A Time of Despair For Scots – Blessed With A Neutered Authority in Scotland and Governed by a Bunch of Incompetent Tory Wide Boys In London

 

 

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The 2014 Smith Commission

Lord Smith of Kelvin engaged with thousands of stakeholders across Scotland during the work of the Smith Commission. The outcome prompted him to make a personal recommendation in the Smith Commission Agreement. He said:

“There is a strong desire to see the principle of devolution further extended with the transfer of powers from Holyrood to local communities. The Scottish Government should work with the Parliament, civic Scotland and local authorities setting out ways in which local areas can benefit from the powers of the Scottish Parliament.”

 

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The Unionist Government Approach to Scotland

Scottish Secretary David Mundell stated:

“The choices made by the Scottish Government are significant. Serious cuts to local authority budgets, and absolutely no new devolved powers to raise their own funding. In fact the reverse, with the Council Tax freeze retained yet again. Local councils are starved of any powers to raise their own funding and power and responsibility to make their own decisions should be transferred from Scottish government ministers and civil servants to Councillors in local communities.”

 

Comment:

Mundell studiously ignores the Scottish government efforts to add powers to local government. See:

https://www.gov.scot/policies/community-empowerment/”

b. Workplace parking tax:

Jackson Carlaw, in parliament, complained that “tens of thousands of Scottish workers are to be fleeced for hundreds of pounds a year just because the SNP government can’t say no to six dismal Green MSPs”.

John Swinney responded, insisting that the proposal was about “empowering” councils. He said: “It will enable local authorities to exercise a judgment as to whether they wish to apply a workplace parking levy. The decision will be up to local authorities – it is an example of localism in practice and I would have thought the Conservatives would welcome that. Jackson Carlaw has been found out today, he goes around the country arguing for more powers for local government and when we deliver them, he comes here in an act of rank hypocrisy and criticizes them. The people of Scotland can see through the hypocrisy of the Tories, they can see what the Tories are about, their spots have never changed, they want to cut public spending and they will take the hypocritical way of doing it.”

 

Comment:

Typical “push me pull me politics” from the Tory party. The SNP government devolve Tory supported decision making to local council authorities only for the Tory’s to renege on their support. Never trust a Tory.

 

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 Local Government Funding

The funding of local government, a crucial part of the civic structure of Scotland, has been significantly reduced over the last decade, in direct consequence of the imposition by the Westminster Tory government of a brutal austerity regime that has caused so much damage to Scottish society.

True to form the Unionist Party’s in Scotland repeatedly lie to the Scottish electorate, rewriting the oracle, transferring blame for the reduced funding of councils away from Westminster to the Scottish government.

Their efforts to deceive are actively assisted by a complicit Unionist backing media, including the BBC, (who accrue £325 million annually from Scots). Biting the hand that feeds it is an apt description.

 

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Capital Investment

Capital investment in Scotland dried up between 2008-2015, as funds were directed at major investment programmes in London and the North of England.

The re-elected Tory government was forced by political pressure, to address the lack of capital under funding in parts of the UK, other than England.

It did so through the commitment of new finance to “City Deals”. The deals, funding specific approved developments were to be delivered through local level partnerships, supplemented by appropriately qualified persons from business and other government officials.

Great news, but not for Scots. Huge deals were approved for Northern England (where the Tory’s are weak). Scotland was short changed yet again.

But the Scottish government intervened and allocated finance to Scotland’s “City Deals” correcting and in many cases exceeding the Westminster shortfall.

 

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Double Devo a Warning??

Mundell said:

The Smith Commission Agreement was explicit that responsibility for managing the Crown Estate, which is being devolved in the Scotland Bill, should be further devolved to local authority areas such as Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles or other areas who seek such responsibilities and there is an argument that the UK Government should legislate to devolve these and other things directly to Scotland’s local authorities: so-called ‘double devolution’.

An Englishman, ScepticalChymist commented:

“England’s policy towards its neighbours for centuries has been divide and rule. Religion has been the main tool in Ireland; language in Wales. In Scotland, they have persistently, but so far unsuccessfully, tried to stir up highlander/lowlander or similar regional friction. Hold firm, Scotland… and craft your own allocation of powers when you have achieved independence and are freed up from the malevolent influences of the British State.”

