Aletho News


Scotland to scan vehicle license plates to enforce “low emission” zones

By Ken Macon | Reclaim The Net | July 13, 2022

In the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and Aberdeen, in Scotland, Low Emission Zones (LEZs) have been launched – however enforcement will not begin until June 1, 2024 for Aberdeen and Edinburgh, June 1 2023 for Glasgow, and May 30 2024 for Dundee.

Transport Scotland said the grace period will allow ample time for compliance. Enforcement of the LEZs will be facilitated by automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems.

Vehicles entering the LEZs will be required to meet the Euro VI standards. Those that do not meet the standards are not allowed in the LEZs.

Penalties for non-compliance will be cumulative. The first incident of non-compliance would result in a £60 fine. Subsequent violations will result in a fine double the previous one up to a maximum of £960. The fine is reduced by half if paid within two weeks. The starting fine is reset if there are no subsequent violations within a 90-day period.

There has been a low emission zone in Glasgow that applies to buses since 2018.

July 16, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , | 1 Comment

UK cautioned about military aid to Ukraine

Samizdat | July 2, 2022

Scottish and Welsh ministers have said the British government took their budget funds for military aid to Ukraine, voicing concerns that it could set a precedent. The Treasury has told Scotland and Wales to contribute to a £1 billion ($1.2 billion) weapons package or have their budgets reduced.

Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said on Wednesday that Scotland agreed to provide the £65 million ($78.7 million) funding but only “on this occasion”. She cautioned that “this must not be seen as any kind of precedent,” while Welsh Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said she had been forced to set aside £30 million ($36.3 million) intended for “devolved areas like health and education”.

Devolved areas of the UK are controlled by ministers in the national parliaments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Evans said it was “not right” to use their funds for military aid and defense, a non-devolved spending area. At the same time, she added that Wales will continue to provide humanitarian support for Ukrainians arriving in the country every day seeking refuge from the conflict.

The Scottish government said the money would be used to help fund “sophisticated air defense systems and thousands of pieces of vital kit for Ukrainian soldiers” in order to assist Kiev in fighting off Russia’s military offensive. Scotland has previously independently provided £4 million ($4.8 million) in basic humanitarian aid – health, water and sanitation and shelter – for Ukrainian refugees.

According to Welsh Education Minister Jeremy Miles, there was “no consultation” on the question of military aid, although a UK government spokesperson told the BBC it was incorrect “to say the Welsh government was not consulted… they were consulted and agreed to make a contribution.”

Simon Clarke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, asked the devolved administrations to contribute to a £1 billion fund to supply Ukraine with state-of-the-art equipment by either directly handing over the money from their budgets or by accepting a reduction from block grants they receive from Westminster.

The UK Treasury “strongly disagreed” with the Scottish minister’s characterization of the aid request, saying that various government departments had been urged to contribute through their underspend. It also refuted claims that the move constitutes a precedent for raiding devolved budgets for reserved spending areas. “This is a response to an extraordinary crisis”, the spokesperson was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph.

The British media has described the request as highly unusual, as such spending usually comes from Westminster.

The UK has been one of the strongest backers of Ukraine since the start of the Russian offensive four months ago. This week it promised to provide an additional £1 billion ($1.2 billion) to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces, taking the overall military aid given to Kiev to £2.3 billion ($2.8 billion).The package includes various types of weaponry, including M270 Multiple Launch rocket systems, light anti-tank weapons and armored vehicles.

Moscow has repeatedly warned against supplies of weapons to Ukraine from the US, UK and other allied nations, saying it will only prolong the fighting, while increasing the risk of a direct military confrontation between Russia and the West.

The concerns over devolved budget funds being used by the UK government came as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday a target date of October 19, 2023 for a second referendum on independence from the UK.

July 2, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Investigation Launched After ‘Mystery’ Surge in Deaths of Newborn Babies

By Paul Joseph Watson | Summit News | May 16, 2022

Health authorities in Scotland have launched an investigation after a mystery surge in deaths of newborn babies, the second time the phenomenon has been recorded in the space of six months.

A report by the Herald newspaper highlights the “very unusual” spike in deaths of babies, with the alarm being raised after 18 infants died within four weeks of birth in March.

That same control limit was also breached in September last year, when 21 neonatal deaths were reported, the first time this had occurred since records began.

“The neonatal mortality rate was 5.1 per 1,000 live births in September and 4.6 per 1,000 in March, against an average of 1.49 per 1000 in 2019,” reports the newspaper.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) said the deaths could not have been down to chance, while the cause behind the previous spike in September also “remained a mystery.”

