SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS 2021

Political Priorities

In the last Scottish Parliament elections (2016), most voters in Scotland (53.5%) did not vote for the Scottish National Party (SNP). Listening to the SNP minority-government’s political pronouncements over many years, one could be forgiven for thinking that Scotland was defined by Scottish nationalism. Sure, the SNP is defined by Scottish nationalism (not surprisingly), but evidently most Scottish voters are not. Notwithstanding, we’re told endlessly here in Scotland that the be-all-and-end-all of voting at the national level is the future of Scotland’s union with England. For most of us, however, that is not the case – were it not for the fact that the nationalist message is rammed down our throats, day in, day out. The electorate has little or no choice about political priorities in Scotland. We’re never left in any doubt that there is but one item on the political agenda: the secession of Scotland from the United Kingdom.

Across 11 opinion polls conducted during the month of March posing the question, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’, the average of those polled (16,000 people) answering ‘Yes’ was 46% of the total. Scotland’s voters are not tripping over themselves to see Scotland secede from the United Kingdom. It’s perhaps no coincidence that the recent fall in support for independence comes at a time when the SNP is publicly self-immolating.

We’re Not All Rob Roys

The SNP manipulates endlessly the political message. The Party uses – well, misuses actually – the mighty resources of the Scottish state, largely unchallenged by a depressingly supine news media, to give the appearance that pretty much every citizen here is a claymore-wielding Braveheart down to the last daub of blue paint on their face. Well, we’re not actually. On two occasions since the 2014 Independence Referendum – the Referendum itself and the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections – the majority of Scots voted for the union between England and Scotland; certainly they didn’t vote for nationalism and secession. This enrages the SNP; on both occasions, the voters delivered the wrong result.

How Not To Govern A Country

For those of us on the unionist side of the fence, we would say it’s an abuse of power for the party of government – a minority-government, at that – to prioritise its single-issue, party-political message, held by the minority of the electorate (see polling evidence above), to the detriment of virtually every other government responsibility. The deleterious effect of this narrow-minded philosophy of government is writ large when one looks at the grim state of affairs across our society after 14 years of Scottish nationalist rule.

Education

Education standards in Scotland under the Curriculum for Excellence strategy are shameful. Scottish pupils perform worse in maths than pupils in Czechia, Estonia and Slovenia. For a country that used to boast some of the finest education standards in the world, the international evidence shows that standards of education in Scotland are in long-term decline. In 2019, almost 40% of those from Scotland’s poorest backgrounds left primary school without meeting basic literacy benchmarks, and almost one-third failed to achieve the same in mathematics. Research by Reform Scotland has recorded a ‘sharp reduction’ in subject choice. Schools allowing pupils to sit more than 6 exams at National 4 or 5 level are now a minority in Scotland. Dr Stephen Curran, writing in the Times Educational Supplement, said ‘progressive education is leading Scotland into a crisis’.

Health

The performance of the NHS in Scotland is woeful. Health Boards are failing to meet in-patient target waiting times; Accident & Emergency targets are being missed; financial management of the NHS in Scotland is weak to put it politely; the British Medical Journal reported that higher per capita spending on healthcare in Scotland fails to deliver better outcomes, referencing a report prepared by the Centre for Public Policy in the Regions (CPPR) and KPMG:

Health outcomes in Scotland have shown no improvement over those in England despite higher spending and employing almost a third more staff. Spending in Scotland per head of population is the highest in the United Kingdom and in recent years has run 12% to 16% higher than in England. Scotland has argued for extra resources because of its higher death rates, high levels of deprivation, and scattered population. However, the CPPR/KPMG report found no evidence that this extra money has delivered better outcomes’

Sticking with the health theme, by the way, drug deaths in Scotland are at an epidemic level, with the worst fatality rate in Europe. The situation is going from bad to worse.

Policing

The centralising of policing in Scotland is another example of the dead hand of Scottish nationalism. You can take your pick on what’s wrong at Police Scotland, but poor governance, financial mismanagement and a catalogue of incidents of operational incompetence are all on the record. The common theme here, whether it’s incompetence of the political oversight of education, health, substance abuse or policing (it’s incompetence in the governance of all those public services as it happens), is that the SNP minority-government’s main effort is not on the things that matter most to you and me in terms of our quality of life; it’s on obsessing endlessly, and to the exclusion of virtually all else, about independence.

