Tuesday, 30 March 2021

How to maximise the Pro UK vote in Scotland


It’s important to understand how the Scottish Parliament election system works to find the best way to defeat the SNP and other pro-independence parties such as the Scottish Greens and Alba.

The latest poll is as follows

SNP 42%    Cons 22%   Lab 17%     Green 8%    Lib Dems 8%

 

The SNP has had around a 20% lead for months, often more. The Pro UK parties are at about the same level of support they were in 2016 when we last had an election for the Scottish Parliament.



The campaign may change these percentages slightly, but it is highly unlikely that the SNP will lose 20 points or that Labour, the Conservatives or the Lib Dems will gain 20 points.

As things stand the SNP will win nearly all the constituency seats, because the pro-independence vote in the constituencies is united while the pro UK vote is divided by three. One is always going to beat one third.

There are 73 constituency seats. In 2016 the results were as follows:

SNP 59       Conservatives 7,   Labour 3     Lib Dems 4.

 

The Conservatives and Lib Dems benefit from there being parts of Scotland where they are strong enough to overcome the SNP’s overall percentage lead. Labour struggle because the regions where it was traditionally strong have gone over to the SNP.

It is impossible for the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems to do much better if they each choose to stand in every constituency. The result will be much the same as last time. There might be the odd upset. But the SNP will still win almost all the constituencies and be close to the point of winning the 65 seats needed for a majority.

So long as each party polls at a similar percentage to now, the election can be repeated over and over, and it will still end up with the SNP winning though it might only get around 40% of the vote.

For Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives to keep repeating this strategy is to give up the chance of winning. Labour won 21 list seats in 2016, the Conservatives won 24 and the Lib Dems only 1. But the list seats are the consolation prize for those who do poorly in the constituencies. It would never be possible to beat the SNP without defeating them in the constituencies. To focus a campaign on winning list seats is to admit that you will never form a government and your leader will never be First Minister. But there is an alternative.

The number of constituency votes in 2016 was as follows

SNP 1,059,898      Cons 501,844       Lab 514,261          Lib Dems 178,238

This means that the combined Pro UK vote was 1,194343 which is a bigger number that 1,059,898. The SNP won 59 constituencies versus Pro UK parties winning 14 even though there were more Pro UK votes than SNP votes. This is what dividing your forces in the face of the enemy does to you.

One solution to the problem would be to have a single Pro UK party. In the absence of this the only other solution is Pro UK people to vote for the Pro UK party that has the best chance of winning in each constituency.  

Unfortunately, tactical voting campaigns have had limited success over the years. By far the best way to make Pro UK voters choose the party most likely to defeat the SNP is for the two others to stand down in each constituency. Not every Pro UK voter would be willing to back the Conservatives, Labour or the Lib Dems, but many more would if the only alternative was the SNP.

This is not a game as Anas Sarwar suggests. Rather it is the only way to compete. Sarwar’s strategy is to give up and not even take part.

This is the most important part of the campaign. Unless Pro UK voters choose the party most likely to beat the SNP in each constituency, we will have no chance of defeating them.



The next aspect of the campaign concerns the list seats. Here it is necessary to understand that there are eight regions with 7 seats up for grabs, but that the number of list seats you win depends on the number of constituency seats you win.

In 2016 the SNP won only 4 list seats, because in most regions it won too many constituencies to have a chance on the list.

To arrive at the who wins a list seat it may be best to look at the regional votes from 2016.  In that election a party that came fourth or sometimes fifth could pick up a list seats with relatively few votes. The Greens won a list seat in Mid Scotland and Fife with only 17,860 votes.

It becomes clear that a party that wins between 17,000 and 25,000 votes in the list has a chance of winning a seat. But it only has that chance if it does not win a constituency. It is for this reason that it is worth having a list only party. Any party that wins a constituency has that much less chance of winning a list seat. For example, the SNP won 111,000 votes in the Glasgow region in 2016 but won no list seats because it won all nine constituency seats.

This means that in every region where either Labour, the Lib Dems or the Conservatives win a seat it would be advantageous if Pro UK people voted for All for Unity because as a list only party it won’t be hindered in the calculation of the list seats by its having won a constituency. It is only standing in the list seats.  

There has been some debate between Pro UK people on the best way to maximise the number of Pro UK list seats. I don’t believe that it is possible to know for certain prior to the election, because how well a strategy works depends on how many votes a party gets. We also don’t know what affect Alba will have on either the Green vote or on anyone else’s vote in the list.

But it is perfectly possible for All for Unity to get more than 17,000 votes in a region and at that level it will begin to win list seats. The more list seats All for Unity wins, the more likely Labour, the Lib Dems and Conservatives will see that working together is beneficial. At that point we may begin to move to people thinking about putting forward a single Pro UK party.

The strategy can be summed up as follows.

1 Vote for the Pro UK party with the best chance of winning in the Constituency.   

2 Vote for a different Pro UK party in the list.

3. I recommend voting for All for Unity.

If you disagree with my final recommendation that’s OK, but it will be advantageous if you are voting in a constituency where the Lib Dems are likely to win that you vote for a different Pro UK party with the list vote. For instance if you live in the Highlands and Islands where the Lib Dems won two constituencies, you are simply wasting your list vote if you give it to the Lib Dems, because they won’t win any list seats having won two constituencies. Better by far to vote for Labour, the Conservatives or as I suggest All for Unity.

In the South of Scotland in 2016 the Conservatives won 100,753 list votes but won only two list seats because it had already won four constituencies. Those Conservative list votes would have gained more seats if they had gone to a party that was not competing in the constituencies. After Labour won the East Lothian constituency in 2016 and the Lib Dems have previously won Roxburgh and Berwickshire. It is not knowing who will win a constituency that makes a list only party, All for Unity the best way to maximise the Pro UK list vote.

There are different ideas about tactics, just as we all support different parties, but don’t let’s squabble about it. The most important thing is to use our votes cleverly by rejecting the rather dumb idea of using both votes for the same party. The whole point of having two votes is to use them for different parties. Maybe if you’re a Conservative living in Glasgow you might decide to lend your first vote to Labour in the constituency but use your second vote for the Conservatives. But it would I believe be even better if you lent your second vote to All for Unity. Even a few All for Unity MSPs would massively help the cause of Pro UK people working together.

I support All for Unity, not merely because I see the logic of voting for a list only party, but because I want George Galloway, Jamie Blackett and others to be elected to the Scottish Parliament. They come from opposite sides of the political spectrum, voted Leave and Remain, but work together and would be more effective opponents to the SNP than most of the present Pro UK MSPs.

All for Unity is getting minimal coverage from the press and TV, but a grass roots campaign is still capable of being successful. The only alternative strategy is essentially defeatist. It involves doing what we did in 2016. But that failed. Let us at least try something different. We have the votes to defeat the SNP. If we use them cleverly we can topple Nicola Sturgeon.

