Wednesday 30 September 2020

The smell of corruption

The Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints has come to a halt. It cannot proceed further at the moment because of witnesses not attending and evidence not being supplied.

The Committee (otherwise known as the Salmond Inquiry) is waiting for responses from the Scottish Government, SNP Chief Peter Murrell (Nicola Sturgeon’s husband) and Alex Salmond.

Linda Fabiani (an SNP MSP) has complained about obstruction and being frustrated at key documents and testimony not being provided.

The remit of the Committee covers:

The First minister (Nicola Sturgeon)

Scottish Government officials.

Scottish Government Special advisers.


If the inquiry discovered the whole truth of who knew what and when about the harassment complaints involving Alex Salmond, it could be extremely damaging for the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon.

Suppose for instance that it could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Nicola Sturgeon had been told in 2013-2014 that staff at Bute House had complained about Alex Salmond sexually assaulting them, this would be highly damaging to her reputation. We could reasonably ask if she chose to bury what she knew out of fear that it would damage the chances of a Yes vote in the 2014 independence referendum.

Imagine if during the months leading up to the vote the media had heard from women who said that Salmond had assaulted and attempted to rape them. This would have completely destroyed the credibility of Salmond as leader of the campaign, whether or not the claims could be proven in court.

There is no way that the Yes campaign would have received 44% of the vote. It might have been lucky to reach 30%. Under those circumstances there would have been no mass increase in SNP support in 2015 and the years following. Scottish independence would now be a dead political issue.

So, a huge amount hangs on what Sturgeon and her SNP colleagues knew when Mr Salmond was allegedly committing offences in the same building (Bute House) where they had their meetings. The staff who complained about Mr Salmond would have known Sturgeon and every other senior SNP party figure.

We are supposed to believe that none of these people knew anything at all about the allegations when they happened, but only found out in 2017.

The old guard SNP are a close-knit group who have known each other often since they were teenagers. It is stretches credibility to suppose that they knew absolutely nothing about Salmond’s behaviour and the complaints about it. Did they really not tell each other? Anyone who has worked in an office knows that this isn’t how life works. If the boss is having affairs with the secretaries everyone knows about it.

At present the inquiry is stalled. We are left to speculate why. But what can be done?

Well according to the Scottish Parliament’s regulations on committees:

5.12. Committees can invite and have the power to require witnesses to submit written evidence and attend to give oral evidence.

Has this committee required people to attend and required them to give evidence?

On what basis can people be legally forced to give testimony and provide evidence?

5.13. The power to require the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents is derived from section 23 of the Scotland Act and from Rule 12.4. It applies in relation to any subject for which the Scottish Government has general responsibility.

The same law that gives us a Scottish Parliament in the first place gives its committees the right to make people attend and give evidence. The Committee’s remit explicitly covers the actions of the Scottish Government.

Why doesn’t someone on the Committee point out either that it is required that Sturgeon, Murrell and Salmond provide evidence and if this point has already been made to them, why are the police not called to enforce the law?

The problem of course is that this is Scotland. The police have been centralised and put firmly under the control of the Scottish Government. The law and those who interpret are subject to the influence of the Scottish Government.

Sturgeon, Murrell, Salmond and others are unlikely to very scared of Linda Fabiani or anyone else on the Committee.

But if all of these people had absolutely nothing to hide, why are they not gratefully accepting the invitation to appear before the Committee with all the evidence that they have available? It is reasonable to infer that there is something that they know that they don’t wish us to know. What could this be?

It could be something that is damaging to their reputations, something that would damage the SNP and something that would damage the prospects of Scotland becoming independent. Such a something could for instance be that Nicola Sturgeon, Peter Murrell and everyone else in the SNP knew all about the allegations about Alex Salmond in 2013 and 2014 but chose to keep silent out of fear that they would damage the cause of independence.

The biggest danger of independence is not that Scotland would be poorer than we are at present, though at least in the short term we would obviously be much poorer. The danger is that having won independence the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon would be rewarded with decades of unchallenged power. The idea that post-independence, Scottish Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems would suddenly replace the SNP is about as likely as Benedict Arnold beating George Washington to be First President of the United States.

Sturgeon and Murrell run Scotland like a family business, but there are limits on their power, because Scotland is part of the UK and there are whole chunks of British life that the SNP can’t touch. Imagine if there was no limit to their power.

It would be unimaginable if a parliamentary committee in Washington, London or any other European capital city required a witness to attend a meeting and provide evidence and the witness just ignored the requirement. This is the sort of behaviour that we associate with corrupt regimes where democracy is a matter of going through the motions and the judgment of courts are decided on the basis of political expediency.

In Scotland today can we expect a fair inquiry or indeed a fair trial when the SNP are involved? What would it be like after independence when there would be no check on the Sturgeon’s power?

The danger of Scottish nationalism is not so much that people motivated by the cause of independence might be willing to ignore allegations of sexual harassment until it was more convenient to do so, the danger is that voters might be willing to ignore corruption because it would be worth a bit of corruption if only we could get independence.

I have lived in places that are ruled by corruption. It doesn’t feel much like independence, because you depend on giving a bribe or using someone you know to get the least little thing done. You end up depending on corruption and you are never free from it.

You can smell corruption because it is everywhere, and its smell gets into your clothes and you can’t quite get rid of it no matter how much you wash them. It begins to smell like that in Scotland.

Tuesday 29 September 2020

Postpone Holyrood forever


Do you remember last year? The SNP were promising that there would be a second independence referendum in 2020. What happened to it? Why didn’t we have it? Or is it still to come in the next few weeks only I haven’t noticed the campaigning?

No. At some point Nicola Sturgeon admitted that indyref2 would not be happening in 2020 due to Covid. It might have been difficult to vote when we were all in lockdown.

But the SNP did not give up on Indyref2 and the postponement wasn’t for long. The plan is to hold another referendum in 2021. At the Scottish Parliament Election due to happen next May the SNP, the Greens and the Alliance for Independence (or SNP mark II) will campaign for a second referendum. Some people think if they get a big enough majority this will put sufficient pressure on Boris Johnson to grant it. Others think he will say, constitutional matters are reserved and outside the remit of Scottish Parliament elections and anyway the Conservative manifesto of 2019 was clear about there being no second referendum for the next five years at least.

