“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the armies of the north, general of the Felix legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, and I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next”
My name is Maximus Deckimus, commander of the zoomer armies of the north, general of the Nat legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, myself, father to a murdered indyref, husband to a humiliated wife, and I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.
You can see it now, though Russell Crowe was in better shape….
Actually, The Ecktopus was wisely concise, dignified and, for him, gracious after today’s verdict. His reputation as a decent human being has been wrecked, if you laboured under that delusion, in fact his personal failings were a cornerstone of the defence case. The single “not proven verdict on a charge of sexual assault with intent to rape” out of 13 charges from allegations made by 9 women will no doubt rankle with him too. Most seriously, the many women with whom he’d had “encounters” that are not really denied, now fall between the two awful prospects of being named and savaged by Eck’s gauleiters, and also being discarded as rapidly as possible by their former friends in the Sturgeon camp. Deeply unpleasant. But here is The Ecktopus in his triumph:
However, the peace won’t last.
Scottish journalists already know many of the details regarding Sturgeon’s mob trying to destroy their erstwhile hero, and I’m sure that there’ll be a lot of gobsmacking stuff to emerge. Coronavirus has virtually destroyed any prospect of independence for a long time, and it would be nice if the SNP could just destroy themselves, to tidy things up. It may happen. Sturgeon herself released a very brief statement, evidently written through gritted teeth, as it were (“The court has reached a verdict and that must be respected”).
Stephen Daisley hinted at what is to come here. One of Eck’s longstanding foes, who nevertheless admits to a grudging respect is Gerald Warner, a very fine writer. Here are his initial thoughts, in full:
When it was first announced that Alex Salmond, former SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland, was to stand trial on 13 charges of sexual misconduct, the Scottish media and political village looked forward to witnessing an exceptional courtroom drama: Scotland’s equivalent of the Dreyfus case. In the event, due to even more dramatic developments in the world of epidemiology, it was something of a damp squib in terms of public interest. It was as if the Dreyfus trial had taken place at the height of the Black Death.
That does not mean there were no fireworks in the courtroom – it could hardly have been otherwise, with the formidable Gordon Jackson, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, leading Salmond’s defence team.
Unfortunately, due to health preoccupations, public attention was at best patchy. Beyond that, even intelligent observers found themselves perplexed by the reporting of some of the evidence.
The scrappy reporting by Scottish mediafolk made it difficult to form any clear impression of the case – understandably, in view of the other preoccupations assailing reporters. Salmond remained impassive throughout the proceedings and betrayed no triumphalism after the verdict, closing his remarks to the media today with expressions of concern for people during the epidemic.
He was cleared on 12 charges. On a 13th charge the verdict was “not proven”, a unique feature of the Scottish system.
After the verdict, Salmond delivered himself of one ominous observation: “As many of you will know, there was certain evidence I would like to have seen led in this trial but for a variety of reasons we weren’t able to do so. At some point that information, that fact and that evidence will see the light of day…” Or, in plain language, “Watch this space, Nicola.” When normal political activity is resumed a Salmond counter-offensive is to be expected, one that will make the internal activities of the SNP resemble the Battle of Kursk.
At least on his native heath, Salmond is no ordinary politician. He is a veteran operator with skills far superior to anyone else on the Scottish political scene. Unless he gets religion sometime between now and the resumption of normal public life, the clever money is on him seeking revenge against all those he perceives as his enemies.
If he does so, it will be with reinforced credibility after his vindication by the courts. In that context, there is more legal ammunition in his locker than the acquittal on charges of criminal offences. It should be recalled that Salmond had already won a civil case, in January 2019, when Lord Pentland ruled in the Court of Session that the Scottish government’s complaints process against him in relation to sexual harassment allegations had been “unlawful in respect that that they were procedurally unfair” and had been “tainted with apparent bias”. The Scottish government admitted it had breached its own guidelines by appointing an investigating officer who had “prior involvement” in the case.
