Plausible Paranoia – How Westminster hoodwinked the Scots in 1707 and 2014 and their Preparedness to Do So Again – Part 3 – Tories and Labour in Disarray

 

 

 

Annabel Goldie and Ruth Davidson

 

 

Nov 2005: Crisis in the Scottish Tory Party

Press and Public attention transferred away from the SSP, now in terminal decline, to the Tory Party when the Party leader in Scotland David McLetchie was forced to resign from office facing a scandal associated with his misuse of the Holyrood expense’s claims system.

His resignation created yet another crisis in the ranks of an already near decimated Tory Party in Scotland.

lumbered with a Leaderless, powerless, despondent and desperate party that had lost it’s way in Scotland and rejected yet again by the Scottish electorate the controlling Westminster elite, with very little recent knowledge or experience of Scottish affairs within the new Holyrood parliament were at a loss as to the way forward.

The first final decision arrived at by Tory Central Office was to transfer leadership of the party in Scotland to the shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, but the favoured option was swiftly abandoned when rejected by a recently formed Tory MSP group at Holyrood led by Murdo Fraser.

Melt down of the Tory party in Scotland beckoned. But rescue manifested in the unlikely form of a hitherto undiscovered middle aged, grey haired spinster called Annabelle Goldie.

Her view of politics in Scotland was completely at odds with her predecessor, who had slavishly followed the Westminster Party line which was that devolution was an ever present odious threat to the Union and doomed to fail.

Annabelle worked hard, first off convincing her colleagues, garnering their thinking to the view that devolution was a reality and that it presented new opportunities for the Tory Party to become once more a “Tartan Tory” powerhouse providing Scotland with a centre-right alternative to an increasingly left leaning SNP and an incompetent Labour/Lib/Dem coalition government.

Annabelle’s “new way” was actively supported by her deputy leader, Murdo Fraser and reflected her many years of politicking in Scotland, stretching back to the heady days of 1980/90 when Tory MP’s in Scotland numbered in double figures.

Facing the reality that, with only one MP left in place, (desperately clinging on for dear life down near the border) the future for the party in Scotland appeared gloomy and depressing.

It was against this background of unmitigated disasters that at the time she took up the reins of leadership, she said “the wheels are back on the wagon and the nag hitched up to tow it”.

She also gave warning, that “disloyalty or disobedience will not be tolerated so long as I am leader”. “I think you may take it matron’s handbag will be in hyper-action.”

Speaking directly to the Scottish public she said, “There is work to be done tackling the huge frustrations about what devolution is not delivering for Scotland and the Tory Party under my leadership will be united in doing it’s best to ensure there is a robust opposition presence in Scotland. The Tory party was back!!

In parliament, she proved to be a skilled debater. Possessing a dry wit and self deprecating humour, “the matron” very quickly established a positive image of herself and the party at Holyrood and with the Scottish public and press.

But the first test of her leadership was not long delayed when after only a week in office she had to deal with the “deep throat” Tory who had released damaging evidence of David McLetchie’s improper expense claims to the press.

David Monteith MSP, (a right wing Thatcherite friend of Michael Forsyth) admitted to being the source of the leak.

Annabelle immediately withdrew the party whip but forced him to remain at Holyrood, as an independent until his resignation at the time of the 2007 Scottish elections.

In banishing Monteith she reopened wounds that had barely healed and set her on a collision course with a small core of Thatcherite s remaining in Scottish politics, including David Mundell.

 

Murdo Fraser

 

Mar 2007: Only weeks before the Scottish General Election Mundell launched an attack on Party leader Goldie and her team at Holyrood

Murdo Fraser MSP had raised the possibility of a split from Westminster control so that the Party in Scotland would be able to decide upon policy.

Countering the Fraser challenge Mundell delivered a damning statement in a four-page memo to leader David Cameron (leaked to the press) revealing that Tory chiefs had lost confidence in the Holyrood team which was comprised of a “bunch of no-hopers” further claiming there was a “lack of thinkers” among the Tory MSPs who were utterly incapable of coming up with new policies.

He added: “There are more obvious problems than solutions emanating from Scotland from a party point of view. And I see little in the short term that can be done to improve the MSP group situation.”

And he was scathing about Tory MSPs’ abilities saying: “Whilst it is possible to agree in principle that the party in Scotland can make its own policy on devolved matters, the simple lack of strategic thinkers is apparent.”

He went on to urge a purge of lame-duck MSP’s,  the speedy appointment of a new Scottish Party Chairman, new Scottish Party leader and a new management team comprised of strategic thinkers.

