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Strange goings on in Scottish politics

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon ought to be riding high. The Mirror reports, “Nicola Sturgeon’s coronavirus handling has won over swathe of voters with support for Scottish independence hitting 57 PER CENT, poll finds”. There have been something like seventeen polls in a row showing majority support for independence. For myself, I would be enormously sad to see Scotland leave the UK, but that is not the point of this post.

The point is to ask what the hell is really going on? Something must be. Go to the leading pro-Independence blog Wings Over Scotland and the message from the bloggers and the commenters is one of fury with Sturgeon and despair over the prospects of independence. Compared to 2014 it is a different world.

I do understand the outline of the events that led to the convening of the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints, and which have led the Herald to report,

ALEX Salmond has cast further doubt on appearing in person before the Holyrood inquiry into his legal fight with the Scottish Government in an escalating war of words with its convener. The former First Minister’s lawyer said his client feared that telling the whole truth to MSPs under oath would leave him “in jeopardy of criminal prosecution”.

What stumps me is how it comes about that the reporting by Scottish newspapers (most of whom are anti-independence) seems to support Nicola Sturgeon and speak as if independence is all but inevitable while the leading pro-independence blogs seem sure her resignation and disgrace are imminent and that she has put back the prospects of independence by years. What is not being said? Who is not saying it?

The second most popular pro-Independence blog is probably the far left Bella Caledonia. Or maybe it isn’t any more – much can change in six years and much has. In 2014 Wings and Bella were in lockstep, fighting for the same goal. Now they oppose each other bitterly.

All the more surprising, then, to read a guest post on Wings, to find myself moved by its patent honesty, then to get to the end of the post and find (a) that it was by someone who until a year or so ago was one of the leading lights of Bella, and (b) that someone is Robin McAlpine. He is the left wing authoritarian (I do not completely repeat myself; there are some points where the two circles on the Venn diagram do not overlap) who wrote an Orwellian piece for Bella called “Real Freedom Sounds Like Many Voices” in which he proposed to institute a system for newspapers like that which supports the BBC: there would be a compulsory newspaper subscription payable by all Scots (the supposed sweetener for this was that the newspapers so funded would be “free” – as in free of charge, not politically free), a handful of approved newspapers would be given government franchises, and, in his own words, “this would require that titles other than the franchised ones would be banned.” Mr McAlpine’s “Real Freedom” post dates from 2013. I wrote my Samizdata piece about it in 2017 when it looked as if Bella Caledonia might have collapsed. I wanted to preserve the memory of just how authoritarian Mr McAlpine’s views were.

The piece dated 14 January 2021 by Mr McAlpine that so surprised and moved me is called “The Integrity of a Nation”. It begins,

This time almost exactly two years ago I sat in a cafe close to Holyrood in a state of what I can only call shock. The enormity of what I’d just heard was sinking in; over the preceding nearly three hours I’d been introduced to all the gory detail of the plot against Alex Salmond. The last two years has at times been surreal for me as a result.

Added later: For me, the key part of Robin McAlpine’s post was this:

I believe that it started when a complaints procedure was created and designed to target a specific individual and pushed through over strong objections from the UK civil service.

In a position of power, you should never create laws or procedures for a purpose related to the pursuit of an individual; it represents a gross misuse of those powers.

Emphasis added. The manipulation of the law to target political opponents should concern anyone. The “specific individual” is of course Alex Salmond. He is not a nice man. His own defence lawyer does not think much of him. But there is a hell of a difference between having wandering hands and being a rapist. The prosecution had every chance to prove him a rapist and could not do it. A mostly female jury at the height of the #MeToo movement found him innocent of all thirteen charges. Before anyone chimes in, yes, one of them was “not proven” – that is still an acquittal. What a spectacular failure. Almost as if the case should never have been brought at all. Perhaps this failure resulted from the plague of memory loss that has afflicted many of Scotland’s top civil servants, Nicola Sturgeon herself, and her husband Peter Murrell, who happens to be Chief Executive of the SNP yet displays Biden-like levels of incuriosity regarding meetings of burning importance to that party that take place in his own house. For details see his Wikipedia page, though what it says now may not last the hour.

25 comments to Strange goings on in Scottish politics

  • Paul Marks

    The SNP have not handled Covid 19 well in Scotland.