Salmond was awarded costs of £512,250. That embarrassed surrender by the Scottish government is the worst possible foundation on which to mount a defence against the Salmond counterattack that will surely come. Already the Salmondistas are making warlike noises. Kenny McAskill, MP and former Scottish justice minister, tweeted after Salmond’s acquittal: “Some resignations now required.”
Joanna Cherry, MP, whom some have touted as a possible successor to Nicola Sturgeon, said: “Some of the evidence that has come to light both in the judicial review and at this trial raise very serious questions over the process that was employed within the Scottish government to investigate the alleged complaints against Mr Salmond, and I am sorry to say some of the evidence also raises serious question marks over how these complaints were handled by the SNP.”
To Scottish separatists Alex Salmond is a messianic figure. He led them from a taxi-load of Westminster MPs to a near-clean sweep of Scottish Westminster seats, an independence referendum and 13 years of government at Holyrood. He came closer than any other individual to securing an independent Scotland: in that respect, though he would not relish the comparison, he is separatist Scotland’s Nigel Farage. Now he has come back from the reputational brink after facing allegations that many SNP supporters, instinctive conspiracy theorists, will see as a politically motivated attempt to destroy him.
This will split the SNP as never before. The clear target of the rage that Salmond’s supporters feel will be Nicola Sturgeon, in tandem with the Scottish government apparatus. While the fog of an epidemic cloaks the political battlefield this may not be immediately obvious; but, in the long term, it looks as if we are witnessing the beginning of the end for Nicola Sturgeon and her administration. In market terminology: buy Salmond, sell Sturgeon.
One of the occasional regrets of online media – which is now pretty much my only media apart from a Spectator subscription (which I can sadly go for weeks without opening up the magazine) – is great writers hidden behind a paywall. The number one example of this in my world is the Clintons’ British nemesis, the cerebral and highly readable Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph. Not only does AE-P make academic economics seem understandable, he spots the future trends with an unerring eye.
So when he turns his gaze to Nicola Sturgeon’s fevered antics, it’s going to be worth reading. Accordingly I have been behind the paywall and lifted yesterday’s brilliant analysis in its entirety, for which I apologise to the Telegraph in advance. It is essential reading, particularly given the free pass that Ms Sturgeon mysteriously gets from almost all of the London media (@afneil excepted). Though when you’ve lost your Glasgow Herald fan club, the writing is on the wall.
So here is the great man, from 18th December, on the hard facts. Terrific:
Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit makes Scottish independence all but impossible, whatever the emotions
The harder Brexit becomes, the less economically plausible it is for Scotland to break away and rejoin the European Union. The costs rise to prohibitive levels. Such is the Brexit paradox for Scottish independence.
Nicola Sturgeon missed a trick earlier this year. She should have told her Westminster troops to abstain on Theresa May’s deal and let it limp over the line, since it created unique circumstances for secession on tolerable terms, or at least as tolerable as could be hoped for post-Brexit.
This is not obvious to those who see the Scottish drama chiefly in terms of emotion and identity politics. The relevant point is that Mrs May’s Brexit package removed the risk of a hard economic border on the Tweed for an independent Scotland: specifically, in the words of a leaked EU briefing note, it “required” a customs union as the basis of the future UK-EU relationship.
It would have let Scotland leave the UK on terms that preserved intimate trade linkage and supply chains with its hegemonic market – England. There would have been no need for rules-of-origin documents and extra customs clearance at the Scottish land border.
If it is such a calamity for Britain to leave the EU customs union – as the Scottish National Party tells us – then it must logically be a greater calamity for Scotland to leave the UK union since the same problems exist and are greatly magnified. “The links between Scotland and the UK are much deeper, so the pain for Scotland would be commensurately larger,” says Sir Andrew Large, ex-deputy governor of the Bank of England.
Over 60pc of Scottish exports go to the rest of this Kingdom. Just 18pc go to the EU. The imbalance is overwhelming and Scotland is not geographically close to Europe’s industrial core, stretching from the Ruhr valley to Lombardy. It would face the logistical distance of Italy’s Mezzogiorno.
