I think this should wait till the Nats’ less than enticing conference in Glasgow is finished, next week. There’s a bit to talk about, not least their ahistorical and opportunistic alliance with the reckless and mad Puigdemont (and the more reasonable Catalan separatists).
Things are ticking over nicely. Three little gems:
48. Unfunny ex MP Eck could be going on tour
What is it about the bullying despotic politically inclined type that makes them want to go on stage? Eck is possibly following in the footsteps of gruesome thug Alastair Campbell (1, 2), in selling his tedious schtick for cash and adulation once the political spotlight has begun to fade. German journalist Matthias Matussek, reviewing Campbell’s nonsense thirteen years ago said: He provided a strange white noise, two hours long. Sounds about right for Eck. What could go wrong?
49. Well this could..
50. More seriously though. Money.
There is now a more open, and less adulatory mood in parts of the Scottish media when it comes to following whatever the SNP party line is this week. Former Salmond adviser, Alex Bell, transformed himself into a sharp and knowledgeable critic of Salmond and the Nats some time ago. Here he is this week:
There are days when Nicola Sturgeon must wish Alex Salmond gone. Not for the sexist gags or the disloyalty to her (though how he would have hated that in return). It is the legacy which leaves her trapped between hard numbers and soft promises, destined to disappoint the nation…
….But she is never free of the legacy, the memory of her political mentor, as Salmond is built into every atom of the modern SNP. She can no more be free than start a new party – a thought that must have crossed her mind in darker moments. Her dilemma is when the annual round of economic figures (GERS) come out showing a big gap between what Scotland earns and what it spends within the UK.
If she admits the truth, that Scottish spending would have to be different to the UK budget, she exposes Salmond’s trickery. If she defends it, she holds the movement back from seeing the truth and facing questions about spending priorities and tax increases…
….Most of all, she has wrestled with the SNP belief that Scotland can afford what it wants because Salmond told them so. Whether Salmond ever believed this, I can’t tell. But it seems unlikely as the man isn’t stupid.
The numbers are the numbers – and they show that UK spending attached to Scotland is greater than Scotland could afford if it was detached. Salmond was smart enough to realise that admitting this would end up irritating voters so he never did. And because of what Salmond spun and the SNP believed, the party are based on an illusionist trick – that anything is affordable.
Painful stuff for true believers, although evident to sentient thinking punters for years. If you want to know what those GERS actually show in their cold, uncomfortable detail, then visit the indispensable @kevverage over at Chokkablog.
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.
40. Indyref is not very popular
Not just amongst us plebeian voters, some of the sharper knives in the SNP box have begun to have doubts. Isn’t that verboten, under party rules? Not sure if the message is getting through though. That kind of authoritarian bullying has real world consequences.
41. Experienced hacks are taking the mick
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.
42. They’re still not good at running things
See what I mean?
…and when they do mess up, the UK bails them out.
43. There’s a problem with Labour…
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.
They never will.
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!
37. And so it came to pass….
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
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:
…and just as a reminder from Brexit Liberation Day:
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?
I’d like to claim that I got in early on the meme currently gathering momentum: that the SNP’s shrill, frantic and infantile yelling about independence is now proving counterproductive to their cause. In fact, it’s probably all over.
I’m not criticising a legitimate wish for Scottish independence – the only coherent argument for which is self-determination and sovereignty, not economic benefits, not social justice, whatever that is. And that same nationalism contains a very hefty chunk of naked bigotry and resentment, naturally.
By early, I mean last September, which was just the latest in a long line of posts over more than 6 years (for example) about the genuine iniquities of the SNP and some of their fellow nationalists. Not all, but a significant and vociferous mob, even so. They can make life pretty unpleasant.
A few very switched on commentators like Iain Martin and Gerald Warner (try this gem) at Reaction have always got this, the latter dishing out dollops of well deserved and very funny contempt. The newly liberated Stephen Daisley is now another, but they were all in a minority compared to the breathless respect delivered to Ms Sturgeon by very many hacks who know better, or should do, both in England and Scotland. Well, it’s mainstream now.
30. All the best writing is from the Nats’ opponents
True, the SNP and their fans can do a good line in ad hominem brutality, but if you want top quality lucid, fair and rational writing on the whole independence malarkey, you generally have to go elsewhere. I won’t quote them at length, but apart from the hacks mentioned above, try the done-in their-spare-time work of Kevin Hague, Fraser Whyte and Brian Monteith (try this). These guys are essential reading for lots of professional journalists, with good reason. The three mentioned, by happy coincidence reflect pretty much the political spectrum outwith the SNP Collective Groupthink. Funny that. I have yet to read a coherent, evidenced argument for independence beyond the very narrow confines of the self-determination thing. The Nats know there is no economic case, in fact the opposite, they’re just not allowed to say it.
31. The UK is doing much better economically than Scotland, which may be heading for a recession. Also, better than the EU.
The first bit is a cause for joy, the second part, not so much. However, they’re the facts. Read Murdo Fraser here for a more detailed breakdown of what it’s all about. There are lots of reasons, but despite the ungrammatical talk of ‘growing the economy’, the appointment of gormless rabbit-in-the-headlights dropout Derek Mackay in the theoretically important role of Finance Secretary suggests that in reality the Nats will continue to be happy to dole out abuse to Westminster while hoovering up the excess cash provided by the increasingly controversial Barnett Formula. Scotland, viewed in isolation, is teetering on recession.
32. Those pesky polls
Hot off the press are these two polls. If I may lift the details from Politics Home earlier today:
The Kantar survey found backing among Scots voters for the break-up of the UK has slumped from 47% to 40% since August last year.
It also showed that nearly half of them do not want a second independence referendum to ever take place.And barely a quarter of Scots back Nicola Sturgeon’s call for another breakaway vote to be held in either spring 2018 or autumn 2019.
The findings come hard on the heels of a Panelbase poll which showed the SNP is on course to lose nine seats on 8 June.
Honestly, what is wrong with the public?
33. The Scots don’t actually love the EU. Why would they?
More polls, but in fact, any sentient human in Scotland might question why Miss Sturgeon is putting it about that the Scots love the EU. It’s hardly on everyone’s lips. At best people don’t really care.
The ScotCen annual Scottish social attitudes survey found that two in three Scots (67 per cent) either want Britain to leave the EU (25 per cent) or for the EU’s powers to be reduced (42 per cent).
This was a 14 point rise in Euroscepticism in Scotland from 2014 and 27 per cent increase based on opinions in 1999 when the Scottish Parliament was opened.
…..and so it goes on and on.
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.
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