‘Stronger for Scotland’ seems to be the mantra that the SNP have been chanting to themselves, drone-like, for every election since 2014. But are they? I certainly don’t feel that they have been particularly ‘Stronger for Scotland’ really. Perhaps ‘louder’ for Scotland or ‘divisive’ for Scotland or ‘angrier’ for Scotland, but certainly not stronger.

We are now into the second decade of SNP government in Scotland, so have they been some species of Tartan Titan that has rid us of all our ills? Have they maintained our world-renowned educational standards, unified the nation behind their policies, strived for cross-party cooperation, made Scotland a better, freer and more friendly place to live?

In the words of Music mogul and high waisted trouser wearer Simon Cowell, ‘It’s a no from me’. 

The elephant in the room for most of us is still the debate over Scottish independence. Despite the once in a generation promise, its pervasive influence can be felt by all of us all. Despite the price of oil plummeting, despite brexit, despite covid-19 and despite the fact that there is no demand for one, the SNP are still determined to hold indyref2 at some point in the near future. Only the most zealous and irrational of nationalists even want to see a rerun of 2014 anytime soon. No one else does.

For me, this will be the sole legacy of the SNP. You can forget about their policies on public health such as the smoking ban and charging people for plastic bags, both policies that I agreed with. The only legacy they will have for a majority of Scots will be the gaping divide in Scottish society that they intentionally created and have never made an attempt to cauterise. They are quite happy for this wound to bleed as long as it gets them votes. The concerns of the nation are secondary. 

Even the way that we vote now reflects the ‘Ulsterisation’ of Scotland’s political and cultural landscape. Identity politics is now the new normal in Scotland and identity politics is far more tribal and personal than the old left-right dichotomy that existed a decade ago. Just look at the examples of nationalists destroying signs from other political parties. This just didn’t happen a decade ago. The SNP have let loose an army of zealots, armed them with ideological weapons and sent them into battle. Now they have gone rogue and are more of a liability, but they can’t just be marched back into barracks anymore. 

Unfortunately, Scotland is now riddled with such insidious nationalism. I have previously written about how Scotland has been transformed into a country that I no longer recognise in a remarkably short space of time. In the years since I wrote that article, my fears have not been allayed. Their assault on the British Transport police and the proposed merger with Police Scotland is purely politically motivated and is actually putting public safety at risk according to the British Transport Police themselves. It makes sense to have an integrated and specialist transport police. Transport networks tend to cross regions and have different emergencies and scenarios from ‘regular’ policing. I expect if they were originally known as the ‘Scottish Transport police’ the merger wouldn’t be going ahead.

Have the SNP fared any better on the cultural arena? At the Edinburgh Fringe in the last couple of years, I could see no satire on the SNP. I thought this was odd. There was certainly much satire on the other political parties along with a smattering of the usual street ‘performance’ (Why no, I don’t want to watch a gritty urban-feminist retelling of A Tale of Two Cities set in Shoreditch). Why are the SNP above this? Well, apart from the fact that satire is a distinctly British form of humour and a way of sticking two fingers up at the establishment, this quote sums up the cultural situation in Scotland up:

Culture and education are being weaponised by political voices. There is collusion between some artists and writers and some political journalists. One of the most prominent, Joyce McMillan of the Scotsman, claimed during the referendum campaign that she knew very few Scottish artists (or was it none at all?) who supported the continuation of the UK. But it is not only journalists who are cosy with our politically driven writers; It is government ministers too. A row erupted a few years ago after teachers expressed anxieties that the then education minister was interfering in the curriculum to force pupils to study more Scottish, rather than English literature. Teachers were complaining that they were being railroaded into abandoning Shakespeare and Dickens in favour of ‘dire’ modern Scottish works. (https://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/08/tartan-ing-arts/ )

In much the same way that the second Iraq War has now soured the achievements of Labour under Tony Blair, the SNP is leaving a similar poisonous legacy in their monomaniacal obsession with independence and letting their more corrosive and controlling instincts dictate cultural policy.

