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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  • Patsy Millar

    You’ve summed up the whole sorry mess accurately. I don’t know where you get your energy from, but thank goodness you do!

      • Patsy Millar

        Wish I liked the taste of whisky but it’s gin for me, especially Arran. Still, here’s to Lagavulin; it’s doing a great service to Scotland!

  • Alex Birnie

    So, your answer to the problems that you perceive to exist consists of throwing out the bath water AND the baby?

    I get tired of this constant barrage of negativity, from bloggers, who seem to have little to say about alternatives to the SNP. Most of them (like yourself) can go into forensic detail about what’s wrong with the SNP, its leaders, and the wider yes campaign, but never – ever – is an alternative articulated – at least not one that is not going to put independence back by at least a decade.

    We are most likely going to get (for the very FIRST time), a majority voting for Indy parties (I’ll be voting SNP/Alba in NE Scotland).

    IF that happens, and you and the rest of the “tearers down” are correct, in that Sturgeon DOES drag her heels, then we “ordinary punters” are going to have to accept that we’ve “been had”, and start down the long and laborious road of either reforming the SNP or replacing it.

    BUT NOT YET!!!

    We “ordinary punters” are going to ignore the blogging “experts” who are busily trying to pour poison into our ears. I DO hope that if Sturgeon proves you all wrong, you will have the basic decency to grovel before her on your hands and knees and apologise for the libels you have been casting about. Every yes voter SHOULD echo THAT particular sentiment. Every single one of us should hope to see you apologising, because it will mean that independence is a LOT closer than you would have us believe….

    Today, one of the ” good guys” temporarily gave up the fight. Paul Kavanagh of “Wee Ginger Dud” has announced that the progress he has been making in his recovery from stroke is being negatively affected by the torrents of bile that have been washing over him after he gave his opinion on continuing to vote SNP/SNP, rather than SNP/Alba. As a SNP/Alba voter, I am ONE HUNDRED PERCENT on Paul’s side against the vicious Alba-voting TROLLS, who have driven this man from the field. Shame on them!!

      • Ian

        Your jeremiad is ill aimed at people like Craig who have stood up for independence without fear or favour and have, like Alba, encouraged people to vote SNP1/Alba2. The roots of your bile don’t lie in those who have been disillusioned with Sturgeon, but the mindless fan club which insists, against the evidence, of her purity of purpose. Independence isn’t owned by the SNP who act like it is, and are extremely negative about those who espouse different routes to it, instead of joining in common cause with them. They have grown conservative, full of carpet baggers for careers and well-paid positions, their internal democracy has been hollowed out, but still they refuse to engage with critics, denounce everybody in their Stalinist way, and are very ambivalent about independence, having failed to do anything positive for it for the last five years.
        You should be thankful that people like Craig are willing to stand up and take the flak and bile for pointing out the elephant in the room while sticking to their principles over independence.

        • Alex Birnie

          Ian,

          Your opinion is yours to have, as is mine. I THINK I was pretty clear, that if Sturgeon drags her heels after getting a pro-Indy majority of the votes, then I will admit that Craig and company have been right all along, and that we’ve been duped by a bunch of careerists.

          I can read and absorb the same evidence that is available to Craig and company, and I have simply come to a different conclusion from them. I’m no SNP “sheep”. I’ll almost certainly be joining the Greens after independence, but I can look at the evidence and see innocent explanations (in pro-Indy terms), while Craig takes every bit of evidence and infers a sinister reason for it.

          Time will tell who is right, and who is wrong, although I suspect that not everything will be black or white. If Craig turns out to be right, it will be tragic for the Indy campaign, because tearing down the SNP and re-building it, or moving to a new Indy party is going to be a painful and LONG process.

          I’m a great believer in Occam’s Razor. The simplest explanation (the one involving fewest assumptions and fewest conspirators) is usually the correct one.

          I am grateful to Craig for his fearless fight for what he believes in. I largely agree with his politics, and am quite comfortable to associate myself with almost everything he writes about. I just happen to believe that he has come to the wrong conclusions about Sturgeon and the SNP leadership. That doesn’t make me a bad person, and it CERTAINLY doesn’t put me on the side of MI5 or the 77th Brigade. Craig is a big boy, and he will certainly survive any criticism that I level at him.

          If you are grateful for people who point out elephants, then don’t criticise someone who thinks there is an elephant in Craig’s room, and who sticks to THEIR principles over independence.

          The biggest difference I have with Craig is just how important it is that we carry a majority of Scots with us on our journey to independence. Craig thinks that leadership is more important than I do (he will correct me if I’m wrong), and this is the root of the disagreement. I am of the opinion that it’s all very well charging up the hill, but it will be pointless if we get to the top, and discover that we’ve left the bulk of Scots half way up, or at the bottom of the hill. I believe Sturgeon’s approach is to make sure that she’s not walking faster than the crowd, and it is this belief, which allows me to interpret what she’s doing in a more positive way. Once you think that Sturgeon is actively hindering independence, then you can only see evil in everything she does.

          As I say, we will all know very soon……

    • Bing Bong

      Apparently the real reason Sturgeon doesn’t want another indy ref is because she and Salmond signed a legal document declaring the 2014 indy ref was a one time only referendum. I read an article that claims that’s why she is angry at Salmond wanting a Super Majority.

    • craig Post author

      The problem is, Alex, this is a conversation I have been having for the last five years and Nicola Sturgeon has had numerous occasions to prove me wrong, but instead she keeps proving me right.

      Let me turn it round. By what date with no Indyref2 will you accept I was right?

      • Alex Birnie

        Craig,

        I’ve also been having this conversation for five years. If you start off with the belief that Sturgeon is hindering independence, then every “inaction” is interpreted as a “missed opportunity”. If, like me, you believe that Sturgeon is fully committed to independence, then each “inaction” can be interpreted as “we don’t have enough people who will vote “yes” yet, and we don’t want to scare them off”.

        I had a conversation with Alex Salmond at a constituency meeting in New Deer after the 2015 election, asking him when HE thought a second referendum would be held. He replied “I’m a gambler. Nicola is not. She is her own woman and will do it her way, but she knows exactly what she is doing”. That was a long time ago, but I don’t see anything which persuades me that she has changed, except to tighten up the discipline in the SNP, because she is as strict a disciplinarian as Alex Salmond ever was.

        Your question is deeply unfair, but I will TRY to answer it. If Doris grants a section 30 order, then a referendum will be held late this year, or early next year. If he doesn’t, then the legislation naming a date will have to be enacted, which will probably mean next year some time? If Doris challenges the legislation in court, then I don’t know enough about court procedures to determine a date for a referendum. There is (as you very well know) no arbitrary date that can be set for such a decision. As Harold MacMillan was reputed to have said in reply to a question about what determines the success or failure of a government “Events dear boy, events”…..

        If Sturgeon drags her feet, it will become apparent very quickly, particularly if Alex Salmond is lurking in Holyrood behind her.

        Let me turn the question back at you. If Sturgeon requests a section 30 immediately after the election, which is refused officially, and she immediately enacts the legislation to set a date, and Doris challenges it court, and she vigorously defends the legislation in court, (where she either succeeds or fails), and with success, goes on to hold the referendum, or, with failure, makes preparations to hold a plebiscite election, at what point during that Byzantine process will YOU admit that you were wrong?

        • Alex Birnie

          Another thought has occurred to me, which (kind of) points to a flaw in Craig’s litany of Sturgeon’s weaknesses and evil intent.

          I am a fervent admirer of Alex Salmond. Although Sturgeon has impressed me more and more with her competence, she will never be the towering political figure that Salmond is.

          Which begs the question …… IF Craig is accurate in his criticisms of Sturgeon, some of which put her on a par with Tony Blair, then what the hell was Alex Salmond THINKING, when he passed the leadership on to her? He was of such stature that he could have kiboshed her becoming FM if he had believed that she was a “Blair-in-the-making”, but he didn’t.

          This leads to only two possible conclusions….. either Sturgeon has undergone a complete transformation since she became FM, or Alex Salmond’s political judgement isn’t worth two beans.

          It won’t surprise you to find that I think that Salmond’s judgement is impeccable, and that Craig’s “litany of evil” is just nonsense.

