2007 - 2022

Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon: The limitations of mainstream politics and leadership

Gerry Hassan assesses the state of the nation (s) and the broken politics of the moment.

UK government and politics are not in a good place. They have been traduced and trashed in ways once unimaginable. Boris Johnson has presided over an administration that is, from top to bottom, almost unbelievably incompetent, and worse. It lies naturally and serially, scorning the law and due process, and is, in effect, vandalising government, the civil service and public standards.

However, fifteen years of SNP rule in Scotland have not left us in a good place either. All across society and public life there are questions about government, its competence and issues of judgement and accountability – from ferries to trains, to education, hospitals, police and local government.

This current state of affairs across Scotland and the UK seems some kind of milestone. Westminster and Whitehall have become broken, discredited institutions whose commitment to public service and decency have been lost along the way, for all the undoubtedly decent civil servants still trying to meet high standards.

Boris Johnson’s shoddy, careless leadership is part of this story, but it is not the whole story. He has dramatically diminished the office of Prime Minister and status of the Cabinet, though these have been in long-term decline for decades. This raises huge questions for the UK and Scotland. How do we get out of this mess? How do we put government and leadership back together?

The moral debasement that is Boris Johnson’s Premiership and modern Toryism

The crisis of Boris Johnson’s Premiership has been much written about and will be more again over the coming days and weeks. But it has to be seen as part of a bigger story, which is not just about Johnson and his shortcomings as a human being and politician. How on earth did the Tory Party come to elect such a person as its leader? The simple answer, in terms of Tory MPs, was electoral desperation.

An additional factor in all of this is the transformation of Toryism and how it does politics. Government has become about saying you are doing things, pretending that you are doing them, rather than actually getting your hands dirty by doing the difficult tasks and business of government.

In many areas, keeping a distance between themselves and actual government works for the populist right. They can use failures of public policy – the £37 billion PPE contracts; the grotesque, indefensible crony capitalism involving their close pals – to discredit the very idea of government and decent public standards. They can use it as an excuse to outsource and further corporatise public services, cynically undermining belief in government as a force for good, which creates in voters a sense of fatalism and powerlessness.

UK Government will not return to some kind of ‘normal service’ post-Johnson. Rather the forces within Toryism – the obsession with Europe; the hostility to immigration combined with xenophobia and racism; the weaponising of so called ‘culture wars’; the accruing of powers within the UK to central government, while increasingly riding roughshod over the rule of law and due process, are now deeply embedded within the party. All of this while waxing lyrical about a mythical idea of Britain – a superpower in tech and soft power, leading the world as Tory ministers claim on Ukraine. Post-Johnson, the Tories will still be defined by such a heady cocktail of bigotry and posturing.

The notion of a Labour Government riding to the rescue, putting back together the broken government and public services of the UK, is unfortunately not as available as it was in previous times. A major constraint is that Labour need to win 120-130 seats to have an overall majority of one seat; and the reality is that even a majority Labour Government with a slender majority would not have the room and political capital to effect major change.  If the Tories are defeated, a much more likely scenario is one in which a minority Labour Government, with all the instabilities that entails, refuses to make common cause with the SNP, just as they refuse to enter into any pre-election ‘progressive alliance’ against the Tories.

The state of Scottish politics after the SNP’s fifteen years in office

In Scotland, government and public life is not in the degenerate state it is in Westminster and Whitehall. Yet the fact that Scotland has not fallen as far and markedly as the UK has, is not cause for celebration. Indeed it is the wrong measurement, allowing for complacency and even in places self-congratulation.

After fifteen years in office, the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon seems to be bereft of political strategy, feel and purpose. The Daily Telegraph’s Tim Stanley might describe the SNP as ‘a left-wing nationalist government’ but no one who knows and follows Scottish politics would misrepresent the SNP and its inherent centrism in such terms.

Sturgeon is now the longest serving First Minister in the two decades of devolution: 7 years and 186 days when she surpasses her predecessor Alex Salmond today. She has many qualities – she is an able, gifted public communicator who can talk in a connected, concerned human way about issues of government. She is a proven manager and administrator who, unlike Johnson and the Tories, clearly cares and is passionate about government and public services. And she is still, seven and a half years into her time in office, relatively popular – surprisingly popular, in fact, given the record of her government.

