The Strange Convulsion in Scottish Politics 321

On 24 March, two of the SNP MP’s most closely aligned to Nicola Sturgeon, Stewart MacDonald and Alyn Smith, asked for a meeting with the British internal security service MI5 to discuss cooperation against Russia. MI5 is the agency charged with countering perceived internal threats to the UK state; Scottish nationalists, environmentalists and anti-nuclear campaigners are among MI5’s major targets. Until a few years ago, the vast majority of Scottish Independence supporters would have regarded MI5 as a particularly egregious manifestation of their traditional enemy, the British state. Yet here was the SNP officially – MacDonald and Smith are the party’s Westminster defence and foreign affairs spokesmen – calling for cooperation with MI5.

To add to this extraordinary volte-face, there is no doubt that what lay behind MacDonald and Smith’s move was a desire to activate MI5 more openly against Scottish Independence supporters. Not only are they referencing Alex Salmond’s programme on RT and Tommy Sheridan’s spot for Sputnik, both Smith and MacDonald have been heavily involved in the long-term campaign to vilify online Independence activists and bloggers as Russian agents.

This is from the author of the above article, David Leask’s briefing to the secret UK government funded propaganda programme, the Integrity Initiative (emphasis in original):

For me and a great many other Scottish nationalists, our opponent is the British state. Why Russia should be viewed as the enemy of an Independent Scotland, just because it is in foreign policy opposition to the state whose imperial rule we are trying to leave, is not plain to us. Indeed, a different and more pacific foreign policy is a key benefit many of us see from leaving the UK. MacDonald and Smith – and there is no doubt they are licensed by Sturgeon, who put them in these positions – have no wish to challenge the UK’s role as a reliable, neo-con foreign policy satrap of the USA. They even put out a defence paper espousing multilateralism rather than the traditional SNP policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament, to remarkably little adverse reaction.

On the annual UN International Day of Solidarity With Palestine I noted on Twitter that, while many Labour and even Liberal MPs had tweeted to support, no SNP MP or MSP had. I was contacted by a well-known SNP MSP who informed me that they had been instructed not to speak out on Palestine – something which the SNP has in fact noticeably stopped doing. Stewart MacDonald’s own full time research assistant had the most rabidly pro-Israel Twitter history I have ever seen, with numerous tweets or retweets specifically praising the Israeli Defence Force but virtually none mentioning Scottish Independence. I have been struck recently by how many of the fierce online Twitter proponents of Nicola Sturgeon include Israeli symbols in their Twitter profile. Again this is a real break with the traditional pro-Palestinian stance of Scottish nationalists.

Sociological analysis of what has happened appears fairly simple. The SNP has been in power in Scotland for 14 years, and while the devolved administration is far from a genuine state, an annual Holyrood budget of £30 billion represents a very great deal of power and patronage. For those interested in exercising or benefiting from such power and patronage, the SNP has become the way to go. It has become the political Establishment in Scotland, and those with Establishment attitudes have flocked to it. All the political careerists who would previously have belonged to once-dominant Labour, have for over a decade flocked into the SNP. So have others with domestic agendas they wish to promote – often genuinely worthy, in devolved fields such as health and education – but who have at best a passing interest in Independence. The SNP has therefore entirely lost its radical edge.

For these new members, MI5 is a perfectly respectable part of the political Establishment. These people in no way see themselves as rebels, whereas the “old SNP”, even its grandees like my old friend Gordon Wilson, first and foremost viewed themselves as rebels.

Gordon Wilson was involved in the pirate “Radio Free Scotland” and the temporary liberation from Westminster Abbey of the stone of Scone. Can you imagine the condemnation from Sturgeon, Smith and MacDonald of such illegal actions today? They would be demanding meetings with MI5 on how to stop it.

Let me now turn to Nicola Sturgeon herself. As an entry point, I take Saturday’s interview where she stated she intended to serve a full five years as First Minister, and had not made up her mind about the 2026 election.

The extraordinary thing is that Nicola Sturgeon looks explicitly five years into her political future with no reference at all to the possibility that Scotland will be an independent state before then. The thought simply does not cross her mind.

Now there is no question you could ask me about what will happen in Scotland in five years, or what I personally will be doing in five years, to which I would not automatically start my answer with the observation that within five years I expect Scotland to be Independent, and the context will therefore be very different. And I am not First Minister. Nicola Sturgeon’s answer presumes she will continue to do her current job, and there will be an election under the current system, in five years.

She does not take into account the real possibility that following Independence it must be very likely there will be early elections to a new parliament. She does not take into account the real possibility that following Independence the SNP – which contains people of widely differing economic ideologies – might split. She does not take into account the real possibility that following Independence there will be a much broader realignment of political parties, as all but hardcore unionists accommodate to the new reality. She does not take into account the real possibility that an Independent Scotland may have a very different parliament, perhaps with two chambers and a different electoral system. She does not take into account that there might not be a First Minister in five years time – there may, for example, be an executive presidency.

No, when Nicola looks ahead she instinctively sees five more years of comfortable residency of Bute House as a benevolent and humane colonial administrator, who supports Independence in principle, but only if Westminster agrees, which she knows will not happen, and once Covid and its economic consequences, and all the other tough things that must be dealt with before she is ready, are out of the way.

And who knows when that will be? Not in the next five years certainly, in the mind of Nicola. Independence did not even occur to her as a factor that might affect her answer.

I have been sounding a warning that Nicola has no intention of achieving Scottish Independence, consistently since 2015. We have had SNP conferences with the word “Independence” not featuring even once in the entire agenda. We have had US Democratic Party Style slogans such as “Hope” and “Change” but never “Independence”. We had the 2016 Holyrood Election where Nicola declared she wanted unionists to feel “safe” voting for the SNP. We had the disastrous 2017 Westminster General Election campaign which Nicola fought entirely on the basis of “Don’t accuse me of pushing for Independence. It is not me that keeps banging on about Independence, it’s the Tories”.

With the large majority of Scots having voted in favour of remaining in the EU, and with the 2016 Holyrood manifesto having promised a new referendum in the event of “a material change in circumstances”, and with a solid SNP/Green majority in Holyrood, Brexit was obviously the ideal occasion for a Scottish Independence referendum. Instead we had Nicola devote two years to the campaign to keep the whole of the UK in the European Union.

I never agreed that the SNP should be striving to keep the entire UK in the EU, firstly because the effect of that would have been to help keep the UK together, which is the opposite of what the SNP is supposed to be trying to achieve; secondly because we Scots have no right to thwart the democratic will of the people of England and Wales who clearly voted leave.

To anybody who believes in Independence the answer was for Scotland to respect its democratic vote against Brexit by moving to Independence and staying in the EU, allowing Westminster to Wexit. Instead of seizing this opportunity, Sturgeon wasted two years campaigning, including in London, in what she evidently found the very congenial company of Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson, on a whole UK basis.

In this period she never found time to attend any of the mass marches for Scottish Independence. Her explanation was that she has to represent the entire population – which apparently did not apply to pro-EU demonstrations.

In January 2020, as the transition period came to an end and the UK firmly left the EU, the crunch time had come in which it was now or never for implementing the SNP 2016 Holyrood manifesto commitment to a new Independence referendum if there were a “material change of circumstances” – which everybody had understood meant Brexit. The SNP had repeatedly stated that Scotland would not be dragged out of the EU against its will. Would they act, or was that just hot air?

On 31 January 2020, the very day transition ended, Sturgeon made a showcase speech – in which she announced that she accepted that, as Johnson had refused a S30 request, there was no legal path to Scottish Independence.

For me to pretend that there are shortcuts or clever wheezes that can magically overcome the obstacles we face might make my life easier in the short term – but it would do a long term disservice to the independence cause that I, like so many, have dedicated my life to.

My job is to lead us down a credible path that can deliver independence.

And that is what I am absolutely determined to do.

To achieve independence, a referendum, whenever it happens – whether it is this year as I want, or after the next Scottish election – must be legal and legitimate. That is a simple fact.

It must demonstrate that there is majority support for independence.

And its legality must be beyond doubt. Otherwise the outcome, even if successful, would not be recognised by other countries.

And the best way to achieve that, even though it may not be ideal, is to reach agreement on a transfer of power to the Scottish Parliament, just as we did for 2014.

It has been suggested, though, that in the absence of such an agreement, it might be legal for the Scottish Parliament to hold a consultative referendum – to establish the opinion of the Scottish people even though agreement would still be required to implement a pro independence outcome.

So let me address that.

The issue of whether the specific constitutional reservation in the Scotland Act puts any form of independence referendum outside the powers of the Scottish Parliament – or instead leaves open scope for a non-binding consultative vote – has never been tested in court.

That means it cannot be said definitively that it would not be legal, but equally it cannot be described as being beyond legal doubt.

If a proposal for a referendum on that basis was brought forward it would be challenged in court.

If a court ruled that it was legal, it wouldn’t be a “wildcat referendum” as our opponents like to brand it – it would be within the power of the Scottish Parliament.

Should the UK Government continue to deny Scotland’s right to choose, we may reach the point where this issue does have to be tested.

I am not ruling that out.

But I also have to be frank. The outcome would be uncertain. There would be no guarantees.

It could move us forward – but equally it could set us back.

So my judgment at this stage is that we should use our energies differently.