 

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The Mundell Myth – Westminster Control is Being Reduced

Mundell said:

Attention is being given to the crucial issue of breaking up the Westminster central control monolith, and the Conservative Government is setting the pace and leading the way.

The Northern Powerhouse is breaking new ground. It explicitly models itself on Dutch and German models of metro-area devolution and infrastructure integration.

Already major powers over health, transport and planning have been hewn out of the Whitehall monolith and deposited wholesale into Lancashire. And the Midlands Engine is implementing plans transferring powers to the Greater Birmingham area, and their are plans afoot in urban Yorkshire, suburban Hampshire and even rural Cornwall – the direction of travel for the UK excluding Scotland is becoming crystal clear.

There is now a real risk that the towns and counties of Scotland, will be left behind.  The Scottish Parliament has had full control of local government in Scotland for sixteen years. And in that time – what has it done to empower them? What has the Scottish Parliament put forward to match the ambition and vision of the Northern Powerhouse?

The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, set out a new and ambitious approach to give real power to cities, counties and towns in England. The approach is bottom up, not top down.

It does not force changes on councils, but rather it establishes a legal framework to allow local councils to shape their own destinies.

Groups of local authorities can come together to agree their own priorities and set their own paths to take over new powers for their area. It could be taking control of local transport, housing, strategic planning, health, social care and skills training to boost growth and improve lives for their citizens.

And with greater powers comes greater responsibility, accountability and scrutiny, in some cases in the form of directly-elected, metro-wide mayors. And it leads inevitably to thought of fiscal devolution from central government to local councils. I’m sure many councils feel that the recent budget settlement shows the pressing need for a debate on that.

 

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The Reality of Mundell’s Transfer of Powers

The  2014 Smith Commission:

Leaked drafts revealed that formally agreed plans to give Holyrood new powers over abortion law, lotteries, and health and safety at work were dropped from the Smith Commission.

The documents showed that a range of major powers were set to be devolved to Scotland as part of the Unionist “vow” made during the independence referendum, but were axed in the final days of negotiations.

They included full devolution of abortion law and the creation of a separate Scottish Health & Safety Executive.  Both were downgraded to the status of “additional issues for consideration,”  and may or may not be devolved in future.

Plans to give the Scottish Government more control over the treatment of asylum seekers, and a greater say in the governance of the BBC were also removed at the instigation of Unionist parties.

The final draft also included proposals to devolve income tax personal allowances, employers’ National Insurance contributions, inheritance tax, and the power to create new taxes without Treasury approval. However, these were never adopted into an agreed text.

According to sources close to the Commission, Labour, LibDem and Tory members were frequently on the phone taking instruction from their parties in London, with the LibDems and Tories particularly exercised about welfare proposals and Labour more focused on tax.

The Commission chairman, Lord Smith of Kelvin, also appeared to give extra weight to the views of the three main Westminster parties, a source said. “The position that Lord Smith took was that if the parties who were either in the current UK government or might be in the next refused to budge on something, he went with it. The Unionist votes seemed to count for more.”

The BBC revealed that the draft version included late proposals to devolve power to vary Universal Credit. But these were dropped after the UK Cabinet was informed, and only a power to vary the housing cost element remained.

Other powers agreed by the Commission were later cut. The most controversial of these concerned abortion. The decision to devolve had been agreed on a 4-1 basis, with only Labour opposed to it. But during the final day, Labour kept pushing its opposition in meetings with Lord Smith, who then raised it again with the other parties. The Conservatives then sided with Labour and the commitment to devolve abortion was removed.

Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Greens, who sat on the Commission, said: “The reaction against devolving abortion in the final few days surprised and disappointed me. Concerns that Scotland would do the wrong thing and undermine women’s rights are misplaced. The real threat to women’s reproductive rights comes from the voice we hear at Westminster.”

