“Ye Jacobites by name,
Your fautes I will proclaim,
Your doctrines I maun blame, you shall hear, you shall hear”—Burns
It is fitting that the online launch of the Alba party (the name of which its leader, Alex Salmond, does not know how to pronounce) was disrupted by technical issues, and then had its membership list leaked, because the party represents a time before such technology existed.
I have a dear friend who, like me, is in his mid-50s. We met in the 1980s, and my friend is still in that era. He is a walking time capsule who still speaks the vernacular of 35 years ago — people who would now be called “woke” are “right on,” or they are “trendy lefties.” He is disturbed by the acceptance of transgender people, and declares that there were only two genders until recently, and he does not see why it should change. (I am not making this up.) He also believes passionately in various conspiracy theories, including that the 9-11 attacks were committed by the US government…
In the Holyrood inquiry as to whether Nicola Sturgeon misled parliament, the vote was along party lines, with four SNP members finding that she did not, and the other five — two Tories, one Labour, one Lib Dem and one independent — finding that she did.
Now an independent report by James Hamilton, former director of public prosecutions in the Republic of Ireland, has found that she is not in breach of the ministerial code. This will disappoint her opponents, who have been excitedly demanding that she resign if Mr Hamilton’s report had found against her.
Boris Johnson is the Prime Minister of England, and, if you believe in democracy, it is right and fitting that he should be. In England his popularity, and that of his party, is six points ahead of the party led by Keir Starmer that no longer has any connection to its name.
There can be no democratic argument that Johnson does not represent England. The majority of English voters want him, and they have him.
The majority of Scottish voters do not want him, and we have him. And, as he continues to treat Scotland with contempt, he is proving that, until Scotland is independent, our votes do not matter. In May, Scottish people will overwhelmingly vote for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP — and we will continue to get what England votes for. Anyone in Scotland who opposes independence opposes their own right to vote.
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.
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.
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.