Monday, 29 March 2021

Sturgeon is a plaster saint

 

The two major debates in Scotland of recent years about Scottish independence and EU membership are most often framed in terms of economics but are really about something else entirely. They are about identity and virtue.

The Yes campaign decisively lost the economic argument in 2014, because it couldn’t answer the crucial question about currency. Yet it still won 44%, because it was seen to be positive, hopeful and virtuous. Since 2014 the economic argument for Scottish independence has got worse, so bad indeed that it must be that independence supporters either don’t understand it, deny it or don’t care. Scotland spends vastly more than the revenue we raise, and independence would make that situation worse by potentially putting a trade barrier between Scotland and the other parts of the former UK. Yet while receiving billions from the British Government support for independence and the SNP began to approach 60%. Whatever else the argument is about it clearly isn’t about economics anymore.



Nicola Sturgeon did a very good job of projecting virtue. She was caring while those nasty Tory Brexiteers were responsible for spreading Covid and killing Scots. If only we could cut off Scotland from England and become like New Zealand, we wouldn’t have any Covid at all. Then we could be virtuous internationalists by joining with our fellow Europeans. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to look down like Holy Willie on those vulgar UKIP supporting England supporters with their tattoos, thick necks and that dreadful Nigel Farage and his partner in crime Boris Johnson.

The argument about the EU wasn’t really about economics either. Whether or not it would be beneficial for the UK to leave the EU is a matter for debate. There are plusses and minuses to be calculated depending on what sort of trade deals Britain will make in the future and whether the UK can become more efficient than the EU. But having left the EU, there is no question whatsoever that it would be damaging for Scotland to leave the UK in order to join the EU.

This is simply because Scotland trades much more with the other parts of the UK than with the EU and because EU membership would mean Scotland could not plausibly use the pound unilaterally, because we would have to promise to join the Euro. The border between Scotland and England would become the EU’s external border but unlike Ireland there would be no thirty years of terrorism and no Belfast Agreement to force the former UK to keep it open. The idea that this would be beneficial economically for Scotland is preposterous, but Holy Willie doesn’t care so long as he feels virtuous about the English.

As the argument for Scottish independence became worse after Brexit those Scots who most influence public opinion began to reframe the argument so that it became about Scottish good intentions versus Tory Brexiteer selfishness and vulgarity. Nicola Sturgeon was a nice Remainer who would reverse and rejoin. She was nice and fair and caring and if her economic arguments didn’t add up these could be safely ignored because she was the equivalent of Joe Biden, while Boris Johnson was just like that nasty Donald Trump.

But recent events have destroyed the virtue argument that led Nicola Sturgeon’s popularity briefly to soar like Icarus. The SNP may be able to raise the pay of nurses, but it can only plausibly do so because it has received vast amounts of money from the Treasury. It’s all very well complaining about those selfish Tories, but if we had voted for independence in 2014, we wouldn’t have got that furlough money at all. Would those nice people in the EU have given it? They were after all wonderfully generous to the Greeks.

Being in favour of high public spending and equality makes us Scots virtuous, but we like to look down on where the money comes from like Victorian snobs muttering about someone’s money coming from trade. But without Treasury money we might be equal, but we would be equally poor. Still those Tories are wicked for sending us free money.

Nicola Sturgeon portrayed herself as a saintly figure, but a saint who shares our problems using self-deprecation and that little laugh she does so well just to emphasise that she is one of us. But the plaster saint began to crack when we discovered that the Scottish Government resembled the Borgias more than it resembled the Waltons.

Bute House on some accounts became the 120 Days of Sodom in the years leading up to the referendum in 2014, but virtuous Nicola Sturgeon noticed nothing until it was time to get rid of Alex Salmond. At this point everybody except Sturgeon noticed everything and the whole court tried to find ways of ridding her of her turbulent Salmond.

Even if you didn’t follow all the details the Scottish Government could no longer plausibly be portrayed as virtuous. Rather it looked, corrupt, secretive and vindictive. Now the SNP has also split in two with Salmond forming one hydra head and Sturgeon the other. Can you imagine if there was a second independence referendum? Which head would lead the debate, or would they eat each other?

In addition, the EU doesn’t look quite as virtuous as it once did. It isn’t just that the EU has made a catastrophic mess of vaccinating its people while Britain has been hugely successful. More importantly the EU has been behaving particularly nastily towards Britain not merely with regard to trade but also by trying to stop us receiving the vaccines we have ordered and paid for. If Scotland had voted for independence, we would have by this stage vaccinated 40% less of our population and many of those people would have died. If we had listened to the SNP last summer and joined the EU’s vaccine programme, we would not be close to getting out of lockdown, we would instead be looking at extending it into the summer. The lives saved by leaving the EU make Brexit already worth it or do Remainers think trade is more important than lives? That doesn’t seem quite such a virtuous viewpoint.

Scots who saw virtue in Nicola Sturgeon and the EU now have a chance to reassess. Do you really think you would have been better off today if Scotland had voted for independence in 2014 and then joined the EU? Where would our money have come from and where would our vaccine? There is nothing virtuous about poor people dying from Covid. Nothing at all.

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Does Alba mean fix?

 

In theory Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party is good news for independence supporters. Let’s assume that support for independence is 45%. Well if the SNP wins 45% of the vote in the constituency seats it will win nearly all of them. But this means that it will win few if any list seats, because the number of constituencies you win is part of the calculation for the list seats. But this is where there is the potential to game the system. This is essentially what Alba is doing.

Let’s imagine we wanted to maximise the number of pro-independence seats. The best way to do it is to have two parties SNP1 for the constituency seats and SNP2 for the list seats. SNP2 = Alba. If all SNP1 supporters also supported SNP2 (Alba), the result would be that SNP1 & SNP2 would win nearly all of the constituencies and 45% of the list seats.


What this means is that Pro independence parties SNP1 and SNP2 could win 73 constituencies and 25 list seats, making a total of 98 seats out of 129. This would give them 76% of the seats on 45% of the vote.

This is the point of having different parties competing for the constituency vote and the list vote. This works particularly well for the SNP, which wins nearly all of the constituency seats, but the principle applies also to Pro UK parties. This is the logic behind All for Unity. The way to maximise the Pro UK vote is for Pro UK voters to choose whichever of the Lib Dems, Labour or Conservatives are most likely to win in each constituency and then vote for someone else in the list.

But while there is obviously a genuine difference between the Pro UK parties, the difference between a Salmondite party and a Sturgeonista party is minimal. They have exactly the same aim and everyone involved worked closely together as recently as 2014. They may have a slightly different timetable about independence and different tactics about how to get there, but this is no different from there being different views about how to achieve socialism in the Labour party.

