Monday, 30 November 2020

Is Nicola Sturgeon good for the SNP?

In times gone by, Queen of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon could have expected standing ovations and lots of opportunities for selfies and self-promotion at the SNP's annual conference. Not this year. 2020 continued its mean girls reputation by serving up to the First Minister a platter of hostile media interviews, a critical front-page article by an SNP MP in The Times and her name trending on twitter for all the wrong reasons. Andrew Marr, in an interview which is unlikely to be forgotten even by a woman who seems to have made forgetfulness a habit recently, told her that "there is a gap between how you present yourself, which you do very well, and what is actually going on in Scotland". One of the most important manifestations of this gap is the way in which Sturgeon has managed to make everyone think that she's done a good job of leading the SNP. So let's look at that.

Nicola Sturgeon inherited a party with a majority in Holyrood, which had been achieved by her predecessor Alex Salmond in 2011 after he successfully ran a minority administration from 2007-2011. Sturgeon lost that majority in 2016 and now presides over another minority government which is not doing nearly as well as the first one. Granted, the number of SNP MPs at Westminster has increased since she took over, however the stunning 2015 result was mainly due to a backlash against the 2014 referendum result and would have happened regardless of who was leader of the party. The SNP lost a lot of MPs in 2017 and has still not got back to the 2015 high water mark in spite of an improved performance in 2019. A similar thing has happened with party membership which increased dramatically in 2014-5 but has recently fallen back again.

Under the leadership of Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrell the SNP introduced rules banning criticism of the leadership or any party member or policy. This gave them an iron grip on the party which could only last for so long and is now spectacularly breaking down over the issue of transgender rights. Joanna Cherry has publicly criticised Sturgeon's control as being unhealthy for the party while simultaneously asking that the rule banning criticism be used to protect her from the torrent of abuse she has been receiving from party members. Nicola's response to this today has been rather lukewarm. Calton is not surprised - you only get la Sturgeon's support if you agree with her anti-feminist policies.

Finally, on the real acid test of an SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon has failed spectacularly because, although she's been promising another independence referendum since the Brexit vote of 2016, she has failed to deliver one and shows no sign of doing so any time soon, regardless of what (vague) promises she has given this weekend. She is also failing when it comes to governing Scotland well (which Salmond did from 2007-2011) and building support for independence. It's not enough to have a referendum - the SNP members want to win it and that is in no way guaranteed at the moment. The settled 60% in favour of independence which Nicola very sensibly wanted to see before calling indyref2 has never materialised. Support has been 55% at most. 

Nicola Sturgeon is very good at presenting herself. She's managed to fool at least some people into thinking that she's handled the Covid crisis well, although the facts say otherwise. However she is not good at managing her party or governing the country or persuading No voters to change to Yes. Self-promotion is all she's good at. Nicola is no Boudicca - but will the rank and file in the SNP realise that before it's too late? Hopefully not.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Cherchez La Femme

The more the sorry Salmond affair drags on, the more Calton becomes convinced that the former First Minister was right - there was a conspiracy against him instigated by his successor. You don't have to look far in this whodunnit to find the femme fatale. Nicola Sturgeon had both the means (his admittedly poor behaviour) and the motive (his declared intention to return to Scottish politics) to stick the knife into Alex Salmond and #metoo gave her the ideal opportunity. She has rubbished any suggestion of conspiracy, saying that she has nothing to hide and would cooperate fully with the current inquiry however court action has been raised to prevent publication of part of a conversation between Sturgeon and a senior civil servant about Salmond. The Scottish Government has also failed to meet a deadline to provide its legal advice to the inquiry and is treating a parliamentary vote on the same with contempt.

What really stinks about this whole thing is the way in which senior women in the SNP and the Scottish Government seem to have been happy to put up with Salmond's behaviour when it suited them, in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum for example, but then cynically used the #metoo movement as a vehicle to prevent Salmond making a come-back. That is not the action of committed feminists. Women suffer daily from the actions of sleazy guys in positions of power and are entitled to have their complaints treated with respect and investigated properly, not used in some internecine party war, which, in Calton's opinion, seems to have happened in this case.

Alex Salmond won a court case against the Scottish Government over their handling of the complaints against him and he was aquitted of all criminal wrongdoing at his trial. He is now out for revenge against his successor. Nicola Sturgeon has said that perhaps he is angry with her because she refused to collude with him in covering up his behaviour. Calton wonders if perhaps Alex had good reason to expect collusion from Nicola based on her previous attitude to his actions and was disappointed to find that her attitude had changed. Or perhaps his anger stems from being put through months of hell and a court case. Hopefully we will find out when the man himself appears in front of the Holyrood committee. Calton doesn't hold out much hope of the committee getting anything out of the First Minister, except a plea for our sympathy as a wronged woman.

