Ice cream, you scream, we all scream

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 11th April 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network. Any flaws in formatting are due to WordPress now requiring all bloggers to use their dreadful “Block” editor, which they call Gutenberg to indicate that they have taken us back 650 years in functionality.

While Boris Johnson claims blandly to have been invited to Prince Philip’s private family funeral but to have turned down the invite because only 30 people could attend and he felt he should step aside for a member of the family, he appears to have been weekending in Cornwall. On “business“, obviously.

No one is rioting in Cornwall, after all, and the official position of the UK government is that policing is devolved and they hope that this can all be settled internally.

The adult Loyalist instigators of the firebombing rioters apparently instructed their crews that a short break to show respect for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral would be appropriate. But the riots will start again, and it’s been reported that three houses where Catholic families are living have been targeted in order to “move them out” by the UVF – the Ulster Volunteer Force.

This has been simmering under the surface since England voted for Brexit in June 2016, and both the Tory and Labour leadership declared themselves for Brexit. The Northern Ireland unionists supported Brexit – the DUP MPs voted for it – because tney believed that withdrawing the UK from the EU must mean separating Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland.

The Good Friday Agreement had extremely broad support in Northern Ireland, and still does, but the extreme unionists didn’t like it because the GFA allows everyone in Northern Ireland to be either as Irish or as British as they want to be – and the point of beng a Loyalist is the belief that being British is the right of being from Northern Ireland – that it’s wrong, traitorous, and probably Catholic to want to be Irish. The unionists were of the view that Brexit would help their side – however the UK government managed the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland, a border there would be.

When the UK has negotiated with Ireland in the past – any time in the past – it has always been from a position of massive military, political, and economic superiority. The Irish Free State was declared independent because the UK could not afford to continue a civil war in the 1920s. It was the clear presumption of most English Conservatives and Brexiters in 2016 and for some time thereafter that all they had to do was to instruct the Irish Republic of their preferred decision about how to deal with Brexit and the Good Friday Agreement, and that would be that. Perhaps due to this assumption, and perhaps because it was the easiest thing for him to do, Boris Johnson lied and went on lying about no customs-checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK – even while he was binding the UK to the Northern Ireland Protocol, which indeed did require customs-checks for all goods crossing the Irish Sea.

But when Brexit actually fell, the unionists discovered, to their indignation and betrayal and rage, that the UK government had decided to have the effects of Brexit benefit the nationalists. (A recent major drugs bust in Northern Ireland has led people to argue that the other reason for sudden Loyalist rage is that the criminal Loyalist gangs had a nice little drugs trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and the increased checks at the Irish Sea ports have picked up what used to pass undetected.)

The unionists have always felt superior to the nationalists in Ireland. C. S. Lewis, that stout Belfast Protestant, depicted a sectarian view of Irish Catholics in his fictional Dufflepuds: and Lewis was nice enough to allow that the Dufflepuds might become better if they were properly taught and governed. When the superior caste feels themselves to lose face and privilege in favour of a group they regard as their inferiors – well, backlash happens.

How long this can go on while Boris Johnson happily buys ice-creams in Cornwall and sends junior ministers over to tell the Northern Irish to sort themselves out, I do not know. But apparently the Tories are still polling ahead of Labour in England, so Tory MPs will continue to keep their corrupt and useless leader as Prime Minister. Why not, if he isn’t losing them votes?

Meantime, this weekend, another long boil came to ahead and burst.

The Alba Party Women’s Conference was this weekend – initially planned to be 6pm Satiurday, changed on Friday afternoon to be six hours earlier, they still got about 400 women in a Zoom call, and various speakers, including Alba candidate for Central Scotland, Margaret Lynch.

Margaret Lynch had been the victim of a nasty trap set up for her by a series of distortions on the 2020 Feminist Declaration by the Women’s Rights Caucus. You can read about the trajectory of how a declaration for global gender equality turned into an assertion that Stonewall are campaigning to have the age of consent reduced to 10, in “The Trajectory of an anti-LGBT Conspiracy Theory” by Mallory Moore, and please do, because it is fascinating, in a QAnon pizza kind of way.

(To be clear, I describe Margaret Lynch as a victim of a trap, because I think she likely honestly believed in the lies she had been fed: but I also think that bigotry tends to fog your critical thinking skills and make you unable to see through the ridiculous lies.)

But, not being familiar with any of this background, I became aware of this when a lot of Alba Party supporters started tweeting angrily about how Stonewall was funded by the SNP (Stonewall Scotland does receive Scottish Government funding) and it had signed up to ILGA and ILGA were campaigning to reduce the age of consent to 10. None of this was true, obviously, and initially, it just looked like a weird flourish of homophobia from a party already known for its transphobia. Sometime on Saturday the official Alba Women Twitter account was suspended, I presume because it tweeted Margaret Lynch’s defamatory declaration about Stonewall in its reporting of the Alba Women conference, and was them multiply-reported for doing so.