Another missing power was the creation of a separate Scottish Health & Safety Executive. This had long been supported by Labour and the trade union movement, but was removed at the behest of the UK Government. The draft stated: “Power to establish a separate Scottish Health & Safety Executive to set enforcement priorities, goals and objectives in Scotland will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. This was struck out and relegated to the “additional issues” annex of the final report, which said the Scottish and UK governments should merely “consider” changes.

The final draft also included an agreement that: “The power to permit the creation and regulation of new lotteries in Scotland will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.” But the final report devolved only the power to “prevent the proliferation” of highly addictive gaming machines known as fixed-odds betting terminals.

Also removed was a statement that said: “There will be greater Scottish involvement in BBC governance beyond the current right to have one Trust member and the current Audience Council Scotland.”  (The Herald)

 

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Impact of the UK Withdrawal from the EU

In the UK, the Parliament at Westminster is sovereign. This means the UK Parliament has the power to make the final decision on laws and how the country is run. However, the UK Parliament devolved a limited number of powers to the Scottish Parliament. The institution is able to make decisions in certain defined areas.

In the past the UK Government also had to follow laws made by the European Union (EU). Following the 2016 referendum the UK decided to leave the EU and will no longer have to obey decisions made by the EU in Brussels. It is expected that the UK will have left the EU by the end of March 2019.

To facilitate Brexit the UK Government published a list of areas of responsibility, formally devolved to Scotland, indicating Westminster intent to retain power after Brexit.

The 24 powers include those over fisheries, environmental protections, food regulation and animal welfare. Public procurement rules currently held by the EU will also be kept at a UK level.

Comment: I believe the slippery slope through which Scotland’s flirtation with devolved responsibilities and a parliament to boot is likely to be brought to an end, over time. The Holyrood parliament will be declared defunct and all powers transferred to the authority and control of the Westminster government in Scotland. Scottish Tory MP’s (assuming there are some) will serve in the government. The building has been leased and other plans are being developed. Mundell wins the day.

 

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Thatcher Hatchet Man Michael Forsyth Still the Darling Of the BBC – He’s On Question Time Tonight – Yet Again – Read This Then Judge His Contribution

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Michael Forsyth – The Man With Red White and Blue Blood

In a statement, confirming his commitment to the Union, not long after the 2014 Independence Referendum,  Forsyth challenged the way in which David Cameron played the English card the day after the Scottish independence referendum in offering English MPs a greater say over English only laws.

He said:

“David Cameron, instead of going up to Scotland the next day (after the referendum) and saying ‘look we’ve got to look at this now from the point of view of the whole United Kingdom’, started the English votes for English laws thing which was not the true Unionist position and that shattered the Unionist Parties alliance in Scotland against the breakup of the United Kingdom. I do not support English votes for English laws. It doesn’t seem to me to be a very good policy to try and deal with the rise of Scottish nationalism by stirring up English nationalism. We need to find ways of binding the United Kingdom together, of binding that partnership together. Questioning the legitimacy of SNP MPs is unwise and runs counter to the assurances offered during the referendum about guaranteeing an inclusive UK. And I have limited sympathy for Labour, which is paying the price for adopting the language of nationalism in the 1980s then claiming that the Tories had no mandate to govern in Scotland. They now find themselves being devoured by the nationalist tiger.”

Forsyth’s remarks added reassurance because he is an ardent Thatcherite and Unionist who played a leading role in fighting against Labour’s plans for a Scottish parliament in the 1997 election campaign.

Comment:

“Thank you Michael Forsyth! This is pretty much exactly what I thought….. that Cameron played a partisan game certain to inflame Scottish nationalism with an English betrayal only hours after the vote, critically damaging the very Union he claimed to champion, in the interests of a short-term electoral gain. The only question I’ve never quite been able to settle in my head is whether when he made his little play to English nationalism he was stupid enough not to see what this would do in Scotland, arrogant enough to assume that it didn’t matter now the referendum was over, or insincere enough in his professed concern for the Union (which is part of his party’s name) that he didn’t actually care as long as it boosted his chances of re-election. David Cameron, fool or knave? It seems a hard choice (though there is an obvious answer). Cameron blundered hugely: having signed a vow, with other Unionist party leaders, promising Scotland substantially extended devolution then, only one day after the result, turning around and retrospectivy slapped conditions on it. Forsyth’s point was — Cameron took a giant public dump on a signed pledge just days old. A huge kick in the teeth to the “no”voters in Scotland. Not wise!!!!”

