Friday, July 9, 2021

Sinister Euro 2020 selfies from Hampden Park

I've been meaning to post these for quite some time, and I'd probably better do it now, just in case events on Sunday evening mean we never want to think about Euro 2020 ever again (not that we'll be given a choice in the matter, of course).

One of the stories my dad used to dine out on was that he went to the World Cup final at Wembley in 1966 (I believe he wanted England to win, so "like father, like son" doesn't always hold true), and he couldn't sit down for the entire match because he'd just been inoculated against smallpox.  He showed me his programme once or twice when I was growing up - we've probably still got it somewhere, but God knows where.  

So when I heard that Scotland would be co-hosting a major tournament for the first time, I decided Euro 2020 was going to be my nearest equivalent.  It wasn't looking very promising for a long time, though - I had almost given up hope on the tickets I bought about twenty-seven years ago, but somehow I came through the automatic lottery that decided which of the original ticket-holders would still be able to go.  Naturally, then, I wanted to prove for posterity that I was actually there, so I took a truly excessive number of selfies.  I must say I didn't fully appreciate until I looked back on them how downright sinister I would look in poor lighting, wearing a mask, but who knows, this could be a whole new art-form.  (The first one is a screenshot from a video I just happened to be taking as the second Czech goal flew in.)

There's a serious point here, though.  At the very start of the pandemic, I had a ticket for the Scotland v France rugby match at Murrayfield.  I assumed the game would be cancelled, because the Irish authorities had already done the sensible thing and cancelled the Ireland v Italy match, but oh no.  That was when Jason Leitch and Catherine Calderwood were hellbent on herd immunity and actively wanted the population to be infected in an orderly manner.  Mass events like rugby matches and Stereophonics concerts were rather useful for them in that respect.  The SRU sent out emails with fatuous quotes from Calderwood about how there was going to be a "public health drive" at the game - simply meaning that people would be asked to wash their hands.  Eventually I decided I didn't want to be part of such a reckless experiment, so I stayed at home and accepted there would be no refund - and watched on the TV, to my astonishment, a game in front of a virtually full house.  Can you imagine how many people must have been infected that day, with no masks, no social distancing, and the virus raging uncontrolled?  That's perhaps why we should be a bit cynical about any pious comments made by political leaders about the likes of Margaret Ferrier.  The impact of what she did was trivial compared to the untold deaths caused by the unforgiveable irresponsibility of decisions made in February and March 2020 by our leaders, and by advisers like Leitch.

Apologies that these photos aren't all in the correct order, by the way.  See if you can work out which game is which: as David Frost used to say, "the clues are there..."

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Thursday, July 8, 2021

Scotland at a crossroads: will the SNP give up the fight against the virus, or the fight for independence, or both?

So I'd like to recommend a couple of articles to you this morning.  The first is written by someone beyond these shores, about how Britain has just become the first country in the world to surrender to Covid.  It's an absolutely excoriating piece, and reading it may permanently change how you see the situation.  All that's really missing is the ceremony on an aircraft carrier where Boris Johnson hands over the instrument of surrender to the virus.  This isn't even about a horrendous summer, autumn and winter to come - in other words, taking the hit and getting it over with.  The point made is that we're surrendering to an occupying army that will be with us for years or decades to come - Covid will now become endemic in Britain with new seasonal variants every year.  We will all catch the disease again and again and again, and in spite of the relentless propaganda from the BBC's in-house pro-virus correspondent Nick Triggle, that's a choice we're making.  There's nothing inevitable about it - other countries are choosing a radically different path.

And there's also a choice to be made here in Scotland.  SNP spokespeople at Westminster have criticised Boris Johnson's strategy, but as per usual we're not departing from it properly.  There'll be a slight delay in the lifting of restrictions, and mandatory mask-wearing will remain in place for the time being, but the bottom line is we're still ludicrously 'going back to normal' at the exact moment that cases are soaring.  We're engaging in a partial surrender rather than a total one, and that is a matter of national shame.  There is still, however, time to reverse course.

But what if we don't? That brings me on to the second recommended article - Lesley Riddoch's piece in The National stating with admirable clarity that an independence referendum must be held in 2022, otherwise we'll miss the boat for this whole parliament.  The irony is, of course, that if the SNP leadership urgently change direction and act responsibly on Covid, it would become somewhat easier for them to make the case for delaying an indyref beyond 2022.  But as I've said before, they can't have it both ways - if they stick with their current intention to join Johnson in giving up the fight against the virus and telling us "we must learn to live with it", there are no remaining excuses for giving up the fight for this country's independence.  So which is it to be, guys?