Alba and the SNP are a single party that has fallen out with itself, but if there were to be a second independence referendum they would be on the same side and would soon bury the claymore. On other issues Alba and the SNP are also almost identical. They both hate the Tories, both support the EU and both appeal to the left of centre in Scotland. Alba and the SNP are merely a clash of personalities masking an identity of party. It is this that makes it transparently an attempt to cheat the Scottish people by obtaining an independence super majority with a minority of the votes. It’s the sort of thing that led a party with 37.3% of the vote to become a dictatorship in 1933.

Everything we have found out about the Scottish Government in the Alex Salmond Inquiry suggests that it already has too much power that it misuses, yet oddly Alex Salmond wants to give the Scottish Government even more power to the extent that it would barely have an opposition at all. But it was only the opposition in the Inquiry that attempted to discover the truth of what Nicola Sturgeon knew and when she knew it. If Alba got its way even that level of opposition would be gone because there would be hardly any Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem MSPs.

Would Alba act as an opposition? But it has exactly the same goal as Sturgeon and would do what is necessary to obtain independence. But this is the source of the problem in Scottish politics that independence supporters see the end as justifying the means, e.g. trying to put an innocent person in jail because he got in the way, or failing to release an education report because it might damage the cause of independence at an election.

Does anyone think a super-majority for independence would make the Scottish Government, more open, less secretive and less corrupt? But that very super-majority would have been obtained in a dubious fashion in the first place and would itself justify anything else that helped the cause.

The Pro UK response to this ideally would be for Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives to agree on which of them stood the best chance in each constituency. Failing that Pro UK voters must do this for them. I believe the best tactic after this is to vote for All for Unity in the list seats.

We don’t know how Alba will affect the result of the election. It’s a new party and Alex Salmond is almost as controversial as Sturgeon. We can only fight our battle as honestly as possible. We can at the very least do all we can to maximise the Pro UK vote. The higher the percentage voting for Pro UK parties, the better the moral argument for denying an independence referendum and the more obvious the fix if that high percentage does not lead to a high number of seats.

If independence supporters are going to cheat, the best tactic for us is to not engage with them. They cannot achieve independence with half the population refusing to cooperate. Pro UK parties should not take their seats in the Scottish Parliament if that Parliament’s voting system does not give us fair representation. Nor should we take part in any referendum that such a Parliament might decide it wants to hold. Let the SNP & Alba play with themselves, debate with themselves and feud with themselves. It will be merely sound and fury, signifying nothing.

We cannot change the electoral system for the election in May, but we can change the Pro UK turnout and we can vote tactically and strategically. This will have to be a grassroots campaign. It will depend on you telling your friends and neighbours, encouraging and doing what you can to get the vote out. Above all don’t be pessimistic. If Alba and the SNP succeed in fixing the Scottish Parliament Election, they will not bring independence one step closer. Rather they will demonstrate still more clearly the corruption of Scottish politics. They will succeed in taking away all legitimacy for the Scottish Parliament, which will destroy the only means they have of achieving their goal.

 

 

Friday, 26 March 2021

Freedom to speak, think and draw is crucial all of us

 

There are two world views on display in Yorkshire at the moment where there are demonstrations because a teacher showed a cartoon of the Muslim prophet. The first view is commonplace in most countries of the world and was common in Britain too until relatively recently. This is the view that the rules of a religion ought to apply to everyone living in society. The second world view developed mainly in Western societies over the past few hundred years is that a person’s religious belief ought to be free, which has the consequence that what I believe cannot compel you to do something.

During the age of the Tudors and Stewarts, what a King or Queen believed affected what everyone else believed. If a Queen was a Protestant, Catholics might be persecuted and vice versa. Gradually over the centuries we moved away from the idea that the various rules of Christianity could be enforced. The ability to think freely was one of the factors that led to scientific discovery and new developments in art, literature and technology.



But most countries in the world had neither a Renaissance, a Reformation nor a scientific revolution. For this reason, they never developed the idea that there was such a thing as freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of thought. In many countries there is no real distinction between religious belief and the law.

In Britain we accept that the state cannot compel its citizens to hold religious beliefs. It cannot force us to go to Church on Sundays nor to follow the rules of Christianity. But anyone who is a Christian can believe what he pleases and follow whatever rules the Church tells him.

Those Muslims who are complaining about a cartoon of the prophet that was shown in a school have freedom of religion. No one is forcing them to draw cartoons of the prophet. They can follow all the Islamic rules they wish and go to the mosque as often as they want. But this is not enough for them.

In Islam there is a rule forbidding depiction of the prophet and indeed other religious figures such as Jesus, Moses, and Abraham. But clearly while Muslims may forbid Muslims to do any of these things, they cannot reasonably forbid Christians or Hindus from doing them too. If they could then Muslims could shut down all the galleries in Britain that have paintings of Jesus and they could also shut down all of the pubs and butchers selling bacon.

But if Muslims could do these things, we would not have freedom of conscience in Britain rather we would have Muslim rules being applied to other believers and non-believers. This isn’t tolerance, but rather intolerance.

The only way that people following different religions, and none can live together tolerantly is if no one forces anyone else to follow rules based on religion. If any one religion can impose itself on those who don’t believe in it, then we will be returning to the intolerant times of the Tudors and Stewarts.

It may be however that Muslims are not so much complaining about the prophet being depicted but rather about him being shown in an insulting way. In that case what they would want would be for it to be forbidden for anyone in Britain to say or write or draw anything insulting about the prophet.

But would these rules apply to every religious figure? In that case it would be forbidden to say something insulting about Jesus. But what If Christians found it insulting to deny that Jesus existed or that he was the son of God. The problem here is that Muslims deny that Jesus was the son of God and deny that he died on the cross and was resurrected. But Christians might find this just as insulting as a cartoon depicting the prophet.

Part of being able to have freedom of thought and speech is being able to research and study religion. Christians initially found the work of Darwin to be insulting because it questioned the ideas put forward in Genesis. But If we had allowed Christians to stop Darwin writing freely on the ground that they would be insulted, then much of modern science would never have been discovered.

We cannot allow a group of religious believers to have a veto on what other people can say or do. Islam is as worthy a subject for study as Christianity, but it cannot be that everyone in Britain is forbidden to say anything critical about the prophet. If that were the case, then it would be impossible to write about the history of Islam. If it were forbidden to draw cartoons of the prophet, how long before it would be forbidden to criticise the Quran or Islamic law or indeed the actions of Muslims both now an in the past. If today we are to forbid cartoons of the prophet because Muslims are offended by them, who knows what Muslims will be offended by tomorrow. They might find the presence of beer in supermarkets insulting or the smell of sausages at a barbecue offensive.

There must be times when to understand recent history it is necessary to show certain cartoons that explain for instance the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015. But we ought not to seek to offend other people just for the sake of it. I would do my best to avoid offending Muslims, while trying to get across to them the idea that they most of all benefit from freedom of religion in Britain. We must not gratuitously seek to offend anyone, but we must be allowed to depict the truth as we feel it and think it, and this may involve drawing cartoons of the prophet, Jesus or anyone else.