This weekend has, I think, been quite disastrous for the Alba Party. They were polling at 3% (Ipsos Mori and Survation both got the same result) and to have any chance at all of winning at least one list seat, they needed to be polling at six or seven percent. The Alba Party was, I presume, hoping that the Women’s Conference would give them a boost, some positive publicity. So it might have done – if all of the candidates had stayed away from controversial topics.
But for that to happen, the party’s candidates would need to be briefed (and vetted) beforehand. I very much doubt Alex Salmond vetted any of his 31 candidates – he needed four per Region too much.

It is a truism among anti-trans activists that all women support them, and that not being transphobic towards trans women means a party will lose votes because they’re being “anti-women”. Most of the women standing for the Alba Party seem to subscribe to that idea. (None of them, of course, are willing to speak out aganst their leader the disgraced former First Minister sex pest Salmond.)

A spokesperson for Alba, when queried by the Times, claimed that Margaret Lynch’s assertions that “proponents of queer theory want to lower the age of consent” were based in fact. This is a problem for Alba, because none of this is true, and it is easily provable that none of this is true, and Stonewall is perfectly capable of demanding with legal authority that Alba issue a retraction and Margaret Lynch apologise.

To win seats on 6th May, the Alba Party needs to convince at least twice as many independence supporters as they did in the first week that it would be a good idea to vote for the Alba Party on the list and for the SNP constituency candidate. For Alba Party candidates and supporters to be running riot on Twitter falsely accusing the SNP and Stonewall of wanting to legalise paedophila, doesn’t make the Alba Party look like a trustworthy place for SNP supporters to lend their list vote.

Mhairi Hunter (a SNP councillor for Glasgow) noted on Twitter this evening:

“I find it hard to believe Alex Salmond actively wants his supporters to be rampaging across social media falsely accusing Stonewall and the SNP of wanting to reduce the age of consent to 10. It begins to look more and more that he is not in control of the party he founded.”

I don’t think Alex Salmond is in control of the Alba Party supporters – or, really, of the candidates. He can’t de-list any of the candidates – they’ll be on the ballot on 6th May as Alba Party candidates, because the deadline is passed. What supporters he gained from the SNP, were for the most part, people who left the SNP because they perceived the SNP as too “progressive” – too supportive of LGBT rights, too strong against transphobia, too keen on ridiculous things like “baby boxes”. He cannot now turn round and tell the people who supported him because they thought they had found a political home where they could be as transphobic as they wanted, that they should wheesht now,all of this anti-LGBT stuff makes Alba look bad.

There are people who believe strongly that being anti-trans is a vote-winner. They’re not going to shut up about it just because Alex Salmond says so.

Assuming that he wants to.

I truly hope that when the Alba Party fails to gain a single seat in the May elections, Alex Salmond loses interest and moves on: because it occurs to me looking at the angry tweets of people who were instantly ready to believe homophobic lies about Stonewall, that Alex Salmond has a nice little nest of fascism here. Salmond must realise he is very unlikely to win seats in Holyrood this year – but if he is planning for the long term, what about 2026? True, Salmond will then be 71 – but Donald Trump became President when he was 70.

Iain Macwhirter, an anti-independence Herald journalist, wrote a column this week explaining that the riots in Belfast are Scotland’s future if we vote for independence. In that Brexit is itself our warning of what can happen if Scottish independence as badly managed, he has a point: for the rest, the riots in Belfast are the long result of decades of Loyalist versus Republican, and the current result of Loyalists sure that somehow unfairly the nationalist side *won* and must therefore be punished for it.

To avoid riots, we need a peaceful and democratic path to independence. This is just what Salmond’s Alba Party do not want, and why I hope they become ridiculous in April and sink into oblivion forever in May.

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Vote Of Nasty Conservatives

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 23rd March 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

A few things that occur to me after listening to the no-confidence vote debate in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon. (Video at link: it took less than an hour.)
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Immigrants get the job done: the Hamilton Report

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 22nd March 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

(James Hamilton is not an immigrant, but I regret to say I couldn’t resist the quote.)

The question for the independent investigator, QC James Hamilton, who was Director of Public Prosecutions for the Republic of Ireland (1999-2011) and in 2010, President of the International Association of Prosecutors, and who has been the independent advisor to the Scottish Government on the Ministerial Code since 2013 (first appointed by Alex Salmond, re-appointed by Nicola Sturgeon in 2015):

“When Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament she had first learned about the complaints against Alex Salmond on Monday 2nd April, when in fact she was told about them on Thursday 29th March, was she knowingly misleading Parliament?”