Thursday, 5 November 2020

A Rainbow of Rosettes

Calton can remember the early years of the Scottish Parliament when the ballot paper for the second or list vote was as long as his arm. It was called the Rainbow Parliament due to the many party colours - including the Senior Citizen's Unity Party and the Socialist Party in addition to the current five parties. In 2007 we also had the Scottish Christian Party, the Smoking in Pubs Party, the Christian People's Alliance and Solidarity putting up list candidates. Happy days! Unfortunately that was the year that saw all the smaller parties wiped out and the first SNP government elected. It's been all downhill since then.

Until now. Now we have the iron discipline of the SNP breaking down, spawning new independence parties such as Action for Independence, Independence for Scotland and Scotland's Independence Referendum Party. We also, finally, have a credible pushback against the SNP led by George Galloway and the Alliance for Unity party. The Smoking in Pubs Party has expired in the face of the smoking ban and the SCUP seems to have retired however the Scottish Socialists are alive and kicking - back against Labour it seems, especially since the recent suspension of one J Corbyn.

The Scottish Christian Party still pops up from time to time at by-elections - most recently to split the religious vote with newcomer the Scottish Family Party in Ian Blackford's constituency in the 2019 general election. The latter doesn't have a position on independence so that might appeal to the few people in the country still sitting on the fence when it comes to Scotland in or out of the UK. Alternatively, if Richard Leonard gives in to pressure and changes his opposition to a second independence referendum, they could always vote Scottish Labour.

Whatever your political views, more choice on the second ballot paper has to be a good thing, unless you want a one-party state run by mini-dictator Nicola Sturgeon and her husband. Calton will be voting for Alliance for Unity to stop that eventuality.

Saturday, 31 October 2020

On Tactical Voting

Calton is not generally in favour of tactical voting however he is preparing to make an exception for the Holyrood election next year. He has been helped to this decision by a couple of things.

Firstly, it is becoming increasingly clear that the SNP must be defeated at all costs. If they are not, Scotland will become a police state where only views acceptable to the SNP are allowed and we will also have the continued, divisive agitation for another independence referendum while education, the NHS and the economy are ignored.

Secondly, it is highly likely that the current SNP selection process will result in a bunch of woke candidates made in Nicola Sturgeon's image, in spite of the #dontvotewoke campaign being waged by one faction of the party. This makes it easier for Calton to vote for a woke unionist candidate, if they are the one best placed to defeat the SNP in his constituency. Normally he wouldn't touch woke with a bargepole however needs must.

Lastly, the idea of an anti-nationalist coalition is one whose time has come. The silent majority is silent no longer. George Galloway has stirred things up good and proper and Alliance for Unity will be getting Calton's list vote. The traditional unionist parties are so far showing no sign of entering into any election pacts, preferring to split the vote and let the SNP in as usual, however their voters are starting to think differently. If Alex Salmond or the care home scandal don't bring Sturgeon down, her hubris in expecting another term in office may well do the trick. If Labour, the Tories and the Libdems suffer some collateral damage in the process they have only themselves to blame.

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Is the SNP Good for Families?

Nicola Sturgeon is currently claiming that she wants everyone to have a family Christmas but is the SNP good for families in general?

Not if you want to be a stay-at-home Mum. The SNP's policies are all geared around getting women back to work as soon as possible with increased nursery provision. The trouble is, the times don't always suit working Mums and the provision is patchy as it relies heavily on the private sector (and this was before Covid made life even more difficult for nurseries).

Not if you don't want your child to be exposed to pornographic sex education and transgender ideology. The SNP looks with scorn on parents who express concern about these issues, to the extent of calling them bigots for not getting on the woke bandwagon.

Not if you want to raise your children free from state interference. The SNP have abandoned their Named Person legislation due to data sharing concerns however they still believe that the state knows best and parents are not the most important people in a child's life.

Not if you want to choose how you discipline your children - the SNP have now outlawed even the lightest smack and will shortly be criminalising parents, in spite of their promises not to. They are also encouraging children to report their parents. This is state interference in family life on a grand scale and it won't stop with smacking - it will eventually extend to children reporting their parents if they get put on the naughty step, or sent to bed early, or are denied that extra sweetie. Children's rights trump parent's rights in SNP land. That doesn't make for happy families.

