The SNP’s latest transparency gaffe

It seems that the spirit of COP26 is still alive and well in Edinburgh. For the SNP’s parliamentarians have begun recycling their speeches at Holyrood, regardless of the occasion. Amid claims that the Scottish nationalists are nothing but a bunch of unthinking, zombie–like drones, blindly following the latest directive from Bute House, backbencher Willie Coffey MSP has decided to, er, conform exactly to type.  For the Kilmarnock MSP caused laughter in the Scottish parliament yesterday by delivering a concluding speech when standing up to introduce a debate. Coffey opened his closing remarks by saying:  Thank you, Presiding Officer. I thought that I was closing the debate, so this is a closing speech, as

Nicola Sturgeon’s secret state

As Westminster grapples with the P&O scandal, a very different farce over ferries has been playing out in Scotland. In the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum, a Glasgow shipbuilder went bust and was rescued by a Scottish National party adviser. It was later awarded a £97 million government contract to build two ferries. Neither emerged. The cost now stands at £240 million and last month Scots learned that there will be another eight-month delay to the boats. What happened? Why did so much public money change hands? Was the taxpayer swindled? Those trying to get to the bottom of these questions have hit a problem common to Nicola Sturgeon’s

Ian Blackford’s six step guide to untold riches

Inflation. Energy spikes. Tax hikes. Low growth. It’s a tough time for hard-pressed Britons at present. The cost of living crisis has begun to bite and millions are starting to suffer. But not to worry: in these dark times, one man has emerged to champion the destitute and the needy. Step forward, Ian Blackford, the doughty defender of the dispossessed, who used yesterday’s Prime Ministers’ Questions to take up the cudgels of the nation’s underclass. The SNP’s Westminster leader – posing as a kind of Scottish Martin Lewis – inquired of Boris Johnson, with trembling lip, how British families are expected to afford April’s energy price spike.  Noble stuff, even if Blackford’s own leader

The SNP’s ferry mess

Eight years ago, and with the independence referendum one month away, the Clyde’s last commercial shipyard went into administration. The collapse of Ferguson’s not only threatened the jobs of 70 shipbuilders: it was an inconvenient symbol of industrial decline right as the SNP was trying to parlay rhetoric about an independent Scotland being ‘one of the world’s wealthiest nations’ into a Yes vote on polling day. The Scottish government intervened and quickly arranged for a billionaire adviser to then First Minister Alex Salmond to buy Ferguson’s. One year later, the Scottish government awarded Ferguson Marine, as it now was, a £97m fixed price contract to build two ferries but the

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

No, Scottish independence is not like the war in Ukraine

Perhaps it’s the absence of any oppression of their own country that compels Scottish nationalists to latch onto the oppression of others. On Monday, Michelle Thomson, an SNP MSP, retweeted news of Ukraine’s emergency application for EU membership, adding: ‘Delighted for Ukraine. It’s [sic] just goes to show what political will can achieve. Remember this Scotland!’ The SNP’s current position is for Scotland to secede from the UK then apply for membership of the EU, a process nationalists have previously suggested Brussels would fast-track. Thomson came in for a barrage of criticism and later deleted the tweet, admitting it was ‘insensitive’. She is taking all the flack but she’s hardly

Women-only carriages are a bonkers idea

Here we go again. Another suggestion, this time by the SNP transport minister, Jenny Gilruth, to introduce women-only carriages on public transport in order to address the ‘systemic problem’ of women feeling too scared to travel ‘because of men’s behaviour’. Does that mean it’s okay for men to sexually assault women in mixed carriages? Rather than addressing the fact that rape is obscenely under prosecuted in this country (with around 1 per cent of reported rapes ending in a conviction in England and Wales) the minister is following in the footsteps of the likes of Jeremy Corbyn in coming up with a bonkers idea to keep women safe. How about


Just how impartial are the SNP’s Covid experts?

Those heading up Scotland’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic have had some well-documented trouble separating their fandom for Nicola Sturgeon from their public health role. Professor Devi Sridhar, a member of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Advisory Group, has made so many appearances in Steerpike she merits her own byline. Sridhar has previously gushed that: I truly believe … the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, whatever your opinion on politics, independence has tried to do a good job through this crisis. She has tried to brief the public, she has tried to message clearly, she has tried to listen to the scientists. Claiming that she is ‘fortunate to live in Scotland through


Nicola Sturgeon’s pensions untruths

If Prince Harry really does want to stamp out ‘disinformation’ he ought to have a look at what’s going up in Scotland. Two of the SNP’s leading lights have claimed in recent weeks that Scottish pensions would be guaranteed in a post-Scexit nation, despite both the UK government and independent pension experts pointing out the opposite. And now the nationalist-in-chief, the great- greivance-merchant herself Nicola Sturgeon has decided to throw her weight behind the claim. In an interview last night with ITV’s Representing Borders programme, the First Minister said that, while she accepts ‘on an ongoing basis it will be for the Scottish government to fund Scottish pensions’ – a tacit rebuke to