The report notes that vaccination uptake has increased in expectant mothers and that COVID infections during pregnancy are associated with a higher chance of premature birth, but found no “direct link” between COVID surges and the deaths.

PHS Scotland says COVID infections “did not appear to have played a role” in the September spate of deaths.

Edinburgh University’s Dr. Sarah Stock said, “The numbers are really troubling,” but admitted she didn’t know the cause of the deaths.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

In a minority of one, the maskless would-be martyr

By Liz Hodgkinson | TCW Defending Freedom | January 17, 2022

As Nicola Sturgeon announces that the Scots may have to wear facemasks ‘for years to come’, all I can say is how glad I am that I don’t live in Scotland.

Since the new mask-wearing rules were introduced on November 30, I have refused to wear one and touch wood, fingers crossed, have got away with it.

In that time, I have been on buses, coaches, the London Underground, stayed in a hotel for three days over Christmas, been to the cinema and to the hairdresser, the beauty salon, nail bar and in many shops and supermarkets, blessedly mask-free. I have taken taxis all over the place. Only once have I been apprehended, and that was in Sainsbury’s, where a member of staff came up to me and asked: ‘Where is your mask, madam?’  I told him that I was medically exempt, and he nodded and went away.

In the hotel where I was staying, there were signs everywhere saying that masks were compulsory, and that anybody not wearing one may be reported to the authorities. Yet I did not wear one, nobody said anything and nor was I reported to the authorities.

I have also got away with not wearing a mask in a clinic where I went for hearing tests. I told the audiologist there that I didn’t believe in masks and he accepted it, although both he and the receptionist were wearing them, as were the other patients in the waiting room.

It is true that on buses I have been on the receiving end of some nasty stares, or as nasty as they can be when most of the faces and thus the expressions, of the other passengers, are hidden. It is also true that some people edge away from me as though I have got a deadly plague. My next-door neighbours, masked up to the eyeballs even when walking down the street, asked why I was not wearing a mask and I gave them the same response: ‘I am medically exempt.’  That, so far, has precluded further questioning although the truth is that I have exempted myself. I have no actual doctor’s exemption although if challenged, I have an exemption card in my wallet which I downloaded from a government site and which I can produce if demanded. So far, nobody has asked to see it.

The government website says quite plainly that if wearing a mask causes undue distress, you can exempt yourself from wearing one. In order to drive home the obvious fact that I am not wearing a mask, I make sure I am wearing bright red lipstick every time I leave the house. That way, I am making a clear statement that I am defying the rules and showing in no uncertain way that am proud to be mask-free.

We were warned that we could face on-the-spot fines of £200 if we refused to wear a mask on the London Underground. Since the end of November, I have taken the Tube many times, always maskless, and have never been confronted or asked to see proof of exemption. I decided that if I was fined, I would refuse to pay it and go to prison for my principles if it came to that. I would be a martyr for the cause! But none of the Underground staff has said a word and nor have any of the passengers. True, there are signs all over the place saying that masks are compulsory, both on trains and in stations, but I have just taken no notice.

The sad thing is that I seem to be in a minority of one. Everywhere I go, I am the only person, child or adult, who is not muzzled. It is monstrous that all secondary school pupils and children over the age of 11 have been told to wear masks in public indoor venues and on public transport. My neighbour, employed by Oxford University, says that she is required to wear a mask for work, even though most days she is the only person in the office. She also has to keep taking tests.

Actually, I am going further than not wearing a mask. I have never had a PCR or lateral flow test, not had the booster and am not going to have it, either in spite of Sir Chris Whitty telling me in the cinema that I must have it to protect myself and others. There are huge posters at bus stops and ads in every newspaper bullying me to get jabbed, but I ignore them all. And guess what? I have remained completely well, never had so much as a sniffle throughout all this so-called pandemic, while just about everybody I know who had had the jabs, the boosters, the tests and who never dares to venture out without a muzzle round their face, has had Covid or what passes for it. Most of my refusenik friends, the few I have left who are defying all the strictures, say the same.

The mask mandates in England at least are due to be reviewed on January 26 but if they are relaxed, as I expect them to be, I will place a bet here and now that the majority of people will continue to wear them and tell you that it is their choice. Such is the state of fear that governments don’t need to impose rules or threaten us with fines and imprisonment. We have become so cowed and terrified that we are imposing them on ourselves.

I just wonder how many people will be brave enough to defy the First Minister in Scotland, if she carries out her threat to make her compatriots wear masks for ever more?

