Where are the Praetorian Guard When You Need Them? 123

Here is Boris Johnson writing on devolution in 2001:

OCH aye, it’s the New Jerusalem! It’s a land of milk and honey they’re building up there in Scotland, laddie. They’ll nae be doing with your horrid Anglo-Saxon d e v i l-t a k e-t h e-h i n d m o s t approach. No, they’re just more socialist than us sour-mouthed Sassenachs.

They want to spend on the puir wee students, provided, of course, that they are poor wee Scottish students, not English ones. They want to shame the tightwads in the Treasury by spending on the puir wee Scottish teachers – in fact, they’ve given them a pay rise of 21.5 per cent over the next three years, far more than the English teachers are getting. And now, just to show how much generally nicer they are than the English, they have decided to spend, spend, spend on the puir wee old folks who need someone to help them open a can of beans.

In the teeth of opposition from the Treasury of what is still laughably called the United Kingdom, the Scots have decided to pay for free personal care for the elderly. Yes, that means all of us, folks. Even if we have assets of more than £16,000, we will be entitled not just to free nursing care – changing our dressings, putting our drips in – but to everything connoted by “personal care”.

If we are so lucky as to live in Scotland, it won’t matter that we could well afford to pay for someone to run our baths, or tie our shoes. There’ll be none of that business about reaching for our own wallets. Not in Scotland, Jimmy.

The BBC have been in overdrive spinning away that Boris is actually a great fan of devolution, and we should all apparently understand that naturally he says entirely different things to different audiences. In fact there is no shortage of evidence that Boris Johnson’s expressed view that devolution is a “disaster” is his genuine view. His premiership so far has all been about the extreme centralisation of power not just in Whitehall but in No. 10, of which more later.

The latest Tory ploy to claw back powers from Holyrood to Whitehall has been the Internal Market Bill. It is more notorious for openly and declaredly breaching international law, but the seizure of regulatory authority by (let us be blunt) England across a broad range of economic activity is just as significant. The Tory response has been, aided by a complicit media, simply to deny that what is happening, is happening.

But Boris’ declaration of war on devolution makes that approach more difficult. It also queers the pitch for the Gove strategy to head off Independence by false promises of more powers for Holyrood. This was done famously with “The Vow”, which promised Scotland the strongest federal parliament in the world. Referendum over, the opposite happened. All the signs are that the people of Scotland already are not stupid enough to fall for that trick again, but Boris has made it impossible for the unionists to even try.

If the Tories offer Maxi Maxi Devo-Maxi Maxi Max again, who will now believe them?

I am strongly of the view devolution has run its course. Undoubtedly it brought great benefits to Scotland. Free personal care for the elderly, no university tuition fees, free prescriptions. It also strengthened the sense of national identity and faith in Scottish competence in self-government.

But after a time, the cumulative effect of Tory austerity and spending cuts over years and years erodes services beyond the ability of even the most competent devolved administration to mitigate them. You then fall into the devolution trap, where you become the body that imposes the cuts, and takes the blame for falling standards, which are caused by the Treasury in London. The time comes when gradualism has achieved all that gradualism can, and it is time to break free from the devolution chrysalis and spread the wings of Independence. That time is now.

In his talk to the Northern Tory MP’s, Johnson called them his “Praetorian Guard”. That chimes with me, because I had been fretting about my inability to write anything useful about developments in Westminster politics. These defy ordinary political analysis, and bear more relation to the account of the courts of Roman emperors by Tacitus than anything that ought to happen in a modern western democracy. There were no great questions of public policy that led Lee Cain and Dominic Cummings to resign. There are vital decisions pending on a basic deal with the EU, but that was not the dispute – in fact nobody in No 10 seems to care about that one way or the other. What the great spat was about, was dinner party jostling for personal advantage among people with names like Allegra, Dominic, Carrie and Dido. Various individuals were “in tears” or “felt disrespected”. The good of the people who are being governed features nowhere at all in the insider accounts of what is happening at the top of the UK government.

