Sunday 29 November 2020

The SNP cult is not merely about personality


Joanna Cherry recently said that the SNP “shouldn't be about the cult of leader, whether it's Alex or Nicola, or anyone else". Cherry is unquestionably one of the cleverest Scottish nationalists. She wrote Mental Health and Scots Law in Practice in 2014. She is willing to think for herself on moral issues such as gender rather than simply take the easy route of agreeing with the prevalent opinion. But she has a blind spot which means she is failing to see the essence of the issue of the cult of personality in Scottish politics.

I can think of no British political figure who has had a personality cult. Winston Churchill was admired for his work during the War but still lost the election following it. Margaret Thatcher was not even loved by her own party who eventually kicked her out. The closest we have come to a cult of personality in Britain was Diana Princess of Wales. The behaviour of British people when she died was peculiar in the extreme and unlike any previous royal death. But it lasted not much longer than a week and Diana had zero political power and not much royal power either.

In Scotland there was no cult of personality of John Smith or Gordon Brown or anyone else that I can think of apart from perhaps Robert the Bruce, William Wallace and Bonnie Prince Charlie. There was no cult of personality surrounding SNP leaders like William Wolfe, Gordon Wilson or John Swinney. The reason for this I think is that no one expected any of these people to lead the SNP to independence. It was the independence campaign in 2014 that lead to the cult.

Alex Salmond was popular prior to this, but he was not impervious to criticism. He resigned in 2000 and did not seek re-election to the Scottish Parliament. Ian Blackford had threatened to sue Salmond for defamation. Beyond that it remains unclear to me why Salmond thought he had to go. But there was no personality cult of Alex Salmond in 2000. That much is clear.

We don’t know and may never know what if anything Alex Salmond did in the years leading up to the independence referendum which led him to being tried in March 2020. It is possible that there was a political conspiracy against him, and the witnesses simply made up the alleged sexual assaults. It’s also possible that Salmond misbehaved but his misbehaviour was exaggerated. It’s possible too that there was just not enough evidence to convict Mr Salmond. But it is impossible to believe that rumours of Mr Salmond’s behaviour were not known about in 2013-2014. If ten people who worked in one building were later willing to testify that something illegal had happened, the idea that SNP politicians working in the same building knew nothing about it is unlikely in the extreme.

Why did no one tell the police or the press? The reason is that Alex Salmond could do know wrong. He was the prophet leading Scottish nationalists to the promised land of independence. He is still revered by a about half of the SNP, even after they have heard the testimony of the witnesses that the jury chose to disbelieve.

Let’s assume that a senior SNP politician knew about Mr Salmond’s alleged behaviour in 2014. Why did this person not tell the police? The reason is obvious. Just imagine if in June 2014 the press had found out about Salmond’s alleged assaults. Would this have helped or hindered the Yes campaign? It is obvious that Salmond would have had to resign. The credibility of the leader of the campaign would have been in tatters. So, no one said a thing. Why? Because the goal of independence makes everything else secondary.

For the first time in 300 years it looked as if the SNP had a chance in 2014. It was this and this alone that elevated Salmond above ordinary mortals. It isn’t either Salmond or indeed Sturgeon that created the cult of personality that applies to both of them. It is simply the goal of independence, that means SNP politicians are willing to look the other way or keep silent.

I first recognised the cultish aspects of the SNP after the referendum. What I noticed is that independence supporters no longer cared about the political record of the SNP or its leader so long as that leader brought them closer to their goal. These people had been so close in September 2014 that they could almost touch it. To have it snatched away by their fellow Scots caused a cognitive dissonance that they simply could not get over.

It is this that has led the cult of Sturgeon to go into the stratosphere compared to that of Salmond. Suddenly we had Sturgeon performing to packed crowds in Glasgow with wee lassies weeping because they had touched the hem of her raiment. The Scottish electorate became completely indifferent to the successes or failures of Holyrood. This year they have been uninterested that Treasury money has kept Scotland going or that deaths in Scotland are no better than anywhere else in Britain and considerably worse than any similarly sized country in Europe.

Instead we have had Sturgeon depicted with a halo, with perfect hair even when no one was allowed to go to the hairdresser and with stylish clothes even when no one could go to the shops. We have had constant coverage from the BBC with few if any of the difficult questions that are routinely asked by the media in London.

The Scottish electorate don’t even want Sturgeon’s political record to be investigated or tested. Her cult of personality can survive her failure to cooperate with the Salmond inquiry. It can survive it being obvious that she knew about Salmond’s behaviour and lied about when she knew about it.

Nothing can touch Sturgeon. It doesn’t matter that her domestic record on health and education is poor. The only achievements of the SNP are free this and free that, which therefore depend on the fact that Scots receive more per head from the UK Treasury than most other British people. If hospitals don’t open, if ferries remain unbuilt don’t blame the saintly Nicola.

Joanna Cherry is like a member of the politburo complaining about the cult of Stalin while failing to recognise that it is her membership of the Communist Party that causes the cult. It is Scottish nationalism that has caused the last two leaders to have personality cults. The next leader would have one too.

The SNP is secretive and less than open to internal debate not because of the characters of either Salmond or Sturgeon, but because it is a party that views the end as justifying the means. But this is precisely the viewpoint that gave rise to the cult of Lenin and Mao Zedong. When the end whether it is communism or Scottish independence justifies the means then a leader arises or is created because such a movement needs a charismatic leader the people can believe in.

The cult of personality follows from the nature of the goal of Scottish independence and the SNP realising that it is necessary that the electorate ignore their domestic record and focus instead always and forever on independence.

If Joanna Cherry became leader of the SNP, she too would have a makeover. Sturgeon would be purged just as Salmond had been purged before her. Soon adoring crowds would be pressing forward and there would be cheers of Joanna, Joanna. Soon after that the Fruit dynasty would follow the Fish dynasty.

