Wednesday 30 August 2023

Should the UK have unlimited migration?


Can you imagine a UK referendum with the following question?

Do you support the admission of thousands of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Africa, in accordance with the forced relocation mechanism imposed by the European bureaucracy?

Even to suggest that the British people might have been asked their opinion on migration in any of the years since 1945 is to risk being called a racist. Yet it is entirely obvious that if such a question had been asked at any time and with any variant a large majority would have said No.

The UK where such a question would never be asked is called a full democracy by the Democracy Index.

Poland which is classed as a flawed democracy is in fact asking the question that dare not speak its name in Britain. Perhaps this is the flaw in Poland’s democracy? The Polish Government thinks that it ought to ask its people about the demographic make up of Poland now and in the future and it also thinks that it can do something about it.

Sadiq Khan recently is said to have rejected a picture of a young white family as not representing real Londoners. But white people still make up 53.8% of London’s population. It must be possible that some families are still all white. But look at the direction of travel.

If you were a Londoner born in 1961 97.7%  of your fellow Londoners would be white. In 1971 the figure would be 92.6%. Even in 1991 the figure was 79.80%. But by the time the person born in 1961 reaches retirement he is already not a real Londoner. In fact, only 36.8% of Londoners are white British.

London is different from other parts of the UK, but England has reached the stage where only 81% are white and 73.5% white British so in about twenty years white English people will no doubt be told be told that they are not representative of England and not really English at all.

The other parts of the UK are further behind the trend, which is one reason why they still have nationalist movements. But these will be killed off by demographics unless they hurry. There will be not much point campaigning for Scottish independence if a typical Scottish family today ceases to be representative of Scotland.

The demographics of Poland are quite different. According to the latest census 97.6% are Poles.

It is immediately obvious too that in Poland ethnicity is treated differently to the UK. Polish is treated as an ethnicity, while British or English or Scottish is not. To suggest that a black person is not British or English would be considered racist in the UK. This is one of the reasons why Poland has so few people who would be described as ethnic minorities in Britain. Minorities in the Polish census are described as Silesian and Kashubian, German or Ukrainian. The number of people from other races in Poland is very small indeed considerably less than the 20,000 who lived in the UK in 1945.

The fundamental difference between Poland and the UK is that successive British Governments have deliberately allowed mass migration both from within Europe and from outside. There is a game played whereby politicians pretend that they want to stop migration and part of this involves appearing to be strict and stern about it. But it is obvious now that the direction of travel for the UK is quite deliberate. 

There may be good reasons for this. It may be economically beneficial to a have multicultural, multiracial, multilinguistic UK. It may be necessary due to the low birthrate in Britain and to pay for our pensions, the welfare state and the NHS.

On the other hand, Poland is catching up with the UK economically and liable to surpass it soon. I would prefer to be treated in a Polish hospital than a British one. The welfare state is not as generous in Poland, but this is one of the reasons it is overtaking us economically.

Poland is not as attractive to migrants as the UK partly because it is not as generous with benefits and partly because people speak a language made up of strange combinations of consonants. It is easier to learn to pronounce and spell “man” than its’s Polish equivalent “mezczyzna” and that is one of the easier Polish words.

There is divided opinion in Poland about migration just like in any other country. Some people would prefer Poland to be more liberal, less Catholic and more like the UK or France. There has been incredible generosity towards Ukrainian refugees despite there being historical conflicts between Ukrainians and Poles as recently as 1943-1945. But these have been forgiven and forgotten. Poland has probably taken in more refugees in recent years than any other EU country.

But there is a crucial difference. When Belarus was flying in people from the Middle East in order to send them over the Polish border, the Polish army built a fence and stopped them.

Now when the EU demands that Poland takes a quota of refugees (around 30,000) mainly from Africa and the Middle East the Polish Government asks voters in a referendum whether they want this. There will not be much the EU can do if Polish voters say No. It would not be very democratic to force Poland in those circumstances and how would the EU force it anyway?

The difference is that when the Polish Government wants to stop migration it succeeds. The UK Government doesn’t even try.

The UK left the EU in order to gain control of our borders, but still fails to control them. Poland remains in the EU and has more control over who comes to Poland than we do. There is a lesson here. We could have stayed in the EU if our Government and our judges had been willing to stand up to it. But the British Government and the British establishment never wanted to control our borders. They were playing with us when we were offered a referendum on Brexit. It didn’t matter whether we voted to leave or remain.

Is Poland racist to specifically wish to exclude illegal migrants from Africa and the Middle East? Certainly, if the UK Government did this it would be accused of racism.

But racism doesn’t exist in Poland. No one is excluded from a job because he is black. There are almost no racially motivated hate crimes in Poland. Few if any black or Asian people are called names in the street. It’s like the UK was before the Second World War. People might have given their black dogs dubious names and they might have held less than woke views about other races, but there was no one to be racist to. No one was excluded, because there was no one to exclude. No one was a victim of racism, because almost no one was from a different race. There was no need to have a Commission for Racial Equality because everyone was of the same race.

Would it have been racist if the British Government in 1945 had decided to keep the UK’s demographic make up the same as it had always been? No. We had a perfect right to limit migration in any way we chose. So, it cannot be racist for Poland to wish to do the same. It is the right of every country to decide who lives there. But some countries defend their borders and their people and others do not. Some not only try to stop mass migration. They succeed. 

Do you want a picture sixty years from now of a white family which says "Does't represent real Varsovians? 

Monday 28 August 2023

The SNP is not playing. It's taking it's ball away


The SNP has always had a problem with grief. It’s reaction to losing the referendum in 2014 was like the loss of a close relative, but it has never even after nearly ten years reached the acceptance stage. Sometimes it seems as if Scottish nationalism is still in denial.