I leave it to others with fingers on the northern pulse to judge whether the Scottish people really would wish to go through the trauma of withdrawal having observed how difficult it is to break up a 44-year union, let alone a 400-year merger of the kingdoms, especially if Boris Johnson ensures that powers devolved from the EU over fisheries, farming, the environment, etc, go generously to Edinburgh and are not whittled down by ‘Section 12 regulations’ in Westminster as Theresa May seemed bent on doing.
It is surely a unionist imperative at this juncture to endow Scotland with greater self-government as a nation within the UK than it would enjoy as a nominally-sovereign member of the EU, without a legal opt-out from the euro, at the mercy of the Fiscal Compact and the deflationary anti-Keynesian ideology of monetary union.
From a strict economic point of view nothing has improved for the independence cause since 2014, and much is now worse. Gone are hopes of an oil and gas rentier endowment. Brent crude no longer trades in a range around $110 a barrel as it did from 2011 to 2014, creating the illusion of a permanent plateau and permanent subsidy.
Agile frackers in the US shale belt have upset the balance of power in the global oil industry with short-cycle operations that kick in whenever prices rise above $60, leading to a supply surge that nips each rally in the bud. The OPEC-Russia alliance keeps having to extend output cuts to stop prices falling.
Yes, US shale growth might level off in the early 2020s but by then electric cars will be cheap enough to match the combustion engine, eating away at the proverbial ‘marginal barrel’, with the prospect of fossil car bans in the major cities of Europe accelerating the switch. In short, North Sea oil is in terminal political and commercial run-off.
I have no doubt that the resourceful Scots could make their way alone once they get over the first decade of economic trauma, welfare cuts, and systemic austerity – certainly faster than Ireland’s half century in the wilderness, thanks to De Valera’s autarkic obscurantism. But from a fiscal standpoint Scotland is currently a dependency state, in stark contrast to Catalonia, Flanders, or Alto Adige. It is not a net contributor to the central budget: it is a recipient of net transfers on a grand scale.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies says the implicit budget deficit was 7.9pc of GDP last year. Somehow the SNP is going to cut this to under 3pc over a decade, to placate EU inspectors and bond market vigilantes, and do this in the midst of a first order macroeconomic shock, with an ageing crisis for good measure. “It is a recipe for an almost never ending dose of austerity,” says Professor Ronald MacDonald from Glasgow University.
Such was the retrenchment imposed by EU-IMF Troika on Greece, which failed even on its own crude terms, causing the debt ratio to rise by shrinking the underlying economic base. The cuts cannot be squared with the SNP’s promise of a nordic social policy paradise. “Global investors should not worry about Scoxit any time soon,” is the acid verdict of Mike Gallagher from Continuum Economics.
The 2014 confusion over the interim Scottish currency remains. Would it shadow sterling without the Bank of England acting as a lender-of-last resort in a liquidity crisis, and without adequate reserves to defend the peg in the way that Hong Kong’s well-armed currency board defends its shadow peg?
Would a future Scottish coin be fixed to the euro (ERM-2), and therefore be painfully misaligned with UK and US trade flows. The incoherence is spelled out in “Choose Your Poison: the SNP’s Currency Headache” by These Islands, the forum of Scottish pro-union economists.
What of the SNP’s assertion that an independent Scotland would begin “debt free” (by some off-books conjuring trick) and with a “solidarity payment” from London as a dowry? One might reasonably suppose the exact opposite: that Scotland would inherit its share of the accumulated UK debt, and that this would spiral upwards to 100pc of GDP in short order due to the structural deficit. Were it to repudiate these shared liabilities by asserting the doctrine of “odious debt”, as if it were a conquered Baltic state escaping the Soviet Union, its woes would compound.
Were Scotland to go further and declare unilateral independence – like Catalonia, where regional leaders have been locked away in an Iberian Gulag – it would start life in diplomatic as well as economic ostracism, a turbo-charged variant of the worst ‘no deal’. Spain would without question block EU accession in such circumstances. Scotland’s position would be catastrophic.