January 18, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

Are Vaccines Driving Excess Deaths in Scotland, a Professor of Biology Asks

The Daily Sceptic • November 4, 2021

Professor Richard Ennos, a retired Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Edinburgh University, writes:

In Scotland this summer there has been excess mortality for the past 21 weeks with the total excess now exceeding 3,000 deaths. I and others have written to MSPs about the dreadful situation asking for a thorough analysis of what is responsible. In response we have been sent a reply from Anita Morrison, Head of Health and Social Care Analysis and Support, that I reproduce below. Five possible explanations are given, none of which reflect favourably on the Scottish Government’s public health policy. To paraphrase her reply, 45% are due to COVID-19 and the rest are accounted for by one or more of:

  1. COVID-19 deaths that were not recognised.
  2. Unintended consequences of the Scottish Government’s non-clinical response to COVID-19 (masks, social isolation etc.).
  3. Problems with access to the health and social care services (presumably due to Scottish government policy of withdrawing these).
  4. Patients not accessing services that were available (presumably because they were too scared of catching COVID-19 due to Scottish government exaggeration of the risks).
  5. Some other cause that has not been identified.

What follows is my reply to Anita Morrison to point out that her response is a damning indictment of Scottish Government public health policy whose outcome should ultimately be measured by the metric of excess deaths.

FAO: Anita Morrison
Head of Health and Social Care Analysis and Support
Directorate for Covid Public Health
Cc Dr. Gregor Smith, Jason Leitch, Caroline Lamb, Maree Todd MSP, Kevin Stewart MSP, Nicola Sturgeon MSP

28th October 2021

Dear Anita Morrison

Thank you for your response to my letter, originally addressed to Sarah Boyack MSP, concerning the unprecedented rise in excess deaths in Scotland this summer that continues as I write (252 excess deaths above five-year average in the past week 42, 24% higher than normal). It is now indisputable that some major health catastrophe is unfolding in Scotland this summer. It is clearly essential that there is serious scrutiny of the health policies that have been adopted by the Scottish Government that have led to this situation. To help with this I would like to look in some detail at the explanations that you have provided for the incredibly worrying situation, and set out the implications of what you have written.

In your response you have put forward the argument that some 45% of these excess deaths have been caused by Covid. This proposition relies on the assumption that all Covid deaths represent excess deaths, a position that is hard to sustain given that Covid deaths are associated with multiple comorbidities, and therefore are unlikely to be exclusively in addition to deaths that would have occurred anyway from other causes.

Setting aside this difficulty, and assuming that 45% of excess deaths are due to Covid, this indicates that the policies that have been pursued by the Scottish Government have been unsuccessful in controlling deaths from Covid this summer. This is in contrast to the summer of 2020 when there was no such excess of deaths due to Covid or any other cause. This increase in the impact of Covid in Scotland between the summers of 2020 and 2021 is nicely illustrated using National Records of Scotland data from the two years stratified by different age groups.

A simple and compelling explanation for these data is that a policy has been enacted in 2021 that was not enacted in 2020 that has caused a three- to six-fold increase in summer Covid hospitalisations. What could that be?

Let us now turn to the majority of excess deaths that cannot be accounted for by Covid. I will be using the most up to date figures from the National Records of Scotland for the summer period 2021 up to week 42 that indicate 3,028 excess deaths (rather than your figures that extend only to week 40). The National Records of Scotland classify these deaths according to their causes, location and age. This is illustrated below.

Here we see that Covid can actually account for a maximum of only 26% of excess deaths in summer 2021. Significant rises in cancer and circulatory deaths are concerning, but perhaps of greater note is that 44% of excess deaths come under the classification of ‘Other’. They are not the kinds of deaths that are readily classifiable into the normal categories that we expect in Scotland, or they would have been placed in those categories. It is therefore these ‘Other’ deaths, some 44% of the total, that we need to investigate in great detail.

From the other panels in the graph above we can see that these ‘Other’ deaths are occurring at home, implying that they are likely to have been sudden because there has been no hospital admission. Furthermore, these excess deaths are not confined to the oldest age groups, where we expect most deaths, but are extended into the younger age group. Analysis of the timing of this rise in excess death shows that it started in the oldest age group and is initiated sequentially in ever younger age groups (see graph below). This strongly suggests that there is some cause for these excess deaths at home that operates first in the elderly and works its way sequentially down the age groups in Scotland. What could this be?

Now let us look at the non-Covid explanations that you have provided for the dramatic increase in excess deaths in Scotland over the past summer.