To knowingly mislead Parliament is a resigning offence in the Ministerial Code, though when you look at the current Cabinet Ministers and Prime Minister at Westminster, you wouldn’t think so.
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The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 16th March 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

I listened to the Second Reading debate on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill on Monday evening and tonight, and I noted that four points were consistently being made by the obedient Tory MPs:

  • Gypsy, Roma, and Irish Travellers are bad and dirty and we need legislation to take action against their habit of just parking on common ground and acting as if they had a right to be there, sometimes even when they own the land their vehicle is parked on, it’s got to be stopped.
  • Statues/memorials must be protected
  • Long sentences mean we’re doing more against crime
  • Law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear

The first element of this is the most shocking, of course: basic racism barely even masked. Please remember that any fascist government needs an internal enemy convenient for blame. Brexit will hit farmers and farming economies hard. The Bill grants the police powers to arrest, imprison, and confiscate the mobile home of someone who is, as determined by the police, parked in “illegal encampment” or engaged in anti-social behaviour, also as determined by the police. To be able to distract economically-devastated countryside communities with news that an internal enemy has been arrested, tried, fined, imprisoned, lost their home, may be very useful this year. Certainly the government thinks so, from the consistency of this message from Tory MPs standing up to declare, if anyone doubted, that they were going to vote for the bill.
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Census 2021: a legal, hateful, victory

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 9th March 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

Scotland decided to put off the Census til next year, because of coronavirus: the England & Wales Office of National Statistics decided to go ahead (as did the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency). ONS decided this year to encourage people to do the census online by preference – and to do a soft launch on 22nd February, to avoid (I would presume) the awkward situation of fifty-eight million people all trying to use the census website at the same time.

Census2021So, as you certainly know if you live in England or Wales or Northern ireland, and as you probably know if you live in Scotland, 21st March 2021 is Census Day except for Scotland.

Since about July 2019, the Christian Right have been complaining about news that the Census this year, at least in England and Wales, was going to include a question about “gender identity” and – not that this was new – have guidance that trans people should respond to the sex question according to their gender identity.
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Scotland in ice

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 6th March 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

“…well, imagine a person standing on a block of ice, planning and planning and planning. Planning ways to get about on the ice, ways to decorate it, ways to divide it up, ways to cope with all the possible knowns and givens of a block of ice. That would be a busy person, provident and industrious and independent and admirable, isn’t that so? Except that when the ice melts, none of that is any use at all.”Native Tongue, Suzette Haden Elgin

This week, the Tories threw their best shot at Nicola Sturgeon – accusing her before, during, and after her giving evidence of having committed resignworthy offences.
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Nicola Sturgeon: Eight Hours

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on  3rd March 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

Nicola Sturgeon has spent all day today at the Scottish Parliament in the large committee room, giving her evidence to the committee investigating the harassment process.

Nicola SturgeonThe committee meeting began at 9am. They stopped for a mid-morning break, a lunchtime break that lasted less than an hour, and a mid-afternoon break. The Convenor very strongly suggesed the committee should be through by 5pm.
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Alex Salmond: Blink

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 27th February 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

The Scottish Parliament has been in existence since 1999: Nicola Sturgeon is the present First Minister, and there are five previous First Ministers, four living, as Donald Dewar died within the first 12 months. The other four are Henry McLeish (now 72), Labour: Jim Wallace (now 66), LibDem – who was Acting First Minister on two separate occasions: Jack McConnell (now 60), Labour – and Alex Salmond (now 66), SNP. Jim Wallace and Jack McConnell accepted life peerages when they ceased to be MSPs: Henry McLeish did not, and after 2016 declared he’d support an independent Scotland if Westminster enacted Brexit against Scotland’s will.

Prior to 2010, if a First Minister – or any minister in the Scottish Government – had sexually pestered a subordinate, the Scottish Government had no policy of how to deal with this. In 2010, a policy was developed: we know that none of the women Salmond pestered made use of it – and no previous First Minister could have been affected by it.
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The Alex Salmond of Despair

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 24th February 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

TW: sexual harassment at work.

Let me see if I can very briefly bring light to this. In some ways, it seems entirely unimportant – the last-ditch struggle of an ambitious man who sees his political legacy disappearing – and in other ways, it could affect Scottish politics for years to come.
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A Portpatrick-Larne Tunnel, Hurrah

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 13th February 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

On a Saturday where 43 Republican Senators decided that it didn’t matter how much Donald Trump was obviously guilty of inciting armed insurrectionists to storm the Capitol to prevent the peaceful transfer of power for which the US used to be famous, it may seem inappropriately banal to talk about Boris Johnson’s tunnel vision.

On Saturday the 13th, Boris Johnson leaked to the Telegraph that he seriously plans a tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland.
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