Not if you want to have a three-generational Christmas dinner round an actual dinner table - the SNP are warning us to get ready for a "digital Christmas". Calton can't think of anything sadder or more horrible. He also can't think of anything more likely to spark mass civil disobedience!

Not if you want to see an elderly relative in a care home. Having killed off a lot of grandparents by transferring Covid positive people out of hospital into care homes, the SNP are now paranoid and the restrictions around care home visits, not to mention the conditions within care homes, with residents effectively in solitary confinement, are now inhumane for residents and their families.

Not if you want to see your student son or daughter for Christmas. Having bowed to pressure from universities and let students return in September, even although they could have studied from home, the SNP are now faced with the problem of how to let them go home safely after Covid has rampaged through campuses. A problem which could have been foreseen and avoided.

No, the SNP are not good for families.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Is the SNP Good for Women?

 Calton was prompted to write this post after seeing that one hopeful SNP candidate was not approved by the party because of her views on transgender issues and another was asked who would look after her children if she was elected. Both were women. Now, one would think that, with a female leader who claims to be a feminist, the SNP would be a positive environment for women, supportive of their rights and encouraging of their aims. Not so. In her race to be seen as the most woke leader in the western world, Nicola Sturgeon has abandoned her sex. Let's have a look at the evidence.

She claims that her plans to make it easy for men to self-identify as women do not clash with her feminism, however many feminists would disagree. They think, and Calton agrees, that the radical trans ideaology which Sturgeon is pursuing not only threatens women's safe spaces but threatens the very definition of a woman and all the hard-won rights which go with it. The Scottish Government's Gender Reform Act (GRA) may be on the back burner for now but, make no mistake, it will be back with a vengeance if the SNP get a majority in Holyrood next year. The fact that the First Minister has twice invited best friend and minister responsible for the GRA Shirley-Anne Somerville onto her daily briefing in the last fortnight confirms this. It also demonstrates that if you support the GRA, you get the support of the leader of the SNP in your battle to be reselected. If you don't support the GRA, forget it. (Somerville is being targeted by the #dontvotewoke campaign as she tries to hang on to Dunfermline and West Fife.)

Joanna Cherry is another woman who has questioned the party's policy on transgender issues. She wanted to stand for Edinburgh Central next year but the SNP NEC changed the rules, effectively preventing her from doing so. Much has been made of the Salmond/Sturgeon divisions within the SNP but the real faultline is the woke/non-woke one, which has spawned the #dontvotewoke hashtag on twitter, referring to the current selection contests for SNP candidates. It is well known that Stuart Campbell is no fan of Nicola's however his comments on the candidate selection process are still worth reading. Further evidence that the SNP leader is not good for women is the emergence of the SNP Women's Pledge, which would not be needed if Sturgeon truly supported women. They are supporting non-woke candidates.

Calton could say more on issues such as the child-care question posed to a female candidate, how Alex Salmond's sleazy, but not illegal, behaviour was overlooked by senior women in the SNP in order not to damage the cause of independence and how the SNP have shown a complete lack of trust in women's ability to bring up their own children without government intervention (the named persons and smacking legislation) but this post is already long enough. Perhaps another day ...

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Policy-making on the High Heel

 If Calton had to pick one thing which demonstrates that Nicola Sturgeon is making it up as she goes along, it would be Thursday's announcement that masks should be worn in work canteens as of Friday but masks in corridors don't need to be worn until Monday. This is not just policy-making on the high heel, it's stupidity on stilts. If masks were required in canteens two days ago, except when eating, why the delay in requiring masks in corridors, which are usually more enclosed than a canteen? It's no surprise that a large part of the population now has no clue what they are supposed to be doing to avoid the spread of Covid. The clear messaging which the First Minister prided herself on has descended into a fog of stupid rules in spite of her continued daily appearances on our TV screens, thanks to the craven BBC.

Scotland has been locked down harder and for longer than England thanks to Sturgeon's fear and it has resulted in no real difference in infections north and south of the border, and yet she continues with her MacBoris approach - simply putting a kilt on what the Prime Minister does. He is not getting it right and neither is she. Lockdowns only work when they are in operation. When they are lifted, the virus continues its merry way. If the NHS is in danger of being overwhelmed a temporary lockdown will help. Otherwise it's just ruining the economy, putting people out of work and causing excess deaths through cancer etc for sweet nothing. We are not preventing Covid deaths with the current strategy - we are simply delaying them and causing other deaths in the meantime.

