I ran this page as an experiment from mid-June to mid-July 2015. You can find a summary of what I learnt here. Scroll down to see Grievance of the day explained. You can also share and comment at the bottom of the page if you wish.
Grievance No. 1 – 19 June 2015
Scotland must have a ‘direct input’ in EU negotiations – The first minister wants the Scottish government, along with the UK’s other devolved administrations, to have a “direct input” in the process … ‘because the decisions the European Union takes, the terms of the UK’s membership, impacts on our economy, impacts on jobs, impacts on industries like fishing and farming and issues like climate change. These are all responsibilities of the Scottish government. So you can’t simply put it in a box and say it’s got nothing to do with the Scottish government.’ Source: BBC web site
Yes, the EU impacts on all these things across the UK although external affairs is not a devolved function; not that that bothers the SNP. Of course responsibility for some of the things on the first minister’s list is shared with local authorities through their economic development function. So the SNP government will surely give Scottish councils ‘direct input’ to their own views on the EU. Won’t they?
In the litany of nationalist discontent this might be called a proto-grievance. The unreasonable demand of ‘direct input’ has been made. When it is inevitably rejected it will become a full-blown grievance. A similar charade is played out every year over the EU fishery quota negotiations.
Grievance No. 2 – 20 June 2015
Salmond ‘predicts that in the EU referendum the prime minister “will cheat, as he did last September”, warns the UK public to be wary of any “vow” offered to them by UK party leaders, and maintains that there was a “conspiracy” against the Yes side last year.’ Source: Buzzfeed
Of course, of course. Cameron cheated, the referendum result was a conspiracy. Buzzfeed’s Jamie Ross (Solero man) teases this grievance out of Salmond in what was supposed to be a light-hearted tour for Ross of Westminster Palace by the great man himself. Hubris, self-delusion and Trump-like are other words that come to mind. He believes in secret oil fields too. Move on, nothing new here.
Grievance No. 3 – 21 June 2015
Tory betrayal on wind “totally unacceptable” says the SNP today. ‘Cameron … must explain why he misled voters … [this] threatens thousands of jobs … announced without any consultation with the Scottish Government … goes against the spirit of the provisions in the Scotland Bill … a huge threat to the renewables industry in Scotland … duplicity … people were told tales … long and grim track record in ruining key industries in Scotland’ and so on and so on. Source: SNP web site.
All this is in an SNP press release on a Sunday, once a day of rest for politicians but no more for busy busy nationalists. The language as ever is apocalyptic and along the way there’s a sideswipe at Labour, even though they haven’t been in power at Westminster for five years. In other words, the old story: everything about the UK is bad, bad, bad.
Here’s a suggestion. If the SNP are so keen to incentivise/subsidise wind turbines let them make it a priority for their own spend, not the UK government’s. And while they’re at it they can check Scottish economist and political philosopher Adam Smith’s views on the adverse impact of subsidies. Thanks to @ on twitter for alerting me to this one.
Grievance No. 4 – 22 June 2015
Call for BBC cash fair play for football clubs … the corporation has short-changed the game north of the border. Source: SNP web site.
It’s not only the UK government doing Scotland down, it’s the BBC (aka British Biased Corporation) bleeding the country dry too. This is SNP-speak for ‘The broadcasting rights for football are auctioned off and this is the best bid Scottish football gets.’ Ooh, but it’s unfair. The English Premiership gets so much more. I’ll tell you what, controversial though this is and bound to lose me some friends, put on better footie (a lot better) and maybe Sky and BT’ll get interested too and you can get bigger bids for the rights. (Published yesterday, spotted today)
Grievance No. 5 – 23 June 2015
Hundreds of carers to lose out at hands of Tories – SNP website headline. Small print from ministerial answer to a written question at Holyrood – we do not have a clear position as to the real impact on carers in Scotland. Source: SNP web site.
The ‘hundreds’ was an estimate of 450 based on data from 2013 and the UK government programme that might result in this number has slipped. ‘Hundreds’ or ‘Don’t know how many’? Guess which statement will be used by SNP politicians? [Note: today’s grievance is not a judgement by No Thanks! on the issue itself but on the SNP’s spin]
Grievance No. 6 – 24 June 2015
The SNP has today called on the Ministry of Defence to give assurances that no more bombs will be exploded underwater in Scottish seas. The reason? In para. 1 of the SNP press release, confirmation that noise from underwater bombs caused 19 pilot whales to beach and die off the north coast of Scotland in 2011,’ although in para 2. a report published today by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs confirms noise from the explosions in July 2011 could [my emphasis] have damaged the hearing and navigational abilities of the whales, causing them to beach and die. Source: SNP web site.
The full story of this unfortunate incident is told in a much delayed (note the implication of some plot) report just published by DEFRA. It is a detailed 60 page long scientific analysis of why the mass stranding might have occured and it does seem likely that underwater explosions by the Ministry of Defence were a main cause, although others may have contributed. The report records action taken to mitigate future similar impacts of MoD activity.
