It’s the only conclusion one can infer from Keir Starmer’s decision to give Lisa Nandy a Shadow Cabinet post: that he has absolutely no intention to even try to regain Labour’s dominance in Scotland.
Nandy infamously said that the UK should “look to Catalonia” for lessons on how to defeat Scottish nationalism.
She was referring to the Spanish government’s use of force to try to stop a disputed independence referendum in Catalonia, in 2017.
Starmer’s decision to put her in the Shadow Cabinet is certain to infuriate voters in Scotland, who now see her as hate-filled and violent. Who can blame them?
And it indicates that left-wing fears are correct: Starmer is jerking Labour rightward once again – and he knows that a right-wing Labour Party cannot hope to retake Scotland from the SNP.
It also indicates that he knows his place. Without Scottish seats, Labour cannot hope to win a general election. He stands confirmed as the Labour leader who’ll keep the party in opposition to keep a socialist out of Downing Street.
Tories really want to cripple their country, according to a new poll by YouGov.
Not only are they desperate to harm the economy by daring a “no-deal” Brexit in order to decouple from the European Union no later than October 31, triggering the application of huge tariffs on international trade…
… But they also don’t care if this has the knock-on effect of destroying the union, with Scotland and/or Northern Ireland separating from the United Kingdom.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is likely to capitalise on this in her speech to mark 20 years of devolution. She’ll probably say:
“Immense damage to Scottish communities was caused by an out of touch Conservative party that governed, unelected in Scotland, for 18 years. But now I fear a similarly out of touch Tory party, led by an even more reckless leader, could cause as much damage as Mrs Thatcher and John Major did. But while they took 18 years, he, whoever it is, could do as much – or more – damage in just 18 weeks. Because by the end of October, Scotland could be heading for a no-deal Brexit.
“Scotland must have the option of choosing a different course. The next six months could offer challenges greater than anything we have seen in the last 20 years. In my view they will inevitably require greater powers for Scotland – indeed the full powers that come with independence.”
So she wants out before the next Tory leader – whoever he is – can do the damage we all expect.
In Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that has been propping up the Conservative government in a confidence-and-supply agreement has also been holding up Brexit by absolutely refusing to accept the so-called NI border “backstop” that would put the province on different trading terms with the EU than the rest of the UK.
Tory MPs are said to want a general election the instant a new leader is installed (Daniel Kawczynski mentioned Boris Johnson) in order to establish a majority without the need for DUP support.
But that might trigger moves for Northern Ireland to leave the union.
Of course, it might also lead to a Labour government, if the public at large don’t take to the leader the Tories elect (and Boris Johnson has a proven track record as a liar, a racist, and a sexist who’ll happily spaff our cash up the wall on nonsense).
And this leads to a contradiction, because according to the YouGov poll, the only thing that would dissuade Tory members from demanding Brexit at the first opportunity is the possibility of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn.
But such a government is more likely if they choose a leader committed to Brexit at any cost.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Jeremy Corbyn and Ian Blackford: Both have been subjected to claims they say are false, but they have reacted in markedly different ways. Why?
The SNP’s leader in Westminster is threatening to sue Conservative MP Ross Thomson over a claim that he is an “arms dealer”.
According to The Herald, the threat follows a tweet from Mr Thomson of a news story claiming that an investment fund Mr Blackford chairs profits from defence deals.
Mr Thomson included a shocked-face emoji and the line “Just a simple arms dealer”.
He deleted the tweet two hours later but the SNP has said Mr Blackford’s solicitors have contacted Mr Thomson, demanding an apology and a charitable donation.
This chain of events raises an obvious question: Much more serious allegations were made about Jeremy Corbyn by reporters for The Sunday Times – so why hasn’t he demanded reparations from them?
His inaction encourages readers and commentators – including certain Labour backbenchers – to claim that the allegations (of anti-Semitism) are true.
It is hugely damaging – not only to Mr Corbyn but also to all Labour members who have been falsely accused of anti-Semitism, just because they support Mr Corbyn and the direction he has taken the Labour Party.