Party members and some MSP’s demanded that his suspension and dismissal from office, or hanging from the Forth Road Bridge but Cameron refused to criticise him instead offering his support.

Cameron, Mundell, Osborne and others then conducted a war of attrition against Goldie and (in their view) her outdated Unionist views of the UK which, whilst maintaining the Union gave precedence to the interests of Scotland over the wishes of Westminster.

 

Douglas Alexander

 

 

 

May 2007: Scottish General Election and Local Council Elections held on the same day

The Labour Government was in crisis fending off press and public critisism over the failed Iraq invasion and inceasing military and civilian casualties.

Afghanistan another military and political disaster and Westminster scandals, (cash for honours) requiring Tony Blair to be interviewed by the police, gave warning of a humiliating SNP victory in Scotland.

But Labour had a secret weapon who would turn things around in Scotland.

Douglas Alexander was promoted to the UK Cabinet as Secretary of State for Transport and Scotland.

The SNP lobbied Westminster seeking that the election process, in all respects be transferred to the authority of the Scottish Parliament.

This was refused and the duty was subsequently delegated to, “Wee Douglas” who would also run Labour’s electoral campaign in Scotland.

Elections to Holyrood, in 1999 and 2003 had, (preventing voter confusion) used two separate ballot papers for the constituency and regional lists.

Alexander and Scottish (Labour) government ministers decided that Local Council Elections would be held at the same time as the parliamentary election and both election selections would be printed on one ballot paper.

Civil servants and an independent marketing firm warned that the ballot forms would lead to confusion and a higher-than-average number of rejected votes.

Their advice was ignored, Alexander and the governing, (Labour) Party hit back claiming their changes would prove to be extremely popular. Civil servants and the, “Electoral Commission” were subsequently silenced.

In the election the SNP won by a single vote.  Alexander was hugely praised by Labour Party mandarins since he had almost, “saved the day” for Labour. The elections, were however badly tainted by a chaotic voting process,  blamed on the Scottish Office’s design of ballot papers.

In excess of 146,000 votes were declared void. The largest in electoral history.

Seventeen MSP’s were elected to Parliament with majorities lower than the number of spoiled ballots in their constituency.

There was a public outcry and, “Returning Officers” voiced their discontent about the election process.

Wee Alexander, “Scottish Secretary”, the accountable person that organized the elections, stated there would be a statutory review of the election under the auspices of the Labour Party loaded Electoral Commission.

The Scottish Electorate was outraged and demanded an independent inquiry. Tony Blair was forced to concede and an inquiry was commissioned.

Following an extensive, lengthy inquiry, an official report submitted by, Ron Gould, (a senior Canadian election official), heavily censured Alexander and the Labour Party stating that ministers in the Labour Scottish Government and at Westminster together with Mr Alexander’s political, “self-interested” moves, (as the Labour Party in Scotland’s election supremo), had abused their, “offices of state” making decisions about the election on “party political interest grounds”, with voters treated as an “after-thought.”

So be warned. Alexander and the Labour Party are akin to “snakes in the grass”. They care only for the Party. The voter is a means to an end.

 

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon

 

Gordon Brown

 

 

May 2007: SNP Gains Power in Scotland

In a dramatic and chaotic general election the SNP became the largest party in Scotland pipping Labour by one seat, putting the country on an uncertain course towards independence.

Nineteen hours after the polls had closed, and following see-sawing results, a disconsolate Labour conceded that the SNP had secured 47 seats to its 46 – a desperate setback for Gordon Brown in his backyard as he prepared to take over as prime minister.

Staking his claim to become first minister, Alex Salmond said; “It is very clear indeed which party has lost this election, and the Labour party no longer has any moral authority left to govern Scotland.

Scotland has changed for ever and for good. Never again will we say that the Labour party assumes it has a divine right to rule Scotland.”

The Scottish National Party (SNP) then proceeded to form a minority government which entailed governing via negotiation, garnering support from other parties on each single policy.

Passing annual budget statements became difficult due to continual competing demands often for amendments of little consequence.

It was also possible for Parliament to approve opposition motions effectively blocking or frustrating nationalist ‘control’, with the second, third and fourth largest parties all being unionist, in a co-aligned majority on the constitution.

The major difficulty of cohabitation confronted both the SNP and Labour governments since the Westminster measures attaching to the devolved powers designed to ensure a permanent unionist majority in Holyrood preventing the SNP ever gaining control had failed.

A disgruntled Gordon Brown’s answer was to declare war on the SNP devolving Scottish business for discussion and or decision to civil service mandarins avoiding any contact with Alex Salmond setting the scene for the duration of the parliament making things even more difficult for the minority SNP government.

