Thursday 28 April 2022

Making a Nicola's ear of it


It is frequently difficult to measure the extent of SNP failure. Every year figures are released that demonstrate that Scotland is poorer than England and that we depend on a subsidy, but few SNP supporters either pay attention or believe the figures. Economic data is boring and difficult to understand. The SNP succeeds in questioning the truth of its own figures and anyway blames Tories for its own failure.

So too Nicola Sturgeon somehow had a good pandemic despite being responsible for neither of the things that made a difference, furlough and the vaccine. Her daily announcements about how Scotland dealt with Covid better than the wicked Tories saved few if any Scottish lives. Her divergence on masks on lockdown and all the other minutiae that we have since dispensed with made no obvious difference to health outcomes in Scotland, but they did make a political difference. Scotland was different. That was the point.

Health data is complex and hard to understand so Scottish nationalists can safely ignore that we did no better than other parts of the UK and in some respects did worse. They can maintain the illusion that Scotland is run well even when it isn’t.

But a simple figure ably illustrates how Scotland is mismanaged. The census in itself is not something we usually pay much attention to. Every ten years we fill it in and then forget about it. The information is important for running the country. This is why £138 million was spent on collecting the data in Scotland. But unfortunately, the survey has been botched. Whereas in the other parts of the UK 97% of households responded in Scotland that figure is 74%.

The last census was in 2011 and elsewhere in the UK it took place in 2021, but SNP Scotland had to be different. Just as “Test and Trace” had to be pointlessly renamed “Test and Protect” in Scotland, just as every time the UK Government made a TV announcement about Covid policy we were told that it didn’t apply to viewers in Scotland, just as we were supposed to remember what FACTS stood for, but never quite did, so too the SNP’s decision to be different about the census merely led to confusion and fewer households taking part.

We are all obliged to fill in the census form and it is a very good idea to do so, but clearly more people are going to do so if the form is as easy to fill in as possible. But along with lots of sensible and important questions, we were also met with questions that were irrelevant to the vast majority of ordinary Scots. Who knows how many people quit the survey on being asked about their gender? Some questions or the available answers pointed to SNP political goals.

A survey with no obvious political bias asking only the most necessary questions might have had a higher response rate, but the biggest reason for the difference in response rates to the rest of Britain is the SNP’s decision to go it alone in having the survey 11 years after the last one rather than 10.

Why couldn’t we have had the census last year like everyone else. The SNP blamed Covid. But it is hard to think of an activity less likely to spread an infectious disease than sitting at a computer filling in an online form. Filling in the census did not lead to an increase in Covid anywhere else and it wouldn’t have done so here.

The SNP’s reason for delay was completely spurious and it has resulted in a census with such a low response rate that it will turn out to be useless and a waste of the £138 million spent on it. 700,000 Scots have failed to respond. They could all in theory be fined £1000, but almost no one will be fined so there won’t be an awful lot the SNP can do to get those who filed the census letter in the bin to do the form now.

The SNP is quite good at throwing away the odd hundred million quid, whether it is on a shipyard that can’t build ships or a hospital that gets delayed or on some other initiative that fails to improve Scotland. The failure of the census will have lasting consequences for those responsible for determining how many schools we need and how many GPs. It matters. Mistakes will be made in the years ahead that otherwise would not have been made. The result is that Scotland will fall that little bit further behind the other parts of the UK where the task of counting heads was managed in a way that we could not.

But perhaps more importantly the difference in response rates is so obvious that it will be hard for the most determined Scottish nationalist to not realise that the SNP has made a Nicola’s ear of the census. How do you blame Tories for the 700,000 Scots who could not be bothered to fill in the form? If you can’t blame Tories you end up having to blame the SNP. Who else is there? Who else is responsible for running Scotland?

This issue will change few if any votes in Scotland. I have given up writing about SNP scandals, because there are too many, it becomes dull to list them and because SNP voters don’t care. They would vote for the nationalist whether he had parties during lockdown, lied about it, watched porn in Holyrood and was called Prince Andrew.

