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Scotland’s woke First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has resigned after 8 years.
I always marvelled at the secret sauce of her popularity.
I seemed to be missing a trick:
An unattractive, charmless woman, robotic in her speech, devoid of humour or charisma seemed to strangely resonate with a large part of the Scottish electorate.
The Lockdown Queen
Even as Sturgeon decreed the toughest lockdown on the British Isles (always trying to outcompete the central government in London), in a weirdly masochistic way the majority of Scots seemed to cheer her on – “harder, Nicola, harder”.
She genuinely thrived during those authoritarian lockdown days, self-importantly basking in the warm glow of previously unfathomable power and attention bestowed upon her.
Almost daily she stepped in front of the cameras and confidently rattled down entirely meaningless Covid-infection / “R” numbers.
Still, witnessing this spectacle on a TV in a hotel lobby in Glasgow to my dismay I overheard some Scottish women saying – “Nicola is brilliant”.
Was it maybe slam-dunk, government outperformance that won over the Scottish voters?
SNP abysmal record
Certainly on the budget front SNPs and later Nicola Sturgeon’s fiscal discipline left much to be desired. Since SNP came into power under Alex Salmond (Sturgeon’s predecessor) in 2011, there has not been a single year of a balanced budget. In 2019/20 – even before the Covid lockdown (when Sturgeon was already in power for 5 years) they managed to run up an annual deficit of 15 billion GBP in 2019 - no mean feat for a small country of 5 million inhabitants. Denmark, a country of comparable size / population had a budget surplus that year.
Worse yet is SNP’s / Sturgeon’s educational record.
Scotland, long famed for its great school system, performed abysmal in reading, math and science in the 2015 “PISA” study. SNP had, wisely, withdrawn from the “PISA” and “Timss” educational study already in 2010 when SNP introduced its “curriculum of excellence”.
In spite of all its left-wing rhetoric – the attainment gap between rich and poor students even widened under SNP, as even the SNP mouthpiece, The Herald had to acknowledge.
Public health and drug deaths – Sturgeon was health secretary from 2007 – 2012 – the record is nothing to brag about: Scotland continues to have the highest rate of drug deaths in Europe, 3 times that of the rest of the UK and overall its health outcomes are not bonny.
Thus, it is clearly not performance that kept Sturgeon / SNP popular.
What else could it be?
There would be the tried and tested method of European separatist movements – if something good happens (e.g. dropping unemployment after the financial crisis of 2008) credit yourself, if something bad (continues to) happen(s) – blame the central government, in this case London.
Closely tied on that is a myth that had existed before SNP – further fostered by the movie Braveheart and later by the entirely unwatchable TV series Outlander: The myth of Scotland’s simple victim narrative – good Scots here, cartoonishly evil English there.
No word on the role of the Scottish “Lairds” in the Highland Clearances (a sad and complex part of history where there is plenty of blame to go around). When it comes to the British Empire – as the historian Tom Devine has documented – a not insignificant number of Scots were rather enthusiast supporters of it.
Nonetheless that narrative kept SNP in business - a one-trick-pony that kept shouting “independence”. In September 2014 they got their chance – David Cameron (faux conservative Prime Minister at the time) in a grandiose gesture played a game of chicken and offered a referendum. Whilst he got quite nervous in the end, the outcome of the referendum was quite clear: 55.3% No (“Naw”) and 44.70% (“Aye”).
Faux nationalists who want to be governed by Brussels
If you thought that would end SNP’s business case – (especially as Alex Salmond had spoken of a “once in a generation” opportunity) you were mistaken. Its then leader Alex Salmond stepped down and Nicola Sturgeon stepped up as Scottish First Minister. Fortunately for her one-trick-pony “independence” business model – once again David Cameron came to the rescue.
He played yet another game of chicken – this time (2016) a national referendum on remaining part of the European Union.
The UK voted 52% to 48% to leave the European Union.
SNP was back in business. Sturgeon and the whole SNP wanted another referendum – she robotically droned on about how the EU referendum changed everything. Like a broken record she kept whining how Scotland had been dragged out of the EU against its will.
This “completely changed situation merits another referendum” was her main shtick for the next 7 years.
During the referendum campaign SNP had crafted its independence case along the rough narrative of “Why should we be governed by far away London, when some parts of Scotland [The Shetland Islands] are closer to Norway than to London? How can we 5 million Scots ever be heard against the voice of 55 million English?”
Suddenly, when it came to the European Union, SNP seemed to be very happy to be governed by much further away Brussels and confident to have its voice heard against 447 million people in Europe. This is precisely why SNP are fake nationalists (that and their very open border pro-immigration rhetoric).
Fixing woke non-issues, because fixing actual issues is hard
Because you can only say “Referendum” and “European Union” 100 times a day – SNP and Sturgeon occasionally needed other topics to talk about.
Addressing actual problems like, say, the deficit or the drug deaths, would have required hard work and competence.
Thus, Sturgeon and SNP did what has become the go-to place of extreme-left, woke governments (Yes, “people-kind”-Justine Trudeau, talking to you) – they started “fixing” imaginary problems. Very soon posters popped up all over the place, lecturing their loyal Scottish subjects on what to think and insulting others as bigots (please see the pictures from my article last year).
Then they declared war on “period poverty” – yes, I kid you not.
They also started an undeclared Blitzkrieg on free speech – but that’s a topic for another day.
Whilst a plethora of issues remain to be tackled vis-à-vis health and poverty in Scotland, the Scottish government, in its largess with other people’s money, started a foreign aid scheme to sub-Saharan countries (something that is not even within its remit, as this resides in Westminster).
SNP discovers tans – the trans rapist hill Sturgeon chose to politically die on
Finally, the Scottish government discovered the trans topic.
It tried to ram through the “Scottish Gender Recognition Law” – which offered even minors a fast-track to gender reassignment. This was vetoed even by the faux conservative government in Westminster.
We have reached the final chapter of the drama – Isla Bryson, formerly known as Adam Graham. Adam Graham, a scary-looking 31-year-old with a face-tattoo, was sentenced for raping two women. He suddenly discovered that he self-identified as a woman, donned a blond wig – and off to a female prison he went.
A car crash of an interview ensued on national television for Nicola Sturgeon (an interesting take on the interview with longer clips can be found here).
It is fascinating what happens when journalists actually do their jobs.
It might actually change the outcome of policies and, who knows, elections?
In the meantime for us peasant recipients of the refined wisdom of our political “elites” the conclusion is as optimistic as it is scary:
Reality always wins over our political classes’ wishful thinking.
Sometimes it might take a real disaster (I shudder to imagine what the outcome of the “green” war on farming and energy will be), sometimes, as in this case, this can be narrowly averted.
In the end the accomplished power-clinger Nicola Sturgeon collided with reality and lost. Even mainstream distraction topics such as (99) Chinese balloons or “news” from the Ukrainian front (or gnarly German senior citizens trying a “Putsch” against the German government with cross-bows and walkers) could not save her.
Still, what a strange hill to (politically) die on for seasoned politician.
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Worst arrival. Talks about everything else but actual issue/reason.
Huh?! Explain yourself.