Tuesday 28 May 2024

Are we there yet?


I have not been following the election campaign closely. This is partly because I no longer watch television. You should try it. Like giving up sugar in tea after a while you no longer miss it. But mainly it is hard to get interested in a contest that is over before it starts. Also, I have more important things to do.

At the beginning of May I returned to my house after more than a year’s absence. Everything was new except there was no furniture, just a mattress on the floor, a desk and a chair. Some furniture has arrived back from storage since then and everything else is in boxes. Some things work other things don’t and it all has to be assessed and a spreadsheet sent to the insurance company.

The moral of the story is that the personal is always more important than the political. Our lives are changed most by the education we obtain, the job we do, the people we meet and the events that happen in our lives. Our lives are changed least by the actions or the inactions of politicians.

If a Labour supporter loses his job or gets divorced or has a serious illness this will change him far more than anything Keir Starmer might do. A Scottish independence supporter’s life would be changed far less by independence than by his house being flooded.

It does not mean that politics is unimportant. It is right for us to care about issues of political importance and sometimes politicians can bring about major change, but it is worth putting the result of the election in some sort of perspective. Whatever disasters happen because of a Labour government, they will be nothing compared to a family member dying or a diagnosis of a serious illness.

Even the big issue of bringing back national service would be trivial for most people and the issue is still more trivial because it is not going to happen because there is not going to be a Conservative government.

It makes sense to spend more on the armed forces because for the past decades we have spent too little. It would be better by far however if the armed forces were given the funding to pay for 30,000 long term recruits rather than having eighteen-year-olds for a year.

National service almost caused me not to exist as my father chose to fight in Malaya rather paint coal white during his national service. It was a nasty little war and at various points he almost did not survive.

This is another lesson. Our armed forces must focus primarily on defending Britain. From the 1940s to the 1960s we fought in Singapore, Malaya, Burma, India and Kenya, but lost them all anyway. What was the point of fighting in places where soon we would depart?

So too what was the point of fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria? The only danger to Britain from any of these places comes from the people from these countries moving to Britain. If there was no one from the whole of the Middle East in Britain we could safely ignore all of the issues that concern them and all of the wars that involve them. We could focus instead on defending Britain. But what is the point of increasing the armed forces if we cannot defend our own borders from the people who threaten us?

Forcing young people to perform some sort of community service is not especially onerous as it would involve a mere 24 days. It might even turn out to be good fun and give eighteen-year-olds the opportunity to meet members of the opposite sex while making friends generally.

But I would not like to be forced to do this now and I would not like to have been forced to do it when I was eighteen. It all rather too closely resembles that alternative to a prison sentence of having to wear a yellow bib while clearing the weeds or picking up the litter.

The problem as always in Britain is that everything must be done by everybody lest it be called unequal. But if a young person leaves school and has a job it makes no sense that he has to give up one weekend a month when he is already paying taxes. If a young person is studying or in training, it likewise makes no sense that he should do these things.

It would however make sense for the unemployed of all ages, plus those on sickness/disability benefits to be forced to give up some days each week to benefitting the community that pays their benefits.

There would be howls of outrage however if the unemployed or the sick were asked to do what they could to help in their locality. It might even benefit them by getting them out of the house doing something useful. But while it would be considered disgraceful to ask the unemployed to do even one day a week of unpaid work, it would be just fine to ask everyone who was eighteen to give up 12 weekends for a year. That is neither Conservative nor sensible nor remotely reasonable.

In Scotland we started as usual with a grievance. Scotland has different school holidays, and it is unfair to have an election during them. But everywhere in the UK has somewhat different school holidays in the summer, in the autumn and in the spring and it is certain that elections previously have clashed with a holiday somewhere.

But I think Scotland is moving on from grievance as it is rather childish and anyway nothing that John Swinney or anyone else for that matter will make much difference compared to what might or might not be revealed during the campaign about a former First Minister.

My guess is that nothing will be revealed for the same reason that the whole investigation has been going on for so long. Pressure and influence have been used rather stupidly because it all might have been over long ago and forgotten. But this is the problem with corruption.