Something changed this year. Did you notice? Scottish elections have become competitive again. The SNP is on 36% Labour is a little behind. But latest predictions are that the SNP might lose half its MPs and Labour might beat it.

To be honest I totally didn’t see this coming. So, I can understand why SNP politicians are still in denial. But why are they debating what to do if they win 50% and one vote? It’s like the whole year never happened.

The latest plan is as follows.

A mandate for Scotland to become ­independent “with immediate effect” will be ­secured if the SNP and other pro-independence parties secure 50% plus one of votes in a national election. But if the UK Government does not “meaningfully engage” with the Scottish Government over negotiations within 90 days, it says MPs will be withdrawn from Westminster and a National Assembly will take forward the establishment of Scotland as an ­independent nation.

But this is just the de facto referendum at a General Election plan that Sturgeon put forward and which was generally ridiculed. It now perhaps includes also Holyrood elections. But how can an election to a devolved parliament constitute a mandate for independence? Why not local government elections too? Can the Orkney council really vote to join Norway?

What matters in a General Election is seats won. Let’s take the example of the Rutherglen by-election. Both the SNP and the Greens are standing. If the SNP wins the seat with 10,000 votes it cannot also count the 5000 votes that went to the Greens. That would be counting both the winning votes and the losing votes. It would be counting voters twice or more times depending on how many pro-independence parties stood.

How would you count the votes that went to a candidate wishing to protect a local hospital? How would you count the votes for an officially Pro UK party where the candidate is sympathetic to independence? How indeed count votes for the Monster Raving Looney Party?

The illegitimacy of this method is that we vote don’t vote to achieve a certain percentage for a party, nor do we vote for single issues. Some people vote Scottish Green because they care about the environment. Some people vote SNP because they hope it will lead to more UK money going to Scotland.

But let’s assume the Scottish nationalists get their 50% plus one. What then? Nothing much. The SNP could withdraw all of its MPs like Sinn Féin. But no one actually notices the absence of Sinn Féin and its not clear that anyone would notice the absence of the SNP. There might be some consequences for MP salaries if they didn’t turn up to work and I’m not sure Scottish voters would be happy about it, but otherwise who cares if the SNP doesn’t send MPs to Westminster?

What does meaningfully engage with the Scottish Government mean? Sorry dear Scottish nationalists but the Scottish Government is a devolved parliament it has no mandate to negotiate independence, because constitutional matters are reserved. It is once again the equivalent of the British Government trying to negotiate with Orkney County Council.

It is assumed that the Scottish Government will be controlled by the SNP. But what if it isn’t? Does a Labour Government in Westminster negotiate with a Labour Lib Dem coalition in Holyrood about Scottish independence which neither side wants?

What is the National Assembly that is mentioned? It would be filled one assumes with all the SNP MPs who no longer worked at Westminster. Meanwhile the Conservatives Labour and Lib Dem MPs would continue their jobs in the House of Commons. It doesn’t look much like a National Assembly. Rather it looks like a Nationalist Assembly.

But what legitimacy would such an assembly have? Each of the SNP MPs would have been elected to Westminster. None would have been elected to a National Assembly. There would indeed have been no National Assembly elections at all.

It is perfectly possible for Scotland to become an independent state by a variant on one of these schemes. But they all share the following feature. They are unauthorised. The SNP is setting out a path to rebellion. Lots of countries have become independent by declaring themselves to be such. Scotland could do the same. But it isn’t necessary to have a de facto referendum at a General Election. This is an attempt to give legitimacy to the illegitimate. My guess is that a declaration of independence at Holyrood would succeed. We are not Spain.

But what the SNP does not explain is the consequences of a unilateral declaration of independence. Depending on circumstances these could be anything from relatively benign to completely devastating. The best-case scenario would be that the UK Government accepted Scottish independence and cooperated with it. The worst-case scenario would be that the UK Government immediately pulled the plug on Treasury money going to Scotland and made everyone dependent on it instantly unemployed.

So, the day after the General Election the UK Government says OK you are now independent. We will not try to stop you, but neither will we recognise you, nor will anyone else. You will have zero chance of joining the EU as the precedent of achieving independence unilaterally will prevent you joining. You now have to immediately borrow sufficient money to cover your deficit. Where are you going to borrow it? Ah London.

So, an independent Scotland might start life with a no deal Scexit. There would then be no negotiations. There would be no trade deals with the former UK nor with the EU nor with anyone else. The border might be closed. Your bank card might not work, and your bank might inform you that I’m terribly sorry, but the bank is bust, and you just lost all of your savings. Ask the Scottish Government to give it back. Oh, tough luck the Financial Services Compensation Scheme only applied when you were part of the UK. Under these circumstances the SNP MPs at their National Assembly would be lucky to escape with merely being tarred and feathered.

Oh, none of that would happen the Scottish nationalists tell us. The UK Government would be nice and give us all we want. That too is possible. Crashing the Scottish economy might have nasty consequences for not only the former UK but the western world in general. It is not a game which is why such foolishness about UDI needs to stop.

The SNP is on 36% yet debating what it will do when it wins 50%. Unless you do what we want we’ll take our ball away. This is the bargaining stage of grief.

There have been some scandals this year. There has been some embarrassment about party finances. But it could have been worse. What if it does get worse?  It might you know? Yes that.

Perhaps the SNP might fall to 20% then. Do you keep bargaining, do you keep telling us what you’ll do when you really shake them up or do you finally get to the depression stage. It’s not happening. There will be no second referendum. Scotland will always be part of the UK.