But it has been obvious for a long time that Sturgeon, for all her qualities, is not really a leader. A leader sets a direction and has a strategy; it is clear that Sturgeon has neither in terms of her domestic agenda or on the subject of independence. Instead, she is drawn to micro-management and command and control from the political centre, which has increasingly degenerated into firefighting and the erosion of political antennae at the heart of the Scottish Government.

There has been a conspicuous lack of delegation and trusting others, even including SNP Cabinet ministers and senior members. She has failed in her seven years at the top to build a collective team around her who could support her and act as soundboards to keep her from being isolated. She is really an administrator, someone whose qualities rose to the fore in the COVID pandemic, and who as a technocrat and manager would have been ideally suited to the era pre-Scottish Parliament when the country was run by such people.

The limits of mainstream politics from Toryism to hollowed out social democracy

Of course, in many ways the differences between Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon could hardly be wider. They have little in common as politicians in their priorities and styles as leaders. But they do share some commonalities governing in an age of anti-politics and anti-government.

The first is that the clocks are now ticking on both of their periods in office. Whatever the Tory reaction to the Sue Gray report on serial lawbreaking in Downing Street in the immediate and how the Tory mood evolves if they face significant by-election losses in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton, Boris Johnson’s days as Prime Minister are now clearly numbered. In very different circumstances Nicola Sturgeon becoming the longest serving First Minister begins the countdown to her end days, with it being increasingly apparent that she will not serve a full term and stand again in 2026 – taking it as a given there will not be an independence referendum in 2023.

The second is that from opposite directions neither has managed to reinvent government or find a credo for the state and public services. With Johnson this is because he does not have the character or discipline to do the hard work and focus, and instead has ‘governed’ in a haphazard way with a catch-all kind of administration, while at times giving raw meat to the hard right in the party and media.

Sturgeon’s shortcomings are more complex. Partly it is the nature of the SNP’s thin commitment to social democracy; partly it is the desire to keep together the party’s ‘Big Tent’, which means it has to straddle the centre ground and not take distinct, bold positions; partly it is the absence of any serious electoral challenge to the SNP (so far) which encourages an air of complacency. But part of it has to come down to Sturgeon’s style as a leader – which has been to avoid strategy, long-term direction, making priorities or being explicit about tough choices – and this is, crucially, true about government and independence.

Historian Tom Devine assessment is that Sturgeon’s reign has failed to reduce the ‘continuous blight’ of poverty, increasing social inequality and challenges in education. James Mitchell of Edinburgh University thinks that the Sturgeon years will be remembered as: ‘A series of avoidable policy failures, over-hyped promises and lack of focus on the everyday concerns of most Scots.’

Johnson and Sturgeon will, in retrospect and in different ways, be seen as transitional leaders who did not face up to the big issues of the day. Johnson will leave UK government, public life and standards in a sad, sorry state, the repair and renovation of which may prove to be beyond the wit of future leaders and governments, irrespective of their political colour.

Sturgeon’s legacy and the world after her period in office is more difficult to gauge. Some of it will depend on the nature of her exit from government. But it is clear that she will leave office with the Scottish Government, SNP and society, having deliberately postponed the big debates and choices which face Scotland – from public services to independence and our collective future.

If we are to get out of the mess that we are in and put government and public services back together, in Scotland and in the UK, we are going to have to ask some difficult questions. It is fairly clear that shambolic populist Toryism is ill-suited to address the big issues, but so is the SNP’s uber-cautious incremental centrism – which, while not being morally repulsive and venal like Toryism – is about postponing and ducking the topics we need to confront.

We live in a world of disruption, dislocation and constant change. Politics in Scotland and the UK has proven unable to properly deal with this. Post-Johnson and post-Sturgeon, politics is going to have to map out a terrain after both traditional Toryism and the SNP’s tepid, apologetic social democracy. We should start thinking about the parameters of the centre-left politics now: addressing runaway capitalism, corporate capture and climate change, along with how we reinvent government, public services and democracy.

