Notes From the Northern Colony


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 #greummaolstevenson


by Greum Maol Stevenson

danse macabre

The Scottish government has not announced any plans to ease the laws against robbery, assault or drunk driving.

However, despite condemnation from The British Medical Journal and The Health Service Journal, this Christmas you can cause the deaths of any number of people without penalty, though the government would prefer that you did not. Indeed, it “strongly recommends” that you do not, but leaves it up to you.

In an ususual joint editorial both medical journals said, referring to plans to ease lockdown regulations at Christmas, “We believe the government is about to blunder into another major error that will cost many lives.”

The government does not even deny this, but has decided that it will allow up to eight people from three households to meet indoors for five days... though it is asking them not to. In an announcement today, Nicola Sturgeon said, “If you haven't made plans to form a bubble yet, please don't. If you're still swithering, please decide against. And if you have made plans, but think they're not really essential, perhaps think about postponing until later in the year.”

Other behaviours that endanger people are not left to individual choice. They are banned by law, and the law is enforced. Why? Because there are people who will risk other people's lives unless they are stopped. So how many people does the government expect to follow mere “recommendations”?

#scotland #covid19 #coronavirus #scottishgovernment #nicolasturgeon #publichealth #pandemic #greummaolstevenson


by Greum Maol Stevenson

Last year, I remarked to a friend that he has what I consider a sexist habit of referring to female politicians by their first names, but uses last names for their male counterparts. He refers to the Scottish First Minister as “Nicola,” but never referred to her predecessor as “Alex.” I told him I thought this showed he took women less seriously than men, seeing them as closer to children than adults.

He replied he always referred to Boris Johnson by his first name, but admitted he did not do that with any other male politicians. I suggested this supported my point, because Johnson's clownish persona made my friend see him as an overgrown child, giving him the same status he gave women.

And it is a persona; in private life, he is not called Boris. His friends and family call him Al, his actual first name (his name is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson). In a similar way to the US cult of “Bernie” — Sanders's friends and family call him Bernard — Johnson is selling performance, not policy. But, unlike Sanders, he is dangerous.

In this ungrammatical column in The National, Lesley Riddoch does a good job of normalising him by referring to him with chummy, faux-familiarity.

It is of urgent importance not to trivialise this catastrophe with cute nicknames. Call him what he is: the Prime Minister. And in calling him that, consider the ultra-right-wing populist who now holds that office, and see where we are.

#borisjohnson #nicolasturgeon #populism #lesleyriddoch #scottishpolitics #thenational #scotland #greummaolstevenson


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 #greummaolstevenson