There has been lots of excitement this summer because of these uncertainties. The Alliance for Unity has been created because the Pro UK side wants to stop the SNP gaining a majority. This is only partly because we think it would be better for someone else to have the chance to run Scotland, someone who might actually focus on things like education and healthcare (i.e. devolved matters), rather than continually focus on reserved matters (i.e. independence).

But to be honest if the SNP gave up their dream of independence, I would be quite happy for them to run the Scottish Parliament forever.  Run it well, run it badly I am not especially interested.

It was for this reason when I heard that the Scottish Parliament elections next may might be postponed, I reacted with glee. Couldn’t they be postponed forever? An aging Nicol Sturgeon could continue ruling her Scottish Parliament indefinitely and as MSPs died and were not replaced in time the building would be left empty. Sturgeon would begin to resemble Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, only in her case it would be the Divorce of the UK that was postponed. Let SNP dreams rot like Miss Havisham’s wedding cake by postponing next May until Kingdom Come.

But it is likely that at some point in 2021 we will still have the postponed Scottish Parliament Election. How much will it be postponed? We don’t know what will be happening with Covid. Perhaps there will be a third or a fourth wave in the Autumn of 2021. Perhaps the waves will continue crashing onto the beach for ever.

But if Scotland is not going to be ready to hold a Scottish Parliament election next May, how could we be ready to hold a second independence referendum in 2021? How indeed could we be ready to actually become independent in 2022, 2023 and so on?

At what point does Nicola Sturgeon admit to the SNP faithful that indyref2 is not going to happen in 2021 either? If the Scottish Parliament elections are postponed until September, how would we cram indyref2 into the remaining months of 2021?

But given that we don’t even know if it will be possible to have a Scottish Parliament election, how can the SNP possibly make a manifesto commitment to an independence referendum either in 2021 or even in 2022.

There must be at least a caveat that they would only ask to have indyref2 if Covid allowed it. So, the SNP’s manifesto commitment to indyref2, which is a commitment to something outwith their control (i.e. it is reserved) is in another sense outwith their control because it depends on factors that no one can possibly predict.

What we are left with then is the same SNP aspiration to independence that they have had since 1934 and the same commitment to holding indyref2 at some point in the future that they have had since 2014.  Why don’t we all just go back to yawning?

We are in the absurd position of the SNP demanding ever more generosity from the UK Government and a never-ending commitment to protect Scottish jobs and businesses with Treasury money. We have Kate Forbes complaining about the Chancellor not having a budget because it makes it impossible for her to calculate how much she will get from the Barnett formula, while still officially campaigning to break up the UK, give up the Barnett formula, and not pay back any of the money that the Treasury has borrowed. If she thinks she needs Treasury money to run Scotland how does she suppose Scotland would manage without it? If all Scottish funding came from Scottish taxpayers today, which would be the case after independence, there would be no need for a Barnett formula nor indeed for the Treasury’s job retention schemes. If Scotland were ready for independence Kate Forbes would have the money now to do whatever she wants. Admitting that she doesn’t is the same as admitting we are not ready for indyref2. So why campaign for it.

We face the most uncertain times in decades. No one knows what will happen either with Covid or the economy. It’s hard to imagine a worse time to hold a second independence referendum and it’s hard to imagine a worse time for Scotland to become a new nation state separate from the rest of Britain.

The SNP leadership must know in their hearts that there will be no indyref2 in 2021 nor probably for years after that. If we can’t manage to hold an election in May 2020 how on earth could we manage going it alone. Why doesn’t Sturgeon admit it? She knows that she would instantly lose her job and be run out of town on a rail.

So, we all have to go through the fiction that independence is just around the corner otherwise Scottish nationalists would send round the fiery cross to gather the clans. They have to be promised every year that indyref2 will be next year even when everyone knows that it won’t be. Please postpone the Scottish Parliament elections forever. Then at least we would be spared from performing this charade.


Monday 28 September 2020

Is the SNP deliberately spreading Covid?


There has been a sharp spike in Covid infections among teenagers in Scotland? Another word for these teenagers here is students. These students are now being allowed to go home. So, we might expect a sharp rise in infections when they get there. Is the Scottish Government deliberately spreading Covid?

SNP rules imprisoning students lasted about two days. There is a pattern here. The SNP had a plan on exam results, but in the face of mass objections from pupils and parents marks were increased. The reward for your increased mark turned out to be imprisonment.

Now students will be able to return home and study there. The rules have been modified to allow anyone to return home for wellbeing reasons. The SNP have provided students with a set of loopholes which means any student who wants to go home would have to try very hard indeed to be punished for doing so. This means, of course, that no one will be punished. The doors of the halls of residence prisons have been flung open. The SNP have given every student “Freeeeeedom” and will expect them all to vote SNP next time there is an election.

The result is that apart from a few poor souls from overseas who will remain stuck in now empty halls of residence pretty much anyone who can will get out as soon as possible.


The Grand old Duchess of Bute

She had 200,000 students

She marched them up to the top of the Halls

And she marched them home again.


We are back then to where we should have been in the first place. From March to the summer teaching at university was online, most buildings were shut and there was very limited access to laboratories and libraries. But those who really wanted to learn could do so pretty much as well as they could before.

There are subjects that require access to equipment some require experiments and the cutting up of dead animals and people. But all of these subjects have a theoretical aspect that can be taught from books. It would have been perfectly possible to teach the theoretical aspect until Covid is finished. There was therefore no reason at all for the vast majority of students to return to campus.

Why didn’t the SNP decide over the summer that universities in Scotland would continue as they had from March to the summer. After all the SNP has the power to tell us not to go out of our houses. They had the power to do this.

There is a tendency among SNP supporters to say, “What about England?” They say look England is making the same mistake as us. But this doesn’t absolve the SNP of responsibility. If two burglars are caught, you don’t get to say, “But he is from England.” Sturgeon was willing on numerous occasions to give different advice to Scots and Scotland had different Covid policies on all sorts of things. So, the decision that students should return to campus was Sturgeon’s and hers alone.