 

Adam Tomkins

 

 

August 2007 – Republican – Adam Tomkins attacks the Westminster Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill

The “national conversation” initiated by the Scottish Executive in August 2007 has the potential to lead to radically more fundamental constitutional reform than any proposal contained in the Draft Westminster Constitutional Renewal Bill.

In which it was stated that “the Government believes that the executive should draw its powers from the people, through Parliament” but there is nothing in the Draft Bill to write such a principle into the constitutional law of the country.

If, as the Government claims, the country is to be a “representative democracy governed through a sovereign Parliament” then it follows that current constitutional practice with regard to the royal prerogative is contrary to principle.

The complete transfer of power from Crown to Parliament must be done.

The starting principle for executive power should be the same for central government as it already is for local government,  namely, that the government may exercise only those powers which are expressly or by necessary implication conferred upon it by statute.

If this is sufficient for local government why should it not also be for central government?

The personnel of central government is already drawn from Parliament and once in office the government is of course accountable to Parliament for its policies. Given this, there is no reason not to extend the control by Parliament over the government also to its powers.

Thus, Government should possess only those powers which the people, through their elected representatives in Parliament, have expressly or by necessary implication conferred upon it by statute.

This, is the constitutional principle on which the governance of Britain and on which a programme of constitutional renewal should be based.

Comment:

Well! well! Tomkins truly is a republican who believes in the supremacy of the people over politicans and royalty.

Westminster is not therefore the best advert for democracy since it functions solely to meet the needs of the Monarchy, Politicians, business and other lobbying entities over that of the citizens of the country.

It beggars belief therefore that he advances the view that the 1707, “Union of the Crowns” treaty should remain to be the force driving the politics of England and Scotland in the twenty first century and beyond.

 

 

 

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Plausible Paranoia – How Westminster hoodwinked the Scots in 1707 and 2014 and their Preparedness to Do So Again – Part2 – Defoe Strikes Again

 

 

 

Tommy Sheridan

 

 

2003: Shades of Daniel Defoe – The rise and fall of Tommy Sheridan and the Scottish Socialist Party

Tommy Sheridan, Colin Fox and other left wing activists had started making significant in-roads into Scottish politics causing concern in London, triggering long established controlling mechanisms implementation of which would be charged to the British Secret Service (MI5).

Politically active Tomkins established strong links with senior members of a rapidly expanding SSP through the common cause of republicanism.

In the 2003 Holyrood election the SSP increased their MSP representation from one to six and a number of independent MSP’s also entered the new “rainbow parliament”.

In the first year of the new parliament the SSP fought for policies such as free school meals and an end to prescription charges (both introduced in a later parliament by SNP) and campaigned against Home Office dawn raids to remove failed asylum seekers.

But the outward show of unity was deceiving, all was not well, the party was reported to be heavily in debt and in November 2004, its leader, Tommy Sheridan announced his resignation.

A Sheridan supporter of long standing, Colin Fox, who had been elected as a Socialist MSP in 2003, took over and in parliament under his leadership, the SSP continued to pursue its socialist policies, albeit frequently disrupting parliamentary business by way of volatile protest.

Not long after Rupert Murdoch’s, News of the World exposed and destroyed Sheridan’s political career alleging sexual misconduct in office, using information largely gathered through illegal phone tapping of Sheridan and SSP officers.

The editor was Bob Bird, then husband of BBC news-reader Jackie Bird.

Sheridan won a £200,000 defamation action and costs, despite eleven party figures, including Fox, Kane and Leckie, giving evidence against him and later announced he had left the Party.

He went on to set up a new left-wing party, “Solidarity.”

The News of the World refused to give up its attacks on Sheridan and the SSP and the case rumbled on between 2004 – 2016 triggering “Operation Rubicon” which was set up by Strathclyde Police in parallel to a wider inquiry into alleged criminality at the News of the World in London.

The fall out included: A jail sentence for Sheridan. The closure of the News of the World in Scotland then later in England and many charges of illegal phone tapping and fraud being lodged by legal authorities against Sheridan, Bob Bird and Andy Coulson.

A classic MI5 operation possibly never to be proved but the SSP and Solidarity was rejected by the electorate in the 2007 Scottish election and has never recovered its former status.

 

Tommy Sheridan

 

 

Afternote:

After closing arguments and before the jury retired to consider its verdict, Lord Turnbull said the conflicting evidence given to the court may have meant some people had been perjuring themselves – an offence which could lead to a prison sentence.

