Saturday, July 1, 2023

The incompatibility between NATO membership and signing the treaty banning nuclear weapons is actually a golden opportunity for the SNP to get themselves off the NATO hook

It's not often that one of the unionist usual suspects on Twitter makes me grudgingly say "good point", but that happened a week or two back when it was pointed out that Humza Yousaf was using coded language to shield anti-nuclear Yes supporters from the fact that the SNP government do not intend that an independent Scotland should sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  He apparently said that Scotland would join NATO on the same basis that Finland recently joined - which is indirectly getting at the fact that Finland started opposing the treaty in line with NATO wishes, having previously abstained in the relevant UN votes.  

It was also suggested (and I don't know whether this is true or not) that Alyn Smith attacked the treaty more directly, saying "a piece of paper isnae going to keep us safe".  If so, and just as an aside, could I appeal to all politicians and political activists to stop abusing our wonderfully expressive Scots language by only switching to it when they want to make a particularly stupid point that they know they can't justify through rational argument.  It's like: "How do we bypass the voters' adult intelligence to win us a hearing on this one?  I know, let's switch to Scots, and then they'll all revert to childhood."

My own view is that the existence of the relatively new treaty is a golden opportunity for the SNP to get out of the mess of trying to oppose nuclear weapons and support NATO membership simultaneously, which is practically a contradiction in terms given that NATO largely exists to extend the so-called American nuclear "deterrent" to European countries who join up.  The SNP was traditionally anti-NATO to maintain consistency with the anti-nuclear policy, but got cold feet in the run-up to the 2014 referendum due to polls showing overwhelming support for NATO membership.  But here's the thing - polls also now show substantial support for the nuclear ban treaty.  I asked that question myself in one of the polls I commissioned for Scot Goes Pop - 

Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll, 21st-26th April 2021:

Nuclear weapons were banned by an international treaty that came into force in January this year.  However, the nine countries that are currently believed to possess nuclear weapons, including the UK, have so far refused to sign the treaty. Do you think the UK should join the treaty and dismantle its nuclear weapons?  

Yes: 47%
No: 33%

With Don't Knows removed -

Yes 59%
No 41%

If the public start to understand that there's an either/or choice here, and that they can't have both the things they want (ie. NATO membership and signing the treaty) they might start to be a bit more forgiving towards a political party or government that rejects NATO membership for the specific reason that it wants to join the treaty.  It would be interesting to see a poll in which a straight choice is presented to respondents to see what they regard as more important.  If I ever commission another poll in the future, I might ask that question (assuming no-one does it before me).

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I launched the Scot Goes Pop fundraiser for 2023 a few weeks ago, and the running total has now passed £1800.  The target figure is £8500, however, so there's still quite some distance to travel.  If you'd like to help Scot Goes Pop continue by making a donation, please click HERE.  Many thanks to everyone who has donated so far.

Friday, June 30, 2023

Alex Massie was the architect of a notorious piece of TV fakery during the 2014 indyref - but he's now attempting a much more outrageous deception

I'm slightly bewildered as to why a certain blogger in Somerset is identifying himself so strongly with Alex Massie's view that Team Humza's new independence plan reveals them to be "unserious people", because Massie's critique of the SNP in recent times has been the literally the opposite of Campbell's.  He was almost adulatory of Nicola Sturgeon in the days when she was forever backtracking on strategy and kicking independence into the long grass, but then he took it practically as a personal affront when she shocked him by actually trying - after a fashion, anyway - to implement her manifesto promise on independence, which he had apparently assumed was never meant to be taken seriously.  He also apparently assumed that everyone else 'knew' it was never meant to taken seriously, and would be as outraged about the implementation of the will of the electorate as he was.

The basis for his anger remains precisely the same under Yousaf as it was in the closing days of Sturgeon - he thinks it's utterly preposterous that anyone should think jumped-up little Scotland can just decide to have a vote on independence when we were 'given' one 'only' nine years ago. To the extent that he might graciously consider dropping his objections to a democratic vote, he would only do that if people in Scotland wanted one, which he apparently knows they don't because the views of the millionaire businessmen he has sweaty mud baths with in members-only clubs represent the will of the people much more accurately than the results of elections in which everyone over the age of sixteen is able to vote - even (gasp) the people who didn't go to private schools.