If religious belief is strong, then it can easily withstand scholarship that doubts it and satire that mocks it. Christians initially found it painful when Britain first moved away from Christianity being a religion that was obligatory and became a religion that could be attacked both by science and the theology of Biblical criticism. Fundamentalism was no longer tenable intellectually and few retained the idea that the world was created in six days. Christianity could be mocked and doubted and rejected. But Christians living today are still free to believe what we wish and nearly all would prefer to live in a country with freedom of thought than at a time when you could be burned at the stake or have your head chopped off for disagreeing with a king about religion.

Freedom of religion is vital for all believers and for those who believe in nothing. People with a minority belief should be particularly careful about limiting the rights of other people, to think, or speak or draw. What if a majority in the future should discover aspects of Islam to be offensive or insulting? Who would then defend Muslims right to believe what they pleased? It would be no use relying on freedom of religion if it had already been squandered over a row about cartoons.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Why we need All for Unity

 

How well do you understand the electoral system for the Scottish Parliament? Probably not that well. This has become important because All for Unity has been criticised for splitting the Pro UK vote leading to fewer Pro UK MSPs being elected.

The most important point to make is that the Pro UK vote is already split. Scottish Labour, the Lib Dems and Conservatives stand against each other and do not cooperate in any way. This has frequently led to the SNP winning a seat which either the Lib Dems, the Conservatives or Labour might have won if only all Pro UK votes had gone to the Pro UK candidate most likely to win.   


  

The Scottish Parliament election involves each of us having two votes. The first vote is for one of the 73 constituencies which use the First Past the Post system like in Westminster. There are in addition 8 regions which elect 7 MSPs. These are the list MSPs and they are elected using a proportional representation system called the Additional Member System.

All for Unity will not stand in the 73 constituencies. So, there is no question of the vote being split any more than it already is. Rather All for Unity is encouraging voters to vote for the Pro UK party that has the best chance of winning.

The allocation of the list seats uses the D’Hondt Method. The crucial thing to realise is that the number of list seats a party gets depends on the number of constituency seats it gets. The more consistency seats the fewer list seats.

To illustrate here is an imaginary region with 9 constituency seats. The SNP win all of them. The voting is as follows

SNP: 150,000

Labour: 80,000

Conservatives: 70,000

All for Unity: 50,000

Liberal Democrats: 30,000

Green: 20,000

 

The SNP having won 9 constituency seats has its vote divided by 9 plus 1 = 10. The other parties are divided by 1. (The 1 is necessary to stop you dividing by zero, which would give an infinite number of seats.)

This gives the result

Labour: 80,000

Conservatives: 70,000

All for Unity: 50,000

Liberal Democrats: 30,000

Green: 20,000

SNP: 15,000 (15,000 divided by 10)

 

Labour has won 1 list seat in this region and in the next round of calculations it’s vote will be divided by 1 + 1 = 2.

This gets

Conservatives: 70,000

All for Unity: 50,000

Labour: 40,000 (80,000 divided by 2)

Liberal Democrats: 30,000

Green: 20,000

SNP: 15,000

 

The Conservatives get a seat, which will see their number of votes divided in two also. This process goes on 7 times until all the seats are allocated.

All for Unity has an advantage because it is not standing in the constituency seats and therefore cannot win one. If either of the Conservatives, Labour or the Lib Dems actually win a constituency seat, they will do less well in the list. If Labour won one seat it’s vote would be divided by three (1 constituency, + 1 list, plus 1 to stop ∞ = 3), if it won two seats it would be divided by four.

It is for this reason that it is advantageous to have a Pro UK party that only stands in the list.

It is impossible to know for sure what will happen with the list seats. It depends on how many constituencies Labour the Lib Dems and the Conservatives win.  

It is likely that All for Unity will take away votes from the other Pro UK parties in the list seats. But there is no reason to suppose that this transfer of votes will lead to fewer Pro UK MSPs overall.  It will depend on how many seats the Greens and other nationalist list parties win, and it will also depend on who wins which constituencies.

Naturally Labour, the Lib Dems and Conservatives are worried that they will lose list seats to All for Unity, but there is no reason to suppose that the overall number of Pro UK seats will fall because of All for Unity and there are good reasons for hoping that the presence of All for Unity on the list will lead to more Pro UK MSPs. But in the end, it will depend on the voters. D’Hondt is designed to reflect the proportion of the votes given to each party. It should still do this whether or not All for Unity takes part in the election.

The more people who vote tactically for whichever Pro UK party has the best chance in a constituency, will make it more likely that one of those parties beats the SNP in a constituency. But if that happens it will be beneficial that All for Unity is standing in the list seats, because the arithmetic of the D’Hondt Method benefits parties in the list seats who didn’t win any of the constituencies.

It is intriguing that after being ignored for most of the past year certain commentators have decided on a rather regular basis to attack All for Unity. This all rather resembles a squabble between the Scottish People’s Front and the People’s Front of Scotland. It’s all very well accusing All for Unity of being splitters, when Labour, the Lib Dems and Conservatives have been splitting the Pro UK vote for years.

I don’t know what is going to happen in the election. No one does. A few votes either way could lead to the Conservatives unexpectedly winning a constituency, which might make it advantageous for the Pro UK cause that All for Unity is standing in the list.

What I do know is that I became involved with All for Unity because I was dissatisfied by the performance of the Pro UK parties in Scotland. Labour and the Lib Dems backed Humza Yousaf’s hate crime bill and abstained in the vote of no confidence against Nicola Sturgeon. If All for Unity were able to take some seats away from them it would be well deserved. The Conservatives too could do with a kick up the backside. I would be delighted if All for Unity could split the cheeks of Willie Rennie, Anas Sarwar and Douglas Ross, they might be just that little bit less likely to take for granted the votes of Pro UK Scots.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

The myth of Sturgeon

 

Alex Salmond was acquitted one year ago. At the time I was astonished that a jury could fail to believe nine women witnesses. It is always difficult to prove what happened in private some years ago, but if it is not possible to convict a man of sexual assault in Scotland when there are nine witnesses, we might as well give up prosecuting such cases entirely. Like many people with no inside knowledge of how the Scottish Government and the SNP work I was left baffled. I thought Mr Salmond was extremely lucky. Judging from the evidence I had read in the newspapers I would have convicted him.

I now believe that if Mr Salmond had been convicted there would have been a monstrous miscarriage of justice. It has become clear during the past year, that there was a conspiracy against him. Far from being perverse, the jury were unusually perceptive. Their decision to acquit Mr Salmond was not supposed to have happened. If Mr Salmond had been jailed, we would have discovered nothing about the conspiracy. Whatever mistakes the Scottish Government might have made in its investigation of a former minister would have been justified by the result that nine women had achieved justice.