To placate the pro-Independence wing of the SNP, she adopted a suggestion which is genuinely my own. I had formulated it four years earlier in June 2016, written about it frequently since, and pushed the idea in pro-Independence meetings the length and breadth of Scotland, including to SNP branches. In her speech, Sturgeon said:

In the first instance we will invite Scotland’s elected representatives – MSPs, MPs, the MEPs elected last year and council leaders – to come together to endorse a modern Claim of Right for Scotland through a new Constitutional Convention.

To declare that it is for the Scottish Parliament to decide whether and when there should be an independence choice and build support for that principle amongst civic Scotland.

In June 2016 I had written:

To resolve this requires a supplementing of current constitutional arrangements. The First Minister should therefore convene a National Convention consisting of all Scotland’s elected national representatives – its MEPs, MPs and MSPs united in a single democratic body merged on a one member one vote basis.

This body should draw up recommendations for the independence referendum, including on the future constitution, economy including currency, and international alliances of an independent Scotland, and should oversee negotiations with the EU. The next referendum could therefore present voters with a more definite prospectus for what the new Scotland will look like.

The world has changed radically. We must not be afraid to think outside the UK prescribed box in defining Scottish solutions.

I can find no evidence anywhere of anybody writing or promoting this idea other than me. I was surprised at the time that Sturgeon had picked up one of my ideas, but I should not have been. She did not mean it, it was only a sop to Independence supporters, the National Convention never happened and has been quietly dropped. Something else quietly dropped at the time was the 2020 SNP Spring Conference, which was cancelled in order to avoid member blowback from the abandonment of the 2016 Indyref2 mandate. In the confusion of the last year, people forget that the SNP Spring Conference was cancelled before most people had heard the word Covid, and Covid was emphatically not the cause.

More significantly, Sturgeon’s government intervened against the legal attempt by Martin Keatings and Forward as One to establish that the Scottish parliament had a right to hold an Independence referendum. Sturgeon thus helped to prevent what she still pretends to be her ultimate objective.

The truth is that Sturgeon loves being the darling of the Guardian. Her policies are simply those of Hillary Clinton – a rigorous system of identity politics, largely based around gender, with a few populist but not targeted spending measures – free tuition, personal care etc – but no effort to develop a critique of the factors that drive the massive wealth inequalities in society. Indeed, her economics are rigorously neo-liberal as embodied in her infamous “Growth Commission”, and she has notoriously chosen Benny Higgins, investment banker Chairman of Buccleuch Estates, as an economic adviser (and appointed that other right wing investment banker, Ian Blackford, as party leader in Westminster).

Like Hillary, Nicola’s neo-liberal economics are bound up with extreme hawkish cheerleading for neo-imperialist foreign policy – hence her instant support for Boris Johnson over the ludicrous Skripal narrative, over the ludicrous Douma narrative, over Ukraine, and her sanctioning of Russians under the Beds activities with MI5. Ian Blackford even called directly in parliament for the UK to enact regime change in Syria.

The relentless pursuit of gender identity politics has led to the peculiar fracture in the Independence movement over trans rights, where both sides of the debate invent utterly unreasonable positions and attribute them to the other side. Sturgeon has done everything possible to hammer this wedge issue into a fracture among Independence supporters, largely with the intent of damaging Joanna Cherry and others she views as rivals (and as someone who unflinchingly supports trans rights myself, I should say that Joanna’s views are much misrepresented and far more nuanced than generally understood).

The attempt to have Alex Salmond convicted on false allegations by team Nicola was the ultimate shot at discrediting the part of the SNP that was focused primarily on Independence, and ensuring the triumph of a new SNP focused primarily on identity politics, supportive of the neo-imperialism of the British state, and not interested in risking power for Independence.

The fascinating thing in all this is that the mainstream media, overwhelmingly unionist (particularly the BBC), realises that Nicola Sturgeon is not an authentic danger to the union, and therefore swung its weight very solidly behind Sturgeon, particularly in its reporting of the conduct of the Holyrood and Hamilton Inquiries and their outcomes. The unionists understand full well it is Salmond who threatens the union, whereas Sturgeon is very comfortable atop the devolution structure.

Yet there are still very many ordinary SNP members who are firmly committed to Scottish Independence, who believe that Sturgeon also is committed to Scottish Independence, and despite the history of the last seven years expect that she will deliver a referendum sometime. They have been played along ruthlessly, with the SNP in Holyrood introducing a number of utterly meaningless enabling bills and draft bills for a referendum to keep the troops happy.

After winning numerous Westminster and Holyrood elections while Sturgeon does nothing on Independence, the SNP asks people to believe that this time, this time they are serious, and really will have an Indyref2. But a great many terms and conditions apply and Sturgeon has still not stated she will support the defiance of a purported Westminster veto. It remains the fact that at this Holyrood election, the only chance most voters have of demonstrating support for Independence in the constituency vote, is to vote SNP. But should Nicola get her wish of five peaceful and personally prosperous years in Bute House as First Minister, that will never be the case again.

This is why we have the paradox that it is the most devoted, longest serving members of the SNP who have left the party to join Alba. Take Kenny MacAskill, an SNP member for more than forty years. Kenny was a member of the party in the days when it was a definite career disadvantage to be so, who pounded the streets in wind and rain for decades clapping doors, facing jibes and jeers with no realistic hope of being elected. I have now seen him roundly abused on Twitter and described as a “unionist plant” by people who have only joined the SNP since it has been the easy route to personal power in Scotland, and who are primarily motivated by identity politics.

One strange result of this is that it is the backbone of the SNP, the committed members who go round delivering the leaflets, who are more likely to vote Alba on the list vote than the ordinary SNP voter. One friend who was recently distributing election leaflets to SNP members who had volunteered for delivery, told me he had asked what people thought about the list, and 12 out of 13 SNP leafleteers were not going to vote SNP with their list vote, on the ground it is wasted (he did not ask them precisely who would get their list vote between Alba and the Greens).

It is the more committed SNP members who realise that the bizarre mathematics of the D’Hondt electoral system render a SNP list vote utterly futile in three quarters of the country and very severely devalued in the rest.

Equally it is the most active of SNP members who realise the party is continually backsliding over Independence. They studied the text of Nicola’s speeches and note the constant caveat about a “legal” referendum. It was the most active of SNP members who followed closely the actual evidence of the Salmond affair, as opposed to the biased reporting, and realised what was really happening. This turbulence among the most committed members in the depth of the SNP is simply swept over by the vast current of mainstream media adulation of Nicola. We therefore have a remarkable situation of an enormously popular leader at odds with nobody but the most engaged members of her own party – unless you count as engaged the more recent accretion of her Praetorian Guard of identity politics warriors.

It was interesting to watch SNP followers on Twitter change over the course of three months from absolute denial that Team Sturgeon were involved in acting against Salmond, to a position that Team Sturgeon were quite right to act against Salmond because he is an appalling man. A similar transition is in progress, from denial that Team Sturgeon have failed to act on a referendum, to a position that Team Sturgeon were right not to have a referendum because we would have lost it.

We started the last referendum campaign at 28% to 32% and got to 45% on polling day. That is what a campaign can do. There has been zero Independence campaigning from the SNP since. The notion that a campaign that would have started at 48 to 58 per cent, depending on timing, would have failed is simply daft.

I have been delighted to hear Alex Salmond speak on behalf of Alba of alternatives to the S30 approach and even of the fact that there are routes to Independence that do not involve referenda. This is where the debate must lie. The majority of countries in the entire world became independent in the course of my own lifetime. In only a very small minority of cases did the process involve a referendum. The International Court of Justice has ruled that the legislation of the state being seceded from, is not the determining factor of whether a state can successfully become independent in international law. If you think about it carefully, that must be true, or Estonia would still be Soviet and Slovenia would be Yugoslav.

The real split in the Independence movement is between those who truly believe the Scots are a people with the right of self-determination as enshrined in the UN Charter, and those who believe we need London permission to be “legal” and therefore, by definition, do not have the right of self-determination.

To put it more bluntly, Whitehall will never willingly accept the loss of Scotland’s magnificent resources – including maritime, energy, water, food and drink, hydrocarbon and other mineral, education, and above all human resources. Unlike Nicola Sturgeon, many of us do not believe that Johnson can simply stop Scottish Independence by declaring it illegal. We are prepared to take the steps that will be required, in terms of non-violent political action and possibly including civil disobedience on a national scale, for Scotland to be able to become independent.

That is the cause of the different paths now being taken in the Independence movement. That is the difference between the SNP and Alba. Do you really want Independence, or is it just a genteel discussion point?


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321 thoughts on “The Strange Convulsion in Scottish Politics

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  • N_

    Here is some sanity

    1. There should be an indyref rerun if a majority of voters vote for candidates who propose one.
    2. If a majority of voters vote for candidates who do not propose one, and there is no majority among MSPs for one either, there should not be an indyref rerun
    3. If there is a majority of MSPs in favour of an indyref rerun, but no support from a majority of voters for candidates who proposed one,
      then there should be an indyref rerun, provided that a) one is requested by the Scottish Parliament, and b) the law is changed so that a NO vote will lead to new Holyrood elections a month later.

    In short, let’s see nationalist MSPs put their MONEY and CAREERS where their nationalist gobs are.

