The UK vaccine rollout has been in the world’s top five. And for all its recent troubles, AstraZeneca has shown in real-world tests to be every bit as effective as suggested in trials.

‘Scotland has fallen victim to the nationalist playbook, divide and conquer. Our traditional left-right politics of arguing how best to improve opportunity and make good the lives of those who struggle has been replaced by a tawdry battle of Yes and No.’

Eyes on the prize. Sadly such is the state of our politics at present that the prize is not addressing our shattered economy or putting our education system back on its feet. It is simply preventing an outright nationalist Government in the next Scottish Parliament. Scotland has fallen victim to the nationalist playbook, divide and conquer. Our traditional left-right politics of arguing how best to improve opportunity and make good the lives of those who struggle has been replaced by a tawdry battle of Yes and No.

The Scotland we are fighting over was ironically created by the Union, pulled together from the clans that had fought each other at the Battle of Shirts and later at Culloden along with competing lowland interests.

Our Scotland which thrived under the Union and punched way above our weight in the global successes and politics of the centuries.

We speak of the Union dividend as not one simply of money but of culture, of family, of shared interest.

The nationalists recognise none of this, they snarl with anger and contempt at the idea of pooled resource. They send angry missives about stolen oil as they drive down the roads and cross the bridges that it built.

They pronounce themselves kinder, more respectful and more civic as they renounce Scots Tories as scum, brand Labour as Red Tories and demand the English leave Scotland – and nowhere are those voices of bitter contempt louder than in the First Minister’s city of Glasgow, where the SNP has delivered austerity and deprivation.

It is their model for a future Scotland.

Eyes on the prize, for the nationalists the prize is the destruction of the Union and thus far they have played that game well. They have changed the devolution settlement from a Scottish Parliament running the country’s once proud public services into an outpost of opposition to the rest of Britain, neglecting our education and welfare while taking ownership of our flag and turning us against ourselves.

They have rewritten history to pit England against Scotland and used Holyrood to deepen division with false claims of assaults on our rights and freedoms by the United Kingdom.

So sophisticated has their campaign of destruction been that truth and lies are now interwoven not only in politics but in our Civil Service and Judiciary.

Such is their success that they hold 59 out of 73 constituency seats in a total of 129 and have used this power base to manipulate their minority support into a sense of overwhelming control.

Eyes on the prize, for unionists there is a sense of growing frustration and anger. Politics is a numbers game and our side has fallen victim to the tactics of division.

We are the majority acting like a minority because we are still divided by our traditional left-right politics. Labour would rather vote with the SNP then support the Conservatives.

Whilst Anas Sarwar talks of healing, he rejects any meaningful options to work with the other parties.

Douglas Ross offers the hand of friendship with the confidence of knowing it will be rejected.

Neither man wants to face asking their candidates to stand aside, and no candidate is willingly offering.

Meanwhile, Willie Rennie urges his supporters to stick with them knowing they will not come anywhere near winning most of the seats but instead ensuring a unionist party doesn’t.

They all urge ‘use both votes for us’ whilst the nationalists titter with glee at the easy pickings. Alex Salmond has joined the fray. But this is merely a distraction because whilst everyone haggles over the list and argues about the vote split the prize is being forgotten.

Eyes on the prize, 73 first past the post constituency seats, 59 of which currently give the nationalists their power base; it’s the reason they control the parliament even as a minority Government. If the unionist parties place all their hopes on mere survival through the 56 list seats, they are playing to lose.

To beat nationalism the major pro-union parties need to take the constituency seats and their focus and worry about the list is simply a taste of their strategic defeat.

It will take more than this election to achieve but they should be making that start now. None of them alone can take on the rise of nationalism, they need each other. Instead egos and self interest have become the order of the day.

So the voters must decide. If their eyes are on the prize, then unionists will look at which unionist party can win their local constituency and vote for them without reservation. You can then vote for whom ever you want on the list vote and maybe, just maybe Holyrood will become what was intended, a coalition of parties whose eyes are on the prize. The prize of a Scotland with local decision making in the interests of the people, with the benefit of the union dividend.

(https://thecritic.co.uk/issues/april-2021/how-to-scotch-independence/)

If the Scottish National Party does well enough in the elections on 6 May, the UK Supreme Court may soon become the focus of public attention once again. At stake will be nothing less than the future of the United Kingdom. The SNP is committed to holding a second referendum on independence for Scotland. The 2014 vote — which rejected independence by 55 to 45 per cent — had the blessing of the UK government. This one will not.

Unlike its Westminster progenitor, the Scottish parliament has limited powers. Any act of the Scottish parliament that “relates to” the “Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England” is outside its legislative competence. That’s one of a number of matters that were reserved to UK legislators by the Scotland Act 1998.

How, then, was an independence referendum possible? Section 30 of the act allows the Westminster government to modify reserved functions. Ministers simply made a temporary order allowing Scotland to vote in 2014. Well, say the SNP, we’d like another of those section 30 orders, please. And if Boris Johnson refuses? We’ll pass the legislation anyway — and dare you to challenge it.

That’s where the Supreme Court comes in. Whenever the Scottish parliament passes legislation, the attorney general has four weeks to ask the court whether it was within the legislature’s competence. The Supremes are surely bound to conclude that — in the absence of a section 30 order — Scottish legislation authorising an independence referendum is of no effect.

Families who lost loved ones to Covid have again urged Nicola Sturgeon to set a date for a public inquiry into the official handling of the pandemic.

A campaign group was disappointed when, in a meeting with the first minister, she refused to commit to a timetable and suggested a UK-wide public inquiry was still her preferred option.

Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice fear seeking a four-nations approach means nothing will happen for months despite a parliamentary vote for an immediate public inquiry in November.

Alan Wightman, of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, whose mother Helen died of coronavirus in a Fife care home, said: “The first minister said she will try again to get a four-nations approach but if she can’t get that she will commit to going for an inquiry in Scotland only. I was floored. I wasn’t expecting that.

“I reminded her of the vote in parliament in November for an immediate inquiry and that Health Secretary Jeane Freeman already tried for a four nations approach and didn’t get it.

“A four-nations approach is doomed from the start. Why would you waste time on that when you know the answer is going to be no?”

Scotland has the highest coronavirus infection rate in the UK, according to the latest national figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) test positivity figures show that while infections have levelled off in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Scotland’s infection rate has increased over the past two weeks.

It is estimated one in 240 people in Scotland has the Covid infection.

It comes as West Lothian reports a significant spike in cases.

A Scottish parliamentary committee has concluded that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon misled parliament.

Sky News understands that Holyrood’s harassment committee has reached the conclusion by a majority vote ahead of the publication of its final report.

Members have decided that Ms Sturgeon misled the committee itself and, as such, misled parliament and potentially breached the ministerial code of conduct.

Scotland would still be in the “vice-like grip” of coronavirus if it had followed SNP advice on vaccinations, a UK Government minister has claimed.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack hailed the vaccination programme against the virus as being a success for the UK.

He insisted: “Had we followed the SNP’s advice on vaccines and waited for the flat-footed EU, we would still be in the vice-like grip of the pandemic instead of confidently looking forward to better days.

“There can be no more eloquent expression of the success of the Union than this brilliant UK-wide approach.”

The UK, Mr Jack said, has developed a “Covid-19 vaccination programme that is the envy of the world”.

He described this as being as a “truly astonishing achievement” and on a “scale that dwarfs anything since the war”.

© Scotland Matters