Your first explanation is that the summer excess deaths recorded as non-Covid are actually due to Covid, but have not been certified as such. I see that you yourself are not convinced by this explanation given the level of testing that has taken place. However, let us suppose this to be true. In that case the Scottish Government’s public health measures that have been put in place in summer 2021 to prevent Covid have been far worse than those put in place in summer 2020 – indeed they have been disastrous.

Your second explanation is that the non-clinical responses to COVID-19 put in place by the Scottish Government (mask-wearing, social isolation etc.) have had unintended deleterious consequences on public health and have dramatically increased the rates of death in the Scottish population. This is an admission of abject failure of the Scottish Government’s public health response to Covid. Public health policy is all about balancing the benefits and risks of interventions to achieve the lowest possible impact during a health emergency. It is pertinent to remember that no benefit-risk assessment of non-clinical interventions on the physical and mental health of the Scottish population was conducted before these interventions were enforced.

Your third explanation is that there has been a problem with access to health and social care services, and patients have not received the care they required from the NHS. Access to these services over the past 20 months has been under the control of the Scottish Government, so if this explanation is correct, then the Scottish Government is culpable for increasing the death rate in Scotland. Numerous policies have been deliberately pursued to dramatically reduce GP face-to-face consultation, to cancel appointments and operations in hospitals etc., so the evidence to support this, as at least a partial explanation, is overwhelming.

Your fourth explanation is that individuals who are in poor health have not referred themselves to health and social care services as they would at other times. To some extent this would be confounded with Scottish Government policies of restricting health care provision discussed above. However there has also been a concerted and relentless media campaign by the Scottish Government to increase fear in the public, particularly fear of hospitals where they may catch Covid. This has meant that they have not gone for treatment when it was necessary. Whatever the proximal cause of failure to seek medical attention, the ultimate cause and responsibility lies in Scottish Government policy.

Your final explanation for the dramatic rise in excess deaths in summer 2021 is that there is some other cause that has not yet been identified. As noted earlier the phenomenon of excess deaths in the presence of a Covid epidemic was not seen in summer 2020, but is seen in summer 2021. What differs between the two years? The glaringly obvious answer is the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination. There was no COVID-19 vaccination programme in 2020, but there was rollout of Covid vaccinations in a sequential way to increasingly younger age groups in 2021, a pattern that we see in the manifestation of excess deaths. All of the COVID-19 vaccines are novel and experimental with no long-term safety data. They are now associated with a wide range of serious side-effects (blood clotting, myocarditis, Guillain-Barre syndrome) whose likely frequency in the wider population was not assessed in the small-scale phase one and two trials that included only a subset of healthy volunteers. The Yellow Card adverse events reporting system, that capture only a fraction of events, has already recorded over 1,700 deaths in the U.K. population associated with the COVID-19 vaccines. There is therefore a prima facie case for COVID-19 vaccination being a contributing factor to the dramatic rise in summer excess deaths in Scotland in 2021.

I am very grateful for your response to my original letter. It has been extremely helpful in crystalising my thoughts about the causes of the dramatic and continuing rise in excess deaths that we currently see in Scotland. My conclusion is that whatever the true explanation for the phenomenon, it is rooted in the misguided and disastrous public health policies of the Scottish Government. The analysis has moreover highlighted that a significant contributor to the excess death of the Scottish population this summer may be adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines, a factor that apparently has not occurred to either the Scottish Government or yourself. I would be grateful if you would pass on this insight to the Scottish Health minister so that unnecessary suffering and death is not meted out on the adults, and now children of Scotland.

Yours sincerely

Richard Ennos

November 4, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Alex Salmond declines to blame Russia for Salisbury incident

Press TV – April 7, 2021

The leader of the pro-independence Alba Party, Alex Salmond, has steadfastly refused to toe the British government’s line on the alleged poisoning of a Russian double agent in England in 2018.

Former Russian military intelligence officer, Segei Skripal, who betrayed his country by working for the UK’s MI6, was allegedly poisoned, alongside his daughter Yulia, with what the British government says was the Novichok nerve agent.

The alleged attack took place in the medieval cathedral city of Salisbury on March 04, 2018. Both Skripal and his daughter survived the alleged attack.

Speaking to BBC Good Morning Scotland on April 07, Salmond refused no less than four times to blame Russia for the alleged attack.

Faced by Salmond’s defiance, the show’s presenter, Gary Robertson, tried to undermine the former First Minister’s position by pointing out that he produces a show for the Russian TV network RT.