Tommy Sheridan won his defamation case against the News of the World and the tabloid was ordered to pay him £200,000 damages.

Bob Bird, (husband of BBC news presenter Jackie Bird) then editor in Scotland of the News of the World, said he was “absolutely astonished” at the outcome and indicated he would appeal the verdict.

Days after the closing of the case Lord Turnbull, registered a formal complaint against the conduct of Tommy Sheridan’s legal team, voicing concerns about allegations that had been put to a witness, that she had a conviction for credit card fraud and had served a prison sentence.

These turned out to be false and Sheridan sacked his legal team.

Two months later the Procurator Fiscal ordered police to carry out a criminal investigation into allegations of perjury during the case.

A Crown Office spokesman said it was not possible to speculate on the timescale for the investigation. Tommy Sheridan, dismissed the launch of the formal inquiry as “nothing new”.

In January 2011 Sheridan was found guilty of lying in order to win the £200,000 libel action against the News of the World tabloid, after the longest perjury trial in Scottish legal history.

Lord Bracadale said Sheridan had deliberately committed perjury after ignoring a series of warnings from friends not to sue the News of the World over its allegations about his sex life. He was jailed for three years. He served one year.

Sheridan who was denied the right of appeal, claimed he was the victim of a “conspiracy” involving the News of the World and other unspecified individuals.

Sheridan’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, announced he would appeal and would start legal proceedings against News International, the owner of the tabloid, as well as the Metropolitan police and Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator jailed for hacking mobile phones for the paper.

The trial had been told that Sheridan’s home address, phone number and pin code appeared in Mulcaire’s notebooks when the paper was preparing its exposés of Sheridan’s sex life.

A senior Metropolitan Police detective, admitted at the trial that the force never investigated why Sheridan’s name and details appeared in Mulcaire’s  notebook.

Andy Coulson, until early January 2011 David Cameron’s chief media adviser had given evidence during Sheridan’s trial about the hacking scandal – he had been the paper’s London editor when the stories of Sheridan’s sex life were published and it lost the defamation action.

Referring to Coulson’s very recent resignation as David Cameron’s head of communications, because of an escalating hacking controversy, Sheridan said Coulson should face “real justice” and be prosecuted for the alleged hacking.

The paper’s legal team confirmed it would be appealing against Sheridan’s libel victory and would demand that Sheridan pay all its legal costs if it wins, potentially bankrupting him. Under electoral law, Sheridan would be barred from standing again for parliament if he became an undischarged bankrupt.

The case rambled on for years and finally ended in 2018 with Sheridan retaining the £200k and costs awarded to him in the defamaton case. The News of the World closed.

 

Andy Coulson

 

 

About Andy Coulson:

Coulson became the Conservative Party’s director of communications in July 2007 and following the 2010 general election, he was appointed by David Cameron to the post of Communications Director at 10 Downing Street.

It is alleged Cameron was persuaded by Rebekah Wade to appoint Coulson. The paper quoted: “an individual intimately involved in Mr Coulson’s recruitment” as saying “Rebekah indicated the job should go to Andy.

Cameron was told it should be someone acceptable to News International. The company was also desperate to find something for Andy after he took the rap when the phone hacking first became an issue. The approach was along the lines of, ‘If you find something for Andy we will return the favour”

About a year later, he was arrested over phone-hacking allegations. He was charged with conspiracy to illegally intercept communications and, in 2014, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, eventually serving just under five.

His arrest and subsequent conviction led some to question the prime minister’s judgment.

Coulson was also charged with having committed perjury during the trial in 2010 of Tommy and Gail Sheridan. He was scheduled to stand trial in April 2015 but the trial was postponed to 11 May 2015 because of the general election.

On 1 June 2015, Lord Burns, acquitted Coulson. Explaining his ruling, Lord Burns said that for Coulson to be found guilty it was necessary for the Crown to prove that the allegedly untrue evidence he had given at the 2010 Sheridan trial had been relevant to the issues in it.

Weird this!!! Surely the Crown needed only to prove Coulson to be a liar.

The judge added that it was for him, and not the jury, to decide on this aspect of the case and that the Crown’s legal submissions had failed to satisfy him that Coulson’s evidence had been sufficiently relevant to the Sheridan trial. (So the state intervened and closed all avenues of investigation)

Coulson was defended by the most senior judge in Scotland Richard Keen QC (an old friend of whom there is much more to come)

 

 

 

 

Oct 2004: The Calton Hill Independence Rally

On the day her majesty, Queen Elizabeth officially opened the new £431 million Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood it was revealed that no one would face criminal charges over the fiasco of overcharging.

