Notes From the Northern Colony

SNP

by Greum Maol Stevenson

Richard Leonard has resigned as leader of the Scottish Labour Party. Incompetent, conservative and sexist as he is, I am sorry to see him go, because his incompetence, conservatism and sexism were an asset to Scottish Independence supporters, helping make his party a travesty. He is loved by some of us in the SNP for the same reason we love Boris Johnson (whom some of us think is doing more for Scottish Independence than Robert the Bruce and William Wallace combined).

I would have liked Mr Leonard to remain leader until the election in May, so he could help ensure that the SNP wins by the predicted landslide. While it is hard to imagine the Scottish Labour Party finding someone equally hapless to replace him, whoever gets the job (Jackie Baillie? Anas Sarwar?) is unlikely to be able to repair the damage he has caused his party in the next few months.

#richardleonard #scottishlabourparty #snp #scottishindependence #scottishpolitics #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson

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by Greum Maol Stevenson

On Hogmanay, the streets of Glasgow were quiet. An hour before midnight, England left the EU, dragging Scotland with it.

Not for long.

Nicola Sturgeon knows this. That is why she immediately tweeted, “Scotland will be back soon, Europe. Keep the light on.”

The UK is like the character played by Bruce Willis in the film The Sixth Sense, who is dead but does not yet know it.

It became terminally ill when Scotland voted against Brexit — a vote that was ignored by the UK government.

It died when the Scottish government voted against England’s “rotten” Brexit deal, which excludes Scottish seed potatoes — a vote that was ignored by the UK government.

The death certificate will be signed at the Scottish election in May, when the SNP will win by an unprecedented majority, and the Scottish people will insist that the election is also a mandate on Scottish independence. The UK will not be brought back to life by those who quaver that England should be able to decide whether a Scottish referendum is “legal,” or by reactionaries who chatter that there is “division” in the SNP because of the presence of such relics from the 80s and 90s as Joanna Cherry, Joan McAlpine and the lurching zombie that was once Alex Salmond, who led us to defeat seven years ago.

This year, Scotland will tell, not ask.

Bliadhna mhath ùr.

#scottishindependence #brexit #nicolasturgeon #joanmcalpine #alexsalmond #snp #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson

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by Greum Maol Stevenson

In this post, I said it was disappointing that no SNP leaders attended the Vigil for the Valley in protest of Glasgow City Council's selling off a former social housing site to private bidders.

Today, Patrick Grady, MP for Glasgow North, responded:

Dear Greum

Many thanks for sharing with me your article regarding the recent 'Vigil in the Valley' organised by the Wyndford Tenant's Union regarding the potential development of the land at Collina Street.

It may be helpful to explain that unfortunately I didn’t receive any advance notice of this event from either the Living Rent campaign or the Wyndford Tenant's Union. Your email on Friday came in after business hours, by which time I already had alternative commitments and couldn't attend at such short notice. I was able to attend the nearby 'Reclaim Maryhill' at roughly the same time – a community campaign to promote active travel, accessible civic spaces and climate action in the Maryhill area.

I understand that an invitation was sent to Bob Doris MSP and you may be interested in his response conveying his apologies for being unable to attend:

“Thank you for the kind invite to the outdoor vigil that is being organised by WTU. I also appreciate you drawing the Living Rent manifesto to my attention , It makes for interesting reading. The SNP will of course consider its approach to affordable housing as we develop our manifesto going forward.

“Regarding the vigil, I am actually taking part in another local community event tomorrow and I am unlikely to be able to attend as I have family commitments after the other event. My apologies.

“It is helpful that you have drawn some of your concerns to my attention. With regards the proposed development at Collina Street, this is part of the next phase of the Maryhill Transformational Regeneration Area plans. I will take time to look at these plans. It is fair to say that there has been significant investment in social housing in the area locally and great strides have been made to improve much of the housing stock. The strategy has been to ensure that the area is developed as mixed tenure, something I support.

“You are quite right that a key part of redeveloping the area should be social housing and I know the Council are committed to this. A good example is Kelvindale Place which was transformed in 2018 with 52 social rented properties. There is also Whitelaw Street (the Botany), an area I am particularly proud to have seen developed. This was something I raised in Parliament when first elected given the years of delay and broken promises to tenants. 35 new social rented homes were built there in 2010.

“As you know there has been a major and welcome development at Maryhill Locks with the completion of another 106 social rented homes and 19 shared equity properties in 2015 also.

“More social rented units are also planned and of course there has been various other builds including 6 self-build properties, private, shared equity and mid-market rent. Sorry I don’t have more details to hand but I wanted to ensure I contacted you before tomorrow.