But Salmond hit back by saying: “I produce, along with Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, a program for Slainte Media which is then broadcast on the RT platform, as they’re perfectly entitled to do”.

“I can tell you from personal experience – I don’t know what your experience at the BBC is – not a single word of editorial instruction or even suggestion has been made to me from anyone at RT and the program stands on its own merits”, the former leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) added.

Salmond and fellow Alba Party candidate Ahmed -Sheikh (who is a former SNP MP), host “The Alex Salmond Show” each week on RT.

On another subject, Salmond suggested that evidence of Russian interference in recent US elections was “very slight”.

Salmond’s position on these sensitive issues will alarm the British establishment which has identified Russia as an “active threat” to UK national security in its newly-released Integrated Review of Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy.

Both the Alba Party and the SNP are committed to closing down the headquarters of the Royal Navy in Scotland.

The Faslane naval base, formally called Her Majesty’s Naval Base, Clyde, hosts the UK’s nuclear weapons capability.

April 7, 2021 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Plot meant to smear pro-Palestinian group exposed in Scotland

By Robert Carter | Press TV | September 9, 2020

A major scandal has come to light in Scotland. A fake anti-Semitic plot spearheaded by pro-Israel individuals aiming to smear a prominent pro-Palestine activists group, the “Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.”

The story turned on its head after the Law Society of Scotland fined a pro-Israel lawyer, Matthew Berlow, £500 for playing a key part in faking a graffiti attack on his own home and then placing full blame on the SPSC.

Luckily for the pro-Palestine activists, an investigation found that Berlow knew that an associate of his, pro-Israel former teacher Ed Sutherland, had created a fake Facebook identity under the name “Stevie Harrison” to infiltrate the SPSC in January last year.

And it was the imaginary “Stevie Harrison” who highlighted the vandalism on Berlow’s home in a Facebook post with the comments: A certain “Jewish lawyer” — referring to Barlow — woke up this morning to find ‘Free Palestine’ spray-painted on his home.

Berlow, knowing this to be a false attack, played the victim, claiming it was “typical SPSC behaviour.”

Speaking to members of the pro-Palestine group, they explain how these deceitful tactics are nothing new. These actions don’t sit too well given that allegations of Israeli activists weaponizing anti-Semitism against the Palestinian cause has been expressed many times, including in Britain’s biggest opposition party, the Labour Party, under former pro-Palestine leader Jeremy Corbyn.

September 9, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments

Former first minister of Scotland Alex Salmond cleared of sex assault charges

RT | March 23, 2020

Alex Salmond, former Scottish National Party leader and first minister of Scotland, has been acquitted of sexual assault charges by a jury at Edinburgh’s High Court.

After about six hours of deliberation, the jury found Salmond not guilty on 12 charges of attempted rape, sexual assault and indecent assault. A further charge, sexual assault with attempt to rape, was “not proven by majority.”

Salmond had denied all of the charges, which were made by nine women who are all either former Scottish government officials or SNP politicians, as “deliberate fabrications” for political purposes.

The allegations against the former first minister spanned a period of six years between 2008 and 2014.

The verdicts were read out after an 11-day trial. His defense team had argued that the charges had come from the same “political bubble” with no direct witnesses, and noted there had been inconsistencies in the testimonies of the women.

Two members of the jury were dismissed on Monday morning, apparently in relation to concerns over the Covid-19 outbreak, some reports said. The trial was also moved to a large courtroom due to fears around transmission of the virus.

March 23, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

A Window for Peace

By Craig Murray | January 8, 2020

There is this morning a chink of light to avoid yet more devastation in the Middle East. Iran’s missile strikes last night were calibrated to satisfy honour while avoiding damage that would trigger automatically the next round. The missiles appear to have been fitted out with very light warhead payloads indeed – their purpose was to look good in the dark going up into the night sky. There is every reason to believe the apparent lack of US casualties was deliberate.

Even more important was the Iraqi statement that “proportionate measures” had been “taken and concluded” and they did not seek “further escalation”.

I agree their response was proportionate and I would say that I regard the Iranian action so far, unlike the assassination of Soleimani by the US, legal in international law.

The entire world should congratulate Iran for its maturity in handling the illegal assassination of its General, who was on a peace mission, travelling as a civilian on a commercial flight, carrying a mediation message the US had been instrumental in instigating. If as seems possible the US actively manipulated the diplomatic process to assassinate someone on a diplomatic mission and traveling on a diplomatic passport, that is a dreadful outrage which will come back to haunt them. Life insurance rates for US diplomats no doubt just went up.