Does Joanna Cherry think that improving mental health in Scotland is more important than independence? Does maintaining the rights of women in Scotland transcend having another independence referendum? The answer of course is no. Cherry was willing to use her legal skills to try to stop Brexit and the proroguing of Parliament. But while knowing that constitutional matters are reserved, she is arguing that the Scottish Parliament should attempt to find a way round the British Government refusing to allow a legal independence referendum. When lawyers advocate law breaking, their books become worthless and their attempts to stop the proroguing of Parliament mere hypocrisy. I’ll try to stop Brexit, but you can’t stop Scexit.

What this means is that Cherry too thinks that end justifies the means. It is worth breaking the law in order to achieve Scottish independence. But it is precisely this that gives rise to the cult of personality that she is criticising.

Scotland this year has been running a huge deficit. Public services including those for mentally ill people have depended on the British Government. Yet Cherry’s illegal attempt to gain independence would at the very least lead the British Government to cut off all funding and Scottish independence would amount to an abrupt no deal Scexit. Why write a book about mental health law if you are willing to plunge mentally ill Scots into more uncertainty than they have ever experienced before, just so that you can live in an independent Scotland.

I’m sorry Joanna Cherry, but you are just as much a part of the cult as Nicola and Alex. Your cultish fanaticism is if anything worse than theirs. Scottish nationalism twists minds even when they are apparently clever.

Saturday 28 November 2020

The SNP would hold indyref2 during a war


Almost everything you can buy that happens to have been produced in Scotland is labelled Scottish and has a Scottish flag on it. There are things that it is perfectly reasonable to describe as Scottish such as the rather wonderful white puddings and skirlie, but no other country in Europe labels carrots as Polish or French. No other country plasters flags on things quite as much as we do.

The average Nicola Sturgeon sentence contains two mentions of Scotland and three mentions of Scottish, but it is never acknowledged that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom and indeed that when offered a choice we chose to remain in the United Kingdom by a considerable margin. Every Scottish product can equally correctly be described as British, just as every Scottish person is a British citizen. You may not like this. You may wish it were otherwise, but it nevertheless is the truth. To suppose that skirlie is Scottish, but not British is like supposing that a bottle of wine is New South Welsh, but not Australian.

No one seriously would wish to put a Union Flag on a bottle of vaccine, not least because it would serve no purpose. As a joke it is amusing to suppose that Scottish nationalists would have to acknowledge the Britishness of the vaccine before being given it, but when you go to the doctor’s surgery to get a vaccine, when have you ever even seen the packaging? You look away as someone puts a needle in your arm and that’s it.

But as usual Humza Yousaf misunderstands what flag waving nationalism is and does so in a way that is typically offensive. When a United States aircraft carrier has a United States flag, it is not expressing flag waving nationalism. To suppose that it does so is to suppose that every country in the world that flies its own flag is expressing nationalism. But this is not nationalism it is the ordinary way that any nation state expresses its identity. We only use nationalism about nation states when they are nativist or far right. We use nationalist to describe places that want to secede or else form a new whole. But the UK wants to do neither of these things. So, Mr Yousaf must think the UK is either nativist or far right. Does he think every other country in the world that flies a flag is the same? Perhaps he should tell Mr Biden that he is far right.

It is perfectly reasonable that Scotland too should express its Scottishness and include Scottish flags on products. Parts of some European countries such as Bavaria do likewise. But Bavaria acknowledges that it is part of Germany and flies the German flag too. If Bavarians ceased to fly the German flag and failed to acknowledge that they were Germans and failed to recognise that they received any help or money from Germany, it would be considered not merely weird, it would be considered to be dangerously nationalistic. Watch out for the next Beer Hall Putsch in Munich.

Scotland this year is predicted to be running a 26-28% deficit. If Nicola Sturgeon had been granted an independence referendum by Theresa May, we would perhaps be independent right now. Who would have paid for Scotland? Do Scottish nationalists suppose that suddenly Scotland would have been making a surplus just by putting a cross on a ballot paper?

This year has been tough, but how much tougher would it have been if the SNP had won in 2014 or in any of the subsequent years when they demanded a second go. But there is zero acknowledgement that we have even been helped by the British Government or indeed that there is a bullet and we dodged it.

It’s all very well to suppose that an independent Scotland could have afforded just as generous support for those who can’t go to work because of Covid and that Scottish businesses would have received just as much, but this is to ignore the reality just as much as Nicola Sturgeon ignores the reality that Scotland is a part of Britain. A new country running a 26-28% deficit would not have been able to borrow at all.  

Even if Scotland did not contribute to Trident, we would still have to pay a percentage of GDP in order to join NATO. If on the other hand, we failed to join NATO would our defence amount to blue face paint and pointed stakes? So where do the savings come from that would have made up the 26-28% deficit? What would Sturgeon’s SNP have had to cut?

In any normal country Scotland would fly its own flag while sometimes flying the Union flag. That’s how it used to be when I was growing up. We would acknowledge that we live in Scotland, but that Scotland was part of the UK. We would accept that some of our achievements were purely Scottish, but that others we did with the other parts of Britain together. We would recognise that some aspects of life were funded by Scottish taxes alone, but that others were funded jointly by the British Government.

The dishonesty of the SNP is that they receive Treasury money and indeed demand even more without ever acknowledging it.  

Scotland does not have a real deficit. The gap between what we spend and what we earn is paid off every year by the Treasury. SNP voters treat this as our due (“I’ve paid my taxes”) without acknowledging that if we had voted to leave the UK, we wouldn’t get this money, even if we had always paid our taxes. We wouldn’t get a state pension from the UK if we left but would have to rely on a Scottish Government running a deficit so large that we would have all had to live on skirlie.

It is in the interest of the everyone that as many people as possible get vaccinated as quickly as possible. Even if Scotland were independent and couldn’t afford to buy the vaccine it would have been in the interest of everyone to give it free to Scots. But let’s be absolutely clear with or without a flag on the bottle Scotland could have afforded neither to research a vaccine nor to buy it. We are only able to afford to buy Christmas presents this year because we didn’t listen to the SNP’s continual demands for independence.

Sometime next year while we are dealing with one of the worst economic crises in hundreds of years and perhaps still while Covid is infecting people, Nicola Sturgeon wants us to queue up to vote on independence. How many people would we infect while doing so?  Is it possible to imagine a worse time to start a new nation state?

