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After Hamilton, a Scottish Spring

The independent report by James Hamilton has absolved the First Minister and she is exonerated on all counts. The parliamentary committee – which reports tomorrow – might have been a counterweight to this but their leaks, their breaking of their own codes of conduct and their nakedly partisan behavior have completely destroyed their own credibility and status, nobody else.

Their report now lacks any credibility at all.

Meanwhile Jackie Baillie is on Channel 4 News denying the Hamilton report and Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross is still demanding her resignation as though she’d just been found guilty.

These politicians face a very uncomfortable next few weeks as their entire strategy was based on smearing and removing the First Minister. Now they’ll have to actually fight a campaign based on their policies. The Tories will have to fight the campaign based on the toxic vision as laid out by Boris Johnson. Labour will have to fight the campaign based on their leaders questionable commitment to social equality and Keir Starmers feckless opposition.

This result leaves the Pitchfork Bloggers and the Scottish Tories furious and the entire witch hunt against Sturgeon ending in nothing very much at all despite so much gnashing of teeth and fury.

Suddenly there is a Draft Referendum Bill, an election in a few weeks and the opportunity to blast open the constitutional question and move forward. Despite all the misery and dejection it’s Spring time. There’s work to be done.

Comments (51)

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  1. Justin Kenrick says:

    That said, do we need to redemocratise a rotten system through empowering citizens assemblies (randomly seleted representative samples of ordinary people) to focus on arriving at a shared understanding and shared solutions, instead of parties competing for power?

    1. Graham says:

      Ever since I first understood the meaning of “democracy” – government by the people directly – I have considered the party system to be opposed to real democracy, as you say, interested mainly in power, getting it and retaining it and every so often pretending to give the people a say about which government they want, while ensuring the people are kept firmly in their place. Citizen Assemblies has to be the way forward.

    2. Pub Bore says:

      [Disclaimer: PG – Paternal Guidance Suggested. The following might not be suitable for reading. This heteronymous post questions the assumptions that inform the above article and/or the comments that have been made by some of its other commentators; its poster has nothing substantive to say for her/himself. Readers are urged to seek paternal guidance as to its suitability for reading from one of the site’s self-appointed arbiters.]

      Aye, now you’re talking, Justin! Let’s take the ‘party’, and corporate interests in general, out of politics.

      https://www.sortitionfoundation.org

    3. Robert says:

      Agreed, it’s important to move towards direct democracy (including citizens’ assemblies) but we also need to make representative democracy work as well as possible.

      There should have been an independent judicial inquiry into the whole affair — not one conducted by an Irish lawyer personally selected by Sturgeon, and another parliamentary one that was undermined by political infighting.

      The casting vote in the parliamentary inquiry (which found the Sturgeon HAD broken the ministerial code) was that of Andy Wightman, a pro-Indy independent MSP. So it comes down to a question of who you trust more — Hamilton or Wightman.

      Of course most people made up their own minds months ago and will believe what they want to believe.

      1. Robert says:

        NB: The parliamentary inquiry found that “The First Minister misled the Committee by stating in her written evidence that she would not seek to intervene in the process. On the contrary she did offer to intervene.” This is a breach of the Ministerial Code.
        https://andywightman.scot/committee-on-the-scottish-government-handling-of-harassment-complaints

      2. James Hamilton was appointed by Alex Salmond in 2013. Nothing to do with Sturgeon.

      3. Pub Bore says:

        No, not a judicial enquiry; a trial before an unvetted jury of 12 randomly selected citizens.

        1. Pub Bore says:

          B*gg*r! Omitted the disclaimer again…

          PG – Paternal Guidance Suggested. The foregoing might not be suitable for reading. This heteronymous post questions the assumptions that inform the above article and/or the comments that have been made by some of its other commentators; its poster has nothing substantive to say for her/himself. Readers are urged to seek paternal guidance as to its suitability for reading from one of the site’s self-appointed arbiters.

