SCOTLAND increasingly resembles a failed one-party state, a tinpot dictatorship, a fruit-free banana republic where democracy is quietly expiring.
Does anyone hold the SNP to account in Scotland? Or can the party — despite its spectacularly rotten record on education, health and drug deaths — now get away with anything?Former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond with his successor, Nicola Sturgeon, are at warCredit: PA
On Friday, Scotland’s former First Minister Alex Salmond stood before a committee of MSPs and, his words restricted by legal constraints, seethed: “Scotland’s leadership has failed.”
Next Wednesday his successor Nicola Sturgeon will give her own version of their civil war and is expected to say that Salmond is living in a paranoid fantasy land.
They can’t both be right.
The story so far: After Salmond handed over leadership of the SNP to Sturgeon in 2014, their formerly friendly relationship soured.
In 2018, the Scottish Government launched an internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by Salmond during his time as First Minister, an investigation that a judge later ruled “unlawful”, “procedurally unfair and “tainted with apparent bias”.
Salmond received over £500,000 in legal costs.
But just two weeks later he was arrested and faced a criminal trial with 12 charges of sexual assault, indecent assault and attempted rape.
A jury of eight women and five men found Salmond not guilty of all the charges against him. Another was found not proven.
Now Salmond accuses Sturgeon of being part of a concerted effort to destroy his reputation, “even to the extent of having me imprisoned”.
Even more explosively he also accuses Sturgeon of lying to the Scottish Parliament about exactly when she knew of the investigation into the allegations against him.
Bound by centuries of history and blood
And lying to Parliament would surely be a resigning issue for the SNP’s tight-lipped supremo, as it would be in any democracy.
The bitter brawl at the top of Scottish politics goes beyond Salmond’s accusation that Sturgeon lied about when she first knew of the charges of sex offences against him or if there is indeed a conspiracy to destroy him.
The true issue is that Scottish democracy is becoming an international laughing stock.Alex Salmond is sworn in before giving evidence to MSPs examining the government's handling of harassment allegations against himCredit: AFP and licensors
South of the border, many will ask: Why should we care?
We should care because — despite the constant anti-English bile that spews from the SNP — the Scots are our friends, our neighbours and our family.
We should care because the people of these islands are bound by centuries of history and blood.
We should care because, no matter how much Nicola Sturgeon may hate the fact, no matter how many EU flags she flies where the Union Jack should be, Scotland is still part of the United Kingdom.
The accusation of Sturgeon lying was in Salmond’s written testimony into the current inquiry into these squalid shenanigans. But it was censored by the Crown Office, the Scottish equivalent of the CPS.
The Crown insisted that Salmond’s accusation was cut to protect the identity of the women who had accused him of sexual offences.
But many believe Salmond’s words were censored by an inquiry with an SNP convenor and an SNP majority to protect the SNP leader.
It’s all shockingly incestuous and is costing UK taxpayers for every minute it rumbles on.
The Crown Office is run by the Lord Advocate, James Wolffe, who is also a member of Sturgeon’s cabinet.
Law Professor Alistair Bonnington accuses the Crown Office of becoming “a lickspittle arm of the current SNP government”.Nicola Sturgeon will give evidence next week and is expected to say that Salmond is living in a paranoid fantasy land
“The stench of a cover-up is overwhelming,” says Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader. “The SNP government and the Crown Office are shutting down scrutiny.”
Meanwhile, Sturgeon accuses Salmond of being “a dang-erous conspiracy theorist” living in an “alternative reality” and suggests “at the root of this might be issues in his own behaviour”.
This seems like a truly extraordinary thing to say about a man who has been found not guilty by a jury of all the charges that were brought against him.
And in the bitter battle between Sturgeon and Salmond, the fate of our nation hangs in the balance. Or perhaps not.
Perhaps the long march to Scottish independence is far too advanced to stop now.
It is possible that Scotland will one day vote to leave the UK.
Despite the current steamy scandal, perhaps the combination of an Old Etonian Tory Prime Minister and a comatose Labour Party make preventing Scottish independence a mission impossible.
If that sad day happens and a union that has endured for over 300 years comes to an end, then we should wish for our Scottish friends, neighbours and family a happy, healthy land where democracy, tolerance and truth abounds. And not the grubby cess pit that it has become under Sturgeon and her deranged, English-hating Nats.
Inside or outside the UK, Scotland deserves better.
Yes, time waits for Naomi
CHRISTIE Brinkley’s photographs from 1974 (aged 20) and 2021 (aged 67) are remarkable. Not because they look so alike but because the Uptown Girl looks better NOW.
