Saturday 27 February 2021

Resign Sturgeon


Nicola Sturgeon thinks that Alex Salmond is a fantasist living in an alternative reality.  It was his behaviour towards women that led to his going to court rather than a conspiracy orchestrated by her. She thinks there is no evidence whatsoever that she did anything wrong. It is quite clear that she believes that Salmond is a liar lucky to be acquitted as she fundamentally believes the women who accused him of wrongdoing.

I didn’t intend to watch all of Alex Salmond’s testimony before the Inquiry, but even though it started slowly, I found something compelling about it and watched to the end. I had forgotten what an impressive figure Alex Salmond could be. For six hours he answered every question in detail. He was never flustered. He provided detailed answers and provided logical arguments. He was moderate and far from vengeful. His criticism of Sturgeon was measured and restrained. He was able to put everything he said into a moral context that went beyond politics. He was massively impressive, and I believed every word he said.

The Committee that questioned him was less than impressive. Only Murdo Fraser and Jackie Baillie provided useful questions. The SNP members were more interested in protecting Sturgeon than finding out the truth. The others struggled to organise their own thoughts and sentences. Ludicrously the Lib Dem Alex Cole-Hamilton appeared to be intent on coming to the rescue of Sturgeon as if he couldn’t bear to see a fellow Remainer damaged. Linda Fabiani the Convener allowed much waffle and tried to prevent some truth from emerging but was fairer to Salmond than might have been expected.

Alex Salmond lives not far from me and I know him very slightly. I have always found him to be agreeable on the rare occasions that we have met by chance in a supermarket queue or on the street. I have always disliked his politics, but I have never disliked the man. He has something of the Rob Roy about him. A gambler. A rogue. But a human being too. I hear he has a bit of temper, but he is not a man I fear. If Scotland had become independent in 2014 and Salmond had emerged as its first leader, it would not be like now. I campaigned against Salmond with everything I had in 2014, but not because I feared him, not because I questioned his intentions or his morality. I fear Nicola Sturgeon.

Sturgeon is a better politician than Salmond. She campaigns to those who initially disagree with her and has won over more of the Scottish electorate than Salmond ever did or perhaps could, but it is not for this reason that I fear her. What worries me is that I see no limit to what she is capable of doing. On the surface she has an appealing manner that can win over a large TV audience who believe her to be capable and kind, but under this, glimpses of the real Sturgeon sometimes emerge. When thwarted her anger is without limit. This plus her unlimited ambition made her capable of trying to send Salmond to jail. This scares me.

Alex Salmond like Jim Sillars is a basically decent man. I disagree with Scottish independence, but under the leadership of either we would not have to fear what we fear now under Sturgeon. Salmond and Sillars would be decent, moral beings. It might turn out, as I believe, that independence would be a mistake, but it wouldn’t be because of their intentions. What I fear about Sturgeon is that her head has been turned by the adulation she has received. She has begun to believe that anything is justified for the cause of independence and her mission to deliver it. I believe that she is capable of trying to put an innocent man in jail and if she is capable of doing this, she is capable of doing anything. This I fear above everything else.

A new policy was designed by civil servants to investigate former ministers, but the only one that it was designed to get was Alex Salmond. We are supposed to believe that Sturgeon knew nothing about this because it happened months before she was supposed to have found out about allegations about Salmond’s behaviour.  Can you imagine an investigation into Salmond happening without Sturgeon’s consent? Would a civil servant risk it without asking?

The allegations against Mr Salmond increase. There is something of a recruitment drive. But they don’t want to go to the police. They are forced to go despite their wishes. But somehow, we are supposed to believe that there is no conspiracy against Mr Salmond. Perhaps it all happened by chance.

There is a court case and nine witnesses testify that Mr Salmond assaulted them, but the jury disbelieves them. It is unreasonable for a jury to reject the testimony of nine women unless it finds they lack credibility. The defence must have provided something that made the jury doubt the testimony. One explanation is that the jury thought there was a conspiracy against Mr Salmond.

I found Mr Salmond’s testimony to be convincing. He was not a fantasist living in an alternative reality. He did not come across as a liar. Or at least he came across as a human being who tells the occasional lie as we all do.

I’ve seen through Sturgeon. When threatened as she has lately been by Mr Salmond, she has shown herself to be willing to lash out. We don’t know what happened in 2017 or 2018, but I am left to wonder whether Sturgeon felt herself threatened by Salmond then too. Will no one rid me of this turbulent Salmond, I can imagine her crying out in the presence of certain people loyal to her. From there it escalated. Witnesses came forward. Alex Salmond did this.  They all gossiped together the witnesses and those who encouraged them. It began to resemble the Crucible. Witches were discovered in Bute House. A stake was readied. But Nicola Sturgeon knew nothing, even though she knew everyone involved and even though the witch was the man who had put her where she was. She had seen nothing when Salmond was supposed to have been assaulting women, though she was in Bute House every day. No whisper of gossip had reached her about the events or the investigation. But this is the same Nicola Sturgeon who is so in control that she and she alone appears on TV daily for the Covid briefing and who barely allows a deputy to eclipse her spot in the limelight.

The Salmond trial was Hamlet without Ophelia. Where was Sturgeon? It had nothing to do with her. But when Salmond was acquitted it gradually got closer and the mood changed from cooperation with the Inquiry to cover up. But why go to desperate lengths to prevent the Inquiry getting all the evidence, if there is nothing to hide? If there were no conspiracy and if Sturgeon were not involved in it, the Scottish Government and the civil servant witnesses who appeared before it would have been candid and open about their mistakes. But everyone connected with Sturgeon including the SNP MSPs on the Committee fear the truth coming out. This is why portions of the evidence that has been redacted are about Sturgeon. It is she who is being protected not the anonymity of the trial witnesses.

As her popularity has increased with daily briefings the evidence against Sturgeon has been building up. The greatest evidence of all has been her apparent fight to prevent this evidence being evaluated by the Committee. If you have nothing to hide Nicola Sturgeon, why are you hiding? It is the act of hiding that is the evidence of the conspiracy.

Convincing as he is Mr Salmond is saying I will convince you even more if you let me present all of the evidence. This is neither the action of a liar nor a fantasist. It is the action of someone convinced that he is in possession of the truth, willing and able to show it. This no doubt is what convinced the jury too.

Sturgeon is hiding, not Salmond. It is this that convinces me that it is she that is the liar. Liars must resign. Resign Sturgeon. 


Wednesday 24 February 2021

How to deal with SNP corruption


The Northern Ireland Assembly was shut down for four years because of a scandal about renewable energy. The scandal involving Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon is rather bigger, but there is no mechanism for cross community power sharing across in Scotland. The opposition parties cannot walk out and thereby dissolve Holyrood. Sturgeon would remain in charge without opposition.

