The Ship is Listing Dangerously Captain!

Once upon a time top spot on the regional list was used as belt and braces to protect high profile names within the party. It’s how people like Nicola Sturgeon rose through the parliament in Holyrood and it’s the reason folk like Mordo Fraser and Elaine (Not C) Smith are still there.

The SNP’s decision to give top place to either a BAME or Disabled (self identifying or not) is, like the previous decision to create a gender balance, not one borne out of realism but out of idealogy. Giving the top job (indeed ANY job) to someone because of their colour, sex, or disability (or even their personal/family connections) and not on their competence is foolhardy. You only need to look at the Labour Party of the past to see where that got them.

If there was a concentrated effort by unionists to tactically vote to get Nicola Sturgeon out of her constituency and it succeeded, then the highest possible place she could be given on the list is second. So the list seat would go to a BAME candidate, regardless of experience or value to the party, and Sturgeon would have to rely on enough constituencies being lost to the SNP to generate a second list place.

If I were a unionist in her Govan constituency I would be seizing the chance to cut off the head of the snake with both hands.

Martin Hannan – Thank You

I read Martin Hannan’s letter describing his reasons for leaving the SNP and thought that I would register my thanks to him in the face of the bitter and childish criticism that he received from some quarters on social media which unfortunately bore out his comments that the SNP was more and more becoming a cult. His reasons for resigning struck a chord with me on a personal level. I joined the SNP in the aftermath of the 2014 referendum, and quickly saw practices and attitudes which were entirely unacceptable, and which as far as I could see went all the way from a rotten branch right up the tree to SNP headquarters. What I saw at a local level has been replicated and magnified many times at national level, and for those who tried to pretend that our branch was an exception, only now are they seeing that it was just a part of a bigger, cancerous whole. I left the SNP as quickly as I joined and I believe, like Martin now does, that you cannot stay in and fix this from the inside, for that means getting down in the sewer with your opponents and joining them, and who with any modicum of self-respect wants to do that?As an activist with more than one independence group, Martin has been a great friend to us in our efforts to grow and promote our activities. You only have to read his articles to see that he lives and breathes independence; his credentials as a supporter of independence cannot be called into question. That’s why people across the independence movement and especially within the SNP should be sitting up and taking notice. They cannot afford to lose good people like that – yet they are, hand over fist. Membership numbers have fallen drastically recently, and those who claimed credit for the 2014 rise seem unwilling to accept responsibility for the 2021 crash. Many of those members were once folk who would go out and chap doors for nothing more that the thought that they were helping achieve something better, and were let go with nothing but a thank you email from Peter Murrell, not the heartfelt, unscripted video which a select few received from Nicola Sturgeon. Some of the most dedicated supporters are becoming demoralised, and how do you motivate people to chap doors when the best they can offer is to tell you to keep your eyes on the prize and hold your nose while you vote for the SNP? In 2014 we were offered “hope over fear”. Now we are being offered Westminster corruption with a tartan paint job. As an independence supporter and activist, I cannot take that message onto the streets. I know that we are far beyond the point where the internal differences of the SNP can be resolved over a handshake. We can now only sit back and wait to see what we can salvage from the wreckage, before regrouping to fight again. In Scotland some things never change. 

The Danger of Creating Icons

Simpler times…

For us mere bystanders who were relying on the SNP to lead the independence movement to victory, their recent behaviour has been a bin fire which has spread to a nearby skip and now threatens to burn down the house, and which the SNP insist on trying to put out with petrol! The idea of leaving petty differences aside until after independence is one which the SNP high-heidyins should have noted a long time ago: before they conspired to send an innocent man to jail, and before setting the hounds on non-compliant journalists. We have to deal with reality here, however uncomfortable, and it is dismaying to see so many people still labouring under the impression that these matters could still be set aside.