If you think putting a Union Flag on a bottle of vaccine is a stupid idea, how do you describe holding an independence referendum during a pandemic? The SNP are so obsessed they would want to have indyref2 during a war.  

Friday 27 November 2020

Foreign aid harms both Britain and those who receive it


There are two reasons for cutting foreign aid and indeed abolishing it entirely. The first is that we cannot afford it. The second is that it harms those who receive it.

Since David Cameron came to power there in 2010, there has been no austerity at all in Britain. Public spending in Britain has increased in every year since 2010 and has increased massively this year due to Lockdown and furlough.

Britain has run a deficit every year since 2010 and has very rarely indeed actually earned more than we spent in the past decades. This year the Government is predicted to spend £350 Billion more than we earn or 17% of GDP. Economically it is as if we are fighting a war. Our only good fortune is that our towns and cities have not been bombed flat.

 Britain’s National Debt has increased steeply since the financial crisis in 2008. On some measures it is now over 100% of GDP. The total of what we have borrowed is more than we earn. We owe more than two trillion pounds or two thousand billion. It amounts to a debt of more than £30,000 for every man woman and child in the UK.

These numbers are very hard to understand or conceptualise, but they have real world consequences. The interest we pay on the debt is money we cannot spend on something else. Recently Britain has spent £48 Billion on interest payments alone which is four percent of GDP. The budget for Scotland is £49 billion.

Imagine if there was a family in your street that had gone on a spending spree. It owed more than it earned and not only that it spent more than it earned so that every year what it owed the bank increased. But this year half of the family have been made unemployed and expenditure has increased massively. Such a family would not be expected to send foreign aid, rather it might hope to get aid from someone else.

Foreign aid is something that we can only afford when all our debts have been paid and we are making a profit. When we are in debt and spend more than we earn foreign aid merely makes British people poorer.

Britain’s first task is to live within our means. We must earn more than we spend. The second task is to gradually pay back the debt and then never let it rise so far again.

Why are some countries rich while other countries are poor? Some countries have access to natural resources. In the short term these may make a country rich. But many rich countries like Switzerland have few obvious geographical or natural advantages. What makes such countries rich is free market economics.

 If you provide people with democracy, security and the rule of law and otherwise leave them alone, they will naturally make things and grow things that other people want and they will become prosperous.  The only thing that will hinder this prosperity is bureaucratic intervention.  

Free trade will make everyone rich so long as Governments decide not to be protectionist. People will naturally work hard so long as they are working for themselves, but will prefer to do nothing if a Government raises taxes to the point that it is pointless to work, or if they can live comfortably on benefits that the Government decides to pay them.

In Britain a proportion of the population is economically unproductive, not because they are incapable of earning a living, but because they have lost all sense of working for themselves and prefer to live on benefits rather than improve their situation for themselves.

The more you increase benefits in cash or benefits in kind (free school meals, free tampons etc) the more you discourage people from doing what they would do naturally if you hadn’t intervened. You encourage idleness.

In a perfect free market situation, for example the Oregon in the 19th century, everyone worked because there were no benefits. If someone got sick the neighbours helped, just as they looked after the elderly. It was this that made such places prosperous. Not Government. If instead some foreign power had supplied these people with aid, they would not have struggled to build their log cabins, clear their land and create prosperity out of a wilderness. Instead they would have waited for the aid to arrive each year and they would have remained poor.

People are the same all over the world. No one person is better than any other person. We all respond to free market economics in the same way. If you pay people to do nothing, they will do nothing, because it is easier than working. If you give people aid, they will rely on it rather than create prosperity for themselves.

The best thing Britain can do for poor places in the world is to leave them alone. If there is a natural disaster somewhere, we might reasonably provide short term help, but otherwise we are doing people no favours at all by giving them money we cannot afford to send them. All we are doing is creating welfare dependency.

People in the poorer parts of the world are perfectly capable of becoming just as wealthy as we are. The only thing we should give them is free trade. That way with their own ingenuity and hard work they will naturally grow or make things that they can sell to us in exchange for things we can sell them.  

The task not merely for Britain but for everywhere else is to lower public spending as much as possible, not merely because public spending increases our deficit and our debt, but because it incentivises us to rely on the Government rather than on ourselves. It acts against the natural laws of supply and demand, interferes with how free markets work and makes us poorer.

Foreign aid is simply another form of socialism. Whenever people demand free this or free that, they are asking for the Government to pay rather than earn the money to pay for the goods themselves. But it is just this that keeps people from working hard. It is just this that make them poor.

We are not going to create a world like Oregon in the 1840s. No one in Europe intends to abolish public spending. But the higher we raise public spending the more we become like socialist countries and the poorer we will get. Communism made prosperous farmland barren in Eastern Europe. People didn’t care a damn for their free houses and were uninterested in tilling land owned by someone else. They did the minimum.

Cutting foreign aid will not merely make Britain more prosperous it will make the recipients more prosperous too. The last thing they need is aid, because it is the equivalent of giving them poverty.









Wednesday 25 November 2020

Can we get free toothpaste too?


I had always thought that the Scottish Parliament was a disaster, but I have seen the light. It has now decided that sanitary products will be free. Not only has it decided this, it has unanimously decided it. Even the New York Times gives Scotland a mention. The first country in the world to have free sanitary products. First Scotland tomorrow the world.

There are lots of products and services that we all need or at least want. There are some products and services that only some of us need. Why hasn’t there been a campaign for free toothpaste in Scotland? After all, if you don’t use toothpaste and tooth brushes your teeth will fall out and you won’t be able to eat anything. But I don’t recall a single mention of toothpaste poverty nor indeed of toothbrush poverty. The problem here is that both men and women have teeth. So, toothpaste poverty doesn’t have that “Je ne sais quois” that will get both the Scottish Parliament and the New York Times excited.

If only women had teeth and men somehow had evolved not to need toothbrushes, no doubt the campaigning MSPs in the Scottish Parliament would right now be campaigning against the injustice of it all. But there is already an injustice that they don’t care at all about. Some parts of the body are more equal then other parts.