What about their impact on everyday life? The SNP are well on their way to destroying the link between taxation, responsibility and the notion of a service being ‘free’ at the point of delivery. You can now have a baby in Scotland and not even prepare for it. You don’t even have to make the effort to buy its first romper or pack of nappies anymore. Even its first book is provided by the Scottish Government. This isn’t as, Nicola Sturgeon says, a ‘strong signal of our determination that every child, regardless of their circumstances, should get the best start in life’, it seems like a gross dereliction of duty as a parent to me. 

In an interesting side note and related to the SNP controlling culture, every baby box comes with a poem, written in ‘Scots’ by the Makar: 

O ma darlin wee one
At last you are here in the wurld
And wi’ aa your wisdom
Your een bricht as the stars,
You’ve filled this hoose with licht,
Yer trusty wee haun, your globe o’ a heid,
My cherished yin, my hert’s ain!
O my darlin wee one
The hale wurld welcomes ye:
The mune glowes; the hearth wairms.
Let your life hae luck, health, charm,
Ye are my bonny blessed bairn,
My small miraculous gift.
I never kent luve like this. 

I’ll just leave that there. You’re intelligent enough to draw your own conclusion(The above two paragraphs nearly made my spellchecker have a meltdown as well).

Related to this erosion of personal responsibility, even for your own offspring, allow me to relate a short anecdote. I was in the local pharmacy looking to buy some anti-histamine. Like many ‘on the shelf’ drugs they were very cheap and I was working full time. I didn’t mind paying for them. Upon approaching the counter the pharmacist gently accosted me and said, ‘Why are you paying for these, just go to the doctor, you’ll get them for free’. And there was the SNP economic and social philosophy all in one short sentence. 

They’re not entirely responsible for this, but they have to take a good portion of the blame. And this is now where you get accusations of being a ‘torriee’ in Scotland or a ‘red torie’ now. The SNP have distorted politics so much that large swathes of the population now consider everything they get as being ‘free’. They have been blinkered to the hard work of their fellow citizens, the corporations that are domiciled in the UK that pay about £68 billion a year from corporation tax (Yes, I know corporate tax avoidance is an issue) and business rates and who also employ people who pay tax and NI as well. 

For example, the minor ailments service in NHS Scotland dispensed 463,949 prescription of paracetamol and 151,475  prescriptions of ibuprofen in 2015/16. Surely these are the types of medication that shouldn’t be provided by the state? I’m glad that the majority of us wouldn’t even waste the doctors time, but clearly many in Scotland now consider it their right to be provided with a ridiculously cheap drug that can be bought at a local corner shop for the price of a chocolate bar.

Ironically, Scotland under the SNP spends almost £15 billion per year more than it generates in tax, and the SNP are in the perverse and frankly ludicrous situation of destroying and denigrating the union that makes all their ‘freebies’ possible in the first place. 

They are also equally bi-polar when it comes to the relationship with Europe. Quite how the 60 million people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are ‘foreign’ to me, despite sharing the same philosophical, religious, cultural and linguistic background as me, but the European Union is not, is difficult to comprehend. 

Now let’s look at the education system in Scotland. It used to be world-renowned. Second to none. It still is, particularly in the fields of medicine and law. To look at a roll call of Scottish inventors is to look at men who created much of the modern world:  Alexander Graham Bell, John Logie Baird, Alexander Flemming, Kirkpatrick Macmillan (Inventor of the pedal bike. That might not seem like much, but no other invention has allowed people to travel as far and as cheaply) James Goodfellow (Inventor of the technology behind the PIN code and ATM). In science and philosophy,  Scotland produced such luminaries as James Watt, James Clerk Maxwell, Adam Smith and David Hume. 