That ship has sailed. That bridge has been burned. As the French say: the carrots are cooked.
If this was a movie it would be dismissed as being too far-fetched: A political conspiracy to destroy the reputation of their former boss, to ensure that he can never come back to politics with senior elected SNP members leaking internal information to the press and the Crown Office leaking details of prosecutions to the press. Malicious reports to the police by seedy politicians to put pressure on their enemies, and silencing journalists who support the victim of the conspiracy by threatening them with going to jail. Sounds too far fetched? Why not throw in the loss of around £600,000 in ring-fenced campaign funds, and just to top that off, why not sack one of the most able front bench MP’s in order to to satisfy the bloodlust of a small but vocal group of trans-rights extremists? If any thinks that this genie can be put back in the bottle they are utterly delusional.
Many people think that Nicola Sturgeon has done a fantastic job managing the coronavirus pandemic in Scotland and are willing to turn a blind eye to the current shenanigans because of their support for independence. That’s just wrong. That’s like turning a blind eye to the abuse carried out by Jimmy Saville because he did a lot of work for charity.

There is every possibility that, despite her popularity in the polls, Nicola Sturgeon will possibly not be SNP leader come May. A good leader, like Alex Salmond did, would be trying to prepare the ground for such a possibility. Instead Nicola Sturgeon appears to be implementing a scorched earth policy, ensuring that many people who are competent and capable are taken off the board. Her decision to remove Joanna Cherry from the field and replace her with Anne McLaughlin is akin to substituting Kenny Dalglish in a vital qualifier and replacing him with Wayne Biggins! Apologies to Wayne Biggins…

It’s time the independence woke up and smelled the coffee. Crying “Leave oor Nicola alone” is not a viable line of defence, and to build her up to an infallible icon is a sure road to disappointment, and goodness knows we’ve had enough of that. I’m sure that after the axe has swung there will be others just as capable of managing to govern Scotland AND campaign for independence, perhaps more so.
Whoever that leader is they must go back to first principles, the ones which united us all in 2014. An end to dirty politics. Transparency and honesty must be their watchwords, otherwise all we can look forward to upon independence is a Little Westminster in Edinburgh.

Death By 1,000 Cu(*)ts

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more bizarre, the SNP decide to shoot their other foot off!

Remember when the Labour Party were imploding many years ago with this sort of garbage? The SNP have now proved that they have fully adopted the mantle they took over in 2007 with a party split between careerists and entryism – all of whom have forgotten what they were supposed to be fighting for.

A few days ago in the wake of the mass trans-resignation, Nicola Sturgeon came out on social media to beg the malcontents to come back. This group of people have as much interest in independence as I have of going to the Last Night of the Proms. Had the Labour Party still been in power these same folk would have gone there instead. Whatever has the best chance of furthering their own personal agendas.

Only a few days later they have gone full on Loony-Left Labour with a bizarre (and again legally dubious) plan to shoehorn in minority interest groups to the top of the Regional Lists, ahead of others who might have expected to be there on merit.

I’ve already petitioned Holyrood about the abuse of the list system. They are just trolling us now.

More news on this at: Wings Over Scotland : The Death Wish

Craig Murray: Sworn Evidence

Just got round to reading this in its entirety – If this was a movie it would be dismissed as being too far-fetched:Senior elected SNP members leaking internal information to the press.The Crown Office leaking details of prosecutions to the press.A political conspiracy to destroy the reputation of their former boss, to ensure that he can never come back to politics.Malicious reports to the police by seedy politicians (now that I can believe) to put pressure on their enemies.Silencing journalists who support the victim of the conspiracy by threatening them with going to jail.Many people think that Nicola Sturgeon has done a fantastic job managing the coronavirus pandemic in Scotland and are willing to turn a blind eye to her involvement in this because of their support for independence. That’s just wrong.That’s like turning a blind eye to the abuse carried out by Jimmy Saville because he did a lot of work for charity.If you only read one article today (and it’s lockdown – what else have you got to do), read this one.

Craig Murray: Sworn Evidence article HERE.