This is now the post-Catalan, post-Brexit reality. Nicola Sturgeon may have to settle for less than she lets on – whatever the pro-forma demands for Indyref2 – instead exploiting the SNP’s electoral triumph this month as leverage to secure full ‘Quebec’ status within the UK.
A Borisian Brexit is not the clincher for Scottish independence so widely assumed in the world media. One might equally argue that it renders the dream all but impossible. Money matters in the cold light of day.
All of which is far too intelligently argued and truthful for the SNP to cope with. But that’s their problem.
And there’s a lot more. Apart from the reliable brilliance of Effie Deans (history, sovereignty and all that) and Kevin Hague(economics, real life) on the blogging front, there’s an emerging guerrilla movement in the press, and here is Jennie Hjul in the Courier…
There is a long series of SNP decline and fall pieces on this blog. Rational observers foresaw their demise a few years ago now.
One such observer is the great Gerald Warner, one of the wittiest and acerbic commentators on the body politic, and, if you bump into him, a generous, convivial drinking companion for visitors to Glasgow’s West End.
I reproduce his latest piece in full, as it’s behind a paywall. It strikes me as being entirely accurate and true, and also wickedly funny, even in the unlikely event that one retains a vestigial admiration for the SNP Follies: see references to the hapless Kenny MacAskill, and ‘Salmond Agonistes’.
The end is nigh!
The law of probability always dictated, in defiance of apparent likelihood, that somewhere on the planet there must be someone leading a government as chaotic, incompetent and beleaguered as Theresa May’s. The challenge was to identify such a politician. Now, however, the quest is over: come on down, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and precarious leader of an imploding and fissiparous SNP administration and party in meltdown.
When two women civil servants made complaints of sexual misconduct against Alex Salmond, former Scottish First Minister, last year, the allegations provoked a buzz of interest in the Holyrood village and in the media; but nobody could have foreseen the seismic consequences of this development. Salmond was out of office (though the allegations related to the time when he was First Minister), so it was widely assumed his status as a private citizen would reduce the impact of the controversy.
Fat chance. Nothing involving Salmond is ever low profile. One does not have to support his disastrous separatist agenda or warm to his rebarbative personality to recognize that Salmond has for two decades been one of the very few big beasts in Scottish politics. Admittedly, as the minimal impact he made in his career at Westminster demonstrated, Salmond’s eminence at Holyrood was that of the one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind. In the pygmy environment of post-devolution Scottish politics Salmond dominated Holyrood like Gulliver in Lilliput.
He has always been a highly dangerous politician. He had his lapses, some of them ludicrous, such as his “penny for Scotland” tax hike proposal and his denunciation of the “unpardonable folly” of Nato intervention in Kosovo. Yet he always bounced back, seemingly undamaged. Any wise opponent knows that getting into conflict with Salmond means encountering a ruthless scorched-earth policy.
That is how Salmond reacted when the Scottish civil service made him the first subject of its newly minted complaints procedure on sexual harassment. Incredibly – to anyone unfamiliar with the crass incompetence of all levels of governance in Scotland – the woman appointed to investigate the complaints had had prior contact with the two female civil servants who made the allegations, having given them “welfare” counselling in November 2017. The complaints were formally lodged in January 2018. A separate police inquiry is still ongoing.
Salmond took legal action, crowdfunded by his supporters, and sought a judicial review in the Court of Session. The Scottish government initially stated that it would “defend its position vigorously”. That stance crumbled into humiliating surrender last Tuesday as the lawyers for Sturgeon’s government conceded that prior contact had occurred – denounced by Salmond’s legal team as “encouragement” to the complainants.
The court ruled that the Scottish government’s actions had been “unlawful in respect that they were procedurally unfair and that they were tainted with apparent bias”. Salmond then called for the head of the Scottish civil service, Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, who introduced the new code of investigation which the court found her own staff had breached, to consider her position.