    They have followed the same insane mixture of “lockdowns” (destroying the economy) and actively discouraging Early Treatment (thus causing MASS DEATH) that so many other Western countries have followed.

    This is not complicated – treat the sick (Early Treatment with well established medications can reduce hospitalisations by at least 80%) and let other people go to work, and run their businesses.

    If the government of Scotland, or anywhere else, wants to indulge their “nanny instinct” they can urge people to regularly (every day) take Vitamin D3 and to generally improve their diet – which is particular bad in the United Kingdom.

  • Paul Marks

    As for “Scottish Independence” – I know of no one who wants Scottish Independence, least of all the so called Scottish “National” Party which is fanatical about Scotland being a province of the European Union. Under the rule of Brussels and Frankfurt.

    No party, none, is arguing for Scottish Independence.

  • Duncan S

    Natalie, typo in your last paragraph.

    The piece dated 14 January 2020 by Mr McAlpine

    – should be 2021.

    There’s currently a popcorn shortage in Scotland.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Thanks for pointing out my error, Duncan S, I will correct it now.

  • Mr Ed

    The OP makes a compelling case for Scottish independence, by the middle of next week, from an rUK perspective. Fascinating but it is just a blog, a still, small voice of calm. I think the SNP have it sewn up. And Scots Criminal Law is effectively entirely domestic, there is no appeal to the UK Supreme Court against a criminal conviction as a check on the abuse of the prosecutorial power, except in limited issues relating to human rights (and the same for references from Scotland to the ECHR).

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Mr Ed writes,

    there is no appeal to the UK Supreme Court against a criminal conviction as a check on the abuse of the prosecutorial power

    I didn’t know that. I speculate that the relative absence of checks and balances might be why this culture of impunity seems to have grown up in the SNP government. On the other hand, the famous provision of checks and balances in the US constitution did not prevent the abuse of state machinery for political purposes under the Obama administration: IRS targeting controversy.

  • The key to killing Scottish (meaning SNP) separatism has to be a simultaneous referendum in Orkney & Shetlands about separating from Scotland, with wide local autonomy for the isles & a very generous portion of the oil revenues being retained locally 😉

  • Mr Ed


    It was part of the Acts of Union that Scotland would retain its legal systems and whilst the civil law as between England & Wales as (for most of the time) one jurisdiction and Scotland as another have actually in some ways got closer, a great deal of our common law of negligence has come from fascinating cases involving Grampian fishwives or dead snails in Scottish ginger beer bottles being aired in the House of Lords (as the then final UK civil court), the Scots were careful to maintain their criminal sovereignty as distinct.

    the said Courts or any other of the like nature after the Unions shall have no power to Cognosce Review or Alter the Acts or Sentences of the Judicatures within Scotland or stop the Execution of the same . . .

    Indeed, it was only in the last few years that the UK Supreme Court (and before that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council) has been able to intervene when a point on the interpretation of Human Rights laws etc. came up in Scots criminal law in the context of devolution issues. So if the Scottish Crown prosecuted, say, Mr Johnson of Westminster, for some offence, he would need to have passed an Act of Parliament doing violence to the Acts of Union and the Scotland Act 1998 setting up devolution to stop it, unless the Supreme Court found it a devolution issue. There’s a minor irony in devolution actually weakening the de jure independence of the Scots criminal courts.

  • The key to killing Scottish (meaning SNP) separatism has to be a simultaneous referendum in Orkney & Shetlands about separating from Scotland, with wide local autonomy for the isles & a very generous portion of the oil revenues being retained locally

    This would also apply to the Hebrides and Western Isles. They put up with Nippy Sweetie and her band of demented porridge wogs in the central belt because they have no alternative, but being tied to them in perpetuity post-Independence would be beyond the pale. If the islands were offered a referendum on self-government and crown dependency status (a la Jersey, Guernsey and the rest) then provided that was backed up by guaranteed revenue for the relatively small population through oil and fishing, they would jump at it.

    The bonus would be that it would remove the vast majority of remaining revenue from a post-Independence Scotland. Can’t see 50%+1 voting for Independence on that basis.