  2. Chas Gallagher says:

    Good piece Mike but let’s have an inquiry into, what I believe, was a stooshie bought and paid for by the establishments, better together unionist dirty tricks dept. at Wastemonster. I might also ask why has no action been taken over the alleged perjury of Ms. H whose evidence was rubbished by another witness? If it was you or me then I would bet on us being huckled by the police. So have they been subverted by Wastemonster?
    I’ve no time for Labour, Fiberals or Tories but let me give Labour and Fiberals to think very carefully about how they vote tomorrow, for if they vote with the Tories what they are really saying to the people of Scotland is that, we don’t believe in democracy, we don’t believe in the UN doctrine that it’s every people’s right to choose how they want to be ruled and that they think it’s OK for their Human Rights as bound up in the Scottish Parliament to be removed by a Wastemonster Government that we did not vote for.

    1. Wul says:

      “Wastemonster”.

      Chas. Every time you use that word, you will switch off a large percentage of people who might otherwise have taken your comments seriously. Let’s call things exactly what they are.

  3. Brian McGrail says:

    Mmh … isn’t it more Russian Roulette time? Is anyone going to be held responsible for the unlawful and biased investigation within the Scottish Civil Service – who is that going to be, and what will they feel about carrying the can? Will the memory loss bug which has infected St Andrew’s House clear up once responsibility is laid bare? Alternatively, if no-one is held accountable, what does that say about the moral exceptionalism of Scottish institutions compared to the crooks down south?

    What about the £600,000 ‘missing’ from SNP funds and the fact 3 members of their finance committee resigned because they were not allowed to see the books? Were they really being expected to sign-off on something they didn’t know anything about?

    Then there’s David Davis being pursued by the Scottish Crown Office, to get him to cough up his source or ‘whistleblower’ (not a good look), but nothing has ever been done to find the Scottish Civil Service ‘whistleblower’ who leaked the decision report to the Daily Record, an act the communications regulator deemed to be ‘criminal’.

    Sturgeon will most likely win the election, then what? You can’t blame a jackal for being a jackal and hunting a wounded animal even when that animal shot itself in the foot, though they didn’t ‘mean’ to.

    We all know Boris lives in a bunker with the windows blacked out, appearing occasionally from behind a sliding door with a chainsaw in hand and blood on his apron – folks in Scotland should be frightened. Meanwhile, Nicola has been building a glass house for herself – a paragon of virtue, but it now looks like the glass house has been built on top of the bunker and a staircase in the dark arts runs between the two.

    I look at Sturgeon now and all I can see is a demagogue. There is the usual promise of alms, but those are not what she is about. She is a shrewd operator and a professional political agitator, not some hapless ‘poor woman’ victim.

    1. Hi Brian – what does “Sturgeon will most likely win the election, then what? You can’t blame a jackal for being a jackal and hunting a wounded animal even when that animal shot itself in the foot, though they didn’t ‘mean’ to” mean?

    2. James Mills says:

      ”I smell sh*te !” Or a very sore loser !

    3. Drew Anderson says:

      Please explain what you mean by the “Scottish Civil Service”?

      There is only one civil service & it answers to Whitehall.

  4. Alastair McIntosh says:

    Well said Mike. That’s all I can and need to say.

  5. florian albert says:

    The headline, ‘After Hamilton, a Scottish Spring’ is very similar to one written ten years ago – just after the 2011 Holyrood election. On that occasion, the headline was,
    ‘A Scottish Spring, At Last.’ Sadly, the last 10 years have been, overwhelmingly, a time during which the unequal status quo has survived , not merely intact but largely unchallenged.
    The furore over misconduct – real and alleged – has eclipsed normal politics. Thus, there has been almost no comment on the SNP’s decision to freeze council tax in the coming year. This benefits prosperous property owners and deprives the SNP government of money which could have been used to move Scotland in the direction of a fairer, more equal society. And, of course, it has been done on the brink of the Holyrood election.

    1. James Mills says:

      I would argue that the Council Tax ”Freeze” has benefited many many more poorer families in real terms than those on higher incomes . Free prescriptions , too , are a major benefit to those who , although in work , still found the increasing costs difficult to cope with .
      Yes , lots more could be done but you could say the same for Labour when in power ( in Scotland ) AND with a Labour administration in Westminster and what lasting changes to Scotland did they make .
      Grudgingly , they gave us Devolution , with the abominable D’Hondt voting system which has bequeathed us permanent numpties sitting in Holyrood on the List !

