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Wings Over Scotland

The Broken Mike 477

Posted on January 06, 2024 by

Mike Russell, currently at the centre of controversy over his appointment as chair of the Scottish Land Commission, hit the political big stage during Scotland’s first ever SNP administration under Alex Salmond, whom, in turn, Mike had previously seen into office as Salmond’s campaign manager.

In 2007 he was appointed as Minister for Environment, then in 2009 he became the Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, and his conventional ministerial career concluded when he went on to replace Fiona Hyslop as Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning until the end of 2014.

Following the 2014 independence vote, the pre-referendum era ended with Salmond’s dignified (albeit temporary) stage exit; Nicola Sturgeon took the helm and began to reform what had been left to her by her predecessor.

A core pillar of Sturgeon’s centrist reform was the construction of an almost entirely opaque ivory tower of power from which both SNP and the state would run their covert affairs with subversive, centralizing, strong-arm granularity, cleverly camouflaging its sinister implications from the public through cult-of-personality media management.

Instrumental in this, among a very few select others, was Mike Russell.

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Fire Water Burn 994

Posted on September 08, 2022 by

Robert Burns was well known for liking a wee dram. He grew up in the aftermath of the failed rising of 1745, living through the harsh and brutal consequences inflicted on Scotland by the Act of Proscription.

In “Earnest Cry and Prayer” the Bard was responding to the UK Parliament’s Scotch Distillery Act of 1786, a protectionist act aimed at supporting London’s gin industry by hiking duties on whisky sold in England and by taxing Scottish still capacity. It was a call for action to Scotland’s 45 members of Parliament from a man who understood the destructive power of such acts.

He asked which Scot would not feel his blood boil at seeing the resources of the nation’s stills destroyed and its wealth plundered, roaring to the MPs:

“God bless your Honors! can ye see’t,
The kind, auld, cantie carlin greet,
An’ no get warmly to your feet,
An’ gar them hear it,
An’ tell them wi’ a patriot-heat,
Ye winna bear it?” 

As the UK Parliament is set to return from its summer holiday it is hard not to see continued parallels over the ages and again today.

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Representing Scotland 244

Posted on February 14, 2021 by

Two weeks ago a Wings scoop caused quite a furore to erupt around the SNP’s ham-fisted and corruptly-motivated attempts to increase BAME and disabled representation at this year’s Holyrood election.

We’ve always been opposed to what were until recently known as “quotas”, and prior to that “positive discrimination”, but have now been cunningly rebranded as “diversity and inclusion” because that’s a much more difficult thing to say you object to.

It’s easy to make an honourable-sounding case against any form of “discrimination”, because decent and civilised people are taught to automatically think of discrimination as a bad thing, even if you put “positive” in front of it.

So the word “quotas” was adopted to move the concept from a pejorative term to a neutral noun – objecting to “quotas” doesn’t sound intolerant, any more than objecting to (say) “procedures” does. So that’s fine, because you can still discuss it like adults without too much unpleasantness.

But those pushing the agenda got smarter still by changing the name again. If you say you object to “diversity and inclusion”, you sound like a monster and a racist, because diversity and inclusion are plainly good things – no decent person wants to live in a monoculture, or to exclude anybody from society – and so the debate is immediately drowned out by self-righteous tossers screaming “BIGOT!” and “NAZI!” at everyone.

And yet in the context of social policy the three phrases mean the exact same thing. They’re all systems for overriding raw democracy so as to increase the representation of selected groups at the expense of other groups, for one reason or another.

(Sometimes it’s ostensibly just penance for historical wrongs, while at other times it’s supposedly for economic benefits, and so on.)

And while the proponents of those systems will openly argue that the only group being disadvantaged is straight white men so it’s all fine (because nobody likes straight white men and anyone standing up for them can be easily dismissed as a “gammon” for lots of woke points and Twitter likes), it isn’t even remotely close to the truth.

Because in “diversity and inclusion”, some groups are a lot more included than others.

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Soapbox: The invisible woman 247

Posted on October 25, 2020 by

The dead hand running the show at SNP HQ is no better illustrated than by the career path of Shirley-Anne Somerville.

For despite her failure to succeed in role after role, election after election, her star continues to ascend through the patronage of the SNP’s inner sanctum and to the bemusement of ordinary members and parliamentarians.

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Fair’s Fair: the Brexit case for indyref 2 154

Posted on September 20, 2020 by

As a right-of-centre English conservative, there are Scottish National Party concepts I haven’t so far been able to comprehend. Perhaps it’s because I don’t follow Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford. Should I keep an eye on what The Scotsman is saying?

SNP leaders talk in the same sentence of a “free” and “independent” Scotland having a future as a member of the EU. My grasp of those words is not theirs. Distinguished lawyers – be they Remainers, Leavers or Don’t-Care-Just-Pay-My-Billsers – all agree that a series of European Court of Justice decisions have established the unqualified supremacy of European Union laws – disguised as “Regulations and Directives” – over the national laws of EU states.

By 1970, the court ruled that Community law must take precedence even over the constitutional laws of member states — including basic laws guaranteeing fundamental rights, such as in Internationale Handelsgesellschaft mbH v Einfuhr- und Vorratsstelle für Getreide und Futtermittel.

I see this as vassalage, not independence.