 

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If In Trouble Attack

Adding insult to injury, Cameron then instructed the start of “operation totally terrified”, demonising Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. Entire pages of daily newspapers were devoted to the “evolution” of Nicola, complete with “comments” such as “jimmy crankie” “mary doll” and the vile and nasty “She’s a witch! Burn her!” “Did you dress her up like that? No, no, no! Yes, yes. only a wee bit” “But she’s got a wart”and I wish she would have an accident or car crash.” Negative seeding in action!!!!

Unionist politicians of all Parties also continued with their ridiculous claims that Scots sent to Westminster by the voters of Scotland to represent them, were actually “fifth columnists” infiltrating the sovereign English parliament. The Westminster political establishment confirmed the views of many, that Scots were only party to the benefits of the Union so long as they did not attempt to participate in its governance.

The British Nationalists of the Tory, Labour, Lib-Dem Parties were also determined to hold the union together despite their long record of unparallelled economic incompetence, promoting austerity, inequality and privatisation, ignoring the impact of their policies punishing Scots who were entirely blameless of the financial crash of 2007-08.

This offensive behaviour was instrumental in persuading the Scottish parliament to petition for another referendum, refused by Prime Minister May who off-handedly said “now is not the time”.

Comment:

The Unionist Parties burned their legitimacy in Scotland, promising devolution that they had no intention of delivering then, when their votes in Scotland plummeted, indulging in petty acts of revenge, using Scotland as testing site for their most bloody minded policies. ……making dishonest promises to Scotland then indulging in petty acts of spite….sounds familiar. Remember Thatcher?

It is ironic that during the 2014 referendum the “Yes” side was persistently accused by “Better Together” and other “Yes” supporting entities, of paranoia and seeing conspiracy’s against them everywhere. Fears that proved to be entirely justified when, in the months before Xmas 2014 and in the first few months of 2015, the promised additional devolution of powers was downplayed then denied Scotland by the obstructive behaviour of Unionist politicians and the right wing press and media.

 

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David Cameron – The Tory Wideboy Who Conned a nation

Cameron played a dangerous and stupid game with the Union. His idiocy on the steps of Downing Street the morning after the 2014 referendum revealed how the Unionsts planned to put partisan considerations before the national interest and bridge building.

Cameron did not give a toss for the Union, based on his deliberate machinations and incendiary comments…. But bets are that he did care about keeping the neo-liberal gravy train rolling and was prepared to risk breaking up the Union to achieve it. He was a dangerous politician who made it up as he went along, simply to look good, and then flippantly ditching his position, if it no longer suited his purpose.

He is the root cause of today’s Scottish resentment, highlighted by his stupid boastful claim that the Queen “purred down the the phone”, after he “won” the referendum with a mixture of blackmail, dire threats and deceit, but he was a notorious “swinger” in opposite directions on almost everything. He claimed to be a “compassionate, moderate Tory, whilst he simultaneously boasted about going further than Thatcher. He claimed to be green, and claimed to want the “greenest ever government” from the “bottom of his heart”, and then was reported to be going around saying, “let’s get rid of the green crap”. His “hugging a hoodie” posturing saw him claiming that young people shouldn’t be demonized, before his “lock’em up” hysteria after the rioting and looting, and he also terminated housing benefit for the young.

In his impulsive attempt to keep Scotland in the UK he angered Scots and handed the SNP a landslide in the 2015 GE. David Cameron was the SNP’s best recruiting agent.

He was a reckless and dangerous politician who, assisted by Tory backing proprietors and executives of the right wing controlled media and the government controlled BBC, inflicted massive damage on the social fabric of Scotland.