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Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Now is the time to partition Plague Island

I was rather alarmed last week that three people independently said to me that Jason Leitch and co appear to have reverted to their March 2020 position of trying to achieve herd immunity through mass infection.  I've long since stopped watching the briefings, so I wasn't entirely sure what this referred to, but unfortunately it's become clearer and clearer over the last 48 hours or so.  Boris Johnson has decided to end the fight against the virus on an arbitrary date that is only a fortnight away.  "If not now, when?" he asks fatuously - the obvious answer to that question being when vaccine coverage is as comprehensive as it can possibly be, which is far from being the case at this stage.  I presume what this is really about is that we're now in summer, and any scientific advice to wait until the autumn must be disregarded because the cretins on GB News and in the Daily Mail will be whingeing about missing out on their month in Santorini.

It also should be a statement of the blindingly obvious that even when it's safe enough to remove the bulk of restrictions, common sense, non-onerous rules like the mandatory wearing of masks on public transport and in shops should remain in place for as long as the virus is in wide circulation.  That actually enhances personal freedom because it allows people to travel and to do normal things in relative safety.  But no, apparently the danger of Neil Oliver's nose developing a slight itch is more important than public health, and Johnson has decreed that masks can go as well.

As per usual, what appears to be happening in Scotland is that we're just going along with whatever the London strategy is, with a slight delay and with a few modifications to give us the illusion of being more careful.  That would explain the change of mood music from Leitch, because sooner or later he'd need a narrative to justify removing restrictions while the virus is ripping through the population.

One thing I would say is that the SNP leadership can't have it both ways on this.  Their stated reason for indefinitely delaying the calling of an independence referendum is that we're in the middle of a public health emergency and their sole focus has to be on that.  But if we're about to fall into line with Johnson's "to hell with it" approach by getting everything back to normal from mid-August onwards, there's no longer any excuse for failing to use the mandate for an indyref as a matter of urgency.

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Monday, July 5, 2021

Ski Monday

Three days ago, I made a call for donations to the Scot Goes Pop fundraiser in the hope of commissioning another opinion poll later in the year - anything donated in the next couple of weeks, up to a total of £5000, will be put towards the next poll.  The response has been great so far, with around £600 raised, so thank you for that.  However, I've paid the penalty in another way - I've been bombarded for 72 hours (and I use the word 'bombarded' advisedly) with unpleasant email messages from a certain individual.

Let me say something in all seriousness.  People who have donated to Scot Goes Pop fundraisers over the years have been vitally important in keeping the blog going (and more recently in making it possible to commission opinion polls, which are very expensive and are usually the preserve of mainstream media outlets).  But I simply cannot be expected to hand over editorial control to anyone who may have donated months or years ago.  I know the vast majority of people are grown-up enough to understand that, and would never dream of thinking they should be able to dictate what I can and can't say here.  But apparently this principle does need to be spelt out for the benefit of a small minority, or at least for one person.

There's no way that 'crowdfunded editorial control' could possibly work anyway.  There will always be moments when a parting of the ways occurs - for example, in March 2020, the independence movement was split between people who were critical of the Scottish Government for putting lives at risk by staying in lockstep with Boris Johnson's catastrophic herd immunity stategy, and people who wanted to remain loyal by saying that anything the Scottish Government had decided must be for the best.  That division will have been reflected among people who had previously donated to the blog - so the only way to avoid offending donors would have been to say nothing or to blandly sit on the fence.  But would that have made anyone happy? Of course it wouldn't.  People didn't donate to pointlessly preserve a blog that says absolutely nothing and that stays neutral on all of the big issues.  Quite the reverse.  What most people want is a strong pro-indy new media that is truly free and forthright.

It's the same story with the split between the SNP and Alba in March of this year.  Most pro-indy voters may have stuck with the SNP, but if the Twitter polls I ran were any guide, readers of the blog were much more evenly split - indeed, probably the slightly greater number switched to Alba.  No matter which way I'd jumped, then, I would have upset a substantial number of readers - but I did need to jump one way or the other.  Sitting on the fence just wouldn't have been credible.

Anyway, I know most people understand that perfectly well, and I thank you once again for your amazing support over the years.  The current fundraiser can be found HERE.