THE WIND OOT MA SAILS – To all who are concerned, and to Pete Wishart MP (who should be).
Like a good many other Scots, in Scotland, and around the globe, I woke up on 19 Sep 2014, as one bereaved. And tragically, even a lot of those people who voted No were also gutted. On some level, they must have known the YES group were the goodies. But they had not been convinced. They admitted it, Project Fear worked on them. But here was the thing, before the dust settled on the day, before the next sunset, the whole country, the whole country, had a plan, a solid, clear road map to Indy, and the wind was in our sails.
First SNP Membership rose from 15,000 – 100,000 in months. The 3rd biggest party in the UK. Wow. Then the GE. Lend us your vote, said Nicola, and Yes, No’s and Mibbaes Aye did, overwhelmingly 56 out of 59. And not only that but real human beings got elected. Black, Shepherd, Whitford. Fresh voices, fresh ideas. Right in the face of Westminster and boy did they know it. And then adjusted…… Westminster is the oldest hand at taming its subjects, practice makes perfect. And in spite of the best efforts of the 56, how little did their presence achieve.
And then Brexit, no clear literature, mixed messages from HQ, poor leadership on many a level, and the Yessers divided. On a UK vote leave level a campaign overwhelmingly racist, dumbed down to the most simplistic base instincts, with a big lie on a bus as a salve for their conscience – How much for the NHS a week? … aye right. And no one, not even the most hopeful, devoted Yesser, could have believed the outcome. Every part of Scotland voted to stay, a 62% majority. The democratic contrast between Scotland and England could not be more clear cut. And Brexit, a mystery, wrapped in a soundbite, Brexit means…. blah blah. (the only clear thing about Brexit, is what a total clusterf*ck it is. For the economy, for the prices of everything, for farming and fishing and manufacturing, and human rights, the environment, employment. Nothing, nothing good is coming from Brexit. It’s brexshit and bad all the way, except for the already rich, who will carve up the NHS, and keep their tax havens.) and still, we had a plan, the leadership say ‘hold, hold’ and we get that, ‘patience, there is a plan’. And a snap GE, snap for us, well planned in advance by the Unionist Parties. And not just one, but 2 terrorist incidents in the middle. And still, we had a plan, a mandate, a get out of jail free card, a cast-iron ‘we’ve damned well had enough’ mandate, ‘we reserve the right to call another referendum in the event of extraordinary circumstances, such as Scotland being pulled out of the EU against her will’. Doesn’t get much clearer than that, does it? Didn’t put it in small print, thinking no one would read it did they. I was conscious of voting for it, with that in mind. 3 times, 3 times they tried to scupper it, and 3 times, the people of Scotland voted for this mandate. (2 x GE,s and 1 x SE). And still, in the face of all that Westminster and its complicit whore – the medial, could throw at it, we won, still the biggest party in Scotland. Still the wind in our sails and the road rising up to meet us. Never losing faith, never losing courage, never losing sight of the plan, and never stopping the campaign. And for those of us, worried that there seemed to be a lack of urgency at the SNP party level, a complacency, a quietening on the urgency for another referendum. Well, we put our concerns to one side, with their brilliant governance, and the promise of a peoples’ energy company wow, a peoples’ bank superb (set up by someone from Tesco’s no less – sure to be radical yeh right, fingers crossed). We took comfort from the quiet insistence, ‘hold, hold, patience’. There is a plan, once Brexit is known. And we put to one side, concerns that there appears to be no plan to countenance the nonstop propaganda from the BBC it exists, that at least is acknowledged, but nothing to hit back at it, nothing. No leaflet drops, no public meetings, no poster competitions to get the message out, no car posters for every member with info on them, not some mindless slogan, not a bloody thing. An open goal totally ignored. So we take stock and re-assure ourselves with certain facts, that a party in Governance has responsibilities and has to behave in a certain manner, and we go off and use the grassroots movement to try and plug the gap. And still, the road ahead is clear, there is a plan. And then one day, one week, one month, 3 things happen, and all is changed.
April 2018: War against Syria is waged, on the thinnest and most dodgy of evidence. And the clear siren voice of decency, of common sense and common reason, that voice that rung out in protest over Iraq, that voted in unison against the vote to bomb Syria the first time, that voice, this time became the muted, muffled, so, so, politicians double speak of a bland bank manager.
And next up, Pete Wishart goes to press, ‘now is not the time’ maybe’s later if yir all good boys and girls, after another general election if you stop being naughty and vote for us again. And the song being sung has backing even the Tory party like it.
And the third blow, Wings Over Scotland publish the article ‘Elephant in the Courtroom’ that even if we want to use our mandate, Westminster could stop us, unless we win the right in court, or at any rate, exhaust that avenue. And devastatingly, on this issue, the SNP are deathly silent. Is there a plan, have they considered this, are they even aware of it and just have their heads in the sand. Questions, questions, and of answers there are none. The silence is deafening. And this is truly devastating the grassroots can’t fill this gap. Only the SNP, in government, can implement this. On this issue, we fall. 3 things, 3 things together, have brought me to my knees in a way the 2014 IndyRef vote never did. The wind is out of my sails, I’m bailing out water, and days ago I was sailing on at a good steady pace, plotting a course and making good progress. The shore has never seemed so close, and at the same time so far away.
On 21 April 2018 Pete Wishart reiterated his argument, and I welcome the fact he did so in a more reasoned tone. And I am more certain now than ever, this is policy, the policy being finessed and sold to us, whether we like it or not. And so the purpose of this essay is to address his arguments, in a polite manner. There are some who say any disagreement should be done at branch level, behind closed doors. Pete Wishart’s article was public, therefore the arguments against should be public also. His debate seems to centre around whether we should proceed with a referendum simply because we currently possess a mandate or whether we hold one when there is good evidence it can be won.’
There was nothing simple about obtaining that Mandate, that 3 times won Mandate. If we lose it by waiting for another general election, we lose it forever. Wishart’s ‘I want to see evidence it can be won, and I want to see it held at the time of our choosing when optimum conditions are in place for success’. Well, I want to win the lottery, I want the full bonanza, and I’d like it to happen pretty much now, or at a time when it would suit me best.
Dearest Pete, you will never see evidence it can be won, the Westminster establishment will burn any such evidence, destroy any person who can present such evidence, and take the country to war to distract from any hint of evidence of this kind. ‘At a time of our choosing’ what fantasy planet do you live on?
When ‘Optimum Conditions are in place for success’ there’s no such bloody thing, optimum conditions my arse, what a fair wind, sunny weather, Scotland winning the football? Pete ‘go over what these ‘optimal conditions’ are not’ ‘Less than a year from having lost one-third of our indy supporting MP’s’
Dear Pete – remember Nicola’s phrase, ‘lend us your vote’. Well, they did, and they were disappointed. To go from 6 MP’s to 56 in one vote and then think that’s your new normal is incredibly foolish and presumptuous. ‘we cannot ignore the fact the SNP lost half a million votes’, No you can’t, but where’s your analysis, your evidence, your polls and your research to identify the whys of the loss. Hmmm, pretty big on insisting others show you evidence, you show yours and do so as a matter of urgency. You have people campaigning on the doors, this evidence would be bread and butter to assist them.
‘Optimal Conditions are not when a significant gap exists between support for indy and support for an early indy ref’. Really, you whit!!!! Imagine for a second, that for the second time in Scotland’s history, we get a second chance to vote for Independence for Scotland, and on voting day, do you really think someone is going to go, ‘that’s it, I’m voting No told them to hold it a week on Tuesday, but would they listen, no, well that’ll teach them.
And that Tory voter you met, who previously voted for Indy, bet they voted for Brexit, Hmm, bet they did. And like a lot of them at the time, never gave it much thought beyond the simplistic message about immigration! Speak to Brexiteers now and a significant number of them, now know it’s a damned sight more complicated than that, with zero good news coming through. Immigration has been knocked off the poster board as an issue when it comes to Brexit. Immigration, for those who have that fear, is going to get an awful lot bigger under a Tory Government desperate to strike any kind of deal with India, for which ‘free movement of people will be an absolute condition. Fancy that do you, with workers rights Binned under Brexit. If you want to win back the Yes/Leave voters I‘d strongly suggest the above hard fact might be one to start shouting from the rooftops.
Pete, you say that support for Independence is holding strong at 45%, and then in the next sentence talk about it being opposed by a ‘significant margin,’ that margin is 5%. You identify this 5% as the hardest group to convert. You say we ‘need a new case’ and we ‘have to get on their territory’, everyday issues such as ‘pensions, currency, perceived deficits’ are to be addressed and to win, ‘we are going to have to be creative. On this, I agree and am pulling my hair out at your almost complete lack of ambition. You are aiming for 5%, 5%! Aim for 30%, aim for 40%. Damn well aim to win. And where, where, where is your new case for pensions, your new case for currency, for perceived deficits. Anyone following the issues will know, Prof Richard Murphy has done more work on ‘perceived deficits’ than you – did you print it off, did you do a leaflet drop – did you hell. Currency look to the Common Green, they’ve done all the heavy lifting there. Did you print it off, did you get billboards commissioned with the info. Did you hell. The last time around the SNP produced a 500-page white paper, grassroots Wings Over Scotland produced The Wee Blue Book, thank god they did. You ‘get creative’ if you want to, the rest of us would be better off putting a big simple message on the side of a bus. You talk about returning to a ‘One Scotland’ approach to independence. I do hope you didn’t pay anyone money for that slogan. Money down the drain if you did. You talk of Brexit, of not leaving those who voted Leave. Semi-detached from the Yes Movement, proceeding to another indyref with this unresolved will be like having one hand tied behind our backs.
Well, Pete, let us hear you ‘get creative’ about sorting this one out eh. Suggestions, ideas, policies. Where are they? It’s been over a year since the Brexit vote, where are they? what are they? EFTA, EEA, what about it, argue the case. You say, ’ Brexit will be an unmitigated disaster for our fellow Scots and when it properly hits our fellow Scots will want to review their constitutional options. It (optimum conditions) is hitting the sweet spot when Brexit impacts and people actively want out of an isolated, desolated UK. It means support for the SNP returning to the levels we achieved around the last referendum in electoral contests.’ So you’re going to let an unmitigated disaster befall us, a Brexit impact that will isolate and desolate us, and if we’re good boys and girls and vote SNP in enough numbers you might just honour the mandate we voted for the first time. Stronger for Scotland my arse. Please, please listen, when I say this. If we do not hold another Indy Ref before the next General Election and before we lose our mandate. The mandate will be squandered, our single market membership to the EU will be lost, our economy, our businesses, universities, environment, NHS Scotland, our Parliament, ruined, and gone, gone, gone. These are desperate times, not chosen times, not optimum times, desperate times. Last time we had a choice, a choice for change or no change. This time out we have a fight for survival and only a short window of opportunity to achieve it.
Your current stance has done, what the BBC, the Tories, the Labour Party and the No Voters could never do. You’ve taken the wind from my sails. That’s me for now. Now, where did I leave that pair of oars? Yours in kindness and in commitment. Daisy Walker
Blackman is an MP who evidently enjoys her reputation as a “shock jock.” This article pulls together a number of incidences of her ongoing confrontational politicking in the media against anyone possessing the temerity to challenge her views. Her irrational behaviour is a cause for concern amongst her constituents and other political observers who have noted she suffers from recurring depression due to the stressful environment she is required to work in as an MP at Westminster. It might be in her best interests if she stood down for a time.
2 Jan 2018: The Blackman Interview
Blackman, the SNP’s deputy leader at Westminster, is rejecting hugs. She said: “I met someone recently and we had a conversation about whether or not they would give me a hug and actually I don’t particularly want people to hug me. If somebody goes to hug me and I don’t want them to hug me, I say: “excuse me, I’d rather shake hands.”
This no-nonsense approach is characteristic of the 31-year-old, who has represented Aberdeen North since 2015. As well as being deputy leader of the SNP group in the UK parliament, Blackman speaks for her party on the economy and caught the public’s attention when she was censured by the parliamentary authorities in 2016 for bringing her two young children to a Commons committee hearing.