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Soapbox: In the hawk’s nest 238

Posted on July 26, 2020 by

This week saw publication of the long-awaited Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report on alleged Russian interference in British affairs. Despite media hysteria, the report contained no new revelations, just all-too-familiar catastrophising about Moscow’s ill-defined “disinformation” efforts and warnings of the undue influence rich Russians (most of whom are actually Kremlin opponents) have bought themselves.

The most salient point for supporters of Scottish independence to consider was the allegation that Moscow’s interference efforts extended to the 2014 indyref. As Wings pointed out earlier this week, however, the “evidence” to support this sensational claim amounted to nothing more than a heavily-redacted single paragraph, citing “credible open source commentary” as its sole source.

A look at the paragraph’s accompanying footnote reveals the “credible open source” commentator was Ben Nimmo of the Atlantic Council. For those in the fortunate position of being unfamiliar with his work, Nimmo is known for, among other things, falsely identifying a Syrian-Australian blogger and a British pensioner as Russian bots – so clearly someone whose expertise should be relied upon to determine the extent of Russian infiltration into Scottish politics.

I mention this not simply to reveal the transparently amateurish nature of the ISC’s report but rather to offer a commentary on the SNP’s (predictably) disappointing response to its allegations.

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Soapbox: What price freedom? 436

Posted on July 19, 2020 by

It’s literally carved on the walls of Parliament.

“I ken, when we had a king, and a chancellor and parliament men o’ oor ain, we could aye peeble them wi’ stanes when they were na gude bairns – but naebody’s nails can reach the length o’ Lunnon.” (Sir Walter Scott)

There are those who stay and there are those who leave. Since the 1700s the eyes of the ambitious Scot have looked towards London. Many have made the journey there and, as with Ireland, Scotland’s most precious export has been its people.

But for those of us who have remained in Scotland our eyes are still turned south.

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The counsel of despair 968

Posted on September 28, 2019 by

He’s got no right to shoot from there.

There’s less than half an hour to go and we’re holding the previous year’s World Cup finalists on their own patch. A point would be a great result, but we’ve got men up. Try to thread it through on the left. Turn, hold it up for a second and knock it out wide to the overlap on the right and get forward for a cross or a cutback. If we just wait, if we take it slow, the situation can only get better for us.

But definitely don’t waste it on a wild, optimistic punt.


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The problem with being liberal 262

Posted on April 07, 2019 by

We haven’t talked much on Wings about the court case currently in progress against former Scottish Labour branch manager Kezia Dugdale, for hopefully obvious reasons.

The case is currently “in avizandum” – legal jargon for “the sheriff is considering his decision” – and a result is hoped for around the end of this month, and while as far as we know there’s no actual rule against talking about it at this stage, if you’re one of the participants it’s probably not the greatest idea as a general principle.

But what CAN be discussed is a much wider issue which it touched on, as highlighted by Daily Record columnist Anna Burnside while talking about the case during last week’s BBC Radio Scotland media review on the John Beattie Show.

The debate had a fully balanced panel: Burnside, who thought I was an awful person, Stuart Cosgrove, who thought I was an awful person with a sometimes-good website, and Anne Marie Watson, who thought I was an awful person. But it was Burnside who really went in with the boot, as can be heard from 2m 27s on the clip below.

(The John Beattie Show, BBC Radio Scotland, 28 March 2019)

Let’s take a walk through that.

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A quick morality check 136

Posted on November 06, 2018 by

There was a certain uncomfortable 2018 inevitability this morning over the fact that where people were offended, arrests would follow.

And the burning of a cardboard model of the Grenfell Tower last night was certainly right up near the top in the pantheon of cretinously offensive things. Many victims of the appalling tragedy, which killed 72 people and injured many more, still haven’t been properly rehomed almost a year and a half later.

But if it’s a CRIME, we have some questions.

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Soapbox: The War Of Words 443

Posted on April 29, 2018 by

So everyone’s fighting about Gaelic again. Provoked by a minor story about a Gaelic dictionary MSM and alt-media pundits are flying at each other with daggers over a language spoken by almost nobody on Earth and on which the government spends a few measly and irrelevant pennies, trying to turn it into a proxy war over politics and the constitution and fascism and genocide and goodness knows what else.

We’ve covered the political nonsense around the issue numerous times on this site, and we’re not about to do so again here. This, as befits the Soapbox section, is a purely personal view, which will doubtless attract more furious shrieking from the sort of people who long ago lost the ability to listen to a counterpoint – or indeed tolerate the mere concept of one – let alone consider it or debate it without abuse.

But hey ho. After a while you just learn to tune that stuff out, so let’s go.

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Picking up the gauntlet 116

Posted on July 21, 2017 by

We’ll be honest with you here, readers – even though it’s only July, when it comes to sheer ham-fisted, tin-eared, clown-shoed, foot-shooting idiocy we didn’t think anything in Scottish politics in 2017 could possibly top the SNP’s decision that the surefire way to win back voters after a poor election result was literally mutilating puppies.

After all, that’s the sort of thing you say as a self-evidently ludicrous and hyperbolic joke: “Ha ha, the SNP are so dominant in Scotland these days that the only way they could lose an election would be if Nicola Sturgeon went on telly and started hacking the tails off week-old puppy-dogs without anaesthetic! LOL!!!!!”

It couldn’t even be defended as a grotesque but cynically cunning attempt to win votes from the rural hunting-and-fishing lobby – they did it right AFTER the election, when all those people had just gone out and voted Tory anyway.

But bless their hearts, Scottish Labour never once saw a low bar that they didn’t try to slither under, and today they pulled off the seemingly impossible.

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