      1. florian albert says:

        The Council Tax is one way in which the SNP could have increased equality – by increasing tax on those living in expensive, valuable property and using the money to improve services. It chose not to do so.

        I do not like the D’Hondt voting system but the Scottish Parliament has chosen to leave it intact. Blame for the ‘numpties’ elected on the party lists lies entirely with the parties which drew up their own list and put these individuals at the top.

  6. Alba woman says:

    Agree Justin that citizen assemblies are part of the way forward in empowering communities….the council set up is such a repeat of the parliamentary system which closes people off from chances to share views, develop and implement policy. These structures would have to change radically …nothing changes if nothing changes…it can be done ..

  7. gahetacicl says:

    The day that Craig Murray got convicted in a prima facie politically motivated prosecution just for blogging is a funny time to be talking about a “spring.” A Putin apologist is subject to Putin-like repression at home. Meanwhile independence supporters, who in 2014 had some glimmer of a non-hierarchical, post-party politics culture, are treating parliamentary enquiries into political leaders like some kind of Old Firm derby. (Salmond won the “cup” of Fabiani but Sturgeon won the “league” of Hamilton, apparently: 1-0 Sturgeon.) The upshot? A cult of political victory, expediency and poll numbers has completely replaced veracity, inquiry, self reflection and sincerity. Sturgeonism has degenerated into a sort of Trumpism of the left, full of leadership loyalists who revel in dismissing the grave issues around separation of powers, independence of legal authority, and civil liberties raised by the current SNP’s actions. Like a parody of a 2014 cybernat made real, they want to know only that the “yoon media” is out to destroy their leaders, and that the “yoons” and their media must be repulsed.

    The independence Don’t Knows and the Labour voters who “loaned” the SNP their votes are certainly not impressed. The SNP’s internal democracy is shot to pieces, not least because of the habit of dismissing large segments of internal opinion as “pitchfork”, “QAnon-like” etc. They’re fighting their own NEC like Starmer purging Momentum, and earnestly cooking up similar “strong definitions” of bigotry to wield as weapons in the internecine battle. The country is more polarized than ever. This is of course more of a Sturgeon Winter.

    The “best” independence politics is going to get in this parliamentary term is a protracted saga of Punch and Judy politics in which the SNP rhetorically demand a Section 30 order from Boris, and both jockey attempting to make as much political capital as they can after his refusal. And during this war of position, meanwhile the Yes movement is going to be further corroded by the poison of that modish style of identity politics that makes compromise or shared perspectives about anything controversial utterly impossible, if not downright politically incorrect.

    1. James Mills says:

      ”The independent ‘don’t know’s and the Labour supporters who ”loaned” their votes to the SNP are not impressed ” – really ?
      So , you take it upon yourself to speak for thousands when you are condemning the lack of internal SNP DEMOCRACY ?
      What is your definition of ‘democracy ‘- one man one vote – and that ONE man is you !

  8. Craig P says:

    Personally I see this as the SNP’s ‘dodgy dossier’ moment. We’re going to elect them back in, but without enthusiasm because we know they’ve lost the way. And the Tories would be worse, so what option do we have.

    1. Wullie says:

      Personally, I will be enthusiastically voting for the SNP, so will the thousands of new members this past fortnight. 6

      1. Pub Bore says:

        [Disclaimer: PG – Paternal Guidance Suggested. The following might not be suitable for reading. This heteronymous post questions the assumptions that inform the above article and/or the comments that have been made by some of its other commentators; its poster has nothing substantive to say for her/himself. Readers are urged to seek paternal guidance as to its suitability for reading from one of the site’s self-appointed arbiters.]

        I must say, Wullie, that I’m not impressed by any of the candidates who are standing in my constituency. They’re all just ciphers for their respective parties. I might just have to deface my ballot paper again in protest.

    2. Graham Ennis says:

      Craig, they need to find their way back to the straight and narrow path. No more late night drinking, etc, and careful image projection.

  9. Jim Sansbury says:

    O. Mundell given a complete free run on Today program this morning to repeat accusations of lying on Sturgeons part.
    These accusations went unchallenged by Today presenter and if I were Sturgeon Id be suing the wee creep.