Blackman argues much more could be done to improve parliament as a workplace, starting with its bars. She said: “I don’t think that the problem is that we have bars because I think it is reasonable that people have somewhere that they can go in the evening and have a drink after work. What I do think is a concern for me is the way that those places are managed. I’ve worked in pubs before. There are people that come to any one of those bars that there’s no way I would have served.” I would have said: “You’re too drunk. Get out of this place. If you have them run as professional bars, rather than some kind of social club, then you have a situation where everybody is much safer.”
Her party’s other preoccupation is Brexit, on which the SNP believes it has a clearer policy than the constructive ambiguity of Labour’s. “I think the key thing that’s differentiating us from Labour at the moment is their policy on Brexit because they are in an utter shambles. The SNP have that absolute consistency that we believe we should be members of the European Union; if we’re not going to be members of the European Union we should be members of the single market and the customs union.”
She is markedly less keen to talk about Scottish independence, the SNP’s founding principle. She says she is not in Westminster to pressure the government for a referendum. “I don’t think most folks in their daily lives give two hoots about whether Scotland is a member of the union. The constitutional issues are not the biggest concern for an awful lot of people and, in fact, I very rarely talk about Scottish independence in the chamber, because I talk about things that matter to the people of Aberdeen.”
Blackman confirmed she will keep gender equality in the public eye saying: “I think there were a lot of people who came out and said: “We’ve got zero tolerance of this,” and then it kind of fizzled out. I would like this to stay as something that we’re talking about on a regular basis and I am determined not to let the sexual harassment scandal drop.”
5 Feb 2018: The SNP has failed to make the case for Scottish independence
Blackman, MP for Aberdeen North since 2015, said her party needed to accept that most voters were simply not obsessed with the independence question. She said: “There is a framing issue around it. A lot of people don’t get up in the morning and think about the union and how wonderful it is for their lives or how wonderful independence would be for their lives. Even ardent supporters of independence or unionism don’t think about those things. They get up in the morning and think ‘should I put on the washing?’ or wonder how much their shopping bills are going to cost. What we need to do is make the arguments relevant to people. That’s something politicians have struggled with and haven’t done well enough. We need to be talking about the economic benefits of independence because I believe there are lots of them and how that would impact people’s daily lives.
18 Jul 2018: Scots should do it for Nicola
Blackman said that growing the country’s population should be a key priority in the wake of a future Yes vote and this would be most easily achieved by increasing levels of immigration”. Adding: “Denmark decided it would do a thing called ‘Do It For Denmark’ and Scotland’s leaders could follow the example of other nations by encouraging more reproduction”.
1 Jul 2020: SNP deputy leader at Westminster quits her post
Kirsty Blackman quit her leadership role after saying her mental health was being adversely affected by the impact of the Covid lockdown. She indicated her intention to continue to support her constituents in Aberdeen North. She has been open about mental health in the past, tweeting in 2017 that “talking about depression is hard.”
21 Jan 2021: LGBTQ row surfaces on Twitter
Sarah Phillimore’s Twitter account was removed from the platform for allegedly violating its rules against hateful conduct. Heavily criticising the ban, Joanna Cherry, the MP for Edinburgh South West, told followers of the site that she was “calling out” Twitter for “sexism” and “human rights violations”, adding that the company’s hateful conduct policy “did not protect women.”
In response, that same day “Out for Independence”, the official LGBTQ+ wing of the SNP, posted a challenging tweet stating: “As an inclusive, intersectional organisation we condemn the support given to Sarah Phillimore by an SNP MP,” they followed up by writing: “Phillimore’s antisemitism and transphobia are not part of Scotland we want to see – bigotry in all forms must be opposed.”
Joanna replied to the tweet, labelling it grossly defamatory and in breach of the SNP code of conduct and said: “Your attacks on a prominent party representative who is also a lesbian are disgraceful.” Adding: “I’ve reported it to the party’s National Secretary & he has promised me to take urgent action.
Blackman, took a contrary view, tweeting her support for “Out for independence, she posted: “I often disagree with daft moderation policies by social media companies, but in this instance, they should be praised for censoring or banning someone for spouting transphobia or anti-Semitism, rather than criticised. Like so many in the SNP, I continue to oppose both transphobia and anti-Semitism”. Adding “I’m no QC, but for something to be defamation, doesn’t it have to be, err, untrue?”
The spat revealed the ongoing battle within the SNP over the party’s stance on proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), which would allow people to “self-identify” as trans or non-binary without receiving a medical diagnosis for gender dysphoria.
Stuart Smith, together with some other members of the group, recently resigned from his post as Vice-Convenor an “Out For Independence” telling followers he “could no longer morally justify staying in a party that has become a breeding ground for bigotry.”
Concerns over the resignations were raised to the party leadership and hours later, in an extraordinary intervention, Nicola Sturgeon posted a video message on Twitter, insisting that transphobia should be treated with “zero tolerance” in the party. Pointedly addressing the members who had resigned, she added: “That is not acceptable to me – as SNP leader I will do everything I can to change that impression and persuade all of you that the SNP is your party and you should come home where you belong.”
The following evening, the SNP announced that it’s National Executive Committee would convene to draw up a definition of transphobia to be added to the members’ code of conduct.
A statement signed by the Business Convenor, Kirsten Oswald, and the Depute Leader, Keith Brown, stated: “a number of members left the SNP because they did not consider the party to be a safe tolerant place for trans people. We are sorry that we’ve let you down and today pledge ourselves to change. The SNP does not and will not tolerate transphobia. We all need to have an open conversation about how we got here and how we remove the toxicity from our discussions. Discussions and debates should always be constructive and respectful. The protection of women’s rights is vital. However, transphobia under the guise of concern for women’s rights is still transphobia. Anyone can have a strongly held opinion without the need to insult, offend or display prejudice against others. And that’s the place we all need to reach. Transphobia is just as unacceptable as racism, homophobia and sexism. And trans people have as much right as anyone to feel safe, secure, valued and respected for who they are. We are an inclusive party, and we always have been. The SNP has always been a family for those who believe in independence. A number of members have recently left because they felt they were not welcome anymore. But they are. And we hope they will reconsider and re-engage. It is clear that we have work to do.
A number of initial requests will go to the NEC this weekend including the need to agree to a definition of transphobia so that all SNP members know the standard of behaviour that is expected from them. Where complaints against individuals are made on this or any issue, the National Secretary will consider these fairly and decide if further action is required. All complaints will be considered without fear or favour. For anyone thinking about leaving the party. Please talk to us before you do. We have already reached out to our youth organisations and Out for Indy to allow those affected to talk to us directly about their concerns. We know we have work to do. So please help us shape the future of the SNP. Let’s work to get towards a more progressive equal independent Scotland.” (Scotsman)
1 Feb 2021: Joanne Cherry sacked from SNP frontbench at Westminster
Joanna Cherry, an advocate and queen’s counsel and one of Nicola Sturgeon’s fiercest internal critics, has been sacked from the Scottish National Party’s frontbench at Westminster after a public feud with its former deputy leader Kirsty Blackman.
The former spokesperson for home affairs hit out at her Westminster colleagues and party leadership over its strategy on independence and implied that she would continue criticising party leaders from her new position on the party’s ruling national executive. She tweeted: “Westminster is increasingly irrelevant to Scotland’s constitutional future and the SNP would do well to radically rethink our strategy.”
Joanna was elected to the national executive as one of the most senior SNP activists openly critical of Sturgeon’s cautious approach to staging a second referendum and of her stance on transgender rights. A supporter of “gender critical” campaigners, she also has close links to the Women’s Pledge grouping of SNP activists who won seats on the national executive and other party committees who argue that the Scottish government’s measures to strengthen the rights and protections for trans people are eroding rights for women.
She also clashed with Kirsty Blackman, the SNP’s former deputy leader at Westminster, over the SNP’s policies on trans rights. It was not the first time the two had disagreed on the subject on social media. Blackman, who quit as Commons deputy leader last year and is now an economy spokesperson, said on Twitter that trans people and their supporters were leaving the SNP because of Cherry’s behaviour and that of senior party figures, and then said: “Things have moved on since the 80s.” To which Joanna responded that she had done nothing to set back the rights of trans people. The MP, herself a lesbian, further accused Blackman of breaching the SNP’s code of conduct with her tweet, adding: “I’ll ignore the ageism as I wouldn’t expect a privileged young straight woman to know what it was like for lesbians in the 80s.”
The Day after, Sturgeon broadcast a video on Twitter, in her role as SNP leader, insisting that transphobia had no place in her party and adding that there had been a number of resignations by younger party members critical of the perception the Scottish government had been diluting pro-trans measures in recent legislation.
8 Mar 2021: Blackman tweeted: Having had to resign as deputy leader last year due to my health and scaling back my work in Parliament dramatically I am now ramping it up again.
28 Apr 2021: Blackman speaks about depression
Appearing in person in the Commons after more than a year she told MPs: “This is the first time that I’ve stood in this House to speak since January 2020. During the past year and a bit, I’ve been battling with the black dog of depression.
4 Oct 2021: Blackman demands Joanna Cherry’s sacking
Yet more confirmation of the bitter rift between them was revealed when Blackman shared a public message demanding the sacking from the Party of her colleague in a deepening row over gender and trans rights. It also showed how the wider debate on women’s rights, transgender issues and the right for gender self-ID is causing splits in the SNP.
Blackman deleted her demand later in the day but apparently unrepentant added: “I am clear though, the SNP needs to do more to tackle internal transphobia, including sanctioning or expelling those in the party who are transphobic.”
Joanna responded on social media, saying: “As a lesbian and a feminist I’ve spent a lifetime campaigning for equality and to be clear I support trans rights. What I don’t support is the right of any man to self-ID as a woman and access the single-sex spaces which the Equality Act protects for women and girls.”
24 Oct 2021: SNP researcher has been suspended from the Commons
Jonathan Kiehlmann retweeted an extremist post advocating armed violence against women who defend their rights under the Equality Act. His behaviour was particularly sickening because he retweeted the repellent tweet just one day after the murder of MP David Amess.
The incident occurred in the week when Blackman, branded an LGB gathering across the road from Parliament a “hate conference” knowing that her colleague Joanna Cherry and several other MPs & peers would be attending.
Blackman even showed up to join a picket of the conference although she later tried to laugh it off and pretend she was just having her photograph taken.
Guess who the armed violence against women used to work for in the House of Commons? Blackman of course. And the real scandal is that the hate-mongering MP for Aberdeen North hasn’t received so much as a slapped wrist from her Party. (https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1452228971328851973.html)
5 Nov 2021: SNP MP facing calls to resign after apology for ‘abhorrent’ post about suicide
Facing sanctions for breaching lobbying rules and following the suicide of his wife Rose, Owen Paterson, made the “painful decision” to resign his position as MP for North Shropshire. The day after Blackman, in a brutal political attack on the Tory politician included an ‘appalling’ reference to his late wife’s suicide: “Missed your bus because your wife committed suicide and so you were two minutes late to your jobcentre appointment? – Lobby the Government on behalf of companies who pay you £9k a month? oh, you poor lamb, no sanction for you.” Blackman later retracted the tweet after a sustained backlash from appalled Twitter users and said: “After some reflection, I have deleted a tweet I made earlier. I offer my unreserved apologies for tweeting it, particularly to anyone who may have been upset or offended. I’m sorry.”
29 Nov 2021: Ministers urged to probe LGBTI charity in a row over ‘online hostility’ against gay MP
Joanna Cherry has written to Shona Robison, the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, asking her to get officials to “investigate and report” on the Equality Network’s decision to publish a tweet that the MP says resulted in a “large volume of hostile communications” aimed at her.
It stems from a row when it was claimed Joanna had endorsed conversion therapy sometimes called “reparative therapy” or “gay cure therapy,” the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In a tweet, she said: “Reconversion therapy which any right-thinking person should oppose we must not make it a criminal offence for therapists to try to help patients with gender dysphoria to feel comfortable in their birth sex.”
Blackman tweeted that she had complained about Joanna “through the proper channels, repeatedly, for years” and yet it had “resulted in nothing happening and these views still being expressed – and still causing harm to so many people.”
