The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been included on a list of politicians from the UK who have been sanctioned by Vladimir Putin’s regime and banned from ever visiting Russia again. We can be sure she’s about as gutted by this development as you would be if you had just been informed that you are no longer welcome at the AGM of the Nigel Farage fan club. It’s not so much a sanction as it is a badge of pride.
There are far worse things than never being allowed to visit Putin’s Russia, such as being taken there against your will and then not being allowed to leave, after the Russian army has blown up your home and killed your neighbours, a fate which has apparently befallen thousands of Ukrainians from the besieged and destroyed city of Mariupol.
Much to the chagrin of the howling British nationalists who infest the comments section of the Herald newspaper, who used the news as an opportunity to indulge themselves in their frothing hatred, Nicola Sturgeon is the only Scottish politician who has come to the attention of the Putin regime, and been subjected to Russian retaliatory measures. Douglas “I’m totally focused on the situation in Ukraine” Ross has been ignored by the Russian regime, which is not entirely surprising seeing as how he is also ignored by his own colleagues in Westminster. The Putin regime obviously shares their opinion that he is a lightweight. You don’t waste time dealing with irrelevancies.
As we all know, international affairs are a matter which is very firmly reserved to Westminster. Under devolution it is not up to the Scottish Government to decide what sanctions to impose on Putin and his cronies or to make decisions about military or humanitarian aid for the Ukrainians. As we all also know, and Russian intelligence also certainly knows, the Conservatives in Westminster do not consult with or seek input from the Scottish Government even when dealing with issues which have a direct effect on devolved matters or the devolution settlement,so they are certainly not going to seek any input from Holyrood on an international issue which is the sole preserve of Westminster.
The Russian government most assuredly knows that the Scottish Government and Nicola Sturgeon have had very little, if any, input in shaping the British response to Putin’s war in Ukraine. It was notable that the list of people who are to be subject to Russian retaliatory sanctions did not include any of the other leaders of the devolved administrations. Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford was not amongst those banned from ever setting foot on Russian soil. Apart from the Scottish First Minister, all those on the Russian list are senior figures in the British Government and the Conservative administration in Westminster.
So it is worth asking why the Putin regime has made such an exception, given that the Russians know that the devolved governments have no influence on the British Government’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Some of the aforementioned British nationalist howlers have claimed that the inclusion of Nicola Sturgeon on the Russian sanctions list is merely a fiendish attempt by Putin to stir up Scottish nationalism and have managed to contort reality to such an extent that they have convinced themselves that the declaration by the Kremlin that Nicola Sturgeon is persona non-grata is somehow proof that the Scottish independence movement and the SNP are in Putin’s pocket. However, were it purely a matter of this being a Russian attempt to foment divisions within the British state they would certainly have included the Welsh First Minister on their list too, and also quite possibly leading nationalist politicians from Northern Ireland as well.
The fact that the Putin regime did not do so means that the Russians must have singled out Nicola Sturgeon for a different reason, because they genuinely believe that she is a threat to Putin’s interests and his Russian nationalist desire to destroy Ukrainian independence and Ukrainian nationhood and to incorporate the Ukrainian nation into his Greater Russia as “Little Russia.”
This can only be because Nicola Sturgeon is respected internationally as an articulate and influential voice and a strong and capable politician who is looked up to and admired throughout Europe for her convictions and principles and who is capable of swinging international support and opinion behind her, all qualities in which the serial liar and deceitmeister Boris Johnson and his government of law breaking immoral chancers are signally lacking.
Meanwhile Johnson and his Conservative lackeys shamelessly use the tragedy of Ukraine as a shield behind which to hide the Prime Minister’s and the Chancellor’s law breaking, trying to gaslight the UK into accepting that a period of international crisis is no time to get rid of a liar and a cheat who has repeatedly demonstrated that the only interests he cares about are his own. In fact this current crisis is precisely why Johnson must go, and go immediately. However the Conservatives will not move against him for purely selfish and short sighted party political reasons, because there is no obvious successor, the reputation of Rishi Sunak, the erstwhile golden boy of the Tory party having spectacularly imploded in multiple scandals deriving from his privileged entitlement. He wasn’t so much golden as brass necked.
The contrast is a stark one. In Nicola Sturgeon Scotland has a leader who has international heft and clout and who has the moral and political authority to influence public opinion across the whole of Europe, she has spoken out and condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine in the strongest possible terms and has been vocal about the need to do more to support Ukrainian refugees and has not hesitated to condemn the British Government’s heartless insistence on visas and continues to urge Westminster to align its policy more closely with Europe. That is why the Putin regime has lashed out against her. It shows us that with independence, Scotland could have even greater clout and influence on the world stage and be a force for good in the world, unencumbered with British nationalism’s exceptionalism and delusional fantasies of global power.
I’ve had a few folk contacting me to ask if I am OK after last week’s news that I will never drive again. I was a bit down although not so much because of the driving thing but rather because it made me think about all the other things that I will never be able to do again due to the stroke. It’s been a year and a half now, which means that any improvement I might make in future will most likely be marginal. I will never be able to get back to the artistic pursuits I used to enjoy, and my dominantly left handed brain just isn’t built to allow me much dexterity in my right hand no matter how much I practice. Equally if I ever do get another dog, taking it for long walks in the countryside isn’t on the cards.
I will definitely never return to public speaking, not just because of the difficulty in getting to venues, but more importantly due to the sheer effort it takes to project your voice to an audience and “perform”, and the fact that I can no longer stand for any length of time, even with the aid of a stick. They told me when I was in hospital that the way I was pushing myself before the stroke, blogging just about every day, writing for the National, and driving all over Scotland to public speaking engagements may have been a contributory factor to the stroke. Perhaps the hardest lesson that I have had to learn is to pace myself better and to slow down. The brutal truth is that ye’re nae yuis tae naebdie if ye’re deid.
I prefer to concentrate on what I can do rather than on what I can’t, but I needed a few days to allow myself to mourn what’s been lost and to accept it.
Anyway, pity parties don’t help. I will be fine. I’m made of sterner stuff, and there is important work to be done which I am still able to do, attacking the pretensions of British nationalism and making the case for independence, and that’s what I am going to keep doing.
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