The SNP’s ludicrous by-election bill

Another day, another financial catastrophe for the SNP. This time it concerns the recent Rutherglen by-election, which saw the nationalists lose the Westminster seat to Labour in a humiliating defeat. But the by-election wasn’t the only embarrassing loss facing the Nats: their party bank balance took a hit too. It transpires that the SNP spent many thousands of pounds more on their campaign than their competitors. Talk about adding insult to injury… First Minister Humza Yousaf’s party spent £96,000 on their failed by-election campaign, which amounted to a staggering £14,000 more than Scottish Labour. ‘What were they spending their money on?’ laughed one Labour canvasser. ‘They were nowhere to be


Cameron dodges the question on Greensill

Well, well, well. It may have been seven years since David Cameron was last involved in frontline politics, but he’s certainly not forgotten the skill of a political interview. Quizzed this evening by BBC political editor Chris Mason, Cameron managed to, er, dodge just about every question he was asked when it came to the Greensill scandal. Two years ago, Cameron made approximately £8.2 million promoting finance business Greensill Capital, which later collapsed as criminal inquiries into its alleged fraud began. Prior to the company’s collapse, Cameron had intensively lobbied civil servants in 2020 to allow Greensill to lend up to £10 billion in emergency Covid loans. But when quizzed


Scottish nationalists hail Cameron’s return

Out with the old and in with the even older. With Lord Cameron today making his return to government as Foreign Secretary, Mr S was intrigued to glean the reaction north of the border. It mustn’t be forgotten, after all, that Cameron is the only UK Prime Minister to have allowed the Nats their hallowed independence referendum, gambling the fate of the union… As Tory politicians murmur about their, er, mixed reaction to Cameron’s return, some Scottish nationalists have been far more effusive. Speaking exclusively to Steerpike, former first minister Alex Salmond admitted that Cameron’s return to government ‘now provides an opportunity for the independence movement’. The current Alba party

England and Scotland are forever bound in mourning

Today, on Remembrance Day, wreaths will be laid to remember the fallen at 11am at the Stone of Remembrance. It follows the firing of Edinburgh Castle’s One O’clock Gun at 11am yesterday on Armistice Day. In London, there was a firing of guns from Horse Guards Parade and a procession past the Cenotaph. Last Remembrance Day, Nicola Sturgeon lead a wreath outside Edinburgh City Chambers. Humza Yousaf will likely do the same this morning. The history of Scotland and England is one of shared war. It’s only relatively recently, then, that Scots have fought alongside the English, playing a major role in the British army. The union came through war and conquest.

Stephen Daisley

Why is the Welsh parliament condemning Israel?

This week, the Welsh parliament announced that it ‘condemns the Israeli Government’s indiscriminate attacks on Gaza’ and ‘calls on the international community to…bring pressure to bear on the Israeli Government to end the siege of Gaza which contravenes international law and the basic human rights of Palestinian civilians’. Those were the terms of a motion laid by Plaid Cymru and passed by Members of the Senedd by 24 to 19, with 13 abstentions. The motion was not entirely without merit: it condemned Hamas’s attacks on Israeli civilians and called for the hostages to be released. But this story nonetheless offers a signal from the devolution crisis that no one in

Fraser Nelson

In praise of Humza Yousaf’s Israel response

Humza Yousaf is one of the most prominent Muslims in public life. This is tangential to his being elected SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland, but has handed him an unexpected role during the recent Israel-Gaza crisis. It’s one that he is taking seriously and, in my view, discharging well. Yousaf doesn’t discuss his faith often – few leaders do – but he takes it seriously and released a picture of himself praying with his family in Bute House on his first day in the job. At a time when politicians tend to cover up their faith, it was quite a move – he was saying (as his rival


SNP minister runs up £11,000 iPad bill

The SNP’s finances are back at the top of the news agenda. Michael Matheson, Holyrood’s hopeless health secretary has somehow managed to rack up an £11,000 bill on his parliamentary iPad. It appears that when the government minister was holidaying in Morocco with his family, he forgot to switch on his WiFi. But instead of admitting to the foolishness of his blunder and paying up, Matheson has begrudgingly made a ‘donation’ of £3,000 from his publicly funded office allowances. ‘Shameless’ doesn’t quite cut it… Holyrood insiders told the Telegraph that the former net zero secretary refused to pay the remaining £7,935.74 from his own purse, deferring it instead to the Scottish parliament.


