This 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.