          • Ian

            “we don’t have enough people who will vote “yes” yet, and we don’t want to scare them off”.

            This is exactly the issue. She and her circle use this as an excuse to do nothing and throw it into the long grass. Nothing about campaigning, igniting the voters with a vision and hope, preparing well in advance for a referendum and laying the ground for institutions to transition – so that a ref will be a foregone conclusion. Instead, bury your head in the sand, and treat popular opinion as like the weather, something you can’t control and you have to wait for the wind to blow in your favour.

            it is counsel of despair, weak and feeble, no self-belief or passionate belief in independence. This is especially true if you are in a position of (absolute) power and have convinced yourself that you embody the nation and can pass whatever legislation you like, in the benighted belief that it is progressive and ideologically sound. While, instead of demonstrating that a Scottish administration can pass improved and better legislation than Westminster, you favour an inept neoliberal economic policy, rampant cronyism and build a terrible administrative record in education, health, transport and non-existent land reform.

            It is a policy of stagnation, but one which reaps rich rewards for her and her circle, power and patronage and the compromising of independent instiutions. That is why there is no. belief Sturgeon is either competent, or has the ability or the real desire for independence. It has proven a vote winning strategy for her, without having to implement it. And Craig has demonstrated how she assumes there will be no difference in five years. It simply is a useful dream, but the numbers will never reach the certain bet she wants. Which is fine and dandy with her. She has more power in Holyrood than she is ever likely to have under independence, assuming that we will have a new, much improved constitution and a new parliament with much more powerful power of scrutiny and accountability. There is nothing ‘evil’ about it, but simply powerful personal ambition combined with a very cosy, richly rewarded and autocratic position with no opposition – and what there is, she snuffs out.

          • Alex Birnie

            Ian,

            That is a cogent, well-thought out argument, and you may very well turn out to be right, and I might be totally wrong.

            The election could be the tipping point for this particular argument. Assuming that a majority of voters vote for Indy parties, it is going to be very difficult for the SNP to disguise their intentions, if their intentions are self-interested and malign towards independence as you (and Craig) suggest, particularly if Alex Salmond is sitting behind them.

            Up to this point, my argument that she didn’t want to “scare the horses” is a matter of opinion. Your assertion that she is deliberately “missing opportunities” is also just your opinion. Neither of us has any real evidence as to her intentions. That is all going to change, if she is handed the first REAL mandate by the Scottish electorate. She will have no excuses for inaction, and if she does try to drag her heels, then all hell will break loose, probably egged on (rightly) by Salmond.

            What I find intriguing (not important, because only Indy is important) is how guys like Craig are going to react if she DOES swing into decisive action. I have a very high opinion of Craig’s honesty and integrity, and feel confident that he WILL admit to having misjudged her and the SNP leadership. I have zero confidence that the odious Mr Campbell is even CAPABLE of overcoming his mile-wide narcissistic streak and admitting that he was wrong.

            Some pretty awful accusations have been levelled at Sturgeon, and hyperbole seems to rule the day.

            I hope I’m right and you’re wrong. Do you hope I’m right?

          • craig Post author

            Alex,

            I can honestly say I will be genuinely delighted to be proved wrong. But I have been saying that for the last five years too…

          • Alex Birnie

            Craig,

            I thought as much. I have great admiration for your journalism and for your love of democracy, and your commitment to justice. I know you’ll understand, when I say that I will be devastated if I’M wrong, because, as a 70 year old man, it will probably mean me going to my grave in the UK.

          • Ian

            I would be amazed, as well as delighted if she proved me wrong. I doubt it, though. I do feel that, like all politicians after a seven year term at the top, her time is over. Eventually it catches up with all of them, entrenched positions and views, overweaning ambition and self-belief. I believe that the SNP badly needs a reset with a new, refreshed attitude and a fresh set of faces. And definitely not the Sturgeon crew who are embedded, stale and enormously entitled and very comfortable with their current circumstances. What is required is some vision, some oratory and a concrete set of proposals – a tactical and strategic approach which there has never been under Sturgeon, other than ‘wait, the time isn’t right’.

          • Bayard

            “This leads to only two possible conclusions….. either Sturgeon has undergone a complete transformation since she became FM, or Alex Salmond’s political judgement isn’t worth two beans.”

            I would say that the former is quite likely. The Westminster government has two good reasons for getting the SNP “on side”, one to remove any real opposition in the UK parliament and two to stop a break up of the Union. The best time to start that campaign in earnest is just after they have won the independence referendum.

        • Alex Birnie

          Ian,

          You won’t be astounded to hear that I disagree with your assessment of Sturgeon’s tactics. IMO, she has been playing all along to the only audience that matters – no voters. IMO, she SHOULD have been able to take us yessers for granted, focusing all her attention on the important folk.

          Sadly, she was wrong in expecting too much of yes voters (not all yes voters). A highly vocal minority have been (again IMO) been acting like spoiled kids, wailing from the back of the Indy bus …. “How much LONGER?” …… “Why aren’t we THERE yet?” …… “You’re driving too SLOW!!”, while Sturgeon has been trying to stop at every bus stop, taking on as many passengers as she can, so that when she gets to the terminus, she will have the bus overflowing with passengers, rather than arrive with a half empty bus… not the best analogy perhaps, but it is apt (IMO).

          As to the tiredness or otherwise of the SNP leadership, I don’t really care. If they get us a referendum, then they will be revered. If they look like they are past it, they can be replaced.
          I know for a certainty that I wouldn’t become a candidate if you offered me a million pounds a week. I CERTAINLY wouldn’t put myself at the mercy of some of the feral wolves that we’ve got in the yes movement. I don’t have the temperament either, because the first time somebody called me a traitor to the cause, I’d be looking to punch their lights out.

          • Ian

            Well if you go into politics you will be in the firing line, especially if you promise something you can’t or won’t deliver. So it probably isn’t for you. I was happy with Sturgeon until about a year ago, when I thought at first Craig was overreacting, but the evidence has become overwhelming for me. So I don’t think it is automatic that there will be dog’s abuse from the more impatient, more radical wing. It is a result of a long series of events which have given rise to a disaffection. As for changing her, what mechanism exists within the SNP for democratic change, or even honest discussion about policy and leadership? It appears very strongly that she and her circle have circumscribed and limited any membership say in such matters, as evidenced by the recent NEC elections and decisions. That is merely one other giant question mark about her increasing autocracy and assimilation of power to her own office. And that is the mark of someone whose reign has become detached from the people who put her there, unresponsive to change or challenge, unwilling to listen, and convinced of her own infallibility. Which is why I am saying things need to change in order to progress and get back on track for independence.

          • Alex Birnie

            Ian,

            Your interest in the internal politics of the SNP far exceeds mine. I’m a member of the SNP, but that’s mainly to show support, moral and financial. I’m not really invested emotionally in the SNP. Like my old banger of a car, i don’t give a shit what it looks like, as long as it starts, and gets me to my destination. What goes on under the bonnet is a matter for the car and the mechanic at the yearly service. I look upon the SNP with the same apathy. For me, it’s the vehicle that will hopefully get me and my loved ones away from the Tories.

            I don’t really care if Sturgeon is autocratic. I don’t really care if the party is undemocrstic. Nicola Sturgeon could ask everyone to salute her with a Sieg Heil! For all I care. As long as the numbers of yes voters keeps growing, and she acts decisively after the election, I don’t care about anything else.

            After independence? That’s a WHOLE different ball game! If I live to see it, i will be taking a keen interest in our progress towards social democracy, and politicians who have autocratic tendencies like Salmond and Sturgeon won’t last long in a Scotland full of cantankerous characters, whose natural reaction to being ordered about is “Oh? Dae ye bluddy THINK so?”

            In the meantime, whatever the hell she’s doing, and however the hell she’s doing it, it’s working, because the only thing that matters ….. the number of yes voters ….. is increasing. Nothing else matters…….IMO.

          • Johny Conspiranoid

            ian

            “It appears very strongly that she and her circle have circumscribed and limited any membership say in such matters, as evidenced by the recent NEC elections and decisions. That is merely one other giant question mark about her increasing autocracy and assimilation of power to her own office.”

            Such things require a conspiracy. Is MI5 involved?