It is understandable why Johnson thinks of himself as a Roman Emperor; he governs like Nero. The National Audit Office report yesterday listed £10.5 billion worth of contracts for NHS supply awarded without any proper tender. Many of these were to firms with no history of supplying medical equipment, chosen by the personal influence of MPs and Ministers. It is unsurprising there is so much personal jostling for influence, and the Civil Service has been effectively and deliberately barred from its customary role in decision making, when self-enrichment by corruption has become the primary aim of Westminster politicians.

Boris Johnson appears to have forgotten that the most common death met by Roman Emperors was murder by the Praetorian Guard. I could think of five such Imperial deaths – Wikipedia lists 13! Now where are the Praetorian Guard when you really need them?


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123 thoughts on “Where are the Praetorian Guard When You Need Them?

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  • N_

    Has anyone heard an SNP member say anything against a filthy rich Scot, except ones who support political parties that field candidates against the National Partei or who moved to live in England? Now might be the time to remember that to be left wing implies that a person favours a redistribution of wealth from the rich to the exploited.

    • N_

      Has anyone heard an SNP member say anything against a filthy rich Scot, except ones who support political parties that field candidates against the National Partei or who moved to live in England?

      I thought not.

  • arby

    “It is understandable why Johnson thinks of himself as a Roman Emperor; he governs like Nero”

    … and enjoys fiddling while the country burns!

  • Republicofscotland

    The Met police force to take no further action against Margaret Ferrier, however the COPFS has instructed Police Scotland to continue to pursue her vigorously. Ferrier is standing as an independent.

    Salmond and MacDonald’s witch hunts spring to mind.

  • Giyane

    When there has been a party political coup, leading to the sacking of senior party members, the coupers are desperate to prove that the coupees were incompetent.
    Hence the Blair / disaster bollocks.

    This is the politics of bedroom farce, where one door closes on the wife and another opens with her husband in his uunderpants.

    Unfortunately imho it’s wishful thinking that Noddy Starmer is going to appear in his pyjamas with PC Plod from another door dressed as the Praetorian Guard and Noddy Sunak get the PM’s job.

    I mean what I am about to say in absolute sincerity,. No irony. This is my keenest , meanest analysis of political life, namely that: whoever’s mind is of a political bent, they will bring politics and lying into every single aspect of their life, domestic, sport, work, eating out or driving.

    And whoever’s is honest, will bring their honesty into every single aspect of their life. I have seen so called imams sell their daughter’s virginity for a few acres of land as dowry and find a political way to break the marriage with the land in his pocket.

    Scotland is nothing more to these politicians than a bargaining chip in Brexit. Johnson desperately needs to avert the catastrophe of No Deal. Thus Scotland is pre-insulted so that he can sell Scotland’s fishing rights.

    The fact that this also pre-insults all of our human intelligence is collateral damage to saving the bacon on Boris Johnson’s backside. Simple as that.

    The fact that there is no need to go through these shenanigans to achieve success in life is irrelevant

    The political mind is only capable of working in the kak-handed double hairpin bends in which. politicians’ lesioned brains and selfish hearts know how to work. Pathetic.

    • arby

      “… saving the bacon on Boris Johnson’s backside”

      The simple honesty of the butcher’s dog!

    • Rhys Jaggar

      The economics of No Deal Brexit are irrelevant given the economics of the Great Shut Down.

      We are already 10 times worse than the projected side effects claimed for ‘No Deal’, due to the total shut down of half the economy, the SME ecosystem on its last legs and commercial office space landlords probably going to go bust.

      London is now open season for corruption, cronyism and barefaced criminality.

      When a tsunami makes landfall, worrying about the cost of air conditioning is what those who drowned did.

      Those who want to live get the hell up to higher ground without worrying about anything else….

      • N_

        No food coming in through the ports will be a big feature of the next stage of the bosses’ stompfest in Britain on the faces of most of the population.

        I see your point about SMEs, which currently employ about 60% of the work force.