The SNP will win the council elections. They will certainly win most seats in Scotland at the next General Election. Our time span for getting rid of them is geological. Drip, drip, drip. A droplet of water falls from the roof of the cave we are living in. Shipyards drip. Salmond scandal drip. Census drip. With each droplet the SNP is further away from its goal of independence. One by one the evidence of SNP mismanagement becomes visible like a stalactite that formed from drops that at the time appeared to do nothing.

Support for independence is falling. If it could only fall another few percentage points, then it would no longer be the only issue that defines Scottish politics. At that point we would vote on who runs Scotland best rather than who wants Scotland to leave the UK.  The SNP would lose that contest.

An inability to determine accurately the population of Scotland gives a good explanation of why the SNP wastes so much public money. A failure to learn how to count.


Saturday 23 April 2022

Who do I vote for to get one bin emptied weekly?


There is a tower near where I live. It was built in honour of some now forgotten landowner. The tower itself is almost forgotten and must attract few if any visitors. Yet when I turned up for the first time in many years, I discovered that it was locked by a chain and padlock. At the beginning of the pandemic, I imagine someone in the local council decided that it was unsafe to allow people to climb the tower as they might catch Covid from the steps. Now the chain itself has been forgotten. Who do I vote for in the local council elections so that when I go there again in ten years’ time, I will be able to get a view?

Every now and again I fill my car with clippings from the garden and take it to the skip. Before I learned the word “Covid” it was a matter of simply driving there. But my local council decided that it was unsafe to allow people just to turn up and so it became necessary to go online and book a time slot. Sometimes there was a man sitting in a little hut checking number plates sometimes there wasn’t. There are all sorts of officious rules about where rubbish must be put and what must not be included in that rubbish. Who do I vote for to get the local skip back to how it was?

My experience of what the local council does is mainly connected with bins. We have three bins. One wheelie bin for paper and another for general waste and a little one for food waste. Oddly glass bottles and jars are not recycled. We are supposed to drive to the bottle bank on the grounds that this will save energy. Who do I vote for so that all of my rubbish goes into one bin so that the council can then sort it themselves?

It isn’t that I think that what the council does is unimportant. It’s important to me that I pay a fairly large amount to fund these activities. But I have concluded that I will have to pay more or less the same amount no matter who I vote for. I have also concluded that the local services available to me will be more or less the same too.

I would like to have more faith in the efficiency of the council except I can’t help failing to notice the man in the yellow hi viz clothing whose life involves picking up cigarette butts one by one with a long pair of tongs. He can be seen every day in whatever weather performing this task. Perhaps he will one day have a tower built in his memory noting his long service to the community.

The men responsible for digging up the roads have minimal concern for the disruption they cause. I would vote for a party that made them do what they do at night. Everything is done as slowly as possible with as many breaks involving sitting in the cabs of their council vehicles. But the people you have to phone when you need something are usually sitting in their cabs too.

I emailed my fully competed form only to be told that I hadn’t sent it. On sending it again it must have been lost as I never heard from that section of the council again. It’s an excellent way of reducing costs.

The people I contact are usually quite pleasant, but they have jobs that are not judged by performance and which they cannot lose unless they fail to go on the latest woke awareness course. But who do I vote for in order to get a council that actually performs just a little better than it does now?

The council funds education, but what the children learn has nothing to do with the council. The council doesn’t decide who teaches the children nor how well they do it. So, it matters not one little bit who I vote for in the local elections the schools will remain the same.   

Most of us would not want to end up in a council old people’s home and will do our best to keep our relatives out of one, but there is no one I can vote for to make social care more inviting.

Local elections matter in Scotland only insofar as they reflect our opinions on national issues. Some people will vote for independence as if that will make a difference to local services. They will be encouraged to vote SNP to show that Scotland disapproves of Boris Johnson having parties in Downing Street as if that issue will change local services. Pro UK people will vote on the usual lines, but almost no one will vote for a specific local politician or a specific local policy. We will nearly all vote according to how we would vote in a General Election.

It should be the easiest thing of all to change issues at a local level. It is only necessary to get the support of a small section of the community to make a political difference locally. But this would only work if there were a genuine choice between the candidates offering different solutions and different funding models.

We are at fault. I have no idea who runs the council. I could not name a single candidate or how they differ on a local issue. I know that this one supports independence and that one doesn’t, but this will not change how the schools are run or how often the bins are emptied.