Finally does Scottish nationalism get to the acceptance stage? Some Scots dream of independence, but only under the best of circumstances, life goes on just like now or a little better, but we are independent and there are no Tories. But the number of Scots who would choose what UDI would involve is trivial.

SNP polling numbers are always inflated with fantasists who would squeal with horror if independence brought with it the least inconvenience to their holidays or their benefits. It is for this reason that SNP MPs are invariably fantasists too.

By all means take your ball away.


Friday 25 August 2023

The wise and foolish Scottish nationalists

Then shall the second independence referendum be likened unto ten Scottish nationalists, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the Alex Salmond. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them as they opposed drilling for oil: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While Alex Salmond tarried because he lost the referendum and had other difficulties, they all slumbered and slept.

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, Alex Salmond cometh like a blowout; go ye out to meet him. Then all those Scottish nationalists arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; It’s Scotland’s oil and we are not going to share it with you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while foolish nationalists were away, Alex Salmond came there was still lots of oil in the gusher; and they that were ready went in with him to the divorce: and the door was shut.

Afterward came also the foolish nationalists, saying, Alex, Alex, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I knew you not because you opened not to me and therefore remain British foolish virgins.

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Scottish independence cometh.

It is important that Christians have a sense of humour about faith. I therefore have no objection to Kate Forbes comparing a second Scottish independence referendum with the second coming of Christ. It may indeed be that the second referendum will take some more work.

But there is something quite odd about Kate Forbes and Christianity and indeed Kate Forbes and the SNP.

Let’s say she is one of the wise virgins, metaphorically rather than literally now. I don’t know whether the wee free church still believes that we are predestined to salvation and predestined to damnation. But I think it probably must because it goes with Calvinism and the rejection of good works during the Reformation.  This always struck me as making the parable of the wise and foolish virgins rather pointless as there would be nothing much you could do about whether you had enough oil in your lamp or not. You were predestined to be wise or foolish from the beginning of time. But in that case the parable is pointless.

More importantly I don’t know why she has devoted her career to the SNP and the cause of Scottish independence. The point of the parable is to be prepared for the second coming of Christ. Then why is Forbes playing around with breaking up the UK? What has that to do with preparing for the second coming? Let’s say the bridegroom arrives. What were you doing Kate? Why is your lamp empty? Oh, I was campaigning to split Scotland from England. In Christian terms it looks foolish. In what way did that further the goal of Christianity? In what way was it being ready?

Christianity has nothing whatsoever to do with politics. It is not socialism because Jesus tells us to give to the poor voluntarily. He doesn’t want to force us to do so by means of taxation or law. The New Testament provides a moral system rather than a political one. It is about helping others and helping yourself if you can “this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

It is very hard to reconcile Christianity with Scottish nationalism. How does “It’s Scotland’s oil” which is the foundation of the modern SNP fit in with Christian altruism? How does “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” fit in with turning your neighbour into a foreigner with whom you no longer wish to share formerly shared resources?

But more importantly Christianity is indifferent to this world because its focus is on the next. The expectation at the time of Christ was that the second coming would be soon. Jesus did not come to overthrow the Roman Empire as some people hoped the Messiah would. The independence or otherwise of a part of the Roman empire Judea was a matter of indifference to Christians as were other issues that concern people greatly today such as race, sexuality, transgender and slavery.

If it didn't matter to Jesus if Judea was independent how could it matter to him or Christianity if Scotland were independent. 

This is not to say that Christians like people who follow any other religion, or none cannot engage in politics. It is long since that Christians expect the second coming to be imminent. So too few Christians think only of the next world.

No one would have thought anything of it if Forbes quietly went to her wee free church every Sunday, but she makes an enormous issue of her Christianity, without explaining why a Christian should want Scottish independence. If it has nothing to do with Christianity, and its hard to see how it could have, after all there are Christians all over the world and the Bible says nothing about secession, then why go on so much about Christianity?

Worse there is something insincere about someone who tells us about her opposition to homosexual marriage and transgender and who holds various socially conservative views, who also chose to take a job in Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish Government without making her opposition to Sturgeon’s progressive views known publicly at the time.

Why didn’t Forbes vote against the Gender Recognition Certificate legislation like Ash Regan. The vote took place on 27th October 2022 and Forbes was on maternity leave having given birth on August 4th, but she could have voted remotely without leaving her own home. But that would have involved resigning so instead she did nothing.

So too many of Forbes’s views suggest that she would be happier with Alex Salmond’s Alba party. Scottish nationalism today can be divided into the woke and the unwoke. The wise and foolish virgins. Alba is happy to drill for oil. Alba is keener on business and more conservative on economics. Alba hasn’t much time for the Scottish Greens and thinks the focus should be on Scottish independence rather than progressive issues like transgender.

Forbes is happy to appear with Alex Salmond at the Fringe, but like rather a lot of SNP politicians who appear to share many views with Salmond and share few views with Humza Yousaf, she chooses to remain in the SNP.

I can understand why. Alba will win no seats at the next General Election and quite possibly no seats at the subsequent Scottish Parliament Election. It is like the elephant graveyard in Tarzan movies. If you lose your seat, you join Alba. If you are going to lose your seat you join Alba. If you are old and blame MI5, you trudge off to Alba graveyard to die amongst the bones, the ivory and the fossils.

But then how to explain Kate Forbes? She is constantly on manoeuvres rather than keeping her lamp trimmed. If the SNP loses half of its MPs next year, she may hope for another chance at being leader? Such ambition for a wise virgin concerned only about the second coming. 

But then she may be sure of being in the elect even if she is not sure of being elected or indeed of a second referendum. Were you already chosen at the beginning of time Kate? Do let us know.