        London can hardly last in its present form. Nor can most universities whether in London or outside of it.

        The army, though! It’s all systems go for the army!

  • johnny doric

    I find it depressing that so many Scot’s believe in some kind of socialist utopia at the end of a rainbow. That kind of magical thinking is the root of so many of our social ills. So many of our problems are cultural and of our own making. Margaret Thatcher has been dead for years and we still manage to run shipyards into the ground. A Scottish SNP government has burned hundreds of millions attempting to prop up failing companies and made a mess of so many public projects. If we can’t build 2 ferries how can we commision our own Navy? If we can’t effectively manage building hospitals in Edinburgh and Glasgow how can we take care of our vulnerable people? Our government is currently mired in the controversy surrounding the ongoing Alex Salmond saga. The SNP is failing in so many ways yet people seem to think Boris Johnson is the root of our ills. How about putting our own house in order before blaming others? I see zero prospect of the SNP in its current form being able to deliver or manage independence. I thought things were going to change for the better in Scotland, I was actually fool enough to believe Nicola Sturgeon was going to do something for us. The SNP is looking more and more like the labour party.

      • johnny doric

        Really? Ferguson Marine? Various pieces of bad legislation? Policing feelings? How exactly do you pass a law against hate? If it we can make hate go away by making it illegal why don’t we outlaw depression while we are at it? Virtue signalling over practical measures to improve peoples lives? Maybe you live in some leafy suburb where no bad things happen? I’d rather my local police were focused on neds before dealing with keyboard warriors. Have you never been to Glasgow city centre during any weekday? Seen the homeless, the drug addicts? The lost souls lying in the gutter? I’d really like my government to focus on the people who NEED help. All of these things are within the remit of the Scottish Parliament. The intriguing legal issues of Alex Salmond, Craig Murray? Hospitals will flawed drainage and ventilation systems? I don’t think Humsa Yousaf should be degraded on the internet by idiots but I wish as much focus was placed on our nations drug addiction, alcoholism or domestic violence. If I get burgled tomorrow will the Scottish authorities give it as much focus are they do to ar$eholes on twitter?

        • Cubby


          I never said nothing can’t be done but my point still stands – we are not the owners of Scotland -Westminster owns Scotland. Now if all Scotland revenues came to Scotland and then we decided to throw a lot of it away on very high “defence ” spending then we would need to take full ownership.

          I never said everything that happens at present is fine with me either

      • N_

        SNPers don’t care about anything other than Nation, Nation, Nation. For them, everything’s the fault of foreigners, foreign control, foreign interests.

        Criticising how the rich sh*t on the poor in Scotland is anathema for them. That gets in the way of their fascistic belief in national destiny.

        Anyone who believes that letting the Partei get its own sovereign country – and that is precisely what it’s about – will result in a move in a leftwing direction is IGNORANT and in some cases MENTAL.

        Fascism has often drawn many of its activists from those who were once on the left, but being leftwing is NOT compatible with fascism. Funnily enough the ex-leftists are usually among the first to get the chop, but I cry no tears for them whatsoever.

        The SNP was only built up in modern times as a direct move by the British state against the rising working class movement in places like the Glasgow shipyards in the early 1970s. (The same goes for the IRA. This is why the Bloody Sunday massacre was committed. Sadly it was successful.)

        Which gives me an excuse to paste a link to “Wasted Life” by the Belfast band the Stiff Little Fingers” – one of the bravest and greatest political songs in the history of these islands.

  • Crispa

    As with Thatcher, the Tory Party will take out their long knives when they think enough is enough of Johnson. It will be a matter of time and timing. Nor I suspect does it like kitchen cabinets, which challenges its virility. Meanwhile today’s Green announcement is redolent of Labour under Corbyn’s Green policies and I doubt if they will go down well with the climate change deniers in the Tory Party either.