No Mince Please, We’re Scottish

Letter to The National

On Sunday I went into my local shop to pick up the Sunday National and saw the front page proclaiming the launch of another independence task force by the SNP. I’m afraid your paper stayed on the shelf as I just couldn’t bring myself to even turn the page. In the movie ‘As Good as It Gets’ Jack Nicholson’s character utters the immortal line “Go sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here”. Well, I’m all stocked up on task-forces, false starts, relaunches, fund-raisers (where exactly IS that “ring-fenced” cash) and Indyref2 being just round this corner. I’ve had it up to here (imagine if you will a line somewhere waaaay above my head) with it being assumed that I am going to swallow the latest reheated mince which is produced just prior to an election, and boy haven’t we had a lot of those to go round since 2014. This might be good enough for the “Nicola has a secret plan” brigade, but really, there has to come a time when even the most loyal of Pavlovian supporters must cry “not again”!What happened to the analytical, forensic, critical thinking of the 2014 Yes movement? Collectively we could demolish any argument put forward by the No campaign through attention to detail, now I hear too many voices exhorting us not to look too closely, to overlook the fact that we keep being promised progress yet nothing concrete is ever delivered. I’d imagine that this new initiative will be more task farce than task force, and will disappear into the same cupboard as the mythical Rebuttal Unit.If I seem disappointed in the SNP’s performance over the last few years it is because I am. In some respects they have provided competent administration. They have presented a calm and measured response to the coronavirus pandemic which, while not entirely removed from the routes adopted in England, has been done with an air of control lacking from Westminster. But in so many other areas they have been an utter let down, most notably the ethics (or lack of them) in regards to transparency and accountability. The Yes movement of 2014 was carried on a wave of optimism, a chance of a better future, with a cleaner politics, where the Labour Party trademarks of cronyism and nepotism where a thing of the past. What now for the Yes movement in 2021 as we try to go forward reliant on an SNP riddled with those same failings? We cannot go on deluding ourselves, and the National cannot be complicit in deluding us. You can either be the voice of the Yes movement or the voice of the SNP, because at present those aren’t one and the same. Perhaps by being more critical of the SNP your paper can steer them back onto the straight and narrow, because as it stands it is becoming increasingly unpalatable for many in the Yes movement to stand with the main party of Scottish independence. 

Monklands Hospital – Why Wester Moffat?

It was recently announced that the site chosen for the replacement Monklands Hospital site was to be at Wester Moffat (or more precisely the land where Wester Moffat Farm once was.

In December 2019 I made a submission to the selection process which was then taking place, where I suggested land to the north of the A89 between Plains and Clarkston as a potential site. My submission was made precisely because I wanted to protect the greenbelt land to the south of the A89 – the land which has been chosen as the site of the new hospital.

When the shortlist was made available showing the final three potential sites, Gartcosh, Glenmavis and Wester Moffat, I was shown the “Assessment of Nominated Sites against Agreed Criteria” table which laid out the sites suggested and whether or not they were suitable. Mine was detailed at No46.

In this table it notes in Column 5 that the acres is “40+” with an asterisk which referred to the following note: ownership of this site is complex (11 landowners) – no individual site will exceed 40 acres after completion of EALR. Largest available site will be circa 30 acres.

As such column 8 stated that the proposal was of insufficient size. Too many land owners and apparently after the East Airdrie Link Road (EALR) is built, not enough space. It also noted in Column 12 that there was “Significant challenges providing second point of access”, which is frankly ludicrous as it was sited on the current A89 main road and would be immediately adjacent to the new EALR. Column 11 also noted that this land, like Wester Moffat, was green belt land, but had “limited potential for development” while the farmland at Wester Moffat had “potential for development”.

I accepted the above with a modicum of suspicion, as their reasons for removing the Plains/Clarkston proposal really didn’t stand up as far as I was concerned. Having now seen the results of the selection process and the map which accompanied it I am even more certain that something just wasn’t right.