We discovered yesterday that Nicola Sturgeon too has been acquitted of breaking the ministerial code, but the evidence against her has been building up for the past year. It has become like the rock that Sisyphus had to drag up a hill. At any moment it is liable to fling her to the bottom of the hill. The hill is her dream of Scottish independence. She has now become the burden that the SNP bears. For a year she has appeared on TV every day and it has been enough to convert many to the cause, but now when she appears viewers are reminded of the woman who didn’t know, couldn’t remember and wasn’t there.

The Scottish Government promised to be forthcoming and helpful to the Alex Salmond Inquiry, but it wasn’t. It did everything it could to prevent the Committee seeing the evidence. It required a vote of no confidence in John Swinney to get legal information released. If the Scottish Government has nothing to hide, why did it hide?

But gradually the evidence emerged anyway. A policy was changed so that former ministers could be investigated and then lo and behold Alex Salmond was investigated, but Nicola Sturgeon knew nothing about it and hadn’t authorised close colleagues of hers to do anything. We are supposed to believe that Sturgeon who is on TV because she can’t bear to delegate was not in charge and not involved as her chief of staff and husband wrote messages and the whole SNP party machine was trying to find evidence against Mr Salmond.

It is not so much any one piece of evidence that shows Sturgeon’s involvement. It may also be possible to think that one text message was innocent even if it appeared to be guilty. But just as other things being equal we ought to be believe nine women if they claim they were sexually assaulted, so as each piece of evidence of a conspiracy came to light it eventually became impossible to believe that all was innocent in the Scottish Government. It is clear merely from the tone of various messages that senior people close to Sturgeon were at least hostile to Mr Salmond and that they hoped that he would be convicted. Yet we are supposed to believe that she was not hostile.

To read about disappointment that someone had failed to deliver witnesses against Mr Salmond, or that someone else was wavering about testifying but was then keen to see him convicted, is to have a view inside the SNP and the Scottish Government that is sinister and frightening. If even Alex Salmond could have all these people trying to put him in jail, what would happen to an ordinary citizen who made important people in the SNP angry. It’s like poisoning someone with Novichok to demonstrate that if you betray Putin, he will find a way to get you. If Alex Salmond had been jailed no one would have dared to disagree with Nicola Sturgeon.

If I had been on the jury a year ago, with the information given to me by the BBC and others I would have convicted. I knew nothing about any conspiracy. I knew nothing about the behind the scenes manoeuvring against Alex Salmond.   But it was not the mainstream media that knew the truth then. It was people like Craig Murray who have done most to tell the rest of us what really happened. Now it looks as if he may be convicted of contempt of court and perhaps sent to jail. It would be a warning to everyone else to keep silent. Mr Murray is a political opponent, but he also a human being who has tried to do good. We should all wish him well.

It would be ironic if someone who tried to tell the truth were to be jailed, while someone who tried to evade telling the truth were to be acquitted. The weight of evidence of a conspiracy against Alex Salmond is now overwhelming. The evidence we have discovered in the past year only makes sense if there was a conspiracy. It is also the only reasonable explanation for why nine women were not believed by the jury.

Sturgeon will not resign. She would not have resigned even if she had been found to break the ministerial code. But what matters now is that Scots of all political views join together to get rid of the corruption that has taken over the Scottish Government and the SNP. What is the point of gaining independence if you end up with a Government that can conspire against Alex Salmond? If it can conspire against him, it can conspire against you. Anyone who thinks that we could get rid of Sturgeon after independence might as well suppose that the Russian people can get rid of Putin.

If we can deprive the SNP and the Greens of a majority, it might just be possible to investigate further, delve deeper. Imagine what evidence a full public inquiry into the Scottish Government would reveal. It would show that Sturgeon has not merely broken the ministerial code, but much else besides. At that point she will lie at the bottom of the hill crushed by the weight of evidence.


Thanks to @Cartoonsbyjosh  http://cartoonsbyjosh.co.uk

Saturday, 20 March 2021

You’re not more Scottish than me.

 

In Scotland there are a group of people who want Scotland to be an independent country. But who are they and why do they want this?  They are frequently supporters of the SNP though some also support the Scottish Greens or other less well-known parties. Some don’t support any party but have decided that they would vote for Scottish independence at any future referendum. But why?

The argument frequently goes that it is unfair that the Scottish electorate frequently gets a Conservative Government at Westminster though the Conservative Party doesn’t win the majority of seats in Scotland or that it is unfair that Scotland voted to Remain in the EU, but the UK left anyway. But why should this matter?



If I point out that in an independent Scotland a part of Scotland would not always get the Government, it chose or would not have a veto on EU membership SNP supporters point out a distinction. Aberdeenshire must accept the will of the Scottish majority, because it is not a country, but Scotland should not accept the will of the British majority because the Scottish people form a country that is distinct from the UK whole. This is the essence of the SNP argument. It always in the end is about there being a country called Scotland and a people called Scottish and that these are distinct.

But what is to be Scottish and what is it for Scotland to be a country that makes it illegitimate for these Scots to be outvoted by the UK whole? Scotland being a country is based on the fact that Scotland was an independent nation state until 1707. The basis is therefore historical. If Scotland had never been an independent country, it is no more likely that there would now be an SNP than there would be a Yorkshire National Party.

Likewise, the idea that there is a Scottish people is based on the fact that there was once an independent Scottish nation full of Scottish people and that the present people of Scotland are descended from them. If at some point in the intervening 300 years a wholly new people had moved to Scotland with no connection with the previous people, there would be no sense that the present Scottish people have a historical connection with the past Scottish nation. So, this too is based on history and ancestry.

When Scottish nationalists march or gather at the site of the Battle of Bannockburn they are asserting that we are the same people that fought against proud Edward’s Army and sent him homeward to think again. If that is not how Scottish nationalists think, then why do they frequently dress up as Jacobites and use the flags and symbols of the period when Scotland was not part of the UK?

The SNP symbol looks remarkably like an upside-down Odal rune (). This symbol means heritage, inheritance, inherited estate. I do not know if the founders of the SNP knew about this symbol, but it would be appropriate if they had based the SNP symbol on it, because it is the essence of their argument. Support for the SNP today is based on heritage and inheritance. The sense of Scotland being a nation and Scots being a people is something that was handed down from parents to children. How else did it come down to today?

All nationalist arguments are based on identity and that identity being handed down from parents and grandparents. If there had been mass waves of migration into Scotland from the other parts of the UK and elsewhere so that there was no longer a distinct Scottish language, accent or identity there would be no SNP. If no Scottish residents could trace their ancestry to the Battle of Bannockburn and that Scottish ancestry was as likely to be French, West Indian or Chinese as anything else there would be no more demand for secession in modern day Scotland than there is in modern day Vermont.

Scottish independence marches are overwhelmingly full of people whose ancestors have lived in Scotland for centuries. These people nearly all look the same and speak the same. They are not multicultural. Rather they form a monoculture. It is for this reason that they march.