Freedom of Speech

Meantime, if presiding over chronic declines in Scotland’s education, health and policing services wasn’t enough, the Scottish National Party is devoting significant energy to reversing the Enlightenment. The SNP’s Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill will make it a criminal offence for, inter alia, you and me to discuss (using hateful phrases) in the privacy of our own homes subjects that the Scottish government doesn’t want us to discuss in our homes. No, I’m not joking. As a blogger, I find the SNP’s Hate Crime Bill one of the most sinister political initiatives one can imagine; it is a desperately regressive piece of ill-conceived and poorly drafted legislation. Standby for shame and confusion in our courtrooms as the first alleged criminals get hauled up for tweeting hateful stuff about some proscribed topic or other (there’ll be a list of subjects you can’t have a pop at on the Scottish government website if you can be bothered to search for it). Remember, it’s illegal to have impolite conversations in the privacy of your own home in Scotland now. For what it was worth, I made a contribution, through my colleague Professor Andrew Tettenborn, to The Free Speech Union’s development of its submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee on this execrable Bill.

The Economy

When it comes to Scotland’s economy, it’s enough to make one weep. Scotland’s fiscal deficit – the money the Scottish government spends over and above its income – sits at 9% of Gross Domestic Product; that’s 14 times the Euro region average, and higher than any other individual OECD country. The Scottish National Party is economically illiterate and lives far and away beyond the nation’s means. Pour a dram, brace yourself and read the full horror story here, courtesy of the Taxpayers’ Alliance (to which I’m a subscriber).

Andrew Wilson is an economist and was an SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament from 1999 – 2003. Mr Wilson chaired the SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission established to make recommendations to the Scottish government on economic policy. Here Mr Wilson gets ripped apart by the journalist Andrew Neil in a train crash of an interview about Scotland’s economic strategy as an independent nation. Spot the European Union scatter cushion on Mr Wilson’s sofa; how sweet:

Patriotism-v-Nationalism

In 2016, I campaigned, stood for election and voted for the United Kingdom to recover its sovereignty from the European Union (EU), an obsolescent, failing, anti-democratic political construct, revered by the Scottish nationalists (see the EU scatter cushion on Mr Wilson’s sofa). My vote was a patriotic gesture, cast in the name of democracy. Patriotism, it is said, is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Samuel Johnson is often misquoted in this sense; Johnson made clear that he valued what he considered ‘true, self-professed patriotism’. I love my country of residence, which is Scotland, a unique and much-loved nation bound in the precious and enduring union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom. But as George Orwell said, ‘Patriotism is not to be confused with nationalism’. He went on:

Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally …

Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.’

Read again Orwell’s description of nationalism. Then consider the philosopher A C Grayling’s somewhat more severe take on nationalism:

Nationalism is an evil. It causes wars, its roots lie in xenophobia and racism, it is a recent phenomenon – an invention of the last few centuries – which has been of immense service to demagogues and tyrants but to nobody else. Disguised as patriotism and love of one’s country, it trades on the unreason of mass psychology to make a variety of horrors seem acceptable, even honourable.

One’s Lived Experience

Now, you might read Orwell’s and Grayling’s characterisations of nationalism, raise an eyebrow or grin, and say, ‘Yes, but that’s not Scottish nationalism.’ Really? Well, look at it this way. In the past ten years or so, my personal experience of living and working in Scotland (my home for 40 years, by the way) has shifted from what I would term ‘peaceful enjoyment’ to ‘uncomfortable unease’. At certain times and places, in certain situations, there’s a prevailing air of menace. Statistically, depending to some extent on where you live, around four in ten of the people whom one knows or meets in Scotland will be an SNP supporter, at the last count anyway. However, unlike the broader churches of the other main political parties, the Conservatives, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats, the SNP has manufactured itself into what can only be described as a cult.