Looking back on recent years, it is now incontrovertible that the leaderships of Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon – two people and politicians different in so many ways but both starting with significant popularity and as proven election winners – have shown the limitations and inadequacies of what today passes for mainstream politics.

UK politics, government and democracy are irredeemably broken, but Scottish politics has no room for self-congratulation and has to look candidly at itself, and do much better. That only starts with an honesty about the inadequate nature of the politics which claims to govern us and represent us both here in Scotland and the UK.

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Comments (40)

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  1. JohnDarge says:

    This not good enough.

    Sure Nicola has shotcomings, but drawing an equivalence of any kind with Johnson is just a lazy old-Labour-sympathiser’s excuse for not thinking – ignoring the massive difficulty of what she has had to content with.

    1. 220525 says:

      The only equivalence Gerry has drawn between Boris and Nicola is in the limitations and inadequacies of what today passes for mainstream politics that their respective leaderships have shown. Are you denying that Nicola’s leadership has shown any such limitations or inadequacies?

      1. JohnDarge says:

        Clearly not, if you read what I have written.

        But the equivalence he seeks to draw is clear and starkly mistaken (on this day of all days).

        1. 220525 says:

          Yes, but why is the equivalence that Gerry has clearly drawn – in respect of the limitations and inadequacies of today’s mainstream politics that their respective leaderships both reveal – ‘starkly mistaken’.

          Gerry’s criticism is (in this article at least) is not of Nicola or Boris, but of ‘the limitations and inadequacies of what today passes for mainstream politics’. Are you denying that our mainstream politics are limited and inadequate, and/or are you denying that Nicola’s leadership reveals those limitations and inadequacies?

    2. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      Agreed! This article is an example of the incestuous groupthink of the Scottish media commentariat. They are all drawing a spurious equivalence between Ms Sturgeon and Mr Johnson. It is classic Procrustean thinking where individual politicians are stripped of any qualities which do not fit with the ‘thesis’. We recently had Kevin McKenna writing that there was not really any significant difference between the two in terms of honesty. Utter preposterousness!

      The FM, like any politician has shortcomings, but let us discuss these without any invidious nasty and possibly, misogynistic, comparisons with the PM.

      1. JohnDarge says:

        Exactly. Not without a degree of misogyny I suspect.

      2. WT says:

        I’m sorry, but where is the misogyny in this article?

        1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

          When I introduced the term ‘misogyny’ it was following my statement relating to the fact that a number of male political commentators have been piling in to this ‘thesis’ of an equivalence between the FM and the PM and, there is a strong undercurrent of misogyny in their writing. This particular article has no ststement which I interpret as misogynistic.

      3. Tom Ultuous says:

        Got to agree with Alasdair here regarding the media. They attempted to portray the failure to tackle the cost of living crisis as being the fault of both Johnson & NS without even pointing out the Scottish govt had taken additional measures from their limited budget. It’s also the case that every Scottish govt failing is slaughtered in the media whereas they seem to play down, or even make an excuse for, Tory failings. And we aint seen nothing yet.

        1. 220525 says:

          But it has nothing to do with the relative effectiveness of the respective performances of the PM and the FM in tackling the cost of living crisis. It’s about the how poorly our mainstream politics are functioning in both Scotland and the UK., and the fact that we’re bickering over Nicola’s exceptionality over Boris as a leader, as if we we’re debating the relative merits of our tribal football teams or favourite celebrities, is evidence of that brokenness, as are both Nicola’s own uber-cautious incremental centrism and Boris’s gung-ho right-wing populism themselves.

          Simply making the Scottish government independent of the UK government won’t by itself fix our broken politics. In order to do that, we need to address the apparatus of government itself, which question has hitherto been no part of the independence debate and is still being fatally deferred in favour of ‘independence first’. Gerry’s simply urging that this issue should be deferred no longer. After the Scottish government achieves its independence, it will be too late; the opportunity to change our politics will have been missed.

