I hope everyone’s been having a good Easter.​

Published: 11 April 2023

Apologies for the graphic detail, but I’ve been out of action for three weeks since I slipped on a wet pavement, broke two small bones in my lumbar region and incautiously accepted painkillers that had some temporarily dire consequences. However, my friends don’t call me Pollyanna for nothing. I strive always to look on the bright side, so my recent dark days being largely immobile in and out of hospital were cheered by the steady stream of radio reports of noisy panicking Scottish nationalist chickens coming home to roost.

My problem is not with the concept of Scottish independence, of which my beloved brother has been a strong, articulate supporter for many decades. True, I don’t think the idea would be good for either Scotland or the United Kingdom, but it’s a perfectly legitimate aspiration. But what has so concerned me over the last several years has been seeing the Scottish Nationalist Party morph into a cult.

It was obvious even to rank outsiders that when Nicola Sturgeon inherited the leadership her husband, Peter Murrell should have stepped down from running the party. Alex Salmond, her mentor, pointed it out to both of them and was ignored. I always found it absolutely astonishing that so few people seemed to think it wrong in a democracy that a power couple would run the governing party. But the totalitarian mindset triumphed and that’s what happened in Scotland.

It has gradually become a one-party state in which critical voices were silenced, investigative newspapers were bullied, state funding denied to charities who wouldn’t follow the government line, and secrecy about party finances became the norm. I found it extraordinary, particularly during Covid, that there was almost no scrutiny of the SNP’s actual performance in government. After a brief honeymoon period, Boris Johnson was subject daily to loud criticism of every step he took, while Nicola Sturgeon was hailed throughout the United Kingdom and beyond as a fearless, selfless and successful life-saving leader.

Articulate, composed and certain of her own rectitude, every night she commandeered the national airwaves to justify all her actions without adverse criticism, while presiding over a crisis that was being run no better or worse than those in most of Western Europe. And very few questions were being asked about the atrocious performance of such ministries as education, health and justice. Just like Sinn Fein, the SNP cared only about one policy: in SF’s case unity, in the SNP case separation. It was no surprise that the leaders appeared to get on so well. Hating England was a great unifier.

In fairness to the SNP it has never endorsed violence, but Ms Sturgeon has seemed happy to chum up with quite a few people who have no problem spending a weekend afternoon encouraging young people to admire dead murderers. Michelle O’Neill was almost tearstained last month at the resignation of her “friend and colleague” Nicola Sturgeon, whose leadership “the world of politics will miss”. She paid tribute to “the huge strides she has made in advancing the campaign for Scottish independence, the strong stance against Brexit and the undermining of devolution by the Tories in London.

“She leaves a legacy for which anyone in politics or public life would be rightly proud”.

Well, Ms O’Neill, I accept that a month is a long time in politics, but this comment suggests you haven’t been paying much attention to reality. None of that is true. The internal rottenness of the SNP is evident to all now and independence is on the slide. I look forward to a similar fate befalling Sinn Fein.

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