Every single part of my body will be treated for free on the NHS except two. Eyes and teeth. When something goes wrong with my eyes and I cannot see things up close and or far away I have to go to an optician and pay for things called glasses. A pair of varifocals can cost £500 pounds or more. Why don’t I get them for free? I need them just as much as I need my broken leg mended, not least because without my glasses I am much more likely to break my leg in the first place.

So too even if I can get an NHS dentist and even if I can get an appointment I still have to pay for a filling or a check-up. Why should treatment for the mouth be expensive while treatment for every other orifice be free? More importantly why isn’t the Scottish Parliament interested? The answer of course is that both men and women have teeth and eyes.

Are women especially disadvantaged in Scotland? Sanitary products are remarkably cheap. You can even buy reusable products. Is it merely that these products are only used by women that makes the Scottish Parliament interested in making them free? Well in that case why doesn’t it make bras and skirts free also. For many women bras are at least as necessary as sanitary products and rather more expensive.

The truth is that there are advantages and disadvantages to being born a girl. Every girl born in Scotland has a better chance of doing well in school than boys and we live on average rather longer, which means that we get all sorts of benefits including pensions for far longer than men do. Not only that. This year we have a much lower chance of dying from Covid than men do. But while the fact that ethnic minorities are at greater risk of dying from Covid is interesting to the BBC and the Scottish Parliament, the fact that half the population is at greater risk is of no interest at all. Imagine if it were the other way round?

Women do have certain disadvantages in life but having to buy sanitary products is not really one of them and if it is a disadvantage it is counterbalanced by some of the others.

But anyway, is it really the job of Government to provide women with ludicrously cheap products that can be bought for almost nothing in the supermarket? The cost of administration will make these products much more expensive overall than if we bought them ourselves.

The idea that women in Britain spend all their money on necessities and cannot therefore afford sanitary products is another one of those myths like the idea that there is widespread starvation in Britain.

Britain has a reasonably generous welfare state. If women are starving and bleeding uncontrollably while living here, how on earth do they manage in Poland or Bulgaria where there is no welfare state and benefits are minimal? Why don’t we send vast amounts of sanitary products to the poor women living abroad rather than virtue signal about a need that doesn’t exist in Scotland?

The truth of course is that free sanitary products just like free prescriptions and the free bridge over the sea to Skye are not free at all. Rather they are paid for by those who don’t use them and don’t need them. This may be popular with those who don’t pay taxes, but all it does is contribute to the percentage of GDP that is covered by state spending.  

If the Government spent zero percent, we would have perfect free market conditions. If the Government spent one hundred percent, we would have communism. The more you can lower state spending the more efficient and productive your economy will be. The more you raise it the worse it will be. So free this and free that, doesn’t make the poor better off, rather it makes everyone worse off. Far from being free it makes everyone including the poor poorer.

The Scottish Conservatives ludicrously have just voted for socialism.

Well done once more Scottish Parliament. You have added something else that is free, which in fact is paid for by someone else. You have done so because you think it is unfair that women have to pay for something that men don’t have to.

But your feminist credentials unfortunately contradict another new reality. It is no longer the case that men don’t use sanitary products. Every single person who benefits from your free pads and tampons could decide at any instant to be a man. In that case you are merely perpetuating the benefits of the patriarchy with your free gifts.

If men can become women and we do not define women by the fact that they use certain sanitary products, but rather insist that they are merely people that bleed, then feminist arguments which depend on an objective distinction between men and women are refuted by the argument that such distinctions are merely subjective. If both men and women can equally have periods, then the feminist motivation for free sanitary products that only women use them becomes false. In that case it is time for the Scottish Parliament to vote for free toothpaste as men and women both use that too.

Monday 23 November 2020

The tyranny of woke


Something has changed in the past five years. When terrorists killed people in France working for the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the free world came out in support of those who had been killed and defended their right to publish cartoons that some Muslims objected to. Five years later when a French teacher showed these same cartoons and a terrorist chopped his head off there has been much less support. While President Macron has defended the right to show religiously controversial cartoons few other leaders have come to the support of France. What has changed in these five years?

Political correctness or being woke as it is more commonly called now has grown in power out of all recognition. When I was a student political correctness was a joke, the Looney left. But it quietly worked its way into the heart of university life first in America and then onwards to the rest of the English-speaking world. Most subjects in the Arts and Social Sciences are completely dominated by Wokeness now. A few years ago, issues such as feminism, racism, homosexuality and transgender were on the margins of most subjects. Now they are the whole subject. There is nothing else.

The major problem with this is that only one view is allowed. While a debate is allowed within feminism. It is not allowed to reject the fundamental assumptions of feminism or any of the other woke assumptions. There is only one politically correct viewpoint. You must agree with it or else fail.

It is this that has changed the mindset about the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. The free speech argument that Macron is trying to defend is that French people have the right to express themselves by writing or drawing even if this offends Muslims. But it is just this that wokeness is attacking.

While it is clearly wrong to go up to someone on the street and verbally or physically abuse him because he is a Muslim, transgender or homosexual this does not mean I am forbidden from saying or writing something that such a person might find offensive. Five years ago, we defended this distinction because we defended free speech. Now we defend the right of the person not to be offended. For the first time since the Enlightenment in Europe free speech has been limited by fundamentalism.

The issue here is whether one person’s beliefs can compel another person to act in accordance with them.

It is forbidden on some interpretations of Islam to make pictures of the Prophet. Now clearly this means that Muslims ought not to draw such pictures. A Muslim society might even decide to forbid drawing such pictures by law. But a Muslim rule cannot compel people who are not Muslims in a non-Muslim society do anything or refrain from doing something. Clearly if I live in a Muslim society it is reasonable that I may be forbidden from going to the pub. A Muslim society can justifiably ban pubs and the sale of alcohol if it so chooses. But Muslims cannot ban others from drawing pictures of the Prophet or drinking beer in France or Britain merely because they are offended by these activities. If they can it amounts to them being able to compel us to believe what they believe.