It should be easy to change where we each live, but local councillors are more anonymous than any MP in London and the local council is a tiresome bureaucracy that we avoid dealing with if at all possible. I would phone it up to unlock my tower, but I would have to fill in forms that would then be lost. It is easier to wait for the chain the rust.

Yes of course we should all vote in the local elections, they might even matter nationally, but don’t expect them to change anything locally. In that sense they are not local elections at all.

Who do I vote for to get one bin emptied weekly?

Tuesday 19 April 2022

She is also a hypocrite about Rwanda


Any measure that could conceivably be made to limit illegal immigration would be condemned by various people on the Left as Godless or evil. Sending migrants to Rwanda has Ian Blackford, Nicola Sturgeon and various Scottish nationalist commentators tutting about wicked Tories showing once more why virtuous Scotland has to leave the UK. But so too would doing anything else. It might be that the British Government could try to make the UK less attractive by changing the benefit and health care systems so that they were only available to citizens, but this would equally be condemned as unchristian and contrary to the ideals of welcoming Scotland.

Without admitting it therefore it becomes clear that the Left favours unlimited immigration. If every method of trying to limit it is condemned as evil and Tory, we must conclude that Labour and the SNP want no practical limits whatsoever.

I think it is for this reason that certain people on the Left were so furious about Brexit. They see the EU as about abolishing borders. If Europe can get rid of nation states and create a common European citizenship then that would be a step on the path to the ultimate goal of creating a world without borders, where everyone could live where they pleased. There would no longer be countries but equal human beings living in peace, harmony and equality.

But there is clearly a problem for the SNP if it has an ideal of a borderless world because it is obviously incompatible with its ideal of independence.

Scottish nationalism requires Scotland both to be already a country and for the people of this nation to wish to form a state. But this only makes sense if Scotland has boundaries and if its people form a coherent group that is distinct from other people. But neither of these ideas make sense if the ideal is also to gradually move towards a world without borders in which migration can take place without limit.

The people who used to live in Aberdeen at one point probably spoke a language similar to Welsh. We know this because of the prefix “Aber” which is found in Welsh place names like Aberystwyth. There is no longer a Welsh speaking population in Aberdeenshire because of immigration. First people came here from Ireland who spoke Irish, then people came from Scandinavia and Germany who spoke Anglo-Saxon. The people who lived in what the Romans called Caledonia no longer exist. They were absorbed by the migrants.

Such absorptions have happened on countless occasions in history. Whoever lived in Scotland prior to the arrival of the Celts was also absorbed or supplanted. Likewise, no one in France speaks like Asterix the Gaul anymore because there is no Gaul and there are few if any speakers of the language of Manhattan prior to its being sold to the immigrants who arrived there without limit.

Scotland is relatively sparsely populated. If we had a population density similar to England, we would have a massively larger population. Let’s imagine that Scotland’s population doubled. The SNP could encourage migrants not merely from other parts of the UK but also from the EU. It could say to those who are now arriving in rubber dinghies that there was no need to risk drowning as there was a welcome in Scotland waiting just for them.

But the result of an open borders policy which doubled or trebled Scotland’s population would mean that the population of Scotland would be as supplanted as the Picts were.

If five million English people arrived in Scotland encouraged by SNP generosity, it is unlikely that they would vote for Scottish independence and they would probably continue to support England at football. They might not even feel Scottish at all. After all Scots living in England don’t usually think of themselves as English.

But even if the SNP were able to prevent English immigrants from arriving in Scotland it is unclear that an open borders policy would lead to these “new Scots” feeling Scottish or having any affinity with the languages or culture of Scotland. After all the migrants to what is now the United States rarely chose to learn the languages of the Native Americans nor did they know much about Native American culture.

In fact, the whole concept of Scottish nationalism depends on limiting migration, otherwise you rapidly lose a Scotland to be nationalistic about. After all, when Vikings migrants came to Scotland, they identified with whichever part of Scandinavia they came from previously and were more intent on conquering than learning either Pictish or Gaelic.