  • mark golding

    Agent Stewart MacDonald has again urged Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Gove to arrange a briefing with the security services for members of Parliament and political parties( SNP) on appropriate terms, so that we can all better understand the threat [of U.K. industrial disintegration] and ensure the integrity of our political discourse and democracy.

    MacDonald wrote in a letter,

    “Whereas these information units (THE THREAT) [on social media] are comparatively small in quantity, all of them present a worrisome pattern in hostile overseas exercise associated to political affairs in Scotland and the UK through the political divide. That is one thing that ought to concern all of us.

    The meme in all this is clear, Scottish independence is a risk to democracy in Britain and would empower foreign disintegration. The meme is sustained by Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross while Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie has said, “We are still in a pandemic. Thousands have lost their lives, thousands more have lost their job. Reasonable people will think that this is the wrong moment to be pushing a referendum.”

    The agenda is exposed, laid bare yet nevertheless ‘standing by’ for MSM to publish and promote when the timing is agreed.

  • Mighty Druken

    I can’t help but think the entire point of the security services is to protect the country. Those wishing to break apart a state must be the top of the list for the people the security services would want to stop.

    • Xavi

      You would think so.

      “Yet here was the SNP officially – MacDonald and Smith are the party’s Westminster defence and foreign affairs spokesmen – calling for cooperation with MI5”

      Clearly something doesn’t add up.

      Scotland’s bold rebels seem to take iinspiration more from Sir Keir Starmer than Michael Collins.

    • Stevie Boy

      Given that, IMO, the Tories and their sycophantic followers appear to have done more damage to the UK (incl. Scotland) in the last 12 years than the Nazi’s did during WWII, then you would think that if ‘security of the realm’ was the concern then the Security Services, Police, Military would have imprisoned them all by now. That hasn’t happened. Therefore the conclusion must be that there is another agenda.

    • S

      This is an interesting point. I think the issue is whether “protect the country” includes something ambiguous like “protect the way of life that people are used to”.

    • Bayard

      The entire point of the security services is to protect the ruling elite, the Establishment. This has been the case since the first armed band assembled by a tribal leader thousands of years ago.

  • Frank Owen

    A few points:

    1. The history of human existence since the Neolithic Revolution replaced (primitive) Communism has been one of living in class-based, exploitative societies. These have thus far spanned the slave, feudal and capitalist modes of production, the (advanced) communist mode of production representing a final return to a non-exploitative way of organising social relations.
    2. The shift “exploitative → non-exploitative” explains the hostility to Communism from those with something to lose, i.e. those who “own” as private property the natural resources of the Earth and live off the labour-power of others in producing commodities from them: capitalists.
    3. At each stage of economic development, the ideology that has ‘greased the wheels’ of exploitation by obscuring the actual workings of the system (by a complicated mechanism of miscognition-recognition, not the calculated deception of the ignorant masses by a cynical, disbelieving ‘elite’ – ideology is not conscious programming) has alternated between the religious and the politico-juridical (currently).
    4. An essential component of politico-juridical ideology is the concept of the nation-State, which in a few hundred years has caused more non-natural human deaths than any other ideology. Along with religious ideology, a comparative laggard in the genocidal stakes, it would therefore seem (from a ‘rationalist’ point of view) to be “one to avoid” when ‘choosing one’s politics’. That this is self-evidently not the case is just one more proof of the power of ideology to deceive and (incidentally) the risible nature of (philosophical) rationalism.
    5. Despite these misgivings, does the “species being” ‘progressive nationalism’ exist? Yes. Both the post-WW2 anti-colonial struggles and Brexit were examples of ‘progressive nationalism’. Does Scottish Nationalism represent a similarly ‘progressive nationalism’? Not in any way that I can see, but perhaps my communist ideology is blinding me to the “obvious”.
    • Cynicusj

      ‘ perhaps my communist ideology is blinding me to the “obvious”.“

      ANY ideology might blind you to the obvious.

    • Pigeon English

      Why is Brexit “progressive nationalism ” but Scottish nationalism Isn’t?
      I believe the opposite just by looking who are Brexit ideologues.
      Any of them is anything but progressive.
      ( I am aware of Leftist perspective which doesn’t turn Brexit into progressive nationalism)

      • Frank Owen

        The ‘progressive’ stage of nationalism is always very short-lived.

        The post-WW2 anti-colonial struggles can be divided into those undertaken on an explicitly nationalist basis and those that took place under the banner of Communism.

        The former were ‘progressive’ only for so long as they were shrugging off external exploitation. Their struggles won, and as they assimilated into the capitalist world order and exploitation became ‘internecine’, their ‘progressive’ mantle evaporated.

        The latter faced a more hostile reception from the capitalist world order and became locations of the proxy Cold War then being waged in the Third World between the US, USSR and (marginally) China. This additional devastation, on top of that already suffered through colonialism and the anti-colonial struggle, led most to end up similarly assimilated into the capitalist world order simply in order to survive and through sheer exhaustion, Cuba being a notable exception.

        And Brexit? The ‘progressive’ phase lasted as long as the moment of separation – an instant! Since a Socialist/Communist UK was never on the table with or without Brexit, what follows will differ (politically) only in that we are again a real nation-State able to pass our own laws. As for the economy, in the words of Chou En-lai, “It’s too early to tell”.

    • Alf Baird

      The desire for Scottish independence reflects national consciousness rather than nationalism per se.

      The UK is the consequence of Trans-national Nationalism, with England’s domination of the Celtic Periphery nations resulting in internal colonialism and a cultural division of labour leading to inequalities (Hechter). Germany’s occupation of different countries during WWII was also (white on white) colonialism (Cesaire). Colonialism involves racism, prejudice and fascism. The former Soviet Union offers another example.

      Features of colonialism generally include economic exploitation, political control, and may also involve occupation by settlers, notably among the meritocratic elite. This may be combined with cultural and linguistic imperialism/oppression, the intentional obliteration of indigenous cultures and languages. (Hence even today Scots bairns remain deprived of learning to read and write in their ain Scots mither tung in Scottish schuils; language is what gives us our identity, efter aw).

      Scottish independence, as in the case of Ireland, is therefore about decolonisation, and hence liberation from oppression.

      As Frantz Fanon noted in this context, a key feature (of independence) is national culture: “…culture is the expression of national consciousness. National consciousness, which is not nationalism, is the only thing that will give us an international dimension”.

      • fwl

        You don’t learn your mother tongue in school you learn it at home. That’s not to say that bilingual schools are not a good thing. They have done wonders in Wales, but there is something of a different feel for the language between those who spoke Welsh at home and learnt English to make money and those who spoke English at home but learnt Welsh at School and now use it in working life. I’m not saying one is better than the other but when the language is passed on outside of school and free of dictionaries and too many grammarians it has a poetic mercurial quality which encourage natural intuitive mutations. In school making sense of the mutations as a set of rules is a grammatical headache.

        • Fwl

          Learning Welsh at school is a bit like having to go to Sunday school rather than finding God in everything.

          • glenn_uk

            From my experience, they did a shockingly bad job at teaching languages at school – particularly Welsh. Teachers could all speak Welsh fluently, and appeared to prefer to keep it as their secret code – the last thing they wanted was for children to understand them.

          • Fwl

            Glenn – at bilingual schools children from non-west speaking families achieve fluency, which is great. In English only speaking schools if your not form a Welsh speaking family, don’t have a Welsh speaking romantic partner and are just studying it as you would French then you have to be pretty committed and good at languages.

            Alf – I didn’t say the set up was right and there didn’t used to even be a bilingual option it was just education had to be in English and don’t speak Welsh in school – don’t get me started on the Blue Books.

            I am sure the Danes, Finns, Dutch and Norwegians all know what their mother tongue is – its the one they learnt at home.

            The situation in Wales iis kind of the opposite of that in Wales. In Wales Welsh speakers are favoured – the crachach, which results in some division and animosity on the part of non-Welsh speakers. It is cool to speak Welsh. One can understand both sides of the coin. I just hope that as we go about creating a modern body of Welsh law in Welsh we don’t get stupidly literal, overly grammatical and try to fossilise a dynamic living language.

        • Alf Baird

          “You don’t learn your mother tongue in school you learn it at home.”

          That seems to be a rather good definition of a colonial education system. Try saying that to the Norwegian, Danes, Dutch or Finns, all of whom are bilingually taught.

          The dilemma for Scots is that a dominant monolingual English language policy involves introducing a schizoid element into the national psyche (Purves 1997), also resulting in structural inequalities through a cultural division of labour favouring Anglophones; much of Scotland’s meritocratic elite is not Scottish or Scots speaking. Further adverse impacts relate to internalized racism, in which inequalities are perceived as deserved by an oppressed people. Fundamentally a people deprived of their own language end up losing their identity, which explains why many Scots oppose their own national liberation. At the end of the day that is the purpose of linguistic imperialism, to destroy indigenous language and culture which form the basis of identity and national consciousness, and to replace them with another language, culture and identity.

          • Frank Owen

            In following the logic of my reply to Pigeon English, having already read and agreed with all your points regarding the character of colonial occupation in general and the English-Celtic periphery relationship in particular, I find I must now ‘modify my position’ and say: good luck!

          • Bayard

            “You don’t learn your mother tongue in school you learn it at home.”

            That seems to be a rather good definition of a colonial education system. Try saying that to the Norwegian, Danes, Dutch or Finns, all of whom are bilingually taught.”