This cult-like nature of the Scottish National Party manifests itself in several ways. First and foremost, a Scottish nationalist has no truck with any point of view other than Scottish nationalism. Unlike the catholic nature of the other UK political parties with all their internal conversations, wrangling and shaping and optimising of policies, the SNP has a single policy: secession from the Union. It’s members have not the time of day for any other perspective on what it means to be Scottish, how and what Scotland should be as a nation, what life should be like in Scotland. If you don’t accept pure, stand-alone Scottish nationalism, you are by definition an enemy of Scotland. It really is as profoundly politically and socially destructive as that. This culture of aggression towards non-nationalists has evolved and grown in recent years to the point that one becomes wary of touching on politics in conversation in Scotland for fear of the consequences. Any such discussion moves swiftly from the subject itself to ad hominem attack. The message is that if you don’t support Scottish nationalism, your political views simply don’t count; you have a personal problem and deserve only to be ignored or silenced. It’s that depressingly bad.

The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war

Sydney J Harris

Journalist and Author

1917 – 1986

Democracy and Independence

What about democracy then? If I’m a democrat, on what grounds would I wish to see the Scottish electorate denied the opportunity to express their desire for independence? Well, in 2014, in the Scottish Independence Referendum, the Scottish people were indeed invited to express their desire for independence. By a considerable majority, 24% more Scots – well over a third-of-a-million citizens – voted for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom than voted for Scotland’s secession, on an 85% turnout. That was a comprehensive rejection of Scottish nationalism in what was coined by the SNP as a ‘once in a generation event’. Typically a generation might be thought of as 30 – 50 years.

Today, 7 years later, the SNP is banging the drum for another Scottish Independence Referendum. The SNP argues that since 2014 things have changed. Presumably, the result of a referendum, or any democratic vote for that matter, only stands if nothing changes after the result is announced – which seems an odd approach to democracy. Notwithstanding, what has changed? Well, the UK has left the European Union and, according to the SNP, this somehow nullifies the Scottish Independence Referendum. Ironically, the SNP craves ‘independence’ but on condition that, if achieved, Scotland would fall back into the arms of the EU to be governed from foreign soil by an unelected, unaccountable, bureaucratic elite known as the European Commission, the EU’s de facto government. One does wonder quite how any self-respecting Braveheart ever squares away this political contortionism? By the way, more people in Scotland voted for the UK to leave the European Union than voted for the SNP in the last UK General Election, but that’s a minor detail.

Scotland’s Politics Today

One could easily get bogged down in the homemade quagmire that is Scotland’s politics today. The SNP is at war with itself. It’s two principal personalities – one the erstwhile SNP Leader and First Minister, Alex Salmond, and the other the current SNP Leader and First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon – are at each other’s throats. The nationalist cause has been rent asunder by Mr Salmond’s formation of The Alba Party. Scotland’s constitutional and political institutions and arrangements are in disarray having been found to be grotesquely dysfunctional in the heat of the war between these two cult personalities. To say that Scotland’s politics today stinks would be an understatement. As a citizen of the land that gave birth to the Enlightenment, for the most part one feels ashamed of where the SNP has taken this otherwise beautiful country during its 14 years in power. Power corrupts indeed.

The difficulty is that for as long as the SNP remains a single-issue cult, life in Scotland will be intolerable for those of us excluded from the cult. There is no such word as eclectic in the SNP lexicon. The SNP says, either you are for us, or you are against us; and if you are against, you are despised and excluded. Full-stop. However, democracy only works if the governing party governs for all. If, as is the case in Scotland, the governing party governs for a minority clique, then society becomes a most unpleasant place – as it can be for us Unionist Scots who in the last two elections made up the majority of the electorate. The reason for that, by the way, is the structure of the Scottish Parliament’s preposterous voting system (on which more below).

Another Referendum

Suspend your disbelief for a moment. Let’s look at the prospect of a second, ‘once in a generation’ Scottish Independence Referendum. Assume that owing to the dog’s breakfast of a voting system pertaining to the Scottish Parliament – the Additional Member System, invented by Labour’s Tony Blair to lock the SNP out of power forever (that didn’t quite work out) – between them, the SNP and the Alba Party secure a majority in Parliament. The new SNP government, backed by the Alba Party, exert overwhelming pressure on the UK government and the Westminster Parliament to authorise another Referendum. Consequently, a second Scottish Independence Referendum is granted, however reluctantly: ScotIndyRef2. How should that referendum look?

