Brian Monteith: By her own words Nicola Sturgeon risks writing her resignation
After our secessionist “government” suffered a week of carnage, administered tellingly through self-inflicted wounds, there are reasons to be cheerful if you believe Scotland is better off remaining inside Great Britain.
The skip in my step, the jaunty angle of my Fedora and my whistling of happy tunes comes with a warning, however.
There is no cigar, yet.
For while the SNP has an uncanny ability to self-harm – worse still, to self-harm Scotland – the greatest threat to the solidarity of our great country comes, as it always has done, from those who profess to believe in it.
Or rather, the greatest threat, to the UK comes from those who claim they support it, but in so much of what they say, or write, or do, make it their life’s work to belittle it, apologise for it, denigrate it and make out that every other country offers a better hope for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren than what our country stands for and what it offers. It is the lack of self-confidence in our ability to succeed and prosper, especially in times when we stand alone and face great challenges, that gnaws away at the reason for our existence.
The lack of self-belief in Britain; Great Britain; the whole United Kingdom; gives succour to those who would split off from our common humanity and shared community. What strength we have; that love of the underdog, the willingness to help those who are different from us, comes from centuries of hospitable acceptance and assimilation of wave upon wave of settlers, refugees, minorities and, yes, seekers of success – for the UK is a land of great opportunity.
I expect such divisive attitudes from card-carrying nationalists, of the civic or uncivil type, that is their job. (Although there is so much that is wrong with Scotland that could be put right by the powers that Holyrood currently enjoys but is being studiously left to fester so as to create the illusion that more powers are required.) What turns my stomach is the constant drip, drip, drip of criticism that feeds Scottish nationalism from those who are meant to be the home team.
So why are there reasons to be cheerful?
The SNP government goes from scandal to scandal, from calamity to calamity, and from failure to failure. Sadly the cost in poor services and shocking personal outcomes is born by the Scottish people. It could be worse; were Scotland to secede from the UK there would be added to the human cost of our failing education, healthcare, transport, housing, justice systems etc, the financial cost of those failures – a cost currently borne by the UK taxpayer, for which read essentially the only net contributors to the UK balance sheet, London and the South of England.
So bad is the roll call of SNP moral and administrative embarrassment that when Aberdeenshire political blogger, Effie Deans, published a list of 50 SNP scandals she received endless nominations of those she had still to mention. She is now on her third list bringing the total to 150 examples of ineptitude, bare-faced lying, troughing of the public purse, promises broken, immoral if not amoral behaviour, criminal convictions, and more. Political parties are composed of humans, and humans err, so no party is devoid of fools or knaves – but the SNP is taking Scottish exceptionalism to repugnant levels.
The First Minister is now in trouble. Deep trouble. And she displays this sub-consciously, but probably consciously knows it too. Her body language in response to probing questions on her lamentable Covid-19 mismanagement and the Salmond inquiry cannot be hidden. Her crossed arms, her impatient fidgeting, her distracted scowling eyes, and her bobbing head that has almost become a tick; it all gives her away.
Only yesterday Sturgeon, speaking about Alex Salmond, told Sophie Ridge on Sky that “The reason perhaps he is angry with me - and he clearly is angry with me - is that I didn't cover it up, I didn't collude with him to make these allegations go away.” What? Is the First Minister actually accusing her predecessor of asking her to help cover-up accusations? Is she saying he asked for that? That he implied that and expected that?
It may or not be true, I await Alex Salmond’s response with interest; and respond he must, for it is a serious accusation in plain sight by the leading public figure in Scotland.
The sudden remembering, or at least the sudden revealing, of such a revelation suggests there may well be more that Nicola Sturgeon had heard about her former mentor and promoter and has still yet to tell us. Again, Alex Salmond may well want to challenge Nicola Sturgeon’s memory. Nothing good for the SNP can come from this.
The difference with now and the SNP’s recent scandals is that the opposition is beginning to find its footing. In the last fortnight we have seen Ruth Davidson rediscover her mojo. Other MSPs and MPs are beginning to speak out more effectively too. Meanwhile George Galloway again swims in the Scottish political waters waiting to bite.
There are reasons to be cheerful.
All that is required is believing our people and our country are better than these secessionist scandals and failures – so we can pull together to improve our lives instead of perishing through division.
Brian Monteith is editor of ThinkScotland.org
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