The SNP’s hubris is to leap from this to ‘no more bombs should be exploded underwater in Scottish (incidentally, they’re UK too) waters.’ Of course, they have no responsibility for defence but when has the limit of their devolved functions ever bothered them? What they are in effect demanding is the sterilisation from a military point of view of the whole of the Northern waters around the UK. And they want an independent Scotland to be a member of NATO. Madness.
Grievance No. 7 – 25 June 2015
The Scottish government has lowered its estimates for how much revenue will be generated from North Sea oil and gas. John Swinney said ‘It is not acceptable for the UK government to sit back and accept low revenues … The critical issue is that the UK government needs to deliver on its commitment to consult on incentives to boost exploration in the North Sea, and this consultation must be launched urgently – so that firm proposals can be announced in the Autumn Statement.’ Source: BBC web site.
The news item above is about the Scottish Government’s technical Oil and Gas Bulletin. It’s the first one for 15 months and shows huge reductions in the forecast tax take from the industry. It’s all very complex (check for example the analytical part of this) but you’ll see Swinney’s instinct is to start blaming the UK government – for something that’s not due to happen until autumn! Meantime, the Scottish parliament is now in recess until end-August. So no chance for any questions in parliament about the bulletin. The SNP probably don’t want any anyhow because their own independence white paper was so woefully inaccurate on the oil price. What a coincidence.
Grievance No. 8 – 26 June 2015
Following reports that the LibDems are set to have their House of Lords contingent boosted by their former coalition partners, the SNP has reiterated its manifesto commitment for the undemocratic legislator to be replaced with wholly elected chamber, branding the latest move ‘absolutely absurd.’ Source: SNP web site.
I suppose you can say the SNP are at least consistent in their opposition to the House of Lords. Today’s faux outrage reaches a peak in the statement from their spokesperson on the second chamber – ‘It is an affront to democracy in the 21st century that there remains a legislative chamber completely unaccountable to the electorate, made up of former MPs who lost their seats, cronies and people with big cheque books who have donated to UK political parties.’
Whoa. Plenty of ways it could be reformed but they choose not to notice that the Conservatives in fact can’t command a majority in the Lords and to that extent it does provide the best legislative brake on their ambitions. Also plenty of cross-benchers who are there for none of the reasons the spokesperson lists. And membership is not something that seems to repulse their putative UK ‘progressive alliance’ partners Plaid Cymru and the Greens.
As it happens, I wrote an article on the subject for the Scotland in Union web site – Two cheers for the House of Lords. You’ll see there that in last year’s referendum they proposed no second chamber in the parliament of a separate Scotland. I wonder why?
Grievance No. 9 – 27 June 2015
Can silence infer a grievance? It’s Armed Forces Day, and not a mention of it on either the Scottish Government or SNP web sites. In other circumstances I might say ‘Damn right, it’s not a devolved function.’ But that’s never stopped the SNP commenting on what they want to. And as I look at the party’s media centre on their web site just now, six of their last ten media releases are moans about the UK government or Westminster. They’ve even got a cabinet secretary with responsibility for veteran affairs, Keith Brown. Surely he’s been doing something today to acknowledge the sacrifice made by past and present service personnel? You’d think they’d want to tell us about it. Maybe the fact that the Armed Forces Day’s parades (I saw one in Aberdeen) make us feel good about an essential UK institution explains their silence. They could tell us but they probably won’t.
Grievance No. 10 – 28 June 2015
Speaking in advance of further committee stage debates on the Scotland Bill at Westminster on Monday and Tuesday, Scottish National Party Leader Angus Robertson MP said that the SNP Group have tabled a series of welfare related amendments to ensure that the Bill delivers the Smith Commission in full, and also the additional powers that the people of Scotland voted for at the General Election … I trust that the anti-Tory parties in the House of Commons will come together to vote for them. SNP web site.
As this list of daily grievances builds up you’ll see it’s not only the Tories that get it in the neck from the SNP it’s the ‘anti-Tories’ too. Anything and anyone associated with the UK is fair game. The SNP’s amendments to the Scotland Bill are of course nationalistic. But that’s not the point of today’s grievance. It’s Angus Robertson’s ‘I trust that the anti-Tory parties … will … vote for them.’ That’s naughty. He knows how opposition politics works in the Commons. Without careful preparation and negotiation other parties will not support these amendments. The chances of the SNP having done that footwork are zero. Because support of the other parties is not their intention.This is the SNP building up political capital for future use. Watch it reappear as a grievance against Labour and the Lib Dems in the Holyrood 2016 election campaign.