    • johnny doric

      There is absolutely no way the 2030 target on combustion engine vehicles can be met. Climate change or not it is a greenwashed fantasy. From my rough calculations we’d need to increase electricitiy generation capacty 3 or 4 times using renewables and nuclear power to replace the energy we currently obtain from fossil fuels, I could only find statistics for total fossil fuel usage in the UK on an annual basis, not all of that is transport related. Even if we only need to double electricity generaton capacity to use electric cars that would still take decades, assuming we can get it done.

      • JohninMK

        Plus huge upgrades in the National Grid and local distribution networks.

        I do wonder how people living in flats, or in streets of terraced houses who are rarely able to park outside their house, are expected to run power cables safely and securely to their new electric cars.

        The same with how those people are expected to change their gas boilers with different heat generators. Potentially yet more electricity consumption. Some say use the battery in their cars but see point above, how?

      • blunt gaper

        Most electric cars charge up at night when there is excess electricity.
        John Ward on youtube will show you actual figures.

    • Giyane


      07.30 Radio 4 government soft selling of mini nuclear reactors in our cities. Is that the greening you refer to?
      Apparently they are kid friendly , being like LEGO built up from modular factory built units.

      Who got the contract for that disgusting PR Soundbite?
      Oh, and the manufacturers are Rolls Royce, whose ventilators also turned out not to be needed. Maybe because they were too good.

  • Eric McCoo

    Blair expected to see a permanent Labour majority with the likes of Donald Dewar in charge. No one expected the Rupert Murdoch to take charge of the SNP and promote them into government through The Sun.

    They have turned Scotland into a third world country full of corruption and incompetence. Apart from a couple of cheap policies they have done nothing for those at the bottom showing a clear preference for the lower middle classes against the working classes. That’s what happens when you give low life MSPs huge salaries.

    If you can stomach the goings on where the government refuses to hand over documents about the Salmond affair and the Lord advocate responds to perfectly reasonable questions with dumb insolence you deserve the SNP.


    • johnny doric

      Scotland was a paradise when Joke McConnell was in charge? We elected labour MPs for 50 odd years and they did F#$k all for us. Things were better when we had Douglas-Hamiltons in the Scottish office?

      The SNP were doing not too bad until Nicola Sturgeon took the helm, the little people like me will never know if her failings are down to incomptence or something else…….

      • Giyane

        Johnny doric

        Latin and Greek teach us only one thing, how to use word endings when our own language hasn’t got them.
        Boris Johnson is the little people, not us. He is not PM because of his understanding of politics , he is there to lie in public whatever lies are fed to him to read.

        It is a BBC fiction that northern constituencies were taken by the Tories because of Boris’s Brexit. Votes were printed by algorithms. It is even more fiction that those imaginary ( in reality fake ) supporters of Brexit are supporting Johnson now, because they don’t exist except in the lies of BBC presenters.

        The concept of a Praetorian Guard of red line MPs is total fiction. In Scotland the concept of Alex Salmond being a rapist is fiction and the concept of hate speech is fiction. All anybody wants anywhere in this country is to get a deal with the EU and a vaccine.

        The little people are the people who divert our attention from reality by pure concocted fiction put out by the MSM. Not the normal.people. .So please do not refer to yourself as little people when we are in fact the large people and the wise.

        • johnny doric


          I don’t know any Latin or Greek, I went to a comprehensive. Eton is a million miles away from the World I know. Votes were printed by algorithm? Sorry, not sure I understand what you are driving at?

          • Giyane

            johnny doric

            Boris is flashing his electoral victory at Barnier in the Brexit talks, but the election was rigged. The Sacred Cow of democracy appears to moo with approval at a Tory Hard Brexit. Smoke and mirrors., wrapped up in Classical references like Praetorian Guard. Without the vote stuffing by algorithms the Tories would have lost.

      • Eric McCoo

        Thanks for the response

        What you’re saying is of course largely true because more or less all politicians are wide boys.

        My interest in the SNP started when I saw the out and out horror that is Nicola Sturgeon. I think she’s a compromised individual beloved of the Brexit hating, globalist British establishment.

