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We’ll be honest with you, readers, we’re not looking forward to 2017 one little bit. It’s going to be the most tedious year in Scottish politics since we started this website, and perhaps since the advent of devolution.
Other than the mild distraction of the council elections in May – which are likely to be a bit of a damp squib due to the deadening effect of STV and the propensity of Labour and the Tories to do deals to keep the SNP out of power – pretty much nothing even a little bit interesting is going to happen.
All we ARE going to hear about is Brexit and the EU, over and over and over and over again, and everything we’re going to hear is the same empty, pointless, space-filling speculation we’ve already been hearing since June. So let’s just get it down, and then we can link to it every week and go and do something useful with our time instead.
This is a picture of the Sun, which reports confirm became visible in the skies above parts of the Northern Hemisphere earlier today.
A similar event is widely expected to take place around the same time tomorrow.
Alert readers will remember that last month we debunked a front-page story from the Scottish Daily Mail about SNP MPs’ expenses, which made the spectacularly untrue claim that they were more expensive than their Unionist predecessors, when in fact they cost significantly less and did far more work.
A couple of days ago the Mail finally ran a “clarification”. And we thought you might like to know exactly how much more the Mail values lies than truth.
The highlighted areas on the picture above occupy 440,107 pixels.
Alert readers may have noticed with barely-concealed disinterest that Scottish Labour have announced their intention to have another really hard think about devolution.
With Labour not looking like being in power at either Holyrood or Westminster for at least a decade, and their opinions therefore being about as relevant as our ideas as to who should play in the back four for Real Madrid next weekend, most papers treated the news with the gravitas it deserved, such as this report in the Sunday Post:
But we thought it might be a snappy idea to keep track of all the times the Unionist parties have promised that they’ve come up with the ultimate form of devo-X.
Unionists got very excited last week about a YouGov poll for the Times which showed that not only had the post-Brexit bump in support for independence been undone, but that it was now (fractionally) below the level recorded in the indyref for the first time since the September 2014 vote.
(It was a slightly curious poll, with a massively disproportionate number – over 27% – of its respondents born outside Scotland, mostly from the rest of the UK, but it was weighted so that shouldn’t have been much of a factor. It also found majority support for a second EU referendum, despite a 30-point margin for Remain, but opposition to a second indyref despite the margin for the Union being just 12 points.)
Nevertheless, given that nothing’s happened since the end of June that ought to have damaged the case for Yes (the oil price is currently at a 12-month high, for example, almost twice what it was in January), the 10% drop in support is a troubling one for the independence movement.
But it shouldn’t be. Because what the poll shows is that there is currently a majority of people in Scotland prepared to vote for independence.
I wasn’t going to mention this on the site because it’s basically a personal matter, but as most readers don’t use Twitter or Facebook it probably ought to be briefly filed for the record, given the amount of media coverage there’s been.
It won’t take long.
Readers of this site will be well aware of the many failings and limitations of GERS, aka Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland – the document which serves as the informal accounts of a devolved Scotland but tells us next to nothing about the finances of an independent Scotland, as noted just a few weeks ago by the impartial multinational auditors Deloitte.
An article I produced this week for the Common Weal White Paper Project – Beyond GERS – has generated much critical response from Unionists, though some of it has at least been constructive.
Spurred on by the mention of the article by David Torrance in Monday’s Herald, in a column containing several serious inaccuracies, I’ve seen various misunderstandings and misconceptions about it which ought to be addressed.
We haven’t dignified the current media-imagined “crisis” in Scotland’s railways with coverage thus far, for obvious reasons, but it seemed worth briefly letting someone much better qualified to comment than us bring some perspective to the issue.
(From today’s Herald. Click to enlarge.)
Readers might well feel justified in wondering why it wasn’t until someone took it upon themselves to go to the trouble of writing to a newspaper, after days of sustained press hysteria, that some sane and balanced commentary on the situation appeared. But then again, if Mr Docherty’s expert opinion had been sought in the first place, we wouldn’t have been able to have a solid week of “SNP BAD” all over the airwaves.