I suspect that the SNP were concerned about rented accommodation in the Scottish university cities remaining empty. Universities would have argued that students should return to campus because otherwise halls of residence would not have generated rents.

But lots of businesses in Scotland have suffered because of Covid restrictions, why should universities be exempt? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the SNP has made a great deal of political capital over the years from the fact that universities are “free” for Scots. Perhaps Sturgeon was scared that if campuses were closed those students who pay fees (English, Welsh, Northern Irish and overseas students) wouldn’t come at all, which would rather stuff her ability to keep Scottish students fee free.

The main reason however for SNP incompetence on devolved issues like health and education is that neither the SNP nor its supporters care about these issues. They focus instead almost entirely on a reserved issue that is completely outwith the remit of the Scottish Government.

Constitutional change, i.e. independence is not devolved. It is not (contrary to Keir Starmer), the business of the Scottish Parliament, yet it is the only thing that the SNP thinks about. This is why it makes such frequent mistakes on education (exams, universities), law and order (Humza’s law) and Health (care home deaths, and now more Covid cases in Scotland now than ever before). If you elect a Government solely because of its views on the constitution don’t be surprised that it turns out to be incompetent on everything else.

Students have wasted money on accommodation on campus that turned out to be falsely advertised. Instead of the best years of your life, you got porridge.

They will now return home, and now that university is only online many will feel that they would prefer not to bother. Anyone who is primarily concerned with learning need not be disappointed. You can learn just as well online. But if you are primarily interested in living away from home, meeting new people and having a great social life, then sorry, you are not going to get that.

This is why Sturgeon took the decision to open campuses in Scotland. Higher education has expanded way beyond those students who primarily want to learn. Campus life is the attraction without which students won’t study at all.

We are now going to test the motivation of students. If you really want to learn then you can, but to be brutally honest if you want to leave home and have fun, you might be better off getting a job if you can find one. It will provide you with the same life lessons as university and you might even make a profit.

The SNP’s decision to open campuses has imprisoned students unjustly although briefly it has cost them money and made them pay university fees for courses they perhaps now will not want to study from home. It has also spread Covid in Scottish university towns and will spread it elsewhere as students make their way home. How many grannies will die unnecessarily as a result?

The pity of it is that these same students will blame Boris Johnson who had nothing to do with the decision and adore Nicola Sturgeon whose progressiveness extended to jailing them. Those who are incapable of learning simple lessons are unlikely to benefit from higher education.

Scotland needs to be begin learning lessons too or else we can continue with SNP misrule.  


Saturday 26 September 2020

Black Lives Matter rioters are themselves racists


The demonstrations and disorder over the murder of George Floyd have ceased on British streets. What we are left with is the National Trust investigating who paid for country houses, Edinburgh University cancelling David Hume and a controversy over a dance act on an ITV talent contest. Is this what the demonstrators in May and June wanted to achieve?

But in the United States demonstrations, riots and disorder have taken place all summer. The latest is in Louisville Kentucky because of an incident on March 13th, 2020 involving police offers entering the apartment of Breonna Taylor while exercising a search warrant. Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker shot at the police who returned fire killing Taylor. There was a court case on 23rd September where the grand jury indicted one of the officers for wanton endangerment, but no one was indicted for Taylor’s death.

The case is tragic. It is clear that an innocent person, Taylor, died. The facts are disputed. But this is why there are courts of law to judge about what happened. The United States has one of the best legal systems in the world. If people disagree with laws, they can campaign in elections to have them changed.   

But for the demonstrators and rioters this isn’t enough. They are rioting because they didn’t like the verdict of the court. They wanted one or more of the police officers to be charged with killing Taylor. Because the court did not decide this, they accuse the court decision of being racist.

But there is a pattern emerging in these cases. The police were called to Taylor’s apartment because they suspected criminal activity taking place there. They thought someone was selling drugs. No drugs were in fact found. But the police didn’t just pick this apartment at random and they didn’t pick it because the occupants were black. If that had been their motivation, they could have picked any apartment with a black occupant. It may be that the police were mistaken, but it is reasonable to assume that the police were following a lead.

If you were a police officer with a warrant to search an apartment and someone shot at you what would you do? Firstly, you would assume that the suspect had something to hide. Secondly you would defend yourself. All of this would happen in a split second. The police officers would fear for their lives. One of the officers had been hit by Walker’s shot.

It may be that it was a tragic error on Walker’s part to shoot the police officer. He may have thought the police were intruders. It may also have been a tragic mistake of the police officers to return fire killing Taylor. But the chain of events that led up to the death was that the police suspected criminal activity and they were fired upon.

The police have a much harder job in the United States than the police have in Britain. Even in London British police officers would not expect to be shot at immediately after forcing entry into a property. But in the United States police officers frequently have to risk their lives when trying to arrest criminals.

In the United States Black Lives Matter grew out of a large number of black people being killed by the police. It has always been assumed that these killings occur because of police racism. There is no doubt that some police officers are racist. Racism is a part of all societies and especially American society which has a long history of racial conflict.

But why are there no Korean Lives Matter, Jewish Lives Matter or Indian Lives Matter movements. Why are there no demonstrations complaining about the huge numbers of brown (Indian and Pakistani Americans) people who have been unjustly killed by the police?

Is it that the police are racist about Blacks but not racist about Browns? Why would that be? Does police racism involve shades? A little darker and we will shoot you, a little lighter and we won’t? No of course not.

There are numerous races in America. There are people from every part of the world, but there is only a Black Lives Matter. Why?

Large number of people from Indian backgrounds, Korean backgrounds and Jewish backgrounds are not shot by the police, because they rarely come into contact with the police in the first place. If they do come into contact with the police, they cooperate, and the incident is peaceful.

Black people in the United States who are completely uninvolved in criminal activity and who cooperate with the police have no more reason to fear being shot by the police than anyone else. The police do not ride around in their cars taking shots at random black people. There is no deliberate police policy of killing black people, not least because police officers know there is a good chance that they will be charged with murder.