        I suspect she acted on behalf of the British state to stitch up Salmond but got somewhat stuck in the middle because of her long term relationship with him. I suspect that’s what is being desperately covered up just now.

    • Stonky

      “No one expected the Rupert Murdoch to take charge of the SNP and promote them into government through The Sun…”

      Don’t be stupid Eric.The Sun once came out for the SNP for a week prior to the 2007 election, and I doubt it swung a single vote. And it wasn’t anybody from the SNP who was godfather to Murdoch’s son and shagging his wife.

  • Goose

    Johnson’s whole appeal is built largely on a press cultivated media persona – first established on shows like HIGNFY. His personal behaviour alone would’ve ruled him out serious political contention were it anyone else. At the last election and since he hasn’t been subjected to any serious scrutiny. It was the same for the Theresa May and her husband’s activities. Corbyn had his life scrutinised under a microscope by comparison. How on earth can such lopsided media coverage be healthy?

    As London mayor, he dismissed his £250,000 second salary for his weekly Telegraph column as ‘chicken feed’. He even talked of quitting politics at one point, to make what he called “serious money”in the city? Not long ago there were reports he was complaining hwe wasn’t earning enough as PM, having to ‘scrape by’ on his £150,402 p.a. PM’s salary. An alleged seven kids, with different women, can be expensive, I guess.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      He has protection because he joined the right tribes. That is how these things work. There is zero interest in performance, only in obedience. The people who control these things get what they want and never care about anything else. Right now, the people in control could not care about destroying 100 million small businesses world wide. Could not care. They could not care if 3 billion people died. Could not care.

      When you force people to think that having extramarital sex is more important than killing 1 million innocent Iraqis, you have public opinion where you want it.

      The UK media is the same about Americans vs Russians. The Americans are totally corrupt, utterly racist and have institutionalised kickbacks hardwired into their system. Their military is a genocidal machine, driven by lawyers and bankers on Wall Street. No-one ever, ever looks at US ‘lawyers’ and asks how they have not been stripped of all rights to practice law courtesy of their barbaric attitudes, all smoothed over with Ivy League platitudes, of course….

      Boris surviving is no surprise. The media prostitutes have their orders and it is to destroy anyone who threatens to defenestrate Boris.

      They’ve had those orders for at least 15 years….

      • Tom74

        Strange as it may sound, Boris Johnson’s apparent scandals and indiscretions are quite likely part of the strategy. They serve two purposes: a) The ‘tee-hee-isn’t-Boris-awful-but-what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it-plebs?’ media narrative makes the ruling class feel they’re in control (see also the coronavirus lockdowns) and b) Gives Boris Johnson’s masters control over him – with the the threat that if he doesn’t follow orders, other, worse scandals (of which there are surely many) will surely come out
        Despite the PR to the contrary that Boris Johnson is in control, his TV appearances give to me less the impression of a leader of a nation making the decisions than the hostage of a terrorist group – forced to make occasional pasty-faced TV appeals under duress, after suffering hours of torture behind the scenes.

      • Johny Conspiranoid

        ” Right now, the people in control could not care about destroying 100 million small businesses world wide.”

        Or perhaps they do care in as much as they want this to happen. If the economy of the world has to colapse due to the decisions of Wall Street and the bankers then Covid -19 is there to take the blame.

  • Jay

    Glenn Greenwald

    Jeremy Corbyn is a better human being by a multiple of about 1,000 than all of the Oxbridge cretins in politics and media who have united to cynically smear him with accusations they know in their rotted souls are false.

    5:02 pm 18 Nov 2020


    Can we have Greenwald extradited and jailed for violating EHRC guidelines, in the most antisemitic manner imaginable?

    • Goose

      That’s what I find so disturbing.

      Even if you care little for Corbyn and his politics, the fact that intelligent people (in the press and PLP) knew and still know these AS smears are a pack of lies, created and deployed solely to destroy Corbyn’s leadership and smear hundreds of thousands of (mainly young) LP members, members whose only crime was to join a political party and show enthusiasm.