            Well, no. Your “mother tongue” is the language you learned from your mother and father when you learned to speak. A child can be bilingual in its mother tongue if the parents are bilingual, but what you learn at school has nothing to do with your mother tongue, unless you go to school having not yet learned to speak. In any case, what languages a child learns at school is irrelevant. For a language to survive, it must be the language a child learns when it first learns to speak.

          • Alf Baird


            “Well, no. Your “mother tongue” is the language you learned from your mother and father when you learned to speak. “

            Well, yes, indeed, how to speak in the mother tongue is learned in the hoose, bak-gairden an playgrund etc. However, the mother tongue must be taught, so that speakers are also able to read and write and become literate in their mother tongue. Scottish bairns, as soon as they enter an Anglophone classroom have only anither (alien) langage garred doon thair thrapples whilst the Scots language is cast aside. As British ‘educationalists’ claimed and still appear to believe, the Scots language is not taught because they consider it ‘invalid’; this is ethnic prejudice, if not worse.

            The Council of Europe report on minority languages (and others) have repeatedly argued that Scottish children should be taught their own Scots language in Scottish schools:

            Of course, we know full well the reason why the Scottish ethnic minority (in a UK ‘union’ context) are not taught their own Scots language, as this practice reflects the same language policy played out in a great many former colonies where the destruction of a language and its culture was intended to diminish or remove the desire for independence through cultural assimilation; our language and culture form the basis of our national consciousness, after all (Fanon).

          • Alf Baird


            “For a language to survive, it must be the language a child learns when it first learns to speak.”

            This is wrong. For a language to survive it must first be taught, and used extensively. Ask any aboriginal group.

            According to the 2011 census only 1.6 million people in Scotland claimed to speak Scots, which is less than one third of the population. Fifty years earlier most Scots spoke Scots, and most could recite Scots songs, poetry and nursery rhymes, and there were at least some school educational texts on Scots language, mainly in primary schools. Coincidentally, perhaps, 1.6 million Scots voted Yes in the 2014 referendum and it remains the case that most peoples in self-determination conflict are linguistically divided, as colonial powers well know; which is why the colonial power elevates and prioritizes the language of the colonizer and eradicates the language (and hence the identity) of the colonized (Memmi).

          • Bayard

            “For a language to survive it must first be taught, and used extensively. Ask any aboriginal group.”

            Well, yes, that too, but no language that you learn at school is going to survive. If you don’t speak it at home, then it won’t be “used extensively”. In any case, no-one needs to be taught to use the language they first learned to speak. How did languages survive before mass education? Sure, education in your mother tongue helps its retention, but the language has got to be your mother tongue first.

          • Alf Baird


            “no-one needs to be taught to use the language they first learned to speak.”

            Language is a natural and distinctive core aspect of any ethnic group and is what gives them their culture and identity, which makes language fundamentally important. Language is one of the factors that serves to define and unite a nation. “Language is resoundingly more than a mere means of communication; it is the means by which humans can claim diversity and define their identity” (Shaw 2001).

            Education is necessary for a people to learn how to read and write in the language they speak, to become literate, and to appreciate and value their language. The Scots language is not taught in schools which means Scots are deprived of properly learning or valuing their own mother tongue. the language then becomes subordinate and marginalised.

            Language subordination and loss occurs where indigenous languages are not taught and are replaced through people being taught and forced by law to learn and use another language. This may lead to the death of a language, known as linguicide; linguicide is generally the purpose of linguistic imperialism, the main aim being to give people another national identity and sense of belonging; the loss of language undermines a people’s sense of identity, belonging and place. A people without their own language is a people without their own identity.

            Language is often the most common rationale for peoples seeking self-determination and liberation from cultural etc. oppression.

        • N_

          The Welsh working class people I know in South Wales think bilingual schools are a load of middle class c*ck, basically a way for middle class tossers in the state sector to pass on well-paid jobs to their offspring and to keep the said offspring from being sullied by mixing with the proletariat. They call the types who support such schools “the Welshies”.

          This goes to show that small country, large country, whatever kind of country, yes you can and should expect those who want to be taken seriously as “socialists” to reject ALL kinds of nationalism, because every last bit of it is crap.

          • glenn_uk

            Utter nonsense. The right-wing English (like you) would want this impression given, of course.

          • Bayard

            That’s probably because they don’t come from a Welsh speaking area (which most of South Wales isn’t) and resent having to learn Welsh as a second language. I would agree with them, however that doesn’t mean that education in Welsh shouldn’t be available for those whose first language is Welsh. Ditto Irish.

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      “At each stage of economic development, the ideology that has ‘greased the wheels’ of exploitation by obscuring the actual workings of the system (by a complicated mechanism of miscognition-recognition, not the calculated deception of the ignorant masses by a cynical, disbelieving ‘elite’ – ideology is not conscious programming) has alternated between the religious and the politico-juridical (currently).”

      But does it follow from this that there is no attempted calculated deception of the ignorant masses that is worth thinking about?

      ” a complicated mechanism of miscognition-recognition, “

      Where is this mechanism described?

      • Frank Owen
        1. The “calculated deception of the ignorant masses by a cynical, disbelieving ‘elite’” is more properly termed propaganda. It is what State security services, political parties, the media and individuals deal in when attempting to weaken or destroy an opponent, short of physical violence. It thus spans a whole range of activities, from Russiagate to Fergie’s mind-games against Kevin Keegan when both were football managers! Indeed, Craig Murray and Aaron Maté (to mention but two) both spend a large part of their time countering such propaganda efforts via the time-consuming but ‘simple’ method of “providing the facts” ‒ propaganda cannot stand “The Truth”.

          Propaganda, however, has nothing whatsoever to do with ideology.

        2. “”…a complicated mechanism of miscognition-recognition…” Where is this mechanism described?”

          The process description ‘miscognition-recognition’ was first used fleetingly in relation to ideology by Marx in The German Ideology (1845) and then taken up again by Louis Althusser in the 1960s.

          At this point, I am just going to recommend Jorge Larrain’s The Concept of Ideology (1979) for three reasons. Firstly, it is the best concise introduction to what is an extremely complicated subject that I know of – it covers all the ground from the Renaissance (Machiavelli) up to the present (Althusser). Secondly, The German Ideology is (philosophically) a pre-Marxist text, one not published during his lifetime for that very reason and one that he was content to leave for the “gnawing criticism of the mice”. Finally, Althusser is not an easy read and, like Marx, his thought matured over time (mistakes were made) and can be periodised. Nevertheless, his work on ideology was extremely influential and remains the basis for materialist theories of ideology today.

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      Frank Owen
      Which of these statements is likely to be true?

      • The ruling class is not conscious of its interests;
      • A ruling class conscious of its interests not going to discuss them among themselves;
      • Such discussion would not lead to schemes for pusuing their interests;
      • None of such schemes would require an element of secrecy?
      • N_

        Agreed with yer point, @Johny.

        The thing is that bourgeois democracy has for more than a century now (in Britain; for less time in some other places) been bound up with mass media and the power that the ruling class exerts over minds using the mass media. Middle class idiots who like to play their role in the hierarchy of gobs (the opiniosphere), discussing this and that policy or policy proposal, almost all work on the hidden assumption that democracy is genuine and that the rulers’ democratic/media system to large extent expresses the general interest. That’s why they despise and scoff at everything they can label as “conspiracy theory”. Most middle class people involved in managerial or scribbler types of jobs or roles don’t have a f***ing clue about the ruling class. Seriously I have never heard a single one of them say anything interesting about the ruling class or even show a basic understanding of the fact that there is a ruling class.

  • Republicofscotland

    Nicola Sturgeon’s most trusted aide for over a decade will be voting for Alex Salmond’s new pro-independence party at the Holyrood election.

    Noel Dolan said it was “sensible” for pro-indy supporters to give their second vote to Alba.

  • Goose

    Ex-NATO press officer Ben Nimmo’s pseudo-science assessments of who is and who isn’t a Russian bot, started this, assessments seemingly often based on one or two tweets before wild accusations are levelled. His methods should probably be filed alongside telekinese or the work of seance mediums. Quite how a serious organisations like Nato and others took Nimmo seriously, is the bigger question? They’d been better investing in developing ‘remote viewers’ : The Men who stare at Goats?

    Apparently, Nimmo has now been hired by FaceBook. He’s now Ben Nimmo: Head of Global Threat Intelligence Strategy at Facebook. FaceBook suffered a huge leak at the weekend in which the data of 533 million Facebook users was leaked, including Mark Zuckerberg’s name, location, contact number, marriage details, Facebook ID, and other relevant information. The most bizarre revelation was that Zuck seemingly doesn’t trust his own WhatsApp. Dave Walker, a Cyber Doctoral Researcher, shared a tweet showing how even Zuckerberg is on Signal.

    • Stevie Boy

      NATO hasn’t been a serious organisation for a very long time. It is just another facet of US imperialism.

      • Goose

        Absurd how they got taken in. Sky News also has a series of programmes: Into the Grey Zone, making similar claims. They talk about Russia trying to divide western populations.

        What will divide us, is creating a culture of suspicion, in which no one can express a long-held opinion eg. on Scottish Independence or on changing the UK voting system. without some arsehole popping up, accusing the person expressing their long-held opinions, of having it fed to them by Russia/China.

