Selected Articles Brian Monteith: Are Scottish unionists beginning to get their act together?While political focus in the last week has naturally been given over to the Prime Minister’s reshuffle there have been other political developments that should not be ignored, for they suggest that Scottish unionists are beginning to get their act together and at last go on the offensive. Brian Wilson: Here’s the real reason Derek Mackay should have resigned this weekThe arrogance of petty power comes in many forms and Scotland is awash with it. At some point, that reality has to be confronted and corrected. Will this week be a turning-point? Every government and minister needs the constraints imposed by accountability. SNP: Opposition? What Opposition?MICHAEL J BLAIR Perthshire, Scotland All governments need a strong opposition to keep them “honest”, and a free society needs to have confidence in the governing party being held to account. Neither of these vital safeguards are in place in Scotland. The SNP has an Anglophobia problem | Coffee HouseWhen Boris Johnson said no to another referendum on Scottish independence, Alex Neil, a former health secretary in the Scottish government, called on Scots to force the PM’s hand by emulating Mahatma Gandhi. Passive resistance, “securing rights by personal suffering” as Gandhi put it, was the way, thought Neil, to shame the British oppressor into acquiescence. The 120 days of ScotlandIn Moscow Lavrentiy Beria head of the NKVD used to cruise around in his limousine looking for cute girls. When he found what he was looking for he would point her out and have her brought to his dacha. There would be wine and food and afterwards he would sleep with her. Why Scottish independence would make NHS crisis even worse – Ian Murray MPHealth Secretary Jeane Freeman (Picture: John Devlin) The word ‘crisis’ doesn’t do justice to the scale of the problems facing NHS Lothian. In the past few days alone, we’ve discovered that another £36 million is expected to be cut from already overstretched health and social care services in the Capital next year, with a direct impact on frontline care. Derek Mackay – The End of the Scottish Government?I thought that last week’s banning of Franklin Graham was a watershed moment for our culture. This is even more so. If you agree with this analysis (or even if you don’t) please feel free to pass this on. How the SNP is using independence to distract voters from mounting problems – Murdo Fraser MSPThe Labour-Liberal coalition and the early SNP governments can point to some achievements, but after 13 years in power the Nationalists are out of ideas, writes Murdo Fraser MSP. It seems like a long time ago now, but there was a day when the Scottish Parliament spent its time discussing matters other than another independence referendum, and what flag should be flown outside the main entrance. Nobody Likes Nicola, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is rejected by Prime Minister Boris Johnson from having an official role at major climate change event in Scotland, 90,000 delegates, 200 world leaders and the world media, the largest summit the UK has ever held but Boris says he doesn’t want to see Sturgeon “anywhere near” the climate summit, for Sturgeon to be humiliated like this is long overdue paybackYou would have to have a heart of stone not to laugh, but in a massive downgrading of political authority, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has point blank refused to give Nicola Sturgeon an official role in the Glasgow COP26 climate summit. Edinburgh council leader’s warning about anti-English extremism should make us pause for thought – Brian FergusonEdinburgh council leader Adam McVey was entitled to speak out about attacks on individuals based on nationality, writes Brian Ferguson. There was something depressingly inevitable about the social media pile-on which engulfed Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey after he ventured into what must have been uncomfortable territory last week. Iain Macwhirter: There won’t be a ‘legal and legitimate’ referendum next year or for many years after that. Get used to itI’m not sure it was wise for Nicola Sturgeon to invoke Nelson Mandela in her speech on the next steps (sic) to independence. He was a revolutionary who pursued a campaign of non-violent direct action, including strikes, boycotts and other acts of civil disobedience. That’s what many ardent Yessers were hoping against hope she might authorise. A prisoner’s right to vote? Let’s put victims firstMAKING ITS WAY through the legislative process at Holyrood is the Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Bill. Amongst other things, it makes provisions for criminals with sentences under one year to vote in prison. In December, Parliament debated this Bill at stage 1 – which means we were to vote on the principles of the Bill. Euan McColm: SNP losing their grip on ‘safe hands’ reputationThe SNP won’t be able to deflect voters’ attention from the health service crisis with a fantasy referendum for much longer, writes Euan McColm Whataboutery is all the rage these days. All the political parties are at it. First Type 26 Frigate HMS Glasgow taking shape on the ClydeHMS GLASGOW, a Type 26 Frigate in build for the Royal Navy on the Clyde, is starting to look shipshape. The Type 26 represents the future backbone of the Royal Navy and eight of the class are planned, starting with HMS Glasgow. Setback and decline in the age of SturgeonWas that it? Nicola Sturgeon assembled the world’s press yesterday to outline her next steps on independence, only to send them away with a two-word story: ‘Not yet’. ‘My job is to lead us down a credible path that can deliver independence,’ she said, ‘and that is what I am absolutely determined to do.’ The hypocrisy of deploring inequality while SNP priorities make it worse – Brian WilsonThe Scottish Government’s focus on policies that help the middle-classes has contributed to the growth of deprivation and inequality, writes Brian Wilson. SNP plan for Scottish visa designed to create a row – John McLellanThere is widespread agreement that Scotland needs immigrants, but the SNP’s new plan for a Scottish visa is more about further dividing the UK, writes John McLellan. All political parties agree Scotland faces an economic time-bomb as the number of working people falls while the population steadily ages, and there is consensus that immigration is part of the answer. ANALYSIS: Nicola Sturgeon wins Holyrood support for a 2020 indyref but debate dismissed as a ‘ridiculous charade’ | Press and JournalMSPs have voted by 64 to 54 for holding a Scottish independence referendum this year in a Scotland’s Future debate – but a 2020 poll remains elusive. Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP won 48 of 59 Scottish seats in the General Election on the basis that she would demand a second independence referendum this year. Nine dismal lowlights that demonstrate the SNP is failing Scotland – Pamela NashYesterday, a film of a rat-infested pile of stinking rubbish in Govanhill was shared on social media by the GMB trade union. This is what street cleaners in the area are faced with as they try to do their job, and it’s the kind of disgusting problem that local residents are forced to deal with. Alex Salmond’s trial will coincide with a reassessment of the SNP’s recordT HE SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY ( SNP) looks in fine fettle. In the general election it secured 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats in the British Parliament, an increase of 13. Surveys regularly show about 40% of voters back it, far more than can be said for its rivals. Euan McColm: Frustration grows as Nicola Sturgeon urges one more heave for independenceEven among those loyal to Nicola Sturgeon there is frustration at her reliance on ‘one more heave, lads’ as difficult times draw nearer, writes Euan McColm Are you furiously angry about being denied your democratic rights? Do you seethe with rage over being trapped in the United Kingdom by a government hell-bent on keeping you down? Nicola Sturgeon won’t be taking any lectures from youIf you missed First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon still isn’t taking any lectures from anyone, SNP MSPs retain an impressive capacity for toadying and everything’s much worse in Wales. Specifically, she would not be taking a lecture from Jackson Carlaw on police funding. The interim Tory leader said police stations had ‘water pouring in through… Brian Monteith: To get back into power, the Scottish Conservatives must be ready to compromiseIt is encouraging to see the two contenders for leadership of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party actually talking about developing policies. It remains to be seen if where they admit being willing to take their party will actually amount to a difference between them. Alistair Grant: Scotland’s endless Indyref2 Groundhog Day is going nowhere fastHAS a big political moment ever felt so tedious? That’s not a rhetorical question; I’m genuinely curious. And all right, forget Brexit for a moment. To no one’s surprise, Boris Johnson this week rejected Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for a second independence vote. Opinion: The SNP wants us to know we’re facing a constitutional crisis. Unfortunately for them, no one caresIt was, according to the House of Commons clock, just after 2.30 in the afternoon when the nation was plunged into a constitutional crisis. It was a crisis so severe that up to three of the roughly 15 people present when the plunging happened even looked up from their phones to mark the occasion. What might a land border between the United Kingdom and a separate Scotland look like?England – Scotland border (from Map of UK) The December 2019 general election result, and the SNP’s response to it, has brought the question of a future border between the UK and a separate Scotland back into focus. Three comments chosen almost at random make the point: from Philip Sim, political reporter on the BBC… I voted for Scottish independence in 2014 but I’d vote ‘no’ in Indyref2Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft. At the time of the last Scottish independence referendum in 2014, I was in my final year of university and very much on the fence. Failing to take No for an answer is an abuse of powerThe Conservative manifesto promised that there would not be a second Scottish independence referendum. The Conservatives won a large majority. That should be the end of the matter. But this being Scotland it isn’t. Independence is the bone Nicola Sturgeon is the dog. Nowhere to run too, nowhere to hide; Prime Minister Boris Johnson totally rejects SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for second independence vote, Sturgeon’s “personal promise” that the referendum in 2014 was a “once in generation” event comes back from the political grave to haunt her, will she reign or will she pushed from her zombie SNP government?Today is an important day; it is the day that Prime Minister Boris Johnson effectively slammed the door shut on indyref 2. And as if by magic, I have found the perfect song on youtube to get into the groove. With indyref 2 now totally dead, the political focus of Scots will be looking at the SNP record’s in government. How to deal with the SNP – just say no! – ReactionIf I were ever asked to suggest a “who would win