Did hapless Humza mislead parliament?

The Holyrood WhatsApp drama can now be upgraded from ‘mystery’ to ‘scandal’. As if not handing over important messages wasn’t bad enough, the First Minister and his deputy have today been accused of misleading the Scottish parliament on the UK Covid Inquiry. It seems pantomime season starts early north of the border… Yousaf and deputy first minister Shona Robison told the Chamber last week that the Scottish government had only been asked for Covid WhatsApp messages in September. It now turns out this isn’t quite the case. After the Covid Inquiry requested the Scottish government set out the timeline of events in full, it became clear that it had first

The ugly truth about the SNP’s white roses

Anyone paying close attention to television coverage of the King’s Speech on Tuesday may have noticed that SNP MPs in attendance looked as if their next appointment was a wedding reception, with white roses on their lapels. In fact, the Nats wear the rose in honour of poet Hugh MacDiarmid, a founder of the National Party of Scotland which merged with the Scottish party in 1934, creating the SNP. The nationalists’ boutonnière references MacDiarmid’s poem ‘The Little White Rose’, a drab little celebration of the sort of insularism the SNP insists doesn’t exist within its brand of nationalism. If you think my critique harsh, judge for yourself: ‘The rose of

Stephen Daisley

It’s time to have a think about devolution

The Scottish government has launched another white paper on independence, this time on the subject of migration. It is the sixth paper in the ‘Building a New Scotland’ series setting out the SNP-Green administration’s vision for a post-UK Scotland. The substance of the document isn’t as important as the fact of its existence. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Scottish parliament cannot legislate for an independence referendum. The UK parliament shows no inclination to permit another referendum. So why is the Scottish government using public resources to promote a prospectus for a constitutional event that is opposed by Westminster and may never happen? This is yet another reason why


Ash Regan in Green Terf war

A new row is dominating Holyrood’s corridors of power. What is it this time? War, famine, the never-ending ferries crisis? No, far more important: desk allocation in the Scottish parliament. Yes, it seems that the prospect of, er, being next door to Ash Regan has thrown the Scottish Greens into something of a tizzy. Following her shock defection to Alba last weekend, the onetime SNP leadership contender now has to find a new office. But the only space available is unfortunately on the same floor as her erstwhile coalition partners. Now there are reports that transgender Green staff members have raised concerns about their potential proximity to the gender critical politician.

Scots are paying a high price for the SNP’s independence fixation

Nothing works anymore. If there is a mantra for modern Britain, including Scotland, this is it. If Westminster’s shame is the farce around HS2, Scotland’s is the two unlaunched ferries on the Clyde, spiralling inexorably in cost with a launch date disappearing into the future. They are emblems for so much else: after 16 years in power, the litter of the SNP’s unmet promises – from reform of education, to the closing of health inequalities, to the missed targets on net zero – continues to rise. Today, the sixth white paper on independence has been published. And its publication exposes the problem: the constitutional question has meant other serious policy-making

The SNP’s Covid WhatsApp debacle

You have to hand it to the Scottish government: the deletion of WhatsApp messages is good preemptive news management, whether accidental, by default or deliberate. Once journalists get their hands on them, those curt, day-to-day messages can be just a tad embarrassing — as this week’s expletive-laden evidence to the UK Covid Inquiry confirms. The Scottish government may not, however, be subjected to the same level of message scrutiny. Just how many WhatsApps have been deleted we still do not know. The Scottish government policy on message deletion was confirmed yesterday in a convoluted statement from the deputy first minister Shona Robison, which came just after Dominic Cummings had finished giving