As a victim of this discrimination, I certainly don’t understand the thinking behind Mr Corbyn’s lack of action. Isn’t it time we had an explanation?
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Kezia Dugdale, the liability leading Scottish Labour. No wonder he’s got that look on his face. [Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images].
We should all be wary about news reports featuring Jeremy Corbyn, after The Guardian was caught out peddling fake news about a mythical three-line whip on Article 50.
But this seems authentic. The EU referendum was UK-wide and, while the SNP may consider Scotland to be a separate nation, it isn’t. The decision affects it as much as Cumbria or Cornwall.
What’s really interesting is the thin-skinned response by Nicola Sturgeon to Mr Corbyn’s scathing remarks about the SNP.
“I know that many Scots believe that the best pathway to redress the current situation is via independence. Perhaps this isn’t surprising when problems of unemployment, industrial decline, and exploitation seem so persistent,” he said.
“Yet these are exactly the issues of the north of England, the Midlands and other English regions.” And he said supporting independence “ignores the reality” of political and business power being controlled by “the establishment” in both England and Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon’s reply ignored the substance of his argument and concentrated on an ad hominem attack that had nothing to do with the issue at hand:
Rubbish. And if Corbyn wasn't leading such a pitifully ineffective opposition, Tories wouldn't be getting away with half of what they are https://t.co/1bMOfonMKt
Oh, is that right? Or is it just an attempt at distraction from the issues of unemployment, industrial decline and exploitation? I think the latter.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has delivered a blow to Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to keep Scotland in the European single market when the rest of the UK leaves by saying that exiting the market must be “a UK-wide decision”.
Scotland’s first minister has threatened to hold another independence referendum should the UK government ignore her plea to find a way to retain Scotland’s membership of the European trading bloc.
However, at a Scottish Labour event in Glasgow on Friday morning, Corbyn said he will not support a special Scottish deal when it comes to single market membership and will instead argue for “market access” for the whole of the UK.
Stronger for Scotland: The SNP government is heading in an ever more authoritarian direction [Image: politics.co.uk].
I’m publishing quite a long extract from this politics.co.uk article, in anticipation of a knee-jerk backlash from supporters of the SNP.
Nationalist parties tend to be authoritarian, so many of these developments may be no surprise to informed commentators.
But is this really what the people of Scotland thought they were getting when the SNP promised to fight for freedom from the United Kingdom?
It may seem inappropriate to compare the SNP with right-wing nationalist governments in Poland or Hungary. Unfortunately as the Scottish government, led by Nicola Sturgeon, heads in an ever more authoritarian direction, such comparisons are increasingly justified.
Examples of this tendency range from the trivial to the far more serious. Most recently, Donald Trump’s comments about Muslim immigrants, led to calls from the SNP for him to be banned from entering the country as a “hate preacher”. While many may agree with this, the former SNP leader Alex Salmond went one step further. He not only endorsed a ban, but said Scotland should be banning ‘all Donald Trumps’. It reminds me of a nightclub bouncer compiling a list of undesirables who aren’t allowed entry on a Saturday night. It would be interesting to see Salmond’s list of who should and shouldn’t be allowed into the country.
It’s not just differing views which the SNP are uncomfortable with, but differing lifestyles. The Scottish government are currently seeking to ban the sale of cheap alcohol in an attempt to control the behaviour of Scottish drinkers. Unlike the English or Welsh who have resisted such moves, the SNP believe we Scots can’t be trusted with cheap alcohol. The only reason it’s not in force is because the EU court raised concerns about restrictions on free trade.
A more sinister development is the SNP plan for a named person or ‘state guardian’ for every child. This will grant the state unprecedented powers over families. Proponents of the law advocate that it provides a point of contact for families. But the status quo already has various routes for families needing support. The real change is the Scottish Government having arbitrary and intrusive powers into every family in Scotland. Former chairman of Scotland’s Children Panel Advisory Group Joe Knight described it as “an erosion of parental rights and responsibilities.”
The disturbing point is not just that every child will have a named person intervening in their lives, but the SNP presumption that every child needs such a person. On this issue as on many others of personal responsibility, the SNP government is convinced it knows best.