The Voting Hurdles

Well, first up is this: it should be written into the laws of Scotland and the United Kingdom that whatever the outcome of ScotIndyRef2, there will not be another ScotIndyRef for at least 30 years and ideally not less than 50 years. We can’t go on like this. Next, the hurdles for securing Scotland’s secession from the United Kingdom should include a voter turnout of not less than 80% and a total of not less than 65% of the vote in favour of independence. Breaking up a 300-year-old union whilst making no reference to the other tens of millions of voters forming that union cannot be allowed to happen lightly. Destroying the United Kingdom on the strength of a single Scottish nationalist vote, a referendum justified supposedly under a bonkeroony Parliamentary voting system, would be unspeakable and simply should not be permitted.

Furthermore, Scotland’s voters should include not only the nation’s residents, which include 142,400 EU citizens living here, and 73,600 children, together gerrymandering the vote, but also Scotland’s diaspora – those native-born Scots living abroad for one reason or another. Scots abroad should have as much a say in the destiny of their homeland as does a Bulgarian who happens to be living in Stirling at the moment whose vote would influence the existence, or not, of the United Kingdom.

Independence Defined

Before ScotIndyRef2 takes place, Scotland’s ‘Independence’ must be defined in detail and in law. Independence should mean this: Scotland’s own head of state; Scotland’s own currency and central bank; Scotland’s own foreign and defence policy; Scotland’s own armed forces; Scotland’s own share of the UK national debt; Scotland’s own stand-alone fiscal (tax and spend) arrangements; Scotland’s own monetary (borrowing and interest rates) arrangements; Scotland’s own border arrangements; Scotland’s own everything that goes with being an independent nation of the world order.

Achieving Independence

Thence, the transition to Scotland becoming independent should be like the best way of removing a plaster: rip it off in an instant. In other words, there cannot and must not be years of horse-trading and uncertainty as Scotland seeks to disengage itself from 300 years of union. Scotland must move from being economically dependent on the UK (as it is today) to being a free-wheeling member of the tapestry of the world’s sovereign nations in a thrice. Why should it be permitted to be any other way given the Scottish nationalists’ desperation to leave the United Kingdom?

What would be the result of this strategy? Easy answer: ruin. Scotland would be bankrupted overnight by leaving the UK to become a fully-fledged independent nation. Have another look at the section above on Scotland’s economy in the incapable hands of the SNP, gilded as it is with its vast subsidisation by the people of London and the south-east and east of England (who subsidise not only Scotland, but also the whole of the rest of the United Kingdom).

Now, here’s the rub. The prospect of Scotland’s economic ruin is not a reason per se for not seeking and securing independence. It’s important to realise that nationalism is not an economically-rational sentiment. The minority of Scots who crave independence don’t crave their strange interpretation of Brussels-governed ‘freedom’ for economic reasons. Tipping our hat to Orwell again, Scottish nationalism is a desire for power and prestige, not for the individuals themselves as such, but for Scotland itself in which the nationalists have chosen to sink their own individuality. What the Scottish nationalists think they can do is make Scotland a globally powerful nation and then themselves bask in that power. The idea is, of course, risible but that won’t change the mind of a Scottish nationalist.

How Should One Vote on 6 May?

Reading this post, you could be forgiven for thinking that I was most likely a Conservative. Well I’m not. I’m politically conservative, which makes me politically homeless. The Conservative Party lost its conservative credentials a long time ago and I relinquished my membership then. If there was an LDP Party – a Libertarian Democratic Patriots Party, I’d join in a shot; but there’s no such thing. UK politics is crying out for a right-of-centre libertarian political party, but I’m not holding my breath on that one (despite being asked recently if I’d consider standing as a List Candidate for The Reform UK Party). That said, my Member of Parliament (MP), Mr Douglas Ross, is a Conservative, a good constituency MP and a good man; I admire and respect him and speak up for him publicly and privately. But that doesn’t make me a Conservative.

So, if one is in that majority of Scots unimpressed by nationalism and unwilling to see Scotland secede from the United Kingdom, how should one vote in the Scottish Parliament elections on Thursday 6 May? In Scotland today there is only one political party that can oppose Scottish nationalism: it is the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party. It grieves me to say so and you may also be despairing somewhat at the notion. However, to cast one’s constituency vote for any party other than the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party – much as you may have to hold your nose so to do – would be a gift to nationalism, and everything that goes with it. Scotland deserves better, much better than crude Scottish nationalism.

