What a bizarre situation we’ve reached in the politics of Scotland when we have elements of the Greater England press in London making common cause with their previous bête noire, Alex Salmond, in their campaign to attack, discredit and ultimately bring down the current leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon. And quite possibility with her any hope in the near future of an independent nation-state in the northern half of the island of Britain. In a way it’s all very Parnellian,* reeking of the sometimes real but more often fake scandals that were used by successive United Kingdom governments against their Irish nationalist opponents throughout the 19th and 20th centuries – and more recently during the acrimonious Brexit negotiations between the UK and the European Union. Unfortunately while the British establishment, from elected ministers to tame journalists, is undoubtedly contributing to the sense of crisis in Holyrood, the crisis itself is very real. It seems that Nicola Sturgeon may have been less than forthright in her testimony to Scottish parliamentarians, and Alex Salmond’s once lofty reputation remains tarnished with accounts of his personal misbehaviours. A tarnishing that he seems intent on obscuring at the expense of what was previously his life-long dream of a free Scotland.
I have no idea how all this is going to play out with the Scottish electorate. Some well-informed commentators are hoping that Sturgeon and the SNP government will weather the ongoing storm and continue to reap the benefits of Britain’s Brexit discomfiture come the regional elections in May. Others are less optimistic and fear that the resignation of the SNP leader is imminent, leaving her party in disarray just weeks away from the polls. And a handful are actually convinced that Sturgeon’s departure will herald Salmond’s triumphant return. Which really would be bizarre. Personally, while I think that the First of Minister of Scotland has suffered some personal damage, her resignation is unlikely and her party remains on course to increase its currents share of the Holyrood seats in May. However, a week – or several weeks – is a long time in politics and none of us can predict what the suddenly unpredictable Alex Salmond might do next. Or his increasingly unsavoury allies.
* Of course, the fall of Charles Stewart Parnell and the fractionalisation of Irish nationalist politics was one of the factors that contributed over the following decades to the rise of “advanced nationalism” in Ireland and ultimately to armed revolution when the country was denied any other means of asserting its sovereignty. So perhaps the ardent defenders of the British state and their handful of useful idiots in the Scottish nationalist movement should be careful what they wish for?
All very depressing, that’s for sure. But, typical of Salmond. As you say, he is determined to do all he can, and ally with anyone he considers useful, to destroy the nationalist project – both in order to obscure his own past behaviours and because he can’t be at the helm of it. I just hope the Scottish people can see through the obvious motives and intentions at play here.
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There is definitely a Parnellite agenda. BBC Scotland is as unionist as the apron wearers from Ormeau Avenue in their prime.
But I suspect there is some spook involvement also. I am sure they are embedded in the Scottish Office as much as the Norn Iron Office.
And they have “assets”
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Re the spooks, I agree entirely. In fact, it would be surprising if there wasn’t.
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seems obvious that the British ruling class would use their spooks — but do certain Scots nationalists have to HELP them?
The Westminster state is incompetent in so many areas but the manipulation and widening of divison within any group deemed working against state interests is not one of them. Think back, how effective the “defection” was of Douglas Carsewell and Mark Reckless to UKiP. Were only there a matter of months when they were readmitted to the Conservative fold, only after Farage left/booted out and the UKiP management team in disarray.
The Parnell story one of tragic loss but is one of human nature providing the opportunity for division and/or downfall. O’Shea was sufficiently flawed to make manipulation easy, prey or plant it makes for little concern to the manipulators.
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Well, well, well, looks like James Hamilton didn’t get the memo.
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The Sturgeon-loathing Spectator seems to be in quite the tizzy because the SNP leader hasn’t been hung out to dry by Hamilton. All sorts of insinuations going on in a desperate attempt to cast aspersions on the inquiry in the metropolitan press. Or at least the part of the UK press that is even aware that Scotland exists.
And the Twitter reaction of Britnat journos has been even more fun to watch.
Though they’ll no doubt try their best (at least if the BBC Scotland reporter that I listened to is anything to go by) the media et al will find it very hard to refute the findings of an independent enquiry conducted by someone whose integrity is unquestioned. (As opposed to the upcoming decision of a partisan parliamentary committee.)
If you can’t attack the message, attack the messenger…
Yep, it seems the now-removed claim that Hamilton was an advisor to the SNP was added anonymously to the page on March 20 in an attempt to discredit him. As someone commented on Twitter, if he was/had been closely aligned to the SNP as claimed there would have been uproar when he was appointed to conduct an independent enquiry.
