‘Lazy assertions which show no awareness of the complexity of Scotland’s reliance on Westminster decisions’


Ha, first thing I did was to scroll down to see! This was before I fired off the following response to the latest guardian editorial re the SNP, feel a bit better now

“Sadly your editorial commenting on the SNP leadership campaign and its implications for the wider UK is shallow and lacks any serious analysis. Given your coverage of world wide events I am astonished at your perspective on Scottish politics and your reliance on lazy assertions which show no awareness of the complexity of Scotland’s reliance on Westminster decisions.

You say “Yet Ms Sturgeon’s success concealed divisions within the party that have burst into view during the leadership race to replace her. If these are not bridged, then Scottish support for independence may fade from the mainstream and dramatically reshape British politics.”

These divisions were not concealed to us in Scotland but, like most other large UK parties, are part of the tensions all political leaders have to grapple with. The broader aim of independence unites a range of political views just as the Conservatives unite under a loose low tax small state agenda, and Labour contains new labourists alongside those with a far more radical agenda. No-one suggested their agendas would “fade from the mainstream” or significantly change the political landscape.

You say” Without a clear path to independence, the party’s leading lights don’t seem to agree on much. Their recent clashes have taken place at a time when constitutional issues have been eclipsed by concerns about the economy and the cost of living. Despite this, at times, the contest appeared consumed by social, moral and ethical issues” Setting aside the fact that leadership contests would be remarkable if they lacked disagreement, the debate agendas were set on one side by the ordinary party members at hustings events and then by the wider media for tv debates. An LBC debate where the candidates were given more space to exchange views and set out their pitches showed a broader content including the economy and cost of living crisis, although the lack of time in these events obviously makes it hard to go into much depth.

You say ” The party’s electoral dominance has been built on foregrounding the issue of independence, often without answering trickier questions about what a new nation would look like.”

In fact the SNP published several papers setting out their ideas of how a new nation could look but these were generally ignored by a media overwhelmingly hostile to the very idea of Scottish independence. And, if you listen at all to Scottish political debates you would often have heard SNP mp/msps explaining what they felt Scotland could do better if they had full powers, it’s a pity no-one demanded the same for the Brexit referendum.

You say “Historically, Scotland has suffered from poor economic growth, deep pockets of poverty and high inequality”. to which I would add as part of the union and thanks to UK policies.

You go on “Despite promising public service improvement, SNP policies failed to deliver in many key areas” and later mention health service queues and drug deaths. No-one is claiming that Scotland is perfect or that as independent Scotland would be a utopia. But, drill down into these “facts” and you might just discover that with limited powers Scotland has been able to mitigate against the impact of UK policies with new benefits to support families in poverty, set in place measures such as free prescriptions and more rigorous infection control measures which may be a factor in lower covid deaths and intensive care treatment than is the case elsewhere in the uk. Drug deaths and how to tackle these are complex issues often going back generations and exacerbated by poverty and despair, then made worse by being turned into a political stick to beat the SNP with while the highest knife crime statistics in England go virtually unremarked. It feels like Scotland can only be seen through the prism of independence, no other health or education secretary or political leader faces the same hostile scrutiny or resignation calls so it is logical to presume it is our desire (and to you the threat) of independence which provokes a knee jerk hostile response.

Finally, I would like to point out that your UK subdivisions mention Scotland, Wales and N Ireland with no separate section for England. The devolved administrations have to submit financial audits and run legislation past the UK government, but where is the scrutiny of what is happening in England? Our budgets which which comprise money raised in our nations which is then doled back to us minus a contribution towards “UK” projects such as HS2, missiles stored uncomfortably near our biggest city, a Scottish office which works to undermine devolution and countless more we get no say in, is based on English policy decisions – if a majority English Tory government sets up private/public health partnerships this then affects the funding we get allocated for our NHS. By all means oppose the SNP and the idea of Scottish Independence but at least have the integrity to delve a little deeper into why support is still growing especially among younger voters and a bit more scrutiny of what is happening in England. One last point – the polls do indeed show a fairly consistent 50/50 split between indy supporters and unionists but until we have a referendum we will never know for sure if support for either is growing or dwindling, maybe that is why they are so keen to stop one happening?


8 thoughts on “‘Lazy assertions which show no awareness of the complexity of Scotland’s reliance on Westminster decisions’

  1. Well done Nan that’s a superb response to this dross in the Guardian, it’s years since the guardian and the observer could be relied on to issue honest intellectual news and opinions.
    Where is The GERS equivalent for England there is an absolute lack of accountability for spending in England it’s a cowardly deceitful arrangement to give the English comfort in the mess they have created for themselves and the rest of us

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Nan? Has John changed his name? Otherwise a top comment for an excellent response to the Guardian. We all know what the Guardian is shamelessly guarding. Tomorrow’s victor in the leadership race should employ Professor Robertson as an adviser.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. A excellent letter. It expresses far more effectively than I could the irritation I felt when I read the I’ll informed bombastic colonialist pronouncements of the ineffably smug Guardian.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. When you see something like this editorial in the Guardian and how poorly they cover something you know about you then start to look askance at the rest of their output and wonder if it has been given the same poorly researched treatment.


  4. This often happens to stewartb and AlastairG:

    Maureen Pickering
    Replying to
    The ever brilliant
    nails it. I posted this patronising Guardian article and several comments were in tune with what the good Prof states more eloquently here.

    I’ve clarified whose brilliance it truly was!


    Liked by 1 person

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