  10. Dougie Blackwood says:

    The aim of most of us is to achieve Independence for Scotland. Once that is achieved we can get away from the arguments surrounding it and the fake news and propaganda produced by unionists trying to prevent it. The Salmond enquiry was drummed up as a political action, not without a little smoke, aimed at getting both him and the SNP. He is set on revenge for his tarnished reputation and has not helped the cause of independence.

    The only path to independence is to get into a movement aimed at achieving it and at the moment that is only by supporting the SNP in the constituency votes and perhaps the Greens in the list, or one of the List only alternatives if they can get their act together and produce a single slate of candidates. Once the main aim is of independence is achieved then we can get hard into setting up the Scotland we want. That is not the sole vision of the SNP and I hope we can go toward the rainbow parliament that was hinted at in the first session after devolution.

    An independent Scotland needs to be refreshed with a broader based leadership and by encouraging more good people into managing it. How do we get rid of the many party hacks that infest the parliament at the moment? That is a task for new thinking and possibly a better electoral system after independance where all representatives need to win the votes rather than being appointed by party leaders.

    1. Pub Bore says:

      “Once the main aim is of independence is achieved then we can get hard into setting up the Scotland we want.”

      You think, Dougie? You don’t think that the establishment in Scotland (the whole matrix of official and social relations within which power is currently exercised) won’t use the independent institutions of government to manage our public affairs the way it wants? Do you think we’ll really be any better off than we are now?

      1. Pub Bore says:

        Sorry! I forgot the disclaimer.

        [PG – Paternal Guidance Suggested. The foregoing might not be suitable for reading. This heteronymous post questions the assumptions that inform the above article and/or the comments that have been made by some of its other commentators; its poster has nothing substantive to say for her/himself. Readers are urged to seek paternal guidance as to its suitability for reading from one of the site’s self-appointed arbiters.]

      2. Nothing is a given but just as right now its an extremely unusual event for Scotland to get at Westminster the party it wanted in office – but that would be guaranteed in an independent country – dismantling and replacing the entire infrastructure of elite power in Scotland would be a process in hand (before and after) independence. The hope would be that the energy wrought from the process of creating a new democracy would create an insurgency to do this. That is why it is essential to ‘imagine’ a new democracy – and to insist on transformation – not just change the flags.

        1. Pub Bore says:

          [Disclaimer: PG – Paternal Guidance Suggested. The following might not be suitable for reading. This heteronymous post questions the assumptions that inform the above article and/or the comments that have been made by some of its other commentators; its poster has nothing substantive to say for her/himself. Readers are urged to seek paternal guidance as to its suitability for reading from one of the site’s self-appointed arbiters.]

          This is true; the UK rarely gets the government that Scotland wants. But, then again, Westminster is supposed to reflect the will of the electorate across the whole of its jurisdiction and not just in Scotland, just as Holyrood is supposed to reflect the will of the electorate across the whole of its jurisdiction and not just in Dumfries and Galloway.

          And we might ‘hope’ and ‘insist’ all we want, but what does that signify, other than wishful thinking and impotent foot-stamping, when the régime – the ordered way of doing things – remains fundamentally the same?

          My old history teacher and mentor used to tell us that the Edinburgh bourgeoisie would only ever allow Scotland independent government when it judged it safe to do so; that is, under its own conservative terms. National liberation is therefore consequent not on our being allowed our own wee parliament in Edinburgh, but on the immanent deconstruction of the established order that emanates from our capitalist relations of production.

          Our historic task is not to collude with bourgeois nationalism, but to facilitate that deconstruction through the perpetual sabotage and disruption of the ordered way of doing things it simply reproduces and perpetuates.

          1. James Mills says:

            Your are beyond the point of tedium with your ”Parental Guidance ‘ strapline . You are living up to your Moniker !

          2. Pub Bore says:

            ‘PATERNAL guidance’, James. Do try to keep up! And I include the disclaimer, along with the moniker, advisedly.

            Nonetheless, I’m impressed by the quality of your response. It goes right to the heart of the matter raised.

  11. Robbie says:

    Could,not agree more Wullie roll on 6th May ,can’t wait to see headlines,Scotland Has Spoken.

    1. Wullie says:

      Just watch the membership bounce now! Personally I have been visiting licensed premises and avoiding pub bores for over half a century and will keep on keepin on!