If I had stolen from the bank I would have been convicted quickly because I had no influence. The corrupt person or friends of the same may delay the end point, but that looks rather foolish if the bomb is going to go off eventually and might just go bang during the next month or so. Of course we can continue to put pressure on to delay it, but that merely demonstrates our corruption. It provides still further evidence that there is a bomb.

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Thursday 23 May 2024

Punish the SNP


The significance of the General Election in Scotland is that it might finally after more than a decade give us the chance to move on from debating independence. We have had single issue politics since at least 2011. People have voted not on the basis of party policies or competence but on what stance the party took on independence. Voters continued to support the SNP even when it ruled badly because they cared more about Scottish nationalism than they did about good governance. Naturally they were rewarded by bad governance.

If the SNP can be reduced to 11 seats as a recent poll suggested or still better to single figures, then it will be reasonable to assume that there is no longer a meaningful debate about independence. This will give us all a chance to move on.

Once Scotland ceases to have single issue politics we can go back to left/right politics and issues like the economy, healthcare, education and so on that have largely been neglected because although important they are boring compared to flag waving, revolution and refighting the Battle of Bannockburn.

For this reason, the election in Scotland is quite different from that in the UK overall. Only Labour or the Conservatives can win power at Westminster. The overall battle is between Sunak and Starmer. But in Scotland the battle is between Labour and the SNP.

The Scottish Conservatives can perhaps hold onto the seats they already have. They might even win one or two others, but that is the absolute limit. Only Labour can defeat the SNP in the Central Belt. You may not like that. You may dislike Starmer and remember previous poor Labour governments, but nevertheless if Labour fails to win most of the seats held by the SNP no one else will.

In that case the SNP would win thirty or more seats and might even remain the largest Scottish party in Westminster. If that were to happen the day after the election the SNP would be calling for a second referendum and we would be back to where we started.

So, it is possible for a patriotic Conservative voter to hope both that Rishi Sunak remains Prime Minister and that Labour wins many more seats than the SNP in Scotland.

It is perfectly possible that the number of seats Labour wins in Scotland will be decisive in determining the outcome. More important perhaps is that if Labour wins in Scotland and wins overall it will destroy the democratic deficit argument that the SNP has used for so long. Scotland will have got the government it voted for.

I strongly suspect that the result of the election has already been determined. If Labour cannot win this time, then it would be necessary to conclude that it cannot win at all.

It is vital that voters don’t vote tribally but punish poor government from whichever side it comes. Even as someone who is on the right, I think that our country needs change and the Conservative Party needs to be completely reformed by opposition or else replaced.

This does not at all mean that I look forward to a Labour government. Labour will make a mess and will do nothing to address the fact that our country is getting worse by the year. It’s not merely managed decline anymore. It’s worse than that and both parties are responsible over the long term.

What the country needs is another 1979 and a decade of economic reform, but that is not on offer from anyone who can win.

There may be a moment in the campaign overall that changes things, but I doubt it. The Conservatives are too disliked for disappointing those of us who viewed 2019 as the chance for something better.

The SNP remains especially vulnerable not merely because of the chaos involved in losing Humza Yousaf, but because Operation Branchform continues. It would have been far better for the SNP if everyone who was going to be charged had already been charged a year ago. This would have given it a chance to recover. Now it faces the possibility of a significant development during the campaign. But even without it the SNP’s thistle has begun to smell far worse than weeds.

Just prior to Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation the SNP seemed guaranteed to continue indefinitely to win 45% or the vote or more and to win big majorities both at Westminster and Holyrood. It shows the pointlessness of political prediction. No one foresaw what has happened since.

I think that swing will determine the result overall and in Scotland. It will be determined by those voters who don’t pay much attention to politics, but somehow feel that someone else should be given a go.

People vote for a variety of reasons and how you use your vote is your business. If Pro UK voters turn out in sufficient numbers and are willing to vote for the party with the best chance of defeating the SNP, then Scottish nationalism can be defeated decisively. If the price of that is a Labour government it is a price worth paying, not least because we are liable to get a Labour government no matter what we do.