Grievance No. 11 – 29 June 2015
A simple tweet today from new SNP MP Corri Wilson. The SNP always sing from the same hymn sheet (no letting a thousand flowers bloom here) so you can be sure her sentiment is part of the party’s campaign to diminish the BBC and replace it with a Scottish Broadcasting Corporation (see also Grievance No. 4). Of course, it has to be expressed as a grievance – ‘It’s not fair, the BBC raises more money than it spends here.’ For the purposes of this note, I haven’t checked that fact but let’s assume it’s correct. So just think about it. It’s not a question of the service provided, wherever a programme comes from (England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland). It’s the claim that Scotland, in some form, should get the same amount of money back to spend here that it raises. I don’t hear the same demand for other UK institutions like the Met Office or air traffic control. But then I don’t suppose they have the same potential to help pursue a separate cultural identity. (Spotted by @ to whom thanks)
Grievance No. 12 – 30 June 2015
The SNP is today welcoming the announcement that the abolition of data roaming charges across the EU is today a step closer. Source: SNP web site.
Excellent news for all of us and I’m glad the SNP welcome it, even with two ‘todays’ in one sentence. But hold, there’s more … As long as the Tories insist on gambling people’s jobs on their obsession with a referendum on ripping us out of Europe, the SNP will continue to make the positive case in favour of EU membership … the SNP’s plan for a ‘double majority’ will ensure Scotland – or any other UK nation – cannot be dragged out of the EU against its will. The opposition parties must back this common-sense amendment to ensure the democratic will of the Scottish people is respected.
You have to give it to them for mastering the art of linking two completely different things. To paraphrase: ‘Here’s some good news about phones, even though we had nothing to do with it. And the Tories and UK opposition parties disagree with us on something else.’ Watch out for the same sneaky ploy on other issues.
Grievance No. 13 – 1 July 2015
It has been reported Scottish MPs could be locked out of shaping legislation as English votes for English laws, or Evel as it is commonly referred, could become law before the summer. Source: SNP web site.
Difficult sometimes to pick a grievance that relates to one day only since most rumble on, in one guise or another, interminably. The latest manifestation of today’s grievance was the media release quoted above, issued yesterday. The problem, according to SNP Commons leader Angus Robertson is that ‘We could soon see Scottish MPs being given a second class status in the House of Commons.’ But if a matter only (my emphasis) relates to another part of the UK, why would the SNP want to vote on it? They certainly don’t want English, Welsh or Northern Irish MPs dabbling in devolved Scottish matters. And as for ‘second class’ maybe Scottish MPs already are in one sense. Ask them how much of their postbags are devoted to education, social work, council etc etc matters … all devolved to Holyrood.
Footnote: two days later the government proposals on EVEL look likely to emerge – ‘a special committee of English MPs created which could make changes to bills affecting only English voters before they are finally voted on in the Commons’ (BBC 2 July). Well, well. Another nationalist grievance bites the dust.
Grievance No. 14 – 2 July 2015
A slightly different take on grievance today, more an insight into the nationalist psyche rather than any official SNP policy or statement from one of their leaders (yet). The tweet above is self-explanatory. In the unlikely event of you not knowing, Patrick Harvie is the leader of the Scottish Greens, who campaigned for ‘Yes’ alongside the SNP in the independence referendum.
The overtly political dimension of the tweet is interesting enough – the leader of the Greens confirming that FFA (full fiscal autonomy) is nonsense . What’s really fascinating has been the reaction of nationalists to his statement. Here’s a small selection:
- I will need to stop backing you. I guess I will have to join the SNP, they are the only ones for Scotland … I did expect you to back Scotland before the tories
- i have no problem with policy differences, but to deliberately undermine an ally on a meaningless vote? politically naive
- WHAT ! That is just pure tripe and that clown knows it, WTF is he playing at ?
- You didn’t need to pretend. You could have voiced your views and voted with your *allies* Everyone I know is “SNP type”
- u r making it hard for us to push snp1 & green2 in May 2016
- Greens just lost my second preference! Two faced payers!
- … and so on and so on.
Harvie, as far as I can see, has been unfailingly patient and polite in answering his critics, a fair proportion of whom sport SNP twibbons. One wag on Twitter produced a list that added ‘Green Tories’ to all the other colours of the rainbow (blue, red, yellow … ) many nationalists use as a glib shorthand for opponents. It’s the victim mentality. It’s ‘if you’re not with us you’re against us.’ It’s yet another grievance.
Grievance No. 15 – 3 July 2015
The billets-doux from Nicola Sturgeon to Syriza, signed “yours in victimhood” – Source: Brian Wilson, The Scotsman 3 July 2015
OK. Not the FM herself and not even an SNP-friendly source. But my goodness how well Wilson sums up the whole grievance business in three words – yours in victimhood. So even though it’s outwith my original self-imposed criteria for grievance of the day, this one gets in.