If you’re an SNP supporter reading this post, it’s unlikely that anything I’ve written will have changed your mind. Indeed, the chances are you’ll be steaming (the truth hurts). Like I said, the SNP is a cult and members of cults tend to be impervious to argument. On the other hand, I can see the argument for independence; indeed, I’ve acceded that point in some detail above. It’s just that I have a strong suspicion that the consequences for Scotland would be dire.

So, again, if you’re a Unionist and you’re wondering how to vote next month you could do no better than heed the advice of my fellow blogger, Effie Deans over at Lily of St Leonard’s. If you click on this link – How To Maximise the Pro-UK Vote in Scotland – Effie explains clearly and in detail how best to vote to prevent a landslide nationalist victory stitched up by the SNP and Alex Salmond’s Alba Party under a banana republic voting system. In short, Effie recommends the following strategy:

1.  Vote for the Pro-UK party with the best chance of winning in your Constituency. In my case, that would mean me voting for Tim Eagle (Conservative) and, like I said above, only the Tories, so viscerally-hated by the SNP, stand any chance of ousting the nationalists at constituency level.

2.  Vote for a different Pro-UK party on the Regional list. In my case, that would mean not voting Conservative on the Regional list.

3.  Effie Deans recommends voting for the All for Unity party on the Regional list, a party headed up by Jamie Blackett. Effie caveats this recommendation in her blog, so you should read that in relation to your own constituency. In the case of Moray, I’m thinking that Liberal Democrat might be the best option (having lived here for 40 years), but will wait to see if All for Unity is on the ballot paper. Update: Scotland in Union has recently published this tactical voting guide.

As I said earlier, nationalism itself is not a rational sentiment, it’s more an emotion as Orwell and Grayling so astutely observed. Of course, I have friends and acquaintances who are SNP supporters and I accept their political views for what they are, disagreeing with them as I’ve expressed here in this post. Clearly, I’m not a Scottish nationalist, but I am a Scottish patriot (seen here on the left – of the picture, not politics).

It’s not hyperbole to state that the future of the United Kingdom is in our hands on 6 May. Use your vote wisely.

Finally, please consider donating to, and supporting Scotland in Union, an apolitical, not-for-profit campaign which makes the positive case for Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom.

Patriotism is a lively sense of collective responsibility. Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on its own dunghill

Richard Adlington

English Novelist and Poet

1931

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28 comments

  1. Andrew Roberts · · Reply

    A dimension to independence is the effect on the public sector.

    Scotland’s public sector includes 21% of it’s tax payers. With cuts in public services or swinging hikes in taxes many (especially the highly skilled) will move South. Along with the mobile high earners, this exodus will drive a fiscal doom loop. Initial high taxation will not bring in proportionate revenue increases as 1. the tax base will decline and 2. the Laffer curve effect will reduce the revenue from the taxpayers who remain. Cuts to services will then be needed.

    The only mitigation is that the economy will collapse before Scotland gets around to a new currency making re-union an attractive option for the Rational Scot – provided the UK is willing to agree to this.

    This might be the only way to end the Neverendum that has hobbled Scotland for the past decade.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Robert Gordon Graham · · Reply

    Whilst I support your stance on preservation of the union, some of your voting requirements, specifically “voter turnout of not less than 80% and a total of not less than 65% of the vote in favour of independence” would only call into question (again) the legitimacy of the EU independence referendum. Likewise, the references to “nationalism” being emotional, not logical, are some of the very arguments used by the remainers. against leavers and one of their main gripes, at least in the European country where I live, was that they were denied the right to vote. I also believe that the whole of the UK should be involved in any referendum. Who knows, the SNP might get a pleasant surprise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · · Reply

      Thanks Robert, good points. I didn’t have too much of a problem with the EU Referendum because it wasn’t a profoundly internal constitutional matter for the UK. In other words the EU Referendum was not existential to the United Kingdom itself. We were voting as a nation on membership of a relatively young club that has lost its way.
      As a Leave voter, every argument I made for Brexit on this blog was not on the basis of emotion, but on what I consider to have been forensic arguments weighing the pros and cons of sovereignty vs colonial rule by an anti-democratic political construct in a foreign land.
      A Scottish nationalist might (? would) argue along the same lines, no doubt. However, in this case we are indeed talking about the survival of what is a fully constituted nation: the United Kingdom. The idea that we might permit a 300-year-old economic, political and social union to be dismantled on the back of a single 51/49 referendum vote seems unthinkable – to me anyway. Few organisations have constitutions which say their constitutions can be changed utterly and irrevocably on a 51/49 vote.
      Yes, if a second once-in-a-generation Scottish Independence Referendum was ever put to the voters of all 4 nations of the United Kingdom, Scotland would be out of the union on its ear. The result for Scotland would be dire – as I point in my post above – and the rUK would be immeasurably poorer, albeit not financially.