But what if she did win the SNP leadership? She might bring the prodigal son Alex Salmond back into the fold. She might kill the fatted calf for him and all the other Alba misfits. Even Angus Brendan MacNeil may be forgiven his folly with the foolish virgins and his perfidy at standing against the SNP.

Perhaps she thinks there is one SNP, and one mediator between Salmond and Sturgeon, the woman Kate Forbes for how otherwise could she hold together the woke and the unwoke and a party that contained both Nicola Sturgeon (assuming she is not elsewhere) and Alex Salmond? 

For only foolish virgins would be left alone in the same room as the "bridegroom" especially if their lamps were not lit. They would not stay virgins for long. 

Wednesday 23 August 2023

The Lucy Letby case is troubling because she's so normal


I have been troubled by the Lucy Letby case. There is an extraordinary length of time between her being arrested and convicted. The trial itself lasted a very long time and the jury’s deliberations took a long time too. Clearly it was a complex case.

The evidence of her crime is mainly circumstantial. NHS managers on being presented with some of this evidence chose initially to exonerate Letby. The doctors who had complained about Letby were accused of misconduct and victimisation. But essentially this same evidence has been used to send Letby to a whole life term in prison. But if it was good enough to exonerate her, how can it also be good enough to convict her?

Complex medical evidence was presented from autopsies of the babies, but there were no witnesses to Letby’s crimes and there has been no confession. But we know from previous cases that medical evidence can be unreliable. What is left is some scraps of paper with messages that might be confessions but might not.

The jury heard all of the evidence, the rest of us have read only some of it in the newspapers. I’m left feeling that there is a ninety per cent and above chance that Letby is guilty. What other explanation is there for the death of all those babies? But in any trial, that is this complex and which takes so long there must be a slight uncertainty. If for this reason only better that there is no death penalty even when a case is horrific.

What troubles me more about the case however is not so much the guilt of Letby, but that behaviour similar to hers has become routine in the NHS.

Premature babies who are born as early as 22 weeks after gestation can survive. If Letby had killed any of these babies she would rightly have been convicted of murder. But it is routine in the NHS to kill babies in the womb right up to 24 weeks and under certain circumstances after that.

There was recently outrage at the prison sentence given to a woman who took an abortion pill when the child was 32-34 weeks after gestation. Later she was released from prison.

But then we are in the position that someone who murders a premature baby in an incubator goes to prison as a serial kill for a whole life term, but if that baby happens to be in a womb rather than an incubator it can be killed with impunity. There must be doctors who have killed hundreds of babies at 24 weeks and later, but no one suggests that they go to prison.

I am not particularly making a point about abortion. The issue in murder is whether you are killing a human being.

Killing people is murder,
Babies in the womb are people,
Therefore killing babies in the womb is murder.

We accept that premature babies are people. If not, Lucy Letby would not have been convicted of murder. But if a 22 weeks after gestation baby in an incubator is a person, how can a baby at exactly the same stage in a womb not be a person?

It may be reasonable to argue that in the first weeks after conception that it is not seriously wrong to terminate a pregnancy. You might reasonably argue that this does not involve killing a person. But you cannot both convict Lucy Letby of killing people (premature babies) when you are outraged that someone else goes to prison for killing a baby that would have been 10 to 12 weeks older.

Being in an incubator or being in a womb has no moral significance. It does not give personhood to the baby in the incubator while taking it away from the baby in the womb.

It is morally senseless to suppose that a woman can decide to kill a baby that could survive outside her womb. In that case rather than kill it why not remove it from her womb surgically and put it in an incubator?

I have no moral problem at all with women having the right to decide not to be pregnant, but the right to choose must be limited by time. It cannot involve the right to kill another human being even if that human being is in your womb. It especially cannot involve killing that human being when it could survive outside the womb. There can be no moral right to murder. There can be no choice either.

Something remarkable however happens at birth. Suddenly doctors and nurses and parents expect to go to inordinate lengths to keep alive babies who either because of being born prematurely or because of having severe disability would otherwise die.

A few weeks earlier the severely disabled baby would have been aborted without a thought, but now experimental treatments must be tried, money must be raised to send the baby to a hospital in the USA. Is the difference simply because we can now see the baby while previously it was hidden in a womb?

The key is to be born. While in the womb any baby can be killed almost for any reason and quite possibly nearly up to 9 months. Society and the law somehow think the process of being born turns us into a human being. But this is clearly nonsense. There is no difference between a premature baby and a baby at the same stage in the womb. If one is a person, then so is the other.

So, we’ve made it past birth. We then live our life. We are human beings. If someone kills us, they are liable to be convicted of murder or manslaughter. But look at what happens when we get old, we once again become foetuses. We once again cease to be human beings.

This is the other aspect of the Lucy Letby case that really troubles me. I mentioned recently that my aunt had to go into hospital with an infection. She was sitting up doing the Telegraph crossword one day, the next we were told that she had been put on the Liverpool Pathway of palliative care and would die soon. There was nothing that could be done as once started it couldn’t be stopped.

I had a huge response from people with similar experiences. I have no problem with palliative care. If I had terminal cancer, I would want to be given enough painkillers to ease the pain even if they hastened my death.

But the NHS treats elderly people quite differently to newborn babies. While it goes to inordinate lengths to keep a very premature baby with disabilities alive, it neglects the elderly, does not want to resuscitate them even if they could be saved, and will use the first sign of deterioration to end their life even when with a little effort the elderly person could live for years longer.

I wanted to call the police when my aunt died. But what would have been the point. The doctors and nurses would have all backed each other up. I resolved instead to avoid hospitals if I get to be elderly. They are like the dying room in All Quiet on the Western Front next to the mortuary. Don’t go there. If you are there get out if you can. Pray that they don't legalise euthanasia. 