If you had offered me the prospect of the SNP losing more than thirty seats in early 2023, I would have told you it was impossible. I expected trench warfare with the SNP to continue indefinitely, but we can break through their line and send in the cavalry and turn the SNP’s retreat into a rout.

Don’t take anything for granted. Polling is unreliable as pollsters routinely manipulate data and it has not much more relation to truth as divination by means of chicken entrails. No one has won anything yet.

If like me you have been in the fight from the beginning, this is the moment to take advantage of the SNP’s weakness. Think carefully about how to use your vote to gain what you want in your constituency.

The SNP has a new dull leader who has never achieved anything. It has a dreadful record in government and has changed Scotland for the worse not least by bringing a level of corruption and incompetence to government that was unimaginable when I was a child.

If we don’t punish the SNP now, we will deserve all that follows. We have the chance of permanent peace, we have the chance to move on from the division in Scotland. Take it.

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Thursday 16 May 2024

The SNP is no threat to anyone


There is of course nothing offensive in describing Scottish nationalism as a threat to the UK. Indeed, the UK has never come closer to destruction than in September 2014. If Germany had succeeded in invading the UK in 1940 the UK would still most likely have continued to exist just as France did, but if the SNP ever won a vote on independence the UK would be gone for ever in the same way that there is no longer a country called Prussia or Yugoslavia.

But there are different kinds of threats to a country and the SNP ought not to be compared to the threat of war or terrorism, because it is a peaceful democratic party and so are those who vote for it.

Scotland prior to the merger with England may have decided matters violently and certainly did not have any sort of democracy, but then England prior to the merger tended to decide political matters with civil wars and by chopping people’s heads off. Both together developed our present system of free and fair elections, and the SNP is part of this.

There has been no political violence in Scotland. The SNP does not have an armed wing. Scottish nationalists are as law abiding and peaceful as anyone else.

Despite passions on both sides sometimes going too far, no one has been murdered and few indeed have even been assaulted. There have been nasty words, but few if any nasty deeds.

The threat of insurrection or revolution coming from the SNP is just talk after a few too many frustrations and a few too many drinks. If Scottish independence were ever to happen it would happen democratically.

But all of these things are part of the reason that Scottish independence is not happening. It would have strategically been better if the SNP had had an armed wing carrying out attacks in England. If it had done so for thirty years it would have won independence even if the people of Scotland did not want it. Such a campaign however could not have been sustained because there is almost no one in Scotland who would want to take part in it and almost no one who would support it.

The SNP rightly relied on democracy, but peak independence support in 2014 was 10% short and when it briefly breached 50% at the General Election of 2015 it was too late. It is clear now that the moment has passed, and that Scottish nationalism is no threat at all. There is no need for Rish Sunak to speak luridly about it. This merely shows once more how little he understands Britain.

There have been three serious secession movements in the First World West, Quebec, Catalonia and Scotland. In Canada there were two independence referendums and Quebec came close on the second occasion, but since then support for independence has declined.

There was no referendum in Catalonia, but rather a unilateral declaration of independence and revolt. Spain dealt with the issue with typical brutality and jailed some Catalan nationalists, but recent elections show that support for independence in Catalonia has declined to the extent that the unity of Spain is no longer threatened. Scotland completes the pattern.

This is not accidental. While there were waves of secession in Eastern Europe in the 1990s and while the occasional new country pops up in the Third World, it is quite clearly not straightforward to achieve independence in modern Western Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand or Japan. If it were someone would have achieved it.

Both Catalonia and Quebec have much better claims to independence than Scotland. Many people in both speak a genuinely different language and are culturally dissimilar to the rest of Spain and Canada in a way Scotland simply is not. Catalonia had the advantage of being wealthier than most of the rest of Spain, while Scotland depends on a subsidy from the UK Treasury.

There are in Western Europe any number of formerly independent countries. There are linguistic divides in countries like Belgium. There are rivalries, hatreds and separate identities. Some Corsicans want to be independent from France, some Venetians want to leave Italy, but none of these things is going to happen, because for a First World market economy it just isn’t worth it.