 

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The 2015 GE – Why did Scots Embrace the SNP

Scotland voted against the Unionist Parties because they felt that the Labour, Tory and the Lib-Dem Parties had done “bugger all” for Scotland. The Tory’s shafted Scotland by shutting down and transferring industry to England. More punishment was inflicted when the Labour Government failed to introduce policies reversing the disaster left in place by the Tory’s. What Scotland did get was empty promises, zero-hour contracts and ruthless policies designed to dismantle the “Welfare State” and austerity measures that vastly increased poverty punishing the poor, whist rewarding the cupable rich people so guilty of the financial crash that crippled the UK. Where’s the justice in that? Rich man’s justice. And George Osborne, the Chancellor responsible for the 10 year+ austerity measures added insult with his recent cash purchase of a £3millon house in Switzerland.

 

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The SNP – The Dream Will Never Die – The Architects of Success Live On

 

 

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Alex Salmond – Is This His Political Obituary

Seen as one of the most talented politicians of his generation, Alex already had a high-profile in Scottish politics before he won two historic Holyrood elections as SNP leader, securing the mandate to hold a referendum on Scottish independence in the process.

Born in 1954 in Linlithgow, he graduated from St Andrews University and began a career in economics, working for the Scottish Office and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

He served as party leader from 1990, standing down after 10 years only to make a dramatic comeback to the SNP’s top job before winning the 2007 Holyrood election.

He began his parliamentary career as MP for Banff and Buchan in 1987, building a small team of dedicated supporters who would remain loyal throughout his time in politics.

Often derided by his political opponents as arrogant and self-serving, he nonetheless succeeded in turning his party into the most popular in the history of devolution, on his platform of fighting for Scottish interests.

Despite a hard-fought campaign on the “Yes” side, voters rejected independence by 55% to 45% in the 18 September vote and, the following day, Alex  announced he was standing down as first minister and SNP leader.

At the time of his unexpected resignation he could not have foreseen the landslide SNP victory (gained only six months later) in the 2015 General Election.  A success brought about by the disgraceful backsliding of “Unionist” politicians, their Civil Service helpers and other parties interested only in the containment of Scots within the existing political constraints.

The much touted joint Unionist commitment to fully implement their “Vow” !!!!……to devolve powers to Scotland, just short of independence, proved to be a “lie” that broke the hearts of many Scots who had voted to remain in the Union only on the substance of “Unionist! promises.

Private polling, coupled with a massive increase in the membership, in the months before the election provided early indication of a marked upturn in the fortunes of the Party.

The new blood intake included a number of gifted individuals, many of whom were selected to stand as parliamentary candidates throughout Scotland. The battle for the hearts, minds and votes of Scots was taken up, once again by those who would not be denied freedom from the oppressive Westminster political machine.

Alex, semi-retired from active politics by many, consulted the Party heirarchy and gained support for a challenge for the Banff & Buchan constituency. Which he subsequently won.

The fifty-six 56 MP’s, many of them new to politics, realised early on that they would need to overcome a “Westminster” bias against Scottish politicians.

Rich with talent and enthusiasm but lacking political experience the SNP “block”, of MP’s appointed Angus Roberston to lead it.

Alex took on the role of Foreign Affairs spokesman for the Party ensuring his place at Westminster would be productive but excluding any political input into events in Scotland.

Well able to deal with the tricks of a truculent “Speaker” and the Unionist majority in the Commons he commanded the Commons stage when he spoke to his brief but there was a sadness noting him sitting on the fringe of the SNP group (after so many years viewing his centre stage domination of the Holyrood debating chamber) allowing his leader, Angus Robertson the centre stage.

The unexpected 2017 General Election provided Alex with another  opportunity to bow out of Scottish politics, so that, as an elder statesman he would be able to further develop his interest in foreign affairs, perhaps through the many media outlets who had provided him with numerous appearances over the years.

Spurning the chance of a new political direction he decided to stand, (against advice from those closest to him) once again, for a seat at Westminster, representing Banff and Buchan.

But he, (as did many others in the party) had misread the political scene.

The influence of the large body of SNP MP’s at Westminster had been of little consequence when set against the blatant refusal by the Unionist parties to uphold their 2014 referendum promise to devolve additional powers to the Scottish parliament.