The Equality Network which receives around 90% of its near 530K funding from the SNP Government also shared a picture of Joanna’s tweet, adding the comment: “apparently we must not make it a criminal offence for therapists to try to help lesbian & gay patients to feel comfortable in a mixed-sex relationship. Conversion therapy is harmful and wrong whether it’s trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or their gender identity.”
In her letter to Robison, Joanna said this was an “abhorrent statement which I had not, and would never make about the use of conversion therapy in relation to the sexual orientation of lesbians and gay men.” Adding: “The statement had been placed in quotation marks above an image of my earlier tweet; it was clearly intended to attribute this view to me.” She went on to say that the decision to put the offensive words in quotation marks led to “numbers of people assuming that those were a direct quote from me. Such a reading could have been easily anticipated. That impression and the more general association of my original statement with this offensive view undoubtedly contributed to the large volume of hostile communications I’ve received this week.”
Joanna then said the taxpayer-funded organisation had behaved “recklessly” and urged Robison to “make it clear to the organisation as a matter of urgency that this was inappropriate behaviour and to obtain reassurances from it that it will now manage its communications in a way that prevents any similar occurrence. MPs, MSPs and others engaging in debates about policy and law should not expect government-funded organisations to go out of their way to generate online hostility towards them. Yet that is what happened here. I suggest the SNP Government, as its funder, should seek an apology to me from the Equality Network for its action here.” (Holyrood)
Blackman attacks LGB Alliance
Hardly befitting conduct of a sitting MP to castigate the UK’s only charity formed on the basis of sexual orientation. It’s astounding that a sitting MP can label a charity based on protected characteristics a hate organisation. It doesn’t look like the SNP are capable of ensuring their MP’s, Councillors, or indeed, Researchers live up to standards that don’t bring Parliament into disrepute. (https://voidifremoved.substack.com/p/smearing-the-lgb-alliance.)
What attraction does UK politics in Westminster hold for aspiring Scottish LGBTQQIAAP politicians?
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Allies, Asexual and Pansexual members and their staff take up around 35% of the SNP Parliamentary contingent. The SNP has a duty of care to its MP’s and their staff and stories of the abhorrent behaviour of significant numbers of the Westminster establishment must give cause for concern. It is time to bring an end to Scotlands participation in the politics of the madhouse that is Westminster.
London is a cesspit society hosting crime, vice, drugs, sex, politicians, lobbyists and agents of foreign governments of all ages and sex who prey on vulnerable and impressionable politicians new to the metropolitan scene. The churn factor is high with deaths and casualties primarily drug-related or otherwise linked to the hedonistic lifestyle much enjoyed by a financially favoured elite who live much of their lives funded by the taxpayer entering politics direct from university taking up political advisor posts through nepotistic or cronyism arrangements.
Britain’s 900-year-old historic Palace of Westminster, the seat of government, is home to a subculture of booze-fuelled revelling that puts many a university campus to shame. Long accused of inhabiting a “bubble” removed from the outside world, many MPs, parliamentary staff and political hangers-on not only work together but socialise, drink, and sleep together too. It is a lifestyle pattern made even easier by cheap alcohol offered in parliament’s taxpayer-subsidised bars and the nearby haunts of Soho.
Addicted to Chemsex – a horror Story
An increasing number of gay men are taking part in multi-day, drug-fuelled orgies – despite the health risks. Chemsex is identified as the habit of engaging in weekend-long parties fuelled by sexually disinhibiting drugs, such as crystal meth, GHB, GBL and mephedrone. These parties involve multiple people and are mostly facilitated online. Those involved in the subculture directly link chem sex to alarming rates of HIV infection. In London, four new positive diagnoses are currently made daily linked to the practice of “pozzing up”, knowingly becoming infected with the virus. Meth, meph and G create a potent cocktail enabling extremes of behaviour, which carries significant risks for the sexual and mental health of habitual users.
Conservative MP and former deputy speaker of the House of Commons accused of sex offences
Swansea born Tory MP, Nigel Evans, formerly a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party from 1999 to 2001 was one of three deputy speakers elected in a secret ballot of MPs in 2010. Later that year he came out as gay, saying he was “tired of living a lie”. The MP for Ribble Valley in Lancashire made a personal statement in the House of Commons resigning as deputy speaker of the House of Commons after he was charged with two counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault and one of rape. He made an appearance in the crown court at Preston.
It was in Westminster environment that Nigel Evans fell into the trap of what his defence barrister called “drunken overfamiliarity” with researchers at the heart of Parliament’s thriving gay scene. “Parliament is a very easy place to be openly gay,” one Westminster researcher said. And there are also MPs who are publicly heterosexual but covertly gay, some of whom make passes at men in parliament. Double standards did not only apply to gay MPs masquerading as straight, but also to senior politicians who were publicly happily married but who had a predatory approach to the young staff of both sexes.
Another researcher reeled off a list of “infamously sleazy” MPs from all parties that women in his social circle actively avoided. “It’s not just the odd remark, it’s the wandering hands as well. Some seem attracted to the power thing or think it’s part of getting on in a party, so it’s definitely not the case that the advances are always unwanted.”
Drinking hangouts spread over to nearby Whitehall pubs and elements of the parliamentary gay scene have expanded into Soho. For researchers, the heart of much of the shenanigans is the cheap booze available at the Sports and Social Club which is home to a rowdy Thursday karaoke night attended by SNP MP’s and staff.
There is also a steady stream of free beer and wine provided by lobbyists at receptions in the Commons and Lords, says one staffer, with the most raucous nights ending up in the nearby Players Bar. He said: “You could have a free drink every night of the week if you wanted to gatecrash all the parties. Many do. You can criticise the researchers for taking advantage, but if you didn’t network with colleagues you’d be dead. It’s part of the job.”
Barrister Henry Hendron hit with a fine for slagging off Nigel Evans trial witnesses in blog
In a recently-released finding, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) found that Middle Temple member Hendron had: “behaved in a manner which could reasonably be seen by the public to undermine his integrity and diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in the profession”.The regulator slapped Hendron with a £2,000 fine for professional misconduct. Hendron got into hot water for publishing a blog that contained “disparaging statements against witnesses” in the trial heard at Preston Crown Court involving the high-profile case of former Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, Nigel Evans MP, who was ultimately acquitted of nine counts of sexual offences.
Hendron, a chum of Evans, blogged: “I am a barrister, but I shall not be representing Nigel at court. My involvement is one of providing advice, assistance and support in this difficult time. Criminal law is not really my thing. It doesn’t usually pay for a start. Don’t get me wrong. I have done my share of Crown Court trials, but my practice has, inexplicably, meant that I have tended to represent the well-heeled and the well off in civil and family courts. Most of the complainants’ are known largely as self-serving, with their own political agendas, with a manipulative and selfish streak. A number of them that I know of are connected to each other, and indeed only a week prior to Nigel’s arrest, he was socialising with some of them. In my view, knowing what I know, some of these people are not victims but duplicitous individuals, acting together in a pack like a mentality to bring down a well-respected and well-known politician; I suspect in the fullness of time some of them will waive their right to anonymity to cash in their ‘stories’.”
Lawyer Henry Hendron arrested after boyfriend dies of a suspected drugs overdose
A top London lawyer has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after his boyfriend died of a suspected drug overdose. Henry Hendron, a 34-year-old civil barrister, was arrested after the sudden death of his boyfriend, 18-year-old Miguel Jimenez.
BBC producer admits supplying ‘meow meow’ after Henry Hendron’s boyfriend died of an overdose.
Alexander Parkin, 40, appeared in the dock together with top barrister Henry Hendron, 35, who denies supplying drugs. Hendron’s boyfriend, waiter Miguel Jimenez, 18, died from an overdose at London’s Temple, the buildings housing the country’s top legal chambers.
Hendron denied two counts of conspiracy to supply controlled drugs and further denied two counts of possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply and two counts of possession of controlled drugs.
BBC executive Alexander Parkin 40 pleaded guilty to two counts of supplying controlled drugs admitting handing out party drug meow meow at the bash where Hendron’s teenage boyfriend died of an overdose. Defending Parkin, his solicitor said: ‘He is 40-years-old, he’s an executive producer at the BBC, he has one caution for possession of Mephedrone – there’s clearly a background to the abuse of narcotics.’
Celebrity barrister Henry Hendron is spared jail
Hendron, bought £1,000 of Mephedrone and GBL from BBC producer Parkin, to take to parties and sell on to friends. On the morning after yet another orgy, Hendron woke to find his Colombian boyfriend Miguel Jimenez, 18, lying dead next to him in bed at his exclusive flat in London’s Temple, the collection of chambers where Britain’s top lawyers and judges are based.
Hendron’s conviction may mark the end of a glittering career for the Tory lawyer once tipped to lead the party. As a 17-year-old schoolboy Hendron addressed the 1998 Conservative Party conference calling for the re-introduction of corporal punishment. He acted for Tory MP Nadine Dorries when she was accused of smearing a rival during the 2015 election campaign and other clients include the Earl of Cardigan and The Apprentice winner Stella English. He was sentenced to a community order with 18 months of supervision and 140 hours of unpaid work.
Chemsex, drugs and death: The lawyer who lost his lover
Hendron (a high-profile barrister who had represented MPs, aristocrats and reality TV stars) said the couple, would take the drugs together during group sex sessions — called “chem sex”. The drugs, along with crystal meth, are often associated with chem sex due to their ability to induce heightened arousal, sexual stamina, and reduce inhibition. Sex sessions may last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, and Hendron estimates he was spending “anything up to £1,000 a weekend” on drugs.
Up until the age of 30, Hendron, who came from a conservative Catholic family and was earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year with the prestigious Strand Chambers law firm, had never touched drugs in his life. But after trying them at a private event, he quickly became hooked, engaging in chem sex sessions most weekends. He said they offered an escape from a high-pressure job and he wasn’t alone. “In the London gay chem sex scene, a lot of people that do that are actually doctors,” he said. “They’re professionals, they’re lawyers. “And a lot of them manage to juggle this lifestyle — weekends of drugs — and then they go to work perhaps a bit worn on Monday, but they manage.”
Apparently, learning nothing from the death of his young boyfriend Henndron later embarked on a series of chem sex binges that at one point saw him overdose on GHB and end up in intensive care.
Why didn’t BBC mention its drug dealing executive Parkin in the ‘chem sex’ story?
The BBC came under fire for interviewing celebrity barrister Henry Hendron who supplied the drugs that killed his teenage boyfriend, and not mentioning that he bought them from one of its executives. Hendron was given a key interview slot on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. But despite an extended interview and a follow-up piece on ‘chem sex’ drug use in the gay community, there was no mention of the fact that BBC executive producer Alexander Parkin had sold the lawyer £1,000 worth of designer drugs. In the programme, Hendron described his arrest as ‘traumatic’ and saying he had been “treated like a criminal” admitted supplying the drugs that killed Mr Jimenez. He had bought £1,000 of designer drugs from Parkin, 41, to sell on to revellers at a ‘chem sex’ party at his flat at his legal chambers. The ‘chem sex’ phenomenon sweeping the gay community, involves participants taking drugs for up to a week at a time and having sex with multiple partners.
A spokesman for Mediawatch UK commented: “Listeners could have been forgiven for getting confused as they heard a man who has pleaded guilty to supplying drugs that killed his teenage boyfriend that was originally supplied by a BBC producer describing his illegal drug use as a “nice experience” and saying how upset he was at being treated as a criminal. There’s certainly a judgment issue to be looked at here it’s one thing raising awareness of the effects of drug use, quite another to be giving a platform at breakfast time to a drug dealer who should be facing prison.”
The increasing profile of hedge funds in the Scottish property market
PineBridge Investments is a private, global asset manager with $150.0 billion in assets under management. It draws its success from decades of investment across a number of asset classes operating through a network of global offices with talented and highly rated investment teams and a world-class infrastructure. Clients include pension plans, insurance companies, official institutions, private banks, advisors and intermediaries.
PineBridge Benson Elliot, owned by Pinebridge Investments, is a UK-based, FCA-regulated fund manager with $3.2 billion of managed equity and holds a diversified real estate portfolio, currently comprised of office, retail, hotel and residential assets in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Central Europe.