He has also now lodged a complaint with the UK Information Commissioner’s Office over apparent leaks about his case to the media. So far, therefore, Salmond has put the Scottish civil service on the back foot, humiliated Sturgeon’s government in Scotland’s highest court and opened a second front on the data protection issue. Yet all that is the least of it.
His principal victim is Nicola Sturgeon, whose credibility lies in tatters following startling revelations about her behind-the-scenes involvement. Until April last year, in accordance with official procedure, Sturgeon was apparently kept in ignorance of the allegations against Salmond. On 2 April, however, she met Salmond at her Glasgow home, with her chief of staff Liz Lloyd (now also in Salmond’s cross-hairs) in attendance. On that occasion Salmond told Sturgeon about the complaints against him.
Generous-minded people might give Nicola Sturgeon the benefit of the doubt over that first meeting, when she might possibly have been ambushed. But her two subsequent meetings with him in Aberdeen and Glasgow, as well as two telephone conversations, one as late as July, drove a coach and horses through all governmental propriety. The kindest term for this backroom conduct would be a catastrophic error of judgement. But people who make such errors are unfit to govern, so that Sturgeon’s political career is now hanging by a thread.
At this week’s First Minister’s Questions she was harried mercilessly by opponents and clearly no longer in command of her brief. She insisted her meetings with Salmond had not been connected with government matters, but were “party” business. For the Conservatives Jackson Carlaw said: “Her position appears to be a meeting between the First Minister of the government and the former first minister of the government, about a government investigation, involving two government employees was not government business. Really, how?”
The knives are out for Sturgeon on all sides. Alex Neil, a former SNP health secretary, has called for a public inquiry into the government’s “unlawful” handling of the complaints against Salmond. Sturgeon is also under enormous pressure to refer herself to ethics watchdogs under the accusation of having broken the ministerial code.
Kenny MacAskill, the former SNP justice minister who first articulated the doctrine that it is no part of the responsibility of the police to protect the public and who famously released the Lockerbie bomber (Oh, the past triumphs of SNP statecraft!), claimed that a puritanical clique (sic) around Sturgeon was “driving out” people perceived as a threat to her reputation. Er – thanks for injecting that Da Vinci Code flavour into the proceedings, Kenny.
Nicola Sturgeon did make one significant point during FMQs, but it is likely she herself did not recognize its sinister implications. She said there was an inconsistency in her being accused by Mr Salmond of a conspiracy against him while being accused by others of a conspiracy in his favour.
That is perfectly true, but it brings no comfort to Sturgeon. The SNP has sundered into two factions: Sturgeonites and Salmondistas. The underlying reason is the frenzied frustration of the SNP’s ultra-nationalist wing at Sturgeon’s failure to deliver a second independence referendum. The IndyRef2 brigade makes the wildest Home Counties Remainer headbangers look sane and sensible. The ideological magma has been boiling up below the surface and the perceived victimization of Salmond is the perfect proxy cause for a political eruption.
This independence faultline always posed the gravest threat to the SNP, but until now has been managed fairly adroitly by party managers. But the SNP is already a minority government, it has been in power for 12 years and the electoral pendulum is likely to put it out of office at the next election. So, the fundamentalists are in a mood to go for it, persuading themselves that Brexit is an opportunity when, in reality, it is a guarantee against the Scottish electorate taking a further leap in the dark.
The SNP was approaching the end: it has run Scottish Health and Education into the ground. But with Salmond Agonistes pulling down the pillars, the edifice is in imminent threat of collapse. The infighting in the SNP now resembles a saloon brawl in a John Wayne film: hardly anybody knows why they are fighting; the joy is in the conflict.
I haven’t bothered to write on this since January. Not because there hasn’t been stuff, but it’s getting tedious just documenting new episodes in the already massive catalogue of Nat failure. There’s no shortage really, Eck still hoovering up the roubles on Russia Today, despite recent events, Humza’s general hopelessness, the mysteriously poorly photographed Zoomer march on Glasgow with outrageously exaggerated attendance (which the SNP decided not to attend, wonder why?), the pathetic writhing about how Scots love the EU (they don’t). The list goes on. In fact the SNP obsession with banning things that most voters like is producing negative feedback, amusingly.
