2007 - 2022

A Parcel of Brogues

A host of top writers spent the week predicting “The Beginning of the End” for Nicola Sturgeon. Mike Small suggest the obituaries are premature and it tells us more about the state of the media.

This week saw hacks and pundits queuing round the block to announce the death of the independence cause and Nicola Sturgeon’s political obituary on the basis of a drop in her approval ratings and an interview with Laura Kuenssberg.

The feeding frenzy has been frothing for days. Big Oil enthusiast and nuclear lobbyist Brian Wilson writes (‘Independence is going nowhere’) “The Scottish Nationalists held their National Conference in September during the party conference season and now they have their Annual Conference in November. Oh well, a lot can happen in two months. For example, North Sea oil has lurched from bedrock of their economic case to pariah status, to be closed down post haste.”

In actual fact the economic case for independence being based on oil revenue was dropped many years ago. Wilson either knows this and pretends he doesn’t or doesn’t know it, either of which is pretty damning.

Next up came the remarkably predictable Alex Massie at The Spectator asking:Is this the beginning of the end for Nicola Sturgeon?

The answer of course was an enthusiastic yes. Sturgeon, the SNP and the prospects of independence are all doomed explains Massie:

“There is no prospect of an independence referendum at all, let alone one on the timescale favoured by Nicola Sturgeon and her party.”

“Boris Johnson is not blocking a plebiscite; the people of Scotland are.”

“The SNP ask us to believe that Johnson’s government — currently busy building a ‘wall of indifference’ on the national question — will buckle and accept that a referendum cannot be avoided. But if, as the SNP aver, the nationalists would win that referendum, why should Johnson agree to hold a referendum he would lose? What’s in it for him?”

The problem for this slightly desperate narrative is that it gets contradicted by reality that Nicola Sturgeon is the only UK political leader with a positive approval rating. YouGov polling this week showed Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar’s rating had plummeted to  -1, while Keir Starmer, has also seen a drop in his approval rating, which now sits on -35. Boris Johnson has an approval rating of -62. A massive 78% of people say he is doing his job poorly.

Beyond this a new poll out today (see The New Statesman) puts the Tories on losing 70 seats, Labour gaining 63 and the SNP up 7 to 55.

That’s a mandate on top of a mandate on top of a mandate, but it will make little difference to the commentariat who are content with relentless attacks on Sturgeon while Patel and Johnson rule the country we are tied to.

The entire “Will Sturgeon resign?” non-story ran all week – with media outlets feeding off each other to sustain it.

It’s true that Sturgeon’s popularity has dropped, no doubt due to her government’s disastrous handling of the drugs death crisis; failures in education and ongoing failures in health. It’s also true that there are considerable obstacles to getting – and then winning – a referendum. It’s also probably true that some of the momentum has gone out of the independence movement with people exhausted by the pandemic and scunnered by the lack of progress. It’s also true that there is an inherent tension between the SNP’s electoral success and their constitutional failure (more on this tomorrow). But the febrile attack-mob of the ‘lead writers’ is a spectacle of people who can’t face electoral reality and don’t really rate democracy. As Neil MacKay writes:  “When it comes to the future of Nicola Sturgeon, mass hysteria seems to have gripped some commentators. Like the Dancing Flagellants of the Middle Ages, or hillbillies mistaking Venus for a UFO, they’re a prisoner of their own fantasies?”

Unfortunately, so are we.

That the SNP could deliver an electoral result of 55 MPs after this length of time in office is remarkable. Massie and his ilk play a dangerous game. Their casual disregard for electoral mandates has potentially dangerous consequences. If elections don’t count, if people are ignored, something has to break. Imagine being (nominally) Scottish, watching the past two weeks of the Patel-Johnson Shitshow and thinking the best thing to do is celebrate Boris Johnson’s “wall of indifference.”

Comments (26)

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  1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    I suspect that in the scenario predicted by the New Statesman, that the Lib Dems under Davey would take their chances with the Tories – he got a knighthood out of it last time- and, with 7/8 Ulster Unionists, there would be around 315 MPs which equals the total for Labour, SNP, PC and Greens. Given Labour’s reluctance to be seen to have any sort of association with the SNP, it is likely the Tories would be able to continue in power.

