Those Scottish Elections, and What Happens Now 259

Well, there is no denying an overwhelming SNP victory, with an increased vote, increased seats, increased percentage and double the support of the next largest party. Together with the Greens there is a substantial pro-Independence majority in the Parliament, so that matter is settled. Personally I would welcome an SNP/Green coalition with a guaranteed pro-Independence majority of at least fourteen (depending on who is presiding officer). It would remove the Tory jibe that there is not a majority government. But I suspect the SNP will prefer to go it alone again.

The dominant question is Indyref2. It remains my fear that Nicola does not want to actually move for Independence, and will merely continue to make pretend moves in that direction. In the campaign she continually hedged around with not just after Covid, but after the effects of covid, and then the final resort piece of hedging that a referendum must be “legal”.

Let me spell out my fears. I do not claim I am right, because it is impossible for me to know either Sturgeon’s mind, or the future. But it is my best prognostication based on my own assessment of the public indications, and information from sources including several SNP MPs and MSPs.

I expect no serious steps towards Indyref2 to be taken before 2023, on the excuse of Covid, except possibly some more meaningless “enabling” legislation with no dates, to keep the troops believing.

In 2023 I expect Sturgeon to ask Johnson for a S30 in the full knowledge he will refuse, and I expect an answer to be stalled until 2024. I expect that then Sturgeon will be happy to see the matter go to the courts, at the behest of one side or the other. Sturgeon knows very well that the UK Supreme Court will state that the Westminster parliament is ultimately sovereign, because within the UK it is sovereign. That is why we need to leave this union.

It is very probable that Johnson will amend the Scotland Act specifically to preclude a referendum without Westminster permission. By then we will be at the next Scottish parliamentary elections, and Sturgeon will stand in 2025 or 6 on the basis that a referendum must be legal, we must ask Johnson for a S30, and for him to refuse would be a “democratic outrage”. Which game can go on forever, with no real intention of achieving Independence.

I realise that there are many very good, decent people within the SNP who believe that I am wrong, and that Sturgeon has a genuine commitment to Independence, and has some kind of secret plan which is much more radical than I have outlined.

Well, we shall see who is right.

The worrying thing is that I have been saying this since 2016 and would think five years of inaction have proven me right already. I have a horrible feeling that if we arrive in 2026 after five more years of inaction, Nicola’s followers will still believe her. I see a continuing role for Alba for those who are actually serious about Independence, despite its frankly disastrous electoral debut (the causes of which were largely not Alba’s fault, but that is for another day).

Nicola and the SNP have of course it firmly in their power to prove me horribly wrong. They can prove me a complete fool by using this mandate to take bold and genuine steps and achieving Independence. In which case, not only shall I acknowledge I was a complete fool, I shall be delighted to do so.

I think this is a good time to utilise again one of the few decent things from the Guardian, its daily Covid graphs.

I have broadly supported lockdowns, aside the odd specific illogicality, and strongly advocate vaccination. But the facts are unanswerable – despite some people’s addiction to fear, they have to face it is just about over. Despite politicians’ addiction to the heady combination of increased personal exposure and popularity, plus increased control over the population, it is just about over. Vaccines have licked it in the UK. The risk of death to a non-geriatric healthy person is now as close to zero as makes no difference.

Oxgangs library has been turned into a Covid Testing Centre. I sat on a wall this morning and observed for half an hour as nobody went in and nobody came out, and the young man on the door tried to find ways to relieve his boredom. The time will shortly be with us when the public appetite will fade for daily briefings that say six people feel slightly unwell in Elgin.

England and Wales have enjoyed seven consecutive weeks of negative excess deaths (I can never find the Scottish figures on this). That means this spring is very possibly the least dangerous period you have ever lived through, in terms of the chance of you dying.

As the vaccine programme goes ahead, it gets ever safer. At some stage, the public are going to notice. We have had attempts to boost the fear factor by successive claims that the South African or Indian or Brazilian strain had arrived in Britain and was massively more deadly, massively more transmissible, evaded the vaccine, killed more young people. All of these arrived in the UK and none of the claimed disasters happened.