Instead I draw the attention of anyone who is interested to a nuanced piece by former SNP insider, Alex Bell, who in recent times has painstakingly deconstructed the whole SNP edifice of winging it and make believe.
She has led the devolved administration into a showdown with Westminster. Holyrood says No to the post-Brexit divvy up of powers, Downing Street says Yes. All that matters now is what the Supreme Court says, and what Westminster concludes when the deal is put to the Commons.
We can be pretty sure the court will rule this is a matter for the sovereign government – Westminster – and so force the deal on Holyrood. It is impossible at this stage to say what Westminster will do, given so much is still unknown, and what is known is so confused.
Yet the SNP’s grip is slipping. Not least because Sturgeon is staking her reputation in a fight over devolution, which isn’t even her party’s policy.
The Tory government wants Westminster to hold power over matters such as agriculture and food standards because British nationalists think they’ll need to cut deals in these areas in order to strike new trade partnerships across the world when out of the EU.
Sturgeon and Holyrood, except for the Tory MSPs, want powers returning from the EU to go straight to Edinburgh. So we are not getting a constitutional crisis over independence and not because Scotland rejected Brexit.
Instead it’s a crisis over devolution. This is, then, not her fight. If she wins, all she has done is secure the devolution settlement. If she loses, she looks too weak to fight her big cause, independence.
All of which sounds terribly dull and fairly inconsequential, but it’s really a reflection on how the Nats’ general policy is to pick fights, lose them, and pick some more. There is no vision being built. Poor Andrew Wilson, a nice, normal person, was tasked a long time ago with producing a coherent long term economic strategy for independence, to replace Eck’s failed oil bunkum. It’s yet to appear.
Alex goes on:
Yet the last thing the indy cause needs is another referendum any time soon. Asking the same question and expecting a different answer is the pop definition of stupid. In the years since the last vote, not a single bone has been added to the skeletal case of 2014. Yet Sturgeon is in the odd position of having weaponised her own supporters.
It’s a great piece, and has a painful, if truthful punchline for the current First Minister….She’s in a bad place, and it won’t end well.
As 2017 ends, this long running saga is drawing to a close. It’s been 3 months since the last episode, and in truth, not much has happened. Not much in Scotland, that is, although events elsewhere have conspired to put a further dampener on the whole SNP raison d’etre (unless you cynically believe that such a thing is in fact the mere fact of clinging to power and the associated trappings, with independence merely a Scottish avatar). So….
51. Ozymandias Salmond
Although Shelley’s paean to fallen grandeur and the passage of time had a certain romantic majesty, it’s difficult to claim as much for the fate of Alex Salmond. Not only does he seem to think that a gruesome chat show on the amusingly barefaced bias of Russia Today is some sort of positive career move, he’s in trouble for blatantly lying in his opening episode, so short was he of ‘material’. In keeping with no. 49 in this series, there’s a bit of unhappiness between Eck and Ms Sturgeon on this one, which is strange given they’re one big happy family. Talking of which, the ubiquitous Tas has been both getting exposed to Eck’s undoubted sartorial flair (see pic), and being punted (by Eck) as a fashion guru herself to deal with the…um…shortcomings of middle class legend SNP MP Mhairi Black. To quote Ms Black:
He then said that the last time he’d had this conversation it was with a young woman called Nicola Sturgeon.
“I thought, ‘oh, very good’ and I just left the awkward silence hanging when he asked me if I wanted him to arrange it with Taz. I’m like, ‘I am never going to be told how to dress, especially by a man.’
No need to reprise the whole Catalonia secession thing. Suffice to say that despite the ignorant and rather pathetic urgings of various SNP lackeys, neither the glorified opinion poll of October 2017, nor the actual national elections of last month, lead to anything like independence, nor is there any hard evidence that it would be popular.