A world without borders with equal citizenship and free movement would rapidly destroy the concept of the nation state. A country is not about territory, it is about the people who live there. After all, when Poles moved into what had prior to 1939 been Germany, they created Poland rather than retained Germany. Scotland only exists when the overwhelming majority of the people see themselves as forming a coherent group united by culture, language and history. Without that there is neither Scotland nor Scottish nationalism.

For it to make sense for Nicola Sturgeon to support Scottish independence she has to be in favour of limiting immigration. She has to be in favour of borders. But she cannot do this if she at the same time opposes all and every attempt to limit migration. She cannot both want open borders and Scottish independence because a Scotland which let everyone in would rapidly not be Scotland at all.

Few immigrants live in Scotland, which makes it easy for us to welcome those who never come. But the alternative to limiting migration is for it to be unlimited. This is what the Left and the SNP wants without admitting it.

The SNP’s open borders unlimited migration ideal is contradicted by its wish to create an international border where none has existed for more than 300 years, but it also depends on the idea that Scotland can be virtuous about immigration because they won’t come here anyway. It is this and this alone that allows us to resolve the contradiction of being both nationalists and internationalists.

But Scottish nationalists are overwhelmingly white and native to Scotland and would rapidly resent open borders if the demographics of Scotland were radically changed by unlimited migration. It is this above all which makes Scottish nationalist criticism of sending migrants to Rwanda so hypocritical.

Tuesday 12 April 2022

The Scottish revolutionaries


When revolutionaries stormed the Bastille on 14th July 1789, they famously only found seven prisoners, four forgers, an assassin a pervert and a lunatic. When those same revolutionaries gathered in Dunfermline, they only found Douglas Chapman SNP MP, Robin McAlpine and Alex Salmond.

Our secessionist friends have reached the desperate stage. Their small gathering was little noticed even in Dunfermline. The number of spectators hardly exceeded the number of prisoners, McAlpine fell asleep, Chapman plotted to leave the SNP for Alba and then didn’t, while Salmond entertained the crowd with a game of footsie worthy of Jim Baxter. Fortunately, the game of handsie was reserved for the drive home.

Our gallant conspirators propose that there needs to be a Plan B. They are indeed as much imprisoned by Plan B that whatever alternative they come up with is called Plan B and the Plan B they describe repeats on us like a Haggis that has been left too long after Burns Day.

Plan A is that the Scottish Parliament passes a resolution to hold an independence referendum, Nicola Sturgeon goes to London to ask Boris Johnson for permission and he says you can have your referendum when you want one. The Scottish Government tells us that the Parliament vote will happen soon and the referendum will happen next year, but rather fewer Scots than prisoners of the Bastille believe this. The problem is that still fewer believe that Plan B will happen.

Plan B as described by Salmond and friends is that at the next General Election secessionist candidates should stand on a manifesto stating that if they won a majority, it would trigger a path to independence. Let’s look at how this might work.

A General Election elects MPs to the UK Parliament. Simple arithmetic tells us that in order to have a majority in that parliament you need 326 seats. But Scotland elects only 59 MPs so even if all of them were in favour of secession it would not give them a majority in Westminster.

It must be that Salmond thinks that it would be necessary only to have a majority of Scottish MPs. This means that he thinks that Scotland can leave the UK if 30 Scottish MPs win seats on a secession manifesto. Well, the SNP won 45 seats in 2019 with a 45% of the vote. It would be able to win 30 seats with considerably less. Salmond and friends therefore appear to think that Scotland could leave the UK if a mere third of voters pick independence supporting candidates. On this version of democracy, you get what you want even when two thirds oppose you.

Salmond is assuming what he is trying to prove.  He treats Scotland as if it were already independent and tots up the number of MPs needed to make it independent. But even if all 59 MPs voted to annex Berwick it wouldn’t give them a legal right to do so, nor could those 59 MPs decide to declare war on the Faeroe Islands or join the EU. 59 Scottish MPs do not an independent country make, they have no more rights than 59 MPs from the East Midlands.

If Scotland wants to leave the UK legally there is only one way for this to be achieved. A majority of MPs at Westminster have to vote for it. We discovered after the EU referendum in 2016 that even a referendum does not mean that a policy voted for need happen. Westminster MPs could say No despite the Leave result. It was only a majority of MPs after the General Election in 2019 that made leaving possible.