      What sickness is at large in the UK that so many can act in such an evil manner and lie so happily? We collectively deserve Johnson and co when good people are treated so horrifically.
      Gordon Brown popping up everywhere now.

      The London media finally getting nervous about Scotland & independence?

    • Eric McCoo

      Greenwald took £250m from CIA/NSA connected Pierre Omidyar. Greenwald is the scum of the earth. Greenwald is a Republican who trusted that GW Bush was doing the right thing by invading Iraq.

      “Pierre Omidyar plunges first $50m into media venture with Glenn Greenwald

      • First part of $250m investment to fund offices in three cities
      • Journalism site to have both nonprofit and for-profit entities


  • Republicofscotland

    So Johnson is to splash the cash from the magic money tree and spend £16.5 billion on the military, the British nationalist media area already salivating like Pavlov’s Dog, broadcasting that Scotland will build thirteen new British warships.

    Its the same old story every time the natives up North become restless to decide their own futures a PM at Westminster reveals a spending spree to thwart our desires, well not this time the carrot can dangle and dangle we’re not for taking it.

    • Goose

      Nicola Sturgeon, ….was incredulous when she found out that Salmond had agreed to host a regular show on RT.

      Nearly all current politicians are scared senseless by the ‘optics’ of everything – perceptions. One of the reasons Trump initially seemed so refreshing/attractive was because he was the first person to come along, in a long time, who didn’t seem packaged or give a flying fuck about the optics. Authenticity can overcome ‘optics’.

  • Ian

    Two huge and hyped spending commitments yesterday. On the same day the National Audit Office issued an excoriating report into the £18bn spent on Covid related measures, £10bn without any tenders or competition. The result is multiple cases of fly-by-night companies receiving millions without oversight and often dubious results. Nearly all of them ‘recommended’ by Tories and their donors.
    What an amazing coincidence, all of these news stories on the same day. The very day we find out that the government is incompetent, wasteful and fraudulent with taxpayers’ money, they promise to spend more under the same system. You can’t believe a word they say, or the figures they produce, they have have a track record of announcing new funding which turns out to be on paper mostly. Smoke and mirrors once again. But some people and companies will get very rich on the back of it. Whether there will be discernible results for the country’s benefit is entirely another thing.

    • Ken Kenn

      Do it and put Dido Harding and Chris Grayling in charge of the whole thing.

      The Chinese will soon be rolling on the floor laughing as the missiles fall back to where they were fired from and Johnson’s credibility when despite Dido’s promises bullets can’t really go round corners.

      Plus Grayling crashing the fleet into each other because he didn’t know that a port had to be so deep to park the ships up at night.

      Best piss takes I’ve seen on the Military are The Two Johns.


      ‘ The Hawker Harrier is a great bit of kit – but it’s not much use for chasing a Terrorist down the Bakerloo Line
      General Sir George Parr.

  • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

    “Cuir ceann air Breat-a-mach” ga leantainn le “Dùin Taigh an Ròid”. Boris MacIain chan ann mar Nero cho mòr ri sgeig-aithris Chaibhilìreach air Crombail. Gun sa bhaoth-phiorbhaigeas ach cleas. Talla Geal Lunnainn an sàs mar-thà ann glac-smachd bog air Alba le cruinneas “airm-shamhlaich”. Plìonas air na h-urracha mòra.

    “Get Brexit done” followed by “Take Holyrood down”. Boris Johnson not so much Nero as Cavilier parody of Cromwell. Bewigged buffoonery mere distraction. Whitehall already implementing a soft coup in Scotland with “model army” precision. Smirk of the grandees.

  • kerdasi amaq

    The first priority for an independent Scotland is ensuring that idiot politicians who believe that taxation and borrowing are the only methods of funding government activity are not elected into political office.

    With the correct understanding and application of monetary theory; it should be possible to devise a Scottish pound which is stronger than the pound sterling.

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