In fact the Spanish have lead the way on this by issuing various arrest warrants, such that the floppy haired Salmond manqué (and talk show guest) Puigdemont, ran away from the heat and is now in exile.
Oh, and the SNP’s beloved EU backed Spain to the hilt on this. As any sane observer would expect them to.
53. Tax the ‘rich’
The SNP, having avoided using their tax raising powers for a long time (with good reason), have now caved in, and courtesy of the ‘limited’ Delboy Mackay, their Finance Minister, have decided to punish the middle classes.
It may please the zoomer base, but as a general observation, these things never end well. Interestingly, it coincides with Trump’s bold application of Laffer Curve principles in the USA. We’ll see how that works out as the year unfolds.
54. Reflections on the Revolution in Scotland
(misquoting Edmund Burke).
The Knife has continued to be impressed by the resemblance (1, 2) of the intolerant zealots of the SNP to their French predecessors, the Jacobins of the French Revolution. In keeping with their bizarre attempts to take over the rearing of the nation’s children, and to impose a monoculture on debate within their masses, I was struck by the similar mood music of the Law of Suspects, which the National Convention of 1793 passed in France:
“1. Immediately after the publication of the present decree, all suspects within the territory of the Republic and still at large, shall be placed in custody.
2. The following are deemed suspects:
i. those who, by their conduct, associations, comments, or writings have shown themselves partisans of tyranny or federalism and enemies of liberty;
ii. those who are unable to justify, in the manner prescribed by the decree of March 21st, their means of existence and the performance of their civic duties;
iii. those to whom certificates of patriotism have been refused
…and there’s more. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, although a stroll round SNP Twitter might persuade you otherwise, it’s just that there’s a certain doctrinaire flavour that keeps cropping up…
To close, over to a better and more measured writer than me, Euan McColm, with his New Year observations:
Nationalists now growing impatient with the First Minister over her hesitancy will, I think, be further disappointed in the year ahead.
Sturgeon is understandably keen to maintain the myth that she is in control of when another referendum takes place but the power to make this decision lies with Westminster and, after the general election showed a majority of votes for unionist parties, the UK government would have no hesitation in rejecting the First Minister’s proposal. This, I suppose, might play into the SNP narrative about a Scotland forced to bend the knee by the Westminsters (which is what we must now call the English) but no matter the grievance dividend, it will not get Sturgeon the referendum she says she wants.
The challenge for the First Minister in the months ahead is to keep her hardcore supporters happy with just enough constitutional meat while winning back the trust of unionist Scots who were previously happy to back the SNP in Holyrood elections but who are now weary of and frustrated by the nationalists’ obsession with another referendum.
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..
Eck continues (see 47) to damn his successor with faint praise, knowing exactly what the headlines will say.
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.
Why, she demanded to know, genuine frustration in her voice, wasn’t Labour praising her achievements? Cruelly, Kezia Dugdale’s group broke into sarcastic applause and cheering. The SNP leader was baffled by it all. You would be too if you got your news from The National and had rules against internal party dissent that make the Chinese Communist politburo look like a model of open debate.
….and Twitter remains invaluable:
…watch the development from the last tweet. Gerald Warner is always precise:
So, a few little local difficulties, then, for the poor man’s Angela Merkel. At least she still has the consolation of being the highest paid politician in Britain, which suggests that, among the political class, remuneration is in inverse proportion to ability.
Gordon Brown ruined his own party partly by taking the Scots for granted, and amusingly if predictably, the Nats are copying him. Corbyn is now going for them. Corbyn of all people – Mr Free Stuff versus the party of Free Stuff. And if you read wise owl @euanmccolm, they don’t know what to do about it.
44.The Fringe beckons…
Salmond promises to talk about his relationship with Trump at this year’s Fringe. Heavily redacted, no doubt
As I often point out, none of this is about a problem with Scotland as such. It’s all about a problem with the SNP – who for the most part are bullying, limited, rabble rousing, unimaginative power freaks. They almost never make a legitimate case for independence based on sovereignty, with all the risks honestly explained.
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!