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Willie’s Big Bold Package

CdgENXoW0AABhxVNicola Sturgeon took the opportunity at SNP conference to slaughter the Conservative Party’s attacks on the most vulnerable. It was a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. But while the Tories slump at 13% of the vote, the Liberal Democrats could be facing a ‘extinction event’ at the Holyrood elections. Jo Coburn put that to leader Willie Rennie on the Daily Politics show citing polls of his party bumping along at 4%. His response? “Oh, come on, none of this dismal talk”. “We’ve a great chance of growing this time”. “We have a big bold package for this election”.

But if Rennie talks tough – if unconvincingly – in the face of annihilation, other voices on the right are not feeling quite so positive. The impression that Scotland is divided by people just experiencing  a different daily reality is becoming more and more pronounced. The Brian Spanner account is an example not just of misogynist hatred and the Edinburgh establishments shameful omertà, but more than that it’s indicative of a political class that has lost the argument and has nothing useful to contribute to political dialogue.

Poor old Iain Martin sounds like he is losing his grip arguing (‘Blood and soil Nationalists are an embarrassment to Scotland‘): “…the attack on Question Time was more than ridiculous, it was deeply embarrassing, and as a Scot I was embarrassed by these clowns who were complaining and making their country and mine look ridiculous in front of the rest of Britain. Scotland is a terrific country with a lot to offer. It has long been outward-looking, it ran a third of the Empire which never gets mentioned.”

Quite right Iain, we should all celebrate the glorious empire more often. Developing his Nazi-inspired theme, the grim editor of CapX continues suggesting: “Perhaps non-ethnic Scots north of the border or those with an ambiguous accent can be compelled to wear a badge (a yellow thistle?) so they can be identified? Just an idea.”

This is the standard of journalism that is being pumped out by these people who will, presumably, next week be asking us to cry crocodile tears for their dying industry. The pro-indy movement as Nazi’s hasn’t had a run-out for a few months so it’s great to see it resurrected.

Over at the Herald the peevish David Torrance is festering away: “while Yes Scotland’s Project Fear was wrong on almost every front, Better Together’s was more or less bang on” and poor Alex Massie at the Spectator seems to be getting into a new paroxysm. The SNP should hold a referendum now, or they shouldn’t, or they should. It’s not very clear. Either way they are a bad thing.

“There are no plans for IndyRef2, at least not yet” we’re told before complaining that “Asking it to respect something as trivial as a referendum result asks the party to cease being itself. You might as well wish for the moon. Without independence, or at least the idea of independence, there’s no point to the SNP.” So they lose if they respect the referendum and they lose if they ‘disrespect’ the referendum. Not that you should, expect much clarity from a magazine that publishes ‘Liberals are the true heirs ofNazism’ or that it’s the fault of anti-Trump protestors that the Trump campaign is awash with violence (‘The anti-Donald Trump mob is Making America Scary’).

This is all lightly-bonkers stuff, but the impression that the unionist right is semi-detached from reality is gaining momentum. And, in the face of electoral meltdown, this detachment will only accelerate their confusion.

If these results are as polls suggest at least two of the three Scottish party leaders may have to resign. The commentariat will continue to write in indignant incomprehension at what is going on and platforms, such as the Herald and Spectator will continue to publish them in the name of ‘balance’.

Martin may feel that we should celebrate the Empire, and the ubiquitous Torrance may argue that Project Fear was actually the Yes campaigns mode of working, but the reality is that their Britain is sliding away, losing credibility every day. A Britain in which a Tory minister ‘wants UK pensioners to be low-wage fruit pickers’, a Britain in which homeless people will be evicted in their thousands from hostels as a result of government plans to cap housing benefit payments to vulnerable tenants, a Britain in which a growing number of people are sleeping in bins, is one in which most people in Scotland simply don’t want to be associated. As disability benefits are cut and people are sanctioned, it is this reality that people are experiencing as more and more of us fall prey to precarity and the disorienting world of austerity. This isn’t a Britain it’s easy to love.

A harsher more brutal Britain is emerging that simultaneously withdraws state protection whilst increasing state intervention. The surveillance state is growing. As Michelle Stanistreet writes: “When the British state has a total disregard for the protection of sources and whistleblowers then there are severe consequences for all journalists and press freedom.”

