The anti-independence media, including certain commentators who claim to support independence and describe themselves as “critical friends of the SNP” but spend all their time and energy attacking the Scottish Government and resolutely refusing to make any positive arguments for independence, have recently taken to crowing that it’s all over for the largest party of independence and for Scottish independence itself. The Scottish media has always been overly preoccupied with finding negative stories about the SNP and the Scottish government, even as it turns a blind eye to the many many failings of the Conservative government at Westminster.
There is something deeply wrong with a media which is so desperate to fend off Scottish independence but which refuses to scrutinise or criticise the alternative, the deeply chaotic, dysfunctional and corrupt Westminster system, a system which is rapidly descending into an undemocratic authoritarianism which neither of the two main parties has any incentive to reform. Neither Labour nor the Conservatives respect the democratic right of the people of Scotland to determine the future of Scotland for themselves.
Equally neither responds to the fact that a clear majority of people across the UK believe Brexit to have been a mistake and want much closer ties with the European Union, including rejoining the Single Market and Customs Union and the restoration of the right of freedom of movement and settlement in the EU which was stripped from British citizens as a consequence of the Conservatives’ ideologically driven pursuit of the hardest possible Brexit – a hard Brexit which the Tories and their allies in the press denied they were seeking prior to the 2016 referendum.
Those of you who are getting to a certain age may recall that in 1988, the Conservative junior Health Minister Edwina Currie was forced to resign for getting some public health information wrong. Currie asserted during a TV interview that “most of the egg production in this country, sadly, is now affected with salmonella.” These claims led to a 60 percent decline in egg sales over the next few weeks and resulted in the destruction of around 400 million eggs and the slaughter of around 4 million hens.
Currie later clarified that she had misspoken, saying that she had meant much, not most, of the egg production and that she had been referring to the egg laying flocks and not the eggs themselves. However two weeks after giving the interview the furore was such that Currie tendered her resignation. This led to her political downfall, she never held another ministerial post, although she remained a backbench MP until 1997. I don’t wish to defend a woman who appointed Jimmy Savile as chairman of Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital, where it later came to light that he molested and raped vulnerable patients. However it is worth pointing out that no one was killed, injured or became ill as a result of Currie’s misleading interpretation of scientific public health advice about salmonella in egg laying flocks.
Compare and contrast with what happened when then Chancellor Rishi Sunak deliberately ignored the government’s scientific advisors during the covid pandemic. Without bothering to inform the government’s scientific advisors or the chief medical officer whom he would surely have known would have told him his plan would spread the virus and lead to illness and death which could otherwise have been avoided, Sunak launched his reckless “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme, which was widely seen at the time as being part of the intensely ambitious Chancellor’s bid for the leadership of the Tory party.
The scheme predictably led to a rise in the infection rate of covid infections. A study carried out by Thiemo Fetzer, an economist at the University of Warwick, found that the scheme was closely linked to an increase in covid cases over the summer of 2020.
Fetzer concluded: “The empirical estimates suggest that the scheme may be responsible for around 8-17% of all new detected Covid-19 clusters (at least two new infections in the same area) emerging during August and into early September  in the UK.” At a time when there were no effective vaccines against the virus and when doctors were still struggling to develop effective treatments for the disease, it is unquestionable that hundreds if not thousands of people who might otherwise still be alive fell ill and died as a direct result of the vanity and selfishness of Rishi Sunak, who put his career ambitions before the health, safety, and lives of members of the public.
Yet far from being forced to resign in disgrace, Sunak ended up as Prime Minister. That is how low the Westminster system has sunk, not even being responsible for the deaths of thousands is sufficient reason to cause a British politician to suffer any negative consequences.
Despite the protection offered to it by the anti-independence Scottish media, the people of Scotland see the dire state of the institutions of the British state all too clearly. From a money grabbing monarch who seizes the estates of those who die without a will and who is now mired in accusations of racism, to a dysfunctional Westminster Parliament which is unable to hold the government to account and is seemingly stuffed full of sex pests, to public services on the verge of collapse, to a BBC which acts as an enabler and apologist for the worst excesses of Anglo-British triumphalist nationalism, the second unelected Conservative Prime Minister in a row, one killed the economy and the other killed people by encouraging the spread of covid, both out of their depth in the mouldy damp patch which passes for Westminster politics, which ever way you look the institutions of the British state are not fit for purpose. This is what happens when you put a bunch of feral, arrogant, narcissistic, public schoolboys in charge.
Meanwhile their successor is going to be Keir Starmer, which is like wanting to book a holiday in a five star hotel in the Maldives and being told you’ll have to make do with a leaky caravan in Grimsby with a bucket for a toilet. A former human rights lawyer who is totally incapable of recognising blatant war crimes, even when they are announced by their perpetrator, is pretty telling. And then him having to lie about what he said a couple of days later. It doesn’t bode well, does it.
At best a Labour government will tinker around the edges of the worst Tory excesses. Then after a few years an even worse Tory party than the current incarnation will be back in power and the entire dismal cycle will ratchet us down even further.
So it’s scarcely surprising that even the woeful Scottish media can’t prevent Scots from backing independence. An opinion poll commissioned by STV and carried out by IPSOS-Mori has found that a clear majority of people in Scotland support Scottish independence, with 54% backing independence and 46% opposed.
The poll also found that the SNP continues to enjoy a healthy lead of 10% over Labour in Westminster voting intention with the SNP on 40% and Labour on 30%. The Tories are languishing on a sorry 15%. These figures would ensure that the SNP would retain the largest number of Westminster votes and seats at the next general election, with of course the important proviso that the party is able to motivate its supporters to turn out and vote. Above all it was the failure of independence supporters to come out and vote for the SNP which allowed Labour to win the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by election, with the result that people there are now represented in Parliament by one of Starmer’s most loyal lackeys, a man who will not vote against any of his boss’s policies, no matter how unpalatable they might be to the people of Scotland.
Scots are still not enthused by Starmer’s Labour party with its wholesale adoption of Conservative policies and its pretence of being opposed to nationalism even as it wraps itself in the British flag and apes the Tories on opposition to immigration. That, plus Starmer’s unwillingness to countenance any meaningful change to a Westminster Parliament and system which are manifestly unfit for purpose gives the SNP an opportunity to motivate its supporters at the next general election by ensuring that independence is front and foremost in its campaign.
I wanted to give an update about what’s going on away from politics and blogging. Regular readers may recall that a few months back my mum asked – well, insisted – that I write a piece about her battle with ocular melanoma, her operation to have her left eye removed, and her gratefulness for the NHS in Scotland and its marvellous staff. Sadly I have to report that her cancer has spread, first to her liver, then to her right lung and bones. It cannot be cured and will prove fatal sooner or later – obviously we hope later. The doctors put her on a course of immunotherapy in an effort to slow down any further spread of the cancer. The good news is that it worked, the bad news is that she has had a very adverse reaction to the treatment and they have had to pause the immunotherapy. She’s currently in hospital and is not doing too well. We don’t know when she will get home, or if they will resume treatment for the cancer, as she is only likely to have the same bad reaction. They will have to get a care plan in place and find a solution to the death trap stairs in my parents’ house.
I’m sure you will appreciate that with all this going on I have other things on my mind than blogging, but I will try and get something online as and when I can.
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