Of course, there could one day really be that super deadly variant. Equally, there could be an entirely new pandemic disease. But we cannot live our lives locked and cowering against these eventualities. For now, we should come out – vaccinated – into the sunlight again. The emphasis should be on border control and firmly restricting international travel until the rest of the world catches up. It should also be on overseas aid to help the rest of the world catch up. Biden has shamed our Tory government by his support for voiding patents on Covid vaccines, but the Tories have always seen the pandemic as personal profit opportunity.

But meantime, the strongest temporary border controls. As long term readers know, I am very strongly opposed to mass air travel anyway, only made possible because of disgraceful international complicity in not taxing fossil fuel for aircraft. Nobody actually needs a £30 ticket to Ibiza.

There is another issue where I doubt that Sturgeon genuinely believes what she says, or intends to act speedily, and that is trans rights. Here she will be under enormous pressure to deliver GRA reform very quickly, and that from her closest allies.

This is going to be interesting. Trans rights have been a very useful wedge issue for Nicola and extremely effective against her most dangerous internal rival, Joanna Cherry. Broadly similar issues, like gay marriage and abortion, were intensely controversial until carried into law, and then the matter was effectively settled as a matter of public debate. I expect trans rights might be similar and that Nicola has no real interest in settling the matter because she does not want the controversy to die down.

Personally I am extremely frustrated at the extraordinary alignment between

Never-never Independence supporters and trans rights,


Independence Now supporters and trans exclusion

There seems no logical connection between the two, yet these strange alliances have become the most important dominant fact in the politics of Scottish Independence. My own opinion – which upset huge numbers of staunch Independence Now people on twitter – is that Alba’s strong identification with excluding trans women is one reason for its electoral failure.

Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist has become a pejorative term, but it seems to me a precise intellectual description of where an especially vocal section of Alba support was coming from, and voters found it rather weird and bitter.

I was considering founding a party which supports trans people, but at the same time wants Scotland to achieve Independence irrespective of any legal or political efforts at veto from London. But I fear there would only be me in it.

So the trans wedge issue has become so important to Nicola politically, I suspect she has no real interest in ending it. Besides, legislation is difficult. The current proposal is ridiculously over-simplified, as demonstrated by Gordon Dangerfield. I support self-ID and I extremely strongly uphold the principle that people should be who they want to be, and unlike Gordon I really don’t care about their genitalia and don’t see why anybody else should either. Mind your own business. But I can see that in certain rare and specific circumstances, like elite sport or people involved in criminal justice proceedings, there may be a need for some kind of arbitration of genuineness or good faith of a gender change; with good faith being the presumption that has to be overturned.

I might add that I particularly dislike the jibes at “women with beards” and the social media posts making fun of the physical appearance of trans people. There has been far too much cruelty flying around. I count Stuart Campbell and Chris Cairns as friends and allies who genuinely want Independence. But I cannot approve of this kind of cartoon, and I feel obliged to say so. How would it make you feel if you were a trans woman?

[Update I am told it is not Chris Cairns but is signed Stella. I had presumed that was part of the “joke”, but if it is not Chris I of course apologise to him].

It is of course also true that pro-trans activists are far too rude to people who disagree with them, with a small and defined group seriously nasty and out of control, including threatening violence. That group is closely connected to SNP leadership figures. This is all quite appalling. Frankly both sides of the debate need to find tolerance and empathy.

What is my prediction? I think the trans issue will be shelved, and Nicola will seek to placate Ms Blackman and her ilk by the abolition of jury trials in cases of sexual assault, as a first step, to be followed later by the abolition of jury trials in other crimes against women. Why all of that is an appalling idea I shall expand further one day, though I find it rather shocking that anybody would need that explained.

One thing I am sure of; we will see decisive action from Nicola on the abolition of juries long before we see any real movement on Independence. I would bet my life on that.


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259 thoughts on “Those Scottish Elections, and What Happens Now

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    • M.J.

