October. But it is extremely doubtful if circumstances – especially on the economy where an independent Scotland would face a £15 billion black hole – will change much.

As a result my advice to my Anglo-Scot colleagues is simple one: Stay by your phones, lads, I shall tell you when to panic.

Perfect. Despite such sense, it can be hard to discern this stuff. Two of the doughtiest campaigners that I know, both against a Yes vote in the 2014 referendum  – one a journalist, one a politician – were  deeply concerned that their resounding victory was just a pause in the fight. I don’t think so. Here’s Warner on a similar theme:

A second independence referendum would be meaningless since only Westminster can authorise a binding plebiscite. All Sturgeon’s referendum would amount to – if she were ever rash enough to waste Scottish taxpayers’ money on holding it – is a glorified opinion poll, with no constitutional significance whatsoever. Even in those circumstances Sturgeon would be insane to risk it, since current opinion polls show Brexit has had no effect on voters’ opinions on the Union and the SNP could expect to be thrashed again, burying the separatist issue at least for a generation.

Unfortunately Sturgeon’s announcement came just 24 hours before the publication of this year’s GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) figures; it may even have been a cackhanded attempt to distract attention from them. The latest statistics represented the SNP’s worst nightmare.

The GERS figures showed Scotland’s deficit now stands at a crippling £14.8 billion, or 9.5 per cent of GDP, compared with 4 per cent for the UK. Oil revenues have plunged from their peak by 97 per cent to a derisory £60m. If Nicola thinks these are favourable conditions in which to fight an independence referendum, good luck to her.

He’s actually being polite. He can be a lot more biting (and funny).

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I’m sorry to have to break this to you ladies…

In fact, it has occurred to quite a few people, including myself, that despite the endless hype, the SNP’s trajectory is not at all good, not for their alleged dream. (I have a theory that the few wise heads don’t actually want independence. Far too much hassle and responsibility, if they can just get along enjoying the perks, the aggro, and a certain kind of low rent adulation from folk who don’t know any better). So I thought I’d do a quick recent timeline. It speaks for itself.

1. Scottish Independence Referendum 18th September 2014

…a relatively easy win for No, despite a wildly aggressive and triumphalist campaign by Nat maniacs: The “No” side won, with 2,001,926 (55.3%) voting against independence and 1,617,989 (44.7%) voting in favour.

Remember that we only had a referendum because Cameron rather nobly agreed to it after Salmond unexpectedly won an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament in 2011. In retrospect that was their high water mark and it generated colossal quantities of Salmond hubris and hot air. It doesn’t take much.

We had something of a lull then, despite almost constant drivel from excitable Nats about “Indyref2”, even though they’d just been decisively gubbed in Indyref1.

2.UK General election 7th May 2015

It may seem odd to include this, but even though the Nats sent 56 clones to Westminster, their hated enemy, the Conservatives won an overall majority and were clearly not interested in Indyref2, ever. In addition, although Salmond will always be a solipsistic thug, he had acquired certain street smarts over the years, which Sturgeon, despite the robotic Stalinistic acclaim, just doesn’t have, yet she’s their leader.

However, they seemed to be on an electoral roll, surely…?

3.Scottish Parliamentary election 5th May, 2016

Well, that didn’t last long. They may still be running ‘the show’ (not a big deal in reality) at Holyrood, but they lost their majority,  back to being a somewhat  feeble minority government, in a large part thanks to those evil Tories having a resurgence. That wasn’t in the script. This was Sturgeon’s first real electoral test. The brave face didn’t quite convince.

4.SNP love triangle 22nd May 2106

The man accurately described by Euan McColm as ‘charmless’, Stewart Hosie, quits as SNP Deputy Leader because of his shenanigans with a posh English lady. Actually Hosie’s former wife, also an SNP politician, is a good egg, so I mention this just to keep the narrative accurate. He became (more of) a laughing stock. Another SNP MP, dopey Angus McNeil, was the third point of the triangle

5.Brexit! 24th June 2016

Britain votes to quit the EU, in Scotland the SNP make a lot of the % margins. The actual numbers are less exciting: 1,661,191 Remain to 1,018,322 Leave. That’s a difference of only 642,869 people, which is 12% of the population and 16.5% of the Scottish electorate. Yes it’s a majority, but hardly a ringing endorsement.