P17-153_KEP_Wester Moffat_Site_Analysis

The picture above is the one which is currently being used to illustrate the now chosen site (the red outline and hatching has been added by me). The arrows emanate from what presumably is the centre of the site, and the yellow dotted line is the line of the EALR. The text “views out to golf course would suggest to me that the site will not take in the land currently occupied by the golf course, and neither will it go further north than the North Calder Water. Clearly it will be constricted by the EALR and by Stepends Road to the south. So a reasonable estimate of the maximum footprint which could be occupied by the hospital is outlined in red.

Compare this with the map above. In blue is my original submission to the selection process. The red line is an approximation of the line of the EALR. In yellow is the maximum footprint we know is available for the Wester Moffat site.

The land at Plains to the east of the EALR exceeds the maximum footprint available to the chosen site. It has direct access to the A89, could have direct access to the EALR, close access to the A73 and would be within walking distance of Drumgelloch Station (and would create a good case for a new Plains Station). The proposed site does not have any main road in the vicinity and it will be interesting to see how much additional infrastructure this will require.

The EALR was going to have a detrimental affect on Clarkston Glen, the extent of which is not known. What is known is that the new hospital site will certainly increase that effect on a small area of green belt which deserved better protection, and will instead now be eradicated.

Time for Alyn Smith to Wheesht for Indy

With the goings on over the last week I’ve now become convinced that the S in SNP stands for “schizophrenic” as they are trying to present so many different opinions as being representative of the party. It started with Alyn Smith MP launching an attack on certain interest groups within the SNP whose aims do not wholly align with his (Common Weal, Women’s rights) while being fully supportive of individuals and alliances whose aims are more in line with his “self indulgent views” as he puts it, transgender being a notable one.

This was followed by Humza Yousaf demanding that the SNP “must leave space” for BAME candidates. Does Alyn Smith approve of Mr Yousaf trying to change party policy to fit his “self indulgent views or is this a aim which he supports and which therefore escapes his wrath.

Elected politicians are elected to represent the people, yet often they seek office purely to advance their own personal agendas, and are using the framework of whatever party they join to do so, something which irritates me immensely when they say that they are voting with “their” conscience.

In the past I have written about my objection to women only shortlists, and my reasoning then is the same now; I want to see the best people elected, irrespective of sex, sexual orientation, colour or ethnic background. These principles apply to any other group from society, if you are good enough then stand an be elected on your merits, not because others were excluded .

Then there is “Comfy”Pete Wishart who also joined in alongside Smith with his attack on our pro-independence bloggers. At the present time I would take the opinions of the bloggers over those of those with financial skin in the game, especially one who stated that he wanted to be speaker of a parliament he had been sent to extricate us from. What personal gain is there to the Grouse Beater or the Barrhead Boy to criticise the SNP’s glacial approach to independence? What do they have to achieve by pointing out the repeated use of the“carrot and stick” by the party, other than to prick the conscience of those who deploy such tactics, or to alert the Yes movement to the fact and make sure that they become immune to it, and that they instead hold them to their promises.

The independence movement recognises that as the largest independence party is the SNP, and as such we need them to be successful, whether we support them wholly or not. We must be able to see when attacks on the SNP are warranted and when they are simply aimed at destabilising the independence movement as a whole. Unfortunately many criticisms of the SNP are not only warranted but self-inflicted, and if the bloggers or party members point this out, it is with the intention of having them sort things out, and Messrs Smith and Wishart would be minded to remember this, rather than go on the attack against people who want nothing more than independence. The bullying of party members at every level, such as Joanna Cherry down to the grass roots, for holding views which are unpopular amongst faceless cliques must stop. Scotland is on a race against time against an increasingly English Nationalist parliament’s wishes to close it down, and they need to regain focus on their real goal – independence. Whenever voices are raised within the grass roots about the kind of Scotland they want, be socialist, be it a republic, be it in or out of NATO, they are told to “wheesht” for indy, that there will be plenty of time for that after independence. Perhaps those on charge of the SNP should bear that in mind too, keep your self-interest to your self and create a Scotland right now which we can all rally to protect, one which even the dwindling unionists might think twice about losing.