With George Osborne’s next round of cuts (forecast at £4 billion) in the offing, the irony is that these conservative pundits are nowhere to be seen. Where is their libertarian ire? Where is their focus on the ideological spell being cast over society by a government we didn’t elect? It’s nowhere to be seen because the enemy remains Yes voters and the SNP. Better Together won the referendum with a campaign built on fear and loathing but they cannot maintain this veneer of reality in the face of the ugly truth of British Tory rule as it unfolds before our very eyes. The notion of Britain we are asked to invest in is being dismantled. The union cannot withstand the social contract being broken. It has little left to sustain itself.

The departure of the Liberal Democrats may be an insignificance in Scottish politics but it is just part of the changing landscape that the commentariat is struggling to get adjusted to.

Comments (50)

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  1. Dennis Gowland says:

    You say it is not significant that the Liberal Democrats may well ‘depart’ – but does it not say more about the polarisation of politics and the society it purports to lead, that liberal democracy is thought no longer valid?

    1. Tony Little says:

      I had a lot of time for the Liberal Party when it WAS an actual Liberal party. It has morphed into a quasi-Tory-Lite mockery of its once proud principles. (Much the same thing happened to Labour under Blair’s leadership).

      The three UK parties (LibLabCon) have almost identical neo-liberal, market-focused, City-centric policies on the key drivers – economic and welfare policies. Of course there are minor differences, but the general thrust of their policies are the same.

      This is NOT a good thing (for comparison of a political environment with little material differences between the main parties, look no further than the USA). The UK and Scotland, NEEDS a more pluralistic body politic. I have no hope for the rUK, but Scotland does have a chance.

      When the next Ref comes we need a far better strategy to break away from the decline that is the UK in socio-economic terms in the 21st century. This can not last much longer.

      1. Tony Little says:

        Hmm seems as though the ‘i’ is not working properly!

      2. Steven Milne says:

        What do you think of Nicola Sturgeon telling Andrew Neil that an independent Scotland would deal with a budget deficit at 10% of GDP in the same way as the UK government dealt with the financial crisis of 2008?

    2. Scav says:

      The possible wipeout of the LibDems in May says the exact same thing about liberal democracy in Scotland as the wipeout of Scottish Labour in the general election said about social democracy. That is: those who support it no longer want to vote for parties who only pretend to.

  2. Jim T says:

    Check the list that hold the “banned” items and see if a random has been included.

    1. Jim T says:

      Aaaah, crap, you’d a thunk that ’twas easy to type words without the letter between h & j from the alphabet.

      Re-try …

      Check the sett1ng for exclus1on of naughty words and see 1f a random letter “aye” has been added.

      Just a thought.

      1. Bella Caledonia Webguy says:

        Well, well, I think the i family have just returned from their long extended weekend on Arran. As all my device tests ‘n’ checks are on the same wifi network, for those who now see the elusive i, please say aye.

        1. Bella Caledonia Webguy says:

          Not quite right this time Jim, but I like your thinking. (one to add to the check if all goes wrong list)

        2. John Page says:

          Yes, they had been on Holy sle for an extended retreat………

  3. muttley79 says:

    Is David Torrance literally metamorphosing into Alan Cochrane? Is it a tribute act? Iain Martin is really quite something, he has been banging on about the SNP being Nazis for ages, it really does not get any more absurd or demented than that. Alex Massie tried to convince us during the referendum that he was undecided, then he bizarrely claimed to be a Labour supporter during the general election….

    The problem that Martin/Cochrane et al have is they have stirred up the bampot/batshit crazy element of the British nationalist core in Scotland so much over the last 10 years that is becoming more and more obvious who the real extremists are in Scottish politics. Sadly I don’t think they care what they have done. As for Torrance saying that the No campaign got almost everything right, well he would say that wouldn’t he!….Anyone remotely neutral or objective would never buy that. That is just absolutely garbage.

  4. Tony Baloney says:

    Liberal democracy is still valid. The Liberal Democrats are not.

  5. Broadbield says:

    I read a bIt of MartIn’s garbage and read some of Spanner’s gratuItously Insulting barrel-scrapIng tweets. The ThIrsty Lord can usually be relIed upon for unpleasantrIes. There are some pretty nasty UnIonIst hacks out there, small-mInded, bIgoted, closet-racIst and completely dIvorced from the realIty I recognIse. It’s very sIgnIfIcant that the bIle Is maInly emanatIng from UnIonIst sources whIle the Indy sIde – WGD, Bella, Wings (edItorIals), Bateman etc are all very measured In theIr language.