Quebec found that Canada wasn’t interested in helping it achieve independence and the United States wouldn’t welcome it either. Catalonia discovered that the EU wasn’t interested in helping it achieve independence and that leaving Spain would involve leaving the EU with who knows what consequences for its borders and currency.

Scottish independence appeals to a certain kind of Scot theoretically, but not actually. The SNP always has to unrealistically sugar coat the pill of leaving by pretending that everything would go on as before only we’d be independent and have more money. But this has never been convincing while the SNP government continues to accept 25% per person higher public spending thanks to a grant from London.

The dislocation of breaking up a First World market economy is such that no rational voter would try it. The loss of Scotland would damage the former UK at least as much as the damage it would do to Scotland. Who would want to lend to either? But this loss of confidence would make the brief Liz Truss Prime Ministership look like a ripple compared to a storm. Who knows what would happen to the UK economy if the UK broke up? It’s all very well saying Scotland could be like Denmark, it’s just as likely that it could become Nouvelle-Cal├ędonie and the former UK might end up not much better.

In Redgauntlet Scott imagines a third Jacobite rebellion in 1765 with an aging and less Bonnie Prince Charlie allowed by the British to depart in peace because his rebellion had failed so pathetically that Jacobitism was no longer a threat. This is where we now are with Scottish nationalism. The Bonnie Prince might have won a kingdom if he had continued to march from Derby to London, but years later he is as bald and old as John Swinney and it is ludicrous to call him threat.

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Saturday 11 May 2024

Back to the Tartan Tories


Scotland is returning to its Labour roots which gives the SNP a choice either it goes further left than Labour which means it might as well merge with the Scottish Greens, or it goes to the Centre Right. It has chosen the latter.

For historical reasons there is both a geographical and a numerical limit to the support that the Scottish Conservatives can achieve. It can’t do much better than it did in the General Election of 2017 when it won 28% of the vote and 12 seats. It is unimaginable that the Scottish Conservatives could win a majority at Holyrood, because Holyrood was built specifically to avoid Tories/Margaret Thatcher ruling in Scotland. There is nothing the Scottish Conservatives can do to change this. It may take one hundred years. It may take longer.

But while Scotland will not vote for Tories, it will vote for Tartan Tories who are in every respect to the right of the Scottish Conservatives. This is the direction in which the SNP is now going to travel.

It may initially appear absurd that a party that was in a coalition with the ultra-leftwing Scottish Greens could so rapidly tack to the right, but this is to misunderstand the nature of the SNP and Scottish nationalism in general.

Both hard (SNP) and soft (Labour, Lib Dems) Scottish nationalism built on the 1980s and the perceived horror of Margaret Cromwell’s destruction of Scotland to argue first for a Scottish Parliament and then logically enough for independence. If your Scottish nationalism is sufficient to argue that it is unfair if one part of the UK is outvoted by another part because Scotland is a country and not merely a region, then you don’t frankly have an argument when the SNP make the point that countries ought to be independent. Soft nationalism logically give rise to hard nationalism because it provides it with its premise. Once you argue that Scotland is separate country and needs a separate parliament with separate powers don’t be surprised when you get separatism.

The SNP reinvented itself as a specifically anti-Tory party after the 2010 General Election when the Conservatives formed a coalition deal with the Lib Dems. It’s no use the SNP said having only a devolved parliament we Scots are still outnumbered by wicked Tories and look one of them is Prime Minister again just like that awful Oliver Thatcher.

Being anti-Tory was the driving force of the independence movement from 2010 to 2024. The most frequent insult from independence supporters was that Pro UK people were Tories. But if Labour wins the General Election and if Labour wins the most seats in Scotland and heaven forfend if Labour becomes the majority party in Holyrood, it isn’t going to be any use to be the anti-Tory party.

Humza Yousaf did not have the wit to realise that he could not continue to present it as a battle between the SNP and the Tories. It was senseless because the Scottish Conservatives are only competitive in the seats they hold and a few others. Moreover, with Keir Starmer as Prime Minister and Anas Sarwar as First Minister the SNP was always going to have to offer something different.