Needless to say Sturgeon and the Nats immediately went berserk with silly claims along the lines that Scotland just loved the EU, that Holyrood could block the result (very embarrassing that one), and that Indyref2 was now inevitable, because, y’know, the Scots really love the EU bureaucracy, but the consternation caused by Brexit in certain Hyndland salons seems to have died down pretty quickly, really.  The concept that the EU might not want an essentially bankrupt independent Scotland fomenting trouble in Catalonia and elsewhere into the bargain, never seemed to cross her mind. History will not be kind on this one.

In the real world that the rest of us inhabit, neither business nor the voters agreed with her and her Nat toadies, that Brexit mysteriously made independence more attractive. The SNP parallel universe is a mysterious place.

6.The  Named Person scheme gets hammered by the Supreme Court, 28th July 2016

With the SNP, authoritarianism is a constant temptation, to which they normally succumb. I have commented previously on their Jacobin tendencies here, where they seem to have decided that the state supplants parents, by right. It’s already failed, very tragically. Don’t these sanctimonious idiots think anything through properly? Clearly not. The Nats are now having an “intense consultation”, the sort of things that grown up governments normally do before pulling the trigger.

7.The SNP lose a significant by-election, 12th August 2016

Well yes, and it wasn’t widely reported considering the detail. The SNP leader’s own father, Robin Sturgeon, stood for an SNP seat in the Irvine West by-election, and lost. To the dismal remnants of Scottish Labour, who became the party with the most seats as a consequence. I would say that tells us something interesting about the grass roots of Scottish politics. If he’d won, as they clearly anticipated, we’d never have heard the end of it.

8.The Scottish Government Expenditure and Revenue (GERS) figures are released 24th August 2016

Put simply, Scotland as an independent nation is bust. Totally. Happily the UK isn’t quite. The Scottish deficit (not total debt) is officially £14.8 billion. This is rather important, and is one reason why Salmond is truly the most lying liar of all lying politicians. He makes Hillary Clinton look like George Washington. It’s a long story, but the Zen Master of GERS interpretation is the mighty Kevin Hague, over at Chokkablog. The Nats hate him of course. Read his long running commentary, it’s better than most professional journalists have managed.

9.The UK government politely tells the SNP they’re not needed in the Brexit plan, 2nd September 2016

This didn’t go down well. Having ranted about the iniquities of Brexit, Sturgeon appoints a Brexit minister, the ludicrous Mike Russell. He has no apparent role. The SNP are sad. Eager to get in on a process from which they are correctly excluded, they form an SNP Westminster committee to emulate Russell’s ignominy.

10.The SNP’s raison d’etre is independence, so when they announce their programme as the Scottish Government on 6th September, 2016….

Happily, some things are still within the party’s gift. So after the thrilling announcement in June that ‘the Summer of independence starts here’, Ms Sturgeon unveils her  legislative programme for the forthcoming Holyrood term. What are the plans for Indyref2 that the foaming hordes have been eagerly anticipating, nay, promised, by their Nat overlords?  Er…..nothing actually, just a weak-kneed ‘draft’. As Iain Martin aptly puts it: “Consulting on a draft is the government equivalent of a cash-strapped would-be tourist ordering a bunch of glossy holiday brochures and saying “we might go for St Tropez this year.””

Never mind, they are definitely planning to ban wild animals in circuses (I kid you not, it’s in the programme).

I can’t be bothered to spell out the incompetence in administrative duties and basic educational and NHS needs, the grim faced North Korean approach to party management and independent thought, the humourless obsession with social media points scoring etc etc. None of it is hard to find on the internet, as they haven’t got round to censoring it. Yet. Chuck in the as yet only rumoured other ‘situations’ in the party, and one doubts that this cavalcade of incompetence, scandal and chippiness will go away soon.