It is also worth noting the 2.8% rise in the Lockheed share price in the 24 hours immediately before the Soleimani assassination, outperforming the Dow about three times. That would bear investigation. Arms manufacturers and oil stocks have soared this last few days – and remember that nowadays the vast bulk of financial transactions are bets on the margins of movement, so vast fortunes will have been made out of all this.

The UK has been, as ever, complicit in US crimes. Our laughing called “defence” industry – when were its products last used in self-defence and not colonial adventure? – is tied in to and dependent on the US military machine. The current build-up of US troops and hardware in the Gulf has Mildenhall as a major staging post. We do not have to do this. Whether officially or on a pretext, French airspace was closed to the US military build-up and the Americans have had to fly from the UK, skirting France, around the Atlantic.

In a huge Boris Johnson slap in the face to international law, extra US bombers to attack Iran have been flown into Diego Garcia, in the Chagos Islands. You will recall that is where the UK committed genocide against the population in the 1970s to clear the way for the US military base. Last year, the UK lost a hearing before the International Court of Justice and was subsequently instructed by the UN to decolonise the islands and give them back to Mauritius by last November. The UK simply persisted in its illegal occupation and now is threatening the use of the islands as the base for yet another illegal and destabilising war.

That the UK is a permanent member of the UN security council is a disgrace which surely cannot endure much longer. What the current crisis has shown us is that under Johnson the UK has no future except as a still more compliant servant of whoever occupies the White House.

Wars are easy to start but hard to stop. Trump appears to have calmed, but we cannot rule out a stupid “last word” attack bu the USA. It is to be hoped that Iran now concentrates on using the immense political leverage it has gained to get western troops out of Iraq, which would be a tremendous result for all of us after 17 years. But we cannot rule out hotter heads in the Iranian government insisting on further attacks, or attacks from regional forces whose Tehran authorisation is uncertain. On either side this could yet blow up badly.

I am a sucker for hope, and the best outcome would be for the US and Iran to start talking directly again, and a deal to be made from this break in the logjam that is wider than, and Trump can portray as better than, “Obama’s” nuclear deal and would enable the lifting of sanctions. I am sure Trump will be tempted by the chance to go for this kind of diplomatic coup under the political cover provided him by Soleimani’s assassination. But the US is now so tied in to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and thus tied in to irrational hostility to Iran, that this must be extremely unlikely.

For those of us in Scotland, this is still more reason why Independence must be early. We cannot be tied in to a rogue state. As we march for Independence on Saturday, the potential for war in Iran gives the sharpest reminder why we must leave the UK and form our own, peaceful, law-abiding state.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

The beginning of the end of the United Kingdom

By Johanna Ross | December 20, 2019

Thursday was a busy news day, what with Trump’s impeachment and the Queen’s speech in Westminster, but another item given less coverage in UK mainstream media was arguably more significant than anything else making the headlines. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s speech, formally asking the UK Prime Minister to transfer the powers to hold a referendum on independence from Westminster to the Scottish parliament, may well go down in history as the beginning of the end of the United Kingdom.

Having bagged a landslide election victory, winning 48 out of the 59 seats in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has wasted no time in confronting Boris Johnson with what is, for him, an uncomfortable truth: that Scotland wants a second referendum on independence, and it’s not going to go away. Sturgeon’s rhetoric so far has been bold, saying that Scotland would not be ‘imprisoned’ inside the Union and that the UK government had to ‘confront reality’. On Thursday in her speech from Bute House she said her government now had an ‘unarguable mandate by any standards of democracy’ to hold another referendum on independence.

Alongside her letter to Boris Johnson requesting the powers to legally hold a second referendum under Section 30 of the 1998 Scotland Act, she published a 38 page document detailing proposed amendments to the statute, which would devolve the right to vote on leaving the UK to the Holyrood parliament. Entitled Scotland’s Right to Choose, the paper outlines her argument that there has been a “material change of circumstances” since the 2014 referendum, based on “the prospect of Scotland leaving the EU against its will and what EU exit has revealed about Scotland’s position within the UK”.

The Nationalists’ leader has a fair point. For we can debate about voters’ motivations till the cows come home, but facts are facts, and the fact remains that on 12th December the majority of Scots put their support behind a party which stands on an independence platform. Brexit hit Scotland twofold: it wasn’t simply the issue of leaving the EU itself which Scotland was against, but moreover this proud, northern nation has taken great exception to its views not being taken into account whatsoever in negotiations. In the draft Withdrawal Agreement there are umpteen mentions of Northern Ireland, but very little about how Scotland’s interests will be protected. The attitude has been something along the lines of ‘Scotland voted to remain in the UK in 2014 so it just has to put up with whatever Westminster decides’.

