First, my thanks to everyone who’s read or, especially, commented on my blog posts in a year of turmoil for the world. The problems of Scotland, whatever your point of view, seem pathetically small by comparison.
Still, blogging about Scottish politics in a post-referendum era is what I do and here are my ten most-read blog posts of 2016 for your edification.
The most-read post of the year was Jiggery-pokery of the highest order – the SNP’s ‘National Survey’, a delusional act of data-collection dressed up as consultation. Phoney in every respect, it started life as a summer of wooing of ‘No’ voters – see below – to be led by a shortly-to-be-disgraced Stewart Hosie MP (a bit too much extra-mural hochmagandy in the fleshpots of Westminster) and ended up censured by the office of the data commissioner, not the first time the party’s been in trouble for how they (mis-)handle personal data.
Second most-read was Map expert Monaghan strikes again. I’ve had a go at Paul Monaghan SNP MP on various occasions (just search for his surname at the top right of the page). This was him at his batty best, complaining about the BBC TV weather map, ignorant of the entire concept of map projections. A one-man grievance machine, he emerges blinking into the wintry light of his Caithness constituency occasionally from the TV studios of Russia Today, Vladimir Putin’s propaganda news channel he’s so fond of.
The third most-read part of the No Thanks blog was a whole page of diary-style entries, A month of being wooed. It was my test back in May of how the SNP were shaping up for that summer of wooing that never happened. How were they trying to convince the majority of their fellow-citizens that they should join them in their march towards a radiant future of freedom? It started with a pre-disgraced Stewart Hosie playing the old SNP trick of accusing the party’s critics of ‘talking Scotland down.’ Along the way sundry SNP luminaries and ordinary members subjected Scots to a selection of lies, self-delusion and outright abuse. A rough wooing indeed. It ended with Hosie opining that ‘the demographics’ were with nationalism because ‘Memories fade and people die.’ Thanks Stew.
Back in January I wrote a piece In praise of Kevin Hague … and a note on cybernats. It was prompted by Hague’s besting in a radio interview of the acerbic (I’m being polite) nationalist blogger and online fundraiser Stuart Campbell a.k.a. ‘Wings.’ Campbell’s reaction on Twitter prompted a torrent of abuse from his supporters. The problem is Hague speaks the truth, especially about matters economic, and they can’t cope with it. It got me thinking about cybernats and their characteristics and this post was the result.
An old post from August 2015, Is this SNP MP threatening a journalist?, gained new traction during the year when its question about whether SNP MP John Nicolson had threatened an STV journalist turned out to be prescient. Nicolson was clearly a man with a long memory because his plotting (if it was that) bore fruit when the journalist concerned was dumped by STV in August 2016. He was joined in his machinations by his colleague Pete Wishart. Although my subsequent posts about the subject didn’t make my Top Ten, you can see them, beginning here, Bullies or cowards or what? The SNP and the media, and then in posts on 21 and 23 August.
The SNP survey (see above) cropped up again more than once, including in Is someone telling porkies? The SNP ‘National Survey’ response, where I questioned (I still do) whether the party had really received the two million responses to it that they claimed. It’s frankly unbelievable. Since my doubts and those of other people were raised about that number they’ve gone suspiciously quiet about the subject and I expect to hear nothing more of the claim.
SNP launches insidious propaganda aimed at secondary school students expressed my scepticism about material the party made available in the run-up to the Holyrood elections. [Reminder: the SNP lost seats and now form a minority government] The evidence for my scepticism is in the post and pretty strong it was too.
Light-hearted or not, depending on your point of view, I wrote in April On the etymology of the word ‘yoon’. My conclusion? ‘Put bluntly yoon is an insult and is meant to be.’ See if you agree.
In May Two curious immigration cases – the Australian family and the Bangladeshi slaves came to my attention. The case of the Brain family combined special pleading by the SNP on behalf of two SNP-supporting Australians with the demonisation of the (in this case quite reasonable) Home Office. It rumbled on for a while, just search for ‘Brain’, and will continue to do so.
Finally, in July, I wrote about What decent English people should know about the SNP. It was a response to one of those periodical bouts of naivety about Scottish nationalism that has some English people thinking ‘Ooh, it would be nice to have them down here.’ Trust me, it wouldn’t. The old saying about wolves in sheeps’ clothing is all you need to know.
I’m sometimes accused, wrongly, by the occasional nationalist of hating the SNP/Scotland, being negative and so on. But this is what political life is like in Scotland now and it’s what people respond to, hence the most-read posts on the blog this year. If you want a corrective, have a look at Dancing with ambiguities, my reaction to one of the Reith lectures this year. It’s not an easy read and it’s a post I found difficult to write. Ambiguities don’t seem to concern nationalists but the real world is full of them.
I have a theory that we’ve passed peak-SNP and they’re on a downhill trajectory. Let’s hope 2017 brings evidence that I’m right. Until then that’s all for 2016.