Politics Matters

Sturgeon gives ‘wrong pre-scripted answer’ to SNP MSP’s question – The Herald

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NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of giving the “wrong pre-scripted answer” to a question from one of her own backbenchers for the second time in a week.

Scottish Conservative MSP Stephen Kerr raised a point of order in Holyrood following the apparent mistake.

It came after Ms Sturgeon responded to a question from SNP MSP Stuart McMillan about a public inquiry into the coronavirus crisis.

Instead of addressing the issue, the First Minister referred to Covid measures in the education sector.

On Wednesday last week, Ms Sturgeon made a similar mistake after a question from SNP MSP Stephanie Callaghan about NHS Lanarkshire.

The First Minister read out the answer to the next question due in Holyrood, from the SNP’s Evelyn Tweed, and later said there had been “confusion on my part”.

Raising a point of order today, Mr Kerr said: “Presiding Officer, for the second time in two weeks, the First Minister has read the wrong pre-scripted answer to her backbencher’s pre-scripted question.

“Stuart McMillan asked about the inquiry into the Scottish Government’s handling of the pandemic.

“The First Minister’s answer was all about schools.

“Can you, Presiding Officer, please advise as to what options there are to ensure that we hear an answer to the question that was actually asked?”

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The SNP and Alba conferences are over, so what have we learned? – The Scotsman

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Between the virtual SNP conference and that of the new Alba Party in Greenock town hall, the refrain went “anything you can do, I can do better, I can do anything better than you” – with a call and response of “no you can’t, yes I can” coming from Scottish nationalists, once comrades -in-arms, but now locked in a woad-stained battle.

From Keith Brown’s plea to members to “reach out” to No voters to Nicola Sturgeon’s referendum-heavy speech, the SNP conference played many of its greatest indy hits over again. Meanwhile members of the Alba Party congregated for their first conference in Greenock, flocking to the sound of Alex Salmond’s cry for freedom.

The parties may want the same outcome, but their approaches are wildly different. Ms Sturgeon has shifted her stance slightly and is appealing for “co-operation” rather than confrontation with the UK Government in her bid to ensure a second referendum can be held by her promised date of 2023.

She is pinning her hopes on the idea that Boris Johnson will be forced to move his position by the sheer force of democracy and the mandate she says the Scottish people gave her at the May election, when the SNP won a historic fourth term in government.

But there is an undercurrent of a harder-edged challenge from the First Minister.

Work on the “prospectus” or white paper on independence has restarted within the Scottish Government, and she has been clear to state that any vote will be “legal”, which raises the prospect of the whole situation ending up in court – and who knows whether it will be adjudged that such a vote without Westminster approval will indeed be legal.

The Alba Party, however, believe the SNP has been too slow for too long in its demands for independence and called the six years since the referendum “Groundhog Day”.

In his speech, Mr Salmond was scathing, telling delegates: “If you constantly march people up to the top of the hill and then down again, then you end up all singing Rule Britannia.”

Nicola Sturgeon branded ‘disgrace’ after heckling MSP over gender reforms – The Herald

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NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of trying to shut down debate about controversial gender reforms after telling an MSP who raised them he should be ashamed of himself.

Speaking about her new Gender Recognition Reform Bill on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon said she understood that “some have sincerely held concerns about” the proposed legislation.

However when Tory Murdo Fraser mentioned a protest by hundreds of women concerned about the “contentious” and “divisive” plan, Ms Sturgeon verbally attacked him for it.

The First Minister, who recently urged MSPs to “make an effort to disagree more civilly”, shouted “Shame on you!” across the Holyrood chamber.

Mr Fraser said the comment was “a disgrace” and accused Ms Sturgeon of dismissing the concerns of the women protesters involved.

It was sign of the increasing tensions at Holyrood over the legislation, which is intended to simplify the process of legally changing one’s gender through self-identification.

Obtaining a gender recognition certificate currently requires a medical diagnosis and takes at least two years.

The new law would remove the medical element and shorten the time to six months, relying on self-declaration in front of a notary public or a justice of the peace instead.

Opponents fear the move will see men who identify as women using single-sex spaces and services, such as refugees, some of whom may abuse the system to prey on women.

Last week around 400 people attended a Women’s Rights demo outside parliament at which the crowd booed mentions of Ms Sturgeon and the Greens, who also back the new law.