Kate Forbes’ WhatsApp jibe at Nicola Sturgeon

Not all is rotten in the state of Scotland. For at least former member of Nicola Sturgeon’s ancien régime appears to have actually believed her talk of ‘openness’ and ‘transparency’. Step forward Kate Forbes, the former Finance Secretary now banished to the backbenches. Amid the ongoing palaver about the Scottish government’s missing WhatsApps, the one-time SNP leadership candidate has stepped forward to announce that she has retained all of her Covid WhatsApp messages – unlike, er, certain colleagues. Even more than that: she has already handed them to the Covid Inquiry. Two gold stars for Forbes! Hapless Humza could only dream of such competence… This being politics, Mr S could not help


Espionage fears hit Holyrood

It’s spooky season in Holyrood. Halloween might now be over but it seems that there are still scares in the air. Following the shock claims of an alleged Chinese spy working at the heart of Westminster, it seems that the parliamentary authorities up in Edinburgh are now taking no chances either. An invitation to a briefing has gone out this morning to MSPs and their staff, inviting them along to meet with officials from the UK’s national technical authorities. The invitation begins thus: Dear Members and Members’ staff Have you ever wondered what could be lurking in your benign-looking gift? Ever wondered why, on an official trip abroad, your room


Questions remain about the Scottish government’s Covid WhatsApps

The mystery of the missing WhatsApps continues. Deputy First Minister Shona Robison took to the floor at Holyrood today to issue an update about the Scottish Government’s interactions with the UK Covid Inquiry. Amid ongoing concern about whether ministers deleted public records, Robison’s contributions don’t offer a whole lot of clarity… Addressing the Scottish parliament today, Robison said that all requested Scottish Government messages that are still ‘held’ will be shared ‘in full and unredacted’ by 6 November. Any deleted messages ‘will be for individuals to explain to the inquiries any actions they have taken in relation to records retention,’ she continued ominously. But ‘with regards to the Scottish Government’s records management


SNP in civil war over Ash Regan’s Alba defection

All is not well in nationalist circles. Veteran SNP MSP Fergus Ewing has now lashed out at the ‘petulant’ response of Humza Yousaf and the SNP leadership to Ash Regan’s defection to Alba. Steerpike can’t blame him — with hapless Humza’s muddled indy strategy confusing, er, just about everyone, they’re all back to fighting like Nats in a sack… The SNP is ‘having a sort of late adolescence, as I would see it,’ Ewing told Mr S. ‘A sort of troubled, angry patch of door slamming and getting in with the wrong crowd… But the thing about adolescents is they grow up,’ he added, hopefully. For his sake, Mr S

Is Sunak winning over Scottish voters with his petrol ban delay?

Fewer than one in five Scots can reliably be expected to vote for the Conservative party, but a poll this weekend showed that well over half are in favour of his delay on the banning of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. In rural areas, much of which is still considered SNP territory, this is nearer 70 per cent. The Tories aren’t popular north of the border — but Rishi Sunak’s green pushback rhetoric is making an impact on Scotland. Our electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Scotland is very poor. The government built a network which is now both dismally slow and almost unfeasibly unreliable. Now, the Prime


Humza Yousaf denies deleting his WhatsApps

The mystery of the missing WhatsApps gets murkier. The Scottish Sunday Mail revealed yesterday that Nicola Sturgeon ‘manually’ deleted WhatsApp messages from during the pandemic; her successor Humza Yousaf was one of the government figures who was reported as claiming that the relevant message data no longer exists. The First Minister denies this, however. ‘I’ve kept WhatsApp messages and fully intend to hand them over,’ Yousaf clarified today. The media debate now centres around whether the Scottish Government had a policy on social media messaging in place — and when exactly the messages of senior figures were deleted. Yousaf has today shed light on the first of these questions. In

What happened to Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid WhatsApps?

A great modern Scottish myth is that the handling of the coronavirus pandemic by government ministers in Edinburgh was vastly superior to that of their counterparts in London. This rather distasteful display of Scottish exceptionalism ignores the fact that where the UK government got things right, so did the Scottish and that, likewise, mistakes were replicated on both sides of the border. This should come as a surprise to nobody. Quite rightly, both the UK and Scottish governments moved in lockstep throughout the worst of the pandemic, with scientific advisers and ministers in regular cross-border contact. It’s not as if Sturgeon didn’t know that an inquiry would, in time, wish