Sigma Capital Group, owned by Pinebridge Benson Elliot is an Edinburgh-based residential development and urban regeneration specialist with a value of £188.4 million. Having delivered 5,400 homes to date it is investing heavily into the UK private rental sector with the intention of growing the business through the formation of new long term house builder partnerships, expanding additional capital towards new Private Rent Supply (PRS) opportunities into new regional markets further widening its rental product offering.
Comment: The SNP government has invested in excess of £2Bn into the private sector building industry. Hedge funds based offshore are gaining control of the build and rent and affordable house purchase and rental housing market through their subsidiary companies and this cannot be good for Scotland since profits are being siphoned off into offshore accounts and effective controls are impossible to sustain.
About Springfield Properties
The Elgin-based company which became housing developer Springfield Properties was founded as a market garden in 1956. By the late 1970s, the company retained just 10 acres, all of which had been zoned for housing. But in 1989 having failed to sell the land to a developer, the company was turned into a housebuilding business and built around 100 houses. The success provided finance allowing the purchase of 130 plots of land in Forres on which it built houses. The venture was profitable and by the mid-2000s it was turning over about £20m.
2006-2008 brought a bubble in the housing market. The company sold around a third of its landbank and moved its operations to build affordable housing taking on much-reduced risk. This protected the company from the property market crash and the upturn in the market saw it in a strong position, with no bank loans, and a contract for a 438 house development in Morayshire. The change also provided the opportunity to expand operations into Central Scotland where there were many unfinished blocks of flats where developments had gone into liquidation. In 2011 the company cemented its place in Central Scotland when it acquired the Scottish business of listed builder Redrow. This allowed the company to continue its growth pushing past the £100m mark in the year ending March 2017.
The company built 75 family rental homes (rental value around £0.85m per annum) for Sigma Capital Group, the residential development and urban regeneration specialist. The site was the first development of single-family homes for the private rented sector in Scotland and is part of a substantial, new standalone village development of around 3,000 homes already well underway by Springfield at Bertha Park, outside Perth on the Ruthvenfield Road and marks the launch of Sigma’s rental brand, “Simple Life” in Scotland.
Springfield Properties New villages/towns
The company formed partnerships with local councils committing it to the creation of 5 new villages in Dundee, Edinburgh, Perth, Elgin and Stirling with an expected population of around 3,000 each. They are at various stages of planning and/or building at the start of 2022.
Perth and Kinross Council approved the construction of 75 houses for families to rent privately. Bertha Park Village also includes a convenience store, play park and secondary school and was the Scottish housebuilding company’s first development under a private rental sector partnership, which it entered into with Sigma Capital in September last year.
Springfield said the development of the PRS housing will provide it with a further revenue stream, strong cash flow visibility and will increase the build-out rate of its villages. Chief Executive Innes Smith said: “These high-quality, professionally-managed homes will be an asset to the community and attract those who might not yet be ready to buy but want to benefit from everything our villages have to offer. The development of PRS housing will also further diversify our revenue streams and provide additional visibility over future sales.”
Springfield Properties recently received consent to build a 3,042-home village over 20 years at Durieshill, Stirling. The project will create an entirely new community served by a range of amenities such as shops, a play park and a library, answering some of the concerns expressed in a recent survey on what homebuyers want from new developments. It is Springfield’s largest development to receive planning permission and management believes it is one of the biggest to have been approved in Scotland. The new village is less than a mile south of Stirling and covers an area of 593 acres. With a gross development value of approximately £650 million
The new Elgin South Village proposed by Springfield Properties has been approved by Moray Council and the build of the first 870 new homes, two new schools and the state of the art Moray Sports Centre was approved. With ample green space, communal areas and the option for retail units, the plans will transform the south side of Elgin and are part of a wider 2,500 home masterplan. Springfield Properties worked closely with the Council to design the new village covering 204 hectares – roughly the size of 167 football pitches. The first phase will also help Moray Council meet affordable housing targets with 220 allocated for social housing.
3 Oct 2015: Fraud probe MP in a row over cronyism
Mortgage fraud probe MP Michelle Thomson was at the centre of a cronyism row after it emerged she accepted a £5,000 donation from property developer Springfield Properties. She then endorsed the company in an election leaflet while photographed alongside its chairman, Alexander Adam. He and his company have given the SNP and pro-independence campaign nearly £100,000 in the past three years. Over the same period, Springfield Properties received a government loan of nearly £1million and was selected to take part in a lucrative construction scheme whereby mortgages for new-build houses are guaranteed by the Scottish Government. Nicola Sturgeon distanced herself from the matter.
31 Jan 2016: Major SNP donor at the centre of tax haven row
Sandy Adam, who has given nearly £100,000 to the SNP through his companies and private wealth is a major shareholder in five companies: Springfield Commercial Investments Ltd, Heather ltd, Carnoustie Limited, Portobello Apartments Limited and Flower of Scotland Limited. all are registered in the Isle of Man tax haven which provides an appealing way for international business people to legitimately minimise their international tax liabilities. It is a secure and stable offshore jurisdiction, with strong confidentiality laws and an attractive tax regime. Companies registered in the Isle of Man do not have to file accounts for the public record.
Springfield Commercial Investments Ltd, set up in 2010 owns properties across Scotland, including parts of the Winston Barracks estate in Lanark, South Lanarkshire. It also has properties in Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway, and Edinburgh. In 2012 the company bought 2 sections of Aberdeen’s main shopping thoroughfare, Union Street, for around £1m. The Isle of Man is one of 38 jurisdictions that were ordered to clean up their tax affairs by the Operation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
At present, the use of offshore companies as vehicles for property ownership and development is not illegal. However, the Scottish Greens pressed for it to be restricted to companies registered in the EU in a bid to exclude tax havens, such as the Isle of Man, and improve transparency. A proposal thrown out by SNP Land Reform Minister Aileen McLeod.
Nicola Sturgeon has described tax avoidance as “obscene, immoral and downright wrong” amid a growing row over offshore firms and her MPs have criticised the so-called “sweetheart” deal between Google and the UK Government, which will see it pay just £130 million to cover a decade of back taxes.
Speaking about the agreement last week the party’s deputy leader, Stewart Hosie, said: “Working people and small businesses do not have the luxury of negotiating down the amount of tax they have to pay.”
The foregoing disclosures became public knowledge an inconvenient few weeks after SNP MP Phil Boswell was accused of using a tax loophole for his own benefit while demanding a clampdown on tax dodgers. Lib Dem peer Jeremy Purvis accused the SNP of double standards over the issue saying: “Cracking down on tax avoidance was a major plank of the SNP’s 2015 manifesto. But Boswell’s admission that he used a tax avoidance scheme passed without comment from the First Minister whose response to this issue has been very weak.”
Note: Springfield Commercial Investments operates only in the rental sector.
4 Apr 2021: Planning application approved after Nicola Sturgeon meeting she failed to declare
In Dec 2019 the £650m planning application to construct the 3000-home Durieshill village in Stirlingshire was approved after a meeting between Senior Springfield staff and Nicola Sturgeon which she failed to declare. Senior Springfield staff also lobbied the First Minister in Perth in January 2019 but there is no mention of the talks in her official diary. And several other appointments between Springfield and senior SNP ministers were also not recorded. This despite the Holyrood code of conduct stating: “Private Offices should arrange for the basic facts of formal meetings between ministers and outside interest groups to be recorded, setting out the reasons for the meeting, the names of those attending and the interests represented.” Sturgeon was previously accused of cronyism in 2015 after announcing an overhaul of the planning system following a campaign by multi-millionaire Adam.
On the day of Sturgeon’s January 2019 meeting with Springfield, her diary simply states: “Announcement, Cities Deal – Perth.” which was a reference to the wider public event she attended in the town where the discussions took place. Springfield made clarified in its submission to the lobbying register that managing director Peter Matthews had held a “face-to-face meeting” with Sturgeon.
Former finance minister Derek Mackay was also lobbied by Adam in July 2018. While the businessman recorded the meeting in Holyrood’s lobbying register, the talks did not appear in Mackay’s own diary. Senior Springfield employees also met Housing Minister Kevin Stewart twice in 2019 but the firm wasn’t mentioned on either occasion in his records.
It has been discovered that SNP ministers intervened or planned to intervene to overturn seven local authority planning decisions since 2014 which went against Springfield, involving more than 400 houses.
Labour MSP Neil Findlay whose research staff uncovered the undocumented meetings said: “There are serious questions to be asked with reference to the ministerial code. This smacks of cronyism. A large-scale SNP donor meets with the First Minister and other cabinet members but none of it is registered in their ministerial diaries. All of this is against a backdrop of the social housing budget being cut by £100million.”
In 2016 Springfield also received approval for a 3000-home development at Bertha Park in Perth in 2015 after Adam lobbied Sturgeon to reform the planning system which he said was blocking housing development. Her response was to pledge a “root and branch review”.
2 Jul 2021 unrecorded meetings expose a culture of sleaze within the SNP government
Investigative journal the Ferret reported that “hundreds” of meetings were undertaken by Scottish Government officials, but were not reported to the register. The journal analysed Scottish ministers’ engagements in 2020 and found some met with companies awarded contracts to supply the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic. It also noted lobbyists met with Scottish Government representatives 179 times since March 2018. The Scottish Government insisted it was “committed to transparency”, adding that “all ministerial engagements are recorded and published, including meetings held via phone calls”.
Neil Bibby, Scottish Labour business manager, on 4 February 2020, in the lobby of the Scottish Parliament, said: “These reports raise serious questions about whether Scotland’s lobbying laws are fit for purpose. With countless key meetings going unrecorded, it is clear that the SNP are exploiting loopholes to avoid scrutiny. These shameless attempts to undermine the spirit of the lobbying act are all too typical from a government constantly avoiding any and all transparency. The laws need to be looked at, but legislation can only do so much as long as there is this culture of sleaze and secrecy at the heart of the SNP.”
Comment: Sleaze, secrecy and complete lack of transparency have been the hallmarks of the SNP government whose leadership of narcissistic sociopaths have gathered unfettered power to the centre.
Note: Content gathered from the Scottish press media
21 Jan 2022:Holyrood considers energy u-turn to back fusion plan
The SNP government resistance to nuclear energy could be relaxed in order to support a proposed fusion energy plant for the west coast of Scotland. The 100-hectare site on the Ardeer peninsula is Scotland’s biggest brownfield site and is one of five locations across the UK being considered for the multi-billion pound project that would create clean carbon-free energy and a ‘significant’ number of jobs.
Responding to questions media about Scottish Government support for the project Catriona McAuley, head of economic development and regeneration at North Ayrshire Council said: “The SNP government is reviewing their energy policy and I would like to think the conversations we are having now will certainly be informing that refresh of Scottish government energy policy. They are obviously very interested in the work we are doing and want to be kept informed.”
Joe Cullinane, Labour leader of North Ayrshire Council, added that discussions were taking place with members of other local authorities. “Some of these are SNP council leaders which I think is a significant point in terms of cross-party political support and another point which could be a big advantage for Ardeer if the Scottish government energy review does come out in favour of fusion energy is that the other four sites are in England so the Ardeer site is the only one that has a devolved government as well. With the support of the devolved government as well as the UK government you could bring additional resources to the table. So it would very advantageous to Ardeer and the Scottish economy if we were able to secure support from the Scottish government for fusion energy through that energy review.”
Leon Flexman, the strategic adviser to the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s programme, said one site will be recommended to the UK Business and Energy Secretary in the spring of 2022 with expectations that it will be announced at the end of the year. He said the intention is to take the project from the laboratory stage to a commercial prototype.
A rare partnership of four universities and a number of further education colleges are providing support to the Ardeer team.
Controversial Jewish Conservative Party politician Lucy Fraser
Born and raised in Leeds, Yorkshire Lucy is descended from Russian Jewish immigrants who settled in Leeds around 1898. Her father, Colin Peter Frazer, was a partner in a collapsed Leeds legal firm Fox Hayes.
Lucy was educated at Leeds Girls’ High School, an independent school in Headingley, a suburb of the City of Leeds followed by Newnham College, Cambridge, where she was President of the Cambridge Union.
She worked as a barrister in commercial law specialising in major insolvency and restructuring cases and went on to become a QC in 2013 at the age of forty.