Wilson’s main thrust is the SNP government’s approach to foreign affairs. He cites their selective, and frequently-changing, use of foreign analogs: the Celtic tiger, the Norwegian oil fund, the dynamism of Iceland. He could have mentioned Qatar too, a place Alex Salmond thought bore ‘remarkable similarities’ to Scotland. The sub-text behind all these examples, including the latest anti-austerity grandstanding of Greece is ‘If only we had the power ourselves, if only we weren’t the victims of Westminster.’ The fact that they get their dabbling in foreign policy almost universally wrong is another demonstration of how threadbare the use of grievance is as a basis for independence.
Grievance No. 16 – 4 July 2015
Nicola Sturgeon blames Westminster for energy jobs losses in Fife. Source: The Courier.
We’re in classic SNP grievance territory here. The Courier quotes her as saying ‘Our frustration is with the UK Government and its support, or lack of support, for offshore wind. I don’t think that helped with investor confidence.’
It’s a shame the same edition of The Courier reveals the truth in another article:
- the number of jobs, at a Samsung Heavy Industries wind turbine facility, is 20
- as early as 2013 The Courier revealed that there was doubt over the future of the project.
That’s it. Nothing about withdrawal of wind turbine subsidies. Absolutely no proof offered by the first minister to support her claim about Westminster (aka the Tories/UK government of course).
Here are some wider truths about renewable energy in Scotland.
In spite of SNP aspirations there is no indigenous wind turbine manufacturing or technology. All the investment is foreign and some of it, even before the Fife announcement, had come and gone already. The tidal/wave power technology that was to be Scotland’s USP has come to nothing, with all or nearly all the Scottish projects subsidised by the taxpayer failed or ceased. The government has missed its own greenhouse gas emission targets four years in a row. If they’re concerned about manufacturing jobs in Fife they should think about the threat of separation to the hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs dependent on the naval dockyard at Rosyth. But Westminster’s to blame of course. Who else?
Grievance No. 17 – 5 July 2015
The SNP has accused David Cameron’s government of ignoring the democratic will of the Scottish people by using the unelected House of Lords to make changes to the Scotland Bill. Source: Scotland on Sunday 5 July 2015 (paper version).
Sunday’s gripe neatly combines two separate SNP moans – about the current Scotland Bill (the one that will implement the Smith Commission’s recommendations, or not if you believe the SNP) and about their long-standing objection to the House of Lords. The Lords’ detailed look at the Bill will, according to Pete Wishart, be ‘an absolute disgrace’ and ‘completely scandalous.’ Or to put it another way, this is completely standard procedure for acts of the UK parliament. As David Mundell Scottish secretary says ‘This is a manufactured row … ‘ He’ll be used to them by now.
Grievance No. 18 – 6 July 2015
‘The SNP has … expressed grave concern there is not one major Royal Navy surface ship based in Scotland The increasing presence of Russian vessels in Scottish waters … does not give us a degree of confidence in British Naval strategy that our citizens have come to expect … it appears that the few vessels left are being left alongside rather than being out in the sea acting as a conventional deterrent’ – SNP MP Douglas Chapman. Source: SNP web site.
More SNP half-truths and distortions and a classic case of wanting to eat your cake and still have it.
Chapman was quoted in a media release based on a Commons written answer about how much fuel the navy had used in each year 2010-2014. It went down by 31% apparently. So from that they draw all the egregious conclusions quoted above.
They’re using less fuel because there are fewer vessels. I can’t source precise figures but an earlier Commons library research briefing gives a flavour: number of ships goes down, fuel use goes down. No evidence given of the time vessels spend moored alongside and of course no evidence or examples of Russian intrusion left unchallenged.
And all this from a party that objects to the presence of the main naval facility in Scotland; wants no more naval bombs exploded underwater in any ‘Scottish’ waters (see Grievance No. 6); and whose independence proposals (Scotland’s Future p. 239) would have seen their navy’s largest assets being two frigates. Try keeping even one of those at sea 24/7 for 365 days a year.
The UK faces plenty of defence challenges and there are those who claim naval cuts are going too far. But rely on the SNP to do the right thing on defence? Bilge, as they probably say on the lower deck.
Grievance No. 19 – 7 July 2015
Pete Wishart MP on EVEL October 2014
Pete Wishart MP on EVEL today
‘As well as revealing how exposed the Tory government is, this debate also underlined how the Tories want to treat Scotland – reducing Scottish representation to second-class status [through EVEL], which is a democratic disgrace’ Source: SNP web site
Never let it be said the SNP are inflexible with their grievances. I’ve already touched on their gripe about EVEL (English votes for English laws – see Grievance No. 13) and today brings proof that they can eat their cake and have it. The proof, above, comes from veteran SNP MP Pete Wishart (Lord, how he must hate the place to have stood for another term). From inconsequential spat to democratic disgrace in one fell swoop. But, hey, when was consistency ever a requirement if you’re pursuing a national dream? (My source: all over the web today but suggested by @joannahsbyoung, to whom thanks)
Grievance No. 20 – 8 July 2015
The UK Government are imposing this austerity Budget on Scotland on the basis of having a single Tory MP north of the border – Stewart Hosie MP. Source: SNP web site.