Indeed to say that Westminister is reluctant to grant another referendum is an understatement. Boris Johnson made it clear to Sturgeon in a telephone conversation last week that he was against it. This was reiterated by his minister Michael Gove this week when he said that there was ‘absolutely’ no prospect of the UK government ‘allowing’ another vote in the next five years. And herein lies the problem. For Westminster is always going to protect the Union, and oppose Scotland breaking away at all costs, as Spain has with Catalonia. Thinking that the EU would support Scotland when it hasn’t offered any help to Catalonia is futile.

Opponents are currently arguing that in fact, Sturgeon only won 45% of the vote last week, echoing the 2014 referendum result, and therefore, they suggest that there is no more appetite now than there was before. But one has to take into account the turnout for these two elections, and demographics. Many more people voted in the 2014 referendum than in last week’s election – 84% compared to 68%, and in particular, voters aged 16 and 17 were allowed to vote, as Scotland passed a law in 2014 allowing young people to do so in Scottish matters. Sturgeon knows that independence is popular amongst Scotland’s youth and therefore with the right campaign strategy, she must believe she can persuade young people to get out and vote for independence.

Sturgeon is careful. Independence activists have been calling on her for years now to demand a second referendum and she is regularly accused of even secretly not wanting independence herself. But clearly she has just been biding her time and her patience has paid off. She could not have chosen a better time now to call for indyref2, the momentum is behind her after the election, with the political divide between Scotland and England more stark than ever before. And Westminster’s obstinance could just play into her hands, as the more reluctant they are to grant the referendum, the more resentment towards them will build up north of the border. Johnson should be advised to grant Sturgeon’s wishes now, or risk fostering such levels of antagonism towards him and his government in Scotland, from which there would be no way back…

Johanna Ross is a journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

December 20, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 3 Comments

Scotland to push for second independence referendum post-election

By Johanna Ross | December 18, 2019

The Scottish independence movement has come a long way since I was a child. A few decades ago the Scottish National Party was on the fringes of politics and even when the Scottish parliament was founded, it was a Labour government at the helm. Independence was a distant dream, untouchable. It was even more intangible a prospect when my parents were young – back in the 1950s the SNP was as ostracised as the BNP currently is, with its members considered to be rather unhinged!

Gradually, over the decades, this has changed, with Alex Salmond presiding over the first ever SNP government and Nicola Sturgeon winning the largest number of seats ever for her party. Scotland’s party of independence has now been ruling the country for 12 years, and continues to dominate the political scene. On Thursday’s general election it won 47 out of 59 seats on a mandate of stopping Brexit and calling a second referendum on Scottish independence. Nicola Sturgeon has been labelled the UK’s second most powerful politician. Her party has never been as popular, and independence has never been so close. Now it seems the question is not if, but when.

Boris Johnson, having slaughtered Jeremy Corbyn in the election, is jubilant. He is currently coasting along on cloud nine, feeling vindicated after months of accusations hurled at himself and his ‘untrustworthy’ leadership. The man who just a short time ago, it was said, could face jail for deceiving the Queen and illegally proroguing parliament, took a gamble which paid off. He defiantly won the general election and now has a parliament behind him to pass his beloved Brexit bill.

And yet it’s not clear that he fully understands the implications of Thursday’s vote for the future of the Union. In fact it seems he is in denial. In a phone call with Nicola Sturgeon on Friday night Johnson reportedly emphasised that ‘he remained opposed to a second independence referendum’. But his words are not accepting the reality of the situation: that the majority of Scots have just voted decisively for the party which stands on an independence platform. And Sturgeon is not going to back down. In an interview on Sunday she said: “If he thinks – and I said this to him on Friday night on the telephone – that saying no is the end of the matter, he is going to find himself completely and utterly wrong.”

Sturgeon, usually mild mannered and reserved in her rhetoric on independence, has unequivocally turned up the volume in the debate, declaring that Scotland could not be “imprisoned” in the UK against its will. She accused the Tories of ignoring the will of the Scottish people and that they will have to ‘face up to and confront reality’ about what the election result means. In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday the Scottish First Minister expressed frustration that she was being forced to explain her position: “It really is such a subversion of democracy that you’re talking to the leader of the party that overwhelmingly won the election, and I’m under pressure to say what I’m doing because the mandate that I won is not going to be honoured by the party that got roundly defeated in Scotland”.