    • Goose

      And FYI. Don’t post on twitter, nor do I have a FaceBook a/c so good luck in claiming this is somehow bot activity. My opinions are my own.

    • N_

      See also Mark Zuckenberg having a bit of tape stuck over his webcam. Is he hard up or something? Can’t he afford a pack of six of those little sliding covers, available for £1.99 at Amazon.

      Facebook is so powerful it runs various “oppositions” to itself.

      They are scum and they know they are. None of them would allow their children to get hooked on the smack they’re “giving away for free”/

  • Tom Welsh

    “…Whitehall will never willingly accept the loss of Scotland’s magnificent resources…”

    That is the view expressly stated by Abraham Lincoln in his First Inaugural Address:

    “I hold that, in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution, the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination”.

    However, more recent US administrations have shown great willingness not only to tolerate and recognise, but to support secession movements from other nations.

    • Wikikettle

      The greatest threat to the USA is not Russia or China but its own hubris and huge poverty, health, education and housing stricken population. It refuses to look after its own people.

      • Twirlip

        An attitude memorably expressed by the mayor (now ex-mayor) of Colorado City:

        “No one owes you or your family anything; nor is it the local governments responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim, it’s your choice! The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING! I’m sick and tired of people looking for a damn hand out! If you don’t have electricity you step up and come up with a game plan to keep your family warm and safe. If you have no water you deal with out and think outside of the box to survive and supply water to your family. If you were sitting at home in the cold because you have no power and are sitting there waiting for someone to come rescue you because your lazy is direct result of your raising! Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish [sic]. Folks, God Has given us the tools to support ourselves in times like this. This is sadly a product of a socialist government where they feed people to believe that the FEW work and others will become dependent for handouts. Am I sorry that you have been dealing without electricity and water; yes! But I’ll be damned if I’m going to provide for anyone that is capable of doing it themselves! We have lost sight of those in need and those that take advantage of the system and mesh them into one group!! Bottom line, quit crying and looking for a handout! Get off your ass and take care of your own family!


      • Goose

        It’s reported in the guardian today that Ukraine is once again pushing for NATO membership.

        Josh Cohen a former USAID project officer posed some difficult questions in 2016 that still stand today:

        1. Would the United States be willing to back up a commitment to defend Ukraine by deploying tens of thousands of additional troops to Europe – essentially recreating a Cold War force posture on the continent?
        2. How should Washington respond if – as is entirely possible – Moscow instigated further military action in Ukraine after Ukraine received an official invitation to join NATO, but before a formal agreement admitting Kyiv to the club was signed?
        3. Is the United States willing to strike command and control or military targets inside Russia proper if militarily required? How would it respond, then, if Moscow retaliates by launching missiles at Alaska or Europe, or by invading the Baltics?
        4. And finally, is the United States willing to risk a nuclear exchange to defend Ukraine?

        War games carried out in 2016 revealed NATO would lose a war in the Baltics to Russia within 36 to 60 hours, and it’s hard to envision anything other than a similar outcome in Ukraine.

        One of the reasons the SNP should still oppose NATO membership.

        • Wikikettle

          Its interesting the role played by alliance’s prior to WW1. Its interesting the US is pushing for more regional alliance’s in Indo Pacific on top of NATO. Its interesting that Russia and China do not want to form an alliance. Even India is resisting US overtures. South Korea and Taiwan are in bed with someone who has no interest in their security.

      • N_

        US culture certainly has enormous hubris. But its ideology is very strong internally. There really are e.g. bikers whose teeth are falling out, who live in precarious accommodation, who find it hard to buy basic stuff at the end of each month, and who still think they live in the “best country in the world”. Admittedly most are white guys who like nothing better than the Confederate flag, whose attitudes are a kind of toilet-stain of history.

    • Craig P

      ” It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination”

      Lincoln hadn’t heard of the Good Friday Agreement then. Though he might argue the NIA was ‘no government proper’…

  • Jm

    Facebook and Zuckerberg are well past their sell-by date; how anyone can take them seriously is beyond me.

    The post-truth society and fake news is as much their fault as anyone’s.

    • Goose

      Zuckerberg is currently embroiled in a row with Priti Patel over her desire to prevent facebook rolling out end-to-end encryption across its platform of services. Rumoured the govt may even issue a Technical Capability Notice (TCN) against Facebook, although it’s difficult to see how you can have it just apply to the UK citizens? Not when their ephemeral Key-exchange protocol i.e., one using a temporary public/private key pair to generate the shared secret, will be rolled out universally.

      • Goose

        Very good, relatively easy to follow explanation of what the UK govt are arguing against here, google engineer and Linux kernel developer Robert Love, posted this in answer to a question on an open forum:

        Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) is a function of the key-exchange protocol. The key-exchange protocol results in the generation of a shared secret that may be used as the input to the cipher used to encrypt an SSL session. Key-exchange protocols that provide PFS are called ephemeral because they use a temporary public/private key pair to generate the shared secret. Non-ephemeral protocols use a long-lived secret, usually the same one for all connections, and thus the security of all sessions past and present are tied to the security of the private key.

        I’ve always looked at PFS as how one should expect SSL to work. Without PFS, an adversary in position of the private key for a site can decrypt all communication forever and always between that host and all clients. You might say that makes sense, but note that the actual encryption employed over SSL is not encrypted via public key encryption but instead via a symmetric cipher such as AES. Public key encryption is used to generate and share the key to that cipher. Without PFS, that cipher key is tied to the site’s private key. This means an adversary can sniff and store all encrypted traffic from a particular host in hopes of compromising the security in the future. If it ever does, the whole lot can be decrypted at once. With PFS, that isn’t possible, as a unique secret is used to generate the shared secret for each session.

        Let’s look at how key exchange works in the common non-ephemeral case. Instead of giving a practical example using, say, Diffie-Hellman, I’ll give a generalized example where the math is simple:

        1. Alice wants to talk to Bob.
        2. Bob has a private key X and a public key Y. X is secret, Y is public.
        3. Alice generates a large, random integer M.
        4. Alice encrypts M using Y and sends Y(M) to Bob.
        5. Bob decrypts Y(M) using X, yielding M.
        6. Both Alice and Bob now have M and use it as the key to whatever cipher they agreed to use for the SSL session—for example, AES.

        Pretty simple, right? The problem, of course, is that if anyone ever finds out X, every single communication is compromised: X lets an attacker decrypt Y(M), yielding M. Let’s look at the PFS version of this scenario:

        1. Alice wants to talk to Bob.
        2. Bob generates a new set of public and private keys, Y’ and X’.
        3. Bob sends Y’ to Alice.
        4. Alice generates a large, random integer M.
        5. Alice encrypts M using Y’ and sends Y'(M) to Bob.
        6. Bob decrypts Y'(M) using X’, yielding M.
        7. Both Alice and Bob now have M and use it as the key to whatever cipher they agreed to use for the SSL session—for example, AES.

        (X and Y are still used to validate identity; I’m leaving that out.)

        In this second example, X isn’t used to create the shared secret, so even if X becomes compromised, M is undiscoverable. But you’ve just pushed the problem to X’, you might say. What if X’ becomes known? But that’s the genius, I say. Assuming X’ is never reused and never stored, the only way to obtain X’ is if the adversary has access to the host’s memory at the time of the communication. If your adversary has such physical access, then encryption of any sort isn’t going to do you any good. Moreover, even if X’ were somehow compromised, it would only reveal this particular communication.

        That’s PFS.

        • Goose

          That answer was given in reply to ‘What is PFS? ‘. But the same principles apply and relate to the current debate about ephemeral protocols and end-to-end encryption.

          Also, Bob represents a server, and Alice a client, in the example.

        • Johny Conspiranoid

          If Facebook have anything to do with it you can be sure there’s a back door for the security ‘services’.

          • fishnishandchips

            its probably just bullshit to give facebook some veneer of resistance meaning. Turns out nobody trusts them!’ I know, lets pretend that we resist The WitchFinder Generales so we can at least fool half the people half the time’. Cults, religions, school administrators. The files are always open. Its not like Pretty Vacant is marching in there with attack dogs personally. Its gone far too far. Tis more like a cartoon than a cartoon could ever be. Just as it always was. Be kind and don’t believe your avatar.

        • N_

          And what’s Alice saying to Bob? Probably a load of old sh*t. That’s part of the problem, but I wouldn’t expect computer programmers to notice it.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Mere coincidence that Sturgeon’s Nu SNP should be so steadfastly Atlanticist? Who’s who at Westminster.

    • Stewart McDonald (Glasgow South) – Spokesperson for Defence.
    • Alyn Smith – Foreign Affairs Spokesperson.
    • Angela Crawley – (was) Defence Procurement Spokesperson.

    None of these people are heterosexual. All are fully paid up members of Nicola’s Woko haram cult. Is it any wonder that they are antipathetic to Putin’s Russia?

    The very idea that it’s appropriate for the SNP to have a Defence Procurement Spokesperson. WTF has that got to do with leaving the UK?!

    Crawley is (as of 01/02/21) Shadow Attorney General for the SNP at Westminster. Get this; Crawley obtained a LLB Degree in Law from the University of Glasgow AFTER she became a MP. A Shadow Attorney General that’s never practiced law! FFS!
    The “Lavender mafia” sure are running things down Westminster way.

    • Goose

      Ben Bradshaw MP is one of the loudest most overt critics of Russia in the HoC.