In many countries national identity is a matter of where you were born and where your parents came from. In Eastern Europe it is still common to think of identity as a matter of language and heritage. What made Poles continue to be Poles when Poland ceased to exist when it was partitioned was that they spoke Polish, were Catholic and had Polish ancestry.  

In Britain we no longer think this way. We rightly believe that someone whose parents came from elsewhere and has British citizenship is as fully British as everyone else. We do not make the distinction between identity and citizenship. Rather in a similar way to the United States we have the idea that anyone can become British.

But there is no such thing as Scottish citizenship because Scotland is not an independent nation state that issues passports. Scottish nationalists have British passports even if they reject the UK and refuse to accept that they are British. But if it is not citizenship that makes residents in Scotland Scottish, what is it?

I might be a resident in the United States for many years, but I would not normally call myself an American unless I was a United States citizen. This is also the case in Europe. Scots who retire to Spain do not normally call themselves Spanish. Scottish people such as a certain blogger living in Bath do not call themselves English. Many people who were both born and raised in England such as a former ambassador to Uzbekistan think of themselves as Scottish because their parents were Scottish. Many Scots living in England resented not having a vote in the 2014 independence referendum even if they had not been to Scotland for years and perhaps even if they were not born and raised here. So, what is it that makes someone Scottish?

George Galloway has recently been criticised for writing:

Well #Humza you’re not more Scottish than me. You’re not a Celt like me. You’re not working-class like me. You didn’t go to a state school like me. You’re not more socialist than me. So stop pretending. You’re a poseur.

We should of course all accept that Humza Yousaf is Scottish. He was born in Scotland, lives in Scotland and the Scottish identity should not be limited to people with Scottish ancestry. But Mr Galloway does not deny that Mr Yousaf is Scottish. He merely says you are not more Scottish than me. But this is true. They are both equally Scottish.

Likewise, the statement that Mr Yousaf is not a Celt is true. Mr Yousaf’s father was an accountant, which suggests he had a middle-class family. It is also true that Mr Yousaf did not go to a state school. He went to Hutchesons' Grammar School, which also suggests that his background was affluent. If Mr Yousaf were a socialist, why is he in the SNP rather than the Labour Party or one of the other parties of the left?

Everything Mr Galloway said was true, yet certain commentators have condemned him for saying it, or have suggested he said something that he did not say.

If it is wrong to point out that many Scots are Celts, why does the SNP go to such great lengths and expense to promote a Celtic language in Scotland. It doesn’t promote Polish or Urdu, but rather gives Gaelic special treatment to an extent far exceeding its relatively few speakers. It does this because Gaelic is indigenous to Scotland while Polish and Urdu are not.

It is common to describe Scotland, Wales and Ireland as being Celtic, though the Ancient Britons in England also spoke a Celtic language. Most British people have Celtic ancestors, but some do not. It doesn’t make them less British or Scottish. After all the Celts migrated here too.

But if my parents had emigrated to Poland in the 1960s, I don’t think I would have joined the Silesian National Party (SNP). It might be that other Polish people would be willing to treat me as equally Polish, it might be that Silesians might be willing to treat me as equally Silesian, but on what basis would I want Silesia to be independent? Even if lots of other Silesians wanted Silesia to be independent or perhaps to rejoin Germany it’s hard to imagine me thinking this had anything to do with me. Why would I have a sense of being Silesian making me different from other people whose parents had migrated to Warsaw rather than Wrocław.  I might jump on the bandwagon of the cause of Silesian independence, but what would it really have to do with me?

It is for this reason that I’ve always found the motives of people like Humza Yousaf hard to understand. He of course can stand for any party he pleases and support any cause. But why get involved with a party that in the end is based on ancestry when you don’t share that ancestry? It feels like a pretence or else opportunism. There is something fake about it. 

Scottish nationalism would not exist at all if all Scots based their Scottish identity in the same way that someone like Humza Yousaf does. He puts on and off whatever kilt he pleases and rightly so, but many if not most Scots feel a kilt is a matter of family and that you are either entitled to wear it or you are not. It’s to do with ancestry even if these kilt patterns were invented in the nineteenth century.

The idea that Scotland is a country and that the Scots are a people is not because of people whose parents arrived here in the 1960s. If being Scottish is just a matter of living here, then why feel any distinction between us and people in England who are also just living there. If the basis of identity is open to everyone who moves here, then there is no valid distinction between someone of Asian heritage living in Bradford or living in Glasgow. It becomes a matter of arbitrary choice of where your parents chose to live. But that is not a valid reason to campaign for independence for this group from that group, when the basis of their identity and nationality is the same. So called Civic nationalism make Scottish nationalism arbitrary and in the end senseless. 

The only reason to suppose that the Scottish people should have independence is that we are in some important way different from the other people in the UK and that we have something in common which they lack. But what can this something be if it is merely the fact that we live in Scotland rather than England?

The campaign for Scottish independence only makes sense when it is based on Scots having a common ancestry, heritage and history and that this is something we share, but which is not shared by people in England. But the problem here then is that Humza Yousaf is fighting for something that he does not share and which none of the other SNP supporters from overseas or other parts of the UK share either.

Scotland rightly is welcoming to people from everywhere. The Scottish identity should be open to all. But the ideology of Scottish nationalism depends on a concept of Scottishness that is not open to all. If it is not about ancestry it is about nothing at all. It is this which makes it rather unwise for people from Poland, Portugal, or Pakistan to play around with Scottish nationalism. The SNP may pretend to be welcoming, but at root it has a concept of Scottishness that excludes people whose ancestors were not Scottish. This is carefully hidden today, partly by useful fools like Mr Yousaf, but it is there none the less.

Mr Galloway’s point I believe is the opposite of racism. Everything we know about Mr Galloway including his family tells us that he has no prejudice against Muslims. He is merely pointing out that Humza Yousaf is like a black man who wants to join the Confederate cause of Southern independence. It is at best an unwise pretence, at worst mere opportunism that is unlikely to end well. 

Scottish nationalism is the cause of those Scots who are obsessed with ancestry, who look back to 1314 and an auld enemy. If you don’t share that ancestry, be careful helping those who think the most important thing in the world is recreating the place where their ancestors used to live. After all your ancestors did not live there. They were not Celts, nor indeed were they Scots. 

Friday, 19 March 2021

Losing with a stacked deck

 

It is remarkable indeed that the Alex Salmond Committee has concluded that Nicola Sturgeon misled it. It is about as remarkable as winning a game of poker against someone who can deal whichever card he pleases when he pleases. If we were in a Western saloon such a person would be liable to get himself involved in a gunfight if his dealing from the bottom of the deck or from up his sleeve was discovered. But the gunfight would be liable to occur only when his opponent found that he had lost and that he had lost not because of chance but because the deck was stacked against him. If the card sharp were lucky he would be run out of town. If he were unlucky, he would come away with a bullet rather than his winnings. But although the Salmond Inquiry involved a stacked deck, it is Sturgeon that has lost.