But the problem with religions being able to compel non-believers to believe what adherents believe is that religious beliefs are frequently incompatible. Islam for instance does not allow the Trinity, the Divinity of Christ or the Resurrection. What if Christians found it offensive that people in Mosques were taught that Jesus was not the Son of God but was merely a prophet? What if Christians engaged in terrorist activities against Muslims for teaching things that were incompatible with Christianity? If you can use terrorism to compel us to obey your laws, why can we not do likewise? But this will lead to us each cutting off our heads to spite our faces.

Tolerance requires that we agree to differ. Rules about drawing pictures of the Prophet can only apply to Muslims. Everyone else must be free to say that these rules don’t apply to me, because I am not a Muslim. If that is not the case, then there will be endless warfare between religions rather than mutual respect.

But what goes for religion goes for all of the other contentious woke issues. While we all have a duty to be kind to each of our fellow human beings, we do not have a duty to believe everything that they believe.

It is wrong to beat up or kill someone who is transgender, but it is not wrong to believe that it is impossible for a man to become a woman. It may offend transgender people if I write something that justifies my belief that a so-called transgender woman is not really a woman. But to force me to believe what the transgender person believes is the equivalent of forcing me to believe that is wrong to drink alcohol because this is what Muslims believe.

The tyranny of woke is similar to the tyranny of religion that existed in countries like Britain hundreds of years ago. At that time people were compelled to be Catholics then later compelled to be Protestants according to the religion of the King or Queen. People were burned at the stake for failing to believe what had previously been forbidden. Both Catholics and Protestants were martyrs because there was no tolerance and no acceptance that Christians could agree to differ about debatable aspects of theology.

The tyranny of woke is that anyone who expresses a non-woke view, such as that homosexuals cannot get married, men cannot become women or that it is better to focus on character rather than skin colour, is liable to be cancelled.

While at university expressing the wrong view may mean you fail the course in the world failure to be woke may mean that you lose your job or your friends. You find yourself no-platformed not merely by students but by the whole of woke society. As woke society increases cancellation affects more and more of us. Five years ago it was safe to ignore it, but what about five years from now.

While it is right to remember transgender people who have been persecuted, it is equally important to remember all those people who have been cancelled because they held the wrong view. A view that was merely common sense twenty years ago sees someone like J.K. Rowling relentlessly attacked. But this is just as intolerant as the prejudice that is directed at transgender people.

In order for people with different religious views and indeed different views about anything to live together we all have to accept that we must agree to differ. Christians cannot require Muslims to believe what Christians believe, but neither can Muslims attempt to apply Muslim rules to anyone else. Likewise, people who believe one thing about transgender or homosexuality or any of the other woke characteristics cannot force anyone else to believe what they believe.

Reasonable people can have different views about race, religion, gender and sexuality. These topics have not been proved one way or the other scientifically. Tolerance requires that we allow others to believe what they please while expecting them to show the same respect for our views.

This is what has changed in the past five years. The tyranny of woke agrees with the terrorist that the cartoonist did something wrong and would punish anyone who disagrees with anything woke by calling it hate speech that justifies cancellation. In Scotland cancellation may well mean jail.

If things have changed this much in the past five years expect them to change still more in the next five. Woke is the greatest threat to free speech since at least Communism and Nazism tried to rule the world. It may well be the worst threat since the Middle Ages.

Saturday 21 November 2020

Conservatives must cease being declinist


The problem with Scottish Conservatism is structural rather than personal. Ruth Davidson is better suited to leadership than either Douglas Ross or Jackson Carlaw. But this is because she is first rate politician. It is not because her ideas are any different from theirs. They all more or less agree about everything and the everything they agree upon is mistaken. That is the problem.

There are two sorts of Conservative in Britain. There are reformists and there are declinists. Thatcher is the ultimate reformist. Heath, May and Major are declinists. Declinism is the view that the correct response to loss of British power and influence after the Second World War was to manage that decline, slow it down, do what the Americans tell us to do because that keeps the relationship special and merge our lot with the European Union, because we cannot manage on our own. Reformism is the view that we can change Britain make it more united, more efficient and that our greatest days are ahead of us rather than behind us.

The Scottish Conservative response to Margaret Thatcher was declinist. Our best days are behind us. We will never win a majority in Scotland again. We must apologise for what Thatcher did to Scotland in the hope that we will be forgiven. We opposed devolution, but we were wrong. Now we have the zeal of the converted and worship at the Holy Rood.

The Scottish Conservative response to the SNP is similarly declinist. We must give the Scottish Parliament and the SNP ever more powers. We can’t possibly say No if Nicola Sturgeon asks for indyref2 six years after 2014. We must praise Sturgeon as much as possible and agree with her. We must appease rather than oppose. We must talk about separating the Scottish Conservative Party from the party led by the horrible Brexiteer Boris Johnson, because we think separating is the best way to defend the UK against separatism.

The whole problem with declinism is obvious. It leads inevitably to decline. The end point of Conservative declinism was a United States of Europe with Britain as a rather unwilling region. No wonder the BBC didn’t want us to sing Britannia rules the waves, it didn’t want Britain to rule anything not even ourselves.

The end point of Scottish Conservative declinism is Scottish independence with Douglas Ross or his successor having a few seats in the Scottish Parliament post separation.

Thatcher was a reformer because she could see the problem with Britain, and she could see the solution and she had the courage to do what was necessary even if it was unpopular.

The problem with Britain is that there are certain wrong ideas that cannot be questioned. Thatcher saw that Britain was being held back by trade unions, nationalised industries that made a loss, inefficiency and low productivity. This was completely heretical. The declinists were horrified when she set about solving the problem. It was wildly unpopular. But it gave rise to the modern Britain that is no longer in decline.

Today we face similar sacred cows.

1. Leaving the EU is impossible and will be a disaster economically.

2. There is a widespread problem of hunger in Britain and it is necessary to give the poor free school meals.

3. Devolution was a success.

4. We dare not say No to separatism.

5. The NHS is the best in the world and must constantly be saved.


These views are essentially the same as the view in the 1970s that British Leyland is the best way to make cars and we must let the Miners turn off the lights whenever they choose to do so.

Dominic Cummings was hated by the British declinist establishment because he saw the problem in the same way that Thatcher did and was willing to put forward solutions and to think the unthinkable.