Nicola Sturgeon and others are accused of plotting to put Alex Salmond in jail. But whenever he appears to be about to provide evidence that might actually be damaging, we find that a Government agency in this case the Crown Office finds a way to prevent that evidence being evaluated. The Crown Office ought to be completely independent, but so too should BBC Scotland, Scottish universities, the police and all the other organisations that are supposed to be free from political bias.

A free society is not merely one that has elections. It is one where the political leadership does not control those organisations that make free and fair elections possible. If Sturgeon and the SNP control the most important state organisations in Scotland, then it will not be possible for Scots to form political opinions in a free and fair way.

Russia’s transition from an emerging democracy after the collapse of the Soviet Union to a dictatorship was such that Mr Putin could still pretend that Russians lived in a democracy. But Mr Putin controlled everything, the media, the civil service, the courts and the police so that any opposition that might have emerged never stood a chance even of competing. Something similar has happened in Scotland.

If Boris Johnson were accused today of trying to get David Cameron sent to jail for rape and if David Cameron were able to put forward a tightly written description of events and have it published on a House of Commons Committee website, it is simply unimaginable that the Crown Prosecutor would order it censored. If it were suspected that Boris Johnson had influenced the Crown Prosecutor, the media frenzy would have been unimaginable. The idea that David Cameron would be prevented from telling his side of the story is preposterous, the media would not allow it. You see Boris Johnson is only the Prime Minister, he is not Nicola Sturgeon.

Nicola Sturgeon with her tame BBC Scotland and her control over every aspect of our lives will be able to continue her daily broadcasts right up to polling day for the next Scottish Parliament elections. The Salmond story is the biggest political scandal anyone can remember, but it is somehow relegated below Tiger Woods having a car crash. We can hope that the Scottish people will vote her out of course, but the hope is rather similar to hoping that the Russian people will get rid of Mr Putin. What if anything can be done?

1. Westminster must make clear that under the present circumstances where there is suspicion of corruption there can be no question of a Scottish Government gaining a mandate for independence or indeed anything else. Genuinely free and fair elections cannot take place if the Scottish Parliament cannot even conclude an investigation into the Scottish Government. Scotland has become a flawed democracy and until that flaw is rectified the Scottish Government obviously cannot organise a free and fair referendum.

2. Opposition parties must consider not taking their seats in the Scottish Parliament. If there is corruption in Holyrood it is necessary to expose it by leaving it to the SNP plus other independence supporting parties. Under these circumstances the Scottish Parliament would lose all its legitimacy quickly. Of course, the opposition parties will not do this. They will complain but, in the end, do nothing.

3. If there is no other way of ridding Scotland of corruption Westminster must repeal the Scotland Act. The act of one Parliament cannot tie the hands of another. For this reason, even if the Scotland Act refers to the Scottish Parliament as permanent it can still be abolished or suspended.

I no longer trust the Police, the Crown Office, the Procurator Fiscal or the courts in Scotland. Alex Salmond could easily have ended up in jail and was saved only perhaps because a jury suspected the witnesses against him of being involved in a conspiracy. What happened to Alex Salmond could happen to any opponent of Nicola Sturgeon. It could happen to anyone who crosses her, thwarts her or who might expose something damaging about her.

This is how you end up in a tyranny, sent to a Labour Camp like Alexei Navalny for daring to criticise a leader like Sturgeon.

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Only three people understand the Salmond business.


Only three people have ever really understood the Alex Salmond business—the Prince Consort, who is in hospital—a German professor, who has gone mad—and I, who have forgotten all about it.

It is for this reason that Nicola Sturgeon is able to get away with demanding that Alex Salmond provide evidence for his conspiracy claims. It is the equivalent of a policeman tampering with the evidence and then demanding that I prove myself innocent.

The attempt to get at the truth of what happened between Sturgeon and Salmond has been hindered at every step by someone. Witnesses at the Inquiry have been evasive. Testimony has been contradictory. There have been votes along independence supporting lines as to whether the Committee can see this bit of evidence or not. The Scottish Government promised to cooperate, but instead has hindered. Who can the someone directing the hindering be or are we to suppose that it just happens accidentally?

Salmond’s latest submission about which he is due to speak on Wednesday is a detailed legal document including words like “sisting” (pausing) that I did not know.

It would not be discussed in the pub even if the pubs were open. This is crucial because it will be public opinion that decides the outcome unless there emerges some information that makes it obvious to even the most uninformed viewer that Sturgeon has done something seriously wrong.

We begin in the Autumn of 2017 with Leslie Evans, Sturgeon’s Permanent Secretary briefing Sturgeon about a Sky news story about Salmond’s alleged misbehaviour at Edinburgh Airport. Immediately after this we find civil servants devising a procedure for investigating the behaviour of former ministers, which was unique in the UK.  Are we to suppose that this was purely coincidental, and that Sturgeon knew nothing about it? Suddenly we are investigating former minsters when no one else does. Why? Perhaps someone saw the chance to get rid of a rival.

This unusual procedure for investigating the conduct of former ministers was then used to find people who wanted to make complaints about former ministers. It succeeded. A draft of the policy was even shared with one of the complainants. The Investigating Officer Judith McKinnon and the complainants knew each other and had worked together although this was contrary to the procedure. This meant that there was bias in the investigation from the start.

Sturgeon claimed that she knew nothing about the allegations against Salmond until she was informed on April 2nd, 2018. But this requires us to believe that there was an investigation into Alex Salmond’s behaviour which began the previous Autumn and Sturgeon wasn’t told about it. Imagine if Sturgeon has still been best friends with Salmond in 2017. How would it have gone down if civil servants on their own initiative had started to investigate the former leader of the SNP?

It was probably the Scottish Government that leaked the whole story to the Daily Record in August 2018, but what is extraordinary is that this happened immediately after Mr Salmond’s legal team sought to prevent the Scottish Government from releasing a statement about the case. It is clear that the Scottish Government sought to publicise the case and then actively sought witnesses against Mr Salmond by sending emails to SNP supporters and former SNP employees asking them if they wished to raise concerns about Salmond.

That there was a witch hunt against Salmond is obvious. It is impossible to imagine that it could not have taken place without the consent and cooperation of Nicola Sturgeon. Everything we know about Sturgeon is that she is controlling and in charge.

We already know that the Scottish Government investigation into Salmond was tainted by bias as this was the finding of a court, but what we didn’t know then is the extent to which the Scottish Government would go to cover up the story.

There are arguments for and against allowing anonymity in certain cases. Women might be reluctant to testify if their identity was not protected is an argument in favour. An argument against is that anonymity might hinder the discovery of the truth. It is clear now that the Scottish Government has used the requirement to protect the anonymity of the witnesses as a cloak with which to hide its own actions.