Rod Liddle

Nicola Sturgeon’s last laugh

I was delighted to discover that the University of Bristol has been advising students how to address those who identify as ‘catgender’. These are people who ‘strongly identify with cats’ or may have ‘delusions relating to being a cat’. Apparently these individuals ‘may use nya/nyan pronouns’. Nya is the Japanese word for ‘miaow’. I am not sure why they should use the Japanese word for miaow, rather than our own perfectly good word, although I understand that a lot of young people are very interested in certain aspects of Japanese culture, such as anime and manga (although not other aspects of Japanese culture such as discipline, deference and fortitude). Perhaps

SNP councillor: ‘Prosecute Jimmy Carr’s audience’

Oh dear. It seems that the most illiberal party in Great Britain is at it again. In the nationwide haste to condemn the comedian Jimmy Carr for his remarks about the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community in his Netflix special, an elected councillor from (who else?) the SNP has called for prosecutions. Not just for Carr himself, mind you; Julie McKenzie, who sits on Argyll and Bute council, wants the many members of Carr’s audience prosecuted too for ‘applauding’ the remarks.  The show, called His Dark Material, was released on Christmas Day but received widespread attention last Friday after a clip was posted and shared online. Carr said:  When people talk about the

Fact check: are the SNP’s pensions claims right?

Ian Blackford has been making the most of current Tory difficulties, railing against the corrosion of public trust on Monday caused by partygate. But is the SNP Westminster leader really best placed to talk? Mr S has already pointed out his party’s own lamentable record on inquiries and civil servants up at Holyrood. And now it seems the nationalists are happy to indulge in outright lies as to the future of Scottish pensioners in a post-Scexit nation. For speaking to the Scotland’s Choice podcast in December, Blackford was asked what would happen to Scotland’s state pension if the country voted for independence. He replied: Absolutely nothing. The important point is that those who

The SNP’s partygate deceit

For weeks now, much of Westminster has been in full hue and cry of Boris Johnson over partygate. While some of the PM’s critics have legitimate grievances; others frankly, do not. Mr S has rarely seen a scandal spawn so much cant, humbug and windbaggery, as life-long opponents of the PM queue up to issue yet another demand for him to go. And what better embodiment of such self-righteous moralising than ardent Boris-basher, Ian Blackford? The SNP leader popped up at yesterday’s Commons debate to play another game of Blackford bingo. All the usual buzzwords were there: ‘public trust’, ‘shame’, ‘dignity’. Honour in public life – drink! Tory sleaze and corruption –

Sex, trans rights and the Scottish census

It takes some doing to make a census interesting. So congratulations to the National Records of Scotland (NRS). NRS, which administers the decennial survey, is facing a judicial review over its guidance on the document. On the question of sex, it states that ‘if you are transgender the answer you give can be different from what is on your birth certificate’. That is, something other than your legal sex. Feminist group Fair Play For Women will challenge this guidance at the Court of Session on 2 February. If this sounds familiar, it’s because similar guidance for last year’s census in England and Wales was challenged at the High Court and found to

To save the Union, ignore Gordon Brown

As he blasts his way through the remaining support beams of the UK constitution, Gordon Brown is doing more to deliver Scottish independence than the SNP. The former Prime Minister is reportedly poised to recommend that Labour adopt ‘devo max’ as a policy, which would see the SNP-run Scottish parliament handed yet another tranche of powers. Only defence and foreign policy would remain in the hands of Westminster: everything else would be at the whim of Nicola Sturgeon. The theory is that by increasing the powers of Holyrood, the Scots’ appetite for independence will be sated. But is no evidence for this, and 23 years of evidence against it. From

SNP Hate-Finder General declares war on refs

Ping! An email in Steerpike’s inbox lands, subject line: ‘SNP’s attack on refs.’ Is this, at last, a moment of nationalist self-reflection? Have the 45 per cent-ers finally clocked most Scots don’t want another plebiscite? Could some SNP drone finally have switched off the autopilot to question the wisdom of a neverendum? Sadly for Scotland, the answer to all these questions is: no. For it seems that James Dornan, the hard-of-thinking MSP who frequently features in Steerpike’s pages, is once again up to his usual tricks. Dornan of course is the ‘racist buses’ conspiracy theorist who claimed in June that an Edinburgh transport company had stopped services on St Patrick’s Day because of

Sturgeon’s war on business is strangling Scotland’s economy

There was one minor and one big surprise in the Scottish government’s latest budget, which was set out by Kate Forbes, the finance secretary, last week. The minor surprise was the Sturgeon administration’s decision to provide less business rates relief, in comparison with England, to the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors during the next financial year. Businesses in Scotland will be eligible for 50 per cent relief, capped at £27,500 per rate payer, but only for the first three months of the 2022-23 financial year. In England, the same businesses will be eligible for 50 per cent relief for the whole financial year. A winding down of rates relief was

Sturgeon: all cases will be Omicron by Christmas

Nicola Sturgeon has said that Scotland should expect a ‘tsunami’ of Covid cases, so has said Christmas parties should be cancelled and household contacts of any positive case — Omicron or not — should isolate for ten days regardless of vaccination status. Given that Scotland and England have very similar Covid profiles (both in waves and vaccination) this is relevant to the whole of the UK. But what especially jumps out is the prediction from Scottish government modelling that Omicron will account for all Covid cases by Christmas. Her document: Omicron in Scotland — evidence paper released during Sturgeon’s TV appearance pointed to modelling to suggest that half of new cases could be

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