          1. Tom Ultuous says:

            Yes, but regardless of who or what is in power in Scotland they’ll have to face the barrage of propaganda running them down. Maybe after we get independence and the media give up on trying convince us it was all a mistake we’ll have less of that to put up with.

  2. Hugh McShane says:

    Compellingly accurate narrative & summation- leaving the BIG questions-where are we going? What’s to be done& who is going to do it? Discounting the Tories/Libdems, I don’t see quality @ MSP level in Labour&SNP- only Blair-lite telegenic clones(Sweeney?Johnson?Gilruth? ) plus the imperative to get minority levelling -up in race,gender,sexuality, shared by all parties, which definitely does not help the competency/ coming talent quota. Brace myself for incoming, but I feel that’s true.

    1. JohnDarge says:

      Compellingly inaccurate, but funny!

      1. Hugh McShane says:

        In my defence, name an outstanding ministerial Government performer @Holyrood- male or female, and separately, other than being selected on a list, a worthwhile shadow, or party counterpart, especially from the minority levelling-up quota now in Parliament? As an aside, flowers don’t seem to bloom in Nicola’s shade…

  3. Wee Stonehouse says:

    Mhairi Black was right. Be afraid, be very afraid. But Nicola Sturgeon isn’t part of the “F” problem. It’s about time people woke up.

  4. SleepingDog says:

    Centrism is an artificial void, a Venn-diagram plot; elective representation produces minority rule for partisan interests; and a cult of leadership may fascinate those seeking to climb the hierarchies of power, but does not deliver sane politics. The problem is not who, but what. Theocratic, humanist, or enslaved to profit-seeking algorithms, the human ruling class produces these patterns of corruption as emergent behaviour from human-dominated political systems.

    One alternative, which I favour for a newly-Independent Scotland, is constitutionally-encoded biocracy, which goes some way beyond ‘centre-left politics’:
    https://blog.sleepingdog.org.uk/2022/05/constitutionally-encoded-biocracy.html

  5. Derek says:

    Centre-left?

    Nah, has to be lefter than that.

  6. Douglas Lindsay says:

    It is difficult to compare Westminster and Holyrood in terms of tackling poverty due to the huge mismatch in abilities and resources to do so. Also serious mistakes like the Ferries Fiasco do not compare with PPE scandals. In the case of the latter the Scottish Government approach was effective and proper. The author might have a point but does not cite evidence to back it up, just nice language.

    1. Gerry Hassan says:

      Thanks for your comments Douglas,
      Detailed analysis, facts, figures and evidence of the record of the Scottish Government and SNP in office is available and formed background to this piece. Time and space meant it not appropriate to directly cite. See: Gerry Hassan and Simon Barrow (eds), A Nation Changed? The SNP and Scotland Ten Years On, 2017; Hassan and Barrow (eds), Scotland the Brave? Twenty Years of Change and the Future of the Nation, 2019; and the just published: Hassan and Barrow (eds), A Better Nation, The Challenges of Scottish Independence, 2022.

  7. 220525 says:

    Gerry makes a good case for the proposition that politics in Scotland is broken, which is manifest in SNP’s uber-cautious incremental centrism, which perpetually postpones and ducks the issues we need to confront, to the detriment of our public affairs and their governance, which is the matter of politics.

    What Gerry lacks is any prescription as to how we can go about putting our politics back together again. The idea that this question can wait until after the Scottish government has gained its independence is itself symptom of our broken politics, the uber-cautious deferment of an issue that we need to confront as part of the process by which the Scottish government becomes independent, and which will shape our future democracy, rather than postpone until after the event as a kind of afterthought.

    As Gerry says, ‘We live in a world of disruption, dislocation and constant change.’ That’s our postmodern condition, the cultural context in which our politics must operate. ‘Politics in Scotland,’ Gerry goes on, ‘has proven unable to properly deal with this [condition].’ We need a kind of politics, of public decision-making, that can accommodate the fluid diversity, dissensus, and dissonance that marks our unstable world. But Gerry doesn’t offer any vision of what that new kind of politics could look like, nor any proposals as to how we might bring that new kind of politics about.

