Category Archives: Scottish National Party

This Tory can’t take the truth about his government’s new cabinet [VIDEO]

Mark Harper: a Tory ‘divide and rule’ boy who thinks that facts about cabinet MPs are “a nationalist view”.

SNP MP Stephen Flynn laid out the facts about members of Liz Truss’s cabinet on the BBC’s Politics Live – to indignation from Tory Mark Harper.

After one fact after another, about one Tory after another, was laid out, Harper responded with “that is a nationalist view”.

Is it?

Or is it more likely that Harper is in denial, treats Scotland with contempt, and has demonstrated the reason increasing number of Scottish people want independence from a UK government that they didn’t elect and don’t want?

Here’s a clip:

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Tory divide-and-rule: leader candidates attack SNP’s record

Sunak and Truss: they’ll be attacking the Scottish government at a hustings event in Perth.

It’s all a bit predictable, isn’t it? Still, if it works, there’s no reason they wouldn’t carry on with it.

I refer, of course, to the Tory tactic of “divide and rule” – currently on full display in that party’s leadership election campaign.

Both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have ventured into Scotland, where they said the ruling SNP should be challenged on its record, and affirmed their opposition to another independence referendum.

The SNP has retaliated by pointing out (correctly) that neither candidate is offering a solution to the current cost-of-living crisis – and suggesting that both will boost support for Scottish independence.

Sunak has announced a plan to roll back devolution to ensure “every single” government department operated UK-wide, despite key policy areas such as education and health having been in the control of Holyrood since 1999.

That’s unconstitutional, of course.

He also called for regular reports from Scotland on the delivery of key services, so these can be compared across the UK. That seems to be another attempt to establish lines of criticism that could be used to accuse the Scottish administration of failure (probably on false bases).

Truss just went straight for the jugular, saying she would make changes to the Scotland Act to give MSPs the same full parliamentary privilege as MPs at Westminster, so they would have legal immunity from prosecution over statements made in Holyrood, instead of the narrower set of protections against defamation claims and some court actions they have now.

If that seems like a bonus for MSPs, think again: Truss wants it in order to “allow for more robust questioning for ministers” and “increase the powers of the Scottish parliament to hold the Scottish government to account”. It’s all about attacking the SNP administration.

She amplified on this by saying (according to the BBC),

“I’ll make sure that my government does everything to ensure elected representatives hold the devolved administration to account for its failure to deliver the quality public services, particularly health and education, that Scottish people deserve.”

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, reminded voters that throughout the cost of living crisis, while other nations’ governments have acted to support the most vulnerable people, the UK’s Tory government has “sat on its hands”. He said:

“Whoever wins this leadership contest, Scotland loses.”

That’s true – but it’s not the argument for independence that he insists it is, because it applies across the United Kingdom. We all lose as long as any Tories remain in office at all. That’s something we should all remember as this leader election draws to its close.

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New three-point independence referendum plan for Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon: she’s going all-out for Scottish independence – and who can blame her, when Boris Johnson has made such a mess of the United Kingdom?

It seems the Scottish National Party is planning to race Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein to be the first to gain independence from Boris Johnson’s UK.

The new majority party in NI has a plan to secede from the Union within the next five years, but the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon has proposed October 19, 2023 as the date for a referendum on Scottish independence.

Her party has published a Referendum Bill, to be debated by the Scottish Parliament – but this will not happen until the UK’s Supreme Court has ruled on whether the Scottish government has the power to hold a vote without UK government approval.

She has requested this approval, writing to Boris Johnson to request formal consent for the vote to be held. He has said the UK government will consider it, but its position that “now is not the time” for another referendum has not changed.

Sturgeon’s aim is to avoid legal challenges to her Referendum Bill when it comes to be debated in the Scottish Parliament; Supreme Court backing will make that possible.

So the plan is that – in the belief that Johnson’s government will refuse to back her request – it will still receive validation that it is lawful and constitutional from the Supreme Court and the Referendum Bill will be passed by the Scottish Parliament.

There is a back-up plan, which is for the SNP to fight the next UK-wide general election on a single issue: “should Scotland be an independent country?”

It is only eight years since the last referendum on Scottish independence, so one can understand why the UK government in Westminster is reluctant to tolerate another one.

In 2014, around 45 per cent of voters supported independence, with 55 per cent against. Current polling shows little change, with 48 per cent in favour and 52 per cent against.