But elderly people are certainly human beings. Yet they are treated as if they were foetuses and aborted. While there is reasonable debate about how long after gestation a foetus may be aborted, there is no debate at all that an elderly person is a person. So, aborting the elderly is clearly murder.

Both in Scotland and the UK generally elderly patients were sent from hospital to care homes to protect the NHS. No one thought to protect either the elderly patients or the people in the care homes that they would infect. The people who made this decision were responsible for the deaths of thousands of elderly people, but no one will be charged with manslaughter, and no one will be prosecuted.

Doctors and nurses in the NHS routinely kill human beings prior to birth who could have survived in incubators. They also routinely kill elderly people who are in the way and who cost too much to care for.

I think Lucy Letby is probably guilty of murdering babies, but she worked in hospitals where routinely doctors and nurses kill their fellow human beings and get away with it. Perhaps it is for this reason she thought she would get away with it too. It must be a temptation to play God when the NHS is so worshipped.

Monday 21 August 2023

SNP conspiracy theories always blame the English


Scottish nationalism has a number of advantages. It can tap into feelings of Scottish patriotism. It can use familiar stories from Scottish history. It can give people who are not successful in life the idea that they only have to vote for Scottish independence to gain a better job or higher benefits. But Scottish nationalism in general and the SNP in particular has a fatal flaw that continually undermines it. It must always blame someone else for its own failure.

Success in life as well as politics depends on taking responsibility for your own actions. It requires us to be honest with ourselves about our strengths and our weaknesses. This is why you should never give a child a reason to fail. If you tell him that he is failing because of prejudice, he will embrace that reason and fail. If you tell him he is failing because of illness or disability he will not need to overcome his disadvantages because he will have an excuse for his failure.

Scottish nationalism is grounded in grievance. Everything is either England’s fault, Westminster’s fault or the British state’s fault. It’s never Scottish nationalism’s fault. It’s never Scotland’s or Holyrood’s failure to persuade enough Scots to vote for Scottish independence. For this reason, it’s never honest with itself about its success and its failure.

This has become particularly clear in the past week with peripheral and aging Scottish nationalists beginning to realise that its unlikely that they will see Scottish independence in their lifetime descending into paranoia.

But it goes much further back. Conspiracy theories, grievance and blaming someone else for our own faults has become a key part of the Scottish nationalist character.

The Act of Union 1707

This is presented by Scottish nationalism as a betrayal. Such a parcel of rogues bought and sold Scotland for English gold. But in a European context this is nonsense. The merger of kingdoms was the norm. Kingdoms that merged usually merged politically too. James VI could have refused the English crown, but once he accepted it there was always a good chance that Scottish independence and English independence would be lost. It wasn’t inevitable, but why blame the English? They weren’t that keen on having a Scottish King and many weren’t that keen on merging with Scotland either.

The Clearances

These took place because of developments in agriculture. Just as in other parts of Britain agricultural labourers were displaced by enclosure and the development of technologies like the seed drill that made many workers unnecessary. Sometimes it was Scottish landowners who cleared out their tenants, sometimes it wasn’t. But the displacement of people and their moving to colonies was a European wide phenomenon. More people in England were displaced than in Scotland, moving from small villages to cities to work in factories. This was called industrialisation. But there were no “Clearances” in England, and no one is blamed for it today.

Decline of Gaelic

In the Iron Age large parts of Europe spoke Celtic languages including all of Britain and France and parts of Spain and Germany. But whether by ill fortune or some inherent character of Celtic languages, the only place where they are widely spoken today is in Wales. Mass migration from Angles, Saxons, Romans and Normans supplanted Celtic speakers. In Scotland Gaelic was undermined for economic and religious reasons and by the spread of education. But it was not English people who did this, it was Scots who saw Gaelic as an impediment to Scottish unity and the dominance of Church of Scotland Presbyterianism. It became advantageous for Gaelic speakers to learn English and so monolingual Gaelic speakers became rarer, which accelerated decline. By the twentieth century Gaelic speaking parents were choosing not to pass on the language. Whose fault was that?

Tanks in George Square

In 1919 there was fear all over Europe of Bolshevism. There were major post First World War conflicts between Greece and Turkey, the Soviet Union and Poland which involved the deaths of large numbers of people. Spanish flu killed 21 million people between 1919 and 1920. The Battle of George Square led to the death of one policeman some months later due to injuries. There were some tanks, but they were deployed on the orders of the Sherriff of Lanarkshire and they arrived after the riot was over.

The McCrone Report

It was reported to the Government in 1974 that

It must be concluded therefore that revenues and large balance of payments gains would indeed accrue to a Scottish Government in the event of independence provided that steps were taken either by carried interest or by taxation to secure the Government 'take'. Undoubtedly this would banish any anxieties the Government might have had about its budgetary position or its balance of payments.

But so what? Natural resources belong to nation states. It might equally well have been concluded that if the part of Norway that juts into the North Sea was independent it would have advantages. But that part of Norway does not own natural resources. They belong to the whole of Norway. The “It’s Scotland’s oil” argument only works if Scotland is an independent nation state, but you cannot use being an independent nation state to justify becoming one. That is obviously circular reasoning. The truth is that in 1974 there was little prospect of Scotland becoming independent. The SNP won 30% of the vote in 1974, but this had declined to 17% by 1979. Scotland was not independent when McCrone wrote his report and nor did we want to be. The report was not secret. If it had been it would not have been discovered by a freedom of information request in 2005.

