The preventable death of the Scottish Tories

The Ruth Davidson era is over. It has been three years since the now Baroness Davidson stood down as leader of the Scottish Tories, but the last decade of opposition politics has belonged to her. It was Davidson who parlayed opposition to independence into tactical support for the Scottish Conservatives, convincing a section of older, blue-collar Labour voters to lend her their vote to stop the SNP. In doing so, she took the Tories from third to second place at Holyrood and, in 2017, to their biggest win in a general election since the days of Margaret Thatcher. What she failed to do was make the Scottish Tories a viable

Holyrood spends thousands on the National

Nicola Sturgeon’s latest independence wheeze might have received a near-universal panning but there’s one organ she can always count on for stellar support: the National. ‘SAVE THE DATE’ screamed its front page today, replete with ten pages of Pyongyang-style praise for the Dear Leader and her latest, brilliant move that will almost certainly fall short of legal reality. Still, at least the National get something in return for such fealty. For the Scottish Government under Sturgeon has spent thousands in recent years on purchasing hundreds of copies of the newspaper – even though it is available online or via a (cheaper) digital subscription. Some £5,456 has been spent on 5,371 individual

Sturgeon’s pay rise grandstanding

After apologising to witches and advocating nuclear armageddon, what next for Nicola Sturgeon? Why, a healthy dollop of virtue-signalling, of course. The selfie-loving satrap spotted an opportunity to put some clear blue water between her and Westminster this morning, leaping on a tweet from today’s No. 10 briefing that confirmed Boris Johnson would accept the forthcoming pay rise being given by IPSA to all MPs. Sturgeon declared to her 1.4 million followers on Twitter that: Ministers in @scotgov have not taken a pay rise since 2008 and I can confirm we will not do so this year either. We donate increases back to the public purse for spending on services. Where

Nicola Sturgeon’s Potemkin parliament

Is the word of a Scottish government minister worth anything? The question arises in the wake of the SNP’s Hate Crime Act which, among much else, creates the offence of ‘stirring up hatred’ against ‘transgender identity’. Feminist groups warned early on that the Bill’s language could see people who don’t believe that men can become women (or vice versa) prosecuted for what had hitherto been treated in law as legitimate expression. Prominent among these groups was MurrayBlackburnMackenzie (MBM), a policy analysis outfit whose principals boast extensive scholarship and years of experience inside the civil service. One of MBM’s principals, Lucy Hunter Blackburn, gave evidence to the Holyrood justice committee in

Maverick MSP lauds St Andrew as a nationalist icon

All too often, the massed rows behind Nicola Sturgeon at FMQs can resemble a scene from one of Stalin’s party congresses. Row after row of poker-faced nationalists dutifully banging their desks at the latest edict from on high, interjecting occasionally with the latest pre-approved attack line or standard softball question to the Dear Leader: an army of grey-suited cyber-men, without the heart. Yet the counter-argument to such a model of uninspired conformity can be found in the form of John Mason MSP, the maverick member for Glasgow Shettleston since 2011. Over the past decade, the nationalist nut has been more of a fixture in the national headlines than Rod Stewart or

Sunak backs the Union with cash, not love-bombs

Devolution has done so much to fracture the UK that, in Scotland, Rishi Sunak’s Budget is an event of the second order. Scottish interest in Budget day is typically limited to whisky duty, support for North Sea industries and the Barnett formula: the additional spending Scotland gets when the Chancellor splurges on England. Today’s Budget was for all of Britain. Not just Scotland, but Wales and Northern Ireland were weaved throughout Rishi Sunak’s speech. Quite apart from the fiscal or economic merits of the policies announced, the Chancellor’s speech was good politics. Not long after Sunak was promoted to the Treasury, I was told Scotland was a weak spot for him

Watch: Scottish Green leader’s attack on Prince Philip

The Scottish Parliament today met on a motion of condolence for the late Duke of Edinburgh. But while the main party leaders including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Tories’ Ruth Davidson paid eloquent tribute to Prince Philip’s seven decades of public service, the co-leader of the Scottish Greens felt no such compunction. Patrick Harvie told Holyrood that his party had considered boycotting the Holyrood tribute and criticised Prince Philip’s ‘extreme wealth, privilege and status’ by pleading that it would have been ‘wrong to give a performance of feelings not sincerely felt.’  For a man who spent his lifetime supporting nature conservation, including founding the World Wildlife Foundation, you might have thought Philip would

Can Alex Salmond’s plan to ‘game’ Holyrood’s voting system work?

Alex Salmond’s reemergence on the Scottish political scene as leader of the Alba party had a pantomimic quality – some cheers, some boos, and a lively mix of interest and anxiety about where the plot would now go with the principal boy back centre stage. But working out how the appearance of Salmond’s new party affects what happens is a considerable challenge, thanks to Scotland’s infernally complex voting system. To paraphrase Lord Palmerston’s reference to the Schleswig-Holstein question, it may be that only around three people truly understand the D’Hondt voting system employed in Scottish parliamentary elections, though there are probably more, who like the fabled German professor, have gone

Another stitch-up in the Salmond inquiry

It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up: just as Watergate exposed the workings of the Nixon White House the Salmond inquiry is giving the world a glimpse of how the SNP works in Edinburgh. And how the SNP-led committee investigating Nicola Sturgeon is shameless in its determination to rig the system. First, the committee tried not to publish Alex Salmond’s full evidence against Nicola Sturgeon citing legal reasons. That defence fell apart when The Spectator went to the High Court. Then, outrageously, the Crown Office (Scotland’s state prosecutors) told the committee to censor Salmond’s evidence. Leading to a question: what on earth was it playing at by interfering with parliament? Would the Crown Prosecution