The SNP’s super ID database is even more troubling. It’s not exactly clear how our private information would be monitored under the scheme, but filling in an innocuous form at your local NHS dentist could result in the information being circulated to 120 public bodies, including Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Privacy campaigners have called on the Scottish government to ditch the scheme, as it will allow widespread data mining and profiling. Tellingly, the proposals are not being treated as primary legislations and are being forced through without parliamentary debate. On this issue as well, the SNP are allowing little dissent.
Arguably, the most authoritarian development of all is the SNP’s passing of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act. Under this law, fans’ behaviour must be monitored in order to see whether it merits an arrest. Yet so broad is the legislation that fans can be questioned and even arrested simply for the clothes they’re wearing, or the songs they’re singing.
The SNP’s approach to Donald Trump and football fans is remarkably similar. Rather than enlighten, persuade or educate, they opt for the lazy illiberal option of simply banning them.
Natalie McGarry has become the second SNP member of Parliament to resign the party whip amid allegations of corruption.
Edinburgh West MP Michelle Thomson withdrew from the party whip in September when it emerged that Police Scotland was investigating 13 property deals to which she was linked. Thomson has denied any wrongdoing.
Critics of the party have been quick to point this out.
Here’s a tweet from Owain Gardner: “At this rate we’ll be back at Salmond being the only SNP member by 2020.”
Pro-UK Scottish blogger Effie Deans took a darker tone: “We now have two SNP MPs who have resigned the whip because of alleged corruption, but in today’s Scotland we must keep silent about it.”
Now, why would that be?
The SNP MP at the centre of allegations that tens of thousands of pounds in donations may be missing from the pro-independence campaign group she helped to set up has withdrawn from the party whip but insists she is determined to clear her name.
Natalie McGarry said that she had taken the step in the best interests of the party and the constituents of Glasgow East who voted for her. According to the party’s constitution, it will lead to automatic suspension from the SNP.
In a statement issued on her behalf on Tuesday evening, McGarry’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said: “She maintains she has done nothing wrong but is conscious that the events of the last 48 hours are distracting from the job she was elected to do on behalf of the SNP. She has a proud record as a principled activist and states she is determined to clear her name.”
Questions have been raised about the role played by McGarry after Women for Independence (WFI) contacted the police on Sunday night because they believed substantial amounts were missing from the group’s donation income.
The Guardian understands it has been alleged that McGarry was the only person with access to the PayPal account used by WFI to collect the donations and from which it is believed the alleged discrepancies have arisen.
We already know that the civil servant who wrote the controversial ‘Memogate’ memo believed that it was accurate. Now the MP who leaked it has said the same.
The only people who have cast any doubt on the document are those who have an interest in doing so.
If the civil servant had not declared his belief that the information he had written was factually accurate – by which, let’s by clear, he meant it was what he had been told by the French consul-general – then This Writer would be more willing to give Nicola Sturgeon the benefit of the doubt.
The civil servant did express concerns that the consul-general had misheard the information he had imparted – but, looking at the actual content of that information, it is hard to find any way this could be true. There is no language barrier between three people who are all perfectly fluent in English, for example.
So this issue still comes down to whether you believe a civil servant with an impeccable record for honesty, absolutely no reason to fabricate any information, and no reason to believe he could get away with any such fabrication at the time he communicated the message he did, or three people who were directly involved in what appears to be a politically incendiary conversation, all of whom would have had very strong reasons for being conservative with the truth, if that conversation really did take place as recorded.
You be the judge.
Alistair Carmichael has told a special court he leaked a confidential memo that claimed Nicola Sturgeon secretly wanted a Tory general election victory because he believed it was true.
The former Scotland secretary told an election court in Edinburgh he believed the so-called Frenchgate memo was “politically explosive”, because it confirmed that the first minister wanted David Cameron to win in the belief it would further her quest for Scottish independence.
Carmichael denied he had intended to smear Sturgeon when he authorised his special adviser Euan Roddin to leak the memo. He said that until she forcefully denied it was accurate within minutes of the Daily Telegraph publishing it, he felt it revealed facts that were of critical public importance.