This makes a new referendum a big gamble for the SNP. It may annoy voters into believing that the party is too focused on a single aim, to the detriment of a nation – the UK – that is trying to pick itself back up after the double-blow of Brexit and Covid-19.

Alternatively, the same phenomena may be the reasons for people to support the plan – as the current version of Brexit was Johnson’s brainchild and has been a disaster, while his policies on dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic have been similarly ham-handed, resulting in many thousands more deaths than should have happened.

In any event, the Supreme Court may simply rule against the referendum, forcing Sturgeon’s party into its fall-back plan – but what if Johnson calls a general election early in order to wrong-foot her?

Meanwhile, across the Irish Sea, Sinn Fein’s leaders have a plan to get Northern Ireland out of the union at some point over the next five years – if they can get Unionist parties to stop throwing their toys out of the pram over their election loss and allow the Assembly at Stormont to sit again.

They will be watching what happens in Scotland very carefully, no doubt.

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Covid-19 surge in Scotland after schools reopen – but Sturgeon won’t accept it

Nicola Sturgeon: she reckons schools must stay open, even though Covid-19 infections in Scotland have rocketed since the new term started.

This is what will happen in England – and on a much larger scale.

Scottish schools have reopened after their summer break – and Covid-19 infection rates have surged to their highest-ever level.

It is the predictable result of Boris Johnson’s ‘Freedom Day’ – the relaxation of all legal restrictions on gathering and distancing, which Scotland copied a few weeks ago.

Infections have been rising since the August 2 low of 799 and stood yeterday at 5,021 – Scotland’s highest-ever total.

Stunningly, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is refusing to face the facts and go back into lockdown. She’s reluctant even to go back through the stages of social distancing.

Speaking yesterday, the First Minister said: “I don’t want to go back to anything like a full lockdown.

If we, all of us, take the basic precautions right now that we know can slow the virus, then I hope no re-imposition of restrictions will be necessary.

How many people would have to die before she changes her mind?*

And she is determined to keep schools open, even though it is clear to anybody with a brain that they are the principal point from which Covid-19 is being transmitted to the population.

Her government has stressed that keeping schools open would be a number one priority regardless of what happens, with deputy FM John Swinney saying closures should be avoided “at all costs”.

Do those costs include preventable deaths? From what Swinney said, it seems they do.

How sad. We might have expected more intelligence from the Scottish government.

Perhaps Boris Johnson has just proved that stupidity is as easily-transmissible as the virus.

*Personally, This Writer thinks Sturgeon – and any other leader whose decisions cause preventable deaths (Boris Johnson) – should be made to visit personally the families of anybody who dies as a result of her decisions to apologise and offer restitution for the wrong she will have intentionally inflicted on them. At least that would keep her out of mischief for a (long) while.

Source: Covid in Scotland: Circuit breaker lockdown ‘an option’ to tackle virus surge | The National

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Anyone who knowingly misleads Parliament should resign. So why hasn’t Johnson gone?

The double-standards in this story are atrocious.

On one side, we see Nicola Sturgeon. The First Minister of Scotland has been found to have misled Parliament by giving an inaccurate account of meetings with Alex Salmond in 2018.

If an inquiry finds that she knowingly uttered falsehoods, then that is a resignation offence for an elected minister of any government, according to the Ministerial Code, and she should go – without question.

On the other side, we see Boris Johnson. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has been accused of having misled Parliament by failing to provide details of funding for renovations to his official Downing Street flat.

The allegation is that private donations to the Conservative Party totalling £60,000 have been used as part of £200,000 worth of refurbishments to the flat.

If so, it should have been reported to the Electoral Commission, because the Ministerial Code demands that “a statement covering relevant Ministers’ interests will be published twice yearly”. The last such statement appeared last July, eight months ago.

It seems clear that Johnson has knowingly breached the Code in failing to declare the sources of funding for the flat.

So he should resign – right?

But within Parliament there has been no pressure for him to do so, while Tory calls for Sturgeon to take a hike have been punitive in their decibel level.

Labour’s Keir Starmer, despite being a lawyer, has claimed Sturgeon should go whether she knowingly misled Parliament or not – which is another indication that he should not be in politics, let alone running a political party.

10 Downing Street says all appropriate codes were followed, but this rings hollow. What does Allegra Stratton, Johnson’s press secretary, mean by “appropriate”? Something different from the dictionary definition, one would guess.