The Alex Salmond Committee has an SNP convener, Linda Fabiani. It has four SNP members, who give the impression of doing everything in their power to prevent anything damaging to Sturgeon from coming to light. They wasted time by asking irrelevant questions. We had to sit through hours of filler from the SNP members just to get to people like Murdo Fraser and Jackie Baillie who asked the difficult questions designed to get at the truth. There were two other Pro UK members of the committee and one former Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman now sitting as an independent.



The Scottish Greens in general are more interested in saving Sturgeon than saving the world. Their main role since being elected to the Scottish Parliament has been to form a group with the SNP. On every important issue they have sided with the SNP especially over the issue of independence. They are not so much environmentalists as a different shade of Scottish nationalist. The Committee therefore has not only a pro independence convener, it also has a pro independence majority. But the side you take on Scottish independence is the only issue of substance that the Scottish electorate votes on. So, the Committee has a majority on that issue too. If that is not a stacked deck, what is?

The Committee has been hampered from the beginning by the Scottish Government being unwilling to cooperate with it. The Crown Office and the Lord Advocate have done their best to prevent the Committee reading statements written by Alex Salmond, going so far as trying to prevent it reading statements that were already in the public domain. We have discovered that certain civil servants were given expensive advice on how they should testify. When Sturgeon herself appeared before the Committee much of her evidence amounted to, I don’t know, I don’t remember, and I wasn’t there. It took a vote of no confidence in John Swinney before crucial evidence about the legal advice given to the Scottish Government was made available. If that is not a stacked deck what is?

But even so a majority of the committee now thinks that Sturgeon misled it. She of course maintains that this is partisan. But the only thing that is partisan is that the four SNP members of the Committee voted against. It is extraordinary and to his credit that Mr Wightman has voted contrary to the normal division of Scottish politics. Doubtless Sturgeon will be furious with him and perhaps there will be political consequences for him. Independence supporters who voted for him to be an MSP may be regretting their decision.

The Scottish Government did everything possible to prevent the Committee coming to the conclusion that it did. We can assume that Mr Wightman was sympathetic to Sturgeon and shared the same political goal as her to achieve Scottish independence. He must know that any damage to her would also be damaging to the prospects of independence. Yet still he chose to side with the Pro UK minority MSPs in saying that Sturgeon misled the Committee.

When an historical witness who is a supporter of a King or Queen says something negative about them, we are more likely to believe it precisely because it is contrary to that person’s interest to say something negative. So too here. If Mr Wightman could have possibly sided with the SNP he would have done so, but the evidence must have been so overwhelming that his conscience overcame his natural tendency to support the pro-independence side. It makes his view crucially more believable precisely because it is contrary to his interest.

Imagine if the Committee had been organised differently with genuinely impartial members, such as during a Public Inquiry. Imagine if the convener had been a judge. Imagine if the Scottish Government and the Crown Office had cooperated fully and provided all the evidence they had, if necessary, in private to protect the identities of the women complainers. In that case there would not have been a stacked deck. How much more likely would it have been in those circumstances that Sturgeon would have been found to have not merely misled the Committee, but something worse?

The Scottish Government did everything possible to prevent the truth about Sturgeon coming out. It had cards up its sleeve, it dealt from the bottom, it had marked cards, yet still it could not win the poker hand. The case against Sturgeon is now so bad that she cannot win even by cheating.

Sturgeon will not resign. The Scottish Parliament with its independence supporting majority will protect her. But the Scottish public can now see the aces coming out of her sleeves. If she can mislead a Parliamentary Inquiry, she can mislead us about everything. How can we trust her to tell the truth about Scottish Independence, Covid or anything else? If she won’t go honourably, it is time to make her go dishonourably by running her out of town on a rail.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Davis has exposed the conspiracy

 

It may not be possible to prove it, it probably won’t be possible to get Nicola Sturgeon to resign. She is protected by her SNP MSPs and by her Scottish Green MSPs. If there were a vote of no confidence in Sturgeon, she would probably win it. The Alex Salmond Inquiry Committee will also vote along independence supporting lines. But despite all of these things we now know, pretty much beyond a reasonable doubt, that there was a conspiracy against Mr Salmond, that senior figures in the Scottish Civil Service and the SNP were involved and that Nicola Sturgeon almost certainly knew about it long before she says she did. This makes her evidence to the Inquiry look less than honest.

David Davis could not have produced the messages that he did if they had not been sent. The messages could not have been sent if there had not been a conspiracy. The people involved in sending the messages are so close to Sturgeon, her husband, her chief of staff, that it is impossible to imagine that she was not involved. The idea that her chief of staff, Liz Lloyd did a bit of freelance work without Sturgeon’s knowledge or permission is to imagine what would have happened if Sturgeon had been displeased at those close to her investigating Alex Salmond’s past behaviour. How would Sturgeon have reacted if one of her favourite ministers was being investigated by her husband and chief of staff without her knowledge?



It is clear from the messages that Davis read out that there was an attempt to find people who would accuse Mr Salmond of sexual offences. There was disappointment when promising accusers failed to accuse. There were attempts to make sure those women who accused Mr Salmond continued to do so.

By what right did these people usurp the role of the police? It is not for ordinary citizens to try to gather witnesses to a crime. It’s the job of ordinary citizens to report matters of concern to the police and then let the police get on with their job free from interference.

It is quite clear that there were people within the SNP and the Scottish Civil Service who were desperate to find women who would accuse Salmond of sexual offences and desperate for him to be convicted. Some of these people ludicrously were involved in an investigation into Mr Salmond’s behaviour. To describe the investigation as tainted with bias is something of an understatement.

But all of the alleged offences happened prior to the independence referendum in 2014. Why had none of the people involved in the later investigation been so diligent in finding out about Mr Salmond’s alleged behaviour then? Why suddenly did we have an investigation beginning in 2017 leading to Scottish civil servants and SNP officials striving to find evidence against Mr Salmond?

The obvious answer to why there was a conspiracy is that someone started to conspire. We know that Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell was involved. We know that Sturgeon’s chief of staff Liz Lloyd was involved. But why hadn’t they begun this conspiracy earlier, say in 2014? What did they wait for? The answer of course is permission.

If Alex Salmond had still been best friends with Nicola Sturgeon as he was in the years leading up to the referendum, it is unimaginable that there would have been a conspiracy to convict him of anything. If Sturgeon had been told in August 2014 a month before the referendum of allegations from women working in Bute House, would she have personally leaked details about those allegations to the Daily Record? No, a conspiracy could not have happened in 2014, because it would have been inconvenient. It would have damaged the Yes campaign.

But by 2017 Mr Salmond had begun to annoy Nicola Sturgeon. He didn’t want to play the revered elder statesman role, but rather had a tendency to tell her what to do. Worse there was a faction of the SNP that supported Mr Salmond more than her. The SNP was not quite Sturgeon’s.