She is married to millionaire businessman, David Bernard Leigh, (Levy?)
2021: Lucy Frazer appointed Solicitor-General by Boris Johnson
She has also been admitted to Privy Council having been approved by the Queen. As Solicitor General, she oversees the work of the law officers’ departments which include the Crown Prosecution Service and Serious Fraud Office, and the Government Legal Department and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate. She also carries out a number of functions in the public interest, such as considering unduly lenient sentences, and taking action when there has been a contempt of court. Frazer was previously a Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, from July 25, 2019, to March 2, 2021.
Nothing remarkable so far but this is the lady that echos Boris Johnson’s dismissal of Scots as a nation of numbnuts sponging off the success of England.
In her 2015 maiden speech in the Commons, she praised Oliver Cromwell, who was born in her constituency for his treatment of the defeated Scots after the “Battle of Dunbar” when he despatched over 5,000 captive soldiers into slavery.
Amid much laughter on the Tory benches, she went on to offer her colleagues a view that the answer to the “West Lothian Question”, might be to follow Cromwell’s lead and banish troublesome Scots to the colonies as slaves.
The speaker added insult to injury when he refused to intervene stating that she was free to say anything that she wished to in Parliament. A decision that needed to be set against his rebuke of Scottish MP’s only a few days before when he told them that “clapping” was not allowed in the Commons.
Clarification by him of one of the unwritten rules of the game for Scottish members of parliament. Incredible that the rules of the Commons accept the proposal that troublesome Scots MP’s should be clapped in irons to be sold as slaves and shipped to the colonies, but Honourable Members must not support the proposal by clapping. Dismissing the banality of her speech might have been possible to dismiss and the disgraceful conduct of her colleagues had her comments been off the cuff but they had been carefully crafted, written and well-rehearsed beforehand indicating complicity revealing the patronising ambivalent attitude of Unionist MP’s towards Scots.
https://twitter.com/i/status/1270287770280497152 That she felt able to make fun of so many young Scots, murdered and enslaved in one of many Holocausts inflicted by the English on Scotland over many centuries is even more sickening when her own family background is revealed
Cromwell Invades Scotland
Charles I was executed in January 1649 following the defeat of the Royalists in the final battle of the English Civil War.
The victor, Oliver Cromwell declared the establishment of the Commonwealth of England then took his “New Model Army” over to Ireland and quelled uprisings in a series of victories over Irish Royalist supporters forcing Charles II to abandon plans to use Ireland as a military base to win back the throne of England.
Charles turned his attention to Scotland, taking advantage of Scottish outrage at the presumption of the English Parliament in executing Charles I, who had been King of Scotland as well as England.
Negotiations between Charles and a delegation from the Scottish government opened in the Netherlands in March 1650 which resulted in the signing of the “Treaty of Breda” in May and Charles’ arrival in Scotland in June 1650, where he was proclaimed King Charles II of Scotland.
The Commonwealth Council of State in London was alarmed when the treaty was signed and resolved to mount an immediate invasion of Scotland to forestall the possibility of a Scottish attack on England and launched a pre-emptive invasion of Scotland.
Cromwell,s battle-seasoned army comprised seven regiments of horse, nine of foot and six companies of dragoons, numbering around 15,000 men in total.
Marching north via York, Durham and Newcastle, Cromwell mustered his forces at Berwick-on-Tweed on 19 July 1650 and crossed the border on 22 July 1650. Crucially, his army was supported by a large supply fleet, which landed at Dunbar a few days before the battle.
The Scottish Parliament had only belatedly become aware of English preparations for an invasion and on 25 June 1650 ordered that a new force comprising around 10,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry be recruited and trained to reinforce the only force in existence in Scotland the 1500 strong mainly infantry “Army of the Covenant”.
The ageing Earl of Leven took overall command assisted by his son Lieutenant-General David Leslie, who, reporting to a Kirk commission headed by Sir Archibald Johnston, undertook day to day control of the Scottish army.
The interfering commissioners insisted that drill or military operations should not be carried out on the Sabbath and attempted to purge the army of all Engagers and potential Royalist (catholic) supporters and, as the campaign developed, they countermanded military decisions regarding strategy and tactics.
The summer of 1650 was extremely cold and wet and the Scottish army, (largely comprised of raw recruits aged between 12-18) was still mustering when Cromwell crossed the border from Berwick.
Buying time to train his young recruits Lord Leven directed the construction of an extensive line of earthworks between Edinburgh and Leith allowing the Scottish army to take up an impregnable defensive position and ordered the destruction of crops and the removal of livestock between Edinburgh and the border so that Cromwell’s army would have to ship all its supplies from England.
The English army advanced to within a few miles of Edinburgh but Cromwell realised that the Scottish lines of defence were too strong to risk a direct assault and retreated to the port of Dunbar so that he could occupy its sheltered harbour, securing a sea route for supplies. Then, under cover of his warships bombarding Leith, he deployed his troops in battle order in an attempt to draw the Scottish army out into the open.
The Covenanter committee was keen to attack the English force but seasoned soldier Lord Leven was equally determined to avoid a pitched battle with his inexperienced army and stayed stubbornly dug in behind the defences.
It rained heavily all week and Cromwell harassed by Scottish Lancers was forced to withdraw, first to Musselburgh then to Dunbar for shelter.
His army was exhausted, many were sick from cold and flu and food rationing was severe since the supply ships had given priority to the carriage of munitions rather than food and a stand-off lasted throughout August. In that period the Scottish army was increased swelling to around 20,000.
General Leslie seized the opportunity and moved his force around Cromwell’s flank cutting off his escape route south to Berwick forcing Cromwell’s “New Model Army” to respond.
On 1 September 1650, Leslie took up a commanding position overlooking the English encampment at Dunbar.
Trapped between the sea on one side, the Covenanters’ impregnable position on the other, and with the road back to England blockaded, it seemed that Cromwell had no option but to attempt to evacuate his troops by sea.
But on the morning of 2 September, the 1500 Covenanters who had little shelter from wind and heavy rain on the exposed hilltop of their defensive position on Doon Hill played into Cromwell’s hands by marching down from its commanding heights to attack the English army on level ground. An act of folly ascribed to the godly committee that claimed control over the force.
The Covenanter force formed an arc aligned with the course of the Broxburn stream, with the coast on the right flank. To the left of the Scottish position, the Broxburn passed through a deep ravine and on the right, towards the coast, the ground levelled out and the stream was crossed by the road from Dunbar to Berwick.
In response, Cromwell brought his army forward from Dunbar to form a battle line on the northern side of the Broxburn. Skirmishing broke out during the late afternoon of 2 September when an advance guard of English lancers moved forward to cover the manoeuvring of the English force but by nightfall, the road to Berwick was successfully blocked leaving Cromwell with a choice of evacuating his army by sea or forcing a way through the Scottish blockade to escape South.
But Cromwell choose to fight and at a council of war, that evening decided on an all-out assault on the Scottish right flank early the next morning with the objective of turning the flank and disrupting the whole position by driving the Scots into a constricted centre.
During the night, while the Scots rested uncomfortably in rain-soaked fields, Cromwell used the darkness and heavy rain to cover the redeployment of his army which took up a new battle line across the Berwick Road the vanguard of which comprised six cavalry regiments comprising 9,000 and an infantry brigade of around 2,000. The vanguard was supported by two more infantry brigades of around 2,500 each.
Cromwell’s own regiment of horse was held in reserve, brigaded with two companies of dragoons whilst the remaining dragoons mounted guard along the edge of the Broxburn to cover the English artillery, which was deployed on rising ground overlooking the Scottish left-flank.
The Battle of Dunbar
The disposition of the Scottish army is not exactly known, but most of the cavalry numbering around 2,500 troopers was stationed on the right flank between the Berwick road and the coast, facing the 16,000 strong English vanguards. Another cavalry force, numbering around 1,500 was stationed on the left flank and between the wings of cavalry, there were five brigades of infantry numbering around 10,000 in total.
Fighting began at around four o’clock on the morning of 3 September 1650 when the English vanguard, advanced in force and secured the crossing of the Broxburn stream on the Scottish right flank.
Scottish pickets raised the alarm but being heavily outnumbered they were driven back. An English infantry brigade then advanced to support the cavalry and a fierce firefight and artillery exchange ensued. After nearly an hour, both sides stopped firing and waited for the first light, which was about 5.30 a.m.
Overall command of the Scottish force was compromised by the absence of a significant number of senior officers who had left their units during the night to seek shelter from the foul weather with result that the Scottish army had not fully regrouped by the time the English attack resumed at first light.
The attack, spearheaded by a cavalry regiment advanced swiftly across the Broxburn and routed the first line of the Scottish Lancers on the Scottish right flank but the second line of Scottish Lancers fought back and forced the English cavalry to retreat back across the stream.
Meantime an English infantry vanguard of 3,000 advanced across the Broxburn stream and attacked a Scottish brigade of 2,000 made up almost entirely of raw recruits on the extreme right of the Scottish infantry line which buckled but a second brigade first halted the English advance then forced it to retreat back across the stream.
Denied an early breakthrough Cromwell ordered another infantry brigade into action in support of his retreating infantry force reversing the fall-back forcing a push of pike battle on the Scots.
He then deployed two regiments of cavalry 3,000 to attack the Scottish cavalry which had been reduced in strength to around 1,000 through the earlier attrition. Heavily outnumbered the Scottish cavalry was put to flight exposing the Scottish infantry on the right flank. Cromwell was quick to act and sensing victory ordered his Regiment of Horse into battle attacking the exposed Scottish right flank forcing the Scottish infantry to fight on two fronts pushing them to merge with the forces to their left reducing their ability to manoeuvre effectively.
After a desperate battle lasting two hours, the heavily outnumbered Scots on the right flank were forced to fight a protracted withdrawal eventually conceding defeat in the village of Haddington. Scots forces on the left flank abandoned the battle and escaped to the North. Cromwell’s forces then ruthlessly ransacked Edinburgh and other Scottish towns and cities and established control of the country south of the Highlands.
The battle left nearly 5,000 Scots dead.
6,000 Scottish soldiers aged between 13 and 25 were taken, prisoner. Of these about 1,000 sick and wounded were released to go home.
The remaining 5,000 battle-weary Scottish prisoners were forced to march 118 miles over 8 days South to the English city of Durham the first 28-mile stage to Berwick being undertaken non-stop through the night. Around 1,000 prisoners died en route to Durham from a combination of hunger, exhaustion and dysentery. Others were executed but a few escaped.
Around 3,000 Scottish soldiers were imprisoned in Durham Cathedral and Castle unoccupied since worship had been suppressed by order of Cromwell.
The conditions in which the Scottish prisoners of war were imprisoned were appalling. Records provide evidence that prisoners died at an average of 30 a day between 11 September and 31 October a figure greatly increased to around 100 a day when food and water were withheld leading to the rapid spread of disease and infection. In total, a further 1,700 prisoners died and their bodies were thrown into pits dug by the prisoners in and around Durham Cathedral and castle.
Of the 5,000 men who started the march from Dunbar, only 1300 were still alive less than two months later. Nine hundred were subsequently sold as slaves and transported to the New World, mainly Virginia, Massachusetts and the Barbados colony in the Caribbean.
500 elected to fight with the French army against the Spanish. They were still fighting seven years later and many did not return to Scotland.
There is no memorial to the unknown Scottish soldiers who died terrible deaths at the hands of their English captors in Durham Cathedral or Castle. They lie in anonymity and without Christian burial on foreign soil in the place they were imprisoned, far from their homes and the graves of their loved ones.
Remains of Scottish soldiers uncovered at Durham Cathedral
Skeletons of Scottish prisoners of war, from the Battle of Dunbar and brutally murdered by Cromwell’s soldiers were discovered in a mass grave close to Durham cathedral. The burials were clearly a military operation since the dead bodies had been dumped without ceremony into two open pits over a number of days.
He was born in Wimbledon, London, on 28 September 1969 and raised in Edinburgh. Educated at Broughton High School, Edinburgh he completed his education at the University of Aberdeen, from which he graduated in 1991 with an MA Honours degree in politics and international relations. After university, he embarked on a journalistic career and worked as a foreign and diplomatic correspondent in Central Europe for the BBC World Service. Outside politics he is a music fan and particularly likes Metallica and Belle and Sebastian. He is a supporter of the Heart of Midlothian football team.