The pattern of cases that people in the United States are rioting about almost invariably involve someone resisting arrest who the police suspect of committing a crime. Sometimes these people are killed unjustly. Sometimes they are killed by mistake. An incident gets out of hand. A policeman fears he will be hurt or killed and rather like in a combat situation the policeman sometimes judges poorly. He does so because of stress.

But if Black Lives Matter were really concerned with saving black lives, they would not encourage people to demonstrate and riot. This merely reinforces the idea that some black people are violent.

Two things would save more black lives than anything else.

1. Don’t do anything that will make the police suspect you of being involved in a crime.

2. If you come into contact with the police don’t act in a threatening manner but rather cooperate politely.

Of course, Black Lives Matter is uninterested in this. It treats black people as passive victims rather than moral beings who can make good and bad choices. Only police officers are capable of doing evil. Black victims are always innocent. This idea dehumanises black people and is of course racist. Only moral beings are human beings.

In the months since Breonna Taylor was killed there have been any number of murders in the United States. Black people have killed black people and black people have killed white people and those of other races. There have been good and bad decisions in court cases where victims have agreed and disagreed with the verdicts. But none of these other cases have attracted any attention and no one has rioted, because a black suspect was not convicted for killing a white person.

Black Lives Matter is only interested in the deaths of black people when they are killed by white people. No one riots when a black person kills another black person. No one riots when a black person is let free even though he should have been convicted. But what do we call judging morality and legality based on skin colour? We call it racism.



Friday 25 September 2020

Sturgeon is at fault for Covid at university


University accommodation is rather similar to prison except there are no locks on the doors and there are fringe benefits. Students want to live in such places not because their tiny rooms are comfortable, but because halls of residences give them the best chance to meet other students and make friends. Without that they might as well be in prison.

From March until the summer holidays universities were pretty much locked down. Libraries and lecture theatres were shut, and everything was done online. It wasn’t ideal, but many subjects can be taught completely without any face to face contact.

Subjects in the Arts and social sciences are entirely about reading books and writing essays. Many other subjects can be studied quite successfully with a little adaptation virtually.  Some science subjects require work in laboratories, but even here some of this work could be replicated using videos.

Universities have since March been accelerating the process of moving towards virtual learning. This has been going on gradually for the past twenty years. Physical books and journals used to be essential for study, now it is perfectly possible to finish some degrees while never opening a physical book and never stepping foot in a library.

It would have been possible for most students this year to study entirely virtually. Many of them will be attending virtual tutorials and lectures anyway.

The question we need to ask the Scottish Government is why didn’t it advise all students to stay at home and study virtually?

Why have students moved into tiny rooms in halls of residences across Scotland with predictable results, when it was entirely unnecessary for them to do so?

From March to the summer most students returned home and continued their studies virtually. This prevented the spread of Covid amongst the student population. Why didn’t this policy continue?

It is blindingly obvious that if you put thousands of new students into tiny rooms in a new town that they will want to meet other students. Anyone who has been to university will remember that making friends was a top priority.

There have been appeals to students to isolate from each other. But this is going to be very difficult to police. Students are not stupid. They know that they individually are very unlikely to die from Covid. The temptation to meet others rather than sit alone in a tiny room must be enormous. What would you do? I would sneak out.

The only way to keep students in their rooms is to patrol the corridors of each and every hall of residence. But this really will turn such accommodation into prisons without locks. This is going to be hugely damaging to the mental health of young people.

The Scottish Government then has a choice. Either it can continue coming up with ever more severe measures to prevent students from meeting each other. These measures if successful will damage student mental health by keeping them locked up in tiny rooms, or the measures will be unsuccessful and Covid will continue to spread in the student population.

But this was completely unnecessary. Nicola Sturgeon controls education in Scotland. She could have insisted that university education would be entirely virtual. Instead of students travelling from all over Britain and the world to places like Aberdeen, Sturgeon could have told them to stay at home and we will bring Aberdeen to you.

This would have been better for the students. They could have remained comfortably at home. Their education would not have been much different from what it is now. But they would not have been held hostage in tiny rooms or else spreading Covid to each other and the wider community.

Why did Sturgeon make the mistake of not insisting that university education continued to be virtual as it had been before the summer? I suspect that both she and the universities were scared that the students wouldn’t go to university at all if they didn’t get to go physically.

The educational side of university is in my view no worse for most subjects when teaching is virtual. The books are the same. The ability to write essays is the same. Discussions can be done just as well online. But I think a lot of students go to university for the experience first and foremost. They go in order to leave home for the first time. They go to a place where they can go to bed when they please, drink as much as they like and meet who they like without anyone telling them that they can’t. That is the purpose of university for many students.

The problem is that if students are stuck in tiny rooms with only their studies to keep them company and they are not especially interested in studying, the idea that they are going to continue sitting there when their main motivation for going to university is unfulfilled is unlikely at best.

Sturgeon has got herself in a huge mess here. Is she really intending to keep students locked up for the next six months unable to meet each other and unable to go back to their parents for Christmas? How would she enforce this? She could send the students home now, but what of the accommodation they have paid for and what about spreading Covid up and down the country with them?

Perhaps the solution is for each student to be tested and if clear sent home. But that would involve admitting that Sturgeon has made a huge mistake with university education and she won’t do that. So, we will continue with university as prison.

It was completely unnecessary to keep students locked up in halls of residence. Sturgeon should have been able to see what would happen when thousands of young people came together in a new town. It’s hard to think of a more ideal way for Covid to spread.

Students should have stayed at home and learned there.

Thursday 24 September 2020

Sharing a trench with Starmer


Keir Starmer wants voters to believe that Labour has rediscovered its patriotism and that it loves Britain as much as everyone else. He wants us to believe that Labour is different now than it was when it was led by Jeremy Corbyn.

It is clear that Starmer is a much better leader than Corbyn. He is a more moderate leader and a better leader of the opposition. But has Labour really changed?