          • Nally Anders

            Using the bus analogy.
            Perhaps the First Minister could get more passengers on board if she advertised the availability of an actual bus ‘Service’ and published a timetable to match.
            What we’ve got right now is a magical mystery tour.

          • Ian

            Alex, trouble is a lot of the stuff you don’t care about is the stuff preventing what you, and the majority, want. Closing your eyes and hoping it will be all ok is fine for dreamers, unfortunately the dream is in danger of becoming a nightmare.

          • Alex Birnie

            Ian,

            You SAY that the stuff I don’t care about is what is preventing Indy? There is zero evidence for that statement, and a growing mountain of polling evidence that, like me, no voters don’t care about it either.

            I would contend that the only people who ARE obsessing about GRA, Sturgeon’s autocracy, ……. all the policy stuff …… are yes voters who have bought into the Bath poison pen conspiracy theories, from a man who thinks that Sturgeon is the enemy of independence, and who has now gone completely OTT and is more or less telling folk not to vote SNP in the constituency.

            As far as I am concerned, the yes movement is a bell curve, ranging from the lunatic, spittle flecked hatred-mongers, who think the SNP have been bought by MI5 and are now the enemy, all the way through to the SNP fanatics, who believe “Nikla-walks-on-water”, and that Alex Salmond (Alex SALMOND for goodness sake!!!) has been bought by MI5 and is now the enemy of independence.

            I believe that the bell curve consists of tiny numbers at each end, with a HUGE bulge in the middle, consisting of folk who believe that the campaign is succeeding, and who can take a rational balanced view of both Salmond and Sturgeon. I also believe that the no-voting folk who are moving over to the yes side (as evidenced by the polls) are going to slot into the middle of the graph, amongst those of us, who haven’t lost sight of the goal – a Tory free country.

            I could go on to a “Sturgeonite” site and have the exact same argument with those folk, who will be JUST as certain as you are about Sturgeon and Salmond, except their views are one hundred and eighty degrees different from yours.

            We HAVE to declare a truce! We just HAVE to!! At least until after the election.

            In the immortal words of the great Alex Salmond …….

            “The public won’t vote for divided parties”…….

          • Ian

            Ah yes, when it comes down to it, it is always Wings that gets the blame, the scapegoat for all the misfortunes the SNP has visited upon itself. Desperate stuff. Bye.

          • Alex Birnie

            Ian,

            Please show me where I have said that Wings is to blame? I think that prior to the 2014 referendum, Wings can take credit for providing the rest of us with plenty of ammunition to destroy the unionists case, because he was brilliant at exposing the weaknesses in their arguments and showing us HOW they were lying to us. I know that I used excerpts from his articles when talking to my no-voting friends and relatives, not least from the “Wee Blue Book” which was a masterpiece.

            I am completely at a loss as to why Campbell has morphed into the bile-spewing bigot that he is today. Of COURSE he’s not totally responsible for the schism that has opened up in the Yes movement, but he has certainly egged on the crazy nutters who say that Sturgeon is the biggest obstacle to independence.

            He’s not to blame for that, but is it your contention that he has not affected the debate, turning it into the hate-fest that it has become? He is (IMO) one of the more prominent of the hate filled nutters on the extreme left hand side of the bell curve. If you think he’s a “knight in shining armour”, defending the “purity of the Indy movement”, then you’re part of the problem.

            At the other end of the bell curve, are the “Nikla will save us” nutters, who are prepared to trash Alex Salmond – Alex SALMOND fir Christ’s sake!! – in their fanatical devotion to the SNP and Sturgeon as the reincarnation of Joan of Arc.

            In my mind, there is only one blogger worth reading now ….. James Kelly. It used to be two, but the remarkable brilliance of Paul Kavanagh has temporarily been silenced, because his fight to recover from a stroke is more important than putting up with hateful trolling, which was causing him stress and hampering his recovery.

            I mourn what has happened to the online independence movement. I just fervently hope that the internet bubble that we all live in is just a tiny factor in ordinary folk’s experience, and that the polls are correct. I hope that the arguments of you & I, Craig, and all the rest, (including Stuart Campbell – especially Stuart Campbell) turn out to be just a small breeze, in the hurricane of the yes movement.

        • Lorna Campbell

          Alex, the 2014 referendum results told us a great deal about the voters and their priorities. That was never studied closely and inferences drawn. No independence unit was set up after 2014 to search out alternative routes. NO voters were placed centerstage and pandered to, for years, when their choice should have been forensically taken apart and examined and debunked. No rebuttal unit was set up post 2014. No effort, to my knowledge, has ever been expended on the UN Charter, or on international law, or on the Treaty. Calls to repeal the Acts of Union are pointless because they must be dealt with in domestic law, and domestic law is superseded by international law. The Treaty would not be affected by the repeal of the Acts – a fact well known to the lawyers in the HoL, who want to renegotiate it as domestic law.

          The SNPG sank into acceptance mode: devolution forever. Then came 2016 and Brexit, and all the promises about another referendum. Nothing was even attempted. Okay, you could say that there was not a majority for independence even then, but can we be sure? Nothing was done to give impetus to a new campaign to engage voters.

          The problem with every suggestion, including Peter A. Bell’s is that it requires Sturgeon and her coterie to act. Peter, in particular, has come up with umpteen different scenarios (routes), and now, he relies on a ratifying referendum after independence rather than the pre independence referendum he has championed for so many years. I have the greatest respect for Peter, but a pre independence referendum can be lost again. A pre independence referendum of any kind was always a trap after 2014. He seems to have accepted that now. It was always the excuse to do nothing – a dangly, carroty thing held in front of our noses.

          The advent of Alba has changed that. The SNPG knows it is in for a good kicking – which it will richly deserve – if it does not come up with the goods. I don’t believe for a minute that it will, if it is not threatened with a good kicking from another independence party. As for Mr Salmond’s judgement, yes, I think he was wrong about the FM, but she played a good game right up until recently, lulling people into a false sense of security. I would never claim that she does not believe in independence; it is just that she does not prioritise it in the way that so many independence supporters do. She has allowed herself to be distracted by identity politics to the detriment of national politics when both her party and she, herself, are duty-bound to protect Scotland and the Scots.

          This election may not be a plebiscitary election officially, but it will be unofficially – and she knows it. If she is still intransigent; if she still refuses to take the steps necessary to achieve independence; if she tries to fob us off and delay yet again, she will be dragged down in the style of Thatcher because, when you lose the confidence of those ministers you rely on (who are nervously eyeing the protests outside), you are finished. Her ministers will crack first.

          • Alex Birnie

            Lorna,

            Apart from a slight difference of opinion on how important those things you mention are, I almost agree with everything you say.

            However, if the SNP are in “devolution” mode, as you say, how do you explain the rise in the numbers of people intending to vote yes, if there is another referendum?

            Events, of course…… EVEL, Brexit, Boris, Covid, but I believe there is more to it than that. While it is imperative that your arguments are good, and that facts are on your side, I think that folk hugely underestimate public mood. Folk like and trust Sturgeon, and while I abhor identity politics, it is no big problem for me to hold my nose and keep pushing the cart up the hill. I really wouldn’t care if Sturgeon grew a Hitler moustache…… as long as it keeps converting no voters and takes me nearer to Doris NOT being my PM.

            Your points about fleshing out the vision are valid – up to a point, but we published a White Paper last time, and the Better Together mob rolled it into a tube and used it as a truncheon to beat us with, while producing nothing but lies and a policy for the future that was a complete vacuum. I would suggest, that while the Scottish people are a lot less easily led than English folk, the Brexiteers showed that having policy and making your case with solid information are not a necessity for winning referendums…… because they had neither…… they won the referendum with a few catchy phrases…. in no way am I suggesting that we emulate Boris and his boys, but we shouldn’t get obsessed with providing too much detail.

            IMO.

          • Ian

            It doesn’t seem to have occurred to you that your outpouring of verbiage, which amounts to ‘avert your eyes, have blind faith, ignore the cronyism and corruption, blame the bloggers’, is written on a blog whose owner is being persecuted for telling the truth which the current administration does not want you to hear or know. But you don’t care about that, just the mythical pot of the gold at the end of the rainbow Nicola keeps promising you.

          • Alex Birnie

            Ian,

            “It doesn’t seem to have occurred to you”???