    So, if as you say, ‘elections don’t count’ and the people of Scotland are ignored, something might, indeed, break. Would a ‘terrible beauty’ be born?

  2. Alex McCulloch says:

    With the SNP policy approach resulting in an ever increasing share of the vote , now approaching 50%, they are certainly not stalling progress towards Independence!
    People can see the changes in their everyday reality and easily judge what is impacted by SNP/Green government policy and what is a result of Tory Westminster government policy. Unfortunately further confidence in choosing to opt for full self determination and choice on policy and allocation of resources is constantly undermined by both the media bias and Unionist propaganda and the inane, ill informed attacks by so called Independence supporters ( See Alex Salmond @Sunday Mail article / Jonathon Shafi @Herald article)
    SNP it’s members and supporters doing their part, along with the overwhelming majority of the wider YES movement.

  3. Paula Becker says:

    ‘Control: this is the story of the times. Across the world we are seeing an unprecedented claim to control staked by the forces of the state, in alliance with the forces of corporate capital, over your life and mine. All of it converges on the revealed symbol of our age: the smartphone-enabled QR code that has, with frightening speed and in near-silence, become the new passport to a full human life. As ever, our tools have turned on us. Another revelation: they were never our tools to begin with. We were theirs.’
    -from Paul Kingsnorth’s brilliant essay ‘The Vaccine Moment, part one’ https://paulkingsnorth.substack.com/p/the-vaccine-moment-part-one

    1. Bruce says:

      Thank you so much for posting this link Paula.

      This is a brilliant essay and I hope it is widely shared.

      I was interested to see that he was formerly deputy editor of The Ecologist.

    2. greenergood30 says:

      Kingsnorth’s article has some important points about government coercion and where that’s going, but there are also misleading statements, for example, ‘We are moving towards enforced mandatory vaccination of entire populations – including children. ‘ The UK and certainly the US have had mandatory vaccinations for children for many, many years. Of course, some children were probably affected in not very good ways, but vaccinations have protected children, and their families, from poli, smallpox, measles, whooping cough, rubella, mumps, etc. etc. Med students were vaccinated against Hep B in the 80s and 90s to keep them safe for themselves and to not transmit Hep B to patients; the actual evolution of the Covid vaccine had been in the making for many years – it’s not an instant, untested wonder drug. The vaccine isn’t even an amazing money-maker for Big Pharma – a lot (of course, not all!) of the Big Pharma companies waived their fees. Don’t worry – they’ll make their money elsewhere, but why is it that so-called ‘developed’ countries have active anti-vax groups, while so-called ‘developing’ countries are crying out for vaccine equality. Maybe because the latter know that their health care systems, if they exist at all, are sorely lacking and a Covid vaccine would really help them, while we in the ‘developed’ countries have the luxury (actually illusion in many situations) of ready access to GPs and hospitals and ICUs, etc.

    3. Mons Meg says:

      It’s not clear why you think that having to prove one’s status as a condition of entry into certain premises detracts from one’s liberty? One can still choose freely whether one conforms to that condition or not; i.e. there’s no coercion involved. And since the condition applies equally to everyone, it’s just insofar as there’s no discrimination involved.

    4. Mons Meg says:

      As for Paul Kingsnorth:

      ‘I would like to tell you a few things about this virus and the lessons it should teach us, all the things we should be learning. I would like to add my voice to the crowd and be heard above it. I would like to say: fish have returned to the Venetian canals now that humans have stopped polluting them. I would like to say: the clouds of air pollution over Italy and China have dissipated since people were prevented from causing them with their cars, planes, factories. I would like to say: up to 80,000 premature deaths which would have been caused this way have probably been prevented in China by the shutdown of the economy. I would like to say: carbon monoxide levels in the air above New York have collapsed by 50 percent in a single week. I would like to say: Nature recovers swiftly when we stop our plundering of Her bounty. I would like to say: lift your gaze, humans. I would like to say: we can learn from this, we can change.’ – Finnegas.

      I think he sees the spread of the virus as a Good Thing; like climate change, a kind of judgement of Nature that we shouldn’t presume to challenge; a cull.

      1. Yes. There is a strain of Deep Ecology that views the environmental crisis as a problem of humans rather than a problem of economic systems. Its deeply misanthropic and lacks any analysis of power.