“I would be happy to discuss with Glasgow City Council the Collina Street proposals which I understand is 125 units for low cost home ownership. I’d be keen to learn more about this.”

I trust this is helpful. I will continue to liaise with Bob and the local Councillors as this situation develops.

Best wishes

Patrick — Patrick Grady Member of Parliament for Glasgow North Chief Whip, SNP Westminster Group www.patrickgrady.scot

#patrickgradymp #bobdorismsp #SNP #wyndfordtenantsunion #collinastreet #maryhill #glasgow #stillgame #landlordism #buytolet #socialhousing #livingrent #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson

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by Greum Maol Stevenson

As readers of this blog are aware, Craig Murray likes things to be all about him. So it is unsurprising that he has decided to run for the position of President of the SNP, and still less surprising that he has once again embarrassed himself.

Mr Murray took out an ad in The National with the headline “Craig Murray for SNP President and Independence in Two Years”. He declares:

“I am standing for President because I want the SNP to be a party whose overriding priority is to obtain full, completed and internationally recognised Independence for Scotland within a maximum of two years from this date...

“As I was a British diplomat for over 20 years, including six years as a member of the Senior Management Structure of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I can assure you that MI5, GCHQ and the other organs of the UK security state are targeted on us. Scottish Independence supporters are rightly perceived as the biggest threat to the UK state.

“My intention is to ensure that we are indeed the biggest threat to the UK state. Anybody who believes that the security services are not already targeted on us is a fool. The security services would not be doing their declared job otherwise. This new legislation is a threat to us. Remember Pat Finucane. Remember David Kelly. Above all, remember Willie McRae.”

While Mr Murray is right about the urgent need for Scottish Independence, it is pitiful that he presents himself as the person to bring it about within two years if he becomes SNP President (which he will not). The position is an honorary, unpaid one, without power or influence. Its only reward is the spotlight Mr Murray seems to crave.

We need to demand another referendum, without asking England's permission. (See this column by Xeno Albannach). But the struggle will not be helped by grandstanding, personality-centred sideshows.

#craigmurray #SNP #scottishindependence #scottishpolitics #xenoalbannach #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson

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by Greum Maol Stevenson

Craig Murray reports that his trial for contempt of court, which could end with him being imprisoned for two years, will be without a jury. The evidence he presents that the judge will not be impartial is convincing — and chilling.

The hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh is on June 10. Mr Murray writes:

TWO WAYS YOU CAN HELP

The hearing on 10 June is supposed to be public, but it will be virtual because of coronavirus. While it is a case management hearing, I shall nevertheless be grateful if you are able to “attend” virtually, as I am very keen indeed that I am not stitched up out of the public eye. Please send an email requesting access to the virtual hearing on 10 June to judicialcomms@scotcourts.gov.uk. I am very keen as many people do this as possible. Journalists please in addition copy in communications@scotcourts.gov.uk for accreditation.

Secondly, many people come to this blog through social media and I am currently suffering a very high level of suppression, on Facebook and especially on Twitter. Rather than just retweet and share any soical media post that brought you here, (which may appear on the face to have worked but the dissemination will be suppressed), I would be very grateful if you could also write your own new posting and put a link. If you have your own blog or access to one, a commendation of this post with a link would be very welcome, even if it is not your normal policy. And finally of course, the entire post is free as always to copy, republish and translate as you wish.

Also published on The Harbourmaster's Loug

#craigmurray #alexsalmond #scotland #snp #markhirst #lordturnbull #alexprentice #scottishpolitics #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson

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by Greum Maol Stevenson

As discussed here previously, Scottish mainstream media made no mention of Craig Murray's being removed by police from the High Court in Edinburgh during Alex Salmond's trial. Since then, Murray has published a J'accuse that, in forensic detail, makes a compelling case that there is a conspiracy against Alex Salmond.

And apparently not just Mr Salmond.

Paul Hutcheon, political editor at the Daily Record, has investigated Mr Murray's home and his personal finances and published a misleading article, without addressing any of his concerns. The paper also published a photo of Mr Murray's home.

In his article in response, Mr Murray writes:

The key point is not one mainstream media journalist has even attempted to refute the facts of my article J’accuse. It is packed with facts. Might not the political editor of the Daily Record better spend his time researching the conspiracy against Alex Salmond, rather than threatening an independent journalist for the crime of doing journalism? ...What I am now waiting for is all these people to step in and condemn the publishing of my home and the subsequent risk to the security of my wife and family, with as much vigour as they today defended the privacy of the Edinburgh third house of the Head of MI6.

