Nicola sturgeon

Sturgeon’s sneers at the Scottish press

Nationalism, grievance politics and a refusal to accept results which don’t go your way are not the only things Nicola Sturgeon has in common with Donald Trump. For Scotland’s First Minister has launched something of a war on the press in recent weeks, repeatedly rubbishing reporters and outlets which dare to question her handling of Covid.  Unfortunately for Sturgeon, this crusade against supposed ‘fake news’ has worked about as well as the SNP’s handling of education, health and criminal justice over the past 14 years. For her hapless Holyrood government has been forced into no less than three U-turns in five days – despite Sturgeon ridiculing journalists who point out the error of

The SNP’s mountain of mendacity

The Scottish National Party’s great and continuing success has been to mobilize a large part of the Scottish population to see England and the English as a more or less malign force. In this, the party has connected with and deepened strong currents of thought and belief in Scots culture, especially in the 20th century. The country’s most famed and lauded poet, Hugh MacDiarmid (Christopher Grieve), its most influential ideologist, Tom Nairn and its most prominent literary novelist, James Kelman have all adopted long-running acidic views of the southern neighbour. The Scottish sense of resentment against the elephantine presence of England in the UK, and the view, only partly stated,

SNP latest: ‘future of our planet’ demands indyref2

It’s the SNP’s second annual national conference this weekend and already the organ-grinders are turning out their favourite hits. The National – a self-described newspaper in breach of the Trade Descriptions Act – has again combined the stridency of Pravda with the editorial values of the Beano. Adoring coverage of the conference was kicked off with its opening day headline: “‘Shameful’ Tory plan for ‘Union division’ in the army” – a ‘story’ about the British Army being, er, proud of Britain. Elsewhere Kate Forbes, the neophyte nationalist, has insisted that independence, not health or education, will dominate the four-day rally – because God forbid the state of public services be of interest

What’s the evidence for Scotland’s vaccine passports?

Nicola Sturgeon is considering extending vaccine passports to Scotland’s cinemas, theatres and pubs. ‘We are also considering whether an expansion of the scheme to cover more settings would be justified and prudent given the current state of the pandemic,’ the First Minister said yesterday: she’ll decide next Tuesday. As she mulls, what data will she have to go on? Her deputy, John Swinney, conceded earlier this month that the government doesn’t have much in the way of evidence: the data is ‘impossible to segment,’ he says. Yet he told The Spectator at an event this morning that he still believed vaccine passports had a ‘role to play’ — pointing to

More shameless Sturgeon selfie summitry

If your poll rankings are tanking, your government is mired in sleaze and you can’t run a functioning health service, there’s only one thing for it: head to COP26 for a photoshoot. Leaders on both sides of the border have adopted this approach in recent days, with Boris Johnson heading to the eco-jamboree in a doomed attempt to ward off questions about Paterson-gate. But it’s Nicola Sturgeon’s attention-seeking antics which have caught Steerpike’s eye, given the amount of photos the First Minister has been posting all over Twitter. Mr S of course was among the first to report on Sturgeon’s selfless summitry, just two days into into the fortnight-long farago of

The strange greenwashing of Nicola Sturgeon

It was only a matter of time. When the Scottish Green party entered government alongside the SNP in August, it was clear Nicola Sturgeon would use the party as a shield against her questionable record and stance on the environment. The surprise is that it happened so quickly and so blatantly. This week we had the extraordinary situation of the Scottish Greens attacking Greenpeace for daring to push the First Minister to explicitly come out against exploitation of the Cambo oil field off Shetland. Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said Greenpeace was unfairly criticising Sturgeon and is ‘not particularly politically active in Scotland’. Ramping up the ‘othering’ of Greenpeace, Harvie’s

Six of the worst Humza Yousaf scandals

It can be a difficult task picking out the most incompetent minister in the Scottish government. There’s Sturgeon’s deputy John Swinney, the man who faced two votes of confidence in seven months. There’s Shona Robison, resurrected in May having been forced to resign in 2018 amid near-universal criticism of her management of the health brief. And of course there’s Transport minister Michael Matheson, a man with no discernible achievements to his name, now knee-deep in the ferries scandal. But of all the SNP’s top talent surely no man has blundered more regularly than Humza Yousaf. In the decade since his election to Holyrood he has established himself as the Forrest Gump

Stephen Daisley

Why is the SNP gagging charities?