Well, according to The Programme for International Student Assessment, Scotlands  Overall, education ranking has dropped from 11th to 23rd for reading since 2006, from 11th to 24th for maths and from 10th to 19 for science. Often, these damning statistics are exacerbated by bureaucracy and the constant chasing of ‘outcomes’ that teachers must achieve rather than actually educating children. The fact that education spending fell by 8% in 2010-2014 in Scotland, despite rising in England won’t have helped either. For a party that seems so utterly obsessed with children, this seems a bit of an oversight. 

As David Hume once said ‘a wise man proportions his belief to the evidence’ and on this basis, Salmond’s and Sturgeons Scotland is a disaster or if I’m in a less belligerent mood; it hasn’t lived up to the lofty ideals set out by the SNP. 

To be fair this was always going to be a tall order. If the SNP are to believed Scotland should have been a utopia by now after ten years of their glorious and benevolent leadership. Of course, the usual tired platitudes of it being ‘Wastemonster’, Tories, Brexit, Thatcher, The Union, or anything else that it’s politically prudent to blame will be thrown around, but they have to take the largest share of the blame.

If Scotlands’ issues are long term and endemic then say so and manage expectations better. There was some movement in this direction, with the First Minster stating that Scottish independence is no ‘magic solution’, but it looks like she has been backsliding on this since then.

So have the SNP been stronger for Scotland? Allow me to give the SNP the same decision that I made in 2014: No. 

How confident would you be to go against the grain in Sturgeon’s Scotland? What if you said something mildly controversial? Or flippantly shared a meme on social media? You’d be lying if you said ‘yes, totally confident here’, especially if you are employed in the public or third sector.  

The SNP’s most mesmerising confidence trick is to somehow portray themselves as the anti-establishment political party de jure. Usually in direct contrast to what they perceive as the crumbling edifice of the traditional Victorian Ancien Regime in Westminster. Holyrood, however, is the Aquinian city on a hill, post-modern, with a post-modern, third-way party at the helm. 

To be anti-establishment requires the ability to speak freely, question and, yes, on occasion, say something controversial to move the discussion forward, shine a light on a prickly subject or just to poke fun at it, something that the SNP is starting to deny to us to serve their political ends and narrative.

Instead, in Scotland, we are offered the bland smorgasbord of inane, tick-box, state-sanctioned, cookie-cutter opinions of the SNP with no deviation from their norm. Even worse is the selective picking of narratives because the SNP unquestioningly agree with them to the point where the degree of consensus and moral certitude within the party is ludicrous and I believe can only be enforced by a dangerously hierarchical leadership at the helm. 

Recently, incidents in George Square have illustrated this. On the 17th of June, there was a counter-protest against Black Lives Matter and No Evictions Glasgow, caused by the mere discussion of the removal of statues from this location, probably exacerbated by the languid ‘covid malaise’ that we are all under at the moment. However, the First Minister and her collegial cohorts were quick to tweet that the counter-protesters were mere ‘thugs’ rather than perhaps discussing that they might, as a group, have a genuine grievance and feel that their history and identity was perhaps under threat? Some of the silent majority in the nation may even have a degree of sympathy with them, but to say so would be heresy and mean banishment for an SNP politician

However, those protesting for Black Lives Matter and No Evictions Glasgow were encouraged to ‘make your voice heard’, albeit online if possible, according to the First Minister’s supportive Tweet. One group’s cause is universally perceived as an absolute moral ‘good’ that is beyond questioning, the other group is hobbled, sidelined, criminalised and their views cannot even be discussed and are essentially ‘no-platformed’ by the Scottish Government

Elements of the state with a modicum of independence, such as the Scottish Police Federation, do fight back from time to time. In a letter to the Scottish Government, they were taken to task for their blatantly hypocritical attitude to the two groups of protestors from opposite ends of the political spectrum for this one issue: ‘The public cannot expect the police service to turn a blind eye to those who break the law in the name of a particular cause whilst demanding different treatment for opponents’.