So, from a glorious independence rolling in oil money to obsessing over the occasional tiger that finds its way north of the border, in just under two years, with support evidently and inexorably draining away.

It’s  a joyous, deserved slow motion car crash. Well done everyone.

 

………….to be continued

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Halcyon days…so long ago..

 

 

Brexit news (2)

The Spectator Coffee House has hit form again. At a time when Dave and friends’ Doomsday assertions re the possibility of Brexit acquire the genuine comic value inherent in seeing highly educated and intelligent people knowingly talk drivel, Coffee House has two excellent posts.

Firstly, various ‘names’ give their views. Setting aside Bob Geldof (Remain) and Joey Essex (Undecided), the best bit is by one of Scotland’s genuine stars, the composer Sir James MacMillan**. He doesn’t take a position, so much as ask questions. They are absolutely relevant. Here they are:

  1. After 1989 why have the European elites failed to denounce the immorality of Communism? 
  2. Why have the same elites supported the likes of Yasser Arafat and the Iranian governments?
  3. Why are extremist parties well supported and why is anti-Americanism on the rise in Europe?
  4. Is it true that productivity is declining in mainland Europe?
  5. Why is EU-style democracy not good enough?
  6. Why is their bureaucracy so unwieldy?
  7. Why do the European elites hate Christianity?
  8. Why is anti-semitism on the rise on the European Left?
  9. Why is Europe committing demographic suicide, failing to reproduce its populations to sustain their expensive welfare, health and pension systems?
  10. Why does Europe look like it has given up hope in its future?’

Forget the Tory internecine wars, which are a childish EU referendum-induced distraction but loved by the media, these loaded questions are not even remotely being addressed by the Inners.

On the same day, brainiac Noel Malcolm, fellow of All Souls writes an elegant and comprehensive piece on sovereignty and leaving. If only the standard of debate from the government was this high. A key selection:

For me, the most important issue is the one that flows directly from these problems: the loss of democracy. This huge artificial structure would indeed be paralysed if all decisions required unanimity. But once our laws and policies are made by EU majority voting, we begin to sacrifice the most precious thing of all: the principle that those who make our laws and rule us are chosen by us, and can be removed by us. European elections, and tinkering with the so-called democratic deficit in Brussels, are entirely beside the point here, as the EU is not, for any of its member populations, the primary political community, the ‘demos’ on which genuine democracy is based.

Most advocates of a Remain vote simply ignore this issue. Some contrive to suggest that it is just a matter of accepting technical regulations for the single market — whereas the range of EU law-making does in fact go much further than that. And some like to imply that if people do not want to put themselves under a supranational government, they must be harking back to a nostalgic (and probably right-wing) concept of ‘sovereignty’ which has no validity in the modern world.

Sovereignty is not in fact outmoded. But the term has become so misunderstood that it is probably better to put it aside, in this debate, and just talk about democratic self-government instead. I have yet to hear any leading Remainer explain why this valuable thing — which should be equally precious to both left and right — is worth sacrificing for the benefits, whether geopolitical or economic, that they think we shall get from staying in the EU.

In fact the array of opinion leading to a Brexit conclusion is pretty impressive and from right across the spectrum: Larry Elliott, Alex Brummer (1,2), St Augustine, scourge of the Clintons  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard among others. Not only are these well made arguments, the quality and fun content of the journalism is much higher than that from the Remain camp, who are embarrassedly shackled to whatever nonsense Dave/the IMF/CBI/Treasury/Obama/Juncker etc etc are coming out with today.

It’s not that there aren’t cogent and persuasive reasons for being a Remainer, there are, but rather like in the Scottish Referendum, the separatists there (oddly allying with the Remainers now) failed to make a decent argument about sovereignty and belief, but rather opted for a pack of lies about the economy  which has of course subsequently blown up in their face.

I can live with whatever outcome we get from next month’s poll, but it’s already clear that the intellectual weight and the necessary comprehension of history lie with the Brexit camp.

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I don’t want to go this far back, actually

**author of probably the finest eulogy that I’ve ever read

Alex Salmond, unperson

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To the salt mines!