    The whole idea of an Independent Scotland is a joke given its current financial deficit of about £9 billion a year. A positive vote on Independence would throw this figure skywards as whole swathes of the Scottish economy moved across the border to avoid being trapped behind Sturgeon’s 21st Century Fascist Protection Rampart. Whatever was left of Scotland would be dependent upon whoever would help to pay the bills. Independent in dependancy? I don’t think so…

  • Phil B

    The Scots don’t want independence. If they did, they would sell it as the break up of the United Kingdom and allow the English (principally)to have a say in the matter. I believe that the vast majority of the English would vote to get rid of them. I realise that there are some Scots reading this who may not agree with me but they are a minority in Scotland. They can apply for English nationality and swear allegiance to the Queen etc. if they want to live and work in the rest of the UK.

    Just think. No more West Lothian Question, no more Barnett Formula, no more hard left wing politicians tipping the balance in favour of a left wing UK Government. No more Tony Blair or Gordon Brown Manchurian Candidates.

    Economically, they would be screwed. I applied for a job in Linlithgow and was offered the position. I turned it down on the basis that 3 out of 4 jobs in the area were Government jobs. My tax office was in, you guessed it, Linlithgow. There are a lot of other administrative jobs like that that are based in the area, contributing vast amounts of cash to the Scottish economy but serving English areas and people. Repatriate all those jobs to England (since Scotland would be a foreign country). Similarly, repatriate all the shipbuilding jobs back to England and close down Faslane. Putting that facility in a virtually communist country is unwise.

    OK, the Scots would still whinge about the English for the next 2,000 years but at least England would not be paying for them and subsidising their hatred for the English. I’m convinced that the only thing that gets the majority of Scots out of bed in the morning is hatred for the English. See Trainspotting and the impassioned speech by Robert Carlyle about the English on their trip to the countryside.

    And make sure that they are NOT linked to the English currency so that they do not drag it down with them too when the inevitable gravy train hits the buffers.

    If you read John Prebble’s book, The Lion in the North, you’ll find out that when the two nations became one in 1707, that the first thing that the English did was bung the Scots money to get their economy out of the gutter. It amounted to £400,000 which, back in 1707 was a fair amount.

    No, let them go. They hate the English and I believe that the English are fed up of their incessant whining and professional victimhood. Strike while the iron is hot and give them another “once in a generation” vote (remind me again, when was the last one?)and keep doing it until they are independent.

  • Brian Innes-Will

    A lot of chest -beating English supremacist, divide and c0nquer FUDD, Trumpian horse manure posts on here.

    Meanwhile the Union slides steadily down the voting in polls.

    19 in a row in favour of returning to self government.
    Facts are chiels that winna ding.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    @Brian I can’t quite make out your point. Are you annoyed that lots of English people would like the Scots to have independence. Does that somehow detract from its appeal?
    If you are Scots, then have at it, I say. Reverse that stupid, wayward, treacherous decision of 1707.

  • Reverse that stupid, wayward, treacherous decision of 1707.

    The decision of 1707 was right for both parties at the time otherwise it wouldn’t have happened, but times change and in 2014 the Scots were asked to vote again on Independence and voted no.

    We’ve often said that the EU mechanism of forcing nations to “Vote again until you get the right answer” is abusive and an affront to democracy. So why doesn’t the same apply to IndyRef2?

    …and no, I don’t think that BRExit, COVID-19 or any of the other Shibboleths of constitutional justification used by the demented porridge wogs of the SNP are sufficient. The fact that the SNP hates the Tories doesn’t justify shit.

  • Mr Ed

    My proposed solution is firstly to amend The Island of Rockall Act 1972 to make the rock a part of the UK, on a par with every other component, rather than part of Scotland.

    Then expel England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from the UK, leaving the National Debt and UK government liabilities in the beak of the Chief Gannet of the realm. And we might all live happily ever after, and the Republic of Ireland might get one over us by annexing Rockall.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    @John Galt

    Reverse that stupid, wayward, treacherous decision of 1707

    I thought I was laying the sarcasm on with a trowel, but maybe not.

    @Mr Ed
    Your proposed solution smacks of birdism but is otherwise very attractive.

  • A lot of chest -beating English supremacist, divide and c0nquer FUDD, Trumpian horse manure posts on here.

    If the SNP were a freedom promoting classically liberal outfit, rather than atavistic national socialist thugs who want a Havana-on-Clyde panopticon state, I’d be moving to Scotland. You’re the one a obsessed with national destiny, old chap, not me.