Future generations will fall about in hysterics at the notion that Scotland could have had a referendum if only there had been any sign that the voters wanted one.  It's hard to think of any policy in modern British political history that has obtained such overwhelming popular assent at the ballot box, and so consistently over multiple consecutive elections.  Pro-independence parties went to the people with manifesto commitments to a referendum in the 2016 Holyrood election,  the 2017 Westminster election, the 2019 Westminster election, and the 2021 Holyrood election.  On all four occasions they emerged with clear majorities and thus clear mandates for a referendum.  It's hard to imagine how many more consecutive times the voters would have to say exactly the same thing before Massie takes them seriously and notes the enthusiasm.   Eight times?  Fifteen times?

Of course what he really means is that he thinks opinion polls both do and should have a higher status under the British constitution than election results, but only on this one specific issue and on no other matters whatsoever.  He also thinks that only opinion polls with the 'right' results should have this unique status, and that any polls with 'wrong' results, such as the Redfield & Wilton poll earlier this month showing that a majority want an independence referendum within the next twelve months, should be totally disregarded.  That, I'm afraid, is the prescription for a banana republic, not for a country that regards itself as an advanced democracy.

Oh, and as for the idea that democracy consists of getting one day of choice which you're then stuck with for the rest of your lives, good luck with the verdict of history on that one too, Alex.

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I launched the Scot Goes Pop fundraiser for 2023 a few weeks ago, and the running total has now passed £1900.  The target figure is £8500, however, so there's still quite some distance to travel.  If you'd like to help Scot Goes Pop continue by making a donation, please click HERE.  Many thanks to everyone who has donated so far.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Yousaf has at least half-listened to SNP members about using the election to win independence - but for the plan to work *without* him being replaced by a more popular leader, he'll have to dispense with the destructive factionalism and bring his rivals back into government

For the three months since the nightmare scenario unfolded in late March, I've been consistently saying that the SNP needed to do *at least* one of two things to have any realistic chance of avoiding a dreadful result at the general election next year - they needed to either replace Humza Yousaf as leader, or to U-turn on the decision to ditch Nicola Sturgeon's de facto referendum plan.  They've now sort of half-done the latter - the details of the plan are a dog's breakfast, but nevertheless, if Yousaf sticks to his word (admittedly a very big if) and puts the phrase "a vote for the SNP is a vote for Scotland to become an independent country" in the opening line of the manifesto, and if that proposition receives majority support at the election, it would represent a mandate for independence in exactly the same way as would have been the case if the Sturgeon plan had been successfully implemented.  So in my view it counts as "good enough", although as I said the other day, all the ambiguities and grey areas are unhelpful because they may prevent Yes supporters from taking the notion that this is a vote on independence seriously.

But the million dollar question is this: having taken one of the two steps that had a chance of turning things around, is this enough for the SNP without taking the other step too?  In other words, will the good sense of becoming a born again independence party be sufficient on its own to counterbalance Yousaf's personal unpopularity and thus avert general election defeat?  I still have my doubts.  In the comments section of this blog, "YesIndyref2" suggested it would now be a mistake to continue pressing for Yousaf's departure because that might lead to his independence plan being watered down or abandoned.  That's absolutely a very real danger, and so in normal circumstances I would agree with the logic, but in this particular case the Yousaf leadership problem is so severe that it trumps all other considerations. The net personal ratings in polls consistently show that he is less popular than Anas Sarwar, and often show that he is less popular even than Keir Starmer, which is a major handicap when there is already considerable momentum behind Labour.  Having a theoretically workable independence plan is of limited value if you are 80-90% sure that the SNP are heading for defeat on the current trajectory.

There is, however, a middle option between the status quo and ditching Yousaf altogether that could at least be tried first to see if it solves the problem, and frankly it's an option that should have been a no-brainer even on 29th March.  Yousaf should swallow his pride and put an end to the folly of trying to run a government comprised of second-raters almost solely drawn from his own faction of the party.  That would mean inviting Kate Forbes and Ash Regan into the Cabinet, along with probably one or two of Forbes' key supporters, and yes, it would also mean offering them senior positions with considerable influence, because it's already been established that they will not just accept any old tat.  For a unity Cabinet to work, it would have to be an informal coalition between distinct wings of the SNP, with the balance of power accurately reflecting the strength of those wings in the leadership vote - ie. Forbes and her allies would need to wield power in proportion to the 48% of the vote she received.  Yousaf's derisory offer to her in March treated her as if she had received 10% of the vote, and thus it was hardly surprising that she declined.