    And we need to address the parameters of our politics now, as part of the independence process, rather than defer those decisions until after that independence has be achieved, by which time those parameters will be settled as a fait accompli. Independence needs to be a process of reinventing our government and democracy, and not just about establishing our own wee Westminster and Whitehall in Edinburgh.

    So, let’s have the national conversation that Gerry urges we have, a conversation that will determine the government apparatus of a future Scotland. Let’s not leave it to the bureaucrats to shape in advance of the fact.

    My vision (which I’m often accused of not having) is of a more fluid and responsive government, in which public decision-making is dispersed throughout the diverse communities that comprise ‘the public’ and unified on the principle of subsidiarity.

    And my proposal (which I’m often equally accused of not making) is that this new kind of politics is to be brought about from the bottom up, through the patient work of community development and empowerment.

    Rather than by the uber-cautious incremental micromanagement of our public affairs from the centre, the Scottish government should be nation-building by more aggressively pursuing localism through community development and the concomitant decentralisation of decision-making and the power to action the decisions made.

    And rather than just flag-waving and virtue-signalling and vote-casting, we should be organising in our local communities (of place and/or of interest) to address our local issues and to action the decisions we take in relation to them. Our political commitment needs to be immediate and material, and not just abstract and moral. We must actually stand in solidarity with one another on the ground, and not just declare that we stand in solidarity with one another in principle.

    1. Gerry Hassan says:

      Many thanks for these insightful, thoughtful comments which really add something and I think are on the ball.

      My piece is a critique of what passes for mainstream political leadership and the very different styles of Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon. Doing so on a day when leadership was being talked abt – with the Sue Gray report and Sturgeon becoming the longest serving FM. That is why I did not offer more than a few brief thoughts on an alternative politics.

      I agree with the thrust of your comments abt where change is most likely to come from. The Scottish Parliament and Government are not institutions of empowerment and self-determination in any real sense. And the SNP’s version of independence increasingly looks like a slightly better, less degenerative version of a mini-Westminster which is hardly like to inspire many folk.

      The terrain you are talking about – and which is beyond this official Scotland and its narrative – is one I have been increasingly thinking abt, active in over the past few years, and will be turning to later in the year on Bella and elsewhere. Am also currently just finishing a book on Scotland’s future in which this dimension is a major strand and the tensions between a more self-organising, self-determining society and the one the SNP and political class govern. Thanks again for your constructive comments.

      1. 220525 says:

        You’re welcome, Gerry. I look forward to your thoughts.

        I’ve always pinned my hopes on unofficial or ‘non-governmental’ Scotland and its alternative narratives, which come to the fore during crises, when ‘normal’ government is disrupted – e.g. during the recent Covid crises – and citizens and communities themselves have to step up to the mark to supply the want. Maybe we should be looking at ways in which we could ‘normalise’ this kind of democracy outside of crises situations.

  8. Cathie Lloyd says:

    Some comments query the misogyny in Hassan’s article. Let me suggest how I see this to be the case. Leadership does not always consist of the grand gesture as he suggests. Sometimes caring, attention to detail, respect for people is what is required to address peoples concerns. He seems to dismiss these qualities as somehow secondary and humdrum, whereas I see them as appealing to many. I think these qualities – nurturing and caring are frequently (not always) associated with women. Surely we need to shine a light on these qualities – especially in the light of the inhuman treatment of working people evidenced in the attitudes of people working at the centre of UK government. A different future society is possible. Isn’t that what our struggle for self determination can be about?

    1. Gerry Hassan says:

      Let me respond to the ridiculous red herring that a couple of people have suggested that there is somehow any element of misogyny in my analysis. This is desperate, diversionary stuff. Where is it in any of my words or remotely inferred?

      The only ultra-tenuous way this case can be advanced is because I have dared to offer a nuanced critique of Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership. I have not completely tried to dismiss or trash her qualities or role in public life, but rather looked at her limits as a leader. Fifteen years into the SNP and seven into Sturgeon as FM the record of both has to be assessed. And the suggestion of misogyny is not only a kind of reverse misogyny but shows a deep desire to avoid talking abt the facts and record of the SNP and Sturgeon in office. It is that we need to spend time and energy on.