The problem furthermore is that if there were a conspiracy against Mr Salmond, the identity of the conspirators is part of the evidence. If some of the women who testified against Mr Salmond were also part of a conspiracy, it might only be possible to know this if we knew about what relationship they had to Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government, what position they took on the division in the SNP between Salmond and Sturgeon supporters and whether or not they had any grudge or ill will towards Salmond.

Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for evidence is similar to her demanding that Salmond roll a pair of sixes when she has loaded the dice to make this impossible.

But the rejection of a jury of the testimony of nine witnesses suggests that the jury did not trust them collectively. One reason for this is that the jury might have suspected that there was a conspiracy and that it viewed the whole investigation of Salmond as tainted with bias.

It is not merely that Salmond must provide evidence. He has done so within the limits allowed. Sturgeon must also prove that she has nothing to hide. She must provide an explanation for why the Scottish Government has been so obstructive and why she used so much power to go after her former friend who was later acquitted. Why investigate someone who was innocent?

Even if Sturgeon is shown to have broken the Ministerial Code she will survive, because the pro-independence bias on the Committee would vote to exonerate her even if she were shown to be complicit in the Massacre of the Innocents.

There is little doubt that Sturgeon sought to get Salmond jailed, but the details will remain obscure until there is some action of hers that can be pointed to that everyone can grasp intuitively and which she cannot avoid or evade. We are not there yet. Only three people understand the Alex Salmond business.

Sunday 21 February 2021

No star for Sturgeon


One of the most divisive aspects of the SNP is how it has politicised the use of flags. The saltire used to be the flag of all Scots. It was completely uncontroversial. Now it is the flag of independence supporters. Likewise, the Union Flag used to be completely uncontroversial in Scotland. No one objected, no one much noticed. Now the Union Flag has become a political statement in Scotland in the same way that it makes a political statement in Northern Ireland. It is no longer the flag of every British citizen living in Scotland but is rejected by independence supporters as something alien in just the same way Irish nationalists reject the British flag in Northern Ireland.

In most countries a flag says nothing about politics. It is used at sporting events and flies mostly unnoticed on public buildings. These countries are fortunate because they don’t have nationalism. People don’t have to take sides about flags and so flags fade into the background. This is how we used to be in Scotland before the SNP came into power. We would fly Scottish flags at football or rugby matches, but we were happy to fly the Union Flag at the Olympics and didn’t notice if it appeared on public buildings. It simply reflected the truth that Scotland was part of the United Kingdom. There was no need to notice, because this simply a fact rather than something to disagree about.

The SNP don’t want Scotland to be part of the United Kingdom, but they also don’t want to acknowledge even that we are a part of the United Kingdom. Somehow, they hope that politicising the Union Flag will make it more likely that one day their wish will come true. By delegitimising the Union Flag in Scotland, they hope to delegitimatize the idea that we can be both Scottish and British, which again merely expresses the truth that Scots are also British citizens. If we are not, what are we? Stateless.

The hypocrisy of the SNP however is that it wishes Scotland to receive all of the advantages of being part of the UK while denying that we are a part. If any UK wide initiative did not apply to Scotland, the SNP would be the first to complain, but it is unwilling to give any credit to the UK for what it does, but only blame for the fact that it exists at all.

The truth is that nearly all Scottish voters including Scottish nationalists hope that various features of the UK would continue after independence. They want there to be open borders and they would prefer that there was a continued currency union. No one actually prefers to use the pound unofficially.  They want to be able to live and work anywhere in the UK and receive exactly the same benefits as they do at present. They would like the BBC to continue broadcasting in Scotland and the British Army and intelligence services to continue to keep them safe. There is rather a lot in fact that independence supporters like about the UK while at the same time rejecting the flag that indicates the unity of our country that made all of these things happen.

While being unwilling to fly the flag of the United Kingdom that we are a part of Nicola Sturgeon has decided to fly the flag of the EU which Scotland was never a member of. A SNP spokesman said

The EU flag is flown to reflect the overwhelming vote of the people of Scotland to remain in Europe, and as a mark of solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of EU citizens who continue to call Scotland home despite Brexit.

But by the same logic the Union Flag should be flown as a mark of solidarity with the 55% who voted No in 2014 who expressed their wish to continue to be British citizens. By doing so we explicitly voted to accept the will of the UK majority. We could instead have voted to leave the EU in 2014, which would have deprived every EU citizen of their leave to remain which they obtained from the UK.

Scotland’s geographical position has not changed. We are still in Europe. Every single EU citizen living in Scotland who wanted to stay after Brexit was given that right not by the Scottish Government but by the UK Government. Why anyway do EU citizens need any more solidarity than people from Africa or Asia who also live in Scotland. Everyone who has the right to live in Scotland has the same rights as everyone else.

Nicola Sturgeon likes to give the impression that she is a Europhile but dig a little deeper and it turns out that she is not. The two main ways in the which the EU seeks to bring its people closer together are Schengen and the Euro, but Sturgeon wants Scotland to continue using the pound unofficially for the foreseeable future after independence and wants Scotland to remain part of the Common Travel Area which is incompatible with being part of Schengen.

It is reasonable to assume that she would oppose Scotland becoming a region in a United States of Europe so the relationship she would want Scotland to have would be as semi-detached as the UK used to have with the EU. Whatever new initiative the EU proposed to bring about ever close union would doubtless be opposed by “Europhile” Sturgeon and indeed most of the Scottish electorate. Support for the EU is at best conditional because precisely the same arguments that the SNP use about the UK can equally well be applied to the EU. No wonder the EU is wary of secessionists.

If you insist that Scotland is country rather than a region then it makes no sense to leave the UK in order to gradually be drawn into a European super state. If you dislike being outvoted by your fellow citizens in the UK, why put yourself in the position where qualified majority voting will outvote you in the EU?

Many Scots think of the EU as benign, liberal and generally preferable to the UK. It is this that is reflected in Sturgeon’s decision to fly the EU flag while apart from one day a year rejecting the flag of the sovereign nation state that we are a part of whether we like it or not. But it the UK that has provided Scots with furlough and business support. More importantly it is decisions made by the UK that has led to 25% of British citizens being vaccinated as opposed to 5% in the EU.

A reasonable response to the debate about the EU is to accept that there are plusses and minuses to membership and that Brexit may involve gains as well as losses. This means accepting that Britain’s decision to not take part in the EU’s vaccine programme (despite the opposition of the SNP) was correct and that this was politically only possible because we had left the EU. If we’d followed Sturgeon’s advice, we would have vaccinated hardly anyone and would be looking at lockdown continuing for most of this year.