As expected the Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal declared there was no grounds for complaint after a probe into the awarding of contracts for the Holyrood site.

The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) co-ordinated a rally for independence at Calton Hill in October 2004 at which the “Declaration of Calton Hill”, setting out a vision of an inclusive and outward-looking Scottish republic was presented.

The case was advanced for a Scottish socialist republic without a monarchy or nuclear weapons, with a currency independent of England, a much reduced level of military spending and a relationship with the European Union safeguarding Scotland’s independence.

Addressing a cheering crowd, Law Professor, Adam Tompkins of Glasgow University, reminded them of the Queen’s previous reluctance to pay tax despite her massive income.

He said that the queen had special powers or `prerogatives`, which included being able to appoint anyone she liked as Prime Minister.

You cannot sue the monarchy. He said Tony Blair used these special powers to attack Iraq and there would have no Iraq war without the crown.

In a democracy it is the people who are sovereign and not the crown! He urged the abolition of the monarchy preaching, “If you want democracy down with the crown!”

 

The Declaration of Calton Hill - Scottish Socialist Party

Adam Tomkins addressing the rally

 

 

Oct 2004: The Declaration of Independence was presented to the rally – Did Professor Adam Tomkins Co- Write It With the SSP?

We the undersigned call for an independent Scottish republic built on the principles of liberty, equality, diversity and solidarity.

These principles can never be put into practice while Scotland remains subordinate to the hierarchical and anti-democratic institutions of the British State.

We believe these principles can be brought about by a freely elected Scottish Government with full control of Scotland’s revenues.

We believe that the right to self-determination is an inherent right, and not a boon or a favour to be granted to us whether by the Crown or the British State.

We believe that sovereignty rests in the people and vow to fight for the right to govern ourselves for the benefit of all those living in Scotland today, tomorrow and in future times.

The Government of a country is servant to the people, not master of the people.

We believe that a written Constitution will guarantee, under law, everyone’s right to freely vote, speak and assemble; and will guarantee the people’s right to privacy and protection, and access to information on all its Government’s doings.

We vow to fight for the power to refuse to send our sons and daughters to kill and die in unjust wars in foreign lands.

We vow to fight for the power to banish nuclear weapons of mass destruction from our land.

We vow to fight for the power to acquire and restrict the use of property or lands controlled by individuals, corporations or governments from beyond Scotland’s borders.

We vow to fight for the power to turn our depopulated land into a haven for those fleeing famine and persecution.

We vow to fight for the power to build a more equal society, free of poverty, through the redistribution of our vast wealth.

We vow to fight for the power to protect our soil, seas and rivers for our children and for the generations to come.

We swear to oppose all forms of national chauvinism, imperialism and racism.

We swear to oppose all forms of discrimination on the grounds of gender, ethnic origin, religion, place of birth, age, disability, sexuality or language.

We aim for an independent Scottish Republic in which people may live with dignity and with self-respect, free from exploitation, assuming the responsibilities of free women and men.

An independent Scottish republic will negotiate freely and as an equal with governments of other lands.

Our aim is not to erect walls of separation, but to build an outward looking, Scotland that will extend the hand of friendship to all the peoples of the world.

We vow to continue the struggle for a free, democratic Scottish republic for as long as it may take. The fight is for freedom.

Adam Tomkins

 

Viva la Republic - Scottish Socialist Party

Calton Hill rally

 

 

2005: Pamphlet, “How we Should Rule Ourselves” praising the benefits of a republic over the monarchy co-authored and produced by Prof Adam Tomkins and Alisdair Gray

Rafael Behr of the Observer reviewed the work and said.

Authors, Alisdair Gray and Tomkins make a strong case for establishing a Republican nation writing:

“Courtesy of Queen Elizabeth II, we will elect a new parliament on 5 May.

By Her Majesty’s leave, a victorious leader will then form a government. No royal assent, no power.

That’s the rule.”

It is, say Gray and Tomkins, a rum do. We are all subjects of the Crown, and the power that parliament and the courts wield over us is borrowed from hereditary sovereignty.

Should it not be the other way around, with sovereign people lending power to their leaders on condition of good behaviour?

The book makes the case for republican reform robustly and breathlessly, burning through the story of democracy from ancient Athens to the present day in one drag of a left-wing pamphleteer’s cigarette.

The merits and failings of the English Civil War, the French, American and Industrial Revolutions are emphatically flicked into the ashtray of history.

And, at the end of the yarn, the butt is stubbed out contemptuously on New Labour’s record of constitutional tampering.

What we need, argue the authors, is a parliament without whips and aconstitution without the Crown.”

 

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