Today’s grievance just had to be about the UK government’s budget and the SNP do not disappoint. I should pause here to remind ourselves what the grievance of the day feature is and is not. It is not about the normal political discourse of government and opposition. It is about the peculiar characteristic of nationalists to see everything through the lens of their definition of nationality. And to forestall criticism it is also not about me taking sides on what the Conservative government proposes.
Elsewhere in the SNP’s response to the budget – thin gruel, incidentally – they make legitimate points you might expect from an opposition, that it will bear hardest on the poor and the young, and that there’s nothing to encourage innovation or exports. Even that must have been a struggle to come up with because in a short media release they concede that ‘Any increase in the minimum wage is of course welcome [and] there were measures which we welcome such as the freeze in fuel duty … ‘
The nationalist twist of course is the quote today’s grievance begins with – the purported ‘imposition’ of the budget on Scotland on the basis of having a single Scottish Tory MP. There is of course no imposition but merely the government setting a budget for the whole of the UK because it has a majority in the country’s democratically-elected parliament. That’s all. (Suggested by @ amongst others)
Grievance No. 21 – 9 July 2015
Civic Scotland ‘united in condemnation’ of budget. SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said … ‘It’s no wonder that Civic Scotland is united in condemnation of these appalling plans.’ Source: SNP web site.
Today’s grievance comes with the same health warning as yesterday’s – it’s not about me taking sides on the Conservative government’s budget.
What it is about is how the SNP misleadingly give the impression that their own complaints are shared by … well, just about everyone. That way the whole nation, or at least ‘Civic Scotland,’ shares their grievance. Doesn’t it?
Er, well not quite. What they seem to have done is take the views of five different organisations or groups (STUC, Shelter Scotland, the Child Poverty Action Group, the SFHA and Citizens Advice Scotland), I assume expressed independently, and quote them in a media release. There’s no evidence that any of them are supporting the SNP. Indeed, it would be inappropriate for most of them to do so.
As for ‘Civic Scotland’ there’s no evidence here for what it might include. The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator records 23,500 charities in Scotland, the STUC had 39 member trade unions. And the 32 democratically elected councils surely have a claim to be part of civic Scotland. They’re not here at all.
Never mind. Joan McAlpine says ‘Civic Scotland is united in condemnation’ of the budget. Which is not quite what any of the five quoted actually say if you read the media release. Still, why ruin a good story?
PS – for ‘story’ read ‘fiction.’
Grievance No. 22 – 10 July 2015
I was out on the hills yesterday (Jock’s Road if you must know) and was too knackered at the end of the day to search for an #snp #grievanceoftheday. So my thanks to @gilliand25 for this one.
To be honest I swithered about it. I suspect Ruth Wishart and I might find each other irritating if we met. But when I look at her tweets I can’t say I find anything hugely offensive and she does have some good jokes, not least recently about the Scottish weather which seemed to bring out the miserabilist tendency in her followers, as if criticism of our often dire summers were somehow an act of nationalist betrayal. She does follow Wings (tut, tut) but none of us are perfect.
Anyhow, I thought I’d use her tweet (above) as a bit of a riff – it’s already started, hasn’t it? – on the subject of nationalism and sport.
Of course, it’s not a uniquely Scottish phenomenon. Those of us of a certain age remember Norman Tebbitt’s ‘cricket test‘ for immigrants, and there is an almost universal assumption that we’ll support the sportsperson or team that is of our nationality above all others. Scots, not unreasonably, get mightily hacked off when the English, YET AGAIN, remember the glory days of 1966 and the football world cup. Incidentally, I would plea in mitigation that on the day of the final itself I was doing something entirely different where I lived in Yorkshire and came home to find my father and pals (plus empty beer bottles) ecstatic at the England win – while I remained indifferent to it.
Which just about sums up my attitude to much competitive sport. So I have no problem with ‘Brits,’ to use Wishart’s word, ‘whooping it up’ in support of Roger (great name, great guy) Federer at the expense of Andy. Wrongly, I think, she seems to interpret that as a sort of anti-Scottish act, pointing out that she supported the English Tim Henman when he appeared at Wimbledon to be, as I seem to remember, ritually slaughtered in a semi-final.
The whole thing’s something I don’t really relate to. But just in case you’re about to whack me a comment that says ‘What’s that got to do with the SNP, eh, eh?’ I remind you of Nicola Sturgeon’s oh-so-reluctant admission when pushed by Jane Garvey on the BBC Woman’s Hour power list programme. Yes, she’d wish the English women’s football team well in their world cup semi-final (you can hear it here from 38:27, beginning with a muffled ‘good luck’) but, quick as a flash, she’d wish Andy Murray well too.
Which is where this started. I suppose my conclusion is that, yes, our natural tendency is to support ‘our’ man, woman or team in sport. But, please, keep that separate from wider political questions. And may the best person win – any sport, anywhere, any time.