            Leaving aside your opinion on what I write, you have absolutely no idea how I feel about the blog owner, or indeed, how closely I have been following the outrageous treatment he’s been getting from the Scottish legal establishment. After independence, that’s one area that will need URGENT reform, IMO.

            How dare you suggest that I don’t care about what happens to Craig! I disagree with one thing, out of the myriads of issues which Craig writes about, and with which I almost totally concur, and you suggest that you know what’s in my mind?

            You are trying to bully someone who disagrees with you, and you are NO better than those who ridicule Craig and are trying to silence him.

            A pox on you and all your houses!!

  • John O'Dowd

    Thank you Craig for an excellent summary of our current situation.

    I would like also to congratulate “Alex Birnie” for having the foresight to have such a well-prepared, very long, Jermiad arguing against your piece, written and posted in approximately three minutes.

    It took me 15 minutes (at least) to read and digest your article.

    Evidently I do not have Birnie’s powers of clairvoyance!

    • Greg Park

      I am also impressed by Ms Birnie’s forceful use of CAPITAL LETTERS. She’s angry, baby!

      • Alex Birnie

        Never cross an angry woman!! We 70 year old men can be QUITE BRISTLY as well. Sorry about the caps. I couldn’t resist….. 😂😂

    • Andrew Ingram

      I noticed that as well.
      As he didn’t address the post itself it looks like a “one size fits all” reply.

    • Alex Birnie

      John O’Dowd,

      I suppose I SHOULD take offence at your implication, but I’m not going to bother. I read and absorb very quickly, and I can articulate my ideas on my feet. I can recommend a course on speed-reading if you need, and I commiserate with you on your lack of ability to think clearly.

      What you just did there was a classic case of projection, my friend.

      Nice bit of trolling, though……

      • Giyane

        Alex Birnie

        An enthusiast for Scottish Independence electorate would tell the electorate at every opportunity that Scotland needs Independence in order to achieve this or that goal. That is what is involved for a political leader to carry the electorate with them.

        In 1978 Mrs Thatcher never campaigned on the right wing policies which she later un-packed to the great indignation of the country. So maybe Nicola Sturgeon is doing the same, carrying the electorate with the flag of independence, and hiding her actual policy intentions for Scotland up her sleeve.

        Caveat Emptor. If you want to buy a second hand car on the 2 inch screen of your mobile without firing up the engine, please feel free.
        Others who have checked the mileage and the MOT history, as Craig has studied Nicola Sturgeon might have discovered the rust holes, exhaust smoke, locked gearbox, and advisories.

        But it does seem rather strange to choose innocence over experience, when the consequences for Scottish Independence of being a neo-liberal neoconservative clone of England might mean having the same problems as now, without the English money tree.

        For myself, I never voted Labour except for Corbyn. Why would anyone vote for Unison with the Tory songsheet? In my 40s I had longed for my divorced parents to get together again, then on my divorce, they united to criticise me.
        What you will have with Sturgeon in power is twofold criticism of Scottish leftwing values, one from the Clinton clone and the other from the Churchill clone. Double agony.

        • Alex Birnie

          Giyane,

          I can’t recall an occasion when Sturgeon has given a speech or an interview when she hasn’t “told the electorate that Scotland needs independence”. There seems to be a lot of selective amnesia going on, in order to see what you want to see.

          You’ve misunderstood my car metaphor. After independence, I’ll be walking away from the car, and if it doesn’t get dismantled, but somehow manages to keep functioning (something that I think is extremely unlikely to happen), THEN I’ll start to pay attention to the state of the vehicle.

          Do you seriously believe that the SNP is going to survive independence? You think that a party containing Mhairi Black and Fergus Ewing is going to carry on, like a Swiss watch? Without the glue of seeking independence, the SNP is going to resemble the People’s Front of Judea,, the Judean People’s Front, and any other schismatic group. You really think that the people of Scotland are going to settle for being a neocon offshoot of the UK?

          You ARE aware that we haven’t voted for the Tories since 1955, right? Like you, I wondered if I’d given up too soon on social democracy emerging in the U.K., when Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader, but my decision to give up on Labour has proved to be the correct one. Social democracy has zero chance of coming to Scotland while we’re shackled to the UK establishment.

          Even if Sturgeon is a closet neocon (which I don’t accept for a second), she won’t succeed in Scotland. Too many people have become politicised in Scotland, and the folk in Scotland aren’t going to allow a neocon government to repeat what has happened in the UK. The problem is that some folk are taking their eye off the ball. We HAVE to concentrate ruthlessly on the goal of independence. If we start faffing about with trying to make fundamental structural changes, (even before a referendum), we could fall at the last hurdle.

          I am getting really excited at just how near we are to our goal. The polls are an absolute nightmare for the unionists. The SNP are up, Alba is up, the Greens are up, and the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems are all losing ground, and yet here we are, whinging about how Sturgeon is becoming more “autocratic”. I’ve had to suffer accusations of being a pessimist for well over a year now, because I refused to buy into the bullshit that was being spread by the IFS and AFI punters, but now that there is real reason for optimism, folk like Craig are peddling doom and gloom. He’s obviously not as bitter and twisted as the narcissist poisonous arsehole from Bath, but still……

  • Ian

    Excellent summary of where we are and the reasons thereof. What a great pity that such intelligent and informed debate about this topic and the politics of it is almost entirely absent from mainstream media. The whole thing is now being reduced to a tribalism of yah-boo nonsense as rival factions denounce each other with slogans and the fictions printed for their consumption. As is any reasoned and evidenced discussion of the Alex Salmond fiasco – one which has cost the taxpayer a small fortune and whose failed and dark agenda has seen no sackings or resignations – and instead a continuation of false allegations against a man found innocent of the charges.

    Sturgeon has become our own version of Imelda Marcos crossed with Madame Mao – an absolutist autocrat with an inner circle which sustains her, ruthless against her perceived enemies and with her only goal to retain power and exercise it for an agenda nobody is being asked to vote for. She is clearly more interested in such ill-conceived policies as the hate crime bill, no jury trials and the distortion of trans rights into a political weapon. A lot of it is due to the devolved system we have, and the favours and patronage that it bestows. The effect is no meaningful opposition, despite the plethora of issues around cronyism, financial mismanagement and malfeasance in public office. That is amplified by the toothless committee system and lack of any constraining powers or serious scrutiny.

    The tentacles of this nexus of patronage and corruption have spread outwards into institutions which might have held them to account, but have now been co-opted into her defence and evasion of accountability. It is a travesty of democracy which devolution was supposed to deliver and has resulted in a so-called independence party realising that it has more power and wealth under devolution than it might risk under actual independence. We can only hope that a party like Alba can challenge this established, absolutist rule and put us back on the path to a democratic devolved parliament and then independence. The stakes are high.

    • Giyane

      Ian

      I feel sick. However, we survive in spite of our politicians , who usually create social problems in order to get the credit for solving them.
      Nicola Sturgeon is like a nuclear power plant, high maintenance, high budget, dangerous and low productivity. Maybe her attraction is her high toxicity and inconsistency.

      • Alex Birnie

        This nonsense is definitely at the extreme left hand end of the bell curve I was talking about …… IMO.

  • George Dale

    Sturgeon, on a flying visit to her constituency, said, and it was broadcast, that the solution to Govanhill’s problems was rising house prices. No mention of any other factors.
    That really is Blairite Sh**e and not what I believe most Scots think.

  • Greg Park

    A long and compelling rap sheet.

    I would only add Sturgeon’s joining the British Establishment in the laughable “anti-semite” pile-on against Jeremy Corbyn during the last general election campaign .When Cobyyn was promising her a 2nd independence referendum!

    That suggested to me not only a deeply committed fellow traveller of the lying neo-con, neo-liberal status quo but somebody who was not especially enamoured of a 2nd independence referendum.

    • Stefan merz

      She is an active member of the uk privy council as is Ian Blackford and is a life membership that Reece mogg is chairman of atm.

      • Alex Birnie

        Can we please stop with this nonsense? If being a member of the Privy Council makes someone “suspect”, should I change my mind about voting for the Alex Salmond-led Alba party, since he is also a member of the Privy Council?

