In yesterday’s Herald letters:
EITHER Nicola Sturgeon’s army of special advisers is becoming nervous, or she herself is.
Her conference speech sank to a new low, making absurd allegations about the “damage” Westminster will do to Scotland – “our working population is likely to fall. Who knows what will happen to our NHS in future trade deals” (“Sturgeon says unionists will try to exploit Brexit impact”, The Herald, September 14). Actually, it is under SNP health governance that every health board in Scotland has signed a contract with the US private health company, IHI.
Westminster has, allegedly, “made us poorer”. The truth is that, over and above the usual £2,000 per person per year Barnett bonus, Westminster has poured an extra £14 billion into Scotland during the pandemic, in terms of furloughing and business support. It is not Westminster’s fault that £2.7bn of business support has not reached business but has been snarled up somewhere in the SNP system. “They want us to believe we are powerless in the face of the disastrous decisions they have taken for us,” Ms Sturgeon claims. Yep. Furloughing and the quick production and distribution of Covid vaccines really were “disastrous decisions”. She talks about “resisting” Westminster as if Scots lived in an occupied country (as some of the wilder fringes of the SNP claim).
To listen to Ms Sturgeon, you would think that “Westminster” – Tories, English, London, obviously – spends most of its waking hours engaged in a conspiracy to do Scotland down, that there is a whole civil service unit dedicated to that policy, just as she spends our money on her civil service referendum unit. This is the tired old SNP trope that was dishonest at the time of devolution, propagated incessantly during the referendum, and harped on at every election campaign. But now there is a clear element of paranoia in Ms Sturgeon’s words. “They are out to get us” is her message. It’s all to stop us from being “independent” – and look around us, she says, at other countries: “independence works”. I rather thought her adviser, Professor Mark Blyth, put the mockers on that by pointing out that “Denmark took 600 years to become Denmark” and that Scotland would not be transformed overnight into some mythical paradise (“FM adviser warns independence would bring 20 years of economic upheaval”, The Herald, September 7).
The blunt truth is that the UK would save money if Scotland left it. The corollary of that is that Scotland would be a lot poorer. Persecution-complex talk of Westminster being desperate to damage Scotland is a product of secession mania and deep-seated hostility towards our fellow citizens in the UK. Talk of “resisting” is an escalation of hostility. But fear not: we all know that Ms Sturgeon is becoming rather desperate in the face of the impossibility of holding a legal referendum on her own authority. What is interesting is that it has reached such a pass that her desperation is now very obvious.
Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.
Today Ruth Marr writes (not published by the Herald:
According to Jill Stephenson, the UK pours money into Scotland and “the blunt truth is that the UK would save money if Scotland left it”. We probably have a better class of food banks too, as part of the Union dividend. So, what is Boris Johnson waiting for? He should call a referendum forthwith and let Scotland re-join the EU and give him back his Trident weapons of mass destruction. Alas, if only we’d had an Oil Fund, we could have reciprocated the generosity shown us by kindly Westminster governments and poured fifty years of our oil revenues into their Treasury. Instead, we should get down on our knees and thank Westminster for dropping their money into our begging bowls, and apologise for being alive.
Longer-term readers may remember we used to spend time on Stephenson:
Emeritus Professor, Jill Stephenson, is back with a personal attack based on amazing delusions. She is the one who described MP Mhairi Black as a ‘foul-mouthed slut’ back in 2015. Her tweet, above, is just the latest in a string of madcap paranoid assertions.
Here’s what we wrote of her back in May 2017:
‘Independence referendum will cause break-up of SCOTLAND not UK, warns top professor’
The ‘top’ professor returning to the fray is 73-year-old retired expert on Nazi Germany, Jill Stephenson. She’s predicting that even if we win Indyref2 we’ll trigger the further fragmentation of Scotland as Orkney and Shetland will elect to stay in Britain, like a northern Gibraltar. Here’s some of what she said:
‘It is clear that Scotland is a deeply divided country. This is the result of a long and bitter referendum campaign in 2012-14. There is palpable hatred on both sides of the divide that will take years, or perhaps decades, to heal.’
She should know about any bitterness after her comments about MP Mhairi black in 2015. I wrote about the prof at the time in Newsnet.scot. To avoid repeating myself, here’s and extract from what I said about the then only 71-year-old retired English professor who has only ever researched and written about Nazi Germany:
“If electors vote for a foul-mouthed slut like M Black, it says a lot about them and none of it is good.”
A wee Twitter storm developed, ending up with the good professor herself tweeting that she didn’t “give a flying fuck” and a respondent suggesting that as unionist she supported paedophiles!
Professor Stephenson’s [former?] expertise is Nazi Germany so you can see where’s she’s going with the ‘charisma’ comment. She has written on ‘German Christians in the Thuringian Protestant Church (1927-1945)’ so that must have been useful in looking at Scottish 21st Century politics. What about her, ‘Hitler’s priests, Catholic clergy and National Socialism?’
Oh come on, we’ve got Catholic clergy. She’s a professor. They know about all sorts of stuff, don’t they? She clearly has researched German history but has published nothing at all on Scottish politics and so is less authoritative on that than a researcher currently working on it.