If Scotland had not been part of the UK during the past year but instead was part of the EU, we would not have received furlough and business support from the EU and we would now be 20% behind the former UK in protecting our elderly people from Covid. So, the UK not only provides us with currency union, free movement and benefits across the UK it also provides us with free vaccines and free furlough while the EU would provide neither.

Scotland will gain the economic benefit of being able to open sooner because of the UK’s vaccination programme. Many Scottish jobs and businesses will have been saved by the Treasury. To wish to leave the UK under these circumstances would be the most perverse form of nationalism, because our recovery would be due to Union Flag that we reject even though it contains a saltire in favour of an EU flag that never had a star for Scotland because we neither joined nor left, because only independent nation states can be members of the EU.


Friday 19 February 2021

Getting to the top of the list


The SNP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) recently decided to reserve the top spot on the 8 regional list seats for someone who was either disabled or an ethnic minority (BAME). It also decided that it would allow candidates to self-identify as BAME or disabled. This is extraordinary because it shows the SNP moving towards the ultra-woke position of transracialism and transableism.

The logic of allowing people to define themselves as men or women without regard to anatomy or any other objective characteristic is that being a man, or a woman is subjective. But once this is allowed the next step is to allow people to define themselves as black even though they lack the objective characteristics such as skin colour or ancestry that would normally be associated with this. If I can define myself as a woman even though I lack the anatomy and chromosomes of a woman, then why can’t I define myself as black even though both my parents were white.

The same logic applies to disability. If I can define myself as black though my objective ancestry is white, why can’t I define myself as disabled (e.g. I have one leg) even though I in fact have two legs. Likewise, I could define myself as schizophrenic even though no doctor has diagnosed me as having the symptoms of schizophrenia. This might seem absurd, but it merely follows the logic of allowing someone to self-define as a woman without there being any medical diagnosis either of gender dysphoria or of having female anatomy.

But the extension of the logic of transgender to other areas has proved controversial. In 2017 the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia published an article by Rebecca Tuvel In Defense of Transracialism and was subsequently accused of transphobia and racism.  Even in academia the idea of transracialism has been a step too far.

The SNP might deny that they are believers in either transracialism or transableism, but it follows logically from its decision to allow someone to self-identify as BAME or disabled. If someone applies to be head of the SNP list because of being black the SNP official administering the decision will not be able to ask “Are you really black?” because it will be a matter of self-identity. To question someone’s self-identification about their ethnicity or disability would be the equivalent of questioning someone about their gender identity. But this means that the SNP must suppose that someone who self-identifies as black really is black even if the candidate neither appears to be black nor has black parents.

Likewise if a candidate says he is disabled it follows merely from his self-identification that he really is disabled, because to question that the candidate defines himself as one-legged by the fact that he appears to have two legs would be to doubt the self-identification in the same way as doubting a person’s self-identification as a woman because of a lack of female anatomy.

The SNP position is that the person really is BAME or disabled even though they lack all of the objective characteristics of a BAME or disabled person. The SNP isn’t merely saying that such a person says the he is BAME or disabled, it is saying that he really is these things. If the SNP admitted that a BAME or disabled candidate who self-defined as such might really not be these things, it would be to question the whole logic of allowing self-identification as a method of determining truth. For this reason, the SNP must allow that someone without black parents can really be black and that someone with two legs can really have one or that someone with good mental health might have schizophrenia.

Of course, the SNP might argue that we are just trying to be kind to BAME and disabled people by not subjecting them to intrusive tests. But being an MSP is a lucrative position. It is reasonable to assume that someone who is neither BAME nor disabled might pretend that they are. How is the SNP to weed out those who are pretending? Can I self-identify as an SNP supporter? I'm also willing to pretend to be disabled black man so long as they give me the job. If anyone denied I was an SNP supporting disabled black man I would get Mr Yousaf to prosecute them.

But this is our problem. How are we to tell the difference between a transgender person who really is transgender and someone who is merely pretending to be transgender? What objective test could we use to determine that this person really is transgender and this one is not? We cannot use physical appearance, we cannot use chromosomes. All we are left with is the person’s assertion. But so long as the person pretending maintains the pretence there is no way of telling them apart.  

To weed out those candidates who are merely pretending to be BAME or disabled we must rely on objective characteristics, ancestry, appearance and medical diagnosis. But that is to admit that self-identification is not a reliable method of determining ethnicity or disability. But if it is not reliable, why use it? Worse if it is not a reliable method of determining ethnicity or disability why do we suppose is a reliable method of determining sex?

The reason transracialism has been so controversial is that it annuls race as an objective characteristic. But this has the consequence of making for instance Black Lives Matters self-refuting because how are we to determine which lives are black? It also annuls racism. What if the policeman who murdered George Floyd defined himself as black? There would no longer be a racial motivation for his crime. We would no longer be able to blame white people for historically oppressing black people, because we would not know how these people racially defined themselves. If race becomes a matter of self-identification, then anyone could avoid the charge of racism by changing his self-definition. We could all then say whichever forbidden words we pleased and sing along to rap songs.

More importantly if race were no longer to be a matter of skin colour and ancestry there would be nothing for us to be racist about. How can I be prejudiced against a black person if I cannot know he is black? I cannot know it because race would be a matter of self-identification rather than skin colour.

So too the concept of disability dissolves if it becomes a matter of self-identification. If society provides extra resources or parking spaces for disabled people and these become available to anyone who defines themselves as disabled, then there will be no extra resources and no more parking spaces because the term disabled will apply to anyone who chooses it and it will be impossible to judge from appearance if someone is disabled or even if they have one leg or two.

If anyone can define themselves as black or disabled it would follow too that anyone can define themselves as Scottish. Why should being resident in this particular corner of the world called Scotland prevent self-identification as Scottish? But if any person in the whole world can define themselves as Scottish, then Scottish comes to mean human being. But if that is the case why is this small group of humanity trying to become independent from the rest of humanity? If on the other hand being Scottish is an objective characteristic only available to people with these characteristics, why does the SNP suppose that being BAME, disabled or indeed a woman is a matter of self-identification?

To suppose that human characteristics are a matter of self-identification is to abolish truth. If I can define myself as being black when I am white, I could equally define myself as being well when in fact I am infected with Covid. But this is to abolish medical science in a pandemic. If truth were a matter of self-identification there would be no science, because science requires an objective shared space rather than how we identify. But once this becomes clear the whole concept of defining what someone is by how they identify becomes untenable.

Wednesday 17 February 2021

Federalism plus nationalism equals secession


The United Kingdom almost uniquely in the world is threatened by secession. Some people such as Nick Timothy and Gordon Brown have proposed federalism as a solution. But in order to understand a solution it is first necessary to understand the problem.