Grievance No. 23 – 11 July 2015
In a week’s time, as a month of #snp #grievancesoftheday will show (I’m giving up after No. 28), new grievances come along all the time. They stoke the fire. But old grievances, until definitively proven wrong and universally ridiculed, also help keep the pot bubbling.
Today’s tweet and associated graphic from Margaret Ferrier falls into the latter category – old gripes endlessly recycled. As you’ll see, the conceit is how much Scotland allegedly contributes to the rest of the UK. It’s presented in the form of a spoof supermarket till receipt. But no supermarket ever gave you such a fictitious bill that made no sense whatsoever.
It’s difficult to know where to start with what’s wrong.
This is not some sort of balance. There are no figures that show the total of what Scotland ‘contributes’ and ‘gets back.’ It’s just a random set of alleged costs for different items of government spend – one that the SNP doesn’t like (nuclear deterrence), four that are incurred elsewhere in, shock horror, England, and one that is something we all share throughout the United Kingdom. Add the spurious total up and you get what we’re ‘owed.’ No source for the information or the graphic is given and a polite enquiry to Ms Ferrier about the source of the data has resulted in silence. Perhaps she’s holding a Saturday night constituency surgery or is out on the razzle somewhere. I’d ask the person she seems to be in some sort of conversation with, fellow SNP MP Christina McKelvie, but she blocked me on Twitter ages ago for reasons unknown.
This is the sort of loaded graphic that circulated anonymously on social media during the independence referendum campaign. But these are our elected representatives to the mother of parliaments. When I see this sort of stuff I’m not sure if they’re knowing liars or naive incompetents. In any event, on this evidence, they’re hardly fit to be Smith-Commission-burning Renfrewshire councillors let alone serious national politicians. I despair.
Those who want the truth about Scotland’s public finances should read the Scottish government’s own expenditure and revenue figures then touch base with Kevin Hague’s analysis of them, most accessible in his new videos explaining them.
Grievance No. 24 – 12 July 2015
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
This is my last sport-related SNP gripe. Promise. (But see also Grievances No. 4 and 22 below)
Sometimes something comes along that’s so daft I just have to include it. This is a man who asks a SERIOUS question about why there’s a union flag on a table at Wimbledon. Already I sense you’ve fallen – either asleep or off your chair chuckling.
‘It’s not fair, mum. It’s the English tennis club and they’ve got the British flag on it,’ cries our wee boy, who I’m sure is committed to its proper use throughout ‘these islands’ (© N Sturgeon). It’s a serious question because he says it is. And if you doubt me I’ll write the rest of the story for you. ‘The English don’t know the difference, they don’t care, they think Scotland’s part of England … blahblahblah.’
Is my impatience showing through? I’ve been in Scotland long enough to know that the answer to Michael’s serious question is ‘Get a life, pal.’
Of course, you’d be right to point out to me that Twitter is full of fruit loops and how dare I take one example and pretend it’s in any way representative of the modern civic nationalism of our beloved SNP? Er, perhaps because he’s an SNP member? Not only that he made a bid to become the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the Westminster constituency of Edinburgh West in this year’s general election. He lost out, and maybe we should say ‘Thank God’ for that, to, erm, some other woman you’ve never heard of either.
The SNP are building up a bit of a track record at Wimbledon. Last year it was Alex Salmond’s rather pathetic production of a hanky-sized saltire from Mrs S’s handbag at the ecstasy of an Andy Murray win (‘He’s Scottish,’ ‘No, he’s British,’ ‘He’s not yours, he’s ours,’ ‘No he isn’t’ … zzzzz). And this year it’s the Sturgeon-Murrells occupying seats in the same exalted space as the Salmonds last year. THE ROYAL BOX. I rest my case, m’lud.
Meantime back at Mr Stewart’s Twitter page some of the answers to his serious question were making sport of a rather different kind…
- Think you have just redefined ‘serious question’ (Johann Lamont – well done ma’am)
- [Stewart didn’t get the point and replied] It was done … to try to avoid silly responses & get a serious one but unfortunately you’ve not been able to help at this either
- To assert their dominion over us, an enslaved marginalised and impoverished nation on our knees, isn’t it obvious
- When will we be free? I mean, the referendum was fun, but this flag business is the last straw!
- part of English eradication of national identities like those “British”, “Britain’s” titled TV shows they now bombard us with
- i’d hate to read your frivolous question #outragebuspassenger
- why do they have a pineapple on top of the trophy?
There was more of the same. By the way, one of these comments was meant seriously. I’ll leave you to guess which. Stewart had his other supporters but they were too po-faced or bitter to mess up my Sunday evening by repeating.
That’s it. Bye.