Every single Labour MP including Starmer wanted Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister. How can Starmer really dissociate himself from the worst aspects of Labour under Corbyn when he wanted Corbyn’s policies to govern Britain and he wanted every member of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet to be the Cabinet of Britain. If Starmer thinks now that Labour was unpatriotic, why did he want an unpatriotic party to rule Britain? If he thinks that Labour had a problem with anti-Semitism why did he want an anti-Semitic party to form our Government?

Labour’s leadership may have changed, but there are just as many extremist MPs waiting for their chance as there were last December. This is the problem with Labour moderation. Neil Kinnock tried to be moderate. Tony Blair tried to be a social democrat. But the Hard Left remains. They sit for decades as MPs and wait for their chance.

What does patriotism mean? Patriotism is the normal feeling that most people in most countries have about their country. It is love of Britain and wanting what is best for Britain. This is not nationalism. That is a completely different ideology.

There are two forms of nationalism in modern Europe. One is Pan-Europeanism, or the ideal of subsuming the nations of Europe into a new European State. This is the equivalent of German or Italian nationalism in the 19th century. The second form of nationalism is the aim to separate from an existing nation state to create a new one. Wishing to maintain the territorial integrity of the UK is obviously not nationalism, because it is a wish neither to join with others nor to split apart, but rather to continue to be what we are.

How does Starmer do on patriotism? He and virtually every Labour MP did all they could to prevent the wish of the British electorate expressed in the 2016 referendum and subsequent General Election being implemented. Not only did he do this. He consistently sided with foreign powers, the EU and Ireland, to thwart Britain leaving the EU. He may also have shared notes and conspired with them.

But what is the aim of the EU. It is Pan-Europeanism. Its aim is for the nation states of Europe to become something similar to the regions of Germany or the states in the USA.

The British public said they didn’t want this to happen. They didn’t want to see Britain subsumed in Europe. But Starmer knew better. He would ignore what the voters wanted and make sure that Britain was indeed subsumed. Does he call this patriotism?

The condition for the possibility of patriotism about Britain is that Britain continues to exist. You cannot love something that has ceased to be. Patriotism is also about wishing to defend Britain against all enemies whether foreign or domestic. It is this that British patriots have been doing through all the years since we became a nation state.

Defence in the end is about defending the territorial integrity of the nation state. If you don’t do that you might as well not have an army.

But not merely would Starmer like to see Britain subsumed into Europe, he is unwilling to defend Britain against secession.

If Scotland separated from the United Kingdom. There would no longer be anything for Starmer to be patriotic about. The Kingdom of Great Britain would cease to be, so there would no longer be anything to unite with Northern Ireland.

Starmer thinks that if the SNP wins a majority in next year’s Scottish Parliament Election then there should be another Scottish Independence Referendum. It’s obvious from this too that if Starmer needed to form a coalition in order to rule, he would agree to whatever demands Nicola Sturgeon had on a referendum.

So Starmer’s patriotism amounts to allowing the SNP a second chance to destroy Britain only six years after a referendum everyone at the time agreed was decisive, i.e. it decided the issue.

Why is Starmer taking this view. He is doing it for party political reasons. He wants to attract those former Scottish Labour voters who now support the SNP. So Starmer is willing to risk the future of our country in order that Labour has a better chance of winning a few votes next year and he calls this patriotism.

Labour supporters are as likely to be as patriotic as anybody else, but they are ill-served by a Labour Party with MPs who continually blame Britain for everything that ever went wrong in history, who think that Britain is so second rate that we couldn’t possibly manage to live outside the EU and who support anyone and everyone who attacks the values of ordinary Labour voters.

Starmer is ashamed of the instinctive feeling of patriotism that most Labour voters feel and which led them to continually defend our country in the past, but he needs their votes. Starmer lacks that feeling. There is barely a Labour MP who has it.

Starmer’s patriotism would not even put up a fight against the SNP, a party which is the greatest threat to the UK in three hundred years because he would be equally willing to see us subsumed in the EU. It is for this reason that he cannot even understand the patriotism of ordinary Brits who actually love our country. You wouldn’t want to share a trench with Starmer he’d surrender at the first opportunity.

Tuesday 22 September 2020

Would separation make us responsible for everything?


Someone pointed out the other day that Scottish separation would mean that the Scottish Government was responsible for everything. Scottish nationalists replied in large numbers that this was precisely the point. But is it?

In 2014 the SNP emphasised what would continue just as much as what would change. Salmond argued that there would be a “social union” with the former UK. He argued that there would be a currency union too. He thought that institutions like the BBC would continue to broadcast in Scotland. That the British Army would still be responsible for Scotland’s defence. Many independence supporters were keen to emphasise that the only thing that would change would be that Scotland would no longer have MPs at Westminster, but instead would run everything from Edinburgh. Otherwise we would hardly notice the difference.

Whenever people like me tried to point out something that would be lost in the event of Scotland leaving the UK, we were accused of misinformation, scaremongering or being negative about Scotland.

But if Scottish independence meant there was virtually no change in the relationship between Scotland and the other parts of the former UK how could it really be described as independence at all? It would be like leaving home and staying at the same time.

There was an element of doublethink in the SNP argument. Independence was this marvellous thing that would make life wonderful for all of us, but we wouldn’t notice the difference. Independence supporters wanted it both ways.

Time has moved on and so have the circumstances. Britain has left the EU and the SNP plans to join. It is hard now to argue that independence would not involve a big change.

SNP policy is to use the pound unofficially for the foreseeable future. I’ve never quite understood how this could be compatible with EU membership. The condition for joining the EU is to promise to use the Euro and the condition for promising to use the Euro is that you have your own currency. How then could Scotland join the EU while using the currency of a non-EU member?

But let’s imagine that Scotland could somehow be given a dispensation by the EU to join the EU while using the pound. This would mean that Scotland’s monetary policy was being determined by the Bank of England while its trade policy and much else besides was controlled by Brussels. But what if monetary policy and trade policy were incompatible with each other because the former UK and the EU were going in different policy directions? Poor Scotland would resemble a child in a tug of war after a divorce. It would require the wisdom of Solomon to divide us. Perhaps he would cut us in half.