“A smear is where you say something about somebody else, an opinion which is untrue and which you know to be untrue,” he said. The memo “was saying something about Scottish nationalists that I believed to be true”.
The case centres on Carmichael’s decision in March to allow Roddin to leak a memo that allegedly summarised Sturgeon’s comments to the French ambassador Sylvie Bermann. The first minister allegedly said she did not believe Ed Miliband, then the Labour leader, was prime ministerial material, and that she would prefer to see the Tories win.
Carmichael said he trusted the honesty of the Scotland Office civil servant who had drawn up the memo, and the account Pierre Alain Coffinier, the French diplomat who briefed the civil servant, gave about the ambassador’s meeting with the first minister.
“Gotta feel sorry for Corbyn. “Don’t mention Scotland! Drink this! Just Drink. The. Irn. Bru. Try to look happy.”
That’s SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter’s opinion of Jeremy Corbyn’s trip north of the English border – but it’s one that doesn’t seem to reflect the actual state of affairs at all.
Sure, we have the photographs of Labour’s new leader brandishing a bottle of Irn Bru and claims like that in The National, that Scottish Labour has told him not to mention the word ‘Scotland’ for fear of “playing to the nationalist agenda” (it seems he was advised by senior party insiders to refer to towns and cities rather than the country).
Others have been taking the visit more seriously. According to the FT, “Some Labour members think that his left wing views will make it harder for the ruling Scottish National party to portray itself as a champion of socialist values while pursuing centrist policies” (Scottish Labour’s opinion seems to be that the SNP are “New Labour in kilts”).
This, of course, suggests that moving Labour to the left of the political spectrum leaves more of the middle ground for the SNP. Won’t that imply a visible shift in that party’s policies, away from what the electorate thought it was, though?
Mr Corbyn himself seems to endorse that view. Asked how Labour’s anti-austerity stance differs from the SNP’s, he told the Daily Record: “We mean it.”
“We’ve learned the lessons of the economic strategies of the past and the way they haven’t worked. It does mean rebalancing our economy, it does mean maintaining the 50p top rate of tax, it does mean not cutting tax credits for the poorest people in our society.
“We want to invest in a growing, expanding economy across the UK and we fully support the powers in the Scotland Bill, and we are going to be working closely with the Labour Party in Scotland to try to defend the people of Scotland from the worst effects of the Trade Union Bill and, of course, the Welfare Reform Bill.”
Mr Corbyn warned that the SNP plan for “full fiscal autonomy” would lead to “very, very heavy” austerity – implying that the nationalists have been misleading their electorate about the effects of their policies.
He told the Record: “If you go for fiscal autonomy, I don’t know what kind of austerity you are going to have but all I know is it would be very, very heavy. I want to see an end to austerity across all of the UK and that is what the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell did in his speech at the party conference on Monday.”
He made it clear that he rejects SNP claims that they are the only effective opposition to the Tories, and pointed out that Labour membership in Scotland it at its highest in years since he took over as leader.
“I believe we’re going to continue to gain support,” he said. “We’re going to do lot of campaigning and point out that what really matters to people is housing, is education, jobs, opportunities and opposing what the Tories are doing in the Welfare Reform Bill.
“We will do our best to get sufficient powers to the Scottish Parliament to try to reduce the impact of the disastrous welfare reform bill on the people of Scotland.”
And he repeated his position on Trident, saying his belief that it should be scrapped had been well known for years and would win popular support in Scotland.
Hmm. That’s six mentions of ‘Scotland’, just in the comments quoted here. Perhaps Ms Hunter and The National were mistaken?
Tapping people’s communications in order to keep journalists under control is a Tory strategy, don’t you know?
Let’s all keep a close eye on this.
The Scottish government is under growing pressure to clear the air over alleged spying on journalists and their sources by an elite unit within Police Scotland.
Scottish Labour has tabled a parliamentary motion calling on Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, to reveal what she knows about the allegations.
“We need full transparency from the first minister about exactly what SNP government ministers know about these allegations and whether they have authorised any surveillance of journalists and their sources by Police Scotland,” said Hugh Henry, Scottish Labour’s shadow justice secretary.
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