Coronavirus: When Do We Close The Schools?

With much of the country at level three of the Scottish government’s restrictions, and with the possibility of some areas moving in to level four, I noted with great concern that at no point in the variety of measures which are being engaged are schools required to close. Here in North Lanarkshire we are at level three and are repeatedly being told that we are on the verge of moving to the next level. As I look around I see that many people are still not wearing face coverings or maintaining social distancing. A visit to a supermarket on a Friday or Saturday evening will undoubtedly see people clearly dressed for a night out and stocking up on alcoholic drinks, making a mockery of the rules on visiting other people’s houses for socialising. However, outranking all these concerns is the fact that at all levels of restriction the schools are remaining open.

As a parent I receive almost on a daily basis one or more letters from my child’s school advising me that another pupil or staff member has tested positive, but we should not worry as the virus is not being transmitted in the school. I find it utterly bizarre that we are meant to believe that all of these affected children and staff are somehow contracting the virus outside of school, coming in to school, but not passing it on in the school! While the letters continue to reassure us, our children do actually talk to each other and what we hear does not match up with the official position. There is no social distancing (at least in our school), with children sitting two to a desk and the school has no seating plan to assist with effectively tracing those who have been seated next to someone who tests positive. Yesterday around lunchtime we passed by some shops and were horrified to see around 80 children tightly packed around a takeway, making any attempt to track and trace pointless anyway should one test positive.
Pretending that all is well in the schools has to stop, and the Scottish government must immediately call a halt to the school year until such times as social distancing can be effectively introduced, and if it cannot then other methods must be explored. There needs to be urgent discussion with the teaching unions to bring in measures to reduce class sizes, and if this means staggering classes across seven days instead of five then this needs to be looked at, as should distance learning or the utilisation for education of community centres, town halls and sports centres to give more room for social distancing.
We are hearing that a vaccine is on its way in the immediate future, but in the meantime let us adopt a zero-covid strategy and ensure that transmission through schools ends now, so that every pupil  can continue their schooling only when it is safe to do so – and not a minute before. 

The Cherry Clause

In today’s National I read an article on Scotland’s only MP to be standing for Holyrood, Neil Gray, who will be standing in this constituency, Airdrie & Shotts, and my heart sank. Perhaps the last few years have made me a tad cynical, but this article highlighted the effect the “Cherry Clause” will have on Mr Gray and his staff – that he will have to resign his seat and make his staff redundant. Excuse me, but weren’t they elected to “settle up, not settle down”? Weren’t they elected to effectively end the jobs they were elected to fill? Being an SNP MP should not be looked at as a long-term career prospect, not for the MP, and not for their staff. As an independence campaigner, the idea that those elected on behalf of our movement get comfy in their position and dish out jobs to friends, family or cronies is utterly abhorrent. Didn’t we boot the Labour Party out for that?Mr Gray’s move is presented as a gamble and that he is taking nothing for granted, but I would imagine that he will be afforded a high enough place on the party list to ensure that one way or another he and his staff will be working in Edinburgh and not London next year; By then though, Airdrie will have endured another less than transparent SNP selection process and may or may not still have an SNP MP, and if it doesn’t will it really matter? Is there any point sending pro-independence representatives to London to scrutinise the schemes of the Tories, to rail against them as the government walks out in front of their faces or jeers them down, and to a broadcast media who cuts back to the studio when they open their mouths? Pardon me for not getting excited at the thought of this situation continuing.I want to see no SNP MP’s at Westminster or anywhere else. I want the term MP to be consigned to the history books. For that to happen the SNP must be brought to their senses and made to understand that for me, and others like me, one more mandate to add to the collection is not good enough. Their continuing in government in Holyrood is not an acceptable substitute for independence. So, get your eyes off your bank balances and back on the prize. Let independence be your reward – the same as it will be for the rest of us.