More importantly if the point of independence is for the Scottish Government to control everything, it would have failed rather spectacularly. The two most important things that a country can control are monetary policy and trade. Control of these are the key to controlling everything else because decisions on monetary policy and trade influence a country’s prosperity. But if you can’t influence your own country’s prosperity, what can you do? Fiddle until Scotland burns?

Scotland would then gain very little power and influence over the issues that matter. But what would we lose?

Scottish nationalists take their ideal of independence so seriously that they frequently maintain that after independence Scotland would have to accept not one penny of the UK’s national debt, but even so the British Government would have to continue to pay our pensions because we would be British citizens.

At present we pay National Insurance and in theory because of this we get various benefits including access to health care and a state pension. But National Insurance is just another name for tax. It doesn’t go into a big pot from which benefits are paid. These are paid from present day taxation.

If former UK taxpayers paid the pensions of British citizens living there it follows that Scottish taxpayers must pay the pensions of Scottish citizens living in Scotland. It could not be that a Scottish citizen could get one pension from the former UK Government and another from the Scottish Government. It is going to be necessary to choose.

Former UK taxpayers could not be expected to pay for Scottish citizens after independence. To suppose that they would is to want to be independent and not independent. For this reason, the former UK Government would have to have a means of preventing Scottish citizens attempting to have the benefits of both Scottish and British citizenship. The logic of Scotland being independent is that Scottish citizens would have to give up their British citizenship.

It would be untenable for all Scottish citizens to be British citizens anyway. The population of an independent state cannot be citizens of another state without the distinction between these two states dissolving. If every Portuguese citizen was a Spanish citizen, there would be only Spain, because all of the Iberian citizens would belong to Spain. That is what citizenship is. It means belonging to a state.

The idea that Scotland could leave the UK while refusing to accept a proportional share of the national debt is a prime example of Scottish nationalists failing to think through the logic of their argument. If Scotland could do this, then so could Texas, Bavaria and anywhere else that liked the idea of a debt free life. In order to avoid debt repayments, parts of nation states could secede from each other and then re-join magically debt free a year later. Markets would quickly see through this and would accurately describe such actions as a default.

If it were possible to avoid a share of debt in this way, then the only logical response that UK could take would be to join the USA and Germany in forbidding secession.

Scottish nationalists do not in fact want the Scottish Government to control everything. In supporting SNP policy to use the pound unofficially while joining the EU, they in fact want the Scottish Government to control nothing of importance. But the cost of this would be high indeed. We would lose much and gain little.

We have a currency union which works because there are fiscal transfers across the UK. This would cease to exist damaging the whole British economy leaving Scotland’s use of the pound tenuous at best. We would have exchanged unreliability and uncertainty for three-hundred-year-old currency that is as “safe as the Bank of England”.

We have a system of benefits and a National Health service that every British citizen has a right to access no matter where we live. This would cease to exist. Scots could not be allowed to access benefits as we do at present across the UK. We cannot expect to retain the rights of British citizens when becoming citizens of somewhere else. That isn’t independence.  

EU membership would mean Scotland’s trade policy would be both set by the EU and would be different from the former UK’s. This would inevitably mean a regulatory border between England and Scotland that would damage Scotland’ trade with our greatest trading partner at present and given that we would be citizens of a different state we would have no more rights to live and work in the other parts of the UK than someone from Japan.

Scottish independence would be theoretical and limited in terms of independence, but practical and very noticeable in terms of the changes to our daily lives.

Independence supporters like to think of their fellow British citizens as mugs. We’ll just walk away without paying a penny, and they’ll keep paying our pensions and treating us as dear friends and cousins with the same rights we enjoy right now. This isn’t how the world works.

Monday 21 September 2020

Was lockdown needed?


In every previous virus epidemic in history there was no lockdown. Neither in 1918-1919 (Spanish flu), nor 1957-1958 (Asian Flu) nor in 1968-1969 (Hong Kong Flu) did we attempt to prevent people from working or going to school. What if we had done the same this time? What if back in March we had said, there is a horrible new illness, your best bet is to wash your hands as much as possible with sanitiser but otherwise carry on as normal? What would have happened?

Older people infected with Covid would not have been sent back from hospital to care homes. These older people were only sent back because various scientists had predicted that the NHS would be overwhelmed, so wards had to be emptied. If these older people had been left alone, to be looked after in hospital, how many deaths would have been prevented in care homes?

In Scotland to date 46% of Covid deaths have occurred in care homes. These deaths can in part therefore be attributed to the decision to send older ill people back to care homes. Of course, some older people died in care homes because they caught Covid in other ways. Perhaps members of staff brought the infection with them. But it is reasonable to assume that some older people in care homes would have been saved if the decision to empty hospital wards had not been taken.

How many people have died because they were unable or unwilling to seek medical attention for conditions like heart disease or cancer? How many people decided not to visit the doctor because they were worried about being a nuisance or were worried about going to a doctor’s surgery or hospital out of fear that they might catch Covid?

How many people have lost their jobs due to Covid or faced any other sort of financial crisis that would not happened if we had continued working as normal in March? We know that losing a job and economic recession in general can make people less healthy, more depressed and more likely to die younger.

How many people have failed to meet a boyfriend or a girlfriend because of lockdown? How many of those have failed to have a long-term relationship because of it? How many babies will not be born in the future because of the decision not to carry on as normal?

It is of course impossible to assess accurately exactly what would have happened if we had done nothing in March, but we do know that even if lockdown saved some lives, it cost others. It was always a balancing act. But did we get the balance right or wrong?

The UK has had nearly 42,000 deaths due to Covid. But this has to be put into the context that a bad seasonal flu year killed 28,000 in England in 2014-2015 and 26,000 in 2017-2018. We don’t remember these or even particularly noticed them. This is because we don’t have daily death flu updates every day on the news and because flu deaths rarely happen to the young and the healthy?

So Covid deaths in the UK at present are only a little more than flu deaths in 2014-2015. How much higher would Covid deaths have been if we had done nothing? Would they have been twice as much? If so, they would only just have surpassed deaths from Hong Kong Flu in 1968-1969, which killed 80,000 British people. They would have to have been five times worse to have surpassed the 200,000-death toll in 1918-1919. We know that lockdown cost some lives and it probably saved some lives, but it’s impossible to know how many, without re-running history once where we have lockdown and once where we do nothing.