It didn’t take long, really.

I was recently talking to a friend who is a sharp mind, a good businessman, a nice guy and a Scottish Nationalist. Not only did he used to brandish a selfie of himself with Alex Salmond, he knew him moderately, having been involved in one of the various Scottish government publicity projects that Eck used to encourage, to demonstrate the Nat’s love of ‘social justice’ (whatever), and hatred of…er…bigotry

In any event, it was made pretty clear in our chat that Eck, the putative ‘father of the independent nation’ is now self evidently a selfish, arrogant, embarrassing, lying monster who is utterly persona non grata with the present Holyrood SNP band of numpties.

Oddly enough, the description was pretty much what most No supporters had been saying about Eck in the run up to the independence referendum, and now we learn from his erstwhile chums that we were in fact, correct.

This blog has criticised Salmond and his mysterious, frequently unexplained decisions and activities for a long time. It was blindingly obvious that he was gagging to get back to Westminster, which curiously is in the hated England, and equally obvious that if he lost the referendum that Sturgeon et al were going to kick him out. And so it proved.

The utterly ludicrous SNP ‘Named Child’  policy has strong echoes of Jacobin social engineering from the French Revolution. One of the more endearing habits of the said Jacobins was to decapitate their former heroes, most notably Robespierre. It looks like Eck has met the same fate.

The historic parallels don’t stop there. Not enough people know about something Iain Martin likes to publicise, which is that you’re not actually allowed to criticise or dissent from what passes for policy in the SNP, from within the party. Really, it is officially banned. Specifically MP’s and MSP’s must:

“accept that no Member shall, within or outwith Parliament, publicly criticise a Group decision, policy or another member of the Group.”

Which is pleasingly similar to another one party state, Soviet Russia. The latter didn’t last that long, despite wrecking lives and wreaking havoc on its native soil – the similarities are piling up – but it did inspire George Orwell in writing 1984. Which brings us back to poor old Eck. He has finally, and delightfully, become an Orwellian Stalinist unperson, a victim of damnatio memoriae. To quote Wiki:

Such a person would be taken out of books, photographs, and articles so that no trace of them is found in the present anywhere – no record of them would be found.This was so that a person who defied the Party would be gone from all citizens’ memories, even friends and family

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

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The Supreme Soviet were happy

 

The Easter Saturday interlude

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Peter Howson, The Harrowing of Hell
Howson is a Glasgow trained painter with an extraordinary life story.  A lot of people find his works a bit too brutal and ‘excessively’ religious. He’s a real artist though, and achieves real recognition – Manhattan exhibitions and all that.

Today is the mysterious Easter Saturday. From the famous ‘ancient homily’ said to be by Melito of Sardis, in the Office of Readings:

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

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The McPinnochios of the SNP

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One of the more tiresome aspects of being right is the difficult-to-control compulsion to set out the facts and refute specious and stupid arguments, often recurrent, noisy, specious and stupid arguments. It’s time consuming and boring after a while. Even being constantly proven right can become tedious.

Enter the Scottish Nationalist Party, a mob of chancers, makeweights, thugs, spivs, pseudointellectuals, wealthy middle class smugs, public sector leeches, zoomers –  and the occasional decent human being – and their ongoing utterly bankrupt warblings about independence, getting a fresh airing this week, as once again, they’ve been rumbled on something that actually matters.

Happily, tougher people than I have addressed these issues over a long period, and one must pay particular homage in the blogging world to both Kevin Hague, a businessman who has actually contributed  to the Scottish economy, and Adam Tomkins, a distinguished and highly erudite professor of Law at Glasgow University. Hague in particular has for a long time painstakingly deconstructed the Nats’ hopeless economic lies, using the government’s own official Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland figures, known as GERS. It has been a virtuoso performance to be honest, and the Nats have no answer, other than their trademark abuse.