Also published on The Harbourmaster's Loug

#craigmurray #alexsalmond #paulhutcheon #dailyrecord #scotland #alexsalmondtrial #alexsalmondconspiracy #snp #mediaharassment #bullying #scottishpolitics #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson

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by Greum Maol Stevenson

It did not take the jury long to decide whether Alex Salmond was guilty of rape, attempted rape, and the other sex crimes he was on trial for at Edinburgh High Court. Deliberations began last Friday, and on Monday Mr Salmond was acquitted of all 13 charges.

Since then, there has been talk of a conspiracy against Mr Salmond. But, in all the news reports and opinion pieces, one thing has been glaringly absent: any mention of Craig Murray, and his being removed from the courtroom the day before the trial ended.

Mr Murray is a former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, turned whistleblower and columnist. He is also a friend of Alex Salmond’s. While Mr Murray is a fine journalist, he tends to embarrass himself when writing in defence of his friends. He covered Julian Assange’s recent extradition hearing, and his portrait of Mr Assange was such cringe-inducing hagiography that anyone who had read Andrew O'Hagan's reporting on Mr Assange’s incompetence, grandiosity and dishonesty would be inclined to question anything else Mr Murray wrote.

It got worse when Mr Murray wrote about Salmond’s trial. In his fervour to praise Mr Salmond’s record as First Minister, and trash Nicola Sturgeon’s, he praised Huawei, and, without offering evidence, cast doubt on Russia’s poisoning a former spy and his daughter in the UK.

But he wrote respectfully about the judge, Lady Dorrian, and had to admit his friend was getting a fair trial.

And then, the day before the trial ended, police removed Mr Murray from the courtroom and told him he was banned for the duration of the trial. The prosecution had asked the judge to remove him because of a “possible contempt of court.” No further explanation was given.

Mr Murray wrote:

To be excluded from a public trial on the basis of something I have “possibly” done, when nobody will even specify what it is I have “possibly” done, seems to me a very strange proceeding. I can only assume that it is something I have written on this blog as there has been no incident or disturbance of any kind inside the courtroom. But if the judge is genuinely concerned that something I have written is so wrong as to necessitate my exclusion, you would expect there would be a real desire for the court to ask me to amend or remove that wrong thing. But as nobody will even tell me what that wrong thing might “possibly” be, it seems only reasonable to conclude that they are not genuinely concerned, in a legal sense, about something I have written.

It was clear from the start that someone wanted to keep Mr Murray out of the courtroom. First, it was announced that only “accredited media” (i.e. corporate and state media) would be allowed in — no independent or “citizen” journalists. Even though Mr Murray’s blog has a bigger readership than some newspapers, and he has been praised by such journalists as John Pilger and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, this criteria excluded him. When the prosecution had finished making its case and it was time for the defence to begin, the public gallery was opened, and Mr Murray sat there.

Until the police came for him.

Sources say Mr Murray was so depressed by his banning — and the threat of a charge of contempt of court, which can get you two years in prison — that, during the weekend Mr Salmond spent waiting to find out his fate, he was so worried about Mr Murray that he called him to see if he was all right.

When the verdicts came in, Mr Murray was so happy he got too drunk to write about it in any depth. So… not an impartial reporter, and not pretending to be. But, whether you think he is a truth-teller, a friend blinded by loyalty, or a conspiracy theorist, why has there been nothing about his banning in any mainstream media? Both The Herald and The National have given copious space to theories that there was an SNP conspiracy against Alex Salmond, but Craig Murray’s existence has not been acknowledged.

It is enough to make you wonder if there is a conspiracy.

Also published on The Harbourmaster's Loug

#alexsalmond #craigmurray #snp #nicolasturgeon #alexsalmondconspiracy #scottishpolitics #alexsalmondtrial #scotland #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson

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by Greum Maol Stevenson

I am a British citizen, though I now resent that status. I was born and grew up in Glasgow, travelled widely, and once again live in Glasgow. But the government of the country that colonises Scotland refused to allow me to marry in my own country.

Bree, my wife, is American. We have been a committed couple for 11 years, living together in America for most of that time. In 2017, she visited me in Glasgow three times, a few weeks at a time, amounting to slightly less than six months of that year. American citizens are allowed to spend six months of a calendar year in the UK without a visa.

In March 2018, Bree came for her first visit of the year. Border Force detained her at Glasgow airport, searched her luggage, read her journal, looked at her phone, kept her in a room all day, and accused her of living here part-time. When they called me (the person refused to tell me his name) and I confirmed she was my partner, they told me they considered the frequency of her visits to be an “abuse” of the regulations, but did not explain how. That was a Wednesday; late in the afternoon, they told her she would have to leave on Saturday, and they kept her passport. We had two days and one evening together before she had to leave.