      Russia’s treatment of LGBT communities is abysmal, but you’d think they’d try to be more objective.

      • Stevie Boy

        Of course the problem that a lot of the LGBT community appears to have with Russia is that they have specifically created laws that prevent LGBT types from having access to minors.

        • Goose

          Ultimately, it’s for the Russian people to decide.

          Why no similar outrage in the media or HoC about the far more brutal Egypt, or any one of the other ME absolute monarchs the UK/US asre propping up? Putting down the alleged coup attempt in Jordan probably relied on western signals intelligence (SIGINT) . ME countries can’t develop democratically , because the US and UK are policing opponents on behalf of brutal dictators.

          • Goose

            And if not directly policing opponents, they’re providing equipment and training to monitor opponents, Jamal Khashoggi for example.

            Most of these ME despots wouldn’t last long without western intel assistance.

      • Johny Conspiranoid

        “Russia’s treatment of LGBT communities is abysmal, but you’d think they’d try to be more objective.”

        What information have we got about that?

  • Republicofscotland

    Isn’t it wonderful that in Alex Salmond we have a party leader that can actually quote Scottish history. Salmond easily sounds off on facts and figures about Scotland’s past, and give us a sense, that here’s a man and party leader that knows and cares about Scotland and its rich history.

    When was the last time you heard Sturgeon speak of Scottish history? Nevermind in an endearing way that Salmond does.

    I know who has Scots interests at heart and its not Sturgeon.

    Still as Alex asks of us, SNP 1 ALBA 2 votes wise.

        • fwl

          Afraid not. I wish I could.

          When I hear the name Alba I think of Juan March’s Majorcan adventures and of Alba Financial.

          • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

            There are also various firms that use the name, eg Alba Traffic Management Services. And there is the ‘Duke of Alba’ nobility title in Spain (and as a sherry name). The Gaelic term has a cognate in Latin, which has given rise to the Spanish and Italian words “Alba” meaning “dawn, daybreak”. The names Albion and Albania are etymologically related. Even maybe “Alps”. Anyway, in my own humble opinion English speakers referring to the Alba Party should feel perfectly comfortable pronouncing it without fuss just as it looks and as if it was an English word. Same as most of us as English and Gaelic speakers don’t feel any need to put on an Italian accent when referring to spaghetti or macaroni, though it can be fun to try. Alex Salmond, for his part, is of course addressing in a formal capacity the entire country of Scotland which includes its Gaelic speakers. It is therefore respectful for him to sound the Gaelic word properly. For the record, he pronounces the name Alba perfectly well in its Gaelic rendition. He says “AL-a-pa”. That’s fine. “AL-a-ba” would also be fine. I am perhaps a day or so late wishing yourself “Pasg Hapus!” (Note the interesting p/q Celtic distinction there over against Gaelic “Càisg Shona!”). (I got the Welsh from a dictionary, by the way, so don’t go testing me…!)

          • H Smith

            We have a retired ‘Alba’ TV in the loft. How do we pronounce that given that it is made in China?

          • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

            H Smith 04.16 asks:

            “We have a retired ‘Alba’ TV in the loft. How do we pronounce that given that it is made in China?”

            Here is a shot at it which is open to correction from anyone —

            ALBA –
            艾爾芭 (艾尔芭) Ài’ěrbā
            艾芭 Àibā
            (Beautiful as fragrant plant)

            And for general interest —

            SCOTLAND –
            (Awakening orchid)

  • Jay

    Unfortunately Sturgeon’s position looks virtually impregnable just now. She retains huge public support. She has the whole apparatus of government and the legal system under her control. Unionist media has her back. An official green light has been given for her to fit up and smear opponents. The interview made it plain that she sees the next five years as a straightforward continuation and entrenchment of her administration under British rule. It is going to take something very big to derail that plan and I would fear for anybody who tries to derail it. This one is not letting go easily.

    • giyane


      When you say virtually, I suppose you mean like playing virtual golf in Scotland from a computer in Sutton Coldfield. All information and all sources of information are virtual. 4th generation warfare is for example announcing that Mosul has already fallen to Daesh long before the event has occurred in a pre-arranged and corrupt way in order to undermine confidence and deflect attention from the bribe that was paid to stand down Mosul’s defence forces.

      All keyboard warriors have to stand firm, and resist the pernicious output of the MSM who were unavailable to witness the Defence’s case for Alex Salmond. The MSM is like one of those half formed clones that is half mechanical skeleton and half imitation flesh. They continue to live in the phoney outcome of that trial,. months after he was acquitted. Clones are programmed and it is impossible for them to adapt to reality without being re-programmed. Artificial Intelligence my arse. That’s what you get when you listen to the Delphic Oracle or the witches of Macbeth: a narrative, a story, a whim, a will o’ the wisp, a devil.

      Nicola Sturgeon has no legitimacy because she is an Integrity Initiative Fraud. The Lord Advocate is a conman. Only Craig seems to have understood that she is just an irritation that will no longer exist when the film studio fake smoke, wind and rain machines are switched off. Coronation Street and In the Line of Duty don’t exist if like me you don’t have a TV.

        • Giyane

          I am bored with my own MP Liam Byrne supporting illegal wars and supporting a train repair shop in the centre of Birmingham where houses should be.

          Who you lot elect in Scotland is of absolutely no interest to me.

          • glenn_uk

            “Who you lot elect in Scotland is of absolutely no interest to me.”

            Then why contribute so heavily to threads specifically concerned with that very subject?

        • fishnishandchips

          Giyane is never boring. Confusing, remarkable, wide of the mark, on point, here. Like AI. An overview channel. Might stop you one day thinking you are right all the time. And then what!?

      • Wikikettle

        Giyane. Good to hear you don’t have a TV and do have a stove which radiates a comforting warm glow letting the mind in peace to read and contemplate. The TV is cold, mesmeric, brainwashing time waste.

        • glenn_uk

          … whereas spending vast amounts of time online, and posting whatever comes into your head at any given moment, is wholesome and fulfilling.

          • Wikikettle

            glenn_uk. The quality and information Craig provides is what I choose to spend my valuable time reading. I also find the very high standard of his contributor’s comments equally informative and find association with. I also watch online The Grayzone. When Robert Fisk was alive I used to read the Independent. I don’t know how you assume spend vast amounts of time online. If it irritates you, please don’t read my comments and spend your time creatively and positively. Presumably you like Craig and and support his journalism. Or do you get your kicks just being negative and trolling?

          • glenn_uk

            Wikikettle: Actually I was not addressing your good self, and your views are generally interesting enough. My point was that the negative “cold, mesmeric, brainwashing time waste” influence of television might not be alleviated by spending even more time online. Particularly when such individuals feel compelled to produce literally scores of posts every day no matter what the subject, often at length, regardless of its relevance to the point.

            Since your post just above was praising an individual who does just that, perhaps lacking a TV is not quite the benefit you seemed to imply – either to that poster or the rest of us.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Johny Conspiranoid
    April 6, @ 09:35
    How does a once radical party come to this? Is it a concerted effort at infiltration by hidden parties?

    Let’s start with Humza Yousaf.
    “In 2008, whilst working as an aide, Yousaf took part in the IVLP programme, an exchange that is run by the US State Department.” That’s right, into his second year as a humble aide, Yousaf was recognised by the US State Department as a “future leader”.

    Stephen Gethins, I’ve already dealt with earlier in this thread.

    One time Scottish Labour Leader, Kezia Dugdale resigned from the Scottish Parliament to take up the the role of Chair / Director at the John Smith Centre for Public Service, University of Glasgow in 2019. Dugdale was herself part of a IVLP delegation in 2016 together with her now bidie-in, Jenny Gilruth MSP of the SNP and Ross “the boaby snatcher” (allegedly) Thompson (are we seeing a pattern here?). The JSCfPS is overseen by Catherine Smith. The “Honourable” Sarah Smith (yes she really does style herself as such for that gig), Political Editor at BBC Scotland is also on the board. Sarah’s hubby is an ex-military spook (assuming you believe spooks ever really retire). Catherine and Sarah’s mummy (Baroness Smith of Gilmore Hill) was a one time Director of private spook outfit Hakluyt (go figure?).

    Sturgeon is a big fan of the JSCfPS. The JSCfPS mission statement is full of the usual “enabling”, “inclusive”, “fostering respect” guff you’d expect. Translation: “pack Scottish politics full of unemployable Politics graduates that have never had a proper job in their lives and probably never will and will do whatever they’re told to progress their careers”.

    The SNP parliamentary ranks are disproportionately stacked with graduates from various politics courses run by Stirling University. Whether it’s coincidence that Stirling is also the constituency (but not apparently home) to Alyn “Daddy Bear” Smith (he of the on – off boyfriend 17 years his junior) remains unclear to me.

    • giyane

      Vivian O’Blivion

      Classic comment. But why has IVLP never tried to zombify me?

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      The JSCfPS, 2021 Parliamentary intern programme is divided thus. SNP 6 interns, Conservatives 2, Labour 3, Greens 1.
      The “lucky” SNP recipients include Sturgeon, Yousaf and Gilruth (yep, her again).
      One keen intern includes on her bio, working in “children’s theatre and sensory work created for neurodiverse children.” “Neurodiverse” huh, I think we had another term in my day.