The SNP handles criticism as well as the Incredible Hulk handles irritation. It’s why the party’s own parliamentarians are banned from making critical comments. The Nationalists are an independence-first organisation and rely on two important psychological tools. The first is projecting Nicola Sturgeon as the ‘Chief Mammy’ (her own term; ‘mammy’ being Scottish slang for ‘mother’), a national figure more akin to the Queen than the Prime Minister. The second is framing any institutional or organisational dissent not as standard, democratic debate (in the way that businesses, unions and charities routinely take the UK Government to task) but as something more controversial, political — even unpatriotic. As such, it is entirely

Seven awful Indyref predictions seven years on

On Saturday it was the seventh anniversary of the Scottish vote on independence – how time flies. That contest saw a decisive ten point majority against separation; not that you’d know it from the way Nicola Sturgeon conducts her affairs. The SNP First Minister succeeded Alex Salmond in the post just weeks after the plebiscite and has spent most of her time in office talking tough and delivering little on making Scexit a reality.   In many ways it’s a good thing the vote did not go the SNP’s way. There’s the whole 300 years of history shtick of course but as the calculations of the 2013 White Paper on independence make

Humza Yousaf has revealed a dark truth about the SNP

American journalist Michael Kinsley once observed that in Washington DC a ‘gaffe’ should be understood as a moment in which a politician or public official inadvertently blurts out a truth it would have been better, and certainly wiser, to leave unsaid. By that standard Humza Yousaf, currently serving as health secretary in the Scottish government, is a mighty friend to journalists. Pondering the meaning and significance of what has become known as the Alex Salmond affair, Yousaf told the comedian Matt Forde that the conflict between Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon was ‘really upsetting because it could have done our cause a hell of a lot of damage – it still

Sturgeon is indulging her conspiratorial supporters

Nicola Sturgeon’s speech to the SNP’s conference earlier this afternoon was mostly standard fare (Covid, climate, coalition with the Greens, Universal Credit) but towards the end, a section on Brexit and independence stood out. She told the faithful: Westminster will use all that damage that they have inflicted as an argument for yet more Westminster control.By making us poorer, they’ll say we can’t afford to be independent. By cutting our trade with the EU, they’ll say we are too dependent on the rest of the UK. By causing our working population to fall, they’ll say the country is ageing too fast.They want us to believe we are powerless in the

Does Nicola Sturgeon care more about oil revenue or climate change?

‘Now, as I’ve hopefully made clear throughout all of my remarks, the North Sea will continue to produce oil for decades to come. It still contains up to 20 billion barrels of recoverable reserves. Our primary aim – and I want to underline and emphasis this – our primary aim is to maximise economic recovery of those reserves.’ The words are from a speech made in June 2017, a few months after the Paris Agreement that aimed to limit climate change came into effect. A speech by a pro-oil Conservative, or perhaps the head of an industry group working on behalf of the oil sector? No. They are, in fact,

Why is Sturgeon hiding behind the JCVI?

For much of its 58-year long existence, the scientists who sat on the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) lived a life of happy obscurity. But now the poor men and women who make up its membership have been thrust into the limelight amid furious Whitehall rows over whether 12 to 15 year-olds should be given the Covid vaccine.  Members of Boris Johnson’s government are said to disagree with the JCVI’s rulings but have had their hands tied by the committee’s status as a statutory basis for giving advice in England and Wales – though intriguingly not Northern Ireland or Scotland. Judging by Nicola Sturgeon’s recent comments however, you would be forgiven for not

Has Nicola Sturgeon run out of ideas for Scotland?