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Apologies yet again for going off subject, but I can’t recommend highly enough the Netflix documentary series, Amend.
If, like me, you think you have a fair idea of what Black Americans have gone through, and are still going through, then watch this series and prepare to be shocked and angered in equal measure. As I say, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
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I wonder if Salmond’s latest antic (where he’s now suing anything that moves connected to the Scottish government) has rendered his motives so obvious that the Scottish electorate will see right through him. Or, to put it more bluntly, has he ripped the arse out of it.
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Hello, as an Irishman, I’ve followed this blog for many years and enjoy the focus on facts and detailed analyses of issues that affect Ireland, and broadly agree with most of your sentiments. I also have a lot of friends and connections in Scotland, and also follow what happens there in some detail. I was convinced many years ago of the case for Scottish independence.
I’ve read most of the evidence in the public domain, I watched most of the enquiry sessions, and followed the activities of the Scottish Government in trying to hide and redact evidence. I once thought Nicola Sturgeon was a good leader and would lead Scotland to independence, but not now after hearing and reading such shocking evidence.
What you need to consider is the possible corruption and criminality of the activities of the Crown Office and the Scottish Government in regards to allegedly trying frame an individual on false charges, and then in trying to subvert the course of justice (allegedly hiding evidence, tampering with witnesses, perjury etc.). This whole farrago goes way beyond the issue of a ministerial code review (and also, please note that Hamilton’s final report has been heavily redacted by the Scottish Government, and in fact that he is publicly pissed off about it). These issues and questions around possible corruption in state institutions in Scotland are more serious than the reputation of Alex Salmond.
So, I’m very disappointed about what has transpired, and think Sturgeon is personally responsible for most of this mess, and has knocked independence back by at least a decade.
I’m writing this without any rancour, or to offend any of the commentators on here, I would just ask that you look at the evidence in the public domain with an open mind. I strongly recommend that you also look at this video by another blogger, Craig Murray (who may be sentenced to prison today on trumped-up contempt of court charges), who sets out in forensic detail all the evidence of the case as he witnessed and reported upon it as a journalist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8NjRSUkkWE&t=70s
“Hello, as an Irishman, I’ve followed this blog for many years and enjoy the focus on facts and detailed analyses of issues that affect Ireland, and broadly agree with most of your sentiments.”
Well I should have been more precise, as a Corkman, does that help you Tamam? Play the ball, not the man eh?
Yeah, apologies for that. Your intro read like something from a Nigerian scam letter and I couldn’t resist. So, welcome. After reading and enjoying this site for “many years” it’s nice that you’ve eventually got round to posting something.
I disagree entirely with your argument, by the way. Salmond in his pique, along with his cultish followers, will deliberately set independence back because he can’t be head of it.
Yes, my intro was a bit stilted. I don’t really care about the personality of Salmond, this is not what these issues are about. It is about the possible corruption and/or abuse of power by the Crown Prosecution Office, and senior civil servants. They are now going after various journalists and sending threatening letters to various publications and blogs. On top of this you have the new Hate Crimes Bill coming down the line, with such broad catch-all categories as to make it wide open for abuse (similar to the proposed policing bill that Priti Patel is trying to get passed). Also, it’s about the conclusions of Laura Dunlop QC’s review, it’s about the final report published by the Scottish Parliament’s enquiry committee, and it is about many of the details included in Hamilton’s report. Combined they provide a fairly comprehensive picture of illegality and abuse of power by Leslie Evans and others. This is not an opinion, but conclusions from various independent enquires and reports.
As an aside the prosecution of Craig Murray should illustrate the selective way laws are used to shut down dissident or opponent’s voices in Scotland today. Why was Murray singled out for this treatment, and not Dani Gravelli and a long list of others who were clearly in contempt of court? That his sentencing was postponed until the day after the elections? There is no coincidence here. Most likely because his blog was recently critical of Sturgeon, and that he had just announced he would be standing as a candidate in the May elections.
As for independence being set back, I think the current ruling circle in the SNP have done a good job of that already. There have been no initiatives or concrete moves towards a second referendum by Sturgeon in the last 7 years, unless you believe all the shite they publish in The National these days. If, as looks likely, the SNP form a coalition government with the Greens, then I am 100% certain that nothing will happen regarding the independence question for the next 5 years. I say this not as a member of any “political cult” in Scotland. I’m only interested in facts and evidence.