Nicola’s SNP colleagues further reinforced the narrative:

Not only is the SNP policing certain opinions in our civic spaces, but their tendrils have also reached social media in Scotland as well. This is equally worrying, given that it was supposedly going to be the one place where freedom of speech could romp free in the electronic sunlit uplands, unbound by constraints. 

I was first aware of this change, when Mark Meechan, aka Youtuber Count Dankula, made a video of himself training his girlfriend’s pug to do a Nazi salute and was convicted in a Scottish court of ‘inciting racial hatred’. Was the joke in bad taste? Yes. Was it funny? No, not really. Should it have gone to court? Absolutely not.

Recently, Police Scotland have been investigating people for doing the ‘George Floyd Challenge’. Worryingly, one person was allegedly reported for this after posting to Snapchat, a social media site which is more like a messenger service rather than Facebook. Again, utterly tasteless, but should a private joke have gone so far to involve law enforcement and potential ruination of someone’s career and life? No. 

The proposed Hate Crime Bill (Currently at Stage 1 in the Scottish Parliament legislative process) would further enhance the Scottish Government to become an aggressive regulator of its citizen’s free speech and introduce a whole suite of new offences, including possession of material only likely to engender hatred. Of course, the level of offence is dependent on the person viewing the material in the first place, which is a dangerous precedent to begin with considering some people need content/trigger warnings now before watching a  TV show.

Indeed, we’re almost in the realm of ‘pre-crime’ here, not unlike the dystopian 2002 film Minority Report, where a group of ‘precogs’ could witness criminal activity before it could even happen and a team would arrest the perpetrator even though no crime had been committed. 

Doing some research for this article reminded me of something. There has been a meme circulating for some time called ‘NPC’. NPC is a term borrowed from computer gaming and is short for ‘non-player character’. These are characters that you can interact with within a game and they respond with a limited, staid, scripted response, placed there by the developers. Not capable of anything else because they have never been programmed for anything else.

This is the SNP and their politicians now; certain subjects will be met with a standardised response and are viewed as a total benefit to society even if almost nothing truly can be in this messy, overly globalised society we live in. I expect that if you provided an SNP politician with evidence that uncontrolled immigration is not an unqualified good all of the time in all of the places or that people should sometimes be responsible for feeding their children for six weeks a year, they would just blink at you like an automaton waiting for input from its master, unable to respond, much like an NPC in a computer game, while spouting the same scripted response when you try to interact with it.

These proposed rigid laws and social policing of thought, stifle us all and in the long term will benefit no one, as what is happening at the moment is merely the thin end of the wedge and pressure groups have a horrible tendency towards mission creep as they tick off objectives and never disband due to their internal inertia.

But the arbitrariness of how the SNP support and nurture certain causes, while utterly condemning others, which at the very least, will contain a kernel of genuine concern is a damning indictment of their narrowness of vision and inability to see nuance and puts paid to their biggest lie: that they represent all of Scotland, not just the societal segments that they ideologically agree with.

Level 0 – Nearly Normal: You are a fairly normal human being. You vote along party political lines but are not overly attached to one political system. People do not avoid you. You use social media for light-hearted entertainment, staying in touch with family and sharing memes. You can be in the company of fifteen people from five households and not bore them to death.

Level 1 – First Warning Signs: You start to think Janey Godley is funny on occasion while still conceding her material is more ‘miss’ than ‘hit’.

Level 2 – Whit aboot Scotland?: Lingering and persistent thoughts of ‘oor oil’ materialise in your everyday thinking. SNP policies seem attractive even though they appear unanchored from the real world of economics and society. You seem to think that Scotland is underrepresented and powerless, despite having 59 seats in Westminster and a devolved parliament. Somehow you think you were part of the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745, despite missing the events by well over 250 years.

Level 3 – Obsession with Flags: You avoid buying everyday products that have the ‘butchers apron’ on them, and refuse to purchase a product because of imagined ‘human rights abuses’ in contemporary England, while willfully ignoring them in other parts of the world. Persistent thoughts of oppression and persecution are normalised. You may have boycotted Tunnocks and Markies within the last three months for some slight upon Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon could burn a kitten in a chrome bucket and there’s a 73% chance you would still vote SNP regardless.