And the campaign managers of the Scottish branches of the Unionist Parties, agreed to assist each other, easing their activity where they had little chance of gaining a seat and in many cases promoting the cause of the Unionist candidates.

Faced with this scenario Alex and many other SNP candidates failed in their bids for re-election.

Alex accepted a need to change direction and investigated a number of media opportunities, the most promising being employment as the editor of a major Scottish tabloid newspaper.

This failed to materialise, due to the application of pressure from major finanacial backers and in consequence Alex became dependent on appearance invitations from the right wing media and BBC. But shock and horror, he was denied that platform through the Unionist controlled entities.

Lesser persons would have given up the ghost by now. But not Alex who turned to the english language television and radio station, Russia Today (RT) and, having been given written assurances there would be no censorship or any other adverse pressure applied to himself, his guests or content, he signed up to produce and present a weekly current affairs television show.

The show proved to be a hit with viewers (it still is) and with his future assured Alex was a happy bunny once again. All’s well that ends well.

 

Clockwise from left: Robin Sturgeon, Harry Murrell, Jim Owens, Ethan Owens, 17, Cameron Coyne, 14, Gillian Owens, Ross Coyne, 12, husband Peter Murrell, Finlay Coyne, 8, Joan Sturgeon, Nicola Sturgeon, Harriet Owens, 8

 

 

Nicola Sturgeon – Alex Salmond’s Protege

Nicola was born in the North Ayrshire town of Irvine in 1970. She joined the SNP at the age of 16, when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.

She said her decision to become an SNP member rather than Labour was borne from a “strong feeling that it was wrong for Scotland to be governed by a Tory government that we hadn’t elected” and that the country would only truly prosper with independence.

After studying law at Glasgow University and working as a solicitor at the city’s Drumchapel Law Centre, Nicola’s entry into full-time politics came at the age of 29, when she was elected to the new Holyrood parliament, in 1999, as a Glasgow regional MSP.

She gained an early reputation for being overly serious, which earned her the nickname “nippy sweetie”.

After the SNP’s victory in the 2007 election, Nicola became Scotland’s Deputy First Minister and Health Secretary, seeing through popular SNP pledges such as the reversal of A&E closures and the abolition of prescription charges.

She also won praise for her handling of the swine flu crisis, and played a large part in the SNP’s historic majority in the 2011 election.

Nicola later described the result – and the dismantling of Labour strongholds across the country – as having broken the mould of Scottish politics, and put the SNP’s success down to being “in touch with the country it served”.

She subsequently accepted one of the Scottish government’s biggest roles, overseeing the 2014 independence referendum, and was the obvious successor to Alex when he stood down as both first minister and SNP leader after voters rejected independence.

In her first six months in the job, Nicola led the SNP to a stunning success in the 2015 General Election, when the party won 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland.

The party also won a third successive victory in the Scottish Parliament election on 5 May 2016, when it won 63 of the 129 seats – short of a majority, but guaranteeing that Nicola would remain as first minister.

Nicola, married Peter Murrell, Chief Executive of the SNP in 2010, after meeting 15 years previously at an SNP youth weekend in Aberdeenshire.

 

 

 

Nicola Sturgeon and her Feminist Agenda

Nicola used her acceptance speech as First Minister to try to reassure opponents her administration would be more than just a vehicle for constitutional campaigning.

But she dwelled longest on her achievement of becoming the first woman to lead the Scottish Government. Her election showed “the sky’s the limit” for women and girls across the country, she told MSPs before adding:

“But it is what I do as First Minister that will matter more – much more – than the example I set by simply holding the office.”

Looking up towards her niece Harriet, eight, in the gallery, she added:

“She doesn’t yet know about the gender pay gap or under-representation or the barriers, like high childcare costs, that make it so hard for so many women to work and pursue careers.

My fervent hope is that she never will; that by the time she is a young woman, she will have no need to know about any of these issues because they will have been consigned to history.

If, during my tenure as First Minister, I can play a part in making that so, for my niece and for every other little girl in this country, I will be very happy indeed.”