      1. Derek Thomson says:

        “Many thanks for these insightful, thoughtful comments which really add something and I think are on the ball.” – They agree with me.
        “This is desperate, diversionary stuff” – They don’t agree with me.

      2. Paddy Farrington says:

        I certainly do not think that Sturgeon’s leadership, or that of any political leader for that matter, should be immune to scrutiny. Nor do I think that that is what Cathie Loyd was suggesting. But I have noted how certain aspects of Sturgeon’s achievements, notably in beginning to transform the landscape of childcare, and in the introduction of benefits such as the child payment, or the mitigation of the bedroom tax, are seldom even mentioned by the mainly male middle-aged commentariat. Not to mention the baby box. I wonder why that might be? Ferries, on the other hand…

    2. Thanks Cathie – its an interesting point you raise about what qualities we value in leadership and how this is gendered, perhaps unconsciously.

      I think caring, attention to detail and respect are qualities of leadership – you are absolutely right – and in direct contrast to the values (or lack of them) on display in No 10. I think you are right too to suggest we need to bring a much deeper understanding of the level of change required for self-determination to have transformative meaning.

      However Nicola Sturgeon should not be immune from criticism and some of the criticisms are here I think entirely legitimate. It is not a ‘grand gesture’ to have a strategy and it is an entirely legitimate criticism to call out the lack of delegation and the tendency towards centrism and control.

    3. Cathie Lloyd says:

      I’m neither accusing Gerry Hassan of misogyny nor defending Nicola Sturgeon, rather appealing for a level headed approach to a complex situation. We live in a society which has been affected by the blustering machismo of Trump and Johnson. Quieter strategies to win support (remember that women were particularly hesitant about voting Yes in 2014) tend to be overlooked in this atmosphere. I was trying to identify characteristics which might constitute a different kind of leadership which might bring about a more consensual approach. As someone not keen on strident leaders or hero worship I value a different way. There are seeds of this in our campaign for a ‘wellbeing society’. Worth considering?!

      1. I appreciate your comment and largely agree with you. Different styles and modes of leadership, and re-thinking what we even mean by leadership is essential, thanks Cathie

      2. SleepingDog says:

        @Cathie Lloyd, I did not specifically mention this as part of a case for biocratic government, but the balance in life sciences demographics is currently closer to female–male parity than most other occupations. And pretty open, if you include citizen scientists too.

  9. Hugh McShane says:

    Agree with last 2 comments- ‘Mutti’ Scotia works better with over half the population,that’s undeniable, but it’s not a basis for the shape of things in an Indy Scotland- it’s not misogynistic to prefer her predecessors approach to the business of achieving Independence.

    1. 220525 says:

      Scotland will work best with ALL of the population. One of the problems with out contemporary ‘broken’ politics is that it disempowers minorities in favour of majorities and leave them largely excluded from the polity’s decision-making processes. What we need are political structures that facilitate pluralism and includes rather than marginalises dissent from the majority position.

      In the context of the UK, why should Scottish voters be marginalised because they didn’t vote for the present government? In the context of Scotland, why should the voters in the Southlands be dragged out of the UK and into an independent Scotland they didn’t vote for?

      We need a politics in which the hopes and aspirations of every citizen are recognised and respected rather than a politics of dominant winners and dominated losers. This can only be achieved through the development of political structures and processes in which minorities are included equally in the negotiation of public decisions.

      For example, why should Scotland have an SNP government when, in the last national elections, only 48% of voters in their constituencies voted for the SNP? Why can’t we have instead a national government that is 48% Nationalist, 22% Conservative, 22% Labour, 7% Liberal, and 1% Green, with the Scottish Cabinet being populated accordingly and electing a First Minister from among its number to convene and chair its meetings? Why should we merely reproduce the UK’s governance model of ‘winner takes all’?