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      1. Robert Gordon Graham · · Reply

        Some (many?) of the remainers thought that similar limits should have been set for the Brexit referendum. I don’t see how referenda can ever be decided by anything but a simple Yes/no response and a simple majority. If you set the bar at 65% and the “yes” vote was 60%, the losers would be justifiably aggrieved.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. John Gibson · · Reply

    You say only 46% said they would vote Yes, but you somehow omit to tell us how many said they would vote no! And how many don’t knows there were!

    Strange

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · · Reply

      Yes, that’s right John. But the point I’m making is that it is not the case that the majority of Scotland’s electorate, ie greater than 50% of the electoral roll, are clearly in support of independence. Yet the abiding message of the SNP is that it’s a slam-dunk most Scots desire secession. They don’t, clearly …

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      1. John gobson · · Reply

        You can only count those who want to vote! Otherwise why have elections. Johnson is running the country with 42% voting for him. If we take away(or add) those who did not vote he would be running the U.K. on below 30% but that’s ok?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. moraymint · · Reply

          Thanks John. For me, arguing one’s point on the basis of ‘Whataboutery’ never really cuts it. The issue at hand is the Scottish Parliamentary elections and the fact that, even today (just checked the latest polls over at The New Statesman), most Scottish voters do NOT intend to vote for the SNP. The SNP is standing for election on a single issue: independence. Most voters, according to the polls, do not intend to vote for the SNP which makes me assume that most voters are not keen on having Scotland secede from the United Kingdom.

          Replying to this point by saying, ‘What about this, or what about that, or what about the other’ isn’t really making one’s case. It’s just deflecting from the facts of the matter …

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  4. reallyoldbill · · Reply

    Watching the continuous agitation by nationalists for “independence” for Scotland from here in England does cause some bemusement. From whom do they wish to be “independent”?

    * Scotland is not only fully, but overly represented at Westminster with more MPs per head of population than England; it can therefore be argued that Scottish votes count for more than English ones.
    * Despite the creative accounting by the nationalists, Scotland also receives considerably more per head from the UK exchequer than England despite England contributing more tax revenue than Scotland. It can thus be argued that English taxpayers, who receive none of the benefits of this inequality of funding like free prescriptions, university education and all the rest, are the ones at a disadvantage.
    * Scotland, unlike England, now has its own parliament in full control of the domestic agenda from which MPs from the other home nations are excluded. England by contrast, alone of the home nations, suffers an unsatisfactory (since devolution) dual parliament which is responsible for UK wide decision making in non-devolved matters as well as the English-only domestic agenda. It suffers the presence of an unruly SNP cohort there which loves nothing more to exploit this democratic iniquity. Which country would a neutral observer say is the one without its independence?

    Far from being a down-trodden nation deprived of sovereign control of its affairs, viewed from the south of this island, Scotland seems to have a very good, some would argue unreasonably advantageous, position in the Union. And yet there is very little clamour here for English “independence” from what is increasingly a relationship which is not tilted in England’s favour at all. In Scotland it seems to be all that we hear. One has to question why that should be, and my money is on the nationalist propaganda that has been drip fed into young ears in the education system which has for many years now been in the hands of the SNP.

    We have all heard of “lies, damned lies and statistics”, but the SNP have shown themselves willing to distort and abuse the truth to an alarming degree, even for a political party in today’s cynical world. Sadly, its seems that there is a willing audience north of the border more than happy to lap it all up. After the toxic nature of the last referendum in 2014 in which old friendships and even families were torn apart, it would be tragic if Scotland were to renew and almost certainly deepen those rifts on the altar of SNP determination to force yet another one on the Scottish people. We have to hope that sufficient voters turn their backs on the party in May to stop that march to almost certain separation of one of the most successful political unions in history. Many of your friends in England wish you well in that.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Off topic, but hopefully useful for writing to your MP:

    It’s now clear after last week’s vote to extend the Conservative government’s draconian powers over our liberties for at least another six months that the majority of parliamentarians are a danger to our historic and hard earned liberties, appear to be drunk on their power over the people and incapable of understanding basic scientific data.