        • Giyane

          Alex Birnie

          The privy council informs its members of the constitutional legacy of British history, the generations of political experience and expedience. It doesn’t tell people what to think, it tells people what they must not admit to.

          Some agree with the advice and some disagree with it, but willy nilly they have to comply with it anyway. There’s a vast difference between for example disagreeing with the use of torture and not admitting to its use in public.

          Nicola Sturgeon appears to agree with it, because she enacts legislation that is inhumane, incarcerating people for thought crimes who are entirely innocent.
          The privy council’s only say in the matter is that the British State will not publicise its wrongdoing and embarrass the corporate body of UK plc.

          • Alex Birnie

            Giyane,

            Leaving aside the incoherence of that argument, are you suggesting that Alex Salmond was complicit, when he was actively advising the queen? Are you suggesting that he didn’t admit to something he should have admitted to?

            The privy council is an abomination, and is one of the many reasons why Scotland should become independent. The deal is that you don’t get to be in any of the establishment positions, like FM of the Scottish government, unless you are willing to become a Privy Counsellor. That’s just how it is ….. until we can escape this damned union.

            Sturgeon’s membership of the Privy Council is no more sinister than Alex Salmond’s membership was. It CERTAINLY is no indicator of the level of commitment to Scottish independence. If you think that Sturgeon’s membership means she shouldn’t be leading the SNP, then should I NOT vote for Alba for the exact same reason as it applies to Salmond!

  • FlakBlag

    This is, in my opinion, one of the best articles you’ve ever written Craig Murray. You sum up the current situation both plainly and deftly, without being drawn into the minefields of divisiveness that have been carefully laid by those who wish to muddy the waters and keep Scotland mired in the union. Well done!

    I’m still considering whether I can bring myself to vote SNP in the constituency vote, if I do it will be the last time unless that party can be wrestled from the clutches of the imperialists. I know I should “for the cause”, but my sense of integrity will suffer. We need a genuine pro-independence party that stands in constituencies. Yes, I know this will split the vote, but currently the alternatives are unionist or stealth-unionist. I’ve been saying for years that we need a Scottish Sinn Féin.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Definitely Alba on the regional list for me. It’ll be a struggle to put a cross next to the SNP in the constituency ballot and the candidate is new and (as far as I can determine) not a Sturgeon, Stepford politician.
    Perhaps I can hold my nose and cast a constituency vote for SNP?
    The ultimate test will be the immediate reaction when a S30 order is inevitably denied by the occupant of No. 10.
    If Sturgeon doesn’t immediately recall the MPs and adopt a Sinn Féin abstentionist position, she will be exposed as a phoney.
    Best of luck getting “pension Pete” aff the green benches, he’ll cling on like a fecking barnacle.

    • James McMillan

      Brilliant! Pete Wishfart is a joke of a politician. His days of a seat on those benches are numbered, and he knows it. He is blocking SNP members on Twitter for highlighting his cosy lifestyle in Westminster. Blackford must bring his team home immediately, or on 7th May 2021. Nicola Sturgeon is a devolutionist, and is petrified of Alex being back in Holyrood. Once Alba have settled in (4 weeks), they can force Nicola to focus on independence. If she doesn’t, we march to get rid of her. I will vote SNP 1 for the last time, and will vote Alba on the list. I’m fed up having the carrot dangled on a referendum, and i will cancel my SNP membership today, after becoming a member of The Alba Party.

  • James Cook

    Go Craig!

    This article should definitely help your legal persecution!
    Yes, you have cleared up all the political inconsistencies with the SNP!

    Finally, your statement below will make both the SNP (the party in total power/control of everything in the north) and the greater Empire-at-large so much more sympathetic at your upcoming sentencing.

    “For me and a great many other Scottish nationalists, our opponent is the British state.”

    I understand the nobility of speaking “truth to power”, but by doing so you must be prepared to become a martyr – after reading this article it is clear you will NOT be silenced…………………..until you are ……

      • Tom Welsh

        Or as Thomas Jefferson rather more robustly said,

        “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure”.

        Curiously enough, the words “and tyrants” are often left out.

        Some oversight, presumably.

  • Goose

    To be fair, if they didn’t ask for a meeting they’d be accused of ‘ignoring Russian meddling’ or worse, welcoming it, this, regardless of whether there is any interference or not. Contesting these claims is hard when up against the whole MSM and political establishment claiming there is ‘top secret’ intel which can’t be revealed, as per the vile cross-party consensus about WMD programmes in Iraq pre-invasion.

    The evidential basis for claims doesn’t matter these days, as we saw when just 0.03% of Labour’s membership was accused of antisemitism, yet antisemitism was presented as being ‘endemic’ within that party – a pernicious lie, repeated without challenge oft. in the UK MSM. The intel agencies appear to have become proactive after Snowden, infiltrating and undermining journalistic independence: BBC, major newspaper editors & columnists(integrity Initiative) presenting their own reality. And the political class is either too slack or stupid, in that they’re perfectly ok with this arrangement in which limited information is all people get.

    • Goose

      US investigative journalists Aaron Maté and Max Blumenthal have produced the most comprehensive stuff I’ve read for the Grayzone ,revealing the sheer hypocrisy of the UK in accusing Russia on interference. Even a photo of an alleged MI6 officer in Moscow, meeting with Nalvalny’s representative Vladimir Ashurkov, discussing funding efforts to the tune of millions, to undermine the Russian govt. Imagine the press cacophony, had the reverse happened in London. The BBC’s role as an appendage of the security state and FCO, is also concerning, when they boast of their independent reporting. You’d think UK politticians would be all over this, as would happen in any representative democracy, … but no, not a word.

      https://thegrayzone.com/2021/02/20/reuters-bbc-uk-foreign-office-russian-media/

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      “To be fair, if they didn’t ask for a meeting they’d be accused of ‘ignoring Russian meddling’ or worse”

      And so by having this meeting they swear to obey liars.

  • Stevie Boy

    It is one of life’s mysteries: doesn’t matter what the SNP hierarchy do the people still keep voting for them. As in England, the voters have been completely f**d over by the tories and yet the voters still vote for them !! Doh, wake up people.

    It also occurred to me that Stewart MacDonald and Alyn Smith are analogous to Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. The Russians were checking in with their asset, Skripal, for the GRU, whilst MacDonald and Smith were checking in with MI5 for their asset Sturgeon. Kranky needs to avoid doors, you never know what UK shills may have smeared on your knobs ?

  • Pogopat

    I just kept agreeing over and over to the points raised in this post.
    The real scary thing for me if we were independent and the SNP were in charge is that they would act like the Democrats and Labour with regards to geopolitical gain and have us involved directly in regime changes.
    I could never ever vote for Clinton even against Trump so to have Stewart McDonald in charge of real defence troops makes me a bit ill.
    Your writings on the Salmond trial brought me back to Scottish politics with a bang. Yourself and Consortium news are my two most trusted publications.

  • Prasad

    I hear a very gentle sound
    With your ear down to the ground
    We want the world and we want it…
    We want the world and we want it…
    [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.]

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    So Stewart MacDonald’s research assistant is a Zionist propagandist and all SNP, MSPs have been instructed not to mention Palestine.
    Worth noting that Michelle Thomson attended the 2018, annual conference of Mojahedin-e Khalq (Mossad’s happy little assassins cult). Thomson has been selected to represent the SNP in the (safe) Falkirk East constituency. Who’s doing the vetting here?

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      Vivian O’Blivion
      How does a once radical party come to this? Is it a concerted effort at infiltration by hidden parties?

  • Colin Alexander

    Excellent summary.
    It’s just a shame you took and many others in the indy movement took so long to come round to these conclusions. I became disillusioned with the SNP when it was clear they were going to accept whatever crumbs the Smith Commission would throw Scotland. It was obvious then Sturgeon’s SNP had settled for whatever the UK State would dish out.

    In other words, Sturgeon’s SNP had given up the struggle to restore Scotland’s national sovereignty. They had agreed to settle for semi-autonomous devolution or Scotland being like a colony of the Empire. They had fully accepted the Union and so were now trying to make the best of colonial Scotland.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Mr. Murray,

    “ 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.”