Northern Ireland is threatened with secession, which some hope would lead to Irish unity, because of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement (1998). This gives Irish nationalists a legal route to achieve their goal by means of referendums in Northern Ireland and Ireland. The reason we have this agreement is because of the IRA bombing campaign that sought to achieve a united Ireland militarily. This failed, but the price of peace was that the IRA could achieve its goal electorally.

In Scotland the reason we have a threat of secession is because Scotland was granted devolution after voting for it in 1997. Prior to that the SNP was a small party with no serious prospects of success. Support for independence was low, similar to in Wales today. After devolution support for the SNP gradually increased until it was able to ask for an independence referendum that took place in 2014. The campaign for impendence itself increased support for independence by giving Scottish nationalists for the first time in centuries a real prospect of success. A goal supported by a minority of 25% became one supported by 44%. Suddenly what had been impossible became possible with one more try. The SNP became the dominant force in Scotland and the threat since 2014 of another independence referendum has been constant.

Wales has perhaps the best claim to independence because it is the only part of the UK where a language other than English is widely spoken. It is easy to imagine Welsh people responding to Scottish independence or Irish unity by asking for something similar.

There is no serious secession movement in England. While English people have been accused of nationalism because of Brexit almost no one in England supports English independence and no serious party supports it.

The difficulty for the secession movements in the UK is that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland depend on large financial transfers from the UK Government and most people living in these places wish to retain the rights that they have at present because they are British citizens. The British economy which benefits people living everywhere in the UK depends on maintaining the UK’s internal market and the fiscal transfers that go with us all using the pound as our currency.

If independence were shown to create hard borders between the parts of the UK, disrupt trade, prevent free movement and lead to the loss of using the pound as part of currency union then secessionists everywhere would be less likely to vote for it.

The UK is a unitary state with devolution. The devolved parliaments are subordinate to Westminster. Federalism would give the devolved parliaments parity with the federal government. The federal parliament might deal with issues that are now reserved to Westminster (macroeconomics, foreign policy, the constitution etc), while the state parliaments, including an English parliament would control everything else.

By its nature federalism would increase the powers of the state parliaments because they would no longer be subordinate. Devolution can only take place in a unitary state as to devolve logically means to give to a subordinate. But we already know that devolution has increased the demand for independence. Scottish nationalists reflected if we can run a devolved parliament why can’t we run an independent one. Well if they could run a federal parliament which is no longer subordinate, they would still more wish to take the next step. The SNP and its supporters would simply bank any new powers and ask for more.

The fundamental problem with federalism is that it does nothing in itself to stop secession. If Northern Ireland had a state parliament, Irish nationalists would still want Irish unity.

Scottish nationalists would respond to the Scottish Parliament becoming elevated by federalism by immediately asking for independence. The state parliament in Edinburgh would be on a par with the UK federal parliament and would take even less kindly to being denied a referendum on independence than it does at present.

England for the first time in centuries would have its own parliament and with the majority of the British population would consider itself more important than tiny Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The English electorate would be almost as big as the UK electorate and would immediately be a rival to the federal parliament. What right would the federal parliament have to boss England about?

England has been immune to nationalism and thoughts of secession precisely because it has not had devolution. Giving England a state parliament would almost immediately give rise to the English National Party (ENP) with perhaps a new role for Mr Farage.

Federalism could only work in the UK if secession was made illegal in a written constitution. But unless federalism got rid of the Belfast Agreement and along with it the Northern Ireland Protocol, secession would still be legal in the UK. If Northern Ireland could leave the UK federation, why not Scotland and Wales?

As a unitary state fiscal transfers make sense, but as a federal state why should money primarily raised by taxation in the south of England be used to increase the budgets of state parliaments in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland? The demand from the English state parliament to keep English taxes in England would increase.

But it would do almost as much damage to the UK economy if Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland failed to receive funding from the Treasury as if they voted for independence. These economies would crash, and England would get the blame. If Scotland raised all its own revenue and received nothing from the Treasury there would hardly any longer be an economic argument for being part of the UK. All that would be left would be the pound, the army, foreign policy and free movement of people to hold us together.

Worse if living standards decreased in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland meaning public spending, health and benefits declined then many people would be tempted to move to England and make it even more crowded than it already is.

The United Kingdom cannot become a federation so long as the people in its four parts think of themselves as living in countries which already have the characteristics of a sovereign nation state. It is this that destabilises the UK at present leading to demands for independence. A federal UK state would be seen as a confederation with the parts superior to the UK parliament rather than equal. But the UK has just left such a confederation (the EU) and the UK state parliaments especially the English one would view the UK federal parliament as lacking legitimacy especially if each part of the UK were given equal representation thus outnumbering England though England raised the most taxes and had the most population.

If the goal is unity, we are not going to achieve it by giving still more powers to the devolved parliaments. This is the source of the problem rather than the solution. Federalism only works where secession is forbidden, and the states are required to cease thinking of themselves as countries. But if this could be done with federalism it could equally well be done without it. Federalism by itself would not stop secession, would decrease our unity and would cause problems that even devolution has not given us such as a rise in English nationalism. Gordon Brown (devolution) and Nick Timothy (the election of 2017) might be better reflecting on their own failures before making the problem of UK unity still worse.

Monday 15 February 2021

It's absurd to imagine there was a conspiracy


BBC Scotland has chosen this moment to conduct an interview with one of the women who accused Alex Salmond of sexual assault. Glenn Campbell’s interview with the woman allows her to state that it was utterly absurd to suggest that nine women would perjure themselves by conspiring in a plot to bring down Alex Salmond. She says that the experience of the committee was more traumatic than being involved in the court case. That nine women would not lie to the police and the court, “and the truth is that we individually had experiences of Alex Salmond’s behaviour.” None of these statements is challenged, probed or contradicted by Mr Campbell. BBC journalists when interviewing people, they disagree with frequently can hardly be held back from interrupting, contradicting and putting forward the best possible counter argument. But not in this case.

One of the issues facing the Alex Salmond Inquiry is the necessity of not revealing information that might lead to someone being able to identify any of the women who accused Mr Salmond. The result is that I don’t know who any of these women are. But Mr Campbell does. How was this interview arranged? Did the woman contact the BBC or did the BBC contact her? But in either case Mr Campbell would have had to know that she was one of the accusers. How many BBC journalists know who these women are? Perhaps only those who were at the trial know. But what of the other people in the room where the interview was held, the cameraman, sound man etc? The Inquiry ties itself in knots over whether it can read evidence submitted by Mr Salmond in case it reveals even accidentally the identity of one of the accusers, but Mr Campbell and his crew is allowed to know it and indeed help others to know it.