    Just over a year ago we were told that an unprecedented restriction of our liberties for three weeks was necessary to ensure the NHS wasn’t overwhelmed. The government spent hundreds of millions on the speedy erection of Nightingale Hospitals and tens of thousands of retired doctors and nurses volunteered to help man them. In the event the NHS, at a national level, was never overwhelmed, regardless of the fact that the government failed to use the Nightingale Hospitals and volunteers as intended.

    Now that the vast majority of the most vulnerable have been vaccinated (mainly thanks to the actions of AZ and Kate Bingham’s team), how dare you and your government continue to restrict my liberties, telling me who I can hug, meet or socialise with. It’s clear that elsewhere in the World where vaccination rates are lower than the UK’s and/or infection rates higher restrictions are being lifted very quickly.

    Johnson, who is clearly out of his depth, is no leader or libertarian, has told us we must follow the data, however the data is better than forecast but somehow that’s not good enough. You want to keep us under the cosh and retain excessive powers way beyond when we’re supposed to get all of our freedoms back.

    Mr Timpson, more and more people are ignoring you and your government and it’s risk averse, backside covering advisers. They know they’ve been misled, keep seeing the goalposts moved, so I give it a matter of weeks, if that, before it’ll be blindingly clear to anyone who cares to look that you’ve lost the country.

    During my brief foray into frontline politics I saw the calibre of MPs up close and was singularly unimpressed. From my hilltop the so called Conservative Parliamentary Party of today is mainly a collection of illiberal, career second rate chancers, covering their backs and busy climbing the greasy pole regardless of the damage they do to the country.

    That MPs are still addressed as ‘The Right Honourable…’ is now a sick joke.

    The damage done to peoples’ lives, communities, businesses and our freedoms hasn’t been caused by the virus, it’s been caused by the cowardly and incoherent actions of your Conservative government.

    I hope your party is routed at the next general election and with any luck consigned to the history books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robert Gordon Graham · · Reply

      Who is “Mr. Timpson”?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My Tory MP who is in a safe seat and seems to only to want to do the bidding of Herr Johnson!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Robert Gordon Graham · · Reply

      “It’s clear that elsewhere in the World where vaccination rates are lower than the UK’s and/or infection rates higher restrictions are being lifted very quickly.” Show me those places and I’ll move there.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. S Abbott · · Reply

    Dear Mark, I am collaborating with a friend who is working on a book about ‘emotional intelligence’ in politics; she calls it EQ, not EI. I commented some time ago on the pursuit of power, contrasting Aung San Suu Kyi’s acts of compromise with the Army Junta in an effort to gain the power needed to effect change, with the ability of Trump to manipulate an electorate. There is a resonance with your commentary on the SNP and I would argue with Sturgeon’s manipulative and exclusionary approach.

    >> Aung San Suu Kyi, may exemplify the dilemma faced by politicians who are driven to comprise in pursuit of the power required to give effect to the principles they espouse. Donald Trump conversely offers the exemplar of a politician with an innate grasp of the power of human emotion but who demonstrably deploys this skill to manipulate, divide and alienate. Principles, if they even exist, are ruthlessly subordinated to acquiring power. Such an approach starkly alienates and divides with serious consequences post election. Once in power they invariably prove unable or unwilling to build bridges across the political divide necessarily created to win election. They refuse to listen and understand in order to unite, preferring the echo chamber of supporters that drowns out dissent. Functioning democracies require the politics of inclusion post election; EQ provides a route to such inclusion for a would be national leader as opposed to merely the trumpet of a temporarily dominant faction.’

    Regards Steve Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · · Reply

      ‘Functioning democracies require the politics of inclusion post election’. Yup, indeed. Inconceivable to the Scottish National Party …

      Like

    2. JohnGibson · · Reply

      You do know that sNP is not the YEs movement? 1.6 million people voted to remain in the EU and be independent whilst SNP only has about60,000 members

      Liked by 1 person

      1. moraymint · · Reply

        Yes, there are Scots in favour of independence but who are not fans of the SNP. The problem was, until recently, for whom do you vote if you’re pro-independence, but anti-SNP? Answer now: The Alba Party.