But we do know this? From March to late June, Covid caused 40,000 deaths, but from then to now it has caused less than 2,000. While in April there were frequently 5,000 new cases per day and 1000 and more deaths. Now there are more than 4000 new cases a day but less than 30 deaths. There is a lag, between cases and deaths, but cases have been increasing for some weeks now with no great increase in the death rate. It is reasonable to conclude that Covid has become a milder illness that causes fewer deaths.

It is far easier to understand the logic of lockdown when Covid was killing more than 1000 a day. Clearly at that point preventing new cases was crucial to saving lives. But if we continue to have less than 30 cases a day it would take us years before Covid surpassed the Hong Kong flu death toll in 1968-1969. If daily deaths were going to reach the thousands again, why haven’t they greatly increased already? Deaths have nearly flatlined in August and September, but cases have increased.

It was impossible to know in March how serious Covid was. But the number of deaths worldwide is still only a quarter of the worst estimate of deaths from Hong Kong Flu. Unless Covid gets significantly worse and starts killing more people, then we will be forced to conclude that it was less severe than Hong Kong flu an illness many British people living at the time can’t even remember.

If it turns out that Covid is really less deadly than Hong Kong Flu then much of the world including Britain has just made the worst decision in history in locking down our country, keeping children away from school and workers away from their jobs. We have we put ourselves in debt, caused a recession and ruined many lives, for no purpose. Why have we done this?

We have done it because scientists have consistently shown themselves to be inadequate in predicting the severity of Covid, they have been alarmist and they have been given far too much power given that they cannot agree even among themselves.

We have locked down because the media has demanded it, has failed to put Covid deaths into their proper context, and tried to scare the wits out of the British public.

If you read accounts of previous epidemics, people went about their lives as normally as possible and did not overly worry. They did not worry because they were used to death. There were many more dangerous diseases that might kill back then. They were used to the possibility of having to give their lives in war or in childbirth. Death was something normal and they were not afraid of it, not least because they had a faith that most now normally lack.

The only eternity for us is the long years stretching into our 90s in a care home to which we feel entitled. Medicine and the NHS has become our religion for which reason we are childish about death as depriving us of our due. We are overly sentimental about death because we treat it as something not normal and indeed an outrageous imposition. 

We are no longer the people who read the casualty pages in July 1916 with stoicism, lack of fuss and determination to carry on. We are not the people who responded to Dunkirk with humour and the will to get on with it.

Somehow, we lost that spirit and that is why we will be locked up and locked down and threatened with fines if we don’t do what we are told. Above all we will all have to endure this because otherwise our politicians and our media would have to admit the error they have made. It is perhaps the worst in our history and this is why we will have to continue making it. 

Sunday 20 September 2020

Tis' Six Years Since


It is now six years since the referendum on Scottish separation and I am still writing about Scottish nationalism. Here is a summary of the argument with links to the articles that I have written this year.

I have begun to write more. This is partly because I have had more time. I have been lucky enough to work from home. I also had a lot of holiday to take and didn’t fancy going abroad. But more importantly opposition to the SNP has never been weaker and the need for ordinary Scots to express this opposition has never been greater.

In February I explained Why I am not a Unionist and how this term was both inaccurate and unhelpful. Don't use it. 

Later I argued that Scottish separatism would make the demographic problems of Scotland worse rather than better.  The demographics of Scottish independence.

I responded to the scandal of Flow-Job by arguing that The SNP must stay out of schools

I argued that the best way to counter Scottish nationalist hatred of English people was if there was an English Appreciation Society of Scotland. It would make Scottish nationalism look ridiculous.

I pointed out that the Scottish Government should focus on devolved issues, but when it did merely showed its lack of competence. The SNP whelk stall 

In March I reflected on how the SNP had destroyed the Scotland I once knew. Scotland is a foreign country; they do things differently there. 

I hoped that with the beginning of Covid and furlough That Rishi Sunak just killed Scottish nationalism. I think he has, it's just the SNP haven't realised it yet. 

I wondered How many witnesses do you need in Scotland? Apparently two are enough in England but ten are not in Scotland. No doubt Charlie Elphicke wishes he was an SNP politician from Scotland. 

Continuing on from this I pointed out that Scotland had become corrupt and that we must Drain the SNP loch.

I pointed out that the response to Covid was coming from the British Government and that The EU and the Scottish Government just became irrelevant 

I continued thinking about Salmond's Great Escape.

As Scottish nationalists reached fever pitch about an anniversary, I pointed to Some holes in a letter from Arbroath  

In May I was I think the first to point out that The SNP were reintroducing the offence of blasphemy. This opinion is now commonplace. No wonder Mr Yousaf was angry. 

Having seen Nicola Sturgeon depicted with a halo, I pointed out she was closer to Lady MacSturgeon of Irvine 

After being called a "troll" by the leading Nationalist "newspaper" I explained where trolling really came from. Are Scottish pots allowed to call kettles black and that SNP politicians directed and orchestrated nationalist trolls.

I argued that Scottish independence just died from Covid which is still true even i the corpse keeps twitching.

I pointed out all the advantages that Scotland has with regard Covid and that we weren't doing as well as the SNP liked to pretend. Are we having fun in Lockdown Scotland? I continued on the same theme with Jockdown

I resorted to parody to try to express something I couldn't express in any other way. Nickleodown : a fable. See if you get all the clues.

As the press had a feeding frenzy about Dominic Cummings I pointed out that others had done the same or worse. Go on Mr Blackford cast the first stone For this I was blocked by Mr Blackford despite never having contacted him. Perhaps there is a blacklist. 

I continued my attack on the press by asking Machack what was your price? Has the Scottish press been bought or are they merely cowardly?

I explained what the Scottish Conservative Party has been doing wrong. If you oppose separatism, don't be separate Limited progress has been made since this argument was made.  