The independence campaign of course, narrowly lost in the 2014 referendum 45% to 55%. But so much has changed since then. At that time, the campaign for remaining in the Union was even using EU membership as an argument against independence, saying that Scotland would be jeopardising its future in the EU by leaving the United Kingdom. A few years later, the sad irony of this cannot be missed. Brexit has completely altered the political landscape in Britain, stirring up nationalism both north and south of the border. England has put Brexit before the United Kingdom, and Scotland has equally decided that its future remains with Europe, but not with England.

The Johnson government has a policy on Brexit, but its strategy on Scotland is less certain. Since the Prime Minister took office, his presence north of the border has been lacking, as has his interaction with Scottish politicians. Even his relationship with Scottish Tory leader, Ruth Davidson, was poor, as they had opposite views on Brexit. Johnson has deepened the hatred for the Conservative party in Scotland, estranging apathetic voters even further. By denying a second referendum he will only foster more bad feeling towards him and the Westminster government and boost the Nationalists’ campaign. If he doesn’t turn his attention to Scotland soon, he’ll have a Catalonia situation on his doorstep before he knows it…

Johanna Ross is a journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

December 18, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 1 Comment

UK election – victory for English Nationalism under the banner of Brexit

By Johanna Ross | December 13, 2019

Overnight the electoral map of the UK has changed significantly. Scotland is once again bathed in a sea of yellow, as England has been shrouded in blue. With the Scottish National Party obtaining 45% of the vote north of the border, and the Conservatives only 25% it is clear not only is there no mandate for Brexit in Scotland, but as leader Nicola Sturgeon has said, there is now very much a mandate for holding a second referendum on Scottish Independence.

England, on the other hand has put its support resoundingly behind Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his mantra of ‘Get Brexit Done’. With a remarkable 364 seats, as opposed to Labour’s 203 – its worst performance since 1935 – he proclaimed that a ‘political earthquake’ had occurred and that he would end all the squabbling of the last few years he would take the country out of the EU ‘no ifs and no buts’. This was a message that appealed to the majority, clearly sickened by the deadlock of Brexit. Despite the radical spending programme proposed by the Labour party, this election ended up being, as it was promoted, all about Brexit.

And this takes us to the broader context of what is in fact happening in the UK. Indeed, it’s important to see this election in the wider European political landscape. This was not just a Conservative party win, but a victory for nationalism. Not just Scottish Nationalism, but English Nationalism under the banner of Brexit, and Welsh and Irish Nationalism. For the first time ever, Northern Ireland elected more Nationalist MPs than Unionist, in what was also, like Scotland, an anti-Brexit vote, which will spur on more talk of Irish reunification. Welsh Nationalist party Plaid Cymru also held on to its four seats in Wales.

So while it may be portrayed as a landslide victory for the Conservatives, this election more than ever has shown up the cracks forming in the Union. Scottish Nationalism appears to be on an irreversible path to independence, with the question now being not if there will be a referendum on independence, but when. The strong Remain vote up north has only boosted the case for leaving the UK, as Scotland places more importance on being part of Europe, than being part of Britain. England, for its part, has clearly put more emphasis on being out of Europe, than it has on retaining the Union.

Indeed, looking at the western world in general, the popularity of nationalist and right-wing parties is undisputedly on the rise. The AfD in Germany, the National Front in France or Vox in Spain – these parties are all gaining popularity, just as Trump has in the US. And together with Johnson’s Conservatism, they all have something in common, that ‘populist’ appeal that really gets its message across. For regardless of their party leaders’ sins (Boris Johnson has been repeatedly been lambasted as a liar, racist, and misogynist), they have not been enough to deter voters, for whom clearly the nation state is what matters most.

There’s no doubt that Brexit has been a shock for the EU. Arguably Britain had always been a hesitant member, refusing to join the Euro, or join the Schengen zone (which allows borderless travel between states); it never quite developed that European mindset. But the Brexit vote took EU politicians by surprise, sending shockwaves across a Union already under pressure from Eurosceptic parties. They will no doubt breathe a sigh of relief in Brussels that the Brexit stalemate will now be broken with Boris Johnson’s parliamentary majority – finally a deal can be passed – but the reality that one of their major players finally leaving must be making them nervous.

Boris Johnson put faith in the people, and the gamble paid off. But whether he appreciates the real seismic consequences of this ‘political earthquake’ is another question. For cracks are not only emerging between Britain and Europe, but across the United Kingdom itself. It’s the price to be paid for Brexit.

Johanna Ross is a journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

December 13, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , | 2 Comments