If Westminster could theoretically ignore the result of the 2016 EU referendum, it could certainly ignore 30 secessionist MPs or even the result of an independence referendum. The SNP and independence supporters in general could hardly complain because they were part of the campaign to ignore the Leave vote. They campaigned for a “people’s vote”, so if ever they won either a General Election or an independence referendum Westminster could either ignore or argue for a “people’s vote” in Scotland. In fact, logically you could continue to argue for “people’s votes” until you got the result you wanted.

It is of course possible for Scotland to leave the UK without a legal referendum. The United States merely declared independence. There was no referendum beforehand. Scottish MPs elected on a secession manifesto might gather in Dunfermline and declare that Scotland has left the UK. But declaring something and that something being true are quite different things. This is the issue that Lorna Slater fails to grasp.

If there were huge support for Scottish independence then Plan B might have a chance of success. If 70% of the Scottish electorate voted for independence it would probably happen, not least because the UK Government would have no desire to hold on to territory under those circumstances. But if that were the case there would be no need for Plan B, Scotland would get a second referendum and the result would be respected.

But most Scots don’t want an independence referendum next year, nor indeed any time soon. We have better things to be concerned about including the cost of living, the war in Ukraine and the aftermath of Covid.

If most Scots don’t want a legal referendum next year with the result respected by both sides and independence if it were to happen taking place with cooperation and good will, then it is preposterous to suppose that there is anything close to a majority for independence to happen without the UK Government’s consent.

Politicians in Scotland either in Holyrood or in a small room in Dunfermline could simply declare independence. Lots of countries have begun in this way. But it would be to leave without cooperation and Scotland couldn’t expect to get much help either from the former UK or other countries scared of their own secession movements. That’s what Plan B amounts to, no matter the variant.

For Salmond and other desperate independence supporters Scotland is a prison trapped inside the UK. He has spent his whole life tunnelling out. He thought he was nearly there in 2014, but found that he had reached a dead end. Since then, his reputation has collapsed and has collapsed still further by his taking money from Russia.

But Salmond is a prisoner in a different sense. His obsession with independence has consumed him and made every other goal subordinate. It traps him to the extent that he can think of nothing else. Sturgeon is the same. Her government can achieve nothing because it is imprisoned by every year needing to pretend that next year, we will be free.

If Scotland had a leader like George Washington, we might just be able to declare independence unilaterally, but Salmond’s delusion is to suppose that he is even the Salmond of 2014, while Sturgeon spends her life pretending something will happen which she knows will not. Such leaders are indeed imprisoned with each other not least because the moment has passed for each of them. They are left merely with dull bare walls to stare at and the sounds of a storm that passed over some time ago.

Tuesday 5 April 2022

Would she tell the truth if it cost her votes?


What happened in Bucha? The vast majority of us have no doubt that atrocities were committed. The pictures, films and reports are convincing. We still basically trust the western media to tell the truth. Yet the Russians deny they have done anything wrong. This is a problem, not because it will convince the majority of us that the Russian forces are innocent, but because it will leave room for doubt with a small minority here who are already sympathetic to the Russian cause and more importantly it will allow the Russian population to avoid confronting the reality of what happened.

There is a long history of this. In Katyn Forest near Smolensk in 1940 the Soviet Union murdered over twenty thousand Polish soldiers and spent the next fifty years denying that it had done so. The Soviets blamed the Nazis and initially the Allies believed this story, but it was false. The power of the lie is such that even when the crime was admitted it didn’t become particularly widely known in Russia. So too it is not widely known or admitted that Soviet troops raped huge numbers of German women or that they drove out German women and children from what is now Poland and Russia at the point of a bayonet.

After the Second World War there were war crimes trials, but only German and Japanese people were tried. There were no trials of Soviet leaders, nor indeed of British and American leaders who had authorised the bombing of civilians. Few in Britain and America think of Hamburg or Hiroshima as crimes. We denied that they were at the time. Perhaps we were right. But it was never tested in a court, because we only tried those we defeated.