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      Vivian O’Blivion
      That would be ‘yes’ then.
      There must be someone at the US State Department who holds the SNP brief to co-ordinate this activity, and presumably similar for all of the UK’s political organisations.

      • Vivian O'Blivion

        Yes, this is not haphazard interference, there’s clearly a centralised programme at work here. Credit where credit’s due, the US State Department is entirely open about the IVLP. Where the IVLP was limited to Westminster, on the inauguration of the devolved administrations they announced that they would be “taking an interest”. While the British American Project (see John Smith, Peter Mandelson, etc …) claims to be a private and independent initiative (but is entirely opaque as to its funding), the IVLP is entirely in plain view.
        While well remunenerated presstitutes like David Leask froth at the mouth about Russian / Iranian bots and “troll farms”, they maintain a stony silence about the efforts of the US State Department. Check out James Kelly’s interview with Alex Salmond on Scot goes pop. Salmond flatly refuses to acknowledge Leask as a journalist. Alex don’t f**k around!
        The officers at the State Department assigned to specific, devolved administrations (let’s call them “case handlers”) appear to be working from a carefully crafted script. MSPs from the LGBT cohort appear to be (I’m reasonably sure that a little research can turn “appear to be” into “are”) preferentially “targeted” for the IVLP. Perhaps they are judged likely to be antipathetic to Putin’s Russia? Depressingly, a number of SNP elected politicians (Derek Mackay, Westminster Chief Whip Patrick Grady and Alyn Smith) may harbour preferences verging dangerously close to pederasty and are therefore open to blackmail and control.

        • Bayard

          “Depressingly, a number of SNP elected politicians (Derek Mackay, Westminster Chief Whip Patrick Grady and Alyn Smith) may harbour preferences verging dangerously close to pederasty and are therefore open to blackmail and control.”

          I’m sure for anyone without such proclivities, evidence that they do can be “found” if someone looks hard enough.

  • Tanya+Stone

    Let me recommend a route to independence that worked in the past. Write a Declaration of Independence. Hold a Constitutional Convention. And get governing.

    We had British forces trying to put down our rebellion. How would that look in Scotland? And we won, anyway (thank you, France!).

    Every radical movement trying to get us out from under the corpocracy that rules us today has been derailed by sending Establishment people to the front of the line who yell, This way! and lead the movement back to the status quo. Looks like Scottish Independence has been hijacked in this manner.

    No surprise they have been disturbing your peace and want to send you to prison, Mr. Murray. Here you would be a Cointelpro target. Looks like you are there, whatever they call it.

  • Tatyana

    Perhaps the talk about the Russian threat is just covering up the truth. Many thoughts are expressed on how an evil Russia might benefit from Scotland, but what about thinking vice versa?
    Perhaps talking about bad Russians discourages focusing on what Scotland could benefit from cooperation?

    I’m not an expert in military bases like Kempe. My explanation is in the field of commerce and households. I see the whole market dropped out because of Norway and Iceland, and it seems to me that an independent Scotland might be interested to fill in. The current prices for pork in Russia are twice less than the prices for northern sea fish. Gosh, we earlier considered some fish to be food for cats and now it’s an expensive delicacy.
    I guess it also involves fleet modernising and more technical things of that kind, that might be beneficial for both countries.

    • fwl

      I’m not sure about fish but Scotland literally fills in the geo-political gap between Norway and Iceland.

      • Tatyana

        Heh, I meant the huge gap in Russian fish food market. We used to buy Norge salmons and Iceland cod.
        Me personally digged into this, as I was prescribed to eat more vitamin D, so I looked for the best cod’s liver products here and Iceland’s is the best of all.

        • Tatyana

          Ah, forgot to mention, because of sanctions these products are no more available in Russia today.
          People joke about shrimp in our stores, they say it’s shrimps harvested in Belarus 🙂

          • Goose

            Vitamin D is subject to sanctions?

            Western populations would never agree to trade sanctions on any nation as it’s collective punishment. It’s purely the doing of elites. Financial sanctions – the freezing of assets of individuals may be in order but not trade sanctions on what are often poor nations. And it seems to be entirely left to the US to decide who the world’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys are. And it often has little to do with human rights , which are selectively observed eg. Palestine. The current world order is rotten.

          • fwl

            I hadn’t realised that there were sanctions on food stuffs. I thought they were just on particular politicians and companies. Hopefully Sturgeon (fish not the politician) and Caviar are still available at competitive prices.

          • Goose

            The sanctions against war shattered, pandemic hit Syria, are the most eregious example. The US introduced the latest sanctions unde the Caesar Act in June 2020.

            According to a news release by the UN human rights office (OHCHR), the Caesar Act contains the most wide-ranging US sanctions ever applied against Syria. It could target any foreigner helping in reconstruction of Syria, including employees of foreign companies and humanitarian operators helping to rebuild.

            I don’t think populations in the west realise our elites and policy makers are just as cruel as the slave owners and brutal colonialists of the past.

          • Goose

            Future generations will view these cruel ‘sanctioning’ elites, as slave owners are viewed today.

          • Giyane


            Simply put, USUKIS trashed Syria for Israel. That’s not going to succeed if China reconstructs it.
            However, African slaves have always resisted their oppressors and in the same way, Israel, by enabling and supporting terrorism around the world, will ultimately pay the price for that violence.

            I agree with you that the same traders kept the lid on their crimes for centuries, and USUKIS is trying to do the same by locking up Julian Assange. But enough has been documented about USUKIS war crimes for them ultimately to be held to account.

          • Tatyana

            Good morning, everyone!
            I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have been writing that late at night from my phone. It seems that’s why I misinformed you.

            In fact, countries imposed sanctions on Russia, because of Crimea. And the food embargo is Russia’s response.

            Here is a list of countries:
            USA, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, France, Croatia, Czech Republic, Sweden and Estonia, Canada, Australia, Kingdom of Norway, Ukraine, Albania, Montenegro,
            Iceland, Liechtenstein.
            Official website:

  • M.J.

    Perhaps Nicola Sturgeon takes the 55% democratic vote of the Scottish people to REMAIN in the UK more seriously than some. 🙂

    • Bayard

      In which case, what is she doing at the head of the Scottish Nationalist Party? Shouldn’t she go and join the Conservative and Unionist Party, to give it its full name? Mind you, I think she already has, in spirit.

  • DunGroanin

    Well what a couple of great tackles by the Indy wingers against the star player – who is beginning to looking like a can of worms exploding.

    What does the MSM have to say about it?

    Sssseverin hisses the latest play and ignores it completely! Actually reports something Salmond said!! That’s a sure sign of feeling they are a bit winded, while still managing to slyly repeat the lies.

    At least they are admitting the plan which has been long arranged to avoid moves towards Indy in the next parliament. Now it is to be used to deliberately increase the Greens vote, officially by the SNP, so that their coalition can take control and agree to not push for instant Independence.

    “Even so, it is highly unlikely the SNP or the Scottish Green party, the other pro-independence party at Holyrood, will entertain Salmond’s demands.
    The SNP is expected to forge much closer ties with the Greens, and could consider forming a coalition government with them to help neutralise Salmond.”

    • Giyane


      The Guardian’s message is not for Union supporters to vote Green to keep Independence at bay. Voters with no principles will never vote for a Party with high principles. The message is for Unionists to vote Tory or Labour because SNP + Alba + Greens is a super majority coalition.

      Maybe it will be James Wolffe sitting in prison not Craig, if Alex Salnond has his way.

      • DunGroanin

        I didn’t say the message was for Unionists.

        The message is for SNP supporters.

        To vote SNP 1 , Green 2.

        Under the obviously false claim that the Greens are a Indy Party.

        The pressure being felt is moving the Union to promote that tactic as they get cornered. The Strategy has long been to further diffuse the Indy cohesion by such means that stops SNP success at the polls and that ultimately means disillusion with the SNP that the future voters walk away from it.

        The scandals they have generated are to be used to achieve such disillusion.

        This is not new by the DS/Establishment.
        It goes back to the Callahan / Healey treachery and road to break the same postwar Red Walls voting. The moronic ‘crises, what crisis?’ And Flying to the USSR to begin for money before happily tying us up with the IMF loans and conditions as planned. Followed by the SNP treachery of the long planted group of 4 acolytes; followed by the Kinnock self hate and fight with the equally agitprop Trots; followed by the Blair Witch Project to defang the section 4 clause , which completed the neutering of old Labour – which failed the moment a traditional leadership rose like a Phoenix and ended up creating half a million new members – because the folk memory is not so easy to annihilate.

        The SNP obviously has been worked against for decades with the imposition of the Incubi/Succubae sexual identity demonisation of the body politicking aimed directly at the sensibilities of the majority of Scots who have Indy firing through their blood. Yes Salmond was fooled into becoming a Frankenstein and built a monster; a Hyde emerged from the Jekyll that he thought was working for freedom – but she was long long nurtured as the demons I cite.
        Like Samson, Salmond has been tied to the pillars and expected to bring down the Indy edifice by the Delilah of Sturgeon (she was probably even picked for her name being such intellectual wags in the upper echelons).

        The ultimate weapons are Strategic and lead to the nuke option of Self Destruction of the SNP – aimed as I say directly to the psyche of the Scottish Ego/Id – hence a raft of treachery and conspicuous pork barrelling that is accumulated – to be revealed and reviled.

        As I am sure you of all people can see the haramisation of Independence.