    The answer, be it implicitly or explicitly, seems to have been explained within your article:-

    A. The British state wants to maintain the status quo and have Scotland remain as a part of the United Kingdom.

    B. Scottish nationalists are asserting themselves with some effectiveness which may translate into Scottish independence within the immediate future.

    C. Russia is projected in the British state as ‘the enemy’ – so -the ‘loyalist MPs in Scotland are doing the positioning and bidding based on a realisation of that face, so seek MI5 assistance so to do, all the more effectively to thwart the independence movement’s effectiveness – thus duplicity reigns supremely as follows:-

    i) I hold political power based on a professed pro-independence platform; yet

    ii) I engage anti-independence forces to undermine the very independence which I profess I want for Scotland.

    You have quite effectively exposed Nicola Sturgeon’s duplicity; so I need not say much further on her, save and except:-

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

    and then she chooses the British position and side over the Scottish independence unapologetic path – to “…use our energies differently.”
    Have I got it?
    This ends my ‘genteel discussion point(s)’.

  • fonso

    The interview response put the tin hat on all her actions / inactions of recent years. She and hubby are sitting pretty and will ruthlessly keep it that way. She knows her army of supporters will accept indefinite deferral of action on independence and will parrot all her rationalizations.

    That’s because she has correctly deduced that these people do not really desire independence from Britain. All they really want is for “Nicola” the feisty Girl Boss to remain the face Scotland presents to the world.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    One of the reasons I barely spend any time reading or watching the MSM any more is that there is more real serious meaty debate, argument and rhetoric in one article of independent bloggers like Mr Murray than you find in a decade of sanitised MSM groupthink.

    I disagree quite a lot with a variety of things Mr Murray says, but it is far more agreeable to read passionately written arguments coming from a deep sense of personal integrity, vision and conviction than it is to have to digest writings that often verge on the poison-pen from those who are paid large amounts to write to order pretty much whatever the daily subject is for receiving thirty pieces of silver….

    These are the sorts of arguments that all UK politicians of any integrity should have to engage with and it is much to Mr Murray’s credit that he is prepared to air them with such lucidity, precision and resilience.

  • Jeremy Fox

    I’m not Scottish, but I firmly believe that the Scots have a right to determine their own future, and if that involves separation from the UK, so be it. Independence in an interdependent world is another matter. Scottish independence, like that of most countries, is a relative concept – and that includes the future relationship with that troublesome neighbour to the south. Worth bearing in mind, too, that the odious government in Westminster – in power via a combination of lies, media propaganda, corporate finance, corruption and a deeply flawed, undemocratic political system – is not in the least representative of the English people.
    On the SNP-Alba dichotomy, it would be presumptuous of me to comment. But what seems to me to be missing from your remarks on the SNP is that parties which remain in power for long periods almost inevitably end up confirming John Acton’s acerbic opinion about power. I’ll quote it in full because it says more than is commonly acknowledged: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” (King Lear comes to the same conclusion, of course (“….a dog’s obeyed in office….Robes and furred gowns hide all.” ). I leave it to you to judge how far the key political figures in current Scottish politics exemplify Acton’s & Shakespeare’s insights.

    Two more brief points.

    1. Assuming that a referendum takes place within a couple of years of the new parliament – or that within the same period some other way is found to make a sustainable declaration of independence – it is vanishingly unlikely that the process of separation would be complete before the following election. A long period of negotiation (preferably peaceful) would ensue with a vast number of issues to be settled. It is naïve to pretend 0therwise. Your criticisms of Sturgeon in this respect strikes me as surprisingly superficial (and believe me I have at least as much experience as you do of international negotiations).
    2. I don’t know how many countries have declared independence in your lifetime; but they do not include – India, Pakistan, Israel, the whole of North and South America except Guyana, French Guinea ad Surinam, Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Finland, Ghana, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Lebanon, Mongolia….Portugal (1640!!)…etc. etc. etc. Empires come and go. The British empire – in which Scots were among the most enthusiastic avatars – is at an end; and what remains is a mere remnant. Whether it stays as is or fragments further hardly matters in the course of world history.

    There are no simple solutions to the challenges of life. What seems to me to be lacking in your blog is any recognition of this, any sense that separation will not be without difficulty or heartache for many, that immigration and customs controls at the border between Scotland and England will not be a bed of roses, that there will be pain as well as joy. Maybe you need to ignore the human element & the inevitable disruption that will accompany independence in order to convince yourself and others that it is the only way to proceed. Perhaps that kind of deception is the sole means of achieving consent in a democracy. But it remains a deception nonetheless.

    • Grhm

      Well said, sir!
      I have no illusions about the nature of the UK.
      It is a rogue state with a shameful imperialist past.
      But the process of dividing it in two would inevitably generate a long-lasting miasma of unpleasantness.
      And what would emerge from that miasma when it eventually cleared would merely be a pair of smaller rogue states, with that shameful imperialist past in common.
      Someone as perceptive and thoughtful as Craig must surely know this.
      So for him to advocate for independence with such passion is indeed a deceit.
      But I don’t believe it is a concious deceit.
      Craig is unquestionably a man of tremendous integrity.
      I don’t believe he would knowingly deceive others.
      So the deception must be internal.
      He has allowed his heart to overrule his head.
      He has deceived himself.

    • DunGroanin

      Scotland leaving the U.K. would not make it and her citizens any less ‘British’, as BrexShit hasn’t made Britain and the British, all of us, any less European.

      Without avaricious if industrious Scots it is unlikely that the British Empire would have come about.
      After all they were fairly heavily involved in the East India Company up-to the very highest levels 350 years ago!

      I think a simple a thing as self determination of Scotland by Scots for the benefit of Scots shouldn’t be much of a problem for peoples of such industry once they park their avarice.

      It is a matter of separation of the ancient imperialist chaff from the modern and humanist wheat that is the real power of Scotland that could be a source of great good in the coming centuries as they stone to some degree by helping to put the world to rights after centuries of doing the opposite.

      These are the enemy within that CM more than alludes to I think.

    • Jimmeh

      ” is not in the least representative of the English people.”

      I’m afraid I disagree with you. I wish it were not so, but English voters outside of large metropolitan areas vote Tory. Even the Labour leader is now wrapping himself in the Union Jack, aping Boris; it’s sickening.

      I believe Corbyn could have defeated the accusations of antisemitism, had he come out fighting. But he’s not really a fighting man. I admire Corbyn, but I think he was the wrong man for the job (Steer Karma is even more wrong).

      I’m not Scottish, but I support independence. If Scotland becomes independent, the Tory headlock on English voters will tighten. For most of the 20th C, Labour has been in opposition. Independence will make this worse. Independence will hurt the English, but I still support it.

  • Jm

    The SNP under Sturgeon have been easily brought within the Atlanticist/NeoCon project.

    Everything else follows from there.

    • Antiwar7

      I agree with you, Jm, but I think it would be more accurate to use the word “bought” instead of “brought”.

  • Tone

    Craig, as I understand it you live in England, so what power does Dorrian & co. hold over you?

  • John Watson

    Brilliant stuff, Craig. Required reading for a lot of the faithful, though I suspect many are still going to be blind to what’s staring them in the face.

  • Bob (original)

    Who benefits from Sturgeon’s derailment of Independence?
    Is she driven solely by self-preservation of a cushy, well paid job: has she been promised another role, post-FM?
    A senior role with The UN or a global NGO?
    London is just sitting back having a laugh: divide and conquer is the oldest trick in the Imperialist play book!

    • Antiwar7

      She promises to prevent Scottish independence and to fully back the US empire’s murder sprees abroad. In exchange, she gets full power and backing from the establishment. At least, that’s apparent to me.

  • Kit Klarenberg

    I wrote about this here – https://on.rt.com/b530.

    I strongly suspect this is a prelude to the creation of a new information warfare endeavour or dedicated intelligence agency in Scotland, if not the entire UK. In April 2019, SNP MP Stephen Gethins asked a (similarly) very obviously planted question of then-FCO minister Alan Duncan, about what steps were being taken by Whitehall “to tackle the distribution of disinformation in Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic States.”

    The answer was Open Information Partnership. Which documents leaked weeks earlier – and the recent Anonymous FCDO trove related to Russia – have revealed to be a “disinformation factory” targeted at Moscow, run by individuals with military and intelligence backgrounds.