      Wullie

  12. Squigglypen says:

    Just seen SKY BREAKFAST NEWS presented by Niall Paterson( Tuesday) He was questioning Ian Blackford and demanded to know if he accepted the committee’s findings that Nicola MISLED THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT. He wanted a straight yes or no from Ian. Blackford wisely began to talk about Hamiltons findings that absolved Nicola…Paterson interrupted in a most hostile way saying you are not answering the question..whereby Blackford said..I heard you say on your mic before questioning me that you intended ….’GIVING ME A KICKING’….Paterson did NOT deny it and kept on in a very hostile and partisan way..not the supposed even handed approach that Sky are supposed to show. ( read their code of conduct) I am emailing Riley the CEO of Sky news now. Part of the British Media have just displayed a hostile and corrupt attitude to Scotland. Try and see the interview. Niall Paterson…Sky Breakfast News ..bet you can’t find it. Mr Paterson appeared nervous throughout his program after the interview.i wonder why?

    1. Dougie Blackwood says:

      Looked it up. Only part in the clip.

      https://twitter.com/i/status/1374290770073632770

  13. Robert says:

    You can believe Hamilton and ignore the parliamentary inquiry if it makes you happy to do so. An unbiased observer would point out that as the casting vote on the parliamentary inquiry belonged to Andy Wightman, a pro-indy, independent MSP who apparently has no animus against Sturgeon. So it’s basically down to a question of who you trust more — Hamilton or Wightman.

    1. Robert says:

      I’d just add — that by continually and blatantly withholding information from the inquiry, the Scottish Government contributed more to undermining that inquiry than any member did by leaking.
      Also, in whose interest was it to undermine the inquiry? The SNP members, surely.

      1. Robert says:

        (You might also want to take into account the fact that Hamilton was personally chosen by Sturgeon to conduct the inquiry. https://www.thenational.scot/news/19145482.james-hamilton-man-decide-nicola-sturgeons-future/)

        1. John Mooney says:

          Hamilton was appointed by Salmond in 2013,so please get your facts correct before spinning your “Alternative Facts” straight from the Trumpian playbook!

          1. Ah right, but he was appointed by Salmomd

          2. Euan0709 says:

            Well said Moonman !!!
            Gain herself pal ………..

          3. Euan0709 says:

            John I put “gain herself”
            I should have sad “gain herself”
            Sorry big man

          4. Pub Bore says:

            [Disclaimer: PG – Paternal Guidance Suggested. The following might not be suitable for reading. This heteronymous post questions the assumptions that inform the above article and/or the comments that have been made by some of its other commentators; its poster has nothing substantive to say for her/himself. Readers are urged to seek paternal guidance as to its suitability for reading from one of the site’s self-appointed arbiters.]

            The pidgin is ‘gaun herself’, which derives from a contraction of ‘go on, herself’.

            A Scots equivalent would be ‘gang hirsel’.

    2. James Mills says:

      It depends what Wightman was voting for – misleading the committee/Parliament is an offence if done Knowingly but not if inadvertently or unknowingly . This happens frequently . She did apologise for mistakes she may have made .

      Whoever leaked the very selective parts of the report should be found and punished appropriately ! Do you hear loud cries from any member of that committee for such an outcome ?

      1. Robert says:

        “The First Minister misled the Committee by stating in her written evidence that she would not seek to intervene in the process. On the contrary she did offer to intervene. In the event, of course, she did not in fact intervene and that was the right decision.” https://andywightman.scot/committee-on-the-scottish-government-handling-of-harassment-complaints
        The Parliamentary inquiry wasn’t tasked with determining whether Sturgeon broke the ministerial code — but misleading the Committee, which she did, is such a breach.

  14. Graham Ennis says:

    hooray!!
    The massive thought control system of the media, fed stories of criminality and vendetta, has been denied its usual witch hunt.
    I think Nicola was a bit uncautious, and did not follow procedures 100%, but none of this is in any way a criminal offence. its just being a human being.
    By contrast, the campaign by the unionist right to bring her and the snp down, shows how nasty and incompetant they are.
    There is now a clear field of electoral campaigning. The thought strikes me however, that the Unionist parties, especially Labour, are mired in long term local council corruption, as are the Tories. I think some archaeology of this for after the election, would be quite useful.

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