Political Career: Robertson was first elected to the UK House of Commons in June 2001, representing the Moray constituency.
He was a member of the European Scrutiny Committee from 2001 to 2010 and served as the SNP’s spokesman on Defence and International Relations.
In May 2007, he became SNP Leader in the House of Commons.
Following the 2015 general election and the election of ex Party leader, Alex Salmond as MP for Gordon it was confirmed he would continue in his role as leader of the SNP in the Commons.
He was appointed to the Privy Council in 2015 and joined the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.
Ahead of the 2015 General Election, he had the SNP pass a code of conduct that stated any MP must, “accept that no member shall within or outwith the parliament publicly criticise a group decision, policy or another member of the group”. Rival parties labelled it a “Stalinist” crackdown on free speech and independent thought.
He lost his Westminster seat in the 2016 General election and resigned as a Depute Leader of the SNP then established Progress Scotland, a pro-independence think-tank. On 13 October 2016, he was elected Deputy Leader of the SNP and resigned from the post in February 2018.
In February 2020, he announced his intention to contest the Edinburgh Central constituency in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election. He won the seat and was appointed Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
2014: Robertson misses the Bedroom Tax vote
Robertson and three of his SNP colleagues missed a vote on repealing the bedroom tax, despite the SNP making opposition to the policy a central part of its campaign for a yes vote in that year’s independence referendum. Labour said: “Far from standing up for Scotland, the SNP have stayed at home and let Scotland down.”
Feb 2017: SNP Westminster leader Robertson dragged into a political lobbying row
The row raised questions about transparency and cronyism, after his wife Jennifer’s new PR company boasted it had “one of the best little black books in Scotland”.
The claim was made by Elgin-based communications firm Spey, which was set up by Robertson’s wife and former SNP councillor Alex MacLeod.
On the Inverness Chamber of Commerce website, Spey is described as a “progressive full-service communications agency”. Adding: “Spey prides itself on having one of the best little black books in Scotland.”
Spey is the trading name of Baxter-Robertson of Speyside Ltd. Jennifer, and MacLeod, are registered as 50-50 partners in the company, which was incorporated in September 2017.
Mr MacLeod became a councillor in Caithness at 19 but later pled guilty to charges related to election expenses, after spending triple the campaign limit. He resigned from the SNP and was sentenced to 160 hours of community service.
14 Feb 2017: How the Israel lobby influences British politics
A now disgraced senior diplomat at the Israeli embassy in London spent several hours courting the Scottish National Party’s deputy leader ahead of his official trip to Israel, raising further questions over Israel’s interference in British politics.
In undercover footage recorded as part of Al Jazeera’s investigation “The Lobby”, Shai Masot, a senior political officer at the embassy who was forced to quit after the film exposed his attempts to manipulate British politics is seen boasting of his relationship with Angus Robertson to an undercover reporter “Robin Harrow” (alias).
Maria Strizzolo, a British civil servant was with Masot when he said to Robin “I spent many hours with Angus. I think nine hours in total, sitting around inside the embassy. We had a lot of meetings and he told us many stories. He feels really close to the Jewish people and he has a great trip to Israel lined up”.
Over dinner at a Kensington brasserie, Masot recounted a story told to him by Robertson about his German grandfather who was a politician in the Reichstag and was persecuted by the Nazis. Following his arrest, his grandfather’s birth certificate was changed identifying him as Jewish making him de facto an enemy of the state.
Masot went on to relate another Robertson story from Scotland’s history of a 14th-century manuscript that laid claim to the Scottish nation by declaring that the Scots were in fact one of the lost tribes of Israel. “Mmm … I love Angus,” Masot stated, apparently keen to let his companions know that Robertson was someone Israel could work with at a political level.
May 2017: Robertson breaks his promise to donate London house sale profit to charity
The SNP deputy chief, faced calls to return any profit to the public purse or to donate it to good causes as he originally pledged.
He bought a “small” flat in the London Borough of Lambeth in February 2006 for £227,500 and designated it as his second home under the former rules for MPs’ expenses and went on to claim almost £60,000 in mortgage interest, £4,000 in stamp duty and legal fees and around £16,000 for repairs and furnishings, including a £2,300 leather sofa bed, a £400 home cinema, an espresso maker, Sabatier knives and a £20 corkscrew.
When the expenses scandal broke in 2009, he was embarrassed by the revelations and responded by telling the Northern Scot newspaper in May 2009. “I will not personally profit from capital gains accrued while mortgage interest was paid for with taxpayers’ money. The public purse will be reimbursed through full capital gains tax payments, with any remaining capital gains returned to the parliamentary authorities or to good causes in my constituency.” with an undertaking to repay any profit he made from the sale of the flat.
In December 2013, the property was sold for £309,950, leaving Robertson with a gain of £82,450. After paying capital gains tax of approximately £17,000, he would have been left with a net profit of more than £60,000.
A spokesman for Robertson appeared to suggest the profit from the sale of the flat had been swallowed up by the costs of his divorce from his first wife, Carron. Last year he married Alex Salmond’s former aide Jennifer Dempsie, whose own career in politics was derailed by the row over a Scottish Government grant to the T In The Park music festival.
2019: Edinburgh Central Controversy
Ahead of the selection contest for the seat of Edinburgh Central, the SNP National Executive Committee announced that any MP chosen as a candidate for Holyrood would be obliged to resign from Westminster ahead of the election to the Scottish Parliament.
Some considered the rule change a deliberate “stitch-up” by Nicola Sturgeon to stop MP Joanna Cherry, a critic of the party leadership, from winning the party’s nomination for the seat and to boost Robertson’s candidacy. Cherry dropped out of the contest, citing an unwillingness to make her staff unemployed and Robertson won the party’s nomination and the seat.
2020: A Scottish Parliamentary inquiry
The inquiry was set up to: “To consider and report on the actions of the First Minister, Scottish Government officials and special advisers in dealing with complaints about Alex Salmond, former First Minister, considered under the Scottish Government’s “Handling of harassment complaints involving current or former ministers and procedure and actions in relation to the Scottish Ministerial Code.”
SNP inquiry convener Linda Fabiani wrote to Angus Robertson and said MSPs wanted to know:
“Whether, in your capacity as leader of the SNP group in the House of Commons, you had any interactions/ communications with the First Minister, Scottish Government officials or special advisers regarding any allegations or formal complaints against Alex Salmond about sexual harassment ?”
But there was no mention in the remit of SNP meetings or involvement of Westminster based SNP MP’s. She was out of line.
How “knowledge of allegations or formal complaints about sexual harassment against the former First Minister was shared within senior figures in the party of Government to inform its consideration of the Scottish Government’s handling of complaints”.
This request had absolutely no relevance to the unsubstantiated allegations made by two civil servants which was the matter the committee were remitted to investigate and report on.
“Is there any other information relevant to the committee’s remit of considering the Scottish Government’s handling of complaints about Mr Salmond?”
Weird one this!! A judge had already ruled that the Scottish Government’s handling of complaints against Alex Salmond had been tainted with prejudice and illegal. Anything offered up to the committee by Robertson would be irrelevant.
Robertson, an ally of Sturgeon who had steamrollered him into position to stand for Holyrood in the Edinburgh Central seat the next year told the committee he did not possess any information relevant to its remit. A fitting end to the response but!!!!! he continued:
Now you ask there was an incident: “In 2009 I was called by an Edinburgh Airport manager about Alex Salmond’s perceived ‘inappropriateness’ towards female staff at the airport. I was asked if I could informally broach the subject with Mr Salmond to make him aware of this perception. “I raised the matter directly with Mr Salmond, who denied he had acted inappropriately in any way. I communicated back to the Edinburgh Airport manager that a conversation had happened. The matter was resolved, and without a formal complaint having been made, it was not reported further.” A dart laden with poison!!!
20th Sep 2020: Angus Robertson slated for saying elderly deaths are a ‘gain’ for independence
Robertson said: “55,000 predominantly No supporting voters [were] passing away every year” ad when combined with more “Yes” supporting young people reaching voting age, that had produced a “gain of over 100,000 for independence” since the referendum of 2014. Critics said the comments were “disgraceful” given the recent loss of thousands of old people from coronavirus and the emergence of a potentially lethal winter surge. In response, Robertson called the criticism “politically motivated” and “manufactured outrage”.
26 Sep 2021: Robertson told to get on with the day job
Mike Russell, SNP President attacked AngusRobertson, Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture MSP for failing to concentrate on his day job after he plugged his new book online.
The spat came after Robertson took to Twitter to promote his new book, “Vienna The International Capital”. In a now-deleted response, Russell who previously held Robertson’s Cabinet position said: “Hmm – might be a breach of MSP code too. And legitimate for people to ask what he is doing in the day job”. Records show Robertson has contributed to just four parliamentary debates since being elected in May, including his oath of affirmation. The confrontation will be uncomfortable for Sturgeon, who is already under pressure from within her party over a lack of progress on an independence referendum.
An insider said: “Robertson entered Holyrood with the trumpets sounding and was feted as possessing the personality and acumen to push Westminster for a second referendum which is why he got the job.
But he has been virtually anonymous since his appointment and a group of MSP’s and party members are irate that he appears to be concentrating his time on his latest book rather than promoting independence. It is a public spat that didn’t occur previously within the Party and is indicative of a breakdown in discipline and increasing discontent over the lack of desire to push for independence. It will also encourage members to jump ship to Alex Salmond’s Alba.
31 Oct 2021: Angus Robertson cancels book promo at event paid for by his department
Angus Robertson, Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture cancelled his appearance at a literary festival funded by the Scottish government department he runs, after the press enquired about the prime speaking spot to promote his book “Vienna The International Capital”
The festival was awarded £30,000 in August from Creative Scotland a government-funded and accountable body falling under Robertson’s brief. He has now cancelled the lecture together with an advert describing the book, which costs £25 as a “beautifully written, rich and extraordinary story”.
Lib Dem culture spokesman Joe McCauley said: “At the same time as the SNP takes a scythe to cultural centres in Glasgow, the Culture Secretary is trying to plug his book at a taxpayer-funded literary event. Sadly, anyone who can’t afford the £25 recommended retail price will be out of luck because his council colleagues want to close the libraries too. Scottish arts and culture ought to be for everyone.”
Scottish Conservative Shadow Culture Secretary Donald Cameron added: “Angus Robertson should be focused on our recovery from the pandemic rather than promoting his own book. While everyone wishes the Borders Book Festival to be a major success, eyebrows will be raised over the fact that the Culture Secretary was given a slot at an event that was awarded a funding boost by an agency overseen by the Scottish Government just a few months ago.”
Scottish Labour culture spokeswoman Sarah Boyack MSP said: “It’s hard to believe patrons of the Borders Book Festival were ever banging down the door to hear from Angus about his book.”
A Creative Scotland spokeswoman admitted the festival received funding. She said: “Borders Book Festival received £30,000 National Lottery funding through Creative Scotland’s Open Fund.
17 Jan 2022: Angus Robertson defends the BBC stating that the Tory government’s attack is a threat to the future of essential public service broadcasting
He wrote: “Its journalists are free to hold decision-makers to account and programme-makers produce varied output which would often not be found from the commercial competition. Usually, public service broadcasters get it in the neck from people on all sides at some stage, but usually, they get the balance about right.
Just as Boris Johnson has been exposed to the last doubters as a lying, incompetent and corrupt Prime Minister, his government has launched a full-frontal funding attack on the BBC. Together with other wild and ideologically driven initiatives to distract attention from the Downing Street party scandal, his Tory praetorian guard wants to freeze and then scrap the BBC licence fee. This follows their privatisation plans for Channel 4.
UK government Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has started speculation about freezing the licence fee, which would deprive BBC of more than £2 billion for its TV and radio stations, the BBC website, podcasts, iPlayer and apps.
We need a proper debate about public service broadcasting in Scotland, with broadcasting powers exercised by the Scottish Parliament elected by the people of Scotland. Until then, unfortunately, we will be at the mercy of Nadine Dorries, Boris Johnson and their apologists. We must change that and we will do just that.