Willie McRae

This SNP politician died in somewhat mysterious circumstances in 1985. Some Scottish nationalists allege that he was under MI5 surveillance and was murdered for his views. There are some oddities and unexplained issues, but why would the British state murder Willie McRae? The SNP in the 1983 General Election had 11.8% of the vote down 5.5%. It was no threat to anyone. McRae’s brother “Fergus McRae, a retired doctor, dismisses the conspiracy theories and urges acceptance of the official story.”

Secret oil fields

The problem with North Sea oil in 2014 was that it was approaching the stage where it would be unviable economically and environmentally. There may have been fields that oil companies thought worth exploring. But these weren’t secret. How do you hide the North Sea? It’s just that the companies didn’t know if they would be viable nor did anyone else. It was instead the SNP that was wildly overoptimistic about the prospects of oil in its 2013 White Paper. It turned out that oil was worth far less than Salmond predicted. But there is no conspiracy theory about that.

Writing in ink

The idea that ballot boxes full of Yes votes would be rubbed out overnight by people at the count only to be replaced with crosses in the No box is perhaps the weirdest of all the SNP conspiracy theories. We knew the result the next day. People at the counts would have had a variety of views. Some would have voted Yes. Do you really suppose that no one would have noticed this rubbing out?

The Vow

It is widely held amongst Scottish nationalists that “The Vow” cost them the referendum and that the promises made in “The Vow” were not fulfilled. I doubt that it made that much difference either way. But politicians are allowed to make last minute promises. Voters can be swayed by them or not. Anyway, the promise of “The Vow” was that the Scottish Parliament would gain new powers. The Smith Commission was set up soon afterwards and the Scottish Parliament did gain new powers. Later it gained still more.

The material change of circumstances

The SNP claimed that it had the right to a second referendum because of Brexit. But there was nothing whatsoever in either the Edinburgh Agreement or during the 2014 referendum campaign about requiring a second vote if there were a material change of circumstances. Instead, both Salmond and Sturgeon emphasised that the 2014 vote was once in a lifetime opportunity. The SNP made up the concept of the material change of circumstances then claimed it was betrayed because others disagreed.

The colony

If Scotland is a colony who are the colonisers. The English, the Pakistanis or the Poles? Westminster can’t colonise Scotland. Westminster is a building and a district of London. So, who are the colonisers? If it’s no one, then Scotland can’t be a colony. If it’s the English, why isn’t it the Pakistanis or the Poles?


Suddenly we are hearing about MI5 when support for the SNP has fallen to 36%. But why would MI5 need to be involved when a simpler explanation for the fall in SNP support is the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon, the scandal about SNP finances and the arrest of senior SNP figures on suspicion of criminal activity? To suppose that MI5 caused these senior SNP figures to behave as they did is to turn Scots into puppets pulled by English strings.

Scottish Civil Servants

We now have the accusation that Scottish civil servants can’t be trusted because they work for the British state. But these civil servants were responsible for the White Paper in 2014 and have been largely responsible for every Scottish Government briefing paper since. Are we to believe that Scottish nationalists think that civil servants deliberately produced a poor White Paper in 2013 and subsequent briefing papers that undermined the cause of Scottish independence? But if that were the case why did the SNP publish them? Instead, it has become clear that the only way to remain in the Scottish civil service is to agree with the SNP. The idea that a Pro UK person could have been Nicola Sturgeon’s chief of staff is preposterous.

As support for Scottish independence declines, we can expect these and other conspiracy theories to be used to blame not Scottish nationalism but always someone else for its failure to achieve Scottish independence. That someone else is always the English. Another word like Westminster may be used, but the meaning is the same.

But it wasn’t someone else’s fault. It was your fault. When you had a referendum in 2014 you failed by 10% to convince Scots to vote for independence. In the years since you have failed to increase support for Scottish independence at all let alone increase it to the 60% level that might lead to a British Government giving you another go. Now support for the SNP is down to 36% because you mismanaged your party. Yet you are still mucking about with wild ideas about a de facto referendum or a unilateral declaration of independence. You don’t have the support for either.  

If SNP seats fall by half at the General Election next year it won’t be a generation, you will have to wait for your independence referendum it will be your lifetime. Conspire away and blame someone else if it makes you feel better, but it will be your fault and only your fault.

Saturday 19 August 2023

We are back to the Covenanters preaching outside


It ought to be possible for a Celtic fan to go to an Old Firm Game and stand amongst the Rangers fans in his Celtic shirt while cheering every time Celtic score a goal and booing each time Rangers score. Amongst all those blue shirts it ought to be possible for a single green and white shirt to be enjoying the match without any nasty comments and without any risk of physical harm.

During the women’s world cup Australian fans bought tickets for the section allocated for England fans, but there would have been no trouble in that situation. If a Spanish fan ends up by mistake with the England fans nothing bad will happen.

But this illustrates something important about free speech. Even if I ought to be able to exercise my right to free speech it doesn’t mean there are not practical limits on free speech.

I ought in a free society to be allowed to offend. Take the example of Sweden, which now has a heightened terror alert because some people chose to burn the Quran. It ought to be possible to do this, but the consequences of doing so are that large numbers of Muslims are offended not only in Sweden but in other countries. People may be injured or killed because someone chose to exercise their right to free speech in Sweden. Is exercising your right to free speech consistent with other people being injured or dying? There may be circumstances where this is the case. But it would in most circumstances be better to refrain from such gestures.

The Quran is one of the most important books in history. Burning a copy will not make it cease to exist. It will remain an important book worthy of study even if someone dislikes its content or dislikes Islam as a faith. Muslims ought not to be so offended by someone burning a copy in far away Sweden that they are willing to injure or kill because of it, but burning a copy won’t change the fact that they are offended. In fact, it may make the situation worse.

