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
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 liberatedStephen 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.
This post is the latest then in an ongoing Decline and Fall series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7…), which shows little sign of letting up.
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.
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.
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 (abbreviatedcond) 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 hintyet that Scotland could bejust 18 months away from another vote…ifthat 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 optionifit 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 hintedshe 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.
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.”
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 @BrianSpanner1).
…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
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 teamto 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.
16. A dismal attempt at being an international statesman comes unstuck
Or even being a competent trade negotiator, really. As the Glasgow Herald stated in April: Nicola Sturgeon has signed a potential multi-billion pound investment deal with a firm owned by a Chinese construction giant implicated in “gross corruption” on an industrial scale. The deal had been mysteriously kept secret until a Freedom of Information request zapped it. Clearly she didn’t find all that corruption too offputting. Must be the company she keeps. Hilariously, Norway, with whom the Nats endlessly compare Scotland, as Norway are a successful independent small country had already blacklisted the railway group’s parent firm over corruption fears. When this was publicised, Ms Sturgeon started backtracking and havering, leading to this reasonable comment from Labour:
“The fact that discussions have been going on for a year without SNP minister providing any detail is extraordinary. This deal stinks and it has done from the very beginning. It’s time for the SNP to stop the ducking and diving – Nicola Sturgeon should order the full publication of all documents relating to this deal, going as far back as a year ago when talks first began.”
Fast forward to this week, and it turns out that the Chinese have pulled the plug on the £10 billion investment. Even more bizarrely, they did so in August, but that was also kept secret (a bad habit the Nats are developing). Did Nicola hope that everyone would forget about it?
Attacking rivals Ms Sturgeon added: “We have an opposition that demanded the cancellation of this memorandum of understanding, we have an opposition that had a hysterical over-the-top reaction to this memorandum of understanding. So, while I take responsibility for learning lessons, I really do think the opposition also have to reflect on their behaviour, which led to a political climate in which these partners felt they couldn’t proceed.” But Tory leader Ruth Davidson said it was “embarrassing for our country” adding: “Rather than blaming us, or blaming Brexit, or blaming the weather, will the First Minister remove the shroud of secrecy from deals like these and be straight with the Scottish people?”
That probably is too much to ask.
17. A dismal attempt to lean on the Irish comes unstuck
The majority of world leaders (a term that sounds grander than its reality) understand that intrinsic to the concept of leading a country, is nationhood. Come to think of it, that is meant to be the SNP’s whole schtick. Intrinsic to that is a generally accepted frame of geopolitical reference – Portugal is separate from Spain, Sicily is part of Italy. That kind of thing, primary school geography. Even the EU adheres to this. Along comes Nicola Sturgeon, nudging the Irish to informally recognise Scotland as a separate country when it comes to international negotiations, because, y’know, all Scots hate Brexit (they don’t). Here is the commendably straightforward Joe McHugh, the Dublin Government’s “minister for the Diaspora and International Development”: It’s a UK Government position and what I like about their approach is they’re looking to involve the devolved assemblies. I think that’s important. They’re already doing it, it’s already happening.
And Sturgeon gets another knockback. It should be humiliating (and humbling) for her, it’s certainly humiliating for Scotland.
Gordon Brown managed to wreck his own party by taking large swathes of voters for granted. In fact, that’s basically how the SNP rose to power. Obama and Clinton have now managed to wreck their own party by taking large swathes of voters for granted.
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 when you’re ready to groan inwardly at yet another tired Hitler comparison, along comes a cracker from the twitterfeed of the estimable Sir James MacMillan, linking to a 15 year old Guardian piece. This intriguingly provides further proof of the synergy between one set of demagogic nationalists – guess who – and another (the SNP). See what I mean?
The basic scenario is that the German wartime ambassador to Dublin was involved in a plan to create an independent Scotland allied to Germany, for example “It proposed a German-Scottish alliance as a ‘weapon in the fight against the gross materialism of the capitalistic-communistic union of English, Americans, Bolsheviks, etc’. It asked for war material to be sent from Ireland so that advantage could be taken of a general panic in England to declare a republic in Scotland. It also proposed a Celtic union with headquarters in Dublin.”
Funnily enough, two years ago I wrote about the overt plans of Hitler’s right hand man in planning a postwar (German victory) Europe. This was SS dweeb Werner Best, who survived until 1989. Best was up for “a federal Britain with autonomy for Scotland”. That came from Michael Burleigh’s fantastic book on the Third Reich, and as I wrote in my earlier post: Burleigh goes on to state, in exquisite phraseology, referring to ‘Celt’ nationalists of the time :These people were parochial in every negative sense of the word, the fascistic, resentful face of petty nationalism everywhere..
As the Guardian article correctly points out: Nazi Germany’s interest in Scotland had dated from the Thirties. So-called ‘Celtic scholars’, including a postgraduate student, Gerhard von Tevenar, cultivated leading figures in the Scottish renaissance and in its blossoming nationalist movement. Leading nationalists were entertained in Germany.
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.
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.
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.
…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).
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.””
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.