Saturday 14 March 2020

Scotland is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

In politics we expect people to disagree about values. It is not unusual for them to disagree about facts. But in Scotland we live in different worlds. There is SNP truth and the truth of everyone else. There is no longer a shared truth. We live separate lives and believe separate things. SNP separatism has indeed triumphed, but not in the way they intended.

But there is truth. There are facts. You can only keep on going for so long with opinions that are contrary to fact. Reality has a way of intruding. It matters that we know the facts about the Scottish economy and the performance of all the other areas that the Scottish Parliament controls. It matters because how else are we to judge the performance of Scottish politicians. Unless Scottish voters have a shared truth about Scottish hospitals, teachers and the police how are we to make these things better?

 The problem is that there is a secrecy at the heart of the Scottish Government. SNP politicians and even ordinary members are told that they may not voice any criticism of the SNP. For the most part they don’t need to be told this. They would not criticise it anyway.

We know little about what goes on inside innermost circle of the SNP. I don’t know how much SNP members or politicians know, but I suspect even they don’t know what goes on at the very highest level. Who really controls strategy? How are MPs and MSPs selected? Who gets promotion and who gets demotion? None of us really know.

Suddenly someone who ran a pro independence group in 2014 becomes an MP. Is this the only qualification necessary? If I had been an independence supporter would I now be earning a large amount of money either as an MP or MSP? Who decides that this one is a sheep while that one is a goat?

The Scottish Parliament has a great deal of power. It is at least comparable to the power of a state in the United States. The SNP Government has more power than most comparable places in the EU. Yet it’s hard to think of an SNP politician who is obviously an expert on the areas they control. Our new finance minister is a History graduate with an MSc in Diaspora and Migration History and a few years’ experience working as an accountant. She is no doubt bright, but the only qualification she really needed was enthusiastic support for independence. The idea of such a person running the finance of California would be considered comical.

The SNP culture of secrecy extends not merely to their party but also to the Civil Service, the media, arts, health, education and the police.

The British Civil Service is fully independent of Government. This is what the recent arguments have been about. The Civil Service at times disagrees with the Government. There are non-Conservative voices in the media and the police, and they dominate the arts and education.  Where are these dissenting voices in Scotland?

How many Conservatives, Labour or Liberal Democratic people remain in the Scottish Civil Service? Were they the ones who wrote Scotland’s Future in 2013?

The SNP control the purse strings and so Scottish newspapers, arts bodies, schools and universities keep silent. It isn’t like that elsewhere. It isn’t like that in other parts of Britain and it isn’t like that in other parts of Europe.

Only now are we beginning to get a glimpse into the inner workings of the Scottish Government.  There has been a cover-up culture for years. Civil servants were encouraged by the SNP to keep silent about some things. Who knows what else they were encouraged to say nothing about?

The SNP is a single-issue party that doesn’t really care about anything other than Scottish independence. They choose politicians because of loyalty and devotion to this cause. But they also choose everything else on this basis.

Are the people who are chosen to build a hospital, or some ferries chosen because they are experts or because they are ideologically aligned with the SNP? Are administrators in Scotland chosen because of their competence or because they are SNP fellow travellers?

The first instinct of the SNP is to blame someone else for everything that goes wrong in Scotland. The SNP and their supporters universally fail to take responsibility for anything. When something goes wrong, they are inclined to first bury it, second keep silent about it and if that doesn’t work blame Westminster. Having a conversation with Scottish nationalists is like watching Gaelic on TV “Gibberish, gibberish, independence, gibberish, gibberish Westminster, gibberish, gibberish, inevitable.” It bores me because I know what they are going to say before they do.

There is no shared truth in Scotland, because there are layers upon layers of lies and silence masking it. We see only dim shadows on the wall of the Platonic cave. For this reason, some of us can believe one thing about Scotland and others believe the opposite. It’s not that we have differing opinions we don’t even share the same country. It’s as if half of us have moved abroad.  Scotland is a foreign country; they do things differently there.