The EU is making much of Europe poorer. It’s model of protectionism both economic and social prevents its members from becoming more efficient and profitable. It’s like British Leyland on steroids. If Britain can free itself from EU regulations and restrictions and trade freely with whoever wants to trade freely with us it is obvious that we will undercut the EU and do better than they do. Theresa May who turned out to be the ultimate declinist was determined that we should not be allowed to do precisely that. She was cheered on by Ruth Davidson and Douglas Ross.

The problem with benefits in Britain is that they trap the poor by giving them just enough that they feel constrained to remain on benefits rather than find work. Increasing those benefits by giving benefits in kind (food banks, free school meals) makes the problem worse rather than better.

Devolution this year has seen support for Scottish independence and Welsh independence increase and real borders established for the first time in hundreds of years. Yet the declinist establishment reacts in horror when Boris tells the truth about it. The solution is to devolve power equally everywhere in Britain and to bypass the devolved Parliaments by bringing real power to the county level. But you have to first recognise that there is a problem before you can find a solution. The declinists cannot even do that.

At some point Britain has to learn the lesson that every other country in the world learned that the only solution to separatism is to make it illegal. It is the mere possibility of separatism that fuels it. The declinists react with horror, but this is precisely because they are declinists and wish to merely manage decline into Scottish and Welsh independence. Oh God make us separate but not yet.

All of the problems that Britain faced post war were made worse by Atlee’s Labour Government. They were made worse because everything we have learned since all over the world tells us that socialism doesn’t work and makes everyone including the poorest poorer.

Conservatives have successfully reformed most of what Labour did wrong in the 1940s except one thing, the NHS. The NHS is run on socialist lines and has socialism embedded in the way it delivers health care. Far from being the best in the world it is in fact one of the worst. I know people from Poland who are horrified by health care in Britain and go back to Poland if they get sick.

At some point perhaps one hundred years from now a reforming Conservative will dare to make the NHS both efficient and able to deliver affordable healthcare to all British citizens. After that we will be amazed that anyone was willing to accept our previous model of healthcare. But that person will not be a Scottish Conservative.

There are large numbers of Scots who oppose the SNP, dislike devolution, hope that Brexit will make Britain richer and more united and are simply desperate for a Conservative politician to make arguments against Nicola Sturgeon. We should indeed focus on the SNP’s domestic record, but the task is to show what the SNP are doing wrong. The task is to persuade Scots that there is an alternative and that alternative is Conservatism.

Scottish Conservatives are going to get nowhere if they continue to be declinist. The task is not to be popular. The task is to be right. This is the lesson that Thatcher learned. If you are right, popularity follows because you are able to convince those who disagreed with you. This is why the Scottish Conservative appeasement strategy won’t work. It is the essence of declinism. The task instead is to have ideas that are right and to use argument to persuade people who disagree with you. Conservative thinking and free market economics make you richer. It does so just as much in Scotland as anywhere else. But unfortunately, the Scottish Conservatives decline to make this argument.

Friday 20 November 2020

Sturgeon has no one left to blame


The SNP’s model of popularity has always been based on power without responsibility. Whenever good things happen, they are credited to Nicola Sturgeon, whenever bad things happen, they are blamed on Boris Johnson, Tories or the English. Scottish voters have been happy to go along with this.

When I point out that the death toll in Scotland is much higher than similarly sized countries in Europe, Scottish nationalists routinely fail to accept that the Scottish Government has any responsibility for this at all. They argue that Denmark, Norway, Finland and Slovakia, all countries with five populations of around five million, were able to close their borders and had all sorts of other advantages because they are independent nation states. But Scotland can close its border too. We just have.

Whether the SNP have the legal right to impose travel restrictions on people leaving and arriving in Scotland is immaterial. If Nicola Sturgeon says that something is a rule and the police are willing to enforce it, then this de facto is the law whatever the constitutional niceties.

There are of course absurdities. Airports are still open. If someone can fly in from Paris or Amsterdam he may well have come from almost anywhere. Someone from Inverness is allowed to drive to Glasgow to take a flight to Tenerife, but someone from Glasgow isn’t. The Glaswegian is allowed to get on the plane, but he isn’t allowed to drive, walk or crawl to the airport.

Meanwhile quite soon anyone who is called a student will be allowed to travel to Penzance or Pennsylvania to spend Christmas with his family. He may or may not take a voluntary Covid test before doing so. After spreading or picking up Covid at home, he will then be allowed to return to his place of study where all his teaching is online anyway. These journeys are necessary for otherwise universities would have empty accommodation and would go bust. It doesn’t matter though if your pub or restaurant goes bust.

So Glaswegians are not allowed to go on holiday, can’t visit England and can’t even visit Inverness, but people from Inverness can go anywhere and students in Glasgow can soon go anywhere too because while the University of Glasgow is a crucial business that must be saved, every other business in Glasgow can go bust so that Nicola Sturgeon has better Covid statistics than Boris Johnson.

What we have learned in the past few months is that the Scottish Government has rather more powers than we thought. There was nothing to stop it closing the border earlier. If it can do so now, it could have done so then. So, the idea that it lacked some power that independence would have given it, no longer applies.

Scotland already is de facto independent in every single way apart from we get free money from the Treasury and we will get a free Covid vaccine if and when it arrives. Apart from these things the Scottish Parliament can pretty much do what it likes domestically. It can raise and lower taxation. It can borrow. It can make any decision it wants on healthcare and education and it can enforce any rule or regulation it wants on the Scottish public and indeed people from elsewhere.

If a student lives in London and can choose where he lives and what he does his freedom and responsibility is not hindered by the fact that his university fees and part of his income are paid by a grant he won by winning an academic prize nor indeed if they are paid by a kind benefactor because he is an orphan.

The only things that Scotland practically cannot do are annex the Faeroe Islands and apply to join the European Union or the United Nations. Only nation states can apply. But there is no other effective limit on what Sturgeon can do. Even matters that we thought were reserved like borders are now within her control.

But this is where things become interesting politically. What have we received because we are part of Britain? We have received some advice from SAGE. We didn’t have to follow it, because we have our own experts, but we often chose to follow it none the less while passing it off as our own thinking. We have received some money that furloughed our workers and kept some of our businesses running. We have received nearly all of our food from lorries that we allow to travel freely from England even if no one else can.