In addition, there have been some heroic hacks**. Today’s post is really to point an interested reader or guilty Nat in the direction of some very sharp and entirely factual analysis. First up is a true Scottish Labour hero, the former minister Brian Wilson, who knows who he’s dealing with:

…let us raise a timely glass to a fate avoided, which would certainly not have been paid for by the architects of the great deception. There is an argument against re-fighting battles that have been won and lost. But this must be counted an exception. The run-up to the referendum and the fraudulent case set out in the White Paper is not just history. It is, more importantly, a lesson which should never be lost sight of in the future.

Like all fundamentalist beliefs, nationalism creates zealots who are prone to assuming that their end justifies the means. If the facts do not suit, create new ones. If history does not stand scrutiny, rewrite it. Above all, if the numbers do not stack up, brazen it out and make them up. This will never change.

There are plenty decent nationalists exempt from these charges. Their belief is based on a principle they place above others. If there are negative economic consequences, then so be it – they should be set against other benefits and opportunities. That is a standpoint which can be argued with, honourably and without rancour. It involves neither denial nor falsification.

But that was not the route chosen by Salmond, Sturgeon and Swinney. For them, the mission was to concoct an economic case they knew to be thoroughly dishonest but which they hoped would avoid exposure long enough for them to win. They did not give a toss for the ordinary people of Scotland who would now be paying the horrendous price which this week’s figures confirmed, with much worse still to come.

The italics are mine. They really don’t care about the punters, that’s not what Nationalism is about. Secondly, the always perceptive Euan McColm:

The problem with the claims made by the SNP during the referendum campaign is that they were fantasy. I know there are arguments to be made about the unpredictability of oil markets and the wider economy, but the fact is that the nationalists’ financial case was not an exercise in optimism but a deception. Yet still the SNP and its supporters argue that a fairer Scotland is possible if we’d only break those chains that bind us to Westminster (that’s code for the English, in case you were in any doubt). Surely, in the name of the wee man, it’s time for this nonsense to stop?

If your current position is that independence is needed now – or in the near future – to ensure a more prosperous country, where assistance of the vulnerable is a priority, then you have not been paying attention to the facts. If you have been paying attention to the facts and you still believe the swift break-up of the UK is required for a fairer Scotland, then you’re deluded.

The facts to which I refer have been provided by the Scottish Government. The Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figure published on Tuesday shows that Scotland ran a deficit of £14.9 billion in 2014-15. The difference between tax raised and the amount spent was breathtaking. Of course, a deficit, in itself, is not unusual. Most countries run them. But the size of an independent Scotland’s deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) exposes the size of the potential problem. As a percentage of GDP, the UK’s deficit was 4.9 in 2014-15 while Scotland’s was 9.7. An independent Scotland would have the highest deficit in the European Union. This would be completely unsustainable.

Those who rail against “austerity” today might want to examine what happened in Greece and Ireland, when deficits soared. Inhabitants of those countries can tell us all about austerity.Had Scotland voted Yes in September 2014, we’d now be on the brink of financial catastrophe. Independence Day – 24 March, according to Scottish Government proposals – would have ushered in an era of savage cuts to public spending and tax hikes to make the eyes of even the most wilfully compassionate amongst us water. Plummeting oil revenues – predicted to be £7.9bn in the independence White Paper but heading towards £100 million for 2015-16 – hammer home the case that an independent Scotland would have been in severe difficulty from the word go.

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Strictly the facts, as they say. If you want to get a feel for the despotic thought police approach nurtured by the Nat hierarchy (Salmond, Sturgeon, Hosie and a few others), read how easily weak but slightly more honest Nats such as John Swinney and Fergus Ewing get rolled over when it comes to ‘the message’. It’s all in Wilson’s superb piece.

I actually still hold the view that the SNP breathed a sigh of relief when they lost the referendum. It didn’t take Eck et al long to bounce back, in their usual antagonistic bragging idiotic way. They’re not an able administration (1,2,3) even when being showered with Barnett Formula money, even they know that they’d be dead in the water if they ever got their alleged goal.