My thanks to @grahamdumble for alerting me to this serious question and for the SNP link (I wouldn’t have realised that because Michael Stewart had blocked me on Twitter. No, I don’t know why)
Grievance No. 25 – 13 July 2015
The Scottish National Party Westminster Group met this evening and decided to vote against the Tory Government’s attempt to relax the ban on fox hunting south of the border in Wednesday’s vote. SNP Westminster Group Leader Angus Robertson MP said “We totally oppose fox hunting, and when there are moves in the Scottish Parliament to review whether the existing Scottish ban is strong enough, it is in the Scottish interest to maintain the existing ban in England and Wales for Holyrood to consider. We are in a situation where the Tory government are refusing to agree to any amendments to improve the Scotland Bill – which are supported by 58 of Scotland’s 59 MPs – and imposing English Votes for English Laws to make Scotland’s representation at Westminster second class. In these circumstances, it is right and proper that we assert the Scottish interest on fox hunting by voting with Labour against the Tories’ proposals to relax the ban – in the process, reminding an arrogant UK government of just how slender their majority is – just as we will vote against the Tory welfare cuts next week, and appeal to Labour to join us.” Source: SNP web site.
Many things could be said about the grievances that lurk in today’s decision by the SNP to oppose fox hunting … in England. I thought it was worth a separate entry in my main blog. Enjoy.
Grievance of the day No. 26 – 14 July 2015
Commenting on the BBC’s annual review [Annual Report and Accounts 2014/15], which found just 48 per cent of people in Scotland feel the BBC is good at representing their life in news and current affairs content, compared with 61 per cent in England, 61 per cent in Northern Ireland and 55 per cent in Wales, SNP broadcasting spokesperson John Nicolson MP said … ‘The BBC’s own survey has found that Scotland is the only part of the UK where more than half of the people do not believe the BBC is properly reflecting life in their nation. There has also been a fall in network production from Scotland – it is unacceptable for the people of Scotland to be continually short-changed by the BBC and the UK Government in this way … BBC Scotland should receive a fairer share of BBC income, reflecting more accurately the licence fee revenue raised here in Scotland … ’ Source: SNP web site.
That’s not the whole text of a media release from the SNP today. It also says other neutral or (just) positive things about the BBC’s charter renewal and you can check them out.
It’s here because it’s part of the party’s long and continuing interest in the B(British)BC, a small part of it positive, most of it negative. A quick search of their web site throws up nearly 690 documents or items mentioning the BBC. In this month of grievances on No Thanks! this is the third entry alone about the corporation (the others are Nos. 4 and 11). Glancing through just the first thirty of those 690 references shows words like ‘concern, fury, outrage, demands, devastating, disgraceful, [and] unacceptable.’
So, standard party political gripes or something more?
It’s something more of course because this is not just politics, this is nationalist politics. This is a party that short of independence would want broadcasting and all that goes with it devolved to the Scottish parliament. A party whose leader seems programmed to avoid the words ‘Britain’ and ‘British’ and can only manage ‘these islands.’ Presumably, short of an SBC, she’d prefer a TIBC.
Meantime back at the facts, under half of people (at least of those surveyed) ‘feel the BBC is good at representing their life in news and current affairs content’ (my emphasis). BUT remember this is not people’s verdict on the BBC overall just its news and current affairs output. We don’t know the basis of people’s discontent, whether they thought the BBC were biased (one way or the other), didn’t cover the right things, or enough things, or something else. And this was in the referendum year when passions and expectations, on all sides, ran high. As for the ‘fall in network production from Scotland’ that’s actually spend on TV network production which was 9.2% of the total (report p. 82) and – the SNP don’t mention this of course – a not unfair reflection of the population of Scotland as a proportion of the UK total.
If you read the BBC report you’ll find many places where you’ll see it’s aware of what it needs to do in Scotland and the challenges it faces (so I’m not caught short by critics try pp. 19, 26, 33 and 34 for example).
The key words in the SNP media release that identify we’re in grievance territory here are ‘it is unacceptable for the people of Scotland to be continually short-changed by the BBC and the UK Government in this way.’ Nothing in the BBC’s annual report supports an assertion that there has been continual short-changing. If you can find it let me know and I’ll post your evidence here.
Grievance of the day No. 27 – 15 July 2015
Salary bill at Scotland Office soars by a quarter. The SNP is today criticising confirmation that the Scotland Office wage bill has gone up – following a General Election where the Tories suffered their worst result in Scotland since 1865. The increase has been caused by the appointment of the new Scotland Office Minister from the House of Lords … the Scotland Office ministerial wage bill has increased … from £181,635 in 2014-15 to £227,970 in 2015-16. The biggest increase is as a result of the elevation of former Thatcher advisor Andrew Dunlop to the House of Lords to serve as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland. Commenting, Owen Thompson MP said: “As the Tories are cruelly cutting the incomes of the poorest in our communities, driving up poverty and leaving more families having to rely on foodbanks, we now see this perverse increase in unelected Ministerial salaries. Worst of all, the new Scotland Office Minister will not even sit in the House of Commons and will not be held to account by Scotland’s democratic representatives but will sit in the unaccountable House of Lords.’ Source: SNP web site.