I have long believed that if Scotland were ever to achieve independence and indeed in order to prepare itself for this it would require that it become a low tax, low public spending slightly larger equivalent of Singapore. If Scotland undercut the former UK and the EU by being much more competitive than either, it could perhaps overcome some of the disadvantages of leaving the UK single market.

The better together argument always struck me as foolish. It was saying Scotland is a country that can’t manage a fully sovereign parliament and needs a permanent subsidy from the UK or else we would be poorer than we are already. But if Scotland had become independent in 2014 it would have had to have managed. The likely result I believe is that the SNP would have been extremely fiscally conservative, and we would have had brutal spending cuts. It would not have been pleasant but lots of countries have gone through such unpleasantness.

This was always the folly of the anti-Tory argument as well as the argument that if only Scotland were independent, we would become like Denmark. It is much more likely that Scotland would have had to go through the sort of restructuring that Argentina is undergoing and just like with Argentina in time it would have worked.

This was always the dishonesty behind the SNP’s anti-Tory argument. Independence would have given us Margaret MacThatcher and the whole direction of the Scottish economy would have been the opposite of free tuition, free prescriptions and baby boxes. Instead, we would have been paying to visit the doctor by means of health insurance. Scotland’s high public spending at present is a feature of being a part of the UK and would not survive leaving it.

The SNP is now going to oppose Labour by tacking to the Centre Right, meanwhile the majority of SNP politicians and voters will still think of themselves as being leftwing anti-Tories. The incoherence is resolved by realising that the SNP does not care about left and right.

Some independence supporters kid themselves that they are in politics to achieve socialism, or to be in some other way progressive. But this is merely self-deception. The SNP is going to ditch all the woke crap, because it hurt the independence cause. The SNP is going to gradually try to be more fiscally conservative and less left-wing. It will do that as this now is the only route to independence.

For a while it looked as if opposition to Brexit might improve the SNP’s fortune, but it didn’t so expect in time the SNP to oppose joining the EU. It makes much more sense for an independent Scotland to be closely aligned with the former UK than the EU.

The SNP has only ever cared about independence. It doesn’t want independence to achieve some other goal. It wants it for itself. It is for this reason that the SNP can swing in a minute from the far left to the centre right and no one seems to notice and why its supporters don’t really care. If Karl Marx gets the SNP to independence that’s fine, if Margaret Thatcher gets it to independence the SNP will adopt her policies while still blaming her for everything.

The SNP is a single-issue party which is about to reinvent itself again as the Tartan Tories, because that is the only way it can oppose Labour. Doing so may be intellectually incoherent, but it also makes strategic good sense.

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Friday 3 May 2024

Swinney the spear carrier


I thought of trying to get people to pronounce John Swinney’s surname to rhyme with Tiny, but it won’t catch on. Swinney in his long dull career is merely a party loyalist. I compared him to being savaged by a dead pig in a reference to Geoffrey Howe, but the point is that people still remember the Howe being compared to a dead sheep, while even those of us who follow Scottish politics closely will struggle to remember Swinney even while he is First Minister.

The greatest fault of British politics since the Second World War is that it manages decline. Apart from a brief decade when Margaret Thatcher changed direction, we merely increase our debts, lower our productivity, and see our living standards become more mediocre. Swinney will manage the decline of the SNP.

Swinney is like one of the old Bolsheviks. He was there in the decades before the SNP were popular. Being a Scottish nationalist is not something he put on when it became easier to ditch the Labour Party and join the SNP. I strongly suspect that Swinney was born with Scottish nationalism.

This type of SNP politician is quite rare nowadays, just as this type of SNP voter is rare. There were always people in the decades prior to SNP power who would have SNP stickers in their house windows and there were a tiny band of warriors like Sturgeon, Salmond and Swinney who fought for Scotland’s freedom because they had been brought up with a little too much “Scots wha hae”. But these were eccentrics in the Scotland of my youth.