Nicola also paid tribute to her predecessor, Mr Salmond stating:

“Without the guidance and support that Alex has given me over more than 20 years, it is unlikely I would standing here. I know that I will continue to seek his wise counsel and, who knows, from time to time, he might seek mine too!”

 

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Peter Murrell – Scotland’s First Laddie?

Peter was born, in Leith, Edinburgh, on 8 December 1964. He attended his local comprehensive, Craigmount High School, then attended Glasgow University. He is not listed as an alumni so it follows he did not finish his degree.

Peter loved music and like many people from Leith he was won over to the Nationalist cause by the Leith born twins, “The Proclaimers” who, at their gigs circulate leaflets promoting the SNP and independence.

He and his close friend, Party stalwart, Angus Robertson, joined the SNP in 1984 and soon became active in the movement.

Angus later left politics for a time taking up a career in journalism with the BBC but Peter chose to remain in Edinburgh and subsequent employment with the Party HQ, in Leith. He never left.

Members of Peter’s family were “new tech activated” and their enthusiasm infected Peter who readily accepted the need to introduce new technology into the daily running of the offices and other operations. It was this early foresight that impressed the Party heirarchy who gave him the authority to expand his activities further developing the use of IT within the Party. The benefits of this foresight would manifest with the Party successes later in Peter’s career.

The mastermind of the SNP’s success is also married to Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first female First Minister.

It is fair to say the huge surge in party ‘newbies’ after the 2014 independence referendum brought a measure of solace to himself, a man who devoted his professional life – and much of his personal one – to the cause of nationalism.

But, Peter is not just married to the leader of the SNP. He is in his own right one of the party’s most powerful and dedicated generals.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon might have been the public faces of the 2014, independence campaign – but the First Minister’s husband was one of its key architects and there is little question that he emerged as one of its biggest winners.

 

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Peter Murrell – Chief Executive and Campaigns Manager

Peter is a passionate Nationalist who,in his early twenty’s, at the start of his tenure with the Party, decided his political career would be best achieved if he worked behind the scenes.

He was part of Alex Salmond’s constituency office team in Peterhead and it was Alex who recognised his talents and sponsored his rise through the party ranks. The two have remained close ever since.

Few people know him well. Rarely seen, except at elections and at Party events, he is nearly always present in the main auditorium, usually standing in the shadows to the side of the stage whispering instructions to Cabinet ministers as they prepare to make keynote speeches.

A powerful and dedicated general blessed with a level of authority more comprehensive than the casual watcher could possibly realise.

By 2001, he was one of the key players in the SNP “back room” and replaced Mike Russell, as Chief Executive.

Under the leadership of John Swinney he assisted with the organisation and delivery of the disastrous 2003 Holyrood elections, in which the Party lost eight seats.

John Swinney resigned as SNP leader in 2004 and Nicola Sturgeon launched a bid for the leadership of the Party, before withdrawing from the contest after Alex Salmond announced his intention to add his name to the list of contenders.

Nicola subsequently agreed to take on the role of Deputy leader of the Party and to “stand in” for him as the Party’s “Holyrood leader” while he remained an MP at Westminster.

The return of Alex Salmond brought promotion to Angus Robertson, who was appointed to the crucial new role of, “Party Campaigns Director”.

Angus made his mark soon after when, in 2006 he announced there would be a meeting at the Speyside hotel, Craigellachie, to be attended by the best of the Party’s “next generation”. Many of whom are still leading Party members today.

Alex Salmond, his then deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, and other key elected members, including Peter Murrell, were left out of the mix to encourage freedom of expression.

The group revisited three important points that would become the mantra of 2006:

1. The 2007 election would be a two-horse race.

2. Only the SNP could beat Labour.

3. It was a straight choice between Alex Salmond and Jack McConnell.

The meeting also complimented a process of reform already under way at Party Headquarters in Edinburgh, in place at the instigation of Peter Murrell.