    That’s not to say we shouldn’t have dIscussIon, but the Yoons refuse to debate, they sImply heap abuse because they have no posItIve message. Don’t they realIse they have been found out?

  6. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    “the Empire that never gets mentioned”.

    Christ almighty! Where does he think Hitler got the idea of concentration camps from?

  7. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    Beware the i’s of march.

  8. Rachel says:

    lol love the comments flightling alphabetlic adverslity

  9. Daisy says:


    Another great post!
    Would love it if you could have a read of my recent blog post – feedback is much appreciated! 🙂


    1. Jim Alexander says:

      @Daisy – The SNP will be in Power with a massive Majority for the next 5 Years – there is no Indy2 planned – so there is nothing to stop them putting forward Radical Policies to end close the Education attainment gap which is key to ending Poverty – show me the “Hope” show me the Policies – bottom line – Zilch zero – nothing will change.

      In her interview with Andrew Neil she freely admitted she would deal with the Budget Deficit the same way the Tories dealt with it – AUSTERITY yip – we have a Budget deficit – she freely admitted to close the gap she would deal with it THE SAME WAY AS THE UK Government

      That’s reality – not hope

      So in the New Scotland someone on the Higher Tax Bracket gets Free prescriptions – Why ?

      Please explain

  10. Alf Baird says:

    As in Bombay, Mombasa, Capetown, Singapore, Malta, Alexandria, Hong Kong, Auckland, Sydney etc etc etc before us………the British Empire steamer now sits waiting in Leith…..departing soon……..destination London……….one way ticket only………bon voyage!

  11. JohnEdgar says:

    The “unionist” remnants have nothing left. The Labour MP at Westminster becomes more hysterical by the day. The Lib Dem MP has been found out as a liar and the Tory MP merely “peeps out”.
    In the so-called commentariat in the media a mere cacophony!
    What is tragic for the three branches north of the Tweed is that the English press attacks on whinging Scots refers to all Scots not just the SNP. When the branch leaders express glee at the GERS figures and gloat, they do not see the irony that their unionist parties have been in charge of the macropolitical levers of power at Westminster. Their anti- SNP bleatings are an attack on their own country and own people, but they do not see it.

  12. Michael says:

    David Torrance – wow, that cool on-trend beard. What a hottie, and so, you know, on-trend…..He hasn’t, like, you know, missed the boat and adopted the style just as it’s becoming obvious to everyone that it looks as absurd as an 80s mullet. No definitely not…….

    1. kailyard rules says:

      Says Michael the Fashion Police goose-stepper.

  13. Elaine Fraser says:

    On experiencing ‘different daily reality’ did anyone see last nights BBC 6 o’clock news item supposedly looking at ‘ impact of 6ys austerity’ followed by Laura (?) walking along Downing St saying ‘ dont expect sunshine ‘ as Osborne will need to make more cuts blah blah …….there followed some senior civil servant acknowledging how difficult it will be to find any more ‘ efficiency savings’ but unless Im mistaken the next bit was a young disabled man who has had his 20 hrs support reduced to 2hrs a week with Laura explaining that its not necessarily all bad and the young man explaining that reduced support is now focussed on him being shown how to order his shopping online from Tescos. Is it me ? Could someone please confirm that I did actually hear this with no mention of increase in food banks, homelessness, sanctions and so on .

    1. annie says:

      Yes you did indeed hear correctly. His 17 hrs weekly contact with another human being is now being replaced with a 10 minute weekly contact with the Tesco delivery driver which he will pay for.

  14. Matilda says:

    Yes you heard correct… I saw that report too and was thinking WTF??!!

  15. Robert Graham says:

    where Is Police Scotland’s money Wullie ? Has CarmIchael got It ? oh thats right he faIled to extract Punitive Damages in a court case where he was branded a LIAR oh dear how sad .

  16. john young says:

    Our children should have been taught Scots history instead of the history of the great British Empire,they might then have been proud of their countries acheivements,no wonder the English are proud of their country,they are/were promoted positively at every turn instead of the doom and gloomers in our country.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      “Our children should have been taught Scots history”

      And Scots language an aw! Might as well go the whole hog, like most other normal countries. Maist Scots spik Scots ok but canna scrieve brawly – eithly mendit tho. English language wis garred doon wir thrapples, juist like English history, an still is!