Many thanks for this, much appreciated. You haven’t changed my mind, but you’ve certainly provided food for thought, and ensured that I factor in your points (and take a broader, more critical and rounded look) at what has gone on in Scotland, and at whatever occurs from here on in.
On Craig Murray, I did a swift Google yesterday and have to confess I was very impressed with this guy and the positions he has taken, often at much personal cost, on various issues down the years. He has been wrong at times (which of us hasn’t?) but not very often, in my humble estimation.
The forthcoming election just became a little bit more interesting and then some.
The Scottish parliament electoral system gives two votes to electors. The first one is to elect a Constituency MSP of which there a 73 number elected on a First Past the Post basis. The second vote is for a Regional list Candidate of which there are 56 elected by dividing the regional vote by the number of seats taken the constituency plus one. Called the D’hondt system it disadvantages parties who have done well in the constituency elections.
At the last Scottish General Election 953,000 SNP regional it’s votes delivered 4 SNP seats whereas 956,000 votes delivered 45 unionist seats.
But now that has changed. A new party called Alba has today been launched by Alex Salmond. As a list party it is designed to take the anticipated 1,000,000 list votes that would have headed to the SNP but delivered at best one or two seats. And at a relative stroke could see an independence majority with over 90 seats out of a 129 seat parliament.
Not so easy then for Boris Johnson to disregard the will of an over 2/3 majority of the Scottish Parliament. And it’s an easy vote for a country where the recent voting has indicated that circa 55% to 58% support independence. More so when the final release of serious respected Alba candidates are announced.
Interesting days and weeks ahead. The fight very much continues and not a bone broken or drop of blood spilled. Just think what a majority for SF could do in the NI assembly which isn’t a Parliament like the Scottish Parliament with a legal system running well back before the Act of Union of 1707.
Yes interesting, very interesting.
Yes, I agree, Willie. Given the Scottish List/D’Hondt system (a variant of which we’re well accustomed to in NI) Salmond’s intervention has meant that things are set to be very interesting indeed. Let’s hope the independence parties set the factional in-fighting aside until after the election (i.e. don’t spend their electioneering time attacking one another) and concentrate instead on getting out every pro-Indy vote possible. Time enough for in-fighting after the votes are counted.
Yes indeed Tamam.
And the absolute simple beauty of this is that the Partaidh Alba in no way whatsoever impacts on the SNP..In fact Alex Salmond is encouraging every one to vote SNP in the constituency, but Alba in the regional list. The SNP therefore do not lose to Alba. One party maxes FPTP whilst the other the List from votes that would otherwise be wasted.
And a most interesting but not unexpected BBC News at Ten this evening that went into absolute overdrive in pouring out the most vile poison. Concomitantly the Tory leader in Scotland was on TV asking all Labour and Lib Dem’s to join the Tories to stop the march to independence.
Yes Tamam very interesting as your own neck of the woods wrestle with Brexit. And in that, you might be interested to know that Jacob Rees Mogg in an interview today on the BBC said that Ireland ( the ROI ) was doing very poorly with the vaccine because …..” they were not part of the UK “.
So on that note, you’ve all been telt!
Update: Partaidh Alba .
By midnight last night, some nine hour after the party was launched, over 10,000 members have joined. What an absolutely incredible response.
No wonder then that last night’s prime time BBC flagship News at Ten devoted the first ten minutes to the most poisonous attack possible on the new party and Alex Salmond. SNP1 and Alba 2 is going to deliver a super majority and Westminster know it.
Two independence parties, one maxing the constituency seats, the other the regional seats. It makes so much sense. Adrenalin has just been pumped into the campaign. Just wait till the full list of Alba candidates are announced at the beginning of next week.
This is a stunningly good move, no doubt about it. I’m absolutely delighted, Willie. Thankfully, the personality- and ego clashes have been set aside for the greater good. No wonder the BBC is all of a tizzy. They, like the rest of us, didn’t see this coming. Now looking forward to an election I was beginning to, if not quite dread, be fearful of. As we would say here in Belfast, “up yours, Johnson and Rees-Mogg”.
Good luck to Nicola in the upcoming election.
For clarity, I should add that my views on Alex Salmond haven’t changed, but this tactic should maximise the independence vote. Time enough to address other issues on the other side of the election.