On Tuesday, another 4,323 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Scotland. A reminder, if it were needed, that the pandemic continues even though 80 per cent of the adult population are now fully vaccinated. The schools are back and the start of the new university year next month suggests more new cases are all but certain. The worst of this iteration of the pandemic may be in the past but it isn’t over. Indeed, it is so far from being over that the First Minister felt it necessary to warn that a fresh round of restrictions may be necessary should case numbers continue to rise. Even if that proves unnecessary

When will Nicola Sturgeon see sense on Scotland’s mounting deficit?

UK borrowing in 2020-21 hit a record level of almost £300 billion, representing 14.2 per cent of British GDP, reported the Office for National Statistics in June. In the face of the biggest spending challenge since the Second World War, the Treasury, backed by one of the world’s most established central banks, stepped up to supply all the funding needed to pay for furlough, business support and a highly successful vaccination programme. Now imagine a prime minister in receipt of those borrowing numbers announcing that the future path for the UK is clear: we must disband the Treasury and Debt Management Office; shut down our central bank; start again from scratch

The rise of the Nationalist deficit conspiracy

On the face of it, the numbers are damning. The Scottish government has released the latest annual edition of Scotland’s public finances. It does not paint a pretty picture. Scotland’s notional deficit has more than doubled from £15.8 billion to £36.3 billion, taking the nation’s fiscal shortfall from 8.8 per cent of GDP to 22.4 per cent. This figure factors in a geographical share of North Sea oil revenue and compares to a UK deficit of 14.2 per cent. That is not only the largest deficit of the devolved era but more than double that seen in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2009/10. If anything, GERS puts

The SNP-Green alliance is a victory for the cranks

The SNP’s nationalist outriders, the Scottish Green party, are reported to be within touching distance of agreeing the terms of a formal cooperation agreement that will see them enter government for the first time. What will this mean for Scotland and its governing party? On the face of it, not a great deal. Some Green MSPs (the party has seven, including co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie) will get ministerial posts but will have minimal impact on SNP policy, which will likely remain tightly controlled by Sturgeon and her inner sanctum. The SNP will hope that the optics of hooking up with the Greens will boost their environmental credentials in

No, Boris didn’t ‘snub’ Sturgeon

One of the reasons the SNP has dominated Scottish politics for so long is that it is extremely adept at turning any crisis into a political crisis. So it is with the recent figures revealing that the Scottish government has overseen a truly appalling rise in drugs deaths over the ten years it has been in office. Scotland now has the highest per capita rates in Europe, several times higher than those of England or Wales. Yet if you ask Nicola Sturgeon, this is all somehow Westminster’s fault. The area is reserved and the Misuse of Drugs Act prevents Scotland introducing safe consumption rooms — so-called ‘shooting galleries’ — which

Can Scotland reach net zero without the Union?

What’s more important to supporters of Scottish secession, achieving the break-up of Britain or seeing Scotland successfully transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions? It is a difficult question for environmentally conscious independence supporters to face, but face it they must, for it is becoming increasingly clear that Scotland cutting itself out of the UK will see England, Wales and Northern Ireland power ahead to net zero while Scotland gets left behind. This month saw the publication of the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) latest fiscal risks report. The bi-annual document identifies and models potential shocks to the public finances. The new analysis has lengthy, detailed sections dedicated to examining

Why should we expect Nicola Sturgeon to support Team GB?

It hasn’t been a great month for Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. First, there was the announcement that an official police investigation would take place into missing money from donations supposedly ‘ring-fenced’ for a future independence campaign; then questions about why Scotland’s vaccination targets had been missed led, apparently, to Sturgeon’s ‘Trump like meltdown’ (how she must have hated that comparison); and to cap it all off, Team GB started off rather well at the Tokyo Olympics. The sporting success led to politicians from all hues of the political spectrum tweeting their congratulations: all hues save the bright yellow of the Nats that is – from whence silence. Not one