In Britain we used to live in a society where people were imprisoned for their views on religion, lost their jobs or were forced to preach outside.

John Bunyan believed in the wrong sort of Christianity and was imprisoned for it. Both Catholics and Protestants were at various times persecuted for their beliefs during the Reformation. Presbyterian Covenanters had to preach outside when their side of the argument was losing, but when they won the argument the lesson, they learned from their persecution was to persecute Catholics and Episcopalians.

Even when we gained a measure of freedom of belief there was still in the nineteenth century and later enormous pressure to conform to the beliefs of Christianity by going to church and not living in sin. Divorce was nearly impossible to achieve because of Christianity and this applied whether you believed in it or not. I had assumed we had moved on from this. But we haven’t.

While there are and indeed must be limits on free speech, these limits have become ever narrower.

A comedian in Edinburgh has been forced like the Covenanters to preach in the streets, not because he wanted to burn a Quran, nor because he wanted to sing the Fields of Athenry in the Rangers end, but because he disagrees with the prevailing orthodoxy on gender.

Europe and the United States were different from everywhere else in the world because freedom of thought and the right to write what we pleased enabled people to think critically about orthodox opinions and to challenge them.

This finally reached a point after the 1960s where sex outside of marriage for the first time became normal and commonplace and where our behaviour was rarely controlled either by religious belief or the conformity of our parents. You could more or less write what you pleased, think what you pleased and live how you pleased. This freedom continued right up until the 1990s when as so often happens in history there was a counter reformation.

The West has returned to theocracy, not in the sense that religious belief is enforced, but in the sense that what results from the absence of religious belief is enforced.

The collapse of Christianity left a vacuum of virtue. As Chesterton wrote, when people cease to believe in God it’s not that they believe in nothing, it’s that they believe in anything.

There was no longer the possibility for much of society to feel virtuous by living a Christian life, living monogamously and going to church so instead new virtues had to be created. Initially this was called political correctness, later it evolved into woke and virtue signalling.

Peak woke has been reached when a remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves has a lead character who is not white and there are no longer seven dwarves.  There is nothing offensive about dwarves in the original story. They are not people with dwarfism. They are mythical creatures from German folklore.

But the reason to remake and renounce everything is because the new gods are equality and diversity. In the name of this we have to pretend that David Copperfield might have come from India and that in Jane Austin’s time there were large numbers of black people in the upper classes.

But the falsity of the new religion gets worse when not merely must we change history to make it equal and diverse we are also made to believe in critical race theory that tells us that only white people can be racist and that all white people have white privilege. What if I live in a country like Poland where there are almost no black people and no one for me to be racist toward? Who do I exercise my white privilege against? Who is the victim of my racism?

But if critical race theory is a strange sort of mysticism transgenderism resembles transubstantiation in the body of a man changing into the bread of a woman and the wine of her menstrual blood.

It becomes:

All bachelors are unmarried.
Socrates is a spinster.
Therefore, Socrates is a woman.

I can still write reasonably freely. But if a comedian can be forced to preach outside his church, then the same might happen to you. Perhaps not now, but what about tomorrow.

People in their twenties who have gone to university believe in the new religion almost universally and almost without question. In twenty to thirty years, they will be in charge.

I can if I am careful still just about question everything, but it’s getting harder. If I met a young person who believed in transgenderism, I would keep silent rather than discuss it. If I met someone who thinks everything needs to be decolonised and that it is racist to try to limit immigration at all, I would keep silent. If I met someone who believed in critical race theory, I would not argue against it. This is the new conformity.

Like Wilkie Collins I might be able to get away with living in sin and writing novels that subvert Victorian convention, but there are limits on free speech today just like there were when he was writing. He could not live as he wanted openly. Nor can we. In certain jobs and in certain company we are as restrained and constrained as if we lived when Collins did. Try speaking openly if you doubt me.

The best writing needs to not have to worry about someone looking over your shoulder waiting to cancel you. Self-censorship is worse than overt censorship because it cuts deeper.

We ought not to gratuitously offend, nor should our actions lead to harm for others, but the new theocracy is offended by what used to be called common sense. Must I write nonsense not to offend? Must writers hide their lives like George Eliot did?

The danger of making a comedian perform on the street because he offends is that it takes us back to the Covenanters. It brings us closer to a society like Iran where offending against religious beliefs will get you killed or maimed. It puts us back to witch hunts and it took us three hundred years from there to get to freedom only to lose it again in three decades.


Thursday 17 August 2023

Is Nicola Sturgeon an MI5 agent?


There was a very peculiar story in the Times yesterday that it would be easy to dismiss as the work of a crank about the SNP leadership being taken over by MI5. It would be easy to simply dismiss it. Except it tells us something about the nature both of the SNP and Scotland in a way that is enlightening and important, but not in the way those involved intend.

I had never heard of Campbell Martin a former SNP MSP who now aged 63 worries that he will never see Scottish independence.

Mr Martin begins.

“The SNP is completely compromised,” he wrote on a pro-independence website this week. “It has been captured and controlled by the British state. The difference between those early days of the Scottish parliament and today, is that the British state assets in the SNP have, over the intervening years, risen through the ranks and now hold senior positions that have allowed them to influence party policies and direction, such as adopting a lack of urgency in delivering independence.”

Now Mr Martin worked as an MSP between 2003 and 2007 so what are the early days and who has risen through the ranks? Well, it is fairly clear that there was no lack of urgency in the SNP leadership about independence from 2011 until 2014. Instead, Alex Salmond was able to deliver a legal referendum on independence that took place in 2014. So, Mr Martin cannot mean Alex Salmond who became SNP leader in 2004.