In June I pointed out the similarities between separatists in Scotland and Ireland. Sinn Féin/SNP are thieves 

I continued to argue that Scotland was not doing better than England  with regard to Covid, but pointed out how sinister it was that the people the SNP had wished dead in 2014 were now dying Bed blocking independence

I explored the sectarian aspects of Scottish nationalism and pointed out that Aberdeen supporters who voted for the SNP were hypocrites. Stand free from the SNP

I argued that Sturgeon had destroyed her own argument when she said that furlough should be extended. Did she expect Scotland to be furloughed while we campaigned to leave the UK?

I once more used parody and the Life of Brian. Scottish lives matter.

I criticised those Scottish thinkers who argue that the solution to all problems is that we have More Scotland. This way of thinking of course merely helps the SNP. 

I argued it was hypocritical for Kate Forbes to demand more money from the British Government while campaigning for us to leave and not pay the money back. Kate Twist wants some more.

I argued that plans for an illegal referendum in Scotland were mad. The madness of Queen Cherry's SNPland

I showed that SNP plans to walk away without paying a share of the national debt amounted to a default and A no-deal Scexit 

In July I wondered if Scottish nationalists would be happy if millions of Hong Kongers were offered he chance to live here. Hong Kong Scotland

In response to Sturgeon's threats to close the border I asked Is there a border between England and Scotland?  I pointed out that there were of course no international borders in Britain. 

I responded to some maniacs in white suits standing on the English border, by suggesting that they were trying to keep SNPland pure  and that this expressed the essence of Scottish nationalism.

I continued my attack on Scottish opposition politicians by describing them as Sturgeon's Eunuchs This may have helped get rid of one of them with another perhaps soon to follow. 

I then looked at what the British Government had been doing for Scotland with its British bailout and reflected on where we would have been if we'd voted for independence.

I responded to the suggestion that we should all Clap for Nicola by arguing that this suggestion was precisely what was wrong with Scotland. 

I argued that SNP is not really a left-wing party because It cares more for tartan than it does for social justice.

I argued that The SNP's claim of a Westminster power grab was mere prejudice, not least because not a single power was being grabbed, but rather more powers were being added. 

I suggested that Kate Forbes needed a lesson in arithmetic as well as economics because she thought 21 million = 800 million 

I described the Scottish opposition leaders as the Wee Three and wondered if they wanted to lose to the SNP.

I pointed out that there was really only one way to stop Scottish Nationalism. You have to say No and mean it.

I wondered why Scots had a reputation for being canny when so many have embraced a Scottish nationalism that would make them poorer.

I looked at Scottish nationalist attempts to fix the next Scottish Parliament election and suggested that Sturgeon was insincere in her protests about it. 

I compared Scotland with Belarus, but pointed out that the Last Personality Cult in Europe was here.

In August I responded to Douglas Ross's appointment as Scottish Conservative leader by suggesting we should give him a chance. I'm still giving him a chance, but think he needs to do rather better and be a bit more like a genuine Conservative.

I responded to the a very good new website The Majority by arguing that we should all support it. 

I made a similar point with regard to the Alliance for Unity  which has done more for opposition politics in Scotland than anyone else for years. 

I argued that the question in the 2014 referendum was unfair not least because it was asking Scots whether they wanted to be what many considered they already were. 

It is necessary that we really know the terms of any divorce before we are asked to vote on it. I therefore discussed way in which this might happen.

I pointed out that the Exam fiasco was the fault of the SNP because education is devolved. Later I saw the SNP education policy spread like Covid. 

I wondered if Sturgeon really wanted Indyref2 anytime soon and rather thought that she didn't.

I argued that foreigners living in Scotland should be careful about voting for Scottish nationalism because it might not turn out to be be quite as inclusive and welcoming as they think.

I made the point that it was unjust that Scots living outside Scotland who would get a Scottish passport had no say on whether they wanted one.

I endorsed George Galloway, the leader of Alliance for Unity and described him as the last left-winger in Scotland.

I commented on Kirsty Wark's documentary about Salmond and made the point that A fish rots from the head down

I discussed how the SNP has devised a front of virtue and liberality that acts as a fig leaf concealing something less pleasant that Salmond and others have been consistently intent on revealing. 

I argued that banging on about Gers hinders the Pro UK argument and helps the SNP. No one is persuaded by this negativity nor indeed by an economic argument on its own.

I pointed out that opinions are so entrenched in Scotland that only reality could change minds. I thus argued for a confirmatory referendum after a transition period that would show the full consequences of separation. 

I began September by wondering If an English person can become Scottish and used the debate to show that the SNP's supposed version Scottish nationalism was self-refuting

I dared to discuss Gaelic road signs in the Highlands and after a huge response much of it abusive did the same again. Scottish nationalists at no point addressed the substance of the argument, but kept endlessly repeating and missing the same point rather as if they didn't know which way to go. 

I looked at whether Scotland would join the EU and concluded that it wouldn't.

I wondered why there isn't a serious English National Party that wins votes, even though Scots routinely accuse English people of nationalism.

I pointed out that the only threat to devolution was the SNP as their goal was to abolish it. 

I argued that there was a contradiction is supposing that someone could be an internationalist nationalist a bit like there is a contradiction in being a round square.

I responded to yet another attempt to maximise devolution by suggesting that it was a Trojan horse and that the problem was we had rather too much devolution now. 

I described an easy way to defeat the SNP forever. All that is necessary is to forbid dual British/Scottish nationality. It makes separatism practically impossible.

Finally I argued that we need a Clarity Act like the one which stopped the secession movement in Quebec and put forward 15 issues that needed clarification.

The argument against Scottish separatism is stronger now than it was in 2014. Brexit has made the task of Scotland breaking away from the UK much harder. But Scottish opinion is more favourable to the SNP than it was in 2014 and the opposition both in terms of politicians and the media is far weaker.

The task is to bring these arguments and those made by other people to a wider audience so that the Scottish public demands that the SNP answer the difficult questions.

I am very grateful to everyone who has read the many articles I have written in the past few months. Without the support I get from those who Tweet on Twitter or share on Facebook I would not reach the audience I do, which is now consistently more than one hundred thousand readers a month. Let's keep this going. You continued support will help defeat the SNP. 

There will be lots more articles in the months ahead. Keep reading. Keep sharing.