We need to stop kidding ourselves on that we can control this virus and we need to stop looking to a vaccine as a magic bullet. We can't afford to keep paying workers who can't work and businesses who can't open due to government edicts and so the edicts need to stop. We should switch our attention instead to protecting the vulnerable as much as we can while learning to accept that opportunistic infections kill the elderly and vulnerable - always have, always will. If we don't, we will end up with millions unemployed, isolated, lonely, sick and dying from diseases which were preventable, unlike Covid.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Independence transcends ...

Nicola Sturgeon was being more than a little disingenous today when she admitted to a limited amount of politicisation of her daily "Covid" briefings on the basis that she's only human. In fact she has regularly used the platform to denigrate the Westminster Government and favourably compare Scotland with England, which would maybe not be political if she was a member of any other party but, as the leader of the SNP, this is highly political. It has also been highly effective as the latest opinion polls on support for independence demonstrate. Hence the reason that Nationalists have been howling with rage over the BBC's announcement that they would no longer automatically screen the daily briefings on TV. Sturgeon has been wise enough to distance herself from the criticism but her deputy John Swinney no doubt spoke for her when he voiced his concern over the BBC's decision.

The problem, as Calton sees it, is that those who don't want to see the UK broken up and Scotland plunged into poverty still seem to ascribe some basic moral decency to Sturgeon. They don't realise that when she said "independence transcends" she meant that it transcends EVERYTHING. Not just economics but morals, decency, honesty, integrity. Everything. Nicola Sturgeon would let your Granny die of Covid in a care home if it furthered the cause of Scottish independence ... except she's already tried that and it didn't work. She has no sense of shame and no decency. If she seems to be doing a mea culpa it's only to avoid admitting even bigger failures. This is what Nationalism does to you. It causes women to cover up for sex pests in case it damages 'the cause' and it causes other women to knife them in the back in case they damage 'the cause'. Nothing matters but independence and while Nicola may not have been "enjoying" Covid, she has used the higher profile it has given her to drive a wedge between Scotland and England and increase support for the only thing she really cares about. 

It's time to take the blinkers and the gloves off if we are to defeat the poison of Nationalism in Scotland. No more Mr Nice Guy.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

The Smell of Pee

Back in April Calton wrote that Nicola Sturgeon reeked of exceptionalism. Now she stinks of urine - the pee some care home residents had to lie in due to the Scottish Government's mismanagement of the Covid crisis and care homes. Whenever someone dares to raise this issue with the First Minister, she complains that they are trying to make out that she did it deliberately. She plaintively protests that she did her best at the time and that, if mistakes were made, (note the 'if'), they will be examined at some future inquiry. She deeply regrets every death and, really, it's her we should be feeling sorry for because those nasty journalists and opposition politicians are trying to make her out to be a murderess.

No Nicola, the charge is not murder - it's manslaughter. Not intentional, pre-meditated killing but killing through incompetence. At the height of the pandemic you and your hopeless Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman shifted lots of vulnerable elderly patients from hospitals to care homes without testing them while at the same time lots of care home workers were having to stay at home for 14 days. You created a situation where an increase in residents coincided with a decrease in staff numbers and you did nothing to mitigate this. That is incompetence. The results of what you were doing were forseeable - you did not forsee them. The situation was exacerbated by a blanket directive (now deleted) that care home residents should not be moved to hospital if they got Covid.

Sturgeon's hands are not stained with blood - it's pee and no amount of washing will take away the smell.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Nicola is no Boudicca

Calton has stopped listening to Nicola's lunchtime briefings. Her anxiety is palpable and it's infectious. Instead of leading the Scottish people our First Minister is pleading with the Scottish people. It's not a good look. No wonder some nationalists are casting about for another leader and their eye is falling on Sturgeon's predecessor and nemesis, Alex Salmond. The fact that there doesn't seem to be any other obvious candidate highlights the paucity of talent in the SNP. A leadership election in the aftermath of Salmond's resignation in 2014 might have highlighted what is now blindingly obvious even to some SNP members - Sturgeon's ultra-cautiousness and inability to be decisive is a huge drawback. She is a career politician, not a leader. She's the queen of spin in a sharp suit but she is no Boudicca and it is unlikely that she will ever lead the Scots to independence. She just doesn't have what it takes. If she did manage to take Scotland out of the UK we would be a nation of wee sleekit cow'rin tim'rous beasties just like her and we would indeed be too wee, too poor and too stupid to succeed as an independent country because that's what she will have made us.