The denial by Russia that its troops committed atrocities is part of a long history of denial in which people do not accept that they did wrong even when they clearly did. We chose to prosecute only the worst Nazi offenders and left the vast majority of soldiers to live ordinary lives in which they pretended to be blameless. The Germans came up with a myth that it was the SS who committed war crimes and it was the Nazis rather than the German people who were responsible for mass murder. This was completely false, but German society could not have functioned in the years after 1945 if we had punished everyone who was guilty. At least the Germans were more honest than either the Japanese or the Soviets about the mass murder committed by ordinary people.

There is a tendency even today in Russia to emphasise the successes of the Soviet Union, defeating the Nazis in particular, rather than be truly honest about the horrors of the Gulag and the people who committed mass murder. So too in the West we tend to excuse and minimise the atrocities in the Soviet Union in a way that would be completely unacceptable were we to minimise or excuse the Holocaust. Being a communist is still acceptable in a way that being a fascist is not.

But truth is objective and there is a fact of the matter. Truth is different from opinion. Only by recognising this can we report what happened in Bucha and convince others that it really did happen. Only by being fiercely honest and by telling the truth no matter what and by doing this always can we be trusted.

But this is our problem. The West has lost sight of truth and our politics has become full of propaganda. We may not be such liars as the Russians when they claim that the corpses in Bucha were planted there, but neither are we as honest and fearless in telling the truth as we ought to be.

The Left in the West has tried desperately to substitute opinion for fact. A prime example of this is the idea that being a man or a woman is not a matter of objective fact based on our bodies, but a matter of opinion based on our desires.

Take two people with male bodies. One says he is a man, the other that she is a woman. What once was a fact has become an opinion. But if we cannot even determine whether someone is a man or a woman, which previously was the most straightforward matter of fact, how are we to determine who killed people in Bucha?

To arrive at truth, it is necessary to have an absolute right to free speech. If in the Soviet Union I had been allowed to speak freely about Katyn, or Gulags or the crimes committed by the NKVD then it might have been possible for Russians to arrive at the truth. When free speech is limited by society it is harder to arrive at the truth.

But in the West people are frequently condemned for speaking freely or holding an opinion that is unfashionable. On certain topics such as race, sexuality, transgender and homosexuality the only opinions allowed are the woke ones. Failure to conform may lead to being banned from Twitter or Facebook or sometimes even being kicked out of a university course or losing one’s job. But how can we arrive at truth if statements which may well be the truth are banned? Only by allowing everyone to speak freely and to discuss and argue about anything and everything can we expect to be able to get to the truth. But it is just this that most universities fail to allow. Try disagreeing with feminism on your women’s studies course.

In Scotland I may commit a criminal offence for saying something I believe to be true if someone else finds that statement hateful. Worse than this we have moved away from there being a shared truth about politics where we differ only in opinions to there being a truth that is believed by independence supporters and a truth believed by the rest of us.

Every year the Scottish Government publishes economic figures (GERS) and every year there is a dispute about their truth. Politics ought to be about opinions. What do we do to deal with our shared facts? But we have lost touch with the facts because each side is concerned more about spin.

Politicians who tell lies about GERS or shipyards are morally no better than Sergei Lavrov when he denies the undeniable. By refusing to admit that Scotland depends on money from the UK Treasury and by failing to be honest about the true cost of independence, the SNP like many other politicians in the western world contribute to the concept of truth being undermined. In a small way it helps those who deny atrocities.

We still largely trust the BBC and other western media organisations to tell the truth at least about international affairs. But at the same time many recognise that there is a liberal/left bias in how the BBC reports. This bias that can also be seen more generally in the media and social media makes both less trustworthy, makes them more like the Soviet Union where only one opinion was allowed. But it is just this that contributes to some people in the West failing to believe that there were atrocities in Bucha.

Only when our politicians of all parties and our media decide to tell the truth even when they really don’t want to, will we once more be able to know that we are not being deceived by those who would manipulate us. Labour, the Conservatives, the SNP and the BBC should have shared facts and the debate should be about our opinions of these facts and what to do about them. We can only defeat Russian lies if we are brutally honest with ourselves.

I don’t trust Nicola Sturgeon to tell the truth if it would cost her votes, which makes her no better than Putin.