  10. Gordon G Benton says:

    I will have to read the article again, but at first reading I fail to understand why any political commentator of repute would ever conceive of comparing the current performances of Johnson and Sturgeon. What the former has been, is and possibly will continue to be is well enough known, and he and those around him deserve all the world-wide derision he and his government get. He is of scarce interest to many of us in Scotland, other than we watch, apparently powerless and fearfully, as he leads all of us on these Islands inexorably into a Fascisti regimen.
    In any critique of Sturgeon, I would ask your correspondent to allow that our First Minister, uniquely in the World, has two jobs to do – direct and manage the government of a Nation (albeit with hands tied) whilst fighting for its Independence. No one else that I can think of has these two enormous responsibilities to manage at the same time. And for the last two years plus, we can add the handling of the pandemic and now its economic consequences. The overall performance of the Sturgeon government, I would put to you, should be judged on this criterion. to support this argument, we might add thatour First Minister is recognised internationally in a very favorable light.
    That the ‘Sustainable Growth Commission’s Report’ is lacking in ‘oomph’ (for the lack of a better word!), that there has been no evidence of progress on the promised Land Tax Value concept and we wonder what has happened to the promised National Energy Corporation, questions about the Scottish Pound and the Constitution, all give us real concern, and we want open discussion now, today on these and other matters.
    And as we approach mid-year, we want to see our Nation’s future (what will be and what can be) presented for study, in time for IndyRef2 next Autumn. It is only when the voter has a ‘dream’ to follow, will we go into the polls with more than the present, rather concerning, 50-50 split in the Yes-No camps.

    1. 220526 says:

      But in his comparison, Gerry explicitly contrasts rather than likens the respective performances of Nicola and Boris in their leadership roles. The claim that he’s making some sort of equivalence between the two is based on a (wilful?) misreading of his article.

      The point he’s actually making is that the oft-criticised shortcomings of Nicola’s uber-cautious incremental managerialism and the oft-cricised shortcomings of Boris’s gung-ho grandstanding populism are both revealing of the broken nature of our politics; neither is adequate to the task of dealing with the world of disruption, dislocation, and constant change in which we now live.

      (And the shortcomings of Nicola’s uber-cautious incremental managerialism has b*gg*r all to do with the fact that Nicola identifies as a woman and everything to do with the fact that it’s uber-cautious incremental managerialism, which smothers progressive change. The ‘misogyny’ smear is a straw man.)

  11. florian albert says:

    Gerry Hassan has referred to the expenditure of ‘£37 billion’ and to ‘grotesque, indefensible crony capitalism involving their close pals’ in the same sentence. Can he tell us how much of this £37 billion government expenditure went to Tory crony pals ?

    1. Tom Ultuous says:

      At the beginning of the pandemic the “UK” were offered the chance to join the EU PPE bulk-buy scheme. They refused so they could hand out PPE contracts to their chums in exchange for Bitcoin pushbacks. At a time when Spanish police were handing out masks to citizens on the street the Tories were pretending masks made no difference for the simple reason they didn’t have any. Many people died, including frontline workers, due to those PPE shortages. Those people were effectively murdered. The courts ruled the govt had acted illegally with those contracts following a case brought by crowdjustice. The Tories are currently refusing to hand over documents to the police relating to a £200 million contract awarded to Tory life peer Michelle Mone’s husband for duff PPE gear.

      They spent 40 billion (5 times the annual EU administration budget and £650+ per person in “UK”) on a useless track and trace system that the Scottish govt implemented through the Scottish NHS using free open source software.

      All of that money (including the taxpayer money that paid for the Bitcoin pushbacks) is included in the Tory govt’s NHS budget figures

      Do you believe they did the above for the good of the country?

  12. Clive Young says:

    Both Johnson and Sturgeon are essentially framed by the British media. Johnson dances to the right wing press’s tune and Sturgeon can only work within what the relentlessly unionist media will ‘allow’.

    1. Tom Ultuous says:

      Spot on.

  13. David+B says:

    “Government has become about saying you are doing things, pretending that you are doing them, rather than actually getting your hands dirty by doing the difficult tasks and business of government.”

    This is absolutely spot-on, and applies to the SNP-Green government as well as Westminster.

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