When can this alleged lack of urgency have occurred? Well on a number of occasions having become leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon asked the UK Government for permission to hold a second referendum. She asked Theresa May, and she asked Boris Johnson. She even held various votes in Holyrood on the issue and asked the Supreme Court whether Holyrood could legislate for a second referendum on its own. She continually campaigned for independence and talked about it all the time. On the surface then there was no lack of urgency.

Mr Martin continues.

“You have to hand it to the British state, it has played a blinder: today’s SNP is so corrupted by British agents that it has sidelined independence and embraced gender policies that make the party unelectable.”

It becomes immediately clear who he means by people who have risen through the ranks, but the problem is that almost everyone in the SNP leadership has embraced gender policies and risen through the ranks. There have been a few dissidents, but their dissent has meant they have been pushed to the margins or into the embrace of Alex Salmond and Alba.

Nicola Sturgeon was the first to fully embrace gender policies. She was the driving force behind the attempt to make it easier for people to obtain a gender recognition certificate without a medical diagnosis. But so too were her colleagues in the Scottish Greens. So too was Humza Yousaf. Are we to assume that they are all MI5 agents?

A few people in the SNP were critical of gender policies. Kate Forbes has a more traditional view of these matters. But in the recent leadership contest her challenge was defeated. SNP members chose Humza Yousaf. Are we to assume that over half of the SNP membership are MI5 agents too?

What’s more at various elections the SNP and the Scottish Greens have made clear their views on gender. Nicola Sturgeon, Humza Yousaf and all of the other alleged MI5 agents have successfully stood for election. We must assume that the Scottish electorate therefore is either ignorant of these people being MI5 agents or that the voters are MI5 agents too.

But it’s not only Mr Martin who thinks that the leadership of the SNP is full of MI5 agents.

However, other senior SNP figures have told The Times they believe that MI5 has a longstanding policy of using agents to penetrate and monitor the independence movement.

One of those is Jim Sillars.

“When I joined in 1980, Dr Robert McIntyre [the party’s then president and first MP] took to me one side and said: ‘Do you realise we will all be penetrated’,” he said.

Sillars worried that he might be considered to be one of the penetrators given his background with the Labour Party.

Sillars said he and his late wife, Margo MacDonald, the former SNP MP and independent MSP, “just accepted” that some supposed comrades were double agents. “There were a couple of people in the party who I was absolutely certain were MI5 plants,” he said. “There is nothing we can do about it.

But there was something that true Scottish nationalists could have done about it. They could have told the electorate that such and such an MP or MSP was an MI5 agent. The SNP could have kicked the MI5 agent out.

This is what is so odd about what Martin, Sillars and unnamed senior SNP sources are telling us. They are saying both everything and nothing. Why doesn’t Sillars tell us about the MI5 agents he and his wife knew about? If Martin thinks Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf have been turned to the dark side, why doesn’t he say it? Of course, in that case he might need evidence, but if he doesn’t have evidence why say it at all?

Scotland becomes curiouser and curiouser. Let’s imagine that it is true that MI5 sleeper cells have been planted in the SNP only to grow up to be the leadership, what would that tell us about recent events?

Well, it would mean that the recent scandals embracing the SNP, the investigation into the SNP’s finances, the campervan, the burner phones the Amazon account, and the fridge were all the work of MI5.

It would mean that Nicola Sturgeon had no intention of achieving Scottish independence even though she gave the distinct impression of campaigning vigorously for it in 2014. It would mean that every time she asked for permission to hold a second referendum she whispered to the Prime Minister, but please don’t give it.

I have absolutely no idea about the security services. I also have no idea about the inner workings of the SNP. It may be that MI5 and the British state views the SNP as the greatest threat to its existence. No other organisation can destroy the UK with a vote. But in that case, everything we have been told about both the UK and the SNP is fiction.

If MI5 is controlling the SNP, then it is clear that the British state has no intention of allowing Scottish independence, while at the same time the British state pretended that Scotland could have a legal vote to leave. But that would make the SNP pointless as a political party as the only route to independence would be rebellion.

So too if it turned out that Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon and who knows how many others were in fact MI5 agents none of us would have any idea whatsoever about what has really happened politically in Scotland during the past decade. Every fact we might think we knew could be false.

But we already know next to nothing about the SNP. The events since Sturgeon’s resignation are baffling. How could it be that the most famous politician in Scotland could be arrested? But where would we find truth if it turned out that the whole of Scottish politics was a game and that no one was who we thought they were?

The reality is more straightforward. The UK Government got the fright of its life in 2014 and has now gradually moved away from the position that the UK is a sort of confederation made up of nations that can leave whenever they want like Brexit. It is a unitary nation state with regions that happen to be called countries, because they once were independent. The Supreme Court told us that there is no democratic right to secession under this circumstance and the UK Government will enforce this ruling.

There is therefore no need to penetrate. That would be to use a blunt instrument when a subtler one is required. It is not MI5 that prevented Sturgeon from making progress on independence and there is no need to suppose that she was not at least initially trying. Rather the SNP now has no legal route to its goal.

The decline in support for the SNP has nothing to do with gender, which is a peripheral issue to Scottish voters. It is partly the result of Sturgeon’s resignation. It is partly the result of Humza Yousaf not being an especially good leader. It is partly the result of scandal. But it is mostly the realisation that with SNP supporters that you won’t see independence in your lifetime. In that case you can either develop conspiracy theories, lose your reason, or else vote Labour.

As the prospects of independence recede and as certain Scottish nationalists get older, expect more and more of them to lose their reason. Rage. Rage against the dying of the light.

Is Sturgeon an MI5 agent? I have no idea, but there is usually a simpler explanation for all conspiracy theories.