A unity Cabinet would have any number of positive effects.  It would transform morale among the substantial minority of the SNP membership who feel with absolute justification that the leadership election was stolen from them by underhand means.  It would reduce the public perception that the SNP is a divided party, which is absolutely crucial, because one of the oldest and truest electoral maxims is that parties seen as divided rarely win elections.  It would for the first time at least challenge the public perception that the SNP leadership is continuity Sturgeon in all but name, which is important given the polling evidence that Sturgeon is now a somewhat discredited figure.  And it would ensure that Kate Forbes' popularity with the public starts working in favour of Yousaf and the SNP.  Now, there's a limit to the latter benefit - politics is so presidential these days that you can't get the full advantage of having Kate Forbes as leader without actually having Kate Forbes as leader.  But if the SNP presented themselves as having a much more collective leadership than in the past, and if Forbes was clearly established as the second most important person in that collective leadership, she could at least help to offset some of Yousaf's unpopularity.

Yousaf and his seemingly rather naive advisers lacked the nous back in March to recognise that their plan for faction-only rule weakened rather than strengthened their pet project (ie. the ill-defined "progressive agenda" and the identity politics stuff).  It weakened the SNP as an electoral force, and anything that has that effect is bound to result in a change of leadership sooner rather than later.  They seemed to imagine that demoting or sacking Kate Forbes would be like flicking a switch that automatically transformed her into a diminished and marginalised figure, but in truth her political importance is derived not from any job title but from the fact that she came within a whisker of winning the leadership on an explicit platform for change.  What her de facto sacking has actually transformed her into is a Queen Over The Water figure who is totally unsullied by the unpopularity of any decisions made by the current administration, and who is thus perfectly placed to pick up the pieces when and if Yousaf crashes and burns.  It's in Yousaf's own overwhelming interests to change the dynamic his own handiwork has created.

Lastly, just a thought for anyone who is still in despair about independence because they think the SNP are bound to fall below 40% of the vote at the general election, no matter how central independence is to the campaign, and no matter what (if anything) is done to address the Yousaf problem.  Remember this: all that really needs to happen is for the SNP leadership to be convinced that seeking an outright mandate for independence helped to save at least some seats that would otherwise have been lost.  If it's established that the strategy was clearly a vote-winner rather than having a neutral effect or being a vote-loser, it becomes much more likely that the SNP will use it again at the 2026 Holyrood election, where it's far more plausible that 50% + of the vote can be achieved, especially bearing in mind the ongoing strength of the Green party on the list ballot. By then, it's entirely possible that a Labour government at Westminster will have entered into a period of mid-term unpopularity, and in any case Holyrood elections are 'home fixtures' for Yes parties and there'll be fewer distractions from the independence message.  So there's actually a strong incentive for the independence movement to ensure that the Yousaf plan 'works' next year, at least within the confines that it's realistically possible for it to work, which is probably more about winning a majority of seats than it is about winning a majority of votes.

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I launched the Scot Goes Pop fundraiser for 2023 a few weeks ago, and the running total has now passed £1800.  The target figure is £8500, however, so there's still quite some distance to travel.  If you'd like to help Scot Goes Pop continue by making a donation, please click HERE.  Many thanks to everyone who has donated so far.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

So where do we go from here?

As regular readers will recall, I was in absolute despair when Humza Yousaf was narrowly elected SNP leader in controversial circumstances three months ago, largely because it brought to an end the SNP's eight-decade-long history as a party seeking to win independence.  Yousaf's announcement about independence strategy at the weekend does to some extent reverse that process, and there's not much doubt that it's a genuine U-turn.  The briefings to the press suggest that the parliamentarians who backed Humza for leader precisely to get rid of Nicola Sturgeon's de facto referendum plan, because they believed independence to be a drag on SNP support, have rapidly changed their minds because the polls in recent weeks have made them realise the complete reverse is true.