That’s how Downing Street has explained the other ways Johnson has recently misled Parliament, as I mentioned in a previous article:

After he said there would be no funding cut for the body tasked with improving transport in the north (he’s taking away 40 per cent of its funding), Downing Street tried to suggest he had been talking about transport generally for the north of England.

And after he claimed all Covid-19 contracts had been published and were “on the record” – only to be contradicted by the High Court – a minister said all CANs – Contract Award Notices – had been published. They are not the same thing.

Today’s howler was his claim, in Prime Minister’s Questions, that Keir Starmer had voted against a promise of a 2.1 per cent pay rise for nurses – that his own government is breaking.

The plan was in the NHS Funding Bill last year – which passed without a formal vote because all the main parties supported it. Starmer didn’t need to vote, but if he had, he would have supported the Bill.

Johnson (or rather, Stratton – he’d done his usual runner) eventually came out with a claim that he had been saying Starmer voted against the Queen’s Speech – but the plan wasn’t mentioned in it.

The document Starmer had been waving around at PMQs – and to which he had been referring – was the NHS long-term plan, which was a policy document and not a piece of legislation on which he could have voted.

So it seems clear that Johnson had knowingly misled Parliament but the issue also seems to have gone away because nobody is calling for his resignation over it.

If you’re wondering who did fund the renovation, here‘s openDemocracy:

The Daily Mail has reported that Downing Street allegedly sought to plug the gap in the six-figure refurbishment of the prime ministerial flat using Conservative Party funds. After the party initially paid for part of the refurb, the Mail reports, Conservative Party donor Lord Brownlow gave it £60,000 last autumn to make up the difference.

The Mail also claims that party officials have since been looking for ways to keep the donation anonymous by returning it, and then repeating it through a new ‘Downing Street Trust’ that would conceal the original source.

Lord Brownlow, who served as vice-chairman of the Tory party in 2017-20 and was made a peer in 2019 by Theresa May, is expected to head up this new non-charitable trust.

So the person who allegedly provided this dodgy donation is set to head the organisation dedicated to hushing it up. More corrupt cronyism?

Let’s face it: nobody involved in this is going to come out smelling of roses.

It’s just that Boris Johnson, more than anybody else, is going to be smelling of faeces.

And it will take more than a Union Flag to wipe them away.

Source: Election watchdog quizzes Tory party over funding of PM’s flat makeover – BBC News

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Nicola Sturgeon can’t stop calling Margaret Ferrier ‘Margaret Covid’; where’s Dominic Eyetest?

Margaret Ferrier: she doesn’t look well, does she?

It’s no more than she deserves.

Margaret Ferrier is an MP for the SNP (whip currently suspended) who took a Covid-19 test on September 26 after experiencing symptoms.

Then, instead of self-isolating (just in case) she visited a gym, a beauty salon and a gift shop.

On September 28, while still awaiting her test results due to the lamentable slowness of the UK’s privatised testing system, she took a train from Scotland to London and spoke in a Parliamentary debate.

That evening she received a positive test result. Then, knowing she may have infected anybody in the gym, beauty salon, gift shop, on the train to London, and in Parliament itself, what did she do?

She took another train back to Scotland and lied to her party whip that a family member was unwell.

She admitted her offences on October 1, in a public statement. Afterwards Ferrier was suspended from the SNP, and referred herself to the police and the Parliamentary standards authorities.

Party leader Nicola Sturgeon has been referring to her as “Margaret Covid” ever since.

The reference may be to Typhoid Mary – a person who carries a disease to many others.

This Writer thinks other key players in the Covid-19 crisis should also be granted appropriate nicknames – and I see that I am not alone:

And if that idea doesn’t amuse you, there’s always Janey Godley:

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Starmer’s shame: are the many Tory u-turns due to fear of being outflanked… by Nicola Sturgeon?

Starmer and Sturgeon: in opposition to Boris Johnson’s Tories, he trails behind her in every way.

Sam Coates makes a good point in his Sky News article:

There is one common denominator which runs through too many of the U-turns to be ignored, and hints at a bigger neuralgia in government: nervousness about being outflanked by Nicola Sturgeon.

The pattern is easy to see. Tuesday’s mask U-turn came after Scotland’s first minister had also announced schools north of the border would require masks at the start of the week.

Ms Sturgeon abandoned the exam algorithm more than a week before Mr Johnson followed suit.

Free school meals were extended for further months by Ms Sturgeon weeks before Tory MPs joined a coalition forcing ministers to change tack in Westminster.