The interview appears to reveal the woman’s voice, her dress and her build. Anyone seeking to fit the jigsaw together would find these clues useful. Anyone who knew the woman would recognise her. Why can the Committee not read evidence that merely mentions someone’s name in case it leads to identification, while Mr Campbell can reveal the woman to his camera crew and do very little to disguise who she is to television viewers?

The only people who know the truth about what happened between Alex Salmond and his accusers are the people involved. The events happened in private. But Alex Salmond was acquitted. This means one of two things.

1. He was really innocent in which case nothing illegal happened.

2. He was really guilty, but there was not enough evidence to convict him.

If I had been interviewing her, I would have questioned her statement that it was utterly absurd to suggest that nine women could lie and perjure themselves, by asking her “Why then do you suppose Alex Salmond was acquitted?” Clearly the jury believed that it was possible for nine women not to tell the truth, because if they had believed they were telling the truth they would have convicted Mr Salmond? One explanation for why the jury acquitted Mr Salmond is that it suspected that the case was politically motivated, i.e. that there was a conspiracy. But in that case the witness interviewed by Mr Campbell would have been one of the conspirators. Now she denies that there was a conspiracy, but do we expect conspirators to admit to taking part in a conspiracy?

While it might be reasonable for a jury to fail to believe one witness, after all it was her word against Salmond’s it would be unreasonable for a jury to reject the testimony of nine women, unless there was some other explanation. But the jury not only rejected the testimony of the woman being interviewed it rejected the testimony of all the other witnesses too. Yet Mr Campbell treats every statement she makes without query and without counterargument.   But the jury has already said that it did not believe her. Why should the rest of us? After all we were not at the trial.

The witness maintains “the truth is that we individually had experiences of Alex Salmond’s behaviour”. But how does she know what Mr Salmond did or didn’t do to the other witnesses? After all she wasn’t there. All she knows is the truth of what happened between her and Mr Salmond, and the jury rejected the truth of what she said in court. If it hadn’t it would have convicted Mr Salmond. But Mr Campbell even though he knows that the jury did not believe her, treats her testimony as being true without the need for any further questions? Why?

Perhaps Mr Campbell believes that women are incapable of lying. But in that case why have trials at all? Women could simply go to the police station accuse whoever they wished of sexual assault, the police could then arrest the suspect and send him to jail immediately. But if on the other hand women are capable of lying, why didn’t Mr Campbell even probe what the woman was saying in the interview.

The witness mentions that the experience of the Inquiry was worse than the trial. Mr Campbell did not ask how it could be that standing in a witness box was less traumatic than sitting at home and reading about the Inquiry in the newspapers. He merely accepted the statement at face value, with no counterargument. But the woman’s statement should have led Mr Campbell to ask her whether she had been reluctant to testify at all. Unfortunately, the fact that the Scottish Government forced all the women to accuse Mr Salmond by making them go to police would have rather undermined her statement that it was absurd to suppose that there was a conspiracy. If my employer makes me testify, it suggests not merely that my employer has something against the person I am accusing, but also that my testimony might not be as reliable as testimony freely given.

Is it possible for women to take part in a conspiracy? Women just like men can conspire. They can be offered career advancement if they cooperate, they can be threatened with something unpleasant if they don’t. Why then is it absurd to suppose that women might make up or exaggerate testimony? If one woman can lie about a sexual assault case, nine can certainly conspire about it, especially as it is clear that they knew each other and talked to each other. They might do so to take revenge against a hated former employer or because a subsequent employer desired them to do so. This sort of conspiracy has happened before and will happen again. This is why we have courts and juries who decide whether even nine witnesses are credible. If nine witnesses are rejected, it suggests the jury trusted none of them. One reason not to trust is if a jury suspected a conspiracy.

The BBC are supposed to be impartial, but it is quite clear not merely from this interview but also because of the Kirsty Wark documentary that BBC journalists have taken sides. They think that Salmond ought to have been convicted for which reason they disbelieve the alternative explanation that there was a Scottish Government conspiracy against him. This is partly because of the liberal bias in the BBC that treats all accusations of sexual assault as true, because women don’t lie, but more importantly since 2016 the BBC has lost all objectivity about Scottish politics because Sturgeon campaigned for Remain.

If justice was served when Salmond was acquitted and the jury was right to do so, then the only good explanation for why nine women came forward with testimony saying he sexually assaulted her, is that there was a conspiracy. It is hard to believe that nine women would lie or exaggerate independently if they did not know each other. If the jury were right, then it is reasonable to suppose the women’s testimony was organised and that sensing this the jury therefore acquitted the defendant.

But it is just this that the BBC cannot countenance. It would undermine the whole #Metoo movement because it would admit that women do lie about sexual offences and that therefore it is difficult to know what happened in private years ago. So too the BBC would have to admit that Sturgeon was not the saintly figure who tried to stop Britain leaving the EU, but rather something quite different and closer to the ruthless Lady Macbeth conspiring with her husband to get rid of a rival. But if that were true Glenn Campbell would spontaneously combust because everything he thought was true would turn out to be false.

Thanks to  @Cartoonsbyjosh

Saturday 13 February 2021

The SNP argument is illogical


The argument for Scottish independence is fundamentally about Scotland being outnumbered. Westminster has 650 seats, but Scotland only elects 59 of them. For this reason, the UK can have a Conservative Government even if relatively few Scottish seats vote Conservative. Likewise, the UK electorate can vote to leave the EU even though a minority of Scots supported Brexit. But the idea that this is unfair or undemocratic is to assume that Scotland ought never to be outnumbered. But the only way that this could be achieved would be if Scotland had independence. The argument therefore is assuming what it is trying to prove. This is made clear from the fact that if Scotland achieved independence it would still be the case that some constituencies would not get the Government they voted for. The only way that no one could ever be outnumbered is if all Scottish constituencies in an independent Scotland voted for the same party. But this would be a one-party state.

The central Scottish nationalist argument is illogical and not merely illogical it is complaining about something the UK can do nothing about. Scotland has 59 seats at Westminster not because we are underrepresented. If anything, Scotland has more seats than we deserve according to population share. It takes more voters to elect a Conservative in England than an SNP member in Scotland. But fundamentally Scottish voters have the same chance to elect the MP of their choice as voters anywhere else in the UK. But the SNP ignore this for they are demanding that Scottish MPs should never be outnumbered. But this would only be possible if Scotland had 326 seats and the other parts of the UK had only 324. This is really what the SNP demand to have a veto over UK democracy amounts to.