So the underlying reasoning is more cynical than we'd like, and it appears that the SNP leadership seem relaxed in the belief that they won't have to negotiate independence irrespective of the general election outcome.  Does that bother me?  Not as much as you might think, because I've always made the point that the value of a plebiscite election, or anything equivalent to one, does not hinge on whether it will automatically result in independence.  People who ask the supposedly 'killer' question "and what do you do when Westminster ignores the result?" are only demonstrating that they are missing the whole point.  No matter what strategy we adopt, we have no control whatever over how Westminster react to it.  Our job is to get on with what is actually within our province.  An outright mandate for independence is an absolute prerequisite if independence is ever going to happen.  It is wholly within our power to bring such a mandate about, because it can be done via scheduled elections, but we have conspicuously failed to do so thus far.  Putting that right has to be the priority, and if we manage it, the independence movement will progress into an entirely new sphere.  For the first time in our lives, the Scottish people will have decided to become independent, and from then on the task will be to apply pressure on the UK government from every quarter to give effect to that decision.  There'll be no guarantee of success, but that's the nature of the beast.

If Yousaf is true to his word and puts "a vote for the SNP is a vote for independence" as the opening words of the manifesto, it gives voters an opportunity to vote directly for independence in a way that we didn't think was going to be possible.  It doesn't matter what the SNP's motivations are for allowing this, what matters is that the opportunity is there.  So it seems to me that we as rank and file independence supporters now have three priorities we need to concentrate on -

1) Keep Yousaf to his word.  We've seen countless promises on independence strategy broken by the SNP leadership since 2017, so the fact that Yousaf says he'll do something does not necessarily mean it will happen.  The slightest sign of backtracking or watering down must be called out loudly.

2) Continue the pressure on Yousaf to step down if he fails to turn around the SNP's slump in the opinion polls, or to win the Rutherglen by-election.  This one almost seems like a contradiction, because a change of leader could open up the question of the independence plan yet again and we could end up with something worse.  But that's a risk worth taking, because the single most effective step towards garnering the needed votes for pro-independence parties would be for the SNP to install a more voter-friendly leader.

3) Take the fight to Labour.  I have no time whatever for the notion that the purpose of the general election is to "target" particularly useless SNP MPs and divert enough of their votes away to smaller pro-indy parties to ensure that they lose their seats to Labour or the Tories.  No matter whether the SNP keep Humza in place as leader (and as I've already said, they would be foolish to), seeing off the Labour threat will still have to be the absolute priority for the whole independence movement.  My suspicion is that many voters are turning to Labour because of nothing more than a residual cultural pull.  Most of us grew up surrounded by people who would say in sheep-like fashion "ah'm a Labour man because ma faither was a Labour man and his faither before him", and those kind of unthinking impulses don't, sadly, just vanish within a single decade.  There's still this vague sense that Labour are "the good guys" from people who probably don't have a clue that Labour under Starmer are a right-of-centre party which passionately supports Brexit and opposes public ownership, and which would essentially represent a continuation of Tory rule under different personnel.  We need to find innovative ways of confronting Labour-curious voters with some hard truths.

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I launched the Scot Goes Pop fundraiser for 2023 a few weeks ago, and the running total has now passed £1800.  The target figure is £8500, however, so there's still quite some distance to travel.  If you'd like to help Scot Goes Pop continue by making a donation, please click HERE.  Many thanks to everyone who has donated so far.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Until such time as there is a democratic mechanism by which Scotland can freely choose to leave the UK, we are to all intents and purposes a colony - and if the description makes unionists in England deeply uncomfortable, that's exactly as it should be

I'm a bit tired today, because I was up to 3am last night as a result of the director of a Labour think tank (or technically the Labour director of a 'non-partisan' think tank, which is probably a distinction without a difference) having a five-hour long temper tantrum at me.  This is the sort of wacky incident that makes my life so thrilling, you guys really don't know what you're missing out on.  Sunder Katwala's claimed justification for the intensity of his anger (he literally said that one of my replies was "the most offensive" thing he had ever been sent) was that he believes it is "racist" to suggest that Scotland is subjected to London imperialism, because that somehow trivialises the experience of "real" colonies of the past.  