      It says “judge Lady Dorrian said Murray knew there were court orders giving the women anonymity and he was ‘relishing’ the potential disclosure of their identities.”

      One ground for appeal may be that there is no evidence that Craig had such an enthusiasm. On the contrary, as I recall from what I’ve read here, he was expressly careful to withhold details that could lead to such identification. That would seem to point to any enthusiasm for being careful *not* to disclose them.

      • Twirlip

        I wonder what “objective test” the good lady judge applied to detect the presence of this alleged “relish” in Craig’s mind, as opposed to the truly objective fact of what Craig actually published, and did not publish, here.

        • Twirlip

          I wonder if it’s the same test that a magistrate applied to detect Julian Assange’s “narcissism”?

  • Tatyana

    James Doleman on Twitter

    “Defence say Mr Murray is due to give evidence in a Spanish Court on May 20 on a Julian Assange related case.
    Lady Dorrian says in that case they could begin the prison sentence on the 19th.”

    “The defence wanted to avoid Mr Murray facing sanctions for not testifying in Spain.
    The judge suggested one solution was to put him in prison here first, so he couldn’t be held responsible by the Spanish court for not showing up.”

    “In the end they just got him to hand over his passport so he had a reason why he couldn’t attend. Sorry for not being clearer.”

    What a touchingly caring judge, isn’t she? It’s so kind of her to make sure that Mr. Murray doesn’t get to the Assange’s case trial sanctioned.

  • mark golding

    The politically motivated retaliation against Craig is a universal warning of totalitarian tyranny by the British state.

    Consider this, Craig Murray exposed torture by the British state in collusion with the CIA. while Alastair Campbell who sexed-up a ‘dodgy dossier’ that helped lead to 1,000,000 plus deaths in Iraq gets to present Good Morning Britain?

    Please send an email to:+++ [email protected] +++ to register your disgust and challenge the British Establishment to review it’s morality, it’s probity and to realign due process forthwith or expect civil disobedience from British gate-keepers of justice, authority and jurisprudence.

    • nevermind

      This politically motivated prosecution by politically biased judges is persecution of a journalist and truth speaker.
      I hope that his appeal will be heard by a more responsible, less blinkered set of judges and a JURY.

  • Carnyx

    The 8 months sentence is outrageous and disgusting, clearly Sturgeon’s SNP cannot be expected to create a free and fair constitution for an independent Scotland. I’m shocked the SNP themselves have been the ones to shake my commitment to independence

    • mark golding

      Agreed joel – Craig Murray has exposed many times British spooks hookup to the Guardian newspaper.

      We remember in 2013 the UK government ordered the Guardian’s then-Editor Alan Rusbridger to destroy laptops containing the numerous internal NSA and GCHQ files released by Snowden, and GCHQ agents duly visited the newspaper’s offices to oversee the destruction.

      Later that year Alan Rusbridger appeared before the home affairs select committee to discuss the Snowden leaks. He told committee chair Keith Vaz, ‘he’d flatly ruled out publication of “a great deal” of the NSA/GCHQ files available to The Guardian. Some files related to Iraq and Afghanistan “we’re not even going to look at”, he said.

      Since the 2015 appointment of Katharine Viner as Editor the Guardian newspaper has served as a dependable conduit for intelligence agency propaganda. For instance in December 2018 Guardian foreign correspondent Luke Harding authored an ‘exclusive’ report which stated Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair turned convicted felon, had met with WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on three separate occasions.

      In 2019 Luke Harding claiming Russian diplomats allegedly held secret talks in London with associates of Assange, in an attempt to assist in the Wikileaks founder’s escape from the UK. Craig denounced the article as a “quite extraordinary set of deliberate lies”.Craig revealed he and close confidant of Julian Fidel Narvaez had engaged in discussions with Assange in 2017 regarding a possible departure from the UK capital which did NOT ever include Russia as a destination. Craig said, the report was ‘black propaganda’ intended to add a further layer to the fake news of Wikileaks’ non-existent relationship to Russia as part of the “Hillary didn’t really lose” narrative.

