AS we head for the end of the year, we are re-running our ten most-read blogs of 2020, in reverse order. Today’s article, in eighth place, was first published on May 9, 2020.
‘LET’S face it,’ said the Deputy Editor of the Mail on Sunday, ‘nobody cares what happens in Scotland.’
This dismissal, languid and final, was handed down from on high some time around 2002-3. I was trying to interest that person in an article about the fiasco surrounding the construction of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, which was then approaching the zenith of its jaw-dropping ludicrousness.
More than £300million had been spent on a project which was initially budgeted between £10million and £40million, making the Holyrood parliament the public building that was exceeding its budget by the greatest ratio of any in Europe, including the new Bundestag in Berlin. (It would eventually cost £414million.) The whole story was a debacle on an even greater scale than the Millennium Dome and brought discredit on much of the self-aggrandising political class in Scotland and also on the Blair government in Westminster that had cravenly gone along with funding this shambles.
By any reckoning, it should have counted as a major story for a British newspaper; but the Deputy Editor of the Mail on Sunday couldn’t care less. In rejecting the proposal, he gave voice to an attitude which has been at the heart of London’s dealings with Scotland for the last 30 years. Throughout that period, the decided preference in Whitehall was not to have to take any notice of those pesky Scots in their remote and benighted province. By covering their eyes to what was happening and blindly hosing in cash and indulgences in the hope that the wretched place might settle down one day, the Westminster establishment conducted itself like the negligent parent of a wayward teenager who progresses from nicking a few quid out of Mum’s purse to buy a bag of weed to flogging the family car to finance a boatload of smack. Through this process, the three major political parties in the UK have been practically snuffed out in Scotland while the Scottish National Party has brought the United Kingdom close to the edge of ruin and might yet tip it over the cliff.
London’s indifference and incompetence is one of the central strands in the long history which leads from a fringe cult of nationalist nutters and Anglophobes – that weird mishmash of fascists and communists which constituted the Scottish nationalist movement in the 1930s – and ends up with the most authoritarian government in Europe running what amounts to a one-party state dominated by identitarian fanatics. That institutionalised bungling can be seen most clearly in Labour’s pricelessly farcical mismanagement of Scottish devolution.
The guidebook for that story is The Question of Scotland written by Tam Dalyell in 2016.
As MP for West Lothian for more than 40 years, coiner of ‘the West Lothian question’ and tireless Labour Party schemer, Dalyell, who died in 2017, had a front-row view as the Labour Party destroyed itself in Scotland and shovelled its votes, by the skipful, into the laps of the SNP. Some of the scenes he recorded deserve to be put on the stage, such as the crucial meeting on June 22, 1974, of the Scottish Executive of the Labour Party which decided the party’s approach to devolution. On that day, Scotland were playing an important football match so more than half the men were missing from the meeting. A woman member of the committee arrived late, having been occupied with her family’s shopping, and cast her decisive vote without having heard the arguments. Thus are the fates of nations determined.
In Dalyell’s account, Scottish Labour, led by Donald Dewar, believed a Scottish Parliament would guarantee that Labour’s hold on power would remain intact for ever. As was infamously promised by George Robertson, later Secretary General of NATO, the creation of a devolved assembly would ‘kill nationalism stone dead’. Instead, these party apparatchiks who fancied themselves the silkiest of political operators and deadliest of fixers breathed hellfire into the nationalist monster that would rise up and consume them all.
Beginning in the 1980s, the SNP became a haven for that wandering tribe of Trots, Commies and anarcho-syndicalists who couldn’t find a berth in any other organised party. In the last ten years, however, as the Labour Party has evacuated itself of members, every Left-leaning humanities graduate in Scotland has edged under the umbrella of the SNP, making it the home of all the batso right-on sentiments in the Marcusian manual of fomenting revolution, from transgenderism to Extinction Rebellion, from feminism to polyamory.
Successive Conservative cock-ups emanating from the Westminster bubble added their own indispensable measures to this calamitous progress. Without its mismanagement of the Poll Tax, there is no obvious single reason why the Conservative Party should have slumped from the 22 seats it held in Scotland in 1979 to the zero it won in 1997.
As the SNP moved progressively into power in Holyrood during the 2000s, it exploited poor housing, schooling, health care and transport throughout Scotland – notably in Dundee, Glasgow, North Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire – to give voters the idea that they suffered those hardships because they were victims of the bullies in Westminster and would be better off in an independent Scotland. In fact, the SNP administrations were themselves directly responsible for those painful shortcomings; but governments in Westminster, both under Gordon Brown and David Cameron, failed entirely to make the culprits pay politically for their own inadequacies.
Instead, Cameron gave the SNP a Christmas present beyond their dreams when he not only consented to an independence referendum in 2014 for which there was no need but allowed Alex Salmond to compose the question on the ballot paper. ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ was a gentle query to which it would have seemed curmudgeonly and stick-in-the mud to reply in the negative even if you would rather have sold your daughters into slavery than see Alex Salmond take office as First Minister.