        That is the target that the Sssseverin is pathfinding with this shift in tactics.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Tatyana and Goose,

    One notes:-

    “ Ah, forgot to mention, because of sanctions these products are no more available in Russia today.

    And you Goose said:-

    “Future generations will view these cruel ‘sanctioning’ elites, as slave owners are viewed today.”

    The great global powers are no doubt in competition and as Russia spies, so too does the US (et al). And who has interfered in other countries’ elections and sought ‘regime change’ more than any other on the planet? And – which country has imposed more illegal unilateral sanctions and ignored the framework for global conflict resolution under the UN system than any other? Correct – the United States of America.

    So, I was recently reflecting on the situation between the US and Iran – and my reflections produced this:-

    ‘Rope a dope’ – or – when powers clash.

    I recall from the ‘rumble in the jungle’ fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in 1974 in then-Zaire, the strategy which Ali used on the then-undefeated Foreman. Ali used the ropes and had Foreman punch himself out, and then Ali knocked out Foreman.

    I mention the fight to say that there is nothing other than a fight between the US and Iran. It seems that it is the US (in the role of Foreman) bringing the fight and Iran (maybe like Ali) being obliged to use a strategy to try and win the fight against the odds.

    The history goes quite a way back – which represents, in relation to the West generally, famine, a CIA/MI6 coup, a revolution and ever since the 1979 revolution on-going tensions between the US and Iran. Why so? In summary, the US had a puppet leader in the personage of the Shah of Iran; the US lost him in 1979; the US is the main supporter of Israel and has that country as a beachhead for US foreign policy in the Middle East; the US/Israel alliance remains in a tense foreign policy relationship with Iran; the Obama administration arrived at a deal with Iran (JCPOA) and then the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the agreement – now here we are. (See link here for some historical background – ).

    Just recently, while still the US and Iran have yet to resume the JCPOA, China and Iran have announced a deal worth US$400 billion spread over a 25 year period.

    At the time that the JCPOA deal was struck then many European countries with the requisite technology were venturing towards engagement in the lucrative gas and oil Iranian market. The Trump withdrawal from the agreement changed European prospects of investing in Iran and likewise the global configuration of alliances and financing in the game. Sanctions and substantial economic pressure on Iran precipitated from the US compelled Iran to look elsewhere for trade and economic investment support for Iran’s sustenance. The direction that Iran has moved in is East, to China.

    For my part, I do not see any side obtaining all that this or that side demands. It was the US, not Iran, which unilaterally withdrew from the agreement; there was nothing nor anything to date stated or emerging from the IAEA that Iran had breached the agreement with the US – so ultimately, since Iran has clearly stated that there can be a return to the status quo ante – then what does the US want?

    • To resume to a point when the JCPOA still had the US as a party to the agreement; or
    • To re-negotiate and have a different agreement; or
    • To dictate certain new specific different or expanded terms to Iran – or – well – what?

    So Foreman has thrown some very painful punches; Ali has defended his corner on the ropes – and since we have not yet reached the knock-out eighth round – is Foreman already claiming an early victory or has he begun to start feeling weary?

    It remains to be seen what next with the nuclear agreement between the US and Iran.

    • DunGroanin

      CB, MoA has a decent piece on this now.
      My opinion is:
      The Maximum Pressure strategy born under Clinton’s State department and implemented by UpPompeyus has been met by the resistance strategy of Solemani.
      Following his assassination it has evolved into Maximum Resistance with the fusion of the Multipolarisim strategy developed by Russia/China over 25 years as a means of once and for all destroying the NWO worked towards for centuries under the Anglo Imperial hagemony.

      Their Fugged and they know they are!

      The Empire is dead. It is a zombie. We are living in its fag end, there is no doubt a label for it. Gramsci talked of its symptoms… in short history repeats , again.

      Long live the new empire.

    • Wikikettle

      Courtney Barnett. The quality of US diplomacy and State Department is exactly as you say : A big ugly Dope, wildly flaying its big fists causing as MLK said a purveyor of death and destruction on the global stage. Blockades or as everyone calls them “sanctions”, cause misery and suffering. They are actually a declaration of war. Can you imagine if the US was blockaded and not allow to buy or sell oil ?! How many people know that Japan was blockaded prior to Pearl Harbour?! It was wholly dependent on importing oil and raw materials, just as China is today. China can easily be blockaded via bottle necks, hence its naval and artifisial islands build up. Russian ports are ice bound, its only access is via Turkish bottle neck. Its only warm water port in Syria. I do love watching the Ali fights, his main fight against the draft and poetic and articulate fight against his peoples treatment. Very heartening to hear him destroy the likes of William F Buckley.

      • lysias

        A gas pipeline between China and Russia was just opened the end of 2020. An oil pipeline has existed for years. China can get all sorts of goods from other countries overland, via the Belt and Road Initiative.

  • Muscleguy

    If things go on there will be a NATO style almighty stushie in the SNP over honours and peerages. If the UN job doesn’t work out I can easily see Sturgeon in the HoL. She would love it to bits.

    The SNP rules state that if any member accepts a peerage they will be expelled. It would be a race between expulsion and resignation.

    This because Scots have see their leaders coopted by the British state. First the Lairds and the Clan Chiefs were given seats, their sons elected at English public schools. There are reasons why few of them have Scottish accents.

    Then there was the Labour party, born in Glasgow. Peerages blunted its radical edge. Broke the dream. Labour became all about managing the expectations of the Working Classes instead of delivering real meaningful change.

    Sturgeon may even be quite happy to see all the hardcore independence elements leave the SNP for Alba or whoever. A party of careerists will be much easier to manage than one full of dedicated activists.

    • DunGroanin

      She will like Clegg. Millibland (D) and other psychopath mercenaries and execs of Empire be well rewarded for their – as I sure Swansong , The Funny Tingers and fake tory rebels are getting their just rewards for their efforts in delivering the hard BrexShit and stabbing Corbyn from behind, front, above and up his jacksy too. Where are the Chukka and Leslies and the banshees of Antisemitism now? They certainly haven’t rushed back to politics….

      As for the GKH and the fake MSM look no further than the usual ‘Bell’ Weather
      See how the most highly regarded and venerable satirical cartoonist’s work is ‘CENSORED’ by his own Editors!
      Two instances last week alone – first Corbyn’s head on a platter replaced by his arms! And second the Race report from No10, watermelon slice on black power fist removed , but Bozos bum face and hair allowed to remain.
      See both at Steve’s own site

      I love Steve’s work and have done for 40 years, of course he ain’t perfect and has the odd blind spot – I hope he will let the Democrat within have the day and give Indy a chance.

      Talking of cartoon and satire – what about that SNP ppb!!?? If they had that pre-planned and made weeks ago – it would show some weird PR/Advertising advice and production values, never mind the not so subliminal take-home message – the Great Leaderine must be seen not heard etc.
      It actually feels like it was cobbled together over the previous 47 hours with a single red headed actor given such me basic crap lines to say and try and emote with them.

      So either no money for a decent ppb, where NS is sold as swmbo, with hardly any budget spent, presumably the actor got just the minimum payment? Or panic stations and a Jerry built ppb where NS is seen, not heard because they had to bin the great one they had made earlier.

      Either way, it was not the best ppb ever put out, I couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to the words and was only kept transfixed by the ACTING of the long haired thespian, who seemed to be trying to keep her game face on.

      I easily managed to be transfixed for a couple of hours by Alex Salmond’s press conference, where he stayed as usual polite; and interview with James Kelly where he showed a bit of the menace of resolve and will power that is the obvious reason for the Holyrood Gate conspiracy with state and private media goons of Whitehall to stop him.

      I did say that the Putin Nazi Xi derangement syndrome will be attempted and lo’ it is underway.

      It’s about this stage of an election not quite going the way to fix the polls that some major incident happens … to shut down the message building momentum and in an attempt to reduce the turnout on voting day.

      • Wikikettle

        DunGroanin. Thanks for the link to belltoons. I think Steve’s contract with the Guardian was only yearly renewable. Surprised they let him stay this long. Can only dream of the stuff he could paint about his papers demise. Could he go to the Independent and have freedom from the editor?!?

        • DunGroanin

          He has tenure – they can’t fire him.
          They hope by constant censorship he would fuck off! He’s from East London.

          As for my prediction of the last para – didn’t have to wait long did we?

          Andy the ponce during the last GE as Corbyn was bounding ahead with the free broadband for all announcement. Now Daddy does his final doody for the Family.

          I wonder if any loony terrorist unionist can be found to cause an outrage in Scotland, in a couple of weeks, in case Alba support and turnout looks high.

  • Toni Young

    Alf Baird, my experience is that environment matters too. I was born in Somerset, the family moved to Edinburgh when I was 7, over 60 years ago. The West Country burr I had then has completely disappeared, as it seems to have disappeared from the local population in Somerset, as I noticed when I visited family a few years ago.
    I’m married to a Scotsman who takes a keen interest in his mother tongue, so that has an effect on my interest, but it was actually the Robert Robinson programme in the 60’s and 70’s, Call My Bluff which alerted me to a few Scots words, Fankle being the first. I can’t remember who the panellist was, he had a general English accent, but he spoke of his Scottish grandmother using the word.
    Since then I’ve found myself using some Scots expressions, when they are appropriate, such as when I shout at Unionist politicians in the media.

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