However, given his anger was self-evidently disproportionate to the mild-mannered nature of my tweets, it seemed pretty clear that the convoluted claims of racism were a distraction technique and that he was actually deeply uncomfortable with the points I was confronting him with.  Like many Labour people in England (and indeed in Scotland), Sunder imagines himself to be an anti-imperialist and a supporter of liberation movements all over the world, and yet will not apply the same principle to Scotland.  And we all know why - it's got nothing to do with conviction or with logic, and everything to do with Labour self-interest and the imposition of internal discipline within the party in furtherance of that self-interest.  So people have to tie themselves up in knots trying to explain why Scotland is, for example, fundamentally different from Ireland - even though Ireland was (and part of it still is) an integral part of the United Kingdom, and thus technically exempt from some people's definition of the word "colony" in exactly the same way Scotland is.  Push them far enough and they'll get to the risible point of arguing that the difference is that Scotland shares the same island with England, and Ireland does not.  Yeah, as if there is no other example anywhere in the world of one country sharing a landmass with another.  

Essentially Sunder was trying to "pull rank" on me by praying in aid his mixed race background, and saying that he therefore gets to set the parameters within which Scottish pro-independence discourse may exist.  If we step outside those parameters, ie. by suggesting that Scotland's current relationship with London is colonial or quasi-colonial in nature, we are being "racist".  I must say it's rather convenient for an English Labour supporter who actively propagandised for a No vote in 2014 to believe he should be universally recognised as the legitimate setter of ground rules for Scotland's national debate. When I challenged him to identify what was remotely racist about any of the dozens of replies I had sent to him last night, the best he could come up with was the word "visceral" and the phrase "close to the bone" (ie. I had said that his reaction to being confronted with his cognitive dissonance about Scotland was "visceral" because the points being made were "close to the bone").  I then challenged him to explain exactly *what* was racist about those words, and he was curiously evasive for half an hour - before finally blurting out that in his view they were synonymous with the word "coconut".  That's just about the most fantastical, desperate line of argument I've ever encountered.  His final tactic was to argue that it didn't matter if I was using the words according to their plain dictionary definitions - what mattered is that he had "received them" in a completely different way and I should therefore apologise to him for what his own mind had generated!

Unfortunately for Sunder, the visceral reaction I noted in him has nothing to do with his ethnic background, and everything to do with his party affiliation and the British Nationalist dogma that is part and parcel of that affiliation.  I've encountered exactly such a reaction in the past from many white Brit Nats, most notably when I used to post on the Political Betting website (aka Stormfront Lite) and pointed out that the United Kingdom is essentially "Greater England".  The heat of the fury generated was quite something to behold.  They felt their country was being compared to Nazi Germany, because Hitler's conquests were known as "Greater Germany".  But was the characterisation accurate?  After all, Wales was conquered by the Kingdom of England and then annexed.  Ireland was conquered by the Kingdom of England, which then imposed a puppet regime which eventually voted through a de facto annexation against the wishes of the population.  Scotland is the odd one out because our own homegrown independent parliament did vote through the Treaty of Union, but it wasn't exactly the freest of choices given that there were military threats and heavy personal bribery involved.  As in Ireland, the general population was opposed - dare I say 'viscerally' opposed - to the London takeover, and certainly by the time you get to the consequences of the Jacobite defeat at Culloden, with the suppression of the Gaelic language and culture, and the genocidal characteristics of the Highland Clearances, it's murderously difficult to argue that the treatment of Scotland did not resemble in at least some respects that of other colonial possessions of London.

And now in the modern day, we have the UK Supreme Court and the UK Government declaring that Scotland has no right to determine its own future.  On that point, Sunder was last night totally behind the London line - he would only support independence once Scotland had voted for it, but Scotland would not be allowed to vote for it and therefore he would never have to support it.  The justification for denying a democratic vote was his own personal opinion that Scotland does not want a vote.  When I pointed out that the last two Westminster general elections and the last two Holyrood elections had all produced pro-referendum majorities, he started muttering stuff about opinion polls, which apparently he believes have a higher status under the British constitution than actual election results produced by real sentient human voters resident in Scotland.  When I then pointed out that a Redfield & Wilton poll only this month showed a majority of the Scottish public want an independence referendum within the next year, he fell silent, although it does appear that opinion polls with the 'wrong' results also have considerably lower status under the British constitution than opinion polls with the 'right' results.  Bloody flexible constitution we've got, I must say.

Don't want to be accused of imperialism and/or colonialism?  It's really simple, guys: find for us the democratic mechanism by which Scotland can choose to leave the UK without external permission, and then by all means we can have a chat about your fragile feelings.