Level 4 – Nationalist: You are an active participatory member of Facebook sites such as ‘How can it be treason when England is a foreign country’. Every other political party are henceforth known as the ‘Tories’ even though they could be at the opposite end of the political spectrum from the actual Conservative Party. You can only really meet with people of a similar political outlook, outside. That’s not a government guideline; it’s because no one else can be bothered with you.

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Covid-19 virus particle, DRFUFE-78, has spoken exclusively to Scotland Matters about its experiences of being infected with Margaret Ferrier: “It was fun at first, I mean I got to visit Parliament, was taken all about London, got my hair done in a beauty salon, met some police officers. Honestly, I was having the time of life. I met so many interesting people.

Margaret even made a short speech about me. I was honoured. And that train journey; I mean, wow, such beautiful scenery. You really appreciate this small island at times like that. Can’t believe I got to do it twice either”.  “But I started feeling woozy, I had a fever. I was delirious. I was speaking a weird ‘scoddish’ dialect and started thinking that Westminster was stealing all my money and blaming the English for all my problems.

I had no grasp of basic financial concepts like taxation. I felt that I couldn’t speak out against SNP policy and considering I’m a strand of genetic material in a fatty shell, this was quite an achievement”.  DRFUFE-78 went on to say: “The experiences of Margaret Ferrier infection should not be underestimated. I still have mild symptoms like increased hypocrisy and refusal to resign from my position. So stay home, stay safe. Margaret Ferrier is still around”.

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Given the number of budget cuts in a proposed, post-independence Scotland the proposed Scottish Navy is to be drastically reduced in size and capability to one angry Glaswegian in a canoe.

Scottish Defence Expert, Jenson Downie, at the Brigadoon Institute for Scottish Studies said: ‘HMSS Independence can be deployed on both the Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Forth within ninety minutes or however long it takes the ‘man in a van’ to drive from Greenock to Leith. Once we sort out the insurance he can patrol the oil rigs in the North Sea as well, thus protecting our oil’. 

‘Once in the water, he can move at a steady one-knot pace along the coastline, refuelling at the nearest ‘Blue Lagoon’ chippy. 

‘When the Scottish Government gets the deficit sorted out we are hoping to get him a bigger canoe, with a double-ended paddle thus giving the Navy both a ‘brown’ and ‘blue’ water capability’.

‘We expect any amphibious assault to met with the threat to ‘kick their c#nts in’ delivered in ever-increasing salvos until the enemy retreats in disarray from the beachhead’.

‘Those two Royal Navy aircraft carriers with a complement of cutting edge F-35 combat aircraft, bristling with hi-tech weaponry were overrated anyway’.

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At a recent Scottish Government finance meeting, in an attempt to reduce the £15 billion deficit that Scotland would have as an independent nation, the SNP have struck upon a plan that can only be described as ‘groundbreaking’, paradigm-shifting’, ‘revolutionary’ and the very definition of ‘blue-sky’, ‘out of the box’ thinking.

Finance Minister Kate Forbes said, ‘After reading about that sheep that was sold for £350,000, I thought, that’s it!! What a moneymaker!! You can forget ever-decreasing oil revenue, bi-lateral trade with rUK and applying for EU membership’.

‘All Scotland needs to do to clear the deficit is to sell a couple of million of these sheep. I couldn’t work out the exact number, I’m not that great at mental arithmetic, but at £350,000 a pop, you can’t go wrong’.

‘I’ve been speaking with my SNP colleague, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon about how to breed sheep. She’s as knowledgeable about animal husbandry as I’am about Finance. She said that sheep bud off each other like yeast cells. This will stick it to Westminster’.

‘Wail until Nicola hears about this idea’.