Comment: Unbelievable. A senior SNP politician defending the BBC the vitriolic unionist attack dog responsible for damaging the 2014 Scottish independence campaign
This is what needs to be done by the SNP government.
The Scottish parliament should inform the Westminster government that subject to confirmation of the Scottish electorate Scotland will withdraw from the Treaty of Union of 1707 on 5 May 2022.
The electorate will be given the opportunity to vote against the measure and subject to more than 50% of the total eligible voting population voting “NO”, the Westminster government will be advised and the intended declaration of independence from the UK will be abandoned.
Eligible voters unable to attend a voting station will be able to vote through a nominated proxy. Polling Stations for “NO” voters will be open between the hours of 0700 – 2200. There will be no postal vote.
A petition to the heads of the Commonwealth nations seeking their support for a request from Scots to the Head of the Commonwealth, her majesty Queen Elizabeth to repeal the 1707 Treaty of Union which was imposed on Scots against their will by acts of betrayal by King William and aggression by England. In support of the petition should be noted that before the Union Scotland was a prosperous outward-looking nation with excellent trading relations with many other countries. A record of events between 1694 and 1707 has been added to the petition to aid the understanding of the request.
July 1694: The Bank of England
In the 17th century, early banking business was carried out by people known as the goldsmiths who owned and lent gold and silver to wealthy people at interest rates as high as 30%.
1672: Charles II borrowed vast amounts of money from the goldsmiths enabling his extravagant lifestyle and decided that as king he need not pay it back and wrote a letter stating: “Gentlemen, I’m an honest man but unfortunately I am unable to pay my debts back on this occasion. Sorry, will see what I can do.” As a result, goldsmith businesses collapsed and confidence in the sector dissolved.
1693: England was at war yet again with France and William III who urgently needed to raise funds to finance it went to the remaining goldsmiths to see if any of them would fund him. Their refusal forced him to find new ways of raising finance.
William Paterson, an influential merchant of Scottish descent suggested that the public would be able to lend money to the government trading their cash for shares in a newly formed joint-stock company owned by the public and the government. His proposal accepted a new company was formally established by Royal Charter on 27 July 1694 and given the name “The Governor and the Company of the Bank of England”. People duly invested in it by purchasing “bank stock” and the government paid them 8% interest which was a very good deal for the government.
The charter handed over to an anonymous committee the previously Royal prerogative of minting money and enabled international banksters to secure their loans on the taxes of the country rather than on the monarch’s personal undertaking committing the people of England to the everlasting support of a newly created “National debt”.
The measure forced Westminster politicians into groups in support of ensuing arguments over what was to be done with the new financial power so as to ensure that their cronies and their policies would predominate. This was the start of the bankers highly dubious practise of fractional reserve banking whereby gold became the basis of loans. £100 of gold would be legal security for a £1k loan. At 5% interest, £100 in gold could earn £50 interest annually with little inconvenience to the lender other than maintaining a ledger. The owner of £100 worth of land would still need to toil endlessly gaining nothing. The confrontational Party system of political divide and rule was the result.
20 Jun 1695: Establishment of the Scottish East India Company and Darien
King William allowed an Act for the Establishment of a Scottish East India Company to be passed. Before that since the Union of the Crowns, all Scottish efforts to found trading companies had been wrecked on English jealousy. There had always been and to this new East India Company, there was, a rival, a pre-existing English company.
The Scottish East India Company’s aim was to sell Scottish goods in many places worldwide and to facilitate the intent plans included the establishment of a trading colony on the isthmus of Panama. The great scheme was the idea of William Paterson, a far-travelled and financially-speculative son of a Scottish farmer who was the “projector,” or one of the projectors, of the Bank of England in 1694. Paterson accepted English investors into the Scheme and they responded by taking up half of the available shares as the “Act of Patent” permitted them to do.
October 1695: In London, the opening of the books of the new company caused panic and a fall of twenty points in the shares of the English East India Company. The English subscribers of half the paid-up capital were terrorised and forced to sell out and investments in the company in Hamburg were cancelled through English pressure. Scots took up the freed shares ensuring the venture was fully subscribed. But even at this late stage, the Darien part of the scheme was a closely guarded secret. There was only a vague reference to a settlement somewhere in Africa or the Indies.
King William returned to England from Holland and found English capitalists and the English Parliament in fury since the “Act of Patent” he had awarded to the new company committed him to interpose his authority if the ships of the company were detained by foreign powers and it also gave the traders leave to take “reparation” by force from any assailants. William reportedly said that he “had been ill-served by some of my Ministers.” and that he knew nothing about any settlement in or near to the Panama Isthmus which was within the Spanish sphere of influence.
July 1697: The secret plans for Darien became public knowledge and the English Council of Trade petitioned Parliament to scupper the plans of the Scottish East India Company by seizing Golden Island and an established port on the mainland.
July 1698: The Council of the intended Scots colony was elected, bought three ships and two tenders, and despatched 1200 settlers. On October 30, in the Gulf of Darien, they found natives who spoke Spanish and learned that the nearest gold mines were in Spanish hands and that the chiefs were carrying Spanish insignia of office. By February 1699 the Scots and Spaniards were exchanging shots and a Scottish ship, cruising in search of supplies, was seized by the Spanish at Carthagena. Spain complained to William when the Scots seized a Spanish merchant ship in retaliation. The Scots were held in irons in Seville until 1700. Responding to the Spanish complaints, in compliance with orders from the English Government, to all the colonies, the English Governor of Jamaica forbade his people from providing supplies to Scots who were blockaded by a Spanish flotilla at Darien.
August 1698: Early Warning of Westminster Treachery
Address to King William by the Scottish parliament on behalf of the Company Trading to Africa and the Indies: We, your majesty’s most loyal and faithful subjects do humbly represent to your majesty that, having considered a representation made to us by the counsel general of the company trading to Africa and the Indies, make mention of several obstructions they have met within the prosecution of their trade, particularly by means of a memorandum presented on your behalf to the senate of Hamburg by your majesty’s English diplomats with the intent of lessening the authority of the rights and privileges granted to the said company by an act of the parliament of Scotland. We do, therefore, in all humble duty, lay before your majesty the whole of Scotland’s concern in this matter. And we do most earnestly entreat, and most assuredly expect, that your majesty will, in your royal wisdom take such measures as to vindicate the undoubted rights and privileges of the said company and support the credit and interest thereof.
12 May 1699: A new expedition left Leith and on arrival at Darien found some Scots still alive and defending the port. Two ships remained at Darien and were further reinforced in February 1700, when a ship arrived with provisions and found the Spaniards assailing the settlement. The new arrivals cleared the Spaniards out of Darien in fifteen minutes and established control. A few weeks after Spain launched another attack and heavily outnumbered after an honourable resistance the settlers at Darien capitulated and departed Darien on 30 March 1700.
17 January 1701: May it please the King
Scotland was full of discontent and passions raged against King William whose agent in Hamburg had prevented foreigners from investing in the Scots company. English colonists had been forbidden by Westminster from aiding the Scottish settlers. Two hundred thousand pounds, several ships, and many lives had been lost. The news of the surrender of the colonists increased the indignation. The king refused (November 1700) to gratify the Estates by regarding the Darien colony as a legal enterprise since to do so might incur war with Spain and the anger of his English subjects. And yet the colony had been legally founded in accordance with the terms of the Act of Patent. The Scottish Estates voted that Darien was a lawful colony, and (1701) in an address to the Crown demanded compensation for the nation’s financial losses. King William replied with expressions of sympathy and hopes that the two kingdoms would consider a scheme of Union and a Bill for Union brought forward by English Lords was rejected by the English Commons.
The Address: “We, your majesty’s most faithful and dutiful subjects, the noblemen, barons and burgesses of the Scottish parliament, do in all humility represent that we are of sound mind, and do and shall ever most heartily acknowledge, that God raised your majesty to be our great deliverer, by whom our religion, liberties, rights and laws were rescued and restored into the happy estate and condition within which we now enjoy them.
Not least amongst the blessings was that your majesty desired the Kingdom to introduce measures for raising and improving the trade of the nation, and you were pleased in the year 1693 to give the royal assent to an act of parliament authorizing societies and companies in general, and then by an act of parliament in the year 1695, to elect and establish “The Company of Scotland, Trading to Africa and the Indies,” And, with the powers, privileges, liberties and immunities contained in the said act, by virtue and warrant whereof letters patent were also granted for the same effect under the great seal of this your ancient kingdom.
But though the act and patent contained nothing save what is agreeable to the law of nations and to the use and custom everywhere in like cases, yet no sooner were they expedited and the founders began to act than, to the great surprise of the said company and of this whole kingdom, the kingdom of England take offence and acting against the company place upon it great and grievous hardships.
First, there was the address, made in December 1695 by both houses of the parliament in England wherein they complained to your majesty of our said act of parliament for granting to the said company the privileges and immunities therein mentioned, as likely to bring many prejudices and mischiefs to all your English subjects concerned in the trade or wealth of that nation
And at the same time the House of Commons ordered an inquiry to be made to establish who were the advisers and promoters of our said act of parliament and acting on the information so gathered did move and make several prosecutions, even against the subjects of this kingdom who did not so much as reside in England, and only were acting by virtue and warrant of our said act of parliament and your majesty’s patent, whereby our said company was also disappointed and frustrated at the loss of the subscriptions of our own countrymen and others in England to the value of about £300,000.
And further, the House of Lords, by another address to your majesty, upon the twelfth of February 1698, persisted with the opposition made against our company and their colony of Caledonia in Darien in the continent of America, on the grounds of it being prejudicial to their nation and detrimental to its trade.
They went on to use the aforementioned statement to justify certain proclamations emitted in the year 1699 by the governors of the English plantations against our said company and their colony as agreeable to the above-mentioned address of both houses of parliament, alleging that the same did proceed upon the unanimous sense of that kingdom in relation to any settlement we might make in the West Indies, and gave forth their resolution that the settlement of our colony at Darien was inconsistent with the good of the plantation trade of England.
All which being laid before us by our said company, and having fully considered the same, we have unanimously concluded and passed the resolution that the votes and proceedings of the parliament of England and their address presented to your majesty in December 1695 in relation to our act of parliament establishing our Indian and African Company, and the address of the house of lords presented to your majesty in February last, were unwarranted meddling in the affairs of Scotland and an invasion upon the sovereignty and independence of our king and parliament.
Secondly, when our company sent their deputies to the German city of Hamburg, about the month of April 1697, to establish a treaty with that city and its inhabitants establishing free commerce to join with them according to the warrant contained in our act of parliament and your majesty’s patent, these deputies were immediately upon their arrival opposed by Sir Paul Rycault, an Englishman resident in that city, and a Mr Cresset, your majesty’s English envoy at the court of Lunenburg.
Both then made several addresses to the senate of that city in prejudice of our company, and at length gave to the senate a memorial in your majesty’s name as the king of Great Britain, (1) stating that they represented your majesty, and the said (deputies endeavoured to open to England commerce and trade with the City of Hamburg by making some convention or treaty with them and had commanded the City fathers to notify the Luneburg Senate that, if they should enter into any convention with Scottish men, your subjects, who had neither credential letters, nor were otherwise authorized by your majesty, you would regard such proceedings as an affront to your royal authority and would not fail to resent it.
And then, noting that the City of Hamburg, without regard to their remonstrations did offer to make conventions or treaties with the Scottish deputation, proceeding upon the supposition that they were vested with sufficient powers, they repeated their complaint beseeching the said Luneburg Senate, in your majesty’s name, to remedy the matter since the City of Hamburg were intent on proceeding to enter into a contract with said Scotsmen were not instructed with due credentials and also expressly invading their rights and privileges.
Your majesty was graciously pleased to signify to the company, once and again by your secretaries, that you had given orders to these ministers not to make use of your majesties’ name and authority to obstruct the company in the prosecution of their trade with the inhabitants of that city, which, nevertheless, the said English ministers altogether misrepresented.