    It’s abundantly clear Whitehall has seen Scottish independence, or something like it, as inevitable for some time. As their attempts to disrupt the SNP have failed, much better to infiltrate it so as to ensure an ‘independent’ Scotland is virtually indistinguishable from its current form, and remains thoroughly integrated with London’s military and intelligence apparatus. The Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper indicate new military factories and installations will be built in all the devolved states, giving London a perpetual foot in the door of these nations whatever path they take politically.

    • Goose

      Label anyone or group you disagree with as subversive, justifying measures no free society would accept as justified. No links to Russia whatsoever? Doesn’t matter, you can claim you ‘suspect’ linkages and the MSM will amplify this nonsense see Sky News’ output.

      The real traitors are those making such baseless claims against their fellow citizens , who’ve been campaigning on thes issues for decades, before Russia became enemy no.1 for thwarting US/UK Syrian regime change upsetting the Zionists who run the show.

      • Goose

        ‘Zionist in outlook; the sense they see everything through the prism of what’s best for Israel. These people aren’t necessarily Jewish either, nor is the observation anti-Semitic. Just as the FCO was once regarded as ‘Arabist in outlook’.

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      Kit.
      It is possible that MacDonald is following instructions to occupy the slot left vacant by Stephen Gethins.
      Gethins became the first SNP, MP to be allowed a position on the HoC, Foreign Affairs Select Committee in July 2015. Gethins retained his position as SNP, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson and member of the FASC following the 2017, snap election, despite having his constituency majority reduced to TWO. Gethins was an implacable Russia baiter in the HoC and spoke on little else.
      Prior to gaining a salary from UK politics, first as an advisor to Alex Salmond and then as an MP, Gethins was employed by “NGO Links”. NGO Links is based out of the University of Arizona and is funded by the US Government’s National Science Foundation (the National Endowment for Democracy may be losing its usefulness as a front). NGO Links is exclusively interested in matters on Russia’s Southern border with particular emphasis on Georgia.
      On losing his seat in the December 2019 snap election, Gethins quickly gained employ at the School of International Relations, University of St. Andrews. The SoIR, was BBC Scotland’s go-to source for “Russia bad” commentary before they discovered the swivel eyed, Prof. Anthony Glees at the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham.
      Gethins is also a member of the John Smith Trust. The JST runs “intense … Fellowship Programmes … for emerging leaders from … the former Soviet Union.”
      The most worrying aspect of the Gethins saga for me is his initial employment by Alex Salmond despite the obvious State Department / CIA / NED connection (NGO Links).

      • Johny Conspiranoid

        “Prior to gaining a salary from UK politics, first as an advisor to Alex Salmond and then as an MP, Gethins was employed by “NGO Links”. NGO Links is based out of the University of Arizona and is funded by the US Government’s National Science Foundation (the National Endowment for Democracy may be losing its usefulness as a front)”

        Here’s the thing then; how does someone fitting the description of a CIA plant on their CV get hired by Alex Salmond as an advisor?

  • dpg

    NS has gamed the system by managing to fabricate a persona that gathers reasonable peoples’ support. It is a monumental confidence trick. What a parcel of rogues in a nationalist party, sheep in wolves clothing. Waffle and fraud.

  • Republicofscotland

    Excellent article Craig and spot on, McDonald and Smith are just two Whitehall puppets their twitter feeds are full of anti-Russian, -China and -Iran rhetoric, they’re doing Westminster’s dirty work for them. I and many Scots have no problems whatsoever with the above countries and seem them not as enemies but as trading partners just like any other nation. I hope quite a few of these treacherous SNP MP’s are ousted come the next GE, if we’ve not ditched this horrible union by then.

    As for Sturgeon she’s a ruthless nasty piece of work who as the Wings described betrayed Scots on independence for her own desires, Alex Salmond wants us to give the SNP our constituency votes and ALBA our list votes for a supermajority I will do as he asks, I look forward to seeing Salmond push Sturgeon on when and how she’ll hold an indyref, but I expect Sturgeon to dig her heels in on that, hopefully she and her hubby and the vile clique will be gone by 2026.

    • Goose

      Would be joyous moment indeed watching a large troop of Alba MSPs entering Holyrood with a scowling Sturgeon sat arms folded.

      • Goose

        None of Nicola’s Jo Swinson seat loss celebration watching Alex take his place. lol

        • Republicofscotland

          Goose.

          Yeah, I utterly loathe Sturgeon and her clique they’ve sold Scotland out for their own interests, they actively blocked Martin Keatings’ attempts to find out if we really needed an S30; I am of the mind we don’t. They set up a former first minster, they’ve led and withheld evidence they misled parliament and without a doubt broke the ministerial code the Crown office has been used to threaten or imprison anyone who speaks out about the dodgy dealings, even the owner of this blog has suffered greatly for telling and bravely continuing to tell the truth of it all.

          It’s got all the making of a third world banana republic that we’d normally condemn as disgraceful, but we’re actually in Scotland Sturgeon has brought great shame and disgrace on Scotland and by not resigning immediately she will continue to do so

          • Goose

            I think Salmond’s much more of a ‘natural leader’ than Sturgeon will ever be. He’s a true executive – a decisive decision maker, whereas Sturgeon is more or less just a competent manager – probably why she’s so comfortable with her current status, which is more akin to that of a British colonial governor / administrator through devolution,… as it was put in that interview Craig took part in yesterday on Youtube.

            Alex Salmond is correct in saying the constituency vote still has to go to the SNP though, even if it means wearing a nose peg while voting.

          • Republicofscotland

            For me Goose, Salmond has form – he’s the only person whose actually tried to dissolve this union; the rest are imposters. Sturgeon really gave us a hard kick in the stomach with her treachery; with Salmond now back in the fold we’re at least getting back to our feet.

          • Goose

            Yes. It’s hard to know who believes in what. And especially since politicians find lying to their membership and voters so easy.

            It’s a similar story with the PLP, and why Corbyn, despite his limitations, was attractive. If Labour party members wanted a party of the European left , they’d probably have to clear out 75% of the PLP. It’s that bad: embedded careerists, plants and those aligned with the establishment /security establishment, probably outnumber those genuinely seeking to change the system in the PLP.

            After all he’s been through, you certainly say with confidence that Alex Salmond is genuine.

          • Bayard

            Goose, I think the CLP and the PLP are like the lead in your pencil and the lead on your roof – the only similarity is the name.

          • Goose

            CLP ?

            I was referring to the SNP MSPs and likening them to PLP MPs – both parties have lots of careerists and even those who initially had good intentions can grow fond of the trappings of power.

            As Craig said yesterday, the Sturgeons are pulling in £300k per year currently. A referendum loss, like Salmond before her in 2014, almost certainly means resignation. And Sturgeon isn’t the sort who’d hang around at Holyrood having lost a referendum.

          • Goose

            Sturgeon and Murrell I should say.

            Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon uses her maiden name obviously.

      • Alec Lomax

        More likely that Alba Party (the RISE of this election) will return to well merited obscurity after May. I mean, 6% in the opinion polls – wow !

        • Bayard

          Are you sure you read that right? A quick glance at the polls gives Alba 6 seats, not 6%.

        • Republicofscotland

          Alec.

          ALBA’s just over a week old, and already it has more members than the Lib/Dem branch office in Scotland, not bad, give it a month and well, you get the picture.

          • Goose

            They were arguing for debate inclusion to get that message across. Voters aren’t stupid , so surely the wasted second SNP vote argument will cut through before May 6?

            If I were running ALBA’s campaign, I’d probably take out full page ads / billboards, using some easily grasped illustration to highlight how a second SNP voite is a diluted vote.

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      Private Eye ran an article a few months back claiming without much support that the SNP was pro Iran.
      This seems odd as ex-SNP MP Michelle Thomson attended the 2018 annual conference of Mojahedin-e Khalq (Mossad’s happy little assassins cult). Thomson has been selected to represent the SNP in the (safe) Falkirk East constituency.
      Perhaps Iran has become yet another proxy front in the ongoing SNP civil war?

      • Republicofscotland

        I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if the SNP has capitulated to Israeli interests, there’s quite a few SNP MSPs standing down in May yet not one of them has the backbone to speak up or whistle blow as to what’s going on inside the murky world of the now disgraced party.