But because he has been there from the start Swinney always cared more for the cause than he did for himself. He was willing to take over when for still unknown reasons Alex Salmond resigned as leader in 2000. Swinney did what he was told and resigned himself when his initial stint as SNP leader went badly. When Salmond was leader again and later First Minister Swinney was loyal to Salmond. When Sturgeon replaced Salmond in 2014 Swinney was loyal to Sturgeon. He quietly did whatever role was given to him and did his best to protect whichever leader he served.

If the SNP old guard can be compared to the old Bolsheviks Swinney served both Lenin and Stalin and somehow avoided being purged. He did so because he was no threat to either Salmond or Sturgeon.  But it is just this that makes Swinney a spear carrier at the back of the stage rather than a leader.

No one really knows why Sturgeon tried to purge Alex Salmond, but I think it is for the same reason that Robert the Bruce murdered John Comyn in 1306. Comyn was a rival. Comyn was a threat. Swinney was never a rival to either Salmond or to Sturgeon for which reason he could serve both. But the fact that he was never a rival means that he can never be a leader either. If neither Sturgeon nor Salmond rated Swinney as a potential leader, why should the rest of us?

While Swinney is part of the SNP old guard even merely as a spear carrier, almost everyone else and certainly everyone who came into politics from 2011 onwards is a fellow traveller. The SNP’s surge in support and surge in membership was the equivalent of those who joined Bolshevism after the revolution.

Neither Humza Yousaf nor any of the younger SNP politicians was born and brought up with Scottish nationalism. The vast majority of SNP voters since 2014 are former Labour Party voters. It makes their loyalty to the party and their dedication to the cause quite different to that of Swinney, Sturgeon or Salmond. It is merely contingent not absolute.

Much of the support for Scottish independence is merely left wing people who thought that the only way to achieve left wing goals is to break away from a UK that kept electing Tory governments. But it is much easier to elect a Labour government than to break up a three-hundred-year-old country and so this is what these people will now do. Labour is kryptonite to Swinney wearing his underwear over his leggings like a Scottish John Major.

Swinney will be more competent than Yousaf. There will be fewer gaffs. Swinney will speak adequately in interviews and in Holyrood, but he will inspire precisely no one. The politics of Nicola Sturgeon will continue as I strongly suspect she will continue driving from the rear.

The SNP desperately needs to change direction and to focus on making Scotland more prosperous. It needs to accept that the politics of both Salmond and Sturgeon ultimately failed and to rebuild and change everything. Otherwise, it is just managed decline. But it is unable to do so because those who came into the party after 2014 lack patience. They want independence now and for this reason they won’t get it at all.

Swinney’s purpose is damage limitation. He is an experienced politician who won’t make the mistakes Yousaf did. This might save a few seats at the General Election. More importantly his purpose is as Keeper of the SNP Secrets.

Swinney has proved over the decades that he keeps his mouth shut and it may be that there is a lot that he needs to keep his mouth shut about. Swinney was as close to the centre of Nicola Sturgeon’s government as it was possible to be without being part of the dual monarchy. He carried the spear in the background while they strutted and fretted their hour upon the stage and surely unless they were whispering, he heard much of the dialogue.

One day the SNP may find a leader who can once again threaten the UK like Salmond did in 2014 and Sturgeon did also, but it is not Swinney. For this Pro UK people should be profoundly grateful.

By the time Swinney departs the SNP may no longer have a majority in either Westminster or Holyrood and in that case, it will hardly matter who leads it.

How many times have I been told that independence was inevitable. The SNP has merely lighted fools the way to dusty death and none of them will see Scottish independence. Out, out, brief SNP.

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Wednesday 1 May 2024

Forbes can't possibly lead the SNP


Kate Forbes is generally the most popular SNP person among Pro UK people. She ought not to be. Like everyone else in the SNP Forbes is primarily and above everything else a Scottish nationalist. This is why she is in the SNP. This is why everyone is in the SNP. It’s a single-issue party. All the rest is just a means of achieving that goal.

I don’t know Kate Forbes and I only know about her views what everyone else knows. By all accounts she is very pleasant and is liked by people from all parties in Holyrood. She is a young mum with other children from her husband’s previous marriage. She is a Gaelic speaker who spent much of her youth in India where her parents were missionaries. She went to Cambridge and is obviously more intelligent than perhaps any other SNP politician. She is a committed Christian with views that border on the fundamentalist.