Did anyone ever use the buzz phrase generator – three columns each of ten words that selected randomly, one from each column, creates a phrase of impressive but meaningless management-speak?
On this last but one day of a month of SNP grievances I’m beginning to feel they’ve got a grievance generator in the office.
‘Kevin, can you give me a number?’
‘Er, aye. 7 – 3 – 4?’
‘Thanks. Right. Let’s see. 7 – Scottish Office. 3 – foodbanks. 4 – unelected House of Lords. Can we get Owen to ask a question?’
And so it goes. Gripe after gripe linked to conjure up a spurious outrage. Salary costs leap by a quarter! While families have to rely on foodbanks!! What is this Westmonster world coming to?!!!
Except, hang on. We’re talking about an additional yearly cost for a UK department of state of a mere £46,335. Or to put it another way 78% of one MSP’s salary, 1.2% of the combined salary of the SNP’s 56 MPs, or an almost immeasurably tiny proportion of the Scottish government’s annual budget of about £30,000,000,000.
Moreover, isn’t it just possible that an extra pair of ministerial hands might be helpful to cope with all the extra business arising from the Scotland Bill, which looks as if it’s going to need some work?
You’ll notice the gripe-linkage to the Lords. The Bill will need to be steered through the other place but of course the SNP don’t agree with that on a matter of principle although, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, it’s not a problem Plaid Cymru or the Greens seem to have. And they know, clever chappies, that an additional Scottish Office minister from the Commons would have to come from a non-Scottish constituency. Which of course would be cause for another grievance. Catch 22 for the Tories, grievo-max for the SNP. As for those foodbanks, a quick whip-round all their elected representatives should be able to yield £46,335 since that’s the number they’re so concerned about.
Footnote: this is at least the third recent SNP media release that refers to the worst electoral result for the Tories in Scotland since 1865. What’s their fixation with 1865? Is the claim even factually correct? Who cares? It sounds good and it all fuels the fire.
Grievance of the day No. 28 – 17 July 2015
At questions to the Leader of the House Chris Grayling in the House of Commons this morning, SNP MP Peter Grant pressurised the UK Government on its failure both through written Parliamentary Questions and responses to Freedom of Information requests to disclose who the memo about the First Minister’s meeting with the French Ambassador (leaked by then Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael before the election) was written for and sent to. Source: SNP web site.
Something a little different today. I’ve now monitored four weeks of SNP daily grievances and you’ll know if you scroll down I’ve had no problem finding a grievance every day. I’ll post a summary shortly of my conclusions but meantime, here’s the last post in this series.
First, a summary of the day, and this is only from the media releases on the party’s web site. I’ve picked up plenty of moans from party sources on social media but let’s just stick with the ‘official’ gripes. They go out with a small flourish – six media releases today, half of them just negative full stop, the other half supposedly positive but still managing to get digs in at the UK, its government, and other political parties. The language is its usual florid self, with words like appalling, damning, relentless, ashamed, failure and completely unacceptable scattered throughout.
Anyhow, to today’s grievance which should be self-explanatory from the text quoted above. It’s our old friend of what the first minister did or didn’t say to the French ambassador, now dubbed rather feebly and unimaginatively Frenchgate. We have gone beyond establishment of the basic facts to the ‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin’ territory of who wrote it and when (they seem to want a name: it’s not enough that they’ve been assured it was a civil servant so now let’s name and shame a probably not very senior employee), and who received it and when. It really is getting a bit obsessive and in a show of faux outrage the threat is made elsewhere in the media release to obtain the information through an MP’s Freedom of Information (FOI) request if all parliamentary channels fail.
Hang on, FOI request. Doesn’t that ring a bell about something much more egregious – our former first minister’s refusal to release the legal advice he said he’d received on EU membership for an independent Scotland? The advice that didn’t exist? Hmm, I’d go careful with this one if I were the SNP. Pots and kettles come to mind.
There’ll be a full analysis of this and twenty-seven other pieces of nonsense shortly elsewhere on the No thanks! blog. Over and out.
Grievance of the day explained
This page was in the nature of an experiment.
On 18 June 2015 I wrote a piece about The grievance monkeys of the SNP. By way of conclusion I said
… how about The Nationalist Grievance of the Day? I might just start a list. It won’t be difficult. I’m sure I could add at least one new gripe every day.
I was challenged by one of my friendlier Twitter correspondents to put my money where my mouth is. So this was it. Starting the day after my grievance monkey post I added one new or one recycled grievance to this page every day.
My initial criteria for including grievances were:
- they went beyond the normal party political discourse to a grievance that is essentially nationalistic in nature
- they emanated from the SNP, one of its elected representatives, an obvious member of the party or other prominent nationalist.
Apart from a brief statement of the grievance and a comment, a link to its source is given.
Each day’s grievance was flagged up on my Twitter account with the hashtags #snp and #grievanceoftheday.