Nobody has placed the brakes on passing time quite like Christie . . . apart from our own Naomi Campbell.Naomi Campbell on the cover of i-D magazine photographed at her sanctuary in Kenya over Christmas by Luis Alberto RodriguezCredit: I-D Magazine Christie Brinkley looks better modelling now at 67 than when she was 20
Naomi is on the cover of the spring issue of i-D magazine photographed in Kenya. At 50, she looks totally untouched by passing time. The i-D cover says Spring 2021. But it could be from any time over the last 30 years.
EU jab envy a waste
I HAD the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab last weekend and can report some profound side-effects.
Euphoria. Relief. Optimism.The Queen during a video call with NHS officials where she urged Brits to think of others and have the jab
And the strongest side-effect of all – the happy feeling I have made myself safer and made everyone else safer too.
The Queen summed it up perfectly in a conference call with NHS chiefs who are master-minding the vaccination roll-out.
“Once you’ve had the vaccine, you have the feeling of, you know, you’re protected, which I think is very important.”
If only the likes of Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel had our Queen’s wisdom.
Humiliated by the success of the UK’s vaccination roll-out, EU leaders have slandered the British jab as ineffective.
It’s not true.
But Germany alone is currently sitting on 1.2million vaccines that nobody wants. In a world where 2.5million have died of coronavirus, that is an obscenity.
IT is insane that schools reopen on March 8 but teachers are not able to jump the vaccine queue.
Frontline workers – firefighters, police and teachers – should be at the very front of every queue.
No classroom will be Covid-secure until every teacher has been vaccinated.
Dilyn’s heat of power
AS reports emerge of Dilyn the Downing Street dog peeing on ministerial handbags and mounting a foot stool, eight million dog owners will all be thinking: “So Dilyn hasn’t been ‘done’, then?”
Because if Dilyn had been neutered, he wouldn’t be romping with the furniture on a dirty weekend at Chequers.Dilyn the Downing Street dog adopted by the PM and his fianceeCredit: dilynthedog
A source in Downing Street insists: “If it hadn’t been for Covid, Dilyn would have been to the vet’s by now and been neutered. He is basically on heat the whole time.”
But vets’ have not been closed during lockdown.
It is far more likely his owners had reservations about getting him neutered – that soft-sounding euphemism for castration. Neutering, or not, is a difficult call for any owner. Dogs have a more peaceful life if they are “done”. But it is still incredibly hard to send your dog to be castrated.
If you choose not to neuter, you should expect your dog to act like a sailor on shore leave every time he goes for walkies.
As Dilyn was born in 2018, it is far too late to have him neutered now. Because his behaviour would not change.
Better cover the legs on those tables at Chequers, Boris.
Give it a rest, Harry
ONE question will remain unasked when Oprah Winfrey interviews Meghan and Prince Harry. What is the point?
Truly, what do the runaway royals have to gain from confessing to Oprah? How can they possibly profit by yet more self-righteous yak-yak-yak?
“Why do this?” asked an exasperated royal source. “Why not just bank the lovely baby news and gracefully leave it there? We don’t need to hear any more.”
And here comes Harry with James Corden, telling him, “We never walked away” from the Royal Family, and the “toxic” press drove them to LA.
How many more times must we hear this defensive guff? The cruel truth is the British press, like the British people, were crazy about Harry and Meghan. But it wasn’t enough for them.
PHOTOGRAPHER Max Waugh captured three squirrels enthusiastically ignoring social-distancing, on a fallen tree branch in South Africa.
Max estimated that two of the squirrels were male and one female, although he was not sure.These three squirrels ignore social distancing rules, on a fallen tree branch in South AfricaCredit: Splitpics UK
Those broad-minded squirrels don’t look too bothered about who may contain nuts.
Third female PM in waiting
FORMER Home Secretary Amber Rudd says that the Tory party is no longer a place for pro-Europeans.
But Liz Truss campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU – just like Rudd. Now Truss is our successful Secretary of State for International Trade and looks like the Tories’ third female Prime Minister in waiting. What there is no place for in the party is for politicians who struggle to accept the referendum result.
Woke, witless way
Toys R wuss
Toymaker Hasbro is re-branding the spud superstar as simply Potato Head.Mr Potato Head as we knew him - the toy will now go gender-neutral
Mrs Potato Head is going the same woke, witless way. But Mr and Mrs Potato Head have been cherished toys for 68 years.
Thanks to Toy Story, they have even been film stars.
Now they look like a Village People tribute band.
Alex Salmond describes 'nightmare' experience to Scottish Parliament's Harassment Committee as he slams Sturgeon
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