Has the British Government forced the SNP to do anything about Covid that it didn’t want to do? No. It’s no use blaming English tourists or indeed English lorry drivers for spreading Covid, because Sturgeon could have closed the border. She could indeed have closed the border in effect to international travel if she had said they can fly into Glasgow, but they are not allowed to travel from the airport. That would have stopped it almost immediately.

So let’s say you are an SNP supporter in Glasgow and your business has just gone bust and your mother died earlier this year because her friend was sent back from hospital with Covid and infected everyone in the care home, who do you blame? You might tell yourself, it would have been different if only we had voted for independence in 2014. But how?

If Scotland had voted for independence, we wouldn’t have got any money from the Treasury. You may choose to believe that we could have afforded to be more generous, but this depends on the idea that independence would have immediately made us richer. But how? We would have lost all the money we get from the Treasury and we would have a hard border between England and Scotland because it would be the external border of the EU. All those lorries bringing us food would have to pay tariffs if indeed they chose to come at all. We would have had to pay for our own vaccine. The British Army would not have built any hospitals. SAGE would have given Sturgeon no advice. In addition, we would have had all the costs associated with setting up a new state. Long term you may believe Scotland would be richer. Perhaps we would, but short term even the SNP admit that independence would bring austerity and tough times for a decade or more. So how would we have dealt better with Covid if Yes had won in 2014?

But crucially if Scotland had voted for independence in 2014 or in the years since, Sturgeon would have had exactly the same power as now to deal with Covid. The only difference is that she would have had to accept responsibility and Scottish voters would have had to judge her on her domestic record.

This is our problem. Only if Scotland voted for independence would the SNP be judged on how well or how badly it ran Scotland, or would we continue to blame England for past wrongs just like Ireland does.

Everyone in Scotland votes according to their view on independence and ignores the SNP’s domestic record. But sorry whatever has happened this year because of Covid is entirely due to the SNP.

If you think lockdown was a mistake. If you think losing your job or losing your business was too high a price to pay. If your father died from cancer because he couldn’t get treatment, your uncle had a heart attack because he couldn’t see a doctor or your mother died in a care home because Sturgeon emptied the wards, there is no use blaming Boris Johnson even if you think he is a posh English idiot who took us out of the EU. Tories had nothing to do with Covid policies in Scotland. Sturgeon had the power and the money to what she pleased. She runs Scotland right now as if we were independent. There is no one else to blame.

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Devolution is a disaster


The main differences between Boris Johnson and Douglas Ross is that Johnson can think clearly and tell the truth as he sees it, while Ross lacks the intellect to get to the essence of a problem and therefore says what he thinks he ought to say.

It may or may not be damaging to the Scottish Conservatives that Johnson has described devolution as a disaster. Ross thinks it is for which reason he immediately contradicted his party leader. No doubt Johnson will say he did not really mean it, but of course that would be a lie. He meant it and he was right.

Ross wants to increase Scottish Conservative seats in the Scottish Parliament and thinks that being against the Scottish Parliament is not the way to do it. Perhaps he is right, but I doubt it.

How many people in Scotland genuinely like devolution? The SNP don’t. Independence supporters don’t. They want to abolish devolution. Those of us who support the continuing existence of the UK are sometimes Left Right and Centre, but few of us are exactly enthusiastic about devolution. It has destroyed Labour in Scotland. It hasn’t done much for the Liberal Democrats. The average Conservative opposed the Scottish Parliament when there was a vote on it and I’ve yet to come across any Pro UK Scot who thinks with hindsight devolution was a good idea. The idea that Scottish Conservatives will lose votes by being sceptical about devolution is false. Mr Ross May once more is trying to appeal to people who won’t vote Conservative anyway.

Let’s get into a Time Machine with the knowledge that we have now. Let’s go back to the Scottish Constitutional Convention, where the Scottish Establishment came up with their cunning plan to destroy Scottish nationalism and the SNP. They called it devolution. Well let’s show Donald Dewar, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and others the Ghost of Christmas yet to come.

In 2007 the SNP were able to form a minority Government. It took a mere 8 years for the supposedly permanent Labour Lib Dem coalition to fall apart.

In 2011 the SNP formed its first majority Government which Dewar and Co. intended to be impossible by rigging the electoral system against it.

In 2014 because of this SNP majority we had a referendum on independence. Support for independence went from around 25% to 44%,

In 2015 Scottish Labour the Lib Dems and the Conservatives were reduced to one seat each at a General Election.

When Donald Dewar and friends met up to establish permanent Labour Lib Dem rule in Scotland so that when England voted Tory, they would at least be able to rule Scotland, would they have done it knowing what would happen later?

In the years before 1999 Scottish independence was not even a serious political issue. The SNP got a handful of seats at Westminster, but literally no one thought they had a chance of achieving their dream. It was as likely as Plaid Cymru getting independence for Wales. But now even the idea of Welsh independence, which previously was the obsession of Druids is on 25% and the Welsh First Minster has wet dreams about closing the border.

If you look at what has happened since 1999, then it becomes obvious that devolution is more of a threat to the UK than the First World War, Second World War and Cold War combined. The UK’s existence is far more threatened in 2020 than it was in 1940. If that does make devolution a disastrous policy, what does?

If Donald Dewar and Co upon being visited by the Ghost of Christmas yet to come did not mend their ways, they would unlike Scrooge show no sense of self preservation and even less insight. But poor Douglas Ross doesn’t need the Ghost to show him the future. He lives in the future and yet still cannot see the reality of devolution doesn’t understand the truth and dare not speak it.

We lack a time machine. We cannot go back and beg Donald Dewar not to do it. We probably cannot abolish the devolved Parliaments, though in theory a few afternoons at Westminster would do the trick. What we can do is make devolution work for Britain rather than the separatists.

The United States, though it might not seem so, has a very robust and fair political system. I would be happy to replicate it here, but only on condition that each “state” accepted that it was subordinate, and that secession wasn’t an option. It is the fact that Texas may not secede that holds the United States together rather than that the United States is federal. It is therefore not federalism that we can learn from the United States, but rather local power.