Masks in shops were required by Ms Sturgeon north of the border for less than a month before Mr Johnson copied that too.

Many of these U-turns by Mr Johnson’s government have been reluctant, angry and preceded by repeated denials that they would happen, maddening Tory MPs that defend the government’s initial position but are then left floundering when Number 10 changes its mind.

It seems the fear in Johnson’s camp is that Sturgeon is offering a better alternative to Scotland – independence – than the Tory government is offering to a United Kingdom with Scotland as a part of it.

And Keir Starmer – the leader of the party that is supposed to be the main opposition to Johnson’s Tories – is nowhere to be seen.

Labour has followed Johnson’s lead on these issues, where it has expressed any opinion at all. It certainly hasn’t offered alternatives in the same way as Sturgeon – even in Scotland.

No wonder public opinion of Scottish Labour is at such a low ebb!

This Writer has no doubt that Labour will continue to trail behind the Scottish National Party in its opposition to the Tories, just as long as Keir Starmer remains party leader; his heart simply isn’t in it.

He is an Establishment figure; he supports activities that maintain the status quo.

That’s why he has abandoned the traditionally “Labour” policies of Jeremy Corbyn in favour of “Tory-lite” policies that – at best – water down the worst excesses of Johnson’s Conservatives.

Johnson is the danger but Starmer is the problem.

As long as Starmer is Labour leader, Johnson – or a similarly harmful Conservative – will sit in Downing Street inflicting harm on the rest of us willy-nilly.

Yes, Sturgeon has been able to put a brake on his stupidities. But there is an election due in Scotland next year, when she is likely to win a huge majority in support of her policies – including secession from the United Kingdom.

And what happens if she succeeds, and Scotland wins its independence?

Who will provide checks and balances against Johnson’s excesses then?

It certainly won’t be Keir Starmer.

Source: Why the government’s many U-turns may be down to nervousness about Sturgeon | Politics News | Sky News

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Universal Credit is increasing debt and failing disabled people, says SNP

Protest: This is still the most appropriate image for the way the benefit system attacks people with disabilities. story below [Image: VoidOne.].

The SNP has renewed calls to make Universal Credit advance payments non-repayable grants instead of loans after new research showed the five week-wait and advance payments under Universal Credit are contributing to financial hardship and debt – particularly for disabled claimants.

The report by the National Audit Office (NAO) said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) needs to do more to support vulnerable people and others claiming Universal Credit, revealing that disabled claimants and people on low incomes are more likely to claim advances and have other debts to repay.

Claimants and representative organisations told the NAO that the wait for the first payment contributes to financial hardship and debt, despite the availability of advances.

The SNP said the solution is to turn advance payments into non-repayable grants once the claimant has been deemed eligible for Universal Credit.

This would remove the need to reverse the five-week wait, which the DWP has said would be “operationally challenging”, and minimise the risk of fraud – the reason given by the UK government for not implementing grants instead of loans.

The architect of Universal Credit, Iain Duncan Smith, has admitted that keeping Universal Credit advance payments as loans instead of grants “is a policy decision, not a structural issue, so whatever the Government decides to do it is wholly feasible to do it.”

“The Chancellor’s statement was a missed opportunity to put building a fairer society at the heart of the recovery, with no measures to put cash in the pockets of those who need it most and lift people out of poverty,” said the SNP’s Neil Gray.

“And the Tories are missing another opportunity to address rising debt issues by refusing to make advance payments grants instead of loans.

“Addressing this issue is not an impossible task, as the SNP and leading anti-poverty organisations have repeatedly made clear by proposing a simple solution. The Tory government’s decision to keep advance payments as loans – which are pushing people into, or further into, debt – instead of making them non-repayable grants is a political decision, and nothing to do with operational or fiscal challenges.

“There is overwhelming support for the UK government to implement our proposal, and with unemployment rising and incomes being cut back, it is more critical than ever that the UK government starts taking serious action to address rising poverty and rising debt.”

According to the NAO Report – “Universal Credit: Getting to first payment” – 80 per cent of claims by low-income households, 67 per cent of claims including someone who has limited capability for work because of a disability or health condition, and 70 per cent of claims including a disabled child had a deduction applied to their first payment to cover advances repayments or other debts. This compares with 61 per cent of all claims.

Around 57 per cent of households making a new claim take a Universal Credit advance payment to help them manage during the five-week waiting period until their first payment.

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