PS.  The funniest part of the whole exchange was when Sunder mused that a "member of my own tribe" would probably be having a quiet word with me to 'explain' why the director of a Labour think tank does actually get to decide the parameters of our discourse and that if we stray beyond those parameters we are being "racist".  I don't think he was aware that my "tribe" is now Alba, and that half the members of Alba joined specifically to get away from the insufferable SNP thought police represented by the Fiona Robertsons of this world.

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I launched the Scot Goes Pop fundraiser for 2023 a few weeks ago, and the running total has now passed £1800.  The target figure is £8500, however, so there's still quite some distance to travel.  If you'd like to help Scot Goes Pop continue by making a donation, please click HERE.  Many thanks to everyone who has donated so far.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

In spite of Team Humza's optimistic attempts to use the heckler incident to turn their man into Gandhi, the polling evidence continues to suggest he's leading the SNP to big losses at the general election

The team around Humza Yousaf obviously felt they'd pulled off a masterstroke yesterday by quietly changing the definition of victory for whatever-they-think-they're-seeking-a-mandate-for-at-the-general-election ("we've narrowed it down to two!").  Now they'll claim to have won if they come out of the election with most seats, with no requirement for an absolute majority of the popular vote.  The radical end of the independence movement is furious with the SNP for re-embracing independence as primarily a way of saving seats at Westminster, but to the extent that's what's going on, it doesn't actually bug me.  As I've said many times, although independence will probably only happen after Yousaf is replaced as leader, there needs to be something left for his successor to inherit.  The situation may not be recoverable if, hypothetically, Kate Forbes were to take over after the general election with the SNP having just been reduced to six, or to two, Westminster seats.  So the self-interest of the careerists at Westminster and the interests of the independence cause do actually overlap to some degree, at least in this particular scenario.

However, what does not overlap is the self-interest of those MPs and Yousaf's own self-interest as leader, because the evidence continues to grow that his personal unpopularity is leading us all onto the rocks.  The latest straw in the wind is the Scottish subsample from the newest GB-wide YouGov poll, which shows the SNP slipping into second place: Labour 37%, SNP 32%, Conservatives 11%, Greens 10%, Liberal Democrats 5%, Reform UK 1%. YouGov's subsamples are of more interest than those from other firms because they seem to be correctly structured and weighted, meaning the only problem is the small sample size - which admittedly is still more than enough to produce highly misleading individual results.  So we'll have to wait to see whether this new result is a red herring or not, but it coincides with an Opinium poll showing the SNP slipping to an unusually low 2% of the GB-wide vote.

It's all very well shifting the goalposts to make "victory" easier, but if you then end up falling short of your new much lower target for a win, you're going to have egg all over your face.  Once again, I can only urge SNP parliamentarians and members to face up to the problem of the Yousaf leadership before it's too late.  If it's a straight choice between a little pain now in the shape of a second leadership election, and a lot of pain later in the shape of a crushing general election defeat, the decision ought to be a no-brainer.  Unfortunately, though, Team Humza are using the incident with the heckler yesterday (which won't have impressed the public in the slightest) to try to shore up their guy's position within the party by weaving a mythology that he is some sort of Gandhi figure.  I thought the way he handled the situation was interesting, and it certainly contrasted sharply with the approach to hecklers taken by Tony Blair - who tended to whip up Labour conferences into a state of righteous outrage by booming "go on, sir, make your protest, but just thank GOD you live in a free country where protest is allowed!", drowning out the hecklers' words as they were speedily manhandled out of the hall by bulky security-men, thus demonstrating powerfully that this is a country in which they do not in fact have a right to protest.  But perhaps the distinction between Yousaf and Blair is one without a difference, given that a BBC journalist later noted that Yousaf "helped" the heckler out of the hall - an interesting use of the word "helped" unless she actually wanted to leave.  The full-on invasion of her personal space didn't seem entirely solicited either.

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I launched the Scot Goes Pop fundraiser for 2023 a few weeks ago, and the running total has now passed £1800.  The target figure is £8500, however, so there's still quite some distance to travel.  If you'd like to help Scot Goes Pop continue by making a donation, please click HERE.  Many thanks to everyone who has donated so far.