If you continually give more power to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland you will merely increase nationalism. It is devolution that is making Mr Drakeford behave like a Welsh nationalist. Increase it still more and he will ban people from speaking English in Wales and apply for a grant to rebuilt Offa’s Dyke not merely as a barrier to the English but also as an early celebration of Saphism in Wales.

If you turn Westminster into an English Parliament with some sort of senate where each of the parts of the UK meet you will simply put another nail in the British coffin. If each bit of Federal Britain runs its own affairs and largely raises and spends its own money, then what would hold it together. No this is no solution. It is merely gradual defeat. But there is a solution.

What we need in Britain is equal devolution. We need Westminster to assert by Act of Parliament that Britain is a unitary state that does not allow secession, but that we will devolve real power to the level of approximately the county. For instance, we could decide that each group of one million people in the UK would have its own local authority with genuine power over law and order, health and education.

The result would be not so much to abolish the devolved parliaments but to bypass them. Give power to local people in Aberdeenshire and the other parts of Scotland. The result would be that the Scottish Parliament would rapidly become an irrelevance. Scotland would have more devolution rather than less, but it would not be a devolution that could fuel secession. Devolutionists would get more of what they want, so they ought to be happy. Secessionists would get nothing.

It’s no use recognising that devolution has become a disaster if we are not willing to do anything about it. People like me voted to Leave the EU because we could see what the EU was becoming and didn’t want Britain to be a region in a United States of Europe. The task is to recognise that if we continue with the present devolution arrangement there won’t be a United Kingdom long term. If that isn’t disaster enough for Mr Ross, he would be better joining the SNP and be done with it.

It would be better by far if we could abolish devolution and start again. But the next best thing is to make the devolved parliaments irrelevant.

Sunday 15 November 2020

Scotland is bottom of the league on Covid


There are four European countries with populations of five million.

Denmark     5,799,640    757 Covid deaths

Finland        5,545,596    369 Covid deaths

Slovakia      5,462,617    510 Covid deaths

Norway       5,436,637    294 Covid deaths.


Scotland      5,500000?   3280 Covid deaths


Scotland is not listed as a European country, because it is not an independent sovereign nation state, but rather a region of the United Kingdom that happens to be called a country for historical reasons. However, the SNP treat Scotland as if it already were an independent country, so it is reasonable to compare Scotland’s performance with other places of similar size.

There are all sorts of factors that might affect the number of people infected with Covid and the number of people who die in various places around the world.

1. How many people from the initial source of infection, China, travelled to that country in the months before lockdown?

2. Is the country a major tourist destination and does it have a large international airport hub such as Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle, or JFK in New York?

3. Does the country have a mega city like London, New York or Moscow?

4. Does the country contain large numbers of ethnic minorities who are especially vulnerable to Covid?

5. Is the country densely populated or sparsely populated? Covid infections and deaths clearly correlate with how close someone lives to other people.

6. Were elderly people sent from hospital to care homes while infected?

7. Is the population of the country obese?

8. Is the population of the country older than average?

9. Did people follow the lockdown rules and socially distance?

10. What is the quality of healthcare in a country?


Many of these factors cannot be controlled by Government. This makes the comparison between places with very different geographies both unfair and unhelpful.  New Zealand clearly as an advantage because it is two and a half thousand miles from Australia and is very sparsely populated and was able to stop people flying from elsewhere.

But a myth has developed in Scotland that Nicola Sturgeon is handling the Covid crisis particularly well and that somehow this shows it would be better if Scotland were independent.  

Yet Scotland has a death rate that is ten times as bad as Norway. The SNP have full control over healthcare. They run Scotland’s hospitals and GP services. What’s more Sturgeon has the power to introduce lockdown and decide social distancing rules. She could have decided to introduce lockdown earlier than the UK as a whole. She could have closed Scotland’s airports when we first heard about Covid in January. She must take full responsibility therefore for the fact that Scotland’s death rate is so much higher than countries with similar populations in Europe. This is not least because the very high number of deaths in Scotland are due to Sturgeon’s decision to send elderly people who were sick with Covid back to care homes.

The present increase in Covid cases is mainly due to school children and university students being sent back to school and campus. If Sturgeon had organised schooling and university education properly it would have been possible for school children and students to have been educated remotely online. The SNP wholly control education in Scotland. It was particularly unnecessary to have students return to campus as the vast majority of their teaching is done online at the moment anyway. Instead Sturgeon decided to allow young people to travel to from all over Britain and the rest of the world to attend university and soon they will go back again to infect their families. When people inevitably die from this it will be the SNP’s fault.

Why do so many Scots believe that Nicola Sturgeon is doing a good job. The main reason is that we are not accustomed to comparing ourselves with similarly sized European countries, but with England. This is of course mere prejudice due to the inherent hostility to England that is in so many Scottish hearts and minds.

England’s population is ten times that of Scotland and it is much more multicultural and multiracial than we are. England has the highest population density of the parts of the UK with 432 people per square kilometre while Scotland has the lowest with 70 people per square kilometre.

Scotland has nearly all of the advantages in European terms with regard to Covid. We are surrounded by sea apart from the border with England. Slovakia is bordered by five countries. Scotland has only one major city Glasgow with over half a million people. Compare this to London with nearly 9 million and Moscow with 12.5 million. Most Scottish towns and cities by European standards are tiny.

Sturgeon appears on the TV every day and even people who don’t support independence think she is doing a good job. But this is because the media never compares like with like. We hear nothing about deaths in Slovakia.

Sturgeon could hardly be doing a worse job. With Scotland’s geography we should be doing at least as well as similarly sized European countries. Places like Slovakia are more densely populated than Scotland. They are bordered by many more countries and they don’t have as generous a system of furlough and welfare as we do.

Yet despite all of these advantages Sturgeon and the SNP Government have through their mismanagement contrived to have more than ten times the deaths of Norway. They cannot even beat a poor landlocked Eastern European country like Slovakia.

SNP supporters will of course blame the English as they always do, but the Scottish Government controls health and education. There is no one else to blame, but Nicola Sturgeon.