 

** To which, add many pieces by Iain Martin, such as this one.

 

Junior doctors shouldn’t strike – here’s why

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Although I’m a BMA member, as I suppose we all need protection, I try to avoid the British Medical Journal, a truly PC rag, although it very occasionally prints something of genuine interest. Hence I rapidly flip through the back copies from time to time, and this piece caught my eye.

It’s the best summary of the junior doctors’ issues – and the strikes – that I’ve seen, and having been written in early January, it’s already proving prophetic. The NHS is the UK monopoly employer, and these fresh medics are not all going to go to Australia. The proposed increase in medical school places is a good idea too, though it won’t happen. My beef is how many places go to non UK students (a lot). I would make it a postgraduate degree, if I could.

The author is slightly maverick Glasgow GP, Des Spence, who usually tells it like it is. He works in Maryhill, home of such gems as Munns Bar, and I would imagine he’s a very busy clinician. Certainly a grounded one. A separate BMJ profile of him is enlightening:

Who’s been the best and the worst health secretary in your lifetime?

No one. It makes little difference in the reality of day to day. The work is the same irrespective of the government.

If you were given £1m what would you spend it on?

I could pretend that I would give it all away to fight for world peace and combat global warming . . . but we all know that’s bullshit; that’s not how people really work. I’d have a big party, give some away, save some, buy a black Jaguar F-Type, and generally spend it irresponsibly. Life is for living.

 

The title of the article is “The strike is a bad idea”, and it is one of the few contrary arguments to the whole strike thing in months of BMJ’s. There are, inevitably, tons of counterarguments  by juniors which tend to be a bit solipsistic, though they would deny that. Here is Spence’s timely piece:

I have significant sympathy for Junior Doctors and understand why they have decided to strike. Older Doctors might moan about how it was “tougher in our time” but comparing the past with now is an apple to oranges affair. Expectations are different, shifts are different, the generations are different and our societal culture is different. Striking, however, is the wrong course of action. Consider.

Could evening and weekend care be improved in Hospitals and in General Practice? The answer is yes. And the pressure to provide a 7 day style NHS service is an unstoppable cultural juggernaut of expectation, in tune with so many other services we now take for granted in modern society. Doctors would be best to simply accept this as the new cultural norm and negotiate from this position.

And will striking for a few days make any difference? We are employed by the state. Our employer can at any time change our conditions of employment with reasonable notice. This happens all the time in the public and private sector. Unless Doctors are truly willing to strike for a sustained period, we will not change the resolve of our employer. This Strike is a protest only. But will this protest curry favour with the public to force the government to change?

Many of the public do have great appreciation of what doctors do. But do they have sympathy for our working conditions and pay? (which ultimately is how this dispute will be presented in the media). Doctors might loathe the Daily Mail, but the Daily Mail does not lead public opinion but reflects it. Many of the public consider us overpaid, with great job security, being largely trained for free, having a gold plated pension (unimaginable to most in the private sector), enjoying a high status, and all this paid out of their pockets through taxation. Do we really expect any sympathy for the strike? Regrettably the strike will serve only to inconvenience the public and undermine our professional standing. The strike is simply out of step with the current mood of many in the country, coming out of a sustained period of austerity. Ultimately employers can and will impose a new contract. And Doctors won’t leave in high numbers for there is still lots of milk and honey in the NHS.

The real solution is this. Doctors don’t want to work 50 hours a week. Life/Work balance is more important than money to the current generations of Doctors. And currently we have widespread medical staffing shortages across the NHS. So we need to train perhaps twice as many more Doctors as undergraduates. This costs around £250k per Doctor, but is a notional expense to the NHS which currently spends annually £3.3 billion on agency medical staff (enough to train an additional 12 000 Doctors a year!).

Vastly more Doctors would improve work life balance, broaden the diversity of our bland homogeneous middle class profession and reduce the unhealthy status and entitlement that blights so many lives. The law of supply and demand would certainly reduce pay in time but most would find that an acceptable trade off. Medicine took most of my young adult life, a situation that we no longer have to tolerate. Dear BMA, call a strike for a doubling of doctors in training. Now that would be worth picketing for.

Hard to argue with that.

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A quiet corner of Maryhill