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[PLEASE NOTE THIS IS A WORK OF SATIRE AND DOES NOT REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF SCOTLAND MATTERS]

Nicola Sturgeon is now denying the entire existence of her predecessor Alex Salmond in an attempt to save the SNP from further embarrassment.

When questioned on this she responded: ‘I can categorically say that I have never seen this man in my life. I have absolutely no idea who he is. I don’t even think he was a member of the SNP, not that I can keep track of these things. You should ask my husband, he deals with membership enquiries’.

However, an image of the two of them together during the independence referendum in 2014 seemed to jog her memory. ‘Oh, yeah. I met him once. Big guy, liked golf if I remember correctly. Enjoyed swinging that club. Fed that young woman an ice lolly in Stirling. He did some contractor work for the SNP. Bit of public speaking. Contributed a few pages to ‘Scotland’s Future’, those sorts of things. That was all though. Why?’  

On being shown evidence that she was, in fact, his deputy from 2007 – 2014 and her party owes the bulk of electorate success to the man, she tersely responded: ‘Look, I worked under him, er, I mean with him for a couple of years. So what. Apart from almost daily contact, deputising for him during absences, constant meetings, being considered his political protege, inevitable successor and taking his job in 2014, I barely knew him at all’. 

Following on from the formation of the Scotland for Independence party, the rats in Nicola Sturgeon’s run-down Glasgow Southside constituency have decided to throw their weight behind the independence movement and form their own progressive pro-independence party called ‘Fur for a Left European Alba’, or F.L.E.A. for short.

F.L.E.A Spokerat, Stuart Templeton, said: ‘Well, the rotting garbage, old couches, spoiled food and grime of SNP run Glasgow Southside are a paradise for us and Scotland isn’t even independent yet. Imagine what we could do when we finally break free from the iron boot of Westminster that has held us back for so long. Just think about what we can achieve. We have a broad range of policies and will be campaigning on a policy of free, non-means-tested rotting food for all rats and a 50%+1 referendum on the removal of all cats from the local area’. 

‘For this reason, we wholeheartedly support the cause of Scottish independence and are hoping to pick up a few ‘list’ seats at the Holyrood election in 2021’.

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[PLEASE NOTE THIS IS A WORK OF SATIRE AND DOES NOT REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF SCOTLAND MATTERS]

With the recent fiasco over exam results continuing and the Scottish Government’s recent u-turn, Education Secretary John Swinney has said: ‘With the current recession, constant and endemic underemployment, and after nearly fifteen years of economic, social and cultural regression in Scotland under the SNP, I and my parliamentary colleagues thought it would be best to control the expectations of the next generation before it’s too late’. 

‘To this end, we have taken the hard decision to mark down pupils for living in the wrong postcode area or ones that want to become doctors, that sort of thing. I mean seriously, look at what we have done since 2007. Unfortunately, we can’t allow the next generation to have thoughts like coming of age in a functioning society with a broad-based economy and functioning services, at least not with us in charge’. 

Grade A pupil, Jasmine Knox, who was scheduled to get 6A’s but was marked down for living in Motherwell, said ‘I was meant to go to the University of Glasgow to study medicine, but the way the SNP is running the NHS, I don’t suppose it would have mattered anyway’.  

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Due to the highly successful and uncontroversial release of their facemasks, the SNP have decided to start selling their own brand of unique coffins.

Available in ‘canary yellow’, ‘Yes Saltire blue’, ‘MacDiarmid White Rose’ and ‘Tartan’ the coffins are also lined with headlines from The National and stocked with copies of former SNP election manifestos from 1970 – 2017. The deluxe version also has a direct link to voter registration for the discerning indy supporter who wants to cast their vote for the SNP in any forthcoming elections. 

SNP Brand Manager and Literature Officer, Odhran Fulton, said: ‘Given the amazing success of our Facemasks, the SNP funeral casket seemed the next big evolution of our political brand for the freedom-loving Scot. Being dead isn’t an excuse to stop supporting indyref2. The dream will never die, even if you do’.

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