Having shrunk the pro-Union majority from three-quarters of the electorate to 55 per cent and squeaked the independence referendum by the skin of his teeth, Cameron promptly rescued the SNP from the jaws of its defeat and brought it roaring back to life. At 7am on September 19, 2014, two hours after the result of the referendum was declared, Cameron skipped out of the front door of 10 Downing Street to promise that there would now be ‘English votes for English laws’. That half-baked and undeliverable fatuity inflamed the SNP anew. Without it, they would never have won their crushing victory in the 2015 General Election, with 56 out of the 59 HoC seats in Scotland.
In September 2014, the SNP’s membership was 25,500. It is now 125,000, making it the second-biggest political party in the UK behind Labour.
Nicola Sturgeon commands an unbreakable monopoly of power in Holyrood and is running an administration that combines incompetence and mindlessly uncritical adherence to woke principles to a degree not seen since Castro’s Cuba in 1962 or Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. Nowhere in the world today – not even in Justin Trudeau’s snowflake Canada or Jacinda Ardern’s SJW New Zealand – is the dictatorship of a progressive Left-liberal minority more absolutely in control than in Scotland.
How many other governments have made it illegal for parents to discipline their own children according to their own judgments, or have proposed that a state-appointed official should take precedence over parents in judging the best interests of children? How many other governments pour public money into campaign groups which openly promote LGBT propaganda to primary school children? Where else on earth do parents send their children to schools in which teachers are required to give instruction in the pleasures of anal sex, with lubricious details which many adults might blench to repeat to each other in private?
Every one of these abominations is actually happening right now in Scotland – though, obviously, we fully understand that nobody in the seat of UK government and power has noticed or will care.
Neither will they give a damn that, as the great Scottish composer Sir James MacMillan has regularly complained, the SNP now operates a shamelessly Stalinist control of arts funding, which requires beneficiaries to toe the nationalist line or risk having the faucet of subsidy abruptly turned off.
Under the pressure of dealing with the coronavirus crisis, the SNP government has temporarily suspended the requirements of its Climate Change Bill. This committed Scotland to becoming a carbon net zero society by 2045 and included the target of reducing emissions by 75 per cent before 2030 – the most far-fetched ambition of any country in the world. The worldwide Covid-19 emergency has not, however, inhibited the government from proposing mandatory classes in climate change dogma for matriculating students, new Members of the Scottish Parliament and business leaders. Nor has it made them hesitate in bringing forward new hate crime legislation that will make it illegal to say anything that hurts the feelings of people in a number of protected groups, including women (by which they mean feminists).
Both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon explicitly promised that the 2014 referendum would be a ‘once in a generation question’, but ever since they lost that vote, the SNP has been manoeuvring to demand a second referendum. Almost four in ten Scottish voters wanted to leave the EU but the majority in favour of remaining was such that Sturgeon repeatedly claims that they, alone, are ‘the Scottish people’. As such, she claims, they should have the right to vote anew on their relations with the rest of the UK and then be free to rejoin the EU as an independent nation.
It is a measure of London’s yawning indifference to Scotland that Ms Sturgeon and the SNP in Westminster are never challenged – by the national media or in the House of Commons – over the transparent holes in logic in these proposals. Boris Johnson could tear them to pieces with a flick of his finger but he evidently can’t be bothered. Thus Sturgeon, who is customarily taken in England to be a competent political manager in a nice little country where everything is rosy, is never asked to explain how an independent Scotland could possibly belong to the EU without signing up to the euro and without creating a hard border with England. If ‘the Scottish people’ were made aware of those conditions which Brussels would obviously demand, not even the most ardent Anglophobe in Govan would vote for them.
Similarly, in 2014, Salmond and Sturgeon promised that an independent Scotland would fund itself on the proceeds of North Sea oil, which was then selling for more than $120 a barrel. Nobody is asking how this magic trick will be performed when the price of oil is barely above $30 a barrel.
Presumably nobody cares.
The first-past-the-post system for constituencies means that the only way to defeat the SNP in Holyrood elections is for the mainstream, pro-Union parties to rebrand, form an electoral coalition and present a united front. However, they all view each other as spawn of the devil. Gordon Brown recently tried to launch a new party to achieve that union called Our Future Scotland; Brown himself is irredeemably tainted in Scotland after making ‘vows’ in 2014 that devolved powers would be ‘locked in’ after the independence referendum, only to see the SNP turn round and demand another vote. Most Scots wouldn’t shake hands with him without wiping their hands afterwards.
However, the electoral system also includes a second ‘List’ vote, conducted under proportional representation, which allows for minority parties to achieve representation and might let the new Scottish Family Party into Holyrood with a few members. This is the only hope for the majority who share socially conservative attitudes. Scots who want to end the tyranny of the minority and turn back the tide of cultural Marxism that has rolled progressively over Scotland for the last 50 years have no other prospect of hearing their voices raised in parliament.
The task in front of the SFP, however, may be measured by the fact that its leader, Richard Lucas, faces the prospect of being struck off as a teacher for saying that, in his opinion, same-sex parenting isn’t ideal because children provably fare best with a Mum and a Dad. His remarks were also recorded as a ‘hate incident’ by Police Scotland (and that’s before the SNP zealots have even passed their new hate speech legislation).
If the UK had responsible news media and representative assemblies which reflect the concerns of the majority of sane and decent people, a police-state action of that order would cause a national uproar.
Seeing as it’s only happening in Scotland, however, why should anybody care?