        They certainly took us for mugs for years, well most of us.

          • Republicofscotland

            I think its great that Salmond had the balls to visit Iran instead of the usual subservient BS we see from Western leaders as they kowtow to Israel and pledge their loyalties by kissing the Western Wall.

        • Goose

          They’re not bad people per se, just path of least resistance stuff .

          To oppose powerful people and vested interests takes courage and an understanding that you’ll be defending those positions from now on. For most politicians, the calculation is simple : why jeopardise my career by fighting for a cause, or against something, when I’ll probably have little impact on anyway?

          The SNP’s bravest policy imho is being anti-Trident. It’s unsual given their positions on everything else.

          I think if the SNP + (hopefully) Alba get a majority, then independence will happen, because once Furlough ends and things return to something like normal , people will realise what a dire future for exporters – and the UK – Johnson’s decision to leave the single market has brought upon Scortland. The independence cause will have many, many new converts.

          • Jimmeh

            Independence will not result in Scotland reverting to EU membership. The entire UK is now out of the EU, including Scotland.

            Scotland will therefore have to apply for membership of the EU, like any other country; and they will have to meet the economic tests. For those tests to mean anything, Scotland will have to have had an independent economy for long enough to measure.

            And as far as I’m aware, new EU members are subject to a veto; if Boris decided to veto it, no EU membership for Scotland. Also, the European Parliament has shown its colours on independence movements, c.f. Catalonia.

            In other words: I don’t think Brexit is a very strong argument in favour of independence.

  • Tatyana

    From my point of view, being anti-Russian helps to gain sovereignty.
    This has worked in many post-Soviet countries. This makes it possible to enlist the support of the United States (while support for Israel is only an add-on, an inevitable consequence of aligning the politics with the US policy).

    Perhaps Miss Sturgeon simply chose the most painless and profitable path to gaining “independence”?
    If the process goes this way, the only question is, will such fake formal independence have any noticeable advantages so that the majority of the population pretends not to notice the puppeteer?
    E.g. for proud Georgians it was enough to have a record of independence in papers. This satisfied their ambitions fully.
    For the Ukrainians, who are more practical and down-to-earth, the formal independence is not enough, they constantly have questions about who now owns resources and distributes profits.

    The Kosovars are content with an ethnicity-based advantage.
    Some in the Middle East are happy to have one based on religion.
    What is the focus of your people’s aspirations? The USA has lollipops with different flavors. Which one is popular today in your country?

    • Republicofscotland

      Sturgeon is now a unionist gate keeper, Scotland will never willingly be allowed to leave this union we’ll need to take our independence, why only today in a local newspaper, we have a former Naval commander say that Scotland wouldn’t be allowed back into Nato ( I want out of it altogether) if we became independent and removed nuclear weapons from our country, which most folk want to see happen.

      This I know is rubbish, Scotland sits at the base of an arc, with Iceland at the top, that the USA sees as a vulnerable gateway to Russia, this is why the USA is 100% behind Westminster on trying to stop Scottish independence for good. anyway as I’ve already said, if Scots want independence they’ll need to take it themselves, or they’ll remain crushed upon the yoke of unionism for all eternity.

      • Kempe

        I expect the Russian military would love to have bases in Scotland and that probably bothers NATO, Westminster and Washington.

        An independent non-aligned Scotland could do very well out of playing one side off against the other but it’s a dangerous game which needs clever and astute politicians so forget it.

        • Tatyana

          I think that with the modest number of foreign bases that the Russian military now have, they would be glad to have any partner who behaves unlike Ukraine.
          In a fictional fantasy, it would be nice to balance the current advantage of the US, for global peace. At least it would be some sort of guarantee that the US leadership will not start a nuclear apocalypse of the entire planet under some kind of “highly likely” far-fetched pretext or simply as a manifestation of dementia.
          In the real world, the one who is the strongest, rules.

        • Republicofscotland

          Scotland isn’t Djibouti, we don’t want foreign bases planted on it, nor do we want foreign nuclear weapons on our soil, that includes English/American ones.

          I’d hope that an indy Scotland would be wise enough to not take sides, and trade with everyone, after all the Great Satan’s (USA) enemies, aren’t Scotland’s enemies, and the same applies to England.

          • Tatyana

            I hope it’s true, RoS, I hope so.
            I just see the Ukrainians, who hoped to be independent, and I see this hope ended with Joe Biden putting his feet on the table and pointing his finger, ordering Ukrainian president to fire Ukrainian Prosecutor General in 24 hours.
            Independence, my ass. Sorry.

          • Republicofscotland

            I hope so to Tatyana, unfortunately Scotland is a small country with a small population compared to Russia’s.

            I’ve always admired Russian resilience in the face of adversity, and you guys have the best national anthem in the world in my opinion.

        • Glasshopper

          Kempe

          An “Independent” Scotland would be fast-tracked into the EU – or back to the UK – by the US. They would not countenance an independent Scotland cosying up to China/Russia in that region.
          The foreign policy would be aligned with the US/UK. If Mr Murray believes otherwise, he is deluded.

    • Goose

      More a case of jumping on the bash ‘Russia/China’ bandwagon than any mass SNP outbreak of Russophobia imho.

      These days, largely because Corbyn questioned the evidence over Salisbury, questioning the people who brought us ‘WMD dossiers’ at MI6 has become almost like political heresy in the UK.

      The UK security services welcome debate, like a vampire welcomes sunshine.

      • Goose

        They throw the ‘national security’ blanket over everything, overclassification to simply close down debate.

        Ministers regularly issue the default reply to questions of : We don’t discuss matters relating to national security in this place.

        Basically discussion among OUR representatives, who WE elect to represent us, simply isn’t permitted… on national security grounds.

      • Tatyana

        Goose, it seems to me that the security services of the UK are trained by the United States, in approximately the same way as the moderate rebels of the Middle East receive the training of the US military advisers. So the imperatives inherent in them are not surprising.
        Here we know some of the Stanford graduates of the “new leaders of the former USSR” faculty. Like Saakashvili, who was already on the wanted list for crimes in his home country of Georgia, was admitted to the post of governor in the Ukraine. There he failed and fled, but the next Ukrainian president again took him to a high position 🙂 funny, eh?
        I am awaiting the graduation of Navalny’s daughter, just am curious what specialty she will choose. In my imagination, Navalny’s curators promised her a favorable position in one of the former republics.
        Is Ms Sturgeon a Stanford graduate, by chance?

        • Goose

          Glenn Greenwald has written extensively about these ‘god like’ agencies. The CIA and MI6 + Five Eyes are undoubtedly the most capable collective security apparatus in the world. Their websites talk about defending ‘shared[western] values’ but we know that’s too often code for capitalism – sometimes extreme inequality. I.e, they’re highly political – even mildly leftist administrations with otherwise good human rights records who resist, face being destablilised or removed. While ME despots who toe the line thrive.

          • Bayard

            “defending ‘shared[western] values’ but we know that’s too often code for capitalism”

            It’s neither code nor capitalism. We like to think “western values” are liberty fraternity and equality, but they are not. Western values are the values that produce the society we live in today, greed and selfishness.

        • Goose

          Quote :
          Here we know some of the Stanford graduates of the “new leaders of the former USSR” faculty.

          They’ve got your futures all mapped out for you, haven’t they. Call it US benevolence.

          We have something similar that emerged from exchange schemes between UK – US universities, a steady production line of people tipped to be future UK leaders returned. They’re all of a similar mindset, as if programmed or indoctrinated. And typically, If they lose office they usually get lucrative positions as if part of some sort of consortium or club.

          A rigged FPTP democracy with plants. Marvellous.

          • Goose

            They’re all pushing the same outdated model that hasn’t changed since the 1970s and 1980s.

            Overconsumption is ruining the planet and these people are still pushing the same market economy solutions.

            Time to review the mission.

  • Ewen A. Morrison

    Thanks. Craig, for your concise and valid summary of Scotland’s current political situation, with the reference to past and present First Ministers. A good piece and well concluded with: “That is the difference between the SNP and Alba. Do you really want Independence, or is it just a genteel discussion point?” ~ Thankfully, Scotland’s population’s gradually awakening to how important the 2021 Scottish Parliament election is: the most important, EVER!

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