The SNP would only be happy if the UK Government ignored the majority who voted for Brexit over the whole UK because Scotland voted against.  But what gives Scottish voters the right to veto a policy when a similar number of voters in 59 English constituencies lack that right. If Scotland could veto leaving the EU, then it could equally veto any other policy it disagreed with. But this isn’t majority rule, it’s the minority rule of a privileged elite (Scots) whose votes count for more than everyone else’s.

But even if we arranged the Westminster seats so that Scotland had half and could never be outvoted by anyone else, would the SNP be happy? No of course not. They would still want Scottish independence. But this shows that the argument is not about representation or being outvoted it’s about something else. But what?

This year Scotland is predicted to run a deficit of between 26 and 28%. Many SNP supporters deny this of course, but where do they suppose the money for furlough has come from? Do they think it has all come from Scottish taxpayers? In that case why didn’t the SNP refuse the money that has kept our businesses going and raise it themselves. The Scottish Parliament after all has the power to raise and lower taxes. Why didn’t the SNP refuse the vaccines bought by the British Government and the help of the British Army to administer them by saying thanks but no thanks we can manage on our own?

But given that money has come from the British Government to Scotland what positive benefit do Scottish nationalists suppose will arise from Scottish independence? Will the benefit be material? But how?

If Scotland receives more from the British Government than we raise in taxation and other revenues ourselves, i.e. we have a deficit, then Scotland cannot logically be better off financially after independence. We would first have to replace the money we lost from the British Government. To suppose that Scottish independence would make us better off is to suppose that some magical transformation would happen to the Scottish economy merely because Scotland was independent. But what could this transformation be?

Scotland might or might not be able to join the EU after independence but being in the EU doesn’t automatically make a country richer. There are lots of EU member states poorer than Scotland. Anyway, Scotland trades much more with the other parts of the UK than with the EU. The consequence of joining the EU would be to lower tariffs with the EU at the cost of raising them with the other parts of the UK. But how could this make us richer?

Leaving the UK would mean leaving the UK’s internal market, which allows us to live and work anywhere in Britain and which means we have the same standards and rules about goods and services everywhere. But how would doing this make us richer?

So too if we were part of the EU it might be impossible for Scotland to remain part of the Common Travel Area, which is incompatible with Schengen, which is a condition for joining the EU. But it is hard to imagine how erecting a hard border between England and Scotland would improve Scottish living standards.

Also, if Scotland left the UK’s monetary union and used the pound unofficially, we would have no say on Scottish monetary policy. The Bank of England would set interest rates expand or contract monetary policy without thinking about what Scotland needed, because Scotland would be a separate state. Scotland would not have its own monetary policy, because it would not have its own money.  It would be good if the SNP explained how this would make Scots better off.

Eventually it might be necessary for an independent Scotland to fulfil its promise on entering the EU to join the Euro. This would involve Scotland creating its own currency and subjecting it to the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II). But this might involve devaluation firstly against the pound and secondly against the Euro. Would this raise or lower the living standards of Scots with a mortgage?

A positive argument for independence would be that it would aid the Scottish economy and that this would allow a future Scottish Government to be fairer and more generous to Scottish voters. But if Scottish independence damaged the Scottish economy, Scots would neither have a higher standard of living after independence nor would we live in a fairer society. Taxes would have to rise, and public spending would have to decrease. But this would make poor Scots still poorer. There is nothing fair or just about independence if it caused this.

There is no positive argument for Scottish independence. The idea that a country with Scotland’s present economy would see an increase in its average standard of living by giving up the money that sustains us at present is preposterous. We are left merely with a grievance about Scots being outnumbered. You’re bigger than us and you don’t do what we tell you to do.

We are forced to conclude that the SNP want independence for purely nationalistic reasons. The idea that Scotland would be a socialist paradise without the English and the Tories turns out to be a ruse invented by the SNP to achieve their nationalist goals. The SNP only has one argument and one belief.

Scotland ought to be independent because then we would be a nation. But oddly they think Scotland already is a nation so we would gain something that we already have, which is almost as illogical as the argument about our being outnumbered.  

Thursday 11 February 2021

Sturgeon has no mandate for anything now


Imagine there was an inquiry into a Government’s handling of a sexual harassment case in another country and we were following the details from afar. How would we react if we discovered that someone called Fabiani was the chair of this committee, but she had previously been sacked by someone called Salmond who was at the centre of what the inquiry was investigating? This is the sort of thing where we used to look on and count ourselves fortunate that we did not live in such a country where you could not trust the referee to give an impartial decision. The Eastern part of Germany might have called itself the German Democratic Republic, but the Government controlled the media and everything else and the same party was elected at each election and no one else had a chance.

It isn’t enough that people vote, and the votes are counted for there to be a free and fair election. In lots of countries that are not really democracies there are votes, but we snigger when they refer to themselves as democracies. I wonder how many people are sniggering at Scotland if indeed they are noticing us at all.

The Salmond Inquiry casts doubt not merely on whether the Scottish Parliament is capable of investigating anything fairly, it casts doubt on whether Scotland can be called a democracy at all. If such an inquiry were investigating the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, we would snigger at the thought that it could come up with a result that would imply that Vladimir Putin had ordered the poisoning. At some point the Committee would have a vote on whether it could read some evidence provided by Mr Navalny and it would vote along party lines that it could not. Reading about this from afar we might not grasp all the details of the case, but we would still have the smell of something rotten wafting all the way from Tomsk.

But just as it will be impossible for Mr Navalny to have a fair trial in Russia and just as it would be impossible for a committee to investigate anything about Mr Putin and come up with a result that was damaging to Mr Putin, so too it is impossible to have a free and fair election in Russia.

Every day Mr Putin stands up on the state owned Russian television channel and he speaks for an hour about Covid and uses that hour to attack political opponents. He does this right up until the election. The questions he receives from the press are carefully vetted. He hears them all in advance and he controls the whole process of who gets to ask the questions. If any reporter dares to give Mr Putin a hard time, then he finds himself next day covering the husky races in Omsk. But it’s not Mr Putin that is doing this. It is Nicola Sturgeon.

The desperation of independence supporters to achieve their goal has tainted political life in Scotland. Now some of them are revolting but it is too late.

In the early 1990s there was a brief window of opportunity in Eastern Europe to get rid of tyrants some countries succeeded others didn’t. In Belarus people looked on at the various revolutions going on around them and decided not to take part. But by 2020 when they were faced with yet another corrupt election, it was too late. Alexander Lukashenko had used the intervening decades to control the police, the courts and the army and he was willing to do anything to hold onto power. It was no use rebelling now because decades earlier you had looked the other way as your country ceased to be a democracy.

The two halves of Scottish nationalism, the Salmond side and the Sturgeon side both looked the other way as she held mass rallies with wee lassies weeping as they touched the hem of her raiment. They both looked away as the Scottish media became ever more biased in favour of Sturgeon and the personality cult developed.  They looked away because they thought it was in their interest because Sturgeon would bring them their goal.