    2. Anton says:

      @ John Young: I can only speak for myself, but at school I was taught Scots history, and

      @ Alf Baird: I was taught the Scots language too, by way of celebrating Scottish literature.

      I admit this was some years ago, but was my school so exceptional? If so, things have gone downhill fast.

  17. JohnEdgar says:

    Mike Small mentions the two persons Torrance and Martin who are perceived to be an embarrassment when they utter forth or rather rant on. There is another journo who fits the bill. Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph. His so-called Commentary has been listed under the rubric Zany Comedy Relief in another website. Personal, court and family jesters of yesteryear are no more, but Alan Cochrane’s antics for his Telegraph audience would seem to be in the jester-mode. He seems to fit a modern version of that figure of fun and amusement from the 18th century the laird o’udny’s feel.

  18. Blair paterson says:

    Never mind if Rennie does not get back in as someone said he can always get his job back in the circus

  19. Craig says:

    Wullie has a big one?

  20. Jim Alexander says:

    the Lib dems just voted to legalise Cannabis on a UK level – they have put forward a policy of adding 1p on Income Tax to increase Education Funding dedicated to Children from poorer areas to close the Education Gap – how these equate to “neo-liberal, market-focused, City-centric policies on the key drivers – economic and welfare policies” I’m not sure – exactly what radical policies are being proposed by the SNP ?

    Reality is the SNP will be in government for the next 5 Years but aren’t proposing anything more Radical than any other party – have a go at the Lib Dems if you want but facts are facts they have two Radical Policies – and the SNP are proposing exactly what ?

    Mr Torrance is correct the SNP had there own version of Project Fear going on the NHS scare story about it being Privatised if we remained in the Union being an example.

    As for Mr Carmichael – – one man does not make a Party.

    1. Moray Man says:

      Mr Carmichael IS the Scottish Liberal Democrat Party at Westminster. He voted to drop more bombs on Syria. And the Lib Dem response to Carmichael’s behaviour spoke volumes for their integrity, or absence of any.

      1. Jim Alexander says:

        I would suggest that not every Lib Dem Member agreed with the stance the Party took with Mr Carmichael – the Syria Conflict is complex – all Wars are

        Getting back to the core part of the discussion the Lib Dems have put forward two radical Policies – decriminalising Cannabis & raising Taxes to close the Education attainment gap – show me where the SNP are putting forward radical Policies.

        reality is SNP Policies are designed to appease the Middle Class base – they know they have the Traditional Labour Vote already committed – they need the Middle Class voters – hence no raising of Taxes – Free University – Free prescriptions etc etc – show me where they are proposing Radical Policies ?

  21. Anton says:

    Certainly Nicola Sturgeon was right to highlight Conservative attacks on the vulnerable. But presumably the Scottish Government could go some way to neutralising these attacks, given the extra income tax-raising powers it now has available.

    So why did she say that she will “never use these powers”?

    Why not? What am I missing?

  22. willie says:

    I thought everyone voted Tory, I mean they’re the goverment, aren’t they.

  23. willie says:

    Oh sorry, Rise are our next government. They’ll sort Osborne and Cameron out. No need for the pesky SNP.

  24. Craig says:

    Why don’t the Liberal Democrats back Independence? It could transform their party. I may even vote for them again…

    1. Jim Alexander says:

      There is no Indy2 on the cards for the foreseeable future or until the House of Saud decides to stop pumping Oil – therefore backing or not backing Independence is a mute point

  25. Jim Alexander says:

    To Mike Small – your article slags of the Lib Dems which is fair enough but the single main cause of Poverty is poor education – the attainment gap has increased under the SNP

    The Lib Dem solution is to increase taxation by 1p to increase funding for poorer kids who struggle and Schools in poorer areas to help close the gap

    Would you care to explain whats wrong with this policy and why the SNP can’t support it

    1. Frank says:

      I was talking to room full of graduates only yesterday and they were all telling me how difficult it was to find meaningful employment? Underemployment is fast becoming one of the big social issues of our time and prevents a challenge for your ‘main cause of poverty is poor education’ thesis, a narrative which allows politicians left, right and centre to see education as a panacea for everything whilst completely ignoring structural issues relating to the economy. Education, education, education…only it’s not that straightforward.