in a fight between …” question I’d go for Nicola Sturgeon vs. Nancy Reagan (verbals only, of course). And I’m convinced the late, but while she was around – which was a long time – seemingly indefatigable former first lady of the USA would be more than a match for the current First Minister of Scotland. Careful What You Whinge For : Reflections on 20 Years of Manufactured GrievanceA sick society must think much about politics, as a sick man must think much about his digestion; to ignore the subject may be fatal cowardice for one as for the other. But if either comes to regard it as the natural food of the mind-if either forgets that we think of such things only… Why does the SNP keep winning? Just look at the opposition.Back when there were still rules to politics, one of them was this: a government in power for a long time with nothing to show for it is a goner come the next election. By that logic, Nicola Sturgeon should be savouring her remaining time in Bute House before the removal men come to pack… Firms linked to tax havens profit from NHS recruitment crisisFirms profiting from NHS Scotland’s recruitment crisis have links to tax havens and pay their directors up to £184,000, a Ferret analysis has revealed. When NHS boards struggle to find doctors, nurses and other medical staff they use private recruitment agencies. A referendum in 2020? – FAIThe First Minister continues to push for a second independence referendum ‘before the end of 2020’. There are of course a number of political hurdles to cross before this could happen. And these will no doubt dominate debates in the press and social media. Here’s Saint Nic, with a lump of coal for your stockingMSPs gathered on Tuesday for Holyrood’s annual Indyref2 Statement Day. I swear, it comes around earlier every year. Mind you, it’s gotten so commercialised these days that people have forgotten the true meaning: the birth of the SNP’s saviour, Brexit, and its distraction from the Scottish Government’s record. Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t forgotten. Scotfact: Scotland’s North Sea Oil and Gas IndustryThere are a few different ways we can look at Scotland’s share of public revenue raised from Oil and Gas taxation. The Scottish Government publishes Oil and Gas Revenue figures under the Scotland National Accounts Programme (SNAP) . Euan McColm: Nicola Sturgeon divides and rules with myth of the mandateNicola Sturgeon’s indyref rhetoric rises several pitches but the election hasn’t changed the arithmetic, writes Euan McColm An enduring myth about the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence is that it was regarded by all as a great celebration of democracy. The Union in the age of BorisBoris Johnson’s Friday morning victory speech signalled that a new kind of Conservative Party was on the way. The Tories had swept Labour aside in swathes of working-class seats in what had been Britain’s socialist heartlands. He told bleary-eyed Tory activists: ‘In winning this election we have won votes and the trust of people who… The Scottish constitutional crisis is fictitious – ReactionIt is an axiom of journalism that good news does not sell newspapers. It follows, therefore, that a post-election landscape in which Britain appears to have achieved an unusual degree of consensus and there are no obvious obstacles to the government pursuing its objectives means lean pickings for journalists. Anniversary Article – The Smoke over ScotlandEach year on December the 19 th I remember coming out of hospital after a serious illness on that day in 2011. I will never forget it. It was a cold December day – and I vividly remember the glorious feeling of the cool air – and the joy of being home. SNP legal challenge to any refusal of indyref2 would ‘likely fail’A legal challenge by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to the blocking of a second independence referendum would likely fail, according to a legal academic, The Times reports. Ms Sturgeon said this week that she was considering “all options” in response to a question about a potential legal challenge if Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns to power with a majority and rejects her … Attainment gap persists in Scottish schools, new figures showNew figures reveal that children living in the most affluent areas of Scotland are continuing to perform at a higher level than those living in the most deprived communities. Scotland’s Chief Statistician has today published a range of statistics, including those on school pupils’ achievement of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) levels in reading and numeracy. The SNP are unaware of the scale of their defeatPolitics is the continuation of war by other means is to rather mangle Clausewitz but expresses a truth that the SNP and most other Scots missed yesterday. The SNP may have won a tactical victory, but they suffered a strategic defeat. The SNP goal of creating an independent Scotland, depends on their being granted an independence referendum. A fate worse than Quebec: the perils of Scotland’s ‘neverendum’ – CapXSome people simply cannot accept defeat. Or indeed the outcome of a democratic vote. And I’m not just talking about Remainers and Brexit. As Nicola Sturgeon’s disastrous interview with Andrew Neil showed, a second referendum on Scottish independence remains both bafflingly illogical and realistic prospect in the near future: the same Westminster that couldn’t carry … How to vote? The use of tactics in 2019THE ELECTION on 12 December looks as if it will be the first election in which tactical voting will play a significant part. In England and Wales, those who are strong EU Leavers will vote for either the Conservatives or the Brexit Party.