        1. Paula Becker says:

          These economic systems you talk of – are they Human economic systems, or are they Zebras economic systems?

        2. Mons Meg says:

          I’ve some sympathy for Kingsnorth’s notion of the Great Disruption; the idea that what we’re seeing in events like the pandemic, climate change, global market meltdown, and moral decay are symptoms of the inevitable deconstruction of our current relations of production, ‘civilisation’, or form of life (‘capitalism’/’modernity’).

          I’ve none, however, for the notion that this is some sort of judgement for man’s sins against nature or for the notion that we will be somehow ‘born again’ as simple hunters and food-gatherers our of the baptism of fire that will be the coming apocalypse. And, apart from the moralism of this eschatological narrative, I’ve no sympathy whatsoever for any such prophecy for the reason that revolution is by its nature ‘impredictable’ and its outcome undecidable.

    5. Wul says:

      Paula, why pick on a public health measure becoming ” the new passport to a full human life” when there are so many other hurdles to your “full life” that are entirely arbitrary?

      To get into a night club these days you usually need to be:
      Around the “right” age for the club, dressed in the appropriate fashion clothing, not naked, not obviously under the influence of alcohol or drugs, behaving according to arbitrary social norms, not carrying any weapons, accepting of the authority of the bouncers on the door, carrying a means of payment in a currency acceptable to the club owner, speaking at the “correct” volume, not accompanied by pets or other animals, not blood-stained, not eating or wearing food stuffs……you get the picture?

      You’ve never had license to do exactly as you please.

      1. Mons Meg says:

        I think Paula has a problem with licenses generally, of which a vaccine certificate is only a specific example. A vaccine certificate licenses you to travel to other countries and attend certain events, in exactly the same way that a passport or an admission ticket does, and in exactly the same way that a driving license licenses you to drive a car on a public road. Presumably, Paula would like all activities to be unlicensed, with no terms and conditions being placed on our participation.

      2. Paula Becker says:

        Hi Wul, the crucial fact here is that the ‘vaccines’ do not prevent transmission of the disease. Therefore ‘vaccine’ passports cannot be an effective public health measure and therefore we should not discriminate against those that don’t have them.
        See Big Brother Watch https://bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/

        1. Mons Meg says:

          Is that a ‘fact’, Paula, or an ‘interpretation’? (Hint: God is dead; in our post-truth world, there are no ‘facts’, only ‘interpretations’.)

          And in any case, the function of a vaccine is not to prevent the transmission of a virus, but to provide acquired immunity to the disease that virus can produce in its hosts as it spreads, thereby reducing the incidence of that disease in a population and thereby, in turn, making the scale of that incidence more manageable socially.

  4. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    “It’s true that Sturgeon’s popularity has dropped, no doubt due to her government’s disastrous handling of the drugs death crisis; failures in education and ongoing failures in health. ” Where did that collection come from? Her Government’s handling of the drugs death problemhas been seriously hampered by the fact the power to do anynthing significant about it remains in Westminsters hands, I have no idea what the failures in education are apart from more young Scots than ever at university,tertiary educatio or training onthe back of thehighest ever successful higher results and our under pressure SNHS is doing hugely less badly than the NHS on England which is in collpase in some areas. This is just constant repetition of unionist guff and lazy journalism at its most obvious. The two area in which Scotland were doing demonstrably better that England during this national crisis has to be attacked relentlessly and sadly we have a number of commentators who swallow the guff .

    1. David B says:

      In education: the attainment gap has remained static, the SQA has had to be dissolved, thousands of teacher vacancies are unfilled, yet there is a shortage of places on teaching courses, and some good experienced teachers from England can’t register with the GTC due to daft technicalities.

      On health: in the town where I live there wasn’t a single dentist registering patients even pre-pandemic, our GP closed and was merged with another with no extra allocation of staff, our hospital maternity service was “temporarily” downgraded 3 years ago meaning a 4-hour round trip for most women to give birth. On the latter, a review was conveniently announced on the last day of the last parliament, due to report in June. The terms of reference were immediately watered down after the election and there’s still no sign of the report.

      If you ignore all this as ‘unionist guff’ I think you will alienate a lot of undecided voters.

      1. Wul says:

        You raise good points David.