In the next few months, we talked by video or text every day, and considered moving to another country to be together, as I was unwilling to live in the US, and Bree said she considered home to be wherever I was. The harshness of our separation was made worse when I experienced a serious illness that required hospitalisation. When I recovered, we decided she would apply for a visa to be allowed to come to Glasgow and marry me.

I went to the Glasgow registry office to book the wedding for August 22, 2019. No problem.

Bree applied for a fiancee visa, and showed copies of the wedding paperwork. On June 23, her visa application was denied on the grounds that she had not shown proof that she intended to leave, or that I could financially support her during the time she would be here — even though there was no request for my financial details on the application form, and they did not contact me at all, and Bree had shown that she had £29,000 in savings. Her savings alone, or my salary alone (£24,000 a year) would have been more than enough for us to live on for the six months the fiancee visa would cover.

They further stated that they were suspicious because she had previously listed her occupation as “photographer” and was now listing it as “clergy.” The reason for the change is simple: Bree, like me, is a Zen Buddhist monk, and for more than a year had been ministering to homeless people in Seattle full-time, so had not been working as a photographer.

The government of my country let me arrange my wedding, and the government of another country forced me to call it off.

Bree and I emailed a registry office in Reykjavik, Iceland, and were told we were welcome to get married there. When we met up there at the end of August 2019, it had been a year and five months, a cruel separation that now made us determined not to be separated again. After ten blissful days in Reykjavik, as we prepared to fly to Glasgow together, we decided that if Border Force did not let her in, we would go back to Iceland together.

Lying awake on our last night in Reykjavik, it struck me that we were among the most fortunate of those abused by the Home Office; we own devices that let us stay in contact every day, we both speak English as a first language, neither of us has a boss, and the work we do can be done from anywhere that has an Internet connection. Even though it would be tough financially, we could probably survive in a country even as expensive as Iceland. But if a couple as privileged as us could be denied a life in my country, how much worse it must be for those with fewer resources.

You can imagine how apprehensive we were as the plane landed at Glasgow airport. At customs, when I showed my passport to the machine, the barrier opened. When Bree showed it her passport, a message appeared on the screen telling her to seek assistance.

I stood waiting on the other side for perhaps a half-hour, until a man in a uniform approached, asked me if I was me, and asked to see our marriage certificate. I was relieved that he was as friendly as the one we had dealt with in 2018 had been belligerent, but it was an interrogation nonetheless. He kept repeating that Bree could not legally live with me in Scotland, and asking what our plans were — and I told him, truthfully, we did not yet know where we were going to live. I suspect it helped that, to be on the safe side, Bree had booked only a short visit to Scotland, and was able to show a return ticket to America for three weeks hence. The man let her in.

She has been here longer than three weeks, because we quickly hired an immigration lawyer, and the preparation for her application for a visa that will let her stay here with me involves in-person meetings. She is here legally; the allowed six months runs out on March 7. And she will have to leave by then, because when she applies for her visa, she will have to make the application in America. She is not allowed to be in the UK when she applies. Why? Because.

And this is the most reprehensible thing about the Home Office’s policies: they are not just ruthless, they are cruel. Ruthlessness is at least rational, as it involves hurting people in order to gain something. But the Home Office is causing harm with nothing to gain. How does it benefit from forcing Bree to go back to America for the eight weeks her visa application will take? What damage did they think she had done in 2017 by coming here, breathing air, occupying physical space and spending money?

And note that I say “they,” not “we.” Because it is England, not Scotland, that is stopping me from being with my wife for another indefinite period.

Patrick Grady, the MP for Glasgow North, agrees. “Scotland needs an immigration policy suited to our specific circumstances and needs,” he told me last year. “We need people to want to come to work, live and study here and to contribute to our society.

“Time and time again we are seeing people being denied entry or leave to remain in the UK because of the Home Office’s strict and arbitrary immigration rules.

“It’s clear the UK Government’s hostile environment approach is failing Scotland, which is why the SNP continues to call for the devolution of immigration powers so that we can create an immigration policy that benefits our economy and society, and one that treats people with dignity and respect.”

So, as we prepare for Bree to leave in just over two weeks, I feel as Scottish as I always have, but no more British than she is.

#scottishindependence #snp #patrickgradymp #englishcolonisation #homeoffice #immigration #borderforce #hostileenvironment #scotland #scottishpolitics #ukvisa #scottishblogs #greummaolstevenson

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