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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

SNP Hate-Finder General strikes again

It’s been some months since Mr S last reported on the antics of James Dornan, the SNP MSP and amateur Hate-Finder General. The gaffe-prone Glaswegian managed, in the space of just one week, to get himself embroiled in multiple minor scandals after accusing an Edinburgh bus company had stopped services on St Patrick’s Day because of ‘anti-Irish racism’ (an untrue claim for which he had no evidence) and then for refusing to apologise for claiming Rangers’ players had sung a sectarian tune (another untrue claim based on poorly-doctored footage). Three weeks later he also told the Catholic leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg: ‘If your God exists you will undoubtedly

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

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

It’s Green on Greenpeace at green conference

It’s some time since Steerpike last checked on the Scottish Greens, the minor party in Holyrood’s little-loved coalition government. The indy-loving eco-warriors celebrated their best results in May’s parliamentary elections before quickly resuming their favoured role as SNP enablers-in-chief, taking up ministerial roles as their price to keep Nicola Sturgeon in Bute House.  A not-so magnificent seven currently take the party whip up in Edinburgh; among them is Ross Greer, the charisma vacuum best known for hoping for the death of the then critically ill Margaret Thatcher, for calling Churchill ‘a white supremacist mass murderer and declaring that ‘nothing would thrill me more than for Buckingham Palace to burn to the ground.’ In a party led

Nicola Sturgeon is flailing in response to the Budget

The big tax and spend budget. More Gordon Brown than George Osborne. Sunak’s spending spree. However you wish to describe it, one thing is clear: Rishi Sunak’s budget marks a radical departure from previous Conservative chancellors. And while it might have ruffled the feathers of some Tories, it’s also causing problems for the SNP. In some ways the break from Tory convention is no surprise. Calls by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2020 for rich countries to spend their way out of the pandemic – and then further calls this year to shell out to boost recovery – signalled a new economic orthodoxy that Sunak has tapped into. Austerity is

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

Sturgeon is playing politics in her fight with the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court judgment striking down a couple of Acts of the Scottish parliament has been greeted with typical outrage from the SNP. Nicola Sturgeon has been busy fulminating that she is now ‘unable to fully protect children’s rights’. But the First Minister shouldn’t be surprised by this legal defeat: there was little chance of it going any other way. In spite of Sturgeon’s fury, the two Acts in question were not actually very significant. The more high-profile one sought with much fanfare to incorporate into Scots law a treaty little-known to most of us outside the progressive establishment, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The other was aimed at incorporating

Why Boris is losing his fight against Sturgeon

Gavin Barwell has made a good point, albeit inadvertently. Theresa May’s former chief of staff has a book out, imaginatively titled Chief of Staff, and in it he touches upon the question of Brexit and Scottish independence. Noting that Boris Johnson is unpopular north of the border, the now Baron Barwell of Croydon says: ‘The UK government is on strong ground arguing that it is not the right time for a second independence referendum — polls show Scottish voters want the immediate focus to be on recovery from the pandemic — but the democratic mandate for the question to be asked again at some point is clear.’ No. It. Is.

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

Will Scottish independence really be ‘Brexit times ten’?

Scottish civil servants are to start work on a ‘detailed prospectus’ for independence so the Scottish government can hold another referendum ‘when the Covid crisis has passed’, Nicola Sturgeon announced earlier this month. The irony of this – coming just days before the Office for National Statistics reported that the percentage of Scots testing positive in a single week for Covid-19 equated to around one in 45 people – was lost on the First Minister. These things happen when you’re busy fighting to free your people from the tyranny of liberal democracy and free society in one of the richest places on earth. Deputy First Minister John Swinney subsequently went further when he promised a

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,

The shame of the SNP’s grubby power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens

This afternoon Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, co-leaders of the Scottish Greens, will become ministers in Nicola Sturgeon’s government. The appointments come after Green members ratified a cooperation agreement over the weekend. The unity pact is a strategic masterstroke by Sturgeon, handing her an overall majority at Holyrood, insulating her from internal SNP criticism and coopting a rival nationalist party. There is one midge in the porridge, however, and it’s this: the Scottish Greens are unhinged. Not merely eccentric or a little outside the mainstream, but full-blown, solar-powered, honest-to-Gaia cranks. For an illustration, consider a motion debated at their autumn 2015 conference in Glasgow. I was a political reporter back

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

A Scotsman’s home is no longer his castle

If you suggest to an English politician that your home should be your castle to use as you like, he will probably nod. Tell that to a member of the SNP ruling class in Bruntsfield or Kelvingrove, however, and they will take any such view as a challenge to be overcome. A couple of years ago, following a public consultation answered by a whacking 122 respondents, the SNP quietly changed Scottish building regulations. The new rules allow the government at a future date to order every homeowner in Scotland to install smoke detectors and other safety devices of a type dictated by it, whether they liked it or not. That

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 blind spot in the SNP’s ‘war on drink’

Scotland’s grim reputation for abnormally high drug fatalities has become embedded in the public consciousness over the past year. The fact that fake benzodiazepines (‘street valium’) can be procured for 50p a pill on the streets of Dundee and Glasgow is now common knowledge, as is Scotland’s unenviable place at the top of Europe’s drug deaths league table. However, belated attention to this crisis should not allow signs of another to slip below the radar. New figures from National Records of Scotland (NRS) show a 17 per cent surge in alcohol-specific deaths between 2019 and 2020, a rise from 1,020 to 1,190 in the space of 12 months, what NRS