Which being also complained of to us by the company and duly considered by us, we have unanimously concluded and passed another resolution that the memorial presented in your majesty’s name as the king of Great Britain to the senate of Hamburg, upon the seventh of April 1697, by Sir Paul Rycault, then resident in that city, and Mr Cresset, your majesties’ envoy extraordinary at the Court of Lunenburg, were most unwarrantable, containing manifest falsehoods and contrary to the law of nations,(1) injurious to your majesty and an open encroachment upon the sovereignty and independence of this crown and kingdom, the occasions of great losses and disappointments to the said company and of most dangerous consequence to the trade of Scotland now and in the future.
Thirdly, your majesty’s favour of forming the company, has been very acceptable to the whole of Scotland and having the financial support of many subscribers of all degrees and from all parts, and having procured a greater advance of money for a venture then was ever made before, the council and directors of the company thought good to make some settlement for a plantation. And, having considered that by the for-said act of parliament they were limited in their planting of colony’s either to places not inhabited or to other places with the consent of the natives and inhabitants, and not possessed by any European prince or state.
And having investigated available information understood that that part of Darien in America, where they thereafter fixed, was no European possession, they set forth well equipped with ships, men and provisions, which, arriving upon that coast in November 1698, the founders of the colony did not only find the place uninhabited, but also treated and agreed with the chief men of the natives near to the place, whom they found in independent and absolute freedom, and, being very kind and friendly by them admitted, our colony took possession and settled upon the most complete right of a place, void and unoccupied and with the consent of all the neighbouring natives that could have any pretence to it, and thus the company hoped they had made a good settlement and happily prevented others having designed for the same place in such manner as might tend to the advantage of all your majesty’s dominions.
But when they believed that their matters were thus in a hopeful and prosperous condition, they were exceedingly surprised to hear that proclamations had been published by the governors of the English plantations placing an embargo on the company as enemies, debarring them from all supplies and that these proclamations had been executed against Darien with the utmost rigour, forbidding our men wood, water and anchorage, and all sorts of provisions, even for money, contrary to the very rules of common humanity: and, within some weeks after, the company was informed that their colony had deserted Darien to the great loss and regret of the whole of Scotland.
And though the Company sent out a very considerable second mission to repossess Darien, the same rigorous execution was still continued against them. Which proclamations proceeding, as we believe, and that from the very style and variations that may be observed in them, from the error of the governor’s mistaking, as it is like from some cautions given them for prevention and not from direct orders, we are persuaded were not emitted by your majesty’s warrant, besides that they were executed with an unheard of rigour.
And therefore, upon a further complaint from our company in this matter, we have most unanimously concluded and past a third resolve in these terms: that the proclamations in the English plantations in April, May, June and September 1699 against our Indian and African Company and colony in Caledonia were and are injurious and prejudicial to the rights and liberties of the company, and that the execution of these proclamations against the settlers sent out by the said company was inhumane, barbarous and contrary to the law of nations and a great occasion of the loss and ruin of our said colony and settlement of Caledonia.
And we take to our further consideration the proceedings of our company in making the said settlement and how they punctiliously observed the condition of the for the said act of parliament and patent in making their plantations in no European possession, with the greatest caution both to fix in a place void and uninhabited and also with the consent of all the neighbouring natives that could have the least shadow of pretence thereto, and that yet, on the other hand, the said planters have been treated by the Spaniards, first at Carthagena and then in the very seat of our colony and like ways in old Spain, with all insolences and hostilities, not only as enemies but as pirates.
We thought it our duty, for vindicating and securing our said company and colony from all imputation or charge that has been or may be brought against them, to pass and conclude with the same unanimity the fourth resolve: that our Indian and African Company’s colony of Caledonia in Darien in the continent of America was and is legal and rightful, and that the settlement was made conform to the act of parliament and letters patent establishing the said company, and that the company, in making and prosecuting the said settlement, acted warrantable by virtue of the said act of parliament and patent.
We, having thus found the for said invasions to be manifest encroachments upon the undoubted independence and sovereignty of this your majesty’s ancient crown and kingdom and unanimously passed the above-mentioned resolves and votes for asserting the rights and privileges of our said company, and also for asserting our company’s right to their colony of Caledonia, we have further thought good to lay the same before your majesty by this our solemn address.
And, therefore, do with all humble duty and earnestness beseech your majesty to take this whole matter to your royal consideration and to prevent all encroachments for the future that may be made, either by your English ministers abroad or any other to the prejudice of this kingdom and our said company, or any project of trade that we may lawfully design, and to assure our said company of your majesty’s royal protection in all their just rights and privileges, and to grant them your countenance and concurrence for reparation of their losses, especially those great losses and damages that they and their colony have suffered by the injuries and acts of violence of the Spaniards.
And further, we represent to your majesty that the press-ganging of our citizens by the English for their sea service is contrary to the natural right and freedom of the subjects of this kingdom, ought to be absolutely discharged.
All which we represent to your majesty with the greater confidence, as being most assured that none of your kingdoms and subjects is or can be more dutifully and zealously affected to your majesty’s royal person and government than we and the good subjects of this your ancient kingdom are, and shall ever continue to testify by laying out our selves for your majesty’s service to the utmost of our power.
Signed in presence by warrant and in name of the estates of parliament by, may it please your majesty, your majesty’s most humble, most obedient and most faithful subject and servant, Patrick, Earl of Marchmont, Lord High Chancellor to the Parliament of Scotland, 17 January 1701″
1701: The English Parliament, introduced the “Act of Settlement”, passing royal succession to the House of Hanover securing Protestant only succession to the throne, and strengthening the guarantees ensuring a parliamentary system of government.
1702: William III fell from his horse and broke his neck.
1702: His wife’s sister Anne, became queen and the last monarch of the House of Stuart. She had 17 children by her husband, Prince George of Denmark, none of which survived her. She was immediately popular in England stating in her first speech to the English Parliament: “As I know my heart to be entirely English, I can very sincerely assure you there is not anything you can expect or desire from me which I shall not be ready to do for the happiness and prosperity of England.”
1704: England intended to transfer royal succession to the “House of Hanover” but Scotland insisted on the successor to Queen Anne being of direct Scottish descent as contained in the Laws of Scotland, right of succession. The outcome of discussions was a predictable stalemate. The Scottish Parliament passed the “Act of Security” threatening, in the absence of an agreement to withdraw financial and military support to England, which was fighting yet another war with Spain.
1705: The Alien Act, 1705 was passed by the parliament of England, in response to the Scottish parliament Act of Security, 1704 which in turn had been enacted in response to the English Act of Settlement, 1701. The Act provided that Scottish nationals in England were to be treated as aliens (foreign nationals), and estates held by Scots would be treated as alien property, making inheritance much less certain. It also included an embargo on the import of Scottish products into England and English colonies about half of Scotland’s trade, covering goods such as linen, cattle and coal. It contained a provision that it would be suspended but only if the Scots entered into negotiations regarding a proposed union of the parliaments of Scotland and England. Combined with English financial offers to refund Scottish losses on the Darien scheme, the Act achieved its aim, leading to the Acts of Union 1707 uniting the two countries as the Kingdom of Great Britain.
1706: The vast majority of Scots considered the Alien Act and its proposals to be blackmail and worked hard to retain their independence opening up new markets, running English blockades on Scotland’s ports, reducing dependence on trade with England. But Scottish nobles landed gentry and traders, who had borne much of the financial losses attributed to the, (Darien Project) were of a different mindset and led by the Duke of Queensberry, (the most senior noble in Scotland) they established a secret dialogue with Westminster politicians providing assurance an, “Act of Union” would be agreed, subject to a suitable financial settlement. A £400,000 sweetener was passed in secret to the Duke of Queensberry for distribution to the appropriate Scottish gentry.
1706: Despite the assurances of the Duke of Queensberry that Scotland would be delivered as promised the majority of Scots were still opposed to any agreement with England and a hastily-convened meeting of senior politicians in London decided that urgent measures would need to be taken, persuading the leader of factions opposed to the Union, (Duke of Hamilton) to switch sides. The ploy was successful, The Duke, together with enough of his close friends transferred their allegiance.
1706: The English public voiced doubt that the proposed Union would bring benefits and their concerns were raised in Westminster. To reassure England, Robert Harley, spymaster in the Westminster Government, contracted William Defoe to write a thrice-weekly review, (for the widest possible distribution in England) aimed at persuading English opinion to support the proposed Union. The thrust of Defoe’s assertions claimed that it would end the threat from Scotland forever and gain for Westminster an “inexhaustible treasury of fighting men” and a valuable new market further increasing the power of England.
1706 In the autumn, “Spymaster Harley” ordered Defoe to Edinburgh with the mission (as a secret agent) to do everything possible to help secure acquiescence in the Treaty of Union. His first reports included vivid descriptions of violent demonstrations against the Union. Sometime after, John Clerk of Penicuik, a leading Unionist, wrote, “He was a spy among us, but not known as such, otherwise the Mob of Edinburgh would have pulled him to pieces.”
Defoe, a Presbyterian, had been accepted as an adviser to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and committees of the Parliament of Scotland. Harley wrote that he was, “privy to all their folly” but, “perfectly unsuspected as with corresponding with anybody in England”. He was then able to heavily influence proposals that were put to the Scottish Parliament. In manipulating Scottish opinion he used opposite arguments, to those he used in England, for example, unusually ignoring the English doctrine of the Sovereignty of Parliament, telling Scot’s that they could have complete confidence in the guarantees in the Treaty. He secretly wrote many pamphlets praising the Union which were circulated throughout Scotland.
1707: The “Act of Union” was signed off and Defoe, was financially rewarded by spymaster Harley”. But the Scottish public was infuriated by the betrayal of the Nobles and high heid yins in Parliament. The Presbyterian minister of the Trongate church in Glasgow urged his congregation, “to up and anent for the City of God”. English government troops put down rioters in Glasgow. Copies of the Treaty were destroyed at almost every Mercat cross in Scotland and Martial Law was imposed together with a dusk to dawn curfew which remained in force for months.
1723: Defoe returned to Scotland many year’s after and on viewing the abject poverty of the people admitted that the increase of trade and population in Scotland which he had predicted as a consequence of the Union, was “not the case, but rather the contrary”.
European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 – loss of control of Scottish food standards – Post Brexit
The UK Government decided that all powers currently exercised at the EU level would transfer from Brussels to Westminster and included control over fields of competence presently devolved to Scotland such as the environment, agriculture and fisheries. This prompted accusations from the Scottish government that the Bill was a “naked power grab”.
In defence of its actions, the UK Government took the view that the current responsibilities of the devolved institutions were limited anyway by EU law and there would be no reduction in the powers of the devolved bodies if those issues were currently dealt with by the EU were handled at UK level.
The Bill also enabled Westminster to alter retained EU law in future, with the law as amended remaining outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament and included a number of caveats stating that decision-making powers returning from the EU would be allocated within the UK “in a way that works ensuring that no new barriers to living and doing business in the UK are created”.
The UK Government also gave notice of its intention to increase decision-making powers to devolved institutions in time, though the Bill was silent on when and how a further devolution of ‘repatriated’ powers would take place, or which powers would be repatriated but it did state that powers would not be devolved in a way that would hamper the UK’s ability to enter into trade agreements.
The foregoing legislation included modifying the aims and outputs of Food Standards (Scotland) (FSS) a non-ministerial entity that was put in place by the Scottish government in 2015 to ensure that information and advice on food safety and standards, nutrition and labelling were independent, consistent, evidence-based and consumer-focused.
With its primary concern being consumer protection the agency was further tasked with making sure that food was safe to eat, ensuring consumers knew what they were eating and improving nutrition. With that in mind, its vision was to deliver food and drink environment in Scotland that benefitted and protected consumers. FSS did develop policies and was a trusted source of advice protecting consumers through the delivery of a robust regulatory and enforcement strategy.
The Bill amended the Scotland Act 1998 forbidding the Scottish Parliament from modifying “retained EU law”. but empowered Westminster to alter retained EU laws in future.
Essentially, the effect was to ensure that powers currently outside the competence of the Scottish Parliament because of EU law constraints would remain outside its competence.
Comment: Food import contracts post-Brexit will be compiled negotiated and agreed upon by UK government ministers. Another example of Westminster’s colonial control over Scotland.