      1. Jim Alexander says:

        I agree that underemployment is becoming a serious concern – however graduates still have the opportunity to relocate and find a job – as the Scottish Economy starts to slow and growth falls behind England then Graduates will migrate towards areas with jobs – however if you leave School and don’t get into Higher Education you are stuck in the Poverty trap and we have generation upon generation in this position

        The root cause of Poverty is lack of Education as it kills opportunity to progress

        1. Frank says:

          Don’t be so naïve Jim. The root cause of poverty is capitalism, coupled with the fact that significant sections of the population are now superfluous to the needs of the market. That’s a fact whether the proles are educated or not. I’m reminded of the Marxist sociologists Bowles and Gintis, in their influential, yet dated, Schooling in Capitalist America who wrote the following:

          “Go West, you man!” advised Horace Greeley in 1951. A century later he might have said: “Go to college”.

          Bowles and Gintis unpick the narrative that a good education is the key to unlocking the door which leads to the ‘good life’. Yet, the paradox of our contemporary moment, and one which your liberal analysis can’t explain, must surely be the fact that more people than ever before can now say, ‘I was the first in my family to go to university’, whilst at the time generational unemployment, zero hours contracts and chronic low pay are on the rise.

          1. Jim Alexander says:

            If the root cause of Poverty is capitalism explain why Countries like Sweden who have more right wing economic policies than the UK have such low poverty levels ?

            In any area of Scotland that has high poverty levels the local Schools will send very few pupils to Further Education without which these kids will never gain decent jobs and break out the Poverty Cycle – every Nationalist blames the Tories yet its within the power of the SNP to follow the lead of the Lib Dems to raise income tax to address the greatest problem we face as a Nation – the gap in attainment levels in Education ( which has actually grown wider under the SNP ) – so the question is simple – why aren’t the SNP putting there money where there mouth is – the answer is that they don’t want to lose the middle class vote by raising taxes – so Mike Small can have his smart arsed dig at Willie Rennie all he wants but at least he put forward a Policy and stated how it will be funded – so unless the SNP are doing similar then its Supporters are in no position to slag off the Lib Dems

    2. John B Dick says:

      SNP members can speak for themselves, but it seems to me that there are many factors affecting attainment and spending more money on schools is not necessarily going to have the effect you imagine.

      Are there deprived areas where attainment is better? If so why?

      I’d like to see an examination of causes before simply accepting Labour’s analysis of SNP=Bad and more money from the magic money tree will fix it. The problem is not new, and I wouldn’t give credence to whataboutery regarding Labour’s years in office either, though I don’t remember Labour making it an issue then.

      1. Jim Alexander says:

        First I’m not a Labour Supporter and can we stop the SNP Bad nonsense as its simply churned out everytime someone dares to call them to Account

        You are correct Labours performance on School attainment was terrible – however the gap between the Rich & Poor in attainment has grown wider under the SNP whereas in England its narrowing – that’s not “SNP Bad ” that’s holding a Government who have been in power since 2007 to account

        By increasing funding to Schools who are struggling you can increase teaching resources – run after School or Lunchtime support classes employ dedicated tutoring for small groups all of these things will make a difference

        In Higher Education the number of Part Time Students places has been halved – this means those at the bottom end of Society again miss out on a Second Chance – the Lib Dem penny on income Tax would provide additional funding to FE Colleges

        The Article is named “Willie’s Big Bold Package” in a sneering smart arsed manner – when in fact the Lib Dems do have a bold package – increase taxation to fund a better education for those art the bottom end of Society

        So rather than smart arsed headlines from Bella – I challenge Mr Small again – state what’s wrong with the Lib Dem proposal and what the SNP are doing about the gap in Education between rich & poor

        So Bella either puts up a reasoned argument or it withdraws the headline – because Willie Rennie is correct – his package is Big & Bold

  26. Jim Alexander says:

    Again I will ask Mike Small – you slagged off Willie Rennie – lets hear your argument against the penny on income tax to close the Education attainment gap for those at the bottom end of Society – Man Up and put forward your argument otherwise withdraw your article slagging off Willie Rennie

  27. Jim Alexander says:

    As for zero hour Contracts I think you will find that most surveys were split pretty evenly on those on them as to wither they were good or bad and a large % on them were students – the vast majority of emigrants from Eastern Europe find jobs therefore there are jobs in the UK

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