Now the Salmond side is revolting. Perhaps Sturgeon only wants power and is merely using independence and our shameful hatred of the English to keep it.  Did she trick us all along?

It’s unfair that the Inquiry is rigged, opponents are liable to end up in court on trumped up charges and the media is doing its best to ignore the whole thing anyway. But we only got to this position because independence supporters looked away in 2014-2015 as Sturgeon built her empire and began to control everything.

But independence supporters by creating Sturgeon have also destroyed the one legitimate means they have for achieving independence. If we can no longer trust elections in Scotland, we can no longer trust that the SNP will ever have a mandate for anything. Sturgeon with her tame media machine intends to keep on speaking every day right up to election day. Her civil service which is supposed to be impartial during an election campaign will be the same civil service that receives £76,000 in order to learn how to give the correct answer to the Salmond Inquiry. But anyone looking on will realise that Sturgeon would have no more democratic mandate than Putin or Lukashenko. So how is the SNP supposed to progress to its goal? It can of course try to achieve independence illegally. But what do we call a group of people who lack a democratic mandate attempting to seize power? We call it a coup.

The Salmond Inquiry is chaired by a member of the SNP Government with perhaps a grudge against Salmond. It has a Pro Independence stacked deck and far from inquiring it is obfuscating. What do you call an Inquiry that is trying to hide the truth? A cover up. But if we cannot trust the Salmond Inquiry, the Scottish Civil Service, the courts and the Scottish Parliament itself, how can we trust democracy in Scotland? The SNP may or may not win the next Scottish Parliament election, but the result will have no more legitimacy than a match where the referee has been bought.

We would look on and snigger at Scotland if we lived far away, but it’s not so funny anymore because we live here.

Tuesday 9 February 2021

A Scottish standoff


There is a circle in the middle of a graveyard with a small rock in the centre. Alex Salmond stands with a gun in the final gunfight, but this is not a duel, but rather a three-way fight. A third of the way round the circle stands Nicola Sturgeon and after that I stand. It has been a long journey to this point, but now the secret that we have all been trying to find sits under that rock at the centre, but to get there we have to go through each other.

Scottish politics has become truel or a duel with three participants. Salmond and Sturgeon began their search for the gold as allies, but each has betrayed the other. The treasure lies buried in a grave, but which one. No one has all of the information needed to find it. Salmond knew where the graveyard was, Sturgeon thought she knew the name of the grave. She thought the name was Alex Salmond, but when they dug in that grave, they found it to be empty. She wonders if the name on the grave instead was Nicola Sturgeon.

We face each other across the circle. Sturgeon and Salmond are still allies about independence. I want to stop them. But for the moment I am hoping that he can defeat her. If only he can reveal her secret, then neither of them would get the gold, because I would be there to claim it. But what if they should shoot the only opponent of independence in the circle rather than each other? And who do I shoot.

I have lost track of the convoluted tale of Salmond and Sturgeon on many occasions since I first heard about it. The problem is that I am an outsider. I don’t know any of the participants. The story is incestuous. Only the SNP is involved. But now it has become a fratricidal civil war with former friends and lovers turning on each other. Each side represented by a figure in the graveyard.

Peter Murrell’s evidence under oath appears to contradict his previous evidence under oath. There is a word for this beginning with P, but the police were long ago centralised in Scotland and anyway everyone in Scotland judges everything by their stance on independence. The SNP members of the Salmond Inquiry don’t ask any difficult questions to Mr Murrell. Only the Pro UK members really want to find out the truth. There are no Salmond supporters inside the Inquiry. But if an Inquiry can be influenced, then clearly so can a court case. So, what is the likelihood that anything bad will happen to Mr Murrell? Perhaps this is why he is not much bothered by what if anything might be under the rock.

The outsider looking on discovers that £76,000 was spent on five civil service witnesses so that they could forget what they saw or heard. How much was spent on Mr Murrell’s testimony or was he able to learn how to give contradictory answers for free?

Mr Salmond failed to appear before the Inquiry because the evidence he wished to submit, which was freely available to all who wanted to read it, could not be published by the Committee of Inquiry. So while Mr Murrell is allowed to give contradictory evidence and five civil servants are allowed the services of lawyers paid for from public money to say as little as possible, Mr Salmond is not allowed to tell the Inquiry what  he has already told the world and what the Inquiry has no doubt read along with everyone else. If this is the way truth is uncovered in an Inquiry in Scotland is it any wonder that Mr Salmond is resorting to a Mexican standoff?

Immediately after Mr Murrell’s evidence, we discover from the woman who Mr Murrell exchanged conspiratorial texts with Sue Ruddick, that Alex Salmond had physically assaulted her in 2008. Later Anne Harvey someone who has been active in the SNP since 1974 claimed that she was the only witness to the alleged event and that it amounted to Salmond brushing past Ruddick.

Was it pure chance that Ruddick chose that precise moment to reveal the 2008 assault? If I had been physically assaulted by a man in 2008, not that I can remember anything at all about 2008, I would have gone to the police rather earlier, perhaps while I still had the bruises. Waiting upwards of twelve years makes it rather tricky for the police to prove what happened one way or the other.

But this is our problem. The three-way gunfight is such that we no longer know who to believe, because each participant has their goal and each participant has witnesses, former friends, lovers, employees and everyone of them has a stake in the gunfight.

The career prospects of various civil servants in Scotland depend on Nicola Sturgeon remaining First Minister. Alex Salmond’s supporters including anti-Semitic MP Neile Hanvey encourages a crowd funded defamation case against fellow MP Kirsty Blackman. I look on and point my gun at both Sturgeon and Salmond, but I wonder which one to shoot because I want them both to lose.

But independence supporters are no longer interested in Pro UK people like me. Their support is so high that they already think it is safe to ignore Labour, the Lib Dems or the Conservatives.  The SNP is exclusively fighting each other, which is an odd position for a party that has yet to achieve its goal.

But as I point to one then the other, I discover finally when I try to shoot that I don’t have any bullets. Either one of Sturgeon or Salmond emptied my gun, just so that it would be a fair fight and anyway because they are concentrating only on shooting each other. In the end I remain an outsider. I don’t know what went on at a Glenrothes byelection in 2008. I was never in Bute House. Only Salmond and Sturgeon know what happened. It means my gun is empty.

We have reached the end. The music is playing as we go round and round the circle. The camera zooms in to the eyes of each of us. This can only end with one or more of us down in the dust. We may reach the moment when we reach for our guns now or in another minute, but it has gone beyond the point where anyone is backing down. The truth is under a rock. It crawled there when we allowed the SNP to be in charge.