    Meanwhile the Union slides steadily down the voting in polls. 19 in a row in favour of returning to self government.

    A bit like every poll shows the voters are against Brexit. Except the polls where people actually vote 😀

  • Peter MacFarlane

    “19 in a row in favour of returning to self government.”

    Self-government? I don’t think so. As someone says above, their actual ambition is to rush into the arms of Brussels. There’s not much self-government on offer from that quarter.

  • JohnK

    Scottish nationalism was not a mainstream thing until the 1970s, and its rise coincided with the discovery of North Sea oil. In the eyes of Scottish nationalists, this was “Scotland’s oil”, which the English were stealing. Without North Sea oil, there would be no Scottish nationalism.

    Given that North Sea oil is a declining asset, and according to the Fat Oaf in Downing Street we are heading to a “carbon free” future, it will be interesting to see if Scottish nationalism survives the end of the one thing which briefly made it seem possible.

  • Jim

    ” it will be interesting to see if Scottish nationalism survives the end of the one thing which briefly made it seem possible.”

    No it won’t be interesting because Scottish Nationalism consists of continually whining about how nasty the English are while simultaneously demanding more of their money. What the SNP want is to be denied independence by the hated English and leverage that refusal into ever more money for them to spend. The last thing they want is actual independence. They’re a sort of Tartan Brer Rabbit ‘Please don’t deny us independence Brer Boris, please!’

  • Paul Marks

    I repeat – the Scottish “National” Party has done a terrible job in relation to Covid 19 (and everything else – especially Scots Law and Scottish Education).

    The Scottish economy has been smashed by lockdowns, and the dead of Covid 19 are legion – due to lack of EARLY TREATMENT (which would have reduced hospitalisations by some 80%).

    Nor does the Scottish “National” Party want Scottish independence – on the contrary, it has a fanatical hatred of Scottish independence, it wants Scotland to be Province of the European Union.

  • APL

    Paul Marks: “I repeat – the Scottish “National” Party has done a terrible job in relation to Covid 19”

    Actually Paul, every Western government has done a terrible job in relation to COVID-19. Largely because back in February – March 2019 they watched China forcibly lock people in their own homes, and thought that was a good example to follow.

    As I remarked back then, when Edward Heath visited China in, what was it, ’73 ? We thought China would become more like the West. Alas no, today we are living under a Totalitarian regime. This Tory government has used the crisis to introduce enabling acts that claim to allow it to promulgate the most heinous measures in the name of ‘public health’. And Parliament sits on it’s hands and does nothing.

    I don’t think it would have been permitted if Blair hadn’t abolished the House of Lords as the Supreme court and introduced the lickspittles in our modern supreme court. Which is, of course, why he did it.

  • Mr Ed

    1707, the Union of England and Scotland, was, in modern terms, a bail-out primarily for the Scots elite who had bet the farms on Darién, but the timing was ‘right’, the Glorious Revolution had prevailed, there had been a grim century of strife with two crowns on one King’s head, then no head on one King, and back again.

    Anyway, anyone, be kind enough to give me a reason why, (language differences apart), the Dominican Republic would wish to unite with Haiti, simply because they share the island of Hispaniola? I can see what Haiti might get out of such a union, I can’t see any upside for the Dominican Republic in such an arrangement.

    The funny thing I found in 2014 was that I could find no reference whatsoever from either side about the consequences of independence in terms of citizenship after separation. Who would be ‘Scottish’, who would be ‘British’, what rights to work/reside across the border would there be? Why should the UK have honoured passports issued to citizens of what had become a foreign country?

    And as we approach the centenary of Ireland’s departure from the UK (and Northern Ireland’s admission), who now actually thinks Ireland’s independence from the UK should be reversed, on either side of the border?

  • Raymond

    Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. This is an astonishing read. If true, it’s ‘Watergate’ astonishing. It’s ‘very prominent people are going to jail’ astonishing: https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2021/01/my-sworn-evidence-on-the-sturgeon-affair/?fbclid=IwAR3NDqjWvuB1JyTXVYw4PcJdZm9ynZq11_53v0TFKYD3KxYrM-PdkjcoGyA

  • APL

    Raymond: “It’s ‘very prominent people are going to jail’ astonishing:”

    Good read, but I can tell you now, no one will go to jail.

  • Raymond

    APL: I hope you’re wrong 😉