We know there was a conspiracy. But we don’t know how it started. Perhaps someone saw a news report about Harvey Weinstein, had a light bulb moment involving a band wagon and saw Mr Salmond as a way of getting on it.

Suddenly a new policy was developed which for the first time enabled the investigation of former ministers, but not former civil servants. We are supposed to believe that Sturgeon was not involved and knew nothing about it. After the first couple of women accused Mr Salmond, there was an attempt to find more, but again Sturgeon knew nothing about it despite the involvement of her husband, her chief of staff and that she was frequently in the building where the alleged sexual assaults happened. Perhaps Sturgeon could have provided answers or evidence, but she wasn’t even asked.  

We are supposed to believe that the last thing Sturgeon wanted was for her best friend and mentor to be charged with anything, yet it all just happened by chance without her at any point giving the nod that led to the conspiracy beginning. This is the equivalent of supposing that when a horse’s head ends up in your bed, that Don Corleone wasn’t involved and knew nothing about it. He would not doubt testify that this was so. The idea that a conspiracy against Alex Salmond could be plotted merely by Peter Murrell, his SNP friends and members of the Scottish Civil Service without involvement of the person in charge of all of them makes no sense.

The investigation into Alex Salmond which cost the Scottish Government more than half a million pounds ought to cost the conspirators their jobs if not their liberty. It probably won’t. Those who have to go will go with large pensions. SNP and Green MSPs will put the cause of independence ahead of the cause of honesty and morality in Government. This is the fundamental problem with that cause. It causes people to act immorally because they think getting rid of Mr Salmond by sending him to jail would be worth it if it increased the power of the SNP and increased the likelihood of independence.

But the Scottish electorate still has the chance to deprive Sturgeon of her job and the SNP of its power. We had better take that chance, because a Government that is willing to use its power to conspire against Mr Salmond is a Government that is willing to subvert democracy itself.

 

Monday, 15 March 2021

The best known opposition politician in Scotland

 

Last summer the Pro UK cause was in trouble. The opposition leaders at Holyrood were anonymous and ineffective. Nicola Sturgeon’s popularity was increasing daily due to her being on TV every day with party political broadcasts masquerading as Covid information briefings. Both the SNP and Scottish independence were comfortably ahead in the polls. Many supposedly Pro UK journalists were about ready to give up. If we surrender nicely Nicola will you let us continue to write in an independent Scotland? But one man wasn’t about to give up. That man was George Galloway.

All for Unity, originally founded by Mr Galloway as Alliance for Unity was decisive in turning the mood around. The RAF roundel logo began to appear regularly on social media. The SNP was the target and a few of us began to strafe them with ever increasing accuracy. Behind the scenes a group of some of the best Pro UK thinkers began to share ideas. We encouraged each other when polling wasn’t so great. We devised strategies for taking on the SNP. We were the opposition.



I began to write more as did people like Jill Stephenson, Tom Gallagher, Jamie Blackett and Mark Devlin who founded the brilliant Majority site (https://themajority.scot) which has gained such valuable publicity with its #ResignSturgeon banners and fly past. But none of us are exactly well known. We needed someone who could take on Sturgeon. That person was George Galloway.

There are two problems with the opposition leadership in Scotland. They are anonymous and useless.  A year ago, Scottish Labour were led by Richard Leonard now they are led by Anas Sarwar, but not one Scot in a hundred could name both of them. The Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross is more famous for being a referee than for being a politician and has done little to improve the chances of the Conservatives since taking over last year. Willie Rennie of the Lib Dems has not obviously achieved anything since becoming leader in 2016. Is it any wonder that recent polling says that George Galloway is the best-known opposition politician in Scotland?

The poll, which was conducted between 4th March and 8th March asked 1100 Scottish voters about the best known Scottish opposition politician. George Galloway came out ahead of Douglas Ross, Anas Sarwar, Willie Rennie and the others. This is all the more remarkable because All for Unity has barely been mentioned in the press or on TV since it was founded. It has been as if there has been a coordinated effort to protect the established parties or rather to protect the SNP.

Holyrood has become a cosy club where everyone has a comfortable, not too difficult job and where preserving your salary and perks appears to be more important than actually getting rid of the SNP. It is this above all that Mr Galloway wants to change. If you think Nicola Sturgeon gets a hard time in Holyrood now, just wait until you see the man who took on the US Senate and won, eat Sturgeon rather than kippers for breakfast.

Mr Galloway rightly points out that the Scottish nationalists fear him the most. It is not merely because he is still a major figure in British politics, more importantly he thinks for himself and isn’t scared to voice an opinion even if it is unpopular. It is for this reason that like Tony Benn, George Galloway is liked by many who disagree with his politics. Mr Galloway believes in things. He has character and is completely unlike the clones that fill the seats in the Scottish Parliament. He is respected as someone who came from a Dundee tenement and made himself into one of the best debaters of his generation. And he’s not finished yet.

Few indeed are the Labour politicians who are still active from the time when Mr Galloway first entered Westminster. They left the field to the Scottish nationalists. But put Mr Galloway on a horse and give him a lance and he might just deal with the boil that is the SNP.

Since All for Unity began, there have been those who were negative, those who wrote off its chances, those who hoped if they ignored us, we would go away. But there is a reason we are not going away. It’s because All for Unity is needed to get people like George Galloway and Jamie Blackett and many others into the Scottish Parliament.

These people come from many different political backgrounds from the Left to the Right, but they share one idea. They are all willing to work with other parties so that Scotland has a chance of getting rid of the SNP and so we can all relax from the continual threat to our country that the Scottish independence poses.

I have seen a draft of the All for Unity manifesto and it contains some of the best ideas I have seen for making Scotland a better place to live. They are sensible ideas that can be shared by people from all political backgrounds and none. If only the other Pro UK parties had the guts to write such a document, but we are likely to get more of the same tedium that they have been producing for years.

If the Scottish Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems were going to get rid of the SNP, they would have done so already. The problem is not merely that they are unwilling to work together it’s that most of their politicians are second rate mediocrities. It’s because we need to do better that we need George Galloway and All for Unity. We can’t just keep repeating the same tactics hoping that this time they will get rid of the SNP. They won’t.

Lots of people ask me how to vote? Well the answer is simple.

In the constituency vote choose the Pro UK party that has the best chance of winning where you live.

In the list vote choose All for Unity.

SNP support has recently begun to fall. We can take advantage of this if we work together. Every vote for All for Unity will make it more likely that the best known opposition politician in Scotland, George Galloway, will be in Holyrood holding Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP to account. He will certainly do a better job than either Rennie, Ross or Sarwar.

Make sure your vote hits the target. Let Sir George of Galloway enter the lists and his lance will not kill dragons, but it might just skewer a sturgeon.