        Like

      2. Robert Gordon Graham · · Reply

        How can you be ” in the EU and be independent “?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Robert McVean · · Reply

    Hi Mark – I really enjoyed reading this and thank you for the clarity re voting! Much appreciated, as ever, Robert

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Bravo, mon brave.

    As you know, my normally sunny views on life get somewhat dampened by this subject, in which I vacillate between despair and gloom in my expectations of future elections and referendum. Your blog provides me with an upturn in mood and optimism for the future. The sheer illogicality of Scotland being seen as some sort of foreign country, one that stands apart from the rest of the UK is beyond me, after over 300 years of integration. Not to mention the supreme unfairness of a little over a million voters deciding the future of a 60 million souls union. Nobody could vote for that could they?

    But then I remember with whom we are dealing. Blind nationalism will always assume they are right, and enough people are malleable to think they are doing good in supporting their politics. It’s all too close for me.

    Jerry

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · · Reply

      You Eternal Optimist, me Defensive Pessimist. Surprisingly, I think that if push came to shove (and I do think that push will come to shove), the people of Scotland – including that bloke from Bulgaria – will vote for a United Kingdom. How weird is that?

      Like

  9. Andybarnett · · Reply

    Mark, another brilliantly written Chatter as ever, I will be sharing this far and wide with your permission of course , the point of who is allowed to vote has always grated on me as a scot who has lived abroad frequently sometimes only a few miles across the border but wasn’t allowed to vote in such an important point in my countries history but as you said pytor from bulgaria who is resident here can..
    The rest as you say is evident to everyone but the SNP , we can live in hope saner minds prevail in May.
    Stay safe all

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Douglas Brodie · · Reply

    Thanks in large part to her almost daily party political Coronavirus TV briefings and the praise heaped on her by the anti-Boris, anti-Brexit mainstream media, many of the Scottish electorate seem to think that Nicola Sturgeon has done a great job on handling the pandemic.

    As a natural sceptic I think she has done a disastrous job (as has Boris). Maybe this article will change a few peoples’ minds in advance of the election: https://www.thinkscotland.org/thinkbusiness/articles.html?read_full=14528.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Douglas Brodie · · Reply

    Another excellent post. The points you make under “Independence Defined” and “Achieving Independence” have been well set out by the ineffable Effie Deans in her article on establishing a Canada-style Independence Clarity Act, see https://www.effiedeans.com/2020/09/a-clarity-act.html.

    It is up to the UK government to establish such an act. I don’t know why they don’t just go ahead and do it, or at least threaten to do it. It would save the majority of Scots from having to endure the Neverendum independence rantings of the SNP. Even if Salmond’s Alba Party exploitation of the voting system gives SNP1 + SNP2 a “super-majority” of the Holyrood seats, they will probably still get less than 50% of the votes.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Mark

    This is a tour de force which I will be sharing on SM and to my elected reps.

    One quibble so far

    Scots abroad should have as much a say in the destiny of their homeland as does a Bulgarian who happens to be living in Stirling at the moment.

    This can be read two ways . I think you mean that the Bulgarian would have a vote pertaining to to Bulgaria even though he is living In Edinburgh

    Or – could it mean that the expat Scotsman should not be “outvoted” by a Bulgarian living In Edinburgh (who is allowed a vote in IndyRef2

    But – as I said – brilliant piece of writing – well done

    Mark
    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · · Reply

      Thanks Mark, good point. I’ve amended that paragraph …

      Like

      1. I know some Scots here in Cheshire who are aghast at what’s happened to their country under the SNP. They’re both angry & ashamed at what their country’s become, or is seen to have become under the ultra nationalist SNP.

        Although it could be argued that most of The West is living beyond its means, in the case of Scotland it’s financially bust without being underwritten by mainly English taxpayers. Given what’s happening in many Euro countries it’s not clear that the EU would want to take on an economic basket case like Scotland.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. And that is assuming the Belgians or Spanish would ever approve such a thing ….

          Given there is no pot of gold the Scots could bring to the table , I think it highly unlikely the EU would effectively vote to support secessionist movements.

          Liked by 1 person

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