The process crucially included the development of the then cutting-edge “Activate” computer-based, campaigning data management system and a, “Campaign Plan” comprising five key factors:

1. Communication
2. Governance
3. Message
4. Organisation
5. Resource.

Timelines were agreed for the routine measurement and monitoring of objectives at weekly meetings before, then daily during the last weeks of the campaign before polling. Including:

1. Objectives
2. Critical success factors
3. Performance targets
4. Performance measures
5. Benefits and actions

The unfuddled approach to campaigning, organised and directed by Peter,  ensured the Party would first gain power at Holyrood in 2007 then retain it with a landslide victory in 2011 and to hold a referendum in 2014.

No easy achievement since at the start of 2011 it seemed Labour was in the ascendancy and some senior members of the Party cast doubt on the strategy of the campaign.

Keeping his cool Peter circulated a memo declaring: “We are winning. We are winning with an overall majority and we will win an “independence referendum.” Stirring stuff indeed!!

There was an acceptance that Peter was an invaluable Party asset and he was rewarded with a marked increase in his remuneration package which soared from £35k to more than £100k.

 

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2014 Referendum

Having achieved the first two objectives with clinical proficiency, the third began with polls indicating the “No” campaign would prevail with ease since it appeared only around 25% of Scots would commit to supporting independence.

But fortunes changed as the campaign progressed through the summer of 2014 and by early September polls declared the outcome to be too close to call.

In response and in a desperate panic, only a week before the day of voting and therefore “illegal”,  the “Unionists” published, then heavily promoted “new” offers of greatly increased devolved powers, just short of “home rule”.

The BBC and other media outlets further assisted the effort orchestrating  skullduggery and delivering it through mass media subversive tactics resulting in the pendulum swinging back in favour of the “No” campaign.

Scotland voted “No” to independence on Thursday 18 September 2014, recording Alex Salmond’s place in history, as the man who just failed to lead his country to independence.

But it was not a “one man band” effort. He was ably assisted by Peter  whose performance was commented on by the founder of Edinburgh PR firm Charlotte Street Partners, former MSP Andrew Wilson, who said:

Peter is extremely well-liked by everyone I know and I don’t think we’ve ever had a better chief executive. He is really professional at his job, but is not a professional politician in the sense that he doesn’t ever seek the limelight. He doesn’t want kudos or anything for himself, he’s just assiduously gone about doing his job for such a long time and done it extraordinarily well. A key architect.”

 

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Scottish Voters Angry at Unionist Backsliding On Their Promises Turn To The SNP

Angus Robertson conceded that after the 2014 referendum, no one within the party predicted or planned for what happened next. He said:

“Nobody could have planned for what happened soon after the referendum. People joined the SNP online, others tweeted, ‘I’ve just joined the SNP, why don’t you’? It was like watching something happening that you had no control of. It took up a momentum all on its own….. It was clear that something big was happening and nobody could have foreseen then that the membership levels would continue rising …… breaking all kinds of records.  and it wasn’t something that was politically directed.”

Hindsight can play tricks but I also don’t think anybody could have seen the Nicola phenomenon. It was a conjoining of a number of different factors:

1. Her great talents, which everybody in politics in Scotland has known for a long time.

2. Her taking office at exactly the right time, with her very particular communication skills, style and empathy, which evidently connected very powerfully with the electorate

3. Alex Salmond demitting office and  speedily confirming his candidacy for Westminster.”

 

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The SNP Landslide Victory in the 2015 General Election

The campaign committed the Party to a rejection of the punishing austerity policies inflicted on Scotland by uncaring Unionist politicians. To stand up for Scotland and on the promised delivery of new devolved powers.

The performance of Nicola Sturgeon in the debates, (UK and Scottish) was outstanding and persuaded Scots to the view that SNP reflected their hopes and ambitions.

The participation of record numbers of supporters and volunteers and a very talented range of candidates in the election greatly enhanced the campaign.

The election resulted in a landslide for the SNP who returned 56 MP’s to Westminster, leaving just three, to be shared with the Unionist parties.

Angus Robertson, who  was appointed to lead the SNP team of MP’s at Westminster, said:

“Westminster is going through culture shock in coming to terms with the fact the SNP did so well in the election. That we are here in such strong numbers, elected as Scots who support independence, is also not lost on them. We were elected to pursue an anti-austerity agenda and more devolved powers for Scotland. and we will do just that.”

 

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