Sturgeon pushes for independence (again) – The Spectator

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t’s Groundhog Day in Holyrood. Amid criticisms about her administration’s underwhelming ‘Programme for Government,’ Nicola Sturgeon has returned to her favourite hobby house: Scottish independence. Much like ABBA’s reunion, the First Minister combined some new tunes with her greatest hits, declaring that May’s election was an ‘undeniable’ mandate for such a plebiscite by the end of 2023 ‘once the Covid-19 crisis is passed’.

Steerpike is not surprised at Sturgeon’s choice of priorities, preferring to have her civil servants devote their energies to indyref2 rather than letting Scots take their masks off when sat on a train. The SNP and its acolytes have had no compunction in undermining the Union at every opportunity throughout the pandemic; a strategy that has been great for poll numbers but has led to almost half of Europe’s top 20 Covid-19 hotspots being located in Scotland.

Much more noteworthy is the lack of interest in Sturgeon’s announcement. Westminster was admittedly distracted with Boris Johnson’s tax shenanigans but even north of the border there was a far more muted reaction to the First Minister’s pronouncements then her previous statements. The Scottish editions of both the Times and Daily Telegraph for instance relegated the news on their front to a nib; BBC Scotland similarly buried the announcement on its homepage.

Leaked internal report reveals SNP ‘overwhelmed’ by member complaints – GuidoFox

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A bombshell internal report written by SNP Deputy Leader Keith Brown has revealed the dire state of the party’s internal affairs: not only does the report suggest creating a new financial scrutiny committee to “restore confidence” in the SNP’s financial governance, it also shows that party has been “overwhelmed” by the volume of member complaints over harassment and impropriety since 2014. Presumably keeping their new ‘complaints adviser’ busy, then…

The report goes into great detail to explain how “recent controversies concerning the party’s finances” (in other words, how a £600,000 referendum war chest seemingly vanished into thin air) have “inevitably raise[d] questions about the SNP’s financial governance”, and recommends creating a more formal financial governance structure that “encourages good financial practices, [and] has the potential to pick up any irregularities”. Which is useful, because the party’s auditors have already washed their hands of that responsibility.

It also says that the party’s “current complaints-handling procedures have themselves resulted in a real dissatisfaction [and] lack of trust” amongst the membership, and that the Governance Review Group often failed to act on incidences of abuse despite repeated warnings from within the party. Considering 1 in 5 SNP MPs has either recently quit, or been sacked, investigated or suspended, perhaps the Governance Review Group has just had its hands full…

Scotnitive dissonance: Scotland’s other pandemic – Think Scotland

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IN To A Louse, Robert Burns laments “O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us, To see oursels as ithers see us!”, which, roughly translated, means that it is a shame that we can’t see ourselves as other people do, faults and all.

Given that, thankfully, in the last 334 years both farming technology and poetry have come a long way, this presents the opportunity for Scotland to update this charming little maxim because it’s needed now more than ever before.

In fact, rather than seeing ourselves as other people do, we should settle for the slightly less lofty goal of seeing ourselves as we actually are because there is a huge gap in our arrogant perception of ourselves versus the uncomfortable, destructive, and harmful reality of modern Scotland.

Scotland is in the grip of a condition I’ve come to call, Scotnitive Dissonance… and it’s hurting us.

You will have heard the claim before, surely? It first came to my attention during the debates, speaking engagements, and other such events I took part in during the 2014 independence referendum. Representing, it will come as no surprise, the NO side, I often heard about how much more “progressive” Scotland is compared with the rest of the United Kingdom and that, my interlocutors would insist, was grounds for Scotland to go it alone.

Those claims have, from what I can tell, gotten louder since 2014. Their 2021 updated versions usually comes accompanied by pointing to the electoral success of the SNP, an essay on whose ‘talk’ versus ‘act’ difference could also be another 1000 words or so, and their new ‘not a coalition’ partners in the Scottish Greens. Proponents of the ‘Scotland’s just more progressive’ line also regularly point out that Scotland overwhelmingly voted to stay in the European Union which, I hasten to point out, is a crass over-simplification given the strength of the left-wing, Tony Benn school, of Euroscepticism. It’s a simple failure of reasoning that takes no notice of things in practice.

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