        Lets have independence then! Once independent we will know exactly where responsibility lies. At the moment our Scottish NHS is funded pro-rata to whatever Westminster spends on England’s NHS. Let us stop allowing Scottish leaders to have a get-out-clause.

        ( Although to be fair, I don’t hear Nicola Sturgeon blaming Westminster for her own target failures)

        1. Mons Meg says:

          The Other (Westminster, immigrants, elites, Eurocrats, Putin, China, Tories, Communists, clandestine conspiracies, Unionists, Nationalists, Jews, Freemasons, Catholics, Satan, the Queen, etc., etc.) is always responsible. And where there is no Other, it becomes necessary to invent one.

  5. James Mills says:

    ”On going failures in health ” ??
    Do you mean the continual ambulance chasing and the creepy , morbid politicising of a child’s death by Anus Sarwar ? Sadly , supported by BBC Shortbread who constantly portray Scotland’s Health Service as on its knees , often using misinformation and selective data to achieve their end
    .
    Scotland has more nurses , GPs , hospital beds and ICU beds per head of population than the rest of the UK and has faired better than England in this pandemic – yet the BBC and other media continually mislead with their negativity towards Scotland .

    1. Mons Meg says:

      Are you saying that the NHS in Scotland isn’t teetering on the edge of crisis? That this is nothing but misinformation put out by the BBC as part of a Unionist conspiracy?

      1. Dum Bass says:

        Are you asking as a unionist? West-Mons-ter?

        Guess you didn’t see the hour long documentary, on the BBC and biased unionist reporting..

        *A conspiracy is something thought to be going on.
        Not something which has been shown! to be going on.

        1. Mons Meg says:

          No, I’m asking as Mons Meg. James seemed to be suggesting that reports in the media that the NHS in Scotland is teetering on the edge of crisis are nothing but fake news put about by folk who want to do Scotland down. I was just asking him if he really believed this.

          I didn’t see the documentary. Whose channel was that on?

          And a conspiracy is a secret plan made by two or more people to do something that’s harmful or illegal.

      2. Wul says:

        After two decades in public service provision, it seemed to me that “teetering on the edge of a crisis” was how we like our public services in the UK.

        It’s services for people that our ruling class despise. Why fund them properly? They only considered feeding us properly when they saw the state of the scurvy, malnourished crew that showed up to fight WW1.

        1. Mons Meg says:

          And the two main political questions of the age have been ‘What do we mean by “properly”?’ (The NHS is such that it can never have a sufficiency of funding.) and ‘How?’

          1. Wul says:

            True. More service creates more demand.

            One thing I have noticed within my own family however is that owning land, reducing debt and reliance on salaried employment frees up time and “head-space” to look after the elderly, sick and needy within and without the family. Perhaps the treadmill of consumerist living reduces or ability to deal with the normal “sair fecht” stuff of life and makes us more dependant on state “support”?

          2. Mons Meg says:

            I’ve found that too, Wull. I own a wee bit of land (enough to live on), I don’t have any debt, and I gave up salaried employment to work in the gig economy nearly 30 years ago, since when I made a career out of not having a proper job. During that time I’ve raised three children, supported family and neighbours through illness, old age, and death, and worked towards the realisation of my own species-being.

            Species-being (or ‘happiness’) is the pinnacle of human life; it’s a type of self-realisation or self-actualisation brought about by self-creative work. Thankfully, I’ve largely escaped the relations of production that produce ‘unhappy’ individuals, or commodified units of labour who are alienated from the products of their work. By reconnecting my work to the project of my own self-creation and striving against heteronomy and towards self-governance, I’ve returned to my species being. Hence, I can honestly say that I’m a happy chappy.

            Of course, I’m privileged; others are obliged to divert their work into goals and activities dictated by those who own the means of production in order to extract from their work the maximal amount of surplus value possible (that is, the amount of value over and above the bare minimum that the owner needs to leave his worker in order to sustain that worker as a unit of labour). It’s this expropriation of the worker’s work by the owner of her/his labour that prevents the worker under capitalist relations of production from realising her/his own species being as an autonomous, self-creative agent.

            For the past 30 years, I’ve been in the fortunate position of not having to commodify my labour and sell it to another individual or the state in order to survive. It’s this good fortune that’s enabled me to live humanely, as ‘communist man’, rather than as a commodity.

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