On the one hand Pro UK people ought to hope that Kate Forbes does not become SNP leader and First Minister. It would be to our disadvantage to have a genuinely intelligent SNP leader. It has been hugely beneficial to have a leader like Humza Yousaf who is not particularly intelligent. Even Sturgeon who was a very good politician lacked the intelligence to guide the SNP properly after losing the referendum in 2014. Her strategies failed because they were not clever enough.

If the SNP is to succeed it cannot keep repeating the same strategy of being the anti-Tory party that is more to the left and more woke than Labour. Scotland is not economically ready for independence. It requires a subsidy from the UK Treasury in order to continually spend more public money on services that are no better than in England. This in itself obviously means that Scottish independence would involve Scots initially being poorer. That is not to take into account the economic disadvantages of breaking up a three-hundred-year-old country and its internal market.

The only way that Scotland could even begin to afford Scottish independence is to do everything possible to encourage growth in the Scottish economy. If I were SNP leader, I would try my very best to have lower taxes than in England. I would cut public spending while providing incentives for other British people especially wealthy ones to come to Scotland. I would provide a more competitive business environment for companies and individuals and would attempt to undercut the other parts of the UK just as the UK ought to have tried to undercut the EU but didn’t.

I would then recognise that the only way Scotland can sensibly achieve independence is outside the EU. I would do all I could to maintain a friendly cooperative relationship with the British government so that Scotland could gain a relationship with the former UK that was similar to that enjoyed by the Isle of Man, Jersey, Gibraltar or the Falkland Islands. This would enable Scotland to continue being part of the Sterling Zone and would prevent all issues with hard borders and trade restrictions.

If I were SNP leader therefore, I would do the opposite of what the SNP has been doing for the past decades.

Forbes just might have the intelligence to see that this is the only path to independence. That makes her a dangerous opponent.

If the SNP choose John Swinney, they will have the same leader who failed dismally after Alex Salmond quit before returning to become First Minister in the 2007 Holyrood election, triumphing in the 2011 election and obtaining a referendum on independence. If Swinney had continued as SNP leader none of these things would have happened. Swinney is a non-entity who has achieved nothing whatsoever and never will.

But if the SNP elect Swinney he will continue as First Minister until 2026. He will be dull and pointless, but he won’t frighten the horses. Managed decline is not scary.

If on the other hand Forbes becomes SNP leader, she may not become First Minister at all as she will lack the support of the Scottish Greens and may lack the support of many if not most SNP MSPs.

The election of Forbes would very likely bring about an immediate Holyrood election which after the recent chaos there is every chance the SNP and the Greens would lose. We could well end up with Anas Sarwar as First Minister.

Forbes would then go into a General Election and would be very likely to lose that too. Whatever bright ideas she might have would then have to be made from a position of not having power and in a party where hardly any other politician agrees with her.

So, on the one hand I might recognise Kate Forbes as a dangerous opponent, but on the other I don’t see how she could be elected SNP leader without splitting the party.

Forbes is a Tartan Tory in a party that is now full of people on the left, the woke left and the extreme left and whose main motivation for independence is hatred of Tories.

It’s not merely problematic that Forbes is a religious fundamentalist trying to lead a party that thinks men can become women like water can become wine. More importantly she is perhaps more right wing than anyone in the Scottish Conservatives.

In order to achieve independence Scotland would need to ditch all its assumptions about economics. It would need a reformer like Margaret Thatcher to make Scotland efficient enough to deal with the shock of leaving the UK. Kate Forbes just might be such a person. She might just have the intelligence to realise that Scotland needs Adam Smith in a dress. But if she were to realise it, she would be alone in the Scottish Parliament as no one else would support her.

I hope John Swinney wins the SNP leadership. He would be less useless than Yousaf, but he will achieve nothing. But the SNP would be crazy to choose Kate Forbes. It would be like choosing the Pope to be moderator of the Free Church of Scotland.

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