      Again after apparent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in 2018, Craig exposed amongst other important issues, Pablo Miller, Skirpal’s MI6 recruiter and Salisbury neighbour.

      Clearly I believe MI5 are behind the incarceration of Craig Murray as a whistle-blower revealing pivotal truths. The British intelligence community is the most legal[ly] protected and least accountable of any spy agencies in the western world. It is hedged around by a battery of laws and police powers that can be used to stifle dissent or criticism. It is a “carrot and stick” scenario: the soft aspect, of course, being cosy chats with selected journalists, well-timed career-enhancing scoops, as well as an increasingly unhealthy journalistic dependence on briefings coming out of the intelligence world and government.

    • Bayard

      You do realise, don’t you, that by linking to that poisonous rag, you are earning them money and sending them readers?

      • Akos Horvath

        If you link, use

        If you want readers to be able to click through and read the content for themselves, edit the URL to the Guardian article you’re about to share and simply add ‘dump’ in front of the domain name.……

        The rest of the URL can stay the same. Anyone who clicks on the link will then reach our page which will automatically forward them on to an archived copy of the Guardian article hosted by the non-profit Internet Archive project.

  • JM

    I completely agree with you on the strange connection between independence-now and anti-trans bigotry. I am a SNP member and was an active Yes campaginer in 2014. But the strong correlation between independence and transphobia has made me question how I would vote in a further referendum.

  • DunGroanin

    In an attempt to address the subject of this article, as the next one is the place for the court case:

    Six weeks ago I said we’d see if it was enough time for the genius super majority argument to get through the fog of media censorship.

    Obviously not.

    But, and this is evident, the message to get SNP1 DID! The turnout was generally greater than expected in time of Covid.

    50% message success in 6 weeks with MSM blackout is better than the most successful advertising agency would hope for.

    One foot is definitely in the fire.

    The stitch up SNP/Green coalition has been headed off at the pass. No excuses now. Especially if the Greens stand up to their claim of Indy first.

    Thank you to all who voted Indy first.
    Most of you also wasted your Indy second vote.

    LEARN. Stop being suckers.

    Alba should gather steam now from the local level. Salmond did his best and again for no reward. Future Scotland will salute his travails.

    • N_

      Party B says “Vote for Party A with your first vote, and then vote for us with your second”, and people vote for Party A with their first vote and then they DON’T vote for Party B with their second vote, and you call that a case of “50% message success” in conditions of “media censorship”?

      Are you mental?

      • DunGroanin

        Are you saying that there was no effect at all? How do you explain the turnout?

        Wait until Salmond is allowed back onto the tv.

  • N_

    2001 – Westminster – majority for union
    2003 – Holyrood – majority for union
    2005 – Westminster – majority for union
    2007 – Holyrood – majority for union
    2010 – Westminster – majority for union
    2011 – Holyrood – majority for union
    2014 – referendum – majority for union
    2015 – Westminster – majority for union
    2016 – Holyrood – majority for union (SNP minority government)
    2017 – Westminster – majority for union
    2019 – Westminster – majority for union
    2020 – SNP begs British government for an increase of £500m in borrowing rights, having “done a Liverpool” but confident that waving flags in a way that might have embarrassed Mussolini makes its criminal leadership unjailable and temporary direct rule for financial clean-up purposes politically impossible – so a case of “Keep On Thieving” it is
    2021 – Holyrood – majority for union (SNP minority government)

    So that’s settled then! “We was robbed!”

    Let’s not hold our breath for getting an actual serious plan for independence out of these criminals – y’know, one that doesn’t involve having the current British monarch as the monarch of Scotland, joining NATO, and having a hard border with England that nobody other than complete boneheaded chauvinist knuckledraggers who don’t even live near the border would ever want.

    Meanwhile, let’s not hold our breath for getting an actual serious plan for improving the Union out of the unionist parties.

    • N_

      Just to recap – there have been FIVE Scotland-wide votes in the SEVEN years SINCE the referendum, and every time there has been a majority for the Union.

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